The tragedy of Calvary: or the minute details of Christ's life from Palm Sunday morning till the resurrection and ascension taken prophecy, history, revelations and ancient writings
by Meagher, Jas. L. (James Luke), 1848-1920
When Herod Antipas, governor of Galilee, who lived at his new town of Tiberias, on the shores of the Sea, came up to Jerusalem to the great feasts of the Jews, he stopped at the house of his half-brother Herod Philip. There he seduced his brother's wife, and it was agreed between the guilty pair, that on his return from Rome he would drive from his house his legal wife, the daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia, and take to his bosom this debased woman.
But there was one only to tell them of the adulterous life they were leading. Down along the banks of the Jordan,'amid the tamarisks and green trees lining its banks, as its yellow waters sweep through the desert to the Dead Sea, John the Baptist was preaching penance for the forgiveness of sins, and telling the crowds who came to see and hear him preach, that the long looked for Messiah had come. The Eternal Father's voice had said Christ was His Son, the Holy Spirit had overshadowed Him in form of a dove, and John had pointed Him out as the real "Lamb of God" who was to take away the sins of the world, foretold by the Passover lamb of God sacrificed each Easter from the time of Moses.
This Herod Antipas had come to see John, and the latter with the Spirit of God in him boldly told him before the whole crowd:
"It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife." (Mark vi. 18.)
Stung to the quick, he told the adulterous woman. With the craft of a Herod, and the determination of a Jezebel, she induced her paramour to arrest and imprison John in the Machaerus fortress, built beside the sulphur'springs in the desert on the east of the Dead Sea.
There one day he gave a great dinner to his nobles, and wine flowed like water. Longing for new excitement, the half clothed Salome danced in the suggestive immodest style of the Orientals, to the delight of the whole company. The half drunken Herod promised her anything she would ask, even half his kingdom. Following the advice of her tricky brazen mother, Salome asked for the head of John the Baptist on a salver.
Herod was sad; but he had taken an oath to give her anything she might ask, he did not want to break his word before the company ; he said the word to the surrounding guards, the head of John the Baptist stricken off, was brought to the table. Herod handed the dish with its bloody head to Salome who gave it to her mother. (Mark vi. 14-28.) Thus died the "greatest man born of woman,": (Matt. xi. 11.) the last of the prophets. From his birth and infancy passed at that little hamlet four miles northwest of Jerusalem, John had passed his life in the deserts, preparing himself to fulfil the role of Elijah, whom the Hebrew prophets and Passover Service had foretold was to come before the Messiah.
There was no one now in Israel to disturb the union of the guilty couple. But the rejection of his lawful wife, the intrigues of Herodias caused a war between Herod and Aretas, king of Arabia. Herod's armies were defeated. It was about this time that he came to Jerusalem to attend the Passover, and he was living in the northeast of the Antonia, when Pilate sent" Christ to him to be judged, after he had heard that the latter was from Nazareth in Galilee.
Soon after the death of Christ, Herod went to Rome to obtain the title of king, which had been conferred on his brother. But the project failed, many complaints had been lodged against him, and the emperor banished him to Lyons, France, where he and Herodias perished miserably. Salome, Herodias' daughter, was afterwards married to her uncle Philip, her mother's husband. A legend says that visiting the north she fell through the ice, which closed in on her and cut oft' her head as a punishment, for the murder of John the Baptist. But we can hardly believe this statement, although we give it for what it is worth.