What does Mark 6:19 mean?Sandwiched between the story of Jesus equipping and sending out the Twelve to preach, heal, and expel demons (Mark 6:7–13) and their victorious return (Mark 6:30), Mark recounts the tragedy that befell the messenger who came before Jesus. John the Baptist is the son of the priest Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth (Luke 1:5–25). He is Jesus' cousin and herald (Mark 1:2–3). He wears "camel's hair and [wears] a leather belt around his waist and [eats] locusts and wild honey" (Mark 1:6). Scholars speculate that he is an Essene. The Essenes were a reclusive sect, combining the holiness and spiritual separation of the Pharisees with mysticism and a form of monasticism. It's believed they are responsible for the careful storage of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Herodias is the granddaughter of Herod the Great. Her father, Aristobulus, draws the jealousy of his father and brother and is strangled for treason. Her mother is accused of adultery by Salome, Herod the Great's sister, and executed. Herodias rises to a prominent position in Rome by marrying her half-uncle Philip, but like many descendants of Herod the Great, she wants more. Her divorce from Philip and marriage to Antipas gives her more than a life of luxury and esteem, it gives her power. Her name means "queen," and as the wife of a tetrarch, she is one step closer to fulfilling that role.
John the Baptist and his condemnation of her marriage as unlawful threatens everything Herodias has. Not only could he incite the Jewish leadership against her, his very presence as a public figure who does not respect her is a problem. She will soon use her daughter to solve this problem.
The hateful attitude of Herodias towards John the Baptist echoes other passages in the Bible. Queen Jezebel hated Elijah and tried to have him killed (1 Kings 19:1–3). The Jewish leaders hate Jesus and are successful in having Him killed (Mark 14—15). In all three cases, the love of the world and what it has to offer blinds the antagonists to the message of those trying to save them. This is the story humanity has struggled with since Eden.