Who was Herod Antipas according to the Bible?

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Herod Antipas was a son of Herod the Great by Malthace, a Samaritan woman who was also the mother of Archelaus (Matt. 2:22). Herod was also a half-brother of Philip. Matthew mentions Herod Antipas as the ruler of Galilee and Peraea by authority of Rome (Matt. 2:22; Luke 3:1). Both Matthew (ch. 14:1) and Luke refer to Herod Antipas by his official title, “tetrarch” (Luke 3:1).

Herod Antipas was “king” only by Roman appointment, and the title “king” was given only as a courtesy. He ruled over his territory from the death of his father, Herod the Great, in 4 B.C., to A.D. 39. His official residence was probably at Tiberias, a city he built on the southwestern coast of the Lake of Galilee and named after the then-ruling Caesar, Tiberius.

Herodias, his wife was a granddaughter of Herod the Great through the son of Mariamne I, another wife of Herod the Great. Herodias had previously married Philip (his brother) but divorced him and married him. Form his part, Herod had divorced the daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia. Thus, Herod and Herodias each had a living spouse. As a result of Herod’s divorcing his former wife, her father, Aretas, made war on Herod and defeated him. This defeat was viewed by the Jews as a heavenly judgment upon Herod because of his marriage to Herodias (Josephus Antiquities xviii. 5. 1, 2).

The Bible tells us that this king imprisoned John “Because John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” For this reason, Herodias was angry with John and wanted an opportunity to kill him but Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man and he protected him (Mark 6:18,19).

The opportunity for Herodias came when Herod held a birthday party for himself. At that event, Herodias’ daughter Salome danced for the king and her dancing pleased the king. So, he told her, ask me whatever you want and I will give it to you. Being instructed by her mother, she asked for the head of John the Baptist on a plate. Herod granted her the request and stained his hands by the blood of the innocent man of God (Mark 6:14–29=Matt. 14:1, 2, 6–12=Luke 9:7–9).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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