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Agrippa I

AGRIPPA I (a-grĭp'a). Known in history as King Herod Agrippa I and in the NT, where he is mentioned in Acts.12.1-Acts.12.25, as Herod. He was the son of Aristobulus and Bernice and grandson of Herod the Great. Through friendship with the emperors Caligula and Claudius he gained the rulership first of Iturea and Trachonitis, then of Galilee and Perea, and ultimately of Judea and Samaria. He ruled over this reunited domain of Herod the Great from a.d. 40 until his death in 44 at the age of fifty-four. While owing his position to the favor of Rome, he recognized the importance of exercising great tact in his contacts with the Jews. Thus it was that his natural humanity gave way to expediency in the severe conflict between Judaism and the growing Christian movement. He killed James, an act that “pleased the Jews,” and imprisoned Peter with the intention of bringing him before the people for execution after the Passover (Acts.12.2-Acts.12.4). Agrippa’s sudden death shortly thereafter, noted in Acts.12.20-Acts.12.23, is fully recorded by Josephus (Antiq. 19.8). On the second day of a festival held in Caesarea in honor of Claudius, Agrippa put on a silver garment of “wonderful” texture and entered the amphitheater early in the morning. When the sun’s rays shone on his garment, the brilliant glare caused his flatterers to cry out that he was a god. Josephus adds that “the king did neither rebuke them nor reject their impious flattery.” Almost immediately a severe pain arose in his abdomen; five days later he died in great agony. See also Herod.

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