The Holy Innocents

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By Matteo di Giovanni – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH., Public Domain, Link

The Massacre of the Innocents is the biblical account of infanticide by Herod the Great, the Roman-appointed King of the Jews. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Herod ordered the execution of all young male children in the vicinity of Bethlehem, so as to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn King of the Jews whose birth had been europaisches-roulette announced to him by the Magi. In typical Matthean style, it is understood as the fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy:

Then was fulfilled that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more.”

The number of infants killed is not stated. The Holy Innocents, although Jewish, have been claimed as martyrs for Christianity, and the Feast of the Holy Innocents has long been celebrated.

Since the sole evidence for the event occurs in the Gospel of Matthew, New Testament scholars treat its historicity as an open question; and biographers of Herod deny that the event occurred.

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