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By Samuel Krauss, Vienna 

The manuscript which sees light here for the first time 
comes from the valuable collection of manuscripts of Mr. 
Elkan Adler in London, and its origin is most probably 
either Persia or Yemen. The few leaves which form the 
subject of our inquiry are incorporated in a quite bulky 
volume in quarto which contains heterogeneous matter in 
great quantity and in motley diversity, and from which I 
have published an Oriental Ketubba 1 and a version of the 
well-known Toldot Jeshu. 2 

Our manuscript deserves the name Midrash of the type 
of many similar edifying stories in the well-known collec- 
tion of Jellinek; it, moreover, deals with a biblical person- 
age, viz. Moses, and constitutes a series of stories rather 
than one continuous and uninterrupted story. To judge 
from the contents, however, our narrative belongs to the 
large domain of ethical fables ( nwjJO ), for the mere 
reason that, as will be shown, it is a product of the Arabic 

To facilitate a survey of the contents, I have divided 
the theme in three chapters. 

The first chapter tells the following tale : When Moses 
was feeding the sheep of Jethro in the wilderness, an angel 

1 ZfhB., V, 29 {. 

2 Krauss, Leben Jesti nach jud. Quellen, 118 f. 



C"I*6d) approached him in the shape of a white wolf 
C3Nf) , and demanded a sheep from him to satisfy his 
hunger. Moses, the faithful shepherd, refused his demand, 
claiming that the sheep did not belong to him, whereupon 
the wolf made him run to Jethro and obtain permission, 
promising to guard the flock meanwhile. Jethro gave his 
permission, but when Moses returned to the flock, the wolf 
had disappeared. The story breaks off at this point, and 
we are left in the dark as to whether Moses was aware 
of the angelic nature of the talking wolf. This omission 
serves to prove that it was not the object of the narrator 
to show that Moses communicated with transcendental 
beings, but rather to furnish evidence of Moses' true and 
faithful discharge of his duties as a shepherd. 

The second chapter is considerably larger. A deceitful 
old man ( }pt ) joins Moses, and they wander together in 
the wilderness. Altogether they have five loaves of bread ; 
of which they consume two each in two halting-places, 
while the fifth disappears in the hands of the old man. 
Being in the sad plight of starvation, Moses performs 
miracles with the divine staff in his hand: he seizes deer, 
whose flesh they consume, and whose bones he resuscitates 
to new life. He also causes water to flow from a rock. 
Furthermore, it is related as an episode that Moses re- 
vived a dead person by means of his staff. In the hand 
of the old man, however, the staff loses its miraculous 
power, and thus, as the narrator states, is verified the pro- 
verb : Not all men are alike. It is evident that this moral 
is the point of the story. Another point which is accentu- 
ated through the whole piece is the villainy of the old man, 
who, despite the miracles he witnesses, perseveres in his 
imposture. . 


The third chapter furnishes the denouement: the old 
man receives his well-deserved punishment. This occurs in 
the following way: Moses puts up three heaps of dust and 
transforms them into gold; then, leaving the whole treas- 
ure to the avidity of the old man, he departs from him 
forever. The old man is unable to carry the heavy weight 
of gold, and espying Bedouins on camels, he solicits their 
aid, stipulating to give them a third part of the treasure. 
The Bedouins, however, dispatch the old man to an ad- 
jacent city in order to buy bread for them. During his 
absence they resolve to kill him, which they do, in order 
to appropriate the whole treasure for themselves. But 
they pay with their lives for this plot, for the bread was 
poisoned — probably by the old man who envied them the 
stipulated reward — , and as a result all of them died. Thus 
poetical justice receives due emphasis and accentuation at 
the hand of our narrator. 

As is seen from this outline, the first story has no 
connection whatever with the subsequent trend of the 
narrative. To be sure, Moses is and remains the hero 
throughout, and it is certainly the consummate aim of the 
narrator to bring out in relief the overtowering personal- 
ity of Moses the man; but while in the first story a divine 
being, an angel, is employed to bring out the greatness of 
Moses, in the following stories it is always the deceitful 
old man who forms the contrast to the great lawgiver. This 
loose construction can only be explained by the fact that 
the narrator found certain stories relating to Moses, and 
from these he adopted and remodeled some which pleased 
him, rejecting the others as unworthy of his attention. 

The narrator no doubt employs familiar fable motives. 
One need not be surprised that he clothes the angel in 


white, since angels are always pictured in white garb; 
for an example comp. Daniel 10, 5 f. and 12, 6. Nor can 
we find it inappropriate that he makes the angel assume 
the shape of a preying beast: the rape of a sheep being 
involved, temptation in the form of a wolf is particularly 
fitting. The preying animal was to tempt Moses, in order 
to test his faithfulness. 

As to the disguise or transformation itself, it is a 
motive quite familiar in the fable literature of all times 
and all nations. In the Talmud we read of the metamor- 
phosis of Satan, who assumes once the shape of a deer, 8 
another time that of a bird/ and it appears to us quite 
superfluous to adduce proof for the existence of such 
popular notions. But what is of especial interest to us in 
the wolf scene is the manner in which Moses addresses 
the wolf: Do animals ( nvn ) speak? To which his inter- 
locutor replies: Thou who wilt one day be called upon to 
perform great deeds, who wilt be an eye-witness to the 
story of the golden calf and the speaking ass of Balaam 
— thou askest such questions? This dialogue leads us 
straightway to the source of the story, and this source is 
none other than Mohammedan. 

This fact in itself that the golden calf (hiV ) is rep- 
resented as an animated and living being, is a Mohamme- 
dan notion. The Mohammedan legend maintains that 
Al-Samiri (known from the Koran as the creator of the 
calf) took dust from under the hoofs of the horse of 
Gabriel (the guardian angel of the children of Israel), 
and threw it into the mouth of the calf, whereupon the 
calf was endowed with life and began to low. 5 A some- 

3 b. Sanh. 950. 

4 lb., 107a. 

5 All this is found in Jew. Bnc., Ill, 509. 


what similar view is contained in the Rabbinic work 
Pirke di R. Eliezer, 6 and we know that this book bears the 
stamp of Arabic influence.' 

The dialogue between Moses and the wolf leads us 
distinctly into Arabic territory. Its prototype we meet in 
the book Hayyat al-haywan ("Life of the Animals") by 
Damiri. In the part relating to the wolf (di'b) — I, 446- 
452 — a number of wolf fables are cited from various 
writers, which fables, for example, run as follows: A 
shepherd tending his flock in the desert sees a wolf ap- 
proach and seize one of his sheep. While the shepherd 
attempts to save the victim, the wolf begins to expostulate : 
Dost thou wish to deprive me of the prey which Allah 
has apportioned me? To which the shepherd ejaculates: 
Does an animal speak? And the wolf replies: Did not 
Allah's prophet proclaim still greater miracles? — According 
to another story, the wolf had a conversation with three of 
Mohammed's companions, among them Uhban ibn Aus 
( j\ .j jU*l). While the latter was feeding his herd a 
wolf came and seized one of his sheep. Uhban began to 
battle with the preying animal, but was astounded at the 
latter's defense: Dost thou wish to deprive me of the 
food which God has allotted me? — Does an animal speak? 
— Does this surprise thee? The wolf then pointed toward 
Medinah, where the prophet was teaching and preaching, 
saying: Even greater wonders occur there! Thereupon 
Uhban ibn Aus set out on his way to Medinah, came to 
Mohammed, and related his adventure to him, and finally 
embraced Islam. Also a tradition is quoted, according to 
which Uhban is called "he who conversed with the wolf," 

6 c 45: nyu ron 'uyn «s»i. 

" Zunz, Gotlesd. Vortrage, 2d ed., 288. 


and his children "the children of him who conversed with 
the wolf." — Again in another tale (according to Bokhari) 
not only the wolf (in the manner recorded above), but 
also the cow speaks. The cow, being overburdened by her 
master, turns to him with reproach : Was I created to carry 
loads? My creator has destined me for ploughing! Thus 
we see a wolf and a cow speaking. And Mohammed says : 
I believe it, for Abu Bekr and Omar are with me. — Always 
reference to Mohammed! And so the speaking cow is 
of especial interest to us, since under the title "Cow" 
(<>.«») the second Sura comprises all that which Mo- 
hammed, in his customary obscurity and confusion, was 
able to say of the golden calf, the "red" heifer, and the 
beheaded heifer." 

Just as in the Mohammedan tradition Mohammed is 
apparently glorified through the speaking wolf, so also in 
the person of our narrator a man was found, who, instead 
of the false prophet, aimed to apotheosize with the same 
means the first prophet, the father of all prophets, the 
great teacher Moses. Also Moses is bewildered: Does an 
animal speak? And immediately the high rank of Moses 
is pointed out: Thou forsooth wilt receive the Torah 
from heaven; thou wilt behold a living calf made out of 
gold; thou wilt record to posterity the story of Balaam 
and his loquacious ass : and yet thou art astonished ? Our 
narrative thus proves to be polemical in a considerable 
degree, breaking a lance with Islam, and this in itself is 
a proof that it originated under Mohammedan influence. 

The Oriental origin of our story is furthermore at- 
tested by the fact that the speaking bird likewise forms 

8 For the reference to Damiri I am indebted to my friend B. Heller in 


a customary motive in the Oriental fables. Thus we find 
it among others in the last piece of "A Thousand and One 
Nights," Galland's edition, although the Arabic original 
does not contain it. The well-known fact of the migration 
of fairy-tales accounts for the familiarity of the subjects 
also in the Occident, so that originally there was a refer- 
ence to the "wonder bird" even in Schiller's "Wallenstein" 
(Act III, Scene 13) ; this reference, however, was later 
obliterated by the poet, while we still find in Turandot "the 
bird that speaks." 

In that part of the narrative which we call the first 
chapter, there is still another point that may be singled out, 
viz. the wolf guarding the herd faithfully. Also this motive 
belongs no doubt to the universal fable literature, but I 
am not able at present to designate its true source. 

In the second chapter, the "staff of Moses" (ntao) 
forms the most essential element of the story. The thau- 
maturgical power of the staff is too well-known from the 
voluminous literature bearing on the subject, 10 and it is 
scarcely necessary to dwell upon it here. It is only the 
deeds performed by the aid of the staff that are not known 
anywhere else. 

The element dealing with the deceitful old man ac- 
companying Moses has its counterpart in a similar story 
contained in the Talmud (b. Gittin 680&), according to 
which Ashmedai, the arch-demon, set out on a wandering 
tour with Benaiah b. Jehoiada, the messenger of Solomon. 
During this tour some deeds are performed by the demon 
which are incomprehensible and even repugnant to his 

» R. Kohler, Kleine Schriftcn, III, 170 f. 

10 M. Grunbaum, Neue BeitrSge sur sent. Sagenkunde, 163 f.; see also 
my "Antoninus uAd Rabbi," p. ti, note. 


companion, being utterly unjust and calculated to bring 
divine providence into disrepute. At last the companion is 
made to understand the true meaning of the "wonderful 
deeds" 11 of the unearthly being. This theme is a favorite 
with fairy-tale writers: in French, for instance, we find 
it under the title of I'ange et I'ermite." The roots of this 
fable reach out unto remote antiquity, and their receptive 
soil is the fantastic Orient. The Talmud itself, besides the 
case already cited, contains many other tales of such 
"wonderful deeds."" 

The essence of the Ashmedai story and its predomin- 
ating idea is this, that God's messenger, a supramundane 
being, commits unjust, nay cruel, deeds, punishing the just 
and rewarding the wicked, and his companion, who sees 
these acts, is astonished and amazed, until an explanation 
reaches him. All this is a kind of theodicy. In a Judseo- 
German ne>jflD -book, which has been made accessible to 
us by modern investigation," the hero of the tale is the 
pious R. Joshua b. Levi, who is known from the talmudic 
haggadah, while the prophet Elijah plays the role of the 
thaumaturgist. The narrative begins as following: R. 
Joshua b. L,evi met one day the prophet Elijah, and asked 
him: What is my lord doing all the time? The prophet 

11 IV DM M»7'D 73 is the expression in a parallel passage in Midrash 
Tehillim on 78, 12, p. 177, ed. Buber. 

12 See esp. Isr. Levi in RBI., VIII, 64-73, and 202-205; also ib., XLVIII, 
275-277. The story of Ashmedai and King Solomon is also found in 
WtPpDfl 1BD, and the Genizah fragment forming an Arabic translation of it 
was printed ib., XEV, 305-308. 

18 See b. Taanit 220& and 23a* (see also Abot R. Nathan, Vers. II, c. 
19, p. 2iff, Schechter). Also b. Shabb. 1276.. Comp. also the occurrences in 
the house of Abuiah (the father of Elisha b. Abuiah) in b. Hag. 15a and 
p. Hag. II, 1, fol. 77b. 

14 Griinbaum, Judisch-deutsche Chrestomathie, 303 f. 


answered: I travel about in the world, from city to city, 
from country to country. This prologue is apparently de- 
rived from the Book of Job; yet it must be remarked that 
it is missing in all the Hebrew versions, which are very 
numerous, while the prototype of the Judseo-German 
ntPyiD-book must have contained it. 

Now let us proceed to the examination of our text. 
Moses asks the old man: -Whither goest thou? And he 
answers : I go to and fro in the earth ( Die* ) . This scarcely 
admits of a misconstruction, and it is evident that our text 
bestows on Moses the role of the miracle-worker, while 
the deceitful old man is introduced in the same manner as 
the demon in the Ashmedai story. It is only when we 
consider the demon as model that we understand the role 
of the deceitful old man. The thought of Faust and 
Mephistopheles suggests itself, and this is already of ab- 
sorbing interest to the universal history of civilization. 
Still the introductory words remind me of the Ashmedai 
tale, while the deeds performed by Moses with his staff 
have their parallel, as mentioned above, nowhere else. 

In the absence of a better source let us not omit to 
point out a slight trace, which is liable to give us a clue 
to the character of our story. In the great mediaeval col- 
lection of fables, known under the name Gesta Romanorum, 
we find the following anecdote: Three men travel on the 
road, and all three possess only one loaf of bread. Says 
one : Comrades, let the bread belong to him who will dream 
the most beautiful dream. Two of them fall asleep in 
order to dream the desired dream, but the third man con- 
sumes the bread meanwhile. 15 A violent strife over food 

15 Gesta Roman., ed. Oesterley, p. 436-438; see on p. 728 the unusually 
large literature, among others also Toledot Jesu, which illustrates sufficiently 
the wide currency of this fahle material. 


occurs also in the Jewish "Life of Jesus" (Tolcdot Jeshu, 
ed. Huldreich, 1705, p. 51); however, here not bread is 
involved, but a fat goose, for the possession of which Jesus, 
Peter, and Judas vie with each other, the strife reminding 
us of the controversy between the apostles and Zebedee's 
sons (Matth. 20, 24)," and then Peter maintains that 
he was sitting in his dream near the throne of the Son of 
God. No less a man than Gaston Paris, the famous au- 
thority on fables, to whom we are also indebted for the 
investigation of the above-mentioned legend of the angel 
and the hermit, has already proved that a connection exists 
between this strife and the parable of the "three rings"; 
and it is the same Gaston Paris who links together the 
anecdote of Historia Jcschua Nazareni with an anecdote 
from the Arabic book Nuzhetol Udeba (?) (i. e. 
nuzhat al-udaba) according to which it was the Jew among 
those three men who dreamed that he had consumed the 
bread, and this was naturally the most beautiful dream. 
The point then to be brought out is this, that in the compe- 
tition over the bread the Jew is the wisest, which supposi- 
tion unfortunately does not seem to be borne out in many 

In the same chapter, a special detail still calls for our 
attention. The deers which were captured by means of 
the staff were not consumed entirely: their bones were 
left untouched, and these Moses resuscitated to new life. 
This miracle of Moses does not seem to be simply a copy 
of Ezekiel's resurrection scene, but it rather rests on a 
well-circulated belief, according to which certain parts of 

w See my "Leben Jesn," p. 162 

17 G. Paris, "La Parabole des Trois Anneaux," in RBJ., XI, 15; printed 
again in La Pocsie du Moyen Age, II e serie, II ed., Paris 1903, 159. 


the body, which control animal life, are tabooed. Even 
according to the Torah the blood should not be eaten, 
for the blood is the soul of every flesh (Lev. 17, 14) ; and 
so also the Greeks abstained from eating the brains, be- 
lieving them to be the abode of every sense of life. Even 
in our own days some savage tribes leave entirely un- 
touched the head, the wings, and the legs of the birds 
which they seize and consume, offering these parts as sac- 
rifices to their gods and beseeching them that out of these 
may arise new immortal creatures of the same kind. 18 This 
is the most essential element in this belief, and it may serve 
to elucidate certain ordinances in the Torah (e. g. the 
Passover sacrifice) as well as our anecdote; yet I should 
have preferred finding our anecdote as a whole in some 
one Arabic tale, for, after all that has been said, there can 
be no doubt that also here we must have recourse to 
Arabic sources. However, the proper source is unknown 
to me. Thus also I am unable to fit into a larger frame 
the characteristic trait of Moses, admonishing the deceit- 
ful old man after every miracle to bethink himself before 
he swears and to consider the sanctity of the oath. The 
old man swears impudently and wickedly that he has no 
bread, persevering in this assertion despite the repeated ad- 
monitions, until finally he is caught in his own net. 

As against the difficulty in identifying the one part 
of the narrative, it is a great satisfaction to us to be able 
to state, that in the matter of the youth, 18 who is being 
killed by the old man, there is ample material in the fable 
literature to corroborate it. Of this rich material, as we 

18 Treated by me in the Hungarian Journal Bthnographia, X, 277 £, 

19 pl3*n of the Hebrew text need not be a small child, but, according 
to general usage, may also designate a youth. 


shall note soon, only the following three points have been 
retained in our text: a well ( "1K3 ) in the desert; 20 the 
youth with money in his hand, who is being slain; and 
finally the old man, who stands in some connection with 
the youth. This is all — a mere skeleton, such as the one 
that remained from the slain deer after its flesh had been 
consumed. The pathetic tragedy in the story of the youth 
was equally sacrificed by our narrator, so that only skin 
and bones are left behind. The narrative in its present 
form is stripped of its beauty and great import, and the 
resulting moral is scarcely recognizable. This defacement 
can be accounted for only through lack of understanding 
in the author, or else through an unfortunate accident, for 
deliberate distortion seems to be excluded. The remarkable 
story, as it appears in the Judseo-German "Megillat 
Esther,'" 1 runs in brief as follows: 

It was Moses' habit to roam about in the country, in 
order to give free play to his meditations. Once upon a 
time he was sitting far away from a well, which, however, 
he was able to overlook, ruminating in his usual manner. 
Suddenly he noticed a man approaching the well, drinking 
from it, and resuming his way, after dropping a money-bag 
unknowingly. Immediately after him a poor man came 
to the well, quenched his thirst, picked up the money-bag, 
and departed joyfully. Also a third man came the same 
way, drank, and sat down to rest. Meanwhile the first 
man became aware of his loss, hastened back to the well, 
found there the resting man, and with rage and fury 
demanded his money from him. The latter, knowing him- 

80 In a truly Jewish spirit it says that Moses goes to the well in order 
to purify himself after easing his nature. In all the other versions the 
well seryes only to quench the thirst of the wanderers. 

21 Also in Griinbautn, Judisch-deutsche Chrestomathie, 215 f. 


self innocent, repudiated the accusation with equal vigor, 
so that a quarrel soon ensued with the result that the first 
man, who had lost the money, killed the third man, after 
which he ran away. It is true that Moses, who witnessed 
all this, hastened to the spot in order to save the innocent 
man, but he came there too late, With hands raised to- 
wards heaven, he entreats God to reveal to him these 
mysterious workings of fate, and in answer a voice from 
heaven says : Know that the man who lost the money-bag, 
although pious and God-fearing himself, inherited it from 
his father who had robbed it from the father of the man 
who now found it; and so, by divine Providence, the lat- 
ter came to his rightful possession. The third man, how- 
ever, who was slain, although apparently he committed no 
crime — know that in years gone by he had slain the brother 
of this man, and there were no witnesses to accuse him; 
hence I have ordained it so, that the one who lost the money 
should kill the other at the well, so that his brother might 
be avenged. Thus the human mind, says God, cannot per- 
ceive my measures ( fine ), and therefore let no one say 
that God is unjust. 

This graceful eulogy over fate in the frame of a de- 
lightful narrative was elaborated poetically by the German 
poet Gellert. In his poem "Das Schicksal" he narrates the 
following parable: When Moses stood on the mountain, 
supplicating God to make His way known to him/ 2 God 
commanded him to look down. When he did so, he saw 
a mounted soldier descend from his horse and quench his 
thirst at a well. Scarcely had he gone, when a youth 23 

22 Comp. Exod. 33, 13. 

13 "Knabe" agrees with pii'fl of our text and not with "Mann" of 
the Judso-German text. 


came running from his herd, and drank from the same 
source. Here he found the purse which the soldier had 
lost, and seizing it he returned to his flock. Next came a 
frail old man, sipped from the well, and, overcome by 
fatigue, fell asleep. Meanwhile the rider returned, and 
impetuously demanded his money from the old man. In 
vain the old man asseverates that he had found nothing : the 
rider stabs him. Overwhelmed with grief Moses falls 
on his face, whereupon he hears the divine voice saying: 

"Denn wiss, es hat der Greis, der jetzt im Blute liegt, 

Des Knaben Voter einst erschlagen, 

Der den verlornen Raub zuvor davon getragen." 

The ways of fate are presented in this poem in a gen- 
uine poetical manner and with much more precision than 
in the Judaeo-German text: The victim is an old man who 
cannot defend himself; seemingly he deserves our com- 
passion, in reality, however, he is the slayer of the father 
of the youth, who had found the money, and thus the 
latter unconsciously becomes the instrument through 
which the slayer of his father receives his long-delayed 

Many people have found delight in Gellert's poem, 
without surmising that the fable which forms the basis of 
this poem is of Oriental origin. This fact became known 
in i860, when it was pointed out for the first time that Gel- 
lert's poem bears striking resemblance to a poem by a 
Persian poet Gami whose Persian text together with an 
English translation was first published in the Journal of the 
Asiatic Society of Bengal, i860, pp. 10-17. Also accord- 
ing to the Persian poet Moses desires to fathom God's 
decrees, whereupon God makes him observe these incidents 


at a well: a horseman comes galloping to the well, in the 
same manner as the prophet Al-Chidr ( <r i£-\ ) in form- 
er days. He divests himself of his raiment, and bathes 
hurriedly in the water. On leaving, he forgets his purse 
on the ground near the water. A wanderer wends his 
way towards the same place, where he beholds the money, 
and seizing it, he makes haste to depart. After him comes 
a blind old man, performs the ritual ablutions and also the 
prayers prescribed to a pilgrim. At this point the horse- 
man comes back, and boisterously demands his money. 
The blind old man retorts harshly, whereupon he is slain. 
Moses is startled at the sight of these things, and he en- 
treats God to grant him an explanation. 

Then came the Divine Voice: "Oh thou censurer of 
my ways, 

Square not these doings of mine with thy rule ! 
That young boy had once a father 

Who worked for hire and so gained his bread ; 
He wrought for that horseman and built him his house 

Long he wrought in that house for hire, 
But ere he received his due, he fell down and died, 

And in that purse was the hire, which the youth 
carried away. 
Again, that blind man in his young days of sight 

Had spilt the blood of his murderer's father ; 
The son by the law of retaliation slays him to-day. 

And gives him release from the price of blood in 
the day of retribution." 

In Gami's poem as well as in our Hebrew text the 
motive for seeking the well consists in the ritual ablutions 


and the required prayers, and this motive is intelligible only 
to Jews and Mohammedans. Gellert, the Occidental bard, 
had to reject such a motive as being beyond the compre- 
hension of his readers, and hence he speaks of drinking 
from the well. This slight deviation does not, of course, 
exclude the assumption that he was guided by an Oriental 
archetype. It is true that he knew no Persian ; it is equally 
true that Gami's poem remained unpublished in his days. 
Still the scholar who first pointed to Garni 34 concludes his 
observations as follows: "Gellert undoubtedly derived his 
story from No. 237 of the "Spectator,'" 5 where it was 
rendered by Hughes as an old Jewish tradition. Both 
redactions, however, the one by Hughes (=Gellert) as well 
as the one by ("rami, go positively back to a single ultimate 
source. Which is this? I conjecture that this legend was 
originally incorporated in an Arabic fable collection, which 
Gami used directly and which, translated into Hebrew, 
became known to Hughes. An authentication of both the 
Arabic original and the Hebrew translation would prove 
of great interest." 

Dr. Cyrus Adler has kindly called my attention to a 
poem by Thomas Parnell (1679-1717) entitled "The 
Hermit" (see The Poems of Dr. Thomas Parnell, in The 
Works of the English Poets, edited by Samuel Johnson, 
London 1790, vol. XXVII, p. 81), in which two hundred 
years ago the same matter was poetically treated. In this 
poem the Hermit is wandering with a Youth and becomes 
witness of apparently unjust deeds. In a noble house he 
steals a cup of great value and gives it to an avaricious 

M H. Brockhaus in ZDMG., XIV (i860), 710. 

25 The Spectator, III, London, 1753, p. 264; yet the article is not signed 
by Hughes, but by somebody with an initial C. 


landlord. In another noble house he kills the only son of 
his host; furthermore, on the road, he makes a servant 
perish in the floods of a rapid stream. To the astonished 
Hermit he finally explains the motives of his acts, teaching 
him as follows: 

"Then know the truth of government divine, 
And let these scruples be no longer thine. 

The Maker justly claims that world he made, 
In this the right of Providence is laid. . . .". 

The wish of the scholar that the source might be 
identified has not yet, as far as I can see, been realized, 
and even to-day, after a space of fifty years, it still re- 
mains a desideratum. As to the Hebrew source, the Judseo- 
German text demonstrates sufficiently that the legend was 
known also in Jewish circles, and our Hebrew text, which 
contains the rudiments of the legend, shows it in its He- 
brew garb. But the Arabic original is still missing. In its 
stead an additional Persian text has been found which 
tells the same story in prose." Also here we have a horse- 
man and religious ablutions, and also here the victim is 
a blind man. The explanation imparted to Moses runs 
like this: The father of the money-finding youth was a 
shepherd to the horseman, and the latter refused him his 
justly earned wages. In the purse there was exactly the 
amount that the horseman owed to the shepherd. The 
blind man, however, had formerly killed the horseman's 
father, and so the son, by slaying him, had only exercised 
the right of retaliation. 

The horseman, figuring in the Persian texts and also 
in Gellert's poem, might induce us for a moment to think 

!S Behrmaner in ZDMG., XVI (1862), 762. 


that the Gesta Romctnorum is the source sought for since 
most of the stories in this collection turn about a soldier 
(miles). However, this is not the right clue; let us rather 
keep constantly the Arabic source in mind. Thus I con- 
sider it useful to point to a well-known passage in the 
Koran which seems to contain not alone the story of fate, 
but also the whole of our Hebrew text. The Koran is 
a kind of reservoir that has preserved many Jewish legends ; 
but more than that, it is also the living fountain from which 
spring forth new legends. The Koran may have been 
instrumental in shaping the Moses legend among the Arabs 
as it appears in our Hebrew text to-day. The following 
is related in the Koran, ch. XVIII, verses 59-82 f 

Moses goes forth with his servant (Joshua) to the 
place where the two seas meet. 28 Near that place the ser- 
vant forgets his fish, and this takes its way freely in the 
sea. As they wander farther, 29 Moses desires to eat. Then 
it dawns upon his servant, that he forgot the fish on the 
rock on which they lodged during the tide, and that this 
was nothing else but the doing of Satan. 3 " Continuing 
their tour of inspection they encounter Al-Chidr, 31 and 
Moses begs leave to follow him. The divine man bores a 
hole in a ship, kills a youth, and builds the wall of a city 
whose inhabitants refused to give them food. Moses is 
astounded, and then he is initiated into the mysteries of 

27 This passage in the Koran was already pointed out by A. Geiger and 
Isr. Levi; recently it was treated by Wiinsche, Aus Israel's Lehrhallen, 173 f. 
" Hence Moses investigates also here, as well as in the other legends. 

29 The motive of wandering recurs in all the versions. 

30 Comp. what was said above concerning the role of Satan. 

31 The prophet Elijah. 


The relation of Moses to Al-Chidr, the deeds accom- 
plished by Al-Chidr, the explanation, and so forth — all 
this agrees with what we know from the Talmud and the 
nBT?D-book about Ashmedai and Benaiah, or about Elijah 
and Moses. But also the motives of our new Hebrew text 
recur here: the old man resembles Satan of the Arabs; 
denial of the bread corresponds to the loss of the fish; 
slaying of the youth; arrival in an inhospitable city, and 
so on. We may therefore assume that our text was de- 
rived from an Arabic original which in one way or an- 
other enlarged upon the version of the Koran. The vari- 
ations in the Hebrew text are conscious and intentional, 
taking into account the Jewish standpoint and also the high 
rank of Moses. Equally intentional is the Jewish color 
given to the story of the speaking wolf. 

And now the story of the third chapter still remains 
to be treated. Its chief feature forms the retribution of 
the deceitful old man at the hand of the camel-drivers. 
whom he sought to deprive of their reward. At last he 
was "the biter bitten." This familiar quotation forms the 
key-note after which many products of the fable literature 
are modeled and cast, e. g. a number of stories by Margaret 
of Navarre in the "Heptameron" which appeared in 1543" 
All these narratives, as the "Three Rings" in Lessing's 
"Nathan der Weise," are derived, as is well-known, from 
the Orient. 

At last we come to the investigation of the singular 
title TBV in by nwo which constitutes the heading of 
our narrative. This title is found as heading on every 
page of the original manuscript, and since this contains 
nine pages in small quarto, the title recurs nine times, and 

** See Buchmann, Geflilgelte Worte, 21st ed., p. 156. 


is therefore absolutely certain. In addition, the term 
TEW "in occurs three times in the text itself : first, 
when the wolf swears to guard the sheep faithfully, saying: 
If I eat them, let me be "of the tenth generation" ; a second 
time, when Moses, perceiving that the old man perjured 
himself, observes, Truly, this man belongs to the tenth 
generation; a third time, when the author himself observes 
that the moral which the story aims to propound is this, 
that men of the tenth generation are heretics. Thus the 
author operates with the expression "tenth generation" as 
with a well-known phrase, though we are unable to tell 
whence he got it. In the Talmud and Midrash it does not 
occur with this particular connotation. It is true that we 
find in the Talmud the expression tvwbw rob pJDITO 38 , and 
'Xrvbn |c6 34 even seems to be a fixed phrase; how- 
ever, we are unable to establish any connection between 
these forms of speech and the case before us. The Bible, 
indeed, offers us the expression TPU "in ready-made in 
the following sentence: "Even to the tenth generation shall 
none belonging to them enter into the assembly of the 
Lord forever" (Deut. 23, 4) ; yet I do not know any 
Midrash or commentary on this passage which would stamp 
these words as a fixed term having a color of its own. 
Thus nothing remains but to think of the Mishnic expres- 
sion : Ten generations there were from Adam unto Noah, 
and ten generations there were from Noah unto Abraham, 
and all of these were wicked before God (Abot v, 2) ; and 
so it seems that, due to an association of ideas, the term 
"tenth generation" was coupled with the term "wicked 

88 p. Hag. II, 1, fol. Tja, line 72; b. Hag. 146; Midrash Hagadol on 
Gen. 1, 1, p. 6, ed. Schechter. Comp. the excellent deductions of Bacher, 
Ag. der Tann., I, 2d ed., p. 15. 

84 For proofs see Grunbaum, Beitrage sur Sent. Sagenkunde, p. 47. 


generation." The text itself mentions only the generation 
of the flood and the generation of the dispersion, both 
being subjects of repeated mention by the rabbis. This 
clue is far from being faultless, and we would gladly 
exchange it for something better. Thus it deserves to be 
noted that the primitive Christians were called by their 
enemies "new people" and "third generation" 35 and this is 
conceivable only when those words conveyed an insult or 
a curse. Furthermore, a responsum of Hai Gaon is to be 
taken into consideration which fits our case especially, 
since it gives information concerning apologues and had 
its origin in Arabic soil. In the apologue cited therein for 
illustration we find it repeated time and again that the 
lion who committed a robbery receives his punishment in 
the third generation. 36 

The composition and language of our text are not quite 
what one would wish. We have already called attention 
to the fact that the narrative sometimes has a sudden break, 
and that, for instance, the slaying of the youth is more 
hinted at than placed in firm relief. As to the language, 
it is by no means as beautiful as we find it in the collection 
of narratives ascribed to R. Nissim. Still the author made 
an effort to imitate the style of the later Midrashim and 
to write a pure Hebrew which is, as far as I can see, 
purged of Aramaisms and Arabisms. However, his style 
is very clumsy and unwieldy, having neither swing nor 
poetry. It seems that the author was not a man of literary 
skill, that he did not belong to the guild of the learned, but 
was a man of the people who derived pleasure from 

36 Harnack, Mission und Ausbreitung des Christentums, ist ed., book II, 
ch. 6, with Excurs. (esp. p. 200 f.), where the peculiar expression is ex- 
plained thoroughly. 

36 B'JIKan niaitWl, ed. I^ck, No. 30, p. 13. 


fairy-tales and fables and who, finding a model fitting his 
purpose, excerpts one thing 8 ' and disregards another. Cer- 
tainly literary achievement was not his strong point. 

Despite all that, we find him quoting from the Talmud, 
as e. g. the sentence b)T D"tX pK ruiDK "bill b'Ti riOK 131 
JwriDa Tioyb which, however, is not found anywhere 
in this wording. The phrase Die DniVM bs vb, to 
judge by appearance, is not a rabbinical proverb, but 
some philosophical maxim. The sentence "He who 
walks with his neighbor four yards will not suffer 
any punishment" ( pri nx jn^p Tape) which is cited 
in the name of the rabbis is likewise not to be 
found. At the end of the narrative the author, under 
lnONCP 103 (as we have said), introduces a preceding sen- 
tence which, however, is not found in our text, but must 
have been in the larger work which formed the prototype. 
We shall be able to appreciate the disposition of our author 
only then, when we shall have found the models which he 
followed, or did not follow, not in mere fragments, but as 
a composite whole; for we are absolutely sure that he was 
a compiler. That which has remained without elucidation 
in this treatise will probably be explained conclusively 
by others who are more familiar with folk-lore than the 
writer of these lines. 

nTOn *in by newo 

)b noii ,ia-toa njrn wnv Di^en vby wan neoa neyo [n] 
,astn lniK ira-i ne>o butt sac? ~iy . \ib axr niona ma -\xbn 
. woo ntro ktvu to . DTt^xn e»k wnx nns yby di^c? ib "ion 

37 This is perhaps the reason why we have in our text numerous dots 
which have been reproduced by us. 


Dnento am 'jkc jxxn jd 'b jn noo ns?p33 ib "iok ,3Ktn ;wtn 
"idn ! nnaio nvnn p« ne>o ib "ion . ^cr pain 38 s<boKi njoo 
«b jn i "p -iokh Tf by fnj'b min rrvnyw nm ,ncob awn 
{tren ibs f nw3 ib "iok . nsv pn ntryxi 'a-nb 'b "ibxrmnoa 
'"» D ,, p3 orvm mox rninm ^imn nrvb jKvm ,*bw Drx 
-iok jab inv njrn nwa wan 31pm ,T3&? xbx , 3 , ni jbsw'oi 
bo' dik pK naiDK 'bpa b"n nox nai , 39 a"pi aim ^bas ova wn 
rur bvx nb xbx ,"|bvs< at^b Tixa s<b astn idk ."jwnos *iioi?b 
I«xn bvN 3t5» »o ,ib nouo ibKtr yiana dk nco not* ...ib "iioki 
nns nnx «bn onoj noa D'axr noa ,na-io wn iku' 1 abm ,D-iot?b 
DniN iiotyb wjn dn 3Ktn -iok ..."mbaiw nrno i"p xbm ,ono 
baix dm ...Dibs ;n» bais< s<be> D'ocb n-tiai?n ,jno nnx pnx s<b 
nabsn im boon -in rwvao D^bnj on nop Tnw tho 42 n.t 
Dnwo moil /"d'jbto ovipw an ,-jb wokc «w b"N ../"poii 
...ib iptnc D'twon b33 nrvb tail nw ibn 3"n« . -prb nu^ 
Nini 3N?n bvs< ne>o -|bn . n<a yn jNvn nnaoo 1b jn rov b"N 
lb npne> b"N ?"pmn ib ion no b"N ,vai3 pa icsoi jxvn -ioicp 

...wn*i xbi 13 bariDJ . jNvn "inaoo 

n'30 nnpbe' nu noon 45 nivni 3-im -inb ntro ibn D'cb [3] 
Hint? -tin /"rue* s"" 1 dp nncn DniDxn n<33 mix nDNP nycs ,nn' 
Dibts> b"N ,ipr nnx dik invo ,D'3-n nensb j>"Jn ,13103 ^13 ibno 
oit^b b"N ? ibm nriK ja'nb ntrD b"N n'bp Dibs? b"x o^an Tby 

38 ms. 'Snm. 

35 = rt»f>3 mpi (Gen. 31, 40). 

40 Comp. b. Taanit 8a '13 fUOK 'tys ; b. 5ag. 17a; p. Shabbat VI, 
end, fol. Bd, 1. 27. 

41 Fragmentary. 
« Perhaps KriK? 

43 nn'Bvn? 

44 Comp. below, end. 

45 flea in our text is fem. The writer had the Arabic KSJ? in mind. 

48 According to Sefer Ha-Yaihar on Shemot (ed. Zolkiew, 1875. p. 
536 and 540) ten years. 


njsm yi? Dipo Kb writ? >sh ,12102 i>i3&6 na ~\b v* b"t* , <T pK3 
•ne> *i> er> e»xn iniK ids ...ndxi jui st"i? 49 xnn j6s? "t 2 ^ 

D3iyjl K13 V'K ,niKpDl^J 'J 'b B» 'JK1 HE'D b"K ..."niKpDI^I 

DniK npbi p'joa lber inx b2 N'xin 3"n« . -p-6 mx wb rprt'virp 
.lbx bv "inyi jn nsro ^"s . ibtd by tnji ib'oim in> 51 Dtyyi jprn 
ns a'tfJB' Ha nan id bsso nrb nt iiok ,pb'o 'n in pb'o 'i ids isbn 
3"nx ...di!)3ki 133 inx bnb mxpDibj tic wxin ; 3ym to iwbj 
.bni pajn nine' iy miKBon jpm T3 nnnxn 'an Dnb 52 D'i obn 
'3 lK'tfin ! utucbj ns True H3 "ov Ijsw ,iTan5 inx bs idk 
'vn i»3 13103 «W iy in« 133 onb ttiboi .di^ki niKpDiba 
tprn iniK cron .ui> i»neoe> i33n ub jn tptb ntpo ios ; dim 
is W iy . miss 'i n^n orb pxtr mion nyne jntwi i33n 
,tptn ini*6 neo ion . D'sav 'jb» n"3pn onb pn 1113 oyo 
'jk noie '3i n"y i"ob |ptn idx iD'aaxn jo inx ub jn ~\b 
noon np ntro b"a ...?'3xn p bp e» '3i ,D'«3xn bxx i,W 
mi> 1^3' &6i dso.ii ii'3 noon npb . dijjs nmx neyi its 
,jprb ntro ion . »i>v one ne>yi ne>o Done-i onpb to ,ooipoo 
,D'N3xn }o mpbi mci ibaKt? 15? . moxyn p i3t?n s6ts» intn 
nban &aroi D.i'by "nrwrn noon npbi ,ioxy by oxy nco man 
iok . dt^ji bv noyi D'soxn nx n"3pn n'nni win vsb nob& 
ie»3 xb hnb pNi D'soxn tin Tnne> '03 uk isrsifo ,]p\b neo 

n^K' t6l 1^3K N^K* y3tTJ ; 133.1 bv ^K'JUp n'W bw DH'i N^l 

41 Comp. Job 1, 7; 2, 2. 

48 Num. 20, 5. 

'» Perhaps »T» ? 

M KoAA(f, see my Lehnworter, II, 175, and what I have written in the 
Nahum Sokolow Jubilee Book (Warsaw 1904), p. 489. 

51 Perhaps DD'B»1 ? 

" [l1Kn]B"l ? Comp. below T'fWJl. Or is it [l«]B"l ? Perhaps 
nilKE'jn is to be connected with ni"in»n. 

58 Arabism. 

M ms. nnj'.n. 

M The phrase K'Jljp TVBy occurs frequently in the Talmud, and is 
derived from the Greek KOivuvla , which the 'Aruk explains by AMtBI 


D'o onb N'vim noon ncD npb ,D'»b 1x0x1 -iano3 iabn . t 1a 

'03 'JN 1J?'3£5>D tptb nt5>D IDS ;11TI WW nj? t5>'obnn "I1VD 

njit5>s-iaa nyne jneo ,-iaaa t nnbsr xhvwKbrm -iixd D'o «'¥ine> 
■vy qv 1NS01 iabn nma lb: neo -ion . ns «bi 13 t nbt? sbe 
. 3«a Dnb n'm ins jpr M Dnb n'ns? 'sb D'aia Tim via vm nn« 
!ie>sj nnn wrwaj nan not? ?Dabia D'bu Dns nob ne>o b"N 
tfin ri'by noon mini non mix by bbsnji new an'bv ann 
p\ib non ns nvint? 'Da 'jn lyaeo ,jptb nt5>o -ion . n'm non 
neo ids . ns xbi t « nbt? t6w mien nyi3B» yaeo naan to 
,vpDyb nt5>D hjsj ,-ianea labnc ny . 'inu nW "Trie rw yiT3 
'oxy nx inosi ibxs? ny Yra .noon nt njn ,}ptb neo -idn 
nsr ,-ioni lovys can i3n ,ioyo neo n,bne ny ;nsan it3 
n^nxi nriiK npsi ibx ,ibsn D'D'jn ba neo na nvyv noon 
dc kvd ,tvi3 [x]ine> ny .n,bm nniN npb .d-tidd na n3 
pirn obxa n'm maer vn — dh^vd no naan ww nns nsa 
npb moo na npbi pirnn nm |pt win N3 ,jiod ioy tw 
1-idn Djnb xbi ,ru?Da wspp nuD n'm /pmnn by nrvom noon 
iyv3 Nine iKxo ,mnx spm noe X3C ny , 57 dw nnivn ba Nb 
mnm neo bbsnJ /^esi nnn csj moN mwm ,innb D^pao 
ba b"n done? •■sb ,nn'on ;d jptn csj ns b^m pirnn nN 
. 69 pn nx jmby Tape n"apn iTani sin m»s j?3"in nbinn 

isyn jd ""nma ; j n^D ncyi Snj dc ikvd labnc ny [j] 
no ntn ,jptn misb n^D ids . ant icwi n^D on^y M>s>nJi 
ns base »o lb ioK ,nr 'ob n"jnob |pw 1b ion 1 n"apn ncy 
ns 'nbaxc xin 'jn ,jptn -idn . baN xbc 'ob nnxi 'a np' naan 
nco ib "|bm ,ban np ioo ne>p33 nro -ion mine ny ,i3an 
lsac ny ,3ntn by jpt mix lyo^j a"ns ,«3 )3'n yr xbi n"yi 

M arh naw? 

6T This quotation is unknown to me; it seems to be a philosophical 

M Ex. 21, 23. 

** Citation not identified. 

«° Sing. n3 . 


'jb> ,anrn rite i«n i*oa tptn on!) -ids ,d^ds onoy e>*i ms ya 
Yyn DNto jn -|b xta /D^jn urux n»x . nab inso »b D^e> 
nwTjn nmsa iab ac5»m iW ny i wwai ns rrnjc na 
ns itw dSxn xia's? nyt?a iae>n om ; nan pa man dd d.-6 
ikboi ,in»i nan p tax Dm , wjo nx lt'nn «ae> ny ; wto 
,i31dkb> ioa ,nnsia >W tyte> yvnt? na nt bai ,i»xie jiDion 
u^y n"a dbti) . o»jn Dm cnaa D'npB> D'jcna D'jyau> one* 
(. 62 jn"^wi •V-ok .mDn jyobi io&5> jyob ono 

« psi »n« p 1BK. 

62 nfny twa S»A mp d^»ji an.