Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mark 6:17-29, The Death of John the Baptist Part 2 (The Study of Mark)

     17 For Herod himself had sent out and had arrested John and had bound him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Phillip’s wife, because he had married her. 18 For John was saying1 to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your bother’s wife2.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against3 him and was wanting to kill him, and was not able to do it. 20 For Herod was in awe4 of John, seeing him to be a just and holy man, and he was protecting5 him, and he was very confused6 listening to him, yet he liked to listen to him7.
     21 And a suitable day8 came to pass9 on Herod’s birthday, when he gave10 a banquet for his high status people11, his commanding officers12, and the leading men of Galilee. 22 And his daughter Herodias13 went in and danced, and it pleased Herod and the one’s sitting at the table14. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me whatever you may want and I will give it to you!” 23 And he made a strong oath15 to her, “Whatever you may ask, I will give it to you; up to half of my kingdom.” 24 And after going out, she asked16 to her mother, “What should I ask for myself?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25 And going out immediately with haste to the king, she requested17, “I want you to give me the head of John the Baptist on a plate18.” 26 And the king became deeply distressed, but because of the oath and the one’s sitting at the table19, he was not willing to break the oath to her. 27 And immediately, the king sent the executioner and gave an order to bring his head. And after going out, he beheaded him in the prison. 28 And he brought his head on a plate and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 And after hearing of this, his disciples20 went and took his body and placed it in a tomb.


This concludes "The Death of John the Baptist".

1 ἔλεγεν (was saying)

The verb is in the imperfect which indicates that John was tell Herod this over and over again. That may be a indication of why Herodias was so upset with John. She may have been tired of hearing it over and over again.

2 It was against the Jewish Law. 

Leviticus 18:16 Do not have sexual relations with your brother’s wife;
that would dishonor your brother.

Leviticus 20:21 If a man marries his brother’s wife, it is an act of impurity; he has dishonored his brother. They will be childless.

3 ἐνεῖχεν (had a grudge against) 

or “was resentful against”. Herodias was not happy with what John was saying.

4 ἐφοβεῖτο (was in awe) 

or “was afraid” or “was respecting”.

5 συνετήρει (was protecting) 

or “was preserving”.

6 πολλὰ ἠπόρει (was very confused) 

Greek: “was at a lost much” or “was perplexed much”. In other words, Herod didn’t know what to make of John’s speeches.

7 καὶ ἡδέως αὐτοῦ ἤκουεν (yet he liked to listen to him)

Greek: “and he was listening to him gladly”. It is interesting that Herod liked to listen to John even while he was so confused by what he was saying.  Maybe there was a sense of "I must listen to John because he is righteous and holy".  It remains an enigma as the text doesn't say why.

8 ἡμέρας εὐκαίρου (a suitable day)

or “a favorable day”. In other words, it was a great time for Herodias to take advantage of Herod. The chance presented itself.

9 γενομένης (came to pass) 

or “became” or “came”.

10 ἐποίησεν (gave) 

Greek: “made”.

11 τοῖς μεγιστᾶσιν αὐτοῦ (his high status people) 

or “his important people”. They would have been people high in his royal staff.

12 τοῖς χιλιάρχοις (his commanding officers) 

A χιλίαρχος is a commanding officer who is over 1000 soldiers.

13 τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτοῦ Ἡρῳδιάδος (his daughter Herodias)

This is a hard reading as we already know from verse 17 that Herodias was married to Herod. This reading is probably due to a very early scribal error that happened prior to the Greek manuscripts available to us at this time. Some translations render this as “the daughter of Herodias”, but that is not in the earliest and best manuscripts.

It is also possible that Herodias’ daughter (Herod’s step-daughter) was named Herodias, but that would make little sense as she was Philip’s daughter.

14 τοῖς συνανακειμένοις (the ones sitting at the table)

Greek: “the ones reclining together”. In the 1st century, people didn’t sit at a table, they reclined or laid down at a very short table. “The ones sitting at the table” refers to Herod’s banquet guest.

15 ὤμοσεν αὐτῇ [πολλὰ] (he made a strong oath to her)

Greek: “he sweared (by God) much to her”. An oath during the 1st century would be to swear something by God. It would have been something that Herod would not have been able to break.

16 εἶπεν (asked) 

Greek: “said”.

17 ᾐτήσατο λέγουσα (requested) 

Greek: “asked saying”.

18 πίνακι (a plate)

A serving plate or platter.

19 See note 14.

20 The disciples would have been John’s disciples.

The Greek

Μάρκον 6·17 Αὐτὸς γὰρ ὁ Ἡρῴδης ἀποστείλας ἐκράτησεν τὸν Ἰωάννην καὶ ἔδησεν αὐτὸν ἐν φυλακῇ διὰ Ἡρῳδιάδα τὴν γυναῖκα Φιλίππου τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ, ὅτι αὐτὴν ἐγάμησεν· 18 ἔλεγεν γὰρ ὁ Ἰωάννης τῷ Ἡρῴδῃ ὅτι οὐκ ἔξεστίν σοι ἔχειν τὴν γυναῖκα τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ σου. 19 ἡ δὲ Ἡρῳδιὰς ἐνεῖχεν αὐτῷ καὶ ἤθελεν αὐτὸν ἀποκτεῖναι, καὶ οὐκ ἠδύνατο· 20 ὁ γὰρ Ἡρῴδης ἐφοβεῖτο τὸν Ἰωάννην, εἰδὼς αὐτὸν ἄνδρα δίκαιον καὶ ἅγιον, καὶ συνετήρει αὐτόν, καὶ ἀκούσας αὐτοῦ πολλὰ ἠπόρει, καὶ ἡδέως αὐτοῦ ἤκουεν. Μάρκον 6·21 Καὶ γενομένης ἡμέρας εὐκαίρου ὅτε Ἡρῴδης τοῖς γενεσίοις αὐτοῦ δεῖπνον ἐποίησεν τοῖς μεγιστᾶσιν αὐτοῦ καὶ τοῖς χιλιάρχοις καὶ τοῖς πρώτοις τῆς Γαλιλαίας, 22 καὶ εἰσελθούσης τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτοῦ Ἡρῳδιάδος καὶ ὀρχησαμένης ἤρεσεν τῷ Ἡρῴδῃ καὶ τοῖς συνανακειμένοις. εἶπεν ὁ βασιλεὺς τῷ κορασίῳ· αἴτησόν με ὃ ἐὰν θέλῃς, καὶ δώσω σοι· 23 καὶ ὤμοσεν αὐτῇ [πολλὰ] ὅ τι ἐάν με αἰτήσῃς δώσω σοι ἕως ἡμίσους τῆς βασιλείας μου. 24 καὶ ἐξελθοῦσα εἶπεν τῇ μητρὶ αὐτῆς· τί αἰτήσωμαι; ἡ δὲ εἶπεν· τὴν κεφαλὴν Ἰωάννου τοῦ βαπτίζοντος. 25 καὶ εἰσελθοῦσα εὐθὺς μετὰ σπουδῆς πρὸς τὸν βασιλέα ᾐτήσατο λέγουσα· θέλω ἵνα ἐξαυτῆς δῷς μοι ἐπὶ πίνακι τὴν κεφαλὴν Ἰωάννου τοῦ βαπτιστοῦ. 26 καὶ περίλυπος γενόμενος ὁ βασιλεὺς διὰ τοὺς ὅρκους καὶ τοὺς ἀνακειμένους οὐκ ἠθέλησεν ἀθετῆσαι αὐτήν· 27 καὶ εὐθὺς ἀποστείλας ὁ βασιλεὺς σπεκουλάτορα ἐπέταξεν ἐνέγκαι τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ. καὶ ἀπελθὼν ἀπεκεφάλισεν αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ φυλακῇ 28 καὶ ἤνεγκεν τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ πίνακι καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτὴν τῷ κορασίῳ, καὶ τὸ κοράσιον ἔδωκεν αὐτὴν τῇ μητρὶ αὐτῆς. 29 καὶ ἀκούσαντες οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἦλθον καὶ ἦραν τὸ πτῶμα αὐτοῦ καὶ ἔθηκαν αὐτὸ ἐν μνημείῳ.

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