Matthew 14:9-12. “And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.”
Gruesome, isn’t it? I keep imagining this event, and it must have been horrible, indeed. All these people, partying with Herod; reclining on couches around the table, as was customary, drinking and eating, laughing, watching the entertainment. When Salome made her macabre request of Herod, I don’t know if a silence fell on the crowd or if they cheered and jeered.
In any event, Herod was sorry. Did you ever wonder about that? Sorry because he knew John was without fault? Sorry because he knew John didn’t deserve death? Or sorry because he feared the consequences? Indeed, he could have denied Salome’s request; however, there was some little idea of honor in him, because he had vowed with an oath that he would give her whatever she asked.
You know, it’s really not a good idea to make an open promise like that.
So he ordered John’s death. I’m thinking it may have been a relief to John. Being in prison back then was no pleasant experience. It would seem that the deed was done quickly, over with quickly. His head was placed on some sort of tray or platter and brought to Salome.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I would really have wanted to see a man’s head once it was disconnected from his body. Apparently, though, our Salome was a tough little cookie. She simply presented the “gift” to her mother. At this point, my imagination goes into overdrive.
What did Herodias do? Pat John’s head? Leave it sitting on the table in front of her? Laugh, mock, get up and do her own little happy dance? What a pair, Herodias and Salome.
John’s followers, grieving, took care of his body and took the news of his death to Jesus.