Priestly party under the reign of King Herod and his successors; called by the Rabbis "Boethusians," as adherents of the family of Boethus, whose daughter Mariamne was one of the wives of King Herod, and whose sons were successively made high priests by him. They followed the Sadducees in their opposition to the Pharisees, and were therefore often identified with the former (see Grätz, "Gesch." 4th ed., iii. 2, 693; Boethusians). According to the Gospels, their plot against the life of Jesus was supported by the Pharisees (Mark iii. 6, xii. 13; Matt. xii. 16); wherefore Jesus warned his disciples, saying "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the leaven of Herod" (Mark viii. 15; Matt. xvi. 6 has "Pharisees" and "Sadducees"). "Leaven" is explained in Matt. xvi. 12 to mean "teaching," that is, "bad teaching" (comp. "se'or sheba-'isah" = "the leaven in the dough," corresponding to the "yeẓer ha-ra'"; Ber. 17a). This shows that the Herodians represented a religious party. In Luke xii. 1 the Herodians have been omitted altogether, and the Pharisees alone are represented as the enemies of Jesus; and in Luke xx. 19 the scribes and chief priests are mentioned in place of the Pharisees and the Herodians (see also Mark xii. 13; Matt. xxii. 15-16).
- Cheyne and Black, Encyc. Bibl.;
- Hastings, Dict. Bible;
- Herzog-Hauck, Real-Encyc.;
- Riehm, Handwörterb. des Biblischen Alterthums (these offer explanations not in harmony with the Gospels or with the historic situation);
- Geiger, Das Judenthum und Seine Gesch. 1869, i. 172;
- idem. Jüd. Zeit. vi. 256;
- Renan, Life of Jesus, ch. xxi.