to take care of; and he placed her in a chamber shut off from anyone else to enter. But the angels came there to tend and nourish her.

Again, we read in the same Surah, vv. 37-42: —

Now when the angels said, O Mary, verily God hath chosen thee, and purified thee, and hath chosen thee over all the women of the world: O Mary, be devout towards thy Lord, and worship, and bow down with those who bow down. This is a secret history. We reveal it unto thee, although thou wast not present with them when they cast their rods as to which of them should have the education of Mary; nor wast thou with them when they strove among themselves. When the angels said, O Mary, verily God sendeth thee good tidings regarding the Word from himself; his name is Jesus the Messiah son of Mary honourable, in this world and in that to come, and one of those that approach nigh to the Almighty. And he shall speak unto men in the cradle, and when he is grown up, and he shall be one of the righteous. She said, Lord, how shall I have a son, since no man hath touched me. He said:- Thus the Lord createth that which he pleaseth. When he decreeth a thing, he but saith unto it, — Be, and it is.

The notice here given of the "casting of rods" is thus explained by Beidhawi and Jelal ood Deen. Zacharias with six and twenty other priests who sought to have the charge of Mary, went to the river, in order to choose which should be the favoured one, and cast their rods into it. All sank but that of Zacharias, who thus became Mary's guardian. Regarding all this we read in Surah xix. 16-31, as follows: —

And in the Book make mention of Mary, when she retired from her people to a place towards the East, and took a veil, apart from them. And we sent unto her our Spirit, who appeared unto her as a real man. She said, I flee for refuge from thee unto the Merciful, if thou fearest the Lord. He answered:


Verily I am the Messenger of thy Lord that I may give unto thee a holy Son. She said, How shall I have a son, for no man hath touched me, and I am no harlot. He said, So shall it be. Thy Lord saith, This is easy with me, and we shall make him a sign unto mankind, and a mercy from us; for it is a thing decreed. Whereupon she conceived him, and retired with him (in her womb) to a distant place; and the pains of childbirth came upon her by the trunk of a palm-tree. She said, Would to God I had died before this, and had become a thing forgotten, lost in oblivion! And one from beneath her called out:—Grieve not: verily thy Lord hath provided a rivulet under thee; and do thou shake the body of the palm-tree, and it shall let fall upon thee ripe dates ready gathered; so do thou eat and drink, and comfort thine eyes. Moreover, if thou seest any man, say, I have vowed a fast unto the Merciful, and I will speak to no man this day. So she came to her people, carrying the child in her arms. They said, O Mary, thou hast done a strange thing: O sister of Aaron, thy father was not a bad man, neither was thy mother a harlot. Then she made signs to the child. They said, - How shall we speak to an infant in the cradle? Whereupon the child said, Verily I am the servant of God: He hath given me the Book and hath made me a prophet.

Such, then, are the tales regarding the Virgin Mary which we find in the Qur'an and ancient Muslim Commentators. From whence did such strange fictions come? Clearly not from the true Gospel; but nearly all of them from the schismatic writings of ignorant men, spread abroad in ancient times amongst a people given to wild fictitious stories. To prove this, we now give full and satisfactory evidence. In the Protoevangelium of James the Less, written in Hellenic Greek, we have the following: —

Anna looking upwards to the heavens, saw a sparrow in its nest, and sighed saying, O me! O me! Would it were the same with me. O me! to what thing am I alike? Not like