Photographer: Eitan Ya'aran (2012)
Ruins of The Herodium (Herodion). Photographer: Eitan Ya'aran (2012)

What and who is…

Greek: Ἡρώδειον —Latin transliteration: Herodium


הרודיון‎ —transliteration: Herodion

הרודיס —transliteration: Herodis (more ancient version)

This is the name of a person and a place.

  1. The Herodium (Herodion)

    also known as: Herodeion, Har Hordus (Mount Herodes)

    This is Herod the Great’s massive fortress and palace built on an artificial hill 2,487 feet above sea level (758 meters)—south of Bethlehem and Jerusalem. It was named by Herod after himself.

    Archaeologists began excavation of the Herodion in 1962. The believe it was built between 23 and 15 BC. Therefore, it existed at the time of Jesus Christ. It was 7.5 miles (12k) south of Jerusalem and 3.1 miles (5k) southeast of His birthplace, Bethlehem.

    The 1st century Roman-Jewish historian Josephus described it in his historical records.

    This fortress, which is some 60 stadia distant from Jerusalem, is naturally strong and very suitable for such a structure, for reasonably nearby is a hill, raised to a (greater) height by the hand of man and rounded off in the shape of a breast.

    At intervals it has round towers, and it has a steep ascent formed of 200 steps of hewn stone. Within it are costly royal apartments made for security and for ornament at the same time.

    At the base of the hill there are pleasure grounds built in such a way as to be worth seeing, among other things because of the way in which water, which is lacking in that place, is brought in from a distance and at great expense.

    The surrounding plain was built up as a city second to none, with the hill serving as an acropolis for the other dwellings. —Titus Flavius Josephus, “The Jewish War I,” 21, 10, Antiquities of the Jews XIV, chapter 13.9

    Herod decorated his rooms with elaborate frescoes and mosaic floors. There are 4 great towers each with 7 stories. The largest has a 59 foot (18 meter) diameter base, others were over 52 feet in diameter (16 meters).

    An inscribed ring was discovered in the ruins bearing the name Pilate (possibly referring to Pontius Pilate).

    The ancient Jews built a synagogue at the base of Herodium, which can be visited toay.

    The ruins are now a national park controlled by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

    Ruins of the Herodion—recent satellite view

    See the Christian archaeological Biblical teaching video which describes this ancient fortress: On the Life & Ministry of the Messiah (“In the Shadow of Herod,” part of the Faith Lessons video series). “Born in the shadow of Herod’s great fortress and established in our hearts, the kingdom of Jesus will endure forever.”

  2. Herodion, a Christian of Rome

    This is a brother in Christ in Rome whom the Apostle Paul salutes and calls his “kinsman” (Romans 16:11).

More information

Article Version: September 22, 2021