11/04/2007

The Myth of the Two Brothers

Mississippi Fred has posted a typically erudite and enjoyable post about the well-known story of two brothers, and how their field came to be the site of the Temple. I recall that this story was featured in the original 'Chicken Soup for the Soul', but without the part about it becoming the site for the Temple. Too political, I guess.

Interestingly, there is another version of this story:

In Jerusalem there was a field cultivated by two brothers; one of the brothers was married and had several children, the other was single. They cultivated in common the field they had inherited from their mother; when harvest time was come, the two brothers bound up their sheaves, and made two equal heaps of them, which they left upon the field. During the night, the unmarried brother had a thought; he said to himself, ' I am young; I lives single and without company. I have nobody to assist me in my labor or to console me in my weariness; it is not right that he should take as many sheaves from our common field as I. I will get up, and go and carry secretly to my heap a certain number of sheaves; he will not perceive it, and so he cannot claim them.' And he did as he had thought. The same night, the other brother awoke and said to his wife, ' I have to feed you and the children. It is not right that his share should be as large as mine; come, I will take some sheaves out of his heap and add them secretly to mine; he will not perceive it, and so he will not be able to claim them.' The next day, each of the brothers went to the field, and was very much surprised to see that the two heaps were still equal : neither one nor the other could account to himself for this prodigy. They did the same for several successive nights,but as each had carried to his brother's heap the same number of sheaves, the heaps still remained equal; until one night both stood sentinels to search out the reason of this miracle, and they met one another carrying the sheaves they had mutually stolen from each other. Now a place where so conniving a thought came at the same time and recurred so continually to two brothers must be a very special spot. And so they chose it to build the Knesset.

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