First, a disclaimer:
This article requires information about John the Baptist, whose life and works and words are holy, divinely inspired, to Christians. The sources I've accessed are religious, historical, literary, exegetic, and anecdotal. In order to avoid disrespect for the sacredness of the words and concepts with which Christians hold The Gospels and with which Jews hold The Torah, I've renamed both 'translated redactions.' I also use the euphemism, monotheistic god, to avoid any disrespect to any deity and religion. This is an essay designed to entertain and inform you, Dear Reader, not to cause any religious discussion or foment.
Second, a thank you:
To friend Pam and friend Vanessa, both of whom got my research juices going on Salome, whom, I believed, was trivial, too trivial even for our newsletter. It boiled down to "Who did she do the belly dance for?" I hadn't a clue, because I didn't think she was real. They both assured me she was a real person. I checked it out. Yup, she was real and...
To discover how the belly dance became associated with Salome, we have to veer away from her. It's Herodias and John who carry the story line forward.
At the time of the banquet, Herodias was the 2nd wife of Antipas, and they had been married for about 10 years. (Antipas was the only father Salome had known.) Salome's biological father was Phillip, who was King of Judea, a large land mass, much larger than the area called The Galilee, and he and Herodias were divorced when Salome was about 1 year old. Herodias had been an important wife when Phillip was first made King by Rome because of her Maccabean blood. The Maccabees had been rulers of Judea long before Phillip came on board, but through a lot of circumstances, Judea was ruled by the Herod bunch and had accepted Rome's yoke by that time. The Maccabees were prolific (as was Herod The Great), and there was a large pool of eligible Maccabean women for rulers to marry. It was a stable region in Rome's empire. In any event, the divorce was with Rome's permission. Phillip was allowed to marry some one else with Rome's permission, and I didn't check out who. He never asked for visitation rights.