Jesus Christ was the king of the Jews, but he wasn’t the only person of his day to have that title.
In fact, according to the Romans, the legitimate king of the Jews was Herod the Great. This Herod was on the throne when Jesus was born, and he tried to kill Jesus as an infant, but he is not the only Herod in the Bible. We continue to read about Herod’s descendants in the Gospels and in Acts.
Who were these people, and what do we know about them?
This is the story of the Herods—Judaea’s outrageous ruling family.
Herod the Great’s ancestors were not Jews. They were from Idumea, or Edom, as it is called in the Old Testament. This is a land south of the Dead Sea, whose inhabitants were reckoned as descendants of Jacob’s brother, Esau (cf. Gen. 25:19-34).
A little before 100 B.C., the Maccabean leader John Hyrcanus conquered Idumea and forced the inhabitants to be circumcised and convert to Judaism if they wanted to stay in their land…