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Alexander and the king of Kasiah


Detail of the Alexander mosaic, found in Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples (Italy). Genesis Rabbah is a commentary on the Biblical book of Genesis, and has the form of a collection of rabbinical stories and fairy tales. It was written at the end of the fourth century CE. One of the stories (to be found in chapter 33, section 4, commenting on Genesis 8.1-14) deals with Alexander the Great, who is presented as a visitor of the king of the legendary country Kasiah.
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Alexander. Bust from the Württembergisches Landesmuseum, Stuttgart (Germany). Photo Marco Prins.
Alexander (Württembergisches
Landesmuseum
, Stuttgart)
Alexander of Macedonia paid a visit on the king of Kasiah [1], who dwells on the other side of the mountains of darkness. The king came forth to receive him, offering gold bread on a gold tray. Alexander said to him, "Do you really think I need your money?
    He said to him, "And don't you have anything by way of food to eat in your country, that you have come to my country? I assumed you came for gold, not for bread. Otherwise, why bother to make the trip?"
    He said to him, "I came only because I wanted to know how you people administer the public interest."
    He took a seat when the other went into session. Someone came and complained about his fellow, saying, "This man sold me a manure pile and I found a stash in it." The one who bought it said, "I bought from him only a manure heap." The one who sold it said: "I sold him the manure pile and everything in it!"
    The king said to him, "Do you have a son."
    He said to him, "yes,"
    He said to the other, "Do you have a daughter?"
    He said to him, "Yes."
    He said to them, "Get them married and give the stash to the two of them as a dowry."
    The king saw Alexander looking on, amazed. He said to him, "Don't you think I made a good decision?"
    He said to him, "Indeed so."
    He said to him, "And if the case came to you in your country, how would you people have judged it?"
    He said to him "The court would have put both litigants to death and taken the treasure for the king."
    The king of Kasiah said to him, "Now tell me, does it rain in your country?"
    He said to him, "Indeed so."
    "Does the sun come out in your country?"
    "Quite."
    "Are there small cattle in your country?"
    "There are."
    "Well I tell you, it is not on account of any merit that you have attained that there is rain and sun in your country but only on account of the merit of the small animals, as it is written, 'Man and beast you save, O Lord' [2]. 'Man' you save 'on account of the merit accrued by the dumb animals' do you save, O Lord.'"





Note 1:
A legendary country.

Note 2:
Psalm 36.7.





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