8. The Heirs of Herod the Great
The Dominions of the Herodian Tetrarchy (as from 4 BCE)
Showcase 8: The Dominions of the Herodian Tetrarchy (as from 4 BCE)

The three youngest sons of Herod the Great, Herod Archelaus, Herod Antipas, and Herod Philip, were born in Palestine between 27 and 25 BCE. At the ages of 12-13 they were sent to the imperial court in Rome for education (Flavius Josephus, Antiquitates Iudaicae 17,20‒21). Following the conclusion of their upbringing in Rome in 7 or 6 BCE, the three brothers were commanded to return to Palestine. Their older brothers had been executed by their father shortly before, following internal intrigues.

Herod the Great died in 4 BCE in Jericho and was buried in his fortress Herodium. Despite his ire against the members of his own family, he left behind three grown sons, of whom he during his last years named Archelaus and Antipas as heirs in various testaments. As Herod had only been given the kingdom from the Romans ad personam, his successors required confirmation by Emperor Augustus (27 BCE – 14 CE) (Fig. A.). Archelaus travelled to Rome, but his brother Antipas also sailed to Italy to present his own claims as heir. The priestly aristocracy likewise sent messengers with the assertion that instead of a sovereign, the theocracy of high priests should be reinstated. After hearing the rival claims, Augustus named Archelaus as ethnarch (“people’s prince”) of Judea, Samaria, and Edom, and Antipas as the lower-ranked tetrarch of Perea and Galilee. Their half-brother Philip was likewise given the title tetrarch and received the north-eastern areas of his father’s empire.