Matthew 14:3
For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife.
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(3) Put him in prison.—Josephus (Ant. xviii. 5, § 2) gives Machærus, in Peræa, as the scene of the imprisonment and death of the Baptist.

Matthew 14:3-7. For Herod had laid hold on John — Had formerly seized him; and put him in prison for Herodias’s sake — On account of the reproof which John gave him for marrying Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife — Who was still living. For John said to him — Probably in some private conference he had with him, It is not lawful for thee to have her — Indeed it was not lawful for either of them to have her. For her father, Aristobulus, was their own brother. John’s words were rough, like his raiment. He would not break the force of truth by using soft words even to a king. And when he would have put him to death — In a fit of passion; he feared the multitude — He knew his abuse of his power had already rendered him odious to the people, and as their resentments were much excited already, he was afraid if he should proceed to put a prophet to death, they would break out into a flame which he could not quench. He was then restrained by fear of the multitude; and afterward by the reverence he had for John, Mark 6:19, &c. But when Herod’s birthday was kept — Some think, that by γενεσια, here rendered birthday, the day of Herod’s accession to his tetrarchy is meant: and the word may perhaps be sometimes used with this latitude; but, unless where there is positive evidence that it has that meaning, the safer way is to prefer the customary interpretation. The daughter of Herodias — Whose name was Salome, and who was afterward infamous for a life suitable to this beginning, danced before them — Doubtless in consequence of a previous plan laid by her mother. For “in ancient times, it was so far from being the custom for ladies of distinction to dance in public, that it was reckoned indecent if they were so much as present at public entertainments. Queen Vashti thought it so dishonourable, that, rather than submit to it, even when commanded by King Ahasuerus, she forfeited her crown. Esther 1:12. It may, therefore, be believed, that this dancing of Herodias’s daughter in such a large company of men, at a public entertainment, was a very extraordinary circumstance, and must have been brought about by some contrivance of her mother.” And pleased Herod — And also his guests, Mark 6:22, whereupon, being delighted with her dancing and heated with wine, he promised with an oath — Profanely and foolishly sware unto her, and that, it seems, more than once, both the evangelists using the plural, ορκους, oaths, (see Matthew 14:9, and Mark 6:26;) to give her whatsoever she would ask, even to the half of his kingdom, Mark 6:23. “Thus profusely would he reward a worthless dance; while a prison and death were the recompense of the man of God who honestly sought the salvation of his soul?” — Scott.

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.For Herod had laid hold on John ... - See Mark 6:17-20; Luke 3:19-20. This Herodias was a granddaughter of Herod the Great. She was first married to Herod Philip, by whom she had a daughter, Salome, probably the one that danced and pleased Herod. Josephus says that this marriage of Herod Antipas with Herodias took place while he was on a journey to Rome. He stopped at his brother's; fell in love with his wife; agreed to put away his own wife, the daughter of Aretas, King of Petraea; and Herodias agreed to leave her own husband and live with him. They were living, therefore, in adultery; and John, in faithfulness, though at the risk of his life, had reproved them for their crimes. Herod was guilty of two crimes in this act:

1. Of "adultery," since she was the wife of another man.

2. Of "incest," since she was a near relation, and such marriages were expressly forbidden, Leviticus 18:16.

2. And said unto his servants—his counsellors or court-ministers.

This is John the Baptist: he is risen from the dead, &c.—The murdered prophet haunted his guilty breast like a specter and seemed to him alive again and clothed with unearthly powers in the person of Jesus.

Account of the Baptist's Imprisonment and Death (Mt 14:3-12). For the exposition of this portion, see on [1301]Mr 6:17-29.

Mark saith, Mark 6:17, for he had married her. Whether this Philip was Herod’s brother both by father and mother, is argued by some, as also whether he married her during the life of his brother: the Scripture satisfieth us not in these things, but it is most probable that Philip was his own brother, and that he at least lived in adultery with her during the life of her husband, contrary to the express law of God, Leviticus 18:16.

For Herod had laid hold on John,.... By his servants, whom he sent to apprehend him:

and bound him; laid him in chains, as if he was a malefactor;

and put him in prison, in the castle of Machaerus (d),

for Herodias's sake; who was angry with him, had a bitter quarrel against him, and by whose instigation all this was done; who was

his brother Philip's wife. This Herodias was the daughter of Aristobulus, son to Herod the Great (e), and brother to Philip, and to this Herod; so that she was niece to them both; and first married the one, and then the other, whilst the former was living. Philip and this Herod were both sons of Herod the Great, but not by the same woman; Philip was born of Cleopatra of Jerusalem, and Herod Antipas of Malthace, a Samaritan (f); so that Philip was his brother by his father's side, but not by his mother's; the Evangelist Mark adds, "for he had married her": the case was this, Herod being sent for to Rome, called at his brother Philip's by the way, where he fell into an amorous intrigue with his wife, and agreed, upon his return, to take her with him and marry her; as he accordingly did, and divorced his own wife, who was daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia Petraea; which occasioned a war between Herod and his wife's father, in which the former was beaten (g),

(d) Joseph. Antiqu. 1. 18. c. 7. (e) Ib. c. 6. (f) Joseph. Antiqu. 1. 18. c. 6. de Bello Jud. l. 1. c. 28. sect. 7. (g) Joseph. Antiqu. 1. 18. c. 6.

For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife.
Matthew 14:3. Herodias was the daughter of Aristobulus, son of Herod the Great, and of Berenice. She married Herod Antipas, who had become so enamoured of her that he put away his wife, the daughter of the Arabian king Aretas. Joseph. Antt. xviii. 5. 1, 4. The brother of this Herod, Herod Philip (Mark 6:17), called by Josephus simply Herod, a son of Herod the Great and Mariamne, the high priest’s daughter, and not to be confounded[451] with Philip the tetrarch, who was Cleopatra’s son, had been disinherited by his father, and was living privately at Jerusalem in circumstances of considerable wealth. Joseph. Antt. xvii. 1. 2, 8. 2. The aorists are not to be taken in the sense of the pluperfect, but as purely historical. They relate, however (Chrysostom: διηγούμενος οὕτως φήσιν), a statement that has been already made in a previous passage (Matthew 4:12), namely, that Herod, in order to give a more minute account of the last (and now completed, see on Matthew 14:13) destiny of the Baptist, seized John, bound him, and so on. Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 173 [E. T. 200].

ἐν τῇ φυλακῇ] Comp. Matthew 11:2; for the pregnant use of the ἘΝ, see Kühner, II. 1, p. 385 f.; Buttmann, p. 283 [E. T. 329]. What Josephus, Antt. xviii. 5. 2, says about Machaerus being the place of imprisonment, is not to be regarded as incorrect (Glöckler and Hug, Gutachten, p. 32 f.); but see Wieseler, p. 244 f., to be compared, however, with Gerlach as above, p. 49 f. On the date of John’s arrest (782 U.C., or 29 Aer. Dion.), see Anger, rat. temp. p. 195; Wieseler, p. 238 ff.; and in Herzog’s Encycl. XXI. p. 548 f., also in his Beitr. p. 3 ff. Otherwise, Keim, I. p. 621 ff. (Aer. Dion. 34–35), with whom Hausrath substantially agrees. For ἀπέθετο (see critical notes), comp. 2 Chronicles 18:26; Polyb. xxiv. 8. 8 (ΕἸς ΦΥΛΑΚΉΝ).

[451] Ewald, Gesch. Chr. p. 51, thinks that Mark has fallen into this error, and that the omission of the name Philip in Matthew and Luke (Luke 3:19) should be regarded as intended to correct it. Comp. also Hase, Bleek, Volkmar, Keim. No doubt it is strange that the two sons of Herod the Great should have borne the name Philip. But then this was only a surname, while it is to be remembered that Herod had also two sons, both of whom were called Antipater. Besides, the two Philips were only half-brothers. See Gerlach also in the Luther. Zeitschr. 1869, p. 32 f.; Wieseler, Beitr. p. 7.

Matthew 14:3. γὰρ implies that the following story is introduced to make the king’s theory intelligible. “Risen” implies previous death, and how that came about must be told to show the psychological genesis of the theory. It is the superstitious idea of a man who has murder on his conscience.—κρατήσας, etc.: fact referred to already in Matthew 4:12, Matthew 11:2; here the reason given. Of course Herod seized, bound, and imprisoned John through his agents.—διὰ Ἡρωδιάδα: a woman here, as so often, the cause of the tragedy.—γυναῖκα φ.: vide on Mk.

3. in prison] At Machærus, in Peræa, on the eastern side of the Dead Sea, near the southern frontier of the tetrarchy. Here Antipas had a palace and a prison under one roof, as was common in the East. Cp. Nehemiah 3:25, “The tower which lieth out from the king’s high house that was by the court of the prison.” It was the ordinary arrangement in feudal castles. At Machærus, now M’khaur, remains of buildings are still visible. These are probably the ruins of the Baptist’s prison. Herod was living in this border fortress in order to prosecute the war with his offended father-in-law, Aretas. He was completely vanquished—a disaster popularly ascribed to his treatment of John the Baptist.

Matthew 14:3. Ἡρωδιάδα, Herodias) This princess was hostile to the latter Elias, as Jezebel to the former.—τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ, his brother) Most authorities[662] prefix Φιλίππου from St Mark, who is known not to have taken all things from St Matthew by his being the only one who names this brother of Herod. The shorter reading of St Matthew has been preserved intact by the Vulgate, ‘fratris,’ of his brother, alive, and not childless, as we learn from Josephus, 18. 7; but it was sufficient for the Evangelist to say that he was his brother. Herodias[663] was also the niece of both, being the daughter of their brother Aristobulus.

[662] Such is the reading of E. M. In his App. Crit. Bengel writes,—“(Φιλίππου) Lat. plerique, et inde Cant. Angl. Mag. Augustin. sed habet Sax. Φιλίππου, præmittunt plerique ex Marco. Brevior,” etc., as in Gnomon.—(I. B.)

[663] See Genealogical Table, p. 120.—(I. B.)

Lachm. with BZ Orig. 3, 470b. reads Φιλίππουαὐτοῦ. b has αὐτιὺ Φιλίππου. Tischend. omits Φιλίππου with Da (?) c Vulg. Φιλίππου looks like a gloss of the harmonies from Mark 6:17. However, the omission might also come similarly from Luke 3:19.—ED.

The marg. of both Editions agree with the Gnomon. But Vers. Germ. retains Φιλίππου in this passage.—E. B.

Verse 3. - For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him. Although had simplifies the meaning to the English reader, as definitely marking what must have been the case, that John's imprisonment began some time before, yet in the Greek only the aorist is used to commence a vivid narrative. And put him in prison; "put him away in prison (ἐν φυλακῇ ἀπέθετο)." So of Micaiah by Ahab (2 Chronicles 18:26, LXX., but not Lucian's text). Probably here in allusion to the distance of Machaerus from Herod's usual residence at Tiberius. Possibly, also, a reference to John being safer there from the designs of Herodias (Mark 6:19, 20). Anyhow, notice the stages in Herod's action - capture, binding, imprisonment in a place where he was quite out of the way. For Herodias' sake. John was imprisoned, according to the New Testament,

(1) as a punishment for his rebuke of Herod;

(2) to protect him from Herodias' vengeance. (On the statement by Josephus, that it was for political reasons, see Matthew 3:1, note.) His brother Philip's wife. According to Josephus ('Ant.,' 18:05. 4), the first husband of Herodias was "Herod," son of Herod the Great by Mariamne the high priest's daughter, and the daughter of Herodias, Salome, married Philip the tetrarch, who was also the son of Herod the Great by Cleopatra of Jerusalem. Hence many critics (e.g. Ewald; Schurer, I. 2:22) suppose the account in Matthew and Mark to be mistaken, and due to a confusion of Herodias with her daughter. But, although it is curious that two sons of Herod the Great should have been called Philip, yet, in view of their being by different mothers, it cannot be pronounced impossible ("Antipas" and "Antipater" are not precisely identical). Besides, Herod the son of Mariamne would probably have had some other name than that of his father alone. It is noticeable that, in the same context, Josephus speaks also of Antipas by the name Herod only. Matthew 14:3Put him in prison

(ἐν φυλακῇ απέθετο). Lit., "put him away or aside" (ἀπὸ). This prison was the fortress of Machaerus on the east side of the Dead Sea, almost on a line with Bethlehem, above the gorge which divided the Mountains of Abarim from the range of Pisgah. Perched on an isolated cliff at the end of a narrow ridge, encompassed with deep ravines, was the citadel. At the other end of this ridge Herod built a great wall, with towers two hundred feet high at the corners; and within this inclosure, a magnificent palace, with colonnades, baths, cisterns, arsenals - every provision, in short, for luxury and for defence against siege. The windows commanded a wide and grand prospect, including the Dead Sea, the course of the Jordan, and Jerusalem. In the detached citadel, probably in one of the underground dungeons, remains of which may still be seen, was the prison of John. "We return through what we regard as the ruins of the magnificent castle-palace of Herod, to the highest and strongest part of the defences - the eastern keep or the citadel, on the steep slope, one hundred and fifty yards up. The foundations of the walls all around, to the height of a yard or two above the ground, are still standing. As we clamber over them to examine the interior, we notice how small this keep is: exactly one hundred yards in diameter. There are scarcely any remains of it left. A well of great depth, and a deep, cemented cistern, with the vaulting of the roof still complete, and - of most terrible interest to us - two dungeons, one of them deep down, its sides scarcely broken in, ' with small holes still visible in the masonry where staples of wood and iron had once been fixed!' As we look down into its hot darkness, we shudder in realizing that this terrible keep had, for nigh ten months, been the prison of that son of the free wilderness, the bold herald of the coming kingdom, the humble, earnest, self-denying John the Baptist" (Edersheim, "Life and Times of Jesus").

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