Herod Antipas Biography
Nick Name: Antipas
Also Known As: Herod Antipater
Born Country: Israel
Born in: Judea
Famous as: Ruler
father: Herod the Great
siblings: Archelaus, Herod Archelaus, Herod II, Philip the Tetrarch
children: Salomé II
Died on: 39
place of death: Roman Gaul
Herod Antipas was a 1st-century tetrarch ("ruler of a quarter") of Galilee and Perea, known for his role in the events that led to the executions of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth. He was never granted the title of king but is referred to as "Herod the Tetrarch" and "King Herod" in the 'New Testament.' His father, Herod the Great, initially did not consider him as his successor. Antipas had the support of Augustus, the first ruler of the Roman Empire, who ensured his rule over the Roman Empire's client states of Galilee and Perea. This, however, implied that Antipas, though he ruled the states, was directly under the command of the Roman emperor. Antipas brought in several architectural reforms in Sepphoris and Betharamphtha and is remembered for his contribution to the establishment of his capital, Tiberias. The 'New Testament' throws light on Antipas's role in the executions of Jesus of Nazareth and John the Baptist, who opposed his second marriage to his brother Herod II's wife. The marriage also brought him the anger of his former father-in-law, Aretas, which resulted in Antipas's disastrous defeat. He was, however, supported by the second Roman emperor, Tiberius, but his death ultimately ended the support. Antipas's nephew, Agrippa I, accused him of conspiring against the new Roman emperor, Caligula, and he was thus ordered to move into exile in Spain. Antipas died in exile at a date still unknown.
- Antipas was born Herod Antipater, before 20 BC, to Herod the Great, king of Judea, and Malthace. He had a brother named Archelaus and a half-brother named Philip. Herod had a son named Alexander from Hasmonean princess Mariamne.
- Herod initially wanted Aristobulus and Alexander to succeed him and not Antipas. However, he changed his decision after the two were executed (c. 7 BC), while Herod's eldest son, Antipater, was imprisoned for conspiring his murder (5 BC).
- Herod fell ill in 4 BC, and he again changed his decision regarding his heir. In the final version of his will, he named Archelaus as the next king of Judea, Idumea, and Samaria, while he granted a lesser title of “Tetrarch” to Antipas, with Galilee and Perea under his rule.
- Antipas, however, inherited a portion of his father's kingdom after Roman emperor Augustus made some modifications to the will.
- Under Antipas's rule, several construction projects were carried out in the regions of Sepphoris and Betharamphtha. However, his most glorified construction was that of the capital, Tiberias, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, named after the emperor Tiberius. The city eventually became a hub of rabbinic learning.
- Antipas was a patron of affluent Jewish Herodians, who had previously provided him aid and had accepted the Roman authority.
- Antipas had done a lot for the Jews. He ensured that coins had no images, to protect Jewish prescriptions against idolatry. Antipas also appealed to the Judea governor, Pontius Pilate, to remove pledged shields from the Antonia palace in Jerusalem.
- Antipas was initially married to Phasaelis, whom he divorced later to marry his half-brother Herod II's wife, Herodias. Herodias was the granddaughter of Herod the Great and Mariamne I. He had met her in Rome.
- The marriage, however, infuriated Antipas's former father-in-law, King Aretas IV of Nabatea, and he thus withdrew his support from Antipas's Jewish subjects. He even defeated Antipas in a war that he declared to avenge the injustice meted out to his daughter.
- It is believed that when John the Baptist, one of Antipas's subjects, objected to the marriage, Herodias persuaded her husband to capture him. John regarded the union as carnal, as Herodias was also Antipas's niece.
- Antipas was already facing troubles in his tetrarchy, as John had started preaching and practicing baptism near the Jordan River, which fell under Antipas's western territory of Perea. John was executed in Machaerus.
- It is believed that Antipas had executed John (in Machaerus) reluctantly and strictly under Herodias's pursuance.
- Jesus of Nazareth, whom John had baptized, became a minister in Galilee, which scared Antipas, as he believed that John had been resurrected.
- Jesus was informed about Antipas's conspiracies to kill him, which he ignored. According to the 'Gospel of Luke,' Jesus was first arrested in Jerusalem by Pontius Pilate, the governor of Roman Judea.
- Pilate handed over Jesus to Antipas, because he actively preached in his territory. Antipas wished to witness his miracles. He was, however, disappointed, and thus mocked Jesus and sent him back to Pilate without passing any judgment.
- Antipas's role in Jesus's trial is highly disputed and is regarded as unhistorical due to lack of evidence.
- Between 34 and 36 AD, Aretas's agitation and a disagreement over the territory on the border of Perea and Nabatea resulted in an open war. Disappointed by the former tetrarchy of Philip, who was then supporting the Nabateans, a defeated Antipas approached Tiberius. Tiberius appointed the governor of Syria, Lucius Vitellius, to execute Aretas.
- However, the sudden death of Tiberius (March 16, 37 AD) implied that Vitellius was no more bound to help Antipas, and he hence called back his troops.
- It is also believed that Vitellius did not intend to help Antipas, as the tetrarch had infuriated him before.
- Antipas's downfall is largely attributed to his nephew, Agrippa, and Caligula, the son of Roman general Germanicus and Agrippina the Elder (Augustus's granddaughter).
- Herodias envied Agrippa's rise and thus coaxed Antipas to ask Caligula for the kingship. Agrippa, on learning Antipas's motive, brainwashed Caligula against him.
- Antipas admitted to conspiring against Caligula and was thus accused. In 39 AD, Antipas's assets and territory went to Agrippa, while he was sent to exile in Spain (as per Josephus's 'Antiquities').
- Herodias, being related to Agrippa, was allowed to retain her property. She, however, chose to join Antipas.
- Antipas died in exile. Historian Cassius Dio argued that Caligula had killed him. However, this is denied by modern historians.
- Among many of Antipas's on-screen portrayals, some of the notable ones are by Frank Thring in 'King of Kings' (1961), José Ferrer in 'The Greatest Story Ever Told' (1965), Christopher Plummer in 'Jesus of Nazareth' (1977), and Charles Laughton in 'Salome' (1953).
- In the films 'Jesus Christ Superstar' (1973) and 'The Passion of the Christ' (2004), Antipas was depicted as an effeminate figure.
- Actor James Callis portrayed Antipas in the 'Netflix' series 'A.D. The Bible Continues.'
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