Page images

who standeth at our gates; and thou lovest him who doth not refuse him that asketh. We even have now come to thee beseeching : turn us not


Thus they continued praying from the rising of the dawn: and from that moment, until the sun declined from his meridian height, did God cause the plague to rage among them. Then he relieved them from it: then was it revealed unto David (peace be with him!) that they might lift

up their heads; for I have heard thy intercession for them. Then they raised their heads. And there had already died of them one hundred and seventy thousand, struck by the heavenly pestilence whilst prostrate in prayer. Then they beheld angels walking among them with great cimeters in their hands. David (peace be with him !) thus received support, and mounted the Rock, raising his hands, and prostrating himself to God in thanksgiving. After this, he assembled the sons of Israel, and said unto them, God, the ever adorable and great, hath had compassion upon you, and hath forgiven you. Render therefore to God a thank-offering, in proportion to the good thing which he hath done unto you. So they said unto him, What wouldest thou? He replied, I know nothing which can display more fully your thanks, than to build a place of worship, wherein

God may be adored, and wherein you, and those after you, may sanctify him. Then they said, So will we do. David therefore asked his Lord, who gave ear unto him. Then they zealously engaged in the building.

All this happened when he had reigned eleven years : but he died before he had accomplished the building, and enjoined his son Solomon (peace be with him!) to build it; which he did, and built it in nine years : and when he had finished it, the children of Israël feasted therein upon twelve thousand oxen. It is again said, that the cause of this was, that David (peace be with him !). saw angels, with flaming swords, ascending by a golden ladder from the Rock unto heaven. Then said David, This is a place whereon it is fitting that a Mosqué should be built to God Almighty. Thus therefore he built it; but, dying before it was completed, he enjoined Solomon to build it; who built it, and finished it.

Now, with regard to all the transactions of Solomon in building this, we are told as follows :- When God revealed unto Solomon that he should build him a Temple, Solomon, assembled all the wisest men, genii, and Afrites of the earth, and the mightiest of the devils, and appointed one division of them to build, ano. ther to cut blocks and columns from the marble

mines, and another to dive into the ocean-deeps, and fetch therefrom pearls and coral. Now, some of these pearls were like ostrich's or hen's eggs. So he began to build the Temple: but the building was found not to be firm; therefore he ordered it to be pulled down. Then he dug down into the earth until he came to the water. Then he began to found it upon the water: and they cast great stones into the water, which the water cast out again. Then Solomon called for the very best of his wise men, at the head of whom was Asaph, son of Barachias, and said, Give me your advice. Then they said, We think that thou shouldst take a pitcher of brass; then fill it with stones; then write upon it the writing which is upon thy signet-ring; then cast the pitcher into the water. Thus, then, they did ; and the pitcher fixed the foundation. Then they cast earth and stones thereupon, and built until the building attained some height. Then were the devils distributed by him into different sorts of labour; who were constantly engaged in the work. And he appointed one section of them to cut the quarries of jacinth and emerald. Thus they brought various kinds of precious stones. Also, the devils made highly-polished cemented blocks of marble, for the walls of the Mosque: and whenever they cut from the quarry a block, or a

column, the first of them threw it from him, and the nearest to him did the same, and so, one after the other, until it at last arrived at the Mosque. He also appointed a division of them to cut white marble; some of which was in the

quarry, as white as milk, of that kind which is called adamant ; but this was not like the adamant which is now to be seen in cities, in the hands of men, and is so named. This was from an adamantine quarry belonging to an Afrite of the devils ; which mine was in one of the islands of the ocean-deeps. Now these men were subject unto Solomon : therefore he sent unto this Afrite a letter, sealed with a signet-ring of iron; for his signet-ring was composed of brass and iron : with the brass he sealed his commands to the genii, and with iron to the devils. Now, this signet-ring had come down unto him from heaven : its exterior setting was white; but the part wherewith he impressed the seal was like blinding lightning: no one could long bear to look upon it. Now, therefore, when this mandate came to the Afrite, and he had come to Solomon, Solomon said unto him, Have you no device whereby to cut stones ? for I hate the sound of iron in this our Mosque. Then said the Afrite unto him, I know not in the heavens a bird stronger than the eagle, nor one more acute in expedients. So he set out to examine this eagle,

and found a nest, wherein were some young eagles, Thren they covered this nest over with a thick iron case. Then the eagle, coming unto her nest, and finding the iron case, began to strike on it, from above, with her feet, in order to push it away, or to break it: but not succeeding in this, she whirled and soared aloft into the sky, and, having delayed a day and a night, returned with a piece of adamant. Then the devils frightened her away, and, taking it from her, brought it unto Solomon; and by this adainant were the great stones cut. Moreover, we learn as follows, from Wahab:- When Solomon wished to build the Consecrated House, he said unto the devils, God hath commanded me to build him a house, wherein there shall not be one stone cut by iron. Therefore they said, No one has

power in this matter, except a certain devil, who dwells in the ocean-deeps, and who has a certain fountain, whither he comes to drink. They repaired, then, to this drinking-place, and, empty: ing all the water, put wine in its place. Thus did they: so, when this devil came to drink, he found out the smell, and said, Shall I drink, or shall I not drink? But however, being vehemently urged by thirst, he drank, and was captured. Now, whilst they were on the road, they met with a man buying garlic for onions; on which the devil laughed : then they passed by a woman telling

« PreviousContinue »