What is a “charger?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

We are most familiar with the King James Bible’s term “charger” with reference to John the Baptist’s death. The word is found four times here:

  • Matthew 14:8: “And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger.”
  • Matthew 14:11: “And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.”
  • Mark 6:25: “And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist.”
  • Mark 6:28: “And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother.”

If you read the context (Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29), Herodias—the former sister-in-law and current wife of Herod Antipas—purposed to kill John the Baptist for disapproving of their incestuous marriage. Antipas intervened and merely imprisoned John. Nevertheless, Herodias devised a plan. She used her young daughter (likely a teenager) to promiscuously dance before Antipas, seduce him, and cleverly persuade him to execute John by decapitation.

Then, through her daughter, Herodias requested John’s head be brought in a “charger.” This word is derived from an old French term “chargier,” “to load.” In Greek, it is “pinax.” It was rendered “platter” in Luke 11:39: “And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.” A platter is simply a large flat dish; a charger is similar, and often used to serve meat. Yea, Herodias was quite a nasty, vengeful “woman!”

Also see:
» What is a “besom?”
» What is a “wen?”
» What is a “daysman?”