Terror Strikes the Egyptians at Night
1Great are thy judgments and hard to describe;
therefore uninstructed souls have gone astray.
2For when lawless men supposed that they held the holy nation in their power,
they themselves lay as captives of darkness and prisoners of long night,
shut in under their roofs, exiles from eternal providence.
3For thinking that in their secret sins they were unobserved
behind a dark curtain of forgetfulness,
they were scattered, terriblya alarmed,
and appalled by specters.
4For not even the inner chamber that held them protected them from fear,
but terrifying sounds rang out around them,
and dismal phantoms with gloomy faces appeared.
5And no power of fire was able to give light,
nor did the brilliant flames of the stars
avail to illumine that hateful night.
6Nothing was shining through to them
except a dreadful, self-kindled fire,
and in terror they deemed the things which they saw
to be worse than that unseen appearance.
7The delusions of their magic art lay humbled,
and their boasted wisdom was scornfully rebuked.
8For those who promised to drive off the fears and disorders of a sick soul
were sick themselves with ridiculous fear.
9For even if nothing disturbing frightened them,
yet, scared by the passing of beasts and the hissing of serpents,
10they perished in trembling fear,
refusing to look even at the air, though it nowhere could be avoided.
11For wickedness is a cowardly thing, condemned by its own testimony;b
distressed by conscience, it has always exaggeratedc the difficulties.
12For fear is nothing but surrender of the helps that come from reason;
13and the inner expectation of help, being weak,
prefers ignorance of what causes the torment.
14But throughout the night, which was really powerless,
and which beset them from the recesses of powerless Hades,
they all slept the same sleep,
15and now were driven by monstrous specters,
and now were paralyzed by their souls' surrender,
for sudden and unexpected fear overwhelmed them.
16And whoever was there fell down,
and thus was kept shut up in a prison not made of iron;
17for whether he was a farmer or a shepherd
or a workman who toiled in the wilderness,
he was seized, and endured the inescapable fate;
for with one chain of darkness they all were bound.
18Whether there came a whistling wind,
or a melodious sound of birds in wide-spreading branches,
or the rhythm of violently rushing water,
19or the harsh crash of rocks hurled down,
or the unseen running of leaping animals,
or the sound of the most savage roaring beasts,
or an echo thrown back from a hollow of the mountains,
it paralyzed them with terror.
20For the whole world was illumined with brilliant light,
and was engaged in unhindered work,
21while over those men alone heavy night was spread,
an image of the darkness that was destined to receive them;
but still heavier than darkness were they to themselves.