There are six Herods mentioned in the New Testament. A short description of the Herod family follows.
Herod the Great:
An Idumean (Ideumea was formerly Edom) politician who tried to pass himself off as Jewish because the Edomites were descendents of Esau, Jacob's brother. Genesis 36:1. Nevertheless, to be a Jew one must be a descendent ot Jacob (Israel), not of his brother. Genesis 25:20-26, Genesis 35:9-12.
The Roman senate appointed Herod to be ruler of Judea and assigned him the title King of Judea. Since the Jews were awaiting the restoration of the kingdom of David in conjunction with the appearance of Messiah, to have a Roman appointee declared their king was an enormous insult.
Herod refurbished and enlarged the temple in Jerusalem (The second temple, an inferior version built by returnees from the Babylonian captivity, Ezra 3:7-11). There was not enough flat space at the top of the temple mount to permit the planned expansion so Herod built huge retaining walls on the slopes and backfilled them with soil to enlarge the available level space. People sometimes question the literal fulfilment of Jesus' prophecy regarding the temple ("There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.", Matthew 24:2) when every day we see people praying at the western wall. The answer is that this is part of the retaining wall, not the temple wall.
It was Herod the Great who ordered the murder of the children of Bethlehem and environs in an attempt to eliminate a challenge to his throne by the true "King of the Jews." Matthew 2:1-16,
Herod the Great died a few years later while Joseph, Mary and Jesus were living under God's protection in Egypt. The kingdom was divided among three of his sons.
Son of Herod the Great. Israel had long been subdivided into three regions; Galilee in the north, Samaria, central and Judah in the south. Archelaus inherited rule of Samaria and Judah.
Archelaus had such an evil reputation that when Joseph and his family returned from Egypt Joseph decided to take his family back to Nazareth of Galilee, their hometown. Luke 1:26-33, Matthew 2:19-23.
Son of Herod the Great. He inherited rule of some far northern provinces in what is now southern Syria, including the Golan Heights. Luke 3:1.
Philip was married to Herodias, but she left him in favor of his brother, Herod Antipas.
Son of Herod the Great. He inherited rule of Galilee.
Herodias, his brother Phillip's wife, became his mistress. John the Baptist reproved him for his adultry and was imprisoned and eventually beheaded for his reproof. Mark 6:14-28.
Antipas is the Herod to whom Pilate sent Jesus when he heard that Jesus was from Nazareth of Galilee. Herod interviewed Jesus, then sent him back to Pilate with no recommendation for execution. Luke 23:4-11.
Herod Agrippa the First:
Grandson of Herod the Great. His father, Aristobulus, another son of Herod the Great, had been executed by his father upon report of a plot to take the throne.
Gradually, as his uncles died or otherwise departed the scene, Agrippa accumulated the entire realm which had once belonged to his grandfather.
This is the Herod of Acts, chapter 12. Acts 12:1, Acts 12:20-23.
Herod Agrippa II:
Great grandson of Herod the Great, son of Herod Agrippa.
In Acts 25 and 26 Paul found himself in a position similar to what Jesus had experienced before his crucifixion,. The Jewish religious leadership was demanding Paul's execution but he had done nothing wrong according to Jewish or Roman law. Paul demanded his right as a Roman citizen to a hearing before Caesar so Festus, the Roman governor and Agrippa II, so-called king of the Jews, interviewed Paul seeking some infraction to justify not releasing him outright. Acts 25:21-27, Acts 26:1-32.
For additional detail you may search the internet for Herod.
This page updated 09/04/2010Copyright (C) 2008, 2010 Robert C. Denig. All rights reserved