APOCALYPSE OF SAMUEL, SUPERIOR OF DEIR-EL-QALAMOUN
The Apocalypse of Samuel of Kalamoun is a very interesting text originally composed in Coptic in the 10th century but now only extant in Arabic. It bewails the destruction of Coptic culture by Arabic and the Islamization of the Copts. The work consists of two parts: a sermon and an apocalypse. The purpose of the sermon is to condemn all relationship with the Moslems and especially the use of the Arabic language, to give moral regulations which often begin by the words "Be on guard". Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, in the church of the monastery where she appeared several times to Samuel, is also recommended at length. After that, Gregory, bishop of El-Qais, questions Samuel about the end times.
The Apocalypse of Samuel, the superior of Deir-el-Qalamoun.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God only; glory to Him. Amen. With the help of God, may He be blessed, we will begin to write a discourse of our holy father Anbâ Samuel, superior of Deir-el-Qalamoun. — May his prayer be with us! — Amen.
He gave in this discourse some accounts of the events which will take place in the land of Egypt under the reign of the Arab hegira. Gregorius, bishop of El-Qais, who had come to visit him and obtain the cure of a disease which he had, the bishop himself, assisted in this discourse. As for Apollo, the disciple of the holy father Anba Samuel, he awaits a great profit from this discourse for he who will read it, will observe it and do what is written there. When the Arab emigrants had seized Egypt, they were very few: but they multiplied their benefits towards the Christian people. At this point in time our brothers the monks started to discuss this subject with the father Anbâ Samuel, asking him whether their domination on the land of Egypt would be prolonged for a long time or not. And the saint, in the presence of the bishop, gave a sigh from the bottom of his heart and said: "Blessed be God, who has established the eras in fixing a limit for them, who exalts a nation and lowers another, who dethrones and raises kings. Do not believe, my beloved children, that this nation is agreeable to the eyes of God because He has delivered this land into their hands; because the wisdom of God is unsearchable for humans and there is no-one who can know the works of the Creator nor the end of the times but Him alone. — I tell you, my children, of the many evils that the heretics have committed against the Orthodox in the time of father Dioscorus, and which they still do nowadays, and of those which they did against our father Dioscorus himself: they exiled him to remote islands.
Irotarius sat down on his patriarchal seat while he was living and he did many injustices against the Christians, deporting the bishops, organizing to massacre the Orthodox and demolish the monasteries. "As for Ouquiliânos, the false monk", I keep silent myself about this, because I cannot report and describe the ill deeds which he did within Jerusalem neither his massacres of the Orthodox, nor to describe either what this harmful man did whom we should not name, Kabeyros el-Mouqaouqiz, iniquitous in his actions, he, who oppressed the Orthodox, who drove them out from one place to another, putting all his application to pursue the father Benjamin: he sharpened his teeth against him and said: "I need to find the man with the big beard so that I can order that he is stoned!" This is why God heard the prayer of his elect who cried to him and sent to them, according to their request, this nation which seeks gold and not the religious profession.
For myself, I prefer silence, my dear children, and I do not want to describe to you what the Christians will suffer from the Arab emigrants during their reign. May God make it that you do not recall their name in the middle of us today, for this is an arrogant race whom we should not name in the assemblies of the saints. Ah! this name! that of the Arabs, and their domination, contrary to our laws! these haughty kings who will reign in their day! these sorrows which will affect future generations because they will act like them!
In truth, my children, the angel of the Lord has revealed to me hard times and sorrows without number to which this arrogant nation will subject the children of men.
I do not want to speak about these Arabs nor of their reign, hard to bear, nor of the end of time, following what is written, "It is not given to you to know dates and times, because the Father has kept these things in his power alone." But I will tell you some details in the interest of your souls; and what I say to you will infallibly happen in future ages, when the commandments of God are abandoned. But any man of a vigilant soul will take care not to imitate the conduct of the Arabs and his soul will be saved.
Do you see, my children, this nation so small in number? They will multiply and become a very great people. Many other nations will join them, and they will multiply like the sands of the sea and like grasshoppers. Their power will be consolidated and they will extend their domination over several countries, to the East and the West. They will capture Jerusalem on several occasions. Many other peoples will mingle with them: Hebrews, Greeks, Edessans, inhabitants of Jordan, inhabitants of Amid, Chaldaeans, Persians, Berbers, those of Sind and India. They will increase their power very much and will be at peace with the Christians with a short time. After that, the Christians will be jealous of their way of life: they will eat and drink with them; they will play like them; following their example they will be dissipated and commit adultery. Like them, they will take concubines and will soil their bodies in contact with the women of the hegira, rebels and impure; they will lie down with males like them: they will steal, swear, and do injustice; they will hate each other and will deliver each other to merciless nations; much vain speech which should not be said will come out of their mouths. They will represent the image of God, that is, the man, in several ways: They will call some pigs, others dogs, others asses. In the same way also, Christian women will give up the good habits of decent women, to take the dress of blasphemy, to become useless, bad in their conduct, dissolute in their intentions. They also will say blasphemous words and from their mouths will go forth speech that nobody should utter; because they will blaspheme against God. They will even end up saying without fear: "I will act against the God who created me..."
Woe! twice woe! What can I say about these deeds, which will excite the anger of a perfect God? Without the mercy of God and the forbearance of his spirit, He would grant no more delay to the world. Truly, in those times, the Christians will be full of iniquity, idle towards the things of God, distracted by their business. In that time they will love to drink and eat; they will be devoted to pleasures more than to the love of God; they will attend the meeting places where one drinks and eats more than they will attend the church of God. They will be sitting in the streets, concerned about the things of the world, in no way concerned with the Church. It will not come to their minds in the soul that the readings are being made without them present: they will not even hear the Gospel. It is only at the end of the mass that they will present themselves at church. Some of them will do what is not allowed in dealing with their business to the point of missing the sermons. They will present themselves then at the church: they will take the Evangelary, will get informed about the chapter which was read and get alone into a corner to read it: they will thus make their own law. Woe! twice woe! What shall I say, my children, about those times and the idleness which will overcome the Christians? In that time they will deviate much from uprightness and will imitate those of the hegira in their deeds; they will give the names of the latter to their children, leaving aside the names of the Angels, Prophets, of the Apostles and the Martyrs. They will commit yet another act, at which your hearts would be racked with pain, if I told it to you, knowingly they will give up the beautiful Coptic language in which the Holy Spirit has often spoken by the mouths of our spiritual fathers; they will teach their children, from their youth, to speak the language of the hegira and they will take pride in it. Even the priests and the monks themselves will also dare to speak Arabic and to take pride in it and that inside the sanctuary.
Woe! twice woe! my dear children. What can I say? In those times the readers in the church will understand neither what they read nor what they say because they will have forgotten their language, and they will truly be unfortunate, deserving of tears, because they will have forgotten their language and will have spoken the language of the hegira.
But woe to any Christian who teaches his son, from his youth, the language of the hegira, so making him forget the language of his ancestors, because he will be responsible for his transgression, as it is written: "parents will be judged for their sons." What shall I say about the laxity will say which will conquer the Christians: they will eat and drink inside the temple without fear; they will forget the fear of the sanctuary, it will be no longer respected in their eyes; its doors will be abandoned, and not even half of a clerk will be seen there, because they will neglect and will not fulfill the seven rites of the Church: you will see men in this time seeking the ranks of priesthood, whereas they do not deserve yet to be readers to read in front of the people. Many books will fall into disuse, because there will be among them no-one to deal with the books, their hearts being attracted by the foreign books. They will forget many of the martyrs because their biographies will disappear and will not be found any longer. The few biographies which are found, if they are read, many of the faithful will not understand because they will be ignorant of the language. In that time many churches will fall into ruin; they will be deserted on the eve of the festivals and the eve of Sunday too. There will be no-one among the Christians able to read a book on an ambo, even the holy forty books intended for our salvation. You will not find anybody to do the reading to the people, to instruct them, because the Christians will have forgotten the language and will no longer understand what they read and will not even suspect this. Also the readers will not understand. In the same way also in Arsinoe, the great city which belongs to the Fayoum, as well as its districts, where the laws of Christ are. Those who are famous for their books, strong in the knowledge of God, those whose Coptic language was equal in their mouth to the sweetness of honey, and spread around them like the odor of perfumes, because of their beautiful pronunciation of the Coptic language, all, in that time, will give up this language to speak the Arab language and take pride in it, to the point where they will no longer be able to be recognized as Christians; but on the contrary will be taken for Berbers. Those of the Sa`id who still know and speak the Coptic language will be scoffed at and insulted by the Christians their brothers who speak the Arabic language.
Woe, twice woe! How great the misery! how very grave the acts which will be carried out in those times by the Christians! In recounting these things to you my heart has truly suffered, my eyes have poured tears and my body has trembled much. Do you think that there is for the soul a pain greater than to see the Christians giving up their sweet language to take pride in that of the Arabs, as well as in their names? In truth I say to you, my children, that those who will give up the names of the Saints in order to give foreign names to their children, those who will act thus will be excluded from the blessing of the Saints; and whoever will dare to speak inside the sanctuary in the language of the hegira, that one will depart from the ordinances of our holy fathers.
In that time men will commit serious sins and there will be nobody to correct them, to instruct them, and to have pity on them, because they will all sin, their old men as well as their teachers. The father will learn the fault from his son without rebuking him and the woman will find good in her daughter that which is bad. Far from rebuking, she will fall into the sin with her, because the sin will no longer be a matter of remorse for the Christians, but on the contrary, they will find sweetness there, because they will remain without teachers. This is why they will add sins upon sins and there will be nobody to instruct them and to rebuke them. But each will pursue his own interests. The priest will not rebuke the sinner. He who is great will not instruct the little and the little one will not obey the great, because they will give up the laws of the Church and the rules of our holy fathers. They will go as far as suppressing the prescribed and recognized fasts. Those of them who fast will not complete their fast as they should because of their gluttony; they will encourage others to lunch with them, because each will have chosen a rule for himself according to his desires. There will be some who, from imitation and respect for men, will break the fast before the time prescribed and before the shadow reaches the measurement which varies according to the month. You will find them at church in a nonchalant and lazy manner of behavior, discussing the vain things of the inundation, without reflecting, without remembering that the body of God is on the paten, that His blood is in the chalice on the altar. On the contrary, this terrible mystery will be to them like an amusement. If any of them is taken with zeal for God and goes as far as saying some word of instruction drawn from the canons, they will take him at once for an enemy and, like lions, they will open their mouths against him.
The women also will deliver themselves over to chatterings in the church, to negligence, without being rebuked by anyone, whereas the holy Apostle Paul said: "The women must keep silence with the church, and have the head covered." The priests themselves will know negligence and distraction; they will not obey wholesome doctrines any more. If any of them sets himself to pronounce some words of instruction, he will do so with negligence and without taking pity on the people; and in so doing they will excite against them the anger of God, because they will have deviated from the canons of the Church and the teaching of our spiritual fathers. And God will then deliver them to the domination and hatred of the Arab emigrants, who will make them undergo great losses, will crush them with very heavy taxes which they will be unable to endure. They will be thus reduced to poverty. The Arabs will spoil also all the works on the land because of the hardness of their yoke. They will cause the widows and the orphans great injury; they will insult the old men, will pursue the virgins, will attack them in their houses because of the taxes. They will scoff at the Christian religion and will have no regard for the priests nor for the monks; they will eat, drink and play inside the churches; without fear they will sleep with the women in front of the altar. They will make the churches of God like stables for horses, attaching their horses and their beasts of burden to it. The powerful spirits which watch over the church will leave and go up from there to heaven when they see the ill deeds which this nation will do in the churches. The Arabs will destroy many churches by razing them to the ground; they will transport their wood, their bricks, their stones and will build with them palaces and luxury dwellings. They will pull off the crosses from the churches. They will transform a great number of them into mosques for their use, because of their pride and their hatred against the Christians. But the holy martyrs who will see these things being carried out in the places of their martyrdom, will bring to God their complaints against this nation while saying: "Lord, who are the honest judge, judge between us and this nation which carries out similar acts against our churches. Yes, God of kindness, enter into judgment with them and render to them according to their actions." At this point in time Jesus Christ, the Word of the Father and his only son will satisfy their hearts and will comfort them while saying: "Have patience, my dear and venerated ones, until their time is filled up. Their actions, of which you are witnesses, are because of the sins committed by my people, because they have rejected my commands and my ordinances in order to resemble this nation. This is why it will dominate them until its time is done." The holy martyrs will cease their supplications then and will have patience until the end of the hegira.
So know, my children, that this nation will commit a great number of iniquities and injustices on the land of Egypt: its domination will be greatly consolidated, its yoke will press like iron and its people will multiply like grasshoppers; it will seize several countries which will undergo its domination, and its injustice will increase greatly in Egypt, so much so that the land will be ruined by it; they will eat, drink, amuse themselves; they will dress like husbands; they will praise themselves much while saying: "No nation will ever dominate us." They will subject the ground to the land register and hit it with taxes; from this will result a huge cost to live on the land; a great number will perish of hunger and will remain on the ground without anyone to give them the last burial. It will also happen that those who will lie down for the night in their own houses, will each find, on awaking in the morning, three ushers at their door, each of them claiming some kind of tax. At this point in time a great number of important cities, regions, hamlets and ports will be destroyed, and this land of Egypt, rich in trees and in gardens, will become a salted land, wooded and sterile, because of the multiplicity of the taxes levied on the country by the Arabs; because they form an arrogant nation, little inclined to mercy. Their yoke will weigh like iron. They will molest their subjects in their greed for gold: they will make a census of the citizens, great and small, they will inscribe their names on the registers and will claim the capitation tax from them. The inhabitants will then sell their clothing and their effects to discharge the taxes, and their masters will lay hands on all their possessions for reasons which they will invent, and by which they will oppress them. The population transport themselves from one city and country to another, seeking peace without finding it. While they are at the mercy of all these difficulties, they will remain in the blindness of their heart, without understanding the correction of the Lord, without repenting and seeking the teaching of the Church. But on the contrary, they will add to the number of their sins, because the pride of the Christians will increase much in those times. They will push themselves up, some above the others, they will complain about each other; they will mock the words of the Holy Books, which are from the Spirit of God. Even the priests, the monks and the ministers of the holy altar will do similar things; they will praise themselves for it while saying: "We have more merit than our fathers." They will forget what is written, that pride in a man is an abomination before the Lord. When they fulfill these acts, even then they will be dominated by this nation, which will make them suffer much, following what is written: "If they scorn my laws, and do not observe my commandments, I will correct their fault with the stick and with the rod their idleness." So pray, my children, that what is thus written in the Psalms may not be fulfilled against us; let us beg the Lord that he will not abandon the his people in the end, but may He convert his anger into mercy and His indignation into benevolence, that in that time He will turn his regard towards His Christian people, that He will remember His bride the Church, that He will send his celestial assistance to them, that He will not deal with them according to their sins and that He will not treat them according to their iniquities. And now I recommend to you, my dear children, and I humbly beg you to recommend those who will come after you until the end of the ages, to take perfect care of their souls and not to let a Christian speak the Arabic language in these places, because this there is material for a great judgment: many indeed will dare to speak the language of the hegira at the altar. Woe, twice woe to these! as I heard myself from an old man dedicated to the service of God, clothed with the Spirit, accomplished in holiness. He answered me when I questioned him about the kings of the hegira: "Look, my son Samuel, and understand what I say to you: At the time when the Christians will dare to speak the language of the hegira near the altar, by which they will blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and the Holy Trinity, in that time woe to the Christians, woe and seven times woe!"
If I set myself, my children, to tell you the words of this holy old man, my discourse would be prolonged too much; but I won’t, because what we have said is sufficient. Understand, he who has a heart able to understand! He who keeps himself from the works of the Arabs and does not imitate them will be able to save his soul."
When the holy old man had explained these discourses, he turned to Anba Apollo and all the brothers, saying to us: "You have just heard with your ears something of the trial which will fall on future generations who will dare to modify the holy canons and the wholesome doctrines of our fathers: I have made known to you the trial that they will undergo. You also, my dear children, be on guard and be vigilant, because happiness and blessings are for he who is on guard and takes care. Now, my dear children, be on guard and take care, because happiness and the blessings are with those which act according to the apostolic regulations. At every moment let us apply ourselves, my dear children, to flee the suggestions of the demon and to not follow the inclinations of our hearts and our bodies, because the demon misleads the heart and throws into it its ideas and its inclinations. So let us flee our inclinations and Christ will fill us with the blessings of His eternal kingdom. — Take note and be on guard, my dear children, against negligence, because it is the root of all troubles and it sprouts a very bad crop. Be on guard, my children, and flee concupiscence, because it darkens the intelligence, prevents a man from understanding the commands of God, makes him foreign to the Holy Spirit and prevents him from waking up to the knowledge of God.
Be on guard, my dear children, against worrying too much, because it makes a man foreign to the blessings of Paradise; be on guard against impurity, because it irritates God and his angels; be guard against pride, because it is the source of all evils and it is this which moves a man away from God; be on guard against vanity and seeking after authority, because these two failings spoil all the effort of a man and make him lose it in the eyes of God. Be on guard, my dear children, and do not be pusillanimous in the practice of virtue, because he who is pusillanimous, who has a weak heart who does not have courage, who instead gives way to idleness, fills himself with every sin and all. If you are pusillanimous, if you strive with little courage, you will neglect your rule and you will become lazy when it is a matter of prayers and work...
But be like lions, reject every thought which opposes you and flee from any idleness of the body, because idleness grows like ryegrass. Abstain from adultery, because it has made victims and precipitated them very low and those which it threw into hell will never return. Be on guard, my dear children, do not show affection for a child nor a baby and do not enter where there is a woman, because the flint by contacting the lighter makes fire spout out and burns many fields. Be on guard, my dear children, and flee all the ill deeds which precipitate a man into hell and deliver him to suffering; but do good works which lead to the kingdom of heaven: these are: purity, humility, prayer, fasting, ascetic works, patience, endurance, forbearance, charity, benevolence, sweetness, fraternity, acceptance of sorrow, humiliation, humility. Throw far from you any idleness, any anger and any weakness, because it is only at the price of great humiliations that our fathers finished their race, suffering hunger, thirst, absolutely abstaining from drinking any kind of wine, because the disorders of concupiscence are born in the members of a man from the excessive use of wine: wine excites concupiscence while making it improper and it is that which damages the flesh of the body. And in general the excessive use of wine saddens the Holy Spirit and our fathers knew the number of griefs caused by wine since the beginning. So abstain. But in small quantity, it can be employed in the diseases of the body; because if the great ascetic Timothy was authorized to take a little wine because of his stomach and his many infirmities, so will I do then for those who are in the effervescence of youth and who are often prone to great sufferings. In truth, my children, it is wise to be reserved in all things and humiliation is a great profit; because he who humiliates his heart saves it, makes it come to the port of salvation and will be satisfied with the blessings of the Heavenly Jerusalem. And now, I exhort you with much care and authority to embrace and put into practice all the counsels that I gave you and all the rules which were transmitted to you. Recommend your children to prescribe to those who will come after them until the end of future centuries, that they take care, and that they follow jealously the works suitable for the monastic vocation, so that they can deserve the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven. Because there will come a time when many monks will be dissipated and amusing themselves, and because of them the world will blaspheme against the monastic state; they will throw far from them the canons and the regulations .... By those who are clothed with the Holy Spirit, in the name of the great Antony, in the name of Apa Macarius, Anba Pacomius, and Apa Shenute, they whose prayers make the land of Egypt thrive, they who established the canons and made them compulsory in the monastic state. As for us, we have continued their good works, and we have heard and preserved their holy teachings. As for you, my dear children, observe all that I have just told you as well as the fundamental monastic rule that your spiritual fathers established for you. Recommend to those who come after you until the century of future centuries to observe all that I have said to you today, according to the word of the holy Apostle Paul: "Conform yourself to me as I am conformed to Christ." So you, my dear children, you conform to me and follow my tracks, as I have followed the tracks of my holy fathers. If you observe what I have just said to you, then the Mother of God will intercede for you with her Son because you live in a land which belongs to her, as I have often noted myself. I have seen this with my own eyes in this church, I have heard it with my own ears, saying: "This here is my residence, and because I liked it, I remain there with my servant Samuel and all his children who will come after him and will attach themselves to his counsels."
So you must, my dear children, perfectly fulfill all the ordinances, such as the whole monastic constitution. If you do this, you will deserve to see the Virgin Mother of God, Our lady Mary, as I have seen myself, and heard her promise many privileges to those who will live in this desert, who will visit it and come there to seek blessing and forgiveness of sins.
Blessed are you, my children, since you have merited to live in the land of the most pure Virgin Our Lady Mary, to sing and bless God in this church which the Mother of God herself chose to serve as her residence. — Blessed is he who takes steps to come to this church with faith: I say to you, my dear children, that the Mother of God Our Lady Mary will ask her Son to approve his repentance and to remit all his sins. Blessed those who offer a sacrifice in this holy church; because I say to you that the Mother of God will intercede for him with God, so that He receives his sacrifice in the Heavenly Jerusalem. He who binds himself by a vow towards this sanctuary, if he hastens to discharge it, I say to you that Our Lady the Virgin Mary will accept his vow and will quickly listen favorably to his request. Also he who writes out this holy discourse, who places it in the church, he who reads it for the profit of the souls of those which listen to it, preserves it and conforms their conduct to what is written there, escaping from the way of error, and thus saving their souls, I say to you that Our Lady the Virgin Mary will ask her beloved Son to tear up the book of his sins and to register his name in the book of life. — So now, my dear children, if you observe well what I have recommended to you, the Virgin Mary will intercede for you to her beloved Son and He will put your enemies under your feet and you will tread on the head of the monster Satan and you will shatter all the power of the enemy. If you observe well what I have advised you, kings and the governors will offer presents to you, the archontes will render honors to you and the Berbers will be subjected to you. Apply yourself with all your power, my dear children, to do with courage and at their hours, the prayers which are prescribed to you for the day, and to be faithful at the meeting for night prayer. Guard yourselves from modifying the constitution which I have established for you, in order not to expose yourselves to a terrible judgment. Observe and observe again, my dear children, all that I have prescribed you in order to be children of the kingdom of heaven.
Guard yourselves from talking during the mass, because then it is a great fault. In spite of the chants carried out in the church, and the reading made for the salvation of souls, some talk together, but know that he who talks in the church will be rejected by God and his Angels; the mother of God will be irritated against him; his prayer will be improper, and he will be held to answer for his disobedience. — May nobody do things in the church if he is not one of those who are consecrated for it . Prescribe to your children to recommend to those who will come after them until the end of future ages, that nobody should speak inside the altar the language of the hegira; because he who acts thus will deserve the curse. — See, my dear children, that which I spoke to you; he who listens and observes will be saved."
When he had said these things, we wanted to speak to our holy father Anba Samuel, while the assistants were listening to him; our father the bishop, Anba Gregorius, burst into bitter tears, to the point of wetting his clothing with his tears, because of the events which were to take place. Then the Father Anba Samuel answered him: "This is only one small punishment by which God will punish the generation of those times. But if His vengeance on the sins which they will have committed came on them, who could remain before God? According to what is written: "If you are on guard against iniquity, Lord, Lord, who will be able to remain before you?" As it is also written: "It is good for me that you humiliated me, so that I can observe your commandments." and again: "the Lord punished me very severely, but He did not deliver me to death." So he who accepts the correction of the Lord with thanks and embarrassment then, who acknowledges his sins and does not return there a second time, he will be saved: he who accepts the correction of the Lord with thanks and patience, when it happens to him because of Christ, will be saved according to the word of the holy Gospel: "He who perseveres until the end will be saved." As for he who is impatient and doubts, woe to him forever. Indeed, many of the Christians in that time will disavow Christ because of the short time of trial which will pass away. Some will disavow Him because of the difficulties which they will have and because they will not find anybody to instruct them nor to comfort them in their sorrows: they will be deprived of the help of instruction, many others will fall because of the preponderance of fashionable things to which their spirits will stick, without anybody opposing them; these will fall. Others, merely because of the pleasure of eating and of drinking will fall; others, because of idleness of the body and because of the error of sin. — Then, their brothers and their parents will not weep for them and will not sadden themselves on their fate, but on the contrary, they will find in them an object for their vanity: they will eat and drink with them: and after that, they will envy them, will imitate them, and like them they will disavow Christ. Woe to those which are thus, because their residence in hell will be in a deep pit forever." Below: "My holy father," said Anba Gregorius to him, "do you believe that the event seems to be delayed? and until when will this trial last and the domination of this race over the land of Egypt?" — The holy Anba Samuel answered him: My father Anba Gregorius, nobody knows the disposition of dates nor their vicissitudes, except the Creator alone, but if the Christians repent and give up their ill deeds, fulfill the canons of the church and maintain them with vigilance and uprightness before God, then God will spare them these sorrows: but if they do not repent, these troubles will remain on the land until the end of the domination of the hegira, until the last of the kings of the hegira. The last of the kings of the hegira will bear the name of LASMARISU; his name in numbers gives six hundred and sixty six; let him understand who is able to understand. He will issue from two nations. During his reign the land will be troubled: his clothing will have the color of gold; he will have a fierce soul and will deliver a man to death for one dinar: in his time there will be no peace; in his face there will be not a trace of life; he will forget the fear of God, of which he will have not even a memory. He will not follow the ordinances of his father, because he will be an Ishmaelite, nor the profession of his mother, because she will be a Frank: he will love drunkenness, he will be bloodthirsty: under his rule men will undergo many sorrows: he will massacre a great number of them by surprise; men will have a great difficulty in those times, and will be awaiting the divine mercy in the middle of the many tribulations which will be frequently inflicted on them by the sons of Ishmael. After this trial, God will remember his so greatly humiliated people and will send against the Arabs the king of the Greeks, in great fury, on the coast, because the archangel Michael will appear to him in a vision and will say to him: "Arise and plunder in your turn, because the Lord has given you all the land," and so he will rule over all the land, it will also happen that the king of Abyssinia will achieve great devastations in the domain of their ancestors on the East coast. Those of the hegira will flee to the deserts where they were before; they will flee from the East before the king of the Abyssinians and the king of the Greeks will strike at the sons of Ishmael and will encircle them in the valley of al-Hefar, the place of their ancestors; he will make them perish from the West and will make them drown. Terror and great fear will seize the sons of Ishmael and all their followers. God will deliver them to the king of the Greeks, who will make them pass to the edge of the sword and will despoil them, because they oppressed the land. This is why, by a just decree, God will deliver them to the king of the Greeks who will make them undergo trials, in truth hundred times greater than those which they caused. They will be in poverty, misery, sorrow, in embarrassment, they will be subjected to the sword. The king of the Greeks will enter the land of Egypt, will set fire to the city of the Egyptians, named Babloun, because it is there that the sons of Ishmael carried out their abominations; he will destroy the land of al-Djonf and will subject the sons of Ishmael to the sorrow of slavery and all kinds of sufferings.
Those of them who survive will flee to the deserts of their fathers. — The king of Abyssinia will marry the daughter of the king of the Greeks and there will be such a pacification, such a peace and such a harmony on all the face of the land for forty years that nothing similar will ever have been seen on the land. There will be great joy for the Christians who will publicly open the doors of their churches, will build houses, will plant vines, will raise high palaces and will be delighted in the Lord their God. Woe to those who, in that time, will bear the name of the hegira."
After the forty years, here are the signs which concern the wicked king: The sources of water and the rivers will be transformed into blood, and will remain so for an hour, their water will be undrinkable. The second sign: babies will speak at the age of three months after their birth. The third sign: when you make the harvest of the fields, blood will spout out of the ground. At this point in time the wise will flee to the mountains; because after that, the race contained beyond the sea on the coast of the Arabs will appear, they are Hagog and Magog.
The earth will tremble before them and the men will flee into the mountains, into caves, into cemeteries and they will die of hunger and thirst. This race will soil the ground for five months; and after that the Lord will send his angel who will exterminate them in one hour. The king of the Greeks will dominate over the land one year and six months: he will make Jerusalem his residence. After that, God will put an end to his reign over the land and then the hideous one will appear, who is the false Messiah, doing many signs and wonders with vain ostentation. He will even go, if he can, so far as misleading the elect, according to what is written. Ten of the Greek kings will take service with him and will be with him in the same council, they will confirm his domination. Blessed is he who will fight against him and will overcome him, because he will reign eternally with Christ in the future age."
All these things, I heard them from the mouth of the holy Anba Samuel, I, Apollo his disciple, and I reported them to you, my brothers. As for what he said in secrecy to the bishop Anba Gregorius, I did not write it, because our Father Anba Samuel commanded me not to write it. This discourse and the present narratives, I did not want to write them for the brothers who know them to have heard them from the mouth of our Father Anba Samuel: but it is for future generations that I write them, according to the command of our Father Anba Samuel. So he who listens to them and puts them into practice will be saved; he on the contrary who disobeys will have the reward which he deserves, he will be treated according to his disobedience.
And now, my brothers, let us do what is appropriate for repentance, in order to find mercy and a good reception at the day of the equitable judgment, where every man will find a reward in harmony with his works, whether good or bad. And the most clement Lord will make us worthy to find grace, and remission for our sins, by the prayers of our holy father Anba Samuel and by the intercession of the Mother of God, ever-virgin! — Glory to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and in the ages of ages. — Amen. Amen.
End of the holy discourse in the peace of the Lord. Amen. Amen.
The Gospel of Nicodemus, also known as The Acts of Pilate
Memorials of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Done in the Time of Pontius Pilate.
Prologue.- I Ananias, of the propraetor's body-guard, being learned in the law, knowing our Lord Jesus Christ from the Holy Scriptures, coming to Him by faith, and counted worthy of the holy baptism, searching also the memorials written at that time of what was done in the case of our Lord Jesus Christ, which the Jews had laid up in the time of Pontius Pilate, found these memorials written in Hebrew, and by the favor of God have translated them into Greek for the information of all who call upon the name of our Master Jesus Christ, in the seventeenth year of the reign of our Lord Flavius Theodosius, and the sixth of Flavius Valentinianus, in the ninth indiction.
All ye, therefore, who read and transfer into other books, remember me, and pray for me, that God may be merciful to me, and pardon my sins which I have sinned against Him.
Peace be to those who read, and to those who hear and to their households. Amen.
In the fifteenth year of the government of Tiberius Caesar, emperor of the Romans, and Herod being king of Galilee, in the nineteenth year of his rule, on the eighth day before the Kalends of April, which is the twenty-fifth of March, in the consulship of Rufus and Rubellio, in the fourth year of the two hundred and second Olympiad, Joseph Caiaphas being high priest of the Jews.
The account that Nicodemus wrote in Hebrew, after the cross and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour God, and left to those that came after him, is as follows:
Having called a council, the high priests and scribes Annas and Caiaphas and Seines and Dathaes, and Gamaliel, Judas, Levi and Nephthalim, Alexander and Jairus, and the rest of the Jews, came to Pilate accusing Jesus about many things, saying: We know this man to be the son of Joseph the carpenter, born of Mary; and he says that he is the Son of God, and a king; moreover, he profanes the Sabbath, and wishes to do away with the law of our fathers. Pilate says: And what are the things which he does, to show that he wishes to do away with it? The Jews say: We have a law not to cure any one on the Sabbath; but this man has on the Sabbath cured the lame and the crooked, the withered and the blind and the paralytic, the dumb and the demoniac, by evil practices. Pilate says to them: What evil practices? They say to him: He is a magician, and by Beelzebul prince of the demons be casts out the demons, and all are subject to him. Pilate says to them: This is not casting out the demons by an unclean spirit, but by the god Aesculapius.
The Jews say to Pilate: we entreat your highness that he stand at thy tribunal, and be heard. And Pilate having called them, says: Tell me how I, being a procurator, can try a king? They say to him: We do not say that he is a king, but he himself says that he is. And Pilate having called the runner, says to him: Let Jesus be brought in with respect. And the runner going out, and recognizing Him, adored Him, and took his cloak into his hand, and spread it on the ground, and says to him: My lord, walk on this, and come in, for the procurator calls thee. And the Jews seeing what the runner had done, cried out against Pilate, saying: Why hast thou ordered him to come in by a runner, and not by a crier? for assuredly the runner, when he saw him, adored him, and spread his doublet on the ground, and made him walk like a king.
And Pilate having called the runner, says to him: Why hast thou done this, and spread out thy cloak upon the earth, and made Jesus walk upon it? The runner says to him: My lord procurator, when thou didst send me to Jerusalem to Alexander, I saw him sitting upon an ass, and the sons of the Hebrews held branches in their hands, and shouted; and other spread their clothes under him saying, Save now, thou who art in the highest: blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
The Jews cry out, and say, to the runner: The soils of the Hebrews shouted in Hebrew; whence then hast thou the Greek? The runner says to them: I asked one of the Jews, and said, What is it they are shouting in Hebrew? And he interpreted it for me. Pilate says to them: And what did they shout in Hebrew? The Jews say to him: Hosanna Membrome Baruchamma Adonai. Pilate says to them: And this hosanna, etc., how is it interpreted? The Jews say to him: Save now in the highest; blessed is he; that cometh in the name of the Lord. Pilate says to them: If you bear witness to the words spoken by the children, in what has the runner done wrong? And they were silent. And the procurator says to the runner: Go out, and bring him in what way thou wilt. And the runner going out, did in the same manner as before, and says to Jesus: My lord, come in; the procurator calleth thee.
And Jesus going in, and the standard-bearers holding their standards, the tops of the standards were bent down, and adored Jesus. And the Jews seeing the bearing of the standards, how they were bent down and adored Jesus, cried out vehemently against the standard-bearers. And Pilate says to the Jews: Do you not wonder how the tops of the standards were bent down, and adored Jesus? The Jews say to Pilate: We saw how the standard-bearers bent them down, and adored him. And the procurator having called the standard-bearers, says to them: Why have you done this? They say to Pilate: We are Greeks and temple-slaves, and how could we adore him? and assuredly, as we were holding them up, the tops bent down of their own accord, and adored him.
Pilate says to the rulers of the synagogue and the elders of the people: Do you choose for yourselves men strong and powerful, and let them hold up the standards, and let us see whether they will bend down with them. And the elders of the Jews picked out twelve men powerful and strong, and made them hold up the standards six by six; and they were placed in front of the procurator's tribunal. And Pilate says to the runner: Take him outside of the praetorium, and bring him in again in whatever way may please thee. And Jesus and the runner went out of the praetorium. And Pilate, summoning those who had formerly held up the standards, says to them: I have sworn by tile health of Caesar, that if the standards do not bend down when Jesus comes in, I will cut off your heads. And the procurator ordered Jesus to come in the second time. And the runner did in the same manner as before, and made many entreaties to Jesus to walk on his cloak. And He walked on it, and went ill. And as He went in, the standards were again bent down, and adored Jesus.
And Pilate seeing this, was afraid, and sought to go away from the tribunal; but when he was still thinking of going away, his wife sent to him, saying: Have nothing to do with this just man, for many things have I suffered on his account this night. And Pilate, summoning the Jews, says to them: You know that my wife is a worshiper of God, and prefers to adhere to the Jewish religion along with you. They say to him: Yes; we know. Pilate says to them: Behold, my wife has sent to me, saying, Have nothing to do with this just man, for many things have I suffered on account of him this night. And the Jews answering, say unto Pilate: Did we not tell thee that he was a sorcerer? behold, he has sent a dream to thy wife.
And Pilate, having summoned Jesus, says to Him: What do these witness against thee? Sayest thou nothing? And Jesus said: Unless they had the power, they would say nothing; for every one has the power of his own mouth to speak both good and evil. They shall see to it.
And the elders of the Jews answered, and said to Jesus: What shall we see? first, that thou wast born of fornication; secondly, that thy birth in Bethlehem was the cause of the murder of the infants; thirdly, that thy father Joseph and thy mother Mary fled into Egypt because they had no confidence in the people.
Some of the bystanders, pious men of the Jews, say: we deny that he was born of fornication; for we know that Joseph espoused Mary, and he was not born of fornication. Pilate says to the Jews who said that he was of fornication: This story of yours is not true, because they were betrothed, as also these fellow-countrymen of yours say. Annas and Caiaphas say to Pilate: All the multitude of us cry out that he was born of fornication, and are not believed; these are proselytes, and his disciples. And Pilate, calling Annas and Caiaphas, says to them: What are proselytes? They say to him: They are by birth children of the Greeks, and have now become Jews. And those that said that He was not born of fornication, namely, Lazarus, Asterius, Antonius, James, Atones, Zeras, Samuel, Isaac, Phinees, Crispus, Agrippas, and Judas say: We are not proselytes, but are children of the Jews, and speak of the truth; for we were present at the betrothal of Joseph and Mary.
And Pilate, calling these twelve men who said that He was not born of fornication, says to them: I adjure you by the health of Caesar, to tell me whether it be true that you say, that he was not born of fornication. They say to Pilate: We have a law against taking oaths, because it is a sin; but they will swear by the health of Caesar, that it is not as we have said, and we are liable to death. Pilate says to Annas and Caiaphas: Have you nothing to answer to this? Annas and Caiaphas say to Pilate: These twelve are believed when they say that he was not born of fornication; all the multitude of us cry out that he was born of fornication, and that he is a sorcerer, and he says that he is the Son of God and a king, and we are not believed.
And Pilate orders all the multitude to go out, except the twelve men who said that He was not born of fornication, and he ordered Jesus to be separated from them. And Pilate says to them: For what reason do they wish to put him to death? They say to him: They are angry because he cures on the Sabbath. Pilate says: For a good work do they wish to put him to death? They say to him: Yes.
And Pilate, filled with rage, went outside of the praetorium, and said to them: I take the sun to witness that I find no fault in this man. The Jews answered and said to the procurator: Unless this man were an evil-doer, we should not have delivered him to thee. And Pilate said, Do you take him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews said to Pilate: It is not lawful for us to put any one to death. Pilate said: Has God said that you are not to put to death, but that I am?
And Pilate went again into the praetorium, and spoke to Jesus privately, and said to Him: Art thou the king of the Jews? Jesus answered Pilate: Dost thou say this of thyself, or have others said it to thee of me? Pilate answered Jesus: Am I also a Jew? Thy nation and the chief priests have given thee up to me. What hast thou done? Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world; for if my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight in order that I should not be given up to the Jews: but now my kingdom is not from thence. Pilate said to Him: Art thou then a king? Jesus answered him: Thou sayest that I am a king. Because for this have I been born, and have I come, in order that every one who is of the truth might hear my voice. Pilate says to him: What is truth? Jesus says to him: Truth is from heaven. Pilate says: Is truth not upon earth? Jesus says to Pilate: Thou seest how those who speak the truth are judged by those that have the power upon earth.
And leaving Jesus within the praetorium, Pilate went out to the Jews, and said to them: I find no fault in him. The Jews say to him: He said, I can destroy this temple, and in three days build it. Pilate says: What temple? The Jews say: The one that Solomon built in forty-six years, and this man speaks of pulling it down and building it in three days. Pilate says to them: I am innocent of the blood of this just man. See you to it. The Jews say: His blood be upon us, and upon our children.
And Pilate having summoned the elders and priests and Levites, said to them privately: Do not act thus, because no charge that you bring against him is worthy of death; for your charge is about curing and Sabbath profanation. The elders and the priests and the Levites say: If any one speak evil against Caesar, is he worthy of death or not? Pilate says: He is worthy of death The Jews say to Pilate: If any one speak evil against Caesar, he is worthy of death; but this man has spoken evil against God.
And the procurator ordered the Jews to go outside of the praetorium; and summoning Jesus, he says to Him: What shall I do to thee? Jesus says to Pilate: As it has been given to thee. Pilate says: How given? Jesus says: Moses and the prophets have proclaimed beforehand of my death and resurrection. And the Jews noticing this, and hearing it, say to Pilate: What more wilt thou hear of this blasphemy? Pilate says to the Jews: If these words be blasphemous, do you take him for the blasphemy, and lead him away to your synagogue, and judge him according to your law. The Jews say to Pilate: Our law bears that a man who wrongs his fellow-men is worthy to receive forty save one; but he that blasphemeth God is to be stoned with stones.
Pilate says to them: Do you take him, and punish him in whatever way you please. The Jews say to Pilate: we wish that he be crucified. Pilate says: He is not deserving of crucifixion.
And the procurator, looking round upon the crowds of the Jews standing by, sees many of the Jews weeping, and says: All the multitude do not wish him to die. The elders of the Jews say: For this reason all the multitude of us have come, that he should die. Pilate says to the Jews: Why should he die? The Jews say: Because he called himself Son of God, and King.
And one Nicodemus, a Jew, stood before the procurator, and said: I beseech your honour, let me say a few words. Pilate says: Say on. Nicodemus says: I said to the elders and the priests and Levites, and to all the multitude of the Jews in the synagogue, What do you seek to do with this man? This man many miracles and strange things, which no one has done or will do. Let him go, and do not wish any evil against him. If the miracles which he does are of God, they will stand; but if man, they will come to nothing. For assuredly Moses, being sent by God into Egypt, did many miracles, which the Lord commanded him to do before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And there were there Jannes and Jambres, servants of Pharaoh, and they also did not a few of the miracles which Moses did; and the Egyptians took them to be gods-this Jannes and this Jambres. But, since the miracles which they did were not of God, both they and those who believed in them were destroyed. And now release this man, for he is not deserving of death.
The Jews say to Nicodemus: Thou hast become his disciple, and therefore thou defendest him. Nicodemus says to them: Perhaps, too, the procurator has become his disciple, because he defends him. Has the emperor not appointed him to this place of dignity? And the Jews were vehemently enraged, and gnashed their teeth against Nicodemus. Pilate says to I them: Why do you gnash your teeth against him when you hear the truth? The Jews say to Nicodemus: Mayst thou receive his truth and his portion. Nicodemus says: Amen, amen; may I receive it, as you have said.
One of the Jews, stepping up, asked leave of the procurator to say a word. The procurator says: If thou wishest to say any thing, say on And the Jew said: Thirty-eight years I lay in my bed in great agony. And when Jesus came, many who were possessed, and many lying ill of various diseases, were cured by him. And some young men, taking pity on me, carried me, bed and all, and took me to him. And when Jesus saw me, bed had compassion on me, and said to me: Take up thy couch and walk. And I took up my couch, and walked. The Jews say to Pilate: Ask him on what day it was that he was cured. He that had been cured says: On a Sabbath. The Jews say: Is not this the very thing that we said, that on a Sabbath he cures and casts out demons?
And another Jew stepped up and said: I was born blind; I heard sounds, but saw not a face. And as Jesus passed by, I cried out with a loud voice, Pity me, O son of David. And he pitied me, and put his hands upon my eyes, and I instantly received my sight. And another Jew stepped up and said: I was crooked, and he straightened me with a word. And another said: I was a leper, and he cured me with a word.
And a woman cried out from a distance, and said: I had an issue of blood, and I touched the hem of his garment, and the issue of blood which I had had for twelve years was stopped. The Jews say: we have a law, that a woman's evidence is not to be received.
And others, a multitude both of men and women, cried out, saying: This man is a prophet, and the demons are subject to him. Pilate says to them who said that the demons were subject to Him: Why, then, were not your teachers also subject to him? They say to Pilate: We do not know. And others said: He raised Lazarus from the tomb after he had been dead four days. And the procurator trembled, and said to all the multitude of the Jews: Why do you wish to pour out innocent blood?
And having summoned Nicodemus and the twelve men that said He was not born of fornication, he says to them: What shall I do, because there is an insurrection among the people? They say to him: We know not; let them see to it. Again Pilate, having summoned all the multitude of the Jews, says: You know that it is customary, at the feast of unleavened bread, to release one prisoner to you. I have one condemned prisoner in the prison, a murderer named Barabbas, and this man standing in your presence, Jesus, in whom I find no fault. Which of them do you wish me to release to you? And they cry out: Barabbas. Pilate says: What, then, shall we do to Jesus who is called Christ? The Jews say: Let him be crucified. And others said: Thou art no friend of Caesar's if thou release this man, because he called himself Son of God and king. You wish, then, this man to be king, and not Caesar?
And Pilate, in a rage, says to the Jews: Always has your nation been rebellious, and you always speak against your benefactors. The Jews say: What benefactors? He says to them: Your God led you out of the land of Egypt from bitter slavery, and brought you safe through the sea as through dry land, and in the desert fed you with manna, and gave you quails, and quenched your thirst with water from a rock, and gave you a law; and in all these things you provoked your God to anger, and sought a molten calf. And you exasperated your God, and He sought to slay you. And Moses prayed for you, and you were not put to death. And now you charge me with hating the emperor.
And rising up from the tribunal, he sought to go out. And the Jews cry out, and say: We know that Caesar is king, and not Jesus. For assuredly the magi brought gifts to him as to a king. And when Herod heard from the magi that a king had been born, he sought to slay him; and his father Joseph, knowing this, took him and his mother, and they fled into Egypt. And Herod hearing of it, destroyed the children of the Hebrews that had been born in Bethlehem.
And when Pilate heard these words, he was afraid; and ordering the crowd to keep silence, because they were crying out, he said to them: So this is he whom Herod sought? The Jews say: Yes, it is he. And, taking water, Pilate washed his hands in the face of the sun, saying: I am innocent of the blood of this just man; see you to it. Again the Jews cry out: His blood be upon us, and upon our children.
Then Pilate ordered the curtain of the tribunal where he was sitting to be drawn, and says to Jesus: Thy nation has charged thee with being a king. On this account I sentence thee, first to be scourged, according to the enactment of venerable kings, and then to be fastened on the cross in the garden where thou wast seized. And let Dysmas and Gestas, the two malefactors, be crucified with thee.
And Jesus went forth out of the praetorium, and the two malefactors with Him. And when they came to the place, they stripped Him of his clothes, and girded Him with a towel, and put a crown of thorns on Him round His head. And they crucified Him; and at the same time also they hung up the two malefactors along with Him. And Jesus said: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. And the soldiers parted His clothes among them; and the people stood looking at Him. And the chief priests, and the rulers with them, mocked Him, saying: He saved others; let him save himself. If he be the Son of God, let him come down from the cross. And the soldiers made sport of Him, coming near and offering Him vinegar mixed with gall, and said: Thou art the king of the Jews; save thyself.
And Pilate, after the sentence, ordered the charge made against Him to be inscribed as a superscription in Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, according to what the Jews had said: He is king of the Jews.
And one of the malefactors hanging up spoke to Him, saying: If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us. And Dysmas answering, reproved him, saying: Dost thou not fear God, because thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the fit punishment of our deeds; but this man has done no evil. And he said to Jesus: Remember me, Lord, in Thy kingdom. And Jesus said to him: Amen, amen; I say to thee, To-day shall thou be with me in Paradise.
And it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the earth until the ninth hour, the sun being darkened; and the curtain of the temple was split in the middle. And crying out with a loud voice, Jesus said: Father, Baddach Ephkid Ruel, which is, interpreted: Into Thy hands I commit my spirit. And having said this, He gave up the ghost. And the centurion, seeing what had happened, glorified God, and said: This was a just man. And all the crowds that were present at this spectacle, when they saw what had happened, beat their breasts and went away.
And the centurion reported what had happened to the procurator. And when the procurator and his wife heard it, they were exceedingly grieved, and neither ate nor drank that day. And Pilate sent for the Jews, and said to them: Have you seen what has happened? And they say: There has been an eclipse of the sun in the usual way.
And His acquaintances were standing at a distance, and the women who came with Him from Galilee, seeing these things. And a man named Joseph, a councillor from the city of Arimathaea, who also waited for the kingdom of God, went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And he took it down, and wrapped it in clean linen, and placed it in a tomb hewn out of the rock, in which no one had ever lain.
And the Jews, hearing that Joseph had begged the booty of Jesus, sought him and the twelve who said that Jesus was not born of fornication, and Nicodemus, and many others who had stepped up before Pilate and declared His good works. And of all these that were hid, Nicodemus alone was seen by them, because he was a ruler of the Jews. And Nicodemus says to them: How have you come into the synagogue? The Jews say to him: How hast thou come into the synagogue? for thou art a confederate of his, and his portion is with thee in the world to come. Nicodemus says: Amen, amen. And likewise Joseph also stepped out and said to them: Why are you angry against me because I begged the body of Jesus? Behold, I have put him in my new tomb, wrapping him in clean linen; and I have rolled a stone to the door of the tomb. And you have acted not well against the just man, because you have not repented of crucifying him, but also have pierced him with a spear. And the Jews seized Joseph, and ordered him to be secured until the first day of the week, and said to him: Know that the time does not allow us to do anything against thee, because the Sabbath is dawning; and know that thou shall not be deemed worthy of burial, but we shall give thy flesh to the birds of the air. Joseph says to them: These are the words of the arrogant Goliath, who reproached the living God and holy David. For God has said by the prophet, Vengeance is mine, and I will repay, saith the Lord. And now he that is uncircumcised in flesh, but circumcised in heart, has taken water, and washed his hands in the face of the sun, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just man; see ye to it. And you answered and said to Pilate, His blood be upon us, and upon our children. And now I am afraid lest the wrath of God come upon you, and upon your children, as you have said. And the Jews, hearing these words, were embittered in their souls, and seized Joseph, and locked him into a room where there was no window; and guards were stationed at the door, and they sealed the door where Joseph was locked in.
And on the Sabbath, the rulers of the synagogue, and the priests and the Levites, made a decree that all should be found in the synagogue on the first day of the week. And rising up early, all the multitude in the synagogue consulted by what death they should slay him. And when the Sanhedrin was sitting, they ordered him to be brought with much indignity. And having opened the door, they found him not. And all the people were surprised, and struck with dismay, because they found the seals unbroken. and because Caiaphas had the key. And they no longer dared to lay hands upon those who had spoken before Pilate in Jesus' behalf.
And while they were still sitting in the synagogue, and wondering about Joseph, there come some of the guard whom the Jews had begged of Pilate to guard the tomb of Jesus, that His disciples might not come and steal Him. And they reported to the rulers of the synagogue, and the priests and the Levites, what had happened: how there had been a great earthquake; and we saw an angel coming down from heaven, and he rolled away the stone from the mouth of the tomb, and sat upon it; and he shone like snow, and like lightning. And we were very much afraid, and lay like dead men; and we heard the voice of the angel saying to the women who remained beside the tomb, Be not afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here: He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay: and go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and is in Galilee.
The Jews say: To what women did he speak? The men of the guard say: We do not know who they were. The Jews say: At what time was this? The men of the guard say: At midnight. The Jews say: And wherefore did you not lay hold of them? The men of the guard say: We were like dead men from fear, not expecting to see the light of day, and how could we lay hold of them? The Jews say: As the Lord liveth, we do not believe you. The men of the guard say to the Jews: You have seen so great miracles in the case of this man, and have not believed; and how can you believe us? And assuredly you have done well to swear that the Lord liveth, for indeed He does live. Again the men of the guard say: We have heard that you have locked up the man that begged the body of Jesus, and put a seal on the door; and that you have opened it, and not found him. Do you then give us the man whom you were guarding, and we shall give you Jesus. The Jews say: Joseph has gone away to his own city. The men of the guard say to the Jews: And Jesus has risen, as we heard from the angel, and is in Galilee.
And when the Jews heard these words, they were very much afraid, and said: We must take care lest this story he heard, and all incline to Jesus. And the Jews called a council, and paid down a considerable sum of money, and gave it to the soldiers, saying: Say, while we slept, his disciples came by night and stole him; and if this come to the ears of the procurator, we shall persuade him, and keep you out of trouble. And they took it, and said as the had been instructed.
And Phinees a priest, and Adas a teacher, and Haggai a Levite, came down from Galilee to Jerusalem, and said to the rulers of the synagogue, and the priests and the Levites: We saw Jesus and his disciples sitting on the mountain called Mamilch; and he said to his disciples, Go into all the world, and preach to every creature: he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be condemned. And these signs shall attend those who have believed: in my name they shall cast out demons, speak new tongues, take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall by no means hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall be well. And while Jesus was speaking to his disciples, we saw him taken up to heaven.
The elders and the priests and Levites say: Give glory to the God of Israel, and confess to Him whether you have heard and seen those things of which you have given us an account. And those who had given the account said: As the Lord liveth, the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we heard these things, and saw him taken up into heaven. The ciders and the priests and the Levites say to them: Have you come to give us this announcement, or to offer prayer to God? And they say: To offer prayer to God. The elders and the chief priests and the Levites say to them: If you have come to offer prayer to God, why then have you told these idle tales in the presence of all the people? Says Phinees the priest, and Atlas the teacher, and Haggai the Levite to the rulers of the synagogues. and the priests and the Levites: If what we have said and seen be sinful, behold, we are before you; do to us as seems good in your eyes. And they took the law, and made them swear upon it, not to give any more an account of these matters to any one. And they gave them to cat and drink, and sent them out of the city, having given them also money, and three men with them; and they sent them away to Galilee.And these men having gone into Galilee, the chief priests, and the rulers of the synagogue, and the elders, came together into the synagogue, and locked the door, and lamented with a great lamentation, saying: Is this a miracle that has happened in Israel? And Annas and Caiaphas said: Why are you so much moved? Why do you weep? Do you not know that his disciples have given a sum of gold to the guards of the tomb, and have instructed them to say that an angel came down and rolled away the stone from the door of the tomb? And the priests and the elders sand: Be it that his disciples have stolen his body; how is it that the life has come into his body, and that he is going, about in Galilee? And they being unable to give an answer to these things, said, after great hesitation: It is not lawful for us to believe the uncircumcised.
And Nicodemus stood up, and stood before the Sanhedrin, saying: You say well; you are not ignorant, you people of the Lord, of these men that come down from Galilee, that they fear God, and are men of substance, haters of covetousness, men of peace; and they have declared with an oath. We saw Jesus upon the mountain Mamilch with his disciples, and he taught what we heard from him, and we saw him taken up into heaven. And no one asked them in what form he went up. For assuredly, as the book of the Holy Scriptures taught us, Helias also was taken up into heaven, and Elissaeus cried out with a loud voice, and Helias threw his sheepskin upon Elissaeus, and Elissaeus threw his sheepskin upon the Jordan, and crossed, and came into Jericho. And the children of the prophets met him, and said, O Elissaeus, where is thy master Helias? And he said, He has been taken up into heaven. And they said to Elissaeus, Has not a spirit seized him, arid thrown him upon one of the mountains? But let us take our servants with us, and seek him. And they persuaded Elissaeus, and he went away with them. And they sought him three days, and did not find him; and they knew he had been taken up. And now listen to me, and let us send into every district of Israel, and see lest perchance Christ has been taken up by a spirit, and thrown upon one of the mountains? And this proposal pleased all. And they sent into every district of Israel, and sought Jesus, and did not find Him; but they found Joseph in Arimathaea, and no one dared to lay hands on him.
And they reported to the elders, and the priests, and the Levites: We have gone round to every district of Israel, and have not found Jesus; but Joseph we have found in Arimathaea. And hearing about Joseph, they were glad, and gave glory to the God of Israel. And the rulers of the synagogue, and the priests and the Levites, having held a council as to the manner in which they should meet with Joseph, took a piece of paper, and wrote to Joseph as follows:
Peace to thee! We know that we have sinned against God, and against thee; and we have prayed to the God of Israel, that thou shouldst deign to come to thy fathers, and to thy children, because we have all been grieved. For having opened the door, we did not find thee. And we know that we have counseled evil counsel against thee; but the Lord has defended thee, and the Lord Himself has scattered to the winds our counsel against thee, O honorable father Joseph.
And they chose from all Israel seven men, friends of Joseph, whom also Joseph himself was acquainted with; and the rulers of the synagogue, and the priests and the Levites, say to them: Take notice: if, after receiving our letter, he read it, know that he will come with you to us; but if he do not read it, know that he is ill-disposed towards us. And having saluted him in peace, return to us. And having blessed the men, they dismissed them. And the men came to Joseph, and did reverence to him, and said to him: Peace to thee! And he said: Peace to you, and to all the people of Israel! And they gave him the roll of the letter. And Joseph having received it, read the letter and rolled it up, and blessed God, and said: Blessed be the Lord God, who has delivered Israel, that they should not shed innocent blood; and blessed be the Lord, who sent out His angel, and covered me under his wings. And he set a table for them; and they ate and drank, and slept there. And they rose up early, and prayed. And Joseph saddled his ass, and set out with the men; and they came to the holy city Jerusalem. And all the people met Joseph, and cried out: Peace to thee in thy coming in! And he said to all the people: Peace to you! and he kissed them. And the people prayed with Joseph, and they were astonished at the sight of him. And Nicodemus received him into his house, and made a great feast, and called Annas and Caiaphas, and the elders, and the priests, and the Levites to his house. And they rejoiced, eating and drinking with Joseph; and after singing hymns, each proceeded to his own house. But Joseph remained in the house of Nicodemus.
And on the following day, which was the preparation, the rulers of the synagogue and the priests and the Levites went early to the house of Nicodemus; and Nicodemus met them, and said: Peace to you! And they said: Peace to thee, and to Joseph, and to all thy house, and to all the house of Joseph! And he brought them into his house. And all the Sanhedrin sat down, and Joseph sat down between Annas and Caiaphas: and no one dared to say a word to him. And Joseph said: Why have you called me? And they signalled to Nicodemus to speak to Joseph. And Nicodemus, opening his mouth, said to Joseph: Father, thou knowest that the honourable teachers, and the priests and the Levites, see to learn a word from thee. And Joseph said: Ask. And Annas and Caiaphas having taken the law, made Joseph swear, saying: Give glory to the God of Israel, and give Him confession; for Achar being made to swear by the prophet Jesus, did not forsware himself, but declared unto him all, and did not hide a word from him. Do thou also accordingly not hide from us to the extent of a word. And Joseph said: I shall not hide from you one word. And they said to him: With grief were we grieved because thou didst beg the body of Jesus, and wrap it in clean linen, and lay it in a tomb. And on account of this we secured thee in a room where there was no windows: and we put locks and seals upon the doors and guards kept watching where thou wast locked in And on the first day of the week we opened, and found thee not, and were grieved exceedingly; and astonishment fell upon all the people of the Lord until yesterday. And now relate to us what has happened to thee.
And Joseph said: On the preparation, about the tenth hour, you locked me up, and I remained all the Sabbath. And at midnight, as I was standing and praying, the room where you locked me in was hung up by the four corners, and I saw a light like lightning into my eyes. And I was afraid, and fell to the ground. And some one took me by the hand, and removed me from the place where I had fallen; and moisture of water was poured from my head even to my feet, and a smell of perfumes came about my nostrils. And he wiped my face, and kissed me, and said to me, Fear not, Joseph; open thine eyes, and see who it is that speaks to thee. And looking up, I saw Jesus. And I trembled and thought it was a phantom; and I said the commandments, and he said them with me. Even so you are not ignorant that a phantom, if it meet anybody, and hear the commandments, takes to flight. And seeing that he said them with the, I said to him, Rabbi Helias. And he said to me, I am not Helias. And I said to him, Who art thou, my lord? And he said to me, I am Jesus, whose body thou didst beg from Pilate; and thou didst clothe me with clean, linen. and didst put a napkin on my face, and didst lay me in thy new tomb, and didst roll a great stone to the door of the tomb. And I said to him that was speaking to me, Show me the place where I laid thee. And he carried me away, and showed me the place where I laid him; and the linen cloth was lying in it, and the napkin for his face. And I knew that it was Jesus. And he took me by the hand, and placed me, though the doors were locked, in the middle of my house, and led me away to my bed, and said to me, Peace to thee! And he kissed me, and said to me, For forty days go not forth out of thy house; for, behold, I go to my brethren into Galilee.
And the rulers of the synagogue, and the priests and the Levites, when they heard these words from Joseph, became as dead, and fell to the ground, and fasted until the ninth hour. And Nicodemus, along with Joseph, exhorted Annas and Caiaphas, the priests and the Levites, saying: Rise up and stand upon your feet, and taste bread, and strengthen your souls, because to-morrow is the Sabbath of the Lord. And they rose up, and prayed to God, and ate and drank, and departed every man to his own house.
And on the Sabbath our teachers and the priests and Levites sat questioning each other, and saying: What is this wrath that has come upon us? for we know his father and mother. Levi, a teacher, says: I know that his parents fear God, and do not withdraw themselves from the prayers, and give the tithes thrice a year. And when Jesus was born, his parents brought him to this place, and gave sacrifices and burnt-offerings to God. And when the great teacher Symeon took him into his arms, he said, Now Thou sendest away Thy servant, Lord, according to Thy word, in peace; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all the peoples: a light for the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel. And Symeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother, I give thee good news about this child. And Mary said, It is well, my lord. And Symeon said to her, It is well; behold, he lies for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign spoken against; and of thee thyself a sword shall go through the soul, in order that the reasoning of many hearts may be revealed.
They say to the teacher Levi: How knowest thou these things? Levi says to them: Do you not know that from him I learned the law? The Sanhedrin say to him: We wish to see thy father. And they sent for his father. And they asked him; and he said to them: Why have you not believed my son? The blessed and just Symeon himself taught him the law. The Sanhedrin says to Rabbi Levi: Is the word that you have said true? And he said: It is true. And the rulers of the synagogue, and the priests and the Levites, said to themselves: Come, let us send into Galilee to the three men that came and told about his teaching and his taking up, and let them tell us how they saw him taken up. And this saying pleased all. And they sent away the three men who had already gone away into Galilee with them; and they say to them: Say to Rabbi Adas, and Rabbi Phinees, and Rabbi Haggai: Peace to you, and all who are with you! A great inquiry having taken place in tile Sanhedrin, we have been sent to you to call you to this holy place, Jerusalem.
And the men set out into Galilee, and found them sitting and considering the law; and they saluted them in peace. And the men who were in Galilee said to those who had come to them: Peace upon all Israel! And they said: Peace to you! And they again said to them: Why have you come? And those who had been sent said: The Sanhedrin call you to the holy city Jerusalem. And when the men heard that they were sought by the Sanhedrin, they prayed to God, and reclined with the men, and ate and drank, and rose up, and set out in peace to Jerusalem.
And on the following day the Sanhedrin sat in the synagogue, and asked them, saying: Did you really see Jesus sitting on the mountain Mamilch teaching his eleven disciples, and did you see him taken up? And the men answered them, and said: As we saw him taken up, so also we said.
Annas says: Take them away from one another, and let us see whether their account agrees. And they took them away from one another. And first they call Adas, and say to him: How didst thou see Jesus taken up? Adas says: While he was yet sitting on the mountain Mamilch, and teaching his disciples, we saw a cloud overshadowing both him and his disciples. And the cloud took him up into heaven, and his disciples lay upon their face upon the earth. And they call Phinees the priest, and ask him also, saying: How didst thou see Jesus taken up? And he spoke in like manner. And they again asked Haggai, and he spoke in like manner. And the Sanhedrin said: The law of Moses holds: At the mouth of two or three every word shall be established. Buthem, a teacher, says: It is written in the law, And Enoch walked with God, and is not, because God took him. Jairus, a readier, said: And the death of holy Moses we have heard of, and have not seen it; for it is written in the law of the Lord, And Moses died from the mouth of the Lord, and no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day. And Rabbi Levi said: Why did Rabbi Symeon say, when he saw Jesus, "Behold, he lies for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign spoken against? " And Rabbi Isaac said: It is written in the law, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall go before thee to keep thee in every good way, because my name has been called upon him.
Then Annas and Caiaphas said: Rightly have you said what is written in the law of Moses, that no one saw the death of Enoch, and no one has named the death of Moses; hut Jesus was tried before Pilate, and we saw him receiving blows and spittings on his face, and the soldiers put about him a crown of thorns, and he was scourged, and received sentence from Pilate, and was crucified upon the Cranium, and two robbers with him; and they gave him to drink vinegar with gall, and Longinus the soldier pierced his side with a spear; and Joseph our honorable father begged his body, and, as he says, he is risen; and as the three teachers say, We saw him taken up into heaven; and Rabbi Levi has given evidence of what was said by Rabbi Symeon, and that he said, Behold, he lies for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign spoken against. And all the teachers said to all the people of the Lord: If this was from the Lord, and is wonderful in your eyes, knowing you shall know, O house of Jacob, that it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth upon a tree. And another Scripture teaches: The gods which have not made the heaven and the earth shall be destroyed. And the priests and the Levites said to each other: If his memorial be until the year that is called Jobel, know that it shall it endure for ever, and he hath raised for himself a new people. Then the rulers of the synagogue, and the priests and the Levites, announced to all Israel, saying: Cursed is that man who shall worship the work of man's hand, and cursed is the man who shall worship the creatures more than the Creator. And all the people said, Amen, amen.
And all the people praised the Lord, and said: Blessed is the Lord, who hath given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He hath spoken; there hath not fallen one word of every good word of His that He spoke to Moses His servant. May the Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers: let Him not destroy us. And let Him not destroy us, that we may incline our hearts to Him, that we may walk in all His ways, that we may keep His commandments and His judgments which He commanded to our fathers. And the Lord shall be for a king over all the earth in that day; and there shall he one Lord, and His name one. The Lord is our king: He shall save us. There is none like Thee, O Lord. Great art Thou, O Lord, and great is Thy name. By Thy power heal us. O Lord, and we shall be healed: save us, O Lord, and we shall be saved; because we are Thy lot and heritage. And the Lord will not leave His people, for His great name's sake; for the Lord has begun to make us into His people.
And all, having sung praises, went away each man to his own house, glorifying God; for His is the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
LETTER OF PILATES WIFE, CLAUDIA PROCULA, TO HER FRIEND, FULVIA ROMELIA
On the last events in Jesus Christ’s life
The original of this letter it to be found among old manuscripts in one of the vast libraries in Italy. From the original a copy was prepared and sent, about the year 1643, to Bishop Dionysius of Constantinople. The following are its contents:
“From Claudia Procula, greetings to Fulvia Rornelia.
“You, my faithful friend, are asking and begging me to describe the events which have happened since the day of our separation. The news of some of them may have reached you, but the secret way in which they were wrapped may arouse in you a feeling of anxiety and the desire to know how I am. I shall pay attention to your tender request and try to remember the links of the long chain of my 1ifes scattered memories. And should you see in my letter such circumstances as might startle your mind, remember that the forces of creation constitute an impenetrable and all-covering veil for our helpless and mortal understanding, and that, overwhelming the mortal being, these forces change the fate of his life.
“I shall not describe the first days of my life, which so quickly passed by in the stillness of Nabron under the roof of my parents and under their protection.
“You know that, in the sixteenth year of my maiden life, I was united in marriage with the Roman Pilate, a descendant of a renowned family, and who at that time held a position as a governor in Italy. Immediately after our departure from the temple I had to go with Pontius to the province to which he had been appointed. Without happiness, but also without apprehension I went away with my husband who on the score of age could have been my father. I was very homesick for you—for the quiet residence of my parents, the happy haven of Nabron, the beautiful statues the soft groves of my birth- place. I remember-you with tears in my eyes.
“The first years of my family life went by calmly and peacefully, Heaven blessed me with a son, and he was dearer to me than the light of day. I shared with him my leisure hours, my sorrows and my joys. My son was five years old when Pilate, by the Emperors grace, was appointed procurator of Judea. By such roads as are not easily described, we journeyed with our personnel, engaged as servants. After some time I came to love this fertile and rich province which my husband had to rule in the name of Rome, the master of the nations.
“In Jerusalem I was surrounded with tokens of respect and hand clasping : however, I lived in greater loneliness because of the pride and contempt with which the Hebrews met us. Foreigners and aliens, as they called us. They said that we profaned their holy land which God had promised them as their own. I passed the time with my son in silent forests where deer fed on olive branches; where palms with their delicate fronds, more beautiful than in Delos, rose |over blossoming orange-trees, and under fruit-bearing nards. Here in the cool shade I used to sew covers for the altars of the gods, or to read verses of Virgil which are so agreeable to hear and so appeasing to the heart. My husband spent his few spare moments with me. He was in a dark mood and grieved, for he wanted to rule with a strong hand, although in his task of keeping these people in submission, he was weak. These people had been for so long independent and by nature were inclined to rebellion. They were divided into a thousand boisterous sects, but in one point they were all united: namely, in their furious hatred against the Romans.
“So far one family of the better society in Jerusalem showed some benevolence towards me. This family belonged to the director of the Synagogue, Jairus. I found great pleasure in visiting his wife, Salome, who proved to be a model of kindness, and she also showed it in relation to her daughter, Semida, of 12 years of age. The latter was lovely and beautiful, like the dawn over Sharon, and had fair curls.
“Sometimes they spoke to me of the God of their ancestors, and read parts of their holy books.
“What shall I tell you, Fulvia? I remember certain hymns, works of Solomon, praising the God of Jacob, this only God, who is eternal and impenetrable. whose words and sentences we notice on our altars, calling them divine. I perceived that He was omnipotent and merciful, and combines in Himself kindness, purity and greatness. I remember Semida’s voice sounding like the strings of the harp when she sang the holy hymn to the wise and great king of Israel, and often in my loneliness and beside the cradle of my son I tried to play to Him on my instrument. Upon my knees I called Him many times; against my will I pleaded with this God in the humility and tranquillity of my soul and heart, and Him to Whom I committed my destiny and my welfare as a slave submits to his master, and oh, wonder! I immediately arose consoled and heartened.
“After some time Semida fell ill. One morning, when I awoke, I was told that she had died, without great suffering, in the arms of her mother.
“Deeply upset by this news, I took my child to hurry to them to bewail her together with the mourners and her mother Salome. When I came to their house, my servants could only with great difficulty force a way for me through the throng, for many mourners and a large crowd had gathered before my friends home. At that moment I saw the crowd break, offering passage to a group of men who came nearer to the house, and at whom the people looked, with great interest and reverence. In the foremost row I recognized Semidas father; but instead of the depression I expected him to wear on his face, he showed a definite expression of hope, which I could not understand. With him walked three more men dressed in coarse clothes showing the trace of poverty and giving them the appearance of simple and uneducated people, but behind them walked a man, similarly clad, and in the prime of His youth.
“I raised my eyes to contemplate Him, but, as before the radiance of the sun, I had to turn them away immediately and to lower my eyes to the ground. It seemed His forehead was radiant, and His hair fell in locks on His shoulders in the manner of the Nazarenes.
“I find it impossible to explain to you how I felt when I viewed Him. It was the highest agitation which I have ever experienced, for every feature in His face presented an unequaled beauty, but in this moment He inspired a certain secret fear by the glance of His eyes which, it seemed, might turn us into dust. I followed Him, without His knowing.
“The door opened and I could see Semida, lying on a bed adorned with candlesticks and perfumes. She was still more beautiful in the heavenly restfulness which lay upon her but her forehead was of a pale pinkish color like the rose which had been placed on her. The finger of death had left its traces round her eyes and her concealed lips. Salome stood by her side, benumbed and almost without any feeling. It seemed that she had not even seen me. .
“Semidas father threw himself at the feet of the unknown man I have just described, who went nearer to the bed of the dead and showed Him his daughter, exclaiming: O my Lord, my daughter is in the arms of death, but if it is your will, she will arise.
“When I heard these words I shiver-ed. My heart ceased to beat for an unknown reason. He took Semidas hand, and turning His powerful look on her, He said, Maid, arise!
“Semida rose from her bed, as if supported by an invisible hand. Her eyes opened, a tender expression of life returned again to her lips and, stretching out her hands, she called, ‘Mother!’ At this call Salome awoke. Mother and daughter embraced each other, almost broken with emotion. Jairus fell at the feet of Him whom he had called Lord. Kissing the seam of His garment, he asked, What shall I do to receive eternal life?
“Love God, and men.
“After these words He disappeared like a mere shadow from the world of light. I was on my knees without knowing what I did. Then I rose as from a dream, and went home, leaving a happy family in their joy ; in such a joy as it is impossible to describe.
“At dinner I told Pontius what I had seen and heard. He lowered his head and said: You saw Jesus of Nazareth, the object of the hatred and contempt of the Pharisees and Sadducees, of the Herodian party, and of the dangerous and proud Levites from the temple. This hatred is increasing every day, and their only thought is how to bring Him to death. But the Nazarenes words are the words of a wise man and His miracles are really of God.
“But why do they hate Him so strongly? I asked.
“Because He shows up their morals and hypocrisy. I once heard Him saying to the Pharisees: “Whited sepulchers, breed of vipers, you impose heavy burdens upon your brethren, but you do not lift a finger for them. You pay the tithe with mint and cinnamon, but you are not interested in abiding by the laws, in faithful righteousness and mercy.” The meaning of these words is deep and true. He offended these proud and pompous people, and the outlook for the Nazarenes future is very dark.
“But you will protect Him, isn’t that so? I exclaimed, highly indignant.
“My power is too weak to oppose these rebellious and wretched people, On the other hand I would be deeply concerned should I become forced to spill the blood of this wise man.
“After these words Pontius rose and went into another room, deep in thoughts. I, however, remained in indescribable sorrow and sadness.
“The day of the Passover approached. On this great and, for the Hebrews, so very important a Holy Day, a great many people from all parts of Judea gathered in Jerusalem to solemnly carry the victims of the feast to the temple. The procession generally took place on Thursday. Before this Holy Day Pontius told me that the Nazarenes future was extremely insecure. A conspiracy was brewing over His head, and it might be that on this evening He would be delivered into the hands of the High Priest. I trembled when I heard these words, and I asked my husband : You will protect Him, won’t you?
“Can I? replied Pontius, with a mournful expression in his face. The late, of which Plato spoke, and which he predicted would befall righteous men, will, it seems, reach also to Jesus; He will be persecuted, contemptuously treated and delivered to a cruel death.’
“The time came to retire; but when I laid my head on the pillow to find sleep, a mysterious force suddenly took possession of my mind. I saw Jesus, appearing as she had described their God. His face shone in majesty like the sun. He flew on cherub wings and a fiery flame executed His orders, and He stopped on a cloud. It appeared that He was ready to judge the people assembled before Him. With one gesture He separated the righteous from the wicked. The first. the righteous, were raised by Him to the great eternity of divine salvation, but the second the wicked were thrown in a fiery sea; in comparison with which the fires of Erebus and Phlegethon are nothing. When this heavenly judgment took place and attracted the attention of the people, He showed them His wounds with which His body was covered, and said with a terrible voice: Give me back my blood which I spilt for you! Then those unhappy men asked the rocks and the mountains of the earth to swallow and to cover them. In vain had they formerly felt secure from suffering, and in vain they protected themselves with the eternal and insurmountable illusion. They perished. What a dream, or better, what a revelation!
“When the dawn came and lighted the roofs of the Temple, I arose with a heart full of fear from what I had seen, and to calm myself, sat near the window. But it seemed to me that in the center of the town sounds of shouting became audible, imprecations grew louder and louder, and this noise reached my ear like the roar of the waves of the sea. I was listening to this unintermitted uproar and my heart began to beat terribly and cold sweat streamed down my forehead. Soon the noise came nearer and nearer, and the stairs which led up to the law courts were beset with an innumerable crowd.
“In deep apprehension of what might unexpectedly happen, I took my son by the hand, put a thin coat on him, and ran to my husband. When we reached the inner door leading to the court hall, I heard a noise of louder voices; I had no courage to step in, but peeped through the purple curtains.
“What a spectacle, Fulvia! Pontius sat on his ivory throne, in all the majesty with which Rome adorns her representatives; and apparently showed no fear, as if it was his intention to appear thus, and to bear an intrepid expression on his face; but I could quickly understand and catch his concern.
“With bound hands, and clothes torn by blows He had suffered, and with a blood-covered forehead, Jesus of Nazareth, calm and undisturbed, stood before him. No signs of bitterness or fear were noticeable on His face. He was quiet like an innocent, and peaceful like a lamb. His peacefulness struck me with terror, for in my ears still sounded the words I had heard in my dream: Give me back My blood which I have spilt for you. Around Him stood the enraged and excited crowd which had brought Him before the tribunal. The crowds of people were joined by guards and servants, Levites and Pharisees. whose eyes flamed with anger. The latter were distinguished by parchment rolls containing various texts of the laws, which they had bound to their heads. All these people burned from anger and envy, and it appeared to me that in their faces an infernal fire was shining. and that by the spirit Nina these voices had been mixed with the howling of hunted animals.
“At last, after a sign given by my husband, silence was restored. What is your request? he asked.
“We demand the death of this man, Jesus of Nazareth, one of the priests answered in the name of all the people. Herod sends Him to you that you may pass judgment.
“Of what do you accuse Him? Of what does the gravity of His offense consist? Thereafter the echo of their fury was again to be heard.
“He predicted the destruction of the Temple; He exalts Himself to the rank of the King of the Jews, to Christ, to The Son of God; He offended the Priests of Abraham’s seed, shouted the Levites.
“He shall be crucified, cried the angry crowd. The echo of these vociferations is still in my ears, and the figure of the innocent victim will always stay before my eyes.
“Then Pilate turned to Jesus and with altered voice asked Him, Are you King of the Jews? “You say so, answered Jesus. “Are you Christ, The Son of God? Pilate asked again. But Jesus did not answer.
“The shouting began again, even louder, and their voices were like the howling of wild, hungry animals. Deliver Him to us, so that He may die on the cross! : Pontius again ordered them to be silent, and said to them : I find no guilt in this man and I acquit Him.
“Deliver Him to us I Crucify Him l sounded the furious voices of the people. I could stand this ;houting no longer, so beckoned one of my servants and sent him to my husband to ask him to come to me for a few moments.
“Pontius at once left the court hall and came to me. I threw myself at his feet and said:
“For the sake of all that is dear to you, and for this chi1ds sake, the token of our holy matrimonial bond, do not make yourself guilty by spilling the blood of this righteous man who is so like the immortal God. I saw Him in my dream last night. He was surrounded with divine majesty. He judged mankind, who trembled before Him, and among those unhappy ones who had been thrown into the ﬁre of hell I noticed the faces of these who exacted His death. Take care and do not raise your profane hand against Him. Oh, believe me, that a single drop of this blood may be your damnation for all eternity.
“All that is happening now frightens me also, answered Pontius, but what can I do ? The number of the Roman guards is extremely small and their protecting force very weak for these demoniac people. Mishap is after us; for they do not seek right, but revenge from the courts. Be quiet, Claudia! Go with the child in the garden! Your eyes are not made to watch such a frightful spectacle.
“After these words he went out and left me alone, and I shed bitter tears in my hopelessness and pity. Jesus was still the object of all the banter and beating in the courts on the part of the crowd and of rough soldiers; their passions were even more inflamed in view of His unlimited patience.
“In horror Pontius returned to his throne. When the throng saw him again, they immediately started to shout their brutal demand: Put Him to death, to death!’
“Following an old custom, the governor used to set free on Easter-day a criminal sentenced to death, thus showing an example of mercy and grace. To decide this divine procedure he always referred to the people. Pontius saw in this custom a way to liberate Jesus and, in a loud voice, asked the crowd; Whom do you want me to release on this holiday, Barabbas or Jesus, called Christ ?
“Set Barabbas free! shouted the crowd.
“In fact, Barabbas was a robber and murderer, notorious in all the surrounding districts for the crimes he had committed.
“Pontius asked again: And what shall I do with Jesus of Nazareth ?
“Crucify Him! they cried.
“And what evil did he do?
“With ever-increasing fury they howled: He shall be crucified.
“In a desperate mood Pilate bowed his head. The insolence of the crowd grew with every moment. Pilate was afraid that his authority and the Roman power, which he so strongly defended, might, be compromised by this menace. In Jerusalem he had no defense force other than his bodyguard and in addition a small number of local troops who had taken the oath of allegiance to the Roman eagle. The uproar increased every minute. I have never heard such a noise in the Circus, nor have the rows in the Forum ever given me such an impression. Nowhere was a single trace of calmness to be seen save in the face of one man only—that of the victim.
“Beating, jeering, the general scorn, and the imminent death as martyr——nothing could darken His divine and radiant face. These eyes, which gave Jairus’s daughter life again, looked at His tormentors with an indescribable expression of peace and love. Oh, beyond any doubt, He suffered, but He suffered gladly, and His soul seemed to me to be carried to invisible heights as a consuming pure flame.
“The hall in -the courts was crowded, and looked like a foaming stream whose waters increased by an influx, beginning at the mount Zion, where the Temple stood, and flowing down to the Praetorium; and every minute new voices joined in this hellish choir. My husband, weary and under compulsion, was forced at last to yield. Oh, the fateful hour had come.
“Pontius rose. Doubt and deadly fear were written in his face. He washed his hands in water from a basin and, per- forming this symbolic gesture, he said:
“I am not guilty of the blood of this righteous man.
“His blood be on us and on our children! roared the unhappy and mad people who swarmed round Jesus.
“The hangmen, like butchers, caught Him. My eyes followed the victim, who was led to be slaughtered.
“Suddenly my eyes grew dim as a sequence to my heavy heart-beats, and I felt as if my life had come to an end. “My maid-servants caught me by the hand and led me to the window which opened on to the court of the tribunal. I leaned out of the opening and saw the traces of spilt blood. Here they have beaten Jesus with a scourge, one of my servants said.
“The other continued :
“There they have crowned him with a wreath of thorns.
“The soldiers jeered at Him, called Him king of the Jews. and slapped his face. Now, He breathes His last, remarked the third servant.
Each of these words pierced my heart like a knife. The details of this terribly unjust act increased the suffering and tortures which filled my heart. I felt that on this unhappy day a supernatural event would occur. It seemed to me that even the heavens shared my sorrow, and that they suite-red as my own heart did. Heavy dark and threatening clouds in various shapes scudded over the sky, and lightning came from the colliding clouds, followed by the unreal echo of deep thunder.
“After so much uproar the town became suddenly calm, as if in thought, and a deadly silence pervaded it, as if death had covered it with its dark wings. An anxiety I had never before felt forced my eyes in one direction. At the ninth hour of the day it began to darken in the court, and the fog became thicker and thicker. I lifted my child to my breast, and suddenly a heavy earthquake started, shaking the whole earth. One would have thought that the end of the world was near or that the universe returned to its original chaos. I fell on the floor. At this time one of my maid-servants, a Jewess by birth, came to my room; pale, desperate and with frightened eyes she cried:
“Doomsday has arrived. God tells us this by these miracles. The curtain which hides the Holy of Holies in the holy Temple has been torn from top to bottom in two parts. Woe to the holy abode!”
“Rumors went that many graves opened and many people saw righteous men, who long before had passed away, come to life again: prophets and priests from the time of Zachariah who was killed in the temple. down to Jeremiah, who predicted Zions fall, arose from the graves.
“These dead foretold the wrath of God. The punishment of the Almighty came down like a flame. When I heard these words I seemed to lose my reason. I rose and m feet would hardly drag me along. I went to the stairs, and here I met the centurion who was present at the crucifixion of Jesus. He had participated in seven wars, was brave and hardened by many fights with German and other peoples. Never has there been a heart so daring and fearless as that of this warrior. But in this time he was overwhelmed, wearied by witnessing sufferings, and repentant. I wanted to ask him for more details of the happenings. but he passed by, saying, He whom we killed was really the Son of God.
“I went into the great hall. There sat Pontius, his face covered with his hands. When I entered he raised his Head and exclaimed in desperation: O Claudia, why did I not follow your advice? My gloomy heart shall never feel any joy. Why could I not save with my own life that of the wise man.
“I did not dare answer him. I could find no words to appease him and to relieve him from the distress which would be imposed on our house for ever. Our deadly silence was disturbed by a thunderstroke resounding through the corridors of the palace. Paying no heed to the fury of the thunderstorm, an old man came to our residence. He was led to us, and throwing himself at the feet of my husband, he said with tears in his eyes: I am Joseph of Arimathea, and I come to ask your permission to take Jesus body from the cross and to bury Him in my burial ground.
“Go and take Him! answered Pilate, speaking to the petitioner without even so much as raising his head. The old man went away. and I noticed that some women, clothed in long garments, rose when he came to the gate, and joined him.
“Thus ended this fateful day. Jesus was buried in a cavern, hewn out of rock, at the entrance of which a guard was posted.
“But, O Fulvia, on the third day He showed Himself in this town, victorious and surrounded with majesty and radiance.
“He had risen again. He fulfilled His prophecy and victoriously overcame death; first He showed Himself to His disciples and friends, and then to the people. To this His disciples testified, and confirmed their testimony with their own blood, and carried the words of the Lord Jesus before the thrones of the great and the judges. For the faithful testimony to His teaching some fishermen from Tiberias were arrested. This Gospel spread over the whole empire. Owing to their sweet and powerful words, these simple men suddenly became famous and renowned. This new faith grew like the plant out of a mustard seed, as the true root of a fruit-bearing tree which should supersede all other roots, that is to say the false religions and the Roman grandeur.
“From this day on, all went ill for my husband. He was accused by the Senate and even by the Emperor Tiberius for the actions which he took, for the Emperor hated the Jews. Suspicious even of those to whose demand he had yielded, his life became poisoned with torment. Salome and Semida looked at me with fear, for they saw in me always the wife of the persecutor and hunter of their Lord. They had become followers of Him who had returned the daughter to the mother, and the mother to the daughter. I found with them—instead oi kindness and welcome—distrust, which kept them trembling, and I immediately ceased my visits. In this time of my loneliness I took up continuous studies of some of Jesus moral teachings, which had been given me by Salome, and which she carefully followed.
“O my dear friend, how empty and insignificant is the wisdom of our great teachers, compared with the doctrine which God Himself promised to send to us! Oh, how profound are these wise words and how much peace and mercy are to be found in them! My only consolation consists in reading them again and again.
“After a few months Pontius was dismissed from his authoritative post. We were forced to return to Europe wandering from town to town. Together with his humiliation and sorrow he bore his spiritual desperation wherever he went in the Empire. I went with him, but what was my life with him? The cheerful bonds of family life had long ceased to exist between us—in my person he always saw a live witness who reminded him of his crime. And I saw through him the image and the cross, stained with the blood of Him whom he, as an unhappy and lawless judge, had sentenced to death. I had not the courage to raise my eyes to him and to look in his.- The sound of his words, his voice, with which he had pronounced his judgment, pierced and wounded my heart. And when he washed his hands after the meal, it seemed to me as if he washed them not in clear water, but in warm blood, the traces of which could not effaced.
“Once I tried to speak to him of repentance and remorse for sins committed, but I shall never forget his wild glance and the bitter words of desperation with which he answered.
“Some time later my child died in my arms. but I could not cry for him. – He was lucky: he had the good luck to escape the curse with followed us everywhere, and to have the terrible burden of his parents name released from his shoulders. Mishap followed us continuously, for in all places were Christians. Even in this wild country surrounded by the shores of the sea, and full of stoop rocks-where we sought protection, even here we can hear the indignation with which people mention the name of my husband.
“The emissaries who preach Jesus doctrines have inserted in the comments on their faith also the words: He was crucified by order of Pontius Pilate a terrible curse which will continue through all ages.
“Forgive me, Fulvia! Bewail me and pray for me! The righteous God may help you, and may He give you all the happiness which we wish each other. Excuse me!”