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Luke 23:8-12 - Jesus before Herod Antipas

Updated: Apr 7, 2022

When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had been wanting to see him for a long time, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some sign. He questioned him at some length, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. Even Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then he put an elegant robe on him, and sent him back to Pilate. That same day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies.


Verse eight begins with a capitalized “Ho,” which again translates as “This.” The divine elevation says “This” which had the Sanhedrin take Jesus before Pilate has now transitioned to “This,” where Jesus has been moved to see Herod. To assume there has been no or little time spent between the two, consider how neither Matthew, nor Mark, nor John give any mention to Jesus appearing before Herod. It is only here that this event is told. The other three Gospel writers combine two appearances before Pilate as one event, distorting the timing of a Passover week slowly passing by. Because this story is told every Palm Sunday – Passion Sunday, without any explanation or questions asked and answered, “Why did Luke say Jesus went before Herod?” people calling themselves “Christian” are told to believe “three days dead” means part of a Friday, all day Saturday, and part of a Sunday, when that is as little as forty-two hours, far less than the seventy-two that makes up three days. Real time passing for real events to unfold means speed reading a chapter of a Gospel will make fools miss important details.

The whole of verse eight is then seen literally saying, “This now Herod , having looked upon this Jesus , he rejoiced greatly ; he existed indeed from within (wanting to burst outward) of considerable of time desiring to look upon himself , on account of this reported concerning himself ; kai he was expecting a certain miracle to experience of himself bringing into being .” Once again, “This” is a divinely elevate account of a most private meeting held between Herod and Jesus, with only his captors and Herod’s palace guards present. While the appearances before Pilate could have allowed casual spectators present, which would have included family and friends of Jesus (to whom Pilate importantly addressed, when dismissing the charges brought by the high priest), one should not even expect that Mother Mary (a woman in ancient times, having zero pull publicly) was allowed into Herod’s Palace. “This” is a divine insight allowed Mary and Luke.

The name “Herod” has several meanings, which are: “Freeman, Wanderer, Fugitive; Trembler, Coward.” The etymology is said to be combining “Hero” with "Ode,” as a “Song of a Hero.” While that might have been a name created by Herod the Great, Antipas was not of that great hero mold. Most likely, the root word “harad,” which means “to tremble or be afraid” is why this name is used, instead of “Antipas” (his identifying name, as a great-grandson of Antipater the Idumaean). One can assume the divine elevation of meaning coming from “This now Coward” is a major statement about how Herod Antipas ruled over (not officially a “king,” but a “Tetrarch”) rural Galilee and Perea, as the basically unimportant lands he oversaw. The tax money from his subjects paled in comparison to that collected by Pilate; so, Herod Antipas knew he was little in the eyes of Rome and feared much.

To then see that Herod “looked upon Jesus,” one needs to realize that the name Jesus was not mentioned at any time during the trials he experienced after his arrest. Only twice in Luke’s twenty-second chapter was Jesus named; and, both times he was with his disciples, who knew him by name. The name here then says Herod (a somewhat Jew by birth) might have realized the name meant “Yah[weh] Saves” or “Yah[weh] Will Save,” making his name become a factor in why Herod was so delighted to “look upon Jesus.” The name “John” means “Yahweh is Gracious,” and Herod had some respect for John, as the one who “reports” said, “he is the Messiah” (which John denied). To see the name “Jesus” written here, one has to factor that name meaning (a divinely elevated meaning for a capitalized word) and connect it to the “Trembler” that wanted to be freed from the guilt he had upon his soul, for having beheaded a man that might well have been the Messiah.

Following a semicolon mark of separation, to read “he existed indeed from within (wanting to burst outward) of considerable of time desiring to look upon himself,” John was beheaded in the early time of Jesus’ ministry, so well over two years had passed since that murder. Over that period of time Herod had great inner fears, which would erupt as emotional outbursts that few understood. He kept receiving “reports” about “Jesus,” from those operating synagogues in Galilee (possibly Perea), but Herod Antipas had proved to be useless as a strong ruler (which is why Jesus would seek safety Beyond the Jordan during the winter, where Perea was known to be beyond the reach of the Temple elite in Jerusalem. They knew he was there, and they sent spies there (Nicodemus being one); but there was nothing they could do until Jesus returned to Judea. They had planned on Pilate (a Roman) being the strong ruler who would do their dirty work. That says they could not count on the weakling Herod Antipas.

The important segment of words in this verse tells the reader what Herod hoped for, as his “expectations” of Jesus, based on his “reports.” Luke 9:7-9 and Mark 6:14-16 tells of this “expectation,” because Herod had been told Jesus was John “raised from the dead.” Mark tells of a pseudo-relationship that Herod created with John, where Mark said “Herod was afraid of John.” Mark says that Herod enjoyed talking to John and hearing the great things he said. So, without a doubt Herod expected the same great things being said to him by Jesus, who was proposed to be John raised from the dead. The importance of reading, “he was expecting a certain miracle to experience of himself bringing into being” says Herod wanted Jesus to say something specific (“a certain thing”) that would prove to him that the soul of John (“to experience of himself”) was one with the soul of Jesus (divine possession). The importance of “bringing into being” says Herod wanted the “miracle” of conjuring John from Jesus, to ease the fears he had within, for having condemned his soul to eternal darkness, for having beheaded a saint, because his prancy step-daughter and evil wife knew Herod did not have the balls to be a strong ruler.

Verse nine then continues the happenings of Jesus appearing before Herod. The whole of this verse says literally, “he kept inquiring himself within to words considerable ; himself now nothing he took up the conversation to himself .” To think that this “questioning” only took a few minutes is to be naïve. When verse eight said, “he existed indeed from within (wanting to burst outward) of considerable of time desiring to look upon himself,” this says Herod had a lot that needed to come out, due to his inner guilt that fueled his natural anxieties and fears. One should not expect that Herod sat as some confident ruler, who was making fun of Jesus. Herod truly “expected” Jesus to heal his inner guilt, “hoping” that the “reports” were true and Jesus was John raised from death. Most likely, “he kept inquiring” of John’s soul (“himself), digging deep into his own soul (“himself”) for questions, remembering the conversations with John and private things John had said to him. To have Luke write “words considerable” or “speech much” says Herod wanted to take the time to draw out the soul of John, so that soul would answer the misery he felt in his soul. Jesus, as a soul married to Yahweh’s Spirit, was connected to the Godhead and Yahweh heard everything Herod said and knew exactly what he was trying to get from Jesus. Jesus, however, was not John reborn (John was also a Yahweh elohim, a soul married to Yahweh). Jesus should be seen as not being a necromancer, such as Saul had conjured up the soul of Samuel, when his heart was heavy from failures. When Samuel told Saul, “Don’t call on me ever again,” he spoke through a woman who channeled his spirit. Jesus said nothing because Herod asked Jesus no questions. Herod had no prior relationship with Jesus; so, all he knew was scuttlebutt hearsay, which was not what Herod was interested in. Because the soul of Herod was so deeply troubled, he would have persisted to great lengths, trying to hear John give him one last bit of wisdom.

Verse ten begins with the capitalized word “Heistēkeisan,” which is a divinely elevated statement that says, “They had been made to stand by.” Because this is now brought up, this says that Herod talked with Jesus without his accusers being allowed to hear the line of questioning. Just as Pilate had seen the Sanhedrin as the ‘pot calling the kettle black,’ dismissing them as equals to any Jewish “man,” so too did Herod show a lack of respect for the leaders of the Temple in Jerusalem. He was much more interested in trying to make his own wish come true, relative to his guilt over murdering John the Baptist. It was only after significant reminiscing had no effect of getting John to speak through Jesus (and Jesus was not trying to please Herod by pretending to be John, in order to be set free), the Sanhedrin was brought in before Herod.

The whole of this verse is then shown literally to state: “They had been made to stand by now those chief priests kai those scribes vigorously making accusations of himself .” In this, the use of “kai” after stating the “chief priests” were allowed in, it was the “scribes who were “vigorously making accusations.” That says the Big Brains of the Law were pointing out to Herod all the things that Jesus said, which were counter to what the accepted beliefs were based on. Certainly, that included healing a man born blind on a Sabbath, and many other examples that had gotten under their skin. Probably, when they were “made to stand by,” the “chief priests” told the “scribes” to speak up: their chance was now! To have this outburst before Heron and not Pilate says they thought (a Big Brain thing done) Herod was a Jew and learned in the Law. They must have been too busy writing sermons for the Pharisees to deliver in the synagogues to realize Herod was a Hasmonean (a branch of Isaac that sprung from Esau) and had married his brothers wife (without anyone getting a divorce), which was the sin John made public; and, that was what got John arrested in the first place. So, telling Herod what Jesus did that broke the Law went in one ear and out the other.

Verse eleven then shows Herod having a somewhat change of personality, based on the “vehement” attitude taken by the chief priests and scribes. In the literal translation fro Luke’s writing is said, “having reduced to nothing now himself , <kai> this Herod together with those company of soldiers of himself , kai having ridiculed , having wrapped a garment around robe bright , sent back himself to this Pilate .” In this verse is found two uses of “kai,” but one is placed within angle brackets, which acts like a silent statement. To understand this silence, the first part of the verse is a continuation of the diatribe the “scribes” unleased before Herod. They totally “reduced to nothing” the man “Jesus.” The silence of “kai” says Herod had not thought of Jesus in that way. He assumed the “scribes” would support the rumors that said John had been raised from death in Jesus and Jesus was a man doing deeds like John had. When they said the opposite, Herod began to feel the necessity to agree with the “scribes” and act as if they knew more than anybody there. So, Herod and his soldiers began to hop on this ‘band wagon,’ with Herod beginning and then egging his soldiers on to heap on the ridicule. The second use of “kai” then says the soldier importantly dressed Jesus in a brightly colored robe (presumably one of the spares in the palace robe closet). The insult was actually reducing the chief priests and scribes to nothing, when Herod did nothing to judge Jesus. Instead, he sent Jesus back to Pilate, with orders to keep his ‘kingly’ robe on, so Jesus appeared to be the “king” of those Jews. Herod had already killed one holy man and felt tremendous guilt. He was not about to kill a second one. He would let Pilate deal with that issue.

The last verse in this section applies to Herod, although it ties this section to the next. It begins with the capitalized word “Egenonto,” which is the third-person past tense form of the word meaning “to come into being, to happen, to become.” The word is divinely elevated by the implication it gives, as “There were born.” This states the “Birth” of a relationship between Herod Antipas and Pilate, which would last the remaining six years of Pilates assignment to Judea.

The whole of verse twelve then literally says, “They were born now friends this both Herod kai this Pilate within to them same to this day each other ; they had existed beforehand indeed within alienation they were advantageous for themselves .” Here, the NRSV makes it appear: “That same day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other.” That is absurd. Why?

The use of “kai” before “Pilate” (not before “Herod”) says it is important to see “Pilate” as the one getting the shaft by “Herod.” The Greek word “philoi” can actually mean “associates,” which makes much more sense, since Herod Antipas was not always in Jerusalem and gold had not yet been invented for executives who had no real work to make time pass. To read “associates” in this that says Herod already had a history that importantly held him guilty for murdering a most holy man. Pilate had just joined that club. When one realizes “that same day” is not written, to realize the text says, “to them same to this day each other,” the two became alike (“same”) on “this day.’” The thing that “associated” both was joining the ‘kill a prophet club.’ While Herod had been the only living member in that club, before he sent Jesus back to Pilate, the two were most “alienated” … as are Roman governors and puppet rulers designated by Caesar. With Jesus going back to Pilate, Herod knew the guilt Pilate would come to know, from having beheaded John.

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