A life of King Solomon, written
by his court historian!
Such, apparently, were the contents of
an old Hebrew manuscript, handed on
to Professor Solomon by an elderly
Its brittle pages were filled with the
story of the king: his youth, his rivals
for the throne, his accomplishments
as ruler, his wise judgments, his
thousand wives, his visits to the Cave
of the Ages, his magic ring, his asso-
ciation with Asmodeus, his building of
the Temple, his speaking with birds,
his encounter with Goliath, Jr., his
meeting with the Queen of Sheba,
his excursions on a flying carpet, his
wandering as a beggar, his final
THE BOOK OF KING SOLOMON—fact or fiction? An ancient
chronicle or a latter-day fabrication? A sensational find or a
literary hoax?
Whatever the case, it is an engaging book—highly recommended
to anyone wanting to learn more about “the wisest of men,” his
place in history, and his relevance today.

Professor Solomon is the author of How to
Find Lost Objects, Japan in a Nutshell,
How to Make the Most of a Flying Saucer
Experience, and Coney Island. He resides in


  
   ...

The Book of
King Solomon
by Ahimaaz, Court Historian

Discovered, Translated, and Annotated by
Professor Solomon

Illustrated by Steve Solomon

Top Hat Press

Copyright © 2005 by Top Hat Press

All rights reserved

ISBN 0-912509-09-0


Translator’s Note . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vi
1. Bathsheba . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
2. Uriah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
3. Messenger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
4. Prophet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
5. “Thou Art the Man!” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
6. Psalm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
7. Tavern Talk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
8. A Son Is Born . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
9. Cave of the Ages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
10. Birthday . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
11. School . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
12. Death Takes a Break . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
13. Lie Detector . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
14. Egg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
15. Jar of Honey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
16. Gad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
17. An Altar Is Raised . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
18. View from the Roof. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
19. “Whoa!” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
20. Successor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
21. On the Mount. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
22. Ineffable Name . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
23. Absalom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
24. Map. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
25. Heat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 


26. A King Is Crowned. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
27. Deathbed. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
28. Visitors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
29. Gibeon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
30. Tutmosa. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
31. State of the Kingdom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
32. Ring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
33. Manual . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
34. Trying It Out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
35. Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
36. Shamir. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
37. Asmodeus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
38. King Meets King . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
39. Groundbreaking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
40. Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
41. Dream . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
42. Dedication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
43. Donor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
44. Throne . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
45. Disputed Infant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
46. Double Trouble . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
47. Suing the Wind. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
48. A Door Testifies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
49. Goliath, Jr. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
50. Wisdom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
51. Otter’s Complaint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
52. Queen of Sheba . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
53. Flying Carpet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
54. Mysterious Palace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
55. Chinese Food . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
56. Luz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
57. Shlomo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
58. Ahijah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
59. Glimpses of the Future . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
60. A Solution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 


61. Arctic Visit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
62. Menelik. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
63. Retirement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
64. Demise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 


Translator’s Note
Aunt Rose

When she pushed aside a stack of newspapers and opened her
bread box, I assumed that Aunt Rose was about to offer me a stale
pastry. Instead, she extracted a bundle of brittle sheets of paper,
tied with string. The topmost sheet was inscribed with Hebrew
lettering. Stored in her bread box had been some sort of manu-
“I’ve wondered what to do with this,” she said, and thrust it
into my hands.
This aunt of mine—whom I was meeting for the first time—
was actually a great-aunt: the widow of one of my grandfather’s
brothers. I was visiting Los Angeles; and my father—aware of my
interest in the family’s European past—had suggested that I look
her up. Hungarian-born Rose, he had pointed out, might have
some lore or anecdotes to recount. I had been warned, however,
that she was “kooky.” Upon the death of her husband, for exam-
ple, she had shipped Sam Solomon’s clothing, dentures, Masonic
ring, and taxi-driver license to my father. Also, she had a Yiddish-
speaking parrot. When I heard about the parrot, I knew I had to
visit Aunt Rose.
Aunt Rose lived in Venice Beach, a member of its dwindling
community of elderly Jews. I had telephoned, explaining who I
was and asking if I might drop by. After an initial hesitation, she
had given me directions to her apartment, a few blocks from the
beach. Knock loudly, she had instructed me, so as to be heard
over the television.
That afternoon I arrived and knocked. The door was opened
by a short, gray-haired woman in a jogging suit. Peering at me
through thick lenses, she remarked (with a faint accent) upon my
resemblance to my father; decided I was who I claimed to be;
and invited me in. The tiny apartment into which I stepped was
cluttered—with clothing, magazines, shopping bags—and in
disarray. Nonetheless, it had a cozy air. I was told to sit down at
the kitchen table. As I sat, a voice called out: “Nu?” (“So?”)
Aunt Rose gestured toward a cage and introduced me to her
Yiddish-speaking parrot. Turning off the television, she made me
a cup of tea (from a used tea-bag); and a congenial conversation

’ 
ensued. I filled her in on the doings of various relatives, and
described my own efforts as a writer. And she bent my ear with
a litany of complaints—about the “hippies” who had invaded the
beach; the forces of gentrification that were driving out longtime
residents like herself; the personality of the new rabbi at her syn-
Then I told her of my interest in the European past of the Solo-
mons, and asked if she could tell me anything about Chamalyev,
the mountain village from which the family had emigrated. Aunt
Rose waved dismissively, as if at a foolish question. She had been
born in a different part of Hungary, she told me. It wasn’t until
coming to America that she had met Sam.
“Wu is der zhlub?” (“Where is that jerk?”) squawked the parrot
at the mention of his name.
Suddenly Aunt Rose recalled something. Her late husband, she
said, had brought over from Chamalyev some “old Hebrew writ-
ings”—papers of some sort that had been handed down in the
Solomon family. Sam had been determined to preserve these
papers. Would I be interested in seeing them? When I said I
would, she thought for a moment, seeking to remember where
she had stored them. Then she went over to the bread box, pulled
out the manuscript, and handed it to me. I had time for only a
quick glance.
“Stick that in your knapsack,” she said. “It belongs to you now.”
We spoke for a while longer. Then she had me stand on a chair


handwritten with standard square letters. The text was divided into  chapters. it was meticulous and seemed to have been performed with a quill. Apparently. Brittle and dis- colored with age.” It’s hard to be a Jew. in the quiet of my study. Haskal Shlomovitz (the family name having yet to be Angli- cized). Each sheet (except for the title page) contained two columns of text. ’  and change the bulb in a ceiling fixture. Finally I promised to convey her greetings to my father and others. they were crumbling at the edges. Manuscript A week later. I turned my attention to this manuscript. It was written in classical Hebrew (which narrows the date of viii . Here and there. It was that of my great-grandfather. each with a brief title. The text was in Hebrew. The paper was low-grade rag. As for the penmanship. a correction or addition had been interpolated in the margin. Court Historian Beneath these lines was the stylized image of a crown. And inscribed at the top of the page—in a different ink and hand— was a name I recognized. And I was heading for the door when the parrot spoke again—this time repeating a proverb: “Es is shver zu sein ein Yid. he had put his mark of ownership on the manuscript. The ink had faded somewhat. The title page consisted of two lines: [sefer ha-melekh shelomoh akhimaatz mazkir malkhuti] which translates to      by Ahimaaz. The bundle consisted of  sheets of paper. with no watermark to indicate its origin. the bird had lamented.

and the conversa- tion immediately fell upon such subjects as dwelt that night upon every tongue throughout all Israel: the glory of their beloved Jerusalem. she insists. Court Historian. I was fascinated by this document that had wound up in a bread box in Los Angeles. As I read through it. “with a careful regard to historical and chronological accuracy”) contains the following account: “A large company of distinguished Israelites were gathered [for the dedication of the Temple] in the court of Ahimaaz. and the wonderful guidance and ix .Ahi- maaz conducted his guests to the house-top. The Biblical Ahimaaz helps defeat Absalom. the magnificence of their finished temple. Here was an account of the life of King Solomon. I have been able to find only one. And it told the story of our family’s namesake. But I was also puzzled. this same Ahi- maaz appears in the story. the unexampled prosperity and wealth of their nation. I wondered? Were its origins ancient or modern? What were the sources of its information? And who. within a furlong’s distance of the city wall. He is presented rather as the resourceful son of Zadok. was its author? Ahimaaz Authorship of      is explicitly cred- ited to “Ahimaaz. Turning to the Bible. Was it fact or fiction. eventually marries a daughter of Solomon. we do find an Ahimaaz in the court of King Solomon—but there is no indication of his being a historian. meanwhile. one of the most eminent of the citizens of Jerusalem. the High Priest. A certain Jehoshaphat. is mentioned as chronicler during the reign of Solomon. and afforded an extended view of Jerusalem and her environs…. In  Maria T. in unprecedented detail.” Moreover.The house of Ahimaaz was situated near the eastern brow of Mount Zion. ’  composition to within the last three thousand years). the high priest of Israel…. and is appointed governor of Naphtali. and the son of Zadok. the wisdom and royal majesty of their king. Her book (written. As for post-Biblical references to Ahimaaz. a chief counsellor in the court of Solomon. Richards published a collection of sketches entitled Life in Israel. He plays a part in the struggle with Absalom. I wondered. and on several occasions he discusses with Solomon the chronicle he is keeping.

the Wisdom of Solomon. It seems a deception—a shameless ploy by the anonymous author behind “Enoch” or “Abraham” or “Gad” to draw attention to his book. Indeed. Dictionaries are often presented as “Webster’s”—notwithstanding the fact that their connection with the lexicographer is minimal. it is conceivable that the narra- tive is based on some old history—that it preserves elements of a lost chronicle. Publishers know that a dictionary must be deemed authoritative. Pseudepigraph What do the following ancient writings have in common: the Vision of Enoch. and his wisdom. It was once common for the author of a religious work to attribute it to some noted figure of the past—a patriarch or prophet or sage. and all that he did. And that chronicle could derive from the time of Solomon. The text contains too many anachronisms to have been set down during the time of Solomon. His intention was not to mislead his readers. the Words of Gad the Seer. Rather. the Blessing of Joseph. Rather. the Testament of Abra- ham. these books are pseudepigrapha.” So—was      in fact written by Ahi- maaz. It should be noted that a comparable practice exists today. son of Zadok and court historian? Was it composed three millennia ago? Strictly speaking. are they not written in the Book of the Deeds of Solomon?” ( Kings :) However. the Apocalypse of Moses. But spurious attribution was simply a convention—one that was understood and accepted by readers of the day. Today we are apt to view this practice as fraudulent. the Biblical account of his reign concludes thus: “And the rest of the deeds of Solomon. And that is that     —by “Ahimaaz. that would be impossible. Court Historian”—is a pseudepigraph. Only Webster’s will do! x . he was presenting it as a continua- tion of—an expansion upon—traditional teachings. he was assuring them of the authoritative character of his work. there is a likelier explanation. To gain its acceptance. and the Letter of Baruch? Simply that none was written by the purported author. On the other hand. ’  blessing of the Almighty. the Treatise of Shem.

But I can assure the reader (though my assurance could be taken to be part of the hoax) that such is not the case. In the case of words and idioms whose meaning is obscure. I have sought to render its classical Hebrew into a serviceable English. when did it originate? And who wrote it? Here are some possibilities: () It was written during the Græco-Roman period (the heyday of pseudepigraphy). the Zohar was com- posed in the second century by Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai. () It was written during the nineteenth century in Eastern Europe. The author was a Jewish resident of Jeru- salem or Alexandria. His signature on the manuscript is a mark of authorship. not ownership. Those passages I have rendered in verse. which. Occasionally Ahimaaz (or “Ahimaaz”) shifts into a more formal diction. De Leon claimed to have transcribed the original man- uscript. He invented most of his episodes. and The Arabian Nights. a thirteenth-century mystic residing in Spain. a con- temporary work of fiction—that there was no manuscript in a bread box. And I have appended a note or two to each chapter. And it will no doubt be conjectured that I myself am the pseudepigrapher—that my “translation” is a literary hoax. xi . it was the creation of Moses de Leon. The prose style of the original is simple and direct. I have taken the liberty of hazarding a guess. The best known is the Zohar. popular novels. The author lived somewhere in the Diaspora. had been discovered in ben Yohai’s cave and sent to Spain. ’  Dozens of pseudepigrapha were written and circulated over the centuries. The unknown author was influenced by traditional storytelling. while he was hiding out from the Romans in a cave. In fact. So      may well be a pseudepigraph. Translation In translating     . he explained. or Book of Splendor— the central text of Kabbalism. Supposedly. But if it was not composed during the time of Solomon (or based on writings that had come down from that period). and I have sought to retain that quality. () My great-grandfather Haskal wrote it. like that of a folk tale. () It was written during the Middle Ages (perhaps around the same time that Moses de Leon was “transcribing” the Zohar).

I offer this English version of     . ’  Eventually. For now. And may he serve. May it evoke the spirit of the celebrated monarch. as a beacon in these perplexing times. with his piety and wisdom.   xii . I plan to issue a facsimile of the original manu- script.

The stunned Jebusites had surrendered without a fight—a bloodless victory that had prompted David to spare the Jebusites and allow those who wished to stay on in the city. they had stolen into the city undetected—via the waterworks.† From his high perch. and which he beheld now with nostalgia. Overcoming the guards. And in the eastern section of the wall. Gazing at the city below. Adjoining the gate was the Fortress of Zion—the Jebusite citadel in which he had originally dwelt. and renamed Ir Dawid. or City of Shalem. court- yards.  . Spread beneath him was Jerusalem —the ancient hill-town he had taken from the Jebusites. he purred with satisfaction. led by his cousin Joab. Shalem (often misread as shalom) was the god—associated with the planet Venus—to whom the city had been dedicated.* David was standing on a rooftop of his palace: a terrace outside his private chamber. and latecomers could be seen hastening into the city. and narrow lanes. and David and his army had stormed in. King David listened to the sounds * The original name was Uru-shalem. Jerusalem was virtually impregnable—a wor- thy stronghold. He eyed the North Gate. they had flung open the gate. In a daring ploy. Peter the Great. It had not yet been shut. † The gate had been opened from the inside by a squad of com- mandos. he could see the Water Gate—the gateway through which he and his troops had poured into Jerusalem. and George Washington. or City of David. Perched on a ridge and girt by a massive wall. made the capital of his kingdom. and prefigur- ing such notables as Emperor Constantine.    his city.   Bathsheba L    . In lending his name to a capital. Dusk was settling upon it—a bluish haze that lent a melancholy gleam to the rooftops. David was emulating the kings of Assyria (who routinely so honored themselves).

 . the clattering of carts. David let his gaze wander over the labyrinth of houses. the barking of dogs. Smoke was rising from ovens in the courtyards. But suddenly it came to a halt.      that rose from the city: shouts and laughter. Her naked body glimmered in the twilight. Like a shepherd watching over his flock. On a rooftop below the palace a woman was bathing. Windows were lighting up as oil lamps were lit. And he watched the shad- ows deepen as evening came to Jerusalem. She was standing in a basin and pouring water on herself.

She climbed down. Nearly half the psalms in the Book of Psalms bear his name as author. He picked up his lyre and—with an intense.  David gripped the parapet and stared. David watched as if hypnotized. called the kinnor ( ). “Do you see that house? Find out who lives there. “I have a task for you. To be performed discreetly. “Sire?” “Loyal vizier.* * King David was famed as a poet and singer—most notably of psalms in praise of . picked up a towel. leaning on the parapet.” After a moment Shavsha appeared. Returning to the chamber.” Shavsha bowed and departed. (Biblical scholars have expressed doubt that David actually wrote them—thus placing him in a curious pantheon. and he heard only his own breathing and the faint splash of water. I need to see him immediately. The sounds of the city receded. and began to dry herself. the woman wrapped herself in the towel and stepped onto a ladder in the hatch. she turned her head and seemed to look in his direction. and said to a servant: “Get Shavsha over here.” He led Shavsha out to the terrace and pointed. He was enthralled by the grace of her movements—the flash of her flesh—her voluptuous curves. aroused by her nakedness. fascinat- ed by the glimpse into so private a moment. David stood there for a while. pre- occupied look—began to play. Now she stepped from the basin. Invented by Jubal —the grandson of Methuselah and “father of all such as handle the harp and organ” (Jubal should not be confused with Jabal. But just before disappearing from view. He was transfixed by the woman’s beauty. Finally. He used the Israelite version. David accompanied himself on a lyre. his brother and “father of such as dwell in tents and have cattle”)—  . David plopped down on a couch.” said David. alongside Homer and Shakespeare. Our ulti- mate accolade to a poet is a strange one: his poetry is deemed to be so great he could not possibly have written it!) Like any bard. Then he went into his chamber. stuck his head out the door.

the rabbis tell us. and his wife Bathsheba. like a guitar. is he?” “Just so. frowning. Adino is said to have “lift up his spear against eight hundred. awake. He did much of his composing at night. See  Samuel  for the complete roster. (In Psalm  he declares: “Awake up. Naharai the Beerothite (no connection with the beverage— Beeroth was a town north of Jerusalem). I will praise Thee. not a harp (as commonly translated). and the Lord wrought a great victory that day”).” “At the siege. my glory. the son of Dodo the Ahohite had “smote the Philistines until his hand was weary. Your Majesty.”) * The Mighty Men ( .” And in Psalm : “At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto Thee. Of diverse origins. I wish to see the kinnor had twelve strings and a cypress sound-box. O Lord…I will sing unto Thee.      He was still playing—a slow. I myself will awake early. “Of the Mighty Men?”* “The same. he was provided with a unique alarm clock. To rise at that hour. It was a lyre. and David would rise and work on songs—often until dawn. somber melody—when Shavsha returned.” David plucked a lengthy riff on his lyre. Then he said: “This Bathsheba—summon her to the palace. He is currently off serving with our forces at Rabbah-Ammon. Among them were Adino the Eznite (in a tally that may have grown in the tell- ing. Bani the Gad- ite. At midnight the North Wind would waft through his win- dow and stir the strings of his lyre. “It is the house of Uriah. and Elhanan son of Dodo of Bethlehem (there were giants in the earth in those days—and Dodos). gaborim) were  noted warriors. Zelek the Ammonite. whom he slew at one time”). psaltery and harp. and his hand clave unto the sword. and David may have held it in his lap.  . when distractions were few and a pious soul could commune with .” “Uriah the Hittite?” said David. The sound would awaken him. Hiddai of the brooks of Gaash. Eleazar son of Dodo the Ahohite (with only David and two Mighty Men at his side. they had been with David since his days in the wilderness and formed the core of his army.

And loosening a string. He came forward and seized her. David flung the lyre aside. He gestured for her to enter. She wore a crimson gown. Hours later.” said Bathsheba. David resumed playing. he began to sing—a melancholy song about a shepherd roaming the hills. Bathsheba approached the couch—ankle-bells jingling. “On your roof. milady. His fingers flew. He slapped the sound-box and hooted as he played. she gazed at him with fiery eyes. Bathsheba stood before him. She undulated—flowed with the music—hooted back. As the song ended. And he was soon lost in the music. David gave her a soulful look. And with a guttural cry.” “More shall be too much.” “I shall. till ‘Enough!’ you cry. He looked up and saw Bathsheba standing in the doorway. as the cascading notes echoed from the walls of his chamber.” Shavsha bowed and departed.” “Then let me give you more of my sweet stuff. Night had fallen. Her hair fell loosely onto bare shoulders.  her. Tossing her hair.” “Have they pleased you?” “As honey does the bear. And like a desert chieftain with a spoil of war—like the desert chief- tain that he was—he bore Bathsheba to the couch. A breeze was billowing the curtains. Your Majesty. he leapt to his feet. and a driving rhythm—the kind of music that enlivened the fleshpots of Philistia—throbbed from his lyre.” he said. But let it fly. Bathsheba began to dance. when a whiff of per- fume drew him from it.” “And I have heard you singing. Bracelets glittered on her arms. Then he changed tempo to a dance beat. “At night your songs drift to my window. “I saw you bathing. With a demure step. Tonight. David was deep in a musical reverie. and the summer sky was ablaze with stars. she let her gown slide to the floor.” Strumming on the lyre. Yet not enough. a breeze wafted through the window and  . swaying with the music.

Nor did he rise that night to sing unto the Lord. But King David—asleep in Bathsheba’s arms—heard not.  .      stirred the strings of his lyre.

His sword and armor jangled as he passed through the trophy hall. “I know not. Kadmon- ites.” Striding up the broad stairs. others knew the Mighty Man by reputation.  .* At the palace Uriah was greeted by more soldiers. (Others were Canaanites. Kenizzites. Finally Shavsha emerged. By David’s time that empire had receded.  with one hand to soldiers he knew and holding onto his horse with the other. Uriah was a tall. “Uriah the Hittite. “What brings you to the palace?” asked the guard. Thus.   Uriah U      . he saluted the guards at the door and entered the palace. * The Hittites were an Indo-European people residing in Anatolia (modern Turkey). greeted him. Kenites.” said Uriah with a shrug. His pointed beard and distinctive garb —conical hat. He dismounted and left his horse with a guard. and Uriah—who had been riding for many hours—gave a tired smile to his country- man.) A number of these Hittites adopted Hebrew names. “but David him- self has summoned me. threatening even Egypt. One of the soldiers shouted a greeting in Hittite. A few were friends. Jebusites. but scattered colonies remained throughout the region. Amorites. At one time they had an extensive empire. Girgashites. Horites. short skirt. and Rephaim—the last reputed to be giants. Hivites. spoke the language.” Shavsha announced as they passed through a throng of courtiers. Outside the throne room he was told to wait. and escorted him into the hall. barrel-chested man. shoes that turned upward at the toes—marked him as a Hittite. Perizzites. and intermarried. Hittites constituted one of the groups who—in fortified towns throughout Canaan—lived in uneasy coexistence with the Israelites.

Joab is an able com- mander.” said the war- rior. the Ammonite king. Hanun is shut up in Rabbah like a bird in a cage. “that the siege is proceeding apace.”* “Excellent. we have cut off their main supply of water. not even a dog! And we’ve been building siege engines and undermining the walls. The reports from my generals have been ambigu- ous.      “Bring that rascal up here!” said David in a hearty voice.  . with whom David had been on friendly terms. Most gratifying. our supplies are more than ample. Hanun had humiliated the envoys: shaving off half their beards. the capital city. “Now then—you must be fatigued from your journey. my good man. Then David explained why he had summoned the warrior. “I can assure you. And rising from the throne. David’s response to this grave insult had been to declare war. So. “I want a report on Rabbah. our morale is high. You have earned a rest. “Your report has reas- sured me. and whom I know to be trustworthy—could provide me with a candid report. You have convinced me that there’s no cause for concern in regards to Rabbah. The two exchanged amenities. We have surrounded the city—no one passes in or out. excellent. and that I may direct my attention to other affairs of state. But Hanun’s advisers had insisted that it was a trick—that the envoys had been sent to spy out weaknesses in Rabbah’s defenses. so the city is dependent now on a single well. Moreover. to convey his condolences and to express hopes for continued good relations. I want you to leave * The war with the Ammonites had been precipitated by a dip- lomatic outrage. he came forward to embrace Uriah. David had sent envoys to Rabbah.” said David. Nahash.” he said. It will not be long before we have breached the walls. So it occurred to me that you—a Mighty Man who has been with me since the wilderness. had died and been succeeded by his son Hanun. how goes the war with the Ammonites? Is everything going smoothly?” Uriah nodded solemnly. and expelling them from the city. Unwisely heeding these advisers. cutting away the lower portion of their robes. “On how the siege is faring. and brought Hanun to task for his insult.

There you may wash. “Our plan seems to be working. and everyone began to file out of the hall. does it not?” “Let’s hope so. sleeping on  . The man blew three times on his trumpet—the signal of dismissal. And now. go unto her. he ordered that roasted meats and other delicacies be sent to the house of Uriah. And there he had passed the night. Take a week off from the rigors of war. get your feet washed. it will appear that now was the time of conception.  here and go home. “Well?” he whispered.” “It has been both my honor and my duty to assist you. hey? You know. “For a week Bathsheba and her husband will enjoy conjugal relations. when she gives birth next spring.” And hailing a servant. Then. he had camped outside the entrance to the palace. Instead. had not gone home after meeting with King David. David gestured to the herald. stretch out and doze. David took Shavsha aside. And perhaps”—David nudged him and winked—“spend some time with your wife. dine. With a bow. as is the natural custom of men—espe- cially after a lengthy separation. he departed the throne room. good grief. reunite with her after so long an absence. Uriah. enjoy yourself. • But the next morning came bizarre news.” David hung his head and looked abashed. Indulge yourself! You have earned the right. her husband. Go. go. and partake of the comforts and solace of home. oil your limbs. Go. I mean to say. she sends word that she’s pregnant! But things will work themselves out. I admit it. “So—I will keep you no longer from a well-deserved rest.” said Shavsha. it was reported. Thus sparing you a major scandal. Rid yourself of the dust of trav- el. Your Majesty. was the father. “Getting involved with her was unwise.” said Uriah. And become reacquainted with your wife. and that Uriah. I let passion tri- umph over sense.

and show you to be a true Mighty Man. That while they suffered the adversities of war. I should be resting in a soft bed. “Why have you not gone home?” he called out as the war- rior entered the hall. “It seemed wrong that. And upon my life.” he said with an indulgent smile. Such privileges seemed to me unconscionable.”  . I should be enjoying my wife. “I could not do so. There- fore. Then Shavsha leaned over and whispered into his ear. David sent for Uriah. rose from the throne. David nodded. Taken aback by the news. I went not home. I shall not do so!” David exchanged looks with Shavsha. “Good Uriah.” replied Uriah. while my fellow soldiers slept upon the ground at Rabbah. Your Majesty. You wish to return to Rabbah—and return you shall.      a goatskin. But first accept a token of my gratitude for your services: join me at dinner this evening. far from the comfort and safety of their homes. and came forward to clasp Uriah’s hand. “Those are excellent sentiments.

The dining hall echoed with sounds of merriment. David draped an arm over his shoulder and escorted him to the door. who must surely yearn to embrace her hus- band. Your Majesty. grunted. Uriah nodded. “You still refuse to go home?” said David. And the danger—it’s dangerous there. • But in the morning it was reported that once again Uriah had slept outside the palace. join your wife. and wobbled off. Hey?” David winked at him. “Now. I’m ordering you to go home and enjoy the comforts thereof. “As a soldier.” • At the head table Uriah sat at David’s side. Indeed.” “Danger daunts me not. As course after course was served.” “But conditions there are miserable.  “I would be honored. By the end of dinner the warrior was tipsy. There’s the heat— the mosquitoes—the tedium of a siege that could drag on for months. Conclude this day in the warmth of her embrace. A few minutes later Uriah came marching in. David kept refilling Uriah’s wine glass and urging him to drink.” said David. I’d gladly engage the enemy single-handedly— take on an entire squad of them.” “Look here. my good man. the danger be damned! To linger here in luxury and ease is what would cause me misery.” said Uriah. as the warrior stood before the throne. He rose unsteadily and thanked David for having invited him. “I wish only to return to Rabbah. man! Stay for a while and grace us with your presence. David groaned and sent for him. home with you.”  . I welcome it. “Go. Uriah did so and seemed to be enjoying himself.

    
“With due respect, Sire, I cannot honorably do so.”
David reddened with anger and pounded on the side of
the throne. “Out, out!” he cried. “Get out of my sight, you
stubborn man!”
Uriah bowed and departed.
“This righteous man will be the ruin of me, Shavsha,”
said David. “If my adultery with Bathsheba becomes
known, I could lose the crown. Why, I could be stoned!”
“Only the woman is stoned,” said Shavsha. “But you’d be
denounced by the prophets, which could conceivably cost
you the crown. And the Tribal Confederation would lose
the only man capable of holding it together. This is a seri-
ous situation—one that calls for decisive and unsentimen-
tal action. I say give the man that which he has asked for.”
David frowned in puzzlement. “What has he asked for?”
Shavsha went to his desk and penned a letter. He handed
it to David, who read it aloud.
“‘From David, King in Jerusalem, to Joab, Commander
of the army at Rabbah. Greetings and salutations. The
bearer of this letter, Uriah the Hittite, is known to you as a
Mighty Man and a brave soldier. My wishes—absolutely
confidential!—concerning him are as follows. He is to be
sent out with other soldiers on a hazardous attack, but then
abandoned by them—that he may engage the enemy single-
handedly, at his own peril and come what may. For such
would seem to be his desire. Inform me as to the outcome
of this matter.’”
With a grave look, David pondered the message. Finally
he nodded and returned the letter. Shavsha rolled it up and
affixed the royal seal.
“I’ll tell him he may return to Rabbah,” said Shavsha.
“And that he is to deliver this letter to Joab.”

D: On what bleak errand we this warrior send—
To bear the warrant for his own swift end!

S: We must do ill to serve the nation’s good.
One cuts down trees, if in need of wood.


The vizier bustled off, leaving David alone in the hall.
David sat grim-faced on the throne, brooding and mur-
muring to himself.
Then he cried out: “What have I done?”*
* What he had done, of course, had been to sin grievously—
once again. For since his rooftop glimpse of Bathsheba, David
had violated three commandments (commandments that he, as
king, was supposed to enforce). He had coveted his neighbor’s
wife; engaged in adulterous relations with her; and—in sending
Uriah to a probable death—committed murder. The chief of
state had become the chief sinner in the land.
But rabbinical commentators—seeking to preserve David’s
reputation for piety—have come up with justifications, rational-
izations, and mitigating circumstances to explain these misdeeds.
The adultery, according to one rabbi, was not adultery at all. For
in ancient Israel a soldier, upon departing for war, would grant
his wife a “conditional divorce”—enabling her to remarry, should
he fail to return. Thus, Bathsheba had been technically a divorced
woman; and the affair had qualified as fornication, but not as
As for the murder charge, another rabbi has argued that Uriah,
in refusing to go to his home, was guilty of disobeying the order
of a king—a capital crime.
The verdict then? Was the Bible’s “sweet singer”—the author
of psalms and “the king after the heart of ”—a grievous sin-
ner? The answer will come from David himself, in chapter .
It is interesting to note that David’s treatment of Uriah was not
without precedent. His predecessor, King Saul—jealous of David’s
success on the battlefield (“Saul hath slain his thousands,” women
had chanted to returning troops,“but David his ten thousands!” )
—had offered him a daughter in marriage, if David and his men
would embark upon a campaign against the Philistines. It was a
campaign from which they were not deemed likely to return.


 


M  ,”  ,    -
fully, “’tis a perilous trade we follow—a liveli-
hood that is fraught with danger.”
“’Tis that,” agreed Gorash. “A soldier leads a life of safe-
ty, compared to a messenger.”
The two men were drinking in the rear of Zuki’s tavern.
Both wore the distinctive cap—wide-brimmed, with a feath-
er stuck in it—of a messenger. On their backs were satchels.
“We must contend with wild beasts,” said Borak, “rugged
roads, bandits lying in wait.”
“And maidens waiting to lie,” said Gorash with a smirk.
“With rain, sandstorms, demons in the dark.”
“No demon in the dark like a maiden,” chortled Gorash.
“With horses that bolt, or die on you, or lose their way.
Yet there’s worse. For need I mention what is most treach-
erous in our trade?”
“What’s that?”
“The very messages we bear. For are we not blamed for
their contents? Do we not lose our heads for having brought
ill tidings?”
“Aye. ‘Kill the messenger,’ ’tis called. An outrageous prac-
tice,” said Gorash, pounding the table. “A grave injustice!”*
* The classic example of “kill the messenger” is Cleopatra’s
reaction (as described by Shakespeare) to the news that her lover
Anthony has married someone else. A messenger has arrived
from Rome; and Cleopatra has told him that, if he bears good
news, she will award him with gold. But if his news is bad, she
will melt that gold and pour it down his “ill-uttering throat.”
The messenger tries to soften the blow by starting out with
good news. Anthony is well, he reports, and on excellent terms
with Caesar. But when he goes on to reveal the marriage,
Cleopatra curses him and knocks him to the ground.
“Horrible villain!” she cries, and drags him about. “I’ll unhair



“Had a brush with it myself recently,” said Borak.
“Did you now?”
“Just last month. A hair-raising tale. In connection with
the war against the Ammonites.”
“I’m all ears, brother.”
Borak took a sip of ale and began his tale.
“Since the war broke out, I’ve been shuttling between the
camp at Rabbah and the palace. Constantly on the road—
a road that’s mainly through desert. Scorching desert. Any-
how, I’m called to the throne room one morning and told
to head for Rabbah. I’m to inform Joab that the King wants
to see Uriah the Hittite. And see him immediately. So I bow
thy head. Thou shalt be whipp’d with wire, and stew’d in brine.”
“Gracious madam,” he groans, “I that do bring the news made
not the match.”
“Say ’tis not so, a province I will give thee.”
“He’s married, madam.”
“Rogue, thou hast liv’d too long,” says Cleopatra, drawing a
The messenger scrambles to his feet and flees.


    
my way out of there, hop on my horse, and gallop eastward.
“The army is camped outside the city, alongside a river
they’ve diverted. Weary and covered with dust, I arrive,
locate Joab, and deliver my message. Joab summons Uriah
and tells him to find a horse and go see the King. So Uriah
is soon galloping off.
“I’m told to stick around, in case any messages need to
go back to Jerusalem. So a week later I’m still there—play-
ing checkers with one of the cooks—when a cloud of dust
appears on the plain. And Uriah comes riding back into
camp—with a sealed letter for Joab. Emerging from his
tent, Joab opens the letter. He reads it, frowns, and tells
Uriah to see him in the morning.
“In the morning there’s a lot of coming and going at
Joab’s tent. And the next thing we hear, there’s a mission
afoot. A team of commandos are going to rush the city gate
and try to set it on fire! Can you beat that? This scheme is
what they’ve been hatching in the tent.*
“So these men of valor girt themselves with armor,
sword, and shield. And they set out, trotting in loose for-
mation toward the gate. There are ten of them—led by
Uriah. They’re carrying buckets of pitch and a torch. The
Ammonites are watching from atop the wall; and we’re all
watching from the camp. Nobody can believe this.
“Arrows start coming at them as they near the gate. So
the commandos go into this zigzag routine. They reach the

* What exactly transpired in the tent? According to Josephus
(Antiquities of the Jews, vii, ), Joab met with Uriah and others of
his best soldiers, and proposed a daring plan. “If they could break
down part of the wall, he would come to their assistance with the
whole army and enter the city. And Joab desired Uriah to be glad
of the opportunity of exposing himself to such great pains, and
not to be displeased at it, since he was a valiant soldier, and had
a great reputation for his valor, both with the king and with his
countrymen.” Welcoming the assignment, Uriah went off to
ready himself. At which point, Joab “gave private orders to those
who were to be Uriah’s companions, that when they saw the
enemy make a sally, they should leave him.”


gate and begin to smear it with pitch. The Ammonites are
shooting at them from above and dropping rocks—a deadly
downpour. But the commandos are able to protect them-
selves from it. How? By holding their shields over their
heads, like umbrellas. It’s like men working in the rain!
Meanwhile, our cavalry has assembled and is poised to
“Finally they finish covering the gate with pitch and
apply the torch. But the pitch just smokes. There’s no fire.
The idea doesn’t seem to be working.
“Then everybody jumps back—the gate is opening! And
a score of Ammonites come rushing out. Men of valor in full
battle gear. Tough-looking gents.
“So what happens? Do our own men of valor draw their
swords and fight? No, they skedaddle. They start racing
back to camp. All of them, that is, save one—Uriah! He
stands firm and single-handedly takes on the Ammonites.
Can you imagine? And he’s holding his own! He’s thrusting
his sword, leaping this way and that, roaring like a lion.
And he’s dropping them, one by one!
“His companions have halted in their flight to watch this
spectacle. Suddenly two of them race back to join Uriah.
And the three men battle the Ammonites, slaying a goodly
number. But the odds are overwhelming; and Uriah and the
two stalwarts fall finally and are slain. Whereupon, the sur-
viving Ammonites rush back inside. It’s over—our raid on
the gate has failed. But a valiant attempt, was it not?”
“Harebrained,” said Gorash.
“So listen. That night I’m summoned to Joab’s tent. I
come in and he’s got this serious look on his face. He dis-
misses his aides; and when we’re alone, he tells me that he’s
got a message for King David. An important message, he
says. Then he stares at me and says: ‘Messenger, do you
value your head?’
“‘Aye, sir,’ I say, ‘it’s the only one I’ve got.’
“‘Then do precisely as I instruct you. Return to Jerusalem
and tell the King what transpired today. Tell him of the dar-
ing assault our soldiers made. Describe how they charged


    
the gate, heedless of the danger; sought to ignite it, under a
canopy of shields; and adroitly escaped when interrupted
by the Ammonites. And inform him that, alas, three of our
men perished in the attempt. Three brave soldiers whom
we have mourned with dirges.
“‘Relate this bold endeavor to the King. Yet beware. For
informed of it, and of the casualties incurred, King David
may explode in anger. Deeming the assault a folly, he may
rail against it and denounce my judgment. Indeed, his
wrath may be so intense that he shall seek to vent it. Upon
the nearest personage. Upon you, messenger. Outraged by
the tidings you have brought, he may lift his hand—or
worse yet, his sword—to strike you. Such is the prerogative
of power.
“‘Therefore, you must hasten to add: “And amongst the
casualties was your servant Uriah.” Say those words to the
King. Do you understand? You nod. Well, heed my instruc-
tions, messenger, lest thy instrument of nodding be parted
from the rest of thee. And one thing more. This message is
strictly confidential. Now, away. Go. Get thee to Jerusalem.’
“So I ride by night and by day, until the rooftops of the
capital gleam on the horizon. And I’m soon being ushered
into the throne room.
“I describe to David the assault on the gate, and inform
him of the casualties. And sure enough, he flies into a rage.
‘What a stupid stunt!’ he cries, jumping to his feet. ‘What
was Joab thinking? How could he allow them to approach
the wall? Has he forgotten the ignominious death of
Abimelech, son of Jerubbesheth? Abimelech, upon whom
an old woman cast a millstone from the wall of Thebes.
What folly! How dare Joab attempt this thing?’
“Now I’m trying to add that bit about Uriah. But
David’s going on with his tirade—and I can’t get it in. I
mean, how do you interrupt a king?
“‘Used their shields as umbrellas?’ he says, glaring at me.
‘Did they imagine themselves on a picnic and caught in the
rain? Good men lost! Your news is vexing. And most unwel-


“‘Wait, Sire, there’s more.’
“But he steps forward and grabs me by the collar. ‘Yet you
deliver it,’ he says, ‘in so blithe a manner. As if reporting on
some sporting event. Are you insensible? How now, mes-
senger!’ And he raises his hand, as if to strike me. It’s now
or never.
“‘Sire,’ I burst out, ‘those three casualties? Amongst them
was your servant Uriah.’
“He gets this look in his eye, murmurs ‘Uriah,’ and lets
go of me. And returning to the throne, he sits there in
silence. Then he says in a low voice: ‘I had quite forgotten
that letter I sent. The mind hides from itself what it cannot
countenance. But the mischief is done. And done by me.’
“Then suddenly he claps his hands. ‘But no!’ he says.
‘The Ammonites took his life, not I. And they embodied
the hazards of war—the risks that must be run by soldiers.’
He looks at me. ‘Messenger!’
“‘Another message for you to bear. Return to Rabbah and
unto Joab say: “Thou hast done well. Let not this matter
trouble thee. For war is dangerous; and the sword devoureth
whomsoe’er it may.” Go now, and deliver these words unto
“I bow and hasten out of there. And two days later I’m
back in Joab’s tent, standing before him. He listens to
David’s message, nods gravely, and dismisses me. But as I
turn to go, he says:
“‘’Twas well that the King’s reply was commendatory.
Well for me—and for you. For I too am roused to wrath by
ill tidings. I might have knocked you about.’
“I shrug. ‘It’s what we’re paid for, sir.’
“He waves me out. And I head for the mess hall, glad to
be done with this nonsense. And that’s my tale, brother.”
“A tale with a moral,” said Gorash. “The bringer of unwel-
come news hath but a losing office. But tell me—what make
you of that business with Uriah?”


    
“I’d not venture to say,” said Borak. “But have you heard
the news of his widow, Bathsheba?”
“No, I’m just back from Tyre. What of her?”
“With copious tears, ’tis said, she did mourn Uriah. But
now she’s to wed again.”
“So soon? To whom?”
“King David.”
“No!” said Gorash.
Borak nodded knowingly.
The two messengers sipped on their ales.
“Maidens,” said Gorash. “They are demons.”


  Prophet T window.        .” he said with a dazed look. From downstairs he could hear the sounds of his family at breakfast. a quiver of apprehension in  . “Another vision?” she said. His wife came over and placed a bowl of gruel in front of him. “I have just had a vision from the Lord. His two sons were eating their gruel. The boys gazed at him in puzzlement. Nathan sat down at the table. and climbed down the ladder. Birds were chirping outside the He rose from the bed. donned his tunic.

’ Thus came the voice of  from the cloud. But the most dogged of the watchdogs was Elijah the Tishbite. and betake thyself to the king. And thou shalt stand before him and whisper not. do not so! Sooner stand before a lion and jab it with a stick. kissed his wife. some breakfast first. and Micaiah.” Nathan shook his head. And murmuring a prayer. ‘Behold! I am displeased with my servant David on account of his sins. mouthpiece of Mine. Then with a settled mind may you ponder this.” She brought him his sandals. And I awoke. and waved to his sons.” “Husband. And I heard a voice from the cloud. Such watchdogs arose when needed. who also wound up issuing his rebukes from a dungeon. who rebuked King Asa for faithlessness and was imprisoned for his pains. but let thy voice blare like a trumpet.” Arise. who emerged regularly from the wilderness  . “Suddenly I rose into the sky—floated up to a cloud of light. and murder. that are whispered of in the city. Then she asked: “What will you do?” “Am I not a prophet? What else can I do? I shall stand before King David and denounce him. “I was dreaming. David must answer for his misdeeds—for adultery. “I must not tarry. And thou shalt denounce this king.      her voice. a divine radiance. And the Lord spoke unto me. And say unto him as I have bid thee. who inveighed against King Baasha. lest remem- brance of that voice fade. and with it my resolve.” said Nathan.* * A prophet had to be prepared to “speak truth unto power”— to rebuke kings who had strayed from the path of righteousness.” “Where are my sandals?” “Prithee.” His wife looked at him in stunned silence. Thou shalt set thy face against him and declare: “Thus saith the Lord. and tell him he hath angered the Lord. Jehu (Hanani’s son). and flouting the law. Among them were Hanani. Nathan slipped into them. he headed for the palace—and a confrontation with the king. saying. O prophet.

but was unable to find him. for Ahab’s sins.” And Elijah issued a challenge to the king.” The contest took place on Mount Carmel before a crowd of onlookers. and ordered that Elijah be arrested and executed.” retorted Elijah. A drought soon began. or away on a journey. When nothing happened. At one point Elijah sat down beneath a tree and said: “Enough. And he began to despair of his mission as a prophet and his life as a fugitive. O Lord. Seeing this. The priests went first. Ahab ordered the arrest of Elijah. drinking from a brook and eating morsels of food brought to him by ravens. through having forsaken the commandments of the Lord and worshiped Baal. the onlookers fell to the ground and chanted: “The Lord is ! The Lord is !” And they put to death the priests of Baal. who was out riding a horse. There Elijah hid in a ravine. or perhaps he’s sleeping and must be woke. Prompted by his wife Jezebel. “Pray louder. And it was murmured that Ahab was to blame—that the prophet had spoken true. wild-eyed. :)—had raised an altar to Baal. “for either your god is talking.” But he trekked on and came to Mount Sinai and dwelt there  .” he said.  to denounce King Ahab. Two years later the Lord spoke again to Elijah (who was hid- ing out now in the coastal town of Zarephath). On the highway he encountered the king. Then he hastened from the palace and returned to the wilderness.” So Elijah took up his staff and set out for the capital. Let me rest with my ancestors. take away my life. “Assemble your priests of Baal.” Then Elijah prayed over an altar to —and its offering burst into flames. and announced a drought—sent as pun- ishment. importuning Baal to ignite the offering on their altar. clad in sheepskin. glowering at him. show thyself unto Ahab. “Not I who afflicts Israel.” he said. the prophet burst into the throne room one morn- ing. So  sent Elijah to decry Ahab’s iniquities. he declared. glared at the king. saying: “Go. So again he fled into the wilderness. Jezebel was furious. “Aren’t you he who afflicts Israel with drought?” said Ahab. Hairy. Ahab—who “did more to pro- voke the Lord  of Israel than all of the kings of Israel that were before him” ( Kings. “for a contest to draw fire from heaven. “but you and your father’s house. Elijah mocked them.

Ahab had wished to purchase a neigh- bor’s vineyard and convert it to a garden. awaiting him in the vineyard was Elijah. a criminal’s property passed to the crown. So Ahab had had him falsely accused of blas- phemy and stoned to death. and foretold the divine punish- ments awaiting Ahab and his descendants. Ahaziah asked for a description of the man. “and now would play the heir?” Elijah decried his wickedness. who had commit- ted his foulest crime yet. Ahaziah had inherited not only Ahab’s throne. “Elijah the Tishbite!” he cried—and died soon thereafter. Ahaziah paled. Finally came a showdown with King Ahab. There followed a period of wandering and proph- esying. his son Ahaziah took the throne—and promptly reverted to Baal wor- ship. The neighbor. the king yielded at last— donning sackcloth. but his nemesis.  . But one day servants of the king were accosted by a man on the highway. By law. The Lord spoke to him. And for the rest of his days he worshiped the Lord only. But a prophet’s work is never done. giving him encouragement and instructions. After the death of Ahab. who gave them a message to convey to Ahaziah: “Is there not a  in Israel. Informed that he was hairy and clad in sheepskin. fasting. however. that you must resort to Baal? Thou shalt die for this!” Upon receiving the message. Shamed by the denun- ciation and frightened by the prophecy. “Hast thou murdered. But when Ahab went to take possession. and repenting. had refused to sell.” said the prophet.      in a cave.

Carrying her infant. mer- chants. and courtiers were emerging from the throne room. bureaucrats. military officers. Among them were priests. the crowd ignored the  . princes. they crowded through the doorway. As it passed through the lobby.   “Thou Art the Man” T        . Chatting and joking. hangers-on—and David’s new wife. Bathsheba. ambassadors. she smiled at well-wishers. The trumpet had signaled dismissal. tribal elders.

narrow. Everyone else had left. The hall was long. and you judge them. “You may go in now. and lay in his bosom. ate and drank with him. and dim. But the sharpest of swords can benefit from being honed. “It’s given me time to come up with a better approach—one that’s forceful yet prudent. Approach and grace us with your piety. Cases come to you from throughout the land. And he entered the throne room.” “Let’s hear it. A parable’s the thing. which he grazed in the hills.” said David. “O King. sir. The rich man owned herds of cattle and flocks of sheep. the poor man owned but a single lamb.” Nathan approached the throne and bowed.” “What’s a parable?” “A mode of truth-telling that’s slightly less hazardous than outright denunciation. But no one stopped to speak with Nathan. and on it sat David. Greetings. I trust. the lamb was like a daughter unto him. my good fellow.” “Decide for me then this case. And the lobby was soon empty.      slouched figure who was sitting on a bench. David spotted him and called out: “Nathan.” said Nathan.” said Nathan. At the far end was the throne. save for him and the guards. which he raised along with his children. “I welcome such an exercise. “In a town dwelt a rich man and a poor man. so exceed-  . “you are a fountain of justice. And you have been praised—by myself and others—for the soundness of your judgments. rising. As the prophet came in. Whereas. “Sorry you had to wait so long. An exercise in legal reasoning. My faculty of judgment may have dulled from overuse and require sharpening.” said a guard.” he said.” “The wait has proven useful. Indeed. So allow me to hone your faculty of judgment —with a hypothetical case. whereby I’ll speak ’s word unto the King. conferring with an adviser. An elder nod- ded to him respectfully. What brings you here today? No idolatry loose in the land. This pet lived in his house.” said Nathan.

But that’s the least of his forfeits. So that’s my judgment. livid with anger. And cruelty is a crime against . He despises a cruel man. He deserves no less. “The Lord had given you everything. made strong your king- dom. “He anointed you king. Were that man to stand here in this hall. And if these favors had not sufficed. “   ” ingly did he love it. housed you in a palace. “Yet how did you thank Him? By scorning His com- mandments and doing evil in His sight! For you stole the wife of Uriah.” said Nathan. The rich man has an abun- dance of sheep. Yet you desired also the wife of Uriah—his only wife.” Nathan pointed at David and said: “Thou art the man!” “Huh?” “I say. was there a crime here? If so. And the poor man was left with nought but tears. he stole. thou art the man. “As the Lord liveth. But he was loath to take a sheep from his flock. thrusting his finger. For he shall also die! Consider his deed. he takes all that the poor man owns—takes the fellow’s most cherished possession. He would glad- ly have given you more. whom he cherished. he has more than he can count. according to custom. Yet he goes and steals one—from a poor man! In doing so. You had an abundance of wives. filled your coffers with gold. chastened your enemies. “Was there a crime?” he said. So he went instead to the poor man’s house and took away the lamb. So he shall reimburse the poor man as prescribed by law: four times the value of the lamb. I’d sentence him to death. puzzled. there was—and ’twas dastardly! The rich man was wicked to have done such a thing. what exactly was it? And how would you requite it?” David rose from the throne. His punishment? To begin with. And he slew and prepared it and feasted the traveler. accused of such a crime. “O King. He blessed you with wives.  . Now that is cruelty. “One day a traveler came to the town. The rich man wished to feast the traveler. For the Lord abhors a heart without pity.” “What do you mean?” said David.

“I have sinned against the Lord. David had grown pale. You shall not die. who once did sing unto the Lord. May the Lord uphold that judgment I made—a judgment upon myself. so is He gladdened by your repentance. they should put my picture beside it. Yet you shall be punished. For I deserve to die.” he said. “All that you have accused me of is true. David raised his head and gazed mournfully at the prophet.” said Nathan. For as He was angered by your sins. “and indeed merit death.” As he listened to these words.” And Nathan departed the throne room. exiting through a side door. But the Lord is merciful and will spare you. Now he hung his head in shame and stood in silence.” He sank to his knees and began to sob. O what a sinner has our king become.      So you took her and arranged his death. The adviser slipped away. I am a sinner—an egregious sinner! To illustrate the word in dictionaries. Finally. The sounds echoed in the empty hall. “Your sins were grievous.* * David’s repentance is described in a work by the Greek author Pseudo-Callisthenes:  .

I myself opened the door for this sin to enter into my soul’. refers to an unknown author who flourished six centuries later. whilst floods of his tears flowed down upon the surface of the earth by reason of his excessive weeping. ‘Who made thee commit this sin? But —praised be He!—is the Merciful One. is not to be confused with Callisthenes. on the other hand. and his eyes failed by reason of the multitude of his tears. and he sang in a psalm of how  had made to wither all the hair which was upon his head. (Pseudo-Callisthenes. Pseudo-Callisthenes. And David hearkened unto [the angels].” (from the Ethiopic version of Pseudo- Callisthenes’ Book of Alexander. Callisthenes was a nephew of Aristotle’s. and behold the story of his weeping and groaning are written in the Book of David. “   ” “And [David] repented of his sin. and he saith…‘O . translated by E. and the author of a history of Greece. with sorrow and tears for the rest of his days. And he plucked out the hair of his head.)  . And the angels who were standing by his head said unto him. Wallis Budge) The facts are wildly exaggerated. but the poignancy of the act of repentance is captured. And he mourned for the evil which he had wrought. a friend of Alexander the Great’s. and who sought to enhance the authority of his book by attributing it to Callis- thenes.A. And he lay face-downwards and prostrate on the ground for forty days and forty nights. by the way. for so long that his hair grew and covered his head and his body. Modern scholarship has unmasked him and tacked on the prefix. and he wept and lifted not up his head.’ Thus ’s mercy came to him by reason of the affliction in which he was.

and still he took no food. He applied his con- coctions and spells. sleeping on the floor. A physician was summoned. A week passed. Informed of this. listening to him weep. The servants waited outside the door. he declared. David shut himself up in his chamber. Now a grim-faced Shavsha stood in the doorway.” said David. but was unable to allay the ill- ness. When Shavsha pleaded with him to eat.   Psalm T    ’   . There he donned sackcloth and did penance—praying. who was slumped on the couch. The child was dying. David stared back vacantly.  . fasting. “Enter.

“My ill tidings have brought you back to life. donned fresh clothes. “The child is dead then?” Shavsha nodded. “I am puzzled. “Cleanse me with a sprinkling Of hyssop and of dew And wash away these shameful deeds That I may start anew. loving  And wash these sins away That stain the fabric of my soul: From Thee I’ve gone astray.” said David. But now that the child is gone. nor a thousand prayers. Then he told Shavsha to bring him food. nor a bed of thorns shall bring it back. Commandments disobeyed. what’s the point? Not a pitcherful of tears. “When the child clung yet to life. alone in the torchlit chamber.  . Dissolve the sin therefrom. I wept and prayed and did penance. “Bathe my soul in mercy. He removed the sack- cloth. David rose and went to an alcove. Then he picked up his lyre and began to sing: “Have mercy on me. For I hoped that  would take pity on me—that He would be gracious and allow it to recover. washed himself. Law and conscience have I scorned And Thee have I betrayed. A tray of food was brought in. Let me be what once I was Not what I have become.” said Shavsha.  “What news?” The vizier remained at the door and said nothing.” “Puzzle not.” Shavsha bowed and departed. “I have done evil in Thy sight. And David ate.

“And I shall lift my voice again In praise. Thou shalt! “And by example shall I teach To others gone astray The joyfulness that comes to he Who learneth to obey. Psalm  concludes with the promise of a priestly sacrifice. inserted after the return from exile in Babylonia. but this— A heart that is contrite. to be offered once the walls of Jerusalem have been strengthened. A major difference lies in the ending. Not empty ritual. Lord. I promise. see Psalm  (superscribed “A Psalm of David. loving  And wash my sins away And I shall live for Thee alone Unto my dying day. “Have mercy on me.  . of Thee And wake the town with song at night— A rousing rhapsody! “And I shall beg Thee to accept An offering from me And it shall be that sacrifice That most delighteth Thee: “Not lamb nor bullock slain by priest Upon some sacred height. when Nathan the prophet came unto him. after he had gone in to Bathsheba”) in the Book of Psalms. O Lord.      “Wash away the wickedness And purge me of the guilt And Thou shalt own this heart again. This sentiment—which con- tradicts the rest of the psalm—is probably a scribal addition.”* He looked up to see Bathsheba standing in the door- * For a variant of the above.

She approached him.” “And the second? Shall it fare any better?” “May the Lord allow it to prosper—in acknowledgment of my return to Him. as punishment for my sins.  way.” said David. “The Lord has taken our first. They embraced and wept. David put down his lyre and came forward to meet her. Her face was taut with sorrow.”  . “We shall have another child.

and engaged the enemy. Known to the Israelites as odem ( ). They soon surren- dered. It was believed to protect from sorcery and evil spirits.     sat Borak and Gorash. “The siege had brought the Ammonites to the brink of starvation. With a deafening roar our troops charged the walls. while the priests carted off an altar. “So he traveled to Rabbah and led the assault. When did it fall?” “About a month ago.” said Borak. The glory of taking a city! It had been a while. And it’s set with a sardonyx. Joab bagged himself a princess. So he sent the King a message. the Ammonites could scarcely fight. plundered with abandon. urging him to come and lead the assault. and the city was ours. “How would I hear?” said Gorash. But he wanted the honor of victory to fall to David. and to aid in the healing of wounds. it was one of the twelve stones in the breastplate of the High Priest.   Tavern Talk I       ’. We collected weapons. “You’ve not heard that Rabbah fell?” said Borak. And how David cried out with enthusiasm upon receiving it. It’s cast from pure gold and weighs eight pounds.”* * Sardonyx is a gemstone with bands of red (sard) and black (onyx). clambered over them. “Just got back from Upper Egypt—a long and arduous journey. Weakened from starvation. looking surprised.” “What for—as a spare?” “As a worthy headpiece for the king of Israel.  . and Joab was preparing to storm the walls. I myself delivered the message. removed the villain’s crown. and claimed it as his own. took slaves. But to David went the greatest prize of all—Hanun’s crown. He made Hanun kneel.

Daniel.”* Gorash shook his head. “Who in their right mind would want a crown?” he said. and has worn it since. Shephatiah. And Bathsheba’s with child again. any of whom could succeed him. Ithream. You’re going to have prince against prince. Eliada. his eyes widening. stylish. It’s light. “To those who—in their daydreams—are already trying it on.” “How now?” said Gorash.” “This crown had been dedicated to Milcom.” “But so heavy—eight pounds! Such a crown must be burdensome to wear. Nathan. Adonijah. and practical. David brought it back to Jerusalem. I’ll stick with this feathered cap. thank you. Elishua. of rivalry. lowering his voice. Two of these—Absalom and Adonijah—will be seen to have harbored just such ambitions. And no one’s creeping up to strangle me * The sixteen sons (by seven wives) were Amnon.” said Borak.  . Nepheg. “Speakest thou of treachery?” “Nay. Shobab. Elishama. mark my words: she’ll be grooming him too for that crown. For David has sixteen sons. The perils. Ibhar. vying to be king. the Ammonite god.” “Tell that to those who covet it. “Consider the responsibilities.   “Hoo hah. had it rededicated to the Lord. and Eliphalet. Japhia. Shimea. The sheer discomfort of wearing the thing! Not for me. Absalom. If it’s a male.

” “I’ll drink to that. No one else wants it. Lord.” The two men clinked goblets and drank. not a king.” said Borak.  . Thank you. “Our job has plenty of pains—but one distinct advantage.      and grab it. for making me a messenger.

he approached the bed. that’s all. Then he called out in a stentorian voice: “A son is born unto the King! A son is born unto the King!” The crowd cheered. “Go ahead. tossed hats into the air. “The people are pleased. You would ded- icate our son to Shalem? To a god other than the Lord?” “It’s just a name. silencing the crowd that had gathered beneath Bathsheba’s window.” said Bathsheba. and the rest?” “Solomon. “Proclaim the news unto the people. “They share in our joy. “What shall it be? What shall we call this latest of my progeny—this younger brother to Amnon. Bathsheba was sitting up.” “I don’t know.” said David. frowning.” “I have chosen a name for him.” “Solomon.   A Son Is Born T      . Stepping out onto the balcony. and called for King David. I like the name. What’s Nathan going to say—and speaking of the prophet.” said David. David smiled proudly and waved. Adon- ijah.” said David.”  .” “Say it again. here he is now. “I’m still trying to restore my reputation.” “But Shalem is the god of the Jebusites. Going back inside.” “But doesn’t that mean ‘belonging to Shalem’? You’re naming him after the god Shalem?” “I’m not naming him after anyone.” The herald blew on the trumpet.   trumpet and looking back at David in the bed- chamber. holding an infant that was swaddled in vel- vet. Absalom.

“Let thy name be Jedidiah. Bathsheba has given birth to a son. He bowed and said: “You summoned me.      Nathan had appeared in the doorway.” David and Bathsheba exchanged looks. For he is a token of ’s grace—unto you as a penitent. As you may have heard. “The child already has a name. ‘beloved of . entering the room and approach- ing the bed.’ And may you love the Lord as He loves thee. ’s blessing upon thee. Jedidiah son of David. and unto the House of David. “It has a nice  .” said Nathan.” “Good.” “What’s wrong with Jedidiah?” said David. “For I wish to give him a name as well as a blessing. The prophet held his hands over the infant.” “Most willingly. no. Bathsheba glared at her husband. We would like you to bestow upon him your bless- ing. Have you named him yet?” “Actually. O King?” “I did.” Nathan bowed again and departed.

And the Lord loved him. And he shall achieve great fame—for his wisdom.” ( Samuel :–)  .” David left the room and. I have come to announce the destiny of the child that  has sent thee. As for me. and he [David] gave him the name Solo- mon. But our prophet has dubbed him Jedidiah. and eloquent of speech. “And he sent for Nathan the prophet. He awoke with a start. Now should be a time of joy and celebration. returned to his own chamber.” “Absolutely not. The visitor smiled.” He turned to the herald. David murmured and slept. and fell asleep. Make that two days.” “That’s wonderful. Indeed. And it came with the blessing. long-lived. “Get back out there and announce a holiday—a day of feasting.” “We’ll discuss this later. I am the angel Uriel. There he removed his robe. who gave him the name Jedidiah. “But what about the problem with his own name?” “What problem is that?” “His mother wants to name him Solomon—after Shalem. plopped down on the bed.’ So which is it to be? You’ve heard of Scylla and Charybdis? I’m caught * A slightly different version of the naming is found in the Book of Samuel: “And she bare a son. because of the Lord. “Who are you?” said David. messenger of . “Be not afraid. I’m calling him Solomon. Standing over him was a huge fig- ure with wings.* • A breeze was rustling the curtains.     ring. the god of the Jebusites. he shall be deemed the wisest of men! And he shall glorify the Name of . I could use some sleep. Let the people rejoice at this token of divine favor. Know that he shall be pious.” said David. striding through the dim cor- ridors of the palace. ‘beloved of .

     between a willful wife and a righteous prophet. and the opening vanished.” “Ingenious! I’ll do it. Each party will be satisfied.’ And you tell your wife that Jedidiah is a theistic designation—a mere formality. whose  . it is the angel Gabriel. What am I to do?” “The solution is simple. (Gabriel communicates with prophets. Elsewhere. including Daniel.” Uriel smiled and climbed a ladder into an opening in the ceiling.* * Only in the Book of Enoch (in which he warns Noah of the coming flood) and the Book of King Solomon do we find Uriel serving as ’s messenger. He drew the ladder up after him. “Give him both names.” said Uriel. David fell back asleep.” “Both?” “Why not? You tell the prophet that Solomon is a nick- name—that it derives from shalom. or ‘peaceful.

In Paradise Lost. and to Mary. who asks for direc- tions to the Garden of Eden.) Uriel is perhaps better known for a fateful blunder.     visions he elucidates. and Muhammad. father of John the Baptist.  . Uriel blithely points out the way. mother of Jesus. appearing to Zechariah. he is approached by a disguised Satan. He also serves as an annunciator of births. to whom he dictates the Qur’an.

Images flick- ered on the screen. Gazing at the screen was an imposing figure. having neither beginning of days nor end of life…a priest abiding forever. without mother.e. presents the patriarch with bread and wine. he was seated in a thronelike chair. accompanied by sounds. the chief god of the Canaanites. brief appearance. In one hand he held a goblet. Melchizedek then slips away (though not before elicit- ing from Abraham a tithe on his war spoils) and is heard from no more. watching a comedy show. surmounted with an orb. He was evidently a local manifestation—a particular “brand”—of El. His mane of hair and beard were white. though he makes but a single. a remote control. He wore a triple-tiered hat. and blesses him in the name of El Elyon. who has just returned from a battle. the Divine Word. without ancestors.   Cave of the Ages A      . He was sipping from the goblet. In Genesis  he approach- es Abraham. and bestowing upon Abraham His blessing? Or…was he a supernatural being? An emissary from the beyond? Philo of Alexandria seems to have thought so. El Elyon is described as the creator of heaven and earth. The Book of Hebrews deems him to be “without father. Who was this mystery man (whose name means “my ruler [] is righteous”)? What was his purpose? Did he initiate Abraham? We are told only that he was the king of Salem and a priest—of El Elyon ( ). in the other.     giant screen that was set into the wall. So was Melchizedek simply a priest-king—a sacral monarch worshiping  Most High. It was Melchizedek. His face was as craggy as the walls of the cave.” And the Melchizedek Text  . and chuckling.. describ- ing Melchizedek as “the Logos”—i. or  Most High. Tall and erect.* * Melchizedek is a significant figure in the Bible. lounging in the Cave of the Ages. and a silken robe that glimmered in the light.

rolling his eyes.  . went so far as to identify with Cronus and Father Time. yes.” said Uriel. Early Christian writers tell of a sect of heretics—the Melchizedekites—who honored him as a heav- enly power. It involves a clerical error. and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of . and we’d like your advice on what to do. “I go where I’m sent. “You were sent to the palace last year—for David’s previous child— (one of the Dead Sea Scrolls) has him hobnobbing with angels. did preach repentance unto his people. These sectarians circulated the Book of Adam and Eve.” “This is unbelievable.” “Anyhow. I just got back from Jeru- salem.     A bell rang. In short. his newborn son. The Book of Mormon mentions him. “The name is on my list. With a growl of impatience. really. the eighteenth-century mythographer. they did repent. It was speculation like this that led to Melchizedek becoming the focus of a short-lived sect. Who tells me he’s about to leave for Jerusalem.” “But it’s a mistake!” said Uriel.” And a rabbinic commentary (Midrash Tehillim) credits Mel- chizedek with having taught Abraham the practice of charity— that tithe on his war spoils.” “Go on. The show clicked off and a face—that of the angel Uriel—appeared on the screen. “Sorry to bother you. I get back—and bump into my colleague here. where I was informing King David of the destiny of Solomon. “Yes? What is it?” said Melchizedek. To take Solo- mon!” A second face—obscured by dark glasses and a hood— moved into the picture. “but a mix-up has occurred. which chronicles his earliest activities (such as helping Shem. In Alma  we learn that “Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith.” said the Angel of Death. You know about Solomon?” “Yes. he jabbed at the remote. the son of Noah. to build an altar). a celestial being—a semi-divine hierophant—an other- worldly figure whom Jacob Bryant. And behold.

he cannot remain in the temporal plane. and a strict one.      and somehow the order got repeated.” “Don’t you understand? I’ve already announced his des- tiny!”  . So I must go and take him—clerical error or not. “That can’t be done. It’s the law.” “Ridiculous!” said Uriel.” The Angel of Death shook his head. “You’re ridiculous. Without years. who is supposed to build the Temple. This is Solomon. No years have been allotted to the child.” “Perhaps not. His name should not be on your list. But it’s there.” “So just cross it off.

From somewhere came the tinkling sounds of a xylophone. Melchizedek hiked along at a rapid pace. At his feet began a path. Melchizedek emerged into daylight. If the child is not allowed to live—to grow up and become King Solomon—then who will build the Temple? Who will raise a house for —a dwelling place for His Presence? Death. walked to the front of the cave.” Melchizedek clicked the remote and the screen went blank. He set out upon it. If I were able to come up with those years. Melchizedek ducked through it. The hills were silent. Then he got up.” said Melchizedek. He stood squinting at a cloud-filled sky. He had entered the Tunnel of Time. She was filling a basket and keeping an eye on two boys who played nearby. let me ask you this. “Gentlemen. he pondered for a moment. Passing through the cave. there’s obviously been an error and something needs to be done about it. Melchizedek strode along a corridor. “Look. Outside the fence was  . would you relent?” “I suppose so. Over each portal was a number. It grew louder as he trudged up a hill. save for the twitter of birds and rustle of leaves. Occasionally he stopped to mop his brow and catch his breath. huffing and puffing. And arriving at the crest of the hill. After a while. It was lined with portals into further corridors. The path wound through the hills.     The two angels glared at one another. I’ll get back to you. which ended in a small cave. A woman knelt in the garden. Draining his goblet. Melchizedek looked down upon a home- stead. and passed through a portal. He continued along a narrower corridor. Surrounded by a fence were a hut and a garden. Surrounding him were wooded hills. Despite his apparent age. the sound of hammering reached his ears. Arriving at the one he sought.” “Then let me see what I can do. The corridor glimmered with a bluish light. gentlemen.

His eyes narrowed with a mixture of suspicion and curiosity. But that child is about to die—unless a donor can be found. Adam!” he called out. Hammering at its roof was a man on a lad- der. stood facing him. By helping to bring about this temple. “I sinned.” Adam pointed to the woman. a portion of his own temporal allotment. “A word with you. A temple.” said Melchizedek. a thousand! And I have come to ask you to donate a small portion of those years— thereby saving the child and allowing the temple to be built. I should point out.      a chicken coop. Like the woman he was clad in an animal skin. sir! Here’s your chance to make amends for that. And listen. He was tanned and muscular. That’s right. Do you recall why you became mortal?” Adam hung his head.” “Who are you?” asked Adam. “Whatever he’s selling. “we don’t want it. that will provide for the atonement of sin.” he said glumly. Chickens clucked and scattered as Melchizedek came waddling down the hill. “who is supposed to become king and raise a temple to . Now your life span has been set at a thousand years. There is a matter I wish to discuss with you. “Why not ask her for the  . to the child. A donor of years of life.” Adam climbed down from the roof. “I dis- obeyed .” Adam stopped hammering and watched the priest approach. priest of  Most High.” “Indeed you did—and brought sin into the world.” “Whoa!” “You’ll still live to be —an enviable span.” “How many years are we talking about?” “Sixty. please.” “There is a child. “Mr. and said: “I’m listening.” said the woman. there’s something in this for you. Someone willing to transfer. “I am Melchizedek.

with her infant. What’s a couple of years?” They shook hands on the deal.” “I’m asking you.” said Adam. Melchizedek thanked him and returned along the path.” “I do need to make amends. She was surrounded by courtiers who were wishing her well. The screen lit up and showed a room in the palace. O Solomon. Melchizedek raised his goblet to the screen. “All right. And may you build that temple—as a house for  Most High. and clicking the remote. as head of the household. praised be His Name!”  . “May you thrive. Sitting on a couch was Bathsheba. I’ll donate.     years? She too sinned. refilling his goblet.” he said. And the priest was soon back in the Cave of the Ages— settling into his chair. “May your wisdom brighten the land.

“which varies like the wind—now a blast that makes his minions shake.” “Your father’s versatile. Here’s a present I have fashioned for you. and looked up at his parents. beaming with pleasure. They were standing behind him.” She handed him  . “Yet your moth- er. “for one who’s both war- rior and poet.    candles.   Birthday S     .” “You have your father’s breath. “With a single breath you’ve anni- hilated five soldiers—reduced them to smoking wax.” said Bathsheba.” said David. too.” said Bathsheba. now a zephyr bearing sugared words. “Bravo!” said David. has a range of skills—one of which is embroidery.” “A proper breath.

” “And speaking of hunger. “Did you hear that?” said David. “You are old enough now to cover your head.” “Just so. a toy. We shall be given what we need.” said Solomon. Who hungereth.  an ornate cap.” said Bathsheba with an indulgent smile. “Five years old and he comes up with a comment like that. Then he said: “I want whate’er the day doth bring— A cake. donning it. I must remember those lines and have them entered in the chronicle.” “But who better than Solomon to succeed you? To pre- serve your achievements and carry on your legacy? He’s a bright and talented boy—not a lout like Amnon. “That’s Father’s cap. It does echo a French leg- end (retold in Seymour’s Tales of King Solomon).” Solomon pondered for a moment. no other author —ancient or modern—alluding to it. Yet who is it that craves this crown of mine— he or his mother? Let’s ask him. In verse no less! Truly. I have sired a sage—as the angel foretold. nor a dullard like Daniel. “You promised!” “I said I’d think about it.” “Assuredly.” “Oh?” said David.* * The above episode is found only in Ahimaaz. “A cap!” cried Solomon. a piece of string. Son. “As Father does. and coffers of gold? Or something else altogether? Tell us what you want. do you wish to be king? Do you want a crown. “how about slicing the cake?” David laughed and called for a servant. “A fancier type of cap—which will someday be yours.” His parents exchanged looks. the Lord doth feed.” said Bathsheba. and a throne. giving her a dark look.” said Solomon. He pointed at David’s crown. in which the three-year-old Solomon weighs his mother’s headdress against a  .

     scaleful of wood shavings.  . Solomon laughs at the vanity it represents. When he sees that the headdress is lighter—less substantial—than the shavings.

“containing a portion of the book that is holy to our people. embodied in letters—the letters of the alphabet. Yours. “These are words. “They are to read.’ You will learn to read the Torah. Yet both of them are equal in ’s eyes.” said the prophet.” said Nathan.   School S          table. “Let us begin then. Have you heard of the Three R’s?” The boys looked at him blankly. and a jar of honey. On the table were writing tablets. Nathan picked up the scroll and unrolled it. Likewise shall the two of you be equals in this classroom—subject to the same expectations of diligence and obedience. He pointed to the Hebrew script on the scroll. gentlemen. I shall be your teacher. this palace rooftop shall be your classroom.” said Nathan. or ‘teach- ing. revere. a scroll. Why? Because your fathers wish you to become learned and pious Israelites. Standing before the unsmiling seven- year-olds was Nathan. and relish the word of . is a cook here in the palace. There are  letters and they are holy. is king of Israel. You are to report here daily. I shall brook no nonsense from either of you. “Are we ready to begin?” They nodded. Now your father.” he said. “This is a scroll. Anointed king. “Good morning. Joseph. grease-splattered cook— men of different stations in life. Is that understood?” Solomon and Joseph nodded. Solomon. That book we call the Torah. To that end they have placed you in my charge. Now— where did the Torah come from? Who gave it to us? Solo- mon. do you know?”  . as I endeavor to teach you the Three R’s. “We are here today to commence your education. For they give form to our holy Torah.

Lightning had flashed. And who gave it to Moses?” “. Let me describe to you what happened on Mount Sinai— on that lonely peak in the middle of a desert. ‘What are you doing here. “Moses had ascended the mountain. Whereupon. a dark cloud descended from the sky and opened. So Sandalfon led him through the gate. “Emerging from the cloud.” said Joseph. Guarding it was the angel Keniel.” said Nathan in a solemn tone. And the mountain had bellowed forth smoke and fire. which established the covenant between  and Israel. “And he came to the third gate. Moses approached the first gate of Heaven. ‘Return to your realm!’ But Moses uttered the Secret Name of — revealed to him at the Burning Bush—and Keniel moved aside. fire-breathing angel.” “And where did that take place?” “On Mount Moriah?” “No. and so terrified was Moses by Hadarniel’s appearance that he could not speak— could not pronounce the Secret Name of . He stepped into it.  . “That’s correct. And the cloud bore him up to Heaven. This one was guarded by Hadarniel. guarded by Sandalfon— an angel with a fiery sword. too. no. “Moses passed through the gate and continued on through a mist. Hadarniel.” The boys listened with rapt attention. Moses was given the Torah on Mount Sinai. But the voice of  sounded and ordered that he be allowed to pass. Sandalfon raised his sword in a threatening manner. “Moses arrived at the summit. As he had climbed. an enormous. But  ordered that Moses be admit- ted to Heaven.” “Correct.      “Moses gave us the Torah. challenged him. Joseph. until arriving at the second gate. “Summoned by . mortal?’ said Keniel. A momentous event. do you know where?” “On Mount Sinai. It was revealed to him there. the sky had darkened. thunder had rolled.

And Moses began to copy its contents. “Jephephiel opened the scroll. before the curtain that veils it. The Torah! The celestial Torah. with letters of fire writ on a fiery scroll. And the angel Jephephiel appeared. Driven by the holiness of his mission. When he had finished. And that is how we came to  . with a dazzling object in his arms. and left him outside the Palace.  carried him over the River of Fire. “Moses went inside and stood before the Throne of Glory —or rather. he returned to Mount Sinai with the copy. he wrote swiftly yet accurately.

     possess the Torah—’s gift to Israel and to mankind. Each has a name.” said Joseph. and other visitors to the Other World must not neglect the practical exigencies of their experience.” said Solomon.” he said. In my How to Make the Most of a Flying Saucer Experience (Top Hat Press. Pick up your tablets. Solomon?” “Did Moses copy the entire Torah?” “Indeed he did. my thanks to Thee. I list the contents of a suggested Encounter Kit. such as aleph or beth. ).” * Prophets. containing everything he needed. Those are the letters of the alphabet. “So that’s how the Torah came to us. “And describe the taste.” Nathan picked up the jar of honey. visionaries.” said Nathan. But before I intro- duce them. we have a ceremony to enact—the purpose of which is to inaugurate your studies. You have a question.” “How long did that take him?” “Forty days. “Sweet. “Quite sweet.”* Solomon nodded thoughtfully.” Like connoisseurs the boys tasted the honey. O Lord.  . With a spoon he put a dab of honey on each tablet. To initiate you into the world of learning. Nathan bowed his head and said: “How sweet Thy words upon my tongue Like honey of the bee. How sweet the words of  Most High. “Taste the honey with your finger.” “Where did he get food and paper and stuff?” “He had a knapsack with him. And look at the marks in the wax. “Now back to the alphabet—to the letters that give form to the words of the Torah.” “He was up there for forty days?” “That’s right.

” said Nathan.  . a new pupil is given his primer and a taste of honey—that he may associate learning (however rigorous) with sweetness.” The boys exchanged dubious looks. “As you learn to read them. are they any questions or concerns?” Solomon raised his hand. On his first day at religious school. The words of the Torah will be sweet- ness enough. So—before we get to work. “’s words will be like honey on your tongues. “Yes.* * The ritual with honey is still enacted by Orthodox Jews.  His pupils barely heard him. Solomon?” “Will we get some honey each day?” “You won’t need it. They were savoring the honey and murmuring with pleasure.

He gives the room a once-over. apparently.  .’ “Can you believe it? The Angel of Death. Just taking a break. stand- ing in the doorway—the Angel of Death. in a deep. Zuki slides one in front of him. enters. Jared jumps up and cries: ‘No. he relat- ed what had happened. As Death approaches.” “Who was that?” “The Angel of Death.” “Whoa! Not looking for me. And taking a sip from his goblet. “Welcome back. the two mes- sengers clinked goblets. he takes a seat at the bar and orders a beer. mournful voice. An unexpected visitor. For there he is. shooting the breeze with Yakob and Bani. Anyhow. Thursday night.   Death Takes a Break S         of Zuki’s tavern. “Jared the carpenter is sitting there on a stool. “You missed some excitement here at Zuki’s. “And suddenly everyone falls silent. We’ve just ordered another round.’ says Death.” “Stopped in for a beer?” Borak nodded.” he began.” said Borak. taking a break —and at Zuki’s! Gave us all a scare. I’m sitting here. At their table in the rear. when hoofbeats sound outside—a horse pulls up— a dog starts howling.” said Gorash. “The place was packed—the usual noisy crowd. It’s been a long day. In his hooded shroud and dark glasses. Meanwhile. Just stopped in for a beer. Jared has slunk away. not me!’ “‘Relax. He downs it in a single gulp and orders another. ‘I’m just here for a beer. “How was Babylon?” “Hot and crowded. I hope?” “Not looking for anyone. “It was early in the evening. not me! Please. and heads for the bar.

“‘Why wouldn’t he? We have a right to know!’ I say. Actually.     leaving Death alone at the bar. pounding on the table. Over- worked. “The novelty of his presence soon wears off.’ he laments. he’s not so scary up close—just this big dude in a hood. The road. here’s our chance to find out.’ says Yakob.’ “‘He can’t do that. But Yakob and Bani grab me and warn me to stay away from him. ‘Guys. He turns and looks at me. ‘for every one I  . ‘The subject concerns us intimate- ly. and I see myself reflected in his glasses.’ “So I start to get up. I describe some of the frustrations of being a mes- senger. Like you and me. ‘There’s another born. ‘He might get annoyed and decide to take you. ‘Don’t mess with Death. the weather.’ “So I break away and saunter over to the bar. horses. He’s got a grim expression and ghostly complexion—but mainly he just looks tired. ‘You have to be on his list. But I’m gazing at our visitor in awe. So I say to Yakob and Bani.’ I explain. who brings us a pair. ‘Can I buy you a beer. I smile and give him a nod. And I plop down on a stool—right beside the Angel of Death! I’m feel- ing loose and relaxed. I’ll tell you what—I’m going to stroll over there and ask him. Death is sitting there slouched over his goblet.’ says Yakob. ‘Why not?’ “I gesture to Zuki. We can ask him. And it dawns on me that this is a unique opportunity. and every- one goes back to drinking and talking. about nothing in particular. “So I say. And he complains about the endless nature of his job. sir?’ “He shrugs and says. And we start drinking together—me and the Angel of Death! And con- versing.’ “‘I doubt he’d tell us. have you ever wondered: where does the Angel of Death take the souls he gathers? To what sort of place? Is it a kingdom? A vacationland? A warehouse? Will the earthly pleasures to which we’re accustomed still be available? Are rewards and punishments meted out? Do we regain our youth? Is any work required? Look. Ask what it’s like in the World to Come. from the beers I’ve imbibed.

if I may. If you don’t mind me asking: where exactly do you take that soul?’ “He frowns and stares at me. you show up to collect his soul. Night and day.’ “We’re on our second beer when I put the question to him.      fetch.’ “‘Hey. You toss it over your shoulder and ride off with it.’ I say. ‘Mr.’ “‘It must be exhausting. ‘A question for you. The job never ends. Has my question annoyed him? Was it out of line? Have I gone too far? But then he  . Death. Keeps me going round the clock. rubbing my chin in a thoughtful manner.’ “‘Go on.’ “‘When a person dies. you do your work.

’ “‘Psychopomps?’  . The nature of that abode is none of my business. I gather only Israelites.     says: ‘Depends. Galloping about. I ride to Mount Gerizim. I halt outside this cave and whistle. Okay— but then what? What happens to the soul? What fate awaits it?’ “Death shrugs. If the name’s in red. He gives me a receipt.’ And he takes a swig of his beer. and sent to me. But if the name’s in blue. “‘Here’s how it works. “‘A hundred or so.’ says Death. Each soul I then deliver as designated.” as I call them—and collect their souls.’ “‘Let me get this straight.’ “He reaches into a pocket. Other nations have their own psychopomps.’ I say. I peer at a long column of names and addresses. ‘I’m just a delivery per- son. and disappears with it into the cave —all the while singing a hymn of joy. Out of the mist steps an angel. takes the soul. ‘You take the soul either to a smoking pit or to the Cave of Radiant Mist.’ he says. “‘How far do you range? Do you operate outside Israel?’ “‘Presently. like you and me. I visit them—my “clients. And I continue on my rounds. ‘This list is compiled daily. I convey souls to their final abode. I go to a smoking pit called Gehenna.’ “‘On what?’ “‘On where it’s been consigned. Near the sum- mit is the Cave of Radiant Mist. “Can you imagine? He’s got no idea what happens to the souls—and doesn’t care! He’s just a flunky. They’re penned in a fancy script. by a heavenly tribunal.’ he says. I start at the top. So I ask him how many pickups he makes in a typical day. ‘No idea. no. But I’m interested now in the mechanics of his job. We deliver messages—he delivers souls.’ “‘But aren’t you curious?’ “‘Not really. And I see that some of the names are in red and others in blue. and shows it to me. pulls out that list of his. I ride up to its edge and toss the soul in.

And you’ll have mortals exceeding their allotted span.’ “He gets up—a bit wobbly—and heads for the door. Yet there are no plans to train such personnel—no discussion even of the problem.” said Borak. But it’s going to catch up with us. And that was our visit from the Angel of Death. “Concerning that census David has ordered. ‘So I’m riding south—anyone need a lift?’ “Death looks about the room.’ he says with a wave. But it’s been good chatting with you.’ he says. “‘My next pickup’s in Hebron. Skilled professionals who conduct souls to a realm of the dead. ‘Either you are king and I am the general. The Greeks. “‘Good night then. Which is going to cause a problem.” “Incredible. And laughing at me—laughing at Death!’ “He shakes his head and finishes off the beer. and exits. “That dog starts howling again. by the way. We hear Death shout to his horse and gallop off. Joab tried to dissuade him from doing it. Already I can barely keep up.” said Gorash. “‘No. have Charon the Ferryman—good friend of mine. There will be a critical shortage of collectors. “Only at Zuki’s. pointing out that the law pro- hibits a numbering of the people. I should be moving on.      “‘That’s what we call ourselves. or I am king  . I’ll need deputies—dozens of them.” “So what else has been happening? Any news from the palace?” “King David and Joab had a tense moment. At the door he stops and turns to face us.’ “‘How so?’ “‘I won’t be able to handle the job alone. Borak. David got incensed and said. for exam- ple. Everyone in the place is watching him leave.’ “‘Likewise. But all nations will eventually worship  and fall under my jurisdiction. I ask him if he’d like another. But there are no takers— just a nervous silence.

He’s the eldest. From the Persians came the concept of resurrection: a belief that the body would be reconstituted at the end of time. they came into con- tact with new ideas—and selectively adopted them. to be sure.” said Borak with a shudder. some to everlasting life. and a war- rior like his father. Originally.” said Gorash. Jewish thinkers combined these ideas and added a monotheistic perspective. and judge them.” “And a valiant one.  would raise the dead. the dead wound up in either Paradise or Gehenna.” said Borak. “I wish Death had been able to tell you more—about the World to Come. Wisdom. There they continued on as refaim ( ). the dead were thought to descend into Sheol. you’re thinking of?” “Why not? He’s just thirteen. (Sheol—no longer needed—had been shut  . if the kingdom is to be held together. As the prophet Daniel declared: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake. too.” In this new scheme of things. a dark and gloomy underworld. But as the Jews fell under foreign rule. yet already showing defi- nite signs of wisdom. The Book of Job compares a soul entering Sheol to a cloud fading away.” said Gorash. Whisperings about the succession and such. rising from the grave to its reward or punishment. reunite them with their souls. and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Plus. And from the Greeks came the idea of an immortal soul: a spiritual essence that was independent of the body. Sheol was a repository of souls—a Realm of the Dead that was bleak and monotonous. or shades: listless beings who were barely con- scious.” “Who’s the current favorite?” “Prince Absalom.* * The Jewish conception of an afterlife has evolved over the millennia.” “Or awaits us in the pit. “You know.’ Joab yielded.” “Prince Solomon.     and you are the general. “Yet David’s successor will need more than valor. it was now believed. On a Day of Judgment. there’s been the usual palace intrigue. of course. They clinked their goblets and drank.” “Let’s drink to the lad. I’d like to know what lies beyond that Cave of Radiant Mist. and is organizing the census.

the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism. They saw Gehenna as a place of punishment: miscreants would be purged of their sins by its fire. “where they help make flowers grow. Orthodox Jews believe in a World to Come—a glorious destination that awaits the righteous. “is that the notion of such a substance as a soul is no longer intellectually tenable for most modern thinkers. the inhabitants of that underworld were listless zombies—mere shadows of their former selves—residents of the bleakest of rest homes.” writes Rabbi Morde- cai Kaplan. where the souls of sinners were con- sumed by fire. We live on in our descendants. Some rabbis deemed it a place of annihilation. We survive death. But at least they were still around!  . (“Insofar as the good we do while we live bears fruit after we are gone. True. but in some plausible fashion. “we have a share in the world to come. a consumer might justifiably complain. listed it as one of his thirteen Articles of Faith. even Sheol would seem preferable.” writes Rabbi Eugene Borowitz in Reform Judaism Today.) Paradise was envisioned as a celestial Garden of Eden. For two thousand years this view of the afterlife remained cen- tral to Judaism. Maimonides. such as Rabbi Akiba. were more sanguine.      down. (“The energy and chemical elements from our bodies go into the soil. Gehenna. was a fiery pit.”) Or in the memory of those who knew us.”) Confronted with these new brands of immortality. Or as a part of Nature. And to this day. on the other hand. the medieval philosopher. The product would seem to have been denatured and rendered innocuous. “Our present difficulty.” writes Rabbi Roland Gittelsohn. to which we return.” While paying lip service to a belief in immortality. But other Jews—of a more rationalistic bent—have rejected the idea. Others. they allow. many rabbis have felt obliged to redefine it. Its residents ate from the Tree of Life and basked in the glory of . Or in our accomplishments—the ramifications of our deeds—our influence on others. That’s it? That’s our reward in the end—that we’ll be remembered? That our mole- cules will be recycled?That we’ll become part of a flower? To such a fate. then admitted to Paradise.

and on the day of its inaugural use. The bell hung on the wall.  Uriel entered through the window.” said the vizier. Litigants would appear before him. and David—pray- ing for divine guidance—would decide the case. gentlemen.”* He handed David an iron rod and a golden bell.” “I see. and state your case. While away on business. subsequently failed to return them. raise it into the air. You have been told about our new device. have them hold the rod. the bell will ring. “It’s a device to aid you in dispensing justice. however.  . the plaintiff entrusted his pearls to the care of the defendant. • Word spread of this gift from heaven. David nodded. If you lie— * Like many monarchs of the ancient world. On a table had been placed the rod. We’re going to try it out this morning—with your mutual consent. The defend- ant. Shavsha presented them.” said Uriel. near a celebrated trophy: Goliath’s sword. and the first litigants of the day were led in. King David also served as a judge. “I have some- thing for you. claims to have returned the pearls. “As peo- ple testify.   Lie Detector K        . spectators crowded into the throne room. give their testimony. listen carefully.” David examined the device. “Your Highness. We may pro- ceed? All right. Whenever a lie is told. Each of you is to grasp the rod firmly.” said David. “I’ll give it a try.” said the angel. The defendant. he insists. “we have here a dispute over some pearls. “Place these in your judgment hall. “Now then. present their witnesses or evidence.” he said.

Repeat your statements. he raised it. “I do solemnly affirm.” The plaintiff grasped the rod and raised it. gentlemen. “I do hereby  .” The plaintiff—a middle-aged man in a silk robe— approached the table. Then he grasped the rod and raised it. handing his staff to the plaintiff.” he said. “Both of you seem to be telling the truth. “I do swear that I have returned to this fellow his pearls. Let’s run through it again. David looked puzzled. How can that be? Have we improperly used the device? Or perhaps your testimony was ambiguous. “that I entrust- ed my pearls to this man—temporarily!—and that he has failed to return them. “Hold this for me.” The bell was silent.” he said.      depart from the truth—so much as misspeak yourself—the bell will ring.” The bell remained silent. Now the defendant—an elderly man who walked with a staff and was grumbling with impatience—approached the table. Grasping the rod with both hands.

“I do solemnly state that I have given him back his pearls. “I do affirm. retain your staff.” said David. whoa.” said David.” The defendant began to squirm.  . Or upon fulfillment of some condition. Do not give it to the plaintiff to hold. The man has them. But this time. I tell you!” The bell was silent. David looked startled and turned to the defendant. “Which man exactly?” “Why. I see no need for any fur- ther—” “Do as I say. “You say ‘failed to return them as agreed upon. It’s an outrageous case of—” “Hold on. You’ve got to be more precise. “I’m starting to think it’s a dud.” Holding his staff with one hand.” he said in a faltering voice. I gave him my pearls for safekeeping. exasper- ated. him! The rascal standing beside me.’ But what exactly was agreed upon? For all we know. “See here.” The bell remained silent.” said David. “Now you. sir. Again the defendant handed his staff to the plaintiff. “The device doesn’t seem to be working. he agreed to return them a year from now. scratching his head in perplexity. And he has failed to return them as agreed upon. And he hasn’t done so. the defendant lifted the rod with the other. “Take hold of the rod and repeat your testimony. grasped the rod. “He was to return them when I got back from my business trip.” “There were no conditions!” said the plaintiff. I have established my veracity. Now he approached the throne and whispered into his father’s ear. and that he has—” “Whoa.   affirm that I entrusted my pearls to this man. Your Majesty.” Among those who had crowded into the hall was Solo- mon. and raised it.” said David. sir. The youth had been observing the proceedings with interest.

I reasoned. I am pleased with the lad. The answer then became obvious. the defendant hung his head. Slink out of here in shame. would he not?” Shavsha grunted noncommittally.” David turned to Shavsha and said: “Leave it to my son Solomon to have solved this puzzle. They had been hidden in a cavity in the handle. you scoundrel. the device is to be taken from you. “Because you doubted its power. glaring at the man. His trickery exposed. Begone!” David watched as the defendant hastened from the hall.” said David. “Aha!” he cried.” said David. and I am His servant. not lowered! But the Lord is merciful. Therefore. is he not? And piety. the defendant handed it over.” Ding! ding! ding! “Let me see that staff of yours. David examined the staff closely. Father. He’d do well on the throne.      “that I have given him back his pearls. “Why?” said David.” said David. then gave it a shake.” he said. “Indeed you gave him back the pearls. “And I am pleased too with this device. having been given to you by an angel. Reluctantly.” • But that night Uriel returned and asked for the rod and bell back. “After all. So both men were evidently telling the truth.” said David. He’s showing real intelligence. “For this fraud. “your head deserves to be lopped. Out spilled the pearls. “It’s a marvelous tool to aid me in judging cases. “The device could not have failed as you supposed. He has them.” “But I doubted only momentarily!”  . one of them must somehow be manipulating the truth. it was of divine origin. and pulled off the handle. Then he turned to Solomon and asked: “How did you fig- ure that out?” Solomon shrugged modestly.

For ’tis the faith as much the gift That doth men toward perfection lift.” “But it’s only human to doubt. And you shall have to make do with human judgment.  .” said David. “True enough.   The angel wagged his finger like a schoolmaster and said: “When gifts from heaven to us fall Our faith must falter not.” And Uriel departed with the rod and bell. withal.

“You may proceed. During that year they would lay a total of  eggs. sir?” asked David. Thus.” The plaintiff unrolled his scroll and displayed it.” “How did you arrive at that figure.. and the first litigants of the day were brought before him. During the trip he bor- rowed an egg from me. and never paid it back. “During the second year the hens lay  eggs. And half of those chickens would be hens. you’ve got  chickens. chickens would have arisen from the single egg we began with. by the start of the third year.” The defendant groaned. . I am now demanding repayment of the debt—which has burgeoned. .” he said. So after a year you’d have eighteen more chickens—these X ’s in the next row down.” began the plaintiff. “Your Majesty. “and to having neglected to repay it. And so on. By the end of the fourth year. The plaintiff was clutching a scroll and scowl- ing at the defendant. “By simple arithmetic. had the egg remained in my possession. “This X represents the original egg—the one I loaned him. He currently owes me . Those chickens rep- resent the egg’s ‘potential’—the wealth that might conceiv- ably have resulted from it. But I am prepared now to discharge the debt—by handing over an  . He pointed to the X at the top. “I admit to having borrowed the egg. On it was an elaborate diagram—a pyramid of thousands of X ’s. Now that egg could have hatched into a hen. this man and I were traveling together. gentlemen. chickens. Your Maj- esty! Such was the true value of the egg I loaned him.” said David.   Egg K        . eighteen in a year. “four years ago. And the hen would have laid eggs—typically.

the man agreed to do so. start scattering the beans. if I may. and intellectually stimulated by their complexities.” And turning to the defendant. and when it was over. The defendant nodded. Tomorrow he and I shall be out riding our horses. As we ride by. he said: “You will pay him. This case he had observed with particular interest.” “But Your Majesty. He ran his finger along the pyramid of X ’s. isn’t that the fellow I ruled against yesterday?” “I believe so. I’m a man of limited means. “Sir. Fas- cinated by the variety of cases that came before his father. Here’s what to do.  .” They dismounted and approached the defendant. explain that you are sowing them.” Puzzled but desperate. sir. chickens. With a furrowed brow he deliberated. Indeed.” “Whatever is he doing?” “Ask him. Finally he said to the plaintiff: “I’m no mathematician.” said Solomon. “Why. he caught up with the defendant in the lobby.” David examined the diagram. “I thought so. else he may claim you as his slave. “Then you should appeal my father’s ruling. I don’t have even nine chickens. and came upon the defendant in the field. • The next day David and Solomon were out riding. But there’s no arguing with this diagram. “a question for you. To demand any- thing more from me would be absurd.” Stunned.” said Solomon. Boil a pot of beans and bring them to the field by the North Gate. I can’t pay that!” “Find a way. Father. I have one here in my pocket. the defendant slouched toward the exit. the youth had been attending the sessions daily. When asked why.  egg.” “Yes?” Solomon whispered into his ear. Now among those present in the hall was Solomon. You are indeed owed .

Your Majesty.” said Solomon. Have your legal woes driven you mad? Nothing will grow from a boiled bean. True.” “No one told me that!” “You should have guessed.” And to the defend- ant he said: “Sir. Travelers carry boiled eggs.” “Sowing them? But that’s ridiculous. Father. “Sowing boiled beans.” Probably Solomon understood this. and that egg—which otherwise might have hatched and given rise to thousands of chickens—thereby lost its “potential. patting Solomon on the head. After all.” said David. the two men were traveling together. “Boiled? You mean that egg was boiled?” “Yes. but wished to save the defend- ant from slavery.” “Then all of the plaintiff ’s arithmetic—his diagram—his multiplying chickens—?” “Irrelevant.” “You know. “you’ve got a head on those shoulders. not fresh ones. the original boiled egg had no value beyond itself—no “potential.” But the plaintiff would have had to replace it by boiling another egg. David stared at his son. His egg—being boiled—had no value beyond itself.”* * Solomon would seem to have misled his father here.  . you need pay back only an egg.      “What are you doing?” asked David.” “No more than a chicken will hatch from a boiled egg.

Finding herself out of honey. The widow resided in Jerusalem. “Why not borrow some of that honey?” she said to herself. and the widow departed for the north. “I can replace it later. Her house—and her savings in gold—would be left unguarded. One day the neighbor decided to bake cakes. She emptied the jar of its contents. she thanked the woman for safeguarding it and carried it home. Then she went to the market. The neighbor—who had no idea that gold pieces were hidden in it—agreed. and started to ladle out honey.   Jar of Honey S         case. she covered them with honey. whom she asked to safeguard the jar until her return. And the neighbor discovered the gold. and refilled the jar with it. The ladle struck something. This worried her. the widow shrieked. The matter involved a widow. But she had decided to leave the city for the summer and visit a son in the north. she hid them in her cupboard. But when she opened the jar and delved into the honey.” So she took down the jar. Reclaiming the jar from her neighbor. Depositing the gold pieces in a jar. The widow then took it to a neighbor. The  . her savings. she recalled the widow’s jar. until she came up with a stratagem. Her gold was gone! She stormed back and confronted the neighbor. the jar was filled with honey. and a jar of honey. At the end of the summer the widow returned to Jeru- salem. demanding its return. opened it. To all appearances. Washing the gold pieces. For a moment she wavered—then succumbed to temp- tation. bought a quantity of honey.

Now young Solomon was a lover of honey. “You may come closer. and on the day of the trial the hall was packed with spectators. David settled it quickly. The spectators watched with puzzlement. “You have robbed me!” shouted the widow. But let me empha- size—the relevant commandment this morning is ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness. So when he heard that a case involv- ing it was scheduled to be heard.      neighbor claimed to know nothing about the gold. each insisting on her version of the facts. And seething with anger. Whether savored in desserts or simply devoured by the naked spoonful. a look of pure pleasure spread across his face. covering it with honey? And that upon reclaiming the jar from your neighbor. she rushed to the palace and filed a complaint with King David. as Solomon plopped down on the throne. When they had finished. To the widow he said: “Do you solemnly affirm that you placed your gold in this jar. He placed it on a table near the throne. honey was one of his passions. Several times he dipped and tasted. “I’m no ogre. They were accompanied by a court official. then rose from the throne and announced that his son would preside over the next case.’ Is that clear? Okay. Finally he turned towards the women. you discovered the gold to be gone?”  . he dipped his finger in and tasted the honey. The first case on the docket involved a dispute between co-owners of a camel. Initially. Removing the lid. Solomon went over to the jar and gazed at it. Solomon bade the litigants approach the throne. An expectant hum rose from the crowd. let’s pro- ceed. David chuckled and agreed. Word spread of his debut as judge. But it gave way to a contemplative air—as if the youth were pondering some deep question. The widow and her neighbor were led into the hall. carrying the jar of honey.” he said.” The two women testified. he asked his father if he might preside. To him it was the food of foods—the supreme comestible.

” To the neighbor he said: “Do you solemnly affirm that the jar contained nothing but honey? And that you removed no gold from it—there being no gold to remove?” “I do so affirm.” he said to her. he flung it to the floor. The jar smashed to pieces. And with a wild glint in his eye. Honey oozed among the pieces. He picked it up and examined it thoughtfully. The neighbor gasped. “Aha!” Solomon held up the bottom of the jar. like a connoisseur inspect- ing a work of art. “You missed one.” “Hmm.” Solomon returned his attention to the jar.    “I do so affirm. Clinging to it was a piece of gold. Then he lifted the jar above his head.  . He bent down and sift- ed through them.

     Stunned by the dramatic revelation. on the other hand. you were doing her a favor in safeguarding the jar—that’s a mitigating factor. superscribed “A Psalm of David. and for the mercy he had shown.  . And I was pondering a curious fact. And you seemed to be deep in thought. “But one thing puzzles me. That night at dinner. for his mercy. And it comes to us from the bees of the field—not from slaves in ghastly pits.” Both women thanked him—the neighbor. I would have thanked the woman—for leaving me with honey instead. I suppose we can let this go. she confessed her misdeed and begged forgiveness. for his recovery of the gold. It pos- sesses no medicinal quality. Weeping.” offers the follow- ing wisdom: “The law of the Lord is perfect. converting the soul. And the Lord enjoins us to be merciful. the neighbor fell to her knees. the testi- mony of the Lord is sure.* * Psalm . A gift from ! Had that been my gold she took. the widow. what good is gold? It has no aesthetic value beyond a vulgar glitter. Solomon returned to the throne and deliberated—frown- ing judiciously and clutching his chin. “First you tast- ed the honey—repeatedly.” said David. offers the sweetest of pleasures—a fore- taste of Paradise.” “What was that?” “That men prize gold over honey. David congratulated the boy—for his inspiration to smash the jar. It alleviates a score of ailments. “I just couldn’t resist a snack. What was that all about? Did it relate to solving the case?” “Not at all.” said David. And return the gold. But apolo- gize to her.” said Solomon. rolling his eyes— and wondering if he had a sage or a fool for a son. And it attracts thieves! Honey. Solomon beamed with satisfaction. As they were led out. making wise the simple.” “I’ll bet you would have. Finally he gave the neighbor a stern look and said: “Well. You’ve never been in trouble before. After all.

enlightening the eyes. yea.How sweet are Thy words unto my taste! yea.    “The statutes of the Lord are right. “The fear of the Lord is clean. rejoicing the heart. than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. enduring forever. sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Could David have been responding to his son’s discourse when he wrote these lines?  . “More to be desired are they than gold. the commandment of the Lord is pure.” And Psalm  echoes that sentiment: “O how love I Thy law! it is my meditation all the day….

armed and angry. I had been a vanquisher of Philistines and a popular hero. We established our headquarters in a cavern. Amorites. and in one of them dwelt a prophet—an ish elohim—a man of  . and it became the base for guerrilla operations against Saul. A band of outlaws. The head of a band of rebels. Shavsha approached King David and said in a low voice: “There’s a prophet outside.”  . The capital was Gibeah back then—did you know that? Good. Philistines—you name it. At first I was alone. Show him in. “I was once an outlaw.   Gad O see you. I had been one of King Saul’s generals. Father.” David turned to Solomon. under my able command.     . But my reputation attracted other fugitives and malcontents. demanding to “A prophet—with a lawsuit?” said David. “Here’s someone from my past. “Now in the vicinity were a number of smaller caves. Have I told you about those days?” “Not really. you’ve kept up with your history lessons. and before long there were  of us— camped there in the wilds.” “Gad? You don’t say! It’s about time that rascal paid me a visit. Says his name is Gad. plus a smattering of Hittites. We were men of every tribe.” David leaned back in the throne and sighed nostalgically. Wild-looking fellow. But then Saul and I had a falling-out—the loon imagined I was after his throne—and I was forced to flee the capital for my life. who was perched on a stool beside the throne. “Are we a liti- gious society or what?” “He won’t divulge what he wants. you know. From when I was hiding out in the Cave of Adul- lam. Anyhow. which was known as the Cave of Adullam. I fled into the wilderness—into the badlands. Prior to that.

Courtiers drew back in alarm as he approached the throne—scowling. growling. And flee we did. Still living in that cave? What brings you here. The men and I grew fond of him and looked forward to his visits. the next day Saul descended on our abandoned hideout. wonderfully learned—in the ways of a hermit! Gad could teach you a dozen ways to cook grasshoppers. villain. He’d stop by to fulminate against King Saul. you old galoot! How long has it been? Good to see you. or to describe a vision that had come to him. the man’s illiterate.” Gad was ushered into the hall. Otherwise. and he was a wild man.” agreed David.” “And to . ‘Flee!’ cried the prophet. and haggard.” said Solomon. There was a fierce look in his eye. and narrow-minded. drawing back in surprise. He wore a goatskin vest and a loincloth.” “And to . Gad was his name.” “How now?” said David.  . Not to mention irascible. “Is Gad a prophet like my teacher Nathan? I mean to say. learned as well as oracular?” David laughed.’ do I hear? Is this my old neighbor? Or some demon in  . the prophet was a forbidding figure. stamping his staff. ill-mannered. David rose and came forth to greet him. And sure enough. Tall. a real char- acter. “Aye. pounding his staff. “Then one day he showed up with an urgent warning. In a dream he had seen King Saul. and was on his way to get us. And here he comes now. said Gad. We fed the fellow and treated him as one of our own. lean. We had escaped thanks to Gad. “who surely sent him the dream. To him and his oracular powers I owe my life. headed for the Forest of Hareth. “Touch me not. “‘Vil- lain. His hair and beard were an unkempt tangle. “Gad. riding our way at the head of an army. or to tell our fortunes. my friend?” And he laid a welcoming arm on the prophet’s shoulder. Saul had learned our location. respecting his abilities as a seer. By nightfall we were on the march.

“In defiance of the law of Moses—of ’s command- ments unto us—you have numbered the people. ‘None of your business.’ he says.’ ‘And I am ’s agent!’ I say to  . Not a week ago.’ I say. “Apostate! You have sinned. ‘you must respond to the question. And I go out and find a soldier standing there.’ ‘I’m the King’s agent.” “Numbered the people? You mean the census?” “Nay. and wants to know how many Israelites are living in the cave. O king of Israel. Grievously so.’ he tells me. I’m sitting in my cave having breakfast. He’s ‘a census-taker. come to abuse me?” “Reprobate!” spat the prophet. ‘Go away and leave me be. as I call this abomination of yours! O how I raged when I first learned of it. the sin-sus. Sitting there in the mid- dle of the wilderness—when from outside there’s a ‘Hello? Anybody home?’ ‘What the devil?’ I mutter.      his guise.” “What have I done?” said David with a bewildered look.

and must share the bitter fruit of your misdeed. O David. And her king must select the disaster. “That night the Lord spoke to me. This counting. counting. For the faithlessness of her king.  him.  has bid me declare a punishment for your sin. Off with you!’ And brandishing my staff. “All of Israel is your House. jabbing a finger as if counting. And now you have rivaled Saul in disobedience. am I not bound to deal with them? Am I not responsible for the defense of Israel?” “ is our defense! And you have disdained His law— have disavowed Him!” Gad jabbed an accusing finger at David. These are practical matters. for a good reason—for a worthwhile goal—” “Spare us your thoughts.” protested David. are you no better than Saul. As king. Saul ignored the word of —an act of disobedience that led to his replacement as king. I chase him away. Select that fruit!”  . To decry your wickedness—this numbering of the people. Which shall it be? Three years of famine? Three months of invasion? Or three days of pestilence? Choose. from amongst these evils. And hear this. counting!” said Gad. your predecessor? In the matter of the Amalekites. May Your wrath fall instead upon me and my House. Israel shall be dealt a disaster.” Gad shook his head. ‘Know you not that it’s forbidden to enumerate Israel? That only the Lord may know the number of His servants? I’ll respond to your question all right—with this. “You have put your trust in ‘practical matters.” David hung his head and said in a weak voice: “I was aware that numbering was forbidden. And He told me to come here and denounce you. “O David.” With a moan David sank to his knees and bowed his head.’ rather than in . “punish not Israel for mischief that was mine. His voice thundered in a dream. “To our survival. But I thought. I need to conscript sol- diers and collect taxes.” he said. And His wrath is upon you.” “But knowing those numbers is critical to our defense. “O Lord.

Much woe can fit itself into a day. what say you? O look.” “Which is it to be?” said David. The same with invasion—you and your troops will retreat to strongholds. One must ‘think outside the box. that this quandary of yours resembles a riddle. from both a moral and a political perspective. Hence. A shrug of helplessness? I pay you to shrug? Joab. For they know that wealthy men like yourself have silos full of grain and will be unaffected by famine. “Shavsha. Father. But pestilence is something to which all are subject —rich and poor. my astute vizier. And often the solution to a riddle must be sought in some unexpected direction. my gen- eral.” he said.” “So I must call for pestilence upon the land?” “So it would seem. and lend me your under- standing. The only sound in the hall came from Gad. On the other hand.” “How so?” “If you select famine.’ So why not reply to the prophet: ‘None of those punishments would I  . “My unripe wits are at your service. Who will advise me here?” David looked about at his advisers. the people will resent you—and rightly so. No one is immune. Father. counsel me. And yet—it strikes me. choosing it would be politic as well as just.” Solomon came down from the dais and stood beside his kneeling father. king and commoner. the youth pondered. three months of invasion. who stood in stunned silence. “Don’t make the obvious blunder.      “How can I? I am confounded. or three days of pestilence? Which calamity am I to call for?” Furrowing his brow and clutching his chin. the scourge of the Ammonites hides behind his hand. Finally Solomon spoke. who was impatiently tapping his staff. ’Tis a grievous task to choose amongst evils. pestilence is your best choice.” “Come forth. “Three years of famine. while the people are exposed to the ravages of war. Father. “and choose pestilence for the briefness of its duration. Tell me what to do. beardless sage. Am I alone then in this terrible choice? But wait—Solomon! Where’s my son?” “Here.

He was like a fortuneteller in a carnival booth—but with genuine abilities. I plead for mercy. A nabi. No. For I am deeply remorseful for my sin. Josephus. But what sways Him—what bends His will— is not contrition. who both located lost donkeys with his clairvoyant powers.) A khozeh was an old-style. in his Antiquities. May the Lord look into my heart and see the con- trition that is there. dreams. receiving those who wished to consult him. Then he said: “The Lord is indeed merciful. the khozeh conducted a business. too.” said David. Come.” Gad glared at the kneeling figure before him. may its fragrance please the Lord and move Him to mercy. made pre- dictions (about mundane matters such as rain). For  Most High abounds in mercy. I beg ’s mercy. All right then! Here is what you must do. was a seer who received revelations from —a prophet. or seer. As the smoke rises. he entered an ecstatic state. By means of fasting and other techniques. Instead. Therein he experienced visions. nodding gravely. And His wrath can be averted. on the other hand. I shall lead you there.” David peered up at Gad and said: “O prophet.” “I’ll do so! Where shall I raise this altar?” “On a high place that I shall show you. what  craves is sacrifice. and gives us a sense of Gad’s personality. He located lost objects. and omens. Gad is a transitional figure. Build a special altar in His name and sanctify it with burnt offerings. does He not?” “So we are taught. combining the office of a khozeh ( ).  . with that of a nabi ( ).’” “Mercy. and anointed kings in ’s name.” “Is it far?” “A short walk. answered ques- tions. But only Ahimaaz provides a detailed account.  choose. communicated with ghosts. professional seer—a soothsayer who charged a fee for his services. or prophet of . (In this he resembles the prophet Samuel.”* * Both the Book of Samuel and the Book of Chronicles describe this encounter between David and Gad. I ask for forgiveness. “It’s worth a try. A master of trances. He would sit under a tree. relates the episode (though misidentifying the proph- et involved as Nathan). An entrepreneurial shaman.

And their listeners knew it for the word of .) Nor did they produce any written works. the nabi served as a mouthpiece of — an agent of the Divine Will.  . (Amos would be the first literary prophet. Thus. (Not until Elijah would a prophet do so. and was given messages to pro- claim to Israel.      heard voices. spoke with angels. The early nabiim did not go about preaching.) They simply recounted —in fiery phrases—what they had seen or heard while the spirit was upon them.

It was led by soldiers with a banner. “For generations it has been in my family. serving as a threshing-floor. and a group of priests. The crushed material was then tossed into the air.   An Altar Is Raised M  . you allowed me to retain possession. So I * Mount Moriah was the northernmost height of the narrow ridge upon which Jerusalem was situated. An ideal site for threshing was an open space on a windy hilltop—hence the threshing-floor on Mount Moriah. “We are about to have a visitor. he pointed toward the city below. The procession reached the hilltop and halted. † Threshing is an agricultural process whereby the kernels of a grain are separated from the chaff and straw. “This airy height belongs to you. Araunah the Jebusite.   . the prophet Gad. during David’s lifetime it was a wind- swept hill—a barren crest overlooking the original walled settle- ment. or by dragging sleds over it. and the wind blew away the chaff and straw. “Arise. Araunah and his sons knelt and bowed.  . As they joined him at the edge of the threshing-floor. The King himself. The procession was climbing the path that led to the top of Mount Moriah.” “It does.” A royal procession had emerged from the North Gate. Behind them came King David. Upon con- quering the city.”    called to his four sons.” said Araunah. Sire.* The sons of Araunah were apprehensive and suggested a rapid departure. I believe. In ancient times this was done by beating the dried grain with flails. young Solomon. Today it is the site of the Old City of Jerusalem.” he said. But Araunah shook his head and told them to lay down their threshing flails† and prepare to greet the king. King David came forward.

Rather.      continue to bring my grain to this high and windy place. “Nay. For our  has commanded us to raise an altar here and make offerings. they shall provide firewood for the altar. yet allowing those who wished to remain as residents? The threshing-floor is yours. too—dismantled. you shall have it as a gift. to sacrifice unto your .”  . O mighty King! Not for a chestful of gold shall this land be passed unto you. And may He be gracious unto us all. And take my oxen as well.” “Purchase it?” said Araunah in an indignant tone. that you shall not. And take my carts.” “I wish now to purchase your threshing-floor. For were you not gracious with us Jebusites —conquering our city.

It engulfed the wood—which burst into flames. The Sacred Rock. He did so.” David turned now to Gad. Father. as did those who preceded us here. the story goes. “May its offerings find favor with Him. it was King Solomon who acquired the threshing-floor.     “Your generosity is noble.” “It is indeed. and a rich man with many children. The threshing-floor was owned.”* * According to a rabbinic tradition. “and arrange them in a rectangular pile. For a sacrifice without cost is no sacrifice. It told him to go that night to the top of Mount Moriah and hide himself beside the threshing-floor. An ox was led forward. And may He show mercy unto Israel. “My people hold it in rever- ence. They dismantled a cart and stacked its wood on the altar. For it is a rock of power. The priests gasped and fell to their knees. There are twelve tribes. and the gratitude of Israel. One of the priests blessed the sword of sacrifice.” “At any particular place?” Gad gazed about the hilltop. He pointed and said: “Build the altar by that rock. “ shekels. His eye came to rest on a huge flat rock—an outcropping of limestone. by two broth- ers: a poor man with no children. Since ancient times that rock has been revered. “The Lord Himself has inaugurated this shrine!” said Gad. we call it.” The priests set to work.” said Araunah. how shall we proceed?” “Have the priests gather large stones. And they had soon raised an altar. Solomon had been debating where to build the Temple —when a heavenly voice spoke to him. But I insist upon paying. That’s a total of—” With a blank look he turned to Solo- mon. Another fumbled with a flint. gathering stones and piling them up.” said Gad.” “ shekels. “Prophet. You shall have  shekels from each of our tribes. At that moment a blue light came swirling out of the sky. and peeked out as the poor brother  .

” Seeing how the threshing-floor had called forth this manifes- tation of brotherly love. the poor brother crept to where the harvest had been divided into two portions.” Solomon remained hidden as the poor brother departed. Looking about to make sure no one was watching. and subsequently purchased it. And he transferred grain from his own pile to that of his brother.      arrived.” he said. After a while the rich brother arrived—and did the same thing. and needs it more than I do. he said: “My brother is impoverished.  . Solomon decided it was the ideal site for the Temple. “and needs more to feed them. Trans- ferring grain from his own pile to that of his brother. “My brother has a large family.

and other rituals that con- nect us with . For in the Tabernacle alone rests the Holy Ark—’s throne! And in the Taber- nacle alone does He reside. Bethel. we are blessed with a jewel of a capital.   View from the Roof D        . “Quite a view. which draws me here at night—to pray and to lift my voice in song. “Behold the Tabernacle —the tent that accompanied us in our wanderings. chants. “Look down there. The moon had risen over the huddled houses and narrow lanes of the town. you officiate there. Shadows were deepening in the surrounding hills. That tent is your domain. Come over here. Namely. As High Priest. and the rooftops below glimmered in a blue haze. as they followed him across the roof. But let me explain why I have summoned you. “For some time now. “something has troubled me. and elsewhere. is it not?” he said to Nathan and Zadok.” David had reached the parapet at the southern end of the roof. Mizpah. Zadok. You lead your priests in the sacrifices. Is such not the case. But it is the shrine. Dusk had settled upon Jerusalem. that I should be living in a fancy house—a palace of fragrant cedar and chiseled stone— while the Lord resides yet in a tent. Now the Tabernacle is not the only shrine in the land—there are altars at Gibeah. and in which the Holy Ark is kept. Isn’t it our duty to provide Him  . gentle- men?” Zadok and Nathan murmured their assent.” continued David. But we are a settled people now and a power among nations—yet our  resides still in a tent. “Truly. A goatskin tent! Is that a proper state of affairs? I ask you—is it not time He had a residence worthy of His might and dignity? When the Israelites were wanderers. And I have been blessed with this view.” he said. a tent made sense.

 . as I watched the smoke rise. Should we build a house for the Lord? Would it please Him? I want your views. “I realized that Mount Moriah was the ideal site. “I shall build Him a house. At ’s com- mand we have crowned it with an altar. Indeed. Is that proper? Nay. drifting up into the evening sky. “Behold the hill that looms over our city. gentlemen. he pointed to Mount Moriah. “Assuredly. “the Lord would be pleased with a house. Nay.” “My very sentiments. do all that is in thine heart. And behold the smoke. let Him be provided with a house—a temple of cedar and stone.” For a while neither man spoke. for ’s house! Is it not a high place—one of those mystic peaks where heaven and earth meet? Is it not graced with a rock of power? And is it not already sanctified with an altar? What better place for a temple! So my question to you— the reason I have brought you here this evening—is this. clapping his hands.” he said.” David led them to the opposite end of the roof. That His priests may honor Him amid due splendor. how say you? Advise me as a prophet. And last night. And is He not worthy of one? Other gods have houses. Then he said: “Go. follow me. the ques- tion has weighed upon my spirits. “And Nathan. a thought occurred to me. Can you guess what it was?” Both men shook their heads. For a month now that altar has been in operation.” Nathan was silent for a moment.” The three men stood gazing at the hilltop. Now then.” said David. for the Lord is with thee. Smoke from the altar was still visible. Yet ours— Most High!—is confined to a tent. Then Zadok nodded gravely. And standing at the parapet. rising from tonight’s offering.      with a suitable residence? To build Him a house? To raise a temple wherein His Glory may dwell? I have asked myself this. And it shall rise there upon Mount Moriah.” “And my heart is with the Lord!” said David. a revelation. when looking down upon that tent.

The Tabernacle was a tent—a portable pavilion. Those are the original coverings. “Glorious indeed!” said Zadok. silver. expressly designed for a wandering people. woven at Sinai.) And for the next  years. A fence of  . Its framework consisted of boards of acacia wood. was to serve as both a repository for the tablets and a dwelling place for .     “It will be glorious. overlaid with gold. When it was completed. who had said to Moses: “And let them make Me a sanctuary. that I may dwell among them.”* * Moses brought down from Mount Sinai the tablets of the Law —and a detailed plan for a sanctuary. Bezaleel. or Tabernacle. Moses consecrated it with a special oil. the Tabernacle—transported from location to location—would serve as the central shrine of the Israelites. That tent has served us well.” The people responded enthusiastically. This mishkan ( ).” said David. was put in charge of the project. And a sanctuary began to rise at the foot of the mountain. Draped over this framework were coverings of linen and of goat hair.” said Nathan in a subdued voice—as if not wholly convinced. “No doubt. a master crafts- man. (The formula had been among the details revealed to him on Sinai. I shall miss it. donating gold. “But you know—the Tab- ernacle has been with us since the time of Moses. and other materials that were needed.

and was filled with unearthly grandeur. as the Israelites trekked through the wil- derness. His footstool. a hill-town not far from Jerusalem. were transferred to the new sanctuary. Moses came often to the Holy of Holies.) Rabbinic tradition has it that the wings of the cherubim were ’s throne. but here was the awful residence of his presence—the special dwelling place of his visible glory. Nod—served as the home of the Tabernacle. In his Biblical Antiquities (). along with the Ark. (For more on the cherubim. the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark was a chest containing the tablets of the Law. while the tent itself—deemed a sacred relic—  . This mysterious light was the Shekinah ( ). It was said to be dimly lit by a glow. Shiloh (for nearly three centuries). A mobile temple! But once they had settled in Canaan. The whole Taber- nacle was the sanctuary of . a permanent site became possible.” While the Israelites wandered. All of this could be dismantled and loaded onto carts. This was an inner sanctum that only Moses and the High Priest could enter. It was surmounted by a pair of sculpted cherubim. It was divided into two sections. The outer section contained ritual fur- nishings: an altar on which frankincense was burnt. Like most sanctuaries in the ancient world. It could readily be disassembled and reassembled as they moved from oasis to oasis. to commune with  and receive instructions. On the other side of the curtain was the Holy of Holies. theologian John Nevin tells us that the Holy of Holies “was clothed with the solemnity of another world. see note in chapter . and a suc- cession of towns—Gilgal. For in the Holy of Holies was kept the Ark of the Cov- enant. When the Temple was built. a sacred tent was suited to their needs. a table for the daily offering of bread. the Tabernacle could be entered only by priests. Some believe it wound up in Gibeon. the Tabernacle was dismantled for good. next door to David’s palace. separated by a curtain.      curtains surrounded the tent. and a candelabrum with seven lamps (one for each planet. forming a courtyard in which rams were sacrificed on a bronze altar. Its furnishings. others (to whom Ahimaaz’s account lends support). according to Josephus). These lamps—the sole source of light in the windowless tent—burned day and night. emanating from between the wings of the cherubim. or Presence of . Its final location has been debated by scholars.

Thus did  travel from His original home—the lonely sum- mit of Mount Sinai—to Mount Moriah.     was preserved in a Temple storeroom. And the Shekinah glowed thereafter in a house of cedar and stone.  .

I must deliver His message. “I have had a vision. Finally the Lord has spoken. With a purposeful stride he made his way through the narrow lanes of the capital. concerning this deci- sion to build a temple. For a week now I have prayed for guidance.” “First eat your gruel. Porters trudged along. Even at this early hour they were bustling—crowded with soldiers. as the prophet Nathan—bleary-eyed and unkempt— climbed down the ladder.” he announced. he stepped out the door and headed towards the palace. beggars. “The matter cannot wait. hawkers. traders. bent beneath their  . slaves. priests. “and must go report it to the King.   “Whoa!” H        . And ignoring the protests of his wife.” Nathan donned his sandals. Nathan shook his head.” said his wife.

Women carried jugs on their heads. David glanced up and greeted him with a nod. what have I done? What misdeed have you come to lay at my doorstep? And what woe is to be my punishment?” “You have mistaken my utterance. I have described the plan to Ab-hiram. For it depicts what I was shown in my sleep last night. That was ‘Whoa!’— hold your horses—stop. For I too have had a vision. Farmers led don- keys laden with produce. That will—” “Whoa!” cried Nathan. “Woe?” said David. So spake the angel. concerning the—” “A vision?” said David. “O King. “I too have had a vision! Join us. who has rendered it in pen-and-ink. con- cerning the Temple. along with Shavsha and several other advisers. “I have had a vision. Nathan. That will be a dwelling place for His Presence. And such hands may not build the Temple. What a wonder it’s going to be! An elaborate structure. As Nathan approached. “” loads. for the house I shall build for Him. thus defiling your hands. Steadfast. To him must you bequeath this plan.” “Not me? Why not?” “Because you have been a warrior. “Woe. Nathan pressed forward until he reached the palace.”  . There he was ushered into the throne room. That same angel came to me last night and told me that indeed  desires a house. The angel Uriel appeared and showed me a blueprint—a plan for the Temple. But that you are not to build it. You have shed blood. and take a look at this drawing.” “Then who is to build it? Did he say?” “Your successor—a son of unsullied hands. completing a sketch. A house that will proclaim His Glory. Looking over his shoulder was King David.” said Nathan. with pil- lars and porticoes—but see for yourself. thou criest? O prophet. Here is ’s own design. David froze and stared at him. The court architect was seated at a table.

I have seventeen sons—any of whom could sit here in my stead. Untouched by the viciousness of war. he is a warrior—like his father. And he is popular with the people. by the excellence of his mind. For I have raised them to be royal! Yet frankly. each beloved of his father. And you. sat down on the throne.” David rose from the throne and paced about on the dais. “I have decided. the eldest of my sons. he is no warrior—a scholar. he is young—barely a year has passed since we caroused at his bar mitzvah. “Yet it is no secret. On the battlefield he has shown himself to be brave. One is Prince Absalom. And true. and pondered. he is clearly ’s choice—and  . My successor shall be Solomon. must not a wise man occupy its throne? “So I have debated between these two sons—each wor- thy in his way.” Shavsha bowed respectfully. he did not. the first in line. For he is sharp and discerning— wise even! And if the kingdom is to endure.” David shook his head in dismay. Yet these shortcomings are ‘countervailed. only two of them have I seriously considered. manly. My son with unsullied hands is to build the Temple. Finally. And I have been unable to choose. of Prince Solomon. I speak. And Absa- lom is not such a son. bookish and pious. and I have procrastinated. Surely. he addressed his advisers.” He turned to his advisers and spoke in a forceful tone. For the choice has been difficult. rather. of course. “Gentlemen.’ as Shavsha would say. I think I see what is happening here. The Lord is prompting me to make a decision. Shavsha—with your political savvy— have urged me to name him as my successor. Finally he murmured to himself: “It’s a no-brainer. He wants me to designate my successor. Absalom would make a fine king.      “Did the angel name that son?” “No. Moreover. His qualifications? For one thing. But I see that it’s time for a decision. and strong. True. he is the eldest.” continued David. You yourselves have long urged me to do so. “that I have deemed another of my sons to be highly qualified.

The selection of Solomon was also divinely sanctioned. and like a parent giv- ing up on a stubborn child. declared Gideon.  . And . “We will have a king over us. with prophets as His spokesmen.”* * Kingship was a new—and problematical—institution with the Israelites. But the elders became dissatisfied with this arrangement. But it must be stressed that  only tolerated a monarchy. should rule over Israel. Originally. And prophet after prophet would seek to remind the Israelites that their true king was . In times of crisis. presided over by an assembly of elders. He reluctantly assented. and fight our bat- tles. it was not supposed to be. the tallest man in Israel. regretting the choice. he refused it. Samuel consulted with . So Samuel warned them that they would regret such a move—that a king would tax. replaced him with a young shepherd named David.” ( Samuel :–) Samuel relayed these sentiments to . Only . But a shofet’s powers were limited. mine as well. When one of them. The warning fell on deaf ears. For  was seen as the divine king of the nation. who told him to dissuade the elders. While the institution would endure for centuries.”  instructed the prophet. “that we may be like all the nations. was offered a crown. conscript. the twelve tribes had been joined in a loose confederation. and asked the prophet Samuel to anoint one. and that our king may judge us. Send for the lad. or war chief (often translated as “judge”). Saul was duly anointed. “” therefore. and go out before us. the elders would elect a shofet ( ).” And He specified whom He wanted on the throne: Saul.” insisted the elders. and otherwise oppress his subjects. But he proved an unsatisfactory king —disobedient to ’s word. “Harken unto their voice. Gideon. “and make them a king. They desired an earthly king. I want him to hear the news from me.

Father. “A plan for the Temple?” “Yes. “Why the hesitation?” “I am surprised to find you alone. sir? Succeed you? But what of my brothers. For Nathan has made a startling pro-  .” “I have dismissed everyone—that you and I might meet in private.” Solomon looked at it. “Come in. “I. It was empty. But listen. An angel revealed it to me last night. all of whom are older than I? Am I not last in line for the honor—and the burdens— of a crown?” “What of it? I too was a youngest son. To become learned—in our own literary heritage. “and tell me what it represents.” “But I know nothing of practical affairs. “Things are usually bustling at this hour. I didn’t choose you for your worldly experience.” said David.” said David. and that of other lands too.” “A noble aspiration.” Solomon looked at him in astonishment. Come.” “You’ll pick it up—just surround yourself with able men. you shall succeed me on the throne. save for King David. handing him the archi- tect’s sketch. I have decided to name you as my successor.   Successor S         the throne room. This plan shall guide us in the construction of the Temple—an under- taking of supreme importance. Now.” said Solomon. “Take a look at this. Nor have I an aptitude for them. when the kingship was thrust upon me. seated upon the throne. another question for you. But you shall have to put it aside. Solomon entered the hall and joined his father on the dais. son.” With a puzzled look. Upon my demise. Father. approach the throne and let us talk. What are your plans for the future? Your career plans?” “To be a scholar. Just the opposite.

who is to build the Temple. .” “A monumental task. The Jewish Encyclopedia. Father. We’re talking about the future. until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.” Solomon held up his hands and looked puzzled.’ or works based on them.’ which had used both Kings and the older ‘Chronicles. for the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary. because it includes verses inserted by the editor of Kings (compare II Chron. Be strong and of good courage. The his- torical Ahimaaz could not have used Chronicles as a source—it was written five centuries after his death. my successor is to do so—my ‘son of unsul- lied hands. it seems. for the Lord .  nouncement. I have no * Readers familiar with the Bible will recognize the lines in this paragraph. and do it. ). will be with you. Either Chronicles used Kings and ‘The Book of the Kings. He will not fail you.”* “I will pray for His guidance.” has the following passage: “It is clear that Chronicles contains matter taken either direct- ly or indirectly from Kings.  and I Kings xv. “Mine are ink-stained. “Perhaps we’re talking about Shobab? He is fastidious about—” “The Lord has chosen you. Am I capable of it? Am I worthy?” “Take heed now. nor forsake you. Rather. ). You are to inherit the crown and build the Temple.” he said. Be strong.” Say what?  . Fear not.’ And you are clearly that son. I am not the one. nor be dismayed. relax. . even my . Did Ahimaaz lift them from that work? If so. in its entry for “Chronicles.’ both of which works used the older ‘Chronicles’…or Chronicles used ‘The Book of the Kings. he has given himself away as a pseudepigrapher. Or—was it the other way around? Was it the author of Chron- icles who did the lifting? Did he have before him an antique scroll—the Book of King Solomon—from which he copied these lines? Speculation of this sort can lead into a labyrinth of confusion.” “Look. For they are also found in the Book of Chronicles ( Chronicles :. xiv.

I shall continue to involve myself in the Temple pro- ject. Moreover. “And would like a few more years of leisure. And to begin with—how about an excursion? Let’s go over to Mount Moriah and inspect the future site of the Temple. and together they departed the hall. No problem there.” David laughed. a figure emerged from the shad-  . For my part. Granted.” Rising from the throne.      immediate plans to vacate this throne.” “May you live long. The guards saluted them as they passed through the lobby. and your son loves you. I am not to build it. Together you and I shall lay the groundwork for this historic endeavor. assembling the materials that will be needed. When they were gone.” “I would enjoy that. to pursue his studies. that son is yet unripe for the office. Father—because your people love you and need you. David threw an arm about his son. But nothing was said against aiding in the preparations—working out the details.

who were crossing the courtyard.” said the guard. he glared at them darkly. And clutching his sword.  ows of the lobby—a tall man with flowing locks of hair.  . He approached one of the guards. “That my father has chosen Solomon as successor?” “Aye. Absalom went to a window and peered outside—at his father and brother. “Is it true what is being whispered?” he asked. Prince Absalom.

“Awake. And slumped on his stool was a priest. They arrived at the summit and stood before the Sacred Rock.    Solomon ascended Mount Moriah. clapping his hands.   On the Mount A     . It was a breezy day. A stout man with a full gray beard. he was dozing. An eagle glided overhead.  . thou sluggard!” said David. Beside it were an altar and a pile of wood. with a skyful of fleecy clouds.

Moreover.” said Abi- athar.” “Then let me show you about. When we were fugitives in the wilderness. He was our link with the Lord. He and David embraced. Without him. This is Abiathar. we might not have persevered. “I allow it. Twice a day we pile on wood. “But a busy schedule has kept me from visiting until now. it was set like a crown on the mountaintop. and a source of strength and faith. meet Solomon. this is the seat upon which the Keeper of the Altar perches for much of the day. kin- dle a fire.” He led them over to the rock. “Too seldom nowadays do our paths cross. Or at least I shall be—when my acolytes get here with breakfast. They’re also bringing the sheep. “Some Jebusites still come to worship here. But has some purpose brought you hither this morn- ing?” “My son and I thought to take a tour of the mount.” “A pleasure. The hope.” said Abiathar. But I remind them that the mount belongs now to  Most High. They revere it as a rock  . priest of the Lord and former chaplain to my band of out- laws.” said David.” said David. my youngest son. “David!” “Abiathar!” The priest wobbled to his feet. “Solomon. enjoying the view and contemplating the glory of . And over there is the altar that he keeps. Abiathar. of course. He pointed to his stool. bearing our prayers in behalf of Israel. meet an old friend of mine. These Jebusites have shared with me their lore about the Sacred Rock. How goes it with you?” “I’m quite content. and sacrifice a sheep. take a look at it.    The priest awoke and blinked groggily. is that prayer from up here will be particularly effec- tive. “To begin with. Abiathar cast his lot with us. Glowing still are the embers from last night’s offering. The smoke drifts heaven- ward. the Sacred Rock is here. “I heard that you had been made Keeper of the Altar. A huge outcropping of limestone. Come. For this is a high place—one of those mystic locales where heaven and earth meet.” said the priest.

” “You stay up here at night?” said David. size. “and watch your step.      of power. sacrificed dogs on deco- rated boulders. the boulder was gradually moving down a hillside. to which the A-Kamba (whose ancestral spirit resided in the rock) came to pray for prosperity. Prayers and rituals were conducted at their base. at the base of Giant Rock.” Abiathar led them to the southeastern corner of the rock. let me show you my abode. gesturing at the surrounding hills.” And he disappeared through the opening. Forget about Shalem. There he pointed to a cleft in the stone. or location—were deemed sacred. or Ayer’s Rock.” he said. UFO enthusiasts gathered regularly in the Mojave Desert.* “And what a glorious view from up here!” said Abiathar. This mountaintop is alive with the Pres- ence of . Surely it is a gateway to the Other World. During the 1950s and 1960s. A god or spirit was believed to reside in these rocks. perhaps the most famous— and largest—of such rocks. They found themselves in a dim chamber—a natural * In ancient times. “Follow me. Come.  . (Due to the restlessness of its resident spirit [along with soil erosion]. The Dakota. Sacred rocks were (and still are) found throughout the world. endowing them with a supernatural power. The priest nodded. In America numerous tribes had sacred rocks. certain rocks—of an unusual shape. But a vital force—a mysterious energy—does seem to emanate from this rock. “I’ve chosen to reside full-time on the mount. while the Blackfoot venerated a Moving Boulder. and as the home of their god Shalem. In Australia is Uluru. Solomon followed after him. Instructing the guard to remain outside. Even modern America has had its “sacred” rock. Especially at night—when the stars and moon come out— have I felt that. for example. This huge boulder was believed to possess energies that attracted UFOs. There’s a cave in which I have been staying. There are some stairs going down. David entered the cave.) And in the Near East rocks were especially revered— a prime example being the Black Stone of Mecca. In East Africa is the Kabubooni. deemed to be alive. “A reminder of the won- der of Creation.

 . But you know. into which visitors may peer.” said Abiathar. According to the Jebusites.  divided the waters into upper and lower. The upper were relegated to the heavens. “Sire?” “Go to the altar and fashion us a torch. “Then  relented and ended the Deluge. until the time of Noah. “And so they remained.” said David. and an oil lamp. So to keep them at bay. the lower. According to Islamic tradition. Waters rained from the heavens. to the earth’s interior. But the lower waters kept rising and flooding the earth. It’s referred to in the annals.”* * The rock on Mount Moriah is enshrined today in the Dome of the Rock.” David knelt and peered into the hole.  plugged them up—with a jewel from His throne. And to this day the jewel restrains them.” said Abiathar. And the cavern contains an opening into Tehom. The place of the subterranean waters. “It’s a nuisance. “Abiathar. it leads into a vast cavern. a table. It was empty save for a mattress. “We’re going to explore a tunnel.” “Tehom?” “The Deep.” “Tell us about the Deep. Beneath it is a cave. David was moving about tentative- ly. “In the beginning. that. there’s some interesting lore associ- ated with that hole. when he stopped short and pointed to the floor. where it rises out of the floor. Or so it is writ.    cavity within the rock.” “Guard!” The palace guard stuck his head into the cave. That’s when  grew wroth and unleashed the Deluge. I almost fell in!” “Oh. and He plugged them up again. The waters seeped back into the Deep. And they engulfed the cities of man. I just hop over it.” said the priest. and waters rose from the Deep— for  had removed that jewel. there’s a hole over here—a pit. “This leads to that cavern?” “Supposedly.” “Certainly. “There does seem to be a tunnel down there.

David. It is said to seal up the Well of the Souls—an abyss wherein the souls of the dead await judgment. Set in the floor of the cave is a marble slab. Solomon. and from which may be heard their sighs.  .      Muhammad prayed in this cave with the spirits of Abraham. and other prophets.

They stood marveling at the sight. Cathedrals underground.       through the tunnel. The tunnel—a natural channel in the lime- stone—descended at a sharp angle. “These acous- tics are great. Finally they emerged into a cavern—a subterranean chamber dimly revealed by the torchlight. Warily. Suddenly he stopped and pointed. something was glinting with a greenish light.” said David.” The guard led the way further in. And they found themselves looking down at a huge emerald.” said David. “A cavern within the mount!” “I wish I had my lyre with me. from which hung thousands of sta- lactites. his voice echo- ing. Solomon. In sin- gle file they advanced along it. King David. Thy wondrous handiwork In every realm is found: Leviathans that ride the waves. set in the cavern floor. The cavern was a prodigy of nature—a masterwork of stone sculpted by the ages.   Ineffable Name T   . treading cautiously on the rough stone. Shadows shifted as he advanced with the torch.” said Abiathar. It was as if the torchlight had awakened it from a slumber. “The Jebusites spoke true. The emerald flashed and sparkled.” And he sang out: “O Lord. “A jewel with which He plugged up the waters of the Deep. and Abiathar followed after him. Craggy walls rose to a high ceiling. Just ahead. then leveled off. Could this be that jewel?”  . they approached it. “You spoke of a jewel from ’s throne.

“Here is a conduit into the lower waters.” His companions bent to listen. Or perhaps the imp of the perverse—the compulsion to do precisely what should not be done—was at work here. Located above it. ). “I’d like to lift this jewel. Abiathar looked at David in horror.” said Abiathar. It popped loose.” said Abiathar.” But ignoring the warning. peering into the shaft. “I feel a spray. Murmuring softly.” he said. “Down there are the waters of the Deep. Now they are con- tained by His mercy—by a jewel from His throne.* “Imagine!” said David. unable to resist the urge. For ’s house will serve as a capstone. despite the obvious dan- ger? It could have been simple curiosity. David knelt to inspect the emerald. Beneath it is a sign reading “Don’t Pull—World Will End. And a strange look came into his eye. A wind rising from the shaft ruffled their hair. in which Ko-Ko the Klown is confronted with a lever.” said Abiathar. and he lifted it. revealing the mouth of a shaft. “It’s getting louder. to keep those waters in place. The lower waters that surge in utter darkness. he pulls the lever!  . I am reminded of the cartoon “Ko-Ko’s Earth Control” (Inkwell Studios. “What have you done? Didn’t I warn you to leave the jewel alone? You’ve * Why would David remove the plug. he ran his hands over it. David tugged on the emerald.” Ko-Ko begins to dance about in an agitated fashion—until finally. Waters of chaos and destruction.” “I wouldn’t do that. “Sounds like rushing water.” said Solomon.” said the guard.      “Apparently so. the Temple will be aptly situated. Waters that—” Suddenly he frowned and put his ear to the shaft.  unleashed them once—in wrath!— upon a mankind that had rejected Him. “Hallo? What’s that? I hear a rushing sound. “and peer into the Deep. “The plug shouldn’t be disturbed.

the waters might return to the Deep.”  .” said the guard. “The Ineffable Name of . “What are we to do?” said David.” “Calm yourselves.   unplugged the waters of the Deep—they’re rising again! The entire country will be flooded!” “Jerusalem. “At the very least. The Name is extremely powerful. this cavern. But the wind—rising now with force—kept popping it loose.” said Abiathar.” said David. “Perhaps we should be exiting. Confronted with it. “I’ll put the jewel back in place. The rushing sound had become a roar.” He tried to reinsert the emerald in the mouth of the shaft.” said Solomon. at least. “The waters of the Deep are rising—waters of chaos and destruction! How can they be stopped?” “One thing alone might stop them.

”* “But this is an emergency. “And swiftly—the waters are rising!” “I have no pen or paper. bobbing like a ball. covering it with his body.” “And would the written form be as effective?” asked Sol- omon. And Solomon began to engrave the letters into the rock.  . The strictures concerning the shem ha-meforesh—the Ineffable Name —are believed not to have arisen until the days of the Second Temple. on the Day of Atone- ment. “I can’t do that. With a cry David flung himself onto the opening.” said Abiathar.      “Then pronounce it!” Abiathar shook his head. picking up a rock. And even he may utter it but once a year. “Hurry!” said David. “How do you spell the Name?” asked Solomon. “Yod. Just then a plume of spray erupted from the shaft. Atop it was David. “The Name!” he shouted. The guard handed it to him. “Guard.” said Solomon.” said the priest.” “Would it be permissible. We’re on the verge of a flood!” “I’m sorry. And he was hurled into the air—as the waters of the Deep burst from the earth! With a roar they shot up in a geyser—a waterspout that rose high into the cavern. The Ineffable Name may not be spoken—except by the High Priest. hay. David let out a moan of despair. “to write the Ineffable Name?” Abiathar shrugged. hay. It’s forbidden. “I suppose so.” “Then write it!” said David. “Quite possibly. let me have your dagger. “Toss me the Name!” Solomon was still engraving. as water poured down on * Ahimaaz would seem guilty of an anachronism here.” asked Solomon. vov.

bobbing on the water- spout.   his head.” Solomon peered up at David. “It’s part of our training. “Throw the Name to your father. He leapt to his feet. Benaiah. Like an exorcist with an amulet. flung the rock into the shaft. that the lower waters be confined to the Deep. And you. Even today they are found only in elementary texts and diction- aries. guard. David caught it. for Thy merciful benevolence. “I haven’t added the vowel signs. “I don’t know that I can—” The guard plucked the rock from his hand. and declared: “May the Name restrain thee.” he said.” “Your name?” “Benaiah. Let us return to the light of day. “But this would have taken the prize. our salvation comes from . “I am practiced at toss- ing. You shall be made Captain of the Guard! But come—let’s get out of here and never return. Unplugging the waters of the Deep! Causing another flood! But the Ineffable Name saved us from disaster. For a moment no one spoke.” he said. and looked doubtful. for that accurate toss—you wouldn’t have had a sec- ond try. he waved the inscribed rock at the geyser beneath him. Then David turned to his companions. for your quick thinking. and give thanks to  for the * Another anachronism.” said Abiathar.” “Remind me to promote you. And you. Solomon. “It’s not complete.” The guard shrugged modestly. As always. It disappeared into the shaft—depositing David on the ground. took aim. written Hebrew had no vowels—the reader supplied them mentally. Until the early Middle Ages. and tossed.  . Thank you. “I have committed ill deeds in my time. The water lost its force and subsided. Lord. This jewel must remain undis- turbed.” he said. O waters of destruc- tion!” And he slammed the emerald back into place. Sire.”* “You don’t need them.

Milcom. Semi-nomads who occupied the economic fringes of civilization—subsisting as herdsmen. An exception were those tribes known as the habiru or “wan- derers”—the Hebrews. The god announced his plan to liberate the Hebrews (“my people the chil- dren of Israel”). El protected the Hebrews and allowed them to prosper. (Perhaps the creator of heaven and earth had been too lofty to reside in a particular place—a hilltop or sacred grove—and thus been ideally suited for nomads.) El had first revealed himself to Abraham. Far more important to a tribe or city was its patron deity—some lesser god who inhabited its shrine and took a personal interest in its affairs.” Thus. responsible for the cosmos but irrelevant to their fortunes. What did it signify? Biblical scholars have long debated the matter. the voice was that of El. a chieftain who had roamed with his kinsmen and flocks. and erecting an altar to “El. the Hebrews were bound to El—a patron deity who happened to have created the cosmos—in the standard fashion of the ancient world. The name would seem to be a form of the Hebrew verb  . at the head of which was El (“the Powerful One”). The chieftain Jacob is described (in Genesis ) as purchasing a parcel of land near Shechem. The relationship continued as—weary of wandering— they began to settle in the hills of Canaan. father of the gods and cre- ator of heaven and earth. when a voice spoke to him.”* * What was the Ineffable Name and whence did it come? The Western Semites had a pantheon of gods. El remained a distant and unimportant figure. Issuing from a fiery bush. pitching his tent there. spelled out Moses’ role in the plan. It happened in the foothills of Mount Horeb. the god of Israel.      power of His holy Name. That name was Yahweh ( ). But there came a moment when that rela- tionship deepened. To such gods—Baal. But El played a minor role in the reli- gious life of most Semites. Marduk. and mercenaries—the Hebrews had taken on El as their patron deity. On a quiet after- noon Moses was tending his flock. (What was it about the footloose Hebrews that suited El’s purpose? Had he sought out a people accustomed to wandering —in anticipation of a fate he had in store for them?) In return for their sacrifices. and revealed his personal name. caravaneers. and the rest—did the Semites sacrifice and pray.

El yahweh rukhot (“El creator of winds”). it derives from liturgi- cal epithets of El: El yahweh shalom (“El creator of peace”). But the importance of the name lies less in its meaning. Thus did ’s name become the Ineffable Name—and its let- ters seem to pulsate with power. Its pro- nunciation was passed down from priest to priest.   “to be.  . Eventually the name became a kind of sacred artifact— enshrined in Scripture. And some have simply bowed before the mystery of the name. With the destruction of the Temple and dissolution of the priesthood. they needed to know his personal name. the exact pronunciation became forgotten—but not the taboo.” meaning “I am”—or “I am with you”—or “I create. and a taboo was attached to it. in return for his special attention. In the days of the Second Temple. than in the fact that El chose to reveal it. The name could be written. one used adonai (“lord”) as a substitute. etc. They were to be his servants—the instrument of his will—his designated people. The Hebrews were to be intimately associated with their god—and for that. Instead. but not uttered aloud.” According to Professor Cross of Harvard. In doing so. They would dedicate themselves to him. only the high priest could utter the divine name (and then only on the Day of Atonement). Others have deemed it the name of a local god: the genius loci of Mount Horeb. he was initiat- ing a new relationship with the Hebrew tribes.

” said Gorash ruefully. Or it could be simple vanity. “The prince has been currying favor with the populace— zealously so. “And what might such urgency portend?” “Who knows? But I’ll tell you what’s struck me lately. Each day he’s at the North Gate. “For a week now. “Something’s afoot at the palace. In high style he travels about nowadays. Yet mark my words—something’s afoot. they’d find satisfaction.” said Borak. “Let us savor. the barmaid wended her way among the tables.  on goblets of ale. his father’s son! And there’s more. telling them that their case is just—and that were he the judge. And he grasps their hand and embraces them. in a chariot flanked by horsemen and preceded by runners—his distinctive hair streaming in the wind. these  . Bearing a trayful of drinks. then.” “No doubt.” “Indeed?” said Gorash.” said Borak.   Absalom B       ’.” “Meaning more work for us messengers. He consoles those who have lost their plea or been turned away unheard. “to whom the footwork will fall.” Borak leaned closer to his companion and lowered his voice. Truly. I’ve been back and forth between there and Hebron— with sealed messages. ’Tis Prince Absalom who sends and receives these messages.” “Might he still harbor hopes of inheriting the crown. The tavern was crowded and noisy. It’s almost as if he were campaign- ing for office. in lieu of Solomon?” “Perhaps.” “The King fears perhaps a Moabite incursion?” “The King’s not involved. gaining their favor with that well-known charm of his. chatting with petitioners who are in town to see the King.

Yet how it holds me helpless in its thrall. fair to look upon. and a solitary torch cast a pale light upon him. A: ’Tis but a chair. The most maturèd fruit of David’s loins? Am I not. mocking laugh— Informs me that its song was not for me But for my brother. like the song The siren sings upon her sea-girt rock— Enslaves my soul and bends me to its will. first in line (At least. Valiant in war.” They drained their goblets and called for more ale. O what a yearning have I for this chair! On its cushion would I prop myself With pomp and gravity. Tamara)? Am I not fils primogenitus. since Amnon died. and be a king. youthful Solomon. But no. yet how it beckons me— Draws me here each evening. a marble seat That some rude artisan did chisel forth. O perfidy! O blatant.  moments of leisure. It was nighttime. for his crime Of lust upon our sister. In its cold embrace I’d sit and wield The fearsome scepter of a sovereign. grievous wrong! Is not the throne of David mine by right? Am I not the eldest. his very mirror: Like my father. what’s more. having led me on. He gestured at the throne and began to speak. ’Tis but a thing of stone. this strumpet. • Absalom stood in the deserted hall and gazed at the throne. Rejects me with a cruel. lionlike in strength (And with a lion’s mane—these gorgeous locks  . my older sib Whom I dispatched to Sheol.

succession has its rules. Whilst Absalom. my locks. “All is ready. What you must do is this: Tomorrow.      That for perfection wanteth but a crown)? By rights this chair is mine. A king that’s peaceable? Absurdity! A monarch must be martial. He looked about the hall warily. A temple where our deity may dwell. my father says. Regard my form. crown and kingdom all! And why? Wherefore does he merit to be king? Because he’s peaceable. Then must I take it—and take it now. just days from now. by force While circumstances augur for a coup. prepare to travel to Hebron. A beardless boy—a child—a youngest son Gets throne and scepter. In Hebron rally your supporters—the elders of  . who doth approach? Ahitophel? “The same. which would squander gold That might be better spent on chariots And swords and armor for our gallant knights. “Many in the north are poised to join us. in fulfillment of a vow. Now here’s a monarch. Yet bookish Solomon is to inherit it. For if what’s due me David will not give. then came over and shook hands. grand from tip to toe. the rightful heir—compare. And monarch shall I be. my royal mien. “What news.” said Ahitophel in a low voice. I say! He steals it from me. Tell your father that you go there as a pilgrim—that you wish to sacrifice at its altar. that’s his job! But most of all. my friend?” said Absalom. And therefore fit to raise a house for . But soft. Nor does the softling even look the part. as if were carved Into its stone the name of Absalom. He’ll suspect nothing and let you go. What claim my brother on this royal chair? None.” The counselor had entered by a side door. O wasteful temple.

Judah and their fighting men. Assemble an army and march
on Jerusalem. Its inhabitants have grown weary of David,
and fond of you; and I foresee little resistance. Within a
week you’ll be king. You shall sit upon this throne; and I
shall stand beside you, as your loyal adviser.”
“I shall need you there, Ahitophel. And I have no doubts
as to your loyalty. But tell me: what has estranged you from
my father, whom you have served these many years?”
“And whom I’d gladly continue to serve. But your father
ignores me nowadays. I offer sage advice; and he nods and
murmurs—then turns his ear to others. The man listens
not to me, but to a pack of fools. So I decided: why waste
my breath? But you, good prince, are more astute. You’ve
recognized my talents and chosen to employ them—to
both your own advantage and that of the kingdom.”
“Your defection is his loss and Israel’s gain. All right, let’s
do it! I’ll go pack my armor and weapons. I shall hide them
among the offerings that, as ‘pilgrim,’ I take to Hebron. But
they shall soon emerge, along with my martial manners.”
Absalom gripped the handle of his sword.

A: And I shall lead an army to Jerusalem;
Ride through its gate to cheers and trumpeting;
And mount this throne, as is my rightful due.

A: Excellent. To business then. Adieu.

By different doors they exited the hall.

In a courtyard of the palace David was playing his lyre.
Beside him sat Bathsheba, listening to the music and sip-
ping on a lemonade. A cat dozed at their feet, luxuriating
in the sun.
Suddenly Joab burst into the courtyard and approached
the royal pair.


    
J: Ill news, Your Majesty, of such import
That I beg leave to rudely interrupt
The dreamy pleasures of your afternoon.

D: Speak on, good Joab. What unwelcome news
Beclouds thy countenance this sunny day?

J: Rebellion, Sire! O the word’s so foul
My lips rebuke me for pronouncing it.
Yet those the syllables that I must spit
To voice the tidings that from Hebron come.
For Judah’s men do gather in their tents—
Don their armor, trot their horses out,
Sharpen swords and shine their battle shields
As they prepare to march, in teeming ranks,
Upon Jerusalem within a day or two.
The horn of war they blow, in rousing blasts,
While shouting slogans and practicing their thrusts,
And cheer their chosen leader as he rides
From tent to tent, exhorting them to war.

David had thrust aside his lyre and risen, his face flushed
with anger.

D: Leader, you say? They have a champion
Who dares to raise himself against my rule?
Who would unseat a duly anointed king?
Who this villain? Give me his family name
That I may lay a curse upon his head
And on the blackguard that did sire him.
O I shall shorten this champion’s career!
Face to face I’ll meet him in the field,
Clash swords with him in clamorific fray,
Dispatch him with one swift and deadly thrust,
And post his head upon the city wall
As warning to the rebels in my realm
That thus for treason shall your wages be.
So tell me, Joab, who doth challenge me?
Who’s the leader of this rebel force?

J: Such a one as would usurp a throne
He’s most familiar with. Who’s bowed before it
Since he was a child. Whose handsome head
Has graced this palace and its environs.
Whose mother in your harem may be found:
Maacah the Geshurite, a very wife of thine.
The rebel is none other than thy son,
Thy eldest offspring, noble Absalom.

David flinched, stared at Joab, turned pale. “How’s this?”
he said. “My son, you say? Fair Absalom?”
“The same, Your Majesty.”
“He whom I taught the manly arts—coached in life—
molded into a prince? The son whom I have loved? My son
named Absalom would topple me? Say ’tis not so.”
“Yet ’tis.”
“Then pity David and rue this ill-starred day. And yet—
no time to rue. For we must act to forestall his purpose.
What shall we do, Joab? Give me your counsel.”
“We must buy time in which to assemble our forces.
Moreover, to remain in Jerusalem would be folly: the city is
rife with his supporters. One knows not whom to trust—
only the Palace Guard is of certain loyalty. Therefore, my
counsel is as follows. With the  soldiers of the Palace
Guard, we flee beyond the river to the land of Gilead. There
we summon friends, from every tribe and ally. We amass an
army, with which to trounce these renegades!”
“This revolt is as much against our son Solomon as against
you,” said Bathsheba. “For you declared him your succes-
sor; and Absalom would countermand that choice. O what
a paradox can children be—our chief joy, our greatest grief.
So Absalom has brought thee both high and low.”
David nodded somberly. “He’s brought me gladness, now
he brings me woe.”
“I’ll send word to Gilead that we are coming,” said Joab.
“And now let’s hasten, our sad leave to take—from out this
town, that to ill news shall wake. And to an empty throne.”
“May  forgive my sins,” said David, “and bring no


    
further punishments upon me. For this one’s enough: to
have a treacherous son.”

A lengthy procession was flowing out the North Gate,
crossing the Brook of Kidron, and ascending the Mount
of Olives. It was David and his court, fleeing Jerusalem at
Leading the exodus were the soldiers of the Palace Guard
—some on horseback, the rest marching in loose formation.
At their head was Benaiah, Captain of the Guard. The sol-
diers were followed by scores of donkeys, laden with provi-
sions. Then came members of the court and their families.
Finally came David and his household—wives, sons and
daughters, servants. Among the servants was a singer, who
chanted mournfully. His dirge mingled with the shouting
of soldiers, the braying of donkeys, the weeping of women.
David was walking barefoot and carrying a staff. He wore
a hooded cloak, pulled up over his crown. As he neared the
summit of the Mount of Olives, he stopped and looked
back at the city below.
“Farewell, Jerusalem,” he said. “ will decide if I’m to
return or not. If deemed unworthy and condemned to exile,
I shall remember you as seen this moment: your rooftops,
walls, and battlements golden in the dusk.”
Joab came riding up. “The latest report from Hebron,”
he said. “Their army is assembled and will march at dawn.
And this news too: Ahitophel, your trusted adviser—”
“Aye, where’s Ahitophel? I haven’t seen him yet. His
counsel would be useful in this crisis.”
“You shall not have his counsel. Ahitophel has gone over
to the rebels. He stands at Absalom’s side, advising now the
son and not the father.”
“O treachery!” cried David, pounding the ground with
his staff. “Is there no end to it? Betrayed by Ahitophel. And
yet—good riddance! Let his wisdom go to Absalom. And
may it turn to foolishness and ruin these rebels. But look
what comes. The Holy Ark!”

Coming up the road were a group of priests. Led by
Zadok and Abiathar, they were carrying the Ark. As they
approached, David signaled them to halt.
“Nay, good priests,” he said. “I would welcome its aid;
but the Ark must remain in Jerusalem. It must abide in its
holy tent. And Zadok and Abiathar, you too must remain.
For I need you here, to serve as my ears. Once Absalom and
his forces have occupied the city, do this: Mingle with them.
Find out their intentions and the extent of their support,
then communicate that intelligence to me. I shall tarry on
the edge of the wilderness till I hear from you. Now turn
about and go back. But who comes now? What somber fig-
ure this? How now, ’tis Hushai, the most elderly and trusted
of my advisers.”
Hushai came trudging up the road. Like a mourner, he
had rent his clothes and scattered ashes on his head.
“O worthy David,” he said, breathless from the climb.
“These ancient bones shall join you in exile.”
“No, loyal Hushai. You too must stay behind. Joining us,
you’d be a burden. But remaining in Jerusalem, you could
be of great help to me. Return and do this: When Absalom
arrives, pose as his friend. Explain that you wish to serve
him as you served his father—that your loyalty was to the
throne, not to David. Appear to join his party. Then ferret
out his secret plans and impart that information to Zadok
and Abiathar, who shall convey it to me. And there’s some-
thing else you can you do. Ahitophel is a shrewd man, and
will be offering sound advice to my son. Neutralize that
advice—with misleading counsel of your own. Go now,
Hushai, and  be with you.”
Hushai nodded his assent and headed back toward the
city. The priests followed after him with the Ark.
David sighed deeply, bowed his head, and said:

“O Lord, how legion are my foe.
In multitudes they rise
And seek to rob me of my crown
And do my name despise.


    
“They march upon me, like a host
Of hunters that would slay,
With hounds and spears, what they have deemed
A frightened, helpless prey.

“But Thou, O Lord, sustainest me,
My refuge art Thou still.
And as the hounds come bounding forth,
Thy grace protect me shall.

“And though ten thousand seek my life,
I shall not be afraid.
Serenity of soul has he
Who to the Lord has prayed.”*

And taking a last look at his capital, golden in the dusk,
David rejoined the procession of refugees.

At the head of the army rode Absalom. He wore a
plumed helmet, from which tumbled his luxurious locks.
With him were Ahitophel, his generals, and the elders of
Judah. All bounced in their saddles as they approached Jeru-
Banners flapping and weapons glinting, the army swarmed
up to the city and halted opposite the North Gate. And
three thousand men—foot soldiers, horsemen, charioteers
—awaited word to attack.
“No sentries on the walls,” said one general. “The report
would seem true that David has fled.”
“I hope he has,” said another, “for his sake.”
Suddenly the gates swung open. And supporters of Absa-
lom—cheering, chanting his name, waving kerchiefs—
* It is interesting to compare this speech of David’s with Psalm ,
superscribed “A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his
son.” Ahimaaz clearly wrote with the psalm in front of him; for
he has lifted several of its key images.

poured from the city. With a broad smile Absalom acknowl-
edged their welcome. And gesturing to his generals, he
spurred his horse forward.
With his entourage Prince Absalom entered Jerusalem and
rode towards the palace. The street was lined with onlook-
ers. Many cheered him; others watched in sullen silence.
At the palace Absalom dismounted, waved to the crowd,
and passed inside. Followed by Ahitophel, the generals, and
the elders, he swaggered into the throne room. It was desert-
Mounting the dais, Absalom removed his sword and hel-
met and gave his hair a proud toss. Then he eased himself
onto the throne and settled into it.

A: Look, gentlemen, it fits me to a T.
Can there be any doubt that I’m the one


    
Meant to succeed doddering David
Upon this royal seat? Or any question
The people applaud my readiness to rule?
I prop myself hereon, the eldest son
Of David, his true heir, now Israel’s king.
And to you all I pledge my fealty
As you pledged yours to me this solemn day.
No longer David, but the House of David now—
A dynasty whose glory I shall serve.
Nor fear that in the tumult of the times
Our crafty vassals slip from off their leash
Or Edomites encroach our borderlands.
I shall rule firm, and like a lion be:
Sedate when not provoked, of regal mien,
Graceful as I prowl my vast domain
Yet ready, should my anger be aroused,
To pounce with sudden fierceness on a foe!
Thus do I seat me in this marble den.
But say, who’s this, yon graybeard shuffling in?
Why, is it not my father’s counselor,
The sage and trusted Hushai? Aye, ’tis he.
Come forward, sir, and bow before your king.

Hushai approached the throne and bowed. “ save
the king,” he said.
“What kind of friend are you to my father?” said Absa-
lom. “Why have you not gone with him? Where’s your loy-
alty to the man?”
“He shall I serve whom the Lord has chosen to be king,”
said Hushai. “As I served the father, should I not serve the
“The Lord has chosen me, you say? Indeed, the Lord?”
“No man may occupy the throne without His approval.”
“Well said, good Hushai. I accept your service. An adviser
of your experience and discernment would be invaluable to
me. Welcome to our party.”*
* Absalom has failed to detect the sly ambiguity of Hushi’s

Hushai acknowledged the accolade with a bow.
“And now, gentlemen, to business,” said Absalom. “A
council of war! We must decide upon our strategy. My
father has fled, yet remains a threat. What are we to do?
How should we proceed? Thus far this coup has been
easy—but now what? Advise me, Ahitophel. What is your
“We must move swiftly,” said Ahitophel. “David must be
pursued and attacked without delay. We must crush him
while he’s still reeling—before he can gather support and
mount a counterthrust. The moment is now! To hesitate is
to invite disaster. My proposal is this: Let me take our forces
and pursue him this very night. David is demoralized and
weary, and will be easy to overtake. Upon our approach, his
men will tremble and desert him. And you shall have pre-
vailed, without a fight.”
“And the fate of my father?”
“Alas, you must be merciless—as he would be, were he to
vanquish you. While David lives, your throne and life are
not secure. He cannot be left alive.”
Absalom grimaced. “I would not have him die. Yet this
clash is his fault, not mine. ’Twas brought on by his folly!
In any case, he is old and at the end of his days. And per-
haps something less drastic can be worked out. Ahitophel,
your plan would seem to me a good one. Generals and
elders—what do you think?”
They murmured a tentative assent.
“And Hushai, how say you? You are a man of insight. Do
you concur with Ahitophel? Or have you a better plan?”
Hushai tugged thoughtfully on his beard. “Ahitophel is
a wise man,” he said, “and usually correct in his thinking.
But in this instance his counsel is not good. To go after
David now would be a mistake—a risky thing to do. I
would argue instead for caution. Look here, David and his
men are seasoned warriors. They will resist you fiercely, like
a bear guarding her cubs. Moreover, they are expert at guer-
rilla warfare—remember their struggle with Saul? They will
flee into the wilderness and be difficult to find. Already


    
they are probably hiding themselves, in some cave or ravine.
Like jackals they will emerge at night, attack our fringes,
and scamper off. With their first victories your support will
begin to melt away. For Israel will be reminded that David
is a valiant man, a toppler of giants. Go after him now and
he will elude you—harass you—wear you down.”
“So what do I do?”
“You wait. Send out a call to your supporters, from Dan
to Beersheba; and assemble a huge and unbeatable army.
Then go after him with those forces—which you personally
shall lead. With such numbers you’ll easily track him down
in his hideaway. Or, should he hold up in a fortified town,
you’ll have the manpower for a siege. And all of this shall
prove to the people your ability as a leader.”
“A huge and unbeatable army,” said Absalom. “Gathered
from throughout Israel, with me at its head. You know, I
believe you’re right. A quick thrust is likely to fail and get
us bogged down. Instead, we wait till we are invincible,
then strike. Generals and elders, how say you? Has Hushai
spoken wisely?”
They nodded and murmured their assent.
“Excellent! Then it’s decided—we wait. Send out a call
to every tribe, for armed men and provisions. But until
they arrive, gentlemen, let’s make ourselves at home. Food
and wine shall be forthcoming. You may entertain or rest
yourselves. As for me—” Absalom snapped his fingers.
“Where are my Nubians? Those dusky maidens who groom
my hair? I shall summon them and have them comb these
tresses of mine. Anoint these lovely locks with myrrh and
cinnamon. Mold this mane into flowing waves. And pow-
der it with gold dust—that it may glitter like the night
Leaning back in the throne, he ran his hands through his
A: For till the crown I pluck from David’s head,
This regal mane shall serve me in its stead.

The generals and elders chuckled at his vanity. Everyone

They are vigilant and allow no one to pass. save his own men. “Everything has been arranged.” said Zadok. “Who’s there?” asked a servant. in a house near the spring of En-rogel. • A cloaked figure crept up to the rear entrance of the house. He turned towards  .” said Zadok. The door opened a crack. David is doomed. Absalom has sealed off the city—no one comes or goes. “I have faith in your sons’ ability to do so. They await our tidings. glanced about warily. The scoundrel wanted to pursue David tonight—a sound course of action. Ahit- ophel hasn’t given up.” “We are aware of that.” “Calm yourself. are stationed just outside the city wall. “and—for the moment. and knocked. Ahimaaz and Jonathan.” Hushai frowned. Ahitophel has an able tongue and may persuade the generals. impossible—to get word to them. at least—to frustrate Ahitophel’s plan.  seemed pleased—except Ahitophel. and is trying to get the generals to change their minds and march now. “I was able to gain the prince’s confidence. But it will be difficult—nay.” The elderly adviser was ushered inside. The priests begged him for news. He must therefore flee the plain—with- out delay!—and cross the river into Gilead. There he was embraced by Zadok and Abiathar. Our sons. But I persuaded Absalom to wait until a larger army could be assembled. which they shall bear to David on horses swift as lightning. Soldiers are posted at the gates and along the walls.” said Hushai.” said Zadok. “Hushai. There he can take refuge with our allies.” “He shall be. Should they do so. So we must get word to David. who was staring grimly at the prince. David must be apprised of this. “But there’s something David must do immediately.

veil. Bearded Borak. spear in hand.” “That I can.” “I leave at once. Borak had changed clothes. “Convey this to Ahimaaz and Jonathan. • Borak peered out from behind a shed. Borak assures us he can slip past the soldiers and deliver a message to our sons. On his head he carried a water jar.” said Borak in a falsetto voice. As I explained to the barmaid who lent me these clothes.” said Zadok. Now have I become such a maid. Borak. a daughter of the town!” He was referring to his mode of dress. Since setting out for En-rogel. “There’s the Water Gate. here goes. But only by a single soldier. “Hello.      a curtained doorway and called out: “Borak!” Borak poked his head through the curtains. he stepped into the room. “Else I be not my father’s son —a father who served as chief messenger to King Saul. the gate is guarded. he approached the sol- dier. And as I’m still explain- ing to myself ! O well. that they may ride with it at top speed to David. I hope this works. O strange world.” he whispered to himself. tenacity.” said Borak. And  be with you on this dangerous mission. Borak emerged from behind the shed. “This is Borak. “As expected.” said Hushai. The man was standing in front of the Water Gate. Saluting Hushai and the priests. and whose audacity. sir. and head- dress. I’ll deliver your message. Trust on it. He was munching on an apricot. handsome.” said Borak. He was dressed now as a woman—wearing a female robe. handing him a sealed note. “A nice  .” “Go then. and other qualities I did inherit.” Holding onto the jar. “Often have I bantered there with maidservants. saluting and slipping out the door. And affecting a female walk. “He’s a trusted messenger and a most resourceful fellow. who were carrying their jars to the spring. It’s a bold ploy—yet boldness is needed if I’m to get outside the walls.

” said Borak with a sigh. there’s pyrexia. in this particular case. “no exceptions.” said the soldier. beriberi. dengue. The gate’s closed until further notice. You see. And then there’s this new ailment that’s been going around. mal de mer.” Steadying the jar on his head. greensickness. an exception might be made. Fortunately.” said the soldier. Persian flu. I take it?” “Aye.” “I see. “But I was hop- ing that. he said: “You’re new in town.”  . sheep rot. dropsy. please. If I could return with a jar- ful. ague. tarantism. Why. cow pox.” he whispered to himself. Thank you anyhow.  day. “Confound it. nettle rash. deliria. This hair blight. I’m from Hebron.” “No. phrenesia. as they call it. it’s a kind of fungus. Grows on your hair and eats away at it. miss. And before you know it. listing the maladies that plague us. “The gate’s closed. though. miss.” “Sorry. “This won’t be as easy as I had hoped. No one leaves or enters the city. scrofula. you’re bald. water! Won’t someone bring me water?’ It’s heart- rending to hear the poor man.” Again Borak approached the soldier.” “A word of warning then. serving with the prince. Which will make him pliable and less likely to penetrate my disguise. tonsillitis. He suffers a dreadful thirst—cries out ‘Water. Resuming his fal- setto voice. whooping cough. we’ve run out of water back at the house— our cistern has a leak and is empty. Haven’t you heard the proc- lamation?” “Indeed I did. Nasty thing!” “Hair blight?” “Yes. the fellow’s been drinking—I smelled ale on his breath. Now move on. how grateful he would be. epizootic. I could go on and on. Borak walked away. We have numerous diseases here in the capital—some quite rare. dandy fever. is it not? Though such commotion in the town! I’ll just be going down to the spring—to fill my jar with water and gossip with the gals. But what now? I must try something more drastic. And my master has come down with a fever. catarrhs and rhumes. you won’t.

And Borak did likewise—conking him with the water jar.” “Persons like myself. handing him the note.” * This account of smuggling a message out of the city is unique to the Book of King Solomon.” He lowered his head.  .* • Ahimaaz and Jonathan were eating supper when the knock sounded. “Now lower your head. The soldier sank to the ground. I had to sneak out of the city. They jumped up and drew their swords. I know what it looks like. you say? I could contract this fun- gus?” “You may already have. The Book of Samuel states only that “Jonathan and Ahimaaz stayed by En-rogel.” The soldier removed his helmet.” Only Ahi- maaz gives the full story of that supposed maidservant.” “Dang!” “If you’d like. My cousin had it. sir. unconscious. “Who’s there?” said Ahimaaz.” “If you would.      “No!” “It afflicts only young. stepping over him and passing through the gate.” said Borak. “We are whom you seek. miss.” “Take off your helmet and I’ll check you out. while Josephus has their fathers dispatch “a trusty maid- servant…to carry the news of Absalom’s counsels. Startled by the sight. “Borak the messenger. still dressed as a maidservant. “You’re fine. vigorous males—persons like yourself.” Ahimaaz opened the door—revealing Borak. I’ll examine your hair. Ahimaaz stared at him.” said Borak. so I can get a look. What news?” “This message. seeking the sons of Zadok and Abiathar. for they might not be seen to come into the city: and a wench went and told them”. Left him bald as an egg. “And pardon the outfit.

We ride on a mission of urgency to the King. High Priest of Israel. Give us the woman.” The pair grabbed their cloaks.” said Borak.” said Ahimaaz. they are one of the vexations of desert travel. they followed a footpath through the hills. in this time of crisis?” The bandit looked disappointed. They are not dangerous. I have sat at their camp- fire and joined them in ribaldry. “Along with snakes and jack- als. “We have no gold or silver. forget about it. “If you take it. How dare you delay us? Would you interfere with state business. Suddenly they heard shouts and hoofbeats.” “Outrageous. Then they descended into a wadi—a dry riverbed—and trotted along. Avoiding the highway.” “Then come with us. And a band of men came riding towards them. “No gold or silver? No jewelry? Nothing of value?” “Nothing.”  .” said Ahimaaz. And brushing past Borak.  Ahimaaz read the message. “No. “Soldiers?” said Jonathan. Whooping and waving swords. they dashed from the house and mounted their horses. I happen to know these gentlemen. “All right.” said Borak. if you wish to live.” The bandit spat in disgust. you won’t get far. Think of them as entrepreneurs—independent operators of a tollbooth. “Give us your gold and silver. bandits. I could get you safely to David’s encampment. They had entered the wilderness. then turned to Jonathan.” Ahimaaz hoisted Borak up behind him. Night was falling as they rode eastward. the bandits came riding up. “I am the son of Zadok. But we don’t like to leave empty-handed.” called out their leader. “We must get this to King David at once. They surrounded the travelers. Actually. And the three men galloped off. “The road will be closely watched.” “What choice have we?” “I am a messenger—familiar with back roads and desert trails.

” whispered Ahimaaz. There is no mention of either Borak or bandits.” he said. Leading them was David. Then straight on to David. officials. The author of the Book of King Solomon makes no mention of that episode. “’Twill be a rare jest! Keep following the wadi till it crosses the highway.” Sleepers were woken—tents were dismantled—donkeys were loaded. “They may be coming after us. he gives us this account of bandits. not a wadi.” he said in his falsetto voice.” David read the message by torchlight and nodded grave- ly. And within an hour the refugees were on the move. * In the Book of Samuel. Ahimaaz and Jonathan continued on along the wadi. “This is exciting!” One of the bandits hoisted Borak onto his horse. they take refuge in the village of Bahurim. “Rouse every- one and prepare to decamp. his cloak drawn up over his crown.”) Instead. Without a pause they waded through it. royal wives. He called out to the bandits: “She’s yours.  . he trudged along with his walking stick.” whispered Borak. “Delivered by the sons of Zadok and Abiathar. handing him the note. We must get beyond the river as soon as possible. (It is of a type known to folklorists as a “well tale.      “The woman? Don’t be ridiculous.* • Roused from sleep. derived from some unknown source.” Borak straightened his veil and dismounted. fel- las. David emerged from his tent. Ahimaaz and Jonathan travel along the highway.” “As you wish. “An urgent message. rejecting it perhaps as unhistorical. “Okay. And they galloped off with their prize.” said Shavsha. Under a full moon they trekked across the plain. It was morning when they reached the river. Spotted by soldiers. Soldiers. let’s hit the road. This is not a—” “Let them take me. Still barefoot. where a peasant hides them in his well.

They trotted up to him and halted. Come with us. along with your people. He drew himself up to his full height.” said the second horseman. playing in the street Who struts and bellows. notable of Gilead. “king of Ammon and your loyal vassal. I am here to pledge to you my fealty and aid. My scepter have I traded for a staff. David walked out to meet the horsemen.” he said. children—the court of King David forded the Jordan like a herd of cattle.” “And I am Shobi. David turned to Shavsha.” said the first horseman. “also your servant.” Shavsha pointed to three horsemen who were approaching from the east.” “Greetings. Now do I seem despised. pretending to be me. king of Israel. on Israel’s throne. When everyone had crossed.  servants. I thank you for your help. “I am Barzillai.  . Your Highness. Is this a fate that sovereigns must bear? Bear it I could. Last week I sat in splendor. a cast-off king. I too have come to pledge myself. “We have arrived in Gilead. And from the wave-kissed borders of the sea As far as to Euphrates in the east Did men both fear and reverence my name.” said the third. A name that by next year shall be forgot Save by some urchin. “Yes—and already we have visitors. with solace from my prayers. And together we wish to offer you safe refuge. You see before you a sorry spectacle: A barefoot ruler and his tiny realm— A roaming monarch and the faithful few Who travel with him. “I am David.” D: And fight I shall. to the stronghold of Mahanaim. We are bound to you by treaties. weeping as they go— A homeless shepherd and his bleating sheep. From there you can marshal support and fight to regain your throne.” “And I am Machir of Lo-debar.

Is this not sad? A tale to summon tears? And yet—enough! I’ll pity me no more. as martial trumpets ring. “Have not the tribes rallied to our cause? Keep me posted—I’d like to get start- ed. Good lords. Now to your town together let us march And gather there an army of brave men Whom I shall lead. By the way.” “Of course we shall.      And these my friends and family round me still— Were it not for one heart-rending fact: My son did bring me down! My own dear son! The fruit and glory of these royal loins.” said Absalom. horses. and supply donkeys. lounging there. • “Daily our numbers swell. The very image of his doting sire. For thanks to you and your most welcome aid Am I now ready to regain my throne. It was filled with tents. The pair had halted their horses and were looking down into a valley. too. good king. is rudely whisked away. general. It shall not be long before we’re ready to march. “with recruits arriving from the north.” said Absalom. You found me in despair and raised me up. B: Follow us. where is Ahitophel? I haven’t seen him in  . grows in strength. we shall significantly outnumber him. “Our latest intelligence is that David. unto the town Where you may take that cloak from off your crown. “Nonetheless. soldiers. Being discontent to practice as a prince Did turn to plotting and to treachery And from my throne did chase me. like some cat That. And show my son his father’s still a king.” said Amasa.” said Amasa. you have my lasting gratitude.” “Unto a swift victory.

following the road to Giloh. Right now I’m due back at the palace—for my daily coiffure. a lone figure was riding along on a donkey.” “He must be absorbed in the details of governance. Anyhow. he rode off toward the city. And to escape his retribution with an act of honor.” said Ahitophel. inexperienced and undisciplined. “My dear ones. Then he assembled his household and addressed them.” “Nor I. good prince?” A: A ruler who has not a regal look— Who cares not to impress—shall be forsook By those whom he should dazzle. I’ll talk with you later. Amasa. with bad advice. Now it’s too late. We failed to go after David when he was weak and vulnerable. Greeted by ser- vants. The battle that approaches is one we shall lose. he will prevail. Though outnumbered. I am undone. • In the hills south of Jerusalem. My name will be at the top of his list. But my barbers call! And with a proud toss of his hair. A: Well said. A: Yet not by soldiers’ looks are battles won But by their skill and bravery withal. So I have come home to say farewell. like the sun.” “Such attention to grooming!” said Amasa. with a few whis-  . he rested and took refreshments.  a while. Our troops are fresh recruits.” His household wept as—one by one. “A fool caught the ear of Absalom. “Is it manly. He will regain his throne—and punish those who betrayed him. while David’s are seasoned warriors. At dusk he arrived at his estate there. It was Ahitophel.

” said Gorash. Then he took a curtain cord. With a stoic air.” said David. “with a message for the mil- itary.”  . Drinking. But where have you been?” “Don’t ask. of course. I’ve alerted the officers to pre- pare for battle. Thus here I am in Mahanaim. when Joab came bustling in. So I borrowed some male clothing— don’t ask. the two messengers embraced. • “Gorash!” “Borak!” On the main street of Mahanaim. to offer my services.” “Absolutely!” • In the headquarters at Mahanaim. “I look forward to leading our men into the fray. “What are you doing here?” asked Borak. and donkeys streamed by. I fell in with some old acquaintances—a pack of bandits—and hung out with them for a while. and hung himself. and went looking for the royal party. David was strum- ming on his lyre. They are due here tomorrow. suspended it from a beam. soldiers. And whom do I bump into? Your blessed self! But where are you headed?” “To deliver my message. But afterwards—let’s you and I go find a tavern.” said Joab.      pered words—Ahitophel embraced them.” “At last we shall settle this. “I just arrived. “We’ve received word that Absalom and his forces have set out. “The day of reckoning is at hand. hopped on a horse. singing. But then it occurred to me that the country was in turmoil—major events were unfolding— King David was in danger! And what was Borak doing? Carousing with lowlifes! My conscience pricked me and bade me do otherwise. Townsfolk. he went to his study and put his affairs in order. telling tales.

Father. So you must get ready. Which should be  . I shall have to find a new line of work. Spread word that Absalom is not to be harmed. Your presence in the field would be foolhardy. I know my son—he will recklessly come in after us. “You sent for me. it’s not an easy job. Why? Because He wants someone with wisdom to succeed me as king. A moment later Solomon peeked in. You must prepare yourself for the king- ship. I believe? Nor were you meant to be a warrior. spare his life. of course. Though he deserves it not. while you command the army. And succeed me you shall! Do you hear? You shall wear this crown one day. and that’s where we should fight. Deploy the men into the forest.” said Joab. that’s what they want—for their advantage is in numbers. He is my son! Do you hear?” “It shall be so. I regain my throne. You are the sole cause for which we fight. But a mile from here is the Forest of Ephraim. And one thing more. Perhaps as a musician in some distant court. Is it a job you want?” “I wish only to do ’s will. Joab. That’s how I got started. This bat- tle we’re about to fight? It shall determine Israel’s future— not to mention mine and thine. That is something you must not do. Be merciful to Absalom.” David sighed. If we lose. Fifteen. If we can draw Absalom into the forest. He bowed and departed. Father?” “I did. If we win. “Now you’re too young to fight. But what shall be our strategy?” “A simple one: to engage the enemy at a place of our choosing and on our terms. As you can see. I shall remain here. the advantage falls to us. you know—as a musician for King Saul.  Joab gave him a pained look. Come in and hear some fatherly words. it’s over—they’ve won. The enemy would target you! For if they slay the king. The Lord has given you a contemplative nature. Our men have experience in rough terrain. If we go out and meet them on a battlefield. David.” “You’re right. “You’re right. “Listen to me.

He threw his head back and shouted: “Charge!” Next came a bird’s-eye view—of Absalom’s army. Leaves were rustling in a breeze—birds were twittering—a butterfly flitted about. Now go and get some sleep. This day should not have been.” D: Well said. To Mahanaim! • David stood at the gate and addressed his army. let clamorous war begin. Absalom addressed them. D: Bless you. my son. Assem-  . • On a prancing horse Absalom led his army across the river. The approaching foe has numbers on his side. When the soldiers had crossed. A: O ’tis a fearsome thing. when armies clash: Two juggernauts colliding with a crash. in the Cave of the Ages.      one’s sole aim in life—as you have taught me. The scene changed to a close-up of Absalom. it was being viewed—by Melchiz- edek. which had assembled outside the walls of Mahanaim. But we with  and justice are allied. In his eye was a fiery look. and be brave! • As the battle began. But since it is. Father ’gainst son. Their weapons and helmets glinted in the sun. Tomorrow we’ve a date with destiny to keep. To the forest. soldiers. and may the Lord give aid To we who have unto Him duly prayed. On his screen was a serene forest.

Men look at lemmings and declare them weird And cluck at such a freak—yet rush like this! The very man who will procrastinate. shout. hear the whoops of war. Unnerved. it began to surge forward. Into the forest Absalom’s soldiers go And by the forest soon shall be devoured. foams. M: O see the fury. Now look—the battle’s joined—the two sides meet! They grapple. look—some men of Absalom. Delay some minor chore. his words resounding in the cave. Wait till next year. Ceding a victory onto David’s men. the poor conscripted lads!) Do hurl themselves into a hopeless fray.  bled at the edge of the forest. For raw recruits against a seasoned foe Are like a wave that breaks upon a rock: Pounds against it. clang swords. For David’s men await them in the woods With practiced swords and lethal stratagems— With archers hidden in the boughs of trees And deadly man-traps planted in the grass— With discipline and martial mastery. And yet this battle shall not lengthy be. Already. With what avidity men rush unto their deaths! Not even lemmings—rodents who in swarms Go leaping from high cliffs into the sea— With greater zeal do throw their lives away. or some time after that— When war’s the theme. throw down their arms and flee the scene. (The real victor shall of course be Death Who reaps from battlefields his richest crop—  . And he began to speak. do fiercely fight And all is mayhem in the fragrant woods. put off a task. Melchizedek watched with grim fascination. he cannot wait to die! O how these hapless men of Absalom. and seeps away. Onward by some primal impulse urged (Or by compulsion.

“My men flee into the depths of the forest. And what shall be my punishment.” said Absalom. But his hair caught on a bough—becoming entangled and yanking him from the donkey. Gone were his horse and helmet and proud bearing. ripe for the picking.” he lamented. “Snared like a rabbit. Stunned and helpless.      War a windfall for his ghastly trade. as his army dissolved in a rout. I cannot bear to watch. All about him soldiers were fleeing. With the sounds of war all about.” said Absalom. Suspended between heaven and earth. “I hang here like a piece of fruit. Then the soldier returned. “What a bizarre end. “The battle’s lost. • Absalom staggered through the woods. And he was left dangling from the tree. What a grievous end to my hopes! How brief my stay upon that beckoning throne. as the donkey trotted on without him. the soldier dashed off. Is it not Prince Absalom?” “Aye. He stopped and stared at Absalom. One of David’s soldiers happened along. “Who’s this hanging here?” he said. Absalom hung by his hair. Absalom flung himself on it and rode off. with Joab and other soldiers. I know not to which I am bound.) O hear the soldiers groaning as they die. Overhanging the path were the boughs of an oak. a few feet above the ground. for having dared to sit there? I too had better flee. And see—but no.” For a while he hung there alone. Melchizedek clicked the remote and the screen went blank. “Like a body on the gallows.” Spotting a loose donkey. Absalom ducked. As he neared them. ’tis me. They too stared in  .” Dumbfounded. the donkey bore him along a forest path.

Cut them not. now that the battle’s over?” “The officers are assembling at Joab’s tent.” said Gorash. Spread the word that Absalom is dead and our victory complete. vain prince. One in particular. “Yes. and to our wounded tend. “You draw your blade.” “Fear not. his brother Abishai. “But now what? Where are we supposed to go. I shall not touch your hair. Let’s cease to fight.” said Joab. This was a rebel —a traitor—a would-be parricide.” Joab stabbed him in the chest. my orders were to spare his life. I suppose.” said Absalom. Alive. he would have remained a threat. They are the only crown I shall ever know. Joab—cut not these gorgeous locks of mine. dis- entangle them. For there will still be messages to be delivered. he unsheathed his dagger. “A communiqué  . And blow the horn to signal bat- tle’s end. Thrice he stabbed him. Yet I implore you. Rather. And Absalom died. and Ithai the Gittite. Joab. “To slay me then? But no. Exhausting—and dangerous too!” “I’ve been similarly employed. “Loose me from this bough.” • Borak and Gorash were resting in a secluded grove. I have done what had to be done. I’ve been carrying messages between the three commanders —Joab. “I’m exhausted.” “Aye. Running to and fro just behind the front lines. “It is indeed Prince Absalom. “What a day it has been.” “I do pity thee.  astonishment at the dangling prince. “Take him down and bury him.” said Absalom. And coming closer. nodding knowingly.” said Borak.” said Joab. “Have pity on me. But David’s command was utter folly.” said Joab. We should head over there.” said Borak. For such a kindness I shall thank you. you would free me from this snare and take me pris- oner.

” “Me too. It is Ahimaaz. to bear him the tidings? No messenger present? Then who among you will bear these tidings to David?” Two men stepped forward: Ahimaaz. “Surely they bear news. informing him of our victory here this day. son of Zadok. “Yet one of us shall be dispatched with it. And the other— why.” said Cushi.” said Ahimaaz. And also…” “Of the death of Absalom. an Ethiopian officer. “The victory is ours. “As shall I. “Absalom’s men—prefer- ring to face starvation rather than our swords—have fled into the forest. “Two runners approaching.” said the watchman. and Cushi.” The two messengers lingered in the grove. was the watchman.” said David.” “Though if we lingered here a while—to rest and regain our strength—they’d find someone else to deliver it. The two men ran towards Mahanaim. • Sitting on a stool by the city gate was David.”  . Their leader is slain. peering into the distance. Joab addressed the assembled officers.” said Joab. His beloved son.      to David. An Ethiopian. vying to be first with the news. son of Zadok.” said Gorash. I recognize him. With him. both of you. “Set out. “I shall bear the tidings.” “Indeed they would. We have triumphed and regained the throne for David. Now must he be apprised of the outcome here today. • Standing outside his tent. Where is a messenger.” “Aye.” he said. then. “One is dark-skinned.” “I’d be loathe to carry such a message.

and take thy place In the dark of Death’s embrace. Ahimaaz was the first to arrive.” said the watchman. “A great victory. Would that I had been the one To die this day. “A glorious victory. he sank to the ground. “What news. “How long has it been—a month now?” said Gorash. he fell to his knees before David.” Now Cushi came running up. With the Lord’s help. “May all your enemies meet with the same fate as that man.” said Cushi.” “And my son? Absalom?” Cushi looked him in the eye. But I know not the cause there- of.” “Good. my son.  “Ahimaaz is a good man. David let out a sob. Your Highness. he climbed a stairway and staggered into the watchtower. Breathless.” stammered Ahimaaz. Exhausted.  .” Alone in the tower he sobbed. Ahimaaz?” asked David. my son. “What news?” asked David. Knocking aside the stool.” “Let us hope so. • Zuki’s was crowded and noisy. And my son? What was the fate of Prince Absalom? Is he safe?” “I—I know not. there was some commotion. “As I departed.” “Then he is…?” Cushi nodded. Surely he brings good news. There he fell to his knees and said: “O Absalom. we have won the day. “The Lord has avenged you this day against those who rose against you. good. They waited as the runners drew near. The enemy was routed.

for both him and the nation. But one good thing has come of all this.” said Borak. as if lost. When the day arrives.” “Alas. He’d be a disaster as king.” “But he’s a bum—a ne’er-do-well.” “Will he? I’m not so sure. they say. Let’s hope he’s too inebriated to enter- tain such a notion.” “Indeed he would. After all. “it was a terrible time.      finishing off his ale. And roams the corridors of the palace. young Solomon will succeed to the throne in an orderly fashion.  . playing melancholy strains on his lyre. Speaking of which—” They called for more ale. “And still the King is inconsolable. “Lives only for wine and women. Adonijah could start getting ideas now. He stays up late. he’s become the eldest son.” said Borak.

from Nathan. He opened the gifts they had brought. and as the smoke curled upward. chestfuls of jewels. Gray-haired and stooped. Guards came to attention as they passed. “I have been amassing rich- es. a cheer rose from the small group that had gathered in the dining hall to celebrate his birthday. “Thank you all. Behold my treasure chamber. he was leaning on a cane. “Later. There were eighteen of them. talents of gold and a million talents of silver—along with brass. David unlocked it and pushed it open. “As you know. This is my treasure-trove! But to what end have I assembled it? For self-aggrandizement? No! These riches belong to . when you are king.” said Bathsheba. cats scurried away. “Grab a torch.” His cane tapping on the tiles. marble.” said David. Standing in the doorway was King David. And the  .” said David. from Joseph.   Map I          the cake. “But where is my father? Is he not to attend this party?” “He’s been ill. from Benai- ah. servants bowed. a dagger. he led Solomon through the corridors of the palace. “Join us for cake. an inkhorn. They are the materials for His temple—for the house in which His Glory is to dwell.” said Bathsheba. Solomon. “But he said he would come. The torchlight revealed rows of chests and bins. A house that you are to build. From Bathsheba there was a talisman.” said Solomon. and come with me. a scroll with a lurid tale. In the east wing they descended a stairway and came to a padlocked door. Stored herein are .” rang out a voice. The materials await you here.” “And I have. And they entered a storeroom. cedar wood.

” “Worthy? Just avoid sin—unlike your poor-role-model of a father. and pulled out a bundle of scrolls. But this is a colossal undertaking and you’ll need help in accomplishing it. Drafted by Ab-hiram.”  . my architect. they incorporate features that were revealed to me in dreams.      plans. Solomon. So there’s something I want to give you. And capable? I have confidence in your talents.” David hobbled over to a chest.” “I pray that I may be both capable and worthy of it. too—come. “These are the final plans for the Temple. These are the blueprints for ’s house—which you shall raise! A task awaits you. of monumental proportions. lifted the lid. take a look at them.

Venturing inside. you will  . return to this cave. welcomed me to the Cave of the Ages. Finally. and told me to kneel. I knelt. David brought out a parchment. and it was as if he were peering into my innermost self. This priest seemed ancient of years yet vigorous. In this cavern resides a mysterious priest named Melchizedek. Finally I emerged into a cavern—a vast space that was lit by torches! “And someone was sitting there. and declared that I would one day be king of Israel— that I and my descendants would rule in ’s name. speech- less and shaking. ‘David. In a voice that resounded from the depths of the cavern.  Reaching into the chest. “Take a look at this. But our Temple is to be an abode for  Most High—an edifice of cosmic import. he spoke—addressing me by name and bidding me approach. It’s a map I sketched. I shall endeavor to assist you.” “I encountered him during my outlaw days—back when I was hiding out in the wilderness. “But as I was leaving. And in the flickering light I discerned a figure in priestly garb.’ he said. priest of  Most High. Have I ever men- tioned him to you?” “No. What I have accomplished I have accomplished on my own. he called to me. As I stood before him. I did so. in a thronelike chair. He had a mane of white hair and a great white beard. he gazed at me. and I groped my way along it. Father. I have certain powers. many years ago. “Then he introduced himself as Melchizedek.’” “Have you ever gone back there. Father?” “No. If you ever need my help. when I came upon the entrance to a cave. Whereupon he poured oil on my head. To create it. I knelt there. As his voice echoed from the walls. he told me to go. There was a bluish glow to the walls—a sharpness in the air—a musical murmur. One morning I was wan- dering about. ‘As a priest of  Most High. It shows the location of a cavern. I was struck by the strangeness of the place. He gave me a few practical tips and urged me to live virtuous- ly. A narrow passageway led fur- ther in.

and behold. anoint him.”* * According to the Bible. he keepeth the sheep.and thou shalt anoint unto Me him whom I name unto thee. and came to Bethle- hem…. The Lord hath not chose these. There remaineth yet the youngest. Arise. And Samuel did that which the Lord spake. ) Thus did David enter public life as a kind of Cinderella. Now—let’s go back and have some cake. it was the prophet Samuel who anointed David. and go. “Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. “And he [Jesse] sent.      need help. and withal of a beautiful countenance. Now he was ruddy.  . for I have provided Me a king among his sons…. How long wilt thou mourn for Saul. This map will guide you to his cave. Father. and brought him in. and goodly to look to.” ( Samuel. I’m leaving it here in the chest—don’t forget about it. for we will not sit down till he come hither. not Melchizedek. “Then Samuel took the horn of oil. I will send thee to Jesse the Bethle- hemite.” “Good. The episode is found in the Book of Samuel: “And the Lord said unto Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse. And the Lord said. and anointed him in the midst of his brethren. Are here all thy children? And he [Jesse] said. Send and fetch him.” “I won’t. seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill thine horn with oil. And Sam- uel said unto Jesse. So when you are ready to begin. for this is he. And Samuel said unto Jesse. seek out Mel- chizedek and ask for his aid and blessing.

should sleep by the king’s side. and be a remedy against his numbness. Josephus describes the cure. by soldiers on horseback. as prescribed for King David: “David was now in years. From Shunam in the Valley of Jezreel. But they’ve got her cloaked and veiled—her beauty reserved for the King. For she is to communicate heat to David. pointing to a woman on a donkey.   Heat A        were Borak and Gorash. “so far gone is David. Quite an honor for the Shunamite—though it comes with a patriotic duty. The messengers were straining to see over heads. and his body. the Græco-Roman physician.” “I wouldn’t mind a bit of that heat. to the palace.” “Then let me be charitable and share it. by length of time. had become cold and benumbed. (When Frederick the Great was ill. O Shunamite—over here!”* * It was believed that sexual relations with a young woman could restore a man’s heat. a maiden was brought to his bed. that a beautiful virgin.” said Gorash.” said Borak. chosen out of the whole country. and that this damsel would communicate heat to him. recommended the treat- ment in his Materia Medica. insomuch that he could get no heat by covering himself with many clothes. ) Galen. in hope of reversing his decline. and she took the prize. “I’m over here. or life force. a work that was accepted as author- itative until modern times. What’s her name again?” “Abishag. “That must be her. and when the physicians came together.” said Borak.” “You’ve enough of your own. They were trying to get a glimpse of the woman who was being escorted. they agreed to this advice.)  . to restore his life force.” (Antiquities.” “It shall be wasted on him. “The fairest damsel in the land. vii. The search for fairest damsel was nationwide.

The Shunamite was tall and slender. “That you are to minister to His Majesty?” Abishag nodded gravely. the other two were physicians. with glossy black hair that tumbled to her waist. And Abishag arrived. One was Shavsha. when there was a stir in the corridor. “You understand your mission?” said Shavsha. She had shed her traveling clothes. “You are to communicate heat to him. escorted by handmaidens.      • That evening three men waited outside the royal bed- chamber. and—having bathed and perfumed—was clad now in a satin gown. They were speaking in low.” said one of the  . somber tones. She moved with a gazellelike grace.

the physicians were waiting.” “I am ready. Her bare skin glistened in the torchlight. He was named Adonijah.  physicians. “Let’s get to it. • When Abishag emerged from the chamber in the morn- ing. “The time has come. You must act.” said Adonijah. As his eldest surviving son—and the inheritor of his martial spirit—you are the rightful heir to the throne. “Your father is close to death. rising. Abishag removed her gown. Without knocking. who was breakfasting. sleeping with the king. he entered and greeted the prince.* • With a purposeful stride. born to him of Haggith his wife. and tall. “I tried. and now. and had  . Abishag stepped into the chamber. Pale and sickly. and was in his disposition like to Absalom. for he was so old that he could not know her as a husband knows his wife. The door closed behind her.” Shavsha opened the door and gestured for her to enter. and had exalted himself as hoping to be king. She shook her head. he was shivering. Joab made his way to Adonijah’s chamber. You are to know him.” The physicians hurried into the room. But the King ignored me. She hesitated for a moment. She climbed in under the covers. Beneath a mound of covers lay David. David seemed unaware of her presence. for king and country. He seems barely conscious.” said Joab. Murmuring to himself. “and thereby restore his vitality. did no more than communicate warmth to him.” “I shall do my duty. then approached the bed. You must declare yourself.”† * Josephus reports: “Abishag.” † Josephus describes the prince: “Now the fourth son of David was a beautiful young man.

and fifty men to run before him. He had also prepared many chariots. nor restrained him from his purpose. When David his father had seen this. he had not reproved him.”  . nor had he gone so far as to ask wherefore he did so.      told his friends that he ought to take the government upon him. and horses.

Servants bustled about. of King David. * The spring—known today as Bir Aiyub. and imminent demise. Joab rose and signaled for quiet. I shall keep our nation strong and prosperous. and the guests—dozens of prominent men —were drinking and chatting. Shaped like a coiled snake. They spoke in hushed tones. • Nathan and Bathsheba were conferring outside the bed- chamber. sacrificing oxen. “We are saddened by the illness.* A banquet was in progress at En-rogel.” he said. And I shall strive to be worthy of the office that is thrust upon me. Beside it was an altar. the eldest son of David and the next king of Israel!” Adonijah rose and acknowledged a round of applause. I give you Adonijah. A clown flitted from table to table.  . But the sacred rock is gone.” said Adonijah. it was called the Serpent Stone. serving platters of roast meat. “But we are gladdened by the robust health—the vigor—the vitality—of the man sitting beside me. Tables and benches had been set up. I shall carry on his work and his ideals. As my father’s successor. “and for coming out today. In the midst of En-rogel was a sacred rock. or “Well of Jacob”— still gushes. “I thank you all for your support. Some priests were busy at the altar. For now— let the feast begin!” The musician resumed playing. Gentlemen. But that is for tomorrow.   A King Is Crowned J      —  watered by a spring—called En-rogel. A musician was playing on his lyre. built by the Jebusites.

” “Then let us procure it. “Wasn’t it your intention that he be king? And that he build a temple —a house for ? Adonijah will not be interested in such an undertaking. “My crown would go to him? No. who in the palace? Who can we count on to support us?” “Shavsha. So David’s the key.” “I mean. He must give us his blessing. His breathing was labored. and will squander your wealth on luxuries. we implore you. All of Israel awaits your pronouncement—your designation of a successor. They are declaring him your successor. we are lost. He is given over to pleasure and ostenta- tion. “Rouse yourself. “They want a new king. And the Pal- ace Guard—Benaiah assures me they’re loyal to David. But you must issue it now. “You must speak to us. Awaken. The crown must go to Solomon!” “You can still make that happen. Zadok and his faction of priests. An urgent matter requires your attention. This very moment they are crying: ‘Long live King Adonijah.” said Bathsheba. Adonijah’s supporters are rallying.  . “The Lord is with us. Bathsheba bent over him.      “David must be roused and told what is happening. “Adonijah’s sup- porters have gathered at En-rogel. he is not fit.” said Nathan. they do. They entered the chamber and approached the bed. “Otherwise.” His eyes remained shut.” Suddenly David bolted upright.” “Adonijah?” said David in a hoarse voice.” said Bathsheba. David lay murmuring under the heap of covers. O husband. Is that what you want? A libertine on the throne of Israel? Or should Solomon—your pious son— succeed you?” He opened his eyes and stared at her.” “Who is with us?” said Bathsheba. “Isn’t Solomon your choice?” said Bathsheba.’” “How now? King Adonijah? They do so cry while I still breathe and wear a crown?” “Alas.

from which wafted fumes of incense.* • A procession was flowing out the North Gate. that my crown. “It is reserved for our most solemn occasions. and a throng of townsfolk who had joined the procession.” * Ahimaaz’s account of this episode. “This oil dates from the time of Moses. there to be anointed by Zadok. With it I anoint the new king of Israel. Zadok told Solomon to dismount and to kneel before him. Place him on the royal donkey. in full regalia. And lead him to the spring at Gihon.)  . palace servants. scepter.” said Bathsheba. the priests began to chant. Do it. The priests were followed by Solomon on the royal donkey. on the other hand. the High Priest produced a small jar. Go find the lad. The hem of his mid- dle robe was hung with bells. she persuades David with an argument concerning the Temple.” said Nathan. Then came members of the court. led by Benaiah— brought up the rear. In the Book of Kings. The spring of Gihon lay just outside the city. she reminds him of a promise he made to her: that their son should inherit the throne. and throne are to go to Solo- mon—immediately!” “It shall be so.     do they? Then I’ll give them one. “I’ll go and locate him. and that found in the Book of Kings. The Palace Guard—hundreds of armed men.” he announced. I hereby abdicate. I’ll name a successor— and yield to him this very day! Hear me. Upon reaching it. Behind him marched a band of priests. Fumbling in his pocket. Bathsheba pleads a case for Solomon. In each. differ in a significant respect. He had donned the ephod—the breastplate of the High Priest—and was carrying a censer. At its head was Zadok. clanging cymbals and beating on drums. in favor of Solomon. now! For I swear by  Most High. (Bathsheba also points out to him that—as losers in a dynastic struggle—she and Solomon would be dealt with harshly. But according to Ahimaaz.

“It’s getting late. The trumpeting echoed from the hills. lay his hands on Solomon’s head.” said one.” “This was fun. “We haven’t had dessert yet!” Joab returned and related the news of Solomon’s anoint- ment. “but gotta run. joining the exodus. “ save King Solomon!” he proclaimed. With ner- vous looks and mumbled excuses. And suddenly an exodus began. “I must be going. drained his goblet. they rose from their seats and began to leave. • “What’s that?” said Joab.” said another. may He be with you. Nathan came forward. “What’s happening?” Joab shook his head. He whispered to the guest beside him. Like schoolboys caught in a forbidden act. “The shofar? Why is the shofar being blown?” A servant came racing into the garden.” Adonijah and Joab were seated together at the head table. the guests began to slip away. “Wait. and whispered into his ear. Adonijah looked puzzled. The whis- pering spread from table to table. and make your throne even greater than your father’s. Both were tipsy with wine. Anxious to disassociate themselves from Adonijah. And may you rule for many years—and rule wisely. again and again. As the guests hurried off.” Adonijah called out.      With a grave expression Zadok recited a prayer. Priests and servants joined  .” Shouts of jubilation arose. The guest looked startled. and went off to inquire. and said: “As the Lord has been with your father the king. the guests fled the banquet. Then he sprinkled oil on Solomon’s head. And the shofar was blown. approached one of the guests. Then he walked off rapidly. everybody. “Where’s everyone going?” he asked Joab. A priest blew on the shofar—the ram’s horn that signaled an important event. looking up from his goblet.

Zadok escorted him to the dais. and Solomon is duly crowned. Slouched over his goblet. He looked bewildered. they cite his subsequent lament to Bathsheba: “Thou knowest that the kingdom was mine.” “Long live King Solomon!” shouted the crowd. and that all Israel set their faces on me. Solomon lowered himself onto the royal seat—hesitant- ly. So whence the Biblical version of events? According to the revi-  . as if wary of a prank. It is thwarted. Zadok. ordinary Israelites. (As evidence. and told him to sit. Zadok placed the crown on his head and said: “Long live King Solomon. The oil still glistened in his hair. that I should reign. and tri- umphed. led by Bathsheba (who stood to become Queen Mother). had the backing of the Palace Guard. In a blatant power grab. They contend that Adonijah—the eldest surviving son—was slated to become king. was led in. But revisionist historians have put forward an alternative sce- nario—a theory as to what really happened. And En-rogel was soon deserted—except for a solitary figure.     them. Solomon is portrayed as the legitimate heir to the throne—as David’s choice to succeed him. This faction. courtiers. waving to his subjects. Even the clown—suddenly become serious—departed in haste. “And—the same to you. pointed to the throne. “Thank you. • The throne room was packed. Adonijah is seen as a rank pre- tender—an envious brother who attempts a coup.” [ Kings :]) But sup- porters of Solomon staged a coup of their own.” said Solomon.”* * In both the Book of Kings and the Book of King Solomon. and Nathan. A hum of excitement rose from the crowd. with members of the royal family. the throne went to Solomon. And Solomon. palace servants. surrounded by guards and priests. Trumpets sounded. Adonijah was murmuring in dismay.

This biography (which has come down to us as the Book of Samuel and a portion of the Book of Kings) provided a sanitized—indeed. he commissioned the writing of an official biography of the House of David. King Solomon desired to put a favorable “spin” on his rise to power. To that end.  .      sionists. a falsified—ver- sion of both his father’s career and his own.

If I can still see—my eyes are dimming. “Stand in the light. But never forget the source of all good things that come your way: the Lord our . And how that crown becomes you! I took it from Hanun. Keep His commandments. where I may see you. And that our people may prosper. Window curtains billowed in a night breeze. at home and abroad.” said David. It is His hand that shapes our lives. It’s a momentous task. How tall you’ve gotten. Those commandments are ’s gift to us.  needs a house. but I have left you the plans. David was propped up in bed. “And walk in His ways. the materials. wherein His Glory may dwell. It’s yours now. Ignore them at your peril. not I. Some advice to impart. The lamp flickered. that you may prosper.   Deathbed T     .  .   peered across the room at his father. Thank Him always and praise His name. Let Him enter your heart! Be thou a shrine unto Him. And may its gem bring you luck. chose you to be king. We need a new man there. And keep an eye on your enemies. But replace Joab— if you can—as head of the army. Put Ab-hiram in charge of building the Temple. “As for tips on governing. Father?” “Come over here. closer. Keep His commandments—and go further. I have a basic piece of advice: delegate authority! Let Shavsha and the others manage your kingdom. And let Zadok have his way in religious matters. “And remember the charge I have given you. Closer. “You sent for me. king of the Ammonites —before you were born. and the wherewithal. You are to build a temple—a house for the Lord. They know what they are doing—let them do it. I have some things to say to you. Make yourself worthy of His providence. “And remember that  Most High. Build it for Him. wear it in health.

others too will slouch—and be lax in their duties. if its ruler is righteous. A king must look like a king. Father. So that’s your main job. It has enjoyed ’s favor—and will continue to do so. my son.  be with you. If you slouch.      “I have left you with a kingdom that is strong and pros- perous. Be strong and courageous. I’ve had my lapses. What else was there? O yes—pay attention to your posture. If he obeys ’s laws. And it’s not an easy one—believe me.”  .” “I will try.

” “But your coming is so sudden—so abrupt. sooner or later. “Where is your father?” “My father? Why.  “Now hand me my lyre.” “I sent them. Hand it to me and go. “It is you then.” said the Angel of Death.” “I received no messengers!” said David. Quite dead.” Solomon lay the instrument in his lap and left. alas.” “Those were my messengers! My reminders that I come for all men.” “Messengers? I received no messengers.” he said. Gone to the grave. • The Angel of Death stepped in through the window and approached the bed.  . “Come to take me away?” “I’m afraid so. Why do you ask?” “And your mother? Where is she?” “She too is dead. Repeatedly. You could have given me a warning. both of them. “It is I. he died—long ago. I sent messengers. And now I have come for you. But you ignored them. to let you know I was coming.” “And Absalom. your comrade in arms? And Adino the Eznite? And brave Ira? And Igal?” “All dead. slapping the lyre. Why must you arrive in this fashion?” “How else might I have arrived?” “The same as my other visitors—by having yourself announced.” “But I did warn you. I wish to strum on it for a while.” “And Eleazar. David stopped playing and lowered the lyre.” “And your brothers Abinadab and Shammah?” “Deceased. That I might have braced myself—prepared for your coming— confessed my sins and prayed for my soul. your eldest son?” “Dead.

 . He ruled for forty years With fairness.* • The mourners fell silent as Zadok entered the bedcham- ber. whose riffs and rhapsodies * A different (and less plausible) account of David’s demise is found in the Talmud. a man of might Who put to rout the noxious Philistines. Goliath of Gath And left the fellow shorter by a head. David put down his book and went to investigate the source of the noise. no. David let out a gasp and died. however. the Angel of Death resorted to cun- ning. But when the day came. it collapsed. This was a warrior. So David began to study Torah continuously every Sabbath—aware that the Angel of Death was powerless over anyone reading a holy text.      You’re on my list for tonight. “Come. it’s time. As he descended a stairway.” And he touched David on the forehead. Z: This was a king.” said the Angel of Death. mercy. too. With a somber mien he stood before the body and began the eulogy. that the death would come on a Sabbath. flung it over his shoulder.  did reveal. Beneath David’s window grew some trees. piety and prayer. The Angel of Death lifted David’s soul. What would it be?” “You know that maiden who was brought to my bed? Who was supposed to restore my life force via love-making?” “What about her?” “Could I have one last try?” “No.  replied that such knowledge is given to no man. making a loud noise. Who fought their boastful giant. Supposedly. he had asked  to tell him the date of his death. This was a harpist. Then he asked: “Do I get a final request?” “I sometimes grant them. and he died of a broken neck. The Angel of Death shook them.” David pondered for a moment. and departed.

Raised ’s banner from its battlements. Z: Our bodies do not wake from out this sleep As everlasting as the sea is deep. Who took a sleepy hamlet on a hill And did transform it to a capital— A royal seat for both our sovereigns: For the mortal who rules this tiny land. But most of all. if David’s harp be stilled! This was a poet. my friends—the music’s gone! What use be ears. And brought within its walls our Holy Ark. while the Book of Nehemiah locates the tomb on the southern hill of the city. this was a pious soul Whose prayers did rise like doves to Heaven’s gate And who has now gone soaring after them— Leaving us this shell. B: Let’s bury him with his beloved lyre In case he waketh and should want to play. who sinned repeatedly And just as often would repent his ways!— His nature. of his ills. And for the  who governs all the world. Zadok shook his head and gestured at the deceased king. and was buried in the City of David [Jerusalem]”. Beyond these scant refer-  . This was a man. both cause and cure.  Did soothe our souls and ease our mortal days. What’s truly David shall not be interred. this empty husk To bury in the tomb he did prepare In grim anticipation of this day.* * Where was David laid to rest? The Book of Kings states sim- ply that “David slept with his fathers. In the morning to that tomb we’ll march And to the earth return these mute remains. This was a conqueror. O what a loss. who took this town.  save his soul and speed it heavenward. who did bequeath to us A treasure-trove: his golden book of psalms.

The custodian was low- ered into the tomb. It had been handed to him. It contains a stone monument. he said. declared the Pasha. observes Josephus. by a fig- ure who had appeared in a burst of light—a man wearing a crown—King David himself! Today. He tells of two workmen who were repairing a church on Mount Zion. The Pasha then summoned the chief rabbi and ordered him to select a Jew. of Jerusalem. There are. to be lowered into the tomb to retrieve the sword. He was paying a visit to David’s tomb: a subterranean cavern visible through an opening in the ground. intending to plunder it. the man was dead. Terrified. a number of legends. The pair fled in terror and reported their find to the Patriarch. King of Israel. After a moment’s thought. he tells us. whose velvet cov- ering bears the motto “David. (In vain. his sword slipped from his belt and disappeared into the depths. to expiate his transgression. A second guard met the same fate. A tale is told of the Pasha. The earliest is found in Josephus. warned the Pasha. Herod beat a hasty retreat and resealed the tomb. a popular destination in Jerusalem is King David’s Tomb—an ancient building on Mount Zion that purports to be his burial place. a medieval traveler who visited Jerusalem. He consulted a rabbi. a man known for his piety. And he built a mon- ument in front of it.) We next hear of the tomb from Benjamin of Tudela. who identified the cave as the tomb of King David. Beneath a crumbling wall they discovered a cave. As he peered in. or Turkish governor. containing a crown and scepter. nothing is known of the burial place. To retrieve it. was filled with treasure—gold and silver that King Herod coveted. killing several of the men. Not wishing to disturb it. But should the attempt fail. would not harm one of his own people. When drawn back up. the Pasha had one of his guards lowered into the tomb on a rope.      ences. a flame burst forth. the rabbi selected the custodian of the synagogue. So one night Herod and his men secretly broke into the tomb. As they approached the sepulcher. the Patriarch had the cave sealed up. When drawn back up. the Jews of the city would suffer. and a third. pointing out that his fortunes declined there- after. But during the Ottoman era it seems to have resurfaced. lives!” And though almost certainly a medieval basilica. The tomb of David. he had the sword— but was trembling. King David’s Tomb is held  . The ghost of David. however.

and he beholds King David. What has it been like for David. he must bathe in a spring outside the entrance and utter the Holy Name. Before entering. something awak- ens him—a noise.  in reverence by Jews.  . An occasional pilgrim comes to King David’s Cavern. dozing on the couch. is to be found King David’s Cavern. But from time to time. and Muslims alike. or a disturbing thought. Therein he lies sleeping on an ivory couch. And the melancholy strains reverberate in the dark.) In the vicinity of Luz. But was the tomb even located in Jerusalem? An intriguing legend places it near Luz. or an ache. Christians. It has been the site of miracles. we are told. (For more on that fabled city. asleep in that cave? Mostly he dreams of past glories. Near at hand are his crown and lyre—ready for the day on which he shall awaken and resume his kingship. see chap- ter . And he rises for a while and strums upon his lyre. the cavern fills with light. As he enters.

For twenty-five years I served your father as vizier.” And with a tinkling of his bells.  . That kingdom is yours now. and reading the morning report. To that end.” said the High Priest.   Visitors K        . Or you may wish to replace me with a younger. when there was a knock on the door. “Come in.” said Zadok. as they say.” “By all means. Your Highness. You may wish to dispense altogether with a vizier and govern directly—a ‘hands-on’ approach.” he called out. I trust you slept well? Look. or lackadaisically—is up to you.” “Most willingly shall I do so. “And I know the week of mourning has only just expired.” “Good. A priestly procession will escort you there. “Good morning. “That’s several days’ work! If we manage to dispatch one every five minutes. I oversaw the governance of his kingdom—managed its day-to-day affairs—ran things in a businesslike fashion. But an important matter needs to be dis- cussed.” “Divine approval must be sought for your kingship. it would still take—” He was interrupted by another knock. let me get right to the point. or liber- ally. “I’ll let you know when we have scheduled a date. How you go about governing it—autocratically. and you will preside over the sacrifice of a thousand bullocks. we are going to celebrate a festival of sacrifice. And Zadok came bustling in. “My apologies for stopping by so early in the day. he exited the chamber. And Shavsha entered. more progressive man. The festival is to be held at the sanctuary at Gibeon. “A thousand bullocks?” said Solomon. New blood.

Your father has bequeathed to you not merely a kingdom.  In either case. just give the word and I shall step down. stay on. So we need to establish—for the sake of stability—an extensive network of treaties and alliances.” “I’m listening. “Ah. to a limited extent. If such be the case.” “The situation is this. We are a regional power now. but an empire.” “Gladly. I would be pleased to stay on as vizier and contribute what I can to the success of your regime. I shall retire to my estate and tend sheep instead of men. We have allies and vassals. and diplomacy I know nothing. Sire. politics. Of governance.” Solomon looked at him blankly.”  . There’s an important mat- ter we need to discuss. I’ve started doing that. It’s something I tried to get your father to do. As I served your father. As for replacing you with someone young and progressive—a bad bargain! Trade your wealth of experience for the tinsel of untried ideas? Exchange a seasoned pot for an unprimed pan? No way. it is conceivable that you wish to retain my services. so shall I serve you —loyally and diligently.” “Go on.” “I’d like to propose a new strategy for our foreign policy. That succes- sor sits before me. Please. and hopefully will see the wisdom of what I am about to propose.” “Wish to retain your services? Shavsha. From the royal family of each kingdom with which we have rela- tions. but he refused —said it would have to wait for his successor. “Through royal marriages. rivals and enemies.” said Shavsha. I beg you to stay. I need a skilled and practiced hand to govern in my behalf. Now I assume you know how such alliances are best secured and sustained. I see. But I would like to do so in earnest.” “We would arrange for you to take on wives. And with your permission. On the other hand. I’d like to begin that service right now.

You will be called upon to make difficult decisions. Darius Codomannus. To provide leadership in times of crisis. as you begin your reign. If it’s for the good of the country. I shall begin to arrange these marriages.” “So you would have a multitude of wives—a sizable harem—living with you here in the palace. Nathan. So King Solomon wound up with a thou- sand wives! The figure was probably inflated (by a chronicler seeking to inflate Solomon’s reputation). There will be pitfalls galore. They would be of diverse nationalities. “Dozens of wives?”* There was another knock on the door. congratula- tions on assuming the throne. Be righteous. and He’ll keep you on course. religions.” “I see. and He’ll reward you. . Your first bride could be arriving as early as next month. and He’ll hear you. to begin with. the harems of Oriental mon- archs did tend to be large. And Solomon.” he said. Amenhote is recorded to have accu- mulated  spouses. Pray to Him.” “I have always valued your advice. Am I interrupting anything? I just came by to give you my blessing. And to offer some words of advice. “No one told me about this.      “How many wives are we talking about?” “Several dozen.” Shavsha bowed and departed. Occupying a throne—particu- larly that of Israel—is a frightful responsibility.” “Excellent. How are you to proceed? Let  be your compass. Still.” * The final count (according to the Book of Kings) was  wives and  concubines. More as the geopolitics evolve. Let me congratulate you in advance. Concubines were actually a type of wife. And in came the prophet Nathan. Is this something you’re prepared to deal with?” “I guess so.” “Then listen to me now. and temperaments. Solomon sat there with a look of dismay. of lesser status. To set a moral example. It will be both a pleasure and a privilege to serve you as vizier. Solomon. “Greetings.  .

“Are you busy. “What have I got myself into?” A knock sounded. “The Singing Guards.” And casting a stern eye upon him. Keep that in mind. a wife rose to power by arranging that her son. And Bathsheba came gliding in. rather than by one of his wives. or wish to destroy the monarchy. “Pitfalls galore?” said Solomon.  Nathan pronounced a blessing. As you establish your authority. She was wearing a diamond tiara: the crown of the Queen Mother. suc- ceeded to the throne.” Benaiah ushered in a half-dozen palace guards. Awkwardly.* “I’m here to give you some words of warning. Sire?” “No. We’re kind of the unofficial chorus of the Palace Guard. Then he wagged an admonitory finger and departed. As the saying goes: A king’s best insurance is a crowded dungeon. Each had a red plume on his helmet.” “I’m not alone.” * The office of queen was held by the mother of an Oriental monarch. when there came another knock. With a sigh of resignation he refilled his tea cup. You must not hesitate to act against such persons.” said Benaiah. “We’re a musical group. And we’ve got a song we’d like to perform for you. shaking his head. you’re bound to make enemies. Please come in.  .” said Bath- sheba. Thus. she departed the chamber. Mother?” “Governing is no game—it’s a serious business. “A crowded dungeon!” said Solomon. And he was taking a sip. we call ourselves. “Warning. not that of another wife. May we intrude upon you for a moment?” “Certainly. Some of my fellow guards are here with me. There will be those who covet your crown. Captain. they arranged them- selves in a row. “Yes?” Benaiah poked his head in.

most effective force! “Who watched o’er King David And now shall guard his son? Who for mindless loyalty Are not to be outdone? “Who are we talkin’ about? The Palace Guard. “Let’s hear it. non-effete. “Who is it roam the corridors And keep an eagle eye For any mischief that’s afoot To thwart it.” Swaying rhythmically. most effective force!  .      “I could use a song. non-effete. non-effete. non-effete. most effective force! “Who patrol the palace grounds To keep intruders out? Check the rooftops every hour Or roughly thereabout? “Who are we talkin’ about? The Palace Guard. of course! An e-lite. by-and-by? “Who are we talkin’ about? The Palace Guard. most effective force! “Who can you count on In times of civil strife To scramble for their weapons And bravely guard your life? “Who are we talkin’ about? The Palace Guard. of course! An e-lite. of course! An e-lite. the Singing Guards began to sing. of course! An e-lite.” said Solomon.

” * The Palace Guard played an important role in the political intrigues of the time. And he murmured: “To be a king. Its members had originally been recruited from David’s band of mercenaries.  “And who have come to wish you The very best of luck? As you begin your kingship— And with these lads are stuck! “Who are we talkin’ about? The Palace Guard. non-effete.  . Left alone. He looked out upon the rooftops of the city. the Guard was loyal to the king. Comprised largely of foreigners (Cherethites and Pelethites—thought to be Cretans and Phil- istines). And they filed out of the chamber. indeed. Solomon went to his window. most effective force!”* The Singing Guards bowed. ’tis not a game. rather than to a tribe or faction. Nothing hence- forth is to be the same. Solomon thanked them. of course! An e-lite.

They were raising a festive din. And bringing up the rear of the procession were ordinary Israelites—hundreds of them. Two centuries later. and tambourine. an asherah ( ). lyre. Prior to its conversion. or sacred stone. the site would also have featured an idol. Gibeon replaced Shiloh (which had been destroyed by the Philistines) as the main Israelite sanctuary. usually located on hilltops (where the gods were deemed to dwell). cymbals.* • Solomon and Benaiah were seated on a bench outside the royal tent. Gibeon came into view. including Zadok in full regalia. When Joshua conquered the Gibeonites. And the priests began to chant a prayer. on which the ritu- als were conducted. these sites had been taken over by the con- quering Israelites and converted to the worship of Yahweh. and an incense burner. perched on the royal donkey. or bamot ( ). Behind them marched more priests. a masseba ( ). Found- ed by the Canaanites.   Gibeon A         Gibeon. with trumpet. On the platform were an altar for sacrifice. And so it remained—known as “the great high place”—until superseded by the Temple. The sanctuary at Gibeon had originally been devoted to a local deity. six miles away. he rededicated their shrine to Yahweh. A high place consisted of a raised platform. For they were approaching a hilltop sanctuary— one of the high places of the land. flute. passed a procession. or sacred pole. They were sipping wine. * The high places. Then came King Solomon. The king was flanked by guards and followed by scores of courtiers. Lead- ing it were a band of priestly musicians. in a holiday mood. were sacred sites.  .

 . Then he told me I could go—that he’d preside.” said Benaiah. bullocks were led up from the pens. “For a sacrifice to be effective. drinking. People were eating. Meanwhile.” “That’s the point. and one by one. Frankly. One by one. and dancing. I know this is necessary.” said Solomon. The air was pun- gent with roasted flesh. I was glad to get away. he handed me some incense and said to drop it in the fire. Zadok and his priests were busy at the altar. but it’s so sanguinary. The musi- cians were rousing the crowd with a lively beat.” From a distance they watched as the sacrifices were per- formed. “When I asked what I was supposed to do. they were ritually slaughtered and burnt.  “Zadok let me off easy. The cries of the bullocks mingled with the sounds of merriment. the festival had gotten underway. blood must be shed. Life force must be expended.

” “A gift from ?” murmured Solomon. offered up to  with the same fervor and seriousness of purpose. These gifts implored His blessing or thanked Him for past mercies. Like a vassal rendering tribute to an overlord. Gifts were offered up to . and only a handful of priests remained. ) was the essential act of worship. near the site of their ancient sanctuary. Yahwehists) who continued to practice sacrifice were the Samar- itans. as expressions of grat- itude and homage. They were also expiatory—acts of atone- ment for sin. Name what you would have.) It was replaced by prayer and study. From somewhere came the sound of a flute. The hilltop sanctuary glim- mered under the stars. The smell of burnt offerings hung in the air. With the destruction of the Temple. of course. one acknowledged the debt. smoke rose into the sky. Most of the celebrants had departed. (Or more precisely. The Temple sacrifices were superseded by a consummate blood- offering: Jesus on the Cross.      And the sacrifice of a thousand bullocks—a tenfold heca- tomb. “To reward your piety. The implicit idea was that one’s possessions came from Him. Flames flickered on the altar. finishing up the sacrifices. And they were a way of communing with . To this day the Samaritans (of whom about  remain) sacrifice a lamb during Passover.  . The only Jews (or rather. and it shall be granted.The angel Uriel was standing over him.” said Uriel. one expressed one’s submission and obedience. in the jargon of the priests—continued at the altar. by returning a small portion of them. Also emerging from Yahwehism. He offers you a gift in return. “The Lord is pleased with the gifts you have sent up to Him. Inside the royal tent Solomon was sleeping. sacrifice (korban. They do so at an altar on Mount Gerizim. sacrifice ceased to be a part of Judaism. Yahwehism became Judaism. It is the sole sur- viving high place. was Christianity. Suddenly he awoke.* • Night had come to Gibeon. “But what * In ancient Israel.

the ancient centers of knowledge. Wisdom was deemed to arise from learning. and all the wisdom of Egypt. even as the sand that is on the sea shore. And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country.” “Wisdom” includes both practical intelligence and moral dis- cernment.” Solomon thought for a moment. For the Lord is pleased with your peti- tion.” “An excellent choice.” The angel smiled and departed. than Ethan the Ezrahite. The passage reads like a campaign ad for King Solomon.  should I ask for?” “That’s up to you. As for Ethan the Ezrahite and the sons of Mahol. Then he said: “I would have wisdom. “It was hoped you would ask for something like that. Solomon was bouncing along on the donkey.* • The royal party was traveling back to Jerusalem. And Solomon fell back asleep. And here’s a further blessing. The Lord has made me king over a people. that I may rule this people wisely and judge them according to truth. they were evidently local pundits of renown. Might the opening chapters of the Book of Kings have been written under his patronage?  . Wisdom—you shall have it! And because you requested wisdom—rather than riches or glory or long life—those things too shall be granted you. But I am young and inexperienced. and Heman and Chalcol and Darda. So Solomon is ranked here with the wise men of Babylon and Egypt. while “understanding” refers to mental acumen—the powers of reasoning and deduction. ] and under- standing [tavuna.” said Uriel. ] exceeding much. Grant me wisdom and understanding. the sons of Mahol. Tossed in as a bonus. For he was wiser than all men. Marching alongside * The Book of Kings describes the result of Solomon’s request: “And  gave Solomon wisdom [chokhma. He promises that the House of David shall prosper—for so long as its represent- ative is righteous and keeps His commandments. and his fame was in all nations round about. and largeness of heart.

melodious of voice. What would you have asked for. skilled at cook- ing. Apparently. what I’m likely to get instead!”  . sympathetic. For it was promised to me along with several bonuses—riches. that was the right thing to ask for. “A visitation. Or else…” “Yes?” “For the fortitude to accept. terrific! You must have been pleased. The satisfaction you get from solv- ing a riddle? It was like that. “I had a vision last night. I thought about it for a moment—and chose wisdom.” said Solomon. But that I had come up with the correct answer.      him was Benaiah. Then he said: “Maybe for the perfect wife—beautiful.” “Really?” said Benaiah. and long life. Benaiah?” Benaiah thought for a moment. obedient.” “Hey.” “Indeed I was. “He gave me a choice of any gift I desired. By an angel. But it’s funny—do you know what pleased me most?” “What?” “Not the benefits I was promised. glory. with good grace.

  Tutmosa A        . Down the lane rolled the urn.   Egyptian handmaiden peeked out into the night. Rolling it onto a lane that descended into the city. she checked to see if anyone was watching. Then she rolled a large urn out the door. she gave the urn a kick. With a clatter it trundled  . Looking about.

Another strikes a gong whenever the Great  . “So that very afternoon I’m hopping on my horse and galloping westward. He heaved a sigh of relief. he’s beardless and bare-chested. the wretched inns. That’s his entire job! There are slaves all about. For a while Borak lay there groaning. with flaps that come down over his ears. As Borak entered. One is fanning the Pharaoh. is lounging on his throne. “Brother Borak!” said Gorash.” When the ale arrived. Then he wobbled to his feet and shook himself. in his palace at Thebes! “The Great One. Finally the urn struck a wall and shattered—revealing its contents. he stag- gered through the moonlit streets and made his way to Zuki’s tavern. he heard his name called out. Another is serenading him with a lyre. as he’s known. For a crown he’s got on this weird headdress. and the Egyptian ambassador. But finally. Order me a drink and I’ll tell you about it. But till this moment no sign of you. Shav- sha. Waving to him from a rear table was Gorash. cupbearer—a high official who just stands there holding a cup. “I heard you were back from Egypt—escorting that princess. in an urn. A cat sprang out of the way. Where have you been?” “For the last hour. he began his tale. Flanking him are his vizier and his cup- bearer. it rolled past deserted stalls and shuttered shops.      down the hill. Amid the broken pieces lay Borak the messenger. there I am: standing before Sheshonk. Despite the late hour. the boat- ride up the Nile. Borak downed it and ordered another. a month ago I was summoned to the throne room. “As you’ll recall. Pharaoh of Egypt. Shavsha handed me a message and told me I was to bear it to Egypt—deliver it to the Pharaoh himself. Zuki’s was crowded. And gazing soulfully at Gorash. Dazed from his ride. Like most Egyptians. Yes. Like a runaway cart. I won’t bore you with the details of the journey—the dusty roads. Awaiting me there were King Solomon. Borak tottered over and joined his fellow messenger.

Then they send the cupbearer off to find someone—apparently. about King Solomon. And she’s leading a monkey along on a leash. to help you deal with the afterlife?’ She replies that a person is buried with his favorite snacks and beverages.  One makes a pronouncement. of course. the monkey. with a list of garrisons and inns for stopping at overnight. about Israelites. But it clearly interests them. to satisfy the cravings of his soul. By the way. she’s got a tattoo on her arm and a nose ring. And Tutmosa is told to get ready to go. There we are furnished with horses and provisions. who reads it to She- shonk. too. For the message was a marriage proposal! In the interest of improved relations. the princess is constantly asking me questions. are you wondering how I was able to  . A royal galley takes us down the Nile to Memphis. “He returns with a young woman. to discuss the details. They seem amused. “I hand the message to the vizier. as if the whole business were a prank being played on King Solomon. the fellow is used for errands. They exchange mischievous looks and start to chuckle. I’m surprised at how swiftly this is happening—at how eager they seem to marry the princess off.’ I inquire. And. I’m happy to answer her questions. a priestess. They whisper and nod. This exotic personage. She’s full of curiosity—about Jerusalem. two handmaidens. whose hair is dyed green. And they’re taking him up on the offer. “Our ambassador is summoned. And we set out on the highway. ‘that you Egyptians get buried with a keg of ale. and myself. so I don’t understand a word. a contin- gent of soldiers. And I ask a few of my own. The Pharaoh discusses something with her. Solomon has offered to wed a daughter of Pharaoh’s. It’s in Egyptian. She seems excited by the prospect of living in a strange land. about our customs and beliefs. ‘Is it true. I soon learn. “Now as we travel. She’s one of Sheshonk’s daughters—and has just been selected as a bride for King Solomon. Our party con- sists of Tutmosa. Can you imagine? Moreover. is Princess Tutmosa. “The next day we depart for Jerusalem.

Jews would again speak Aramaic. troubles. I’m not responsible for his debts. The original habiru spoke Aramaic. see Pyramid Power by Max Toth and Greg Nielsen (Destiny Books.* “I find the princess to be lively and likeable—but some- what flaky. I call her. But I’m also getting to know one of her hand- maidens—an Amorite slave named Murta. And when I look at her blankly. Thus. Israelite soldiers replace the * Hebrew and Canaanite were essentially the same language. for example. an Israelite and a Canaanite would have carried on a conversation in their mutual tongue. ‘who do you think you were in a previous lifetime?’ ‘No idea. ‘I’m a tsouris. She’s into all this New Age stuff. “And get this.’ she asks me. But upon settling in Canaan. She’s keen on astrology. she explains: ‘It’s a technique for expand- ing your consciousness. which became the lingua franca of the region.’ she says. ‘I’ll bet you’re a Taurus. For more on this New Age practice. ‘Borak.      communicate with the princess? She speaks our language. cures colds. ‘No. with canvas sides and a wooden frame- work. I become acquainted with the princess. the soldiers set it up for her. The cosmic energy that a pyramid attracts? I tune into that. the goddess of love. and she disappears inside for a while. The princess is traveling with a pyramid. It’s a kind of tent.  .) † Yiddish for woes. ‘But whoever it was. and so on. (A thousand years later.’ she says.’ I reply with a grin.’** “So as the journey proceeds. ). She and I are spending the nights together.’ And she talks about the female deity she wor- ships—Hathor. Her mother’s a Canaanite—a concubine of Pharaoh’s—and Tutmosa grew up bilingual. the Semitic language of Mes- opotamia. ** According to its advocates. they adopted the native language.’ I reply. “Finally we reach the border. we’re not dis- cussing astrology! My amorous Amorite. and believe me. Wherever we stop for the night. sitting in a pyramid enhances psychic abilities. I ask her what she does in there. and wants to know my sign. ‘I meditate. promotes a sense of well-being. difficulties.’ † And she’s a believer in reincarnation.

We embrace and trade kisses. At the palace Tutmosa is welcomed by King Solomon. and escort us the rest of the way. she says. so for several days I don’t get to see her. And a ceremonial urn. She cocks an ear and lis- tens. “It’s my first time inside the thing. which gets set up in a courtyard. in order to keep see- ing Murta. with an inviting look in her eye. Tutmosa is approaching—along with  . Murta is kept busy. “A suite of rooms has been prepared for the princess. Murta shuts her eyes and starts humming. it says. and the betrothal is announced. But I’m already feeling a surge of energy—and believe me. I hasten over. I’ve decided to stick around for a while.  Egyptian. along with her handmaidens. I ask her what she’s doing. and there’s Murta. Sure. the goddess of love. She informs me that her mistress is having dinner with King Solomon—a get-acquainted affair—and won’t be back until late. There’s a mat. “But suddenly Murta freezes. I say. “Preparations begin immediately for the marriage feast. upon which the prin- cess meditates. I peer into the urn and it’s empty. and urges me to try too. with the goddess of love looking on. So we lift the flap and go in. “I’m wondering where we can go for some privacy. A censer for burning incense. Trying to feel the cosmic energy. For I’ve been smitten. Meet me by the pyramid. for gifts to the goddess. She moves in. Murta explains to me the various furnishings. ‘O no!’ she says. As for me. We grapple—right there on the meditation mat. “We sit down together on the mat. priestess. when Murta asks if I’d like a tour of the pyramid. Though it is about to receive a special offering. pushing me away. And I’m pining with desire! But then—this evening—I receive a note from her. “And then we’re both feeling it. A statue of Hathor. and mon- key—and her pyramid. I head over to the servants’ wing and grab a bunk. it’s far from cosmic. ‘My mistress is returning!’ “And sure enough.

Murta. ‘but are forbidden to pay them homage. ‘Wow.’ says Solomon.’  . unable to bear it any longer. I just sit on the meditation mat and let it flow through me. She points to the urn and whispers: ‘In there.’ says Tutmosa. And to absorb cosmic energy. “‘I hope Hathor won’t be a problem. They start having a conversation. Murta and I jump to our feet. “‘This is my pyramid.’ says Tutmosa. And over there is Hathor.’ ‘‘‘We acknowledge their existence.’ “‘She looks very intense. But I’m also suf- focating. stuffed in the urn.’ she says. I explode with a sneeze. Non-Israelites among us are free to worship their gods.’ says Tut- mosa. ‘I’ve heard that foreign gods aren’t recognized in Jerusalem.’ “King Solomon expresses hope that she’ll be happy in her new home. ‘Madam. that are required of him as king. I inhale deeply and lower my head back into the urn. I poke my head up for air. I’m entombed like a mummy! And just a few cubits away are King Solomon and Tutmosa.’ says Solomon. And I can’t help listening in. I can hear their voices.’ ‘Thank you.’ And I hear her scurry off. Dusting the goddess and whatnot. they’re facing the other way. I’ve got to sneeze. I’m really into the goddess. And he promises to see her as often as pos- sible—apologizing for the fact that he already has three wives and will be acquiring more in the future. But put yourself at ease. the goddess of love.      King Solomon. Unbelievably. he explains. Fortunately. She’s the daughter of Nut and Ra. And finally. These are marriages. I try to repress it. ‘I come here to meditate. Hathor sneezed. I can’t breathe. “But then a new problem arises. “So there I am. ‘You may go. “For a moment there’s silence in the pyramid. Then Tutmosa says. “From my hiding place. “I’m listening to all this with interest. quickly!’ “I climb in. But to no avail. I hear Murta speak with the princess. ‘I’ve been tidying up. cramming myself into the urn just as they enter the pyramid. I can’t move.

 “‘The statue sneezed?’ says Solomon.” said Borak.’ “‘I welcome her blessing. And turning the urn on its side. It’s been quite an eve- ning.’ says Solomon. They clinked their goblets and drank. Let’s drink to her.” declares the Sec- ond Commandment—the implication being that such gods have a reality but are to be ignored. I stagger off toward Zuki’s. amid the raucous din of the tavern. “‘We’ve got to get you away from here. let’s go have dinner. instead of Murta. among the gods?” Other gods were granted an existence.” “To the goddess of love. not by an Israelite.” Borak sighed deeply. “The next thing I know. I can’t believe this is happening. A harrowing experience! When I regain my senses.* * The essence of Judaism is monotheism: a belief in the exis- tence of One  only. she rolls it out of the pyramid.” said Gorash. but were deemed inferior to Yahweh. When I’m sure they’re gone. And in the Book of Exodus the escaping Israelites sing: “Who is like unto Thee. With me still inside! My brain is spinning.’ “‘You know what?’ says Tutmosa. And they were not to be worshiped —at least. “Before I can object.’ “‘Remarkable. I stick my head up for air. Yet the ancient Israelites were actually what theologians call henotheists: worshipers of a single deity. And I’m gulping it down—when Murta slips back in. Maybe that goddess of love will help you out. O . “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. I’m rolling down a hill and crashing into a wall. “‘No.’ she whispers. she shoves me back down. So here I am—with you for company. As Solomon explains to Tutmosa:  . who nonetheless acknowledge the existence (if not the power) of other deities. ‘That must have been her way of blessing us. ‘Come. “But don’t despair.’ “They exit the pyramid. the goddess. “The course of true love never did run smooth.

” But eventually the idea took hold that  Most High was the sole divine being.’” reports Isaiah. but are forbidden to pay them homage.)  . the Israelites had become strict monotheists. “‘I am  and there is none else.’” And by the time of the Babylonian Exile.      “We acknowledge their existence. This view was promulgated by the prophets. (And frequent backsliders—as in the above libation to the god- dess of love. “‘There is none besides Me.

wealthy mer- chants.   . and the throne room was packed.  . the din reverberated from the stone walls. Waving to people he knew. S: For three years now has Solomon been king. With a shepherd’s ever-watchful eye And leading them. Then Shavsha addressed the crowd. where the sun doth rise Upon the might of our imperium. And with them on the dais were Shavsha and Zadok. truth be told) To happy pastures of prosperity.   . the herald blew on his trum- pet. As they palavered and exchanged news. military officers. Indeed. with wisdom rare to youth (And even to us graybeards. high-ranking priests. would David have been duly proud To see with what aplomb and skillfulness His heir has shepherded the teeming flock That is our nation and its satellites. government officials. restless and far-flung. Zadok recited a prayer. When the hall had quieted. By gentler means the son has carried on— Tending his subjects. and a desert chieftain who had brought his camel into the hall.   State of the Kingdom A . Stretching from the beaches of two seas Unto Euphrates. Pressed together were notables from throughout the land: tribal elders. At a signal from Shavsha. King Solomon was perched on the throne. By force of arms did David forge this realm. On a chair beside him sat Bathsheba. And of his kingship men do speak such praise As might a parent of a worthy son. For to an untried youth was left a prize: The largest empire ’twixt Egypt and the Medes.

too. This is a peace that hopefully will last. Now overflow with rising revenues From trade and tribute—and from collected tolls. then. For all the trade routes of Arabia Do pass within the borders of our realm. He gestured to Solomon. our former foes. For which we thank this youthful sovereign From whom let us now hear.      Ably. who rose from the throne and addressed the assembly. Our fighting men enjoy a well-earned rest. Such. The royal coffers. Like lions they do lounge. already crammed with loot. As for commerce. Prosperity and plenty trickle down Till ’neath his fig tree every man may sit And savor his good fortune. like a king. ours is a rising star. our nation as it stands today: A land of peace and shared prosperity. Our borders are secure. Your brief report was positive and plain. His family grows withal into a crowd! And growing too is our economy. Yet is this wealth not to the crown confined. S: Thank you. Yet as upon this ivory throne of mine  . has this sovereign Bound himself in matrimonial chains To the daughters of a score of kings. and purr with pride At famous victories by their valor wrought. where gold is mined. Ships that fly our flag now ply the seas From fabled Tarshish in the distant west To Ophir in the south. For as the royal coffers overflow. Shavsha. has he preserved the peace. Vanquished—conquered—chastened—vassalized. And to establish bonds of amity With their houses.

as they deserve. our Pax Hebraicus. I thought indignantly: this rogue speaks false. not me. Our ships that sail the highways of the sea— And credit gave for that long list of gains Unto this useless warmer of a seat. Praise the clerk. Yet elsewhere still should credit truly go. Praise instead the farmer. Let us rather bow our heads and thank The source of all good fortune in this world:  Most High. S: For you described our grand accomplishments— Our stunning wealth. For the moment we’ve merited His grace. my friends. Pray. Sir. who risks his life and limb Upon the grievous fields where armies clash. by their righteousness And grants them good or ill. On them. Not to me. think it not self-serving modesty If I insist—from simple honesty— That credit for our attainments elsewhere go. This human hat-rack for his father’s crown. pin your badge of praise For all that we’ve achieved these last few years. Praise the sailor. that it not be replaced  . whose daily sweat Waters the earth that grants us sustenance. who from a dreary desk Our enterprise doth guide and organize. who in his flimsy bark Braves the storms and monsters of the deep. the common Israelites Who swink and labor for the greater good. Solomon waved for silence and continued. who from His heavenly throne Doth judge all nations. were they due But to the labors and abilities Of all the faithful servants of the realm. A nervous murmur coursed through the hall.     I sat and listened to your honeyed words. a sluggard. Praise the soldier. sir. Praise them all.

Solomon sat back down. eating a sandwich. there’s something I’d like to discuss with you. Solomon hailed him. silhouetted against the sky. ’Tis good to have you here. he approached the altar. Abiathar was sitting on the stool. Let’s heed his words and always seek to tread The path of godly deeds and righteousness. Throughout the day we’ll convocate and talk. my friends. • A solitary figure in the dark. You have come These many miles to meet and to confer— To help establish future policy.”  . S: Like a sage the son of David speaks. “Greetings. Arriving at the summit. Shavsha stepped forward again. Break down now into separate groups. An acolyte was raking embers.” “Go on. Solomon climbed Mount Moriah. to a feast we’ll walk— A celebration of our nation’s rise! Till then let’s chat.” said Solo- mon. let us know your needs. and I had to get away. But come the night. Voice your views. with its noisy debates. Above him. unannounced and unaccom- panied?” “I have fled the kahal.      By His wrath—the lashings of His whip That to the sinful and the godless go. and socialize. “They continue into this late hour. And now. debate. “What brings you here this evening. to business. youthful monarch.” said the priest. loomed the Sacred Rock. Also. The assembled notables were nodding and exchanging looks of approval. To parley with us ministers of state And share with us your thoughts and your concerns.

I’m glad to hear that the time for a temple has come. But I seem now to be more or less in charge.” “Then you should do so. A proper home for the Glory of .” “Here’s why I ask.” “Excellent. my father left me with a sacred charge: the building of a temple. And I have put off that undertaking. I should seek out Melchizedek.  speed you in your task. He showed me those materials and plans. But listen to me—already I’ve become nostalgic for the place! In any case. To that end he bequeathed to me the materials and the plans. Shortly before his death. He said that when I was ready to build the temple. So I guess it’s time to build that house for . I mean?” “Do you feel it has?” “Yes. Did he ever tell you about a strange cave? Inhabited by a priest named Mel- chizedek?” “The Cave of the Ages? Indeed.” said Solomon. Yet there’s something about the mount as it is now—a simple sanctity.” “Has the time really come? To build the temple. with direc- tions to that cave.” “I had better return. he described to me his visit there. the temple will be an advance. They glimmered in the starlight. a direct link with the divine.” “Abiathar. And I shall miss this summit.” “Then evidently it has. my father took me to his treasure chamber.” he said. “We’re having a  . you were an intimate of my father’s. with its rock of power and magnificent view. “I shall miss my job as Keeper of the Altar. You were with him during his days in the wilderness. feeling a need to establish first my kingship. who would aid in its creation and give it his blessing. For three years now have I been king.” Abiathar looked out over the surrounding hills. To be sure. “You know.     “As you know. And he showed me a map.

From his capital of Jerusalem. Moab. Aram- Zabah.      feast tonight. he had also forged an empire. Inheriting this empire. having conquered Edom. and having signed treaties with Philistia and Phoenicia. and I’m to deliver the opening toast. he had established centralized rule over a sizable area. Solomon consolidated—and went beyond —the gains of his father. Amon. he headed back to the kahal. By the time of his death. * * King David had taken a confederation of tribes and trans- formed it into a nation-state. During the forty years of his reign. and Aram-Damascus.” With a thoughtful look. His kingdom was modeled on that of the pharaohs of  . he completed the transformation of a tribal society into a powerful nation.

One of his innovations was to divide the country into twelve administrative districts. Solomon developed a maritime fleet. was creat- ed. to provide his own supply of copper and iron. And it was administered by a corps of “new men”— bureaucrats and intellectuals trained in the ways of the Egyptian civil service. . purchasing horses and chariots from Egypt. A chariot corps. it would eventually number  chariots. modeled on that of Egypt. He also had mines dug. But his greatest achievement was a single building—what his- tory would remember as Solomon’s Temple. and the earliest books of the Bible may have been compiled during his reign. King Solomon ruled over a dynamic and pros- perous Israel. cavalry sol- diers were added to the ranks of the army. replacing the original tribal divisions. Literary endeavors in particular he supported. He built fortifications and other public works. Solomon was able to concentrate on increasing the national wealth. The appointed governor of each district was responsible for col- lecting taxes and conscripting laborers—resources that Solomon needed.  . and Gezer. then reselling them ( shekels for a chariot. And he became the horse-trader of the Near East.     Egypt. And like the pharaohs. Solomon established schools—to provide a scribal education for the bureaucrats needed to administer his empire. For he had embarked on an expansion of the nation’s defenses. he became a patron of the arts and sciences. he vigorously promoted commerce and industry. and fostered a wide variety of cul- tural activities. Solomon also fortified the key cities of Hazor. Aided by King Hiram of Tyre. With his borders secure and the region at peace. From this position of strength. From his earliest years as king. And he rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. For forty years.  for a horse) to kingdoms in north- ern Syria and Asia Minor. Megiddo. maintained a formidable army. he was able to maintain peaceful relations with neighboring kingdoms. and Solomon presided over them with energy and intel- ligence. The rising prosperity allowed cultural institutions to flourish. Great changes came to Israelite society during this period.

When did you wish to go there?” Solomon shrugged. He withdrew the map and handed it to Benaiah. A medieval visitor to the Holy Land. “Yes. at a level place.  - ly the padlock clicked open. He tugged open the door. And some trusted men to accompany us into the wilderness.” • The sun was rising as Solomon. Solomon located the chest his father had shown him. At dawn I’ll be ready with horses and provisions. The bins and chests glimmered in the torchlight. • They halted their horses at the entrance to a cave. Benaiah. Abbot Daniel. And followed by Benaiah. At the bottom of the cave towards the east there is an altar. which has a small window in the roof. As they traversed it. who was carrying a torch. writes: “They show you upon mount Tabor.” he said. Benaiah examined it closely.   Ring K     . and the Singing Guards rode through the North Gate and headed eastward. The door  . squinting at the map. “Tomorrow?” “Tomorrow it is.* * The cave may have been located on Mount Tabor. like a cellar.” said Benaiah. By midday they were entering a lunar landscape—a wilderness of parched earth and empty wadis. he entered the treasure chamber. an extraordinary cave cut in the rock. “This must be it. “I think we can find our way to this cave. the Singing Guards regaled the wilderness with song.

” said Melchizedek. Small fig trees grow in front of the entrance. It was cool and craggy. Squeezing through it. and around them are other kinds of trees.” (quoted in Zev Vilnay’s Legends of Palestine)  .  “I must go in alone. And he emerged into the Cave of the Ages. like that of water flowing in a brook. It awoke. From somewhere came a musical murmur.” said Solomon. What brings you here?” “The bidding of my late father. who once visited you in this cave. in a thronelike chair. A bluish glow seemed to emanate from the walls. and a giant hourglass. Near the hourglass. Set into one of the walls was a screen. and there Abraham visited him. growled at the intruder. a couch. his voice echoing from the depths of the cavern. Solomon followed the passageway. The holy Mel- chizedek dwelt in this small cave. and went back to sleep. I have of the cave is very small. Lit by torches. priest of  Most High.” “And you deem yourself ready?” “As ready as I shall ever be. Solomon crept past the bear and explored the cave. My kingship is established. I have mastered the daily routines of governance. he said a prayer and entered the cave. and you descend by steps from the west side. but now there are only small shrubs.” said Solomon. The glow was brighter here. King Solomon. he found himself in a passageway. Groping his way. “He told me to seek you out—to solicit your aid and blessing—when I was ready to build a temple. “Approach. “Greetings. Then he crossed the carpet and stood before the mysterious resident of the cav- ern. In the rear wall he noted a cleft. it was carpeted from wall to wall. sat Melchizedek. Dismounting. Just inside the entrance a bear was dozing.” Solomon hesitated for a moment. Melchizedek put aside a bowl of pretzels. “Welcome to my abode. The cavern that loomed before him had been fashioned into a residence. “I am Melchiz- edek. The furnish- ings included an icebox. there was formerly a large forest there.” he said.

I am prepared now to do so. Might not its opulence distract from. “All right. It will prove use- ful in the construction of the temple. put it on.” Solomon rubbed it. “Give Solomon the ring. I’ll aid you. And a jinni—bald.      grown accustomed to donning the crown. Apparently  desires a new home. listen. In his hand he was holding some- thing.” “Apparently so. Am I ready? I hope so. On it was a brass bottle. And stand back.” “Does  really need a fancy dwelling place?” “Our prophets seem to think so. From Dan to Beersheba we have settled the land. Go over to that table. Like a jack-in-the-box. “Rub the bottle. “This ring has great power. and clad in a vest —hovered in the air. shaking his head at the idea. the jinni  .” “And what about your people? Are they ready for a tem- ple? Should they have one?” “Why not?” said Solomon. “The nation is prosperous and at peace.” said Melchizedek. I am going to give you a tool. and our priests too. I was told to provide Him with a more substantial dwelling place—one worthy of His greatness.” Warily. and in other ways. “How exactly does it work?” he asked.” Solomon approached the table. its Divine Occupant? Any- how. It grew into a cloud that coalesced into a shape. For a moment nothing happened.” said Melchizedek. Go ahead. No longer are we habiru—footloose wanderers. Though I have reservations about this ‘worthy’ dwelling place.” Solomon slipped the ring onto a finger and peered at it. “Rub the bottle again. as I tumble out of bed in the morning. rather than glorify. the plans were revealed to my father in dreams.” said Melchizedek. Moreover. Solomon rubbed it and backed away. Yet we continue to worship  in a tent. Then a wisp of smoke rose from the bottle. “Use it wisely. rotund. The jinni handed it over and zipped back into the bot- tle.

Retracing his steps along the passageway.  reemerged.” Solomon left the Cave of the Ages. May the Lord guide you. the human heart. In each was engraved a letter—spelling out the Ineffable Name of . Now go.” said Melchizedek. Solomon’s ring was engraved with the shem ha-meforesh—the  . And they admired the ring he had been given. This time he was holding a scroll. youthful king of Israel. “Study it before using the ring. According to the Talmud (Gittin a. “Take the manual. And may He dwell within you—in that least fancy of temples. b).* * Ahimaaz’s description of the ring confirms what is known from other sources. it was set with four jewels. he tiptoed past the bear and rejoined his companions. Flashing in the sun. They listened eagerly as he described his meeting with Melchizedek.

It allowed him to communicate with animals (and even with flowers). and was inscribed “Let all living things praise .) The ring served King Solomon as a signet ring. and another to King Solomon. was not born until many centuries after the angels brought Solomon the jewels. The first jewel gave Solomon dominion over the winds. . for sealing let- ters and decrees. A hexagram or pentagram. the jewels are said to be inscribed with phrases. Solomon could summon these otherworldly spirits and make them do his bidding. see Josephus. But its most notable use involved the jinn. had been presented to Emperor Tazlovoo of Atlantis. and revealed that the stone had been brought to earth by a messenger from Sirius. of course. and Muhammad is His messenger.” The fourth gave him dominion over the jinn. So the ring may have contained a fragment of the Chintamani Stone. According to Roerich. and to fly about on a wind-borne carpet. He could also exorcise them from possessed persons. said the abbot. This ancient stone (described as a chunk of moldavite with glowing striations) had been preserved in a lamasery that Roerich visited. The anachronism can be explained by the fact that angels exist outside of time. Another fragment. The abbot presented Roerich with a fragment of it.” The second gave him dominion over birds and beasts. But it did not arise until medieval times.) Did Solomon’s ring actually contain jewels given to him by angels? After a fashion. Solomon’s Seal is the magical symbol par excellence. and was inscribed “To  [Allah] belong power and greatness. a Russian mys- tic who traveled in Tibet during the s. viii. and was inscribed “There is no god but . With it he was able to control the winds. What it did not contain was a so-called Solomon’s Seal. reports Nicholas Roerich.” along with four jewels that had been given to Solomon by angels. however. But it was also the source of his supernatural powers. and was inscribed “Heaven and earth are the servants of . appear- ing on amulets that sought an association with King Solomon  . (For the earli- est mention of the ring’s power over jinn. By means of his ring. Antiqui- ties. the ring was set with a fragment of the Chintamani Stone. And Islamic authors tell us that it con- tained “the Most Great Name of .” (Muhammad.      Ineffable Name of . In the Islamic accounts.” The third gave him dominion over earth and water.

King Solomon removed his costly rings and slipped on the ring from the junk shop.” Benaiah set out in search of the ring.” For inscribed on the ring was a Yiddish phrase:    (“This too shall pass”)  . silver ring. But when a happy man gazes upon it. And one final description of the ring has come down to us. “A ring that cheers the sad and saddens the cheerful?” said the junk dealer.” They entered the shop. “This ring has reminded me that wealth and power are fleeting things. Benaiah approached the man and described the object of his search.  and his ring. And he was about to give up when he spotted a junk shop. Inspecting it.” said Solomon. Solomon was expecting an unsuccessful—and humbled— Benaiah. he becomes happy. And he decided that Benaiah. Find this ring and bring it to me.” he said. the king was taken aback. Benaiah read the inscription. “I have heard rumors of a fabu- lous ring. The tale goes as follows: King Solomon was sitting on his throne one morning. So the king summoned Benaiah and gave him an impossible mission to fulfill. “It was I who needed a lesson in humility. From a boxful of baubles the junk dealer took a plain. inquiring as to its whereabouts. he read the inscription— and let out a melancholy sigh. needed a lesson in humility. the captain of the Palace Guard. “It has a unique power. It is found in a Yiddish folk tale. When a sad man gazes upon it. he becomes sad. He traveled from town to town. whose proprietor was sitting out front. He engraved some words on it and gave it to Benaiah. But no one had ever heard of such a ring. and headed back to the palace. So when Benaiah strode in and handed him the ring. “Come inside. nodded sagely.

it is not meant! What are its powers? Lend an ear And of their nature you shall hear. But put to purpose otherwise.   Manual K        . who has decreed That men should lives of virtue lead. Finally he unrolled the manual and read aloud: “To the user of this ring: Beware! ’Tis not a harmless thing That on thy mortal finger glows. wild or tame. For yes. For it has powers from Beyond. Shall burn the hand that thus defies The will of . To start with: Simply say the name Of any animal. Perched on the throne. he was contemplating his new ring. Thus summoned. This little band that you have donned. In his lap was the manual. friend. For mischief. this ring Doth wondrous understanding bring  . Beware the gifts this ring bestows. Its four jewels glinted in the torchlight. And from the Holy Name thereon (Than which more potent there is none) A mystic energy shall surge And with thy own volition merge. a friend to thee. shall that creature speed Into thy presence and proceed To speak with you. Beware! Like fire this potency: If used for good. Use this ring with good intent. In its jewels a cosmic force Like a fiery stream shall course.

Should you wish to walk about And stealthily some area scout. there’s more. the threatening growls. The twittering and hoots and hoos— Of all the world’s beasts and birds. Chat even with a minotaur Or unicorn! But wait. docile. the quacks and coos. gossip. And it has other uses. This instrument beyond compare. The blustering winds. too. fact—  . The ring shall rule them. make them tame— Compliant. The yaps and roars.  Of the sounds—the squeaks and howls. whom you shall pass As if you were a thing of glass. For spirits too—the unruly jinn (Of angels the less reputable kin)— Shall come to you when called by name. Shall like a loyal minion trek. For with this ring upon thy hand. Or have you lost some item dear? Pronounce its name—it shall appear! While traveling. helpful creatures! So there you have the major features Of this tool extraordinaire. The fervent squawks. at your behest. Just raise your hand and say aloud: ‘Invisible!’ The ring shall cloud The minds of men. You may summon and command The mighty winds that roam the air— Summon them from anywhere! From north or south or east or west. As if they spoke in human words. Let us mention just a few. Some knowledge that you’ve sorely lacked— Some information. you’ve gone astray? Use the ring to find your way. Yet more than winds be at your beck.

are three Hebrew words that protect against lightning. Finally he turned it three times.’ (That’s the password you must state. Reynard is unable to produce this fabulous ring. he claims. as he is known— And ask your question. of course. He’ll intone The answer from the endless store Of knowledge that he’s famous for. The second sec- tion is white. The jinni who knows everything— The Info Imp. In our own era. they have been relegated to fairy tales and fantasy games. With a wary eye he gazed at the ring. In that medieval fable.* * Its manual has described in detail the powers of a magic ring. Then whisper: ‘Fern. Just lay it onto wax and press. which is divided into three sections. turn The ring three times.) And lo! the ring is yours to use. The third section is green.) So are you ready—no or yes? And are you willing to agree To use these powers righteously? To indicate agreement. as a gift to the king— having deemed himself unworthy to wear it. Beware its powers. glowing and pulsating. Or have they? On  . magic rings were viewed with skepticism. and cures illnesses. “Fern. (And one thing more: the ring’s a seal. Another such account is found in The History of Reynard the Fox.      Some inside dope you wish you knew? Listen. and makes one invincible. as instructed. Okay. and temptation. he says. witchcraft. And it has a jewel. and shines so brightly as to serve as a torch. here’s what to do: Just conjure up. Alas. On its band. he says. This magic ring to activate. You’ve heard the spiel. One section is fiery red. The fable suggests that. Reynard claims to have inherited a magic ring.” Solomon put down the manual. He has sent it. that’s it. friend. by medieval times.” he whispered. The four jewels came alive. with lifted ring. You’re the fuse.

Advertised as glowing in the dark  . a ring with a healing crystal. a school ring (for mystic rapport with the institution). or that glows with an unearthly light. To receive one (along with a set of instructions or a “secret manual”). what about the radio-show rings? These were offered as premiums to the youthful listeners of radio shows.  hand after hand. And if a magic ring is one that does amazing things. you mailed in a box top from the breakfast cereal that sponsored the show. one spots a good-luck ring (set with a birthstone or other lucky gem). Here’s a sampling of such rings:   - .

  -  . brilliant color simulates the deep red glow of a genuine ruby…. Look through its peep- hole and see Tom Mix and his horse Tony. revealing the hidden compartment underneath. “Their best- known god called Tonatiuh.   ’  . paper clips.)   - - . is shown as the Aztecs pictured him on the side of your ring….” (From the manual. Picks up pins.)    .     .     .Press gently and watch the stone slide out. etc. Comes with a card that lists the Secret Whistling Code. written by Captain Midnight himself. “Yours! This myste- rious ring that glows in the dark!”     . Its rich.)    - .the magic power of the Ring of Saturn is yours!” (Source: The Overstreet Toy Ring Price Guide. For secretly signaling your friends. rd Edition)  .    . According to its instruc- tions. Has a flasher-light for sending Morse code messages. the Sun God. and a telescope for receiv- ing messages. (This same ring was later offered as the   - . this ring “has magic qualities that make it glow in the dark with mysterious blue light….      “like a ferocious animal eye….The red plas- tic stone of your ring symbolizes the altar of the Sun God’s temple. (Different from the    . Equipped with a diagonal mirror for peeking around corners.”     .Amaze all your friends with this magic ring. which signals with a mirror. Changes color if rain or snow is imminent.

The body of this novelty is a tube filled with fluid. save for the crackling of a torch.) In North Africa the hoopoe is eaten for its supposed curative and aphrodisiac properties. The cry is echoed as well in its Arabic and Hebrew names: hud- hud and dukhifat. the head is absorbent felt. sug- gests that musicality. narrow bill. Its name in English derives from its cry: a soft. Even its Latin classification. With its long. “I’ll start by trying to summon— and speak with—a bird or beast. It is said that a hoopoe can detect underground water. the hoopoe systematically probes the soil for insects —as if searching for a hidden spring. upopa epops. “Let’s see if it works. Placed before a glass of water.     - ed. The notion was probably inspired by its feeding habits.   Trying It Out L    . which bird or beast?” He thought for a moment. The crest unfurls itself whenever the bird is surprised or excited. evaporation. and sneakers. Hoopoes are recognizable by their distinctive crest: an array of yellow. tail feather. The hall was silent.” he said. Sporting a top hat. then raised the ring and said: “Hoopoe. musical hoot. King Solomon peered at it closely. Now then. A night breeze wafted through the windows. the Dippy Bird has a zany look. reminiscent of the feathered headpiece of an Aztec prince. it begins to bob its head and drink the water—thanks to a repeated cycle of absorption. which affects the fluid and alters the center of gravity.”  . it hops about like a mechanical toy. and nicknamed “the Doctor. With its head bobbing. (One such toy may have been inspired by the hoopoe: the Dip- py Bird [also marketed as the Happy Drinking Bird]. * The hoopoe is a bird with elegant plumage and a needlelike bill.”* He leaned back in the throne and waited. The result is a kind of crown. black-tipped feathers that is fan-shaped when erect. and cooling. yet it knows its purpose.

* Solomon’s hooting is reminiscent of the squawking of Konrad Lorenz. Lorenz claimed no special powers. or in the air. nor omitted inquiries about them. whether upon the earth. Solo- mon nodded in comprehension and hooted back. who says of Solomon: “He spoke…about beasts. marveling at the instru- ment on his finger. for he was not unacquainted with any of their natures. and all kinds of knowledge have been bestowed upon us. :) Yet Ahimaaz does portray him as communicating with birds. Hooting loudly. The Austrian naturalist was able to communicate with wild ducks. we have been endowed with an understanding of the language of birds. And the two engaged in a conversation—a melodious warble that echoed from the walls of the throne room. )  . Verily. geese. or in the seas. It landed on the dais and hooted a greeting. Then the hoopoe delivered a monologue. about all sorts of living creatures. it circled about the throne room. :—may refer to such an ability. and has been the subject of scholarly debate. ‘O people. inter- rupting occasionally with a hooted question. they chatted together. and demonstrated his exquisite knowledge of their several prop- erties. Exchanging hoots. Solomon listened intently.” said Solomon. Rather. but described them all like a philosopher.* Finally. this is a blessing. as a hoopoe flew into the hall. and a pet cockatoo. however. viii. Then it flew through a window and disappeared into the night. the hoopoe bowed to Solomon and fluttered up into the air. Did King Solomon actually communicate with birds and beasts? A passage in the Book of Kings— Kings.      Then a fluttering broke the silence. let us turn to the Qur’an: “Solomon was David’s heir. He said. intuitive abilities and a dogged per- sistence were the key to his achievement. “This ring works.’” (al-Naml. The passage is ambiguous. The latter meaning is affirmed by Josephus. Although his book on speaking with birds is titled King Solomon’s Ring. And for a final word on the matter.” (Antiquities.” But most render it as “spake of beasts and birds and creeping things and fishes”—a reference to his wide learning. Some translations construe it to mean “[Solomon] spake to beasts and birds and creeping things and fishes.

In fact. “‘Are you sure you want such a thing?’ asked Gabriel.” Solomon pressed his hands together. in the manner of a storyteller.    A cough sounded. entering the throne room and approaching the dais. It enabled me to understand the hoopoe’s language. I want a crown of gold!’ “‘Then you shall have one.” “I was conversing. Solomon looked up and saw a figure standing in the doorway. And the hoopoes were delighted to have so splendid a headpiece.” “Conversing?” said Benaiah. Puffed up with self-regard. Sire. “But men too had their eyes on the crowns. And coveting the gold. they began to hunt hoopoes. he offered the hoopoe a choice of gifts. “One morning the angel Gabriel was flying to Mount Gerizim. The hoopoe thought it over and asked for a crown of gold. And as a reward. With the hoopoe that just flew out of here. Thanks to this ring from Melchizedek. Traps were set.” “I heard noises.” “That’s incredible. And he escorted Gabriel to the mountain.’ “The crowns were distributed. baited with a fragment of mirror. What did the hoopoe have to say?” “We chatted about the weather.’ said the hoopoe. he recounted the tale. Gabriel caught up with the bird and asked for directions. every hoopoe shall have a crown of gold. And leaning back in the throne. “Gabriel was grateful for the assistance. “With a bird?” “Yes. Spot- ting a hoopoe. The mirrors were irresistible to  . “Benaiah? Is that you? Come in. they began to frequent puddles and streams— peering into the water to admire their reflection. Then he told me a tale— about the origin of his crest. In a blissful state he was flapping his wings and passing among clouds—when he realized he was lost. “‘Yes. “‘Follow me. Would you like to hear it?” “Surely.

day out. king of Thrace. It seems that Tereus.  . Why does the hoopoe make the sound it does? Greek mythol- ogy has an explanation.”* “They should still be proud. who were caught and killed in large numbers.” said Benaiah.      the hoopoes. Before he could do so. where?”) These are what folklorists call pourquoi stories—fables that explain how something came to be. So he changed the crowns of gold to crowns of feathers. But he lacked the appropriate dress. and refused to return it. where. the hoopoe was invited to attend a wedding. who had a fancy crest. the hoopoe decided that the crest suited him. Tereus continued to seek the pair. “Their crown of feathers is quite handsome. calling out: “Pou pou pou?” (“Where. had determined to slay his wife and sister-in-law. Why does the zebra have stripes? The giraffe a long neck? The lion a fearsome roar? The pourquoi story tells—in a fanciful. And that’s how the hoopoe acquired his crest. however. Invaders that his armies must repel. Envious brothers. S: Heavy on the head.” With a grave look. who had likewise been changed into birds. Thereafter. Would that it were made of lightweight down! Our burdens are already hard to bear. who pace the night and frown. * Or was it? According to another tale. or didactic man- ner—how the thing came about. Why add another in the hat we wear? O what a list of woes do plague a king (That shall not be dispelled by any ring): Surly subjects. a monarch’s crown. Day in. After- wards. humorous. So he went to the cuckoo. he was transformed into a hoopoe. “And surely to be preferred to a crown of gold. vassals that rebel.” “So it is.” said Solomon. “Finally. Opposing plans of action to be weighed. Plotting how to snatch away that crown. the hoopoes sought out Gabriel and begged him to rescind his gift. And that’s how the hoopoes acquired their crest. and borrowed it. he gestured toward his own crown. decisions to be made.

   Bizarre. And I’d like someone with me—in case a problem should arise. And gusts of wind—moaning like ghosts and swirling about—filled the hall. I rustle leaves and whistle in eaves—I groan and growl.”  . wisdom to provide. I cool the night. Solomon raised the ring. bluster and howl! You have summoned me. “I was just trying out this ring of mine. like herds of sheep. Immediately the breeze quickened. “Indeed! But I’m glad you’re here. I propel your ships—or tear them apart! As hurricanes I destroy. in short. B: My portliness—the major weight I bear. I want to try out another power of the ring. I am that force of Nature that animates the air.” he said. ambassadors to greet Who cloak in honeyed words their rank deceit. The torch flickered. We monarchs are. bloated and heavy-jowled. with cares beset. Benaiah. I make waves on the sea and dunes in the desert. what do we add? Eight pounds of gold upon our head! ’Tis mad! Be thankful.” it said. As head of state. as breezes. Curtains began to flap. He looked up at the windows. “I am the Wind. that thou art free from care. And thou. Captain. A face. Benaiah held onto his helmet. I drive clouds through the sky.” “Summon the wind? The ring can do that?” “Apparently. “Greetings. hoopoe. through which a light breeze was blowing. I huff and I puff. Beneath whose weight like slaves we groan and sweat. And a deep voice sounded. I want to summon the wind. “Wind.” said Solomon. that thou bear instead A crown of feathers on thy empty head. emerged from the swirl. perplexing lawsuits to be tried. What would you have me do?” “Nothing. really. I am at your beck. And to this ponderous load. Decrees to issue. Shall we give it a try?” Benaiah grunted noncommittally. I scatter seeds.

borne by the Wind. “Crouch down and hold on. Suddenly it rose into the air. “A ride?” Spread before the dais was a carpet—a Persian rug of intricate design. “I’ll take you for a spin.” said the Wind. Benaiah hesitated. With the two men clinging to it. and hopped aboard.      “Perhaps you’d like a ride?” asked the Wind.” said the Wind. “Why not?” he said. the carpet glided out a window. It emerged from the palace and rose swiftly into the night sky. then joined him.” Solomon came forward to inspect the carpet. gentlemen. It was hov- ering a foot above the floor. “Hop on.  .

Then it returned to the palace. “Isn’t this an amazing ring?” he said. And there’s more. Summon me. I’ve been  . “With it I am able to summon the wind and fly about. “Me.” said the Wind. Windows glowed with lamplight. “So. The sound seemed to have come from it.” Solomon raised the ring and said: “Info Imp. When you wish to go somewhere. Beneath them was a patchwork of rooftops and lanes.” There was a flash and puff of smoke—and on the dais stood a jinni.” With a whoosh the Wind departed through a window. I can also summon jinn—and control them. Solomon wobbled to his feet. “Men are not birds. “I enjoyed that.” “Who are you?” “I am the jinni who resides in your ring. I’m going to try summoning one. I’ve got to try that. What’s your name?” “Info Imp. and landed with a thud. Your Highness. glided through the window. too.” he said. Solomon looked at his ring. We were meant to stay on the ground. But which? There are thousands upon thousands of jinn.” “They can be useful. “They can be trouble. The carpet circled over Jerusalem. But what an experience!” “You’ll get used to flying. “finally we meet. Summon me. I am at your beck. he wore a fez and tunic. Dwarfish in stature. wobbling to his feet.” said Benaiah. Solomon returned to the throne. A pair of spectacles were propped on his nose.” “I’d stay away from jinn. that I may serve you. “Not me. I’m dizzy. According to the manual. Pronounce my name and I shall appear.” came a high-pitched voice.” he said.” “So am I. Cisterns glinted in the moonlight.” “Try me. “and to trav- eling about on a carpet.” said Benaiah. Startled.    Solomon and Benaiah peered down at an aerial view of the city. me. just summon me.” “All right.

I was placed there by Melchizedek. on account of my specialty. lists. Any question. I’m the Info Imp —your personal jinni. As you know.’” “Who is the chief god of Babylon?” “Marduk. ‘Gate of God.      waiting to pop out and introduce myself.”  . Then he asked: “What is the capital of Babylonia?” “Babylon. every jinni has a specialty. Mine is providing infor- mation. lore. I can tell you the population of a town—the clan of a warrior—the exchange rate for foreign coins. I am a master of facts. Ask me a question and I shall answer it.” “You know everything?” “More or less. I reside in your ring.” Solomon thought for a moment. statistics. quotations.” “Whence the name of the city?” “From Bab-El. Test me. On any subject. trivia.

But take advantage of what I have to offer. Any further questions for now?” “No. Johnson?” “A sage of the distant future. Solomon examined his ring. to which we jinn are not subject. ” “I’m impressed. “One has to live somewhere.” said Benaiah. Shiriq- tushuqamuna—popularly known as Tushu—Marbitia- palusur. Johnson: ‘Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves. You are a learned man. Keep in mind the quote from Dr.” “Name the five last kings of Babylon. and Nabu-mukinapil.” he said. King Solo- mon.” “I urge you to do so. or we know where we can find information about it.”  . Ninurta-kudurusur II. Just summon me.” “Eamash-shakinshumi. thank you. “And I’d still be wary of those jinn.” “Then I’ll be returning to the ring.” “Your store of information extends into the future?” “Time is a human limitation. the Info Imp vanished. “By dint of this marvelous ring.    “How many gods are worshiped in Babylon?” “Nearly .” “No doubt I shall be availing myself of your services.” “And you reside in the ring?” The Info Imp shrugged. How did I get along without such a ring?” “Quite nicely. “I can communicate with birds and beasts— fly about on a carpet—engage the services of jinn. Though I won’t always be at liberty to reveal such information.” With a flash and puff of smoke. So—I can consult with you at any time?” “That’s the idea.’” “Who is Dr.

the Temple—a permanent and physically impressive structure—will be a departure from the Tabernacle.   Model A     -   entered the throne room. “As you know. flanked by Zadok and Shavsha. who has since been hard at work—elaborating upon it. they set the table down before the dais. The challenge was to adhere to the revealed design. the Tabernacle—a portable sanctuary that originated at Mount Sinai. He also gave me the plan for it. if you will. my father entrusted me with a sacred task. “Now Israel’s main shrine has been. who were carrying a table. We have. He told me to build a tem- ple—a house for . “in that the plan came from a heavenly source. His efforts have at last reached fruition. For it  . it will be a continua- tion—an improved version—an update. Making their way through the crowded hall. In one sense. At the same time. Then he waved for silence and addressed the assembled court.” Solomon nodded to the architect. and creating blueprints. succeeded in doing so.” said Ab-hiram. “This was a unique project. who addressed the court. I believe. That plan I passed on to Ab- hiram. The architect was fol- lowed by a pair of assistants. The king acknowl- edged Ab-hiram’s bow. King Solomon was seated on the throne. “This is a historic day. and he informs me that we are ready to begin construction. and now resides here in Jerusalem. while dealing with con- straints of a practical nature. revealed to him in dreams. Ab-hiram will now unveil a model of the Temple and explain its features. of course. A cover was draped over the contents of the table. abided for many years at Shiloh.” he said. To inaugurate the pro- ject. working out the details.

And surely that is fitting. the interior shall be divided into three sections—a vestibule. it came off. They gripped the upper por- tion of the model and lifted. Most notably. “But enough of words. The sole orna- mentation on the exterior will be here. Whereas the Tabernacle is com- prised of animal hides and linen. Once inside.  duplicates the essential features of the sacred tent. revealing a detailed interior. “Yet there will be significant differences. A gasp of admiration rose from the court. on these pillars. “To begin with. For its interior will be lined with cedar and gold—a richness of materials to reflect the Glory of . with no turrets. The most obvi- ous is that of materials. The Temple is to be rectilinear—a limestone box.” He nodded to his assistants. They signify ‘He shall establish’ and ‘In Him is strength’—references.” said Ab-hiram. and our plan specifically called for such a feature. “Let me show you the Temple. “the style of our new sanctuary will be familiar. For ’s house is to be a Rock of the Ages. of course. This is a transition zone—a kind of decompression  . That is to say. the priests pass through the ulam. Like the top of a dollhouse. the priests are reminded of ’s power. It also specified that the pillars were to be given names: Jachim and Boaz. what do they encounter? Let’s take a look. and like a rock. or gargoyles. the Temple will be made of stone.” Leaning over the model.” said Ab-hiram. and a Holy of Holies. he pointed to a pair of pillars flanking the entrance. to  Most High. “If any of you have been to Phoenicia. the tripartite layout has been retained. it should be austere and enduring. fretwork.” Ab-hiram signaled to his assistants. “No Phoenician temple would be complete without pil- lars at the entranceway. They drew aside the covering—revealing the model. or ves- tibule. It will be outwardly plain. These names are inscribed on the pillars. “So as they enter the Temple. a Holy Place. Yet think not that this house of His is to lack embellishment.

“Here is the table of shewbread. followed by Zadok and Shav- sha. Everything awaits the priests and their daily rituals. Along the walls are the sacred candlesticks. they emerge into the hekhal. And over here is the altar of incense. This is the main hall of the sanctuary and will contain the furnishings from the Tabernacle. only the High Priest—and he but once a year —may pass through this doorway and enter the debir.      chamber—between the profane and sacred worlds. We have provided the model with representations of those furnish- ings. and the three joined Ab-hiram at the model. rising from the throne. “Of course. Perhaps Your Highness would like to approach and examine them up close?” “I would indeed.” said the architect. He came down from the dais. or  .” said Solomon. Leaving behind all worldly thoughts. “Note that it’s set with little loaves of bread—actual loaves that we baked. or Holy Place.

“So we used cedar in the model. and floor! In it will be kept the Ark of the Covenant. in a quarry just outside the city. “It concerns that stone. All this. The Book of Genesis tells us that  “drove out the man.” “And how will you mine the stone? And dress it?” “Why.” said Ab-hiram. What is it?” “The walls of the hekhal will be lined with cedar. * The cherubim that guarded the Ark have been widely mis- conceived. with the usual tools.  Holy of Holies. Check out the cherubim. and Israel’s was no exception. as if from an earthquake. The wood will be carved with patterns and inlaid with gold.” “Tools of iron?” “Yes. The model shook. we have crafted in miniature. peering into the model. and such.” said Solomon. The effect will be awesome. “I have a ques- tion. And it will be completely lined with gold—walls. “A pleasing fragrance. not sculptures. of course. Axes. they were sphinxes—forbidding creatures with the body of a lion. the Holy of Holies will be a perfect cube. Sacred places in the Near East were routinely guarded by these sculpted watchdogs.”* “Quite impressive.” Zadok was glaring darkly at the model. of which the Temple is to be built. to guard the way to the Tree of Life. Sire. and the head of a man.” he said. ceiling. chisels. just as the full-sized ones will be.” “Unacceptable!” cried Zadok. Rather.” These sphinxes were the real thing. No stonework will be visible inside the Temple—just cedar and gold.  . They were not humanlike angels (and certainly not the cherubic tots of Renaissance painting). And at the east of the Garden of Eden He placed cherubim. hammers. and a flaming sword which turned every way. They are sculpted from olive-wood and plated with gold. the wings of an eagle. Cherubim also served as guardians in the heavenly realm. too. As stipulated in the plan. guarded by a pair of cherubim. He sniffed. Where will you procure it?” “There is an ample supply of limestone close by. pounding the table with his fist.

” said Zadok. the Sanctum Sanctorum. for whom the Temple of Solomon is a key symbol. and several models were built and exhibited. among both learned men and the public. “The shamir. (After viewing it. with all its Porches. one could purchase an engraving of the Temple or an explanatory booklet titled “Retrato del Templo de Selomo. Use the shamir. the Candlestick. the Altar of Incense. the altar of the church at Cluain-mic-Nois contained a model of Solomon’s Temple.” “I repeat.”) A few years later. Masonic lodges often have a scale model on display. the Lavers. you must not use them. “But you had better find it.      “I don’t understand. with the Ark of the Covenant. And the seventeenth century saw a surge of interest in the Temple. Biblical scholars have produced re-creations of the Temple (most notably. with the two famous Pillars. the great Altar of the Burnt Offering. It is forbidden. The Model of the   .” he said.” stammered Ab-hiram. and appears much finer and richer than before. The High Priest shrugged. “The device that was used by Moses to engrave the tablets. Tables of Shew-Bread. Gates. and Pillars …. on dis- play at Agnes Scott College in Georgia). in the preparation of stone for altars and other sacral constructs. Within the model are  chambers and Windows. Thirteen-feet high. of course. “In Scripture it is writ: ‘Nor hammer nor ax nor any tool of iron shall be heard. One was that of Rabbi Leon.’ You must not use such tools!” “But they are necessary for our work. But the most prolific modelers have been the Freemasons. the Howland-Garber model. And one was featured at the Masonic Pavilion  .The Pub- lick is desired to take Notice. the Moulton Sea. In medieval Ireland. Walls. it was advertised in The Daily Courant: “To be seen at the Royal-Exchange every Day. “No idea. a German named Schott exhibited his model in London. called Joachim and Boas.” “Where is this device?” asked Solomon. Or else forget about building a Temple!”* * Models of the Temple have a history of their own. who showed his model at fairs and at his home in Amsterdam. that the Sanctum Sanctorum.” In our own day. cham- bers and holy Vessels. with all the holy Vessels is new gilt. the Mercy Seat and Golden Cherubims.” “What other way is there to cut stone?” said Solomon.

But that figure was probably a copyist’s error—the Book of Kings (written earlier) gives  cubits as the height. and on a comparison with temples that have been unearthed by archeologists. The Ark of the Covenant high above the city! “If a temple scholar is willing to answer a single question which I have posted on my website.” Young claims to have accurately “re-created a model of Solomon’s temple that originally stood in downtown Jerusalem. In a spectacular scene this tower is struck by lightning and destroyed. The movie utilizes a model (or “miniature.”  . The layout of the entire Temple. Describing himself as “a self taught scholar in the frozen region of the world. One of the the latter may be seen in the  movie Solomon and Sheba. was vertical. since no one knows what the Temple actually looked like. Alaska. based on descriptions found in the Bible and the Talmud. In short.) Could the Temple have included such a tower? The Book of Chronicles does say that the ulam was  cubits ( feet) high.” He does not simply postulate a tower over the ulam.” in Holly- wood parlance) of the Temple that looks more like the Tower of Babel. On the other hand. there is the work of Mike Young of North Pole. Limited only by the imagination of their makers. a genuine zig- gurat—a Babylonian-style shrine. he insists.  at the last New York World’s Fair.” writes Young. A re-creation is necessarily a guess. Each model has had a distinctive look. “he will see that he will come to my point of view regarding the size and scope of the Temple in very short time. the re-creations have ranged from Gothic citadels to Babylonian ziggurats. with the Holy of Holies situated at the very top. (’s wrath has been provoked by a pagan orgy that Solomon has allowed.

and with the ease of a knife slicing through melon. rustled the papers on his desk. It was kept alive by medieval authors such as Rashi and Maimonides. “You sum- moned me. In fact.” “The shamir is a stone. describes it as “a green stone. Tell me what is known about the shamir. He raised his ring and said: “Info Imp.* “The shamir has a unique and supernatural power: the capacity to cut through rock. and fluttered the tags that hung from the scrolls in the cubbyholes. the  . “I would like to avail myself of your services. the Testament of Solomon (a pseudepigraphic work of the Græco-Roman era).’ connoting sharpness. Sire?” “Yes. The rock immediately splits. One simply draws a line on the rock and drags the shamir along it. The name probably derives from samir. It does this without heat or friction. I need some information. That has led to the mistaken notion that the shamir is a living insect. “The shamir is ancient. It is no such thing. as if struck asunder.† * This mistaken notion persists to the present day. the Hebrew alphabet.” said Solomon.  - ning breeze billowed the curtains.” With a puff of smoke. Cassel’s “Ein archæologischer Beitrag zu natur. it is said to be one of the ten wonders that  made on the last day of Creation. “A green crys- tal of great power. † The others are the rainbow. see S.” said the Info Imp. manna. But our oldest source.   Shamir K       . It is sculpted in the shape of a scarab—a beetle of the genus Ateuchus sacer.” And for a persuasive argument in favor of a stone. Only one shamir is known to exist. who argued that the dynamic nature of the shamir suggested a living creature.und Sagen- kunde” (). or ‘thorn. the jinni appeared.

the jewel on his right shoulder. This pair also glowed—in an oracular fashion. When Atlantis sank. Set in its breastplate were twelve jewels—each engraved with the name of a tribe. * Ahimaaz corroborates here a speculation that has circulated among Masons.[It] was placed into posi- tion on the great granite rocks. on account of ’s displeasure at the transgressions of His laws. “I’ve always wondered how the pyramids were built.” † The ephod was the vestment worn by the High Priest. Explains Josephus: “The breast- plate stopped shining  years before the composition of this book.” So how were they cut? “The great Atlantean Master. refugees brought the shamir to Egypt. There it was used to build the pyramids. which had been brought from a great distance for the building of the Pyramid….So the Great Pyramid was carved in stone by the sacred Stone Shamir. The High Priest would ask a question. Balaam’s talking donkey. The jewels would glow to indicate ’s Presence. at the shoulders of the garment.” “Now you know.  . the master craftsman. He passed it on to Bezalel. the jewel on his left shoulder glowed. “as to how those stones [of the Great Pyramid] were carried. brought with him from that mighty Temple the great Stone Shamir…. iii. Then it came into the possession of Moses.”* “Really?” said Solomon. “For thousands of years the shamir was an essential tool of the pyramid- builders. a Mason in Detroit. “There has been much conjecture. its earliest recorded use was by the priests of Atlantis. who used it to engrave the jewels of the ephod. who used it on Mount Sinai to engrave the tablets. “who was the Leader of the high priests of Atlantis.  “Be that as it may. :) Two additional jewels served as fasteners. and the ram that Abraham sacrificed in place of Isaac.” writes John Mitchell. how they were cut with the prim- itive tools in use in those days. They called it zata thondru. If the answer was yes. Moses’ rod. Miriam’s well. But eventually they ceased to glow. ‘the stone that splits rock.’ and used it to construct their temple to Poseidon.” (Antiquities.† Torah. how they were placed together so that the joins in them cannot be seen.” explains Mitchell. the pit that swallowed Korach.” said the Info Imp. if no.

the shamir is wrapped in a woolen cloth. A beam of light shot out of the fez. “And here is the shamir itself. Where is the shamir currently?” “In the possession of Asmodeus. and kept in a lead box filled with barley bran. “Fascinating.” He tugged again on the tassel.” The Info Imp tugged on the tassel of his fez. projecting a picture on the wall.      “When not in use. Here’s a picture of the box. His palace contains many treasures.” said Solomon. “Asmodeus is our ruler—the king of the jinn. the head jinni?” The Info Imp nodded.” “Asmodeus? You mean. among them the shamir.” “Asmodeus has a palace?”  . “Now tell me this. A new picture appeared— of a crystal in which a scarab had been carved. For some reason this renders it inoperative. How he acquired it is not known.

the jinni vanished.” (Exodus :) “And there shalt thou build an altar unto the Lord thy . “I’ll be needing a messenger.” “It is a pleasure to have served you. After all. and addressed the attendant. With a thoughtful look he rose from his seat. Send him a formal invitation.” he said.” “But I need to speak with him. So yes. for if thou lift up thy tool upon it. thou hast polluted it. I mean?” The Info Imp shrugged. Solomon went to the door. “What you have said makes good sense.” “Could I summon Asmodeus—as I summoned you— and get him to lend me the shamir?” “Summon him?” The Info Imp grimaced. Thou shalt build the altar of the Lord thy  of whole  . But I urge you not to. If you forced him to come. thou shalt not build it of hewn stone. Believe me. via messenger. you could summon him. Invite him to come visit you. Thou shalt not lift up any iron tool upon them. Sire.” “Then treat Asmodeus as you would treat any king. I can provide directions to his palace. Asmodeus is not to be trifled with.” said Solomon. It is located in the Mountains of Bashan. “Have one sent to me in the morning. Call me again— at any hour.” “Would he come? Voluntarily. “Who knows? But it’s worth try- ing. and should be treated as a king.” “I see. an altar of stones. he would do so like a surly slave—seething with resentment. he is our king.  “Of course. That prohibition is stated in three Biblical passages: “And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone. “Your ring can compel any jinni—Asmodeus included—to appear before you. but which was deemed to apply to the Temple as well. Would you send for other monarchs in so peremptory a fashion? Even the least of your vassals? Of course not—it would insult their dignity.”* * The shamir was needed because of a prohibition that related to altars. poked his head out.” With a puff of smoke. Thank you for both your information and your advice. And he might seek to cause you trouble in return.

and their unhewn form probably became a distinctive part of their construction in later times.  . over which no man hath lift up any iron.      stones.” (Middot :) And from a historical perspective. are made of iron. “Iron was created to shorten man’s days. and the altar was creat- ed to lengthen man’s days. iron tools were newfangled and therefore inau- thentic. Altars of unhewn stones would have been normal in the Stone Age. iron is not an appropriate material for use on sacred structures. Therefore. Hence the need for a shamir. antedating the use of metal tools.” (Deuteronomy :–) “Then Joshua built an altar unto the Lord  of Israel…an altar of whole stones.” In other words. it is understandable why cutting it with metal tools would be for- bidden. Biblical scholar Ronald Hen- del has offered the following explanation: “The stone altar’s holiness is very ancient. Sacred traditions and ritual objects are often very resis- tant to change and as a result often preserve very archaic features. Swords and other instruments of death. It is not proper that what shortens be lifted against what lengthens. they explain.” (Joshua :–) Why this problem with tools of iron? Did it have a rationale? The rabbis of the Talmud assure us that it did. If the form of the altar goes back to Stone Age times.

A road wound through them. “Ask yourself—who would dwell in the Mountains of Bashan? Who would have his abode in that unearthly place?” “I give up. I wouldn’t trust any jinni. dark.” “Really? That’s a region I’ve never been to—and have no wish to visit.” Borak slapped palms with Gorash and departed the tav- ern. good Borak?” “The Mountains of Bashan.” “I’m not worried.” “You mean. His horse was tethered outside.” “Eerie and empty—not a single inn to be found. can you guess to whom it’s bound?” “No idea. • The Mountains of Bashan were jagged. I must get going. For I carry a message from King Solomon himself. the Asmodeus—king of the jinn? You’re bear- ing a message to him?” “Indeed I am.” said Gorash. And I’m to deliver this message to him.” The messenger had joined his colleague at a rear table. I’ll be treated with respect. One sleeps on the ground and hobnobs with one’s horse. And exiting the city. Now. but had waved off the barmaid. and for- bidding. he’s got a palace out there.” “Be careful. he headed east. He hopped on and rode to the North Gate. “Evidently. and following it was  . Who?” “Asmodeus. King Solomon assured me that.   Asmodeus I      . “And your destination. much less their chief.” said Borak. “I’m off on a job. See you in a fortnight. as his emissary. But this is a mission of importance. that’s who. They say it’s eerie in those mountains.”    - ash. Anyhow.

and began to ascend the stairs. Borak seemed undaunted by the lunar landscape. Smoke rose from a chim- ney. When evening came. “Come in!” sounded a voice from within. in diaphanous robes. The door. silk pajamas. “Though it looks more like a hunting lodge than a palace.” said Borak. had a brass knocker. He knocked. The climb took half an hour. He found himself in a dimly-lit hall. or else responding to invisible fingers. he looked for a camp site. The walls were hung with tapestries.” Warily. tethered his horse to a tree. and a porch. “This must be it. One was a tall. And lounging on a sofa were three jinn—identifiable by their pointed ears. “We’ve been expecting you. He wore a jeweled turban. In his hand was a goblet. Low. murmur a prayer. Refreshments were laid out on a table. It had round windows that overlooked the mountainous vista. When he got to the palace. partly ajar. peering up at a moun- taintop. Hawks glided overhead. soothing music filled the air—from a harp that was plucking itself. Borak dismounted.  .      a solitary traveler—Borak. Perhaps those “dust devils” were patrolling the road. and slept beneath the stars.* As he rode through it. On his third day in the mountains he arrived at his des- tination. Borak entered. Borak was huffing and puffing.” Perched on the mountain was a two-story building of rough stone. From time to time he would drink from his water bag. There he built a fire. and a smoking jacket. A log was burning in the fireplace. Cuddled up to him were two female jinn. check his map. An occasional column of dust swirled by. Jackals howled in the distance. * Jinn are said to assume many forms—including that of a whirlwind. ate a simple meal. A stairway led up to the door of the palace. slender male with a Van- dyke beard.

“We were expecting someone else—another girl. I bear a message from King Solomon of Israel. What can I do for you?” “I seek Asmodeus. He was regarding Borak with surprise. my friend. I am he. I am a messenger.”  . But come in. King of the Jinn.” said Borak. Your Highness.” “Forgive the intrusion. “Then your search has ended.  “Ho!” said the male jinni.

Now where is that thing? I’m not even sure I still have it. “Hmm. “So. But the fact is. coins. “These are my treasures and mementos. Or could I have loaned it to someone? Wait. he rose from the sofa. “accu- mulated over the centuries. my mountain retreat. I see. snow globes. knows what it entails. Borak. I come here to get away from things—to escape the responsibilities of kingship. Such as conferring with my ‘advisers’ here.” Borak handed him the scroll. One of them had a bottle of wine. and acts accord- ingly. Borak. Also.”  . Asmodeus read it. the Emerald Tablet. rings.” Asmodeus strolled over to a wallful of cluttered shelves. She refilled his goblet. See what a collection I’ve acquired! Gems. statuettes.” he said. I settle disputes among the jinn—grant them titles—mete out awards and punishments. I’m Asmodeus—Asmo to these snug- gling guests of mine. musical instruments.” said Asmodeus. Welcome to my palace. Supervision is rarely required. Each jinni has an identity. What’s your name?” “Borak.” “Greetings. crowns. let me see this message of yours. Then. my duties are minimal—freeing me for more congenial matters. Borak. It’s an invitation. or rather. he wants to borrow the shamir. ancient manuscripts. what’s this? The shamir perhaps?” He picked up a box and opened it. here we go. girls?” Again they giggled. “Nonetheless. this kingdom of mine is largely self-governing. “I do try to provide a semblance of rulership. Right. Out popped rubber snakes. sipping on the wine. How now. amulets. King Solomon wants me to visit him in Jerusalem. Let’s go look. Follow me. I stay informed of their doings. dar- lings?” His companions giggled. meteorites. “Yikes! That’s not it. Isn’t that right. wob- bly from wine. Thus. But I’m sure it’s here somewhere. Asmodeus kissed them. Don’t be nervous. messenger. Sire.      “Approach.

” “All right. Shall I accommodate your king?” “No doubt he’d be pleased if you could. fumbled about. King Solomon wants to borrow the shamir. Borak examined it. Here. take a look. I could materialize there instantaneous- ly. is it not? But without this stone they could not have built the pyra- mids. and pulled out a green stone. I could appear in front of King Solomon this very minute —in a puff of smoke! But what fun would that be? I want  . Ordinary-looking thing. If you’ll allow me to do so? True. “Voilà—the shamir.” said Asmodeus. He wants me to come for a visit and bring it along. nodded sagely. “Let’s be on our way. “So.” Asmodeus handed him the shamir.” “Sire?” “I shall accompany you back to Jerusalem. then.  He opened another box. and handed it back. slipping the box into his pocket. I accept his invitation. Sire. Asmodeus returned it to the box.

Let’s move on. And together they rode off toward Jerusalem. make yourself at home. the animal regarded them quizzically. But I’d be glad to have you along. Sire?” “Yes. the guests were eating. carrying his bag. and a wedding feast was in progress. donned a cape. And they entered Jerusalem. “This is fun already!” said the king of the jinn.” “Excellent. Borak followed after him. Asmodeus climbed on behind him. he bid farewell to his compan- ions. They descended the stairway. One must savor the process of getting somewhere—have a travel experience. Tears flowed down his cheeks as he sobbed aloud. And finish- ing off the goblet of wine.” With a swirl of his cape. Asmodeus—still in pajamas and smoking jacket—exited the palace. I’ll be back. Sire. Arriving at the gate.” Borak spurred the horse and passed through the gate.  . Help yourself to what- ever.” Asmodeus bustled about his abode. “Are you all right. “I view travel as a necessary and ardu- ous part of my job. sat the bride and groom. Puzzled by the jinni’s reaction. Borak looked back over his shoulder. yes. • A pavilion had been erected outside the North Gate. As the pair approached. Borak and Asmodeus had paused to watch this festive scene. Borak’s horse was grazing under the tree. Seated at a long table. tossed a few things into it. At the head of the table. I’ll be ready in a minute. Borak mounted the horse and settled into the saddle. and chattering. He located a travel bag. smiling and waving. drinking. Don’t you agree?” Borak shrugged.      to travel—journey through the countryside—enjoy the sights along the way. “My dears. Suddenly Asmodeus began to weep.

I shall demand a refund. They rode along the busy street.” he said. But already it’s a magnificent place. More than  rooms within its walls. Then. he pointed to it—jabbed his finger repeatedly. He handed them to a waiting customer and said: “Here are your shoes.” “Three times now. as if to indicate a thing of significance. I shall indeed.  They rode along the main street. “to insure the highest quality—the finest workman- ship. The palace is soon to be expanded and renovated. Asmodeus was taking in the sights and sounds. Puzzled. Wear them in good health. Now he shook his head and laughed bitterly. at the sight of a wedding celebration—a joyful  . They are guaranteed to last seven years. Borak looked back at the jinni. with a pair of shoes. “Sire.” And he went off with his shoes. I ordered a pair of shoes that would last seven years. they say.” he said. But Asmo- deus said nothing and waved for him to continue on. sir. “That’s King Solomon’s residence. you have reacted in a peculiar fash- ion. “may I be so bold as to ask a question?” “By all means. sir. If they don’t.” “They had better last that long.” The man inspected the shoes. Borak could restrain himself no longer. Quite an abode. he asked Borak to halt. As they passed a cobbler’s shop. There are ornate halls. “We’re here. First. “Now I paid you extra. They were completed this morn- ing. Finally they arrived at the palace. Impressive.” said Borak. It was clogged with traf- fic—clamorous with the cries of hawkers—lined with shops of every sort. luxurious suites. Sire. is it not?” Asmodeus gazed at the palace and sighed deeply. From his perch on the horse. courtyards with fountains. or your money back. is it not? Therein he dwells in rich- ness and splendor. The cobbler had just emerged from his shop. Will these shoes fulfill that stipulation?” “Absolutely. pulling out the shamir box. Asmodeus had been observ- ing this exchange.

Not shoes nor life nor palaces nor joy Escapes from Time. But he shall end up with nothing but a box—a marble casket. For once ’tis gone. Therefore. “And so— The lesson here? That nothing will endure. He has less than a month to live. your time is up. kings included. enjoy the day that is at hand. you witness an ordi- nary business transaction—and laugh bitterly. alas! Tomorrow’s wine may never come around. Carpe diem.” said Asmodeus. Or fall to ruin. And now. why these peculiar reactions? Explain them to me. misfortune was imminent. So drink today. in which his bones shall reside. you sigh deeply and point to that box. if you’d be so kind. did I sigh and point to a box? Because King Solomon lives in this grand palace. “Why did I weep at the wed- ding celebration? We jinn can peer into the future. His shoes will outlast him. or burn to pale ash. Alas.      event!—you weep with sadness. He is going to die within a week. How could one not weep at such a sight? “And why did I laugh bitterly at that man buying shoes? Why was I provoked by his demand for a seven-year guar- antee? Because the fellow won’t be needing the shoes even for seven days. Things wear away. For a box is the final residence of all men. Pray tell. just now. Let merriment abound! “But enough of philosophy.” “Gladly. or vanish in a flash. So I could see what was fated for that bride and groom. whose theme is to destroy. Then. Yet there they were. I have an invitation to meet  . upon viewing Solomon’s palace. smiling and waving to friends—unaware of the sad fate that would soon overtake them. “And why. Only Time’s decaying hand is sure. while she has a lifetime ahead of her as a widow. Outfox the merciless sand That flows so swiftly in your hourglass. And I didn’t have to peer into the future to learn that.

he is intent upon doing harm to man. and go off by night and day to others that belong to other men: with the result that they commit sin. He even flies up from his mountain abode each morn- ing to study Torah in a heavenly academy. In Ancient Israel: Myths and Legends. Thus.” But as the years went by. and to tell me humbly what was his name and what his business. Of immense strength and very powerful. Take me to him. And yet he is frequently ready to perform deeds of kind- ness. and my business is to plot against the newly wedded.’ “And I said to him.  . For the Talmud presents him in a more positive light.’” Truly a wicked and dangerous being! Yet Asmodeus is subject to control. bound him more carefully. by the power and in virtue of his signet ring on which was engraven the Ineffable Name. Asmodeus either mended his ways or became adept at public relations. Solomon (employ- ing a judicial practice of the time) compels Asmodeus to identify himself and to confess his depraved ways: “And I Solomon. and I waste away the beauty of virgin women. His name is thought to derive from the Persian aeshma-daeva. And I sever them utterly by many calami- ties. and ordered him to be flogged with thongs of ox-hide. Ashmedai fore-knows the future. in this magnificent palace of his. In popular tales he is depicted as a kind of hapless clown. Angelo Rappo- port explains: “He is very cunning and malignant. In the latter. ‘Is this thy only business?’ And he answered me: ‘I transport men into fits of madness and desire.  with King Solomon. and estrange their hearts. and fall into murderous deeds. Though drunken and licentious. the King of the Demons is shown to be largely benevolent—a friend to man. so that they may not know one another. and by use of the Ineffable Name he can be made serviceable unto man and compelled to do what is bidden by those who pronounce the Ineffable Name. so that they leave them. Borak!”* * The earliest references to Asmodeus are found in the Book of Tobit and the Testament of Solomon. King Solomon gained power over Ashmedai and made him do his bidding. In both of these he is depicted as a malevolent demon. on hearing this. And he answered me thus: ‘I am called Asmodeus among mortals. And by the Middle Ages he has become even less threatening. when they have wives of their own.

The Testament of Solomon reveals Asmodeus to be half-human: “‘I was born of angel’s seed by a daughter of man. (For more on the Cainites. a daughter of Tubal-Cain.) Ahimaaz has introduced a congenial Asmodeus—a pleasure- loving (yet philosophical) jinni who is glad to cooperate with King Solomon.      or “demon of wrath.” His origins are obscure.’” The angel may have been Shamdon. who—for all his Torah study—must still be compelled to aid Solomon.  . see chapter . It is interesting to compare him with the Asmo- deus of the Talmud. the woman.

in full regalia. Beside him stood Shavsha. And of whom did that help consist? The messenger. you’d think he’d show some sense of decorum— some kingly dignity. But here he comes now. and offered him a full complement of servants. “Strange fellow. my fellow monarch and honored guest. “I am pleased you were able to come. “Arrived yesterday with no entourage whatsoever. “His Excellency. bowing in return. Also present were a number of vis- itors. “Greetings.” The Singing Guards came forward. have prepared a ditty. and began to sing. “Hello there.” he said.  . All had gathered for a reception. Allow us to welcome you with some music. Our songsters.   King Meets King M         throne room. and pajamas—had come gliding in. It seems he had persuaded the chap to become his manservant!” Solomon shrugged. “He’s a jinni—a nonmaterial being. including a Phoenician merchant and a monk from India. smoking jacket. Their needs may be simpler than ours. carrying a covered tray. And the Singing Guards were there.” “Still. and Asmodeus—in cape. Asmodeus. The vizier was clucking and shaking his head. King Solomon was seated on the throne.” The entrance doors had opened. I am told. He was followed by Borak. But he refused the servants. this king of the jinn. of course.” said Solomon. insisting that they weren’t necessary —that he had all the help he needed.” announced the herald. Your Highness. Asmodeus approached the dais and bowed. lined up. King of the Jinn. Hitched a ride with our messenger—on the back of his horse! Can you imagine? We gave him a luxurious suite of rooms.” said Shavsha.

revealing the shamir box. I trust? I was surprised you were able to come so soon.” “The need seemed important. Whose many praises crows like us Are scarcely fit to sing.” said Solomon.” he said.      “Welcome to Jerusalem O monarch of the jinn.” said Solomon. for that ditty. “So.” “I thank you heartily. We greet you with these words of song— A most unworthy din. You need it to help construct a temple. Have a pleasant stay!” They bowed to Asmodeus and filed off. “Keep it for as long as needed. Now a temple is a worthy enterprise.” said Asmodeus. ”You have made possible a new dwelling place for  Most High. “Tell me. “So I came at once. “Welcome to the palace Of Solomon our king. “Thank you. King Solomon.” said Asmodeus.” “For which I am grateful. gentlemen. “The shamir is in this box. who stepped forward with the tray. The shamir is indeed in my possession. Asmodeus removed the cover. And it shall be my pleasure to lend it to you.” He beckoned to Borak. I would like to bor- row the shamir. “And welcome to this throne room O guest from far away. Your Excellency—your journey here was uneventful.” “And I’d like to offer some further assistance. and I’d like to assist in any way I can. a vital need has arisen— for a certain object in your possession. have you calculated  .” “So I understand from your message. Yes. It very walls do bow to you.

Also. You could use jinn. Would you care to meet one of them?” “Certainly. with your ring. cursing as they toil? Neither choice seems attractive. Or I’d be glad to oversee them.” “How many laborers could you provide me with?” “As many as needed. Think of the grumbling it would eliminate. And there are others who might be use- ful. For labor is not onerous to jinn. Of what use would he be? By lighting up the construction site. snapping his fingers.” “Harpax!” said Asmodeus.” “A work force of jinn?” “Why not? My subjects are hardworking and conscien- tious. Where his head should have been was a flame. What say you. they’ll do whatever they’re told—and cheerfully so. Moreover. But there’s an alternative. as it is to men.” Solomon pondered for a moment. and lifted into place. polished. standing beside Asmodeus. and for how long? Even with the shamir. So why not put us to work? Think of the hardship it would spare thousands of your subjects. “This is Harpax. ‘the Living Torch. transported to the site. Plus. There was a puff of smoke—and a strange being appeared. if you wish. it would be efficient. And how many men must be sent to Phoenicia. you’ve got a monumental task ahead of you—from what I hear of the design of this temple. Tons of marble will have to be cut. I have some subjects who might be especially useful.    the full costs of this project? I mean.’ His flame can be adjusted to any level of brightness. Solomon? Will you accept help from my jinn?” “Who would be in charge of them?” “You could control them directly. Then he said: “Your  . to fell the cedars and transport them hither? How many laborers altogether—thousands? Tens of thou- sands? And who will they be—conscripted Israelites? Or foreign slaves. human as well as finan- cial? How many laborers will be needed. in terms of time and money. you could keep working at night.

on the other hand. there are two types: good and bad. inhabited the earth.” “So be it. and they had gov- ernment.” said Solomon. they “eat  . and made wickedness to abound in the earth. oversee them. According to Lane. And rising from the throne. and prophecy. and the plains and the mountains. but they trans- gressed and offended. he quotes the cosmographer al-Qaswini: “‘It is related in histories. the proclaiming of His holiness. I was told that the use of iron tools on a temple is forbidden—that iron. And I’ll tell you why. And I would prefer that you. When could they start?” “Tomorrow. and men (of earth). whose name be exalted. jinn (of smokeless fire). in ancient times. pollutes whatever it touches. he raised his arms and declared: “Let the building of the Tem- ple begin!”* * Islamic theology divides intelligent beings into three species: angels (created of light). The bad— known as shaytan. His worship. their drink. and drove away the Jinn. and opposed their prophets. whose name be exalted. Their food is the celebrating of His glory.      offer is accepted. Know that the Angels are sanctified from carnal desire and the disturbance of anger: they disobey not  in what He hath commanded them. and the favours of  were multiplied upon them. and law. that a race of Jinn.’” Al-Qaswini explains the difference between angels and jinn: “‘The difference between them and the Jinn and Sheytans is a difference of species. Of jinn. but do what they are com- manded. and covered it. and religion. their sovereign. they are simply those jinn who have gone bad—who (like Lucifer and his fallen angels) have rebelled against . being the material of weapons. sent against them an army of Angels. their pleasure. before the creation of Adam. the land and the sea. In Edward Lane’s commentary on The Arabi- an Nights. or “devils”—are possibly a distinct species. if you’d like. the job is theirs. whereupon . But how much more polluting would be the sweat and toil of forced labor! If your jinn are willing. the com- memoration of . Who are the jinn? They seem to have been the original inhab- itants of the earth. More likely.’” Jinn. who took possession of the earth. are supernatural beings with passions and activities similar to our own. their conversation.

and to throw down bricks and stones on persons passing by. of houses.” The invisi- bility of jinn is reflected in their name.”  . “are asserted often to station themselves on the roofs. good jinn assume the form of an attractive human. A jinni named Teer. bad jinn. “They become invisible at pleasure (by a rapid extension and rarefaction of the particles which compose them). or closets. repeat the words ‘In the name of . the Merciful!’ on locking the doors of their houses. alms-giving. brings on calamities and injuries.In all these respects they differ from the Angels. “or suddenly dis- appear in the earth or air. (The bad are wily. What religion do they follow? “Some of the Jinn are Muslims. Sot encourages lies. or anything containing food. meaning “concealed” or “hidden. or through a solid wall.’” Jinn have been known to manifest as humans.    and drink. infidels. Many learned and devout persons. No mischief is too reprehensible for a jinni. sometimes in conjunction with human beings….” Like men.” notes Lane. their appearance can vary.’” says al-Qaswini. animals. and propagate their species. they are prone to excess and sinfulness. fasting during the month of Ramadan.” says Lane. or at the windows. El-Aawar promotes debauch- ery. to secure their property from such depredations. which is thought to derive from the Arabic janna.) How are men affected by jinn? Unfortunately. and may appear in the guise of a seductive woman. or even whirlwinds and other natural phenomena. it is the bad jinn who seem to have the most influence on us. The good Jinn acquit themselves of the imperative duties of religion. namely.” When they are visible. they are mortal (though living for many centuries). As a rule. of a demonic- looking creature. with transparent bodies. “‘The jinn are aërial animals. “Malicious or disturbed Jinnees.” says Lane. They are also very apt to pilfer provisions. And like men. the Compassionate. combinations of the two. but in the performance of these duties they are generally invisible to human beings. They are also capable of salvation or damnation. &c. “‘which can assume various forms. “and others. for example. the fire in his veins escapes and con- sumes him to ashes. Dasim causes strife between husbands and wives. When they take possession of an uninhabited house. rooms. prayer. they sel- dom fail to persecute terribly any person who goes to reside in it. and pilgrimages to Mekkeh and Mount ’Arafat. When a jinni receives a mortal wound.” That invisibility is a distinctive trait of the jinn. and on covering the bread-basket. however.

modern- day fishermen have found these bottles in their nets and opened them—whereupon the jinni (unaware of the passage of time) cries out: “I repent. we follow various paths. jinn can be summoned and made to per- form various services. Suleyman compelled the Jinn to assist in building the Temple of Jerusalem.”  . Sharia—Islamic law—has dealt with relations between men and jinn. Caves. and in various other works.” A particular place often has its resident jinni—its genius loci.” (al-Jinn. including the following verses: “And He created the jinn from smokeless fire. crossroads. a significant body of law was elaborated by religious jurisconsults.” (al-Rahmaan. This he did by virtue of a most wonderful talisman.” (Saba.” (al-Zariyat. marketplaces. upon which was engraved ‘the most great name’ of …. they are sometimes imprisoned in bottles. basins like wells. ) And over the centuries. ovens—these are some of the places where jinn are known to reside.By virtue of this name. wells. By means of talismans and spells. cemeter- ies. ) “I created jinn and mankind only that they might worship Me. the Son of David). O King!” The bottles are so numerous that releasing jinn has become a sport among the fishermen. Reportedly. dealing with such matters as the prop- erty rights of jinn and cases of mixed marriage between jinn and women. rivers. He is said to have punished disobedient jinn by confining them to brass bottles and tossing them into the sea. It was a seal-ring.      But the tables can be turned on these miscreants. Rather. and cooking-pots built into the ground. Where they do not normally reside is in bottles. ruined houses. in fact. which is said to have come down to him from heaven. Lane cites a celebrated example of such control: “No one ever obtained such absolute power over the Jinn as Suleyman Ibn-Daood (Solomon. According to historian Robert Irwin: “Since jinn often move about in the world of men and transact business with humans. who was responsible for this misconception. It was King Solomon. The Qur’an contains a number of references to jinn. ) “They [the jinn] made for him [Solomon] what he willed: syn- agogues. engraved on his ring. statues. ) “Some of us [jinn] are righteous and some are less than right- eous.

it has been suggested that we put them to use.    But what about in modern times? Are jinn still taken serious- ly? Are they still the object of precautions? When Lane wrote his treatise on them in the s.” insists Professor al-Ashqar. learned as well as vulgar.” He recommends that jinn—who  . Yet instead of simply endur- ing their mischief.” Today. and the Muslims in general. a proponent of “Islamic science. So we may be stuck with the jinn. “They live in our houses and they eat and drink with us. Umar al-Ashqar urges us to recognize the real- ity of these troublesome beings. belief in the existence of jinn con- tinues to be widespread. In his scholarly The World of the Jinn and Devils (). One such proposal was made by Sultan Bashir Mohammed. he remarked that “the superstitious fancies which it describes are prevalent among all classes of the Arabs. in the Islamic world.

 years. they may be useful in establishing historical facts. especially in communication. And thewaytotruth.”  . mining and metal-work. It is quite probable that they also will be employed in security affairs. These also suggest that a day will come when we can use them in many jobs. even in space studies and historical research.      are made of fire—be harnessed to solve the energy crisis.org—a religious Web site—would have us go even further: “The verses relating to Solomon’s kingdom point to the final limit of humanity’s use of jinn and devils. Since jinn can live about .

Ab-hiram handed him a shovel. Every- one gathered around Zadok. . “And may it provide Him with  . Arriving at the Sacred Rock. the other. One of the musicians was clanging cymbals. Your Majesty. the procession halted.” said the architect. blowing on a trumpet. and Solomon stepped forward. “The honor of groundbreaking is yours. Solomon dug into the earth and removed a shovelful of dirt.  - bers of the royal family—was making its way up Mount Moriah. With a grave expression. They played a fanfare. “May a house for  rise in splendor upon this conse- crated ground. When it was over. Zadok nodded to the musicians. The morning sun glinted in the brass of their instruments.” said Zadok. he sprinkled oil on the ground. followed by a pair of musicians. There was a ripple of applause.   Groundbreaking A — . Leading it were King Solomon and Zadok. Then he intoned a lengthy prayer.

I’m still around. and a sleepy-looking Abiathar emerged. With such a thing in its backyard. “Abiathar. it has this rock of power. Moreover. On the first day of Creation. we are told. Time to leave my home upon the mount.” “Actually. Isaiah affirms its divine origin: “Thus saith the Lord : Behold. May the Sacred Rock continue to hum—to the glory of . But your trumpeting has roused me. Let me say that it has been a privilege to serve up here. “the rock is to be incorporated into the structure. It’s one of those spots where heaven and earth meet. For this high place is linked to the Other World. and I’m ready to depart. coming out of the Sacred Rock?” From the cave beneath the rock had poked a head. I seem to have overslept. sir. the rock was the cornerstone of both the Temple and the entire earth. “He took the eben shetiyyah and laid it on the site of the Temple and upon it the world became founded. “’Tis but I. Believe me.” said Ab-hiram. One feels it constantly—though especially at night. It thus became known as the Foundation Stone. when the rock seems to be humming beneath the stars.      a more suitable residence than He has hitherto enjoyed— that He may dwell among us in pomp and glory. a precious cornerstone. Indeed. a tried stone. But ho! Who’s that. This is a momentous day for Israel—and a day of moving for me. “I wanted to stay until the last moment.” said Abiathar. or eben shetiyyah ( ).” he said.” “Then I leave my home content. a sure foundation. Our plan is to locate the Holy of Holies directly over it.” The rabbis considered the Foun-  . it’s to be the very foundation of the Temple. Keeper of the Altar. a vital force—a supernatural energy— emanates from the rock. And I can tell you this: there’s no better site for the Temple. I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone. And may it ener- gize His worshipers!”* * The Sacred Rock served as the floor of the Holy of Holies— a kind of pedestal for the Ark of the Covenant.” “How now? You’re still residing up here?” “Yes.” And according to the Talmud. the Temple will surely find favor with .

he avows. converted into cubits.) Today the Foundation Stone is enshrined in the Dome of the Rock. For more on Ritmeyer’s findings. (It is. A -inch by -inch rectangle. He realized that its dimensions.”) It is also revered for its connection with Muhammad and his Night Journey. which has caused a stir in archeological circles. The guide will point out an indentation in the Rock. An emplacement basin for the Ark? He then determined (based on apparent traces) where on the Rock the walls of the Holy of Holies must have been—and saw that the depression was located precisely in their center. he explains. (On a wall of the Dome is the inscription “The Rock of the Temple—from the Garden of Eden. see his Secrets of Jeru- salem’s Temple Mount ().  . This is Muhammad’s foot- print. The angel had to restrain the Rock. exactly matched those of the Ark of the Covenant (as recorded in the Book of Exodus). of course. the imprint of Gabriel’s fin- gers. this shallow depression caught the attention of archeologist Leen Ritmeyer. left behind as the Prophet—accompanied by the angel Gabriel—leapt onto a stairway of light and ascended to Paradise. And the Rock has another indentation. the huge Batu-Ribn rock is simi- larly viewed by the Semang pygmies of Malaysia. For it may be tangible evidence that the Rock served as a pedestal for the Ark of the Covenant. or navel of the earth. one of many such stones. which wanted to follow them upwards. Known to Muslims as es-Sakhra—“the Rock”—it is revered for its association with the Temple. The guide points out.  dation Stone to be the center of the world—the umbilicus terrae. The omphalos stone at the sanctuary of Delphi was deemed to be the central point of the earth. For it was from this outcropping of bedrock that Muhammad ascended into the heavens. too. etc.

Ab-hiram compared it with the marked-off area. and after the Deluge  years. There was a puff of smoke as a jinni appeared. Clutching a blueprint. Short and muscular. You have been briefed on the work that lies ahead. until Solomon built the Temple. Another jinni appeared. in the second month.” “Then let us summon our laborers. viii. his assistants. A rectangular area. he was clad only in a loincloth. and Asmodeus assembled atop the mount.* Early that morning.” said Asmodeus. and from Adam. Remem- * When exactly was this? Josephus tells us in no uncertain terms: “Solomon began to build the Temple in the fourth year of his reign. and you know what to do. until a hundred jinn were standing on the mount. Their bare backs glistened in the sun. who wants to build a Temple—a house for . containing the Sacred Rock. the first man who was created. was marked off with twine and pegs.  years after the Exodus out of Egypt. Asmodeus raised a megaphone and addressed them.” he said. but  years from Abraham’s coming out of Mesopo- tamia into Canaan.” (Antiquities. cheerfulness. “Gentlemen. I have confidence that the work will be performed with diligence. and—please!—the proper decorum.’ and the Hebrews ‘Ziv’. Finally he nodded and said: “I believe we’re ready to begin. And the king of the jinn clapped his hands. the architect Ab-hiram. like popcorn popping.   Construction F       brought to the site. there had passed in all  years. identical to the first. And the puffs of smoke con- tinued. :)  . And soon thereafter—on the second day of the month of Ziv—construction began. which the Macedonians call ‘Artem- isius. “you are about to enter into the service of my good friend King Solomon.

they had to be put in place. Fifty of them shoveled earth into wheelbarrows. we are told that King Solo- mon conscripted laborers—more than . And consider the full title that was given to the Testament of Solomon: “Testament of Solomon.” Or to archeologist Leen Ritmeyer: “Once the stones arrived at the building site. no man could have lifted these stones to such a height. for mere men to lift them into place. By means of them also he wrought all the transcendent works of the Temple. the medieval historian: “When  revealed unto Solomon that he should build Him a Temple. The building of the Temple had begun. they said. Now.” (Ritmeyer was discussing Herod’s Temple. genii and Afrites [demons] of the earth. Their initial task was to exca- vate a foundation and to create a level platform on the mount. Yet no mention is made of the participation of jinn. Solomon assembled all the wisest men. Instead. who was king in Jerusalem. on the earth. stones weigh- ing over  tons are still in place at a height of at least  feet above the foundations. they were right. both the Talmud and the Qur’an affirm that jinn were involved. How did they get there? At our excava- tion site. You were selected to be here because you are among the most reliable of my minions. grab either a shovel or a wheelbarrow.” Or listen to al-Siuti. the other fifty rolled the loads to where fill was needed.So he began to build the Temple.  . It would have been impossible.* * Both the Book of Kings and the Book of Chronicles describe in detail the construction of the Temple. some of the more pious local laborers who worked with these stones were so awed by their size that they attributed their placement to angels. In a sense. another to cut blocks and columns from the marble mines…. On the other hand. and under the earth. and the mightiest of the devils.  ber. it is a privilege to be associated with this project. notwith- standing all the sophisticated Roman engineering equipment available at the time. son of David. At both the south- west and southeast corners of the Temple Mount. of them—from among his subjects. And let’s start digging and hauling earth! The architect and his aides will direct you in the specifics. and appointed one division of them to build. and mastered and controlled all spirits of the air.” And the jinn set to work.

King Solomon procured the shamir. in their respective spheres. Foundations were laid. near the Damascus Gate. Barclay.) What was the reality? Perhaps the Temple was a joint project: men and jinn working together.† but his comments would apply equally to Solomon’s. Suddenly the dog sniffed something. So now. cut. And the digging and hauling continued. and disappeared. Retaining walls were built. whose hum seemed to be grow- ing louder. these blocks were measured. the jinn began to fashion enormous blocks of stone. And of the Sacred Rock. Donning hard-hats. Like a gang of miners. the only nighttime sound was that of shovels and wheelbarrows. * According to Islamic lore. Its entrance is just outside the Old City of Jerusalem. dug a hole at the base of the wall. Enlarging the  . Day and night. Known today as Zedekiah’s Cave (King Zedekiah is said to have escaped the Babylonian siege via a secret tunnel in the cave). an American physi- cian residing in Jerusalem. they filed through its entrance. they marched to a nearby cave—the Royal Quarry. Harpax provided illumination. Initially. with his head of flame. and polished—dragged to the site—lifted into place. † The Royal Quarry of the kings of Israel still exists and may be visited. But in . Exter- ior walls were begun. was taking a walk along the city wall with his two sons and dog. Dr. it was sealed up by the Ottoman rulers of the city and forgotten. in response to these complaints. as the summit was readied for the Temple. And the Temple began to rise upon the mount.* • It was time for the jinn to become stoneworkers.      • At night the work site was illuminated by Harpax. And using the shamir. the Jerusalemites complained about the noise of stonecutting (not about singing). the jinn had sung as they worked—both night and day. But the inhabitants of Jerusalem complained that the singing kept them awake.

And amid the silence and gloom. Carved into the limestone walls were niches that had once held lamps. A visitor today will notice a more recent feature: Masonic sym- bols carved into the walls. conquered it. Other- wise.” said Asmodeus. So he built a causeway out to the island. Alexander had quickly con- quered the satellite. into which water seeped and collected.  . Dr. * When Alexander the Great besieged Tyre. marks of chisels. chips. Fragments of clay vessels were scat- tered nearby—the remains of cups. They trod warily through a series of mam- moth chambers. The cave was clearly man-made: crude pillars had been left in place to support the ceilings—a standard prac- tice of quarrymen. but the island refused to surrender. At this basin the toiling quarry- men (whether men or jinn) had slaked their thirst. inhabitants to slavery. with lamps and compass. Everywhere were signs of stonecutting: unfin- ished blocks. and reduced its . • A caravan was moving along the causeway that linked the island-city of Tyre with the Phoenician mainland. a visitor may ponder the fact that directly overhead are the teeming lanes of the Old City.  • The structure was sheathed now in scaffolding. That night he and his sons returned. And there was even an antique drink- ing fountain: a five-foot-wide basin cut into the rock. and the ceilings were blackened. and explored the cave. From below Ab-hiram and Asmodeus monitored their progress. Ahimaaz has committed an anachronism here. “Reminds me of an Amish barn-raising. For many years Freemasons—who consider King Solomon to be the founder of their order—have held secret meetings in this cavern. Perhaps an earlier causeway existed in Solomon’s time. as the jinn worked on the upper walls. Some ancient hand had carved a sphinx into the wall—perhaps as a talisman of protection. the city consisted of an island and a mainland satellite.* Leading the caravan on horseback were Ab-hiram and hole. from the smoke of the lamps. Barclay discovered the entrance to a cave.

the jinn carried enormous kegs on their backs. was Hiram. Bent and perspiring. He escorted Ab-hiram and Asmodeus to the palace. The architect (Ahimaaz calls him Ab-hiram. A scantily-clad priestess was tending a fire at the god’s feet. At one end of it was a towering statue of Baal. on a throne with an ornate canopy.      Asmodeus. Marching behind them were the hundred jinn. The pair were led into the throne room.* * Two Tyrians named Hiram appear in the Bible: Hiram the king and Hiram the architect. or Master Hiram) was in the employ of King Solo- mon. the king of Tyre. The caravan passed through the city gate and was greet- ed by an official. Seated at the other end. The Book of Chronicles has this to say about him:  .

endowed with understanding…. who was munching grapes and being fanned by a slave—welcomed the visitors to his kingdom. Is that true?” “It is indeed. in brass. in stone. “Sing- ing lustily. in iron.” “I’m afraid not. and I am pleased now to do business with the son.  Hiram—a corpulent man. “Greetings.” “I see. Might your jinn be available for general work? I’d love to employ them. The trees are tall and heavy. esteemed partners in trade. and wheat will follow in the near future. and never complain.The son of a woman of the daughters of Dan [the Hebrew tribe that bor- dered Phoenicia]. The carriers of the kegs are my subjects. “A hundred kegs of wine. half-Phoenician.” “My jinn will have no problem. “I have an exclusive arrangement with Solomon. and in tim- ber. they will haul the cedars back to Jerusalem— “A cunning man. and crimson cloth. and locale. in fine linen.” “Excellent!” said Hiram. “I am Asmodeus. the initial shipment of goods?” “That is correct. The olive oil. We are working under contract to King Solomon. Often did I trade with David the father.” said Ab-hiram. I am informed that the kegs were transported by jinn. But let me ask you something.” said Asmodeus. work without pay.” said Hiram. I believe.” said Asmodeus. “Anyhow. You have brought with you. King of the Jinn.” he said. Both peoples were Canaanites.  . “In exchange.” said Asmodeus. and in silver. you may proceed to the Mountains of Lebanon and cut down the agreed-upon number of cedars. “We have been anticipating your arrival. also to engrave any manner of engraving. language. But be forewarned. Solomon shall have his cedars. Hiram the architect is a remind- er that the two peoples shared a culture. Your Highness.” Half-Israelite. and his father was a man of Tyre. and will not be easy to transport. in purple.” “I understand they are incredibly strong. Skillful to work in gold. blue. and to carry out any design that is put to him. barley.

“Now I also agreed to lend him a team of skilled artisans. It specifies the price Solomon is offering for the cedar wood (“twenty thousand measures of beaten wheat. May Baal grant you a safe journey. he shall build a house unto My name. † This commercial transaction arose from an exchange of let- ters between Hiram and Solomon. saying. They shall accompany you back. floated south to the port of Joppa.” A somewhat different version of the letter is found in the Book of Chronicles. so that there is neither adversary nor mis- fortune. seeing that the heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him? Who am I then. I purpose to build a house unto the name of the Lord my . It also contains a nugget of wisdom: “And the house which I build is great: for great is our  above all gods.” said Hiram. that I should build Him a house—other than to burn sacrifice before Him?”  . the cedar logs were dragged to the Phoenician coast. and twenty thousand measures of barley. then dragged overland to Jerusalem—by thousands of Israelites. For we have no one as skilled at cutting trees as the Sidonians. as the Lord spake unto David my father. barley. and my ser- vants shall be with thy servants.”† • As the Temple neared completion. until the Lord put them under the soles of his feet. whom I will set upon thy throne in thy place.”* “Solomon is fortunate to have such laborers. behold. But now the Lord my  hath given me rest on every side. and twenty thousand baths [bath = 6½ gallons] of wine.      grateful for the exercise. and twenty thousand baths of oil”). And don’t forget that olive oil. The text of Solomon’s letter has been preserved in the Book of Kings: “Thou knowest how that David my father could not build a house unto the name of the Lord his  on account of the wars which were about him on every side. ‘Thy son. a busy hum filled its * In the Biblical account. and wheat. and preserve the bond between our two nations. and I shall pay thee for thy servants whatever thou sayest.’ Now therefore command thou that they hew me cedar trees out of Lebanon. But who is able to build Him a house. And.

The floor beneath the wings—the surface of the Sacred Rock—remained empty. “Good smell. The cedars from Phoenicia had been cut into boards and carved with ornamentation.  interior. As the pun- gency grew. which I spake unto David thy father. Those of the Holy of Holies were being covered with gold. And He shall dwell in it. And the word of the Lord came to Solomon. Their outstretched wings filled the cube that was the Holy of Holies. The hall filled with the fragrance of cedar. • The cherubim were hoisted into place. and execute My judgments. And the walls of the main hall were being paneled with a material that was equally pre- cious—cedar wood. a jinni turned to a co-worker. if thou wilt walk in My statutes. But it had been carved with a shallow basin. when an angel spoke to him: “The Lord thy  is pleased with the house that you have raised for Him.”* * This vision is described in the Book of Kings: “So he built the house and finished it…. Working side by side.” “A cigar box!” they cried in unison.”  . and finished it.He paneled the house with cedar wood. and keep all My commandments to walk in them. and serve Him.’ So Solomon built the house.” he said. then will I perform My word with thee. And I will dwell among the children of Israel. • Solomon was drifting in and out of sleep. “It reminds me of something. me too. Tyrian craftsmen and jinn were paneling the walls. and obey His laws.” “Yeah. the two pinewood figures had been overlaid with gold. and dwell among your people—for as long as they shall harken until Him. and will not forsake My peo- ple Israel. Sculpted by Tyrian craftsmen. saying: ‘Concerning this house which thou art building.

the work was complete. The scaffolding was dismantled.  . The site was cleared of debris. The floors and courtyards were swept. And the mount was crowned now with a Temple.      • With the tiling of the roof.

She asked to make a stop at her shrine. But a distressing dream— one that has left me shaken. Benaiah. Forgive me for having startled you. did I get mar- ried last night?” “No. was its mean- ing? Listen to my dream. before it fades from memory. “It was the day on which I was to marry Tutmosa. the city was preparing for the Temple’s ded- ication. Benaiah. “No.” And Solomon began an account of his dream. But I was concerned only with the preparations for my wedding. Sire. Approaching the bed. With great rejoicing. Stretched  . Yet King Solomon was still asleep in his bed. A hum of activity rose from the city below. “The wedding feast was about to begin. what have I done?” “You have overslept. he leaned over the sleeping king and whispered loudly: “Awake.” “So then. “Bizarrely. Solomon. Sire.” “A meeting. “Alas. What. should you ever oversleep.” “That’s all I’m late for? Tell me. Let me relate it. and Tutmosa and I were proceeding to the banquet hall. the marriage—my fiftieth—was scheduled for the same day as the completion of the Temple. So I let her lead me to the Egyptian-style shrine that housed her idols. he bolted upright. But you left standing orders to wake you. Awake!” Solomon opened his eyes. “and are late for a meeting. no!” he moaned. And with a look of horror. The door opened and Benaiah entered the room. I wonder. It was only a dream. you say?” “With your advisers.” “I’m listening. Not to my knowledge.” said Benaiah.” he said.   Dream S         chamber. Sire.

a spider!’ she said. ‘Do these people deserve a Temple?’ He wondered aloud. which blocked our way. Each had a musical instrument dedicated to a particular god. ‘A spider. “When the last priestess had left. We lit incense and climbed into the bed. But instead. A din of merriment echoed from the rafters. the priests were singing hymns. An undulating succession of them. “‘Ah. And clutch- ing goblets of wine. play upon the instru- ment. laughing and joking.      across the doorway was a string. ‘You have bowed to my gods and sacrificed to them—thereby becoming their worshiper! Long have you sought to convert me to your . we consummated our  . But the din of revelry in the banquet hall drowned them out. I ducked under the string and entered the shrine. at last!’ she said triumphantly. I have converted you. It was located in that pyramid of hers.’ “Needless to say. “Suddenly she cried out in distress and pointed toward the floor. Obligingly.  was looking down upon this feast. “At midnight the wedding feast concluded. Tutmosa and I sat down at the head of the table and joined in. But I shrugged off the incident and we resumed our walk to the banquet hall. No sooner had we done so than a priestess visited the pyramid—followed by another priest- ess. “Meanwhile. at such drunken revelry on the eve of the dedication. Seated at a long table were hundreds of guests—eating and drinking. then another. and depart. She would pronounce the god’s name. And He shook His head. I was taken aback. There we found the wedding feast already in progress. “Up on Mount Moriah. I stepped on the spider and killed it. “The bed had a canopy that was studded with gems and that glittered like a skyful of stars. scheduled for the next morning. followed by Tutmosa. Tutmosa and I headed for the marriage bed. And so caught up was I in my wedding feast that I for- got about the dedication of the Temple.

still asleep. “Suddenly. the god- dess of love. Above me were the glittering gems of the canopy. And because I had the keys to the Temple. “The doors have no locks. Anyhow. I slept on.” “But there are no keys to the Temple. “Morning came and I awoke. ‘I am a disciple of Hathor. Bathsheba came storming into the pyramid. Dreams need not be true to factual reality—though they do have a truth of their own.’ she whispered to me. Benaiah. as the morning wore on. After a night of love- making we fell asleep. the dedication could not pro- ceed. And consequently I slept through the hour in which the Temple was to be dedicated.  marriage.  . Beside me was my bride. I assumed it was still nighttime and went back to sleep. for Tutmosa was versed in the erotic arts. Tutmosa dozed beside me. It was a voluptuous experience. Noontime approached.” said Benaiah. Several times I did that. Mistaking them for stars.” “This was a dream.

Solomon.” said Solomon. How could I have overslept. “You may imagine my relief. “We may not always be strong.’ she said. hasten to the Temple. she moaned. I heard a voice saying. on account of its king having sinned. A sand bar formed and become an island. Who can tell what the future will bring? My  . she departed from the pyramid. In a shrill voice she rebuked me for my sloth. my licentiousness. Yet how convincing a dream—and how horrific! How overwhelming. not me. Sand and mud collected around the reed. as I realized it had all been a dream. And He resolved to punish Israel. So He summoned an angel and ordered him to create a city called Rome. ‘that the armies of Rome shall destroy the Temple. And how terrible ’s judgment upon Israel—the destruc- tion of the Temple. And muttering her disgust with me.  became furious. Then a man came to the island and built a hut—the first dwelling place of the city of Rome. My father.’ said .’ “As these words reverberated in the heavens. “And what did I do? I went back to sleep! “Seeing me do so.” “Things can change. my impiety—and for marrying an Egyptian. for having such a son. ‘You had better. Awake!’ I awoke—and it was you. was a -fearing man. “Where is Rome? Who has heard of it? And who would fear it in any case? Our army is unbeatable. as I awoke. “‘And it shall come to pass. she said.      She awoke me with a shout and berated me. They would blame her. “So I assured her that I would rise immediately. by this city of Rome. on this morning of all mornings? The most important day of my reign—the dedication of the Temple! People would criticize her. and lead the ceremonies. ‘Awake. “The angel descended to earth and struck a reed into the sea.” “Rome?” said Benaiah with a snort of dismissal. for this scandal. my sense of having sinned. they would say. so clear- ly it’s the mother’s fault that Solomon has gone wrong.

“The dedication is only a week away.” (Numbers.g. But it abounds in oracula: dreams in which an angel or  Himself delivers a prophecy. “A dream not interpreted. you’re anxious about that. () insomnium —ordinary dreams. and you are to deliver the main prayer. () oraculum—revelations of future events. Though perhaps it merely sprang from personal anxieties. But whatever its nature.” said Solomon. arising from anxiety or physical discomfort and lacking significance. Pharaoh’s dream of seven lean cows devouring seven fat ones).  dream may have been prophetic. and () visum—hallucinations arising from a psychological disorder or demonic influence.”  . I will speak unto him in a dream. “If there be a prophet among you.” “No doubt. I the Lord will make Myself known unto him in a vision. he would be wise to pay attention to it. :) Solomon’s dream would seem to be a hybrid—an expression of anxiety (insomnium) combined with a pronouncement from  (oraculum).” declares  in the Book of Numbers. Macrobius con- cludes that there are five types of dream: () somnium—symbol- ic dreams that require interpretation. “is like a letter unopened. The Bible contains a few somnia (e. commu- nicated by a personage who appears in the dream. Obvi- ously.. () visio—actual visions of the future. “Hear now My words.” the Talmud tells us.” “Let’s hope that’s all it was.* * In his Commentary on the Dream of Scipio.” said Benaiah.

 . clapping. At the head of the priests was Zadok. who carried the furnishings from the Tabernacle—along with the Tabernacle itself.* Passing through the gateway. And least solemn of all were the ordinary Israelites who followed the procession. And they were soon engulfed by the multi- tude of priests. Less solemn were the rest of the priests. the procession entered the Temple enclosure.   Dedication A      . They climbed * Such processions still take place. And equally solemn were the priests behind them. garbed in sumptu- ous robes. It is said to mark the spot where Solomon delivered his prayer at the dedication of the Temple. the sacred tent was bound for a storeroom in the Temple. When a synagogue relocates. Near the altar a platform had been erected. His solemnity was matched by that of the four priests directly behind him. and—their white robes gleaming in the sun—a thousand priests. † Near the Dome of the Rock is a smaller structure. scores of officials. It flowed through the Outer Court and into the Court of the Priests.† But not all of the priests halted in the courtyard. Solomon took his place on the platform. blowing trumpets. Zadok and the priests with the Ark kept on going. known as the Dome of King Solomon. This festive crowd was chattering. while the dignitaries massed in front of it. who were danc- ing and singing. who carried the Ark of the Covenant. the entire congregation—bearing the Torah scrolls and march- ing on foot—treks joyously from the old building to the new. Behind him marched the seventy tribal elders. Leading it was King Solomon. Dis- mantled and folded up. clanging cymbals. and drinking from flasks.

and said: “O Lord . He shook his head at this miscalculation and * A different account of the opening of the doors is found in the Talmud: King David (we are told in Shabbat a) had asked  to forgive him for having sinned with Bathsheba.  the stairs.  . The four priests entered the Holy of Holies. They approached the Holy of Holies—the shrine that would house the Ark. O gates. And he nodded solemnly. Marching at a slow. with light that filtered in through slits in the walls.” answered Solomon.  had said: “In your lifetime I shall not let it be known. and hastily withdrew.” The sign came at the dedication of the Temple.* Zadok gestured toward the shallow basin that had been carved in the floor—in the rough surface of the Sacred Rock. The Holy of Holies was revealed. and entered the Temple. Zadok pulled it aside and opened the doors. But the poles of the Ark— protruding a few inches from the shrine—prevented them from closing. “The Lord . And  had for- given him. And in that hour all of Israel knew that  had forgiven David. Solomon led the Ark to the Holy of Holies. Zadok and the four priests traversed the hall.” And the doors opened—for David’s sake. The doors of the shrine were covered by a curtain. O everlasting doors. placed the Ark in its receptacle. But the doors would not open. Apparently. So he prayed once more. stately pace.’” “And who is that king?” asked the doors. Solo- mon then quoted from Psalm : “‘Lift up your heads. But when David had requested a public sign of that forgiveness. Remember the good deeds of David Thy servant. and let the King of Glory enter. he had not been found worthy. to no avail. The main hall was dimly lit. With a grave expression. Zadok tried to close the doors. strong and mighty. and raise yourself. Yet the doors still refused to open. turn not away the face of Thine anointed. Barely visible in the dark were the pair of cherubim. He recited prayer after prayer. But in the lifetime of your son Solomon I shall. passed between the pillars. As anointed king.

From somewhere came a faint sound. there came down a thick cloud. when the hall suddenly darkened. Zadok emerged from the Temple. And they were about to depart. a wild look in his eye. The building seemed to have come alive. not such a rough one as we see full of rain in the winter season. and were gone out. “The Glory of the Lord has filled the House of the Lord!” he cried out. Then he led the priests back through the hall.” The Shekinah—the Divine Presence—had descended upon the Temple. A fire was being kindled on the altar. With raised arms he signaled for silence. And the Ark sat in darkness. but it afforded to the minds of all a visible image and glorious appearance of ’s having descended into this Temple. Solomon stood alone on the platform—peeking at a note card. And watching from the Outer Court was the crowd that had followed the procession. as soon as the priests had put all things in order about the Ark. This cloud so darkened the place.* Outside. and stood there.  . The priests were chanting a song of praise. and of His having gladly pitched His tabernacle therein. that one priest could not discern another. beneath the wings of the cherubim. so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord. the inaugural ceremonies had begun.      pulled shut the curtain. Zadok intoned a prayer and sprinkled holy oil on the cur- tain. Zadok and the priests fell to their knees. In a posture of reverence. Awestruck. when the priests had emerged from the Holy of Holies. “A cloud of glory has entered His House! The Lord has taken up residence!” * This momentous event is described by Josephus: “Now. into the Tem- ple: such a cloud it was as was diffused and temperate.” The Book of Kings is more succinct: “And it came to pass. that a cloud filled the house of the Lord. like the tin- kling of a bell. And a spectral glow—a radiant haze—a glimmer like that of a luminous vapor—filled the Temple. and spread itself after a gentle manner.


For we are Thy people who beseech Thee. how much less this House that we have built? Yet Thou hast entered it. the Lord shall dwell in darkness. Hear our prayers and forgive us our sins. “And grant the prayers of strangers who pray toward Thy House.      As he spoke. hear us when we pray at this House. yet repent. For Thou knowest the secrets of the heart. “O Lord. flames bellowed up from the altar. “And the Holy of Holies is unlit. be merciful unto us. And in its Holy of Holies He has enthroned Himself. “May  be with us. there is none like Thee. “And answer our prayers for help. His footstool? The Ark of the Covenant. give us rain. “O  of Israel.  . We thank Thee for making us Thy people and abiding in our midst. In times of famine and pestilence and war. From the thronged courtyards rose a murmur of excitement. Punish the wicked and reward the righteous. Zadok struggled to regain his composure. As is fitting—for He is not a visible deity. who began the dedicatory prayer. O Lord. For who amongst us does not sin? “And judge us. as He was with Abraham and Moses. “who has fulfilled today His promise to David my father. And give to each man according to what is in his heart. “Blessed be the Lord.” Solomon knelt and spread his palms heavenward.” said Solomon in a loud voice. deliver us. His throne? The wings of the cherubim. In times of drought. “And when we sin against Thee. Solomon bowed his head. May He not forsake us. that we may follow His ways and keep His com- mandments. But canst Thou truly dwell upon the earth? If the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee. And may all the peoples of the earth come to know Thy Name and call upon Thee. He has allowed us to build for Him a House. For though He created the sun. And may He dwell within our hearts. He signaled to Solomon. and hal- lowed it with Thy Presence.” Rising from his knees.

That the peoples of the earth may behold Thy justice. the sanctuary represented. Morris Jastrow explains the purpose of a temple: “Throughout antiquity. Zadok pointed to the altar. since at times he clearly perceived that they controlled his welfare. Remem- ber them and be just with us. beseeched Him. Amen. now and forever. “O Lord. the Temple was similar to other temples of the Near East—with one exception.Primitive man sought to localise the unseen Powers. he dimly felt that they should be propitiated. the dwelling of a god.* * In Religious Belief in Babylonia and Assyria. praised Him with song. at the head of a Roman  . how much less an idol? (When Pompey entered Jerusalem. The face of its resident deity was nowhere to be seen! For Yahweh—the Creator of all form—was Himself without form. and could not be embodied in a statue. No physical representation of Yahweh—no idol—was venerated therein. prayer. and feast- ing were about to begin. hear these words of mine today. all-knowing. or in that of the group to which he belonged. And the first of thousands of sheep and oxen were led toward the altar. and His mercy endureth forever.  “O Lord . Seven days of sacrifice. and through an instinct. Among the Semites it grows up around the sacred stone…. boundless. “Let the offerings begin!” he said. propitiated Him with sacrifice. And it was filled with His Presence. If the heavens could not contain Him. There the Israelites worshiped Him.” The crowd in the Outer Court repeated the refrain.” The multitude of priests chanted: “For He is good. and know that Thou art .” The Temple in Jerusalem was built as a residence for Yahweh (who had previously resided in the Tabernacle—a kind of mobile home—and on Mount Sinai). He was pure Being. dwell in our midst. He transcended the universe. Thus. forming part of his mea- gre equipment at the outset of his strange and miraculous career. first and foremost. and apparent- ly intervened at critical moments in his own life. unimaginable and beyond descrip- tion. The House of  had been dedicated. All-powerful.

“is with Israel when men gather for prayer.  .  is not an idea. Instead. he insisted upon being shown the contents of the Holy of Holies—and was astonished to find it devoid of an idol. the Divine Presence rested upon the Ark and emanated outward. His immanent presence. Bereft of His sanctuary. “that which dwells”). For it is said to linger yet on the ancient stones of the Western Wall—the surviving remnant of the Temple. it joined the Jews in their exile and wanderings. Known as the Shekinah ( . The Shekinah—the Divine Presence—was that manifestation. And it has accompanied them ever since. “His Sheckinah. when scholars sit and study Torah. but an intimate.” Yet the Shekinah may not be gone entirely from Mount Moriah. the Shekinah did not return to heaven. For Yahweh had chosen to manifest Himself to Israel.  continued to manifest Himself— in more modest venues.) Yet this boundless deity did inhabit the Temple—with His Presence.” writes Rabbi Daniel Silver. the rabbis tell us. and when a husband and wife manage their home harmoniously.      legion. When the Temple was destroyed.

Until this hour. if thou repent. The flickering light played across his craggy features. And gold from Ophir. a mighty King. His Presence pulsing in a darkened space. For  Most High A worthy House now crowns the mystic mount. He dwelt within a tent— A flimsy shrine that roamed from place to place. That  is glorious. His heart yearns for atonement. thou whom sin has bent. “I heard you wanted to see me. And now for sinful Man does  await. guilt-racked. Who. “’Tis I. And cedar fragrant as a mountain grove.”  . But now His new abode—of gleaming stone. On wings of cherubs is He now enthroned. M: So is the Temple built. Here  shall straighten thee. Lurking in the shadows like a thief? A figure was standing in the portal. But ho! I’m not alone. and spoke. unto all Israel. Tarry not. And so He waits With gifts of grace—forgiveness—amnesty.” said Adam. ’s ear awaits the music of those prayers. Finally he sighed. It came forward into the light. leaned back in his chair.   viewing the dedication. Who’s that there. His eye keeps watch for tears of self-reproach. shall come unto this House With prayers and pleas and cries of penitence. He watched as the thou- sand priests chanted a hymn. silver from Bashan— Does like a fortress sit upon the mount And does proclaim.   Donor O      .

It was you. That’s it. “This is great. and take a look at what’s showing on the screen. for in Paradise he and Eve had known only perpetual light. and gasped in surprise as a flame shot up.” Repeatedly. On the other hand. Adam squeezed the lighter.      “Yes. when the sun began to set. The jinni emerged. “It’s yours. Adam. And there’s something else I called you here for. Was the serpent creeping up in the dark to bite  . handed him something. “Squeeze it. Go over to that bottle and rub it. “Come in. for making fire.” said Melchizedek. to save the life of the infant Solomon. And thanks again for that generous donation. on account of their sin. So you originated the need for this Temple. That’s the Temple. gazing with awe at the flame. the world was returning to a state of chaos. you also helped to make it possible.” “It was worth it.” said Adam. Adam gazed blankly at the object in his hand. Now he is king and has built the Temple.” “I did?” “Don’t you recall? You donated sixty years of your life. “How did I ever get along without this thing?”* * Included in the Book of Adam—a collection of legends about Adam. written during the Græco-Roman period—was the fol- lowing account of the origin of fire: It was the first day of their banishment. of course.” he said. Adam feared that.” said Melchizedek. And Adam was bemoan- ing his fate. dedicated just moments ago. Terror gripped him as the earth darkened. ’s new home. and zipped back into the bottle. My best to your wife. who brought sin into the world.” “Not another donation?” “No—I have something for you. A token of appreciation. “It’s called a lighter.” Adam squeezed.” Adam approached the bottle and rubbed it. Was he about to die? he wondered. There Israel will come to pray and sacrifice—to confess their sins and be forgiven. “Go home now. So I wanted to show you the result of your donation. up on the screen. No more fussing with flints. for having sacrificed those years.

But not wishing to disobey Him for a second time. greatness. they wept constantly and lamented  . in an abbreviated form. Therefore have I deprived you of the bright nature that was originally yours. But now our eyes are altered —we have bodies of flesh!—and cannot see as before. who once could behold the angels in heaven as they sang hymns to . Moreover. Adam and Eve trudged to their new home—a cave in a boulder. compared with the sheltering hand of the Lord? What is this rock-strewn plain. to which  had directed them. they huddled in the dark. and reinterpreted its contents. If only you had not dis- obeyed My commandment and had kept My law. This biography (or historical romance) takes up the story of the first man and woman where the Book of Genesis leaves off. Thus did the Book of Adam explain the origin of fire.  him? He trembled and wept. it offers a compelling account of their later lives. “that is to be our prison in this world. and prayed. the book has been hypothetically reconstructed—from rab- binical literature that drew from it. he and Eve could cook their food and make burnt offerings to . And  took pity on Adam.” he said. through your desire for divinity.” In the days that followed. and cast you from the Garden into this land. Adam and Eve took up residence in the cave. Not even the actual title is known. For the Book of Adam is a lost work: there are no extant copies. Here. How- ever. and an exalted state such as I have.” They had no desire to live in this place. Adam began to weep. Or so Bib- lical scholars believe. compared with the brightness of the Garden? What is this stone roof. and from Christian writings that incorporated. elaborated. Among those Christian writings is the Book of Adam and Eve. rough and full of trouble. wept. and a place of punishment! What is the gloom of this cav- ern. thought to have been composed by an Egyptian in the fifth or sixth century. So now he had light to fend off the terrors of night. Undeservedly neglected by modern readers. Cold and hungry. compared with that grove of delicious fruit-trees? And look at us. and had not eaten of the fruit of the tree—near which I told you not to come! And there were fruit trees in the Garden better than that one. As they entered it for the first time. is the tale it tells: Expelled from Paradise. and taught him how to make fire with flint stones. “Look at this cave. And  said to them: “Of your own free will did you trans- gress.

Unwilling to live without him. to free  . On one occasion Adam grew so despondent that he climbed a mountain and leapt from it. And they wept for what they had lost. On another occasion. He revealed that one day a Redeemer would appear. But as they lay dying on the rocks below. Eve too hurled herself from the mountain.      their fate. And to console them. As they wandered about glumly—suffered cold and hunger— huddled in their cave— took pity on them. they tried to sneak back into the Garden. But they were spotted and kept out. And on yet another occasion. when the cherub at the gate wasn’t looking.  restored them to life. the pair returned to the Garden from which they had been banished and stood outside its gate.

Its waters. Adam and Eve followed after him—bound. taking on the infirmities and sufferings of man. This time he offered to lead them to the Crystal Sea. And he was about to push them off. And  further revealed that He Himself would be that Redeemer. and dispatched angels to fetch it. They were elated: an angel bringing them fire and light! And they were about to go out and bow to him. For they were saddened that  should have to suffer on their behalf. who sends angels of light? Or hast Thou sent this angel unto us? And if so. to atone for their sin. But the news of a future redemption consoled them. For Satan reappeared— bent on leading them astray. But then a new trouble came their way. And they performed acts of penance. He would enter the world in human form. But Satan was determined. Satan abandoned his disguise and fled. he said. Adam and Eve wept anew. And they sought to make the best of their situation and start new lives. Why did this angel not enter their cave? Why did he not speak and declare his purpose in coming? So Adam prayed unto  and said: “O Lord. and chased him away.  them from the wages of sin and restore them to Paradise. would cleanse them of their guilt and enable them to reenter Paradise. they begged  for forgiveness. when  called out and reproached him. why? Tell us. they thought. He was singing a hymn and holding a flame in his hand. Elated to learn of this remedy.  . And they asked Him for a token of His grace—something to comfort them in their travails. should we bow to this angel?” Whereupon. is there some other god in the world. They built an altar and left offerings to . stripped him of his disguise. Adam and Eve peeked out and saw what appeared to be an angel of light. an angel of  appeared and revealed that their visitor was Satan. when Adam became suspicious. The true angel seized Satan. for the Crystal Sea. he had come to entice them and lead them into sin. Disguised as an angel of light. On hearing this.  agreed to give them a token. Abashed at their folly. But Satan led them instead to a mountaintop. Adam and Eve were left standing on the mountaintop. And a few days later he was back— disguised again as an angel of light. They were praying one night. when a voice sounded outside the cave. They learned to grow crops.

were to be kept in the cave. however. said . He had some tasty figs brought from the Garden and given to them. the myrrh would allevi- ate their pains. faintness. nodding judiciously. O . O Lord. who claimed to be their father and offered to lead them to a land of comfort. And in a series of assaults and deceptions (reminiscent of Wily Coyote’s dogged pursuit of the Roadrunner). And they thanked  for His mercy. nor know what suffering was. the suffering and death He would endure. The treasures would provide physical comfort.” said Eve. said . These three treasures. His divinity.” said Adam. of His promise to come as a Redeemer. hunger and thirst to come upon us. But now. Thou hast brought us out into this strange land and altered us. of a lion. Thou lent us Thy grace and filled us with praises of the Holy Spirit—that we should be neither hungry nor thirsty.” “Indeed. Adam and Eve examined the figs—but were hesitant to eat them. since we transgressed Thy commandment and broke Thy law. But they were also a token. might they eat from that tree. He smote them with blows—burnt their crops—set their cave on fire— dropped a huge rock on them. On each occasion. For the gold represented His future kingdom. But to console them. and myrrh. But  refused. And he said to : “Out of Thy goodness. And when Eve was standing in water for forty days—fasting and praying as an act of penance—he disguised himself as an angel of light and persuad- ed her to quit. “Perhaps we should put them aside. They laid out the treasures. But Satan was still determined to bring about their ruin. who tried to seduce Adam. Adam and Eve were transported back to their cave. nor faintness of heart. “Who knows what might befall us if we eat these.  intervened to save them. Thou created us with a bright nature.”  .      The angels returned with gold. and caused suffering. they’re from the Garden. Yet these trials weighed heavily upon Adam. frankincense. the myrrh. Not until their redemption. He assumed various forms—of a beautiful woman. the frankincense would sweeten the air. who pounced on them. of an old man. The gold—which glowed mysteriously—would dispel the darkness. that they might eat it and regain their bright nature. said .” And he begged  for some fruit from the Tree of Life. “After all. the frankincense. he kept after them.

He warned them to beware of Satan.C. and serve as a gift for the Redeemer. and grandchildren. reprinted in The Forgotten Books of Eden (Alpha House. And he enjoined them to preserve the treasures.  And  groaned and said: “Now you are fastidious about what you eat. Now you are cautious. Malan’s translation from the Ethiopic. his body—preserved in the Cave of Treasures—would speak and offer a further warning about Satan). and myrrh were meant to survive the coming Flood. and great-grandchildren —all of whom lived with them in the Cave of Treasures. And in his th year. And that is the tale found in the Book of Adam and Eve. ). he summoned his family and blessed them. frankin- cense. Adam felt the approach of death. Adam and Eve settled into a routine existence. Too late.  . My source has been S. For the gold. In the rough land to which they had been banished. Hoary-headed and bent with age. And Adam died (though years later. They had children. too late!” And so the years passed.

however. both human and jinn. King Solomon was reluctant to change it—said he liked its old-fashioned look. such as Israel has become.” “What a bizarre contraption! One that left Solomon unimpressed—and me bruised and battered.   Throne B     . Did you hear about the new throne they tried to give him?” “New throne? No. Have you forgotten the way to Zuki’s. I’ve become indispensable to his daily routine.” “And what does Asmodeus do with his days?” “He pursues pleasure—in the form of females.” “They still need him. “As his manservant. It’s being ‘modernized. Let me tell you about this prodigy of a throne. A suite of rooms has been assigned to him.” “They’re said to be extensive.” “He seems to have taken up residence in the palace. I run errands. “We never see you any- more.” said Borak with a shrug. at replacing the throne itself.’ They also plan to build a new wing and a Tower of Learning—to accommodate the grow- ing number of both wives and books. and the felicities of ale?” “Asmodeus keeps me busy. So Asmodeus has stuck around. tend to his wardrobe. And I keep track of his appointments.” Borak nodded. But Ab- hiram persuaded him that a shabby throne room does not befit a major power. For he’s in charge of the jinn who are labor- ing on the renovations. “  the new job?” asked Gorash. bring him drinks. Solomon drew the line. and therein am I domiciled. He calls for me frequently.”  . What an amorous fellow! But he also earns his keep. Indeed. those renovations. Currently they’re remodeling the throne room. “The palace is being given a totally new look.” “I’m all ears.

Solomon was invited to drop by and take a look at ‘something interesting. And it would proclaim the majestic nature of kingship. But then Asmodeus approached him with an idea—for a replacement throne that Solomon would find irresistible. then present it to Solo- mon as a surprise. more stylish. “As part of renovating the throne room. And understandably so. “Now the seat is mounted on a high base. Ab-hiram welcomes him and leads him over to the throne. Finally the throne was com- pleted. So he and Asmodeus set out to create this throne. The seat is plushly cushioned. Moreover. and the jewels glitter like fireflies.  Borak took a sip of ale and began his account. with Asmodeus providing the concepts. Their strategy was to build the Power Throne in secret. “So Ab-hiram acquiesced. They were sure he would change his mind and adopt it. the mechanical expertise. Let me describe to you the wonder—or blunder!—that’s sitting there. And perched on its back is a bronze eagle. and leading up  . that is. saying he liked the old one—had grown accustomed to it—found it comfortable.’ But Solomon steadfastly refused. Asmodeus dubbed it the Power Throne. It is carved from cedar wood and inlaid with jewels. Ab-hiram. “Ab-hiram liked the idea. Asmodeus nods and I remove the drape—revealing the Power Throne. it had sentimental value. It would be innovative and multifunctional. We’ve got it covered with a drape. Ab-hiram wanted to replace the throne. and designed the renovations around the old throne. along with a crew of jinn.’ “So it’s late in the afternoon and into the workshop strolls King Solomon. he told Ab-hiram. “Solomon looks at it quizzically. “The seat itself is fairly ordinary—for a wealthy mon- arch. having been occupied by his father. “For several weeks they shut themselves up in the work- shop. You can smell the cedar wood. He told Solomon: ‘You need some- thing more elegant. He says nothing— apparently is at a loss for words.

as the King sits. “Anyhow. And the amount of gold in his coffers. Or even to tour the city while sitting on his throne. “And there’s more. Their jaws open and close— their tails wag—loud roars are emitted. A king must convey a sense of his dominion—must have an aura of sovereign authority—must be lionlike! Also. I’m not making this up. So a sales pitch begins.      to it are three stairs. When the royal foot touches the stairs. They indicate the number of Solo- mon’s wives. “On one armrest is a panel of buttons. They control var- ious features of the throne. and are updated daily. All these actions are powered by mechanisms hidden within the base. At the same time. wheels. For example. “How does all this work? Is it sorcery? No—engineering. Press a button and wine flows into the goblet. Solomon ponders this contrivance. You press a button and it propels itself forward! Thus. subjects. a set of trumpets pops out of the base and delivers a fan- fare. enumerating its features and capabilities. and bellows. with symbols and numbers. the eagle crows and flaps its wings. he declares. the lions are activated. he should prominently display the privileges of kingship. “And listen to this. But these are not ordinary bronze lions. Another button activates the eagle— it flaps its wings and serves as a fan. And he doesn’t know what to say. is power. And another button makes the seat vibrate—provid- ing a massage. Inside the base are mechanisms that Ab-hiram has devised. on the other arm- rest is a goblet with a tube over it. consisting of gears. explaining the need for such a throne. Ab-hiram extols the Power Throne. Each stair has a bronze lion at either end—six lions altogether. rods. The essence of kingship.  . They are mechanical. Then. to dispel both heat and flies. The Power Throne has wheels. He’s looking both dumbfounded and dubious. the King will be able to travel effortlessly throughout the palace. And there’s a unique source of power. The numbers are on cards that flip. Then Asmodeus takes over. and vassals. Over the seat is a scoreboard.

Then he asks—out of politeness or curiosity—what the source of power is. ‘Wouldn’t this make a perfect centerpiece for the throne room?’  .’ says Asmodeus. “After hearing these presentations. the massage mode. Ab-hiram smiles and opens a panel in the base. the fan. They’re running on treadmills! “‘So what do you think?’ asks Ab-hiram. enabling its occupant to snuggle up with several wives. ‘you spend a lot of time on your throne.  Hence all the amenities on the throne—the wine dispenser. Solomon still looks dubious. And crammed in with the machinery are two jinn. revealing its interior. if desired. ‘And look. He inspects the throne and mumbles something. closing the panel. Why not have one that’s grand and luxurious? Enjoy the process of ruling!’ And he points out that the seat is extra wide.

“Suddenly the seat starts to shake wildly.’ “But the King is adamant and declines even a brief trial. “Instantly. The gob- let fills up and threatens to brim over. I ask how to shut off the dispenser. I grab the goblet and down its contents. like it’s about to explode. So I do as I’m told and start to climb the stairs. So I jab at the buttons—and this time activate the massage. the wine has overflowed and is running down onto the throne. The seat starts to vibrate and shake.’ “I hit the button and wine flows from the tube. His manservant. I jump back onto the seat and jab at buttons. “‘Press the first button. Thinking quickly.’ I remark. They pop up and blast out a fanfare. I sit there try- ing to look regal. And the eagle starts crowing and flapping its wings. But like salesmen.’ “‘Why not try it out?’ says Asmodeus. Finally the actions cease and it’s quiet again. Press the button again. jump up. will serve as a stand-in. And he tells me to get up on the throne. Afraid of getting nipped. Jaws snap and tails wag as the lions let out roars. “Now my instincts tell me this is not a good idea. But I’m just a flunky.  . says Ab-hiram. he says. ‘I’ll have to think about it. They have worked many hours to build this thing—and Solomon is showing no interest in it whatsoever.’ says Ab-hiram. the Power Throne goes into action. And it starts to fill again. “‘Excellent vintage. That sets off the lions—they start roaring and snapping their jaws again. I return the goblet to its place. I panic. So Asmodeus offers a demon- stration. We think you’re going to like it. Meanwhile.’ says Solomon. smacking my lips. But I hit the wrong one and the eagle starts flapping its wings. Ab-hiram and Asmodeus are dismayed. And I’m vibrating along with it! But I manage to drain the goblet again.      “‘I don’t know. I dash up the stairs. ‘Climb up on the Power Throne and get a feel for it. they’re not about to let him walk away. And I plop down on the seat— which sets off the trumpets. ‘and demonstrate the wine dispenser. and start down the stairs.

he says—the Power Throne just isn’t his style.” “Well said.” The Book of Chronicles has a similar description. “And that’s the story of the Power Throne. my friend. There was none like it made in any kingdom. There were armrests on either side of the seat. “It could have become a tourist attraction.’ I murmur. The Book of Kings gives this description: “And the king made a great throne of ivory. and crashes. And that’s where it is now. and mentions a golden footstool.” said Gorash. Everyone jumps out of the way. But I have no idea how. the throne is depicted as being even more extraordinary. People would have come from around the world. Ab-hiram kept it in his workshop for a while. Finally. In rabbinic literature. however modest the seat from which it emanates. “Solomon’s throne was studded with precious stones  .” They clinked goblets again and downed their ales. and the back of the throne was rounded. and over- laid it with the best gold.  “And now the Power Throne starts traveling across the room—I’ve activated its wheels. he had the jinn haul it away and store it in the basement. And twelve lions stood on the one side and the other of the six steps. and shall remain. They sit me down on a bench and ask if I’m all right.” “Better they should come to hear his wisdom. Ab-hiram is shouting for me to hit the brake. I’m spinning and yelping! Then the throne comes out of its spin. in case Solomon should reconsider. heads toward a wall.* * That King Solomon possessed a “wondrous throne” is attest- ed to by a number of sources. “The next thing I remember.” “What a shame. And Josephus speaks of the “prodigious largeness” of the throne. I’ll drink to that. Can they get me anything? “‘Some more wine. they’re lifting me out of the seat. just to see the wondrous throne of King Solomon. knocking it over and going into a spin. and two lions stood beside the armrests. The throne strikes a table. But he’s going to stick with the old throne. And he praises their ingenuity and craftsmanship. “Solomon thanks them for all the work they did. I’m dizzy and battered. The throne had six steps.

And oxen. Darius (who wisely refrained from using the throne).” These animals were mechanical. growls. Among them were Pharaoh Sheshonk (who carried it off to Egypt). and birds were attached to the throne. Pharaoh Nekho (who was injured by the lifting mechanism). The last reported sighting of King Solomon’s throne was in the second century. moldering in some muse- um? Solomon’s throne is not to be confused. and Antiochus Ephiphanes. Solomon is alleged to have flown to the mountains via his carpet—to escape the burdens of kingship and refresh his soul.  . with the so-called “thrones of Solomon. and howls—at the approach of a perjurer. and would take Solomon wherever he wished to go. They tell us that the mechanical menagerie produced a cacophony of sounds— roars. by the way. hoots.” These are rocks or ruins. Nebuchadnezzar (who also got injured).” says Rabbi Eliezer. Sennacherib (who was forced to return it to Jerusalem). according to a commentary on the Book of Esther. from animal to animal. relating to the administration of justice. shrieks. And inscribed on the lions were admonitions to Solo- mon.      and pearls. beasts. but it was badly damaged in transit. on mountaintops in Asia. Josephus refers to Solomon’s throne as “the seat of justice”—a function that was not overlooked by the rabbis. says Rabbi Yohanan —they would lift Solomon with their paws and pass him up the stairs. What became of this marvelous throne? It is said to have passed into the possession of a succession of foreign kings. containing what is said to be the imprint of his foot. An ancient escalator! And the throne had wheels. when Rabbi Eliezer viewed remnants of it during a visit to Rome. Could fragments of it still be there. Antiochus had the throne shipped to him from Egypt. “to make it glitter like the very heavens in purity. Alexander the Great (who acquired it during his con- quest of Persia).

She had crept into the room where Deborah slept and exchanged her dead child for Deborah’s live one. The bailiff had entered the hall with an infant in his arms. had denied it.      throne each day and dispense justice. Deborah had been horrified to find a dead child lying beside her. She had stormed into Terza’s room and accused her of switching infants. The case had been the last on the docket that day. But looking closely. It involved an infant. bristling with indignation. Litigants and accused criminals appeared before him. he explained. she had discerned that it was not hers—and had realized what must have happened. Three days later. She had recently given birth to a boy. Upon discovering the death. One of those cases brought him acclaim for his wisdom. He identified them as Deborah and Terza. Deborah broke into sobs upon concluding her testimo- ny. But during the night. frightened- looking woman. Deborah was the first to testify.” claimed Deborah. harlots who shared a house. she said—the infant that the bailiff was holding. she spoke in a voice that was barely audi- ble. she insisted there had been no substitution. covering her child and suffocating it. and a grieving Deborah—to whom the smothered child did in fact belong—was “trying  . The live child was her own. Each. of course. A hefty woman with a loud voice. her housemate Terza had also given birth to a boy. Terza had apparently rolled over in her sleep. And Terza stepped forward to testify. whom he escorted up to the dais and presented to the king.   Disputed Infant L   . claimed to be the mother of the infant. Terza “did a wicked thing. and he pro- nounced judgment on their cases. said Terza. Terza. A slender. Awakening in the morning. Behind him came two women.

“Captain. Rapping the throne with his scepter. Benaiah looked at him in disbelief. Benaiah took out his sword.” And Terza cackled tri- umphantly. So we must seek a compromise.      to pull a fast one. “divide this living child in two.” “Unsheathe it. Benaiah approached the infant. “Go ahead.” said Solomon.” With a puzzled look. Deborah and Terza fell silent. Beads of sweat glistened on his brow. “Do it. “This is a difficult case. he told the bailiff to place the infant on the dais. is your sword sharp?” asked Solomon.” said Terza. neither shall she. rather than justice. and as each woman responded. but glared at one another with open hostility. and give half to one woman and half to the other. “Do you accept this resolution of your dispute?” Solo- mon asked the women.” The two women began now to argue. Solomon called for order.” he said. Solomon asked a few questions. Finally. Do you fol- low me?” They nodded uncertainly. Benaiah’s sword hovered over the infant.” A gasp arose from the spectators in the hall. “Divide the babe in two. and raised his sword. “We have no witnesses—no evidence as to which of you is the mother—no way to ascertain which of you is telling the truth and which is not. The hand with the sword was shak- ing. “Captain. “Aye. If I can’t have it. And he called for Benaiah to come forward. Benaiah approached the throne and saluted. A settlement.” said Solomon. Solomon addressed the two women. Then he sat back and pon- dered.  . His face was contorted—with either resolve or agony. he scrutinized her. stood over it.

” said Solomon. “Give her the child. a murmur of approbation rose from the spectators.   “No!” cried Deborah. he retreated to a lounge behind  . Solomon pointed now to Terza.” Terza hissed. May  forgive you. Deborah. she grabbed Benaiah’s arm. “Put away your sword—and give that woman her child. had scooped up the child and was clutching it to her breast. “Her solicitude for it has revealed her to be the mother. and fled the hall.” said Solomon. slay it not!” His sword still poised over the infant. But please. “Court is adjourned for the day. pointing to Deborah. “As for you. Rushing forward. your shame in this affair shall be your punishment. Laying down his scepter. Benaiah awaited instructions. drew her cloak about her. meanwhile.” As the ploy became apparent.

One was filled with despair—at the prospect of losing her child.      the dais.” “Glad to have been of use. Was there no other way to discover who the mother was?” “Oh.” said Solomon. sworn to obey me in all things. Muttering and shaking his head. which had to be maternal. His face was flushed. it performed a good deed—and is no doubt grateful  . he poured himself a goblet of wine. Else I would scarcely have given that order. There was also a glimmer of tenderness upon it. “I can’t believe you ordered me to do that. And to have undergone one of the worst moments in my life. The other face was taut with bitterness.” “Look at it this way. “That sword of yours is an instrument of death—a necessary evil in a dangerous world. if it came to slaying the child.” “But confound it! You put me through a bad moment. Yet I was sure that. It was obvious. That’s where you and your sword came in.” “Then why did you put me through that?” “Because knowing is not enough—not in legal matters. Benaiah son of Jehoiada.” said Solomon with a wave of dismissal. The Captain of the Guard was visibly agitated. But I had confidence in you. “I already knew who the mother was.” “Confidence?” “I know you well.” “Of course you would have. You are a loyal soldier. I needed proof. “It was only a ruse.” said Solomon. In reuniting a mother and child. Yet today it fostered life. Was I wrong?” Benaiah looked him in the eye and nodded slowly. “I would have disobeyed. his hand. “You already knew?” “I had studied both their faces. With a sigh of relief he plopped down on its sofa. I knew I could count on you to do so.” he said.” Benaiah stared at him incredulously. still shaking. Benaiah joined him in the lounge. you would disobey me. Of course I knew who the mother was. “And if your ruse had failed? Were you prepared to let me cut an infant in two? That would have been monstrous!” “So it would have been.

and [Benaiah] went down to him with a staff.”  . and had a name among the Three Mighties…. “These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada.   for the opportunity. the son of a valiant man of Kab- zeel [a town near Beersheba]. and in the Egyptian’s hand was a spear like a weaver’s beam. five cubits [twelve feet] high. and slew him with his own spear. “When I recover.and David set him over the Guard. a man of great stature. also he went down and slew a lion in a pit on a snowy day. Accord- ing to the Bible. Benaiah had served as one of the Mighty Men.” “I’ll ask it. also a Mighty Man). David’s elite corps of warriors (though he is not be confused with Benaiah the Pirathonite.” And in a single gulp he emptied the goblet of wine. “And he slew an Egyptian.” said Benaiah. In the Book of Chronicles he is described as follows: “Benaiah the son of Jehoiada.* * That sword of Benaiah’s had dealt its share of death. and plucked the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand. had done many acts: he slew two lionlike men of Moab.

Jewish law.” he said. One of them. of Spola in the Ukraine. For the man had two heads. however. they are My servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt. In the eighteenth century Rabbi Aryeh Leib (known as “the Grandfather”).” “And a priest of the Temple suing —that wasn’t bizarre?” said King Solomon. and demeanor were unremarkable.  .” * This may have been the first time  was sued. obligated a master to support his servants and their families. Their mode of dress. He then quoted a passage from Leviticus: “‘For unto Me the children of Israel are servants. “It’s bizarre. and seven men were filing into the hall. A few days later. style of beard. I am the eldest.’” And he demanded that  abide by the law and support His servants. and bread was distributed to the needy. brought suit against . and many were without food.   Double Trouble B        peering towards the entranceway. “we are the sons of Gilgil the Cainite. had a physical trait so distinctive that spectators were strain- ing to get a better look. Jared by name. I am the Lord thy . “Sire. Rabbi Leib assembled the judges of the Rabbinical Court. We beg you to settle a dis- pute that has arisen in regards to our inheritance. referring to the case he had just dismissed. and pre- sented his suit.” he said. but it would not be the last. an unexpected shipment of grain arrived. One of them stepped forward and bowed. he pointed out. The region had been experiencing a famine. came before them as a litigant. The seven men arranged themselves in a row before the throne. The judges found in favor of Rabbi Leib. “People are nuts!”* The bailiff had called for the next case. shaking his head. “You won’t believe this next case.

Gilgil begat seven sons. Namely. But that was just a joke he liked to make. having been born with just a single head.   “Go on. he would some- times attribute his success as a farmer to being able to work twice as hard as single-headed people. But the seventh son—our brother Pilpil—is two- headed like his father.” “So we get two shares. he pondered the case—furrowing his brow. and gold—was to be divided equally among his sons. “Settle it for us. Gilgil.” He indicated his two-headed brother. “We do indeed dispute it!” said Pilpil’s left head.” said the right head.” replied the eldest son. “Such is our dispute. and exchanged grins with himself. not one. “Oh. One of us. He had specified that his estate—comprised of land. disputes that arithmetic. “There are two of us—are there not?” “Absolutely!” said the right head. “Did your father Gilgil ever intimate that he considered himself to be two persons?” asked Solomon.” said the eldest son. “You are no different from the rest of us—your physical anomaly notwithstand- ing—and are entitled to no greater share. Six of us resemble our mother.” The five other sons nodded in agreement. clutching his  . “We are two sons. Pil- pil here. So its disposition is clear: There being seven of us. was a two-headed man. who came to this country during the reign of your father. O King. “Two-eighths of the estate. “Last winter Gilgil passed away. Marrying a local woman.” “Nonsense.” “Not true!” said the left head.” “I see.” said the eldest son. Explain to Pilpil that—though endowed with two heads—he is only one person.” said Solomon. however. and there he farmed and prospered. And leaning back in the throne. cattle.” “Our father. “Not at all. each gets a seventh of the estate. “Gimme five!” Pilpil slapped his hands together. David granted him land in the north.

” The sons of Gilgil filed out of the throne room. trea- tises in cuneiform. he made his way to the new wing. who served as librarian. murmuring to himself. The Tower was a noteworthy addition to the palace. codices. A spiral staircase provided access to the tiers of cubby- holes. Upon reaching the lobby. There he tugged open a bronze door and entered the Tower of Learning. There were collections of Egyptian lore. The bailiff announced that no more cases remained on the docket. For the Tower of Learning housed the library of King Solomon. put his seal on doc- uments. The chamber was furnished with a  . Joseph’s desk was overflowing with scrolls and loose papers. In addition. Finally he said: “Gentlemen. My finding is postponed until tomorrow. the annals of the Hebrews —records dating back to the time of Moses—were kept here. The walls of the Tower were lined with cubbyholes—thousands of them. Solomon adjourned court. It also led to Solomon’s study: a round chamber at the top of the Tower. the boyhood friend of Solomon’s. Engrossed in thought. they resumed their dispute: each of Pil- pil’s heads arguing with different brothers. In this citadel he had gathered the wisdom of the world. it loomed over the palace like a watchtower. the Tower of Learning was forbidding—fortress- like despite its windows. Be here in the morning. and the Tower had filled with these treasures.      chin. inside. Solomon and Ab-hiram had worked closely together. it was comfortable and even cozy. Outwardly. A turret with many windows. and these were filled with scrolls. and I shall render judgment. and clay tablets. translations of works from ancient Atlantis. and departed the hall. and thus an abun- dance of light. they would bring back—at Solomon’s behest— any literary works they could find. In designing it. I must cogitate further on this matter. On the lowest level was an office for Joseph. from Sumer and Babylon. As Israelite traders traveled to other lands.

on which he conducted astronomical studies—or simply contemplated the heavens. the two-headed man. in the month of Adar. “Adar would be towards the middle.”  . They had with them a strange captive: a two-headed man who had been found wandering near the Salt Sea. “Ah.” “Can you locate it?” “Let me check the index. The entry was as follows: In the eleventh year of David’s reign. he handed it to Solomon. During the early years of my father’s reign. here it is. Jolted awake by Solomon’s entrance. and here was Solomon’s palace.* Joseph had been dozing at his desk. he untied the scroll. And he was soon reading about Gilgil. But he had also undertak- en the task of indexing the annals.’ Roll . ‘Bicephaloid received at court. a supply of snacks. Solomon waved off the formalities. located a scroll. and cogitated.” Solomon climbed to his study. “This roll goes back to when Jehoshaphat was court his- torian. Sliding into the window seat. he squinted and hummed to himself.   desk and chair. Let’s have a look. some desert nomads came to Jerusalem. This prodigy was dressed in * The Pilgrim of Bordeaux describes a ruin that he visited in Jerusalem: “Here is also the corner of an exceedingly high tower …. A trapdoor in the ceil- ing led to a platform.” Joseph’s main duty was to catalog the wealth of literary material that had accumulated.” “I vaguely recall a reference to such a man. he rose hastily and bowed. wrote. I’m looking for some information. There also is the chamber in which he sat and wrote [the Book of ] Wisdom. Here King Solomon read. Checking through a scroll labeled B. and a window seat— comfortably cushioned—that overlooked the city. Year Eleven of David’s reign. Bringing it down.Under the pinnacle of the tower are many ruins. a two-headed man may have visited the court. “Joseph.” He went up to the next level.” said Joseph. month of Adar. and blew dust from it.

and a thin layer of soil. stunned by the beauty of the landscape and the brightness of the sky. And at last light had appeared ahead. he had pressed onward. water. who looked with amazement upon him and asked him his name and country. But he had not faltered in his resolve. But they were resigned to their fate. The early Cainites had surpassed even their ancestor in wickedness. he said. The two-headed man introduced himself as Gilgil the Cainite. carried a pack on his back. and had a bewildered look on both of his faces. were the descendants of Cain. To the descendants of Cain —who had slain his brother—the heads were intended as a reminder: that men were meant to live in harmony with one another. Gilgil had listened avidly—“with all four ears”—to descriptions of it. Load- ing a pack with food. He had stood there. The up- ward slope of the tunnel was encouraging. Though beset with fear and doubts. The Cainites. It was a vast cavern in the earth. Gilgil described Tebel. which had caused  . A cer- tain tunnel was said to lead eventually to the surface. torch in hand. They did find Tebel—with its dim light and sky of stone—a melancholy place. Yet the Cainites clung to a remembrance of the outer world. The outer world! Emerging from a cave near the Salt Sea.      goatskin. For days he had trekked along it. Now and then. And he had lamented the sins of the Cainites. the tunnel would branch in two. he had decided to attempt the journey. So  had banished them from the earth and confined them to Tebel—a cavern-world far underground. Gilgil had murmured a prayer and entered the tunnel. So the Cainites were able to eke out an exis- tence as farmers. explained Gilgil. And he gave an account—now one head speaking. How he had yearned to visit that world! Finally. and Gilgil’s heads would argue about which way to go. And growing up. And  had laid a further curse upon them: their children would be born with two heads. water that seeped from above. He was from the land of Tebel. and the air seemed to be getting fresher. Gilgil had been dazzled by the sunlight. with its own small sun. and wood for a torch. then the other—of his people and of himself. He was taken before the King.

gave him a parcel of land as a gift. What sort of beasts inhabited the cavern-world? Moles. One would bow before the Lord. Did the Cainites worship ? Gilgil replied that most of them did. while the other would not. They had abandoned their wicked ways and returned to the Lord. the two-headed man from inside the earth. And the King asked him questions. And the King sang afterwards: “O Lord. The King asked him his plans. And that is the story of Gilgil. “I put it  . and the like. Benaiah poked his head in. he was loathe to return to Tebel. and Solomon was waiting in the lounge. bats. and wished him well. But a curious fact was this: Occasional- ly one head was pious and the other was not. • Word of the case had spread. David granted his request. What was it like having two heads? Nothing special. watching clouds float by and cogitating. how manifold are Thy works In wisdom hast Thou made them all! Men of snow and fire-maidens Hummingbirds and giants tall “Giraffes and genies. minotaurs Two-headed men from underground— Is there no end to curious creatures? Thy wondrous works indeed abound!” And it was agreed that he sang true.   them to be banished from this world. Gilgil described his capture by the nomads and concluded his tale. And Gilgil begged permis- sion to remain in our country. said Gilgil. Having seen the splendor of the outer world. Solomon lay aside the scroll. The sons of Gilgil had yet to appear. “That bucket of water you asked for?” he said. and the next morning the hall was packed with spectators. And he sat in the window.

The sons of Gilgil arranged themselves before the throne. Then he had a stool brought out and told Pilpil to sit on it. he was wearing a bicolored tunic: half of a brown tunic and half of a green one. I am going to conduct a test that may elucidate the matter. Pilpil exchanged amused looks with himself. The herald blew the trumpet and announced King Solo- mon. Pulling out a brush. “You claim to be two persons.” The left head made a face at him and whispered into the ear of the right head.”  . “Be quiet.” said Solomon. The right head threw itself back and laughed. “Let’s get on with this!” “What’s your hurry?” said the right head.” There was a stir in the hall as the sons of Gilgil came filing in. “I want my inheritance. The heads continued to jabber. In an apparent attempt to bolster his claim. then the other. Don’t you? Hey everybody— two heads are better than one!” “Absolutely!” said the right head. “The coldest I could find. The last to enter was Pilpil.” said the right head. and plopped down on the stool. This is a courtroom. The eldest son gave Pilpil a sharp look. Solomon reviewed the facts of the case. “And I. Solomon took his place on the throne. “Sir or sirs. His heads were conversing—one with the other—in an ani- mated fashion. Are you ready?” “I am.      behind the throne. “So where’s King Solomon?” said the left head.” “Is the water cold?” asked Solomon. Pilpil began to groom his hair—first one head. “Benaiah. blindfold both heads. sewn together. Addressing the sons of Gilgil. An expectant hush fell over the spec- tators. And emerging from the lounge.” said the left head. But what’s it for?” “You’ll see. Show some decorum.

” said Solomon. if one head is unaware of what is done to the other. he delivered his verdict. All right. “Oh?” said Solomon. I have come up with a litmus test—a criterion by which to deter- mine how many persons are present in this man. But is he two distinct persons? Indeed. the other was grinning. then joined Benaiah  . stop that!” cried the head. He tiptoed up to Pilpil. Solomon put his seal on a document. And returning to the throne. Waving his hand in front of each blindfold.” said the right head. “I’m not sure I like this.” Solomon went behind the throne and came out with the bucket of water. Both heads were grumbling loudly about the decision. Pilpil left a trail of water as he departed. One was hum- ming a tune. Mr. But we’ll let him have it. Court’s adjourned. they are part of a unified whole—and therefore a single person. he tested them. “Mr. I am tempted to confiscate that share. Dripping wet. Pilpil is found to be one person. both heads flinched and shrieked. Solomon raised the bucket and poured water on the grinning head.” said the left head. Solomon ordered the blindfolds removed. “Relax. to cover the costs of these proceedings. they constitute two separate persons. “That criterion is as follows. “Hey.” The sons of Gilgil filed out of the hall. a degree of indepen- dence. “Enough. “My judgment is this. what exactly is a ‘person’? What is the nature of a person? What are the boundaries and parameters? After much thought. The blindfolded heads were facing in opposite directions. If one head is aware of what is done to the other. Is Pilpil here one person or two? Each of his heads seems to have a mind of its own—or at least. “is a simple one. let’s find out.   Benaiah tied on blindfolds. Pilpil. On the other hand. “The issue before us. Again he poured water on the head.” he said. So he’s entitled to only one share of the estate. Without warning. enough!” cried the other head. Simultaneously.

” “And read Gilgil’s story—closely. “Who knows? In any case. Pilpil is not a trustworthy source of information. Two details caught my attention.” “The heads were at loggerheads!” “Just so.” “You went to the annals. and to turn my attention to his father. Gilgil remarked that his heads would sometimes disagree as to which way to go. pouring himself a glass of fruit juice.      in the lounge. That’s why I decided to ignore him.” he said. “Or was it just an act to grab an extra share of the inheri- tance?” Solomon shrugged. Now that suggested two distinct persons. “That was bizarre. Two  . Mr. One was found in his description of the journey through the tunnel. “Does he really believe he’s two persons?” asked Benaiah.

If he could disagree with himself. And there was some- thing else. he had to be a twosome. I concluded that Pilpil was indeed two persons. I changed my mind.” “How so?” “You poured it over one of those silly heads—and both of them were startled!” “They were indeed.” “Anyhow. That. “Initially. I decided he was just one person. The wild things you get to do as king!” Solomon shrugged. For I realized there was something familiar about two con- joined heads that disagreed. Hence the bucket of water. Gilgil mentioned that.” “What a sight it was. “But I’ll say this—you got your money’s worth with the water. maybe.” Benaiah rolled his eyes. I needed a test whose results would be dramatic and irrefutable.” said Benaiah. A two-headed man is no different from you or me—his ambivalence is simply more apparent.” said Benaiah. chuckling. “No different from you. too. “It’s a living. And then dumping it on the rascal. implied separate persons.”  .” “I didn’t quite grasp the logic of that test. “But as I sat and thought about it. among his countrymen.   opinions—two minds—two individuals. one head might be pious while the other was not. then. But the prob- lem was to prove it. Wasn’t it similar to a situation we all find ourselves in? Isn’t everyone at times undecided— unsure of himself—of two minds in a matter? And doesn’t everyone waver in his religious faith—argue with himself about ultimate things? Of course he does! To be human is to be uncertain. “to see you tiptoeing up to him with that bucket of water.

a portion of my flour and walked on- ward. and he had a curious complaint. I said to myself: I have more than I need. too. Strug- gling against violent gusts. “I wish to sue the Wind. and had not eaten in a long while. When I scrape together enough cash. and take whatever odd jobs come my way.   Suing the Wind T     .” “Indeed?” said King Solomon. So I gave him a portion of my flour. “Tell us about it. “I live in a hut near the sea. I had nearly reached my door —when the Wind snatched the sack of flour and flew off with it! I watched with dismay as the sack disappeared over the sea. “Several days ago I was returning home with a sack of flour. Along with vegetables from my gar- den. when I came upon a beggar. “Continuing along the road. and the Lord has commanded us to be charitable. “As I approached my hut. And I am suing the Wind to get it back!” “Let’s hear what the Wind has to say. He had been beaten and robbed by thieves.” said Isaac. he had not eaten in days. the flour provides me with sustenance. the Wind suddenly arose. I go into town and buy a sack of flour.” he said.” “Your Highness. Sire? To leave me with not a whit of flour for myself—with less than the recipients of my charity? I was unjustly and gratuitously deprived of my flour. I looked at this poor soul and said to myself: I have more than I require. “Was that not reprehensible. I met a fellow who was wandering in a daze. Seated by the roadside. “The Wind owes me a sack of flour.” said Solomon. “Hold onto your hats. So I gave him. and the Lord bids us to be charitable. -   Isaac. I am a poor man. folks.” And waving his ring in the  .

With a stern look. Sev- eral days ago. he summoned the four Winds. As I blus- tered about.” said the West Wind. “All right. withering.” “Let’s hear it. That which came from the north. Along with the passengers * In Biblical Antiquities. And Job tells us that cold and fair weather are from the north (xxxvii. and in the course of my duties as a force of nature.* One by one they came gusting through the windows. the North Wind said: “On the day in question. generally brought rain. and the winds from that quarter ordinarily brought heat.    air. Did any of you do such a thing?” “Not I. . It was the only suitable object in sight. John Nevin describes the four winds of ancient Palestine: “The east wind was the most injurious. I caused a storm at sea.” Swirling up to the throne and hovering there.The west wind.” said the North Wind.” said the South Wind. “This man has brought an accusation against you. while the whirlwind more frequently rose from the south. I spotted a sack of flour—which happened to be on this gentleman’s back. “I am guilty —with an explanation.”  . Blowing into shore. ). as has been said. he says. rushed back. I noticed that a ship—battered by the storm— had sprung a leak and was sinking. ). There was a pause. and plugged the leak with it—thus saving the ship. Robes flapped—hair fluttered—papers flew into the air— as the Winds swirled about the hall. is described by Solomon as driving away rain (Prov. You know what I mean? Just some rough waters. the herbage of the field…. it was hot and dry. xxv. “Nor I. it was me. Now I had intended no such destruction—just a sudden gale and a bit of a scare. “So I determined to plug the leak if I could.” said the East Wind. though sometimes the southern breezes appear to have been considered agreeable. as it passed along. the Wind took his sack of flour. Then the North Wind spoke. So I grabbed it. Solomon addressed them. coming from the sea. In the summer. “Nor I.

we have come to make a donation to the Temple. “Pardon the interruption.” said Solomon. we would make a sizable donation to the Temple. No sooner had that vow been uttered than a sack shot out of the sky —and stopped up the leak! Plugged up the hole  . our ship sprang a leak and started to sink. Your Highness. “Nonetheless. you deprived this man of his property.” They approached the throne and bowed. I might add. The three of us fell to our knees and prayed.” said the mer- chant with the bag.” “A conscientious and commendable act.      and crew. excuse me!” Just then three merchants entered the hall. One was car- rying a bag marked “Gold. “But in fulfillment of a vow. During a recent storm. If the ship was saved. we vowed.” “Well.

In one of them. “but call it a deal. “I performed those acts as mitzvahs —as good deeds that were my duty to .    in our ship! It was a miracle from . “for His aid in your moment of need. Instead. Take this gold instead. to attorney’s fees. therefore. Con- sider it a reward for those acts of charity. “‘How perfect is Thy Providence!’” Then to Isaac he said: “The Wind owes you a sack of flour. How about this then? In presenting your case today. Suddenly they recall the  of Israel and pray to Him. “What’s that refrain in the psalm?” said Solomon. who weaves nets for fishermen.” said Solomon. we came straight here with this bag of gold coins for the Temple. he departed the hall. In terror of drowning.” And hoisting the bag onto his shoulder. Regular coinage was not instituted in the Near East until five centuries later. they pray to every god they can think of—to no avail. gold and silver were measured by weight—the basic unit being the shekel.” “A worthy attitude. Aboard are some non-Israelite merchants.” Isaac shook his head. you have acted as your own attorney. The bag would have contained tokens— irregular pieces of gold—rather than minted coins.” he said.* “Proceed to the Temple and render thanks unto the Lord. you may leave it here. Upon reaching shore. promising an offering of gold in return for their deliverance.† * An anachronism. “Not quite. As she returns home one afternoon with a sack of flour. a ship has sprung a leak and is sinking. Meanwhile. Would this bagful of gold cover them?” Isaac opened the bag and peered in.” Depositing the bag on the dais. the inhabitant of the seaside hut is a widow. No sooner have they made this vow than the sack of flour shoots out of the sky and plugs  . You are entitled. I just want my flour. I expected no reward and shall take none. (A shekel equaled about four ounces. As for the gold. the merchants bowed and exited.) † Several variants of this tale are to be found in Jewish folklore. it is snatched away by the wind.

Solomon wants to give the gold to the widow. on account of her piety. Pleased by her words. The curtains that she weaves have a special lustre. for whom it was intended and who will provide for her needs. It should go to . The widow goes to King Solomon and lodges a complaint against the wind. the merchants arrive with their offering.      the leak. she says. Solomon hires the widow to weave curtains for the Temple —to be paid for by the gold. As he is deliberating. but she declines it.  .

Tell me—was anyone present in your shop last night.”* * An Islamic tradition attributes this power to one of the four jewels in the ring—a jewel inscribed with the words “All crea- tures praise the Lord. “this door of yours should be questioned. My family and I live in an adjoining building. apprehend this burglar. “  before you this morning to appeal for justice. punish him.” said King Solomon.” Raising his hand.” said Solomon. Last night my shop was burgled.”   . Angelo Rappoport relates: “Solomon immediately decided to test the power of the stone….” “And you say the burglar broke in through the front door?” “Yes. and restore to me my gold. Solomon dis- played his ring.” The jewel had been given to King Solo- mon by an angel. In your father’s day.   A Door Testifies Y  . The thief broke in through the front door and stole from me a quantity of gold. In Myths and Legends of Ancient Israel.” “Perhaps then. such lawlessness was unheard of. and the shop was deserted at the time. For apparently it was the sole witness to the break-in.” “Did any of your neighbors see or hear anything?” “They did not. and even with the fishes of the sea. Shall it thrive under your rule? For the sake of your own honor. Sire. Sire? Can such a thing be done?” “Possibly—with this.There were assembled before Solomon all  . Sire. “my honor being precious to me.” “I shall attempt to do so. who might help identify the burglar?” “No. “Among the powers my ring gives me is the ability to speak with birds and beasts.” “Question the door.

There is a way. Solomon went into the lounge and busied himself for an hour with official reports. from the elephant to the smallest worm. O door. He approached the door.’” Adjourning court. Your door has witnessed a crime. and raised his ring. There was a murmur of expectation as King Solomon arrived. “O door. Have him proclaim to the residents of the neighborhood the following announcement: ‘In one hour. In that you have failed.      “But with a door?” “Why not? I’ve never tried communicating with one. I shall attempt to speak with it and elicit its testimony. yes. regarded it with a stern eye. A door shall be questioned by the King. birds. Would you care to do so?” Solomon put his ear to the door and listened. Solomon conversed with them and was instructed in all their different habits. “A chief virtue. hear me. send the herald to this man’s shop. a unique event shall take place. It was. Beside him.” said Solomon. He also listened to their complaints and rectified many abuses and evil customs amongst the beasts. Then. however. which he understood as well as the language of man. and fishes. A small crowd had already gathered in front of the shop. and also all sorts of fishes and birds. and the sentences full of wisdom which they uttered. Benaiah was watching with amazement. “The door says it doesn’t know sorts of creatures.”  . accompanied by Benaiah and a few other guards. he left the palace and made his way through the narrow lanes of the city. Then he turned to the crowd and said: “The door says that. is trustworthiness. who was the thief?” Again he put his ear to the door. both on account of their beautiful and melodious speech. in both men and their implements. For the goldsmith trusted you to safe- guard his gold—and you let him down.” he said. with the birds that he entertained himself longest. it would like to make amends. however.” Turning back to the door. Solomon said: “Tell me then. whereby you could make amends for your lapse and restore your honor. Benaiah. But here’s a chance to test the ring’s capabilities. “Hmm.

Very well.    the man’s name. Suddenly he cried: “Aha!” And pointing to a man in a red cap. “Now that’s something. Who just now reached up to touch his cap.  . O door. turning to face the crowd. The door recalls that upon entering the shop.” The guards waded into the crowd. “Ah!” he said. arrest that fellow. and brought him before the king. The door informs me that the night was moonless and the burglar’s features were obscured by darkness. he said: “Guards.I see. grabbed the man. is there anything you can tell me? Anything whatsoever that might lead to the apprehension of this man?” Solomon pressed his ear to the door and listened intently. please…. can you describe him?… How’s that? Speak up.” Solomon was peering into the crowd. then. I see. the man brushed up against a cobweb—which clung to his cap and may be clinging to it still.

” The man fell to his knees. see you around. ’Twas a clever ruse. were you? Testing the capabilities of the ring. “Hello there. “So. He grasped the handle and shook it. then spring- ing that bit about the cobweb. chuckled. “Oh really? Glad to hear it. Benaiah stepped up to the door. I was in fact talking with the door.      Solomon glared at him and said: “Your fear of discovery. It was I who broke into the shop and stole the gold. For that cobweb existed solely in my imagina- tion. as if shaking hands. And the crowd began to disperse. I too can talk with doors—and require no ring to do so. As a warning to those who would steal the property of another. And not even King Solomon’s ring shall lend it a tongue. I shall return the gold and live honestly for the rest of my days. Have mercy on me. Talking with a door.” The guards led the thief away. “O King.” said the Captain. Benaiah gave him a knowing look. A fear. “talking with the door. You nearly had me believing it! That ring of yours has pow- ers. “I have to hand it to you. And have a nice day.” “What ruse was that?” “You know. and promote lawless- ness in the realm. A pleasure to meet you. pretending to question the door. were you? O you’re a sly one! Well. For now I’m going to toss you into a cell. Sire. by the way.” “To the contrary. Your Highness. But a door’s a dumb thing—a mere block of wood. my friend. All right. disclosed your guilt. Watch me now. “I confess to the crime.” “We’ll discuss mercy at some later date.” “You were?”  . Mr. Door. that was baseless. How’s everything?” He put his ear to the door and listened.” Benaiah waved to the door. indeed.” Smirking like a schoolboy. Solomon was rubbing his ring and looking pleased with himself. and rejoined Solo- mon.” he said.

in a criminal case. Moreover.” Solomon gave him a look of mock innocence. Or it might have misidentified him in the dark. After all. With a craftiness one does not expect in a judge. So I sup- pressed its testimony and made up that business about a cobweb. the door might have been falsely accusing the man. But the door’s testimony was prob- lematical. I needed something more—I needed a confession. at least two witnesses. described him. Actually.” “How so?” “It was insufficient to establish guilt. a door’s testimo- ny is probably inadmissible as evidence. is not a witness required to be sentient? Given these concerns. “What bet- ter means than a man’s own guilt—when the scales of justice need a tilt?”  . it told me the thief ’s name.” “And trick him you did. Sire. For our law requires. and indicated his location in the crowd. The idea was to trick the thief into incriminating himself. though—I did employ a ruse. For as the door spoke. After all. I misreported what it was saying.    “You’re right.

A citizen of Philistia. the scribe led him up to the throne. beckoning to someone in the lobby. the dynasty of which you are currently the incumbent—and therefore the defendant in this case. come. “Come..” he said. towering—beside me. Your Highness.   - tators in the hall ceased to chatter. To avoid the top of the doorway. he wishes to file a wrongful-death suit. balding man entered the throne room. struck his head. T announced.” said Solomon. Lots of witnesses. Taking him by the arm.” “You’re suing me?” “That’s correct. “First case this morning—Goliath. And a giant—a grotesquely tall man—followed him in. “Greetings and salutations. But he miscalculated. “I am Shuba the Scribe.” he A short. the gentleman standing—or I should say. Jr. against the House of David. I represent Goliath. versus the Crown. and with a loud thud. “We’ve knocked our head? On a low entranceway to a public facility?” With a gleeful look he began making notes on the tablet.” said the scribe in a crisp. No warning sign posted.      . Reeling from the blow. about nine in the morning. he staggered into the hall. Jr. That is to say. businesslike tone. Jr.   Goliath. Dangling from his belt were a stylus and wax tablet—the parapher- nalia of a scribe. yes!” The giant was groaning and clutching his head. “O indeed?” said the scribe.. The suit is against the Crown. I respectfully ask that you recuse yourself—that you  . The pair bowed to King Solomon. Yes. “Let’s see. the giant ducked upon entering. And given the obvious conflict of inter- est. “You may proceed.

both financial and emotional. sir. It is the taking of a human life—whether deliberately or accidentally—under circumstances in which (a) the result-  .. Failing that. the delay in filing? To begin with. Goliath. incapable of engaging the services of a scribe. formidable warrior. Goliath the legal avenues open to him.” Goliath. The death in ques- tion was that of his father. Furthermore.” whispered Shuba. you ask. he has been unaware of the opportunities for redress provided by our laws. was slain.” “As you wish. the two met in single combat. Present your case. gruff voice. And I always seek to be just. As some- one who has suffered—both materially and psychologically —from the effects of a wrongful death. “Now then. from the coffers of the Crown. the father was serving in the army of Philistia. leaned over to the scribe. that it deprived my client—during the formative years of his life—of his father’s support. and that it entitles him therefore to compensation from the heirs of David—that is to say. he was slain by your father. Our suit concerns an event of some sixty years ago. Why. Jr. magistrate. my client was a child at the time. and therefore impartial. “My client comes before you today as a victim. and without consultation with advisers. money.” “I shall not recuse myself. Unaware until recently. I submit that the death was wrongful. . Your Highness—what constitutes a wrongful death? Based on our juridic traditions. as a resident of Philistia. A tall. we may formulate the following defini- tion. Your Highness—though may the record show that your decision to retain jurisdiction was made hastily. Sr. During the war with Philistia. Now then. “What does ‘com- pensation’ mean?” he asked in a deep. in a brutal and humiliating fashion. “Money.. The facts of the episode are well-known. reassign this case to some disinterested. David son of Jesse—then but a humble shepherd. While so serving. In the course of that combat Goliath. Sr. when—as an advocate for the aggrieved—I sought him out and explained to Mr. . I would ask that you bend over backwards to arrive at a just verdict.

was it justifiable as self-defense? Hardly. “I have here a chap- ter from the Chronicle of King Saul. which I was permitted to copy from the royal archives. In it we learn that David —responding to a general challenge issued by Goliath—  . military service.. and therefore worthy of compensation. and (c) self-defense. Sr.” Shuba pulled a scroll from his pocket and unrolled it. (b) the taker of the life acted maliciously. negligently.      ant harm was foreseeable. To begin with. was just such a death. or capriciously. “Let us examine the facts of the slaying. or participation in a stoning—duly sanc- tioned by a magistrate—was not a factor. I contend that the slaying of Goliath.

’ Hey. “A soldier is someone who dons armor. not—a soldier. Only secondarily—in pursuit of that goal—would he have sought to defend himself. ‘And Goliath said. “And there’s a further problem. I will go and fight with this Philistine.’ Champion he may have been. So we cannot exonerate him on that account.” said Shuba. Unfortunately. he did not qual- ify to respond to it. marches in ranks. And it tells us that young David was not a soldier at the time. That reward King Saul was offering! To quote from the Chronicle: ‘The man who killeth the Philis- tine the king will enrich with great riches and will give a daughter in marriage. David was respond- ing to Goliath’s challenge. a soldier fights in behalf of his country. For the sake of Israel. then we will be your servants. takes orders from an officer— none of which did your father do. In defending my flock. but if I prevail  . What was David fighting for? I’ll tell you what for. “that by volun- teering to fight Goliath. I have slain lions and bears. .’ So David fought Goliath gladly. If he is able to fight with me and kill me. as a member of the military? Again. in order to deliver provisions to his older brothers. Listen to the exact wording of the challenge. perhaps. He was simply visiting the front. he had in effect become a soldier. In a fight to the death! Allow me to quote from the Chronicle: ‘And David said. with the intention of slaying him. Choose a man for yourself. not his country. and let him come down to me.” “Nonsense. Moreover. And now will I gladly go against the Philistine. The point is that he was serving himself. he heard about the challenge and decided to become Israel’s ‘champion. It’s right here: ‘Ten breads and ten cheeses did he bring to his breth- ren. let’s consult the Chron- icle. He was a mere delivery boy! A bringer of breads and cheeses. not bad for a few minutes’ work.’ While doing so. who were soldiers. was the slaying justi- fiable on some other basis? Did David commit it.” said Solomon. volunteered to engage him in single combat. All right. . But he was not—I repeat. “So it wasn’t self-defense. Yes.” “It would seem to me. who so rudely defies us.

slain. “Goliath lets out a roar and charges David—intending.” Goliath. and for which Goliath could not have been prepared—the implicit terms of the encounter. was a warrior—a trained killer. Loads it with a stone. ‘Am I a dog that you come to me with a stick?’ David has insulted him. But he was also a parent and a human being. Let’s not gloss over that. was nodding somberly. For now he  . Look. He pulls out that sling. Did he spec- ify a weapon? Of course not—he didn’t have to. then you shall be our servants. And concealed in his pouch. The tall warrior is lying at his feet.’ But don’t you see? David was not a man—he was a boy! Poor Goliath. like a pesky fly. He had called for an Israelite to come out and meet him in single combat—to duel with him.. surely. Imagine how he must have felt when a vir- tual child came out to fight with him. that we may fight together. to immobilize this irksome youth. And that concerns the weapon David used. For he has violated—by using a weapon never employed in duels. a sling. he’s standing there with his sword. he has done so wrongly. Imagine his dismay when a beardless youth responds to his challenge. And the Israelites are stand- ing opposite him with their swords. not kill him. But what does David do? He keeps darting away. “But out comes David—and what’s he carrying? His shepherd’s staff. Jr. Give me a man. So it’s obvious what the weapon is to be.      against him and kill him. and the big fellow starts to lose his cool—the last thing you want to do when fighting a duel.. he makes his move. “So David has emerged victorious. brings his opponent crashing to the ground—slays Goliath! “Has he done so fairly and squarely? No. “But we come now to the crux of the matter. And when he’s got Goliath totally flustered. And Goliath cries out. His heart could scarcely have been in such a fight—a factor that no doubt contributed to his defeat. And with a shot to the forehead. Sr. Think back to Goliath’s challenge. But is he satisfied? O no. Now Goliath.

to allow you to ponder the complex issues that have been raised?” “Not at all.” said Solomon. “Your Highness. I should point out that my client is virtually impoverished. the loss of his father was a terrible blow to this man. as a final indignity! A sword. Jr. ours was a citizens’ army. “To sum up then. I ask that he be compensated with a generous monetary award. the hand of a princess! Yet  . was slain in a malicious and deliberate fashion. Jr. The slaying of Goliath was therefore wrongful and subject to redress. . and that the slaying was wrongful on that account.. Goliath. David was not about to turn it down. After all. “I’ll begin by responding to your contention that David was not a soldier. as a cherry-picker. With Goliath’s own sword.” said Shuba. “As for that reward—what of it? True. And he capriciously violated the terms of the encounter. “May the record show that I arrived at an immediate decision—thus sparing your client any delay in our legal process. In offering to fight Goliath. by the way. picks up Goliath’s sword and—gratuitously—lops off the dead man’s head. Its ranks were filled by ordi- nary men. Though a Philistine.” said Goliath. he has the same rights as anyone else to a speedy resolution of his case. He was ineligible—on account of his age— to accept Goliath’s challenge. David had—by dint thereof—joined the army and become a soldier. the young shepherd who was visiting the front that day was just that—a shepherd. that hangs today in this very hall—a macabre trophy of a shameful deed. He has been working all his life in a menial capacity—in the orchards of Philistia. “I assume we’ll be adjourn- ing now. Solomon rose from the throne and began to pace about. who assembled in times of war.” “And a darned good one!” said Goliath. .” “Thank you. Sr. To be sure. But in those days. The slayer was not serving as a sol- dier at the time. We’re also demanding the return of Goli- ath’s sword—a family heirloom to which his son is entitled. “I rest my case.

Did David’s use of a sling violate the ‘implicit terms’ of the encounter? Now I must say that I find this notion of ‘implicit terms’ to be highly questionable. unanswered. and presumably was willing to deal with anything—this was. swag- gering giant! But let’s accept your premise. King Saul offered David the use of his own sword and armor. That it called for a man to come forward. who’s waving his sword and shouting insults. loads it. Goliath roars and charges. and who thus taketh away the disgrace that his challenge. “‘And David said. So he went out with only a staff and a sling.      the reward was not his prime motivation in accepting the challenge. with such agility that the giant is unable to catch him. after all. he would seem to be acknowledging those ‘implicit terms. a boastful. “Now you also claim that he wasn’t qualified to respond to the challenge. Let’s agree that both men were supposed to use swords. Goliath called for single combat. and—  . David goes out to meet Goliath. He spec- ified no particular weapon. he became a man! There are trans- formative moments in our lives. But upon accept- ing Goliath’s challenge. And David begins to dart about. pulls out his sling. I would answer you thus: David began the day as a youth. “So we come now to the crux of your argument—the question of weaponry. And read us the lines that describe his reaction upon learning of the reward. And let’s look close- ly at what actually happened. Is that indeed what shall be given to the man who killeth this Philistine. “As I recall. but found them too heavy and cumbersome. sir.” said Solomon. Shuba located the passage and read it aloud. Suddenly David skids to a halt. to so defy the armies of the living ?’” “That doesn’t sound particularly self-serving to me. What then was? Return to your scroll.’ “So—picture the scene. and that David was but a youth.” With a look of annoyance. Surely that was such a moment. has brought upon Israel? For who does this heathen think he is. David tried them on. Yet in trying on the sword. pure and simple.

looked disbelievingly at Shuba.” Shuba frowned. serving to offset the advantages—of size. and slang it.’ Now that term has come to have negative connotations. what? What exactly happened at that point? Sir. .” “But it wasn’t his own sword!” “So what? That David was able to come up with a sword at all is a testimony to his resourcefulness and daring. Sr. located the passage. He did qualify— given his new-found maturity—to accept the challenge. It was an accessory to the sword. gentlemen.. “At one point you referred to my client as a ‘Philistine. I’d like you to read the relevant passage. and smote the Philistine in his forehead.” said Shuba. Jr.. we would like to appeal the verdict. and cut off his head therewith. The scribe shrugged and said: “You can’t win them all. Turning to Solomon. And when the Philistines saw their cham- pion was dead. and experience—that Goliath enjoyed. he said: “Your Highness. And the stone sunk into his forehead. your use of it served to belittle Mr. Therefore David ran and stood upon the Philistine. “To conclude then. But there was no sword in the hand of David. Goliath—who should be  .’” “Aha!” said Solomon. It denotes an unrefined or uncultured individual. and took the giant’s sword and slew him. “We see that David only stunned Goliath with the stone.” Goliath. “‘And David put his hand in his bag. I therefore find the slaying of Goliath. You may go. He then slew the giant with a sword —thus complying with those ‘implicit terms’ of yours. to have been a justifiable homicide. But the sling had merely an ancillary func- tion. and read it aloud.” “On what grounds?” asked Solomon. . Its use was quite legit- imate. and took thence a stone.” “But he used a sling!” “So he did. David was a soldier.” “But you told me it was a sure thing!” “One never knows. and he fell upon his face to the earth. armor. Thus. Your suit alleging a wrongful death is dismissed. And he did satisfy the terms of the encounter. they fled.

“But you gave them what they deserved. There’s an additional suit we wish to file. The verdict stands. my client struck his head on the doorway. My argument that David made use of a sword and thereby complied with the terms of the encounter? Technically. David said: ‘The Lord. Benaiah came up to the throne with papers to be signed.” said Solomon. they should not have to suffer the indignity of stooping. It served him in place of sword and armor. A sign should have been posted. shaking his head ruefully. It was also meaningless. “But in order to do so. Upon entering this hall.” “One moment.” “I gave them justice. he would have found some quotes to hurl back at me.” “That’s ridiculous. I had to resort to sophistry. warn- ing giants—or ‘the specially heighted. Jr. “Begone. Had Mr. and gave him the courage to face Goliath. Your Highness. You may go.’ which served to belittle my—” “Out!” Shuba led Goliath.’ And also: ‘You come to me with  .” “That’s equally ridiculous. who saved me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear.” he said. the both of you!” “As for your use of the term ‘giant. To the kind of cleverness of which that scribe is a master. out of the hall.” said Solomon.’ as such individuals are properly denominated—to stoop before entering. “That was a pair. My client should be compensated for both his physical anguish and the humiliation he suffered as he sought to enter this pub- lic facility.      referred to as a ‘citizen of Philistia’—and may have adverse- ly affected your decision. sir. what?” “With his faith—his trust in . For example. The giant was glowering and grumbling. that was true. will save me from the hand of the Philistine. Do you know what David was truly armed with?” “No. That doorway needs to be raised. Moreover. Shuba delved deeper into his scroll.

” “I’ll tell you something. whom you have defied. the  of the army of Israel. What I really crave is vengeance—for what his father did to my father. was fuming. Jr. But he climbed to his feet. There he took down his father’s sword and waved it wildly. The King ruled against us. Groaning. but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts. But the giant lunged toward the throne.  . The Lord does not save by sword and spear. fight me. Benaiah grabbed him and wrestled him away. he stag- gered up to the throne. In verse  we are told that the stone to his forehead killed him. “That trial was a travesty. Shuba could have used those quotes to counter my argument about the sword.” he said.” said Shuba. confronted with two surviving—and conflicting—traditions. a sword. The giant broke loose.’ Mr. “Meet me in * What did kill Goliath? The First Book of Samuel contains two versions of his demise. Guards piled onto him. Jr. solved the problem by including both. O King!” said Goliath. and went crashing to the floor. tripped. . Something dawned on me as I listened to that account of my father’s death. . And I shall have it—from you personally!” Having followed him in. toss- ing them aside and lumbering over to the trophy wall. I don’t care about the money. “So I came all this way for nothing?” “I’m afraid so. “Come. And he charged back into the hall—again knocking his head. But in verse  his death is attributed to decapitation by sword. Shuba sought to restrain his client.”* • Out in the lobby Goliath. no.. “I have returned. pushed Shuba aside. “I don’t get a cent?” “Unfortunately. I want satisfaction for what was done to my father. This contradiction is an example of a common occurrence in the Bible: the original editor.. Jr. King Solomon. And I might have had to decide in his favor. And I shall have it!” Goliath.

” “All right. I’ve gone on past.. Jr. sir. he let the guards take it from him. in fancy crown. “But as the challenged party. When day is done. Falls at my feet—comes tumbling down. “Answer me this. “Riddle me. no one’s left Who by my hand is not bereft. not empty words. Jr.” S: I move too slow. “I like riddles.” The giant put his hands on his hips and delivered his rid- dle. And other works of vain mankind. “My turn now.” said Solomon. G. the tree. stamping his foot. Solomon thought for a moment. Let us match them—in a riddle contest. The growling bear—he too I’ll rule! The mighty king. All living things do I devour: The bird.” said Solomon. I overcome the angry bull. the choice of weapons goes to me.“Sleep. when I arrive. as our fathers met. if you can. I move too fast.” “A riddle contest?” Goliath. tigers too. does it not? And I choose wits.      a duel.” Lowering the sword. Give me satisfaction. I never come. tell me. The pyramids to dust I’ll grind. the flower.: I conquer lions. Okay. They can’t withstand me—nor shall you.  . Mountains reaching to the sky. the beast. Drop their swords and downward dive. J. Then a gleam came into his eye. Who am I? What thing or man? Tell me. “You may go first.” he said. broke into a grin.” said Solomon.. “Drat!” said Goliath. Dauntless warriors. And I’m smarter than you think. you’re on. let us duel.

“Surely my client’s orig- inal response was equally valid. The giant wrinkled his brow and thought. Dagon—the chief god of Philistia—has tremendous power.” “Two?” “No.” “O gosh. so proud and grand. “It’s a slur on my pro- fession.” “Moloch?” “No. I’ll wear them down.” “Marduk?” “No. Answer me this: How many scribes does it take to refill the oil in a lamp?” “One?” “No. But I’ll give you another chance. by and by. and should be deemed correct.” “I’m sorry. Shouldn’t we be paid for our efforts? And if occasionally we  .” “I give up. Thrace: Their very memory I’ll erase! And the cities of their lands I’ll leave as ruins ’mid shifting sands. Tyre. Goliath.” said Solomon. . And one of the instruments of that power is time. Moreover. Who am I? My name disclose. Monarchs who.” “Hold on a minute. to effect his will. Tell me or I’ll pull your nose. Mr. We scribes provide a vital service to the public. . After all.” said Shuba. How many?” “How many can you afford?” “I protest that riddle!” said Shuba. The answer is Time. He uses time. From their lofty thrones command— The kings of Babylon. Then he said: “The god Dagon?” “No. “the answer was Time. isn’t it unfair that you—the poser of the rid- dle—should determine its answer? Talk about a conflict of interest! My client’s answer satisfied your conditions.

with the giant chas- ing after him. and they were destroyed. nor gave He knowledge unto them. He is described as a Gittite—a resident of the town of Gath in Philistia. and perished through their foolishness. His mother was a giantess named Orpa.’ That there’d be a fee only if we were successful. His iron  . There had been several tribes of these giants: the Anakim. “You told me this would be on a ‘contingency basis. the Rephilim.* * Who exactly was the senior Goliath—the fearsome warrior whom David fought? He may have been simply a Philistine of exceptional height (“six cubits and a span.” “That’s correct. Jr. a genetic defect producing six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. “In days of old. Shuba isn’t even charging me. The fam- ily was marked by polydactylism. The sons were noted as warriors—in particular Ishbibenab. given the detailed information about him found in the Bible.” “How much is that?” “How much have you got?” “You scoundrel—I’ll wring your neck!” Shuba let out a yelp and fled the hall. king of Bashan. Another giant mentioned in the Bible is Og.. the Nephilim. “Mr. according to the Book of Samuel).” said Goliath. according to a rabbinic commentary). But the contingency was getting the case heard. and his four sons were giants.      work in teams—to examine in depth some critical issue— what’s wrong with that?” “As a matter of fact. We were successful in getting it heard.” That Goliath was a historical personage seems undeniable. His spear was as long as a weaver’s beam. for they had no wisdom. “They were of great stature and expert in war.” “I’m not?” said Shuba. giants abounded. He was  years old at the time (having survived the Flood as a stow- away on the ark. Og was slain when the Hebrews invaded his kingdom.” or about ten feet. So you owe me my fee. Or he may have been a true giant—a descendant of the original inhabitants of Canaan. But the Lord chose them not.” reports the Apocalypse of Baruch.

was on display for many years in Rabbah-Ammon.’”  . Tsiporet saw a seven-foot tall being wearing metallic overalls. bedstead. He gives this account of one such landing: “In the early morning of April . . No giants currently reside in the region. ‘That’s the way it is. fourteen feet in length. . ). ‘Why don’t you take off your hat so I can see your face?’ The being answered her telepathically. Tsiporet Carmel’s house glowed from within. She stepped outside and saw what she thought was a new fruit silo built outside her back yard. Ten yards to the side of this mag- ical silo. Its head was covered in a what looked like a beekeeper’s hat. And one of his bones was used as a bridge over a stream. Barry Chamish reports that giants have been associated with recent landings of UFOs in Israel. However. But then she saw the silo add a second storey to itself. In his provocative book Return of the Giants (Blue Star. Tsiporet said. they may be returning—aboard UFOs.

Seek not to cross a swollen river. water. who had arrived in Jerusalem and become members of the court. Solomon gave them permission—and granted them a bonus. Finally. “Tip number two. Jacob. Surely a mis- take! We must go back. “You have served me loyally. and grazing for your horse. Yet upon being offered a portion of it. we choose gold instead. “No problem. Among them were three brothers. set out each morning at the crack of dawn. It was loaded onto their horses. “A full year we have been here.” “Tip number one. listening to the king in the hope of gaining wisdom. “We came to King Solomon for his wisdom. But they had not gone far when the youngest brother. “What have we done?” he said. but  .  men came from afar to hear it and grow wise.” said one. each chose the gold. Sire. “To each of you I shall give either a bag of gold or three tips. So Jacob rode back alone to the palace. stopped short. with wood.   Wisdom W     ’ .” he said. Which is it to be?” The brothers discussed the choice among themselves.” said Solomon.” But his brothers laughed at him. “Ready?” “I am ready. But call it quits a few hours before sunset. There they had spent a year. But after a year the brothers were dissatisfied. “and what wisdom have we acquired? None!” So they decided to seek permission to leave the king’s ser- vice and return to their families. There he begged Solomon to exchange his bag of gold for the three tips. and they departed the capital. That way you’ll have ample time to locate a good campsite. When traveling.

there you have them. and hur- ried after his brothers.” Jacob departed the palace. Never reveal a secret to a woman— not even to your wife. Sire. As evening approached. Okay. “is for me alone. “Whatever wisdom I have acquired.” he said. But Jacob refused to reveal what he had been told. jumped on his horse. Jacob recalled the first tip and  .” The two brothers shrugged. My three tips.  wait patiently until it subsides. they were eager to hear the three tips. And together they and Jacob journeyed on. You have your gold.” “Thank you. When he overtook them. “Tip number three.

There they were forced to camp. and rode on. That night Jacob showed the gold to his wife. They were leading a horse laden with bags of gold. At last he reached his village.” he told her. the pair tried to cross the river. There is wood and water and grazing for our horses. But his wife kept pestering him to  . They were swept from their horses and drowned. Disdainful of his warning.” said Jacob. he camped and waited for the waters to subside. Caught with- out fire or shelter. Recalling the second tip. At length he came to a river. Then he buried them.” “Don’t be a fool. Jacob could not bring himself to reveal what had befallen his brothers. and cattle. and built a new house. Then he set to gathering wood. As he waited. Her eyes widened with astonishment. loaded their gold onto his horse. The next day Jacob came along and discovered their bod- ies. Jacob waited for the waters to subside.      said: “Let us stop and camp here. With it he made himself a fire and a crude shelter. “Suit yourself. During the night a fierce snowstorm arose. vineyards. “We can cover another five miles before dark. With the gold Jacob bought fields. So he said that they had remained in Jerusalem to learn the wisdom of Solomon. And he lay down to sleep. lamenting their folly. two merchants came along. “That must remain a secret. Meanwhile. they found themselves on a barren hillside.” said one of his brothers.” “I’m staying here. But Jacob—recalling the third tip—refused to say. He wept for his brothers. It had become swollen from melting snow. His sisters-in-law came running from their houses and asked about their husbands. his brothers kept riding till the last possible moment.” Jacob watched as his brothers rode off. Then he crossed the river—retrieving the merchants’ gold and loading it onto his horse. the two brothers perished. With the coming of night. How had he acquired it? she asked.

” “So I learned. the say- ings often have a homespun quality: “Whoever diggeth a pit shall fall therein. Brought before the king.” “Yes. We are told. that “pride goeth before destruction. he appealed to King Solomon. Your Highness. Sire. He bowed and started to leave. consider her ways.” “Sire?” “Three tips worth gold. try the easy way. he recounted all that had hap- pened since their last meeting.  . Finally.  reveal the source of the gold. Then one day Jacob was quarreling with his wife. and threatened to strike her. and a haughty spirit before a fall. sage pronouncements. and sentenced to die.” And Jacob departed the palace—wise at last. and he that rolleth a stone. and now you would murder me!” This slanderous outburst was overheard by his sisters-in- law. “And Jacob. thou sluggard. maxims. he relented and told her the whole story.” As with Franklin’s.” Yet while both men see worldly success as a worthy aim.” “Next time. judged guilty.” And like Franklin.* * King Solomon’s wisdom often expressed itself in pithy say- ings—tips.” said Solomon. “Shouldn’t you share that wealth of yours with your sisters-in-law?” “I shall do so. Whereupon. she shouted in anger: “So. He was brought before a magistrate. and be wise. Solomon believed him and ordered him set free. first you murder your brothers. for example. or “Sayings of Solomon”). Desper- ate. Listen to advice. A compilation of these may be found in the Book of Proverbs (whose Hebrew title is mishle shelomoh [ ]. Like Benjamin Franklin in Poor Richard’s Almanack. Solomon endorses such basic virtues as indus- try: “Go to the ant. the king offers a set of moral precepts that relate to everyday life. “One thing though. and coming from me? A wise man surely heedeth all three. They accused Jacob of murder. it will return unto him. Your Highness—the hard way.” said Jacob.

” The essence of wisdom. he insists.” A wise man.” or “Wisdom . Like Poor Richard’s Almanack. Wealth and Happiness. and loving favour rather than silver and gold. Some shrewd publisher might con- sider repackaging it as a self-help book.  . or good sense. is to walk with . we are constantly reminded. Titled “King Solomon’s Guide to Health. the Book of Proverbs has been neglected by modern readers. At the same time. should “trust in the Lord with all thine heart.” this ancient work could find a large and appreciative audience. Repeatedly. In all ways acknowledge Him.      Solomon sets priorities: “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches. its underlying theme is religious. Solomon tempers his pragmatism with this admonition: “Fear of the Lord is the begin- ning of wisdom. and lean not unto thine own understanding.” The Book of Proverbs is essentially a manual of practical wisdom—of sekel ( ). and He shall direct thy path.

“Let’s hear what the Deer has to say. “The Woodpecker beat on the war gong. “Yes. So she asked the Deer to watch over them. Learning of the king’s presence. Now it happened that King Solomon had come to the river that day. “I performed the war dance. and the Otter slid into the river and swam off in search of fish. she was reluctant to leave her children unattended. But I wasn’t really to blame.” Solomon summoned the Deer and asked if the charge was true.” “That’s a serious charge. offering in return a portion of her catch. Among the denizens of the river. Several hours passed. For he has slain my offspring.” said Solomon. The Deer agreed.” she said. The Woodpecker had sounded the war  . putting down his goblet of wine. “Your Highness. About to go fishing one day. “How did this happen?” she cried. keeping an eye on the young otters. “I wish to bring a complaint against the Deer. and inadvertently trod on your children. Suddenly a drumming filled the air. he accidentally trod upon the young otters—trampling them to death.” “Sorry!” said the Otter. the Otter wiped away her tears and approached him. The Woodpecker was beating on the war gong.” said the Deer. When the Otter returned. the Deer was chief dancer. They had brought along refreshments and were having a picnic. But in his frenzy. she wept.” said the Deer. I am sorry. with some of his wives and children. The Deer lounged by the river. And racked by sorrow.   Otter’s Complaint I         . she found the bodies of her children. “I caused their deaths. So he sprang to his feet and performed the war dance.

“I had spotted the Otter swimming along the river—on his way to devour my offspring! I had to protect them!” Solomon turned to the Otter. For I had spotted the Lizard—and he was wearing his sword. through a chain of events. Solomon summoned the Crayfish and asked why he had been bearing his lance.” said the Woodpecker. “Indeed I did. The Deer cannot be blamed.” “But I have to fish! How else am I to feed my family? Besides.” Solomon summoned the Turtle and asked why he had donned his armor. So I assumed war was upon us. “For a good reason. yes—by threatening the offspring of the Crayfish.” Solomon summoned the Lizard and asked if he had donned his sword. The Otter moaned and asked: “Why has  made the world as He has?”  . Solomon summoned the Crab and asked why he had been carrying his pike. So I was duty-bound to perform the war dance—in the course of which this unfortunate accident occurred.” said the Crayfish. it is my nature to fish. “I did. “but with good cause. “you yourself were the cause of this tragedy.” said the Lizard. “Alas.” Solomon summoned the Woodpecker and asked if he had sounded the war gong. “For I saw that the Turtle had donned his armor.      gong. “I brought about my children’s demise?” “Ultimately. How could I have acted oth- erwise?” “Everything you say is true.” he said to her.” said Solomon with a ges- ture of helplessness. “Because I saw the Crab carrying his pike.” said the Crab. So I assumed war was at hand.” The Otter looked at him in disbelief. “Because I saw the Crayfish bearing his lance.” said the Turtle.

A guard stood nearby.* * The question raised by the Otter is what philosophers call theodicy. or the Problem of Evil. shouting and laughing. ’  Solomon looked over to where his own children were playing. After  . How is  to be justified in the face of affliction? Why would a benevolent deity create a world in which pain and suffering abound? And not even Solo- mon. is able to provide an answer. They were cavorting on the grass—tossing a ball. It is the same question that is posed in the Book of Job. And he had no answer for the Otter. with his wisdom.

’s message? That He knows what He is doing. That His plan is perfect.  .Hast thou been to the depths of the sea? Hast thou glimpsed beyond the Gates of Death?” What do you.      suffering a series of calamities. if thou hast understanding…. A philosopher chides him for this complaint. “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?” asks . know about any- thing?  is asking. And He goes on to describe His ordering of the natural world. They tell him he is being punished for his sins. Speaking out of a whirl- wind. We should simply accept His doings and stand in awe of His greatness. But Job will have none of their conventional wisdom. He rebukes Job for questioning His governance of the world. He insists he is blameless and accuses  of being unjust. Which Job—realizing his folly—finally does. though its underlying wisdom is a mystery to us—is beyond our understanding. “Declare. and to enumerate some of its wonders. arguing that  —“greater than any man”—need not account for His actions. But Job persists in trying to comprehend the cause of his suffering. And suddenly  Himself appears. a mere mortal. Friends seek to console him and to make sense of his fate. Job wishes he had never been born.

Indeed.   at King Solomon’s chamber. intelligent. Solomon tossed the bird a cracker. Sheba is a wealthy land. wear garlands on their heads. I would like to meet this woman. Beyond that. it is independent. kingdom. But the hoopoe has brought us some information. having fought no war in the last five centuries. But here’s the most fascinating fact: They are ruled by a woman—the Queen of Sheba! According to the hoopoe. And it is peaceable. Seated at his breakfast table. Benaiah. he tells me. and smile constantly! As befits so good-natured a people. of course—Sheba is our source of frankincense and myrrh. turned to Benaiah. They own no swords. Solomon dictated a letter to the Queen of Sheba. The king. she indicated. he was making trilling sounds. Benaiah found Solomon out on the balcony. and said: “My friend has been describing a faraway land.” Summoning his scribe. He greeted her. And instead of competing. rendering tribute to no one. from which he has just returned. he attached it to the hoopoe and ordered  . A hoopoe— bobbing its head and trilling back—was perched on the parapet. And she is unwed. nothing was known of the place. And you know what? I think I’ll write to her. He described his ancestry. and she rolled her eyes and flapped her elbows. Sealing the letter. was talking with a bird. the Shebans have forgotten the art of war. Politically. It is called Sheba and is locat- ed about  leagues to the south. they cooperate with one another. The name’s familiar.   Queen of Sheba C    . glittering with gold and fragrant with orchards and gardens. One of the royal wives was just leaving. and revered by her subjects. she is beautiful. and accomplishments—and invited her to come visit him. they worship the sun.

From the Queen of Sheba to Solomon. identifying it with the ruins of Saba in present-day Yemen. have we heard of Solomon. For never before. The Gospel of Matthew refers to “the queen of the south.” who “came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Solomon opened the letter and read it. It was tied with a red ribbon and scented with cinnamon. in his Antiquities. The Book of Kings associates the Queen of Sheba with the Red Sea. with a letter from the Queen of Sheba. As Edward Ullendorff (in Ethiopia and the Bible) points out: “It scarcely matters very greatly whether we have to seek the queen’s home in South-west Arabia or in the horn of Africa (the reference to rich forests…might possibly favour the latter assump- tion). has there walked upon the earth (or does he glide through the air. describes her as being African. and have at times been politically and culturally allied.” Josephus. Ethiopia and Yemen are just fifteen miles apart at the Bab el Mandeb. like a god?) a ruler of such sagacity. as does the Kebra Nagast. His riches are rumored to be boundless. son of David. Can these reports be true? we have wondered. it would seem. in this remote cor- ner of the world. Africa or Arabia? Actually. perspicacity. But most impressive of all have been the reports of his wisdom. the kingdom may have straddled the two. bound for the distant land of Sheba.      the bird to deliver it to the Queen. but gives no specific location for her kingdom. Or are they exag- gerations—traveler’s tales—the overripe fruit of popular * The exact location of Sheba remains a matter of debate.”  . But archeolo- gists place Sheba in Arabia. Ethiopia’s national epic. for the connexions between the two shores of the southern Red Sea have at all times been close. His empire is said to be vast. Lounging on his balcony. and breadth of intellect.* • The hoopoe returned a week later. For even here. King of the Israelites and wisest of men—greetings! Your fame has preceded your invitation. The hoopoe flew off.

Until we meet. The camels.* *  talents of gold would weigh four and a half tons.  talents of gold. servants. Thus. Josephus (refus- ing to credit such extravagance?) mentions a mere  talents. In addition to assessing (and. frankincense and myrrh were highly sought-after in the ancient  . Solomon reread the letter. and may the Divine (in whatever form you conceive it) smile upon your endeavors. P. In either case. to announce that the Queen was only a few leagues away. construction projects. Myrrh was used in burial wrappings and cosmetic lotions. we hope. today. word reached him of her arrival. The gifts included pre- cious gems.S. A herald appeared at the palace. As for frankincense and myrrh. were laden with gifts for King Solomon. revenues. and bagfuls of spices—in particular.” he said. • But Solomon had countless matters—petitions. and be worth roughly . So it was an agreeable surprise when. they were no less coveted than gold. confirming) your wisdom. and musicians. the camels would have sagged beneath a heavy load.. The trees that were the source of these aromatic gums grew in only one area of the world: the southern coasts of the Red Sea. She was traveling in a caravan of one hundred camels. we accept your invitation and shall be departing soon for Jerusalem. The figure given by Ahimaaz is the same as that found in the Book of Kings. And both were prized as medicines. “So. Frankincense was a main ingredient in the incense burnt with sacrificial offerings. said the herald.    imagination? To find out. “the Queen is coming.” He purred with anticipation and tossed the hoo- poe a cracker. may you walk (or glide!) in health and pros- perity. three months later. complaints from his wives—to occu- py his mind. accompanied by drivers. we shall be desirous of negotiating a trade agreement of mutual advantage to our respective kingdoms. frankincense and myrrh. and soon forgot about the Queen of Sheba.

     “Gems. as the wealthiest nation on earth. “Hello?” he called out. They were the source of the kingdom’s wealth. There he donned his breastplate and sword.” “Whoa. If the servant is so mag- nificent. by Pliny the Elder.” “How am I going to delay her?” “Find a way. “I want her first glimpse of Jerusalem to be the city at its most radiant. “wise and mighty King of the Israelites. Speed me to your master. The Queen of Sheba stuck her head out and smiled at him. (By Roman times the Shebans would be described.” he said. come to escort you into the presence of the King. he rode from the city—escorted in high style by the runners. Benaiah. gold. “Greetings. and escort her into the city. Benaiah. a bal- sam root.” Benaiah sneaked a look at the sun—still a few hours world—and the kingdom of Sheba had a monopoly on them. rather.” Benaiah saluted and went to his headquarters. greet the Queen with due pomp. “You are mistaken. “I’ve hit the jackpot. And hopping into his chariot. He soon encountered the caravan: a hundred camels plodding along in single file.” “Indeed! Now I am expectant. Benaiah pulled up alongside it.” He ordered Benaiah to ride south.  .” she said. A driver directed him to the royal palanquin.) The Queen’s gifts also included. thank you. I am not he. and spices—plus the Queen of Sheba. according to Josephus.” said Benaiah. what must the master be like?” “Why. madam. O Solomon. “But delay her approach until sunset. Captain of the Guard. Starting with this single plant. He assembled a squadron of runners. flanked by his runners.” stammered Benaiah. “I am eager to meet him. And as I now see for myself—every inch a king.” said Solomon. balsam was cultivated near Jericho and used to anoint the kings (and perfume the maid- ens) of Israel.

waving graciously. He began to walk the length of the caravan. Bobbing his head and mumbling a blessing. Peering from her palanquin. he sprinkled each camel with water.    from setting. “Speed you to him I shall. Benaiah signaled for the caravan to proceed. When he had finished. Each of them individually. the Queen of Sheba marveled at the sight. the city glimmered with a golden light. the sun was low in the sky. As they approached Jerusalem. Benaiah produced a carafe and stepped from the char- iot.  . in accordance with our custom.” he said. “But there’s some- thing I must do first.” “By all means.” said the Queen. I must bless your camels.

• Solomon was grooming himself in the lounge. how else could a woman have risen to power?” “Nonsense.” “It could be true.” she said. You mustn’t take any chances. She might bewitch you. “This queen who’s about to arrive?” said the High Priest. when Zadok came up behind him. After all. My wives have probably hatched this rumor. and cheering the end of their long journey.      “If his lair is so splendid. To the effect that she is a shaytan—a demon of some sort. “what must the lion be like?” And the Shebans were soon halting their camels outside the city gate.”  .” “Why not?” “There are disturbing rumors. “I urge you not to meet with her.


Beside him stood the High Priest. I’ll determine whether or not the Queen of Sheba is a demon. the Queen raised her skirt—revealing legs that were both human and shapely. She looked down and saw fish swimming at her feet. I’ll tell you what. “Come in!” called out Solomon.” “How will you do that?” Solomon thought for a moment. According to Arabian lore. Across the room Solomon was seated on his throne. “This is no joking matter. the Queen will believe herself about to step into water. beneath which is the pool of fish. holding his arms out and feigning a trance. Then he said: “I’ll move my throne into the Fish Pool Room and receive her there. I’ll welcome her to my kingdom.” “Have the Queen escorted to the palace and shown to her quarters.” said Solomon. the Queen peered inside. “Allow her to rest and refresh herself. If hers be so.” Zadok nodded gravely. The room has a glass floor. the Queen of Sheba may been the daughter of a demon. Before having anything to do with her. With a demure gasp.” “What’s the point of that?” “Demons are known to have hairy legs. Members of the court were lined up along the walls.” “All right. Then have her brought to the Fish Pool Room.” said Solomon. guest from afar.” A servant entered and said: “Sire. the land  . the Queen of Sheba and her entourage are entering the city. “Welcome. Upon entering.      “If she hasn’t already. So she’ll raise her skirt—thus revealing her legs.” • The Queen of Sheba arrived at the Fish Pool Room. she’s a demon—in which case I’ll send her packing. “An excellent plan.* * Human legs notwithstanding. Otherwise.” Pausing in the doorway.

 . “This is no demon—just a woman with a devil- ish set of legs. They exchanged bows and formal greetings. Thanks to these. “What an attractive woman. But on their wedding night Bilkis stabbed the king to death.” said Solomon. Lemonade was served. This daughter. madam? I wish it were less—that we might be closer friends. Scharabhil had a vizier who was exceedingly handsome—so much so that a female demon fell in love with him. The demon would come to the vizier by night. Desert as a barrier to invasion. And the two monarchs chatted. grew into such a beauty that Scharabhil took a fancy to her. “Are you satisfied?” he whispered to Zadok. Desert I regret for the discomforts it must have caused you during your journey. you of Saba was once ruled by a cruel king named Scharabhil. and forced her to marry him. and described the gifts she had brought. we have avoided conflict and maintained our independence. “Tall and slender. “is simple enough— what we call ‘the Three D’s. dark and comely. She thanked him. Solomon welcomed the Queen to Jerusalem. Solomon had a chair brought out for his guest. How have you managed to do so?” “Our secret.” said Solomon. “A question about your foreign policy.” replied the Queen.” “Let’s get on with the protocol. When the formalities had been completed. Bilkis. And see how she carries herself— in a manner at once imperious and sensual.” The High Priest glowered at him.’ Distance between our land and others. “I hear that you Shebans have avoided war for centuries. With a dainty step she crossed the glass floor.” Solomon bid the Queen approach the throne. As for diplomacy.” “Distance. and became the Queen of Saba. and offered both his own friendship and that of his people. Fish darted beneath her feet. And—when neces- sary—skilled diplomacy.    Solomon eyed her legs. conveyed the fond sentiments of the Sheban people. and eventually gave birth to a daughter.

” said the Queen.” “And I with your forthright manner. Our trade routes are extensive and make use of certain ports—Ezion-geber and Gaza—that have come under your control. “Done. “to the prime  . “Sheba is the world’s supplier of frankincense and myrrh.” “Let me proceed then.      will have no need for it here—we shall be as brother and sis- ter in our dealings.” said the Queen.” Solomon waved casually. Which reminds me. Did you not men- tion in your letter a possible trade agreement?” “I did.” “I am impressed with your decisiveness. Now those ships that you and Hiram have been sending south? We would allow them —in return for unimpeded access to your ports—to trade and take on fresh water at our ports.

” “What water is sometimes sweet and sometimes bitter— though coming from the same source?” “Tears.” answered Solomon. “What flows and froths like water. poised to respond. word of your wisdom had reached us. we read: “It is the glory of  to conceal a thing. I am a master of riddles. answer me this. then the longer it decays. it moves not. at the spot where  part- ed the waters for the fleeing Israelites. Answer them cor- rectly and you’ll have proven yourself to be wise. it travels widely.” “Before there was a universe. but the honour of kings is to search out a matter. who had found it useful to adopt the outward trappings of a sage? To find out.” “What sort of test?” “I wish to propound a series of riddles. where did the Creator of the universe dwell?” “Within Himself.    matter that has brought me here. the more life issues from it?” “Living seeds of wheat.”* Solomon leaned forward in the throne.” “Propound away. And the Queen began to riddle him. Was Israel’s king in fact a wise man? Or merely a Machiavel like the rest. As I stated in my letter. He got up and paced about the Fish * In the Book of Proverbs (of which Solomon is the reputed author). madam.” “What land has seen the sun but once?” “The bottom of the Red Sea.” “And lastly. and I wondered if the reports were true.” (Proverbs :)  . O Queen. yet neither falls from the sky nor gushes from the earth?” “The sweat of horses. What is it?” “A tree that is cut down and hewn into timbers for a ship. From what planet did the original Israelites come?” Solomon frowned. But after dying. “While it lives. I determined to put your wisdom to a test.” “What gets buried before it is dead.

     Pool Room. The others are arti- ficial—ingenious fakes. “When it comes to flowers. Benaiah hurried over and helped him climb out. sightseeing. Identify the real flower. He peered closely at them. however. he escorted the Queen of Sheba to a banquet that had been prepared in her honor. Fish swam between his legs. Then he said: “Let’s eat. With more buzzing sounds. “Indeed.” And taking her by the arm. repeating the riddle. “I have here a hundred flow- ers. “And one final test of your wisdom.” he said. Sticking his head out.” “And when it comes to wise men. he made a buzzing sound. touched them. The master of riddles was stumped. Suddenly he came to a halt. Grinning with embarrassment. stamp- ing his foot in triumph. • The Queen of Sheba stayed for a month. is real. She displayed a bouquet of flowers. that’s the real one. He drove her about the countryside in his chariot.” said Solomon.” Solomon examined the flowers.” said the Queen. he stood knee-deep in water. Whereupon. During that time Solomon was an attentive host. the bee flew over to the flowers and alighted on one of them. smelled them. A bee came flying in and hovered in front of him.” But then he snapped his fingers and went to a window. “a bee can- not be fooled. Crack! King Solomon went crashing through the glass floor. “They all seem real. “I can’t tell. There is only one—King Solomon!” She presented him with the bouquet. Solomon made a self-deprecating gesture.” said the Queen. the reports were true. Only one of them. led her on a tour of  . Solomon explained the situation. “Jew-pi-ter!” he cried.

Solomon inquired as to the history and customs of the Shebans. “However. They discussed too the religion of Israel. gave her a seat of honor at the judgment sessions. “Happy are the men. on which all such knowledge was engraved—and for years she had been studying this pillar. sitting by its fountain. She explained that in the main square of her capital was a pillar. the half was not told me.” “That is wise of them. he expressed surprise at the breadth of her knowledge. who delighted in you and set you on the throne of Israel. And he welcomed her to the Tower of Learning. I believed not the words. He took a particular interest in Sheban sun-worship. They also held discussions in the garden. and Solomon dis- coursed on the subject. “They are con- tent simply to be.” • Finally the time came for the Queen of Sheba to return home. showed her the Temple. where they perused scrolls and discussed arcane matters. Because He loved Israel. happy are these your subjects. who come continually before you and hear your wisdom. “it was a true report that I heard in my own land of your acts and of your wisdom. The garden became their favorite place.” she said.” said Solomon.  . Your wisdom and prosperity exceed the fame which I heard. “Blessed be the Lord your . The Queen ques- tioned him about the nature of . “O King of Israel. And behold. and my eyes had seen it. until I came. Would that you or I could achieve such contentment. they watched a pair of butterflies flutter about.    the palace. When the talk turned to natural philosophy. and ques- tioned her closely on it. “Butterflies do not speak. On the eve of her departure she came before Solo- mon and spoke formally. “Can you speak with butterflies?” asked the Queen. One afternoon.

at opposite ends of the room. Let me now give you a test. Then he said: “When you arrived.” “What sort of test?” “Of your virtue. My promise is this: If you take noth- ing that is mine. This is your final night here. The meal consisted of ten courses—all highly spiced. of course. The two monarchs climbed into their respective beds and went to sleep.      therefore He made you king. madam. One was clearly the source for the other. “Now I shall take that which is yours.” “Sir!” “You needn’t worry.” “O foolish man. Solomon loosened his grip.”* Solomon thanked the Queen for her visit. you tested me with riddles. • The next day the Queen of Sheba set out for home. Solomon opened his eyes and seized her arm. Separate beds had been set up. he led her to his chamber.” he said.” “I have? What was that?” “My heart. to do judgment and justice. On the table beside Solomon’s bed was a goblet of water. Solomon and Benaiah stood on the balcony. “You have taken something that is mine.” They gazed soulfully at one another. After- wards. I shall take nothing that is yours. Spend it with me in the Royal Chamber. But the Queen awoke during the night—thirsty from the spicy food. She tiptoed over and drank from the goblet. and presented her with gifts as lavish as those she had brought. watching her * Ahimaaz’s account of her departure speech corresponds almost word for word with that given in the Book of Kings.” “Very well.” That night Solomon escorted her to a farewell dinner. And the Queen slid into bed with him.  . you already have.

a month in Sheba.  . and sympathetic woman I have ever known. Do I really need another?” “This one would have been different.” “Yes. The most attrac- tive. Besides. intelligent. Clutching the parapet. I have mine.” Solomon did not answer.” said Solomon. and come back to find some northerner sitting on my throne.” “So what? Travel back and forth between the two—a month in Israel. he watched the caravan depart. rebels make hay. You know what they say: When the king’s away. With the carpet you could be there in less than a day.    caravan depart from the city. I already have hundreds of wives.” “Then why didn’t you ask her to stay?” “She has her kingdom. “Alas. “there she goes.

As for its speed and range. traveler and author of Shambhala. When Sol- omon felt the urge to ramble. or journey to the far reaches of his realm. Fashioned of green silk. the others * A popular misconception (then and now) was that the carpet possessed an inherent capability of flight.* The carpet was kept on the roof of the palace. (The four jewels gave him dominion over animals. pay visits. wind. mentions the mountaintops to which Solomon is said to have flown. upon which he was wont to cruise the hills. and to have supped at eight in the evening. it was an ordi- nary—though exquisite—rug of Persian origin.) Descriptions of the carpet are to be found in both Jewish and Arabian lore.” the man told Roerich. According to some. the speed of the car- pet was approximately  miles an hour. More likely.”  . It flew solely by dint of the wind. it was interwoven with gold and embroidered with images. He also quotes an old Muslim man in the kingdom of the Uighurs. he would summon Benaiah and the Singing Guards. Accounts differ as to its size. the carpet was just large enough for Solomon and a contingent of guards. which Solomon was able to control with his ring. “Of King Solomon. Thus. Everyone climbed aboard and took his place: Solomon on the portable throne. Solomon (no early riser) may be pre- sumed to have breakfasted around nine in the morning. along with a portable throne.   Flying Carpet K         of transport: his flying carpet. it could accommodate all the members of the court. we are told that Solomon could “breakfast in Damascus and sup in Media. jinn. and water. who would crowd aboard for a ride. Nicholas Roerich. “everyone knows that he flew throughout the earth and that he learned the Truth in all lands and that he had even been on the far-off stars. In fact.” The distance from Damascus to Media (a kingdom at the southern end of the Caspian Sea) was  miles.

Reports had reached him of an isolated valley. Solomon traveled on his carpet to the Valley of the Ape-men. Solomon and the guards were joy-riding at a great height.” Whereupon. “Return. too. O Solomon—when you. Solomon hung his head in shame. The Wind was flying them among the clouds. Like riders on a roller coaster. who? Am I not without peer?” “Certainly.” Realizing his transgression. O Wind!” he cried. Beside the throne stood Benaiah: cape streaming behind him. But—” Suddenly the Wind ceased to blow. “That I shall. king of the universe—glorious beyond compare. Solomon clutched the throne as they plunged. “Return?” came the voice of the Wind. Far below. “pardon my pride. the Wind arrived and bore the carpet aloft. am I—Solomon. bore up the carpet. “O Lord. • On another occasion. you are rich. I am but a wretch who wears a crown.” he said. the Judean hills rolled toward the coastal plain. inhabited  . Like a kite it glided over Jeru- salem. helmet glinting in the sun. and resumed its course—pleased to have taught the wisest of men a lesson. wise. puffed up by pride. its passengers gasped. Seated on the throne. “And how glorious. waving his goblet at the vista. One afternoon. in riches or in wisdom? And who else is able to fly about like an eagle? Say.   pressed closely about him. return to . Immediately. Solomon then raised his ring and summoned the Wind. Just visible in the distance was the sea. And the carpet plummeted earthward. Solomon was flushed with exhilaration—from the combined effects of flight and the wine he was drinking. king of Israel! Am I not the most magnificent of monarchs? Who is equal to me. Whilst Thou art . “How glorious a view!” said Solomon. and able to fly. the Wind returned. Benaiah. to the awe of the populace.

     by a tribe of Israelites whom  had cursed and trans- formed into apes. Simian now in physique.  . and dwell in houses. despite warnings from the few pious men among them. wear clothes. Their sin had been to repeatedly violate the Sabbath. they continued nonetheless to speak Hebrew.

they were met by an elderly ape. and before leaving. and ordering that no one harm them. John Seymour). along with Benaiah and the Singing Guards. summoned the Wind. Solomon took pity on the ape-men.  . A converted Jew among Omar’s men was able to read the document—written in ancient Hebrew—and identify it as a deed from King Solomon. Omar detoured around the valley and left its inhabitants in peace. too. For their affliction had brought about a return to piety. So he hopped aboard the carpet.   Solomon was curious about this tribe. he signed a document giving them perpetual rights to their valley. wearing a robe and clutching a document.* * In the seventh century the Caliph Omar and his army passed this way. and flew to the valley. As they approached the valley (according to Tales of King Solomon by St. There he spent a day among the ape-men. He conversed and dined with them—and prayed.

Solomon led the guards in a walk around the palace. They were fashioned from a bluish. The eagle flew down and perched on the throne. he ordered the Wind to take them down. They greeted one another. “Looks real enough to me.” said Solomon. And they gazed up at the mysterious citadel that loomed before them. The palace seemed a kind of monument.  . “But what’s a palace doing in the middle of a desert?” said Solomon. All was silent. He awoke Solomon. He waved his ring and summoned it. “Maybe it’s a mirage. glistened in the sun. Its walls and parapets. set in an empty expanse of desert.” said Benaiah. who was dozing on the throne. “This place is uncanny. followed by Benaiah and the Singing Guards. in a raucous exchange of squawks. not a single door nor window was to be seen. But they could find no entranceway. peering down at an array of towers. translucent stone. On the central tower a banner was flapping. and pointed it out. sitting in its nest on one of the towers. The carpet descended and landed on a sand dune. the palace showed no sign of habitation.” Just then Solomon spotted an eagle. Benaiah shook his head as he watched. domes and towers. the two conversed. Surrounded by desert. His curiosity roused. Then. when they had completed their circuit. when Benaiah—scanning the desert over which the carpet was passing—spotted a palace. “I think we should leave. Solomon approached the bird.” said Benaiah. Strangely. in the wind that the Israelites had brought. Solo- mon disembarked.   Mysterious Palace K         Persia. save for the flapping of the banner.

But then. Our amber fields shriveled and died.” Finally. put to rout The ample crops that were our pride. With a loud whoosh it blew the sand away—revealing an iron door. “You’re not thinking of having us remove that sand. Benaiah groaned. “His name is Alanad. Pleasure was our daily fare Constant music filled the air. I asked him how one might enter the palace. which over the years had become covered with sand.  . We kept a thousand prancing steeds Servants tended to our needs. but it always amazes me. Solomon examined the door. And though we ground our pearls to flour Starvation did us all devour As one by one we dropped and died Who in this palace did reside. Solomon rejoined his companions. O woe! the Steeds of Drought Trampled o’er us. He recalled. Over the centuries it had accumulated against the wall. “I’ve seen this before. We dwelt herein for years untold Our riches waxing thousandfold. He read the words aloud. The Wind came swirling about them. He said it wasn’t possible —there’s no way in. “and he has lived here all of his life—some two hundred years. When Solomon poked at it.” said Solomon. About there being an entrance on the north side. a remark made by his grandfather when Alanad was a youth. they approached a mound of sand.” said Solomon. Affixed to it was an inscribed plaque. He raised his ring and uttered a command.   “Gabbing with a bird!” he said. the eagle squawked loudly and flew off. however.” Walking around to the north side of the palace. Sire? With our bare hands? In this desert heat?” “There’s an easier way.

Solomon reached in and pulled out a key. For creeping lizard to behold We leave this palace. tugged it open. men. (The key is to the right of the door For thou who wouldst these halls explore.    .        .  .” Benaiah and his fellow guards traded looks. and said: “Follow me. filled with gold.      So do we leave it to the sands That like a shroud have draped our lands.) Beside the door was a niche. He unlocked the door.

” said Solomon. “it says prophets and kings only. you would be excluded. “I have the utmost respect for your legal acumen.   “Sire. The Israelites found themselves in a narrow passageway. At its far end was a door with an inscription: Savor each hour of life. I simply—and wisely —heed the sign. The tables and benches were inlaid with gems. they arrived at a door with this inscription:  . Then he said: “A king’s entourage is an extension of the king. Alas! The sand moves through the hourglass. Everything was illuminated by an eerie light. The walls were hung with gold shields. At the far end of the hall they came to a door with an inscription: The days do flow unto the grave As swift for monarch as for slave.” said Benaiah.’ do I fancy myself an excep- tion? Do I weigh the meaning of the word ‘beware’? Do I debate the matter with the dog? No.” said Benaiah.’ you may enter. and followed after him.” Solomon thought for a moment.” “Come on. But that warning is explicit. As my ‘instruments’ or ‘min- ions. As private individu- als. he passed inside. tapestries. “Let’s check this place out.” Benaiah looked dubious. Passing through another hall. His companions exchanged looks of helplessness. which filtered in through the crystalline walls of the palace. The door opened into another hall—a gallery filled with gold and silver artifacts.” “Sire. When I encounter a sign that says ‘Beware of Dog.” Ducking through the doorway. they emerged into a sump- tuous dining hall. “You’re sure?” “Fairly sure. Proceeding cautiously along it. silver figurines.

This day or the next Thy name in the Book of Life…x’d! And traversing yet another hall. full of gems and gold Was a wonder to behold. As they approached the statue. To pale Death could I say no? Could I offer him my wealth In exchange for life and health? What inducement. Warily. “Cheap effect. Revealed was a small room. they found a door with a bronze scorpion attached to it. Wisps of smoke drifted from the ears.” said Benaiah nervously. command Could stay that cold and terrible hand? He led me grimly to a place Where did await a narrow space. Fire shot from its ears. The room was empty save for a statue—of a king on a throne. And this inscription: Our king was dreaded far and near Yet in the end. they entered.      Prepare thyself.  . “Or so one hopes. A dozen kingdoms did I tame Whose subjects learned to fear my name. it began to shake and rattle. My palace. Solomon touched the scorpion. On the king’s chest was an inscribed plaque. he too knew fear. my will supreme Dictatorial my regime! Yet when he beckoned me to go. My name. My word was law.” The statue sputtered and ceased to shake. the son of Ad In regal splendor was I clad. Shadad. Solomon stepped up to it and read aloud the inscription. the door opened. threat. With a grinding sound.

The implication is that. Solomon sat slumped in the throne. they reboarded the carpet and flew off. Its philosophy—life is brief. In it the author tells us that he had been king over Israel. the scholars deem Ecclesiastes to be an example of pseudepigraphy —a literary work to which the name of a figure of the past was attached. drink.    ’     . Now and again he murmured the words of Shadad: “‘All is vanity.” Hastening from the palace. Ecclesiastes could not have been written by Solomon. As the Wind bore them homeward. the rich and proud! And in the end. For a moment Solomon was silent.   . The book’s language and ideas. he was evidently quoting Shadad’s motto. owned but a shroud. Why would King Solomon—who continued on the throne until his death—introduce himself thus? So who wrote Ecclesiastes? In chapter  Ahimaaz will point to a candidate. however. they say. There is also the curious matter of the opening line of Eccle- siastes. so enjoy the pleasures of the day (“man hath no better things under the sun than to eat.   I was Shadad.’”* * These words are familiar to us from the Book of Ecclesiastes —a work attributed to King Solomon. he no longer was. suggest an author who flourished many centuries later. Thus. According to Biblical scholars. If Solomon was indeed the author. vanity I say.  . at the time of composition. Then he turned to his companions and said: “Let’s get out of here. and be merry”)—is more suited to an assimilated Jew of the Hellen- istic era than to the pious king who built the Temple. He seemed to be brooding.

And we sailed on.” said Solomon into the tube. that rare and shimmering fabric—that it might lend its radiance to your court. Sire.” Captain Zakar slapped himself. wiry man. filled with scrolls. king of Tyre—as captain of your ship Leviathan. a leather tunic.” “Be right down. I set sail from Ezion-geber. he descended the spiral stairs. He wore the flat cap of a sailor. the king yawned. native of Tyre and rover of the sea. In his arms he held a basket. King Solomon had dozed off—when Benaiah’s voice sounded from the communication “That ship’s captain is here. “My greetings and obeisances. My mis- sion. For many weeks we sailed eastward. distant China. “We stopped at Ophir. Contin- uing along the Nubian coast. Rather. with a joint crew of Phoenicians and Israel- ites.”  . The ship’s captain was chatting with Benaiah. and a short cape.   Chinese Food E tube. My cargo was a hundred casks of olive oil. thanks be unto the Lord of the Universe. blessed with favor- able winds and a storm-free sea—thanks be unto Baal. “Pardon me. to acquire silk. Donning his crown. Your Majesty.” said the captain. bowing. He was a tall.          Learning. “I am Zakar. Your High- ness. His study at the top of the Tower was filled with sunlight. Two years ago. we passed through the Bab el Mandeb and entered the open sea. until the coast of India loomed on the hori- zon. My destination. with shoulder-length hair and a sun-beaten complexion. A breeze rustled the curtains and fanned a pile of papers. It has been my privilege to serve—on loan from Hiram. At a trading post there we exchanged a portion of our oil and gold for spices. to take on a load of gold. Awakened from his nap.

“All that winter did we tarry. waving impatiently. “But the aspect of Chinese civilization that most im- pressed me was its culinary arts. who they believe can intercede in their behalf.   “Go on. “Passing through the Strait of Malacca. with which they seek to harmonize their actions. to which my men and I were welcomed. I have a knack for languages. they produce silk—by a secret process rumored to involve trained insects. in their knowledge of the heavens. Each afternoon we would take our seats and marvel at the steaming platters that were brought to our table. Finally we sighted the coast of China.  . Many more weeks went by as the Leviathan plunged through the deep.” “Absolutely! Let’s hear it. go on. A triumphant cry rose from my men! And we were soon entering a harbor.’ The physician sticks pins into his patient! Advanced. Chinese metallurgy is highly sophisticated. Thus. I have sailed the world. He then escorted us to the palace. delectable dumplings. and Chinese astronomers. There were savory soups. and paintings. sculptures.” “The Chinese worship a long list of nature deities. and sampled many cuisines—yet none so delicious and varied as that of China. and include a bizarre—yet effective—‘puncture treatment. we veered north. of course. and was soon speaking and understanding Chinese. You may imagine our excitement as the Leviathan drew alongside a pier and dropped anchor. A daily banquet was held in the palace. And. surpass even the Chaldeans. having reached the city of Wu. An official in flowing robes came aboard and welcomed us.” said Solomon. capital of the kingdom of Wu. They also worship their ancestors. broiled fish in pungent sauces. And they acknowledge a mysterious force called the Tao. where King Wu himself accepted our gifts and bid us tarry as his guests. The stars are both worshiped and studied. are the decorative arts in China—we saw the most exquis- ite jewelry.Their medical arts are advanced. lodged in the palace and provided with every comfort. during our stay I was able to learn something of their cul- ture—information I thought might interest you. too.

Solomon sat down and examined the scroll. “This contains ‘soy sauce’—a fermented condiment that the Chinese pour liberally upon their food. They are here in this basket. Five-Spice Vegetable Delight. Aware of your interest in the learning of other nations. but I was able to exchange our oil. He was a sharp bargainer. Three Fairy Salad.” Placing the basket on a table. Unrolling it. and textures was unbelievable. Solomon frowned at the unfamiliar script. Running his  . chow mein. Never shall I forget its delights. And when the winds turned favorable.” He reached into the basket and brought out a bottle. whose lithe forms that silk will grace—do thank you. “Yet enthralled as I was by Wu’s cuisine and other attrac- tions. I was able to acquire—as part of our exchange with the Chinese—a number of scrolls.” said Solomon. “Ideograms. lo mein. Zakar bowed and exited the Tower. And one final item have I brought you. We entered into negotiations. And finally the moment seemed right to approach the Minister of Trade. nor cease to hunger for it. and spices for fifty rolls of silk. and my men and I—in emulation of our hosts—routinely ate ourselves into a stupor. Thousand-Year- Old Egg.      Aromatic Crispy Chicken. Enjoy it. Captain Zakar. and dishes whose identity we never learned—but nonetheless consumed with gusto! The variety of ingredi- ents. gold. And there’s something more. I did not forget my mission.” explained Zakar. “After a series of adventures at sea. Sire. braised oxen in garlic sauce. A meal consisted of sixteen courses. And the silk was conveyed to your palace here in Jerusalem. tastes. Chinese food is one of the wonders of the world. deep-fried egg rolls. the Leviathan sailed into port at Ezion-geber. “My duty and my pleasure. “They’re nonalphabetical —each character is a word. my men and I set sail for home. Your Majesty. sesame noodles. Verily.” “For which I—in behalf of my wives.” The captain handed him one of the scrolls.

desert. Nightfall found it cruising the Persian plateau. “But perhaps we could have Chinese food.” “I want you to go to China and bring back Chinese food. Solomon stood and raised his ring. Expect me back tomorrow evening.” Turning his attention to the soy sauce. that we are unable to read these manuscripts.” “Sire?” said Benaiah. What arcane knowledge—what unique wisdom—they may contain. That Aromatic Spicy Chicken. I’d like a complete. and headed east. Over the Punjab it was awoken by the rising  .” “Szechwan. the Jordan River. come!” he commanded.” “I’m on my way.” “How do you mean?” “I’ll show you. The Wind came rushing in the window and swirled about them. It was still dozing when the moonlit mountains of Afghanistan appeared on the horizon. “You called. How I’d like to sample those deep-fried egg rolls. Are you available for an errand?” “I am at your beck. he sighed and said: “Alas.” With a whoosh the Wind flew out the window. It dozed off. the Mountains of Bashan— unfolded below. “O Wind. A glint had come into his eye. A changing landscape— hills. rose into the sky. “If only we had a serving of that Chinese food. Solomon poured some into his palm and tasted it. O Solomon?” said the Wind.   finger over the ideograms. And the Zagros Mountains. Captain Zakar’s description of it roused in me a crav- ing. That—” He halted mid-sentence. Soon the Wind was passing over the Tigris and Euphra- tes rivers. on which to pour this. Benaiah. “I did.” Putting down the bottle. “Mmm!” he said. “Perhaps we could send out for it. sixteen-course meal. It gusted along at full speed.” “Cantonese or Szechwan?” “What’s the difference?” “Szechwan is hot-and-spicy.

Servants were loading the table with platters of food. “Chinese food—this is it!” Captain Zakar served as a guide. Clutching cups of wine. He identified dishes —explained the role of rice—demonstrated the use of  . “You weren’t kidding. was busy with affairs of state. Suddenly the Wind came rushing through the window. granting boons. To pass the time. it was startled to see a monk fly by. They cleared off a table and sat down to wait. It followed the Yangtze as the river wound through moun- tain gorges. and carried them off. swirled about the table. It whirled about the table. who had been invited to join them in the feast. At an outdoor pavilion a banquet was about to begin. The Wind came roaring into the pavilion. And upon reaching Szechwan. it swooped down —toward the estate of a prosperous landowner. For he was eagerly anticipating the meal he had ordered. meanwhile. the guests were leaving a pond and ambling towards the dining pavilion. Zakar lifted a lid. and bureaucrats. • Solomon. suppliants. he received a steady stream of liti- gants. The Wind yawned and wondered where it was. emissaries. The head servant shouted and shook his fist. snatched up the contents. as the food disappeared into the sky. The three men gazed wide-eyed at the steaming platters before them. It flew past the snowy peaks of the Himalayas. And passing over Tibet. along with Captain Zakar. At sunset he dismissed his aides and hastened to the Tower of Learning. accepting gifts. But as he performed his duties—pronouncing judgments.” he said. and on it deposited a meal from afar. Waiting there was Benaiah. Perched on the throne. putting his seal on documents— Solomon’s thoughts were elsewhere.      sun. Zakar recounted one of his adventures at sea.

 . Repeatedly they filled their bowls—dousing every- thing with soy sauce and murmuring with satisfaction as they gorged themselves. And the three dined with gusto.   chopsticks—poured cups of tea.

“I have no idea. “But do we really want to know our fortunes?” “Why not?” Solomon raised a finger didactically and said: “As through life’s labyrinth we go ’Tis best our fortune not to know. “My fortune is inscribed on this slip.S. He withdrew the slip of paper and contemplated his unreadable fortune. they conclude the meal. To down these sweets.” said Benaiah. If it be good. Or. All the food had been devoured—except for a bowlful of confections that Zakar had saved for last. “Fortune cookies. nothing more? The present day.” And the three of them finished off the bowl of fortune cookies—tossing away the slips of paper as they went. “to decipher what it says. but cannot read these ideograms. I can speak Chinese. we need no jinn. let it surprise As when.  .” “What does it say?” asked Solomon. in any case. But also treats! So let’s dig in. if ill.* *  years after King Solomon introduced it. A meteor doth effloresce With a thrilling suddenness.” the captain explained.” said Solomon. across the starry skies. why wait in dread And worry over—years ahead— Some augured grief that when it’s o’er May seem a nuisance.      Finally the platters were empty.” Solomon took a cookie and snapped it open. Chinese food remains popular among Jews—particularly in the U.” “I suppose I could. Indeed. “Traditionally. Has bitter pills enough to face.” He snapped the cookie in two and withdrew a slip of paper. taking one from the bowl. “Perhaps you could summon the Info Imp.

The owner of Chin’s. a restaurant in Cleveland. keeps a Jewish calendar on the wall.  .   some Chinese restaurants close on Jewish holidays. for determining when to close. for lack of business.

“They say you know its location. Then he turned to Joseph. Whereupon. He donned his crown and descended the spiral stairs. Solomon climbed out of the win- dow seat. so long as they remain within the city. who was seated at his desk. The Luzites grow old—become bent and feeble—yet live on. Please. “O King Solomon. “His name is Elihor- eph. its inhabitants age but do not die. he was pacing about and wringing his hands. Its inhabitants refused to take  . Some say that Luz is located on the hill where Jacob saw the stairway of angels. however.” “I’ll do what I can. “Yes. Thus.   Luz W he said. and commemorates that bridge between heaven and earth.” said the priest. The sole place on earth where the Angel of Death has no sway—where he is forbidden to enter. they go outside the walls of Luz and die. “What is known of Luz?” he asked. he neglected to bow as Solomon came down the stairs. On the ground floor of the Tower of Learning waited Eli- horeph. corpulent man. “Luz?” said Joseph. But others say that Luz is the city where Jacob sought refuge. This very evening.” said Joseph. A bald. “It is the so-called City of Immortality. when fleeing Esau. “I beg your help.     . Eventually. and he says it’s urgent. Now!” Solomon was silent for a moment. I must go there. What ails you?” “Take me to Luz!” cried Elihoreph.” Laying aside the scroll.   lowered the scroll he was reading and spoke into the communication tube. they grow weary of such an existence.” “I’ll be right down. what is it?” “A priest to see you. Clearly distressed. “It is unclear why  created such a city.

Elihoreph gave a sigh of relief. Rather. it takes . the blue dye used on the fringes of prayer shawls. “The location of the city remains unknown. And he said: ‘Are you not Elihoreph the priest?’ “‘I am. I moved aside to let him pass. When the servant had gone. “An hour ago I was lounging in my room.’ I stammered.” he said. Reportedly. Like a sack of flour. The word luz means ‘almond tree’. snails to produce a small bottle of tekhelet. “Whatever the case. Luz is hidden away in the wilderness. no!’ someone cried. So the name of the city may allude to the immortality—or longevity. He gave me the awfulest look—the most men- acing look. The Luzites manufacture the dye from a rare species of snail. “My need is dire. an almond tree—with a tunnel cut through it—serves as the city gate. he had it draped over his shoulder. Elihoreph froze and turned pale. I saw the Angel of Death. I should say—of its inhabitants. ‘No. I know where Luz is. The door to the Tower opened.” he said. But the Angel of Death came to a halt and glared at me. so perhaps it’s located amidst the almond groves of the north. and a servant entered with refreshments. and I have chatted with those birds. Elihoreph. “But not because of any groves.  . But birds have flown over it. As for its location. But why do you need to go there? What exactly is the problem?” “My need is—” Just then a knock sounded. He was bearing a soul—that of my fellow priest Jehiah. But luz can also denote the nut- shaped bone at the base of the spine—a bone thought to be imperishable. and as punishment. “And that’s about all that’s known.  cursed the Luzites with prolonged life. Rushing into the corridor.  him in. Your Highness. Luz is notable for its dubious brand of immortality—and for a commodity. when I heard a cry of ter- ror. So yes. Solomon nodded and sat down on a stool. For it is our source of tekhelet.” concluded Joseph. emerging from a room. “The city is indeed named after the tree.

I could ask King Solomon to take me there. looked out at the night sky. laugh at my attempt to elude him.      “‘Elihoreph. I raced across the courtyard and into the Temple. and take my soul. “I turned and ran from the Temple. But where was I to go? Where could I hide from the Angel of Death? How was I to dodge him? Yet to dodge him I was determined. He would track me down in the most obscure corner of the city. Bursting from the residence. like all men. Save me from the Angel of Death. The priest’s sobbing echoed in the nar- row confines of the Tower. I fled from the Angel of Death! Through the corridors of the priestly residence I plunged like a madman—like a hunted beast! I was desperate to escape. A debt that I. For he had come to collect a debt. Luz! The one place where the Angel of Death may not enter. lighting the candles. and bring ill fortune upon Israel. Solomon walked to a window. Take me to Luz!” Elihoreph sank to his knees and began to sob. Then he pointed to the door and insisted that I leave. So here I am—begging you. There would be no giving him the slip. He listened with that grave expression of his. I headed for the upper city.  . O merciful King. he said. I explained to him my plight. I would draw the Angel of Death into the Temple. Might not its sacred confines serve as a sanctuary? Zadok was there. and that was that. But you’re supposed to be—’ “I shrieked and ran. owed unto —but whose payment I wished to defer for as long as possible! “As I ran. The Angel of Death was relentless. My heart was pound- ing! Racing through the courtyard gate. In its labyrinth of lanes I would shake my pur- suer—find shelter—disguise myself ! Yet I knew it was hope- less. Luz! I could seek refuge within its charmed walls. I am to col- lect your soul. But why are you looking at me like that?’ “‘Because you too are on my list for tonight. and pondered. son of Benjamin?’ “‘The same. Breathless and terri- fied. like that of Jehiah here. I was sure he was close behind. I was scheduled to die. “But then it came to me.

“Luz. it hovered a foot above the roof. Benaiah was singing softly. The four men traveled in silence. Slouched in the throne. Solomon raised his ring and summoned the Wind. Benaiah unhitched the ropes. with food and water. Solomon left the Tower and strode through the hallways of the palace. jagged and forbidding. And everyone climbed aboard. climbed a stairway. Joseph was sketch- ing a map.” said Solomon. Elihoreph stumbled along behind him. They loaded the provisions onto the carpet. They were flying over a vast stretch of desert. The waters of the Salt Sea glim- mered and were gone. follow me. We leave at once. A full moon hung over the city. The Mountains of Bashan loomed larger. The Judean hills passed beneath them. and emerged onto the roof. Elihoreph. Flapping in the breeze was the carpet. trying to light- en the mood. They passed through the throne room.  “All right. pale in the moon- light. Joseph. A gentle breeze was blowing. The landscape grew stark and barren. Beside him. he seemed to be brooding. Then the Mountains of Bashan. Tethered with ropes. the carpet circled once over Jeru- salem and headed east. Joseph and Benaiah arrived. Elihoreph kept looking anxiously over his shoulder. “I will take you to Luz. Imme- diately the breeze quickened—and the Wind was swirling about them. “Fly us to Luz. In their foothills was the faint glow of a city.” Borne aloft like a kite. “Good weather for flying. Elihoreph was praying. have Benaiah provision the carpet.” murmured Solomon. But they were alone in the sky. in the Mountains of Bashan.” “I am at your beck.” Donning his cape. “What can I do for you?” it asked. But the priest remained grim-faced.” said Solomon at last. appeared in the distance. Luz could be  .

as I carried off your fellow priest and continued on my rounds. It had been cut through with a tunnel and incorporated into the city wall. The Angel of Death approached them. back in that corridor. too. “That’s why I stared at you in such surprise. “You really had me puzzled. Via this tunnel one entered or departed Luz. if he’s due to be collected hundreds of miles away? It made no sense. The carpet passed over Luz.” said Joseph. gliding over rooftops. “The almond tree. The carpet was flying directly towards it. The gate of Luz? Apart from Luzites weary of life. A woman waved to them from a rooftop. sleek. wondering  . no portcullis. And he was about to rush forward. They peered down at the City of Immortality. “What a unique entrance- way. From the air Luz seemed an ordinary place—a warren of stone houses and narrow lanes. when a horse and rider emerged from the darkness.” said Solomon. And finally they were there. I was puzzled. in the priestly residence. Upon her sat the Angel of Death. For you too were on my list for the night—but scheduled to be picked up at the gate of Luz. As you scampered off. “Then I shall do so!” said Elihoreph.” said Benaiah. Lamps glowed in windows. “Does one sim- ply stroll right in?” “Apparently so. The horse was huge.      seen distinctly now: a walled city gleaming in the night. Before them rose an ancient tree. “At the appointed time I made my way here. Both seemed to glow with a spectral energy. I asked myself: How can this be? What’s the man doing here. then circled back and landed outside the city gate. The four men disembarked and stood gazing at the gate.” said Death. and black. by the address I had been given.” “No guard. He halted his horse in front of Elihoreph and peered down at the priest. Smoke rose from household altars. What was going on? Could the listing be incorrect? Such were my thoughts. no one gets collected there.

But as he listened. Our pre- mature encounter—the terror I inspired—your determin- ation to dodge me—the pity Solomon took upon you—the swiftness of his carpet: all conspired to your being here as scheduled. Elihoreph had stood frozen in fear. And so it has. Our rendezvous is now. Elihoreph. I cannot be dodged. the priest bowed his head in submission.” At the start of this speech. Come. a look of weariness came over him. And as the Angel of Death reached out.  if the matter would sort itself out.  .

and—from within the city—the faint strains of a flute. Thy death was scheduled ere thy birth. Then Benaiah fetched a shovel from the carpet and buried him.” They prayed over Elihoreph’s body. the Angel of Death galloped off into the night. All-knowing  above foreknew And did include it in the script That leads us duly to the crypt. But etched indelibly in stone: The date we must repay that loan. with its passage- way into the city. Then Solomon spoke: “Our lives are lent us for a space By ’s benevolence and grace. Benaiah.”  . Not even prayer avail us shall When that moment rings its knell. Then his body slipped to the ground. “And we are here. The three men gazed at the almond tree. The only sounds were the drone of crickets. as Death hoisted his soul onto the horse. “As long as we’re here?” “It would be interesting. Elihoreph appeared to double. With a cry of triumph. Avoid its reckoning on that date. Impose our will upon events (O most colossal impudence!)— “Any maneuvering that we do. and Joseph stood in stunned silence.      Death grasped his shoulder. Solomon. “Shall we visit Luz?” said Benaiah. “Not tearful pleas nor frantic flight Can save us debtors from our plight. “Accept thy tenure on this earth. “And should we seek to outfox fate.” said Joseph. like a misregistered image. It seemed to beckon them to enter.

“As a matter of fact.” said Yankel. And they headed home from the Mountains of Bashan.” said Joseph. Could you help me get this load of wood onto my back?” The Angel of Death eyed Yankel suspiciously. The Angel of Death was galloping towards him. coming to a halt beside Yankel and peering down at him coldly. then. Terror overcame him—and he changed his mind. “You’re a strong fellow. to have a “near-miss. hoofbeats sounded. you tried. “I sought to prevent his death.* * Death. And who knows? Without me to fly him to Luz —without my willingness to do so—perhaps he wouldn’t have been on that list in the first place. He got off his horse and hoisted the wood onto Yankel’s back. furthered its unfolding. “You felt sorry for the man and gave him a lift. “we have played our role in this affair. cannot be dodged—not even with the aid of King Solomon.  . Around a bend in the road came a horse and rider. he hastened off on his deliveries.  “Yes.” “Hey. Dust swirled as it lifted into the air. Come. “You called for me?” said Death. What were his days but a treadmill of toil and want? Enough! Yankel dropped his load of wood to the ground.” Con- sider the case of Yankel: A poor man named Yankel was trudging along the highway. “Thanks much. we’re here. though.” said Yankel. “But we shouldn’t be. It is possible. Daily he carried such a load. I did.” said Benaiah. a load of firewood on his back. An end to it. come!” Immediately.” He led his companions back to the carpet.” “Don’t blame yourself.” said Solomon. Yankel looked up at the hooded figure and began to quake. And in a bitter voice he cried out: “Death. And with a burst of energy.” “In any event.” said Solomon. That’s the whole of it. But on this day he grew weary—of the heavy burden on his back and of life itself. eking out a living by delivering wood to peasants. What was I thinking? Help someone to avoid the Angel of Death? It can’t be done. and instead.

” “Proceed then. perhaps.”  .” “With pleasure. if recognized for what they are.” “How long will it last?” “A minute or two. to demonstrate my powers of deception. and a bluish haze was settling over the palace and the city below. And if Jerusalem is a dream. “You know. Twilight transforms the city— lends it a dreamlike air. Might it not be unnerving? Or even dis- turbing?” “Illusions are harmless. But first you must remove your ring. I can tell the difference. They were seated at a small table on the roof of the palace. Dusk had arrived. Would you like a demonstration?” “I’m not sure. I could conjure up for you such an illusion. No longer. As a master of illusion. We jinn are skilled at decep- tion. Let me create one for you right now.” said Asmodeus with a laugh. too? Some sort of phantasms? Imaginary characters.” “What would that illusion be like?” “I can do different types. The huddled houses and surround- ing walls seem unreal. Now it’s true that some illusions may be mistaken for reality—so realistic are they. “I’ve always been struck by the quality of light at this hour.   Shlomo K       . what about its inhabitants? Are we illusory. in a work of fic- tion?” “My dear Solomon. and as king of the jinn. “I can assure you we are real. A convincing illusion. When the game was over.” he said. Solomon leaned back and looked at Jerusalem. my own powers are unsur- passed. You’ll be impressed. I promise. My favorite involves an impos- ture—a simulation of some actual person.

what an excellent sport. Let me have that crown. Tell me.” “Such is the power of illusion. Instead. no vacations for me. it was that of King Solomon.  “Why?” “It contains the Ineffable Name—the one thing that thwarts my powers. you cannot be wearing the ring. Asmodeus plucked the  . But only for a minute or two. Then he turned back to Solomon and smiled. in a voice that was also Solomon’s. He had changed. Listen. staring at him in amaze- ment. And they’re still arriving. “To pass myself off as King Solomon.” said Asmodeus. A dangerous power.” said Solomon. and he tapped on the chessboard. “How diverting it would be to take your place. in the wrong hands.” Solomon removed his ring and put it on the table. My duties keep me bound to the palace. you need a vacation—and are going to take one. “Behold my illusion.” Reaching across the chessboard. “Except for your turban. Asmodeus swiveled around and shook himself. A con- vincing imposture. It’s like looking into a mirror.” he said. That’s how long this illusion will last. For the illusion to work.” Solomon hesitated for a moment.” “Indeed. His face was no longer his own. to escape the rigors of your job. why not take a vacation and let me substitute for you?” “Alas. Then he said: “I shall take it off. you resemble me exactly. is it not? Unaware of my true identity.” “I would enjoy having such a harem. correct?” “You have my word. how many wives have you now?” “Nearly six hundred.” Now a thought seemed to occur to Asmodeus. “I have taken on your appearance. To rule over Israel! If I could be you for a while. would you not be fooled?” “I certainly would.” “Exactly why you need time off. My friend.

“Give me that back.” But Asmodeus was removing his turban.” He stood up and hurled the ring westward. I’m King Solomon. Goodbye. “Let’s start by getting rid of this. • It was daylight when he opened his eyes and found him- self in the haystack. he began to fol-  . superfluous one. And tossing it aside. Like a human cannonball. Solomon climbed out and looked about.” Asmodeus lifted him out of his seat and hurled Solomon in the opposite direction. King Solomon flew through the air. and lost consciousness. On the horizon was a range of moun- tains.” said Solomon. But Asmodeus snatched it away. He traveled hundreds of miles.” “And your promise—that the illusion would last only a minute or two?” “I’ve changed my mind.      crown from Solomon’s head. He reached for his ring. “What are you doing?” cried Solomon. Solomon staggered to a nearby road. I’m going to keep it for a while. “I have tossed it far away—into the sea. Dazed and disoriented.” said the jinni.” “Why? I like my new identity. That’s my prerogative. After all. Not far from him cows were grazing. my first act as king. “Where am I? To what distant land has Asmodeus flung me? And has he indeed taken my place? O that treacherous fellow!” As the cows watched. Stupefied by what had befallen him. “What have you done with my ring?” cried Solomon. “Lo. Enjoy your vacation. landed in a haystack. He was standing in a field. “Behold King Solomon of Israel!” he said. he donned the crown. “I think it’s time to end this illusion.” “We’ll see about that. And now I shall toss you.

they responded with derisive laughter or looks of pity. and the marketplace was bustling. the servant offered him a job— as scullion in the royal kitchen. Initially. Children trailed after him. A servant from the palace had stopped to buy vegetables. He had a bowl in front of him and was soliciting alms. the women in veils—circulated among the stalls. and a warren of mud-brick houses. By night he slept in barns or carts or hay- stacks. His clothes were soon tattered. For food he begged from door to door. Occasionally he thought about returning home. Solomon was convinced that he merited this fate—as punishment for his sins. But Jerusalem was far away. And a clamorous crowd— the men in tasseled caps. And adjoining the palace was a market- place. And even if he managed to get back. Seated on the ground by a vegetable stand was King Sol- omon. • Mashkemam was a city in Arabia. Merchants hawked their wares. Taking pity on the beggar.” But deeming him a madman. It was mid-afternoon.  low the road. a temple dedicated to Chemosh. unkempt. “It’s King Solomon!” they called out. his beard. A juggler tossed balls. And he became a wanderer. who would believe his story? Who would believe that this bedraggled beggar was King Solomon. Within its walls were a palace. taunting him and throwing stones. His face became haggard. A fortuneteller dispensed advice. Solomon shrugged and  . “Hail to His Majesty!” So he soon learned to conceal his identity. By day he trudged along dusty roads. and that an impostor occupied the throne? Moreover. So he continued to wander and to beg. he identified himself to people he met as “King Solomon of Israel.

It was not long before he was promoted to assistant cook. Such dis- obedience merited execution. But instead. Naamah would help organize it. and Shlomo distinguished himself as a scullion. Thus. These labors rekindled old habits of diligence. “You must be kidding. she approached the king and announced their desire to marry. scoured pots.” he said to his daughter. Naamah appreciated Shlomo’s keen observations. Where- upon. Asked his name.” “I am Solomon. and enjoyed conversing with him. There he was put to work.” And he followed the servant to the palace. And the two of them fell in love. he replied: “Shlomo. “This man’s a cook in my kitchen—a lowly laborer! He’s not suit- able for you. The king was outraged. Some wealthy monarch. she came into contact with Shlomo. he declared. The two had been left in the midst  .” blurted out Shlomo. He washed dishes. Accom- panied by Shlomo. chopped vegetables. The king glared at him. the king ordered that the lovers be taken into the desert and abandoned there. which shone through the humble exterior. And she was struck by his refined speech and eru- dition—and by his noble character. Her name was Naamah.” But Naamah was defiant. “Let them deal with the rigors of a desert. Now the king of Mashkemam had a daughter. kindhearted.      accepted. she insisted—with or without her father’s blessing. They may find it less merciful than I!” • Shlomo and Naamah watched as the soldiers disap- peared over the horizon. Whenever a feast was held in the palace. “They would defy the wishes of a king?” he said. I want you to marry a king. She was going to marry Shlomo. the king grew furious and disowned her. and intel- ligent. and she was beautiful. like Tiglath of Assyria or Solomon of Israel. So Naamah arranged an audience with her father. “Lowly—and loony too. stirred the contents of cauldrons.

When he learned I was literate. for a scribe.” “No. Daybreak found them asleep in one another’s arms. “And you and I? Shall we continue on with it?” “We could stay here.” said Naamah. and discussing their future. They were awoken by the braying of camels.” said Naamah. “But what would we do? How would we survive?” “As a matter of fact. Shlomo and Naamah were murmuring prayers.” said Naamah. Over- looking the harbor was an esplanade. Finally they decided to pray to their respective deities. he offered it to me. “Surely He will come to our aid. It’s peaceful and picturesque.” said Shlomo. a caravan was passing by. To their astonishment. oblivious to the desert that surrounded them. The sun was setting. lined with palm trees and furnished with benches.” said Shlomo.” They debated the matter.  of the desert. So as night fell. They decided finally that  Most High and Chemosh had cooperated in their rescue. “I like this town.” “Really?” “I was chatting with an official from the custom house. They jumped to their feet and ran towards it. admiring the view. let us pray to Chemosh. I’ve had a job offer. waving and shouting. And they were soon bouncing along on a camel—and debating whose prayers had been answered. “In the morning the caravan moves on. “The soldiers have abandoned us here. On a bench sat Shlomo and Naamah. with a meager supply of food and water. It seems there’s a position open.” “Let us pray to  Most High.”  . • Mirfa was a seaport on the east coast of Arabia. They were eating sherbet. Its har- bor was filled with fishing boats and cargo ships. “We are doomed.” “My sentiments as well.

These tasks were time-consuming and tiresome. Naamah was unpacking groceries. “But surely you’re going to try?” said Naamah. “I had wealth and power. Everything had its downside. the bobbing boats. hundreds of wives.” She put down the groceries and stared at him. Shlomo—garbed in a Mirfan gown and tasseled cap—was stretched out on the couch. As king I had to make policy decisions—administer justice—read reports. In the corridors I was always passing people I didn’t know. A truly regal life-style.” said Solomon. And he explained that regaining his throne would not be a simple matter.” “What would that be?” “Do you recall that morning when we met with your father? And he expressed his wish that you marry someone like King Solomon? And I said that I was Solomon?” “How could I forget that? Of all the foolish things to say! How could you be so flippant at such a moment?” “I wasn’t being flippant. And Shlomo told her the entire story. Take the palace. • The curtains of their cottage billowed in the sea breeze.      They looked out over the blue waters. “Let me tell you something. the sea gulls—and decided to stay. He described the treachery of Asmodeus—how the jinni had flung him to Arabia and taken his place. I had discharged my prime obligation to   . It was a huge. He told of his wandering as a beggar. Or take my wives…please! They quarreled among themselves and vied for my attention. reading a scroll. for instance. And frankly. He lowered the scroll and said: “There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you. a palatial residence. I am King Solomon. impersonal place. My official duties also became burden- some.” “Excuse me?” “I am King Solomon. it was all growing bur- densome.

and everything thereafter seemed anticlimactic. I lead a simple and satisfying life. your people. This is where I belong. It included a household shrine. and a few local ones as well.” “And your former life—your kingdom. your responsibilities? You’re just going to let them go?” “Those years as king are like a dream now—a fading memory.” • So they settled into their new life. Shlomo learned carpentry and added a wing to the cottage. And they made friends among their neighbors—though never men- tioning their royal origins. downed his gruel. and where I’m going to stay. When Naamah asked if the priests in  . how much longer would I occupy that throne? Like any kingdom.  —the building of the Temple. I have a job that is interesting—daily conversations with sailors from around the world—and that pays enough to let me buy scrolls. But they raised their daughters to honor both deities. I began to feel like someone with a routine job. The shrine was dedicated to a number of gods. “But look at me now. I have a loving wife—just one! I have a cozy cottage with a view of the harbor. Israel had its internal rival- ries and intrigues. consigned to so-called exile. As I got up each morning and trudged to the throne. and walked to his job at the custom house. The years passed. To accommodate his growing family. Shlomo prayed to  Most High. And there’s no one trying to take it away from me! So why should I want to regain my throne? The rich and powerful Solomon? I’d rather be Shlomo. All of which I had to deal with and worry about. while Naamah called on Chemosh. and the walls of their cottage were soon filled with seascapes and still lifes. Shlomo rose in the morning. Naamah did the marketing and cooking. Moreover. She also took up painting. And three daughters were born to the couple. Israel is a faraway land.

The priests allowed them to worship freely. “Now there’s a case. the two men chatted. trav- eled inland. “Solomon?” said the captain with a chuckle. dash off a decree. “On occasion. who fawn on him—refill his goblet— whisper jokes in his ear.” And he sighed deeply—for all that he had left behind in Jerusalem. I visited the palace and got to see him in action—lounging on his throne. King Solomon presides over a never-ending party. In one instance that I heard about. and visited Jerusalem. “ Most High is everywhere. make a wry comment about it. And the Temple was a wonder to behold. He’ll read a report. to join in the merrymaking. When the cargo had been inspected and certified. He is constantly surrounded by scantily-clad women. • Shlomo climbed the gangway and boarded the ship. two women appeared before  . Shlomo asked him about King Solomon. And King Solomon has welcomed them.” “Do you miss the Temple?” Shlomo shrugged. who welcomed him with a handshake and gave him a tour of the ship. during which he had rented a donkey. The fellow is unbelievable! He leads a life of utter indulgence. it was bound for Persia with a load of cedar wood. He was greeted by the captain. and return to his pleasures. Sometimes he’ll listen to a lawsuit—and deliver an absurd judgment. Throughout the palace there’s music and drinking and licentiousness—a veritable bacchanal! Every ne’er-do-well in the land has gravitated to the court. A Phoenician freighter. night and day. And the man goes about in pajamas. he turns his attention to matters of state.      Jerusalem would have tolerated such a shrine. The captain mentioned a stopover for repairs in Jaffa. Shlomo replied: “Those wives of mine brought with them the gods of their native lands. Though He was especially present in the Holy of Holies. since they were foreigners.

‘It’s completely free. He had it widely disseminated. Unaccountably. he had been known for his wisdom. there’s a government-sponsored program called ‘Ale for All.’ “I asked people their opinion of King Solomon.’ Borak boasts. Previously. being cute and cuddly. The book had a clear  . they told me.’ “Can you imagine this man as chief magistrate of a coun- try? And worse yet as its ruler? To be sure. though just barely. Each claimed to be its mother. For example.’ You can simply walk into any tavern and drink your fill. When neither woman was able to produce one. for day-to-day governance he relies on a vizier. as the child may—no lack of respect or filial ingratitude. Each award has its advantages. for its part. And they just shook their heads. Borak is a popular vizier—on account of the giveaways that he has initiated. ‘just like in the Garden of Eden. And he had once been extremely pious. Congratulations. It was titled Ecclesiastes: A Treatise for the Edification of My Subjects. and even peddled it him- self in the marketplace. I was told. The child. The birth certificate. Yet for all his shortcomings. ladies. Thereafter.  him with a bawling infant. King Solomon listened to their testimony. he nodded sagely and said: ‘I have an equi- table solution to this dispute. Then he asked to see the birth certificate. his character had undergone an abrupt change. And it’s an official document. “This new outlook was evident in a book that he wrote. Then give the child to one woman and the birth certificate to the other. He was like a different person. his diplomatic gaffs had brought Israel to the brink of war. will serve as an object of maternal affection. will require no effort or expense. his whole attitude—even his facial expres- sion—had changed. About ten years ago. it was for his wisecracks. Several times. Nor will it ever dis- appoint. But whom did he appoint to the post? A bumpkin named Borak—a former man- servant! This Borak manages to keep the kingdom afloat. Let a birth certificate be drawn up for the child. Now he made remarks that bordered on blasphemy.

if you wish. Another is that it was written during the Hellenistic era. tone. You can borrow it. The explanation offered here—that its author was Asmodeus. Yet its rationalism—its irreligious sentiments— its seeming despair—are hard to reconcile with his celebrated piety and building of the Temple.” “Yes. Finally he rose and joined Naamah in the kitchen.’ insisted King Solomon. The three girls were playing out in the yard. Various explanations have been offered for this discongruity.” The captain leaned forward and peered at Shlomo. And he has * Traditionally. and began to read. after his foreign wives had turned his heart away from .  . If true. and be merry. “Appalling.’ I have a copy in my cabin. masquerading as Solomon—is intriguing. But wait here—I’ll get you the book. “You know that jinni—Asmodeus—whom I told you about? Who has been impersonating me and occupying the throne? Today I heard a report about him. “You bear a resemblance to King Solomon. One is that Solomon wrote the book in his later years. You look just like the man. and may resolve the question. opened the book. drink. She was frying a fish. Computer analysis of the text—its diction. “You know something?” he said. ‘Therefore.—is currently being conducted. He has been behaving abominably and blackening my name. the Book of Ecclesiastes has been attributed to King Solomon. etc.”* • When Shlomo returned home. eat. When he had finished the book. under the influence of Greek philosophy.      message—that life is transitory and therefore should be given over to pleasure. all is vanity. I would like to read it. the book would be the sole known literary work of a jinni. linguistic peculiarities. Shlomo lay on the couch and brooded. He plopped down on the couch.” he murmured. ‘Vanity of vanities. Naamah was cooking dinner in the kitchen.

“When I was preparing the fish. I wonder—is it too late now? Or can I still return to Jerusalem and expose that fake? Tell me.” he said. we’re staying in Mirfa. How could I have allowed this to happen?” “You had no choice.” “Sure I did. I believe? Would you be reclaiming them as well?” “Asmodeus can keep them. It was one of a kind. Ten years ago!” “Are you sure?” “Absolutely.  . It might have been futile. Naamah emerged from the kitchen. He stared at it incredulously.  published—under my name—a scandalous work. And he came to a decision. Can you imagine? It must have been swallowed by the fish. And she announced that dinner would be ready soon.” “Good. with something in her hand. He was bantering and laughing with them. but I should have tried. how would you feel about living there? As the wife of King Solomon?” “And those other wives of yours? Several hundred. Singing and cavorting. they passed through the kitchen. “The one that Asmodeus tossed into the sea. Shlomo listened as they played in the front room.” She handed Shlomo a ring. One that scoffs at religion and advocates a hedonistic life-style. “My life is here— a new life that I vastly prefer to the old. I could have gone back and sought to reclaim my throne.” He held it up to the light. • Shlomo and his daughters were finishing dessert.” she said. “That’s my ring.” Just then his daughters came prancing into the house. “I found this inside. “No.” he said. What a fluke of for- tune. turning over the fish. Israel will have to make do with an impostor.” said Naamah. And tentatively—as if to see if it still fit—he slipped the ring onto his finger.

What’s the matter?” “I was with my family. “What have you done?” “Why. for some reason. I’ve been gone for years. “I see what must have happened. you imagined an entire life for yourself. A mirror of your features.” said Asmodeus. Across from him was Asmodeus. nothing. was it not? I was the very image of you. Royal attire had replaced the Mirfan gown. And he found himself seated at a small table with a chess- board on it.” “How did I get here?” cried Solomon. You created your own illusion. O my goodness!” Solomon looked down at his clothing. I’ve been living in Arabia. the room—everything dissolved and disappeared. And suddenly I’m with you again. after so many years?” “What are you talking about. And I neither flung you to a distant land nor took your place. Naamah. Solomon?” “Ten years ago you got me to remove my ring. “So. “O my goodness. the dining table. But I don’t wish to be back. Then you assumed my appearance. “you had enough of my illusion. flung me to a distant land. You experienced my illusion —and went beyond it. I found a new life there. I was in my house. He reached up to touch his cap  . year after year. They were sit- ting on the roof of the palace. staring at him in dis- belief. As we sat here. you scoundrel. “But it’s only been a few minutes since you removed the ring. And experienced it as reality—day by day. Now you’ve brought me back. and took my place on the throne.” Asmodeus slapped himself.” “Ten years ago?” said Asmodeus with a look of puzzle- ment. By what sorcery did you bring me here? And why. “Don’t be ridiculous. if not your virtues. All I did was to take on your appearance—an illusion that you have dispelled by putting the ring back on. Believe me. the scene about him began to fade.      Instantly.” “A few minutes?” said Solomon. such was not my intention. But it was convincing. the girls.” he said. I had no idea.

who created that illusion. But in the end.” He pronounced a name and clicked his fingers. he had begun to shake and to moan. Asmodeus was looking remorseful.” But Solomon was not listening. “What did I inadver- tently bring about?” he said. “One’s life shall come to an abrupt end. it was you. You chose to return to reality and to your duties as king. And look at the plus side of what happened. One’s toil and trouble shall have been in vain. That’s why one must live for the moment. One’s achievements shall be forgotten. As if taken by a fever. Everything that was precious to me. this is Potah.  —and felt a crown. “He’s the jinni of forgetfulness. And King Solomon howled. He let out a primal cry that resounded from the rooftops and echoed from the hills. that it never was?” “Alas.”  . not I. And he moaned. You’ve added ten years to your life! Illusory years—yet they seem to have been profoundly satisfying. knocking over the table and scattering the chess pieces. After all. “You mean it was all a dream? My wife and daughters were mere phantasms? And those years in Arabia were an elaborate fantasy? A fabrication of my mind? You’re saying that my family is gone now—indeed. you rejected it. shadowy in the twilight. A blue jinni appeared with a pop. Although real desires must have inspired it. He wobbled to his feet.” said Asmodeus. like a bubble that burst. He looked out at the rooftops of Jeru- salem. “Solomon. Just give the word and he’ll erase those memories. “I feel terrible.” “This world too is a bubble that bursts. Then he fell to his knees and sobbed. You reached out and retrieved your ring. How can I make amends? I know.” said Asmodeus. You’ll have no remembrance of those imagined years in Arabia—and thus no sense of loss.” said Asmodeus. Surely it arose from the depths of your soul—from your deepest needs.” “But it’s all gone. “your life in Arabia was not real. There’s nothing left but memo- ries.

kneeling and weeping atop his palace. with a shrug of helplessness.” whispered Solomon. Then. And Solomon was left alone.      “Leave me be.  . Asmodeus too disappeared with a pop. Asmodeus clicked his fingers and Potah vanished.

And pushing his way past the guards. than your downward slide began. “How so?” said Solomon. “And so pagan sanctuaries were allowed to flourish. we were told. Ahijah of Shiloh burst into the throne room. So we looked the other way and said nothing. “But the number of foreign wives soared—another viola- tion of law. Shrine after shrine was dedi- cated—until the hills abounded with abominations. With open idolatry! And this too. In violation of the law of Moses. and I shall tell. pounding his staff. “No sooner had you become king. Members of the court drew back as he passed. So again we looked the other way. “Bad enough—but it gets worse.” said Ahijah. Wild-eyed and unkempt. was excusable. For these foreign wives were allowed to bring their gods with them. whilst ignoring  Most High. “Listen. when a commotion sounded from the entranceway. taken aback. it was explained. the prophet approached the throne.  new vizier. These marriages. Solomon!” he cried. you began to acquire foreign wives.   Ahijah K      . “And your sins have grown increasingly egregious!” A murmur of apprehension rose from the court. To go on wor- shiping Milcom and Baal and Chemosh! You allowed them to bow unto idols. And you built shrines for those idols. Daily offerings were made to Baal and the others—within sight of the holy Temple! And all this with the approval  . For the beliefs of your foreign wives had to be tolerated. “You are a sinner. For is it not writ that a king shall multiply to himself neither wives nor horses nor gold? But again we were told that diplomatic ends were being served. were necessary—thrust upon you by the demands of geopolitics —and therefore excusable.

call it by its true name—back-  . I have put restrictions on those practices. many of them have. their characters interest me.” During this speech. At the same time. What a bunch of baloney! Toleration? Nay. If so. I want to learn about their gods and rituals and beliefs. “Indeed I have been—that’s no secret. But meanwhile.” said the prophet. Need I point out that infant sacrifice and ritual prostitution have been forbidden? Or that the adorn- ment of altars is strictly regulated? Or that idols may not be paraded in public? “I believe that my conduct in this regard has been blame- less. As such. who am I to deprive them of ritual—of prayer—of communion with the divine? Or to forcibly convert them? So I have allowed them to keep their idols and to continue their reli- gious practices. “But they deceive no one. And that no longer do you merely tolerate idols—you now bow unto them. it would seem. To be sure. “As for allowing my wives to retain their native faiths. Perhaps I have failed to avoid the appearance of impro- priety.      of ‘pious’ King Solomon. those gods have been superseded by  Most High. So I have been frequenting them. Yet they are still a manifestation of the divine. Ahijah had been glowering at Solomon. But I do not worship at these shrines. and the rest?” he said. Is this true? Have your foreign wives turned your heart from ? Speak and defend yourself !” Solomon sank back in the throne and sighed. For I have been studying the religions of my wives. What draws me to them is a desire for knowledge. I hear that you’ve become a regular visitor to these shrines. I hope that any misperceptions have now been dispelled. has now reached new depths. Now he pounded his staff. I enjoy the exotic music at these shrines. “Have I been visiting the shrines of Milcom. “But your iniquity. “Smooth words. Moreover. So do the reli- gious practices and cosmologies associated with them. how could I not? My hope is that they’ll discover  Most High—as indeed. For a rumor has reached me in my cave. Chemosh.

Into twelve pieces have I rent my  . When he had finished. untied his belt. see what I have done. But He will not do this thing now—rather. How exactly? Hear me as I prophesy. The facts are plain. “The man puts on a show.” Ahijah lay down his staff. during the reign of your son. and removed his robe. clad only in a loincloth. You have allowed idol worship to flourish. Then. he began to tear the robe into pieces. Ahijah held up the torn pieces. Symbol- ically. “It will come to pass that your kingdom will be torn asun- der. Let me show you the future of your kingdom. “Lo. For the Lord chastises those who forsake Him.  sliding. And you have joined in that worship! For this apostasy you shall pay dearly.” murmured Solomon.

only two will remain loyal to the House of David. Consider  . With few exceptions. “Ahimaaz.” said Ahimaaz. to the man who receives the rest of my robe. and not the slander. “Those represent the tribes of Judah and Simeon.* * Solomon’s worst fears would be realized. And it will find its way into books.” said Solomon.” “Good.” “Your words will be preserved in my chronicle. Yet the Lord will preserve it—for the sake of His servant David—and will include within it the holy city of Jerusalem. For I can guess what is about to happen. If I don’t counter it. Solomon went over to Ahi- maaz. Two of them are for you. The others will transfer their alle- giance. Finally. They landed at his feet. shaken by his encounter with the prophet. In short. he signaled dismissal of the court. Hope- fully.” “Let’s hope so. Ahijah’s accusation will be repeated throughout the kingdom.” Clutching the remaining pieces of robe. “you have record- ed that exchange? In particular. “For of the twelve tribes.” said Ahijah. As everyone was filing out. From Dan to Beersheba it will be whispered that Solomon bows unto idols—that he worships the gods of his wives! And this falsehood—uttered by a prophet—will be believed and gleefully circulated. Solomon sat speechless. I want my explanation to be preserved for pos- terity. the historical record has portrayed him as an apostate. “It will be duly entered in the chronicle. But he did not sound optimistic. Ahijah stalked angrily out of the hall.” said Solomon in a low voice. will be acknowledged by posterity.” The prophet hurled two pieces at Solomon. the truth.      garment. history will view me as an apostate. It will be repeated for generations to come. your kingdom will be much reduced. my reasons for visiting the shrines?” “I’ve got it all in shorthand. The chronicler was still writing at his table.

when Solo- mon was old. which forbade Jews to marry any but those that were of their own people. and went not fully after the Lord. as was the heart of David his father. not only of acquiescence. The polytheistic worship intro- duced by his foreign wives into Jerusalem and his faint and ineffectual opposition to their request that their gods should be  . and Hittites…. and had exceeded in wisdom and riches those that had been rulers of the Hebrews before him. he neglected the institutions of his own nation. Solomon “lent to idolatry the sanction not only of tolerance. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians. Ammonites. but of direct participation in the most revolting forms of superstition. yet he did not persevere in this happy state for his entire life…. Farrar (author of Solomon: His Life and Times) describes him as having become “a shameless polytheist”—a king “whose heart was perverted and his will enervated by luxury and pride.” ( Kings. Edom- ites.There came therefore a prophet to him.And it came to pass. :) F. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord. and continued to regard the gods that his marriages had intro- duced…. who was sent by . and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. that his wives turned away his heart after other gods. and told him that his wicked actions were not concealed from . He also began to worship their gods. and in the prayer attributed to him expressed some of the loftiest sentiments of a man thor- oughly zealous in his worship of Israel’s .” Scandalously. women of the Moabites. Zidonians. and his reason become weakened by length of time. though he built the Temple. and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his . including the daughter of Pharaoh.W. :–) A similar portrayal is found in Josephus: “But although Solomon was become the most glorious of kings and the best beloved by . as did David his father. So that more and more he contemned his own .” (Antiquities.” The Jewish Encyclopedia laments: “But. and out of his affec- tion for them…. and Ammonites. which he did in order to gratify his wives.And as he grew into years. his career did not fulfill his early religious resolves. and Edomites.He married many wives out of foreign nations: Sidonians. and Tyr- ians. viii. and he transgressed the laws of Moses.  this passage from the Book of Kings: “But King Solomon loved many foreign women.

 . fell To idols foul.His wives turned away his heart to walk after other gods.” And the poet Milton states the case in a nutshell: “Uxorious king. but he did not go…. f. :) And there is Ahimaaz. but did not build it.He intended to build a high place for Chemosh. until he lost his hold on the people as well as on his own faith. who splits the following hairs: “Whoever says that Solomon sinned is decidedly wrong….      shown respect led to his moral and religious deterioration. His chronicle—written purportedly dur- ing the lifetime—acquits King Solomon of any impiety. Among them is a commentator in the Talmud. whose heart though large.” (Shabbath.” Yet Solomon is not without his defenders. Beguiled by fair idolatresses.

The twin pillars have acquired cracks.” The mysterious priest gestured toward a chair.   Glimpses of the Future K         Cave of the Ages. prior to construction of the Temple. But you have built something of historical import. “I understand that a record number of worshipers came to the Temple last week. “Come in. behold!” he said.” he said. “That is to say. I have some pictures for you to view. “Yes. The exterior walls have lost their sheen. But for how long will this sanctuary endure? For how many years will it stand?” “The Temple’s fate is in ’s hands. Like a lonely monument. And a problem for you to solve. the holy shrine has begun to show its age.” said Melchizedek. Solomon. This next picture shows the mount two centuries hence. “You wished to see me?” he said. “Here’s the mount as it is today—crowned with ’s House. A high place with a rock of power. “This first picture shows Mount Moriah twenty years ago.” said Melchizedek. The bronze altar is encrusted with soot and no longer glints in the  . Aren’t you curious as to what the future holds for it? Of course you are. So let’s take a look.” Melchizedek clicked his remote and the giant screen lit up. The Temple still rises majestically from the summit.” “To be sure. have a seat. “But now let’s move into the future. Of course. What an awe-inspiring sight! You may be proud of your achieve- ment. Please. the Sacred Rock is sil- houetted against the sky. Solomon entered the cavern and sat down. His crown glinted in the flicker- ing torchlight. clicking the remote. “And then. “It’s hard to imagine Jerusalem without the Temple.

Therefore hath the Lord brought upon them this evil. king of Babylon. and have taken hold upon other gods. “You are viewing the ruins of the Temple.” Onto the screen came a scene of desolation. Like the phoenix—the mystic bird that is reborn from its ashes—a new Temple has risen from the ruins.” said Mel- chizedek. and will not keep My commandments and statutes which I have set before you. which I have hallowed for My name.’ as your architect billed it. In it  warned him: “But if you shall turn from following Me. the replacement is a modest structure. ’s people had turned from Him. Gone is the * Solomon may not have been totally surprised to learn of its destruction. According to the Book of Kings. “And at this House. Cyrus of Persia. “For ’s House has been plundered and razed. Solomon let out a gasp. Time has taken a toll on this ‘temple for the ages.* “Take a look. and shall whistle. Because they forsook the Lord their . All that remained were toppled stones. however. Behold the Second Temple! Under the auspices of their next conqueror. you or your children. and rem- nants of walls. at this next picture. Gone was the sanctuary on the mount. upon the comple- tion of the Temple he had a dream. the Israelites have rebuilt their sanctuary. which shall be in ruins. who had conquered Jerusalem. who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt. In any case. An infamous deed! It was ordered by Nebuchadnezzar. and such was their punishment. shall everyone that passes by it be appalled. And it left the Israelites without a sanctuary or central altar. “Brace yourself now for the next picture. and this House. And they shall say.      sun. Weeds grew in profusion. Why hath the Lord done thus unto this land and to this House? And they shall answer.” ( Kings :–)  . the Temple has been destroyed. Are you ready? Here’s Mount Moriah four centuries hence. Admit- tedly. Why was this disaster allowed to happen? In the view of prophets of the time. and have worshiped them and served them. will I cast out of My sight…. charred beams. but go and serve other gods and worship them— then will I cut off Israel from the land which I have given them.

“But many of the priests and Levites and elders were ancient men. because the foundation of the House of the Lord was laid. and the Levites sons of Asaph with cymbals. who had seen the first House. the preci- sion of design. A few centuries later.* “But conquerors come and go. Fortunately. who had had a falling-out with their compatriots in Jeru- salem.” (Ezra :–)  . this oppression was short-lived. chief god of the Greeks! The priests were compelled to sacrifice to Zeus. Around this time there arose a rival temple—dedicated to  but located on Mount Gerizim. And to sacrifice pigs. the skilled bronze work. The sacrifices have resumed. But do you see that statue beside the altar? It’s Zeus. The temple was in * The groundbreaking for the Second Temple was an emotion- al event. It was built by the Samaritans. Alexander the Great—a Macedonian Greek—routed the Persians and added Jerusalem to his empire. and many shouted aloud for joy. and the people shouted with a loud shout. And all the people shouted with a great shout. praising and thanking the Lord. they wept with a loud voice. So that the noise of the shouts of joy could not be discerned from the noise of the weeping. “Behold. the Temple still stands. Israel has its Temple back. No cedar wood or gold adorns the inner walls.And they sang together. The pæans to  Most High once again rise heavenward. And the noise was heard afar off. Here’s a picture. to praise the Lord…. And one of his successors was responsible for an abomination. As seen in this next picture. “Now a sidelight to our history of the mount.     monumental masonry. The Book of Ezra reports: “And when the builders laid the foundation of the Temple of the Lord. This is a low-cost project—a ‘budget sanctuary. and His mercy toward Israel endureth forever. and the altar was reconsecrated to . for He is good. rather than to  Most High. as they praised the Lord. And the Divine Presence has returned to the mount. they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets. and when the foundation of this House was laid before their eyes.’ Still. Notice the stairway leading up the mountain—worship with a workout.

when they were at a distance. Take a look at this picture of it. like a snow-topped mountain.* “As Judea prospered. Footing the bill was Herod the Great—so-called for the great sums he lav- ished on fortresses. But this Temple appeared to strangers. The rival temples bring to mind a joke—about the Jew strand- ed on a desert island. Around three hundred of them still live on Mount Gerizim (and a few hundred more in a suburb of Tel Aviv). a thousand priests—trained as masons—and  ordinary laborers toiled for many years. by the way. The new shrine became known to history as Herod’s Temple—just as the original. So the Second Temple was completely rebuilt. :)  .’ a rabbi would declare. Why two? he was asked. v. became known as Solomon’s Temple. ‘He who has not set eyes upon the Temple of Herod. ‘has not seen a beautiful building in his life. and other public works. he was found to have constructed two synagogues. they were exceedingly white. Impressive. For it was cov- ered all over with plates of gold of great weight. The Jew pointed to one and said: “See that shul [synagogue]? That’s the one I go to. the towering sanctuary. And see the one over there? That’s the one I refuse to go to!” † Josephus gives us a sense of its beauty: “Now the outward face of the Temple in its front lacked noth- ing to surprise either men’s minds or their eyes. before its destruction. it reflected back a fiery splendour. just as they would have done at the sun’s own rays.” (Wars of the Jews. and at the first rising of the sun. yet could scarcely contain the * The Samaritans have survived into the present day. the porticoes and colonnades. Note the enlarged platform.      active use for several centuries. When finally rescued. Instead.’† “No jinn were employed in its construction. for as to those parts of it as were not gilt. The courtyard was immense. Something more magnificent was needed. and made those who forced themselves to look upon it to turn their eyes away. is it not? A wonder of the age—monumental—equal to any- thing in the Græco-Roman world. hippodromes. theaters. Though lacking a tem- ple. its sanctuary was deemed to be inadequate. they have kept alive an ancient rite: the sacrifice of a lamb on Passover.

And Akiba asked his companions why they wept. Look at the main gate.     pilgrims who crowded into it on holidays. Rabbi Akiba and his fellow sages were viewing the ruins. And that His people will again live joyfully in the Holy City. war broke out between the Jews and their overlords. to allow an unimpeded bowing of heads. On the mount. The * Months after the destruction. “that the sanctuary is wasted—the place where Israel atoned for its sins!” “My son. And this. as oppressors. the courtyard was said to expand miraculously.” said Yohanan. “Because we have been assured—by the prophet Zechariah—that  will return to His Holy Mountain.’” And years later. Herod’s Temple was fatally flawed. Alas for the mount! It has been left in a ruinous state. The sages began to weep—except for Akiba. Rabbi Yohanan and his disciple Yoshi visited the ruins of Herod’s Temple. “Because.” “Then let me tell you why I laughed. The result was unprecedented death and suffering. who laughed.” said Akiba.” said Yoshi. now dwells a fox. And again a scene of desolation filled the screen. And what is that? Acts of loving-kindness. “The eagle was seen as a bird of prey. “Woe to us. only a retaining wall has been left standing. Suddenly a fox emerged from the remains of the Holy of Holies.” one of them replied. Attached to it is a golden eagle—the insignia of imperial Rome! For Herod was a puppet of the Romans—a vassal who ordered that sacrifices be offered to the Emperor. Along with much of the city. “Yet for all its glory. Indeed. As it is said: ‘For I desire mercy and not sacrifice. it has been reduced to rubble. the Romans. “We have another means of atonement that will be just as effective.” Melchizedek clicked to the next picture.”  . be not aggrieved. “Herod’s Temple has been destroyed. “where only the High Priest could enter. Finally.* “Several centuries pass—bringing us to this next picture. or water organ—a musical instrument so loud it could be heard as far away as Jericho. And the Temple had a magrefa.

rend their garments. alas. It is being used as a dump. And it had physically replaced a temple to Aphrodite. and so depart. The Anastasis overlooked the ruins of the Temple. Here and there a charred pillar has remained upright.  . except once a year: on the Ninth of Ab—the anniversary of the Temple’s destruction —they were allowed to visit the ruins on the mount and pray. Jesus’ death was a divine sacrifice that brought salvation to mankind. That church was itself destroyed in the eleventh century by Hakim the Mad. The holy mount has been further desecrated. The present-day Church of the Holy Sepulcher was built by Crusaders.” Melchizedek shook his head—as if unable to credit the base ways of man—and moved on to the next picture. which it was meant to supersede. “Now this picture requires an explanation. the Anastasis is a Christian church. What is Christianity? We can’t get into that now. to which the Jews come every year and anoint it.* “More centuries pass. it repre- sented the ascendancy of Christianity over both Judaism and paganism.” He clicked the remote. Jews were forbidden access. This domed building is located not far from the mount. † Destroyed by Persian invaders in the seventh century. Are you following any of this?† * In the fourth century the Bordeaux Pilgrim (a Christian trav- eler whose name is unknown) visited the mount. And take a look at this picture. a pierced rock. bewail themselves with groans. And amidst the ruins has been placed the statue of a Roman emperor—his stern eye fixed upon the wages of rebellion.’ Built by Emperor Constantine. or ‘Resurrec- tion. on the site of this church. The sacred site is desolate. and that for Christians. which can be seen on the right.” he reports. an execution took place—of Jesus of Nazareth. if you can. That retaining wall has started to crumble. “Two statues of Hadrian stand there. Thus. Suffice it to say that. “and not far from them.      Sacred Rock is barely discernible amidst rubble. “Behold. the Anastasis was rebuilt as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.” By this time the Romans had rebuilt the city and renamed it Ælia Capitolina. It is called the Anastasis.

a simple wooden structure—a house of prayer—has been built. and of Muhammad’s ascension to heaven. It was commissioned by Abd-al-Malik. One of the most exquisite of all time! Feast your eyes upon an architectural gem. and oftentimes. Omar set out to restore the sanctity of the mount.” Melchizedek clicked the remote. he ate his bread without salt. who succeeded Omar as caliph. He had it cleared. The Sacred Rock has been uncov- ered. His palace was built of mud. our journey through time continues. the Dome of the Rock is a masterpiece. the Sacred Rock (according to es-Siyuti’s History of the Temple of Jerusalem) spoke to him and welcomed him to the mount. waited until three rains had cleansed it. by way of abstinence. That religion was Islam. and another domed building filled the screen. when he left Medina to go to the conquest of Jerusalem. his sauce was salt. he rode on a red camel with a wooden platter hanging at its saddle. Ponder this next picture. Who was responsible for this turn of events? Omar ibn al-Khattib.’ Absolutely. But the same may be said of the building you’re about to see. His drink was water. The work of Byzantine architects and craftsmen. the Dome of the Rock. then anointed it with incense and built a house of prayer. It was the beginning of a new era for Mount Moriah. His army had taken Jerusalem. Appalled to find it being used as a dump. Islam revered the mount—as the site of the Temple.     “In any case. one holding barley and the other dried fruit.’ Founded by the prophet Muhammad. The mount has been cleared of both rubbish and rubble.  .* “Now the rabbi said: ‘He who has not set eyes upon the Temple of Herod has not seen a beautiful building in his life. or ‘submission. Ralph Waldo Emerson describes him thus: “His diet was barley bread. under the banner of a new religion.” Upon Omar’s arrival in Jerusalem. of the Sacred Rock. Its golden dome dazzles the eye. Just south of it. Its walls * Despite his position as caliph. with a bottle of water and two sacks. a conqueror from Arabia. Omar led a humble existence. “Behold.

Proud to have sponsored such a work. too.  . the Dome’s interior is lit by sunlight from the lunettes. when Emperor Justinian completed the Hagia Sophia—the monumental church in Constantinople—he said: “Glory be to  who has thought me worthy to accomplish so great a work. the Romans left it standing. the Rock is surrounded by screens and ringed with marble columns. This magnificent shrine was its new home. pro- claimed the adherents of Islam. At night. They wept and prayed. And see how the Sacred Rock emerges from the floor—an eruption of stone! Centerpiece of the shrine.† “Now here’s the Dome of the Rock a few hundred years * Similarly. as the sole remnant of the Temple.      form a perfect octagon. Abd-al-Malik declared upon its completion: ‘Behold. I have vanquished thee!” † Heaven. O Solomon. For some reason. One of those walls survived. Allowed now to reside in the city. rich carpeting. however. Herod’s engi- neers had built retaining walls. a man greater than Solomon is here!’* “So the Divine Presence had returned to the mount. “Here’s a view of the interior. “In order to enlarge the Temple platform. For the Jews. Incense is frequently burning— hence the otherworldly haze. And they begged  to restore the Temple. was said to weep at night for the lost Temple.” Onto the screen came the picture of a ruin—a massive wall. they gathered here to bask in the Divine Presence. intricate decoration. They insisted that. it had lingered on the mount. the Divine Presence had never left. “The Dome of the Rock was meant to replace the Temple —and to outdo it in splendor. The morning dew that clung to the wall was its tears. Where exactly had it lingered? Here. Note the elegant propor- tions. half-buried in rubble. hun- dreds of lamps are kindled.” Melchizedek clicked to the next picture. And they are sheathed in mosaic— millions of tiny colored cubes. despite the destruction of its abode. “The Jews revered this wall. and not a little vainglorious. During the day.

and the drum catches the rays. Thrice damaged by earth- quakes. These warrior-monks studied the architecture of the Dome of the Rock (which they believed to be Solomon’s Temple). a cross has replaced the crescent. as seen from Mount Scopus. The shrine has passed into Chris- tian hands. and the building was reconse- crated as an Islamic shrine. led by Saladin. “And we come now to the sixteenth century and the rule of the Ottoman Turks. the mount became the headquar- ters of the Knights Templar.     later. and incorporated their findings into the design of cathedrals. “Here’s the Dome of the Rock a century later—seem- ingly unchanged. “when the light of the sun first strikes on the cupola. It has been converted to a church and renamed Templum Domini—the Temple of the Lord. the Dome of the Rock was meant to surpass in grandeur the churches of Jerusalem. the shrine is more impressive than ever. then is this edifice a marvelous sight to behold.* “But then one day the chandelier snapped loose. The occurrence was deemed an ill omen. Stained glass was added to the lunettes.” writes al-Muqaddasi. The doors were restored to their original splendor. The exterior walls were reclad in marble and blue ceramic tile. it came crashing down on the Rock. An elaborate fixture with  lamps. Crowned with a crescent. a tenth-century traveler. But look closely. it proclaims the Glory of  and the triumph of Islam. by the way. Atop the dome. Here’s a picture.” According to al-Muqaddasi. Their greatest sultan was Suleiman the Magnificent—your namesake. And one of Suleiman’s accomplishments was to renovate the Dome of the Rock. the shrine has been rebuilt and still dominates the city. And such was indeed the case. “And what of the holy place of the Jews? What had become * “At dawn. and one such that in all Islam I have never seen its equal. For take a look at this next pic- ture. Jerusalem fell to the Seljuk Turks. † During the Crusader era.† “But the change was short-lived. As you can see.  .

“Moreover. Those stones have also been cleansed—by tears. or Noble Sanctuary. I want you to look at it.” An aerial view appeared on the screen.  . The space in front of it was cleared.* “And we come now to the final—and most pertinent— picture. to create an enclave for prayer— as seen in this next picture. And behold a melancholy ruin. For both it is a holy place—a gateway to heaven. The environs have been landscaped. Indeed. Need- less to say. one group—the Temple Mount Faithful—has already hewn the cornerstones. a spacious plaza has been created. Sparrows have nested in crevices. “Behold the wall. For your mental acumen. So how are these conflicting claims to be reconciled? “You are renowned. You have won acclaim as an arbiter of legal disputes and a solver of riddles. The golden dome has been restored. Fifteen centuries of rain have eroded the massive blocks of lime- stone.      of that venerated wall? Suleiman improved it too. from the hands of innumerable wor- shipers. whom he tethered here during his Night Journey. For I have a problem for you to solve. as the ruin shall become known. there are Jews who want to build a Third Temple upon the mount. Snapdragons have sprouted from the cracks between them. their plan enrages the Muslims. “Muslims and Jews share the city. then go home and ponder. Both revere the site. to the Muslims. “Here’s the mount in the twenty-first century. Solomon. So here’s the problem that * The wall is known to Muslims as “al Burak”—after Muhammad’s winged horse. for your wisdom. The focal point of their conflict is the mount—the Haram es-Sharif. the Temple Mount to the Jews. It showed both the Dome of the Rock and the surviving wall of the Temple. as it’s now known. Some further changes have occurred. For there has been much weeping at the Wailing Wall. And the lower stones have become polished. And in front of the Western Wall. Yet their antagonism precludes an amicable sharing. But a violent antago- nism exists between them.

“That’s quite an hourglass. “This confounded thing is about to run down. I could use your help with something. Melchizedek rose and approached the giant hourglass.” With a weary groan. however. “It needs to be turned. All right? Go then. Before you leave. watching the sand trickle down. Lends some ‘atmosphere’ to the  . Could you lend me a hand?” Together they took hold of the hourglass and inverted it.     I want you to ponder.” said Solomon. How can the mount be shared? How can it serve both parties? How can this rivalry be resolved? What is the answer? Is there an answer? Return to your pal- ace and put your mind to work. “What’s its function?” “It’s purely decorative.” he said.

But the philosophical portions— which delve into ontology and epistemology. At the core of the book is a simple experiment. come tell me. But the notion that time is physically interconnected—honeycombed with a net- work of tunnels—seems far-fetched. and his work. the Cave of the Ages may be the most problematical for modern sensibilities.” “If you solve the problem. pseudepigraphic. One quick question before I go?” “Surely. But I’ve wrenched my back trying to turn it. An Experiment with Time created a stir when published in . how could Ahimaaz have known the future of the mount? Surely this chapter—glaringly anachro- nistic—is the interpolation of a latter-day editor. mathematics.* * Of the marvels that Ahimaaz describes. And even if the Cave of the Ages is just a literary conceit.” “I’ll do my best. Written by J. he had dreamt of the eruption of a volcano on a  . I would recommend a forgotten book entitled An Experiment with Time. How else to account for his knowledge of future events? Yet time may be more mysterious than we imagine.” much of the book is abstruse. Dunne had been bewildered by a series of precognitive dreams.” Solomon nodded and departed the cavern. and urges the reader to repeat. explains. and quantum-intercon- nectedness—may be skipped.W.” “What exactly is time?” “The antechamber of Eternity. Our skepticism may relent sufficiently to admit the possibility of a magic ring—a flying carpet—even a jinni. In one of them.      cave. say. So your help was appreciated. “Though even the wisdom of Solomon may fail to crack this nut. a British engineer and philosopher (and gentleman—some of the experiment was conducted from an armchair in the library of his club). retro-causality. which Dunne performs.” “Glad to help. Dunne. And for any reader wishing to explore that mystery. and employ such terms as infinite regress. the rules of Contract Bridge.” said Melchiz- edek. philosophy. Despite his assurances that it “demands from [the reader] no previous knowledge of science. Or else Ahi- maaz was himself latter-day. or psychology” and “is considerably easier to understand than are.

He realized that he had dis- cerned a “hitherto overlooked peculiarity in the structure of Time. What was the significance of his findings? For one thing. When he compared their images with the occurrences in his daily life. before they faded from memory. Generally. They seemed to violate rules far more fundamental than those of contract bridge. Can it be then? Are dreams a window into the nature of the cosmos? Can they afford us a glimpse into the meaning of exis- tence? Can we explore the deepest of mysteries while lying in bed (or lounging in an armchair at our club)? The reader may repeat Dunne’s experiment and decide for him- self.” And he concluded that the standard model of time—a series of events flowing into the future—was simply a mode of human perception. Of his predictive dreams. a dream derived its imagery from vivid or unusual happenings within a space of  hours— hours in either direction.. Eternity was real. And in the morning he quickly recorded his dreams. Beyond our daily experi- ence existed a timeless Present. That is to say. this one was the most dramatic. His experiences led Dunne to make a study of the relationship between time and dreaming. For if time was an illusion. they were “comprised of images of past experiences and images of future experiences blended together in approxi- mately equal proportions.  . they provided an explanation for the curi- ous phenomenon of déjà vu. Seemingly. it headlined the eruption of Mount Pelée on Martinique and a death-toll of . Dunne made a startling discovery. Dunne found similar correlations. but all were perplexing. his dreams were influenced by events of both the past day and the next! Impossibly.     French island and the death of  islanders.” Extending his study to the dreams of friends and relatives.) But more importantly. Dunne pointed out. When the day’s newspaper arrived. “past” and “future” were nothing more than artifacts of the waking mind. the horrify- ing dream had been prompted by his later reading of the news- paper account. they supported belief in the immortality of the soul. Indeed. (Why do we feel that something has happened before? Because we dreamt of it the previous night. He went to sleep each night with a notebook and pencil under his pillow.

” “Come in and let me hear it. I couldn’t think of any.” said Solo- mon. You gave me a problem to solve—and said to report the solution. “Who’s that there?” “’Tis I. After all. So I pon- dered the purpose of the Temple. So. perhaps I’d get a glimmering of the solution. have you found a solution?” “Possibly. the original site had been specified by a prophet. I asked myself: What is the essence of the Temple? What is its prime function? What is the main thing that happens there? By focusing on that. But I rejected that idea too. since a shrine to  already graced the mount. And the Sacred Rock was an essential part of it. It could not serve the special needs of the people He had designated as His servant. They were clashing violently. What could be done? I considered a cou- ple of solutions. the Dome was a worthy shrine. A knotty problem indeed.   A Solution Y es?”  . “Then I tried a mental stratagem. Solomon. So what possibilities remained? Though I racked my brains. I am refer- ring to the Dome of the Rock. and stood before him. “The situation that you described was dire.” King Solomon entered the cavern. approached Melchiz- edek. But I quickly rejected that idea. A real puzzler. But it was not ’s House—His personal residence—His earthly abode. What was it for? Why do  . if I came up with one. He squinted at the figure standing in the entrance- way. One was to build the Temple elsewhere— to find an alternative site. To be sure.” “O yes. “Two parties were at odds over the mount. “Another solution was to declare the Temple unneeded.” “Which problem was that?” “It concerned the rivalry over Mount Moriah.    .

” “What kind of test?” “Of man’s capacity to resolve his differences. You see. He would take His usual pleasure in them. So why don’t we just relinquish it? Let it go? Surely the Lord of the Universe can get along without an abode. And presumably. “An interesting line of thought.” said Melchizedek. that’s my idea.” he said. To give thanks unto Him. you say?” “Why not?  yearns for peace among men. It is a part of ’s plan.” “I’m listening. He listens to our prayers —watches over us—forgives our sins. He would welcome our oxen and sheep and doves. And surely He would be pleased by our sacrifice—our giving up of something so precious. We bring offer- ings to the altar.” “My solution would be this. Anyhow. Except. and awaited Melchizedek’s response. a good deed. He arranged it to happen—as a test. the sacrifices could resume. His earthly abode—the cause of enmity and strife. To bask in His Presence and commune with Him. And to ask for His help or forgiveness. The priest took a sip from his goblet. the rivalry over the mount is no accident of history. we go there to sacrifice.” “How now? The Temple itself. Once again gifts could be offered up to .   we go there? “And a number of things came to mind.” “To be sure. in homage to . “Now if the Temple were rebuilt. We visit the Temple to pray to .” Solomon concluded with an expansive gesture. Sacrifice the Temple itself. “But not a solution?” “I must refrain from further comment. To praise Him. We give up something that is alive or precious. “Yet perhaps—in that time of contention— would prefer a different sort of sacrifice. “But above all. Can these  . For nothing pleases Him more than a sacrifice. does He not? Yet here is His own House. In return. Which brings me to my proposed solution. perhaps.

A cen- tral location and a crossroads—just what was needed for His Name to go forth. But the people could be anyone—the Philistines. Behind him stretched a  . it is crisscrossed by trade routes.  needed a peo- ple to serve Him. Perhaps even more so. to be His servant? Why us? Were we especially vir- tuous?” “Are you kidding?” said Melchizedek. if you like. not the people. “Here’s the geography of the earth.” said Melchizedek. So they were asked—or commandeered. from which knowledge of Him might emanate to the ends of the earth. Let’s hope they can work things out. In any case. it might have been them. clicking the remote.” “Who are the Eskimos?” “I’ll show you. The screen lit up. Africa and Europe come together. if you will—to serve as ’s people. you ask? Take a look at this.” He clicked his remote. I just wanted to hear your thoughts on the matter. and not some other people. whom they represent. and the locale was to be Canaan. The Hebrews happened to be in the area.” said Melchizedek. Onto the screen came the image of a man in a parka. If the Eskimos had been residing in the region. at the point where Asia. He wanted a central location.” “You can put it that way. Canaan was just such a place. “You’re as prone to wrongdoing as any people. He was holding a spear and grinning. “Now where might  have placed His sanctuary? Way out in Australia? I think not. Whoever was around and willing. the place was selected. Look how it is situated. Why the Hebrews. In other words.” “Why did  select the Hebrews.” “One quick question before I go?” “Certainly. the Hittites.      bitter enemies make peace with one another? Can they fig- ure out how to share the mount? Will they place its sanctity ahead of their own advantage? It is a test for them—and for mankind. the Edomites.” “A case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Moreover. You may go now. showing a map of the world.

historically.’ is difficult to answer. or only thereafter came to view Jesus as their ‘temple not made with hands.” Solomon looked at the Eskimo and shook his head. Only shifting sheets of ice. For a dwelling he takes blocks of snow and builds an igloo—a temporary hut. And dozes at night. But it is clear that the Temple was not an abiding force  . “How diverse are the peoples of the earth. an Eskimo.   desolate expanse of ice. the northernmost part of the earth. “And how manifold the works of . Within its narrow confines he shelters his family.”* * How serious is the wish for a restored Temple? In Judaism and Christian Beginnings. dines on raw meat. Samuel Sandmel writes: “The question of whether. “Behold. as the Arctic winds howl about his hut and the ice crackles beneath him.”said Melchizedek. prays to his gods. Roaming about on the ice. the Eskimo hunts and fishes. They claim no land—for there is no land up there.“His people inhabit the frozen Arctic. Christians broke with the Temple before its destruction in .” he said.

And with the rise of the Talmud. Said Rabbi Yohanan: “So long as the Temple stood. Now a man’s table makes atonement for him. the altar made atone- ment for Israel. it became a mikdash ma’ot. though prayers for its restoration continue in traditional Judaism. or miniature sanctuary. Yom Kip- pur (the day on which a goat had been sacrificed to atone for the nation’s sins) was adapted for the synagogue. the study of the laws of sacrifice replaced the actual sacrifices. Its candles recall the great menorah that illumined the Temple. But it may be simply a pious ideal—a remembrance of the ancient seat of the Divine Presence. the ceremonial drinking of wine—all are echoes of the Temple service.” With the destruction of the Temple. Neither was it an abiding force in Judaism. substitutes were devised for the sacrificial rites that had been performed there. The family table took the place of the altar. the blessing of bread. An Orthodox Jew still prays for the restoration of the Temple. But such prayers are more traditional piety than reflective of genuine desire for such a restoration. The washing of hands. With its prayers and sanctifying rituals.  . Its white tablecloth represents purity.      in Christianity.” In particular the Sabbath table. But the prime substitute was the Jewish home.

tethered by ropes.” said Solomon. I wish to visit them.” The guards were exchanging looks. “It’s about time that ill wind did us some good. Yet the Eskimos have managed to adapt. It was loaded with supplies and lifted by a morning breeze. see how they live. hovered beside them. to say the least. And virtually no plants grow there. and even to thrive. What got me curious about Eskimos was their habitat—which is inhospitable. learn about their folkways. In the summertime. there’s a question I’d like to put to them. you say? That’s awful- ly cold. “Gentlemen. The flying carpet. The Eskimos speak a language unrelated to  . “Whoa. “For a journey to an exotic place?” “Yes!” “This expedition shall take us far from home. “I’ve arranged for a spe- cial wind to take us to the Arctic. Carrying an overnight bag. I want to meet and get to know such a people. Its inhabitants are a people known as the Eski- mos. Also. are we ready?” he asked.” Benaiah nodded judiciously. The khamsin! The hot wind of the desert shall both transport us and keep us warm.” said Benaiah. Their enthusiasm seemed to have waned. the temperature in the Arctic is below zero. and that’s com- munication.” “Now I’ve anticipated another problem. Just how are we going to adapt?” “Not a problem. For our destination is the Arctic Circle—the northernmost region of the earth.   Arctic Visit O         Singing Guards. “Yes!” they chorused. “Below zero. King Solomon emerged onto the roof and joined them.

Confined to the Arctic—which they call Nunatsiaq. “Most Eskimos live in an igloo—a cozy little snowhouse. he is familiar with that of the Eskimos—which.” said Solo- mon.” Solomon raised his ring and said: “Info Imp. a type of frozen dessert. No form of government whatsoever. Moreover. “They make their home in an extremely hostile environment —a bleak wilderness of ice. For practical reasons. For the Eskimos have no enemies. fish. This protein- rich fare is supplemented with berries and seaweed. magistrates. Sometimes they cook the meat. the igloo has neither door nor lock. and frigid waters. a band residing in Greenland—isolated even from their fellow Eskimos— believe themselves to be the sole humans on earth. they are noted for their hospitality—anyone popping his head into an igloo is wel- comed. They have no tribes —no clans—no chiefs. he claims. we shall be requiring a translator. seal. So in order to communicate with them. pursuing their quarry in a dog sled or a kayak. Entered via an insulating passageway. Their diet consists almost entirely of meat—walrus. professor. And with Eskimo Pies.      our own. “The Eskimos are hunters. or ‘the beautiful land’—they’ve had little contact with other peoples. “A walking encyclopedia. Instead. Indeed. he knows a great deal about Eskimos. nor any- thing to steal. But there is little sense of commu- nity. more often. Their sole possessions are a few simple tools and hunting implements. “The Eskimos are a unique people. Among his many languages. they just dig in with gusto. “Their social structure is minimal. So I have asked him to brief us on the subject.  .” he began. or elders. If you’d be so kind.” The Info Imp adjusted his glasses and addressed the expedition. Each day is a struggle to survive. Let me summon him now. caribou. has  words for different types of snow. Moreover. a number of families may dwell in proximity. snow. each family is an inde- pendent unit.” With a pop the jinni appeared at his side. “My friend here is a storehouse of knowledge.

the Singing Guards. whose distinctive life-style reflects the harshness of their environ- ment. longer. And three main deities—Sedna. he climbed aboard the carpet. the moon god—are propitiated. • The days grew shorter. effect cures. Magical formulæ are recited. An Eskimo’s spiritual life is mediated by an angekok. the shaman is able to control spirits. It swirled about the roof of the palace. lifting the carpet. And landing in some nameless place. And signaling for the ropes to be untied. It passed over towns and villages—glided over hills and val- leys—soared over mountains and inland seas. Solomon recited a prayer. and Tatqeq. King Solomon had brought along scrolls.” Solomon thanked the Info Imp. “In summation—a hardy and resourceful people. the voyagers would get off the carpet and stretch their legs. the sea goddess. The hot wind came rushing in from the desert. the weather god. They ate and slept in the sky. the nights. their sole company the birds and the clouds. Taboos are observed. and spent the time reading. “The frozen Arctic!” commanded Solomon. provide tips on hunting. Then he raised his ring and summoned the khamsin. Onward they flew. • For nearly a week the carpet flew toward its destination. And finally the  . Settling into the throne. and the Info Imp piled on behind him. The Singing Guards occupied themselves by singing and playing cards. Benaiah. Now and then. etc. Borne by the wind. Narssuk. or shaman. Solomon would call for a rest stop. Entering a trance and leaving the earthly plane.   “Their religious practices are primitive but effective. the carpet ascended into the sky and headed north.

”  . our only light will come from the moon and the stars. “There’s one!” he cried. Spear in hand.” Spellbound by the undulating lights.” explained the Info Imp. the sun remains below the horizon. say the Eski- mos. So the night is continuous. “During the winter up here. And.* And finally an Eskimo came into view. Known as inuksuit. and a team of dogs. It was watching them fly by. “You haven’t heard about the Northern Lights? They’re a meteorological phenomenon—and a spectacular sight. “These lights are seen mainly in the northern latitudes. “Hence their name. Except for Benaiah. indicators of abundant game. “But we should be seeing Eskimos soon. a sled.” No sooner had he spoken than a curtain of light swept across the night sky. From now on. who was peering over the edge of the carpet. Enormous wisps of flame flitted about. Their reflection glimmered in the ice below. like ghostly apparitions.” said the Imp. pointing. “An Eskimo!” Crouched on the ice was a bulky figure. empty save for mysterious piles of rocks. Nearby was an igloo. we’ll be seeing them shortly.” he said. Bands of color shifted and shim- mered overhead. or “stone figures. the voyagers gazed into the sky. Some of these piles. If conditions are right. “We’ve entered the Arctic Circle. The Eskimo * Thousands of rock piles are scattered throughout the Arctic.” “What are they?” asked Solomon. Their nature remains a mystery. are extremely old and were erected by their predecessors in the region—the Tunniit. and objects of veneration— marking the abodes of spirits. of course.” The carpet flew through the Arctic night. the Northern Lights. he was standing over a hole in the ice. or “ancient ones. The Info Imp shook his head.      daylight ceased altogether. The Northern Lights cascaded in the sky. “That’s a polar bear. And stretching from horizon to horizon was a frigid wasteland.” they serve as directional aids.

But they have to surface periodically.  . “Hunting seals.” Solomon gave a command to the wind. “Ai!” translated the Imp. “Hello there!” called out Solomon. The Eskimo is waiting for one to stick its head out. looking for fish. landing with a thud on the ice. “What’s he doing?” asked Solomon. in order to breathe. And the carpet descended.   was intently watching the hole—so intently that he failed to notice the carpet in the sky. “That’s an Eskimo.” said the Imp. The seals swim about under the ice. The Eskimo looked up in surprise and stared at them.

“We have come from afar. “Give them time to get used to us. Wind—take us home. by stuffing it with bearskins.” he said. But why should they want to talk with us? They’re going about their business.” Before the words could be translated. He began to barricade the entrance to the igloo. “Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. Maybe we should simply go. In fact. “We seem to have frightened the fellow. everyone. The Eskimo crawled inside the igloo.” said Benaiah. she shrieked. Solomon was dismayed. “and would like to chat with you.” Solomon shook his head.” With a swirl of snow. the khamsin lifted them back into the sky. Seeing their visitors. We’re leaving. And these Eskimos are human beings.” said Solomon.” “We’re like visitors from another planet. “They apparently want nothing to do with us.  .” said Solomon. Then the Eskimo reappeared—sticking his head out and scrutinizing the Israelites. How could that be anything but disturbing? “And just look at how this doorless people has greeted us—with a door! We are interlopers. the Eskimo let out a shout and brandished his spear. crying “Tupilakit!” and racing toward the igloo. the Eskimo bolted —flinging aside his spear.      With a look of terror. A commotion sounded from within the igloo. when suddenly a carpetful of strangely-attired men drop out of the sky. The dogs had begun to bark. “How are you this evening?” said Solomon. The dogs continued to bark. But the Eskimo ignored them. Stay on the carpet. not anthropological subjects. “I’m starting to think that this trip was a mistake—that we shouldn’t even be here. I wanted to meet and talk with Eskimos. A female Eskimo poked her head out of the igloo. I think we should. “Devils!” translated the Imp. “Qanuk ilissi unnupat?” translated the Imp.

They don’t have to defend it from intruders. “As for seeking out a less harsh environment. Why they had chosen to settle here. “I wanted to know why. Both are filled with His Presence. Thus. instead of migrating to some less harsh environment. The Eskimos are a part of the Arctic.  . right? Or even pass through it. And He has sustained them in their hardships. As part of His plan. Benaiah.   As the carpet flew southward. it’s too late. Moreover. “No one in their right mind wants to live in the Arctic. Solomon seemed lost in thought. Sire. But I did get the answer to my question. Would you want to live elsewhere? ’s gift to us was the Temple. So there’s no warfare. He led the Eskimos to the Arctic. “We came many miles. But we did get to see the Northern Lights. And for what? We never got to meet with the Eskimos. This frigid wasteland has become their home. Behold the Northern Lights. But I think I have figured it out. they are skilled at living here. and it has become a part of them. “So yes. And why they remained. They are awe- some! Imagine having them as your constant companion.” “And a polar bear. They’ve solved the problem of war. and His gift to the Eskimos was this sky. Finally Benaiah spoke to him. “What brought the Eskimos here in the first place? Who knows? And who can make sense of the vagaries of fortune? Except to say that  has a unique role—an identity—a destiny—for each people. Now that’s a real achievement—and a reason to live here.” said Benaiah. Why they resided in a frigid wasteland. we came thousands of miles and didn’t get to meet with the Eskimos. It is the land of their ancestors—of their sacred sites—of their memories.” “True.” said Solomon.” “What question?” “There was something I wanted to ask these people. the Eskimos have the place to themselves. “But the best reason for remaining in this place? Look at the sky.

I scarcely hope to see again. Nanahbozho had retired to the north. so mysterious.) The Algonquin of northern Canada held a different view.—and can cause blackouts. or “sky dwellers.” (George Kennar. the Northern Lights have inspired awe in those who beheld them. inter- fere with radio transmissions.      They fell silent and watched the celestial fireworks in the sky about them. the veil which conceals from mortal eyes the glory of the eternal throne seems drawn aside. But as a sign of his solici- tude for mankind. But the scientific explanation would have puzzled the Eskimos. The voltage generated is stupendous—greater than the daily power consumption of the U. Gases in the upper atmosphere become ionized and glow. In crossing that bridge. In their cosmology. the creator of the earth. so glori- ously beautiful. Whatever their origin.” who lit the way with torches. explorer who perished during an Arctic voyage) • “Anything so strange. They attributed the Northern Lights to Bifrost.” (Bayard Taylor. lit by Nanah- bozho. a rainbow bridge over which souls journeyed to Valhalla. heaven—located beyond the dome of the sky—was linked to the earth by a bridge.* * What are the Northern Lights (also known as the Aurora Borealis)? Scientists attribute them to the solar wind—charged particles that flow from the sun and interact with the earth’s magnetic field. travel writer) • “No other natural phenomenon is so grand. Upon completing his creation. and the awed beholder is lifted out of the atmosphere of his daily life into the immediate presence of . painting the heavens in such gorgeous displays?” (Charles Francis Hall. so wonderful. explorer) • “I pity the man who says ‘There is no ’ or who can look  . They believed that the lights emanated from a bonfire. he kept a bonfire going. so capricious. (The Norsemen of Scandinavia entertained a similar notion.S. The Northern Lights were the light from those torches. Here are some testimonials: • “Who but  can conceive such infinite scenes of glory? Who but  could execute them. and affect compasses. so terrible in its unearthly splendor as this. the souls of the dead were guided by salamiud.

and its grandeur. Hooper.H.” (Lieutenant W.  . no pen or pencil can portray its fickle hues. British naval officer) That grandeur continues to deeply move those who experience it.   unmoved to the very depths of his soul by such displays of infi- nite power. its radiance.” (Edward Sylvester Ellis. For it is believed in Japan that a child conceived under the Northern Lights will be fortunate. who have come to north- ern Canada on their honeymoon. Among them are Japanese newlyweds. dime novelist) • “Language is vain in the attempt to describe its ever-varying and gorgeous phases.

A living symbol of the Hebrew state— Prosperous. For Solomon was busy as a bee (Though of a sting this gentle king was free). Most notably. He tapped on it as the sand trickled down. his voice resounding in the Cave of the Ages. sedate. Tarshish. For up and down the land Testimonies to his drive and vigor stand: Fortresses. Upon his throne King Solomon into a monument has grown. And he began to speak. city walls. Yet there is more. His private habits did remain austere While on the public weal vast sums were spent. A pale scribe who’d seek to glorify This lofty monarch. and spices too From distant Ophir. he built the sacred shrine Wherein a cloud upon the Ark doth shine— The glowing Presence of the King of Kings. contented.   Menelik M      . sedulous. Nor has the sea escaped his lust to build: The ocean lanes with sleek new ships he’s filled That bring him ivory. Yet as his fortune grew from year to year. And bowing to the rule of  Most High. need but dip his quill And list the works that did a lifetime fill. (He had a palace. M: And so the years go by. paved highways. gold. To fill both merchants’ coffers and his own. Xanadu! Under his stewardship has commerce grown. Local shrines and baths and judgment halls. yet seemed to crave a tent!)  . To all the earth that shrine a blessing brings.

So Rehoboam. bouncing along on a camel. show- ing a caravan in the desert. For Solomon has an heir he knows not of— The product of a long-forgotten love! A handsome youth. whereat The worthless sons draw lots from out a hat? Finally he decides that custom shall hold sway: Upon the eldest head the priest shall lay The crown of Israel and its weighty cares. discreet And worthy of his father’s royal seat.  Such then the thriving kingdom he has wrought. His features do his parentage proclaim. as he nears his death— King Solomon just sadly shakes his head. Which prince. Yet fate has engineered that a surprise Is shortly at his doorstep to arise. M: Behold him now—one Menelik by name. For of the sons his thousand wives have bred— Of that royal swarm. by an idle wife. The screen lit up. The passing of his realm unto an heir— That is to say. does he least deplore? Should he propose a lottery. Let’s view this unknown son. Each has been spoiled by an easy life. his climbing of the stair Into that state that follows our last breath.  . To choose an heir from out this sorry group— Decide on this or that suave nincompoop— Is to the king a most unwelcome chore. Melchizedek clicked his remote. intelligent. Is chosen to succeed him on the throne And that decision Solomon makes known. that princely school— Not a single one is fit to rule! Raised in luxury. The picture zoomed in on a young man. But as he nears a milestone unsought. he wonders. first-born of his heirs. To put it bluntly.

 . The thoughtful brow—these do certify That Solomon did as his father serve. so tightly curled? And from whom our traveler’s dusky hue? The mirthful twinkle in the eye’s a clue. For from the south a maiden once did ride To meet with Solomon—and merry-eyed.      The noble nose and penetrating eye. Yet whence those lips that—full and sensual—curve Into a smile that gently mocks the world? Or those locks of hair.

Some five leagues off. From whence these visitors—and friend or foe? “From Sheba in the south. the Queen of Sheba did this lad beget! The princely outcome of that night’s duet. “A prince from out that rich and fertile land Has crossed the desert to bring you his regards. upon a camel.” Now you all know we have no better friend Than that Arabian nation on the sea. Rich gifts she’d brought him. Together they performed an ancient rite. And as the years for Solomon have flown Has Menelik into a young man grown— Who now. tokens of her wealth. Why this sudden visit from our friends?  . Why has he come? What urgency impelled A prince to leave the kingdom where he dwelled— Forsake the comforts of a rich abode— And brave the perils of a desert road? We shall soon see. panting from his run. its enterprising queen Did undertake the same long pilgrimage To meet with me and tender her respects. For years ago.  In dalliance with him did spend a night. A royal embassy toward Jerusalem rode And sometime on the morrow would arrive. declared this messenger. • Perched upon his throne. King Solomon addressed the assembled court. with good cheer. Yes. And in return he gave her of himself. Did to our palace door glad tidings bring. S: Last night a herald.” the herald said. A bond ensued. Unto his father’s land is drawing near. and since that happy day Sheban caravans pass freely on our roads Whilst we in turn drop anchor in their ports.

goes stale. And bring you salutation from our queen. The prince waits just outside. alas. But first there is a question I would ask— A cryptic one. For there sounds yet the tinkle of her laugh. O King of Israel. I’m Menelik. Menelik. Who from between the lions of his throne Rules like a lion. obscure at least to me. Solomon sighed nostalgically. whom once she came to see.  . Who is my mother and our guiding star And who insists she is a special friend Of Israel’s king. to what our kingdom owes This visit from a Sheban embassy. But let’s find out. And. A trumpet sounded from the lobby. And Menelik came striding into the throne room. The sonorous discourse of her able tongue. a melancholy sound: The resounding whisper of my friend’s farewell. S: O would that she again might honor us. Your Majesty. S: Indeed. He approached the dais and bowed. From Sheba have I come. Bid him enter and grace this dreary hall With the luster of his welcome self.      I would assume ’tis to renew that bond. M: Such sentiments the Queen has likewise voiced When speaking of her stay in your domain. As friendship unrefreshed. she came and left—but lingers still Within the echo chamber of my thoughts. like air. Now tell me. M: My bow and greetings. M: In a moment shall I say. with strength and majesty. But second-best: to host her gentle son.

S: Nay. Solomon furrowed his brow thoughtfully. I thrive on puzzlement. It rouses neither thirst nor other needs. It seemed. So I have never known the guiding hand Or manly model of a father dear. nowadays our fare is bland indeed And serves but to surfeit and satiate. O King of Israel. however. S: Ask away. Who the lover was who fathered me. M: You surely satisfied her every wish. Your Majesty. His very name and rank was kept from me— It was a matter not to be discussed. ’Twas on my eighteenth birthday. For I. as we dined. am your son.  . you know. Our queen. come to think of it. But on the day that I did turn eighteen My mother did reveal. somehow to relate To a recent revelation she had made. she left it unexplained. The allusion would be plain to you. But the import of her query—was that disclosed? M: No. doth Sheba rule alone— No wedded husband shares the royal suite. S: Eighteen. ’Twas eighteen years ago or thereabouts That your mother journeyed to our land And shared my house and hospitality. in somber tones.  But which my mother bid me put to you. she laughed. Every amenity I did offer her. M: She bid me ask you this: Do you still serve Those thirst-inducing heaps of spicy food? Solomon smiled. you say? Why.

Sire. the proverb goes. S: No! M: Indeed I am. I simply wished to gaze Upon the face that’s mirrored in my own And meet the king who did engender me. by making payment now With interest that shall be exorbitant! Better late than never. For who among the occupants of thrones Is more renowned for wisdom and good sense? Or has amassed so many precious scrolls? Or has built. Gifts given tardily may yet be true— Preferred to ones more prompt but passionless.  . First of all. my son—a filial embrace! Descending from the throne. upon a sacred mount.      Solomon stared at him incredulously. I pray that I be worthy of them both. stay a while. Solomon embraced Menelik. These eighteen years. to Jerusalem And to the belated bestowal of my love. Sire. S: Gaze upon him? Meet him? You’ll do more. Let me rather compensate love’s lack. Menelik. And fiercely proud of it. S: Welcome. But why exactly have I traveled here? Two motives drew me to your kingdom. Come. Your father get to know. And there’s more wisdom in such adages Than in the recondite complexities That spout our sages and philosophers. Please. For not the ablest archer Can strike a target that he knows not of. A sanctuary of more magnificence? Not that I scorn my Sheban lineage— Two noble houses have in me combined. Hold me not guilty that I loved thee not Until this moment.

when a royal per- sonage—elaborately coifed and foppishly dressed—stepped in front of them and addressed Menelik. too. I too extend to you a welcoming hand And hope your brief time with us achieves its aim: To learn somewhat of how we worship here. Yes. if I may be so bold A stranger so familiarly to address. And yet a rare excitement spurs me on As I look forward to my stay with thee. Whose footstool is this little earth of ours. To your quarters let me lead you now. Solomon was leading him from the hall. And there’s another. You’re tired from the road. M: I thank you. I am Prince Rehoboam. Father. But come. •  . brother. I likewise hope that learning is the sole Ambition that has brought you to our realm. R: Greetings. May I learn more about this  of yours And in what manner you do worship Him? S: Of course you may! The pleasure will be mine To introduce you to the King of Kings. Rehoboam gave him an icy look and shook his hand. thy eldest sib And heir apparent to our father’s crown. I am fatigued.  M: Indeed I shall. Whom I would fain become acquainted with— The second reason for my coming here. my son. For we in Sheba have heard wondrous things Of that deity who in your Temple dwells. Whose throne is set amid the countless stars. Of  Most High. who earth and heaven made And who supreme among the gods doth rule.

there is none So worthy to succeed him on the throne. Whose finer points his father doth explain. all these days are deep in study spent.      Melchizedek was sitting in his thronelike chair. his land regain Where he is due eventually to reign. The history of Moses he is taught And how the Israelites were from Egypt brought. Where as helots they had long been bound. M: For three months Menelik with his father stays And for both these are the best of days. and of a pious bent. When Menelik to Sheba doth return. alas. reading a scroll. For soon the Sheban homeward is to wend. The youth is studious. Through books of ancient lore he’s made to plod. All this and more does Menelik imbibe: The teachings and traditions of a tribe Whom  has made His servant and His tool For bringing all mankind unto His rule. The youth is tutored in the word of . The one becomes the teacher of his son Whose religious education is begun. ’Twill be the finish of their bond. Of Jacob’s Ladder. That understanding may the son attain. And Solomon doth dote upon this son. where the angels trod. Thus. Of Abraham’s firm covenant with . Of Adam in the Garden does he read And of the Flood a wrathful  decreed. His people to rejoin. Of David too the teacher doth expound— Of both his sinful and repentant ways And how his harp did ring with songs of praise. Yet for his nation there shall come to pass. The screen flickered with a picture—of Menelik.  . For of his many offspring. O what virtues Prince Menelik has shown! And yet this idyll ’twixt the two must end.

S:You read them all? Plumbed their hidden depths? M: I tried—and yet have barely dipped therein. Each day you’ll further go. Father. The door opened and Menelik entered. A scholar’s guidance to the world of books. Sorry to disturb. with an armful of scrolls. Its loyal populace that I’m due to rule— Thither must this wayward prince now ride. with its frankincense and myrrh. S: There is no rush. • In the Tower of Learning Solomon was reading a scroll. dear Father. For though I love her as a second home. Yet scarcely have I wet my feet in them. like a playful child. I thank you for the gifts you’ve given me: A monarch’s welcome and a father’s love. I am like some weak swimmer at a lake.  . Its longtime friends and loving family. And most of all. a sense of  Most High Of whom I have become a worshiper. M: Good morning.  A lasting outcome of this brief sojourn— As shall be seen. M: Alas. I’d like to swim these deep and challenging books. that is not to be. It’s time for me to leave Jerusalem And cross the desert back to whence I came. He knows he cannot cross its wide expanse And so contents himself to splash about In the shallows. Its hills and valleys that I’ve known since birth. Sheba. I’m bringing back this latest load of books.

Whose majesty is utterly eclipsed By that of .      S: That you into your heart have taken Him Is the gift that you have given me.  . But this I’d seek: when Sheba’s king am I. M: Thank you. How shall I manage so profound a change? Give me your counsel. wise and practical. M: Is it not to Prince Rehoboam pledged? S: I’ll tell him that the plan has been revised— That I am king. I would my kingdom place within ’s camp. my son. I have a throne already waiting me To which I am by lineage and honor bound. Father. For  Most High is present everywhere: In Sheba too He’ll hear your praise and prayer. M: Then I shall pray unto His Name divine As though the Temple were our local shrine. At present we do venerate the sun. And do not fear that when you leave this place A distance shall arise ’twixt you and Him. and kings can change their mind! You’re far more fit in every way to rule. S: But I’ll be sad to see you go. he is my first-born son. but I could not accept. He has a single qualifying trait: By trifling chance. I had a fantasy: that you’d remain with us And to the throne of Israel succeed. who did the heavens make. S: A second nation cleave to  Most High? ’Tis a happening devoutly to be wished! You do intend that Shebans worship  And put aside their reverence of the sun? M: Such is my fervid and determined aim.

From whom these acolytes may take their wives. Grabbing a torch. Fond hymns chanted. They descended a stairway and arrived at a padlocked door. Come along with me.  .  S: Then here is what to do. Then too the comeliness of Sheban maids. You’ll need some proper priests. Solomon led Menelik through the maze of corridors. Before you gleams a copy of that Ark And of the tablets that are kept therein. Revealed in the torchlight was a chest. M: Willingly they’d leave their native land? S: Two incentives I’ll hold up to them. Solo- mon approached a cabinet and opened it. First. They entered the storeroom with its rows of bins. To fair Sheba they’ll accompany you And serve as clergy for this distant shrine. I’ll aid you thus: From among our younger acolytes Three or four I shall recruit and pledge. the good of helping spread our faith. plated with gold and surmounted with a pair of cherubim. fragrant incense burnt. Some solar altar just rededicate Unto the glory of the Name of . You’ll need a shrine Where to the Lord may offerings be made. They exited the Tower. S: You know about the Ark—the sacred chest— That in our Temple sits in darkness thick. M: And is there nothing else that I shall need? S: One thing more. S: Behold the chamber where our treasures lie. Solomon located the key—beneath a floor-tile—and unlocked the door.

S: It’s déjà vu. Depart forever from Jerusalem. M: I don’t know what to say—except to ask: How doth in potency this Ark compare With the original that in the Temple sits? S: Why. needful to our lives. I had a craftsman make this replica. But come. The need is now. At his side was Benaiah. let’s to the Tower now return And read some books and see what we can learn. Which I have stowed away in case of need. on a camel’s back. This lower world and its furnishings Are but a shadow of eternal things. B: Things come and go. It was created ere the world began And in a heavenly Temple waits for man.  . M: What! How now? A copy too you say? S: Both are copies—mere facsimiles. Take it back to Sheba when you go And place it in your renovated shrine. my son. It’s always wise. That’s the world’s way.      M: What is the purpose of a duplicate? S: Of things essential. We stood here years ago And watched his mother. They were watching Menelik and his entourage depart from the city. • Solomon stood on his balcony. that revered object is a copy too. The true Ark is in heaven to be found. I’m giving you this Ark. to have a spare.

Taking back the joy that she had brought. The Queen of Sheba parted from my realm. When the the last camel had passed through the gate. who shall his people please With a wisdom that shall rival that Of the father who these sons begat. B: A part of you was imparted to the Queen— As evidenced by this progeny of yours. Whilst Rehoboam. Yet what a difference in their qualities! Menelik. Solomon scarcely heard him. Two Holy Arks shall now ’s Presence draw. Watching the Shebans depart. M: The only son who for the crown was fit Has. alas. And in two lands shall  Almighty reign  . man of vanities. he spoke. when he mounts that stair. And thus shall Solomon. as though in amber froze. And yet a part of her did stay behind— In memory. his father’s kingdom quit. a son of Solomon Shall rule the kingdom he has lately won. this sudden heaviness of heart Reminds me of the gloom I felt that day. And on each throne. • Melchizedek was viewing the departure on his screen. And back to Sheba does the prince repair With a precious cargo in his care: A chest that shall the Shebans fill with awe. Shall spur rebellion with his harsh decrees. Leave a dual legacy: this princely pair.  S: Then too. Two peoples chant in daily praise of Him Beneath the outspread wings of cherubim. Two houses shall his lineage maintain.

see Graham Hancock’s The Sign and the Seal. and the Ark was spirited away to Ethiopia. The Kebra Nagast. Melchizedek switched to a comedy show and settled back in his chair. And Solomon ordered a number of young priests to accom- pany him back to Ethiopia. The Ark of the Covenant is said to be kept in a chapel in the ancient city of Axum. Menelik was given a portion of the Ark’s cover- ing.* * As improbable as this episode may seem. to study the religion of the Hebrews. The priests prepared for their departure. It features the tale of Menelik I. son of the Queen of Ethiopia—the Queen of Sheba— and King Solomon of Jerusalem. he is unaware of it. and create a second Jewish kingdom. It remains such to the present day. May these suffice for now. reports the Kebra Nagast) and their emperors. The  constitution declared: “The Imperial dignity shall remain perpetually attached to the line…that descends without interruption from the dynasty of Menelik I. it is corroborated by historical (or at least legendary) accounts. young Menelik—“hale and strong and wise. The priests were to dwell among the Ethiopians. Solomon welcomed his son and extended his full hospitality. and to obtain (for use as a talisman) a portion of the cloth that covered the Ark. In one of them.) The theft was success- ful. or “Book of the Glory of Kings. According to the Kebra Nagast. They also decided to steal the Ark and take it with them. Menelik was even allowed to enter the Temple and view the Ark (which was hovering miraculously). introduce them to the worship of .” is the national epic of Ethiopia. son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. in the other. When it was time for him to leave Jerusalem. and understanding like his father”—was dispatched to Jerusalem by his pagan mother. The Ethiopians also insist upon a continuity between King Sol- omon (who sank into idolatry after the loss of the Ark. Menelik is a party to the theft.      Until such day as every nation bow Before His Name.”  . For a detailed examination (and an endorsement) of this claim. (The Kebra Nagast recounts two versions of their plot. He had a multiple purpose: to meet his father. where it became the national treasure.

the High Priest was frail and bent. Asmodeus.” he said. Yet he had retained a commanding presence. merchants. Nearly a hundred years old. religious fervor. Soon he shall be stepping aside and handing over the reins of government to his son. bureaucrats. flanked by Zadok and Bathsheba. Servants scurried about with platters of food. royal wives. We are confident that the transition shall be uneventful.  which were seated members of the court. The institution is new to us. Of earthly kings. he has decided to retire. Asaf. feasting and conversing. and hangers-on—sat shoulder to shoulder. And half-a-dozen of Solomon’s wives.   Retirement T       . “At the same time. A bois- terous gathering—of palace functionaries. King Saul abused its prerogatives. King David lent it an aura of piety. Joseph.” Solomon was seated at the head table. Also at the table were Benaiah. Suspended from the ceiling was a banner that read “Fare- well King Solomon. tribal elders. “May I have your attention. “I’d like to remind you of why we are here today. and divine favor. and the Egyptian ambas- sador. And King Solomon? What can one say? It has been a glorious time for our people—thirty-eight years of prosperity. priests. A hush came over the guests. As you know. Rehoboam. Ab-hiram. including Tut- mosa. No one could have presided over those years better than this  . On the balcony a Philistine band was regaling the guests with dinner music. Israel has had but three. this is a momentous occasion. And Ahimaaz the chronicler. Zadok had risen and was casting his solemn gaze upon the crowd. We are here to pay tribute to King Solo- mon—and to give him a fitting send-off. ambassadors. It is not simply to eat and drink and palaver. Wine flowed freely. military officers.

and abundance of blessings to serve as your king. Let’s hear from the man himself. “He has also given me—like most of those with me at this table—an abundance of gray hairs.’ Thankfully. He shall be missed. Rehoboam shall assume the duties of kingship. And Solomon rose. “While remaining available for advice. Asaf?” Solomon exchanged amused looks with his bald vizier. I shall continue—at least for now—to wear the crown and offi- cially serve as king. “and thank you all for being here tonight.Thirty-eight years—can that be? It seems like yesterday that my father summoned me to the throne room and informed me that I was to inherit the crown. And even if not. Time to turn over the throne to my son Rehoboam. Zadok sat down. waving to acknowledge the ovation. If that’s so. When I expressed doubts as to my fitness for the office. Zadok. He shall conduct its day-to-day business and learn to fill my shoes. For it is good to be the king. “I fear this graying to be a sign of fading vigor. during these years. “Nonetheless. But my eldest son and heir shall steer the ship of state. “Thank you. guidance. Thus it is that I declare the following. For his services to his nation and to . Indeed. “And he himself shall no doubt miss the challenges and satisfactions of kingship—the daily contact with his sub- jects—the buzz and bustle of the court. As he learns the ropes.” he said. I must prepare my successor for the duties of kingship. But I am not the one to affirm such things. I shall retreat into the background. I should like to devote my final years to activities other than governance of the realm.      man. he said simply: ‘Fear not. I’m grateful to have any hair left at all—hey. if not of my imminent demise. “With these thoughts in mind. the Lord has given me the strength.” he continued. he shall be remembered with gratitude. Now I’m not com- plaining about that.” Applause and cheers filled the hall. I give you King Solomon. I know that the prince  . I decided it was time to retire. for the Lord  will be with you. As of Sunday morn- ing.

To be sure. our own north- ern tribes are grumbling and filing complaints. you’ll be conferring with me. Is that not so. You have forsaken His commandment: ‘Thou shalt not make unto thyself an idol. Unfortunately. Mr.” said Ahijah. I thank you in advance for that—as I’m sure does Rehoboam. Warily. They’re about to become yours. Ambassador. “With which to polish your idols! Keep ’em shiny!”  . I’ve brought you a gift. Solomon said to him: “Your new job comes with many satisfactions.  will have your full support and cooperation. Wending his way through the diners. my legacy to you includes a restive Edom and a rebellious Aram. I urge you to treat them with wisdom and forbearance. Here. bowed to applause. O wicked King. To celebrate your departure. “You’re retiring?” said the prophet. And Ahijah—clad only in his loincloth and carrying a small box—burst into the dining hall. Solomon opened it—and pulled out a jar. these were my problems. “Good riddance! I’m here to say farewell. For you have done evil in the eyes of the Lord. But my days as a working monarch conclude on Sunday. Suddenly a commotion sounded from the entranceway. there will be troublesome situations and severe tests. but mention it I must—an Egypt that is reasserting its influence in Philistia. Ahi- maaz—you’re about to end that chronicle of yours and start a new one: the Book of Rehoboam. nor bow down and worship them. “Until now. he halted in front of the head table and pointed at Solomon.” Ahijah passed the box to Solomon.’ It’s a relief that you are stepping down. Also. Not to mention—and pardon me. and sat back down. my son? Stand up and acknowledge your subjects-to- be.” “My pen shall duly record his every deed.” Rehoboam rose. At the same time. “What’s this?” he asked. take it. Farewell to your iniqui- ties—to your idolatry—to your foreign wives! Farewell to your pagan ways. “A jar of wax.” said Ahimaaz.

At his side was Asaf.” “Perhaps it’s time for our retirement gift. “We feel they are excessive.” said the leader of the elders. “Amazing.” said Benaiah. they regaled the guests with song. “That’s correct. “Father. I shall devote myself to research. Two lenses were mounted in a wire framework. “It’s a pair of spectacles that I’ve devised. he sat down and began to fill a plate with food.” said Ab-hiram. “So you’re asking me to reduce your taxes?” said Reho- boam. “But let’s get on with the party. • Rehoboam was slouched on the throne.” “Sounds fascinating. Prince Rehoboam.” Solomon donned the spectacles and peered at the instructions. He regarded it with puzzlement. You’ll be inheriting both my throne and my most vocal critic. Finding an empty place at one of the tables.” The Singing Guards assembled on the balcony. “He comes with the territory.      The prophet snorted in disgust and walked off. Get used to it. “It will be about Atlantis. The history and wisdom of that vanished land. “You wear them on your head and they make reading eas- ier. why do you tolerate this man?” asked Reho- boam.” said Benaiah. For I intend to retire to a life of scholarship.”  . who produced a small wooden case and passed it down the table to Solomon. Solomon shrugged. And as the feast continued. Just what I shall be needing. Time for some topnotch entertainment. A delegation of tribal elders stood before them. The instructions are on the case. Solomon opened it and withdrew a curious object.” “May we inquire as to its subject?” asked Ab-hiram. He nodded to Ab-hiram. and to writing a book. Being denounced by prophets is included in the job description.

and stacks of paper. “You’ve got to be tough with them. My father also chastised you with whips. A place that never was. Affixed to the wall was a map of Atlantis. “I’ve got a question.”* • Solomon was sitting at a desk in the Tower of Learning. “Forgive my ignorance. as some people say? A legend with no factual basis.” he said. who urged him to accede to the request—in order to win the loyalty of the tribes.” This ill-advised response precipitated the revolt of the north- ern tribes and the division of the kingdom. Murmuring their dis- may. Look at these many books I’ve gathered. The history of its kings—the teachings of its priests—the * The Book of Kings has this version of the incident: A delegation from the northern tribes met with Rehoboam and petitioned him for a reduction of taxes and of forced labor. “Yes?” said Solomon. Benaiah walked over to the map and regarded it quizzi- cally. until it sank into the sea. the delegation filed out of the throne room. Rehoboam turned to Asaf. But was there really an Atlantis? Or is it just a myth.” said Solomon.” he said to the vizier. I’m going to have to increase your taxes. but I will chastise you with scorpions.  . but I’ve learned that.” He dismissed them with a wave. tablets.  “Those funds are needed. codices. Wearing his spectacles. But instead he followed the counsel of younger advisers and told the northerners: “My father made your yoke heavy.” Solomon gave him a peeved look. “Of course there was an Atlantis. I’m sorry but it’s necessary. “Any minute now. They’re filled with lore about Atlantis. “Is it here yet?” he asked. looking up from the scroll. The door opened and Benaiah came in. Solomon was reading a scroll. and I will add to your yoke. “I’ve been on the throne less than a month. In fact. The newly crowned king consulted first with his older advisers. It was piled with scrolls.

there is no archeological or documen- tary evidence—only the account in the Bible. Magee writes on his Web site: “Respectable historians do not refer times in history to mythical figures or places. Don’t bite my head off. But the originals probably still exist. for goodness sake. he is a legendary figure with only the most tenuous connection (if any) with a historical personage. Think of it. Contemptuous of historians who speak of “the time of Solomon. For David and Solo- mon’s existence. It’s incredible. And there’s just too much information here to have been made up. that’s what they’re going to say. This stuff has the feel of fact.” In short. These scholars have expressed doubt as to the historicity of much of the Bible. Yet these biblical fig- ures. they say. Someday—thousands of years from now.D. when this palace of ours has crumbled to dust—people will no doubt wonder: Was there really an ancient Israel and a holy Temple? Did King David actually exist? Was Solomon a real person? Or were these total fic- tions? Or perhaps legends with some slight basis in fact? Believe me. Atlantis was as real a kingdom as Israel.” “So these books actually came from Atlantis?” “Not physically. are no less mythical. document.  . There’s even a collection of their jokes. They do not talk of the ‘time of Hercules’ and we can be certain that any historian that spoke of the ‘time of Atlantis’ would be instantly dismissed or certified. According to the revisionists.”* * Solomon was prescient. whom they deem to be wholly or largely fictional. not a historical. M.      wisdom of its sages. Benaiah. and the Bible is a literary. an indepen- dent scholar.” “I was just asking. But it’s amazing to me how people become skeptical about the past. King Solomon belongs in the same class as King Arthur. In recent years a group of revision- ist historians have done him a disservice. They’re Egyptian and Babylonian translations. Magee. Representative of their views is Dr.” “Sorry. Among the targets of their skepticism are King David and King Solo- mon.” Dr. Believe me. no. They insist that the stories about these kings are nationalistic fictions —the creation of latter-day propagandists. David and Solomon.

 . “Here it comes. “This is the life. the Wind came rushing through the window. The two of them sat down.  Just then the papers on his desk were lifted by a breeze. And all at once. The breeze grew in intensity. Solomon secured them with a paperweight. Onto the table it depos- ited steaming platters of Chinese food. and dug in.” he said. Benaiah cleared the table. while Solomon draped a blan- ket over his books and papers.” said King Solomon. took up their chopsticks.

Good luck to you. Help him to meet its challenges. Bathsheba and Rehoboam  . and its burdens. what can I say? You gave me a lifetime of maternal love—there can be no more precious gift. who would like to see you. refrain. May we send them in?” Solomon nodded his assent. And keep ’s commandments.” said Solomon. Number Two: When in doubt. “So I have asked the two of you to come and see me off. “My son. that you and the nation may prosper.” she said. “As you have honored the memory of your late father—with strength and wisdom—so shall Rehoboam honor you. Mother. King Solomon lay propped up in bed.” “I hope so. But what’s the hour? Has the cock crowed? Or does he delay. shall be placed upon your head. Gaunt and pale.” said Bathsheba. He turned to Rehoboam. A night breeze rustled the curtains. It’s that simple—though yes.” Bathsheba smiled sadly. And Number Three: Delegate authority! My father left me with that advice. “Yet oth- ers wait outside your door. I implore you to transfer that affection to your grandson here. Abide by that and you can’t go wrong. Number One: He governs best who governs least. Now the real thing begins. he wore a nightshirt that resembled a shroud. it’s been invaluable and I pass it on to you. He has a dif- ficult road ahead. “I sense that the end is near. “You needn’t worry about Reho- boam. there are exceptions.   Demise T         . At his side were Bathsheba and Rehoboam. This crown. you’ve had two years of apprentice- ship—ruling with me as consultant. So I want to leave you with my Three Tips for Governing.” said Solomon in a doubtful tone. that he may announce my passing?” “It’s the middle of the night. When I go.

embraced him and departed the chamber. A moment later
Asaf came in.
“Your Highness,  be with you,” said the vizier.
“Approach, Asaf, and let me glimpse your loyal face.
Always so reassuring! You have served me well for many
years. And listen here, you can continue to serve me. How?
Be a watchdog unto Rehoboam. Alas, the prince is a para-
gon—not of excellence but of excess. Keep a close watch on
him and act as a counterweight—a source of prudence and
good sense. Dissuade him from the worst of his follies. Do
you follow me? And one thing more. Make sure that my
ring gets buried with me. It must not be passed on. Its pow-
ers, I fear, would be abused.”*
“Your wish is my command,” said Asaf. He bowed and
exited the chamber.
After a moment Zadok shuffled in. The elderly High
Priest approached a sofa and said a prayer over it. Then he
became aware of Solomon lying in the bed.
“O there you are, over there,” said Zadok. He shuffled
over to the bed, repeated the prayer, and departed.
Then Tutmosa came gliding in. The Egyptian princess
was carrying a censer of incense.
“I bring you the blessing of Hathor,” she said, “to ease
your transformation into a heavenly orb. Soon you shall be
a star, fixed forever in the sky!”
“Twinkle, twinkle,” murmured Solomon.
Tutmosa placed the censer on a table, chanted a prayer,
and glided out. A moment later Ahimaaz entered.
Solomon strained to see who it was. “Is that you, Ahi-
maaz? Aye, it is—the chronicler of the life of Solomon. I
hope you’ve not yet writ ‘Finis’ to your book. For I’m still
kicking—though barely. More like twitching.”
“One greater than this poor scribe is the Author of your
* In his monumental History of the Jews, Heinrich Graetz con-
firms that the ring was not passed on: “The Israelite kingdom,
reared into greatness by Solomon, was like a world of magic
upbuilt by powerful genii. The magic vanished with his death.
He did not bequeath to his son his magic ring.” (:)


    
life,” said Ahimaaz.
“Well said, my friend. But for years now you have duti-
fully chronicled my fortunes. You have served me with an
able and honest pen. Yet there is much to which you have
not been privy. Some of that I am going to make available
to you, to enhance therewith your history. Listen now.
When I’m gone, have Joseph go into the right-hand drawer
of my desk and give you the notebook that’s there. Use the
material it contains as you see fit. Also, there’s a slip of paper
tucked into the notebook. It has the address of Madame
Reeza. She’s a medium. If you have any questions, get in
touch with me. I’ll try to answer them.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty,” said Ahimaaz. “I shall strive
to make my account of your life as complete as possible.”
He bowed and exited.
Next to enter was Ahijah. The prophet approached the
bed and glared at Solomon. “Are you ready to repent?” he
asked. “To forswear your iniquities?”
“Please, leave me alone.”
Ahijah muttered an epithet and departed.
Then Asmodeus strolled in. Clad in pajamas and smok-
ing jacket, the king of the jinn was sipping from a goblet.
“Solomon, listen here,” he said. “I have an idea. The
Angel of Death has you on his list. But we can outsmart
him! As you know, he has no power over me. So here’s what
we do. When he’s about to arrive, I’ll assume your appear-
ance—I’ll perform that illusion again. Then you go hide in
the closet, while I take your place in the bed. Death will
come in the window and take me instead of you. He’ll ride
off with a substitute! By the time he apprehends the switch,
it’ll be too late. I’ll just laugh and skedaddle. And he’ll have
to wait a year before returning—that’s the rule on botched
pickups. What do you say? It’ll be a capital prank!”
“It’s very kind of you to offer.”
“Self-interest really. Your son doesn’t like me and intends to
boot me from the palace. But I enjoy it here. I want to stay.”
“Thank you, Asmodeus, but no. My tenure in this world
is about to expire. I’ll not resist.”


“Suit yourself. But if you change your mind, I’m available.”
Asmodeus exited. And Joseph came in. He and Solomon
“My boyhood friend and fellow scholar!” said Solomon.
“Farewell, dear Joseph. Two things I’d like you to do for me.
First, my book on Atlantis is nearly finished. Please, com-
plete it for me and have copies made. The wisdom of the
Atlanteans must be disseminated. And second, the Tower
of Learning. My collection of books must not be allowed to
languish and gather dust. Open the Tower to scholars from
around the world. Make it a library to rival that of Heli-
opolis. Let knowledge thrive.”
“I shall make the Tower a beacon of light,” said Joseph.
“But the place won’t be the same, with its chief reader absent
from his desk. How I shall miss our discussions!”
“We can continue them. Contact me through Madame
Reeza. Goodbye, Joseph.”
With a mournful sigh, Joseph left the chamber. A moment
later Benaiah entered.
“Good and faithful Benaiah,” said Solomon, clasping his
hand. “You’ve been with me from the start.”
“Indeed I have, Sire. I recall the day your father made me
Captain of the Guard. You were just a lad. And I was not
much more—a young recruit, newly arrived in Jerusalem,
with no ambition save to serve the crown.”
“We’ve had our times together. What can I say? You’ve
been like a brother to me, Benaiah. And a proper brother—
not coveting my throne like the others. Farewell.”
“Adieu, King Solomon,” said Benaiah. With a muffled
sob, he departed.
The chamber fell silent. The curtains billowed in the
breeze. Solomon murmured and closed his eyes.
The lamp began to flicker.*
* According to an Arabian legend, the Angel of Death has a
workshop. It is located within a vast cave in the desert. The cave
has many chambers. Some of them are lined with shelves, full of
urns and bottles. These contain demons, poisons, noxious winds,
and other deadly agents, which the Angel of Death lets loose into


    

In the throne room the court was keeping vigil. Whispers
were exchanged. Rumors passed from one end of the torch-
lit hall to the other. Women were weeping. The mood was
somber and subdued.
Suddenly a hush fell upon the gathering. The court
physician had entered and was speaking to Asaf. Then he
turned and addressed the court.
“I am sorry to report that King Solomon has passed
away,” said the physician. “The illness afflicting him has
borne its bitter fruit. He is no more. The King is dead.”
“And his last words?” asked Rehoboam. “Did he confirm
the succession?”
“His Majesty did speak at the very end. Just before giv-
ing up the ghost, he seemed to gaze into the distance. Then
softly—yet distinctly—he repeated a female name. ‘Naamah,’
he said. ‘Naamah.’ And with that, he died.”
“Naamah?” said Rehoboam. “Who would that be? I’ve
never heard the name.”
“Nor I,” said Asaf.
The physician shrugged. “It’s a mystery, I guess.”
“Mystery?” shouted Ahijah. “No mystery at all! Obvi-
ously the name of some goddess. With his dying breath, he
calls upon her. An idolater to the end!”
Asaf gave him a reproachful look.
A: Enough, O prophet. Have you no sense of shame?
It is a time for mourning, not for slander;
the world. In other chambers are countless tables, filled with oil
lamps of different shapes and sizes. Many of the lamps burn
brightly; others have a weak flame; and some are sputtering—
about to go out. Each lamp corresponds to the life of a person. It
is the responsibility of the angel Gabriel to keep the lamps filled
and lit. However, he is unable to keep up with the job. And
whenever a lamp goes out, that person dies. Whereupon, the
Angel of Death shrugs, says “Not my fault,” and disposes of the
lamp, tossing it onto a pile outside the cave.


A time for tears and wailing in the street.
Tomorrow we shall gather in this hall
For rites of passage that together go:
A coronation and a funeral.
We are the victims of a grievous theft.
A king has died. His subjects are bereft.

A huge black horse was galloping through the night. As
it followed the highway, it raised clouds of dust yet made
no sound.
Riding the horse was the Angel of Death. Slung over his
shoulder was the soul of King Solomon.
Solomon opened his eyes. “Where am I?” he asked.
“You’re in the custody of Death. I’m taking you to the
Other World.”
“I see.”
“Try to relax. We’ll be there soon.”
Solomon seemed to be thinking. Then he asked: “Do we
have time to make a brief stop on the way?”
“Possibly. Where?”
“At the town of Luz. I’ll just be a minute.”
The Angel of Death scowled at him. “Do you take me
for a fool? We’ll not be stopping at Luz!”
They continued along the highway, swiftly and silently.
The surrounding hills glimmered in the moonlight. Some-
where a dog began to howl.
“Listen, Death, I have something to tell you,” said Solo-
“What’s that?”
“You’ve slipped up. I’m not King Solomon.”
“Huh? You’re not?”
“No, I’m Asmodeus, king of the jinn. As a favor to Solo-
mon, I took on his appearance. You’ll have to wait a year
now—that’s the rule.”
“I’m aware of no such rule. And how do I know you’re Asmo-
deus? What are you try to pull? You’re Solomon, all right!”


    

“Okay, you’ve got the right man. Just a joke. Sorry.”
“This is no time for foolery. Don’t you understand? You’re
deceased—you’re on your way to the Other World.”
“Where exactly are we headed?”
“To the Cave of Radiant Mist. On Mount Gerizim. That’s
the entranceway.”
“So not the smoking pit. That’s a relief.”
The Angel of Death spurred his horse. And they gal-
loped along the highway.
Solomon was thinking again. Finally he said: “Listen, I
have a question about the Other World. I was once sub-
jected to a powerful illusion. It lasted only a few minutes.
But during those minutes, I experienced ten years of an


imagined life. Ten full years. In that life I was an exile named
Shlomo. I had a wife and family that I loved—a comfortable
home and good job—a deeply satisfying existence. I was an
ordinary fellow and a contented one—for ten years!
“Then abruptly it ended. I snapped back to reality. Once
again I was King Solomon of Israel. And my life as Shlomo
—my wife, my daughters, my home—everything vanished
as if it had never been. Yet that imagined life had been real
to me. I experienced it. I lived it, hour by hour, day after day.
In effect, it was real.
“So here’s my question. Will that family of mine exist in
the Other World? Will I be reunited with them?”
“I don’t see why not,” said the Angel of Death. “That
imagined life was an illusion; but so, in a sense, was your
real life. Both were dreams—insubstantial pageants! Your
true life lies ahead of you.”
“So there’s hope for a reunion?”
“I would assume so. But I’m no expert. Wait and see.”
Mount Gerizim had appeared on the horizon, silhou-
etted against the night sky. And they were soon passing
through foothills and climbing the mountain.
They came to a cave. Inside it swirled a luminous mist.
The Angel of Death halted his horse and whistled.
“What happens now?” asked Solomon.
“There will emerge an angel, known as the Greeter. He’ll
take you inside and get you registered.”
“Will I go straight into Paradise?”
“I’m afraid not. There’s a period of transition, in which
to confront your sins and be purged of them. During that
period you’ll be staying in a dormitory room.”
“No, you’ll have a roommate. You’ll be sharing a room
with King Arthur, I believe.”
“Who’s King Arthur?”
“A chieftain from the British Isles. But here’s the Greeter
The Angel of Death lowered Solomon to the ground and
helped him to stand.


    
And the Greeter, smiling beatifically, took his hand and
led him into the Cave of Radiant Mist.

Hundreds of mourners had crowded into the throne
room. Standing beside the casket, Asaf delivered the funeral

A: In this somber chest a treasure lies.
Not gold nor silver nor resplendent gems;
Rather, a man—more precious and more bright.
O if our miners could but excavate
From out the earth such opulence as this,
We’d be a nation rich beyond compare.
For gold is dross, silver is mere clay,
Emeralds are bits of colored glass
Beside this king. His glory did eclipse
The sunlike grandee who in Egypt rules:
Pharaoh in his gold-embroidered robe.
Yet not in velvet, nor in fancy silk,
Nor in such frocks as Persian potentates
Vainly sport, like peacocks on parade,
Did this modest monarch garb himself.
Rather, in the raiment of the soul—
In wisdom, virtue, grace and piety.
These were the priceless garments that he wore
And which, his people hope, he did bequeath
Unto his son, who does the crown now bear.
Let us then, racked with grief and sorrow,
Bear his body to the royal tomb.
There it shall David serve as company:
A father and a son, entombed as one.
For the ages was this gentle king;
Let future poets of his glory sing.
Today our tears shall mutely testify
To what was lost, when Solomon did die.
Bear him away.


Asaf nodded to the Singing Guards. They lifted the cas-
ket and bore it from the hall.*
* The location of King Solomon’s tomb has not been deter-
mined. Some scholars believe it to have been near the southeast-
ern wall of the city; others, in a vault directly beneath the palace.
The Book of Kings tells us only that “Solomon slept with his
fathers [i.e., died peaceably], and was buried in the city of David
his father; and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead.”
Or (like his roommate King Arthur) was he entombed in a moun-
tain, to which he had been borne by jinn?
So The Arabian Nights would have us believe. In “The Adven-
tures of Bulukiya,” Shahrazad relates the tale of Affan and Buluk-
iya—two men who sought out the mountain tomb of Solomon.
They intended to take the ring from his finger and enjoy its pow-
ers. Here is what happened:
“They entered the passes of the mountain and walked on, till
they saw from afar a cavern surmounted by a great dome, shin-
ing with light. So they made for the cavern, and entering it
beheld therein a throne of gold studded with all manner jewels
….And they saw lying at full length upon the throne our lord
Solomon, clad in robes of green silk inwoven with gold and broi-
dered with jewels and precious minerals: his right hand was
passed over his breast and on the middle finger was the seal-ring
whose lustre outshone that of all other gems in the place. Then
Affan taught Bulukiya adjurations and conjurations galore and
said to him:—Repeat these conjurations and cease not repeating
until I take the ring. Then he went up to the throne; but, as he
drew near unto it lo! a mighty serpent came forth from beneath
it and cried out at him with so terrible a cry that the whole place
trembled and sparks flew from its mouth, saying, Begone, or thou
art a dead man! But Affan busied himself with his incantations
and suffered himself not to be startled thereby. Then the serpent
blew such a fiery blast at him, that the place was like to be set on
fire, and said to him, Woe to thee! Except thou turn back, I will
consume thee! Hearing these words Bulukiya left the cave, but
Affan, who suffered himself not to be troubled, went up to the
Prophet [Solomon]: then he put out his hand to the ring and
touched it and strove to draw it off the lord Solomon’s finger; and
behold, the serpent blew on him once more and he became a
heap of ashes. Such was his case; but as regards Bulukiya he fell
down in a swoon.”

” “Bring on the elixir! Bring on my youth! And I shall con- tinue to serve you. the pair departed Jerusalem and rode eastward. The better to enjoy the pleasures that shall be our daily fare. Sire. “Assuming that our days shall be as you described. Sire—for many years to come. the fascinating legal cases. I am. Winding along the side of a hill.” said Borak.” “O they shall be. My brand of wisdom. the palace. The huddled houses. women. And I shall give you that elixir to drink.  . the cultural events.” said Asmodeus. Wine. and the Temple glinted in the sun. they halted for a final look at the city they were leaving behind. quicken your step. and make you a young man again—in every respect. You’re sure that you wish to accompany me there?” “Aye.” And they rode on towards the mountains of Bashan. “The energy.      • On a single horse. “I shall miss the court of King Solomon. It will ungray your hair. But it’s time now to return to my own palace. and song—that’s how we shall live.

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