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THE Israelites lived under Joshua (who was, however, not a prophet, but merely a virtuous prince and valiant chief) conformably to the laws revealed by Moses; the Lord therefore enabled them to expel the giants from the land of Canaan, and at their cry, "Allah is great," the loftiest walls of fortified cities fell in.
But after Joshua's death they relapsed into all those iniquities on account of which the Egyptians had been so severely punished; wherefore Allah, in order to chastise and to reclaim his people, sent the giant Djalut (Goliath) against them, who defeated them in numerous engagements, and even took from them the Tabut (the sacred ark of the Covenant), so that the protection of Allah entirely departed from them.
One day, when the heads of the people were assembled to consult in what manner the mighty Goliath might be resisted, there came a man to them of the family of Aaron: his name was Ishmawil Ibn Bal (Samuel), and said, "The God of your fathers sent me to you, to proclaim speedy help if you will turn to him, but utter destruction if you continue in your wicked courses."
"What shall we do," inquired one of the elders, "to obtain the favor of Allah?"
Samuel replied, "You shall worship Allah alone, and offer no sacrifices unto idols; nor eat that which has died of itself, nor swine's flesh, nor blood, nor any thing that has not been slaughtered in the name of Allah. Assist each other in doing good, honor your parents, treat your wives with kindness, support the widow, the orphan, and the poor. Believe in the prophets that have gone before me, especially in Abraham, for whom Allah turned the burning pile into a garden of delight; in Ismael, whose neck he rendered invulnerable, and for whoon he caused a fountain to spring up in the stony desert; and in Moses, who opened with his rod twelve dry paths through the sea.
"Believe, in like manner, in the prophets that shall come after me; above all, in Isa Ibn Mariam, the spirit of Allah (Christ), and in Mohammed Ibn Abd Allah."
"Who is Isa?" inquired one of the heads of Israel.
"He is the prophet," replied Samuel, "whom the Scriptures point out as the Word of Allah. His mother shall conceive him as a virgin by the will of the Lord and the breath of the angel Gabriel. Even in the womb he shall praise the omnipotence of Allah, and testify to the purity p. 173 of his mother; but at a later period he shall heal the sick and leprous, raise the dead, and create living birds out of clay. His godless contemporaries will afflict and attempt to crucify him; but Allah shall blind them, so that another shall be crucified in his stead, while he, like the prophet Enoch, is taken up into heaven without tasting death."
"And Mohammed, who is he?" continued the same Israelite; "his name sounds so strangely that I do not remember ever having heard it in Israel."
"Mohammed," Samuel replied, "does not belong to our people, but is a descendant of Ismael, and the last and greatest prophet, to whom even Moses and Christ shall bow down in the day of the resurrection.
"His name, which signifies the 'Much-praised-One,' indicates of itself the many excellences for which he is blessed by all creatures both in heaven and on earth.
"But the wonders which he shall perform are so numerous that a whole human life would not suffice to narrate them. I shall content myself, therefore, with communicating to you but a part of what he shall see in one single night.*
"In a frightfully tempestuous night, when the cock refrains from crowing, and the hound from baying, he shall be roused from his sleep by Gabriel, who frequently appears to him in human form; but who on this occasion comes as Allah created him, with his seven hundred radiant wings, between each of which is a space which the fleetest steed can scarcely traverse in five hundred years.
"He shall lead him forth to a spot where Borak, the miraculous horse, the same which Abraham used to mount on his pilgrimages from Syria to Mecca, stands ready to receive him.
"This horse also has two wings like an eagle, feet like a dromedary; a body of diamonds, which shines like the sun, and a head like the most beautiful virgin.
"On this miraculous steed, on whose forehead is engraved 'There is no Lord but Allah, and Mohammed is his messenger,' he is carried first to Medina, then to Sinai, to Bethlehem, and to Jerusalem, that he may pray on holy ground. From thence he ascends by a golden ladder, whose steps are of ruby, of emerald, and hyacinth, into the seventh heaven, where he is initiated in all the mysteries of creation, and the government of the universe.
"He beholds the pious amid all their felicities in Paradise, and sinners in their varied agonies in hell. Many of them are roaming there like ravenous beasts through barren fields; they are those who in this life enjoyed the bounties of Allah, and gave nothing thereof to the poor.
"Others run to and fro, carrying fresh meat in one hand, and corroded flesh in the other; but as often as they would put the former into their mouths, their hands are struck with fiery rods until they partake of the putrefied morsel. This is the punishment of those who broke their marriage vow, and found pleasure in guilty indulgences.
"The bodies of others are terribly swollen, and are still increasing in bulk: they are such as have grown rich by usury, and whose avarice was insatiable.
"The tongues and lips of others are seized and pinched with iron pincers, as the punishment of their calumnious and rebellious speeches, by which they caused so much evil in the earth.
"Midway between Paradise and hell is seated Adam, the father of the human race, who smiles with joy as often as the gates of Paradise are thrown open, and the triumphant cries of the blessed are borne forth, but weeps when the gates of hell are unclosed, and the sighs of the damned penetrate to his ear.
"In that night Mohammed beholds, besides Gabriel, other angels, many of whom have seventy thousand heads, each head with seventy thousand faces, each face with seventy thousand mouths, and each mouth with seventy thousand tongues, each of which praises Allah in seventy thousand languages. He sees, too, the Angel of Reconciliation, who is half fire and half ice: the angel who watches with scowling visage and flaming eyes the treasuries of fire: the Angel of Death, holding in his hand a huge tablet, inscribed with names, of which he effaces hundreds every instant: the angel who keeps the floods, and measures out with an immense balance the waters appointed unto every river and every fountain; and him, finally, who supports the throne of Allah on his shoulders, and is holding a trumpet in his mouth, whose blast shall one day wake the sleepers from the grave.
"He is at last conducted through many oceans of light, into the vicinity of the holy throne itself, which is so vast, that the rest of the universe appears by its side like the scales of a coat of armor in the boundless desert.
"That which shall be revealed to him there," continued Samuel, "is as yet concealed from me; but this I know: He shall gaze on the glory of Allah at the distance of a bow-shot; shall then descend to earth by the ladder, and return on Borak to Mecca as rapidly as he came.
"To accomplish this vast journey, including his stay in Medina, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and in heaven, he requires so little time, that a water vase, which he overturns in rising from his couch, will not have emptied its contents at his return."
The assembled Israelites listened attentively to Samuel, and when he had finished, they exclaimed with one voice, "We believe in Allah, and in his prophets which were and are to come; only pray that He may deliver us from the tyranny of Goliath."
Samuel prayed and fasted till at length Allah sent an angel, who commanded him to go out of the city, and to proclaim the first man who should meet him king over Israel, since in his reign the Israelites should regain their independence from foreign bondage.
Samuel did as he was commanded, and met Talut [Saul], the son of Bishr, the son of Ahnun, the son of Benjamin, who was a husbandman of lofty stature, but nat otherwise remarkable, though Allah had put much wisdom into his heart.
He was wandering about in search of a heifer which had broken away from her plough and run at large. Samuel assisted him in her recovery, and then took Saul home with him, anointed him with oil, and presented him to the p. 178 heads of Israel as their king and divinely-commissioned deliverer.
But they refused to accept as their king a common peasant, who hitherto had not distinguished himself in any wise; and they demanded a miracle.
"Allah," replied Samuel, "will, in token of his ratifying this kingly election, restore to you the ark of the covenant."
From that day the Philistines were visited with the most painful and disgusting leprosy, whose origin no physician could discover, and which no physician could cure. But as the plague fell most heavily on that city where the ark of the covenant, which had been carried in triumph from one place to another, happened to be, no one would retain it any longer, and it was at last left standing in a wagon in the open field.
Allah then commanded two invisible angels to carry it back into the midst of the camp of Israel, who thereupon no longer hesitated to do fealty unto Saul as their king.
As soon as he was elected, Saul mustered the host of Israel, and marched against the Philistines at the head of seventy thousand men.
During their march through the wilderness, they were one day in want of water, so that a universal murmuring arose against Samuel and p. 179 Saul. Samuel, who was following after the ark of the covenant, prayed to the Lord, and there sprung from out the rocky ground a fountain of water, which was as fresh as snow, as sweet as honey, and as white as milk. But when the soldiers came rushing toward it. Samuel cried, "You have grievously sinned against your king and against your God by reason of discontent and rebellion. Forbear to touch this water, that by abstinence you may atone for your sin!"
But Samuel's words met with no regard. Only three hundred and thirteen men—as many as fought in the first engagement of the Mussulmans against the Infidels—mastered their appetite, barely refreshing themselves, while all the rest of the army yielded to the teptation, and drank in full draughts from the fountain.
When Talut beheld this, he disbanded the whole army, and, relying on the aid of Allah, marched against the enemy with the small number of his men who had conquered their desire.
Among this little band were six sons of a virtuous man whose name was Isa. Davud [David], his seventh son, had remained at home to nurse his aged father.
But when, for a long time, no engagement took place between Israel and the Philistines, since no one had accepted the challenge to single combat with Goliath, by which a general battle p. 180 was to be preceded, Isa sent also his seventh son into the camp, partly to carry fresh provisions to his brothers, and partly to bring him tidings of their welfare.
On his way he heard a voice from a pebble which lay in the midst of the road, calling to him, "Lift me up, for I am one of the stones with which the prophet Abraham drove Satan away when he would have shaken his resolve to sacrifice his son in obedience to his heavenly vision."
David placed the stone, which was inscribed with holy names, in the bag which he wore in his upper garment, for he was simply dressed like a traveler, and not as a soldier.
When he had proceeded a little farther, he again heard a voice from another pebble, crying, "Take me with thee, for I am the stone which the angel Gabriel struck out from the ground with his foot when he caused a fountain to gush forth in the wilderness for Ismael's sake."
David took this stone also, and laying it beside the first, went on his way. But soon he heard the following words proceeding from a third stone: "Lift me up, for I am the stone with which Jacob fought against the angels which his brother Esau had sent out against him."
David took this stone likewise, and continued his journey without interruption until he came p. 181 to his brothers in the camp of Israel. On his arrival there, he heard how a herald proclaimed, "Whoever puts the giant Goliath to death shall become Saul's son-in-law, and succeed hereafter to his throne."
David sought to persuade his brothers to venture the combat with Goliath, not to become the king's son-in-law and successor, but to wipe off the reproach that rested on their people.
But, since courage and confidence failed them, he went to Saul, and offered to accept the giant's challenge. The king had but little hopes indeed that a tender youth, such as David then was, would defeat a warrior like Goliath; yet he permitted the combat to take place, for he believed that even if he should fall, his reproachful example would excite some others to imitate his heroic conduct.
On the following morning, when Goliath, as usual, challenged with proud speech the warriors of Israel, David, in his traveling apparel, and with his bag containing the three stones, stepped down into the arena. Goliath laughed aloud on seeing his youthful antagonist, and said to him, "Rather hie thee home to play with lads of thine own years. How wilt thou fight with me, seeing that thou art even unarmed?"
David replied, "Thou art as a dog unto me, whom one may best drive away with a stone;" p. 182 and before Goliath was yet able to draw his sword from its scabbard, he took the three stones from his bag, pierced the giant with one of them so that he instantly fell lifeless on the ground, and drove with the second the right wing of the Philistines into flight, and their left wing with the third.
But Saul was jealous of David, whom all Israel extolled as their greatest hero, and refused to give him his daughter until he brought the heads of a hundred giants as the marriage gift. But the greater David's achievements were, the more rancorous grew the envy of Saul, so that he even sought treacherously to slay him. David defeated all his plans; but he never revenged himself, and Saul's hatred waxed greater by reason of this very magnanimity.
One day he visited his daughter in David's absence, and threatened to put her to death unless she gave him a promise, and confirmed it by the most sacred oaths, that she would deliver her husband unto him during the night. When the latter returned home, his wife met him in alarm, and related what had happened between her and her father. David said to her, "Be faithful to thine oath, and open the door of my chamber to thy father as soon as I shall be asleep. Allah will protect me even in my sleep, and give me the means of rendering Saul's sword p. 183 harmless, even as Abraham's weapon was impotent against Ismael, who yielded his neck to the slaughter."
He then went into his forge, and prepared a coat of mail, which covered the whole upper part of his body from his neck downward. This coat was as fine as a hair, and, clinging to him like silk, resisted every kind of weapon; for David had been endowed, as a special favor from Allah, with the power of melting iron without fire, and of fashioning it like wax for every conceivable purpose, with no instrument but his hand.
To him we are indebted for the ringed coat of mail, for up to his time armor consisted of simple iron plates.
David was wrapped in the most peaceful slumber, when Saul, guided by his daughter, entered his chamber; and it was not until his father-in-law haggled the impenetrable mail with his sword as with a saw, bearing on it with all his strength, that David awoke, tore the sword from his hand, and broke it in pieces as if it had been a morsel of bread.
But after this occurrence, he thought it no longer advisable to tarry with Saul, and therefore retired to the mountains, with a few of his friends and adherents. Saul made use of this pretext to have him suspected of the people, and p. 184 at last, accusing him of treason, marched against him at the head of one thousand soldiers. But David was so endeared to the inhabitants of the mountain, and knew its hiding-places so well, that it was impossible for Saul to take him.
One night, while Saul was asleep, David left a cave which was quite near to the king's encampment, and took the signet ring from his finger, together with his arms and a standard which were lying by his side. He then retreated through the cave, which had a double entrance, and the next morning appeared on the pinnacle of a mountain which stood opposite to the camp of the Israelites, having girt on Saul's huge sword, and waving his standard up and down, and stretching out his finger on which he had placed the king's ring.
Saul, who could not understand how a thief could have penetrated into the midst of his well guarded camp, recognized David and the articles which had been taken from him. This new proof of his dexterity and magnanimous disposition overcame at last the king's envy and displeasure; he therefore dispatched a messenger, who in the royal name begged forgiveness for all the grievances he had inflicted, and invited David to return to his home.
David was overjoyed at a reconciliation with his father-in-law, and they now lived together in p. 185 peace and harmony until Saul was slain, in a disastrous engagement with the Philistines.
After Saul's death David was unanimously elected King of Israel, and by the help of Allah he soon reconquered the Philistines, and extended the boundaries of his kingdom far and wide.
But David was not only a brave warrior and a wise king, but likewise a great prophet. Allah revealed to him seventy psalms, and endowed him with a voice such as no mortal possessed before him. In height and depth, in power and melody combined, no human voice had ever equaled it. He could imitate the thunders of heaven and the roar of the lion as well as the delicious notes of the nightingale; nor was there any other musician or singer in Israel as long as David lived, because no one who had once heard him could take pleasure in any other performance. Every third day he prayed with the congregation, and sung the psalms in a chapel which was hewn out of the mountain rocks. Then not only all men assembled to hear him, but even beasts and birds came from afar, attracted by his wonderful song.
One day, as he was on his return from prayer, he heard two of his subjects contending which of the two was the greater prophet, Abraham or himself. "Was not Abraham," said the one, "saved from the burning pile?" "Has not David," p. 186 replied the other, "slain the giant Djalut?" "But what has David achieved," resumed the first, "that might be compared with Abraham's readiness to sacrifice his son?"
As soon as David came home, he fell down before Allah and prayed: "Lord, who hast proved on the pile Abraham's fidelity and obdience, grant unto me too an opportunity show unto my people that my love to thee withstands every temptation."
David's prayer was heard: when, three days afterward, he ascended his pulpit, he perceived a bird of such beautiful plumage that it attracted his whole attention, and he followed it with his eyes to every corner of the chapel, and to the trees and shrubs beyond. He sung fewer psalms than he was wont to do; his voice failed him as often as he lost sight of this graceful bird, and grew soft and playful in the most solemn parts of the worship whenever it reappeared.
At the close of the prayers, which, to the astonishment of the whole assembly, were concluded on this occasion several hours sooner than usual, he followed the bird, which flew from tree to tree, until he found himself, at sunset, on the margin of a little lake. The bird disappered in the lake, but David soon forgot it; for in its stead there rose up a female form, whose p. 187 beauty dazzled him like the clearest midday sun. He inquired her name: it was Saja, the daughter of Josu, the wife of Uriah Ibn Haman, who was with the army. David departed, and on his return commanded the chief of his troops to appoint Uriah to the most dangerous post in the vanguard of the army. His command was executed, and soon afterward the death of Uriah was reported. David then wooed his widow, and married her at the expiration of the prescribed time.
On the day after his marriage, there appeared, at Allah's command, Gabriel and Michael in human form before David, and Gabriel said, "The man whom thou seest here before thee is the owner of ninety-nine sheep, while I possess an only one; nevertheless, he pursues me without ceasing, and demands that I should give up my only sheep to him."
"Thy demand is unreasonable," said David, "and betrays an unbelieving heart and a rude disposition."
But Gabriel interrupted him, saying, "Many a noble and accomplished believer permits himself more unjust things than this."
David now perceived this to be an allusion to his conduct toward Uriah; and, filled with wrath, he grasped his sword,* and would have p. 188 plunged it into Gabriel; but Michael gave a loud laugh of scorn; and when Gabriel and himself had ascended above David's head on their angels' wings, he said to David, "Thou hast pronounced thine own sentence, and called thine act that of a barbarous infidel: Allah will therefore bestow upon thy son a portion of the power which he had originally intended for thee. Thy guilt is so much the greater, since thou prayedst p. 189 that thou mightst be led into temptation without having the power of resisting it."
At these words the angels vanished through the ceiling; but David felt the whole burden of his sin. He tore the crown from his head, and the royal purple from his body, and wandered through the wilderness wrapped in simple woolen garments, and pining with remorse, weeping so bitterly that his skin fell from his face, and that the angels in heaven had compassion on him, and implored for him the mercy of Allah. But it was not until he had spent three full years in penitence and contrition that he heard a voice from heaven, which announced to him that the All-compassionate Allah had at length opened the gate of mercy. Pacified and strengthened by these words of consolation, David soon recovered his physical powers and his blooming appearance, so that on his return to Palestine no one observed in him the slightest change.
But, during the king's long absence, many of the rabble, whom he had banished, gathered round his son Absalom, and made him king over Israel. He was therefore compelled, as Absalom would not renounce the throne, to make war against him. But no engagement took place; for when the prince was about to join his forces, Allah commanded the Angel of Death to take him from his horse and hang him on a tree by p. 190 his long hair, that to all future time rebellious sons might take warning by his fate. Absalom remained hanging there until one of David's chieftains passed by and slew him with the sword. But, although David soon came to be esteemed and beloved by his people as before, yet, mindful of what had taken place with the two angels, he ventured not again to execute judgment. He had already nominated a kadhi, who was to adjust in his stead all disputes that might arise, when the angel Gabriel brought him an iron tube with a bell, and said, "Allah has beheld thy diffidence with pleasure, and therefore sends thee this tube and bell, by means of which it will be easy for thee to maintain the law in Israel, and never to pronounce an unjust sentence. Suspend this tube in thy hall of judgment, and hang the bell in the midst thereof: place the accuser on one side of it, and the accused on the other, and always pronounce judgment in favor of him who, on touching the tube, elicits a sound from the bell." David was greatly delighted at this gift, by means of which he who was in the right was sure to triumph, so that soon no one dared to commit any injustice, since he was certain to be detected by the bell.
One day, however, there came two men before the judgment seat, one of whom maintained that he had given a pearl into the keeping of the p. 191 other, who now refused to restore it. The defendant, on the other hand, swore that he had already given it back. As usual, David compelled them both, one after the other, to touch the tube; but the bell uttered no sound, so that he did not know which of the two spake truth, and was inclined to doubt the farther virtue of the bell. But when he had repeatedly directed both to touch the tube, he observed that as often as the accused was to pass the ordeal, he gave his staff to be holden by his antagonist. David now took the staff in his own hand, and sent the accused once more to touch the tube, when instantly the bell began to ring aloud. David then caused the staff to be inspected, and behold, it was hollow, and the pearl in question was concealed within it. But on account of his thus doubting the value of the tube which Allah had given him, it was again removed to beaven, so that David frequently erred in his decisions, until Solomon, whom his wife Saja, the daughter of Josu, had borne him, aided him with his counsel. In him David placed implicit confidence, and was guided by him in the most difficult questions, for he had heard in the night of his birth the angel Gabriel exclaim, "Satan's dominion is drawing to its close, for this night a child is born, to whom Iblis and all his hosts, together with all his descendants, shall be subject. p. 192 The earth, air, and water, with all the creatures that live therein, shall be his servants: he shall be gifted with nine tenths of all the wisdom and knowledge which Allah has granted unto mankind, and understand not only all the languages of men, but those also of beasts and of birds.
One day—Solomon was then scarcely thirteen years of age—there appeared two men before the tribunal, the novelty of whose case cited the astonishment of all present, and even greatly confounded David. The accuser had bought some property of the other, and in clearing out a cellar, had found a treasure. He now demanded that the aceused should give up the treasure, since he had bought the property without it; while the other maintained that the accuser possessed no right to the treasure, since he had known nothing of it, and had sold the property with all that it contained. After long meditation, David adjudged that the treasure should be divided between them. But Solomon inquired of the accuser whether he had a son, and when he replied that he had a son, he inquired of the other if he had a daughter, and he also answering in the affirmative, Solomon said, "If you will adjust your strife so as not to do injustice one to the other, unite your children in marriage, and give them this treasure as their dowry."
On another occasion, there came a husbandman and accused a shepherd whose flock had pastured on the grain of his field. David sentenced the shepherd to give part of his flock in restitution to the husbandman; but Solomon disapproved of this judgment, and said, "Let the shepherd give up to the husbandman the use of his flock, their work, their milk, and their young ones, until the field shall be restored to the condition in which it was at the time of the flock's breaking in, when the sheep shall once more return to their owner."
David, however, one day observed that the high tribunal over which he presided beheld with displeasure the interference of Solomon in their transactions, although they were obliged to confess that his views were always better than their own. The king therefore demanded of them to examine Solomon, in the face of all the great and noble men of his kingdom, in all the doctrines and laws of Moses. "If you have satisfied yourselves," he added, "that my son knows these perfectly, and consequently never pronounces an unjust judgment, you must not slight him by reason of his youth, if his views regarding the application of the law often differ from mine and yours. Allah bestows wisdom on whomsoever he pleaseth."
The lawyers were indeed persuaded of Solomon's p. 194 erudition; nevertheless, hoping to confound him by all manner of subtle questions, and thus to increase their own importance, they accepted David's proposal, and made arrangements for a public examination. But their expectations were disappointed; for, before the last word of any question put to Solomon was yet pronounced, he had already given a striking answer, so that all present firmly believed that the whole matter had been arranged beforehand with his judges, and that this examination was instituted by David merely to recommend Solomon as his worthy successor to the throne. But Solomon at once effaced this suspicion, when, at the close of this examination he arose, and said to his judges, "You have exhausted yourselves in subtleties in the hope of manifesting your superiority over me before this great assembly; permit me now, also, to put to you a very few simple questions, the solution of which needs no manner of study, but only a little intellect and understanding. Tell me what is Every thing, and what is Nothing. Who is Something, and who is less than Nothing?" Solomon waited long; and when the judge whom he had addressed was not able to answer, he said, "Allah, the Creator, is Every thing, but the world, the creature, is Nothing. The believer is Something, but the hypocrite is less p. 195 than Nothing." Turning to another, Solomon inquired, "Which are the most in number, and which the fewest? What is sweetest, and what most bitter?" but as the second judge also was unable to find a proper answer to these questions, Solomon said, "The most numerous are the doubters, and they who possess a perfect assurance of faith are the fewest in number. The sweetest is the possession of a virtuous wife, excellent children, and a respectable competency; but a wicked wife, undutiful children, and poverty are the most bitter." Finally, Solomon put the following questions to a third judge: "Which is the vilest, and which the most beautiful? What the most certain, and what the least so?" But these questions also remained unanswered, until Solomon said, "The vilest thing is when a believer apostatizes, and the most beautiful when a sinner repents. The most certain thing is Death and the Last Judgment, and the most uncertain, Life and the Fate of the Soul after the resurrection. You perceive," he then continued, "it is not the oldest and most learned that are always the wisest. True wisdom is neither of years nor of learned books, but only of Allah, the All-wise."
Solomon excited by his words the greatest astonishment in all that were present; and the heads of the people exclaimed with one voice, p. 196 "Blessed be the Lord, who has given to our king a son who in wisdom surpasses all the men of his time, and who is worthy one day to sit on the throne of his father!"
David, in like manner, thanked Allah for the grace which he had shown to him in Solomon, and now only desired, before his death, to meet with his future companion in Paradise.
"Thy request is granted!" cried a voice from heaven; "but thou must go and seek him alone; and, in order to reach his presence, thou must renounce thy earthly pomp, and wander as a poor pilgrim through the world."
The next day David nominated Solomon as his representative, laid aside his royal robes, wrapped himself round with a simple woolen garment, put on his sandals, took a staff in his hand, and left his palace. He now wandered from city to city, and from village to village, inquiring every where for such of the inhabitants as were most distinguished for piety, and endeavoring to make their acquaintance; but for many weeks he found no one whom he had reason to consider as his destined companion in the life to come.
One day, on reaching a village on the shores of the Mediterranean Ocean, there arrived at the same time with him a poorly-clad aged man, who was carrying a heavy burden of wood on his head. The appearance of the hoary man p. 197 was so venerable, that David followed him to see where he lived. But he entered into no house at all, and sold his wood to a merchant who stood at the door of his warehouse, then gave to a poor man who begged him for alms the half of the little money which he had earned, bought with the rest a small loaf of bread, of which also he gave a large portion to a blind woman, who implored the compassion of the faithful, and then returned on his way to the mountain from whence he had come. "This man," thought David, "might well be my companion in Paradise; for his venerable appearance, and his actions which I have just witnessed, testify to a rare piety. I must therefore seek to become better acquainted with him." He then followed the aged man at some distance, until, after a march of several hours over steep mountains, crossed by deep ravines, the latter entered into a cave, which admitted the light of heaven through a crevice of the rock. David remained standing at the entrance of the cave, and heard how the hermit prayed fervently, and then read the Law and the psalms, until the sun had set. He then lighted a lamp, and pronounced the evening prayer, drew from his bag the bread which he had bought, and consumed about half thereof.
David, who had hitherto not ventured to disturb p. 198 the man in his devotions, now stepped into the cave and greeted him.
"Who art thou?" said the other, after having it returned the salutation; "for, save the GOD-fearing Mata Ibn Juhanna, King David's future companion in Paradise, I never saw any human being in these regions."
David gave his name, and begged for farther particulars respecting Mata.
But the hermit replied, "I am not permitted to point out to thee his dwelling; but if thou searchest this mountain with attention, it can not escape thee."
David now wandered up and down for a long time without finding any traces of Mata. He was on the point of returning to the hermit, in hopes of obtaining better directions, when, on an eminence, in the midst of the rocky ground, he discovered a spot which was quite moist and soft. "How singular," thought he, "that just here, on this pinnacle of a mountain, the ground should thus be moistened! Surely there can be no fountain here!" While he was thus standing absorbed in thought respecting this remarkable phenomenon, there descended on the other side of the mountain a man who was more like an angel than a human being; his looks were cast down to the earth, so that he did not observe David; but on the moistened spot he stood still, p. 199 and prayed with such fervency that his tears gushed like streams from his eyes. David now understood how it came to pass that the earth was so soaked, and thought, "A man who thus worships his God may well be my companion in Paradise." But he presumed not to address him till he heard how, among other things, he prayed. "My God, pardon the sin of King David, and preserve him from farther transgression! Be merciful to him for my sake, since thou hast destined me to be his companion in Paradise."
David now went toward him, but on reaching his presence he was dead.
He dug up the soft earth with his staff, washed him with the water that remained in his bottle, buried him, and pronounced over him the prayer of death. He then returned to his capital, and found in his harem the Angel of Death, who received him with the words, "Allah has granted unto thee thy request, but now thy life is ended."
"God's will be done!" replied David, and fell lifeless to the earth.
Gabriel then descended to comfort Solomon, and to bring him a heavenly robe, in which he was to wrap his father. All Israel followed his remains to the entrance of the cave where Abraham lies buried.
* The following narrative, which Samuel is made to utter, describes the Night Journey of Mohammed. He revealed it to his followers in the 12th year of his mission; and though his Arabs were given to the marvellous, yet this staggered even their credulity, p. 174 and would have proved his utter ruin but for the resolute interposition of Abu Bekr.—E. T.
* The Scriptures teach that David acknowledged his sin on p. 188 Nathan's reproof. The whole narrative is so beautiful, that we subjoin it, as given in 2 Sam., xii., 1-8, 13.
"And the Lord sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city, the one rich, and the other poor. The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up; and it grew up together with him, and with his children: it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. And there came a traveler unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him, but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him. And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die; and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity. And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; and I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would, moreover have given unto thee such and such things.
"And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord."