King Herod committed many acts of cruelty to protect his power

The Herodian family became converts to the Jewish faith. "Their object was to found, under the protection of Rome, a semi-independent kingdom," states the dictionary in the LDS edition of the King James version of the Bible.

"By his marriage to Mariamne, Herod the Great allied himself with the family of the Maccabees, who had been for several generations the leaders of the patriotic party among the Jews. Herod was a successful ruler and was on terms of friendship with Augustus, the Roman Emperor. In order to gain favor with his subjects, with whom he was most unpopular, he rebuilt the temple at an immense cost."Herod's reign was disgraced by many acts of cruelty. Always fearful that someone would rise up and overthrow his kingdom, he systematically killed off anyone he regarded as a threat. He murdered Joseph, the husband of his sister, Salome, and then Mariamne's grandfather. Salome reported that Mariamne and her mother were plotting against him. Although he dearly loved Mariamne, he had her and her mother executed. He murdered two of his sons by Mariamne, Alexander and Aristobulus.

When he heard that Jesus, "the king of the Jews," was born in Bethlehem and having failed to locate the Christ child, he ordered the slaying of "all children that were born in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under." (Matt. 2:16.) That same year, he had another of his own sons, Antipater, killed. A few months later Herod himself died.

His kingdom was then divided between three of his sons: Archelaus, who received Judaea, Idumaea, and Samaria; Antipas, who had Galilee and Peraea; and Philip, who had the northeast districts of Palestine.

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