Tetrarchy (Judea)
The Tetrarchy of Judea was formed following the death of Herod the Great
Herod the Great
Herod , also known as Herod the Great , was a Roman client king of Judea. His epithet of "the Great" is widely disputed as he is described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis." He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and elsewhere, including his...

 in 4 BCE, when his kingdom was divided between his sons as an inheritance. It was dissolved in 6 CE when Rome formed Iudaea province
Iudaea Province
Judaea or Iudaea are terms used by historians to refer to the Roman province that extended over parts of the former regions of the Hasmonean and Herodian kingdoms of Israel...

 by joining together Judea proper
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

 (biblical Judah
The name Judah can refer to:*Judah , fourth son of the Biblical patriarch Jacob All later individuals, groups and places of this name are directly or indirectly derived from this Judah....

), Samaria
Samaria, or the Shomron is a term used for a mountainous region roughly corresponding to the northern part of the West Bank.- Etymology :...

, and Idumea (biblical Edom
Edom or Idumea was a historical region of the Southern Levant located south of Judea and the Dead Sea. It is mentioned in biblical records as a 1st millennium BC Iron Age kingdom of Edom, and in classical antiquity the cognate name Idumea was used to refer to a smaller area in the same region...


The Tetrarchy

At the time of his death Herod ruled over most of the South Western Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

, as a client-state of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

; after his death the kingdom was divided between three of his sons.
  • Archelaus
    Herod Archelaus
    Herod Archelaus was the ethnarch of Samaria, Judea, and Idumea from 4 BC to 6 AD. He was the son of Herod the Great and Malthace the Samaritan, the brother of Herod Antipas, and the half-brother of Herod Philip I....

    , his son by his fourth wife Malthace
    Malthace was a Samaritan woman who lived in the latter half of the 1st century BC. She was one of the wives of Herod the Great and the mother by Herod of Herod Antipas, Archelaus and a daughter Olympias....

     the Samaritan, received the lion's share of the kingdom; Idumaea, Judea
    Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

     and Samaria
    Samaria, or the Shomron is a term used for a mountainous region roughly corresponding to the northern part of the West Bank.- Etymology :...

    , and the title of Ethnarch
    Ethnarch, pronounced , the anglicized form of ethnarches refers generally to political leadership over a common ethnic group or homogeneous kingdom. The word is derived from the Greek words and ....

     ("ruler of the people"; in this case, the Jews, Samaritans, and Idumeans).
  • Herod Antipas
    Herod Antipas
    Herod Antipater , known by the nickname Antipas, was a 1st-century AD ruler of Galilee and Perea, who bore the title of tetrarch...

    , Archelaus’ brother, became Tetrarch of Galilee
    Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

     and Perea.
  • Philip, Herod’s son by his fifth wife Cleopatra of Jerusalem
    Cleopatra of Jerusalem
    Cleopatra of Jerusalem was a woman who lived in the 1st century BC during the Roman Empire. She is remembered as one of the wives of King of Judea Herod the Great.There is a possibility that Cleopatra could have been a daughter of a local noble from Jerusalem...

    , became Tetrarch of the northern part of Herod’s kingdom. Luke the evangelist lists Philip’s territories as Iturea
    Iturea is the Greek name of a region in the Levant during the Late Hellenistic and early Roman periods. It is mentioned only once in the Christian Bible, while in historical sources the name of the people, the Itureans , occurs...

     and Trachonitis
    Trachonitis was a region that once formed part of Herod Philip's tetrarchy. It now lies within the boundaries of modern Syria.It appears in the Bible only in the phrase tes Itouraias kai Trachbnitidos choras, literally, "of the Iturean and Trachonian region"...

    : Josephus
    Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

     gives his territories variously as Batanea, Gaulanitis, Trachonitis and Paneas ( Antiquities XVII, 8 : 1) and Batanea, Trachonitis, Auranitis, and "a certain part of what is called the House of Zenodorus
    Abilene (biblical)
    Abilene or simply Abila was a plain, a district in Coele-Syria, of which the chief town was Abila Lysaniou...

    " (Ant XVII , 11 : 4). A number of these names refer to the same places; they are all to be found now in modern-day Syria
    Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

     and Lebanon
    Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...


In a turbulent period of history, the rule of the tetrarchs was relatively uneventful. The most trouble fell to Archelaus, who was faced with sedition by the Pharisees
The Pharisees were at various times a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought among Jews during the Second Temple period beginning under the Hasmonean dynasty in the wake of...

 at the beginning of his reign, and crushed it with great severity. After ruling for 10 years he was removed by the emperor Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

 in 6 CE, following complaints about his cruelty and his offences against the Mosaic law. He was replaced by a Roman prefect
Prefect is a magisterial title of varying definition....

, and his territory re-organized as the Roman province of Iudaea.

Philip ruled Ituraea and Trachonitis until his death in 34 CE when he was succeeded as tetrarch by Herod Agrippa I, who had previously been ruler of Chalcis
Chalcis, Syria
Chalcis was an ancient city in Syria. Syrian Chalcis was the birthplace of 3rd century Neoplatonist philosopher Iamblichus.It is thought to be the site of the modern town of Qinnasrin, though Anjar in Lebanon has also been suggested as the site of ancient Chalcis....

. Agrippa surrendered Chalcis to his brother Herod
Herod of Chalcis
Herod of Chalcis , also known as Herod V, was a son of Aristobulus IV, and the grandson of Herod the Great, Roman client king of Judaea. He was the brother of Herod Agrippa I and Herodias....

 and ruled in Philip’s stead. On the death of Herod Antipas in 39 CE Herod Agrippa became ruler of Galilee also, and in 41 CE, as a mark of favour by the emperor Claudius
Claudius , was Roman Emperor from 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, he was the son of Drusus and Antonia Minor. He was born at Lugdunum in Gaul and was the first Roman Emperor to be born outside Italy...

, succeeded the Roman prefect Marullus as ruler of Iudaea. With this acquisition, a Herodian Kingdom of the Jews was nominally re-established till 44 CE though there is no indication that status as a province was suspended.

Three or four?

The word Tetrarch suggests four rulers (“ruler of a quarter “); however Josephus, in the context of describing Herod’s legacy, only mentions three. He refers to Archelaus, who had “one half of that which had been subject to Herod”, and for Philip and Antipas “the other half, divided into two parts”. (Antiquities XVII , 11 : 4) On the other hand, Luke the Evangelist
Luke the Evangelist
Luke the Evangelist was an Early Christian writer whom Church Fathers such as Jerome and Eusebius said was the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles...

 refers to Lysanias
Lysanias was the ruler of a small realm on the western slopes of Mount Hermon, attested to by the Jewish writer Josephus and in coins from circa 40 BC. There is also mention of a Lysanias dated to 29 AD in the gospel of Luke. It has been debated whether these are the same person.- Lysanias in...

, tetrarch of Abilene
Abilene (biblical)
Abilene or simply Abila was a plain, a district in Coele-Syria, of which the chief town was Abila Lysaniou...

, in his list of rulers at the time of John the Baptist
John the Baptist
John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical gospels. He is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus, who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River...

, alongside Pontius Pilate
Pontius Pilate
Pontius Pilatus , known in the English-speaking world as Pontius Pilate , was the fifth Prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, from AD 26–36. He is best known as the judge at Jesus' trial and the man who authorized the crucifixion of Jesus...

 (one of a series of Roman governors who replaced Archelaus), Herod (Antipas) and Philip (Luke 3 : 1). Josephus’ reference to one half the kingdom may signify two quarters, that Archelaus was ruler of two tetrarchies. This would suggest that division into quarters was already established, and that Lysanias’ quarter was part of a different tetrarchy in Syria; this is credible, as Herod III, brother of Herod Agrippa I, was tetrarch of Chalcis, which was to the north, outside Herod’s kingdom. Or it may be that Josephus, in describing the inheritances of Herod’s sons, omitted to mention Lysanias, or his predecessor, as they were not Herodians. The reference to “one half of the kingdom” could then be understood as a geographical, rather than a political observation; Archelaus’ share of the kingdom covered about half the territory, and more than half the revenue, owned by Herod. It is the view of W Smith, referring to Abilene
Abilene (biblical)
Abilene or simply Abila was a plain, a district in Coele-Syria, of which the chief town was Abila Lysaniou...

, that Abilene,or part of it, was subject to Herod before his death, and held by Lysanias as a tetrarchy from him. The territory was returned later to the Herodians, the first part by Caligula
Caligula , also known as Gaius, was Roman Emperor from 37 AD to 41 AD. Caligula was a member of the house of rulers conventionally known as the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Caligula's father Germanicus, the nephew and adopted son of Emperor Tiberius, was a very successful general and one of Rome's most...

 to Herod Agrippa I, the remainder by Claudius to Herod Agrippa II.

External links

  • Smith, William
    William Smith (lexicographer)
    Sir William Smith Kt. was a noted English lexicographer.-Early life:Born at Enfield in 1813 of Nonconformist parents, he was originally destined for a theological career, but instead was articled to a solicitor. In his spare time he taught himself classics, and when he entered University College...

     (editor); Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography
    Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography
    The Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, first published in 1854, was the last of a series of classical dictionaries edited by the English scholar William Smith , which included as sister works A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities and the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and...

    , "Abilene", London
    London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

    , (1854)
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