Herod was afraid of John the Baptist (Mt 14:4-14:5)

“John had been telling him.

‘It is not lawful

For you to have her.’

Though Herod

Wanted to put him

To death,

He feared the crowd,

Because they regarded John

As a prophet.”

 

ἔλεγεν γὰρ ὁ Ἰωάνης αὐτῷ Οὐκ ἔξεστίν σοι ἔχειν αὐτήν.

καὶ θέλων αὐτὸν ἀποκτεῖναι ἐφοβήθη τὸν ὄχλον, ὅτι ὡς προφήτην αὐτὸν εἶχον.

 

This mention of Herod being afraid of John the Baptist can be found only in Mark, chapter 6:18-20, and here.  John had called out Herod for his marriage with Herodias, his brother’s recently divorced wife.  John had told Herod (ἔλεγεν γὰρ ὁ Ἰωάνης αὐτῷ) that It was not lawful for him to have her as his wife (Οὐκ ἔξεστίν σοι ἔχειν αὐτήν).  Even though Herod wanted to put John to death (καὶ θέλων αὐτὸν ἀποκτεῖναι), he was afraid of the large crowds of people (ἐφοβήθη τὸν ὄχλον), because they regarded John as a prophet (ὅτι ὡς προφήτην αὐτὸν εἶχον).

The praying to false idols (Wis 13:17-13:19)

“When he prays

About possessions,

His marriage,

His children,

He is not ashamed

To address a lifeless thing.

For health,

He appeals to a thing that is weak.

For life

He prays to a thing that is dead.

For aid

He entreats a thing that is utterly inexperienced.

For a prosperous journey,

He asks a thing that cannot take a step.

For money-making,

For work,

For success with his hands,

He asks strength of a thing

Whose hands have no strength.”

Now what seems ridiculous happens. This carpenter now turns to worship the image that he just created. In fact, he prays (προσευχόμενος) to this image for protection of his possessions, his marriage, and his children. He is not ashamed to speak to this lifeless image that he himself created. The author then points out the incredulity of this picture. The woodcutter prays for health to a weak piece of wood. He prays for life and asks for aid from a dead (νεκρὸν) piece of wood. He asks for help on his journey from something that cannot even walk. He asks for money and success in his work from a weak piece of wood with no strength. The irony is evident.

Esther becomes the new queen (Esth 2:15-2:18)

“When the turn came for Esther daughter of Abihail, the uncle of Mordecai who had adopted her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was admired by all as she found favor in the eyes of all who saw her. When Esther was taken to King Artaxerxes into his royal palace in the twelfth month, which is Adar, in the seventh year of his reign, the king loved Esther more than all the other women. She won his favor and grace over all the virgins. He set the royal diadem crown on her head as she became queen. Then the king gave a great banquet to all his friends and officials lasting seven days to celebrate his marriage to Esther. He also granted a holiday remission of taxes to all the provinces under his rule. He gave gifts with royal liberality.”

Esther finally got her turn to audition with the king. She simply followed the advice of the eunuch Hegai. This was now the 7th year of the king’s rule, around 458 BCE. The original feast where the argument took place about Queen Vashti was in the 3rd year of his rule. Now after 4 years, Vashti was gone, without any mention of what happened to her. Now King Artaxerxes was smitten with Esther as he said that she was the one, since he loved her more than all the others. He immediately gave her the crown as she became Queen Esther. He gave a big wedding banquet in Esther’s honor. He also gave a tax holiday. Now that is a real holiday. He also gave gifts, which seems the opposite of most weddings where the bride and groom get the gifts. There is no specific mention of a wedding ceremony, but it might be presumed if they had a wedding banquet. There seems to be no problem about a Jewish woman marrying a non-Jewish person as there was in Ezra, chapters 9-10, and Nehemiah, chapter 10, which would have been about the same time frame. That prohibition was more about Jewish men marrying non-Jewish women.