Page images

O my

positive declaration, that God hath forgiven his sins.

Kaab also says, that no one who visits duly the tomb of Abraham shall depart without beholding the accomplishment of his wishes, sooner or later; for none shall ask a gift in Abraham's name, but God shall grant it. A certain historian, more. over, has the following: :-“A certain man of Baalbec said, We were performing pilgrimage at the tomb of Abraham, and with us was a certain man of Baalbec. We heard this man, whilst visiting the Chapel, weeping, and saying, O friend! O Abraham ! ask of thy Lord that such a one, and such a one, may be requited on my account; for they have injured me. At this we laughed, and were surprised at his speech; but on our return, after a space, to Jaffa, a relative arrived from Bairoot, wherein was a man of Baalbec. From this quarter news arrived that the three persons whom the man had named were dead. Blessed, says another learned person, is he who hath visited Abraham's tomb; blessed is he whose sins God doth remit, although they were every one like a mountain ; for God hath established a conjunction of will between himself and Abraham.”

Now for all that is told of his parent, and the

story of his endurance in the fire, &c. When God willed to send Abraham as a sure sign and evidence unto his people, and as an apostle for his service, Nimrod saw in a dream a star wbich, rising, outshone the sun and the moon, until no light remained. Being greatly alarmed at this, he' assembled the priests and sorcerers, and questioned them about this. They replied, A child will be born this year, in this country, who will destroy thee, and seize thy kingdom into his hand. Upon this Nimrod commanded every male child from within that year, to be put to death, and commanded the men to be separated from their wives, and appointed a trusty person to guard every pregnant woman, who murdered the child when born. Thus, all the women were shut up, except Abraham's mother, whose pregnancy they knew not, and its visible appearance was concealed. Nimrod, it is said, also assembled all the males into one army, and secluded them from their wives, dreading the birth of the aforesaid child ; and whilst engaged with this army,

if Nimrod found any needful business to be transacted in the city, he trusted no one but Azar. This was before the pregnancy of Abraham's mother. He sent then to Azar, and entrusted him with the work of necessity he wished to be performed, and said, I should not have sent for thee,

had I not perfect confidence in thee; but I positively enjoin thee not to go near thy household. Azar replied, I will hold to my promise in that matter. Azar accordingly entered the city, and, having completed his commission, began to be think him of entering his house hold, to inquire how they were, and to arrange any affairs; but he here forgot the injunction and prohibition of Nimrod, and his wife in consequence conceived. When he was as yet unborn, the idols were overturned, and the stars of Abraham rose brightly. They were two small stars; one in the East, and one in the West. Nimrod, seeing these, felt his anxiety renewed, and his fear augmented. When, then, the time of his birth drew near, God sent unto Abraham's mother an angel, endowed with the most beautiful form ever assumed by the sons of Adam. He touched her with his hand, and stilled her fear, and gave her joyful intelligence as to the great estate and authority to which the infant was destined.

But when the time of her delivery drew near, he said, Come with me. She rose up then, and followed him. He conducted her until he brought her into a cave, wherein were all things necessary, and which was remote from men. Here she easily (by God's aid) gave birth unto Abraham, on the night of Friday--the tenth night-a night

lengthened tenfold ; and in the morning Gabriel came and clothed him in white raiment. Then the mother returned to her abode, leaving the child in the cave.

Also Nimrod, having been for a long time absent, returned to his country to settle and arrange affairs which were of importance. Whilst, one day, then sitting upon his throne, a tremendous crash was heard behind him, and a voice cried out, “He shall perish who believeth not in the God of Abraham.” Then he said to Azar, Didst thou hear the voice which I heard ? He replied, Certainly. Then he said, Who, then, is Abraham ? But Azar said, I know not. Then he sent unto the priests and soothsayers; but they could inform him of nothing by their learning. This happened on the day Abraham was born. After that, voices continually pursued Nimrod, and beasts and birds began to speak articulately the same words; so that Nimrod could not pass by any place without hearing the cry, “He shall perish who believeth not in Abraham's God.” Nimrod also saw another terrific vision. He saw the moon rising up from Azar's back, whose light appeared like a pillar of fire, extending between heaven and earth. He heard also one saying, “ Truth hath come, and folly shall perish ; and truth shall triumph over idols, which shall be

overturned from their pedestals."

pedestals.” This struck him senseless with alarm. He related his vision to Azar, who was in fear for himself, and said, This is to warn me to augment my adoration of thee. Now Nimrod, being sometimes very foolish, was satisfied with Azar's word, and held his peace. He afterwards went with Azar to visit the idols. They were standing upon their pedestals; but, when Azar's eye fell upon them, they all fell down from their pedestals. And when Azar fell down prostrate to worship, God gave them the power of articulate speech, and they said, “O Azar! truth hath come, and vanity shall be annihilated. That against which Nimrod took such precautions hath been accomplished unto him.”

After this, Azar entered his house, having surmised that his wife was pregnant; and seeing her very merry, he asked the cause ; when she said, He who took care to provide that nb son should be born is as he who should provide that no wind should blow. Then he cast his eyes upon her and saw the truth. : Thus God caused forgetfulness and incautiousness to possess Nimrod in the matter of Abraham.” His mother then continued to visit the cave once every three days, to see how he was, and to provide for his comfort; and once, when she came there, she found cattle and birds at the gate of the cave.

She was

« PreviousContinue »