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dulgence. But when they are more straitly pressed, throwing off the yoke, they not only become obstinate, but furious, which shews us, that no man has any reason of self-complacency, because he obeys many of the divine laws, unless he has learned to subject himself to God in every respect, and without exception. If Herod's resentment of the freedom which John Baptist took with him was great, that of Herodias' was much greater. The crime she was guilty of being odious, she could not bear to have it named, and far less reproved. She was therefore enraged to the highest pitch, and nothing less than the Baptist's head would satisfy her. Mark vi. 19. Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him, but she could not : ever, since he offended her, she had been plotting against his life, but had not got her purpose accomplished. 20. For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him, and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly. Great and powerful as the king was, he stood in awe of John, though in low life, and for a while durst not attempt any thing against him ; such force has virtue sometimes upon the minds of the highest offenders. Matt. xiv. 5. And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. At first, Herod was restrained from offering violence to the Baptist, by the secret respect he had for him on account of his piety. And though afterwards he was so wrought upon, by the repeated solicitations of Herodias, that he overcame the scruples of his conscience, he was kept from doing him harm, fearing it might have occasioned a tumult. Herodias therefore finding that she could not prevail against the Baptist in the way of direct solicitation, watched for an opportunity to destroy him by craft. At length one offered itself. Herod on his birth-day made a sumptuous entertainment for the great lords, generals, judges, and other principal persons of his kingdom. Wherefore, as it was the custom in those countries for princes to bestow favours at their feasts, sometimes of their own accord, sometimes in consequence of petitions that were then presented, Herodias thought the birth-day a fit opportunity to get the Baptist destroyed. With this view, she proposed to Salome, her daughter by Philip, who was now of age, and had followed her fortunes, to dance before the coinpany at the birth-day; pretend. ing no doubt that it would turn out greatly to her advantage, because the king, in the excess of his good humour, would probably bid her name what she pleased to have, as the reward of her complaisance. Or if he should not, she might consistently enough with good inanners, beg him to grant her the boon she was most desirous to obtain ; only before she named any particuIar favour, it would be proper to come out and consult with
her mother * The thing proposed, it is true, was uncommon; yet the young lady might think it expedient in the present circumstances, or she might comply from a forwardness peculiar to youth. Whatever was her inducement, she danced and acquitted herself to the admiration of all the guests. The' king in particular was perfectly charmed with her fine air and graceful motion. Mark vi. 21. And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birth-day made a supper for his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee. 22. And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in † and danced, (Matt. before them) and pleased Herod, and them that sat with him. But because, according to the manners of the east, it was disgraceful for women of rank to appear in public, and they never did appear unless they were sent for, or had an important request to make, (see Esther v. 2, 3.) it was immediately concluded that this extraordinary condescension proceeded from Salome's being to ask some favour of the king. Besides, the honour she was doing to the day, and to the company, might be interpreted as a public acknowledgment of Herod's civility to her, and at the same time judged a becoming expression of her gratitude. As for the king, he considered the respect shewed his guests, as terminating upon himself; and having greatly injured the young lady by debauching her mother, he was caught with the flattery, and grew vain. His fancy also being heated with wine, and music, and the ap
plause * The evangelists indeed do not speak directly of this previous concert, but Mark gives a distant hint of it. 21. And when a convenient day cvas come tbat Herod on his birth-day made a supper, &c. For as he had mentioned the attempts which llerodias had made without success to kill the Bap. tist, by calling this a convenient day, on account of the feast, he insinuates, that he thought the entertainment afforded a fit opportunity to take the Baptist's life; consequently he directs us to consider all the transactions of the birth-day, which have any reference to the Baptist's death, as the effect of tierodias' contrivance. Besides, a previous concert between the mother and the daughter must be admitted, in order to account for the latter's dancing before the company on the birth-day. The reason is, in ancient times it was so far from being the custom for ladies of distinction to dance in pchlic, that it was reckoned indecent if they were so much as present at pablic entertaininents. The reader no doubt remembers the instance of queen Vashri, who thought it so dishonourable, that rather than submit to it, even when commanded by Ahasuerus, she forfeited her crown. He will likewise remark, that notwithstanding Herodias was a lady of no distinguished character for virtue, she had such a regard to decency and reputation, that she did not appear at this birth-day feast. We may therefore believe, it was a very extraordinary thing for young ladies of quality, to dance before large companies of men at public entertainmenis. If so, the reader must be sensible that this dancing of Herodias' daughter could not happen by accident, but must have been brought about by some contrivance of her mother.
+ Ver. 22. And danced ond pleased Herod.) On thia, Grotius makes the following remark: o&xmvato, moribus Ionicis, ut inquit Horatius, non rudi illo et incomposito saltandi genere, quod in publicis gaudüs matronis vir. ginibusque Judæis, antiquisus usurpatum fuit,
plause of his gueset, the sight of the young lady dancing, and the idea of her mother, whom he passionately loved, he made her the promise he imagined she was silently soliciting; a promise, which though it had the air of royal munificence, suited but ill with the gravity of wisdom. Mark vi. 22. The king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. 23. And he sware unto her, (Matt. he promised with an oath), whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee unto the half of my kingdom. When the plot had thus succeeded, and the young lady had obtained the king's promise, she went out to consult with her mother, who immediately disclosed her purpose, bidding her ask the Baptist's head. 24. And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask ?? and she said, The head of John the Baptist. A counsel of this kind without doubt sur. prised Salome, for she did not see of what use the head could be to her... Besides, she might think the demand improper, as their quarrel with the Baptist, and the cause of it was universally known; not to mention that when she consented to dance, it is natural to imagine her fancy had been running on very different objects. Probably, therefore, at the first she * scrupled to com. ply. But Herodias, full of the fiercest resentment against the holy man, would take do denial. She peremptorily insisted that her counsel should be followed, representing to her daughter, no doubt, 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 vi. 25. And) she came in straightway with kaste (usta saudns with eagerness) unto the king. So whilst all the guests sat mute, expecting what mighty thing would be asked, the daughter of Herodias entering, demanded John Baptist's head, as of greater value to her than the half of a kingdom; and she asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger, the head of John the Baptist. (Matth. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger.) Sudden horror seized every
heart; * Scrupled to comply ] This may be gathered also from the force of the word gewicace.ru, by which Matthew expresses the effect her mother's solicitation had upon her. Matt. xiv. 8. And she (a podruc774) beixg before instructed of i'er mother, said, Give me bere Yobu Bup!ist's bead in a charser. According to Hesychius, 7.20 rakety signifies, instigare, incitare, impeilere, to urze, excite, or impel, and consequentiy supposes reluctance in the person urged. See the critics upon this word, and the dictionaries.
heart; the gaiety of the king vanished; he was confounded and vexed. - But being unwilling to appear either tash, or fickle, or false, before a company of the first persons of his kingdom for rank-and character, he commanded'her request to be given her; got one of the guests being so friendly as to speak the least word to divert him from his mad purpose, though he gave them an opportunity to do it, by signifying to them that he performed his cath out of regard to the company.- Perhaps they dreaded Herodias's resentinent: 26. And the king 'was exceeding sorry, yet for his oath's srike, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. (Matth. he commanded it to be given her.) Thus, out of a misplaced regard to his oath and his guests, king Herod committed a most unjust and cruel action, which will ever reflect the greatest dishonour upon his memory. Matt. xiv. 10. And he sent (Mark, an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought, and he went) and beheaded John in the prison. 11. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel. The head of the prophet whose rebukes had awed the king in his loosest moments, and whose exhortations had often excited him to virtuous actions, was immediately brought pale and bloody in a charger, and given to the daughter of Herodias, * in presence of the guests, † and she brought it to her mother. The young lady gladly received the bloody present, and carried it to her mother, who enjoyed the whole pleasure of revenge, and feasted her eyes with the sight of her enemy's head, now rendered silent and harmless. But the Baptist's voice became the louder for his being murdered, filling the earth, reaching up to heaven, and publishing the woman's adultery to all ages, and to all people. Mark vi. 29. And when his disciples keard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb: for it was thrown over the prison-walls without burial, probably by order of Herodias.
The history of this birth-day, transmitted to posterity in the Scriptures, stands a perpetual beacon to warn the great, the gay, and the young, to beware of dissolute mirth. Admonished by so fatal an example, they ought to maintain, even in the midst of their jollity, an habitual recollection of spirit, lest reason, at any time enervated by the pleasures of sense, should slacken the rein of wisdom, or let it drop, though bat for a moment; because Vol. II.
In presence of the guests.] Tliis circumstance proves that the prison in which they consided the Baptist was at hand in Tiberias, where Herod kept his court, and not in Macherus Castl, as Josephus affi-818 ; for Macha'us stood upon the frontier of Perta towards Arabia, at the distance of two days journey from the caprital.
. Ver. 1 1. And she brought it to her another.] It seuns Salone was of age, as may be gathered likewiee from the other circumstances of the history, particularly the pleasure that her Lancing gave to the company, the solem. nity with which the king store to her, and the regard which, contrary to hus inclination, he shewed to his oath.
their headstrong passions, ever impatient of the curb, may catch the opportunity, and rush with them into follies, whose consequences will be unspeakably, it may be also perpetually bitter. SLX. After the Baptist's death, the apostles return to Capernaum,
where they find Jesus. He leaves Capernaum, and sails with them over the lake to the desert of Bethsaida. Here the people are fed by miracle the first time. See 9 67. Matth. xiv. 12, -21. Mark vi. 29,–44. Luke ix. 10,-17. John vi. 1, --13. MATTHEW informs us, that the disciples of John, after burying their master, came and told Jesus what had happened, and that he, upon hearing the news, departed by ship to a desert place apart. Matth. xiv. 12. And his disciples came (Mark, And when his disciples heard of it, they came) and took up the body and buried it, (Mark, laid it in a tomb) and went and told Jesus. 13. When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart. Mark says, vi. 30. And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. 31. And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while; for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. 32. And they departed into a desert place by ship privately. About the time that the apostles returned from their mission, and gave their Master an account of the miracles which they had performed, and of the sermons which they had preached, the Baptist's disciples arrived with the news of their Master's death. Wherefore, as Matthew hath introduced his history of our Lord's retiring into the desert of Bethsaida with an account of these things, he has assigned them as the reason for our Lord's retreat. It seems the apostles were thrown into great consternation, by the news which the Baptist's disciples brought of his death. Perhaps the account had reached them before, and had hastened their return to their Master. Mark assigns a second cause of our Lord's retreat on this occasion, namely, the continual hurry the apostles were kept in by the multitude, which thronged about Jesus to such a degree, that they had not leisure to eat their meals. The truth is, our Lord's retiring with his apostles on this occasion into a desert place, was well calculated to allay that perturbation which the idea of Herod's cruelty and injustice must have raised in their breasts, whether they had heard of it before, or whether they received the news of it only upon their return. Farther, as the fame of our Lord's miracles had brought vast crowds to Capernaum, the voyage to the desert served likewise to refresh the apostles after the fatigue of their journey, and to free them from the importunity of the multitude, who solicited cures for themselves and for their relations. Perhaps likewise