What does Mark 3:6 mean?This is the first mention of the Herodians in the book of Mark. The Herods are a Jewish family who have received authority from the Roman occupiers to rule over Judea and Galilee. Herod the Great tried to kill Jesus shortly after His birth (Matthew 2:1–12). His kingdom was later split into four sections, and his son, Herod Antipas, rules over Galilee and nearby territories at the time of this story.
The Herodians' alliance with the Pharisees is interesting. Philosophically, they have nothing in common. The Pharisees concentrate on obeying the Mosaic Law in hopes the Messiah will arrive and free Israel from Rome. The Herodians have absolutely no formal connection to the temple or religion. Their primary concern, and loyalty, is to the king and Rome's rule over Israel.
Differences aside, the Pharisees know how to use the Herodians to get what they want. Herod has legal authority to execute a criminal in certain cases; the Pharisees don't. The Roman government is very sensitive to rumors of rebellion by the Jews. The Maccabean Revolt had gained Israel independence, for a time, in 166 BC. The ancient historian Josephus also wrote about a rebellion in Galilee in AD 6 (Acts 5:37). All the Pharisees have to do is paint Jesus as a political threat and the Herodians will take care of the rest, or so they think.
The Pharisees' strategy is sound, although it will take a while to come to fruition. The Roman-appointed governor, Pilate, will be key in Jesus' death. Herod Antipas's son, Herod Agrippa I, will persecute the church in Jerusalem and have James, the brother of John, beheaded (Acts 12:2). But the Pharisees' dependence on Rome will also backfire, and in AD 70, Rome will sack Jerusalem, destroy the Temple, and cause the Jews to flee their own homeland.