Biblical People

Biblical People: Herodias

Herod is a powerful man, used to getting what he wants. He even takes his brother’s wife, Herodias, and marries her. John the Baptist publicly criticizes Herod for his actions, stating plainly that what he did is illegal, contrary to the Laws of Moses.

For his boldness, John ends up in jail. Herod holds him there, keeping him out of public view, while at the same time protecting him from further harm.

We don’t know if Herodias is the victim in this adulterous marriage or the instigator, but the Bible says she holds a grudge against John for his criticism.

In fact, she’s so enraged, she wants him dead, but Herod won’t allow it. He knows John is a good man, and Herod likes to listen to him—even though John’s words perplex him.

When Herod throws a birthday party for himself, Herodias’s daughter dances for them. Everyone likes what they see. Because of her impressive performance, Herod, without thinking, promises to give her whatever she wants. She seeks her mom’s advice. 

Herodias sees opportunity and is quick to respond. She tells her daughter to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Although dismayed, Herod doesn’t want to renege on his promise in front of his guests. To avoid public embarrassment, he orders John’s immediate execution. They present John’s head on a platter to the girl. 

Blinded by anger, Herodias achieves her goal of orchestrating John’s death. She gets her revenge.

While we would never plot another person’s death, Jesus says even anger toward another is akin to murder. What raw emotions do we need to curb?

[Discover more about Herodias in Matthew 14:3–14, Mark 6:17–28, and Luke 3:19–20.]

Learn about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in audiobook, e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

By Peter DeHaan

Peter writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and make a faith that matters. Learn more at