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engraving became visible, and the letters were transferred unto some tablets which they had; an exact fac-simile being made. When they returned to Ramlah, they made every inquiry among those who were skilled in languages; but none could be found who could translate the inscription. They at last were referred to a Shaikh of Aleppo. To him they carefully sent the engraved fac-simile ; and he sent the translation from Aleppo :-" In the name of my God and his God, the overshadowing Tabernacle, the Conqueror, the Leader into the right way, the Mighty, the irresistible Compeller; the tombs here found are these :- This first is the tomb of Rebecca, wife of Isaac; that, similar to it, is the tomb of Isaac ; that large one opposite is the tomb of Abraham ; that opposite to this last, on the eastern side, is the tomb of Sarah; the farthest tomb, answering to Abraham's tomb, is that of Jacob; the tomb near it on the east, is the tomb of Leah. Esau wrote these characters."
A most learned man asserts, upon positive evidence, the following :—That. Abú Bekr, the cobbler, surnamed the Pious, asserted as follows:
- The tomb of Abraham is in the place which now exists; and I have seen and beheld it with my own eyes; for I had devoted unto the doorkeeper, and the place generally, a great endow
ment and gift-nearly four thousand dinárs. AH the pious men and monks would frequently come unto me also, to converse upon subtle, and pleasant, and glorious matters, and examine the root of things. One day, they being all assembled together, I said unto them, I beseech you to allow me to pass the entrance to the cavern, that I may
descend to see the prophets. They replied, We will consent to this; for this is our established right: but this is not the season; for there are many night-travellers. Therefore be patient until winter comes. When, then, winter began, and January commenced, I went unto them. Then they said, Remain with us until the snow falls. So I remained until the snow fell and cut off all night-travellers. Then they came unto a spot lying between the tomb of Abraham and the tomb of Isaac. They raised the pavement, and there went down with us a man named Salúk, who was a man of probity, excellence, and good faith. I went with him. So he walked on, and I after him; and we descended seventy-two steps; and then I beheld, on my right hand, a great sarcophagus of black stone, upon which was an old man with scanty hair, long beard, and in a green dress, and lying on his back. So said Salúk unto me, This is Isaac. Passing on then a little, we came unto a larger sarcophagus than the first.
Thereon was a Shaikh, lying on his back, between whose arms all was grey-haired, his head and beard being white, his two veils (or eye-lashes) and the borders of his eyes (eye-brows) being white also. Beneath his grey hair was his green robe. His person was most beautiful, and the wind gently waved his grey hair on the right and left. Then said Salúk, This is Abraham. And I fell on my face, and prayed to God the prayer which occurred unto me. We passed on, and came to a lightly-skilfully-carved sarcophagus. Thereon was a brown dark old man--very brown indeed ; his beard was short, crisp, and curly, and thick. Beneath his shoulders was his green robe, most resplendently green. Then said Salúk, This is Jacob. Then we turned aside, and went on to examine the deep venerable Recess.
Here Abú Bekr, the cobbler, swore that his story was finished : but Salúk being subsequently entreated by the narrator to tell him some excellent idea as a means of preservation from sin and wickedness, and being moreover asked concerning this adventure, and more especially what they saw, and what occurred in the Venerable Recess, at first made some difficulty, saying, Hath not Abú Bekr informed you? But the narrator replying, I wish to hear it again from you, he said, When we turned aside towards the Recess, we
heard a loud voice exclaiming, “ Turn ye away from the Forbidden Place! God be merciful unto you!” Upon this, we fell into a swoon. After a time we arose and stood up; but we despaired of our lives, and all others despaired of
Nevertheless, both Abú Bekr and Salúk lived after this adventure many prosperous days. God's mercy be with them !
A certain Kádí of Palestine is said to have pointed out the true site of Abraham's tomb to an old man, a youth, and a boy, successively; observing, that the best way of preventing dissensions in preserving traditions was to communicate them simultaneously unto successive generations ; whereby novelties and heresies were avoided. In the book entitled The Wonderful Novelties of the Superexcellence of the Rule of Islám,' in the chapter on the village of Abraham, it is said, Herein is a stronghold of great extent, thought to have been built by genii.
It is built of great stones, sculptured and carved. In the midst is a chapel of beautiful stone, over the tomb of Abrahamn. The tomb of Isaac is in front, in a niche, and the tomb of Jacob at the farther end, over against the tomb of all his wife's sons. The Genii constructed this Mosque, and built around it a convent for devotees. Here is contrived a cloister on every side ; and there monks have a
canal of water flowing unseen. In the middle of this village is a place of public hospitality; and on each side of the village are rooms for travellers, vineyards, grapes, and apples, the yearly produce of which is carried into Egypt. In this village is kept up continual hospitality; herein are cooks, and bakers, and servants, who are appointed to present olive-berries and lentils unto the pious divines present. When they have partaken, it is presented to the rich.
As for the discovery of the tomb of Joseph; that tomb is said to be in the platform behind the wall, over against Jacob's tomb. The Khalíf Al-Muktadir-Billah came to the Holy Land, and was informed by an old woman, who was standing in the Baitu-l-Mukaddas, that this place was really Joseph's burial-place. The Khalíf employed workmen, and, having purchased the spot from the owners, cleared it of all building, and examined it, and found a great stone. He broke off a piece from it, and lifted it up, and saw Joseph, in all his beauty and gracefulness of form. The air of the spot was deeply impregnated with sweet scent. Then came a vehement wind, and the workmen closed up the stone of the pavement as it was before ; and the Khalíf built the chapel thereon, which now remains. A most veritable story is told, of an excellent