He donated many buildings and temples to other rulers and territories. Within his own kingdom, he also built several cities, of which the most notable is Caesarea, also known as the "capital on the sea." He rebuilt Samaria and renamed it Sabaste, in honor of Augustus. He also built many gymnasiums, baths, parts, and streets throughout his area of rulership (Battle, n.d.) The fortresses he built include the Herodium, Macherus, and the Masada on the western shore of the Dead Sea.
In Jerusalem, Herod built a place for himself in the northwest corner of the Upper City. This included three towers, which he named after Phasael, Mariamne, and his friend Hippicus. The base of the largest tower is called the Tower of David, and still exists today.
Herod also rebuilt and enlarged the Maccabean fortress north of the temple; he renamed it Antonia to honor Mark Anthony. It is probable that Christ's trial under Pilate took place in Herod's palace rather than in the Antonia (Battle, n.d.).
As part of his civic improvement program in Jerusalem, Herod built a theater in the Upper City and a stadium in the Tyropoeon Valley. He also built several additional protective walls around and in the region of Jerusalem.
Today, one of Herod's greatest building achievements is considered to be the new temple with its courts and buildings. The work began in 19 B.C. and, according to the Gospel of John, took 46 years to complete. This project was then Herod's one major effort to win the loyalty of the subversive Jews. It did not succeed, since the Jews still mistrusted the king even though they did love the temple. Herod even went as far as training Jewish priests in construction to provide them with the opportunity to build the temple themselves, according to Jewish religious requirements. The new temple was twice as big as the old one. It was also built around the old temple before being dismantled and removed. The temple was admired by all and the pride of the Jews, according to the Gospels (Battle, n.d.). Herod also built the temple mount, doubled the area of the temple esplanade, and also constructed porticos, walls, gates, and stairways. The royal portico was a great basilica to the south of the temple area.
Herod's hostility, suspicion, and cruelty grew worse with age. At his death, he had lost both the confidence and favor of Rome. Although Herod's slaying of young children during the birth of Christ, this act was simply among many other atrocities he committed as a result of his jealousy and suspicion. When he became ill shortly after the birth of Christ, it is reported that Herod imprisoned the major Jewish leaders. His order was reportedly that these leaders should be executed at his death, so that the Jewish people would mourn rather than rejoice that Herod had finally died. Although this order was never carried out, Herod remained jealous and cruel up to the time of his death. He continued to execute his sons and heirs and rewrite his will. According to Battle (n.d.), he wrote his final will only five days before he died. Nonetheless, the fact remains that he remains known as "Herod the Great." This greatness is the result not only of his long reign, but especially as a result of his political prowess and his abilities as a constructionist (Knobelt, 2005).
When Herod died, his kingdom was divided among three of his sons. Judea Idumaea, and Samaria went to Archelaus. The northeastern districts were given to Philip, while the northwestern district of Galilee and the southeastern Perea went to Antipas (Carson, 2006).
When Archelaus proved to be an incompetent ruler, he was banished to Vienna. His region became a Roman province and was governed by a Procurator. When Christ was tried, Pontius Pilate was the curator of the province. While Philip was at least adequate as a ruler, Antipas was most like his father and also the best of the three rulers. It was Antipas who interacted significantly with John the Baptist, who denounce him for marrying his brother's wife. John ultimately died at the hands of Antipas (Burch, 2008). The reign of Herod and his three sons was therefore significantly influencial in the life and death of Christ.
The Intertestamental period is an important area of study for those who are concerned with studying the particular social and political developments that framed the context of Christ's birth, life, ministry, and death. In many ways, this period paved the way for the coming of Christ and his subsequent ministry. Particularly, the development of language and political developments such as the reign of Herod and his sons, provided context, background, and the circumstances surrounding the important events that created one of the world's most dominant religions, Christianity.
Battle, J.A. (n.d.) Intertestament Period. New Testament Survey. Western Reformed Seminary. Retrieved from: http://wrs.edu/Materials_for_Web_Site/Courses/NT_Survey/Chapter_1 -- Intertestament_Period.pdf
Bennema, C. (2001). The Strands of Wisdom Tradition in Intertestametnal Judaism: Origins, Developments, and Characteristics. Tyndale Bulletin Vol. 52, No. 1. Retrieved from: http://tyndalehouse.com/tynbul/library/TynBull_2001_52_1_03_Bennema_WisdominJudaism.pdf
Burch, J. (2008). The Life and Teachings of Christ. The Synoptic Gospels. Retrieved from: http://www.pfce.us/documents/Life_of_Christ_Synoptics.pdf
Carson, D.C. (2006). A Brief History of the Interestamental Period and Beyond. Retrieved from: http://davcarson.home.mindspring.com/Intertestamental//briefhistory.htm
Jones, M.R. (n.d.) The Interestamental Period and its Preparation for Christianity. Retrieved from: http://www.zionbaptistchurchtaylor.com/pastorspage/intertestamental_period_prep_christianity.pdf
Knoblet, J. (2005). Herod the Great. Oxford: University Press of America, Inc.
Satterfield, B. (2001). The Inter-Testamental Period. Retrieved from: http://emp.byui.edu/SATTERFIELDB/PDF/NT/IntertestamentalPeriod.pdf