Chronicles of Jerahmeel, by M. Gaster , at sacred-texts.com
XXIX. (1) Now, it came to pass, when the inhabitants of the land were already spread abroad, that they gathered together and journeyed from the East, and arrived at a valley in the land of Babylon, where they stayed. Then each man said to his neighbour, 'Behold the time is coming when at the end of days man will be separated from his neighbour, and brother from brother, and there will be war
between us. Come, therefore, and let us build a city and a tower, the top of which is to reach heaven, and let us make for us a great name upon the earth.' (2) And each one said to his neighbour, 'Come, and let us make bricks, and let each one write his name upon his brick, and let us burn them, and each brick will be to us as a stone and the pitch for mortar.' Each one made his brick and wrote his name upon it, with the exception of twelve men, who did not wish to be with them. (3) These are the names of the men who were not in their counsel: Abram, Naḥor, Lot, Re‘u, Tinuto, Ṣeba, Almodad, Jobab, Eṣer, Abïmael, Sheba, and Ofir. The people of the land seized these, and, bringing them to their princes, said, 'These are the men who have transgressed the counsel we have advised, and they do not wish to tread in our paths.' (4) The princes then said to them, 'Why did you refuse to make bricks, the same as the other people of the land?' And they answered, 'We shall not make bricks nor remain with you, for we know but one God, and Him we serve; even if you burn us in the fire together with the bricks, we shall not walk in your ways.' (5) The princes were very wroth thereat, and said, 'As they have spoken, so shall we do; for unless they act as we do, you shall cast them in the fire together with the bricks.' (6) And Yoqtan, the head of the princes, answered and said, 'We shall not do this, but we will grant them seven days, and then, if they desire to make the bricks with us, they shall live; but if they refuse, they shall die by the fire.' For he sought to save them from their hands, as he was the head of the house of their fathers, notwithstanding that they served the Lord. So the people did, and placed the transgressors in the prison, in the house of Yoqtan. (7) And it came to pass in the evening that Yoqtan the prince called fifty men of valour, and commanded them, saying, 'Gird yourselves, and this very night take these men that are imprisoned in my house, place them upon ten (twelve) mules, and, providing both the men and the animals with food, bring them to the mountains, and there remain with them; but if you betray this thing to anyone, you shall
die by fire.' (8) The men accordingly went forth to do as they were commanded. In the night they took them and brought them before Yoqtan the prince. He said to them, 'Ye who remain steadfast in God, trust in Him for ever, for He shall deliver you and save you. Therefore behold I have commanded these fifty men to take you to the mountains with provender and food, and there do you conceal yourselves in the valleys, for in the valleys there is sufficient water, and stay there for thirty days, for by that time either the thoughts of the people will have passed from you, or the anger of the Lord will be kindled against them so that He shall destroy them, for I know that they will not abide by their wicked counsel which they devised, for their plan will be frustrated. (9) And at the end of the seven days, when they seek you, I will say to them, "They have broken the door of the prison and fled during the night, and I sent a hundred men to pursue and seek them: I shall do all this to appease their wrath."' And eleven men answered him, saying, 'Behold we have found favour in thine eyes, for thou hast delivered our lives from the hands of our enemies.' (10) Abram alone was silent, and Yoqtan the prince said to him, 'Why dost thou not answer together with thy friends?' And Abram replied, 'Behold to-day we flee to the mountains to escape from the fire; but if wild beasts rush out of the mountains and devour us, or if food is lacking so that we die by famine, we shall be found fleeing before the people of the land and dying by our sins. Now, as the Lord in whom I trust liveth, I shall not depart from this place, wherein they have imprisoned me, and if I am to die through any iniquity, then I shall die by the will of God according to His desire.' (11) 'Thy blood be upon thine own head,' said the prince, if thou wilt not flee with these men; for if thou wilt flee thou art sure to be saved.' Abram replied, 'I shall not flee, but remain.' He was accordingly put into prison again, and the prince sent the eleven men away in charge of fifty others, whom he commanded to remain with them for fifteen days, and to return and say, 'We have not been
able to find them.' 'If you do not do this I shall have you burnt to death.' (12) At the end of seven days all the people assembled and said to their princes, 'Give us the men who refused to abide by our counsel, and let us burn them in the fire.' They thereupon sent for them, but found only Abram. 'Where are those men who were bound in the prison of thy house?' asked the chiefs, Pinḥas and Nimrod. Yoqtan replied: 'They broke away in the middle of the night and escaped, and I have sent a hundred men after them to discover and to slay them.' And the people exclaimed, 'Since we have only found Abram, let us burn him in the fire.' (13) And they took Abram and brought him before the princes, who asked him, saying, 'Where are the men whom we imprisoned with thee?' 'I do not know, for I slept all the night, and when I awoke I did not find them.' So they made a brick-kiln, and heated it until the bricks in it glowed fiercely; they then placed Abram in the furnace of fire, and Yoqtan appeased the wrath of the people by the burning of Abram. (14) The Lord at that moment caused a great earthquake throughout the land, so that the fire leaped from the furnace and became a huge blaze, which devoured all the men that surrounded it, and the number of men burnt on that day was 84,500. But Abram was not burnt, and he came forth from the furnace of the Chaldees (i.e., the fire of the Chaldees), and, having escaped, he went to his friends upon the mountains and related all that had befallen him. They thereupon returned with him from the mountains, happy and rejoicing in the name of the Lord, nor did the people speak against them any longer. They thenceforward called the name of that place 'The God of Abraham.'