Friday, 22 March 2013

Herod The Great Builder

While Israel worries about what to do about its growing population of the ultra orthodox, who harp back to an earlier era in Jewish history, using religious practise as an excuse not to work for the state, or anybody else. Ironically, all the latest archaeological evidence is that long before the advent of 'socialism', and the welfare benefits that allow the ultra orthodox to not work, ancient Judaism was place where hard work was the norm for all but the elite.

Recent archaeological work has uncovered more from the time of the leader known by the title "Herod the Great", and a man who against all the odds managed to rule in peace for 33 years (he ruled between 37 and 4 BC). A period of time almost unprecedented in length for the majority of history, up until the post 1945 era in Europe. He also managed the economy well, and under his rule there was prosperity and work for everyone.

Herod The Great

He managed this miraculous feat by using great public infrastructure projects to keep employment up, and generate secondary wealth via taxes on workers, and those businesses that grew up to support his projects.

Many of his projects have survived the millennia - the Second Temple complex in Jerusalem, which he expanded, still has the Western Wall standing (the main complex was accidentally destroyed by the Romans in the rebellion of 70AD) ... He also developed water supplies for Jerusalem, built fortresses such as Masada and Herodium, and founded new cities such as Caesarea Maritima (now known as Caesarea). Sadly his palaces in the desert (including several in what is now the occupied West Bank) at Jericho, ancient Cypros and Herodium have not survived the ages.

The Second Temple Complex in Jerusalem - Rebuilt By Herod

He would not however have identified with the Ultra Orthodox of today's Israel, with whom he would have had little in common (and in fact he was a very hedonistic man), but in spite of his enlightenment on many matters, he would certainly have sorted out in no uncertain manner, any one who said they were too religious to work.

Close up of 2nd Temple

Oddly despite this success as a ruler who died in charge of his country (again no mean feat in a world dominated by Rome), and the moniker he earned at the time of "The Great" .... He is now mainly remembered for a few rash acts ....

...... that's history for you ....

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