Legends of Old Testament Characters/Chapter 41



THE work entitled De Vitis Prophetarum, falsely attributed to S. Epiphanius, contains some apocryphal details concerning Jeremiah. It is said that he was stoned at Taphnes in Egypt, in a place where Pharaoh formerly lived. He was held in great honour by the Egyptians, because of the service he had rendered them in taming the serpents and crocodiles.

The faithful who take a little dust from the spot where he died, are able to employ it as a remedy against the bites of serpents, and to drive away crocodiles.

The prophet announced to the priests and wise men of Egypt that when a virgin, who had borne a son, should set her foot on Egyptian soil, all the idols should fall.

Before the destruction of Jerusalem, he hid the ark of the covenant in a rock, which opened for the purpose, and closed upon it. Then said he to the princes of the people and to the elders, "The Lord has gone up from Sinai, but He will come again with His sacred power. And this shall be the token of His coming,—all nations shall bow before the Wood."

Then the prophet continued, "None of the priests and prophets shall open the ark, except Moses, the elect of God; and Aaron shall alone unfold the tables it contains. At the Resurrection, the ark shall arise out of the rock first of all, and it shall be placed upon Mount Zion. Then all the saints will go there and await the Lord, and they will put the enemy to flight who seeks their destruction."

Having said these words, he traced with his finger the name of God upon the rock, and the name remained graven there, as if cut with iron. Then a cloud descended upon the rock and hid it, and no man has seen it since. It is in the desert, amongst the mountains, where are the tombs of Moses and Aaron. At night, a cloud of fire shines above the spot.