King Herod the Great, born 73 B.C., is best-known for his attempts to murder the baby Jesus. His family converted to Judaism. He married Mariamne and thus aligned himself with the Maccabees. Herod was a successful but very unpopular ruler. He rebuilt the temple in an attempt to win favor with his subjects. However, he was well-known for his intense cruelty. He killed his own wife, despite loving her, out of jealousy and also killed three of his children.
When he learned of the birth of Jesus and found the child was said to be the King of the Jews, he asked the wise men to return to let him know where the child was, claiming he wanted to worship him. The wise men received divine warning to not return to Herod, so they took another route home. When they didn’t return, Herod merely had all the boys under the age of two killed in Bethlehem and the surrounding area. However, Joseph had been warned in a dream to flee to Egypt with Mary and Jesus and so Jesus was spared. Joseph was told by an angel in another dream when it was safe to return following the death of Herod.