The occupying Roman authorities appointed a family line of murderous and deceitful rulers who administered the Jewish nation through four generations from about 40 BC to 100 AD. Israel was divided into four political districts (with several smaller territories): Judah to the south, Samaria in the middle, Galilee to the north, Idumea to the east.
This ancestral line of rulers included:
1/. Herod the Great. He was granted the title ‘King of the Jews’ by Rome yet neither the title nor he were accepted by the Jews, for he was in fact only part Jew. He ruled over the four political districts from Jerusalem, from 37 BC until his death soon after the birth of Christ. During his reign he tried to pacify the Jews by rebuilding the Temple; he had several of his family members killed; then all the Jewish boys around Bethlehem were killed in an attempt to destroy Jesus who was the newborn King of the Jews (Mt 2:2-18). Prior to his death he made provision for three of his sons to rule over individual regions that he had collectively ruled.
2/. Following the death of Herod the Great three of his sons ruled in the place of their father (Mt 2:22). Archelaus (Herod the Ethnarch) ruled Judea and Samaria. In 6 AD he was deposed and banished after his repressive rule and in his place the Roman governmental representatives administered the area – these included Pontius Pilate who delivered Jesus to be crucified after his trial. Antipas (Herod the Tetrarch) ruled Galilee until 39 AD (Lk 3:19). Under pressure from his wife, Herodias, he had John the Baptist imprisoned and later executed (Mk 6:14-28). Christ called him “that fox” and he participated in Pilate’s trial of Christ (Lk 13:31,32, 23:7-12). His nephew Agrippa deposed him. Philip was the ruler in the northeast territories (Lk 3:1).
3/. Herod the King (also called Agrippa). He was a son of Aristobulus, another son of Herod the Great. He persecuted the Christians and had James the apostle killed (Act 12:1-5). It was after delivering a speech to the people that they declared this was “the voice of God and not of man”. He accepted the praises of men rather than acknowledging and giving the glory to God. Punishment for pride, in this case, was swift and he was eaten alive by maggots and died (Act 12:21-23).
4/. Agrippa the 2nd (Son of Agrippa 1). He was the last of the Herod dynasty that managed the Jews’ affairs by appointment of the Roman authorities. It was during his reign that the Jews rebelled against Rome in 66 AD. He was present at Paul’s trial, where he was challenged along with all those present by the gospel message (Act 25:13-26:32).