The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness
Not the voice of the Holy Ghost, as Jarchi; but of John the Baptist, as is attested by all the evangelists, ( Matthew 3:3 ) ( Mark 1:3 ) ( Luke 3:1 Luke 3:5 Luke 3:6 ) and by John himself, ( John 1:23 ) , who was a "voice" not like the man's nightingale, "vox et praeterea nihil" a voice and nothing else; he had not only a sonorous, but an instructive teaching voice; he had the voice of a prophet, for he was a prophet: we read of the voices of the prophets, their doctrines and prophecies, ( Acts 13:27 ) , his voice was the voice of one that crieth, that published and proclaimed aloud, openly and publicly, with great eagerness and fervency, with much freedom and liberty, what he had to say; and this was done "in the wilderness", in the wilderness of Judea, literally taken, ( Matthew 3:1 ) , and when Judea was become a Roman province, and the Jews were brought into the wilderness of the people, ( Ezekiel 20:35 ) and when they were, as to their religious affairs, in a very forlorn and wilderness condition F13: what John was to say, when he came as a harbinger of Christ, and did, follows: prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway
for our God:
by whom is meant the Messiah to whose proper deity a noble testimony is here bore, being called "Jehovah" and "our God": whose way John prepared himself, by preaching the doctrine of repentance, administering the ordinance of baptism, pointing at the Messiah, and exhorting the people to believe in him; and he called upon them likewise to prepare the way, and make a plain path to meet him in, by repenting of their sins, amending their ways, and cordially embracing him when come, laying aside all those sentiments which were contrary to him, his Gospel, and kingdom. The sense of this text is sadly perverted by the Targum, and seems to be, done on purpose, thus,
``prepare the way before the people of the Lord, cast up ways before the congregation of our God;''whereas it is before the Lord himself. The allusion is to pioneers, sent before some great personage to remove all obstructions out of his way, to cut down trees, level the way, and clear all before him, as in the following verse.
F13 Though, according to the accents, the phrase, "in the wilderness", belongs to what follows, "in the wilderness prepare ye the way of the Lord"; where it is placed by Junius and Tremellius, commended for it by Reinbeck, de Accent, Heb. p. 416. though the accent seems neglected in Matt iii. 3. Mark 1. 3.