Four hundred years of silence stretches out between the Old and New Testament. And then this happens.
It was a time when Rome was ruling and the rest of the world was drooling, only Caesar was starting to freak out. There was unrest in the land and ambitious politicians and others starting vying for control. (Sound familiar?)
Because the people freaked out even more, in 46 BC the senate gave the popular Julius Caesar full authority to do whatever he wanted. Big mistake. The power went to his head, and his lust for control knew no bounds. Many of his governors felt guilty over the way Caesar turned Rome into an Empire and demanded heavy taxation to fund his aspirations. But if anyone dared complain, he got rid of the dissenter.
In 44 BC, Cassius led an uprising that resulted in the murder of Caesar by his own Senators. This netted Cassius the prize – control. And for the pleasure of his rule, he demanded other leaders give him money as a way to prove their loyalty to him.
Antipater wanted to collect the money through taxation; he divided his land into seven parts; he gave his son, Herod, the region of Galilee. It was a tough region to rule, full of rowdies – maybe like…Texas? Just kidding Texans, you know I love you!
Anyway, he was a shrewd leader with full blown paranoia. The guy didn’t take no for an answer. If he lost trust in someone, he was ruthless in his response. Herod was part Jew and took his heritage seriously. He and his family walked a delicate balance of trying to have power and control in a world that demanded he be both good at Roman politics and respectful of his Judaism. Politically sensitive and culturally aware, he was the home office’s ideal governor. Eventually they gave him the title of King of Judea, which in essence makes him king of the Jews.
Rome was in power, but the children of Abraham were rekindling their faith after a long season of exile. This made Herod nervous.
This is the background….tomorrow we’ll talk principles.