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The Herods

Antipater was a political ally and close friend of Julius Caesar (see Ancient Empires - Rome). After Antipater was murdered in 43 B.C., his son Herod, later known as Herod the Great, established the now-familiar family name. Although Herod The Great is perhaps the best known, there are a number of other Herods of Antipater's Dynasty that are mentioned in The Bible.

Roman Ruins Herod The Great

Upon his death, Antipater's territory was divided among his four sons. Galilee went to Herod, who later was appointed tetrarch of Judea by Mark Antony, and also king of Judea by the senate in Rome.

Herod was a brutal and wicked man who is perhaps most remembered for his murderous decree at the time of the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem:

"Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother [see Mary], and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy Him." (Matthew 2:13 RSV)

In an effort the kill The Child that had escaped him, Herod then ordered the killing of all male children of Bethlehem and vicinity, two years of age and under, in what has become known as the "slaughter of the innocents" (Matthew 2:16).

Like many despots, Herod considered himself to be a builder of great cities and magnificent structures. He continued the work on the fortress of Masada and rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem on a grand scale, a work that went on for decades, and which was not completed until after his death. As He was in that "Herodian" Temple, Jesus spoke both of its magnificence, and prophesied its destruction (Matthew 24:1-2), which was fulfilled by Roman Legions in 70 A.D. (see Temples and Fall of Jerusalem In 70 A.D.)

After ruling for about 37 years, Herod died at Jericho about 4 B.C. An angel then again appeared to Joseph to tell him to return from Egypt. So Joseph "went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, "He shall be called a Nazarene." (Matthew 2:23 RSV).

Herod Antipas

Herod Antipas was the son of Herod the Great and his Samaritan wife Malthace. He was tetrarch of Galilee during all of Jesus' human life. Unlike his father, who had tried and failed to have The Savior killed, this Herod saw it happen. He was the Herod that spoke with Jesus Christ after His arrest That Fateful Night (Luke 23:6-12), before sending Him back to Pontius Pilate.

It was also this Herod who earlier had John The Baptist beheaded (Matthew 14:1-12) at the instigation of Herodias, the wife of his half-brother Herod-Philip, whom he had married.

Herod Agrippa I

Herod Agrippa I was the son of Aristobulus and Bernice, and grandson of Herod the Great. He was tetrarch of the provinces previously ruled by Lysanias II, but eventually he possessed the entire kingdom of his grandfather, with the title of king.

It was this Herod that had James, the brother of John, executed (Acts 12:1-2). He then imprisoned Peter with the intention of killing him also (Acts 12:3-5), but God had an angel go in and get him out (Acts 12:6-10).

Like all of the rest, Herod Agrippa had a very high opinion of himself until one day, about 44 A.D., it went too far - he, in effect, claimed to be divine (Acts 12:21-22). "Immediately an angel of The Lord smote him, because he did not give God the glory; and he was eaten by worms and died." (Acts 12:23 RSV)

Herod Agrippa II

Herod Arippa II was the son of Herod Agrippa I and Cypros, and great-grandson of Herod the Great. Claudius (see Roman Emperors) made him tetrarch of the provinces of Philippi and Lysanias, with the title of king. He enlarged the city of Caesarea Philippi, and called it Neronias, in honor of Emperor Nero. It was before him and Bernice that Paul made his defence at Caesarea (Acts 25:13-27, 26:1-32). Herod Agrippa II died at Rome about 100 A.D.

Fact Finder: Who told Herod the Great of the birth of The Savior - the shepherds or the Magi ("wise men")?
Matthew 2:1-3
See also The Magi and The Shepherd


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