Agrippa and Bernice
Acts 25:13-27
And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea to salute Festus.…

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 Hot succeed to the kingdom of Judaea, which was placed under the government of a procurator; but on the death of his uncle Herod, the king of Chalets, 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." 19:09, § 1; 20:01, § 3; 8, § 4). 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 Chalets. 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 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 producing in Judaea 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, 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, but his grief in doing so was matter of notoriety. "Dimisit invitus invitam (Sueton. Titus," c. 7; Tacit, "Hist." 2:81; Jos. "Ant." 20:07, § 3). The whole story furnished Juvenal with a picture of depravity which stands almost as a pendent to that of Messalina ("Sat." 6:155-9).

(Dean Plumptre.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus.

WEB: Now when some days had passed, King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea, and greeted Festus.

Appeal to Caesar
Top of Page
Top of Page