Information about Mukawir

Location: Jordan

Modern Mukawir is Machaerus of biblical times. At the time of the Maccabean Revolt, the Hasmonaean dynasty had set up a powerful Jewish state east and west of the Jordan River.

They built a number of forts to protect their territory, one of which was Machaerus in the east, another was Masada in the west. Herod the Great later captured this region, and launched an ambitious construction campaign that included a great palace at Machaerus. After Herod the Great died, Machaerus passed on to his son Herod Antipas.

This site is best known as the place where Herod had John the Baptist beheaded, as recounted in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. The people of the region considered John the Baptist a holy man and prophet, but John was preaching against Herod Antipas and Herodias, because their marriage violated the law. Herod arrested John, imprisoned him in Mukawir, but did not kill him for fear of retribution from the people. Later, during a celebration at the palace, Herodias’ daughter Salome danced for Herod, who was so pleased that he promised to give Salome anything she wanted.


Herodias, angry at John’s condemnation, prompted her daughter to ask for John’s head, and Herod felt obliged to honor his word.