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Herod, dynasty reigning in Palestine at the time of Jesus. As a dynasty the Herods depended largely on the power of Rome. They are usually blamed for the state of virtual anarchy in Palestine at the beginning of the Christian era.

Antipater (fl. c.65 BC) was founder of the family fortune. He was an Idumaean and gave refuge to Hyrcanus II (see Maccabees), thus gaining a stronghold in Palestine. His son Antipater (d. 43 BC) was favored by Julius Caesar, who made him (c.55 BC) virtual ruler of all of Palestine.

The son of the second Antipater was Herod the Great (d. 4 BC), who gave the family its name. He was friendly with Antony, who secured him (37–4 BC) the title of king of Judaea; after the battle of Actium he made peace with Octavian (later Augustus), who thereafter showed him great favor. He made great efforts to mollify the Jews by publicly observing the Law, by building a temple, and by reestablishing the Sanhedrin. He promoted Hellenization and adorned most of his cities, especially Jerusalem.

Herod married ten times, and the various families in the palace intrigued against each other continually. In his last years Herod was subject to some sort of insanity, and he became bloodthirsty. He executed (6 BC) Aristobulus and Alexander, his sons by Mariamne, granddaughter of Hyrcanus II. He executed (4 BC) Antipater, son of his first wife, when he found out that Antipater had instigated the intrigues that led to the execution of Aristobulus and Alexander. This was the Herod who was ruling at the time of Jesus' birth and who ordered the massacre of the Innocents (Mat. 2; see Holy Innocents).

Herod the Great divided his kingdom among his sons Archelaus, Herod Antipas, and Philip. Archelaus (d. after AD 6) ruled Palestine south of the Vale of Jezreel from 4 BC to AD 6; he was removed by Augustus after complaints by the Jews. Herod Antipas (d. after AD 39), tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea, was the Herod who executed John the Baptist and who was ruling at the time of Jesus' death.

Herod Antipas repudiated his wife, daughter of Aretas, to marry his niece Herodias, wife of his half-brother Herod Philip, whom she divorced to marry Herod Antipas. This affair gained Herod Antipas many enemies, and the vaulting ambitions of Herodias eventually ruined him. She drove him to seek a royal title, and he was banished by Caligula in AD 39. Philip (d. AD 34) was tetrarch of the region east of Galilee; his kingdom was non-Jewish, and he pursued a successful Romanizing and Hellenizing policy. He was probably the best of his family; his wife was Salome1. He built Caesarea Philippi.

The eldest son of the executed Aristobulus, Herod Agrippa I (d. AD 44), was a man of some ability. Out of friendship Caligula made him king (AD 39) of Philip's tetrarchy; later he was made (AD 41) ruler of S Syria and of Palestine east and west of the Jordan. Herod Agrippa I was strongly pro-Jewish, and he built extensively at Berytus (modern Beirut). His son, Herod Agrippa II (d. c.100), received only the northern part of his father's kingdom, and that not until c.52. He was a poor ruler and alienated his subjects. His sister was Berenice (d. c.AD 28). After the fall of Jerusalem he went to Rome. He was the last important member of his family.


The prime source of information about the dynasty is the historical writing of Josephus. See also modern studies by A. H. Jones (1938, repr. 1967), S. Sandmel (1967), M. Grant (1971), and H. W. Hoehner (1972).

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Herod (c.74–4 bc), ruled 37–4 bc, known as Herod the Great. He built the palace of Masada and rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem. According to the New Testament, Jesus was born during his reign, and he ordered the Massacre of the Innocents (Matthew 2:16). (See also out-Herod Herod.)

Of his descendants, his grandson Herod Agrippa I (10 bc–ad 44), imprisoned St Peter and put St James the Great to death. Herod Agrippa II (ad 27–c.93), son of Herod Agrippa I, presided over the trial of St Paul (Acts 25:13 ff.).
Herod Antipas (22 bc–c.40 ad), son of Herod the Great, married Herodias and was responsible for the beheading of John the Baptist. According to the New Testament (Luke 23:7), Pilate sent Jesus to be questioned by him before the Crucifixion.

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Herod. Several rulers of Jud(a)ea bore this name.1 Herod I (73–4 BCE, the Great) was appointed by his father to be governor of Galilee and, after his father's death, was appointed initially tetrarch by the Romans and, by 37 BCE, king. During his reign he embarked on an extensive building campaign including the Temple in Jerusalem. Despite this he was regarded by his Jewish subjects as a foreign agent and a destroyer of their institutions.2 Herod II, grandson of Herod I and Mariamne, ruled as king of Chalcis, 41–8 CE. During this period, he had the right to appoint high priests.3 Herod Antipas, son of Herod I and Malthace, ruled as tetrarch of Galilee, 4 BCE–39 CE, until he was exiled by the Romans.4 Herod Philip I, son of Herod I and Cleopatra of Jerusalem, ruled as tetrarch of Transjordan, 4 BCE–34 CE.

‘That fox Herod’ (Luke 13.32) is thus Herod Antipas.

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HEROD (late first century b.c.e.), son of *Herod the Great and Mariamne, daughter of *Simeon B. Boethus. Implicated in the conspiracy of his half brother *Antipater, against his father (5 b.c.e.), Herod was cut off from his father's will and forfeited his hereditary rights (he stood next to Antipater in the line of succession). Herod the Great divorced Mariamne for concealing the plot and removed her father from the office of high priest. Herod thereafter lived in Caesarea as a private citizen. His wife Herodias, the daughter of *Aristobulus, son of Mariamne the Hasmonean, left him and married his brother Herod *Antipas.


Jos., Ant., 17:78; Jos., Wars, 1:557–600; Klausner, Bayit Sheni, 4 (1963), 154, 163; A. Schalit, Hordos ha-Melekh (19643), 311, 314–6; Schuerer, Hist, 151, 156, 169; A.H.M. Jones, The Herods of Judaea (1938), index.

[Edna Elazary]

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