The coming of John the Baptizer – Baptizing of publicans and soldiers – Scribes and Pharisees investigate John – John rebukes the Pharisees – Gamaliel, Nicodemus, and Joseph of Arimathea – The voice of one crying in the wilderness – The coming of the Anointed One – Scribes and Pharisees are perplexed – Josephus Caiaphas plots against John – Judas of Kerioth is sent to spy on the Essene
1 These are the words which the Lord spoke concerning the coming forth of Yeshua unto the children of men, that all who should believe in him unto good works might become as Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
2 Now in the beginning did the Father elect to dwell among the children of his soul, that he might establish among them the way of exaltation, whereby as many as will, whether male or female, might inherit unto themselves a fullness of glory, even worlds without end.
3 Wherefore, seeing that many have erred concerning the words and deeds of the Promised One, it became expedient to set forth a true account whereby many should take to their soul a testimony concerning this Christ; that having professed aloud his name aforetime, they might even now take to their soul a sure knowledge of him.
4 Now in Caesarea did Pilate rule harshly over the lands of Palestine, being made subject himself unto Vitellius, Governor of Syria. Yet in Galilee and Perea did Herod reign wickedly, having been made king by Caesar Augustus.
5 And there arose against the king and against the temple in Jerusalem John the Baptizer, an Essene of great renown from the city of Khirbet Qumran, and he spoke hotly against the sins of Herod, and against the rulers of the temple did he lay forth strong accusations.
6 In those days did John the Baptizer preach aloud in the wilderness round about Bethabara, beyond Jordan. And he cried aloud unto all who would listen, saying: “Repent! Repent: for the kingdom of Heaven is near at hand. Turn you, turn you, even every one from the wickedness of his ways, for the kingdom of God draws nigh.”
7 And many spoke of him this saying: “Is this not he of whom Isaiah prophesied: The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
8 Thus did many have regard for him, and many went out from Jerusalem and all Judea and the regions round about to hear him. And there were many who were baptized in the waters of the Jordan, having believed in all his words.
9 And of all who came forth unto John, many asked of him, saying: “Good teacher, what shall we do, seeing that we are baptized unto repentance?”
10 And he answered them, saying: “If you would do good, then let him who has two coats give to him that has none; and if you have food enough to eat, then give unto the hungry a portion also.”
11 And among the people gathered there came forth certain publicans to be baptized also, and they spoke unto John, saying: “Tell us also, what shall we do?”
12 And he answered them, saying: “When you are sent by those who are over you to gather unto the treasury the taxes of the people, take no more than that which is appointed unto you.”
13 And there were also gathered among the people, soldiers of Rome, and many would not so much as stand near unto them, for they were not of the seed of Abraham; and many were astonished that John should number these Gentiles among the house of Israel; but John forbade no man the blessings of that God who called him forth.
14 And the soldiers, having received from John the baptism of repentance, asked of him, saying: “What thing shall we do, seeing that we, while yet soldiers unto Caesar, would draw nigh unto God?”
15 And he spoke unto them, saying: “Lay aside both sword and shield, and do harm to no man, neither accuse falsely the stranger at the door: thus shall you do righteously, and you shall be accepted of God.”
16 Now hearing these words, many were filled with expectation concerning the words of the prophets, and all men pondered in their hearts for John’s sake, whether or not he was the Anointed One, or perhaps some other.
17 But there came also from Jerusalem, many scribes and Pharisees who would scoff against him before all the people, saying: “Is this the prophet of God? Behold now this wild man whose garments are made of camel’s hair, being girded about his loins with a leather girdle only, who feeds himself upon the locusts and wild honey.
18 Is this the man that our fathers foretold of, even the one who should prepare the way of the Anointed One?” And they laughed aloud before the people in the midst of their ridicule.
19 And John turning to them, said, “You generation of vipers! Who then shall warn you against the wrath to come if not I? Therefore, turn yourselves unto God by bringing forth fruits worthy of repentance: for I tell you truly, there comes one after me whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose, even he who first spoke unto our fathers from the mount.
20 Therefore, turn yourselves unto God that you might live, and glory not among yourselves, saying: ‘We have Abraham for our father.’ For I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
21 For I, indeed, baptize with water unto repentance; but he who comes after me is greater than I; and in the fires of the Holy Spirit shall he baptize the children of his soul.”
22 And many of the scribes and Pharisees were astonished by the words of the Essene when he preached beyond Jordan in Perea. And there came unto him a multitude of people, and in the waters of the river did John baptize unto repentance the children of Abraham.
23 Now John drew to himself many disciples, and he taught them concerning the coming forth of the Holy One. And unto these did he give both power and authority to baptize in the regions round about.
24 And sending them forth, he commanded that they should warn the people that as many as would, even they might draw nigh unto God and therewith be cleansed of all unrighteousness.
25 And there came from Jerusalem, Gamaliel, a ruler of the Sanhedrin; and there was with him certain others also, even Nicodemus of the house of Hyrcanus, and Joseph of Arimathea.
26 Now Gamaliel was a master and teacher of the law, and he spoke unto John, saying: “Who are you? Come and tell us plainly, for many say that you are the Anointed One of God. Tell us then if this be so.”
27 But John answered, saying: “I am not the one you seek.” And another asked: “What then? Are you Elijah come back to life again? For, behold, our fathers have said that before the coming of the Anointed One, even God would send again Elijah unto the children of Abraham.
28 Tell us then if you are that prophet of whom our fathers spoke and deny not. What do you say for yourself? Tell us truly that we may give answer unto those that sent us.”
29 But John answered: “Have you not read even this saying: Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and the Lord, whom you seek, shall come suddenly to his temple, even the giver of that covenant which you delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.
30 But who may abide the day of his coming, and who shall stand when he appears? For he shall be like a refiner’s fire, and like unto a fuller’s soap.
31 And he shall sit as a refiner of precious things: and he shall purify the house of Israel, and he shall purge them of dross, even as fine gold and silver, that they might offer unto the Lord an offering of righteousness.”
32 And Gamaliel, hearing this, spoke, saying: “Are you then that Elijah, sent to prepare the way of the Lord?”
33 And John answered: “I am the voice of him that crieth in the wilderness: Prepare you the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
34 For at his coming shall every valley be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked path shall he make straight, and the rough and broken places shall he make fair and beautiful.
35 For the glory of the Father shall be revealed from above, and all flesh shall see it, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.
36 Rise forth, O Zion, and rejoice, for I bring you good tidings. Get thee up, O Jerusalem, stand you forth even as a bride upon the holy mount and lift up your voice with shouts of hosanna and be not afraid any longer; at his coming proclaim aloud unto the cities of Judah: Behold your God!”
37 Thus spoke John, and all who heard marveled at the beauty of his speech, for there shone from his countenance the knowledge of hidden things, and his wisdom was deep and piercing unto the soul of all who heard.
38 And Gamaliel, being troubled by the words of the Essene, spoke, saying: “If you are that one of whom the prophets speak, tell us then for what purpose both you and your disciples baptize in the waters round about.”
39 And John answered: “Truly do I baptize with water, that even all who would, whether male or female, might be made clean of all transgression.
40 But there shall come among you one who is preferred above me. He shall not baptize with water as I have done, but with fire shall he make whole even everyone who would enter into the presence of God.
41 For I would not have you ignorant concerning the coming forth of the Anointed One, but would that you should know him; that hearing his voice unto you, even everyone might embrace unto themselves the Father of their soul;
42 That through such wisdom as he would grant, even all might attain for themselves exaltation in the kingdom of the Father, being enlarged continually in the midst of great glory.
43 In that day shall the Lord give rest from all your sorrow and you shall fear no more the might of the oppressor, for he shall burst asunder that bondage wherein you are made to serve with bitter tears.
44 Therefore, prepare yourselves for the coming of the Anointed One, and if it so be that you will hear his voice to do according to his word, then shall you become as a pillar in the temple of the great God, and you shall go no more out from the presence of the Father that loves you from everlasting to everlasting.”
45 Now when they heard these things, they drew themselves again unto Jerusalem, deeply troubled. And Gamaliel spoke unto his companions, saying:
46 “What then shall we tell them who sent us? For if we tell them all which this man spake, they shall say that we have become his disciples and we shall lose our place among the rulers of the people.”
47 So spoke the learned among themselves in the midst of their perplexity. And when it was asked of them concerning this John, they answered, saying:
48 “How can we answer, seeing that we are but masters and teachers of the law, while this Baptizer is a man of dreams and visions. Go out and see for yourselves, perchance you shall take to yourself some greater understanding. As for ourselves, we can make no answer concerning him.”
49 Thus did many of the scribes and Pharisees go for themselves beyond Jordan, that they might see and hear for themselves the things which John spoke unto the house of Israel.
50 But in the secret watches of the night, Josephus Caiaphas called forth certain chief priests, that they might act wisely regarding this John, and they called forth unto them a certain man, and they commanded that he should go to the lands round about Bethabara, and finding the prophet baptizing in the waters of the Jordan, he should become as one of his disciples.
51 And whatsoever thing which John would say and do, even that should he make known unto the chief priests and elders of the temple. For they had determined secretly to put John to death, for unto whatsoever person he spoke, he would speak harshly against them.
52 So the man, having received his commission from the chief priests, went unto Bethabara, and finding the Essene, he knelt before him seeking baptism, for he professed aloud with many tears that he would be his disciple.
53 Now this man was called Judas of Kerioth, the son of Simon. And John, seeing him among the proselytes, spoke unto those standing near, saying: “Behold, the wolf has come to lay with the lamb.” And many wondered at his words.