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Herod's Descendants

by Steve Hale

Herod the Great is only one of seven Herods mentioned in the New Testament. For this and the next couple of weeks, we will examine, Lord willing, these descendants.

Herod Antipas

Though simply referred to as Herod in the New Testament, he was actually the son of Herod the Great and a Samaritan woman, Maithace. As far as lineage is concerned, Herod Antipas was even less of a Jew than his father. Yet, he is the most frequently mentioned Herod in the New Testament.
In the hastily changed and last will of Herod the Great, Herod Antipas was to be tetrarch of Galilee. He was loathed by the populace, and was so despicable that even the Pharisees were moved to wam Jesus about him. Jesus called Herod Antipas 'that fox' ( Luke 13:31-32).
Antipas hit rock bottom though when he married Herodias. Not only was she the former wife of his half- brother Philip (Philip's mother was Cleopatra), but she was also his niece (Herodias was the daughter of another half-brother of Herod Antipas, Aristobulus).
For this double-sin, John the Baptizer rebuked Herod to his face ( Matthew 14:lff.). He refused to harm John because of the people counting him as a prophet. Sadly, when the daughter of Herodias, Salome, danced before him, he rashly promised to give anything she asked for, up to half of his kingdom. Herodias had her daughter
to ask for the head of John on a platter. Even though Herod regretted his impulsive promise, he promptly kept it.
During the trial of Jesus, Pilate sent Jesus to Herod. Of this, Luke tells us: 'And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him for a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to see some miracle done by him' ( Luke 23:8).
Jesus would not even give Herod the satisfaction of an answer. In retaliation, Luke says: "Herod with the men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate' ( Luke 23:11).
Herod Antipas was a prolific builder. He built the famous seaport of Tiberias in honor of the Roman Caesar. He rebuilt the city of Sepphoris about four miles north of Nazareth. Some believe Joseph and Jesus may have worked there as carpenters.
Herodias became jealous of the advancement of Agrippa I, her half-brother. She persuaded Herod Antipas to go to Rome and ask Caligula for a crown. However, Agrippa and Caligula were old friends, and so Caligula, rather than give Herod Antipas a crown, exiled him.
Josephus tells us he was exiled to Gaul, and later in Spain. Herodias was exiled with him. This was in A D 39, just a few years after he had mocked the Lord, arms executed John. This was fitting, because this "fox' was not fit for the human community.

The above article appeared in the Mt. Juliet Messenger, April 18, 1993


Herod's Descendants: The Agrippas

by Steve Hale

Herod Agrippa I

Herod Agrippa I was a very cruel man. He ordered the death of James, the son of Zebedee ( Acts 12:1-2). In fact, when he saw that this pleased the Jews, he ordered the arrest of Peter. Had the angel not rescued Peter, Agrippa would surely have killed him too ( Acts 12:1-16).
Why was he so cruel? Historians report that Agrippa often wept in the synagogue. He was concerned as to his Jewish ethnicity. He knew his grandfather, Herod the Great, was not a real Jew. He was comforted by Scribes who told him that his grandmother, Mariamne was a pure Jew, the granddaughter of John Hyrcanus.
It is believed this conflict caused him to be so exceedingly vicious and cruel. He knew that the king was not to be a Gentile (Deut. 17:15).
Agrippa was a close friend and former schoolmate of Caligula. This friendship caused him to be somewhat arrogant. His death was sudden and dramatic as an angel of God smote him, and he was eaten of worms (Acts.12:21-23). Josephus corroborates this awful death, and says Agrippa died at the age of 54.

Herod Agrippa II

He was the son of Agrippa I and a full brother to Bernice and Drusilla. Paul presented his famous case before this Aprippa at Caesarea.
Paul said this Agrippa had much knowledge of the Jews: 'I know thee to be an expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently' ( Acts 26:30).
Bernice, Agrippa's sister, was a very wicked woman. She was married twice, was thought to be living with Agrippa incestuously, and was the mistress of Titus in Rome, and lived with him openly in the palace.
Hearing Paul, Agrippa said: "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian" ( Acts 16:28). As war was about to break out between the Romans and the Jews, Herod Agrippa II tried to persuade the Jews not to rebel. Having failed this, Agrippa sadly fought with the Romans under Vespasian. He was even wounded in battle at the siege of Gamala.
Then came the awful destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. 600,000 to 1,000,000 Jews were killed. The Herodian temple was razed. The city was completely demolished, as even the trees were cut down to show Rome's disdain for the Jews. One wonders what was going through Agrippa's mind in the midst of this holocaust.
After this, Agrippa and Bernice moved to Rome. In Rome, he was a praetor. He died in A.D. 100 at the age of 63. Through the years, perhaps he remembered telling Paul 'almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." Perhaps he thought about Paul's innocence once again ( Acts 26:32). It is sad to think such an intelligent and talented man refused Christ.

The above article appeared in the Mt. Juliet Messenger, April 25, 1993


Herod's Descendants: Archelaus and the Two Philips

by Steve Hale

Herod Archelaus

Herod Archelaus was the son of Herod the Great and his Samaritan wife, Malthace. Therefore, Archelaus was a fuU brother to Herod Antipas. When Herod the Great died, he willed that Herod Archelaus be given Judea, Samaria, and Idumea.
Luke records Herod Archelaus in the episode surrounding the birth of Jesus. Joseph and Mary had fled the tyranny of Herod the Great by going to Egypt. Yet, the impending reign of Herod Archelaus was also foreboding: 'But when he (Joseph) heard that Archelaus did reign in Judea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee" ( Matthew 2:22).
Archelaus was a typical Herod: egotistical and immoral. He married the ex-wife of his half brother, Alexander. This woman, Glaphyra, had three children by Alexander. This disregard and immorality appalled even the corrupt Jews of the day.
Josephus tells us: "But in the tenth year of Archelaus' government, both his brethren and the principal men of Judea and Sam-aria, not able to bear his barbarous and tyrannical usage of them, accused him before Caesar."
Augustus Caesar exiled Archelaus to Gaul, making him reign for only a relatively brief period (4 B.C.- A.D. 6). His exile marked the time when the real rule fell not to Roman Procurators.

Philip of Rome

The first Philip was the son of Herod the Great by Mariamne II. He was the first husband of Herodias, the infamous schemer who plotted the death of John the Baptizer. It was his daughter, Salome, whose infamous and immoral dance entice Herod Antipas to make his foolish vow that ultimately brought about John's death.
This Philip was removed from his fathees will during one of Herod the Great's impulsive fits. He had no territories to rule, and so he lived and died in Rome.

Philip the Tetrarch

The second Philip was the son of Herod the Great and Cleopatra. His father left him rule of Gaulonitis, Trachonitis, and Paneas, thus his title of tetrarch. He is mentioned once in the gospel ( Luke 3:1).
Philip founded the city of Caesarea Philippi, which is about 50 miles southwest of Damascus. This is where Peter made his good confession. He died in A.D. 34, and his land was given to Syria. He is generally thought to be the best of the Herods.
This ends our study of the Herods. As important as they are to New Testament study, they uniformly show the tragedy of godlessness.


May 2, 1993

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