« PreviousContinue »
of judgment. All this happened as a testimony among men, who, when they saw it, glorified God; and a great number believed, unknown to Nimrod. Abraham then walked from the spot, and Gabriel departed from him. He then advanced from the place of his descent, and Nimrod sent unto him to inquire about his dress and his companion; when he said, This truly is an angel whom God sent unto me. Then he told him the story, and Nimrod said, Surely the God whom thou servest is a great God. I will offer sacrifice unto him on account of the glory and the might displayed by him in regard to thee, because thou hast persisted in serving him. Hereon he sacrificed 4000 oxen. After this, he again differed from Abraham, and broke off from him, saying, One day, I beseech thee to depart from my country whereunto thou wilt. He consented ; and, departing with his household, came to Edessa. After this, he removed in succession to Aleppo, Syria, the Holy Land, and Mecca. He was the first who fled from his abode of the God-endowed, in order to preserve his faith ; and, for that he did this, God in requital granted unto him that all believers should penetrate unto and centre in him, from all extremities of the earth.
Now for his generous hospitality ; also his Friendship and its approximation unto him of
especial right. It is said that whenever Abraham made a feast, or wished to eat, he went out a mile or two, to lay hands on some one to eat with him. Therefore he was surnamed the Father of Hospitality; and truly he was sincerely devoted unto hospitality; whence hospitality is in great repute even unto our days. And he never allowed day or night to end without having some guest to eat with him ; whence, unto this day, no place can be closed at night against a guest. It is said that a certain powerful nobleman, having a large clan of followers at Damascus, and of great worship, came unto our Lord the Friend, to visit him, at certain appointed seasons. Upon these occasions Abraham always presented a feast, according to his usual custom, unto all visitants. During the feast, Abraham would look on, but eat nothing. This man, then, once coming, found Abraham sorrowful. Being urgently pressed to tell the reason, he said that he eagerly desired to pick up whatever was left in the dish, and whatever remained of the pieces of bread and crumbs, and to eat them. This I beheld him do, said the abovenamed nobleman; and he, moreover, said unto me, I should not have eaten any part of our feast, had not thy visit previously taken place. Since this has occurred, I now eat.
It is, moreover, traditionally asserted, that God
granted unto Abraham abundance of possessions and servants, and that he then constructed a house of hospitality. This house had two gates ; by one of which the stranger entered, and by the other departed. Here he made a pavilion, and laid up summer and winter clothing, and had always a table ready prepared with food upon it. Then the guest ate, and was clothed if he were naked. And thus liberally Abraham behaved at all times. Also, when Abraham presented a heifer unto his guests, and saw their hands not raised in prayer, he said unto them, Wherefore do ye not eat? They replied, We will not eat food except we pay the price. So he said, Then have you not the price? Then I will tell you the price. Call upon the name of God when ye eat, and praise him when ye finish. Hereupon they said, Praise be unto God! If it were fit and proper
that God should choose a friend out of his own creatures, surely, Abraham, he would take thee. And God did choose him as his Friend ; and the angels beheld Abraham's augmented good, and the gifts he received of worldly wealth; yet, in his admiration of all this, he was drawn aside from God during the twinkling of an eye.
It is said that, though externally good, he knew no sure revealed means of adoring God; but
praised him within his heart. God, therefore, taught him how to speak articulately the Praising and Exalting Words; for he commanded two of the most glorious of the angels, Michael and Gabriel, to descend unto him.
These angels were commanded to ask hospitality of him, and to converse with him about his Lord, and, raising their voices, to sing the words ascribing thanks and holiness unto God. They came therefore, and besought Abraham to listen to their entreaty. He immediately gave them audience in his house (they were in the form of the sons of Adam). Then he agreed to their desire, and gave them a splendid abode, and appointed them a place wherein to lodge. It happened, then, on a certain night, when Abraham was talking with them by the light of the moon, that one of them lifted up his voice and said, Praise to the Holy King! he who is possessed of power and dominion. Then the other lifted up his head and said, in a voice which Abraham had never heard before, Praise be to the Holy King! This threw Abraham into a fainting fit, and he was no longer master of himself, from his eager desire and restless feelings. After a time he rose up again, and said, Repeat unto me the words ye have just pronounced. They said, Why should we do so, unless thou give us something of value. So he said, Take
whatever you choose. But they said, Give us what thou wilt. So he said, I will give you all my sheep, which are very numerous. This satisfied them : therefore, raising their voices, they chanted as before. Abraham again therefore fainted away; and when he arose, knowing that they would not chant without some valuable gift, he gave
them all his cows. And he thus continued to be deeply delighted and drowned in pleasure at the chanting of these words, and to add to his gifts, until he had given them all his property and all his household; and nothing remained but himself. Then he sold himself to them, and begged them to regard him as their slave, and fixed his manumission at a high price. They accordingly consented to receive him himself. After this, he said unto them, Now give me one more chant as a free gift. Then they said, Truly it is just that God should choose thee for his Friend. Then they intimated to him that they were angels; and Abraham smiled, and said, Truly my guardian and provider is God. Then they said, Take hold of God's blessing upon thee and upon thy race. And God graciously gave good gifts unto the rest of his race, and all their posterity, and auymented their blessing and their joy, and caused his line to extend from that day to this, and to the day of judgment, please God !