21In the first year of Cyrus king of the Persians, that the word of the Lord might be accomplished, that he had promised by the mouth of Jeremy;
2The Lord raised up the spirit of Cyrus the king of the Persians, and he made proclamation through all his kingdom, and also by writing,
3Saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of the Persians; The Lord of Israel, the most high Lord, hath made me king of the whole world,
4And commanded me to build him an house at Jerusalem in Jewry.
5If therefore there be any of you that are of his people, let the Lord, even his Lord, be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem that is in Judea, and build the house of the Lord of Israel: for he is the Lord that dwelleth in Jerusalem.
6Whosoever then dwell in the places about, let them help him, those, I say, that are his neighbours, with gold, and with silver,
7With gifts, with horses, and with cattle, and other things, which have been set forth by vow, for the temple of the Lord at Jerusalem.
8Then the chief of the families of Judea and of the tribe of Benjamin stood up; the priests also, and the Levites, and all they whose mind the Lord had moved to go up, and to build an house for the Lord at Jerusalem,
9And they that dwelt round about them, and helped them in all things with silver and gold, with horses and cattle, and with very many free gifts of a great number whose minds were stirred up thereto.
10King Cyrus also brought forth the holy vessels, which Nabuchodonosor had carried away from Jerusalem, and had set up in his temple of idols.
11Now when Cyrus king of the Persians had brought them forth, he delivered them to Mithridates his treasurer:
12And by him they were delivered to Sanabassar the governor of Judea.
13And this was the number of them; A thousand golden cups, and a thousand of silver, censers of silver twenty nine, vials of gold thirty, and of silver two thousand four hundred and ten, and a thousand other vessels.
14So all the vessels of gold and of silver, which were carried away, were five thousand four hundred threescore and nine.
15These were brought back by Sanabassar, together with them of the captivity, from Babylon to Jerusalem.
16But in the time of Artexerxes king of the Persians Belemus, and Mithridates, and Tabellius, and Rathumus, and Beeltethmus, and Semellius the secretary, with others that were in commission with them, dwelling in Samaria and other places, wrote unto him against them that dwelt in Judea and Jerusalem these letters following;
17To king Artexerxes our lord, Thy servants, Rathumus the storywriter, and Semellius the scribe, and the rest of their council, and the judges that are in Celosyria and Phenice.
18Be it now known to the lord king, that the Jews that are come up from you to us, being come into Jerusalem, that rebellious and wicked city, do build the marketplaces, and repair the walls of it and do lay the foundation of the temple.
19Now if this city and the walls thereof be made up again, they will not only refuse to give tribute, but also rebel against kings.
20And forasmuch as the things pertaining to the temple are now in hand, we think it meet not to neglect such a matter,
21But to speak unto our lord the king, to the intent that, if it be thy pleasure it may be sought out in the books of thy fathers:
22And thou shalt find in the chronicles what is written concerning these things, and shalt understand that that city was rebellious, troubling both kings and cities:
23And that the Jews were rebellious, and raised always wars therein; for the which cause even this city was made desolate.
24Wherefore now we do declare unto thee, O lord the king, that if this city be built again, and the walls thereof set up anew, thou shalt from henceforth have no passage into Celosyria and Phenice.
25Then the king wrote back again to Rathumus the storywriter, to Beeltethmus, to Semellius the scribe, and to the rest that were in commission, and dwellers in Samaria and Syria and Phenice, after this manner;
26I have read the epistle which ye have sent unto me: therefore I commanded to make diligent search, and it hath been found that that city was from the beginning practising against kings;
27And the men therein were given to rebellion and war: and that mighty kings and fierce were in Jerusalem, who reigned and exacted tributes in Celosyria and Phenice.
28Now therefore I have commanded to hinder those men from building the city, and heed to be taken that there be no more done in it;
29And that those wicked workers proceed no further to the annoyance of kings.
30Then king Artexerxes his letters being read, Rathumus, and Semellius the scribe, and the rest that were in commission with them, removing in haste toward Jerusalem with a troop of horsemen and a multitude of people in battle array, began to hinder the builders; and the building of the temple in Jerusalem ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of the Persians.
31Now when Darius reigned, he made a great feast unto all his subjects, and unto all his household, and unto all the princes of Media and Persia,
2And to all the governors and captains and lieutenants that were under him, from India unto Ethiopia, of an hundred twenty and seven provinces.
3And when they had eaten and drunken, and being satisfied were gone home, then Darius the king went into his bedchamber, and slept, and soon after awaked.
4Then three young men, that were of the guard that kept the king’s body, spake one to another;
5Let every one of us speak a sentence: he that shall overcome, and whose sentence shall seem wiser than the others, unto him shall the king Darius give great gifts, and great things in token of victory:
6As, to be clothed in purple, to drink in gold, and to sleep upon gold, and a chariot with bridles of gold, and an headtire of fine linen, and a chain about his neck:
7And he shall sit next to Darius because of his wisdom, and shall be called Darius his cousin.
8And then every one wrote his sentence, sealed it, and laid it under king Darius his pillow;
9And said that, when the king is risen, some will give him the writings; and of whose side the king and the three princes of Persia shall judge that his sentence is the wisest, to him shall the victory be given, as was appointed.
10The first wrote, Wine is the strongest.
11The second wrote, The king is strongest.
12The third wrote, Women are strongest: but above all things Truth beareth away the victory.
13Now when the king was risen up, they took their writings, and delivered them unto him, and so he read them:
14And sending forth he called all the princes of Persia and Media, and the governors, and the captains, and the lieutenants, and the chief officers;
15And sat him down in the royal seat of judgment; and the writings were read before them.
16And he said, Call the young men, and they shall declare their own sentences. So they were called, and came in.
17And he said unto them, Declare unto us your mind concerning the writings. Then began the first, who had spoken of the strength of wine;
18And he said thus, O ye men, how exceeding strong is wine! it causeth all men to err that drink it:
19It maketh the mind of the king and of the fatherless child to be all one; of the bondman and of the freeman, of the poor man and of the rich:
20It turneth also every thought into jollity and mirth, so that a man remembereth neither sorrow nor debt:
21And it maketh every heart rich, so that a man remembereth neither king nor governor; and it maketh to speak all things by talents:
22And when they are in their cups, they forget their love both to friends and brethren, and a little after draw out swords:
23But when they are from the wine, they remember not what they have done.
24O ye men, is not wine the strongest, that enforceth to do thus? And when he had so spoken, he held his peace.
41Then the second, that had spoken of the strength of the king, began to say,
2O ye men, do not men excel in strength that bear rule over sea and land and all things in them?
3But yet the king is more mighty: for he is lord of all these things, and hath dominion over them; and whatsoever he commandeth them they do.
4If he bid them make war the one against the other, they do it: if he send them out against the enemies, they go, and break down mountains, walls, and towers.
5They slay and are slain, and transgress not the king’s commandment: if they get the victory, they bring all to the king, as well the spoil, as all things else.
6Likewise for those that are no soldiers, and have not to do with wars, but use husbundry, when they have reaped again that which they had sown, they bring it to the king, and compel one another to pay tribute unto the king.
7And yet he is but one man: if he command to kill, they kill; if he command to spare, they spare;
8If he command to smite, they smite; if he command to make desolate, they make desolate; if he command to build, they build;
9If he command to cut down, they cut down; if he command to plant, they plant.
10So all his people and his armies obey him: furthermore he lieth down, he eateth and drinketh, and taketh his rest:
11And these keep watch round about him, neither may any one depart, and do his own business, neither disobey they him in any thing.
12O ye men, how should not the king be mightiest, when in such sort he is obeyed? And he held his tongue.
13Then the third, who had spoken of women, and of the truth, (this was Zorobabel) began to speak.
14O ye men, it is not the great king, nor the multitude of men, neither is it wine, that excelleth; who is it then that ruleth them, or hath the lordship over them? are they not women?
15Women have borne the king and all the people that bear rule by sea and land.
16Even of them came they: and they nourished them up that planted the vineyards, from whence the wine cometh.
17These also make garments for men; these bring glory unto men; and without women cannot men be.
18Yea, and if men have gathered together gold and silver, or any other goodly thing, do they not love a woman which is comely in favour and beauty?
19And letting all those things go, do they not gape, and even with open mouth fix their eyes fast on her; and have not all men more desire unto her than unto silver or gold, or any goodly thing whatsoever?
20A man leaveth his own father that brought him up, and his own country, and cleaveth unto his wife.
21He sticketh not to spend his life with his wife, and remembereth neither father, nor mother, nor country.
22By this also ye must know that women have dominion over you: do ye not labour and toil, and give and bring all to the woman?
23Yea, a man taketh his sword, and goeth his way to rob and to steal, to sail upon the sea and upon rivers;
24And looketh upon a lion, and goeth in the darkness; and when he hath stolen, spoiled, and robbed, he bringeth it to his love.
25Wherefore a man loveth his wife better than father or mother.
26Yea, many there be that have run out of their wits for women, and become servants for their sakes.
27Many also have perished, have erred, and sinned, for women.
28And now do ye not believe me? is not the king great in his power? do not all regions fear to touch him?
29Yet did I see him and Apame the king’s concubine, the daughter of the admirable Bartacus, sitting at the right hand of the king,
30And taking the crown from the king’s head, and setting it upon her own head; she also struck the king with her left hand.
31And yet for all this the king gaped and gazed upon her with open mouth: if she laughed upon him, he laughed also: but if she took any displeasure at him, the king was fain to flatter, that she might be reconciled to him again.
32O ye men, how can it be but women should be strong, seeing they do thus?
33Then the king and the princes looked one upon another: so he began to speak of the truth.
34O ye men, are not women strong? great is the earth, high is the heaven, swift is the sun in his course, for he compasseth the heavens round about, and fetcheth his course again to his own place in one day.
35Is he not great that maketh these things? therefore great is the truth, and stronger than all things.
36All the earth crieth upon the truth, and the heaven blesseth it: all works shake and tremble at it, and with it is no unrighteous thing.
37Wine is wicked, the king is wicked, women are wicked, all the children of men are wicked, and such are all their wicked works; and there is no truth in them; in their unrighteousness also they shall perish.
38As for the truth, it endureth, and is always strong; it liveth and conquereth for evermore.
39With her there is no accepting of persons or rewards; but she doeth the things that are just, and refraineth from all unjust and wicked things; and all men do well like of her works.
40Neither in her judgment is any unrighteousness; and she is the strength, kingdom, power, and majesty, of all ages. Blessed be the God of truth.
41And with that he held his peace. And all the people then shouted, and said, Great is Truth, and mighty above all things.
42Then said the king unto him, Ask what thou wilt more than is appointed in the writing, and we will give it thee, because thou art found wisest; and thou shalt sit next me, and shalt be called my cousin.
43Then said he unto the king, Remember thy vow, which thou hast vowed to build Jerusalem, in the day when thou camest to thy kingdom,
44And to send away all the vessels that were taken away out of Jerusalem, which Cyrus set apart, when he vowed to destroy Babylon, and to send them again thither.
45Thou also hast vowed to build up the temple, which the Edomites burned when Judea was made desolate by the Chaldees.
46And now, O lord the king, this is that which I require, and which I desire of thee, and this is the princely liberality proceeding from thyself: I desire therefore that thou make good the vow, the performance whereof with thine own mouth thou hast vowed to the King of heaven.
47Then Darius the king stood up, and kissed him, and wrote letters for him unto all the treasurers and lieutenants and captains and governors, that they should safely convey on their way both him, and all those that go up with him to build Jerusalem.
48He wrote letters also unto the lieutenants that were in Celosyria and Phenice, and unto them in Libanus, that they should bring cedar wood from Libanus unto Jerusalem, and that they should build the city with him.
49Moreover he wrote for all the Jews that went out of his realm up into Jewry, concerning their freedom, that no officer, no ruler, no lieutenant, nor treasurer, should forcibly enter into their doors;
50And that all the country which they hold should be free without tribute; and that the Edomites should give over the villages of the Jews which then they held:
51Yea, that there should be yearly given twenty talents to the building of the temple, until the time that it were built;
52And other ten talents yearly, to maintain the burnt offerings upon the altar every day, as they had a commandment to offer seventeen:
53And that all they that went from Babylon to build the city should have free liberty, as well they as their posterity, and all the priests that went away.
54He wrote also concerning the charges, and the priests’ vestments wherein they minister;
55And likewise for the charges of the Levites, to be given them until the day that the house were finished, and Jerusalem builded up.
56And he commanded to give to all that kept the city pensions and wages.
57He sent away also all the vessels from Babylon, that Cyrus had set apart; and all that Cyrus had given in commandment, the same charged he also to be done, and sent unto Jerusalem.
58Now when this young man was gone forth, he lifted up his face to heaven toward Jerusalem, and praised the King of heaven,
59And said, From thee cometh victory, from thee cometh wisdom, and thine is the glory, and I am thy servant.
60Blessed art thou, who hast given me wisdom: for to thee I give thanks, O Lord of our fathers.
61And so he took the letters, and went out, and came unto Babylon, and told it all his brethren.
62And they praised the God of their fathers, because he had given them freedom and liberty
63To go up, and to build Jerusalem, and the temple which is called by his name: and they feasted with instruments of musick and gladness seven days.