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Herod Descendants who Ruled Israel: Part 4

Herod Agrippa II (Fourth Generation)


Herod Agrippa II (b.27- d.94-100 A.D.) never ruled Jerusalem. He was the son of Herod Agrippa I, and the seventh and last king of the Herodian dynasty. By inheritance and favor of the Romans he acquired a large kingdom north of Palestine. The Jews only came in contact with him because he supervised the temple and appointed the high priests. In the New Testament he is mentioned as having paid a visit to Festus, the procurator, at Caesarea, where Paul delivered a speech before him in 60 A.D.[1] His sister, Berenice became Emperor Titus’ mistress.[2] His sister Drusilla, married Roman procurator Felix,[3] and also heard Paul speak (Acts 24:24). Agrippa’s death marked the end of the Herodian dynasty.



Early life

Herod Agrippa II was educated in the court of Roman emperor Claudius. He was only seventeen when his father died. Claudius kept him in Rome, and sent Cuspius Fadus to govern the Roman province of Judea. While in Rome, he voiced support for the Jews to Claudius, and spoke against the Samaritans.

Rise in power

Herod of Chalcis died in 48 A.D., and his small Syrian kingdom was given to Herod Agrippa II in 50 A.D, along with the right of superintending the Jerusalem temple and appointing its high priest.[4] Chalcis was an independent town, halfway between Beirut and Damascus. Agrippa II later forfeited his rule over Chalcis, and in 53 A.D., Emperor Claudius appointed him king over the Syrian territories previously governed by his great uncle, Philip. This territory included Batanaea, Auranitis, Gaulanitis and Trachonitis in south Syria.[5] (See map below). Herod Agrippa II celebrated by marrying off two sisters Mariamne and Drusilla. Flavius Josephus recorded that Herod Agrippa lived in an incestuous relationship with his sister, Berenice.

Claudius appointed a powerful procurator in Samaria and Judaea, Marcus Antonius Felix, the brother of Claudius advisor, Pallas. Claudius made Felix higher in authority than Herod Agrippa, hoping to maintain this region firmly under Roman control. The young king rotated his residence between Jerusalem and Caesarea. Agrippa enlarged the royal palace and renovated the temple in Jerusalem. In Caesarea he met the Apostle Paul in 58 A.D., during his trial by Governor Festus. Jerusalem and Caesarea were also residences of Governor Festus. These two men likely cooperated closely. The Roman Emperor Nero added the cities of Tiberias and Taricheae in Galilee and Livias in Perea to Agrippa’s territory in 54 A.D. Agrippa II enthusiastically collaborated with Rome and attempted to prevent conflicts with the Jews, but he failed miserably.

Herod Agrippa and the Jews

Between 52 and 60 A.D., he arbitrarily appointed several high priests, which angered the Jews. The Jews also hated him for adopting heathen emblems on his coins. Agrippa spent lavishly to beautify Jerusalem and Berytus (ancient Beirut). His partiality for Beirut rendered him unpopular with his Jewish subjects. He erected magnificent edifices in his capital, Cæsarea Philippi, which he adorned to flatter emperor Nero. He renamed it Neronias.[6] Agrippa completed the Jerusalem temple in 63 A.D. Unemployed artisans were unhappy thereafter. In addition, Roman taxation impoverished the working class of Judaea and a food shortage occurred.

In 65 – 66 A.D., the situation escalated, when Agrippa was visiting Alexandria, Egypt. Jews were killed in a riot over taxation, and the new Roman governor Gessius Florus crucified many Jews, including innocent bystanders. Agrippa’s sister, Berenice, witnessed the atrocities, but could not prevent them. Agrippa returned and delivered a speech to support Florus, urging moderation. His counsel was rejected and the Zealots arose in rebellion.[7] Trouble threatened Agrippa’s kingdom. He sent troops to Jerusalem and the Zealots massacred them in the summer of 66 A.D. The Jews expelled him and Berenice from the city.[8] He barely escaped Jerusalem with his life. From that time, Agrippa stood firmly with the Romans. During the first Jewish/Roman war (66-73 A.D.) he sent 2,000 men, archers and cavalry, to support Vespasian. He accompanied Titus on several campaigns, and was wounded in the siege of Gamla.[9] General Vespasian arrived in Judaea in 67 A.D., and Agrippa aided Roman operations.

In June 68, the Roman attack slowed because the emperor Nero was assassinated, and a new emperor was chosen—Galba. Vespasian sent his son, Titus, to Rome to congratulate the new ruler. Herod Agrippa II and Berenice (now Titus’ lover) accompanied him. When they learned Galba had also been killed after a reign of only six months, Titus and Berenice returned to Palestine. Agrippa continued to Italy, where he witnessed the civil war.[10] He likely met the new emperors, Otho and Vitellius. He also must have been in Rome when Vespasian decided to rebel. He left Rome only when he heard Vespasian had been exalted to the imperial throne.[11]

Agrippa hastened home in the first weeks of A.D. 70. He arrived when Titus, who had succeeded his father as commander, attacked the city of Jerusalem. Agrippa surely witnessed the destruction of the temple he had personally renovated, and the slaughter of many thousands of innocent Jews.[12] The Romans spared his beautiful capital, Tiberias, to reward him for aiding them against his own people.

After Jerusalem was captured, Agrippa and his sister, Berenice, travelled to Rome. Vespasian was now the Emperor of Rome. Vespasian vested Agrippa II with the title, Praetor, and rewarded him additional territory in Syria—Arca, east of modern Tripoli.[13] This occurred in 75 A.D.[14]

Very little remained for a Jewish king to rule. The magnificent Herodian temple was destroyed. The Jews were either killed or deported in the great Diaspora. Agrippa’s realm was now located in Syria and few of his subjects were Jews.

Herod Agrippa continued to rule for about twenty-five years—until his death between 93-100 A.D. The Roman Empire incorporated his territories in 100 A.D. The Herodian dynasty was over—the wicked Herods were gone. Like the ruins of their magnificent architecture, they became mere artifacts of ancient history. Unfortunately, their legacy of murder, greed, and attacks on God’s people remain as enduring memories.

judea Death

According to Photius, Agrippa died, childless, at the age of seventy, in the third year of Trajan’s reign in A.D 100.[15] Statements of historian Josephus, and other contemporary sources date his death earlier. The modern scholarly consensus dates his death about 93/94 A.D.[16]

The Biblical Connection

The Apostle Paul pleaded his case at Caesarea Maritima before Herod Agrippa II and his sister Berenice, possibly in 59 A.D.[17] The Roman procurator, Festus, was also present. Paul presented his salvation testimony. He also gave an impassioned plea for his audience to consider the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Herod Agrippa II mocked Paul for trying to make him a Christian,[18] but he rejected his personal need for salvation. He, like his family preceding him, will endure a much more ominous trial. The judge of their trial will be the Lord God almighty. The Herods will have no hope against God’s Divine judgment. The blood of Jesus Christ has never been applied to atone for their sins. Herod Agrippa II will face God’s eternal judgment with a guilty verdict.




[1] Acts 25:13-26;32.

[2] Josephus. Antiquities of the Jews. xx. 7, § 3; Juvenal, “Satires,” vi. 153

  • [3] Mason, Charles Peter (1870). “Agrippa, Herodes II”. In Smith, William. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology 1. P.78.

[4] “Agrippa II”. Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901–1906. “B. J.” ii. 12, § 1;

Josephus. Antiquities of the Jews. 20. 5, § 2; 9, § 7

[5] Josephus. Antiquities of the Jews. 20. 7, § 1; “B. J.” ii. 12, § 8.

[6] Josephus. Antiquities of the Jews. 20. 9, § 4.

[7] “B. J.” ii. 16, §§ 4, 5.

  • [8] Rajak, Tessa (1996), “Iulius Agrippa II, Marcus”, in Hornblower, Simon. Oxford Classical Dictionary, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[9] ibid

[10] “B. J.” iv. 9, § 2

[11] Tacitus, “Hist.” ii. 81.

[12] Tacitus, “Hist.” v. 1

[13] Photius, “Bibliotheca,” cod. 33.

[14] Dio Cassius, lxvi. 15.

[15] Photius cod. 33.

[16] Rajak, Tessa (1996), “Iulius Agrippa II, Marcus”, in Hornblower, Simon. Oxford Classical Dictionary, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[17] Acts 25:13; 26:32.

[18] Acts 26: 26-29

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