GLEANINGS FROM THE SCRIPTURES
A Mother's Choice
By Keith L. Estes
"At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the report about Jesus and said to his servants, "This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him." For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife. Because John had said to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her." And although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.
But when Herod's birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask.
So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, "Give me John the Baptist's head here on a platter."
And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her. So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus."
Herodias was a powerful woman. The wife of Palestine's appointed ruler, she enjoyed privilege and position. But one thing she had no control over was the outspoken tongue of John the Baptist.
John had publicly condemned Herodias' marriage to Herod Antipas. A granddaughter of Herod the Great, Herodias had first married her father's brother, Herod Philip 1. But she left Philip to marry his half-brother, Herod Antipas, who divorced his wife to marry Herodias.
John denounced their immorality, and Herodias was determined to silence the troublesome prophet. So she persuaded Herod to have John arrested and imprisoned. However, she could not convince her husband to execute the man.
Eventually, however, an opportunity presented itself when Herod's lust led him to foolishly promise Herodias' daughter Salome anything. The extent of Herodias' evil and cunning is evident from her daughter's unusual request. Imagine the control she must have had over the girl's mind!
The Bible records terrible stories truthfully. This woman's choice, to use her daughter to work her vengeance of an innocent man, ranks among the worst.
The weak king complied and the forerunner of Jesus was slain. However, the vindication of the family was short lived. Historical records confirm that the Herodian family never escaped bloodshed and violence, John's disciples came bravely and obtained his body for burial and then informed Jesus, who departed into a desert place apart. We cannot fully comprehend the pressure Jesus was under at this time. Yet, in spite of His own heartache over John's death, He continues His ministry and his march eventually to the cross.
Reference: Matthew 14:1-12 The Holy Bible and The Word In Life Study Bible.