(ahr chih lay' uhss) Son and principal successor of Herod the Great (Matthew 2:22). When Herod died in 4 B.C., his sons Herod Antipas and Philip were named tetrarchs; but his son Archelaus was the principal successor. Aware of the hostility of the Jews toward his family, Archelaus did not attempt to ascend the throne immediately. First, he tried to win the Jews over. His efforts were not successful; as the Jews revolted, and Archelaus ordered his army to retaliate.
Archelaus encountered opposition to his reign from his brothers, in particular Herod Antipas, who felt entitled to the throne. The brothers presented their case to the emperor Augustus, who gave Archelaus one half of his father Herod's land and split the remainder between Antipas and Philip. Archelaus was given the title Tetrarch, but was promised the title of King if he reigned virtuously.
Archelaus interfered in the high priesthood, married against Jewish law, and oppressed the Samaritans and Jews through brutal treatment. In revolt, the people sent deputations to Caesar to have Archelaus denounced. His rule was ended in A.D. 6 when the Roman government banished him to Gaul and added his territory to Syria.
Joseph was warned in a dream to avoid Judea because of Archelaus' rule. He decided to take Mary and the child Jesus to Galilee when they returned from Egypt rather than go to Judea (Matthew 2:22).