Matthew 14:1
At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus
Sermons
The Martyrdom of JohnAlexander MaclarenMatthew 14:1
Herod's HypothesisW.F. Adeney Matthew 14:1, 2
A ChargerJ. MorisonMatthew 14:1-11
A Court PreacherE. Bersier, D. D.Matthew 14:1-11
Blundering WickednessW. V. Kelley.Matthew 14:1-11
Bold in ReproofGurnall.Matthew 14:1-11
Compromising Court PreachersE. Bersier, D. D.Matthew 14:1-11
Conscience a PreacherH. B. Hooker, D. D.Matthew 14:1-11
Conscience a TormentorBishop Hall.Matthew 14:1-11
Conscience and the Moral LawT. Sherlock, D.D.Matthew 14:1-11
Conscience in Defiance of Sceptical DecrialDr. Thomas.Matthew 14:1-11
Conscience-FearsH. R. Haweis.Matthew 14:1-11
ContrastVernon W. Hutting, B. A.Matthew 14:1-11
DancingBishop Hall.Matthew 14:1-11
Dislike of Faithful RebukeMatthew 14:1-11
Faithful PrelatesJohn Trapp.Matthew 14:1-11
Fidelity Often ProvokesM. Henry.Matthew 14:1-11
Head in a ChargerMatthew 14:1-11
Herod a HypocriteBishop Hall.Matthew 14:1-11
Herod, a Man Governed by FearJ. P. Norris.Matthew 14:1-11
Herod; Or, the Power of ConscienceT. Kelly.Matthew 14:1-11
Herod's BirthdayJohn Trapp.Matthew 14:1-11
Herod's Marriage with HerodiasMatthew 14:1-11
Herod's OathJ. Morison, D. D.Matthew 14:1-11
Herod's Sorrow At Death of the BaptistJohn Trapp.Matthew 14:1-11
Influence of BallsS. S. Teacher's JournalMatthew 14:1-11
Known by Our PleasuresBishop Hall.Matthew 14:1-11
Like Mother, Like DaughterJohn Trapp.Matthew 14:1-11
Martyrdom of John BaptistS. W. Skeffington, M. A.Matthew 14:1-11
Monarchs Subject to LawJ. Morison.Matthew 14:1-11
Need of Ministerial FaithfulnessH. Smith.Matthew 14:1-11
Reproving the RichD. Thomas, D. D.Matthew 14:1-11
Salome's Death RetributiveDean Plumptre.Matthew 14:1-11
The Church Built and Enlarged by Humble But Heroic Fidelity to TruthE. Bersier, D. DMatthew 14:1-11
The Dead Prophet Yet AliveW. V. Kelley.Matthew 14:1-11
The Last Struggle of ConscienceDean Plumptre.Matthew 14:1-11
The Rewards and Punishment of Religion are in the Present as Well as in the FutureT. Sherlock, D.D.Matthew 14:1-11
The Terrors of ConscienceF. Atterbury.Matthew 14:1-11
Troubled ConscienceBishop Hall.Matthew 14:1-11
Wounds of ConscienceF. Atterbury.Matthew 14:1-11
John's DeathMarcus Dods Matthew 14:1-12
The Morals of a TragedyJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 14:1-12
The Ruin of Reckless RashnessP.C. Barker Matthew 14:1, 2, 3-5, 6-12


Men's minds were much perplexed about the wonderful life of the new Prophet, and various theories were started to explain it. Here we have the king's hypothesis. This has something in common with the other suggestions, and also a peculiar aptness in regard to Herod himself.

I. IT IS NOT EASY TO ACCOUNT FOR JESUS CHRIST. The very variety of the theories shows that the problem was not solved at a glance. It was evident to his contemporaries that our Lord was no ordinary man. And yet these people saw little more than his outer life. The teaching of his apostles and the revelation of Christ in his Church have brought out far greater marvels in his nature. It we accept him and his claims, his Divine nature and mission will explain all. But if we reject him we have still to account for him. And just here is the great difficulty for all unbelievers. It is not enough for them to urge certain objections against the Christian position. Christ remains the wonder of all history. How could the carpenter of Nazareth live and teach and work and revolutionize the world as Jesus did if he was only a village artisan?

II. MEN VAINLY TRY TO EXPLAIN THE NEW BY THE OLD. Herod thinks of the one great man whom he has known. Others recall the historic figures of Hebrew prophecy (Matthew 16:14). In all this there is no idea that God is surpassing antiquity; that he is making a new start with a greater revelation and glory than anything yet witnessed on earth. It was difficult to understand Jesus Christ - in part, because he was not a repetition of antiquity. So long as there was no idea of a new work of God, the New Testament gospel could not be entertained. The same mistake was made later and in another way by those Jewish Christians who wished to limit Christianity by tying it to the ordinances of the old Law; and the old mistake is repeated today by those who think that Christ must be explained by what we know of the ordinary workings of human lives and characters.

III. THE GUILTY CONSCIENCE INVENTS ITS OWN TORMENTOR. Herod's hypothesis is the creation of his conscience. The stain of blood is on his soul, and it colours all his thoughts. He is a murderer, and he is haunted by suspicions of the return of his victim. He cannot silence the voice of the faithful prophet. Although he has shut him up in a dungeon, although at the instigation of his wicked wife he has lawlessly murdered him, he cannot forget him, cannot elude his warning voice. There is no escape from the guilt and consequences of sin, except by the narrow door of repentance. A king may be a slave to the terrors of his own evil conscience.

IV. THE REJECTION OF CHRISTIAN TRUTH IS OFTEN ACCOMPANIED BY THE ACCEPTANCE OF A FOOLISH SUPERSTITION. Herod could not bring himself to accept the claim of Christ; yet he was willing to believe in a most extraordinary alternative. In early ages multitudes who rejected the Christian gospel yielded to the spell of ridiculous charlatans in the profession of magic. Today we see the negation of the gospel accompanied by a ready belief in what is called "spiritualism." There is no superstition so abject as the superstition of scepticism. It is the greatest mistake to suppose that the unbeliever is always walking in the white light of reason. Christian faith is the true way of escape from unchristian superstition. To believe in Christ as the Son of God who has risen from the dead is the best security for intellectual sanity in religion. - W.F.A.









Herod the tetratch heard of the fame of Jesus.
Herod is favourable to John, how could he be more unfortunate than to strike in the face the king who protects him? Is not the confidence of Herod an indication of the providence of God, not to be cast aside? This is what Court preachers of almost all epochs say to themselves. Moses was taught at the Court of Pharaoh, but said to the King, "Let the people of God go." John says to Herod, "It is not lawful."

I. HIS FIDELITY. He might have taken another means of fulfilling his mission, completely saving his life. He might have aroused the people against the King, and have made himself a popular hero. That is the protestation which God demands, not noisy indignation, but that humble and firm testimony in the presence of evil. But you suffer for your frankness; but who has found the secret of loving truly without suffering. False love always seeks itself; it will not alienate a heart to save it. True love, which seeks the good of others, and not its own interest, consents to be forgotten, sacrificed.

II. THE RECOMPENSE OF THIS FIDELITY. Life for us so easy and for the old saints so terrible; we are tempted to accuse God of inexplicable severity. John dead! are you sure? Ask the authors of the crime. Herod sees him haunting him everywhere. Dead! — one cannot die when one has served God. To-day John speaks to us, his example has cheered our souls. Dead! no, in the cause which he has served nothing is useless, and if the most obscure devotion does not lose its recompense, what will be the recompense of a martyrdom such as his? Dead! but is that dying, to go to rejoin those who were witnesses of God on earth. "Let me die the death of the righteous," etc.

(E. Bersier, D. D.)

It is from similar devotedness that the Church has been able to arise and enlarge. When you see glittering in the air some massive cathedral, which remains standing as a testimony to the faith of past generations, think, then, of the blocks buried in the depths of the ground. None look to see them, but without those layers the edifice would fall at the first gust of a storm. Well, if to-day there is in the world a Christian Church, if there is a refuge accessible to all the sorrows of earth, an asylum where the soul escapes for ever from the oppressions of this world, a spiritual home where faith, hope, and love abide for ever; if we ourselves have been able to find there a place; it is certain that at its base there are acts of devotion without number, obscure deaths, unknown sufferings, silent sacrifices, which none can count.

(E. Bersier, D. D)

Who knows now but that the favour of the monarch is a providential arrangement by God, for the furtherance of His Truth? Will you go, and by an early and unseasonable speech overthrow the designs of God:" Yes, my brethren, this is that which Court preachers of almost all epochs say to themselves. This is that which was said at the Court of Constantine, and thus it was that that emperor was deified who murdered his own son. Alas! this is that which was said in the sixteenth century, at the Court of Henry VIII., while that monarch stained the English Reformation with his disgraceful profligacy. This is that which was said at the Court of Philip of Hesse, and it was thus that Luther, in a day of weakness, covered, with a cowardly compromise, the profligacies of that prince. This is that which was said at the Court of Louis XIV., and it was thus that Bossuet, so implacable upon this point against Luther himself, had scarcely a courageous word, in presence of scandals far more crying still. This is how Massillon reassured himself at the Regent's Court. This is how, upon the free soil of America, in the face of slavery and of all the infamy which accompanied it, some thousands of ministers of the gospel remained a long time silent, or only spoke so peaceably that a clap of thunder might have come to startle their sleeping consciences. Ah! deplorable allurement of the favour of the world! That is why dishonoured Religion has had some Te Deum for every fortunate action of power, some absolutions for all scandals, and why to-day it is miserably compromised in all the complications of human politics, when, alone, and without other support than its very truth, it would have, perhaps, brought over the world to Jesus Christ.

(E. Bersier, D. D.)

Herod had a motive which shut our all reason and argument. It was his guilty conscience told him this was John the Baptist. The use I make of this passage is to set before you such considerations as naturally arise from it, and are proper for the direction and government of ourselves.

I. OBSERVE THE GREAT FORCE AND EFFICACY OF CONSCIENCE. The fears which surround the guilty are so many undoubted proofs and records of the Judge's authority.

II. THIS MORAL LAW IS PROMULGATED TO EVERY RATIONAL CREATURE: the work of the Law is written in the heart. The rebukes of conscience will sooner or later restore the true sense to the Law, which was darkened by the shades of false reason serving the inclinations of a corrupted heart.

III. WHAT CARE THE WISE AUTHOR OF OUR BEING HAS TAKEN, NOT ONLY TO MANIFEST HIMSELF AND HIS LAWS TO US, but likewise to secure our obedience, and thereby our eternal happiness and welfare.

(T. Sherlock, D.D.)

It is thought a great disadvantage to religion that it has only such distant hopes and fears to support it; and it is true that the great objects of our hopes and fears are placed on the ether side of the grave, whilst the temptations to sin meet us in every turn. and are almost constantly present with us. But then to balance this it must be considered that though the punishments and rewards of religion are at such a distance, yet the hopes and fears are always present, and influence the happiness of our lives here, as much, and often much more, than any other good or evil which can befall us. The peace of mind which flows from doing right, the fear, anxiety, the torments which attend the guilty, will inevitably determine the condition of men to happiness or misery in our life.

(T. Sherlock, D.D.)

The state of the wicked is a very restless one. The wildness and inconsistency of Herod's imagination.

I. THE REPROACHES OF CONSCIENCE UNAVOIDABLE, proved from

(1)Scripture;

(2)Reason;

(3)Experience. Tales of ghosts and spectres accounted for upon this principle.

II. To ACCOUNT FOR THE DIFFICULTIES THAT ATTEND THE PROOF OF THIS PROPOSITION, it is to be observed —

1. That our judgments often mislead us when they are formed only upon the outside and surface of men's actions.

2. That the reprehensions of conscience are not a continued, but intermitting, disease.

3. The few instances of wicked men that go out of the world without feeling the stings of conscience, to be ascribed either to ill principles early and deeply imbibed, or to an obstinacy of temper, or to a natural and acquired stupidity. These only prove that there are monsters in the moral, as well as in the natural world, but make nothing against the settled laws of either applications. Even for pleasure's sake we ought to abstain from all criminal pleasures. It is the best way to secure peace to ourselves by having it always in our consciences. Let those chiefly listen to this reprover who are otherwise set in great measure above reproof.

(F. Atterbury.)

Whatever doth violence to the plain dictates of our reason concerning virtue and vice, duty and sin, will as certainly discompose and afflict our thoughts as a wound will raise a smart in the flesh that receives it.

(F. Atterbury.)

I. HE IS AN EXAMPLE OF HOW COWARDICE, SUPERSTITION, AND CRUELTY NATURALLY GO TOGETHER.

1. Fear of his bad wife leads him to imprison John.

2. Fear of the multitude stays him from killing him.

3. Fear of his oath and fear of ridicule drive him to carry out a vow which it was wicked to make, and tenfold more wicked to keep.

4. Fear of a bad conscience makes him tremble lest Jesus should prove to be John risen from the dead to trouble him.

II. ONLY WHEN JESUS IS BROUGHT BOUND BEFORE HIM, AND IS SURROUNDED BY HIS MEN OF WAR, DOES THE COWARD GAIN COURAGE TO MOCK HIM.

(J. P. Norris.)

I.There can be no dispute that he is lawfully in office.

II.He has been long in office.

III.This preacher never lacks clearness of discrimination.

IV.Boldness is another characteristic of this preacher.

V.Awakening.

VI.Preaches everywhere.

VII.And as for effectiveness, wizen has this preacher been surpassed?

VIII.Benevolent.

IX.Will never stop preaching.

1. All other preaching can be effective only as it harmonizes with that of this preacher.

2. Shall the everlasting ministrations of this preacher be to us a blessing or a curse?

(H. B. Hooker, D. D.)

I. Conscience will not be silenced by wealth or earthly surroundings.

II. A guilty conscience is troubled with not only real, but imaginary, troubles.

III. A guilty conscience will torment a sinner in spite of his avowed scepticism.

(T. Kelly.)

A man will give himself up to the gallows twenty years after the treacherous stroke. Nero was haunted by the ghost of his mother, whom he had put to death. Caligula suffered from want of sleep — he was haunted by the faces of his murdered victims. We can still see the corridors recently excavated on the Palatine Hill. We can walk under the vaulted passages where his assassins met him. "Often weary with lying awake," writes Suetonius, "sometimes he sat up in bed, at others walked in the longest porticos about the house, looking out for the approach of day." You may see the very spot where his assassins waited for him round the corner. Domitian had those long wails cased with clear agate. The mark of the slabs may still be seen. The agate reflected as in a glass any figure that might be concealed round an angle, so that a surprise was impossible. It is said that Theodoric, after ordering the decapitation of Lysimachus, was haunted in the middle of his feasts by the spectre of a gory head upon a charger. And how often must a nobler head than that of Lysimachus have haunted a more ignoble prince than Theodoric as he sat at meat and muttered shudderingly aside, "It is John whom I beheaded!"

(H. R. Haweis.)

Herod was a Sadducee; he appears to have been the avowed patron and protector of that sect which believed neither in the existence of spirit, whether angels, men, or devils. Yet see how the conscience of Herod crushes his creed to pieces; though he believed not in the resurrection of the dead, yet he feared that John had risen from the dead; though he despised the idea of hell as a fable, and as a bugbear, he felt within him all the horrors of Gehenna, the gnawings of a "worm that dieth not," the scorchings of a "fire that is not quenched." Men may try to believe that there is no existence beyond the grave; they may write upon the sepulchre, "Death is an eternal sleep"; these flimsy pretences burst through them like a river rushing through a mound of sand, or a roaring lion through a spider's web.

(Dr. Thomas.)

History tells of similar instances of barbarity. Mark Antony caused the heads of these whom he had. proscribed to be brought to him while he was at table, and entertained himself by looking at them. Cicero's head being one of those brought, he ordered it to be placed on the very tribune whence Cicero had spoken against him. Agrippina, the mother of Nero, sent an officer to kill Lollia Paulina, her rival for the throne. When her head was brought, she examined it with her hands, till she discovered some mark by which the lady had been distinguished.

Though Herod thought good to set a face on it to strangers, unto whom it was not safe to bewray his fear; yet to his domestics he freely discovered his thoughts; "This is John Baptist." The troubled conscience will many a time open that to familiars, which it hides from the eyes of others. Shame and fear meet together in guiltiness.

(Bishop Hall.)

There was a foolish law among the Lacedaemonians, that none should tell his neighbour any ill news which had befallen him, but every one should be left to find it out for themselves. There are many who would be glad if there was a law that could tie up ministers' months from scaring them with their sins; most are more offended with the talk of hell than troubled for that sinful state that should bring them thither. But when shall ministers have a fitter time to tell sinners of their dangers, if not now, for the time cometh when no more offers of love can be done for them.

(H. Smith.)

A minister without boldness is like a smooth file. a knife without an edge, a sentinel that is afraid to let off his gun. If men will be bold in sin, ministers must be bold to reprove.

(Gurnall.)

A wicked man needs no other tormentor, especially for the sins of blood, than his own heart. Revel, O Herod, and feast and frolic; and please thyself with" dances, and triumphs, and pastimes: thy sin shall be as some Fury, that shall invisibly follow thee, and scourge thy guilty heart with secret lashes, and upon all occasions shall begin thy hell within thee.

(Bishop Hall.)

Is there a worldly-minded man, that lives in some known sin, yet makes much of the preacher, frequents the church, talks godly, looks demurely, carries fair? Trust him not; he will prove, after his pious fits, like some testy horse, which goes on some paces readily and eagerly, but anon either stands still, or falls to flinging and plunging, and never leaves till he have cast his rider.

(Bishop Hall.)

S. S. Teacher's Journal.
I was employing a very respectable woman a few days to do some work for me, and one evening she said to me, "You must please to let me off earlier to-night, ma'am; I'm going to the bail." "To the ball," I exclaimed in amazement, "to the ball!" "Yes," she said: "I am at all the balls." I could not understand her; for, never going to such places myself, I am somewhat ignorant of what goes on. So she added, "I am keeper of the china. and am tea-maker; so I am obliged to be there; and I shall not get to bed before six o'clock to-morrow morning. Oh ma'am!" she burst out, "it's a dreadful life! I have seen young ladies, when they first came to this town, looking so bright, their cheeks so rosy, their eyes so dancing with joy; and before the winter was over I have not known them, they looked so old and pale and haggard and miserable."

(S. S. Teacher's Journal.)

Dancing. in itself, as it is a set, regular harmonious motion of the body, cannot be unlawful, more than walking or running. Circumstances may make it sinful. The wanton gesticulations of a virgin, in a wild assembly of gallants warmed with wine, could be no other than riggidh and unmaidenly.

(Bishop Hall.)

There cannot be a better glass, wherein to discern the face of our hearts, than our pleasures; such as they are, such are we; whether vain or holy.

(Bishop Hall.)

I. HEROD IN HIS FIRST ACT MOVES TOO LATE. Herod imprisoned John, intending a crushing blow against the good cause; but it was ineffectual. He was powerless to hinder John's work. That work was done, and not to be undone. His influence was already abroad in the air. His words were pricking the hearts of thousands. Herod could not arrest this, any more than he could lock up the atmosphere within prison bars.

II. Even if Herod could have stopped the revolution HE HAD SEIZED THE WRONG MAN. John had passed over the leadership to his chief. The Messiah was spreading His truth in the villages, to the northward, out of reach.

III. In bringing John to his castle to confront his royal authority, he only gives the fearless prophet A CHANCE TO COME TO CLOSE QUARTERS WITH HIM. The ruler furnished a great opportunity to God's prophet and he took it.

IV. INCONTINENT DEPRAVITY REELS THROUGH REVELRY TO BLOOD-GUILTINESS. Poor and comfortless is evil's triumph.

(W. V. Kelley.)

The prophet's voice is not silenced by the executioner's hand, but sounds on in the guilty, haunted soul. John troubles Herod more now than when he was alive. The prisoner does not stay down in the dungeon any more, but rooms with Herod, sits spectral at the Tetrarch's feasts, makes festival doleful as funeral, wakes him in the night, and keeps saying unpleasant things on the inner side of his ear-drum.

(W. V. Kelley.)

Learn from this —

I. THAT IF WE FAITHFULLY DO OUR DUTY, WE MUST BE PREPARED TO SUFFER FOR IT. John would have received many marks of favour and acts of kindness from Herod, if only he would have kept silence on one subject; because he dared not be silent, he met with prison and death. So with us. If we are really in earnest in serving God, Satan will be sure to stir up some opposition against us. These hindrances are the tests of our faithfulness.

II. THAT GOD'S GRACE IS ALWAYS SUFFICIENT. The Baptist's life and death were lonely; but, though separated from Jesus in the body, he was nearer to Him in spirit than the multitude which thronged Him. It is blessed to be constantly in God's house, to live in an atmosphere of Divine consolation; but it is even more blessed to be content if, through no fault of our own, we are deprived of this: nothing can take away from us the satisfaction of reposing our soul simply upon the will of God.

III. THAT DEATH MAY BE VIEWED NOT WITH HORROR BUT WITH JOY. Herodias sought to wreak cruel vengeance on John; she did but release him from a weary imprisonment, and open the door to his eternal bliss. If only we are ready for death. can death come too soon? It is the door of release from storm and cloud, sorrow and sin.

(S. W. Skeffington, M. A.)

(1) the fearlessness of the witness to the truth, with the fickleness of the truckler to public opinion;(2) the true consistency which adheres unswervingly to the truth and does not shrink from bearing testimony at all hazards and against all transgressors, with that false consistency which holds to a sinful promise rather than own itself to be in the wrong;(3) the external fortunes in this world of the friends and the enemies of the truth; its enemies feasting in pomp, and carrying out unchecked their own wicked will, while its friends lie solitary in a dungeon or are cruelly murdered;(4) their spiritual and eternal condition the witness-bearer passing from prison to rest and peace, the blasphemer going on from one enormity to another, and finally going down to his own place.

(Vernon W. Hutting, B. A.)

The marriage was unlawful for three reasons.

1. The former husband of Herodias, Philip, was still living. This is expressly asserted by Josephus.

2. The former wife of Antipas was still living, and had fled to her father, Aretas, on hearing of his intention to marry Herodias.

3. Antipas and Herodias were already related to one another within the forbidden degrees of consanguinity.

Lais broke her looking-glass because it showed the wrinkles on her face. Man; men are angry with those who tell them their faults, when they should be angry with the faults that are told them.

A somewhat capacious platter, often made of silver, which was charged or loaded with meat at banquets. The sight of the Baptist's head would be a feast to Herodias and her daughter.

(J. Morison)

How different a part did John act from that of the judges of Persia in the times of Cambyses. That madman of a monarch wished to marry his sister; and he demanded of the judges whether there were any Persian law that would sanction such a marriage. They pusillanimously answered that they could find no such law. but they found another — that the monarch of Persia was at liberty to do whatsoever he pleased.

(J. Morison.)

It is not uncommon for men to reprove the poor and the humble in society for their offences, but it is a rare virtue to charge crime, with unflinching fidelity, upon the higher classes. The poor are lectured on all hands, and the most contemptible clap-traps are adopted to catch their ear. But where are the Johns to lecture the rich and the royal, the Herods?

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Faithful rebukes, if they do not profit, usually provoke.

(M. Henry.)

So Latimer presented for a new-year's gift to King Henry VIII., a New Testament, with a napkin, having this posy about it. "Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge." Archbishop Grindal lost Queen Elizabeth's favour, and was confined, for favouring prophecies. etc., as it was pretended; but in truth, for condemning an unlawful marriage of Julio, an Italian physician, with another man's wife.

(John Trapp.)

A mere plot. A great feast must be prepared, the states invited, the damsel must dance, the king swear, the Baptist thereupon he beheaded, that the queen may be gratified. And this tragedy was new acted at Paris. A.D. 1572, when the French massacre was committed under pretence of a wedding royal.

(John Trapp.)

Neither good bird nor good egg. Such another hussy as this was dame Alice Pierce, a concubine to our Edward III. For when, as at a parliament in the fiftieth year of that king's reign, it was petitioned that the Duke of Lancaster, the Lord Latimer, chamberlain, and this dame Alice. might be removed from court, and the petition was vehemently urged by Sir Peter la Mare; this knight afterwards, at the suit of that impudent woman, was committed to perpetual imprisonment at Nottingham. And another such history we have of one Diana Valentina. mistress to Henry II., King of France. whom she had so subdued. that he gave her all the confiscations of goods made in the kingdom for cause of heresy. Whereupon many were burned in France for religion, as they said, but indeed to maintain the pride and satisfy the covetousness of that lewd woman.

(John Trapp.)

Were his oaths an absolute bar upon retraction? No doubt the original promise was the original sin. He should not have made such an unconditional promise. He made it in the spirit of a braggart and a despot. His oaths were hatched in wickedness. But though thus hatched, was he not bound, when they were once in existence, to adhere to them? There was something good in adhering to them — something of respect and reverence for the Divine Being, who is either explicitly or implicitly appealed to in all oaths. But there was also something appallingly bad. There was adherence to what was utterly unlawful and wicked. He had no business to peril such lives as that of John on the freak and pleasure of Salome, or on the hate of Herodias, or on any rash words of his own. It was criminal to put any lives in such peril. If his oath had merely perilled valuable goods and chattles, then, though he had sworn to his own hurt, it would have been his duty not to change. But no oath whatsoever, and no bond whatsoever within the limits of possibility, could constitute an obligation to commit a crime. Illegitimate oaths are immoral, and should be repented of, not fulfilled.

(J. Morison, D. D.)

As Andronicus, the Greek Emperor, that deep dissembler, would weep over those whom he had for no cause, caused to be executed, as if he had been the most sorrowful man alive; so this cunning murderer craftily hides his malice, and seeming sad in the face is glad at heart to be rid of the importunate Baptist, that he may sin uncontrolled.

(John Trapp.)

In that moment there must have come before his mind his past reverence for the prophet, the joy which had for a time accompanied the strivings of a better life, possibly the counsels of his foster-brother, Manaen. Had there been only the personal influence of Herodias, these might have prevailed against it; but, like most weak men, Herod feared to be thought weak. It was not so much his regard for the oath which he had taken (that, had it been taken in secret, he might have got over), but his shrinking from the taunt, or whispered jest, or contemptuous gesture, of the assembled guests, if they should see him draw back from his plighted word. A false regard for public opinion, for what people will say or think of us in our own narrow circle, was in this, as in so many other instances, an incentive to guilt, instead of a restraint.

(Dean Plumptre.)

A tradition or legend relates that Salome's death was retributive in its outward form. She fell upon the ice, and in the fall her head was severed from the body.

(Dean Plumptre.)

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