Daniel and The Herod Dynasty – Part 2

On my last blog I showed how the story of the wise men ties in with Daniel chapter 11 in quite a surprising way. But there’s even more to tie in with the prophecies of Daniel and the Idumeans, as you’ll soon discover.

Herod had built many royal palaces throughout Judea. He had one on the coast of the Mediterranean sea at Caesarea, one in Jerusalem on the opposite hill to the temple and one at Jericho between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. When Herod’s health started to deteriorate it was decided to move him to his palace at Jericho. There, Herod became so desperate to die, but even he – the mass murderer, failed in committing his very own suicide.

Josephus recorded the events …


The Death Of Herod

When Herod’s health began to fail him rapidly, he was moved to his winter capital in Jericho. From there he was carried by stretcher to the hot springs on the shores of the Dead Sea. The springs did no good; Herod returned home. Racked by hopelessness, Herod attempted suicide. Rumors of the attempt caused loud wailing throughout the palace. Herod’s son, imprisoned by his paranoid father, mistook the cries to mean his father was dead. Immediately, he tried to bribe his jailers, who reported the bribery attempt to Herod. The sick king ordered his son executed on the spot. Now Herod plunged deeper into depression. He was only days away from his own death- and he knew it. What pained him most was the knowledge that his death would be met with joy in Judea. To forestall this, he devised an incredible plan.

Having assembled the most distinguished men from every village from one end of Judea to the other, he ordered them to be locked in the hippodrome at Jericho. Josephus- Jewish Wars [1]


Daniel’s Prophecy Fulfilled


That description of events fits so well with Daniel 11:45.

“He will pitch the tents of his royal pavilion between the seas and the beautiful Holy Mountain; yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him. ~ Daniel 11:45


Josephus also wrote in graphic detail about his death:

But now Herod’s distemper greatly increased upon him after a severe manner, and this by God’s judgement upon him for his sins; for a fire glowed in him slowly, which did not so much appear to the touch outwardly, as it augmented his pains inwardly; for it brought upon him a vehement appetite to eating, which he could not avoid to supply with one sort of food or other.

His entrails were also exulcerated, and the chief violence of his pain lay on his colon; an aqueous and transparent liquor also had settled itself about his feet, and a like matter afflicted him at the bottom of his belly. Nay farther, his privy-member was putrified, and produced worms; and when he sat upright, he had a difficulty of breathing, which was very loathsome on account of the stench of his breath, and the quickness of its returns; he had also convulsions in all parts of his body, which increased his strength to an insufferable degree.

It was said by those who pretended to divine, and who were endued with wisdom to foretell such things, that God inflicted this punishment on the king, on account of his great impiety … [2]


It’s certainly not the ending you’d have expected for the Christmas story about the wise men! But it shows how deluded Herod actually was. Even on his death bed he gave authority for his third son to be killed. But he also knew that no one in Judea would mourn his death. So he devised a plan to have those that held the highest offices in every single village across Judea to be killed once he died.

When Herod finally died, his awful massacre on Daniel’s people was never carried out.

An angel of the Lord then appeared to Joseph to tell him to return from Egypt. So Joseph “went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled”, “He shall be called a Nazarene.” ~ Matthew 2:23

But there was another ruthless Herod that was yet to come!


But first, let’s have a brief look at the Herod Dynasty that governed over Daniel’s people*:

The Idumean/Edomite Herod Dynasty

1. Antipater (died 43 BC): He was the Idumaean founder of the Herodian dynasty. He became the procurator of Judea in 47 BC and was given Roman citizenship for his loyalty to Julius Caesar. This honour was then passed on to his sons when his father appointed Herod as governor of Galilee [3] and his other son Phasael to be governor of Jerusalem.

2. Phasael (died 40 BC): He was the elder brother of Herod the Great and was governor of Jerusalem.

3. Herod the Great (ruled 37- 1/3/4 BC**): Even though Herod originally was only a governor of Galilee, he made so many friends in Rome that eventually they gave him the title of ‘King’ and authority as the King of the Jews.

4. Herod Archelaus (ruled 4 BC** – AD 6): He received half of his father’s territory – Judea and Samaria, hence the reason Joseph decided to live outside of his jurisdiction in Nazareth. He only was in power for about 10 years and the Roman authorities then took over, placing procurators like Pontius Pilate in charge.

5. Herod Philip the Tetrarch (ruled 4 BC** – AD 34): He inherited the remaining quarter of Herod the Great’s territory and as a Tetrarch the Romans allowed him to govern. Heriodias divorced him to marry Herod Antipas.

6. Herod Antipater, known also as Antipas (ruled 4 BC** – AD 39): He was given a quarter of his fathers territory which covered parts of Galilee and Perea. He built Tiberius as his capital on the shores of the Sea of Galilee in honour of Emperor Tiberius. He also renamed the Sea of Galilee – the Sea of Tiberias. He was the Herod who illegally married Herodias, the wife of his half brother Philip the Tetrarch and who beheaded John the Baptist. Jesus referred to Antipas as ‘the fox’ and he also mocked Jesus on the night of his trial.

When Pilate heard it, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7 And when he learned that He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who himself also was in Jerusalem at that time…11 And Herod with his soldiers, after treating Him with contempt and mocking Him, dressed Him in a gorgeous robe and sent Him back to Pilate. 12 Now Herod and Pilate became friends with one another that very day; for before they had been enemies with each other. ~ Luke 23:6-7, 11, 12

 7. Herod Agrippa I / Agrippa The Great (ruled AD 37- 44 and was King of Judea from AD 41- 44 )

Agrippa was Herod The Great’s grandson. He was the most popular Herod among the Jews, as well as being highly favoured by the Emperors in Rome, having the noble title ‘friend of Caesar’. Out of the Herod dynasty he was the only one that eventually held more territory than his grandfather. He became the last Herod to have authority as King of the Jews and he ruled in that position for 3 years.

He had such a zeal for Judaism, the Jews loved him, hence the reason he is written about so favourably by Josephus and in the Talmud.

 When Agrippa reached the commandment of Deuteronomy 17:15 that “you may not put a foreigner over you” as king, his eyes ran with tears, but they said to him, “Don’t fear, Agrippa, you are our brother, you are our brother!” ~ Babylonian Talmud [4]


He hated Christians and persecuted them to keep in with the Jews. He was ruthless and he killed James the brother of John and imprisoned Peter. He had hoped to put Peter on trial and have him killed too, but an angel came and miraculously released him from his prison cell.

Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword. When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. Now it was during the days of Unleavened Bread. When he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out before the people. So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.

On the very night when Herod was about to bring him forward …11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I know for sure that the Lord has sent forth His angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.  ~ Acts 12:6,11


His Followers Thought He Was Divine

“Now when Agrippa had reigned three years over all Judea he came to the city Caesarea, which was formerly called Strato’s Tower; and there he exhibited spectacles in honor of Caesar, for whose well-being he’d been informed that a certain festival was being celebrated. At this festival a great number were gathered together of the principal persons of dignity of his province. On the second day of the spectacles he put on a garment made wholly of silver, of a truly wonderful texture, and came into the theater early in the morning. There the silver of his garment, being illuminated by the fresh reflection of the sun’s rays, shone out in a wonderful manner, and was so resplendent as to spread awe over those that looked intently upon him. Presently his flatterers cried out, one from one place, and another from another, (though not for his good) that he was a god; and they added, “Be thou merciful to us; for although we have hitherto reverenced thee only as a man, yet shall we henceforth own thee as superior to mortal nature.” Upon this the king neither rebuked them nor rejected their impious flattery. [5]


The same incident is recorded in Acts 12 …

On an appointed day Herod, having put on his royal apparel, took his seat on the rostrum and began delivering an address to them. 22 The people kept crying out, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” 23 And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died. ~ Acts 12: 21-23


  • Remember who else was eaten by worms on his death bed?


Agrippa I suffered the same type of death as his grandfather, Herod The Great.

But the Herod dynasty doesn’t end there. Next time I’ll tell you about the eighth and last Herod who ruled over Daniel’s people and his relationship to the prophecies in Daniel chapter 12.

You can read the whole Herod Dynasty series here.

Related notes:
How the Pharisees lost their inheritance

Why did the Old Covenant end?

*There were other Herods in the dynasty, but they never ruled over Daniel’s people.

  • Herod Philip I, father of Salome.
  • Herod Philip II (4 BC-AD 34), tetrarch of Ituraea and Trachonitis.
  • Herod of Chalcis, also known as Herod III, king of Chalcis (AD 41 – 48).


**There is a dating problem between Jerome’s Chronological Tables and Josephus’ account: Chronology of the Herods


[1] Herod’s Death

[2] Antiquities of the Jews — Book XVII

[3] Herod King of Judea Encyclopedia Britannica

[4] Babylonian Talmud

[5] Antiquities of the Jews — Book XVI

Image Credit: Herod the Great tries to commit suicide // The Hague, KB, 78 D 38 II National Library Of The Netherlands 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.