We have now the familiar tale of John the Baptist's death. It is unclear how far into Jesus' ministry this event took place, but John the Baptist was fully aware that his part in declaring Jesus to be the Son of God, the Messiah, was not going to be for long.
There is rightly a lot of confusion around the name Herod. Herod the Great was King when Jesus was born and he was responsible for the 'slaughter of the innocent' briefly mentioned in Matthew 2 v 16-18. He was married numerous times and he murdered many of his progeny. However, he had two sons by one of his marriages and his wife gave birth to Herod Antipas, who is the one mentioned here. Salome, the young woman who dances before him was his niece, the wife of his half-brother Herod Philip. All very incestuous!
Herod Antipas was a strange man. He married his brother's wife, Herodias, therefore breaking the Jewish Law- Leviticus 18 v 16, 20, 21- but accomplished some great things for the Jews, however he was violent, completely selfish and sadistic.
These are the things we learn about the main characters:
1. Herod respected and feared John the Baptist.
2. He was a man who acted on impulse.
3. He feared what others might say.
4. Herodias demonstrates what an embittered person might do.
5. John the Baptist stands as a man of courage, a man of truth and a man of God.