Back in September, I had the privilege of riding out and seeing the Herodium. (Unfortunately, time did not allow us to take a detailed tour of it. But, it's on my bucket list.) What is the Herodium? Around 40BC, Herod the Great was fleeing to his mountain resort palace of Masada. As he was traveling, he battled the Parthians at a location about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) south of Jerusalem. Upon being victorious, King Herod decided to build a huge fortress and palace at the location and named it after himself. He had thousands of cubic meters of dirt moved and used that to form a large, conical shaped mountain. On the top, he built a large palace. The palace was later destroyed by the Romans in 71AD. The Herodium is never mentioned in the Bible. However, it is visible from many kilometers away in almost every direction. No doubt, it was seen by Jesus, his disciples and all of the people that lived in the area of Jerusalem and Bethlehem at that time.
Why would you want to spend time learning about the Herodium if it is not mentioned in the Bible? Well, because it teaches is about the time in which Jesus lived. Herod the Great lived just before and during the early years of Jesus' life. He had a powerful influence in the region. He constructed huge buildings and temples in Jerusalem, Samaria, Caesarea Maritima, Caesarea Philippi, Jericho and many other cities. He also built palaces at remote locations like Masada and the Herodium.
By looking and studying something like the Herodium, you understand more about King Herod. He was a self-absorbed ruler that would do whatever he wanted. He would spend a lot of money to build huge temples in an attempt to honor and appease his superiors in Rome. He would build huge palaces that were for his own pleasure. (And even name them after himself.) Once you understand a little more about the Herodium, is it surprising to read in Matthew 2:16 how he reacted to hearing that his throne may be threatened? Not really.
To visit the Herodium, travel about 8 miles south of Jerusalem on Highway 398.