John, the harbinger, returns to Hebron. Lives as a hermit in the wilds. Visits Jerusalem and speaks to the people.
2 And then he sought the wilderness and made his home in David's cave where many years before, he was instructed by the Egyptian sage.
3 Some people called him Hermit of Engedi; and others said, He is the Wild Man of the Hills.
4 He clothed himself with skins of beasts; his food was carobs, honey, nuts and fruits.
5 When John was thirty years of age he went into Jerusalem, and in the market place he sat in silence seven days.
6 The common people and the priests, the scribes and Pharisees came out in multitudes to see the silent hermit of the hills; but none were bold enough to ask him who he was.
7 But when his silent fast was done he stood forth in the midst of all and said:
8 Behold the king has come; the prophets told of him; the wise men long have looked for him.
9 Prepare, O Israel, prepare to meet your king.
10 And that was all he said, and then he disappeared, and no one knew where he had gone.
11 And there was great unrest through all Jerusalem. The rulers heard the story of the hermit of the hills.
12 And they sent couriers forth to talk with him that they might know about the coming king; but they could find him not.
13 And after certain days he came again into the market place, and all the city came to hear him speak; he said:
14 Be not disturbed, you rulers of the state; the coming king is no antagonist; he seeks no place on any earthly throne.
15 He comes the Prince of Peace, the king of righteousness and love; his kingdom is within the soul.
16 The eyes of men shall see it not and none can enter but the pure in heart.
17 Prepare, O Israel, prepare to meet your king.
18 Again the hermit disappeared; the people strove to follow him, but he had drawn a veil about his form and men could see him not.
19 A Jewish feast day came; Jerusalem was filled with Jews and proselytes from every part of Palestine, and John stood in the temple court and said,
20 Prepare, O Israel, prepare to meet your king.
21 Lo, you have lived in sin; the poor cry in your streets, and you regard them not.
22 Your neighbours, who are they? You have defrauded friend and foe alike.
23 You worship God with voice and lip; your hearts are far away, and set on gold.
24 Your priests have bound upon the people burdens far to great to bear; they live in ease upon the hard earned wages of the poor.
25 Your lawyers, doctors, scribes are useless cumberers of the ground; they are but tumours on the body of the state;
26 They toil not neither do they spin, yet they consume the profits of your marts of trade.
27 Your rulers are adulterers, extortioners and thieves, regarding not the rights of any man;
28 And robbers ply their calling in the sacred halls; the holy temple you have sold to thieves; their dens are in the sacred places set apart for prayer.
29 Hear! hear! you people of Jerusalem! Reform; turn from your evil ways or God will turn from you and heathen from afar will come, and what is left of all your honour and your fame will pass in one short hour.
30 Prepare, Jerusalem, prepare to meet your king.
31 He said no more; he left the court and no one saw him go.
32 The priests, the doctors and the scribes were all in rage. They sought for John intent to do him harm. They found him not.
33 The common people stood in his defence; they said, The hermit speaks the truth.
34 And then the priests, the doctors and the scribes were sore afraid; they said no more; they hid themselves away.