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Machaerus: Where Salome Danced and John the Baptist Was Beheaded
Salome danced at Machaerus. And John the Baptist was beheaded there. The gospel story is supplemented by the Jewish historian Josephus: It all began when Herod Antipas (King Herod the Great’s son who ruled Galilee and Perea between 4 B.C. and 39 A.D.; see the following article) lusted after his brother’s wife Herodias. Herod Antipas persuaded Herodias to divorce her husband and marry him. This union was denounced as unlawful by John the Baptist,1 which naturally made Herodias furious with him. During her first marriage, Herodias had born a daughter named Salome, who danced for her new step-father, Herod Antipas, at his famous birthday party at Machaerus. Herod Antipas was so pleased with her dance that he “promised an oath to grant her whatever she might ask” (Matthew 14:7 [see sidebar]; see also Mark 6:23). “Prompted by her mother,” Salome asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. “Out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he commanded it to be given; he sent and had John beheaded in the prison” (Matthew 14:8–10; see also Mark 6:24–28). According to Josephus, the Baptist was brought to Machaerus in chains and put to death.2

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