Summary: As much as he might have feared the ridicule or laughter of his cronies for not keeping the hasty vow, he now faced an even greater fear, because he thinks that Jesus is actually John returned from the dead!

January 6, 2003

The Most Evil Woman in the Bible

Mark 6:14-6:28


Today, we are going to look at one of the most evil women in the Bible.

Her name is the feminine form of Herod—it’s Herodias.

That was the title worn by the political rulers during the life and times of Jesus and the apostles.

Herod means heroic…but they were far more hellish than heroic.

She is the embodiment of the most despicable traits of this tyrannical ruling family.

Her story is found in Mark 6:14-28.

14 Herod Antipas, the king, soon heard about Jesus, because people everywhere were talking about him. Some were saying, "This must be John the Baptist come back to life again. That is why he can do such miracles."

15 Others thought Jesus was the ancient prophet Elijah. Still others thought he was a prophet like the other great prophets of the past.

16 When Herod heard about Jesus, he said, "John, the man I beheaded, has come back from the dead."

17 For Herod had sent soldiers to arrest and imprison John as a favor to Herodias. She had been his brother Philip’s wife, but Herod had married her.

18 John kept telling Herod, "It is illegal for you to marry your brother’s wife."

19 Herodias was enraged and wanted John killed in revenge, but without Herod’s approval, she was powerless.

20 And Herod respected John, knowing that he was a good and holy man, so he kept him under his protection. Herod was disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him.

21 Herodias’ chance finally came. It was Herod’s birthday, and he gave a party for his palace aides, army officers, and the leading citizens of Galilee.

22 Then his daughter, also named Herodias, came in, and performed a dance that greatly pleased them all. "Ask me for anything you like," the king said to the girl, "and I will give it to you."

23 Then he promised, "I will give you whatever you ask, up to half of my kingdom!"

24 She went out and asked her mother, "What should I ask for?" Her mother told her, "Ask for John the Baptist’s head!"

25 So the girl hurried back to the king and told him, "I want the head of John the Baptist, right now, on a tray!"

26 Then the king was very sorry, but he was embarrassed to break his oath in front of his guests.

27 So he sent an executioner to the prison to cut off John’s head and bring it to him. The soldier beheaded John in the prison,

28 brought his head on a tray, and gave it to the girl, who took it to her mother.


Herod the Great was king at the time of Jesus’ birth and he was responsible for the massacre of all the children, up to the age of 2, in Bethlehem and the surrounding towns [Matthew 2].

He married numerous times, but toward the end of his life, he became insanely suspicious, and he murdered member after member of his own family.

It was safer to be Herod’s dog than it was to be his son.

Herodias’ father Aristobulus, was one of Herod’s victims.

Herodias married her uncle Herod Philip, who was a half brother to her father.

He was not a political figure, but lived as a wealthy, private citizen in Rome and they had a daughter, named Salome.

When Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee and Peraea (Peraea is what the east bank of the Jordan River was called)—visited Rome, he was entertained by his half-brother Philip and his wife, Herodias.

But when it came time for Antipas to leave, he takes Herodias and her daughter with him.

He divorces his Arabian wife and makes Herodias the new queen.

It was a scandal that was discussed secretly among the people of Galilee.

But John the Baptist, God’s man, spoke out publically, and called it a sin.

In order to rid herself of John’s critical voice, Herodias used her own daughter to influence Antipas against John.

Her sexually provocative dance, before the drunken crowd at Herod’s birthday party did the job.

Herod drank too much, lusted too much, and promised too much and Herodias silences her critic—she has John beheaded!

Now, here is how we can apply Herodias’ story to our situation.

Our background and circumstances may influence who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.

She came from one of history’s worst families.

I would liken them to the Mafia of recent times.

I called the whole family "dysfunctional."

But dysfunctional practices can be stopped.

Women provide the stability for home and society.

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