The lower palace, viewed from the height of the upper fortress, is massive. The pool with its island is most impressive in the wilderness. The remains of the colonnaded garden are clear. On the lower right are the excavations of the lower palace buildings, which were even more extravagant than those of the upper palace.

The most striking aspect of this view is Bethlehem in the distance. The city’s proximity highlights the contrast the Bible provides to Mathew 2:1: “Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod.” No greater moral extremes ever existed: Jesus, the Messiah, the sinless One whose life and ministry would be one of sacrifice for others to honor God; and Herod, the king of the Jews, the brutal tyrant whose life was one of cruelty and astonishing building programs, for the honor and glory of himself.


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