Thursday, July 29, 2010

John the Baptist is Arrested

And the Pharisees came to Jesus, and asked him, "Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife?" And he answered and said unto them, "What did Moses command you?" And they said, "Moses instructed us to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away (Deuteronomy 24:1-5)." And Jesus answered and said unto them, "Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation this was not so. As it is written, "God made them male and female. For this reason shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife and they twain shall be one flesh." So then they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder." And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter.  And he said unto them, "Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, commits adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she commits adultery. It has been said, "Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement." But I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causes her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced commits adultery (Mark 10:1-12, Matthew 19:1-10, Luke 16:18) ." Then Judas Iscariot said, "If that is true, it is better for a man to never get married." But Jesus answered and said to them, "All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it (Matthew 19:10-12)."

Herod Agrippa the tetrarch had married the daughter of King Aretas IV, the king who ruled over the Nabatean Arabs from Petra, and had lived with her a great while. Once when he was at Rome, he visited with his half brother Herod Phillip. (This was not the same person as the Tetrarch Herod Phillip, yet another brother, who ruled to the north and east of the Lake of Galilee. This Herod Phillip was the son of the high priest Sireoh's daughter, named Mariamne the Second.) While visiting Herod Phillip in Rome, Herod Antipas met the beautiful Herodias, Herod the Great's granddaughter and his brother Herod Phillip's wife. Herodias was married to Herod Phillip and borne him a daughter who was named Salome. Herod Antipas fell in passionately in love with Herodias, his brother's wife, she who was the daughter of Aristobulus their brother, and the sister of Agrippa the Great, as well as being the grand daughter of Herod the Great and Mariamne the First. Herod the tetrarch proposed marriage between them; which proposal, she admitted, was agreeable to her. She made one stipulation, that he should divorce King Aretas's daughter. Herod Antipas's wife, the daughter of the Nabatean king, discovered the agreement he had made with Herodias, and having learned it before he had notice of her knowledge of the whole design, she asked her husband to send her to the fortress and palace of Macherus, which is a place near to the dominions of King Aretas, her father, without informing him of any of her intentions. Accordingly Herod sent her there, as thinking that his wife had not perceived any thing. She there surreptitiously went over to her father, all things necessary for her journey were made ready for her by the general of Aretas's army; and by that means she soon came into Arabia, under the conduct of the several generals, who carried her from one to another place successively; and she soon came to her father, and told him of how Herod Antipas had betrayed and disgraced her. So Aretas made this the first occasion of his enmity between him and Herod, who had also some quarrel with him about their border disputes at the country of Gamalitis. (Josephus "Antiquities of the Jews"18:2-9) Hearing of this scandal, John the Baptist rebuked Herod Antipas for his incestuous and adulterous relationship with Herodias, who was his niece and the wife of his brother. John had said unto Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife. Repent and send her back to her own lest war come upon you and distress and you become bereft of your throne." Accordingly, he was arrested and he was as a sent a prisoner, out of Herod's suspicious temper, to the Fortress of Macherus. Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife: for he had married her. Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against John, and would have killed him; but she could not for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly (Mark 6:14-20). Herod, also feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power an inclination to raise a rebellion, (for they seemed ready to do any thing he should advise,) thought it best, by putting him in prison, to prevent any mischief he might cause (Josephus, "Antiquities of the Jews"18:2-9). He considered putting him to death, but he feared the crowds because they considered John the Baptist to be a true prophet (Matthew 14:5).

After John had been betrayed and he was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee proclaimed the Good News of the Kingdom of God saying, "This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the Good News." (Mark 1:14-15)

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