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WHEN the time had come in which Allah again designed to send a prophet on the earth, Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, had three dreams in one night. In his first dream he heard a voice which called, "Pharaoh, repent! The end of thy dominion is at hand, for a youth of a foreign tribe shall humble thee and thy people before the whole world." The king awoke, disturbed by his dream, but after a short time he fell asleep again, and there appeared to him a lion, which threatened to tear a man in pieces. The man was only armed with a rod, but stood still calmly until the lion rushed on him, when he struck it a single blow with his rod, and flung it dead into the Nile. The king awoke, more disturbed than before, and was only able to sleep again toward morning; but scarcely had he closed his eyes, when he saw Asia, his virtuous wife, riding through the air on a winged horse. The horse flew toward heaven; but she cried to him a last farewell, whereupon the earth split open under his feet, and swallowed him up. Pharaoh sprung up from his couch as soon as he awoke, and summoned Haman, his vizier, commanding him to call together immediately all the magicians, p. 115 the soothsayers, and astrologers of his capital. When they, many thousands in number, were assembled in the largest hall of the royal palace, Pharaoh ascended the throne, and told his dreams with a tremulous voice; but, although their interpretation was clear to every one in the whole assembly, no one ventured to avow the truth unto the king. Yet the latter divining from their ghastly looks what was passing within them, commanded the chief of the astrologers not to conceal any thing, and assured him beforehand of his grace, though he should predict the worst.
"Most mighty king!" said the chief of the astrologers, a man of nine-and-ninety years of age, whose silvery beard reached down to his breast, "it never was so difficult to thy servant to obey thy commands as at the present moment, when I am forced to predict to thee the greatest calamity. One of thy slaves of the daughters of Israel will bear a son, or has perhaps already borne him, who shall hurl thee and thy people into the lowest abyss." At these words Pharaoh began to weep aloud: he tore his crown from his head, rent his robes, and struck his breast and face with clinched fists. All who were present wept with him; yet no one presumed to speak a word of consolation. At last Haman, the vizier, stepped forward and said, "Great king, my fidelity and attachment are known to p. 116 thee. Pardon, therefore, thy slave, if he has the boldness to blame thy dejection, and to suggest a plan which will frustrate the fulfillment of thy visions. As yet the power is in thy hand, and, if thou wilt but use it unsparingly, so shalt thou put to shame all the interpreters of thy dream. Let all the children that are born this year, and all women that are with child, be immediately put to death, and thou mayest defy the apprehended peril."* Pharaoh followed this cruel counsel. Seven thousand children of one year and under were strangled forthwith, and as many women with child thrown into the Nile.†
One night, when Amram, an Israelite, who p. 117 was one of Pharoah's viziers, was as usual in attendance on the king, the angel Gabriel appeared to him bearing on one of his wings Johabed, Amram's wife, the daughter of Jaser. He laid her down near Pharaoh, who was sunk in a deep sleep, and snored like a slaughtered bull; and Gabriel said to Amram, "The hour is come when the messenger of Allah shall appear!" He vanished after having spoken these words, and left Johabed with Amram until the rising of the morning star. Then he carried her back on his wings to her dwelling before Pharaoh awoke.
That night the king had the same dreams again which had so much disturbed him before.
As soon as he awoke he summoned Amram, and again commanded him to convene the interpreters of dreams. But he had scarcely uttered the word, when the chief of the astrologers begged for admittance. Pharaoh wecomed him, and inquired what had led him so early to the palace.
"Regard for thy throne and for thy life," answered the astrologer. "I read last night in the stars that the lad who shall one day deprive thee of life and empire has been conceived. I could therefore scarcely await the morning star to inform thee of this sad occurrence. Possibly thou mayest succeed in discovering the man who, notwithstanding thy prohitition and thy p. 118 sage precautions, has found means of frustrating thy design."
Pharaoh was the rather disposed to credit the astrologer, since the repetition of his dream indicated the same. He therefore reproached Amram for not having adopted better measures, which might have rendered impossible the transgression of his commands.
But Amram said, "Pardon thy servant if he venture to doubt the infallibility of this master's interpretation, but the measures which I have adopted, and executed under my own inspection, are of that sort, that on this occasion it is quite incomprehensible to me. Yesterday, as soon as I had left the royal palace, I betook myself to the other side of the river, and, summoning all the men of Israel, threatened with death him who should under any pretext whatever remain behind. Nevertheless, to make sure that, if any one had remained concealed in his dwelling, he should still be separated from his wife, I commanded all women to be shut up in another quarter of the city, which, like the camp of the men, I surrounded with troops, so that no one was able to go in or out. Mean while, I will so act as if I were persuaded of this astrologer's statement. If thou desire it, I will strangle the women, or subject them to severer regulations; we shall discover the guilty one, and destroy her." But p. 119 Allah infused compassion toward the women of Israel into Pharaoh's heart, and he contented himself with having them more rigidly guarded. But these measures, according to the decision of Allah, proved abortive; for, as Amram was not permitted to move out of the royal palace, Haman did not in the least suspect Johabed, and made her an exception from the common rule, as she was the vizier's wife. Within a twelvemonth from that time Johabed gave birth to a man child, whom she called Musa (Moses). She was delivered without a pain.*
But the sorrow of her heart was the greater when she cast her eyes on the little child, whose face beamed like the moon in her splendor, and thought of his death, which was drawing nigh. Yet Moses rose, and said, "Fear nothing, my mother; the God of Abraham is with us."
In the night when Moses was born the idols p. 120 in all the temples of Egypt were dashed down. Pharaoh heard a voice in his dream, which called to him, "Turn to the only God, the Creator of heaven and earth, or thy destruction is inevitable." In the morning the astrologer appeared again, and announced to Pharaoh the birth of the lad who would one day be his destruction. Haman now commanded all the dwellings of the Israelitish Women to be searched afresh, and made no exception even with Johabed's, fearing lest some other woman might have concealed her child therein. Johabed had gone out when Haman entered her house, but had previously hid her child in the oven, and laid much wood before it. Finding nothing in the whole house, Haman commanded the wood in the oven to be lighted, and went away, saying, "If there be a child concealed there, it will be consumed." When Johabed returned, and saw the blazing fire, she uttered a frightful cry of woe; but Moses called to her, "Be calm, my mother; Allah has given the fire no power over me." But as the vizier frequently repeated his visits, and Johabed feared lest he might one day have the wood removed instead of lighting the oven, she resolved to intrust her child to the Nile rather than to expose it to the danger of being discovered by Haman. She obtained, therefore, a little ark from Amram, laid Moses in it, and carried p. 121 it to the river at midnight; but, passing a sentinel, she was stopped, and asked what the ark contained which she carried under her arm. At that instant the earth opened under the sentinel's feet, and ingulfed him up to his neck; and there came a voice out of the earth, which said, "Let this woman depart unharmed; nor let thy tongue betray what thy eyes have seen, or thou art a child of death." The soldier shut his eyes in token of obedience, for his neck was already so compressed that he could not speak, and as soon as Johabed had passed on, the earth vomited him forth again. When she arrived at the place on the shore where she designed to conceal the ark among the rushes, she beheld a huge black serpent: it was Iblis, who placed himself in her way in this form, with the intention of staggering her resolve. Affrighted, she started back from the vile reptile; but Moses called to her from the ark, "Be without fear, my mother; pass on: my presence shall chase away this serpent." At these words Iblis vanished. Johabed, then opening the ark once more, pressed Moses to her heart, closed it, and, weeping and sobbing, laid it among the reeds, in hopes that some compassionate Egyptian woman would come and take it up. But as she departed, she heard a voice from heaven exclaim, "Be not cast down, O wife of Amram! p. 122 we will bring back thy son to thee; he is the elected messenger of Allah."
To manifest the weakness of human machinations against that which the Kalam has written on the heavenly tablets of Fate, Allah had ordained that the child now at the mercy of the floods should be saved by Pharaoh's own family. He commanded, therefore, as soon as Johabed had left the Nile, that the angel who was set over the waters should float the ark in which Moses lay into the canal which united Pharaoh's palace with the river; for, on account of his leprous daughters, to whom his physicians had prescribed bathing in the Nile, he had constructed a canal, by which the water of the river was guided into a large basin in the midst of the palace gardens. The eldest of the seven princesses first discovered the little ark, and carried it to the bank to open it. On her removing the lid, there beamed a light upon her which her eyes were not able to endure. She cast a veil over Moses, but at that instant her own face, which hitherto had been covered with scars and sores of all the most hideous colors imaginable, shone like the moon in its brightness and purity, and her sisters exclaimed in amazement, "By what means hast thou been so suddenly freed from leprosy?"*
"By the miraculous power of this child," replied the eldest. "The glance which beamed upon me when I beheld it unveiled has chased away the impurity of my body, as the rising sun scatters the gloom of night."
The six sisters, one after the other, now lifted the veil from Moses's face, and they too became fair as if they had been formed of the finest silver. The eldest then took the ark on her head, and carried it to her mother Asia, relating to her in how miraculous a manner both she and her sisters had been healed.
Asia took Moses from the ark, and brought him to Pharaoh, followed by the seven princesses. Pharaoh started involuntarily when Asia entered his chamber, and his heart was filled with dark presentiments; besides, it was not customary for his women to come to him uninvited. But his face regained its cheerfulness when he beheld the seven princesses, whose beauty now surpassed all their contemporaries.
"Who are these maidens?" he inquired of Asia. "Are they slaves whom some tributary prince has sent to me?"
"They are thy daughters, and here upon my arm is the physician who has cured them of their leprosy."
She then narrated to the king how the princesses had found Moses, and how they had recovered from their distemper on beholding him.
Pharaoh was transported with joy, and for the first time in his life embraced his beloved daughters. But after a little while his features were overcast again, and he said to Asia, "This child must not live: who knows whether his mother be not an Israelite, and he the child of whom both my dreams, as well as my astrologers, have foreboded me so much evil?"
"Dost thou still believe in idle dreams, the mere whispers of Satan, and in the still more idle interpretations given by men who boast of reading the future in the stars? Hast thou not slain the young mothers of Israel and their children; and even searched their houses? Besides, will it not always be in thy power to destroy this fragile being? Meanwhile, take it to the palace, in gratitude for the miraculous cure of thy daughters."
The seven princesses seconded the prayers of Asia, until Pharaoh relented, permitting the child to be brought up in the royal palace. Scarcely had he pronounced the words of grace p. 125 when Asia hastened back to her apartments with the child, and sent for an Egyptian nurse; but Moses thrust her away, for it was not the will of the Highest that he should receive nourishment from a worshiper of idols.* Asia commanded another nurse to be brought; but her also, as well as a third one, Moses would not embrace. On the following morning the queen made known that any woman, who would engage to nurse a strange child for a handsome remuneration, should repair to the royal palace. After this the entire court of the castle was filled with women and maidens, many of whom had come from curiosity only. Among the latter was Kolthum (Miriam), the sister of Moses. When she heard that the child had been found in an ark floating on the water, and that it still refused to take nourishment, she ran quickly and told her mother. Johabed hastened to the palace, and was announced to Asia as a nurse, for the severe regulations against the Israelitish women were now removed. Moses scarcely beheld his mother, when he stretched out his arms toward her, and as he embraced her immediately, p. 126 she was engaged as a nurse for the space of two years. After the expiration of that time, Asia sent her away with many rich presents, but kept Moses with her, intending to adopt him as her son, since she had no male descendants. Pharaoh himself became daily more attached to the child, and often spent whole hours together in playing with him. One day—Moses was then in his fourth year—while Pharaoh was playing with him, he took the crown from the king's head, and throwing it on the ground, thrust it away with his foot. The king's suspicion was roused afresh: enraged, he ran to Asia, reproaching her for having persuaded him to let Moses live, and manifested once more a desire to put him to death;* but Asia laughed at him p. 127 for permitting the naughtiness of a child to excite in him such gloomy thoughts.
"Well, then," said Pharaoh, "let us see whether the child has acted thoughtlessly or with reflection? Let a bowl with burning coals and one with coin be brought. If he seize the former, he shall live; but if he stretch out his hand to the latter, he has betrayed himself."
Asia was forced to obey, and her eyes hung in painful suspense on Moses's hand, as if her own life had been at stake. Endowed with manly understanding, Moses was on the point of taking a handful of the shining coin, when Allah, watching over his life, sent an angel, who, against the child's will, directed his hand into the burning coals, and even put one to his mouth. Pharaoh was again reassured, and entreated Asia for forgiveness; but Moses had burned his tongue, and was a stammerer from that day.*
When Moses was six years old, Pharaoh one day teased him so much, that in his anger he pushed with his foot so violently against the throne on which Pharaoh sat, that it was overthrown. Pharaoh fell on the earth, and bled profusely from his mouth and nose. He sprang p. 128 to his feet, and drew his sword against Moses to thrust him through. Asia and the seven princesses were present, yet all their endeavors to calm him were in vain. Then there flew a white cock toward the king, and cried, "Pharaoh, if thou spill the blood of this child, thy daughters shall be more leprous than before." Pharaoh cast a glance on the princesses; and as from dread and fright their faces were already suffused with a ghastly yellow, he desisted again from his bloody design.
Thus Moses grew up in Pharaoh's house, amid every variety of danger, which GOD, however, warded off in a miraculous manner. One morning—he was then already in his eighteenth year—he was performing his ablutions in the Nile, and prayed to Allah. An Egyptian priest saw him, and observed that he prayed unlike the other Egyptians, who always turn their faces toward Pharaoh's palace, while the eyes of Moses were directed on high.
"Whom worshipest thou?" inquired the priest, in great astonishment.
Moses, having finished his prayer, replied, "My Lord!"
"Thy father Pharaoh?"
"May Allah curse thee, and all those who worship the king as God!"
"Thou shalt atone with thy life for this imprecation. I will forthwith go to thy father, and accuse thee before him."
Then Moses prayed, "Lord of the waters! who hast destroyed by the floods the whole human race, save Noah and Audj, let them even now overflow their banks, to ingulf this blasphemous priest."
He had scarcely pronounced these words, when there arose such waves in the Nile as only the fiercest tempest excites in the mighty ocean. One of them rolled over the shore, and swept away the priest into the stream.
When he saw his life in danger, he cried out, "Mercy! O Moses, have mercy! I swear that I will conceal what I have heard from thee."
"But if thou break thine oath?"
"Let my tongue be cut out of my mouth."
Moses saved the priest, and went his way; but when he came to the royal palace he was summoned before Pharaoh, beside whom sat the priest, who had evidently betrayed him.
"Whom worshipest thou?" inquired Pharaoh.
"My Lord," replied Moses, "who gives me meat and drink, who clothes me, and supplies all my wants." Moses thereby intended the only God, the Creator and Preserver of the world, unto whom we are indebted for all things.
But Pharaoh, according to the will of Allah, p. 130 referred this reply to himself, and commanded that the priest, as a calumniator, should have his tongue cut out, and be hanged before the palace.
Having attained the age of manhood, Moses frequently conversed with the Israelites during his excursions, and listened eagerly to their accounts of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but especially of Joseph, for his mother had long ere this revealed to him the secret of his birth. One day be beheld how a Kopt was most cruelly treating an Israelite, by name Samiri. The latter implored his protection, and Moses struck the Egyptian a blow which stretched him lifeless on the earth. On the following morning Samiri was again striving with an Egyptian, and prayed Moses again to help him; but the latter reproached him for his quarrelsome disposition, and raised his hand threateningly against him. When Samiri saw this, he said, "Wilt thou kill me as thou didst the Kopt yesterday?" The Egyptian who was present heard it, and accused Moses of murder before Pharaoh. The king directed that he should be delivered to the relations of the slain; but one of the royal household, a friend of Moses, informed him immediately of Pharaoh's sentence, and he succeeded in making his escape in time.
Moses wandered many days through the wilderness, until Allah sent him an angel in the form p. 131 of a Bedouin, who guided him into Midian, where the faithful priest Shuib (Jethro) dwelt, in the midst of idolaters. The sun was declining when he arrived before a well at the outskirts of the little town, and there stood Lija and Safurja, the two daughters of Shuib, with their flocks.*
"Why do you not water your cattle," inquired Moses, "since the night will soon overtake you?"
"We do not venture to do so," replied Lija, "until the other shepherds, who hate us and our father, have first watered theirs."
Then Moses himself led their cattle to the well, and said, "If any of the shepherds has aught against you, I myself wilt see to the matter." The maidens yielded; nor did any of the shepherds, who assembled around, dare to oppose Moses, for his holy appearance filled them with awe.
When Shuib, astonished at the unusually early return of his daughters, heard from them that a stranger had watered their cattle, he sent Safurja to the well to invite him to his house. But Moses, although suffering with hunger, did not touch the refreshments that were set before him, and when Shuib inquired why be rejected his hospitality, he replied, "I am not of those who accept a reward for any good deed that they have done."
"In like manner, I," replied Shuib, "am not of those who show hospitality only to their benefactors. My house is open to every stranger; and as such, not as the protector of my daughters, thou mayest accept my invitation."
"Moses then ate till he was satisfied, and related during his repast what had befallen him in Egypt.
"As thou mayest not return to thy home, said Shuib, when he had come to the conclusion of his narrative, "remain with me as my shepherd, and, after serving me eight or ten years p. 133 faithfully, I will give thee my daughter Safurja to wife."
Moses accepted this offer, and pledged himself to eight years' service, but added that he should cheerfully remain two years longer, if he had nothing to complain of; and he abode ten years with him. On the morning following his arrival, he accompanied the daughters of Shuib to the pasture; but as he had fled from Egypt without a staff, Safurja brought to him the miraculous rod of her father, which had served for the support and defense of the prophets before him.* Adam had brought it with him from Paradise: after his death it passed into the hands of Sheth; after that it went to Idris, then to Noah, Salih, and Abraham. Moses was thirty years old when he entered the service of Shuib, and thirty-eight on his marriage with Safurja. In his p. 134 fortieth year he determined to return to Egypt in order to inquire after his relatives and brethren in the faith. It was a cold and stormy day when he drew near to Mount Thur, on which a bright fire was blazing; and he said to his wife, "Rest here in the valley; I will see what this flame signifies, and bring thee a few brands on my return." But when Moses came near the fire, he heard a voice out of the midst of the burning and yet unconsumed bush exclaim, "Take off thy shoes, for thou art in the presence of thy Lord, who manifests himself to thee as The Light, to sanctify thee as his prophet, and to send thee to Pharaoh, whose unbelief and cruelty are so great, that long ere this the mountains would have crushed him, the seas have swallowed him up, or the flames of heaven consumed his soul, if I had not determined to give in his person a proof of my omnipotence unto the whole world."
Moses fell down and said, "Lord, I have slain an Egyptian, and Pharaoh will put me to death if I appear before him; besides, my tongue has been paralyzed since my infancy, so that I am not able to speak before kings."
"Fear not, son of Amram!" replied the voice from the fire. "If thy Lord had not watched over thee, thou wouldst have been changed into dust even before thy birth; but as regards thy p. 135 imperfect speech, it shall not prevent the exercise of thy calling, for I give to thee thy brother Aaron as vizier, who shall communicate my will to Pharaoh.
"Go fearlessly to Pharaoh; the staff which is in thy hand shall protect thee from violence. Thou canst persuade thyself of it if thou wilt but lay it down on the earth."
Moses threw away his staff, and behold! it was changed into a large living serpent. He would have fled from it, but the angel Gabriel held him back, and said, "Lay hold of it; it can do thee no harm." Moses stretched out his hand toward it, and it once more was changed into a staff. Strengthened by this miracle, he was about to return to Safurja to pursue with her his way to Egypt; but the angel Gabriel said to him, "Thou hast now higher duties than those of a husband. By command of Allah, I have already taken back thy wife to her father, but thou shalt fulfill thy mission alone."
On the night that Moses was treading Egyptian ground, there appeared unto Aaron, who had succeeded his father Amram as vizier to Pharaoh, an angel with a crystal cup filled with the rarest old wine; and said, as he handed him the cup, "Drink, Aaron, of the wine which the Lord has sent thee in token of glad tidings. Thy p. 136 brother Moses has returned to Egypt: God has chosen him to be his prophet, and thee to be his vizier. Arise, and go to meet him."
Aaron instantly left Pharaoh's chamber, in which he, as once his father before him, was obliged to watch, and went beyond the city toward the Nile. But when he reached the bank of the stream. there was not a single boat at hand to ferry him over. Suddenly he beheld a light at a distance; and on its nearer approach he discovered a horseman, who flew toward him with the speed of the wind. It was Gabriel mounted on the steed Hizam, which shone like the purest diamond, and whose neighings were celestial songs of praise. Aaron's first thought was that he was pursued by one of Pharaoh's men, and he was on the brink of casting himself into the Nile; but Gabriel made himself known in time to prevent him, and lifted him on his winged horse, which carried them both to the opposite bank of the Nile. Here Moses was standing; and as soon as he beheld his brother, he cried aloud, "Truth has come, and falsehood has fled!" Gabriel then placed Moses also beside him, and set him down before the house of his mother; but Aaron he carried back into the royal palace, and when Pharaoh awoke, his vizier was again at his post. Moses spent the remainder of that night and the whole of the p. 137 next day with his mother, to whom he was obliged to relate all that had befallen him in a foreign land since the day of his flight from Egypt. The second night he spent with Aaron in Pharaoh's chamber. All the doors of the palace, however fast they were closed, opened of their own accord as soon as he touched them with his rod, and the guards standing before them became as if petrified. But when they reported in the morning what they had seen, and the porter who came in with his keys to open the doors of the palace found them wide open, while neither door nor lock exhibited any mark of violence, and nothing of the costly things scattered through the various saloons were missing, Haman said to Pharaoh, "Aaron, who has watched by thee, must explain this matter; for, as thy chamber has likewise been opened, the intruder can have had no other object than to converse with him."*
Pharaoh immediately summoned Aaron before him, and threatening him with the rack, demanded who his nightly visitor had been. Aaron, in the conviction that Allah would not leave his prophet in the power of an infidel king, avowed that it was his brother Moses who had been with him. Pharaoh immediately sent Haman with a detachment of the royal body-guard into Moses's dwelling, in order to bring him to judgment in the presence of all the viziers and high officers of state, who were forthwith ordered to assemble in the grand hall. He himself presided on his throne, which was entirely of gold, and adorned with the most costly pearls and diamonds. When Moses stepped into the judgment hall, Pharaoh swooned away, for he recognized in him the child that had been saved by his daughters, and now feared him the more, inasmuch as he knew that he was Aaron's brother, and consequently an Israelite. But he soon recovered, on their sprinkling him with rose-water, and with his consciousness also returned his former stubbornness of heart. Pretending never p. 139 to have seen him before, he inquired, "Who art thou?"
"I am the servant of Allah, and his messenger."
"Art thou not Pharaoh's slave?"
"I acknowledge no other lord than the only Allah."
"To whom art thou sent?"
"To thee, in order to admonish thee to faith in Allah and in me his messenger, and to lead forth the Israelites out of thy country."
"Who is the Allah in whose name thou speakest to me?"
"The only One, the Invisible, who hath created heaven and earth, and all that in them is."
Pharaoh then turned to Aaron, and inquired of him, "What thinkest thou of the words of this foolhardy man?"
"I believe in the only God, whom he proclaims, and in him as his messenger."
On hearing this, Pharaoh said to Haman, "This man has ceased to be my vizier: take off forthwith his robe of honor!"
Haman then took his purple robe from him, and he stood ashamed, for the upper part of his body was uncovered. Moses cast over him his woolen garment; but, as he was not accustomed to such coarse raiment, he trembled in all his limbs. At that moment the ceiling of the hall was opened, and Gabriel flung a robe round p. 140 Aaron glittering with so many diamonds that all who were present were dazzled, as if the lightning had flashed through the darkest night. Pharaoh admired this robe, which had not a single seam, and inquired of his treasurer what might be its value.
"Such a garment," replied the troubled treasurer, "is priceless, for the meanest of the jewels is worth ten whole years' revenue of Egypt. Such diamonds I have never beheld in any bazar, nor are the like to be found among all the treasures that have been amassed in this palace from the earliest times. None but sorcerers can obtain possession of such jewels by Satanic arts."
"Ye are then sorcerers!" said Pharaoh to Moses and Aaron. "Be it so. I esteem sorcerers highly, and will make you the heads of this fraternity, if ye will swear not to use your art to my prejudice."
"The Lord of the distant east and west," rejoined Moses, "has sent me as a prophet unto thee, in order to convert thee. We are no sorcerers."
"And wherewithal wilt thou prove thy mission?"
Moses flung his staff on the ground, and instantly it was changed into a serpent as huge as the largest camel. He glanced at Pharaoh with fire-darting eyes, and raised Pharaoh's p. 141 throne aloft to the ceiling, and opening his jaws, cried, "If it pleased Allah, I could not only swallow up thy throne, with thee and all that are here present, but even thy palace and all that it contains, without any one perceiving the slightest change in me."
Pharaoh leaped from his throne, and adjured Moses, by Asia his wife, to whom he was indebted for life and education, to protect him against this monster. At the mention of Asia's name, Moses felt compassion toward Pharaoh, and called the serpent to him. The serpent placed the throne in its proper position, and stepped like a tender lamb before Moses. He put his hand into his jaws, and seized him by his tongue, whereupon he once more became a staff. But scarcely was this peril warded off from Pharaoh, when his heart again opened to the whispers of Satan, and instead of lending his ear to Moses, he demanded of the viziers to counsel him what he should do.
"Let the heads of these two rebels be cut off," said Haman, "and fear nothing from them; for all that they represent as divine wonders is nothing but idle delusion."
"Do not follow this counsel, mighty king!" cried Hiskil, the treasurer: "think of the contemporaries of Noah, and the nations of Aad and Thamud. They also believed Noah, Hud, p. 142 and Salih, the prophets whom Allah had sent to be demons and deceivers, until the wrath of Allah fell on them, destroying them and their possessions by fire and water."
But now uprose Haman's predecessor, a hoary man of a hundred and twenty years of age, and said, "Permit me also, O king of kings! before I descend to the grave, to impart to thee my opinion. What king can boast of having so many magicians in his kingdom as thou? I therefore hold it to be the wisest plan that thou fix on a day in which they all may assemble together, and have a meeting with Moses and Aaron. If these are nothing but sorcerers, the Egyptian masters of this art will not be a whit inferior to them; and then thou art still at liberty to do with them according to thy high will. But if they put thy sorcerers to shame, then are they indeed the servants of a mightier God, to whom we shall be forced to submit."
Pharaoh approved of the counsel of his aged vizier, and commanded all the sorcerers of Egypt, seventy thousand in number, to repair to the capital at the expiration of a month. When they were assembled, the king commanded them to choose seventy chiefs from their body, and these seventy were again to be represented by the two most renowned among them, in order to contend in magic arts with p. 143 Moses and Aaron in the face of the whole people. Pharaoh's command was punctually obeyed, and the choice of the magicians fell on Risam and Rejam, two men of Upper Egypt, who were no less esteemed and feared throughout the whole country than Pharaoh himself.
On an appointed day, Pharaoh, for whom a large silken tent, embroidered with pearls and supported on silver pillars, had been erected, proceeded to a large plain beyond the city, accompanied by his viziers and the nobles of his kingdom: Risam and Rejam on the one side of the tent, and Moses and Aaron on the other, awaited his commands; and the whole population of Egypt was on the field of contest from early dawn, anxious to see which party would obtain the victory. Pharaoh demanded of the two Egyptians to change their rods into serpents: this was done, and Haman said to Pharaoh, "Did not I tell thee that Moses and Aaron were no more than other sorcerers, who deserve chastisement for having abused their art?"
"Thou art too hasty in thy judgment," said Hiskil. "Let us see first whether Moses will not be able to do still greater things than these."
At a sign from the king, Moses stepped forward and prayed to Allah that he would glorify his name in the face of all Egypt. Allah then p. 144 brought to naught the charm of the Egyptians, which was mere illusion, and it was unto all present as if a dark veil was removed from their eyes; and they recognized again as staffs what had appeared before as serpents. Moses threw his staff upon the earth, and it became a serpent with seven heads, which did not remain motionless like those of the magicians, but pursued the two sorcerers with open jaws. They threw themselves to the earth, and exclaimed, "We believe in the Lord of the World, the God of Moses and Aaron."
Pharaoh cried to them wrathfully, "How dare you confess yourselves to another faith without my permission, simply because these sorcerers are more dexterous than you? Unless you recall your words, I shall cause your hands and feet to be cut off, and shall hang you on the gallows."
"Wilt thou punish us," replied the sorcerers, "because we can not deny the signs of Allah! Behold, we are prepared to yield up our lives in support of our faith."
Pharaoh, in order to set a terrible example, caused the threatened punishment to be executed on them, and they died the first martyrs to the faith of Moses.
The king now waxed daily more cruel; every believer was put to death with the most excruciating p. 145 tortures. He did not even spare his own daughter, Masheta, the wife of Hiskil, on learning that she no longer honored him as God. She endured with admirable fortitude the death by fire, after seeing all her children slaughtered before her eyes at Pharaoh's command.
Asia herself was now accused before him of of apostasy, and even she was condemned to death; but the angel Gabriel comforted her with the annunciation that she should hereafter be united with Mohammed in Paradise, and gave her a potion by which she died without pain.
Pharaoh now conceived, like Nimrod before him, the iniquitous design to war against the God of Moses. He therefore caused a tower to be built, at which fifty thousand men, mostly Israelites, were compelled to labor day and night, he himself riding up and down among them to urge on the indolent. But Moses prayed to Allah, and the tower fell in, crushing under its ruins all those Egyptians who had committed violence against the Israelites. But even this judgment made only a passing impression on the heart of Pharaoh, for Allah desired to perform still greater wonders before he condemned the soul of the king to eternal hell. First he visited him with a flood. The Nile overflowed its banks, and the waters rose so high that they reached to the neck of the tallest man. After that, a p. 146 host of locusts invaded the land, which not only consumed all provisions, but even copper and iron. Then followed all kinds of disgusting vermin, which defiled all meats and drinks, and filled all garments and beds, so that Pharaoh, however often he might change his raiment, had not a moment's rest. When this plague disappeared, and Pharaoh still resisted the wishes of Moses, all the waters were changed to blood as soon as an Egyptian took them in his hand, but remained unchanged for the Israelites.*
Finally, many of the Egyptians, especially the more eminent, who had strengthened Pharaoh in his unbelief were turned into stone, together with all their goods. Here, one might see a petrified man, sitting in the bazar, with a balance in his hand; there, another, marking something with the Kalam, or counting gold; and even the gate-keeper of the palace stood there turned to stone, holding a sword in his right hand. Omar Ibn Abd Alasis† had in his possession all kinds p. 147 of petrified fruits of those times, and frequently showed them to his guests as a warning against unbelief. At Moses's prayer, Allah revived the petrified men; but when Pharaoh refused afresh to permit the Israelites to depart, there burst out upon the land so thick a darkness, that whoever happened to be standing could not sit down, and whoever happened to be sitting had no power to rise. Thereupon the Nile was dried up, so that man and beast died of thirst. On this occasion, Pharaoh himself ran to Moses, and adjured him to pray for him once more, that the water might flow back into the Nile. For the last time Moses prayed for him, and the Nile was not only filled to its banks, but there also streamed from it a little brook, which followed Pharaoh whithersoever he went, so that at any moment he was able to supply with water both man and beast. But instead of turning to Allah, the king made use of this special favor also as a means of inducing the people to reverence him still as God.
The long-suffering of the Lord was now exhausted, and the king was himself to pronounce his sentence, and to choose the manner of death which his wickedness had deserved. Gabriel assumed the appearance of a noble Egyptian, p. 148 and accused before Pharaoh one of his slaves, who, in his absence, had proclaimed himself the lord of the house, and constrained the other domestics to serve him. "This impostor," said Pharaoh, "deserves to die."
"How shall I put him to death?"
"Let him be thrown into the water."
"Give me a written warrant."
Pharaoh commanded an instrument to be drawn up, according to which any slave who usurped the honors of his master was to be drowned.
Gabriel left Pharaoh, and gave Moses the command to quit Egypt with his people. Pharaoh pursued them with his host, and enclosed them on all sides, so that there remained no other way of escape to Israel than toward the Red Sea. Hemmed in between the Egyptians and the sea, they fell with reproaches upon Moses, who had brought them into this dangerous position; but he raised his staff toward the waters, and instantly there were twelve paths opened through the sea for the twelve tribes of Israel, each of which was separated from the rest by a lofty, yet quite transparent wall.
When Pharaoh reached the sea-shore, and beheld the dry paths in the midst of the sea, he said to Haman, "Now Israel is lost to us, for even the waters seem to favor their flight."
But Haman replied, "Are not those paths opened likewise for us? We shall soon overtake them with our horse."
Pharaoh took the path in which Moses marched with the tribe of Levi; but his steed grew restiff, and was unwilling to go forward. Then mounted Gabriel, in human form, on the horse Ramka, and rode in before Pharaoh. This horse was so beautiful, that as soon as the king's steed saw him, he plunged in behind.
But when Pharaoh and his whole host were in the sea, the angel Gabriel turned to the king, and showed him the warrant of the previous day, bearing the royal seal, and said, "Frail mortal, who didst desire to be worshiped as God! behold, thou hast condemned thyself to die by water." At these words, the twelve walls tumbled in, the floods burst forth, and Pharaoh and all that followed him perished in the waters. But in order to convince both the Egyptians who had remained behind, as well as the Israelites, of Pharaoh's death, Allah commanded the waves to cast his body, first on the western and then on the eastern shore of the Red Sea.
But now Moses had no less to contend against the Israelites than formerly against Pharaoh; for they seemed unable to tear themselves from the service of idols, notwithstanding all the p. 150 wonders of the only Lord, which he had performed.
Yet as long as he tarried with them they presumed not to demand an idol; but when Allah called him to himself on Mount Sinai, they threatened Aaron, whom he had left behind as his representative, with death, if he would not give them an idol.
Samiri now admonished them to bring all their gold, including even the ornaments of their women, and cast it into a copper caldron, under which a strong fire was lighted. As soon as the gold was melted, he flung into it a handful of sand, which he had taken up from under the hoof of Gabriel's horse, and lo! there was formed out of it a calf, which ran up and down like a natural one.
"Here is your Lord, and the Lord of Moses!" then cried Samiri; "this God we will worship!"*
While the Israelites, notwithstanding the admonition of Aaron, had abandoned Allah, the angel Gabriel uplifted Moses so high into the heavens that he heard the scribbling of the Kalam which had just received the command to p. 151 engrave the Decalogue for him and for his people on the eternal tablets of Fate.
But the higher Moses rose, the stronger grew his desire to behold Allah himself in his glory.
Then commanded Allah all the angels to surround Moses, and to commence a song of praise. Moses swooned away, for he was wanting in strength both to behold these hosts of shining forms as well as to hear their thrilling voices.
But when he came to himself again, be confessed that he had asked a sinful thing, and repented. He then prayed to Allah that he would make his people the most excellent of the earth. But Allah replied, "The Kalam has already marked down as such the people of Mohammed, because they shall fight for the true faith until it cover the whole earth."
"Lord," continued Moses, "reward tenfold the good deeds of my people, and visit sin but once; let also each good intention, though not carried into effect, obtain a recompense, but pass by each evil thought unpunished."
"These are privileges," replied Allah, "accorded to those only who believe in Mohammed, in whose name even Adam prayed to me. Admonish, therefore, thy people to faith in him, for he shall rise first on the day of the resurrection from his grave, and enter into Paradise at the head of all the prophets. He also shall obtain p. 152 the grace of revealing to his people the commandment of the five daily prayers and the fast of Ramadhan."*
When Moses returned again to his own people, and found them worshiping before the golden calf, he fell upon Aaron, caught him by the beard, and was on the point of strangling him, when Aaron swore that he was innocent, and pointed out Samiri as the prime mover of this idolatry.
Moses then summoned Samiri, and would have put him to death instantly, but Allah directed that he should be sent into banishment.
Ever since that time he roams like a wild beast throughout the world; every one shuns him, and purifies the ground on which his feet have stood, and he himself, whenever he approaches men, exclaims, "Touch me not!"
Yet, before Moses expelled him from the camp of the Israelites at Allah's command, he caused the calf to be broken into pieces, and having ground it to dust, forced Samiri to defile it. It was then put into water, and given the Israelites to drink.
After Samiri's removal, Moses prayed Allah p. 153 to have mercy on his people; but Allah replied, "I can not pardon them, for sin yet dwells in their inward parts, and will only be washed away by the potion which thou hast given them."
On returning to the camp, Moses heard woeful shriekings. Many of the Israelites, with ghastly faces and with bodies frightfully swollen, cast themselves down before him, and cried, "Moses, help us! the golden calf is tearing our vitals; we will repent, and die cheerfully, if Allah will but pardon our sin." Many repented really of their sins; but from others only pain and the fear of death had extorted these expressions of repentance.
Moses commanded them, therefore in the name of Allah, to slay each other.
Then there rose a darkness, like unto that which Allah had sent upon Pharaoh. The innocent and reclaimed hewed with the sword to the right and to the left, so that many slew their nearest kinsmen; but Allah gave their swords power over the guilty only. Seventy thousand worshipers of idols had already fallen, when Moses, moved by the cries of women and children, implored God once more for mercy.
Instantly the heavens grew clear, the sword rested, and all the remaining sick were healed.
On the following day Moses read unto them the Law, and admonished them to obey scrupulously p. 154 its prescriptions. But many of the people exclaimed, "We shall not submit to such a code." The laws especially obnoxious to them were those which regulated the revenge of blood and punished the pettiest theft with the loss of the hand. At that instant, Mount Sinai became vaulted over their heads, excluding the very light of heaven from them, and there cried a voice from the rocks, "Sons of Israel, Allah has redeemed you from Egypt merely to be the bearers of his laws: if you refuse this burden, we shall fall in upon you, and thus you shall be compelled to support a weightier mass until the day of the resurrection."
With one voice they then exclaimed, "We are ready to submit to the Law, and to accept it as the rule of our life."
When Moses had instructed them fully in the Law, and expounded what was pure and what impure, what lawful and what unlawful, he gave the signal to march for the conquest of the promised land of Palestine.
But, notwithstanding all the wonders of Allah, who fed them with manna and quails in the wilderness, and caused twelve fresh fountains to spring out of the rocky ground wherever they encamped, they were still faint-hearted, and would not depart until they had obtained better information respecting the country and its inhabitants through spies.
Moses was obliged to yield, and sent a man out of every tribe into Palestine.
The spies, on their return, related, "We have seen the land which we are to subdue by the sword: it is good and fruitful.
"The strongest camel is scarcely able to carry one single bunch of grapes; a single ear yields sufficient corn to satisfy a whole family, and the shell of a pomegranate can easily contain five armed men.
"But the inhabitants of that country and their cities are of a size proportionate to the products of their soil. We have seen men the smallest of whom was six hundred cubits high. They stared at our dwarfish appearance, and derided us. Their houses naturally correspond with their size, and the walls which surround their cities are so high that an eagle is scarcely able to soar to the summit thereof."
When the spies had finished their report, they dropped down dead; only two of them, Joshua, the son of Nun, and Caleb, who had kept silence, remained alive. But the Israelites murmured against Moses, and said, "We shall never fight against such a gigantic people. If thou hast a mind to do so, march alone with thy God against them."
Thereupon Moses announced to them, in the name of Allah, that by reason of their distrust p. 156 in the help of Him who had divided the sea for their safety, they were doomed to wander forty years through the wilderness. He then took leave of them, and journeyed, preaching the true faith through the whole earth from east to west, and from north to south.
When Moses was one day boasting of his wisdom to his servant Joshua, who accompanied him, Allah said, "Go to the Persian Gulf, where the seas of the Greeks and the Persians commingle, and thou shalt there find one of my pious servants who surpasses thee in wisdom."
"How shall I recognize this wise man?"
"Take with thee a fish in a basket: it will show thee where my servant lives."
Moses now departed with Joshua toward the country which Allah had pointed out, and constantly carried with him a fish in a basket. On one occasion he laid himself down, quite exhausted, on the sea-shore, and fell asleep. It was late when he awoke, and he hurried on to reach the desired inn; but Joshua had, in his haste, neglected to take the fish with him, and Moses forgot to remind him of it. It was not until the next morning that they missed their fish, and were on the point of returning to the spot where they had rested on the preceding day; but, on reaching the sea-shore, they beheld a fish gliding p. 157 quite erect on the surface of the water, instead of swimming therein, as fish are wont to do: they soon recognized it as theirs, and therefore went after it along the shore. After having, for a few hours, followed their guide, it suddenly dived below: they stood still, and thought, "Here the God-fearing man whom we are seeking must dwell;" and soon they descried a cave, over whose entrance was written, "In the name of Allah, the All-merciful and All-gracious." On stepping in, they found a man who appeared in all the bloom and vigor of a youth of seventeen, but with a snow-white beard flowing even to his feet. It was the prophet Chidhr, who, though gifted with eternal youth, was withal endowed with the finest ornament of hoary age.
After mutual salutation, Moses said, "Accept me as thy disciple, and permit me to accompany thee in thy wanderings through the world, that I may admire the wisdom which Allah has bestowed on thee."
"Thou canst not comprehend it, and wilt therefore not remain long with me."
"If Allah pleases, thou shalt find me both obedient and patient. Reject me not!"
"Thou mayest follow me, yet must thou ask me no question until I shall, of my own accord, explain my actions."
When Moses had submitted to this condition, p. 158 Al Chidhr took him to the shore of the sea, where a vessel was lying at anchor. He took an axe and struck out two planks of the vessel, so that it sank immediately.
"What dost thou?" cried Moses: "the men that are in it will now perish."
"Did I not say," replied Al Chidhr, "thou wilt not long continue patiently with me?"
"Pardon me," said Moses; "I had forgotten my promise."
Al Chidhr then journeyed farther with him, until they met a beautiful boy, who was playing with shells on the sea-shore. Al Chidhr drew his knife, and cut the throat of the child.
Moses cried, "Why murderest thou an innocent child, who can in no wise have deserved death? Thou hast committed a great crime!"
"Did I not tell thee," replied Al Chidhr, "thou canst not travel long in my company?"
"Pardon me yet this once," replied Moses; "and if I inquire again, then mayest thou reject me!"
They now traveled long to and fro, until they arrived, weary and hungry, in a large city. Yet no one would lodge them, nor give them meat or drink without money. Suddenly Al Chidhr beheld how the walls of a beautiful inn, out of which they had just been driven, threatened to fall in; he then stepped before them, p. 159 and supported them until they stood upright again; and when he had strengthened them, he went his way.
Then said Moses to him, "Thou hast now performed a work which would have occupied many masons during several days; why hast thou not at least demanded a reward, that we might have bought some provisions?"
"Now we must separate," said Al Chidhr; "yet, ere we part, I will explain to thee the motives of my conduct. The vessel which I have damaged, but which may be easily repaired, belonged to poor men, and formed their only source of maintenance. At the time I struck it, many ships of a certain tyrant were cruising in those seas, capturing every serviceable craft. By me, therefore, these poor sailors have saved their only property.
"The child whom I have slain is the son of pious parents; but he himself (I perceived it in his face) was of a depraved nature, and would in the end, have led his parents into evil. I have therefore preferred to slay him: Allah will give them pious children in his stead.
"As for the wall of the inn which I have raised up and strengthened, it belongs to two orphans whose father was a pious man. Beneath the wall there is a treasure hid, which the present owner would have claimed if it had fallen: p. 160 I have therefore repaired it, that the treasure may be left secure until the children shall have grown up.
"Thou seest, then," continued Al Chidhr, "that in all this I have not followed blind passion, but have acted according to the will of my Lord."*
Moses prayed Al Chidhr once more to pardon him, but did not venture to ask permission to remain with him.
During the last thirty years Moses had passed through the southern, eastern, and western parts of the earth, and there were yet left to him ten years for wandering in the north, which, notwithstanding the ferocity of the nations of that region, and the rigidity of its climate, he visited in every direction until he came to the great iron wall which Alexander had erected to protect the inhabitants against the predatory incursions of the nations of Jadjudj and Madjudj. After he had admired this wall, which is cast in one piece, he praised the omnipotence of Allah, and retraced his steps toward the Arabian desert.
Nine-and-thirty years had already elapsed since he had separated from his brethren. Most of the Israelites whom he had left in their prime had mean while died, and another generation had risen in their stead.
Among the few aged men who yet remained was his kinsman Karun (Korah), Ibn Jachar, Ibn Fahitz. He had learned from Moses's sister, Kolthum (Miriam), who was his wife, the science of alchemy, so that he was able to convert the meanest metal into gold. He was so rich that he built lofty walls of gold round his gardens, and required forty mules to carry the keys p. 162 of his treasures when he traveled.* By means of his wealth he had succeeded in acquiring a truly regal influence during Moses's absence. But when, at Moses's return, his importance diminshed, he resolved on his destruction. He therefore visited a maiden whom Moses had banished from the camp on account of her abandoned courses, and promised to marry her if she would declare before the elders of the congregation that Moses had expelled her only because she had refused to listen to his proposals. She promised Korah to act entirely after his will. But when she arrived before the elders with the intention of calumniating Moses, she was not able to prefer her charge. Allah put different words into her mouth: she acknowledged her guilt, and confessed that Korah had induced her, by innumerabIe promises, to bring a false accusation against Moses. Moses prayed to Allah for protection against the malignity of his kinsman; and lo! the earth opened under the feet of Korah, and devoured him, with all his associates and goods.
As the fortieth year was hastening to its close, Moses marched with the Iraelites toward the frontier of Palestine.
But when Jalub Ifn Safum, the king of Balka, p. 163 received intelligence of the approach of the Israelites, who had already, in their march, conquered many cities, he called to him Beliam the sorcerer, the son of Baur, in hopes to be enabled, by his counsel and aid, to withstand the Israelites. But an angel appeared to Beliam in the night, and forbade him to accept the invitation of Jalub. When, therefore, the messengers of the king returned to Balka without Beliam, Jalub purchased the most costly jewels, and sent them secretly by other messengers to Beliam's wife, to whom the sorcerer was so much attached as to be quite under her control. Beliam's wife accepted the presents, and persuaded her husband to undertake the journey. The king, accompanied by his viziers, rode out some distance to meet him, and appointed one of the most beautiful houses of the city for his abode. According to the custom of the country, the guest was provided three days from the royal tables, and the viziers visited him from time to time, without speaking, however, of the object for which he had been called to Balka. It was not until the fourth day that he was summoned to the king, and entreated to curse the people of Israel. But Allah paralyzed the tongue of Beliam, so that, notwithstanding his hatred toward the people, he was not able to utter a word of imprecation.
When the king saw this, he prayed him at least to assist with his counsel against the invading nation.
"The best means against the Israelites," said Beliam, "who are so terrible only through the assistance of Allah, is to lead them into sin. Their GOD then forsakes them, and they are unable to resist any foe. Send, therefore, the most beautiful women and maidens of the capital to meet them with provisions, that they may yield to sin, and then thou shalt easily overcome them."
The king adopted this counsel; but Moses was apprised thereof by the angel Gabriel, and caused the first Israelite who was led into sin to be put to death, and as a warning, commanded his head to be carried on a spear throughout the camp. He then instantly led on the attack: Balka was taken, and the king, with Beliam and his sons, were the first to perish in the fight. Soon after the conquest of Balka, Gabriel appeared, and commanded Moses, together with Aaron and his sons, to follow him to a lofty mountain which lay near the city. On reaching the pinnacle of the mountain they beheld a finely-wrought cave, in the midst of which there stood a coffin, with the inscription, "I am destined for him whom I fit." Moses desired to lay himself first into it, but his feet protruded; p. 165 then Aaron placed himself in it, and behold, it fitted him as if his measure had been taken. Gabriel then led Moses and Aaron's sons beyond the cave, but he himself returned to wash and to bless Aaron, whose soul had mean while been taken by the Angel of Death. When Moses returned to the camp without Aaron, and announced his death to the Israelites who inquired for his brother, he was suspected of having murdered him; many, even, were not afraid to proclaim their suspicions in public. Moses prayed to Allah to manifest his innocence in the presence of all the people, and behold, four angels brought Aaron's coffin from the cave, and raised it above the camp of the Israelites, so that every one could see him, and one of the angels exclaimed, "Allah has taken Aaron's soul to himself."* Moses, who now anticipated his approaching end pronounced a long discourse before the Israelites, in which he enforced on them the most important laws. At the close, he warned them against falsifying the Law, which had been revealed to them, and in which the future appearance of Mohammed, in whom they were all to believe, was quite clearly announced. A few days after, while he was reading in the Law, the Angel of Death visited him. Moses said, "If thou be commanded to receive p. 166 my soul, take it from my mouth, for it was constantly occupied with the word of Allah, and has not been touched by any unclean thing." He then put on his most beautiful robes, appointed Joshua his successor, and died at an age of one hundred and twenty, or, as some of the learned maintain, of one hundred and eighty years. The mercy of Allah be with him!
Others relate the particulars of Moses's death as follows: When Gabriel announced to him his approaching dissolution, he ran hurriedly to his dwelling, and knocked hastily at the door. His wife Safurija opened it, and beholding him quite pale, and with ruffled countenance, inquired, "Who pursueth thee, that thou runnest hither in terror and lookest dismayed! Who is it that pursueth thee for debt?"
Then Moses answered, "Is there a mightier creditor than the Lord of heaven and earth, or a more dangerous pursuer than the Angel of Death?"
"Shall, then, a man who has spoken with Allah die?"
"Assuredly, even the angel Gabriel shall be delivered to death, and Michael and Israfil, with all other angels. Allah alone is eternal, and never dies."
Safurija wept until she swooned away; but p. 167 when she came to herself, Moses inquired,
"Where are my children?"
"They are asleep."
"Awake them, that I may bid them a last farewell."
Safurija went before the couch of her children, and cried, "Rise, ye poor orphans; rise, and take leave of your father, for this day is his last in this world and his first in the next."
The children started from their sleep in affright, and cried, "Woe unto us! who will have compassion upon us when we shall be fatherless? Who will with solicitude and affection step over our threshold?"
Moses was so moved that he wept bitterly.
Then said Allah to him, "Moses, what signify these tears? Art thou afraid of death, or departest thou reluctantly from this world?" "I fear not death, and leave this world with gladness; but I have compassion on these children, from whom their father is about to be torn."
"In whom trusted thy mother when she confided thy life to the waters?"
"In Thee, O Lord."
"Who protected thee against Pharaoh, and gave thee a staff with which thou dividedst the sea?"
"Thou, O Lord."
"Go, then, once more to the sea-shore, lift up p. 168 thy staff over the waters, and thou shalt see another sign of my omnipotence."
Moses followed this command, and instantly the sea was divided, and he beheld in the midst thereof a huge black rock. When he came near it, Allah cried to him, "Smite it with thy staff." He smote it; the rock was cleft in twain, and he saw beneath it, in a sort of cave, a worm with a green leaf in his mouth, which cried three times, "Praised be Allah, who doth not forget me in my solitude! Praised be Allah, who hath nourished and raised me up!" The worm was silent; and Allah said to Moses, "Thou seest that I do not forsake the worm under the hidden rock in the sea, and how should I forsake thy children, who do even now confess that God is one, and that Moses is his prophet?"
Moses then returned, reproved, to his house, comforted his wife and children, and went alone to the mountain. There he found four men, who were digging a grave, and he inquired of them, "For whom is this grave?" They replied, "For a man whom Allah desires to have with him in heaven." Moses begged permission to assist at the grave of so pious a man. When the work was done, he inquired, "Have you taken the measure of the dead?" "No," they said, "we have forgotten it; but he was precisely of thy form and stature: lay thyself in it, that we may p. 169 see whether it will fit thee: Allah will reward thy kindness." But when Moses had laid himself down within it, the Angel of Death stepped before him, and said, "Peace be upon thee, Moses!"
"Allah bless thee, and have pity upon thee! Who art thou?"
"I am the Angel of Death! Prophet of Allah, and come to receive thy soul."
"How wilt thou take it?"
"Out of thy mouth."
"Thou canst not, for my mouth hath spoken with God."
"I will draw it out of thine eyes."
"Thou mayest not do so, for they have seen the light of the Lord."
"Well, then, I will take it out of thine ears."
"This also thou mayest not do, for they have heard the word of Allah."
"I will take it from thy hands."
"How darest thou? Have they not borne the diamond tablets on which the Law was engraved?"
Allah then commanded the Angel of Death to ask of Ridwhan, the guardian of Paradise, an apple of Eden, and to present it to Moses.
Moses took the apple from the hand of the Angel of Death to inhale its fragrance, and at that instant his noble soul rose thrdugh his nostrils p. 170 to heaven. But his body remained in this grave, which no one knew save Gabriel, Michael, Israfil, and Azrail, who had dug it, and whom Moses had taken for men.
* "Here the Mussulman legend differs from the Talmud, according to which Bileam gave this counsel. Job was silent; and Jethro, the king's third counselor, endeavored to dissuade the king from violence. Bileam was therefore destroyed by the Israelites. Job was led into temptation, and suffered greatly for his silence; but Jethro, who, on account of his clemency, was forced to flee into Midian, was rewarded by becoming the father-in-law of Moses."—Midrash, p. 52.
† "In the year 130 after the settlement of the Israelites in Egypt, Pharaoh dreamed of an aged man who was holding a balance in his right hand. In one of its scales he placed all the sages and nobles of Egypt, and a little lamb in the other; and it outweighed them all.
"Pharaoh was amazed at the weight of the lamb, and told his dream on the following morning to his attendants. They were terrified; and one of them said, 'This dream forepodes a great affliction which one of the children of Israel will bring upon Egypt. If it please the king, let us issue a royal edict, commanding every male child of Hebrew parents to be slain at its birth.' The king did as he was advised."—Miarash, p. 51.
* On these words, "And she saw that the child was fair," the Midrash offers the following reflection: "The learned maintain that at the birth of Moses there appeared a light which shone over the whole world, for in the account of the creation we have the same phrase: 'The Lord saw the light that it was good.'"
It is somewhat difiicult to apprehend the precise point of the Rabbis. At the creation of the light it is said GOD saw the light that it was good. The subject of which it was predicated that it was good, then shone over the whole world. Hence it is argued, that, as the same predicate is applied to Moses's face, it must follow that it shone with similar brightness. This is no bad specimen of Rabbinical logic.—E. T.
* The daughter of Pharaoh went to the river for she was a leper, p. 123 and not permitted to use warm baths; but she was healed as soon as she stretched out her hand to the crying infant, whose life she preserved. She said within herself, "He will live to be a man; and whoever preserves a life is like the savior of a world." For this cause also she obtained the blessings of the life to come.—Midrash, p. 51.
* From these words, his sister said to the daughters of Pharaoh, "Shall I call a Hebrew nurse?" We may conclude that they had taken him (Moses) to all the Egyptian women, but that he refused to receive food from them, for he thought, "Shall the lips which are destined to speak with the Shekinah touch that which is unclean?"—Midrash, p. 51.
* In the third year after the birth of Moses, Pharaoh was sitting on his throne, the queen was at his right hand, his daughter holding Moses at his left, and the princes of Egypt were round a table before him. Moses stretched out his hand, took the king's crown, and placed it on his own head. The courtiers were terrified; and Bileam the magician said, "Remember, O king! thy dreams, and their interpretations: this child is doubtless of the Hebrews, who worship GOD in their hearts; and he has, by a movement of his precocious wisdom, laid hold on the government of Egypt. (Here follow examples from Abraham to Joseph, showing the ambition of the Hebrews to usurp the Egyptian throne.) If it please the king, let us shed this child's blood before he be strong enough to destroy thy kingdom." But the Lord sent an angel in the form of an Egyptian prince, who said, "If it please the king, let two bowls, the one filled with Shoham stones the other with burning coals, be presented to the child," &c.—Midrash, p. 52.
* The Jewish legend accounts from this occurrence for the words of Moses in Exodus, chap. iv., ver. 10: "O my Lord! I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken to thy servant; but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue."—E. T.
* According to the Jewish legend, there intervened many years between the flight of Moses from Egypt and his arrival in Midian: these years, they say, he spent in Ethiopia, where Bilaam had gone before him; and while the king of that country made war against Syria and other nations, he (Bilaam) treacherously seized on the capital, fortifying it with ditches and walls on three sides, and guarding the fourth by venomous serpents. The king returned, and had laid siege to this city during nine years without succeeding in capturing it, when Moses arrived in his camp. He advised him to take all the storks' eggs from the neighboring forests, to rear the young, and having withheld their food from them for some days, to send them against the serpents. The king did so; the storks destroyed the serpents, and the city was taken; but Bilaam escaped through an opposite gate, and again excited Pharaoh against the people of Israel. The Ethiopians made Moses their first vizier, and afterward their king, giving to him the deceased king's widow in marriage. But as she was an idolater, he refused to treat her as his wife, nor did he participate in the religious observances of the people: the queen therefore accused him publicly, and proposed her own son to reign in his stead; but Moses fled to Midian; and Jethro, fearing the Ethiopians, imprisoned him during ten years without giving him any food; but Zipora secretly supplied him with bread and water, &c.
* The rod of Moses was created on the sixth day, and given to Adam while yet in Paradise: he left it to Enoch, and he gave it to Shem; from him it descended to Isaac and Jacob. The latter took it with him into Egypt, and before his death presented it to Joseph. When he died it was taken, with the rest of his goods, to Pharaoh's house, where Jethro, being one of the king's magicians, saw it; and taking it with him to Midian, he planted it in his garden, where no one was able to approach it until the arrival of Moses. He read the mysterious words written upon the staff, and took it without difficulty from the ground. Jethro, who saw this, exclaimed, "This is the man who shall deliver Israel!" and gave him his daughter Zipora. With this staff Moses kept Jethro's flock during forty years, without being attacked by wild beasts and without losing any from his fold.—Midrash, p. 53.
* Rabbi Meier gays, "Pharaoh's palace had 400 gates, 100 on each side; and before each gate stood 60,000 tried warriors." It was therefore necessary for Gabriel to introduce Moses and Aaron by another way. On seeing them, Pharaoh said, "Who has admitted them?" He summoned the guards, and commanded some of them to be beaten, and others to be slain. But as Moses and Aaron returned the next day again, the guards, when called in, said, "These men are sorcerers, for they certainly have not come in through the gates." On the same page it is said, "Before the gate of the royal palace were two lionesses, which did not suffer any one to pass through without the express command of Pharaoh, and they would have rushed upon Moses; but he raised his staff, p. 138 their chains fell off, and they followed him joyfully into the palace, as a dog follows his master after a long separation," &c. And again, "The 400 gates of the palace were guarded by bears, lions, and other ferocious beasts, who suffered no one to pass unless they fed them with flesh. But when Moses and Aaron came, they gathered about them, and licked the feet of the prophets, accompanying them to Pharaoh."—Midrash, p. 44, 45.
* "All the water kept in vessels was changed into blood; even the spittle in the mouth of the Egyptians; for it is written, 'there was blood, throughout the land of Egypt.' Rabbi Levi informs us that this plague enriched the Jews; for if a Jew and an Egyptian lived together in the same house, and the Egyptian went to draw water, it was changed into blood; but if the Jew went it remained pure. Drinking out of the same vessel, the Jew obtained water, and the other blood; but if the latter bought it of a Jew, it remained pure."—Midrash, p. 66.
† This Omar was the eighth caliph of the house of Omarides. p. 147 He ascended the throne in the 99th year of the Hegira, and was previously governor of Egypt.
* According to the Rabbinical legends, Samael (Satan) rushed into the calf, and groaned so loudly that the Israelites believed it living. The Rabbis also maintained that it was not Aaron, but some other person (some say Micah), who made the calf.—Vide Seiger, p. 167.
* It is well known that the Mussulmans keep a yearly fast, which lasts from sunrise to sunset for a whole month. And they even exceed the Jews in strictness, for they not only take neither meat nor drink, but also abstain from smoking during the fast. As their year is lunar, the month of Ramadhan falls at every season of the year.
* This legend is evidently of Jewish origin. It is related respecting Moses, that while on Mount Sinai, the Lord instructed him in the mysteries of his providence. Moses having complained of the impunity of vice and its success in this world, and the frequent sufferings of the innocent, the Lord took him to a rock which projected from the mountain, and where he could overlook the vast plain of the desert stretching at his feet.
On one of its oases he beheld a young Arab asleep. He awoke, and, leaving behind him a bag of pearls, he sprung into his saddle, and rapidly disappeared from the horizon. Another Arab came to the oasis: he discovered the pearls, took them, and vanished in the opposite direction.
Now an aged wanderer, leaning on his staff, bent his weary steps toward the shady spot: he laid himself down, and fell asleep. But scarcely had he closed his eyes, when he was rudely roused from his slumber; the young Arab had returned, and demanded his pearls. The hoary man replied, he had not taken them. The other grew enraged, and accused him of theft. He swore that he had not seen his treasure; but the other seized him; a scuffle ensued; the young Arab drew his sword, and plunged it into the breast of the aged man, who fell lifeless on the earth.
"O Lord, is this justice?" exclaimed Moses, with terror. "Be silent! Behold, this man, whose blood is now mingling with the waters of the desert, many years ago, secretly, on the same spot, murdered the father of the youth who has now slain him. His crime remained concealed from men, but vengeance is mine: I will repay!"
The reader must be struck with the similarity of these fictions and the beautiful poem on the same subject by Barnell, who, if unacquainted with the Arabic legend, may have read the one have related in Schiller's "Sendung Moses."—E. T.
* The Midrash says, "Korah had 300 white mules, which carried the keys of his treasuries. His wealth was his ruin!"
* In perfect accordance with the Midrash. p. 255.