Mark 6:21-25

Mark 6:21 (KJB)
And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee;

From the wording of this verse, it seems like Herodias was waiting for an opportune time to move against John. In fact the word in the Greek for “convenient” means “opportune or well-timed.” Herod’s birthday was approaching and her plan was soon going to be implemented. The celebration of a birthday was actually a heathen practice. (Gen 40:20 KJV) And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants. Birthdays were also celebrated in the time of Joseph and his Pharaoh. The Jews actually had condemned such festivities. Herod had invited all of the important men in his government. The high captains were those commanders in the Roman army which would have been stationed in that area. Those in the chief estates were the rich and influential people.

Mark 6:22 (KJB)
And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee.

The type of dancing that Salome did was no doubt lewd and suggestive, just like the dancing of today. Herod no doubt was pleased immensely by the dance since it was the type of dance he would give approval to, knowing that he did not care about God’s law. The Herods were descendants of Edom and not Israel, so their pagan roots ran deep. Her dance was so moving to him, obviously in a sexual way that he was willing to make an oath in front of all the guests that he would grant her whatever she had asked. Alcohol and promiscuity are two major reasons for the downfall of many a politician. He promised her that whatever she asked for, he would give it to her. This is what happens when we open our mouth before we have all the facts. He should have waited to see what she wanted before making an oath to grant her anything. A blank check can be a very dangerous thing.

Mark 6:23 (KJB)
And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom.

Herod could not have made good if she did want half of his kingdom because he had no kingdom since he was a puppet ruler under Rome. In ancient literature the term “half of my kingdom” also was a synonym for the generosity of the one making the offer. Queen Esther was also given that promise by King Ahasuerus (Est 7:2 KJV) And the king said again unto Esther on the second day at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition, queen Esther? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? and it shall be performed, even to the half of the kingdom. Herod had sworn that he would give her whatever she wanted so there was no turning back on the promise or else he would lose face in front of that influential crowd.

Mark 6:24 (KJB)
And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist.

Basically her mother and her were in collusion about what to ask for. It was a planned event where Salome would dance very provocatively knowing that when a man has a few drinks, his defense mechanisms are lowered drastically plus he had made the oath in front of all the guests. So Salome already knew what she wanted and that was the murder of John the Baptist so there would be no further chance of John convincing Herod to abandon their marriage and send her packing. Herod probably knew that something bad was coming as soon as Salome decided to ask her mother what she should ask for.

Mark 6:25 (KJB)
And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist.

Then Salome immediately came into the king’s presence and told him what she wanted and that was the head of John the Baptist on a charger. The charger was a big plate or platter. Actually she had demanded John’s head. Then the verse states “by and by” which means she wanted the execution to take place at once, without hesitation. Herodias did not want John around any longer than necessary. She wanted the threat of Herod growing a conscience to be cut off as soon as possible.