Then the officials and all the people said to the priests and to the prophets, "This man does not deserve to die, for he has spoken to us in the name of Jehovah our God." Certain of the elders of the land rose and said to the assembly of the people, "Micah prophesied in the days when Hezekiah ruled over Judah, and said to the people of Judah, 'Jehovah of hosts says:
"Zion shall be ploughed as a field, Jerusalem shall become a ruin, The temple-mount an overgrown hill."'
"Did Hezekiah and the people of Judah put him to death? Did they not rather fear Jehovah and ask him to forgive them, so that he did not do the evil things that he had threatened to do to them? But we are in danger of doing great harm to ourselves?"
THE SAD FATE OF A GUILTY NATION
Jerusalem was taken in the eleventh year of the rule of Zedekiah, on the ninth day of the fourth month. An opening was made through the walls, and all the princes of the king of Babylon came and sat in the middle gate. When Zedekiah, the ruler of Judah, and all the warriors saw them, they fled and left the city by night by the way of the royal garden, through the gate between the two walls, and went out toward the Arabah. But the army of the Chaldeans followed them and captured Zedekiah on the plains of Jericho. Then they brought him up to Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon, who was then at Riblah in the land of Hamath. And the king of Babylon killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. And the king of Babylon put to death all the nobles of Judah. Moreover, he put out Zedekiah's eyes and bound him in chains to carry him to Babylon.
In the nineteenth year of the reign of Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan, the commander of the body-guard, an officer of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He burned the temple of Jehovah and the royal palace and all the houses in Jerusalem. All the soldiers of the Chaldeans, who were with the commander of the body-guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem. The rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had gone over to the king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan carried away captive. But he left some of the poorest of the people to take care of the vineyards and farms.
The pillars of brass that were in the temple of Jehovah, and the stands and the bronze sea that were in the temple of Jehovah the Chaldeans broke in pieces and carried the brass from them to Babylon. Also the pots, the shovels, the snuffers, the bowls, and all the vessels of brass, with which sacrifices were offered in the temple, they took away. The fire-pans and the basins of silver and of gold, the commander of the body-guard also melted and took away.
The commander of the body-guard carried away Seraiah, the chief priest and Zephaniah, the second priest, and the three doorkeepers and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. And the king of Babylon put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So the people of Judah were carried away captive from their own homeland.
Nebuchadrezzar made Gedaliah, the grandson of Shaphan, governor over the people he had left in the land of Judah.
Now Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon, had given this command about Jeremiah to Nebuzaradan, the commander of the body-guard, "Take good care of him, and do him no harm; but do to him as he shall tell you." So Nebuzaradan, the commander of the body-guard, said to him, "See, I release you this day from the chains which are upon your hand. If it seems best to you to come with me to Babylon, come, and I will look out for you. But if you do not wish to come with me to Babylon, do not come; go back to Gedaliah, whom the king of Babylon has made governor over the cities of Judah, and live with him among the people, or go wherever it seems right for you to go." So the commander of the body-guard gave Jeremiah food and a present, and sent him away. Then Jeremiah went to Gedaliah, who was at Mizpah, and lived with him among the people who were left in the land.
THE COURAGE OF FOUR CAPTIVES
Nebuchadrezzar, the king of Babylon, commanded Ashpenaz, the chief of his servants, to bring to him certain of the Israelites and some of their princes and nobles. They were to be young men who were strong and handsome, well taught and quick to learn and able to serve in the king's palace. And they were to be taught the learning and the language of the Chaldeans. The king gave to them each day some of his rich food and some of the wine which he drank. He also commanded that they should be taught for three years, and that at the end of that time they should enter the royal service.
Among these young men were: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; but the chief of the king's servants gave other names to them. To Daniel he gave the name Belteshazzar, and to Hananiah, Shadrach, and to Mishael, Meshach, and to Azariah, Abednego.
But Daniel made up his mind not to injure himself with the rich food of the king nor with the wine which he drank. So he asked the chief of the king's servants not to make him injure himself. And God helped Daniel to win the kindness and favor of the chief of the king's servants.
But the chief of the king's servants said to Daniel, "I fear that my lord, the king, who has given you your food and your drink will see that your faces are sadder than those of young men who are your own age, and so you will endanger my head with the king."
Daniel said to the guardian whom the chief of the king's servants had put over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, "Try your servants ten days; and let us have vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare the way we look with that of the young men who eat of the king's rich food. Then do to us as seems best." So he did as they asked and tried them ten days. At the end of ten days they looked better and they were fatter than all the young men who ate of the king's rich food. So the guardian took away their rich food and the wine and gave them vegetables.
To these four young men God gave knowledge, learning, and wisdom; and Daniel understood all kinds of visions and dreams.
At the end of the days which the king had fixed for bringing them in, the chief of his servants brought them in to Nebuchadrezzar, and the king talked with them. But not one of all the young men was found equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So they began to serve the king. On every subject which called for wisdom and understanding and about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the wise men and magicians who were in his entire kingdom.
A KING'S STRANGE DREAM
Nebuchadrezzar in the second year of his reign had dreams, and his mind was so troubled that he could not sleep. Then the king sent for the magicians and the wise men, and those who studied the stars to tell him what his dreams meant. So they came in before the king, and he said to them, "I have had a dream and my mind is troubled, for I want to know what the dream means."
Then those who studied the stars said to the king: "O king, live forever! Tell the dream to your servants and we will tell you what it means." The king answered, "What I now say is certain: if you do not tell me the dream and what it means, you shall be torn limb from limb and your houses shall be made ash-heaps. But if you tell the dream and what it means, you shall receive from me gifts and rewards and great honors; therefore tell me the dream and what it means." They answered the second time, "Let the king tell the dream to his servants, and we will tell what it means." The king replied, "I see clearly that you wish to gain time, for you know that what I have said is certain, and that if you do not tell the dream to me, you will all suffer the same punishment. So you have planned to speak lying and false words before me, until the time when it is to happen has passed. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can tell me what it means." The Chaldeans answered the king, "There is no man on earth who can do what the king asks, for no king, however great and powerful, has ever asked such a thing of any wise man or magician, or of one who studies the stars. What the king asks is too hard. There is no one else who can tell it to the king, except the gods, who do not live with men." This made the king very angry and he ordered all the wise men of Babylon put to death.
So the command was given that the wise men were to be put to death. And search was made for Daniel and his friends that they too might be put to death. Then Daniel spoke wisely, to Arioch, the captain of the king's guard, who had gone out to put the wise men of Babylon to death, and said, "Why is the king's command so harsh?" When Arioch told Daniel the facts, he went to the king and asked that he give him time to tell what the dream meant.
Then Daniel went to his house and told the facts to his friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, that they might ask the God of heaven to be kind to them and to tell Daniel this secret, so that they might not die with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then the secret was told to Daniel in a vision at night, and he praised the God of heaven and said:
"Blessed be the name of God From everlasting to everlasting! For wisdom and power are his. He gives wisdom to the wise, And knowledge to those who have insight. He shows the deep, secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light of truth dwells in him. I give thee thanks and praise, For thou givest me wisdom and strength, And hast made known the things we asked; Thou hast made known to us the king's secret!"
Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had commanded to kill the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, "Do not kill the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will tell him what his dream means."
Then Arioch quickly brought Daniel to the king and said to him, "I have found a man among the captives from Judah who will tell you what this dream means." The king said to Daniel (whose name was Belteshazzar), "Can you make known to me the dream which I have had and what it means?" Daniel answered, "The secret which the king asks is something that neither wise men, magicians, nor those who study the stars can make known to him; but there is a God in heaven who tells secrets, and he has made known to King Nebuchadrezzar what shall come in the future. Your dream and the visions which you had as you lay asleep are these: You, O king, had a vision and saw a great image. That image was large and it was exceedingly bright as it stood before you, and its appearance was terrible. The head of the image was of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its body and its thighs of brass, its legs of iron, its feet part of iron and part of clay. You looked at it until a stone was cut out, not by the hands of men, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold were all broken in pieces and became like the chaff which blows from the summer threshing-floors, and the wind carried them away so that nothing was left of them. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the earth.
"This is the dream, and we will tell the king what it means: O king, you are the king of kings to whom God has given the rule, the power, the strength, and the glory. Over the whole world he has given into your power, men, the wild beasts and the birds, and has made you rule over them all. You are the head of gold.
"After you shall rise another kingdom not so strong as you are, and a third kingdom of brass, which shall rule over the whole earth. A fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron, for iron breaks in pieces and shatters all things, and like iron which crushes, it shall break in pieces and crush all things. As you saw the feet and toes, part clay and part iron, it shall be a divided kingdom; but there shall be in it some of the strength of the iron, for you saw the iron mixed with clay. As the toes of the feet were part iron and part clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly broken. You saw the iron mixed with clay, for the rulers will marry one another, but they will not stick together, even as iron does not stick to clay.
"During the reigns of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the power be left to another people; but it shall break in pieces and destroy all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. This is shown by the fact that you saw a stone cut out of the mountain, but not with the hands of men. And it broke in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold.
"The great God has made known to the king what is to come, and the dream is real and this meaning true."
Then King Nebuchadrezzar fell upon his face and worshipped Daniel, and ordered that a sacrifice and sweet odors should be offered to him. The king also said to Daniel, "Your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings, and one who tells his secrets to his servant, for you have been able to tell this great secret." Then the king gave Daniel a high position and many costly gifts, and made him ruler over all of Babylon and chief over all the wise men in Babylon. And at Daniel's request the king placed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in charge of the province of Babylon; but Daniel stayed in the king's court.
THE TEST BY FIRE
Nebuchadrezzar, the king, made an image of gold ninety feet high and nine feet wide. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. Then he sent for the officers, the governors, the judges, the treasurers, and all the rulers of the provinces. So they all came together and stood before the image that Nebuchadrezzar had set up.
Then the herald cried aloud, "To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations: 'The moment you hear the sound of the trumpet, flute, lute, harp, bagpipe, and all kinds of musical instruments, you shall fall down and worship the golden image. Whoever does not fall down and worship shall be thrown into a burning, fiery furnace.'" So when all the people heard the sound of the trumpet, flute, lute, harp, bagpipe, and all kinds of musical instruments, all the peoples, nations, and races fell down and worshipped the golden image that King Nebuchadrezzar had set up.
But at that time certain Chaldeans came near to the king and made this charge against the Jews: "O king, live forever! O king, you have commanded that every man who hears the sound of the trumpet, flute, lute, harp, bagpipe, and all kinds of musical instruments shall fall down and worship the golden image, and that whoever does not fall down and worship shall be thrown into a burning, fiery furnace. There are certain Jews, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, whom you have placed in charge of the province of Babylon. These men, O king, have not obeyed your command; they do not serve your gods nor worship the golden image which you have set up."
Then Nebuchadrezzar in his rage and fury gave command to bring in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. When they were brought before the king, Nebuchadrezzar said to them, "Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my god nor worship the golden image which I have set up? If you are now ready, as soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, flute, lute, harp, bagpipe, and all kinds of musical instruments, to fall down and worship the image which I have made, well; but if you do not worship, you shall at once be thrown into a burning, fiery furnace. Where is there a god who can deliver you out of my hands?" Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, "O king, there is no need of our answering you about this. Our God whom we serve is able to save us from the burning, fiery furnace; he will save us out of your hand, O king. But if not, know, O king, that we will not serve your gods nor worship the golden image which you have set up."
Then Nebuchadrezzar was very angry and the appearance of his face changed, as he looked at Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered that the furnace should be heated seven times hotter than usual. He also commanded certain strong men who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and throw them into the burning, fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their robes, and their other garments, and were thrown into the burning, fiery furnace. As the king's command was urgent and the furnace very hot, the flames destroyed the men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down, bound, into the midst of the burning, fiery furnace.
Nebuchadrezzar, the king, was so astonished that he rose up hastily and said to his counsellors, "Did we not throw three men, bound, into the fire?" They answered, "True, O king." He said, "Now I see four men, unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are unhurt, and the fourth looks like an angel."
Then Nebuchadrezzar went near the door of the burning, fiery furnace and said, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out." Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire. And the officers, governors, and counsellors who were there saw that the fire had no power over the bodies of these men, and that the hair of their heads was not singed and that their cloaks were not harmed, and that there was no smell of fire. And Nebuchadrezzar said, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel to save his servants who trusted in him and refused to obey the king's command and have offered their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god except their own. Therefore I command that every people, nation, and race that shall say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be cut in pieces and their house shall be made an ash-heap, for there is no other god who is so able to save as is this one." Then the king gave high positions, in the province of Babylon, to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL
Belshazzar, the king, made a great feast for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine before them all. Under the influence of wine, he gave command to bring the gold and silver utensils which his father, Nebuchadrezzar, had taken from the temple at Jerusalem, that the king, his nobles, his wives, and the others of his household might drink from them. So they brought the golden vessels which were taken from the temple of God which was at Jerusalem. And the king, his nobles, his wives, and the others of his household drank from them. They drank wine and praised the gods of gold, of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.
At that moment the fingers of a man's hand appeared and wrote opposite the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king's palace; and the king saw the palm of the hand that wrote.
Then the king grew pale, and his thoughts troubled him, his legs trembled and his knees knocked together. The king called for the magicians and those who study the stars and said to the wise men of Babylon, "Whoever shall read this writing and tell what it means shall be clothed in purple and have a chain of gold about his neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom." Then all the king's wise men came in, but they could not read the writing nor tell the king what it meant. So King Belshazzar was greatly troubled, and his face grew pale, and his nobles were thrown into confusion.
Now the queen, because of what the king and his nobles had said, came into the banquet-house and said, "O king, live forever; let not your thoughts trouble you nor let yourself grow pale. There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods, and in the days of your father he was found to have light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods. Now let Daniel be called, and he will tell what it means."
So Daniel was brought in before the king, and the king said to him, "Are you that Daniel, one of the men who were carried away captive, whom the king, my father, brought from Judah? I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that you have understanding and great wisdom. The wise men and the magicians have been brought in before me to read this writing and to tell what it means; but they are not able. I have heard that you can tell what dreams mean and answer hard questions. Now if you can read the writing and tell what it means, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold about your neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom."
Then Daniel answered the king, "Keep your gifts and give your rewards to another. Without them I will read the writing to the king, and tell what it means. O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadrezzar, your father, the kingdom and power, glory and majesty. Because of the power that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and races trembled and feared him. He killed or kept alive as he wished; and he raised up or put down whom he pleased. But when he became proud and haughty, he was made to come down from his kingly throne and his glory was taken from him, and he was driven away from men, and his mind became like that of the beasts, and he lived with the wild asses; he was fed with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until he learned that the Most High God rules over the kingdom of men and that he sets up over it whom he will.
"But you, his son, O Belshazzar, have not been humble, though you knew all this, but you have raised yourself against the Lord of heaven, and have had the utensils of his temple brought before you, and you, your nobles, your wives, and the others of your household have drunk wine from them. You have given praise to the gods of silver, of gold, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone, which cannot see nor hear nor know; and you have not praised the God in whose control are your very breath and all that you do."
"Then the hand was sent out before him and traced this writing:
MENE, TEKEL, PERES
"This is what it means: Mene: God has numbered your kingdom and brought it to an end. Tekel: you are weighed in the scales and found wanting. Peres: your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians."
Then at Belshazzar's command Daniel was clothed with purple and a chain of gold was put about his neck, and he was proclaimed the third ruler in the kingdom. But on that very night Belshazzar, the Chaldean king, was killed, and Darius, the Mede, received the kingdom.
DANIEL IN THE LIONS' DEN
It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom a hundred and twenty officers who ruled the whole kingdom, and over them three chief officials, of whom Daniel was one, that these officers might report to them and that the king should lose nothing. Daniel was better than the other chief officials and the officers, for he had a fine spirit; and the king intended to set him over the whole empire.
Then the chief officials and the officers tried to find a way to accuse Daniel of not having done his duty, but they could not find anything against him, for he was faithful and was not guilty of any mistake or wrong-doing.
Then these men said, "We shall not find any way to accuse this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God." So these chief officials and officers all went to the king, and said to him, "King Darius, live forever. All the chief officials of the kingdom, the counsellors and the officers, the judges and the governors, have consulted together to have the king make a law and give a strong command that whoever shall ask a petition of any god or man for thirty days, except of you, O king, shall be thrown into a den of lions. Now, O king, give the command and sign the law that, like the law of the Medes and Persians, it may not be changed." So King Darius signed the law and the command.
When Daniel knew that the law was signed, he went into his house. His windows were open in his room toward Jerusalem, and he knelt upon his knees three times a day and prayed, and gave thanks to his God as he had done before. Then these men rushed in and found Daniel praying and calling upon his God. So they went before the king and spoke to him about the royal command: "Have you not signed a command, that every man who shall ask a petition of any man or god within thirty days, except of you, O king, shall be thrown into the den of lions?" The king answered, "The rule is fixed according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be changed." Then they went on to say to the king, "That Daniel, who is one of the captives from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, nor to the command that you have signed, but prays three times a day."
When the king heard these words, he was greatly displeased, and set his heart on saving Daniel, and he worked until the sun set to save him. Then these men all went to the king and said to him, "Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians, that no command nor law which the king gives may be changed."
So the king gave his command, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the den of lions. But the king said to Daniel, "Your God, whom you always serve, will save you." Then a stone was brought and laid at the entrance to the den; and the king sealed it with his own seal-ring and with those of his nobles, that no change might be made so as to rescue Daniel. Then the king went to his palace and passed the night fasting.
At dawn, as soon as it was light, the king rose and hurried to the den of lions. When he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried with a very sad voice, "O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you always serve, been able to save you from the lions?" Daniel said to the king, "O king, live forever. My God has sent his angel and has closed the lions' mouths, and they have not hurt me, for I was innocent before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no wrong." Then the king was very glad and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and it was found that he was not injured, for he had trusted in his God.
Then the king commanded that those men who had accused Daniel should be brought and thrown into the den of lions.
And King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and races in all his kingdom, "May your peace be great! I make a law that throughout all my kingdom, men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel; for he is the living God, and is the same forever, and his kingdom is one that shall not be destroyed; and his rule shall be without end. He saves and rescues, and does wonderful things in heaven and earth; it is he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions." So Daniel was successful and happy during the reign of Darius.
QUEEN ESTHER'S LOVE FOR HER PEOPLE
After Xerxes had been king of Persia for three years, he gave a feast for all his officials, officers, and servants. The commanders of the armies of Persia and Media, the nobles and governors were before him; while for one hundred and eighty days he showed them the wonderful riches of his kingdom and the costliness of his magnificent regalia.
When these days were ended, the king made a seven days' feast in the enclosed garden of the royal palace, for all classes of people who were in the royal palace at Susa. Vashti, the queen, also gave a feast for the women in the royal palace which belonged to King Xerxes.
On the seventh day, when King Xerxes had been drinking wine, he commanded his seven court attendants to bring Vashti, the queen, before him with the royal crown on her head, to show the peoples and the officials her beauty, for she was very fair. But Queen Vashti refused to come as the king commanded. Therefore the king was very angry.
In his anger the king said to the wise men, "According to law what shall we do to Queen Vashti?" Memucan, one of the seven high officials, said before the king and his officers, "Vashti, the queen, has done wrong not only to the king but also to all the officials and to all the peoples in all of the king's provinces. For the refusal of the queen will be reported to all the women so that they will disobey their husbands, for they will say, 'King Xerxes commanded Vashti, the queen, to be brought in before him, but she did not come!' And this very day the ladies of Persia and Media who have heard of the refusal of the queen will tell it to all the king's officials, and there will be contempt and strife! If it seems best to the king, let him send out a royal command, and let it be written among the laws of Persia and Media, in order that it may not be changed, that Vashti may never again come before King Xerxes; and let the king give her place as queen to another who is better than she. And when the king's command shall be heard throughout his kingdom—great as it is—the wives of all classes will give honor to their husbands!"
The plan pleased the king and the officials, and the king did as Memucan advised. Then the king's pages who waited upon him said, "Let beautiful young girls be sought for the king, and let the king appoint officers to all the provinces of his kingdom to gather them all to the palace at Susa. Then give them what is needed to make them beautiful, and let the girl who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti." The plan pleased the king and he did so.
There was in the royal palace at Susa, a certain Jew named Mordecai, who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captives by Nebuchadrezzar, the king of Babylon. He had adopted Esther, his uncle's daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The girl was attractive and beautiful, and after her father and mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.
So when the king's command was made known, and when many girls were brought to the royal palace at Susa, Esther also was taken into the king's palace and placed in the charge of Hegai, who took care of the women. The girl pleased him and won his favor, so that he quickly gave her what she needed to make her more beautiful and her allowance of food and the seven maids chosen from the king's household. He also moved her and her maids to the best place in the women's quarters. Esther had not told who were her people or her family, for Mordecai had told her not to tell. Every day Mordecai used to walk in front of the court of the women's quarters to ask after Esther's health and what had been done with her.
When Esther's turn came to go in to the king, he loved her more than all the other women, and she became his favorite and won his love, so that he placed the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. Then the king gave a great feast to all his officials and servants in honor of Esther.
In those days while Mordecai was sitting in the king's gate, two of the king's servants, who guarded the entrance of the palace, became enraged and tried to kill King Xerxes. But Mordecai learned of the plot and told it to Queen Esther, and she told the king in Mordecai's name. When the truth was known, the men who plotted against the king were both hanged on a tree; and it was written down in the daily record of events that was kept before the king.
After these events King Xerxes promoted Haman, the Agagite, and gave him a place above all the officials who were with him. All the king's servants who were in the king's gate used to bow down before Haman, for so the king had commanded. But Mordecai did not bow down before Haman.
Then the king's servants, who were in the king's gate, said to Mordecai, "Why do you disobey the king's command?" When they had spoken to him day after day without his listening to them, they told Haman, so as to find out whether Mordecai's acts would be permitted, for he had told them that he was a Jew. When Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow down before him, he was very angry; but as they had told him that Mordecai was a Jew, he decided not to lay hands on him alone but to plot to destroy all the Jews in the whole kingdom of Xerxes.
So Haman said to King Xerxes, "There is a certain people scattered among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom, whose laws differ from those of every other and who do not keep the king's laws. Therefore it is not right for the king to leave them alone. If it seems best to the king, let an order be given to destroy them, and I will pay ten thousand silver talents into the royal treasury."
So the king took off his ring from his hand and gave it to Haman, "The money is yours and the people also to do with them as you wish." So messages were sent by men on horses to all the king's provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to put an end to all the Jews, young and old, little children and women, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, and to rob them of all that they had. Then the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the people of Susa were troubled.
When Mordecai learned all that had been done, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and put ashes on his head, and went out into the city and raised a loud and bitter cry of sorrow. And he went as far as the king's gate, for no one could enter the gate clothed with sackcloth. In every province, wherever the king's command went, there was great mourning, fasting, weeping, and wailing among the Jews; and many of them sat in sackcloth and ashes.
When Esther's maids and servants told her about it, she was greatly troubled. She sent garments for Mordecai to put on, that he might take off his sackcloth; but he would not accept them. So Esther called Hathach, one of the king's servants whom he had appointed to wait on her, and ordered him to go to Mordecai to learn what this meant and how it had happened.
So Hathach went to Mordecai at the city square in front of the king's gate. And Mordecai told him all that had happened to him and the exact sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king's treasury. Also he gave him a copy of the order to destroy them, that had been given out in Susa, to show to Esther that she might know about it. He also urged her to go to the king and ask his mercy and plead with him for her people.
When Hathach came and told Esther what Mordecai had said, she commanded Hathach to go and say to Mordecai, "All the king's servants and the people of the king's provinces know that death is the punishment for every man or woman who goes to the king into the inner court without being called, except for the one to whom the king may hold out the golden sceptre, which means that he may live. But now for thirty days I have not been called to go in to the king."
When Mordecai was told what Esther had said, he sent back this answer to Esther, "Do not think that you alone of all the Jews will escape because you belong to the king's household. If you keep silent at this time, help will come to the Jews from somewhere else, but you and your family will perish. Who knows but that you have been raised to the throne for a time like this?"
Then Esther sent this message to Mordecai: "Go, gather all the Jews in Susa and fast for me; do not eat nor drink anything for three days and nights. I and my maids will fast also, and so I will go in to the king, although it is against the law. And if I perish I perish." So Mordecai went away and did as Esther directed.
On the third day, Esther put on her royal garments and stood in the inner court of the royal palace opposite the king's house. The king was sitting on his throne in the palace, opposite the entrance. When he saw Esther, the queen, standing in the court, she won his favor, and he held out to her the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther went up and touched the top of the sceptre. Then the king said to her, "Whatever you wish, Queen Esther, and whatever you ask, it shall be granted, even if it is the half of the kingdom." Esther said, "If it seems best to the king, let the king and Haman come to-day to the feast that I have prepared for him." Then the king said, "Bring Haman quickly, that Esther's wish may be granted."
So the king and Haman went to the feast that Esther had prepared. While they were drinking wine, the king said to Esther, "Whatever you ask shall be granted, even if it takes the half of my kingdom." Esther answered, "If I have won the king's favor and if it seems best to the king to grant what I ask, let the king and Haman come to the feast which I shall prepare for them; and to-morrow I will do as the king wishes."
So Haman went out that day joyful and happy, but when he saw Mordecai in the king's gate and noticed that he neither stood up nor moved for him, he was furiously angry with Mordecai. But Haman controlled his temper and went home. Then he called together his friends and Zeresh, his wife, and told them the greatness of his wealth, how many children he had, and all the ways in which the king had honored him, and how he had given him a place above the officials and the royal servants. Haman said, "Queen Esther brought no one in with the king to the feast which she had prepared but me, and to-morrow also I am invited by her along with the king. Yet all this does not satisfy me as long as I see Mordecai, the Jew, sitting at the king's gate."
Then Zeresh, his wife, and all his friends said to him, "Let a gallows seventy-five feet high be built and in the morning speak to the king and let Mordecai be hanged on it. Then go merrily with the king to the feast." The advice pleased Haman, and so he had the gallows built.
On that night the king was unable to sleep; so he gave orders to bring the books that told of great deeds; and they were read before the king. And it was written how Mordecai had told about the two servants of the king who had tried to kill King Xerxes. Then the king said, "How has Mordecai been honored and rewarded for this?" When the king's pages who waited on him replied, "Nothing has been done for him," the king said, "Who is in the court?" Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king's house to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him. So the king's pages said to him, "Haman is standing there in the court." The king said, "Let him enter."
So Haman entered, and the king said to him, "What shall be done for the man whom the king wishes to honor?" Haman said to himself, "Whom besides me does the king wish to honor?" So Haman said to the king, "For the man whom the king wishes to honor let a royal garment be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse on which the king has ridden and on whose head a royal crown has been placed. Then let the garment and the horse be placed in charge of one of the king's noble officials and let him clothe the man whom the king longs to honor and make him ride on the horse through the city square and proclaim before him, 'This is what is done for the man whom the king wishes to honor.'"
Then the king said to Haman, "Make haste and take the garment and the horse, as you have said, and do thus to Mordecai, the Jew, who sits in the king's gate. Do not fail to do all you have said." So Haman took the garment and the horse and clothed Mordecai, and made him ride through the city square and proclaimed before him, "This is what is done for the man whom the king wishes to honor."
Mordecai returned to the king's gate, but Haman hurried to his house, mourning, with his head covered. And Haman told Zeresh, his wife, and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men and Zeresh, his wife, said to him, "If Mordecai before whom you have already been disgraced is of the Jewish race, you can do nothing against him, but you will surely fall before him."
While they were still talking with him, the king's servants came and quickly took Haman to the feast that Esther had prepared. So the king and Haman went to drink with Queen Esther. And the king said to Esther, as they were drinking wine, "Whatever you ask, Queen Esther, it shall be granted you, even if it takes half of the kingdom." Then Queen Esther answered, "If I have won your favor, O king, and if it seems best to the king, let my life and my people be given me at my request, for I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, to be killed, and to perish!"
The King Xerxes said to Queen Esther, "Who is he and where is he who dares to do so?" Esther answered, "A foe, an enemy, this wicked Haman." Then Haman shrank in terror before the king and the queen, and Harbonah, one of those who waited on the king, said, "There, standing in the house of Haman, are the gallows, seventy-five feet high, which Haman built for Mordecai, who spoke a good word for the king." The king said, "Hang him on them." So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the wrath of the king was quieted.
At that time King Xerxes gave the property of Haman, the Jews' enemy, to Queen Esther. And Mordecai was made one of the king's advisers, for Esther had told of his relationship to her. The king also drew off his signet-ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai; and Esther placed Mordecai in charge of Haman's property.
Then Esther came again before the king and fell at his feet and with tears begged him to prevent the evil that Haman had planned against the Jews. The king held out to her the golden sceptre, and she arose and stood before him. Then King Xerxes said to Queen Esther and to Mordecai, the Jew, "Write in behalf of the Jews, as seems best to you, in the king's name and seal it with the king's ring; for what is written in the king's name and sealed with the king's ring no one may disobey."
So Mordecai wrote in the name of King Xerxes and sealed it with the king's ring. And he sent by messengers, who rode the king's swift horses, mules, and camels, the king's command that the Jews who were in every city should gather together and protect their lives.
The command had also been given out in the royal palace at Susa; and Mordecai had gone out from the presence of the king in royal garments of violet and white and with a great crown of gold and with a robe of fine linen and purple. The people of Susa shouted and were glad. To the Jews there came light and gladness and joy and honor. And in every country and city, where the king's command came, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, and a holiday.
On the fourteenth day of the month Adar, the Jews rested and made it a day of feasting and rejoicing. Therefore the Jews who live in the country villages keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar as a day of rejoicing and feasting and a holiday, and as a day on which they send gifts to one another. But the Jews in Susa rested on the fifteenth day of the same month and made it a day of feasting and rejoicing.
The Jews made it a custom for them, and for their children, and for all who should join them, so that it might not be changed, that they should observe these two days as feasts each year. For Haman had plotted to destroy the Jews completely, and he cast pur, that is, the lot, to destroy them. For this reason these days are called Purim.
REBUILDING THE TEMPLE
That the promise made by Jehovah through the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, Jehovah influenced Cyrus, king of Persia, in the first year of his reign to make this written law throughout all his kingdom, "Thus commands Cyrus, king of Persia: 'Jehovah, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and has charged me to build him a temple in Jerusalem in Judah. Whoever among you of all his people wishes to return, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, in Judah, and rebuild the temple of Jehovah, the God of Israel. (He is the God who lives at Jerusalem.) In every place where any who are left of Jehovah's people now live, let the men of that place help with silver, with gold, with goods, and with animals, in addition to the offering each man wishes to give for the house of God at Jerusalem.'"
Then the heads of the families of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and the Levites, including all whom God had influenced to build the temple of Jehovah at Jerusalem, started to return. And all their neighbors supplied them with silver, with gold, with goods, with animals, and with precious things in addition to all that each man wished to give.
Cyrus, king of Persia, had the vessels of the temple of Jehovah, which Nebuchadrezzar had carried from Jerusalem, brought out under the direction of Mithredath, the treasurer, and given to Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah; and he carried them to Jerusalem, with the people who returned from captivity in Babylon. And Jehovah commanded them, through Haggai, the prophet, "Go up to the mountains and bring wood and rebuild the temple, then I will be pleased with it and I will show my glory."
Then Zerubbabel and Joshua, the high priest, with all the rest of the people obeyed the command of Jehovah their God; and they came and worked on the temple of Jehovah their God. They finished the building as the God of Israel commanded.
NEHEMIAH'S ANSWER TO A CALL FOR HELP
In the twentieth year of Artaxerxes' reign, in the month of November, I (Nehemiah) was in Shushan, the royal palace, when Hanani, one of my brothers, and certain men came from Judah. I asked them about Jerusalem and about the Jews who were left from the captivity. They told me, "Those still living there in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates have been destroyed by fire."
When I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned several days. Then I fasted and offered this prayer to the God of heaven, "I pray thee, O Jehovah, the God of heaven, who showest kindness to those who love and follow thy commands, let thine ears now be open to hear the prayers of thy servant which I am now making before thee day and night for the Israelites, thy servants, while I confess the sins which we have committed. These are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast saved by thy great power and by thy strong hand. O Lord, I pray thee, let thine ear be open to the petition of thy servant and to the petitions of thy servants who take pleasure in worshipping thee, and give success to thy servant this day, and grant that he may win this man's sympathy."
Now I was cupbearer to the king, and in the month of March in the twentieth year of the reign of Artaxerxes, the king, I had charge of the wine offered to the king. Up to this time I had not been sad; so the king said to me, "Why is your face sad, for you are not sick? This is nothing else but sorrow of heart." Then I was greatly afraid, and I said to the king, "Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place where my fathers are buried, lies in ruins and its gates are destroyed by fire?" Then the king said to me, "What do you wish?" So I prayed to the God of heaven and said to the king, "If it please the king and if your servant has won your favor, then send me to Judah, to the city where my fathers lie buried, that I may rebuild it." The king said to me (and the queen was also sitting by him), "How long will your journey take, and when will you return?" Then I told him when I would return, so that the king was willing to let me go.
I also said to the king, "If the king is willing, let letters be given me to the governors of the province west of the Euphrates, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king's park, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the castle which guards the temple and for the wall of the city and for the house in which I shall live." The king granted me all this, for my God kindly cared for me.
Then I went to the governors of the province and gave them the king's letters. The king had sent with me officers and horsemen; and when Sanballat, the Horonite, and Tobiah, the Ammonite slave, heard of it, it troubled them greatly, that one had come to look out for the welfare of the Israelites.
So I arrived at Jerusalem. After I had been there three days I rose in the night, together with a few of my followers. I told no one what my God had put into my mind to do for Jerusalem, and I had no animal with me except the one upon which I rode. I went out by night through the Valley Gate, toward the Dragon's Well and to the Dung Gate; and I examined carefully the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and the places where its gates had been destroyed by fire. Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King's Pool, but there was no place for the animal on which I rode to pass.
I also went up in the night along the Brook Kidron and examined the wall; then I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate and so returned. The rulers did not know where I went or what I did, and I had not as yet told my plan to the Jews or to the priests or to the nobles or to the rulers or to the others who did the work.
Then I said to them, "You see the bad condition in which we are, how Jerusalem lies in ruins and its gates are destroyed by fire. Come and let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be in disgrace." I told them too how my God had kindly cared for me and the words which the king had spoken to me. They said, "Let us go to work and build?" So they entered heartily into the good work.
OVERCOMING GREAT DIFFICULTIES
Now when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he was so angry and indignant that he mocked the Jews. He spoke before his tribesmen and the army of Samaria and said, "What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they leave it to God? Will they offer a sacrifice? Will they finish the work in a day? Will they recover the stones from the heaps of rubbish even after they have been destroyed by fire?"
Tobiah, the Ammonite, was with him, and he said, "This stone wall which they are building—if a fox should go up on it, he would break it down!"
But we went on rebuilding the wall; and all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people were eager to work. But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabians and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem was going on, so that the broken places began to be closed, they were very angry. And they all planned together to come and fight against Jerusalem and frighten the people there. But we prayed to our God and set a watch as a protection against them day and night.
When our enemies heard that their plan was known to us and that God had not let them carry it out, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work. From that time on, while half of my servants were at work, half of them held the lances, the shields, the bows and the coats of mail; and the rulers stood behind all the people of Judah. Those who built the wall and those who carried burdens were also armed, each using one of his hands for the work, and was ready with the other to grasp his spear. And each builder worked with his sword fastened at his side. The man who sounded the alarm was by me; and I said to the nobles and to the rulers and to the rest of the people, "The work is great and spread out, and we on the wall are far from each other. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, gather about us; our God will fight for us."
So we worked hard, while half of them held the lances from early in the morning until the stars came out. And I said at that time to the people, "Let each man with his servant stay in Jerusalem, that they may protect us at night and work during the day." So neither I, nor any of my relatives, nor my servants, nor the men of the guard who accompanied me took off our clothes, but each kept his spear in his right hand.
After fifty-two days the wall was finished. When our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid, and it seemed very wonderful to them, and they knew that this work had been done by our God.
After the wall had been built and I had set up the doors, and the porters and the singers and the Levites had been appointed, I placed my brother Hanani, the commander of the castle, in charge of Jerusalem, for he was a faithful man and more God-fearing than many. And I said to them, "Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until after sunrise; and at night, while the watchmen are still on guard, let them shut the doors and bar them. Also let the people who live in Jerusalem be on guard, each at his post opposite his own house."
Now the city was wide and large, but there were few people in it, and the houses had not been rebuilt. So my God put it into my mind to gather together the nobles and the officials and the people. The officials lived in Jerusalem. The rest of the people drew lots that one out of every ten should live in Jerusalem, the sacred city, while the others stayed in the villages.
Then I had the officials of Judah take their place on the wall, and I formed two great processions. The first marched to the right upon the wall toward the Dung Gate; and behind them went Hoshaiah and half of the officials of Judah. At the Fountain Gate they went straight up the stairs of the City of David by the ascent along the wall above the House of David to the Water Gate on the east of the city.
The other procession went to the left on the wall above the Tower of the Furnaces, and I after them, with half of the people, to the broad wall and above the Gate of Ephraim and past the Old Gate, the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel, and the Tower of the Hundred to the Sheep Gate. Then they stood in the Gate of the Guard. So the two processions took their position in the temple and I and half of the rulers who were with me.
Then the singers sang loudly, and the people offered many sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had given them great cause for joy. The women and children rejoiced, too, so that the cries of joy at Jerusalem were heard far away.
A BRAVE KNIGHT
Then the common people and their wives raised a loud cry against their fellow Jews. Some said, "We must give up our sons and our daughters in pledge to get grain that we may eat and live." Others said, "We must give up our fields and our vineyards and our houses, that we may get grain because there is so little." Others said, "We have borrowed money to pay the king's taxes. Although our flesh is as the flesh of our brothers, our children as their children; yet we must sell our sons and our daughters as slaves. Some of our daughters have already been made slaves, and it is not in our power to stop it, for our fields and our vineyards belong to the nobles."
When I heard their cry and these words, I was very angry. After I had thought about it, I rebuked the nobles and the rulers and said to them, "You make each of your fellow Jews pay what you loan him."
Then I called a great meeting to protest against what they were doing. And I said to them, "We ourselves have, as far as we could, bought back our fellow Jews who have been sold to foreigners. Would you sell your fellow Jews, and should they be sold to us?" Then they were silent and could not find a word to say. So I said, "What you are doing is not good. Ought you not to live in the fear of God, so as not to be an object of shame to our foreign foes? I, too, my relatives, and my servants lend the people money and grain. Let us stop taking anything for what we lend. Give back to them at once their fields, their vineyards, their olive-yards, and their houses, and whatever you have made them pay for the money, the grain, the new wine and the oil."
Then they said, "We will give them back and will ask nothing from them; we will do even as you say." Then I called the priests and made them solemnly promise that they would do as they had said.
For twelve years from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, I and my relatives did not eat the food which was my right as governor. But the governors who were before me were an expense to the people and took from them bread and wine and forty pieces of silver each day. Their servants also were cruel to the people. But I did not do so, for I feared God. I also gave myself to the work on the wall, and we did not buy any land, but all my servants were gathered there for work. Also a hundred and fifty of the Jews and rulers, beside those who came to us from other nations, were fed at my table. Each day one ox and six choice sheep and fowls were prepared at my expense, and once in ten days plenty of wine for all. Yet with all this expense, I did not demand the food which was due me as governor, because the public work was a heavy burden upon this people. Remember to my credit, O my God, all that I have done for them!
JONAH THE NARROW-MINDED PATRIOT
This message from Jehovah came to Jonah, the son of Amittai: "Arise, go to that great city, Nineveh, and preach against it; for their wickedness is known to me." But Jonah started to flee to Tarshish from the presence of Jehovah. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went aboard to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of Jehovah.
But Jehovah made a furious wind blow over the sea, and there was such a great storm that the ship was in danger of breaking to pieces. Then the sailors were afraid and each cried for help to his own god. They threw into the sea the things that were in the ship, in order to make it lighter. But Jonah had gone down into the bottom of the ship and lay fast asleep. Then the captain of the ship went and said to him, "How is it that you are asleep? Call on your god; perhaps that god will think of us, so that we may not be lost."
And they said to one another, "Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us." So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah. Then they said to him, "Tell us, what is your business, and where do you come from? What is your country and to what race do you belong?" He said to them, "I am a Hebrew, and a worshipper of Jehovah, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land." Then the men were greatly frightened and said to him, "What is this you have done?" For they knew that he was fleeing from the presence of Jehovah, because he had told them.
Then they said to him, "What shall we do to you, that the sea may be calm for us?" for the sea grew more and more stormy. He said to them, "Take me up and throw me into the sea, and the sea will be calm for you, for I know that on account of me this great storm has overtaken you." But the men rowed hard to get back to the land; they could not, however, for the sea grew more and more stormy ahead.
Therefore they cried to Jehovah and said, "We pray thee, O Jehovah, we pray thee, let us not die for this man's life, nor let us be guilty of shedding innocent blood, for thou art Jehovah; thou hast done as it pleases thee." So they took up Jonah, and threw him into the sea; and the sea became calm. Then the men greatly feared Jehovah, and they offered a sacrifice and made promises to him.
But Jehovah prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights. There Jonah prayed to Jehovah his God; and Jehovah spoke to the fish, and it threw Jonah out upon the dry land.
This message from Jehovah came to Jonah the second time, "Arise, go to that great city, Nineveh, and give to it the message that I tell you." So Jonah started for Nineveh, as Jehovah commanded. Now Nineveh was so large a city, that it took three days' journey to cross it. And Jonah began by going through the city a day's journey, and he said, "Forty days more and Nineveh shall be overthrown."
And the people of Nineveh believed God; and they ordered a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. And when word came to the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his robe, dressed in sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he gave this order: "By the order of the king and his nobles: Man, beast, herd, and flock shall not taste anything; let them not eat nor drink water. Let both man and beast put on sackcloth and let them cry earnestly to God; let them turn each from his evil way and from the deeds of violence which they are doing. Who knows but God may be sorry for us and turn away his fierce anger, that we may not die."
When God saw that they turned from their evil way, he was sorry for the evil which he said he would do to them, and did not do it.
But this displeased Jonah very much and he was angry. And he prayed to Jehovah and said, "Ah, Jehovah, was not this what I said when I was still in my own country? That was why I fled at once to Tarshish; for I knew that thou art a God, gracious and merciful, patient, and loving and ready to forgive. Therefore, O Jehovah, take now, I beg of thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live!" But Jehovah said, "Are you doing right in being angry?"
Then Jonah went out of the city and sat down on the east side, and there made a hut for himself and sat under it, until he might see what would become of the city. And Jehovah prepared a gourd and made it grow up over Jonah as a shade for his head. So the gourd gave Jonah great pleasure; but at dawn the next day God prepared a worm which injured the gourd, so that it wilted. And when the sun rose, God prepared a hot east wind. And the sun beat upon Jonah's head, so that he was faint and begged that he might die, saying, "It is better for me to die than to live." But God said to Jonah, "Are you doing right in being angry about the gourd?" He replied, "It is well for one to be angry, even to death!" Jehovah said, "You care for a gourd which has cost you no trouble and which you have not made grow, which came up in a night and wilted in a night. Should I not care for the great city Nineveh, in which there are one hundred and twenty thousand people who do not know their right hand from their left; besides much cattle?"
THE STORY OF JOB
In the land of Uz there lived a man named Job; and he was blameless and upright, one who revered God and avoided evil. He had seven sons and three daughters. He owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred asses; and he had many servants, so that he was the richest man among all the peoples of the East.
One day when the sons of God came before Jehovah, Satan came with them. Jehovah said to Satan, "From where do you come?" Satan answered, "From going back and forth on the earth, and walking up and down on it." And Jehovah said to Satan, "Have you seen my servant Job? For there is no man like him on the earth, blameless and upright, who reveres God and avoids evil." Satan answered, "But is it for nothing that Job reveres God? Have you not yourself made a hedge all about him, about his household, and about all that he has? You have blessed whatever he does, and his possessions have greatly increased. But just put out your hand now and take away all he has; he certainly will curse you to your face." Then Jehovah said to Satan, "See, everything that he has is in your power; only do not lay hands on Job himself." So Satan left the presence of Jehovah.
One day, as Job's sons and daughters were eating and drinking in the oldest brother's house, a messenger came to Job and said, "The oxen were ploughing and the asses were grazing near them when Sabeans suddenly attacked and seized them; the servants were put to the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you."
While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, "Lightning has fallen from heaven and has completely burned up the sheep and the servants, and I alone have escaped to tell you."
While this man was still speaking, another messenger came and said, "The Chaldeans, attacking in three bands, raided the camels and drove them away; the servants were put to the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you."
While this one was still speaking, another messenger came and said, "Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking in their oldest brother's house when a great wind came from across the wilderness, struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men and killed them. I alone have escaped to tell you."
Then Job rose, tore his robe, shaved his head, threw himself on the ground and worshipped, saying:
"Jehovah gave, Jehovah has taken away; Blessed be the name of Jehovah!"
In all this Job did not sin nor blame God.
On another day when the sons of God came before Jehovah, Satan came with them. And Jehovah said to Satan, "From where do you come?"
Satan answered, "From going back and forth on the earth, and from walking up and down on it." Jehovah said to Satan, "Have you seen my servant Job? For there is no man like him on the earth, blameless and upright, one who reveres God and avoids evil; he still is faithful, although you led me to ruin him without cause." Satan answered Jehovah, "Skin for skin, yes, a man will give all that he has for his life. But just put out your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh; he certainly will curse you to your face." Jehovah said to Satan, "See, he is in your power; only spare his life."
So Satan left the presence of Jehovah, and afflicted Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head with leprosy so terrible that Job took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself.
As he sat among the ashes, his wife said to him, "Are you still holding to your piety? Curse God and die." But he said to her, "You speak like a senseless woman. We accept prosperity from God, shall we not also accept misfortune?" In all this Job said nothing that was wrong.
When Job's three friends heard of all this trouble that had befallen him, they came each from his own home: Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, for they had arranged to go together and show their sympathy for him and comfort him. But when they saw him in the distance, they did not at first know him. Then they all wept aloud and tore their robes and threw dust upon their heads. And they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights without any one saying a word to him, for they saw that he was in great trouble.
Then Job began to speak and said:
"Why did I not die at birth, Breathe my last when I was born? I should then have lain down in quiet, Should have slept and been at rest With kings and counsellors of earth, Who built themselves great pyramids; With princes rich in gold, Who filled their houses with silver.
"There the wicked cease from troubling, There the weary are at rest; Captives too at ease together, Hearing not the voice of masters. There the small and great are gathered, There the slave is free at last."
Then Eliphaz, the Temanite, answered:
"If one dares to speak, will it vex you? But who can keep from speaking? See! you have instructed many, And strengthened the drooping hands. Your words have upheld the fallen, Giving strength to tottering knees. But now that trouble comes, you are impatient, Now that it touches you, you lose courage.
"Is not your religion your confidence; Your blameless life, your hope? Remember! What innocent man ever perished? Or where were the upright ever destroyed? Happy the man whom God corrects; Therefore, spurn not the Almighty's chastening. For he causes pain but to comfort, And wounds, that his hands may heal."
Then Job answered:
"What strength have I, that I should endure? And what is my future, that I should be patient? Is my strength the strength of stones, Or is my body made of brass? A friend should be kind to one fainting, Though he lose his faith in the Almighty. Teach me, and I will keep silent. Show me how I have sinned."
Then Bildad, the Shuhite, answered:
"Is God a God of injustice? Or can the Almighty do wrong? If your children sinned against him, He has let them suffer the penalty; But you should earnestly seek him, And devoutly beseech the Almighty. If you are pure and upright, He will surely answer your prayer, And will prosper your righteous abode."
Then Job answered:
"To be sure, I know that it is so; But how can a man be just before God? He is wise in mind and mighty in strength, Who has ever defied him and prospered, Blameless I am! I regard not myself; I hate my life; it is all one to me. Therefore, I openly declare: He destroys the blameless as well as the wicked."
Then Zophar, the Naamathite, answered:
"If you would cleanse your heart, And stretch out your hands to God, And put away sin from your hand, And let no wrong dwell in your tent, You would then lift your face without spot, You would then be steadfast and fearless."
Then Job answered:
"Verily you are the people, And with you wisdom shall die! But I have a mind as well as you, And who does not know all this? Oh, that my words were now written, That they were inscribed in a book, That with an iron pen and with lead In rock they were carved forever!
"For I know that my Defender lives, That at last he shall stand upon earth; And after this skin is destroyed. Freed from my flesh, I shall see him, Whom I shall behold for myself; My own eyes shall see, and no stranger's."
Job again spoke and said:
"Oh, to be as in months of old, As in days when God guarded my steps, When his lamp shone above my head, And I walked by his light through the darkness; As I was in my prosperous days, When God protected my tent; When still the Almighty was with me, And my children were all about me!
"When I went to the gate of the city, And took my seat in the open, The youths, when they saw me, retired, And the aged rose up and stood; The princes refrained from talking, And laid their hands on their mouths; The voices of nobles were hushed, And their tongues stuck fast to their palates.
"He who heard of me called me happy, He who saw me bore me witness, For I saved the poor who cried, And the orphan with none to help him. The suffering gave me their blessing, And I made the widow's heart glad.
"Eyes was I to the blind, Feet was I to the lame, And a father to those who were needy. I defended the cause of the stranger, I shattered the jaws of the wicked, And wrested the prey from his teeth.
"Men listened to me eagerly, And in silence awaited my counsel. After my words they spoke not, And my speech fell as rain-drops upon them. But they sing of me now in derision, And my name is a by-word among them.
"Oh, for some one to hear me! Behold my defense all signed! Let now the Almighty answer, Let Jehovah write the charge! On my shoulder I would bear it, As a crown I would bind it round me; I would tell him my every act; Like a prince I would enter his presence!"
Then out of the whirlwind Jehovah answered Job:
"Where were you when I founded the earth? You have knowledge and insight, so tell me. You must know! Who determined its measures? Or who measured it off with a line? On what were its foundations placed? Or who laid its corner-stone, When the morning stars all sang together, And the sons of God shouted for joy?
"Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, That abundance of water may answer you? Can you send on their missions the lightnings; To you do they say, 'Here we are'?
"Does the hawk soar because of your wisdom, And stretch her wings to the south wind? Does the eagle mount up at your bidding, And build her nest on high?
"Will the fault-finder strive with Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer. Will you set aside my judgment, And condemn me, that you may be justified?"
Then Job answered the Lord:
"How small I am! what can I answer? I lay my hand on my mouth. I spoke once, but will do so no more; Yes, twice, but will go no further.
"I know thou canst do all things, And that nothing with thee is impossible. I spoke, therefore, without sense, Of wonders beyond my knowledge. I had heard of thee but by hearsay, But now my eye has seen thee; Therefore I despise my words, And repent in dust and ashes."
Then Jehovah gave back to Job, twice as much as he had before. And Jehovah blessed the last part of Job's life more than the first part; and he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand asses. He also had seven sons and three daughters. And after this Job lived an hundred and forty years.
THE KING OF GLORY
The earth is the Lord's in its fulness, The world and those who live in it; He founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the floods.
Who may go up to the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The man with clean hands and pure heart, Who plans no evil purpose, Nor promises in order to deceive. He shall win from the Lord a blessing, And approval from God his Saviour. Such is the man who may worship him, Who may enter thy presence, O God of Jacob.
Lift up your heads, O gates, Be lifted up, O everlasting doors, Let the King of Glory come in!
Who is this King of Glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, The Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates, Be lifted up, O everlasting doors, That the King of Glory may come in.
Who is this King of Glory? The Lord, the God of hosts, He is the King of Glory!
GOD THE LOVING CREATOR
Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord, my God, thou art great; Thou art clothed with glory and majesty, Thou hast put on light as a mantle; Thou hast stretched the heavens like a tent, Thou framest thy upper stories in the waters, Thou makest the clouds thy chariot, Thou ridest on the wings of the wind, Thou makest winds thy messengers, Flames of fire are thy servants.
Thou didst fix the earth on its foundations, That it should not be moved forever. Thou didst cover it with the sea as with a garment. The waters stood far above the mountains, But at thy reproof they fled, At the sound of thy thunder they hastened away, Not to pass the bound thou hadst set, Not to return to cover the earth. Mountains rose, valleys sank, To the place which thou hadst prepared for them.
Thou sendest the springs to the valleys, They run down between the mountains, They give drink to every wild beast, The wild asses quench their thirst. The birds make their home beside them, They sing from among the branches.
Thou waterest the mountains from thine upper stories; The earth is filled with the fruit of thy works. Thou makest grass spring up for the cattle, And green herbs for the service of man, Causing food to spring from the earth, Wine to gladden man's heart, Oil that makes his face shine, And bread to strengthen his heart. The trees of the Lord are full of sap, The cedars of Lebanon, which he has planted, Where the birds build their nests; The stork has her home in the fir-trees. The high mountains are for the wild goats, The rocks are a hiding-place for the marmots.
Thou createst the moon to divide the year, The sun knows when it should set. Thou makest darkness, and it is night, In which wild beasts creep forth; The young lions roar for their prey, And seek their food from God. When the sun arises they disappear, And lay themselves down in their dens. Man goes out to his work, To toil until evening comes.
O Lord, how many are thy works! Wisely thou madest them all; The earth is full of thy creatures. There is the sea, great and wide, With its crawling things innumerable, Living things both small and great; There go the monsters of the sea, And the dragon thou madest to play.
These all wait for thee, To give them their food in due season. When thou givest to them, they gather it; Thou openest thy hand, they are satisfied. Thou hidest thy face, they are frightened; Thou takest their breath, they die, And return to the dust from which they came. Thou sendest thy spirit, and they are created; Thou refillest the earth with living things.
May the glory of the Lord be eternal, Let the Lord rejoice in his works. He looks at the earth, and it trembles, He touches the mountains, and they smoke. I will sing to the Lord as long as I live, I will sing praise to my God while I exist. May my thoughts be pleasing unto him; I myself find my joy in the Lord.
GOD THE LOVING FATHER
Bless the Lord, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all his benefits, Who forgives all your iniquities, And heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from the grave, And crowns you with love and tender mercy, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The Lord is a doer of righteous acts, And of justice to all the oppressed. He made known his laws to Moses, His deeds to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, Patient and full of love. He will not always chide, Nor keep his anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is his love toward those who revere him. As far as the east is from the west, So far has he removed our wrong deeds from us.
As a father loves his children, So the Lord loves those who revere him, For he understands our nature, He remembers that we are dust.
Frail man—his days are as grass; As a flower of the field he flourishes, For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, And its place knows it no more.
But the love of the Lord is eternal, And his righteousness to children's children, To those who keep their covenant with him, And remember to obey his commands.
He has established his throne in the heavens, And his rule extends over all. Bless the Lord, his angels, You strong ones who do his bidding.
Bless the Lord all his hosts, You servants who do his will, Bless the Lord, all his works, In every place where he rules, Bless the Lord, O my soul.
GOD FROM WHOM ALL GOOD THINGS COME
Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman wakens in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit down at your meal late, And so eat the bread of toil; for he gives to his loved ones sleep.
Children too are a gift from the Lord, they are a reward. As arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of youth. Happy indeed is the man whose quiver is full of them, He shall not be put to shame when he argues with foes in the court.
GOD'S GOODNESS AND MERCY
The Lord is gracious and merciful, Patient, and full of loving-kindness. The Lord is good to all, Showing mercy to all his creatures. All thy works give thee thanks, O Lord, And those who love thee praise thee, They speak of thy glorious rule, And proclaim thy mighty power, That men may know thy great deeds, And the glorious splendor of thy rule. Thy rule is an everlasting rule, Thy dominion endures forever.
The Lord lifts up all who fall, And raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all wait for thee, And thou givest them food in due season. Thou it is who openest thy hand, And satisfiest the desires of all creatures.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways, And gracious in all his acts. He is near all who call upon him, To all who call upon him in truth. He fulfils the desire of his worshippers, He hears their cry and saves them. He takes care of all who love him, But destroys all those who do wrong.
My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord. Let all flesh praise his holy name forever.
GOD THE ALL-SEEING
O Lord, thou searchest and knowest me, Whether I sit or stand, thou knowest, Thou readest my thought afar off, When I walk or lie down thou dost know it.
Thou knowest all my ways. There is not a word on my tongue That thou, O Lord, dost not know! Behind and before thou enfoldest me, Over me thou dost lay thy hand. Such knowledge for me is too wonderful! Too high, I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from thy spirit, Where shall I flee from thy presence? If I climb into heaven, thou art there, If I lie down in the grave, thou art there. Should I take the wings of the morning, And dwell on the most distant sea, Even there thy hand would grasp me, Thy right hand would hold me fast.
If I say, "The darkness will hide me, And the night throw its curtain about me," Even darkness for thee is not dark, But the night shines clear as the day.
Thou didst form my vital parts, Thou didst make me from the beginning, I thank thee, for I am wonderfully made; Fearful and marvellous are thy works.
How precious to me are thy thoughts, O God! How great is the sum of them all! Should I count them, they would be more than the sand; When I awake, I am still with thee.
Search me, O God, and know my heart, Try me, and know my secret thoughts, And see if I have any evil in me, And lead me in the way to eternal life.
GOD WHO ALWAYS WATCHES OVER HIS PEOPLE
I will lift up my eyes to the hills; from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you does not slumber; Behold, he who keeps Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps!
The Lord is your protector; the Lord is your shade upon your right hand; The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night! The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will preserve your life; The Lord will protect your going out and your coming in forevermore!
GOD WHO PROTECTS FROM ALL DANGER
Give thanks to the Lord, for his goodness, For his love endures forever. Let those he has redeemed say so, Whom he has set free from the hand of the foe, And gathered together from many lands, From the east, from the west, From the north and the south.
Some strayed in the barren wilderness, Finding no inhabited city, Hungry, indeed, and thirsty, Their very life ebbing away. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, And he saved them from their distresses. He led them along the right way, Till they reached an inhabited city. Let them praise the Lord for his love, And his wonderful works unto men! For he satisfies the longing soul, And the hungry he fills with good things.
Some dwelt in darkness and gloom, Being bound in affliction and iron, Because they had rebelled against God, And despised the counsel of the Most High. He humbled their heart with sorrow; When they fell, there was none to help them. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, And he saved them from their distresses. Out of darkness and gloom he brought them, And broke their bonds in pieces. Let them praise the Lord for his love, And his wonderful works unto men! For he shattered the gates of brass, And hewed bars of iron asunder.
Fools because of their wrong-doing, And because of their sins were afflicted; They hated all kinds of food, And drew near to the gates of death. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, And he saved them from all their distresses. He sent his command to heal them, And saved their life from destruction. Let them praise the Lord for his love, And his wonderful works unto men! Let them sacrifice to him a thank-offering, And with joy recount his deeds.
Those who go to the sea in ships, Who do business in great waters, They see the works of the Lord, And his wonders in the great deep. When he speaks, the tempest rises, And tosses the waves on high. Up to heaven, then down they go, Their courage melts at the danger, They stagger and reel like drunkards, And their skill is all exhausted. Then they cry to the Lord in their trouble, And he saves them from their distresses. He makes the tempest a calm, And the waves of the sea are still. They are glad when the waves go down; To the haven they long for he brings them. Let them praise the Lord for his love, For his wonderful works unto men; In the popular assembly extol him, In the council of elders praise him.
GOD'S PROTECTION OF THOSE WHO TRUST IN HIM
I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise is continually in my mouth, My soul glories in the Lord, Let the afflicted hear and rejoice. O exalt the Lord with me, Let us praise his name together.
I sought the Lord and he answered me, From all my fears he delivered me. He who looks to him, becomes radiant, And his face is not covered with shame. This afflicted man cried and he heard him, And from all his distresses delivered him. The angel of the Lord encamps About those who revere him, and saves them.
Taste and see that the Lord is good; Happy the man who seeks refuge with him. Revere the Lord, O holy ones, For those who revere him lack nothing. Though young lions feel want and suffer hunger, Those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.
Come, children, listen to me; I will teach you true religion: Who of you desires to live, Loves long life that he may enjoy happiness? Then keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking falsehood; Turn from evil and do good, Seek for peace and pursue it.
The Lord is against evil-doers, To cut off their memory from the earth. The Lord watches over the upright, His ear is open to their cry. When they cry to the Lord, he hears, And saves them from all their troubles.
The Lord is near those who are broken-hearted, He delivers those whose spirits are crushed. The misfortunes of the upright are many, But the Lord delivers him from them all. The Lord guards all his bones, Not one of them is broken. Misfortune shall slay the wicked, Those who hate the upright shall be condemned; But the Lord redeems his servants, And none who takes refuge in him shall be condemned.
GOD'S LOVING CARE
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me to the still waters, He restores my soul.
He guides me in straight paths for his name's sake; Though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me, Thy rod and thy staff—they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies, Thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runs over; Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
TRUSTING IN GOD'S CARE
Be not disturbed because of the wicked, Nor be envious of those who do wrong; For like grass they shall quickly wither, And fade like the green herbs.
Trust in the Lord and do right, Live in the land and act faithfully. Then the Lord shall be your delight, He will grant you your heart's desire.
Commit your way to the Lord, Trust in him, and he will work with you, He will bring to light your honesty, And make it as clear as the noonday.
A PRAYER OF TRUST
To thee, O God, I lift up my soul, All the day long do I wait for thee. I trust in thee, O God, let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies exult over me, And let none who hope in thee be ashamed; But let wicked traitors be disgraced.
Show me thy ways, O Lord, Teach me thy way to live. Lead me in thy truth and teach me, For thou art the God who saves me, And in thee do I hope continually.
Remember thy tender mercies, O Lord, And thy loving deeds, for they are eternal. Do not recall the sins of my youth, But in thy love remember thou me, Because of thy goodness, O Lord.
Good and upright is the Lord, So he teaches sinners the way, He guides the humble aright, And teaches the meek his way, All his rules are loving and true, To those who follow his law and commands. For thy name's sake, O Lord, Pardon my guilt, for it is great.
Who is the man that reveres the Lord? He will teach him the way to choose. That man shall continue to prosper, And his children inherit the land. He is friendly with those who revere him, And with his covenant he makes them acquainted.