understand this story – which has been portrayed on stage many times – you need
a little history lesson first. There are a bunch of “Herods” in the New
Testament. It gets a little confusing, so I will introduce only a few to you:
the Great is the father of the Herod in this passage. He’s the one
mentioned in the story of the nativity. He’s the one who dealt with the
Wise Men – and slaughtered all the children under the age of two. That
will tell you pretty quickly just what kind of family we’re dealing with.
He’s a contemporary of Cleopatra, by the way – who tried to take over his
kingdom via Mark Anthony.
Antipas – that’s the Herod in this passage – is his son. Dad willed him
the rule of Galilee. His two brothers got the rest of the kingdom. One
of them was so bad he was deposed by the Romans, who made Judea an
Imperial Colony (hence we get, eventually, Pontius Pilate). The other
brother was Philip, who was Herodias’ first husband.
– she’s a relative of all these folks by way of Herod the Great’s father –
divorced Philip for political reasons (her father was King Aretas, and he
seems to have arranged it). By all contemporary accounts, she was a very
good looking woman.
– her name is not mentioned in the Bible, we get it from history – is
Herodias daughter. It is in some doubt, but most scholars feel she is the
daughter of Philip, not Herod Antipas. She would be a young teen at this
is ever a total loss – it can always be used as a bad example.” This bunch
fits that proverb quite well.
Holy Bible, New International Version
14King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’
name had become well known.
Some were saying,£ “John the Baptist has been raised from
the dead, and that is
why miraculous powers are at work in him.”
15Others said, “He is Elijah.”
And still others claimed, “He
is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long
16But when Herod heard this, he said, “John,
the man I beheaded, has been
raised from the dead!”
17For Herod himself had given orders to have
John arrested, and he had him
bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s
wife, whom he had married. 18For John had been saying to Herod, “It is
lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19So Herodias nursed a grudge
against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, 20because Herod
feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man.
When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled£; yet he liked to listen to him.
21Finally the opportune time came. On his
birthday Herod gave a banquet for
his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee.
22When the daughter of Herodias came in and
danced, she pleased Herod and his
The king said to the girl,
“Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to
you.” 23And he promised her with an oath,
“Whatever you ask I will give you, up
to half my kingdom.”
24She went out and said to her mother, “What
shall I ask for?”
“The head of John the
Baptist,” she answered.
25At once the girl hurried in to the king
with the request: “I want you to give
me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”
26The king was greatly distressed, but
because of his oaths and his dinner
guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27So he immediately sent an executioner
with orders to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison,
28and brought back his head on a platter. He
presented it to the girl, and she gave
it to her mother. 29On hearing of this, John’s disciples came and
took his body
and laid it in a tomb.
the movies, she’s usually portrayed as a misled, innocent little thing. It
goes well in Hollywood, but it’s not Salome.
Her mother’s apprentice
mother, as we shall see, is an evil, scheming woman – who has taught her
daughter well. There’s a lesson or two in that.
how important it is to remember the example! This child grew up in a
palace of intrigue; how could she help but learn it?
it shows us how values are formed in children. Principles are the stands
which cost us something; can you imagine this girl sacrificing anything
for the sake of principle? Her mother never did.
is particularly important, I think, in girls.
remember it well: my daughter (at this writing, 18 years old) was two years
old when I first saw the wiggle and the wink. She smiled at me when she did
it. I thought to myself, “There’s only one woman in the world with the right
to look at me that way – what am I going to do with two?” Can you see now how
she wrapped Herod around her little finger? Perhaps the way a wife treats her
husband is of some influence on her daughters.
“Pretty girls just seem to find out early…”
… how to open doors with just a smile. I live next to a
college campus. My wife works there, so I frequently walk through the campus
to meet her. When I do, I often see young women we refer to as “advertising.”
We categorize them in three types:
sale” – obviously showing off their bodies.
sale or rent” – not just that, but clearly are looking for tonight’s bed
rates” – I leave to your imagination.
young women have given in to the temptation to use sexuality as a tool. Tools
are just that: tools. Each tool has a right use. The right use of sexuality
is to please a husband so that the marriage may be solid. Abused – we can see
the result. Evidently the abuse is not just a modern phenomenon.
doesn’t want his head tomorrow, or when convenient – but right now. Why?
sized up Herod pretty accurately. She doesn’t want to give him time to
when you’re a young teenager, everything is right now.
most of all, it’s because Mom wants it.
often do we give in to the strong personalities in our families, at the expense
of the weak ones?
cast as the villainess (I’d love to see Walt Disney’s treatment of this woman),
Herodias is the power behind the throne, or so it seemed. We can see something
of ourselves in her.
Nursed a grudge
well put. She didn’t just have one, she nursed it. A grudge can be quite
frail – at first.
the great danger of anger, that you nurse it in the night until it
often do so, thinking “no harm can come of it.” But the harm is there,
just waiting for the right circumstances. Nurse the grudge long enough,
the tempting moment will come to put grudge into action. This usually has
consequences with long term regret.
end result of the grudge may appear to be John the Baptist’s head – but it
also is the bitterness in her heart.
Rich man’s war
our Civil War, the Confederate soldiers often said that it was “a rich man’s
war and a poor man’s fight.” My mother used to put it this way, in settling
our childish squabbles: “This is a case of let’s you and him fight.” We are
ever inclined to send someone else to do the dirty work. There are two points
in here to remember:
this extreme, her own daughter was pushed to commit murder so that Mother
might have her revenge. This shows how a grudge can override even the
closest of family ties – yet another reason to give it up.
we send an emissary to carry out our wishes – because if we went
ourselves, we might have to face the trouble. By sending her daughter,
she didn’t have to touch things. The grudge stays intact.
not sufficient that the man be killed. She wants his head – a trophy. Here is
a sign of a depraved mind.
it is the desire of pride. Pride is essentially competitive. I win –
which means you must lose. The desire to see the other guy lose is the
core of this.
than that, we need to be able to crow about it. We need to be able to
strut our victory to show the world that we are better than the loser.
you think this doesn’t apply to us, have you ever felt the need to get a better
car, bigger boat, nicer house than someone else in your family? Or at work?
Perhaps this sin isn’t confined to the pages of the Bible.
man is fascinating; all actors know that the villain is the best part of the
play (see Macbeth).
The man is not his own master
may be a king, but he is not a ruler. Others rule over him, whether he likes
it or not. Think not?
is John in prison? Herod likes to listen to this guy, he respects him and
thinks him a holy man. But he has this wife…. And whatever Lola wants,
did he get this wife? History tells us that he snagged her from his
brother – because of his lust for her.
does he kill John the Baptist? Listen to the excuse: his oath. Listen
to the reason: the peer pressure from his guests.
Moth to the flame
is a moth to the flame; whatever attracts him he hovers about. He respects
John; he imprisons him. He resents John; he listens to him. Perhaps it’s
like Teddy Roosevelt said of Taft: he means well – feebly. Courage is still
the foundation of virtue.
The fear of the holy
thing Herod is sure of: John is holy. Herod fears that. He gives us two
evidences of that:
reaction to Jesus – his nemesis is back.
beheaded John in his cell – not at the banquet. He feared John’s tongue.
many of us are like that? We fear and respect that which is holy – but refuse
to take the courage to become holy ourselves.
Lessons for us
leave you with three questions for your soul:
you dealing with others by manipulation, or in honesty?
you living the life of bitterness, or repentance and forgiveness?
you ruled by yourself, by others, or by Jesus Christ?
no doubt had her excuses. Herodias probably did too; Herod even tendered
his. Remember that excuses and forgiveness are opposite ways of dealing with
sin. You must pick one or the other.