The Sources of the Koran


What Did Muhammad Borrow from Judaism?

Abraham Geiger

IN THE CASE OF ANY SINGLE INSTANCE of borrowing, the proof that the passage is really of Jewish origin must rest on two grounds. First, it must be shown to exist in Judaism, and to prove this we have every facility. Secondly, in order to attain to certainty we must prove that it is really borrowed, i.e., that it is not founded on anything in old Arabian tradition, which Muhammad used largely as a foundation though he disputed some points. Then again we must show that it had its origin in Judaism and not in Christianity. For the complete discussion of the last two points it would be necessary to write two treatises similar to the one on which I am now engaged, of which the respective subjects would be—(1) the points of contact between Islam and the ancient tradition of the Arabs, and (2) the points of contact between Islam and Christianity; and only in this way could certainty on these points be attained. But these investigations would, on the one hand, lead us too far away from our particular subject, and, on the other, they would require a much more exact treatment than could be given while handling our main subject. Then, too, they are made unnecessary by the means which we use in each individual case, and which will be shown in the different divisions of the work; so that on most points we can without them attain to a high degree of probability, practically sufficient for all scientific purposes. For the sake of clearness, it may be well to divide the material borrowed from Judaism into thoughts belonging to it, and narratives taken from it, and later we shall have to subdivide again.

Originally published as part of Judaism and Islam (Madras, 1898).


The new thoughts borrowed by one religion from another are of a twofold nature. Either they are radically new, there being hitherto in the borrowing not even a foreshadowing of them, so that the very conceptions are new, and require accordingly new words for their expression; or else the component parts of these thoughts have long been in existence but not in this combination, the form in which these conceptions are blended being a novel one, and the view, therefore, which arises from this unusual presentation being new. We must therefore divide this chapter according to these distinctions.


As the ushering in of hitherto unknown religious conceptions is always marked by the introduction of new words for their expression, and as the Jews in Arabia, even when able to speak Arabic, kept to the rabbinical Hebrew names for their religious conceptions, so words which from their derivation are shown to be not Arabic but Hebrew, or better still Rabbinic, must be held to prove the Jewish origin of the conceptions expressed. The passage already quoted about the foreign language spoken by those who were accused of helping Muhammad in writing the Koran seems to point to the use among the Jews of a language other than Arabic. The object of this chapter is to enumerate the words which have passed from rabbinical Hebrew into the Koran, and so into the Arabic language.

Tabut, Ark. The termination ut is a fairly certain evidence that the word is not of Arabic but of rabbinical Hebrew origin; for this dialect of Hebrew has adopted in the place of other endings this termination, which is very common also in Chaldaic and Syriac; and I venture to assert that no pure Arabic word ends in this way. Our word appears in two different passages with two different meanings: first, where the mother of Moses is told to put her son into an ark,1 the signification being here purely Hebrew; but from this it arose that the ark of the covenant was also called by this name. It is used thus especially2 in the sense of coming before the ark in prayer. In the second sura3 we kind it mentioned as a sign of the rightful ruler that through him the ark of the covenant4 should return.

Taurat, the Law.5 This word like the Greek equivalent in the New Testament is used only for the Jewish revelation; and although Muhammad, having only oral tradition, was not able to distinguish so exactly, yet it is obvious that he comprehended the Pentateuch alone under this name;6 for among the Jewish prophets after the patriarchs he counts Moses alone as a lawgiver. For the most part the Law is mentioned in connection with the Gospel.7

Jannatu ‘Adn, Paradise. The word “‘add” is not known in the Arabia language in the sense of pleasure or happiness, but this is the meaning which suits the word in this connection.8 In Hebrew this is the radical meaning; still this expression, viz., Garden of Eden, which occurs often in the Bible, is never to be explained out and out as Paradise; but rather Eden is there the proper name of a region which was inhabited by our first parents in their innocence, and the part in which they actually lived was a garden of trees. It is only natural that this earthly region of the golden age should by degrees have come to be regarded as Paradise, in that the word itself no longer stands for the name of a place but is applied to a state of bliss,9 though the Jews still held to Eden as a locality also. It is clear from the translation “gardens of pleasure” that the Jews of that time not merely transferred the name Eden into Arabic, but carried over its supposed etymology as well. The more distinctively Christian name10 occurs seldom in the Koran, though it also is not quite strange to later Judaism, as is shown by the story of the four who went alive to Paradise.11

Jahannam, Hell. This word also, like its opposite Paradise, is of Jewish origin. According to its primary meaning and biblical usage it too is the name of a place, though of a locality far less important than that which gave its name to Paradise. The vale of Hinnom was nothing more than a spot dedicated to idol worship; and it is remarkable that the horror of idolatry led to the use of its name to designate hell. That this is the ordinary name for it in the Talmud needs no proof, and from it is derived the New Testament name Gehenna. Now, it might be asserted that Muhammad got this word from the Christians; but, even setting aside the argument that, as the name for Paradise is Jewish the probabilities are in favor of a Jewish origin for the word for hell also, the form of the word itself speaks for its derivation from Judaism. We lay no stress on the fact that the aspirate he, which is not expressed in the Greek, reappears in the Arabic, because this aspirate though not always indicated by grammarians in writing, appears to have been always sounded in speech. This holds good of other Greek words which have passed into Syriac.12 The letter mim, which stands at the end of the Arabic (Jahannam), not being found in the Syriac word, proves the derivation from the Hebrew word (Gehinnom). The word is found in many places in the Koran.13

Ahbar.14 This word is found in several places in the Koran in the sense of teacher. Now the real Hebrew word habher, companion, has acquired in the Mishna a meaning similar to that of parush, only that the latter was the name of a sect, and the former the name of a party within a sect. The word parush means, properly speaking, one separated, i.e., one who withdraws himself out of motives of piety, a Pharisee, as distinguished from one who grasps without scruple all the pleasures of this life, a Sadducee. Among those who were thus separated there grew up a difference from others not only in social customs, but especially in that they adopted a different doctrinal view, viz., a belief in oral tradition. They had also some very strict principles for the guidance of their lives. But the matter was no longer merely one of great carefulness in life and conduct; it became one of special learning and knowledge, which naturally could not be imparted in equal measure to all members of this sect. Hence these learned men, each of whom possessed some special knowledge, became greatly reverenced; and in this way again a community was formed in contradistinction to which the remaining people of the country were called the laity.15 The individual members of this community however were called habberim, “fellows;” and thus, though the meaning “teacher” is not, properly speaking, in the word itself, yet the peculiar development of this community is the cause of the new meaning of the word.

The excessive veneration paid to these “fellows” by the Jews gives rise to Muhammad’s reproof in the two passages last alluded to. He reproaches the Christians too in both places16 on account of the esteem in which they held the ruhban. This word ruhban is probably not derived from rahiba, to fear (thus god-fearing); but, like qissisun the word which accompanies it in sura V. 85, is to be derived from the Syriac, which language maintained its preeminence among the Christians in those regions; thus ruhban is derived from the Syriac word rabhoye, and qissisun from the Syriac qashishoye.

So then ruhban does not really mean the ordinary monks, who are called daire, but the clergy; whereas qissis stands for the presbyter, the elder, who is called qashisho in Syriac.

Dara.ra, to reach the deep meaning of the Scripture by exact and careful research. Such a diligent enquiry is mentioned in several passages.17 But this kind of interpretation, which is not content to accept the obvious and generally accepted meaning of a passage, but which seeks out remote allusions—this (though it may bring much of importance and value to light, if used with tact and knowledge of the limits of the profitable in such study) is very apt to degenerate and to become a mere laying of stress on the unimportant, a searching for meanings where there are none, and for allusions which are purely accidental. And so the word acquired a secondary meaning, viz., to trifle, to invent a meaning and force it into a passage. Compare the standing expression current among many who seek the simple primary meaning. The word in this usage occurs in the Koran, particularly in the mouth of Muhammad’s opponents; though until now this fact has not been recognized. The obviously misunderstood passage in sura VI. 105 is thus explained, also that in VI. 157. The former may be thus translated: “And when we variously explain our signs, they may say if they like: Thy explanations are far fetched, we will expound it to people of understanding”; and the latter as follows: “Lest ye should say: the Scriptures were only sent down unto two peoples before us, but we turn away from their system of forced explanation”; i.e., they have left the Scriptures to us so overlaid and distorted that we cannot follow them. It is remarkable that this word, which is not a usual one in the Koran, appears in this sense only in the sixth sura where it occurs twice; and this is evidence that just at the time of the composition of this sura the word in its secondary meaning was used by some persons as a reproach to Muhammad. This observation furthermore might well serve to indicate the unity of this sura.

Rabbani, teacher. This rabbinical word is probably formed by the addition of the suffix an (like nu) to the word rab, thus, our lord or teacher. For though the termination an is common in later Hebrew, yet the weaker word rabbi shows that people did not hesitate to append a suffix to the word rab, and then to treat the whole as a new word. However that may be, rabban is a word of itself now, and is only conferred as a title on the most distinguished teachers. The rabbinical rule runs thus “Greater than rabbi is rabban.” It appears as a title of honor in suras III. 73, V. 48, 68. Rabbani is evidently a word of narrower meaning than the word ahbar explained above; and this explains why rabbani is put before ahbar in the two passages last mentioned, where they both appear, and also the striking omission of our word in the other two places where ahbar occurs, and where Muhammad finds fault with the divine reverence paid to teachers, describing them with the more general word. The case is the same with qissis and ruhban. Both classes are mentioned with praise in sura V. 85, and with blame in sura IX. 31, 34, the latter class however only in connection with ahbar, in that ruhban (like ahbar) is of wider meaning: and further, on account of the combination in one passage of two different classes among the Jews and Christians, viz., the ahbar and the ruhban (cf. other similar combinations) no special differentiation was to be attempted.

Sabt,18 day of rest, Saturday. This name continued to be applied to Saturday throughout the East by Christians as well as Muslims, though it had ceased to be a day of rest.19 In one place20 Muhammad seems rather to protest against its being kept holy. The well-known Ben Ezra remarks on this in his commentary on Exodus xvi. 1, where he says: “In Arabic five days are named according to number, first day, second day, etc. But the sixth day is called the day of assembly, for it is the holy day of the week; the Sabbath however is called by the Arabs sabt, because the Shin and the Samech, (i.e., the Arabic sin which is pronounced like the Hebrew Samech) interchange in their writings. They have taken the word from Israel.”

Sakinat,21 the presence of God. In the development of Judaism in order to guard against forming too human an idea of the Godhead, it was customary to attribute the speaking of God, when it is mentioned in the Scripture, to a personified word of God,22 as it were embodying that emanation from the Deity which came in Christianity to a veritable Incarnation. In like manner also when in the Scriptures the remaining stationary, or the resting of God is mentioned, something sensible proceeding from Him is to be thought of. This is especially so in the case of God’s dwelling in the Temple;23 and this “emanation of the Godhead,” to adopt the speech of the Gnostics, was called on this account the Shekinah, the resting. From this derivation Shekinah came to be the word for that side of divine providence which, as it were, dwells among men and exerts an unseen influence among them. In the original meaning, viz. that of the presence in the temple over the Ark of the Covenant between the cherubim,24 the word is found in sura II. 249. In the sense of active interposition and visible effectual rendering of aid it occurs in sura IX. 26, 40;25 in the sense of supplying peace of mind and at the same time giving spiritual aid it is found in sura XLVIII. 4, 18, 26. It is remarkable that the word appears in three suras only (but several times in the two last mentioned) and with a somewhat different meaning in each; and it seems here again, as we remarked above on the word darasa, as though outside influence had been at work, i.e., that the use of this word by other people seems to have influenced Muhammad at the time of the composition of these suras.

Taghut, error. Though this mild word for idolatry is not found in the rabbinical writings,26 still the Jews in Arabia seem to have used it to denote the worship of false gods, for it appears in the Koran27 in this sense.

Furqan, deliverance,28 redemption. This is a very important word, and it is one which in my opinion has till now been quite misunderstood. In the primary meaning it occurs in the 8th sura: “O true believers; if ye fear God, He will grant you a deliverance29 and will expiate your sins, etc.” Elpherar gives five different explanations to this verse, each as unsuitable as Wahl’s translation, and the passage seems to me truly classical for the primary meaning of the word. This meaning appears also in sura VIII. 42, where the day of the victory of Badr is called the day of deliverance, and in sura II. 181 where this name is given to the month Ramadhan as the month of redemption and deliverance from sin. Muhammad, entirely diverging from Jewish ideas, intended to establish his religion as that of the world in general; further he condemned the earlier times altogether calling them times of ignorance.30 He declared his creed to have been revealed through God’s apostles from the earliest times, and to have been only renewed and put into a clearer and more convincing form by himself. Hence the condition of anyone outside his belief must have seemed to him a sinful one, and the divine revelation granted to himself and his predecessors appeared to him in the light of deliverance from that sinful life which could only lead to punishment; and therefore he calls revelation itself in many places furqan, as in many he calls it raḥmat, mercy. In some passages he applies the term to the Koran,31 and in others to the Mosaic revelation.32

In this way all the passages fit in under the primary signification of the word, and there is no need to guess at a different meaning for each.

Ma‘un, refuge. This word bears a very foreign impress, and is explained by the Arabic commentators in a variety of ways. Golius, following them, forces the most diverse meanings into it. It appears in sura CVII. 7, and seems to me to mean a refuge—“they refuse refuge,” i.e., they give no shelter to those asking for help. Later on the word seems to have been regarded as derived from ‘ana (certainly not from ma’ana to which Golius refers it), and thence it acquired the meaning of support, alms.

Masani, repetition. There has been much perplexity about this word, mainly because it has been considered as an Arabic word and has not been traced back to its source. As by degrees other teaching, viz., tradition,33 grew up by the side of that contained in Holy Writ, the whole law was divided into two parts, the written teaching, that is the Bible, and the teaching by word of mouth or tradition. To occupy oneself with the former was called “to read;” to occupy oneself with the latter was called “to say.” In the Chaldaic Gemara the latter word means to speak after, to repeat the teacher’s words after him. In like manner the word tinnah was used almost exclusively of choral music, in which the choir repeated verses after the preceptor. Thus teaching by word of month was called mishnah, and so also the collection of oral teaching—the whole tradition; and afterwards when this was all written down the book received the same name. Now, however, an etymological error crept in and derived this word from shanah in its true Hebrew meaning “to repeat,” and then applied it to the repetition of the written teaching. The error of this explanation is shown both in the use of the word and in its inflection. Still it seems to have been accepted by the Roman Jews, and thus it came about that in Justinian’s Novels the mishna is called secunda editio. The same thing happened in the case of the Arabian Jews, and so we get our word masani. Muhammad putting his book in the place of the whole Jewish teaching calls it not only Qur’ān (miqra) but also masani.34

Malakut, government. This word is used only of God’s rule, in which connection it invariably appears also in rabbinical writings.35 It occurs in several passages in the Koran.36 From this narrow use of the word, and from a false derivation from mala’k or malak(a word which comes from quite a different root, and which in Arabic has only the meaning of a messenger of God) it came to be used for the realm of spirits.

These fourteen words, which are clearly derived from the later, or rabbinical Hebrew, show what very important religious conceptions passed from Judaism into Islam,—namely, the idea of the divine guidance, sakinat, malakut, of revelation, furqan, masani; of judgment after death, jannatu ‘adn and jahannam, besides others which will be brought forward as peculiar to Judaism.


While in the foregoing section we were content to consider it certain that a conception was derived from Judaism, if the word expressing that conception could be shown to be of Jewish origin, we must now pass on from this method of judging and adopt a new test. We must prove first in detail that the idea in question springs from a Jewish root; then to attain to greater certainty we must further show that the idea is in harmony with the spirit of Judaism, that apart from Judaism the conception would lose in importance and value, that it is in fact only an offshoot of a great tree. To this argument may be added the opposition, alluded to in the Koran itself, which this foreign graft met with from both Arabs and Christians. For the better arrangement of these views we must divide them into three groups: A. Matters of Creed or Doctrinal views, B. Moral and Legal Rules, and C. Views of Life.

A. Doctrinal Views. We must here set a distinct limit for ourselves, in order on the one hand that we may not drift away into an endless undertaking and attempt to expound the whole Koran; and on the other that we may not go off into another subject altogether and try to set forth the theology of the Koran, an undertaking which was began with considerable success in the Tübingen Zeitschrift für Evang. Theol. (1881), 3tes Heft. Furthermore, certain general points of belief are so common to all mankind that the existence of any one of them in one religion must not be considered as proving a borrowing from another. Other views again are so well-known and so fully worked out that we need not discuss them in detail, but shall find a mere mention of them sufficient. Of this kind is that of the idea of the unity of God, the fundamental doctrine of Israel and Islam. At the time of the rise of the latter, this view was to be found in Judaism alone, and therefore Muhammad must have borrowed it from that religion. This may be considered as proved without any unnecessary display of learning on the point. The idea of future reward and punishment is common to all religions, but it is held in so many different ways that we shall be obliged to consider it in our argument. Cardinal points of faith have also passed from Judaism into Christianity. To decide whether these points as adopted in the Koran have come from the Jews or from the Christians, we must direct our special attention to a comparison between the forms in which the beliefs are held in both those religions, and the form in which they are presented to us by Muhammad. This is to answer the objection, that in the following discussion so little is to be found about the cardinal dogmas, for even the enumeration of them is foreign to our purpose.

Every religion which conceives God as an active working providence must have some distinct teaching on the creation, and this Muhammad gives in accordance with the Bible, viz., that God created heaven and earth and all that therein is in six days;37 although in another place he diverges somewhat and says that the earth was created in two days, the mountains and the green herbs in four days, and the heavens with all their divisions in two days more.38 Though this passage is nothing but a flight of poetic fancy, still it shows how little Muhammad knew of the Bible, inasmuch as he is aware of nothing but the general fact that the creation took place in six days, and that he has not any knowledge of each day’s separate work. We have already remarked that he calls the seventh day sabt, but does not recognize its sanctity. It remains here to be added that Muhammad appears to allude to and reject the Jewish belief that God rested on the seventh day.39 He evidently thought that a necessity for rest after hard labor was implied, for after mentioning the creation as having taken place in six days, he adds “and no weariness affected us.” On this Jalalu’d-din comments as follows: “This was revealed as an answer to the Jews who said that God had rested thoroughly on the sabbath and therefore weariness left Him.” The same thing is to be found in Elpherar’s commentary but not so clearly expressed.

The idea of several heavens, which is indicated by the biblical expression “heaven of heavens,” came to Muhammad probably from the Jews, also the notion that they were seven in number, a notion due to the different names applied to heaven. In Chagiga40 we find the assertion that there are seven heavens, and then the names are given. All these names occur in the Scripture except the first, viz. vilon, from the Latin velum. This name in which heaven is compared to a curtain, which veils the glory Of41 God, is a very important one in the Talmud. Muhammad speaks often of the seven heavens,42 and in one passage he calls the heavens the seven strongholds43 and in another the seven paths.44 This last expression occurs also in the Talmud. During the creation, however, His throne was upon the waters.45 This idea also is borrowed from the Jews, who say:46 “The throne of glory then stood in the air, and hovered over the waters by the command of God.” This is somewhat more clearly expressed by Elpherar who says: “And this water was in the middle of the air.”

A second pivot of every revealed religion is the belief in a judgment after death; for while the fact of the creation sets forth the omnipotence of the Creator, the doctrine of a final account teaches that it is God’s will that His revealed laws shall be obeyed. This, then, in Judaism developed into a local paradise and hell, and both conceptions have passed, as we have already shown, into Islam. These localities, although at first mere symbols, mere embodiments of the spiritual idea of a state, afterwards became crystallized, and suffered the fate of every symbol, i.e., they were taken for the thing symbolized, and the places were more definitely indicated. Thus the Jews have a saying: “The world is the sixtieth part of the garden, the garden is the sixtieth part of Eden;”47 and in the Koran we find a similar expression, viz., “paradise whose breadth equalleth the heavens and the earth”48 Generally speaking, fear is stronger than hope, and the dread of a terrible condemnation appeals far more powerfully than the hope of eternal happiness to a nature which pure religious feeling does not impel to piety of life. This is probably the reason for describing hell in a more detailed and particular manner than paradise.

Seven hells are pictured as forming different grades of punishment, and these have been developed out of the seven different names mentioned in the Talmud.49 These names with one exception (Erets tahtith, subterranean realm, which is clearly adopted from the Roman ideas at the time of their ascendancy) are biblical. Later on these names came to be construed as seven hells, e.g., in the Midrash on the Psalms at the end of the eleventh Psalm where it is said, “There are seven abodes of the wicked in hell,” after which the above mentioned names are cited with a few variations. It is also said that David by a sevenfold reiterated cry of “my son” (beni) rescued Absalom from the seven habitations of hell;50 furthermore hell is said to have seven portals.51 Muhammad is not behind hand, for we read in one passage that52 “it (hell) hath seven gates, unto every gate a distinct company of them shall be assigned.” According to the Jews, a tree stands at the entrance to hell:53 “Two date palms grow in the valley of Ben Hinnom, smoke issues from between them and this is the entrance to hell”; but Muhammad knows a tree of hell called al-Zagqum54 which serves sinners for food, about which he has much to relate. The step from such a definite idea of hell to the notion of a personality connected with it is an easy one, and we find such an individual mentioned by the rabbis as the “prince of Gehinnom;” he is called however in the Koran simply Jahannam. In one rabbinical book55 we find the following: “That the prince of hell says daily, ‘Give me food to satisfy me,’ comes from Isaiah, v. 14.” Muhammad says similarly: “On that day We will say unto hell, ‘Art thou full?’ and it shall say ‘Are there more’?”

When the conceptions of paradise and hell became so definite, and their names were no longer general terms for reward and punishment, a third destination had to be provided for those whose conduct had not been such as to entitle them to the former nor condemn them to the latter place. Thus while the righteous found their place in paradise, and the sinners had their portion in hell, those who belonged to neither class were placed in a space between paradise and hell, of which it is said in the Midrash on Ecclesiastes, vii. 14: “How much room is there between them? Rabbi Jochanan says a wall; R. Acha says a span; other teachers however hold that they are so close together that people can see from one into the other.”56 The idea just touched upon in this passage is most poetically worked out in sura VII. 44,57 “And between the blessed and the damned there shall be a veil; and men shall stand on Al-Araf who shall know them by their marks; and shall call unto the inhabitants of paradise saying, ‘Peace be upon you’; yet they shall not enter therein, though they earnestly desire it. And when they58 shall turn their eyes towards the companions of hell fire, they rejoice that they are not among them, and show them the folly of their earthly walk and hopes.”

It is interesting to compare this view of a threefold dealing with the dead with the very similar Platonic idea.59

The idea of the bliss of eternal life, as well as the metaphor which expresses the difficulty of attaining it, is common to the Koran and Judaism. There is a rabbinical saying60 to the effect that “one hour of rapture in that world is better than a whole life-time in this.” With this we may compare the Koran:61 “And what is this life in comparison with the life to come except a passing amusement?” Then for the difficulty of attaining paradise we may compare the rabbinical picture of the elephant entering the needle’s with the words in sura VII. 38 “Neither shall they enter into paradise until a camel pass through the eye of a needle.” This last metaphor seems to be borrowed from Christianity (partly because of the similarity of the figure, in that “camel” is the metaphor used in the Gospels, and partly because of the frequent mention of the same by the Evangelists),62and is only deserving of mention here, because the fact that in the Talmud elephant is used seems to confirm the ordinary translation of the Greek word in the Gospels, and the Arabic word in the Koran, and to remove the doubt as to whether they might not be better rendered “cable.”

Given the pure conception of immortality, viz., that the life of the soul never ceases, it becomes unnecessary to fix a time at which the judgment shall take place; and so in most Talmudic passages a future world is pictured in which everything earthly is stripped away and pious souls enjoy the brightness of God’s presence. Echoes of this teaching are to be found in the Koran. In one passage63 we read of a soul gazing on its Lord, and in another64 the condition of a perfectly peaceful soul is beautifully described. But this entirely spiritual idea was not thoroughly carried out. Rather by the side of the pure conception of a continued life of the soul after the death of the body,65 there existed that of the quickening of the dead.66 Thus because the man cannot receive the requital of his deeds while he is still in a state of death, the time of resurrection must be the time for the judgment.67

These two views of the resurrection and the judgment day, though different in themselves, are both closely connected in Judaism and more especially in Islam.68 In Judaism there is a third period, the advent of a Messiah, which it is not easy to separate from the other two. Naturally this time, which is to bring forth two such important events as judgment and resurrection, will be ushered in by terrible signs. In Judaism statements to this effect are to be found only about the third period, which is generally connected with the other two, viz., the earthly period of the Messiah; in Islam on the contrary everything is attributed to the last day. The utterance most in accord with the Talmud is that in Sunnas 41 and 141, which says that learning shall vanish, ignorance shall take root, drunkenness and immorality shall increase. With this we must compare the passage in Sanhedrin 97: “At the time when David’s son comes the learned diminish, and the place of learned meetings serves for immorality.” The descriptions in the Koran refer more to the last day itself, and remind us of many passages in Holy Scripture, where it is also said of those days that the world will bow itself before God, the heavens will be rolled together69 and vanish in smoke,70 all cities will be destroyed,71 and men will be drunken and yet not drunken.72

Another very distinct sign of the advent of a Messiah, which is remotely alluded to in the Bible but which attained to an extraordinary development in the Talmud and especially in later writings, is the battle of Gog, Prince of Magog.73 Gog and Magog are, however, named by the rabbis as two princes, and this view has taken root in the Koran in the rabbinical form,74 since two persons, Gog and Magog, are mentioned as dwellers in the uttermost parts of the earth.75

In the details of the idea of future retribution many resemblances are to be found, which, by virtue of the unity of the Jewish view and its derivation from the Scriptures, show themselves as borrowings from Judaism. Thus according to the Talmud, a man’s limbs themselves shall give testimony against him;76 in one passage we find these words: “The very members of77 a man bear witness against him, for it is said: ‘Ye yourselves are my witnesses saith the Lord.”’ With this we may compare sura XXIV 24: “Their own tongues, and hands, and feet, shall one day be witness against them of their own doings.78 The judgment day gains also a greater importance from the fact that not only individuals and nations appear at it, but also those beings who have been honored as gods by the nations, and they too receive punishment with their worshippers. In Sukkah XXIX we find this statement: ”As often as a nation (on account of idolatry) receives its punishment, those beings honored by it as gods shall also be punished; for, it is written:79‘Against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment.“’ That this general sentence admits of a reference to the punishment of the last day is not expressly stated, but it is worthy of acceptation. Muhammad expresses himself still more clearly about it:80 ”Verily both ye and the idols which ye worship besides God shall be cast as fuel into hell fire.”

A view closely interwoven with Judaism and Islam is that retributive punishment is entirely confined to the state after death, and that any single merit which a sinner has gained will be rewarded in this world, to the end that nothing may impede the course of judgment in the next. The same view, only reversed, holds good in the case of the righteous. It is a view which was thought to explain the course of destiny upon earth, which so often seems to run contrary to the merits and demerits of men.

The rabbinical view is expressed in the following passage: “Whereunto are the pious in this world to be compared? To a tree which stands entirely in a clean place; and when a branch bends to an unclean place, it is cut off and the tree itself stands there quite clean. Thus God sends afflictions in this world to the righteous, that they may possess that which is to come, as it is written: ‘Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase.’81 Sinners are like a tree which stands in an altogether unclean place; if a branch bends over to a clean place, it is cut off and the tree itself stands there quite unclean. Thus God allows the ungodly to prosper, in order to plunge them into the lowest depth of hell, as it is written: ‘There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.’ ”82 Muhammad expresses this same view in several passages, but restricts himself to the latter part which refers to the prosperity of sinners, partly because his own ideas were too unspiritual for him to be able to imagine the righteous as truly happy without earthly goods, partly because in so doing his teaching would have lost in acceptability to his very degraded contemporaries. Thus in one passage83 we read: “We grant them long and prosperous lives only that their iniquity may be increased,”84 still the second view is to be found among the Arabians also, e.g., Elpherar in his comments on Koran XII. 42 says: “It is said that the righteous are punished and tried, in order that the day of resurrection may be perfect in light and power, as the contumacy of the righteous has been already expiated.” Muhammad naturally avoided specifying any time at which the judgment should take place, though he was much pressed to do so. He excused himself with the Jewish saying that with God a thousand years are as one day,85 which was divested of its poetic adornment and taken by the rabbis in a purely literal sense.86 Muhammad says87: “Verily one day with thy Lord is as a thousand years of those which ye compute”; and again88: “On the day whose length shall be a thousand years of those which ye compute.”

As has been already shown, with the establishment of the doctrine of the day of judgment, the view of the resurrection and of the quickening of the dead was also formed; and this the more readily, because it found support in expressions in the Scripture, as, e.g., those in Ezekiel, xxxvii.89 “I have opened your graves, and caused you to come up out of your graves, ..... ye shall live,” etc.; and those in other passages referring partly to the metaphorical quickening of the dead land of Israel. Of this doctrine it is said that it is such a fundamental teaching of the Jewish faith that the declaration that it did not belong to the law entailed the exclusion of him who thus spoke from eternal life.90 The Koran is, so to speak, founded upon this doctrine along with that of the unity of God, and there is scarcely a page in it where this doctrine is not mentioned. To adduce proofs here would be as easy as it would be useless; and indeed it is not required by our purpose, since Christianity also has inherited this view from Judaism, as is shown in the argument of Jesus in refutation of the Sadducees. Only one point deserves particular mention, because on the one hand it contains a detail adopted from Judaism, and on the other it shows the low level of thought at that time.

As soon as it becomes a question not merely of the immortality of the soul, but also of the resurrection of the body, then the soul without its body is no longer regarded as the same person, and the question naturally presents itself to the ordinary understanding: “How can this body which we have seen decay rise again, so that the same personality shall reappear?” Neither the soul alone nor the body alone is the person, but the union of the two. Now one part of this union is dissolved; another body can indeed be given to this soul, but by this means he who died does not reappear, but a new man, another personality, another consciousness comes into being. This question dimly anticipated obtrudes itself, and can only be set at rest by proving that the very same personality can appear again. Instead of showing this Muhammad contents himself with the parable, used also occasionally in the Talmud, of the renewal of the dried up earth by fertilizing rain. He found however that he could not silence the common convictions of men thereby,91 and so he was compelled to come back to it again and again. The Jews also sought to give prominence to this resemblance, and they put the eulogium “Who sendeth down the rain” into the second benediction which treats of the resurrection.92 The fact that the righteous rise actually in their clothes93 (which after all is not more wonderful than in their bodies) is explained by the parable of the grain of wheat, which is laid in the earth without covering, but springs up again with many coverings. The passage in Koran VI. 96 contains a similar statement. This view is not strange to Islam, for a saying which is attributed to Muhammad runs thus: “The dead man shall be raised in the clothes in which he died.”

That from the standpoint of revealed religion the belief in the possibility of revelation is fundamental needs of course no proof, and in this the views of all revealed religions are alike; yet differences can be found in the manner of conceiving of the revelation, and here we recognize again that Muhammad derived his view of it from Judaism, of course with some modification.

The Jews have a saying that “all the prophets saw through a dark glass, but Moses through a clear one,”94 and Muhammad says:95 It was not granted to a man that God should speak unto him otherwise than in a vision or from behind a veil;96 and then he adds: “or by the sending of a messenger to reveal by His permission that which He pleaseth.” This messenger is the Holy Spirit,97 or simply the spirit,98 like the spirit in the story of Micaiah’s vision.99 The Arabic commentators take this holy spirit to mean Gabriel, a view which is not unknown to the Jews, for the Jewish commentators understand the words100 “the definitely speaking Spirit” to refer to Gabriel. One of Muhammad’s own utterances, one which is fully explained only by the 52nd Sunna, is much more striking:101 “And they will ask thee of the spirit, say: the spirit (proceedeth) at my Lord’s command.”

With this the teaching about angels is closely connected, and it also had its beginning in Scripture, but appears to have been developed in later days especially through Parseeism. Muhammad is unwearied in his descriptions of angels; so too are the later Jews in their many prayers on the day of atonement, but these are of rather late origin.102 The angel of death103 is especially mentioned in sura XXXII. 11.

While angels were regarded as purely spiritual beings who execute God’s commands, a class of beings was imagined who stood between man and the purest spirits; these were mixed spirits, who were made out of fire,104 who possessed superior mental powers, but who were mostly inclined to evil; they were called demons, but there are numerous other names for them in Arabic. The Talmud has the following statement about them: “Demons are declared to possess six qualities, three of which are angelic and three human. The three which pertain to angels are that they have wings, that they can fly from one end of the earth to the other (i.e., they are bound by no space), and that they know the future beforehand. They know the future beforehand? No! but they listen behind the curtain. The three human qualities are that they eat and drink, increase and multiply, 105 and die.”106 Muslim tradition cannot do enough in their description, but there is but little about them in the Koran. The fact that they listened at the canopy of heaven gained for them in the Koran the nickname of the stoned,107 for, say the commentators, the angels threw stones to drive them away when they found them listening.108 Thus it is said expressly:109 “We have appointed them (the lamps of heaven) to be darted at the devils.” The seventy-second sura treats of them in detail, and seeks especially to set forth their assent to the new doctrine. The Talmud also states that they are present at the giving of instruction. The following passage from the Berachoth shows this: “The press in the school is caused by them, the demons.” With this we may compare the Koran: “When the servant of God stood up to invoke Him, it wanted little but that the genii had pressed on him in crowds.”110 It cannot be maintained that the greater part of the teaching about genii was adopted from Judaism, it must rather be said to have come from the same dark source whence the Jews of those times drew these conceptions, viz., Parseeism.

Still here, as in the case of any point which is of inaccessible origin, a reference to a mere similarity is not without use.

Under these four heads then, viz., (1) Creation, (2) Retribution including the Last Judgment and the Resurrection, (3) Mode of Revelation, and (4) Doctrine of Spirits, details are found, the adoption of which from Judaism we may regard as sufficiently proved. The precaution against representing, out of love for our theme, that which is common either to the general religious feelings of mankind, or to all revealed religions, or at least that which belonged to other known religious parties in Muhammad’s time as peculiar only to Judaism, compels us to fix these limits. We have found much of interest especially under the second head, so that the demands of our theme might seem to be fairly well satisfied.

B. Moral and Legal Rules. It is obvious that in a revealed religion all individual commands form part of the religion, and therefore one cannot draw any sharp line of distinction between the “religious” and the “moral.” We have accordingly considered nothing which has to do with conduct under the heading A, even though it might be immediately connected with the points of belief under discussion and so we are able to bring together here all commands as to conduct. From the fact that every individual command is divine, a conflict of duties may easily arise, which cannot be readily decided by private judgment, seeing that all the commandments are equal,111 so far as their Author is concerned. Rules for such cases must therefore be laid down. For instance, we find the following statement in the rabbinical writings:112 “If a father saith (to his son if he is a priest), ‘Defile thyself’ or if he saith, ‘Make not restitution (of the thing found to the owner)’, shall he obey him? Therefore, it is written:113 ‘Let every man reverence his father and mother, but keep my Sabbaths all of you, ye are all bound to honor me.”’ And Muhammad says:114 “We have commanded man to show kindness towards his parents, but if they endeavor to prevail with thee to associate with me that concerning which thou hast no knowledge, obey them not.”

Judaism is known to be very rich in single precepts, and Muhammad has borrowed from it much that seemed to him suitable.

1. Prayer: Muhammad like the rabbis prescribes the standing position for prayer. Thus: “Stand obedient to the Lord; but if ye fear any danger, then pray while walking or riding”;115 and also: “Who standing, and sitting, and reclining, bear God in mind.”116

These three positions are mentioned again in sura X. 13: “When evil befalleth a man he prayeth unto us, lying on his side or sitting or standing,” where with a true perception of the right order, the least worthy position is the first spoken of.117

Baidhawi comments thus on sura III. 188, the passage alluded to above: “The meaning is that the man may take any of the three positions according to his strength, as Muhammad said to Amran Ibn Husain: ‘Pray standing if thou art able; if not, sitting; and if thou canst not sit up, then leaning on the side.” The Jews were not so strict in this matter, yet they too have the rule that prayer should be offered standing;118 and in rabbinical writings it is also said that he who rides on an ass is to dismount, but the addition is made that, if he cannot dismount he is to turn his face (towards Jerusalem).119 As the bodily position may be altered in urgent cases, so the prayer itself may be shortened on similar occasions.120 So we find the permission to shorten prayer in time of war: “When ye march to war in the earth, it shall be no crime in you if ye shorten your prayers.” The Jews also were permitted to pray a short prayer when in a dangerous place.121 Muhammad is quite opposed to senseless chattering, for he counts it a merit in believers to “eschew all vain discourse.”122 Therefore because attention and pious concentration of thought are to be aimed at, he enjoins123 on believers not to draw near to prayer when they are drunk. This is in accordance with the Talmudic rule: “Prayer is forbidden to the drunken.”124 It is also forbidden to those who have touched women.125 These persons may not engage in prayer before washing with water, which cleansing is recommended as a general rule before prayer both in the Koran126 and in the Talmud. Instead of water, purification with sand may take place.127 So in the Talmud: “He cleanses himself with sand and has then done enough.” As concentrated thought is urged as a duty, it follows that prayer though audible must not be noisy,128 and so Muhammad says: “Pronounce not thy prayer aloud, neither pronounce it with too low a voice, but follow a middle way between these;” and in the Talmud we find:129 “From the behavior of Hannah who in prayer moved her lips we learn that he who prays must pronounce the words, and also as her voice was not heard we learn that he must not raise his voice loudly.” But because our mood does not at all times move us to fervency of prayer, outward ceremony is necessary, and indeed prayer in a great congregation, whose devotion will stir up our own.130 “The prayer in the congregation” is greatly praised also by the Jews. Daybreak, which is mentioned in the Talmud in connection with the Shema prayer, as the time when “one can distinguish between a blue and a white thread,”131 is not mentioned in this connection in the Koran it is true, for the Koran knows nothing of a Shema prayer, but it appears in connection with the beginning of the Fast Day:”132 Until ye can discern a white thread from a black thread by the daybreak.”

2. Some rulings in respect of women tally with Judaism; e.g., the waiting of divorced woman for three months before they may marry again.133 The time of suckling is given in both as two years:134 “Mothers shall give suck unto their children two full years.” Similarly in sura XLVI. 14 we find: “His bearing and his weaning is thirty months,” which is explained by Elpherar as follows: “He takes the shortest duration of pregnancy, viz., six months, and the shortest of suckling, viz., twenty-four months.” Compare the Talmudic saying :135 “A woman is to suckle her child two years, after that it is as though a worm sucked.” That those relatives to whom intermarriage is forbidden in the Scripture are precisely those whom Muhammad permits136 to see their near relations unveiled has been already noticed by Michaelis in the Mosaic system, and he has shown the connection between these two laws.

As Muhammad had very little intention of imposing a new code of individual laws, since his aim was much more the spread of new purified religious opinions, and as in the matter of practice he was far too much of an Arab to deviate from inherited usages, unless they came directly into opposition to these higher religious views, it is easily to be explained how so few borrowings are to be found in this part and much even of what is adduced might perhaps be claimed to be general Oriental custom. We shall find moreover in the Appendix that Muhammad mentions many Jewish laws which were known to him; he alludes to these sometimes as binding on the Jews, sometimes merely for the sake of disputing them, and hence we see that it was not want of knowledge of them that kept him back from using them, but his totally different purpose. This remark must apply also to our third heading, under which isolated instances of adaptation only will be found, except in cases where the view is directly connected with the higher articles of faith adopted from Judaism, which have been already mentioned.

C. Views of Life. In putting together these single fragmentary utterances, it is scarcely worth while to arrange them according to any new system, and we will therefore follow the order of the Koran.

Death with the righteous is to be prized, hence the request in the Koran: “Make us to die with the righteous,137 which corresponds with that of Balaam, “Let me die the death of the righteous.”

“Say not of any matter, ‘I will surely do this tomorrow,’ unless thou add, ‘If God please.’”138 Full understanding is first imputed to a man when he is forty years old,139 and it is said in the Mishna: “At forty years of age a man comes to intelligence.” So the hunting for some particular persons, to whom this sentence of the Koran shall apply, as the Arabic commentators do, appears altogether unnecessary; it is also rendered very dubious by the wide differences between the various opinions.

In the Koran a comparison is found between those who bear a burden without understanding the nature of it and who thus carry without profit, and an ass carrying books.140

“He who intercedeth (between men) with a good intercession shall have a portion thereof.”141 This saying is very similar to the Hebrew one: “He who asks for mercy for another while he needs the same thing himself obtains help first.” In Sunna 689 it is said: “Three things follow the dead, but two of them turn back; his family, his goods, and his works follow him; his family and his goods forsake him again, and only his works remain with him.” This is also found in great detail in rabbinical Hebrew:

Man has three friends in his lifetime—his family, his property, and his good works. At the time of his departure from earth he collects the members of his family, and says to them, “I beg you, come and free me from this evil death.” They answer: “Hast thou not heard143 that no one has power over the day of death?” It is also written:144 “None of them can by any means redeem his brother, even his wealth which he loves avails not; he cannot give to God a ransom for him, for the redemption of their soul is costly and must be let alone for ever; but enter thou into peace, rest in thy lot till the end of days.145 May thy part be with the righteous.” When the man sees this, he collects his treasures and says to them: “I have labored for you day and night, and I pray you redeem and deliver me from this death”; but they answer: “Hast thou not heard that riches profit not in the day of wrath?”146 So then he collects his good works and says to them: “Then you come and deliver me from this death, support me, let me not go out of this world, for you still have hope in me if I am delivered.” They answer: “Enter into peace! but before thou departest we will hasten before thee; as it is written, Thy righteousness shall go before thee, the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward.”147


This division will prove to be the largest, partly, because these narratives, draped in the most marvelous garb of fiction, lived mostly in the mouth of the people; partly, because this fairy-tale form appealed to the poetic fancy of Muhammad, and suited the childish level of his contemporaries. In the case of the Old Testament narratives, which are seldom related soberly, but are for the most part embellished, it needs scarcely a question, or the most cursory enquiry, as to whether or no they have passed from the Jews to Muhammad; for the Christians, the only other possible source to which they could be attributed, bestowed very little attention in those days on the Old Testament, but in their narratives kept to what is strictly Christian, viz., the events of the life of Jesus, of his disciples and his followers, and of the multitude of subsequent saints and wonder-workers, which afforded them abundant material for manifold embellishments. The Christians, for all that they accepted the Old Testament as a sacred writing, and although in those days no doubt had arisen as to whether or no they were to put the Old Testament on a level with the New in respect of holiness and divine inspiration, a doubt which has been brought forward for example by Schleiermacher in later times—the Christians of that period, I say, had nevertheless a more lively interest in the New Testament, since it was the expression of their separation and independence. The Old Testament was common to them and the Jews, and indeed they could not deny to the latter a greater right of possession in it, for the Jews possessed it entirely, and were versed in it even to the minutest details, an intimate knowledge with which we cannot credit the Christians. Further, just those points in the Old Testament which were specially suited to the Christian teaching are found to be scarcely touched upon in the Koran; thus, for instance, the narrative of the transgression of the first human pair is not at all represented as a fall into sin, involving the entire corruption of human nature which must afterwards be redeemed, but rather Muhammad contents himself with the plain, simple narration of the fact. This may be taken as an instance to prove that the narratives about persons mentioned in the Old Testament are almost all of Jewish origin, and this will be more clearly shown when we come to details.

As we proceed to the enumeration of the individual borrowed stories, the necessity is forced upon us of arranging them in some order. We have no reason for arranging them according to their sources (Bible, Mishna, Gemara, Midrash, etc.) as Muhammad did not gain his knowledge of these narratives from any of these sources, but was taught them all verbally by those round him, and so they were all of the same value for him, and were all called biblical; furthermore we must pay no attention to their contents, for the narratives are not given as supporting any doctrines of Islam, but are merely quoted as records of historical facts; and even in those cases where they are intended to set forth a doctrine, it is almost always either that of the unity of God, or that of the resurrection of the dead. It appears therefore advisable to arrange then chronologically, by which means it will be most easy to recognize the numerous anachronisms among them. Either Muhammad did not know the history of the Jewish nation, which is very probable, or the narration of it did not suit his object, for only once is the whole history summed up in brief,148 and only the events in the lives of a few persons are mentioned. In this chronological arrangement we shall have to pay more attention to the personal importance of individuals than to any changes in the condition and circumstances of the nation, and thus in this arrangement we shall have the following divisions: (1) patriarchs; (2) Moses; (3) the three kings who reigned over the undivided kingdom, viz., Saul, David, and Solomon; and (4) holy men who lived after them.


A. From Adam to Noah. The great event of the creation of the first man gave occasion for much poetical embellishment. Before the appearance of Adam, the jealousy of the angels, who had counseled against his creation, was roused, and God shamed them by endowing Adam more richly with knowledge than any of them. In the Koran we have the following description:

When thy Lord said unto the angels, “I am going to place a substitute on earth”; they said, “Wilt thou place there one who will do evil therein and shed blood? but we celebrate thy praise and sanctify thee.” God answered: “Verily I know that which ye know not”; and He taught Adam the names of all things, and then proposed them to the angels, and said: “Declare unto me the names of these things, if ye say truth.” They answered: “Praise be unto thee, we have no knowledge but what thou teachest us, for thou art knowing and wise.” God said: “O Adam, tell them their names”; and when he had told them their names, God said: “Did I not tell you that I know the secrets of heaven and earth, and know that which ye discover, and that which ye conceal?”

The corresponding Hebrew passage may be thus translated:

When the Holy One, blessed be He! would create man, he took counsel with the angels, and said to them: “We will make man in our image”;151 then they said: “What is man that thou art mindful of him?152 What will be his peculiarity?” He said: “His wisdom is greater than yours.” Then He brought beasts, cattle, and birds before them, and asked for their names, but they knew them not. But when He had created man He caused the animals to pass before him and asked him for their names, and he replied: “This is an ox, that an ass, this a horse and that a camel.” “But what art thou called?” “It is fitting that I should be called earthy, for I am formed of the earth.” “And I?” “Thou art called LORD, for thou rulest all Thy creatures.”

From this arose the other legend153 that God, after the creation of man, commanded the angels to fall down before him, which they all did except Iblis,154 the devil. The legend bears unmistakable marks of Christian development, in that Adam is represented in the beginning as the God-man, worthy of adoration, which the Jews are far from asserting.155 It is true that in Jewish writings great honor is spoken of as shown by the angels to Adam, but this never went so far as adoration; indeed when this was once about to take place in error, God frustrated the action. We find in Sanhedrin 29, “Adam sat in the Garden of Eden, and the angels roasted flesh for him, and prepared cooling wine”; and in another passage it is said,156 “After God had created man, the angels went astray in regard to him, and wanted to say before him, ‘O Holy one!’ Then God permitted sleep to fall on him, and all knew that he was of earth.” In favor of the Christian origin of this narrative we must count the fact that the name used by Christians for the devil is the one used in all the passages referred to instead of the general Hebrew name.157 From this event according to Muhammad arises the hatred of the devil against the human race, because on their account he became accursed of God; and so his first work was to counsel man in the Garden of Eden158 to eat of the tree of knowledge.159 In this narrative the devil is again given his Hebrew name,160 and yet the first explanation of the temptation through the snake as coming from the Devil seems to be entirely Christian, as no such reference is to be found in the older Jewish writings; the passage quoted below can only be regarded as a slight allusion:161 “From the beginning of the book up to this point162 no Samech is to be found; as soon however as woman is created, Satan (with the initial letter Sin like Samech) is created also.”

Still we find in a book which, though forged, is undoubtedly old,163 the following statement: “Samael, the great prince in heaven, took his companions and went down and inspected all God’s creatures; he found none more maliciously wise than the serpent, so he mounted it, and all that it said or did was at the instigation of Samael.”164 Thus this legend, even if not entirely Jewish, appears to have been derived by Muhammad from the Jews. In the details of this narrative some confusion is found between the tree of knowledge and the tree of life. The former only is mentioned in Scripture as prohibited by God,165 and to the eating of that alone the serpent incites Eve. After the transgression has taken place, we find the fear mentioned lest men should eat of the tree of life and live for ever.166 Muhammad confuses the two. In one passage he puts into the devil’s mouth the statement that men through eating of this tree would become “angels,” or “immortal,”167 but in another passage he mentions only the tree of eternity.168

All the rest of the history of the first human pair is omitted, and only one event in the life of Cain and Abel is depicted. This is depicted for us quite in its Jewish colors. In this passage, and indeed throughout the Koran, they are called sons of Adam, but in later Arabic writings their names are given as Qabil and Habil, which are clearly chosen out of love for the rhyming sounds. The one event mentioned is their sacrifice and the murder which it led to.169 Muhammad makes them hold a conversation before the murder, and one is likewise given in the Jerusalem Targum170 on the strength of the words in Genesis, “Cain said unto Abel his brother.” Still, the matter of the conversation is given so differently in each case that we do not consider it worthwhile to compare the two passages more closely. After the murder, according to the Koran, God sent a raven which scratched the earth to show Cain how to bury Abel. What is here attributed to Cain is ascribed by the Jews to his parents, and in a rabbinical writing we find the following passage:171 “Adam and his companion sat weeping and mourning for him (Abel) and did not know what to do with him, as burial was unknown to them. Then came a raven, whose companion was dead, took its body, scratched in the earth and hid it before their eyes; then said Adam, I shall do as this raven has done, and at once he took Abel’s corpse, dug in the earth and hid it.” In the Koran a verse follows172which, without knowledge of the source from which it has come, seems to stand in no connection with what has gone before, but which will be made clear by the following explanation. The verse according to my translation runs thus: “Wherefore we commanded the children of Israel, that he who slayeth a soul, without having slain a soul, or committed wickedness in the earth, shall be as if he had slain all mankind; but he who saveth a soul alive, shall be as if he had saved the lives of all mankind.” One perceives here no connection at all, if one does not consider the following Hebrew passage: 173 “We find it said in the case of Cain who murdered his brother: ‘The voice of thy brother’s bloods crieth.’174 It is not said here blood in the singular, but bloods in the plural, i.e., his own blood and the blood of his seed. Man was created single in order to show that to him who kills a single individual, it shall be reckoned that he has slain the whole race; but to him who preserves the life of a single individual it is counted that he hath preserved the whole race.” By this comparison it is made clear what led Muhammad to this general digression; he had evidently received this rule from his informants when they related to him this particular event. Another allusion to Cain is found in the Koran in a passage where he is called the man “who has seduced among men.”175

No one else is mentioned in this period excepting Idris176 who, according to the commentators, is Enoch. This seems probable from the words,177 “And we uplifted him to a place on high,” and also from a Jewish writing in which he is counted among the nine who went to paradise alive. Jalalu’ddin brings this point even more prominently forward:178 “He lived in paradise where he had been brought after he had tasted death; he was quickened, however, and departed not thence again.” He appears to have gained his name179 on account of the knowledge of the divine law attributed to him. Elpherar remarks: “ He was called Idris (searcher) on account of his earnest search in the revealed Scriptures.” It is remarkable that in both these passages of the Koran180 he is mentioned after Ishmael.

B. From Noah to Abraham. The corruption which spread in the time of Noah is not described with any details in the Koran, and one event which is stated by the rabbis to have taken place at this period is transferred by Muhammad to Solomon’s time, to which he considered it better suited, as it treats of angels and genii. The rabbinical passage runs thus:

Rabbi Joseph was asked by his scholars: “What is Azael?” and he answered: “When men at the time of the Flood practiced idolatry, God was grieved at it, and two angels, Shamhazai and Azael, said to him: ‘Lord of the world, did we not ask unto Thee at the creation: ”What is man that Thou art mindful of him?” ’182 But He said: ‘What shall become of the world?’ They answered: ‘We would have made use of it.’ ‘But it is well-known to Me that, if you lived on the earth, lust would overcome you, and you would become even worse than man.’ ‘Then give us permission to live with men, and Thou wilt see how we shall sanctify Thy name.’ ‘Go and live with them.’ Then Shamhazai saw a maiden by name Istahar. He cast his eyes on her and said: ‘Listen to me;’ to which she replied: ‘I will not listen to thee until thou teachest me the explicit name of God, through the mention of which thou risest to heaven.’ He taught her this name which she then uttered and rose unspotted to heaven. Then God said: ‘Because she turned herself from sin, well! fasten her between the seven stars, that ye may enjoy her for ever’; and so she was fastened into the Pleiades. But they lived in immorality with the daughters of men, for these were beautiful, and they could not tame their lusts. Then they took wives and begat sons, Hiwwa and Hiyya. Azael was master of the meretricious arts and trinkets of women which beguile men to immoral thoughts.”

It is evident that this story is alluded to in the passage in the Koran,183 where the two angels Harut and Marut are said to have taught men a charm by which they might cause division between a man and his wife.184

During this state of corruption of morals Noah appears, teaching men and seeking by exhortation to turn them from their evil ways. He builds himself the ark and is saved, while the rest of the people perish.185 His whole appearance as an admonisher and seer is not biblical but rabbinical, and serves Muhammad’s ends perfectly, as Noah in this way is a type of himself. According to rabbinical writings,186 Job, xii. 5 refers to Noah, “who rebuked them and spake to them words as severe as flames, but they scorned him and said: ‘Old man, for what purpose is this ark?’ He, however, said: ‘God is going to bring a flood upon you.’ ” Other particulars also accord with rabbinical tradition, e.g., “The people laughed at the ark”187 accords with “They mocked and laughed at him in their words.” “The waters of the Flood were hot”188 with “The generation of the deluge was punished with hot water.”

Still many inaccuracies and perversions are to be found; for instance, Muhammad makes Noah to have lived 950 years before the Flood,189 whereas this is really the whole term of his life; and he represents one of Noah’s sons as disobedient to him, and states that this same son did not follow him into the ark, but believed himself safe on a mountain peak.190 This idea probably arose from a misunderstanding of Ham’s evil conduct after the Deluge.191 Muhammad also makes out Noah’s wife to have been nonbelieving,192 although he is silent as to wherein her unbelief consisted; and I can find no reason for this statement, which is not mentioned either in the Bible or in the rabbinical writings.

Perhaps Muhammad was misled by the analogy of the wife of Lot, who is mentioned in the same context. While these variations are due to errors and to the confusion of different times and events, others are to be ascribed to deliberate193 alteration and elaboration. And of this kind are those details not mentioned in Jewish history, which represent Noah as one occupying the same position as Muhammad and speaking in his spirit. This applies particularly to that which is put into his mouth as admonisher. This is the case not only with Noah, but with all who appear in the character of the righteous in any evil age. Thus he puts into the mouth of Luqman, as a wise man known to the Arabs,194 words suitable to his own circumstances and opinions, and the same thing happens in the case of Noah and the other preachers of Jewish history to whom he alludes. Noah, although he worked no miracle, was saved in a miraculous way, and so Muhammad cannot put into his mouth the same words which he uses of himself, as well as ascribes to other forerunners of himself after Noah’s time, viz., that he is a mere preacher; yet he makes him say everything which is not clearly contrary to the historical facts related about him. He was only an unimportant man,195 and did not pretend to be anyone wonderful or supernatural. 196 But he was divinely commissioned to warn the people, and for this he asked no reward.197 O sancta simplicitas! one would exclaim in considering this last point, if Muhammad had written it down with full consideration of Noah’s position as one threatening the world with punishment, and if it had not been rather that he saw everything from his own distorted point of view and was determined to make everything accord with his ideas. In another place he goes so far as to interpolate a verse into Noah’s discourse, which is entirely characteristic of his own, and in which the little word (translated “speak”)198 actually occurs, which is always regarded as a word of address to Muhammad from God (or Gabriel). The same thing will be noted further on in the case of Abraham.

After Noah the next mentioned is Hud who is evidently the biblical Eber. This seems a striking example of the ignorance of Muhammad, or, as it appears to me more probable here, of the Jews round about him. According to the rabbinical opinion199 the name Hebrew is derived from Eber, but in later times this name was almost entirely forgotten and the name Jew200 was commonly used. The Jews, to whom it was known that their name was derived from an ancestor, believed that the name in question was that in use at the time, and that the ancestor therefore was this patriarch Hud. His time is that in which a second punitive judgment from God on account of bold, insolent behavior is mentioned in the Scripture, and this is treated of in several chapters of the Koran.201 In order to have the right to refer what is said about Hud to the time of the confusion of tongues, or, as the rabbis call it, the Dispersion, we must adduce some particulars which point to this reference, for the statements are very general in their tenor and might be referred to other occurrences. The following verse202 possibly refers to the building of the Tower: “And ye erect magnificent works, hoping that ye may continue for ever.” The Arabic commentators take it that the buildings would afford them a perpetual dwelling-place, but the verse might also mean, “make by building it an everlasting name for yourselves.” The neighborhood is called in the Koran the “Possessor of Pillars.”203 In one passage204 there appears to be a reference to Nimrod, who lived at this time and in this region, since the children of Ad are here reproached for obeying the command of every contumacious hero.205 The idea that they were idolators, which is brought up against them in all the passages in the Koran, agrees perfectly with the rabbinical view expressed as follows:206 “And it came to pass when they journeyed from the beginning (East), that is to say, when they withdrew themselves from Him Who is the beginning of the world.” Muhammad says of these people207that they built an (idolatrous) symbol on every high place in order to play there (i.e., to practice idolatry). And the rabbis tell us that the race of the dispersion contemplated building a tower and putting an idol on its summit.

Resemblances are also to be found with reference to the punishment which overtook them. Muhammad tells us208 they were followed in this world by a curse, and that they shall be followed by the same on the day of resurrection, and the rabbis say209 that the race of the dispersion had no part in the next world, for the twice-mentioned dispersion applies to this world and the other. In Muhammad’s treatment the essential point of the punishment is lost sight of, for instead of describing it as a simple dispersion and confusion of tongues, he speaks of an absolute annihilation of the sinners by a poisonous wind.210 One sees at once the mistaken source from which this change is derived. We recognize partly from our knowledge of Muhammad’s motives in making the alteration, and partly from the minuteness with which the new punishment is described, which would not have been accorded to a fiction. It appears therefore that the history reached this development in the mouth of the people, who delight in minute descriptions of punishment.

The remaining deviations and additions, particularly the latter, are caused, as we have already remarked in the case of Noah, by confusion with Muhammad’s own time and person. This is the case when he transfers unbelief in the resurrection to the time of Hud and counts it among the sins of that time which were worthy of punishment.211 This is seen too especially in the great importance assigned to Eber and to his desire to turn the people from their evil ways. Decided traces of this are certainly to be found in Jewish writings,212 where we are told that Eber was a great prophet, who by the Holy Spirit called his son Pelag, because in his days the earth was divided213 (which Eber had known beforehand). Much also is said of the school of Eber, and Rebekah is said to have gone there; for it is written: “She went to enquire of the Lord,”214 and Jacob is supposed to have stayed there for fourteen years. But of the fact that Eber preached to the people, he being their brother (on which Muhammad places great stress, because he himself was sent as an Arab to the Arabs), not a trace is to be found, still less of the fact that he took no reward from them.215

One point still remains to be cleared up, why the race under discussion is called in the Koran the people of Ad. The commentators state that Ad was the son of Uz, the son of Aram, the son of Shem, the son of Noah; and Muhammad seems also to have been of this opinion, whence it comes that he transfers the events to the land of Aram or Iram.216 Nevertheless it seems to have come about chiefly from the fact that all these occurrences are described with an Arabian coloring, and so they were attributed to Arab tribes, amongst which an ancient extinct one had the name of Ad;217perhaps in it there is also an etymological reference to a “return” to the early evil conduct of the generation of the Deluge. In another passage there is an allusion to this occurrence, 218 where the fact itself is brought forward much more in accordance with the biblical account, but quite without specification of time or persons: “Their predecessors devised plots heretofore, but God came into their building to overthrow it from the foundation, and the roof fell on them from above and a punishment came upon them which they did not expect.” On this Elpherar remarks: “These are Nimrod, the son of Canaan, who built a tower in Babel in order that he might mount to heaven”; and further: “And when the tower fell the language of men became confused, and so they could not finish it; then they spoke seventy-three languages; on this account the city was called Babel (confusion); before this the language of men was Syriac.” The rabbis, too, assert that before this men spoke in Hebrew, but afterwards in seventy languages. Jalalu’d-din says the same thing,219 and adds that Nimrod built the Tower “in order that he might mount out of it into heaven to wage war with the inhabitants thereof.” But the identity of this narrative with that of Hud and Ad is no more accepted by Abulfeda220 than it is by Elpherar and Jalalu’d-din, even on the view that Hud is the same as Eber. Although the coloring of this narrative as given in the Koran differs much from that of the biblical account, yet the identity of the two can be shown by putting this and that together, and by explaining the way in which the individual differences arose.

But in the case of another narrative which follows this one in almost all the passages of the Koran,221 it is very difficult to find out the subject of which it treats and the Bible characters to which it refers. This narrative is about Samud, which like Ad is an ancient extinct Arab tribe,222 to whom their brother Salih was sent when they fell into sin.223 Salih is said to have exhorted the Samudites to righteousness and to have commended to them a certain she-camel as especially under divine protection; he even bade them share water with her.224 But the unbelievers of his time (according to one passage225 only nine in number) hamstrung her, and so divine punishment overtook them. I find no similar occurrence in Jewish writings, but the likeness of the name points to Shelah,226who, however, as the father of Eber, would have deserved mention before him.227 On the whole, the word is so general in its meaning of “a pious man” that we cannot treat it here with certainty as having been originally a proper name. Perhaps the story of the houghing is founded on the words in Jacob’s blessing of his sons,228 and the sharing of the water on the etymology of the name Samud. Moreover Samud was, according to the commentators, the son of Gether, the son of Aram, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, which fits in fairly well with the date already assigned to Shelah. It is however impossible for me to give any more exact explanation from Jewish writings.

C. Abraham to Moses. Though the saints mentioned earlier bore some likeness to Muhammad, and though their condition, so similar to his own, encouraged him as well as verified his statements, yet Abraham was his great prototype, the man of whom he thought most highly, and the one with whom he liked best to compare himself and to make out as one with himself in opinion. Abraham’s faith is that which is preached in the Koran.229 He was a believer in the unity of God.230 He was neither Jew nor Christian for it is written:231 “Abraham was not a Jew, nor a Christian, but he was a believer in the unity of God, given up to God (a Muslim).”232 He is represented as the friend of God, and this is his name throughout the East.233 Abraham’s importance and the rich legendary material concerning him, which Judaism offered, lead as to expect much about him in the Koran, and our expectation is not disappointed. It is to him that the founding of the Ka’bah is traced back.234 He is supposed to have lived in the temple,235 and to have composed books.236 This opinion is also held by the rabbis, many of whom attribute to Abraham the well-known cabalistic and undoubtedly very ancient Sepher Jazirah.

Passing to the events of his life, we first come across the beautiful legend of his attaining to the true knowledge of God. We are told also how he tried to persuade his father and his people thereto. A special instance of this was when he destroyed the idols, and, putting the staff into the hand of the largest, attributed the action to him. He sought thus to convince the people, who quite perceived the impossibility of the idols having done it, since they could not move, but they were not thereby persuaded.237 Abraham is represented as praying in vain that his father might be released from the punishment of hell.238 We are told too that the people, embittered by Abraham’s conduct towards the idols, wanted to have him burnt alive, but that he was rescued from that fate by divine intervention.239 The whole story is taken from the rabbinical writings, where we read as follows.240

Terah was an idolator: once he went away and left Abraham to sell his idols. Whenever a buyer came, Abraham asked him his age. If he replied, I am fifty, or sixty years old, Abraham said: “Woe to the man of sixty who desires to worship the work of a day,” so that the buyer went away ashamed.241 Once a woman came, with a dish of wheat and said, “Here, put this before them”; but Abraham took a stick and beat down all the idols, and put the stick into the hands of the largest idol. When his father returned, he said, “Who has done this!” On which Abraham replied, “Why should I deny it? A woman came with a dish of wheat and bade me set it in front of them. I had scarcely done so when each wanted to eat before the other, and the greatest beat them all down with the stick which he had in his hand.” Terah said: “What art thou inventing for me? Have they then understanding?” Abraham replied. “Do thine ears not hear what thy mouth says?” Then Terah took him and gave him over to Nimrod, who said: “We will worship fire.” Abraham said: “Rather water, which extinguishes fire.” Nimrod replied: “Water then.” “Rather the cloud which carries water.” “The cloud then.” “Rather the wind which scatters the cloud.” “The wind then.” “Rather men, who endure the wind.” Nimrod at this became angry and said: “Thou art only making a speech. I worship fire and will throw thee into it. The God whom thou dost worship may come and save thee out of it.” Abraham was then thrown into a glowing furnace, but was saved from it.

The intercession for his father is not mentioned in Jewish writings; and that this was fruitless, yea that Abraham, arriving at a clearer understanding, desisted from his attempt,242 seems to directly contradict the Jewish view as expressed in the following passage.243 “By the words, ‘Thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace,’ it was shown to Abraham that his father was a partaker in eternal life.” Further, a rabbinical saying244 declares as a general rule that “the son makes the father clean, but not the father the son.” But Muhammad very often combats this view and the similar one that the merits of ancestors count for good to their posterity. For example he says: “That people (the Patriarchs) are now passed away; they have what they gained and ye shall have what ye gain, and ye shall not be questioned concerning that which they have done.”245 That Muhammad brings forward a dialogue between Abraham and the people, where the Midrash has one with his father only, is explained by the fact that Abraham is intended to be a type of Muhammad, and so it is necessary that he should be represented as a public preacher.

Another circumstance which is mentioned in the Koran, viz., that Lot became a believer with and through Abraham,246 may possibly have arisen from a passage in the Midrash immediately following that quoted above, which says that Haran, the father of Lot, was at first irresolute, but turned to Abraham’s opinion after the deliverance of the latter. Haran, however, failed in the ordeal of fire to which he was then subjected. The idea of Lot’s conversion, however, is chiefly derived from the account given of his subsequent life, in which he shows himself to be a pious man; and it is probably for this reason that Muhammad connects him with the event just related. Muhammad appears sometimes to have so confounded himself with Abraham that, in the middle of speeches ascribed to the latter, he indulges in digressions unsuitable to any but himself, and thus falls from the part of narrator into that of admonisher. In one passage247 a long description of hell and paradise is found, and in another,248 the declaration that those who came before had also been charged with imposture. No doubt Abraham might have said this with reference to Noah, Hud, and Salih; still the words here seem rather forced into his speech, and indeed in one verse we find the word “say” which is to be regarded in the Koran as the standing address of God (or Gabriel) to Muhammad.249 This view renders it unnecessary to adopt the desperate expedient of Wahl, who supposes a transposition of verses, or an interpolation. The true explanation is rather Muhammad’s entire identification of Abraham with himself. Further, he is not content with making Abraham preach against idolatry; he represents him also as teaching the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead.250 The lack, however, of full certainty about this doctrine251 caused Abraham, according to the Muhammadan view, to pray for a tangible proof of it, and then was vouchsafed to him what the rabbis call the “covenant between the divided pieces.”252

He was convinced through the fact that the divided birds came together again and became living,253 a view which is foreign to Judaism. How Muhammad came to call Abraham’s father (whose name is given in the Bible as Terah) Azar254 is at first sight not clear, but is completely explained when we consider the source255 of his information, namely Eusebius. In his Church History, Eusebius calls him Athar which is an easy transition from Thara, and then the Greek Athar was easily converted into the Arabic Azar.256 The reason which is given by some Arabic commentators 257 is ridiculous. They maintain that Azar is like Yazzar, and that this means: “O, perverted one, O, erring one;” and Abraham is supposed to have thus addressed his idolatrous father.

We now pass on to the more mature married life of Abraham and come to his meeting with the angels,258 whom he receives as guests.259 Abraham took them for Arabs, was much surprised that they did not eat and stepped back in fear, whereupon they announced to him that he would have a son and told him also of the coming destruction of Sodom. In one passage of the Talmud260 we read: “They appeared to him nothing else but Arabs;” and in another passage261 it is said, “The angels descended and ate. They ate? No, but it appeared as though they ate and drank.” There is only one error to be found in the account as given in the Koran. The doubt as to whether in the advanced age of the pair a son could come into the world (which in other passages and in the Bible is put into the mouth of Sarah) is here uttered by Abraham, but in very mild words.262 It is true that in the other biblical account of the promise to Abraham, he himself is represented as doubting God’s word.263 In other passages the position of words and clauses might give rise to many errors, if we did not know the story better beforehand from the Bible. Thus in one passage264 the laughter of Abraham’s wife is given before the announcement is made, which leads the Arabic commentators to manifold absurd guesses. Elpherar by the side of these explanations (many of them quite wanting in truth) gives the right one in the following words: “Bin ‘Abbas and Wahib say: ‘She laughed from astonishment that she should have a child, for both she and her husband were of a great age.’ Then the verse was transposed, but it ought to run thus: ‘And his wife stood while We promised him Isaac, and after Isaac, Jacob, and then she laughed.’ ” It might seem that this son who was promised to Abraham was with deliberate forgery identified with Ishmael, because he is regarded as the ancestor of the Arabs; and so too the ensuing temptation265 connected with the sacrifice of his son is made to refer to Ishmael.

Ground for this acceptation is given in another passage,266 when after the dispute about the idols has been related, we read from v. 99 as follows: “Wherefore We acquainted him that he should have a son who should be a meek youth, and when he had attained to years of discretion.... Abraham said unto him: ‘O, my son! I saw in a dream that I should offer thee in sacrifice.’ ” He declared himself ready, on which Abraham heard a voice telling him that he had already verified the vision; and a noble victim ransomed him. And then the passage continues:267 “And We rejoiced him with the promise of Isaac, a righteous prophet; and We blessed him and Isaac; and of their offspring were some righteous doers, and others who manifestly injured their own souls.” That the announcement of Isaac first appears here is proof that the preceding context refers to Ishmael. It is therefore evident that according to Muhammad’s representation the sacrificial action was performed on Ishmael, and further on this will be shown more in detail. But it is not clear that the announcement of the angels refer to him, seeing that in one of the three places where the same word268 is used of this angelic announcement, it is explicitly applied to Isaac. That the angels had a twofold mission—(1) to Abraham, in order to show him his fatherhood and the destruction of Sodom, and (2) to Lot, in order to remove him from Sodom before the destruction was accomplished—is biblical and Muhammad follows the Bible narrative. We have already mentioned that Lot is supposed to have become a believer through Abraham. The visitation of the angels, which is related in Genesis, xix. 1-27, is mentioned in several passages in the Koran.269 On the whole the narrative is fairly true, but the details are not entirely free from embellishment. For example, in some passages270 the warning addressed to the people of Sodom on account of their unchaste use of men is treated quite separately from the narrative of the angels, and Muhammad makes out that the angels told Lot and even Abraham271 beforehand that Lot’s wife should not be saved. The unbelief of Lot’s wife receives particular notice in one passage, 272 while the destruction of the cities is mentioned in many passages. 273 Muhammad especially attributes to Lot the distinguishing mark common to all preachers, viz., that they ask for no reward.274

It has already been remarked that, according to Muhammad’s showing, Ishmael275 was the son whom Abraham was commanded to sacrifice; and the reasons have been given which persuaded Muhammad to represent Ishmael as a very righteous man,276 to include him in the ranks of the patriarchs and prophets,277 to mention him as the righteous son of Abraham,278 and to make out that he laid the foundation stone of the Ka’bah in connection with his father.279

This view is certainly not Jewish, but at the same time it is not contrary to Judaism, for the rabbis tell us280 that by the utterance: “Thou shalt be buried in a good old age (Genesis, xv. 15.) God showed Abraham that Ishmael would repent.” And in the Talmud it is said281 that Ishmael repented during his father’s lifetime. From his habit of reckoning Ishmael among the patriarchs, Muhammad fell into the error of counting him as an ancestor of Jacob. Thus in one passage282 he says: “The God of thy fathers, Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac,” which Baidhawi attempts to explain in the following manner; “He counts Ishmael among his ancestors, connecting him with the father—the grandfather also is the same as the father—and as Muhammad says, ‘The uncle is a part of the father.’ Then pointing to ‘Abbas, his uncle, he said, ‘This is the survivor of my forefathers.’”

As he hereby transfers to Ishmael the action, which as the most worthy, is attributed by the Jews to Isaac, viz., readiness to be sacrificed, the latter remains simply a pious man, about whom there is little to relate and who is quite destitute of all legendary adornment. In consequence of this, Isaac appears only in the lists of the patriarchs, and almost always in those passages where Abraham’s deliverance from the fire is mentioned and also his reward for his piety. In these passages Muhammad following more the popular tradition mentions Isaac and Jacob but not Ishmael.

We are now struck by the strange confusion which seems to have existed in Muhammad’s mind about Jacob. He seems to have been uncertain whether he was Abraham’s son, or his grandson, the son of Isaac. While there is no passage which says explicitly that he was Abraham’s son, yet this idea is conveyed to all who have not learned differently from the biblical history. In the angel’s announcement283 it is said, “after Isaac, Jacob;”284 and in other passages285 we read: “We gave to him (i.e., to Abraham) Isaac and Jacob.” In the Sunna, however, Joseph is called clearly the grandson and Jacob the son of Abraham.286 Although these passages do not prove the point absolutely, yet those passages which can be brought forward in support of the opposite view are much less powerful. For if it must be allowed that in two passages287 Abraham and Isaac, and in one of these Jacob also, are mentioned as the forefathers of Joseph, we can also show another passage288 where Ishmael is mentioned as a forefather of Jacob without any continuous genealogy having been given. And further, since in the passage last cited Abraham, Ishmael, and Isaac are counted as the fathers of Jacob, it is clear from the mention of Ishmael among the others how great was the confusion which reigned in Muhammad’s mind about Jacob’s parentage.

We by no means assert that Muhammad took Jacob for the son of Abraham, but it is evident that the relationship between the two was not clear to him. This error did not spread; on the contrary, the later Arabs were better acquainted with these relationships. Thus, e.g., Zamakhshari says:289“It is related of the prophet that he said, ‘If you are asked, who is the noble one?’ answer: ‘The noble one, the son of the noble one, the son of the noble one, the son of the noble one is Joseph, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham.’ ”290But this is no testimony to the full certainty of Muhammad himself, for often the traditions spread among the later Arabs are more correct than those given in the Koran, as we said before in the case of the sacrifice of Isaac. Only a little is given of Jacob’s life. There is an allusion to his wrestling with the angel in the following words:291 “All food was allowed to the children of Israel before the revelation of the Law, except what Israel (as he is here called)292 forbade himself.” This is evidently an allusion to the biblical passage where the prohibition against eating the sinew of the thigh is mentioned,293 which Baidhawi also gives, but assigns a wrong reason for it. Beyond this allusion and the history of Joseph, in which he is also involved and which we will give later on, the only other thing told about Jacob is his admonition before his death. This is given in accordance with rabbinical sources as follows:294 “And Abraham commanded this to his sons,295 even to Jacob: ‘My children, verily God hath chosen this religion for you, therefore die not unless ye also be resigned.’ Were ye present when Jacob was at the point of death? When he said to his sons, ‘Whom will ye worship after me?’ they answered: ‘We will worship thy God and the God of thy fathers Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac, one God, and to him will we be resigned.”’ We find something similar in the rabbinical writings:296 “At the time when Jacob was leaving the world, he called his twelve sons and said to them: ‘Hear your father Israel.297 Is there any doubt in your hearts about God?’ They said: ‘Hear Israel our father. As in thy heart there is no doubt about God, so also there is in ours; but the Lord is our God, the Lord is one’298 Then he spoke out and said: ‘Praised be the name of his glorious kingdom, for ever.’ The sons of Jacob are not individually mentioned, but they appear in the list of the Patriarchs as ”the tribes,“299 so called because of the subsequent division into tribes, Joseph alone enjoying an honorable exception.

Besides being alluded to in one other passage,300 Joseph forms the theme of almost the whole of the twelfth sura,301 which is named after him. This sura contains the narrative given us in Genesis,302 with many abbreviations it is true, but also with many additions and alterations, which must be pointed out. We must first mention the additions which are derived from Jewish legend. Among these is the statement that Joseph was inclined towards Potiphar’s wife, but that a sign warned him from her.303 The rabbinical comment on the words “He went into the house to do his work”304 runs as follows:305 “Both intended to commit sin”; and on the words “She caught him by his garment saying, ‘Lie with me,”’ Rabbi Yohanan remarks, “Both had got on to the bed, when the form of his father appeared to Joseph at the window and said: ‘Joseph,joseph, one day the names of thy brethren will be graven on the stones of the Ephod, also thine; wilt thou that it shall be effaced?”’306 The fable that the Egyptian women mocked at Potiphar’s wife, were invited in by her, and in contemplating Joseph’s beauty307 were so absorbed that they cut their own hands, is found in an old Jewish writing which, though not genuine, is certainly very ancient, and is written in very pure Hebrew. This work is sometimes referred to in the Midrash Yalkut under the name of “The Great Chronicle.” In an old Jewish German translation, however, it bears another title. It is this translation which I have before me as I write, and for this reason I will not quote the actual words.308 Also the discussion about the tearing of the clothes, whether they were torn in front or at the back,309 is found in the same way in the Sepher Hayyashar. In the words, “and a witness bore witness,”310 which we here do not take strictly according to the meaning of the context, but rather in the sense of an “arbitrator decided,”311 others see an allusion to a witness who was present at what occurred between Joseph and the woman, and some of the commentators quoted in Elpherar express themselves quite in harmony with the Sepher Hayyashar as follows: “Sa‘id Ben Jubair and Dhuha k say it was a child in the cradle which God permitted to speak. This is the tradition of the Uphite commentator according to ‘Abbas.” In the Sepher Hayyashar it is also asserted that there was present a child of eleven months who till then could not talk, but then attained to speech. But there is a difference in that the Jewish book makes the child confirm the utterance of Joseph, while the Arabic commentator puts into its mouth the decision about the rent clothing, which other Arabic writers reject as highly unsuitable. Many commentators say that this was no child, but rather a wise man full of penetration. It follows from this that Muhammad either mixed the two legends inappropriately, or else that the second one came later into Arabic tradition and was read by the Arabs into the words of the Koran. The words312 which Wahl translates: “But the devil would not allow it that he (the cupbearer) thought of him (Joseph),” are explained by the following passage:313 “The talk of the lips tendeth only to penury,314 because although Joseph reminded the cup-bearer twice315 that he should remember him, yet he had to remain two more years in prison; for it is written, ‘And it was after two years.’ ”316 The seeking of protection from the butler is here regarded as sinful, and therefore Muhammad says: “And Satan made him (Joseph) forget the remembrance of his Lord (God),” in that he trusted not in God but in man.317 In the same sura318 Jacob recommends his sons to enter by different gates; in like manner we read in the rabbinical writings319 that Jacob said to them: “Do not enter by the same door.”320 The statement321 that the brothers said, when they found the cup in Benjamin’s sack: “If he be guilty of theft his brother hath also been guilty,” is evidently an erroneous change in the words of a passage found in the Midrash quoted above,322 according to which they said, “See a thief, son of a thief,” with reference to Rachel’s having stolen the Teraphim.323 From the Koran it appears324 that Jacob knew by divine communication that Joseph still lived, which is opposed to one Jewish view325 but agrees with another,326 which runs as follows: “An unbeliever asked our teacher, ‘Do the dead live on? Your fathers did not accept this, and will you accept it? It is said of Jacob, that he refused to be comforted.327 If he had believed that the dead live on, would he have refused comfort?’ Then he answered him. ‘Foolish one! he knew through the Holy Ghost that he still lived (in the flesh), and one does not take comfort concerning the living.’ ” The story that Joseph told Benjamin beforehand who he was is common to the Koran328 and the Sepher Hayyashar.

Besides these additions from Jewish legends there is also other matter which owes its origin to error, or possibly to traditions unknown to us. Muhammad’s statement329 that the brothers asked their father to send Joseph with them contradicts the biblical account;330 and the statement that one of the Ishmaelites who went to draw water found Joseph in the pit is against the clear word of the Scripture that the pit was dry.331 Muhammad makes Joseph expound Pharaoh’s dream, and only afterwards does he have him fetched from prison,332 in contradiction to the Bible narrative. 333 He asserts that Jacob became blind from grief, but that he recovered his sight by the application of a shirt to his eyes. He was perhaps thinking of Jacob’s loss of sight334 later on, or possibly the idea is based on some legend unknown to me. According to the Koran Joseph’s parents335 came to him in Egypt, in spite of the fact that according to the testimony of the Scriptures336 Rachel was long since dead. Muhammad’s idea probably was to bring about a complete fulfillment of the dream, which mentions both parents.337

On this, however, some of the rabbis remark that this is a sign that no dream is without a mingling of some vain matter, while others say that Bilhah, Joseph’s subsequent foster-mother, is alluded to. Something like this is quoted by Zamakhshari, to the effect that “this means his father and his aunt;”338 while Elpherar has still more clearly: “Katada and Sada say that by the moon is meant his aunt, because his mother Rachel was already dead.” Thus it is possible that Muhammad means this aunt here, even as Elpherar remarks on another passage,339 to wit, that “most commentators say that by these are meant his father and his aunt Leah, his mother having died at the birth of Benjamin.” It is quite in accordance with Muhammad’s usual procedure to put into Joseph’s mouth a long discourse on the unity of God and the doctrine of a future life. This is given before the interpretation of the dreams of his two fellow-prisoners.340 With Joseph we finish the first period, for between Joseph and Moses Muhammad mentions no one else. It almost seems as if, with Justin, Muhammad regarded Moses as Joseph’s son, although of course we cannot seriously attribute such an opinion to him.


The history of the earlier times was preserved only in brief outlines, and was not so important either in itself, or in the influence which it exerted on the subsequent ages; therefore Muhammad adopted from it only such legends as were edifying in themselves and to which he could append pious reflections. In the period of which we are now going to treat, there is certainly still a long array of legends, but historical facts are preserved for us with greater distinctness and clearer detail, and these facts are of greater religious importance The giving of the Mosaic Law and the eventful life and noble personality of Moses himself afford Muhammad plenty of material for his narrative. Here we will first put together the whole life of Moses as represented in the various passages of the Koran, and then we will go on to consider the details to be commented upon. Among the oppressive enactments of Pharaoh against the children of Israel was an order that their children should be thrown into the water. Moses, the son of Amram, was laid by his mother in an ark; Pharaoh’s wife, who saw the child there, saved it from death and had it nursed by its mother. When Moses was grown up he tried to help his oppressed brethren, and once killed an Egyptian; the next day, however, he was reminded by an Israelite of his yesterday’s deed. This made him afraid, and by the advice of a friend he fled to Midian, and married there the daughter of a Midianite.341 When he wished to leave Midian he saw a burning bush, approached it, and received a command to go to Egypt to warn Pharaoh and to perform some miracles to make him believe; he asked for his brother Aaron as an assistant in this work.342 He obeyed the command and accomplished his mission, but Pharaoh remained unbelieving and assembled his magicians, who indeed imitated the wonders, but were so far surpassed by Moses and Aaron that they themselves became believers in spite of the threats of Pharaoh.343 But a mighty judgment overtook Pharaoh and his people, who remained stubborn in their unbelief; and at last the Egyptians were drowned in the sea, while the Israelites were saved.344 Nothing is related of the journey of the children of Israel before the giving of the Law, except the striking of the rock with the staff so that water flowed out, and this comes in only incidentally in two passages;345 in the former of which, however, other facts about the stay in the wilderness are related. Moses then received the Law,346 and prayed to see God’s glory.347 During his absence the Israelites made the golden calf, which Moses on his return dashed into pieces and gave to the Israelites to drink;348 and after that he appointed seventy men.349 Later on he sent spies to Canaan, but they all except two were godless. The people let themselves be deceived by then, and in consequence were obliged to wander for forty years in the wilderness.350 Further, Moses had a dispute with Korah, whom the earth swallowed up,351 and he was wrongly accused. This last statement may be either a reference to the matter of Korah, or to the dispute with Aaron and Miriam.

These are the main events of Moses’s life as they are given in the Koran, and we have arranged them partly according to the order of their mention in that book, but more with reference to our better source. Besides all this, a wonderful journey which Moses is said to have taken with his servant352 is given, about which we shall speak further on. To pass on now to details.

Haman353 and Korah354 are mentioned as counselors of Pharaoh and persecutors of the Israelites. The latter is alluded to in this capacity by the rabbis,355 who say: “Korah was the chief steward over Pharaoh’s house.” As to the former, Muhammad must at some time have heard him mentioned as the Jews’ enemy, and therefore have put him in here, although later Arabians do not thus designate the Haman356 who lived in the time of Ahasuerus. The rabbis also say a good deal about Pharaoh’s advisers, amongst whom they sometimes mention Balaam, Job, and Jethro. Of these the first agreed with Pharaoh and for this reason he was afterwards killed by the Israelites; the second remained silent, therefore he had to endure sufferings; the third fled, and so the happiness of being the father-in-law of Moses fell to his lot. The two chief magicians, who are also mentioned in a letter of the apostle Paul, are specially named as abettors. Fear on account of some dream357 is given as the greatest cause of persecution; and this is in accord with the statement of the rabbis that it was foretold to Pharaoh by the magicians358 that a boy would be born who would lead the Israelites out of Egypt; then he thought, if all male children were thrown into the river, this one would be thrown with them.

The finding of Moses is attributed to Pharaoh’s wife,359 and she is mentioned as a belioever,360 evidently having been confounded with Pharaoh’s daughter, by whom Moses was found according to the Scriptures, 361 and in the same way the name given to Pharaoh’s wife by the commentators is a corruption of the name362 by which his daughter was known among the Jews.

The words of the Bible: “Shall I go and call thee a nurse of the Hebrew women?”363 give rise to the following rabbinical fable:364 “Why must the nurse be a Hebrew woman? This shows that he refused the breast of all the Egyptian women. For God said: ‘Shall the mouth that is one day to speak with me suck an unclean thing?’ ”365

According to Muhammad Moses regarded his slaying of the Egyptian as sinful and repented thereof,366 which is contrary to the Jewish view,367 expressed as follows; “The verse in the 24th Psalm (according to the reading of the Kethibh; ‘Who took not away his soul out of vanity’) refers to the soul of the Egyptian, which Moses did not take away, until he had investigated his case judicially and had found that he deserved death.” That the Hebrew whom he released strove again on the following day with an Egyptian,368and that he betrayed Moses, because he would not uphold him, but on the contrary reproved him for his quarrelsome temper is mere embellishment, as is also the very happy invention of a man who warned Moses to flee.369

There is a mistake to be found in the very brief account of Moses’ flight to Midian and his residence there, for Muhammad speaks of two370 instead of seven371 daughters of the Midianite. Instead of letting the vision in the bush be the occasion of Moses’ leaving Midian, as it is in the Bible,372 Muhammad erroneously makes out that Moses had formed the resolution to leave the country before this event, and that the vision appeared to him on the way.373

The appearance of Moses before Pharaoh is connected in a remarkable way with the divine commission to the former. So closely are the two circumstances bound together that in many places Pharaoh’s answer follows immediately upon God’s command, without its having first been mentioned that Moses and Aaron had gone in obedience to God to Egypt, had done wonders before Pharaoh, and had admonished him. But on the other hand in those passages where only the admonitions given by Moses to Pharaoh are related, without the preceding events being given, the part elsewhere omitted is of course supplied, but as we might expect with changes.

Pharaoh is said to have reproached Moses with the murder of the Egyptian.374 This is a very simple invention, which however is contrary to the literal sense of the Scriptures,375 unless we accept the rabbinical explanation 376 of the words, “the king of Egypt died,”377 that is, “he became leprous and a leper is as one dead;” and also of the words, “for all are died who sought thy life”378 which is as follows: “Were they dead? They were Dathan and Abiram, who were involved in the dispute of Korah. This only means that they had become powerless.”379 Further, Moses is supposed to have shown the sign of his leprous hand before Pharaoh,380 which is not mentioned in Scripture,381 but which agrees with the following statement in the rabbinical writings:382 “He put his hand into his bosom, and drew it out as white as snow from leprosy; they also put their hands into their bosoms and drew them out as white as snow from leprosy.”

The magicians who were summoned asked at first, in distinction from God’s messengers, for their reward;383 but when they had seen their serpents swallowed by that of Moses, they believed, praised God and were not intimidated by Pharaoh’s threats. This is quite contrary to the Bible, in which such a confession is found only after the plague of lice,384 and there too only in the form of a mere hint. Among Moses’ own people only his own tribe is said to have believed on him385, and the rabbis say386 that “the tribe of Levi was exempt from hard labor.”

Pharaoh himself was also a magician, and this he claims, according to my opinion, in his address to the other magicians.387 This is in accord with the rabbinical statement388 that the Pharaoh who lived in the days of Moses was a great magician. In other passages of the Koran,389 Pharaoh claims for himself divinity, which assumption no doubt is intended to be accepted by the people. This trait is also developed in Jewish legend,390 where we read: “Pharaoh said to them: ‘From the first have ye spoken an untruth, for lord of the world am I, I created myself and the Nile; as it is written:391 my river is mine own and I have made it for myself.”’ In another passage392 Muhammad puts the following words into Pharaoh’s month: “Is not the kingdom of Egypt mine and these rivers which flow beneath me?” Elpherar, with others,393 remarks on the words “beneath me,” that they mean “by my command.”

A quite new but charming fiction is that of a pious Egyptian, who warned his countrymen not to despise the teaching of Moses and not to persecute him.394 Certain features of this story sound familiar. For instance, the words in verse 29: “If he be a liar, on him will the punishment of his falsehood light; but if he speaketh the truth, some of those judgments with which he threateneth you will fall upon you,” bear a resemblance to the words of Gamaliel in the New Testament. The allusion to Joseph in verse 86 is found in a very dissimilar Jewish tradition, as follows; 395 “If Joseph had not been, we should not be alive.”

Muhammad is not clear about the plagues. In some passages396 he speaks of nine plagues. In another passage397 he enumerates five, which stand in the following order: flood, locusts, lice, frogs, and blood. Although we cannot here find fault with the want of order in the plagues and with the omission of some of them since Muhammad here is not, any more than is the Psalmist,398 to be considered as a strict historian, yet the mistaken inclusion of a flood, which is not to be confounded with the overthrow in the sea,399may fairly be considered as a proof of the want of reliable information on the subject. The fear of the Israelites400 at the approach of the Egyptians by the Red Sea is also mentioned by Muhammad.401

Now we come to a circumstance, which is also taken from Jewish legend, but which has been almost entirely misunderstood, from ignorance of its origin. The passage402 may be translated as follows:

And we caused the children of Israel to pass through the sea, and Pharaoh and his army followed them in a violent and hostile manner, until when he was drowning, he said: “I believe that there is no God but He on Whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am now one of the resigned”; on which God said [or perhaps this is to be read in the first person, so that this verse too expresses Pharaoh’s penitence, and the next verse begins the expression of God’s answer], “Thou hast been hitherto one of the rebellious and wicked doers. This day, however, will we save thee with thy body, that thou mayest be a sign to those who shall be after thee”403

This is the quite simple meaning of the words, which has been turned and twisted about by others, because they were ignorant of the following Jewish legend:404 “Recognize the power of repentance! Pharaoh, King of Egypt, rebelled excessively against the Most High saying: ‘Who is God that I should hearken to His voice?’405 but with the same tongue he repented saying: ‘Who is like Thee, O Lord, among the Gods ?’406 God delivered him from the dead, for it is written: ‘For now I had put forth my hand and smitten thee,’407 but God let him live to proclaim His power and might, even as it is written in Exodus, ix. 16.”

On the occasion of the striking of the rock Muhammad makes twelve streams gush out, so that each individual tribe had its own particular stream. Apparently this is a confusion of the events at Raphidim, where the rock was struck,408 with those at Elim where the Israelites found twelve wells.409 On these wells the commentator Rashi, probably following earlier expositors says: “They found them ready for them, in number as the twelve Tribes.”

When it came at last to the giving of the Law, the Israelites are said to have rebelled; but God threatened them that He would overturn the mountain410 upon them if they would not accept the Law. The Jews also say that God threatened to cover them with the mountain as with a basin turned upside down.411 But now the Israelites demanded that they themselves should see God; they died at the sight of Him, but were afterwards raised again.412 The corresponding rabbinical statement may be translated as follows:

The Israelites desired two things of God, that they might see His glory and hear His voice; and both were granted them, as it is written:413 “Behold the Lord our God hath showed us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice out of the midst of the fire.” Then they had no power to bear it, for when they came to Sinai and He appeared to them, their soul departed at His speech, as it is written:414 “My soul went forth when he spake.” The Law (the Torah) however interceded with God for them saying: “Would a king marry his daughter and slay all is household?” The whole world rejoices (on account of my appearance), and shall thy children (the Israelites) die? At once their souls returned to them, therefore it is written:415 “The Law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul.”

The story of the calf is also one of those which Muhammad, following the rabbis, has found it easy to embellish. He says that the people would have killed Aaron, if he had not made them a calf;416 and the rabbis say:417 “Aaron saw Hur (who had wished to oppose them) killed; then he thought: if I do not listen to them they will do with me as with Hur.” According to another statement of the Koran418 one of the Israelites, named Samiri, led them astray and also made the calf. This arose perhaps from Samael, the name of one who is supposed by the Jews to have been helpful at the making of the calf; but at any rate the tale has been differently developed by Muhammad. According to him this was one of the Israelites who was present, and whom Moses condemned to everlasting wandering,419 so that he was compelled to say perpetually, “Touch not.” One recognizes that this legend is composed of different elements. It is not foreign to Jewish tradition that another Israelite, not Aaron, made the calf, and according to one legend, Micah,420 who is mentioned in Judges, helped in the making;421 whence it comes that many Arabians assert that Samiri and Micah are one and the same person;422 Perhaps Muhammad formed the word Samiri from a confusion with the name Samael.

Samiri was the name for Samaritan, and according to the Arabians the Samaritans said, “Touch us not.”423 With how much reason the Arabians hold this is indeed unknown, perhaps only from confusion with a sect of the Pharisees described as bad in the Talmud, where it is named “The set-apart, touch me not;” but I have only a dim recollection of the passage. In short the Samaritans were certainly known to later Arabians by this name, and Muhammad doubtless knew them by it too; and since he gave the name of Samaritan to the maker of the calf, this man must have seemed to him to be the founder of the sect, and the “Touch me not” must have originated with him, which as a punishment was known to Muhammad from the similar story of the wandering Jew. Muhammad says that the calf lowed as it come forth.424 With this is to be compared the rabbinical statement: “There came forth this calf425 lowing, and the Israelites saw it. Rabbi Jehuda says that Samael entered into it and lowed in order to mislead Israel.”426In the Koran it is said427 that among the people of Moses there was a tribe which kept to the truth. This seems to refer to the tribe of Levi and especially to their behavior about the calf, although possibly it may refer also to their belief in Moses’s mission to Pharaoh of which we have spoken before. In the biblical account a statement is made,428 which is explained by the rabbis as follows: 429 “From Exodus, xxxii. 26, it is clear that the tribe of Levi was not implicated in the matter of the golden calf.” The Arabian commentators produce the most unedifying fables about this passage.

In the events which follow abbreviations are to be found, but neither changes nor embellishments, except in the story of the dispute with Korah, which gives rise to some. Korah is said to have had such riches that a number of strong men were required to carry the keys of his treasure-chamber, 430 and the rabbis tell, “Joseph buried three treasures in Egypt, one of which became known to Korah. Riches kept by the owner to his hurt431 may be applied to the riches of Korah. The keys of Korah’s treasure chamber were a burden for three hundred white mules.” It is implied in the same Talmudic passage that he became overbearing and quarrelsome from the possession of such riches, and Muhammad embellishes this idea in a fine manner. One passage in the Koran may refer to this dispute, for it says there that some persons had accused Moses, but that God cleared him from the charge which they had brought against him.432 Some of the commentators also refer the passage to this event, while they bring forward the following story, which we give in Elpherar’s words: “Abu’l-‘Aliah says that it refers to the fact that Korah had hired a bad woman, who accused Moses before all the people of bad conduct with herself. God made her dumb, cleared Moses of the accusation, and destroyed Korah.” This is actually supposed to have happened after Moses had made known the law about adultery, and after the enquiry as to whether it applied to him also had been answered by him in the affirmative.433 The rabbis also allude to this in the following words:434 “And when Moses heard it, he fell on his face. What did he hear? That he was blamed for being intimate with the wife of another”; and in another passage we read:435 “Each man suspected his wife on account of Moses.”

Other commentators understand that the accusation was that Moses had killed Aaron, because the two were alone together when Aaron died on Mount Hor; but Moses was cleared from this by the angels, who produced Aaron’s corpse. This is also a rabbinical idea, for we read in the Midrash Tanchuma:

All the congregation saw that Aaron was dead.436 When Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain, the whole congregation came together against them asking them: “Where is Aaron?” They said: “He is dead.” They replied: “How can the death angel come to a man who has once resisted him and held him back? for it is written:437 He (Aaron) stood between the dead and the living and the plague was stayed. If you produce him, well; if not, we will stone you.” Moses then prayed: “Lord of the world, clear me from this suspicion.” Then God immediately opened the grave and showed Aaron to them, and to this refers the passage: “The whole congregation saw, etc.”

Here I omit entirely a third very insipid fable which the commentators mention, and which seems to them to be the most probable occasion of the verse, but I cannot trace it to any Jewish source. The most correct view is, as Wahl has already remarked, that the verse refers to the reproaches of Aaron and Miriam.438 In short the fifth verse of sura LXI is about the answer of Moses to the disputants. Here the commentators give only the fable not quoted by us, just because here, as in the second passage, they repeat only the most universally accepted view. But this cannot prevent us from holding to our opinion. Of the journey described by Muhammad439 I could not find a trace in Jewish writings, although the coloring is Jewish.440 Moses is said to have gone with his servant to see the place where two seas meet, and to have forgotten a fish, which they were taking with them for food and which sprang into the sea. When they went back to seek it, a servant of God met them and made the journey with them, telling them beforehand that his actions would rouse their impatience. He sank a ship, killed a youth and propped up a wall; and only when they parted did he give sufficient reasons for these actions. The story following this about Dhu’l-Qarnain441 might well refer to Moses, the shining one,442 if anything of the sort were known about him.

Of the individual laws which are mentioned historically in the Koran, only one, viz., that relating to the red heifer,443 affords material for a narrative, and that is given444 in very unnecessary fullness and with manifold errors. In the first place Muhammad confounds the red heifer445 with the calf which is slain for one murdered by an unknown hand,446 and he also makes the dead man live again447 on being struck with a piece of the animal. In view of such great distortions we must not deal hardly with him for the following small one; he says that the cow must be of one year,448in contradiction to the rabbinical statement that she had to be a two-year old.449

As to those persons who come into the history of Moses, we have already disposed of Pharaoh, Aaron and Korah, while we have only mentioned others and therefore must add more about them. Miriam is praised in the Scripture and called a prophetess, but the rabbis value her still more highly and say of her:450 “The angel of death had no power over Miriam, but she died from the divine afflation, and therefore worms could not touch her.” According to Muhammad451 Miriam is the mother of Jesus.452 Although Miriam’s name is not mentioned in the passage where she is alluded to in the history of Moses,453 yet there is not the slightest doubt that Muhammad took both Marys for one and the same person; for the Talmudic utterance already cited, viz., that Miriam did not die through the angel of death, could easily be turned into a statement of a long, if not endless, life for her, especially by Muhammad, who treats chronology pretty much according to his own pleasure. The other person who appears in the history of Moses is his father-in-law Jethro. Now it is true that his name, like that of Miriam, is not mentioned in the story of Moses,454hence the Muhammadan tradition connects this Midianite (as the Koran simply designates the father-in-law of Moses) with Shu‘aib, the Arabic name for Jethro, and so they came to be considered as one and the same, not however without more or less opposition. Thus Elpherar says:455“Opinions are divided as to the name of Moses’ wife’s father. Many say he was the prophet Shu’aib; others that he was Jethro, the nephew of Shu‘aib who died before him; others again that he was a man who believed on Shu’aib.” But the most widespread tradition is that it was Shu’aib himself.

Thus Elpherar always calls him by this name, when mentioning him in connection with these events and Abulfeda456 relates just this one thing about Shu’aib, viz., that he was the father-in-law of Moses, without giving any other opinion. Though his name is not mentioned in this connection in the Koran, other events independent of Moses’ life are related of him, particularly his admonition of the Midianites, which is said by the rabbis to have been the cause of the hatred of that people towards him.457 Muhammad took up the admonition without mentioning the consequence which it entailed on Jethro, viz., the driving away of his daughters, which was just the circumstance which led to Jethro’s connection with the life of Moses. According to Muhammad an immediate punishment fell on the Midianites.458 The rabbis have the following on the subject:

The priest of Midian had seven daughters.460 God hates idolatry and did He give Moses a refuge with an idolater? Concerning this our teachers tell us: Jethro was priest of the idols, but knew their worthlessness, despised idolatry and had thought of being converted even before Moses came. Then he called his fellow-townsmen and said to them: “Till now I have served you, but now I am old, choose you another priest: and he gave them back the vessels of service.” Then they put him under a ban, so that no one conversed with him, no one worked for him, no one tended his flocks; and when he asked this service from the shepherds, they would not give it. The shepherds came and drove them away.461 Was it possible? Jethro was the priest of Midian and the shepherds drove away his daughters? But this shows that they had put him under a ban, and for this reason they drove his daughters away.

In the mouth of the people, or more probably from Muhammad himself, the legend received the embellishment that Jethro wanted to convert his fellow-countrymen to the faith, and that they were punished on account of their unbelief. A reproach which is specially brought against them, or rather the point of the exhortation, viz., to give just weight and measure,462 must be founded on some legend or other, although I have not yet come across it in Jewish writings.463 Jethro shows himself as a preacher quite according to Muhammad’s ideas. He preaches about the Last Day464and asserts that he desires no reward;465 on the other hand his townspeople reproach him with working no miracles.466 I have presented the facts and quotations here as though there were no doubt that all these passages refer to Jethro, but exception might be taken to this. An altogether different name is found in the Koran, and it is not easy to explain how Jethro came by it. However, we must first try to show that Shu’aib and Jethro are identical, and then put forward our conjectures as to how the many-named Jethro added this name to his others. The identity is first shown by the fact that those to whom he was sent are called “Midianites;”467 in the second place, the two first passages468 give the events concerning him between the story of Lot and that of Moses.

Now if we can find among the rabbis any intimation favorable to this supposition, then nothing important will remain to oppose its adoption469 as a probable hypothesis. Very little, however, can be adduced to show how Shu‘aib and Jethro came to be one and the same person. Muhammad may have confused the name Hobab—often used for Jethro and probably pronounced Chobab—with Shu’aib. Perhaps an etymological explanation may be thought of here, for the rabbis assert that the staff used later by Moses and called the divine staff grew in Jethro’s garden.470 Now Sha‘ba means staff and Shu’aib may be taken as the possessor of the staff. If Shu’aib is the same as Jethro, there are passages471 in which the former is mentioned, while those to whom he is sent are not called Midianites; and so we find a new name for these people, viz., “men of the wood,” which name is evidently derived from the thorn bushes which were in the vicinity.

It remains for us to justify the bringing forward of two more passages, 472 and it is all the more difficult for us to do so, because in order to prove our point we must accuse Muhammad himself of a misunderstanding. In these passages Shu’aib is not mentioned, but the people who are held up as a warning are called “men of the well,” without any other particulars being given about them. But further these “men of the well”473 are mentioned in one passage along with the “men of the wood,” and so it seems certain that Muhammad regarded them as two different peoples; but nevertheless we allow ourselves to believe them to be really identical.

The real reason for bringing Jethro into the Koran is, as we have already remarked, the quarrel of the shepherds with his daughters, although the fact itself is not mentioned in that book; and it is thus easy to understand that the Jews may have sometimes called the Midianites by this name, i.e., “men of the well.” No other circumstances related about these persons mentioned in the Koran would authorize this appellation. The story of Jacob at the well (setting aside the fact that not the slightest allusion to it is to be found in the Koran) has in it no trace of hostility; and so the conjecture is not too daring that, as a matter of fact, all these three, viz., the Midianites, the people of the wood, and the people of the well, are the same, but that Muhammad regarded the first two only as identical and looked on the last as different. Still this tradition seems to have been received even among the Arabs, for we find in Elpherar474 among other explanations the following: “Wahb says that the people of the well sat beside it (the well), and the shepherds served idols. Then God sent Shu‘aib, who was to exhort them to Islam, but they remained in their error, and continued their efforts to harm Shu’aib. While they sat round the well in their dwellings the spring bubbled up and gushed over them and their houses, so that they were all ruined.” In like manner Jalalu’d-din says:475 “Their prophet is called by some Shu’aib, by others differently.” This admission of the Arabic commentators strengthens our opinion considerably.

Another person of some importance in the Mosaic age is said by some Arabic commentators to be alluded to in the Koran476 but many others dispute the allusion. Elpherar quotes four different opinions on this passage. The first opinion is that it refers to Balaam, for which he quotes many authorities, and relates the history of Balaam in almost complete accord with the Bible narrative.Jalalu’d-din and Zamakhahari refer this to Balaam, and call him Balaam the son of Ba’ura. Beyond these no other persons who come into the life of Moses, or who were important in his time, are mentioned, and thus our second part comes to an end.


The history following immediately on the time of Moses, including the time of the Judges, must either have seemed to Muhammad unedifying, which is improbable, as the story of that heroic age was quite in accord with his feelings and aims; or else it must have been wholly unknown to him, and this appears to have been the case from the fact that he speaks of the choosing of a king as an event happening after Moses,477 in terms which can only mean immediately or very soon after Moses. Saul stands very much in the background; for on the one hand his history was known to Muhammad only in a very abbreviated form, and on the other hand the Prophet had such an undefined notion of Saul’s personality that he attributes to him the actions of others. Saul’s history is related in the Koran478 in the following manner:

After Moses the Israelites desired a king, in order that they might go out under him to the Holy War;479 to which however only a few of them afterwards went. The prophet (Samuel) gave out that Saul was sent of God, still he seemed despicable in the eyes of the people.480 As a sign that the rule pertained to Saul, the prophet of Israel announced the return of the Ark of the Covenant. Saul then proved his troops, and allowed only those to belong to his army who drank water lapping it with the hand; this was done by very few, and even these were afraid of Goliath and his armies. David at length overcame the Philistine hosts and gained the dominion.

The circumstance that through Saul the Ark of the Covenant came back481 is contrary to Scripture, according to which the Ark came back earlier. The story of Saul’s proving his troops is evidently a confusion with that of Gideon, concerning whom this is related in the Bible,482 and has doubtless risen from the similar story of Saul’s forbidding food to the army.483 This confusion with Gideon accounts too for the saying that only a few mighty men followed Saul. The name of the prophet is not given, and later Arabians also are in ignorance about it. Saul is called Talut,484 a name probably given on account of his height.485 Muhammad notices in the Koran that Saul was of great height,486 and Baidhawi gives this derivation for his name. Goliath is called Jalut.

The personality of David is certainly more clearly grasped in the Koran, but the actual historical events of his life are scarcely touched upon. David’s victory over Goliath is mentioned incidentally in the history of Saul. Again, the story of David and Bathsheba is only distantly alluded to, in that (setting aside the passage487 in which he is called “Penitent” probably with reference to her) the parable of the case in law devised by the Prophet Pathan488 is narrated,489 and to it is added490 that David perceived that this was a sign; and after he had repented, he was received back into favor by God. According to the Koran the case in dispute is not related by the prophet, but the two disputants themselves come before David. In another passage491 mention is made of David’s and Solomon’s excellent judgment on the occasion of some quarrel unknown to us about shepherds tending flocks on strange fields at night. A remarkable circumstance is given in several passages,492 where it is stated that David compelled the mountains and the birds to praise God with him, which, as Wahl rightly remarks, owes its origin to David’s poetical address to all creatures, in which address he imagines them endowed with life and reason, and calls on them to join with him in extolling the Almighty. According to the Koran493 mankind is indebted to David for the invention of armor. This legend probably arose from David’s warlike fame, although there is much said in the Bible about Goliath’s armor. In another passage494 we find a general mention of David. In one of the Sunnas495 it is mentioned that David did with very little sleep; and Elpherar,496 in a long chain of tradition beginning with Ibn ‘Abbas and ending with ‘Amru, says: “The Apostle of God said: ‘(David) slept half the night, rose for a third, and then slept again for a sixth.’” The rabbis also speak of this, on the strength of the497 verse, “At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto Thee,” and they assert that David used to sleep only during sixty respirations.498 David is also known to Muhammad as the author of the Psalms.499 The affair of the Sabbath-breakers, who were punished by being changed into apes, is also supposed to belong to the time of David, but the circumstance is mentioned500 only in general terms, and nothing definite is given about time or details, except in verse 82, where the time is given, but not the fact. Among the Jews there is no trace of this legend.

The life of Solomon is in itself unimportant, and it is only the wisdom for which he is famed in the Bible which makes him the hero of the whole East, one might therefore expect to find much more about him in the Koran than really exists there. Muhammad speaks of his wisdom,501 and especially brings forward the fact that Solomon understood the language of the birds. This is also asserted by the rabbis, and is founded on the Biblical statement:502 “He spake of trees ... and birds.” The winds also performed his will, and the Genii were found in his following;503 this is also related, e.g., in the second Targum on the Book of Esther,504 thus: “To him were obedient demons of the most diverse sorts, and the evil spirits were given into his hand.” This legend is derived primarily from a mistaken interpretation of a passage in Ecclesiastes.505 Muhammad relates the following tale:

On one occasion the lapwing was not found in attendance on Solomon, and the King regarding him as a truant threatened to kill him. Then the lapwing came with the news that he had discovered a land as yet unknown to Solomon, which was not subject to him, the land of Sheba, in which the people together with the Queen worshipped the sun. Solomon sent the bird back with a letter summoning these people to adopt the belief in the Unity of God. He himself went thither at once with his troops, and had the Queen’s throne brought to him by a ministering angel. The Queen had been already converted, and she came into Solomon’s camp; he had her brought before him into a hall, of which the flooring was glass, and she imagining it to be water, exposed her legs.

This same story is to be found in the Targum507 already referred to, together with some other circumstances which I shall omit here. The story runs as follows:

Thereupon the partridge was sought and not found among the birds, and the King commanded angrily that it should be fetched, and he wanted to kill it. Then the partridge answered the King: “My lord and King, attend and hear my words, for three months I considered and flew about the whole world to find the town where thou wast not obeyed. Then I saw a town in the East called Kitor, where there are many people, but a woman rules over them; she is called the Queen of Sheba. If it please thee now, my lord King, I will go to that town and bind the Queen with chains and its nobles with iron fetters and bring them all here.” And it pleased the King, and Scribes were called who wrote letters and bound them to the wings of the partridge. When the bird came to the Queen she saw the letter tied on to its wing, she opened it, and these were the contents: “From me, Solomon the King, greeting to thee and to thy princes! Thou knowest well that God hath appointed me King over the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, and over the demons, spirits and spectres of the night, and that the kings of all the countries under heaven approach me in submission. If thou also wilt do this, great honor will be shown thee; if not, then I will send against thee kings and legions and horsemen. The kings are the beasts of the field; the horsemen, the birds of the air; the armies, demons and spirits; while the legions are night-mares, which will strangle you in your beds.” When the Queen had read this, she rent her clothes and sent for the elders and lords and said: “Do you know what King Solomon has sent me?” They said: “We neither know him, nor heed him.” But the Queen did not trust them, but called for ships and sent presents to the king, and after three years she went herself. When the king heard that she had come, he seated himself in a glass room. She thought the king was sitting in the water, and bared herself to go through it. When she saw his magnificence, she said:508 “Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne ... to do judgment and justice.”

We must forgive Muhammad the two slight changes he makes in the story, viz., that he turns the matter from one of government into one of religion, and that he begins the letter509 with the words: “In the name of the Merciful God.” Solomon built the Temple also by the help of the spirits, who even went on building after his death, while he remained sitting on his throne till a worm gnawed him.510

Once when Solomon became arrogant he was driven from the kingdom, and a spirit reigned in his stead until he repented.511 The Sanhedrin 512 gives the following brief account: “At first Solomon reigned even over the exalted ones, as it is written:513Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord; but afterwards only over his own stick, as it is written:514 What profit hath man of all his labor? and further,515 this was my portion from all my labor.”516 When he repented, he gave up his useless extravagances, and had his horses disabled,517 to which the following passage alludes:518 “It is wisely ordained that the reasons for the commandments are not given; they were given in two cases, and one of the greatest of men sinned. For it is written:519 The king shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses. Then Solomon thought, I will get me many horses and not send to Egypt; but it is written:520 And a chariot came up and went out of Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver.” A story about spirits, which is said to have happened in Solomon’s time,521 has already been mentioned in connection with Noah. A story about the nets, which fled before Solomon’s army, is related in the Koran,522 and remains to be noticed. It is evidently founded on the verse,523 “Go to the ant thou sluggard ... and be wise;” and based on this same foundation we have a beautiful fable in the Talmud524 but I could find there no trace of the story given in the Koran.

The story of the lapwing has gained a firm foothold in Arabic legend, and a pretty myth about the bird is found in Fakihat Elcholafa.525 For Muhammad there were no very important personages between Moses and Jesus; and such as he does mention he merely alludes to. This is not to be wondered at when Solomon, the wise man of the East, who is endowed with all manner of legendary adornment comes, comparatively speaking, so little before us in the Koran.


Many important men might be mentioned here, but Muhammad knew but few of them, and about those whom he does name he gives for the most part nothing special, but mentions them only with other pious persons. Some only are treated with a little more detail, and we will mention them here first, so as then to put the others together briefly. Of Elijah526 his dispute with the people about the worship of Baal is related briefly. In the legends of Islam as well as in those of later Judaism Elijah plays a very important part. He is that mystical person known under the name of Khizr. He is therefore the same as Phinehas, erroneously called by some the nephew of Aaron instead of his grandson, and, like Elijah the prophet in later Jewish traditions, he is the mediator between heaven and earth. It is he who appears to the pious under the most varied forms, who visits tho schools, and imparts to famous teachers that which God communicates about this or that opinion expressed by them. The Muslims too know him in this capacity, and they recognize him in the servant of God who proposed himself as a travelling companion to Moses,527 and in these actions they have the prototype of his ministry as one who appears in a miraculous manner, has intercourse with men in human fashion, and performs incomprehensible actions which only receive true significance through knowledge which is hidden from man.

Jonah is mentioned in several passages of the Koran.528 His mission to Nineveh, his being swallowed by the fish, his rescue from it, and the story of the gourd which shaded him, are all given very briefly.529 Job’s sufferings and healing are mentioned in two passages,530 and in the latter passage Muhammad adds that Job produced a cooling and refreshing fountain for himself by stamping on the earth. We know of no parallel passage to this in the rabbinical writings.

We come now to a passage531 hitherto wrongly referred which translated runs thus: “Slain were the men of the pit of the burning fire, when they sat around the same, and were witnesses of what was done to the true believers, and they wished to punish them only because they believed in the mighty and glorious God,” etc. Commentators make this refer to the punishment of a Jewish Himyarite king who persecuted the Christians, but the appellation “believers” as applied to Christians has no parallel elsewhere in the Koran, no detail bearing on this event is mentioned, and just this one form of persecution (burning) is not given by the martyrologists.

If we compare the passage with the story of the three children532 all fits in perfectly.

The three believers would not bow themselves before an idol, and were thrown into the fiery furnace; those who threw them in were slain by the heat and the believers were saved. Evidently Muhammad here alludes to this.533

It is possible that there is an allusion to the story of the revival of the dry bones534 in a passage of the Koran,535 which tells us that many who left their habitations for fear of death were slain by God, but were afterwards restored to life.536 The Talmud treats the narrative given in Ezekiel more in detail.537

Another biblical reference may perhaps be found in the words:538 “Dost thou not see how thy Lord stretches (lengthens) out the shadow when he will, makes it quiescent, then sets the sun over it as an indicator?” This I think is perhaps an allusion to the sign given to Hezekiah.539

We find more in the Koran about Ezra, if not about his history, yet about the way in which the Jews regarded him. According to the assertion of Muhammad the Jews held Ezra to be the Son of God.540 This is certainly a mere misunderstanding which arose from the great esteem in which Ezra was undoubtedly held. This esteem is expressed in the following passage:541 “Ezra would have been worthy to have made known the law if Moses had not come before him.” Truly Muhammad sought to cast suspicion on the Jews’ faith in the unity of God, and thought he had here found a good opportunity of so doing.

This utterance as an expression of the Jewish opinion of that time loses much in value when we consider the personality of that Phineas the son of Azariah, to whom it is attributed.

In the traditions of Islam there is a great deal about Ezra as the compiler of the Law. In this character also he comes before us in Scripture, and the Jews believed this of him; so the probability becomes great that Muhammad, on the one hand, intentionally exaggerated, and, on the other hand, eagerly caught up the hasty and mocking utterance of some individual to prove this point against the Jews.

The Arabian commentators according to Maraccius542 refer another passage in the Koran543 to Ezra, namely, the one where it is related of some person that he passed by a ruined city and doubted if it could ever be restored. God let him die for one hundred years, then revived him and imparted to him the assurance that one hundred years had gone by, while he believed that but one day had passed. The proof was that his food and drink had perished and his ass was mouldering away. Then behold! God put together the bones of the animal and clothed them with flesh, so that the man acknowledged: “God is mighty over all.” The fable is derived, as Maraccius rightly observes, from the ride round the ruined city of Jerusalem made by Nehemiah,544 who is often confused with Ezra.

Two other biblical characters are merely mentioned: Elisha in two passages, 545 and each time strangely enough immediately after Ishmael; and Dhul-Kifl,546 who according to his name which means the nourisher, and from the fact related of him that he nourished a hundred Israelites in a cave, must be Obadiah.547 Perhaps, however, he may be Ezekiel; who according to Niebuhr548 is called Kephil by the Arabs.549

Now all the historical allusions have been put together, and when we examine them we see unmistakably in them the verification of the hypothesis which we laid down at the beginning—namely, that Muhammad borrowed a great deal from Judaism, that he learned that which he did borrow from oral tradition, and that he sometimes altered it to suit his purpose.... We have attempted to show that Muhammad really did borrow from Judaism, and that conceptions, matters of creed, views of morality, and of life in general, and more especially matters of history and of traditions, have actually passed over from Judaism into the Koran.

And now our task is practically ended. If a thorough demonstration has been made of all these points, then the questions as to whether Muhammad did borrow from Judaism, and what and how he so borrowed, have been sufficiently answered. Now, as a supplementary note we add a summary of the passages in which Muhammad’s attribute towards Judaism seems to be negative and even hostile. Some of these passages oppose Judaism, some abrogate laws binding on the Jews, and some allude to Jewish customs without imposing them upon the Arabs. But since we consider the question, the answer to which forms the subject of our theme, as now fully answered, without giving the results of further investigation, we therefore do not give these results as a part of this work itself, but add them as an appendix.


Just as we tried before to show from the personality of Muhammad and from the spirit of his time that borrowing from Judaism had taken place, even so we wish here to show that statements hostile to Judaism are to be found in the Koran. Muhammad’s aim was to bring about a union of all creeds, and no religious community stood more in the way of the attainment of this end than the Jews with their many cumbersome laws, unknown to other religions. Further, Muhammad’s aim was to establish in and through this union such religious doctrines only as were in his opinion purified. The observance of individual laws did not seem to him of great importance, except in so far as such laws resulted immediately from those special doctrines; moreover, he loved the old Arabian customs and kept to them. The Jews on the contrary laid the greatest stress upon the punctilious fulfillment of the revealed law, and showed not the slightest desire to depart from it. While these two causes of mutual separation were founded upon the difference in the fundamental opinions of Muhammad and the Jews, another may be added which arose more from an external difference. As we have already remarked, the Jews pressed Muhammad very hard, and often annoyed him with repartee and evasions, thus rousing in him an inextinguishable hatred. Governed by this he misunderstood their religions doctrines, putting false constructions upon them, and so justifying his own deviation from them. He wished therefore to make a final separation from these hateful Jews, and to this end he established entirely different customs. Later Arabians confess that he made changes “from the necessity of abolishing resemblances to the Jews.”550 Thus, Muhammad asserts that the Jews are the enemies of the Muslims,551 that they slew prophets,552 a probable reference to Jesus; further, that they in common with Christians thought themselves specially favored by God,553 that they believed that they alone should possess paradise,554 that they held Ezra to be the son of God,555 that they trusted in the intercession of their self-pious predecessors, 556 that they had perverted the Bible557 because in its existing form that book contained no allusions to him, and that the Jews built temples on the graves of the prophets.558 Such accusations and the reasons given earlier supplied Muhammad with grounds on which to justify his departure from Jewish laws.

A. Prayer.—Supper precedes prayer.559 This is in direct opposition to the Talmud, which lays down exactly how long before prayer one may eat that the hour of prayer may not be let slip. Truly in this Muhammad wished to live so as to please his Arabs.

B. Laws about women.—Muhammad says:560 “It is lawful for you on the night of the fast to go in unto your wives.” This is clearly prescribed in opposition to the directly contrary ruling in the Talmudic law prohibiting cohabitation on the night before the fast day in Abh, that being counted as part of the fast day itself.

The laws of divorce561 are probably identical with those of the ancient Arabs. There is a remarkable passage in the Koran,562 which says that the man after he has put away his wife for the second time cannot marry her again until she has married another man, and been divorced by him too. This is directly contrary to the teaching of the Bible.563

The Muslims assert564 that the Jews of that period laid down that cohabitation was to take place in the usual way. On this Muhammad to please himself and his Arabs says:565 “Your wives are your tillage; go in therefore unto your tillage in what manner soever ye will,” etc.

C. The most important and prominent change to be considered in this connection is the removal of the prohibition about food, concerning which Muhammad asserts that it was imposed upon the Jews only on account of their iniquity.566 (It is interesting that Jesus states just the converse when he speaks of the abolition of divorce.567) Muhammad abolishes the law about meat in several passages,568 but holds to part of it in others;569 following it would seem the precedent of the apostles, to whom almost the same utterance is attributed in the New Testament.570 Thus he forbids carrion, blood, swine’s flesh, and that which has been slain for an idol; to which he adds in the first passage, that which is not properly killed, viz., that slain by strangling, or by a blow from an axe, that killed by a fall from a mountain, that which is gored, and that torn by wild beasts. These last rules, considering the total silence about them in other later passages, may be regarded as “abolished.” In another passage571 Muhammad mentions particular meats which were forbidden to the Jews.572

D. Lastly, the following utterance573 of Muhammad is decidedly combative: “We have therein commanded them that they should give life for life, and eye for eye, and nose for nose, and ear for ear, and tooth for tooth; and that wounds should also be punished by retaliation; but whoever should remit it as alms it should be accepted as an atonement for him. And whoso judgeth not according to what God hath revealed they are unjust.” The passage of Scripture which Muhammad here has in mind is in Exodus;574 and those who do not observe it are the Jews, in that they extend to all cases the permission to make atonement with money, which is given only when the injured party agrees to it. The Mishna575 runs as follows: “If a man has blinded another, or cut off his hand, or broken his foot, one must regard the injured person as though he were a slave sold in the market, and put a price upon him and reckon how much he was worth before the injury and how much now, etc.”

These are about all the chief points showing a consideration of Judaism, and the collecting of them gives us another proof that Muhammad had a personal knowledge of Judaism through acquaintance with the Jewish manner of life and through intercourse with the Jews.

If we now once more consider this treatise as a whole, we shall find that by the establishment of the fact which was to be demonstrated, viz., that Muhammad borrowed from Judaism, we come to a clear understanding of the Koran in general as well as of individual passages in it. Furthermore, the state of culture of the Arabians of that day, and especially of the Arabian Jews, is to some extent made clear, and light is thrown upon the plan of Muhammad and upon his intellectual power and knowledge by many authentic documents. Then in collecting the passages which serve as proofs we are compelled to dismiss at once the ill-considered confidence with which people are apt to speak of each legend as a dream of the rabbinical Talmudists; for although the author neither can nor will maintain that no passage bearing on his thesis has escaped him in the rabbinical literature, still this must be accepted as a fact until it can be proved that this or that has been omitted, and thus for the present we must attribute to some other source everything of which the Jewish origin has not been proved. By this, however, I do not intend to say that everything which, according to our ideas, is mythical and for which a Jewish source appears to be forthcoming, may be laid upon Judaism; for, on the one hand, the opinion or legend may originally have had a different signification and it may have reached its present extravagant development in the mouth of the people, and, on the other hand, the source itself may have had no obligatory importance, and therefore does not hold the same place with regard to Judaism as the Koran holds with regard to Islam. We must distinguish between Judaism and views derived from the Jews; this distinction, however, is unfortunately, either from ill-will or ignorance often not made.

And now I submit this treatise to you, honored readers, and your judgment will convince me of the correctness or falsity of my opinions, and as to whether my work fulfills its end or has failed in its purpose.

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