I remember the day in May 2007 when Professor Ehud Netzer, an archeologist from the Hebrew University, announced the discovery of Herod’s Tomb among the ruins of the Herodium, a man-made mountain fortress built about 3 miles southeast of Bethlehem.
The emotions surrounding the announcement remind me of what Matthew tells us about the day Herod and all Jerusalem were troubled by rumors that a delegation of stargazers from the East had shown up in town saying they had come to honor the birth of the king of the Jews (Matthew 2:2-3).
Jerusalem already had a king. Though tyrannical and self-absorbed, he had leveraged his relationship with Caesar, the Roman Senate, and the religious leaders of Jerusalem to give the people of Judea a temple-to-die-for, a misleading understanding of religious freedom, temporary political standing, and a series of ambitious building projects that included several fortresses designed to give his family protection in the event of an insurrection.
We remember him as Herod the Great while telling the story of a child who would live in obscurity— until showing Jerusalem and the world what real hope and greatness look like.