Herod the Great (Biographical details)

Herod the Great (biblical figure; ruler; royal/imperial; Jewish; Male; 62 BC - 4 BC)

Also known as

Herod; Herod the Great; Herod I


King of Judaea, appointed by a declaration of the Roman senate in 40BC and first king of the Herodian dynasty. Herod fought, with Roman support, against Mattathias Antigonus (q.v.) last king of the Hasmonean dynasty for control of Judaea until Herod captured Jerusalem in 37BC.

Biblical figure, notorious for the cruelty of his reign; son of Antipater and husband of Mariamne I (grandaughter of John Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II, Hasmonean kings of Judaea). Herod executed Mariamne in 29BC and soon afterward their sons, Antipater and Aristobulus thus eliminating the last of the Hasmonean opposition. Among his many other wives, Herod also married Malthace of Samaria, by whom he had the sons Antipas (Tetrarch of Galilee) and Archelaus (Ethnarch of Judaea), and Cleopatra of Jerusalem, by whom he had the son Philip II (Tetrarch of Trachonitis).

In Herod's final will he named his son Archelaus as future king of Judaea and Samaria (he had named Antipas in the first version of his will). This title however, was not hereditary and the suggested heir had to be confirmed by Rome. Both Archelaus and his brother Antipas went to Rome to petition for royal status. Other embassies from Judaea petitioned Rome for the end of the rule of the Herodian dynasty and the annexation of Judaea to the Roman province of Syria. Augustus (q.v.) altered the terms of Herod's will, abolished the monarchy and named Archelaus 'Ethnarch' over Judaea, Samaria and Idumaea. Augustus promised that he would grant the title 'king' if Archelaeus govered well. Antipas was granted the tetrarchy of Galilee and Peraea, and Philip II was granted the tetrarchy of Trachonitis, Ituraea, Batanea, and Auranitis.

The Massacre of the Innocents (the children of Bethlehem) of which Herod is accused by the evangelist Matthew (ii.16) would have occurred at the end of his life.