Tag Archives: Herod the Great

God’s People, part 126: Herodians

Read Mark 3:1-6

“Then they sent to him some Pharisees and some Herodians to trap him in what he said.”  (Mark 12:13, NRSV)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

www-St-Takla-org--008-The-priests-take-counsel-with-the-HerodiansPart 126: Herodians. One thing that I hope has been conveyed over the last several devotions is just how divided Israel was between the 1st century BCE and the 1st century CE. We have, so far, been introduced to the Seleucid Empire and the Jews who supported the Hellenization of Israel, the Hasmonean Dynasty, the conquest of Rome, the Sadducees, and the Pharisees. In this devotion we will be looking at yet another sect in a very fragmented and divided land.

The Herodians were a political group (made up of various subgroups of people) who supported the rule of Herod and wanted to see the monarchy restored back to his descendents. In order for us to have this make sense to you, we are going to need to jump ahead to Jesus’ time and look backward. The Herodians rose to prominence following King Herod’s death and were one of the many factions that existed during that time.

Following the death of King Herod, Rome divided up his kingdom between his three sons and his sister. Archelaus became ethnarch (or ruler of a specific ethnic group…e.g. the Jews) of the Tetrarchy of Judaea, Herod Antipater (nicknamed Antipas) became tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea, Philip became tetrarch of territories north and east of the Jordan River, and Herod’s sister Salome I (not to be confused with Antipas’ stepdaughter) was made the toparch (or regional governor) of the cities of Jabneh, Ashdod, Phasaelis.

A tetrarchy was a demotion for Herod’s sons. While Herod the Great was appointed King by the Romans and was sole ruler of Israel (answering only to Caesar), the Romans decided they wanted more control over that strategic region. Thus, when Herod died, they divided Israel up into four regions and appointed Herod’s sons as tetrarchs (or governors) of those regions. They were governors, but they were NOT kings. The tetrarchs fell under the command and leadership of the appointed governor of the newly formed province of Judaea (which was made up of the four regions that the tetrarchs governed).

The Herodians were a group who were supporters of the Herodian dynasty and advocated for the restoration of the Herodian monarchy. Like the Pharisees the Herodians wanted to see their people achieve political independence; however, unlike the Pharisees, they believed that the Hellenized Herodian dynasty was the way to go. They wanted to see one of Herod’s sons, such as Herod Antipas, take the throne as king.

Jesus of Nazareth, of course, was challenging the authority of the political elites and performing many miracles. Many saw him as possible being the anticipated king of the Jews who would liberate Judaea from foreign rulers. We also know that Jesus did, in fact, claim that title for himself. This would have set him odds with the Herodians who supported the Herodian Dynasty.

This should challenge us because, with the Herodians, we can see how political ideologies can over take where we ought to be spiritually. People often let their political worldviews and agendas block them from truly following the One who is Lord of all and Savior of the world. Let us reflect on how we have let our politics grow into idols that they get the very best of us, separating us from God.

If we place all of our hope and faith in human rulers, we will get human results; however, if we place all our hope and faith in God, the results will be divine.

Lord, steer me from making an idol of my political worldview. You, Christ, are all that matters. Amen.

No More Mr. Mean Guy

Read Micah 6:1-8; Matthew 21:33-43


“Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

No More Mr. Mean GuyOn this past Sunday Night, my family and I watched the Nativity Story, which is a movie that details the story of Mary and Joseph and the birth of Jesus.  There is one scene in the film that shows King Herod in the Temple in Jerusalem.  He walks up to the the place where the sacrifices are being made and lays his hands on the horns of a bull, pressing his head up against the head of the bull.  There a prayer is offered by the high priest, a prayer that supposedly transfers the guilt and sin of the King on to the bull.  The bull has become the beast of burden. In other words, the bull takes on the burden of the Kings sins, which if you know anything about King Herod, those sins are many!  The bull then faces certain death and has its throat slit, spilling its blood all over the place.

This act of sacrifice, of transferring sin from the sinner to an innocent subject in order to appease an angry, wrathful God seems to be far from us. Or is it? Why is it that we say Jesus HAD to die for our sins? Why is it that Jesus is called the LAMB of God?  What is it that we say Jesus did for us…that he took our sins and paid the price we deserve to pay…doesn’t that sound an awful lot like the same thing the bull did, only this time Jesus is the bull?

Religions the millenia over have sought to find ways to appease God, or the gods (depending on the religion), hoping to repay God for the sins that they have committed.  Does God really demand blood? Does God really demand our death for retribution? Or is this an image of ourselves that we project on God?  Does God demand blood, or is it us who demand blood? And what does this have to do with Jesus birth? After all, we aren’t in the season of Lent yet, are we?

While there are different scriptures throughout the Bible that will certainly justify the idea that God demands sacrifice to appease God’s anger at our wickedness, there are also scriptures that point us to an entirely different image of God.  Today’s reading is such a passage.  Rather than appeasing God with blood, God is asking us to appease him with a change of hearts.  Rather than seeking the easy way out of our sins only to commit them over and over again, God is asking us to change…to truly change…and to walk humbly with God in the process.

While we often see Jesus as the easy way out of our sins, as a way for us to transfer what we’ve done in order that we might be “saved”, Jesus seems to have had a different understanding of his purpose. According to his parable of the wicked tenants, Jesus came, with the authority of God, to show people what God truly wanted; however, rather than listen to what Jesus said, people rejected him and crucified him. It was sin that put Jesus on the cross indeed, yet the story does not end there. Jesus resurrects and gives us the opportunity to die to our sins and join him. How do we do that? But doing justice,loving mercy and walking humbly with our God.

The birth of the Christ-child, the birth of Immanuel, the revelation of God being with us shows us that God is not seeking retribution but rather union with us. God is not seeking to punish us, but to commend us to his love and mercy. All we need to do is to “fear not” and see that God has come to us. We don’t have to search any further for God than our own hearts. Listen to what the words of the spirit are telling you, “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me” (Revelation 3:20). Amen! Come Lord Jesus!


Jesus died because of our sins, and yet Jesus lives despite our sins. In Christ Jesus, sin and death have been conquered. Welcome to life as God truly intended it, all you have to do is claim it, live it, and share it!


Lord, lead me to your eternal life and, through me, lead others. Amen.