39-The Soul Fisher

In the name of the Great Life, may the distant light be exalted!

It is the voice of the pure fisher that summons the fish of the seas and instructs them in the marshes, telling them,

“Set your group straight, rise up to the surface of the water, so that your strength may double. For my sake, beware the fishermen, the fishers who strike the Jordan. Šilmai and Nidbai curse them, so go back and stay a league behind me and their nets.”

The fish started cursing and reviling upon the spot. As the fisher said this, he admonished all the fishermen who heard his voice. They come and gather near him. They begin to question him, not knowing whence he came. They say to him,

“Where were you, oh fisher, whose voice we do not hear in the marsh, and whose vessel does not resemble our vessels, and has not brought you among [our vessels before]? Your vessel is not sealed with pitch, and you do not resemble the fishermen of this world.”

Seeing him, the fishermen blush and become ashamed, and stand in their places. The fishers say to him,

“For what possible reason do you fish but never catch? Your ship is not like our ship; it is a bright light like the sun in the night. Your vessel is perfect in the air, and sublime banners are unfurled on it. Our vessel goes by water, but your vessel moves within the waters.

The families of our marsh are the type that conspire and fragment. They have a spear of wrath. It has no cisterns or fountains. Your blameless family, fisher, is the type that (evil) fish see and flee far away. We never see fishers that resemble you, whose vessel the wind carries along.

The fisher steered the sail-yard and the rudder which brings light to the marshes. There is no cable in your cast net, and no draw-string encircles it. It has no rocks that will be an artifice for the blind fish your cord has taken in its snare, and you have neither cudgel nor axe. Your cord does not lie still in the water, and it is not submerged to snatch fish.”

When the fishermen said this, the fisher spoke, saying to them:

“My fishing brethren and sons, get out of my sight! Flee, get out, go up to your town, the ruin of Jerusalem! Ask your father, who knows me about me! Ask your mother, who is my maidservant, about me! Tell her that there is one fisher in the vessel [and] four cauldrons? [in it]. It has a rudder and standing within it is a sailyard. His free-flying axe? and his exorcisms will desecrate the land of Jerusalem.”

When they heard and recognized the fisher who went there, they say to him,

“Pity us, have mercy and be compassionate! May you forgive our sins and debts! We are your servants, may you be lenient with us! We will take care of your fish (D: “your children”) so that not a single one will be taken from them. We will be the servants of your disciples, who mention your name in truth. We shall stand by and take care of all who mention your name.”

The Life speaks and is victorious, and victorious is the man who has gone there. The End.

About C.G. Häberl

Dr. Häberl is an Associate Professor at the Department of African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures (AMESALL). He was born and raised in the State of New Jersey, and received his PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University. In addition to teaching Arabic and Aramaic language courses at AMESALL, he teaches content courses on the modern Middle East at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES), of which he was the Director from 2009-2012.
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