The Herodian dynasty was a royal dynasty of Idumaean (Edomite) descent, ruling the Herodian Kingdom of Judea and later the Herodian Tetrarchy as a vassal state of the Roman Empire. The Herodian dynasty began with Herod the Great, who assumed the throne of Judea, with Roman support, bringing down the century-old Hasmonean Kingdom. His kingdom lasted until his death in 4 BCE, when it was divided among his sons and daughter as a tetrarchy, which lasted for about 10 years. Most of those tetrarchies, including Judea proper, were incorporated into Judaea Province from 6 CE, though limited Herodian de facto kingship continued until Agrippa I's death in 44 CE and nominal title of kingship continued until 92 CE, when the last Herodian monarch, Agrippa II, died and Rome assumed full power over his de jure domain.

House of Herod
Hebrew: בית הורדוס
FounderAntipater the Idumaean





During the time of the Hasmonean ruler John Hyrcanus (134–104 BCE), Judea conquered Edom (Idumea) and forced the Edomites to convert to Judaism.[1]

The Edomites were gradually integrated into the Judean nation, and some of them reached high-ranking positions. In the days of Alexander Jannaeus, the Edomite Antipas was appointed governor of Edom.[2] His son Antipater, father of Herod the Great, was the chief adviser to Hasmonean Hyrcanus II and managed to establish a good relationship with the Roman Republic, who at that time (63 BCE) extended their influence over the region,[3] following conquest of Syria and intervention in a civil war in Judea.

There are differing genealogies for the dynasty, depending on the source. According to Sextus Julius Africanus, Antipater's father was named Herod, and Epiphanius of Salamis writes that this Herod's father was named Antipas. It is Josephus who states that Antipas fathered Antipater, without further delineating his ancestry. This model is usually accepted by scholars.

Julius Caesar appointed Antipater to be procurator of Judea in 47 BCE[4] and he appointed his sons Phasael and Herod to be governors of Jerusalem and Galilee respectively. Antipater was murdered in 43 BCE; however, his sons managed to hold the reins of power and were elevated to the rank of tetrarchs in 41 BCE by Mark Antony.[3][5]

Rise to power


In 40 BCE, the Parthians invaded the eastern Roman provinces and managed to drive the Romans out of many areas.[6][7] In Judea, the Hasmonean dynasty was restored under king Antigonus II Mattathias as a pro-Parthian monarch. Herod the Great, the son of Antipater the Idumaean and Cypros (possibly of Nabataean descent), managed to escape to Rome. After convincing the Roman Senate of his sincere intentions in favor of Romans he eventually was announced as king of the Jews by the Roman Senate.[8]

Despite his announcement as king of the whole of Judea, Herod did not fully conquer it until 37 BCE.[9] He subsequently ruled the Herodian kingdom as a vassal king for 34 years, crushing the opposition while also initiating huge building projects, including the harbor at Caesarea Maritima, the plaza surrounded by retaining walls at the Temple Mount, the Masada and the Herodium, among other fortresses and public works.[10][11] Herod ruled Judea until 4 BCE;[10] at his death, his kingdom was divided among his three sons as a tetrarchy.[12]



Herod Archelaus, son of Herod and Malthace the Samaritan, was given the title of ethnarch and ruled over the main part of the kingdom: Judea proper, Idumea, and Samaria. He ruled for ten years until 6 CE, when he was "banished to Vienna in Gaul, where according to Cassius Dio, "Hist. Roma," lv. 27—he lived for the remainder of his days."[13] See also Census of Quirinius.

Philip, sometimes erroneously called Herod Philip II, was the son of Herod and his fifth wife Cleopatra of Jerusalem. He was given the title of tetrarch with jurisdiction over the northeast part of his father's kingdom: Iturea, Trachonitis, Batanaea, Gaulanitis, Auranitis, and Paneas. He ruled until his death in 34 CE.

Herod Antipas, another son of Herod and Malthace, was made a tetrarch of Galilee and Perea; he ruled there until he was exiled to Spain by emperor Caligula in 39 CE, according to Josephus.[14] Herod Antipas is the person referenced in the Christian New Testament Gospels, playing a role in the death of John the Baptist[15] and the trial of Jesus. The Gospel of Luke states that Jesus was first brought before Pontius Pilate for trial, since Pilate was the governor of Roman Judea, which encompassed Jerusalem where Jesus was arrested. Pilate initially handed him over to Antipas, in whose territory Jesus had been most active, but Antipas sent him back to Pilate's court.

Last rulers


Herod Agrippa was the grandson of Herod. Thanks to his friendship with Caligula, the emperor appointed him ruler with the title of king over the territories of Philip in 37 CE, which were after Philip's death in 34 CE shortly part of the Roman province of Syria, and in 40 CE he was given the territories of Herod Antipas. In 41 CE, Emperor Claudius added to his territory the parts of Judea province that previously belonged to Herod Archelaus. Thus Agrippa I practically re-united his grandfather's kingdom under his rule. Agrippa died in 44 CE.

Agrippa's son Herod Agrippa II was appointed a tetrarch of Chalcis and later king of the territories previously ruled by Philip. He actively participated in the quelling of the Great Revolt of Judea on the Roman side. Agrippa II was the last of the Herodians; with his death in c. 92 or 100 CE the dynasty was extinct, and the kingdom became fully incorporated into the Roman province of Judaea.

In addition, Herod of Chalcis ruled as king of Chalcis, and his son, Aristobulus of Chalcis, was tetrarch of Chalcis and king of Armenia Minor.

List of Herodian rulers (47 BCE – 100 CE)


Herodian dynasty in later culture





  • Hordos u-Miryam (1935), a Hebrew novel by Aaron Orinowsky
  • Mariamne (1967), a Swedish novel by Pär Lagerkvist
  • Claudius the God (1934), an English novel by Robert Graves, features Herod Agrippa I as an important character







Figurative arts




Performing arts








Family tree of the Herodian dynasty

Antipater the Idumaean
procurator of Judea
2.Mariamne I
3.Mariamne II
Herod I the Great
5.Cleopatra of Jerusalem
Phasael I
(1) Antipater
heir of Judaea
(2) Alexander I
heir of Judea
(2) Aristobulus IV
prince of Judea
(3) Herod II Philip
prince of Judea
(4) Herod Archelaus
ethnarch of Judea, Idumea & Samaria
(4) Herod Antipas
tetrarch of Galilea & Perea
(5) Philip the Tetrarch
of Iturea & Trachonitis
Tigranes V of ArmeniaAlexander II
Herod Agrippa I
king of Judea
Herod V
king of Chalcis
Aristobulus Minor
prince of Judea
Tigranes VI of ArmeniaHerod Agrippa II
king of Batanaea
tetrarch of Chalcis
Gaius Julius Alexander
ruler of Cilicia
Gaius Julius Alexander Berenicianus
proconsul of Asia
Gaius Julius Agrippa
quaestor of Asia
Lucius Julius Gainius Fabius Agrippa

See also



  1. ^ "Peoples Beyond Palestine". Anxious Bench. 2015-11-06. Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  2. ^ "Kingdoms of the Levant - Edom". Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  3. ^ a b Jarus, Owen (11 March 2019). "Who Was the Real King Herod?". Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  4. ^ "The Family of Herod the Great - Grace Notes". Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  5. ^ Flader, Fr John (2020-06-17). "Which Herod was which? Sorting out the five Herods". The Catholic Weekly. Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  6. ^ "Why the Magi got a bad press". The Jerusalem Post. 15 December 2015. Retrieved 2020-09-19.
  7. ^ "Rome, Iran, and the Specters of Antiquity". Foreign Policy Journal. 25 January 2020. Retrieved 2020-09-19.
  8. ^ Jewish War 1.14.4: Mark Antony " …then resolved to get him made king of the Jews… told them that it was for their advantage in the Parthian war that Herod should be king; so they all gave their votes for it. And when the senate was separated, Antony and Caesar went out, with Herod between them; while the consul and the rest of the magistrates went before them, in order to offer sacrifices [to the Roman gods], and to lay the decree in the Capitol. Antony also made a feast for Herod on the first day of his reign."
  9. ^ "Palestinian Authority demolishing Hasmonean dynasty fortress - report". The Jerusalem Post. 13 May 2020. Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  10. ^ a b Ponchner, Debbie. "Archeologists Restore Flooring That Adorned the Second Temple of Jerusalem". Scientific American. Retrieved 2020-09-21.
  11. ^ Leichman, Abigail Klein (2020-06-18). "The 10 most iconic archeological sites in Israel". ISRAEL21c. Retrieved 2020-09-21.
  12. ^ Flader, Fr John (2020-06-17). "Which Herod was which? Sorting out the five Herods". The Catholic Weekly. Retrieved 2020-09-21.
  13. ^ "Archelaus". Jewish Encyclopedia.
  14. ^ Josephus, Antiquities 18.181.
  15. ^ GCT. "August 29: Beheading Of John The Baptist". Greek City Times. Retrieved 2020-09-18.


  • Julia Wilker, Für Rom und Jerusalem. Die herodianische Dynastie im 1. Jahrhundert n.Chr. (Berlin, Verlag Antike, 2007) (Studien zur Alten Geschichte, 5).

Further reading

  • Burrell, Barbara, and Ehud Netzer. “Herod the Builder.” Journal of Roman Archaeology 12 (1999): 705–715.
  • Kokkinos, Nikos. The Herodian Dynasty: Origins, Role In Society and Eclipse. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998.
  • Kropp, Andreas J M. “Kings in Cuirass – Some Overlooked Full-Length Portraits of Herodian and Nabataean Dynasts.” Levant 45, no. 1 (2013): 45–56.
  • Richardson, Peter. Herod: King of the Jews and Friend of the Romans. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996.
  • Rocca, Samuel. Herod’s Judaea: a Mediterranean state in the classical world. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008.