Sacred Texts  Asia  Index  Previous  Next 

The Laughable Stories of Bar-Hebraeus, by Bar-Hebraeus, tr. E.A.W. Budge, [1897], at

p. 122

The Fourteenth Chapter


CCCCLXIX. A certain man came to a barber and said to him, "Shave my head for me and take heed that thou handle the razor skilfully. Be careful of my ears and do not gash me, and do not leave a hair anywhere." The barber said to him, "Rest assured that I will shave thy head as thou commandest me, and I will do so in such a way that everyone who seeth it shall wish to stroke it with his hand."

CCCCLXX. A certain weaver came to a judge and asked him, saying, "If a judicial case required men (i.e., witnesses) and people asked me to come to bear witness before thee on a certain matter, wouldst thou receive my testimony?" The judge replied to him, "Yes, if it were accompanied by that of three other trustworthy witnesses." And the weaver said to him, "Well and good, I will tell these three witnesses that they may be ready beforehand, and then, [when] they let me know, I will come."

CCCCLXXI. Another weaver wished to prophesy, and when certain folk said to him, "No one ever saw a prophet who was a weaver," he replied, "Shepherds, in spite of their exceedingly great simplicity, have been employed as prophets, but weavers have never been so employed."

p. 123

CCCCLXXII. Another weaver was asked by a certain man, "If thou wert king what wouldst thou desire?" He replied, "Honey and pounded sesame seeds."

CCCCLXXIII. Luck came to a certain weaver and he became a governor. And one day his music player said to him, "O master, give me a fine cloak wherein I may dress myself at the feast." He replied to him, "Bring me the stuff for weaving it, and in the three days which are yet to pass before the feast day I will make for thee a cloak."

CCCCLXXIV. Another man said, "The intelligence of seventy women is like unto that of one man, and the mind of seventy weavers is as that of one woman."

CCCCLXXV. Another man said, "They were weavers who stole Joseph's cup, and the rod of Moses, and the fleece of Gideon, and the sling of David, and the swaddling bands of John, and the sandals of the Apostles; and when Mary asked them to shew her the way to the Sepulchre, they sent her by a wrong road. For this reason she prayed and entreated her Lord, saying, 'Wherever weavers live let them toil with their hands and feet for others, and let no blessing ever come upon them.'"

CCCCLXXVI. Another man went to a tooth-drawer to extract for him a tooth which was diseased, and the tooth-drawer asked him for a zûzâ; and the man said, "I will not give a whole zûzâ, but only a half." Then the handicraftsman said to him, "Less than a zûzâ I will not take, but if thou wishest it, and on account of thine honourable position, I will pull out another tooth also, and I will not charge thee any more than the zûzâ."

CCCCLXXVII. Another man had a diseased tooth

p. 124

which made his mouth to smell badly, and when he went to the tooth-drawer and had opened his mouth and exhaled the foul smell, the handicraftsman said to him, "This matter doth not belong to my handicraft but to the trade of those who cleanse the sewers."

CCCCLXXVIII. A certain woman took a kettle with a hole in it to the blacksmith, and she said to him, "Mend it for me." And having taken it he smeared a little clay over and into the hole and blackened it with soot and gave it back to her. And when the woman had taken the kettle [home], and had filled it with water [and set it on the fire], the clay melted away as the water began to boil. 'Then straightway she took the kettle and went back to the blacksmith and said to him, "What hast thou done? Behold, the kettle is just as it was [when I first brought it], and the hole is unstopped." The blacksmith said to her, "Perhaps thou hast put some water in it? I thought that thou wishedst to put bran or herbs into it, but since it is water that thou wouldst put in it get thee to some other craftsman who is more skilled than I am, and let him mend it."

CCCCLXXIX. Another man who was a sailor, saw a man riding a horse, and noticed that he worked his legs as he did so; and he said, "Glory be to Thee, O God, the legs of this man are his rudders!"

CCCCLXXX. Another man was gathering up dung [for fuel] and he said, "How beautiful is that which David 1 saith, "Man in his honour hath no understanding, but resembleth the beast and is like thereunto." And when a certain rich man heard him he said unto him, "What now, is this honour of thine whereby thou hast

p. 125

understanding, which causeth thee to be dissimilar and unlike the beast? For, behold, thou art occupied with the dung of beasts all the days of thy life." The man said to him, "My honourable estate is that I eat of the labour of my hands, and that I ask no alms from such as thou."

CCCCLXXXI. A certain shopkeeper lit a lamp in the day time and set it before him, and when it was said to him, "Why doest thou this?" he replied, "Behold all the shopkeepers around me are buying and selling, but no man cometh nigh unto me. And I thought that perhaps folk did not see me, and therefore I have made a blaze before me that they may do so."

CCCCLXXXII. Another man wishing to sell rue cried out, saying, "Take ye of this honey; take ye of this sweetmeat." And a certain man drew nigh to him and said, "I have a sick person at home, and I wish to buy some bitter rue, for this is what he longeth for; hast thou none?" The seller said to him, "Take some of this which is before me, and do not believe my words, for every bit that I have is more bitter than the vinegar in my shop."

CCCCLXXXIII. A certain cook 1 cried out about the roasted meat which he had before him, saying, "Peradventure ye would wish me to prolong my praises of the meat which is before you? Whosoever eateth of my meat once will not [need] to buy oil for seven days by reason of the grease which will run from him."

CCCCLXXXIV. Another man went to a certain man in the market and asked him to lend him some money, and he said to him, "At thy command will I withhold

p. 126

nothing from thee," And he commanded his servant to bring him a bag of zûzê, and a pair of scales, and a mirror, and he weighed out to him the amount which he required. And when he had taken the money the man of the market put the mirror into his hands, and said unto him, "Look, now, at thy face in the mirror and see how joyful it is on the day whereon thou borrowest money and receivest it. Take care, now, that thy countenance be thus gladsome, and not gloomy on the day whereon thou must pay it back."

CCCCLXXXV. A certain merchant having bought a crate full of glass vessels wanted some one to carry it to his home with him, and when a certain youth came to carry it, he said to him, "Take it, and ask no hire of me, and I will teach thee three counsels whereby thou shalt live nobly." And when the youth hath shouldered the crate and had gone one third of the way he said to the merchant, "Teach me, now, one of the three counsels." And the merchant said to him, "This is one of them:—If any man say unto thee, 'Hunger is better than satiety,' believe him never a whit." And when the youth had gone one half of the way, he said to him, "Tell me, now, the second counsel." And the merchant said to him, "If any man say unto thee, 'It is better to walk than to ride,' believe him never a whit." And when the youth had come to the house he said, "Teach me, now, the third counsel." And the merchant said unto him, "If any man shall tell thee that he hath found any man who will carry a load for hire less than thine, believe him never a whit. Then the youth cast the crate upon the ground and the glass vessels which were in it were broken to pieces and crushed into dust, and he said to the merchant, "If any man saith

p. 127

unto thee that a single glass vessel remaineth unbroken among these, believe him never a whit."

CCCCLXXXVI. A certain tax-gatherer having fled and hidden himself from the king found that his blood had become heated and excited in him, and he said unto him in whose house he was hidden, "Go to such and such a blood-letter and mention my name in his presence; if he abuseth me say nothing further to him, but if he speaketh well of me bid him come to me." And the man went and did thus, and he took the blood-letter and brought him to him; and when he had gone in he saluted the tax-gatherer with respect and behaved graciously to him. And the tax-gatherer said to him, "Cup me on the back of my neck," and when he had cupped him and had let blood and wished to depart, the tax-gatherer took out a dînâr and gave it to him; and the surgeon took the money and went and told his son. Then the son rose up and went and knocked at the door and entered the chamber of the tax-gatherer and said to him, "I hear that thou hast been cupped on the back of the neck, but thou didst not require this, for it should have been done on thine arm." Then he cupped him on the arm and let out some more blood, and as he was going out the tax-gatherer gave him a dînâr also; and he went and told his son-in-law. And this man came also and knocked at the door, and he entered the chamber of the tax-gatherer and said to him, "Thou didst not require cupping except on thy legs." Then the tax-gatherer being afraid that [if he refused to allow it] the man would be angry and go forth and betray his hiding-place, said, "Do as thou advisest; and when he had let out some blood and wished to go the tax-gatherer gave him a dînâr and

p. 128

bade him tell no man about the house where he was. And it came to pass that, when the tax-gatherer had meditated a short time, he rose up and went to the king, and told him his story, saying, "These cursed villains wanted to let out and suck all my blood by their cuppings; draw thy sword now, and slay me, and I shall escape from [my] trouble." And when the king heard this, he laughed and forgave him all the money which he owed him.


124:1 Psalm xlix. 20.

125:1 ### = ### = Arab. ###.

Next: The Fifteenth Chapter: Laughable Stories of Actors and Comedians