Tuvia Book
Author, educator, Tour-Guide, artist

The Good Herod

There were three generations of Herods.  It is the last one, the least known, who could have changed the course of history if he had lived long enough.  Herod the Great (ruled 37-4 BCE) is remembered for both  his tremendous  building projects, including the Second Temple complex and Ceasaria, and his malevolent murderous cruelty.  His son, Herod Antipas (ruled 4 BCE-39 CE), is the infamous “Herod” of the New Testament.  It was his grandson, Herod Agrippa I (ruled united Judaea 41-44 CE), who was the one who had the greatest potential to change the fortunes of Judaea.

Agrippa united in his veins the blood of Herod and of the Hasmoneans. His vigour and his adroitness testified to the first, his personal charm, his popularity, and his intense Jewish feeling to the second.  – (Roth)

The last golden age of Jewish Judea occurred during the brief reign of Herod and Miriam’s grandson, Herod Agrippa I, the son of the murdered Aristobulus, and grandson of the murdered Miriam. Even though Agrippa was educated in Rome, he was fiercely proud of his Jewishness. He befriended a great many people of influence in Rome and remained in the city for the battle of succession following the death of Caligula, serving as a neutral intermediary for the parties involved. At the end of the succession battle Agrippa’s childhood friend Claudius became Caesar. Claudius restored almost all of Herod’s land to Agrippa and granted him the title of king.

Proclaiming Claudius Emperor, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema ((c) Wikimedia, public domain)

Agrippa was in every respect a Jewish king who sought the good of the Jewish cause throughout (Judea). During those years many Jews regarded him as the lawful and deserving successor of the Hasmoneans…and openly showed their love for him during his lifetime and their feeling of bereavement after his death.  – (Stern)

For three years Judaea ceased to be a Roman province and was once again a semi-independent vassal kingdom within the Roman Empire. Despite the fact that he was not an observant Jew, Agrippa was loved by the masses for his Hasmonean pedigree, his charisma, and his intense Jewish patriotism. He attempted to build a third wall around Jerusalem that Josephus claims would have made the city impregnable, but Claudius ordered him to desist. This incident illustrates that despite Judaea’s veneer of independence, Rome was still the real power.

If he had lived longer than the three years he was in power over a united Judea, there might not have been a Great Revolt resulting in the destruction of the Temple and the slaughter and dispersal of large numbers of Judaean Jews.  Judaism, and not Christianity, might have been the dominant world religion and the subsequent history of the world would have been forever changed.

Agrippa’s coin, the common bronze prutah, was minted between the years 41-44 CE. It features Three heads of barley issuing from between two leaves on one side with the inscription, LϚ (Year 6 – 41/2 CE) and on the other a royal parasol with fringes, symbolising the king with inscription, ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΓΡΙΠΑ (BASILEOS [king] AGRIPA). (Photo (C) T. Book, 2021)

Dr. Tuvia Book is the author of “For the Sake of Zion, A Curriculum of Israel Education” (Koren, 2017).   His forthcoming book on the Second Temple Period,  will be published by Koren this year.  He also is a  Ministry of Tourism licensed Tour Guide, Jewish educator and a Judaica artist. 

In order to own your own certified genuine ancient coins and literally touch the past, go to;


About the Author
Dr. Tuvia Book was born in London and raised in both the UK and South Africa. After making Aliya at the age of 17 and studying in Yeshiva he volunteered for the IDF, where he served in an elite combat unit. Upon his discharge he completed his BA at Bar-Ilan University, as well as certification in graphic design. He then served as the Information Officer at the Israeli Consulate of Philadelphia, while earning a graduate degree in Jewish Studies. Upon his return to Israel, Dr. Book graduated from a course of study with the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, and is a licensed tour guide. Tuvia has been working in the field of Jewish Education, both formal and informal, for many years. He has guided and taught Jewish students and educators from around the English-speaking world for some of Israel’s premier educational institutions and programs. Tuvia has been guiding groups for Birthright Israel since its inception and, in addition, has lectured throughout North America, Australia, Europe and South Africa. Tuvia served as a Shaliach (emissary) for the Jewish Agency for Israel as the Director of Israel and Zionist Education at the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York (Jewish Education Project). He was a lecturer/educational guide at the Alexander Muss Institute for Israel Education (AMIIE) in Israel for a decade. Tuvia has lectured at both Bar Ilan University and Hebrew University. He was a Senior Editor and Teaching Fellow at the Tikvah Fund. He is a research associate at the Hudson Institute. Tuvia is the author and illustrator the internationally acclaimed Israel education curriculum; "For the Sake of Zion; A Curriculum of Israel Studies" (Fifth edition, Koren 2017), and "Moral Dilemmas of the Modern Israeli Soldier" (Rama, 2011) and has a doctorate in Israel Education. His latest book, "Jewish Journeys, The Second Temple Period to the Bar Kokhba Revolt – 536 BCE-136 CE," was published by Koren this year. To order:
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