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The first three he describes in the hymn quoted above written while Vologeses was still alive.

As the verse states, Ephrem did not live in easy times in Nisibis.

Sometime in 364 he settled as a solitary ascetic on Mount Edessa, at Edessa (what is now Urfa) 100 miles east of his home.

"The soul is your bride, the body is your bridal chamber..." In the time before monks and monasteries, many devout Christians drawn to a religious life dedicated themselves as ihidaya (single and single-minded followers of Christ).

Jovian not only gave him the city but agreed to force the Christians to leave Nisibis.

Probably in his fifties or sixties at that time, Ephrem was one of the refugees who fled the city in 363.

Let the city and fort and building And houses be yielded to the king; Our goods and our gold let us leave; So we part not from our faith!

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"He Who created two great lights, chose for Himself these three Lights, and set them in the three dark seasons of siege that have been." Ephrem served as teacher, and possibly deacon, under four bishops of Nisibis, Jacob, Babu, Vologeses, and Abraham.

Nisibis, a target of Shapur II, the King of Persia, was besieged by him three times.

During the third siege in in 350, Shapur's engineers turned the river out of its course in order to flood the city as Ephrem describes (speaking as Nisibis): "All kinds of storms trouble me -- and you have been kinder to the Ark: only waves surrounded it, but ramps and weapons and waves surround me... You gave the Ark rest on the haven of a mountain, give me rest in the haven of my walls." The flood, however, turned the tide against Shapur.

When he tried to invade he found his army obstructed by the very waters and ruin he had caused.

The defenders of the city, including Ephrem, took advantage of the chaos to ambush the invaders and drive them out.


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