Antipas the Tetrarch
Herod Antipas ruled from 4 B.C.-39 A.D. He was the son of Herod and Malthace (
a Samaritan) born 20 B.C. and the younger brother of Archelaus.
Of all the Herodians, Herod Antipas is the most prominent in the New
Testament, for he was the tetrarch over Galilee and Perea, the two areas in which John
the Baptist and Christ did most of their ministry.
When Antipas returned from Rome to begin his rule in the domains allotted to
him by Augustus Caesar, he found much of his new territories in ruin because of
the rebellion at the feast of Pentecost in 4 B.C. He had to restore order and
rebuild what had been destroyed.
His father Herod the Great was one of the greatest builders of the ancient
world and he had also founded cities. Antipas desired to follow in his fathers
footsteps. He began by rebuilding Sepphoris which was the largest city in Galilee
and his capital city until he built Tiberias. He probably completed the task
around 10 A.D. and it is very possible that Joseph, Mary's husband, ran his trade
as a carpenter (Matt 13:55; Mark 6:3) during its rebuilding, since Nazareth
was only four miles to the south/southwest of Sepphoris.
Antipas then rebuilt the second major city called Livias (or Julias) of Perea
in honor of Livia, the wife of Augustus. Antipas completed this city in 13 A.D.
Out of the 12 cities that the Herodian family had built, Tiberias should be
considered as one of the most important. It was the first city in Jewish history
to be founded within the municipal framework of a Greek polls. It was built in
honor of the reigning Emperor Tiberius.
It is important to note that while they were building the city of Tiberias
they struck upon a cemetery. Antipas destroyed the cemetery and because of that
the Jewish authorities considered it unclean and Antipas had difficulty in
getting any Jews to settle there let alone the devout Jews. He offered free houses
and lands and exemption from taxes for the first few years if anyone moved into
the new city. It was completed 23 A.D. and became Antipas' capital.