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Home > Fathers of the Church > Nisibene Hymns (Ephraim) > Nos. 35-42

The Nisibene Hymns

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Hymn 35.

Concerning Our Lord, and Concerning Death and Satan.

1. The Voice made proclamation: and they gathered and came; the hosts of the Evil One, together with his ministers. The army of the tares was gathered altogether, for they saw that Jesus had triumphed, to the grief of all them on the left hand, for there was none of them but had been tormented. They began one by one to relate all whatsoever they had endured. Sin and Hell were terrified: Death trembled and the dead rebelled; and Satan because sinners rebelled against him. R., To You be glory because the Evil One saw You and was troubled!

2. Sin cried aloud; she gave counsel to her sons, to the demons and the devils, and unto them she said, Legion the head of your ranks is not, the sea has swallowed him and his company; and likewise ye my sons if you despise, this Jesus will destroy you. You who in a snare took Solomon, it is therefore a reproach to you, that you should be overcome by his disciples, takers of fish and ignorant men; for lo! They have taken the draught of men, which had been taken by us.

3. This is great, above all evils (says the Evil One, concerning our Saviour); for this suffices Him not that He has spoiled us, but likewise on us He has begun retribution for Jonah son of Amittai. On Legion therefore He was avenging him when He seized and cast him into the sea. Jonah emerged, after three days and came up; but Legion yea not after a long season, for the depth of the sea closed upon him at the command.

4. I tempted Him, after his fast, with pleasant bread, but He desired it not. To my grief I strove to learn a psalm, that by His psalm I might take Him as a prey: I paused and learned it a second time, but He made my second trial to be vain. I brought Him up to a mountain and showed Him all possessions; I gave them to Him and He was not moved. Better was it for me in the days of Adam, who gave me no great trouble in teaching him.

5. The Evil One ceased, from his activity and said, A cause of idleness to me, is this Jesus; for lo! The publicans and harlots take refuge in Him. What work shall I seek for myself? I who was master to all men, to whom shall I be a disciple? Sin again said, It must be, that I forsake, therefore, and change from that which I am; for this Son of Mary who has come, as a new creation, has created mankind.

6. Gluttonous Death, lamented and said, I have learned fasting, which I used not to know; lo! Jesus gathers multitudes, but as to me, in His feast a fast is proclaimed for me. One man has closed my mouth, mine who have closed the mouths of many. Hell said I will restrain my greed; hunger, therefore, is mine: this Man triumphs as at the marriage, when He changed the water into wine, so He changes the vesture of the dead into life.

7. And moreover, God made a flood, and washed the earth, and purged her crimes; fire and brimstone again He sent on her, that He might make white her stains. By fire He gave me the Sodomites, and by flood the Giants. He closed the mouth of the hosts of Sennacherib, and opened the mouth of Hell. These things and such as these, I loved. But now, in place of deadly visitations of justice, He has wrought in His Son, the quickening of the dead by grace.

8. Prophets and righteous men, said the Evil One, unto his companions, have been seen by me; and though their strength was exceeding mighty, there was in them a savour of that which is mine; for the stuff whereof the sons of man are made, is near akin to our heaven. This man has clothed Himself with the body of Adam, and is troubling us, for our leaven has no power on Him. He is man, therefore, and God; for His manhood in His Godhead is intermingled.

9. Adam was seen by me, that fountain from whence flowed all races of men; his children has been sought out by me, and proved one by one. Yet have I not seen from the beginning a man, of whom one part was of God, and the other half, man. Moses, who shone in his splendour, I tempted again, and in his tongue I made him to err; but this man, yea, not in His mind, for pure exceedingly is the fountain of His thoughts.

10. The lust of the body, is in all bodies; for even while they sleep, it wakes in them. Him, who in his waking hours keeps himself pure, by means of a dream, I disturb. The dregs of the body are stirred in him, by a shaking movement in secret inwardly. The sleeping and the waking besides, I trouble alike. This is He Who alone keeps Himself pure, Whom not even in a dream can I disturb, Who even in His sleep is pure and holy.

11. But separate was even His childhood, from that of the children who have been seen by me; for I have not seen in Him any part of that which is of me. I was afraid of His childhood; therefore, I stirred up Herod, that among the infants He might be slain. Because of this also that He escaped, I was greatly afraid, for our mystery how did He find out! He received the offerings of the Wise Men; He scorned us and departed and escaped from our sword.

12. Children have been seen by me, sons of righteous men; yea, also youths, sons of chaste women; and I have moved them from the womb, one by one, and I have seen in them our leaven. For they were wrathful men and revilers, yea, also furious and gluttonous; fruits were they that by instruction were to be ripened and sweetened. But this man from His first planting, was a good fruit that possessed sweetness, wherewith sinners were made sweet.

13. Even while He was an infant, He was a teacher of the sons of men, by the splendour that was upon Him. Even the priest as he carried Him was amazed at Him. In the prudence of old men was He clad. Joseph stood aloof from Him: His mother gloried in His presence. He was a help in His childhood, to every one that saw Him; He was a profit to them that knew Him from the day when He entered into the world, He was a helper of mankind by His excellencies.

14. From whence has it sprung up before me, this fruit of Mary, the grape whereof the wine is not according to nature? For lo! I stand between doubts. To turn away and leave Him, I am afraid, lest by His teaching, they should be sweetened, they, who have acquired by bitterness. But again to tread on Him and crush Him, is a terror to me, lest haply He turn and become new wine unto sinners, and when they are drunken therewith, lo! They forget their idols.

15. Lo! I am afraid of both things, as well His death, as also His life. Then unto the Evil One His ministers made answer and counselled Him. Though both these things be grievous, somewhat lighter to us is the trouble, that we should choose His death rather than his life. Let Death tell us whether any one from among the righteous, has ever from the first been aroused again. The sons of the Giants and the renowned ones, there is none that has issued forth from her, even Hell, the Devourer.

16. The blowing of the wind, a man may feel after; but the Son of Mary, who shall search him out? For when He wept, by His tears He robbed me; and again when I bid Him cast Himself, from the holy Temple, I thought, that it was through fear He cast Himself not: yet when they threw Him from the hill-top, He flew through the air. On the well again when He was weary He sat. His variableness I understand not, for on the dry land alike and on the water He walks.

17. I have seen Him that He hungered, as a Son of man; yet this was done away by the bread which He multiplied. From the beginning I proved Him and I came to Him; He questioned me as though He knew me not; but this, too, was done away, when He showed that He knew our secrets. Again He chose Iscariot, as though He knew him not; then He turned and showed that He knew him, though he was binding and loosing. I was mistaken in Him, for He was baptized and emerged and overwhelmed me.

18. But one token there is which I have seen in Him that heartens me exceedingly above all. For while He was praying I saw Him and was glad, because He changed color and was afraid: His sweat was as drops of blood, because He felt that His day had come. This is pleasant to me, exceedingly above all, if it be not that deceiving He has deceived me therein. But if beguiling He has beguiled me, this is both for me and for you alike, my ministers.

19. Then shouted the host of devils and said, Hateful is the sign that we see in you, for never from the beginning has it thus happened to you. In prompt counsels you were excellent: the Son of Mary captures our cities, while you are prolonging your discourse. Arise, go forth, let us fight with Him, for this were to us a reproach, that we being many should be overcome by one. And if you are in pain or fear, give us counsel for the battle and stay behind.

20. This Jesus out of His own words it is, that I shall teach Him, and war with Him; for He said that he, even Satan, is divided, himself against himself, and that he cannot stand. Though He desires to fight with us, He has given us arms which are against Himself, gage and divide for me His disciples, for if you divide them, with these you will conquer them, even with Eve and the serpent, the weak powers, whereby I conquered the first Adam.

21. Death unto the Evil One, made answer and said to him, Wherefore do you not tarry according to your wont? For lo! It is those that are despised and least, that you ensnare after your custom: Jesus Who is great above all, wherewith have you sought to ensnare Him? The experience of His weapons moves you to fear, which He hurled against you when he was tempted of you. You and I with your followers, the host of us is too little for the battle with Him, the Son of Mary.

22. I counsel, then, if this our strife permits us to do anything: go into that disciple, let yourself loose, that head may speak with heads; and let loose all your host, let it go and stir up the Pharisees. And beware, lest you speak contentiously as you are wont. If you are a god, descend from hence, with fondness kiss them and betray Him; and, lo! We will bring on Him the envy and the sword of the Levites.

Hymn 36.

1. Our Lord subdued His might and constrained it, that His living death might give life to Adam. His hands He gave to the piercing of the nails, instead of the hand that plucked the fruit: He was smitten on the cheek in the judgment hall, instead of the mouth that ate it in Eden. And because his foot bore Adam thence, His feet were pierced. Our Lord was stripped, that He might make us modest: with the gall and vinegar He made sweet the bitterness of the serpent, which he had poured forth into mankind. R. Blessed is He Who gave me the victory and quickened the dead to His glory!

2. (Death.)— If You are God show Your power; and if You are man, feel our power. And if it is Adam that You seek, go away! Because of his transgressions he is shut up here; Cherubim and Seraphim await not, in his stead to pay his debt. There is none among them mortal, so as to give his life in his stead. Who can open the mouth of hell, and plunge and bring him up from her, who has swallowed him and keeps a hold on him, and that forever!

3. I am He who has conquered all the wise men; and lo! In the corners they are heaped for me in hell. Come, enter, son of Joseph, and see terrible things; the limbs of the giants, the mighty corpse of Samson, and the skeleton of the stubborn Goliath; Og, moreover, the son of the giants, who made for himself a bed of iron and lay thereon, from whence I hurled him and cast him down; that cedar I laid low to the gate of hell.

4. I by myself alone have conquered multitudes, and one may single-handed seek to conquer me. Prophets and priests and men of renown have I carried off; I have conquered kings in their armies, and mighty men in their hunts, and righteous men in their excellencies. Streams of corpses are hurled by me into hell, and though they pour into her she is thirsty. Though one be near or though he be far off, the end brings him to the gate of hell.

5. Silver I despised at the hand of the rich, and their offerings corrupted me not. The lords of slaves never once persuaded me, to take a slave instead of his lord, and a poor man instead of a rich man, or an old man instead of a child. As for wise that are able to charm wild beasts, their charms enter not into my ears. Hater of persuasion all men call me; and I the thing that is commanded me that I do.

6. Who is this, or whose son is He, or what His lineage who has conquered me? The book of families is by me; lo! I went in and read and studied the names from Adam till now, and not one of the dead do I forget. Family by family, lo! They are written, upon my limbs. Because of You, O Jesus, I went in and made a reckoning, that I might show You that there is none that escapes my hands.

7. Yet were there two men (that I lie not) whose names have escaped me in Hell. For Enoch and Elijah came not to me. In all the world I have sought them; yea there where Jonah descended, I descended and sought and they were not. And though I suppose that into Paradise, they have entered and escaped, a mighty Cherub guards it. The ladder Jacob saw, what if haply by it they have entered into Heaven!

8. Who is there that has measured the sand of the sea, and has spilled only two grains? This harvest wherein every day there labour, diseases as harvesters, I alone carry the handfuls and gather them up; other gatherers in making haste, drop handfuls. Vintagers overlook clusters; but two grapes have escaped me, in that great vintage which I alone have plucked.

9. I am He that has taken (said Death), on sea and on dry land, all prey in chase. Eagles of the air come to me; yea and dragons of the deep: creeping things and fowl and cattle; old men, youths and children. These will convince You, O Son of Mary, that this my power rules over all. Your Cross how shall it conquer me, who by a tree lo! I have prevailed and conquered long ago?

10. But I was desirous to speak yet farther, for I am not wanting in words; yea words are not to be sought by me, for lo! deeds call on me close at hand. Not as you do I make promise, to the simple of secret things, that forsooth there is to be a resurrection at some time or other. If then You are very powerful, give a present pledge, that Your distant promise also may be believed.

11. Death ended his speech of derision: and the voice of our Lord sounded into Hell, and He cried aloud and burst the graves one by one. Tremblings took hold on Death; Hell that never of old had been lighted up, into it there flashed splendours, from the Watchers who entered in and brought out the dead to meet Him, who was dead and gives life to all. The dead came forth, and the living were ashamed, they who thought that they had conquered the Life Giver of all.

12. But who gave me the day of Moses, (said Death) who made a feast for me? For that lamb that was slain in Egypt gave me, from every house the first fruit: heaps and heaps of the first born, at the gate of Hell he piled me them. But this Lamb of the festival, has robbed Hell; of the dead He has taken title and carried them off from me. That lamb filled the graves for me; but this has emptied the graves that were full.

13. The death of Jesus to me is a torment; I prefer for myself His life rather than His death. This is the Dead whose death (lo!) is hateful to me; in the death of all men else I rejoice, but His Death, even His, I detest; that He may come back to life I hope. While He was living He brought to life and restored three that were dead; but now by His death, at the gate of Hell they have trampled on me, the dead who have come to life, whom I was going to shut in.

14. I will haste and will close the gates of Hell, before this Dead, Whose death has spoiled me. Whoever hears will wonder at my humiliation, that by a dead man who is without I am overcome. All the dead seek to go forth, but this one presses to enter in. A medicine of life has entered into Hell, and has restored life to its dead. Who then has brought in and hidden from me, that living fire wherein have reposed, the cold and dark recesses of Hell?

15. Death has seen the Watchers in Hell; the immortal instead of the mortal; and he said Confusion has entered our abode, for in these two things is torment to me: That the dead have come forth out of Hell, and the Watchers that die not have entered therein. Lo! One at the pillow in this tomb, has entered and sat down by it, and a second his companion at His feet. I will entreat of Him and will persuade Him, with His pledge to ascend and go to His Kingdom.

16. Be not angry against me, gracious Jesus, for the words that my pride has spoken before You! Who is there that when seeing Your Cross, shall have doubted that You are man? Who is there that shall have seen Your Power, and shall not believe that You are also God? Lo! Thus by these two things I have learned to confess that You are man and likewise art God! For as much as the dead in Hell repent not, go up among the living, O Lord, and preach repentance.

17. O Jesus King, receive my supplication, and with my supplication take to Yourself a pledge, even Adam the great pledge accept for Yourself, him in whom are buried all the dead; even as when I received him, in him were hidden all the living. The first pledge I have given You, the body of Adam; go up therefore and reign over all; and when I shall hear Your trumpet, I with mine own hand will lead forth the dead at Your Coming.

18. Our King living has gone forth and gone up, out of Hell, as Conqueror. Woe He has doubled to them that are of the left hand; to evil spirits and demons He is sorrow, to Satan and to Death He is pain, to Sin and Hell mourning. Joy to them that are of the right hand, has come today. On this great day therefore, great glory let us give to Him, who died and is alive that, unto all He may, give life and resurrection!

Hymn 37.

1. Death was weeping for her, even for Sheol, when he saw her treasury that it was emptied. And he said, Who, then, has plundered your riches? Gehazi stole and was discovered; I am stealing every day, but theft has not been laid to my charge. I am sent to Kings, in their sicknesses, their guards are set around them, guards are also at their gate. The soul of kings I snatch and I go forth. R., Blessed is He Who has broken the sting of Death by His Cross!

2. All women grieve that are barren; Sheol rejoices because of her barrenness; she is desolate if so be that she brings forth. The all-compelling Power constrained it, even the bosom that was barren and cold, and it rendered back though wont to deny its debts. Rebekah, when the two babes afflicted her, asked for death. How great then the pain of Sheol, when there smote her strange pangs; the dead were roused and broke forth and came out from her bowels.

3. Is this then perchance that saying, which was heard by me from Isaiah? (but I despised it) when he arose and said, Who has heard such a thing as this? That the earth should travail in one day, and bring forth a nation in one hour. Is it this that has come to pass? Or else, is it reserved for us hereafter? And if it be this it is a vain shadow that I thought I am a king; I knew not it was but a deposit I was keeping.

4. Two utterances that were different, have I heard from him, even this Isaiah. For he said that a virgin should conceive and bring forth; and he said again that the earth should bring forth. But lo! The Virgin has brought Him forth, and Sheol the barren has brought Him forth; two wombs that contrary to nature, have been changed by Him; the Virgin and Sheol both of them. The Virgin in her bringing forth He made glad; but Sheol He grieved and made sad in His Resurrection.

5. I saw in the valley that Ezekiel, who quickened the dead when he was questioned; and I saw the bones that were in heaps and they moved. There was a tumult of bones in Sheol, bone seeking for his fellow, and joint for her mate. There was there none that questioned, or that was questioned, whether those bones lived. Unquestioned, the voice of Jesus, the Master of all creatures quickened them.

6. Sheol was made sorrowful when she saw them, even the sorrowful dead made to rejoice. She wept for Lazarus when he went forth, Go in peace you dead that live, bewailed by two houses of mourning. Within and without were lamentations for him; for his sisters wept for him when he came into the grave unto me, and I wept for him as he went forth. In his death there was weeping among the living; likewise in Sheol is great mourning at his resurrection.

7. Now it is that I have tasted the taste of his sorrow, even of him who weeps over his beloved. The dead that are thus beloved of Sheol, how dear were they to their fathers! The limbs which I severed and carried away, lo! They are shorn away and carried off from me. If I thus suffer for the departure of him, the youth who was restored to life, blessed is He Who had compassion on the widow; in her only son He gave peace to her dwelling that had been made desolate.

8. Lo! This suffering which I cause men to suffer in their beloved ones, in the end on me it gathers itself altogether. For when the dead shall have left Sheol, for every man there will be resurrection, and for me alone torment. And who is he then that shall bear for me all these things, that I shall see Sheol left alone, because this voice which has rent the graves, makes her desolate and sends forth the dead that were in her midst?

9. If a man reads in the Prophets, he hears there of righteous wars. But if a man meditate in the story of Jesus, he learns of grace and tender mercy. And if a man think of Jesus, that He is a strange God it is a reproach against me. No other strange key into the gate of Sheol could ever be fitted. One is the key of the Creator, that which has opened it, yea, is to open it at His Coming.

10. Who is he that is able to join the bones, save that Power which created them? What is it that shall reunite the shreds of the body, save the hand of the Maker? What is it that shall restore the forms, save the finger of the Creator? He, who created and turned and destroyed, is He that is able also to renew and raise up. Another God is unable to enter in and restore creatures not his own.

11. But were he another Power, I should be very joyful that He is coming to me. Into the bosom of Sheol He would descend and learn that One alone is God. Mortals that have erred and preached that there are Gods many, lo! They are bound for me in Sheol, and their Gods have never grieved because of them. One God do I know, and His Prophets and His Apostles do I acknowledge.

Hymn 38.

1. My throne was set for me in Sheol: and one arose that was dead, and hurled me from it. Every man feared me alone, and I feared no man. Terror and trouble were among the living, rest and peace among the dead. In a man that was slain lo! There has entered into Sheol He that takes her captive. I used to take all men captive: the Son of Captivity Whom I took captive has taken me captive. He Whom I took captive has led her away and is gone to Paradise. R., Blessed is He Who has quickened the dead of Sheol by His Cross!

2. All men complain much against me; and I against one only have complained. Who is there among men so just as I? Has corruption touched my integrity? I held all men in affection, and whoever hates me knows it; I know not all my days what a bribe is. The person of a king have I not accepted. By me is preached equality, for bondman and his lord in Sheol I make equal.

3. Before God it is that I minister, with Whom is no acceptance of persons. What other is there that endures as I do, I that am cursed when I do good? Perversely are requited to me the benefits I have rendered. Though my deeds are goodly, my name is not goodly. Yet my mind rests in its integrity: in God it is that I comfort myself; for though He is good He is denied every day and endures it.

4. The old I remove from all sufferings, likewise the young from all sins. Secret contention I quell in Sheol; in our land there is no iniquity: it is Sheol and Heaven alone, that are removed from all sins; this earth that lies between, in her iniquity dwells. He therefore that is prudent will either go up into Heaven, or, if that be too hard, will go down to Sheol which is easy.

5. To one man because of one that is dead, every man hastes to comfort him. But for me though many of my dead have come to life, there is none that comes in and comforts me. Satan came in, against Whom, had been proclaimed seven woes even against him; though mightily the Son of Mary had trodden on him, yet uplifted is his spirit; for he is the serpent that strives though bruised. Better is it for me to fall and worship, before this Jesus Who has conquered me by His Cross.

6. When He enters at the gate of Sheol, in place of John who preached before His coming, then will I cry Lo! He that quickens the dead has come; Your servant am I from henceforth, Jesu! Because of The Body I reviled You, for it covered Your Godhead. Be not angry, O Son of the King, against Your treasury; at Your command I have opened and closed. Though my wings be very swift it is at your nod I haste to every quarter.

7. All that have been raised were not first born; for our Lord is the First-born of Sheol. How can any that is dead go before Him, that power whereby he was raised? There are last that are first, and younger that have become first-born. For though Manasseh was first-born, how could it be that Ephraim should take the birthright? And if the second born was set before him, how much rather shall the Lord and Creator prevent all in His Resurrection!

8. Lo! John as a herald declares that he is later, though he was elder-born; for he said, Behold a man comes after me, and yet He was before me. For how could he be before Him, that Power in Whom he preached? For everything that comes to pass because of another thing, is after that other even though it seem to be before. For the cause which called it into being, is elder than it and before it in all things.

9. The cause of Adam was elder than all creatures, which were made for him, for to him even to Adam He had respect continually, the Creator even while he was creating. Thus though Adam as yet was not, he was elder than all creatures. How much more then, my Lord, must this Your manhood be elder, which in Your Godhead is, from eternity with Him that begot You! To You be praise and through You to Your Father from us all!

10. To You be praise for You are the first, in Your Godhead and in Your manhood! For even though Elijah was first to go up, he was not able to prevent Him, for whose sake he was taken up. For his type depended on Your verity: and even though the types apparently are before Your fulfilment, it is before them secretly. Creatures were before Adam; he was before them because for his sake they were made.

11. O my Lord, work for me this resurrection, not of Your compulsion but of Your love. For Your compulsion gives life to sinners also: Iscariot would rather again choose for himself the death of Sheol, than the life of Gehenna. Work for me then the resurrection that is of Your mercy; and even though Your justice permits not, let there be occasion for Your grace. This only let it remember for me, that in it I have sought refuge.

Hymn 39.

1. There have come to me ransomers from among the saints, but none has plundered me like the Son of Mary. For lo! Elijah brought a dead man to life; and even though he himself escaped from my hands, yet had I consolation after him, for the dead man whom he quickened, I carried off from him. By Elisha son of Shaphat, I was beaten as with rods, for he brought two dead men to life. By one staff I in turn bore away both the prophet and the dead whom he had raised. R., Blessed is He Who cleft the tombs of Sheol by His voice!

2. I feared him even Gehazi when I saw, him lay the staff upon the youth. The thief took the staff away and returned; Elisha came and bowed himself; laid himself low as the child and raised himself up, and walked hither and there. I marvelled at the new mysteries which I saw there, which restored but one youth to life. It was well with me then when those were but mysteries, and not now when the dead have rebelled and conquered me.

3. Moses when I saw the mighty splendour upon his face, I feared him: yet not according to what I feared befell it me. Nisan in Sheol he caused to spring for me; for a pasture, a pasture of corpses, of six hundred thousand fell.— This lowly and despised whom I contemned, has healed the sick and the diseased: to others He has multiplied bread, but our bread even ours from our mouths He snatches.

4. A mighty feast there was in Sheol, when I swallowed up Korah and his company. A great delight Satan made for me, when he made strife among the Levites. A fount of milk and honey, made he flow for me in a dry place, when the congregation of transgressors went down to Sheol. — Lo! The righteous have lived and come forth: Moses sent down the living there, but Jesus has revived and brought up the dead.

5. It was well with me then, in the day of the zealous, those in whose swords I had delight. Phinehas the zealous pierced and gave me, on the head of his spear for my delight, Zimri and Cozbi both together; on the head of his lance he presented them to me. To whom then were there ever two fatted oxen, offered on the head of a spear?— But instead of Cozbi, daughter of princes, the daughter of Jairus has Jesus rescued from my hands.

6. The censer of Aaron caused me to fear, for he stood between the dead and the living and conquered me. The Cross causes me to fear more exceedingly, which has rent open the graves of Sheol. The Crucified Whom on it I slew, now by Him am I slain. Not very great is his reproach, who is overcome by a warrior in arms. Worse to me is my reproach than my torment, in that by a crucified man my strength has been overcome.

7. The lance of Phinehas again has caused me to fear, for by the slaughter he wrought with it he hindered the pestilence. The lance guarded the tree of life, it made me glad and made me sad; it hindered Adam from life, and it hindered death from the people. But the lance that pierced Jesus, by it I have suffered; He is pierced and I groan. There came out from Him water and blood; Adam washed and lived and returned to Paradise.

8. The Sadducees were as a mouth for me, and disputed with Him after my mind, that there is no rising of the dead at all. Jesus answered them in a saying, which I alone understood; He spoke aloud the hateful word and saddened me, I am the God of him even of Abraham, and God is not the God of the dead. It was well with me then these were but words, and He had not yet showed me the life of the dead indeed.

9. Jesus son of Nun, slew thirty kings, and filled the graves and pits for me; he laid waste Jericho and filled Sheol. But this Jesus who has come, has wasted the graves of their dead, and has filled the cities of the upper world. Wherefore thus when lo! They are like in their names, are they unlike in their doings? That gave me the body of Achor, but this snatched from me the body of Lazarus.

10. Moses trod down that Egyptian, with his meekness he mingled justice. Whence has this new law sprung for me, If one smite you on your cheek, turn to him your other cheek, and see that you hate him not? Instead of the strong man of zeal who trod down and slew, a new man of mercy has risen for us. Samuel hewed Agag in pieces, but Jesus healed the paralytic.

11. Tender mercy which had as it were waxed less, lo! In this time has waxed great. And moreover it was then detested, lest through it one should transgress the commandment; for without mercy Saul and Ahab, were slain because they desired, to have mercy on the evil ones, and they were not slain who were deserving of punishment. In my time Jesus has changed this, by giving life to all men and having compassion on His slayers.

12. I remember Samson that lion's cub, who broke and gave me the pillars of Philistia; also that mighty man of valor Abner son of Ner, took for me that fleet wild roe, Asahel son of Zeruiah, and smote him and cast him on the ground. Benaiah in the holy temple slew Jacob, justly as it is written.— Because justice has restrained her sword, henceforth penitents shall rejoice in grace.

13. David measured the Edomites, by line and line and destroyed them. How merciful then are You, O Son of David! David's justice was twofold, when he put to death two lines, and saved one full line alive.— Lo! The Son of David teaches us, Forgive your brother even unto seventy times seven. There justice was measured; but here clemency is without measure.

14. Of zeal and strength David was possessed; the lion and the bear he slew together. He left that mighty lion and hasted, to meet the strong giant. With a stone he quenched his light, and his soul left him and he perished. But Jesus cried to the young man that was dead Young man! Even the dead to Him are sleepers. That young man He brought to life and rescued from me. The despised swine He drowned for me in the sea.

15. The Levites slew because of the calf, their fathers and their brethren. Jephthah by his own hands was ready to slay his daughter. The King of Moab on the wall, was sacrificing his first-born son: In presence of his sword I rejoice.— By Jesus the sword was blunted; yea the fever was rebuked, the sister of Sheol: the mother-in-law of Simeon was healed, but the fame of her healing smote Sheol with pain.

16. This Jesus though he be the Son of the Just One, all that He preaches is grace. But to me this His grace is torment. Envy is the cause of pleasure to us, for Envy at the beginning mixed for me the first shedding of blood. Why is it guilty in the sight of the Son of Mary Who has come commanding, You shall not be angry against your brother? He has taken away the sword from between brethren; while in the sword of Cain I had pleasure from the beginning.

17. An honeycomb in the midst of the skeleton, Samson found — was it then a mystery? This Jesus has multiplied for us mysteries. Amid billows of mysteries have I fallen, which show me in parable the life of the dead, in all mysteries and in all types. Out of the eater came forth meat was Samson's parable. But to me it has befallen contrariwise; for the eater has come forth to me out of the meat, for out of Adam lo! has come the Son of Adam Who has destroyed me.

18. Just men likewise have robbed me manifold, when by them was preached the rising of the dead: but they mingled with my sorrows great consolation. By the prayer of Asa and Hezekiah, I was fed upon the dead, yea I feasted upon corpses. Elijah slew the prophets of Baal and gave them to me, who on the bread of Jezebel had waxed fat. The righteous has constrained me to devour, but Jesus has compelled me to disgorge all that I had eaten.

19. I was afraid because of the sprinkled blood, which Moses sprinkled on every door; for though the blood of the slain, it was that which saved the living. Blood from of old I feared not, save that blood that was on the doors, and this moreover that was on the Tree. The blood of the slain is a delight, and is as sweet perfume: but the blood of Jesus is to me a terror; for whenever I come and smell His blood, the savour of life that lurks therein terrifies me.

20. Priests and pontiffs, anointed men and kings, who foreshow types of the rising of the dead, have never triumphed through their crosses. Crowns and diadems were set on them; and when I engaged in struggles with them, I was smitten sometimes and sometimes also I smote. But this carpenter's son with his crown of thorns, has humbled and cast down my pride, in His shame and His dying: Sheol has seen Him, yea, and fled from before Him.

21. When the sea saw Moses and fled, it feared because of his rod, and likewise because of his glory. His splendour and his rod and his power, the rock also saw which was cleft. But Sheol when her graves were rent, what saw she in Him even in Jesus? — Instead of splendour He put on the paleness of the dead and made her tremble. And if His paleness when slain slew her, how shall she be able to endure, when He comes to raise the dead, in His Glory!

Hymn 40.

1. The Evil One perceived his great humiliation, and boasted himself in the presence of his servants: he spoke great words to persuade them and said: The knowledge which I possess, little of it is by nature; and much of it, yea all of it, is by learning. I to myself have been master, and have exercised my understanding. Without a teacher I have learned all; I have armed myself with every weapon, and have won by it the crown which I desired among mankind. R., Blessed is He that has come and undone the snares of sin!

2. Among the Pharisees I clothed myself in hatred, that I might contend with Him, even the Son of Mary. Wrath like a bow rained shafts; boldness railed upon Him; fury rebelled against Him; ingratitude slandered Him; envy and jealousy in their wrath, strove with Him; and blasphemy took up stones. The Healer came in and stood among the sick, and I stirred up the diseased in contention against Him.

3. Because He fell not under reproach, it was in questions that I took refuge. Many times did I stir up occasions, but I saw that my falsehood was rebuked, and my impudence was made known, and my vain babbling was despised. To the windings of contention I betook myself. Everywhere that I disputed with Him, all my labor was as chaff, and the word of truth scattered it on every side.

4. I saw that there is a warrior and a mighty lord, in cunning within man: [and the snake that is without makes it fear.] His lusts within him is coiled continually; his jealousy hisses like a serpent. Deadly desires he begets, and of a fever he is in dread. Command as a drug, is able to quell derision, which smites unto destruction. It is love that avails to break the sting secret and bitter of the tongue.

5. Who is more foolish than men, who rather than for himself cares for his dwelling! The garments that are in his chest he examines daily, and a worm is lurking in his members. The rents that are in his clothes he mends, but a rent is made in his soul. His house is lighted up but his heart is dark. He shuts up his senses but opens his windows. He closes his door and guards his money; his mouth is open and the treasure of his thought is stolen.

6. The fool makes more of his beasts than of himself, for he cares for his possessions rather than for his soul. Good seed he sows in his ground; in his heart he sows tares. His understanding is thrown open and cast down; but at the fences of his vineyard he labours. He chooses and plants vine-plants; while his mind is a vine of the vines of Sodom. He keeps off the wild ass from his sowing; but the wild boar of the wood devours his thoughts.

7. I am a furnace to the sons of men, and in me are tried their counsels. Therefore is it lawful to me to weave deceit. I teach the Chaldean art: by reason of the true things that befall, the false things are believed. In the midst of Egypt I closed men's eyes; I showed insects, men thought they were though they were not. By closing men's eyes I teach the signs of the Zodiac, though they are not in the heavens.

8. By reason of my swiftness I fly and see, and I show beforehand to the soothsayer; they who err concerning me count me a prophet. But sometimes I make bold; and I ask that for an hour, secret things be revealed to me, that true men may be proved by me even as Job, likewise deceivers as Saul. For the one I revealed his sorcery; and for the other I purged his truth and he was praised.

Hymn 41.

1. The Evil One said, I fear Him, even Jesus, lest He destroy my arts. For lo! I am thousands of years old, and never have I had repose. I have seen nothing established, that I have turned from and left. There has come One making the unchaste pure: there is sorrow since He has destroyed all that I had built. Many have been my labours and my teachings, that I might cover all creation with all evils. R., Blessed is He Who came and laid bare the wiles of the Crafty One!

2. I matched my speed with the swift, and I outstripped them: I waged war; the tumult of multitudes was armour to me. In the tumult of the people I rejoiced, because it gave me ready room, for grievous is the onslaught of multitudes. By the strength of multitudes I raised a great mountain, a tower I stretched unto heaven. If they waged war with the Height, how much more shall they conquer Him whose warfare is on earth?

3. As time serves and as help offers, I wage war, but cautiously. The people used to hear that God is one; they made for themselves a multitude of gods. And when they saw the Son of God, they made haste to the One God, that as though confessing God they might deny Him, and as though in zeal might flee from Him; so that they in all times perverse shall be found to be without God.

4. Lo! I am ancient of many years, and no infant have I ever rejected. The burden of children have I ofttimes borne, so that from the beginning I might make them acquire habits that are not goodly, that their faults might grow up with them. But there are foolish fathers, who do not crush the seed that I have sown in their sons; and there are some who like good husbandmen, root up faults from the mind of their children.

5. As with a chain I have bound men with sloth, and they sat in idleness. I have drawn away their senses from all good things; their eyes from reading, their mouths from singing praise, their understanding from doctrine. For hurtful and vain fables how eager are they; for empty talk how ready! If the word of life fell among them, they either thrust it from them, or rose and went forth from its presence.

6. How many Satans are there among men! And me even me alone every man curses. For lo! The anger of men — it is a devil that grinds him every day. Demons are like wayfarers, who depart if they are compelled: but against anger though all righteous men adjure, it is not rooted out from its place. Instead of pernicious envy, every one hates a weak and wretched demon.

7. The enchanter is put to shame with the wizard, who every day tames serpents. The viper that is within him is out of his power; for the lust that is within him he tames not. Secret sin like an asp, when it breathes on him he is scorched. Even when he takes the viper through his cunning, delusion smites him secretly. He lulls the snake by his incantations: he wakens against himself mighty wrath by his incantations.

8. I set my stings and I sat and waited: who is long-enduring as I with all? Beside the patient-spirited I sat, and step by step I bewitched him, so that he came unto despair. Him who was ashamed of his transgressions, habits subdued him: little by little I mastered him, till he became under the yoke, till he came in to it and was used to it and did not even wish to go forth.

9. I perceived and saw that the long-enduring is he that can subdue all. At the time when I conquered Adam, he was but one. I left him till he had begotten children, and I sought for myself another task, for idleness is not to my taste. I counted the sands of the sea, that thereby I might make my spirit patient, and might prove my memory whether it would suffice, for the sons of men when they were multiplied. Before they were multiplied, I proved them in many things.

10. The servants of the Evil One disputed with him, and they refuted his words with their rejoinder. But lo! Elisha brought the dead to life, and conquered death in the upper chamber, and brought to life the widow's son. Lo! now is he in bondage in Sheol. But because the reasoning of the Evil One was very powerful, with their own words he refuted their words. How has Elisha been overcome? Lo! In Sheol he brought the dead to life by his bones.

11. If Elisha, who was of small power, was great in might in the midst of Sheol, and if so be he brought one dead to life therein, how many dead then will be raised therein, by the death of Jesus the mighty! Hence even from this consider how much greater therefore is Jesus, than we my comrades. For lo! By His craftiness He deceived you, and you sufficed not to determine His greatness when you compared Him to the prophets.

12. Your consolations are of small power, said the Evil One to them of his company. For He Who brought Lazarus to life though dead, how can Death suffice against Him? And if Death conquers Him, it is that He wills to be subdued unto him; and if so be He wills to be subdued, fear greatly, for He dies not in vain. He has wrought in us great terror, lest when dying He may enter in to raise Adam to life.

13. Death looked forth from within his den, and marvelled when he saw our Lord crucified, and he said O raiser of the dead to life where are you! You shall be to me for meat, instead of the sweet Lazarus, whose savour lo! It is still in my mouth. Jairus' daughter shall come and see this Your cross. The widow's son gazes on You. A tree caught Adam for me: blessed be the Cross which has caught for me the Son of David!

14. Death opened his mouth and said, Have You not heard, O Son of Mary, how Moses was great and excellent above all? Became a God and wrought the works of God? slew the first-born and saved the first-born? Turned aside the pestilence from the living? To the mount I went up with Moses, and He Whose glory be blessed gave him to me from hand to hand. For however great the son of Adam becomes, dust he is and to his dust returns, because he is of the ground.

15. Satan came with his servants, that he might see our Lord cast into Sheol, and might rejoice with Death his Counsellor; and he saw Him sorrowful and mourning, because of the dead who at the voice of the Firstborn, lived and came forth thence even from Sheol. The Evil One arose to console Death his kinsman. You have not destroyed as much as you were able. Even as Jesus is in your midst, to your hand shall come they that have lived and that live.

16. Open for us to see Him, yea and mock Him: let us answer and say, 'Where is Your power? For lo! Three days have passed for Him, and let us say to Him, O You of three days, Who raised Lazarus, when he had lain four days, raise Your own self.' Death opened the gates of Sheol, and there shone from it the splendour of the face of our Lord; and like the men of Sodom they were smitten; they groped and sought the gate of Sheol, which they had lost.

Hymn 42.

1. The Evil One wailed Where now, is there a place for me to flee to from the righteous? I stirred up Death to slay the Apostles, that I might be safe from their blows. By their deaths now more exceedingly am I cruelly beaten. The Apostle whom I slew in India is before me in Edessa: he is here wholly and also there. I went there, there was he: here and there I have found him and been grieved. R., Blessed is the might that dwells in the hallowed bones!

2. The bones that merchantmen carried, or was it then that they carried him? For lo! They made gain each of the other. But for me what did they profit me? Yea they profited each by each, while to me from both of them there was damage. O that one would show me that bag of Iscariot, for by it I acquired strength! The bag of Thomas has slain me, for the secret strength that dwells in it tortures me.

3. Moses the chosen carried the bones, in faith as for gain. And if he a great prophet believed, that there is benefit in bones, the merchant did well to believe, and did well to call himself merchant. That merchant made gain, and waxed great and reigned. His storehouse has made me very poor: his storehouse has been opened in Edessa, and has enriched the great city with benefit.

4. At this storehouse of treasure I was amazed, for small was its treasure at first; and though no man took from it, poor was the spring of its wealth. But when multitudes have come round it, and plundered it and carried off its riches, according as it is plundered, so much the more does its wealth increase. For a pent-up spring, if one seeks it out, when deeply pierced it flows forth mightily and abounds.

5. It is evident that Elisha was a fountain in a thirsting people: and because they that thirsted sought him not out, his outflow was not great. But when Naaman sought him out, he abounded and poured forth healing. The fountain into the midst of a fountain, he took him and plunged him; for in the river he cleansed the leper. Jesus the Sea of benefits, into Siloam sent the blind man whose eyes were opened.

6. Gehazi, with the staff that brought to life the dead, was unable to raise the child. And how could the famous prophet have been brought up by the sorceress? We were they that mocked Saul, for instead of one demon whom he questioned, two demons came up and mocked him. From the bones of Elisha learn also of the bones of Samuel; for though Elisha's bones brought to life the dead, the sorcerers could not bring up the dead, the living and sacred bones.

7. And though I asked this petition, He who gives all gave it not to me. For though the demons were troubled, by the bones of some priest, or magician or wizard, of Chaldean or soothsayer, yet I was aware that this was but mockery. In two ways I cause men to err: either I make the Apostles to lie, or I make my Apostles like the Apostles.

8. The party of the demons lo! It is spoiled; the party of the devils endures stripes: though there be none that lifts the rod openly, the demons cry out with pain; though there be none that fetters and binds, the spirits hang bound. This silent judgment, which is calm and still, and works not even by questioning, the one power that is all sufficing, lo! It dwells in the bones of this second Elisha.

9. He gave judgment unto His Twelve, that they might judge the twelve Tribes. And if so be that they are to judge the sons of the great Abraham, this is then no great matter, that they shall judge demons now. And unless they make the crucifiers fulfil the judgment that is to be, by our judgment shall they be proved. For worse than we did they cry out, in presence of the Apostles the judges of the tribes.

10. For a wolf was Saul the Apostle, and on the blood of the sheep I reared him; and he waxed strong and became a singular wolf. But near to Damascus suddenly, the wolf was changed into a sheep. He said that the Apostles, are to judge Angels; for by the Angels he signified the priest as it is written. If so be then they are thus powerful, woe to the demons from the strokes of their bones!

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Source. Translated by J.T. Sarsfield Stopford. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 13. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1890.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <>.

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