How the Tortoise got her Shell
Narrated by Yisihak Aldade
This story talks about God, the eternal ruler, creator of heaven and earth and how the prayers of his creatures are always listened to by him, so that the exploited will not be exploited. It shows that he is a just God.
There was a creature called a tortoise. This tortoise was very weak. Like now, she wasn’t created wearing a stone. Like a lizard and like a frog, she used to walk slowly. She was a weak frog.
Now, as this tortoise went on living and living, one day animals who used to live peacefully with her before, began plotting against her.
The animals of the jungle, the birds of the sky, all the animals got together and plotted and said, “By the way, by the way, this tortoise doesn’t have any real relatives. She doesn’t have any real supporters. She has no defence. Why don’t we get together and scare her to bits and eat her.”
And this way they consulted together. They spent the whole day talking about it. They spent the whole night talking about it.
The animals included lions, leopards, hyenas, small and big birds, the sky hawk and also the big eagle (the vulture) and the big eagle that eats fish. All of the species of birds entirely and they plotted against the tortoise. After plotting they came to the decision that they should all meet tomorrow exactly at ten o’clock. Nobody should be absent.
“And we’ll eat up the tortoise. She has no force to resist.” They said this and they all agreed.
They agreed and at the end they all went to their houses agreeing to feast tomorrow.
That night, one of them (a female), who used to be a friend of the tortoise, who was at the meeting, travelled all night to the tortoise’s place and said, “Dear tortoise, what are you doing? There is a disaster. All the creatures met today and said that tomorrow at ten o’clock they’re going to eat you. They’re going to tear you to bits. They’ve finished all the preparations. They’ve consulted with each other.”
“Is that so?”
“To eat me?”
She began to cry.
“Who can save me? Who can save me from this suffering? Firstly, I have no defence. I don’t have any clothes. I don’t have any strength. I haven’t got any real muscles. Who will save me?”
She cried bitterly.
And then she said to the informer, “Listen.”
“Who and who plotted this?”
“The lion. The leopard. The baboon. All the birds, all the birds.”
Then she thought and thought and said, “Was the sky hawk involved?” (She had an agreement with the sky hawk.)
“When bad things happen even friends become foes. The sky hawk is also involved.”
“You mean she’s involved? To eat me?”
At the end, “Who else is there?”
“The lion’s also there. So is the hyena and everybody.”
“OK, let me ask you just one thing. Is God involved in the plot? Of those plotting to eat me up, is God there?”
“In fact, God is not in the plot.”
“God’s not there?”
“No, he isn’t.”
“If God isn’t involved, then God knows what will happen. He’ll save me,” she says.
After this, on the next day, all of them get together, at the arranged time, to eat her. They all gathered together and came to look for her. They looked for her and searched for her, but she wasn’t there.
"Ara! She was near this rock!"
And they looked for her. They stood on the stone and looked for her. God had in the night had this tortoise clothed with stone. They were climbing up on her stone, looking round.
“Where is she?” they said, searching for her.
Starting from that day, God clothed the tortoise in stone. Amongst all those animals who had come to eat her, God clothed her in stone and saved her.
If somebody gets up to exploit somebody, or if one person gets up to exploit another person, thinking he has no strength, thinking he has no force, thinking he’s weak, thinking he has nobody to stand up for him, eternal God who created everything, is beside him. The aggressor should know this.