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1 Esdras 4

1 Esdras :Introduction 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

The King Is the Strongest
1 The second young man had answered that the king was the strongest, and he said:
1 Then the second, that had spoken of the strength of the king, began to say,
2 Men of Media and Persia, I say that men are the strongest force in the world, because together men rule the land and the sea and everything that lives in them.
2 O ye men, do not men excel in strength that bear rule over sea and land and all things in them?
3 But the king is really the strongest, because he is the ruler of all men, and whenever he tells them to do something, they obey. 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 orders them to attack each other, they do. And if the king tells them to march out to fight an enemy, they go, and they climb mountains and break through walls and pull down towers to do it. 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 kill the enemy, and they would rather be killed themselves than disobey their king's orders. And if they win the battle, they take all the enemy's possessions back to the king. 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 It's the same with farmers, who plant and harvest crops instead of fighting in the army. They take part of their harvest to the king, and they even force each other to pay taxes to him.
6 Likewise for those that are no soldiers, and have not to do with wars, but use husbundry, 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 The king is only one man, but at his command, his people kill their enemies. Or if he orders them to release their prisoners, they do so.
7 And yet he is but one man: if he command to kill, they kill; if he command to spare, they spare;
8-9 If he says to attack and destroy, they attack and destroy. And if he tells them to build or to cut something down or to plant crops, they obey him. 8 If he command to smite, they smite; if he command to make desolate, they make desolate; if he command to build, they build;
10 All of his people and his armies do whatever he says. And whenever he sits down for a meal or goes to bed, 10 So all his people and his armies obey him: furthermore he lieth down, he eateth and drinketh, and taketh his rest:
11 his guards watch over him. They don't leave to take care of personal business, and they never disobey him. 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 Men of Media and Persia, if the king can make people do these things, isn't he the strongest in the world?
Then the second young man stopped talking.
12 O ye men, how should not the king be mightiest, when in such sort he is obeyed? And he held his tongue.
Truth Is the Strongest
13 The third young man, Zerubbabel, had answered that women and truth were the strongest, and he said:
13 Then the third, who had spoken of women, and of the truth, (this was Zorobabel) began to speak.
14 Men of Media and Persia, I agree that the king is great, that there are lots of men, and that wine is strong. But who rules them all? Women, that's who!
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?
15-16 Women give birth to kings and to all those who rule the land and sea. And women raise the little boys who become men and plant the vineyards that produce wine. 15 Women have borne the king and all the people that bear rule by sea and land.
17 Women make the clothes men wear, and they tell men how great they are. Men could not live without women. 17 These also make garments for men; these bring glory unto men; and without women cannot men be.
18 A man might have a lot of gold and silver and other valuable things. But if he sees a beautiful woman,
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 he will leave his wealth and stare at her. He would rather have her than silver or gold! 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 will abandon the father who raised him and even leave his own country, just to be with his wife. 20 A man leaveth his own father that brought him up, and his own country, and cleaveth unto his wife.
21 He will spend the rest of his life with her, without ever thinking of his father or mother or country. 21 He sticketh not to spend his life with his wife. and remembereth neither father, nor mother, nor country.
22 Don't you men realize that you are controlled by women? You work long and hard, then what do you do with your wages? You give them to women.
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?
23 A man takes his sword and goes out on the roads, the rivers, and the seas, robbing and stealing. 23 Yea, a man taketh his sword, and goeth his way to rob and to steal, to sail upon the sea and upon rivers;
24 He is in danger from wild animals, and he has to travel at night. But everything he takes, he brings home to the woman he loves. 24 And looketh upon a lion, and goeth in the darkness; and when he hath stolen, spoiled, and robbed, he bringeth it to his love.
25 A man loves his wife more than he loves his father and mother.
25 Wherefore a man loveth his wife better than father or mother.
26 Lots of men have gone crazy because of women, and many others have become slaves 26 Yea, many there be that have run out of their wits for women, and become servants for their sakes.
27 or criminals, their lives ruined or even destroyed, all because of women. 27 Many also have perished, have erred, and sinned, for women.
28 It is the truth, isn't it?
Look at his majesty, King Darius.
z 4.28 King Darius: See the note at 3.1.
He is so powerful that no one from any country would dare to touch him.
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 But I have seen him with his wife
a 4.29 wife: This translates a Greek word for a woman who was legally bound to a man, but without the full privileges of a wife.
Apame, the daughter of that great man, Bartacus. One day Apame was sitting at the king's right side,
29 Yet did I see him and Apame the king's concubine, the daughter of the admirable Bartacus, sitting at the right hand of the king,
30 when she took the crown off his head and put it on her own. And she kept slapping his face with her left hand. 30 And taking the crown from the king's head, and setting it upon her own head; she also struck the king with her left hand.
31 But all the king did was to stare at her with his mouth hanging open.
If Apame smiles at the king, he is happy. If Apame is angry with him, he tells her how wonderful and beautiful she is until she isn't angry anymore.
31 And yet for all this 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, the king was fain to flatter, that she might be reconciled to him again.
32 Men of Media and Persia, if women can do all these things, I say that they are very strong!
32 O ye men, how can it be but women should be strong, seeing they do thus?
33 The king and his officials just stared at each other. Then Zerubbabel began to speak again—this time about truth:
33 Then the king and the princes looked one upon another: so he began to speak of the truth.
34 Men of Media and Persia, women are strong, the earth is huge, and the heavens are high above it. The sun moves quickly and finishes its path in the heavens in one day, then returns to its starting point again.
34 O ye men, 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 God must be extremely strong to have created these things. But truth is the strongest of everything he created. 35 Is he not great that maketh these things? therefore great is the truth, and stronger than all things.
36 Everyone on earth asks for truth, and it has the blessing of God in heaven.
b 4.36 Everyone on earth ... in heaven: Or “The whole earth asks for truth, and the sky blesses it.”
Truth makes all creation tremble, because there is no injustice in truth.
c 4.36 truth: Or “God.”
36 All the earth crieth upon the truth, and the heaven blesseth it: all works shake and tremble at it, and with it is no unrighteous thing.
37 Many things do cause injustice, for example, wine, kings, and women. As a matter of fact, we humans are dishonest and deceitful and cause injustice in everything we do, and so we will die. 37 Wine is wicked, the king is wicked, women are wicked, all the children of men are wicked, and such are all their wicked works; and there is no truth in them; in their unrighteousness also they shall perish.
38 But truth will live and last and be strong forever. 38 As for the truth, it endureth, and is always strong; it liveth and conquereth for evermore.
39 Truth always does what is fair and right, never what is evil. Everyone likes truth 39 With her there is no accepting of persons or rewards; but she doeth the things that are just, and refraineth from all unjust and wicked things; and all men do well like of her works.
40 because its decisions are always fair. Truth will rule as a powerful and glorious king forever. Praise God, the source of all truth! 40 Neither in her judgment is any unrighteousness; and she is the strength, kingdom, power, and majesty, of all ages. Blessed be the God of truth.
Darius Allows Jerusalem and the Temple To Be Rebuilt
41 When Zerubbabel finished speaking, everyone shouted, “Truth is great! Truth is the strongest of all!”
41 And with that he held his peace. And all the people then shouted, and said, Great is Truth, and mighty above all things.
42 King Darius
d 4.42 King Darius: See the note at 3.1.
said, “Zerubbabel, you are the wisest, and I will give you whatever you ask for, even more than I promised. You will sit next to me, and you will receive the title, ‘Relative of the King.’ ”
e 4.42 Relative of the King: See 3.7 and the note there.
42 Then said the king unto him, Ask what thou wilt more than is appointed in the writing, and we will give it thee, because thou art found wisest; and thou shalt sit next me, and shalt be called my cousin.
43 Zerubbabel replied, “Your Majesty, the day you became king, you made a solemn promise to rebuild Jerusalem.
43 Then said he unto the king, Remember thy vow, which thou hast vowed to build Jerusalem, in the day when thou camest to thy kingdom,
44 You also promised to give back all the sacred things from the Jerusalem temple. King Cyrus
f 4.44 King Cyrus: Ruled Persia 549-529 B.C.
saved them when he started to tear down Babylon, and he promised to send them back to Jerusalem.
44 And to send away all the vessels that were taken away out of Jerusalem, which Cyrus set apart, when he vowed to destroy Babylon, and to send them again thither.
45 And you promised to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem—the temple that was burned down by the Edomites after Judah was crushed by the Babylonians.
4.45 Ob 10
45 Thou also hast vowed to build up the temple, which the Edomites burned when Judea was made desolate by the Chaldees.
46 Your Majesty, all I ask is that you show how great you are by keeping these promises you made to God, the King of Heaven.” 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 proceeding from thyself: I desire therefore that thou make good the vow, the performance whereof with thine own mouth thou hast vowed to the King of heaven.
47 King Darius got up and kissed him, then he wrote letters to the governors, generals, and officials in the provinces of Persia. The letters said:
You must protect Zerubbabel and those with him when they go through your provinces on their way to rebuild Jerusalem.
47 Then Darius the king stood up, and kissed him, and wrote letters for him unto all the treasurers and lieutenants and captains and governors, that they should safely convey on their way both him, and all those that go up with him to build Jerusalem.
48 The governors in Southwest Syria Province
g 4.48 Southwest Syria Province: See the note at 2.17.
must bring cedar logs from Lebanon to Jerusalem. These governors will also provide workers to help rebuild the city.
48 He wrote letters also unto the lieutenants that were in Celosyria and Phenice, 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 No governor, official, or tax collector is allowed to stop the work on Jerusalem, or to enter the Jews' homes to force them to pay taxes.
49 Moreover he wrote for all the Jews that went out of his realm up into Jewry, concerning their freedom, that no officer, no ruler, no lieutenant, nor treasurer, should forcibly enter into their doors;
50 In fact, those Jews who are returning to Judah will not have to pay any taxes on their land.
Moreover, the Edomites must give back the towns they took from the Jews.
50 And that all the country which they hold should be free without tribute; and that the Edomites should give over the villages of the Jews which then they held:
51 Every year until the Jerusalem temple is finished, my treasurer will give the Jews one thousand five hundred pounds of silver to help with the cost of building.
51 Yea, that there should be yearly given twenty talents to the building of the temple, until the time that it were built;
52 He will also give them another seven hundred fifty pounds of silver a year, to buy animals for the seventeen sacrifices that must be offered each day to please God.
h 4.52 sacrifices ... to please God: Traditionally called “whole burnt offerings” because the whole animal was burned on the altar. While these sacrifices did involve forgiveness for sin, a main purpose was to please the Lord with the smell of the smoke from the sacrifice, and so in the CEV they are often called “sacrifices to please God” (see Leviticus 1).
52 And other ten talents yearly, to maintain the burnt offerings upon the altar every day, as they had a commandment to offer seventeen:
53 The priests and other Jews who returned to rebuild Jerusalem are to be set free, together with their children.
53 And that all they that went from Babylon to build the city should have free liberty, as well they as their posterity, and all the priests that went away.
54-55 Until the temple is finished and Jerusalem is rebuilt, my treasurer will give the priests and Levites money to live on. Furthermore, each priest is to be given one of the special robes that he must wear to serve in the temple.
54 He wrote also concerning. the charges, and the priests' vestments wherein they minister;
56 Those men who guard the city must be given a piece of land, and they must be paid wages.
56 And he commanded to give to all that kept the city pensions and wages.
57 King Cyrus had kept many of the sacred things that came from the Jerusalem temple. These must now be returned to Jerusalem, along with anything else Cyrus promised to return.
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 After Zerubbabel left the palace, he faced Jerusalem and looked up toward heaven. Then he praised the King of Heaven and prayed,
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 “Our Lord, you are the one who gives victory and wisdom. So you should receive all the honor for what has happened here today. I am only your servant, 59 And said, From thee cometh victory, from thee cometh wisdom, and thine is the glory, and I am thy servant.
60 just as our ancestors were. I thank you and praise you for giving me wisdom.” 60 Blessed art thou, who hast given me wisdom: for to thee I give thanks, O Lord of our fathers.
61 Zerubbabel took the letters to Babylon and told his relatives what had happened.
61 And so he took the letters, and went out, and came unto Babylon, and told it all his brethren.
62 They all praised God, because he was allowing them 62 And they praised the God of their fathers, because he had given them freedom and liberty
63 to go and rebuild Jerusalem and his temple. Then they held a big celebration for seven days, with music and lots of food. 63 To go up, and to build Jerusalem, and the temple which is called by his name: and they feasted with instruments of musick and gladness seven days.

© 1999 American Bible Society

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Last update of the program: 1-11-2019