Ancient Wisdom: The Book of Ahikar Part 20 of 24
What Is The Book of Ahikar?
This is an original retelling (paraphrase) of the Wisdom of Ahikar, originally posted on Steemit.com about four years ago. This is updated and reposted content for a new audience and for a new platform (HIVE).
The Wisdom of Ahikar is one of the most ancient sources of human thought and wisdom. There are elements of this story within the scriptures, both the Torah and the Gospels and Epistles.
The date of this story has been a subject of lively discussion. Scholars finally put it down about the First Century when they were proved in error by the original story turning up in an Aramaic papyrus of 500 B. C. among the ruins of Elephantine.
The book of Ahikar is not in the Biblical canon, but has some credentials that lend it some biblical authority. The story of Ahikar fits within the Biblical story of the Assyrian conquest of Israel. One story, preserved in the Catholic canon, is the Book of Tobit. This man Tobit was of the tribe of Naphtali, a Hebrew
This book tells the story of Tobit, son of Tobiel, son of Hananiel, son of Aduel, son of Gabael, son of Raphael, son of Raguel, of the family of Asiel and the tribe of Naphtali. Tobit 1:1
The book of Tobit mentions Ahikar and his son Nadan by name and even includes elements of this story. Clearly the author of Tobit was familiar with the story of Ahikar, since the text of Tobit lists Ahikar as being the nephew of Tobit.
Ahikar the son of my brother Anael, was appointed chancellor of the exchequer for the kingdom and given the main ordering of affairs. Ahikar then interceded for me and I was allowed to return to Nineveh, since Ahikar had been chief cupbearer, keeper of the signet, administrator and treasurer under Sennacherib king of Assyria, and Esarhaddon had kept him in office. He was a relation of mine; he was my nephew. Tobit 1:21-22
The Matter of the Taxes
Pharaoh said to Ahikar, "Go and tomorrow return here and tell me a word that I have never heard from my nobles nor from the people of my kingdom and my country."
And Ahikar went to his dwelling and wrote a letter:
Peace be unto you, my brother! What we make known to you by this letter is that a brother has need of his brother and that kings have need of each other. My hope from you is that you would lend me nine hundred talents of gold, for I need it to supply provisions for some of my soldiers, that I may spend it upon them. After a little while, I will return it to you.
Then he folded the letter and presented it the next day to Pharaoh. And when he saw it, he was perplexed and said to him "Truly, I have never heard anything like this language from anyone." Then Ahikar said to him "Truly, this is a debt which you owe to my master the king."
And Pharaoh accepted this and said "Oh Ahikar, it is those like you who are honest and in the service of kings. Bless the Most High who has made you perfect in wisdom and has adorned you with philosophy and knowledge."
The Matter of the Castle in the Sky
Then Pharaoh said "And now, Ahikar, there remains what we desire from you, that you shall build us a castle between the Heavens and the earth."
Ahikar said "To hear is to obey. I will build you a castle according to your desire and choice. But oh king, prepare us lime and stone and clay and workmen and I have skilled builders who will build for you as you desire."
And the king prepared everything for him and they went to a wide place. Ahikar and his boys came and he took the eagles and the young men with him. The king and all his nobles went and the whole city assembled that they may see what Ahikar would do.
Then Ahikar let the eagles out of the boxes and tied the young men on their backs and tied the ropes to the eagles feet and let them go into the air. They soured upwards until they remained between the Heavens and the earth. And the boys began to shout, saying "Bring bricks, bring clay, that we may build the king's castle, for we are standing idle!"
And the crowd was astonished and perplexed and they marveled. And the king and the nobles marveled. And Ahikar and his servants began to berate the workmen and they shouted for the king's troops saying"Hurry! Bring to the skilled workmen what they need and do not hinder them from their work!" And Pharaoh said to him "Are you mad? Who can bring anything up to that distance?" And Ahikar said "Oh king, how shall we build a castle in the air? If my master the king were here, he would have built several castles in a single day!"
And Pharaoh said to him "Go, oh Ahikar, to your dwelling. Rest, for we have given up building the castle. Tomorrow, come to me."
This concludes this portion of the Story of Ahikar.
Pharaoh has given up on his impossible castle.
Ahikar has delivered on his end of the promise, providing skilled workmen who can build a castle between the Heavens and the earth, but Pharaoh has no means of transporting the building material to Ahikar's workmen! Pharaoh is going to try to stump Ahikar again, so he would not have to pay his debt to king Sennacherib.
We will see Pharaoh's final attempt to confound the wisdom of Ahikar, next episode.
Bless the Name of the Most High, the God of the Heavens, in fear and reverence, that He may receive glory among the nations.
Bless the Most High!
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