Why would the Herodians want Jesus dead?
First of all, let us see what St. Mark says about this:
The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might put Him to death. - Mark 3:6, (NASB)
There is nothing more mysterious than a forensic biblical search into this subject matter.
Let us start with a little background. This is the first mention of the Herodians in the book of Mark. The Herods are a Jewish family who have received authority from the Roman occupiers to rule over Judea and Galilee. Herod the Great tried to kill Jesus shortly after His birth (Matthew 2:1–12). His kingdom was later split into four sections, and his son, Herod Antipas, rules over Galilee and nearby territories at the time of this story.
What is amazing thing about this verse is that both the Herodians and the Pharisees plot together to get rid of Jesus. But why?
In Matthew and Mark, Herod Antipas is ambivalent with regard to Jesus. Both gospels quote Herod Antipas as saying, after he has had John the Baptist executed, that Jesus is actually John resurrected (Matthew 14:1–2; Mark 6:14–16). Both gospels state that Antipas was actually saddened by Salome’s request to have John beheaded (Matthew 14:9; Mark 6:26), and they seem to blame Salome and her mother, Herodias, for John’s execution. Bound by his own oath, Antipas is nevertheless forced to fulfill his promise to Salome.
At the same time, however, we get the feeling in Matthew and Mark that Antipas is a shadow of death over Jesus. When Jesus hears that John has been killed, “he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place,” apparently fearful of Antipas (Matthew 14:13). In Mark 3:6, the Herodians counsel about how to kill Jesus, just as Jesus in Mark 8:15 warns against “the leaven of Herod.”
Luke’s account differs from Matthew’s and Mark’s by concentrating mostly on the trial of Jesus, for which Luke skillfully prepares his reader by references to Antipas along the way that build up an intense question in the reader’s mind: Is Antipas interested in Jesus or is he trying to kill him? (See Luke 3:19–20, 9:7–10, 13:31–33.) - Herod Antipas in the Bible and Beyond
Herod certainly feared for the control of his kingdom. After all he is responsible for the massacre of the Holy Innocents shortly after the birth of Jesus.
Could St. Mary Magdalen have anything to do with this? Although speculation at best, some are inclined to think so. Although somewhat interesting, this does lacks historical authority, unless you consider the Da Vinci Code and the Gnostic Gospels to be credible sources. But then again the Revelations of Catherine Emmerich offer some insights into this.
Magdala was a wealthy fishing village on the western shores of the Sea of Galilee. A town of only 3,000 inhabitants, Magdala’s wealth came from the fish caught there, which were then dried, salted, and exported. Fish as food had no kosher restrictions, so it was a popular commodity. According to the Talmud, Magdala was so wealthy its tributes to Jerusalem were conveyed by wagons.
For Jews the word ‘Magdala’ denoted a woman with loosed or plaited hair – in plain words, a harlot. Magdala the town had a reputation as lurid as its name. According to the Talmud, Magdala was destroyed by the Romans for its perversity (the Jewish War may have had something to do with it too). One thousand years later medieval writers interpreted ‘Magdala’ as ‘tower’ (from the Hebrew migdal). There were towers in Magdala that were spared by the Romans when they razed the town. One of the towers was the home of Mary of Magdala (or the Magdalene, as she is more commonly known).
Mary was born in a tower of a castle owned by her parents. When they died she inherited the castle and lived there at least until her conversion to Christianity. Mary’s parents were wealthy and influential, owning large properties in Magdala, Jerusalem, and Bethany, a suburb two miles south of Jerusalem. Mary‘s siblings, Martha (the oldest) and Lazarus, inherited the Jerusalem and Bethany estates.
As for Mary’s lineage, some say her parents were Cyrus and the Jewess Eucharia. Others believe Mary’s father was Theophilus, a rich Syrian prince. Little else is known about them. Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich was a visionary mystic of the Augustinian Order. She saw Eucharia as such a devout Pharisee that she converted her husband. Then they both led pious, even severe lives, against which young Mary rebelled.
According to Father Bruckberger, however, Mary’s parents were Sadducean and their devotion was to the enlightened ideas of their day: Greek Hellenism, a philosophy given to Israel by Alexander the Great.
As Mary of Magdala entered adulthood, the ideal of virtue espoused by Greek philosophers had devolved into an infatuation with sensuality and the human body as expressed in sports, dance, and (to the horror of pious Jews) naked gymnastics. It was believed Wisdom was a reflection of the beauty of the human form, and was nourished through rich food, fine clothes, and satisfying sexual appetite. Wisdom and purity were separated.
The occupying Romans proved as adept at practicing Hellenism as some Jews, like King Herod Antipas, who held decadent court in Tiberias. In addition to dances and feasts, his court contained numerous courtesans – well bred, beautiful ladies who used their bodies to secure social standing, political influence, and, it was thought, wisdom.
It is more likely that the Magdalene was a courtesan than a street prostitute. She was born into wealth, property, and influence. Given what we know about her parents and siblings, Mary was almost surely intelligent and talented. All legends about her agree on one other point – she was very beautiful. Blessed Sister Emmerich described her as:
“taller and more beautiful than the other women…robust, but yet graceful. She had very beautiful, tapering fingers, a small, delicate foot, a wealth of beautiful long hair, and there was something imposing in all her movements…”
In short, she was a young woman accustomed to privilege, who from an early age was exposed to all that was good and refined in life. It is doubtful Mary ever traveled in common circles.
She may have even adorned Herod’s court in Tiberias (named after the reigning Roman emperor), only three miles away from Magdala. Herod built the city Roman style, with a stadium, baths, temples to the gods, theaters, and aqueducts. Since Tiberias was more Roman than Jewish, and since a Jewish cemetery was desecrated during its construction, Herod had trouble populating his new city. Pious Jews considered Tiberias a monstrosity of impurity (they had a point). Herod eventually offered free land, which lured to Tiberias criminals and others for whom purity was not a preoccupation.
Given her social standing, her beauty, and her proximity to Tiberius, Mary of Magdala may well have been invited there by Herod himself. The power, pomp, and brazen decadence would have been difficult to resist. Some theorize Mary was at Herod’s palace when the head of John the Baptist was brought in on a platter, and that the saint’s blood played a role in Mary of Magdala’s conversion to Christianity. - Jesus and Mary Magdalene
Traditionally Catholics have identified St. Mary Magdalen with the "woman in the town who was a sinner" of Luke 7:36ff. But if indeed she did have ties to the court of Herod, would make sense that the Pharisees would have desired that Jesus would have got Mary of Magdalene stoned to death! After which all they would have to do is tell Herod that Jesus had Mary Magdalene condemned to death!
Whatever the reasons for the Herodians had for desiring Jesus’ death, they were not of a genuine love of Our Savior.
Remember well that during Jesus’ trial, both Herod and Pilate became friends!
Ultimately, Jesus certainly posed a political rival to the viewpoint of the Herodian’s political powers.