Ephraim, Apapphrat 1135
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 month 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 thou be God show Thy power; and if thou be man, feel our power. And if it be Adam that thou seekest, get Thee hence! 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 month 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 ill 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 athirst. 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 Thee, O Jesus, I went in and made a reckoning, that I might show Thee that there is none that escapeth my hands.
7. Yet were there two men (that I He 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 thither 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 spilt 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 Thee, O Son of Mary, that this my power rules over all. Thy Cross how shall it conquer me, who by a tree lo! I have prevailed and conquered from old time?
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 Thou art very powerful, give a present pledge, that Thy 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. Whoso 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 wroth against me, gracious Jesus, for the words that my pride has spoken before Thee! Who is there that when seeing Thy Cross, shall have doubted that Thou art man? Who is there that shall have seen Thy Power, and shall not believe that Thou art also God? Lo! thus by these two things I have learnt to confess that Thou art 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 Thyself a pledge, even Adam the great pledge accept for Thyself, 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 Thee, the body of Adam; go Thou up therefore and reign over all; and when I shall hear Thy trumpet, I with mine own hand will lead forth the dead at Thy 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 to-day. 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!
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 thy 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 brake 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 hath 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 thou dead that livest, 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.
1138 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 whoso 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 is come; Thy servant am I from henceforth, Jesu! Because of The Body I reviled Thee, for it covered Thy Godhead. Be not angry, O Son of the King, against Thy treasury; at Thy command I have opened and closed. Though my wings be very swift it is at thy 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 cometh 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 eider 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 Thy manhood be elder, which in Thy Godhead is, from eternity with Him that begat Thee! To Thee be praise and through Thee to Thy Father from us all!
10. To Thee be praise for Thou art the first, in Thy Godhead and in Thy 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 Thy verity: and even though the types apparently are before Thy 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 Thy compulsion but of Thy love. For Thy 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 Thy mercy; and even though Thy justice permits not, let there be occasion for Thy grace. This only let it remember for me, that in it I have sought refuge.
1139 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 be 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 thither. 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 befel 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 thither, 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 spake 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 is 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 thee on thy cheek, turn to him thy other cheek, and see that thou 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 whelp, who brake 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 art Thou, 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 thy 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 is come commanding, “Thou shalt not be angry against thy 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!
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 learnt 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 ode 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 I 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.
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 t 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 ye, how much greater therefore is Jesus, than we my comrades. For lo! by His craftiness He deceived you, and ye sufficed not to determine His greatness when ye 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 ye 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 art thou! Thou shalt 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 Thy cross. The widow’s son gazes on Thee. 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, “Hast Thou 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. “Thou hast not destroyed as much as thou wast able. Even as Jesus is in thy midst, to thy 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 Thy power? For lo! three days have passed for Him, and let us say to Him, O Thou of three days, Who didst raise Lazarus, when he had lain four days, raise Thine 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.
Ephraim, Apapphrat 1135