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Title: Old Testament Legends - being stories out of some of the less-known apochryphal books of the old testament
Author: James, M. R. (Montague Rhodes), 1862-1936
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                         OLD TESTAMENT LEGENDS
      BEING STORIES OUT OF SOME OF THE LESS-KNOWN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS
                          OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
                                   BY
                          M. R. JAMES, LITT.D.
                  PROVOST OF KING'S COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE

                       WITH TEN ILLUSTRATIONS BY
                               H. J. FORD
                        LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO.
                       39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON
                     NEW YORK, BOMBAY, AND CALCUTTA
                                  1913
                          All rights reserved



PREFACE

If you read the title-page of this book--a thing which young persons
very seldom do--you will see that it (the book) contains stories
taken "out of some of the less-known apocryphal books of the Old
Testament." You will very possibly not understand what that means;
but if you will read this preface--another thing which young persons
do even seldomer than they read a title-page--you will find the best
explanation that I can give.

I have to begin by talking about the word apocryphal. The newspapers
are fond of saying that a statement made by the Prime Minister (or
the leader of the Opposition, according to which side in politics the
newspaper takes) is apocryphal. By this, the newspaper means to say
that the statement was untrue. Or, you will read that someone
obtained money or goods by saying that he possessed large estates
abroad; and that the estates turned out to be apocryphal. By this is
meant that they did not exist. But when you read of a book being
apocryphal, something rather different is meant: either that it is
"spurious," i.e. that it pretends to be written by someone who did
not write it; or that what is in it is fabulous and untrue, like the
stories of King Arthur; or both.

Now this word apocryphal is specially used, and perhaps most often
used, in connection with the Bible. Probably you have at least heard
of something called "the Apocrypha," even if you have not read it,
and even if you have mixed it up in your mind with another word,
Apocalypse, which has nothing whatever to do with it. Well, what is
"the Apocrypha"? It is to be found in many Bibles, bound up between
the Old and the New Testaments. It is a set of books, looking just
like the other books of the Bible, with chapters and verses. Some of
it is read in church as weekday lessons in the months of October and
November, as you may see by looking at the Table of Lessons in any
Prayer Book. Now, are all these books of "the Apocrypha" fabulous or
spurious? No. Some of them are. The Second Book of Esdras (that is,
Ezra) was not written by Ezra; The Book of Baruch (the companion of
the prophet Jeremiah) was not written by Baruch; The Wisdom of
Solomon was not written by Solomon. These and some others are
spurious. Also, the books of Tobit and of Judith are fabulous
stories. On the other hand, the book Ecclesiasticus was really
written by Sirach (who is mentioned in the Preface), and The First
Book of Maccabees is a true and valuable history.

Then why, if apocryphal means fabulous or spurious, or both, are
these books, some of which are true and genuine, lumped all together
and called "Apocrypha"? I am sorry to disappoint you, but I cannot go
through the whole history. It is long, it is difficult, and though it
interests me, I am inclined to think it would not interest you unless
I spread it over a great many pages, and filled it out with stories;
and for this I have no time. Let me tell you what strikes me as being
the important thing to bear in mind. Nearly all of these books have
been at some time or another read in church and treated as Scripture.
Nearly all of them are now treated as Scripture by the Roman Church,
but not by most of the Protestant, or Reformed, Churches. They are on
the borderland of the Bible. From having been so long kept together
in a group by themselves, they have come to be thought of as being
all of one uniform kind. But they are not so; they are of very
different sorts and merits.

Let us keep the old name for them and call them "the Apocrypha." It
will be convenient to do so, because I have now to speak of other
apocryphal books, which have never been bound up in our Bibles, but
in older times, before Bibles were printed, were (some of them at
least) read in churches and thought to be sacred books. There are a
great many of these: perhaps, if they were all put together, they
would make up a volume as large as the Old Testament itself; but at
present there is no book in which they are all printed together. Some
are stories, others are visions like those in the Revelation of St.
John, others are psalms and prophecies. But all of them, I think, may
fairly be called either fabulous or spurious, or both.

I can give you an example from the Bible itself to show that there
were such books as long ago as the times of the Apostles, and that
they were read and valued. In the 9th verse of the Epistle of Jude,
you read something very curious about Satan contending with Michael
about the body of Moses. Ancient writers whom we may trust tell us
that this is taken from a book called The Assumption of Moses (that
is, the story of Moses being taken up out of this world at the end of
his life).

We have pieces of this book still, but we have not got the whole
story of the dispute between Satan and Michael. However, we know that
it was represented as having taken place when Michael and the other
angels were burying the body of Moses among the mountains in a place
which was kept secret from all men, and that Satan said that though
the soul of Moses might belong to God, the body belonged to him; and,
moreover, that Moses was a murderer, because, long before, he had
killed an Egyptian (as we read in Exodus ii. 12); whereupon Michael
answered Satan in the words, "The Lord rebuke thee," and Satan fled.
That is one example. Another is in the 14th verse of the same
Epistle, where it is said that Enoch, the seventh from Adam,
prophesied of the coming of the Lord to judge sinners. This verse is
taken out of a long book of prophecies and visions called The Book of
Enoch, which still exists, and we may read the very words in it.

In this present book, I am only concerned with the apocryphal
stories; with the prophecies and visions and psalms I have nothing to
do. Now, how and why did the stories come to be written?

It is likely enough that after reading some history in the Bible you
may have wondered whether there was anything more to be known about
the people of whom it told you. You would have liked to find out what
happened to Adam, or Joseph, or David, besides the things which are
written in the Bible. It was just so in ancient times --the times
when our Lord was on earth, and even long before that. The Jews
naturally thought a great deal about the people who are mentioned in
the Old Testament; and just as there are a great many stories about
the heroes of English history--such as that of King Alfred and the
cakes--which, we are told now, are not true, so stories grew up about
the great men of the Bible. Perhaps they were invented, some of them,
in answer to questions which had been asked. Some of them were
certainly made up in order to explain parts of the Bible which were
difficult to understand. I will give an example of this. In the Book
of Genesis (iv. 23, 24) you are told how the patriarch Lamech spoke
to his wives and said, "I have slain a man to my wounding, and a
young man to my hurt." Nothing is said in explanation of this; we are
not told whom Lamech had killed. So a story was made up--no one knows
when--which gives this explanation: Lamech was blind, and he used to
amuse himself by shooting birds and beasts with bow and arrow. When
he went out shooting, he used to take with him his young nephew
Tubal; and Tubal used to spy the game for him and guide his hands
that he might aim his arrow right. One day, when they were out
together, Tubal saw, as he thought, a beast moving in the thicket;
and he told Lamech, and made him aim at it, and Lamech's arrow smote
the beast and killed it. But when Tubal ran to see what kind of beast
it was, he found that it was not a wild beast at all. It was his
ancestor Gain. For after Gain had killed Abel, and God had pronounced
a curse upon him, he wandered about the earth, never able to remain
in one place; and a great horn grew out of his head, and his body was
covered with hair; so that Tubal, seeing him in the distance among
the trunks of the trees and the brushwood, was deceived, and mistook
him for a beast of chase. But when Tubal saw what had happened, he
was terrified, and ran back to Lamech, crying out, "You have slain
our forefather Cain!" And Lamech also was struck with horror, and
raised his hands and smote them together with a mighty blow. And in
so doing he struck the head of Tubal with his full strength, and
Tubal fell down dead. Then Lamech returned to his house, and spoke to
his wives the words that are written in the Book of Genesis. This
story, a very ancient one, as I said, was invented by the Jews to
explain the difficult passage in Genesis; and the early Christian
writers learnt it from the Jews, and it passed into many commentaries
which were written in later times; so that you may still see
representations of it carved in stone in churches, both in England
and elsewhere. In England it may be seen on the inside of the stone
roof of Norwich Cathedral, and on the west front of Wells Cathedral;
but you have to look carefully before you can find it.

There are other stories which pretend to explain texts that do not
seem so difficult. For instance, in the 18th Psalm there is a verse,
"Thou hast made room enough under me for to go." And about this there
is a long tale of how King David went to fight the giant Ishbi-benob,
and was nearly killed by him; for the giant took David and cast him
to the ground, and put a heavy wine-press upon him, which would have
crushed him, but that the earth beneath him suddenly became soft and
yielded room for his body, and thus room was made under him.

Then again, there are others which are like parables.

At this point I will put in two short stories of the parable-kind,
neither of which I think you are likely to have seen. One of them is
certainly taken from an apocryphal book which is lost; and the other
I suspect to have been taken either from the same book or from one
like it.

First I will tell the one about the source of which I am not certain.

In the days of King Hezekiah there was in Israel a rich man who was a
miser and gave nothing to the poor. But one day it happened that he
took up the book of the proverbs of King Solomon; and his eye fell
upon the place where it is said, "He that hath pity upon the poor,
lendeth unto the Lord; and look what he layeth out, it shall be paid
him again." "So," thought he to himself, "this is a good security!"
And forthwith he sold all that he had, and distributed the price
among the poor, keeping for himself only two pieces of money. But, to
his disappointment, he did not only become poor himself by this
means, but he remained poor. The money he had given away did not come
back, and no one else would give him any. So he was reduced to
despair, and said, "I will go straight to Jerusalem, and demand of
God why He has deceived me, and induced me to give away all my
possessions by promises that are false." And he set forth. And on his
way, not far from Jerusalem, he saw two men fighting, and said to
them, "Brethren, what is your quarrel?" And one said, "We were
journeying together, and I saw a shining stone lying in the road, and
pointed it out to this man; and because he was swifter on his feet
than I, he got to it first. And now he says he will keep it for
himself, but I say it belongs to me, for I saw it first." Then said
the traveller, "What is the value of the stone?" They said, "We do
not know." And he said, "Will you take these two pieces of money for
it and let me have it?" And to this they consented. So when the man
got to Jerusalem, he took the stone to a jeweller and showed it to
him; and no sooner had the jeweller seen it than he fell on his face
and gave thanks to God. And then he said to the man, "Where did you
find this? For three whole years all Jerusalem has been ransacked
for this stone. Go quickly to the High Priest and give it to him, and
see what he will give you!" At the same hour there came an angel to
the High Priest, and said to him, "Within a few moments there will
come to you a man bringing the gem which three years ago was lost out
of the breastplate of Aaron the priest. Receive it at his hands, and
give him for it a great sum of gold; and when you have given it,
smite him lightly upon the cheek and say, 'Be not distrustful in thy
heart, and slow to believe the word which says, 'He that hath pity
upon the poor, lendeth unto the Lord.' For thus saith the Lord,
'Have I not now in this present world repaid thee many times over that
which thou didst lend to Me? And, if thou have faith, thou shalt in
the world to come receive a recompense yet many times greater than
this.'" And when the man came, the High Priest did and said as he had
been commanded; and the man's heart was moved, and he left in the
temple all that great sum which had been given him, and for the rest
of his life put his whole trust in the promises of God.

The other short story is taken out of an apocryphal book under the
name of the prophet Ezekiel, and is a parable of the soul and the
body of man at the day of judgment.

There was a certain king, it says, who made a marriage feast for his
eldest son, and invited all his soldiers to his palace to share it.
Now every one of his subjects was a soldier and served in his army,
except only two, one of whom was blind and the other lame; and these
two were not invited to the feast, but remained in their huts--which
were near to one another--very angry and disappointed. After a while
the blind man called to the lame man, "It is a shame that we are not
sitting down to the feast along with the rest! I should like to treat
the king as ill as he has treated us." "How can we?" said the lame
man. "You know his garden," said the other; "let us go and spoil it!"
"All very well," said the lame man, "but how are we to get there?
I cannot walk." "Neither can I see; but we will contrive a way." So
they devised a plan. The lame man plucked the grass that he could
reach, and plaited it into a string, and threw one end to the blind
man, who guided himself by it to the lame man. Then he took the lame
man on his back, and carried him to the king's garden, and there they
did all the mischief they could, trampling down and tearing up plants
and flowers; and they went back to their houses and remained there.
When the rest of the people came out from the banquet into the
garden, they were appalled at the sight of the damage, and were much
perplexed, saying, "Were not all the soldiers of the king bidden to
the feast? and is not every man in the kingdom a soldier? Whence
then are these tracks in the garden, and who has wrought this
mischief?" After a while the king bethought him of the blind and the
lame man; they were brought before him, and he said to the blind man,
"Have you been into my garden?" He answered, "Alas, sire! you see my
infirmity, and that I have no eyes wherewith to find my way!" Then
said the king to the lame man, "And you, have you been into my garden?"
And he answered, "Surely my lord has forgotten my infirmity; it
cannot be that he desires to hurt my feelings by mocking me!" So the
king was perplexed, and went apart to consider how the two could have
contrived the business--for he was sure that they were guilty. At
last a thought came to him, and he set the lame man on the blind
man's shoulders, and scourged them both together. Then indeed did
they cry out, and the lame said to the blind, "Did you not lend me
your feet to take me to the king's garden?" And the blind to the
lame, "Did you not lend me your eyes to show me the way?" And in like
manner at the judgment the soul will say to the body, "I could not
have sinned if you had not given me the limbs with which I did evil."
And the body to the soul, "But it was you who thought of the evil
which I carried out." Thus one will try to throw the blame on the
other; but is either of them free from guilt?

Others of these apocryphal books are designed to show how important
some special virtue, or how dangerous some particular sin, may be.
Thus, there is a book called The Testaments (or Last Words) of the
Twelve Patriarchs, in which each of the twelve sons of Jacob, when he
comes to die, calls his children to him and tells them about his own
life, and warns them against his own besetting sin, or shows how he
has been helped by practising some good habit: Simeon speaks about
envy, Issachar about simplicity, Zebulun about kindness, and so on.
And many others there are which are merely, one would say, meant to
tell us more about the lives and deaths of the great men of the old
times than we can learn from the Bible.

Perhaps I have now said enough to show of what sort the tales are
that are told in this book--some of them told for the first time in
English. They are not true, but they are very old; some of them, I
think, are beautiful, and all of them seem to me interesting. In case
anyone should wish to know more about them, I will put down here the
names of the books from which I have taken them.

The first part of the story of Adam is shortened from Mr. S. G.
Malan's translation of The Book of Adam and Eve, and from Dillmann's
German translation of the same (Das christliche Adambuch des
Morgenlandes). The second part is from the Greek Revelation of Moses
(in Tischendorf's Apocalypses Apocryphae), and from the Latin Life of
Adam, edited by W. Meyer.

The first part of the story of Abraham is from The Apocalypse of
Abraham, translated from Slavonic by Professor N. Bonwetsch; the
second part is from The Testament of Abraham, edited by me in Texts
and Studies.

The story of Aseneth is from the Greek History of Aseneth, edited by
Batiffol in Studia Patristica.

The story of Job is taken from The Testament of Job in my Apocrypha
Anecdota (ii).

That of Solomon is from The Testament of Solomon as printed by Migne
at the end of the works of Michael Psellus.

That of Baruch from The Rest of the Words of Baruch, edited by Dr. J.
Rendel Harris.

That of Ahikar principally from the French edition by the Abbe F.
Nau, with some few touches borrowed from that by Dr. J. Rendel
Harris.

One last word. Not all of the stories in this book are equally old.
The oldest is most likely that of Ahikar. Lately some pieces of it
have been discovered in Egypt in a very ancient copy. Next, probably,
comes the second part of the story of Adam. In each of the others
there are some parts which are derived from early Jewish tales, but
the books in which we have them now were put into their present shape
by Christians. Still, there is not one that is less than fifteen
hundred years old.


CONTENTS
PAGE
ADAM                                                                    1
THE DEATH OF ADAM AND EVE .    .    .                                15
ABRAHAM                                                          25
THE STORY OF ASENETH, JOSEPH'S WIFE         .                        49
JOB.    .       .       .       .       .       .                                  81
SOLOMON AND THE DEMONS. .                                             105
THE STORY OF EBEDMELECH THE     ETHIOPIAN,
AND OF THE  DEATH OF JEREMIAH   .                                     121
AHIKAR                                                          135



ILLUSTRATIONS
How SATAN DECEIVED EVE IN THE RIVER (see p. 10)  Frontispiece
THEN CAME ONE OF THE SERAPHIM AND BARE THE SOUL OF ADAM TO THE LAKE OF PURE WATER IN THE GARDEN         .        .        .        .    Facing p.    22
ABRAHAM AND THE BROKEN IDOLS    „                                            28
ASENETH DOING HOMAGE TO HER GODS         .      „                          53
"ASENETH, RISE UP" .        .        .        .        .        .       63
ASENETH FLIES  IN  HER CHARIOT FROM THE MEN
IN AMBUSH BY THE RIVER  „                                                  76
SATAN DEPARTS, VANQUISHED BY JOB AT LAST      . „                          94
JOB'S HAPPY DEATH     .        .        .        .        ,        .    102
EPHIPPAS   AND  THE   DEMON   OF  THE   RED   SEA
BRING THE GREAT PLLLAR TO SOLOMON .         .   ,,                        116
How AHIKAR OUTWITTED THE KING OF EGYPT    .     ,,                        152



OLD TESTAMENT LEGENDS

ADAM

When Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden, they were as
helpless as little children. They knew nothing of day or night, heat
or cold; they could not kindle a fire to warm themselves, nor till
the ground to grow food. They had as yet no clothes to wear and no
shelter against rain or sun. As long as they were in the garden, it
was always light and warm, and their bodies were so fashioned that
they had no need of food or sleep or of protection against the
burning of the sun; but since they had eaten of the Tree of
Knowledge, they had become like us. Moreover, all the beasts and
birds were friendly with them; but now they knew that it was not so,
and that they had no defence if any fierce animal chose to attack
them; and, more than all, they knew that they had a cruel enemy lying
in wait for them outside the garden, even Satan, who had hated them
from the first, and had brought about their fall by means of the
serpent. And so it was that when they came out of the gate of the
garden and saw the earth stretched out before them, covered with
rocks and sand, and found themselves in a strange land where there
was no one to guide them, they fell down on their faces, and became
as dead, because of the misery and sorrow which they felt. But God
looked upon them and sent His Word to raise them up and comfort them;
and showed them a place not very far from the garden where there was
a cave; and told them that they were to live there. Now this was the
cave which was afterwards called the Gave of Treasures.

When first they entered into the cave, they did nothing but weep and
lament: not only because they had lost the garden, but also because
for the first time the sky was hidden from them by the roof of the
cave; for as yet they had never been in any place where they could
not see it. But when the sun set and there was darkness outside the
cave as well as inside, they were frightened beyond measure; for they
said, "It is because of what we have done: the light is gone out of
the heavens, and will come back no more." Then the Word of God spake
to them and said, "Be comforted; it is only so for a few hours, and
the light will return to you." And they remained praying and weeping
in the cave until the darkness began to grow less. After that the sun
rose, and Adam went to the mouth of the cave, and it shone full upon
him, and he felt the burning heat of it on his body for the first
time, and thought that it was God who had come to afflict and punish
him; and he beat upon his breast and prayed for mercy. But God said,
"This sun is not God; it is created to give light to the world, and
every day it will rise in like manner, and travel over the heavens
and set, as you have seen it. _I_ am God, who comforted you in the
night."

Then Adam and Eve took courage, and came out of the cave, and thought
they would go towards the garden; and when they came near to the gate
by which they had been driven out of it, they met the serpent. Now
before it tempted Eve and became accursed, the serpent had been the
most beautiful of all the creatures. Its head was of all the colours
of the most beautiful jewels; it had eyes like emeralds, and a
melodious voice; it had slender and graceful legs, and it fed on
perfumed flowers and delicious fruits. Now it was loathsome to look
upon; it wriggled on its belly in the dust, and all creatures spurned
and hated it. And when it saw Eve it was enraged to think of the
curse that had come upon it through her, and it raised itself up and
darted at her, and its eyes became blood-red with anger. Then Adam,
who had nothing in his hand wherewith to defend Eve, ran and caught
it by the tail, but it turned upon him and coiled about him and Eve
with its body and began to crush them; and it said, "It is because of
you that I am compelled to trail in the dust and have lost my
beauty." And they cried out for fear. But God sent an angel who
caught hold of the serpent and loosed them, and smote the serpent
with dumbness, so that thereafter it could only hiss. And a great
wind came and took it up, and cast it away upon the seashore of
India.

And when Adam and Eve had a little recovered themselves from their
fear, they went on towards the garden; but at the gate of it there
stood a great cherub holding a sword of fire; and when they were able
to look upon his face, they saw that he was angry and that he frowned
upon them, and raised his sword as if he would smite them with it;
but he said nothing. So they were in great fear, and turned from him
and went back in great sorrow of heart, wandering they knew not
whither, until they found themselves standing on the top of a rock,
and before their feet was a precipice. And Adam was so miserable that
he desired to live no longer; and he cast himself down from the top
of the rock, and lay on the ground below without moving; and Eve
thought that he was dead, and said, "I will not live after him; it is
through my fault that all these evils have come upon him." And she
also threw herself down from the top of the rock; but though both of
them were torn and bruised, they were not wounded to death. And after
a long time they came to themselves.

Then they bethought them that they had done wrong in trying to put an
end to their own lives before it pleased God to set them free from
this world. Therefore Adam took stones and piled them up in the shape
of an altar, and then they gathered leaves from the trees and wiped
off the blood that had been spilt upon the face of the rock, and
gathered up the dust that was mingled with their blood and laid it
upon the altar, and prayed to God to forgive their trespass. And this
was the first offering that they made to God. And God looked upon
them with pity and forgave them, and said, "As you have shed your
blood, so after five thousand and five hundred years have passed will
I take your flesh upon Me and shed My blood for you and for your
children; and it shall have power to quench the flame of the sword
which is in the hand of the angel, and you shall enter again into the
garden, and dwell there until the time when I shall make a new heaven
and a new earth."

But when Satan saw that God had pity upon Adam and Eve and accepted
their humble offering--for he was all this time keeping watch to see
what would become of them--he was filled with dismay and hate, and
began to contrive means by which he might lead them astray and put an
end to them; for he thought, "If these creatures were destroyed,
the earth would remain to me and to my hosts, and I should reign over
it alone." He called therefore for some of his host, and made them
appear like angels of light. And when they were all disguised in this
fashion, they rose into the air and flew towards the cave, from which
Adam and Eve were just coming out, meaning to go once again towards
the garden. When they caught sight of these bright ones in the air,
they stopped and raised their hands towards them, thinking that they
were angels coming to them with a message. Satan called to Adam,
"Adam, we are angels come from God; He has sent us to bring you to
the lake of pure water that is on the north side of Eden, that you
may wash yourselves in it and be cleansed from your sin, and return
once more to the garden. Come therefore and follow us." And they
turned and began flying towards the north; but Adam and Eve were glad
beyond measure, and followed the troop of angels as quickly as they
could, till they came to the mountain on the north side of Eden which
overhung the lake. Then Satan lighted on the ground, and guided them
to the top of the mountain, which was very steep. And when they were
at the summit, they stood for a while and looked down upon the waters
of the lake; and while they were doing so, Satan vanished away
silently, and all his host with him; so that when Adam and Eve looked
round, they found themselves left alone and in great peril. And they
saw that they had been brought into this danger by Satan, and that he
had deceived them once again. And they cried aloud for help.

Then God had pity on them, and commanded the angels Sariel and
Salathiel to bear them in their arms and carry them back to their
cave. And when they were come there, Adam prayed to God that, if they
might not be permitted to go into the garden any more, He would at
least give them something for a remembrance of it to comfort them. So
God commanded the archangel Michael to go as far as the Sea of India,
and fetch thence some gold, and dip it in the water that flows from
under the Tree of Life, and give it to Adam. Likewise He commanded
Gabriel to speak to the cherub that kept the gate of the garden, and
go in and fetch some frankincense; and Raphael to bring myrrh also
from the garden. And they did so. And Michael brought seventy rods of
gold, and Gabriel twelve pounds weight of frankincense, and Raphael
three pounds of myrrh; and these were all laid up in the cave where
Adam and Eve lived: wherefore it was called the Gave of Treasures.
And when the appointed time was fulfilled, and the Word took upon Him
the flesh of the sons of Adam, three kings came from the East to do
Him honour, and offered to Him that same gold and frankincense and
myrrh, which had come down to them through many generations.

After some days, Adam and Eve made a vow that they would go, one of
them to the river Tigris and the other to the river Euphrates, and
would wade into the water up to the neck, and stand there for forty
whole days and nights, praying earnestly that they might be forgiven;
for even yet they went on hoping that, if they accomplished some
great act of repentance, they might be permitted to return into Eden.
They separated, therefore, and stood in the water of the river,
fasting and praying. But Satan suspected that they had made such a
vow, and it frightened him, for he did not feel sure that God would
not change His purpose and forgive them; and he said to himself, "I
will take care that they shall not keep their vow." Accordingly, on
the thirty-fifth day, as Eve stood praying in the water, she heard a
voice as of an angel praising God, and she looked and saw one in
bright raiment coming to her, and he called to her and said, "God has
forgiven Adam! All is well. I have just now brought the good tidings
to Adam, and he bade me come and tell you; and lest you should doubt
of the truth, he said, 'Remind her of the sign which was given to us
in the cave: how the angels brought the gold and laid it on the
south side, and the incense on the east, and the myrrh on the west.'"
Then Eve was sure that the messenger spoke true, and she rejoiced
greatly, and came, as well as she could, out of the water, and
followed him. But when they came in sight of the river Euphrates, she
saw Adam still standing in the water praying, and she knew that she
had been deceived; and at that moment Satan vanished away, and Eve
fell upon the ground, for she was stiff with the cold, and weak with
fasting. As for Adam, when he saw her, he cried out and smote upon
his breast, and sank down into the water, and would have perished but
that God sent His angel and drew him up out of the water. And he
showed Adam that he could not by these means gain admittance to the
garden before the time appointed was fulfilled.

After these things God showed Adam and Eve the things that were
necessary for their life. For as yet they had eaten nothing since
they came out of the garden; because the food which they had when
they were there was heavenly food, and it sustained them through all
these many days. Neither had they any clothes. Therefore God told
them to go to the seashore, and there they should find the skins of
some sheep whose flesh had been devoured by lions, and these skins
they should take and make them into raiment. But Satan heard the
words of God, and immediately went to the place where the skins were,
with intent to throw them into the sea, or burn them with fire; only,
just as he was about to seize them, God spake a word, and Satan was
bound there immovable, in his own hideous form. And when Adam and Eve
came to the place, they saw him crouching beside the skins; and they
were afraid at the horrible look of him. Then the Word came to them,
saying, "This is he who promised to make you as gods. What have you
gained, think you, by hearkening to his words?" And Satan was
cowed, and fled away in shame.

Adam and Eve therefore took the sheep-skins, and there came an angel
who showed them how to sew them together with palm-thorns and sinews,
and they made them into raiment.

Again, God showed them a land where corn was growing, and told them
how they might use it for bread; for it was ripe, and they gathered
the ears and made an offering of the first ears. And Satan came and
burnt part of the corn; but the angels drove him away.

Many other times also did Satan try to destroy Adam and Eve, coming
to them disguised as an angel and enticing them into the wilderness;
and again, when they were sleeping on the side of a mountain outside
their cave, he loosened a great rock above them that it might fall
and crush them; but the angels of God caught it and fixed it like a
roof over the heads of Adam and Eve, and when they awoke they were
astonished. And once he fell upon Adam and smote him in the side with
a sharp stone so that he almost slew him. Nevertheless, in all these
perils Adam and Eve put their trust in God, and He protected them and
healed them. And after a time Satan perceived that he would not be
able to destroy them by injuring their bodies, and that they would
not listen to him when he tempted them to disobey God. So Satan's war
against Adam was defeated.

This is the first part of the story of Adam, as it is told in an old
book called The Conflict of Adam and Eve. It is only part of the
story; I have left out a great deal. The second part of the story is
taken from a Greek book called The Revelation of Moses, and a Latin
one called The Life of Adam and Eve. It tells how Adam died and was
buried.



THE DEATH OF ADAM AND EVE

Adam lived for 930 years; and there were born to him thirty sons and
thirty daughters. And when he was 930 years old he fell sick, and
sent for all his children, and for their children also, saying, "Come
and let me see you before I die." They all gathered together
therefore at the door of his dwelling, saving Gain, who was a
wanderer upon the face of the earth; but Seth was the eldest of those
that came, and he was the most beloved son of Adam and Eve.

And Seth said to his father, "Father, what is the matter with you?"
And Adam answered, "Great pain and sickness is upon me." And his
children said, "What mean you by pain and sickness?" For as yet no
one had died upon the earth except Abel, whom Gain slew. Then said
Seth, "Father, is it because you long after the garden and desire the
fruit of it? If it be so, command me, and I will go to the gate, and
cast dust upon my head, and weep and pray; and God will send His
angel, and it may be He will suffer me to bring you some of the fruit
of the garden, and you shall eat it and recover." Eve also wept and
said, "My lord Adam, give me the half of your disease, and let me
bear it for you; because it is through my fault that this evil has
come upon you." Then said Adam, "I will tell you what you shall do,
even you and my son Seth: you shall go to the garden and pray there
as you have said, and ask the angel to give me some of the oil of
mercy that flows from the Tree of Life, and bring it to me that I may
anoint my body with it, and be eased from my pain."

So Eve and Seth departed and went towards the garden; and as they
were going through the woods, a wild beast leaped out and attacked
Seth. And Eve was terrified and cried out, "Alas! alas! what will
become of me at the last day? Surely all that have done evil will
curse me, saying, 'Woe unto Eve, because she kept not the
commandment of God!'" And she cried out upon the wild beast, "How
wast thou not afraid to fight against the image of God? How is thy
mouth opened against Him? Dost thou not remember that God put thee
in subjection to us?" And the beast spake with a man's voice and
said, "What have we to do with thy weeping and complaints? How was
it that thy mouth was opened to eat of the fruit? Accuse me not,
lest I begin to accuse thee." Then said Seth to the beast, "Shut thy
mouth: be silent: dare not to touch the image of God." And the beast
answered, "Thee will I obey, O Seth." And it fled and left him
wounded, and went back to its den.

So Eve and Seth went on to the garden and wept before the gate,
beseeching God to send them the oil of mercy for Adam. And God sent
Michael the archangel to them, who said, "Seth, thou man of God,
weary not thyself with making supplication for the oil of mercy, for
it cannot be given to thee now. But when the times are fulfilled,
then shall come One who shall anoint thy father with that oil, and he
shall rise up and return to the garden, he and all his seed; and the
evil heart shall be taken from them, and a new heart shall be given
them to understand that which is good, and God shall dwell in the
midst of them, and they shall be His people. But now go back to thy
father, for his end is near, even within three days, and tell him
these words; and watch what shall come to pass when he is taken from
thee." They returned therefore to Adam, and told him; and he groaned
and said, "Alas! O Eve, what is this that thou hast done, to bring
upon us the dominion of death? Now therefore call together our
children and our children's children, and tell them concerning our
sin, from first to last." So, when they were assembled, Eve spoke to
them, and told them the whole story of how Satan came to the serpent
and taunted it for paying homage to Adam and Eve, forasmuch as they
were neither so beautiful nor so wise as itself; and he persuaded the
serpent to let him speak through its mouth; and at the hour when the
angels go up to the heavens to worship God, the serpent slipped over
the wall and found Eve by the Tree of Knowledge; and of what happened
after that, until the time when they were cast out of the garden. And
when she ceased speaking, her children departed.

Then she went in to Adam, and said to him,

"How can I live when you are dead? and how long will it be before I
also die? Tell me." Adam answered, "Trouble not yourself; for you
will not tarry long after me, and I believe that the same grave will
hold both of us. But now, when I die, leave me alone, and let no one
touch me until the will of God is made known concerning me. For I am
sure that God will not forget me, but will visit the creature which
His hands have made. Now therefore go and pray to Him until I give up
my spirit to Him that gave it; for we know not how we shall meet Him,
whether He will yet be wroth with us, or whether He will turn and
have mercy upon us." She went out therefore and fell upon the ground
and prayed a long time.



THE DEATH OF ADAM AND EVE

And at last the Angel of Mankind came to her and said, "Rise up, Eve;
for Adam thy husband is departing out of this life, and is going to
meet Him that made him."

Eve therefore arose and looked up into the sky; and she saw a chariot
of light coming, drawn by four shining eagles, and angels on either
side escorting the chariot. And when it came above the place where
our father Adam lay, it stayed. And the angels came bearing censers,
and they stood about it and lighted their censers, and the smoke of
the incense rose up and hid the firmament; and the angels bowed and
worshipped, saying, "Holy One, have mercy, for he is Thine image and
the work of Thy hands."

Also Eve beheld two great and fearful ones standing in the heavens,
and she was afraid and called upon Seth, saying, "Rise up, O Seth,
and come to me, and behold that which no eye of man hath looked
upon." So he came to her, and she said, "Seest thou the seven heavens
open, and thy father Adam lying upon his face and the holy angels
interceding for him?" She said, moreover, "Who are the two dark ones
that stand praying for thy father?" And Seth answered, "They are the
Sun and the Moon, who are entreating the Most High for my father
Adam." And Eve said, "Where then is their light, and why is their
aspect black?" And he said, "They cannot shine in the presence of
the Light of all things: therefore is their light departed from
them."

Now as Seth was speaking to his mother, behold, the angels blew with
the trumpets, and fell on their faces, and cried with a loud voice,
"Blessed be the glory of the Lord over all His works; for He hath had
compassion upon Adam, the work of His hands." Then came one of the
Seraphim, having six wings, and caught up the soul of Adam and bare
it to the lake of pure water which is on the north side of Eden, and
washed it before the face of God. And the Most High commanded him to
deliver it unto Michael the archangel, that he should bear it into
Paradise until the day of the visitation of all things.

After that the holy archangel entreated the Most High concerning the
body of Adam. And God commanded all the angels to come before Him,
every one in his order; and they gathered themselves together,
bearing censers and trumpets and vials full of odours. And the Lord
of Hosts went up, and the great winds before Him, and the Cherubim
flying upon the winds, and the angels of heaven round about Him. And
they bore up the body of Adam and carried it into the garden. And all
the trees of the garden bowed and swayed and gave forth their odours.
And because of the greatness of that sight, and of the sweetness of
the odours of Paradise, all the sons of Adam, and all that were on
the earth, were cast into a deep sleep, saving Seth only.

Now as the body of Adam lay in Paradise, God said, "O Adam, why didst
thou transgress My commandment? For if thou hadst kept it, they that
persecute thee would not have rejoiced against thee. Nevertheless I
say unto thee, that hereafter I will turn their joy into sorrow, and
thy sorrow into joy."

Then the angels brought shrouds of silk and fine linen, and God
commanded Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael, and they wrapped up
the body of Adam therein, and anointed it with sweet odours. And the
Lord said, "Bring hither also the body of Abel." For since the day
when Gain slew him, the body of Abel had not been buried: because
Gain often sought to hide it, but the earth would not receive it,
until the dust that was first taken out of her and made into a body,
that is, the body of Adam, should be restored to her.

So the body of Abel was brought and wrapped in grave-clothes like
that of Adam; and they were both of them buried in the place from
which God took the dust when He formed Adam at the first, and the
angels dug the grave and covered it in.

And when this was done, God called to the body, saying, "Adam, Adam!"
And the body answered, "Here am I, Lord." And the Lord said, "I
said unto thee, 'Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return.'
Behold now I promise thee that in the last days I will raise thee up
yet again out of the dust, even thee and all thy seed with thee." And
God sealed the tomb that no man should touch it until six days were
fulfilled, and the rib which was taken out of Adam should be given
back to him.

After these things Eve awoke out of her sleep, and was troubled
because she knew not what had become of the body of Adam; and she
prayed, saying, "Lord, as Thou didst make me out of the flesh of
Adam, and as I was with him in the garden, and after we were cast out
I was never parted from him, so now, I beseech thee, suffer me to be
buried with him, and let no man part us asunder." And on the seventh
day after the death of Adam, Eve was thus praying; and when she had
ended her prayer, she looked up into heaven and smote her breast and
said, "Lord God of all things, receive my spirit." And so she gave up
her soul to God.

And immediately the angels came and took her body, and buried it in
the place where the bodies of Adam and Abel were laid.



ABRAHAM

Abraham was the son of Terah, and Terah was a maker of idols which he
sold to the people round about him. Now this is the story of how
Abraham came to believe in the true God; and in the ancient book the
story is put into the mouth of Abraham himself, and he tells it in
this way:

I was troubled in my mind because I desired to know who was in truth
the strongest of all the Gods. And one day when I was attending to
the gods of my father Terah, gods of wood and stone, gold and silver,
iron and brass, I went into the temple where they stood, and found
that one of them, the god named Marumath, who was carved out of
stone, had fallen over and was lying at the feet of the god Zucheus.
When I saw that, I was alarmed, and thought that I should never be
able to put him back in his place by myself, because he was so heavy;
so I went and told my father, and he came, and the two of us could
hardly manage to move him; but as we were doing so, the head of the
god broke off in my hands. At that my father said, "Abraham", and I
said, "Here am I, bring me the chisels out of the house." And
when I had done so, he fashioned another Marumath out of stone,
without a head, and fixed the head that had come off the first
Marumath upon it; and the rest of the old Marumath he broke in
pieces.

After that he made five more gods, and bade me take them and sell
them in the streets of the city; and I saddled the ass, and put them
upon it, and went to the river to sell them; and there I found
merchants coming from Fandana in Syria with camels, on their way to
Egypt to bring papyrus from the Nile. And as I was talking with them
one of their camels belched, and the donkey took fright and ran off,
and the gods fell off its back, and three of them were broken, and
only two remained whole. But when the Syrians saw what had happened,
they said, "Why did you not tell us that you had gods to sell? We
might have bought them before the donkey took fright, and they would
not have been destroyed; at least we will take the gods that remain,
and pay you the price of them all." And they did so; and the broken
gods I cast into the river Gur, and they sank and were seen no more.

But as I returned home, I was bewildered and divided in my mind. I
said to myself, "What an evil trade is this that my father
practises! Is not he in truth the god of his own gods which he makes
with his chisels and lathes and his skill? Ought they not rather to
worship him than he them? Surely it is all deceit. Look at Marumath,
who fell and could not get up again, and these five other gods which
could not punish the donkey for running away with them, nor keep
themselves from being broken and thrown into the river."

And as I was thinking of all these things, I arrived at my father's
house. Then I gave the ass his hay and water, and went in and gave
the price of the gods to my father Terah, and he was pleased and
said, "Blessed be thou of my gods: my labour has not been in vain."
But I said, "It is rather thou, father, that givest blessing to the
gods, for thou art their god; their own blessing is vain and their
help is naught: if they cannot help themselves, how should they help
thee or bless me?" But he was very angry with me for speaking
lightly of his gods.

Then I went out of the house, and after a while my father called me
and said, "Gather up the chips of the fig-wood wherewith I was
making gods before you came in, and see about preparing dinner."

And as I was doing so, I found a little god lying among the straw and
the rubbish, and on his forehead was written: "The god Barisat." So I
kept him, and did not tell my father; and when I had kindled the fire
to cook the dinner, and was going out to fetch the food, I set
Barisat down in front of the fire and said to him, "Barisat, take
care that the fire does not go out before I come back; and if it
does, blow upon it and revive it." Then I went out and did my errand,
and when I returned I found Barisat fallen over backwards, and his
feet were in the fire and were badly burnt; and I laughed to myself
and said, "You are in truth a good fireman and cook, Barisat." Just
then the fire caught upon his body and burnt him all up.

When the time was come, I brought food to my father and he ate, and I
gave him wine and milk and he drank, and rejoiced and praised his god
Marumath; and I said, "Father, you should not praise Marumath, but
rather Barisat, for he has done more for you: he has thrown himself
into the fire to cook your dinner." "And where is he now?" said my
father. "He has been burnt to ashes," I said, "in the heat of the
fire, and nothing but dust is left of him." And my father said,
"Great is the strength of Barisat! I will make another one to-day,
and he shall prepare my food for me to-morrow." Now when I heard my
father say these words, I laughed in myself, and yet I was troubled
and angry in my soul. And at last I answered and said, "Whichever of
these things you honour as a god, it is folly. The god Zucheus, who
is the god of my brother Nahor, is more honourable than your god
Marumath, for he is adorned with gold finely wrought, and when he is
old he will be fashioned over again; but if Marumath is broken or
injured he will not be renewed, for he is only of stone. And again
the god Joauv, who stands next to Zucheus, is more honourable than
Barisat, for he is covered with silver; but as for Barisat, you made
him yourself with your axe, and, look, he is fallen upon the earth,
and the fashion of his likeness is destroyed, and he is burnt to
ashes, and you say, 'To-day I will make another, and he shall
prepare my food to-morrow.'

"But I say to you, my father, the fire is mightier than all your gods
of gold and silver and stone and wood, for it can devour them all.
Yet I call not the fire god, for it is weaker than the water which
can subdue it. Yet again I call not the water god, for the earth
swallows it up. Neither call I the earth god, for it is subject to
men that till it, and to the sun that gives light to it. Neither call
I the sun god, for it is overcome by the darkness of night. But I say
that there is one true God who hath made all these things; who hath
made the heavens blue, and the sun golden, and the moon and stars
white and shining, and hath raised up the earth from among the
waters, and breathed into thee the breath of life, and hath sought me
out in the trouble of my soul; and would that He might reveal Himself
unto us!"

And as I was speaking these words to my father in the court of his
house, there came from heaven the voice of a Mighty One speaking out
of a cloud of fire, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And I said,
"Behold, here am I!" And He said, "In the thought of thy heart thou
seekest after the God of Gods and the Maker of all things: I am He.
Depart from thy father Terah and go out of his house, lest thou be
consumed in his wickedness." And I went out; and it came to pass, as
I came to the door of the house, that there fell a noise of a great
thundering, and the fire fell and burnt up my father Terah and his
house and all that was therein.

This is the story of the beginning of the life of Abraham; and that
which is told about the end of his life is as follows:

Abraham had lived out the measure of his days. He was now a hundred
and seventy-five years old, and all the days of his life he had lived
in kindness and meekness and uprightness: and especially was he
hospitable and courteous to strangers. He dwelt by the cross-roads
near the oak of Mamre, and entertained all the wayfarers who came
that way, rich and poor, lame and sound, friends or strangers. But at
last to him, as to all other men, there came the bitter cup of death,
which none can put away. So when the time was come, the Most High
called to him the archangel Michael and said to him, "Michael, prince
of the host, go down to Abraham and speak to him concerning his
death, that he may set his house in order: for his possessions are
great. Announce to him therefore that he is to depart speedily out of
the earthly life, and come to his Lord in peace and happiness."

Michael therefore went forth from the presence of the Lord and went
down to Abraham at the oak of Mamre, and found him in the fields hard
by, watching his husbandmen ploughing with their oxen. And Abraham
lifted up his eyes and saw Michael coming towards him in the dress
and fashion of a soldier--for he was the captain of the Lord's
host--very beautiful to look upon. And Abraham rose and went to meet
him, as was his custom with all strangers; and when they had saluted
one another, Abraham asked Michael whence he came; and Michael
answered, "I come from the Great City, and my errand is to fetch a
certain friend of the Great King, whom He is inviting to come to
Him." Then said Abraham, "My lord, come with me to my house." And
when Michael consented, Abraham called one of his men and bade him
fetch two quiet horses that he and the stranger might ride home on
them. But Michael refused, for he knew that no earthly horse could
bear him; so he said, "Nay, but rather let us go on foot to your
house."

And as they went up from the fields, they came to a cypress-tree
growing by the wayside; and as they passed by it there came from it a
human voice, which said, "Holy is the Lord who calleth to Himself
them that love Him." Now this happened by the commandment of God, to
be a sign to Abraham, and he marvelled; but when he looked at his
companion and saw that he seemed to take no notice of it, he said
nothing, thinking that only he had heard the voice. Soon after they
came to the house, and Isaac and Sarah came to greet them, and they
sat down in the courtyard of the house. But Isaac said to his mother
Sarah, "Mother, I am sure that the man who is sitting with my father
is not of the race of men that live on the earth." Just then Abraham
called to Isaac, "Isaac, my son, draw water from the well, and bring
it to me in a basin, that we may wash the stranger's feet, for he has
come a long journey." So Isaac ran and fetched the water to his
father; and Abraham said to him secretly, "My child, something says
to me that this will be the last time that I shall wash the feet of
any stranger coming to this house." And Isaac was greatly distressed
and said, "What mean you, father, by these words?" Abraham said
nothing, but stooped down and began to wash the feet of Michael; and
Isaac wept. Abraham too shed tears, and Michael seeing it, was moved
with pity, and wept also; and his tears fell into the basin of water
and became precious pearls. When Abraham saw that, he marvelled; but
he gathered up the pearls secretly and said nothing.

After that he told Isaac to go and prepare the banqueting-room,
spread two couches, light the lamps, burn sweet odours, and fetch
fragrant herbs and flowers from the garden. "For," said he, "this
man who is come to us is worthy of all the honour we can do him." So
Isaac went to make ready the room, and Sarah also set about preparing
a feast. Then, while they were all busying themselves with
preparation, the sun began to set, and the hour came at which all the
angels appear before God and worship Him; and Michael also flew up
into the heavens in the twinkling of an eye, and stood before the
Lord. And when all the angels had done their worship and gone forth
again, Michael remained and said to the Lord, "Lord, I cannot speak
to Abraham about his death; for I have never seen his like upon the
earth, kind, courteous, hospitable, fearing God, and keeping himself
pure from all evil. I cannot grieve his heart by telling him that he
is to die." And the Lord said, "Go down again to my friend Abraham,
and whatsoever he would have thee do, do it; and I will put the
thought of his death into the mind of his son Isaac in a dream. Then
Isaac shall tell the dream, and thou shalt interpret it, and so
Abraham shall be certified of his death."

So Michael returned to Abraham's house, and sat at meat with him, and
Isaac waited on them; and after supper, Abraham offered up prayer as
he was wont, and the archangel prayed with him, and they went to
their beds. Isaac also asked his father if he might sleep with them,
for he desired exceedingly to be near the wonderful stranger and to
hear his words; but Abraham said, "Nay, my son, lest we be burdensome
to the stranger." Therefore Isaac bowed down and received his
father's blessing, and went to his own chamber.

And about the third hour of the night Isaac dreamed a dream, and it
frightened him, so that he leapt out of bed and ran hastily to the
room where Abraham and Michael were sleeping, and beat upon the door
and said, "Father, open to me quickly! let me kiss you once again
before they take you away from me." Then Abraham opened the door, and
Isaac ran in and hung upon his neck, weeping loudly. And Sarah was
awakened by the noise of the weeping, and came quickly to them; and
she also wept and said, "What is the matter? Has our brother who is
come to us brought you evil tidings of Lot, your nephew?" But Michael
said, "No, lady, it is not so; but, as I think, your son Isaac has
dreamed a dream which has troubled him, so he came to us weeping, and
we were moved at the sight of his tears, and wept with him."

Now Sarah, when she heard the sound of the voice of Michael, became
sure in her own mind that it was an angel of God who was speaking.
She beckoned therefore to Abraham to come to her at the door of the
house, and took him aside and said to him, "Do you know who this man
is?" and he said, "No." "Do you remember," said she, "the three men
who came to us once at the oak of Mamre; and how you killed a calf
and prepared a feast for them; and how when the calf was eaten, it
suddenly became whole again and sprang up and ran and suckled its
mother? I am sure that this is one of those three men." Abraham
answered, "Sarah, you have hit the truth; praised be God for His
wonders. Now I tell you that last night when I was washing the feet
of this man, I said to myself, 'Surely these are the feet that I
washed long ago under the oak-tree?' And furthermore, he shed tears,
and they fell into the water and became these pearls." And he drew
the pearls out of his bosom and showed them to her, and she bowed her
head and praised God and said, "Be sure, Abraham, that he is come to
reveal some matter to us, whether for evil or for good."

Then Abraham left Sarah and went in and said to Isaac, "Come here, my
child, and tell me what you saw, and what caused you to come to us in
such haste?" And Isaac said, "It was this, father. I saw in a dream
this night the sun and the moon upon my head, and the rays of the sun
were all about me and enlightened me, and I rejoiced in them; then I
saw the heavens opening, and a shining man, brighter than seven suns,
came down; and he approached me and took the sun from off my head
and carried it up into heaven; and again after a little while, as I
was sorrowing over it, he came and took the moon from me. Then I was
greatly distressed, and I besought him, saying, 'Nay, my lord, do
not take all my glory from me; have pity upon me; if thou must needs
take the sun, yet leave me the moon.' But he said, 'Suffer them to
be taken up to the King above, for He desires them to be with Him.'
So he took them away, saying, 'They are removed from toil unto rest,
and from darkness unto light.' But their glory he left upon me. Then
I awoke." And Isaac ceased speaking.

Then Michael said, "Hear me, righteous Abraham. The sun which Isaac
saw is you, his father; the moon likewise is Sarah, his mother; and
the shining one who came down out of heaven and took them away is
myself. And now be it known to you that the time is come for you to
leave this earthly life and go to God." But Abraham said, "Why, here
is a marvel indeed! And are you the one appointed to take my soul
from me?" He answered, "I am Michael, the captain of the host of
God, and I am sent to speak to you concerning your death." Then said
Abraham, "I know that you are an angel of God, and that you are sent
to take away my soul. But I shall not follow you!"

When Michael heard that word he vanished away from them and went up
to the heavens and stood before the Lord, and told Him what Abraham
had said; and the Lord answered, "Return to Abraham My friend and
speak yet again to him, Thus saith the Lord: 'I brought thee out of
thy father's house into the land of promise: I have blessed thee and
increased thee more than the sands of the seashore and more than the
stars of heaven. Why dost thou resist My decree? Knowest thou not
that Adam and Eve died, and all their offspring; none of the
forefathers escaped death; they are all of them gone unto the place
of spirits, all of them have been gathered by the sickle of death.
And I have not suffered the angel of death to approach thee: I have
not permitted any evil disease to come upon thee, but instead I have
sent mine own prince Michael to speak peaceably unto thee, that thou
mayest set thine house in order and bless thy son Isaac and depart in
peace; and now thou sayest, "I will in nowise follow him." Knowest
thou not that if I send Death unto thee, thou must needs come whether
thou wilt or no?'" So Michael returned to Abraham, and found him
weeping, and told him all these words; and Abraham besought him,
saying, "Speak yet once again to my Lord and say to Him, 'Thus saith
Abraham Thy servant: Lord, Thou hast been gracious to me all my life
long, and now, behold, I do not resist Thy word, for I know that I am
a mortal man; but this one thing I ask of Thee, that while I am yet
in my body Thou wouldst suffer me to see Thy world and all the
creatures that Thou hast made. Then shall I depart out of this life
without any trouble of mind.'" And Michael returned and spake all
these words before the Lord, and the Lord said, "Take a cloud of
light and angels that have power over the chariots, and bear Abraham
in the chariot of the cherubim into the air of heaven and let him see
all the world before he dies."

And it was done; and Michael showed Abraham all the regions of the
world. He saw men ploughing and carting, keeping flocks, dancing,
sporting, and playing the harp, wrestling, going to law, weeping,
dying, and being carried out to burial: even all the things that are
done in the earth, both good and evil. And in one place they saw men
with swords in their hands, and Abraham asked Michael, "Who are these?"
And Michael said, "These are thieves who are going out to steal
and to kill and to destroy." Then Abraham said, "O that God would
hear me and send evil beasts out of the forest to devour them!" And
in that moment wild beasts rushed out upon them and tore them to
pieces. Then in another place he saw men and women feasting and
drinking before their idols, and he said, "O that the earth might
open and swallow them up!" And immediately it happened as he had
said. And in yet another place he saw me breaking through the wall of
a house to enter it and rob it; and he prayed again, and fire fell
from heaven and burnt them up. Then there came a voice which said,
"Michael, prince of My host, turn the chariot and bring Abraham back,
lest, if he sees any more of the sinners upon earth, he destroy the
whole race of men. For he is a righteous man, and has no compassion
upon sinners. But I created the world, and I would not have any
perish. Bring Abraham therefore to the entering in of the gate of
heaven, that he may see the judgment and the recompensing of men, and
may have pity upon the souls whom he has blotted out."

Michael therefore turned the chariot and brought Abraham across the
great river of Ocean to the entering in of the gate of heaven, and
showed him the judgments. And Abraham saw the narrow gate of life and
the broad gate of destruction, and between the gates he saw our
father Adam sitting upon a throne, and clad in a glorious robe of
many colours; and he saw how Adam lamented when the souls went in
through the broad gate, and how he rejoiced when they attained to the
narrow gate, and how his weeping exceeded his rejoicing. Moreover,
Michael showed him how the souls of men are examined concerning their
works and how their acts are re-corded and weighed. But when he saw
how hard it is to enter in at the strait gate, it repented him that
he had prayed for the punishment of the sinners, and he said to
Michael, "O prince of the host, let us entreat the Lord that He
would have mercy upon the souls of the men whom I cursed in my anger;
for now I know that I sinned before God when I prayed against them."
Then they both prayed earnestly to God; and after a long time there
came a voice saying, "Abraham, I have heard thy prayer, and I have
given back life to the men whom thou didst destroy."

Moreover, the voice bade Michael take Abraham back to his house. And
when he was come thither, he went up to the great chamber, and sat
upon the couch; and Sarah and Isaac came and fell on his neck, and
all his servants gathered about him, rejoicing at his return. And
Michael said, "Hearken, Abraham: here is Sarah your wife and Isaac
your son, and here are all your manservants and maidservants about
you. Now therefore set in order your house and bless them, and make
ready to depart with me, for your hour is come." Abraham answered,
"Did the Lord command you to say this, or do you say it of yourself?"
Michael said, "The Lord commanded me, and I give the message to you."
Yet for all that Abraham answered, "I will not follow you." So
Michael went forth and stood before the Most High again and told him
the words of Abraham; and he said besides, "I cannot lay hands upon
him, for there is not his like upon the earth, no, not even the
righteous Job. Tell me therefore, Lord, what I must do."

And God said, "Call Death, and bid him come hither." Michael went and
found Death, and said to him, "Come, for the Lord of all things, the
Immortal King, calleth for thee." And Death trembled and feared
exceedingly when he heard that; but he followed Michael and came and
stood before the Lord, quivering and shaking with fear, awaiting the
commands of his Master. And God said to him, "Hide thy hideous
appearance, cover up thy corruption, put away from thee all thy
terror, and put on a glorious and beautiful aspect, and go down to
Abraham My friend and take him and bring him to Me: only see that
thou make him not afraid, but bring him peaceably, for he is My
friend." So Death went forth from the presence of God, and made
himself like an angel of light, beautiful to look upon, and departed
to seek Abraham. Now Abraham had come down from his chamber and was
sitting under the trees of Mamre, leaning his head upon his hand,
expecting the return of Michael the archangel. And suddenly he was
aware of a sweet perfume, and of a light shining near him; and he
turned round and saw Death coming towards him in a form of great
glory and beauty, and rose to meet him, supposing him to be an angel
of God. And they greeted one another, and Abraham said, "Whence come
you to me, and who are you?" Death answered, "Abraham, I tell you the
truth: I am the bitter cup of death." Abraham said, "Rather you are
the beauty of the world; a fairer than you I have never seen, and how
say you, 'I am the bitter cup of death'?" He answered, "I have told
you the truth; the name by which God named me is that which I have
spoken." Abraham said, "And why have you come to this place?" Death
answered, "I am come to take your soul, O righteous one." Abraham
said, "I hear what you say, but I shall not come with you." But
Death was silent and answered him not a word.

Then Abraham rose up and went towards his house: and Death followed
him. And he went up into his chamber: and Death went with him; and he
laid himself on his bed: and Death came and sat by his feet. And
Abraham said, "Go, depart from me: I wish to rest here on my couch."
Death answered, "I shall not depart till I have taken thy soul from
thy body." Abraham said, "I adjure thee by the living God: art thou
in very truth Death?" He said, "I am." Then said Abraham, "Comest
thou to all men in such a beautiful shape as this?" He said, "Nay,
my lord Abraham; it is thy righteousness and thy good deeds which
make as it were a crown of glory upon my head; it is only to such as
thou art that I come thus peaceably, but to sinners I show myself
much otherwise." "Show me then," said Abraham, "in what form thou
comest to them: let me see all thy fierceness and bitterness."
"No," said Death, "for thou couldst not bear to look upon it."
"Verily, I am able to bear it," he said, "for the strength of the
God of heaven is with me."

Then Death let fall from him all his beauty, and Abraham saw him as
he was. And where there had been a shining angel, he saw a cloud of
darkness, and in it the shapes of horrible wild beasts and all
unclean creatures; and he saw the heads of fiery dragons, and flames
of consuming fire darting out; and he seemed to see a dreadful
precipice before him, and then a rushing river, and flashes of
lightning, and crackling of thunder, and thereafter a tempestuous
raging sea; and again weapons brandished, and venomous basilisks and
serpents, and bowls of poison; and there came a horrible odour, so
that all the servants of Abraham that were in the chamber fainted and
died, and Abraham himself swooned and his senses left him.

When he came to himself, Death had hidden his terrible aspect and put
on his beautiful form again. And Abraham saw his servants lying dead,
and said to Death, "How is it that thou hast slain these?" And Death
said, "They died at the sight of my countenance, and in truth it is a
marvel that thou also didst not die with them." "Yea," said Abraham,
"now I know how it was that I came by this faintness of spirit that
is upon me; but I pray thee, Death, inasmuch as these have been cut
off before their time, let us entreat God that he would raise them up
again." So Abraham and Death prayed together; and the spirit of life
returned into the servants that had been killed, and they rose up
again. After that Abraham conversed with Death.

Then Sarah and Isaac came in and talked with Abraham as he lay on his
bed. And Abraham said to Death, "I beseech thee, depart from me for a
little, for since I looked upon thee weakness is come upon me, and my
breath labours and my heart is troubled." Then said Death, "Kiss my
right hand and thy strength will return to thee, and thou wilt be
filled with joy." So Abraham kissed the hand of Death, and the soul
of Abraham clave to the hand of Death and left his body; and
straightway Michael was there and a multitude of angels with him, and
they accompanied the holy soul of Abraham and brought it into the
heavens into the presence of the Most High, there to abide
everlastingly in gladness and brightness in the place from which all
sorrow and sighing are fled away.



THE STORY OF ASENETH, JOSEPH'S WIFE



I

There was once a great man named Potipherah, who was high priest of
the city of On in Egypt; and he and his wife had no children. One day
he went into the temple to offer sacrifice, as was his custom. He
went alone, and when he entered the great courtyard of the temple, in
the middle of which stood the altar, he was astonished to see a
little child lying upon the altar. Without waiting to offer his
sacrifice, he hurried back to his wife. "What is the matter," said
she, "that you come back so hastily?" "I have seen a wonderful
thing," he said; "the gods have given us a child. The gates of the
temple were locked, so that no one could get into the court; yet
there is a child there, lying on the altar!" "What say you?" said his
wife; "what can be the meaning of it?" So they both hastened to the
temple, and when Potipherah opened the door of the courtyard, they
saw, partly at least, how the wonder had happened; for now there was
an eagle perched upon the altar with its wings spread out over the
child--it was a little girl, quite newly born--to protect it. They
guessed that it was the eagle that had brought the child, but, of
course, they could not tell whose it was. It was wrapped in
swaddling-clothes, and these Potipherah's wife kept carefully by her;
for she thought the time might come when they might be recognised by the
parents of the little child; and indeed, years afterwards, this proved
to be the case.

In the meantime Potipherah and his wife kept the child and brought
her up, and treated her as their daughter; and they called her
Aseneth.

She grew up to be very beautiful; she was quite unlike an Egyptian
girl, and might have been taken for a Hebrew maiden: tall as Sarah
and lovely as Rebekah or Rachel; so beautiful, in fact, that all the
sons of the princes and nobles of Egypt were in love with her, and
even the son of King Pharaoh himself said to his father, "Give me
Aseneth, the daughter of Potipherah, to wife." But Pharaoh said,
"Nay, my son, she is not of your rank; you must marry a queen;
remember, the daughter of the King of Moab is affianced to you."

But besides being very beautiful, Aseneth was exceedingly proud.
There was not a man of all the young nobles whom she would hear of,
much less look at. Indeed, hardly any man in Egypt except her own
father had ever seen her face; for she lived apart with the maidens
who waited on her, in a lofty tower which her father had built
specially for her. It was really a noble palace, with ten great
rooms, one over the other. The first room was paved with porphyry and
lined with slabs of coloured marbles, and the roof was of gold: and
it was a kind of chapel for Aseneth. It had golden and silver images
of all the gods of Egypt, and Aseneth worshipped them and burnt
incense to them every day. The second chamber was Aseneth's own. In
it were all her jewels and rich robes and fine linen. In the third
were stored the provisions of the house and every delicious fruit or
sweetmeat that could be got from any part of the world. The other
seven chambers belonged to the seven maidens who lived with Aseneth
and tended her. They were all of one age, and as fair as the stars of
heaven, and Aseneth loved them dearly.

But to come back to Aseneth's own chamber, which was the most
splendid of all. It had three windows, one looking out upon the
garden of the tower towards the east, and another towards the south,
and the third towards the high-road. Opposite the eastern window
stood a golden bed, with a coverlet woven of gold and purple and fine
linen.

And no one but Aseneth herself had ever even sat upon that bed, so
magnificent and so sacred was it.

Besides all this, the tower had all around it a garden with a high
wall of squared blocks of stone. The gates (there were four of them)
were of iron, and each was guarded by eighteen stalwart men in
armour. The garden itself was full of shady trees, bearing splendid
fruit; and there was a springing fountain at one side of it, whose
water ran first into a marble trough, and then out of that into a
stream which watered all the garden and kept it fresh and green.

Here Aseneth lived until she was eighteen years old, beautiful and
proud and caring for no one except her father and mother and her
seven maidens. Now the year in which she became eighteen was the
first of the seven years of plenty, of which King Pharaoh had dreamt
in the dream of the seven cows and the seven ears of corn, which is
written in the Bible. And Joseph was now travelling over all the land
of Egypt to gather together corn to store up against the seven years
of famine which were to follow the seven of plenty. And upon a
certain day in harvest-time, Potipherah and his wife, who had been
away at an estate which they possessed in the country, returned to
the city of On; and no sooner had they done so than they received a
message from Joseph, saying, "Let me come and rest at your house
during the heat of the day." Whereupon Potipherah was greatly
rejoiced, and thanked the gods for the honour which Joseph did him by
visiting him, and ordered a great banquet to be prepared.

Just at this time, Aseneth, who had heard that her father and mother
were returned, came to meet them. She had put on her most beautiful
robe, of linen woven with gold, and a golden girdle, and necklace and
bracelets of precious stones upon which were engraved the names of
the gods of Egypt. And she had a golden diadem on her head, and over
it a delicate veil. She hastened to meet her father and mother, and
they rejoiced at her wonderful beauty, and made her sit by them, and
showed her the gifts they had brought to her from the country--grapes
and figs, pomegranates and fresh dates, and young doves and quails
for her to tame, to her great delight. Then her father said to her,
"My child, sit here with us: I want to speak to you." So she sat down
between her father and mother, and her father took her hand and
kissed her, and said, "My darling child, do you know that Joseph, the
lord of all this land, the man who is going to save the country from
the famine that is coming the man whom Pharaoh trusts and honours
above all others, is coming to this house to-day? What would you say
if I were to offer to give you in marriage to him, to live happily
with him for the rest of your life?"

Then Aseneth was very angry; she blushed as red as fire, and darted
an ugly glance at her father sideways, and said, "How can you talk to
me so, father? Would you give me to a creature like that, the son of
a Ganaanitish labourer, who has been in prison--yes, and sold as a
slave--and only got out of prison because he contrived to explain a
dream of Pharaoh's, for all the world like the old women? Certainly
not! If I marry any one it will be Pharaoh's eldest son." So
Potipherah, disappointed as he was, said no more; and Aseneth
hurried away to her own chamber. But she looked out of the window.

As she went out, there ran in a young man, one of Potipherah's
servants, and said, "My lord, Joseph is just stopping before our
gates." So Potipherah and his wife and all their retinue rose and
went forth to meet Joseph; and the gates of the court towards the
east were thrown open, and the chariot drove in, drawn by four
milk-white horses with harness of gold; and in the chariot stood
Joseph, clad in a tunic of white linen and a blood-red mantle shot
with gold. On his head was a crown with twelve great gems, and above
each gem was a ray of gold; in his hand was an olive branch with
leaves and fruit. But fairer than all his equipment was his face, for
he was more beautiful than any of the sons of men. And just as all
the young nobles of Egypt were mad about Aseneth, so all the ladies
of Egypt were in love with Joseph; but he had not a word to say to
any of them, for they were all worshippers of idols, and Joseph
worshipped the true God--the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

So the chariot entered the courtyard of Poti-pherah's palace, and the
gates were shut. Now Aseneth stood at her window, and when she saw
Joseph and the beauty of his countenance, she was smitten to the
heart, her knees trembled, and she almost swooned. A great fear came
upon her, and she heaved a deep sigh and said, "Alas, alas, what have
I said? what have I done? Pity me, O God of Joseph, for it was in
ignorance that I spoke against him. Did I not call him a Canaanitish
labourer's son? and lo, now he has come into our house like the sun
out of heaven. Fool that I was to rail against him as I did! If only
my father would give me to him as his slave and drudge, I would serve
him till I dropped dead at his feet."

Meanwhile Joseph, who had caught sight of Aseneth standing at her
window, had come into the house, and they had washed his feet and set
a table for him by himself (for Joseph would not eat with the
Egyptians). And he said to Potipherah, "Who was the woman whom I saw
looking out of the window when I came in? Some stranger? If so, she
must leave this house." "Nay, my lord," said Potipherah, "she is our
daughter." And he went on to tell how Aseneth disliked the company of
men, and indeed had hardly seen a strange man before that day; and
Joseph was glad to hear that she hated strange men, and said, "If she
be your daughter, I will love her from this day forth as a sister."

Accordingly, Aseneth's mother went and fetched Aseneth, and she
greeted Joseph, and he her. Then said Potipherah, "Come near, my
child, and kiss your brother." But when she drew near, Joseph put out
his hand and thrust her away, and spoke thus: "It is not right for
one who worships the living God, and eats the bread of life and
drinks the cup of immortality, to kiss one that praises with her lips
dead idols, and eats the bread of death from their tables and drinks
the cup of deceit." At these harsh words Aseneth was bitterly grieved:
she shrank back and looked piteously at Joseph, and her eyes filled
with tears; and when he saw how hurt she was, Joseph, who was full of
kindness raised his hand over her head and blessed her, praying that
God, who gives life to all and brings us out of darkness into light,
might give life and light to her soul, and number her among His
chosen people, and bring her into the everlasting rest which He has
promised to them. So Aseneth went back to her chamber, full of
mingled joy and sorrow; and she cast herself down on her bed and
wept. And that same evening Joseph left the house of Potipherah and
set forth on his journey again. "But," said he, "I will come back to
you in eight days' time." Potipherah also and his wife and their
servants went back to their country house; and Aseneth and her seven
maidens were left alone. And the sun went down and all was quiet.

II

When everyone else in the tower was asleep, Aseneth, who had remained
weeping on her bed, rose up stealthily and crept downstairs to the
gate of the tower, where the woman who kept the door was asleep with
her children; and as quietly as she could she unhooked the heavy
leather curtain that hung in the doorway, and spreading it out on the
floor, heaped up upon it all the cinders and ashes out of the hearth,
folded the corners together, dragged it upstairs and threw it down on
the floor. Then she barred the door of her room securely, and burst
into bitter weeping. It so happened that the maiden whom Aseneth
loved the best of all her seven companions was awake, and heard the
sounds of crying. She was alarmed, and flew to wake up the other
attendants, and all of them came to the door of Aseneth's chamber,
which was locked and barred. They called to her, "What is the matter,
dear mistress? Open to us and let us come in and comfort you." But
Aseneth answered from within, "It is nothing but a violent headache.
I am in bed, and too tired and ill to get up and open the door. Go
back all of you to your beds. I shall be well to-morrow." So they
dispersed to their rooms.

And when they were safely gone, Aseneth got up and opened the door of
the room in which she kept her dresses and jewels, taking care to
make no noise; and from among all her robes she chose out a black
one which she had worn, years before, when the only son of Potipherah
had died. And she cast off her royal robe and her diadem and veil and
girdle, and put on the black robe and girded it with a rope. Next she
went to the shrine wherein stood all the golden and silver images of
her gods, and took them and threw them out of the window for the
wayfarers to pick up; and she took the supper that had been laid out
for her of all manner of delicate meats, and threw that into the
highway for the dogs to eat. And she emptied the ashes out of the
leather curtain upon the floor; she let down her hair and cast some
of the ashes upon her head; she smote her breast and wept; and thus
she sat in silence and misery till seven days and nights were
accomplished.

And on the morning of the eighth day, when it was just dawning, and
the birds had begun to twitter in the trees of the garden, and the
dogs to bark at the passers-by, Aseneth raised herself a little from
her crouching posture among the ashes and turned herself to the
window that looked towards the east. She was faint and ill and weary
from her long fasting and watching; her tongue was dry as horn, her
eyes were glazed, and her fair face was haggard. She bent her head
down and clasped her hands together, and crouched down again among
the ashes, and said to herself, "It is all over. I have no one to
turn to now. My father and mother will cast me off, for I have
dishonoured their gods; they will say, 'Aseneth is no daughter of
ours.' My kindred will hate me, and all the youths whom I have
despised and rejected will rejoice at my humiliation; and Joseph
will have nothing to say to me because I am a foul worshipper of
idols. Yet," she went on to say, "I have heard that the God of the
Hebrews is a merciful God, long-suffering and compassionate, not hard
upon those that have sinned ignorantly, if they are sorry for what
they have done. Why should I not turn to Him? Who knows if He will
not have pity upon my loneliness and protect me? For they say He is
the Father of the fatherless, and cares for those who are in
trouble." So she rose and knelt upon her knees, with her face turned
towards the east, and looked up into heaven and prayed. "Save me,"
she said, "from those who are pursuing me, before I am caught by them;
as a little child when it is frightened runs to its father, and the
father stretches out his arms and catches it to his breast, so I flee
to Thee. I know that Satan, the Old Lion, is hunting me; for he is
the father of the gods of Egypt, and I have insulted them and
destroyed their images. I have no hope but in Thee. See, I have cast
off all my beautiful robes and ornaments; I sit here in sackcloth and
ashes; I have fasted and wept these seven days, because I know that
I have done wrong in worshipping dumb idols, and in speaking
scornfully against Joseph. But, Lord, I did it in ignorance; save me,
and above all watch over Joseph, whom I love more than my own life.
Keep him, Lord, in safety, and let me be his handmaid and his slave,
if Thou wilt, so that I may minister to him all the days I have to
live."

Much more did Aseneth say in her prayer, but it is not written down
here. When she had ended, the morning star was just coming up in the
east, and Aseneth rejoiced when she saw it and said, "Can it be that
God has heard my prayer, and that this star is the herald of the
light of the great day?" Then, in that part of the sky where the star
was shining, there opened a little cleft in the heavens, and a bright
light shone out of it: so dazzling that she fell on her face upon the
ashes. And in the next instant there stood over her a man who was all
flashing with light; and he called to her, "Aseneth, rise up." "Who
can this be who calls me?" she said; "my door is barred and the tower
is high. No one can have come into my chamber." So she did not look
up; but the man called to her again, "Aseneth, Aseneth!" And at last
she answered, "Here am I, lord: tell me, who art thou?" He
answered, "I am the Prince of all the army of heaven; rise up and
stand on your feet, and hear my words." Then for the first time she
looked at him, and saw that he was in all things like Joseph, with
royal robe, and crown and sceptre; but his face, and hair, and hands
and feet were bright like the sun, and his eyes pierced like
lightning; and again she was afraid, and fell on her face. But he
said, "Do not be afraid; hear what I am come to say to you."
Thereupon she rose and stood up, weak as she was; and he bade her go
into her inner chamber and put off her black robe, and the sackcloth
and ashes, and bathe herself in clear water, and array herself in the
noblest of her robes, and come back to him.

Now when this was done, and she had returned to him, fresh and
beautiful as formerly, he spoke kindly to her, and blessed her and
said, "God has heard your prayer: He has looked upon your sorrow and
tears, and has forgiven your sin. Be of good cheer, for your name is
written in the Book of Life, and shall no more be blotted out. From
this day forth you shall eat the bread of life and drink the cup of
immortality, and be anointed with the oil of joy. And a new name
shall be given you, even the name of the City of Refuge; for as you
have come to God for refuge, many shall in like manner come to Him
through your example by repentance. And now, behold, this day I shall
go to Joseph, and tell him that which has befallen you, and he shall
come to you this very day and make you his bride. Make ready
therefore and array yourself in the bridal robe that is laid up in
your chamber, and put upon you all your elect ornaments, and prepare
yourself to meet him."

When Aseneth heard this joyful news, she fell on her face at the feet
of the messenger and gave thanks to God; and, said she, "My lord,
stay yet a little while, I pray you, and sit upon this couch, and I
will set a table before you, and bread, and you shall eat; and I will
bring you wine old and fragrant, and you shall drink, and so go on
your way." For she did not know that it was an angel who had come to
her. And he said, "I will do so: hasten therefore and make ready."

So first she set before him a table; and as she was going to fetch
the bread he said to her, "Bring a honeycomb also." But at this she
stopped, and was troubled in her mind, for she knew that there was no
honeycomb in her store-room. "Why do you stop?" said the angel.
"Sir," she answered, "let me send a boy to the farm which is near by,
and he shall fetch you a honeycomb in a moment." "No," said he, "you
need only go into your store-room, and you will find one upon the
table; bring that to me." "Sir," she answered, "I know that there is
none there." But he said, "Go and you will find it." She went
therefore and found the honeycomb, as he had said; it was large, and
as white as snow, and full of honey, and the smell of it was as the
breath of life. She wondered greatly, but she would not delay, and
she brought it out and put it on the table before the angel. Then he
called her to him, and as she moved towards him he stretched out his
right hand over her head, and again she was afraid, for she saw
sparks and flashes of fire coming from it, as if it were of heated
iron; so that she gazed upon him earnestly in astonishment. But he
smiled and said, "You are blessed, Aseneth, for you have seen some of
the secret things of God; it is of this honeycomb that the angels eat
in Paradise, and the bees of Paradise have made it of the dew of the
roses of life in the garden of God; and whosoever tastes it shall not
die for ever." Then he put forth his right hand and took a piece of
the honeycomb, and tasted it, and gave a portion to Aseneth, and she
ate it; and he said, "Now you have received the food of life, and
your youth shall know no old age, and your beauty shall never fade."
And again he stretched forth his right hand and drew his finger
across the honeycomb from the east side of it to the west, and from
the north side to the south, and where his finger touched it there
was left a track of the colour of blood. And immediately there came
out of the honeycomb a multitude of bees. They were white like snow,
and their wings were purple and scarlet, and they swarmed about
Aseneth and made honey upon her lips. Among them there were some that
made as though they would have stung her, but these the angel
rebuked, and they fell to the ground dead. But after a while the
angel said to the bees, "Go to your place," and at that they rose up
in a swarm and flew out of the window and up into the sky. Then he
touched with his rod the dead bees upon the floor, and said to them,
"Go ye also to your place," and they came to life and flew out of the
window, and settled upon the trees in the garden of Aseneth. And for
the third time he stretched out his hand and touched the honeycomb
upon the table, and straightway there burst forth a flame, and
consumed the honeycomb--but upon the table it left no mark--and the
sweet smell of the burning filled all the chamber.

Then said Aseneth, "Sir, I have seven companions, maidens who have
been brought up with me, and I love them as sisters: may I not call
them, and you shall bless them as you have blessed me?" So she called
them in, and made them stand before the angel, and he blessed them;
and thereafter he said to Aseneth, "Take away the table." And as she
turned aside to lift it, he was gone. But through the window she saw
in the sky a chariot and four horses shining like fire, going into
the heavens towards the east, and the angel standing in the chariot.
Then she said, "Ah, foolish that I am! I knew not that it was an
angel out of heaven that came into my chamber, and now, behold, he is
going back into heaven to his own place. Pardon me, my lord, and
spare thy handmaid, for it was in ignorance that I spoke so boldly
before thee!"

While she was still wondering, there came in a messenger and said,
"Joseph, the mighty one of God, is on his way hither." And
immediately Aseneth sent for the steward of the palace and bade him
prepare a great banquet, and make all things ready; but she herself,
remembering the words of the angel, went into her inner chamber and
adorned herself as a bride, in shining robes, and upon her head she
put a crown of gold which had in the midst, over her forehead, a
great jacinth stone and six other precious stones round it; and she
covered her head with a veil of wonderful beauty. Then she called to
one of her maidens, who brought her a basin of pure water, and when
she saw the reflection of her face in the water she was astonished at
the beauty and freshness and brightness of it. Just then the steward
of the palace came in to say that all was ready, and he too was
struck with amazement at the sight of her, and said, "Lady, what is
the cause of this wonderful beauty? Can it be that the God of heaven
has chosen you to be the bride of Joseph, His elect?" And while he
was yet speaking, the sound of Joseph's chariot-wheels was heard
without.

Then Aseneth hastened and went down to meet Joseph, and her seven
maidens followed her, and they all stood in the porch of the palace.
And when Joseph saw Aseneth he also marvelled, and said, "Who art
thou, maiden?" And she answered, "Thy handmaid Aseneth; and I have
cast away all my idols and they are gone." And she went on and told
him of the coming of the angel to her. And he rejoiced. Then they
came near and embraced one another, and she led him into her father's
house and made him sit on her father's throne; and Joseph said, "Let
one of the maidens come and wash my feet." But Aseneth said, "No;
from henceforth I am your handmaid: your hands are my hands, your
feet are my feet, and your soul is my soul: none other shall wash
your feet but I." So she compelled him, and washed his feet. And
after that he kissed her again, and made her sit down beside him, on
his right hand.

And as they were talking together, Potipherah and his wife and their
household entered the palace, having returned from the country; and
they were amazed, and rejoiced at the sight of Joseph and Aseneth.
And when they learnt all that had happened, they rejoiced yet more;
and Potipherah said, "To-morrow I will call together all my kinsfolk
and prepare your marriage feast." But Joseph said, "Nay, but I will
first go to Pharaoh and speak to him concerning Aseneth, that I may
take her to wife; for he is to me as a father."

So on the next day Joseph departed to see Pharaoh, and forthwith
Pharaoh sent for Potipherah and his wife and Aseneth; and in their
presence he blessed Aseneth, and joined her hand with the hand of
Joseph, and crowned them with golden crowns, and made a great feast
for them lasting seven days; and all the land of Egypt rejoiced. So
Joseph and Aseneth were married; and after that two sons were born
to them, even Ephraim and Manasseh, in the house of Joseph.

III

Now when the seven years of plenty were over, the years of famine
began, and Jacob and his sons came to dwell in Egypt in the land of
Goshen, as it is told in the Bible. Then Aseneth said to Joseph, "Let
me go and see your father and greet him." So Joseph brought her to
Jacob, and his brethren met him and did him obeisance at the door of
the house, and they entered in. And when they saw Jacob, who was
sitting upon his bed, Aseneth was struck with amazement at the sight
of him, for he was noble to look upon. His head was white as snow,
his beard was long, flowing over his bosom, his eyes were bright and
flashing, and his muscles and limbs were those of a giant. And
Aseneth fell on her face before him; and Israel said, "Is this thy
wife, my son Joseph? Blessed shall she be of the Most High God."
Then he called her to him, and she fell on his breast and he kissed
her, and they rejoiced together. After that he inquired of her
concerning her parents; and Aseneth told him how an eagle had
brought her and laid her upon the altar of the temple of On; and she
showed him the swaddling-clothes in which she had been wrapped. And
Jacob knew that they belonged to his own daughter Dinah; and thus it
was made known to him that Aseneth was of his own race, and he was
the more glad.

And when they departed from him, Simeon and Levi accompanied them
with the other sons of Leah and Rachel; but the sons of Bilhah and
Zilpah would not go with them, for they hated Joseph. And of all
Joseph's brethren, Aseneth loved Levi the most, for he was a prophet
and a seer, and could read the signs of the stars of heaven.

Now it happened that as they were on their way to visit Jacob, the
eldest son of Pharaoh was on the city wall, and he saw Aseneth and
loved her immediately, and could think of nothing but how he might
make away with Joseph and take Aseneth for his own wife. And after a
few days he sent secretly to Simeon and Levi, and said to them, "I
know that you are mighty men, and that with your two swords alone you
defeated the men of Shechem and overthrew their city. I have sent for
you because I wish to make you my friends, and, if you will do what I
ask you, I will give you riches and lands and houses--in a word, all
that you can desire. Now what I would have you do is this. You must
know that I have been bitterly wronged by your brother Joseph: he has
married Aseneth, who was betrothed to me long ago. Join with me
therefore and help me to kill him, and I will take Aseneth to wife,
and you shall be my brothers. If you refuse, I will slay you." And
with these words he drew his sword and flourished it at them. At this
Simeon, who was a man of hot temper, was enraged, and would have
drawn his own sword and cut down the prince; but Levi, who could read
his thoughts, trod upon his foot and made signs to him to be quiet,
and whispered, "Why be angry with this fellow? We are God-fearing
men, and must not render evil for evil." Then Levi said calmly and
mildly to Pharaoh's son, "Why does my lord speak thus to his
servants? We can do no such wickedness against our brother and
against our God. Let us hear no more such evil words; but, if you
will not be persuaded, know that our swords will be drawn against
you." With that both the brothers drew their swords, and when the son
of Pharaoh saw them he crouched upon the ground in terror, for they
flashed like flames of fire and dazzled his eyes. But Levi said, "Get
up and do not be frightened: only take care that you say nothing more
of this kind against our brother Joseph." And they went forth from
his presence.

But he could not restrain himself, for he was half-mad with anger and
fear and with love of Aseneth. And after some days his servants said
to him, "Do you know that the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah are at enmity
with Joseph and Aseneth? They will do all that you ask of them." So
he sent for them, for Dan and Gad and Naphtali and Asher, and they
came to him in the first hour of the night; and after he had greeted
them he sent away his servants, and said to the brethren, "Listen
to me. Life and death are before you; choose which you will have:
will you die like women or fight like men? I overheard your brother
Joseph saying to my father Pharaoh, 'Dan and Gad and Naphtali and
Asher are no brethren of mine; they are the sons of my father's
handmaids, and I am only waiting till my father dies to make an end
of them and their families. It was they who sold me to the
Ishmaelites, and I am going to repay it into their bosom.' And my
father said, 'It is well spoken: you have leave to take any of my
bodyguard and deal with them as you will.'" Then Dan and Gad and
their brothers were sorely troubled, and they said, "O sir, help us,
and we will be your servants for ever." And he said, "I will. Hear me
now: this night I will kill my father Pharaoh--for he is the helper
of Joseph--and do you for your part slay Joseph. Then I will take
Aseneth to wife, and you shall be my brethren and joint heirs with me
in the kingdom." So they said, "We will do so, and thus it shall be:
we heard Joseph say to Aseneth that she should go to-morrow into the
vineyard, for it is the time of vintage. We therefore will go this
night into the bed of the river and hide among the reeds; and do you
take with you fifty archers upon horses, and go on before. Then will
Aseneth come and fall into our ambush, and we will kill the men that
are with her, and she will flee in her chariot and fall into your
hands, and you shall do to her as seems good to you. As for Joseph,
while he is mourning for Aseneth we will kill him; but first we will
slay his children before his face." And Pharaoh's son rejoiced
greatly, and sent them forth with a great body of mighty men, and
they went and hid themselves in four companies among the reeds of the
river on either side of the road.

Yet Naphtali and Asher murmured against their elder brothers Dan and
Gad, saying, "To what purpose are you conspiring again? Did you not
sell Joseph for a slave before, and, lo! he is become lord over all
Egypt? Now therefore, if you imagine evil against him, he will call
upon God, and fire will come down out of heaven and devour you, and
the angels of God will fight against you." But their elder brothers
were angry and said, "What then would you have? Are we to die like
women? Not so!" And the counsel of Naphtali and Asher did not
prevail with them.

In the same night the son of Pharaoh rose up and went to his father's
chamber with intent to slay him, as he had promised; but when he came
to the door the guards stopped him and said, "What is my lord's
will?" He said, "I desire to see my father, for I am going away
to-morrow to visit my vine-yard which I have newly planted." And they
said, "Your father is ill and has not slept until now, and he gave
us commandment that no man should come into his chamber, no, not if
it were his firstborn son." So he went away in a rage, and took fifty
archers with him on horses and went on before, as Dan and Gad had
said.

Aseneth also arose early in the morning and said to Joseph, "Lo, I
go to the vineyard as you appointed; but my soul is troubled greatly
at being parted from you." But Joseph said, "Be of good cheer; the
Lord is with you and will keep you as the apple of an eye. As for me,
I go to distribute corn to the people of the land, that no man in
Egypt may perish of hunger." So Aseneth went her way; and as she came
to the place of the ambush by the river, the men that were in hiding
rushed out upon her, and slew all the guard that were with her, even
six hundred soldiers and fifty runners; and Aseneth fled away upon
her chariot.

Now Levi, though he was afar off, saw in the spirit what was being
done--for he was a seer--and told his brethren of the peril of
Aseneth; and they girded every man his sword upon his thigh, and took
up their shields and their spears and ran swiftly after Aseneth.

And as she fled on before, suddenly she saw the son of Pharaoh in the
way, and the horsemen that were with him. Then was Aseneth in great
fear, and she called upon the name of her God.

But Benjamin was in the chariot with her. Now he was a lad of
nineteen years, beautiful exceedingly, and strong as a lion's whelp.
And when he saw the men, he leapt down from the chariot and caught up
a round stone out of the brook and threw it at the son of Pharaoh,
and smote him on the left temple, so that he fell from his horse
half-dead.

Then Benjamin leapt up upon a rock by the way-side, and called to the
driver of the chariot, "Give me stones out of the river bed." And he
gave them; and with fifty stones Benjamin slew the fifty archers
that were with Pharaoh's son; every stone smote a man on the temples.

Moreover, the sons of Leah, Reuben and Simeon, Levi and Judah,
Issachar and Zebulun, pursued after the men that had laid wait for
Aseneth, and fell upon them suddenly and cut them to pieces; but the
sons of Bilhah and Zilpah fled before them, saying, "We are undone;
and now, behold, the son of Pharaoh is dead, and all they that were
with him. Let us at least slay Aseneth and Benjamin, and flee into
the woods." So they pursued after Aseneth, and came upon her with
their swords drawn and dripping with blood. And she was greatly
afraid, and said, "Lord God, who didst save me from false gods and
from the corruption of death, and didst say, 'Thy soul shall live
for ever,' save me now from the hands of these wicked men!" And God
heard her prayer, and straightway the swords of the men fell out of
their hands and crumbled into dust.

Then they were very sore afraid, saying, "The Lord fighteth against
us." And they fell down on their faces and besought Aseneth, saying,
"We have imagined evil against you, and the Lord hath brought it
back upon us. But now have pity upon us, and save us from the wrath
of our brethren." And she said, "Go then and hide yourselves in the
reeds until I appease them and turn away their anger. Only the Lord
be judge betwixt me and you." Then they ran and hid among the reeds;
and their brethren the sons of Leah came running like harts to
overtake them. And Aseneth lighted down from her chariot and fell on
their necks weeping and rejoicing; and they said, "Where are our
brothers the sons of the handmaids?" that they might kill them. But
Aseneth said, "I beseech you, spare them, for the Lord saved me out
of their hands and broke their swords, and, behold, there they lie,
like wax melted before the fire. Let it suffice you that the Lord
hath fought against them on our behalf, and spare them, for they are
your brethren and the sons of your father Israel." Then said Simeon,
"Why doth our sister say so? Nay, but we will hew them in pieces
with our swords, for they have done evil against Joseph and against
our father and against thee also this day." And Aseneth took hold
upon Simeon's beard and kissed him, and said, "Do not, my brother, in
anywise render evil for evil: the Lord shall judge between us; and
now, see, they are fled afar off. Forgive them, therefore, and spare
their lives." Then Levi came near and kissed her right hand; for he
knew that his brethren were in hiding among the reeds, but he would
not reveal it to the others lest they should fall upon them; and he
loved Aseneth because she would save them alive.

Now the son of Pharaoh, who was fallen from his horse, began to
recover himself, and sat up and spat blood out of his mouth, for the
blood ran down from the wound on his temple into his mouth. And
Benjamin saw it, and ran and drew the sword of the son of Pharaoh
(for as yet Benjamin bare no sword upon his thigh), and would have
slain him; but Levi hasted and caught his hand, saying, "It is not
right for us that fear God to trample upon him that is fallen, or to
afflict our enemy to death. Put back the sword into its place and
help me, and we will tend his wound, and if he lives he shall be our
friend." Then Levi helped up the son of Pharaoh from the ground, and
washed the blood from his face and bound up his wound with a bandage,
and put him upon his horse and took him to Pharaoh his father, and
told him all that had happened. And Pharaoh rose up from his throne
and blessed Levi. But on the third day after, the son of Pharaoh died
of his wound.

And Pharaoh mourned sore for his firstborn son, insomuch that he fell
sick and died, being a hundred and nine years old, and left his crown
to Joseph; and Joseph reigned alone in Egypt forty and eight years,
and thereafter gave the kingdom to the younger son of Pharaoh, who
was a sucking child when his father died. And thenceforth Joseph was
called the father of the king throughout all the land of Egypt.



JOB

This is the story of the life of Job, taken out of the book called
The Testament of Job.

There came a day when Job felt that his end was near; and he called
together his seven sons and his three daughters, and said to them:

Come near to me, my children, and I will tell you the story of my
life, and all the dealings of the Lord with me. You must know, in the
first place, that before He gave me a new name, I was called Jobab;
and that I come of the family of Isaac--for I am one of the sons of
Esau, Jacob's brother. Now, long ago, I used to dwell hard by the
temple of an idol, and every day I saw people coming and bringing
offerings, and burning sacrifices before it. But as time went on, I
could not believe that this idol was indeed the God who made the
heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and us men. I pondered much,
therefore, upon this matter, saying, "How shall I come to know the
truth of it?"

Thereafter, as I lay upon my bed, in the middle of the night, a bright
light suddenly shone in my chamber, and I heard a voice calling me,
"Jobab, Jobab!" (and I answered, "Here am I"). And the voice said, "Rise
up, and I will tell thee that which I have to say. Verily, this idol to
whom offerings are brought, and wine poured out in libations, is not a
god, but is a work of the evil power whereby he deceives the sons of
men." Then I bowed myself down and said, "Lord, who hast come to
enlighten my soul, I beseech thee, give me leave to go and cleanse this
place that is polluted by the enemy, so that offerings shall no more be
made to him; but, indeed, who is there that can withstand me, seeing
that I am ruler over this country?"

The voice answered me out of the light, "Thou canst indeed destroy
that place; but I must forewarn thee of that which will ensue,
according as I have in hand to tell thee from the Lord." And I
answered, "All that He commandeth thy servant will I hear and do."
And the voice said again, "If thou takest upon thee to destroy this
abode of Satan's, he will rise up and fight against thee; he will
bring upon thee many plagues; he will take away all thy gods; he will
slay thy children. Only he will not be able to take thy life. And, if
thou endurest to the end, thy name shall become famous among all
generations for ever; and I will restore thee to thy former estate,
and recompense thee double, and thou shalt rise up again in the
resurrection of the just. Be thou therefore like a fighter who giveth
blows and endureth them, looking to win the crown of victory; and
then shalt thou know that the Lord is righteous, and true, and
mighty, giving strength to His chosen."

And I, my children, answered him, "I will verily endure even unto
death, and will not draw back." Then the angel set a mark upon my
forehead, and departed from me; and in the same night I arose and
gathered to me fifty of my servants, and went and destroyed the
temple of the idol, laying it even with the ground. Then I returned
to my house, and commanded that the doors should be made fast.

Hearken now, my children, and wonder; for as soon as I had come into
my house, and had commanded the doors to be shut, and had told the
keepers of the doors to say to any that came that I was not at
leisure to see them, Satan came, having put on the appearance of a
beggar, and said to the maid that kept the door, "Tell Job that I
desire to speak with him." She came to me, therefore, and I told her
again, "Tell him that I have no leisure to see him."

So Satan departed, and took on him another form, and put a wallet on
his shoulder, and returned and said to the maid, "Say to Job, 'Give
me bread from thine own hand, that I may eat.'" Then I took a loaf
that was burnt black and gave it to the maid to give to him, saying,
"Look to eat no more of my bread, for I am become a stranger to you."
But the maid was ashamed to give him the burnt bread, for she knew
not who he was; she took, therefore, a good loaf of her own and gave
it to him. But he was aware of what had happened, and said to her,
"Go back, unfaithful servant, and fetch me the bread that was given
to you to give to me!" And she wept and said, "You say well that I
am an unfaithful servant, for I have not done that which I was
commanded." Then she brought him the burnt bread, saying, "Thus says
my master, 'You shall eat no more of my bread, for I am estranged
from you. This I give you only that you may not have it to say that I
refused to give aught to my enemy when he asked of me.'" Satan took
the bread, and sent back the maid with this message, "As this bread
is burnt and blackened, so will I make thy body; in one hour I will
lay thee and thy house desolate." And I answered him, "That thou
doest, do quickly; for I am ready to bear whatsoever thou canst bring
upon me."

Then Satan went up straightway under the firmament of the heaven, and
asked of the Lord authority over me and my possessions. And the Lord
granted it to him, but not at that time.

Now I must tell you, my children, of my manner of life, and my goods
that I had, before I was despoiled. I had 130,000 sheep, of which
7000 were set apart for the clothing of the fatherless, and widows,
and poor; and a pack of 800 dogs guarded them. I had 9000 camels;
3000 to traffic with the cities of the earth, which I laded with good
things, and sent them out among the towns and villages, and had their
loads distributed to the poor. I had also 130,000 asses; 500 of them
were set apart that their foals might be sold, and the price given to
the poor.

Also the four gates of my house were always left open to this end,
that if any poor man came to beg, and saw me sitting at one of the
gates, he might not turn back abashed, but might go round to another
of the gates, and enter in and receive what he needed.

Within the house also I had always thirty tables ready prepared for
the entertainment of strangers, and other twelve tables appointed for
the widows. None left my house with his purse empty, and whenever any
came to ask help, he was constrained first of all to sit down and
dine. I had fifty bakehouses, and of these, twelve served the tables
of the poor.

And so it was that many strangers came to my house, and some of them
desired to follow my way of life and minister to the poor, but they
were in need of money to furnish them therefor. And to such men I
freely lent the money, taking no security of them, but only a written
acknowledgment. And sometimes they prospered in their merchandise and
gained money to give to the poor; but sometimes they failed and came
back to me, saying, "Have patience with us." And thereupon I would
destroy the bill of their debt before them, and forgive them that
which they owed me.

Sometimes also there would come to me a man of a kindly heart who
would say, "I have not wherewith to help the poor, but let me wait
upon them to-day at your table." And at evening, when he was
departing, I used to say to him, "I know that you are a labouring
man, and look to your wages." And so I paid him wages for the day and
let him go.

I had also psalteries and a ten-stringed lute, and every day when the
widows and the poor had dined I would play to them and put them in
mind of God, that they should praise Him. And if ever my handmaidens
murmured at the work they had to do, I took a psaltery and sang to
them of the recompense of the reward. And they were comforted, and
ceased from their murmuring.

As for my children, they took part every day in the ministry, and
after that they gathered together in the house of their eldest
brother, and feasted there. But every morning I offered up sacrifices
for them, even thirty doves, fifty kids of the goats, and twelve
sheep, and a choice bullock. All of these, after I had offered up
prayer, I caused to be prepared for the poor, and gave to them,
saying, "Take these over and above that which you have had, and pray
for my children, lest they perchance have said in their hearts,
'We are the children of a wealthy father, and these goods are ours.
Wherefore should we wait upon the poor and waste our substance in
this manner?'" For indeed pride is an abomination unto the Lord.

Now this was my manner of life for seven years after that the angel
had come to me. But when Satan had obtained from the Lord power
against me, he came down in great wrath; and first he burnt up the
7000 sheep, and 3000 camels, and 500 asses, and 500 yoke of oxen; and
the rest were carried away by the men of the country to whom I had
showed kindness, but now they turned against me and spoiled my goods.
Then one came and told me, and I gave glory to God, and said not a
word of complaint.

Satan therefore, when he saw how I took the matter, devised yet more
against me, and took on him the likeness of the King of Persia, and
came and spake to all the worthless men of the country, saying, "This
man Jobab, who hath consumed all the good of the land, and left
nothing, giving it away to the halt, and maimed, and blind, is the
same that destroyed the temple of the great god and laid waste the
place of offerings. It is time that he should receive the reward of
his deeds. Come, fall upon him and spoil his house." But they said,
"He hath seven sons and three daughters; what if they escape into
other lands and accuse us of violence, and return and slay us?"
Satan answered, "Trouble not yourselves for that. See, I have
consumed part of his goods with fire; other part have I carried off.
_I_ will take in hand his children."

And he departed, and cast down the house upon my sons and daughters,
and slew them all. And when the men saw that he had spoken truth,
they came and plundered all that was in my house. Mine eyes saw
worthless and dishonourable men on my couches and at my tables, and I
could not utter a word, for I was stricken weak, as a sick woman.
Nevertheless, I remembered the recompense of the reward; and I
accounted the loss of my goods as nothing, if I might attain to that
city whereof the angel had spoken.

Then there came a messenger and told me, "Thy sons and thy daughters
are dead." And verily I was greatly troubled, and rent my clothes.
Yet I said, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: as it
pleased the Lord, so is it come to pass: blessed be the name of the
Lord."

So Satan perceived that, though all that I had possessed was taken
from me, nothing could break my spirit or make me rebel against God.
He departed, therefore, and asked leave of the Lord that he might
afflict my body. And the Lord gave him power over my body to use it
as he would, but over my life He gave him no power. Then Satan came
to me as I sat upon my throne mourning for the loss of my children;
and he came in the form of a great whirlwind, and cast my throne down
to the ground, so that I lay for three hours without moving. And he
smote me with a sore plague from head to foot, and I was filled with
worms and ulcers and corruption. Therefore I arose and went out of
the city in great misery and sorrow of heart, and sat upon a
dunghill, being severed from the sons of men because of my evil
plague. And there I remained many days. And I had no strength to work
and earn my bread, so that my wife was compelled to labour as a
handmaid in the house of a rich man, and carry water; and for that
they gave her bread, and she brought it to me. Then was I cut to the
heart, and said, "Alas for the pride of the men of this place! How
can they endure to treat my wife as a slave?" Yet after that again
I strengthened my soul and was patient.

After some time they refused to give my wife food enough for her and
myself, but allowed her only half of what they had given her before:
yet this she shared with me. Yea, she was not ashamed to go and beg
of the bakers in the market-place, that she might have wherewith to
feed me.

When Satan saw her do so, he took upon him the likeness of a seller
of bread. And my wife came and begged of him, supposing him to be a
man; and Satan said, "Pay the price, and take what you will." But she
answered, "Whence should I have money? Have you not heard of all that
has befallen us? If you will show mercy, show mercy; and if not, it
is your own concern." He said, "If you had not deserved misfortune,
I suppose it would not have come upon you; but now, if you have no
money, give me the hair of your head, and take three loaves in
exchange: it may be that you can live on them for three days." And
she thought within herself, "What is the hair of my head to me in
comparison with the hunger of my husband?" And she said to Satan,
"Come, take it." And he took a pair of shears and cut off her hair,
and then gave her three loaves, in the sight of all who were in the
market-place. She took the bread and came to bring it to me, and
Satan followed after her invisibly, and made her soul heavy within
her. So, as she drew near to me she lifted up her voice and cried
aloud, "Job, Job, how long wilt thou sit upon the dunghill waiting
and expecting thy deliverance, while I wander about from house to
house and labour as a slave? Behold, my sons and my daughters, whom
I brought up with labour and pain, are perished and gone, and thou
sittest under the open heaven filled with corruption, and I have to
work day and night to get bread to keep thy soul in thy body. Lo, now
have I sold the hair of my head for bread. Who would believe that I
am Sitis, the wife of Job, who was clothed in fine linen woven with
gold, that washed her feet in basins of silver and gold, that lay
softly and was nurtured in plenty; but now I go barefoot, in rags,
and sell my hair for bread. One thing only remains, for my bones are
broken with very weariness of spirit. Arise and eat this bread, and
satisfy thy hunger, and then speak a word against the Lord, and die;
and I shall be freed from my misery and labour, and have rest."

But I answered her, "Lo, now these many years have I been set in the
plague, enduring sickness of body and grief of heart, but my soul has
never been so heavy in me as when I heard thee say, 'Speak a word
against the Lord, and die.' Shall we have borne the loss of our
possessions, and the death of our children, and at the end lose the
true riches? Remember all the good things which we enjoyed aforetime.
Shall we receive those at the hands of the Lord, and not bear to
receive hard things likewise? But I perceive now why thou so
speakest. Come forth, thou that standest behind her to pervert her
heart and make her speak as one of the foolish women. Hide thyself no
longer; come forth and withstand me to the face." Then Satan came
forth from behind my wife, and stood before me ashamed, and even
weeping in the bitterness of his heart; and he said, "Job, thou hast
prevailed: thou art flesh and I am a spirit, but I can do no more
against thee." And he departed from me in confusion. And I, my
children, thought of fighters whom I had seen: one had thrown the
other on the ground and filled his mouth with sand, and bruised every
limb of his body, yet still he kept his hold; and of a sudden the one
that was uppermost could endure the grip no longer, and gave in, so
that the undermost won the crown. Thus was it with me and Satan; and,
my children, I counsel you to be long-suffering in all that may come
upon you; for there is nothing that is stronger than patience.

Now it was not until many years had passed that the tidings of my
affliction came to the ears of the kings who were of old time my
friends--for Satan caused the matter to be kept from them. But when
they heard, they set forth from their countries and came to visit me,
even Eliphaz of Teman, and Bildad, and Zophar, and Elihu; all of them
with great trains of followers. When they were come into my land they
inquired, "Where is Jobab, the ruler of Uz?" And it was told them,
"He sitteth upon a dunghill without the city." And they asked what
was become of my wealth--for I was aforetime richer than all the
princes of the East--and they were informed of all that had befallen
me. So they came where I was, and some of the men of the city with
them, who showed me to them. But they said, "This is not Jobab." Yet
the men of the place affirmed that it was so; and after they had
disputed for some time, Eliphaz called to me, "Art thou Jobab, our
fellow-king?" And I, weeping and casting dust upon my head, bowed
myself in token that it was I.

Then were they stricken with great astonishment and terror, and fell
to the ground as it were dead; and they rent their clothes and cast
off their armour, and sat down upon the ground. And Elihu lifted up
his voice and took up a lamentation over me, calling to mind all the
glory of my former state, my sheep and oxen, camels and asses, my
golden beds and my jewelled throne, the lamps and perfumes of my
palace, and the beauty of my children, and saying, "Where is now the
glory of thy kingdom?" And when he had ended his lamentation I said,
"Hold your peace and I will tell you."

"My throne is in the region beyond the world, and the glory and
beauty of it is at the right hand of the Father.

"This world shall pass away and the glory of it shall perish, and
they that pay heed thereto shall be overwhelmed in the overthrow of
it; but my throne is in the land of the holy, and the glory of it in
the age that hath no change.

"The rivers shall be dried up, and the abundance of their streams
floweth down into the depths of the pit; but the rivers of my land
fail not, and their streams water it for evermore.

"Kings shall pass away, and rulers be no more seen: their names and
their boasting shall be as the image in the glass; but my kingdom
abideth for ever, and the glory thereof is as the glory of the
chariot of the Most High."

Then Eliphaz waxed very wroth, and said, "Come, and let us leave him
to his folly. To what purpose have we journeyed hither to comfort
him, if he rails against us and says, 'Your kingdom shall be brought
to nought, but mine endureth for ever'?" And he would have gone
away in a rage. But Bildad restrained him, saying, "Remember that the
man is sick in body and mind; we should not deal harshly with him; it
may well be that he is mad." And Bildad and Zophar put questions to
me to discern whether I was of sound mind or not, and I answered them
soberly. And at last Zophar said, "What shall be done for thee?
Behold, we have with us the most skilful physicians that are in our
kingdoms. Wilt thou that they shall tend thee? Peradventure thou
mayest find relief at their hands." But I said, "My healing and my
medicine shall be from the Lord, who is the Maker of physicians and
of all their craft."

While I was yet speaking, there came to us my wife Sitis, clothed in
rags, and she had escaped by stealth out of the house of her master;
for he would have kept her within, fearing that the kings would call
him to account for his ill-usage of us. So when she came to us, she
threw herself down before Eliphaz and said, "Rememberest thou,
Eliphaz and thy fellows, how I looked and how I was attired in the
former days? Look now and see in what guise I go about." And they
were cut to the heart and wept, but knew not what to say; only
Eliphaz took off his purple robe and put it about her shoulders. And
she besought them, saying, "I pray you, command your servants to dig
among the ruins of the house that fell upon our children, and seek
out their bones that they may be buried and a memorial set up; for
till this day we have never been able to do so because of the cost.
Consider, I beseech you, what I suffer that have lost ten children,
and not one of them is given to burial." So they prepared to dig; but
I prevented them, and said, "Labour not in vain; ye will not find my
children, for they have been taken up into the heavens by the King
that created them." Again they said, "Who would not say that thou art
mad? Thy children are taken up into heaven, sayest thou? Show us now
what thou meanest."

I said, therefore, "Raise me up that I may stand on my feet." And
they took each an arm and raised me, and I stood up and made
supplication to the Father, and then said to them, "Lift up your eyes
and look towards the east." And they looked, and beheld my children
crowned with glory in the heavens, and above them the glory of the
Most High. Which when Sitis my wife saw, she fell upon her face and
worshipped, and said, "Now know I that there is remembrance of me
with God. I will go now into the city and rest a little, and refresh
myself for my labours of the morrow." So she went into the city, and
entered into the stable of the kine that had been hers, and had been
taken from her by those that employed her; and she lay down by one of
the mangers and slept, having her mind at rest, and so died. And on
the morrow her master sought her, and did not find her; and at last
entering into the stable, he saw her lying dead there, and ran out
and summoned men to him; and all the city came and saw her lying in
the stable, and the beasts standing about her, lowing and making
lamentation over her. Then they carried her forth and buried her
beside the place of the house that had fallen upon her children.

Now as for all the words which Eliphaz, and Bildad, and Zophar, and
Elihu spake with me, and those wherewith I answered them, are they
not written in the book for your remembrance? Also ye know how that
at the last the Lord came and answered me out of the whirlwind, and
rebuked us. And we made atonement for that which we had said amiss:
all but Elihu, for into him Satan had entered, and he had spoken evil
words against me; wherefore he departed, and made no atonement for
his sin.

Also ye know how the Lord restored to me my former state, and gave me
the double of all that I had possessed before; and how I married your
mother, and she bare me you: seven sons and three daughters, as it
is this day.

And now behold, my sons, I die; and as for you, forget not ye the
Lord, do good to the poor, pass not by the helpless, take not to
yourselves wives from among the heathen.

Moreover, Job said, "I will divide my substance among you, and each
of you shall possess his portion in peace."

Then Job divided his substance among his seven sons, but to his
daughters he gave none of it; and they were grieved, and said,
"Father, are we not also thy children?" And he answered, "Trouble not
yourselves, for I have prepared for you an inheritance better than
that of your brethren." And he called to him his eldest daughter, and
gave her his signet-ring, saying, "Go into the treasure-chamber and
bring me the three golden caskets which you will find there." And
when she had brought them, he opened them, and took from them three
cords, and gave one to each of his daughters. Now these cords were
exceeding beautiful, of many colours, and sending forth sparks of
light as it had been rays of the sun; and he said to his daughters,
"Gird them about you, and keep them all the days of your life."

But Keziah, the second of the daughters, said, "Father, is this that
excellent inheritance which you promised to us? What is the use of
these cords? Shall we be able to live by means of them?" And he
answered, "Not only so, but they will bring you even into the better
life. Know ye not, my children, what is the worth of these cords?
These are they which the Lord gave me on the day when He had mercy on
me and healed me of my sickness; for He gave them to me, and said to
me, 'Rise up, gird thy loins like a man, and I will inquire of thee
and thou shalt answer Me.' And I put them about me, and straightway
all my sores and plagues fell away from me, and my body was
strengthened as if I had never been sick; and, moreover, I forgot
all my pain and sorrow of heart. Now therefore, my children, so long
as ye have these about you, the enemy can do nothing against you; no,
not even to put into your minds evil thoughts. Arise, then, and gird
yourselves with them before I die."

Then they did so, and their hearts were changed and renewed within
them, so that they forgot the things of this world, and began to
speak in the language of the angels, singing praises to the Lord of
the heavens, and telling of the glory of that place and of the mighty
works of the Father. And I, Nahor, the brother of Job, who wrote this
testament, sat by and heard them; and that which I could I wrote down
in a book, to be for them that come after, that they might know
somewhat of the wonders of the Lord.

Now after three days wherein Job kept his bed--yet without pain or
sickness, for no disease had power over him since the day when he put
on that heavenly girdle--after three days, I say, he was aware of
those that were coming to bear away his soul. And he arose, and gave
to his eldest daughter a harp, and to the second a censer, and to the
third an instrument of music, that they might welcome those that were
on their way. And even as they took them into their hands they saw
the chariots of light approaching; and they uttered hymns of praise
and thanksgiving, each one in the language of them that dwell in the
holy places. Then He that sat in the great chariot came near and took
the soul of Job, embracing it in His arms in the sight of his
daughters; but no man else saw that sight. And He took it into the
chariot and departed towards the sunrising.

And after three days we made ready the body of Job to the burial; and
all the widows, and the fatherless, and the helpless came about us,
crying and saying, "Woe unto us this day, woe unto us! He that was
the strength of the weak, the light of the blind, the father of the
fatherless, the home of the homeless, is taken from us." And they
would not that his body should be hidden out of their sight. But when
we carried him to the sepulchre, his three daughters went before,
girded with the heavenly girdles, and giving glory to God in hymns
and psalms of thanksgiving. And we laid him in the tomb as it were
sleeping a fair sleep; and verily he left after him a name that
shall be famous and renowned in all generations.



SOLOMON AND THE DEMONS

In an ancient Greek book called The Testament (that is, the Last
Words') of Solomon, the story is told of the way in which Solomon
overcame the demons and made them serve him. The tale is put into the
mouth of the king himself.

When I was engaged upon the building of the temple in Jerusalem,
there was a lad, the son of the foreman of the builders, of whom I
took notice, for he was a clever workman. Indeed, so skilful was he
that I increased his wages and his allowance of food above the rest.
Yet in spite of that, as I saw him by day, I noticed that he was
becoming thin and weak and pale. So one day I called him and asked
him whether anything was the matter with him. At first he would not
tell me, but when I pressed him he said, "I know not whether you will
believe it, O king, but a strange thing has been afflicting me. Every
night when I go to my bed, something comes and sucks my right thumb,
and, moreover, it steals away my food; and I feel that it is taking
away all my strength, and I believe that it is an evil spirit." When
I heard that, I went back to my palace, and thought earnestly, and
consulted the writings of the ancients; and I prayed that a way might
be shown to me how I could set the lad free from the power of the
demon. And after some days there came to me an angel, and brought me
a ring with a stone in it, on which was cut the figure that is called
the Pentalpha and within it the Name that may not be spoken; and he
told me what I must do with it. On the morrow, therefore, I sent for
the lad and gave him the ring, saying, "Take this, and to-night, when
the creature comes, you must cast the ring into its bosom, and say, \
In the strength of the Name, King Solomon calleth thee.' Then rise up
and come running to me, and be not afraid for whatever the demon may
say to you."

So that night at the accustomed hour the wicked demon Ornias came to
the lad's chamber, with intent to suck his blood and take away his
food. But the lad remembered my words, and cast the ring upon the
demon, saying, "Come, for Solomon calleth thee," and set off at once
to my palace. But the demon shrieked out after him, "Boy, what hast
thou done? Take the ring from me, and I will give thee the hidden
gold of the earth; take it off, and bring me not before Solomon!" But
the lad took no heed; and running into the palace, he called to me,
"O king, I have brought the spirit, as you told me; he is there
before the door, screaming and entreating me and promising me the
hidden treasures of the earth if I will not force him to come to
you." Then I rose up from my throne and went out into the court of
the palace, and saw the creature, in the form of a flame of fire,
quivering and shrinking; and I stood over it, and said, "What is thy
name?" And it answered, "Ornias." And I bade Ornias reveal to me, in
the strength of the ring, how I should make him subject to me; and he
told me where his abode was, and how he afflicted men, and all that I
asked him. Then I sealed him with the seal of the ring, and appointed
him to hew stones for the building of the temple.

Thereafter, when I had considered what I should do, I called for
Ornias, and delivered the ring to him, and bade him bring before me
Beelzebul, the prince of all the demons. So Ornias went to Beelzebul,
and found him sitting upon his throne, and said, "Solomon calleth for
thee." And Beelzebul said scornfully, "Who is this Solomon of whom
thou speakest?" And Ornias cast the ring into the bosom of
Beelzebul, and said again, "Solomon calleth for thee." And at that
Beelzebul uttered a mighty roar, and cast forth from his mouth a
great flame of fire; but he must needs rise up from his throne and
follow Ornias, and stand before me. And when I saw him, I gave thanks
to the Most High, who had given me power over the demons. And I spoke
roughly to him; and he promised to bring before me all the demons,
and that they should be subject to me, and do all that I commanded
them. And I appointed him to saw blocks of marble in pieces for the
work of the temple; but when the other demons saw their lord and
master labouring like a slave, they shrieked aloud and were sorely
dismayed.

After that I sent for many of the chief of the demons, one by one,
and questioned them concerning their deeds, what diseases they sent
upon men, and what secret things they knew, and how they were to be
subdued; and when they had told me, I bound them, and set them to
work upon the building of the temple.

Now the shapes in which they appeared before me were manifold: one
was like a beautiful woman, but she had one foot like an ass's hoof;
and another like a man without a head, and a flame of fire coming out
of his neck; another like a great dog. These two I bound together,
and the dog kept watch over the headless man, and the flame of fire
that came from his neck gave light to the workmen by night. There
were also dragons, one with three heads, and one with the head of a
man. Another had a face that shone with a green light, and hair like
serpents, but the rest of his body was darkness; and yet another was
a dark man with shining eyes, and a drawn sword in his hand, who said
that he was the spirit of one of the old giants who perished in the
days of the flood. And of some I saw no shape, but only heard a
voice. But over all of them I had dominion, and I appointed them
tasks. Some I made to carry water to the builders, and some made
ropes; others melted the gold and silver, and others lifted the
stones. So the temple was built speedily, and I, Solomon, enjoyed
great honour and peace and tranquillity in my kingdom, and the kings
and princes of all the regions round about came to visit me, and
brought me precious gifts; and my kingdom was greatly exalted.

Now in those days, as I was sitting on my throne in the midst of my
palace (and Ornias the demon was standing by me), there came before
me an old man, one of my workmen, and cast himself down before me,
and cried to me to do him justice against his son; for his son
ill-treated him and beat him and plucked out his hair. When I heard
that, I had pity on him, for he was an old man, and weak; and I sent
for his son, and asked him why he dealt so with his father. But the
son denied it, saying, "I am not so given over to wickedness that I
should strike my father. Be it far from me, O king: I have done no
such evil." I sent him away, therefore, and called his father again,
and bade him be reconciled with his son; but he said, "Nay, but let
him die the death." Wherefore I was perplexed, and it was in my mind
to give sentence against the young man; but it happened that I
looked at Ornias the demon, and I saw that he was laughing. So I sent
the people away, and said to Ornias, "Accursed one, why dost thou
laugh at me?" He answered, "Forgive me, O king; it was not at
thee that I laughed, but at this wretched old man: because he is
contriving an evil death for his son, and, lo! in three days his son
will fall sick and die." Then said I, "Is this the truth?" And he
said, "It is." Then I sent for the old man and his son, and said to
them, "Strive to make agreement between yourselves, and after three
days come again to me; and in the meantime I will send you your food
from my table." And they did obeisance and departed. And when the
three days were past, I saw the old man come into the judgment-hall;
and he was dressed in garments of mourning, and his face was sad. I
said therefore to him, "Where is thy son?" And he answered, "I
have no son: this day have I carried him to his burial."

So when he was departed, I said to Ornias, "How was it that thou
knewest these things?" And he answered, "It is thus, O king. We who
are spirits can fly up into the air under the firmament, and we hover
about among the stars and overhear the decrees that go forth from the
heavens against the children of men when they are appointed to die.
But we cannot abide there for long, and so we become weak, and fall
like the leaves from the trees; and when men see us they say, 'Look,
there is a falling star.' But they are not in truth stars that fall,
since the stars have their appointed place in the heavens, like the
sun and the moon; but it is we, the spirits of the air, who are in
appearance like stars." And I sent Ornias away, and marvelled
greatly.

Again, in those days there came to me a letter from Adares the king
of the Arabians, saying, "To King Solomon, greeting! We have heard of
the wisdom that has been given to thee, and that thou art a
compassionate man, and that thou hast power over all spirits that are
in the air, or on the earth, or under the earth. Now be it known to
thee that there is a destroying spirit in this land; for every day at
dawn there arises a wind which blows for three hours, and it is so
venomous that every one on whom it blows dies, and it kills the
cattle also. Now therefore we entreat thee in thy wisdom to devise
some means, and if it may be, send us a man who can capture the
spirit; and if thou canst do so, then I and my people will be
tributary unto thee, and Arabia shall keep peace with thee. And, we
beseech thee, make not light of our petition, for we are in a great
strait. And so farewell."

When I had read this letter, I folded it up again and gave it to my
chief counsellor, saying, "Bring it again to my remembrance after
seven days." Then I thought upon the matter; and after the seven days
I called one of my servants and said to him, "Make ready a camel,
and get an empty wine-skin." And he did so. Now the wine-skin was
made of a whole hide of a beast, so that it had the upper parts of
the four legs remaining upon it, the legs being sewn up, and the neck
open. I said to him further, "Take this ring and go into Arabia, to
the place where the venomous wind blows, and take the skin and hold
the ring in front of the mouth of the skin towards the wind, so that
the wind shall blow through the ring; and when the skin is blown up,
you will know that the demon is inside it. Then hasten and tie up the
neck of the skin, and seal it with the ring, and put it upon the
camel, and bring it to me. But if on the way the demon promise you
gold and silver and treasures to let him go, see that you do not obey
him; but rather make him reveal to you where the treasures are hid,
and mark the places, and come on to me. Now go, and good success be
with you." So my servant set out and came to Arabia; and the men of
the country doubted much whether he could capture the spirit. But
when the day was dawning, even the first day after his coming, he
rose up and set the skin with its mouth towards the wind, and laid
the ring in the mouth of it; and the wind blew through the ring and
entered into the skin and puffed it up. And the man caught the neck
of the skin and closed it, and sealed it with the ring in the name of
the Most High. Then he abode yet three days in the place to make
trial of his success; but the poisonous wind blew no more, so that
all the Arabians were assured that the demon was safely shut up. And
they rejoiced greatly, and gave him many precious gifts, and did him
great honour; and when he set forth to come back to me, they
accompanied him to their borders. So he brought the skin back to
Jerusalem, and put it in the midst of the temple.

Now at this time I, Solomon, was somewhat in the place to make trial
of his success; but the poisonous wind blew no more, so that all the
Arabians were assured that the demon was safely shut up. And they
rejoiced greatly, and gave him many precious gifts, and did him great
honour; and when he set forth to come back to me, they accompanied
him to their borders. So he brought the skin back to Jerusalem, and
put it in the midst of the temple.

Now at this time I, Solomon, was somewhat troubled, because I had a
great stone made ready to be placed upon the corner of the temple, and
none of my workmen and none of the demons were able to lift it and set
it in its appointed place; but I was exceedingly desirous to put it
there, because it was of such beauty and excellence. And on the morning
after my servant was come back out of Arabia, I went down to the temple,
thinking by what means I could lift the stone. And as I entered the
temple I saw the skin; and it rose up and hopped seven paces, and fell
on its face and did obeisance to me; and I marvelled, and bade it stand
up; and it stood on its feet, puffed up with wind. Then I asked, "Who
are you?" And a voice answered me from within the skin, "I am Ephippas
who dwell in Arabia." And I said, "What can you do." And it answered, "I
can overturn kings' palaces, and wither the green trees of the wood, and
I can move mountains." Then I said, "Are you able to move this stone,
and lift it up and set it upon the corner of the temple?" And it said,
"Not only can I do so, O king, but if I have the demon that is in the
Red Sea to help me, I can bring up the great Pillar that is there, and
set it in whatever place you command." So I said, "Lift up the
corner-stone." And the skin first of all became flattened, as if the
wind was gone out of it, and slipped itself under the stone; and then it
blew itself out again so that the stone was lifted up upon its back, and
it walked upon its stumps, bearing the stone, to the ladder, and climbed
up and set the stone safely in its place upon the corner of the temple;
and I was greatly rejoiced, and all Jerusalem with me.

After that I sent Ephippas to fetch to me the demon that is in the
Red Sea, and commanded them to bring with them the great Pillar; and
after a while I saw the Pillar being borne through the air, and was
astonished at the strength of the two demons. And when I considered
with myself how mighty they were, and how they could shake the whole
world in a moment of time, I feared to let them go; I made therefore
a circle about them in the air with my ring, and said, "Stay there!"
And the demons stayed, holding the Pillar sloping between heaven and
earth; and there they are to this day. And if any one looks, he can
see the Pillar sloping in the heavens, but the demons he cannot see.
But when they let fall the Pillar, then will be the end of the
world.1

1 I believe that the Pillar is the Milky Way: it is certainly meant
to be one of the constellations.

Then I questioned the demon of the Red Sea and he told me how in old
times he resisted Moses in Egypt, and helped Jannes and Jambres, the
two wizards who fought against Moses; and how when Pharaoh followed
after the children of Israel he went with him; and when the sea
returned back and drowned the Egyptians, he was overtaken by it and
shut up in the depths, and he remained there until Ephippas came and
brought him to me.

Thus I, Solomon, had power over the spirits of the earth, and of the
air, and of the water, and made them serve me; and my kingdom was
exalted, and there was peace in my days. But when I became mighty my
heart was lifted up, and I committed foolishness; for I saw the
daughter of a certain Jebusite, and loved her exceedingly, and asked
for her in marriage. But her kinsfolk said, "You shall not take her
to be your wife except you worship our gods, even the great gods
Remphan and Moloch." Then I said, "I cannot worship strange gods; why
would you that I should do this?" They said, "Because they are the
gods of our fathers." And I refused. Then I went to the maiden and
entreated her; and she also said, "I will not hearken to you, except
you worship my gods." So I departed from her. But after a little, she
sent me five locusts by the hand of a messenger, saying, "Take these
five locusts and crush them in the name of the god Moloch, and I will
be your wife." And I did so. And forthwith my glory departed from me,
and I forgot my wisdom, and became weak and foolish in my mind; and
the heathen woman compelled me to build temples to the false gods, to
Baal, and Remphan, and Moloch; and my spirit was darkened within me,
and I became a byword among men and demons.

Therefore have I written this testament, that men might remember me,
and think of their latter end as well as of their beginning.



THE STORY OF EBEDMELECH THE
ETHIOPIAN, AND OF THE DEATH
OF JEREMIAH

When the time was come when it was ordained that Jerusalem should be
laid waste by the king of the Chaldeans, God spake to Jeremiah the
prophet, saying, "Depart out of this city, for I am about to destroy
it for the wickedness of them that dwell therein." But Jeremiah
answered, "Suffer me, I beseech thee, Lord, to speak a word." And He
said, "Say on." And Jeremiah said, "Wilt Thou indeed deliver Thy
chosen city into the hand of the Chaldeans, that their king may boast
himself against it and say, 'I have prevailed against the Holy City
of God'? Not so, Lord; but if it be Thy will to destroy it, overthrow
it rather with Thine own hand." And He said, "Neither the king nor
his power shall prevail to destroy it, unless I first open the gates
thereof to him. Come therefore at the sixth hour of the night to the
city wall, thou and Baruch the scribe, and I will show you what I
will do." Jeremiah therefore rent his clothes and put ashes upon his
head, and went and found Baruch in the temple; and when Baruch saw
him he was dismayed, and cried out, "What is the matter?" And when
Jeremiah had told him that which was proposed concerning the city, he
also rent his clothes; and they remained both of them in the holy
place all that day weeping.

But at the sixth hour of the night they went out and walked upon the
city wall. And suddenly they heard the sound of a trumpet in heaven,
and there came down angels bearing torches of fire in their hands,
and alighted upon the four corners of the wall of the city. Then
Jeremiah and Baruch perceived that the desolation of Jerusalem was
indeed at hand; and Jeremiah cried out to the angels, "I beseech you,
destroy not the city until I have spoken a word to the Most High." So
the angels stayed their hand; and Jeremiah said, "Lord, now we know
of a truth that the city will be delivered into the hands of the
Chaldeans; tell us, therefore, what wilt Thou that we shall do with
the holy vessels of the temple?" And he answered, "Commit them to the
earth, and say unto it, 'Hear, O earth, the voice of Him that
separated thee from among the waters, and sealed thee with seven
seals unto seven ages, even until the time wherein thou shalt be
renewed in beauty: keep these vessels of the sanctuary until the
coming of the Beloved.'" And Jeremiah continued and said, "I beseech
Thee, show me what I shall do for Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, because
he showed me great kindness and delivered me out of the pit wherein
Zedekiah cast me; and I would not have him see the desolation of the
city, for it would grieve him to the heart." The Lord said, "Send him
to the vineyard of Agrippa which is on the other side of the hill,
and I will shelter him until I bring back the people to the city. And
as for thee, go thou with thy people to Babylon, and remain there to
comfort them until they return hither. And let Baruch abide here
until I send him word."

Then he commanded the angels, and they brake down the corners of the
wall and loosened the foundations, and made weak the fastenings of
the gates; and after that a great voice sounded out of the temple,
saying, "Enter, ye enemies, and come in, ye adversaries; for He that
kept the house hath departed from it." And the angels went up again
into heaven. But Jeremiah and Baruch went into the temple, and took
the vessels of the sanctuary and delivered them to the earth, as they
were commanded; and forthwith the earth opened her mouth and
swallowed them up. And for the rest of that night they wept and
lamented; and in the morning Jeremiah called for Ebedmelech and said
to him, "Take a basket and go to the vineyard of Agrippa, and fetch
me some figs, that I may give them to the sick and needy among the
people; and the blessing of God go with thee." And Ebedmelech set
forth.

On that same morning the host of the Chaldeans surrounded the city,
and a trumpet sounded in heaven, and they came against the city; and
the gates gave way before them, and the wall fell, and they entered
the city and laid it desolate, and took the people captive. But
Jeremiah took the keys of the temple, and went outside the city and
threw them up towards the sun, saying, "O sun, I say unto thee, take
these keys and keep them until God shall require them of thee; for we
are not found worthy to keep them any longer." And they vanished out
of his sight. Then he returned, and the Chaldeans took him prisoner
and carried him away to Babylon. But Baruch fled, and took refuge in
a tomb, and there he remained in great sorrow of heart.

Now Ebedmelech had gathered the figs, and filled his basket; and by
the time he had finished, the day had become burning hot. So he sat
him down under a tree to rest a little, and then laid his head on the
basket of figs and fell into a slumber. And he slept for sixty-six
years without waking.

And when the sixty-six years were over, and the time of deliverance
of the children of Israel was near, Ebedmelech woke up, and said to
himself, "I should have been glad to sleep a little longer, for my
head is still heavy; I have not slept my sleep out." And he uncovered
his basket and looked at the figs, and saw that they were oozing with
juice; and said again, "Well, I should like to sleep yet a little,
but I am afraid I may oversleep myself; and if I do, father Jeremiah
will be disappointed; for if he had not been in haste for the figs,
he would not have sent me out so early." So he rose and picked up his
basket of figs and put it on his shoulder, and went back to
Jerusalem. When he came near the city he could not recognise it, and
when he had entered the gate he could not either find his own house
or see any of his acquaintance. He said therefore within himself,
"Some strange delusion has come upon me; I have missed my way in
coming over the hills: it must be that I was not fully awake. This
will be a wonderful thing to tell Jeremiah when I meet with him." And
he went out of the city. But when he looked back upon it, he could
see that it was indeed Jerusalem; and he said, "It is surely the
city, yet there is something wrong." He went into the city the second
time, but he could find none that knew him. And he said, "God
preserve me! Verily a delusion has fallen upon me," and went outside
the city and sat down with the basket of figs, saying, "Here will I
sit until my eyes are opened, and I can discern the truth." After
some time he saw an old man coming from the fields, and said to him,
"Old man, what is this city, I pray you?" The old man said, "It is
Jerusalem." Ebedmelech said, "Where are Jeremiah the prophet and
Baruch the scribe?" The old man answered, "You are certainly not of
this city, that you inquire concerning these men. Jeremiah is in
Babylon with the people that were carried away captive by
Nebuchadnezzar the king." Then Ebedmelech marvelled and said, "If
you were not an aged man, whom it is not lawful to mock, I should
have said you were mad. How many hours is it, think you, since
Jeremiah sent me to the garden of Agrippa for some figs for the sick
people, and I went and gathered them and slumbered for a little under
a tree, and have just now brought them back; and here they are with
the juice oozing from them, just as when I picked them; and you say
the people and Jeremiah are gone to Babylon!" And he opened the
basket and showed the figs. And when the old man saw them he said,
"Verily, my son, God has had mercy on you. He has spared you from
seeing the desolation of the city. Behold, to-day it is sixty-and-six
years since the people were carried away. And, if you believe not me,
look upon the trees and see that it is not the time of figs." Then
Ebedmelech asked, "What then is this month, and what is the day?"
And he answered, "It is the twelfth day of Nisan." And Ebedmelech
believed, and gave thanks to God; and after that he gave the old man
some of the figs, and bade him farewell, saying, "May God guide thee
to the Jerusalem which is above." And he went to find Baruch.

And after a while he found him dwelling in a tomb; and they greeted
one another, and rejoiced, and Ebedmelech told Baruch all that had
happened to him, and Baruch marvelled and praised God. Then they
consulted how they might send word to Jeremiah at Babylon; for they
perceived that the time of the return of Israel was at hand. And it
was revealed to them that on the morrow at dawn there should come a
messenger whom they might send.

On the morrow, therefore, Baruch rose early and went out of the tomb,
and saw an eagle sitting upon a rock hard by; and he called to it
and it came, and spoke with a man's voice, saying, "I am sent hither
to bear a message for thee." Baruch said, "Canst thou carry a letter
to Babylon, to Jeremiah the prophet?" And the eagle said, "To that
end am I sent." So they wrote a letter, and took fifteen of the figs
from the basket and hung them on the eagle's neck; and Baruch blessed
it, saying, "I say unto thee, O king of the birds, go in peace, and
bring back an answer to me. Be not like the raven, which Noah sent
out, and it returned no more to the ark; but be like the dove, which
returned the third day with an answer of peace. And if the birds of
the air come against thee, fight with them, and the power of God be
with thee. Turn neither to the right hand nor to the left, but go
straight as an arrow in the strength of the Most High."

Then the eagle flew and rested not till it came to Babylon; and there
it perched upon a tree in a desert place outside the city, and waited
until Jeremiah and some of the people passed by, carrying a dead man
to burial. And it rose up and lighted upon the bier of the dead man,
and he revived. And the eagle said to Jeremiah, "Gather the people
together, and take the letter which is upon my neck, and read it in
their ears." And he did so; and the people rejoiced, because the time
of their deliverance was at hand. Then Jeremiah wrote a letter to
Baruch, and put it upon the eagle's neck. And he blessed the eagle,
and sent it away; but the figs he gave to the sick among the people.
And the eagle returned to Jerusalem, and gave the letter to Baruch;
and when he read it he wept, because Jeremiah had written in it all
the afflictions which the people suffered at the hands of the
Chaldeans.

Now when the time was fulfilled, the people were set free from
Babylon, and returned to Jerusalem. And when they came back, they
rejoiced and gave thanks for their deliverance for nine days. And on
the tenth day Jeremiah stood up before all of them and sang a hymn of
praise; and when he had ended it, he fell on the ground and became as
one dead. When they saw that, Baruch and Ebed-melech lifted up their
voices and wept, saying, "Our father Jeremiah, the priest of God, is
departed from us!" And all the people ran together and saw Jeremiah
lying as dead; and they rent their clothes and bewailed him, and then
made ready to bury him. But there came a voice, saying, "Bury not the
living." And at that they left off preparing a sepulchre for him, and
waited, keeping watch about his body, till he should revive again.

And after three days the spirit of Jeremiah returned to him again,
and he rose up and prophesied; and in his prophecy he said, "There
shall be a Tree set up, which shall make the barren trees fruitful,
and the proud and fruitful trees barren; and the snow shall be turned
to blackness, and the sweet waters become bitter, and the scarlet
shall be white as wool. Moreover, He shall bless the isles that they
shall bear fruit by the word of His mouth; and He shall satisfy the
hungry souls." And thereafter he began to speak to them of the coming
of the Beloved into the world.

Now when the people heard it they were very angry and said, "He
blasphemeth. These are the words that Isaiah spake, and they sawed
him asunder with a saw of wood. Let us slay Jeremiah also, but him we
will stone with stones." And Baruch and Ebedmelech cried out against
them, "Do not this great wickedness!" But Jeremiah said, "Be silent,
for they shall not kill me before I have delivered to you all that I
have seen and heard. Fetch me a great stone." And when it was
brought, Jeremiah prayed and said, "O Light of the Ages, cause this
stone to appear in my likeness." And immediately the stone took upon
it the likeness of Jeremiah, and the people began to stone it,
believing that it was Jeremiah. And in the meantime he went on
speaking to Baruch and Ebedmelech until he had committed to them all
the mysteries which he had heard while he lay in a trance.

Then he arose and stood forth in the midst of the people, and the
stone cried out with a loud voice, "O foolish people, why stone ye
me, thinking that I am Jeremiah; and behold, he is in the midst of
you!" And their eyes were opened, and they ran upon him and stoned
him; and his ministry was accomplished.

But Baruch and Ebedmelech buried his body; and they took the stone
and set it up over his grave, and wrote upon it, "This is the helper
of Jeremiah."



AHIKAR

In the Book of Tobit in the Apocrypha you will find mention in
several places of a man called Achiacharus, who was a relation of
Tobit, In the first chapter (verses 21, 22) you read that he was a
great officer at the court of king Esarhaddon; and at the end of the
book (xiv. 10) you may learn something about his story; for Tobit
says to his son Tobias, "Remember, my son, how Aman handled
Achiacharus that brought him up, how out of light he brought him into
darkness, and how he rewarded him again; yet Achiacharus was saved,
but the other had his reward, for he went down into darkness," Then
it goes on, "Manasses gave alms, and escaped the snare that was set
for him, but Aman fell into the snare and perished."

Now of late years the book has come to light which tells the whole
history of Achiacharus (or Ahikar, as we shall call him), and you
will see as you go on that in the Book of Tobit some mistakes have
been made in the names, and that instead of Aman we shall have to
read Nadan, and instead of Manasses, Achiacharus.

This is the story of Ahikar. He is made to tell it himself, and he
says:

When I was a young man I was steward to the great king Esarhaddon,
the king of Nineveh. I was rich, and had great estates and beautiful
palaces; I had everything that my heart desired, except one thing:
and that was, a son. I had no child to comfort me and to inherit my
great possessions after me.

Many times did I go to the temples of the gods of Nineveh and offer
them sacrifices and gifts and burn incense before them; and I said,
"O gods, give me a son, that I may enjoy his company while I live,
and when I die he may close my eyes and bury me. And verily I am so
rich that if every day from the day of my death until he died he were
to take a bushel of my money and cast it away, he would not come to
the end of it before his death." But the gods of Nineveh made me no
answer.

Then I bethought me of the God of Israel, of whom I had learned when
I was a child (for I came out of the land of the Hebrews), and I
turned to Him and besought Him in like manner that He would grant me
a son. And a voice came to me saying, "Forasmuch as thou hast put
thy trust in false gods and sacrificed to them, thou shalt have no
son. Yet this do: take thy sister's son Nadan, who is a young child,
and bring him up as thine own son."

So I took Nadan and gave him to eight nurses to bring him up. He was
fed on all manner of dainties, he was clothed in purple and scarlet,
and slept on the softest beds. He grew up like a fair young
cedar-tree; and I instructed him in all my wisdom, until I was sixty
years old.

One day the king Esarhaddon returned from journeying through his
kingdom, and sent for me and said, "Ahikar, my friend, my faithful
and wise counsellor, you are becoming an old man. If you die, who
shall succeed you and serve me in your place?" I answered, "O king,
live for ever. There is with me the son of my sister, whom I have
brought up as my own son, and have instructed him in all the ways of
wisdom." The king said, "Go, bring him before me, and if I take
pleasure in him, he shall serve me in your stead, and you can have
rest from your labours, and joy and honour in your old age." So I
brought Nadan to the king; and when the king saw him, he delighted in
him and said, "The gods preserve you, my son!" And to me he said,
"As you have served me and my father Sennacherib, so shall this youth
serve me, and I will honour him and promote him for your sake." And I
gave thanks to the king, and we went out, I and Nadan, from his
presence. And I took Nadan home and spoke to him in private, telling
him how he should conduct himself, and of what men he ought to
beware, and whom he should trust. All these precepts are written in
the book of Ahikar, but they are not put down here.

Now I hoped that Nadan would pay heed to my words of instruction; but
when the king had exalted him, and taken him to live at the palace
with him, I was grieved to see that Nadan began to become wasteful
and unruly, and that, if I had suffered him, he would have squandered
my money and ill-treated my servants. I admonished him, therefore,
but it was in vain. He said, "My uncle Ahikar is getting old and
timorous: his wisdom is failing him: one need not pay much heed to
what he says." And by degrees I saw that the king began to believe
Nadan, and that he no longer received me with such honour as in the
old days: and this was a grief to me.

Now as I no longer had Nadan to live with me, I considered, and took
his younger brother Nabu-zardan into my house. But when Nadan heard
of this, he was very angry, for he thought, "Is this old man going to
leave all his possessions to my younger brother, and turn me out?"
So he began to think and plot how he might put me out of the way, and
himself gain favour with the king.

And at last he sat down and wrote certain letters. In the first he
deceitfully imitated my handwriting, and sealed it with my seal. It
was written in my name to the king of Persia, saying, "From Ahikar,
scribe and treasurer to Esar-haddon, king of Assyria, greeting! As
soon as thou hast received this letter, set forth with thine host,
and come to the plain of the south, on the 25th day of this month,
and I will guide thee to Nineveh, and thou shalt take the city and
possess the kingdom without any strife or battle." This letter he
left lying in my chamber in the palace.

The other was written to me in the king's name, and sealed with his
seal, "To Ahikar from Esarhaddon, greeting! As soon as thou receivest
this letter, assemble the army, and go to the plain of the south, on
the 25th day of this month; and when thou shalt see me, range the
troops as if for battle, and come quickly towards me: for I have the
ambassadors of the king of Egypt with me, and I desire that they
should see the might of my army." This letter Nadan sent to me, and I
began to make preparations as it commanded me. Thereafter Nadan took
the first letter, feigning to have found it in my chamber, and
brought it to king Esarhaddon. And when the king had read it, he was
very angry and said, "O ye gods! what have I done to Ahikar that he
should seek to betray me thus?" Nadan said, "Perhaps, my lord, it is
a forgery; be not too soon disturbed; let us wait till the day
appointed, and then go to the plain of the south; if Ahikar is not
there, we shall know that the letter is not his; but if he is there,
and armed men with him, I fear that he must indeed be conspiring
against thee." And the king consented.

On the twenty-fifth day of the month, therefore, the king and Nadan
set forth and rode out to the plain of the south. And I, as I had
been commanded, was there with the great army which I had gathered;
and so soon as I saw the king and his train approaching, I drew up
the soldiers in battle array and marched quickly towards him, and the
soldiers waved their weapons and shouted, and there was a great
noise. Then the king was very sorely troubled, for he was sure that I
had rebelled against him. But Nadan said, "Go back, my lord king, to
the palace; I will capture that evil old man and bring him before
you." And the king departed with his servants.

But Nadan rode up to me and said, "All that you have done is right,
and well performed; the king is greatly pleased with you, and desires
that you will send away the soldiers to their homes and come before
him alone to receive your reward." So we rode into the city, and he
brought me into the palace, where the king was seated on his throne,
and all his servants about him; and I perceived that the king was in
displeasure, but I knew not why. Then he put into my hand the letter
which was written in my name to the king of Persia, and said, "Read
that letter." And when I had read it, my knees knocked against each
other, and I was speechless; I sought for a word of wisdom, but I
found none. Nadan cried aloud, "O wicked and foolish old man, come
forth from the presence of the king; stretch out thy hands for the
cords and thy feet for the fetters!" And they bound me.

Then the king Esarhaddon turned away his face from me and spoke to
Nabushemak, the chief of the executioners, who had been my friend,
and said, "Take Ahikar, smite off his head, and remove it a hundred
ells from his body." And I fell on my face and said, "O king, live
for ever! It is thy will to slay me, yet I know that I have not
sinned against thee. Now, my lord, I beseech thee, command that I may
be slain before the door of my own house, and that my body may be
given to my wife to be buried." And the king gave commandment
accordingly.

Now as they were taking me to my house, I sent a messenger before me
to my wife Ashfagni, who was a very wise woman. And she, when she
heard what had happened, did not waste time in making lamentation,
but hastened and prepared refreshment for Nabushemak and for the
slaves that were his helpers. She came forth to meet them, and
accompanied them into the house, and set food and wine before them;
and the slaves drank of the wine till they were drunken and fell into
a deep sleep, every one in his place.

Then I said to Nabushemak, "Do you remember how, when the father of
the king delivered you to me to be put to death, I spared you because
I knew that you had not done that for which you were condemned; and
how, when the king learned that you were guiltless, he took you into
favour again, and rewarded me? Now I swear to you that I likewise
have not conspired against king Esarhaddon, but I have been falsely
accused. Save me therefore; but lest the rumour should be spread
abroad that I have not been put to death, do this. I have a prisoner
in my house who is condemned justly to death. Take my clothes and put
them upon him, and smite off his head; behold, your servants are
drunken and will perceive nothing, and I will be in hiding until the
day when the truth is made known."

And Nabushemak was glad--for he was my friend--and agreed; and it was
done as I advised. The slaves took the prisoner and smote off his
head, perceiving nothing, and gave his body to be buried instead of
me; and it was published throughout all Nineveh and Assyria that
Ahikar was dead.

Then Nabushemak and my wife Ashfagni made a hiding-place in the
ground; it was four cubits long and three broad and five in height,
and it was covered with a stone. There they hid me, and gave me bread
and water to eat, secretly, and there I abode many days. But
Esarhaddon was grieved in spirit, and said to Nadan, "Go to the
house of Ahikar and celebrate his funeral, for he was thy uncle, and
served me and my father faithfully for a long time." So Nadan came to
my house; but he did not celebrate my funeral. He gathered together
strange men and women, and feasted with them, and sang, and drank,
and was drunken. He mocked at my wife Ashfagni, and as for my
servants, who loved me and had been long in my house, he stripped
them and beat them and ill-treated them until I heard the voice of
their weeping and crying in my hiding-place, and I prayed the Most
High to deliver us and to reward Nadan according to his works.

II

Now when Pharaoh, king of Egypt, heard that I, Ahikar, was dead, he
was very glad; for he had always stood in awe of my wisdom. And he
wrote a letter to Esarhaddon in these words: "Pharaoh, king of Egypt,
to Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, greeting! I desire to build a castle
between heaven and earth. Send me therefore a wise man to whom I may
commit the business. If he accomplishes all that I require and
answers all my questions, I will send you by his hands the whole
revenue of Egypt for three years. But if you cannot send me such a
man, then you must send to me, by my messenger, the whole revenue of
Assyria for three years. And if not, I shall come against you and lay
your land desolate. And so farewell."

When the letter was read before Esarhaddon, he called together his
princes and counsellors and wise men, and said to them, "Which of you
will go to Egypt and answer the questions of Pharaoh?" They said,
"Lord and king, in the time of your father it was Ahikar the scribe
who answered all hard questions and solved all difficulties; and
behold, now you have with you his sister's son Nadan, who has been
instructed in his wisdom and can do all that you require." So the
king turned to Nadan and said, "Will you go to Egypt and answer
Pharaoh?" But Nadan said, "It is folly! The gods themselves could
not build a castle between heaven and earth; how then should the
children of men accomplish such a thing?" When the king heard that,
he arose and came down from his throne, and threw himself on the
ground lamenting and saying, "Alas, alas, I am undone. I have slain
my servant Ahikar at the word of a foolish boy, and there is none
like him left! Who can give him back to me?"

Then Nabushemak spoke and said, "O king, live for ever. He that
disobeys the commandments of his master is worthy of death. Say
therefore the word, and let them hang me on a tree; for Ahikar, whom
you bade me slay, is not dead, but living!" The king said, "O
Nabushemak, if it be as you say, and if you can show me Ahikar alive,
I will give you ten thousand talents of gold and a hundred robes of
purple. Say on, therefore." Nabushemak said, "One thing I ask of my
lord: that he will not keep this my trespass in mind, nor store up
wrath against me." And the king sware to him.

Nabushemak went forth immediately and mounted his chariot, and drove
swiftly to my house. He uncovered the hiding-place and brought me
forth, and took me up into his chariot and led me into the presence
of the king. And when the king saw me, he wept; for I was in evil
plight. My hair was grown over my shoulders, and my beard reached
down to my girdle; my body was foul with dirt, and my nails were as
long as eagles' claws; my eyes were dim from the darkness, and my
limbs were stiff so that I could scarcely walk. And the king said,
"O Ahikar, it is not I that have brought this misery upon you, but he
whom you have brought up as your own son." I answered, "O king,
since mine eyes have looked upon you I have no more sorrow or pain."
The king said, "Go to your house, bathe your body, and cut your
hair; refresh yourself and take your rest for forty days; then come
back to me." And I did so. But after twenty days I had recovered my
strength, and I went back to the king. Then he showed me the letter
of the king of Egypt, saying, "Behold, Ahikar, the burden which they
would lay upon me and upon my kingdom." And I answered, "O king,
live for ever. Trouble not yourself, nor be disquieted about this
matter. I will go to Egypt and answer the hard questions; and I will
bring back to you the revenues of Egypt for three years." So the king
was comforted; he rejoiced greatly, and made a feast, and gave me
rich presents.

Immediately after this, I began to make ready for my journey; and
first I ordered my huntsmen to catch two young eagles alive. I also
chose from among my servants two young boys whose names were Nabuchal
and Tabshalom, and taught them to ride upon the backs of the eagles;
and after a while the eagles became accustomed to bear them up in the
air. I also taught them certain words which they should say at the
appointed time, and practised them until they knew perfectly what
they had to do.

And when all was prepared, I set forth with a great company and went
to Egypt. It was told Pharaoh that an embassy was come from Nineveh,
and he sent for me, and when I appeared before him he asked who I
was. And I answered, "I am Abikam, one of the least of the servants
of Esar-haddon." Pharaoh was displeased, and said, "Am I then so much
despised by your master that he sends me the least of his servants?"
I said, "My lord Esarhaddon is so far exalted above his servants that
in his sight the great and the small are all alike." He said, "Depart
from my presence, and to-morrow come again to me."

Then Pharaoh, who desired foolishly to make himself appear great in
our eyes, arrayed himself in purple, and made his nobles put on
scarlet and stand about him; and when I came into his presence he
asked me to what I compared him. I said, "My lord, you are like the
god Bel, and your nobles are like his priests." And in like manner on
the following days he dressed himself in various colours, and each
day asked me what I should liken him to. And I said, "To the sun" on
one day, and "To the moon" on the next, and on the third day, "To the
spring and the flowers of it." And he was greatly pleased, and said,
"Abikam, you have compared me to the god Bel, and to the sun and the
moon and the spring; now tell me, to what do you liken your master
Esarhaddon?" I said, "I cannot tell you, O king, until you have
risen from your throne." So Pharaoh stood up, and I said, "My lord
Esarhaddon is like the great God of Heaven in respect of you: He has
dominion over the god Bel, He can forbid the sun to shine and the
moon to rise, and He can lay waste the spring and all the flowers
thereof." Then Pharaoh was displeased and said, "I adjure you by the
life of your lord Esarhaddon, tell me, what is your name, in very
deed?" I answered, "I am Ahikar the scribe, and the seal of
Esarhaddon is in my keeping."

Pharaoh was troubled when he learned that I was yet alive, and he
sent me away, saying, "Tomorrow come to me and tell me a thing which
neither I nor my nobles have ever heard." So I took thought, and
wrote in the name of Pharaoh a bond in which it was said that he owed
to my lord Esarhaddon nine hundred talents of gold. And next day I
brought it before Pharaoh; but before I had opened it the nobles
cried out, saying, "We know it of old, we know it well!" Then said I,
"I thank you for acknowledging the debt." And I gave the paper to
the king, and he looked on it and said to them, "What! Do you
acknowledge that I owe nine hundred talents of gold to Esarhaddon?"
And they were confounded, and cried out again, "No! no! we have never
heard of any such thing." So I said, "If it be so, I have done what
you required."

But Pharaoh said, "It is enough: I have sent for you to build me a
castle between the earth and the heavens; even a thousand cubits above
the earth. Come forth into the plain to-morrow and accomplish this." And
I said, "Well, O king; and do you for your part bring masons and that
which is necessary for building." So on the morrow a great multitude
assembled to see how the matter would go. But I had my eagles and my
boys in readiness; and when Pharaoh gave the word, I sent them up, the
boys riding on the eagles; and when they were high up in the air, the
boys called out, as I had taught them, "Bring us mortar, lime, and
stones: we are ready to begin the building!" And the masons and all the
people were amazed, gaping at the boys. And I fell upon the masons and
beat them, saying, "Why delay you? Make haste, give them what they ask
for," and such-like words, till they fled before me. And I said to
Pharaoh, "If your people refuse to do their part, how can I do mine?"
And Pharaoh and his nobles murmured, but they could not think of any
answer. So Pharaoh said, "It is enough; leave the matter of the castle;
I have other questions to ask you."

On the morrow he called for me, and said, "I saw a great pillar built
of 8763 bricks, and about it are planted twelve cedars, and each has
thirty branches, and on each branch are a black and a white mouse
which gnaw it." I laughed and made answer, "O king, there is not a
child in the land of Assyria who could not interpret this riddle. The
pillar is the year, the bricks are the hours, the cedars the months,
their branches the days, and the black and white mice are the night
and the day."

Pharaoh's face fell, and he said, "Well. But now I command you to
plait me a rope out of the sand." I answered, "Let them bring me a
pattern out of your store-house, O king, that I may have it to copy."
He said, "You trifle with me; and unless you plait me such a rope I
will not pay you the revenues of Egypt." I went aside therefore and
considered; and knowing that the Egyptians were foolish, I thought
upon a plan. I got a mass of sand and put it in a chest, and made it
run out through two pipes so that when the sun shone upon it, it
appeared like the strands of a rope; and I called to the king, "Let
your servants plait together the two strands of the rope which I have
made, and when they have done so I will make more." And again they
were dismayed, and could say nothing.

Lastly, Pharaoh showed me a millstone which was broken in two pieces,
and said, "Come, Ahikar, sew this together for me." But I took a
small piece of a like stone, and said, "O king, I have not my tools
with me; but command your shoemaker to cut me a thread out of this
piece of stone, and I will sew the millstone together forthwith."
Then Pharaoh laughed, and said, "Well, Ahikar, it was on a good day
for your lord that you were born. Come, I will make you a feast, and
after that you shall return to your own land."

So after certain days I departed, taking with me the revenues of
Egypt for three years, and also the nine hundred talents which I had
made Pharaoh acknowledge that he owed to my lord. And Esar-haddon
came forth to meet me; and when he heard what I had done, he made me
sit down on his right hand, and said, "Ahikar, ask what thou wilt and
I will give it thee." Then I said, "O king, live for ever! Two
things only will I require of thee: one, that thou wouldst do good
unto Nabushemak, for it is by his means that I was saved alive; and
the other, that thou wouldst give me power over my sister's son
Nadan, and not require his life at my hand." And the king granted my
request, and exalted Nabushemak to the first rank in his kingdom;
but Nadan he delivered into my hand.

I took Nadan to the hall of my house, and set him with his feet in
the stocks, and a collar of iron about his neck, and iron bands upon
his hands; I fed him with bread and water, and chastised him with
rods. And when I came in or out of my house I stood and reproached
him, speaking in parables and proverbs.

Now these are some of the parables which I spake to Nadan:

"My son, thou art like one that shot an arrow into the heaven to slay
God: the arrow fell back upon him and pierced him."

"Thou art like one that saw his neighbour shivering with cold, and
took a vessel of cold water and poured it over him."

"Thou didst think to take my place after my death; but know that even
if the tail of the pig grew seven cubits long, no man would mistake
the pig for a horse."

"Thou art like the trap that was set on a dunghill. The sparrow saw
it and said, 'Brother, what dost thou here?' The trap answered, 'I
am fasting and praying.' The sparrow said, 'And what is that piece
of wood by thee?' The trap said, 'My staff upon which I lean when I
pray.' 'And what is that in thy mouth?' 'It is a little food for
hungry wayfarers.' Then said the sparrow, 'I am hungry and a
wayfarer.' 'Come hither then,' said the trap, 'and fear nothing.'
But when the sparrow came, the trap caught it by the head; and the
sparrow said, 'If these be thy fastings and prayers, God will not
accept thy fasting nor hearken to thy prayer.'"

"Thou art like the pig that went to the bath along with the nobles;
and when it had bathed and come forth, it saw a pool of mud, and went
and rolled therein."

"Hearken: a serpent was sleeping on a thorn-bush, and a flood came
and swept them both away. And a wolf saw them floating on the water,
and said, 'There goes one evil upon another evil, and a third evil
carrying them off.' The serpent said, 'And dost thou bring back the
kids and lambs to their mothers?' 'Nay,' said the wolf. The serpent
said, 'I know not whether there is much to choose betwixt us.'"

"Thou art like the mole that came up out of the ground to curse God
because He had not given to it sharpness of sight; and the eagle saw
it, and carried it off."

"When men say to the wolf, 'Get away from the flock,' he saith,
'Nay, but the dust thereof is healing to mine eyes.' When they took
him to the school, the teacher said, 'Say A.' The wolf said,
'Lamb.' 'Say B.' He answered, 'Kid.' Surely he spake of that which
was in his thoughts."

At last, after many days, Nadan besought me, saying, "Have mercy on
me, spare my life, and I will feed thy swine and keep thine asses,
and be thy slave for ever."

And I said, "Thou art like the palm-tree which bare no dates, and the
owner came to cut it down; and it said, 'Leave me this one year, and
next year I will bear melons.' But he said, 'Thou that hast not
borne thine own fruit, how wilt thou bear one that is not thine?'
Now, behold, I will say no more to thee, O Nadan; but let God, who
preserved me alive, judge between thee and me."

And forthwith judgment went forth against Nadan, and his body swelled
up and burst, and he died. For it is written, "He that diggeth a pit
for another shall fall into the midst of it himself."

THE END



Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & Co. at Paul's Work, Edinburgh





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