He was of the priestly race by both parents, his father, Zacharias, being a priest of the course of Abijah, and Elisabeth a descendant of Aaron. Of the first thirty years of his life, the only history we have is contained in a single verse, Luke 1:8o. But it is a reasonable presumption that he received the Jewish ecclesiastical training of that period. He was the chosen forerunner of the Messiah (Luke I 76). Dwelling alone in the desert region westward of the Dead Sea, he prepared himself for his work by discipline and constant prayer. One of his instructors, Banus (mentioned by Josephus, the Jewish historian), tells how he lived with John in the desert, eating the sparse food and bathing frequently by day and night At last (about A. D. 25) John came forth from his hermit-like seclusion in the wild mountainous tract in Judea lying beyond the desert and the Dead Sea, and took up the work of his real office, preaching repentance and baptism, and attracting great multitudes.