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p. 89



   JOHN the Baptist lived thirty yeats in the desert with the wild beasts; and after thirty years he came from the wilderness to the habitations of men. From the day when his father made him flee to the desert, when he was a child, until he came (again), he covered himself with the same clothes both summer and winter, without changing his ascetic mode of life. And he preached in the wilderness of Judaea, saying, 'Repent, the kingdom of God draweth nigh;' and he baptised them with the baptism of repentance for the remission of their sins. He said to them, 'Behold, there cometh after me a man who is stronger than I, the latchets of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose. I baptise you with water for repentance, but He who cometh after me is stronger than I; He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire:' thereby referring to that which was about to be wrought on the apostles, who received the Holy Spirit by tongues of fire, and this took the place of baptism to them, and by this grace they were about to receive all those who were baptised in Christ. Jesus came to John at the river Jordan to be baptised by him; but John restrained Him, saying, 'I need to be baptised by Thee, and art Thou come to me?' Jesus said to him, 'It is meet thus to fulfil the words of prophecy.' When Jesus had been baptised, as soon as He had gone up from the water, He saw that the heavens were rent, and the Spirit like a dove descended upon Him, and a voice from heaven said, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.' On this day the Trinity was revealed to men; by the Father who cried out, and by the Son who was baptised, and by the Holy Spirit which came down upon Him in the corporeal form of a dove. Touching the voice which was heard from heaven, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye Him,' every one heard the voice; but John only was worthy p. 90 to see the vision of the Spirit by the mind. The day of our Lord's birth was the fourth day of the week, but the day of His baptism was the fifth. When John rebuked Herod, saying that it was not lawful for him to take his brother Philip's wife, he seized John, and cast him into the prison called Machaerûs1. And it came to pass on a certain day, when Herod on his birthday made a feast for his nobles, that Bôzîyâ, the daughter of Herodias, came in and danced before the guests; and she was pleasing in the sight of Herod and his nobles. And he said to her, 'Ask of me whatsoever thou desirest and I will give it to thee;' and he sware to her saying that whatever she asked he would give it to her, unto the half of his kingdom. She then went in to Herodias her mother and said to her, 'What shall I ask of him?' She said to her, 'The head of John the Baptist;' for the wretched woman thought that when John should be slain, she and her daughter would be free from the reprover, and would have an opportunity to indulge their lust: for Herod committed adultery with the mother and with her daughter. Then she went in to the king's presence and said to him, 'Give me now the head of John the Baptist on a charger.' And the king shewed sorrow, as if, forsooth, he was not delighted at the murder of the saint; but by reason of the force and compulsion of the oath he was obliged to cut off John's head. If, O wretched Herod, she had demanded of thee the half of thy kingdom, that she might sit upon the throne beside thee and divide (it) with thee, wouldst thou have acceded to her, and not have falsified thy oath, O crafty one? And the king commanded an executioner, and he cut off the head of the blessed man, and he put it in a charger and brought and gave it to the damsel, and the damsel gave it to her mother. Then she went out to dance upon the ice, and it opened under her, and she sank into the water up to her neck; and no one was able to deliver her. And they brought the sword with which John's head had been cut off, and cut off hers and carried it to Herodias her mother. When she saw her daughter's head and that of the holy man, she became blind, and her right hand, with which she had taken up John's head, dried up; and p. 91 her tongue dried up, because she had reviled him, and Satan entered into her, and she was bound with fetters. Some say that the daughter of Herodias was called Bôzîyâ, but others say that she also was called by her mother's name Herodias. When John was slain, his disciples came and took his body and laid him in a grave; and they came and told Jesus. The two disciples whom John sent to our Lord, saying, 'Art thou He that should come, or do we look for another1,' were Stephen the martyr and deacon, and Hananyah (Ananias) who baptised Paul. Some say that the wild honey and locusts, which he fed upon in the wilderness, was manna,--which was the food of the children of Israel, and of which Enoch and Elijah eat in Paradise,--for its taste is like that of honey. Moses compares it to coriander seed2, and the anchorites in the mountains feed upon it. Others say that it was a root like unto a carrot3; it is called Kâmûs, and its taste is sweet like honey-comb. Others say that the locusts were in reality some of those which exist in the world, and that the honey-comb was that which is woven by the little bees, and is found in small white cakes in desert places.



p. 89

1 In the Oxford MS. chap. xlv.

2 Matt. chap. iii.

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1 Μαχαιρου̑ς {Greek: Maxairous}, a fortress situated on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea; Josephus, Antiq., xviii. 5. 2.

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1 Matt. xi. 3.

2 See Löw, Aram. Pflanzennamen, p. 209, no. 155.

3 Σταφυλι̑νος {Greek: Stafulinos}. See Löw, Aram. Pflanzennamen, p. 86, no. 64.