Sacred Texts  Bible  Index  Previous  Next 

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

XLIV. (1) There was a Levite in the land of Egypt whose name was Amram, the son of Qehath, the son of Levi, the son of Jacob. This man betrothed Jochebed, the daughter of Levi, the sister of his father, and she conceived and bare a daughter, and called her name Miriam (the bitter), because in those days people began to embitter the lives of the Israelites. She conceived again and bare a son, whose name she called Aaron (pregnancy), because during the time of her pregnancy Pharaoh began to shed the blood of their males upon the ground, and to cast them into the river of Egypt. When, however, the word of the king and his decree became known respecting the casting of their males into the river, many of God's people separated from their wives, as did Amram from his wife.

(2) After the lapse of three years the Spirit of God came

p. 109

upon Miriam, so that she went forth and prophesied in the house, saying, 'Behold, a son shall be born to my mother and father, and he shall rescue the Israelites from the hands of the Egyptians.' When Amram heard his young daughter's prophecy he took back his wife, from whom he had separated in consequence of Pharaoh's decree to destroy all the male line of the house of Jacob. After three years of separation he went to her and she conceived. And it came to pass at the end of six months from the time of her conception that she bare a son. The whole house was at that moment filled with a great light, as the light of the sun and the moon in their splendour. The woman saw that the child was good and beautiful to behold, so she hid him in an inner room for three months.

(3) At that time the Egyptian women took secret counsel together to destroy the Hebrew women; they, therefore, went to the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were carrying their little children who could not speak upon their shoulders. The Hebrew women then hid their children from the Egyptians, so that their existence might not become known to them, in order to preserve them from destruction and annihilation. The Egyptian women came thus to Goshen with their children who could not speak, and when one of them came into the house of the Hebrew she made her own child chatter in the child's language, and the hidden child, hearing it, replied in the same manner. The Egyptian women thereupon went to Pharaoh's house to tell him of it, and Pharaoh sent his officers to slay those children.

(4) After that child (Moses) had been hidden now for three months and it thus became known to Pharaoh, the mother took the child and placed it in a little ark of bulrushes, which she daubed with slime and with pitch. She then hurriedly placed the child among the flags by the river's brink, while his sister stood at a distance to wit what would be done to him.

(5) God then sent drought and great heat in the land of Egypt, so that it burnt one's very flesh upon him just

p. 110

as when the sun is in its strength. The Egyptians were therefore sorely troubled. Pharaoh's daughter went down by the river-side to bathe, as did all the Egyptian women, on account of the heat and the drought. Her handmaids and all Pharaoh's concubines went with her. While thus occupied, she beheld the ark floating on the water, and sent her handmaid to fetch it. On opening the box, she discovered the child. It began to cry, and she had pity upon it, and said, 'This is one of the Hebrew children.' (6) At this the Egyptian women by the river came up for the purpose of suckling it, but it refused to take them. God wished to return it to the breast of its mother. The child's sister Miriam then said to Pharaoh's daughter, 'Shall I go and call a Hebrew nurse to suckle the child?' 'Yes,' said she. And she forthwith called the child's own mother. Then said Pharaoh's daughter, 'Take this child and suckle it for me, and I will give thee as a reward a monthly wage of two pieces of silver;' so the woman took the child and nursed it. (7) After two years she brought it to Pharaoh's daughter, who adopted it, and she called its name Moses, 'for from the waters I drew him.' But his father called him 'Ḥeber,' because for his sake he joined his wife again from whom he had separated himself; while his mother called him 'Yequtiel,' because 'I placed my hope in God the Almighty,' and He returned him to her. His sister called him 'Yered,' because she went down to the river after him to know what his end would be; while his brother called him 'Abi Zanoaḥ,' saying, My father separated from my mother, but returned to her on account of this child.' Kehath, his grandfather, named him 'Abigedor,' because for his sake God closed up the breach of the house of Jacob, so that they no more cast the children into the water. His nurse called him 'Abi Sokho,' saying that he was hidden in a tent (or box) for three months out of fear of the descendants of Ham; and all Israel called him 'Ben Nethanel,' because in his days God heard their groaning.

(8) In the third year of Moses’ birth, when Pharaoh was sitting at his meal, with his mistress on his right hand, his

p. 111

daughter on his left, and the child in her lap, and all the princes of the kingdom sitting round the table, it happened that the child stretched out his hand, and, taking the crown from the king's head, placed it upon his own. The king and the princes, on seeing this, were confused and exceedingly astonished. (9) Then Balaam, the enchanter, one of the king's eunuchs, said, 'Rememberest thou, my lord the king, the dream which thou didst dream and the interpretation thy servant gave it? Now, is this not one of the children of the Hebrews in whom the spirit of God is? By his wisdom he has done this and has chosen for himself the kingdom of Egypt. Thus did Abraham, who weakened the power of Nimrod, the King of the Chaldeans, and Abimelech, King of Gerar, and inherited the land of the children of Ḥeth and all the kingdoms of Canaan. He also went down to Egypt, and said of his wife, "She is my sister," for the purpose of placing a stumbling-block in the way of the Egyptians and their king. Isaac did the same in Philistia when he sojourned in Gerar. He grew stronger than all the Philistines. Their king he also wished to lead astray when he said of his wife, "She is my sister." Jacob also went stealthily and took away his only brother's birthright and his blessing withal. He then went to Padan Aram, to the house of Laban, his maternal uncle, and by his cunning obtained his daughters, his cattle, and all that he had. He then fled to the land of Canaan. (10) His sons again sold Joseph into Egypt, where he was put in prison for two years, until the Pharaoh before thee dreamt dreams. He was then taken from prison and appointed over the princes of Egypt, on account of the interpretation of these dreams. When God brought a famine upon the land he brought his father and his brothers to Egypt. He maintained them without paying for it, and us he bought for slaves. If, now, it seems good to the king, let us shed the blood of this child, lest, when he grows up, he take the kingdom from thy hands, and Egypt perish.'

(11) God at that moment sent one of his angels, named

p. 112

[paragraph continues] Gabriel, who assumed the form of one of them. 'If it pleaseth the king,' said the angel, 'let onyx stones and live-coals be brought and placed before the child, and it shall come to pass, if he stretches forth his hand to the coals, then know that he has not done this by his wisdom, and let him live.' This thing being good in the eyes of the king and the princes, they acted according to the word of the angel, and they brought him the onyx and the coals. The angel then placed the child's hand near the coal so that his fingers touched it. He lifted it to his mouth and burnt his lips and his tongue, so that he became heavy of speech. The king and the princes then desisted from killing the child. (12) He lived for fifteen years afterwards in the king's palace, clothed in .garments of purple, for he was reared together with the king's sons. When he was in his eighteenth year the lad longed for his parents, and consequently went to them. He went out to his brethren in the field and looked upon their burdens. He there saw an Egyptian smite one of his Hebrew brethren. When the man that was beaten saw Moses he ran to him for help, for Moses was a greatly-honoured man in Pharaoh's house. He said to him, 'O my Lord, this Egyptian came into my house in the night and, binding me with cords, went to my wife in my very presence, and he now seeks my life.' When Moses heard this evil deed he was exceedingly angry, and, turning this way and that to see that nobody was looking, he smote the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. He thus saved the Hebrew from the hand of the Egyptian. (13) Moses then returned to the palace, and the Hebrew to his house. When the man returned to his house he told his wife that he wished to divorce her, because it was not right for one of the house of Jacob to lie with his wife after she had been defiled. So the woman went out and told her brothers, who thereupon sought to kill him, but he fled into his house, and thus escaped.

(14) On the next day Moses went out to his brethren, and, seeing that some were quarrelling, he said to the wicked

p. 113

one, 'Why dost thou beat thy neighbour?' But one of them retorted, 'Who made thee to be a prince and judge over us? Wilt thou slay us as thou didst slay the Egyptian?' Moses by this perceived that the thing was already known. (15) Pharaoh immediately got to hear of it, and ordered Moses to be slain. But God sent Michael, the captain of His heavenly host, in the likeness of the chief butcher (slayer). He then took his sword and severed the head of the chief butcher, for his face was changed to the exact likeness of Moses. The angel then took hold of Moses’ hand, and, bringing him forth from Egypt, placed him outside its border, a distance of forty days’ journey. But Aaron yet remained in Egypt, who prophesied to the Israelites in the midst of the Egyptians, saying, 'Cast away from you the abominations of the Egyptians, and do not defile yourselves with their idols.' But the Israelites rebelled and would not listen. The Lord then said that He would have destroyed them, were it not that He remembered the covenant He had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But the hand of Pharaoh was constantly becoming heavier upon the Israelites, so that he persecuted and oppressed them until God sent forth His word and redeemed them.

Next: XLV