Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Holy Land Tour: King David and King Herod

Our first stop the next morning was another place where the ancient and the modern history of Israel are inextricably intertwined: The King David Hotel and the tomb of King Herod's wife.

The headquarters of the British authorities in charge of the Palestinian Mandate was at the King David Hotel. It was the center of British rule and a target for the Zionists seeking an independent Jewish state.

We didn't get a chance to go inside the hotel but saw this sign on its grounds which explains the significance of the Hotel and the bombing that killed 92 people in 1946. A group of radical Zionists was responsible for the attack which killed more people than the subsequent Arab-Israeli war.

On the grounds behind the hotel is a park-like area. You can see some hills in the distance where King Herod (the Great)'s Jerusalem palace stood. The tomb of Herod's wife is here. 

Here's the story: Herod was crazy about his wife Mariamne, but he was also very jealous. And more than a bit paranoid as subsequent events in his life would prove. Conniving courtiers persuaded him that she was unfaithful and he ordered her killed. Shortly thereafter he realized that he had been fooled and sank into depression.

Here is her tomb. Our guide Lee Glassman is standing on top of the curved stone that marks Mariamne's gravesite.

Herod the Great later had several more members of his family killed, including his sons. And of course, you will recall that he was the one who ordered the slaying of the infants in an attempt to eliminate Jesus who he feared as a potential political rival. (See Matthew 2: 16-18) Certainly he was a king to be feared.

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