- Herod was not really a “king” but a “tetrarch” or “governor”, a lower rank of leader (Matthew 14:1). However, he very much wanted to be king, so this may be an ironic detail that Mark adds.
- Herod ruled over Galilee and Perea and founded the city of Tiberias.
- This Herod was the son of Herod the Great who murdered the boys in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16).
- It seems that it was not uncommon for people around Jesus to believe that he was an Old Testament prophet who had been resurrected (Matthew 16:13-14, Luke 9:8).
- Elijah was one of the first and greatest prophets of the Old Testament (1 Kings 17-2, 2 Kings).
- Malachi prophesied that Elijah would appear just before the Messiah and make way for him (Mal 3:1, 4:5-6).
- This “Elijah role” is given to John the Baptist (Matt 11:14).
- Elijah’s disciple Elisha received a “double inheritance of Elijah’s spirit” when Elijah died, in other words, Elisha was allowed to continue Elijah’s prophetic work but received twice as much of God’s power in his life (2 Kings 2:9).
- It may be a distorted view of this that Herod believes that John the Baptist has been resurrected in Jesus in the same way that Elisha received double power when Elijah died.
- Another similarity between John the Baptist and Elijah is that the queen who lived in Elijah’s time, Jezebel, strongly influenced her husband the king and even tried to assassinate God’s prophet Elijah but failed (1 Kings 19:2). Now Herodias influences her husband Herod to murder John and succeeds.
- Moses had prophesied that a prophet like Moses himself would come (Deuteronomy 18:18-19).
- Some believed that Jesus was this prophet (Acts 3:22, 7:37).
- Herod seems to have appreciated John the Baptist and considered him a prophet, but he did not let his life be influenced by John:
- When John the Baptist referred to the word of God and called Herod to change, he did not listen (Leviticus 20:21).
- When Herodias wanted to execute John, he finally agreed.
- The mistake Herod made was that he was unable to give himself wholeheartedly to God, but instead was torn between his respect for John and his love for his wife. Unable to decide which leg to stand on, his wife Herodias eventually won.