- Tetrarch – Matthew calls Herod Antipas correctly as tetrarch which means ‘ruler of a fourth or one of four rulers. After the death of Herod the great, the kingdom was divided and was divided among his sons. Antipas was in control over
- The powers are at work in him: The powers allude to miraculous happenings. The mighty deeds done by Jesus are attributed to supernatural powers at work in John the Baptist ‘living again’ – based on the new powers granted to John after his resurrection from the dead.
- Herodias: She is not actually the wife of Philip. She was first married to a paternal – half uncle named Herod who she abandoned to marry another half-uncle Antipas. She was just waiting for a chance to take revenge on John the Baptist who was constantly rebuking her.
- It is not lawful: The law in question is Lev 18: 16 “You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife...” It is also on the ground of impropriety of divorce and remarriage.
- Herod’s Birthday: The banquet took place in Tiberius rather than Machaerus. According to Josephus the Historian, the daughter of Herodias is ‘Salome’. It seems she later married her uncle Philip the Tetrarch. That a Herodian princess should perform a dance in the setting of Herod’s birthday party seems odd. It is also believed that she was aged less than twelve.
Herod killed John the Baptist just for the sake of his ego. He did not want to reconsider the promise he gave to his daughter in the presence of his guest. What would have happened if he had denied the favour. At the most the guests might have made fun of him, Herodias would have frowned at him and the girl would have been given something else which would have really made her happy. But the human pride will never allow one to think. Our ego is capable of killing others even literally. This is a great lesson for all of us. Let us not sacrifice the nobler realities for the sake of empty pride.
Word Biblical Commentary
Sacra Pagina Series
The Pulpit Commentary