Chronicles of Jerahmeel, by M. Gaster , at sacred-texts.com
LVII. (1) Philo, the friend of Joseph, the son of Gorion, has narrated in his book that after the death of Joshua the Israelites did not possess a friend to lead them. So that the Israelites asked the Lord, 'Who shall go up before us to fight against the Canaanites as in the olden times?' And the Lord replied, 'If the heart of this people is perfect with the Lord, let Judah go up, but if not, nobody shall go up.' 'But whereby shall we know the heart of the people?' they asked further. And the Lord said, 'Draw lots according to your tribes, and the tribe which the Lord shall take shall assemble according to their families, and ye shall thus know the heart of the people.' (2) The people then addressed God, saying, 'O Lord, appoint over us a head and a chief to assemble us for casting the lots, that he may take us out and bring us in.' And the angel of God replied, 'Cast lots in, the tribe of Caleb, and the person selected by lot shall be to you the head and the chief.' They did so, and the lot fell upon Kenaz. They therefore made him a prince over Israel. Kenaz then said to the people, 'Bring me your tribes and hearken to the voice of the Lord.' And they came to him.
(3) 'You know,' said he, 'that Moses, the servant of the Lord, commanded you, saying, "Ye shall not depart from
the way which I commanded you in the Torah, neither to the right nor to the left;" this Joshua has also exhorted you to do. (4) Now, hear and mark my words, for the heart of the people is not with Him, and He has commanded us each tribe to approach for the lot to be cast. Let not the anger of the Lord be kindled against us. If I and my house be caught, then burn us with fire.' 'Thou hast spoken well,' answered the people. (5) Accordingly, the tribes assembled before him by lot, and of the tribe of Judah 345 men were taken, of Reuben 540, of Simeon 335, of Levi 350, of Isaachar 665, of Zebulun 545, of Gad, 380, of Asher 665, of Menasseh 480, and of Ephraim 468. (6) Thus, the total number of those that were caught by lot was 6,110, all of whom Kenaz placed in a ward to inquire the word of the Lord concerning them, and said, 'Of such did Moses, the servant of the Lord, speak when he said, "Lest there be among you a root, a poisonous plant or wormwood," blessed be the Lord, who reveals our sins to us that we may not stumble through them.' (7) And Kenaz, and Eleazar the priest, and all the elders of the assembly, prayed to the Lord, saying, 'Thou, O Lord, hast made known unto us the men who did not believe in Thy wonders what Thou didst for our forefathers from the time when Thou didst bring them forth from the land of Egypt until this very day.' (8) And the Lord replied, 'Ask these people now to confess their iniquity, and they shall be burnt with fire.' And Kenaz addressed them thus, 'You know that Achan ben Zabdi sinned by appropriating the devoted spoil, was taken by lot and confessed his sin: do you also make a confession unto the Lord, that ye may live with those whom the Lord will revive at the resurrection of the dead.'
(9) And one of them, whose name was Elah (###), answered, 'We shall only die once by this fire. Now ask each tribe separately.' Kenaz thereupon commenced with his own tribe, the tribe of Judah. And they said, 'Behold, we have chosen to make a calf for ourselves, just as our forefathers did in the wilderness.'
(10) Corning next to the tribe of Reuben, they said, 'We have chosen to sacrifice to the gods of the nations.' The children of Levi said, 'We desired to try and test if the tabernacle is holy.' The children of Isaachar replied, 'We desired to ask the idols what will become of us.' (11) And the children of Zebulun, 'We wished to eat the flesh of our sons and our daughters, to know whether the Lord loved them.' The children of Dan replied, 'We desired to teach our sons what we learned from the Amorites; behold, their books are hidden and concealed under the Mount Ebarim, where thou wilt find them.' And Kenaz sent for them and found them.
(12) Coming next to Naphtali, they answered, 'We have done all that the Amorites have done, and hidden them (?) in the tent of Elah, who requested thee to ask each tribe separately.' And Kenaz sent for them and found them there. (13) Then the sons of Gad said, 'We have lain with the wives of our neighbours.' And the sons of Asher said, 'We found seven golden idols, which the Amorites called "The holy ones of Ninfe," (###); and upon them were many precious stones. We hid them beneath Mount Shechem. Send thither now and thou wilt find them.' He acted accordingly and found them. These were the idols which informed the Amorites at certain periods the deeds they should perform.
(14) Now, these are the names of the seven sinners that made them after the Flood: Canaan, Phut, Shelaḥ, Nimrod, Elah, Diul, and Shuaḥ. Nor was their work like that of ordinary artificers. The precious stones they brought from Havilah, where the bdellium and the onyx are found. These were the stones used by the Amorites for their idols. In the night they shone as the light of day, and when the blind Amorites kissed the idols and touched their eyes they could see. Kenaz then placed them in a ward until he knew what was to become of them. (15) Continuing his questions, Kenaz came to Menasseh, who said, 'We have not observed the Sabbath to sanctify it.' Ephraim answered, 'We have been pleased to pass our sons and our daughters
through the fire, according to the custom of the Amorites.' And Benjamin said, 'We desired to test whether the law of God emanated from God or from Moses.' Kenaz thereupon entered all their replies in a book and recited them before the Lord.
(16) And the Lord said, 'Take these men, and everything that belongs to them, and bring them down to the river Pishon. There shalt thou burn them with fire.' 'Shall we also burn,' asked Kenaz, 'the precious stones which are priceless or shall we dedicate them to Thee?' And the Lord answered, 'If God would take of the accursed, why then not also man? (17) Take the books and the precious stones and keep them until I make known to thee what thou shalt do with them and how thou shalt destroy them, because fire will not consume them; but the men shall be consumed with fire. And they shall say to all the people, "Thus shall be done to the man who turneth his heart away from the Lord." (18) When they are consumed by the fire, then take the precious stones which fire will not injure, and which iron will not break, and place them on the top of the mountain by the side of the new altar, and there I shall command the thick clouds to cause their dew to fall upon them and thus destroy them; and I shall command My angels to take these stones and cast them into the depths of the sea, so that they shall no more be seen, and to bring up to Me instead of them twelve stones more precious than those. These thou shalt place in the ephod and in the breast-plate, and sanctify them to Me.'
(19) Accordingly Kenaz, fetching everything found upon these sinners, said to the people, 'Ye have seen the miracles and the wonders which the Lord has shown us until this very day, and how He has made known unto us these sinning men so that they have been requited according to their deeds. (20) Now, cursed be the man who acts in the same manner in Israel.' And the people answered, 'Amen.' Thus those men perished in the flames. After this, Kenaz wished to test the stones in the fire, but the fire was extinguished.
[paragraph continues] He then took the iron and tried to crush them in pieces, but the iron slipped away from them. (21) Even the books he placed in water, in order to destroy them, but the water became dry upon them. Kenaz then burst forth in praise of God, saying, 'Blessed be the Lord, for this day He has wrought miracles and wonders with the sons of man, when they sinned and did not deny their guilt.' He then took the stones and the books of the law, and placed them on the mount by the new altar, just as God had commanded him; and upon the altar he offered sacrifices of peace-offerings, and all the people ate there together.
(22) On that night the Lord did with those stones and books just as He had spoken, and in the morning Kenaz found twelve precious stones, upon which were engraved the names of the sons of Israel. And the Lord said, 'Take these stones and place them in the ark together with the tables of the law, until Solomon shall have built a temple dedicated to My name, and shall place them on two cherubim, and it shall be to Me as a memorial of the children of Israel. (23) And it shall come to pass, when the sin of the children of man shall have been completed by defiling My temple, which they will have made, that I shall take these stones, together with the tables of the law, and shall put them in the place whence they were taken of old, and there shall they remain until the end of the world, when I shall visit the inhabitants of the earth; and then I shall take them up, and they shall be as an everlasting light to those who love Me and keep My commandments. The moon shall be confounded and the sun ashamed before that light, for it shall be seven times more powerful than either of them.' (24) Then Kenaz said, 'Behold the innumerable good actions which God has done for man, and of which they have been deprived through their sins; now I know that man's work is nothing and his life vanity.'
(25) When he took the stones from the place where they were put, they illumined the whole earth just as the sun at noonday. He put them in the ark of the testimony, together with the tables of the Covenant, just as the
[paragraph continues] Lord had commanded, and there they remain until this very day.
(26) Having chosen 300,000 armed men of war, on the second day he waged war with their enemies and slew of them 5,000. On the third day the people spoke against Kenaz, saying, 'Behold Kenaz stays in his house with his wives and his concubines; whilst we arm ourselves for battle and destroy our enemies.' (27) The servants of Kenaz, hearing of this, told their master. And he commanded them to summon before him the captains of fifties, and ordered them to place those thirty-seven men in prison who had spoken evilly against him; and they acted accordingly.
(28) He then said, 'When the Lord shall work salvation for His people, will I order the death of these men.' He commanded the captains of the fifties, saying, Go and choose 300 of my servants and 300 horses. Let it not become known that we are going to battle, and let them be ready to march with me to-night.'
(29) Sending spies to view the position of the Amorites' encampment, they saw at once that the Amorites were too mighty for the Israelites to fight against. The spies, therefore, returned and reported to Kenaz. (30) He rose up in the middle of the night, holding a shofar in his hand, and taking with him 300 men. When he approached the camp he said to his servants, 'Stay here while I alone go and look at the camp of the Amorites; but as soon as you hear the sound of the shofar, come to me, but if you do not hear it, then return home.' (31) Kenaz thus went down to the camp alone, and he prayed to God, saying, 'O Lord God of our fathers, Thou hast shown Thy servants all the great wonders which Thou hast performed: do Thou now likewise work Thy miracles with Thy servant, and I will go to battle against Thine enemy, that all the nations may know that Thy hand is not too short to send salvation either by means of a multitude or by a few, for Thou O Lord art mighty in war.' (32) And Kenaz continued, 'Let this be the sign of the salvation which Thou wilt show me this day. If when
[paragraph continues] I draw my sword from its sheath and brandish it so that it glitters in the camp of the Amorites, the latter know that I am Kenaz, I shall then know that Thou wilt deliver them into my hand; and if not, then I shall know that Thou hast not heard my prayer, but hast delivered me into the hand of the enemy for my sins.' (33) After this Kenaz overheard the Amorites say, 'Let us arise and fight against the Israelites, for our holy gods Ninfe (###) are in their possession, and they will deliver them into our hands.' At that moment the Spirit of God rested upon Kenaz, so that he rose up, and brandished his sword against the Amorites; and when they saw it they exclaimed, 'Behold, this is the sword of Kenaz, to afflict us with wounds and gashes; but we know that our gods which are with them will deliver them into our hands. Now arise and give them battle.'
(34) When Kenaz heard their words, he went down to the camp of the Amorites and smote them, and the Lord sent the angel Gabriel to afflict the Amorites with blindness, so that they killed each other. And Kenaz slew of them 45,000. (35) Now, when Kenaz had finished the slaughter, it happened that his sword clave to his hand, and, noticing an Amorite fleeing from the camp, he said to him, 'Behold, thou knowest what I have done to the Amorites; now tell me, pray, by what means I can separate my sword from my hand.' And the Amorite answered, 'Slay a Hebrew and pour his warm blood over thy hand, and it will be separated.' Kenaz then slew that Amorite, and pouring his blood upon his hand, separated it from his sword. Then returning to his army, he found them all asleep, for a deep sleep had fallen upon them, so that they did not know what Kenaz. had done in the night. When they awoke from their sleep and saw the whole plain full of dead men they expressed great astonishment; at which Kenaz said, 'Are the ways of God like the ways of man? The Lord hath sent salvation through me to His people; now arise and return to your tents.'
(36) As soon as all the Israelites heard of the salvation which the Lord had wrought through the hand of Kenaz,
they went forth to meet him, saying, 'Blessed be the Lord, who appointed thee to be the captain of His people, for now we know that the Lord has chosen His people.' And Kenaz replied, 'Ask the men who were with me of the work I have done.' On asking them, they replied, 'As the Lord liveth, we do not know, for we found the plain full of dead bodies.' (37) After this Kenaz ordered the captains of the fifties to bring forth the prisoners, that they might obtain a hearing. When they were brought before him he said to them, 'Now, what is the complaint you have against me?' And they replied, 'Why dost thou ask us, seeing that the Lord has delivered us into thy hands, and commanded that we should be burnt, not for our complaint, but in connection with those former men who confessed their iniquity. We were not found out among the people when we had joined the sinners. It was for this that the Lord has delivered us into your hands.' Kenaz then said, 'Since you thus testify against yourselves, why should I withhold you from your punishment?' They were, therefore, ordered to be burnt to death in the flames. (38) Now, the days of the life of Kenaz were drawing to a close, and he called the two prophets Pineḥas and Jabin, and also Pineḥas, the son of Eleazar the priest, and said to them, 'I know the heart of this people, for they will turn from following the Lord. I therefore testify against them.' And Pineḥas said, 'Just as Moses and Joshua testified, so do I testify against them; for they prophesied concerning the vineyard, the beautiful plantation of God which did not know its planter, and did not recognise its worker, so that the vineyard was destroyed and did not give forth its fruit. These are the words which my father commanded me to tell this people.' Kenaz then lifted up his voice and wept aloud, as did all the elders and the people until the evening, when they said, 'Is it for the iniquity of the sheep that the shepherd must perish? May the Lord have compassion upon His inheritance that they may not work in vain.'
(39) And the Spirit of the Lord came upon Kenaz, so that he prophesied, saying, 'I have seen what I had not hoped for, and have looked upon what I had not imagined.
[paragraph continues] (40) Behold, I saw a flame which did not burn, and I heard in my dream the noise of the rushing of waters which had no source and no way upon the mountains, and no base in the air, but they appeared according to their form. They had no fixed place, and since the eye does not know what to see, how can the heart understand it? (41) From this flame which was not burning I saw a spark fly out and remain in the air as a shield, as a spider's web in a beam. Then I saw that this was the base and its source vomited hot foam, and became changed to the foundation of the deep, and ways (paths) were between the upper and lower bases; there shone the hidden light, and beings, in the form of men, were walking about. And then I heard a voice saying, "Between these foundations (bases) shall the sons of man dwell 7,000 years, when the lower foundation shall be destroyed, and the upper one which is like hot foam shall be the foundation, and the light which is between them and illumines the path of man is Jerusalem, and there the men will dwell. But when the sons of man shall sin against Me, and the time of their sinning shall have been completed, then shall the spark be extinguished, and the fountain dry up, and everything pass away."'
(42) When Kenaz had thus finished prophesying, the spirit of his soul returned to him, and he no longer knew what he had uttered in his prophecy. He then said to the people, 'If such be the rest which the righteous obtain after their death, it would be preferable for them to die at their birth in this world and not sin.' And Kenaz died, and Othniel his son arose in his stead.