Herodias was a cruel queen who demanded and received the head of John the Baptist out of revenge. She was cruel, sexually perverse, determined to get what she wanted at any cost. The manipulative Herodias and her plotting worked and she managed to get her way and received the head of John the Baptist on a platter. She is still guilty of being in an adulterous marriage.

Matthew 14:1-11; Mark 6:14-29, Luke 3:19

Herodias was the daughter to Aristobulus who was the son of Herod the Great. She married her uncle Herod Philip also a son of Herod the Great. It was by Herod Philip and Herodias had a daughter, Salome. Herod Antipas visited Herodias (his niece) residence on his way to Rome. They were attracted to each other and Herodias agreed to marry him provided he would divorce his present wife, the daughter of Aretas IV, the Arabian king of Petra. (Elwell. 1988, 973).

When Herod Antipas, her husband’s half-brother, visited them he persuaded Herodias to divorce her husband and marry him ((Cheney. 2000, p. 584)). John the Baptist criticized their marriage (Matthew 14:3-5; Mark 6:17-18) because the Jewish law prohibited a man to marry his brother’s wife. “And if a man shall lie with his uncle’s wife, he hath uncovered his uncle’s nakedness: they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless. And if a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.” (Leviticus 20; 20-21).

Herodias must have longed for social distinction, selling out to the highest dealer and consequently left her husband and entered into an adulterous union with Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee, who was also her uncle. Herodias persuaded Herod Antipas to go to Rome in search of the royal title, as his claim to it was far greater than that of her brother. Instead of a crown, however, he found awaiting him a charge of treason against the Romans, with Agrippa, the brother of Herodias who became king, was the as chief accuser, who in advance had sent messengers to defeat the ambitious plans of Antipas. (Tierney, 1910).

Herodias can be blamed for the imprisonment of John the Baptist because he accused her and Herod the tetrarch, openly and even denounced their marriage. John the Baptist found fault with Herodias, Herod the tetrarch, and his brother Phillip for all the evils which Herod had done. (Matthew 14:3; Mark 6:17; Luke 3:19). The bitterness and hatefulness of Herodias toward John the Baptist did not end with him being thrown into prison. Herodias wanted John the Baptist dead.

Herodias plotted and waited for the perfect opportunity to have John the Baptist killed. Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly. When a convenient day had come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee. Herodias convinced her daughter that when Herod ask her to dance for him and his guest and he would offer her anything she wanted she was to ask for the head of John the Baptist. (Mark 6:19-24). The manipulative Herodias and her plotting worked and she managed to get her way and received the head of John the Baptist on a platter. (Mark 6: 28). It was the outspoken behavior of Herodias and the lack of decisiveness as well as the lust of Herod in his home and political position proves insensitive to their social norms. They both got what they wanted at the expense of the life of John the Baptist.

The sexual perversion displayed by Herodias is seen her unlawful marriage to Herod the tetrarch. This was not the first marriage of Herodias. She married Phillip the brother of Herod and had a child by him. Under Roman law, Herodias could initiate a divorce, but Jewish law forbade it. The marriage between Herodias and Herod break Jewish laws and pull apart the social norms, and this jeopardize the stability of the region. (Hoffeditz. 2005. P. 207-216).

The immoral sexual prevision continued up to the day Herod celebrated his birthday with a great banquets which involved excessive drinking and were seen as a Greco-Roman custom rather than a Jewish one. These celebrations were banned by the Jews. Herodias is the adulteress and schemer who uses her husband’s lust and her daughter’s sensuality to carry out her revenge on John the Baptist. Sexuality and seduction are important tools used in helping these this scheming woman to impose her will on others. Her chance came when Herodias’s daughter danced at a feast Herod gave, and the king profusely told the young woman to name her own reward. When she looked to her mother for advice, Herodias told her to ask for the head of John the Baptist. It was just one more manipulation that Herodias used to gain what she most sought after. She never thought about those people involved in her atrocious schemes.

The Bible describes Herodias, or any adulterous woman as going about her own way and consumes whatever they desire then blots them out claiming they have done no wickedness. There are three things the earth is disquieted, and for four which it cannot bear: a servant when he reigns; and a fool when he is filled with meat; and for an odious or hateful woman when she is married; and an handmaid that is heir to her mistress. (Proverbs 30:20-23).


Cheney, Emily. (2000). “Herodias” In , in Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, ed. David Noel Freedman, Allen C. Myers and Astrid B. Beck.Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.

Elwell, Walter A. and Barry J. Beitzel. (1988). Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.

Hoffeditz David M. and Yates, Gary E. (2005). “Femme Fatale Redux: Intertextual Connection to the Elijah/Jezebel Narratives in Mark 6:14ñ29” In , in Bulletin for Biblical Research, Vol. 15. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns.
Tierney, J. (1910). Herodias. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved October 2, 2013 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07292a.htm

Cite Article Source

MLA Style Citation:

Holstein, Joanne “Herodias:.” Becker Bible Studies Library Oct 2014.< https://guidedbiblestudies.com/?p=1468,>.

APA Style Citation:
Holstein, Joanne (2014, October) “Herodias:.” Becker Bible Studies Library. Retrieved from https://guidedbiblestudies.com/?p=1468,.

Chicago Style Citation:
Holstein, Joanne (2014) “Herodias:.” Becker Bible Studies Library (October), https://guidedbiblestudies.com/?p=1468, (accessed).

Joanne Holstein is a Becker Bible Studies Teacher and Author of Guided Bible Studies for Hungry Christians. She is a graduate of Psychology/Christian and Bible Counseling with Liberty University. She is well-known as a counselor to Christian faithful who are struggling with tremendous burden in these difficult times. She is a leading authority on historical development of Christian churches and the practices and beliefs of world religions and cults.

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