the word “Herod” pops up in the New Testament, it produces a search for the
genealogy chart. There were plenty of them at this time. Here’s what one
says about it:
This was Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the
Great, by Malthace, and tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, which produced a revenue
of 200 talents a year. He married the daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia, whom he divorced in order to marry Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, who
was still living. Aretas, to revenge the affront which Herod had offered his
daughter, declared war against him, and vanquished him after an obstinate
engagement. This defeat, Josephus assures us, the Jews considered as a
punishment for the death of John the Baptist. Having gone to Rome to solicit
the title of king, he was accused by Agrippa of carrying on a correspondence
with Artabanus king of Parthia, against the Romans, and was banished by the
emperor Caius to Lyons, and thence to Spain, where he and Herodias died in
the players. Here, then, is the account of his most noted deed:
that time Herod the tetrarch heard the news about Jesus, and said to his
servants, "This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead, and that
is why miraculous powers are at work in him." For when Herod had John
arrested, he bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, the wife of
his brother Philip. For John had been saying to him, "It is not lawful for
you to have her." Although Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the
crowd, because they regarded John as a prophet. But when Herod's birthday came,
the daughter of Herodias danced before them
and pleased Herod, so much that he
promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. Having been prompted by
her mother, she *said, "Give me here on a platter the head of John the
Baptist." Although he was grieved, the king commanded it to be given because of his oaths, and because
of his dinner guests. He sent and had John beheaded in the prison. And his head
was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her
mother. His disciples came and took away the body and buried it; and they went
and reported to Jesus.
(Mat 14:1-12 NASB)
is instructive to study the character of Herod. You will find him to be quite
a modern man, in fact. The story of his murder of John the Baptist would make
a good one for our modern crime shows. What kind of a man would do such a
man of fear
just what is Herod afraid of?
afraid of John the Baptist. You would think this would not be so, as he’s
got the man in prison. But John is a righteous man – and Herod’s usual
methods have no influence on him.
he’s afraid of those sycophants at the party. How do we know this? He
feared to violate his oath. If a ruler is a snake in disguise, those
around him don’t trust him (hence the oath). They are always watching
him. He must appear, then, to be a man of his word.
stated, he fears the crowd – uneasy is the head under the crown. They
know John to be a prophet. And they know Herod to be a Herod.
man is sorry for what he has done. But no one confuses this with repentance.
captive of his desires
it feels good, do it.” It is the motto of my generation, and Herod would have
been right at home with it. Virtue is admired. So are dead heroes. Herod’s
desire shows up quickly:
is, after all, a man who seduced his brother’s wife. This brings new
meaning to “family ties.” Even if Philip were dead, this would be
contrary to the Jewish law.
This is a similar performance; in this instance the girl is quite
willing. Herod enjoys showing off the sweet young thing to a party with
is fair play, however. Herod seduces Herodias; now Salome seduces Herod.
His lust drives his decisions.
man of “convenient religion”
do we mean by “convenient religion?” Just this: Herod (and now the rest of
us) pick and choose among the various religious beliefs of the time, selecting
the parts we find convenient – or expedient. That’s why he thinks Jesus is
John the Baptist, risen from the dead.
I would point out to you the arrogance of this point of view. It says, simply,
that all religions are open as a smorgasbord and I, man the great, will select
my spiritual meal from among them. It is, in fact, the elevation of man to the
status of God.
it’s a fearful selection too. Herod in his choices simply follows the crowd –
little background first: she is the daughter of Herodias by her first husband,
Philip. That puts her in a position which is rather tenuous; her life pretty
much depends upon her mother’s position, as she is not the daughter of Herod.
She was probably thirteen or fourteen years old, the common age of marriage in
that society. Her name is not in the Scriptures, but is given to us by
she was one hot babe. The word translated as “dance before” actually
means that she was in the middle of the men. The kid was a runway dancer and
every girl wants…
power over men. The easiest way to get it is with sex – promised, implied and
or delivered. But may we point out:
this is a sinful desire. From Eden woman has known that man is to rule
this is crude manipulation with the object of murder.
that every girl practices exactly this skill from infancy. It’s a shock
to dear old dad to discover that his two year old daughter gives a great
imitation of mom’s “come hither” look.
you let it run its course, this results in incest and pedophilia. If it
feels good, do it.
head of John the Baptist on a platter
the head on the platter?
it means he is certainly dead, and dead now. Herod is given no room to
weasel his way out of it by promising to do it later.
is a practical reason as well: this way, she won’t have to listen to
John’s final sermon.
the main reason: so that Herod won’t hear John’s last sermon – and be
dissuaded from beheading him. She’s keeping the situation under control –
"He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of
Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
(Mat 10:37 NASB)
have little to say about Herodias – and none of it is good.
is first an adulteress. Her society would have equated this with
prostitution; sex had rules in those days. At the very least, she’s a
woman who cannot be trusted, even on oath.
is a conspiracy to commit murder – with her own daughter as the
co-conspirator. And what grievance had she against John? Only this: he
is a righteous man.
content with her own depravity, she teaches her young daughter how to do
villainy of the crime is all the evidence needed.
world like our own
I point out a few of the obvious parallels to our own time?
that the innocent still suffer for righteousness’ sake. Chastity is
considered an affliction, not a virtue. And in accord with modern
virtues, those so afflicted are mocked and despised.
fears are much the same, too. We fear the crowd; we particularly fear
being seen as “different.” Even the leaders take popularity polls.
passions – and lack of control – are very similar. In our society, a
woman is valued for her appearance (and her willingness to have sex with
one and all). This gives some women power over men; it gives others a
still work in “convenient religion,” even those professing to be
Christians. All those passages relating to marriage which seem
inconvenient – whether for feminism’s sake, or for adultery – are now
still have the same reaction to those who proclaim the truth in public. In
2000 Jerry Falwell sued the FBI to obtain files which were used to slander
and threaten him. Fact based or not, isn’t the reaction now one of, “he
deserved it”? When you read this section, you weren’t shocked; you
considered it normal government behavior.
tumble of our morality continues. Incest is quietly brushed aside
(despite the damage done by it); pedophilia is still condemned – for a
then, should we do? May I give you the words of a wiser man than I?
… let us weep for Herodias, and
for them that imitate her. For many such revels now also take place, and though
John be not slain, yet the members of Christ are, and in a far more grievous
way. For it is not a head in a charger that the dancers of our time ask, but
the souls of them that sit at the feast. For in making them slaves, and leading
them to unlawful loves, and besetting them with harlots, they do not take off
the head, but slay the soul, making them adulterers, and effeminate, and
this: we are members of the body of Christ. When we have sex outside marriage,
we unite the members of the body of Christ with the body of a prostitute.
Even to do in thought is sin.
why should the children of God weep for such? The saints must weep for sin,
and the sinners. Our task is not just to reject the sin; our task is to bring
the sinners home. It is a daunting task; but do not forget in whose power you