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The Herodian Dynasty was a Jewish dynasty of Idumean descent, who ruled Iudaea Province between 37 BC - AD 92.

Coin of Herod the Great



During the time of the Hasmonean ruler John Hyrcanus 134-104 BCE, Israel conquered Edom (which the Romans called Idumea) and forced the Edomites to convert to Judaism.

The Edomites were integrated into the Jewish people. In the days of Alexander Jannaeus one of them, Antipas, was appointed governor of Edom.

His son Antipater, founder of the Herodian Dynasty, was the head adviser of Hyrcanus II and managed to establish a good relationship with the Romans, who at that time (63 BCE) had conquered Israel.

Julius Caesar appointed Antipater to be procurator of Judea in 47 BCE and he appointed his sons Phasael and Herod to be governors of Jerusalem and Galilee respectively.

Antipater was murdered in 43 BCE; however, his sons managed to hold the reins of power and were elevated to the rank of tetrarch in 41 BCE by Mark Anthony.

Rise to power

In 40 BCE the Parthians invaded the Roman eastern provinces and managed to expel the Romans. In Judea the Hasmonean dynasty was restored under king Antigonus.

Herod the Great, who was the son of Antipater the Idumean and Cypros, a Nabataean princess, managed to escape to Rome. There he was elected "King of the Jews" by the Roman Senate[1]. However Herod did not fully conquer all Israel until 37 BCE. He ruled for 34 years.

Herod ruled Israel until 4 BCE; at his death his kingdom was divided between his three sons.

Herod Archelaus, son of Herod and Malthace the Samaritan, was given the main part of the kingdom: Judea, Edom and Samaria. He ruled for ten years until 6 AD when he was "banished to Vienne in Gaul, where—according to Dion Cassius Cocceianus, "Hist. Roma," lv. 27—he lived for the remainder of his days."[2] See also Census of Quirinius.

Herod Philip I, son of Herod and his fifth wife Cleopatra of Jerusalem, was given jurisdiction over the northeast part of his father's kingdom; he ruled there until his death in 34.

Herod Antipas, another son of Herod and Malthace, was made ruler of the Galilee and Perea; he ruled there until he was exiled to Spain by emperor Caligula in 39.

Agrippa I was the grandson of Herod; thanks to his friendship with emperor Caligula he was appointed by him as ruler of the territories of Herod Philip after his death in 34, and in 39 he was given the territories of Herod Antipas. In 41 emperor Claudius added to his territory the parts of Iudea province that previously belonged to Herod Archelaus. Thus Agrippa re-united his grandfather's kingdom under his rule. He died in 44.

His son Agrippa II was appointed King and ruler of the northern parts of his father's kingdom. He was the last of the Herodians, and with his death in 92 the dynasty was extinct.

In addition some members of the Herodian dynasty were rulers of Chalcis and Armenia.

Herodian dynasty in later culture




  • Hordos u-Miryam (1935), a Hebrew novel by Aaron Orinowsky
  • Mariamne (1967), a Swedish novel by Pär Lagerkvist


  • Herod appears in some cycles of the Mystery Plays, played as an over the top villain. Such portrayals were still in folk memory in William Shakespeare's time, for Hamlet instructs the players not to "out-Herod Herod" (Act 3, Scene 2).
  • Marianna (1565), an Italian drama by Lodovico Dolce
  • Mariam, the Faire Queene of Jewry (1613) an English drama by Elizabeth Tanfield Cary
  • Herod and Antipater, with the Death of Faire Mariam (1622), an English drama by Gervase Markham and William Sampson
  • Mariamne (1636), a French drama by François Tristan l'Hermite
  • La mort des enfants d’Hérode; ou, Suite de Mariamne (1639), a French drama by Gathier de Costes de la Calprenède
  • Herod and Mariamne (1673), an English drama by Samuel Pordage
  • La Mariamne (1696), an Italian opera by Giovanni Maria Ruggeri (mus.) and Lorenzo Burlini (libr.)
  • Mariamne (1723), a French drama by Elijah Fenton
  • Herod features in two 18th century French plays on Mariamne, by Nadal and Voltaire.
  • Herodes und Mariamne (1850), a German drama by Christian Frederick Hebbel
  • Myriam ha-Hashmonayith (1891), a Yiddish drama by Moses Seiffert
  • Tsar Irod I tsaritsa Mariamna (1893), a Russian drama by Dmitri Alexandrov
  • Herod and Mariamne (1938), an English drama by Clemence Dane


  • Herod and Mariamne (1888), an English poem by Amelie Rives
  • Mariamne (1911), an English poem by Thomas Sturge Moore

Figurative arts


Performing arts


  • Herod’s Lament for Mariamne (1815), an English song by Isaac Nathan (mus.) and George Byron (libr.)
  • Herodes und Mariamne (1922), incidental music by Karol Rathaus
  • Lied der Mariamne (ohne Worte) (1927), incidental music by Mikhail Gnesin


  • La Marianna (1785), an Italian ballet by Giuseppe Banti (chor.)



  1. ^ Jewish War 1.14.4: Mark Antony " …then resolved to get him made king of the Jews… told them that it was for their advantage in the Parthian war that Herod should be king; so they all gave their votes for it. And when the senate was separated, Antony and Caesar went out, with Herod between them; while the consul and the rest of the magistrates went before them, in order to offer sacrifices [to the Roman gods], and to lay the decree in the Capitol. Antony also made a feast for Herod on the first day of his reign."
  2. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia: Archelaus: Banishment and Death

See also

External links


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