The Herods In The Bible – Do You Know Them?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Are there more Herod’s in the Bible than just King Herod that we normally think of?  Find out in this article.

The Many Herod’s

First of all, does the Bible state that there is more than one Herod or King Herod in the Bible?  I believe that there are.  Every time you read about Herod, you may not be reading about the same one and of course that depends upon how far you have read into the gospels and the Book of Acts, as we shall see, so let’ s find out together about the Herod’s of the Bible and exactly who is whom among them.

The Herods In The Bible

Herod the Great

The first Herod mentioned in the New Testament is the so-called Herod the Great but in God’s eyes, he was an absolutely evil man.  He is the Herod that was responsible for all of the young male children being put to death.  Jesus was likely a toddler by the time the Wise Men or Magi came to visit him so imagine Herod’s fierce jealously of any rival king.  He was so obsessed with protecting his throne that he had every young boy, probably 2 and under, put to death in Bethlehem and the surrounding area (Matt 2:16).  When the Wise Men told King Herod who they were seeking (Matt 2:1-2) King Herod likely didn’t want to worship Him but actually wanted to have him killed so the wise men, being warned in a dream, didn’t come back to report to King Herod where this King was at so they just left after leaving their gifts and worshiping Him (Matt 2:8-12).  Jewish historians wrote about Herod as being the first King Herod who was also referred to as King Ascalonite who was the son of Antipater.

Herod Antipas

The second King Herod was the son of Herod the Great and was called Herod Antipas or Antipater and was also known as Herod the Tetrarch (Matt 14:1).  This king heard a lot about Jesus and wanted to know about Him, thinking that He was actually John the Baptist raised from the dead (Matt 14:2) who had earlier been beheaded by him in an unwise vow made to the daughter of Herodias who danced for him in his lustful desire (Matt 14:6-9).  The word tetrarch literally means “one-quarter” because before Herod the Great’s death, he had assigned that each of his four sons would take over the rule and be granted 1/4th of the region that Herod the Great previously ruled over.  This was officially endorsed and approved by the Roman Senate.  This is the same Herod that Jesus was sent to during His illegal trial and execution by crucifixion (Luke 23).

Herod Agrippa

This king was the same one who loved to please the Jews by putting to death the Apostle James and seeing it so pleased the Jews also severely persecuted the church in Jerusalem.  He was the grandson of Herod the Great (Acts 12).  There is precious little mentioned about him in the Bible although Jewish historians describe him much like the other Herod’s in less than flattering terms.

Agrippa the Second

After Herod Agrippa’s death, his son took over and was called Agrippa II.  This king was not as evil as his predecessors and had the Apostle Paul’s life sparred and Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar” (Acts 26:32).  At least he allowed Paul to live so that the gospel was preached mostly unhindered.  Agrippa II was the last in the long, despicably wicked line of the Herod’s (Acts 25:13-26:32).  This would be the last of the Herod’s for all time because by this time, this family had fallen out of the favor of Rome, thereby ending the long ruling line of this family. None of them were ever converted and thus ended the Herodian Line of Herod’s as rulers in the Roman provinces of Judea for all time.

Were the Herod’s Jews?

The first King Herod, Herod the Great, was not a Jew but actually a descendent of the Edomite’s, an arch-enemy of the Jews for thousands of years.  Some believe he was even a half-Jew which was even more despicable to the Jews which can be seen by their treatment and feelings about the Samaritans who were called “half-breeds” who vehemently hated by the Jews.  King Herod had members of his own family murdered to protect his throne and so the young boys that were murdered during the time of Jesus’ birth were just the first of many of this so-called “madman’s” reign.  He also had a great number or rabbi’s killed and once ordered the execution of a great number of wealthy, Jewish families just so he could take their wealth.  Herod the Great sadly refused to acknowledge the only One Who is truly great and that is Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

If you have never trusted in Christ and repented of your sins, then you too will go the way of these Herod’s. You will ultimately face eternal separation from God (Rev 20:12-15).  I implore you today to consider placing your trust in the only One Who can save you from your sins (Acts 4:12; 16:30-31; John 3:16-17) if you haven’t done so already.  The reward will be in living with and in the presence of our Great God for all time in indescribable joy in the New Jerusalem that will descend from heaven.  Will you be part of that kingdom that will reign forever or will you “almost be persuaded” too?

Read about some more Bible characters here: 10 Inspirational Bible Characters

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

DocReits February 12, 2015 at 11:37 pm

Great review of the Herod’s, Pastor Jack. When you described Herod Agrippa as the one who,

“…refused to believe and held the Apostle Paul in the hopes that someone would bribe him to have Paul released.”

didn’t you mean Felix(Acts 24:26) instead of Agrippa?

DocReits

Reply

Jack Wellman February 13, 2015 at 8:49 am

Thanks Doc…you are such a good friend. I corrected the Scriptures to be Acts 25:13-26:32 because these relate to the last of the Agrippa’s so the correct chapters are done and as always, I thank you.

Reply

Andrew December 27, 2015 at 7:20 pm

When Herod put to death male children 2 years old and younger how did young John The Baptist survive?

Thank You, A.R.

Reply

Jack Wellman December 27, 2015 at 8:00 pm

Thank you Andrews. John the Baptist was not living in Bethlehem but in Jerusalem as a child.

Reply

Anna April 11, 2017 at 9:13 pm

Good question as Herod the Great was King over all Palestine. When he died he divided the territory between his 3 sons n 1 daughter. Then Herod Agrippa I was crowned king n received the title ‘the great’ also as all the territory was given to him. Then his son, Agrippa II, ruled.
The lineage of the Herodian Dynasty is very confusing n complicated because of incest n close relatives intermarriage.
HTG’s 3 sons were Herod Archeleus, Antipas n Philip. His sons were tethrachs, rulers of 1/4 th the kingdom.
Perhaps John was not born at the time of HTG’s killing of male children as he died in 4 AD.

Reply

Anna April 11, 2017 at 9:30 pm

Please disregard the comment about John as he was about the same age as Jesus.

Reply

Anna April 11, 2017 at 9:21 pm

Good question as Herod the Great was King over all Palestine. When he died he divided the territory between his 3 sons n 1 daughter. Then Herod Agrippa I was crowned king n received the title ‘the great’ also as all the territory was given to him. Then his son, Agrippa II, ruled.
The lineage of the Herodian Dynasty is very confusing n complicated because of incest n close relatives intermarriage.
HTG’s 3 sons were Herod Archeleus, Antipas n Philip. His sons were tethrachs, rulers of 1/4 th the kingdom.
.

Reply

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