Herod Antipas

Herod Antipas was the king of Palestine 4 BC - AD 39. Herod was the meanest thing the world has ever seen, a courtier of the early empire. Antipas ruled Galilee and Perea under their Roman emperor, although he kept up a pretense of independence. He had been corrupted by the influence of the Roman court, and had flattered the worst vices of the worst men in the worst age of the world's history. He had some of his father's gift for flattering emperors and was crafty and luxurious, like his father, at once a Jew and an agent of the Roman power. Already he had built a wonderful new city on the shore of the lake, called it Tiberius, and moved his capital there from Sepphoris, which was a few miles from Nazareth. In the last year of the hidden life, Herod made the one crashing mistake of his own life. He divorced his wife and stole the wife of one of his half brothers. Her name was Herodias, and she had a daughter Salome, who danced. In the end the hatred of his first wife's father lost him his Tetrarchy. He died in exile.

Antipas was a son of Herod the Great who was too young when his father died to excite his jealousy and therefore survived him. Not much known beyond his building activities and the war he lost to the Nabataeans. The cause of this war was the same as that which led to Johns death. Herod Antipas had an eye for women much like his blood-thirsty father, Herod the Great, who had been married no less than ten times. Antipas had married a daughter of Aretas, king of the Nabataeans. On a visit to Rome he had met Herodias, the wife of one of his brothers-she was niece to both men. Salome would one day marry a great-uncle. Antipas married Herodias and his Arab wife fled to her father's capital city, Petra. The whole Jewish people were scandalized - divorce was allowed, but the book of Leviticus had condemned the taking of a living brother's wife. He sent away his own wife and married his sister-in-law, though she had children by his brother Philip, which was contrary to the Jewish law. The whole nation exclaimed against this incestuous union. In condemning Herod's action, the Baptist spoke the mind of all Jewry. Herod arrested him. The tetrarch sat in his administrative office with his wife, Herodias, and an aide, Chuza. Ordinarily, Antipas would have only worn the imperial toga for ceremonial use. But there were disturbing rumors in the air, and he wore the garment now for the symbolism it carried: the outward emblem of an invincible and ruthless conqueror in Rome, whom he represented in Galilee.

The twelfth chapter of Acts opens with an account of Herod's attempt to destroy the church and closes it with an account of Herod's destruction. He was almost as ambitious a builder as his father. His reign spanned Jesus' youth and ministry and ordered the execution of John the Baptist. "That fox," Jesus called him and ruled Galilee during Jesus' youth and manhood. His royal residence for years had been at Sepphoris, and the neighboring village lads must have often seen the princely retinues that came and went, and heard rumors of the intrigues and cruelties of the court. He lost his tetrarchy and became nothing, an exile in Gaul, banished by the Romans, by Caligula. Herod Antipas could have spared both John and Jesus, but he did nothing. He was a weakling, a fool. Naturally Antipas feared Jesus, as he had feared John the Baptist, because both represented a clear rebuke to his kind of life. While addressing a large crowd Antipas fell down smitten with worms.
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