Herod [Hûr'od]—son of the hero or the glory of the skin. Space forbids a detailed account of the genealogical table of the family of Herod. From Antipater, Governor of Idumaea, there were many branches. Elaborating on the history of the Herods, Henry S. Nash in his Hastings Dictionary article says that they brought into history a considerable amount of vigor and ability, and that the main interest attaching to the Herods is not concerned with their characters as individual rulers.
“They acquire dignity when they are viewed as parts of a supremely dramatic situation in universal history. The fundamental elements in the situation are two.
“The course of world-power in antiquity, and the relation between it and the political principle in the constitution of the Chosen People.
“The religious genius of Judaism, and its relation to the political elements in the experience of the Jews.”
Among the many of the Herodian house, mention can be made of three, prominent in New Testament history.
- Herod the Great. This son of Antipater had shown himself before his father’s death both masterful and merciless. Because of his rule he earned the tile “Herod the Great.” He is remembered for his massacre of the innocents, the murder of several of his sons and for his own appalling death. Stewart Perowne in his recent monumental study, The Life and Times of Herod the Great, tells us that Herod’s life was as “eventful as his buildings were magnificent... His charm made him a close personal friend, first of Mark Antony, later of Augustus and Agrippa . . . Herod’s greatest achievement was the building of the Temple in Jerusalem” (Matt. 2:1-22; Luke 1:5).
- Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great by his Samaritan wife, Matthaec. He became tetrarch of Galilee and Pernea. A man of craft, his cunning served him well. “The corroding immorality of his race shows itself in his marriage with Herodias, his brother’s wife.” His lust proved his undoing and also cost John the Baptist his head. Ultimately he was banished (Matt. 14:1-6; Mark 6:14-22; 8:15; Luke 3:1, 19; 8:3; 9:7, 9; 13:31; 23:7-15; Acts 4:27; 13:1).
- The grandson of Herod the Great, and the son of Aristobulus and Bernice. He became Herod Agrippa I. Caligula gave him the governments of the tetrarchs Philip and Lysanias with other marks of royal favor. Parading as a little tin god, he was smitten with a foul disease and died in great agony (Acts 12; 23:35).