Chronicles of Jerahmeel, by M. Gaster , at sacred-texts.com
XLVI. (1) And it came to pass when Pharaoh reigned over Egypt that he changed the statutes of the first kings and their laws, and made the yoke heavy upon all the inhabitants of his land, and also upon the house of Jacob he had no pity, through the counsel of Bala‘am the enchanter and his two sons, for they were then the king's counsellors. The king then took counsel with his three advisers—one of whom was named Reuel the Midianite, the second Job, and the third Bala‘am of Petor—and said, 'Behold, the Israelites are becoming more numerous, and mightier than we. Come, let us be wise, lest they grow too numerous, and in the event of a war breaking out they will assemble against us and fight us, and go up from the land.'
(2) Then Reuel the Midianite exclaimed, 'Long live the king! If it pleases the king, do not stretch forth thy hand against them, because God has selected them of old and taken them from all nations of the earth to be His inheritance. For whoever of all the kings of the earth stretches forth his hand against them their God will take vengeance upon him. When Abraham went down to Egypt, and Pharaoh ordered his wife Sarah to be brought to him, did not the Lord their God send great plagues upon him and upon his house until he restored Abraham's wife, and only through Abraham's prayer was he healed? Also in the case of Abimelech in Gerar. As a punishment all his house was struck with barrenness, even unto the animals. In a vision Abimelech learned the cause, and that he must restore Abraham's wife whom he had taken. After Isaac prayed for him and his household, and entreated God on their behalf, they were healed. (3) When Isaac was separated from his wife all their fountains were dried up, and their fruit-bearing trees did not yield their produce, and the breasts of their wives and cows were dried up. Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, his pasturage, and Phichol, the captain of his host. They prostrated themselves, and asked him to entreat God for them and pray to Him. When he besought God they were healed. Jacob was a simple man dwelling in tents; by his integrity he was delivered from Esau, and Laban the Aramean, and from all the kings of Canaan. Who can stretch forth his hand against them without being punished? Was it not thy father that promoted Joseph over all the princes of Egypt, for through his wisdom he rescued all the inhabitants from famine, and commanded Jacob and his sons to go down to Egypt that the land of Egypt be saved from further evil through their piety? Now, if it seems good to thee, cease destroying them, and if thou dost not wish to allow them to dwell in Egypt, send them hence, and they will go to the land of Canaan.'
(4) Pharaoh was exceedingly angry with Reuel, so he left the kingdom and went to Midian. He took Jacob's staff with him. The king then said to Job, 'Give thy
counsel. What shall be done with these people?' But Job briefly replied, 'Are not all the inhabitants of thy country in thy hand? Do thou what is pleasing in thine eyes.' Then spake Bala‘am of Petor to the king, 'If thou thinkest to diminish them by fire, has not their God delivered Abraham from the furnace of the Chaldeans? And if thou thinkest to destroy them by the sword, has not Isaac been tested thereby, and a rain been given in his stead? Now, my lord the king, if thou seekest to blot out their name, order their babes to be thrown into the sea, because not one of them has yet been put to this test.'
(5) This advice pleasing the king, he issued a decree all over Egypt, saying that every male born to the Hebrews should be cast into the water. And it came to pass when the males of the house of Jacob were cast into the river that Moses was one of them. The Lord thereupon sent an angel to deliver them, and thus he also was saved through the daughter of Pharaoh. When Moses grew up in the king's palace Pharaoh's daughter adopted him as her son, and the whole of Pharaoh's household was afraid of him.
(6) One day it was reported to Bala‘am that the son of Bityah (Pharaoh's daughter) wished to take his life. Bala‘am the enchanter and his two sons therefore fled for their lives and escaped to the land of Cush. And when Qinqanos waged war with the peoples of the East and Syria, Bala‘am revolted against him and did not allow him to enter the city. Cush was therefore besieged for nine years, and during the siege Qinqanos died. The people then crowned Moses the Levite as their king. (7) By his wisdom Moses captured the city, and was placed upon the throne of the kingdom with the crown upon his head. They also gave him to wife the Cushite wife of the late monarch. But Moses, fearing the God of his fathers, did not approach her, for he remembered the oath which Abraham made Eleazar his servant swear, saying, 'Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan for my sons.' Isaac said likewise to Jacob when he fled on account of Esau. 'Thou shalt not intermarry,' said he, 'with the
children of Ham, for remember that Noah said, "The children of Ham should be servants to the children of Shem and Jafeth."' Therefore Moses feared the Lord, and walked before Him in truth with all his heart. Nor did he deviate from the path wherein his ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob walked. The kingdom of Cush was firmly established through him, and, going to war with Edom, the East of Palestine, and Syria, he conquered them, and made them submit to Cush. The number of years during which he sat upon the throne was forty, and in all his battles he was successful, because the Lord God of his fathers was with him.
(8) In the fortieth year of his reign, when he was sitting upon the throne with his queen by his side, the queen said to the princes in the presence of the people, 'Behold now, during the whole of the forty years that this king has reigned he has not once approached me, nor has he worshipped the gods of Cush. Now, hearken ye unto me, O sons of Cush, do not allow this man to reign over you any longer, but let my son Mobros (###) reign over you, for it is better that you serve the son of your master than a stranger, a servant of the King of Egypt.' The people discussed the matter until the evening. They then rose up early next morning and crowned Mobros (###), the son of Qinqanos, king over them. But the Cushites feared to lay hands on Moses, for they remembered the oath they took to him. So they gave him valuable gifts and sent him away with great honour. Moses accordingly went forth thence, and his reign over Cush thus came to an end.
(9) Moses was sixty-seven years of age when he went out of Cush; for the thing came from God, as the time had arrived which had been fixed from olden times when the Israelites were to be freed from the children of Ham. Moses then went to Midian, for he feared to return to Egypt through fear of Pharaoh, and stayed by a well of water. When the seven daughters of Reuel the Midianite came out to feed the sheep of their father, they came to the well to draw the water for the sheep. But the Midianite
shepherds drove them away, and Moses rose up and assisted them in watering the sheep. Returning to their father, they told him what the man had done for them. Reuel (i.e., Jethro the Kenite) then invited him into the house to take a meal with him. Moses then related to him that he hailed from Egypt, and that he had reigned over Cush; that they had wrested the kingdom from him and had sent him away. When Reuel heard this, he said to himself, 'I shall put this man in prison, by which I shall please the Cushites from whom he fled.' Accordingly he put him in prison, where he remained for ten years. But Zipporah, the daughter of Reuel, had pity upon him, and fed him with bread and water.
(10) At the end of the ten years she said to her father, 'Nobody seeks or inquires after this Hebrew whom thou hast imprisoned these ten years. Now, if it seemeth good to thee, my father, let us send and see whether he is dead or alive.' Her father did not know that she had supplied him with food. Reuel then answered and said, 'Is it possible for a man to be imprisoned twelve (?) years without food and yet live?' But Zipporah replied, 'Hast thou not heard, O my lord, that the God of the Hebrews is great and powerful, and that He works wonders at all times? That he delivered Abraham from the furnace of the Chaldeans, Isaac from the sword, and Jacob from the angel with whom he wrestled by the brook of Jabbok? That even for this man He has done many wonders; that He delivered him from the river of Egypt and from the sword of Pharaoh? He will also be able to deliver him from this place.' (11) This word pleased Reuel, and lie acted as she had asked. He therefore sent to the pit to see what had become of him, and found him alive, standing erect, and praying to the God of his ancestors. Having brought him forth from the pit, he shaved him, changed his prison garments, and gave him to eat. The man then went to the garden of Reuel at the back of the palace, and prayed to his God, who had done so many wonders for him. While he was praying, he suddenly beheld a staff made of
sapphire fixed in the ground in the midst of the garden. When he approached it, he found engraved thereon the name of the Lord of Hosts, the ineffable name. He read that name, and pulled up the staff as lightly as a branch is lifted up in a thickly-wooded forest, and it was a rod in his hand.
(12) This was the same staff that was created in the world among the works of God after He created the heavens and the earth and all their hosts, the seas, rivers, and all the fishes thereof. When Adam was driven from the garden of Eden he took the staff with him and tilled the ground from which he was taken. It then came into the hands of Noah (son of Lamek), who handed it down to Shem and his descendants until it reached Abraham the Hebrew. He then handed over all his possessions to Isaac, including the staff of wonders, which Isaac also inherited. When Jacob fled to Padan Aram he took it with him, and when he came to his father in Beersheba he did not leave it behind. When he went down to Egypt he handed it over to Joseph as a separate gift above that which he gave to his other sons. After Joseph's death the princes of Egypt dwelt in his house, and the staff came into the hand of Reuel the Midianite, who, when he left Egypt, took it away with him and planted it in his own garden. All the mighty men of King Qinqanos (###) who wished to wed his daughter Zipporah tried to uproot it, but without avail, so that it remained there in the garden until Moses, to whom it rightly belonged, came and took it away. When Reuel saw the staff in Moses’ hand he was astonished (and knew that he was the redeemer of Israel). Reuel then gave Zipporah his daughter to Moses.
(13) Moses was seventy-seven years old when he came out of prison, and took Zipporah the Midianite to wife. And Zipporah went the ways of the women of Israel; she did not even in the smallest thing fall short of the righteousness of Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah, the pinnacles of the world. She conceived and bare a son, whom she called Gershon, for he (Moses) said: 'I was a
wanderer in a strange land '; but by the order of Reuel his father-in-law the child was not circumcised. After the lapse of three years she conceived again and bare another son. After his circumcision Moses called his name Eleazar, because (he said) 'The God of my father is my help, and He delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh.'