[NEW YORK, 1863]
THE Israelites lived under Joshua (who was, however, not a prophet, but merely
a virtuous prince and valiant chief) conformably to the laws revealed by Moses;
the Lord therefore enabled them to expel the giants from the land of Canaan, and
at their cry, "Allah is great," the loftiest walls of fortified cities fell in.
But after Joshua's death they relapsed into all those iniquities on account
of which the Egyptians had been so severely punished; wherefore Allah, in order
to chastise and to reclaim his people, sent the giant Djalut (Goliath) against
them, who defeated them in numerous engagements, and even took from them the Tabut
(the sacred ark of the Covenant), so that the protection of Allah entirely departed
One day, when the heads of the people were assembled to consult in what manner
the mighty Goliath might be resisted, there came a man to them of the family of
Aaron: his name was Ishmawil Ibn Bal (Samuel), and said, "The God of your fathers
sent me to you, to proclaim speedy help if you will turn to him, but utter destruction
if you continue in your wicked courses."
"What shall we do," inquired one of the elders, "to obtain the favor of Allah?"
Samuel replied, "You shall worship Allah alone, and offer no sacrifices unto
idols; nor eat that which has died of itself, nor swine's flesh, nor blood, nor
any thing that has not been slaughtered in the name of Allah. Assist each other
in doing good, honor your parents, treat your wives with kindness, support the
widow, the orphan, and the poor. Believe in the prophets that have gone before
me, especially in Abraham, for whom Allah turned the burning pile into a garden
of delight; in Ismael, whose neck he rendered invulnerable, and for whoon he caused
a fountain to spring up in the stony desert; and in Moses, who opened with his
rod twelve dry paths through the sea.
"Believe, in like manner, in the prophets that shall come after me; above all,
in Isa Ibn Mariam, the spirit of Allah (Christ), and in Mohammed Ibn Abd Allah."
"Who is Isa?" inquired one of the heads of Israel.
"He is the prophet," replied Samuel, "whom the Scriptures point out as the
Word of Allah. His mother shall conceive him as a virgin by the will of the Lord
and the breath of the angel Gabriel. Even in the womb he shall praise the omnipotence
of Allah, and testify to the purity of his mother; but at a later period he shall
heal the sick and leprous, raise the dead, and create living birds out of clay.
His godless contemporaries will afflict and attempt to crucify him; but Allah
shall blind them, so that another shall be crucified in his stead, while he, like
the prophet Enoch, is taken up into heaven without tasting death."
"And Mohammed, who is he?" continued the same Israelite; "his name sounds so
strangely that I do not remember ever having heard it in Israel."
"Mohammed," Samuel replied, "does not belong to our people, but is a descendant
of Ismael, and the last and greatest prophet, to whom even Moses and Christ shall
bow down in the day of the resurrection.
"His name, which signifies the 'Much-praised-One,' indicates of itself the
many excellences for which he is blessed by all creatures both in heaven and on
"But the wonders which he shall perform are so numerous that a whole human
life would not suffice to narrate them. I shall content myself, therefore, with
communicating to you but a part of what he shall see in one single night.1
"In a frightfully tempestuous night, when the cock refrains from crowing, and
the hound from baying, he shall be roused from his sleep by Gabriel, who frequently
appears to him in human form; but who on this occasion comes as Allah created
him, with his seven hundred radiant wings, between each of which is a space which
the fleetest steed can scarcely traverse in five hundred years.
"He shall lead him forth to a spot where Borak, the miraculous horse, the same
which Abraham used to mount on his pilgrimages from Syria to Mecca, stands ready
to receive him.
"This horse also has two wings like an eagle, feet like a dromedary; a body
of diamonds, which shines like the sun, and a head like the most beautiful virgin.
"On this miraculous steed, on whose forehead is engraved 'There is no Lord
but Allah, and Mohammed is his messenger,' he is carried first to Medina, then
to Sinai, to Bethlehem, and to Jerusalem, that he may pray on holy ground. From
thence he ascends by a golden ladder, whose steps are of ruby, of emerald, and
hyacinth, into the seventh heaven, where he is initiated in all the mysteries
of creation, and the government of the universe.
"He beholds the pious amid all their felicities in Paradise, and sinners in
their varied agonies in hell. Many of them are roaming there like ravenous beasts
through barren fields; they are those who in this life enjoyed the bounties of
Allah, and gave nothing thereof to the poor.
"Others run to and fro, carrying fresh meat in one hand, and corroded flesh
in the other; but as often as they would put the former into their mouths, their
hands are struck with fiery rods until they partake of the putrefied morsel. This
is the punishment of those who broke their marriage vow, and found pleasure in
"The bodies of others are terribly swollen, and are still increasing in bulk:
they are such as have grown rich by usury, and whose avarice was insatiable.
"The tongues and lips of others are seized and pinched with iron pincers, as
the punishment of their calumnious and rebellious speeches, by which they caused
so much evil in the earth.
"Midway between Paradise and hell is seated Adam, the father of the human race,
who smiles with joy as often as the gates of Paradise are thrown open, and the
triumphant cries of the blessed are borne forth, but weeps when the gates of hell
are unclosed, and the sighs of the damned penetrate to his ear.
"In that night Mohammed beholds, besides Gabriel, other angels, many of whom
have seventy thousand heads, each head with seventy thousand faces, each face
with seventy thousand mouths, and each mouth with seventy thousand tongues, each
of which praises Allah in seventy thousand languages. He sees, too, the Angel
of Reconciliation, who is half fire and half ice: the angel who watches with scowling
visage and flaming eyes the treasuries of fire: the Angel of Death, holding in
his hand a huge tablet, inscribed with names, of which he effaces hundreds every
instant: the angel who keeps the floods, and measures out with an immense balance
the waters appointed unto every river and every fountain; and him, finally, who
supports the throne of Allah on his shoulders, and is holding a trumpet in his
mouth, whose blast shall one day wake the sleepers from the grave.
"He is at last conducted through many oceans of light, into the vicinity of
the holy throne itself, which is so vast, that the rest of the universe appears
by its side like the scales of a coat of armor in the boundless desert.
"That which shall be revealed to him there," continued Samuel, "is as yet concealed
from me; but this I know: He shall gaze on the glory of Allah at the distance
of a bow-shot; shall then descend to earth by the ladder, and return on Borak
to Mecca as rapidly as he came.
"To accomplish this vast journey, including his stay in Medina, Bethlehem,
Jerusalem, and in heaven, he requires so little time, that a water vase, which
he overturns in rising from his couch, will not have emptied its contents at his
The assembled Israelites listened attentively to Samuel, and when he had finished,
they exclaimed with one voice, "We believe in Allah, and in his prophets which
were and are to come; only pray that He may deliver us from the tyranny of Goliath."
Samuel prayed and fasted till at length Allah sent an angel, who commanded
him to go out of the city, and to proclaim the first man who should meet him king
over Israel, since in his reign the Israelites should regain their independence
from foreign bondage.
Samuel did as he was commanded, and met Talut [Saul], the son of Bishr, the
son of Ahnun, the son of Benjamin, who was a husbandman of lofty stature, but
nat otherwise remarkable, though Allah had put much wisdom into his heart.
He was wandering about in search of a heifer which had broken away from her
plough and run at large. Samuel assisted him in her recovery, and then took Saul
home with him, anointed him with oil, and presented him to the heads of Israel
as their king and divinely-commissioned deliverer.
But they refused to accept as their king a common peasant, who hitherto had
not distinguished himself in any wise; and they demanded a miracle.
"Allah," replied Samuel, "will, in token of his ratifying this kingly election,
restore to you the ark of the covenant."
From that day the Philistines were visited with the most painful and disgusting
leprosy, whose origin no physician could discover, and which no physician could
cure. But as the plague fell most heavily on that city where the ark of the covenant,
which had been carried in triumph from one place to another, happened to be, no
one would retain it any longer, and it was at last left standing in a wagon in
the open field.
Allah then commanded two invisible angels to carry it back into the midst of
the camp of Israel, who thereupon no longer hesitated to do fealty unto Saul as
As soon as he was elected, Saul mustered the host of Israel, and marched against
the Philistines at the head of seventy thousand men.
During their march through the wilderness, they were one day in want of water,
so that a universal murmuring arose against Samuel and Saul. Samuel, who was following
after the ark of the covenant, prayed to the Lord, and there sprung from out the
rocky ground a fountain of water, which was as fresh as snow, as sweet as honey,
and as white as milk. But when the soldiers came rushing toward it. Samuel cried,
"You have grievously sinned against your king and against your God by reason of
discontent and rebellion. Forbear to touch this water, that by abstinence you
may atone for your sin!"
But Samuel's words met with no regard. Only three hundred and thirteen menas
many as fought in the first engagement of the Mussulmans against the Infidelsmastered
their appetite, barely refreshing themselves, while all the rest of the army yielded
to the teptation, and drank in full draughts from the fountain.
When Talut beheld this, he disbanded the whole army, and, relying on the aid
of Allah, marched against the enemy with the small number of his men who had conquered
Among this little band were six sons of a virtuous man whose name was Isa.
Davud [David], his seventh son, had remained at home to nurse his aged father.
But when, for a long time, no engagement took place between Israel and the
Philistines, since no one had accepted the challenge to single combat with Goliath,
by which a general battle was to be preceded, Isa sent also his seventh son into
the camp, partly to carry fresh provisions to his brothers, and partly to bring
him tidings of their welfare.
On his way he heard a voice from a pebble which lay in the midst of the road,
calling to him, "Lift me up, for I am one of the stones with which the prophet
Abraham drove Satan away when he would have shaken his resolve to sacrifice his
son in obedience to his heavenly vision."
David placed the stone, which was inscribed with holy names, in the bag which
he wore in his upper garment, for he was simply dressed like a traveler, and not
as a soldier.
When he had proceeded a little farther, he again heard a voice from another
pebble, crying, "Take me with thee, for I am the stone which the angel Gabriel
struck out from the ground with his foot when he caused a fountain to gush forth
in the wilderness for Ismael's sake."
David took this stone also, and laying it beside the first, went on his way.
But soon he heard the following words proceeding from a third stone: "Lift me
up, for I am the stone with which Jacob fought against the angels which his brother
Esau had sent out against him."
David took this stone likewise, and continued his journey without interruption
until he came to his brothers in the camp of Israel. On his arrival there, he
heard how a herald proclaimed, "Whoever puts the giant Goliath to death shall
become Saul's son-in-law, and succeed hereafter to his throne."
David sought to persuade his brothers to venture the combat with Goliath, not
to become the king's son-in-law and successor, but to wipe off the reproach that
rested on their people.
But, since courage and confidence failed them, he went to Saul, and offered
to accept the giant's challenge. The king had but little hopes indeed that a tender
youth, such as David then was, would defeat a warrior like Goliath; yet he permitted
the combat to take place, for he believed that even if he should fall, his reproachful
example would excite some others to imitate his heroic conduct.
On the following morning, when Goliath, as usual, challenged with proud speech
the warriors of Israel, David, in his traveling apparel, and with his bag containing
the three stones, stepped down into the arena. Goliath laughed aloud on seeing
his youthful antagonist, and said to him, "Rather hie thee home to play with lads
of thine own years. How wilt thou fight with me, seeing that thou art even unarmed?"
David replied, "Thou art as a dog unto me, whom one may best drive away with
a stone;" and before Goliath was yet able to draw his sword from its scabbard,
he took the three stones from his bag, pierced the giant with one of them so that
he instantly fell lifeless on the ground, and drove with the second the right
wing of the Philistines into flight, and their left wing with the third.
But Saul was jealous of David, whom all Israel extolled as their greatest hero,
and refused to give him his daughter until he brought the heads of a hundred giants
as the marriage gift. But the greater David's achievements were, the more rancorous
grew the envy of Saul, so that he even sought treacherously to slay him. David
defeated all his plans; but he never revenged himself, and Saul's hatred waxed
greater by reason of this very magnanimity.
One day he visited his daughter in David's absence, and threatened to put her
to death unless she gave him a promise, and confirmed it by the most sacred oaths,
that she would deliver her husband unto him during the night. When the latter
returned home, his wife met him in alarm, and related what had happened between
her and her father. David said to her, "Be faithful to thine oath, and open the
door of my chamber to thy father as soon as I shall be asleep. Allah will protect
me even in my sleep, and give me the means of rendering Saul's sword harmless,
even as Abraham's weapon was impotent against Ismael, who yielded his neck to
He then went into his forge, and prepared a coat of mail, which covered the
whole upper part of his body from his neck downward. This coat was as fine as
a hair, and, clinging to him like silk, resisted every kind of weapon; for David
had been endowed, as a special favor from Allah, with the power of melting iron
without fire, and of fashioning it like wax for every conceivable purpose, with
no instrument but his hand.
To him we are indebted for the ringed coat of mail, for up to his time armor
consisted of simple iron plates.
David was wrapped in the most peaceful slumber, when Saul, guided by his daughter,
entered his chamber; and it was not until his father-in-law haggled the impenetrable
mail with his sword as with a saw, bearing on it with all his strength, that David
awoke, tore the sword from his hand, and broke it in pieces as if it had been
a morsel of bread.
But after this occurrence, he thought it no longer advisable to tarry with
Saul, and therefore retired to the mountains, with a few of his friends and adherents.
Saul made use of this pretext to have him suspected of the people, and at last,
accusing him of treason, marched against him at the head of one thousand soldiers.
But David was so endeared to the inhabitants of the mountain, and knew its hiding-places
so well, that it was impossible for Saul to take him.
One night, while Saul was asleep, David left a cave which was quite near to
the king's encampment, and took the signet ring from his finger, together with
his arms and a standard which were lying by his side. He then retreated through
the cave, which had a double entrance, and the next morning appeared on the pinnacle
of a mountain which stood opposite to the camp of the Israelites, having girt
on Saul's huge sword, and waving his standard up and down, and stretching out
his finger on which he had placed the king's ring.
Saul, who could not understand how a thief could have penetrated into the midst
of his well guarded camp, recognized David and the articles which had been taken
from him. This new proof of his dexterity and magnanimous disposition overcame
at last the king's envy and displeasure; he therefore dispatched a messenger,
who in the royal name begged forgiveness for all the grievances he had inflicted,
and invited David to return to his home.
David was overjoyed at a reconciliation with his father-in-law, and they now
lived together in peace and harmony until Saul was slain, in a disastrous engagement
with the Philistines.
After Saul's death David was unanimously elected King of Israel, and by the
help of Allah he soon reconquered the Philistines, and extended the boundaries
of his kingdom far and wide.
But David was not only a brave warrior and a wise king, but likewise a great
prophet. Allah revealed to him seventy psalms, and endowed him with a voice such
as no mortal possessed before him. In height and depth, in power and melody combined,
no human voice had ever equaled it. He could imitate the thunders of heaven and
the roar of the lion as well as the delicious notes of the nightingale; nor was
there any other musician or singer in Israel as long as David lived, because no
one who had once heard him could take pleasure in any other performance. Every
third day he prayed with the congregation, and sung the psalms in a chapel which
was hewn out of the mountain rocks. Then not only all men assembled to hear him,
but even beasts and birds came from afar, attracted by his wonderful song.
One day, as he was on his return from prayer, he heard two of his subjects
contending which of the two was the greater prophet, Abraham or himself. "Was
not Abraham," said the one, "saved from the burning pile?" "Has not David," replied
the other, "slain the giant Djalut?" "But what has David achieved," resumed the
first, "that might be compared with Abraham's readiness to sacrifice his son?"
As soon as David came home, he fell down before Allah and prayed: "Lord, who
hast proved on the pile Abraham's fidelity and obdience, grant unto me too an
opportunity show unto my people that my love to thee withstands every temptation."
David's prayer was heard: when, three days afterward, he ascended his pulpit,
he perceived a bird of such beautiful plumage that it attracted his whole attention,
and he followed it with his eyes to every corner of the chapel, and to the trees
and shrubs beyond. He sung fewer psalms than he was wont to do; his voice failed
him as often as he lost sight of this graceful bird, and grew soft and playful
in the most solemn parts of the worship whenever it reappeared.
At the close of the prayers, which, to the astonishment of the whole assembly,
were concluded on this occasion several hours sooner than usual, he followed the
bird, which flew from tree to tree, until he found himself, at sunset, on the
margin of a little lake. The bird disappered in the lake, but David soon forgot
it; for in its stead there rose up a female form, whose beauty dazzled him like
the clearest midday sun. He inquired her name: it was Saja, the daughter of Josu,
the wife of Uriah Ibn Haman, who was with the army. David departed, and on his
return commanded the chief of his troops to appoint Uriah to the most dangerous
post in the vanguard of the army. His command was executed, and soon afterward
the death of Uriah was reported. David then wooed his widow, and married her at
the expiration of the prescribed time.
On the day after his marriage, there appeared, at Allah's command, Gabriel
and Michael in human form before David, and Gabriel said, "The man whom thou seest
here before thee is the owner of ninety-nine sheep, while I possess an only one;
nevertheless, he pursues me without ceasing, and demands that I should give up
my only sheep to him."
"Thy demand is unreasonable," said David, "and betrays an unbelieving heart
and a rude disposition."
But Gabriel interrupted him, saying, "Many a noble and accomplished believer
permits himself more unjust things than this."
David now perceived this to be an allusion to his conduct toward Uriah; and,
filled with wrath, he grasped his sword, 2 and would have plunged
it into Gabriel; but Michael gave a loud laugh of scorn; and when Gabriel and
himself had ascended above David's head on their angels' wings, he said to David,
"Thou hast pronounced thine own sentence, and called thine act that of a barbarous
infidel: Allah will therefore bestow upon thy son a portion of the power which
he had originally intended for thee. Thy guilt is so much the greater, since thou
prayedst that thou mightst be led into temptation without having the power of
At these words the angels vanished through the ceiling; but David felt the
whole burden of his sin. He tore the crown from his head, and the royal purple
from his body, and wandered through the wilderness wrapped in simple woolen garments,
and pining with remorse, weeping so bitterly that his skin fell from his face,
and that the angels in heaven had compassion on him, and implored for him the
mercy of Allah. But it was not until he had spent three full years in penitence
and contrition that he heard a voice from heaven, which announced to him that
the All-compassionate Allah had at length opened the gate of mercy. Pacified and
strengthened by these words of consolation, David soon recovered his physical
powers and his blooming appearance, so that on his return to Palestine no one
observed in him the slightest change.
But, during the king's long absence, many of the rabble, whom he had banished,
gathered round his son Absalom, and made him king over Israel. He was therefore
compelled, as Absalom would not renounce the throne, to make war against him.
But no engagement took place; for when the prince was about to join his forces,
Allah commanded the Angel of Death to take him from his horse and hang him on
a tree by his long hair, that to all future time rebellious sons might take warning
by his fate.
Absalom remained hanging there until one of David's chieftains passed by and
slew him with the sword. But, although David soon came to be esteemed and beloved
by his people as before, yet, mindful of what had taken place with the two angels,
he ventured not again to execute judgment. He had already nominated a kadhi, who
was to adjust in his stead all disputes that might arise, when the angel Gabriel
brought him an iron tube with a bell, and said, "Allah has beheld thy diffidence
with pleasure, and therefore sends thee this tube and bell, by means of which
it will be easy for thee to maintain the law in Israel, and never to pronounce
an unjust sentence.
Suspend this tube in thy hall of judgment, and hang the bell in the midst thereof:
place the accuser on one side of it, and the accused on the other, and always
pronounce judgment in favor of him who, on touching the tube, elicits a sound
from the bell." David was greatly delighted at this gift, by means of which he
who was in the right was sure to triumph, so that soon no one dared to commit
any injustice, since he was certain to be detected by the bell.
One day, however, there came two men before the judgment seat, one of whom
maintained that he had given a pearl into the keeping of the other, who now refused
to restore it. The defendant, on the other hand, swore that he had already given
it back. As usual, David compelled them both, one after the other, to touch the
tube; but the bell uttered no sound, so that he did not know which of the two
spake truth, and was inclined to doubt the farther virtue of the bell. But when
he had repeatedly directed both to touch the tube, he observed that as often as
the accused was to pass the ordeal, he gave his staff to be holden by his antagonist.
David now took the staff in his own hand, and sent the accused once more to
touch the tube, when instantly the bell began to ring aloud. David then caused
the staff to be inspected, and behold, it was hollow, and the pearl in question
was concealed within it. But on account of his thus doubting the value of the
tube which Allah had given him, it was again removed to beaven, so that David
frequently erred in his decisions, until Solomon, whom his wife Saja, the daughter
of Josu, had borne him, aided him with his counsel. In him David placed implicit
confidence, and was guided by him in the most difficult questions, for he had
heard in the night of his birth the angel Gabriel exclaim, "Satan's dominion is
drawing to its close, for this night a child is born, to whom Iblis and all his
hosts, together with all his descendants, shall be subject. The earth, air, and
water, with all the creatures that live therein, shall be his servants: he shall
be gifted with nine tenths of all the wisdom and knowledge which Allah has granted
unto mankind, and understand not only all the languages of men, but those also
of beasts and of birds.
One daySolomon was then scarcely thirteen years of agethere appeared two
men before the tribunal, the novelty of whose case cited the astonishment of all
present, and even greatly confounded David. The accuser had bought some property
of the other, and in clearing out a cellar, had found a treasure. He now demanded
that the aceused should give up the treasure, since he had bought the property
without it; while the other maintained that the accuser possessed no right to
the treasure, since he had known nothing of it, and had sold the property with
all that it contained. After long meditation, David adjudged that the treasure
should be divided between them. But Solomon inquired of the accuser whether he
had a son, and when he replied that he had a son, he inquired of the other if
he had a daughter, and he also answering in the affirmative, Solomon said, "If
you will adjust your strife so as not to do injustice one to the other, unite
your children in marriage, and give them this treasure as their dowry."
On another occasion, there came a husbandman and accused a shepherd whose flock
had pastured on the grain of his field. David sentenced the shepherd to give part
of his flock in restitution to the husbandman; but Solomon disapproved of this
judgment, and said, "Let the shepherd give up to the husbandman the use of his
flock, their work, their milk, and their young ones, until the field shall be
restored to the condition in which it was at the time of the flock's breaking
in, when the sheep shall once more return to their owner."
David, however, one day observed that the high tribunal over which he presided
beheld with displeasure the interference of Solomon in their transactions, although
they were obliged to confess that his views were always better than their own.
The king therefore demanded of them to examine Solomon, in the face of all the
great and noble men of his kingdom, in all the doctrines and laws of Moses. "If
you have satisfied yourselves," he added, "that my son knows these perfectly,
and consequently never pronounces an unjust judgment, you must not slight him
by reason of his youth, if his views regarding the application of the law often
differ from mine and yours. Allah bestows wisdom on whomsoever he pleaseth."
The lawyers were indeed persuaded of Solomon's erudition; nevertheless, hoping
to confound him by all manner of subtle questions, and thus to increase their
own importance, they accepted David's proposal, and made arrangements for a public
examination. But their expectations were disappointed; for, before the last word
of any question put to Solomon was yet pronounced, he had already given a striking
answer, so that all present firmly believed that the whole matter had been arranged
beforehand with his judges, and that this examination was instituted by David
merely to recommend Solomon as his worthy successor to the throne.
But Solomon at once effaced this suspicion, when, at the close of this examination
he arose, and said to his judges, "You have exhausted yourselves in subtleties
in the hope of manifesting your superiority over me before this great assembly;
permit me now, also, to put to you a very few simple questions, the solution of
which needs no manner of study, but only a little intellect and understanding.
Tell me what is Every thing, and what is Nothing. Who is Something, and who is
less than Nothing?" Solomon waited long; and when the judge whom he had addressed
was not able to answer, he said, "Allah, the Creator, is Every thing, but the
world, the creature, is Nothing. The believer is Something, but the hypocrite
is less than Nothing."
Turning to another, Solomon inquired, "Which are the most in number, and which
the fewest? What is sweetest, and what most bitter?" but as the second judge also
was unable to find a proper answer to these questions, Solomon said, "The most
numerous are the doubters, and they who possess a perfect assurance of faith are
the fewest in number. The sweetest is the possession of a virtuous wife, excellent
children, and a respectable competency; but a wicked wife, undutiful children,
and poverty are the most bitter." Finally, Solomon put the following questions
to a third judge: "Which is the vilest, and which the most beautiful? What the
most certain, and what the least so?" But these questions also remained unanswered,
until Solomon said, "The vilest thing is when a believer apostatizes, and the
most beautiful when a sinner repents. The most certain thing is Death and the
Last Judgment, and the most uncertain, Life and the Fate of the Soul after the
resurrection. You perceive," he then continued, "it is not the oldest and most
learned that are always the wisest. True wisdom is neither of years nor of learned
books, but only of Allah, the All-wise."
Solomon excited by his words the greatest astonishment in all that were present;
and the heads of the people exclaimed with one voice, "Blessed be the Lord, who
has given to our king a son who in wisdom surpasses all the men of his time, and
who is worthy one day to sit on the throne of his father!"
David, in like manner, thanked Allah for the grace which he had shown to him
in Solomon, and now only desired, before his death, to meet with his future companion
"Thy request is granted!" cried a voice from heaven; "but thou must go and
seek him alone; and, in order to reach his presence, thou must renounce thy earthly
pomp, and wander as a poor pilgrim through the world."
The next day David nominated Solomon as his representative, laid aside his
royal robes, wrapped himself round with a simple woolen garment, put on his sandals,
took a staff in his hand, and left his palace. He now wandered from city to city,
and from village to village, inquiring every where for such of the inhabitants
as were most distinguished for piety, and endeavoring to make their acquaintance;
but for many weeks he found no one whom he had reason to consider as his destined
companion in the life to come.
One day, on reaching a village on the shores of the Mediterranean Ocean, there
arrived at the same time with him a poorly-clad aged man, who was carrying a heavy
burden of wood on his head. The appearance of the hoary man was so venerable,
that David followed him to see where he lived. But he entered into no house at
all, and sold his wood to a merchant who stood at the door of his warehouse, then
gave to a poor man who begged him for alms the half of the little money which
he had earned, bought with the rest a small loaf of bread, of which also he gave
a large portion to a blind woman, who implored the compassion of the faithful,
and then returned on his way to the mountain from whence he had come.
"This man," thought David, "might well be my companion in Paradise; for his
venerable appearance, and his actions which I have just witnessed, testify to
a rare piety. I must therefore seek to become better acquainted with him." He
then followed the aged man at some distance, until, after a march of several hours
over steep mountains, crossed by deep ravines, the latter entered into a cave,
which admitted the light of heaven through a crevice of the rock. David remained
standing at the entrance of the cave, and heard how the hermit prayed fervently,
and then read the Law and the psalms, until the sun had set. He then lighted a
lamp, and pronounced the evening prayer, drew from his bag the bread which he
had bought, and consumed about half thereof.
David, who had hitherto not ventured to disturb the man in his devotions, now
stepped into the cave and greeted him.
"Who art thou?" said the other, after having it returned the salutation; "for,
save the GOD
-fearing Mata Ibn Juhanna, King David's future companion in Paradise, I never
saw any human being in these regions."
David gave his name, and begged for farther particulars respecting Mata.
But the hermit replied, "I am not permitted to point out to thee his dwelling;
but if thou searchest this mountain with attention, it can not escape thee."
David now wandered up and down for a long time without finding any traces of
Mata. He was on the point of returning to the hermit, in hopes of obtaining better
directions, when, on an eminence, in the midst of the rocky ground, he discovered
a spot which was quite moist and soft. "How singular," thought he, "that just
here, on this pinnacle of a mountain, the ground should thus be moistened! Surely
there can be no fountain here!" While he was thus standing absorbed in thought
respecting this remarkable phenomenon, there descended on the other side of the
mountain a man who was more like an angel than a human being; his looks were cast
down to the earth, so that he did not observe David; but on the moistened spot
he stood still, and prayed with such fervency that his tears gushed like streams
from his eyes.
David now understood how it came to pass that the earth was so soaked, and
thought, "A man who thus worships his God may well be my companion in Paradise."
But he presumed not to address him till he heard how, among other things, he prayed.
"My God, pardon the sin of King David, and preserve him from farther transgression!
Be merciful to him for my sake, since thou hast destined me to be his companion
David now went toward him, but on reaching his presence he was dead.
He dug up the soft earth with his staff, washed him with the water that remained
in his bottle, buried him, and pronounced over him the prayer of death. He then
returned to his capital, and found in his harem the Angel of Death, who received
him with the words, "Allah has granted unto thee thy request, but now thy life
"God's will be done!" replied David, and fell lifeless to the earth.
Gabriel then descended to comfort Solomon, and to bring him a heavenly robe,
in which he was to wrap his father. All Israel followed his remains to the entrance
of the cave where Abraham lies buried.
1 The following narrative, which Samuel is made to utter,
describes the Night Journey of Mohammed. He revealed it to his followers in the
12th year of his mission; and though his Arabs were given to the marvellous, yet
this staggered even their credulity, and would have proved his utter ruin but
for the resolute interposition of Abu Bekr.2 The Scriptures teach that David acknowledged his sin
on Nathan's reproof. The whole narrative is so beautiful, that we subjoin it,
as given in 2 Sam., xii., 1-8, 13.
"And the Lord sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him,
There were two men in one city, the one rich, and the other poor. The rich man
had exceeding many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing save one little
ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up; and it grew up together with him,
and with his children: it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and
lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. And there came a traveler unto
the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress
for the wayfaring man that was come unto him, but took the poor man's lamb, and
dressed it for the man that was come to him.
And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan,
As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die; and he
shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had
no pity. And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the Lord God of
Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand
of Saul; and I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom,
and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little,
I would, moreover have given unto thee such and such things.
"And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord."
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