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Herod the Great Herod the Great was born in Southern Palestine, and was an Idumean by birth. His family had political ties to Julius Caesar and, after Palestine was conquered by the Romans, Herod was appointed king over Judea and began to rule over the Jewish people in 37 AD. He tried to gain favor with the Jews by marrying a princess of the Maccabean line named Mariamne; however, he would later put her to death out of fear for his own throne. Herod married 10 wives and had over 50 kids. His wives constantly tried to promote the interests of their own children in Herod’s house, which led to much conflict and intrigue within Herod’s family. Herod married off many of his children to other members of his family (brothers, nephews, and nieces). Often these members of Herod’s family would change partners in violation of Jewish law. Herod is well-known for his building projects, including construction at Jericho and Caesarea, a fortress at Masada (known for the “last stand” of the Jews against the Romans in the latter part of the 1st Century AD), and expansion of the Jewish Temple. He is most notorious in the New Testament for ordering the death of all male babies in Bethlehem in an attempt to kill Jesus (Matthew 2:16). When he died, Herod’s kingdom was divided among three of his sons: Herod Antipas, Herod Archelaus, and Herod Philip. Herod Antipas Herod Antipas was Tetrach (ruler) of Galilee (where Jesus grew up) and Perea (the land beyond the Jordan river, where John the Baptist did his ministry) from around 4 BC – AD 39. Antipas divorced his first wife, the daughter of Aretas IV (king of the Nabataeans) and married Herodias, his niece and former wife of his brother, Herod Philip I. This caused a war with Aretas IV, and (to make matters worse), Antipas was also condemned for his adulterous relationship with Herodias by none other than John the Baptist. Because of John’s preaching against him, Antipas threw John into prison (Mark 6:17) and beheaded him. Later in his reign, Antipas was convinced by Herodias to go to Caesar and ask that he be given the title of “King”. However, Caesar had already been turned against Antipas (by one of Antipas’ siblings) and removed Antipas from his position and exiled him to the Roman province of Gaul. Antipas is actually the Herod that is most frequently mentioned in the New Testament. Besides putting John the Baptist into prison, he also sees Jesus shortly before Jesus’ crucifixion. Pilate, the Roman governor in charge of Jesus’ trial, tries to send Jesus to Antipas in order to avoid making a final decision on Jesus. After Antipas mocked Jesus, he sent Jesus back to Pilate, who would subsequently crucify Jesus (Luke 23:6-12). Herodias Herodias was the daughter of Aristobulus and granddaughter of Herod the Great. She married her uncle Herod Philip I, by whom she had a daughter named Salome. Herodias eventually left Philip and married another uncle, Herod Antipas. Later, after her brother Agrippa I became king, Herodias convinced Antipas to go to Rome to ask the Emperor to make him king instead. However, Agrippa was aware of this action and had already accused Antipas of treason; Antipas was subsequently exiled to the Roman province of Gaul. Herodias’ claim to fame in the New Testament is found in Mark 6:14-29. John the Baptist had condemned her relationship with Antipas, and as a result, Antipas had John thrown into prison. When the opportunity came, Herodias asked that John be beheaded. Salome Salome was the daughter of Herodias and Herod Philip I. Following the examples of her other family members, she married her uncle Philip the Tetrarch. After some time Philip the Tetrach died and Salome married her cousin, Aristobulus of Chalcis. Salome is famously depicted in Mark 6:21-25. She dances for her uncle, Herod Antipas, who is so pleased with her dancing that he tells her that he will give her whatever she asks for. At her mother’s insistence, Salome asks for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Herod Agrippa I Agrippa I was a grandson of Herod the Great, and who was eventually appointed King of Judea by the Emperor Claudius I. Agrippa had one of his uncles, Herod Antipas, accused of treason; this eventually led to Antipas’ exile. To promote peace in Judea, Agrippa I adopted many pro-Jewish policies during his reign. A connection to these policies is made in Acts 12:1-3, where Agrippa I has the apostle James killed with the sword and Peter arrested and put into prison because those actions pleased Agrippa’s subjects. Agrippa II and Bernice Herod Agrippa II and Bernice were brother and sister, both children of Herod Agrippa I. Agrippa II was appointed ruler over Batanea, Trachonitis, and parts of Galilee by Emperor Claudius I of Rome. Bernice famously married a handful of men: Marcus, son of a magistrate of Alexandria; then her uncle Herod of Chalcis; then Polemon II of Cilicia. She left Polemon II and lived for a while with her brother, Herod Agrippa II (the two were rumored to have had an incestuous relationship). Bernice later became mistress to Emperor Titus of Rome, but he eventually sent her away because of the disapproval of the Roman people. Agrippa II and Bernice are mentioned in Acts 25-26, in which the Apostle Paul is a Roman prisoner awaiting transport to Rome, where his case will be tried before Caesar. Agrippa, being familiar with Jewish customs, was interested to hear Paul’s case, so Paul was brought before Agrippa and Bernice. When Paul presented his story to Agrippa, the king stated that Paul “could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar”.