Herod Agrippa I | Index

Emperor Claudius

coins_agrippa_1_small.gifWhen Caligula was assassinated in 41 A.D. Agrippa is given credit by Josephus to have played an important part in the intense negotiations which followed. It is interesting how Claudius had ascended the throne at this time without a bloody civil war. As a result Claudius bestowed upon Agrippa Judea, Abilene and Samaria (formerly governed by Archelaus) and nearly the entire kingdom of his grandfather Herod. Claudius even went so far as to perform a ceremony in the great Forum at Rome, to honor Agrippa's new position. Agrippa's coinage indicates that the ceremony was held according to archaic custom (Ant 19:275). Agrippa also received the symbols of the rank of consul.


Evidence of the historicity of this account is furnished in a coin that can be seen on the cover of this program, struck by Herod Agrippa I, at Caesarea. It reads:

Obverse: Basileus megas Agrippa Philokaiser

("Agrippa the Great, Lover of Caesar").

Kaisar e Sebasto Aimeni

("Caesar on Port Sebastus").

Sebaste is the standing Greek word for Augustus, the title assumed by several emperors. "Cumanus took one troop of horsemen, called the troop of Sebaste, out of Caesarea" (Wars 2.12.5).

According to Dio, Agrippa even won rule over Chalcis for his brother Herod. When Agrippa returned to his enlarged kingdom he favored Jerusalem and other cities, especially Berytus in Syria. Yet, even though he was so close in relationship to Claudius, Agrippa was ordered to abandon any fortifications, including Jerusalem and Tiberias because they posed a potential threat.

It is interesting that Agrippa observed the Jewish traditions very closely, as seen on his coinage. He also persecuted the Christians very fiercely; he executed James and chained Peter up in prison (Acts 12:1-5).