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 III.
1. Thou dost not hide thyself in thy bareness, O pearl! With the love of thee is the merchant ravished also, for he strips off his garments; not to cover thee, [seeing] thy clothing is thy light, thy garment is thy brightness, O thou that art bared!
Thou art like Eve who was clothed with nakedness. Cursed be he that deceived her and stripped her and left her. The serpent cannot strip off thy glory. In the mysteries whose type thou art, women are clothed with Light in Eden. 526
2. Very glistening are the pearls of Ethiopia, as it is written, Who gave thee to Ethiopia [the land] of black men. 527 He that gave light to the Gentiles, both to the Ethiopians and unto the Indians did His bright beams reach.
The eunuch of Ethiopia upon his chariot 528 saw Philip: the Lamb of Light met the dark man from out of the water. While he was reading, the Ethiopian was baptised and shone with joy, and journeyed on!
He made disciples and taught, and out of black men he made men white. 529 And the dark Ethiopic women 530 became pearls for the Son; He offered them up to the Father, as a glistening crown from the Ethiopians.
3. The Queen of Sheba 531 was a sheep 532 that had come into the place of wolves; the lamp of truth did Solomon give her, who also married 533 her when he fell away. She was enlightened and went away, but they were dark as their manner was.
The bright spark which went down home with that blessed [Queen], held on its shining amid the darkness, till the new Day-spring came. The bright spark met with this shining, and illumined the place.
4. There are in the sea divers fishes of many cubits, and with all their greatness they are very small; but by thy littleness the crown is made great, like as the Son, by whose littleness Adam was made great.
For the head is thy crown intended: for the eye thy beauty, for the ear thy goodliness. Come up from the sea, thou neighbour to the dry land, and come and sojourn by the [seat of] hearing. Let the ear love the word of life as it loveth thee!
In the ear is the word, and without it is the pearl. Let it as being warned by thee, p. 296 by thee get wisdom, and be warned by the word of truth. Be thou its mirror: the beauty of the Word in thine own beauty shall it see: in thee it shall learn how precious is the Word on High! The ear is the leaf: the flesh is the tree, and thou in the midst of it are a fruit of light, and to the womb that brings forth Light, thou art a type that points.
Thee He used as a parable of that kingdom, O pearl! as He did the virgins that entered into it, five in number, clothed with the light of their lamps! To thee are those bright ones like, thou that art clad in light!
5. Who would give a pearl to the daughter of the poor? For when it hangs on her, it becomes her not. Gain without price that faith, all of which becomes all the limbs of men. But for no gold would a lady exchange her pearl.
It were a great disgrace if thou shouldst throw thy pearl away into the mire for nought!
In the pearl of time let us behold that of eternity; for it is in the purse, or in the seal, or in the treasury. Within the gate there are other gates with their locks and keys. Thy pearl hath the High One sealed up as taking account of all.
I.e. with the mysteries typified in the pearl, women are clothed with light at Baptism.295:527
Job xxviii. 19 (Pesh.).295:528
Acts viii. 27.295:529
Jer. 13:23, Isa. 1:18.295:530
Ps. lxviii. 31.295:531
1 Kings x. 1.295:532
Why St. E. contemplates the queen as a sheep appears from his remarks on the place. The following are a part of them “It was not the fame of Solomon only, but also the Name of the Lord, which called to this queen, who sought to know the God of Solomon, who set out upon a dangerous long journey, and brought presents fit for a king.…Our Lord also extolled this queen in the Gospel, and praised her zealousness, when He rebuked the sluggishness of the Jews.”295:533
This was a tradition of the Jews, a tradition based in part on Song of Sol. 1.5.
Next: Hymn IV.
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