over the heads of the children of Israel in the wilderness, threatening to let it fall on them and crush them if they did not accept the commandments contained in the Law of Moses. These they had previously refused to obey, because of their severity. But on hearing this threat the Israelites received the law. God then uttered the rest of the speech contained in the verse quoted above. The same legend is referred to in Surah II., Al Baqarah, 60, 87.

Its origin is found in the Jewish tractate 'Abodah Zarah (cap. ii. § 2), where we are told that on that occasion (so God is represented as saying to the Israelites), "I covered you over with the mountain like a lid." So also in Sabbath (fol. 88, 1) we read, "These words teach us that the Holy One, blessed be He, inverted the mountain above them like a pot, and said unto them, ‘If ye receive the law, well: but if not, there shall your grave be.’"

Perhaps it is hardly necessary to say that there is nothing like this fable to be found in the Pentateuch. It has originated in the mistake of a Jewish commentator, who has misunderstood the words of the Bible. In Exod. xxxii. 19 we are informed that when Moses descended the mountain with the two tables of stone in his hands, he saw that the Israelites were worshipping the golden calf which they had made. Angry at the shameful sight, he threw down the stone tablets from his hands and


broke them beneath the mount." Chapter xix. 17 tells us that while God was giving Moses the Law the people stood "at the nether part of (or beneath) the mountain." In each case the phrase means "at the foot of the mountain." But the wonder-loving and credulous Jews of later times chose to misunderstand the phrase, and the legend of the elevation the mountain was invented to explain the words "beneath the mount." The tale of the holding up of the mountain above men's heads is, however marvellously similar to a Hindu legend, related in the Sanskrit Sastras. It is said that Krishna, wishing to protect the people of Gokula, his native city from a severe rain-storm, dragged up from its stony base a mountain named Govardhana, which is styled the biggest of all mountains, and for the space of seven days and nights suspended it on the tips his fingers over their heads like an umbrella! We cannot suppose that the Jews borrowed this story from the Hindus, but it is evident that Muhammad derived the tale referred to in the Qur'an from Jewish sources, while the Jews were led to accept or invent the story through taking literally 1 and in an unnatural sense the Hebrew phrase "beneath the mount."

This is not, however, the only wonderful story which the Qur'an relates concerning what took

1 That we may understand this better, we have only to consider the amount of error introduced into the Christian Church by a similar expression "This is My body."