‘The Bible is not the only literature we have of Herod’s crimes. He gave himself the nickname “the Great.” The Bible gives details of his life and character, as does Titus Flavius Josephus. Both agree that he slaughtered thousands of people at whims, whenever he felt his rule threatened. It wasn’t even his rule, really, since he was king of Judea while Judea was a Roman province. He answered to the Roman Emperor.
When his councilors informed him, circa 9-4 BC, of a Jewish prophecy of a young male child being born around Bethlehem who would take away Herod’s power, Herod responded matter-of-factly by massacring all the male children 2 years old and younger throughout the region around Bethlehem. The Bible states that Jesus, 2 years old or younger, was saved by his parents through divine intervention, and they fled to Egypt until after Herod died.
Josephus details more of his utter immorality. As he was dying of old age, Herod became more and more paranoid of everything, afraid of dying and losing all his power. He knew that all of Judea hated him passionately, so to force Judea to mourn after his death, he invited thousands of rabbis to Jerusalem under some pretense, then had them taken captive. Upon his death, they were to be slaughtered. When he died, his sister Salome (not the Salome who had John the Baptist beheaded) and his son Archilaus contravened this order and set the rabbis free, fearing that killing them would be “more than a little impolitic.”
But God got Herod back, if you believe in God. The Bible states that his death was due to extraordinarily vile diseases, and Josephus corroborates this. He suffered from chronic nephritis throughout his life, complicated by diabetes from obesity, Fournier’s gangrene, which causes the entire groin area to rot, and scabies, also called “the Seven Year Itch.” The scabies produced grotesque ballooning and worms in his scrotum, and a nauseating stench from his genitals. He most likely died of kidney failure.’