Biblical People

Biblical People: King Herod

After the birth of Jesus, King Herod’s in a tizzy. Here’s why.

Visitors from the Far East, magi, have shown up unannounced. They’re searching for a new king who has been born, the king of the Jews. They’ve seen his star in the sky and have come to worship him.

This is news to Herod. 

He knows nothing about a star or a baby who will be king. He is the king. 

This news threatens his reign and his power. He must squash this menace child, lest the baby seize his throne.

Yet Herod plays it cool with the magi. “Go and find the baby,” he says, “and then update me, so I can worship him too.”

Yet the magi don’t report back to Herod. An angel warns them of his deception. By the time Herod realizes this, the magi have already left the country.

Herod is furious.

He intended to kill baby Jesus. But since he doesn’t know which baby Jesus is, he gives orders to kill all the baby boys in Bethlehem. Now many babies die instead of just one.

What anguish this causes the families of these babies. Their young sons, innocent and having done nothing wrong, are executed by a power-hungry king who wants to ensure his ongoing rule.

What Herod doesn’t know is that his heinous scheme is too late. Before he gives the order, Joseph already whisked Mary and Jesus away and fled into Egypt. There, they are safe from Herod’s reach.

Herod has immense power and is corrupted by it. To hold onto his reign as king, he slaughters many innocent babies. But God is more powerful than this evil king and thwarts his plan.

We all have a degree of power. Do we use the power we have for good or for evil? Do we help others or serve ourselves?

[Discover more about King Herod in Mathew 2:1–23.]

Read more about other biblical characters in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

By Peter DeHaan

Peter writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and make a faith that matters. Learn more at