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Herod Agrippa

For his son, see Herod Agrippa II.

Perea, and was allowed to take up residence in Tiberias,

and received the rank of aedile in that city, with a
small yearly income. But having quarrelled with Antipas, he ed to Flaccus, proconsul of Syria. Soon afterwards he was convicted, through the information of his
brother Aristobulus, of having received a bribe from the
Damascenes, who wished to purchase his inuence with
the proconsul, and was again compelled to ee. He was
arrested as he was about to sail for Italy, for a sum of
money which he owed to the treasury of Caesar, but made
his escape, and reached Alexandria, where his wife succeeded in procuring a supply of money from Alexander
the Alabarch. He then set sail, and landed at Puteoli. He
was favorably received by Tiberius, who entrusted him
with the education of his grandson Tiberius Gemellus.
He also formed an intimacy with Caligula, then a popular
favorite. Agrippa was one day overheard by his freedman Eutyches expressing a wish for Tiberius death and
the advancement of Caligula, and for this he was cast into

Herod Agrippa, also known as Herod or Agrippa I

(11 BC 44 AD), was a Judean monarch during the 1st
century AD. The grandson of Herod the Great and son
of Aristobulus IV and Berenice,[1] he was born Marcus
Julius Agrippa, so named in honour of Roman statesman Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. He is the king named
Herod in the Acts of the Apostles, in the Bible, Herod
(Agrippa)" ( ). He was, according to
Josephus, known in his time as Agrippa the Great.[2]
Christian and Jewish historiography take dierent views
of this king, with the Christians largely opposing Agrippa
and the Jews largely favoring Agrippa.
Agrippas territory comprised most of Israel, including
Judea, Galilee, Batanaea and Perea. From Galilee his territory extended east to Trachonitis.



1.2 Caligula and Claudius


Following Tiberius death and the ascension of Agrippas

friend Caligula in 37, Agrippa was set free and made king
of the territories of Gaulanitis, Auranitis, Batanaea, and
Trachonitis, which his uncle Philip the Tetrarch had held,
with the addition of Abila. Agrippa was also awarded the
ornamenta praetoria and could use the title amicus caesaris (friend of Caesar). Caligula also presented him
with a gold chain equal in weight to the iron one he had
worn in prison, which Agrippa dedicated to the Temple of
Jerusalem on his return to his ancestral homeland. In 39,
Coin minted by Herod Agrippa.
Agrippa returned to Rome, and brought about the banishment of his uncle, Herod Antipas; he was then granted his
Josephus informs us that, after the murder of his father, uncles tetrarchy, consisting of Galilee and Peraea. This
young Agrippa was sent by Herod the Great to the im- created a Jewish kingdom which did not include Judea at
perial court in Rome. There, Tiberius conceived a great its center.[4][5]
aection for him, and had him educated alongside his After the assassination of Caligula in 41, Agrippa was
son Drusus, who also befriended him, and future em- involved in the struggle over the accession between
peror Claudius.[1] On the death of Drusus, Agrippa, who Claudius, the Praetorian Guard, and the Senate. How big
had been recklessly extravagant and was deeply in debt, a part Agrippa played can't be said for sure; the various
was obliged to leave Rome, eeing to the fortress of sources dier. Cassius Dio simply writes that Agrippa
Malatha in Idumaea. There, it was said, he contemplated cooperated with Claudius in seeking rule. Flavius Josesuicide.[3]
phus gives us two versions. In The Jewish War, Agrippa is
After a brief seclusion, through the mediation of his
wife Cypros and his sister Herodias, Agrippa was given
a sum of money by his brother-in-law and uncle, Herodias husband, Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee and

presented as only a messenger to a condent and energetic

Claudius. But in The Antiquities of the Jews, Agrippas
role is central and crucial: he convinces Claudius to
stand up to the Senate and the Senate to avoid attack1


ing Claudius.[4] After becoming Emperor, Claudius gave after ve days.[8] Josephus then relates how Agrippas
Agrippa dominion over Judea and Samaria and granted brother, Herod of Chalcis, and Helcias sent Aristo to kill
him the ornamenta consularia, and at his request gave Silas.[9]
the kingdom of Chalcis in Lebanon to Agrippas brother
Herod of Chalcis. Thus Agrippa became one of the most
From Josephus, Antiquities 19.8.2 343powerful kings of the east. His domain more or less
361: Now when Agrippa had reigned three
equaled that which was held by his grandfather Herod the
years over all Judea he came to the city
Caesarea, which was formerly called Stratos
In the city of Berytus, he built a theatre and amphitheatre,
Tower; and there he exhibited spectacles in
baths, and porticoes. He was equally generous in Sebaste,
honor of Caesar, for whose well-being he'd
Heliopolis and Caesarea. The suspicions of Claudius prebeen informed that a certain festival was being
vented him from nishing the fortications with which
celebrated. At this festival a great number
he had begun to surround Jerusalem. His friendship was
were gathered together of the principal persons
courted by many of the neighboring kings and rulers,[1]
of dignity of his province. On the second
some of whom he housed in Tiberias, which also caused
day of the spectacles he put on a garment
Claudius some displeasure.[5]
made wholly of silver, of a truly wonderful
texture, and came into the theater early in
the morning. There the silver of his garment,
being illuminated by the fresh reection of the
2 Reign and death
suns rays, shone out in a wonderful manner,
and was so resplendent as to spread awe over
2.1 Accounts in Josephus
those that looked intently upon him. Presently
his atterers cried out, one from one place,
and another from another, (though not for
his good) that he was a god; and they added,
Be thou merciful to us; for although we have
hitherto reverenced thee only as a man, yet
shall we henceforth own thee as superior to
mortal nature. Upon this the king neither
rebuked them nor rejected their impious
attery. But he shortly afterward looked up
and saw an owl sitting on a certain rope over
his head, and immediately understood that this
Agrippa I prutah.
bird was the messenger of ill tidings, just as it
had once been the messenger of good tidings
Agrippa returned to Judea and governed it to the satisto him; and fell into the deepest sorrow. A
faction of the Jews. His zeal, private and public, for Jusevere pain arose in his belly, striking with a
daism is recorded by Josephus, Philo the Alexandrian and
most violent intensity. He therefore looked
the rabbis. Perhaps because of this, his passage through
upon his friends, and said, I, whom you call a
Alexandria in the year 38[6] instigated anti-Jewish riots.[5]
god, am commanded presently to depart this
At the risk of his own life, or at least of his liberty, he inlife; while Providence thus reproves the lying
terceded with Caligula on behalf of the Jews, when that
words you just now said to me; and I, who
emperor was attempting to set up his statue in the Temwas by you called immortal, am immediately
ple at Jerusalem shortly before his death in 41. Agrippas
to be hurried away by death. But I am bound
eorts bore fruit and persuaded Caligula to rescind his
to accept what Providence allots, as it pleases
order thus preventing the Temples desecration.[7]
God; for we have by no means lived ill, but
in a splendid and happy manner. When
After Passover in 44, Agrippa went to Caesarea, where he
he had said this, his pain became violent.
had games performed in honor of Claudius. In the midst
Accordingly he was carried into the palace,
of his speech to the public a cry went out saying this is
and the rumor went abroad everywhere that
not the voice of a man but of a god and Agrippa did not
he would certainly die soon. The multitude
publicly react. At this time he saw an owl perched over
his head. During his imprisonment by Tiberius a similar
sat in sackcloth, men, women and children,
omen had been interpreted as portending his speedy reafter the law of their country, and besought
lease and future kingship, with the warning that should he
God for the kings recovery. All places were
behold the same sight again, he would die. He was immealso full of mourning and lamentation. Now
diately smitten with violent pains, scolded his friends for
the king rested in a high chamber, and as he
attering him and accepted his imminent death. He exsaw them below lying prostrate on the ground
perienced heart pains and a pain in his abdomen, and died
he could not keep himself from weeping. And


Account in the New Testament

when he had been quite worn out by the pain
in his belly for ve days, he departed this life,
being in the fty-fourth year of his age and in
the seventh year of his reign. He ruled four
years under Caius Caesar, three of them were
over Philips tetrarchy only, and on the fourth
that of Herod was added to it; and he reigned,
besides those, three years under Claudius
Caesar, during which time he had Judea added
to his lands, as well as Samaria and Cesarea.
The revenues that he received out of them
were very great, no less than twelve millions
of drachmae. But he borrowed great sums
from others, for he was so very liberal that
his expenses exceeded his incomes, and his
generosity was boundless.

to be dawning anew for the Jews. The Romans, however, became jealous of this rising
prosperity, andsometimes covertly, sometimes openlylaid all manner of obstacles in
his way. When he began to repair the fortications of the capital, he was abruptly bidden to cease. His attempts to fraternize with
neighboring peoplesvassals of Romewere
construed as portending rebellion. His sudden
death at the games in Csarea, 44, must be
considered as a stroke of Roman politics. His
death, while in the full vigor of his years, was
deeply lamented by his people, notwithstanding the fact that he had made many considerable concessions to heathen manners and customs. The Christians looked upon his death as
a judgment for his undisguised hostility to their
young community (Acts, xii.).[10][11][12]

Acts 12 relates that he was eaten by worms, after God

struck him for accepting the praise of sycophants, com- The Talmud also has a positive view of his reign: The
paring him to a god.
Mishnah explained how the Jews of the Second Temple
The Jewish Encyclopedia has a dierent account of era interpreted the requirement of Deuteronomy 31:10
13 that the king read the Torah to the people. At the
Agrippas reign:
conclusion of the rst day of Sukkot immediately after the conclusion of the seventh year in the cycle, they
Claudius, showed himself grateful to
erected a wooden dais in the Temple court, upon which
Agrippa for important services rendered him,
the king sat. The synagogue attendant took a Torah scroll
and upon his accession, placed under his rule
and handed it to the synagogue president, who handed it
the remainder of Palestine, the territories of
to the High Priests deputy, who handed it to the High
Samaria, Judea, and Iduma, formerly govPriest, who handed it to the king. The king stood and
erned by Archelaus. Loaded with honors and
received it, and then read sitting. King Agrippa stood
titles, Agrippa returned home, and the few reand received it and read standing, and the sages praised
maining years of his benevolent sway aorded
him for doing so. When Agrippa reached the commandthe people a brief period of peace and prosperment of Deuteronomy 17:15 that you may not put a fority. The evil consequences of a rulers unbrieigner over you as king, his eyes ran with tears, but they
dled passions and tyranny had been suciently
said to him, Dont fear, Agrippa, you are our brother,
evident to him in Rome, and they had taught
you are our brother![13] The king would read from
him moderation and strict self-control. His
Deuteronomy 1:1 up through the shema (Deuteronomy
people regarded him with love and devotion,
6:49), and then Deuteronomy 11:1321, the portion rebecause he healed with tender hand the deep
garding tithes (Deuteronomy 14:2229), the portion of
wounds inicted upon the national susceptibilthe king (Deuteronomy 17:1420), and the blessings and
ities by brutal Roman governors. He ruled
curses (Deuteronomy 2728). The king would recite
his subjects with compassion and friendliness.
the same blessings as the High Priest, except that the
Like the ancestral Asmoneans from whom he
king would substitute a blessing for the festivals instead
sprang through his noble grandmother Mariof one for the forgiveness of sin. (Mishnah Sotah 7:8;
amne, he honored the Law. Like the merest
Babylonian Talmud Sotah 41a.)
commoner, he carried his basket of rst-fruits
to the Temple; with the people he celebrated
appropriately the Feast of Tabernacles, and he
2.2 Account in the New Testament
devoted to the sanctuary a golden chain with
which Caligula had honored him. On one ocThe King Herod mentioned in the Bible's Acts of the
casion, while in the street, he met a bridal proApostles, chapter 12,[14] is identied as the same percession which drew up to let him pass, but he
son as Herod Agrippa (though the Herod mentioned in
halted and bade it take precedence. He sought
Acts 13:1 refers to Herod Antipas). The identication
to lighten taxation, remitting the impost on
is based in part on the description of his death, which is
houses in Jerusalem. On the coins minted by
very similar to Agrippas death in Josephus's Antiquities
him he carefully avoided placing any symbols
of the Jews 19.8.2, although Josephus does not include
which could oend the peoples religious senthe claim that an angel of the Lord struck him down, and
timent. Thus, prosperity and comfort seemed


Berenice [b.28-after 81 AD], who rst married
Marcus Julius Alexander, son of Alexander the Alabarch around 41 AD. After Marcus Julius died, she
married her uncle Herod, king of Chalcis. She later
lived with her brother Agrippa II, reputedly in an
incestuous relationship. Finally, she married Polamo, king of Cilicia as alluded to by Juvenal.[19]
Berenice also had a common-law relationship with
the Roman emperor Titus.[20]
Mariamne [b.34-?], who married Gaius Julius
Archelaus Antiochus Epiphanes; they had a daughter Berenice (daughter of Mariamne) [b.50 AD]
who lived with her mother in Alexandria, Egypt after her parents divorce

Coin of Herod of Chalcis, showing Herod of Chalcis with brother

Agrippa I crowning Roman Emperor Claudius I.

he was eaten by worms. Further evidence is the identication of the ruler in Acts 12:1 as Herod the king, since
Agrippa is the only Herod who would have had authority
in Jerusalem at that time.[15]
The description of Herod Agrippa as a cruel, heartless
king who persecuted the Jerusalem church, having James
son of Zebedee killed and imprisoning Peter, stands in
contrast with Josephus account of a kindly man. According to Josephus, he was a milder ruler than his grandfather Herod the Great, and Josephus records him as talking
with and then forgiving a law student accused of political
rabble rousing, rather than punishing him as his grandfather and some other Herods would have done. Christian
scholars argue that the biblical account makes sense given
that Agrippa had been raised with a strong Jewish identity. Agrippa would resent a movement begun during his
absence from Juda that tried to declare a man as divine.
Blastus is mentioned in the New Testament as Herods
chamberlain.[16] Herod Antipas, uncle and predecessor of
Agrippa as ruler of Galilee and Pera, is the Herod mentioned in the Gospels who authorized the execution of
John the Baptist and played a role in the trial of Jesus.[17]
Herod Agrippa II, son of Herod Agrippa, was asked, with
his sister Berenice, by the Roman Procurator of Judea,
Porcius Festus, to assist in the mini-trial of the Apostle


By his wife Cypros he had a son and three daughters.

They were:
Herod Agrippa II [b.27/28 AD?-d.93 AD?] became
the seventh and nal king from the Herodian family

Drusilla [3879 AD], who married rst to Gaius

Julius Azizus, King of Emesa and then to Antonius
Felix, the procurator of Judaea.[21][22][23][24]
Drusilla and her son Marcus Antonius Agrippa
died in Pompeii during the eruption of Vesuvius.
A daughter Antonia Clementiana became a grandmother to a Lucius Anneius Domitius Proculus.
Two possible descendants from this marriage are
Marcus Antonius Fronto Salvianus (a quaestor)
and his son Marcus Antonius Felix Magnus, a high
priest in 225.

4 Family tree
5 Agrippa in other media
Herod Agrippa is the protagonist of the Italian
opera, LAgrippa tetrarca di Gerusalemme (1724) by
Giuseppe Maria Buini (mus.) and Claudio Nicola
Stampa (libr.), rst performed at the Teatro Ducale
of Milan, Italy, on August 28, 1724.[25]
Herod Agrippa is a major gure in Robert Graves'
novel Claudius the God, as well as the BBC television
adaptation I, Claudius, wherein he was portrayed by
James Faulkner as an adult and Michael Clemments
as a child. He is depicted as one of Claudius closest lifelong friends. Herod acts as Claudius last and
most trustworthy friend and advisor, giving him the
key advice to trust no one, not even him. This advice
proves prophetic at the end of Herods life, where he
is depicted as coming to believe that he is a prophesied Messiah and raising a rebellion against Rome,
to Claudius dismay. However, he is struck down by
a possibly supernatural illness and sends a nal letter
to Claudius asking for forgiveness.


[1] Mason, Charles Peter (1867), Agrippa, Herodes I, in

Smith, William, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology 1, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, pp. 7778

[22] Josephus, The Wars of the Jews i. 28. 1, ii. 9. 11

[23] Cassius Dio lx. 8
[24] Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History ii. 10
[25] G. Boccaccini, Portraits of Middle Judaism in Scholarship
and Arts (Turin: Zamorani, 1992).

[2] Josephus, Antiquitates Judaicae xvii. 2. 2

[3] Josephus, Antiquitates Judaicae xviii. 7. 2

7 References

[4] Schwartz, Daniel R. Agrippa I Mohr 1990

[5] Rajak, Tessa (1996), Iulius Agrippa (1) I, Marcus, in
Hornblower, Simon, Oxford Classical Dictionary, Oxford:
Oxford University Press

This article incorporates text from a publication

now in the public domain: Easton, Matthew George
(1897). "article name needed ". Eastons Bible Dictionary
(New and revised ed.). T. Nelson and Sons.

This article incorporates text from a publication

now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed.
(1911). Encyclopdia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Smith, William, ed.
(1870). "article name needed ". Dictionary of Greek and
Roman Biography and Mythology.

[6] AgrippaI, Daniel R. schwartz, 1990

[7] Ebner, Eliezer, History of the Jewish People, The Second
Temple Era, Mesorah Publications Ltd. 1982, p. 155
[8] Josephus, Antiquitates Judaicae xix. 345350 (Chapter 8
para 2)
[9] Josephus, Antiquitates Judaicae xix. Chapter 8 para 3 But
before the multitude were made acquainted with Agrippas
being expired, Herod the king of Chalcis, and Helcias the
master of his horse, and the kings friend, sent Aristo, one
of the kings most faithful servants, and slew Silas, who had
been their enemy, as if it had been done by the kings own
[10] Jewish Encyclopedia. Jewish Encyclopedia. Retrieved
[11] Likewise See biography at Jewish Virtual Library for
an alternative possible explanation for Agrippas death. Retrieved 2012-01-28.
[12] It must be said that this was not an accurate representation of the Christians attitude; writing only 16 years later
Luke claimed that the gruesome death was retribution
for Agrippas blasphemous acceptance of the attery of a
delegation from Tyre and Sidon, The voice of a god, not
of a man. (Acts. 12.2024) Nor does it appear that any
suggestion was made at the time that there was a Roman
conspiracy behind the sudden death of the Emperors old
[13] Ebner, 1982, p.156
[14] Acts 12:123
[15] Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 19.5.1
[16] Acts 12:20
[17] Matthew 14:312, Mark 6:1729 and Luke 23:512
[18] Acts 25:13 26:32
[19] Juvenal, Satires vi. 156
[20] Suetonius, Titus 7
[21] Josephus, Antiquitates Judaicae xvii. 1. 2, xviii. 58,
xix. 48

Yohanan Aharoni & Michael Avi-Yonah, The

MacMillan Bible Atlas, Revised Edition, p. 156
(1968 & 1977, by Carta Ltd.).

8 External links
Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Agrippa, Herod, I.".
Encyclopdia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Jewish Encyclopedia: Agrippa I.
Agrippa I, article in historical sourcebook by
Mahlon H. Smith
Sergey E. Rysev. Herod and Agrippa


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