For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, because he had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not,20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.
21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee.22 For when Herodias's daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” 23 And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. He went and beheaded him in the prison 28 and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. Mark 6:17-28 ESV
What is up with the daughter of Herodias? Why did she behave as she did? Why is this information given us by the Holy Spirit in His word? How is it applicable for teaching, correcting, equipping, and training in righteousness? (1) What can we learn from this? What does it tell us about the demonic realm and how demons operate within people?
It appears she was very compliant. On top of that, she didn't appear to have a mind of her own. She didn't really own any desires personally apart from pleasing her mother. Although she was offered up to half the kingdom, she immediately agreed with the evil request of her mother without any indication of thinking, “Now what would I desire? What would glorify God? What would help my future career? What resources should I ask for that can help me to bless others? Half the kingdom should certainly be enough to start a business that incorporates my wildest dreams and passions in life. I could even make a dance studio…”
On the surface, it would seem to be honoring to one's parents to genuinely seek their counsel, respect their advice, and take their desires into consideration. But this account bears witness to a perversion of the commandment to honor one's parents. (2) Rather than biblical honor was a compliance to the evil, seductive, manipulative control of a Jezebel spirit. (3) If only the mother's selfish desires are fulfilled, but the daughter doesn't own any positive personal vision, ambition, or desires apart from pleasing her manipulative mother, then the fingerprints of the Jezebel spirit are present.
In other situations, I don't see anything wrong with considering and seeking parental counsel. But in this particular case, should it be not clear already, there are some “red flags” of family dysfunction:
Herodias’ daughter was given this generous granting of a wish by her father-in-law due to sensual conduct. Commentators understand that the dancing she did before her father-in-law, the king, and his dinner guests was more akin to something like “pole-dancing” than innocent “ballet.” That is, the purpose of her dance style was meant to evoke lust rather than mere ascetic appreciation.
Herodias wasn't at all concerned by her daughter’s dirty dancing. There's no strong parental discipline, counseling, or conversation about how her actions could affect her future relationships or diminish her value down to a lust object in the eyes of men.
There’s no spousal confrontation from Herodias to Herod to the effect of “You dare to treat my daughter this way?! I'm not going to tolerate this dishonorable conduct.” To the contrary, Herodias uses her daughter's actions as a tool of manipulation over her unlawfully-wedded husband to get her way.
Just like Jezebel got her way immediately without resistance in the case of Naboth’s vineyard in 1 Kings 21, Herodias had it her way immediately when John the Baptist was seamlessly executed. The men in places of authority didn't put up a fight to let due process or justice prevail for John the Baptist (or Naboth). Though greatly distressed, King Herod complied to his daughter-in-law's request so that he would not lose face before his dinner guests.
Herodias was guilty of sexual immorality (adultery) when she left her husband, Philip, to marry King Herod. This spirit of sexual immorality was passed on to her daughter, as evidenced by her shameless dirty dancing before her own father-in-law and dinner guests in the drunken orgy.
Herod, Herodias, and Philip are all identified in this account by their names. Why don't we know “the daughter of Herodias” on a first name basis in this account? Could it be that with manipulative, controlling Herodias (Jezebel) as a mother and compliant, passive Herod (Ahab) as a father, the daughter wasn't free to develop her own identity healthily? Her identity was bound in whatever her demonized parents wanted. She may never have felt the need to think for herself when her parents had her whole life planned out for her and/or never trained her up according to her own bent. (4)
There's little doubt that Herodias’ daughter came from a dysfunctional family and likely suffered from that torment through no necessary fault of her own. What then can we do if we notice such patterns in our own lives?
If you discover that your parents were more like Ahab and Jezebel than you previously thought, forgive them. See Matthew 18:21-35; Mark 11:25; Matthew 6:9-15; Luke 23:33-34
As you remember painful childhood memories, imagine Jesus entering the memory of that traumatic situation, doing what He would have done in that situation, embracing you in that situation, binding up your broken heart and soul fragments in that situation, and his blood washing over that situation. c.f. Isaiah 61:1; Ephesians 1:7-10
Learn to get free from generational curses and evil spirits. Just as Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit to bind up the broken-hearted (counseling), he was anointed to proclaim liberty to the captives (deliverance from demons). Personally, I would highly recommend books from Bob Larson. For starters, see Jezebel: Defeating Your #1 Spiritual Enemy and Dealing with Demons: An Introductory Guide to Exorcism and Discerning Evil Spirits.
This verse came to mind as I re-read how Herodias’ daughter was graciously offered up to half Herod’s kingdom:
"Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:32 ESV
The girl's father-in-law, who was evil, was willing to give any extravagant gift (up to half the kingdom) to her. How much more does your Father in heaven want to graciously give you all things--the entire kingdom! See Matthew 7:11; Romans 8:32. If you are God's child, then it pleases your heavenly Father to give you His kingdom! c.f. Romans 5:17. If you're not sure you're God's child and would like to be, I recommend my post “Did You Hear the News?”
See 2 Timothy 3:16
See Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1-3; Mark 7:10ff
Having the wisdom to distinguish between the identity of the mother and the Jezebel spirit within the mother by the Word of God will enable the Spirit-filled person to appropriately resist the evil spirit while loving and honoring the mother. In this case, Herodias’ daughter would acknowledge that requesting the execution of the greatest of all Old Testament prophets isn't a very righteous thing to do. But under the bewitching influence of her mother, she thought it was a great idea.
See Proverbs 22:6