The three kings who ruled over undivided Israel. 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,4 in terms which can only mean immediately or very soon after Moses. Saul stands very much in the back ground; 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 Quran5 in the following manner: "After Moses the Israelites desired a king, in order that they might go out under him to the Holy War;6 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.1 As a sign that the tale 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 and his hosts and gained the dominion." The circumstance that through Saul the Ark of the Covenant came back2 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,3 and has doubtless risen from the similar story of Saul's forbidding food to the army.4 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.5 Saul is called Talut,6 a name probably given on account of his height.7 Muhammad notices in the Quran that Saul was of great height,8 and Baidhawi gives this derivation for his name. Goliath is called Jalut.9 The personality of David10 is certainly more clearly grasped in the Quran, 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 passage1 in which he is called "Penitent" probably with reference to her) the parable of the case in law devised by the Prophet Nathan2 is narrated,3 and to it is added4 that David perceived that this was a sign; and after he had repented, he was received back into favour by God. According to the Quran the case in dispute is not related by the prophet, but the two disputants themselves come before David. In another passage5 mention is made of David's and Solomon's excellent judgement on the occasion of some quarrel unknown to as about shepherds tending flocks on strange fields at night. A remarkable circumstance is given in several passages,6 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 Quran7 mankind is indebted to David for the invention of armour. This legend probably arose from David's warlike fame, although there is much said in the Bible about Goliath's armour. In another passage8 we find a general mention of David. In one of the Sunnas9 it is mentioned that David did with very little sleep; and Elpherar10 in a long chain of tradition beginning with Ibn 'Abba's and ending
with 'Amra, says:1 "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 the2 verse, "At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto Thee," and they assert that David used to sleep only during sixty respirations.3 David is also known to Muhammad as the author of the Psalms.4 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 mentioned5 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 Solomon6 is in itself important, 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 expect to find much more about him in the Quran than really exists there. Muhammad speaks of his wisdom,7 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:8 "He spake of trees and birds." The winds9 also performed his will, and the Genii were found in his following;10 this is also related, e.g., in the second
Targum on the Book of Esther,1 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.2 Muhammad relates the following tale:3 "On one occasion the lapwing4 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 worshiped 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 Targum5 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 tho 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 I 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 will do this, great honour 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 nightmares, 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 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:1 'Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee, to sit 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 letter1 with the words "In the name of the Merciful God." Solomon built the Temple, so 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.2
Once when Solomon became arrogant he was driven from the kingdom, and a spirit reigned in his stead until he repented.3 The Sanhedrin4 gives the following brief account: "At first Solomon reigned even over the exalted ones, as it is written:5 Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord; but afterwards only over his own stick, as it is written:6 What profit hath man of all his labour? and further,7 this was my portion from all my labour."8 When he repented, he gave up big useless extravagances, and had his horses disabled,9 to which the following passage alludes:10 "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:1 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:2 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,3 has already been mentioned in connection with Noah. A story about the ants, which fled before Solomon's army, is related in the Quran4 and remains to be noticed. It is evidently founded on the verse,5 "Go to the ant thou sluggard and be wise;" and based on this same foundation we have a beautiful fable in the Talmud,6 but I could find there no trace of the story given in the Quran.
The story of the lapwing7 has gained a firm foot hold in Arabic legend, and a pretty myth about the bird is found in Fakihat Elcholafa.8 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 Quran.