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
Previously in the Story of Ahikar
Pharaoh, king of Egypt challenges Sennacherib, king of Assyria to a series of riddles, mainly that he would like to build a castle between the Heavens and the earth. Sennacherib is grieved, since the only man who could answer this riddle had been put to death. He asked Nadan, but he had no ideas for him. What will the king do? How will he answer Pharaoh's riddles?
Here resumes the story of Ahikar.
Abu Samik Comes Clean
Now when the swordsman saw the anger of the king and his sorrow for Ahikar, his heart was soften towards him and he approached into his presence and said to him:
"Oh my master, command your servants to remove my head from my body."
Then the king said to him "Woe to you, Abu Samik, what is your fault?"
And the swordsman said to him "My master, every slave who acts contrary to the word of his master is killed and I have acted contrary to your command."
Then the king said to him "Woe unto you, Oh Abu Samik, how have you acted contrary to my command?"
And the swordsman said to him "My master, you commanded me to kill Ahikar and I knew that you would repent yourself concerning him and that he had been wronged, so I hid him in a certain place and I killed one of his slaves and he is now safe in the cistern. If you now command me I will bring him to you."
The king said to him "Woe to you, Abu Samik, you have mocked me and I am your master!"
And the swordsman said to him "No, but by the life of your head my master, Ahikar is safe and alive."
And when the king heard that saying, he felt sure of the matter and his head swam and he fainted from joy and he commanded them to bring Ahikar before him.
He said to the swordsman "Oh trusty servant! If your words be true, I would enrich you and exalt your dignity above that of all your friends."
Ahikar is Released
And the swordsman went along rejoicing until he came to Ahikar's home. He opened the entrance of the hiding place and went down and found Ahikar sitting, praising God and thanking Him.
And he shouted to him and said "Oh Ahikar, I bring you the greatest of joy and happiness and delight!"
And Ahikar said to him "What is the news, Abu Samik?" And he told him all about Pharaoh from the beginning to the end.
Then he took Ahikar and went before the king. And when the king looked at him, he saw him in disarray, that his hair had grown long like a wild beast and his nails like the claws of an eagle and that his body was dirty with dust and the color of his face had changed and faded and was now like ashes.
And when the king saw him he sorrowed over him and rose at once and embraced him and kissed him and wept over him and said "Praise be to God who has brought you back to me!"
Then he consoled him and comforted him and he stripped off his robe and put it on the swordsman and was very gracious to him and gave him great wealth and made Ahikar rest. Then Ahikar said to the king:
"Let my master the king live forever! These are the deeds of the children of the world. I have raised a palm tree for myself, so I may lean on him, but he bent sideways and he threw me down. However my master, since now I have appeared before you, let concern no longer oppress you."
And the king said to him "Bless the Most High, who showed showed you mercy and knew that you were wronged and saved you and delivered you from being killed. Go now, to a warm bath. Shave your head and cut your nails and change your clothes. Relax for forty days, that you may do good for yourself and improve your condition and that the color of your face would come back to you."
Then the king removed his costly robe and put it on Ahikar and Ahikar thanked God and did obeisance to the king. He departed to his dwelling glad and happy, praising the Most High God.
This concludes this portion of the Story of Ahikar.
Ahikar is Back in the Service of the King
The position of Ahikar has been restored! This is the king's opportunity to answer the riddles of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. How will Ahikar answer the impossible task of building a castle between the Heavens and the earth? Let's find out in the next installment.
Bless the Name of the Most High in fear and reverence, that He may receive glory among the nations.
Bless the Most High!
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