Herod's Family Tree: Lies, Power, and Incest

Updated: Aug 3, 2021

Did you know that the biblical Herod and Herodias were close relatives? I didn't. (You'd think their names would have tipped me off!)

It's only in the last hundred years or so that marrying your cousin has become a societal taboo and a genetic concern. In the Bible you could have a marriage between first cousins, but not between aunts and nephews or uncles and nieces. (Leviticus 18:10)

Though few people today choose marriage within the family, back in the day there were some royal perks to marrying within the bloodline. The family of Herod the Great, like many family dynasties, married to consolidate power and wealth, and they weren't shy in choosing unions between blood relatives—even marriages that were against the laws of the people they were ruling.

Add to this crazy menagerie of marriages a dash of murder, a sprinkling of deceit, and a whole lot of jealousy, and you truly have the makings of a first-century soap opera.

Read on to learn about 25 members of the Herodian Family and their insatiable thirst for power!

The Confusion Around Herod's Family Tree

Trying to explain the intertwining of the Herodian marriages without a chart is nearly impossible, so please refer to the included family tree throughout this post, or print off a PDF. (Click the link below the graphic to download a PDF file!)

I filled this family tree in as well as I could, but I acknowledge there are a few gaps. Marriages between family members are signified with different colored hearts. I was shocked when I began to run out of colors!

Herod's family tree beginning with Antipater the Idumean, showing marriages between relations
Herodian Family Tree with Marriages

Herodian Family Tree with Marriages
Download PDF • 36KB

Admittedly, there are some difficulties in recreating Herod's family tree

  • You can find a lengthy record of this family in the writings of Josephus, but historians sometimes debate his accuracy when comparing him to other ancient historians.

  • There are a lot of repeat names in this family! That alone is confusing for both historians and casual inquirers.

  • Sometimes names are absent, or only part of name is used, or people on one list are left off another.