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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Herod

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1. Antipas, son of Herod the Great by the Samaritan Malthace. Made tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea after the death of his father in 4 b.c., he ruled over these regions till a.d. 39, when, through the intrigues of Herod Agrippa and his own ambition, he incurred the disfavour of Caligula, and was banished to Lugdunum in Gaul. Capable and successful as an administrator, he is held up to reproach in the Gospels for the scandal of his private life, and his treatment of John the Baptist and Jesus (Matthew 14:1-12, Luke 13:31 f.; Luke 23:7-12.). Elsewhere in the NT there are only two references to him. The first (Acts 4:27) occurs in the thanksgiving of the early disciples over the release of Peter and John from imprisonment, and indicates their view of Herod’s relation to the tragedy of Calvary. The basis of the thanksgiving is a Messianic interpretation of the 2nd Psalm and a belief in its fulfilment in Jesus. Herod and Pontius Pilate are represented as the kings and rulers of the earth who conspired (Luke 23:12) against the Lord’s Anointed, and wreaked their will on Him, while all the time they were being used by God to further His purpose of redemption. The fact, however, that God over-ruled their evil intentions for good, and caused their wrath to praise Him, though it redounds to His own glory and augments the wonder of His working, is not regarded as any alleviation of their guilt. The sin of Herod, as of Pilate, in relation to Jesus, is clearly implied, and evidently seemed as heinous to the early believers as did his crime against John to the Baptist’s followers, who saw in the disasters of his Arabian war (a.d. 36) a Divine retribution for his murder of their master (Jos. Ant. xviii. v.). The other reference to Herod Antipas (Acts 13:1) is unimportant, though of some interest for the sidelight it casts upon the age of Manaen (q.v. [Note: quod vide, which see.] ), one of the leaders in the Church at Antioch, who is said to have been his foster-brother or early companion.

2. Agrippa I., son of Aristobulus, Herod the Great’s son by the Hasmonaean Mariamne. After his father’s execution in 7 b.c. he was sent to Rome with his mother Bernice, and lived on terms of intimacy with the Imperial family. In a.d. 23 his intrigues and extravagances had brought him to such straits that he was forced to retire to the Idumaean stronghold of Malatha till be found an asylum with Antipas in Galilee. Evading his creditors, he returned to Rome in a.d. 36, and shortly afterwards was committed to prison for an incautious remark that had reached the ears of Tiberius. There he lay till the following year, when the death of the old Emperor and the accession of his friend Caius (Caligula) restored him to freedom and fortune. The new Emperor bestowed on him the eastern tetrarchy of his half-uncle Philip, which had been vacant for three years, with the title of king, and added to it Abilene, the former tetrarchy of Lysanias in north-eastern Palestine (Luke 3:1); at the same time he commanded the Senate to decree him praetorian honours, and gave him a golden chain of the same weight and pattern as that which he had worn in his captivity. A few years later the tetrarchy of the exiled Antipas was also conferred on him; and in a.d. 41 Claudius, on his succession to the throne, still further enlarged his possessions with the gift of Samaria and Judaea , and raised him to consular rank. In the splendour of his good fortune Agrippa did not forget his Jewish countrymen, but fitfully at least, and probably from motives of policy, exerted his influence at the Roman court to mitigate the wrongs and restrictions entailed on them by their religion. On assuming the government of his new dominions-greater than Jewish king ever possessed-he set himself to observe the laws of his country and the Practices of the Jewish faith (Jos. Ant. xix. vii.). During his three years of rule, he showed himself sagacious, liberal, and humane; though, in his desire to propitiate the Pharisaic element among his subjects, he raised his hand against the followers of Christ, killed James with the sword, and would have sacrificed Peter also, had he not miraculously escaped (Acts 12:1-19). ‘He saw it pleased the Jews’ is the explanation given of this severity in Acts (acts 12:3), and there is no reason to doubt its substantial accuracy. The end came to Agrippa with tragic suddenness in a.d. 44, when his glory was at its height. Between the account of his death given in Acts (acts 12:20-23) and that of Josephus (Ant. xix. viii.) there is no more inconsistency than might have been expected from the different circles in which they originated. The latter is more detailed, and yet omits to mention the deputation from Tyre and Sidon who sought reconciliation with King Agrippa through the good offices of his chamberlain. According to Josephus, the occasion of Agrippa’s display at Caesarea was a series of games in honour of Claudius; no angel of the Lord smote him, but an owl appeared as a portent before the fatal seizure; he was carried to his palace, and lingered in agony for five days. There is nothing about his having been ‘eaten of worms,’ which may have been only a descriptive phrase commonly used of the death of tyrants (2 Maccabees 9:9). Both accounts, however, suggest the interposition of a higher, avenging hand in the sudden death of the king.

3. Agrippa II., son of Agrippa I. and Cypros, the daughter of Phasael, a son-in-law of Herod the Great. At the time of his father’s death, he was resident in Rome, and only seventeen years of age. Disposed at first to grant him the succession to the Jewish kingdom, Claudius allowed himself to the dissuaded by his ministers, and re-transformed it into a Roman province. Detaining Agrippa in Rome, the Emperor compensated him six years afterwards for the loss of his paternal inheritance by giving him his uncle Herod’s kingdom of Chalcis, as well as the rights, which Herod had possessed, of supervising the Temple and choosing the high priest. A year before his death, Claudius allowed Agrippa to exchange the meagre principality of Chalcis for those parts of his father’s dominions, east and north-east of the Sea of Galilee, which had formerly been the tetrarchies of Philip and Lysanias (Batanaea, Gaulonitis, Trachonitis, and Abila). In a.d. 56 Nero, who had meanwhile succeeded to the throne and expected his aid against the Parthians, added to his kingdom the regions of Tiberias and Taricheae, with Julias, a city of Peraea, and fourteen villages in its vicinity. Agrippa showed his gratitude by changing the name of his capital from Caesarea Philippi to Neronias, in honour of the Emperor, on whose birthday also he had Greek plays annually performed in a theatre which he erected at Berytus. Precluded by his position from independent political action, he contented himself with adorning his cities and conserving his possessions. A Roman at heart, and devoted by education and circumstances to the Roman influence, he endeavoured to bring the customs of his people into conformity with those of the Gentiles. At the same time, he evinced an occasional interest in the Jewish religion, and sought to win over the Pharisees to his projects. In the final struggle between the Jews and Rome, which he did his utmost to avert, he maintained his loyalty to the Imperial power, and at the close of the war was rewarded with an enlargement of his territories. We hear of him in Rome in a.d. 75, when he was raised to praetorian rank. Later on, he corresponded with Josephus about his History of the Jewish War. He died, without issue, about the end of the century. It was this king, Agrippa II., who was associated with Porcius Festus, the Roman procurator of Palestine (a.d. 60-62), in the trial of St. Paul recorded in Acts 25:13-27; Acts 26:1-32. The remark imputed to him on that occasion (‘almost then persuadest me to be a Christian,’ 26:28) is interesting for the evidence it affords of the early currency of the name ‘Christian.’ The character of Agrippa has caused doubt to be thrown on its ordinary interpretation as an admission of the profound impression made on him by St. Paul’s appeal. It has been taken to mean either ‘you are persuading me somewhat to act the part of a Christian,’ or ‘on slight grounds would make me a believer in your assertion that the Messiah has come’ (Encyclopaedia Biblica i. 754 n. [Note: . note.] , ii. 2037).

Literature.-The great authority for the lives of the Herods is Josephus. E. Schürer, GJV [Note: JV Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes (Schürer).] 4, Leipzig, 1901-11 (Eng. translation of 2nd ed. History of the Jewish People (Eng. tr. of GJV).] , Edinburgh, 1885-90); A. Hausrath, Neutestamentliche Zeitgeschichte (Holtzmann and others).(Eng. translation of 2nd ed., London, 1895); and other Histories of NT Times, give more or less full accounts of the family. See also articles s.v. in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) and Encyclopaedia Biblica .

D. Frew.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Herod'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/h/herod.html. 1906-1918.

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