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Jerusalem and the Valley of Jehoshaphat from the Hill of Evil Counsel (detail), by Thomas B. Seddon [1854]
Jerusalem and the Valley of Jehoshaphat from the Hill of Evil Counsel (detail), by Thomas B. Seddon [1854]

Folk-lore of the Holy Land

Moslem, Christian and Jewish

by J. E. Hanauer


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This entertaining collection of folklore from what is now Israel/Palestine was written at the start of the 20th century. It contains an even mix of Moslem, Christian and Jewish lore; often a given tale will draw from multiple traditions, and sometimes it is hard to distinguish a point of view. Of special interest are the stories of the Jinn, magical beings that correspond to the European fairies, the accounts of folk-magic, and folklore from all three religions about biblical topics.

The book covers the entire gamut of folkloric themes: animal tales, tales about fools, calendar lore, and so on. There is an intriguing chapter about the lore of coffee, its history, and the etiquette of preparing and drinking it. Add yet another item on the list of Islamic contributions to world culture: the coffeehouse.

Although Moslems comprised the largest proportion of the population of Palestine, and it was governed by a succession of Moslem states, including Egypt and the Ottoman Empire, there were also significant numbers of Christians and Jews. These three populations managed to co-exist in everyday life for centuries. This book vividly illustrates how ordinary people managed to use humor and other coping mechanisms to make this arrangement work.

Note: the version of this book which is currently in print by Dover is a reprint of a 1935 edition. It differs slightly from this electronic text, which (for copyright reasons) was prepared from an original 1907 edition. The 1935 edition has an additional preface, an index, and different pagination.

Title Page
A Mohammedan Legend: Introductory And Apologetic

I. Saints, Sinners, and Miracles

I. A Learned Moslem's Ideas On Cosmogony
II. Our Father Adam
III. Noah and Og
IV. Job and His Family
V. Abraham, ''the Friend of God''
VI. Lot and the Tree of the Cross
VII. The Deaths of Moses and Aaron
VIII. David and Solomon
IX. El Khudr
X. Simon The Just

Legends and Anecdotes

I. Bâb El Khalìl, The Jaffa Gate at Jerusalem
II. Turbet Birket Mamilla
III. En Nebi Daûd
IV. Bâb el Asbât
V. Detective Stories
VI. Scraps of Unwritten History
VII. Judgements of Karakash
VIII. The Saragossan Purim
IX. Sultan Mahmûd's Autograph
X. The Right Answer

Ideas and Superstitions

I. Folks Gentle and Simple
II. The Secret of Success
III. Origin of Three Well-Known Sayings
IV. Moral Tales
V. The Angel of Death
VI. The Underground Folk
VII. Nursery Tales
VIII. Satire
IX. About Women
X. About Animals
XI. About Plants
XII. About Coffee
XIII. Some Magic Cures
XIV. A Popular Calendar and Some Sayings
Translation of a Jewish Amulet