Q. King Herod appears throughout the Gospels and the Book of Acts, from Jesus’ nativity to St. Paul’s trial. How long did he reign?
A. The multiple mentions of Herod in Scripture actually refer to five related men by that name who reigned in succession. This Dynasty of Herod ruled over Judea for about a hundred years.
Herod I or Herod the Great (73–4 B.C.), who rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem, was the ruler who ordered the slaughter of the innocents after learning of Jesus’ birth (Matthew 2:16–18). Such an act was not out of character for him: On various occasions, he executed his second wife, her family, his brother-in-law, and three of his own sons. Since Jewish religious law forbade eating pork, Emperor Augustus once wryly remarked, “It is better to be Herod’s swine than his son.”