"In ancient times, LISA sent a Messenger (LEGBA) to earth daily to travel from sunrise to sunset. He did this all the time every year. One day, while on His errands, He reached Aja land and it was already night. He could go no more and so He went into a house. There was a man who was also on the road. As night fell, he, too, went into this house. They gave them a place in the same house, the two strangers together.
LISA's Messenger asked the other, '”here are you going?”
He said, “I am going where the sun sets.”
Good, LISA's Messenger said, “It is life that gives a companion. I myself am going to the same place.”
The following morning, at first cockcrow, in a house beside theirs, was a sick child sleeping, and the parents were crying.
LISA's Messenger went to ask them, “Why haven't you slept all night?”
They said, “We have a child here who is very sick.”
Now, LISA's Messenger had a sack in which He carried some powder. He gave some of the powder to a man to give to the sick child.
And He went back quickly to the man who was sleeping in his house, and said, “Wake up! Wake up! We are leaving.”
They took but a few steps away from the house, when all at once the people in the house began to shout, Where is the stranger? Where is the stranger?' The child was dead.
So they went away (LEGBA and His companion). They went until they came to Savalou (another village). There in Savalou they spent the night. They took shelter in a house beside the road. At first cockcrow, LISA's Messenger took some flint and made a fire. And this fire He put to the straw of the house where He had slept. He said, now, to the other man, “Wake up! Wake up! We are going.” After they left, the house took fire. The people asked, 'Where are the strangers? Where are the strangers?' But they were gone.
They ran away and continued their journey. As LISA's Messenger did that, his companion, who was a human being, was astonished. He did not know that the other was a Vudu (God). So they reached Badahwedji where the sun sets. That is, they were almost there.
Now, there was a river that separated Badahwedji from where the two travelers were. In order to cross the river, one must put down a raft and pass on it. There was an old man from Badahwedji who was in the habit of coming to the river bank for leaves. He gathered them and went back. Now he was crossing the river for the second time. So LISA's Messenger came behind him and pushed him, so that he fell into the water.
When He did this, the man who came with LISA's Messenger ran away. LISA's Messenger saw him run and He called him back. "Come, come here,” He said, “That's not where you are going. You are going. You are going to this place. Here it is.”
The other said, “What I saw on the road here is too much. I am running away from it.”
LISA's Messenger said, “Now, I'm not a man. I know you are astonished at all I did. But I'm not a human being. In the house where I killed the child, if that child had not died, its mother and father would have died when it took its first step. It is LISA who sent me to destroy that child.' He said, 'In that house this mother and father have borne many children, and this one child could not be allowed to spoil their lives.”
He said, “The family where I burned the house has rich relatives among them. But they buried all their money and their children are poor. So I burned the house, so that when they break the walls to make them a new and begin to dig the foundation, they will find the money.”
He said, "I had the man fall into the river, because the King of Badahwedji is dead. To replace this king, a younger man should be named. If that old man were alive, a young man could not be named. That is why Lisa sent me to throw him into the water. The people still think the old man will be their King. But if that man became King, there would be no more goats, no more cattle, no more children in that Kingdom. SAGBATA would come to their Kingdom and kill them, because MAWU had ordained that one could not be king. With a young king, they will have goats, pigs and children also.”
Then, He said, “I, I look into the hearts of men, and LISA sends me to look at things. You must not be astonished. Year after year, if I do not change into a man, I changed into a headache and kill men. I change into serpents and burn houses. And when, in the course of life, you see such things, you will know that is MAWU-LISA Who sends them."
Mawu-Lisa is their Creator God, Legba, the messenger, is their god of wisdom.
Now compare this to a Jewish legend about Elijah:
Joshua once asked Elijah to take him along on his journeys through the world. To this the prophet yielded on condition that Joshua should never question him concerning the causes of his actions, strange as they might appear; should this condition be violated, the prophet would be obliged to part from him.Both set out upon their journey.
The first halt was at the house of a poor man who owned only a cow, but who, with his wife, received the strangers most kindly, and entertained them to the best of his ability. Before they continued their journey next morning, the rabbi heard Elijah pray that God might destroy the poor man's cow, and before they had left the hospitable house the cow was dead.
Joshua could not contain himself, but in great excitement said to Elijah: "Is this the reward which the poor man receives for his hospitality toward us?" The prophet reminded him of the condition upon which they had undertaken the journey, and silently they continued on their way.
Toward evening they came to the house of a rich man who did not even look at them, so that they had to pass the night without food and drink. In the morning when they left the inhospitable house, Joshua heard Elijah pray that God would build up a wall which had fallen in one of the rich man's houses. At once the wall stood erect.
This increased the agitation of the rabbi still more; but remembering the condition which had been imposed upon him, he kept silent.
On the next evening they came to a synagogue adorned with silver and gold, none of whose rich members showed any concern for the poor travelers, but dismissed them with bread and water. Upon leaving the place Joshua heard Elijah pray that God would make them all leaders ("heads"). Joshua was about to break his promise, but forced himself to go on in silence again.
In the next city they met very generous people who vied with one another in performing acts of kindness toward the strangers. Great, then, was the surprise of Joshua when, upon leaving the place, he heard the prophet pray that God might give them only "one head”.
Joshua could not refrain any longer, and asked Elijah to explain to him his strange actions, although he knew that by asking he would forfeit the prophet's companionship.
Elijah answered: "The poor but generous man lost his cow because of my prayer, for I knew that his wife was about to die, and I asked God to take the life of the cow instead of that of the wife. My prayer for the heartless rich man was because under the fallen wall was a great treasure which would have come into the hands of this unworthy man had he undertaken to rebuild it. It was also no blessing which I pronounced upon the unfriendly synagogue, for a 'place which has many heads will not be of long duration'; on the other hand, I wished for the others, the good people, 'one head,' that union and peace may always be among them."
These stories are so similar it is obvious that they came from the same source. But who borrowed from whom? Is the story about Elijah, or is it about El-Aja (God of the Aja)? Hebrew has no vowels, so they would be spelled the same in that language.
Next post I try and figure it out.