Herod the Great
Gloucester. Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous. (Shakespeare: Richard III)
All empires are founded, in the long run, on blood. Whether it be Augustus Caesar, Alexander, Nebuchadnezzar, or even Victoria, blood gets spilled in establishing and maintaining the empire. The more extensive the empire, the more blood gets spilled, and this is especially so when the emperor is a tyrant.
For a tyrant like Herod, bloodshed was the first solution that presented itself. It didn’t matter whether it was a stranger’s or members of his own family (“I would rather be Herod’s pig than Herod’s son,” Augustus quipped), the spilling of blood solved all sorts of problems—or so it seemed.
When the Magi came from the East, Herod was troubled “and all Jerusalem with him.” When, despite their best efforts, Herod discovered that Bethlehem was the source of his trouble, he acted. The blood of innocent children was shed so that Herod, the King of the Jews, need no longer be troubled by a new “King of the Jews.”
This miraculous birth was the dreaded event that Herod had waited for all his life. This was how he solved it. Blood was this tyrant’s ultimate solution—which was not really a solution. But Herod didn’t know, couldn’t know that. The King of the Jews died in agony not long after the event.
Give us the strength, most gracious God, to fearlessly contend against tyranny in all its aspects, and to discern the reality of the evil that lies behind the mask of virtue, that we may ever witness to Your mighty power for good, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.