Powered by Heat Keywords
The Online 
Medieval and Classical Library

Codex Junius 11

[Oxford, Bodleian Library, Junius 11, pp.143-71]

Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #14b


(ll. 1-7) Lo!  far and wide throughout the earth we have heard
how the laws of Moses, a wondrous code, proclaim to men reward of
heavenly life for all the blessed after death, and lasting gain
for every living soul.  Let him hear who will!

(ll. 8-22) On him the Lord of hosts, the Righteous King, showed
honour in the wilderness, and the Eternal Ruler gave him might to
work great wonders.  He was beloved of God, a lord of men, a wise
and ready leader of the host, a bold folk-captain.  Affliction
came upon the tribe of Pharaoh, the enemy of God, when the Lord
of victories entrusted to the bold folk-leader his kinsmen's
lives, and gave the sons of Abraham a dwelling and an habitation. 
Great was his reward!  The Lord was gracious unto him and gave
him weapon-might against the terror of his foes, wherewith he
overcame in battle many a warrior, and the strength of hostile

(ll. 22-34) And first the Lord of hosts spake unto him and told
him many wonders, how the Triumphant Lord in wisdom wrought the
world, and the compass of the earth, and the arching heavens; and
told His own name, which the sons of men, wise patriarchs of old,
knew not before, though they knew many things.  And the Lord
honoured the leader of the host, the foe of Pharaoh, and
strengthened him with righteous strength on his departure, when,
of old, in punishment that mighty host was drenched with death.

(ll. 35-53) Wailing arose at the fall of their princes; their
hall-joys were hushed and their treasure was scattered.  Fiercely
at midnight He smote the oppressors, slaying their firstborn,
laying their watchmen low.  Wide the destroyer's path, and the
way of the fell folk-slayer!  The whole land mourned the dead. 
The host departed.  Loud was the voice of their wailing, little
their joy!  Locked were the hands of the laughter-makers; the
multitude had leave to go its way, a wandering folk.  The Fiend
was robbed and all the hosts of hell.  Heaven's might came upon
them; their idols fell.  That was a glorious day through all the
world when the host went forth!  Many a year the vile Egyptians
suffered bondage, because they thought for ever to refuse to
Moses' kinsmen, if God would let them, their longing for the
journey of their heart's desire.

(ll. 54-62) The host was ready.  The prince who led them was
stalwart and bold.  He passed by many a stronghold with his
people, leaders and lands of many hostile men, by narrow, lonely
paths and unknown ways, until at last they marched, in armour,
against the Ethiopian realm.  Their lands were covered with a
cloud, their border-homes upon the mountain-slopes.  Past these,
with many a hindrance, Moses led his people.


(ll. 63-67) And two nights after they escaped their foes God bade
the noble prince to make encampment about the town of Etham in
the marchlands, with all his force, a mighty army, and tumult of
the host.

(ll. 68-88) With anxious hearts they hastened on their northward
way; they knew that southward lay the Ethiop's land, parched
hill-slopes and a race burned brown by the heat of the sun.  But
Holy God shielded that folk against the fiery heat, stretching a
covering over the flaming heavens, and over the burning air a
holy veil.  A cloud widestretching severed earth from heaven, and
led the host; burning and heavenly bright the fiery flame was
quenched.  The warriors marvelled, most joyous of hosts.  The
shelter of the day-shield moved across the heavens; God in His
wisdom had covered the course of the sun with a sail, though
earth-dwelling men knew not the mast-ropes, nor might behold the
yards, nor understand the way in which that greatest of tents was
fastened.  So He showed honour and glory upon the faithful!

(ll. 88-97) Then was a third encampment to the comfort of the
folk.  The army all beheld the holy sail, the gleaming marvel of
the sky, towering above them.  And all that folk, the men of
Israel, perceived that there the Lord of hosts was present to
measure out a camp.  Before them moved two columns in the
heavens, fire and cloud, sharing alike the service of the Holy
Spirit, the journey of brave-hearted men, by day and night.

(ll. 98-106) And in the dawn, as I have heard, the valiant-
hearted blared forth their trumpetcalls, in peals of thunder. 
And all the host, the band of the brave, arose and made them
ready, according as Moses, their glorious leader, gave bidding to
God's people.  They beheld their guide go forth before them
measuring out the path of life.  The sail governed their journey,
and after it, with joyful hearts, the seamen trod their path
through the great waters.  Loud was the tumult of the host.


(ll. 106-134) Each evening rose a heavenly beacon, a second
wondrous marvel after the setting of the sun, a pillar of flame
shining in splendour over the hosts of men.  Bright were its
shining beams above the warriors; their bucklers gleamed, the
shadows vanished away.  No secret place could hide the deep
night-shadows.  Heaven's candle burned.  Needs must this new
night warden watch above the host, lest in the stormy weather
grey heath and desert-terror should overcome their souls with
sudden fear.  Streaming locks of fire had their guide, and
shining beams, menacing the host with flame and terror, and
threatening destruction to that people in the waste, except they
swiftly hearkened unto Moses.  Armour gleamed, and bucklers
glistened as the warriors took their steadfast way.  And over the
troops and high above the host stood the banner, moving as they
moved, even unto the stronghold of the sea at the land's end. 
And there they pitched a camp and rested, for they were weary. 
Stewards brought the warriors food and strengthened them.  And
when the trumpet sang they stretched themselves upon the hills,
shipmen within their tents.  That was the fourth encampment and
pause of the shield-men by the Red Sea.

(ll. 135-141) There dread tidings of inland pursuit came unto the
army.  A great fear fell upon them, and dread of the host.  So
the exiles abode the coming of the fierce pursuers, who long had
crushed those homeless men and wrought them injury and woe.  They
heeded not the covenant which the ancient king had given

((LACUNA -- Two leaves missing.))


(ll. 142-153) ....who became the people's heir and had their
treasure, and greatly throve.  All this the Egyptian race forgot
when their wrath was stirred by a quarrel.  They wrought great
wrong to Moses' kinsmen, broke the covenant, and slew them. 
Their hearts were filled with faithlessness and rage, the mighty
passions of men.  They would fain requite the gift of life with
evil, that the people of Moses might pay for that day's work in
blood, if almighty God would prosper their destructive journey.

(ll. 154-169) Then the hearts of the earls were hopeless within
them as they beheld the shining bands, the hosts of Pharaoh,
marching from out the south, uplifting a forest of lances, with
banners waving above them, a great host treading the
border-paths.  Their spears were in array, shields gleamed and
trumpets sang; the battle line rolled on.  Over dead bodies
circling screamed the birds of battle, dewy-leathered, greedy for
war, dark carrion lovers.  In hope of food, the wolves,
remorseless beasts of slaughter, sang a grim eveningsong; dogging
the march of the foe, they abode the coming of death; the march
warders howled in the midnight.  The doomed soul fled; the host
was compassed about.

(ll. 170-199) Now and again the proud thanes of the host measured
the mile-paths on their steeds.  The prince of men rode forth
before the troops, the war-king raised the standard; the
battle-warden bound on helm and chinguard (banners gleamed) in
expectation of war, shook his armour, and bade his warlike host,
his firm-ranked cohorts, go boldly into battle.  The foe beheld
with hostile eyes the coming of the landsmen.  About him fearless
fighters moved; grey wolves of war went forward to the onslaught
thirsting for battle, loyal of heart.  He chose the flower of his
people for that service, two thousand far-famed heroes of high
birth, kings and kinsmen.  And each led out his men, and all the
warriors that he well could muster in the appointed time.  The
young men were gathered together, the kings in their pomp. 
Frequently sounding, the we!l-known voice of the horn signalled
the host where the war-troop of heroes should bear their arms. 
So the dark horde was marshalled; throng after throng, in
thousands, hasted thither, a countless host.  They were resolved,
in vengeance for their brothers, to slay the tribes of Israel
with the sword, at the break of day.

(ll. 200-208) Then a sound of wailing arose in the camp, an
evening-song of woe.  A great fear was upon them; the nets of
death encompassed them about.  The fatal tidings flew abroad;
tumult arose.  The foe were resolute, a horde in armour gleaming,
until the mighty angel who upheld that host scattered the proud
and hateful multitude, so that no more might one behold another's
face; but their journey was divided.

(ll. 209-220) All that long night the fugitives had respite,
though foes beset them upon either hand, on the one side that
great host, on the other side the sea.  They had no way of escape
nor any hope of their inheritance, but halted on the hills in
shining armour with foreboding of ill.  And all the band of
kinsmen watched and waited for the coming of the greater host
until the dawn, when Moses bade the earls with brazen trumpets
muster the folk, bade warriors rise and don their coats of mail,
bear shining arms, take thought on valour, and summon the
multitude with signal-beacons unto the sandy shore of the sea.

(ll. 220-232) The leaders bold obeyed the battle-signal; the host
made ready.  The seamen heard the trumpet-summons, and struck
their tents upon the hills.  The army was astir.  They numbered
off twelve companies of valiant men to form the van of battle
against their foes' grim wrath.  The host was in an uproar.  From
every noble tribe among that people were chosen fifty cohorts,
under shield, the flower of the folk.  And every cohort of that
famous army was of a thousand warriors, far-famed wielders of the

(ll. 232-251) That was a warlike band.  The leaders of the army
welcomed not among that number the weak, who yet because of youth
could not defend them under board and byrnie against a wily foe,
who never yet had known the baleful thrust, the bitter wound, the
insolent play of the spear over the edge of the linden shield. 
Nor might the aged, grey-haired warriors be of service in the
battle if their strength had failed them.  But according to their
strength they joined the fray, even according as their valour
would endure with honour among men, and their strength suffice to
undergo the spearstrife.  The army of these sturdy men was
mustered, and ready to advance.  Their banner rose on high, a
gleaming column, and all abode there nigh unto the sea until
their guiding beacon pierced the clouds, and shone upon their
linden shields.


(ll. 252-258) Then a herald rose before the warriors, a valiant
leader, and, lifting up his shield, he bade the captains of the
host make silence, that all the multitude might hear the words of
their brave lord.  The shepherd of the kingdom fain would speak
with holy voice unto his legions.  The leader of the host in
words of worth addressed them:

(ll. 259-275) "Be not afraid though Pharaoh leadeth hither this
mighty host of sword-men, a multitude of earls.  Upon them all
this day Almighty God will give requital by my hand, that they
may live no longer to vex the tribes of Israel with woe.  Ye
shall not dread doomed armies and dead men.  Their fleeting life
hath run unto the end.  The knowledge of God hath vanished from
your hearts.  I give you better counsel, to serve the God of
glory, and pray the Lord of life for victory and grace and
safety, wherever ye may journey.  He is the Eternal God of
Abraham, Creation's Lord, magnanimous and mighty, who with His
strong hand guardeth all this host."

(ll. 276-298) Then the lord of men spake with a loud voice before
the multitude and said: "Look now, dearest of people, with your
eyes and behold a marvel!  In my right hand grasping this green
rod I smote the ocean depths.  The waves rise up; the waters form
a rampartwall.  The sea is thrust aside.  The ways are dry: grey
army-roads, ancient foundations (never have I heard in all the
world that men before set foot thereon), shining plains,
imprisoned deep sea-bottoms over which of old the great waves
foamed.  The south wind, breath of the ocean, hath driven them
back.  The sea is cleft asunder; the ebbing waters spewed up
sand.  Well I know Almighty God hath showed you mercy, ye
bronze-clad earls.  Most haste is best now, that ye may escape
the clutch of foes since God hath reared a rampart of the red
seastreams.  These walls are fairly builded to the roof of
heaven, a wondrous wave-road."

(ll. 299-309) And after these words the multitude arose, the host
of the valiant.  The sea lay tranquil.  Upon the sand the legions
raised their standards and shining linden shields.  And over
against the Israelites the wall of water stood firm and upright
for the space of one whole day.  Of one mind was that company of
earls.  The wall of water shielded them with sure defence.  In no
wise did they scorn their holy leader's counsels as the time for
deeds drew near, when the words of their well-loved lord were
ended, and the voice of his eloquence was still.

(ll. 310-318) The fourth tribe led the way, a throng of warriors,
marching through the sea upon the green sea-bottom.  The tribe of
Judah trod that unknown road alone, before their kinsmen, and God
Almighty gave them great reward for that day's work, granting
them glory of triumphant deeds, that they might have dominion
over kingdoms and sway their kinsmen.


(ll. 319-330) As they descended on the oceanbottom that mighty
tribe had lifted up their standard mid the spear-host, high above
their shields their battle ensign, a golden lion, bravest of
beasts.  Not long would they endure oppression by the lord of any
people while they might live and lift their spears to battle.  In
the van were strife and stubborn hand-play, warriors valiant in
the weapon-struggle, fearless fighters, bloody wounds and clash
of helmets, onrush of a battle-host, as Judah's sons advanced.

(ll. 331-339) Behind that army proudly marched the seamen, sons
of Reuben; the vikings bore their bucklers over the salt
sea-marsh, a multitude of men, a mighty legion, advancing
unafraid.  For his sin's sake Reuben yielded his dominion and
marched behind his kinsmen.  From him his brother took his right
as first-born in the tribe, his eminence and wealth.  Yet was he

(ll. 340-253) And after them with thronging bands the sons of
Simeon marched, the third division.  Banners waved above the
marching warriors; with flashing spears the battle troop pressed
on.  Over the ocean's bosom dawn arose, God's beacon, radiant
morning.  The multitude went forth, the host advanced, one
mail-clad band behind another.  And one man only led this mighty
folk, tribe after tribe, upon their march beneath the pillar of
cloud, whereby he won renown.  And each observed the right of
nations and the rank of earls, as Moses gave them bidding.

(ll. 253-361) One father had they all, one of the patriarchs, a
well-loved leader, wise of heart and dear unto his kinsmen, who
held the landright and begat a line of valiant men, the tribe of
Israel, a holy race, God's own peculiar people.  So ancient
writers tell us in their wisdom, who best have known the lineage
of men, their kinship and descent.

(ll. 362-376) Noah, the great prince, sailed over unknown waters,
deepest of floods that ever came on earth, and his three sons
with him.  Within his heart he cherished holy faith.  Wherefore
he steered across the oceanstreams the richest treasure whereof I
ever heard.  To save the life of all the tribes of earth the wise
sea-prince had numbered out a lasting remnant, a first
generation, male and female, of every living kind that brought
forth offspring, more various than men now know.  And likewise in
the bosom of their ship they bore the seed of every growing thing
that men enjoy beneath the heavens.

(ll. 377-396) Now Abraham's father, as the wise men tell us, was
ninth from Noah in lineage and descent.  This is the Abraham the
God of angels named with a name, and gave the holy tribes into
his keeping, far and near, and made him mighty over nations.  He
lived in exile.  Thereafter, at the Holy One's behest, he took
the lad, most dear of all to him, and they two, son and father,
climbed together a high land unto the hill of Sion.  And there,
so men have heard, they found a covenant and holy pledge, and saw
God's glory.  And there, in after years, the son of David, the
great king, the wisest of all earthly princes, according to the
teaching of the prophets, built a temple unto God, a holy fane,
the holiest and highest and most famous among men, the greatest
and most splendid of all temples the sons of men have built upon
the earth.

(ll. 397-416) Abraham took Isaac, his son, and went to the place
appointed, and kindled the altar flame.  The first of murderers
was not more doomed.  As a bequest to men he would have
sacrificed his well-loved son with fire and flame, his only heir
on earth, the best of children, the lasting hope and comfort of
his life, for which he long had waited.  The farfamed man laid
hand upon the lad and drew his ancient sword (loud rang the
blade), and showed he held his son's life not more dear than to
obey the King of heaven.  Up rose the earl.  He would have slain
his son, and put the lad to death with blood-red blade, if God
had not withheld him.  The Glorious Father would not take his son
in holy sacrifice, but laid His hand upon him.  And out of heaven
a restraining Voice, a Voice of glory, spake, and said to him:

(ll. 417-445) "Abraham!  Put not the lad, thy son, to death, nor
slay him with the sword!  The Lord of all hath proven thee, and
truth is known, that thou hast kept the covenant with God, a
faithful compact.  And that shall be to thee an everlasting peace
through all the days of thy life for ever.  Doth the son of man
require a greater pledge?  Heaven and earth may not cover the
words of His glory, which are ampler and greater than the regions
of earth may include, the orb of the world, and the heavens
above, the ocean depths and the murmuring air.  The King of
angels and Wielder of fates, Lord oi hosts, Dispenser of victory,
sweareth an oath by His life, that men on earth with all their
wisdom shall never know the number of thy tribe and kinsmen,
shield-bearing men, to tell it truly, except someone shall grow
so wise of heart that he alone may number all the stones on earth
and stars in heaven, sand of the sea-dunes, and salt waves of the
sea.  But thy tribe, the best of peoples, free-born of their
fathers, shall dwell in the land of Canaan between the two seas
even unto the nations of Egypt...."

((LACUNA -- One or two leaves missing.))


((Missing in Lacuna))


(ll. 446-457) Then all that folk was smitten with terror; fear of
the flood fell on their wretched hearts.  The great sea
threatened death.  The sloping hills were soaked with blood; the
sea spewed gore.  In the deep was uproar, the waves were filled
with weapons; a death-mist rose.  The Egyptians turned and fled
away in fear, perceiving their peril.  They were shaken with
horror and fain to reach their homes.  Their boasting was
humbled.  The dreadful rushing sea swept over them.  Nor did any
of that army come ever again to their homes, but Fate cut off
retreat and locked them in the sea.

(ll. 457-470) Where before lay open roads the ocean raged.  The
host was overwhelmed.  The seas flowed forth; an uproar rose to
heaven, a moan of mighty legions.  There rose a great cry of the
doomed, and over them the air grew dark.  Blood dyed the deep. 
The walls of water were shattered; the greatest of sea-deaths
lashed the heavens.  Brave princes died in throngs.  At the sea's
end hope of return had vanished away.  War shields flashed.  The
wall of water, the mighty sea-stream, rushed over the heroes. 
The multitude was fettered fast in death, deprived of escape,
cunningly bound.  The ocean-sands awaited the doom ordained when
the flowing billows, the ice-cold, wandering sea with its salt
waves, a naked messenger of ill, a hostile warrior smiting down
its foes, should come again to seek its ancient bed.

(ll. 470-491) The blue air was defiled with blood.  The roaring
ocean menaced the march of the seamen with terror of death, till
the Just God swept the warriors away by Moses' hand.  The flood
foamed, hunting them afar, bearing them off in its deadly
embrace.  The doomed men died.  The sea fell on the land; the
skies were shaken.  The watery ramparts crumbled, the great waves
broke, the towering walls of water melted away, when the Mighty
Lord of heaven with holy hand smote the warriors and that haughty
race.  They could not check the onrush of the sea, nor the fury
of the ocean-flood, but it destroyed the multitude in shrieking
terror.  The raging ocean rose on high; its waters passed over
them.  A madness of fear was upon them; deathwounds bled.  The
high walls, fashioned by the hand of God, fell in upon the
marching army.

(ll. 491-515) With ancient sword the foamy-bosomed ocean smote
down the watery wall, the unprotecting ramparts, and at the blow
of death the great host fell asleep, a sinful throng.  Fast shut
in they lost their lives, an army pale with terror of the flood,
when the brown waste of waters, the raging waves, broke over
them.  The flower of Egypt perished when the host of Pharaoh, a
mighty multitude, was drowned.  The foe of God discovered as he
sank that the Lord of the ocean-floods was mightier than he, and,
terrible in wrath, with deadly power would end the battle.  The
Egyptians won a bitter recompense for that day's work.  Never
came any survivor of all that countless host unto his home again
to tell of his journey or rehearse to the wives of heroes,
throughout the cities, the grievous tidings, the death of their
treasure-wardens; but a mighty sea-death came upon them all and
swallowed their legions, and slew their heralds, and humbled
their boasting.  For they had striven against God!

(ll. 516-531) Then on the shore of the sea Moses, the
noble-hearted, preached to the Israelites, in holy words, eternal
wisdom and enduring counsels.  They name it the day's work!  And
still men find in Scripture every law which God, in words of
truth, gave Moses on that journey.  If life's interpreter, the
radiant soul within the breast, will unlock with the keys of the
spirit this lasting good, that which is dark shall be made clear,
and counsel shall go forth.  It hath the words of wisdom in its
keeping, earnestly teaching the heart, that we may not lack the
fellowship of God, or mercy of our Lord.  He giveth us, as
learned writers say, the better and more lasting joys of heaven.

(ll. 531-547) This earthly joy is fleeting, cursed with sin,
apportioned unto exiles, a little time of wretched waiting. 
Homeless we tarry at this inn with sorrow, mourning in spirit,
mindful of the house of pain beneath the earth wherein are fire
and the worm, the pit of every evil ever open.  So now
arch-sinners win old age or early death; then cometh the Day of
Judgment, the greatest of all glories in the world, a day of
wrath upon the deeds of men.  The Lord Himself, in the assembly,
shall judge the multitude.  Then shall He lead the souls of the
righteous, blessed spirits, to heaven above, wherein are light
and life and joy of bliss.  In blessedness that host shall praise
the Lord of hosts, the King of glory, for ever and for ever.

(ll. 548-552) So spake the mildest of men, in a loud voice,
mindful of counsel, and made great in strength.  In silence the
host awaited his fixed will, perceiving the wonder, the hero's
words of goodly wisdom.  And he spalre unto the throng and said:

(ll. 553-563) "Mighty is this multitude and great our Leader, a
strong Support who governeth our march.  He hath given the tribes
of Canaan into our hands, their cities and treasure, and
wide-stretching realms.  If ye will keep His holy precepts, the
Lord of angels will fulfil the promise which He sware to our
forefathers, in days of old -- that ye shall vanquish every foe
and hold in victory the banquet hails of heroes between the two
seas.  Great shall be your fortune!"

(ll. 564-579) And at these words the host was glad.  The trumpets
sang their song of triumph, and banners tossed to strains of
joyous music.  The folk had reached the land.  The pillar of
glory had led the host, the holy legions, under God's sheltering
hand.  They rejoiced that their lives were saved from the clutch
of the foe, though boldly had those warnors ventured under the
roof of the waves.  They beheld the walls upstanding.  All the
seas seemed bloody unto them through which they bore their
armour.  They rejoiced with a song of battle that they were safe. 
The army legions lifted up their voice and praised the Lord for
that great work.  The mighty host in chorus, man and maiden, sang
psalms and battle anthems, with reverent voices chanting all
these wonders.

(ll. 580-590) Then could be seen on the shore of the sea African
maidens adorned with gold.  They raised their hands in thanks for
their deliverance; they were blithe beholding their safety; they
took heed of the spoils; their bonds were broken.  On the
sea-shore they dealt out the booty among the standards, ancient
treasure and raiment and shields.  They divided the gold and the
woven cloth, the treasure of Joseph, the riches of men.  But
their foes, the greatest of armies, lay still in that place of