SERMON OF PSEUDO-EPHREM ON THE END OF THE WORLD

 

Translated from the text in Edmund Beck, ed., Des heiligen Ephraem des Syrers Sermones III (CSCO 320; Louvain: Secrétariat du Corpus SCO, 1972), 60-71; see also 79-94 for Beck’s translation.  The text is based on two manuscripts: (1) Codex Vaticanus Sir. 566, and (2) Codex Dublinensis (Trinity College) B 5.19.  Editio princeps: Thomas Josephus Lamy, ed., Sancti Ephraem Syri Hymni et Sermones (4 vols.; Mechliniae: H. Dessain, 1882-1902), 3:187-212.

 

A discourse (memra) of the holy saint Ephrem, the Syrian teacher, concerning the end, (final) consummation, judgment, and punishment; on the people of Gog and Magog; and about the Antichrist.

O Son who by His grace humbled Himself

And who was pleased to make Himself a human being;

Who willingly experienced death

At the top of the wood(en cross) on Golgotha:

Grant me, my Lord, (the ability) to speak about

The struggles which will take place in the created order;

For peoples will fall upon each other

And nations will destroy one another,

Evil will fortify itself on the earth

And iniquity will increase throughout creation.

Righteous rulers will perish

And lawless ones will arise on the earth.

Then a judgment will arise,

And a weighing on the scale for those humans:

The side (containing) the wicked will sink down;

And that for the elect will rise up.

Then spiritual entities will go forth

And destroy the ends of the created order.

It will happen, my brethren, just as it is written:

A plague in a number of places,

And a famine will occur in the created order;

Terrible struggles and conflicts.

Dust will be saturated with blood;

The created order will be polluted from iniquity.

Regions will be ravaged,

And cities will be consumed by Sheol;

Nation will rise up against nation

And kingdom against kingdom.

Lawlessness will be sovereign on earth

And the defiled will pursue after the saints.

People will openly apostatize

And augment the left side;

The righteous ones will suffer indignities

From those who belong to the side of the sinners.

It is due to this, my beloved ones

That the final age has arrived.

Lo, we have observed the signs,

Just as Christ inscribed for us:

Rulers will arise, one against another;

There will be suffering on earth;

Nations will contend with nations

And armies will fall upon one another.

When the Nile, the river of Egypt,

Overflows (and) floods part of the land,

Certain regions will prepare themselves

Against the country of the Romans.

Nations will contend with nations,

And a kingdom with a kingdom.

They will depart, moving from one land to another;

Those Romans who are put to flight.

And the Assyrians will gain authority

Over the region of the Romans.

The fruit of their loins they will subjugate

And they will also ravish their women;

They will be sowing and also reaping

They will plant fruits in the ground;

They will acquire vast riches

And hoard treasures underground.

But just as the Nile, the river of Egypt

Recedes again from what it flooded;

So too will Assyria recede

Back to their own country.

For the Romans once again will be found

In their ancestral land (i.e., the Assyrians’).

Then evil will increase on the earth

And the land will be defiled with fornication.

The cry of the persecuted and the wretched

Will rise up to heaven.

Then a judgment will arise

To cast them out of the land.

The holy covenant will complain;

A cry will rise up to heaven.

A people will emerge from the wilderness,

The progeny of Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah;

Who hold fast to the covenant with Abraham,

The husband of Sarah and Hagar.

Set in motion, he (Ishmael) comes in the name of the ram,

The herald of the Son of Destruction.

A sign will appear in the heavens,

The one our Lord spoke of in His gospel:

Luminaries will shine among the stars

And the light of His face will gleam.

Rulers will quake and tremble;

The forces arrayed by them will fall.

The peoples of the earth will be terrified

When they behold the sign set in the heavens.

They will prepare for battle and come together,

All peoples and nationalities.

They will wage war there

And the ground will be drenched with blood.

The nations will suffer defeat there,

A marauding nation will prevail.

The marauders will fly over the landscape,

Across plains and over the peaks of mountains.

They will take women and children as captives,

Also men both elderly and young.

The best of the males will be destroyed;

The most desirable women will be removed.

With strong spears and lances

They will impale elderly men.

They will separate a son from his father,

A daughter from the side of her mother;

They will separate a brother from his brethren,

A sister from the side of her sisters.

They will slay the bridegroom in his bedroom

And expel the bride from her bridal chamber.

They will take a wife away from her husband,

And slaughter her as if she were a sheep;

They will cast an infant away from its mother

And drive the mother into captivity.

The child will scream out on the ground:

Its mother hears, but what can she do?

For it will be trampled by the hooves

Of horses, camels, and infantry!

She (tries to) turn toward it, (but) they will not allow her;

The child remains within the wild (?).

They separate children from their mother

As the soul (is separated) from the body.

She watches while they divide them up,

Her beloved ones (taken from) the embrace of her bosom;

Two of her children to two (different) masters,

Her own self to still another master;

She has been allocated, and her children with her;

For they are now slaves to robbers.

Her children cry out with laments,

Their eyes burning with tears;

She turns toward her beloved ones,

The milk flowing forth from her breast:

‘Farewell, my beloved ones!

May God go with you!

The one who accompanied Joseph

In (his) servitude among foreigners:

May He accompany you, my children

Into the captivity where you are going!’

‘Farewell, our mother!

May God go with you!

The one who accompanied Sarah

Into the palace of Abimelech the Gadarite:

May He accompany your own self

Until the Day of Resurrection!’

The son will stand and watch while his father

Is sold into slavery.

The eyes of both of them will burn with tears

While they groan, one in front of the other.

A brother will watch while his brother

Is killed and cast down on the ground,

Whereas he they drive off into captivity

In order to serve among foreigners as a slave.

They even put to death mothers

Who are holding their children to their breasts.

Bitter is the sound of the infants

Who are groaning to satisfy their desire (for milk).

They will prepare roads in the mountains,

Highways in the middle of the plains;

They will maraud until the very ends of the created order.

They will establish rule over the urban centers.

The provinces will suffer destruction,

And they will multiply corpses on the earth.

All peoples will be brought low

Before the marauder nation.

And once the peoples have endured much on earth

And hope that now peace has arrived,

They (the Ishmaelites) start exacting tribute

And everyone will be fearful of them.

Lawlessness will intensify on the earth

And even obscure the clouds;

Wickedness will enclose the created order

And waft up like smoke to the heavens.

Then since wickedness will be rampant upon the earth,

The Lord’s wrath will then stir up

Kings and mighty armies.

For when He seeks to expunge it from earth,

He sends out humans against humans

To annihilate one another.

Truly at that time He will summon

The kings and mighty armies

Who are behind those gates

Which Alexander fashioned.

Many rulers and peoples

Remain behind the gates.

They look toward heaven

And call on the name of God,

That the Lord send His sign

From within His heaven of glory

And the Divine Voice

Summon them who are by those gates;

So that they suddenly break down and collapse

At the command of the Divinity.

Numerous armies issue forth,

As many as the stars which cannot be counted.

As multitudinous as the sand by the sea,

And exceeding (the number of) the stars in the sky.

A full span was consumed

From the lower crossbar;

And from the upper crossbar

Another full span was consumed

On account of the great quantity of their sharp spears

With which they lacerated it. They issued forth,

Moving, spilling forth from there;

Kings and large armies

And every people and language group

Emerging from (behind) those gates.

Gog and Magog and Nūl and Agag,

Kings and mighty armies!

Togarmah and Ashkenaz and Daypar,

Pūìayē with Lūbayē.

Amzartayē and Garmēdō‘,

¬alab with helmet-covered heads,

Azmurtayē and Kūshayē,

Hunayē and Parzayē,

Diqlayē and Tūbalayē,

Mūshkayē with Kūshayē.

Allied to and coming with them

Were both the Medes and the Persians,

Armenians and Turks

And NamrūÐayē and MūshÐayē;

The descendants of Ke’wan and Serug;

The progeny of Yaqìan and the MaÐūnayē;

Numerous armies and nations

Whose number cannot be calculated.

They will burst forth and flood the earth,

Shaking the walls of the created order.

A dust cloud will rise up over the earth,

Obscuring the sun above

And covering creation

With clouds and dark fogs,

In accordance with what Ezekiel prophesied,

The son of Buzi in his prophecy.

For when the Huns come forth

To wage war and to do battle,

They will take hold of pregnant women

And heap fire on top of them;

They will come closer and mutter incantations over them,

While roasting their children inside them!

Splitting them open, they extract their fetuses

When they are finished cooking inside of them.

They draw near: then place them in basins,

And pour water over them

And dissolve their corpses there

In those enchanted waters.

They immediately take their swords

And their bows with their spears

And dip them in those waters

For their arrows and their weapons.

Every weapon to which are applied

Those magical potions

Appears as if there are hundreds, even thousands

Of cavalrymen who wield them.

Moreover those hundreds of horsemen

Who set out (and) traverse the whole of the earth

Appear as if they are accompanied

By six thousand myriads.

If one of them should fall off during battle

While engaging in the fight,

Wherever he extends his hand

Suddenly a knife emerges!

They eat the flesh of children

And also drink the blood of women.

Clothed in tanned skins,

They mount the winds and tempests;

And rapidly, in the blink of an eye,

They lay waste to cities,

Topple their walls to the ground,

And destroy the strong citadels.

Moving quickly, they bind the swift

And slaughter the vigorous men.

They are quicker in motion

Than winds and tempests.

Whenever news of them is heard on earth (to wit)

‘The Huns have set out (and) are coming!’

They blanket the whole of creation.

Because they are sorcerers,

They fly between heaven and earth.

Their chariots are like the winds,

And their swords and their lances

Are like terrifying bolts of lightning.

Holding straps in their hands

And two or three horses,

Each one of them leads with him

Some fifty or sixty men,

Traveling behind and in front of him

Like winds and tempests.

The sound of the battle-cry of just one of them

Is like the roaring of lions.

Indeed dread of the Huns

Will overpower the entire earth;

They will cover the whole earth

Like the waters during the days of Noah,

And they will overwhelm the edges of the created order:

There is no one who can withstand them.

These are the ‘numerous peoples’

About whom Ezekiel spoke

Who will cover the whole earth

As if they were clouds.

‘Fish will shudder before them,

(As will) the birds of the sky

And wild beasts and vermin of the earth

And every species in creation;

High mountains will be thrust down

And fortified towers will collapse,

Even the walls of the cities.’

On the earth will be a wasteland.

For Ezekiel has prophesied

That it will come to pass in the End of Days:

They will burst out (and) come up from the land

And cover the created order;

Gog and Magog will prepare itself

And arrive at the ‘hill country of Israel.’

Between the sea and Jerusalem

He will place his encampment.

Riders will fly off, descending

Upon Egypt and opposite India;

Leading away so many captives they cannot be numbered.

People and riches,

Cattle and property

Which have now become his prey.

Then Righteousness will summon

Michael, the one who is leader of the host,

To come down (and) destroy his encampment

Just as (he destroyed) the encampment of Sennacherib.

The angel, receiving the command, will draw

The terrible and powerful sword,

And departing, he will destroy his force

In the twinkling of an eye!

Righteousness will pick up and hurl

Stones of fire upon the encampment.

The slain on the ground will be as numerous

As the (particles of) sand which cannot be counted;

People and pack-animals will perish,

The entire encampment will be consumed.

The blaze will extend

Unto the sea and to the islands.

The bow will swerve from the hands

Of Gog, the wicked ruler;

Also his arrows (will drop) from his left hand:

His entire encampment will be consumed.

The inhabitants of Judaea will go out

And loot his whole encampment.

They will collect and pick up armament:

Lances, arrows, and bows.

For seven years within a fire

They will burn them, as it is written:

‘They will not need to gather

Wood from the field or thickets.’

Seven years they will throw in the fire

Shields and clubs,

Arrows, spears, and bows.

They will prove sufficient for fueling the fire for seven years.

Then the Lord will bring in His peace,

Which attests His glorification among the heavens.

And once more the empire of the Romans

Will spring up and flourish in its place.

It will possess the earth and its extremities,

And no one will exist who opposes it.

And when iniquity has become rife on earth

And has polluted the whole of creation,

Then a judgment will arise

Which will entirely obliterate the people.

The Son of Destruction, the Evil One,

Will emerge and come upon the earth.

A deceiver of humanity,

An instigator of trouble over the whole earth.

On the day when he comes to it,

(when) the Son of Destruction arrives on earth,

The created order will be thrown into commotion,

And terror will engulf the earth.

The sun will become dark in its place,

And the stars will fall from the height;

All the luminaries will be quenched,

Darkness will cover the created order.

The earth with its inhabitants will shake,

And mountains and heights will quake;

Springs and fountains will dry up,

And the waves in the sea will abate

And the fish therein grow still.

Rulers will stop rendering judgment

And priests will tremble in the sanctuary

And military power will collapse.

Confusion will be on the earth

And all human powers will be paralyzed,

For the Evil One will be ready.

He will come to and enter Jerusalem.

He will rebuild and establish himself in Zion,

And will make himself to be God

And enter into the sanctuary to take a seat

In accordance with what the Apostle wrote to us.

The Jews will take pride in him;

They will prepare themselves and come to him.

And he moreover will blaspheme when he says:

‘I, even I, am the Father and the Son!

The First and the Last!

There is no other god apart from me!’

But at that time ten thousand Jews will denounce him:

They will answer him in truth:

‘You are a deceiver for (all) creatures!

For the one whom our ancestors restrained

At the top of the wood(en cross) on Golgotha

Is (actually) the redeemer of (all) creatures,

And he was raised up to the One Who sent him!’

Then the Evil One will be enraged

And he will issue a command regarding those who denounced him

That they should immediately die by the sword,

And everyone will be too afraid to renounce him.

Then he will begin to display

Wonders through deception

In the heavens and on the earth,

Within the sea and on the dry land.

He will summon the rain and it will fall;

He will command the seed and it will sprout

However he will not actually perform (miracles);

He will be employing magic.

He will command the waves and they will cease,

And the winds will be obedient to him.

He will suspend fruits on the trees

And cause water to gush from the ground.

He will address the leprous and they will become clean,

(Speak to) the blind, and they will see light,

He will call to the deaf and they will hear him,

(Address) even the mute and they will speak.

He will effect all the wonders

Which Our Lord performed within the created order,

Except that he will not be able to resurrect the dead,

For he will not have authority over (the) spirits (of the dead).

Lightening-flashes will be his messengers,

And are the sign of his advent;

Demons are his armies

And the commanders of the devils are his pupils;

He will dispatch the heads of his legions

To distant lands

Where they will display marvelous powers and healings

And mislead the whole of creation.

Behold, the Apostle has penned a warning for us

In his epistle to the Thessalonians:

‘Let no word or no letter

Trouble you that is not from us.

For the rebellion comes first,

Also the Man of Sin

And he will exalt himself over God,

Making himself to be God.’

And when the Accursed One comes

And displays his mighty works and wonders,

The nations will gather together and come

As (if) they were going to see God.

Groups and nations will join him,

And every person will renounce their deity;

Everyone will say of him to their fellow

That they should acknowledge him, the Son of Destruction!

Peoples will fall upon one another,

Slaying each other with swords.

The elect will flee from his presence

To the peaks of mountains and hills,

And there will be calamity on earth

Unlike any that came before.

Fear will fall upon all people

And they will be overcome with terror.

Children will renounce their father

And follow after the Evil One;

Priests will abandon their altars

To serve as his heralds.

People will flee to cemeteries

And hide themselves among the dead,

Pronouncing the good fortune of the deceased

Who had avoided the calamity:

‘Blessed are you for you were borne away (to the grave)

And hence you escaped from the afflictions!

But as for us, woe is us! For when we die,

Vultures will serve as escort for us!’

And if the days of that time were not shortened,

The elect would never survive

The calamities and afflictions.

For Our Lord revealed (and) disclosed to us

In his Gospel when He said:

‘Those days will be shortened

For the sake of the elect and the saints.’

And when he has harassed the whole of creation,

(When) the Son of Destruction (has bent it) to his will,

Enoch and Elijah will be sent

That they might persuade the Evil One.

With a gentle question

The saints will come before him,

In order to expose the Son of Destruction

Before the assemblies surrounding him:

‘If you are indeed God,

Tell us what we ask of you:

Where is the place that you have hidden

The elders Elijah and Enoch?’

The Evil One will respond and say

To the saints at that time:

‘When I wish (it), they are in the height(s),

Or again should I choose, they are within the sea;

For I have authority over habitations,

Since there is no other god apart from me

And I can make anything

On earth (and) also in heaven!’

They will answer

The Son of Destruction as follows:

‘If you are truly God,

Call out to the deceased so that they will rise!

For it is written within the books

Of the prophets and the apostles

That when the Messiah reveals Himself,

He will resurrect the dead from the graves.

If you cannot show us this (sign),

Then the One who was crucified is greater than you!

For he roused and resurrected those who were dead,

And was exalted in great splendor.’

Then the Evil One will become enraged

With the saints at that time;

He will draw his terrible sword

And sever the necks of the righteous ones.

But Gabriel will arise (and) descend

(With) Michael (as) military commanders;

They will resurrect those saints

While the Evil One stands confused with his servants.

They will approach and seize that Accursed One

And the Lord will rebuke (him) from heaven;

Then He will destroy the Accursed One

And all of his forces.

Angels will suddenly approach

And cast him into Gehenna,

And all of those who believed in him

Will be thrust into the flame(s).

Then the Lord will come from above

In splendor and with a company of His angels,

And between earth and heaven

A throne-chariot will be fixed there.

He will admonish the sea and it will dry up;

The fish within it will perish.

He will dissolve the heavens and the earth,

And there will be (only) darkness and gloom.

He will dispatch fire upon the earth,

And it will burn there for forty <days>

Purifying it of iniquity

And of pollution and of sins.

A great throne will be adorned

And the Son will be seated on the right;

Seats will be positioned

For the twelve apostles of the Son;

And couches will be decorated for the martyrs

And a royal chamber for the righteous ones.

The Watchers will blow trumpets

And the dead will arise from the dust;

Fiery entities will suddenly go forth

And assemble all the descendants of Adam.

They will gather the wheat in a storehouse

And throw the straw into the fire;

The good will go forth into the Kingdom,

And the bad will remain in Gehenna;

The righteous will fly up to the height,

And the sinners will burn in fire.

The martyrs will float to the couch;

The wicked will go out into darkness.

And Christ will reign forever,

He will be sovereign over each generation.

To Him be the glory, and His mercy is over us

For all time, amen, amen!

Finis

return to index page