“Herod had laid hold of John and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife” (Matthew 14:3).
One of the most unusual, and often despised, carnivores in the world is the spotted hyena. This animal has a high intelligence that, at least in some circumstances, rivals the brain power of primates. In a Duke University study, for instance, two captive hyenas worked together to solve a complex problem on their own, one that proved much more difficult for chimpanzees.
In their matriarchal societies, female spotted hyenas are dominant, and the males have a low social status. Females are larger, stronger, and more aggressive than the males. These hyenas are known as vicious predators, often cruelly tearing into their prey to consume it even before killing it.
Likewise, Herodias, the wife of Herod Antipas, dominated her mate and displayed the viciousness of a hyena in her quest to destroy John the Baptist. This woman had left her first husband and had run off with Herod, his brother. After John condemned their adulterous relationship, she influenced Herod to throw him in prison. But she was still afraid her impressionable husband would continue listening to John; he might even repent and send her away, ending her royal status. So, she continued her devious plot against the prophet.
Knowing that Herod respected John, she couldn’t come right out and demand his execution. She had to find another way. When Herod’s birth- day rolled around, she recognized her opportunity. It was when Herod was heavily intoxicated and surrounded by important guests that she made her move. And Herodias would stop at nothing, even goading her own daughter into promiscuity in order to achieve her wicked goal.
Her murder of the holy prophet only intensified her troubles; her husband was continually tormented by guilt, and Herodias herself became despised for her evil actions.
Instead of continuing down the wrong path and reaping destruction, even Herodias could have turned from her sin and found forgiveness. God offers His grace to all: “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but who- ever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).
Dear Lord, thank You that even the worst of sinners can turn to You and receive forgiveness and new life.
For Further Study: Luke 3:19, 20; Mark 6:16–29; 1 Corinthians 6:9–11