Matthew 14:8
And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger.
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(8) Being before instructed of her mother.—Better, being prompted, or instigated. The word does not imply that the girl had been instructed before she danced what to ask for, and St. Mark distinctly states (Mark 6:24) that she went out from the banquet-hall to ask her mother what use she was to make of the tetrarch’s promise. The mother’s absence shows that the supper was one for men only, and that it was among them, flushed as they were with wine, that the daughter had appeared in reckless disregard of all maiden modesty.

Matthew 14:8. And she, being before instructed of her mother — Namely, before she made her request: for, after the king had made her this promise, she immediately went forth and said to her mother, What shall I ask? And her mother, having now obtained the wished-for opportunity of executing her revenge, eagerly replied, Ask the head of John the Baptist; representing, no doubt, to her daughter, that he had attempted to expel and ruin them both; and that, considering the opinion which the king still entertained of him, he might some time or other, though in irons, regain Herod’s favour and accomplish his design; for which reason, the opportunity of taking his life was not to be neglected, if she regarded her own safety. These, or such like arguments, wrought up the young lady to such a pitch, that she not only consented to do as she was bidden, but became hearty in the cause: for, Mark 6:25, she came in straightway with haste, Greek, ευθεως μετα σπουδης, immediately with eagerness; and while all the guests sat mute, expecting what mighty thing would be asked, she demanded the holy Baptist’s head, as of greater value to her than the half of the kingdom. Give me here — Fearing if the king had time to consider, he would not do it; John Baptist’s head in a charger Επι πινακι, a large dish, or bowl. And the king was sorry — Knowing that John was a good man; yet, for the oath’s sake, &c. So he murdered an innocent man for mere tenderness of conscience! Such was the tenderness of the consciences of those Jewish rulers, who, while they were using their utmost efforts to take away, by a most unjust and cruel process, the life of Christ, yet scrupled going into the judgment-hall of Pilate, lest they should be defiled! But Herod was influenced also by a regard for those who sat with him at meat. Doubtless he was unwilling to appear either rash, or fickle, or false before them, as they were probably the first persons of his kingdom for rank and character. Thus out of a misplaced regard to his oath and his guests, this king committed a most unjust and cruel action, which will ever reflect the greatest dishonour upon his memory.

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.Being before instructed of her mother - Not before she danced, but afterward, and before she made the request of Herod.

See Mark 6:24. The only appearance of what was right in the whole transaction was her honoring her mother by consulting her, but in this she only intended to accomplish the purposes of wickedness more effectively.

In a charger - The original word means a large platter on which food is placed. We should have supposed that she would have been struck with abhorrence at such a direction from her mother; but she seems to have been gratified. John, by his faithfulness, had offended the whole family, and here was ample opportunity for an adulterous mother and her dissolute child to gratify their resentment. It was customary for princes to require the heads of persons ordered for execution to be brought to them. For this there were two reasons:

1. To gratify their resentment - to feast their eyes on the proof that their enemy was dead; and,

2. To ascertain the fact that the sentence had been executed.

There is a similar instance in Roman history of a woman requiring the head of an enemy to be brought to her. Agrippina, the mother of Nero, who was afterward emperor, sent an officer to put to death Lollia Paulina, who had been her rival for the imperial dignity. When Lollia's head was brought to her, not knowing it at first, she examined it with her own hands until she perceived some particular feature by which the lady was distinguished.

2. And said unto his servants—his counsellors or court-ministers.

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 [1301]Mr 6:17-29.

Mark, Mark 6:24,25, reports it more largely: And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist. And she came in straightway with haste to the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist. The meaning is plain, so as the words need no interpreter: they let us see;

1. The power of the lust of malice and desire of revenge; surely Herodias might have prompted her to have asked something which might have done her more good than the blood of a holy and innocent man. The guilty soul is never at rest. John Baptist was a prisoner; she should not need have feared the influence of John’s word to have caused a divorce, but she cannot be at rest while John is alive.

2. The great evil of wicked parents, and the contrary blessing of parents fearing God: the former, by commanding or persuading their children to sin, are great instruments towards their children’s damnation; the other, by their admonitions, precepts and instructions, great instruments of their salvation and eternal happiness.

3. We may observe the genius of flattering courtiers, not one of them interposes to save the Baptist’s life.

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.

And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger.
Matthew 14:8. προβιβασθεῖσα: not “before instructed,” as in A. V[87], but “brought to this point”; urged on. It should require a good deal of “educating” to bring a young girl to make such a grim request. But she had learnt her lesson well, and asked the Baptist’s head, as if she had been asking a favourite dish (ὡς περί τινος ἐδέσματος διαλεγομένη, Chrys., Hom. xlviii.). Kypke cites two instances of the rare use of the word in the sense of instruction.—ὧδε here and now, on the spot, ἐξαυτῆς in Mk. That was an essential part of the request. No time must be left for repentance. If not done at once under the influence of wine and the momentary gratification given by the voluptuous dance, it might never be done at all. This implies that the Baptist was at hand, therefore that the feast was at Machaerus, where there was a palace as well as a fortress.

[87] Authorised Version.

8. instructed] Rather, impelled, instigated.

a charger] The original word = “a flat wooden trencher” on which meat was served. This appears to have been the meaning of the old English word “charger,” which is connected with cargo and with French charger, and signified originally that on which a load is placed, hence a dish.

Matthew 14:8. Προβιβασθεῖσα, being before instructed) i.e. before she asked.—ὧδε, here) Before the king could repent.—πίνακι, in a charger) which perhaps she held in her hand. The ungodly know how to propose the most horrible things with elegance of language and sweetness of sound.

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. Matthew 14:8Being before instructed (προβιβασθεῖσα)

Wyc., monestid, with warned in explanation. Both wrong. Rev., rightly, being put forward. Compare Acts 19:33, where the right meaning is, they pushed Alexander forward out of the crowd; and not as A. V., drew out. The correct rendering slightly relieves Salome of the charge of wanton cruelty, and throws it wholly upon Herodias.

Here (ὧδε)

She demanded it on the spot, before Herod should have had time to reflect and relent; the more so, as she knew his respect for John (compare was sorry, Matthew 14:9). The circumstances seem to point to Machaerus itself as the scene of the banquet; so that the deed could be quickly done, and the head of the Baptist delivered while the feast was still in progress.

In a charger (ἐπὶ πίνακι)

The Revisers cannot be defended in their retention of this thoroughly obsolete word. A charge is originally a burden; and a charger something loaded. Hence, a dish. Wyc., dish. Tynd., platter.

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