Acts 25:13
And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus.
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(13) King Agrippa and Bernice.—Each of the characters thus brought on the scene has a somewhat memorable history. (1) The former closes the line of the Herodian house. He was the son of the Agrippa whose tragic end is related in Acts 12:20-23, and was but seventeen years of age at the time of his father’s death, in A.D. 44. He did not succeed to the kingdom of Judæa, which was placed under the government of a procurator; but on the death of his uncle Herod, the king of Chalcis, in A.D. 48, received the sovereignty of that region from Claudius, and with it the superintendence of the Temple and the nomination of the high priests. Four years later he received the tetrarchies that had been governed by his great-uncles Philip and Lysanias (Luke 3:1), with the title of king. In A.D. 55 Nero increased his kingdom by adding some of the cities of Galilee (Jos. Ant. xix. 9, § 1; xx. 1, § 3; 8, § 5). He lived to see the destruction of Jerusalem, and died under Trajan (A.D. 100) at the age of seventy-three. (2) The history of Bernice, or Berenice (the name seems to have been a Macedonian form of Pherenice) reads like a horrible romance, or a page from the chronicles of the Borgias. She was the eldest daughter of Herod Agrippa I., and was married at an early age to her uncle the king of Chalcis. Alliances of this nature were common in the Herodian house, and the Herodias of the Gospels passed from an incestuous marriage to an incestuous adultery. (See Note on Matthew 14:1.) On his death Berenice remained for some years a widow, but dark rumours began to spread that her brother Agrippa, who had succeeded to the principality of Chalcis, and who gave her, as in the instance before us, something like queenly honours, was living with her in a yet darker form of incest, and was reproducing in Judæa the vices of which his father’s friend, Caligula, had set so terrible an example (Sueton. Calig. c. 24). With a view to screening herself against these suspicions she persuaded Polemon, king of Cilicia, to take her as his queen, and to profess himself a convert to Judaism, as Azizus had done for her sister Drusilla (see Note on Acts 24:24), and accept circumcision. The ill-omened marriage did not prosper. The queen’s unbridled passions once more gained the mastery. She left her husband, and he got rid at once of her and her religion. Her powers of fascination, however, were still great, and she knew how to profit by them in the hour of her country’s ruin. Vespasian was attracted by her queenly dignity, and yet more by the magnificence of her queenly gifts. His son Titus took his place in her long list of lovers. She came as his mistress to Rome, and it was said that he had promised her marriage. This, however, was more than even the senate of the empire could tolerate, and Titus was compelled by the pressure of public opinion to dismiss her, out his grief in doing so was matter of notoriety, “Dimisit invitus invitam” (Sueton. Titus, c. 7 Tacit. Hist. ii. 81; Jos. Ant. xx. 7, § 3). The whole story furnished Juvenal with a picture of depravity which stands almost as a pendent to that of Messalina (Sat. vi. 155–9).

To salute Festus.—This visit was probably, as the word indicates, of the nature of a formal recognition of the new procurator on his arrival in the province.

Acts 25:13. And after certain days, &c. — We have here the preparation that was made for another hearing of Paul before King Agrippa, not in order to his giving judgment upon him, but in order to his giving advice concerning him, or rather, only to gratify his curiosity. Christ had said concerning his disciples, and particularly concerning his apostles, that they should be brought before governors and kings, and here we find his prediction accomplished. The preceding verses inform us of Paul’s being brought before Festus the governor, and the following of his being brought before Agrippa the king, for a testimony to both. King Agrippa and Bernice — His sister, with whom he lived in a scandalous familiarity; came to Cesarea to salute Festus — To congratulate him on his arrival in the province. The prince, here mentioned, was the son of Herod Agrippa, mentioned Acts 12:1, (where see the note,) and grandson of Aristobulus, the son of Herod the Great. As he was but seventeen years of age when his father died, the Emperor Claudius did not think proper to appoint him king of Judea in the room of his father, but made it a Roman province; however, on the death of his uncle, Herod Antipas, (of whom see note on Matthew 14:1,) he made him king of Chalcis, which, after he had governed it four years, he exchanged for a greater kingdom, and gave him the tetrarchies of Philip and Lysanias, to which Nero afterward added part of Galilee, with several towns in Peræa. Of Bernice’s incestuous commerce with this Agrippa, Juvenal speaks, Sat. 6. ver. 155, as well as Josephus, Antiq., lib. 20. cap. 7. It is certain this lady had first been married to her own uncle, Herod, king of Chalcis; after whose death, on the report of her scandalous familiarity with her brother Agrippa, she married Polemon, king of Cilicia, whom she soon forsook, though he had submitted to circumcision to obtain the alliance. This was also the person whom Titus Vespasian so passionately loved, and whom he would have made empress, had not the clamours of the Roman people prevented it.

25:13-27 Agrippa had the government of Galilee. How many unjust and hasty judgments the Roman maxim, ver. 16, condemn! This heathen, guided only by the light of nature, followed law and custom exactly, yet how many Christians will not follow the rules of truth, justice, and charity, in judging their brethren! The questions about God's worship, the way of salvation, and the truths of the gospel, may appear doubtful and without interest, to worldly men and mere politicians. See how slightly this Roman speaks of Christ, and of the great controversy between the Jews and the Christians. But the day is at hand when Festus and the whole world will see, that all the concerns of the Roman empire were but trifles and of no consequence, compared with this question of Christ's resurrection. Those who have had means of instruction, and have despised them, will be awfully convinced of their sin and folly. Here was a noble assembly brought together to hear the truths of the gospel, though they only meant to gratify their curiosity by attending to the defence of a prisoner. Many, even now, attend at the places of hearing the word of God with great pomp, and too often with no better motive than curiosity. And though ministers do not now stand as prisoners to make a defence for their lives, yet numbers affect to sit in judgment upon them, desirous to make them offenders for a word, rather than to learn from them the truth and will of God, for the salvation of their souls But the pomp of this appearance was outshone by the real glory of the poor prisoner at the bar. What was the honour of their fine appearance, compared with that of Paul's wisdom, and grace, and holiness; his courage and constancy in suffering for Christ! It is no small mercy to have God clear up our righteousness as the light, and our just dealing as the noon-day; to have nothing certain laid to our charge. And God makes even the enemies of his people to do them right.After certain days, king Agrippa - This Agrippa was the son of Herod Agrippa Acts 12:1, and great-grandson of Herod the Great. His mother's name was Cypros (Josephus, Jewish Wars, book 2, chapter 11, section 6). When his father died he was at Rome with the Emperor Claudius. Josephus says that the emperor was inclined to bestow upon him all his father's dominions, but was dissuaded by his ministers. The reason of this was, that it was thought imprudent to bestow so large a kingdom on so young a man, and one so inexperienced. Accordingly, Claudius sent Cuspius Fadus to be procurator of Judea and of the entire kingdom (Josephus, Antiq., book 19, chapter 9, section 2). When Herod, the brother of his father, Agrippa the Great, died in the eighth year of the reign of Claudius, his kingdom - the kingdom of Chalcis - was bestowed by Claudius on Agrippa (Josephus, Antiq., book 20, chapter 5, section 2). Afterward, he bestowed on him the tetrarchy of Philip and Batanea, and added to it Trachonitis with Abila (Antiq., book 20, chapter 7, section 1). After the death of Claudius, Nero, his successor, added to his dominions Julias in Perea and a part of Galilee. Agrippa had been brought up at Rome, and was strongly attached to the Romans. When the troubles commenced in Judea which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem, he did all that he could to preserve peace and order, but in vain. He afterward joined his troops with those of the Romans, and assisted them at the destruction of Jerusalem. After the captivity of that city he went to Rome with his sister Bernice, where he ended his days. He died at the age of seventy years, about 90 a.d. His manner of living with his sister gave occasion to reports respecting him very little to his advantage.

And Bernice - She was sister of Agrippa. She had been married to Herod, king of Chalcis, her own uncle by her father's side. After his death she proposed to Polemon, king of Pontus and part of Cilicia, that if he would become circumcised she would marry him. He complied, but she did not continue long with him. After she left him she returned to her brother Agrippa, with whom she lived in a manner such as to excite scandal. Josephus directly charges her with incest with her brother Agrippa (Antiq., book 20, chapter 7, section 3).

To salute Festus - To show him respect as the governor of Judea.

Ac 25:13-27. Herod Agrippa II ON A Visit to Festus, Being Consulted by Him on Paul's Case, Desires to Hear the Apostle, Who Is Accordingly Brought Forth.

13. King Agrippa—great-grandson of Herod the Great, and Drusilla's brother (see on [2110]Ac 24:24). On his father's awful death (Ac 12:23), being thought too young (seventeen) to succeed, Judea, was attached to the province of Syria. Four years after, on the death of his uncle Herod, he was made king of the northern principalities of Chalcis, and afterwards got Batanea, Iturea, Trachonitis, Abilene, Galilee, and Perea, with the title of king. He died A.D. 100, after reigning fifty-one years.

and Bernice—his sister. She was married to her uncle Herod, king of Chalcis, on whose death she lived with her brother Agrippa—not without suspicion of incestuous intercourse, which her subsequent licentious life tended to confirm.

came to salute Festus—to pay his respects to him on his accession to the procuratorship.

This Agrippa is called by Josephus, the younger, and was the son of Herod Agrippa, or Agrippa the Great, who in this book of the Acts is called Herod, whose death is mentioned, Acts 12:23. But this Agrippa was brother to Drusilla and Bernice, here spoken of, and lived in incest with her, whom Juvenal in his satire speaks of:

Barbarus incestae dedit hunc Agrippa sorori.

And after certain days,.... Several days after the above appeal made by Paul:

King Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus: this King Agrippa was the son of Herod Agrippa, who killed James the brother of John, and of whose death mention is made in Acts 12:1 the Jewish chronologer (h) calls him Agrippa the Second, the son of Agrippa the First, the fifth king of the family of Herod: he was not king of Judea, this was reduced again into a province by Claudius; and upon the death of his uncle Herod, king of Chalcis, he was by the said emperor made king of that place, who afterwards removed him from thence to a greater kingdom, and gave him the tetrarchy, which was Philip's, his great uncle's; namely, Batanea, Trachonitis, and Gaulanitis, to which he added the kingdom of Lysanias; (see Luke 3:1) and the province which Varus had; and to these Nero added four cities, with what belonged to them; in Peraea, Abila and Julias, and in Galilee, Tarichea and Tiberias (i). The Jewish writers often make mention of him, calling him, as here, King Agrippa; See Gill on Acts 26:3, and so does Josephus (k). According to the above chronologer (l) he was had to Rome by Vespasian, when he went to be made Caesar; and was put to death by him, three years and a half before the destruction of the temple; though others say he lived some years after it: and some of the Jewish writers affirm, that in his days the temple was destroyed (m). Agrippa, though he was a Jew, his name was a Roman name; Augustus Caesar had a relation of this name (n), who had a son of the same name, and a daughter called Agrippina; and Herod the great being much obliged to the Romans, took the name from them, and gave it to one of his sons, the father of this king: the name originally was given to such persons, who at their birth came forth not with their heads first, as is the usual way of births, but with their feet first, and which is accounted a difficult birth; and "ab aegritudine", from the grief, trouble, and weariness of it, such are called Agrippas (o). Bernice, who is said to be with King Agrippa, is not the name of a man, as some have supposed, because said to sit in the judgment hall with the king, but of a woman; so called, in the dialect of the Macedonians, for Pheronice, which signifies one that carries away the victory; and this same person is, in Suetonius (p), called Queen Beronice, for whom Titus the emperor is said to have a very great love, and was near upon marrying her: she was not wife of Agrippa, as the Arabic version reads, but his sister; his father left besides him, three daughters, Bernice, Mariamne, and Drusilla, which last was the wife of Felix, Acts 24:24. Bernice was first married to her uncle Herod, king of Chalcis (q), and after his death to Polemon, king of Cilicia, from whom she separated, and lived in too great familiarity with her brother Agrippa, as she had done before her second marriage, as was suspected (r), to which incest Juvenal refers (s); and with whom she now was, who came together to pay a visit to Festus, upon his coming to his government, and to congratulate him upon it.

(h) Ganz Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 26. 1.((i) Joseph. de Bello Jud. l. 2. c. 11. sect. 5. & c. 12. sect. 1. 8. & c. 13. sect. 2.((k) Antiqu. l. 20. c. 8. sect. 1.((l) Tzemach David, ib. Colossians 2. (m) Jarchi & Bartenora in Misn. Sota, c. 7. sect. 8. (n) Sueton. in Vita Augusti, c. 63, 64. (o) A. Gell. Noct. Attic. l. 16. c. 16. (p) In Vita Titi, c. 7. (q) Joseph. Antiqu. l. 19. c. 5. sect. 1. & c. 9. sect. 1. & de Bello Jud. l. 2. c. 11. sect. 5, 6. (r) Antiqu. l. 20. c. 6. sect. 3.((s) Satyr 6.

{4} And after certain days king {b} Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus.

(4) Festus, without even trying to, even before kings, brings to light the wickedness of the Jews, and Paul's innocence, and in this way marvellously confirms the Church of God.

(b) This Agrippa was the son of Agrippa whose death Luke spoke of before, and Bernice was his sister.

Acts 25:13. This Marcus Agrippa was the well-meaning, but too weak, Herod Agrippa II., son of the elder Agrippa, grandson of Aristobulus, and the great-grandson of Herod I. Soon after the death of his father (Acts 12:23) he received from Claudius, at whose court he was brought up (Joseph. Antt. xix. 9. 2, xx. 1. 1), the principality of Chalcis, and instead of this, four years afterwards (A.D. 53), from the same emperor, the former tetrarchy of Philip and Lysanias, along with the title of king (Joseph. Antt. xx. 7. 1); and at a later period, from Nero, a further considerable increase of territory. He did not die till the third year of Trajan, being the last reigning prince of the Herodian house. See Ewald, p. 555 ff.; Gerlach in the Luther. Zeitschr. 1869, p. 62 ff.

Βερνίκη, also Beronice and Berenice (i.e. equivalent to Φερενίκη, Sturz, Dial. Maced. p. 31), was his sister, formerly the wife of her uncle Herod the prince of Chalcis, after whose death she lived with her brother,—probably in an incestuous relation (Joseph. Antt. xx. 7. 3),—a state of matters which was only for a short time interrupted by a second marriage, soon again dissolved, with the Cilician king Polemon (Joseph. Antt. xx. 7. 5). At a later period still she became mistress of the Emperors Vespasian and Titus. See Gerlach, l.c.

ἀσπασόμενοι] It was quite in keeping with the relation of a Roman vassal, that he should welcome the new procurator soon after his accession to office.

Acts 25:13. Ἀγρ. ὁ βασιλεὺς: this was Herod Agrippa II., son of Agrippa I., whose tragic end is recorded in chap. 12. At the time of his father’s death he was only seventeen, and for a time he lived in retirement, as Claudius was persuaded not to entrust him with the kingdom of Judæa. But on the death of Herod, king of Chalcis, A.D. 48, Claudius not only gave the young Agrippa the vacant throne, A.D. 50, but transferred to him the government of the Temple, and the right of appointing the high priest. His opinion on religious questions would therefore be much desired by Festus. Subsequently he obtained the old tetrarchies of Philip and Lysanias, and the title of king was bestowed upon him. We have thus a proof of St. Luke’s accuracy in that he calls him βασιλεύς, cf. Acts 26:27, but not king of Judæa, although he was the last Jewish king in Palestine. Bernice and Drusilla were his sisters. He offended the Jews not only by building his palace so as to overlook the Temple, but also by his constant changes in the priesthood. In the Jewish wax he took part with the Romans, by whom at its close he was confirmed in the government of his kingdom, and received considerable additions to it. When Titus, after the fall of Jerusalem, celebrated his visit to Cæsarea Philippi—Herod’s capital, called by him Neronias in honour of Nero—by magnificent games and shows, it would seem that Agrippa must have been present; and if so, he doubtless joined as a Roman in the rejoicings over the fete of his people, Hamburger, Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, ii., 1, 30, “Agrippa II.”; Schürer, Jewish People, div. i., vol. ii., p. 191 ff., “Herod’ (6), Hastings’ B.D., Farrar, The Herods, p. 193 ff. (1898).—Βερνίκη (Βερεν. = Macedonian form of φερενίκη, see Blass, in loco, and C.I.G., 361; C.I. Att., iii., i., 556, Headlam in Hastings’ B.D.): the eldest of the three daughters of Agrippa I. She was betrothed, but apparently never married, to Marcus, son of Alexander, the Alabarch of Alexandria (see Schürer for correct reading of Jos., Ant., xix., 5, 1, Jewish People, div. i., vol. ii., p. 342, note). On his death at the age of thirteen she was married to her uncle, Herod of Chalcis, Jos., u.s., but after a few years she was left a widow, and lived in the house of her brother Agrippa II. In order to allay the worst suspicions which were current as to this intimacy, she married Polemon, king of Cilicia, Ant., xx., 7, 3 (Juv., Sat., vi., 156 ff.), but she soon left him and resumed the intimacy with her brother. Like Agrippa she showed openly at least a certain deference for the Jewish religion, and on one occasion, says Schürer, u.s., p. 197, we find even her, a bigot as well as a wanton, a Nazirite in Jerusalem, B.J., ii., 15, 1. This was in A.D. 66, and she endeavoured while in the capital to stay the terrible massacre of Florus—“the one redeeming feature of her career,” B.D.2. But later on, exasperated by the Jewish populace who burnt her palace, she became, like her brother, a partisan of the Romans, and in turn the mistress of Vespasian and of Titus, Tac., Hist., ii., 81; Suet., Tit., 7; Jos., B.J., ii., 17, 6. O. Holtzmann, Neutest. Zeitgeschichte, p. 83, speaks of Drusilla as a worthy sister of Bernice: he might have said the same of the other sister, Mariamne, since she too left her husband for the wealth of Demetrius, the Jewish Alabarch of Alexandria, Jos., Ant., xx., 7, 3.—ἀσπασόμενοι, see critical note. No doubt an official visit of congratulation paid by Agrippa as a Roman vassal upon the procurator’s entry on his office. The future participle makes the sense quite easy, but if we read the aorist it looks as if Agrippa and Bernice had previously saluted Felix, and afterwards came to his official residence, Cæsarea. Rendall includes in κατήντησαν not only the notion of arrival but also of settling down for a stay short or long: “came to stay at Cæsarea and saluted Felix” (aorist), but see Simcox, Language of the N. T., p. 125.

13–22. Festus consults King Agrippa about his prisoner. Agrippa wishes to hear Paul’s defence

13. And after certain days] More literally, but with no manifest gain, Rev. Ver. gives “Now when certain days were passed.”

king Agrippa] This was Herod Agrippa II., son of Herod Agrippa I., and consequently a great-grandson of Herod the Great. He was therefore brother of Bernice and Drusilla. On account of his youth he was not appointed to succeed his father when he died. But after a time the Roman Emperor gave him the kingdom of Chalcis, from which he was subsequently transferred to govern the tetrarchies formerly held by Philip and Lysanias, and was named king thereof. His kingdom was afterwards increased by the grant of other cities which Nero gave him. At the fall of Jerusalem he retired to Rome, with his sister Bernice, and there died a.d. 100. He had sided with the Romans in the war against the Holy City. Festus was likely to avail himself of an opportunity of consulting Agrippa, for he would expect to be soundly advised by him on any question of Jewish law.

and Bernice] She was the eldest daughter of Herod Agrippa I. She had first been married to her uncle Herod, king of Chalcis. Her connexion with her brother Agrippa II. was spoken of both by Roman and Jewish writers as sinful. She was subsequently married to Polemon, king of Cilicia, but soon left him and lived with Agrippa II. in Rome.

came unto Cesarea to salute Festus] Rev. Ver., following MSS., gives “arrived at Cæsarea, and saluted Festus,” with a marginal rendering “having saluted.” This would seem to imply that the salutation had taken place elsewhere than at Cæsarea. This is very improbable. Cæsarea was the official residence of the governor, and thither would the vassal-king Agrippa come to pay his formal visit of welcome to the representative of Rome.

Acts 25:13. Βερνίκη, Bernice) Sister of Agrippa—τὸν Φῆστον, Festus) the new governor.

Verse 13. - Now when certain days were passed for and after certain days, A.V.; Agrippa the king and Bernice arrived at for King Agrippa and Bernice came unto, A.V.; and saluted for to salute, A.V. and T.R. Agrippa the king. Herod Agrippa II., son of Herod Agrippa I. (Acts 12.), and consequently brother of Drusilla (Acts 24:24). He was only seventeen at his father's death, and so not considered by Claudius a safe person to entrust his father's large dominions to. But he gave him Chalets, and afterwards, in exchange for it, other dominions. It was he who made Ismael the son of Phabi high priest, and who built the palace at Jerusalem which overlooked the temple, and gave great offence to the Jews. He was the last of the Herods, and reigned above fifty years. Bernice was his sister, but was thought to be living in an incestuous intercourse with him. She had been the wife of her uncle Herod, Prince of Chalets; and on his death lived with her brother. She then for a while became the wife of Polemo, King of Cicilia, but soon returned to Herod Agrippa. She afterwards became the mistress of Vespasian and of Titus in succession (Alford). And saluted; ἀσπασόμενοι, which reading Meyer and Alford both retain. The reading of the R.T. is ἀσπασάμενοι. It is quite in accordance with the position of a dependent king, that he should come and pay his respects to the new Roman governor at Caesarea. Acts 25:13Agrippa the king

Herod Agrippa II., son o the Herod whose death is recorded in Acts 12:20-23.


Sister of Drusilla, the wife of Felix. She is said to have lived in incestuous relations with her brother. Juvenal, in his sixth satire, alludes to this: "A most notable diamond, made more precious by having been worn on the finger of Bernice. This a barbarian king once gave to his incestuous love. This Agrippa gave to his sister."

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