Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 9.djvu/39

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ⅩⅧ, 76-81.
the chapter of the cave.

the people thereof for food ; but they refused to entertain them. And they found therein a wall which wanted[1] to fall to pieces, and he set it upright Said (Moses), ‘ Hadst thou pleased thou mightst certainly have had a hire for this.’

Said he, ‘ This is the parting between me and thee. I will give thee the interpretation of that with which thou couldst not have patience. As for the bark it belonged to poor people, who toiled on the sea, and I wished to damage it, for behind it was a king who seized on every bark[2] by force. And as for the youth, his parents were believers, and we feared lest he should impose upon them rebellion and misbelief. 80 So we desired that their Lord would give them in exchange a better one than him in purity, and nearer in filial affection. And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan youths in the city, and beneath it was a treasure belonging to them both, and their father was a righteous man, and their Lord desired that they should reach puberty, and then take out their treasure as a mercy from thy Lord ; and I did it not on my own bidding. That is the interpretation of what thou couldst not have patience with[3].’

  1. The expression wanted to fall is colloquial in Arabic as well as in English. Bâidhâvî says, ‘ the expression wanting to is in this case figuratively used for being on the point of.’
  2. That is, every whole or sound ship.
  3. For this legend there appears to be no ancient authority whatever ; the Mohammedan commentators merely expand it, and say that El ʿHidhr (a mythical personage, who is identified with the prophet Elias, St. George, and the prime minister of Alexander the Great) had disappeared in search of the water of immortality. Moses was inspired to search for him, and told that he would find him by a rock where two seas met, and where he should lose a fish