Random Quote #63 topic: hebraic, Translations from the Talmud, Midrashim and Kabbala
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This story cannot fail to remind those who are conversant with
Herodotus or Schiller of the legend of King Polycrates, which
dates back five or six centuries before the present era.
Polycrates, the king of Samos, was one of the most fortunate of
men, and everything he took in hand was fabled to prosper. This
unbroken series of successes caused disquietude to his friends,
who saw in the circumstance foreboding of some dire disaster;
till Amasis, king of Egypt, one of the number advised him to
spurn the favor of fortune by throwing away what he valued
dearest. The most valuable thing he possessed was an emerald
signet-ring, and this accordingly he resolved to sacrifice. So,
manning a galley, he rowed out to the sea, and threw the ring
away into the waste of the waters. Some five or six days after
this, a fisherman came to the palace and made the king a present
of a very fine fish that he had caught. This the servants
proceeded to open, when, to their surprise, they came upon a
ring, which on examination proved to be the very ring which had
been cast away by the king their master. (See Herodotus, book
iii.)

Among the many legends that have clustered round the memory of
Solomon, there is one which reads very much like an adaptation
of this classic story. The version the Talmud gives of this
story is quoted in another part of this Miscellany (chap. vi.
No. 8, note), but in Emek Hammelech, fol. 14, col. 4, we have
the legend in another form, with much amplitude and variety of
detail, of which we can give here only an outline. When the
building of the Temple was finished, the king of the demons
begged Solomon to set him free from his service, and promised in
return to teach him a secret he would be sure to value. Having
cajoled Solomon out of possession of his signet-ring, he first
flung the ring into the sea, where it was swallowed by a fish,
and then taking up Solomon himself, he cast him into a foreign
land some four hundred miles away, where for three weary long
years he wandered up and down like a vagrant, begging his bread
from door to door. In the course of his rambles he came to Mash
Kemim, and was so fortunate as to be appointed head cook at the
palace of the king of Ammon (Ana Hanun, see 1 Kings xii. 24;
LXX.). While employed in this office, Naama, the king's daughter
(see 1 Kings xiv. 21, 31, and 2 Chron. xii. 13), fell in love
with him, and, determining to marry him, eloped with him for
refuge to a distant land. One day as Naama was preparing a fish
for dinner, she found in it a ring, and this turned cut to be
the very ring which the king of the demons had flung into the
sea, and the loss of which had bewitched the king out of his
power and dominion. In the recovery of the ring the king both
recovered himself and the throne of his father David.

The occurrence of a fish and a ring on the arms of the city of
Glasgow memorializes a legend in which we find the same singular
combination of circumstances. A certain queen of the district
one day gave her paramour a golden ring which the king her
husband had committed to her charge as a keepsake. By some means
or other the king got to know of the whereabouts of the ring,
and cleverly contriving to secure possession of it, threw it
into the sea. He then went straight to the queen and demanded to
know where it was and what she had done with it. The queen in
her distress repaired to St. Kentigern, and both made full
confession of her guilt and her anxiety about the recovery of
the ring, that she might regain the lost favor of her husband.
The saint set off at once to the Clyde, and there caught a
salmon and the identical ring in the mouth of it. This he handed
over to the queen, who returned it to her lord with such
expressions of penitence that the restoration of it became the
bond and pledge between them of a higher and holier wedlock.

There were thirteen horn-shaped collecting-boxes, and thirteen tables,
and thirteen devotional bowings in the Temple service. Those who
belonged to the houses of Rabbi Gamliel and of Rabbi Chananiah, the
president of the priests, bowed fourteen times. This extra act of bowing
was directed to the quarter of the wood store, in consequence of a
tradition they inherited from their ancestors that the Ark of the
Covenant was hidden in that locality. The origin of the tradition was
this:--A priest, being once engaged near the wood store, and observing
that part of the plaster differed from the rest, went to tell his
companions, but died before he had time to relate his discovery. Thus it
became known for certain that the Ark was hidden there.

THE TALMUD, _Shekalim_ chap. 3, hal, 1.



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