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Chronicles of Jerahmeel, by M. Gaster [1899], at

XXXIV. (1) The sages tell that when our forefather Abraham was born a star appeared, which swallowed up four other stars from the four sides of the heavens. When the astrologers of Nimrod saw this they forthwith went to Nimrod and said, 'Nimrod, of a certainty there is born to-day a lad who is destined to inherit both this world and the world to come. Now, if it is thy wish, let us give his father and mother a large sum of money, and then kill him. 'Whatever his father and mother wish shall be given to them.' What kind of child is he whom ye seek to kill?' asked Nimrod. 'A boy,' said they, 'was born to-day, and a star appeared which swallowed up four stars of the heavens, and he is destined to inherit this world and the world to come.'

(2) Then said Terah, for Terah, the father of Abraham, was present there, 'This thing which you suggest is to be compared to a mule, to which man says, "I will give thee a quantity of barley, as much as a houseful, on condition that I cut off thy head." The mule replies, "Fool that thou art; if thou cuttest off my head, of what use will the barley be to me, and who will eat it when thou givest it to me?" Thus I say unto you, if ye slay the son, who will inherit the goods and the money which ye give to his parents?' To this they answered, 'From thy words we perceive that a son has been born to thee.' 'A son has been born to me, but he is now dead.' 'But we speak of a living son, and not of one dead,' added they.

(3) When Terah heard their words he immediately went home, and hid his son Abraham in a cave for three years. After that time he brought him forth. As soon as Abraham saw the rising sun in the east he said to himself, 'Of a certainty this is the lord of the whole world, and to him I pray; he created me and the whole world.' When he saw the moon he said, 'This is the lord of the whole world, and to him I shall supplicate; he created me and

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the whole world.' Thus when evening came, and the sun had set and the moon had risen, he prayed to the moon the whole night. When, however, the morning came, the moon set and the sun rose. As soon as he saw the sun on the morrow Abraham said, 'Now do I know that neither the one nor the other is lord of the world, but that both of them are servants of another Master, and that is Lord who created the heavens and the earth and the whole world.'

(4) Then Abraham forthwith asked his father, 'Who created this world, the heavens, and the earth?' And Terah, his father, replied, 'This great image is our god.' If this is true,' said Abraham, 'I shall bring a sacrifice to him, and he will be pleased with me, as he is with other people.' He thereupon went to his father, and said, 'Make for me a cake of fine flour that I may offer it to him.' His father, complying with his request, made him a cake of fine flour, which Abraham took and offered before the great idol, saying, 'Accept this offering from me;' but he neither took it nor ate it nor drank it. (6) When Abraham saw this he went to his mother, and said, 'Make me a meal offering better than this, that I may offer it to the god of my father.' When she made it Abraham took the meal offering to the little image, saying, 'Accept thou this meal offering from my hand, and be pleased with me as thou art with other men.' Seeing that he did not reply, Abraham said, 'This offering has not been made to his liking.' (7) Then going once more to his mother, he said, 'Prepare a meal offering better still than this.' She did so, and Abraham presented the offering to the image. When he perceived that it neither ate nor drank nor answered him a word he went once more to the large image, and said, 'I entreat thee to receive this offering from me; do thou eat and drink and be pleased with me as thou art with other men.' But as neither of them replied to him, Abraham waxed very angry, and the spirit of prophecy rested upon him, and he said, 'They have eyes, but see not; ears, but hear not; they have hands, but do not move them; and feet, but do not walk; nor do their throats

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give utterance. Like them are their makers and all those who trust in them.' He then kindled a fire and burned them.

(9) When Terah arrived home and found his idols burnt, he went to Abraham, and said, 'Who has burnt my gods?' And Abraham replied, 'The large one picked a quarrel with the little ones, and burnt them because he was angry with them.' 'Fool that thou art,' said his father, 'how canst thou say that he who cannot see nor hear nor walk, that he who has no power could burn them?' Then said Abraham to his father, 'O my father, hear what thy mouth utters; why dost thou forsake the living God who created the heavens and the earth, and servest gods that neither see nor hear?' (10) Thereupon Terah took Abraham, our ancestor, and went with him to Nimrod. And Terah said to Nimrod, 'O my lord the king, judge this my son who has burned my gods, and find out who is the God which he makes for himself.' 'Who is this man?' said Nimrod. 'My son.' Then added Nimrod, 'Why hast thou acted thus and burned the idols?' 'I did not do this, nor did I burn them,' said Abraham. 'Who, then, did act thus and burn them?' 'The great idol burnt them,' said he. 'Fool that thou art,' replied Nimrod. 'how canst thou say that that which cannot stand by itself, cannot hear nor see, nor hath any power could burn them?' 'Hear thou, my lord, what thy mouth utters. Why dost thou forsake the living God, who created the heavens and the earth and who created thee, and in whose hand is the Spirit of all living, and worshippest other gods of wood and stone, which do not hear nor see nor speak?' (11) 'Who, then,' said Nimrod, 'created the heavens and the earth, if not I?' 'Art thou he?' queried Abraham. I am,' replied he. Then by this I shall know that thou art the creator of everything. Behold, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west: if thou canst by thy command cause the sun to rise in the west and to set in the east, I shall then know and believe that thou didst create all.' When Nimrod heard Abraham's words he was

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dumbfounded; he put his hand to his beard and was wonder-struck at his words.

(12) As soon as the astrologers saw Abraham they recognised him at once, and said to Nimrod, 'O lord the king, this is the child of whom we spoke on the day of his birth, and whom thou didst desire to slay. If it be thy will, we shall bring thee wood and burn him to death, and then compensate his parents with a large sum of money. Now, O lord, since he has come into our hands, let us burn him in the fire.' 'Do then your will,' said Nimrod. They forthwith went away, and having heated the furnace for seven (whole) days, cast him into it.

(13) Then spake the angels to God, saying, 'O Lord of the universe, let us go and deliver this man from the fiery furnace.' At that moment a dispute arose among the angels who said, 'Let us descend and deliver this man from the furnace.' One said, 'I shall go down to deliver him,' and another said, 'I shall go down to deliver him.' Michael said, 'I shall go down,' and Gabriel said, 'I shall go down.' Then spake God himself to Gabriel, and said, 'I am One in My world, and so is this man, who was the first to declare the unity of My name in the world. It is, therefore, meet that I the One should go down and rescue him who is also one in his generation. It is pleasing to Me to descend and rescue him from the fiery furnace.' At that moment God descended in His glory and in His strength, and delivered him from the furnace of fire. He brought him forth without a blemish. When all the nations saw that Abraham was thus delivered from the burning furnace, they forthwith sanctified the name of God, and some of them were made proselytes through the means of Abraham our ancestor.

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