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(Masnavi Book 3: 17) Pharaoh’s dream of the coming of Moses

The Story of Pharaoh's dream of the coming of Moses, on whom be peace, and how he took thought to relieve himself (of the threatened danger).

840. Inasmuch as Pharaoh's toil was unblest (by God), whatsoever he would stitch, that
(stitching) was (in effect an act of) ripping asunder.
He had a thousand astrologers at his beck, and also a countless multitude of dream-interpreters and magicians.
There was shown to him in a dream the coming of Moses, who would destroy Pharaoh and his
He said to the interpreters and astrologers, How may (the fulfilment of) the ill-boding phantasm and dream be warded off?”
They all said to him, “We will contrive something, we will waylay the birth (of Moses), like brigands.

845. (They waited) till the night arrived on which the begetting (of Moses) took place; those
Pharaoh's men deemed it advisable,
Early on that day, to bring forth the King's banquet and throne towards the maydán (public arena outside of the city),
(Proclaiming), Welcome, O all ye Israelites! The King calls you from that place (where ye are),

That he may show unto you his face unveiled, and do kindness unto you for the sake of the
(Divine) recompense”;
For to those captives there was naught but farness (from Pharaoh's presence): the sight of
Pharaoh was not permitted (to them).

850. If they fell in with him on the road, they would lie (flat) on their faces on account of the law.
The law was this: no captive in or out of season shall behold the countenance of that Prince, And whenever on the road he hears the shout of the (royal) beadles, he shall turn his face
towards a wall, that he may not see;
And if he see his face, he shall be guilty of a crime, and the worst punishment shall befall him. They (the Israelites) had a greed for the inaccessible countenance, since Man is  greedy for that
which has been forbidden.

How they summoned the Israelites to the maydán, as a device to prevent the begetting of Moses, on whom be peace.

855. O captives, go ye to the maydán, for there is hope (for you) of seeing (Pharaoh) and
(experiencing) munificence from the King of kings.”
When the Israelites heard the glad news, they were thirsting and longing  exceedingly for that
They swallowed the trick and hastened in that direction and made themselves ready for the
(promised) unveiling.


(’Twas) even as (when) here the crafty Moghul said,I am seeking a certain one of the
Bring the Egyptians together on this side, in order that he who is wanted may come to hand.”

860. Whenever any one came, he said, “It is not this one: oh, come in, sir, and sit in that corner,”
Till in this fashion they all were assembled, and they (the Moghuls) beheaded them by means of
this trick.
(Through) the ill-starredness (which they incurred in consequence) of the fact that they would not obey God's summoner (and turn submissively) towards the call to prayer,
The invitation of the deceiver inveigled them. O righteous man, beware of the deceit of the Devil! Hearken to the cry of the poor and needy, lest yours ear receive (with approval) the cry of a cunning rogue.

865. (Even) if the beggars (dervishes) are covetous and depraved, (yet) seek the man of heart (the spiritual man) amongst the gluttons.
At the bottom of the sea there are pearls (mingled) with pebbles: glories are (to be found)
amidst shames.
The Israelites, then, bestirred themselves mightily, running betimes towards the maydán. When he (Pharaoh) by cunning had brought them into the maydán, he displayed his face to them, looking very fresh (cheerful and gay).
He showed fondness and gave presents: that Emperor bestowed both gifts and promises.

870. After that, he said:For your lives' sake, do ye all sleep in the maydán tonight!”
They answered him, saying, “We will do service (to thee): if you desire, we will dwell here a month.

How Pharaoh returned from the maydán to the city, glad at having parted the
Israelites from their wives on the night of the conception (of Moses).

At nightfall the King came back (to the city), rejoicing and saying (to himself), “The conception is to-night, and they are far from their wives.”
Imrán, his treasurer, also came to the city in attendance upon him as his companion.
He said,O ‘Imrán, do you sleep at this door. Beware! go not to your wife or seek to lie with her.”

875. He replied, I will sleep at this portal of thine; I will think of naught but your pleasure.
Imrán, too, was one of the Israelites, but he was (dear as) heart and soul to Pharaoh.
How should he (Pharaoh) have thought that he (‘Imrán) would disobey (Pharaoh's orders) and do that which (was) the dread of Pharaoh's soul?

How ‘Imn lay with the mother of Moses and how the mother of Moses, on him be peace, became

The King departed, and he (‘Imrán) slept at the door; at midnight his wife came to see him. The wife fell upon him and kissed his lips: she roused him from his slumber in the night.

880. He awoke and saw that his wife was fair and that she rained kisses from her lips upon his.
Imrán said, “How didst you come at this time? She said, From desire (of thee) and from the
Divine ordinance.”
The man drew her lovingly into his arms; at that moment he did not rise to (did not engage in)
battle with himself.
Concubuit cum ea et depositum (semen) tradidit; then he said, O wife, this is not a small matter.
A steel struck upon the stone, and a fire was born—a fire that shall take vengeance on the King and his empire.

885. I am as the cloud, you the earth, and Moses the plant. God is (as) the king on the chessboard, and we are checkmated, checkmated.
Deem (both) checkmate and victory (to proceed) from the King, O spouse: do not deem them to be from us, do not jeer at us.
That of which this Pharaoh is afraid came into being at the moment when I lay with you.

How after having lain with her Imrán charged his wife to pretend that she had not visited him.

Do not reveal aught of these things, do not breathe a word, lest there come upon me and you a hundred sorrows.
In the end the effects of this will be made manifest, forasmuch as the signs have (already)
appeared, O beloved.”

890. Forthwith from the direction of the maydán loud cries were (heard) coming from the people, and the air was filled (with noise).
Thereupon the King, in terror, sprang forth bare-footed (from his chamber), saying, “Hark, what are these tumults?
What is the noise and uproar from the direction of the maydán, in fear whereof genie and demon
are fleeing in dismay?”
Imrán said, “May our King live (long)! The people of Israel are rejoicing on account of you. Because of the bounty of the King they are making merry and dancing and clapping their hands.

895. He (Pharaoh) said, “Maybe it is this, but it makes me very suspicious and anxious.

How Pharaoh was frightened by the noise.

This sound has marred my soul and aged me with bitter pain and grief.”
The King was pacing to and fro, all night he was even as a woman in the hour of childbirth. Every moment he would say, O Imrán, these clamours have upset me mightily.”
Poor Imrán had not the courage to relate his intercourse with his wife,

900. How the wife of Imrán had stolen to his side, so that the star of Moses appeared. Whenever any prophet enters into the womb, his star becomes conspicuous in the sky.

The appearance of the star of Moses, on whom be peace, in the sky and the outcry of the astrologers in the maydán.

His star appeared in the sky, to the confusion of Pharaoh and his plots and devices.
Day broke: he (Pharaoh) said to him (‘Imrán),OImrán, go, inform yourself concerning that uproar and noise.
Imrán rode to the maydán and said, What uproar was this? The King of kings has not slept.”

905. Every astrologer, with head bare and garment rent, kissed the earth (before him), like mourners.
Their voices were choked with lamentation, like mourners, and their guise (dishevelled).
They had plucked out their beards and hair; their faces were torn; they had cast earth on their heads, and their eyes were filled with blood.
He (‘Imrán) said, “Is it well (with you)? What is this perturbation and emotion? Does the unlucky year give an evil sign?
They offered excuses and said, O Amír, the hand of His predestination has made us captive.

910. We have done all this, and (now) Fortune is darkened: the King's enemy has come into being and has prevailed.
During the night the star of that boy became clearly visible, to our confusion, on the front of
The star of that prophet shot up in the sky: we, from weeping, began to shed stars (glistening tears).
Imrán, with a right glad heart and from hypocrisy, was beating his hands on his head and crying, Alas, all is lost.
Imrán feigned to be wrathful and grim, he went (amongst them) senseless and witless, like madmen.

915. He feigned to be ignorant and pushed forward and addressed to the company (of astrologers) words exceeding rough.
He made himself out to be bitterly annoyed and grieved, he played (with) reversed dice. He said to them, Ye have deceived my King, ye have not refrained from treachery and covetousness.
Ye roused the King (to go) towards the maydán, ye let our King's honour go to waste.
Ye put your hands on your breasts in warrant, saying, ‘We will set the King free from cares.

920. The King too heard (how the astrologers excused themselves) and said, O traitors, I will hang you up without quarter.
I exposed myself to derision, I squandered riches on my enemies,
To the end that to-night all the Israelites might remain far away from meeting with their wives.

Wealth and honour are gone, and all is done in vain: is this (true) friendship and (are these) the deeds of the noble?
For years ye have been taking stipends and robes of honour and devouring kingdoms as ye pleased.

925. Was this (the only result of) your judgement and wisdom and astrology? Ye are lickspittles and deceivers and ill-omened.
I will rend you to pieces and set you ablaze, I will tear off your noses and ears and lips. I will make you fuel for the fire, I will make your past pleasure unsweet to you.”
They prostrated themselves and said, O Khedive, if (this) one time the Devil has prevailed against us,
(Yet) for years we have warded off afflictions: the imagination is dumbfounded by that which we
have done.

930. (Now) it (the prevention of this calamity) has eluded us, and his conception has occurred: semen ejus exsiliit et in uterum irrepsit;
But (we crave) pardon for this, (and) we shall watch the day of birth, O King and Sovereign.
We shall observe (by the stars) the day of his nativity, that this event may not escape and evade us.
If we do not keep watch for this, kill us, O you to whose judgement (our) thoughts and intelligence are slaves.”
For nine months he was counting day after day, lest the arrow of the Decree that transfixes its enemy should fly (from the bow).

935. Any one who makes a night-attack upon (lies in wait to oppose) Doom falls headlong and drinks of his own blood.
When the earth shows enmity to the sky, it becomes salty (barren) and presents a spectacle of death.
(When) the picture (creature) struggles hand to hand with the Painter (Creator), it (only) tears out its own moustaches and beard.

How Pharaoh summoned the women who had new-born children to the maydán, (doing this) also for the sake of his plot (against Moses).

After nine months the King brought out his throne to the maydán and made a strict proclamation.
O women, go with your babes to the maydán; go forth, all ye of Israel.

940. Just as last year robes of honour were bestowed on the men, and every one of them bore away gold,
Hark, O women, this year it is your fortune, so that each one (of you) may obtain the thing she desires.
He will give the women robes of honour and donations; on the children too he will put mitres of
Take heed! Every one of you that has borne a child during this month shall receive treasures from the mighty King.
The women went forth with their babes: they came joyfully to the King's tent.

945. Every woman that had newly given birth went forth from the city to the maydán, unsuspicious of guile and vengeance.
When all the women were gathered around him, they (the King's officers) took away from the mothers whatever was male,

And cut off its head, saying, This is a precaution, that the (King's) enemy may not grow up and that disorder may not increase.”
How Moses was born and how the officers came to Imrán's house and how it was divinely revealed to the mother of Moses that she should cast Moses into the fire.
Imrán's wife herself, who had brought Moses (with her), kept aloof from that turmoil and fume. That villain (Pharaoh) sent the midwives into the houses for the purpose of spying.

950. They gave information of her, saying, “Here is a child: she (his mother) did not come to the maydán: (make inquiry), for she is under suspicion and doubt.
In this street there is a comely woman: she has a child, but she is an artful one.” Then the officers came: she, by the command of God, cast the child into the stove.
From that omniscient One revelation came to the woman that this boy is of the stock of the
Friend (of God),
(And that) through the protection of (the Divine word), O fire, be cool, the fire will not be hot and untamed.

955. In consequence of the revelation the woman cast him amidst the sparks: the fire produced no effect on the body of Moses.
Then the officers went away without having attained their object, (but) again the informers, who
were aware of it,
Raised an altercation with the officers before Pharaoh for the sake of (earning) some petty coins, Saying, O officers, go back thither, and look very carefully in the upper rooms.”

How it was divinely revealed to the mother of Moses that she should throw Moses into the water.

Once more the revelation came: Throw him into the water; keep your face in hope and do not tear your hair.

960. Throw him into the Nile and put trust (in Me): I will bring you to him happily.”
This discourse has no end. All his (Pharaoh's) plots (only) entangled his (own) legs and feet. He was killing hundreds of thousands of children outside, (whilst) Moses (remained) indoors in the upper part of the house.
Wherever were embryos (new-born children), in his frenzy that far-seeing blind man was killing them by cunning devices.
The craft of the iniquitous Pharaoh was a dragon: it had devoured the craft of the kings of the

965. But one that was a greater Pharaoh than it came into sight and swallowed both him and his craft.
It (Pharaoh's craft) was a dragon: the rod (of Moses) became a dragon, and this devoured that by the aid of God.
Hand is above hand: how far is this (series)? Up to God, for unto Him is the end.
For that (Omnipotence) is a sea without bottom or shore: beside it all the seas together are (but)
as a torrent.
If (human) devices and expedients are a dragon, (yet) beside (there is no god) except Allah they all are naught.

970. Now that my exposition has reached this point, it lays down its head and expires; and
God best knoweth the right course.
That which was in Pharaoh, the same is in you, but your dragon is confined in the pit.
Alas, all this (concerning Pharaoh) is what passes in you: you wouldst fain fasten it on Pharaoh.

If they say it of you, there arises in you a feeling of estrangement; and (if they tell it) of another, it seems to you a fable.
What ruin is wrought in you by the accursed sensual soul! This familiar casts you exceeding far
(from God).

975. Thy fire has not Pharaoh's fuel; otherwise, it is one that throws out flames like Pharaoh.

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