1 Esdras 4

4Then the second, that had spoken of the strength of the king, began to say, O sirs, do not men excel in strength, that bear rule over the sea and land, and all things in them? But yet is the king stronger: and he is their lord, and hath dominion over them; and in whatsoever he commandeth them they obey him. If he bid them make war the one against the other, they do it: and if he send them out against the enemies, they go, and overcome mountains, walls, and towers. They slay and are slain, and transgress not the king’s commandment: if they get the victory, they bring all to the king, as well the spoil, as all things else. Likewise for those that are no soldiers, and have not to do with wars, but use husbandry, when they have reaped again that which they had sown, they bring it to the king, and compel one another to pay tribute unto the king. And he is but one man: if he command to kill, they kill; if he command to spare, they spare; if he command to smite, they smite; if he command to make desolate, they make desolate; if he command to build, they build; if he command to cut down, they cut down; if he command to plant, they plant. 10 So all his people and his armies obey him: furthermore he lieth down, he eateth and drinketh, and taketh his rest: 11 and these keep watch round about him, neither may any one depart, and do his own business, neither disobey they him in anything. 12 O sirs, how should not the king be strongest, seeing that in such sort he is obeyed? And he held his peace.

13 Then the third, who had spoken of women, and of truth, (this was Zorobabel) began to speak. 14 O sirs, is not the king great, and men are many, and wine is strong? who is it then that ruleth them, or hath the lordship over them? are they not women? 15 Women have borne the king and all the people that bear rule by sea and land. 16 Even of them came they: and they nourished them up that planted the vineyards, from whence the wine cometh. 17 These also make garments for men; these bring glory unto men; and without women cannot men be. 18 Yea, and if men have gathered together gold and silver and every other goodly thing, and see a woman which is comely in favour and beauty, 19 they let all those things go, and gape after her, and even with open mouth fix their eyes fast on her; and have all more desire unto her than unto gold or silver, or any goodly thing whatsoever. 20 A man leaveth his own father that brought him up, and his own country, and cleaveth unto his wife. 21 And with his wife he endeth his days, and remembereth neither father, nor mother, nor country. 22 By this also ye must know that women have dominion over you: do ye not labour and toil, and give and bring all to women? 23 Yea, a man taketh his sword, and goeth forth to make outroads, and to rob and to steal, 24 and to sail upon the sea and upon rivers; and looketh upon a lion, and walketh in the darkness; and when he hath stolen, spoiled, and obbed, he bringeth it to his love. 25 Wherefore a man loveth his wife better than father or mother. 26 Yea, many there be that have run out of their wits for women, and become bondmen for their sakes. 27 Many also have perished, have stumbled, and sinned, for women. 28 And now do ye not believe me? is not the king great in his power? do not all regions fear to touch him? 29 Yet did I see him and Apame the king’s concubine, the daughter of the illustrious Bartacus, 30 sitting at the right hand of the king, and taking the crown from the king’s head, and setting it upon her own head; yea, she struck the king with her left hand: 31 and therewithal the king gaped and gazed upon her with open mouth: if she laughed upon him, he laughed also: but if she took any displeasure at him, he was fain to flatter, that she might be reconciled to him again. 32 O sirs, how can it be but women should be strong, seeing they do thus?

33 Then the king and the nobles looked one upon another: so he began to speak concerning truth. 34 O sirs, are not women strong? great is the earth, high is the heaven, swift is the sun in his course, for he compasseth the heavens round about, and fetcheth his course again to his own place in one day. 35 Is he not great that maketh these things? therefore great is truth, and stronger than all things. 36 All the earth calleth upon truth, and the heaven blesseth her: all works shake and tremble, but with her is no unrighteous thing. 37 Wine is unrighteous, the king is unrighteous, women are unrighteous, all the children of men are unrighteous, and unrighteous are all such their works; and there is no truth in them; in their unrighteousness also they shall perish. 38 But truth abideth, and is strong for ever; she liveth and conquereth for evermore. 39 With her there is no accepting of persons or rewards; but she doeth the things that are just, and refraineth from all unrighteous and wicked things; and all men do well like of her works. 40 Neither in her judgement is any unrighteousness; and she is the strength, and the kingdom, and the power, and the majesty, of all ages. Blessed be the God of truth. 41 And with that he held his tongue. And all the people then shouted, and said, Great is truth, and strong above all things.

42 Then said the king unto him, Ask what thou wilt more than is appointed in writing, and we will give it thee, inasmuch as thou art found wisest; and thou shalt sit next me, and shalt be called my cousin. 43 Then said he unto the king, Remember thy vow, which thou didst vow to build Jerusalem, in the day when thou camest to thy kingdom, 44 and to send away all the vessels that were taken out of Jerusalem, which Cyrus set apart, when he vowed to destroy Babylon, and vowed to send them again thither. 45 Thou didst also vow to build up the temple, which the Edomites burned when Judæa was made desolate by the Chaldeans. 46 And now, O lord the king, this is that which I require, and which I desire of thee, and this is the princely liberality that shall proceed from thee: I pray therefore that thou make good the vow, the performance whereof thou hast vowed to the King of heaven with thine own mouth.

47 Then Darius the king stood up, and kissed him, and wrote letters for him unto all the treasurers and governors and captains and satraps, that they should safely bring on their way both him, and all those that should go up with him to build Jerusalem. 48 He wrote letters also unto all the governors that were in Cœlesyria and Phœnicia, and unto them in Libanus, that they should bring cedar wood from Libanus unto Jerusalem, and that they should build the city with him. 49 Moreover he wrote for all the Jews that should go out of his realm up into Jewry, concerning their freedom, 50 that no officer, no governor, no satrap, nor treasurer, should forcibly enter into their doors; and that all the country which they occupied should be free to them without tribute; and that the Edomites should give over the villages of the Jews which then they held: 51 and that there should be yearly given twenty talents to the building of the temple, until the time that it were built; 52 and other ten talents yearly, for burnt offerings to be presented upon the altar every day, as they had a commandment to offer seventeen: 53 and that all they that should come from Babylonia to build the city should have their freedom, as well they as their posterity, and all the priests that came. 54 He wrote also to give them their charges, and the priests’ vestments wherein they minister; 55 and for the Levites he wrote that their charges should be given them until the day that the house were finished, and Jerusalem builded up. 56 And he commanded to give to all that kept the city lands and wages. 57 He sent away also all the vessels from Babylon, that Cyrus had set apart; and all that Cyrus had given in commandment, the same charged he also to be done, and sent unto Jerusalem.

58 Now when this young man was gone forth, he lifted up his face to heaven toward Jerusalem, and praised the King of heaven, 59 and said, From thee cometh victory, from thee cometh wisdom, and thine is the glory, and I am thy servant. 60 Blessed art thou, who hast given me wisdom: and to thee I give thanks, O Lord of our fathers. 61 And so he took the letters, and went out, and came unto Babylon, and told it all his brethren. 62 And they praised the God of their fathers, because he had given them freedom and liberty to go up, 63 and to build Jerusalem, and the temple which is called by his name: and they feasted with instruments of music and gladness seven days.

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