The Prince Made of Precious Stones

Once there was a King. This King had no children. So he went and consulted doctors so that his kingdom would not pass to strangers. They, however, did not help him. He then decreed upon the Jews to pray for him, that he may have children. The Jews searched for a Righteous man whose prayers might be fulfilled and issue granted. They searched and found a hidden sage, and they told him to offer up prayers so that the King may have issue. He answered that he knew nothing. So they informed the King (that there is a hidden sage, but he says he knows nothing). So the King sent a messenger for him, and he was brought to the King. The King started talking to him kindly. “You know that the Jews are in my hands, I can do with them what I will. Therefore, I ask you, please, to pray that I may have children.”

The sage assured him that he would have a child that year, and went home. The queen gave birth to a daughter, and the little princess was a great beauty. At the age of four years she was very learned and knew all languages and could play musical instruments. This brought kings from all countries to see her, and the King was very happy.

After that the King wanted very much to have a son, so that the kingdom would not go to a stranger. So once again he decreed that the Jews should offer up prayers, that he be granted a son. They searched for the first sage and could not find him; because he was dead. So they searched further and found another hermit sage, and requested him to give the King a son. He said he knew nothing, so again they informed the King. The King also told this sage, “You know that the Jews are in my hands, etc.” So the sage said, “But will you be able to do as I tell you?” The King said, “Yes.” So the sage said to him, “I want you to bring me all kinds of precious stones (gems), because each gem contains a different virtue,” (and with the kings there is a book wherein are listed all kinds of precious stones).

The King said, “I will spend half my kingdom to have a son,” and went and brought all kinds of precious stones. The sage took them and ground them to powder. Then he took a cup of wine, poured the powder into the wine and gave half the wine cup to the King to drink and the other half to the queen. He told them they would have a son who would be made completely of precious stones and would possess in himself all the virtues of all the gems. And then he went home.

The queen bore a son and the King greatly rejoiced, but the son was not made of precious stones. At the age of four years, he was very handsome and very wise in all knowledge, and he knew all languages. Many kings travelled to see him. The princess saw that now she was not so popular and envied him. Her comfort was that as the sage had foretold that the son would be of precious stones, it was good that he was not of precious stones [i.e., she was glad that he was not made of precious stones].

Once, when the prince was carving wood, he cut his finger. The princess ran to bandage the finger and saw there a precious stone. She was very envious of him. So she feigned illness and many doctors came, but they could not heal her, so wizards were called in. To one wizard she confessed the truth that she made herself ill because of her brother etc., and she asked the wizard if it were possible to put a spell upon a person so as to become covered with a rash. He said yes.

So she said to the wizard, “What if he should seek another wizard who could nullify the spell, and he would be healed?” The wizard said, “If the magic is thrown into the water, it can never be nullified.”

This she did and threw the magic into the water.

The prince was afflicted with a terrible rash. He had sores on his nose and on his face, and all over his body. So the King had consultations with doctors and with magicians, and they did not help. Then the King decreed on the Jews to offer prayers. The Jews searched for the sage (who had prayed that the King be granted a son etc.), and brought him before the King. This sage always used to offer up prayers to G-d, for he had promised the King that the prince would be only of precious stones and this was not fulfilled, and he argued to G-d, “Did I do this for my own glory? I did it solely for Thy glory, and now it has not happened as I foretold.” The sage came to the King. The sage offered up prayers (for the prince to be healed of his rash) and it did not help. He was told that is was induced by magic.

The sage was higher than all wizards. So the sage came and informed the King that this was a spell, and that the magic had been thrown into the water, that the prince cannot otherwise be healed unless the wizard who worked the spell is thrown into the water.

The King said, “I give you all the wizards to be thrown into the water, only that my son may be healed.”

The princess became afraid and ran to the water to take out the magic from the water, for she knew where the magic lay, and she fell into the water.

There followed a great outcry that the princess had fallen into the water. Then the sage came and said that the prince would not be healed. And he was healed. The rash dried up and fell off, and all his skin peeled off. And he became purely of precious stones and possessed in himself all the virtues of all the precious stones. (Because when the skin peeled off one could see that he was entirely of precious stones, just as the sage had foretold.)

[Translation by Esther Kenig]