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A Story From: Israel
Read Time: ["3 to 5mins"]
For Ages: 8 to 10yrs., 12 to 14yrs.

A rare folk tale about love with both Hebrew and Arab derivation.
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Retold by Elaine L. Lindy. ©2006. All rights reserved.


This story is passed down in both Hebrew & Arab versions. In the Hebrew version, King Solomon is believed to have built the first temple on the ground where the two brothers met and embraced.  In the Arab version, at the end of the story: "In the morning, each brother was amazed to find the heaps still equal, till Allah sent a prophet who informed them that their unselfish love was pleasing to the Almighty."

Among Hebrews, this story is often cited as a Talmudic legend taken from the Midrash, yet there is no mention of the tale in either the Talmud or the Midrash. According to the research of the late Professor Alexander Schieber of Budapest, the first time the story "Two Brothers" appeared in print was in 1851 by a French historian who claimed to have heard it from an Arab peasant. Some Jewish scholars believe the story is indeed of Talmudic origin, though for some reason it was not recorded, and that Arabs had preserved it over the centuries. It's equally plausible the story was originally Arabic (the story reflects the traditional reverence which Islam holds for the site of the Temple and its builder, King Solomon) and that it spread to the Hebrews, who then subsequently modified the tale. It's not uncommon in ancient times for legends and fables to interweave and to overlap from one culture to another.