ONE OF THE LESS OFFENSIVE ACTS of Herod Antipas was to walk off with his brother's wife, Herodias—at least there may have been something like love in it—but it was against the law, and since John the Baptist was a stickler for legalities, he gave Herod a hard time over it. Needless to say, this didn't endear him to Herodias, who urged her husband to make short work of him. Herod said he'd be only too pleased to oblige her, but unfortunately John was a strong man with a strong following, and it might lead to unpleasantness.

Then one day he threw himself a birthday party, possibly because he couldn't locate anybody who felt like throwing it for him, and one of the guests was Herodias's daughter from her former marriage. Her name was Salome, and she was both Herod's step-daughter and his niece. As it happened, she was also a whiz at dancing. Sometime during the evening she ripped off a little number that so tickled Herod that, carried away by the general hilarity of the occasion as he was, he told her he'd give her anything she wanted up to and including half of his kingdom. Since she already had everything a girl could want and was apparently not eager for all the headaches that taking over half the kingdom would undoubtedly involve, she went out and told her mother, Herodias, to advise her what she ought to ask for.

It didn't take Herodias twenty seconds to tell her. "The head of John," she snapped out, so that's what Salome went back and told Herod, adding only that she would prefer to have it served on a platter. No sooner was it brought to her than she got rid of it like a hot potato by handing it over to her mother. It's not hard to see why.

Salome disappears from history at that point, and you can only hope that she took the platter with her to remind her that she should be careful where she danced that particular dance in the future, and that she should never ask her mother's advice again about anything, and that even when you cut a saint's head off, that doesn't mean you've heard the last of him by a long shot.

Mark 6:17-22

-Originally published in Peculiar Treasures and later in Beyond Words

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