Antipas appears in Christian tradition in the accounts of the star and the massacre of the infants in Bethlehem,

Israel, St. George's Monastery
Israel, St. George’s Monastery

though his name is not mentioned.

It was Antipas whose future kingship was indicated by the appearance of the star, according to the astrologers, and Antipas who escaped the massacre of the infants in Bethlehem.

When Jupiter and Saturn drew close to each other (a great conjunction) three times in 7 BC, contemporary astrologers interpreted it as a sign announcing a new Jewish king.

The old king, Herod, was afraid that his sons could use the prophecy to overthrow him, so he executed his two sons by Mariamne, Alexander and Aristobulus, in the same year. Antipas only escaped death – as did his brothers Archelaus and Philip – because he was in Rome to be educated.


The accounts of the star and the massacre of the infants in Bethlehem were only later related to Jesus. Herod had nothing to fear from Jesus, because Jesus did not feature in the Herodian family succession.

Only when Jesus was himself later revered as Messiah could the old story be reinterpreted to apply to him. In 7 BC, Jesus was also being educated in Rome and was thus out of Herod’s reach.

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