Sacred Texts  Bible  Index  Previous  Next 

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

XLV. (1) At that time a war broke out between Cush on the one side and the people of Qedem (East) and Syria on the other; for these rebelled against the King of Cush. Qinqanos, King of Cush, then went out to war against the other two nations, and smote Syria and the East. He took many captives and made them submit to Cush. (2) When Qinqanos went out to war against Syria and the people of the East he left behind Bala‘am the enchanter, i.e., Laban the Aramean, who came from Caphtor, together with his two sons, Janis and Jambris, to guard the city and the poor people. But Bala‘am counselled the people to rebel against Qinqanos, so that he should not be able to come into the city. The people, listening to him, swore to act accordingly. Him they made king over them, and his two sons they appointed as captains of the host of

p. 114

the people. On two sides of the city they raised very high walls, while on the third side they dug an innumerable number of pits between the city and the river that surrounds the whole land of Cush, and from there the people drew into them the waters of the river. On the fourth side they collected by their wiles and witchcraft an immense number of serpents, so that no one could approach them.

(3) When the king and all the captains of the army returned from the war and saw the very high walls of the city they were greatly astonished, and said, 'Behold, while we have been detained at war, they have built walls to the city and strengthened themselves to prevent the Canaanitish kings from waging war against them.' But when they came near the city and discovered that the gates were closed, they shouted to the keepers, 'Open the gates for us, that we may enter the city.' But they refused to open them, just as Bala‘am the enchanter had ordered them, and would not allow them to enter the city. They therefore drew up their line of battle opposite the gate, and fought so that on that day there fell 130 men of Qinqanos's army. On the second day they fought on the side of the river. But when thirty cavalrymen tried to cross they sank into the pits and were drowned. The king then commanded them to hew some wood, which they were to use as rafts upon which to cross, and they did so. When, however, they came to the walls, the rafts rolled from under them like a mill, and on that day 200 men that had gone upon ten rafts were sunk in the wells. On the third day they went on that side of the city where the serpents lay, but they dared not approach. After 170 men had been killed by these serpents they ceased fighting against Cush. They besieged it for nine years, so that no one went out or entered the city.

(4) During this siege Moses, having fled from Egypt, came to the camp of Qinqanos, the King of Cush. He was then but eighteen years old. This young man entered their ranks, and was much beloved by the king, the princes, and all the army, because he was mighty and beautiful.

p. 115

[paragraph continues] His height was like the cedar and his face like the rising sun, and his strength like that of a lion. He was therefore made the king's counsellor. It came to pass after nine years that the Cushite king was seized with an illness by which he died, so that after seven days Qinqanos departed this life. His servants embalmed him, and buried him opposite the gate of the city looking towards Egypt. There they erected a beautiful building and a very high temple, and engraved upon the stones his arms and the record of his mighty deeds.

(5) When they had completed the building, they said to each other, 'What shall we now do? If we try to get into the city and fight there will be many more of us slain than before. If we give up the siege, then all the Syrian kings and those of the East, having heard of the death of our king, will come upon us suddenly, and none of us will be left. Now, let us appoint a king over us, and we shall then continue the siege until the city falls into our hands.' They then hastily stripped themselves of their garments, and, casting them upon the ground, they made a large platform, upon which they placed Moses. They then blew the trumpets, and exclaimed, 'Long live the king!' And all the princes and all the people took the oath of obedience to him, and gave him a Cushite wife, the widow of Qinqanos. They then crowned him King of Cush. He was twenty-seven years old when he was made king.

(6) On the second day of his reign they all assembled before the king, and said, 'If it is pleasing to the king, give us advice what to do. For these last nine years we have not seen our wives nor our sons, but have remained in the siege.' The king then answered the people, saying, 'Be certain that the city will be delivered into our hands if you hearken to my advice. Now, if we fight with them, many of us will fall as at first, and if we determine to cross the water we shall fare similarly. Now, go to the forest, and let each one bring a young stork, which he shall keep until it has grown up and be taught to hunt just as the hawk.' The people immediately hastened to the forest, and, climbing

p. 116

the fir-trees, they each brought the young (of the stork) in their hands according to the king's word.

(7) When the young storks had grown up, the king commanded them to starve them for two days, and on the third day he said to them, 'Let each man put on his armour and harness the horses and mules to the chariots; and when each man has taken his stork in his hand, let us rise and war against the city on the side where the serpents are lying.' This they did. When they approached the place, the king said, 'Let each send forth his young stork.' As soon as they did so the storks flew upon the serpents and devoured them, thus ridding the place of them.

(8) When the king and the people saw that the serpents had disappeared they raised a great shout, fought against the city, and captured it, so that each man went to his own house, to his own wife, and to his goods. On that day 1,100 inhabitants were killed, but of the besiegers not one. When Bala‘am the enchanter saw that the city was taken, opening the gate, he and his two sons fled away upon their horses to Egypt, to Pharaoh, King of Egypt. These were the magicians and the wizards, as it is written in the 'Sefer Hayashar' (Book of the Just = Bible), that counselled Pharaoh to wipe out the name of Jacob from off the face of the earth.

Next: XLVI