We here begin,184 with the aidance of Allah Almighty, and invite the History of the Tarjumánah185 and the Kahramanah186 and the young man, the King’s son, and whatso happed between them of controversy and of contention and interrogation on various matters.
It is related (but Allah is All-knowing anent what passed and preceded us of the histories belonging to bygone peoples) that there reigned in a city of Roum187 a King of high degree and exalted dignity, a lord of power and puissance. But this Sovran was issue-less, so he ceased not to implore Allah Almighty that boon of babe might be vouchsafed to him, and presently the Lord had pity upon him and deigned grant him a man-child. He bade tend the young Prince with tenderest tending, and caused him to be taught every branch of knowledge, and the divine precepts of wisdom and morals and manners; nor did there remain aught of profitable learning wherein the Youth was not instructed; and upon this education the King expended a mint of money. Now after the Youth grew up Time rounded upon the Sovran his sire and his case was laid bare and he was perplext as to himself and he wotted not whatso he should ever do. Presently his son took heart to direct him aright, and asked, “O my father, say me, wilt thou give ear to that wherewith I would bespeak thee?” “Speak out,” quoth the King, “that is with thee of fair rede;” and quoth the youth, “Rise, O my sire, that we depart this city ere any be ware of our wending; so shall we find rest and issue from the straits of indigence now closing around us. In this place there is no return of livelihood to us and poverty hath emaciated us and we are set in the sorriest of conditions than which naught can be sorrier.” “O my child,” quoth his sire in reply, “admirable is this advice wherewith thou hast advised us, O my son, pious and dutiful; and be the affair now upon Allah and upon thee.” Hereupon the Youth gat all ready and arising one night took his father and mother without any being cognisant; and the three, entrusting themselves to the care of Allah Almighty, wandered forth from home. And they ceased not wandering over the wilds and the wolds till at last they saw upon their way a large city and a mighty fine; so they entered it and made for a place whereat they alighted. Presently the young Prince arose and went forth to stroll about the streets and take his solace; and whilst he walked about he asked concerning the city and who was its Sovran. They gave him tidings thereof saying, “This be the capital of a Sultan, equitable and high in honour amongst the Kings.” Hereupon returning to his father and mother, quoth he to them, “I desire to sell you as slaves to this Sultan,188 and what say ye?” Quoth they, “We have committed our case to Almighty Allah and then to thee, O our son; so do whatso thou wishest and judgest good.” Hereat the Prince, repairing to the Palace, craved leave to enter to the King and, having obtained such permission, made his obeisance in the presence. Now when the Sultan looked upon him he saw that his visitor was of the sons of the great, so he asked him, “What be thy need, Ho thou the Youth?” and the other made answer, “O my lord, thy slave is a merchant man and with me is a male captive, handy of handicraft, God-fearing and pious, and a pattern of honesty and honour in perfect degree: I have also a bondswoman goodly in graciousness and of civility complete in all thou canst command of bondswomen; these I desire to vend, O my lord, to thy Highness, and if thou wouldst buy them of thy servant they are between thy hands and at thy disposal, and we all three are thy chattels.” When the King heard these pleasant words spoken by the Youth, he said to him, “And where are they? Bring them hither that I behold them; and, if they be such as thou informest me, I will bid them be bought of thee!” Hereupon the Prince fared forth and informed his parents of this offer and said to them, “Rise up with me that I vend you and take from this Sultan your price wherewith I will pass into foreign parts and win me wealth enough to redeem and free you on my return hither. And the rest we will expend upon our case.” “O our son,” said they, “do with us whatso thou wishest.” Anon,189 the parents arose and prepared to accompany him and the Youth took them and led them into the presence of that Sultan where they made their obeisance, and the King at first sight of them marvelled with extreme marvel and said to them, “Are ye twain slaves to this young man?” Said they, “Yes, O our lord;” whereupon he turned to the Youth and asked him, “What be the price thou requirest for these two?” “O my lord,” replied he, “give me to the price of this man slave, a mare saddled and bridled and perfect in weapons and furniture;190 and, as for this bondswoman, I desire thou make over to me as her value, a suit of clothes, the choicest and completest.” Accordingly the Sultan bade pay him all his requirement, over and above which he largessed him with an hundred dinars; and the Youth, after obtaining his demand and receiving such tokens of the royal liberality, kissed the King’s hands and farewelled his father and mother. Then he applied himself to travel, seeking prosperity from Allah and all unknowing whither he should wend. And whilst he was faring upon his wayfare he was met by a horseman of the horsemen,191 and they both exchanged salutations and welcomings, when the stranger was highly pleased at the politeness of the King’s son and the elegance of his expressions. Presently, pulling from his pocket a sealed letter wrapt in a kerchief he passed it over to the Youth, saying, “In very sooth, O my brother, affection for thee hath befallen my heart by reason of the goodliness of thy manners and elegance of thine address and the sweetness of thy language; and now I desire to work thy weal by means of this missive.” “And what of welfare may that be?” asked the Prince, whereto the horseman answered, “Take with thee this letter and forthwith upon arriving at the Court of the King whither thou art wending, hand to him this same; so shalt thou obtain from him gain abundant and mighty great good and thou shalt abide with him in degree of highmost honour. This paper (gifted to me by my teacher) hath already brought me ample livelihood and prodigious profit, and I have bestowed it upon thee by reason of thine elegance and good breeding and thy courteousness in showing me respect.” Hereat the Youth, the son of the King, answered him, “Allah requite thee with weal and grant thou gain thy wish;” and so saying accepted the letter of that horseman with honest heart and honourable intent, meditating in his mind, “Inshallah ta’ála — an it be the will of God the Greatest I shall have good fortune to my lot by the blessing of this epistle; then will I fare and set free my father and my mother.” So the Prince resumed his route and he exulted in himself especially at having secured the writ, by means whereof he was promised abundant weal. Presently, it chanced that he became drowthy with excessive drowth that waxed right sore upon him and he saw upon his path no water to drink; and by the tortures of thirst he was like to lose his life. So he turned round and looked at the mare he bestrode and found her covered with a foam of sweat wholly unlike her wonted way. Hereat dismounting he brought out the wrapper wherein the letter was enrolled and loosing it he mopped up therewith his animal’s sweat and squeezing it into a cup he had by him drank it off and found to his joy that he was somewhat comforted. Then, of his extreme satisfaction with the letter, he said to himself, “Would Heaven I knew that which is within, and how the profit which the horseman promised should accrue to me therefrom. So let me open it and see its contents that my heart may be satisfied and my soul be joyed.” Then he did as he devised and perused its purport and he mastered its meaning and the secret committed to it, which he found as follows, “O my lord, do thou straightway on the arrival of him who beareth these presents slay him, nor leave him one moment on life; because this Youth came to me and I entreated him with honour the highmost that could be of all honouring, as a return for which this traitor of the salt, this reprobate betrayed me in a daughter that was by me. I feared to do him dead lest I come to shame amongst the folk and endure disgrace, I and my tribe, wherefore I have forwarded him to thy Highness that thou mayest torture him with torments of varied art and end his affair and slaughter him, thus saving us from the shame which befel us at the hands of this reprobate traitor.”192 Now when the young Prince read this writ and comprehended its contents, he suspected that it was not written concerning him and he took thought in himself, saying, “Would Heaven I knew what I can have done by this horseman who thus seeketh diligently to destroy my life, for that this one had with him no daughter, he being alone and wending his way without any other save himself; and I made acquaintance with him nor passed there between us a word which was unworthy or unmeet. Now this affair must needs have one of two faces; to wit, the first, that such mishap really did happen to him from some youth who favoureth me and when he saw the likeness he gave me the letter; or, on the second count, this must be a trial and a test sent to me from Almighty Allah, and praise be to God the Great who inspired me to open this missive. At any rate I thank the Most Highest and laud Him for His warding off the distress and calamity descending upon me and wherefrom He delivered me.” Then the young Prince ceased not wending over the wildest of wolds until he came to a mighty grand city which he entered; and, hiring himself a lodging in a Khan,193 dismounted thereat; then, having tethered his mare and fed her with a sufficiency of fodder, he fared forth to walk about the thoroughfares. Suddenly he was met by an ancient dame who considered him and noted him for a handsome youth and an elegant, tall of stature and with the signs of prosperity showing manifest between his eyes. Hereat he accosted her and questioned her of the city folk and their circumstances, whereto the old woman made reply with the following purport, “Here in our city reigneth a King of exalted dignity and he hath a daughter fair of favour, indeed the loveliest of the folk of her time. Now she hath taken upon herself never to intermarry with any of mankind unless it be one who can overcome her with instances and arguments and can return a sufficient reply to all her questions; and this is upon condition that, should he come off vanquisher, he shall become her mate, but if vanquished she will cut off his head, and on such wise hath she done with ninety-and-nine men of the noblest blood, as sons of the Kings and sundry others. Furthermore, she hath a towering castle founded upon the heights that overfrown the whole of this city whence she can descry all who pass under its walls.” As soon as the young Prince heard these words from the love of the King’s daughter and he passed that night as it were to him the longsomest of nights, nor would he believe that the next morn had morrowed. But when dawned the day and anon showed its sheen and shone, he arose without let or stay and after saddling his mare mounted her and turned towards the palace belonging to the King’s daughter; and presently reaching it, took his station at the gateway. Hereat all those present considered him and asked him saying, “What be the cause of thy standing hereabouts?” whereto he answered, “I desire speech with the Princess.” But when they heard these words, all fell to addressing him with kindly words and courteous and dissuading him from his desire and saying, “Ho thou beautiful youngling! fear194 Allah and pity thyself and have ruth upon thy youth; nor dare seek converse with this Princess, for that she hath slain fourscore and nineteen men of the nobles and sons of the kings and for thee sore we fear that thou shalt complete the century.” The Prince, however, would not hear a word from them nor heed their rede; neither would he be warned by the talk of others than they; nay he persisted in standing at the Palace gateway. And presently he asked admission to go in to the King’s daughter; but this was refused by the Princess, who contented herself with sending forth to him her Tarjumánah, her Linguist-dame, to bespeak him and say, “Ho thou fair youth! art thou ready and longing to affront dangers and difficulties?” He replied, “I am.” “Then,” quoth she, “hie thee to the King the father of this Princess and show thyself and acquaint him with thine affair and thine aim, after which do thou bear witness against thyself in presence of the Kazi that an thou conquer his daughter in her propositions and she fail of replying to a query of thine thou shalt become her mate; whereas if she vanquish thee she shall lawfully cut off thy head,195 even as she hath decapitated so many before thy time. And when this is done come thou back to us.” The Prince forthright fared for the monarch and did as he was bidden; then he returned to the Linguist-dame and reported all his proceedings before the King and eke the Kazi. After this he was led in to the presence of the Princess and with him was the afore-mentioned Tarjumánah who brought him a cushion of silk for the greater comfort of his sitting; and the two fell to questioning and resolving queries and problems in full sight of a large attendance. Began the Tarjumánah, interpreting the words of her lady who was present, “Ho thou the Youth! my mistress saith to thee, Do thou inform me concerning an ambulant moving sepulchre whose inmate is alive.” He answered and said, “The moving sepulchre is the whale that swallowed Jonas (upon whom be the choicest of Salams!196), and the Prophet was quick in the whale’s belly.” She pursued, “Tell me concerning two combatants who fight each other but not with hands or feet, and who withal never say a say or speak a speech.” He answered saying, “The bull and the buffalo who encounter each other by ramming with horns.” She continued, “Point out to me a tract of earth which saw not the sun save for a single time and since that never.” He answered saying, “This be the sole of the Red Sea when Moses the Prophet (upon whom be The Peace!) smote it with his rod and clove it asunder so that the Children of Israel crossed over it on dry ground, which was never seen but only once.”197 She resumed, “Relate to me anent that which drank water during its life-time and ate meat after its death?” He answered saying, “This be the Rod198 of Moses the Prophet (upon whom be The Peace!) which, when a living branch199 struck water from its living root and died only when severed from the parent tree. Now Almighty Allah cast it upon the land of Egypt by the hand of Moses, what time this Prophet drowned Pharaoh and his host200 and therewith clove the Red Sea, after which that Rod became a dragon and swallowed up the wands of all the Magicians of Misraim.” Asked she, “Give me tidings of a thing which is not of mankind nor of the Jánn-kind, neither of the beasts nor of the birds?” He answered saying, “This whereof thou speakest is that mentioned by Solomon, to with the Louse,201, and secondly the Ant.” She enquired, “Tell me to what end Almighty Allah created the creation and for what aim of wisdom did He quicken this creation and for what object did He cause death to be followed by resurrection and resurrection by the rendering men’s accounts?” He answered saying, “God created all creatures that they might witness His handicraft, and he did them die that they might behold his absolute dominion and He requickened them to the end that they learn His All-Might, and He decreed their rendering account that they might consider His wisdom and His justice.” She questioned him saying, “Tell me concerning three, of whom my first was not born of father and mother and yet died; and my second was begotten of sire and born of woman yet died not, and my third was born of father and mother yet died not by human death?” He answered saying, “The first were Adam and Eve,202 the second was Elias203 the Prophet and the third was Lot’s wife who died not the death of the general, for that she was turned into a pillar of salt.” Quoth she, “Relate to me concerning one who in this world had two names?” and he answered saying, “This be Jacob, sire of the Twelve Tribes, to whom Allah vouchsafed the title of Israel, which is Man with El or God.”204 She said, “Inform me concerning the Nákús, or the Gong,205 who was the inventor thereof and at what time was it first struck in this world?” He answered saying, “The Gong was invented by Noah, who first smote upon it in the Ark.” And after this she stinted not to question him nor he to ree her riddles until evening fell, when quoth the King’s daughter to the Linguist-dame, “Say thou to the young man that he may now depart, and let him come to me betimes next morning when, if I conquer him, I will give him drink of the cup his fellows drained; and, should he vanquish me, I will become his wife.” Then the Tarjumánah delivered her message word for word, and the Youth went forth from the Princess with fire aflame in his heart and spent the longest of nights hardly believing that the morn would morrow. But when day broke and the dawn came with its sheen and shone upon all mankind, he arose from his sleep and fared with the first light to the palace where the King’s daughter bade the Linguist-dame introduce him, and when he came in ordered him to be seated. As soon as he had taken seat she gave her commands to the Tarjumánah, who said, “My lady directeth thee to inform her what may be the tree bearing a dozen boughs, each clothed with thirty leaves and these of two colours, one half white and the other moiety black?” He answered saying, “Now that tree is the year, and its twelve branches are the dozen months, while the thirty leaves upon each of these are the thirty white days and the thirty black nights.” Hereat quoth she, “Tell me, what tree was it bore many a bough and manifold leaves which presently became flesh and blood?” He answered saying, “This was the Rod of Moses the Prophet (upon whom be The Peace!) which was at first a tree but which after cutting became a serpent with flesh and blood.” Continued she, “Inform me what became of Moses’ Rod and Noah’s Ark, and where now be they?” He answered saying, “They are at this tide sunken in the Lake of Tabariyyah,206 and both, at the end of time, will be brought out by a man hight Al-Násirí.207 She pursued, “Acquaint me with spun yarn, whence did it originate and who was it first practised spinning the same?” He answered, saying, “Almighty Allah from the beginning of mankind ordered the Archangel Gabriel to visit Eve and say to her, ‘Spin for thyself and for Adam waistcloths wherewith ye may veil your persons.’”208 She enquired, “Tell me concerning the Asáfír,209 and why they were so called, and who first named them with such name?” He answered saying, “There was in the days of the Moses the Prophet (upon whom be The Peace!) a fowl called Fír, and in the time of Solomon the King (upon whom be The Peace!) all the birds paid him obedience, even as did all the beasts, and albeit each and every created thing was subject to the Prophet, withal this Fír would not show submission: so the Wise King sent a body of birds to bring him into the presence, but he refused to present himself. Presently they returned to the Prophet who asked them, “Where be Fír?” and they answered, “O our lord, ‘Asá Fír,’210 whence that name hath clung to the fowls.” She resumed, “Inform me of the two Stationaries and the two Moveables and the two Conjoineds and the two Disjoineds by jealousy and the twain which be eternal Foes.” He answered saying, “Now the two Stationaries be Heaven and Earth and the two Moveables are the Sun and the Moon; the two Conjoineds are Night and Day and the two Disjoineds by jealousy are the Soul and the Body and the two Hostiles are Death and Life.”211 On this wise the Linguist-dame ceased not to question him and he to reply solving all her problems until eve closed in. Then she bade him go forth that night and on the next day come again to her. Accordingly, the young Prince returned to his Khan and no sooner had he made sure that the morn had morrowed than he resolved to see if that day would bring him aught better than had come to him before. So arising betimes he made for the palace of the King’s daughter and was received and introduced by the Tarjumánah who seated him as was her wont and presently she began, saying, “My lady biddeth thee inform her of a thing which an a man do that same ’tis unlawful; and if a man do not that same ’tis also unlawful.” He answered, saying, “I will: this be the prayer212 of a drunken man which is in either case illegal.” Quoth she, “Tell me how far is the interval between Heaven and Earth?” and he answered saying, “That bridged over by the prayer of Moses the Prophet213 (upon him be The Peace!) whom Allah Almighty saved and preserved.” She said, “And how far is it betwixt East and West?” whereto he answered saying, “The space of a day and the course of the Sun wending from Orient unto Occident.” Then she asked, “Let me know what was the habit214 of Adam in Paradise?” and he answered saying, “Adam’s habit in Eden was his flowing hair.”215 She continued, “Tell me of Abraham the Friend (upon whom be The Peace!) how was it that Allah chose him out and called him ‘Friend?’”216 He answered saying, “Verily the Lord determined to tempt and to test him albeit he kenned right clearly that the Prophet was free of will yet fully capable of enduring the trial; natheless, He resolved to do on this wise that he might stablish before men the truth of His servant’s trust in the Almighty and the fairness of his faith and the purity of his purpose. So the Lord bade him offer to Him his son Is’hák217 as a Corban or Sacrifice; and of the truth of his trust he took his child and would have slain him as a victim. But when he drew his knife with the purpose of slaughtering the youth he was thus addressed by the Most Highest Creator, ‘Now indeed well I wot that thou gatherest218 me and keepest my covenant: so take thou yonder rain and slay it as a victim in the stead of Is’hák.’ And after this he entitled him ‘Friend.’” She pursued, “Inform me touching the sons of Israel how many were they at the time of the going forth from Egypt?” He answered, saying, “When they marched out of Misraim-land they numbered six hundred thousand fighting219 men besides women and children.” She continued, “Do thou point out to me, some place on earth which is higher than the Heavens;” and he answered saying, “This is Jerusalem220 the Exalted and she standeth far above the Firmament.” Then the Youth turning to the Linguist-dame, said, “O my lady, long and longsome hath been the exposition of that which is between us, and were thy lady to ask me for all time questions such as these and the like of them, I by the All-might of Allah shall return a full and sufficient answer to one and all. But, in lieu of so doing, I desire of thy mistress the Princess to ask of her one question and only one: and, if she satisfy me of the significance I claim therefor, let her give me to drain the cup of my foregoers whom she overcame and slew; and if she fail in the attempt she shall own herself conquered and become my wife — and The Peace!”221 Now this was said in the presence of a mighty host there present, the great of them as well as the small thereof; so the Tarjumánah answered willy-nilly, “Say, O Youth, whatso is the will of thee and speak out that which is in the mind of thee.” He rejoined, “Tell thy lady that she deign enlighten me concerning a man who was in this condition. He was born and brought up in the highest of prosperity but Time turned upon him and Poverty mishandled him;222 so he mounted his father and clothed him with his mother223 and he fared forth to seek comfort and happiness at the hand of Allah Almighty. Anon Death met him on the way and Doom bore him upon his head and his courser saved him from destruction whenas he drank water which came neither from the sky nor from the ground. Now see thou who may be that man and do thou give me answer concerning him.”224 But when the Princess heard this question, she was confused with exceeding confusion touching the reply to be replied in presence of a posse of the people, and she was posed and puzzled and perplext to escape the difficulty and naught availed her save addressing the Tarjumánah and saying, “Do thou bid this Youth wend his ways and remove himself until the morrow.” The Linguist-dame did as she was bidden, adding, “And on the morrow (Inshallah!) there shall be naught save weal;” and the Prince went forth leaving the folk aghast at the question he had urged upon the King’s daughter. But as soon as he left her the young lady commanded the Tarjumánah to let slaughter somewhat of the most toothsome poultry and to prepare them for food as her mistress might direct her; together with dainty meats and delicate sweetmeats and the finest fruits fresh and dried and all manner of other eatables and drinkables, and lastly to take a skin-bottle filled with good old wine. Then she changed her usual garb and donned the most sumptuous dress of all her gear; and, taking her Duenna and favourite handmaiden with a few of her women for comitive, she repaired to the quarters of the Youth, the King’s son; and the time of her visit was the night-tide. Presently, reaching the Khan she said to her guardian, “Go thou in to him alone whilst I hide me somewhere behind the door and do thou sit between his hands;” after which she taught the old woman all she desired her do of dissimulation and artifice. The slave obeyed her mistress and going in accosted the young man with the salam; and, seating herself before him, said, “Ho thou the Youth! Verily there is here a lovely damsel, delightsome and perfect of qualities, whose peer is not in her age, and well nigh able is she to make the sun fare backwards225 and to illumine the universe in lieu thereof. Now when thou wast wont to visit us in the apartment of the Princess, this maiden looked upon thee and found thee a fair youth; so her heart loved thee with excessive love and desired thee with exceeding desire and to such degree that she insisted upon accompanying me and she hath now taken station at thy door longing to enter. So do thou grant her permission that she come in and appear in thy presence and then retire to some privacy where she may stand in thy service, a slave to thy will.”226 The Prince replied, “Whoso seeketh us let enter with weal and welfare, and well come and welcome and fair welcome to each and every of such guests.” Hereat the Princess went in as did all those who were with her, and presently after taking seat they brought out and set before the Youth their whole store of edibles and potables and the party fell to eating and drinking and converse, exchanging happy sayings blended with wit and disport and laughter, while the Princess made it her especial task to toy with her host deeming that he knew her not to be the King’s daughter. He also stinted not to take his pleasure with her; and on this wise they feasted and caroused and enjoyed themselves and were cheered and the converse between them was delightful. The Duenna, however, kept plying the Prince with wine, mere and pure, until she had made him drunken and his carousal had so mastered him that he required her person of her; however she refused herself and questioned him of the enigma wherewith he had overcome her mistress; whilst he, for stress of drunkenness, was incapacitated by stammering to explain her aught thereof. Hereupon the Princess, having doffed her upper dress, propped herself sideways upon a divan cushion and stretched herself at full length and the Youth for the warmth of his delight in her and his desire to her anon recovering his speech explained to her the reply of his riddle. The King’s daughter then joyed with mighty great joy as though she had won the world universal;227 and, springing to her feet incontinently, of her extreme gladness she would not delay to finish her disport with her wooer; but ere the morning morrowed she departed and entered her palace. Now in so doing she clean forgot her outer robes and the wine-service and what remained of meat and drink. The Youth had been overcome with sleep and after slumbering he awoke at dawn when he looked round and saw none of the company about him; withal he recognised the princely garments which were of the most sumptuous and costly, robes of brocade and sendal and suchlike, together with jewels and adornments: and scattered about lay sundry articles of the wine-service and fragments of the food they had brought with them. And from these signs of things forgotten he learnt that the King’s daughter had visited him in person and he was certified that she had beguiled him with her wiles until she had wrung from him the reply of his question. So as soon as it was morning-tide he arose and went, as was his wont, to the Princess’s palace where he was met by the Tarjumánah who said to him, “O Youth, is it thy pleasure that my lady expound to thee her explanation of the enigma yesterday proposed by thee?” “I will tell the very truth,” answered he; “and relate to thee what befel me since I saw you last, and ’twas this. When I left you there came to me a lovely bird, delightsome and perfect of charms, and I indeed entertained her with uttermost honour and worship; we ate and we drank together, but at night she shook her feathers and flew away from me. And if she deny this I will produce her plumage before her father and all present.” Now when the Sovran, the sire of the Princess, heard these words concerning his daughter, to wit, that the youth had conquered her in her contention and that she had fared to his quarters to the end that she might wring from him an explanation of the riddle which she was unable to ree or reply thereto, he would do naught else save to summon the Cohen228 and the Lords of his land and the Grandees of his realm and the Notables of his kith and kin. And when the Priest and all made act of presence, he told them the whole tale first and last; namely, the conditions to the Youth conditioned, that if overcome by his daughter and unable to answer her questions he should be let drain the cup of destruction like his fellows, and if he overcame her he should claim her to wife. Furthermore he declared that the Youth had answered, with full and sufficient answer, all he had been asked without doubt or hesitation; while at last he had proposed to her an enigma which she had been powerless to solve; and in this matter he had vanquished her twice (he having answered her and she having failed to answer him). “For which reason,” concluded the King, “’tis only right that he marry her; even as was the condition between them twain; and it becometh our first duty to adjudge their contention and decide their case according to covenant and he being doubtless the conqueror to bid write his writ of marriage with her. But what say ye?” They replied, “This is the rightest of redes; moreover the Youth, a fair and a pleasant, becometh her well and she likewise besitteth him; and their lot is a wondrous.” So they bade write the marriage writ and the Cohen, arising forthright, pronounced the union auspicious and began blessing and praying for the pair and all present. In due time the Prince went in to her and consummated the marriage according to the custom stablished by Allah and His Holy Law; and thereafter he related to his bride all that had betided him, from beginning to end, especially how he had sold his parents to one of the Kings. Now when she heard these words, she had ruth upon his case and soothed his spirit saying to him, “Be of good cheer and keep thine eyes clear and cool of tear.” Then, after a little while the Princess bestowed upon her bridegroom a mint of money that he might fare forth and free his father and his mother. Accordingly the Prince, accepting her largesse, sought the King to whom he had pledged his parents (and they were still with him in all weal and welfare) and going in to him made his salam and kissed ground and told him the whole tale of the past and the conditions of death or marriage he had made with the King’s daughter and of his wedding her after overcoming her in contention. So the monarch honoured him with honour galore than which naught could be more; and, when the Prince paid him over the moneys, he asked, “What be these dirhams?” “The price of my parents thou paidest to me,” answered the other. But the King exclaimed, “I gave thee not to the value of thy father and mother moneys of such amount as this sum. I only largessed thee with a mare and a suit of clothes which was not defraying a debt but presenting thee with a present and thereby honouring thee with due honour. Then Alhamdolillah-laud be to the Lord, who preserved thee and enabled thee to win thy wish, and now arise and take thy parents and return in safety to thy bride.” The Prince hereupon thanked him and praised Allah for the royal guerdon and favours and the fair treatment wherewith he had been entreated; after which he craved leave to receive his parents in charge and wend his ways. And when permission was granted to him, he wished all good wishes to the King and taking his father and his mother in weal and welfare he went his ways with them, in joy and gladness and gratitude for all blessings and benefits by Allah upon him bestowed, till he had returned to his bride. Here he found that his father-in-law had deceased during his absence, so he took seat in lieu of him upon the throne of the kingdom; and he and his consort, during all the days of their life in this world, ceased not eating and drinking in health and well-being and eating and drinking in joy and happiness and bidding and forbidding until they quitted this mundane scene to the safeguard of the Lord God. And here endeth and is perfected the history of the Youth, the King’s son, and the sale of his parents and his falling into the springes of the Princess who insisted upon proposing problems to all her wooers with the condition that if they did not reply she would do them drain the cup of destruction and on this wise had slain a many of men; and, in fine, how she was worsted by and she fell to the lot of this youth whom Allah gifted with understanding to ree all her riddles and who had confounded her with his question whereto she availed not to reply; when his father-in-law died, succeeded to the kingdom which he ruled so well.229
184 MSS. pp. 476-504. This tale is laid down on the same lines as “Abú al-Husn and his Slave-girl Tawaddud,” vol. vi. 189. It is carefully avoided by Scott, C. de Perceval, Gauttier, etc.
185 Lit. an interpreter woman; the word is the fem. of Tarjumán, a dragoman whom Mr. Curtis calls a Drag o’ men; see vol. i. 100. It has changed wonderfully on its way from its “Semitic” home to Europe which has naturalised it as Drogman, Truchman and Dolmetsch.
186 For this word of many senses, see vols. i. 231; ix. 221. M. Caussin de Perceval (viii. 16), quoting d’Herbelot (s.v.), notes that the Abbasides thus entitled the chief guardian of the Harem.
187 See vols. iv. 100; viii. 268. In his Introduction (p. 22) to the Assemblies of Al-Hariri Chenery says, “This prosperity had now passed away, for God had brought the people of Rum (so the Arabs call the Byzantines, whom Abú Zayd here confounds with the Franks) on the land,” etc. The confusion is not Abu Zayd’s: “Rumí” in Marocco and other archaic parts of the Moslem world is still synonymous with our “European.”
188 This obedience to children is common in Eastern folk-lore: see Suppl. vol. i. 143, in which the royal father orders his son to sell him. The underlying idea is that the parents find their offspring too clever for them; not, as in the “New World,” that Youth is entitled to take precedence and command of Age.
189 In text “Fa min tumma” for “thumma”— then, alors.
190 Such as the headstall and hobbles the cords and chains for binding captives, and the mace and sword hanging to the saddle-bow.
191 i.e. not a well-known or distinguished horseman, but a chance rider.
192 These “letters of Mutalammis,” as Arabs term our Litterû Bellerophonteû, or “Uriah’s letters,” are a lieu commun in the East and the Prince was in luck when he opened and read the epistle here given by mistake to the wrong man. Mutalammis, a poet of The Ignorance, had this sobriquet (the “frequent asker,” or, as we should say, the Solicitor-General), his name being Jarír bin ‘Abd al-Masíh. He was uncle to Tarafah of the Mu’-allakah or prize poem, a type of the witty dissolute bard of the jovial period before Al-Islam arose to cloud and dull man’s life. One day as he was playing with other children Mutalammis was reciting a panegyric upon his favourite camel, which ran:—
I mount a he-camel, dark-red and firm-fleshed; or a she-camel of Himyar, fleet of foot and driving the pebbles with her crushing hooves.
“See the he-camel turned to a she,” cried the boy, and the phrase became proverbial to express inelegant transition (Arab. Prov. ii. 246). The uncle bade his nephew put out his tongue and seeing it dark-coloured said, “That black tongue will be thy ruin!” Tarafah, who was presently entitled Ibn al-‘Ishrin (the son of twenty years), grew up a model reprobate who cared nothing save for three things, “to drink the dark-red wine foaming as the water mixeth with it, to urge into the fight a broad-backed steed, and to while away the dull day with a young beauty.” His apology for wilful waste is highly poetic:—
I see that the grave of the careful, the hoarder, differeth not from the grave of the debauched, the spendthrift:
A hillock of earth covers this and that, with a few flat stones laid together thereon.
See the whole piece in Chenery’s Al-Hariri (p. 360), from which this note is borrowed. At last uncle and nephew fled from ruin to the Court of ‘Amrú bin Munzír III., King of Hira, who in the tale of Al-Mutalammis and his wife Umaymah (The Nights, vol. v. 74) is called Al-Nu’umán bin Munzir but is better known as ‘Amrú bin Hind (his mother). The King, who was a derocious personage nicknamed Al-Muharrik or the Burner, because he had thrown into the fire ninety-nine men and one woman of the Tamím tribe in accordance with a vow of vengeance he had taken to slaughter a full century, made the two strangers boon-companions to his boorish brother Kábús. Tarafah, offended because kept at the tent-door whilst the master drank wine within, bitterly lampooned him together with ‘Abd Amrú a friend of the King; and when this was reported his death was determined upon. Amrú, the King, seeing the anxiety of the two poets to quit his Court, offered them letters of introduction to Abú Kárib, Governor of Al-Hajar (Bahrayn) under the Persian King and they were accepted. The uncle caused his letter to be read by a youth, and finding that it was an order for his execution destroyed it and fled to Syria; but the nephew was buried alive. Amrú, the King, was afterwards slain by the poet-warrior, Amrú bin Kulthum, also of the “Mu’allakát,” for an insult offered to his mother by Hind: hence the proverb, “Quicker to slay than ‘Amrú bin Kulsum” (A.P. ii. 233).
193 See vols. i. 192; iii. 14; these correspond with the “Stathmoi,” Stationes, Mansiones or Castra of Herodotus, Terps. cap. 53, and Xenophon. An. i. 2, 10.
194 In text “Ittiká” viiith of waká: the form “Takwà” is generally used = fearing God, whereby one guards oneself from sin in this life and from retribution in the world to come.
195 This series of puzzling questions and clever replies is still as favourite a mental exercise in the East as it was in middle-aged Europe. The riddle or conundrum began, as far as we know, with the Sphinx, through whose mouth the Greeks spoke: nothing less likely than that the grave and mysterious Scribes of Egypt should ascribe aught so puerile to the awful emblem of royal majesty — Abu Haul, the Father of Affright. Josephus relates how Solomon propounded enigmas to Hiram of Tyre which none but Abdimus, son of the captive Abdûmon, could answer. The Tale of Tawaddud offers fair specimens of such exercises, which were not disdained by the most learned of Arabian writers. See Al-Hariri’s Ass. xxiv, which proposes twelve enigmas involving abstruse and technical points of Arabic, such as: “What be the word, which as ye will is a particle beloved, or the name of that which compriseth the slender-waisted milch camel!” Na’am = “Yes” or “cattle,” the latter word containing the Harf, or slender camel. Chenery, p. 246.
196 For the sundry meanings and significance of “Salám,” here=Heaven’s blessing, see vols. ii. 24, vi. 232.
197 This is the nursery version of the Exodus, old as Josephus and St. Jerome, and completely changed by the light of modern learning. The Children of Israel quitted their homes about Memphis (as if a large horde of half-nomadic shepherds would be suffered in the richest and most crowded home of Egypt). They marched by the Wady Músà that debouches upon the Gulf of Suez a short way below the port now temporarily ruined by its own folly and the ill-will of M. de Lesseps; and they made the “Sea of Sedge” (Suez Gulf) through the valley bounded by what is still called Jabal ‘Atákah, the Mountain of Deliverance, and its parallel range, Abu Durayj (of small steps). Here the waters were opened and the host passed over to the “Wells of Moses,” erstwhile a popular picnic place on the Arabian side; but according to one local legend (for which see my Pilgrimage, i. 294-97) they crossed the sea north of Túr, the spot being still called “Birkat Far’aun”=Pharoah’s Pool. Such also is the modern legend amongst the Arabs, who learned their lesson from the Christians (not the Jews) in the days when the Copts and the Greeks (ivth century) invented “Mount Sinai.” And the reader will do well to remember that the native annalists of Ancient Egypt, which conscientiously relate all her defeats and subjugations by the Ethiopians, Persians, etc., utterly ignore the very name of Hebrew, Sons of Israel, etc.
I cannot conceal my astonishment at finding a specialist journal like the “Quarterly Statement of the Palestine Exploration Fund” (Oct., 1887) admitting such a paper as that entitled “The Exode,” by R. F. Hutchinson, M.D. For this writer the labours of the last half-century are non-existing. Job is still the “oldest book” in the world. The Rev. Charles Forster’s absurdity, “Israel in the wilderness,” gives valuable assistance. Goshen is Mr. Chester’s Tell Fakús (not, however, far wrong in this) instead of the long depression by the Copts still called “Gesem” or “Gesemeh,” the frontier-land through which the middle course of the Suez Canal runs. “Succoth,” tabernacles, is confounded with the Arab. “Sakf” = a roof. Letopolis, the “key of the Exode,” and identified with the site where Babylon (Old Cairo) was afterwards built, is placed on the right instead of the left bank of the Nile. “Bahr Kulzum” is the “Sea of the Swallowing-up,” in lieu of The Closing. El-Tíh, “the wandering,” is identified with Wady Musa to the west of the Suez Gulf. And so forth. What could the able Editor have been doing?
Students of this still disputed question will consult “The Shrine of Saft el-Henneh and the Land of Goschen,” by Edouard Naville, fifth Memoir of the Egypt Exploration Fund. Published by order of the Committee. London, Trübner, 1837.
198 Eastern fable runs wild upon this subject, and indeed a larger volume could be written upon the birth, life and death of Moses’ and Aaron’s rods. There is a host of legends concerning the place where the former was cut and whence it descended to the Prophet whose shepherd’s staff was the glorification of his pastoral life (the rod being its symbol) and of his future career as a ruler (and flogger) of men. In Exodus (viii. 3-10), when a miracle was required of the brothers, Aaron’s rod became a “serpent” (A.V.) or, as some prefer, a “crocodile,” an animal worshipped by certain of the Egyptians; and when the King’s magicians followed suit it swallowed up all others. Its next exploit was to turn the Nile and other waters of Egypt into blood (Exod. vii. 17). The third wonder was worked by Moses’ staff, the dividing of the Red Sea (read the Sea of Sedge or papyrus, which could never have grown in the brine of the Suez Gulf) according to the command, “Lift thou up thy rod and stretch out thine hand over the sea,” etc. (Exod. xiv. 15). The fourth adventure was when the rod, wherewith Moses smote the river, struck two blows on the rock in Horeb and caused water to come out of it (Numb. xxi. 8). Lastly the rod (this time again Aaron’s ) “budded and brought forth buds and bloomed blossoms and yielded almonds” (Numb. xvii. 7); thus becoming a testimony against the rebels: hence it was set in the Holiest of the Tabernacles (Heb. ix. 14) as a lasting memorial. I have described (Pilgrim. i. 301) the mark of Moses’ rod at the little Hammam behind the old Phoenician colony of Tur, in the miscalled “Sinaitic” Peninsula: it is large enough to act mainmast for a ship. The end of the rod or rods is unknown: it died when its work was done, and like many other things, holy and unholy, which would be priceless, e.g., the true Cross or Pilate’s sword, it remains only as a memory around which a host of grotesque superstitions have grouped themselves.
199 In this word “Hayy” the Arab. and Heb. have the advantage of our English: it means either serpent or living, alive.
200 It is nowhere said in Hebrew Holy Writ that “Pharaoh,” whoever he may have been, was drowned in the “Red Sea.”
201 Arab. “Kaml.” The Koranic legend of the Ant has, I repeat, been charmingly commented upon by Edwin Arnold in “Solomon and the Ant” (p.i., Pearls of the Faith). It seems to be a Talmudic exaggeration of the implied praise in Prov. vi. 6 and xxx. 25, “The ants are a people nto strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer” which, by the by, proves that the Wise King could be caught tripping in his natural history, and that they did not know everything down in Judee.
202 Isá, according to the Moslems, was so far like Adam (Koran iii. 52) that he was not begotten in the normal way: in fact his was a miraculous conception. See vol. v. 238.
203 For Elias, Elijah, or Khizr, a marvellous legendary figure, see vols. iv. 175; v. 334. The worship of Helios (Apollo) is not extinct in mod. Greece where it survives under the name of Elias. So Dionysus has become St. Dionysius; Bacchus the Drunken, St. George; and Artemis, St. Artemides the healer of childhood.
204 Gesenius interprets it “Soldier of God”; the bye-name given to Jacob presently became the national name of the Twelve Tribes collectively; then it narrowed to the tribe of Judah; afterwards it became = laymen as opposed to Levites, etc., and in these days it is a polite synonym for Jew. When you want anything from any of the (self-) Chosen People you speak of him as an Israelite; when he wants anything of you, you call him a Jew, or a damned Jew, as the case may be.
205 I am not aware that there is any general history of the bell, beginning with the rattle, the gong and other primitive forms of the article; but the subject seems worthy of a monograph. In Hebrew Writ the bell first appears in Exod. xxviii. 33 as a fringe to the Ephod of the High Priest that its tinkling might save him from intruding unwarned into the bodily presence of the tribal God, Jehovah.
206 Gennesaret (Chinnereth, Cinneroth), where, according to some Moslems, the Solomon was buried.
207 I cannot explain this legend.
208 So the old English rhyme, produced for quite another purpose by Sir John Bull in “Wat Tyler’s Rebellion” (Hume, Hist. of Eng., vol. i. chapt. 17):—
“When Adam dolve and Eve span,
Who was then the gentleman?”
A variant occurs in a MS. of the xvth century, Brit. Museum:—
“Now bethink the gentleman,
How Adam dalf and Eve span.”
And the German form is:—
“So Adam reutte (reute) and Eva span
Wwer was da ein Eddelman (Edelman)?”
209 Plur. of “‘Usfúr” = a bird, a sparrow. The etymology is characteristically Oriental and Mediaeval, reminding us of Dan Chaucer’s meaning of Cecilia “Heaven’s lily” (Súsan) or “Way for the blind” (Cûcus) or “Thoughts of Holiness” and lia=lasting industry; or, “Heaven and Leos” (people), so that she might be named the people’s heaven (The SEcond Nonne’s Tale).
210 i.e. “Fír is rebellious.”
211 Both of which, I may note, are not things but states, modes or conditions of things. See. vol. ix. 78.
212 “Salát” = the formal ceremonious prayer. I have noticed (vol. iv. 60) the sundry technical meanings of the term Salát, from Allah=Mercy; from Angel-kind=intercession and pardon, and from mankind=a blessing.
213 Possibly “A prayer of Moses, the man of God,” the title of the highly apocryphal Psalm xc.
214 Arab. “Libás” = clothes in general.
215 In text “Zafar” = victory. It may also be “Zifr”=alluding to the horny matter which, according to Moslem tradition, covered the bodies of “our first parents” and of which after the “original sin” nothing remained but the nails of their fingers and toes. It was only when this disappeared that they became conscious of their nudity. So says M. Houdas; but I prefer to consider the word as Zafar=plaited hair.
216 According to Al-Mas’udi (i. 86, quoting Koran xxi. 52), Abraham had already received of Allah spiritual direction or divine grace (“Rushdu ‘llah” or “Al-Hudà") which made him sinless. In this opinoin of the Imamship, says my friend Prof. A. Sprenger, the historian is more fatalistic than most Sunnis.
217 Modern Moslems are all agreed in making Ishmael and not Issac the hero of this history: see my Pilgrimage (vol. iii. 306). But it was not always so. Al-Mas’udi (vol. ii. 146) quotes the lines of a Persian poet in A.H. 290 (=A.D. 902) which expressly say “Is’háku kána’l-Zabíh” = Isaac was the victim, and the historian refers to this in sundry places. Yet the general idea is that Ishmael succeeded his father (as eldest son) and was succeeded by Isaac; and hence the bitter family feud between the Eastern Jews and the ARab Gentiles.
218 In text “Tajui”=lit. thou pluckest (the fruit of good deeds). M. Houdas translates Tu recueilles, mot à mot tu citeilles.
220 Amongst the Jews the Temple of Jerusalem was a facsimile of the original built by Jehovah in the lowest heaven or that of the Moon. For the same idea (doubtless a derivation from the Talmud) amongst the Moslems concerning the heavenly Ka’abah called Bayt al-Ma’mur (the Populated House) see my Pilgrimage iii. 186, et seq.
221 i.e. there is an end of the matter.
222 In text “Massa-hu’l Fakr”=poverty touched him.
223 He had sold his father for a horse, etc., and his mother for a fine dress.
224 This enigma is in the style of Samson’s (Judges xiv. 12) of which we complain that the unfortuante Philistines did not possess the sole clue which could lead to the solution; and here anyone with a modicum of common sense would have answered, “Thou art the man!” The riddles with which the Queen of Sheba visited Solomon must have been simply hard questions somewhat like those in the text; and the relator wisely refuses to record them.
225 We should say “To eclipse the sun.”
226 A very intelligible offer.
227 Arab. “Bi Asri-hi,” lit. “rope and all;” metaphorically used=altogether, entirely: the idea is borrowed from the giving or selling of a beast with its thong, halter, chain, etc.
228 In the text, “Káhin,” a Cohen, a Jewish Priest, a soothsayer: see Al-Kahánah, vol. i. 28. In Heb. Kahana=he ministered (priests’ offices or other business) and Cohen=a priest either of the true God or of false gods.
229 This ending with its résumé of contents is somewhat hors ligne, yet despite its vain repetition I think it advisable to translate it.
The Músà (Moses) of the Moslems is borrowed from Jewish sources, the Pentateuch and especially the Talmud, with a trifle of Gnosticism which, hinted at in the Koran (chapt. xviii.), is developed by later writers, making him the “external” man, while Khizr, the Green prophet, is the internal. But they utterly ignore Manetho whose account of the Jewish legislator (Josephus against Apion, i. cc. 26, 27) shows the other or Egyptian part. Moses, by name Osarsiph=Osiris-Sapi, Osiris of the underworld, which some translate rich (Osii) in food (Siph, Seph, or Zef) was nicknamed Mosheh from the Heb. Mashah=to draw out, because drawn from the water230 (or rather from the Koptic Mo=water ushe=saved). He became a priest an An or On (Heliopolis), after studying the learning of the Egyptians. Presently he was chosen chief by the “lepers and other unclean persons” who had been permitted by King Amenophis to occupy the city Avaris lately left desolate by the “Shepherd Kings.” Osarsiph ordained the polity and laws of his followers, forbidding them to worship the Egyptian gods and enjoining them to slay and sacrifice the sacred animals. They were joined by the “unclean of the Egyptians” and by their kinsmen of the Shepherds, and treated the inhabitants with a barbarity more execrable than that of the latter, setting fire to cities and villages, casting the Egyptian priests and prophets out of their country, and compelling Amenophis to fall back upon Ethiopia. After some years of disorder Sethos (also called Ramesses from his father Rampses) son of Amenophis came down with the King from Ethiopia leading great united forces, and, “encountering the Shepherds and the unclean people, they defeated them and slew multitudes of them, and pursued the remainder to the borders of Syria.” Josephus relates this account of Manetho, which is apparently truthful, with great indignation. For the prevalence of leprosy we have the authority of the Hebrews themselves, and Pliny (xxvi. 2), speaking of Rubor Egyptus, evidently white leprosy ending in the black, assures us that it was “natural to the Egyptians,” adding a very improbable detail, namely that the kings cured it by balneF (baths) of human blood.231
Schiller (in “Die Sendung Moses”) argues that the mission of the Jewish lawgiver, as adopted son (the real son?) of Pharoah’s daughter, became “learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians,” by receiving the priestly education of the royal princes, and that he had advanced from grade to grade in the religious mysteries, even to the highest, in which the great truth of the One Supreme, the omniscient, omnipotent God was imparted, as the sublime acme of all human knowledge, thus attributing to Moses before his flight into Midian, an almost modern conception of an essentially anthropomorphous Deity.
Further, that his conscious mission when he returned to Egypt was not merely the deliverance of his people from the Egyptian yoke, but the revelation to them of this great conception, and so the elevation of that host of slaves to the position of a nation, to whose every member the highest mystery of religion should be known and whose institutions should be based upon it. It is remarkable that Schiller should have accepted the fables of Manetho as history, that he should not have suspected the fact that the Egyptian priest wrote from motives of personal spite and jealousy, and with the object of poisoning the mind of Ptolemy against the learned Jews with whom he stood on terms of personal friendship. Thus he not only accepts the story that the Hebrews were expelled from Egypt because of the almost universal spread of leprosy among them, but explains at length why that loathsome and horrible disease should have so prevailed. Still Schiller’s essay, written with his own charming eloquence, is a magnificent eulogy of the founder of the Hebrew nation.
Goethe (“Israel in der Wüste”), on the other hand, with curious ingenuity, turns every thing to the prejudice of the “headstrong man” Moses, save that he does grant him a vivid sentiment of justice. He makes him both by nature and education a grand, strong man, but brutal (roh) withal. His killing the Egyptian is a secret murder; “his dauntless fist gains him the favour of a Midianitish priest-prince. . . . under the pretence of a general festival, gold and silver dishes are swindled (by the Jews under Moses’s instigation) from their neighbours, and at the moment when the Egyptians believe the Israelites to be occupied in harmless feastings, a reversed Sicilian vesper is executed; the stranger murders the native, the guest the host; and, with a horrible cunning, only the first-born are destroyed to the end that, in a land where the first-born enjoyed such superior rights, the selfishness of the younger sons might come into play, and instant punishment be avoided by hasty flight. The artifice succeeds, the assassins are thrust out instead of being chastised.” (Quoted from pp. 99-100 “The Hebrews and the Red Sea,” by Alexander W. Thayer; Andover, Warren F. Draper, 1883.) With respect to the census of the Exodus, my friend Mr. Thayer, who has long and conscientiously studied the subject, kindly supplied me with the following notes and permitted their publication.
230 “And she called his name Moses, and she said because from the water I drew him” (Exod. ii. 10).
231 The Pharoah of the Exodus is popularly supposed by Moslems to have treated his leprosy with baths of babes’ blood, the babes being of the Banú Isráíl. The word “Pharoah” is not without its etymological difficulties.
Trieste, October 11, 1887.
My Dear Sir Richard,
The points in the views presented by me in our conversation upon the Hebrews and their Exodus, of which you requested a written exposition, are, condensed, these:
Assuming that the Hebrew records, as we have them, are in the main true, i.e. historic, a careful search must reveal some one topic concerning which all the passages relating to it agree at least substantially. Such a topic is the genealogies, precisely that which Philippsohn the great Jewish Rabbi, Dr. Robinson, of the Palestine researches, and all the Jewish and Christian commentators — I know no exception — with one accord, reject! Look at these two columns, A. being the passages containing the genealogies, B. the passages on which the rejection of them is based:
1. Genesis xxiv. 32 to xxv. 25 (Births of Jacob’s sons).
1. Gen. xv. 13.
4. The story of Joseph, beginning Gen. xxxvii. 2, gives us the dates in his life; viz., 17 when sold, 30 when he becomes Prime Minister, 40 when his father joins him.
5. 1 Chron. vi. 1-15 (Lineage of Ezra’s brother Jehozadak, abounding in repetitions and worthless).
1. As between the two, the column A. is in my opinion more trustworthy than B.
2. By all the genealogies of the Davidian line we have Judah No. 1, Solomon No. 12. By Ezra’s genealogy of his own family we have Levi No. 1, and Azariah (Solomon’s High Priest) No. 12. They agree perfectly.
3. If there were 400 years of Hebrew (Bene Jacob) slavery between the death of Joseph and the Exodus, there were 400 - 80 = 320, between Joseph’s death and the birth of Moses. If this was so there is no truth in the accounts of Moses and Aaron being the great-grandchildren of Levi (Levi, Kohath, Amram, Aaron and Moses). In fact, if Dr. Robinson be correct in saying that at least six generations are wanting in the genealogies of David (to fill the 400 years) the same must be lacking in all the early genealogies. Reductio ad absurdum!
4. Jacob, a young man, we will say of 40, is sent to Laban for a wife. He remains in Padan Aram twenty years (Gen. xxxi. 38), where all his sons except Benjamin were born, that is, before he was 60. At 130 he joined Joseph in Egypt (Gen. xlvii. 9). Joseph, therefore, born in Padan Aram was now, instead of 40, over 70 years old! That this is so, is certain. In Judah’s exquisite pleadings (Gen. xliv. 18-34) he speaks of Benjamin as “the child of Jacob’s old age,” “a little one,” and seven times he calls him “the lad.” Benjamin is some years younger than Joseph, but when the migration into Egypt takes place-a few weeks after Judah’s speech-Benjamin comes as father of ten sons (Gen. xlvi. 21), but here Bene Benjamin is used in its broad sense of “descendants,” for in 1 Chron. vii. 6-12 we find that the “Bene” were sons, grandsons and great-grandsons. To hold that Joseph at 40 had a younger brother who was a great-grandfather, is, of course, utterly absurd.
5. According to Gen. xv. 18, the Exodus was to take place in the fourth generation born in Egypt, as I understand it.
Born in Egypt:—
|Levi (father of) Kohath||Judah (father of) Pharez, Hezron|
|1. Amram||1. Ram
|2. Aaron||2. Amminadab|
|3. Eleazar||3. Nahshon|
|4. Phinees||4. Salma|
A conspicuous character in Numbers (xiii. 6, 30; xiv. 24, etc.) is Caleb. In the first chapter of Judges Caleb still appears, and Othniel, the son of his younger brother Kenaz, is the first of the so-called Judges (Jud. iii. 9). This also disposes of the 400 years and confirms the view that the Exodus took place in the fourth generation born in Egypt. Other similar proofs may be omitted — these are amply sufficient.
6. What, then, was the origin of the notion of the 400 years of Hebrew slavery?
If the Egyptian inscriptions and papyri prove anything, it is this: that from the subjugation of Palestine by one of the Thormes down to the great invasion of the hordes from Asia Minor in the reign of Ramses III., that country had never ceased to be a Pharaonic province; that during these four or five centuries every attempt to throw off the yoke had been crushed and its Semitic peoples deported to Egypt as slaves; that multitudes of them joined in the Exodus under Moses, and became incorporated with the Hebrews under the constitution and code adopted at Horeb (=Sinai? or Jebel Araif?). These people became “Seed of Abraham,” “Children of Israel,” by adoption, to which I have no doubt Paul refers in the “adoption” of Romans viii. 15-23; ix. 4; Gal. iv. 5; Eph. i. 5. In the lapse of ages this distinction between Bene Israel and Bene Jacob was forgotten, and therefore the very uncritical Masorites in their edition of the Old Testament “confounded the confusion” in this matter. With the disappearance of the 400 years and of the supposed two or three centuries covered by the book of Judges, the genealogies stand as facts. The mistake in the case of the Judges is in supposing them to have been consecutive, when, in fact, as the subjugations by neighbouring peoples were local and extended only over one or two tribes, half a dozen of them may have been contemporaneous.
7. Aaron and Moses were by their father Amram, great-grandchildren of Levi — by their mother his grandchildren (Ex. vi. 20). Joseph lived to see his own great-grandchildren. Moses must have been born before Joseph’s death.
8. There is one point determined in which the Hebrew and the Egyptian chronologies coincide. It is the invasion of Judea by Shishak of Egypt in the fifth year of Rehoboam, son of Solomon (1 Kings xiv. 25). Supposing the Egyptian chronology from the time of Minephtah II. to be in the main correct, as given by Brugsch and others, the thirteen generations, Judah — Rehoboam, allowing three to a century, take us back to just that Minephtah. In his reign, according to Brugsch, Pharaoh sent breadstuffs to the Chittim in “the time of famine.” The Hebrew records and traditions connect Joseph’s prime ministry with a famine. By the genealogies it could have been only this in the time of Minephtah.
9. The Bene Jacob were but temporary sojourners in Goshen and always intended to return to Canaan. They were independent and had the right to do so. See what Joseph says in Gen. i. 24-25. But before this design was executed came the great irruption of the depopulated all Palestine, in the time of Ramses III. Here was the opportunity for the Bene Jacob to enlarge their plans and to devise the conquest and possession of Palestine. According to Josephus, supported by Stephen (Acts vii. 22), Moses was a man “mighty in works”-a man of military fame. The only reasonable way of understanding the beginning of the Exodus story, is to suppose that, in the weakened condition of Ramses III., the Hebrew princes began to intrigue with the enslaved Semites-the Ruthenu of the Egyptian inscriptions — and this being discovered by the Pharaoh, Moses was compelled to fly. Meantime the intrigues were continued and when the time for action came, under one of Ramses’ weak successors, Moses was recalled and took command.
10. This prepares us for the second query, which you proposed, that is as to the numbers who joined in the Exodus.
The Masoretic text, from which the English version of the Hebrew records is made, gives the result of the census at Sinai (=Horeb) as being 603,550 men, “twenty years old and upwards, that were able to go forth to war in Israel”-the tribe of Levi not included. On this basis it has been generally stated, that the number of the Bene Israel at the Exodus was three millions. Of late I find that two millions is the accepted number. The absurdity of even this aggregate is manifest. How could such a vast multitude be subsisted? How kept in order? How compelled to observe sanitary regulations? Moreover, in the then enfeebled state of Egypt, why should 603,550 armed men not have marched out without ceremony? Why ask permission to go to celebrate a sacrifice to their God?
But there is another series of objections to these two millions, which I have never seen stated or even hinted, to which I pray your attention.
The area of Palestine differs little from that of the three American States, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, the most densely peopled of the Union, containing by the last census a population of somewhat less than two and a half millions.
By the second Hebrew census (Numb. xxvi.) taken just before the death of Moses, the army was 601,730; from which the inference has always been drawn, that at least 2,000,000, in the aggregate, Levites 23,000 males still excepted, entered and possessed the conquered territories.
Take now one of the late maps of Palestine and mark upon it the boundaries of the tribes as given in the book of Joshua. This second census gives the number of each tribal army to be inserted in each tribal territory. Reuben, 43,750; Judah, 76,500; Benjamin, 45,600, etc., etc. By Josh. xii. the land was then divided between some 40 petty kings and peoples, 31 of whom are named as having been subjected. If, now, Joshua’s army numbered over 600,000, why was not the conquest made complete? Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut are divided into 27 counties. Suppose, now, that these counties were each a separate and independent little kingdom dependent upon itself for defence, what resistance could be made to an army of 600,000 men, all of them grown up during forty years of life in a camp, and in the full vigour of manhood? And yet Joshua was unable to complete his conquest! Again, the first subjugation of a part of the newly-conquered territory as noted in the book of Judges, was Judah and Simeon by a king of Edom.232 If Judah could put an army into the field of 76,500, and Simeon 22,500, their subjugation by a king of Edom is incredible, and the story absurd. Next comes King Eglon of Moab and subjugates the tribes of Reuben and Gad, east of the Dead Sea and the Jordan. And yet Reuben has an army of over 43,000, and Gad 45,000. And so on.
With an army of 60,000 only, and an aggregate of half a million of people led out of Egypt, all the history becomes instantly rational and trustworthy.
There remains one more bubble to be exploded.
Look at these figures, in which a quadruple increase — at least 25 per centum too great — is granted.233
|1st Generation,||the Patriarchs, in number||12|
|2nd Generation,||Kohath, Pharez, etc.||48|
|3rd Generation,||Amram, Hezron, etc.||192|
|4th Generation,||Aaron and Moses||768|
|Minus 25 per cent. for deaths, children, etc.||255|
|Actual number of Bene Jacob||765|
But Jacob and his sons brought with them herdsmen, shepherds, servants, etc. Bunsen puts the number of all, masters and men, at less than 2,000.
Let the proportion in this case be one able-bodied man in four persons, and the increase triple.
|1st Generation,||the Patriarchs, in number||500|
|2nd Generation,||Kohath, Pharez, etc.||1,500|
|3rd Generation,||Amram, Hezron, etc.||4,500|
|4th Generation,||Aaron and Moses||13,500|
|Minus 25 per centum as above||5,000|
|Add the real Bene Jacob||765|
Were these people, while Joseph is still alive, the subjects of slavery as described in Ex. i.? Did they build Pithom and Ramses, store-cities?
The number is sufficient to lead in the great enterprise and to control the mixed multitude which was at Sinai, adopted as “Bene Israel,” “Seed of Abraham,” and divided among and incorporated with the tribes; but not sufficient to warrant the supposition that with so small a force the Hebrew leaders could for a moment have entertained the project of conquering Palestine.
A word more on the statement in Ex. i. 11: “And they built for Pharaoh store-cities, Pithom and Ramses.” All Egyptologists agree that these cities were built by Ramses II., or certainly not later than his reign. If the Hebrew genealogies are authentic, this was long before the coming of Jacob and his sons into Egypt.
(Signed) A.W. Thayer
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:52