Jewish Fairy Tales and Legends, by Aunt Naomi (pseud. Gertrude Landa), , at sacred-texts.com
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Then the door slowly opened and a figure in white stood in the entry. (Page 286).
More than two thousand years ago there lived a king in the land of Macedon who was a great conqueror, and when his son, Alexander, was born, the soothsayers and the priestesses of the temples predicted that he would be a greater warrior than his father. Alexander was a wonderful boy, and his father, King Philip, was very proud of him when he tamed a spirited horse which nobody else could manage. The wisest philosophers of the day were Alexander's teachers, and when he was only sixteen years of age, Philip left him in charge of the country when he went to subdue Byzantium. Alexander was only twenty when he ascended the throne, but before then he had suppressed a rebellion and had proved himself possessed of exceptional daring and courage.
"I shall conquer the whole world," he said.
and although he only reigned thirteen years and died at the age of thirty-three, he accomplished his ambition. All the countries which were then known had to acknowledge his supremacy.
King Alexander was a drunkard and very cruel, but he treated the Jews kindly. When they heard he had been victorious over Darius, king of Persia, who was their ruler, and that he was marching on Jerusalem, they became seriously alarmed. Jadua, the high priest, however, counseled the people to welcome Alexander with great ceremony.
All the priests and the Levites donned their most gorgeous robes, the populace put on their holiday garb, and the streets of the city were gaily decorated with many colored banners and garlands of flowers. The night before Alexander arrived at the head of his army, a long procession was formed of the priests, the Levites, and the elders of the city, each carrying a lighted torch. At the gates of the city they awaited the approach of the mighty warrior.
In the early morning, before the sun had risen, Alexander made his appearance and was astonished at the magnificent spectacle which met his gaze. At the head of the procession' stood the high priest in his shining white robes,
with the jewels of the ephod glittering on his breast. To the surprise of his generals, Alexander descended from his horse and bowed low before the high priest.
"Like unto an angel dost thou appear to me," he said.
"Let thy coming bring peace," replied Jadua.
Parmenio, the chief of Alexander's generals, had promised the soldiers rich store of plunder in Jerusalem, and he approached the king and said:
"Wherefore do you honor this priest of the Jews above all men?"
"I will tell thee," answered Alexander. "In dreams have I often seen this dignified priest. Ever he bade me be of good courage and always did he predict victory for me. Shall I not then pay homage to my guardian angel?"
Turning to the priest, he said, "Lead me to your Temple that I may offer up thanksgiving to the God of my guardian angel."
It was now daylight, and the priests walked in procession before King Alexander past cheering multitudes of people. At the Temple the king removed his sandals, but the priests gave him a pair of jeweled slippers, fearing that he might slip on the pavement. The king was
pleased with all that he saw and desired that a statue of himself, or a portrait, should be placed in the holy building.
"That may not be," replied the high priest, "but in honor of thy visit all the boys born in Jerusalem this year shall be named Alexander."
"It is well," said the king, much pleased; "ask of me what you will, and if it be in my power I shall grant it."
"Mighty monarch," said Jadua, "we desire naught but to be permitted to serve our God according to our laws. Permit us to practice our religious observances free and unhindered. Grant also this privilege to the Jews who dwell in all thy dominions, and we shall ever pray for thy long life and triumph."
"It is but little that ye ask," replied the king, "and that little is easily granted."
The people cheered loudly when they heard the good news, and many Jews enrolled themselves in the army.
Alexander stayed some time in Jerusalem, and messengers arrived from Canaan to ask him to compel the Jews to restore them their land.
"It is written in the Books of Moses," they said, "that Canaan and its boundaries belong to the Canaanites."
Gebiah, a hunchback, undertook to answer.
"It is also written in the Books of Moses," he said, "'Cursed be Canaan; a servant shall he be unto his brethren.' The property of a slave belongs to his master, therefore Canaan is ours."
Alexander gave the envoys of Canaan three days in which to reply to this, but they fled from Jerusalem.
Messengers from Egypt came next, asking for the return of the gold and silver taken by the Israelites from the land of Pharaoh.
"What says Gebiah to this?" asked Alexander.
"We shall return the gold and silver," answered the hunchback, "when we have been paid for the many, many years of labor of our ancestors in Egypt."
"Truly a wise answer," said Alexander, and he gave the Egyptians three days to consider it. But they also fled.
When Alexander left Jerusalem he sought the advice of the wise men of Israel.
"I desire," he said, "to conquer the land beyond the Mountains of Darkness in Africa; it is also my wish to fly above the clouds and behold the heavens, and also to descend into the depths of the sea and gaze with mine own eyes on the monsters of the deep."
How to accomplish these things he was instructed by the wise men, but they warned him never to enter Babylon.
"For shouldst thou ever enter the city of Babylon," they said, "thou wilt assuredly die."
King Alexander thanked them for the advice and the warning, and set forth on his adventures.