It is told that King Solomon had a most beautiful daughter, whose like could not be found in the whole Land of Israel. When he gazed at the stars to find out who was her appointed spouse and who was to wed her, he saw that he who was to wed her would be a certain poor man -there was none poorer in Israel than he. What did Solomon do? He built a lofty tower in the open sea and surrounded its four sides with [high] walls. Then he took his daughter and placed her in that lofty tower, in the company of seventy eunuchs selected from the elders of Israel. Solomon provided no doorway into the tower, so that no man would be able to enter. After stocking the tower with ample provisions, he said, "Now I shall see what the acts and doings of His Name will be!"

After a while, the poor man who was to be the maiden's spouse set out by night on a journey. He was naked and barefoot, he was hungry and thirsty [and thoroughly chilled]. When he saw the carcass of an ox cast out in the field, he crept in between its ribs to lessen the chill which overcame him. As soon as he fell asleep, a huge bird came, picked up the carcass, and carried it to the roof of the tower above the maiden's chamber. There the bird ate away the flesh of the carcass, and there, on the roof, the poor man remained.

At daybreak the maiden came out of her chamber, as was her daily custom, to walk on the roof. And there she saw the young man. "Who are you," she asked, "and who brought you here?" The young man: "I am a Jew, of the city of Acco. A bird brought me here." What did she do then? She took him into her chamber, where she had him clothed, bathed, and anointed. And then he appeared so handsome that his like could not be found in all the territories of Israel.

The maiden fell in love with him with all her heart and soul. It should be added that the young man was keen, perceptive, and witty, besides being a [skilled] scribe. One day she asked him, "Are you willing to hallow me as your wife?" The young man: "0 that such a thing were possible!" What did he do then? He let some blood out of a vein, wrote out the marriage contract for her with his blood, and hallowed her as his wife, saying, "This day the Lord is witness, even as the angels Michael and Gabriel are witnesses." Presently she conceived from him.

When the elders noticed her pregnancy, they said to her, "It seems to us that you are bearing a child." She: "Yes, I am." "And from whom did you conceive?" "Why do you have to know?" At that, the faces of the elders fell, for they feared King Solomon. Then they sent word for him to come. Solomon boarded a ship and came to them [with dispatch]. They said to him, "Our lord king, this is the situation. Let our lord not blame his servants!" Upon hearing the elders' account Solomon summoned his daughter and asked her what had happened. She answered, "The Holy One brought me a handsome and kind youth, who is both scholar and scribe, and he hallowed me as his wife." She summoned the young man, who appeared before the king and showed him the marriage contract he had drawn up for the king's daughter. The king inquired about the young man's father and mother, his family, and the city he came from. From the answers, Solomon understood that this was the one he had seen in the stars. With that, Solomon rejoiced greatly and said, "Blessed be He who is everywhere! It is He who provides a man with the wife meant to be his."


Barnes and Noble linkFrom: The Book of Legends (Sefer ha-Aggadah): Legends from the Talmud and Midrash, ed. H.Y. Bialik and Y.H. Ravnitzky (Schocken Books, NY, 1992).


Palestine, c. eighth-tenth centuries

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