Often times in the Bible, for godly men and women, names are significant and meaningful, many times even prophetic. In the case of Herod, it is a cynical, sarcastic, scornful, and laughable naming. . . for the name Herod means:
Compound of ἥρως hērōs (a “hero”) and eidos (a view), that is, form (literally or figuratively): - appearance, fashion, shape, sight. So combined, the view or appearance or form or shape of a hero. . . heroic.
(Adapted from Strong’s Greek Dictionary)
Yes. . . how heroic Herod was. . .
If this were a contemporary happening, books would undoubtedly have been written of this event. A three hour long television documentary or maybe even a mini-series would have been produced. . . a museum built with pictures and artifacts. . . containing recordings of interviews with witnesses. . . tear stained pictures of grieving mothers and fathers. . .testimonies of siblings. . . a memorial would be erected in the town square to help remember that day. . . with teddy bears, and candles, and flowers, but the dust of centuries has covered this day, and all that remains of of this first century holocaust, is one sparse sentence in the Bible. . .
Herod’s anger arose when his pride was hurt. He realized that he had been deceived by the wise men The way it is stated, it almost seems that his reaction was spurred on by this initial anger at the wise men escaping his trap.
No brave hero this king Herod, but fearful of babies, in these two verses he proves himself a liar. Rather than wishing to worship the baby Jesus, Herod wished to sacrifice Him on the altar of Herod’s unholy pride.
Nothing bothers the deceitful, quite as much as being deceived themselves. I’m sure it hurt Herod’s pride greatly. . . the scammer being scammed. . .The manipulator being manipulated and played for a fool. A deep and public wound of the pride for any man will often cause great anguish and a desire for revenge.
The logic of Herod’s reaction, seems to come almost as an afterthought: “when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, [he] was exceeding wroth” The wise men escaped his ploy and Herod was furious. . . and additionally he felt threatened by the birth of a baby in Bethlehem. . .
No cost was too high, he somehow justified in his mind the killing of an entire town's 2 year old sons, and indeed the surrounding area’s male children to protect his rule from a threat that was decades away. His love of power was so strong, that it completely corrupted Herod’s soul.
He feared that which was of no threat. Every man judges others by his own heart. Jesus was no threat to Herod. . . Jesus kingdom was not of this world, but Herod saw a mere baby as a threat to his power. . .
And it availed nothing for him. . . It preserved him not. . .
Mothers and sons. . . paying the price for the corrupt heart of a power mad king. All men have prideful hearts, but a king with pride, combined with power, and blackness of heart. . .the resulting evil knows no bounds.
When our pride is hurt, our natural response is to want to hurt in return, but firstly being restrained by the fear of the consequences of our actions, and secondly not being powerful, we would have to exact the retribution ourselves. Whereas a king has no such limits.
What repercussions would a king face? A king does not have to do the dirty work himself. He has underlings, whom he may command to bloody their hands. . . Oh the seductions of power. The self-justification. . . only hearing affirmation, never hearing criticism. . .the distorted view of self. . .
A king can act upon his hurt pride, and we are surely not able to act in the same manner, and to the same degree as a king, but are not the desires and inclinations of our hurt pride the same as Herod’s by the measure of Jesus? Herod’s actions were magnified by his power, but in its origins, and in its flavor, how does my hurt pride differ from his?
Do you think yourself different from Herod? I encourage you to read of the Stanford Prison experiment. In 1971, members of the psychology department of Stanford University conducted an experiment, where they selected 18 student, who appeared to not have any great psychological disturbances. . . who appeared to be normal college students. These students were divided into (2) groups of (9) guards, and (9) prisoners. The setting was constructed to be very similar to a prison setting. The experiment was intended to last for two weeks, but had to be terminated after only six days, when the guards began behaving very sadistically, and the prisoners became greatly depressed, and stressed by the conditions.
Here is the web site documenting the study:
These were ordinary college students put into positions of authority, with opportunity to exert their will over their fellow man. They were not evil beasts, deranged by some sinister spirit. . . such as we might, for example, look upon the guards in Nazi concentration camps. These were college students given uniforms, and authority, who very quickly began to act in evil ways. . .
Do you think that you are different than Herod, or these students, or concentration camp prison guards? It is the evil intent present in every heart, fertilized by power, and watered by opportunity to express itself that brings these things forth, that allows the dark seeds of evil to sprout out of the common heart. . . not out of some deranged beast in human form. . . but out of the evil dark thoughts and desires of our own hearts, are these things born.
Jesus was clear. . .
According to Jesus, intent has as much weight as action. If our hearts are prideful, and wanting to strike back to hurt when hurt. . . we should take no pride that we have not murdered children. . . we should be worried in that the same pride and darkness found in Herod’s heart, is found in our hearts as well. . .
Paul then goes on in the following verses, to attack the pride found in the church. . .It is this pride within our hearts which leads to every kind of evil thought and action.
Be vigilant against pride rising up in your own heart. . .
Be vigilant in being justified in your own eyes. . .
Be vigilant against fearing the rise and favor of another. . .
Be vigilant against thinking yourself special or privileged. . .
I love you my God. . .
Help me Lord. . .
Let your Spirit rule in my heart. . .
Let your Spirit rule in my life. . .