Yohanan the Immerser’s Execution

& LOY Commentary 9 Comments

The story of John the Baptist's martyrdom was rich with allusions to stories from the Hebrew Scriptures.

Matt. 14:3-12; Mark 6:17-29; Luke 3:18-20

(Huck 5, 111; Aland 17, 144; Crook 20, 164)[1]

Updated: 9 November 2022

וַיֹּאמֶר יוֹחָנָן אֵין לְהֵרוֹדֵיס לָשֵׂאת אֶת הֵרוֹדְיָה אֵשֶׁת אָחִיו וַיִּשְׁלַח הֵרוֹדֵיס וַיִּתְפֹּשׂ אֶת יוֹחָנָן וַיַּאַסְרֵהוּ בְּבֵית הָאֲסוּרִים וַתִּטֹּר אוֹתוֹ הֵרוֹדְיָה וַתְּבַקֵּשׁ לַהֲרוֹג אוֹתוֹ וְלֹא יָכְלָה כִּי יָרֵא הֵרוֹדֵיס אֶת יוֹחָנָן וַיִּטֹּר אוֹתוֹ וַיְהִי יוֹם גִּינִיסְיָא לְהֵרוֹדֵיס וַיַּעַשׂ מִשְׁתֶּה לְשָׂרָיו וּלְשָׂרֵי הַחַיִל וּלְשָׂרֵי הַגָּלִיל וַתְּרַקֵּד בַּת הֵרוֹדְיָה בַּתָּוֶךְ וַתִּיטַב בְּעֵינֵי הֵרוֹדֵיס וְהַמְּסוּבִּים עִמּוֹ וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ לַנַּעֲרָה שַׁאֲלִי מִמֶּנִּי מַה שֶּׁתִּרְצִי וְאֶתֵּן לָךְ וַיִּשָּׁבַע לָהּ כֹּל מַה שֶּׁתִּשְׁאֲלִי מִמֶּנִּי אֶתֵּן לָךְ עַד חֲצִי מַלְכוּתִי וַתֵּצֵא וַתֹּאמֶר לְאִמָּהּ מָה אֶשְׁאַל וַתֹּאמֶר אֶת רֹאשׁוֹ שֶׁלְּיוֹחָנָן הַמַּטְבִּיל וַתָּבֹא בְּחִפָּזוֹן אֶל הַמֶּלֶךְ וַתִּשְׁאַל לֵאמֹר תֵּן לִי בְּמֵגֵס רֹאשׁוֹ שֶׁלְּיוֹחָנָן הַמַּטְבִּיל וַיֵּעָצֵב הַמֶּלֶךְ וּמִפְּנֵי הַשְּׁבֻעוֹת וְהַמְּסוּבִּים עִמּוֹ לֹא אָבָה לִמְאוֹס אוֹתָהּ וַיִּשְׁלַח הַמֶּלֶךְ סְפִקְלָטוֹר וַיְצַו לְהָבִיא אֶת רֹאשׁוֹ וַיֵּלֶךְ וַיַּתֵּז אֶת רֹאשׁוֹ בְּבֵית הָאֲסוּרִים וַיָּבֵא אֶת רֹאשׁוֹ בְּמֵגֵס וַיִּתְּנֵהוּ לַנַּעֲרָה וַתְּבִיאֵהוּ לְאִמָּהּ וַיִּשְׁמְעוּ תַּלְמִידָיו וַיָּבֹאוּ וַיִּשְׂאוּ אֶת גּוּפוֹ וַיִּתְּנוּהוּ בְּקֶבֶר

Yohanan the Immerser announced, “The Torah does not allow Herodes to marry Herodyah, his brother’s ex-wife.” So Herodes sent his men to capture Yohanan, and they locked him up in prison. But Herodyah nursed a grudge against Yohanan, and she searched for an opportunity to kill him. Yet she was unable to carry out her wish because Herodes was afraid of Yohanan and kept him under guard.

On his birthday Herodes held a banquet for his administrative officials, military chiefs and the preeminent members of Galilean society. Herodyah’s daughter danced for them, which delighted the king and the guests who dined with him. So the king declared, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will give it to you.” And he swore to her, “Anything you ask of me is yours, even if it costs me half my kingdom.”

So the girl went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?”

And Herodyah said, “Ask for Yohanan the Immerser’s head.”

So the girl quickly returned to the king and made her request, saying, “Give me on a tray the head of Yohanan the Immerser.”

The king regretted his rash behavior, but because of the oaths he had made and the guests who were watching him he did not dare refuse her. So the king sent an executioner and ordered him to bring back Yohanan the Immerser’s head.

The executioner went, cut off the Immerser’s head in the prison, and brought it back on a tray and gave it to the girl, who brought it to her mother.

When Yohanan the Immerser’s disciples heard what had happened, they came to the prison and took his body and buried him.[2]

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  • David N. Bivin

    David N. Bivin
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    David N. Bivin is founder and editor of Jerusalem Perspective. A native of Cleveland, Oklahoma, U.S.A., Bivin has lived in Israel since 1963, when he came to Jerusalem on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship to do postgraduate work at the Hebrew University. He studied at the Hebrew…
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    Joshua N. Tilton

    Joshua N. Tilton

    Joshua N. Tilton studied at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, where he earned a B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies (2002). Joshua continued his studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, where he obtained a Master of Divinity degree in 2005. After seminary…
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