Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Idioms, Wikipedia.
Related to Herod: Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate


Herod, dynasty reigning in Palestine at the time of Jesus. As a dynasty the Herods depended largely on the power of Rome. They are usually blamed for the state of virtual anarchy in Palestine at the beginning of the Christian era.

Antipater (fl. c.65 B.C.) was founder of the family fortune. He was an Idumaean and gave refuge to Hyrcanus II (see Maccabees), thus gaining a stronghold in Palestine. His son Antipater (d. 43 B.C.) was favored by Julius Caesar, who made him (c.55 B.C.) virtual ruler of all of Palestine.

The son of the second Antipater was Herod the Great (d. 4 B.C.), who gave the family its name. He was friendly with Antony, who secured him (37–4 B.C.) the title of king of Judaea; after the battle of Actium he made peace with Octavian (later Augustus), who thereafter showed him great favor. He made great efforts to mollify the Jews by publicly observing the Law, by building a temple, and by reestablishing the Sanhedrin. He promoted Hellenization and adorned most of his cities, especially Jerusalem.

Herod married ten times, and the various families in the palace intrigued against each other continually. In his last years Herod was subject to some sort of insanity, and he became bloodthirsty. He executed (6 B.C.) Aristobulus and Alexander, his sons by Mariamne, granddaughter of Hyrcanus II. He executed (4 B.C.) Antipater, son of his first wife, when he found out that Antipater had instigated the intrigues that led to the execution of Aristobulus and Alexander. This was the Herod who was ruling at the time of Jesus' birth and who ordered the massacre of the Innocents (Mat. 2; see Holy Innocents).

Herod the Great divided his kingdom among his sons Archelaus, Herod Antipas, and Philip. Archelaus (d. after A.D. 6) ruled Palestine south of the Vale of Jezreel from 4 B.C. to A.D. 6; he was removed by Augustus after complaints by the Jews. Herod Antipas (d. after A.D. 39), tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea, was the Herod who executed John the Baptist and who was ruling at the time of Jesus' death.

Herod Antipas repudiated his wife, daughter of Aretas, to marry his niece Herodias, wife of his half-brother Herod Philip, whom she divorced to marry Herod Antipas. This affair gained Herod Antipas many enemies, and the vaulting ambitions of Herodias eventually ruined him. She drove him to seek a royal title, and he was banished by Caligula in A.D. 39. Philip (d. A.D. 34) was tetrarch of the region east of Galilee; his kingdom was non-Jewish, and he pursued a successful Romanizing and Hellenizing policy. He was probably the best of his family; his wife was Salome (1.) He built Caesarea Philippi.

The eldest son of the executed Aristobulus, Herod Agrippa I (d. A.D. 44), was a man of some ability. Out of friendship Caligula made him king (A.D. 39) of Philip's tetrarchy; later he was made (A.D. 41) ruler of S Syria and of Palestine east and west of the Jordan. Herod Agrippa I was strongly pro-Jewish, and he built extensively at Berytus (modern Beirut). His son, Herod Agrippa II (d. c.100), received only the northern part of his father's kingdom, and that not until c.52. He was a poor ruler and alienated his subjects. His sister was Berenice (d. c.A.D. 28). After the fall of Jerusalem he went to Rome. He was the last important member of his family.


The prime source of information about the dynasty is the historical writing of Josephus. See also modern studies by A. H. Jones (1938, repr. 1967), S. Sandmel (1967), M. Grant (1971), and H. W. Hoehner (1972).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


angry at wise men’s disobedience, orders slaughter of male infants. [N.T.: Matthew 2:16–17]
See: Anger
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


called the Great. ?73--4 bc, king of Judaea (37--4). The latter part of his reign was notable for his cruelty: according to the New Testament he ordered the Massacre of the Innocents
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus 2and said to his servants, "This man is John the Baptist.
Herod was delighted to have Jesus before him now; for a long time he had wanted to see him because of the reports about him, and he was hoping to see Jesus work some miracle.
Insecure of his reign, Herod tried to pry information on where to find this child King.
Herod's carroza depicted how he gathered priests and scribes in his search for the child Jesus.
The other convincing performer was Michael Colvin as Herod. Adopting an almost-Sprechgesang approach he made sense ofTom Hammond's rather vowel-starved English translation, and moved with freedom where others seem rooted to the spot.
Independent researchers analyze 788 specimens struck from 81 obverse and 222 reverse dies at Tiberias for Herod Antipas when he ruled Galilee and Perea during the 1st century.
After providing historical groundwork in chapters on Rome and its client kings, Hellenistic monarchies, and Judaean history from the Maccabees to Herod, Marshak begins his detailed study of Herod's rise to power and his use of visual symbols in order to consolidate that power.
Herod promises Salome anything if she'll dance for him.
Katarina Karneus and Arnold Bezuyen as Herodias and Herod gave voice to the most awkward of marital tiffs as their headstrong daughter made her tricky demand.
Surviving family members include his wife, Rebecca Wells of Herod; daughters Sally (Mackie) Green of Bloomington, Janis (Jeff) Potter of Fairbury, IL and Lorri Potter of Fairbury; stepdaughter Brandy (Bryan) Kopman of Golconda; stepson Jeremy Byron of Harrisburg; sister Debbie Bellcher of St.
'We were in contact with PhannPheach's wife and were expecting to see him here this week,' Herod said in a message.
Quodvultdeus accuses Herod: "You destroy those who are tiny in body because fear is destroying your heart." When a heart becomes as shriveled and unresponsive as Herod's, no appeal to compassion is likely.