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Who Were the Herodians?

The Herodians were a political group in ancient Judea during the first century BC and the first century AD. They were known for their close relationship with the ruling Herodian dynasty, which was established by King Herod the Great. The Herodians were a powerful force in Judea, and they played a significant role in the political and religious landscape of the region.

The Herodian Dynasty

The Herodian dynasty was founded by King Herod the Great, who ruled Judea from 37 BC to 4 BC. Herod was appointed by the Roman Senate as the king of Judea, and he was known for his political savvy and his ability to maintain good relations with the Roman Empire. Herod was also known for his ambitious building projects, which included the construction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.

After Herod’s death, his kingdom was divided among his sons, who ruled various parts of the region. The Herodian dynasty continued to play a significant role in Judea until the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

The Herodians and the Romans

The Herodians were known for their close relationship with the Roman Empire. They were seen as collaborators with the Roman authorities, and they were often viewed with suspicion by the Jewish people. The Herodians were involved in the administration of Judea, and they worked closely with the Roman governors who ruled the region.

The relationship between the Herodians and the Romans was complex. On the one hand, the Herodians were dependent on Roman support to maintain their power and influence in Judea. On the other hand, the Herodians were also able to use their relationship with the Romans to gain concessions for the Jewish people, such as exemptions from certain taxes.

The Herodians and the Pharisees

The Herodians were opposed by the Pharisees, who were a Jewish religious group that advocated for strict adherence to Jewish law and tradition. The Pharisees saw the Herodians as corrupt and immoral, and they were critical of their close relationship with the Romans.

The Pharisees and the Herodians were often at odds with each other, particularly over issues related to Jewish law and tradition. The Pharisees believed that the Herodians were compromising their Jewish identity by working with the Romans, while the Herodians saw the Pharisees as inflexible and unwilling to adapt to the changing political realities of the region.

The Herodians and Jesus

The New Testament contains several references to the Herodians, particularly in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The Herodians are portrayed as working with the Pharisees to try to trap Jesus and discredit his teachings.

In one famous incident, the Herodians and the Pharisees ask Jesus whether it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, knowing that whatever answer he gives will be controversial. Jesus responds by asking to see a coin, and then famously says, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” This response is often interpreted as a call for Christians to respect secular authority while also remaining faithful to God.


The Herodians were an important political group in ancient Judea, and their close relationship with the ruling Herodian dynasty and the Roman Empire made them a powerful force in the region. However, their collaboration with the Romans also made them unpopular with many Jews, particularly the Pharisees. The Herodians played a significant role in the political and religious landscape of Judea, and their interactions with Jesus and the early Christians are an important part of the history of the region.


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