Herodius, the female version of the name Herod, was the woman responsible for the savage beheading of John the Baptist. Herod is one of the most recognizable names in the Bible. It identifies a family of political rulers that persecuted Jesus and his followers, among others. Aristobulus (son of Herod the Great and Mariamne) and his wife had a child and named her Herodius. Herodius grew into womanhood, married her uncle Herod Philip, and soon gave birth to a daughter she named Salome.

Who was the famous male in Herodius's lineage?

Herod the Great, her grandfather, was King of Judea from 37 B.C. to 4 B.C. Herod the Great was told by wise men of a star foretelling the birth of the King of the Jews. Pretending to want to worship Jesus, but really desiring to destroy him, the ruler told them to find the child.

Herodius helped her husband entertain Herod Antipas, Philip's half-brother, when he came to rome to visit them in their home. Herod Antipas took a great liking to Herodius, so much so that he abducted her with the intent of making her his wife, and Salome his stepdaughter. However, there was a complication: Herod Antipas was married to an Arabian princess he had to divorce in order to marry Herodius. It seems that Herod Philip had little to say about the whole affair, or if he did, his words were not recorded.

For Herodius's sake, Herod Antipas imprisoned John the Baptist after John told him that it was not lawful for him to have his brother's wife. It wasn't the first time John had criticized the incestuous union. Herodius wanted John put to death, but Herod Antipas understood that the masses saw John as a prophet, and that the religious movement he started was growing ever more popular. Herod Antipas didn't want to make a martyr of John and then face an uprising, rebellion, or reprisal by the masses. Besides, he had met John and found some of his ideas interesting. So Herod Antipas imprisoned John in a fortress near the Dead Sea and turned his attention back to the banquet to be held in honor of his birthday.

Herodius had taught her daughter to perform a sensual dance for the pleasure of Herod on his birthday. She must have known that when Herod was aroused, he would grant her daughter's fondest wish. When Salome's dance ended, Herod Antipas asked her what she wanted. She turned to her mother for suggestions. It was a triumphant moment for Herodius: she told Salome to ask for the head of John the Baptist, and Salome did. His blood-soaked head was put on a platter and presented to her. Salome gave it to her mother, who was finally satisfied that John's tongue would no longer criticize her. Herod Antipas felt a twinge of sorrow, but he had made a promise that others had heard; and an oath by a ruler, even one whose weakness was to love a manipulative, strong-willed woman intent on murder, had to be kept.

Salome presenting John the Baptist's head to Herodius

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