Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatever she would ask.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)He promised with an oath.—The scandalous chronicles of the time were not without stories of extravagant rewards paid to mimes and dancers, and Herod might fancy that in this also he was reproducing the magnificence of the imperial court at Rome. But he probably hardly expected “the half of his kingdom” (Mark 6:23) as the “whatsoever thou shalt ask.” A jewel, a bracelet, a palace, or a city, were probably in his thoughts as what she was likely to ask and he would gladly give.
To please a wanton girl, the monarch called the eternal God to witness his willingness to give her half his kingdom, Mark 6:23. It seems, also, that he was willing to shed the holiest blood it contained. An oath like this it was not lawful to make, and it should have been broken. See Matthew 14:9.
This is John the Baptist: he is risen from the dead, &c.—The murdered prophet haunted his guilty breast like a specter and seemed to him alive again and clothed with unearthly powers in the person of Jesus.
Account of the Baptist's Imprisonment and Death (Mt 14:3-12). For the exposition of this portion, see on Mr 6:17-29.Matthew 6:21-23, 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; and when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom. Those who have got over the point of lawfulness in an action, have nothing to consult but convenience: therefore saith Mark, when a convenient day was come, when probably Herod should be over merry with wine, or should be busy with his company, and not so much at leisure to consider what he did. It so happened that the daughter of this Herodias danced before Herod upon his birthday. The keeping of birthdays was usual amongst the eastern kings; Pharaoh kept his birthday, Genesis 40:20. Some by it understand the day of the prince’s coronation, or entrance upon his government, which some think is meant in Hosea 7:5, by the day of our king, (when) the princes made him sick with bottles of wine. The Jews reckoned them both amongst the pagan festivals, but they had derived both this and many other usages from them. Dancing was much used amongst them at their festivals, It seemeth this daughter of Herodias pleased Herod more than ordinary; he sweareth that he would give her what she would ask, to the half of his kingdom. That phrase, by Esther 5:3, seemeth to have been ordinary with princes when they made liberal promises.
to give her whatsoever she would ask; and then repeating it, he confirmed it with an oath; adding, as Mark says, that he would give it her, even "to the half of his kingdom": a way of speaking used by princes, when they give full power to persons to ask what they will of them; and to express their great munificence and liberality; signifying, let it be ever so great, or cost what it will, though as much as half a kingdom comes to, it shall be granted; see Esther 5:3. A very foolish promise, and a rash oath these, which were made upon such a consideration, as only a fine dance. If she, as Theophylact observes, had asked for his head, would he have given it her? And if he swore by his head, which was a common form of swearing with the Jews (u), she very appropriately, though unjustly, as Dr. Lightfoot observes, answers to him; as you have swore by your head, give me John Baptist's head.Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 14:7. ὡμολόγησεν, confessed by oath; obligation to keep a promise previously given. Cf. Mark 6:22, where the fact is more fully stated. The account in Matt. seems throughout secondary.Matthew 14:7. Ὡμολόγνσεν, promised, agreed) The girl had asked by dancing; and the king appears, even before this, to have been in the habit of giving her something on his birth-day.Verse 7. - Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.
Lit., confessed; conveying the idea of acknowledging the obligation of his oath. Salome had degraded herself to perform the part of an almeh or common dancer, and could claim her reward.
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