Herod: The Man Who Had to be King

We may well wonder what in an historical novel is fictional and what fact.  In Herod, we may be assured that, although the reader does indeed become familiar with the characters of the tragic period about a hundred years before the Temple was destroyed and before mighty Rome became a subject for history books, the author was adamant in maintaining accuracy.

Yehuda Shulewitz was a respected historian and intellectual.  Born in the United States, he made aliyah in 1947 and worked as Editor of English Economics Publications for the Bank of Israel.  He wrote Herod when he retired and almost finished it before he passed away.  His wife, Malka Hillel Shulewitz, an author in her own right and an activist for Jewish refugees expelled from Arab lands, completed his work.

Herod is the story of the conflict between Herod, Rome and the Jewish people that takes the reader from the Land of Israel and Jerusalem to the bustle of Rome and the colorful thoroughfares of Alexandria, from Syria to the heart of the Parthian empire, to Babylonia, Idumea and Antioch.  It presents a vast panorama of the Mediterranean region of some two thousand years ago, bringing to life the Great Sages, the High Priest and the Temple service.  We meet Alexandra, the proud Hasmonean and her children and Antigonus, another Hasmonean, contender for the throne of Judea and a bitter enemy of Herod.  We get to know Herod, the devoted family man of malevolent moods for whom no challenge was too great or too bloody to reach his goal.

This review appeared in the “Editor’s Choice” section of Emunah Magazine.

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