Matthew 14:1
At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XIV.

(1) Herod the tetrarch.—The son of Herod the Great by Malthace. Under his father’s will he succeeded to the government of Galilee and Peræa, with the title of Tetrarch, and as ruler of a fourth part of the Roman province of Syria. His first wife was a daughter of Aretas, an Arabian king or chief, named in 2Corinthians 11:32 as king of the Damascenes. Herodias, the wife of his half-brother Philip (not the Tetrarch of Trachonitis, Luke 3:1, but son of Herod the Great by Mariamne, and though wealthy, holding no official position as a ruler), was daughter of Aristobulus, the son whom Herod put to death, and was therefore niece to both her husbands. Prompted partly by passion, partly by ambition, she left Philip, and became the wife of Antipas (Jos. Ant. xviii. 5, §4). The marriage, at once adulterous and by the Mosaic law doubly incestuous, shocked the conscience of all the stricter Jews. It involved Antipas in a war with the father of the wife whom he had divorced and dismissed, and it was probably in connection with this war that we read of soldiers on actual duty as coming under the teaching of the Baptist in Luke 3:14. The prophetic spirit of the Baptist, the very spirit of Elijah in his dealings with Ahab and Jezebel, made him the spokesman of the general feeling, and so brought him within the range of the vindictive bitterness of the guilty queen.

Heard of the fame of Jesus.—The words do not necessarily imply that no tidings had reached him till now. Our Lord’s ministry, however, had been at this time at the furthest not longer than a year, and possibly less, and Antipas, residing at Tiberias and surrounded by courtiers, might well be slow to hear of the works and teaching of the Prophet of Nazareth. Possibly, the nobleman of Capernaum (John 4:46), or Manaen the foster-brother of the tetrarch (Acts 13:1), or Chuza his steward (Luke 8:3), may have been among his first informants, as “the servants” (the word is not that used for “slaves”) to whom he now communicated his theory as to the reported wonders.

Matthew 14:1-2. Now at that time — When our Lord had spent about a year in his public ministry, and had sent out his disciples to preach the gospel, to cast out devils, and to heal diseases, and they, by virtue of his name, had been successful in that work; Mark 6:12-14; Luke 9:6-7; Herod the tetrarch — King of Galilee and Peræa, the fourth part of his father’s dominions; (see note on Matthew 2:1;) heard of the fame of Jesus — Now everywhere spread abroad, in consequence of the marvellous works done by him and his apostles; and said, This is John the Baptist: he is risen from the dead — Herod was a Sadducee; and the Sadducees denied the resurrection of the dead: but Sadducism staggers when conscience awakes. See the note on Mark 6:14-28.

14:1-12 The terror and reproach of conscience, which Herod, like other daring offenders, could not shake off, are proofs and warnings of a future judgment, and of future misery to them. But there may be the terror of convictions, where there is not the truth of conversion. When men pretend to favour the gospel, yet live in evil, we must not favour their self-delusion, but must deliver our consciences as John did. The world may call this rudeness and blind zeal. False professors, or timid Christians, may censure it as want of civility; but the most powerful enemies can go no further than the Lord sees good to permit. Herod feared that the putting of John to death might raise a rebellion among the people, which it did not; but he never feared it might stir up his own conscience against him, which it did. Men fear being hanged for what they do not fear being damned for. And times of carnal mirth and jollity are convenient times for carrying on bad designs against God's people. Herod would profusely reward a worthless dance, while imprisonment and death were the recompence of the man of God who sought the salvation of his soul. But there was real malice to John beneath his consent, or else Herod would have found ways to get clear of his promise. When the under shepherds are smitten, the sheep need not be scattered while they have the Great Shepherd to go to. And it is better to be drawn to Christ by want and loss, than not to come to him at all.Herod the tetrarch - See also Mark 6:14-16; Luke 9:7-9. This was a son of Herod the Great. Herod the Great died probably in the first year after the birth of Christ, and left his kingdom to his three sons, of whom this "Herod Antipas" was one. He ruled over Galilee and Perea. See the notes at Matthew 2:15. The title "tetrarch" literally denotes one who rules over a "fourth" part of any country. It came, however, to signify the governor or ruler of any province subject to the Roman emperor - Robinson, Lexicon.

Heard of the fame of Jesus - Jesus had been a considerable time engaged in the work of the ministry, and it may seem remarkable that he had not before heard of him. Herod might, however, have been absent on some expedition to a remote part of the country. It is to be remembered, also, that he was a man of much dissoluteness of morals, and that he paid little attention to the affairs of the people. He might have heard of Jesus before, but it had not arrested his attention. He did not think it a matter worthy of much regard.

CHAPTER 14

Mt 14:1-12. Herod Thinks Jesus a Resurrection of the Murdered Baptist—Account of His Imprisonment and Death. ( = Mr 6:14-29; Lu 9:7-9).

The time of this alarm of Herod Antipas appears to have been during the mission of the Twelve, and shortly after the Baptist—who had been in prison for probably more than a year—had been cruelly put to death.

Herod's Theory of the Works of Christ (Mt 14:1, 2).

1. At that time Herod the tetrarch—Herod Antipas, one of the three sons of Herod the Great, and own brother of Archelaus (Mt 2:22), who ruled as ethnarch over Galilee and Perea.

heard of the fame of Jesus—"for His name was spread abroad" (Mr 6:14).Matthew 14:1,2 Herod’s opinion of Christ.

Matthew 14:3-12 The cause and manner of John the Baptist’s death.

Matthew 14:13-21 Jesus departeth into a desert place, and feedeth there

five thousand men with five loaves and two fishes.

Matthew 14:22-33 He walketh on the sea to his disciples,

Matthew 14:34-36 and landing at Gennesaret, healeth the sick who

touched but the hem of his garment.

See Poole on "Matthew 14:2".

At that time Herod the tetrarch,.... Not Herod the Great, in whose reign Christ was born, and who slew the infants of Bethlehem, but his son; this was, as the Jewish chronologer (c) rightly observes,

"Herod Antipater, whom they call "the tetrarch"; the son of Herod the First, and brother of Archelaus, and the third king of the family of Herod.''

And though he is here called a "tetrarch", he is in Mark 6:14 called a king: the reason of his being styled a "tetrarch" was this; his father Herod divided his large kingdom into four parts, and bequeathed them to his sons, which was confirmed by the Roman senate: Archelaus reigned in Judea in his stead; upon whose decease, that part was put under the care of a Roman governor; who, when John the Baptist began to preach, was Pontius Pilate; this same Herod here spoken of, being "tetrarch" of Galilee, which was the part assigned him; and his brother Philip "tetrarch" of Ituraea, and of the region of Trachonitis; and Lysanias, "tetrarch" of Abilene, Luke 3:1 the word "tetrarch": signifying one that has the "fourth" part of government: and in Munster's Hebrew Gospel, he is called "one of the four princes"; and in the Arabic version, "a prince of the fourth part"; and in the Persic, a "governor of the fourth part of the kingdom". The "time" referred to, was after the death of John the Baptist; and when Christ had been for a good while, and in many places, preaching and working miracles; the particular instant which respect is had unto, is the sending forth of the twelve disciples to preach and work miracles; and which might serve the more to spread the fame of Christ, and which reached the court of Herod; who, it is said here,

heard of the fame of Jesus: what a wonderful preacher he was, and what mighty things were done by him.

(c) David Ganz. Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 25. 2. and so in Juchasin, fol. 142. 2.

{1} At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus,

(1) Here is in John, an example of an invincible courage, which all faithful ministers of God's word ought to follow: in Herod, an example of tyrannous vanity, pride, and cruelty, and in short, of a refined conscience, and of their miserable slavery, who have given themselves over to pleasure: in Herodias and her daughter, an example of whore-like licentious women, and womanly cruelty.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 14:1 f. Ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῷ καιρῷ] See Matthew 13:54-58. The more original narrative in Mark 6:14 ff. (comp. Luke 9:7-9) introduces this circumstance as well as the account of the Baptist’s death, between the sending out and the return of the Twelve, which, considering the excitement that had already been created by the doings of Jesus, would appear to be rather early. Yet Luke represents the imprisonment of John as having taken place much earlier still (Luke 3:19 ff.).

Ἡρώδης] Antipas. Comp. note on Matthew 2:22. Not a word about Jesus, the Jewish Rabbi and worker of miracles, had till now reached the ear of this licentious prince in his palace at Tiberias; because, without doubt, like those who lived about his court, he gave himself no particular concern about matters of this sort: he, upon this occasion, heard of Him for the first time in consequence of the excitement becoming every day greater and greater.

τ. ἀκοὴν Ἰησοῦ, as in Matthew 4:24.

Matthew 14:1-12. Death of the Baptist (Mark 6:14-29, Luke 9:7-9). This section might with advantage have been given as a short chapter by itself, and a new start made with the feeding of the thousands which forms the first of a series of narratives together giving the story of the later Galilean ministry (Matthew 14:3 to Matthew 20:16). In this section (Matthew 14:1-12) Matthew still has his eye on Mark, the story of the fate of the Baptist being there the next after the section in reference to mother and brethren, excepting the mission of the Twelve (Mark 6:7-13) already related in Mt. (Matthew 10:5-15). Indeed from this point onwards Matthew follows Mark’s order. In the foregoing part of this Gospel the parallelism between it and Mark has been disturbed by the desire of the evangelist to draw largely on his other source, the Logia, and introduce teaching materials bearing on all the topics suggested in his introductory sketch of Christ’s early Galilean ministry: Didache, chaps. 5–7; apostolic mission (4:18. 22), chap. 10; Baptist (chap. 3), chap. 11; Pharisees (chap. 3:7-9), chap. 12; popular preaching (Matthew 4:23), chap. 3 Chaps. 8, 9 disturb the order by grouping incidents illustrating the healing ministry.

1. At that time] During the missionary journey of the Twelve. See Mark loc. cit.

Herod] Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Peræa. He was a son of Herod the Great, and Malthakè, a Samaritan, who was also the mother of Archelaus and Olympias. He was thus of Gentile origin, and his early associations were Gentile, for he was brought up at Rome with his brother Archelaus. He married first a daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia, and afterwards, while his first wife was still living, he married Herodias, wife of his half-brother Philip,—who was living in a private station, and must not be confused with Philip the tetrarch of Iturea. Cruel, scheming, irresolute, and wicked, he was a type of the worst of tyrants. He intrigued to have the title of tetrarch changed for the higher title of king; very much as Charles the Bold, of Burgundy, endeavoured to change his dukedom into a kingdom. In pursuance of this scheme Antipas went to Rome “to receive for himself a kingdom and return” (Luke 19:12). He was however foiled in this attempt by the arts of his nephew Agrippa, and was eventually banished to Lyons, being accused of confederacy with Sejanus, and of an intention to revolt. Herodias was his worst enemy: she advised the two most fatal errors of his reign: the execution of John Baptist, which brought him into enmity with the Jews, and the attempt to gain the royal title, the result of which was his fall and banishment. But there is a touch of nobility in the determination she took to share her husband’s exile as she had shared his days of prosperity. For Herod’s designs against our Lord, see Luke 13:31; and for the part which he took in the Passion, see Luke 23:6-12.

the tetrarch] Literally, the ruler of a fourth part or district into which a province was divided; afterwards the name was extended to denote generally a petty king, the ruler of a provincial district. Deiotarus, whose cause Cicero supported, was tetrarch of Galatia. He is called king by Appian, just as Herod Antipas is called king, Matthew 14:9, and Mark 6:14.

Ch. Matthew 14:1-12. Herod the Tetrarch puts to death John the Baptist

Mark 6:14-29, where the further conjectures as to the personality of Jesus are given, “Elias, a [or the] prophet, or as one of the prophets,” and the whole account is narrated in the vivid dramatic manner of St Mark. St Luke relates the cause of the imprisonment, Mark 3:19-20; the conjectures as to Jesus, Matthew 9:7-9.

Matthew 14:1. Ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῷ καιρῷ, at that time) It was now about a year from the commencement of our Lord’s public ministry.—ἤκουσεν, heard) The ears and courts of kings resound with news; but spiritual matters, however widely published, scarcely ever arrive there.[654]

[654] And if they do reach them at all, they appear in an imperfect form and blended with what is false; nor are they easily turned to good purpose. Nevertheless, at times, a joyful exception to this is to be met with.—V. g.

Verses 1-36. - CHRIST'S POWER TO SUPPLY AND PROTECT AND HEAL, PREFACED BY A STATEMENT OF HEROD'S RELATION TO HIM. Verses 1-12. - Herod's opinion of Jesus, and a parenthetical account of his murder of John the Baptist. Parallel passages: Mark 6:14-29; Luke 9:7-9; Luke 3:19, 20. Verse 1. - At that time; season (Revised Version); Matthew 11:25, note. Herod the tetrarch; i.e. Antipas, youngest son of Herod the Great, and by one of his father's wills named his successor on the throne, but by the last will appointed only tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea. Though not legally king, he sometimes received the title by courtesy (ver. 9; Mark 6:14; cf. Matthew 2:1, note). "In point of character, Antipas was a genuine son of old Herod - sly, ambitious, and luxurious, only not so able as his father." He was deposed by Caligula, A.D. 39, when, at the instance of Herodias, he had gone to Rome to try to obtain the same title of king that had been granted to her brother Agrippa I. (Schurer, I. 2:18, 36). Heard of the fame - heard the report (Revised Version); Matthew 4:24, note - of Jesus. Matthew 14:1Tetrarch

A ruler of a fourth part. Archelaus had obtained two-fourths of his father's dominions, and Antipas (this Herod) and Philip each one-fourth.

The fame (ἀκοὴν)

Better as Rev., report. Lit., hearing.

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