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Archelaus, the son of Herod the Great, went to Rome in 4 BC to have his father’s will confirmed, by which he was to be his successor. But a crowd of Jews followed close on his heels with a protest to the emperor: “We don’t want this man to be our king.” They had good reason for hating him: Josephus records that at the first Passover after his succession he massacred 3,000 of his subjects. As a result Augustus severely limited his powers, denying him the title ‘king’ until he should prove worthy of it (which he never did). Jesus was probably using this incident as a basis for the parable.

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