Herodias ., of Judaea

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About Herodias ., of Judaea

Herodias, King Agrippa’s sister is immortalized in the New Testament as the femme fatal who instigated the execution of John the Baptist.

According to Josephus, she was first married to her uncle Herod, son of King Herod and Mariamme (II) daughter of the high priest. They apparently had one daughter Salome (II).

Later, however, according to Josephus, a visit to her house by another uncle—Herod Antipas, son of Cleopatra of Jerusalem—made her abandon her husband in order to marry his brother (Ant. 18:110). This, according to the New Testament, was the reason for John the Baptist’s condemnation of Antipas’s rule (Mark 6:17–18; Matthew 14:3–4). Jewish law saw such a marriage as incest.

Antipas had previously been married to a Nabatean princess, daughter of the Nabatean king Aretas. Their divorce led to war with the Nabateans. This war, according to Josephus, was perceived by the people as a punishment for the execution of John the Baptist (Ant. 18:116). The New Testament, however, sees John the Baptist’s death as much more directly connected to this woman: Herodias wanted this holy preacher dead and when her daughter won the favors of Antipas, who promised to grant her every wish, her mother persuaded her to ask for the Baptist’s head (Mark 6:21–28; Matthew 14:6–11).

Although Josephus does not tell this story, he too seems to have known of Herodias’s evil reputation. He relates that she was jealous when her brother Agrippa became king, and persuaded her husband to go to Rome and demand a similar honor from the emperor, Caligula (Ant. 18:240–244). Instead, Antipas was exiled to Lyons in Gaul, where he eventually died. Herodias was thus directly responsible for her husband’s downfall. As a final act of contrition, Herodias is described as choosing to accompany her husband into exile (Ant. 18:254–255). http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/herodian-women


Herodias (c. 15 BC-after 39 AD)

was a Jewish princess of the Herodian Dynasty.

Family relationships

Daughter of Aristobulus IV (one of the two sons of Herod the Great and the Hasmonean princess Mariamne I)

Daughter of Berenice (a daughter of Herod's sister Salome I, and of Costabarus, governor of Idumea)

Full sister to Herod V (king of Chalkis), Herod Agrippa (king of Judea), Aristobulus V, and Mariamne III (wife of Crown Prince Antipater and, after his execution by Herod the Great, she was possibly the first wife Herod Archelaus, principal heir of Herod the Great and ethnarch of Judea)

Daughter-in-law of Herod the Great, twice: once by marriage to his son, Herod II, and again by marriage to another son, Herod Antipas.


Herod II

Herod II (born - ca. 27 BC; died - 33 AD)[1] was the son of Herod the Great and his third wife Mariamne II, who was the daughter of Simon Boethus the High Priest (Mark 6:17). For a brief period he was his father's heir. Some writers call him Herod Philip I (not to be confused with Philip the Tetrarch, whom some writers call Herod Philip II). Herod was the first husband of Herodias, and because the Gospel of Mark states that Herodias was married to Philip, some scholars have argued that his name was actually Herod Philip. Many scholars dispute this, however, and believe the Gospel writer was in error, a suggestion supported by the fact that the later Gospel of Luke drops the name Philip.[2][3] Because he was the grandson of the high priest Simon Boethus he is sometimes described as Herod Boethus, but there is no evidence he was actually called this.[4] Herod the Great's execution of his Hasmonean sons, Alexander and Aristobulus IV in 7 BC, left the latter's daughter Herodias an orphaned minor. Herod engaged her to Herod II, her half-uncle, and her connection to the Hasmonean bloodline supported her new husband's right to succeed his father. This marriage led to opposition from Antipater III, Herod the Great's eldest son, and so Herod demoted Herod II to second in line to the succession. Antipater's execution in 4 BC for plotting to poison his father seemed to leave Herod II, now Herod I's eldest surviving son, as first in line, but his mother's knowledge of the poison plot, and failure to stop it, led to his being dropped from this position in Herod I's will just days before he died. Herodias later divorced Herod II; however, it is unclear when they were divorced. According to Josephus:

Herodias took upon her to confound the laws of our country, and divorced herself from her husband while he was alive, and was married to Herod Antipas[5]

According to biblical scholars, the Gospel of Matthew[6] and the Gospel of Luke,[7] indicate that it was this proposed marriage which John the Baptist publicly criticized. The historian Josephus does not say this but these events (the divorce, the marriage, execution, and the resulting war with Aretas IV Philopatris, King of the Nabataeans[8]) chronologically give weight to this theory, suggesting the events are linked.


Herod II and Herodias had a daughter named Salome, although some scholars indicate that some Greek texts show that Salome may have also been called Herodias like her mother, but was referred to as Salome in order to avoid confusion.[9] As Josephus reports in Jewish Antiquities (Book XVIII, Chapter 5, 4):

Herodias, [...], was married to Herod, the son of Herod the Great by Mariamne II, the daughter of Simon the High Priest. [Herod II and Herodias] had a daughter, Salome...[5]

Some ancient Greek versions of Mark read "Herod's daughter Herodias" (rather than "daughter of the said Herodias").[9] To scholars using these ancient texts, both mother and daughter had the same name. However, the Latin Vulgate Bible translates the passage as it is above, and western Church Fathers therefore tended to refer to Salome as "Herodias's daughter" or just "the girl". Christian traditions depict her as an icon of dangerous female seductiveness, for instance depicting as erotic her dance mentioned in the New Testament (in some later transformations further iconised to the dance of the seven veils), or concentrate on her lighthearted and cold foolishness that, according to the gospels, led to John the Baptist's death. (This Salome is not to be confused with Salome the disciple, who was a witness to the Crucifixion of Jesus in Mark 15:40.)

Herod Antipas

Herod Antipas (born - before 20 BC; died - after 39 AD) was also the son of Herod the Great by his fourth wife, Malthace, and half-brother of Herod II. He was a ruler of Galilee and Perea, who bore the title of tetrarch ("ruler of a quarter"). He is best known today for accounts in the New Testament of his role in events that led to the executions of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth. Antipas divorced his first wife Phasaelis, the daughter of King Aretas IV of Nabatea, in favor of Herodias. 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. 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. 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. It is uncertain if Herodias had any children by her second husband, Herod Antipas.

In the Gospels

In the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, Herodias plays a major role in John the Baptist's execution, using her daughter's dance before Antipas and his party guests to ask for the head of the Baptist as a reward. Antipas did not want to put John the Baptist to death, for Antipas liked to listen to John the Baptist preach (Mark 6:20). Furthermore, Antipas may have feared that if John the Baptist were to be put to death, his followers would riot.

Modern scholarship

At least one biblical scholar has doubted that the Gospels give historically accurate accounts of John the Baptist's execution.[10] According to the ancient historian Josephus, John the Baptist was put to death by Antipas for political reasons, for Antipas feared the prophet's seditious influence.[11] Some exegetes believe that Antipas' and Herodias' struggle with John the Baptist as told in the Gospels was some kind of a remembrance of the political and religious fight opposing the Israeli monarchs Achab and Jezebel to the prophet Elijah.[12]

In medieval literature

In medieval Europe a widespread belief held Herodias to be the supernatural leader of a supposed cult of witches, synonymous with Diana, Holda and Abundia.[13] See Cult of Herodias.

Further reading

  • Gillman, Florence Morgan. Herodias: At Home in the Fox's Den. Interfaces. Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2003.
  • Meier, John P. A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Volume Two: Mentor, Message and Miracles. Anchor Bible Reference Library, New York: Doubleday, 1994.
  • Theissen, Gerd. The Shadow of the Galilean: The Quest of the Historical Jesus in Narrative Form. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987.


  • ^ Kokkinos, The Herodian Dynasty, p. 237
  • ^ Harold Hoehner, Herod Antipas: A Contemporary of Jesus Christ (Zondervan, 1983), page 132 - 134.
  • ^ see also, for example, E. Mary Smallwood, "Behind the New Testament", Greece & Rome, Second Series, Vol. 17, No. 1 (Apr., 1970), pp. 81-99
  • ^ Florence Morgan Gillman, Herodias: at home in that fox's den (Liturgical Press, 2003) page 16.
  • ^ a b W. Whiston translation at Project Gutenberg
  • ^ Matthew 14:3-12
  • ^ Luke 3:18-20
  • ^ (Josephus, Antiquities 18:116-119)
  • ^ a b Taylor, V. (1966). The gospel according to St Mark, 2nd Edition. London: Macmillan (pp310ff.)
  • ^ Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Volume Two: Mentor, Message and Miracles. Anchor Bible Reference Library, New York: Doubleday, 1994, pp. 171-176.
  • ^ Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, Book XVIII, Chapter 5
  • ^ Florence Morgan Gillman, Herodias: At Home In That Fox's Den, page 84 (Liturgical Press, 2003). ISBN 0-8146-5108-9
  • ^ Ginzburg, Carlo (1990). Ecstasies: Deciphering the witches' sabbath. London: Hutchinson Radius. ISBN 0-09-174024-X.



Amongst the ward hostages to Antonia Minor in Rome were the four children of Aristobulus IV and his cousin, Berenice, daughter of Costobarus and Salome. He was the son of Herod the Great and his second wife, Mariamne I, the last of the Hasmoneans:

  1. Aristobulus Minor, grandson to Herod the Great and youngest son of prince Aristobulus IV and princess Berenice of Judea.
  2. Herod of Chalcis, who became responsible for the Temple in Jerusalem and the appointment of the High Priest. He married (i) his cousin, Mariamne and after her death, (ii) his niece Berenice, with whom he had two sons, Berenicianus and Hyrcanus.
  3. Herodias, who married (i) her uncle, Herod II, son of Herod the Great and Mariamne II, daughter of the high priest Simon Boethus; (ii) another uncle, Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea.
  4. Mariamne III, who married Antipater III, her uncle and eldest son of Herod; after Antipater’s execution in 4 BCE, she may have been the first wife of another uncle, Herod Archelaus, ethnarch of Judea.



Wagner, Sir Anthony Richard; ‘Pedigree and Progress: Essays in the Genealogical Interpretation of History’


ID: I86566

Name: Herodias

Given Name: Herodias

Sex: F

_UID: FA101B3C5F4B544A9CD289B694A9D2E94EDF

Change Date: 6 Oct 2005

Death: deceased

Father: Aristobulus IV of Judea

Mother: Bernice of Judea

Marriage 1 HEROD @ ANTIPAS OF JUDEA b: 21 BC




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