sifra deyohanan nebiya tebila

ha-séifer yochanan ha-matbil ha-n’vi


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          The Exhortations is our equivalent of the New Testament, but does not have any scriptural authority; the only scriptural authority for Talmidis is the Galilean canon of the Hebrew Bible; therefore you do not have to agree with the contents of The Exhortations in order to call oneself a Talmidi.


1.           1In the eleventh year of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius – when Herod Antipas was tetrarch of the Galilee and Perea, and Valerius Gratus was governor of Judea – 2the Message of YHVH came to Yochanan son of Zekharyah while he was living in a community in the Judean desert.

              3He had been given into their care as a child to live a holy life, in fulfilment of the sacred vow his mother Elisheva` had made before he was conceived; and he was the only child of a priest, of the division of Aviyah, a descendant of Aaron. 4Both his parents had been upright in their service of God, and had walked blamelessly in all the commandments and principles of YHVH.

              5And Yochanan was told in a vision, ‘You shall be called a prophet of God Most High, and you will call many in Israel back to the ways of YHVH their God; for you shall go forth ahead of YHVH, to prepare a way before Him. 6You shall give His people a true understanding of repentance and the forgiveness of sins, 7and you shall reconcile parents with their children, return the disobedient to the attitude of the upright, and prepare a people fit for the service of YHVH.

              8 Now it was believed by many that it is the blood of sin-offerings which cleanses us of sin, and so the haughty, the unmerciful and the selfish would come away from the House of God, still unclean and still impure of heart. 9So Yochanan went to all the country around the river Jordan, preaching that we should repent even before we immerse ourselves – prior to making sin-offerings in the Temple – so that we will truly be cleansed of our sins by God. 10Thereafter, many people in Jerusalem and the Judean countryside went out to him to be immersed. 11And he called many people back to God’s ways, and attracted many followers.

1Now Yochanan appeared in the desert, and exhorted the people to return to God’s ways, saying, ‘Repent, for the Day of the Holy One is near!’ For God was sending His messenger to clear a path before Him, to prepare His people for the tribulation soon to come.

              2And Yochanan’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 3People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea, and the whole region of the Jordan.

              4Now YHVH had told Yochanan in a vision, ‘See how the unrighteous and the unrepentant offer sin offerings in My sanctuary, and yet remain impure of heart. They think that the blood of their sacrifices will make atonement for them. 5Therefore say to the people, “The great and terrible Day is near. Come therefore and be immersed; confess your sins sincerely in your heart and repent, and you will be made whole.” 6By this act of immersion, they will learn what repentance and forgiveness truly are; I will heal them and sanctify them once more, and the fire of My glory will not harm the righteous of the Land.’

              7So Yochanan went to the people, and called them to come and be immersed by him. 8And once they had confessed their sins in their heart to YHVH, Yochanan immersed them, 9and the act of immersion was for them a sign that they had been forgiven by God, since they had truly repented in their hearts, and had asked for a forgiveness of their sins.

1Yochanan taught that the heart had to be purified by repentance before the body could be purified by water. 2But among the crowds coming to him, there were people who did not repent in their heart, and did not ask God for forgiveness, and intended to abuse the rite of immersion in the same way as they had abused the sin-offering.

              3So the Message of God filled his soul, and he cried out, saying, 4‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 5And do not say to yourselves, “We have Avraham as our father”, because I tell you that out of these stones, God can raise up children for Avraham. 6The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and cast into the fire!’

1Even the chief priests of the Sadducees came to him for immersion, and to them he said, 2‘You fakers! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything that is ritually unfit! 3In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous, but on the inside you are full of deception and wickedness!’

              4The rich and the powerful also came to him to be immersed, among them those who were known for their contempt of the poor of the Land. 5To them Yochanan said, ‘Woe to you rich, for you open wide your purses, and pour out many kikkarin of gold for those who can bring you more wealth and prestige, 6but you close off your purses to the poor, and you will not spare them even one prutah! 7You have your wealth now as your consolation, but the day is coming when your consolation will be taken away from you! 8And then you will mourn and weep for what you have lost!’

              9Furthermore, he pointed out other fakers who came to him without repentance, and he warned them, saying, ‘God’s winnowing fan is already in His hand; He will clear His threshing floor thoroughly, and gather the wheat into His granary, 10but the chaff He will burn up with fire that cannot be extinguished!’

1When Yochanan said these things, the people grew afraid and said to him, ‘Then tell us Teacher, what should we do?’

              2So Yochanan replied to them, saying, ‘When you see the poor, don’t pass them by, but give alms. 3He who has two tunics should share with the one who has none, and anyone with something to eat must do the same. 4Don’t abandon widows and orphans, and don’t hate your neighbour in your heart. 5Children, respect your parents; and parents, turn your hearts in love to your children. 6Remember the covenant which our God made with our ancestors, and remain faithful to it.’

              7And tax collectors came to him to confess and be immersed. And they said to him, ‘Teacher, what should we do?’

              8So he told them, ‘Don’t collect any more in taxes than you are required to.’

              9And some of Herod’s soldiers also said, ‘And what should we do?’

              10So he told them, ‘Don’t extort money, and don’t accuse people falsely – be content with your pay.’

6.           1Now the ruler of the Galilee at that time was Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, and of Doris, one of his many wives. 2At first, Antipas had been married to Phasaelis, the daughter of Aretas, the king of the Nabateans. 3But while he was in Rome, Antipas fell in love with Herodias, the daughter of his half-brother Aristobolus. However, at the time she was still married to Antipas’s other half-brother, Philip.

              4So Antipas deserted his lawful wife, and after Herodias had divorced herself from Philip under Roman law, she married Antipas.

              5In this way, Antipas sinned by marrying his brother’s wife while he still lived, and again, because she was his other brother’s daughter.


7.           1News of this reached the Galilee and Judea, and Herod’s Nabatean wife left the Galilee to go back to her father. 2So the Message of God came again to Yochanan, and directed him to warn Herod of the consequences of all his sins.

              3So one day, when Herod was travelling through Samaria on his way to Jerusalem to meet with the Roman Governor Gratus, Yochanan stood on a hillside and called out to him, saying, 4‘Herod! Listen, and hear the Message of God: You ignore the commandments of God, and instead obey the bark of dogs; but there will come a day when those same dogs will seize you and tear you to pieces.’

              5Herod was greatly angered by this, but could not do anything, since he was beyond his jurisdiction, and did not want to incur the wrath of the Roman Governor for overstepping his authority.

              6So he spoke to his chief steward Chuza, who was travelling with him, and asked him, ‘Who is that man?’

              7Chuza answered him, saying, ‘He is Yochanan son of Zekharyah of Bethany. Many say he is a prophet of God, and some even say he is the one who was promised us to teach in the spirit of the prophet Eliyahu.’

              8This greatly troubled Herod, who said, ‘Will this Yochanan also prove to be the scourge of Israel?’

8.           1Yochanan spoke to the people, saying, ‘You cannot ride two horses, nor can you shoot an arrow from two bows, so I ask you this: 2How long will you waver in your loyalty? If the Holy One is He who speaks truth, believe Him and follow His commandments. 3But if fortune tellers and astrologers tell the truth, believe them and go after them; you cannot believe both and follow both!

              4‘How long will you refuse to choose? If the Holy One our God is your Saviour and Deliverer, then follow Him. 5But if messiahs and false prophets are your saviours and deliverers, then follow them; you cannot follow both!’

              6So the people said to him, ‘Then tell us Teacher, what should we do?’

              7And Yochanan replied, saying, ‘I immerse you in water, but you must also allow yourselves to be immersed in the fire of God’s Presence. 8Then you will have zeal for the Holy One and Him alone, and you will fall away from any false messiah who comes to lead the house of Israel to destruction.’

9.           1One day, while Yochanan was preaching to the crowds, a number of poor priests came to him and said, 2‘We revere the God of Israel, and serve only Him. We desire for the sacrifices we offer on behalf of the people to be worthy. 3Therefore purify us and refine us, so that we might offer a proper and fitting sacrifice to Heaven.’

              4So Yochanan took them to a river. They confessed their sins to God, and Yochanan immersed them in the living waters of the river. And the glory of YHVH cleansed them and purified them, and made them whole.

              5But after them came those who awaited a messiah, and they pursued him, saying, 6‘Are you the Messiah, the one who was promised to us, or are we to wait for someone else?’

              7So Yochanan said to them, ‘God says, “Why are you waiting? Who is it you all truly seek?” You await a messiah to come and save you, 8but this is what the Holy One of Israel says: “I, the Holy One, am already here among you! My kingdom is with you now! I, and I alone, am your Saviour, and besides Me there is no one else. Now is the time of redemption; now is the time, for My hand is raised, ready to deliver salvation to My people!” You seek a saviour, but your true Saviour is with you now, ready to deliver you!’

              9Still these people persisted in their stubbornness and said to him, ‘But Teacher, surely you know that it is the messiah who will save us, and throw off the yoke that weighs so heavily on the necks of our people.’

              10So Yochanan said to them, ‘Have you so lost faith in our living God? Have you abandoned all hope in His might, and in His power to save?’

10.         1In time, Herodias came to hear of what was troubling the heart of Herod to such a great extent, and she flew into a burning rage. 2And she spoke, saying, This man will turn everyone in your kingdom against you, if you do nothing to stop him now.’ But Herod was afraid, and did nothing.

              3So Herodias said to him, ‘A fine ruler you have turned out to be! So my husband, arise, eat and be cheerful – I will deal with this troubler myself.’

              4So she sent two of her most devoted servants – scoundrels, the both of them – to secretly kill Yochanan. 5But Chuza, Herod’s chief steward, came to hear of their planning between them, and quickly sent word to Yochanan to escape.

              6As soon as the news came to Yochanan, his followers told him he should flee out into the desert, because none of Herodias’s cowards would dare follow him into the wilderness.

              7So Yochanan fled into the desert south of Judea. After a day’s journey under the heat of the sun, he was exhausted. 8And he cried out to God and said, ‘Hear me, O YHVH! I’ve had enough – I cannot take any more. Let me die here!’

              9At that moment, he spied a buzzard rising above him. He followed the path of its flight with his eyes, until it flew into a cave, and then out again. 10So Yochanan went up to this cave and rested there. Morning and evening, birds brought bread and locusts to him at the entrance of the cave, and he drank from a desert stream.

              11And God spoke to him in a vision and said to him, ‘Yochanan son of Zekharyah, why are you here?’

              12And Yochanan answered and said, ‘Because Herodias’s men are looking for me to kill me.’

              13So God gave him instructions, saying, ‘Do this as I tell you: return to the west bank of the river Jordan, and continue to minister to My people, 14for among your followers to come will be one I shall call as a prophet to succeed you. 15Just as a hen gathers together her brood, so shall he gather together the innocent, the righteous and the penitent of heart, 16so that I can shelter them on the day when I call the wicked and the unrepentant to account – at the time when I shall judge the guilty who have defamed the holiness of My Name.’


11.         1So Yochanan returned to Judea. In time the number of his followers grew great, 2and they called themselves Nazorayyans, because they had consecrated themselves to YHVH and His eternal covenant with the house of Israel. 3Yochanan spoke with his followers, and taught them the Message that had been given to him, so that it should not be lost.

              4Eventually the sabbatical year came round once more, when the fields cannot be tilled, nor anything be cultivated in them. 5Without work, the labourers from the fields came to listen to Yochanan and hear his words.

              6Amongst his many followers was one called Yeshua` son of Yosef of Nazareth. His mother was a widow, and he normally worked as a day labourer to support her, but with no work in the fields, he hired himself out, sometimes as a house-servant, and sometimes as a builder or craftsman. 7He would sit amongst the crowds who came to listen to Yochanan after he had immersed them. 8For on the day that Yeshua` was immersed for the first time by Yochanan, he knew that God had called him to be a prophet.

              9And from that day forwards, whenever he was in Judea, Yeshua` would join other Nazorayyans when they gathered to listen to the Immerser. 10Whenever he passed through Judea on his way up to Jerusalem at festival times, he would sit and listen to the teachings of the Immerser. 11It was about this time that Yeshua` met some of those whom he would later appoint as his own emissaries, for they were also followers of Yochanan.

1It was at about the same time, that Pontius Pilatus took over the governorship of Judea and Samaria from Valerius Gratus. 2The Roman Emperor Tiberius had chosen Pilatus for his strength of command, but he also realised that Pilatus was a wicked man, who hated our people and thirsted after our blood. 3For these reasons he only made him Prefect instead of Procurator.

              4Now Pilatus was cunning, and a devious man, and enjoyed annoying those he hated.

              5So one day, knowing our law against graven images, Pilatus deliberately sought to annoy the people of Jerusalem. 6So one night under cover of darkness, he had military standards – which bore the imperial image – brought into the Holy City. 7Then he set them around the Antonia fortress on the north side of God’s holy Temple, as well as around his own residence.

              8When morning came, people approaching the Temple saw the standards, and were greatly angered. 9They besieged Pilatus’s residence, and clamoured for the removal of the offending images from the Holy City.

              10So Pilatus threatened to slaughter them all, but this did not dissuade them. 11He left Jerusalem for the coast to find peace at his headquarters in Caesarea, but the angry crowds followed him even to Caesarea, their numbers swollen by people from the surrounding countryside. 12They all clamoured for the images to be removed, and such was the size of the crowd, that they had to be herded into the amphitheatre there.

              13Pilatus again refused, so the crowd stayed there for five days and five nights. In the end, Pilatus could bear no more, so he ordered his soldiers to advance on the people with their swords drawn. 14At this however, the crowd fell to their knees on the ground, and either bared their chests, or presented their necks, shouting that they were ready to be killed, rather than transgress the laws of our God.

              15Pilatus was amazed at this, and realised that the only way he was going to get rid of the crowd was either to massacre them all, which would have provoked a universal uprising in the province, and which in turn would have incurred the extreme displeasure of the Emperor; 16or he could remove the standards from Jerusalem. Needless to say, Pilatus decided to remove the standards.


13.         1Now there were some Pharisees who had come down from Jerusalem to question Yochanan, because they felt that he was disturbing the peace in the Land. 2So they enquired of him, saying, ‘Why do you teach what you teach? By what authority do you teach? 3Are you Eliyahu? Or the Messiah? Or the Prophet like Moses? Our Traditions decree that there are no more prophets, so why do you still teach, and do the things you do?’

              4So Yochanan answered them and said, ‘I am none of those men, the ones whom you have commanded God to send – where and when and who you want them to be. I am the one whom God has sent to prepare the way before Him. 5For surely the day is coming when all the arrogant and the evildoers will be burnt off like stubble, but for those who revere God, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And when the fire has passed, the righteous shall leap like new born calves released from the stall.’

              6In cautious reply, the Pharisees asked, ‘Then are you saying you are Eliyahu? But surely you know that our Traditions say Eliyahu comes to announce the son of David, something you say you do not do. 7Instead, you warn us to repent to avoid the terrible Day of the Holy One, blessed be He. Therefore, you are claiming to be a prophet, and as our Traditions have decreed, there are no more prophets.’

              8So Yochanan said to them, ‘Then your Traditions are the words of blind guides, and you yourselves are blind if you do not see it! 9For if you do not heed the words of those who are sent to you by God, warning you of the terrible Day to come, then your blind guides will lead you all into a pit of destruction!

              10Still they refused to listen, and said, ‘There are no more prophets; we know this, because our fathers have said it. 11And you say that you are not the messiah, so why should we ever heed your words?’

              12So Yochanan said to them, ‘Listen! One who is a beggar, one dressed in ragged clothes, comes among you to deliver God’s wisdom, yet because he’s a beggar, you won’t listen to him. 13There are also fools and deceivers widespread among us, yet because people call them ‘messiah’ or ‘Son of David’ you listen to them. 14It’s the wisdom of God that calls His servant; therefore, what are the Traditions of men, that they should legislate against God’s calling?’

14.         1Again came the day when Herodias sent her scoundrels to kill Yochanan. When again they failed, she ordered them to employ brigands, to harass Yochanan’s followers instead as they travelled along the country roads to hear him.

               2Now it was near the time of the Festival, so Yochanan called his most faithful followers together and told them, ‘Soon they will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will scatter.’

              3But all his followers called out to him and said, ‘Master, we will not leave you!’

              4But Yochanan insisted, saying, ‘It has become far too dangerous for you. So I tell you all this: For the sake of your lives, and the lives of your families, you are no longer my followers, nor I your master. God alone is your Master, and it is His will that you shall follow, and His Message that you will deliver. 5Leave me therefore and return to your homes in Judea and the Galilee, for it is no longer safe for you to be called my followers.

              6‘But if the voice of God calls you into desert places, there you must go. If the voice of God calls you into towns and cities you have never been to before, there you must go. 7And whatever God directs you to speak, so you must speak. The message cannot be allowed to die with its messengers. Teach others therefore, so that if they strike you as well, the message will live on.’

              8Now Yeshua` son of Yosef was among those gathered, and he took Yochanan’s words to heart. He realised that from the day that he became a mouthpiece of God, until the day that he would go to rest with his ancestors, the enemies of God would seek him out too. 9He realised that one day his life would be taken from him. The day and the hour could be at any time, and therefore his mission was urgent. 10So Yeshua` returned to the Galilee by way of the wilderness of Judea, to contemplate the days to come in solitude.

              11The Immerser, on the other hand, prepared to give himself up to Herod Antipas for the sake of his followers, so that Herodias would leave them in peace.

15.         1As I have written, Pontius Pilatus often did things simply to annoy the people of Judea, and of Jerusalem in particular. 2The time when he decided to dedicate some votive shields in his residence in Jerusalem, was more than the people in Jerusalem could take.

              3So four of Herod the Great’s sons, including Herod Antipas, came together to discuss the situation. 4They feared that Pilatus could go too far one day and provoke an uprising. Their own positions of power would also be endangered, since the people saw them as servants of Rome who danced to the Emperor’s tune. 5Because of this, they came to the decision that it was reasonable to oppose Pilatus on this matter, and so they put themselves at the head of a band of citizens and asked to be heard by Pilatus.

              6So Herod Antipas came forward, and asked for the shields to be removed. 7But Pilatus retorted that they did not bear any image on them – merely words in the Latin language saying to whom and by whom they were being dedicated. 8Antipas replied that this was not the point. And he said, ‘This is the latest in a series of attempts to provoke unrest by going against our religious sensibilities.’

              9But Pilatus just laughed, and he said, ‘You talk of religious sensibilities to me? I know little of your religion, and I care even less, but I do know that your marriage to your brother’s wife doesn’t quite fulfil the requirements of your religious law, does it?’

              10This angered Antipas, and he withdrew. He held a burning hatred for Pilatus from that day on. 11Within a few days, Herod’s sons sent an appeal to the Emperor Tiberius. 12The Emperor, fearing unrest that he might not be able to control, sent strong instructions back to Jerusalem, to Pilatus, commanding him that the votive shields be transferred to Caesarea, and be set up there in the temple of Augustus instead.

1And it so happened one day that Herod Antipas’s chief steward Chuza was travelling along the road from Sepphoris to the Decapolis, when Yochanan came to him. 2Now, this steward admired Yochanan greatly, and had been immersed by him several times.

              3So this steward got off his animal and knelt on one knee out of respect for Yochanan, saying, ‘Master, may the Holy One be with you!’

              4Yochanan pulled him to his feet and replied, saying, ‘And also with you! Chuza, there is something that the Holy One your God requires of you to do.’

              5And Chuza said, ‘Name it Master, and I will do it, for I am but God’s servant.’

              6So Yochanan said, ‘Go to Herod Antipas and tell him this: “Hear the Message of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For as our God lives, you will suffer defeat for your sins. 7You have taken your brother’s wife while your brother still lives, and have cast aside the woman who was rightfully your wife. 8And furthermore, you have taken as a wife she who is your brother’s daughter. 9For these things, your armies will suffer defeat at the hands of your enemies.’

              10But Chuza said to him, ‘Master, I have zeal for our God, and I have great love for you, but if I say these words to my lord, he will surely kill me!’

              11So Yochanan said, ‘No, he will not kill you. If Herodias will cease her harassment of my followers, then I will deliver myself into the hands of Herod. Tell him to send his men to meet me over on the east bank of the river Jordan, by the road into his kingdom.’

              12So Chuza did as Yochanan had instructed him. He delivered the message to Herod, in the exact words that Yochanan had given him, and Herod did not kill him. 13Instead, Herod sent his men to arrest Yochanan as he entered Perea. And they imprisoned him in Machaerus castle.

              14Herod permitted the followers of Yochanan to visit him in prison, because he feared him as a man of God, and what might happen if he had Yochanan killed.

              15But when Yochanan’s emissaries returned to him with news, having questioned Yeshua` of Nazareth, and confirmed that he was indeed a prophet of God Most High, 16and was proclaiming to the Galilee, ‘Repent, for the kingship of God is fast approaching’, Yochanan knew that his time was near. 17So he continued to rebuke Herodias, and she waited for the moment to have him put to death.

              18And for his part, when Yeshua` heard that Yochanan had been arrested, he remained in the Galilee until such time that God called him to deliver the Message of God to the people of Jerusalem.


17.         1At about this time, Pontius Pilatus had an aqueduct built to carry water from the southern highlands to Jerusalem. 2Since the main beneficiary of this project would be the Temple – for washing away the blood of sacrifices – 3Pilatus insisted that the aqueduct be funded out of the money in the Temple treasury.

              4The Temple authorities made great protest at this attempt to appropriate money which had been dedicated solely to God’s use; they considered that it was therefore sacrilegious, just as it is written in Torah.

              5However Pilatus, being the insensitive man that he was, had the Temple treasury raided, and took whatever funds he wanted. 6Now, it was nearing the time of the Passover sacrifice, and there were many pilgrims present in Jerusalem. 7Among them were a significant number of Galileans, who were stirred by religious zeal and national fervour to angry demonstrations against what Pilatus had done.

              8So Pilatus decided to send in his troops secretly among the crowds with daggers, to panic the assembled people and thereby break them up. This resulted in extreme violence, and a massacre of many pilgrims. 9About eighteen souls tried to take refuge in a watchtower that stood in Siloam, but it was unsteady and the tower collapsed on them and killed them.

              10These incidents brought even further anger from Antipas, because most of those who died were his subjects, and he took the matter as a personal slight against him.

1Up until this time, Yochanan enjoyed Herod’s protection, for he believed him to be a virtuous and a holy man. 2Sometimes when Yochanan’s followers came, Herod would even wait at the cell door secretly, since he liked to listen to him.

              3But Herodias – who feared neither God nor man – still sought the chance to kill him, and an opportune moment came. 4On his birthday, Herod threw a feast for his chief officials, military commanders and the wealthy men of the Galilee. 5When Herodias’s daughter came in, the dinner guests asked that she dance for them, but she refused. 6Herod, not wishing to displease his guests, begged her. ‘If you dance, ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.’ 7And he promised her with an oath. ‘Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.’

              8So Herodias upon hearing this, advised her daughter to dance. So she danced, and it pleased Herod and his invited dinner guests.

              9Then she went out to her mother and said, ‘What shall I ask for?’

              10Herodias answered, ‘The head of Yochanan the Immerser.’

              11Immediately she hurried into the banquet hall to Herod and asked, ‘I want you to give me the head of Yochanan the Immerser right now on a platter.’

              12Herod was deeply distressed, but because he had sworn an oath in front of his dinner guests, he felt he could not refuse her.

              13So at once he gave orders to send an executioner to bring Yochanan’s head. The man went, beheaded Yochanan in prison, and brought back his head on a platter. 14Herod presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother.

              15When Yochanan’s followers and emissaries came to hear of this, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb when morning came. They mourned him for seven days. 16In fear and grief, their hearts fallen, most of his followers returned to their homes and livelihoods.

              17But some others took themselves up and joined the Zealots, to seek revenge against the Herodians and their Roman overlords for the death of their Master. 18In fact, so much did they cast their lot with the party of the Zealots that in time, on Roman lips the name of ‘Nazorayyan’ was spoken with the same contempt as the word ‘Zealot’.

1Some time later King Aretas, the father of Herod’s first wife Phasaelis, decided to take vengeance for what Herod had done in dishonouring his daughter.

              2So he sent an army to attack Herod in a territorial dispute in the region of Gamalitis. Herod in turn sent his army to meet them. 3However, they were heavily defeated, and many believed that this was a punishment from God for the execution of Yochanan.

              4Several years afterwards, Herodias persuaded Herod to ask the Roman Emperor for more authority and greater kingship. Much against his better judgement, he went to Rome to put the request to the Emperor himself. 5However, Agrippa, his own brother, had poisoned the Emperor’s mind against him, and Herod was exiled to Spain. 6Herodias joined him a short while later, where they both died.

              7Pilatus’s cruelty grew more and more severe. Following the massacre of many Samaritan pilgrims in the last year of the Emperor Tiberius, he was removed from office by Vitellius, the governor of Syria. The Emperor Tiberius, fearing Pilatus’s actions could provoke widespread insurrection in Judea, summoned him to Rome, and he too died in exile.

              8This then is a record of the days of the Prophet Yochanan called the Immerser, faithful servant of YHVH our God. 9May his name be remembered for good.


Table of sources of the Book of Yochanan the Immerser

          The purpose of the above work is to give a completely Yahwist Israelite understanding of Yochanan as a prophet of God, who was called to preach in the spirit of Elijah. While much of it is based on actual historical record, the purpose of the book is not to assert any historical truth, but rather to exposit spiritual truth. This is the aim and purpose of all Hebrew scripture. PLEASE look at the overall message therefore; please don't get hung up on the individual words.

         It was a common feature of religious books of the time, to borrow details from other works, if such borrowings helped fill out sparse narrative detail, and if their inclusion carried with them the weight of a message. In this spirit, I have deliberately borrowed details from the narrative of Elijah's life from the Book of Kings - not to prove that Yochanan actually did or said such things, but by way of a literary statement that, 'we believe Yochanan the Immerser was the man promised by God to preach in the spirit of Elijah.'

          Note: ‘cf’ means ‘compare with’; the verse is based on or inspired by the source.

Other verses have had to be written as a link in the narrative, to make the story follow a logical course; these are described as ‘narrative reconstructions’. Other verses have had to be included to give a theological explanation of what is happening; these are described as 'theological midrash'.

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Verse number



Lk 3:1


Mt 3:1, Lk 3:2b, Lk 1:80b

midrashic supposition, based on historical knowledge


Lk 1:15b (cf Lk 1:15c), 1:7, 1:5

Lk 1:6
Lk 1:76a, Lk 1:16; Lk 1:76b, cf Mal 3:1
Lk 1:77
Lk 1:17; cf Mal 3:24 (Xtian bibles Mal 4:6)
theological midrash / historical explanation


Mk 1:5, Lk 3:3; cf Mt 3:1-2


Mk 1:5

cf Mt 9:14a 11:2 and many others


Mt 3:1-2


Mk 1:6, Mt 3:4; also 2Kgs 1:8


Mk 1:5, Mt 3:5


reconstruction based on Ascents of James 18:5.2


reconstruction based on Mal 3:23


reconstruction based on AJ 18:5.2; cf Ex 31:13, Isa 11:9


reconstruction - logical follow on from verse 6


historical reconstruction


theological  midrash


Mk 1:4; Antiq.Jews, Bk18, Ch 5, ps 2


cf Mt 3:7a, Lk 3:7a


narrative reconstruction based on the place of a prophet in Jewish theology


Mt 3:7b-8, Lk 3:7b-8a


Mt 3:9, Lk 3:8b


Mt 3:10, Lk 3:9


cf Mt 3:7a


Mt 23:27


Mt 23:28


narrative reconstruction based on known criticisms of Yochanan


cf Lk 6:24a


narrative reconstruction based on known criticisms of Yochanan


cf Lk 6:24b


cf Lk 6:25d


Mt 3:12a


Mt 3:12b; cf Mal 3:19


Lk 3:10


cf Deut 15:11


Lk 3:11


cf Zech 7:10, Isa 10:1-2


cf Mal 3:24a, Lk 1:17a


cf Mal 3:22


Lk 3:12


Lk 3:13


Lk 3:14a


Lk 3:14b


historical reconstruction


Antiq.Jews, Bk 18, Ch 5, ps 1


Antiq.Jews, Bk 18, Ch 5, ps 1


Antiq.Jews, Bk 18, Ch 5, ps 1


cf Mt 14:3-4, Lk 3:19


historical reconstruction


cf Lk 3:19


narrative reconstruction


cf 1Kgs 21:19


narrative reconstruction based on known historical circumstances


cf Lk 8:3


cf Mt 14:5, Lk1:17a


cf 1Kgs 18:17


Th 47:1; cf Mt 6:24, Lk 16:13


cf 1Kgs 18:21


cf 1Kgs 18:21


cf 1Kgs 18:21


cf 1Kgs 18:21


Lk 3:10


cf Mal 3:2


cf Mt 3:11


theological  midrash


theological  midrash


cf Mal 3:2b-3


theological  midrash


cf Jn 1:19-22


cf Jn 1:19-22


theological  midrash


theological  midrash


cf Jn 1:19-22


theological  midrash


narrative reconstruction based on known circumstances


narrative reconstruction, parallel from Kgs


cf 1Kgs 21:7a


cf 1Kgs 21:10a, 13a)


narrative reconstruction


narrative reconstruction


cf 1Kgs 19:3-4a


cf 1Kgs 19:4b


cf Kgs 19:9a


cf 1Kgs 19:9a, 1Kgs 17:6


cf 1Kgs 19:9b


cf Kgs 19:10


cf 1Kgs 17:3


narrative reconstruction


narrative reconstruction


cf Zephaniah 2:3


narrative reconstruction based on known historical circumstances


historical reconstruction


historical reconstruction


reconstruction based on known fact


reconstruction based on known fact


narrative reconstruction


cf Mk 1:9, Mt 3:16a; 1Kgs 19:19


theological  midrash


narrative reconstruction


narrative reconstruction


narrative reconstruction


Wars of the Jews, Bk II, Ch 9, pss 2-3; also Antiq Bk 18, Ch 3, ps 1


Wars of the Jews, Bk II, Ch 9, pss 2-3; also Antiq Bk 18, Ch 3, ps 1


Wars of the Jews, Bk II, Ch 9, pss 2-3; also Antiq Bk 18, Ch 3, ps 1


Wars of the Jews, Bk II, Ch 9, pss 2-3; also Antiq Bk 18, Ch 3, ps 1


Wars of the Jews, Bk II, Ch 9, pss 2-3; also Antiq Bk 18, Ch 3, ps 1


Wars of the Jews, Bk II, Ch 9, pss 2-3; also Antiq Bk 18, Ch 3, ps 1


Wars of the Jews, Bk II, Ch 9, pss 2-3; also Antiq Bk 18, Ch 3, ps 1


Wars of the Jews, Bk II, Ch 9, pss 2-3; also Antiq Bk 18, Ch 3, ps 1


Wars of the Jews, Bk II, Ch 9, pss 2-3; also Antiq Bk 18, Ch 3, ps 1


Wars of the Jews, Bk II, Ch 9, pss 2-3; also Antiq Bk 18, Ch 3, ps 1


Wars of the Jews, Bk II, Ch 9, pss 2-3; also Antiq Bk 18, Ch 3, ps 1


Wars of the Jews, Bk II, Ch 9, pss 2-3; also Antiq Bk 18, Ch 3, ps 1


Wars of the Jews, Bk II, Ch 9, pss 2-3; also Antiq Bk 18, Ch 3, ps 1


Wars of the Jews, Bk II, Ch 9, pss 2-3; also Antiq Bk 18, Ch 3, ps 1


Wars of the Jews, Bk II, Ch 9, pss 2-3; also Antiq Bk 18, Ch 3, ps 1


Wars of the Jews, Bk II, Ch 9, pss 2-3; also Antiq Bk 18, Ch 3, ps 1


Jn 1:24


cf Jn 1:22


Jn 1:21; cf Jn 1:21, 25


cf Jn 1:23


cf Mal 3:19-20


cf Mt 17:10-11


narrative reconstruction


cf Mt 15:14b, Lk 6:39, Th 34:1


theological  midrash


Jn 1:25


theological  midrash


theological  midrash


theological  midrash


theological  midrash


narrative reconstruction


cf Zech 13:7


cf 2Kgs 2:2


narrative reconstruction


narrative reconstruction


narrative reconstruction based on the place of a prophet in Jewish theology


narrative reconstruction


narrative reconstruction


narrative reconstruction


cf Mk 1:2, Mt 4:1, Lk 4:1-2


narrative reconstruction


Philo, Legatio 38:299-305


Philo, Legatio 38:299-305


Philo, Legatio 38:299-305


Philo, Legatio 38:299-305


Philo, Legatio 38:299-305


Philo, Legatio 38:299-305


Philo, Legatio 38:299


Philo, Legatio 38:299-305


Philo, Legatio 38:299-305


Philo, Legatio 38:299-305


Philo, Legatio 38:302


Philo, Legatio 38:299-305


cf 1Kgs 18:7a


narrative reconstruction


cf 1Kgs 18:7b


narrative reconstruction


cf 1Kgs 18:12b


cf 1Kgs 18:8


cf Lk 3:19


cf Lk 3:19


cf Lk 3:19


cf 1Kgs 18:9, 18:14b


cf 1Kgs 18:15


cf 1Kgs 18:16a


Mk 6:17a, Mt 14:3a, Lk 3:20; cf Mt 4:12


Mt 14:5


Mt 11:2-6, Lk 7:18-23; cf Mk 2:18, Mt 9:14, Lk 5:33, Jn 3:25-30


Mk 1:15


cf Mk 6:19, 21a


cf Mt 4:12, Mk 1:14


War of the Jews, Bk 2, Ch 9, pass 4; Ant.Jews, Bk 18, Ch 3, pass 2


War of the Jews, Bk 2, Ch 9, pass 4; Ant.Jews, Bk 18, Ch 3, pass 2


War of the Jews, Bk 2, Ch 9, pass 4; Ant.Jews, Bk 18, Ch 3, pass 2


War of the Jews, Bk 2, Ch 9, pass 4; Ant.Jews, Bk 18, Ch 3, pass 2

(proscription, 17:4b – Lev 27:28)


War of the Jews, Bk 2, Ch 9, pass 4; Ant.Jews, Bk 18, Ch 3, pass 2


War of the Jews, Bk 2, Ch 9, pass 4; Ant.Jews, Bk 18, Ch 3, pass 2


War of the Jews, Bk 2, Ch 9, pass 4; Ant.Jews, Bk 18, Ch 3, pass 2


Lk 13:1-3; War of the Jews, Bk 2, Ch 9, pass 4; Ant.Jews, Bk 18, Ch 3, pass 2


Lk 13:4


War of the Jews, Bk 2, Ch 9, pass 4; Ant.Jews, Bk 18, Ch 3, pass 2


Mk 6:20a


Mk 6:20b


Mk 6:19, 21a


Mk 6:21b, Mt 14:6a


Mk 6:22a, Mt 14:6b


Mk 6:22b


Mk 6:23, Mt 14:7


cf Mk 6:22a, Mt 14:8a


Mk 6:24a


Mk 6:24b, Mt 14:8


Mk 6:25


Mk 6:26, Mt 14:9


Mk 6:27-28a, Mt 14:10-11a


Mk 6:28b, Mt 14:11b


Mk 6:29, Mt 14:12


cf Mt 4:12


narrative midrash


historical midrash


Antiq Jews, Bk 18, Ch 5, ps 1


Antiq Jews, Bk 18, Ch 5, ps 1


Antiq Jews, Bk 18, Ch 5, ps 2


Wars of the Jews, Bk II, Ch 9, ps 6


Wars of the Jews, Bk II, Ch 9, ps 6


Wars of the Jews, Bk II, Ch 9, ps 6


Antiq Jews, Bk 18, Ch 4, ps 2


narrative reconstruction


historical reconstruction, common blessing for the dead




© Shmu’eil ben Naftali

‘Sefer Yochanan’

(International Talmidi Version,

First edition published July 2000)

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