of that character. Muhammad has, however, introduced into it another element of error, the source of which we must trace before entering upon the narrative itself.

In Surah XIX., Maryam, 28, 29, we are told that when Mary came to her people after the birth of our Lord, they said to her, "O Mary, truly thou hast done a strange thing. O sister of Aaron, thy father was not a man of wickedness, and thy mother was not rebellious." From these words it is evident that, in Muhammad's opinion, Mary was identical with Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron 1! This is made still more clear by Surah LVI., At Tahrim, 12, where Mary is styled "the daughter of 'Imran," the latter being the Arabic form of Amram, who in the Pentateuch is called the father of "Aaron and Moses and Miriam their sister" (Num. xxvi. 59). The title "sister of Aaron" is given to Miriam in Exod xv. 20, and it must be from this passage that Muhammad borrowed the expression. The reason of the mistake which identifies the Mother of our Saviour with a woman who lived about one thousand five hundred and seventy years before His birth is evidently the fact that in Arabic both names, Mary and Miriam, are one and the same in form, Maryam.

1 In the Sahih of Muslim (Kitabu'l Adab) we are told that the Christians of Najran pointed this blunder out to Al Mughairah. He consulted Muhammad about it, but could get no satisfactory answer.

The chronological difficulty of the identification does not seem to have occurred to Muhammad. It puts us in mind of the tale in the Shahnameh, where Firdausi tells us that when the hero Faridun had defeated Dahhak (in Persian pronounced Zahhak), he found in the tyrant's castle two sisters of Jamshid, who were kept in confinement there. Faridun was, we are told, smitten with their charms. This is an instance 1 of "bonus dormitat Homerus" on some one's part, for from other parts of the poem we learn that these fair damsels had remained in Dahhak's custody from the beginning of the latter's reign, nearly one thousand years before! Muhammad's error, however, is chronologically far more serious even than this, which may be permissible in a romance but not in Revelation." Muhammadan commentators have in vain attempted to disprove this charge of historical inaccuracy.

If it be necessary to adduce any other explanation of Muhammad's blunder, it has been suggested 1 that it may be found in the Jewish tradition which asserts regarding Miriam that "The Angel of Death did not exercise dominion over her, but on the contrary she died with a (Divine) kiss, and worms and insects did not exercise dominion over her."

1 But Firdausi is following the Avesta here in telling us that Faridun (Avestic Thraetaona) married these women, Arnavaz and Shahrnaz (the Avestic Arenavachi and Savanhavachi); Yeshts, v. 34; ix. 14; xv. 24.
2 R. Abraham Geiger, Was hat Mohammed, p. 172.