Matthew 14:6

6 But when Herod's birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod

Matthew 14:6 Meaning and Commentary

Matthew 14:6

But when Herod's birthday was kept
The birthdays of princes, both of their coming into the world, and accession to the throne of government, were kept by the Gentiles; as by the Egyptians, ( Genesis 40:20 ) and by the F14 Persians, and Romans F15, and other nations, but not by the Jews; who reckon these among the feasts of idolaters.

``These (say they F16) are the feasts of idolaters; the "Calends", and the "Saturnalia", the time kept in memory of subduing a kingdom (or when a king takes possession of it, the day of his accession), (Myklm lv ayowng Mwyw) , "and the birthday of kings" (when they are made and crowned, the day of coronation), and the day of birth, and the day of death.''

And it is a question, whether this day, that was kept, was the day of Herod's natural birth, or of his civil government, being his accession, or coronation day: and it might also be a question, whether it was the then present Herod's birthday, or whether it was not his father Herod's, was it not that Mark says, ( Mark 6:21 ) it was his birthday; since it is the latter the poet F17 refers to, as kept by Jews, when he says, "At cum Herodis venere dies"; and the old Scholiast upon him observes, that

``Herod reigned over the Jews in Syria, in the times of Augustus; therefore the Herodians kept Herod's birthday, as also the sabbath, on which day they set up candles in the windows lighted, and encircled with violets.''

This they did, believing him to be the Messiah: and it is further to be observed, that the word here used, is said F18 to be proper to the dead, and not to the living; and that he that uses it of the living, speaks very inaccurately: but however, it was a festival, and a time of great mirth and jollity; and a proper opportunity offered to Herodias, to execute her malicious designs against John the Baptist; for at this time,

the daughter of Herodias danced before them:
in the original text it is, "in the midst", in the middle of the hall; or in the midst of the company, the lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee, for whom Herod made a supper, ( Mark 6:21 ) and the Syriac renders it (akymo Mdq) , "before the guests". Music and dancing were usual at such entertainments, they were the common appendages of a feast F19: the daughter of Herodias, who danced before the company for their diversion, whether alone, or with others, was very probably Salome {t}, whom she had by her former husband; and therefore is called, not the daughter of Herod, but of Herodias:

and pleased Herod;
and as Mark adds, "and them that sat with him"; so that the pleasure he had did not arise merely from the respect and honour shown to him and his birthday, by her appearing with so much cheerfulness on this occasion before him; who had taken her father's wife from him, and defiled her mother; but from the airs, gestures, and motions of the lady in dancing; which were so extremely fine and regular, that she gave wonderful satisfaction and delight to Herod, and the whole company.


F14 Herodot. l. 1. c. 133. & 9. c. 109.
F15 Plin. Ep. 1. 10. ep. 61.
F16 Misn. Avoda Zara, c. 1. sect. 3.
F17 Persius, Satyr. 5. prope finem.
F18 Ammonius, (peri omoiwn) &c. in lit.
F19 Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 2. c. 25.
F20 Joseph. Antiqu. l. 18. c. 6.

Matthew 14:6 In-Context

4 because John had been telling him, "It is not lawful for you to have her."
5 Though Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded him as a prophet.
6 But when Herod's birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod
7 so much that he promised on oath to grant her whatever she might ask.
8 Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter."
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