Herod Agrippa I

Herod Agrippa I
10? B.C.-A.D. 44; king of Judea (37-44); grandson of Herod (the Great)

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orig. Marcus Julius Agrippa

born с 10 BC
died AD 44

King of Judaea (AD 41–44).

Grandson of Herod the Great and nephew of Herod Antipas, he became friends in Rome with the emperor Tiberius and Caligula. Caligula made him king of his uncle's realm in northeastern Palestine and of Galilee, and after Caligula's death Herod's support of Claudius earned him the kingdom of Judaea, where he won the support of the Jews and repressed Jewish Christians. He built public buildings in Beirut and hosted games at Caesarea to honour Claudius. He died suddenly during the games.

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▪ king of Judaea
original name  Marcus Julius Agrippa  
born c. 10 BC
died AD 44

      king of Judaea (AD 41–44), a clever diplomat who through his friendship with the Roman imperial family obtained the kingdom of his grandfather, Herod I the Great. He displayed great acumen in conciliating the Romans and Jews.

      When Antipater, the son of Herod and the father of Agrippa, was executed by the suspicious Herod, Agrippa was sent to Rome for education and safety. There he grew up in company with the emperor Tiberius's son Drusus. After his mother's death he quickly spent his family's wealth and acquired serious debts. When Drusus died in AD 23, Agrippa left Rome, settling near Beersheba, in Palestine. An appeal to his uncle Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee, won him a minor official post but he soon vacated it.

      In 36, having raised a sizable loan in Alexandria, Agrippa returned to Rome, where the emperor Tiberius received him but refused to allow him to stay at the court until his debt was paid. A new loan covered the obligation, and he secured a post as tutor to Tiberius's grandson. Agrippa also became a friend of Caligula, Tiberius's heir. An intemperate remark about Tiberius, overheard by a servant, landed Agrippa in prison, but Caligula remained his friend. Within a year Tiberius was dead, and Agrippa's fortunes were reversed.

      In 37 Caligula made him king of the former realm of his uncle Philip the Tetrarch and of an adjoining region. Antipas attempted to stop his rise by denouncing him to Caligula; Agrippa made counteraccusations. The confrontation before Caligula ended with Antipas's banishment, and Agrippa acquired his territory as well. About 41, Agrippa, on the advice of the governor of Syria, dissuaded Caligula from introducing emperor worship at Jerusalem. Later, Caligula decided to restore Agrippa to his grandfather's throne but was assassinated before he could effect this plan (41). In the delicate question of the imperial succession, Agrippa supported Claudius, who emerged successful and added Judaea and Samaria to Agrippa's kingdom.

      In Judaea, Agrippa zealously pursued orthodox Jewish policies, earning the friendship of the Jews and vigorously repressing the Jewish Christians. According to the New Testament of the Bible (Acts of the Apostles, where he is called Herod), he imprisoned Peter the Apostle and executed James, son of Zebedee. Nonetheless, mindful of maintaining Roman friendship, he contributed public buildings to Beirut in Lebanon, struck coins in emulation of Rome, and in the spring of 44 was host at a spectacular series of games at Caesarea to honour Claudius. There he died, prematurely terminating the compromise he had striven to achieve between Roman authority and Jewish autonomy. Because his son was only 17 years old, Judaea once more returned to provincial status.

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Universalium. 2010.

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