Mark 6:21
And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee;
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(21-29) And when a convenient day was come.—See Notes on Matthew 14:6-12.

His lords, high captains, and chief estates.—St. Mark alone gives the account of the guests. The three words mean respectively—(1) the magnates, or officials of the court; (2) the chiliarchs, or chief captains (literally, captain of a thousand—the same word as in Acts 21:31; Acts 26:26) in the Roman legion; (3) the chief men (“estates” to modern ears is too formal a word), probably the large landowners of the province.

6:14-29 Herod feared John while he lived, and feared him still more when he was dead. Herod did many of those things which John in his preaching taught him; but it is not enough to do many things, we must have respect to all the commandments. Herod respected John, till he touched him in his Herodias. Thus many love good preaching, if it keep far away from their beloved sin. But it is better that sinners persecute ministers now for faithfulness, than curse them eternally for unfaithfulness. The ways of God are unsearchable; but we may be sure he never can be at a loss to repay his servants for what they endure or lose for his sake. Death could not come so as to surprise this holy man; and the triumph of the wicked was short.For Herod feared John - That is, he stood in awe of him on account of his sanctity, and his boldness and fearlessness in reproving sin.

Knowing that he was a just man and an Holy - A holy, pious, upright, honest man - a man who would not be afraid of him, or afraid to speak his real sentiments.

And observed him - Margin, "kept him, or saved him." This does not mean that he "observed" or obeyed his teachings, but that he kept him in safe custody in order to preserve him from the machinations of Herodias. He was willing to show his respect for John, and to secure him from danger, and even to do "many things" which might indicate respect for him - at least, to do so much as to guard him from his enemies.

And did many things - But he did not do the thing which was demanded of him - to break off from his sins. He attempted to make a compromise with his conscience. He still loved his sins, and did "other" things which he supposed might be accepted in the place of putting away, as he ought, the wife of his brother - the polluted and adulterous woman with whom he lived. Perhaps he treated John kindly, or spoke well of him, or aided him in his wants, and attempted in this way to silence his rebukes and destroy his faithfulness. This was probably before John was imprisoned. So sinners often treat ministers kindly, and do much to make them comfortable, and hear them gladly, while they are still unwilling to do the thing which is demanded of them - to repent and believe the gospel. They expect that their kind attentions will be accepted in the place of what God demands - repentance and the forsaking of their sins.

21. And when a convenient day—for the purposes of Herodias.

was come, that Herod—rather, "A convenient day being come, when Herod."

on his birthday, made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee—This graphic minuteness of detail adds much to the interest of the tragic narrative.

See Poole on "Mark 6:14"

And when a convenient day was come,.... For Herodias; who had long sought and watched for an opportunity of avenging herself on John, and such a time Herod's birthday proved; though some think, that this phrase is the same with , "a good day"; often used by the Jews for a festival, any one of their feast days; there is a tract in their Misna which bears this name; and that such a day was this. But not one of the festivals of the Jews was this, as either their passover, or pentecost, or feast of tabernacles, which Herod had no regard to; but his own birthday, which he kept as a festival, in eating, and drinking, and dancing; and so was a very opportune and seasonable time for Herodias to take the advantage of Herod when in a good humour, amidst his company, and in his cups, to solicit that, which she had often done without success: and so it was now,

that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee: this birthday, was either the day of his natural, or civil birth; the day when he was born into the world, or of his accession to the throne; See Gill on Matthew 14:6, when he made a grand entertainment in the evening for his nobles, and the officers of the army, the captains of thousands, and the principal men, those of the first rank and quality in Galilee, of which he was Tetrarch.

And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee;
Mark 6:21-29. The fatal day.

21. a convenient day] i. e. a suitable day for her fell designs.

on his birthday] In imitation of the Roman emperors, the Herodian princes kept their birthdays with feasting and revelry and magnificent banquets. Wieseler, however, considers the word denotes a feast celebrating Herod’s accession, but this is more than doubtful. Birthday festivals were one sample of foreign habits introduced into Palestine and spread there by the Herodians.

made a supper] probably at Machærus or some neighbouring palace.

lords, high captains] or “chiliarchs.” The words here used denote servants of the state, civil and military.

chief estates] This term denotes men of high rank, and includes the Galilæan nobles generally. Comp. Fuller Ch. Hist. V. iii. 28, “God never gave grace nor knowledge of Holy Scripture to any great estate or rich man.” State is also employed in the same way. Thus Adams says (Nichol’s Puritan Divines), “Sin deals with her guests as that bloody prince that, having invited many great states to a solemn feast.”

Mark 6:21. Γενεσίοις) Γενέσια, This is the genus: γενέθλια, the species. The latter denotes properly a birth-day feast [or celebration]; the former, any anniversary feast-day whatever; for instance, the anniversary of entering on a kingdom.—μεγιστᾶσιν, the great men) of the palace and of the court.—χιλιάρχοις, chief captains) of his soldiery.—τοῖς πρώτοις, the nobles) in provincial posts.

Mark 6:21Convenient (εὐκαίρον)

Mark only. Convenient for Herodias' purpose. "Opportune for the insidious woman, who hoped, through wine, lust, and the concurrence of sycophants, to be able easily to overcome the wavering mind of her husband" (Grotius in Meyer).


See on Matthew 14:6. The notice of the banquet and of the rank of the guests is peculiar to Mark.

Lords (μεγιστᾶσιν)

Only here, and Revelation 6:15; Revelation 18:23. A late word, from μέγας, great.

High captains (χιλιάρχοις)

Lit., commanders of a thousand men. Answering to a Roman military tribune. Both civil and military dignitaries were present, with other distinguished men of the district (chief men).

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