The head of John the Baptist on a platter (Mt 14:9-14:11)

“King Herod was sorry.

Yet out of regard

For his oaths

And his guests,

He gave his command.

He sent his men.

He had John beheaded

In the prison.

His head

Was brought on a platter.

The dish was given

To the girl.

She then brought it

To her mother.”

 

καὶ λυπηθεὶς ὁ βασιλεὺς διὰ τοὺς ὅρκους καὶ τοὺς συνανακειμένους ἐκέλευσεν δοθῆναι,

καὶ πέμψας ἀπεκεφάλισεν Ἰωάνην ἐν τῇ φυλακῇ.

καὶ ἠνέχθη ἡ κεφαλὴ αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ πίνακι καὶ ἐδόθη τῷ κορασίῳ, καὶ ἤνεγκεν τῇ μητρὶ αὐτῆς.

 

This beheading of John the Baptist can be found in Mark, chapter 6:25-28, and here.  King Herod was pained and sorry (καὶ λυπηθεὶς ὁ βασιλεὺς) for what he had just promised, much like in the story of Esther, chapter 5:3, where the king was willing to give Esther anything she wanted.  Yet out of regard for his oaths (διὰ τοὺς ὅρκους) and his guests reclining at table with him (καὶ τοὺς συνανακειμένους ἐκέλευσεν δοθῆναι), Herod commanded his men to carry out this request (ἐκέλευσεν δοθῆναι).  He sent his men to behead John in the prison (καὶ πέμψας ἀπεκεφάλισεν Ἰωάνην ἐν τῇ φυλακῇ) at Machaerus, about 5 miles east of the Dead Sea.  It is not clear whether they waited around for the men to come back with the head of John, which was one way to make sure a person was dead.  Then his head was brought on a platter or dish to Herod (καὶ ἠνέχθη ἡ κεφαλὴ αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ πίνακι).  He then gave it to the girl Salome (καὶ ἐδόθη τῷ κορασίῳ), who then gave it to her mother (καὶ ἤνεγκεν τῇ μητρὶ αὐτῆς), Herodias.  This was her revenge against John the Baptist because he had criticized her marriage to Herod.  Off with his head!

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The war with the Idumeans (2 Macc 10:15-10:17)

“Besides Gorgias, the Idumeans, who had control of important strongholds, were harassing the Jews. They received those who were banished from Jerusalem. They endeavored to keep up the war. But Judas Maccabeus and his men, after making solemn supplication and beseeching God to fight on their side, rushed to the strongholds of the Idumeans. Attacking them vigorously, they gained possession of the places. They beat off all who fought upon the wall. They slaughtered those whom they encountered. They killed no fewer than twenty thousand.”

Once again, this conflict can be found in 1 Maccabees, chapter 5, where there was some burning, but without the number of people who died. The Idumeans were the people from Edom who continuously harassed the Jews. The supporters of the banished high priest Menelaus had fled here. Here, Judas Maccabeus and his men prayed to God that he might be on their side as they rushed the strongholds of the Idumeans. Then they attacked and took the strongholds, as they killed 20,000 Idumeans, quite a slaughter.

The punishment of Heliodorus (2 Macc 3:24-3:28)

“When Heliodorus arrived at the treasury with his bodyguard, then and there the Sovereign of spirits and of all authority caused so great a manifestation that all who had been so bold as to accompany him were astounded by the power of God. They became faint with terror. There appeared to them a magnificently caparisoned horse, with a rider of frightening mien. It rushed furiously at Heliodorus and struck at him with its front hoofs. Its rider was seen to have armor and weapons of gold. Two young men also appeared to him, remarkably strong, gloriously beautiful and splendidly dressed. They stood on each side of him and scourged him continuously, inflicting many blows on him. When he suddenly fell to the ground and deep darkness came over him, his men took him up. They put him on a stretcher and carried him away. This man who had just entered the aforesaid treasury, with a great retinue and his bodyguard, was now unable to help himself. They recognized clearly the sovereign power of God.”

When Heliodorus arrived at the Temple treasury with his bodyguards, he was met by a heavenly manifestation or apparition that showed the power of God. He became faint. Appearing to him was a horse and rider who kicked him. This golden armored rider had 2 other strong, beautifully dressed men to whip him on each side until he fell to the ground. Finally they took him away on a stretcher as he was unable to help himself. This was a show of strength of the sovereign God. To what extent they were real men or not, we do not know, but the effect was real on Heliodorus.