This is similar to Matthew, chapter 14:10-11. Mark said that King Herod immediately sent out one of his guard to be an executioner (καὶ εὐθὺς ἀποστείλας ὁ βασιλεὺς σπεκουλάτορα). He commanded him to bring back the head of John the Baptist (ἐπέταξεν ἐνέγκαι τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ). He sent his executioner guard to behead John in the prison at Machaerus, about 5 miles east of the Dead Sea. This guard beheaded John in the prison (καὶ ἀπελθὼν ἀπεκεφάλισεν αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ φυλακῇ). It is not clear whether they waited around for the head of John to come back. Beheading was one of the ways to make sure a person was dead. Then John’s head was brought on a platter or dish to Herod (καὶ ἤνεγκεν τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ πίνακι). He then gave it to the girl (καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτὴν τῷ κορασίῳ), who then gave it to her mother (καὶ τὸ κοράσιον ἔδωκεν αὐτὴν τῇ μητρὶ αὐτῆς), Herodias. This was her revenge against John the Baptist, because he had criticized her marriage to Herod. Off with his head!
This is like Matthew, chapter 14:8. Mark said that this girl went out and spoke to her mother (καὶ ἐξελθοῦσα εἶπεν τῇ μητρὶ αὐτῆς). She wanted to know what to ask for (Τί αἰτήσωμαι). Herodias, her mother, replied simply (ἡ δὲ εἶπεν) that she should ask for the head of John the Baptizer (Τὴν κεφαλὴν Ἰωάνου τοῦ Βαπτίζοντος). The plot thickens.
Matthew, chapter 14:6-7, also has this story about the dancing daughter. At this birthday party for King Herod, the daughter of Herodias came in (καὶ εἰσελθούσης τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτῆς τῆς Ἡρῳδιάδος). She danced in the middle of this public celebration (καὶ ὀρχησαμένης). Herodias’ daughter by her first marriage was called Salome or maybe even Herodias. However, in this gospel story of Mark, she was unnamed. She pleased Herod so much (ἤρεσεν τῷ Ἡρῴδῃ), as well as those reclining at the table with him (καὶ τοῖς συνανακειμένοις), that the king said to the girl (ὁ δὲ βασιλεὺς εἶπεν τῷ κορασίῳ) that whatever she wished or wanted (Αἴτησόν με ὃ ἐὰν θέλῃς), he would give it to her (καὶ δώσω σοι). He even swore to her (καὶ ὤμοσεν αὐτῇ) with a solemn oath promise to give her (δώσω σοι) whatever she might request or ask (Ὅτι ἐάν με αἰτήσῃς), even up to half his kingdom (ἕως ἡμίσους τῆς βασιλείας μου). Obviously, King Herod was a little rash here.
This episode of the sleeping girl is similar to what can be found in Mark, chapter 5:38-39, and Luke, chapter 8:51-52. Jesus then arrived at this leader’s house (καὶ ἐλθὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν τοῦ ἄρχοντος). Jesus saw the mourning flute players (καὶ ἰδὼν τοὺς αὐλητὰς). Once again, this is the only time that this word for flute players (αὐλητὰς) is found in the biblical literature. The crowd was agitated, making a big commotion (καὶ τὸν ὄχλον θορυβούμενον). He told them to go away (ἔλεγεν·Ἀναχωρεῖτε) since the girl was not dead (οὐ γὰρ ἀπέθανεν τὸ κοράσιον), but only sleeping (ἀλλὰ καθεύδει). However, they laughed at him or ridiculed him (καὶ κατεγέλων αὐτοῦ). This will not be the only time that people ridicule Jesus and his disciples.
“The turn came for each girl to go in to King Artaxerxes. This took place after being twelve months under the regulations for the women. The regular period of their beautifying treatment was six months with oil of myrrh and six months with perfumes and cosmetics for women. When the girl went in to the king, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. In the evening she went in. Then in the morning, she came back to the second harem in the custody of Shaashgaz the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the concubines. She did not go in to the king again, unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name.”
The audition with the king was pretty simple. Each girl had to wait a year in the harem in order to be beautiful enough for the king. These girls would spend 6 months with myrrh massage treatments and another 6 months with perfume and cosmetics massage treatments. When the girl went in to visit the king, she could bring whatever she wanted with her. She would then spend the evening with the king. Then in the morning, she would be part of the concubine harem that was under the custody of another eunuch, where she stayed until and if she was called again to be with the king.