Page:Legends of Old Testament Characters.djvu/178

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descendants of Abraham maxims to be written on their phylacteries and shoe-latchets; and the promise was made, "Over Edom will I cast out my shoe;"[1] that is, Edom, the most cruel oppressor of the chosen people, should fall under the condemnation of the Most High.

The end of Nimrod and his confederate kings is related with greater fulness by the Mussulman historians.

According to Tabari, God sent an army of flies against the host of Chedorlaomer and Nimrod, and these flies attacked the soldiers in their faces; and the flies were so numerous that the soldiers could not see one another; and the horses stung by them went mad, and leaped, and fell; so that, what with the horses and the flies, the army was entirely dispersed. Nimrod escaped to Babylon, but he was pursued by the meanest of the gnats of that host; it was blind of one eye and lame of one leg. When Nimrod sat down on his throne, the gnat settled upon his knee. Then the tyrant smote at it; and it rose, flew up one of his nostrils and entered his brain, which it began to devour.

Nimrod beat his face and his head, and when he did so the fly ceased gnawing at his brain, but he had no repose from his agonies, save when struck upon the head. Consequently there was, after that, always some one stationed by him to strike his head. The king had a large blacksmith's hammer brought into his throne-room, and with that his princes and nobles smote him on the head; and the more violent the blow, the greater was the relief afforded. Nimrod reigned a thousand years before he felt the torment of the gnat; up to that moment he had suffered no pains. He lived for five hundred years with the fly eating at his brain; and all that while, night and day, there were relays of men to strike his head with the hammer.[2]

Precisely the same story is told by the Jewish Rabbis of Titus.[3]

There is, however, another version of the tradition; which is, that the gnat fattening on the brain grew in size till it swelled to the dimensions of a pigeon, and then the skull of Nimrod burst, and the gnat flew away; and this was fifteen days after it had entered by his nose.[4]

More shall be told of Melchizedek in a separate article.

  1. Ps. ix. 8.
  2. Tabari, i. c. xlviii.
  3. Gittin, fol. 56 b; Pirke of R. Eliezer, fol. 49.
  4. Weil, p. 80.