Politicians make deals. Even monarchs are politicians.
Herod was an autocratic, raging maniac of a murderer. He would face charges of Crimes against Humanity in our day, so maybe we are making some progress.
Herod ordered the murders of hundreds of people. He killed discriminately, with one purpose in mind. Herod killed to keep his place.
Maybe I should not call Herod a monarch. Perhaps he was just an autocrat but he established a sort of a family dynasty and he was certainly not elected by a popular vote. He was not a representative leader.
Herod did enough religion to keep the religious people off his back. He spent money to rebuild the Temple. He cut some of the ruling religious elite in on the contracts for temple work, for animal sales and in other ways. One hand washed the other but nobody got clean.
This Herod is remembered as "The Great." He ruled longer and with more ruthlessness than other Herods. He was a convert to Judaism. Unlike many who convert to something or someone, Herod the Great practiced Judaism apart from its mystical roots and ethical mores. Back in the day, we would say Herod got inoculated so he would not catch the disease of true religion.
Herod did what he had to do to hold his spot. He performed well as a vassal of Rome, held an important part of the Roman Empire in peace and fought well when it was time to fight. Herod would run a Fortune 500 Company today, take it public and loot the retirement funds on his way out the door.
Herod made a deal with some guests he met. They would find a starry child for him. He would worship the child, when the wandering Persian (Iranian) astronomers told him where to find the baby. He would, quite literally, worship the Baby to death.
Today, in American culture, Left-leaning folk believe social justice is the glue that holds together the American community. Right-leaning folk insist maximum liberties for individuals cements the republic as one. Both appeal to patriotism, both recommend the American spirit and both make deals through their leadership to compromise, one side with another, the left aiming for the maximum amount of social justice, the right appealing for absolute individual liberties, their compromise checking one anothe somewhere near the middle.
Herod, a deal maker, cut a deal.
He just did not know he was in the middle of a greater legislature. He could not know, because he was only playing at religion, God was coming. God would not cut a deal with Herod. Herod, accustomed to dealing with Emperors and High Priests, was finally out of his league in politics and religion.
He never got to see the Baby.
"God, today I have no deal with You.
I don’t know what I would offer You.
Everything I know about You
is just what You’ve told me
and I am not sure I got all that right.
I just want to see the Baby."