jimmyakin.com/wp-content/uploads/herod-the-great-243x300.jpg The birth of Jesus Christ is tied to the death of Herod the Great. Here’s when that actually happened.
The Gospel of Matthew tells us that Jesus Christ was born in the final years of the tyrant known as Herod the Great.
He tells us that when Jesus was born, Herod panicked and had all the baby boys in Bethlehem killed.
Fortunately, the Holy Family escaped to Egypt and remained there until Herod was dead.
They didn’t have to stay long, though.
Here’s when Herod the Great actually died . . .
Setting Aside a Common Mistake
For just over a hundred years, the question of when Herod the Great died has been dominated by a proposal by the German scholar Emil Schurer.
He suggested that Herod died in 4 B.C., and this view took off in scholarly circles.
But in recent decades, it’s been challenged and, as we saw in a previous post, the arguments for this position are exceptionally weak.
So when did Herod *actually *die?
The Length of Herod’s Reign
Here is how the Jewish historian Josephus describes the timing of Herod’s death:
So Herod, having survived the slaughter of his son [Antipater] five days, died, having reigned thirty-four years, since he had caused Antigonus to be slain, and obtained his kingdom; but thirty-seven years since he had been made king by the Romans *War of the Jews,1:33:8 (665); cf. *Antiquities of the Jews17:8:1 (191)].
In this place, Josephus dates Herod’s death by three events:
*]Five days after the execution of his son Antipater.
*]Thirty-four years after he “obtained his kingdom” (i.e., conquered Jerusalem and had its Hasmonean king, Antigonus, killed).
*]Thirty-seven years after “he had been made king by the Romans.”
[/LIST]The death of Antipater isn’t a particularly helpful clue, but the two ways of reckoning the length of his reign are.
First, though, we need to answer one question . . .
How Is Josephus Counting Years?