P.E. Kretzmann on the career and character of Herod the Great:
While Matthew does not fix the time of the nativity so exactly as Luke, chapter 2, 1. 2, he nevertheless mentions a very important point which corroborates the Old Testament prophecy in a most remarkable manner. For Herod, was king at this time. History calls him Herod the Great, since he was great in political sagacity, great in diplomatic shrewdness, great in energy which expended itself in works of external beauty and grandeur, but also great, almost incredibly so, in wickedness. He was the son of the Idumean Antipater, Roman procurator of Judea. His ambition succeeded in winning for him the governorship of Galilee when he was but twenty-five years of age. He next became governor of Coele-Syria, the fertile valley between the Lebanon and Anti Lebanon mountain ranges, including southern Syria and Decapolis, and later was made tetrarch by the Roman triumvir Antony. Driven from his province, where his standing with the people had always been insecure, by the Maccabean Antigonus, Herod fled to Rome, gained the help of Antony and Augustus, and was declared king of Judea by the Roman senate, 714 years after the founding of Rome, 37 B. C. It was necessary for him to win his kingdom by force of arms, but once in possession of it, he proceeded to use his power in a cruel and ruthless manner for his own aggrandizement. He flattered the influential party of the Pharisees by the erection of the magnificent Temple and by other feigned tokens of religious zeal; he courted the favor of Rome by a fawning servility, by various concessions to heathenism, and by the introduction of Grecian customs. Of his ten wives, he executed the Asmonean Mariamne, daughter of Hircanus, and he caused three of his sons, Antipater, Alexander, and Aristobulus, to be put to death, not to mention a multitude of other executions which were as cruel as they were unjustified. By such a degree of bloodthirstiness was his reign characterized that the slaughter of the innocents at Bethlehem is omitted by secular historians as an insignificant episode. Such was the character of Herod the Great.
What a nutter.