Esther’s evil twin


Peter Leithart observes that both Esther and Herodias’ daughter are promised up to “half the kingdom.”

There are echoes in the story of the book of Esther, at least in Mark’s version of John’s execution. Matthew tells us that when the daughter of Herodias danced before Herod, he promised with an oath to give whatever she asked. Mark records Herod’s words somewhat differently: He promises not just to give what she asks, but promises to give up to half his kingdom (Mark 6:22-23). This is the same promise that Ahasuerus gives to Esther when she says she has a request for him (5:3, 6).

In both passages, we have a woman, a queen, requesting something from a king. In both stories, we have a king promising half his kingdom. We could even say that both Esther and Herodias are asking for someone’s head. Esther knows that Haman is plotting to kill all the Jews, and she is asking for his life in order to protect the Jews.

But there the similarities end. Esther appeals to the king to save the faithful in Israel, while the daughter of Herodias is instructed instead to ask for the head of a faithful man, albeit a troubler of Herod’s kingdom, a prophet who has made life difficult for Herod because of his faithfulness. Instead of being like the protective Ahasuerus in Esther, Herod is more like Haman, seeking to wipe out the true Israel.

Esther, like Deborah, and Jael, typifies Mary, the warrior bride whose offspring would crush the head of the serpent. A Nazirite growing his hair during a ‘holy war’ vow identified him with submission and purity. John uses Nazirite symbols to describe the bad Nazirites, the Judaising “locusts” troubling the church.

“And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.” Revelation 9:8 (and Joel 1:6)

They were negative-Nazirites, men who had taken vows to destroy the apostles (Acts 21:23). With the charm (and hair) of an army of Absaloms, their holy war was stamping out the Son of David. They were the false warrior bride, Herodias, seeking the head of the true Nazirite, Christ, in revenge for the victory over Goliath at the cross. This Herodias-Jezebel-Babylon of superseded Judaism would wipe out the true Israel at any cost.

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