Herodian Typecasting, Part 3

Herod as "Jacob" and "Shiloh"

In architecting his own kingly persona Herod could draw upon sages from Egypt to Babylon, from Arabia to Greece, and even beyond. He was able thereby to gain an understanding of Messianic kingship that would have utterly confounded the parochial priests of Jerusalem. The clerics recruited by Herod, and especially his new father-in-law, advised him that the role of Solomon incorporated not only Shiloh of the Torah history but also Jacob. Herod, if he truly desired precision, could not assume a composite role without embracing its constituent parts. In careful fulfillment of tradition, Herod then designated the various princes of his family as "sons of Jacob." The eldest son of Herod, who was called Antipater after Herod’s father, took the identity of Reuben the eldest son of Jacob. Like Reuben, Antipater was excluded from succession early on and sent away from the royal court with his mother Doris.

The favored wife of Herod was Mariamne of the old Hasmonian line. She became the mother of Herod’s next three sons. As potential heirs these three princes were brought up and educated in Rome. The first two were called Alexander and Aristobulus. The third son died young while still in Rome, and unfortunately his name was not divulged in the writings of Josephus. Alexander was placed in the role of Simeon, second son of Jacob. Aristobulus was to be Levi. The unnamed prince was in the prestigious but precarious role of Judah.

The second queen Mariamne, daughter of the High Priest Simon, became mother of Herod’s fifth son named Herod (a.k.a. Phillip). He was given the role of Issachar fifth son of Jacob. In the Egyptian New Kingdom, the prince designated as Issachar also shared the same name as Jacob, that being, Amenhotep.

Herod also married a woman of Samaritan pedigree named Malthace. She became the mother of Archelaus, who assumed the role of Zebulun sixth son of Jacob.

A younger brother of Herod was named Joseph. This Joseph was killed in the war against the last Hasmonean dynasts. A son, also called Joseph, of this beloved brother was placed in the critical role of Joseph son of Jacob.

Towards the end of his reign Herod became sexually impotent due to a health condition, thought to be gout, that affected his bowels and genitals. He consequently directed his sons to produce additional children for him through his wives. This was also considered necessary in order to pattern his family after that of Jacob. For example, it was shown that in the Egyptian New Kingdom the prince in the role of Judah son of Jacob (Thutmose IV son of Amenhotep II) died young after being poisoned. However, prior to his death he did father a son to continue his kingly line. Although the unnamed fourth son of Herod likely died in his teens, it can be deduced that he had also already produced an heir, the future Herod Antipas through Queen Malthace. It will be shown later that Herod Antipas assumed the same roles played by the Egyptian New Kingdom pharaoh Aye, the true son of Thutmose IV.

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