In the fifteenth year of Emperor Tiberius' rule; when Pontius Pilate was governor of Y'hudah, Herod ruler of the Galil, his brother Philip ruler of Iturea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene,
with `Anan and Kayafa being the cohanim g'dolim; the word of God came to Yochanan Ben-Z'kharyah in the desert.
He went all through the Yarden region proclaiming an immersion involving turning to God from sin in order to be forgiven.
It was just as had been written in the book of the sayings of the prophet Yesha`yahu, "The voice of someone crying out: `In the desert prepare the way for ADONAI! Make straight paths for him!
Every valley must be filled in, every mountain and hill leveled off; the winding roads must be straightened and the rough ways made smooth.
Then all humanity will see God's deliverance.'"
Therefore, Yochanan said to the crowds who came out to be immersed by him, "You snakes! Who warned you to escape the coming punishment?
If you have really turned from your sins, produce fruit that will prove it! And don't start saying to yourselves, `Avraham is our father'! For I tell you that God can raise up for Avraham sons from these stones!
Already the axe is at the root of the trees, ready to strike; every tree that doesn't produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown in the fire!"
The crowds asked Yochanan, "So then, what should we do?"
He answered, "Whoever has two coats should share with somebody who has none, and whoever has food should do the same."
Tax-collectors also came to be immersed; and they asked him, "Rabbi, what should we do?"
"Collect no more than the government assesses," he told them.
Some soldiers asked him, "What about us? What should we do?" To them he said, "Don't intimidate anyone, don't accuse people falsely, and be satisfied with your pay."
The people were in a state of great expectancy, and everyone was wondering whether perhaps Yochanan himself might be the Messiah;
so Yochanan answered them all, "I am immersing you in water, but he who is coming is more powerful than I -- I'm not worthy to untie his sandals! He will immerse you in the Ruach HaKodesh and in fire.
He has with him his winnowing fork to clear out his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the straw with unquenchable fire!"
And with many other warnings besides these he announced the Good News to the people.
But Yochanan also denounced Herod the regional governor for taking as his own wife Herodias, the wife of his brother, and for all the other wicked things Herod had done;
whereupon Herod added this to the rest: he locked up Yochanan in prison.