Chapter-IX

 

Verse 14 is:

ידיו גלילי זהב ממלאים בתרשיש מעיו עשת שן מעלפת ספירים[1]

His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires.

New Jerusalem Biblehas translates it as:

His hands are golden, rounded, set with jewels of Tarshish. His belly is a block of ivory covered with sapphires.[2]

There are two clauses in this verse. The first clause is:

His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl:

The original Hebrew word for ‘hand’ is ‘יד’ (yad). It means:

A hand (the open one) [indicating power, means, i.e. resources and money etc.], in distinction from 3709 (‘כף’, i.e. ‘kaph’), the closed one; used in a great variety of applications, both literally and figuratively, both proximate and remote, dominion, force.[3]

As such, it indicates open and stretched hands which are the symbol of power, authority, and generosity. The next main word of this part of the verse is ‘gold’, which in Hebrew is ‘פז’ (paz). It means:

From 6388 [which is, ‘פלג’ (i.e. Falaj), meaning ‘river, stream’]; pure (gold); hence gold itself (as refined):- fine (pure) gold.[4]

Then there is the word ‘ring’, which, in Heb., is ‘גליל’ (jailil). The meanings of this word and its roots have been explained in Strong’s Dic.  as below:

A valve of a folding door; also a ring (as round); great;[5]

It is the same as the Arabic word ‘Jalil’; which has the same meanings, i.e., ‘great; significant, magnificent, etc’.

According to the Heb. and Aramaic Lexicon of the OT the word, with reference to ‘Song 5:14’ means:

a round rod or ring.[6]

Keeping in view the literal meanings and real sense of the original Hebrew words of this clause of the verse, as explained above by the Hebrew Bible Dictionaries, its translation would be:

Figuratively, his out-stretched hands are the symbol of his great power, authority, and generosity. Physically and apparently, they are clean bright, soft, smooth and precious like gold. He wears a ring in his finger wherein beryl and topaz have been inlaid properly.

The conditions and qualities of the hands of Jesus Christ
(pbAh) have nowhere been recorded in history, but the holy and reliable companions of Prophet Muhammad (pbAh) did not show any negligence in making the history rich through recording the details of the features of even the hands of their beloved Prophet (pbAh). Hind bin Abi Halah states:

His wrists were long, his palms were large, and his fingers elongated to a suitable extent.[7]

Anas states:

عَنْ أَنَسٍ قَال َ(...)وَلَا مَسِسْتُ دِيبَاجَةً وَلَا حَرِيرَةً أَلْيَنَ مِنْ كَفِّ رَسُولِ اللَّهِصَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ

I did not touch any thick or thin silk cloth (that I ever happened to touch) softer than the palms of the Prophet.[8]

AbuJuhayfah reports:

عَنْ أَبِيهِ أَبِي جُحَيْفَةَ قَالَ فَأَخَذْتُ بِيَدِهِ فَوَضَعْتُهَا عَلَى وَجْهِي فَإِذَا هِيَ أَبْرَدُ مِنْ الثَّلْجِ وَأَطْيَبُ رَائِحَةً مِنْ الْمِسْكِ[9]

I put his hand at my face. It was cooler than ice and more fragrant than musk.

As regards the power of his hands (outstretched hands) it implies both his physical power and his authority. As to the physical power of his limbs, hereunder are afforded some events that exhibit it:

كان ركانة(...)اشدَّ قريش فخلا يوماً برسول الله صلي الله عليه وسلمفي بعض شِعاب مكةَ  (...) فقال له رسول الله صلي الله عليه وسلمأفرأيت إن صرعتك أتعلم أن ما أقول حق ؟‘‘ قال : نعم قال : ’’ فقم حتي أصارعك‘‘ قال: فقام ركانة إليه فصارعه فلما بطش به رسول الله صلي الله عليه وسلمأضجعه وهو لا يملك من نفسه شيئا ثم قال : عد يا محمد فعاد فصرعه ثم قال : يا محمد والله أن هذه للعجبُ أتصرعني؟[10]

Rukanah was considered as the most powerful wrestler among the Qurayshites. (Nobody could ever defeat him.) Oncehe met the Apostle of Allah (pbAh) in some of the mountain paths of Makkah in alone [and challenged him to a bout]. (...) The Apostle of Allah (pbAh) said to him, ‘Look here, if I defeat you, would you understand that whatever I profess is right?’ He said ‘Yes.’ The Prophet said, ‘Come on, so that I throw you down.’ Rukanah came towards him to defeat him; but when the Prophet caught hold of him, threw him down and defeated him. Rukanah was entirely helpless before him. He invited him for the second time and the Prophet (pbAh) threw him down again. He said, ‘Muhammad (pbAh), it is strange, you have defeated me.’ [He meant to say that Muhammad (pbAh) neither performed any wrestling exercises nor learnt any wrestling tricks. Still he astonished him by throwing him down twice. (later on, he embraced Islam as well)].

Sayyid Abu al-A‘la Mawdudi has recorded another event:

Once, when Muhammad (pbAh) was still a boy, he was invited to a dinner at ‘Abdullah bin Jud‘an’s house. Abu Jahl quarreled with him. He was almost a boy of the same age. Muhammad (pbAh) lifted him up and threw him down so as his knee was wounded. Abu Jahl sustained this scar for the whole of his life.[11]  

As to the authority of Prophet Muhammad (pbAh) it is to be noted that he started his life as a resourceless orphan, but when he left this world, he wielded sole authority over whole of the Arabian peninsula which was thriving and spilling over the boundaries of Arabia in all dimensions. Montgomery Watt writes in Muhammad at Madina:

(...). Secondly, there is Muhammad’s wisdom as a statesman. The conceptual structure found in the Qur’an was merely a framework. The framework had to support a building of concrete policies and concrete institutions. In the course of this book much has been said about Muhammad’s far-sighted political strategy and his social reforms. His wisdom in these matters is shown by the rapid expansion of his small state to a world-empire and by the adaptation of his social institutions to many different environments and their continuance for thirteen centuries. (….). The more one reflects on the history of Muhammad [pbAh] and of early Islam, the more one is amazed at the vastness of his achievements. (…). Had it not been for his gifts as seer, statesman, and administrator and, behind these, his trust in God and firm belief that God had sent him, a notable chapter in the history of mankind would have remained unwritten.[12]

The third implication of the outstretched hands may be generosity. Prophet Muhammad(pbAh) was very generous and did not like to hoard money for his own self. It is reported by Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri:

عَنْ أَبِي سَعِيدٍ الْخُدْرِيِّ أَنَّ نَاسًا مِنْ الْأَنْصَارِ سَأَلُوا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَفَأَعْطَاهُمْ ثُمَّ سَأَلُوهُ فَأَعْطَاهُمْ حَتَّى نَفِدَ مَا عِنْدَهُ ثُمَّ قَالَ مَا يَكُونُ عِنْدِي مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَلَنْ أَدَّخِرَهُ عَنْكُمْ وَمَنْ يَسْتَعْفِفْ يُعِفَّهُ اللَّهُ وَمَنْ يَسْتَغْنِ يُغْنِهِ اللَّهُ [13]

Some persons from the tribes of Ansar asked the Apostle of Allah (pbAh) for something and he gave them. They again asked him for it and he would give it to them until all that was with him finished. The Apostle said, ‘Whatever wealth be with me, I would never store it with me and spare it from you. However, whosoever retains his honour and chastity, Allah would retain it for him and whosoever abstains himself from begging, Allah would make him self-sufficient. ’

The Apostle of Allah (pbAh) never said ‘No’ to anyone who solicited him for something. One of his companions, Jabir says:

حَدَّثَنَا سُفْيَانُ بْنُ عُيَيْنَةَ عَنْ ابْنِ الْمُنْكَدِرِ سَمِعَ جَابِرَ بْنَ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ قَالَ مَا سُئِلَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ شَيْئًا قَطُّ فَقَالَ لَا[14]

Whenever the Apostle of Allah (pbAh) was asked for something, he never responded in negative.

The talented and beloved wife of Prophet Muhammad (pbAh), Sayyidah ‘A^’ishah Siddiqah, reports that the Apostle of Allah (pbAh) never refused to give something when he was asked for it and he was extremely generous:

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ قَالَتْ )(...)(وَلَا سُئِلَ شَيْئًا قَطُّ فَمَنَعَهُ إِلَّا أَنْ يُسْأَلَ مَأْثَمًا فَإِنَّهُ كَانَ أَبْعَدَ النَّاسِ مِنْهُ وَلَا خُيِّرَ بَيْنَ أَمْرَيْنِ قَطُّ إِلَّا اخْتَارَ أَيْسَرَهُمَا وَكَانَ إِذَا كَانَ حَدِيثَ عَهْدٍ بِجِبْرِيلَ عَلَيْهِ السَّلَاميُدَارِسُهُ كَانَ أَجْوَدَ بِالْخَيْرِ مِنْ الرِّيحِ الْمُرْسَلَةِ[15]

When asked for something, he never refused to give it, until he was asked for something sinful, because his disliking for sin was very much. Whenever he was given the choice, he always chose the easier of the two. (...). Whenever Gabriel brought some covenant and he studied it carefully together with him, he was more generous than a benevolent wind.

Similarly, he was even more generous during the month of Ramadan. Ibn ‘Abbas reports:

عَنْ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ قَالَ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَجْوَدَ النَّاسِ وَكَانَ أَجْوَدُ مَا يَكُونُ فِي رَمَضَانَ حِينَ يَلْقَاهُ جِبْرِيلُ وَكَانَ يَلْقَاهُ فِي كُلِّ لَيْلَةٍ مِنْ رَمَضَانَ فَيُدَارِسُهُ الْقُرْآنَ فَلَرَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَأَجْوَدُ بِالْخَيْرِ مِنْ الرِّيحِ الْمُرْسَلَةِ[16]

The Apostle of Allah (pbAh) was the most generous among people and he was even more generous in Ramadan when Gabriel visited him. He met him every night of Ramadan and studied the holy Quran carefully together with him. The Apostle of Allah was then more generous than a benevolent wind.

The Christian scholars explain the verse in almost similar terms. The Pulpit Commentary of the Bible observes:

Surely it is the outstretched hands that are meant.[17]

Matthew Henry Explains the theme in the following terms:

Great men had their hands adorned with gold rings on their fingers, set with diamonds or other precious stones, but, in her eye, his hands themselves were as gold rings; all the instances of his power, the works of his hands, all the performances of his providence and grace, are all rich, and pure, and precious, as gold, (...). His hands which are, stretched forth both to receive his people and to give to them, are thus rich and comely.[18]

As regards the phrase ‘as gold rings set with the beryl’ in the verse, it describes the condition of his fingers. However, Prophet Muhammad (pbAh) did use a ring on his finger. It is narrated by ibn ‘Umar in Shama’il Tirmidhi:

عن ابن عمر قال اتخذ رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلمخاتما من ذهب فكان يلبسه في يمينه فاتخذ الناس خواتيم من ذهب، فطرحه وقال لا ألبسه أبدا فطرح الناس خواتيمهم.

The Prophet (pbAh) got a gold ring prepared and he used to wear it on his right hand, so the people also adopted gold rings. [But when wearing of gold was prohibited for men,] he put it away and said, ‘I would never wear it.’ So the people also put away their [gold] rings [and adopted silver rings]. (p.84f).

Anas reports that there was an Ethiopian beryl in it:

عن بن شهاب حدثني أنس بن مالك قال كان خاتم رسول اللهصَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَمن ورق وكان فصه حبشيا[19]

The ring of the Apostle of Allah (pbAh) was made of silver and its stone was an Ethiopian one.

Obviously, the words of the prophecy and the explanations of the Christian scholars find their fulfillment only in the person of Prophet Muhammad (pbAh). The search of these qualities in Jesus Christ (pbAh) or to apply these explanations to the person of Jesus Christ (pbAh) is merely a vain effort, which can be based on internal credulity and not on some concrete, authentic, and objective reality.

After studying the first part of the verse the remaining part of the verse is to be explored now. Its words are:

His belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires.

It is the exact and literal rendering of the clause. It is recorded hereunder in the original Hebrew words:

ספירים׃מעלפתשן  עשתמעיו

Strong’s Dic.has recorded the meanings of its words as:

Belly       מעיו    (me‘ah): Probably means to be soft; the intestines, the abdomen (Entry 4578, p. 69).                    

Bright    עשת  (‘eshat): Its root word ‘ashat means to be glossy; hence (through the idea of polishing) to ex-cogitate (as if forming in the mind; dicover by thinking); shine, think (Entry 6245, p.92).

Ivory     שן  (shen): A tooth; spec. (for 8143 [where it means tooth of elephant]), ivory (Entry 8127, p. 119).

Overlaid מעלפ  (‘alaf): To veil, cover, overlaid (Entry 5968, p. 89).

Sapphiresספירים(sapheer): A gem, sapphire(Entry 5601, p.83).

In the light of these meanings, the Hebrew clause may be interpreted in the following terms:

His belly is soft and shining; it is brilliantly white like ivory; there are greenish/bluish brown hair on it, that look like sapphires on a white, soft, smooth, and shining surface.

It is an exact and complete picture of the relevant part of the body of Prophet Muhammad (pbAh), as is explained in the coming pages.

Before giving these details it is pertinent to examine the following explanation of the theme in Pulpit Commentary:

The description of the body is of the outward appearance and figure only, though the word itself signifies ‘inward parts’. The comparison with ivory work refers to the glancing and perfect smoothness and symmetry as of a beautiful ivory statue, the work of the highest artistic excellence. The sapphire covering tempers [mixes in due proportion; adjusts, matches] the white. The beautiful blue veins appear through the skin and give a lovely tint to the body.[20]

No doubt this passage of the Pulpit Commentary depicts the perfect and faithful picture of the words of the Bible; but it has nothing to do with the features of Jesus Christ (pbAh), because no proof or reference can be afforded to attach these details in favour of the person of Jesus Christ (pbAh). On the other hand it thoroughly applies to Prophet Muhammad (pbAh), the details of whose features have been recorded in the annals of history in unequivocal terms. ‘Ali reports:

كَانَ عَلِيٌّ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ إِذَا وَصَفَ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَقَالَ )(أَجْرَدُ[21]ذُو مَسْرُبَةٍ )(قَالَ أَبُو جَعْفَرٍ سَمِعْتُ الْأَصْمَعِيَّ يَقُولُ فِي تَفْسِيرِهِ صِفَةَ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَوَالْمَسْرُبَةُ هُوَ الشَّعْرُ الدَّقِيقُ الَّذِي هُوَ كَأَنَّهُ قَضِيبٌ مِنْ الصَّدْرِ إِلَى السُّرَّةِ[22]

The Prophet had no hair on his body [torso] except a thin line of hair from chest to navel. (...) Abu Ja‘far says that he heard al-Asma‘i saying while describing the features of the Prophet (pbAh) that َالْمَسْرُبَةُ is the thin line of hair like a twig or stick from chest to navel.

Abu Tufayl says:

عَنْ أَبِي الطُّفَيْلِ قَالَ)(كَانَ أَبْيَضَ مَلِيحَ الْوَجْهِ)(مُقَصَّدًا[23]

The Prophet had an elegant white colour, handsome face, and he was of an average height.

Khulasat al-Siyar has recorded:

The Prophet (pbAh) had a thin stick of hair from his chest to navel and there was no hair on his chest and belly besides this. His chest and belly were level.[24]

The words speak of themselves who the ‘Beloved’ and the ‘Praised One’ of King Solomon (pbAh) had been. Obviously the words literally apply to Prophet Muhammad(pbAh). They can in no sense be applied to Jesus Christ (pbAh). However, the theme is explained below through juxtaposing the relevant traits from the biblical statements and their exegeses and lexicons by the biblical scholars; and the Islamic tradition:

Figuratively, his out-stretched hands are the symbol of his great power, authority, and generosity. Physically and apparently, they are clean bright, soft, smooth and precious like gold. He wears a ring in his finger wherein beryl and topaz have been inlaid properly.

 

 

 

 

His belly is soft and shining; it is brilliantly white like ivory and there are greenish/bluish brown hair on it, that look like sapphires on a white, smooth, soft, and shining surface.

His wrists were long, his palms were large, and his fingers suitably elongated (Hind bin Abi Halah). His palms were softer than silk (Anas) and more fragrant than musk (AbuJuhayfah). As to the physical power of his limbs, he defeated the most power-ful wrestler of Arabia of the time, Rukanah, in a bout.

As to his practical wisdom and authority it is to be noted that he started his life as a resourceless orphan, but when he left this world, he wielded sole authority over the whole Arabia. He was so generous that whenever he was asked for something, he never said ‘No’ [to anyone]. It is recorded that the Prophet used gold ring, but when wearing of gold was prohibited for men, he used a silver ring. Anas reports that there was an Ethiopian beryl in it.

The Prophet (pbAh) had an elegant white colour (Abu Tufayl). He had no hair on his body [torso] except a thin line of hair from chest to navel (‘Ali). He had a thin stick of hair from his chest to navel and there was no hair on his chest and belly besides this. His chest and belly were level.

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