8th December, The Spider & The Cave
When I was a child, my father, who is Polish, would tell me a traditional tale that he himself had been told when he was a boy.
According to legend, the Three Kings stopped at Herod’s palace in Jerusalem on their way to Bethlehem looking for the new-born king that the Star had prophesied. Herod, of course, knew nothing about this new-born king but was unsettled by the news. And, in the days following the Magi’s departure, the perceived threat to his sovereignty grew and grew until at last, in a fit of rage, he ordered his men to kill all new-born male children across the land .
Getting wind of this from the Three Kings, the Holy Family fled Bethlehem in Judea for Egypt and, at one point – as Herod’s men approached – they took refuge in a cave. There a spider, sensing who was hiding in his cave, quickly wove an intricate web across the entrance and Herod’s men, seeing the web, assumed that the cave had been unoccupied for some time and passed on without entering.
There is no mention of this story in the Bible but there is, I believe, a reference to it in the Quran. Tradition holds that the cave in question lies today on the outskirts of Cairo.
The moral of the story? Don’t kill spiders and look out for small miracles.
Illustration copyright © Paul Bommer