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A Jewish family of Idumean descent prominent in the government of Palestine in the NT period, after their ancestor Antipater had been appointed procurator of Judea by Julius Caesar in 47 b.c.

(1) Herod the Great (c.73-4 b.c.) was the son of Antipater and a man of ruthless ability. He married Mariamne, who was the heiress of the Hasmonaean dynasty, so hoping to win the favor of the Jews. He rebuilt the Temple at Jerusalem, but he was never fully accepted by the Jews. He worked faithfully for the Roman authorities and was given by them the title “King of the Jews” in 37 b.c. He promoted Hellenism in Palestine. His suspicion of plots led to the murders of his wife and members of his family, and of the children in the area of Bethlehem (Matt. 2). After his death the Jews petitioned for direct Roman rule. In his will the territory was allotted to his sons-Judea, Samaria, and Idumea to Archelaus; Galilee and Perea to Antipas; and Batanea, Trachonitis, Iturea, and Auranitis to Philip.

(2) Archelaus was ethnarch in Judea from 4 b.c. to a.d. 6, but after a deputation went to Rome, he was deposed and exiled.

(3) Herod Antipas, known as “the Tetrarch,” features most prominently in the gospels, which show him as a man of ability and cunning (“that fox,” Luke 13:32), responsible for the execution of John the Baptist (Mark 6:14-28). Jesus was sent to him by Pilate for judgment (Luke 23:7-12). Herod was defeated in battle by Aretas IV of Nabatea in a.d. 36, and three years later was deposed and exiled by the Romans as a plotter.

(4) Philip seems to have ruled well until his death in a.d. 34.

(5) Herod Agrippa I was given by the emperor Gaius (Caligula) the tetrarchy of Philip after his death and that of Antipas after the latter's banishment. In a.d. 41 Claudius gave him the Roman province of Judea and Samaria. He was in favor with the Jews, but became extremely arrogant and was struck by sudden fatal illness in a.d. 44.

(6) Herod Agrippa II was his son, but was given less territory than his father. He was involved in the examination of Paul in Acts 25 and 26. He tried to dissuade the Jews from revolting in a.d. 66.

in addition to traditional sources, A.H.M. Jones, The Herods of Judaea (1938); S. Perowne, Life and Times of Herod the Great (1956) and The Later Herods (1958); H.W. Hoehner, Herod Antipas (1972).