King Agrippa II

By Mary Jane Chaignot

Categories: New Testament Kings

  • Agrippa II was born in either 27 or 28 CE. He was the son of Agrippa I, who was the son of Aristobulus, who was the son of Herod the Great.
  • His original name was Marcus Julius Agrippa. He was the seventh and last "king" of the Herodian dynasty. He was also known as Herod Agrippa II.
  • He was only 17 when his father died. At the time, he was in Rome, where he was being educated. Like his father, he lived excessively at court. When his father died, the Emperor Claudius felt he was too young to govern, so his father's territory once again became a Roman province.
  • During that time, Agrippa was a supportive voice in the Roman court on Jewish matters.
  • When his uncle, Herod II of Chalcis, died in 48, Agrippa was given his territory along with oversight over the Temple and High Priest.
  • A few years later, he was given the territory of his uncles, Philip and Lysanias, to which Nero would later add parts of Galilee and Perea in 55 CE.
  • It was probably at this point that he assumed the title "king." • While fulfilling his expanded role, he began to alienate most of his subjects by spending most of his time on building programs.
  • He paid particular attention to Caesarea Philippi, his capital. He erected many beautiful and magnificent structures there, and called the city Neronias as a tribute to (some say, to flatter) Nero.
  • He loved his life and cared little for the welfare of his people, nor did he try to secure their independence from Rome.
  • When the temple was completed, a lot of artisans became unemployed. That, plus excessive taxation by the Romans, led to serious unrest among the people.
  • In 65-66 CE the Roman governor put down a small revolt; several people were crucified and many were killed.
  • When Agrippa came back from a trip abroad, the Jews were in the midst of their struggle for independence. Agrippa tried to talk them out of it – and spoke with great eloquence.
  • At the beginning of the Jewish war in 66 CE, he barely escaped out of Jerusalem. The Jews threw both him and his sister, Berenice, out of the city.
  • From then on, during the Jewish-Roman war of 66-73, Agrippa definitely supported the Roman position, celebrating their victories with drunken parties that sometimes lasted for weeks.
  • The war slowed down in 68 CE, when Nero died. That led to the year of four emperors and much uncertainty.
  • After being wounded during the war, Agrippa retired to Rome with his sister and was given additional territories.
  • Though he occasionally followed tradition (for example, requiring his sister's suitors be circumcised), he mostly disregarded anything religious. His arbitrariness over appointing the High Priest was a constant source of irritation, as was his policy of stamping coins with pagan symbols.
  • In addition to the questions surrounding his Judaism, Agrippa was rumored to be having an incestuous relationship with his sister, Berenice. • He also had two other sisters, Marianne and Drusilla, but they were married and lived elsewhere.
  • Most of what we know about Agrippa comes from Josephus, who was one of his close friends.
  • Jospehus lived in both Jerusalem and Caesarea, where he met Paul in 58 or 59.
  • Paul pleaded his case before Agrippa in Caesarea Maritima in 59 CE.
  • Paul told him about God's promise of deliverance and salvation which was why he was on trial at that time.
  • •Paul told him his whole life story: he had persecuted Christians, had an encounter with the Lord, went to the Jews first, but then worked with Gentiles the rest of his life. He had taught many to repent and turn to God.
  • This was all backed up with Old Testament references and stories about Moses and the prophets.
  • Agrippa replied, "You almost persuade me to become a Christian." (NIV –Acts 26:28)
  • Converted or not, Agrippa and Berenice rose up and said, "This man is doing nothing to deserve death or imprisonment." Agrippa added that Paul could have been set free if he had not appealed to the emperor.
  • After the destruction of the Temple in 70, Agrippa ruled for another 25 years, but there wasn't much for him to do. He had no temple, the Jews had dispersed, and Rome had taken control of most of his territory.
  • He apparently died childless sometime in the 90s or perhaps in 100 CE.

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