Will the Real King Herod Please Stand Up?

Jewish history largely remembers King Herod as a cruel tyrant who suffered from mental illness. But in her biography of the 1st-century, B.C.E., Roman ruler of the Land of Israel, Mireille Hadas-Lebel makes the distinction between his dysfunctional family life and his professional accomplishments

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Yaacov Shavit
Yaacov Shavit

In 1895, the Hebrew-language newspaper Hamelitz, which was published in St. Petersburg, serialized a translation of a book by the Ukrainian-Russian writer Daniil Lukich Mordovtsev, titled “Herod: His Foundation Story in the Historical Chronicles.” It was the first biography of Herod to appear in Hebrew, and the newspaper felt it necessary to edit the text in order to underscore Herod’s negative image.

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