10.01.10 Mk 6:14-16; Lk 9:9b (See also Mt. 14:1-2) Perea
HEROD ANTIPAS CURIOUS ABOUT JESUS
Mk. 14 King Herod heard of this, because Jesus’ name had become well known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that’s why supernatural powers are at work in him.”
15 But others said, “He’s Elijah.”
Still others said, “He’s a prophet — like one of the prophets.”
16 When Herod heard of it, he said, “John, the one I beheaded, has been raised!”
Lk. 9b (Herod speaking) “Who then, is this I hear such things about?” And he tried to see him.
Jesus was obviously well known at this point, but His identity remained a subject of controversy. His miracles were of the nature that some who were prone to being suspicious, like Herod Antipas, believed He was the resurrection of John the Baptist.
“King Herod.” This king was Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great and his fourth wife Malthrace, a Samaritan. His official title was the tetrarch (5076) of Galilee and Perea, but he is mentioned as king because he was the ruler. Technically, he was not titled “king of the Jews,” but a tetrarch meaning ruler of the fourth part. In this case, the “part” was the districts of Galilee and Perea. Nonetheless, he resented not having the same title as his father. His vain attempt to receive the official title of king led to his downfall in A.D. 39 under the rulership of Emperor Caligula. The name “Herod” appears 44 times in the New Testament in reference to three individuals.
The narrative below concerning the death of John the Baptist is a parenthetical story in the biblical narrative. It may seem out of place to the ordinary reader since the previous passage refers to him being dead, but now he is being executed. The events that led to his execution are as follows:
Herod Antipas was married to Zolleras, the daughter of the Arabian King Aretas IV of the Nabataeans (cf. 2 Cor. 11:32). Such marriage arrangements were common forms of peace treaties, and many scholars believe that this marriage was a classic example of such an alliance. Then Herod went to Rome to visit his brother Philip and while there, he fell in love with Philip’s wife Herodias. The two men made an agreement and Herod returned home with a new wife. However, to comply with Roman law which prohibited bigamy, he quickly divorced Zolleras. He then sent her to live in the Machaerus Fortress while he and Herodias lived in Tiberias. Zolleras immediately became a woman of intense wrath. But no matter how angry she was, it was nothing compared to that of her father who was a Nabataean king and lived in the natural fortress of Petra.
Since the Herodians were Roman citizens, they could marry and divorce as often as they pleased. (His father, Herod the Great had ten wives, although he killed more than he divorced.) He divorced Zolleras in order to marry Philip’s ex-wife Herodias. In a case as this where the marriage was made for a peaceful alliance, to divorce a daughter of a king was more than just a divorce; it was a break of a peaceful alliance. Antipas may not have intended to begin a military conflict, but he did precisely that. His actions eventually led to war with King Aretas as well as a profound rebuke by John the Baptist, whose outspoken words of rebuke to the king were instrumental in the loss of his life.
. In the days of Jesus, Perea was often referred to as the “region of Judea across the Jordan.”
. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:82.
. Wessel, “Mark.” 8:668.
. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 208.
. Kaiser, Davids, Bruce, and Brauch, Hard Sayings of the Bible. 433-34.