Ezekiel the Tragedian

Ezekiel the Tragedian exists only in three longer quotations Eusebius’ Preparation for the Gospel 9.28-29, Clement of Alexandria’s Miscellanies 1.23.155.1-5, Epiphanius’ Medicine Box (Panarion) 64.29.6-30.1, and Pseudo-Eustanthius’ Commentary on the six days of the Creation (Commentarius in Hexaemeron) PG 18, 729. Since only the first two are readily available on-line, well I guess you just have to suck it up at this point, but here they are. AH

Eusebius Preparation for the Gospel (Praeparatio Evangelica) Ch. 28

Tr. E.H. Gifford

‘WITH regard to Moses being exposed by his mother in the marsh, and taken up and reared by the king’s daughter, Ezekiel the tragic poet gives an account, taking up the narrative from the beginning when Jacob and his family came into Egypt to Joseph. And he tells it as follows, bringing Moses forward as the speaker: 30

“When Jacob from the land of Canaan down
To Egypt came, with threescore souls and ten,
He there begat a multitudinous race,
Who much endured and long, by wicked men
And tyrant’s hand to this our day crushed down.
For when he saw our people had waxed strong,
The king with subtle craft our fathers ruled,
And some in making bricks ho sore oppressed,
And some in raising heavy stones to build
His lofty towers, for their despite contrived.
Next he commands that all the Hebrew race
Cast every man-child in the Nile’s deep flood.
And I have often heard my mother tell,
How at that time she hid me for three months:
Fearing detection then, she wrapped me close
In rough attire, and laid me secretly
‘Mid the thick rushes by the river’s bank.
My sister Miriam close at hand kept watch,
Till Pharaoh’s daughter with her maids came down
To bathe her shining limbs in the cool stream.
She saw the babe, and straightway took it up,
And knew its Hebrew birth. My sister then
Ran up, and to the princess thus she spake:
‘Wilt thou I find as nurse for this fair child
Some Hebrew wife?’ The princess bade her speed,
And to her mother quick she told the tale,
Who came with speed, and took me in her arms.
Then spake the Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Take this child
To nurse, good dame, and I will pay thy wage.’
‘Moses’ the name she gave, to mark the fact
That from the river’s brink she drew me forth.”

‘To this farther on in the tragedy Ezekiel adds more on the following points, bringing Moses forward as speaking:

“So when my time of infancy was past,
My mother led me to the princess’ home,
But first she told me all the tale, my birth
And kindred, and God’s gifts of old.
The princess then through all my boyhood’s years,
As I had been a son of her own womb,
In royal state and learning nurtured me.
But when the circle of the days was full,
I left the palace, urged to lofty deeds
By my own soul, and by the king’s device.
Then the first day I saw two men at strife,
Egyptian one, and one of Hebrew race.
And when I saw that we were quite alone,
None else in sight, I to the rescue came,
Avenged my kinsman, and the Egyptian slew,
And buried in the sand, that none might see
What we had ventured, and lay bare the deed.
But on the morrow’s dawn again I saw
Two of our kin in deadly strife, and cried,
‘Why smitest thou thy weaker brother thus?’
But he replied, ‘And who made thee a judge,
Or ruler here? Me also wouldest thou slay,
As that man yestermorn?’ Then to myself
In fear I said, ‘How came that deed abroad?’
All this was quickly carried to the king.
And Pharaoh sought to take away my life.
His plot I learned, and from his hands escaped,
And now to other lands am wandering forth.”

‘Then, concerning the daughters of Raguel he adds this:

“But here, behold! some seven fair maids I see.”

‘And on his asking them what maidens they were, Zipporah replies:

“The land, O stranger, bears the common name
Of Libya, but by various tribes is held
Of dark-skinned Aethiops: yet the land is ruled
By one sole monarch, and sole chief in war.
This city has for ruler and for judge
A priest, the father of myself and these.”

‘He then describes the giving drink to the cattle, and adds the account of his marriage with Zipporah, bringing forward Chum and Zipporah as speaking in alternate verses:

“Ch. ‘Yet this thou need’st must tell me, Zipporah.’
Z. ‘My father gave me for this stranger’s wife.'”

Eus. PrEv ch. 29

‘DEMETRIUS described the slaying of the Egyptian, and the quarrel with him who gave information about the deceased man, in the same way as the writer of the Sacred Book. He says, however, that Moses fled into Midian, and there married Zipporah the daughter of Jothor, who was, as far as one may conjecture from the names, one of the descendants of Keturah, of the stock of Abraham, from Jexan who was the son of Abraham by Keturah: and from Jexan was born Dadan, and from Dadan Raguel, and from Raguel, Jothor, and Hobab: and from Jothor Zipporah, whom Moses married.’The generations also agree; for Moses was seventh from Abraham, and Zipporah sixth. For Isaac, from whom Moses descended, was already married when Abraham at the age of a hundred and forty married Keturah, and begat by her a second son Isaar. Now he begat Isaac when he was a hundred years old; so that Isaar, from whom Zipporah derived her descent, was born forty-two years later than Isaac.

‘There is therefore no inconsistency in Moses and Zipporah having lived at the same time. And they dwelt in the city Madiam, which was called from one of the sons of Abraham. For it says that Abraham sent his sons towards the East to find a dwelling-place: for this reason also Aaron and Miriam said at Hazeroth that Moses had married an Aethiopian woman.

‘Ezekiel also speaks of this in the Exodus, adding to the tradition the dream that was seen by Moses and interpreted by his father-in-law. And Moses himself talks with his father-in-law in alternate verses, as follows: 31

“Methought upon Mount Sinai’s brow I saw
A mighty throne that reached to heaven’s high vault,
Whereon there sat a man of noblest mien
Wearing a royal crown; whose left hand held
A mighty sceptre; and his right to me
Made sign, and I stood forth before the throne.
He gave me then the sceptre and the crown,
And bade me sit upon the royal throne,
From which himself removed. Thence I looked forth
Upon the earth’s wide circle, and beneath
The earth itself, and high above the heaven.
Then at my feet, behold! a thousand stars
Began to fall, and I their number told,
As they passed by me like an armed host:
And I in terror started up from sleep.”

‘Then his father-in-law thus interprets the dream:

“This sign from God bodes good to thee, my friend.
Would I might live to see thy lot fulfilled!
A mighty throne shalt thou set up, and be
Thyself the leader and the judge of men!
And as o’er all the peopled earth thine eye
Looked forth, and underneath the earth, and high
Above God’s heaven; so shall thy mind survey
All things in time, past, present, and to come.”

‘With regard to the burning bush, and the mission of Moses to Pharaoh, he again brings Moses forward as holding converse alternately with God. Moses speaks thus:

“Ha! see! What sign is this from yonder bush?
A marvel such as no man might believe.
A sudden mighty fire flames round the bush,
And yet its growth remains all green and fresh.
What then? I will go forward, and behold
This wondrous sign, that passes man’s belief.”

‘Then God speaks to him:

“Stay, Moses, faithful servant, draw not nigh,
Ere thou hast loosed thy shoes from off thy feet:
The place thou standest on is holy ground;
And from this bush God’s word shines forth for thee.
Fear not, My son, but hearken to My words.
Of mortal birth, thou canst not see My face;
Yet mayest thou hear the words I came to speak.
Thy fathers’ God, the God of Abraham,
Of Isaac, and of Jacob, I am God.
I do remember all My gifts to them,
And come to save My people Israel;
For I have seen their sorrows and their toils.
Go then, and signify thou in My name,
First to the Hebrews gathered by themselves,
Then to the king of Egypt, this My will,
That thou lead forth My people from the land.”

‘Then lower down Moses himself speaks some lines in answer:

“I am not eloquent, O Lord, but slow
Of speech my tongue, and weak my stammering voice
To utter words of mine before the king?”

‘Then God in answer to this says to him:

“Thy brother Aaron I will send with speed: First tell thou him all I have told to thee; And he before the king, and thou with Me Alone shalt speak, he what he hears from thee.”

‘With regard to the rod, and the other wonders thus he speaks in alternate verse:

“God. ‘Say, what is that thou holdest in thine hand? ‘
M. ‘A rod, wherewith to smite or beasts or men.’
God. ‘Cast it upon the ground, and flee in haste;
For a fierce serpent will affright thine eye.’
N. ‘Lo! there I cast it. Save me, gracious Lord!
How huge, how fierce! In pity spare Thou me.
I shudder at the sight in every limb.’
God. ‘Fear not: stretch forth thy hand, and seize the tail.
Again ’twill be a rod. Now thrust thy hand
Into thy bosom: take it out again.
See, at My word, ’tis leprous, white as snow.
Now thrust it in again, ’tis as before.’ “

To this, after some words that he has interposed, he adds the following:’Now this is what Ezekiel says in The Exodus, when he brings forward God speaking of the signs, as follows:

“With this thy rod thou shalt work all these plagues.
The river first shall flow all red with blood,
And every spring, and stream, and stagnant pool.
Then frogs and lice shall swarm o’er all the land.
Next ashes from the furnace sprinkled round
In ulcers sore shall burst on man and beast.
And swarms of flies shall come, and sore afflict
The bodies of the Egyptians. After that
On those hard hearts the pestilence and death
Shall fall. And heaven’s wrath let loose on high
Shall pour down fire and hail and deadly storm
On man, and beast, and all the fruits of earth.
Then shall be darkness over all the land
For three whole days, and locusts shall devour
All food, all fruits, and every blade of grass.
Moreover I will slay each first-born child,
And crush this evil nation’s wanton pride.
Yet none of these My plagues shall touch the king,
Until he see his first-born son lie dead:
Then will he send you forth in fear and haste.
This also speak to all the Hebrew race:
‘This month shall be the first month of your year,
Wherein I bring you to that other land,
As to the fathers of your race I sware.’
Also command the people, in this month,
At evening ere the moon’s full orb appear,
To sacrifice the Passover to God,
And strike the side-posts of the door with blood:
So shall My messenger of death pass by.
But the flesh eat ye roast with fire at night.
Then will the king drive forth your gathered host
In haste; but ere ye go, I will give grace
To this My people in the Egyptians’ eyes,
So that each woman from her neighbour’s store
All needful vessels freely shall receive,
Silver and gold, and raiment meet for man,
To make requital for their evil deeds.
And when ye shall have reached your promised land,
Take heed that, from the morn whereon ye fled
From Egypt and marched onward seven whole days,
From that same morn so many days each year
Ye eat unleavened bread, and serve your God,
Offering the first-born of all living things,
All males that open first the mother’s womb.”

‘And again concerning this same feast he says that the poet has spoken with more careful elaboration:

“And when the tenth day of this month is come,
Let every Hebrew for his household choose
Unblemished lambs and calves, and keep them up
Until the fourteenth day; and then at eve
Offer the solemn sacrifice, and eat
The flesh and inward parts all roast with fire.
Thus shall ye eat it, with your loins girt up,
And shoes upon your feet, a staff withal
Held ready in your hand; for in great haste
The king will bid them drive you from his land.
Let each man’s eating for the lamb make count;
And when the victim has been duly slain,
Take a full bunch of hyssop in your hand,
Dipped in the sacred blood, and therewith strike
The posts and upper lintel of the door;
That death may pass o’er every Hebrew’s house.
Keep ever thus this feast unto the Lord,
Eating for seven days unleavened bread,
And in your houses let no leaven be found.
For ye shall be delivered, and the Lord
Shall lead you forth from Egypt in this month,
Henceforth to be tho first month of your year.”

Again, after some other passages he further says:’Ezekiel also, in the drama which is entitled The Exodus, brings forward a Messenger describing both the condition of the Hebrews and the destruction of the Egyptians, as follows:

“For when king Pharaoh from his house set forth
With all this crowd of countless men-at-arms,
With horsemen, and with four-horsed chariots,
In serried ranks in front and on each flank,
The embattled host was dreadful to behold.
The centre footmen held in phalanx deep
With spaces for the chariots to drive through.
And on the right wing and the left were set
The best of all the Egyptian chivalry.
The numbers of our army which I asked,
Were thousand thousands brave well-armed men.
The Hebrews, when o’ertaken by our host,
Lay some in groups hard by the Red Sea shore
Worn out with toil, and others with their wives
To feed their tender infants were intent:
Cumbered with flocks and herds and household goods.
The men themselves with hands not armed for fight,
At sight of us, set up a doleful cry,
And all, with hands uplift to heaven, invoked
Their fathers’ God. Great was their multitude;
But on our side all jubilant our camp
Behind them close we pitched, where by the sea
There lies a city, Baal-zephon hight.
And as the sun was near his western couch,
We waited, longing for the fight at dawn,
Trusting our mighty host and deadly arms.
But now the signs of heaven’s own wrath began,
A dread and wondrous sight. For suddenly
A pillar of cloud rose high above the earth
Midway between the Hebrew camp and ours:
And then their leader Moses took his rod
Of power divine, which late on Egypt wrought
So many baneful signs and prodigies.
Therewith he struck the waves, and the deep sea
Was cleft asunder; and with eager steps
Their host rushed swiftly o’er that briny path.
We then upon their track without delay
Trod the same path, and marching forward met
The darkness of the night; when suddenly,
As if fast bound in chains, our chariot wheels
Refused to turn; and from the sky a flame
As of a mighty fire before us shone.
Their God, methinks, was there to succour them:
For they no sooner reached the farther shore,
Than close at hand we heard the mighty roar
Of surging waves; and one in terror cried:
‘Flee from the vengeful hand of the Most High,
For it is He that helps our enemies,
And works for our destruction.’ Then the sea
Surged o’er our path, and overwhelmed our host.”

And again soon after:’Thence they went forward three days, as Demetrius himself says, and the Holy Scripture agrees with him: but as he found there no sweet water, but bitter, at God’s command he cast the wood of a certain tree into the fountain, and the water became sweet. And thence they came to Elim, and found there twelve springs of water, and threescore and ten palm-trees. As to these, and the bird which appeared there, Ezekiel in The Exodus introduces some one who speaks to Moses concerning the palm-trees and the twelve springs thus:

”See, my lord Moses, what a spot is found
Fanned by sweet airs from yonder shady grove.
For as thyself mayest see, there lies the stream,
And thence at night the fiery pillar shed
Its welcome guiding light. A meadow there
Beside the stream in grateful shadow lies
And a deep glen in rich abundance pours
From out a single rock twelve sparkling springs.
There tall and strong, and laden all with fruit,
Stand palms threescore and ten; and plenteous grass
Well watered gives sweet pasture to our flocks.”

‘Then lower down he gives a full description of the bird that appeared:

“Another living thing we saw, more strange
And marvellous than man e’er saw before.
The noblest eagle scarce was half as large:
His outspread wings with varying colours shone;
The breast was bright with purple, and the legs
With crimson glowed, and on the shapely neck
The golden plumage shone in graceful curves:
The head was like a gentle nestling’s formed:
Bright shone the yellow circlet of the eye
On all around, and wondrous sweet the voice.
The king he seemed of all the winged tribe,
As soon was proved; for birds of every kind
Hovered in fear behind his stately form:
While like a bull, proud leader of the herd,
Foremost he marched with swift and haughty step.”

And after a few words he adds that:’Some one asked how the Israelites got weapons, as they came out unarmed. For they said that after they had gone out a three days’ journey, and offered sacrifice, they would return again. It appears therefore that these who had not been overwhelmed in the sea made use of the others’ arms.’

Clement of Alexandria Miscellanies (Stromata) 1.23.155f

The ante-nicene fathers

And respecting the education of Moses, we shall find a harmonious account in Ezekiel,21052105 [Eusebius, Prזp Evang., ix. 4.] the composer of Jewish tragedies in the drama entitled The Exodus. He thus writes in the person of Moses:—

“For, seeing our race abundantly increase,
His treacherous snares King Pharaoh ’gainst us laid,
And cruelly in brick-kilns some of us,
And some, in toilsome works of building, plagued.
And towns and towers by toil of ill-starred men
He raised. Then to the Hebrew race proclaimed,
That each male child should in deep-flowing Nile
Be drowned. My mother bore and hid me then
Three months (so afterwards she told). Then took,
And me adorned with fair array, and placed
On the deep sedgy marsh by Nilus bank,
While Miriam, my sister, watched afar.
Then, with her maids, the daughter of the king,
To bathe her beauty in the cleansing stream, 336
Came near, straight saw, and took and raised me up;
And knew me for a Hebrew. Miriam
My sister to the princess ran, and said,
‘Is it thy pleasure, that I haste and find
A nurse for thee to rear this child
Among the Hebrew women?’ The princess
Gave assent. The maiden to her mother sped,
And told, who quick appeared. My own
Dear mother took me in her arms. Then said
The daughter of the king: ‘Nurse me this child,
And I will give thee wages.’And my name
Moses she called, because she drew and saved
Me from the waters on the river’s bank.
And when the days of childhood had flown by,
My mother brought me to the palace where
The princess dwelt, after disclosing all
About my ancestry, and God’s great gifts.
In boyhood’s years I royal nurture had,
And in all princely exercise was trained,
As if the princess’s very son. But when
The circling days had run their course,
I left the royal palace.”

Then, after relating the combat between the Hebrew and the Egyptian, and the burying of the Egyptian in the sand, he says of the other contest:—

“Why strike one feebler than thyself?
And he rejoined: Who made thee judge o’er us,
Or ruler? Wilt thou slay me, as thou didst
Him yesterday? And I in terror said,
How is this known?”

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