Death Could Not Bear My Face

From the Odes of Solomon, 42 (2nd Century)

I stretched out my hands and offered myself to the Lord.

The stretching out of my hands is the sign of my offering

The stretching out on the wood

Where the Just One was hanged, there by the roadside.


Hell saw me and was vanquished.

Death let me depart, and many with me.

I was gall and vinegar to it.

I descended with it to the depths of hell.


Death could not bear my face.

I made of the dead an assembly of the living.

I spoke to them with living lips

So that my word should not be in vain.


They ran towards me, the dead.

They cried out, ‘Take pity on us, O Son of God!

Deliver us out of the darkness that fetters us.

Open the gate for us that we may go out with you.

We see that death has no hold no you.

Deliver us also, for you are our Saviour!”


And I heard their voiced and I traced my name on their heads.

So they are free and they belong to me.


The Odes of Solomon are series of 42 religious poems, attributed to the Old Testament king, but likely written first in Syriac for liturgical use. They have often been circulated with the somewhat older Psalms of Solomon, a more clearly Jewish text also attributed to the ancient king.

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