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Folk-lore of the Holy Land, Moslem, Christian and Jewish, by J. E. Hanauer [1907], at



IN the early part of the eighteenth century the learned Rabbinnical writer Kolonimos was head of the small, and greatly oppressed Jewish community at Jerusalem.

One Sabbath day, the Rabbi was at his devotions at the Jews’ Wailing-place, when the "Shamash" or verger of the Synagogue came, breathless with haste and fear, to tell him that the town was in an uproar, and that the Mohammedans were threatening to exterminate the Jews, because a Moslem boy had been found slain in the Jewish Quarter. He had not finished his tale when a party of Moslems came up and began to beat the Rabbi, dragging him off towards the serai. The Pasha, at sight of him, pointed to the body of the murdered lad, which had also been brought before him, and sternly told the Rabbi that

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unless he could produce the actual murderer, all the Jews would be massacred.

The Rabbi said he could detect the guilty party, if pen and paper, together with a bowl of water were given to him. When this had been done, the Rabbi wrote on the paper the tetra-grammaton, or unpronounceable name of the Most High, together with certain passages from Scripture, and from Kabbalistic writings. He then washed the document in the water, 1 repeating certain magic formulæ all the time. The next thing he did was to apply the wet paper to the dead lad's lips and forehead, the result being that the murdered boy immediately sat up, and, after gazing about him for a moment, sprang to his feet, seized one of the by-standers by the throat, and exclaimed, "This man, and no other, is guilty of my blood." Then he sank to the floor, a corpse as before. The man, thus charged with the crime, a Mohammedan, confessed and was led away to punishment.

The Rabbi was at once released; but remembering how by writing and using magical arts he had not only profaned the Sabbath but also been guilty of a heinous sin, even though compelled thereto for the preservation of his flock, he spent the rest of his days doing penance. Nor was that enough. On his death-bed, he gave orders that he should not be buried honourably, but that his friends should take his body to the brow of the hill over-looking the Kedron, just opposite the traditional monument of Zechariah the prophet, and throw it down in the same

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way that the carcases of horses and asses are to this day cast down the same slope. Where it stopped rolling, there it might be buried; but no monument must be erected over the grave, and, for a century after his death, every Jew passing the spot must cast a stone on it, as was the custom in the case of malefactors. His friends carried out his instructions till the body was buried, but could not bear to leave his grave without some memorial. They therefore placed a great stone upon it, but the very next morning it was found broken and the same thing happened every time it was replaced. They saw that he would not be disobeyed. It thus became customary, as Kolonimos had desired that it should, for Jewish passers-by to cast a stone upon his grave; and also to repeat prayers there.

A few years ago an acquaintance of my own happened to be at the house of one of the principal Rabbis in Jerusalem, when a Mohammedan of very good repute came to ask the Rabbi for advice and help. He told how a certain Jew, whom he named, had come to his place of business an hour or so previously, when he was alone, for a few minutes. Soon afterwards he had missed a valuable ring that was lying on the desk in front of him when the Jew entered. No one had been in since. He could produce neither proof nor witness against the Jew in question, but felt sure he had taken the ring. Having questioned the Moslem straitly, the Rabbi saw that he spoke truth, and bade him wait while he sent for the culprit. The Jew came without knowing why he had been sent for. Before he had time to utter a

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word of salutation, the Rabbi addressed him in Hebrew, in tones of excited pleading, "I beg you, for the sake of all that is Holy, to deny that you know anything about the ring which this Gentile accuses you of having stolen!" "That," said the rascal, quite thrown off his guard, "that is exactly what I meant to do." "Very well," said the Rabbi sternly, "as you have virtually confessed before all these witnesses that you have the ring, hand it over to its owner immediately, and be thankful if he takes no steps to have you punished." The thief gave back the ring, and went unpunished.


During the Egyptian occupation of Palestine between 1831 and 1840, Ibrahìm Pasha, governor of the country, happened to be at Jaffa, when a certain goldsmith came to him, complaining his shop had been burgled in the night, and demanding justice in a high tone . "While we were under the shadow of the Sultan," he said, "I never lost a thing. But now, with you Egyptians who talk so much about good government, in the first month I lose half my substance. It is a shame to you and a great loss to me; and I think that you owe me compensation, for your own honour."

"Very well, I take the responsibility," said Ibrahìm in some amusement. He then sent a crier through the streets calling upon all who loved strange sights to be at the goldsmith's shop at a certain hour next day, with the result that when that hour arrived, the street in front of the shop was packed with people. Then Ibrahìm appeared, attended by

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his officers and the public executioner. He first harangued the people on the virtue of trustworthiness, saying that the Egyptian Government was determined to administer the strictest justice, and to punish, without partiality, the slightest breach of trust, even though committed by a senseless and inanimate object. Then, turning to the door of the shop: "Even this door," he said, "shall be punished for failing in its duty, which is to keep out thieves, unless it tell me who it was that passed it the night before last, and stole things out of the shop." The door giving no answer, he bade the executioner, administer one hundred lashes with his kurbâj. 1

When the punishment was ended, he again exhorted the door to speak, saying that, if it feared to utter the name aloud, it could whisper in his ear. He gave his ear to the door, as one listening, then sprang erect and laughed in scorn: "This door talks nonsense. Executioner, another hundred lashes!"

After this second beating, he listened again to hear what the door had to say, while the people murmured and shrugged shoulders one to another, thinking him mad.

"The same stupid tale!" he cried despairingly. "It will persist in telling me that the thief is present in this crowd of honest people, and still has some dust and cobwebs from the shop on his tarbûsh." At that a man was noticed hurriedly to brush his fez, and the Pasha, on the watch for some such action, had him arrested. He proved to be the guilty party, and was punished.

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Another story of the kind is told of Ibrahìm Pasha. They say that, while in Jerusalem, he encouraged the fellahìn of the country to bring their produce to t city, assuring them that his soldiers would e punished if they hurt them or took anything fr m them without payment. One day, a woman from Silwân, with a basket of jars filled with leben, 1 came and complained of a soldier having seized one of her jars and drunk off the contents without so much as "By your leave." Ibrahìm asked her when this had happened, and if she thought she could identify the soldier. She replied that it had happened just this minute, and she would know the man again among ten thousand.

"We shall see," said Ibrahìm, and called his trumpeter. Soon every soldier in the city was on parade before the castle; and the Pasha led the woman down the ranks, asking her to pick out the offender. She pointed to a certain man and stopped before him. Ibrahìm asked if she was sure it was the culprit, and she swore by Allah she was not mistaken. Three times he put the question, and she replied that she was quite sure. Then he drew his sword, and, with a deft stroke, cut the soldier open, releasing the leben, still undigested. "It is lucky for you, you were right," he remarked to the woman, "or your fate would have been far worse than this soldier's."


100:1 For a somewhat similar ceremony in the Mosaic ritual see Numb v. 23.

103:1 A whip of hippopotamus-hide.

104:1 Curds, or else buttermilk.

Next: VI. Scraps of Unwritten History