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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Hero´dians, a class of Jews that existed in the time of Jesus Christ, whether of a political or religious description it is not easy, for want of materials, to determine. The passages of the New Testament which refer to them are the following: ; ; ; . They were associated with the emissaries of the chief priests sent to our Lord with the express but covert design of ensnaring him in his speech, that thus they might compass his destruction. The question they put to him was one of the most difficult—'Is it lawful to pay tribute to Caesar?' The way in which Jesus extricated Himself from the difficulty and discomfited his enemies is well known.

Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee, was at that time specially the ruler of Jesus, whose home was in that province. The Herodians then may have been subjects of Herod, Galileans, whose evidence the priests were wishful to procure, because theirs would be the evidence of fellow-countrymen, and of special force with Antipas as being that of his own immediate subjects ().

Herod's relations with Rome were in an unsafe condition. He was a weak prince, given to ease and luxury, and his wife's ambition conspired with his own desires to make him strive to obtain from the Emperor Caligula the title of king. For this purpose he took a journey to Rome, and was banished to Lyons in Gaul.

The Herodians may have been favorers of his pretensions: if so, they would be partial hearers, and eager witnesses against Jesus before the Roman tribunal. It would be a great service to the Romans to be the means of enabling them to get rid of one who aspired to be king of the Jews. It would equally gratify their own lord, should the Herodians give effectual aid in putting a period to the mysterious yet formidable claims of a rival claimant of the crown.

We do not see that the two characters here ascribed to the Herodians are incompatible; and if they were a Galilean political party who were eager to procure from Rome the honor of royalty for Herod (, the name of king is merely as of courtesy), they were chosen as associates by the Sanhedrim with especial propriety.

The deputation were to 'feign themselves just men,' that is, men whose sympathies were entirely Jewish, and, as such, anti-heathen: they were to intimate their dislike of paying tribute, as being an acknowledgment of a foreign yoke; and by flattering Jesus, as one who loved truth, feared no man, and would say what He thought, they meant to inveigle Him into a condemnation of the practice. In order to carry these base and hypocritical designs into effect, the Herodians were appropriately associated with the Pharisees; for as the latter were the recognized conservators of Judaism, so the former were friends of the aggrandizement of a native as against a foreign prince.





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Herodians'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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