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HERODEIUM (Ἡρώδειον, Ἡρώδιον, Ἡρώδια, Suid. s. v.)


A city and fortress of Palestine, erected by Herod the Great, and situated about 60 stadia from Jerusalem, and not far from Tekoa. (J. AJ 15.9.4, B. J. 1.21.10, B. J. Here on a hill of moderate height having the form of a woman's breast, and which he raised still higher, or at least fashioned by artificial means, Herod erected a fortress with rounded towers, having in it apartments of great strength and splendour. The difficult ascent was overcome by a flight of two hundred steps of hewn stone. At the foot of the mountain he built other palaces for himself and his friends, and caused water to be brought thither from a distance in large quantity and at great expense. The whole plain around was also covered with buildings, forming a large city, of which the hill and fortress constituted the acropolis. (Joseph. l.c.) It was to this place apparently, that the body of Herod was brought for burial, 200 stadia from Jericho, where he died. (Joseph. Antig. 17.8.3, B. J. 1.33.9.) This city was so important that one of the toparchies afterwards took the same name, and Pliny ( “Herodium cum oppido illustri ejusdem nominis,” 5.15) mentions it as a town of great note. It does not occur either in Ptolemy or Eusebius and Jerome.

The “Frank Mountain,” with which Herodium has been identified, bears in Arabic the name of el-Fureidîs, a diminutive of the word signifying Paradise. The mountain has not been usually ascended by travellers; among those who speak of having been upon it are, Von Troilo, Nau. Le Brun, Pococke, Irby and Mangles, and some others. Dr. Robinson (Researches, vol. ii. pp. 169--175), whose account has been here followed, describes it as rising steep and round, precisely like a volcanic cone, but truncated. The height above the base cannot be less than from 300 to 400 feet, and the base itself has at least an equal elevation above the bottom of Wady Ŭrtâs in the SW., towards which there is a more general descent. There are traces of terraces around the foot of the mountain, but not higher up; nor is there any road to the top or fosse upon the S., as described by Pococke (Trav. vol. ii. pt. i. pp. 42, fol.). The top of the mountain, constituting a circle of 750 feet in circumference, is inclosed by the ruined walls of a circular fortress, built of hewn stones of a good size, with four massive round towers standing at each one of the cardinal points. Either the ruins have formed a mound round the circumference, or the middle part of the inclosure was once excavated; it is now considerably deeper than the circumference. The tower upon the E. is not so thoroughly destroyed as the rest, and in it a magazine or cistern may still be seen. The present name of the “Frank Mountain” is known only among the Franks, and is founded on a report that this post was maintained by the Crusaders for 40 years after the fall of Jerusalem; but the silence of the historians of the Crusades, and the small size of the position, lead to the conclusion that this was a legend of the fifteenth century, when, in A.D. 1483, the story first appears, in Felix Fabri (Evagatorium: de Monte Rama et ejus Oppido fortissimo, vol. ii. pp. 335--337), and has been repeated under different forms by subsequent travellers.

An earlier mention of this mountain than the times of Herod, or indeed any mention of it in the Scriptures, cannot be assumed with any certainty. Pococke has suggested that it may have been the Beth-Haccerem of the prophet Jeremiah (6.1), where the children of Benjamin were “to set up a sign of fire,” while they blew the trumpets in, Tekoa. Jerome (Comm. in Jer. 6.1) also says that there was a village called Bethacharma, situated, on a mountain between Tekoa and Jerusalem. If BETHACCAREM was indeed succeeded by the fortress and city of Herod, it is difficult to see why Jerome, who usually employs the Greek names by preference, should here and elsewhere make no allusion to the more important Herodium. (Reland, Palaestina, vol. ii. p. 820; Von Raumer, Palästina, pp. 220--464; Ritter, Erdkunde, vol. xv. pt. i. pp. 617--624; Hirt. Ueber die Baue Herodes des Gross. Abhand der Berl. Akad. 1816-1817, p. 5.)


Another fortress of the same name was built by Herod on a mountain towards the Arabian frontier (τὧ πρὸς Ἀραβίαν ὅρει: Joseph. B. J. 1.21.10), not “of Arabia,” as Dr. Robinson (Researches, vol. ii. p. 173) says. [E.B.J]

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  • Cross-references from this page (1):
    • Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 15.9.4
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