Herodias: Wikis


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Herodias, by Paul Delaroche.

Herodias (c. 15 BC-after 39 AD) was a Jewish princess of the Herodian Dynasty.





Herod II

Around the year AD 1 or 2, she married her uncle, Herod II, also called Herod Boethus, son of Herod the Great and Mariamne II, daughter of the high priest Simon Boethus. Although seen for a while as the successor of Herod the Great, he fell from grace after his mother's implication in a plot to kill the king. After his marriage with Herodias, he and his wife lived as upper-class private citizens in or near a harbor city, possibly Azotus, Ashkelon or Caesarea Maritima. With him, Herodias had a daughter (born circa 14), whom she named Salome after Herodias's maternal grandmother.

Herod Antipas

However, around 23, she divorced her husband and married another uncle, Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea. Although Herod Antipas and Herodias may really have loved each other, political considerations were probably of more importance to them in this marriage - Herodias' Hasmonean descent was a very good asset for Antipas' ambitions to the royal crown and gave a sort of legitimacy to his claim; for Herodias, her marriage with Antipas improved her social status very significantly and she was close to being a queen, a position she might have dreamed of since her betrothal to her first husband, the former sole legatee of Herod the Great. However this union was not well received by Antipas' subjects and offended the religious sensibilities of many Jews. Indeed, Antipas' and Herodias' union was considered a violation of Jewish Law of marriage and was openly criticized by John the Baptist. This may have enraged the Hellenistically educated Herodian couple, who probably wanted to pose before the population as observant Jews. In the Jewish law of the time, the sin of the marriage was not that Herod Antipas was her uncle (marriage to an uncle was only later outlawed), but rather she was his living brother's ex-wife.

In 37, Herodias' brother Herod Agrippa was made king over the territories of Batanaea and Trachonitis and the tetrarchy of the late Lysanias. This roused Herodias' jealousy and she prodded Antipas to sail for Rome and ask the title of king from the emperor Gaius Caligula. They embarked for Italy in late 39. However, they were outsmarted by Agrippa, who had sent letters to Caligula denouncing Antipas' alliance with Parthia and other of his misdeeds. When Caligula deposed Antipas and sentenced him to exile in what is now Lyon (Gaul), he offered Herodias the possibility to return in Judea and live at the court of her brother. But she proudly refused and accompanied her husband in his banishment. They most likely died in their exile, shortly afterward.

In the Gospels

Caravaggio's Salome with the Head of John the Baptist.

In the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, Herodias plays a major role in John the Baptist's execution, using her daughter's dance before Antipas and his party guests to ask for the head of the Baptist as a reward. Antipas did not want to put John the Baptist to death, for Antipas liked to listen to John the Baptist preach (Mark 6:20). Furthermore, Antipas may have feared that if John the Baptist were to be put to death, his followers would riot.

Modern scholarship

At least one biblical scholar has doubted that the Gospels give historically accurate accounts of John the Baptist's execution.[1] According to the ancient historian Josephus, John the Baptist was put to death by Antipas for political reasons, for Antipas feared the prophet's seditious influence.[2] Some exegetes believe that Antipas' and Herodias' struggle with John the Baptist as told in the Gospels was some kind of a remembrance of the political and religious fight opposing the Israeli monarchs Achab and Jezebel to the prophet Elijah.

In medieval literature

In medieval Europe a widespread belief held Herodias to be the supernatural leader of a supposed cult of witches, synonymous with Diana, Holda and Abundia.[3] See Cult of Herodias.


  1. ^ Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Volume Two: Mentor, Message and Miracles. Anchor Bible Reference Library, New York: Doubleday, 1994, pp. 171-176.
  2. ^ Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, Book XVIII, Chapter 5. [1]
  3. ^ Ginzburg, Carlo (1990). Ecstasies: Deciphering the witches' sabbath. London: Hutchinson Radius. ISBN 0-09-174024-X.  

Further reading

  • Gillman, Florence Morgan. Herodias: At Home in the Fox's Den. Interfaces. Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2003.
  • Meier, John P. A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Volume Two: Mentor, Message and Miracles. Anchor Bible Reference Library, New York: Doubleday, 1994.
  • Theissen, Gerd. The Shadow of the Galilean: The Quest of the Historical Jesus in Narrative Form. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987.

Herodias in fiction

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

by Gustave Flaubert
Herodias is the retelling of the beheading of John the Baptist. It starts slightly before the arrival of the Syrian governor, Lucius_Vitellius, which coincides with a huge birthday celebration for Herodias' second husband, Herod Antipas. Herodias has a plan to behead John, unknown to her husband. According to Flaubert, this plan entails making her husband fall in love with her daughter, Salomé. The story first appeared in Flaubert's book, Three Tales.
PD-icon.svg This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

(Mt 14:3ff; Mk 6:17ff; Lk 3:19), the daughter of Aristobulus and Bernice. While residing at Rome with her husband Herod Philip I. and her daughter, Herod Antipas fell in with her during one of his journeys to that city. She consented to leave her husband and become his wife. Some time after, Herod met John the Baptist, who boldly declared the marriage to be unlawful. For this he was "cast into prison," in the castle probably of Machaerus, and was there subsequently beheaded.

This article needs to be merged with HERODIAS (Jewish Encyclopedia).
This article needs to be merged with Herodias (Catholic Encyclopedia).
This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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Child of Aristobulus  +, and Bernice  +
Married to Herod Philip I.  +


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