Q. I really enjoy your site. I have 2 questions. First, why did Jesus descend into hell before his resurrection? Second, in this month’s National Geographic there is an article on Herod. Was there more than one Herod, and if so, when did each of them live? Thank you for your work.
A. The word translated Hell actually means “the abode (dwelling place) of the dead.” Before Jesus sprinkled His blood on the altar in Heaven no one could go there, so those who died in faith went to the abode of the dead to wait for this event. It was sometimes called Abraham’s Bosom or Paradise. When Jesus died He went there to get them and take them to Heaven. (Ephes. 4:8)
As for the Herods there was an entire dynasty, founded by Herod the Great. He ruled from 37-4 BC and had 6 sons, three of whom were also named Herod (followed by a 2nd name), 2 grandsons, one of whom was Herod Agrippa 1 (whose sister Herodias first married her uncle Herod Phillip and then her uncle Herod Antipas), and a great grandson, Herod Agrippa II. Herod Antipas ruled during the life time of Jesus. The daughter of Herod Philip I and Herodias was Salome, who danced for the head of John the Baptist. She later married her father’s brother, Herod Philip II.
Herod Agrippa I was the King of Judea from 37-44 AD. He had James killed and imprisoned Peter. God sent an angel to kill him. (Acts 12:1-24) Paul was tried by Felix, son-in-law of Herod Agrippa I (Acts 24:24) and ultimately made his defense before Herod Agrippa II (Acts 25:13-26:32) who reigned from about 48 or 50 to 95 AD, and whose wife Berenice was also his sister. All told, it was quite a family.