TWO SALOME (Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ)

The name Salome is the famine form of Solomon and is derived from the Greek word shalom which means peace. There are two women in the New Testament by name Salome.

1. Salome, Wife of Zebedee

The name Salome means peaceful in Hebrew. Only Mark mentions twice this Salome by name. First time she is named among the women at the foot of the Cross. Some women were there, looking on from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of the younger James and of Joseph, and Salome (Mk 15, 40).

Second time Salome is mentioned by name among the women who bought spices and went to the tomb of Jesus to anoint the body. After Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices to go and anoint the body of Jesus. Very early on Sunday morning, at sunrises, they went to the tomb (Mk 16, 1-2).

Mathew has also listed the women at the foot of the Cross naming the women in the same order like Mark but with one difference. Mathew has replaced the name Salome, last named in Marks list, with the wife of Zebedee. There were many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, and helped him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the wife of Zebedee (Mt 27, 55-56).

Luke in his Gospel does not name any woman but simply refers to them as the women. The women who had followed Jesus from Galilee went with Joseph (from Arimathea) and saw the tomb and how Jesus body was placed in it. Then they went back home and prepared the spices and perfumes for the body (Lk 23, 55-56). In fact, all three Synoptic Gospels mention that some women followed Jesus from Galilee and looked after the needs of Jesus and his disciples.

During Jesus Galilean ministry Mark has said that the two brothers James and John came to Jesus with a specific requests on the privileged place for themselves to sit one on the right and the other at the left of Jesus throne in his kingdom. (see Mk 10, 35-40). But in Mathews account of the same event, it is the mother of the two disciples, that is, the wife of Zebedee, who approache Jesus with the same request.

Then the wife of Zebedee came to Jesus with her two sons, bowed before him, and asked him a favour.

What do you want? Jesus asked her.

She answered, Promise me that these two sons of mine will sit at your right and your left when you are King.

You dont know what you are asking for, Jesus answered the sons. Can you drink the cup of suffering that I am about to drink?

We can, they answered.

You will indeed drink from my cup, Jesus told them, but I do not have the right to choose who will sit at my right and my left. These places belong to those for whom my Father has prepared them (Mt 20, 20-23).

Salome and her husband Zebedee must have been ideal parents for their children James and John. Salome is certainly a saintly woman who not only followed Jesus but also helped her two sons to become good disciples of Jesus. No wonder that her sons James and John are grouped with Peter in the inner group of Jesus disciples.

2. The Un-named Salome

This un-named Salome is the daughter of Herodias and the great grand-daughter of Herod the Great. The New Testament does not mention her name but refers to her simply as the daughter of Herodias. But we get the name of the daughter of Herodias from the Jewish historian Josephus. Salome was the daughter of Herodias by her first husband Herod Philip who was a son of Herod the Great.

We read about Herodias and her daughter in the account of John the Baptists death in the Gospel of Mark.

John the Baptist condemned Herodias for deserting her first husband and for adulterous relationship by becoming the wife of Herod Antipas, her uncle. John also fearlessly condemned Herod Antipas for taking Philips wife who was his own niece. The Jewish law forbids uncle-niece marriage.

Herod Antipas arrested John the Baptist and put him behind bar for speaking against him and Herodias. Yet Mark notes that Antipas feared John and protected him. But Herodias nursed a strong grudge against John the Baptist and looked for ways and means to do away with him.

Herodias got an opportunity to do away with John the Baptist. Mathew has narrated the event very succinctly. On Herods birthday the daughter of Herodias danced in front of the whole group. Herod was so pleased that he promised her, I swear that I will give you anything you ask for!

At her mothers suggestion she asked him, Give me here and now the head of John the Baptist on a dish!

The king was sad, but because of the promise he had made in front of all his guests he gave orders that her wish be granted. So he had John beheaded in prison. The head was brought in on a dish and given to the girl, who took it to her mother (Mt 14, 6-11; see also Mk 6, 21-28).

According to Jewish historian Josephus, the execution took place in the fortress of Machaeus beyond Jordan. Josephus has noted that Salome was sixteen years old at that time and later married Philip, the tetrarch of Iturea, Gaulanitis and Trachonitis. (Contact: यह ईमेल पता spambots से संरक्षित किया जा रहा है. आप जावास्क्रिप्ट यह देखने के सक्षम होना चाहिए. )

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