Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XIII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Selections from the Hymns and Homilies of Ephraim the Syrian and from the Demonstrations of Aphrahat the Persian Sage.: Hymn XIII. Concerning Mar Jacob and his Companions.
Concerning Mar Jacob and his Companions.
1. Three illustrious priests, after the manner of the two great lights,—have carried on and handed down one to another, the See and the Hand and the Flock.—To us whose mounting was great for the two, this last is wholly a consolation. R., Glory to Thee Who didst choose them!
2. He Who created two great lights, chose for Himself these three Lights,—and set them in the three dark seasons of siege that have been.—When that pair of Lights was quenched, the other shone wholly forth.
3. These three priests were treasures, who held in their faithfulness,—the key of the Trinity; three doors they opened for us;—each one of them with his key, unlocked and opened his door.
4. In the first was opened the door, for the chastisement that befel us;—in the next was opened the door, for the Kings power that came down on us,—in the last was opened the door, for the good tidings that came up for us.
5. In the first was opened the door, for battle between two hosts;—in the next were opened doors, for the kings from either wind;—in the last was opened the door, for ambassadors from either side.
6. In the first was opened the door, for battle because of misdeeds;—in the next was opened the door,—for the kings because of strife;—in the last was opened the door, for ambassadors because of mercies.
7. Lo! in these three successions, as in a mystery and a figure,—wrath is likened to the sun; it began under the first;—it waxed strong under the next; it sank and was quenched under the last.
p. 181 8. Three figures the Sun also, shows forth in the three quarters:—its rising is keen and bright; its meridian strong and overpowering;—and like a torch that is burnt out, its setting is mild and pleasant.
9. Small yet bright is its rising, when it comes to waken sleepers;—hot and overpowering its meridian, when it comes to ripen the fruits;—tender and pleasant its setting, when it reaches its consummation.
10. Who is this daughter born of vows, enviable above all women,—whose successions thus proceed, and her ranks are thus manifold,—and her degrees thus ascend, and her teachers thus excel.
11. Do these similitudes belong, only to the daughter of Abraham,—or to thee too, O daughter, born of vows, whose adorning is according as thy beauty?—for as thine occasion, so was thy help, and as thy help so was its minister.
12. According to the measure of her need, there came to her the supply of her need.—Her fathers were as was her birth; her teachers were as was her understanding;—her training as was her growth; her raiment as was her stature.
13. Grace weighed out to her and gave all these things as in the scales;—she laid them in her balance, that therefrom there might be profit;—she drew them into succession, that therefrom might be perfection.
14. In the days of him that was first, peace abounded and peace vanished;—in the days of him that was next, kings came down and kings went back;—but in the days of the last, hosts assailed and hosts retreated.—
15. By the first order came in, it came in with him and went out with him;—by the next the diadem that gladdened our churches, came nigh and withdrew far away;—but by the last there dawned on us, grace that was not thankfully received.
16. Against the wrath that was first, the labour of the first contended;—against the heat that was at noon, the shade of the second stood up;—against peace that was thankless, the last multiplied warnings.
17. For the first invader of the land was the first and illustrious priest;—for the second invader of the land, was the second and merciful priest:—but the prayers of him that was last, repaired our breaches secretly.
18. Nisibis is set 352 upon waters, waters secret and open:—living streams are within her; a noble river without her. The river without deceived her; the fountain within has saved her.
19. The first priest was her vinedresser; he made her branches to grow even unto heaven.—Lo! being dead and buried within her, he has become fruit in the midst of her bosom:—when therefore the pruners came, the fruit that was in her midst preserved her.
20. The time of her pruning came; it entered and took from her her vinedresser,—that there should not be one to pray for her. She made haste in her subtlety;—He laid in her bosom her vinedresser, that she should be delivered through her vinedresser.
21. Be ye wise like Nisibis, O ye daughters of Nisibis,—for that she laid the body within her, and it became a wall without her.—Place ye within you the living body, that it be a wall for your lives!
The verb is nsab,—a play on the name of the city.
Next: Hymn XIV.
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