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
Ahikar has made his grand entrance into Egypt to stand before Pharaoh to answer his questions and solve his riddles. Will Ahikar be able to impress Pharaoh with his wisdom? Let's see how this goes.
Here resumes the story of Ahikar.
Three Years of Taxes
Ahikar came and entered into the presence of Pharaoh and did obeisance to him as is fitting to do with kings. And he said to him:
"Oh Pharaoh king of Egypt, Sennacherib the king hails you with abundance of peace and might and honor. He has sent me, one of his slaves, that I may answer you your questions and may fulfill your desire. You have sent to find from my master the king a man who is able to build a castle for you between the Heavens and the earth. I, by the help of the Most High God and your noble favor and the power of my master the king, shall build it for you just as you desire. But, oh king, what you have said concerning the taxes of Egypt for three years. The stability of a kingdom is strict justice and if you win and my hand has no skill in replying to you, then my king shall send you the taxes which you mentioned, but if I answer you in your questions, it shall remain for you to send whatever you have mentioned to my king."
When Pharaoh heard this, he marveled and was perplexed by the freedom of his tongue and the pleasantness of his speech. And king Pharaoh said to him "Oh man, what is your name?" And he replied "Your servant is called Abikam, and I am a little ant of all the ants of king Sennacherib."
And Pharaoh said to him "Has your Master have no one of higher dignity than you, that he has sent me a little ant to reply to me and converse with me?"
And Ahikar replied "Oh king Pharaoh, I would to the Most High God that I may fulfill what is on your mind, for He is with the weak that He may confound the strong."
Then Pharaoh commanded that they should prepare a dwelling for Abikam and supply him with provisions, meat and drink and anything he needed.
The First Riddle
And when it was finished, three days later, Pharaoh clothed himself in purple and red and sat on his throne and all his advisers and magnates of his kingdom were standing with their hands crossed, their feet close together and their heads bowed. Pharaoh sent to fetch Abikam and when he was presented to him, he did obeisance before him, in the manner as is fitting for kings. And king Pharaoh said to him "Oh Abikam, who am I likened unto? And my nobles of my kingdom, to whom are they likened unto?"
And Ahikar said to him "Oh king Pharaoh, you are like the idol Bel, worshiped in Babylon and the nobles of your kingdom are like his servants." And he said to him "Go and come back again tomorrow!" So Ahikar departed as king Pharaoh had commanded him.
I am YHVH; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Isaiah 42:8
The Second Riddle
The next day, Ahikar went into the presence of Pharaoh and did obeisance and stood before the king. And Pharaoh was dressed in a red color and the nobles were dressed in white. And king Pharaoh said to him "Oh Abikam, who am I likened unto? And my nobles of my kingdom, to whom are they likened unto?"
And Ahikar said to him "Oh king Pharaoh, you are like the sun and your servants are like the sun beams." And Pharaoh said to him "Go to your dwelling and come here again tomorrow."
The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of YHVH comes. Joel 2:31
The Third Riddle
Then Pharaoh commanded his court to wear pure white and Pharaoh was dressed like them and sat upon his throne and he commanded them to fetch Ahikar and he entered and sat down before him. And Pharaoh said to him "Oh Abikam, whom am I like? And my nobles whom are they like?"
And Ahikar said to him "Oh king Pharaoh, you are like the moon and your nobles are like the planets and the stars." And Pharaoh said to him "Go and be here tomorrow."
For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light. Isaiah 13:10
The Fourth Riddle
Then Pharaoh commanded his servants to wear robes of various colors and Pharaoh wore a red velvet dress and sat on his throne and commanded them to fetch Abikam. And he entered and did obeisance before him. And he said "Oh Abikam, whom am I like? And my armies, to whom are they like?"
And Ahikar replied "Oh Pharaoh, king of Egypt, you are like the month of Aviv and your armies are like it's flowers." And when the king heard this, he rejoiced with great joy.
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. Isaiah 40:8
The Final Riddle
Pharaoh said to Ahikar "Oh Abikam, the first time you compared me to the idol Bel and my nobles to his servants. The second time you compared me to the sun and my nobles to the sunbeams. The third time you compared me to the moon and my nobles to the planets and stars. And the fourth time you compared me to the month of Aviv and my nobles to it's flowers. But now, oh Abikam, tell me. Your master, king Sennacherib. To whom is he likened unto? And his nobles, to whom are they likened unto?"
And Ahikar shouted with a loud voice and said "Be it far from me to make mention of my master the king and you seated on your throne. I may tell you whom my master the king is like and to whom his nobles are like."
Pharaoh Stands Before Ahikar
And Pharaoh was perplexed by the freedom of his tongue and his boldness in answering. Then Pharaoh arose from his throne and stood before Ahikar and said to him "Tell me now, that I may perceive whom your master the king is like and his nobles, to whom they are like?"
And Ahikar said to him "My Master is the God of the Heavens! His nobles are the lightnings and the thunder. The winds blow and the rain falls according to His will. The thunder thunders and the lightning lightens and the rains fall at His command. He holds the sun at His command: it would not give it's light and the moon and the stars would not circle, except by His will. He could command the whirlwind and it would blow and the rain would fall, trampling upon Aviv, destroying its flowers and houses."
Pharaoh Learns the Truth
When Pharaoh heard this speech, he was greatly perplexed and was angered with great anger and said to him "Oh man, tell me the truth! Tell me who you really are!" And Ahikar said "I am Ahikar, the scribe, greatest of the private counselors of king Sennacherib and I am his adviser and the governor of his kingdom and his chancellor."
And he said to him "You have told me the truth in these words, however we have heard that Ahikar had been slain by king Sennacherib, yet you appear to be alive and well."
And Ahikar said to him "Yes, so it was. Praise be to God who knows what is hidden, for my king did command me to be killed, having believed the words of a worthless man. Yet the Most High God delivered me. Blessed is he who trusts in Him."
This concludes this portion of the Story of Ahikar.
Pharaoh Seems Pretty Impressed!
So it seems Ahikar has answered Pharaoh's riddles, now will Pharaoh be impressed by Ahikar's method of creating a castle between the Heavens and the earth? Let's find out in the next installment!
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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