Which king did Jesus refer to as a FOX?


By BibleAsk Team

Luke 13:31-32

The king that Jesus referred to as a fox is Herod Antipas. In the New Testament, specifically in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus referred to this king as a fox during a confrontation with some Pharisees. This incident is recorded in Luke 13:31-32 of the New King James Version (NKJV), which states:

“At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to Him, ‘Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill You.’ And He said to them, ‘Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.'”

Historical Context

To understand the significance of Jesus calling Herod a fox, we need to delve into the historical and cultural context of the time.

Herod Antipas, the ruler in question, was one of the sons of Herod the Great, who was the king of Judea when Jesus was born. After Herod the Great’s death, his kingdom was divided among his sons, and Herod Antipas became the tetrarch of Galilee and Perea.

Herod Antipas was known for his cunning and sometimes ruthless nature. He ruled over a mixed population of Jews and Gentiles, and his governance was often marked by political maneuvering and attempts to maintain stability in the region. However, he was also a puppet ruler under the authority of the Roman Empire, which limited his power and autonomy.

In the passage from Luke, the Pharisees warn Jesus that Herod wants to kill Him. Jesus responds with a message for Herod, referring to him as a fox. The fox was commonly associated with slyness and cunning in Jewish culture, and Jesus’ choice of this term is significant.

It was about a year prior to this this incident that king Herod had beheaded John the Baptist “…for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife; for he had married her. Because John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife….” (Mark 6:14–29). In view of the awe in which king Herod held Jesus (Matthew 14:1, 2), and he wanted to see Him (Luke 23:8), it is most probable that he also tried to take the life of Christ as well. 

The Sanhedrin officially planned to kill Christ. But they didn’t know how to carry on their plan without revolution. The Pharisees in this incident gave their message to Jesus in order to scare Him out of Peraea into Judea, where they could capture Him. For nearly two years the Jewish leaders had been plotting His death (John 11:53, 54, 57; Matthew 15:21), and the Jews had attempted twice to stone Him (John 8:59; 10:31; 11:8). 

Herod – A Fox

By calling Herod a fox, Jesus may have been highlighting Herod’s craftiness and political cunning. Despite the threat to His life, Jesus shows no fear or intimidation. Instead, He asserts His authority and mission, stating that He will continue His work of casting out demons and performing miracles until the appointed time when He will be perfected, likely referring to His impending crucifixion and resurrection.

Furthermore, the use of the term “fox” carries a subtle warning. Foxes are known for their ability to deceive and sneak around, but they are also vulnerable creatures. Jesus may have been implying that while Herod may think himself powerful and in control, ultimately, he is subject to the divine will and judgment.

This passage also reflects Jesus’ attitude towards earthly rulers and authorities. Throughout His ministry, Jesus challenged the oppressive systems of the day and emphasized the importance of spiritual truth over temporal power. By referring to Herod as a fox, Jesus may have been reminding His followers not to place their trust in human rulers but to remain faithful to God’s kingdom.

In conclusion, when Jesus called Herod a fox in Luke 13:32, He was making a pointed statement about Herod’s character and authority. By using this term, Jesus highlighted Herod’s cunning nature while also asserting His own divine authority and mission. This passage serves as a reminder of Jesus’ willingness to confront earthly powers and his ultimate triumph over them through His death and resurrection.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

We'd love your feedback, so leave a comment!

If you feel an answer is not 100% Bible based, then leave a comment, and we'll be sure to review it.
Our aim is to share the Word and be true to it.