Luke 3: 19 “But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done …”
They fell in love (perhaps), but they were already married. So Antipas divorced his wife and Herodias divorced her uncle Philip and they were then free to marry, which they did.
For the Jew, this was unthinkable, appalling and they were angry at what was deemed unholy. Leviticus 20: 21 “If a man takes his brother’s wife, it is impurity. He has uncovered his brother’s nakedness. They shall be childless.”
It is difficult for us to understand this but there was just no way in the Jewish law and culture for a woman to divorce her husband for anything, never mind for loving another.
Herod Antipas had a problem because every Herod wanted to literally be what the name meant. The name Herod means ‘song of the hero’ or ‘warrior’ and it was the title given to several of the rulers of the Roman Empire at the time. But for Antipas he was aiming to be the hero of the Jews, the King of the Jews. His personal life was proving that this would never be the case for he now would be no hero to them, for Yahweh’s hero would never do such a thing.
When John rebuked Herod, he represented the whole of the Jewish people which Herod wanted to lead and be the hero of. Luke says John rebuked Herod for all the other evil things he had done. Jesus called him a fox for his scheming deceitfulness. This marriage was the tip of the iceberg and someone had to represent the people, someone had to stand up and say enough is enough. If John was calling ordinary people back to God then that call had to extend to the very top of society, to the royalty.
The Church needs to find our voice again. We need to represent our communities. We need to be their voice and to stand against injustice no matter the risk. We need to correct our world. We need to make it right again. We need to stand for the vulnerable, the poor and the marginalised. We need to stand for the Bible.