Today is the feast day in the Catholic Church of the beheading of John the Baptist.
JTB is described by some reference resources as “ a Jewish itinerant preacher in the early first century AD. He is revered as a major religious figure in Christianity, Islam, the Baha’I Faith, and Mandaeism. He is called a prophet by all these traditions, and is honored as a saint in many Christian traditions.
First of all, Mandaeism is a Gnostic religion with a strongly dualistic world view. They revere Adam, Abel, Seth, Enos, Noah, Shem, Aram, and most especially JTB. They do however, reject Abraham, Moses, and Jesus; so they are heretics.
Back to John.
JTB was the cousin and pre-cursor of Jesus Christ. When Mary went to tell Elizabeth, her cousin who was preggers with John, the Bible says the child leaped in Elizabeth’s womb; most assuredly because he knew he was in the presence of God the Son still in the womb.
As time would pass, and both children would grow to men, John the Baptist garnered quite the reputation as a fiery preacher. The Gospels tell us of a messenger sent ahead of Christ; A voice “crying out in the wilderness.”
He lived simply; wearing clothes of camel’s hair, eating locusts and wild honey – no Cadillacs, Rolexes, and $1000 suits for this guy – and preached repentance like no one had heard it before.
He also told everyone that he was a messenger, and the real thing would be along shortly.
John said he baptized with water but Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit.
He baptized Jesus and said, “…behold the Son of God.”
JTB wasn’t shy.
Herod Antipas, one of the many Herods that ruled in the Levant, known as Herod the Tetrarch (king lite) was a pawn of the Roman Empire. He was an autocrat and an all powerful representative of Rome. He threw John in prison because John had reproved Herod for divorcing his wite, Phasaelis, and illegally marrying Herodias, who was still married to his brother, Herod Philip I.
Whilst John the Baptist was in the slammer, Herod’s birthday rolled around. Herodias was still miffed about the whole you’re living in sin with your brother’s wife thing, so she conspired with her trampy daughter, who historians identify as Salome, to do the hoochie coochie for Herod’s (her step-father) birthday entertainment.
From what is known of history and what is inferred as well as implied in both the Bible and historical accounts, it was a pretty erotic performance and Salome was nigh onto being the first pole dancer in history!
Herod, apparently a devotee of Gentlemen’s Clubs, was all hot and bothered with his birthday present, and promised Salome anything she wanted even to the “…half of his kingdom…”
Mumsy and Salome had previously determined that if Herod offered a gift, the trampy one would ask for the “…head of John the Baptist on a charger…”
Herod, though probably appalled by the request, knew he had to produce and be a man of his word lest he lose face. He sent word to the fortress of Machaerus, where John was imprisioned, John was beheaded and his severed head brought to the teenager on a platter.
As a reminder that “what comes around goes around”, Herod was later defeated in battle by his father-in-law, Aretas. And like most of the Herods, he met a brutal end.
Salome was married to a relative – possibly an uncle, Phillip the Tetrarch and was widowed at 20. She married Aristobulus of Chalcis, became his Queen, had three children, and lived to be about 50, historians aren’t sure of her death date.
Ironically, her name is a derivative of the Hebrew word for peace.
Herod Antipas’ fall from power was the plot of Caligula and Antipas’ nephew, Agrippa. Agrippa got into debt, Salome’s mom coerced Antipas to loan him money. Quarrels ensued, Agrippa stormed off, appealed to Caligula who tossed Herod Antipas in the slammer.
That’s one ending. Josephus tells us that Herodias was jealous of Agrippa’s success, pushed Antipas to ask Caligula for the title of King but Agrippa had Caligula’s ear and was filling his head with all the dirty deeds Herod had done; you know, murder, mayhem, bribes, server in the basement, stuff like that.
When Caligula found out about Herod Antipas’ stockpile of weapons he freaked and put him in prison somewhere near Lyon, France, which wasn’t called that then, but was pretty far away from Galilee.
Caligula, who as history tells us was bat-shit crazy and loved a conspiracy theory more than I do, bought it all.
Historians tell us Antipas died in exile and was “possibly” killed on the orders of Caligula.
Once again, don’t lose your head this Monday!
And “happy” feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist Day?