John and Herod (Lk 3:19-3:20)

“John had rebuked

Herod,

The tetrarch ruler,

Because of Herodias,

His brother’s wife.

John also rebuked

Herod

For all the other evil things

That he had done.

Herod added

To all these evil things,

When he locked up

John in prison.”

 

ὁ δὲ Ἡρῴδης ὁ τετραάρχης, ἐλεγχόμενος ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ περὶ Ἡρῳδιάδος τῆς γυναικὸς τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ καὶ περὶ πάντων ὧν ἐποίησεν πονηρῶν ὁ Ἡρῴδης,

προσέθηκεν καὶ τοῦτο ἐπὶ πᾶσιν, κατέκλεισεν τὸν Ἰωάνην ἐν φυλακῇ

 

Both Mark, chapter 6:14-17, and Matthew, chapter 14:1-5, have the imprisonment of John much later in their works, while Luke has it right here at the beginning of his gospel story.  Luke said that John had rebuked Herod Antipas, the tetrarch (ὁ δὲ Ἡρῴδης ὁ τετραάρχης, ἐλεγχόμενος ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ) of Galilee because of Herodias (περὶ Ἡρῳδιάδος), his brother’s wife (τῆς γυναικὸς τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ) and all the other evil things that Herod had done (καὶ περὶ πάντων ὧν ἐποίησεν πονηρῶν ὁ Ἡρῴδης,).  Herod added to all these evil things (προσέθηκεν καὶ τοῦτο ἐπὶ πᾶσιν), when he locked up John in prison (κατέκλεισεν τὸν Ἰωάνην ἐν φυλακῇ).  The Roman educated Herod, was the ruler or tetrarch of Galilee and Perea from 4 BCE-39 CE, as a client region, in the Roman Empire.  This Herod Antipas was the son of Herod the Great.  He had built the capital city of Galilee Tiberias, since he was a favorite of the Roman Emperor Tiberius (14-37 CE).  Herod, the Roman ruler in Galilee seized John the Baptist and put him in jail.  John had been complaining that Herod Antipas had married the wife of his half-brother Philip, after he had divorced his first wife.  His first wife went back to her father and started a war with Herod Antipas.  Herod’s new wife was called Herodias.  John had called him out for this marriage with Herodias, his brother’s recently divorced wife.  John had told Herod that it was not lawful for him to have her as his wife.  Thus, Herod had John arrested and sent to prison.

They bring the head of John the Baptist (Mk 6:27-6:28)

“Immediately,

The king

Sent a soldier

Of the guard.

He gave orders

To bring John’s head.

He went.

He beheaded him

In the prison.

He brought

His head

On a platter.

He gave it

To the girl.

Then the girl

Gave it

To her mother.”

 

καὶ εὐθὺς ἀποστείλας ὁ βασιλεὺς σπεκουλάτορα ἐπέταξεν ἐνέγκαι τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ. καὶ ἀπελθὼν ἀπεκεφάλισεν αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ φυλακῇ,

καὶ ἤνεγκεν τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ πίνακι καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτὴν τῷ κορασίῳ, καὶ τὸ κοράσιον ἔδωκεν αὐτὴν τῇ μητρὶ αὐτῆς.

 

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!

The request for the head of John the Baptist on a platter (Mk 6:25-6:25)

“Immediately,

She rushed back

To the king.

She requested.

‘I want you

To give me

At once

The head

Of John the Baptist

On a platter.’”

 

καὶ εἰσελθοῦσα εὐθὺς μετὰ σπουδῆς πρὸς τὸν βασιλέα ᾐτήσατο λέγουσα Θέλω ἵνα ἐξαυτῆς δῷς μοι ἐπὶ πίνακι τὴν κεφαλὴν Ἰωάνου τοῦ Βαπτιστοῦ.

 

This is like Matthew, chapter 14:8.  Urged on by her mother, this girl immediately rushed or hastened back to the king (καὶ εἰσελθοῦσα εὐθὺς μετὰ σπουδῆς πρὸς τὸν βασιλέα).  She told the king her request (ᾐτήσατο λέγουσα) that she wanted him to give her at once (Θέλω ἵνα ἐξαυτῆς δῷς μοι) the head of John the Baptist on a platter or a dish (ἐπὶ πίνακι τὴν κεφαλὴν Ἰωάνου τοῦ Βαπτιστοῦ).  Obviously.  King Herod had made a silly solemn statement and his wife Herodias took advantage of this situation.

 

 

The head of John the Baptist (Mk 6:24-6:24)

“The girl went out.

She said

To her mother.

‘What should I ask for?’

She replied.

‘The head

Of John the Baptizer.’”

 

καὶ ἐξελθοῦσα εἶπεν τῇ μητρὶ αὐτῆς Τί αἰτήσωμαι; ἡ δὲ εἶπεν Τὴν κεφαλὴν Ἰωάνου τοῦ Βαπτίζοντος.

 

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.

Herod will grant a wish (Mk 6:22-6:23)

“When the daughter

Of Herodias

Came in,

She danced.

She pleased Herod

And his guests.

The king said

To the girl.

‘Ask me

For whatever you wish!

I will give it!’

He solemnly swore

To her.

‘Whatever you ask me,

I will give you,

Even half of my kingdom.’”

 

καὶ εἰσελθούσης τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτῆς τῆς Ἡρῳδιάδος καὶ ὀρχησαμένης, ἤρεσεν τῷ Ἡρῴδῃ καὶ τοῖς συνανακειμένοις. ὁ δὲ βασιλεὺς εἶπεν τῷ κορασίῳ Αἴτησόν με ὃ ἐὰν θέλῃς, καὶ δώσω σοι·

καὶ ὤμοσεν αὐτῇ Ὅτι ἐάν με αἰτήσῃς δώσω σοι ἕως ἡμίσους τῆς βασιλείας μου.

 

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.

Herodias wanted to kill John (Mk 6:19-6:19)

“Herodias

Had a grudge

Against John.

She wanted

To kill him.

But she could not.”

 

ἡ δὲ Ἡρῳδιὰς ἐνεῖχεν αὐτῷ καὶ ἤθελεν αὐτὸν ἀποκτεῖναι, καὶ οὐκ ἠδύνατο·

 

This is a unique verse of Mark, who said that Herodias had a grudge against John (ἡ δὲ Ἡρῳδιὰς ἐνεῖχεν αὐτῷ).  She wanted or wished to kill him (καὶ ἤθελεν αὐτὸν ἀποκτεῖναι), but she was not able to or could not kill him (καὶ οὐκ ἠδύνατο).  In other words, the wife of Herod was really angry at John the Baptist for what he had said about her and her marriage to King Herod.

John said that the marriage of Herod was not lawful (Mk 6:18-6:18)

“John had been telling

Herod.

‘It is not lawful

For you

To have

Your brother’s wife.’”

 

ἔλεγεν γὰρ ὁ Ἰωάνης τῷ Ἡρῴδῃ ὅτι Οὐκ ἔξεστίν σοι ἔχειν τὴν γυναῖκα τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ σου.

 

This mention of John the Baptist telling King Herod that his marriage was not lawful can be found in Matthew, chapter 14:4, and here.  John had called out Herod for his marriage with Herodias, his brother’s recently divorced wife.  Mark said that John had told Herod (ἔλεγεν γὰρ ὁ Ἰωάνης τῷ Ἡρῴδῃ) that It was not lawful for him to have his brother’s wife as his wife (ὅτι Οὐκ ἔξεστίν σοι ἔχειν τὴν γυναῖκα τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ σου).  John the Baptist was not ambiguous and not afraid to express his beliefs.