To view "Two
Very Different
Houses" click

here.
To view "
The Empty
Tombs,"
click
here.

To read "In
Search of
Lazarus,"  
click
here.
To view
"Caesarea
Maritima as
Known to  Saint
Paul," click
here.
WANGNEWS SERVICE
To read "A
Reflection of
Jerusalem & the
New Jerusalem
from the Ground,"  
click
here.

To view Group
photos of
Cincinnati
Pilgrims in
Jerusalem  
click
here.
To view
"Confession of a
Gentile in
Jerusalem: The
Paradox of the 5
Shekel Blessing,"
click
here.
To view "Into
the Heat of
the Hebron
Cauldon,"
click
here.
To view
"Pilgrimage
to Bethlehem,
Birthplace
of Jesus,"
click
here.
To view "The
Garden of
Gethsemane
and Church of
All Nations,"
click
here.
THE HERODION - A FORTRESS DURING THE TIME OF THE GOSPELS
Ancient Greek: Ἡρώδειον; Hebrew: הרודיון‎, Arabic: هيروديون‎, Jabal al-Fraidees
An Independent Source of News & Views
CLICK ON ANY PHOTO FOR LARGER VIEW
CLICK ON ANY PHOTO FOR LARGER VIEW
This is a rare Fisheye View around the top of Herodion, illustrating the command of the countryside  afforded by the
Fortress, then during the time of the Herods (before the time of satellites) and now -  the 3 large telephoto thumbnails
below the Fisheye show details of the Israel Defense Forces installation currently at the foot of Herodion.
KING HEROD THE GREAT (reigned 37- 4 BCE),
besides having infamous mention in the Synoptic
Gospels, is remembered historically for his
ambitious construction projects, including the
enlargement of the
Jerusalem Temple,  Caesarea
Maritima, and Herodion.  Herodion is one of a
number of dynastic fortresses going back to the
Hasmoneans, and it is located about 7 miles south
of Jerusalem, near the town of Bethlehem.   In 40
BCE, Herod when fleeing to Masada during the
Parthian invasion of Syria, fought and won a battle
against the Parthians. Later, the Jewish chronicler
Flavius Josephus, writing Hebrew history for the
Romans, reported that Herod "built a town on that
spot in commemoration of his victory, and
enhanced it with wonderful palaces... and he called
it Herodion after himself"
The Wars of the Jews I,
Chapter 13.  

Josephus provides additional details:  "This
fortress, which is some sixty stadia distance  from
Jerusalem, is naturally strong and very suitable for
such a structure, for reasonably nearby is a hill,
raised to a (greater) height by the hand of man and
rounded off in the shape of a breast. At intervals it
has round towers, and it has a steep ascent formed
of two hundred steps of hewn stone. Within it are
costly royal apartments made for security and for
ornament at the same time. At the base of the hill
there are pleasure grounds built in such a way as to
be worth seeing [see thumbnails to upper right],
among other things because of the way in which
water, which is lacking in that place, is brought in
from a distance and at great expense. The
surrounding plain was built up as a city second to
none, with the hill serving as an acropolis for the
other dwellings."
The Wars of the Jews I, 21, 10;
Antiquities of the Jews XIV, chapter 13.9).

The site also featured a Galilean (north country)
style synagogue furnished with stone benches
between aisle and wall, and columns which
supported the roof; it is pre-70 CE and one of the
oldest in Israel.

The Mystery of Herod's Tomb

Herodion also served as a favorite personal abode
(cf. a medieval European
chateau) and when Herod  
died of a painful disease shortly after the birth of
Jesus, it is generally accepted that he was buried
here amidst great pomp.  The mystery of the
location of Herod's tomb appeared to be solved
when in 2007-08,
Professor Ehud Netzer of the
Hebrew University in Jerusalem uncovered a rare
ornate sarcophagus made of red limestone
decorated with rosettes on the sides (which h
ad
been desecrated within a few generations after
burial), and mausoleum embedded on the
northeastern side of the hill, above the nearby water
cisterns and tunnels, halfway up to the top of
Herodion.  The mausoleum is accessed via a grand
processional staircase.  The Tomb Estate is visible
to people climbing the path up to the citadel built
into the volcano crater-like top.  Unfortunately, Prof.
Netzer died of injuries from a fall at the excavation
site on October 25, 2010.

After the death of Herod, the rather unpopular
Hellenized vassal of Rome, his kingdom was
divided among his many sons including Herod
Antipas, who continued to capitalize on the security
afforded by these fortresses against charismatic
opponents of their rule.  For example:

The Beheading of John the Baptist

"For Herod [Antipas] had arrested John, bound him,
and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his
brother Philip’s wife,* because John had been
telling him, ‘It is not lawful for you to have her.’
Though Herod [Antipas] wanted to put him to death,
he feared the crowd, because they regarded him as
a prophet.  But when Herod’s birthday came, the
daughter of Herodias [generally thought to be
Salome] danced before the company, and she
pleased Herod so much that he promised on oath to
grant her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her
mother, she said, ‘Give me the head of John the
Baptist here on a platter.’ The king was grieved, yet
out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he
commanded it to be given; he sent and had John
beheaded in the prison."   
Matthew 14:1-10.

The prison and place of execution of John the
Baptist is recorded by Joesphus to be another
family fortress known as Machaerus, east of the
Jordan. The ruins of Machaerus bear similarities
with Herodion, as does its more famous sibling,
mighty and fabled Masada near the Dead Sea.

The fortified Herodion was surrendered in 71 CE to
the Romans at the end the Jewish Uprising (cf. the
storming of Fortress of Masada and the destruction
of the Jerusalem Temple).  See, Josephus,
The
Wars of the Jews
VII, Chapter 6  Par. 1 (Josephus
himself surrendered the Galilean troops under his
command to Vespasian).   Later, during the ill-fated
Bar Kokhba Revolt (132-136 CE), the fortification
was seized by Simon as a secondary center of
operations.

The sun-bleached photos on this webpage of the
ruins of this once opulent home and acropolis of
Herod the Great was taken on April 16, 2010.  A
necessity when exploring any of the ruins in the
Holy Land is to locate and examine the well, as
every settlement must have a source of water and
secure channeling, without which there can be no
life.   The 4 photos immediately to the left show the
pool and tunnels of Herodion, some of which were
built by Zealots during the Bar Kokhba Revolt.   
Centuries later, the site was settled by Christian
monks up to the time of  the Caliphate when it fell to
extended ruin.

The stronghold of Herodion stands at an elevation
of 2,487 feet above sea level and affords a
commanding view of the surrounding countryside.   
The military value of the site was well recognized by
Herod the Great over two thousand years ago.  
Today, Herodion lies in the Israeli occupied part of
the Palestinian West Bank and the neighborhood
has its share of tension and troubles.  Presently, the
Israel Defensive Forces maintain a light mobile
depot at the foot of Herodion.  This field installation
can be viewed from the top of hill in the 3 large
thumbnails below the fisheye photo (click on each
for larger picture).  4/27/2011.
Herodion   Mother
Nursing her Baby
To read "The
Wilderness
of Abraham,
Jesus & Israel-
Palestine,"
click
here.
Photography on this page by Charleston C. K. Wang, Shirley Wang, or Arthur Wang
Copyright 2010-2012 All Rights Reserved Charleston C. K. Wang, Esq., Publisher

"They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, ‘Peace, peace’, when there is no peace. "  Jeremiah 6:14.
<EXCAVATION SITE OF HEROD'S TOMB
SECURITY CHECKPOINT
TO THE PATH TO TOP
        V
FALL HAZARD
WARNING
V
TELEPHOTO VIEW OF
THE EXCAVATION SITE
OF HEROD'S TOMB
To view "In Search
of the Messianic
Secret - Caesarea
Phillipi," click
here.
To view "The
Call for Simon
Peter, Fisherman,"
click
here.
To read
"Descending
to the Dead
Sea and
Ascending to
Qumran,"  
click
here.
To read
"Jury for
Jericho,"
click
here.
SECURITY CHECKPOINT
TO THE PATH TO TOP
      V
The Pleasure Palaces
The Citadel
The Country Below
Going down into the
Cistern
A Cistern or was it an indoor
swimming pool?
The steps suggest the water
level varied quite a bit.