Antipas the Tetrarch

Herod Antipas ruled from 4 B.C.-39 A.D. He was the son of Herod and Malthace ( a Samaritan) born 20 B.C. and the younger brother of Archelaus.

Of all the Herodians, Herod Antipas is the most prominent in the New Testament, for he was the tetrarch over Galilee and Perea, the two areas in which John the Baptist and Christ did most of their ministry.

When Antipas returned from Rome to begin his rule in the domains allotted to him by Augustus Caesar, he found much of his new territories in ruin because of the rebellion at the feast of Pentecost in 4 B.C. He had to restore order and rebuild what had been destroyed.

His father Herod the Great was one of the greatest builders of the ancient world and he had also founded cities. Antipas desired to follow in his fathers footsteps. He began by rebuilding Sepphoris which was the largest city in Galilee and his capital city until he built Tiberias. He probably completed the task around 10 A.D. and it is very possible that Joseph, Mary's husband, ran his trade as a carpenter (Matt 13:55; Mark 6:3) during its rebuilding, since Nazareth was only four miles to the south/southwest of Sepphoris.

Antipas then rebuilt the second major city called Livias (or Julias) of Perea in honor of Livia, the wife of Augustus. Antipas completed this city in 13 A.D.

Out of the 12 cities that the Herodian family had built, Tiberias should be considered as one of the most important. It was the first city in Jewish history to be founded within the municipal framework of a Greek polls. It was built in honor of the reigning Emperor Tiberius.

It is important to note that while they were building the city of Tiberias they struck upon a cemetery. Antipas destroyed the cemetery and because of that the Jewish authorities considered it unclean and Antipas had difficulty in getting any Jews to settle there let alone the devout Jews. He offered free houses and lands and exemption from taxes for the first few years if anyone moved into the new city. It was completed 23 A.D. and became Antipas' capital.