Igeret Yokhanan bar Zobi

Igeret Yokhanan bar Zobi is an epistle extracted from the larger volume Sefer Avkadmonim

1 I speak here of two of the Sacraments in the Holy Assembly, one being the Sacrament of Baptism, and the other being the Sacrament of the Body and Blood.

2 The foundation of these Sacraments is laid in the flesh of Maran Yeshua, and it is befitting that I should explain this for the edification of the children of the Assembly.

3 Keipha ha’Shliakh wrote this account, and I am therefore bound to record it without any alteration. When our Saviour was baptised by Yokhanan in the Jordan, Yokhanan beheld His greatness, that is, His Divinity and humanity, and understood that He did not submit to be baptised on His own account, but in order to set for us an example that we should be baptised even as He was.

4 And this blessed Yokhanan was graciously inspired to take from the baptism of Yeshua a little leaven for our baptism. So when Maran went up out of the water while the water was yet dripping from His body, Yokhanan approached Maran and collected these drops in a vial.

5 And when the day of his martyrdom arrived he committed it to his disciple, and commanded him to preserve it with great care until the time should come when it would be required.

6 This talmid was Yokhanan bar Zavdai, who he knew would become the steward of Maran.

7 Accordingly, after His baptism, Maran called Yokhanan, and made him His beloved talmid; and when He was about to close His dispensation, and His passion and death drew near, on the evening of Pesach He committed His passover to His talmidim in the bread and wine, as it is written, and gave to each a loaf; but to Yokhanan He gave two loaves, and put it into his heart to eat one and to preserve the other, that it might serve as leaven to be retained in the Assembly for perpetual commemoration.

8 After this, when Maran was arrested by the Romans, and the talmidim through fear hid themselves, Yokhanan was the only one who remained.

9 And when they crucified Yeshua in much ignominy with the thieves, Yokhanan alone was present, determined to see what would become of Him. Then it was ordered that the crucified ones should be taken down from the crosses, and that their legs should be broken, in order that if yet alive they might die outright.

10 The soldiers did this to the thieves, but when they came to Yeshua and found that the body was already dead, they did not break His legs, but one of them with a spear pierced His side, and straightway there came out blood and water, of which Yokhanan was a witness to this.

11 Now this blood is a token of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood in the Assembly, and the water is a token of the new birth in believers.

12 Yokhanan was the only one who perceived this separateness of the water and the blood, and he bears true witness thereof, as he says, that we might believe.

13 He declares that he saw them unmixed, and that he did not take of them together, but of each separately.

14 He took of the blood upon the loaf which he had reserved from the feast of Pesach, and he took of the water in that same vessel which had been committed to him by Yokhanan the Baptiser.

15 The very blood of His body, therefore, mixed with the bread which He had called His body, and the water from His side mingled with the water of His baptism.

16 After Yeshua rose from the grave and ascended up in glory to the Father, and sent the grace of Ruach ha’Kodesh upon His talmidim to endow them with wisdom, He commanded His Apostles to ordain in His Assembly that same leaven which they had taken from His body to be for the Sacrament of His Body, and also for the sacrament of Baptism.

17 And when the talmidim went forth from Yerushalayim to convert the gentiles, they divided this leaven amongst themselves, and they took oil of unction and mixed it with the water which was kept in the vessel, and they divided this also amongst themselves to be a leaven for Baptism.

18 The loaf which Yokhanan had, and which was mixed with the blood which flowed from His side, they made into powder, then mixed it with flour and salt, and divided it among them, each portion being put into a separate vessel to serve as leaven for the Body and Blood of Yeshua in the Assembly.

19 This is the account which I have read, which bore the sign of Keipha, and I have written it as I found it for the benefit of such as may read this our Igeret. The presbyter Rabban Shimun, who first related the narrative to me, and then afterwards showed me the written account, can witness to the truth.

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