Smith's Bible Dictionary


Her'od. (hero-like). This family, though of Idumean origin and thus alien by race, was Jewish in faith.

I. Herod the Great was the second son of Antipater, an Idumean, who was appointed procurator of Judea by Julius Caesar, B.C. 47. Immediately after his father's elevation, when only fifteen years old, he received the government of Galilee, and shortly afterward, that of Coele-Syria. (Though Josephus says he was 15 years old at this time, it is generally conceded that there must be some mistake, as he lived to be 69 or 70 years old, and died B.C. 4; hence, he must have been 25 years old at this time. -- Editor).

In B.C. 41, he was appointed by Antony, tetrarch of Judea. Forced to abandon Judea, the following year, he fled to Rome, and received the appointment of king of Judea. In the course of a few years, by the help of the Romans, he took Jerusalem (B.C. 37), and completely established his authority throughout his dominions. The terrible acts of bloodshed which Herod perpetrated in his own family were accompanied by others, among his subjects, equally terrible, from the number who fell victims to them.

According to the well-known story, he ordered the nobles whom he had called to him in his last moment, to be executed immediately after his decease, so that, at least, his death might be attended by universal mourning. It was at the time of his fatal illness, that he must have caused the slaughter of the infants at Bethlehem. Mat_2:16-18. He adorned Jerusalem with many splendid monuments of his taste and magnificence. The Temple, which he built with scrupulous care, was the greatest of these works. The restoration was begun B.C. 20, and the Temple itself was completed in a year and a half. But fresh additions were constantly made in succeeding years, so that it was said that the Temple was "built in forty and six years," Joh_2:20, the work continued long after Herod's death. (Herod died of a terrible disease at Jericho, in April, B.C. 4, at the age of 69, after a long reign of 37 years. -- Editor).

II. Herod Antipas was the son of Herod the Great by Malthake, a Samaritan. He first married a daughter of Aretas, "king of Arabia Petraea," but afterward, Herodias, the wife of his half-brother, Herod Philip. Aretas, indignant at the insult offered to his daughter, found a pretext for invading the territory of Herod, and defeated him with great loss. This defeat, according to the famous passage in Josephus, was attributed by many to the murder of John the Baptist, which had been committed by Antipas shortly before, under the influence of Herodias. Mat_14:4 ff.; Mar_6:17 ff.; Luk_3:19.

At a later time, the ambition of Herodias proved the cause of her husband's ruin. She urged him to go to Rome to gain the title of king, compare Mar_6:14, but he was opposed at the court of Caligula by the emissaries of Agrippa, and condemned to perpetual banishment at Lugdunum, A.D. 39. Herodias voluntarily shared his punishment, and he died in exile. Pilate took occasion from our Lord's residence in Galilee to send him for examination, Luk_23:6 ff., to Herod Antipas, who came up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. The city of Tiberias, which Antipas founded and named in honor of the emperor, was the most conspicuous monument of his long reign.

III. Herod Philip I, Mar_6:17, was the son of Herod the Great and Mariamne. He married Herodias the sister of Agrippa I by whom he had a daughter, Salome. He was excluded from all share in his father's possessions in consequence of his mother's treachery, and lived afterward in a private station.

IV. Herod Philip II. was the son of Herod the Great and Cleopatra. He received, as his own government, Batanea Trachonitis, Auramtis (Gaulanitis), and some parts about Jamnia, with the title of tetrarch. Luk_3:1. He built a new city on the site of Paneas, near the sources of the Jordan, which was called Caesarea Philippi, Mat_16:13; Mar_8:27, and raised Bethsaida to the rank of a city under the title of Julias and died there A.D. 34. He married Salome, the daughter of Herod Philip I and Herodias.

V. Herod Agrippa I was the son of Aristobulus and Berenice, and grandson of Herod the Great. He was brought up at Rome, and was thrown into prison by Tiberius, where he remained till the accession of Caligula, who made him king, first of the tetrarchy of Philip and Lysanias; afterward the dominions of Antipas were added, and finally Judea and Samaria. Unlike his predessors, Agrippa was a strict observer of the law, and he sought, with success, the favor of the Jews. It is probable that it was with this view, he put to death James the son of Zebedee, and further imprisoned Peter. Act_12:1 ff. But his sudden death interrupted his ambitious projects. Act_12:21; Act_12:23.

VI. Herod Agrippa II was the son of Herod Agrippa I. In A.D. 62, the emperor gave him the tetrarches formerly held by Philip and Lysanias, with the title of king. Act_25:13. The relation in which he stood to his sister Berenice, Act_25:13, was the cause of grave suspicion. It was before him that Paul was tried. Act_26:28.


Taken from: Smith's Bible Dictionary by Dr. William Smith (1884)