Esdras Chapters 3 and 4

NOW when Darius reigned, he made a great feast unto all his subjects, and unto all his household, and unto all the princes of Media and Persia,

 2 And to all the governors and captains and lieutenants that were under him, from India unto Ethiopia, of an hundred twenty and seven provinces.

 3 And when they had eaten and drunken, and being satisfied were gone home, then Darius the king went into his bedchamber, and slept, and soon after awaked.

 4 Then three young men, that were of the guard that kept the king’s body, spake one to another’s;

 5 Let every one of us speak a sentence: he that shall overcome, and whose sentence shall seem wiser than the others, unto him shall the king Darius give great gifts, and great things in token of victory:

 6 As, to be clothed in purple, to drink in gold, and to sleep upon gold, and a chariot with bridles of gold, and an headtire of fine linen, and a chain about his neck:

 7 And he shall sit next to Darius because of his wisdom, and shall be called Darius his cousin.

 8 And then every one wrote his sentence, sealed it, and laid it under king Darius his pillow;

 9 And said that, when the king is risen, some will give him the writings; and of whose side the king and the three princes of Persia shall judge that his sentence is the wisest, to him shall the victory be given, as was appointed.

 10 The first wrote, Wine is the strongest.

 11 The second wrote, The king is strongest.

 12 The third wrote, Women are strongest: but above all things Truth beareth away the victory.

 13 Now when the king was risen up, ‘they took their writings, and delivered them unto him, and so he read them:

 14 And sending forth he called all the pontes of Persia and Media, and the

governors, and the captains, and the lieutenants, and the chief officers;

 15 And sat him down in the royal seat of judgment; and the writings were read before them.

 16 And he said, Call the young men, and they shall declare their own sentences. So they were called, and came in.

 17 And he said unto them, Declare unto us your mind concerning the writings. Then began the first, who had spoken of the strength of wine;

 18 And he said thus, O ye men, how exceeding strong is wine! it causeth all men to err that drink it:

 19 It maketh the mind of the king and of the fatherless child to be all one; of the bondman and of the freeman, of the poor man and of the rich:

 20 It turneth also every thought into jollity and mirth, so that a man remembereth neither sorrow nor debt:

 21 And it maketh every heart rich, so that a man remembereth neither king nor governor; and it maketh to speak all things by talents:

 22 And when they are in their cups, they forget their love both to friends and brethren, and a little after draw out swords:

 23 But when they are from the wine, they remember not what they have done.

 24 O ye men, is not wine the strongest, that enforceth to do thus? And when he had so spoken, he held his peace.




THEN the second, that had spoken of the strength of the king, began to say,

 2 O ye men, do not men excel in strength, that bear rule over sea and land, and all things in them?

 3 But yet the king is more mighty: for he is lord of all these things, and hath dominion over them; and whatsoever he commandeth them they do.

 4 If he bid them make war the one against the other, they do it: if he send them out against the enemies, they go, and break down mountains, walls, and towers.

 5 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.

 6 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.

 7 And yet he is but one man: if he command to kill, they kill; if he command to spare, they spare;

 8 If he command to smite, they smite; if he command to make desolate, they make desolate; if he command to build, they build;

 9 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 any thing.

 12 O Yemen, how should not the king be mightiest, when in such sort he is obeyed? And he held his tongue.

 13 Then the third, who had spoken of women, and of the truth, (this was Zorobabel) began to speak.

 14 O Ye men, it is not the great king, nor the multitude of men, neither is it wine, that excelleth; 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 vine yards, 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, or any other goodly thing, do they not love a woman which is comely in favour and beauty?

 19 And letting all those things go, do they not gape, and even with open mouth fix their eyes fast on her; and have not all men more desire unto her than unto silver or gold, 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 He sticketh not to spend his life with his wife, 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 the woman?

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