The Deeds of the Sages: Honi the Circle Drawer

The Deeds of the Sages (Paraphrases from The Book of Legends)


Honi the Circle Drawer (1st Century B.C.E.)

According to Jewish tradition, in the 1st century B.C.E. there was a man who was known for his prayers specifically praying for rain. His name was Honi the Circle Drawer (or circle maker). Most of the month of Adar had passed by without any rain. (Adar is the month prior to the Passover.) The people went to Honi to petition him to pray for rain. Honi instructed them, “bring in the ovens in which they roast the peschal lamb (passover lamb), so that they do not designate.”

Honi prayed.

But no rain fell.

He drew a circle, like the prophet Habakkuk (Hab. 2:1), and stood within the circle saying, “Your children have called on me. I swear by your great name, that I will not leave until you send rain.”

Immediately, rain began to fall drop by drop.

But his disciples said, “it seems because of your merit that we have been allowed to see you (cause such a miracle)without being struck dead. But it seems that rain is barely falling to release you from your vow.”

Honi still in the circle replied, “I didn’t pray for this gentle rain, but for a down pour that would fill ditches, cisterns, and caves.”

Immediately the rain poured out so furiously that no drop was less than a pint.

The disciples said, “Master, again, it is only because of your merit have we been allowed to see you without being killed, but it seems to us that the rain is coming to destroy the earth.”

Again Honi prayed, “Lord it was not for this, but for rains of benevolence and mercy.”

Immediately the rain moderated, but still continued so steadily that the people had to go up to the Temple mount.

The disciples said, “Master as you have prayed to make it rain, pray now for it to stop.”

He asked them to bring an offering and prayed, “Master of the universe, your people cannot bear superabundant good or superabundant punishment. When you are angry with them, the cannot endure it. When you pour out your love upon them, they cannot endure it. May it be your will that the rain will cease and relive the world.”

A wind blew. The clouds dispersed. And the sun shown down upon them.

This book is the primary source of The Deeds of the Sages.

This book is the primary source of The Deeds of the Sages.

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