Myths and Legends of Babylonia and Assyria
Page: 20A Persian Version
The Persian Mussulmans allege that the Patriarch, who was born in Chaldea, after God had manifested himself to him, proceeded to Mecca, and built the celebrated Kaaba or temple there. When he returned home he publicly declared himself the Prophet of God, and specially announced it to Nimrod, King of Chaldea, who was a worshipper of fire. Abram met Nimrod at a town in Mesopotamia, called Urga, afterwards Caramit, and now Diarbekr, in which was a large temple consecrated[Pg 53] to fire, and publicly entreated the King to renounce his idolatry and worship the true God. Nimrod consulted his wise men and inquired what punishment such a blasphemer deserved, and they advised that he should be consigned to the flames. A pile of wood was ordered to be prepared and Abram was placed upon it, but to their astonishment it would not kindle. Nimrod asked the priests the cause of this phenomenon, and they replied that an angel was constantly flying about the pile and preventing the wood from burning. The King asked how the angel could be driven away, and they replied that it could only be done by some dreadful rite. Their advice was followed, but the angel still persisted, and Nimrod at length banished Abram from his dominions.
The Mussulmans also relate that the King made war against the Patriarch, and when he was marching against him, he sent a person to him with this message—"O Abram! it is now time to fight; where is thy army?" Abram answered, "It will come immediately;" and immediately there appeared an immense sun-darkening cloud of gnats, which devoured Nimrod's soldiers to the very bones.
Another tradition is preserved in the East, specially referring to the casting of Abram into a fiery furnace at Babylon by order of Nimrod, which seems to be a corrupted story of the deliverance of the three Hebrews recorded by Daniel—Nimrod merely substituted for Nebuchadrezzar, as no evidence exists that Abram ever was at Babylon. "Nimrod," it is said, "in a dream saw a star rising above the horizon, the light of which eclipsed that of the sun." The soothsayers who were consulted foretold that a child was to be born[Pg 54] in Babylon who shortly would become a great prince, and that he (Nimrod) had reason to fear him. Terrified at this answer, Nimrod gave orders to search for such an infant. Notwithstanding this precaution, however, Adna, the wife of Azar, one of Nimrod's guards, hid her child in a cave, the mouth of which she diligently closed, and when she returned she told her husband that it had perished.
Adna, in the meantime, proceeded regularly to the cave to nurse the infant, but she always found him suckling the ends of his fingers, one of which furnished him milk and the other honey. This miracle surprised her, and as her anxiety for the child's welfare was thus greatly relieved, and as she saw that Heaven had undertaken the care, she merely satisfied herself with visiting him from time to time. She soon perceived that he grew as much in three days as common children do in a month, so that fifteen moons had scarcely passed before he appeared as if he were fifteen years of age. Adna now told her husband, Azar, that the son of whom she had been delivered, and whom she had reported dead, was living, and that God had provided miraculously for his subsistence. Azar went immediately to the cave, where he found his son, and desired his mother to convey him to the city, as he was resolved to present him to Nimrod and place him about the court.