|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
14:1-12 The terror and reproach of conscience, which Herod, like other daring offenders, could not shake off, are proofs and warnings of a future judgment, and of future misery to them. But there may be the terror of convictions, where there is not the truth of conversion. When men pretend to favour the gospel, yet live in evil, we must not favour their self-delusion, but must deliver our consciences as John did. The world may call this rudeness and blind zeal. False professors, or timid Christians, may censure it as want of civility; but the most powerful enemies can go no further than the Lord sees good to permit. Herod feared that the putting of John to death might raise a rebellion among the people, which it did not; but he never feared it might stir up his own conscience against him, which it did. Men fear being hanged for what they do not fear being damned for. And times of carnal mirth and jollity are convenient times for carrying on bad designs against God's people. Herod would profusely reward a worthless dance, while imprisonment and death were the recompence of the man of God who sought the salvation of his soul. But there was real malice to John beneath his consent, or else Herod would have found ways to get clear of his promise. When the under shepherds are smitten, the sheep need not be scattered while they have the Great Shepherd to go to. And it is better to be drawn to Christ by want and loss, than not to come to him at all.
Verse 8. - And she, being before instructed; being put forward (Revised Version); προβιβασθεῖσα (Acts 19:33, Received Text; Deuteronomy 6:7, LXX.). The word implies that the girl herself would not have thought of it, and perhaps that she had at first some little reluctance. But if so, it was soon over, for she came back "in haste" (Mark). Of her mother. St. Mark explains that she left the room to ask her mother. Said, Give me. This is the gift I want. Here. And evidently at once. The word excludes the possibility of the feast being in Tiberias, if John was slain at Machaerus, as the passage in Josephus states (cf. Matthew 3:1, note). There is no very great difficulty in supposing the chief men of Galilee, etc. (Mark), to have gone as far as Machaerus to pay their respects to Herod and to partake of the feast, but whether the statement in Josephus is accurate, and how, if it be so, it is to be reconciled with the preceding statement that Machaerus belonged to Aretas, are questions not easily answered (see Schurer, I. 2:26). John Baptist's head in a charger; in a charger the head of John the Baptist (Revised Version). She defines here still more closely (ῶδε ἐπὶ πίνακι), and then states her request. On the form of her demand for John's death, Chrysostom says that she wished to see his tongue lying there silent, for she did not merely long to be freed from his reproaches, but to insult and jeer him (ἐπιβῆναι καὶ ἐπιτωθάσαι κειμένᾳ). Charger. A wooden trencher.
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And she being before instructed of her mother,.... What request to make; for as Mark says, "she went forth" to her mother immediately, as soon as she had received the king's promise, and took advice of her, what she should ask; who bid her ask for the head of John the Baptist; and accordingly she went in, "straightway with haste unto the king", as the same evangelist observes, to take him at his word, and whilst he was in the mood; being urged and hastened on by her mother, who was eager to satisfy her revenge on John; and said,
give me here John Baptist's head in a charger: she desires his head, and this to be brought to her in a large dish, that her mother might be sure of his death; and have an opportunity of insulting that mouth and tongue, that had spoke against her incestuous marriage: and she desires to have it given "here", in that very place, at that very time, where, and while the company was together, who were witnesses of the king's promise and oath; and this she did, lest when the festival was over, and he was out of his cups, he should repent of his folly and rashness. The mother and daughter seem to be much alike, both for lasciviousness, revenge, and cruelty: and if what the historian says (w) be true, that this same person Salome, the daughter of Herodias, as she walked over a river which was frozen in the winter season, the ice broke, and she fell in, and the pieces of ice cut off her head; the "lex talionis", the law of retaliation, was righteously executed on her.
(w) Nicephorus, Hist. l. 1. c. 20.
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