THE FOURTH MONTH
IN THE NAME
OF THE FATHER AND THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT,
on this day is celebrated the greatest of all festivals, the honorable,
and great, and holy festival of the Birth of our Lord Christ, of the holy
Virgin Mary. Now our fathers,
the doctors of the Church, are at one in their opinion that the festival
of the Holy Nativity should be celebrated on two days, for the Nativity
took place in the last part of the night of the twenty-eighth day, and in
the first part of the night of the twenty-ninth day.
When Paguemen (i.e. the intercalary month) hath six [days], in that
year the festival of the Nativity shall be on the eight and twentieth day;
but if Paguemen hath five [days] the festival of the Nativity shall be on
the nine and twentieth day. And
the [doctors] have ordained and commanded that the festival of the
Nativity shall be celebrated two days, for it is the chief of the holy
festivals. And the Holy
Gospel saith, “And our Lord Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the
days of Herod. And behold
there came wise men from the country of the East, and they came into
Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who is born King of the Jews? For we
have seen His star, and have come to worship Him’” (Matthew ii, 1,2). Now these wise men were of the family of Balaam, and they
were diviners, and astrologers, and they watched the stars, and held
converse with them. And it
was written in their books and in the books of Balaam, that Christ, the
King of the Jews, was to be born, for he saith, “A star shall rise from
Jacob and a king from Israel” (Numbers xxiv, 17).
And God in the operation of His wisdom made these diviners to
understand, and he made those who were astrologers to believe in Him.
And He showed them this star, and when they saw it they rejoiced,
for its appearance was different in very many respects from that of the
other stars. Now its appearance was this:
That star had the form of a virgin embracing a child in her bosom,
and it traveled from left to right, and it traveled by day, and
disappeared by night. When
the wise men traveled, the star traveled; and when they stood still it
stood still. And it was
visible to them in one place, and was hidden from them in another.
When they came into Jerusalem it became hidden, and when it was
hidden from them they were exceedingly sorry, and did not know what to do.
And then they came into Jerusalem and asked for Him that had been
born. And the number of those
diviners was three thousand, and their kings were three, and each of them
had one thousand and seventy horses. And when Herod heard about the diviners who had come to
Jerusalem on account of the King Who had been born, he was dismayed and
was afraid for his kingdom, for he heard from the Jews about him, that the
Messiah would be born in the flesh. And
he gathered together all the chief priests, and the scribes of the people,
and he said unto them, “Where is the Messiah to be born?”
And they said unto him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for even thus is
it written in the prophet: ‘And
thou Bethlehem, in the land of Ephrata, thou shalt not be for ever the
least important and smallest of the principalities of Judah, for in thee
shall be born and go forth a king and a governor who shall supervise My
people Israel’” (Matthew ii, 6).
Then Herod summoned unto him the diviners by themselves in secret,
and he enquired carefully of them the day when the star appeared unto
them. And he sent them to
Bethlehem, saying, “When ye have departed enquire carefully about the
Child and where He is born, and when ye have found Him come back to me,
and tell me so that I may come and worship Him.” Now these words came from him with deceit, for when the wise
men had found Him, he determined to kill Him.
And when the wise men heard these words from the king, they
departed, and that star which they had seen in the East guided them until
it brought them to the cave, and it stood over the cave where the Child
was; and when they saw Him they rejoiced with great joy.
And by the Will of God Joseph and Mary and the Child our Lord
Jesus, went out that day to the cave, and at length the diviners found
them, for our Lord Christ was reared only at Nazareth.
And it was two years after He was born when the diviners came to
Him, and when they entered the cave they found the Child with Mary His
mother, and they fell down and worshipped Him, and they embraced Him, and
they opened their treasures and brought and gave Him the gold which was
His tribute, for He was a king, and incense because He was God, and myrrh,
which was a symbol of His life-giving death.
And [the angel] appeared unto them again and told them in a dream
not to go back to Herod, but to depart by another road and journey to
their own country. And they
departed and became preachers and announcers of the appearance of God in
the flesh. Concerning this day Isaiah the prophet prophesied, saying,
“Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and she shall call his
name Emmanuel which is, being interpreted, God with us” (Isaiah vii,
14). And concerning this
virgin the prophet Ezekiel prophesied, saying, “I saw the door of the
East. And God said unto me:
This shall be a means of exit.
None shall enter through it, and none besides the Lord God of
Israel shall go out there from” (Ezekiel x, 19).
And concerning this virgin Daniel the prophet saith, “I saw as it
were the Son of man, and a cloud came until it reached the Ancient of
Days. And it drew nigh unto
Him and ascribed to Him dominion, and sovereignty, and honor, and it made
all the people and all he nations worship Him, and His dominion was an
everlasting dominion, and there was no end to His kingdom” (Daniel vii).
And Isaiah the prophet also saith, “God appeared unto me from
Zion, having covered Himself with a covering of flesh like unto myself,
and He said unto me, Behold the flesh which I will take from the seed of
David, the son of Jesse.” And Isaiah the prophet also saith, “Behold, I will
assuredly make a new heaven and a new earth, and I will dwell in them with
those I love, and they shall rejoice for ever.”
And also, “God will make a rod from the root of Jesse to bud, and
He will put wisdom, and knowledge, and power therein, and he shall do
justice to the poor, and he shall smite the earth with the word of his
mouth, and he shall slay the perverse with the spirit of his lips.”
And Isaiah the prophet also saith, “I will set my son to be a
sign for the nations, and he shall rule over them, and they shall believe
on Him and put their trust in Him, and He shall be for rest and glory, and
the earth shall be full of the knowledge of God.”
And Isaiah also saith, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a
Son is given. His dominion
shall be upon His swathing, and His name shall be called, Great,
Counselor, Almighty God, Governor, King of Peace, Everlasting Father who
shall come.” And Jeremiah
the prophet saith, “Thus saith the Lord:
In those days great light shall rise up for David, and he shall set
judgment and integrity in the earth.
And God shall deliver those who believe on Him, from Judah and
Israel.” And Elisa the
prophet saith, “God shall come down from heaven, and shall walk about in
the market-places of the children of Israel, and He shall teach the people
righteousness, and all nations shall be in submission unto Him, except the
nation of the alien sons of Abraham.”
And Nehemiah prophesied, saying, “God shall come in my own
appearance, and His raiment shall be as is my raiment.”
And Joel the prophet prophesied, saying, “I see the virgin
daughter of the tribe of Judah and of the seed of David become a seat for
God, and she shall burn like fire. And
I asked the Cherubim concerning her, and I said unto him, ‘Who is this
[virgin]?’ And he said unto
me, ‘This is the virgin, the seat of God, chosen from among the sons of
Adam, and by her He shall redeem the abominable nations, and she shall be
a helper and a support of him that shall believe on her.’”
And David saith in the Psalms, “The Great God said unto me:
Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee.
Ask Me, I will give Thee the nations for an inheritance, and Thy
rule shall be to the ends of the earth.
Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron, and like the vessel of the
potter Thou shalt smash them. And now, O kings, get ye understanding, and be admonished all
ye who judge the earth. Serve
ye God with fear, and rejoice in Him with trembling; strengthen wisdom so
that God may not be wroth, and that ye may not perish from the way of
righteousness. Blessed be all
those who put their trust in Him” (Psalm 2).
And the prophet also saith in the 110th Psalm, “I begot Thee in
the womb before the Morning Star. God
hath sworn, and He will not repent. Thou
art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedek” (Psalm
110:3&4). As he revealed unto Abraham a ram in the thicket, and as
water poured out of the rock in the desert, and as the dry rod of Aaron
sprouted and blossomed, and as the ass of Balaam spoke, and as water
poured out from the jawbone of an ass into the hands of Samson the giant,
and water and honey from the bones of a lion, and as the fire burned in
the bush before Moses, and the bush was not consumed, even so did our
Lady, the holy Virgin Mary, bring froth our Lord Jesus Christ. And the
fire of His Godhead did not consume the Virgin Mary.
Salutation to Thy Birth, O Lamp of the darkness.
on this day also was born Joshua, the judge, of the house of Ephraim, who
became the salvation of the children of Israel against the attacks of
their enemies, just as the Birth of our Lord became the salvation of Adam
and his children. Now
formerly the name of Joshua was “Hose’a” but when God delivered the
children of Israel from Amalek by his help, he was called “Iyasus”
that is to say, “Savior” (or “Redeemer”).
After the death of Moses God chose him to be judge over Israel, and
he delivered them from slaughter by alien nations, and made them to
inherit their land; then he died in peace and inherited the kingdom of
kings of Saba and Arabia shall bring gifts with entreaty, and the kings of
the Islands and of Tarshish shall bring in presents” (Psalm 72:10).
Hath come, hath come David, the king, was said of old by the little
virgin who brought him forth. [Omitted
in the Bodleian MS.]
to Thy Birth, O consuming Fire.
to your blood which was shed, O ye martyrs of ‘Akmim. [Omitted in the Bodleian MS.]
to the blessed Kuoril, master of three camels [Kuoril the camel man, of
the city of Samanud,] and Abba Gize.
on this day also are commemorated Jacob (James) and Piles (Pilses), and
Theodore, the martyrs.
on this day also died ‘Akaryos (Abgar), King of Roha (Edessa).
The kingdom of this saint was in the country of Syria, which is
called “Saranin,” and in the city of Roha (Edessa), and he was a
worshipper of idols, and a paralytic, and [although] he had given [much]
money to the physicians they would not heal him. And when he heard of the works of our Lord, and the miracles
which He performed, and how He healed the sick, and cast out devils, and
opened the eyes of the blind, and raised the dead, he sent a letter to
Him, saying, “Peace be unto Thee, O God, Who hast appeared in Jerusalem,
in the flesh of men. And
peace be unto Thy Father Who hast sent Thee down without Thy being
separated from Him. And peace
be unto the Holy Spirit, Who hath whispered in my mind that Thou art His
Messiah, and His equal. Peace
be unto Thee, O Thou Who wast begotten in virginity, without the seed of
man. And peace be unto those
who have believed on Thee. I
believe on Thee, and I have turned from the worship of idols to the
worship of Thee. Come to me
that Thou mayest be King over me, and make my city Thy home (?), and heal
my sickness, and cleanse my impurity. What matter the Jews to Thee?
They spit upon Thy Name, and they hurt Thee; they are a nation of
men of perverted counsel. If
in times of old they did not believe on Thee when Thou didst bring them
out of Egypt, by working miracles, and didst feed them with manna for
forty years (?), and they murmured against Thee so much that Thou didst
deliver them over to destruction, how much less will they believe on Thee
when they see Thee clothed in the flesh of earth, which hungereth and
thirsteth? Dost Thou imagine
that their evil disposition will show itself differently because Thou art
learned in hidden things?” And
these and such like things did the King of Roha (Edessa) send to Him in
writing. And when the
messengers came to our Lord, He knew what was in their hearts, and He told
them what was in the letter before they spoke to Him.
And then He took a piece of white cloth and wiped His face thereon,
and the exact form and features of His face remained impressed on that
cloth, and He sent it with Thaddeus, His disciple, [to the King of Roha (Edessa),]
saying, “Take this picture of My Person, and it shall fulfill for thee
all thy wants, and it shall heal thee of thy sickness, and shall bless thy
city, and direct thy kingdom rightly.
I have tested this picture in fire and in water to see if it would
change, [but it did not].” And
when the messengers came to ‘Akaryos (Abgar) they gave him the picture,
and he put it in the fire and in water, and neither harmed it.
And the city of Roha (Edessa) believed in it, and in its divine
authority, and it worked miracles innumerable.
And the king was healed of his sickness and died in peace that day.
Salutation to ‘Akaryos (Abgar), to whom our Lord sent an
indestructible portrait of Himself.
on this day also died Kuoril, the camel man.
This holy man was from the city of Samnud, and he devoted himself
to fasting and to prayers, and God gave him the knowledge of mysteries,
and of things that were hidden. And
he had three camels, which he worked according to his needs, and he used
to load them with what he required from the flax fields, which he
possessed. And he had a
certain man, who was one of the men of Faragun, and who was a chief priest
of the shrine of our Lady Mary of that city, and his father had held the
[same] office before him; and this church possessed much money which had
been given thereto by kings and governors.
And he used to have charge of the treasury, which was hidden, and
the bishop and he, who was under him, that is to say, this chief priest,
knew the amount of treasure therein; and then, suddenly, without uttering
a word to his son, he died. When
the bishop heard of his death he came to the church and demanded the money
from his son, who said, “I do not know where the treasury is, and my
father, whom the hand of death hath snatched sway suddenly, hath never
told me.” When the bishop
heard this he was wroth and he wished to torture him, and the man said to
the bishop, “Wait until I have looked for the place where the treasure
is, and if I do not find it do with me what thou wilt”; and to this the
bishop agreed, and fixed a time. And
the young man went into his house and told his wife all the trouble.
And she said unto him, “Put thy trust in God, and go to the
monks, the fathers of Dabra Abba Makara, and ask them and their neighbors
for they will tell thee.” And
when he had arrived there he asked the monks with tears to make themselves
masters of [his] sorrow; and not one of them could tell him anything.
Then a certain solitary made a sign to him, and said unto him,
“Go to Samnud, and enquire for Kuoril an owner of camels, and tarry with
him, and he will tell thee [where it is].”
And when he had come into the city of Samnud, and enquired for
Kuoril, the people told him [where he was]; and when he arrived there he
found him in his house and his three camels were with him.
As soon as Kuoril saw him, he knew by the Spirit everything, and
what he wanted, and then he brought him into his dwelling and offered him
food. And the young man said unto him, “O my father, I cannot eat
until I have finished my errand”; and Kuoril said unto him, “Thine
errand shall be fulfilled.” And
after supper each man went to sleep in his abode.
And at midnight Kuoril the camel man saw a vision of that man
standing by his camels, and when he bowed the man bowed with him, and when
he prayed the man prayed with him. And
on the morrow he took his camels into the desert to load them with the
flax, which he needed, and that man [of the dream] went with him to help
him. When they arrived in the
fields Kuoril took one camel to load him with flax, and that man took the
second camel to load him, but he put a load on the camel’s back which
was beyond his capacity to carry, and overloaded him very much indeed; and
when the animal wanted to raise his load he was unable to move.
And that man took a stick to beat him, but the camel cried out in
human speech, saying, “O my father Kuoril, do not let this man ill-treat
me; he hath loaded me beyond what is right for me.”
And Kuoril came and lightened the weight of the camel’s load, and
he said unto that man, “O my son, why didst thou load him with a weight
heavier than he could carry? Wouldst
not thou be sorry if one laid a heavy load upon thee, and a labor which
thou couldst not perform?” And
then when they came into their abode he asked him about his sorrow so that
he might tell him and reveal to him the place of the treasure; and having
made him to swear that he would not repeat his words to anyone else, he
said unto him, “There is at the east end of the church a little box, and
therein is the treasure.” And when the young man went into his house, he told his wife,
and they went together to that place and found there a treasure the like
whereof in quantity doth not exist in the treasuries of kings; and he told
the bishop, who took charge of it. Salutation
to the blessed Kuoril.
be to God Who is glorified in His Saints.