Heads A Rollin': Who Really Killed JOHN the BAPTIST
Now Don't Lose Your Head Over This
Tantalyzing clues to the true story of murder of the itinerant preacher, John the Baptist, are scattered like diamonds throughout the New Testament of the Bible.
Following the trail through Saints Matthew, Mark, and Luke will help you retrace the steps of John the Baptist's true killer.
The trail begins with St. Matthew who gives the official version. "Herod had laid hold on John... and put him in prison for Herodias' sake... For John had said unto (Herod), It is not lawful for thee to have her" (because Herodias had been Herod's brother Philip's wife). King Herod had wanted to execute John, but "he feared the multitude, because they counted (John) a prophet."
"But when (King) Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before him and pleased (him). Whereupon (Herod) promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she whould ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said 'Give me John the Baptist's head (on a plate).' And the king was sorry; nevertheless for the oath's sake... he sent and beheaded John in the prison..."
St. Mark writes that Herod and John met in person. "Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he (Herod) did many things (on John's advice), and heard him gladly". However, this seems to be at very much odds with St. Luke's assertion that "many things in his exhortation (the Baptist) preached unto the people". Chief among these were "all the evils which Herod had done" which caused that king to "shut up John in prison".
John's popularity with the "multitudes" sprang from his outspokeness against the Roman oppressors of Judea. Since Herod's power sprang from Rome, John was a real problem for the Jewish king because his preaching was having an impact.
For the Baptist's words were making Judeans - high and low - progressively discontented with the Roman occupation. For the longest time, Herod had tolerated John, thinking it might give him some leverage with Rome... forcing the Romans to send him more troops and collect less tribute from Judea.
However, Rome was unimpressed by the babblings of a madman from the wilderness. And when John turned his preaching from Roman oppression to Herod's sinfulness, the king had no choice but to deal with this holy man himself.
Herod visited John in prison and tried to convince him to turn his oratory back against Rome. The king promised to make the Baptist's stay in prison more comfortable and to do whatever was necessary to get John's anti-Roman message out to the people. John glared at the king and asked Herod "if giving up his sinful liaison with Herodias" was part of that bargain. For the prophet warned that until such uncleanness was purged from Judea, it mattered not what Rome did to them.
Herod was shocked that John could not grasp the golden political opportunity being handed to him. He at first tried to reason with the Baptist, but John was implacable. Nothing could make the stiff necked prophet abandon his principles.
The more Herod tried to make John see the practical benefits of the arrangement that he was proposing, the more the Baptist insisted the king end his unlawful union with Herodias. Herod was furious: he picked up a sword and levelled it at John.
Herod told John he did not appreciate the precariousness of his position - that all it would take was a well aimed blow and the prophet's brilliant career would come to an end. The Baptist burst out into laughter. In a blinding flash of rage, Herod swung his sword and decapitated John. And the rest is... classic spin doctoring.
Credits: from a guard who witnessed the murder and knew of Herod's cover story.
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