Herod. [Gr. Herodes, "offspring of a hero" or "like a hero." The name was very common among Greeks and is attested in inscriptions and literature from the 5th cent. b.c.] The name of a family of rulers of Palestine, of whom only 3 (Nos. 1, 3, and 6 below) are mentioned by the name Herod in the NT.
1. Herod the Great. King of Judea and all Palestine at the time of Jesus' birth. He was the 2d son of the Idumean Antipater, and thus a descendant of the ancient Edomites, but he was a Jew by citizenship and religious profession. The Idumeans had been conquered by John Hyrcanus I in 125 b.c. and had been forced to accept the Jewish religion, including circumcision; hence they had nominally become Jews. Antipater was made procurator of Judea by Caesar in 47 b.c. His son Herod (born c. 73 b.c.) was brought up at the court of the high priest and ruler, Hyrcanus II (63-40 b.c.), to whom his father was political adviser. When Antipater became procurator he induced Caesar to make his son Herod strategus (chief magistrate) of Galilee, and Phasael, another son, strategus of Judea. Shortly afterward Sextus Caesar, the legate of Syria, made Herod strategus of Coelesyria also. Herod made a shift in political affiliation after Caesar's death (44 b.c.), and gave his support to the party of Caesar's murderers. This resulted in Herod's confirmation in his office by G. Cassius, proconsul of Syria. When Antony and Octavian defeated Cassius, Herod succeeded in gaining the favour of Antony. He and his brother Phasael were then appointed tetrarchs of their territories in Palestine, offices they held until the Parthians conquered all of Syria and Palestine (40 b.c.). Hyrcanus II and Phasael went into the Parthian camp to negotiate a peace but were treacherously imprisoned. Phasael, unable to bear the shame, committed suicide. Herod fled to Rome and was there appointed king over Judea, in opposition to Antigonus, a Maccabean, who had been made king in Judea with the support of the Parthians. Herod returned to Palestine and, with the help of Roman forces, defeated Antigonus and conquered Jerusalem the following year (37 b.c.). Herod revealed at once that he would show no mercy to anyone who had withstood him. He massacred a large number of noblemen, among them 45 leaders who had supported Antigonus, and also put to death all members of the Sanhedrin but one, for having withstood his ambitions on an earlier occasion. The Sanhedrin under Herod was reduced to such impotency that some scholars question its existence during his reign.
The kingdom of Herod initially comprised Judea (including Samaria and Idumea); however, Antony took Jericho and its territory and gave it to Cleopatra of Egypt. After the battle at Actium in 31 b.c., from which Octavian emerged victor over Antony, Herod made another switch in affiliation, went to Rhodes where Octavian was, and succeeded in gaining his favour. The victorious Octavian, who became better known as Augustus, added Jericho, Gadara, and Gaza to Herod's territory after Cleopatra's death, and later (23 b.c.) the northeastern territories of Batanaea, Trachonitis, and Auranitis also. Herod ruled his kingdom without any serious threats from the outside, so that his reign can be called a period of prosperity.
Herod's family life was full of tragedies, and was soiled with the blood of his closest relatives, including three of his own sons and one of his ten wives. Only the most important of his many children will be mentioned here. His eldest son, Antipater, was borne by his Idumean wife Doris. His second wife was Mariamne, a grand-daughter of the ruler-priest Hyrcanus II; by this marriage Herod connected his own house with that of the Hasmonaeans (Maccabeans), and thus attempted to legalize his kingship in the eyes of the Jews. He seems to have loved Mariamne with all his heart, although she hated him. Mariamne bore him Aristobulus and Alexander. By Malthace, a Samaritan wife, he had Archelaus and Herod Antipas; by Cleopatra, a wife from Jerusalem, was born Herod Philip (who became a tetrarch); and by another Mariamne (the daughter of Simon of Jerusalem, whom Herod made high priest) he had a son also known as Herod Philip, or Philip of Rome. Since Herod did not trust his Hasmonaean relatives, he killed many of them. In 35 b.c. Aristobulus III, brother of Herod's second wife, was murdered, being drowned in Herod's palace pool at Jericho, although he had been made high priest by Herod only a few months earlier. In 30 b.c. he had the aged Hyrcanus II, the grandfather of his wife Mariamne, killed, and then, a year later, put Mariamne herself to death because he suspected her of plotting against his life. From that time on his suspicions gave him no rest. At first he seems to have designated as his heirs Mariamne's sons Aristobulus and Alexander. However, when their older half brother Antipater, the son of Doris, accused them of treason Herod imprisoned and killed them (7 b.c.). He then named Antipater as his successor, with Herod Philip, the son of Mariamne II, as second in line of succession. Antipater, having been successful in eliminating two of his competitors for the throne, accused his half brothers Archelaus, son of Malthace, and Philip, son of Cleopatra, as well as his aunt Salome, Herod's sister, of plotting against the life of the king. However, Herod, discovering that the accusation was false, appointed Antipas as his successor, and had Antipater put to death only a few days before he himself passed away. After Antipater's death, and shortly before his own, Herod again changed his will and now designated Archelaus, Antipas, and Philip as his heirs on the throne. This last will of Herod was honoured by Augustus. Archelaus (see Herod, 2) was given Judea (Mt 2:22), Samaria, and Idumea, with the title ethnarch; Antipas (see Herod, 3) was made tetrarch over Galilee (Lk 3:1, 19) and Perea; and Philip (see Herod, 4) became tetrarch over the northeastern territories (v 1). Herod Philip, son of Mariamne II, remained a private citizen (see Herod, 5). Because of this his wife *Herodias (who was also his niece, being daughter of his brother Aristobulus) left him and lived with Antipas.
Herod was a great builder and the founder of several magnificent cities, which were built in Hellenistic style and splendour. These included two cities named in honour of the emperor Augustus: Samaria, which he called Sebaste (Greek for "Augusta"), and the old Strato's Tower, on the coast, which he named *Caesarea, and which later became Herod's capital; two that he named for members of his family: *Antipatris (formerly Aphek), northeast of Joppa and Phasaelis, in the Jordan Valley; and two cities which bore the name Herodium (Gr. He µro µdeion), one in Transjordan and the other southeast of Bethlehem (for the latter see Palestine Under Herod the Great). Other cities or fortresses built by him were Machaerus, east of the Dead Sea (Palestine Under Herod the Great), Masada, near the western shore of the Dead Sea (Palestine Under Herod the Great), Gaba in Galilee (Palestine Under Herod the Great), and Esbon (formerly Heshbon) in Perea (Palestine Under Herod the Great).
The city of *Jerusalem also received his attention. Beginning c. 20 b.c. he rebuilt Zerubbabel's Temple, which was in a dilapidated condition, and began to erect magnificent buildings in and around the Temple (see Temple, IV), including the *"barracks" of Antonia. These structures were not completed until shortly before the outbreak of the Jewish-Roman war in a.d. 66 (cf. Jn 2:20). He also built a royal palace in Jerusalem, one tower of which is still partly visible in the lower section of the so-called "Tower of David" in the citadel. Herod also erected a theatre and an amphitheatre. These structures, because they were the scene of plays and games such as were held in Hellenistic cities, were highly offensive to the orthodox Jews.
Although Herod was a *Hellenist in heart and practice, and surrounded himself by Hellenistic counsellors, he was prudent enough to refrain from suppressing or openly defying the Jewish religion as Antiochus IV had done in the preceding century. However, the Jews hated him because he was an Idumean and a friend of the Romans, and because of his scandalous private life. They resented his extreme cruelty and the imposition upon them of a heavy tax burden necessitated by his extensive building program. The absence of open rebellion during his long reign was due to his unwavering loyalty to the Romans, to his ruthlessness in suppressing every opposition, and to the fact that there was external peace in his day.
Herod the Great appears in the NT in the date formula of Lk 1:5, and in the narrative of the "wise men from the east" as told in Mt 2:1-18. Upon hearing that a descendant of David was born in Bethlehem according to an ancient prophecy, the king gave orders to kill all infants in that city. This cruel act is not recorded in secular history. It is in full harmony with his other known acts of atrocity and cruelty. The last atrocity planned by Herod was fortunately never carried out. Knowing that there would be great rejoicing in the kingdom when the people would learn of his death, he had the principal Jews shut up in the stadium in Jericho, and gave orders to have them killed as soon as he died, in order to provide some mourning over his death. However, his sister Salome and her husband Alexas, who were charged with carrying out this order, foiled his plan by releasing the unfortunate noblemen after his death, thus bringing great joy to many Jewish homes. Herod passed away in his 34th regnal year at the age of 69, in 4/3 b.c., most probably in the spring of 4 b.c.
2. (Herod) Archelaus. [Gr. Archelaos, "people's ruler," or "people's prince."] Ruler of Judea and Samaria during Jesus' childhood. Archelaus was a son of Herod the Great and Malthace. He, his full brother Antipas, and their half brother Philip the tetrarch (the son of Cleopatra of Jerusalem) were all educated in Rome. They were named as their father's successors in his final will, which was honoured by Augustus. The emperor gave Archelaus Judea, Samaria, and Idumea, and granted him the title ethnarch, meaning "people's prince." He ruled in this capacity from 4 b.c. to a.d. 6. Like his father he loved luxury and power, and on several occasions demonstrated his cruel nature. In suppressing a riot during the 1st year of his reign his troops killed 3,000 people. It is easy to understand why Joseph was afraid to live in Judea under Archelaus when he brought Mary and the child Jesus back from Egypt (Mt 2:22).
Archelaus' choice of high priests, his private life, and his cruelties annoyed the Jews, who, joined by the Samaritans, sent deputations to Rome, and finally persuaded Augustus to recall Archelaus. The deposed ethnarch was banished to Vienne, on the Rhone, in what is now southern France, and his territory was placed under a Roman procurator, who served as a direct representative of the Roman provincial administration (see Governor, 2).
3. Herod (Antipas) (a ¬n'tz-pa ¬s). Ruler of Galilee and Perea during Jesus' ministry, called "Herod the Tetrarch" in the NT, but usually referred to in history as "Herod Antipas." He was the son of Herod the Great and his Samaritan wife Malthace, and was educated in Rome with his brother Archelaus and his half brother Philip. Antipas was designated successor to the throne in his father's 2d will, yet in Herod's final will he was given only Galilee and Perea, with the title of tetrarch. Mark refers to him by his popular title, king (ch 6:14). Since he is simply called Herod in the Gospels, a name found also on his coins, readers of the Bible have frequently confused him with his father. He was married to the daughter of Aretas IV, king of the Nabataeans, whose capital was Petra, south of the Dead Sea (The Roman Empire in the First Century (A.D.)). This marriage may have been contracted with the purpose of making the eastern and southern borders of Perea safe from Nabataean attacks.
During a visit to Rome, Herod Antipas fell in love with Herodias, his niece, who was the wife of his half brother, Herod Philip. Herodias thereupon left her husband and lived with Antipas. His discarded wife's father was deeply offended and consequently waged war against Antipas, in which he succeeded in occupying parts of Antipas' Transjordan territories. John the Baptist severely rebuked Antipas (perhaps publicly) for his adultery and as a result was incarcerated in Machaerus, a fortress east of the Dead Sea. Herodias deeply hated John for his interference in her private life and could not rest until she brought about his death (Mt 14:1-12). Antipas was known for his cunning (Jesus called him "that fox," Lk 13:32), his ambitions, and his love of luxuries, yet he lived as an orthodox Jew, and went to Jerusalem on feast days (ch 23:7). For years he was an enemy of Pilate (v 12), because he could not condone the procurator's anti-Jewish acts. In harmony with the Jewish aversion to images he refrained from having his portrait put on his coins. He rebuilt Sepphoris in Galilee, added to its fortifications, and made it his capital. He also built Tiberias and other cities and strengthened the borders of his domain.
Herod Antipas is mentioned in the NT in connection with the imprisonment and execution of John the Baptist (Mt 14:3-12). He may have planned to arrest and kill Jesus of Nazareth, as the Pharisees claimed (Lk 13:31), but this is not certain. He considered Jesus to be the risen Baptist (Mk 6:14-16). When he finally met Jesus in Jerusalem, he showed interest in Him, but his interest turned to ridicule when Jesus refused to answer him (Lk 23:8-12). Pilate's act of sending Jesus to him, in recognition of Herod's authority over Galileans even in Jerusalem, resulted in a friendship between the two former antagonists. In a.d. 37 Agrippa, Herodias' brother, was made king over the northeastern territories of Palestine that Philip (see Herod, 4) had held. Herodias, dissatisfied that her husband had the title only of tetrarch, induced him to go with her to Rome and to seek a royal crown from Caligula. Agrippa, however, sent letters to Rome accusing his uncle Antipas of treasonable activities. As a result, instead of being made a king, Herod was banished in a.d. 39, to either Gaul or Spain, where Herodias followed him into exile. His territory was added to that of his accuser, Agrippa.
4. (Herod) Philip (fzl'zp). [Gr. Philippos, "a friend of horses."] Tetrarch of the territories northeast of the Sea of Galilee, the son of Herod the Great and of Cleopatra of Jerusalem. Educated in Rome with his half brothers Archelaus and Antipas, he was given part of his father's realm upon Herod's death. Receiving the title tetrarch, he was placed over the northeastern territories of Palestine-including Ituraea, Trachonitis (Lk 3:1), Batanaea, and Auranitis-and ruled from 4 b.c. to a.d. 33/34. He was the best of all the Herodian rulers, and the historians of his time report nothing evil of him. His building activities were many. He enlarged the city of Paneas, situated at the source of the Jordan, and called it Caesarea. Later it was generally referred to as Caesarea Philippi (Mt 16:13) to distinguish it from the Caesarea of western Palestine. Philip also made the village of Bethsaida into a city and called it Bethsaida Julias in honour of Augustus' daughter, who was the wife of Tiberius. Toward the end of his life he married his niece, Herodias' daughter (ch 14:11) Salome, who was about 30 years his junior. When he died without leaving any children, his tetrarchy was annexed to Syria, but about 3 years later it was given to Agrippa I as a kingdom.
5. (Herod) Philip. Brother of Antipas and first husband of Herodias. He was a son of Herod the Great and of Mariamne II, daughter of the high priest Simon. Philip was not a ruler, but a private citizen. He was married to his niece, Herodias, who after a time fell in love with her uncle Antipas (see Herod, 3), a half brother of her husband, and went to live with him, taking her daughter Salome with her. Salome later married her great-uncle, Philip the tetrarch, and after her husband's death married one of her cousins, Aristobulus.
Herod Philip is called simply Philip in the Gospels (Mt 14:3; Lk 3:19), but is called Herod by Josephus (Ant. xviii. 5. 4). The NT agrees with Josephus in making him a (half) brother of Herod Antipas.
6. Herod (Agrippa I) (a ¾-grzp'a ¾). [Gr. Agrippas] King of Judea and all Palestine who persecuted the apostles (Acts 12:1). His official Roman name was Marcus Julius Agrippa Herodes, but he is called simply "Herod the king" in the NT. He was born in 10/9 b.c. as a son of Aristobulus and Bernice and grandson of Herod the Great. He married Cypros, and had four children, Bernice, Mariamne, Drusilla, and Agrippa (II). Of these the 1st, 3d, and 4th are mentioned in the Bible (chs 24:24; 25:13). He received part of his education in Rome, later became superintendent of markets at Tiberias, and also lived for a while in Damascus. Upon his return to Rome in a.d. 37 he was imprisoned by Tiberius for having sided with Germanicus' son, Gaius, or Caligula, who became emperor only 6 months later. Caligula immediately made his friend Agrippa king of the tetrarchy over which Agrippa's late uncle Philip (see Herod, 4) had ruled, and over the tetrarchy of Lysanias. In a.d. 39 he was made ruler over Galilee and Perea, the tetrarchy of his uncle Antipas, whom he had ousted and whose banishment he precipitated by accusing him to Rome of conspiring against the empire. Two years later the emperor Claudius, with whom Agrippa had also ingratiated himself, added to Agrippa's kingdom the territory of Judea and Samaria, which since a.d. 6 had been governed by Roman procurators. Agrippa thus became king over an area equal to that held by his grandfather Herod the Great. Anxious to obtain the good will of his people, he strictly observed the religious rules of the Jews. His execution of James, the brother of John, and the imprisonment of Peter (Acts 12:1-7) were ordered with this purpose in mind. Attempting to strengthen Jerusalem's fortifications, he began to build a new wall to the north of Jerusalem, but gave up the project on the demand of Claudius. Although he tried to show himself an orthodox Jew, he was also a great lover and promoter of Greek athletic games and of the theatre. He died in a.d. 44 in his capital, Caesarea, after a brief but violent intestinal illness, which suddenly overtook him when he accepted divine honours after an oration at a public appearance (Acts 12:20-23; Jos. Ant. xix. 8. 2).
7. (Herod) Agrippa (II). Ruler of the northeast; the Agrippa who heard Paul. His official Roman name was Marcus Julius Agrippa Herodes II. He was the son of Agrippa I and was born and educated in Rome. Since he was only 17 years old when his father died in a.d. 44 he was considered by the emperor Claudius to be too young to take over the kingship. However, in a.d. 50 he was made king of Chalcis (Chalkis on Palestine in the Time of Jesus), a small area in the Lebanon region, which had been ruled by his uncle Herod from a.d. 41 to 48. In a.d. 53 he was given the former tetrarchies of Philip and Lysanias in northeastern Palestine in exchange for the kingdom of Chalcis. Nero added large areas of Galilee and Perea to his territory. He was also assigned the supervision of the Temple of Jerusalem and the right to appoint the high priest. It was during his reign that the Temple begun under his great-grandfather, Herod the Great, was completed (a.d. 62 or 64). Like his father he attempted to live the life of an orthodox Jew, and whenever he had an opportunity he pointed out to his noble pagan acquaintances the high moral advantages of Jewish monotheism over their religions. However, he lived in incest with his sister Bernice, so that his own private life was scandalous.
Agrippa II enlarged and beautified Caesarea Philippi, built an addition to Herod's palace in Jerusalem, and sponsored theatrical performances in Berytus (Beirut). A monumental stone inscription mentioning him and his sister Bernice was recently found in the excavations of Beirut and is now in the Beirut Museum . Agrippa is mentioned in the NT in connection with Paul's appeal to the emperor. After the procurator Festus took over his governorship, Agrippa and Bernice paid a courtesy visit to Caesarea. Festus used this opportunity to bring Paul before Agrippa, whom he considered an expert in Jewish affairs, to obtain legal counsel as to what report he should send to Rome. Agrippa became convinced of Paul's innocence, but could not release him since the case had already been appealed to the emperor (Acts 25:13-27; 26:32).
When the Jewish war broke out in a.d. 66, Agrippa II failed in his efforts to persuade the Jews to refrain from rebelling against the Romans. Thereupon he placed himself without reservation on the side of the Romans, and was richly honoured for his loyal stand. Little is known about his later private life in Rome, where he died either c. a.d. 93 or c. a.d. 100.
Lit.: M. Grant, Herod the Great (New York, 1971); S. Perowne, The Life and Times of Herod the Great (London, 1956); S. Sandmel, Herod, Profile of a Tyrant (Philadelphia, 1967); S. Perowne, The Later Herods (London, 1958).