Written By Angelique Geeringh
Herod was the family name of several Roman rulers who served as provincial governors of Palestine and surrounding regions during New Testament times. The first Herod was known as Herod the Great, and he was the ruler of Palestine when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. This Herod was the one who killed the baby boys under the age of two in an attempt to kill Jesus after the visit of the wise men. This happened after the wise men had inquired as to where they could find the king of the Jews. (Read about this in Matthew chapter 2). All the other rulers named Herod in the New Testament are either the sons or grandsons of Herod the Great.
This lineage of the 'Herods' mentioned through the New Testament is filled with brutality and blatant immoral behaviour. Herod the Great had more than one wife, and this resulted in a family made up of half-brothers and half-sisters. Herod's son Herod Antipas, from his wife named Malthace from Samaria, succeeded him as the Roman governor. Herod Antipas, together with his wife, Herodias, had John the Baptist imprisoned and then executed.
Herodias was the daughter of Aristobulus, who was also a son of Herod the Great just from another wife (Mariamne I, who was a Hasmonean princess). Herodias was originally married to Herod Philip who, yes you guessed it, was also a son of Herod the Great but from yet another wife (Mariamne II of Jerusalem). Herod the Great also killed two of his sons when he thought they wanted his throne. Soap operas have nothing on Herod and his family!
We now have a clearer picture of why the behaviour of Herod Antipas and Herodias resulted in John speaking out so strongly against this relationship. Herodias was furious with John for revealing the sinful nature of her relationship with Herod Antipas. This fury resulted in her ultimately orchestrating the beheading of John (Read the full story in Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29 and Luke 3:19-20). John offered both Herod Antipas and Herodias the opportunity to repent from their sin, but they both rebelled against this.
According to the historian, Josephus, Herodias' ambition was the ruin of Herod. Jealous of the power of Agrippa her brother, she prodded Herod to demand of Caligula, the Roman emperor, the title of king. Agrippa saw to it that this demand was refused, and Herod Antipas was banished and ended his days in shame and exile. The pride of Herodias forced her to be faithful to her husband in the disgrace and misfortune she had caused.
Also part of the family of Herod was Drusilla and Bernice. Both of these young ladies were the granddaughters of Herod the Great. Just like Herodias before them, both of these women lived their lives selfishly and immorally. And in the same way as Herodias, they also turned away from hearing the gospel of truth that Paul shared with them (Read about Drusilla in Acts 24:24 and Bernice in Acts 25:13 and 23 and Acts 26:30). We don't know how Bernice ended her days on earth, but we do know that she jumped from relationship to relationship in an attempt to gain more power for herself. History has a record of the death of Drusilla and her son, who were near Pompeii when Mount Vesuvius erupted. So much grasping for power…yet death came to all of these characters, and without Jesus, they died in sin.
Today, selfish ambition and immorality is an acceptable part of life. In order for us as Christians to live the life that Jesus has called us to live, we need to heed his words found in John 8:31 - 32 (NKJV) Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
May we all abide in God's Word on a daily basis, and live our lives as Paul instructs in Romans 12:2 (NKJV)
'And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.'