Herodion National Park.
(photo credit: Shmuel Bar-Am)
King Herod knew exactly where he wanted to spend eternity: on a mountain in the
wilderness where he had won a battle with the Parthian (Iranian) army in 40 BCE.
After his victory, Herod fled to Rome, where an impressed Senate crowned him
king of Israel. With the help of the Roman army, he took complete control of the
country three years later.Fortunately for the king, when the end came in
4 BCE after a debilitating illness, his son Archelaus carried out his father’s
wishes. At the funeral he “omitted nothing of magnificence...
there was a
bier all of gold, embroidered with precious stones, and a purple bed of various
contexture, with the dead body upon it, covered with purple; and a diadem was
put upon his head, and a crown of gold above it... the body was carried two
hundred furlongs, to Herodium, where he had given order to be buried.” (Josephus
Flavius, Wars of the Jews, I 673). Today Herod’s Herodium is located inside
Herodion National Park, just a seven-minute drive on a new road leading from
Jerusalem’s Har Homa neighborhood. An astonishing archeological site complete
with a labyrinth of cool underground caves, the park recently opened a small
visitors’ center with a new production about King Herod and his funeral
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