The author also includes this story about the donkey in a note: "Presumably to pay the donkey out for this meanness, Iblìs whispered in his ear that all the females of his kind had been destroyed, whereupon the unfortunate beast made so terrible a noise of lamentation that the Evil One was scared and made haste to comfort him by adding, "But there is one left for you." At that the donkey's noise subsided in one long "Ah!" of relief. This is the origin of the donkey's braying."
Much of this story is about Og, who is a famous figure in Jewish folklore; you can read more about Og and Noah in the Jewish tradition here: The Giant of the Flood.
The final part of the story uses animal metaphors for the different types of women; compare the Jewish legend about Noah's drunkenness and animal metaphors for what happens when people drink too much: The Curse of Drunkenness.
[Notes by LKG]
This story is part of the Holy Land Folklore unit. Story source: Folk-lore of the Holy Land: Moslem, Christian and Jewish by J. E. Hanauer (1907).
Noah's efforts to convert mankind were vain. He was beaten and mocked even by his own wife Wa’ileh, an unbeliever, as well as by his wicked son Canaan, and the latter's son Uj ibn ’Anak (Og the son of Anak). Anak was the daughter of Adam, a vile woman and the first of witches. These four wicked persons did their best to persuade everyone that Noah was mad.
The Flood burst forth from underground out of a "tannûr" or oven, the site of which is uncertain, some placing it at Gezer and others at Damascus. The ark was upborne by the rising waters, which were swollen by torrential rains. Noah and his family (his wife, Anak, Canaan, and Og excepted), together with a company of other believers, the number of whom some say was six, others ten, twelve, and even seventy-eight or eighty, half of them men and half women, including Jorham the elder, the preserver of the Arabic language, were saved, as well as the animals which Allah had caused to enter the ark.
Among the latter was the ass, under whose tail Iblìs had hidden, disguised as a fly. This donkey, reluctant to enter the ark bearing the Evil One with him, was driven in by Noah with hard blows. To compensate the donkey for this injustice, it had been predestined that one of his descendants should enter Paradise. This happened when the ass of ’Ozair was raised to life again and admitted into the Heavenly Garden.
The waters of the Deluge destroyed all mankind except those inside the ark and Og. The latter was so tall that when the Flood came its waters only reached up to his ankles. He repeatedly tried to destroy Noah and his crew by submerging the ark, but in vain. The pitch with which it had been coated had made it so difficult to grasp that it always slipped from his hands and came safely up to the surface.
When hungry, Og would squat down on his haunches and take up a handful of water. Straining it through his fingers, he always found a good many fish left in his grasp. These he could roast by holding them up to the sun. When thirsty, all he had to do was to put out his hands close together and catch the rain which was tumbling in bucketsful from the skies. He lived several centuries after the Flood till the time of Mûsa.
One day, as he was standing on Jebel esh Sheykh, he wanted to stride across El-Beka’a, but, misjudging the distance, he stepped, not on to the Lebanon Range, as he had intended, but far beyond it, into the great sea. At another time when, suffering from fever, he lay down to rest, he stretched from Banias, where the Jordan gushes forth, as far as the Lake Merom. As he lay thus, some muleteers passed Banias on their way southward. When they approached his face, he said to them, "I am too ill to move. For the love of Allah, when you reach my feet, drive away the mosquitoes that are tickling them and cover them up with my abâyeh [caftan]. The men promised to do as he said, but, when they reached his feet, they found no mosquitoes, but a crowd of jackals.
Og died at last by the hand of Mûsa in the following manner. In order to destroy the Israelites on their way through the wilderness, the giant pulled up a great rock out of the earth. It was so large that it would have crushed the whole camp of Israel, which covered a square league of country. Og was carrying it upon his head, meaning to drop it on the camp, when Allah sent a bird that pecked through the stone a hole so large that the mass slipped down over Og's head and on to his shoulders, in such a way that he could not get rid of it nor see where he was going. Hereupon Mûsa, whose stature was ten dra’as, and whose miracle-working rod was the same length, leapt up to the height of ten dra’as and just managed to hit Og on his ankle, so that he fell down and was killed. Stones were heaped upon his body as high as a mountain.
Moses strikes the giant on the ankle (Iraq ca. 1300)
To return to Noah: the ark floated to and fro on the surface of the Flood till it came to the place where Mecca is situated, and there it lay motionless seven days. Then it moved northward till it reached the site of Jerusalem, where, being endowed with speech by Allah, it informed Noah that here the "Beyt el Makdas," or House of the Sanctuary, would be rebuilt, and inhabited by many prophets, his descendants.
After the Flood, when the men and women who had been saved in the ark had gone forth to re-people the earth, the Patriarch was left alone with his daughter, who kept house for him, his wicked wife (Wa’ileh) having perished. One day a suitor for the girl appeared, and Noah promised her to him on condition of his preparing a suitable home for her. The man took his leave, promising to return within a certain time. The term having passed without his reappearance, Noah promised his daughter to another man, upon the same condition. He also departed and failed to appear at the time stated, so when a third suitor came, with a home quite ready, Noah consented to the marriage taking place at once.
Hardly, however, had the wedded pair departed, when the second suitor came to claim his bride. Unwilling to disappoint him, the Patriarch, by invoking the name of Allah, turned a she-ass into a girl resembling his daughter and gave her to the expectant bridegroom. Soon after the pair had left, the first suitor appeared, demanding his bride. Noah then turned his bitch into a girl and married her to the laggard. Since then there have been three sorts of women in the world. Firstly, the God-fearing, who are true help-meets to their husbands; secondly, stupid and indolent slatterns, who want driving with a stick; and thirdly, shrews, who, scorning both admonition and discipline, continually snarl and snap at their owners.
Next: Job and His Family