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March 27, 2015

Kelsey Grammer Inaccurate About King Herod

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Appearing on Bill O'Reilly’s The O'Reilly Factor on the Fox News Channel (March 23), actor Kelsey Grammer (pictured above) promoted a forthcoming National Geographic Channel television film, “Killing Jesus,” based on O’Reilly’s bestseller book of the same name.

Mr. Grammer, in addition to being an accomplished actor and known to be one who genuinely cares about people, is, along with Jon Voight, among the staunchest of Israel supporters in the entertainment industry (this writer is a fan of both Grammer and Voight).

Grammer, playing the role of King Herod in the film, remarked to O’Reilly that, “I am actually a Gentile playing a Jew which is always very controversial.” Instead, he would have been more accurate if he had remarked, “I am actually a Gentile playing a Gentile who played a Jew ...”

Why does this matter? Because as it is, Jews and the Jewish state receive a great deal of unfair, inaccurate bad press without viewers being misled (unintentionally or otherwise) about the New Testament villain, King Herod, the Roman client King of Judea (the territory often erroneously referred to as “first century Palestine”). Herod was not a Jew, at least certainly not in the normal sense.

According to the New Testament, Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod who ordered the murder of innocent children in Bethlehem. Matthew 2:16 (New King James Version): “Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male [Jewish] children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.” The wise men (Magi), from the east had traveled to Jerusalem to determine the whereabouts of the one who was born “King of the Jews.” Herod, hearing of this – and hearing from priests and teachers that an eventual ruler was to be born in Bethlehem – instructed the Magi to go to Bethlehem, find the child and report back to him so that he, Herod, could worship the child (actually intending to kill him). But the Magi never returned to Herod.

Herod’s original claim to being a Jew (and he generally passed himself off as one presumably for political purposes – as part of his successful currying of favor with the Roman governing bureaucracy) was based on the fact that Herod’s grandfather, like many of his fellow Edomites (descendants of Esau, the firstborn son of Isaac and the twin brother of Jacob who was to become Israel), had been forcibly converted to Judaism.

Extra-biblical accounts, especially from first century CE Roman-Jewish historian Josephus, tell us of Herod’s colossal building projects throughout Judea – and also of his great cruelty to his Jewish subjects and his own family. It seems that he also experienced great pain and mental and physical disorder.

So, villainous King Herod was not generally considered a Jew by Jews of his time or, for that matter, of this time. Mr. Grammer, please take notice.

Posted by MK at March 27, 2015 06:35 PM

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