Antipas  [died 39 CE]

second son of Herod & Malthace
second husband of

The youngest surviving son of Herod was, like his brother Archelaus, raised as a private citizen in Rome. When his half-brother Antipater III fell from their father's favor (5 BCE), he became Herod's designated chief heir. The dying king's decision to alter his will to make Archelaus king precipitated sibling rivalry before the emperor in Rome. Augustus confirmed Herod's last will by making Antipas ruler only of Galilee & the Region [Greek: Perea] across the Jordan. The territory controlled by Herod was roughly one quarter of Herod's kingdom. Hence, his title: tetrarch [lit.: "quartermaster"]. 

Though only governor of two small provinces, Antipas locally styled himself "king" & used the name "Herod," to bolster his claim that he was the true heir to his father's legacy. With the aid of Roman armies he crushed Galilean rebels & then turned to urbanizing southern Galilee, rebuilding the regional capitol [Sepphoris] that the Romans had destroyed in the civil war & dedicating it to the emperor Augustus [calling it Autocratoris: "the Emperor's city"]. After his Roman patron Tiberius became emperor (14 CE), Antipas decided to build a new & even more splendid Roman style capital for Galilee on the western shore of Lake Gennesaret, naming it Tiberias. To protect his southern flank he formed an alliance with the Arab kingdom of Nabatea by marrying the daughter of the king of Petra, Aretas III, whom he later divorced to marry Herodias, the wife of his half-brother [Herod Boethus], in total disregard for Jewish Torah

Like his father Antipas was wary of conservative Jewish critics of his regime & quick to crush popular rabble-rousers, most notably John (Johanan) the Baptizer. His Jewish subjects never forgave him for executing one whom they regarded as God's agent. When Aretas avenged his daughter's disgrace by dealing Herod a decisive defeat (36 CE), many regarded it as divine retribution for John's execution. Antipas' royal pretensions were further frustrated when the new emperor, Gaius (Caligula), named his brother-in-law, Agrippa I, "king" over the neighboring provinces (37 CE). Antipas' protest of the young emperor's decision & his demand for equal rank, however, caused Caligula to depose him & send him into exile. He died soon after at Lyons [in Gaul (France)].

References: Josephus, Antiquities 17.20, 188, 224-238, 318;
                                                        18.27, 36-38, 102-122, 148-150, 202-255.
                  ______, War 1.562; 2.20-22; 94-95, 167-168, 178-183.
                  ______, Life 37, 65.

For a detailed biography & further information on recent scholarship see:

  • Hoehner, Harold W. Herod Antipas: A Contemporary of Jesus Christ. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1972.

  • Jensen, Morgen H. Herod Antipas in Galilee: Literary and Archaeological Sources. Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 2006.

Other resources on line:


Bronze Galilean coin minted at Tiberias in 30 CE with Greek inscription (reading clockwise from bottom left of palm branch) Herodou Tetrarchou ["of Herod, Tetrarch"]. For high resolution images of this & other coins of Antipas see Dane Kurth's numismatic guide: Wildwinds.

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