From the Gospel of Mark, Chapter Six, verses Nineteen to Twenty-four. Herodias had a grudge against John (the Baptist) and wanted to kill him. But she could not do it because Herod was afraid of John and protected him. He knew that John was a good and holy man. Finally, Herodias got her chance when Herod gave a great birthday celebration for himself and invited his officials, his army officers, and the leaders of Galilee.
The daughter of Herodias (Salome) came in and danced for Herod and his guests. She pleased them so much that Herod said, “Ask for anything, and it’s yours! I swear that I will give you as much as half of my kingdom, if you want it.”
The girl left and asked her mother, “What do you think I should ask for?”
Her mother answered, “The head of John the Baptist!”
Whatever happened to Herodias’s daughter, Salome? Was she dancing the dance of a five year old, with all the joy and abandon that enchanted Herod on his birthday? Or that of a young teen, trying to attract a husband?
I think of this child, who naively asked her mother’s advice when Herod promised her anything. Did she have any concept of why her mother thought she should ask for the head of John the Baptist on a plate? Was she horrified by the power of her words to take a man’s life? What were her thoughts later, when she could have asked for anything she wanted? Would a mother who loved her daughter, choose something so evil, instead of good for her child?
Whatever became of Salome? Did she become as ruthless as her mother? Or was the shock of seeing John the Baptist’s head on a plate, an emotional scar she forever carried.
Artists tend to paint Salome as a seductress, rather than an innocent child, caught in the midst of palace subterfuge. Did her heart change when she saw the horror in the eyes of servants and heard their weeping? Did she eventually realize how twisted her mother’s mind was?
The historian Josephus tells us little about her life. We know she was married, but had no children with her first husband. A second marriage gave her three children. Did she become the mother to her children she needed, when Herodias interrupted her childhood, making Salome victim of her mother’s malevolence?
I’d like to think that word of Jesus reached Salome, with good news of God’s love for her. I like to think, a day came when she accepted God’s forgiveness, for the part she played in John the Baptist’s death.