The Herodium is partly man-made and the biggest mausoleum in the Holy Land atop of the Judean Desert. In 200, Professor Ehud Metzer found the tomb of Herod and his wife Myriam during excavations of Herodium.

The palace has a breathtaking view and great vantage point expanding across the Judean Desert. The complex was meticulously planned including a great palace, fortifications with impressive pools and gardens, a bath house and guest accommodations. 

It was Flavius Joseph who described the burial place of Herod to be at Herodium two thousand years ago.


One of his fortresses, the Herodium, was within sight of Bethlehem, and he may have dispatched guards from there. Jewish people saw infanticide (killing babies) as a hideous, pagan act; normally applied by the Romans to deformed babies, it had also been used to control oppressed populations (Ex 1:16; 1 Macc 1:60-61; 2 Macc 8:4). Like Moses, Jesus escaped the fate of other male babies (Ex 1:22-2:10), and some Jews were expecting the coming of a prophet “like Moses” (Deut 18:15, 18).

Jeremiah 31:15 refers to the figurative weeping of Rachel, who was buried in Bethlehem (Gen 35:19). Jeremiah said she mourned for her descendants carried off into captivity during the Babylonian exile. Like righteous Jeremiah, Jesus was carried off to Egypt, but Rachel had cause to mourn anew at Herod’s murder of her people.

Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993, 51.

So there was an acclamation made to Archelaus, to congratulate him upon his advancement; and the soldiers, with the multitude, went round about him in troops, and promised him their good will, and besides, prayed God to bless his government. After this they betook themselves to prepare for the king’s funeral; (1.33.9) and Archelaus omitted nothing of magnificence therein, but brought out all the royal ornaments to augment the pomp of the deceased. There was a bier all of gold, embroidered with precious stones, and a purple bed of various texture, with the dead body upon it, covered with purple; and a diadem was put upon his head, and a crown of gold above it, and a scepter in his right hand; (1.33.9) and near to the bier were Herod’s sons, and a multitude of his kindred; next to whom came his guards, and the regiment of Thracians, the Germans also and Gauls all accoutred as if they were going to war; (1.33.9) but the rest of the army went foremost, armed, and following their captains and officers in a regular manner; after whom, five hundred of his domestic servants and freedmen followed, with sweet spices in their hands; and the body was carried two hundred furlongs to Herodium, where he had given order to be buried. And this shall suffice for the conclusion of the life of Herod.

War 1:670–673 JOSEPH

A main attraction in the park is the Colt house, used by the archeologists led by H. Colt (son of the famous American gun manufacturer), who dug at Shivta from 1933 to 1934. Over the entrance is an inscription in ancient Greek that translates: “With good luck. Colt built (this house) with his own money.”

Houses at Avdat and Shivta used arches that came out from the walls to form the roof. After placing thin slabs of limestone over the arches, the builders plastered the entire roof. In the lower city of Jerusalem, houses constructed with small stones were crowded closely together. Yet they still maintained small courtyards.

“ARCHITECTURE,” Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, paragraph 1506.


The blessing and curse here have played out repeatedly in history. The nations or groups (plural: “those”) who have blessed Abram or his descendants have been blessed by God. The individuals (singular: “him”) who have cursed Abram or Israel have been “cursed,” coming eventually to a bad end. This, however, is not a blank check for the actions of unbelieving Israel, as if the nation could do no wrong or deserves no criticism or has no accountability for its actions. It is a general ongoing promise. Acts 3:25 and Gl 3:8 indicate that all the families of the earth are blessed in the availability of salvation through Jesus Christ, and Gl 6:16 refers to the church as “the Israel of God” through which, by implication, that blessing is extended.

Ted Cabal, ed., The Apologetics Study Bible, Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007, paragraph 712.

In referring to “the people [Abram] had acquired in Haran” the Bible is not sanctioning slavery. “Acquired” may refer to household servants, which wealthy families of the era had, rather than to slaves. Furthermore, even characters whom the Bible views favorably do not always act in accordance with what God approves. In evaluating their actions, we must recall that God did not reveal His will in its entirety at the beginning, but rather gradually throughout the course of biblical history. Biblical narrative often conveys the divine and human authors’ evaluation of a character’s actions implicitly rather than explicitly, not by denouncing the actions but by recording their outcome. The disgrace resulting from Abram’s lie in verses 12–13 is an example of this.

Some have supposed the note “At that time the Canaanites were in the land” (see note on 13:7) means that in the author’s day they were no longer there. If so, Moses could not be the author. But “that time” is clearly not being contrasted to the author’s time but to Abram’s time. The point is that when God made His promise to Abram the land was already occupied.

Ted Cabal, ed., The Apologetics Study Bible, Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007, paragraph 713-714.