Glimpses of Israel - Herodium

by Joseph Hunting

There are still a few reminders in Israel of the genius of Herod the Great. One can see traces of the grandeur of his architecture in the Citadel by the Jaffa Gate, the Western Wall that has withstood the ravages of earthquake and war for two thousand years, the palace which he built on the precipitous crags of Massada, the Tomb of the Patriarchs at Hebron, and last, but certainly not the least spectacular is Herodium in the Judean wilderness.

Although he had no lack of palaces Herod chose this steep cone-shaped hill with a magnificent view for miles in all directions that was to serve as palace and fortress in times of revolt.

Excavations have revealed that Herod lavished upon himself luxury that would be extravagant even by today's standards.

Herodium was one of three remote fortresses that held out against the Romans after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Finally, the famous tenth Legion under the Command of Lucilius Bassus captured the fortress.

Apart from the Western Wall the Romans left little evidence of Herod's architectural genius in Jerusalem. Only what they left at Herodium and Massada that have withstood the ravages of time reveal something of the building prowess that gave to him the name, Herod the Great.