What is known about Herodias’ first husband? He is mentioned only three times in the NT, in the parallel verses Matt 14:3, Mark 6:17, and Luke 3:19, in the context of the arrest of John the Baptist. Matthew and Mark call him Philip, while Luke simply identifies him as the tetrarch’s brother, without giving him a name at all.
Philip was the son of Herod the Great by Mariamme, the daughter of Simon Boethus, Herod’s longest-serving high priest, who held the title for seventeen or eighteen years, from about 22 to 5 BC. The House of Boethus produced two further high priests, Joazar and Eleazar, who were either Simon’s brothers or his sons, and hence Philip’s uncles. Joazar seems to have held the post two times, briefly, in the closing years of Herod the Great’s reign, and Eleazar served as high priest under Herod’s immediate successor, his eldest surviving son, Archelaus.
This means that at the time of Jesus’ ministry, when he came into conflict with the then ruling House of Annas, the surviving members of the House of Boethus could look back to a time in the recent past when they had had the upper hand, before they had been overtaken and shunted aside. It must have rankled. Some of them, at least, must have been on the lookout for Annas and Caiaphas to make a mistake of some kind, which they could then exploit in a bid to regain power by cozying up to Pontius Pilate and turning the tables on their rivals. But do we have any evidence that anything of this kind actually happened?