Evidence for the "Holy Innocents"?


#1

“Then Herod perceiving that he was deluded by the wise men, was exceeding angry; and sending killed all the men children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the borders thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias the prophet, saying: A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. But when Herod was dead, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph in Egypt, Saying: Arise, and take the child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel. For they are dead that sought the life of the child.” Matthew 2:16-20

Is there evidence outside the Gospel; of Herod’s slaughter of the “Holy Innocents”?


#2

I was told in Bethlehem that in a cave under the city, the bones of hundreds of small children (and a number of adults) were found in the 1900s, dating to our LORD’s day.

This may however be tourist spiel, as I have not researched this.

ICXC NIKA


#3

And, as far as I’m concerned, our wonderful “Pro-Choice” (really Pro-Death) crowd are modern-day King Herods.


#4

Some have asserted that, since Bethlehem would have had only around 1000 inhabitants at that time, there would have only been on the order of 20 (or less) children killed by this decree of Herod. Hardly something that we might expect to see historians include in their commentaries, especially given the fact that Herod’s mania gave rise to much greater shocking episodes (such as, for example, the execution of his son).

So, the ‘lack of evidence outside the Gospel’ doesn’t really demonstrate the unreasonableness of the historicity of this event…


#5

the decree included the surrounding villages and area. Not sure where you got your estimate of 20 from but whether it was 20 or 200 or even 2, one baby boy murdered is one too many.


#6

True; but that wasn’t the question. Rather, the question is whether (and if not, then why not) there was some sort of official notice of this event. If Herod decreed the execution of 20 Jewish babies in Bethlehem, this would be heinous – but, would it be recorded in secular histories? Would a lack of such record imply the ahistoricity of the event described in Matthew?

It would seem that, even in the absence of an extant historical record, it would be overly ambitious to presume that this lack implies that the event in Matthew is not historical.


#7

so we can’t trust the Bible as historical? is that what you are saying? just because there isn’t some written official decree that we have our hands on doesn’t mean that this didn’t happen because I can trust the Bible and it is written in there. Considering how subsequent rulers liked to redo history of their predecessors and I am sure this was very controversial at the time, wouldn’t it be possible that such official decrees be destroyed to cover it up?


#8

Another thought is that these murders was probably done very quickly and by surprise which means that some written decree ahead of time would have ruined the secretive nature of this evil. I think again we are putting our modern understanding which includes written memos etc on an ancient dictatorship of sorts where commands were more verbal than written down. Some kind of written document can be leaked out and warning people that at 2pm solders are coming. St. Joseph got up in the middle of the night to escape. Again I’m not sure stating there were probably 20 boys killed means anything, there is no proof of that either. And even such speculation belittles the evil and loss. “well it was about 20 babies, so what.” is the attitude that can result of this. I can trust the accuracy of the Bible not modern speculation and fantasies.


#9

That is one aspect I wonder about, since the Gospel says Bethlehem and the Borders. What is meant by borders? How far did this slaughter go?


#10

Actually I expected to see it in Josephus’ History works, but there is no mention of this in his writings. Even though he covers numerous crimes form Herod, like Herod’s plan to have a slaughter of young men after his death. So that people would remember him, and mourn at this event!!! He obviously wasn’t popular.

Also wondering how Herod managed this, without provoking a revolt, or invasion from other countries seeing his shaky reign.


#11

Huh? No… where’d you get that from?

just because there isn’t some written official decree that we have our hands on doesn’t mean that this didn’t happen

Again, that’s not what I’m saying, and it’s not what the OP had asked, either. Rather, the question was “do we see evidence of this anywhere but the Gospel account?” (Not “is this untrue because we don’t have other evidence?” or “is the bible untrustworthy?”, just “is there evidence elsewhere, too?”)

Considering how subsequent rulers liked to redo history of their predecessors and I am sure this was very controversial at the time, wouldn’t it be possible that such official decrees be destroyed to cover it up?

Hmm… whether it’s possible or not, it would seem to be impossible to prove, right?


#12

Apparently, a pagan author named Macrobius wrote a book in the 400s that included some comments about Roman history. In it he makes this comment: Cum audisset inter pueros quos in Syria Herodes rex Iudaeorum intra bimatum iussit interfici filium quoque eius occisum, ait: Melius est Herodis porcum esse quam filium." (Macrobius, Saturnalia Book 2 Chapter 4 Verse 11 source). This apparently translates to: When [emperor Augustus] heard that among the boys in Syria under two years old whom Herod, king of the Jews, had ordered to kill, his own son was also killed, he said: it is better to be Herod’s pig, than his son." The Protoevangelium of James also mentions that the child John the Baptist had to be protected from a massacre by Herod, and there is every indication that it was the same one, because the same text says Mary fled with Jesus at the same time: And when Herod knew that he had been mocked by the Magi, in a rage he sent murderers, saying to them: Slay the children from two years old and under. And Mary, having heard that the children were being killed, was afraid, and took the infant and swaddled Him, and put Him into an ox-stall. And Elizabeth, having heard that they were searching for John, took him and went up into the hill-country. (Protoevangelium of James 22 source)


#13

We’re told Christ was crucified, but so were a lot of other people. According to the link below, " the Roman general Titus, at one point, crucified five hundred or more Jews a day. In fact, so many Jews were crucified outside of the walls that “there was not enough room for the crosses and not enough crosses for the bodies”.

But if Josephus hadn’t written about it, would we even have any record of this particular event, which probably far outnumbered the slaughter of the innocents?

It also gives some idea of how cheaply life was regarded in those days. Not that we’re any better with our new hidden holocaust of abortion. It’s just less visible.

orlutheran.com/html/crucify.html

How common was crucifixion in the ancient world? Quite common, at least among the Romans. Though Roman law usually spared Roman citizens from being crucified, they used crucifixion especially against rebellious foreigners, military enemies, violent criminals, robbers, and slaves. In fact slaves were so routinely crucified that crucifixion become known as the “slaves’ punishment” (servile supplicium; see Valerius Maximus 2:7.12). Appian tells us that when the slave rebellion of Spartacus was crushed, the Roman general Crassus had six thousand of the slave prisoners crucified along a stretch of the Appian Way, the main road leading into Rome (Bella Civilia 1:120). As an example of crucifying rebellious foreigners, Josephus tells us that when the Romans were besieging Jerusalem in 70 A.D. the Roman general Titus, at one point, crucified five hundred or more Jews a day. In fact, so many Jews were crucified outside of the walls that “there was not enough room for the crosses and not enough crosses for the bodies” (Wars of the Jews 5:11.1).

This also indicates why Christ told the women not to weep for him, but to weep for themselves and their children. But again there’s not a lot of historical evidence.


#14

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