Herod Philip ., Tetrarch of Judaea

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About Herod Philip ., Tetrarch of Judaea

Philip: Jewish leader, ruled between 4 BCE and 34 CE in the southwest of what is now Syria. Philip was the son of the Jewish king Herod the Great and his wife Cleopatra of Jerusalem. He was married to his relative Salome. (In the Gospel of Mark 6.17, Philip is mentioned as the first husband of Herodias. This is a mistake; Herodias was never married to Philip.)

Together with his half-brothers Herod Archelaus and Herod Antipas, he was educated at Rome, a kind of honorable detention to guarantee his father's loyalty. When Herod the Great died in 4 BCE, Philip became tetrarch of the outlying parts in the northeast of his father's kingdom: Gaulanitis (the Golan heights), Batanaea (or Basan, the southern part of modern Syria), Trachonitis and Auranitis (Hauran).

Among his subjects, the Jews were a minority; most people were of Syrian or Arabian descent. The latter had a nomadic way of life, although Herod had established some towns (such as Adraa, modern Dara). Philip was to continue this policy in the western half of his realm, strengthening the villages Paneas -at the sources of the Jordan- and Bethsaida, calling them Caesarea and Julias in honor of the emperor and his daughter Julia.

To his nomadic subjects, Philip behaved himself as a sheik. He was constantly traveling through their country with only a small entourage. When someone invoked his help, he immediately ordered his throne to be set down, heard the complaints and gave his opinion. His subjects in the cities considered this behavior rather remarkable, but the Arabs must have thought of their king as 'one of us'.

He died at Julias in 34 CE, having ruled his dominions for thirty-seven years. According to the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, he had been a person of moderation and quietness in the conduct of his life and government (Jewish Antiquities, 18.106). Since he left no sons, the emperor Tiberius ordered his realms to be added to the province of Syria. When Tiberius died in 37, his successor Caligula almost immediately restored the principality; as its king, he appointed Philip's nephew Herod Agrippa.


  • The most important ancient source for the rule of king Philip was written by Flavius Josephus: his Jewish Antiquities.
  • Modern literature: Nikos Kokkinos, The Herodian Dynasty: Origins, Role in Society and Eclipse (1998 Sheffield)



Philip the Tetrarch (sometimes called Herod Philip II by modern writers) was son of Herod the Great and his fifth wife Cleopatra of Jerusalem and half-brother of Herod Antipas and Herod Archelaus (not to be confused with Herod II, whom some writers call Herod Philip I.)

Philip inherited the northeast part of his father's kingdom and is mentioned briefly in the Bible by Luke (3:1). He married his niece Salome, the daughter of Herodias and a member of the Herodian dynasty, who is sometimes called Herod Philip I, but also known as Herod II, or sometimes Philip of Rome. This Salome appears in the Bible in connection with the execution of John the Baptist. The evangelist Mark (6:17) writes that Philip was her father, which seems an odd mistake until one realizes that the older half-brother of Philip the Tetrarch (Herod Philip II) is also sometimes named Herod Philip - Herod Philip I.

Philip the Tetrarch rebuilt the city of Caesarea Philippi, calling it by his own name to distinguish it from the Caesarea on the sea-coast which was the seat of the Roman government.

There is no contemporary evidence for Philip the Tetrarch's use of the name 'Herod Philip' as a dynastic title, as occurred with his brothers Herod Antipas and Herod Archelaus; however, his birth name was Philip ben Herod. 'Herod Philip I' is better known as Herod II. 'Herod Philip II is better known as Philip the Tetrarch. It is an example of the great difficulty in establishing the relationships of various holders of the same name in the same area or family - especially in the Herodian dynasty. Kokkinos says (p 223) “The stubborn existence of many theologians in referring to Herod III as ‘Herod Philip’ is without any value” (233), and again on p. 266, “No illusory Herod Philip ever existed”. The Cambridge Ancient History Vol.10, says that Philip the Tetrarch, “unlike his brothers, did not use Herod as a dynastic name”, and refers to him throughout as Philip, or Philip the Tetrarch. The predecessor CAH had already stated that Philip’s half-brothers Archelaus and Antipas had adopted the name of Herod, "presumably" for a dynastic claim from Herod the Great.


  • ^ Flavius Josephus, Anitquities, 17.8
  • ^ Flavius Josephus, Anitquities, 17.11
  • ^ Flavius Josephus, Antiquities XVIII 5:4 (137).
  • ^ Kokkinos, Nikkos 'The Herodian Dynasty: Origins, Role in Society and Eclipse', Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha Supplement Series, 1998, Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield, 236–240
  • ^ Bowman, Alan K., Champlin Edward, and Lintott. Andrew (edd) (2001), Cambridge Ancient History, Vol.10, The Augustan Empire, 43 B.C.-A.D. 69, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press
  • ^ Cambridge Ancient History, (latest reprint 1965), Gen. eds.: J.B. Bury, S.A. Cook, F.E. Adcock, M.P. Charlesworth, N.H. Baynes, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: Vol.10, The Augustan empire, 44 B.C.-A.D. 70



Philip the Tetrarch [died 34 CE]

There is little personal information on Herod's third heir except the name of his mother [Cleopatra of Jerusalem] & the fact that the king's will (4 BCE) made him administrator of Gaulanitis [Golan], Batanea & Trachonitis, regions in southwestern Syria & the Lebanese mountains that Augustus had added to Herod's jurisdiction two decades earlier (23-20 BCE). Like the territory assigned his half-brother Antipas, Philip's domain comprised about a quarter of the area of Herod's kingdom & was the least heavily Judaized. Like Antipas, Philip honored his Roman patrons by founding cities dedicated to the imperial family. Paneas, an ancient spa & pagan shrine at the source of the Jordan river, became Philip's imperial capital [Caesarea Philippi], while the fishing port of Bethsaida on the northeast shore of Lake Gennesaret was enlarged & renamed Julias to honor the wife of Augustus [Livia, who styled herself Julia Augusta]. He was married to Salome II, who was daughter of his half-brother Herod II by his niece, Herodias. But he died without heirs & his domain was given to Herodias' brother, Agrippa I.

Secondary literature, such as Easton's Bible Dictionary, has often referred to him as "Herod Philip" although there is absolutely no evidence in primary sources that he mimicked his half-brother Antipas in claiming his father's name or was addressed as Herod by contemporaries. This is a convenient modern convention to distinguish him from other ancient Hellenized rulers with the same given name.


Josephus, Antiquities 17.21, 27, 146, 189, 318-319; 
                                                       18.106-108, 137, 237. 
                  _____, War 1.586; 2.57-59, 94-95, 168, 566-568.
                  Luke 3:1



Wagner, Sir Anthony Richard; ‘Pedigree and Progress: Essays in the Genealogical Interpretation of History’ gives his birth date as 4BCE; but as this is the date of his father's death & the will conferring the territory to him, I think we can be pretty confident that Wagner's date is wrong. [Sharon April 2012]

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Herod Philip ., Tetrarch of Judaea's Timeline

Age 55