The Full Wiki

Herod Antipas: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

Herod Antipas (short for Antipatros) (before 20 BC – after 39 AD) was a first century AD ruler of Galilee and Perea, who bore the title of tetrarch ("ruler of a quarter"). He is best known today for his purported role in the events that led to the executions of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth, both from the accounts of these events in the New Testament and their portrayal in modern media such as film.

After inheriting his territories when the kingdom of his father Herod the Great was divided upon his death in 4 BC, Antipas ruled them as a client state of the Roman Empire. He was responsible for building projects at Sepphoris and Betharamphtha, and more importantly for the construction of his capital Tiberiasmarker on the western shore of the Sea of Galileemarker. Named in honor of his patron, the emperor Tiberius, the city later became a center of rabbinic learning.

Antipas divorced his first wife Phasaelis, the daughter of King Aretas IV of Nabatea, in favour of Herodias, who had formerly been married to his brother. According to the New Testament Gospels, it was John the Baptist's condemnation of this arrangement that led Antipas to have him arrested; John was subsequently put to death. The Gospel of Luke states that when Jesus was brought before Pontius Pilate for trial, Pilate handed him over to Antipas, in whose territory Jesus had been active. However, Antipas sent him back to Pilate. The legal basis for these events, and the very historicity of Antipas' involvement in the trial, have been the subject of scholarly debate. Besides provoking his conflict with the Baptist, the tetrarch's divorce added a personal grievance to previous disputes with Aretas over territory on the border of Perea and Nabatea. The result was a war that proved disastrous for Antipas; a Roman counter-offensive was ordered by Tiberius, but abandoned upon that emperor's death in 37 AD. In 39 AD Antipas was accused by his nephew Agrippa I of conspiracy against the new Roman emperor Caligula, who sent him into exile in Gaul. Accompanied there by Herodias, he died at an unknown date.


Early life

Antipas was a son of Herod the Great, who had become king of Judeamarker, and Malthace, who was from Samariamarker. His date of birth is unknown but was before 20 BCE. Antipas, his full brother Archelaus and his half-brother Philip were educated in Rome.

Antipas was not Herod's first choice of heir. That honor fell to Aristobulus and Alexander, Herod's sons by the Hasmonaean princess Mariamne. It was only after they were executed (c. 7 BC), and Herod's oldest son Antipater was convicted of trying to poison his father (5 BC), that the now elderly Herod fell back on his youngest son Antipas, revising his will to make him heir. During his fatal illness in 4 BC, Herod had yet another change of heart about the succession. According to the final version of his will, Antipas' elder brother Archelaus was now to become king of Judea, Idumea and Samaria, while Antipas would rule Galilee and Perea with the lesser title of tetrarch. Philip was to receive Gaulanitis (the Golan Heightsmarker), Batanaea (southern Syria), Trachonitis and Auranitis (Hauran).

Because of Judea's status as a Roman client kingdom, Herod's plans for the succession had to be ratified by Augustus. The three heirs therefore travelled to Rome to make their claims, Antipas arguing he ought to inherit the whole kingdom and the others maintaining that Herod's final will ought to be honored. Despite qualified support for Antipas from Herodian family members in Rome, who favoured direct Roman rule of Judea but considered Antipas preferable to his brother, Augustus largely confirmed the division of territory set out by Herod in his final will. Archelaus had, however, to be content with the title of ethnarch rather than king.

Coin of Herod Antipas
Map of Israel/Palestine in the 1st century CE


To circa 29 AD

While Archelaus was deemed incompetent by Augustus and replaced with a prefect in 6 AD, Antipas would govern Galilee and Perea for forty-two years. These territories were separated by the region of the Decapolis, with Galilee to the north and Perea to the south (see map). Threats to stability in both areas would have been clear to Antipas when he took office. While he had been making his case to Augustus in Rome, dissidents led by one Judas son of Hezekiah had attacked the palace of Sepphoris in Galilee, seizing money and weapons with which they terrorised the area. In a counterattack ordered by Quinctilius Varus, Roman governor of Syria, Sepphoris was destroyed by fire and its inhabitants sold as slaves. Perea, meanwhile, bordered on the kingdom of Nabatea, which had long had uneasy relations with Romans and Jews.

Part of Antipas' solution was to follow in his father's footsteps as a builder. He rebuilt and fortified Sepphoris, while also adding a wall to Betharamphtha in Perea. The latter city was renamed Livias after Augustus' wife Livia, and later Julias after his daughter. However, the tetrarch's most noted construction was his capital on the western shore of the Sea of GalileemarkerTiberiasmarker, so named to honor his patron Tiberius, who had succeeded Augustus as emperor in 14 AD. Residents could bathe nearby at the warm springs of Emmaus, and by the time of the First Jewish-Roman War the city's own buildings included a stadium, a royal palace and a sanctuary for prayer. It gave its name to the sea and later became a center of rabbinic learning. However, pious Jews at first refused to live in it because it was built atop a graveyard and therefore a source of ritual impurity; Antipas had to colonise it using a mixture of foreigners, forced migrants, poor people and freed slaves.

At other times Antipas was more sensitive to Jewish tradition. His coins carried no images, which would have violated Jewish prescriptions against idolatry. When Pontius Pilate, governor of Judea from 26 CEto 36 CE, caused offence by placing votive shields in the royal palace at Jerusalemmarker, Antipas and his brothers successfully petitioned for their removal.

John the Baptist and Jesus

Early in his reign, Antipas had married the daughter of King Aretas IV of Nabatea. However, while staying in Rome with his half-brother Herod (son of Herod the Great and Mariamne II), he fell in love with his host's wife Herodias (granddaughter of Herod the Great and Mariamne I). Antipas and Herodias agreed to divorce their previous spouses in order to marry each other. On learning of this, Aretas' daughter travelled to the fortress of Machaerusmarker, from where Nabatean forces escorted her to her father. Relations between Antipas and Aretas soured and in time preparations began for war.

Antipas faced more immediate problems in his own tetrarchy when John the Baptist – in 28/29 CE according to the Gospel of Luke – began a ministry of preaching and baptism by the Jordan Rivermarker, which marked the western edge of Antipas' territory of Perea. The New Testament Gospels state that John attacked the tetrarch's marriage as contrary to Jewish law, while Josephus says that John's public influence made him fearful of rebellion. John was imprisoned in Machaerus and executed. According to Matthew and Mark, Herod was reluctant to order John's death but was compelled by Herodias' daughter (unnamed in the text but traditionally Salome), to whom he had promised any reward she chose in exchange for her dancing.

Among those baptized by John was Jesus of Nazareth, who began his own ministry in Galilee – causing Antipas, according to Matthew and Mark, to fear that the Baptist had been raised from the dead. Luke alone among the Gospels states that a group of Pharisees warned Jesus that Antipas was plotting his death, whereupon Jesus denounced the tetrarch as a "fox" and declared that he, Jesus, would not fall victim to such a plot because "it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem". Luke also credits the tetrarch with a role in Jesus' trial. According to Luke, Pilate, on learning that Jesus was a Galilean and therefore under Herod's jurisdiction, sent him to Antipas, who was also in Jerusalem at the time. Initially, Antipas was pleased to see Jesus, hoping to see him perform a miracle, but when Jesus remained silent in the face of questioning Antipas mocked him and sent him back to Pilate. Luke says that these events improved relations between Pilate and Herod despite their earlier enmity.

The reason for Antipas' involvement has been debated. Theodor Mommsen argued that the normal legal procedure of the early Roman empire was for defendants to be tried by the authorities of their home provinces. A. N. Sherwin-White re-examined the relevant legal texts and concluded that trials were generally based on the location of the alleged crimes, but that there was a possibility of referral to a province of origin in special cases. If Pilate was not required to send Jesus to Antipas, he may have been making a show of courtesy to the tetrarch and trying to avoid the need to deal with the Jewish authorities himself. When Jesus was sent back, Pilate could still have represented Antipas' failure to convict as support for his own view (according to Luke) that Jesus was not guilty of a capital offence, thus allowing him to avoid responsibility for Jesus' execution.

Some scholars believe that Jesus' trial by Herod Antipas is unhistorical. Robin Lane Fox, for example, argues that the story was invented based on Psalm 2, in which "the kings of the earth" are described as opposing the Lord's "anointed", and also served to show that the authorities failed to find grounds for convicting Jesus.

Later reign

It was in 36 CE that the conflict with Aretas of Nabatea, caused by Antipas' divorce and the rulers' disagreement over territory, developed into open war. Antipas' army suffered a devastating defeat after fugitives from the former tetrarchy of Philip sided with the Nabateans, and Antipas was forced to appeal to Tiberius for help. The emperor ordered Lucius Vitellius, governor of Syria, to march against Aretas and ensure that he was captured or killed. Vitellius obediently mobilized two legions, sending them on a detour around Judea while he joined Antipas in attending a festival at Jerusalem. While staying there he learned of the death of Tiberius (16 March AD 37), concluded he lacked the authority to go to war, and recalled his troops.

Josephus implies that Vitellius was unwilling to cooperate with the tetrarch because of a grudge he bore from an earlier incident. According to his account, Antipas provided hospitality at a conference on the Euphrates between Vitellius and King Artabanus II of Parthia, and after Vitellius' diplomatic success anticipated the governor in sending a report to Tiberius. However, other sources place the meeting between Vitellius and Artabanus under Tiberius' successor Caligula, leading some historians to think that Josephus misdated it to the reign of Tiberius or conflated it with an earlier diplomatic meeting involving Antipas and Vitellius.

Exile and death

Antipas' fall from power was due to Caligula and to his own nephew Agrippa, brother of Herodias. When Agrippa fell into debt during the reign of Tiberius despite his connections with the imperial family, Herodias persuaded Antipas to provide for him, but the two men quarrelled and Agrippa departed. After Agrippa was heard expressing to his friend Caligula his eagerness for Tiberius to die and leave room for Caligula to succeed him, he was imprisoned. When Caligula finally became emperor in 37 CE, he not only released his friend but granted him rule of Philip's former tetrarchy (slightly extended), with the title of king.

Josephus relates that Herodias, jealous at Agrippa's success, persuaded Antipas to ask Caligula for the title of king for himself. However, Agrippa simultaneously presented the emperor with a list of charges against the tetrarch: allegedly, he had conspired against Tiberius with Sejanus (executed 31 AD) and was now plotting against Caligula with Artabanus. As evidence, Agrippa noted that Antipas had a stockpile of weaponry sufficient for 70,000 men. Hearing Antipas' admission to this last charge, Caligula decided to credit the allegations of conspiracy. In the summer of 39 AD, Antipas' money and territory were turned over to Agrippa, while he himself was exiled. The place of his exile is given by Josephus' Antiquities as "Lugdunum" in Gaul. (This may mean the city of Lugdunummarker now known as Lyonmarker, or the less important Lugdunum Convenarum, modern Saint-Bertrand-de-Commingesmarker.) Caligula offered to allow Herodias, as Agrippa's sister, to retain her property. However, she chose instead to join her husband in exile.

Antipas died in exile. The third-century historian Cassius Dio seems to imply that Caligula had him killed, but this is usually treated with skepticism by modern historians.


Among the followers of Jesus and members of the early Christian movement mentioned in the New Testament are Joanna, the wife of one of Antipas' stewards, and Manaen, a "foster-brother" or "companion" of Antipas (both translations are possible for the Greek ). It has been conjectured that these were sources for early Christian knowledge of Antipas and his court. In any case, Antipas featured prominently in the New Testament in connection with the deaths of John the Baptist and Jesus (see above). The pseudepigraphical Gospel of Peter went further, stating that it was Antipas rather than Pilate who ordered the crucifixion of Jesus. In line with the work's anti-Judaic theme, it pointedly remarked that Herod and "the Jews", unlike Pilate, refused to "wash their hands" of responsibility for the death.

Antipas has appeared in a large number of more recent representations of the passion of Jesus – often, as in the films Jesus Christ Superstar and The Passion of the Christ, being portrayed as effeminate. The origin of this tradition may have been Antipas' manipulation by his wife Herodias, as well as Christ's description of him as a "fox" in Luke 13:32, using a feminine word in the original Greek. He also features in The Secret Magdalene by Ki Longfellow. In Longfellow's view, he was not effeminate so much as rash, ineffective, and when backed into a corner by his furious ex-father-in-law, willing to do anything to save himself.


  1. Josephus, Antiquities 17.20, War 1.562.
  2. Milwitzky 638.
  3. Josephus, Antiquities 17.20–21.
  4. Bruce 6–7; Schürer 320–325.
  5. Josephus, Antiquities 17.188–189, War 1.664.
  6. Josephus, Antiquities 17.224–249, 299–323.
  7. Bruce 8.
  8. Josephus, Antiquities 17.271–272, War 2.56. This Judas may be identical with the Judas of Galilee who led resistance to the Census of Quirinius (Schürer 381).
  9. Josephus, Antiquities 17.288–289, War 2.68.
  10. For Nabatean history, see Schürer 574–586.
  11. Josephus, Antiquities 18.27, War 2.168.
  12. Bruce 9; Schürer 342.
  13. Josephus, Antiquities 18.36.
  14. Schürer 342–343.
  15. Bruce 9, citing and for the "Sea of Tiberias".
  16. Josephus, Antiquities 18.37–38.
  17. Schürer 343 and n. 16.
  18. Philo, On the Embassy to Gaius 299–305.
  19. Josephus, Antiquities 18.109–110. calls Herodias' former husband Philip; either the author is confusing him with Philip the tetrarch, or both Herods shared the name Philip (Bruce 10 n. 16; Schürer 344 and n. 19).
  20. Josephus, Antiquities 18.111–113.
  21. .
  22. ; ; ; Josephus, Antiquities 18.118.
  23. Josephus, Antiquities 18.119.
  24. ; .
  25. ; ; cf. .
  26. . The "fox" had been interpreted as a symbol of either cunning or destruction (Schürer 342 and n. 5). Robert H. Gundry, noting that the Greek word is feminine, suggests that "Jesus is calling Herod a vixen ... not an animal to be afraid of or to run away from" (Gundry 3).
  27. .
  28. Cited by Sherwin-White 28.
  29. Sherwin-White 28–31.
  30. Bruce 16–17; Hoehner 88.
  31. Hoehner 88.
  32. ; Bruce 17; Hoehner 89–90.
  33. Hoehner 90.
  34. Jensen 121.
  35. Lane Fox 297, citing (also quoted in ).
  36. Josephus, Antiquities 18.113–115; Schürer 350.
  37. Josephus, Antiquities 18.120–126; Schürer 350.
  38. Josephus, Antiquities 18.101–105.
  39. Suetonius, Caligula 14.3; Dio 59.27.2–3.
  40. Bruce 18–19; Schürer 350–351.
  41. Josephus, Antiquities 18.143–239, War 2.178–181; Bruce 19–20.
  42. Josephus, Antiquities 18.240–252, War 2.181–183. For the date, see Schürer 352–353 n. 42.
  43. Josephus, Antiquities 18.252.
  44. Bruce 21.
  45. Schürer 352 n. 41, observing that the transmitted text of Josephus' War states that Antipas was exiled to Spain, and that Lugdunum Convenarum lay on the Gallic-Spanish border.
  46. Josephus, Antiquities 18.253–255.
  47. Josephus, War 2.183.
  48. Dio 59.8.2; Milwitzky 639. Schürer calls Dio's statement "confused" (353), while Bruce simply remarks that "in exile Antipas and Herodias together disappear from history" (21).
  49. and , with Bruce 13–14; Lane Fox 297 is skeptical.
  50. Gospel of Peter 1.
  51. Gundry 3, endorsed by Goodacre passim.


  • Pages 340–353 treat Antipas' reign.

External links

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address