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Yeshua in Context » Background to Gospels, Herodians » Keeping Your Herods Straight

Keeping Your Herods Straight

You see the name Herod and you panic, “Is this Herod the Great? Archelaus? Antipas? Agrippa? Agrippa II?”

Or maybe you don’t. But you should. How do you know which Herod is Herod in the verse you are reading? Here’s a simple guide . . .

The Herods are mentioned only in the gospels and Acts.


…Herod the Great (more info below) is only around in the birth narratives (Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1).

…Herod Archelaus is only mentioned once in the Bible in Matthew 2:22, when Yeshua’s family returns from Egypt they choose Nazareth so as to be outside of Archelaus’ territory. His rule was very inept and short-lived and only in Judea, Samaria, and Edom (4 BCE – 6 CE).

…Herod in the gospels is usually Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea (often called Herod the Tetrarch). He’s the one Yeshua called a fox. He’s the one before whom Yeshua had a brief trial. He’s the one who killed John the Baptist.

…Other than in Acts 4, which refers back to Yeshua’s trials, and one quick reference to Herod the Tetrarch in 13:1, the Herod in Acts is Agrippa and the Agrippa in Acts is Agrippa II. That’s confusing, I know. In Acts 12, Herod Agrippa arrested Peter and killed James the brother of John (not James the brother of Yeshua, also confusing). In Acts 25 and 26, Agrippa II, son of Agrippa, tried Paul and sent him to Rome when Paul appealed to Caesar.


Herod the Great: Only in the birth narratives (Matt 1-2 and Luke 1).

Herod Archelaus: one passing reference.

Herod the Tetrarch (Antipas): the Herod in the John the Baptist and Yeshua stories.

Herod Agrippa: executed James and arrested Peter and died a strange death in Acts 12.

Herod Agrippa II: heard Paul’s testimony and sent him to Rome when he appealed to Caesar.

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Filed under: Background to Gospels, Herodians

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