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Herodís Will


Herod's Will and the Inheritance of His Kingdom Disputed

During his life Herod had written six wills and the sixth will was made only five days before his death. No doubt it needed the authorization of the emperor. So as soon as Herod died Archelaus took over the leadership but he did not accept the title of king nor allow himself to be crowned. Immediately after the Passover Archelaus and Antipas left for Rome to dispute the last two wills of Herod while Philip took care of the home front.

Archelaus claimed that Augustus should ratify Herod's last will because it expressed Herod's desire just before he died. On the other hand Antipas claimed that the fifth will which already had been ratified did have greater validity because when Herod designated Antipas as king he was in good physical and mental health, whereas when he named Archelaus as king in the codicils he was stricken both in mind and body and was incapable of good reasoning.

To complicate the situation further, there was a revolt in Palestine while the two brothers were in Rome disputing the will. The result of this revolt was that a Jewish delegation was sent to Rome pleading for the autonomy of the nation and for its union with the province of Syria. By now Philip had also gone to Rome.

After long debate and delay Augustus decided on a compromise solution, Augustus designated Archelaus as ethnarch with the promise to be made king if he proved capable of that position and was to rule over Idumea, Judea, and; Samaria. Antipas was made tetrarch over Galilee and Perea and Philip was made tetrarch over Gaulanitis, Tranchonitis, Batanea, and Paneas. Therefore, although Antipas lost claim to kingship, he prevented Archelaus from being king over the whole realm.


King Herod the Great

"in the days of Herod the king" - Matthew 2:1

Herod the Great - A Brief Overview

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Herod I (the Great) was son of Antipater and made king by the Romans in 40 B.C. He managed to keep hold of his throne in the face of the many changes in the government at Rome.

His kingdom comprised Judea, Samaria, Galilee, Idumea, Batanea, and Peraea, which was approximately the same size as the kingdom of David and Solomon.

Although Herod had exceptional leadership skills, he was extremely disliked by the Jews. His attitude toward the Maccabean dynasty, to which he was related by marriage, along with his insolence and cruelty, angered them all the more. He even had his brother-in-law and several of his wives and sons executed.

He forced heavy taxes and brutally repressed any rebellions. But it was by his policy of Hellenistic culture that he greatly wounded the Jews. The construction of a race-course, a theater, and an amphitheater in Jerusalem, his wide support of the emperor cult in the East, and the construction of pagan temples in foreign cities at his own expense could not be forgiven, even though he restored and reconstructed the Temple of Jerusalem and continually pleaded the cause of the Jews of the Diaspora to the emperor to his own gains.

There was no close tie between the king and his people; he remained an Edomite and a friend of Rome, only holding on to his power by the use of a merciless military force. This is the same Herod the Great who massacred the children of Bethlehem (Matt. 2).

Herod suddenly died in 4 B.C.


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Bibliography on Herod the Great

The Many Faces of Herod the Great by Marshak, 448 Pages, Pub. 2014

The True Herod by Vermes, 192 Pages, Pub. 2014


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