Herod Agrippa, also known as Herod II or Agrippa I (; 11 BC – AD 44), was a King of Judea from AD 41 to 44 and of Philip's tetrarchy from 39. He was the last ruler with the royal title reigning over Judea and the father of Herod Agrippa II, the last king from the Herodian dynasty. The grandson of Herod the Great and son of Aristobulus IV and Berenice, he is the king named Herod in the Acts of the Apostles : "Herod (Agrippa)" (). Agrippa's territory comprised most of Palestine, including Judea, Galilee, Batanaea, and Perea. From Galilee his territory extended east to Trachonitis.



He was born Marcus Julius Agrippa, so named in honour of Roman statesman Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. Josephus informs us that, after the execution of his father, young Agrippa was sent by his grandfather, Herod the Great, to the imperial court in Rome. There, Tiberius conceived a great affection for him and had him educated alongside his son Drusus, who also befriended him, and future emperor Claudius. On the death of Drusus, Agrippa, who had been recklessly extravagant and was deeply in debt, was obliged to leave Rome, fleeing to the fortress of Malatha in Idumaea. There, it was said, he contemplated suicide. After a brief seclusion, through the mediation of his wife Cypros and his sister Herodias, Agrippa was given a sum of money by his brother-in-law and uncle, Herodias' husband, Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, and was allowed to take up residence in Tiberias, and received the rank of aedile in that city, with a small yearly income. But after quarrelling with Antipas, he fled to Lucius Pomponius Flaccus, governor of Syria. Soon afterwards he was convicted, through information provided by his brother Aristobulus, of having received a bribe from the Damascenes, who wished to purchase his influence with the proconsul, and was again compelled to flee. As he was about to sail for Italy, he was arrested in connection with a debt which he owed to the treasury of Caesar, but made his escape, and reached Alexandria, where his wife succeeded in procuring a sum of money from Alexander the Alabarch. He then set sail, and landed at Puteoli. He was favourably received by Tiberius, who entrusted him with the education of his grandson Tiberius Gemellus. He also became friends with Caligula, then a popular favourite. However, one day he was overheard by his freedman Eutyches expressing a wish for Tiberius's death and the advancement of Caligula, and for this he was cast into prison.

Caligula and Claudius

Following Tiberius' death and the ascension of Agrippa's friend Caligula in AD 37, Agrippa was set free and made king of the territories of Gaulanitis (the Golan Heights), Auranitis, Batanaea, and Trachonitis, which his uncle Philip the Tetrarch had held, with the addition of Abila. Agrippa was also awarded the ''ornamenta praetoria'' and could use the title ''amicus Caesaris'' ("friend of Caesar"). Caligula also presented him with a gold chain equal in weight to the iron one he had worn in prison, which Agrippa dedicated to the Temple of Jerusalem on his return to his ancestral homeland. In AD 39, Agrippa returned to Rome, and arranged for the banishment of his uncle, Herod Antipas. He was then granted his uncle's tetrarchy, consisting of Galilee and Peraea. This created a Jewish kingdom, however one which did not include Judea at its centre.Schwartz, Daniel R. ''Agrippa I'' Mohr 1990 After the assassination of Caligula in AD 41, Agrippa was involved in the struggle over the accession between Claudius, the Praetorian Guard, and the Senate. How big a part Agrippa played is uncertain; the various sources differ. Cassius Dio simply writes that Agrippa cooperated with Claudius in his seeking to rule. Flavius Josephus gives us two versions. In ''The Jewish War'', Agrippa is presented as only a messenger to a confident and energetic Claudius. But in ''The Antiquities of the Jews'', Agrippa's role is central and crucial: he convinces Claudius to stand up to the Senate and convinces the Senate to avoid attacking Claudius. After becoming Emperor, Claudius gave Agrippa dominion over Judea and Samaria and granted him the ''ornamenta consularia'', and, at his request, gave the kingdom of Chalcis in Lebanon to Agrippa's brother Herod of Chalcis. Thus Agrippa became one of the most powerful kings of the east. His domain more or less equalled that which had been held by his grandfather Herod the Great. In the city of Berytus, Agrippa built a theatre and amphitheatre, baths and porticoes. He was equally generous in Sebaste, Heliopolis and Caesarea. Agrippa began the building of the third and outer wall of Jerusalem, but Claudius was not thrilled with the prospect of a strongly fortified Jerusalem, and he prevented him from completing the fortifications. Agrippa's friendship was courted by many of the neighbouring kings and rulers, some of whom he housed in Tiberias, which also caused Claudius some displeasure.

Reign and death

285px|Map of Herod Agrippa's realm at its peak Agrippa governed Judea to the satisfaction of the Jews. His zeal, private and public, for Judaism is recorded by Josephus, Philo of Alexandria, and the rabbis. Perhaps because of this, his passage through Alexandria in AD 38 instigated anti-Jewish riots. At the risk of his own life, or at least of his liberty, he interceded with Caligula on behalf of the Jews, when that emperor was attempting to set up his statue in the Temple at Jerusalem shortly before his death in AD 41. Agrippa's efforts bore fruit and he persuaded Caligula to temporarily rescind his order, thus preventing the Temple's desecration. However, Philo of Alexandria recounts that Caligula issued a second order to have his statue erected in the Temple, which was only prevented by Caligula's death. The ''Acts of the Apostles'', chapter 12 (), where Herod Agrippa is called "King Herod", reports that he persecuted the Jerusalem church, having James son of Zebedee killed and imprisoning Peter around the time of a Passover. Blastus is mentioned in ''Acts'' as Herod's chamberlain (). After Passover in AD 44, Agrippa went to Caesarea, where he had games performed in honour of Claudius. In the midst of his speech to the public a cry went out that he was a god, and Agrippa did not publicly react. At this time he saw an owl perched over his head. During his imprisonment by Tiberius a similar omen had been interpreted as portending his speedy release and future kingship, with the warning that should he behold the same sight again, he would die. He was immediately smitten with violent pains, scolded his friends for flattering him and accepted his imminent death. He experienced heart pains and a pain in his abdomen, and died after five days. Josephus then relates how Agrippa's brother, Herod of Chalcis, and Helcias sent Aristo to kill Silas. ''Acts'' 12 gives a similar account of Agrippa's death, adding that "an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms": The ''Jewish Encyclopedia'' speculated that Agrippa's "sudden death at the games in Cæsarea, 44, must be considered as a stroke of Roman politics." Josephus gave Agrippa a positive legacy and related that he was known in his time as "Agrippa the Great". The Talmud also has a positive view of his reign: The Mishnah explained how the Jews of the Second Temple era interpreted the requirement of that the king read the Torah to the people. At the conclusion of the first day of Sukkot immediately after the conclusion of the seventh year in the cycle, they erected a wooden dais in the Temple court, upon which the king sat. The synagogue attendant took a Torah scroll and handed it to the synagogue president, who handed it to the High Priest's deputy, who handed it to the High Priest, who handed it to the king. The king stood and received it, and then read sitting. King Agrippa stood and received it and read standing, and the sages praised him for doing so. When Agrippa reached the commandment of 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!” The king would read from up through the shema (), and then the portion regarding tithes (), the portion of the king (), and the blessings and curses (). The king would recite the same blessings as the High Priest, except that the king would substitute a blessing for the festivals instead of one for the forgiveness of sin.
Mishnah Sotah 7:8
In a 2013 conference, Professor Gabriel Barkay suggested that the so-called Tomb of Absalom (of the 1st century C.E.) is in fact that it could be the tomb of Herod Agrippa, the grandson of Herod the Great, based in part on the similarity to Herod's newly discovered tomb at Herodium.


By his wife Cypros he had two sons and three daughters. They were: *Herod Agrippa II . AD 27/28?-d. 93?became the eighth and final ruler from the Herodian family, but without any control of Judea. He supported Roman Rule and died childless. *Berenice . AD 28-after 81 who first married Marcus Julius Alexander, son of Alexander the Alabarch around AD 41. After Marcus Julius died D 44 she married her uncle Herod, king of Chalcis by whom she had two sons, Berenicianus and Hyrcanus.Josephus, ''Antiquities of the Jews'' XX.5.2 She later lived with her brother Agrippa II, reputedly in an incestuous relationship. Finally, she married Polemon II, king of Cilicia as alluded to by Juvenal. Berenice also had a common law relationship with the Roman emperor Titus.Similar to her brother Herod Agrippa II, she supported Roman Rule. *Drusus .?-d.?ccording to Josephus, there was also a younger brother called Drusus, who died before his teens.Josephus, ''Antiquities of the Jews'' XVIII.5.4 *Mariamne . 34/35- who married Julius Archelaus, son of Chelcias AD 49/50; they had a daughter Berenice (daughter of Mariamne) . AD 50who lived with her mother in Alexandria, Egypt after her parents' divorce. Around AD 65 Mariamne left her husband and married Demetrius of Alexandria who was its Alabarch and had a son from him named Agrippinus. *Drusilla D 38–79 who married first to Gaius Julius Azizus, King of Emesa and then to Antonius Felix, the procurator of Judaea. Drusilla and her son Marcus Antonius Agrippa died in Pompeii during the eruption of Vesuvius. A daughter, Antonia Clementiana, became a grandmother to a Lucius Anneius Domitius Proculus. Two possible descendants from this marriage are Marcus Antonius Fronto Salvianus (a quaestor) and his son Marcus Antonius Felix Magnus, a high priest in 225.

Family tree

Agrippa in other media

* Herod Agrippa is the protagonist of the Italian opera ''L’Agrippa tetrarca di Gerusalemme'' (1724) by Giuseppe Maria Buini (mus.) and Claudio Nicola Stampa (libr.), first performed at the Teatro Ducale of Milan, Italy, on August 28, 1724.G. Boccaccini, Portraits of Middle Judaism in Scholarship and Arts (Turin: Zamorani, 1992). * Herod Agrippa is a major figure in Robert Graves' novel ''Claudius the God'', as well as the BBC television adaptation ''I, Claudius'', wherein he was portrayed by James Faulkner as an adult and Michael Clements as a child. He is depicted as one of Claudius's closest lifelong friends. Herod acts as Claudius's last and most trustworthy friend and advisor, giving him the key advice to trust no one, not even him. This advice proves prophetic at the end of Herod's life, where he is depicted as coming to believe that he is a prophesied Messiah and raising a rebellion against Rome, to Claudius's dismay. However, he is struck down by a possibly supernatural illness and sends a final letter to Claudius asking for forgiveness.

See also

*Herodian dynasty *Herodian kingdom *List of biblical figures identified in extra-biblical sources *List of Hasmonean and Herodian rulers



* * * Yohanan Aharoni & Michael Avi-Yonah, "The MacMillan Bible Atlas", Revised Edition, p. 156 (1968 & 1977, by Carta Ltd.).

External links

Agrippa I
article in historical sourcebook by Mahlon H. Smith

|- |- {{Authority control Category:People in Acts of the Apostles Category:Herodian dynasty Herod Agrippa, Marcus Category:Roman-era Jews Category:11 BC births Category:44 deaths Category:Roman client rulers Category:1st-century monarchs in the Middle East Category:1st-century Romans Category:1st-century Roman governors of Judea Category:1st-century Herodian rulers Category:Judean people Category:Judea (Roman province) Category:Deaths onstage Category:1st-century BCE Jews Category:1st-century Jews