Herod learns of the supposed mission of John. The infants of Bethlehem are massacred by Herod's order. Elizabeth escapes with John. Because Zacharias cannot tell where his son is hidden, he is murdered. Herod dies.
NOW, when the magian priests did not return to tell him of the child that had been born a king, King Herod was enraged.
2 And then his courtiers told him of another child in Bethlehem, one born to go before and to prepare the people to receive the king.
3 This angered more and more the king; he called his guards and bid them go to Bethlehem and slay the infant John, as well as Jesus who was born to be a king.
4 He said, Let no mistake be made, and that you may be sure to slay these claimants to my throne, slay all the male children in the town not yet two years of age.
5 The guards went forth and did as Herod bade them do.
6 Elizabeth knew not that Herod sought to slay her son, and she and John were yet in Bethlehem; but when she knew, she took the infant John and hastened to the hills.
7 The murderous guards were near; they pressed upon her hard; but then she knew the secret caves in all the hills, and into one she ran and hid herself and John until the guards were gone.
8 Their cruel task was done; the guards returned and told the story to the king.
9 They said, We know that we have slain the infant king; but John his harbinger, we could not find.
10 The king was angry with his guards because they failed to slay the infant John; He sent them to the tower in chains.
11 And other guards were sent to Zacharias, father of the harbinger, while he was serving in the Holy Place, to say, The King demands that you shall tell where is your son.
12 But Zacharias did not know, and he replied, I am a minister of God, a servant in the Holy Place; how could I know where they have taken him?
13 And when the guards returned and told the King what Zacharias said, he was enraged and said,
14 My guards, go back and tell that wily priest that he is in my hands; that if he does not tell the truth, does not reveal the hiding place of John, his son, then he shall die.
15 The guards went back and told the priest just what the king had said.
16 And Zacharias said, I can but give my life for truth; and if the king does shed my blood the Lord will save my soul.
17 The guards again returned and told the king what Zacharias said.
18 Now, Zacharias stood before the alter in the Holy Place engaged in prayer.
19 A guard approached and with a dagger thrust him through; he fell and died before the curtain of the sanctuary of the Lord.
20 And when the hour of salutation came, for Zacharias daily blessed the priests, he did not come.
21 And after waiting long the priests went to the Holy Place and found the body of the dead.
22 And there was grief, deep grief, in all the land.
23 Now Herod sat upon his throne; he did not seem to move; his courtiers came; the king was dead. HIs sons reigned in his stead.