A little while back, we studied a real "bad girl" from the Bible . . . Jezebel. Remember her? She was pretty mean, and spiteful. She schemed to get her way, and didn't mind doing evil, horrible things.
This week, we will study a woman that was worse!
No fooling. Jezebel, at least, came to an end, and her godly nemesis lived on. For our bad girl this week, we'll see that she was instrumental in the death of the godly man who opposed her.
Truly one of the most evil women ever.
She was a princess with wild ambition -- she married a rich and powerful leader, but when a more wealthy and powerful leader came along, she dropped the first and married him!
Oops, I'm getting ahead of my story.
Let's look at the verses that tell us about Herodias:
This is an interesting passage in Mark; he has been telling us about the activities and ministry of Jesus, and he suddenly includes this "flashback." Apparently, Herod had been feeling guilty about his role in the death of John the Baptist, so when he heard of the miracles Jesus did, Herod jumped to the conclusion that John had come back to life, and was traveling around the region, preaching and performing miracles. Having mentioned that, Mark needed to give us the background for Herod's fear, so he outlines the story of John's death.
Alright, now who was Herodias? Well, her name is the feminine form of Herod, and that was the title worn by the political rulers during the times of Jesus and the apostles. It actually means "heroic" but they weren't usually living up to their names.
Remember Herod the Great, the one who was king when Jesus was born in Bethlehem? He was responsible for the murder of all of the children up to the age of two, in Bethlehem and all of the surrounding towns. He married numerous times, and toward the end of his life he became extremely suspicious. So suspicious that he murdered member after member of his own family.
Caesar in Rome commented that it was "safer to be Herod's pig than to be Herod's son." Oy vey. It is one of Herod the Great's sons that we are talking about now. Kinda seems like Antipas must have been pretty smart, or willing to do whatever he needed to do, in order to be alive. Herod's two brothers that challenged Herod the Great did not survive! But Herod Antipas did, along with two of his half-brothers: Herod Phillip and Herod Aristobulus, whose daughter was Herodias.
Herodias first married her uncle, Herod Phillip, and they had a daughter, Salome. But Herod Phillip just wasn't enough for her ambition, and she was ready to do anything to get what she wanted . . . so Herodias wanted to dump Phillip and marry his half-brother Herod Antipas -- he was way more powerful and a lot richer!
How did she accomplish it? Well, when Herod Antipas visited Rome, he was entertained by his half-brother Phillip and his wife, Herodias. Herodias must have made a play for him, because when it came time to leave, Antipas takes Herodias and Salome with him! He divorces his Arabian wife (instantly making an enemy on one of his borders, because her father was at peace with Antipas for the sake of their marriage) and he makes Herodias his new queen.
What a scandal! It was, as they say, the talk of the town (or region, actually). But God's man, John the Baptist, spoke out publicly, and denounced their actions as sin.
We'll study Herodias more next time. Hope you will rejoin us, for there is much to learn from this "bad girl" of the Bible!