THE DEVOUT WOMAN AND THE TWO WICKED ELDERS. (124)

There was once, of old time, a virtuous woman among the children of Israel, who was pious and devout and used every day to go out to the place of prayer, first entering a garden, which adjoined thereto, and there making the ablution. Now there were in this garden two old men, its keepers, who fell in love with her and sought her favours; but she refused, whereupon said they, 'Except thou yield thyself to us, we will bear witness against thee of fornication.' Quoth she, 'God will preserve me from your wickedness!' Then they opened the garden-gate and cried out, and the folk came to them from all sides, saying, 'What ails you?' Quoth they, 'We found this damsel in company with a youth, who was doing lewdness with her; but he escaped from our hands.'

Now it was the use of the people of those days to expose an adulteress to public ignominy for three days and after stone her. So they pilloried her three days, whilst the two old men came up to her daily and laying their hands on her head, said, 'Praised be God who hath sent down His vengeance on thee!'

On the fourth day, they carried her away, to stone her; but a lad of twelve years old, by name Daniel, followed them to the place of execution and said to them, 'Hasten not to stone her, till I judge between them.' So they set him a chair and he sat down and caused bring the old men before him separately. (Now he was the first that separated witnesses.) Then said he to the first, 'What sawest thou?' So he repeated to him his story, and Daniel said, 'In what part of the garden did this befall?' 'On the eastern side,' replied the elder, 'under a pear-tree.' Then he called the other old man and asked him the same question; and he replied, 'On the western side of the garden, under an apple-tree.' Meanwhile the damsel stood by, with her hands and eyes uplift to heaven, imploring God for deliverance. Then God the Most High sent down His vengeful thunder upon the two old men and consumed them and made manifest the innocence of the damsel.

This was the first of the miracles of the Prophet Daniel, on whom and on the Prophet be blessing and peace!




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