John the Baptist was killed by an adulterous woman.
Her name was Herodias. She was the granddaughter of Herod the Great. She was the daughter of Herod’s niece Berenice. Her first husband was Herod II by Herod’s third wife (Herod II is known in Scripture as Herod Philip). Her second husband was Herod II’s brother Herod Antipas. Herod Antipas divorced his first wife Phasaelis to marry Herodias. Herodias divorced Herod II to marry Herod Antipas. This made her twice the daughter-in-law of Herod the Great.
John the Baptist preached against her sin, in part because she was also related by marriage to the Jewish High Priest Simon Boethus, who was the father of Herod’s third wife Mariamne II, the mother of Herod II. It was against Jewish law to marry another man while one’s husband was still alive, as explained later by the apostle Paul:
Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man. [Romans 7:1-3]
The only exception to this law as taught by the Lord Jesus is in the case of adultery, when the marriage covenant is violated. [See Matthew 5:32 and 19:9] The innocent spousal victim is consequently released from the broken marriage.
Despite John’s preaching against their adulterous marriage, Herod Antipas was afraid to execute him because John was beheld by a great many people as a prophet. But it was a much different story with Herodias. She loathed the Baptist. She loathed God’s law. She had determined to be a law unto herself. It was selfishness to the highest degree. In fact, she had become so self-centered in her sin she allowed herself to be overcome and possessed by a powerful demonic spirit. Herodias had decided to get John, and formulated a very well thought-out plan. Jezebel spirits always take the necessary time to set traps by enlisting the help of toadies. In this case, the principle toadies were her unsuspecting husband and complicitous daughter:
For when Herod had John arrested, he bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. For John had been saying to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” Although Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded John as a prophet.
But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod, so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. Having been prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” Although he was grieved, the king commanded it to be given because of his oaths, and because of his dinner guests. He sent and had John beheaded in the prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. [Matthew 14:3-11]
It was diabolical. It was a powerful affront to God. The demonic spirit working through a heavily scorned and angry woman brought the severed head of God’s prophet right out into the public and laughed. The party continued. Herodias was ecstatic.
This foul spirit gets its name from the demonic Baal-worshipping wife of the Hebrew King Ahab. She hated the Hebrew prophets with a passion, and killed them right and left. She especially hated Elijah, who had returned the favor and executed 450 prophets of Baal after calling fire down from heaven.
Now Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and even more, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” And he was afraid and arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. [1 Kings 19:1-3]
What happened to Elijah? This was a powerful man of God who previously had no fear of any man. Surely he did not suddenly develop a yellow streak, did he? The answer is easily explained when one understands that he was not afraid of Jezebel, but of the dominant demonic spirit within her. Though he had killed all the demon-possessed prophets of Baal, the most powerful demon remained and was determined to get him.
Isn’t it interesting that the Lord Jesus aligned John the Baptist with Elijah?
“And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” [Matthew 11:14-15]
The angel Gabriel told the father of John,
“It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” [Luke 1:17]
Jezebel and Herodias were possessed by the same foul spirit. It is a spirit that normally possesses adulterous women insistent upon having their way. Their desire is to be first and to exercise full control however they might. They will stoop to any level and partake of any sin to achieve their ends—which predominately lie in the elimination of God’s prophets. Jezebel incited Ahab to do his evil, and Herodias did the same with Herod Antipas.
The spirit succeeded in killing John the Baptist, possibly because John became vulnerable when he took offense at the Lord [See Matthew 11:6 and Luke 7:23]. Elijah, however, escaped. In time, Jezebel paid for her harlotries and witchcraft:
Now in the eleventh year of Joram, the son of Ahab, Ahaziah became king over Judah. When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it, and she painted her eyes and adorned her head and looked out the window. As Jehu entered the gate, she said, “Is it well, Zimri, your master’s murderer?” Then he lifted up his face to the window and said, “Who is on my side? Who?” And two or three officials looked down at him. He said, “Throw her down.” So they threw her down, and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall and on the horses, and he trampled her under foot.
When he came in, he ate and drank; and he said, “See now to this cursed woman and bury her, for she is a king’s daughter.” They went to bury her, but they found nothing more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands. Therefore they returned and told him. And he said, “This is the word of the LORD, which He spoke by His servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, ‘In the property of Jezreel the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel; and the corpse of Jezebel will be as dung on the face of the field in the property of Jezreel, so they cannot say, “This is Jezebel.”’” [2 Kings 9:29-37]
Her death had been prophesied. The agent of vengeance acted quickly with no compromise. And the Lord Jesus commands real believers to act upon the Jezebel spirit just as Jehu acted upon its host:
“But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.” [Revelation 2:20-23] 
© 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.