(ll. 2039-2059) Then the holy man bade his hearth-retainers take their weapons. Three hundred and eighteen wielders of the ashen spear he gathered, loyal-hearted men, of whom he knew that each would stoutly bear his linden shield to battle. And Abraham went out, and the three earls who had pledged their faith, together with a great company of their people. He would fain redeem his kinsman, Lot, from his distress. Brave were the warriors, stoutly bearing their bucklers upon the march. And when these war-wolves had journeyed nigh unto the camp, the son of Terah, wise of heart, bespake his captains (great was his need that they should wage grim war on either flank, and hard hand-play against the foe) and said that easily the Holy, Everlasting Lord could speed their fortunes in the spear-strife.
(ll. 2060-2083) Then, in the shades of night, as I have heard, the warriors dared the battle. In the camp rose din of shields and spears, death of bowmen, crash of battle arrows. Bitterly the sharp spears pierced the hearts of men. In throngs their foemen, warriors and comrades, fell in death, where laughing they had borne away the spoil. And victory and glory of war forsook the strife of the Northmen. No twisted gold did Abraham offer in ransom for his brother's son, but battle; he smote and slew the foe in war. And the Lord of heaven smote in his behalf. Four armies fled, the kings and captains of the folk. Behind them lay the goodly host of hearth-retainers, cold in death, and in their track lay those who sacked the homes of Sodom and Gomorrah, and bore away the young men and the gold. Lot's uncle gave them grim requital! And the lords of the army of Elam, shorn of their glory, continued in flight until they came nigh unto Damascus.
(ll. 2083-2095) Then Abraham betook him to the track of their retreat, and beheld the flight of the foe. Lot was redeemed, and his possessions; the women returned with joy. Far and wide upon the field of slaughter the birds were tearing at the bodies of those foemen of the free. And Abraham brought the treasure of the Southmen, their wives and children, unto their homes again, and maidens to their kinsmen. Never did any man of living men with tiny band go forth more worthily to battle than those who rushed against that mighty host.
(ll. 2096-2106) Southward the tidings of battle were borne to the people of Sodom: news of their fierce foes' flight. The lord of the folk, bereft of earls and desolate of friends, went out unto Abraham, to meet him. And with him journeyed Salem's treasure-warden, Melchizedek the mighty, the bishop of the folk. He came with gifts, gave Abraham fair greeting, the lord of armed men, and blessed him with God's blessing, and said:
(ll. 2107-2120) "Well hast thou borne thee among men, before His eyes who gave thee glory in the battle—that is, God the Lord, who brake the power of thy foes, and let thee hew thy way to safety with the sword, regain the spoil, and fell thine enemies. They perished in the track of their retreat. The marching host throve not in battle, but God put them to flight. With His hands He shielded thee against the force of greater numbers in the battle because of the holy covenant which thou dost keep with the Lord of heaven."
(ll. 2121-2125) And the prince laid his hand upon him and blessed him, and Abraham gave a tenth part of all the booty unto the bishop of God. Then unto Abraham spake the battle-king, the prince of Sodom, bereft of his warriors (he had need of favour):
(ll. 2126-2135) "Restore me now the maidens of my people whom thou hast rescued with thy host from evil bondage. Keep thou the twisted gold that was my people's, the wealth and treasure. But let me lead again in freedom to their native land and wasted dwellings the children of my people, the women and lads and widows in their affliction. Our sons are dead and all our nobles, save a few only who must guard with me the marches of our land."
(ll. 2136-2138) And straightway, crowned with valour and victory and glory, Abraham made answer before the earls. Right nobly spake he:
(ll. 2139-2160) "I say to thee, O prince of men, before the Holy Lord of earth and heaven, there is no worldly treasure I will take, nor scot nor shilling of what I have redeemed for thee among the bowmen, great prince and lord of men, lest that thou afterward shouldest say that I grew rich with the riches of Sodom and its olden treasure. But thou mayest take hence with thee all that booty which I won for thee in battle, save only the portion of these lordly men, of Aner, and of Mamre, and of Eshcol. I will not willingly deprive these warriors of their right, for they upheld me in the shock of battle and fought to thine advantage. Depart now, taking home the well-wrought gold, and lovely maidens, the daughters of thy people. Thou needest not to dread the onrush of thy foes, or war of the Northmen, but the blood-stained birds of prey are resting on the mountain slopes, gorged with the slain of their armies."
(ll. 2161-2167) Then the king departed to his home with the booty which the holy Hebrew prince, mindful of honour, had given him. And the Lord of heaven appeared again unto Abraham, comforting the noble man of heart with holy speech, and said:
(ll. 2168-2172) "Great shall be thy reward! Let not thy heart be shaken, doing My will. Thou needest have no whit of dread if thou wilt keep My precepts, but I will shield thee with My hands, and shelter thee from every evil, so long as thy life endureth. Be not afraid."
(ll. 2173-2186) And Abraham, full of years and noble deeds, made answer to his Lord and asked: "What comfort canst Thou give me, Lord of spirits, who am thus desolate? No need have I to heap up treasure for any child of mine, but after me my kinsmen shall enjoy my wealth. Thou grantest me no son, and therefore sorrow presseth on my heart. I can devise no counsel. My steward goeth to and fro rejoicing in his children, and firmly thinketh in his heart that after me his sons shall be my heirs. He seeth that no child is born to me."
(ll. 2187-2215) And straightway God made answer unto him: "Never shall son of thy steward inherit thy goods; but thine own son shall have thy treasure when thy flesh lieth cold. Behold the heavens! Number their jewels, the shining stars, that shed their wondrous beauty far and wide, and blaze so brightly over the spacious sea. So shall thy tribe be and thy seed for number. Let not thy heart be troubled. Yet shall thy wife conceive and bear a son, great in goodness, to be warden of thy wealth, when thou art gone. Be not cast down. I am the Lord who, many a year ago, brought thee forth from out the land of the Chaldeans, with but a few, and gave thee this wide realm to rule. I give thee now My promise, prince of Hebrews, thy seed shall settle many a spacious kingdom, the regions of the world from the Egyptian borders even unto Euphrates, and where the Nile hems in a mighty land and the sea limits it. All this shall thy sons inhabit; each tract and tribal realm and lofty stone-built city, whatsoever those three waters and their foaming floods encircle with their streams."
(ll. 2216-2219) Now Sarah's heart was heavy that she bare no goodly son to gladden Abraham; with bitter grief she spake unto her husband:
(ll. 2220-2233) "The Lord of heaven hath denied me to increase thy tribe, or bear thee children under heaven. I have no hope that we shall have a son to stay our house. My heart is sad. My lord, do now according as I bid thee. Here is a virgin subject unto thee, a comely maid, a daughter of the Egyptian people. Bid her go quickly to thy bed and thou shalt prove if by this woman the Lord will send an heir unto thy house."
(ll. 2234-2246) And the blessed man gave ear unto the woman's counsels, and bade his handmaid go unto his bed, according as his wife had counselled him. And the maiden conceived by Abraham, and her heart grew arrogant. She stubbornly began to vex her mistress, was insolent, insulting, evil-hearted, and would not willingly be subject to her, but straightway entered into strife with Sarah. Then, as I have heard, the woman told her sorrow to her lord, speaking with bitter grief:
(ll. 2247-2255) "Thou hast not done me right or justice! Since first my handmaid, Hagar, knew thy bed, according as I counselled thee, thou sufferest her to vex me day by day in word and deed. But her atonement shall be bitter if I may still rule over my own maid, dear Abraham. And may Almighty God, the Lord of lords, be judge between us."
(ll. 2256-2260) And straightway Abraham, wise of heart, made answer: "Never will I let thee be dishonoured while we two live. But thou shalt deal with thine handmaid even according as it pleaseth thee."
(ll. 2261-2270) Then was the wife of Abraham hard of heart and hostile-minded, ruthless, and merciless against her handmaid, and bitterly declared her hate. And the maiden fled from thraldom and oppression, and would not brook punishment or retribution for what she wrought against Sarah. But she fled into the wilderness. And there a thane of glory, an angel of the Lord, found her sad of heart and questioned her:
(ll. 2271-2272) "Whither art thou hastening, unhappy girl, handmaid of Sarah?"
(ll. 2273-2279) And straightway she answered him: "Devoid of all good things, in misery, I fled away out of my dwelling, from the hate of my lady, from injury and wrong. Here in the wilderness with tear-stained face I shall abide my doom, when from my heart grim hunger or the wolf shall tear my soul and sorrow."
(ll. 2280-2295) And the angel answered her: "Seek not to flee away and leave thy lord, but return again, deserve honour, be of humble heart, constant in virtue, and faithful to thy lord. Thou, Hagar, shalt bring forth a son to Abraham. And I say unto thee that men shall call him Ishmael. He shall be terrible, and swift to war; his hand shall be against the tribes of men, his kinsmen. Many shall war upon him bitterly. And from that prince shall spring a race and an unnumbered tribe. Return again to seek thy lord, and dwell with them that have thee in possession."
(ll. 2296-2305) And she hearkened unto the angel's counsel, and returned again unto her lord, according as the holy messenger of God commanded in words of wisdom. And Abraham had lived for six-and-eighty winters in the world when Ishmael was born. And the boy grew strong and throve according as the angel, the faithful minister of peace, had told the maid. And after thirteen years the Lord, Eternal God, said unto Abraham:
(ll. 2306-2325) "Dearest of men, keep well our covenant as I shall show thee, and I will prosper thee and honour thee in every season. Be swift to work My will. I will be mindful of the covenant and pledge I gave thee to thy comfort, because thy soul was sad. Thou shalt sanctify thy household, and set a victor-sign on every male, if thou wilt have in Me a lord or faithful friend unto thy people. I will be lord and shepherd of this folk if ye will serve Me in your hearts, and keep My laws. And each male child that cometh into the world, among this people, shall be devoted unto Me in seven nights' time, by the victor-token, or else cut off from all the world with persecution, and exiled from all good.
(ll. 2325-2337) "Do as I bid thee: I will be gracious unto you if ye will use that token of true faith. Thy wife shall bear a son, and men shall call him Isaac. Thou shalt not need to shame thee for him, but I will grant him grace divine, by My great might, and many a friend. He shall receive My blessing and My bliss, My love and favour. From him shall spring a mighty people and many a valiant leader, rulers of kingdoms, lords of the world, renowned afar."
(ll. 2338-2347) Then Abraham laid his face upon the ground and pondered these sayings in his heart with scorn. For he deemed that never the day would come when Sarah, his greyhaired wife, would bear a son. Full well he knew that she had lived an hundred winters in the world. And full of years he spake unto the Lord:
(ll. 2348-2352) "May Ishmael live according to Thy laws, O Lord, and render Thee a thankful and a steadfast spirit, an earnest heart to do Thy will, by night and day, in word and deed."
(ll. 2353-2354) And graciously Eternal God, Almighty Lord, made answer:
(ll. 2355-2369) "Yet shall Sarah bear a son, though old in winters, and fate shall be fulfilled according to My word. I will bless Ishmael, thy firstborn, with My blessing as thou dost ask, that his days may be long in the land, and his race may multiply. This will I grant thee. So also will I prosper Isaac, thy younger son, who is not yet born, with every good and pleasant thing all the days of his life. And I will surely keep My covenant with him and holy faith, and show him favour."
(ll. 2370-2381) And Abraham did even as Eternal God commanded, and, in accordance with his Lord's behest, he set the sign of the covenant upon his son, and bade his bondmen also bear that holy token. He was wise of heart, and mindful of the covenant and pledge which God had given him, and he himself received the glorious sign. God, the Mighty King, increased his glory in the world. And he strove in all his ways to work the will of his Lord....
((LACUNA—One leaf missing))
(ll. 2382-2389) But the woman laughed at the Lord of hosts with derision; full of years, she pondered those sayings in her heart with scorn. She had no faith that His words would be fulfilled. And when the Lord of heaven heard that in her bower the wife of Abraham laughed in unbelief, then spake the Holy God:
(ll. 2390-2398) "Lo! Sarah trusteth not My word. Yet all shall be fulfilled according as I promised thee in the beginning. I tell thee truly, at this self-same season thy wife shall bear a son. And when I come again unto this dwelling My word shall be fulfilled, and thine eyes shall behold thy son, dear Abraham."
(ll. 2399-2407) And alter these words they departed swiftly away from the place of oracle. The holy spirits turned their steps (and the Prince of light was their companion) till they beheld high Sodom's city-walls. They saw high halls towering above precious treasure and mansions above ruddy gold. And the Righteous Lord of heaven held long discourse with Abraham:
(ll. 2408-2418) "I hear loud tumult in this city and brawling of sinful men, the boastful words of tipplers drunk with ale, and evil speech of multitudes within their walls. Heavy are the sins of this people and the offences of these faithless men. But I will search out what this people do, O Hebrew prince, and whether they sin so greatly in their thoughts and deeds as their evil tongues speak fraud and guile. Verily brimstone and black flame, bitter and grim and fiercely burning, shall visit vengeance on these heathen folk...."
((LACUNA—One leaf missing.))
(ll. 2419-2437) And so these men abode their punishment and woe within their walls, and their wives with them. Proud in their strength, they repaid God evil for good until the Lord of spirits, Prince of life and light, could no longer withhold His wrath. Stern of heart, God sent two mighty messengers among them who came at even-tide unto the city of Sodom. They came upon a man sitting in the gate of the city, even the son of Haran, and they appeared as young men before the eyes of the sage. Then the servant of the Lord arose and went unto the strangers, and greeted them with kindness; he was mindful of what is right and fitting among men, and offered them a shelter for the night. And the noble messengers of God made answer:
(ll. 2438-2440) "We thank thee for the favour thou hast showed us. Yet do we think to bide here quietly beside this street until the time of the dawn, when God shall send again the sun."
(ll. 2441-2453) Then Lot fell at their feet, and knelt upon the ground before his guests, and offered them food and rest, the shelter of his house, and entertainment. And they accepted the kindness of the prince with thanks, and went in quickly with him unto his dwelling as the Hebrew earl pointed them the way. And the lordly hero, wise of heart, gave them fair entertainment in his hall, until the evening light vanished away. Then night came, hard upon the heels of day, and clothed the ocean-streams with darkness, and all the glory of the world, seas and wide-stretching land.
(ll. 2453-2466) Then in great throngs the dwellers of Sodom, young and old, undear to God, came to demand the strangers, in multitudes encompassed Lot about, and his guests. They bade him lead the holy heralds out from the lofty hall into their power. Shamelessly they said that they would know these men. Of decency they had no heed. Then swiftly Lot arose, deviser of counsel, and went forth from his dwelling; the son of Haran, mindful of wisdom, spake unto all that gathering of men:
(ll. 2467-2476) "Within my house two stainless daughters dwell. (Neither of them yet has known a man.) Do now as I bid you and forsake this sin. Them will I give you rather than that ye work this shame against your nature, and grievous evil against the sons of men. Take now the maidens and leave my guests in peace, for I will defend them against you before God, if so I may."
(ll. 2477-2484) And all that multitude of godless men with one accord made answer unto him: "This seemeth meet and very right: that thou leave this land! An exile, from afar thou camest to this country, desolate of friends, and lacking food. And now wilt thou be judge over us, if so may be, and teach our people?"
(ll. 2485-2499) Then, as I have heard, the heathen leaders laid hand on Lot and seized him. But his guests, the righteous strangers, brought him aid, and drew him within his dwelling from out the clutches of these cruel men. And straightway the eyes of all those standing round about were darkened; and suddenly the host of city-dwellers became blind. They might not storm the halls, with savage hearts against the strangers, as they strove to do, but stoutly the ministers of God withstood them. Lot's guests had sturdy strength, and smote the host with vengeance. Fairly the faithful ministers of peace spake unto Lot:
(ll. 2500-2512) "If thou have any son, or kinsman dear among this people, or any friend of these maidens whom we here behold, lead forth in haste from the city those dear to thee, and save thy life, lest thou too perish with these faithless men. Because of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah the Lord hath bidden give them over to fire and black flame, to smite the people in their dwellings with the pangs of death, and work His vengeance. The hour is nigh at hand. Flee upon the paths of earth, and save thy life. To thee the Lord is gracious...."
((LACUNA—One leaf missing.))
(ll. 2513-2526) And straightway Lot made answer unto them: "I may not wander so far hence, afoot, in search of safety, with these women. But ye may fairly show me love and friendship, and grant me grace and favour. I know a little high-built town not far from here; there grant me rest and respite, in Zoar to find safety. If ye will shield that lofty stronghold from the flame, we may abide there for a time secure, and save our lives."
(ll. 2526-2534) And friendly was the righteous angels' answer: "Thou shalt receive this boon, since thou hast spoken of the city. Go quickly to that stronghold, and we will grant thee peace and our protection. We will not wreak God's vengeance on these faithless men, nor slay this sinful race, till thou hast brought thy children unto Zoar, and thy wife with them."
(ll. 2535-2547) Then Abraham's kinsman hastened to the stronghold. He swiftly journeyed with his women, and stayed not foot until he led his children into Zoar, under the city-gates, and his wife with them. And when the sun arose, peace-candle of men, then, as I have heard, the Lord of glory sent brimstone out of heaven, black fire and raging flame, in vengeance upon men, because so long in days gone by they had displeased the Lord. The Ruler of spirits gave them their reward!
(ll. 2547-2561) And a great fear gripped the heathen race; din arose in their cities, wailing of sinful men, a wretched people at the point of death. All that was green in the golden cities the flame devoured; likewise no little portion of the wide land round about was covered with flame and terror. Fair groves and fruits of the earth were turned to ash and glowing ember, even as far as that grim vengeance swept the broad land of men. A roaring flame, destroying all things high and spacious, consumed the wealth of Sodom and Gomorrah. All this the Lord God destroyed, and the people with it.
(ll. 2561-2575) But when Lot's wife heard the rushing flame, and dying men within the city, she looked behind her to that place of death. Straightway, the writings tell us, she was changed into the likeness of a pillar of salt; and ever since, the image (far-famed is the story) has stood in silence where that bitter vengeance came upon her, because she would not heed the bidding of the thanes of glory. Hard and high-towering in that spot of earth she must abide her fate, the doom of God, till time shall cease and the world vanish away. That is a wonder which the Lord of glory wrought!
(ll. 2576-2599) And Abraham, the man of wisdom, went out alone at dawn and came again unto the place where he had spoken with his Lord. Far and wide he saw the fatal smoke curling upward from the earth. Pride had come upon that people and drunkenness, and they became too insolent in evil and bold in sin. God's judgements they forgot, and truth, and Him who gave them wealth and blessing in their cities. Wherefore the Prince of angels sent a consuming flame in punishment upon them. But our Faithful Lord was gracious, and remembered Abraham, His beloved, as oft He did, and delivered Lot, his kinsman, when the multitude were slain. Now Lot, the valiant, durst no longer dwell in that stronghold for fear of God, but he departed out of the city, and his children with him, to seek a dwelling far from the place of slaughter, and found, at last, a cave upon the slope of a high hill. And Lot, the blessed, dear unto God and faithful, abode there many a day, and his two daughters with him....
((LACUNA—One leaf missing.))
(ll. 2600-2620) Thus did they, and the elder daughter went in first unto their father's bed, as he lay drunk with wine. And the old man knew not when the maidens came unto his bed, but his mind and wit were clouded within him, and, drunk with wine, he knew not the coming of the maids. And the lovely sisters conceived, and bare sons unto their aged father. Lot's older daughter called her son's name Moab. And the younger called her son's name Ammon, as the sacred writings say. Of these princes sprang a countless folk, two famous peoples. One tribe men call the Moabites, a far-famed race; the other tribe men call the Ammonites.
(ll. 2621-2627) Then the brother of Haran departed with his wife and household and with all his substance to be subject unto Abimelech. And Abraham said unto men, of Sarah, his wife, "She is my sister," and thereby saved his life. For well he knew he had few friends or kinsfolk among that people. And the prince sent forth his thanes and bade them bring him Abraham's wife.
(ll. 2628-2637) Then a second time, while dwelling among alien people, Abraham's wife was taken from her husband, and given into a stranger's arms. But the Eternal Lord sustained them as He oft had done. Our Saviour came at night unto the king as he lay drunk with wine. The King of truth spake unto the prince in a dream, and in anger denounced him:
(ll. 2638-2641) "The wife of Abraham hast thou taken from him, and for this deed of evil death shall smite thy soul within thy breast."
(ll. 2641-2652) And, heavy with feasting, the lord of sin began to speak in his slumber: "O Prince of angels, wilt Thou ever, in Thine anger, suffer a life to fail which liveth with righteous ways and upright heart, and seeketh mercy at Thy hands? I questioned not the woman, but she said that she was Abraham's sister. And I have wrought no evil against her, nor any sin."
(ll. 2653-2666) Then again a second time the Righteous Lord, Eternal God, spake unto him in his dream, and said: "O prince of men, if thou reck aught of longer living in the world, restore this woman unto Abraham to be his wife. He is wise and righteous, and may behold the King of glory and speak with Him. But thou shalt perish with thy goods and treasure, if thou withhold this woman from the prince. But if that just and patient man will intercede for thee, he may prevail with Me to let thee live unharmed, enjoying blessings, friends, and treasure all the days of thy life."
(ll. 2666-2674) Then in fear the warden of the people awoke from his slumber, and bade summon his counsellors. Smitten with tenor, Abimelech told them the words of God. And they feared God's vengeance on that deed, according to the dream. Then the king in haste called Abraham before him. The mighty prince said unto him:
(ll. 2675-2690) "Tell me now what evil I have done thee, Hebrew prince, since first thou camest to our land with thy possessions, that now so fiercely thou shouldest lay a snare before me. Lo, Abraham! a stranger to this people, thou wouldest entrap us, and defile with sin. Thou saidest Sarah was thy sister and thy kin! Through her thou wouldest have done me grievous hurt and endless evil. We harboured thee with honour, in friendly wise allotting thee a dwelling in this realm, and lands for thine enjoyment. But in no friendly way dost thou reward or thank us for our favours."
(ll. 2691-2716) And Abraham answered: "I did it not in guile or hatred, nor yet to work thee any woe. But I was far from mine own people, prince of men, and shielded me by craft from, violence and death. Since Holy God first led me forth of old from the home of my lord and father, desolate of friends, I have visited many a people, many an alien race, and this woman with me. And ever this fear was in my heart, seeing I was a stranger, lest some foe should slay me, and take this woman to himself. Wherefore I said that Sarah was my sister, and this I told the war-smiths everywhere on earth where we two homeless needs must dwell with strangers. And so I did in this land also, mighty prince, when I came under thy protection. I knew not if the fear of God Almighty was among this people, when first I came here. Therefore, with care, I hid from thee and from thy thanes the truth, that Sarah was my wife and shared my bed."
(ll. 2717-2722) Then Abimelech began to endow Abraham with treasure, and gave him his wife again; and because he had taken his wife he gave him, to boot, wandering herds and servants and gleaming silver. And the lord of men said also unto Abraham:
(ll. 2723-2726) "Abide with us and choose thee a dwelling in this land, and an abode whereso it pleaseth thee; thee must I keep. Be thou a faithful friend, and we will give thee riches."
(ll. 2727-2735) And the dispenser of treasure spake also unto Sarah, and said: "No need hath Abraham, thy lord, to reproach thee, O maiden of elfin beauty, because thou hast trod my halls. With gleaming silver will I make requital for this wrong. Care not to go forth from this folk-land, seeking elsewhere unknown friends, but dwell ye here."
(ll. 2736-2741) And Abraham did according to the bidding of the prince, accepting the friendship offered by his lord, with love and favour. Dear was he unto God; knowing great blessedness and peace, and walking in his Lord's protection and under the shelter of His wings, so long as his life endured.
(ll. 2742-2759) Yet was God still angered against Abimelech for the wrong he had wrought against Sarah and against Abraham, in severing the bonds of these beloved, man and wife. He suffered woe and bitter punishment; the maidens, slave nor free, might not bear children to their lords, but God denied them, till holy Abraham prayed his Lord, Eternal God, for mercy. And the Lord of angels granted him his prayer, and for the king restored fertility to man and maid, to slave and free. The Lord of heaven suffered again their number to increase, their riches and possessions; and the Almighty Warden of mankind was merciful of heart unto Abimelech, as Abraham besought Him.
(ll. 2760-2771) Then the Almighty Lord came unto Sarah, according to His word; our God, the Lord of life, fulfilled His promise to His dear ones, the man and woman. His wife brought forth a son to Abraham, and, ere his mother had conceived him, the Prince of angels called him Isaac. And Abraham with his own hand set the glorious sign upon him within the week his mother bare him.
(ll. 2772-2777) And the boy grew strong and throve and his nature was noble. Now Abraham had lived an hundred winters in the world when his wife, with thankful heart, brought forth a son. And he had waited long for that event since first the Lord, by His own word, announced the day of joy.
(ll. 2778-2783) And it came to pass upon a time that the woman saw Ishmael playing before Abraham as they sat with holy hearts at meat together, and all their household drank and revelled. Then said his wife, the noble woman, to her lord:
(ll. 2783-2791) "Beloved lord, and warden of treasure, grant me a boon! Bid Hagar go forth from among us, and Ishmael with her. No longer shall we dwell together, if I may rule and have my will. Never shall Ishmael, after thee, divide the heritage with Isaac, my son, when thou hast given up the ghost from out thy body."
(ll. 2791-2796) Then it grieved Abraham in his heart that he must drive his own son into exile; but God, the Just and Righteous, succoured him. He knew that the heart of the man was heavy with sorrow. The King of angels, the Eternal Lord, said unto Abraham:
(ll. 2797-2803) "Let care and sorrow vanish from thy heart, and hearken unto the woman, thy wife. Bid Hagar go forth from this land, and Ishmael, the lad, with her. And I will multiply his race, and stablish them with ample blessings, as I have promised by My word."
(ll. 2804-2806) And the man hearkened unto his Lord, and drove them forth in sadness from his dwelling, the woman and his son....
((LACUNA—One leaf missing.))
(ll. 2807-2831) "Clear is it that the Just God, Lord of heaven, is with thee, granting thee triumph by His might and wisdom, and strengthening thy heart with grace divine. Therefore ye throve in all your dealings, with friend or foe, in word or deed. With His hands the Lord God prospered thee in all thy ways. That is full widely known unto the city-dwellers! Graciously grant me now, I pray thee, Hebrew prince, thy promise and thy pledge, that thou wilt be a faithful friend to me, according to the kindness I have done thee since, wretched and in exile, thou camest from afar unto this land. Requite it now with kindness that I grudged thee not of land or favour. Be gracious to this nation, my people, if the Lord our God, who ruleth the fates of men, will grant thee to extend the borders of this people, dealing out wealth to warriors of the shield, and treasure to the brave."
(ll. 2832-2833) And Abraham gave a pledge unto Abimelech that he would do according to his prayer.
(ll. 2834-2845) And the Hebrew prince, the blessed son of Terah, abode a long time in the land of the Philistines, wretched and in exile. And the Lord of angels assigned him a dwelling-place, and the city-dwelling sons of men call that land Beersheba. There the holy man built a lofty city wherein to dwell, and planted a grove and raised an altar, and on the altar made ample offerings and sacrifice to God, who granted him life and blessing under heaven.
(ll. 2846-2849) Then the Mighty Lord made a trial of the prince, and proved his strength, and sternly spake unto him, saying:
(ll. 2850-2859) "Abraham! Betake thee quickly on a journey, and with thee lead thine only son. Thou shalt offer thy son Isaac unto Me in sacrifice. When thou hast mounted the steep downs and the slope of the high land which I will show thee, there shalt thou build an altar, and kindle a flame, slay thy son with the sword, and burn his body with black flame, and offer it a sacrifice to Me."
(ll. 2860-2877) He delayed not the journey, but swiftly made him ready. For the word of the Lord of angels was terrible to him, and his Lord was dear. The blessed Abraham rested not nor slept nor spurned his Lord's behest, but the holy man girded him with a grey sword, and showed that fear of the Lord of spirits abode in his heart. The aged dispenser of gold began to saddle his asses, and bade two young men journey with him; his son was the third, and he the fourth. And he went out from his house with Isaac, the lad, according as God commanded. He went with speed and hastened on the paths of earth, according as the Lord marked out the way across the waste, until, in gleaming glory, the dawn of the third day arose over the deep water.
(ll. 2877-2880) Then the blessed man beheld the high hills towering up, as the Lord of heaven had told him. And Abraham said unto his servants:
(ll. 2881-2884) "Abide ye here in this place, and we two will come again, when we have worshipped God."
(ll. 2885-2889) And the prince and his son departed across the weald to the place which the Lord had showed him; the lad carried wood, and the father bare fire and sword. And the lad, young in winters, spake unto Abraham and said:
(ll. 2890-2892) "Here have we fire and sword, my lord! But where is the fair burnt-offering thou thinkest to sacrifice to God?"
(ll. 2893-2896) And Abraham answered (firm was his resolve to do as God had bidden): "That will the Righteous Lord, the Warden of mankind, provide as seemeth right to Him."
(ll. 2897-2908) Stout of heart he mounted the high downs, and his son with him, according as Eternal God commanded, until he stood upon the ridge of the high land in the place which the Firm and Faithful Lord had showed him. And there he built a pyre and kindled a flame and bound his son, hand and foot, and laid Isaac, the lad, on the altar, and seized his sword by the hilt. With his own hand he would have slain him, and quenched the flame with the blood of his son.
(ll. 2908-2913) Then a thane of God, an angel from on high, called unto Abraham with a loud voice. In stillness he abode the herald's message and answered the angel. Swiftly the glorious minister of God addressed him from the heavens:
(ll. 2914-2922) "Slay not thy son, dear Abraham, but take the lad from the altar alive. The God of glory is gracious unto him! Great shall thy reward be, Hebrew prince, true meed of victory and ample gifts, at the holy hands of the Heavenly King. The Lord of spirits will bless thee with His blessing because His love and favour were dearer unto thee than thine own son."
(ll. 2923-2936) The altar-fire stood kindled. The Lord of men had gladdened the heart of Abraham, kinsman of Lot, when He restored to him his son, alive. And the blessed man, brother of Haran, looked over his shoulder and beheld a ram standing not far off, caught fast in the brambles. And Abraham took it, and laid it upon the altar in the stead of his son, and drawing his sword made ready an offering and an altar smoking with the blood of the ram, and sacrificed that offering to God, and gave Him thanks for all the loving kindness which the Lord had showed him, early and late.
(ll. 1-7) Lo! far and wide throughout the earth we have heard how the laws of Moses, a wondrous code, proclaim to men reward of heavenly life for all the blessed after death, and lasting gain for every living soul. Let him hear who will!
(ll. 8-22) On him the Lord of hosts, the Righteous King, showed honour in the wilderness, and the Eternal Ruler gave him might to work great wonders. He was beloved of God, a lord of men, a wise and ready leader of the host, a bold folk-captain. Affliction came upon the tribe of Pharaoh, the enemy of God, when the Lord of victories entrusted to the bold folk-leader his kinsmen's lives, and gave the sons of Abraham a dwelling and an habitation. Great was his reward! The Lord was gracious unto him and gave him weapon-might against the terror of his foes, wherewith he overcame in battle many a warrior, and the strength of hostile men.
(ll. 22-34) And first the Lord of hosts spake unto him and told him many wonders, how the Triumphant Lord in wisdom wrought the world, and the compass of the earth, and the arching heavens; and told His own name, which the sons of men, wise patriarchs of old, knew not before, though they knew many things. And the Lord honoured the leader of the host, the foe of Pharaoh, and strengthened him with righteous strength on his departure, when, of old, in punishment that mighty host was drenched with death.
(ll. 35-53) Wailing arose at the fall of their princes; their hall-joys were hushed and their treasure was scattered. Fiercely at midnight He smote the oppressors, slaying their firstborn, laying their watchmen low. Wide the destroyer's path, and the way of the fell folk-slayer! The whole land mourned the dead. The host departed. Loud was the voice of their wailing, little their joy! Locked were the hands of the laughter-makers; the multitude had leave to go its way, a wandering folk. The Fiend was robbed and all the hosts of hell. Heaven's might came upon them; their idols fell. That was a glorious day through all the world when the host went forth! Many a year the vile Egyptians suffered bondage, because they thought for ever to refuse to Moses' kinsmen, if God would let them, their longing for the journey of their heart's desire.
(ll. 54-62) The host was ready. The prince who led them was stalwart and bold. He passed by many a stronghold with his people, leaders and lands of many hostile men, by narrow, lonely paths and unknown ways, until at last they marched, in armour, against the Ethiopian realm. Their lands were covered with a cloud, their border-homes upon the mountain-slopes. Past these, with many a hindrance, Moses led his people.
(ll. 63-67) And two nights after they escaped their foes God bade the noble prince to make encampment about the town of Etham in the marchlands, with all his force, a mighty army, and tumult of the host.
(ll. 68-88) With anxious hearts they hastened on their northward way; they knew that southward lay the Ethiop's land, parched hill-slopes and a race burned brown by the heat of the sun. But Holy God shielded that folk against the fiery heat, stretching a covering over the flaming heavens, and over the burning air a holy veil. A cloud widestretching severed earth from heaven, and led the host; burning and heavenly bright the fiery flame was quenched. The warriors marvelled, most joyous of hosts. The shelter of the day-shield moved across the heavens; God in His wisdom had covered the course of the sun with a sail, though earth-dwelling men knew not the mast-ropes, nor might behold the yards, nor understand the way in which that greatest of tents was fastened. So He showed honour and glory upon the faithful!
(ll. 88-97) Then was a third encampment to the comfort of the folk. The army all beheld the holy sail, the gleaming marvel of the sky, towering above them. And all that folk, the men of Israel, perceived that there the Lord of hosts was present to measure out a camp. Before them moved two columns in the heavens, fire and cloud, sharing alike the service of the Holy Spirit, the journey of brave-hearted men, by day and night.
(ll. 98-106) And in the dawn, as I have heard, the valiant-hearted blared forth their trumpetcalls, in peals of thunder. And all the host, the band of the brave, arose and made them ready, according as Moses, their glorious leader, gave bidding to God's people. They beheld their guide go forth before them measuring out the path of life. The sail governed their journey, and after it, with joyful hearts, the seamen trod their path through the great waters. Loud was the tumult of the host.
(ll. 106-134) Each evening rose a heavenly beacon, a second wondrous marvel after the setting of the sun, a pillar of flame shining in splendour over the hosts of men. Bright were its shining beams above the warriors; their bucklers gleamed, the shadows vanished away. No secret place could hide the deep night-shadows. Heaven's candle burned. Needs must this new night warden watch above the host, lest in the stormy weather grey heath and desert-terror should overcome their souls with sudden fear. Streaming locks of fire had their guide, and shining beams, menacing the host with flame and terror, and threatening destruction to that people in the waste, except they swiftly hearkened unto Moses. Armour gleamed, and bucklers glistened as the warriors took their steadfast way. And over the troops and high above the host stood the banner, moving as they moved, even unto the stronghold of the sea at the land's end. And there they pitched a camp and rested, for they were weary. Stewards brought the warriors food and strengthened them. And when the trumpet sang they stretched themselves upon the hills, shipmen within their tents. That was the fourth encampment and pause of the shield-men by the Red Sea.
(ll. 135-141) There dread tidings of inland pursuit came unto the army. A great fear fell upon them, and dread of the host. So the exiles abode the coming of the fierce pursuers, who long had crushed those homeless men and wrought them injury and woe. They heeded not the covenant which the ancient king had given aforetime....
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(ll. 142-153) ....who became the people's heir and had their treasure, and greatly throve. All this the Egyptian race forgot when their wrath was stirred by a quarrel. They wrought great wrong to Moses' kinsmen, broke the covenant, and slew them. Their hearts were filled with faithlessness and rage, the mighty passions of men. They would fain requite the gift of life with evil, that the people of Moses might pay for that day's work in blood, if almighty God would prosper their destructive journey.
(ll. 154-169) Then the hearts of the earls were hopeless within them as they beheld the shining bands, the hosts of Pharaoh, marching from out the south, uplifting a forest of lances, with banners waving above them, a great host treading the border-paths. Their spears were in array, shields gleamed and trumpets sang; the battle line rolled on. Over dead bodies circling screamed the birds of battle, dewy-leathered, greedy for war, dark carrion lovers. In hope of food, the wolves, remorseless beasts of slaughter, sang a grim eveningsong; dogging the march of the foe, they abode the coming of death; the march warders howled in the midnight. The doomed soul fled; the host was compassed about.
(ll. 170-199) Now and again the proud thanes of the host measured the mile-paths on their steeds. The prince of men rode forth before the troops, the war-king raised the standard; the battle-warden bound on helm and chinguard (banners gleamed) in expectation of war, shook his armour, and bade his warlike host, his firm-ranked cohorts, go boldly into battle. The foe beheld with hostile eyes the coming of the landsmen. About him fearless fighters moved; grey wolves of war went forward to the onslaught thirsting for battle, loyal of heart. He chose the flower of his people for that service, two thousand far-famed heroes of high birth, kings and kinsmen. And each led out his men, and all the warriors that he well could muster in the appointed time. The young men were gathered together, the kings in their pomp. Frequently sounding, the well-known voice of the horn signalled the host where the war-troop of heroes should bear their arms. So the dark horde was marshalled; throng after throng, in thousands, hasted thither, a countless host. They were resolved, in vengeance for their brothers, to slay the tribes of Israel with the sword, at the break of day.
(ll. 200-208) Then a sound of wailing arose in the camp, an evening-song of woe. A great fear was upon them; the nets of death encompassed them about. The fatal tidings flew abroad; tumult arose. The foe were resolute, a horde in armour gleaming, until the mighty angel who upheld that host scattered the proud and hateful multitude, so that no more might one behold another's face; but their journey was divided.
(ll. 209-220) All that long night the fugitives had respite, though foes beset them upon either hand, on the one side that great host, on the other side the sea. They had no way of escape nor any hope of their inheritance, but halted on the hills in shining armour with foreboding of ill. And all the band of kinsmen watched and waited for the coming of the greater host until the dawn, when Moses bade the earls with brazen trumpets muster the folk, bade warriors rise and don their coats of mail, bear shining arms, take thought on valour, and summon the multitude with signal-beacons unto the sandy shore of the sea.
(ll. 220-232) The leaders bold obeyed the battle-signal; the host made ready. The seamen heard the trumpet-summons, and struck their tents upon the hills. The army was astir. They numbered off twelve companies of valiant men to form the van of battle against their foes' grim wrath. The host was in an uproar. From every noble tribe among that people were chosen fifty cohorts, under shield, the flower of the folk. And every cohort of that famous army was of a thousand warriors, far-famed wielders of the spear.
(ll. 232-251) That was a warlike band. The leaders of the army welcomed not among that number the weak, who yet because of youth could not defend them under board and byrnie against a wily foe, who never yet had known the baleful thrust, the bitter wound, the insolent play of the spear over the edge of the linden shield. Nor might the aged, grey-haired warriors be of service in the battle if their strength had failed them. But according to their strength they joined the fray, even according as their valour would endure with honour among men, and their strength suffice to undergo the spearstrife. The army of these sturdy men was mustered, and ready to advance. Their banner rose on high, a gleaming column, and all abode there nigh unto the sea until their guiding beacon pierced the clouds, and shone upon their linden shields.
(ll. 252-258) Then a herald rose before the warriors, a valiant leader, and, lifting up his shield, he bade the captains of the host make silence, that all the multitude might hear the words of their brave lord. The shepherd of the kingdom fain would speak with holy voice unto his legions. The leader of the host in words of worth addressed them:
(ll. 259-275) "Be not afraid though Pharaoh leadeth hither this mighty host of sword-men, a multitude of earls. Upon them all this day Almighty God will give requital by my hand, that they may live no longer to vex the tribes of Israel with woe. Ye shall not dread doomed armies and dead men. Their fleeting life hath run unto the end. The knowledge of God hath vanished from your hearts. I give you better counsel, to serve the God of glory, and pray the Lord of life for victory and grace and safety, wherever ye may journey. He is the Eternal God of Abraham, Creation's Lord, magnanimous and mighty, who with His strong hand guardeth all this host."
(ll. 276-298) Then the lord of men spake with a loud voice before the multitude and said: "Look now, dearest of people, with your eyes and behold a marvel! In my right hand grasping this green rod I smote the ocean depths. The waves rise up; the waters form a rampartwall. The sea is thrust aside. The ways are dry: grey army-roads, ancient foundations (never have I heard in all the world that men before set foot thereon), shining plains, imprisoned deep sea-bottoms over which of old the great waves foamed. The south wind, breath of the ocean, hath driven them back. The sea is cleft asunder; the ebbing waters spewed up sand. Well I know Almighty God hath showed you mercy, ye bronze-clad earls. Most haste is best now, that ye may escape the clutch of foes since God hath reared a rampart of the red seastreams. These walls are fairly builded to the roof of heaven, a wondrous wave-road."
(ll. 299-309) And after these words the multitude arose, the host of the valiant. The sea lay tranquil. Upon the sand the legions raised their standards and shining linden shields. And over against the Israelites the wall of water stood firm and upright for the space of one whole day. Of one mind was that company of earls. The wall of water shielded them with sure defence. In no wise did they scorn their holy leader's counsels as the time for deeds drew near, when the words of their well-loved lord were ended, and the voice of his eloquence was still.
(ll. 310-318) The fourth tribe led the way, a throng of warriors, marching through the sea upon the green sea-bottom. The tribe of Judah trod that unknown road alone, before their kinsmen, and God Almighty gave them great reward for that day's work, granting them glory of triumphant deeds, that they might have dominion over kingdoms and sway their kinsmen.
(ll. 319-330) As they descended on the oceanbottom that mighty tribe had lifted up their standard mid the spear-host, high above their shields their battle ensign, a golden lion, bravest of beasts. Not long would they endure oppression by the lord of any people while they might live and lift their spears to battle. In the van were strife and stubborn hand-play, warriors valiant in the weapon-struggle, fearless fighters, bloody wounds and clash of helmets, onrush of a battle-host, as Judah's sons advanced.
(ll. 331-339) Behind that army proudly marched the seamen, sons of Reuben; the vikings bore their bucklers over the salt sea-marsh, a multitude of men, a mighty legion, advancing unafraid. For his sin's sake Reuben yielded his dominion and marched behind his kinsmen. From him his brother took his right as first-born in the tribe, his eminence and wealth. Yet was he ready.
(ll. 340-253) And after them with thronging bands the sons of Simeon marched, the third division. Banners waved above the marching warriors; with flashing spears the battle troop pressed on. Over the ocean's bosom dawn arose, God's beacon, radiant morning. The multitude went forth, the host advanced, one mail-clad band behind another. And one man only led this mighty folk, tribe after tribe, upon their march beneath the pillar of cloud, whereby he won renown. And each observed the right of nations and the rank of earls, as Moses gave them bidding.
(ll. 253-361) One father had they all, one of the patriarchs, a well-loved leader, wise of heart and dear unto his kinsmen, who held the landright and begat a line of valiant men, the tribe of Israel, a holy race, God's own peculiar people. So ancient writers tell us in their wisdom, who best have known the lineage of men, their kinship and descent.
(ll. 362-376) Noah, the great prince, sailed over unknown waters, deepest of floods that ever came on earth, and his three sons with him. Within his heart he cherished holy faith. Wherefore he steered across the oceanstreams the richest treasure whereof I ever heard. To save the life of all the tribes of earth the wise sea-prince had numbered out a lasting remnant, a first generation, male and female, of every living kind that brought forth offspring, more various than men now know. And likewise in the bosom of their ship they bore the seed of every growing thing that men enjoy beneath the heavens.
(ll. 377-396) Now Abraham's father, as the wise men tell us, was ninth from Noah in lineage and descent. This is the Abraham the God of angels named with a name, and gave the holy tribes into his keeping, far and near, and made him mighty over nations. He lived in exile. Thereafter, at the Holy One's behest, he took the lad, most dear of all to him, and they two, son and father, climbed together a high land unto the hill of Sion. And there, so men have heard, they found a covenant and holy pledge, and saw God's glory. And there, in after years, the son of David, the great king, the wisest of all earthly princes, according to the teaching of the prophets, built a temple unto God, a holy fane, the holiest and highest and most famous among men, the greatest and most splendid of all temples the sons of men have built upon the earth.
(ll. 397-416) Abraham took Isaac, his son, and went to the place appointed, and kindled the altar flame. The first of murderers was not more doomed. As a bequest to men he would have sacrificed his well-loved son with fire and flame, his only heir on earth, the best of children, the lasting hope and comfort of his life, for which he long had waited. The farfamed man laid hand upon the lad and drew his ancient sword (loud rang the blade), and showed he held his son's life not more dear than to obey the King of heaven. Up rose the earl. He would have slain his son, and put the lad to death with blood-red blade, if God had not withheld him. The Glorious Father would not take his son in holy sacrifice, but laid His hand upon him. And out of heaven a restraining Voice, a Voice of glory, spake, and said to him:
(ll. 417-445) "Abraham! Put not the lad, thy son, to death, nor slay him with the sword! The Lord of all hath proven thee, and truth is known, that thou hast kept the covenant with God, a faithful compact. And that shall be to thee an everlasting peace through all the days of thy life for ever. Doth the son of man require a greater pledge? Heaven and earth may not cover the words of His glory, which are ampler and greater than the regions of earth may include, the orb of the world, and the heavens above, the ocean depths and the murmuring air. The King of angels and Wielder of fates, Lord of hosts, Dispenser of victory, sweareth an oath by His life, that men on earth with all their wisdom shall never know the number of thy tribe and kinsmen, shield-bearing men, to tell it truly, except someone shall grow so wise of heart that he alone may number all the stones on earth and stars in heaven, sand of the sea-dunes, and salt waves of the sea. But thy tribe, the best of peoples, free-born of their fathers, shall dwell in the land of Canaan between the two seas even unto the nations of Egypt...."
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(ll. 446-457) Then all that folk was smitten with terror; fear of the flood fell on their wretched hearts. The great sea threatened death. The sloping hills were soaked with blood; the sea spewed gore. In the deep was uproar, the waves were filled with weapons; a death-mist rose. The Egyptians turned and fled away in fear, perceiving their peril. They were shaken with horror and fain to reach their homes. Their boasting was humbled. The dreadful rushing sea swept over them. Nor did any of that army come ever again to their homes, but Fate cut off retreat and locked them in the sea.
(ll. 457-470) Where before lay open roads the ocean raged. The host was overwhelmed. The seas flowed forth; an uproar rose to heaven, a moan of mighty legions. There rose a great cry of the doomed, and over them the air grew dark. Blood dyed the deep. The walls of water were shattered; the greatest of sea-deaths lashed the heavens. Brave princes died in throngs. At the sea's end hope of return had vanished away. War shields flashed. The wall of water, the mighty sea-stream, rushed over the heroes. The multitude was fettered fast in death, deprived of escape, cunningly bound. The ocean-sands awaited the doom ordained when the flowing billows, the ice-cold, wandering sea with its salt waves, a naked messenger of ill, a hostile warrior smiting down its foes, should come again to seek its ancient bed.
(ll. 470-491) The blue air was defiled with blood. The roaring ocean menaced the march of the seamen with terror of death, till the Just God swept the warriors away by Moses' hand. The flood foamed, hunting them afar, bearing them off in its deadly embrace. The doomed men died. The sea fell on the land; the skies were shaken. The watery ramparts crumbled, the great waves broke, the towering walls of water melted away, when the Mighty Lord of heaven with holy hand smote the warriors and that haughty race. They could not check the onrush of the sea, nor the fury of the ocean-flood, but it destroyed the multitude in shrieking terror. The raging ocean rose on high; its waters passed over them. A madness of fear was upon them; deathwounds bled. The high walls, fashioned by the hand of God, fell in upon the marching army.
(ll. 491-515) With ancient sword the foamy-bosomed ocean smote down the watery wall, the unprotecting ramparts, and at the blow of death the great host fell asleep, a sinful throng. Fast shut in they lost their lives, an army pale with terror of the flood, when the brown waste of waters, the raging waves, broke over them. The flower of Egypt perished when the host of Pharaoh, a mighty multitude, was drowned. The foe of God discovered as he sank that the Lord of the ocean-floods was mightier than he, and, terrible in wrath, with deadly power would end the battle. The Egyptians won a bitter recompense for that day's work. Never came any survivor of all that countless host unto his home again to tell of his journey or rehearse to the wives of heroes, throughout the cities, the grievous tidings, the death of their treasure-wardens; but a mighty sea-death came upon them all and swallowed their legions, and slew their heralds, and humbled their boasting. For they had striven against God!
(ll. 516-531) Then on the shore of the sea Moses, the noble-hearted, preached to the Israelites, in holy words, eternal wisdom and enduring counsels. They name it the day's work! And still men find in Scripture every law which God, in words of truth, gave Moses on that journey. If life's interpreter, the radiant soul within the breast, will unlock with the keys of the spirit this lasting good, that which is dark shall be made clear, and counsel shall go forth. It hath the words of wisdom in its keeping, earnestly teaching the heart, that we may not lack the fellowship of God, or mercy of our Lord. He giveth us, as learned writers say, the better and more lasting joys of heaven.
(ll. 531-547) This earthly joy is fleeting, cursed with sin, apportioned unto exiles, a little time of wretched waiting. Homeless we tarry at this inn with sorrow, mourning in spirit, mindful of the house of pain beneath the earth wherein are fire and the worm, the pit of every evil ever open. So now arch-sinners win old age or early death; then cometh the Day of Judgment, the greatest of all glories in the world, a day of wrath upon the deeds of men. The Lord Himself, in the assembly, shall judge the multitude. Then shall He lead the souls of the righteous, blessed spirits, to heaven above, wherein are light and life and joy of bliss. In blessedness that host shall praise the Lord of hosts, the King of glory, for ever and for ever.
(ll. 548-552) So spake the mildest of men, in a loud voice, mindful of counsel, and made great in strength. In silence the host awaited his fixed will, perceiving the wonder, the hero's words of goodly wisdom. And he spake unto the throng and said:
(ll. 553-563) "Mighty is this multitude and great our Leader, a strong Support who governeth our march. He hath given the tribes of Canaan into our hands, their cities and treasure, and wide-stretching realms. If ye will keep His holy precepts, the Lord of angels will fulfil the promise which He sware to our forefathers, in days of old—that ye shall vanquish every foe and hold in victory the banquet hails of heroes between the two seas. Great shall be your fortune!"
(ll. 564-579) And at these words the host was glad. The trumpets sang their song of triumph, and banners tossed to strains of joyous music. The folk had reached the land. The pillar of glory had led the host, the holy legions, under God's sheltering hand. They rejoiced that their lives were saved from the clutch of the foe, though boldly had those warriors ventured under the roof of the waves. They beheld the walls upstanding. All the seas seemed bloody unto them through which they bore their armour. They rejoiced with a song of battle that they were safe. The army legions lifted up their voice and praised the Lord for that great work. The mighty host in chorus, man and maiden, sang psalms and battle anthems, with reverent voices chanting all these wonders.
(ll. 580-590) Then could be seen on the shore of the sea African maidens adorned with gold. They raised their hands in thanks for their deliverance; they were blithe beholding their safety; they took heed of the spoils; their bonds were broken. On the sea-shore they dealt out the booty among the standards, ancient treasure and raiment and shields. They divided the gold and the woven cloth, the treasure of Joseph, the riches of men. But their foes, the greatest of armies, lay still in that place of death.
(ll. 1-21) In Jerusalem, as I have heard, the Hebrews prospered, dispensing treasure and holding kingly sway, as well was meet, when by the might of God the host and all the battle legion were given into Moses' hand, and in a multitude they got them forth from Egypt. That was a valiant race so long as they might rule their realm and sway their cities! As long as they kept the covenant of their fathers, great was their prosperity! And God, the Warden of the heavenly kingdom, the Holy Lord, the Prince of glory, the Lord of every creature, watched over them, and gave them strength and courage, so that in war they conquered many nations who rose against them, until at last pride came upon them at their wine-feasts, drunken thoughts and devilish deeds, and they forsook the teachings of their law, and the might of God. So should no man sunder his soul's love from God.
(ll. 22-32) Then I beheld that nation walking in ways of error, the tribe of Israel following after sin, and doing evil. That was a grief to God! The Warden of the heavenly kingdom oft sent His holy prophets, proclaiming knowledge to the people, and wisdom to the host. A little time they trusted in His counsels, till longing for the joys of earth defrauded them of lasting wisdom, and in the end they turned them from the laws of God, and chose the Devil's craft.
(ll. 33-56) Then the Lord became displeased and angered with that people whom He had prospered. To them, a wandering folk, who once were dearest of mankind to God, dearest of all peoples and best loved of the Lord, He had showed a highway to their lofty city and their native land, where Salem stood, wailed round about and girt with battlements. Thither the wise men, the Chaldean people, came up against the city within whose walls their wealth was stored. A host rose up to smite them, a great army, eager for deeds of blood. Nebuchadnezzar, the lord of men and prince of Babylon, stirred up strife against them in his city. In enmity he searched the thoughts of his heart how he most easily could smite the Israelites and take them captive. From south and north he mustered savage legions, faring westward with a band of heathen princes against that lofty town. The rulers of Israel prospered as long as the Lord would let them!
(ll. 57-78) Then, as I have heard, these mortal foes, a host of unbelievers, sacked their city. From Solomon's temple, that glorious building, they took red gold and jewels and silver. They plundered the treasure under the walls of stone, all such as those earls possessed, till they had razed and wasted every stronghold which stood for a protection to that people. They carried off as spoil the treasure of princes, as much as was found there, cattle and men; and so returned, with great possessions, over the eastern roads, leading the tribe of Israel, a countless host, on a long journey unto Babylon, into the power of heathen judges. And Nebuchadnezzar showed no pity on the tribe of Israel, but made them subject unto him to be his slaves, all such as had escaped the sword. And he sent a great host of his thanes into the west to take possession of their kingdom and their wasted realm, after the Hebrews.
(ll. 79-87) He bade his prefects seek among the wretched remnant of the tribe of Israel which of the young men they had brought there were wisest in the books of the law. He wished the youths to grow in knowledge, that they might teach him wisdom, but not at all because he could or would be mindful to thank God for all the gifts which He had given him to his comfort.
(ll. 88-103) And they found three wise and noble youths, devout and young, and with the fear of God. One was Hananiah; the second, Azariah; the third was Mishael, chosen of the Lord. Stout of heart and thoughtful-minded the young men came before the king, where the heathen ruler sat rejoicing in his splendour in the city of the Chaldeans. And the Hebrew men with holy hearts spake words of wisdom and great learning unto the proud prince. Then the lord of Babylon, the haughty king, bade his thanes and princes on their lives see to it that the three youths knew no lack of food or raiment all their life long.
(ll. 104-115) Now the famous lord of Babylon was great and glorious over all the earth, and terrible to the sons of men. He lived in insolence and heeded not the law. And there came to the great king in his slumber, when the prince had gone to his rest, a terrible dream that hovered about his heart, how wondrously the world was wrought, unlike for men, until the world's redemption. Truth was revealed as he slumbered, that there would come a bitter end to every rule and to the joys of earth.
(ll. 116-129) Then the wolf-hearted lord of Babylon awoke from his wine-flushed slumber. His heart was not blithe; but a fear was upon him, and dread of the dream. Yet he could not recall what the vision had been. And he summoned his people, all such as were skilled in magic, and asked the men so gathered what his dream had been, while men lay sleeping. He was shaken with terror and knew no beginning nor word of the dream; but he bade them tell it to him. Troubled, the sorcerers answered (for wisdom was not given them to tell his dream unto the king):
(ll. 130-133) "How may we divine so secret a thing in thy soul, O king! how thy dream hath run, or knowledge come to thee of Fate's decrees, except thou tell us first the beginning of thy dream?"
(ll. 134-144) And the wolf-hearted king was vexed, and answered his wise men: "Ye were not so wise above all men as ye told me, saying ye knew my fate as it should fall, or I should find it in the future, nor do ye know the dream that bringeth wisdom before this people. Ye shall die the death except I know the import of the dream that lieth heavy on my heart."
(ll. 145-157) But the company there gathered might not divine or search out knowledge, for it was denied them to tell the king his dream, or the mysteries of fate, until Daniel, the prophet, wise and righteous, and beloved of God, came to the palace to interpret the vision. He had pre-eminence among that wretched remnant who needs must serve the heathen king. God gave him grace from heaven through the communion of the Holy Spirit; and an angel of the Lord rehearsed to him all the dream, even as the king had dreamed it.
(ll. 158-177) Then went Daniel at the dawn of day to tell the dream unto his lord, recounting wisely the decrees of fate; and soon the haughty king knew all the dream, its end and its beginning, that he had dreamed. And Daniel had great honour and reward in Babylon among the scribes, after he showed the dream unto the king which the prince of Babylon had not been able to remember because of his sins. Yet could not Daniel bring him to believe in the might of God, but he began to build an idol in the plain which men called Dura, which was in the land of the mighty Babylonians. The city-warden, the ruler of the realm, reared an idol before men, a golden image displeasing unto God; he was not wise, but redeless, reckless, heeding not the right....
((LACUNA—One leaf missing.))
(ll. 178-187) The warriors listened; and when the sound of the voice of the trumpet came to the city-dwellers, the heathen people fell upon their knees before the image, and bowed them down before the idol, and worshipped it, knowing no better wisdom. Wickedness they wrought and sin, with hearts perverted, even as their king. As their lord before them, the people turned to folly. Grim the reward that came on him thereafter! For he had sinned.
(ll. 188-208) Now there were three men of Israel in the city of the king who would not heed their lord's decree, nor offer up their prayers unto the idol, though trumpets sang aloud among the host. They were of the stock of Abraham's children, faithful men who served Almighty God, the Everlasting Lord in heaven above. The royal youths gave men to know they would not have or hold the golden image as a god, but only the Great King, Shepherd of souls, who granted them His grace. Oft they said boldly that they recked naught of the idol, nor could the leader of the heathen people constrain them unto prayer, nor compel them to go before the golden image which he had set up as a god. These thanes said unto their lord that this was their resolve: that they were subject to a higher power in this lofty city, "nor will we ever work idolatry, nor worship the image which thou hast made to be thy god."
(ll. 209-223) Then the prince of Babylon was angered with them, and in wrath gave them savage answer: grimly said that they should quickly worship, or suffer pain and torture, the cruel surge of flame, except they sought protection of that worst of demons, the golden image which he had made his god. Yet would the youths not hearken in their hearts unto his heathen counsels. They were resolved to keep the law of God and not forsake the Lord of hosts, lest that their virtue turn to heathen folly. They had no longing to seek shelter with false gods, though bitter the death proclaimed!
(ll. 224-241) Then the fierce king was moved to anger, and bade them kindle a furnace to torture the youths to death, because they withstood his will. The furnace was heated, as fiercely as might be, with cruel flames of fire. And the lord of Babylon, savage and grim, assembled the people, and bade his servants bind the prophets of God, and cast the young men in the flames. But He was ready who wrought them help! Though the prince so fiercely thrust them into the heart of the flame, yet a mighty messenger of God preserved their lives, and brought them help from heaven, as many learned. From heaven above the Gracious Lord of men sent unto them His Holy Spirit. An angel passed within the furnace, wherein they suffered torment, and covered the noble youths with sheltering arms under the roof of fire. And the heat of the quivering flame could not mar their beauty; but God preserved them.
(ll. 242-250) Then the heart of the heathen prince was hardened; he bade them quickly be burned with fire. The flame rose high, the furnace was heated; through and through the iron glowed. Many a slave cast wood therein according to command. Brands they bore to the ruddy blaze. The ruthless king would fain have built an iron wall about those righteous men, but the flame passed over them, beloved of God, and with joy slew more than was meet.
(ll. 251-268) The flame passed by the holy men and fell upon their heathen foes. The youths were blithe of heart! Round about the furnace burned the slaves; the fire took hold upon those evil men to their hurt, and the prince of Babylon beheld it. Blithe were the Hebrew earls, praying to God with zeal and gladness in the furnace, offering their accustomed praise, because their lives were spared. With joyful hearts they worshipped God, in whose protection the fierce heat of the flame was turned away. The noble youths were sheltered from the flames' assault, and suffered naught of evil. The roaring furnace was no more grievous unto them than the shining of the sun. The fire harmed them not, but in their hour of danger the flames passed over them, and fell on those who did them evil. The heathen slaves departed from the holy youths. And the beauty of those cursed men was lessened, whoso had rejoiced in that work!
(ll. 269-278) Now when the haughty king beheld how in that torture a miracle was come to pass, and believed his senses, it seemed to him a wondrous thing. The righteous men, all three, were walking unharmed in the fiery furnace, and one was seen there walking with them, an angel of Almighty God. No whit of harm had come upon them, but within the furnace it was most like as when in the summer season the sun shineth, and the dewfall cometh at dawn, scattered by the wind. It was the God of glory who saved them from that peril.
(ll. 279-282) Then in the hot flame the holy Azariah, eager-hearted, sang an inspired hymn. The sinless man praised God and spake this word:
(ll. 283-295) "O Lord of all! Thy might is strong to save! Excellent is Thy name in all the earth, sublime and great in glory! Thy laws are always sure and just and mighty, even as Thou art mighty. Wise and righteous is Thy will, O Lord of heaven! O God of spirits, grant us help and favour! Save us, O Holy Lord! Wrapped in flame, we pray Thee for Thy mercy on our woe, our thraldom and humiliation.
(ll. 295-308) "As we have wrought, so hath it come to pass. Our fathers also, city-dwellers, in pride have sinned, and broken Thy commandments, and scorned a holy life. We are scattered over all the spacious earth and driven asunder, cast out from grace. In many lands and under many peoples our life is infamous and vile, and we are subject to the worst of earthly kings, and captive to grim-hearted men; in heathen lands we suffer thraldom.
(ll. 309-332) "Thanks be to Thee, O Lord of hosts! that Thou hast laid this punishment upon us. Forsake us not, O Lord Eternal, for Thy mercy's sake which men attribute unto Thee, and for the covenant, O Lord of glory, Shaper of spirits, Saviour of men! which Thou didst give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Thou didst promise them in days of old that Thou wouldest bless their seed, and that a mighty nation should be born of them, a race to be exalted as the stars of heaven that trace their wandering courses even to the strand of ocean, and the sands of the sea-shore that form the foundations of the deep throughout the salt sea; even so should they be numberless for untold years. Fulfil Thine ancient promise now, though few are living! Show forth Thy glory and Thy word upon us! Make known Thy strength and power, that the Chaldean race and many nations living heathen lives may learn Thy glory under heaven, and know Thou only art Eternal God, Wielder of victory, Lord of hosts and all creation, the Righteous God."
(ll. 333-344) So the holy men praised the loving-kindness of the Lord, rehearsing the strength of His might. Then was a gleaming angel sent from heaven above, with shining face and clothed in glory, who came to comfort and deliver them with loving favour. Holy and heavenly bright, he cast aside the blaze of the hot flame; with mighty strength he swept away and quenched the flame of fire so that their bodies were not harmed a whir. But in his wrath he hurled the fire upon their foes, because of their deeds of evil.
(ll. 345-361) Then in the furnace, when the angel came, the air was cool and pleasant, most like the weather in the summer season, when rain falleth during the day and warm showers from the clouds. As is the best of weather, so was it in the furnace for their comfort through the holy might of God. The burning flame was quenched and scattered where Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael, with brave hearts, were walking in the furnace, and the angel with them who preserved their lives, who was the fourth. Devout of heart, the three youths praised the Lord, and called upon the sons of Israel and all created things of earth to bless the Everlasting God, the Lord of nations. With understanding hearts they spake with one accord:
(ll. 362-408) "O let the beauty of the world, and all Thy works, bless Thee, our Gracious Father, the heavens and all the angels, and the shining waters! Let all, who in Thy great creation dwell in heavenly glory, bless the Lord of might! Let all things made, the shining orbs that circle through the heavens, the sun and moon, praise Thee in their degree. Let the stars of heaven, and dew and the fierce storm, praise Thee. O let the souls of men bless the Lord of might! Let burning fire and radiant summer praise Thee. Let night and day and all lands, light and darkness, heat and cold, praise Thee in their degree. Let frost and snow and wintry weather and the flying clouds bless the Lord of might! Let the swift, shining lightnings bless Thee! Let all the earth, the hills and plains and lofty mountains, the salt sea-waves and ocean, and the welling springs, praise the Everlasting God, the Righteous Lord! Let the whales, and the birds of the air that fly in the heavens, praise Thee. Let all that move in the water, wild beasts and all cattle, bless Thy name! Let all men praise Thee, yea! let Israel bless the Lord, who giveth all good things. Let holy men of heart, the spirits and souls of the righteous, praise the Everlasting God, the Lord of life, who giveth a reward to all. Let Hananiah and Azariah and Mishael praise the Lord! We worship Thee and bless Thee, Lord of men, Almighty Father, and Thee, True Son of God, Saviour of souls and Helper of mankind, and Thee, O Holy Ghost, the God of wisdom. We praise Thee, Holy Lord, and worship Thee with prayer. Blessed art Thou, and adorned with holy might for ever, above the world's roof reigning King of heaven, and Lord of life in every land."
(ll. 409-415) Then Nebuchadnezzar, the lord of that people, spake unto the princes who stood nigh unto him and said: "Ye beheld, my princes, how we cast three men to a fiery death in the blazing flames. And now, in truth, I see four men therein, except my sense deceive me."
(ll. 416-429) Then spake a counsellor of the king, wise of heart and prudent of speech: "This is some marvel which we behold with our eyes. Bethink thee now, my lord, of what is fitting. Know who it is hath showed this grace upon the youths. They worship One Eternal God, and call on Him with zeal by every name. With eager words they praise His Majesty, and say that He alone is God Almighty, Wise King of glory, of earth and heaven. Call these men forth from out the furnace, prince of the Chaldeans! In no wise is it well that they should linger in that torture longer than thou hast need."
(ll. 430-439) Then the king bade the young men come before him. Boldly the noble youths obeyed His word and came as they were bidden. The young men rose and went before the heathen king. Their fetters were burned away and the bonds of the king which were laid upon them, but their bodies were saved from harm. For their beauty was no wise injured, nor was any harm come upon their garments, nor their hair singed by the fire, but in God's protection they came forth gladly from that gruesome horror, wise of heart and favoured by the Holy Ghost.
(ll. 440-457) Then the angel, a faithful servant to the Holy Lord, departed up to seek eternal bliss on the high roof of the heavenly kingdom. And by that marvel he had honoured those who had deserved it. The young men praised the Lord before the heathen host, exhorting them with words of truth, rehearsing many truthful tokens before the king, until he too believed this was a God of wonders who freed them from the darkness. And the mighty lord of Babylon, the haughty king, decreed among his people that he was guilty unto death whoso denied this was a glorious God of might who freed them from that death. He gave back unto God the remnants of His captive people and granted favour to his olden foes. And their prosperity in Babylon was great and their fame was known throughout the nation, after they endured that trial by fire, and obeyed their Lord. Mighty were their counsels after God, the Holy Warden of the heavenly kingdom, had shielded them from harm.
(ll. 458-471) Then, as I have heard, when the lord of Babylon perceived the marvel that was come to pass within the flames, he was fain to know how the youths had passed through the blaze of fire, and overwon the terror of the heated furnace and the flames, so that the fury of the burning brands and raging furnace had wrought God's prophets naught of harm, but His defence had shielded them against that fearful peril. And the prince commanded a council, and summoned his people, and there, before the multitude so gathered, rehearsed the event as it had come to pass, and the miracle of God made known upon the youths:
(ll. 472-485) "Consider now the holy might and wondrous works of God. We saw how He shielded the young men in the furnace from death and the leaping flames, because they served Him. He only is the Lord, Eternal and Almighty, who gives them glory and abundant weal who preach His gospel. And He reveals Himself by many a wonder to holy hearts who seek His favour. It is well known that Daniel showed me the interpretation of a secret dream, which formerly perplexed the minds of many men among my people, because Almighty God had given him an understanding spirit in his heart, and strength of wisdom."
(ll. 486-494) So spake the leader of the host, the lord of Babylon, when he perceived the miracle and God's clear token. And yet he wrought no whit the better; pride ruled the prince. His heart was insolent and the thoughts of his heart were thoughts of pride, more than was meet, until the Lord Almighty humbled him, as He humbleth many who walk with arrogance.
(ll. 495-522) Now a dream came unto Nebuchadnezzar in his sleep and troubled him. It seemed to him that there stood a tree upon the earth, wondrous fair, deeply rooted and gleaming with fruit. Nor was it like to other trees, but it towered unto the stars of heaven, so that it overshadowed the regions of the world and all the earth with its boughs and branches, even unto the shores of the sea. And as he gazed it seemed to him that the tree made shelter for the wild beasts, and that it held food for them all, and likewise that the birds of the air found sustenance in the fruit of the tree. And it seemed to him that an angel descended from the heavens, and spake with a loud voice, commanding the tree to be cut down, and the wild beasts and the birds to flee away, when its fall should come. And he bade that its fruit be cut off and its branches and boughs, but that the roots of the tree should abide fast in the earth as a token, until green shoots should spring again when God granted. And he bade bind the mighty tree with brazen fetters and fetters of iron, and thus bound cast it into torment, that his heart might know that a mightier than he had power of correction, against whom he might not prevail.
(ll. 523-537) Then the earthly king awoke from his slumber, and his dream was ended. But fear of it was upon him, and terror of the vision which God had sent him. And the haughty king bade summon his people together, and the leaders of the people, and asked them all the import of his dream, in no wise thinking that they knew; but he made trial of them how they would answer. Then Daniel, the prophet of God, was called unto judgment, and the Holy Ghost was sent to him from heaven to strengthen his heart. In him the lord of men perceived an understanding spirit and depth of counsel, strength of wisdom, words of judgment. And once again he showed forth many a wonder, the mighty works of God, before the eyes of men.
(ll. 538-550) Then the proud, heathen leader of the host began to tell his fearful dream, and all the horror of the vision that had vexed him, and bade him tell the import of this secret thing, bidding him speak in holy words and search his heart to tell with truth the meaning of the tree which he saw gleaming, and declare to him the decrees of fate. Then he fell silent. Yet Daniel clearly saw in the assembly that his prince, the lord of men, was guilty before God. The prophet paused; then God's herald, skilled in the law, made answer to the king:
(ll. 551-579) "This, O prince of men, is no little wonder, which thou hast seen in thy dream, a tree as high as heaven, and the holy words, wrathful and full of terror, which the angel spake—that the tree should be stripped of its branches and fall, where formerly it stood fast, lying joyless with the beasts, abiding in a desert place, its roots to remain fast in the earth in stillness for a season where it stood, as the Voice declared, and then after seven years to receive increase again! So shall thy fortune be brought low! As the tree grew high unto heaven so art thou lord and ruler over all the dwellers of earth, and there is none on earth to withstand thee save God alone. He shall cut thee off from thy kingdom and drive thee into exile without friends, and thy heart shall be changed so that there shall be no thought in thy heart of worldly joys, nor any reason in thy mind save the ways of the wild beasts, but thou shalt live a long time in the forest ranging with the deer. Thou shalt have no food save the grass of the field, nor any fixed abiding-place, but the showers of rain shall drench thee and harass thee even as the wild beasts, until after seven winters thou shalt believe there is One God for all mankind, a Lord and Ruler dwelling in the heavens.
(ll. 580-592) "Yet is it pleasing unto me that the roots remained fixed in the earth, as the Voice declared, and after seven seasons received increase. So shall thy kingdom stand unharmed of men until thou come again. Take now, my lord, firm counsel in thy heart; give alms; defend the needy, and make atonement before God, ere yet the hour cometh when He shall drive thee from thine earthly kingdom. Oft for many peoples God abateth pain and woe, if they but earnestly repent them of their sins, ere His avenging wrath, with fatal doom, hath laid them low."
(ll. 593-597) But Daniel was not able to speak these many words of truth, with craft of wisdom, to his lord, so that the mighty ruler of the world would heed; but pride ruled his heart. And bitter was his atonement!
(ll. 598-607) And as the king of the Chaldeans ruled his realm, and beheld the city of Babylon in its prosperity towering up to heaven, the city which the prince had built with many a wonder for his people, and the fields of the Shinarites wide-stretching round about, then the king began to utter boastful words. He became perverse and arrogant of heart, beyond all men, because of the special gifts which God had given him, a mighty kingdom and the world to rule in the life of men:
(ll. 608-611) "Thou art the mighty city, famed afar, which I have builded to my honour, a spacious kingdom. I will have rest in thee, a dwelling and a home."
(ll. 612-621) Then the lord of men was smitten for his boasting, and driven into exile, arrogant of heart beyond all men. Even as in the days of strife, when God's swift wrath and anger smote him from the heavens, Nebuchadnezzar trod the bitterest path unto God's vengeance that ever living men have trod. Seven winters together the king of that fair city suffered torment, a desert-life with beasts.
(ll. 622-639) Then the wretched man, companion of the beasts, looked up through the flying clouds; and he knew in his heart that there was a Lord and King of heaven, and one Eternal Spirit ruling over the sons of men. And he was recovered from the madness which long had been upon him, vexing the heart and soul of the king. His heart was turned again unto men and his mind unto thoughts of God, after he came to know Him. And the wretched man rose up and came again among men, a naked wanderer acknowledging his sin, a strange exile without clothing, and of humbler heart than the lord of men had been in his boasting. Behind its lord the world had stood, behind the prince his home and native land, unchanged for seven winters together, so that his kingdom had not lessened under heaven until its ruler came again.
(ll. 640-656) Then was the lord of Babylon once more seated upon his throne; he had a better heart, a clearer faith in the Lord of life, knowing that God dealeth unto every man weal or woe as He desireth. The lord of nations was not slow to heed the counsels of his wise men, but far and wide rehearsed the might of God, where he had power of proclamation. He told his people of his wanderings, his far journeys with the beasts, until the spirit of the Lord God came upon him and thoughts of wisdom, when he looked up to heaven. Fate was fulfilled, the wonder come to pass, the dream come true, the punishment endured, the doom awarded, even as Daniel said aforetime that the king would suffer downfall for his pride, and earnestly proclaimed it before men, by the might of God.
(ll. 657-674) Then for a long time Daniel gave judgment and counsel in Babylon unto the city-dwellers. And after Nebuchadnezzar, comrade and companion of the wild beasts, returned from his wandering exile, the prince of the Chaldeans, the wise and mighty leader of the folk, ruled his spacious kingdom, guarding his treasure and the lofty city, until death came upon him. And there was no man to withstand him upon earth till God through death took his high kingdom from him. Thereafter his descendants prospered greatly in that mighty stronghold, in the city of earls, enjoying wealth and twisted gold, a mighty treasure, when their lord lay dead.
(ll. 675-685) And after him among that people arose a third generation, and Belshazzar ruled the city and the kingdom until his heart grew great with insolence and hateful pride. And the Chaldean rule was ended! For the Lord bestowed the kingdom upon the Medes and Persians for a space of time, and let the might of Babylon diminish, which the heroes should have held. But He knew that they were sinful men who would have ruled the realm.
(ll. 686-702) The lord of the Medes, as he sat in his stronghold, resolved on that which none had done before him, that he would lay waste Babylon, the city of earls, where the princes within the walls dispensed the treasure. Now the city of Babylon was the most famous of all the fortresses of men, the mightiest and most widely known of all that men inhabit, until Belshazzar in his boasting tempted God. They sat at wine within their walls, fearing not the hate of any foe, though a hostile folk with mighty hosts in armour were coming up against them, even against the city of Babylon to destroy it. And the Chaldean king and his kinsmen sat feasting on the last day.
(ll. 703-711) Now when the leader of the host was drunk with wine he bade them bring the treasure of Israel, the holy vessels of the sacrifice, and the gold which the Chaldean warriors and their legions had captured in Jerusalem, when they destroyed the might of Judah with the sword, boasting exceedingly, with tumult seizing on the kindly folk and gleaming treasure, as they plundered the temple and the shrine of Solomon.
(ll. 712-726) Then was the lord of cities blithe in his heart, boasting fiercely and defying God, and said his gods were mightier to save, and greater, than the Eternal Lord of Israel. But, as he gazed, there came a dreadful token before men within the hall, that he had spoken a lie before his people. The hand of an angel of God appeared within the lofty hall, a sight of terror, and wrote before the eyes of men upon the wall in scarlet letters and words of mystery. Then the heart of the king was troubled within him and sore afraid because of the sign; within the hall he beheld the hand of an angel writing the doom of the Shinarites.
(ll. 727-736) But the multitude, the host within the hall, debated what the hand had written for a sign to the city-dwellers. And many came to see the wonder. They searched the thoughts of their hearts to know what the hand of the angel had written. Nor could the nobles and magicians read the angel's message till Daniel, wise and righteous, loved of God, came to the hall. And his heart was filled with wisdom sent from God.
(ll. 737-742) Then, as I have heard, the city-dwellers sought to tempt Daniel with gifts to read the writing and tell the import of the mystery. But the prophet of God, skilled in the law and wise of heart, made answer to them:
(ll. 743-765) "Not for gain do I pronounce God's judgments to the people, nor of mine own strength, but freely will I tell thy fate, and the meaning of the words thou shalt not change. In thine insolence thou hast given into the hands of men the vessels of the sacrifice, and in them drunk to devils, which formerly the Israelites employed in holy rites before the ark of God, till pride seduced them and drunken thoughts. So shall it be with thee! Never would thy lord before thee lay hands of insolence upon God's golden vessels, nor boast thereof, although it was his legions that plundered Israel's treasure. But after the Lord of glory showed forth His wonders upon him, the lord of nations often spake before his people in words of truth, and said that He alone was Lord and Ruler of creation who gave him blameless glory in his earthly kingdom and great prosperity. But thou deniest that He is the Living God who ruleth over devils..."
((LACUNA of indeterminate length))
CHRIST AND SATAN
THE LAMENT OF THE FALLEN ANGELS
(ll. 1-18) It is revealed to those who dwell on earth that God had strength and power when He wrought the borders of the world. By His wondrous might He established the sun and moon, the rocks and earth and the oceanstream, water and clouds. By His strength the Lord upholdeth all the deep expanse, and middle-earth. The Son of God beholdeth from the heavens the sea and its foundations: He numbereth every drop of the showers of rain. By His wondrous power He hath ordained the number of the days. Even so in six days, by His spirit's might, the Lord in heaven devised the valleys of the world and the high hills, and founded them. Who is there that clearly knoweth all that mighty work except Eternal God?
(ll. 19-33) Joys He dealeth out and riches. He first created Adam, and a noble race, the angel princes, which later perished utterly. For, it seemed to them in their hearts it well might be that they themselves were lords of heaven, princes of glory. Then a worse fate befell them, and they went to find a home in hell, the foul abyss, where they must needs endure grim woe and surging flame, no more possessing radiance of glory or high-built halls in heaven; but they must needs plunge downward to those depths of fiery flame, down to the bottomless abyss, insatiate and rapacious. God only knoweth how He hath condemned that guilty host.