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502 The Jewish Quarterly Review.
JOSEPH ZABARA AND HIS "BOOK OF DELIGHT."
Joseph Zabaea 1 has only in recent times received the
consideration due to him as a poet. Yet his Book of
Delight, finished about the year 1200, 2 is more tban a
poetical romance. It is a golden link between folk-
literature and imaginative poetry. The poem is of con-
siderable length ; but while the framework is original, the
stories and sayings, which are incidentally introduced, are
compiled, not invented. Hence, to the folklorist, the poem
is as valuable as to the literary critic. For though Zabara's
compilation is similar to such well known models as the
Book of Sindibad, the Kalilah Vedimnah, and others of the
class, yet its appearance in Europe is half a century earlier
than the translations by which those other products of the
East became part of the popular literature of the Western
world. Thus, at the least, the Book of Delight is an im-
portant addition to the scanty store of the folk-lore records
of the early part of the thirteenth century.
As a poet and writer of Hebrew, Joseph Zabara's place
1 The Constantinople edition spells the name n"lK3T, the Paris edition
K"OT, Joseph Kimchi (Ozar Neehmad, I. 106), spells it in the former
manner. See also HamazMr, viii. 89. But, for the whole question of
Kimchi's supposed citation of Zabara, see Steinsohneider in Hamazhir,
xiii. 106 and 113, especially the latter place, where much information
will be found. On the identification of 13T with Zabara, see Sachs'
Introduction to the Paris edition, and Steinschneider's Die Hebr.
Uehersetz., pp. 441 and 989. Senior Sachs gives some reasons for holding
that the poet's father was named Meir.
2 I fix this date by a phrase used in the Constantinople edition. Here
Sheshet Benveniste is described by Zabara as }pTD N*3Jn (the phrase is
absent from the Paris edition). Sheshet Benveniste (G-raetz, Geschichte,
VI. note 1) was born in 1131. He would thus not be seventy until 1201,
and Zabara would hardly have used the term JpTfl unless Sheshet was
Joseph Zabara and his " Book of Delight." 503
is equally significant. He was probably the first 1 to write
Hebrew in rhymed prose, with interspersed snatches of
verse, 2 the form invented by Arabian poets, and much
esteemed as the medium for story-telling, and for writing
social satire. The best and best-known specimens of this
form of poetry in Hebrew, are Charizi's Taehkemoni, and
his translation of Hariri. But, though Zabara has less art
than Charizi, and far less technical skill, yet in him are all
the qualities in the bud which Charizi's poems present in
the full-blown flower. The reader of Zabara feels that
other poets will develop his style and surpass him ; the
reader of Charizi knows of a surety that in him the style
has reached its climax.
Of Joseph Zabara little is known beyond what may be
gleaned from a discriminating study of the Book of Delight.
That this romance is largely an autobiography in fact, just
as it is in form, there can be no reasonable doubt. The
poet writes with so much indignant warmth of the people
of certain cities, of their manner of life, their morals and
their culture, that one can only infer that he is relating his
personal experiences. That Zabara, like the hero of his
romance, travelled much during the latter portion of the
twelfth century, is known from the researches of Geiger. 3
He was born in Barcelona, and returned there to die. But
in the interval, we find him an apt pupil of Joseph Kimchi,
in Narbonne. Joseph Kimchi, the founder of the famous
Kimchi family, carried to Provence the culture of Spain ;
1 Mr. Joseph Jacobs, to whom I owe many valuable suggestions, has
proved that Berachya Nakdan, who also wrote in rhymed prose, lived at
the end of the twelfth century. It is thus doubtful whether to him
or to Zabara belongs the distinction of introducing this form into Hebrew.
It has been conjectured that Berachya visited Narbonne, where Zabara
also studied under Joseph Kimchi. It is possible that the latter was the
inventor of the style.
2 I have not translated any of these poetical snatches (of which there
are more in the Constantinople edition than in the Paris), as thei» literary
merit is small.
s Ozar Nechmad, I. p. 106, etc.
K K 2
504 The Jewish Quarterly Review.
and Joseph Zabara may have acquired from him his
mastery over Hebrew which our poet writes with purity
and admirable simplicity. 1 The difficulties presented in
some passages of the Booh of Delight are entirely due
to the corrupt state of the text. Joseph Kimchi, who
flourished in Provence from 1150 to 1170, quotes Joseph
Zabara twice, with approval, in explaining verses in
Proverbs. It would thus seem that Joseph Zabara, in his
student days, was already devoted to the proverb-lore on
which he draws so lavishly in his maturer work.
Dr. Steinschneider, to whom belongs the credit of re-
discovering Zabara in modern times, 2 says that the poet
was probably a physician. There is more than probability
in the case ; there is certainty. The romance is built by a
doctor : there is more talk of medicine in it than of any
other topic of discussion. Moreover the author, who denies
that he is much of a Talmudist, accepts the compliment
paid to him by his visitor, Enan, that he is " skilled and
well-informed in the science of medicine." 3 There is, too,
a professional tone about many of the quips and gibes in
which Zabara indulges concerning doctors. "A philoso-
pher," says Zabara, " was sick unto death, and his doctor
gave him up ; yet the patient recovered. The convalescent
was walking in the street when the doctor met him.
'You come,' said he, 'from the other world.' 'Yes,'
rejoined the patient, ' I come from there, and I saw
there the awful retribution that falls on the doctors ;
for they kill their patients. Yet do not feel alarmed. You
1 Some of Zabara's phrases are a little strange, and possibly suggest
that the author was translating from a non-Semitic language. But the
linguistic evidence for this is very slight, and I should be disinclined to
base any argument on it. The phrases are just as probably Greek as
Romance, and Zabara may have been using an Arabic translation of a
Greek text. On the other hand, some of the words used strengthen the
argument in favour of the theory that Zabara may have had a Romance
text before him when compiling some of his stories.
2 Ersch unci Griiber, ii. 31, article "Joseph Zabara."
:t Paris edition, p. 31.
Joseph Zabara and his " Book of Delight." 505
will not suffer. I told them on my oath that you are no
doctor.' ' n Again, in one of the poetical interludes (found
only in the Constantinople edition) occurs this very pro-
fessional sneer : — " A doctor and the Angel of Death both
kill, but the former charges a fee." Who but a doctor
would enter into a scathing denunciation of the current
diagnosis, which Zabara does in a sarcastic passage which
Erter must unconsciously have imitated ? And if further
proof be needed that Zabara was a man of science, the
evidence is forthcoming ; for Zabara several times appeals
to experiment in proof of his assertions. 2
The life of Joseph ben Meir Zabara 3 was apparently
not a happy one. He left Barcelona in search of learning
and comfort ; he found the former, but the latter eluded
him. It is hard to say from the Book of Delight whether
he was a woman-hater or not. On the one hand he says
many pretty things about women, and the moral of the
first section of the romance is : Put your trust in women ;
while the moral of the second section of the poem is : A
good woman is the best part of man. But, though this
is so, Zabara does undoubtedly quote a large number
of stories, full of point and sting — stories which tell of
women's wickedness and infidelity, of their weakness of
intellect and fickleness of will. His philogynist tags
hardly compensate for his misogynist satires. He runs
with the hare and hunts with the hounds. But Oriental
satire directed against women must not be taken too
seriously. As Gudemann has shown, the very Jews who
wrote most bitterly of women were loud in praises of their
own wives — the women whom alone they knew intimately.
Woman was the standing butt for men to hurl their darts
at, and one cannot help feeling that a good deal of the fun
1 Paris edition, p. 24.
2 Ibid., p. 32. In the Constantinople edition there are two other
instances of experimental proofs.
s Senior Sachs argues with plausibility in favour of the supposition
that Zabara's father was named Meir.
506 The Jewish Quarterly Review.
got its point from the knowledge that the charges were
exaggerated or untrue. You find the Jewish satirists
exhausting all their stores of drollery over the subject of
rollicking drunkenness. They roar till their sides creak
over the humour of the wine-bibber. They laugh at him
and with bim. They turn again and again to the subject,
which with the Jewish poets shares the empire with
women. Yet we know well enough that the writers of
these Hebrew Anacreontic lyrics were sober men, who
rarely indulged in over-much strong drink. In short, the
mediaeval Jewish satirists were gifted with much of what
is now foolishly styled the " new humour." Joseph Zabara
was a new humourist. He has the quaint subtlety of the
author of the Ingoldsby Legends, and the exaggeration of
trifles which is the stock-in-trade of the Anglo-American
school of modern funny men. Woman plays with him the
part that the mother-in-law played with the latter a
generation ago. In Zabara, again, there is a good deal of
mere rudeness, which the author seems to mistake for
cutting repartee. This, I take it, is another characteristic
of the so-called new humour.
The probable explanation of the marked divergence
between Zabara's stories and the moral he draws from
them lies, however, a little deeper. The stories themselves
are probably Indian in origin ; hence they are marked by
the tone hostile to woman so characteristic of Indian folk
lore. On the other hand, if Zabara himself was a friendly
critic of woman, his own moralisings in her favour are
explained. This theory is by no means upset by the fact
mentioned below, 1 for those stories, too, are translations,
and Zabara cannot be held responsible for their contents.
The selection in his day must have been restricted within
very narrow limits.
Zabara's reading must have been extensive. He knew
something of astronomy, philosophy, the science of physio-
1 See page 510.
Joseph Zabara and his "Book of Delight." 507
gnomy, 1 music, mathematics and physics, and a good deal
of medicine. He was familiar with Arabian collections of
proverbs and tales, for he several times informs his readers
that he was drawing on Arabic sources. He knew the
Choice of Pearls, the Midrashic Stories of King Solomon, the
Maxims of the Philosophers, the Proverbs of the Wise ; but not
Sendabar in its Hebrew form. 2 His acquaintance with the
language of the Bible was thorough ; but he makes one or
two blunders in quoting the substance of Scriptural
passages. Though he disclaimed the title of a Tal-
mudical scholar, he was not ignorant of the Rabbinical
literature. Everyone quotes it : the fox, the woman,
Enan, and the author. He was sufficiently at home
in this literature to pun therein. He also knew the
story of Tobit, but as he introduces it as " a most
marvellous tale " it is clear that this book of the
Apocrypha was not widely popular in his day. The story,
as Zabara tells it, differs considerably from the Apocryphal
version of it. The incidents are misplaced, the story of
the betrothal is disconnected with that of the recovery of
the money by Tobit, the incident of the gallows occurs in
no other known text of the story. In one point, Zabara's
version strikingly agrees with the Hebrew and Chaldee
texts of Tobit as against the Greek ; Tobit's son is not
accompanied by a dog on his journey to recover his
father's long-lost treasure.
One of the tales told by Zabara seems to imply a phe-
nomenon of the existence of which there is no other
evidence. There seem to have been in Spain a small class
1 In the Constantinople edition there is, near the beginning, a long
passage (absent from the Paris edition), concerning the relations between
a man's bodily peculiarities, such as his stature and so forth, and his
character. There was in particular a prejudice against men of exceptional
height ; they were regarded as mostly fools. (Cf. i"P21D nK'yD, I. 4.)
2 Zabara does not seem to have known Adelard's Questions. Only two
of them (Nos. 32 and 51) occur in the long string of queries and answers
which figure in the Booh of Delight.
508 The Jewish Quarterly Review.
of Jews who were secret converts to Christianity. They
passed openly for Jews, but were in truth Christiana. The
motive for the concealment is unexplained. 1
It remains for me to describe the texts now extant of the
Booh of Delight. In 1865 the Sefer Shaashuim appeared,
from a fifteenth century MS. in Paris, in the second
volume of a Hebrew periodical called the Lebanon. In
the following year the late Senior Sachs wrote an intro-
duction to it, and to two other publications, which were
afterwards issued together under the title Yen Lebanon,
Paris, 1866. The editor was aware of the existence of
another text, but, strange to tell, he did not take the trouble
to examine it. Had he done this, his own edition would
have been greatly improved. For the Bodleian Library
possesses another copy of the Book of Delight, undated
and without place of issue, but printed in Constantinople
in 1577. The editor was Isaac Akrish, as we gather from a
marginal note to the version of Tobit given by Joseph
Zabara. This Isaac Akrish was a travelling bookseller,
who printed interesting little books, and hawked them
about. Dr. Steinschneider points out 2 that the date of
Isaac Akrish's edition can be approximately fixed by the
type. The type is that of the Jaabez press, established in
Constantinople and Salonichi in 1560. This Constantinople
edition is not only fuller than the Paris, it is, on the whole,
more accurate. It is a good deal longer than the Paris
edition, and the chief additions will be indicated in the
notes below. The verbal variations between the two
editions are extremely numerous, but the greater accu-
racy of the Constantinople edition shows itself in many
1 See the story, page 524 below. If the story was taken straight from
an Arabic source, the introduction of the crucifix is explained. The story
may have been originally about the Druses, or Nestorian Christians ; but,
if so, it would be strange that Zabara should not have seen the inappro-
priateness of the tale for Jewish readers. I am inclined to think that
Zabara was aiming a blow at some section of the Barcelonian Jews.
2 JSrsch und Gruber, ii. 28, p. 39; andii. 31, p. 93.
Joseph Zabara and his " Book of Delight." 509
ways. The rhymes are much better preserved, though
the Paris edition is occasionally superior in this re-
spect. But many passages in the Paris edition which are
quite unintelligible, are clear enough in the Constanti-
nople edition. One or two instances will suffice to prove
this. On p. 14 P. reads: rasb m^nn vwrai -ipm aipsi
'n VW\n nnroi m« THEN, which is nonsense. C. reads
"liann for msian, which at once restores the meaning.
Near the end of page 36, P. reads : "O anBn bwo ins"''!
V~in bv I3"«»bi wth naa^i • y-rip varw -ininn issn.
The word natt?^ is unintelligible, but C. reads "03JOBP1, which
is quite easy. Worst of all is the reading in P. of the name
of the gigantic visitor, Enan. P. calls him win p, while O,
rightly, gives his name as l&in p, which, inverted, makes
Tl»n p. It is strange that Sachs, in his preface, gives the
name correctly, while in the text itself the name is wrongly
printed. Again, C. is better in calling the hero of the story
given on page 520, below, pa, while P. calls him ]tn. So, in
another # story, C. has "THD, while P. has •»D"iQ; the latter
reading destroys the relevancy of the pointed reference in
the tale to tilling the ground. O, again, is better in having
ffip for *)12, and in several places the sense of a passage
is lost in P. through its omissions. A striking example
may be seen in P., page 36, where Enan's anger is quite
unjustifiable ; but in C. the hero Joseph has several lines
of violent abuse of Enan. That P. has been edited, is clear
from one or two minor points. Thus in the story of the
singer, C. describes the tree as naaNTO, or orange ; the word
does not appear in P. Again, the Paris edition omits a
passage in the description of Enan's friend, which might
have been thought defamatory of Christianity. 1 The last
lines of P. imply that the copy was made at a time of
trouble; and the absence of rhyme itself throws suspicion
on the genuineness of the passage: laV^ vama 'n
pw )is~i tt» pi bvnar* yav nnsb *n "lawi nnsn nutbna.
> ^rn jnns Kin »a 'fa b"k bib vnaai away non inon px
510 The Jewish Quarterly Review.
There was nothing in the condition of the Jews of Bar-
celona in 1200 to call for this sentiment. C. closes, more
appropriately, thus : * nntwrt 02 noarb "WOr mpan
arc * wis 02 tapbn sa?^ ♦ unw ma lapsa mam
)B« ? VTon.
In the Constantinople edition, the Sefer Shaashuim is
preceded by three other items, (a) D^NDynn nasa ; (b) ma
naabN ; (c) nt»S WO lasa. These, according to Stein-
schneider (and from a careful perusal of them I am inclined
to agree with him), are also by Joseph Zabara. 1 They
belong, I think, to the Boole of Delight itself, and ought
to be inserted in the " Leopard " section, as they
are tales with strong bias against women. I should say
that the copy of this edition, possessed by the Bodleian, is
unique, no other copy is extant. Leopold Dukes had it
copied some thirty years ago, but he appears to have made
no use of his copy. 2 My own copy was made for me in
1887 by Mr. Spero. 3
The gigantic visitor of Joseph, the narrator, and un-
doubtedly the author himself, is a strange being. Like
the guide of Gil Bias on his adventures, he is called
a demon, and he glares and emits smoke and fire. But
he proves amenable to argument, and quotes the story
of the washerwoman to show how it was that he became
a reformed devil. This devil quotes the Rabbis, and is
easily convinced that it is unwise for him to wed an
ignorant bride. It would seem as though Zabara were, on
the one hand, hurling a covert attack against some one
1 See particularly Die Hebr. Uebersetz., p. 658.
2 He often refers to the Sefer Shaashuim, quoting the Paris edition
e.g., in his PhilosopJiisches aus dew Zehnten Jahrlmndert, p. 109. The
poem is also quoted in the D"n "llpO to im^J?M '2 and end of ^ nW 'B
in mien mm, p. 125. See also Steinschneider, JUn p T\\X\Yi, 'p. 7,
and p^nn, VIII., p. 149, note 2 ; Dukes' Orient, 1850, pp. 250 and 299.
s Mr. S. Scheohter and I hare long intended to re-edit the Booh of
Delight. I am indebted to Mr. Schechter for much valuable help in
writing this essay. Professor Kauf mann is about to edit the book.
Joseph Zabara and his " Book of Delight." 511
who had advised him to leave Barcelona to his own
hurt, while, on the other hand, satirising the eurrrent
beliefs of Jews and Christians in evil spirits. More than
one passage, as we have already seen, is decidedly anti-
Christian, and I should not be surprised if the framework
of the romance was polemical in intention. Certainly the
framework is fresher and more elaborate than one would
expect in a mere imitation.
In the summary of the book which follows, I have only
in one case (see page 522 below) attempted to reproduce
the rhymed prose of the original Hebrew. This form of
poetry is unsuited to the English language, and is indis-
tinguishable from doggrel. I have not translated at full
length, but I have endeavoured to reproduce Zabara
accurately without introducing thoughts foreign to him.
I offer no elaborate theory on the folk-lore of the poem.
I shall be greatly mistaken, however, if the collection of
stories that follow does not prove of considerable interest
to those engaged in the tracking of fables to their native
lairs. Here, in Zabara, we have an earlier instance than was
previously known in Europe of an intertwined series of
fables and witticisms, partly Indian, partly Greek in origin,
welded together by the Hebrew poet by means of a frame-
work. The use of the framework by a writer in Europe
in the year 1200 is itself noteworthy. But Mr. Joseph
Jacobs, who has already proved of much service to me, has
promised to deal with this part of the subject at no very
The Giant Guest.
Once on a night, I, Joseph, lay upon my bed, and my sleep was
sweet upon me, my one return for all my toil. Things there are
which weary the soul and rest the body, others that weary the body
and rest the soul, but sleep brings calm to the body and the soul at
once While I slept, I dreamt ; and a gigantic but manlike
figure appeared before me, rousing me from my slumber. " Arise,
thou sleeper, rouse thyself and see the wine while it is red ; come sit
thee down and eat of what I provide." It was dawn as I hastily rose,
and I saw before me wine, bread and viands ; and in the man's hand
512 The Jewish Quarterly Review.
was a lighted lamp, -which cast a glare into every corner. I answered
and said, " What are these, my master.'' " My wine, my bread, my
viands ; come eat and drink with me, for I love thee as one of my
mother's sons.'' And I thanked him, but protested : "I cannot eat or
drink till I have prayed to the Orderer of all my ways ; for Moses, the
choice of the prophets and the head of those called, ordained ' Eat not
with the blood,' therefore no son of Israel will eat until he prays for
his soul, for the blood is the soul. . . ." '
Then said he, " Pray, if such be thy wish "; and I bathed my hands
and face and prayed. Then I ate of all that was before me, for my
soul loved him. . . . Wine I would not drink, though he pressed me
sore. " Wine," I said, " blindeth the eyes, robbeth the old of wisdom
and the body of strength, it revealeth the secrets of friends, and
raiseth discussion between brothers.'' The man's anger was roused.
"Why blasphemest thou against wine, and bearest false witness
against it ? Wine bringeth joy ; sorrow and sighing fly before it.
It strengtheneth the body, maketh the heart generous, prolongeth
pleasure, and deferreth age ; faces it maketh shine, and the senses
it maketh bright."
" Agreed, but let thy servant take the water first as the ancient
physicians advise, later I will take the wine, a little, without water."
When I had eaten and drunk with him, I asked him for his name
and his purpose. " I come," said he, " from a distant land, from
pleasant and fruitful hills, my wisdom is as thine, my law as thine,
my name Enan Hanatash, the son of Arnan Hadash." I was amazed
at the name, unlike any I had ever heard before. " Come with me
from this land, and I will tell thee all my secret lore ; leave this spot,
for they know not here thy worth and thy wisdom. I will take thee
to another place, pleasant as a garden, peopled by loving men, wise
above all others." But I answered, " My lord, I cannot go. Here
are many wise and friendly; while I live they give me life, when I die
they will make sweet my death. . . . I fear thee for thy long limbs,
and in thy face I see clear-cut the marks of un worthiness ; 2 1 fear thee,
and will not be thy companion lest there befall me what befell the
leopard with the fox." And I told him the story.
The Fox and the Leopard.
A leopard 3 once lived in content and plenty ; ever he found easy
sustenance for his wife and his children. Hard by there dwelt his
1 Berachoth, 10J.
* In C. there here occurs the long passage mentioned on page 507. Note 1
3 On the leopard or panther in folk-lore, see Paulus Cassel, MiscMe
Sindbad, pp. 214-217.
Joseph Zabara and his " Book of Delight." 513
neighbour and friend, the fox. The fox felt in his heart that his life
was safe only so long as the leopard could catch other prey; and
planned out a method for ridding himself of this dangerous friendship.
Before the evil cometh, say the wise, counsel is good. " Let me move
him hence," thought the fox ; " I will lead him to the paths of death ;
for the sages say : ' If one come to slay thee, be beforehand with him,
and slay him instead.' " Next day the fox went to the leopard and
told him of a spot he had seen, a spot of gardens and lilies, where
fawns and does disported themselves, and everything was fair. The
leopard went with him to behold this paradise, and rejoiced with
exceeding joy. "Ah," thought the fox, "many a smile ends in a
tear." But the leopard was charmed, and wished to move to this de-
lightful abode ; " but, first," said he, 'I will go to consult my wife, my
life-long comrade, the bride of my youth." The fox was sadly afraid-
Full well he knew the wisdom and the craft of the leopard's wife.
" Nay," said he, " trust not thy wife. A woman's counsel is evil and
foolish, her heart hard like marble ; she is a plague in a house. Yes,
ask her advice, and do the opposite." 1 .... The leopard told his wife
that he was resolved to go. " Beware of the fox," she exclaimed,
" two small animals there are, the craftiest they, by far : the serpent
and the fox. Hast thou not heard how the fox bound the lion, and
sle w him with cunniDg ? " " How did the fox dare," asked the leopard,
" to come near enough to the lion to do it ? "
The Fox and the Lion.
Then said the leopard's wife : — The lion loved the fox, but the fox
had no faith in him, and plotted his death. One day the fox went to
the lion whining that a pain had seized him in the head. " I have
heard," said the fox, " that physicians prescribe for a head-ache that
the patient shall be tied up hand and foot." The lion assented, and
bound up the fox with a cord. "Ah," blithely said the fox, "my
pain is gone." Time passed, and the lion's turn came to suffer in his
head. In sore distress he went to the fox, and exclaimed : — " Bind
me up, that I too may be healed as happened with thee." The fox
took fresh cords and bound the lion up. Then went he to fetch great
stones which he cast on the lion's head and thus crushed him. "There-
fore, my dear leopard," concluded his wife, " trust not the fox, for I
fear him and his wiles."
The leopard would not hearken to his wife's advice, yet
1 The malice and craft of women are the favourite theme of Indian
stories. Cf. the series in Sindibad.
514 The Jewish Quarterly Review.
was he somewhat moved by her warning, and he told the
fox of his misgiving. " Ah," replied the fox, " I fear your
fate will be like the goldsmith's ; let me tell you his story,
and you will know how silly it is to listen to a wife's
The Goldsmith who followed his Wife's Counsel.
A goldsmith of Babylon, skilful in his craft, was one day at work.
"Listen to me," said his wife, "and I will make thee rich and
honoured. Our lord, the king, has an only daughter, and he loves
her as his life. Fashion for her a golden image of herself, and I will
bear it to her as a gift." The statue was soon made, and the princess
rejoiced at seeing it. She gave the artist's wife a cloak and earrings,
and she showed them to her husband in triumph. " Bat where is
the wealth and the honour?" he asked ; " the statue was worth much
more than you have brought.'' Next day the king saw the statue in
his daughter's hand, and his anger was kindled. " Is it not ordered,'
he cried, " that none should make an image ? Cut off his right
hand." The king's command was carried out, and daily the smith
wept, and exclaimed : " Take warning from me, ye husband? , and
obey not the voice of your wives."
The Woodcutter and the Woman.
The leopard shuddered when he heard this tale ; but the fox went
on : A hewer of wood in Damascus was cutting logs, and his wife sat
spinning by his side. " My departed father," she said, " was a better
workman than thou. He could chop with both hands : when the right
hand was tired he used the left.'' "Nay," said he, " no woodcutter
does that." "Ah, my dear," she entreated, " try and do it as my father
did." The witless wight raised his left hand to hew the wood, but
struck his right-hand thumb instead. Without a word he seized the
axe and smote her on the head, and she died. His deed was noised
about ; the woodcutter was seized and stoned for his crime. " There-
fore," continued the fox, " I say unto thee, all women are deceivers
and trappers of souls."
Man's Love and Woman's.'
Let me tell you more of theBO wily stratagems, said the fox. A
king of the Arabs, wise and well-advised, was one day seated with his
councillors, who were loud in the praise of women, lauding their
1 Cf, Jellinek, Beth. Hamidrash iv. 147.
Joseph Zabara and his " Book of Delight." 515
virtues and their wisdom. " Cease these words," said the king.
"Never since the world began has there has been a good woman.
They love for their own ends." " But," pleaded his sages, " king,
thou art hasty. Women there are, wise and faithful, who love their
husbands and tend their children." " Then," said the king, " here is
my city before you : search it through, and find one of the good
women of whom you speak." They sought, and they found a
woman, chaste and wise, fair as the moon and bright as the
sun, the wife of a wealthy trader ; and the councillors reported
about her to the king. He sent for her husband, and received him
with favour. "I have something for thy ear," said the king.
" I have a good and precious daughter : I will not give her to
a king or a prince : let me find a simple, faithful man, who will
love her and hold her in esteem. Thou art such a one ; thou shalt
have her. But thou art married : slay thy wife to-night, and to-
morrow thou shalt wed my daughter." " I am unworthy," pleaded
the man, " to be the shepherd of thy flock, much less the husband of
thy daughter." But the king would take no denial. " But how shall
I kill my wife ? For five and twenty years she has eaten of my bread
and drunk of my cup. She is the joy of my heart ; her love and
esteem grow day by day." " Slay her," said the king, " and be king
hereafter." He went forth from the presence, downcast and sad,
thinking over, and a little shaken by, the king's temptation. At home
he saw his wife and his two babes. " Better," he cried, " is my wife
than a kingdom. Cursed be all kings who tempt men to sip sorrow,
calling it joy.'' The king waited his coming in vain ; but when he
found that the man's love had conquered his lust, said, with a sneer,
" Thou art no man : thy heart is a woman's." In the evening the king
summoned the woman secretly. She came, and the king praised her
beauty and her wisdom. His heart was burning with love for her, but
he could not wed another man's wife. " Slay thy husband to-night,
and to-morrow be my queen." With a smile, the woman consented ;
and the king gave her a sword made of tin, for he knew the weak
mind of woman. " Strike once," he said to her ; " the sword is
sharp ; you need not essay a second blow." She gave her husband a
choice repast, and wine to make him drunk. As he lay asleep, she
grasped the sword and struck him on the head ; and the tin bent,
and he awoke. With some ado she quieted him, aud he fell asleep
again. Next morning the king asked her, had she obeyed his orders :
" Yes," said she ; " but thou didst frustrate thine own counsel." Then
the king assembled his sages, and bade her tell all that she had
attempted ; and the husband, too, was fetched, to tell his story. " Did
I not tell you to cease your praises of women ? '' asked the king,
516 The Jewish Quarterly Review.
In Dispraise op Woman.
The fox follows up these effective narratives with a
lengthy string of well-worn quotations against women, of
which the following are a few : " Socrates, the wise and
saintly, hated them and loathed their forms. His wife was
thin and short. They asked him, How could a man like
you choose such a woman for your wife ? "I chose," said
Socrates, " of the evil the least possible amount." Once
he was walking by the way and saw a woman hanging
from a fig-tree. " Would," said Socrates, "that all the fruit
were like this." A noble built a new house, and wrote
over the door " Let nothing evil pass this way." — " Then
how does his wife go in ? " asked Diogenes. 1 " Your enemy
is dead," said one to another. " I would rather hear that
he had got married " was the reply.
So much, said the fox to the leopard, I have told thee
that thou mayest know how little women are to be
trusted. They deceive men in life and betray them in
death. " But," queried the leopard, " what could my wife
do to harm me after I am dead ?" " Listen," rejoined
the fox, " and I will tell thee of a deed viler than any that
I have narrated already."
The Widow and her Husband's Corpse.*
The kings of Rome, when they hanged a man, denied him burial
until the tenth day. That the friends and relatives of the victim
might not steal the body, an officer of high rank was set to watch
the tree by nights. Were the body stolen, the officer was hung up
1 Cf D*D3n •hem, 69 and 70.
J For parallels, see Mr Joseph Jacobs, Fables of Aesop, VoL I., page 245.
Of. Tosafoth to Kiddushin, fol. 805, which Mr. Clouston (page 340 of his
edition of Sindibad") confuses with the Talmud itself. In the parallels
there is considerable variation as to the ruses of the widow to assimilate
her husband's body to that of the criminal. In the Liber de Bonis there
is no mutilation at all. See also Steinschneider, Hamaxhir, xiii. 78. Sir
Walter Scott uses part of this incident in the standard-watching episode
in The Talisman.
Joseph Zabara and his " Book of Delight," 517
in its place. A knight of high degree once rebelled against the king,
and he was hanged on a tree. The officer on guard was startled
at midnight to hear a piercing shriek of anguish from a little
distance ; and he turned aside towards the voice to discover the
meaning. He came to an open grave where the common people
were buried, and saw a weeping woman loud in laments for her
departed spouse. He sent her home with words of comfort. Next
night the same scene was repeated, and as the officer spoke his gentle
soothings to her, a love for him wa3 born in her heart, and her dead
husband was forgotten. And as they spoke words of love they
neared the tree, and lo ! the body which the officer was set to watch
was gone. " Begone," he said, " and I will fly, or my life must pay
the penalty of my dalliance." " Fe.ar not, my lord," she said, " we can
raise my husband from his grave and hang him instead of the stolen
corpse. " " But I fear the prince of death. I cannot drag a man from
his grave." " I alone will do it then," said the woman ; " I will dig
him out." " Alas ! " cried the officer, when she had done the fear-
some deed : " the corpse I watched was bald, your husband has thick
hair ; the change will be detected." " Nay," said the woman, " I will
make him bald," and she tore his hair out, with execrations, and
they hung him on the tree. But few days passed and the pair were
The Leopard's Fate.
The leopard trembled at this tale. Angrily he ad-
dressed his wife : " Come, get up and follow me, or I will
slay thee." Together they went with their young ones,
and the fox was their guide, and they reached the pro-
mised place, and encamped by the waters. Seven days
were gone, when the rains descended, and in the deep of
the night the river rose and engulphed the leopard family
in their beds. " Woe is me," sighed the leopard, " that I
did not listen to my wife." And he died before his
The Journey Begun by Joseph and Enan.
The author has now finished his protest against his
visitor Enan's design to make him join him on a roving
expedition. Enan glares, and asks, " Am I a fox and thou
a leopard that I should fear thee ? " Then his note
VOL. VI- L L
518 The Jewish Quarterly Renew.
changes, and his tone becomes coaxing and bland. Joseph
cannot resist his fascination. Together they start, riding
on their asses. Then said Enan unto Joseph, " Carry thou
me, or I will carry thee." But, continues the narrator,
Joseph, we were both riding on our asses. " What dost
thou mean ? Our asses carry us both. Explain thy words."
" It is the story of the peasant 1 with the king's officer."
The Cletek Girl and the King's Dream. 8
A king with many wives dreamt that he saw a monkey' leaping
over them ; his face fell, and his spirit was troubled. " This is none
other," said he, " than a foreign king, who will invade my realm, and
take my harem for his spoil." An officer told the king of a clever
interpreter of dreams, and the king despatched him to find out the
meaning of his ominous vision. 4 He set forth on his ass, and met a
countryman riding : " Carry me," said the officer, " or I will carry
thee." The peasant was amazed : " But our asses carry us both," he
said. And as they pass on the officer made remarks on the field and
the tower. " Thou tiller of the earth," said the officer, " thou art
earth, and eateth earth." "There is snow on the hill," said the
officer, and as the month was Tammuz, the peasant laughed.
They passed a road with wheat growing on each side. " A horse,
blind in one eye, has passed here," said the officer, " loaded with oil
one side, and vinegar on the other." 5 They saw a field richly covered
with abounding corn, and the peasant praised it. " Yes," said the
officer, " if the corn is not already eaten." They saw a lofty tower.
"Well fortified," remarked the peasant. "Fortified without, if not
ruined within," replied the officer. A funeral passed them. " As to
this old man whom they are burying," said the officer, "I cannot
tell whether he is alive or dead." And the peasant thought his com-
panion mad to make such unintelligible remarks. They neared a
1 C, *T , 1D ; P., 'DIB. This confusion I have noted in varying forms of
2 See the essay Die Kluge Dime, in Benfey's Kleinere Schrifter, Part
III. page 156 ; Jacobs' Indian Fairy Tales, p. 251.
4 C. is here much more intelligible than P., which does not introduce
the peasant, but we suddenly find him conversing with the officer. So,
later on, the series of enigmatic remarks by the officer is very confused
5 See Echa Rabbathi I., in the seventh Athenian episode.
Joseph Zabara and his " Book of Delight." 519
village where the peasant lived, and he invited the officer to stay with
him overnight. The peasant, in dead of the night, told his wife
and daughters of the foolish things the officer had said, though he
looked quite wise. " Nay," said the peasant's youngest daughter, a
maiden of fifteen years, " the man is no fool ; thou didst not com-
prehend the depth of his meaning. The tiller of the earth eats food
grown from the earth. ' The snow on the hill ' meant thy white
beard (on thy head) ; thou should'st have answered, ' Time caused it.' '
The horse blind in one eye he knew had passed, because he saw that
the wheat was eaten on one side of the way, and not on the other ; and
as for its burden, he saw that the vinegar had parched the dust, while
the oil had not. His saying, ' Carry me, or I will carry thee,' signifies
that he who beguiles the way with stories and proverbs and riddles,
carries his companion, relieving him from the tedium of the journey.
The corn of the field they passed," continued the girl, " was already
eaten if the owner were poor, and had sold it before it was reaped.
The lofty and stately tower was in ruins within if it was without
necessary stores. About the funeral, too, his remark was true. If
the old man. left a son he was still alive, if he were childless, he was
In the morning, the girl asked her father to give the officer the
foodshe would prepare. 1 She gave him thirty eggs, a dish full of milk,
and a whole loaf. " Tell me," said she, " how many days old the
month is ; is the moon new, and the sun at it? zenith ? " Her father
ate two eggs, a little of the loaf, and drank some of the milk, and
gave the rest to the officer. " Tell thy daughter," he said, " the sun
is not full, neither is the moon, for the month is two days old." " Ah,"
laughed the peasant, as he told his daughter the answers of the officer,
" ah, my girl, I told you he was a fool, for we are now in the middle
of the month." " Did you eat anything of what I gave you ? "
asked the girl of her father. And he told her of the two eggs, the
morsel of bread, and the sip of water that he had taken. " Now I
know," said the girl, " of a surely that the man is very wise." And
the officer, too, felt that she was wise, and so he told her the king's
dream. She went back with him to the king. " Search thy harem,"
said the girl, " and thou wilt find among thy women a man disguised
in female garb." 3 He searched, and found that her words were true
1 nD~IJ JDtn. C. alone has this pun.
1 The whole of this part of the story is absent from P.
3 The incident of a man disguised as a woman occurs, though in another
context, in the seventh Vizir's story in Sindibad. See Clouston, page 286,
and Cassel, page 11a of Hebrew text, and page 154 for comments and
520 The Jewish Quarterly Review.
The man was slain, and the women too, and the peasant's daughter
became the king's sole queen, for he never took another wife besides
The Night's Rest.
Thus Joseph and the giant Enan journey on, and they
stay over-night in a village inn. Then commences a series
of semi-medical wrangles which fill up a large portion of
the book. Joseph demands food and wine, and Enan gives
him a little of the former and none of the latter. Even
their asses are starved, and Joseph sarcastically remarks :
" To-morrow it will be indeed a case of carry thou me or
I thee, for our asses will not be able to bear us." At dawn
Enan rouses him, and when he sees that his ass is still
alive, he exclaims, " Man and beast thou savest, O Lord ! " l
They proceed, and Enan weeps as they near a town.
Here, says he, my dear friend died, a man of wisdom and
of judgment. I will tell thee a little of his cleverness.
The Dishonest Singer' and the "Wedding Robes.
A man once came crying to him in distress. His only daughter
was betrothed to a youth, and the bridegroom and his father came to
the bride's house on the eve of the wedding to view her ornaments
and beautiful clothes. When the bride's father rose next day, every-
thing had vanished, jewels and trousseau together. " My friend," said
Enan, " went back with the man to examine the scene of the robbery.
He found but one place in the wall where entry was possible, a crevice
in which an orange tree grew, and its position acted like thorns and
prickles. Next door lived a singer, Paltiel ben Agan 3 by name, and
my late friend, the judge, interviewed him and made him strip. His
body was covered with cuts and scratches, and his guilt discovered.
" My son,'' said he, 4 " beware of singers, for they are mostly thieves ;
trust no word of theirs, for they are liars ; they are fond of women,
and long after other people's money. They fancy they are clever,
but they know not their left hand from their right ; they raise their
hands all day and call, but know not to whom. A singer stands at
his post, raised above all other men, and he thinks he is as lofty as
his place. He constantly emits sounds which mount to his brain and
dry it up ; hence he is so witless.''
• See p. 509 above. ' P. reads Jtn, C, |M. 3 P., has pJJ.
6 All of this diatribe occurs only in 0.
Joseph Zabara and his " Book of Delight." 521
The Nobleman and the Necklace.
Then Enan told me another story of his friend the judge's sagacity :
A man lived in Cordova, Jacob by name, the Broker. Once a
jewelled necklet was entrusted to him for sale by the judge, the
owner demanding 500 pieces of gold as its price. Jacob had the chain
in his hand when he met a nobleman, one of the king's intimate
friends. The nobleman offered 400 pieces for the necklet, which
Jacob refused. " Come with me to my house," said the would-be
purchaser. The Jew accompanied him home, and the nobleman
went within. Jacob waited till the evening, but no one came out.
The nobleman denied all knowledge of the jewels, so Jacob went to
the judge. He sent for the nobles to address them as was his wont,
and he said to his servant, " Take the fraudulent nobleman's shoe and
go to his wife. Show the shoe and say : Your lord bids me ask you
for the necklace he bought yesterday." The wife gave the servant
the ornament, and it was restored to its rightful owner.
The Son and the Slave. 1
And Enan went on : A merchant of wealth Untold, had an only
son who when he grew up said : " Father, send me on a voyage, that I
may trade and see foreign lands, and talk with men of wisdom to
learn from their words." The father purchased a ship and sent him on
a voyage with much wealth and many friends. The father was left
at home with his slave in whom he put his trust. Suddenly a pain
seized him in the heart, and he died without directing how his
property was to be divided. The slave took possession of everything ;
no one in the town knew whether he was the man's son or not. Ten
years passed, and the real son returned, with his ship laden with
wealth. As they neared the harbour, the ship was nearly wrecked.
They cast everything overboard, but in vain ; the crew were all thrown
into the sea. The son reached the shore destitute, and returned to his
father's house ; but the slave drove him away, denying his identity.
They went before the judge. " Find the merchant's grave," he said to
the slave, " and bring me the dead man's bones. I shall burn them for
his neglect to leave a will, thus rousing strife as to his property."
The slave started to obey, but the son stayed him. ' Keep all," said
he, " but disturb not my father's bones." " Thou art the son,'' said
the judge ; " take this other as thy life-long slave."
1 Cf. Jellinek IV. 146 ; but the close of the story is different. See also
pcnn lytJ', ll, where there is a similar tale ; but the end differs from both
versions. The king takes two separate bones for the test of blood
522 The Jewish Quarterly Review.
Joseph and Enan pass to the the city of Tobiah. 1 At
the gate they are accosted by an old and venerable man, to
whom they explain that for seven days they have been on
the way. He invites them to his home, treats them
hospitably, and after supper tells them sweet and pleasant
tales, "among his words an incident wonderful to the
highest degree." This wonderful story is none other than a
distorted version of the Book of Tobit. I have translated
this in full, and in rhymed prose as a specimen of the
original : —
The Stoky of Tobit.
Here, in the days of the pious of old and the elders of age untold,
there lived a man upright and true, in all his doings good luck he
knew. Rich was he and great, his eyes looked straight : Tobiah, the
son of Ahiah the Danite, he helped the poor, to each gave his mite ;
whene'er a friendless one died, the shroud he supplied, bore the
corpse to the grave, nor thought his money to save. The men of the
place, a sin-ruled race, slandering cried, " These Jewish knaves. O
King, open our graves ; our bones they burn, into charms to turn,
health to earn." The king angrily spoke, "I will weighten their
yoke, and their villainy repay ; all the Jews who from to-day, die
in this town, to the pit take down, to the pit hurry all, without
burial. "Who buries a Jew, the hour shall rue ; bitter his pang, on
the gallows shall hang." Soon a proselyte did die, and no friends
were by ; but the good Tobiah was nigh, the corpse did lave and dress
for the grave. Some sinners saw the deed, to the judge the word
they gave, who Tobiah's death decreed. Forth the saint they draw,
to hang him as by law. But now they near the tree, lo ! no man
can see, a blindness falls on all, and Tobiah flies their thrall. Many
friends his loss do weep, but home he doth creep, God's mercies to
narrate, and his own surprising fate : " Praise ye the Lord, dear
friends, for his mercy never ends, and to his servants good intends."
Fear the king distressed, his heart beat at his breast, new decrees his
fear expressed. "Whoe'er a Jew shall harm," the king cried in
alarm, " touching his person or personalty, touches the apple of my
eye ; let no man do this wrong, or I'll hang him near the throng
high though his rank and his lineage long." And well he kept his
word, he punished those who erred ; but on the Jews his mercies
shone, the while he filled the throne.
1 0. calls the city M1B and miD ; P. QUID.
Joseph Zabara and his " Book of Delight." 523
Once lay the saint at rest, and glanced upon the nest of a bird
within his room. Ah ! cruel was his doom ! Into his eye there went
the sparrow's excrement. Tobiah's sight was gone ! He had an only
son whom thus he now addressed, " When business ventures pressed,
I passed from clime to clime, well I recall the time, when long I
dwelt in Ind, of wealth full stores to find. But perilous was the
road, and entrusted I my load with one of honest fame, Peer
Hazeman his name. And now list, beloved son, go out and hire thee
one, thy steps forthwith to guide UDto my old friend's side. I know
bis love's full stream, his trust he will redeem ; when heareth he my
plight, when seeth he thy sight, then will he do the right." The
youth found whom he sought, a man by travel taught, the ways of
Ind he knew ; he knew them through and through, he knew them up
and down, as a townsman knows his town. He brought him to
his sire, who straightway did inquire, "Knowest thou an Indian
spot, a city named Tobot ? " " Full well I know the place, I spent a
two years' space in various enterprise ; its people all are wise and
honest men and true." " What must I give to you," asked Tobiah of
his guest, " to take my son in quest ?" '■ Of pieces pure of gold, full
fifty must be told." "I'll pay you that with joy; start forth now with
my boy." A script the son did write which Tobiah did indite, and on
his son bestow a sign his friend would know. The father kissed his
son, " In peace," said he, "get gone; may God my life maintain till
thou art come again." The youth and guide to Toboth hied, and
reached anon, Peer Hazeman. "Why askest thou my name?"
Straight the answer came : " Tobiah is my sire, and he doth inquire
of thy health and thy household's." Then the letter he unfolds.
The contents Peer espies, every doubt flies, he regards the token
with no word spoken. " 'Tis the son of my friend, who greeting doth
send. Is it well with him ? Say." " Well with him alway." " Then
dwell here awhile, and the hours beguile with the tale* you will tell
of him I loved so well." " Nay, I must part to soothe my father's
heart. I am his only trust, return at once I must." Peer Hazeman
agrees, the lad to release j gives him all his father's loan, and gifts of
his own, raiment and two slaves. To musical staves, the son doth
homeward wend. By the shore of the sea, went the lad full of glee,
and the wind blew a blast, and a fish up did cast. Then hastened the
guide to open the fish's side, took the liver and the gall, to make evil
to fall ; the liver to put demons to flight, the gall to restore men's
sight. The youth begged his friend these specifics to lend, then went
on his way to where his sick sire lay. Then spake the youth to his
father the truth. " Send not away the guide without pay." The son
sought the man, through the city he ran, but the man had dis-
appeared. Said Tobiah, "Be not afeared, 'twas Elijah the seer,
524 The Jewish Quarterly Review.
whom God sent here to stand by our side, our needs to provide. "
He bathed both his eyes with the gall of the prize, and his sight was
restored by the grace of the Lord.
Then said he to his son, " Now God his grace has shown, dost thou
not yearn to do a deed in return ? My niece forthwith wed." " But
her husbands three are dead, each gave up his life as each made her
his wife ; to her shame and her sorrow, they survived not the morrow.''
" If thou wilt do as I wish, take the liver of the fish and burn it
in fume at the door of her room, 'twill give the demon his doom."
At his father's command, with his life in his hand, the youth loved
the maid and wed her nothing afraid. For long timid hours his
prayer Tobiah pours ; but the incense was alight, the demon took
flight, and safe was the night. Long and happily wed, on their lives
The Paralytic, the Man who Honoured His Father, and
He who Adored the Crucifix.
Their entertainer tells Joseph and Enan another story of
piety connected with the burial of the dead.
" There lived in the days of old a saintly man whose abode was on
the way to the graveyard. Every funeral passed his door, and he
would ever rise and join the procession, and assist those engaged in
the burial. In his old age his feet were paralysed, and he could not
leave his bed ; the dead passed his doors, and he sighed that he could
not rise to display his wonted respect. Then prayed he to the Lord :
" O Lord, who givest eyes to the blind and feet to the lame, hear me
from the corner of ray sorrowful bed. Grant that when a pious man
is borne to his grave, I may be able to rise to my feet." His prayer
was heard, and whenever a pious man was buried, he rose and prayed
for his soul. On a day, there died one who had grown old in the
world's repute, a man of excellent piety, yet the lame man could not
rise as bis funeral passed.' Next day died a quarrelsome fellow, of ill
repute, and when his body was carried past the lame man's door, the
paralytic was able to stand. Every one was amazed, for hitherto the
lame man's rising or resting had been a gauge of the departed's virtues.
Two sage men resolved to get to the bottom of the mystery. They
interviewed the wife of the fellow who had died second. The wife
confirmed the worst account of him, but added, " He had an old
father, aged one hundred years, and he honoured and served him.
Every day he kissed his hand, gave him drink, undressed and dressed
1 See Jellinek, V., 136 and 206.
Joseph Zabara and his " Book of Delight." 525
him ; daily he brought ox and lamb bones, from which he drew the
marrow, and made with it dainty foods." Then the people knew that
the honouring of his father had atoned for his transgressions. Then
the two inquisitors went to the house of the pious man, before whom
the paralytic had been unable to rise. His widow gave him an
excellent character ; he was gentle and pious ; prayed three times a
day, and at midnight rose and went to a special chamber to say his
prayers. No one had ever seen the room but himself, as he ever kept
the key in his bosom. The two inquisitors opened the door of this
chamber, and found a small box hidden in the window-sill ; they
opened the box, and found in it a golden figure, bearing a crucifix.
Thus the man had been one of those who do the deeds of Zimri, and
expect the reward of Phineas.'' l
They retire to rest, and their sleep is sweet and long.
By strange and devious ways they continue the journey
on the morrow. Again they pass the night at the
house of one of Enan's friends, who welcomes them
cordially, feeds them bountifully, aDd then tells stories
and proverbs " from the books of the Arabs."
A man said to a sage : " Thou braggest of thy wisdom, but it came
from me." " Yes," replied the sage, " and it forgot its way back." What
is style ? Be brief and do not repeat yourself. The king once visited
a nobleman's house, and asked the nobleman's son : " Whose house is
better, your father's or mine ? " " My father's," said the boy, " while
the king is in it." A king put on a new robe which did not become him.
" It is not good to wear,'' said a courtier, " but it is good to put on."
The king gave him the robe. A bore visited a sick man : " What ails
thee?" he asked. " Thy presence," said the sufferer. A man of high
lineage reviled a wise man of lowly birth. "My lineage is a blot on
me," retorted the sage, " thou art a blot on thy lineage." Diogenes and
Dives were attacked by robbers. " Woe is me," said Dives, " if they
recognise me?" "Woe is me," said Diogenes, "if they do not
recognise me." An Arab's brother died. " Why did he die ? " one
asked. " Because he lived," was the answer. Which is the best of the
beasts ? Woman.' Hide thy virtues, as thou hidest thy faults. A dwarf
brought a complaint to his king. " No one," said the king, " would
1 See p. 508 above. The author here enters into a powerful denuncia-
tion of those who are " abstainers from virtue " — who are virtuous
without and vicious within.
* Cf . Sen Sira, 22b ; Mishle Chachamim, 22.
526 The Jewish Quarterly Review.
hurt such a pigmy." "But," retorted the dwarf, "my injurer is smaller
than I am." The king heard a woman at prayer, " Ck>d," she sail,
" remove this king from us." " And put a better in his stead," added
the eavesdropping monarch. Take measures for this Ufa as though thou
wilt live for ever; prepare for the next world as though thou diest to-
morrow. Three things weary : a lamp that will not burn, a messenger
who dawdles, a table spread and waiting. Theu follow a string of
sayings about threes} Reason rules the body, wisdom is the pilot,
law is its light. 8 Might is the lion's, burdens are the ox's, wisdom is
the man's ; spinning the spider's, building the bee's, making stores the
camel's. In three cases lying is permissible : ia war, in reconciling
man to man, in appeasing one's wife. Their host concludes his lengthy
list of sententious remarks thus : — A king had a signet ring on which
were engraved the words, " Thou hast bored me : rise !" and when a
guest stayed too long he sho wed the visitor the ring. This was the
sigoal for the party to retire to rest. 3
The City op Enan.
Next day the wayfarers reach Enan's own city, the
place which he had all along desired Joseph to see. He
shows Joseph his house ; but he replies, " I crave for food,
not for sight-seeing." " Surely," said Enan ; " the more
hurry the less speed." At last the table is spread ; the
cloth is ragged, the dishes contain unleavened bread, such as.
there is no pleasure in eating, and there was a dish of herbs
and vinegar. Then there ensues a long wrangle, displaying
much medical knowledge, on the physiology of herbs and
vegetables ; on the eating of flesh, much and fast. Enan
makes sarcastic remarks on Joseph's rapacious appetite.
He tells Joseph he must not eat this nor that ; a joint of
lamb is brought on the table, Enan says the head is bad,
and the feet, and the flesh and the fat ; so that Joseph has
no alternative but to eat it all. 4 " I fear that what happened
to the king will befall thee," said Enan. " Let me feed
1 Three is a favourite number in Sanskrit collections of this nature.
8 P. is here better.
3 This conversation is extremely long, and I have very much shortened
it. C. and P. vary considerably here.
4 C. is much longer here than P.
Joseph Zabara and his " Book of Delight." 527
first," * said Joseph ; " then you can tell me what happened
to the king."
The Princess and the Rose.
A gardener 2 came to his garden in the winter. It was the month
of Tebet, and he found some roses in flower. He rejoiced at seeing
them ; and he picked them, and put them on a precious dish, car-
ried them to the king, and placed them before him. The king was
surprised, and the flowers were goodly in his sight ; and he gave the
gardener one hundred pieces of gold. Then said the king, in his
heart, " To-day we will make merry, and have a feast." All his servants
and faithful ministers were invited to rejoice over the joy of the
roses. And he sent for his only daughter, then with child ; and she
stretched forth her hand to take a rose, and a serpent that lay in the
dish leapt at her and stung her, and she died before night.
Question and Answer.
But Joseph's appetite was not to be stayed by such tales
as this. So Enan tells him of the "Lean Fox and the
Hole " ; but in vain. " Open not thy mouth to Satan," said
Joseph ; " I fear for my appetite, lest it become smaller ; "
and goes on eating.
Now Enan tries another tack : he will question him, and
put him through his paces.
"How canst thou sleep," said Enan, " when thou hast eaten every-
thing, fresh and stale ? As I live, thou shalt not seek thy bed until I
test thy wisdom— until I prove whether all this provender has entered
the stomach of a wise man or of a fool." Then follows an extraordinary
string of anatomical, medical, scientific, and Talmudical questions about
the optic nerves, the teeth ; why a man lowers his head when thinking
over things he has never known, but raises his head when thinking
over what he once knew but has forgotten ; the physiology of the
digestive organs, the physiology of laughter ; why a boy eats more
than a man ; why it is harder to ascend than to go down a hill ;
why snow is white ; why babies have no teeth ; 3 why children's
first set of teeth falls out ; why saddest tears are saltest ; why sea
1 This retort is only in P.
*c., pj; p., pntoa.
3 C. alone has this. Altogether, the medical conversations are fuller
in 0. than in P.
528 The Jewish Quarterly Review.
■water is heavier than fresh ; why hail descends in summer ; why the
sages said that bastards are mostly clever. To these questions, which
Enan pours out in a stream, Joseph readily gives answers. But now
Enan is hoist with his own petard. " I looked at him," continues the
poet, " and sleep entrapped his eyes, and his eyelids kissed the hides.
Ah ! I laughed in my heart, now will I talk to him, and puzzle him as
he has been puzzling me. He shall not sleep, as he would not let me
sleep. ' My lord,' said I, ' let me now question thee.' ' I am sleepy,'
said he, ' but ask on.' ' What subject shall I choose ? ' I said. 'Any
subject,' he replied ; ' of all knowledge I know the half.' " Joseph
asks him astronomical, musical, logical, arithmetical questions ; to all of
which Enan replies, " I do not know." " But," protests Joseph, " how
could you assert that you knew half of every subject when it is clear
that you know nothing?" "Exactly," said Enan, "for Aristotle
says: 'He who says, "I do not know," has already attained the half of
knowledge.'" But he says he knows medicine ; so Joseph proceeds to
question him. Soon he discovers that Enan is again deceiving him ;
and he roundly abuses Enan for his duplicity.
Enan at length is moved to retort. " I wonder at thy learning," says
Enan, " but more at thy appetite." l Then the lamp goes out, the
servant falls asleep, and they are left in darkness till the morning.
Then Joseph demands his breakfast, and goes out to see his ass. The
ass attempts to bite Joseph, who strikes it, and the ass speaks. " I am
one of the family of Balaam's ass," 2 says the animal. " But I am not
Balaam," says Joseph, " to divine that thou hast eaten nothing all
night." The servant asserts that he fed the ass, but the animal had
gobbled up everything, his appetite being equal to his owner's. But
Joseph will not believe this ; and Enan is deeply hurt. " Peace ! " he
shouts, and his eyes shoot flames, and his nostrils distil smoke ; " Peace,
or as I live, and my ancestor Asmodaaus, I will seize thee with my
little finger, and will show thee the city of David."
Enan Reveals Himself.
In timid tones I asked him, continues Joseph, "Who is this
Asmodseus, thy kinsman ? " " Asmodaaus," said Enan, " the great
prince who, on his wing, bore Solomon from his kingdom to
a distant strand." "Woe is me," I moaned, "I thought thee
a friend ; now thou art a demon. Why did'st thou hide thy
nature ; why did'st thou conceal thy descent ? Why hast
thou taken me from my home in guile?" "Nay," said Enan,
"where was thy understanding? I gave thee my name, thou
1 C. much fuller here.
2 Thus P. ; C. has, " I am the son of Balaam's ass."
Joseph Zabara and his " Book of Delight." 529
shouldst have inverted it." ' Then Enan gives his pedigree : " I am
Eiian, the Satan, son of Arnan the Demon, son of the Place of Death,
son of Anger, son of Death's Shadow, son of Terror, son of Tremb-
ling, son of Destruction, son of Extinction, son of Evil-name, son
of Mocking, son of Plague, son of Deceit, son of Injury, son of
Asmodaeus." * Then Enan quiets Joseph's fears, and promises that no
harm shall befall him. He goes through Enan's city, sees wizards
and sorcerers, and sinners and fools, all giants.
Enan's Friend and His Daughter.
Then Enan introduces his own especial friend : 3 "He is good and
wiBe," said Enan, " despite his tall stature. He shows his goodness in
bating the wise and loving fools ; he is generous, for he will give a
beggar a crust of dry bread, and make him pay for it ; he knows
medicine, for he can tell that if a man is buried he has either been
sick or had an accident ; he knows astronomy, for he can tell that it
is day when the sun shines, and night when the stars appear ; he
knows arithmetic, for he can tell that one and one make two ; he
knows mensuration, for he can tell how many handbreadtbs his belly
measures ; he knows music, for he can tell the difference between the
barking of a dog and the braying of an ass." " But," said I, continues
Joseph, " how can you be the friend of such a one ? Accursed is he,
accursed his master." " Nay," answered Enan, " I love him not ; I
know his vile nature : 'tis his daughter that binds me to him, for she
is fair beyond my power to praise." "Yet I warned him against marry-
ing the daughter of an uneducated man, an am-haaretz." Then follows
a compilation of passages directed against ignorance. 4 " Ah ! " cries
Enan, " your warning moves me. My love for her is fled. Thou
f earest God and lovest me, my friend. What is a friend ? One heart
in two bodies. Then find me another wife, one who is beautiful and
and good. Worse than a plague is a bad woman. Listen to what
once befell me with such a one."
The Washerwoman who did the Devil's Work. 4
Once upon a time, in my wanderings to and fro upon the earth, I
came to a city whose inhabitants dwelt together, happy, prosperous,
and secure. I made myself well acquainted with the place and people,
but despite all my efforts, I was unable to entrap a single one. " This
1 See p. 509 above. 3 P. has a longer chain of descent.
3 See p. 507 note 1 above. 4 C. considerably fuller here.
s This story is peculiar to 0. ; P. does not give it.
530 The Jewish Quarterly Review.
is no place for me," I said, " I had better return to my own country."
I left the city, and journeying on came across a river, at whose brink
I seated myself. Scarcely had I done so, when a woman appeared
bearing her garments to be washed in the river. She looked at
me, and asked, " Art thou of the children of men or of demons ? "
" Well,'' said I, " I have grown up among men, but I was born among
demons." "But what art thou after here?" "Ah," I replied, "I
have spent a whole month in yonder city. And what have I found ?
A city full of friends, enjoying every happiness in common. In vain
have I tried to mingle a little of wickedness among them." Then the
woman, with a supercilious air : " If I am to take thee for a specimen,
I can have a very poor opinion of the whole tribe of demons. You
seem mighty enough, but you haven't the strength of women. Stop
here and keep an eye on the wash ; but mind, play me no tricks. I
will go back to the city and kindle therein fire and fury, and pour
over it a spirit of mischief, and thou shalt see how I can manage
things." " Agreed," said I, " I will stay here and await thy coming,
and see how affairs turn out in thy hands."
The washerwoman departed, went into the city, called upon one of
the great families there residing, and requested to see the lady of the
house. She asked for a washing order, which she promised to execute
to the most perfect satisfaction. While the housemaid was collecting
the linen, the washerwoman lifted her eyes to the beautiful face of
the mistress, and exclaims : " Yes, they are a dreadful lot, the men ;
they are all alike, a malediction on them! The best of them is not to
be trusted. They love all women but their own wives." " What
dost thou mean ? " asked the lady. " Merely this," she answered :
" Coming hither from my house, whom should I meet but thy husband,
making love to another woman, and such a hideous creature too !
How he could forsake beauty so rare and exquisite as thine for such
disgusting ugliness, passes my understanding. But do not weep, dear
lady, don't distress thyself and give way. I know a means by which
I will bring that husband of thine to his senses, so that thou shalt
suffer no reproach, and he shall never love any other woman than
thee. This is what thou must do. When thy husband comes home,
speak softly and sweetly to him ; let him suspect nothing ; and when
he has fallen asleep, take a sharp razor and cut off three hairs from
his beard ; black or white hairs, it matters not. These thou must
afterwards give me, and with them I will compound such a remedy
that his eyes shall be darkened in their sockets, so that he will look
no more upon other lovely women, but cling to thee alone in mighty
and manifest and enduring love." All this the lady promised, and
gifts besides for the washerwoman, should her plan prosper.
Carrying the garments with her, the woman now sought out the
Joseph Zabara and his " Book of Delight." 531
lady's husband. With every sign of distress in her voice and manner,
she told him that she had a frightful secret to divulge to him. She
knew not if she would have the strength to do so. She would rather
die first. The husband was all the more eager to know, and would not
be refused. " Well, then,'' she said, " I have just been to thy house
where my lady, thy wife, gave me these garments to wash ; and, white
I was yet standing there, a youth, of handsome mien and nobly
attired, arrived, and the two withdrew into an adjoining room : so I
inclined mine ear to listen to their speech, and this is what I over-
heard : The young man said to thy wife, 'Kill thy husband, and I
will marry thee.' She, however, declared that she was afraid to do
such a dreadful deed. ' Oh,' answered he, with a little courage, ' it
is quite easy. When thy husband is asleep take a sharp razor and cut
his throat.' " In fierce rage, but suppressing all outward indication of
it, the husband returned home. Pretending to fall asleep, he watched
his wife closely ; saw her take a razor to sever the three hairs for the
washerwoman's spell ; darted up suddenly, wrested the razor from
her hands, and with it slew his wife on the spot.
The news spread ; the relations of the wife united to avenge her
death, and kill the husband. In their turn his relatives resolved to
aveoge him ; both houses get embroiled, and before the feud was at an
end two hundred and thirty lives were sacrificed. The city resounded
with a great cry, the like of which had never been heard. " From
that day," concluded Enan, "I decided to injure no man more, Tet
for this very reason I fear to wed an evil woman.'' " Fear not," re-
turned Joseph, " the girl I recommend is beautiful and good." And
Enan married her, and loved her.
Joseph Returns Home to Barcelona.
"After awhile I said to him," concludes Joseph : " I have
sojourned long enough in this city, whose ways please me
not. Ignorance prevails, and poetry is unknown ; the law
is despised ; the young are set over the old ; they slander
and are impudent. Let me go home after my many years
of wandering in a strange land. Fain would I seek the
place where dwells the great prince, R Sheshet Ben-
veniste, 1 of whom Wisdom says, Thou art my teacher, and
Faith, Thou art my friend." " What," said Enan, " what
qualities brought him to this lofty place of righteousness
1 Thus P. ; 0. has ntwail J3 TVIW.
532 The Jewish Quarterly Renew.
and power ?" " His simplicity and humility, his upright-
ness and saintliness." 1
And with this eulogy of the aged Rabbi of Barcelona,
the poem ends.
It will be clear from the mode in which I have rendered
these stories, and also from what has preceded, that I take
Zabara to be rather a literary curiosity than a poet. Some
poetical merits he has, but he is more interesting as a
conteur than as an imaginative writer. The New- Hebrew
verse was always an exotic, never quite a natural flower ;
for the labours of the most skilful gardeners failed to accli-
matise it thoroughly in European soil. Yet his humour,
his fluent simplicity, his easy mastery over Hebrew, his
invention, his occasional gleams of fancy, his very artless-
ness, combine to give his poem some right to the title by
which he called it — The Book of Delight.
1 C. has at the end an additional paragraph beginning JTlT , "tt VSpBTl*
JlVpJ Hv ntP2D. This passage is quoted from Jer. Shekalim, i7c. OL
T. B. Atodah Zarah, 20*.