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Meaning and etymology of the name Herod




Herod Herod


Herod is the family name of a dynasty of rulers that governed Judea during the time of Christ. There were quite a few of them, but in the Bible we only hear from the following:

(1) Herod the Great, who received the eastern magicians looking for Jesus and who had the infants of Bethlehem killed (Matthew 2:1, Luke 3:1).
(2) Archelaus, son and brief successor of Herod the Great (Matthew 2:22).
(3) Aristobulus, son of Herod the Great, who may or may not be the same as the Aristobulus mentioned in Romans 16:10.
(4) Herod Philip, son of Herod the Great and Cleopatra of Jerusalem (Luke 3:1). This Philip married Salome.
(5) Another Herod Philip, also a son of Herod the Great, but this one was disinherited. This Philip is the father of Salome but her mother divorces him and moves in with Philip's brother Herod Antipas (Matthew 14:3).
(6) Herodias, granddaughter of Herod the Great through his son Aristobulus, first married to her uncle Philip, then to his brother Herod Antipas. Her daughter's name is Salome (Matthew 14:3) and her grandchildren are Bernice (Acts 25:13), Drusilla (Acts 24:24) and Agrippa II (Acts 26:13).
(7) Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great. During one of his parties, his stepdaughter Salome entices him to execute John the Baptist (Matthew 14:1).
(8) Herod Agrippa I, Herod the Great's grandson through Aristobulus and full brother of Herodias. Agrippa I has James executed (Acts 12:2) and Peter arrested. Agrippa himself is slain by an angel of the Lord (12:23).
(9) Herod Agrippa II, son of Agrippa I. He hears Paul in the company of Bernice and Festus (Acts 26:13).

None of the reliable sources has anything to say about the etymology of the name Herod, so it's safe to say that no consensus about it exists in academic circles. But that also means that folklore can have an unrestrained go at it. Some propose that the name Herod is a contraction of the words heros (heros), meaning hero or warrior, and Herod (oides), meaning ode. That would render the name Herod the meaning of Hero's Ode, independently of whether the original designer of that name had that meaning in mind.

However, the Herod family originated in Idhumea, which is the Greek and Latin transliteration of the original name Edom. That means that the Herodians weren't Jews or even Israelites, but descendants of Esau, the brother of Israel's patriarch Jacob.

The territory of Edom was to the south-east of Israel, close to the Negev dessert. A large town a bit to the west of Edom is named Arad. In Hebrew this name is spelled Arad and the Septuagint translates this with Arad. However, there's also a personal name Er (Er - Genesis 38:7), which in Hebrew is identical to the first two letters of the name Arad (Arad). This name is transliterated by the Septuagint as Er and it occurs in Luke 3:28 in the same spelling. Note that this name in Greek is spelled identical to the first two letters of Herod, indicative of a possible kinship between the name Herod and the Semitic root Arad.

Apart from being the name Arad, the word Arad does not occur in the Hebrew bible. But in Chaldean it means Wild Ass. The cognate Arabic verb means to flee, and the Syrian Ethiopian cognate means to be untamed. The names Arad and Herod may even be related to the Hebrew verb rud (rud) meaning to wander or roam (Genesis 27:40, Hosea 12:1).

As long as we're guessing, here at Abarim Publications, we're guessing that the name Herod originally meant Freedom.

Related names are Herodias and Herodion.

Other possible related names are Arad, Arod(i), Ard, Ardon, Arvad(ite), Aridai and Aridatha.






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