Herod’s Tomb Discovered

While everybody has been discussing the PBS film on Mormons, a recent archaeological discovery in Israel might be of some interest: Herod’s tomb has been found. Unfortunately, no body was found, but the excavators at the site are quite sure that the tomb does indeed belong to Herod.

Herod is that bad guy in Matthew that you’ve all read about – the infanticidal maniac who “pharoah-ed up” and thought he could rid the Jewish faith of its Davidic Messiah (a threat to his seat within the Empire) by slaughtering all the babes of Jesus’ would-be neighborhood. Luckily Joseph and Mary bolted just in time, Jesus was born, lived, died, and here you are now gathering up precious pearls of truth. Well, add one more pearl of great price to your necklace: Herod was probably a real guy.

Not that I doubt the historicity of the NT per se; I actually find it more historically entrenched than the OT, but I suspect that the infanticide about which we read in Matthew may have been an invention of sorts so that it fit with the Exodus tradition – Matthew seems to coincide his account of Jesus with Moses on several levels – macro and micro. Regardless, I think it’s cool that they concluded that this is Herod even without finding a body.

So rejoice, ye Mormons, for one more artifact has been dug up which ads a kernel of rationality to your faith – which is a good thing.

12 Replies to “Herod’s Tomb Discovered”

  1. Wouldn’t hurt. I mean, isn’t that what standing before God at the last day is all about? Isn’t that what a literal resurrection is intended to do (in part)? If the entire eternities are one big faith-game, then I’m out. Now, where’s my lightning rod…? 😉

  2. Now, where’s my lightning rod…?

    hehehe… Thanks for the good laugh. 😉

    the infanticide about which we read in Matthew may have been an invention of sorts so that it fit with the Exodus tradition

    I must be slow today, because I don’t know what you’re talking about. Could you explain the links between the two events for me please?

  3. Pharoah had all the young babies killed in order to stop the spread of the Hebrews in Egypt. Herod had all the young babies in Jesus’ hometown killed in order to stop the potential takeover of his thrown from a Jewish Messiah.

  4. Oh… Duh.

    When I first read what you said, the only thing that came to my head was the death-of-all-the-first-borns plague. Thanks for clearing it up for me.

  5. The problem with Herod’s Tomb being found is that Jesus’ “Tomb” was just “found”, so it’s hard not to be skeptical.

  6. Two words: Controlled Excavation. That, and we have just a tad more archaeological information for the material existence of a Herod. Oh, and it was found at Herod’s fortified palace called Herodium.

  7. Didn’t the “infanticide” go on for a couple of years? Would that suggest then, that Jesus didn’t have many like-aged peers? (not counting immigrants)

  8. I don’t have the text in front of me, but if I recall, it doesn’t specify a time period. I suspect it doesn’t simply because Pharaoh’s infanticide was a singular event, and if Matthew is trying to line the stories up, he might not have mentioned a timeframe either. Regardless, as I stated earlier, the historicity of the infanticide is still questionable.

    Actually, maybe somebody can confirm this too. I was reading something few years ago (“Holy Blood, Holy Grail” maybe?) which stated that the archaeology of Bethlehem for the time of Herod shows that it was barely on the map, something like only 50 people at the time of Jesus’ birth.

  9. I was going to say that I have been hearing for a couple years now that Bethlehem was barely a spit on the map at the time and that if it really did happen it isn’t likely to have made much of an impact in the historical record, especially considering the atrocities of Herod that it has to compete with. But it is a pretty fantastical coincidence and Matt was clearly trying to out Moses Moses with Jesus.

  10. He wasn’t “outing” Moses. Quite the opposite. The story of Matthew is intended to resonate within the reader the familiarity of the Moses story, not “out” it. If anything, he paints us a picture using the same canvas and color upon which the picture of Exodus was painted, and that is supposed make the reader, for lack of a better word, grin. Frankly I find it frickin’ cool myself.

  11. No, no, you misunderstand. Probably because I didn’t explain myself well. He’s trying to “out Moses Moses” by being so like him that when people read about Jesus all they can think of is how much like Moses this guy is. So I agree entirely with you.

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