borrow this narrative from the Jews, but on the contrary received it by inspiration through the angel Gabriel, yet, since the Jews, who are Abraham's descendants, have accepted this narrative on the authority of their own traditions, it must be confessed that their testimony forms a strong confirmation of the teaching of the Qur'an on the subject 1."

In reply it is sufficient to state that only ignorant Jews now place any reliance upon such fables, since they do not rest upon anything worthy of the name of tradition. The only reliable traditions of the Jews which relate to the time of Abraham are to be found in the Pentateuch, and it is hardly necessary to say that this childish tale is not found there. On the contrary, it is evident from Genesis that Nimrod lived many generations before Abraham's time. It is true that Nimrod is not mentioned by name in the Qur'an, but his name occurs, as we have seen, in this tale about Abraham's being cast into the fire both in Muhammadan tradition and in their commentaries on the Qur'an, as well as in the Jewish narrative in the Midrash Rabba. The anachronism here is as great as if some ignorant person were to state that Alexander the Great had cast the Turkish Sultan 'Uthman into the fire, not knowing what a long period had elapsed between Alexander and 'Uthman and being

1 This argument is used in the Mizanu'l Mawazin in refutation of certain statements in the Mizanu'l Haqq.

unaware that Uthman had never experienced such an adventure!

Moreover the whole story of Abraham's being delivered from the fire is founded upon an ignorant blunder made by an ancient Jewish commentator. To explain this we must refer to the Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel. This writer found Ur of the Chaldees mentioned as the place 1 where Abraham dwelt when God first called him to leave home and country and to remove into the land of Canaan. Now this city is the place that is at the present time known by the name of Muqayyar. The word ur or uru in ancient Babylonian meant a city. It occurs again in the name Jerusalem (still in Arabic called Urushalim), "the city of the God of Peace." But Jonathan had no knowledge of Babylonian, and he imagined that Ur must have a meaning similar to that of the Hebrew word Or, "light," which in Aramaic means "Fire." Hence he rendered Gen. xv. 7 thus, "I am the LORD, who brought thee out of the furnace of fire of the Chaldees!" So also in his comment on Gen. xi. 28, he writes thus: "When Nimrod cast Abraham into the furnace of fire because he would not worship his idols, it came to pass that the fire was not given permission to injure him." We see that the whole story rose from a wrong explanation of a single word, and has no foundation in fact. Whether Jonathan was the first person to make the mistake is very doubtful;

1 Cf. Gen. xi. 28, xv. 7, &c.