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Daily Word 2019


Sundays, 1-34, A
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Antiquities of the Jews -- 11

From the end of the Exile to the death of Alexander of Macedon

(Greek and English >>> )

1. Cyrus releases the Jews from Babylon; gives money to rebuild their Temple

2. After Cyrus the rebuilding of the Temple is blocked by Cambyses and others

3. Under Darius the Persian, Zorobabel is allowed rebuild the Temple

4. Cutheans (Samaritans) block rebuilding of the Temple; seeds of future enmity

5. Goodwill of Xerxes towards the Jews; Ezra and Nehemias continue rebuilding

6. Esther & Mardochai avert the danger caused by Haman in the days of Artaxerxes

7. Rivalry about the high-priesthood. Evil of Bagoses, a general of Artaxerxes

8. Samaritan Temple, on Garizim. Alexander favours the Jews; his successors

Chapter 1. [001-018]
Cyrus of Persia releases the Jews from Babylon. He gives them money to rebuild their Temple


001 In the first year of the reign of Cyrus, which was the seventieth from the day when our people were removed from their own land into Babylon, God took pity on the captivity and plight of these unfortunates, as he had promised them by the prophet Jeremias before the destruction of the city, 002 that after being slaves to Nabuchodonosor and his descendants, when they had born that slavery for seventy years he would restore them to the land of their fathers and they would build their temple and enjoy their former prosperity; and these things God did give them. 003 He stirred up the mind of Cyrus and caused him to write this to all of Asia: "King Cyrus decrees: Since God Almighty has appointed me as king of the world, I believe that he is the God which the nation of the Israelites worship, 004 for he foretold about me through the prophets and that I would build him a house in Jerusalem, in the district of Judea."


005 Cyrus knew about these things from reading the book of prophecies left behind by Isaias, two hundred and ten years earlier. He had said how God had told him in a secret vision: "I will that Cyrus, whom I have appointed as king over many great nations, shall send back my people to their own land and build my temple." 006 This was foretold by Isaias one hundred and forty years before the temple was demolished. When Cyrus read this and admired its divine message, an impulse and ambition gripped him to fulfill what was written, so he called for the most distinguished Jews in Babylon and told them that he allowed them to return to their own country and rebuild their city of Jerusalem, and the temple of God. 007 He himself would assist them by writing to the governors and satraps in the neighbourhood of their region, to provide them with gold and silver for the building of the temple, and with beasts for their sacrifices.


008 When Cyrus announced this to the Israelites, the officers of the two tribes of Judas and Benjamin hurried to Jerusalem with the levites and priests, but many stayed behind in Babylon, unwilling to leave their possessions. 009 When they arrived, all the king's friends helped them and some brought in gold and others silver, for the building of the temple, and some brought many livestock and horses. So they fulfilled their vows to God and offered the sacrifices that were customary in former times, when they rebuilt their city and revived the ancient practices regarding their worship. 010 Cyrus also sent back to them the vessels of God that king Nabuchodonosor had pillaged from the temple and brought to Babylon. 011 He gave these to Mithridates his treasurer, to send them to Sanabassar, to be guarded until the temple was built, and when it was finished, he should hand them over to the priests and officers of the people, for restoration to the temple. 012 Cyrus also sent a letter to the officers in Syria, saying,

"King Cyrus to to Sisinnes and Sathrabuzanes, greetings!

I have allowed any of the Jews living in my country who may so wish, to return to their own country and rebuild their city and build the temple of God in Jerusalem on the same place as before. 013 I have also sent my treasurer Mithridates and Zorobabel, the ruler of the Jews, to lay the foundations of the temple and build it sixty feet in height and width, making three structures of polished stones and one of local wood; the same applies to the altar on which they sacrifice to God. 014 I want the expenses for these things to be paid from my revenues. I have also sent the vessels stolen from the temple by king Nabuchodonosor, entrusting them to Mithridates the treasurer and Zorobabel the ruler of the Jews, to have them brought to Jerusalem and restored to the temple of God. 015 Their number is as follows: Fifty chargers of gold and five hundred of silver; fifty Thericlean cups of gold and four hundred of silver; fifty mixing-bowls of gold and five hundred of silver; thirty vessels for pouring and three hundred of silver; thirty vessels of gold and two thousand four hundred of silver, and a thousand other large vessels. 016 I grant them the same honorary gift their ancestors used to receive, two hundred and five thousand, five hundred drachmae for small animals and wine and oil, and twenty thousand, five hundred artabae for wheaten flour, and these expenses shall be paid from the tributes due from Samaria. 017 The priests shall offer these sacrifices in Jerusalem according to the laws of Moses, and when offering them they shall pray to God for the safety of the king and his family, that the kingdom of Persia may last. Any who disobey or ignore these instructions shall be hung upon a cross and their property shall belong to the king." 018 That was the content of the letter. Those who returned from captivity to Jerusalem numbered forty-two thousand four hundred and sixty-two.

Chapter 2. [019-030]
On Cyrus' death, the rebuilding of the Temple halts. Progress is blocked by Cambyses and others


019 When the foundations of the temple were being laid and when the Jews were very eager to rebuild it, the neighbouring nations and especially the Cutheans, whom Shalmanezer, king of Assyria, had brought from Persia and Media and planted in Samaria when he took the people of Israel away as prisoners, begged the satraps and those in charge of affairs to stop the Jews both from rebuilding their city and from building their temple. 020 As these were seduced by them with money, they sided with the Cutheans to make this building a slow and a careless work, for Cyrus, who was busy with other wars, knew nothing of this, and it turned out that as he led his army against the Massagetae, his life came to a sudden end. 021 When his son Cambyses became king, the officers in Syria and Phoenicia and Amman and Moab and Samaria, wrote this letter to Cambyses: 022 "Master, we your servants, Rathumus the historiographer and Semellius the scribe and your judges in Syria and Phoenicia, send greeting. Your Majesty must know that the Jews who were brought to Babylon have arrived in our country and are building that rebellious and wicked city and its markets and raising up its walls and its temple. 023 Take note that once these are completed they will be unwilling to pay taxes of to submit to your commands, but will resist kings and will want to rule rather than be ruled. 024 So we thought we should write to your Majesty not to ignore the fact that the work on the temple is going ahead so quickly, so that you may search into the books of your fathers, where you will find that the Jews have been rebels and enemies to kings, as has their city which, for that reason, has up to now lain desolate. 025 We also thought to inform you, lest perhaps you do not know already, that once this city is inhabited and well surrounded by walls, your passage to Coele-Syria and Phoenicia will be blocked."


026 As Cambyses was naturally irascible, when he read the letter he was stirred by what they told him and wrote back as follows, "Cambyses the king, to Rathumus the historiographer, to Beelzemus, to Semellius the scribe and the other officers living in Samaria and Phoenicia, says: 027 I have read the letter you sent, and I ordered a search within the books of my ancestors and have found there how this city has always been hostile to kings and its inhabitants have raised revolts and wars. We also know that their kings have been powerful and tyrannical and have imposed taxes on Coele-Syria and Phoenicia. 028 Therefore I commanded that the Jews not be allowed to build the city, in case of an increase of the damage that they used to bring upon kings." 029 When this letter was read, Rathumus and Semellius the scribe and their associates quickly got on horseback and hurried to Jerusalem with a large group of followers and forbade the Jews to build the city and the temple. 030 These works were held up for nine years, until the second year of the reign of Darius, for Cambyses ruled for six years, during which he ransacked Egypt and on his arrival home, he died in Damascus.

Chapter 3. [031-074]
In the reign of Darius the Persian, Zorobabel is allowed to rebuild the Temple


031 After the slaughter of the magi who ruled the Persians for a year after the death of Cambyses, the so-called "seven families" of the Persians chose Darius, the son of Hystaspes, to be king. As a private citizen he had vowed to God that if ever he came to be king, he would send to the temple in Jerusalem all the vessels of God that were in Babylon. 032 Now about this time, Zorobabel, who had been made ruler of the Jews who had been in captivity, came from Jerusalem to Darius. There was an old friendship between him and the king, for along with two others he had been found worthy to serve as royal bodyguard and he attained the dignity to which he aspired.


033 In his first year as king, Darius feasted his circle of friends and those born in his house, along with the officers of Media and the satraps of Persia and the toparchs of India and Ethiopia and the generals of the armies of his hundred and twenty-seven provinces. 034 When they had eaten and drunk their fill, they all left to go home to bed and Darius the king went to bed too. But after he had rested a little part of the night, he woke up and unable to sleep any more, got into conversation with his three bodyguards. 035 He promised that whoever could respond most truthfully and wisely to points that he would ask about, would receive in reward for his wisdom the right to wear a purple garment and drink from cups of gold and sleep upon gold and have a chariot with bridles of gold and headwear of fine linen and a chain of gold about his neck and to sit next to himself. "And," he said, "he shall be named my kinsman." 036 After promising these gifts, he asked the first of them, "Is not wine the strongest thing?" and the second, "Are kings not the strongest of things?" and the third, "Are women not the strongest of things, or is truth the strongest of all?" When he had set these problems, he went to rest. 037 In the morning he sent for his great men, his satraps and rulers of Persia and Media and sat down in his audience hall and bade each of his bodyguards in the hearing of all to declare their thoughts about the proposed questions.


038 The first began to speak about the strength of wine, with the following argument: "Now men, let me give my opinion of wine. I find that it surpasses everything, for this reason. 039 It deceives the mind of those who drink it and reduces that of the king to the state of an orphan who needs a tutor, and lifts up that of the slave to the boldness of a free man, and makes the mind of the needy like that of the rich man. 040 Then it gets into them it changes and renews the souls of men, and quenches the sorrow of those in distress and makes people forget the debts they owe to others and makes them think themselves as the richest of all, not content to talk of small things, but of talents and the sort of topics suitable to the wealthy. 041 More, it makes them heedless of officers and kings and forgetful of friends and companions and arms people against even those dearest to them and makes them seem the greatest of strangers. 042 Once they have sobered up and slept off their wine during the night, they rise without knowing what they did in their cups. I take these as signs of power and by them find that wine is the strongest and most irresistable of all things."


043 When the first had finished expressing these views on the strength of wine, the next to him began to speak about the power of a king, showing that it was the strongest of all and beyond the power of any other thing, for influence and understanding. He began his proof as follows: 044 "Human beings govern all things, for they subdue land and sea to their use and wishes; and in turn, humans are ruled by kings, who have authority over them. Those who rule over the strongest and most powerful of all living things should be considered supreme in power and force. 045 When these kings command their subjects to go to war and submit to dangers when they send them against their enemies, their power is such that they are obeyed. They can order mountains to be levelled and walls and towers to be pulled down, and even when men are ordered to kill or be killed, they obey so as not to seem to refuse the king's orders, and when they are victorious, they bring to the king the spoils of war. 046 Even the non-soldiers who cultivate and plough the land, having borne all the labour and toil of such farming and after reaping and gathering their fruits, bring taxes to the king. 047 Whatever the king says or commands has to be done without delay, while he enjoys all sorts of food and pleasures and sleeps in peace, guarded by watchmen and people who are, as it were, duty-bound by fear. 048 For nobody dares leave him, even when he is asleep, nor may anyone go to tend to his own affairs, but he sees guarding the king as his vital work, and devotes himself to this. Since so great a crowd obeys the king's orders, how can one not reckon him as the strongest of all?


049 When this man fell silent the third of them, Zorobabel, began to teach them about women and truth, as follows: "Wine is strong, and the king is the one whom all obey, but the influence of women is greater still. 050 For it was a woman who brought the king into the world, and it is women who bear and rear those who plant the vines. Indeed there is nothing which we do not receive from them, for these women weave clothing for us and take care of our household affairs and watch over them. 051 Nor can we live apart from women, for even if we have gained a large amount of gold and silver or anything else valuable and highly regarded, and see a beautiful woman, we turn aside from these things and with open mouth fix our gaze upon her face and are willing to forsake all we have, just to enjoy her beauty and gain it for ourselves. 052 For the sake of women we will leave father and mother and the place we were reared and often forget our dearest friends, and even risk our very lives. But here is what mainly illustrates the strength of women: 053 Do we not work hard and go to much trouble, both by land and sea, and after earning the fruits of our labours, don't we bring them as gifts to the women, as to our mistresses? 054 Once I even saw the king, who is lord over so many, being struck on the face by his concubine, Apame, the daughter of Rabsases Themasius, who took his crown from him and put on her own head, while he bore it patiently. When she smiled, he smiled, and when she was angry he was sad, and he flattered his wife according to her changeing passions, and drew her to reconciliation by greatly abasing himself, if ever he saw her displeased at him."


055 As the satraps and officers looked at each other, he began to speak about truth. He said, "I have already shown the power of women, but women and the king himself are weaker than truth, for though the earth is large and the heaven high and the course of the sun is swift, all these are moved according to God's will, who is true and righteous. Therefore we should deem truth to be the strongest of all things and that what is unrighteous has no power against it. 056 Moreover, all other strong things are mortal and short-lived, but truth is immortal and eternal. What it grants us is not perishable beauty or riches such as fortune may take away, but righteous rules and laws, distinguishing them from injustice, which it condemns."


057 When Zorobabel had ended his discourse about truth and the people had shouted out that he had spoken most wisely, since truth alone had immutable strength that would never fade, the king bade him ask for something over and above what he had promised, for he wanted to reward him for his wisdom and prudence, surpassing all the rest. 058 "You shall sit beside me," said the king, "and be called my kinsman." As he said this, Zorobabel reminded him of what he had vowed to do if he should ever gain the kingship, which was to rebuild Jerusalem and build in it the temple of God and to restore the vessels that Nabuchodonosor had pillaged and brought to Babylon. "This," he said, "is the request you now allow me to make, having judged me to be wise and understanding."


059 Pleased with what he said, the king sttod up and kissed him, and wrote orders to the toparchs and officers to give safe conduct to Zorobabel and those who were going with him to build the temple. 060 Further, he sent letters to the officers in Syria and Phoenicia to cut down and carry cedar trees from Lebanon to Jerusalem and to help him in building the city. He also wrote that all the prisoners who wished to go to Judea were free to do so, 061 and he forbade his deputies and officers to lay any royal taxes upon the Jews. He allowed them have without tributes all the land they could occupy, and ordered the Idumaeans and Samaritans and the people of Coele-Syria, to restore the villages they had taken from the Jews. Besides all this, he gave them fifty talents for the building of the temple. 062 He let them offer their appointed sacrifices and at his own expense paid for all that was needed by the high priest and other priests, including the sacred vestments in which they worshipped God, and the instruments with which the levites made music to God. 063 He had portions of land given to those who guarded the city and the temple, and a fixed sum of money each year for their maintenance. He also he sent the vessels, and all that Cyrus had intended to do before him about the restoration of the Jews, Darius commanded to be done.


064 When he had obtained these grants from the king, Zorobabel left the palace and looking up to heaven, began to thank God for the wisdom he had given him and the victory he had thereby gained, in the presence of Darius. For he said, "These would not have been mine, O Lord, unless you had favoured me." 065 When he had thanked God for his situation and prayed for the same in the future, he came to Babylon to tell his countrymen the good news about the king's decree. 066 When they heard it they too thanked God for restoring their ancestral land to them, and turned to drinking and eating and for seven days joyously celebrated the rebuilding and restoration of their country. 067 Then from the tribes of their ancestors they chose officers to go up to Jerusalem, with their wives and children and livestock. Sent by them and by Darius, they went to Jerusalem with joy and gladness, making music with songs and pipes and cymbals, and with delight the rest of the Jewish crowd sent them on their way.


068 So they went, a certain number from every family, though I do not think I need to list the names of those families in particular, not to distract my readers from the overview of the events and make it hard for them to follow the line of my narrative. 069 The sum total of those who went up, more than twelve years old, of the tribes of Judas and Benjamin, was four million, six hundred and twenty eight thousand. The levites were seven hundred and forty thousand. The total number of the women and children was forty thousand seven hundred and forty-two. 070 Besides, there were one hundred and twenty-eight singers of the levites and one hundred and ten porters and three hundred and ninety-two sacred ministers; there were also six hundred and sixty-two others who said they were Israelite, but could not prove their genealogies. 071 Some five hundred and twenty-five were expunged from the list and honour of the priesthood for having married wives whose genealogies they could not produce, or were not found in the genealogies of the levites and priests. 072 Following the group going up to Jerusalem were seven thousand three hundred and thirty-seven servants, two hundred and forty-five singing men and singing women, four hundred and thirty-five camels and five thousand five hundred and twenty-five beasts of burden. 073 The officers over this numbered crowd were Zorobabel, son of Salathiel, descended from David and the tribe of Judas, and Joshua, son of Josadak the high priest. To these should be added Mardochai and Serebeus, officers distinguished from the people, who also contributed a hundred pounds of gold and five thousand of silver. 074 In this way, the priests and levites and part of the entire Jewish nation in Babylon, came and lived in Jerusalem, but the rest of the people returned each to their own region.

Chapter 4. [075-119]
Cutheans (Samaritans) oppose rebuilding of the Temple. This sows seeds of future enmity


075 In the seventh month after they left Babylon, Joshua the high priest and Zorobabel the ruler sent messengers around everywhere and gathered all the country people together to Jerusalem, and they came there very gladly. 076 He then prepared an altar on the very place where it had formerly been built, to offer to God upon it the appointed sacrifices according to the laws of Moses. But that they did this was displeasing to the neighbouring nations, who all were hostile to them. 077 At that time they celebrated the feast of tents also, as the Legislator had ordained, and worshipped and then offered what were called the daily oblations and the sacrifices proper for the Sabbaths and every sacred feast, and all who had made vows performed them and offered their sacrifices from the first day of the seventh month. 078 Then too they began to build the temple and provided a lot of money for the masons and carpenters and what was needed to feed the workmen. The Sidonians were very ready and willing to bring cedar trees from Libanus, binding them together into a raft and bringing them to the port of Joppa, for what Cyrus had earlier ordered was now performed at the command of Darius.


079 In the second month of the second year after the Jews came back to Jerusalem, the building of their temple was going ahead steadily. After they had laid its foundations on the first day of the second month of that second year, they put levites of more than twenty years old in charge of the work, and Joshua and his sons and brothers and Zodmiel the brother of Judas, son of Aminadab, along with his sons. 080 Due to the diligence of those in charge of the work, the temple was finished sooner than could be expected. When the temple was complete, the priests in their usual vestments stood with their trumpets, while the levites and the sons of Asaph, stood and sung hymns to God, just as David had first appointed them to bless God. 081 The priests and levites and the elders of the families recalled how much larger and grander the old temple had been, and seeing how, due to their poverty, the one they now had made was inferior to that which had been built of old, realised how less prosperous they and their temple now were than of old, and were so saddened that they could not refrain from weeping at the thought. 082 The ordinary people, though, were content with their present lot and wanted nothing more than just to build the temple, not caring about or recalling the former temple, or torturing themselves with comparisons, as if this one were below their expectations. 083 But the wailing of the old men and the priests about this temple's inferiority, in their view, to the one that was demolished, drowned out the sound of the trumpets and of the people's rejoicing.


084 When the Samaritans, who were hostile to the tribes of Judas and Benjamin, heard the sound of the trumpets, they hurried together wanting to know the cause of this uproar, and when they saw it was from the Jews, who had been taken prisoner to Babylon and were now rebuilding their temple, they came to Zorobabel and to Joshua and to the heads of the families and asked to be let prepare the temple along with them and to be partners in the building of it. 085 They said, "We worship God no less than they do and pray much to him and are zealous for their religion, ever since Shalmanezer, the king of Assyria, transplanted us from Cuthah and Media to this place." 086 When they said this, Zorobabel and Joshua the high priest and the heads of the families of the Israelites, replied that they could not let them be their partners, since first Cyrus and now Darius had appointed them alone to build the temple. 087 They were free, however, to come and worship there if they pleased but they could offer them only what was allowed to all other men, to come to the temple and there worship God.


088 When the Cutheans heard this, for so the Samaritans are called, they were angry and persuaded the nations of Syria to ask the officers, as they had done formerly in the days of Cyrus and in the days of Cambyses after him, to put a stop to the building of the temple and to try to delay and hinder the Jews in their zeal about it. 089 At that time Sisinnes, the ruler of Syria and Phoenicia and Sathrabuzanes and some others came up to Jerusalem and asked the officers of the Jews by whose authority they were building the temple in this form, since it was more like a citadel than a temple, and why were they building porticoes and such strong walls around the city. 090 To this Zorobabel and Joshua the high priest replied that they were the servants of Almighty God that this temple was built for him by thair prosperous king who had excelled all others in virtue, and that it had lasted a long time. 091 Then because of their fathers' impiety towards God, king Nabuchodonosor of the Babylonians and Chaldeans, had stormed their city and destroyed it and pillaged and burned the temple and transported the people as captives into Babylon. 092 Then Cyrus who was king of Babylon and Persia after him, wrote to them to build the temple and entrusted to Zorobabel and Mithridates the treasurer the gifts and vessels and whatever Nabuchodonosor had taken from it, and ordered them brought to Jerusalem to be restored to their own temple, when it was built. 093 This he had ordered to be done quickly, telling Sanabassar to go up to Jerusalem and take care of the building of the temple. On receiving that letter from Cyrus, he had come immediately and laid its foundations. "But while it has gone on from that time to this, the building is not yet finished, because of our enemies's spite. 094 If therefore you think it proper and good, write this to Darius, and when he consults the royal records he will find that we have told you nothing false about this matter."


095 When Zorobabel and the high priest gave this reply, Sisinnes and his companions decided not to hinder the building until they had spoken of all this to king Darius. So they immediately wrote to him about these matters. 096 As the Jews were now miserable and terrified that the king might change his resolve about the building of Jerusalem and the temple, two prophets arose among them at that time, Haggai and Zacharias, who encouraged them and bade them to take heart and not to expect any harassment from the Persians, since God had foretold all this. So, relying on those prophets, they devoted themselves to building and did not pause for a single day.


097 The Samaritans wrote to Darius and in their letter accused the Jews of fortifying the city and building the temple more like a citadel than a temple, saying that what they were doing was not to the king's advantage, and then they showed him the letter of Cambyses forbidding them to build the temple. 098 On learning from the letter from Sisinnes and his friends that the restoration of Jerusalem was not expedient for him, Darius had the relevant material sought for, among the royal records. 099 A book was found at Ecbatana, in the tower in Media, where the following was written: "In the first year of his reign, Cyrus the king ordered the building of the temple in Jerusalem, with an altar sixty feet high and the same wide, with three buildings of polished local stone and one building of local timber. 100 The expenses were to be paid from the royal revenue, and he also ordered that the vessels which Nabuchodonosor had pillaged and brought to Babylon be restored to the people of Jerusalem, 101 and that the care of these things should belong to Anabassar, the ruler of Syria and leader of Phoenicia and his associates, not in order to meddle with the place, but to allow the servants of God, the Jews and their officers, to build the temple. 102 He also ordered them to help them in the work, and that to give to the Jews, from the tax of the places they administered, bulls and rams and lambs and kid goats and fine flour and oil and wine for the sacrifices, and anything else that the priests should request of them, and have them pray for the safety of the king and of the Persians. 103 Anybody who disobeyed any of the orders he sent to them were to be taken prisoner and crucified and their property confiscated for the king's own use; and he also prayed to God that if anyone tried to hinder the building of the temple, God would curb his wickedness by striking him dead."


104 When Darius had found this document among the records of Cyrus, he wrote an answer to Sisinnes and his group, to this effect: "King Darius to Sisinnes the ruler and to Sarabazanes, greetings. Having found a copy of this letter among the records of Cyrus, I have sent it you, and I will that all things written in it be done. Fare ye well." 105 On learning of the king's wishes, Sisinnes and his companions resolved to follow them entirely in future. So they supported the sacred work and helped the elders of the Jews and the officers of the Sanhedrin. 106 Thus, as Haggai and Zacharias prophecied at God's command, the structure of the temple was completed with great diligence in seven years, after the intervention of kings Cyrus and Darius. 107 So in the ninth year of the reign of Darius, on the twenty-third day of the twelfth month, which is called Adar by us, but Dystrus by the Macedonians, to celebrate the renewal of their former prosperity after their captivity and because they now had the temple rebuilt, the priests and levites and the whole throng of the Israelites offered in sacrifice a hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs and twelve kid goats, according their tribes, for that is the number the tribes of Israel, for the sins of each tribe. 108 The priests and levites set porters at every gate, according to the laws of Moses, and the Jews built the porticoes of the inner temple that were round about the temple itself.


109 As the feast of unleavened bread was at hand, in the first month, which the Macedonians call Xanthicus, but we call Nisan, all the people hurried in from the villages to the city and celebrated the festival, having purified themselves and their wives and children, according to their ancestral law. 110 Then they offered the sacrifice called the Passover, on the fourteenth day of the same month and feasted seven days and spared no expense but offered entire holocausts to God and thank-offerings, for He had led them back to the land of their fathers and to its laws to it and had caused the king of Persia to be favourable to them. 111 For this they offered the largest of sacrifices and were generous in the worship of God. Their life in Jerusalem was a mixture of aristocracy and oligarchy, with the high priests in charge, until the descendants of the Hasmoneans began to rule as kings. 112 Before the captivity and their dissolution, they first had kingly government from Saul and David for five hundred and thirty-two years, six months and ten days, but before the kings, those who led them were called judges and monarchs, the system they had followed for more than five hundred years after the death of Moses and of their general, Joshua. 113 And that is my account of the Jews who had been brought into captivity, but were saved from it in the times of Cyrus and Darius.


114 But the Samaritans, being malicious and envious towards the Jews, did them much harm, trusting in their riches and their claim to be allied to the Persians, because they came from there. 115 They would not pay the Jews what the king had ordered from their tributes for the sacrifices, and their officers favoured and helped them in that purpose. Nor did they refrain from doing them harm, either by themselves or through others, as far as they were able. 116 So the Jews decided to send an delegation to king Darius, on behalf of the people of Jerusalem, to accuse the Samaritans. The envoys were Zorobabel and four others of the officers. 117 When the king heard the accusations and complaints against the Samaritans brought by the envoys, he gave them a letter to bring to the officers and council of Samaria, as follows: 118 "King Darius to Taganas and Sambas, the officers of the Samaritans, to Sadraces and Bobelo and the rest of their fellow subjects in Samaria. Zorobabel, Ananias and Mardochai have come from the Jews to complain that you are obstructing them in the building of the temple and not supplying them with the money as I ordered you, for their sacrifices. 119 I will that having read this letter you supply them from the royal treasury of the taxes of Samaria with whatever they need for their sacrifices as the priests shall desire, that they may not cease offering their daily sacrifices, and pray to God for me and for the Persians." Such were the contents of the letter.

Chapter 5. [120-183]
The goodwill of Xerxes towards the Jews. Ezra and Nehemias continue the reconstruction


120 After the death of Darius, Xerxes his son took over as king, inheriting not only his kingdom but also his piety and honour towards God, for he acted like his father in all things relating to worship and was very favourable to the Jews. 121 Now about this time there was a high priest named Joakeim, son of Joshua. And in Babylon there was then a righteous man, highly reputed by the people and a prominent priest of God, named Esdras, very skilled in the laws of Moses and a trusted friend of king Xerxes. 122 He had decided to go up to Jerusalem bringing with him some of the Jews in Babylon, and he asked the king for a letter to the satraps of Syria, to tell them who he was. 123 The king wrote the following letter to the satraps: "Xerxes, king of kings, to Esdras the priest well-read in the divine law, greeting. In my benevolence I think it right to permit those of the Jewish nation who so wish, with the priests and levites in our kingdom, to go together to Jerusalem and have so decreed: let each one who so wishes go there. 124 This seems good to me and to my council of seven who reviewed the affairs of Judea to see if they be in accord with the law of God. Let them also take with them the gifts which I and my friends have vowed. 125 All the silver and gold dedicated to God that is found in the land of Babylon must be brought to God in Jerusalem for sacrificial use. You and your brothers are also allowed to make as many vessels of silver and gold as you need, 126 and you may consecrate to God the sacred vessels given to you and as many more as you want to make, at the expense of the royal treasury. 127 I have also written to the treasurers of Syria and Phoenicia to be supportive in the matters about which I have sent Esdras the priest, who is expert in the laws of God. So that Deity may have no anger towards me or my children, I allow all that is needed for sacrifices to God according to the law, up to a hundred cori of wheat. 128 And I command you not to impose any tribute upon their priests or levites, or sacred singers, or porters, or ministers, or scribes of the temple. 129 And you Esdras must appoint judges who are wise under God in the ways of your law, to give justice in all of Syria and Phoenicia, and instruct those who are ignorant. 130 If any of your countrymen breaks the law of God or that of the king, let him be punished, not like one who sinned in ignorance, but as one who knew the law but boldly despised and scorned it. Let such men be punished by death, or by paying fines. Farewell."


131 Esdras was very glad receive tto his letter and began to worship God whom he thanked as the source of all the king's favour to him. He read the letter in Babylon to the Jews there, but kept the letter itself and sent a copy of it to all of his own people in Media. 132 These Jews were all greatly pleased to see the king's devotion to God and his favour to Esdras, and many took their goods and came to Babylon, eager to make the journey to Jerusalem. 133 But the larger body of the people of Israel stayed on in that land; so that only two of our tribes came to be in European Asia, subject to the Romans, while ten tribes, numbering thousands too many to count, are still beyond the Euphrates. 134 Many priests, levites, porters, sacred singers and temple ministers came to Esdras and he gathered the exiles on the other side of the Euphrates and stayed there with them for three days and arranged for them a day of fasting to pray to God for their safety, to spare them from any mishap on the journey, either from their enemies or some other misfortune. 135 Esdras had assured the king that God would preserve them and that he did not need to ask him for a cavalry escort. When they had said their prayers they moved from the Euphrates on the twelfth day of the first month of the seventh year of the reign of Xerxes and reached Jerusalem on the fifth month of the same year. 136 Esdras immediately presented to the treasurers, who were of priestly family, the six hundred and fifty silver talents of sacred money, a hundred talents weight of silver vessels, twenty talents of golden vessels and twelve talents of brass vessels, more precious than gold, gifts from the king and his counsellors and from all the Israelites who stayed on in Babylon. 137 When Esdras had passed these on to the priests, he offered the appointed holocaust sacrifices to God, twelve bulls for the safety of the people, and ninety rams, seventy-two lambs and twelve kid goats for the remission of their sins. 138 He also gave the king's letter to the king's stewards and the officers of Coele-Syria and Phoenicia, and as they had to obey his orders they honoured our nation and helped them in all their needs.


139 These things went as Esdras planned, and succeeded because God thought him worthy of it, for his goodness and righteousness. 140 A while later some people came to him accusing some of the people including even priests and levites, who had broken their constitution and ignored their ancient laws by marrying foreign wives and thereby sullied the priestly lineage. 141 They begged him to uphold the laws lest they all come under divine anger and be again reduced to misery, so that in his grief he rent his garment and tore at the hair of his head and beard and flung himself upon the ground, since this crime had affected even the leading people. 142 Expecting not to be heeded if he should order them to expel their wives and the children they had by them, he just stayed there lying on the ground; but the sensible people came running to him weeping and sharing his grief at what had been done. 143 Esdras rose from the ground and stretched his hands to heaven and said he was ashamed to look up towards it because of the sins among the people who had cast away all thought of what had befallen their fathers due to their wickedness. 144 He called on God, who had saved a seed and remnant from their disastrous captivity and restored them to Jerusalem and to their own land and had made the kings of Persia to be merciful to them, to also forgive them their present sins worthy of death, yet whose punishment it was fitting for God's goodness to set aside.


145 With this he ceased his prayer and when all those who came to him with their wives and children joined in lamentation, a leading person from Jerusalem named Achonias came to him saying that they had sinned in marrying foreign wives, and he persuaded him to get them all to expel those wives and the children born of them and to punish any who would not obey the law. 146 Taking this advice Esdras got the tribal heads of the priests and levites and Israelites to swear to put away those wives and children, as Achonias advised. 147 When he had received their oaths, he hurried from the temple to the office of Joannes, son of Eliasib and spent the day there, tasting no food whatever in his grief. 148 When it was announced that all those back from the captivity must gather in Jerusalem and those who did not meet there in two or three days would be banished from the people and their property proscribed for temple use by decree of the elders, the people of the district of Judas and Benjamin gathered in three days, on the twentieth day of the ninth month, called Chasleus by the Hebrews and Apelleius by the Macedonians. 149 As they sat in the upper room of the temple, with the elders who were present feeling chilled by the cold, Esdras stood up and accused them of sinning by marrying wives who were not of their own nation, but said that if they put those wives away it would be both pleasing to God and useful to themselves. 150 All shouted that they would do so, but said that the people were many and as the season of the year was winter this work would require more than a day or two. "So let our leaders and any who have married foreign wives, come at an appointed time and place decided by the elders, to reflect together on the number of those who have been so married." 151 Once they decided this, the inquiry into those who had married foreign wives began on the first day of the tenth month and continued until the first day of the next month, and as a result many of the descendants of Joshua the high priest and of the priests and levites and Israelites 152 immediately expelled their wives and the children born of them, putting the keeping of the law above their natural affection, and to appease God they sacrificed and offered up rams. I do not think it necessary to set down the names of these men. 153 When Esdras had reformed this sin about the marriages of the people mentioned, he purified our practice in that matter for all time to come.


154 When in the seventh month they held the festival of tents and almost all the people had gathered for it, they went up to the open part of the temple, to the eastern gate, and asked Esdras to read to them the laws of Moses. 155 He stood among the people and read them, doing so from morning to noon. On hearing the laws read to them, they were taught to be righteous for the present and for the future, and were displeased at their past offenses and even shed tears on account of them, considering that they would have suffered none of the woes they had experienced, if they had kept the law. 156 When Esdras saw them in this mood he bade them go home and dry their tears, since it was a festival when it was wrong to weep and they ought not do so. He urged them rather to proceed with celebrating and do what was suitable to a feast and a day of joy, but to let their repentance and sorrow about their former sins be a warning to safeguard them from again falling into similar offenses. 157 So at the urging of Esdras they began to feast, and having done so in their tents for eight days, they departed to their homes, singing hymns to God and thanking Esdras for his reforming the abuses that had crept into their way of life. 158 So it was that after gaining this reputation among the people, he died an old man and was buried with full honours in Jerusalem. About the same time it happened also that Joakeim the high priest died, and his son Eliasib succeeded in the high priesthood.


159 One of the captive Jews called Nehemias, a cup-bearer to king Xerxes, was walking outside of Susa, the Persian capital, and heard some strangers who were entering the city after a long journey, speaking to each other in the Hebrew tongue, so he went to them and asked them where they came from. 160 When they replied that they came from Judea, he went on to ask how the people there were faring and about their capital, Jerusalem. 161 They replied that they were doing badly for their walls had been thrown to the ground and that the neighbouring nations were badly damaging the Jews, overrunning and pillaging the country by daytime and doing further harm in the night, so that not a few were led away as prisoners from the country and from Jerusalem itself and that even every day the roads were found full of corpses. 162 At this Nehemias shed tears of pity for the troubles of his countrymen, and looking up to heaven he said, "How long, O Lord, will you ignore that our nation suffers such woes and we are made the booty and spoil of all?" 163 While he stayed at the gate, grieving, someone told him that the king was going to sit down to supper, so he hurried and went as he was, without even washing, to minister to the king as cup-bearer. 164 Now as the king was more cheerful and pleasant after supper than usual, he looked at Nehemias and seeing him look so depressed, he asked him why he was so down. 165 Praying for God's favour to grant him the power of persuading by his words he said, "My king, how can I look otherwise and not be troubled while I hear that the walls of Jerusalem, the city containing the burial vaults of my fathers, are flattened to the ground and that its gates have been burned down? Please allow me to go and raise the wall and to finish the building of the temple." 166 The king freely granted him what he asked, and told him to carry a letter to the satraps, who would pay him due honour and grant him whatever help he required. "Give up your sorrow then," said he, "and in future be cheerful in carrying out your duties." 167 So Nehemias worshipped God and thanked the king for his promise and his sad, overshadowed face cheered up, in his pleasure at what the king had promised. Next day the king called for him and gave him a letter to be brought to Adeus, the ruler of Syria and Phoenicia and Samaria instructing him to pay due honour to Nehemias and to supply him for his building project.


168 He went to Babylon and took with him many of his countrymen, who followed him willingly, and came to Jerusalem in the twenty fifth year of the reign of Xerxes. When he had shown the letters to God he gave them to Adeus and to the other officers. Then he called together all the people to Jerusalem and stood in the middle of the temple and made the following speech to them: 169 "My dear Jews, you know that God has continually kept in mind our fathers Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and for the sake of their righteousness has not abandoned his care for you; so he has helped me to gain authority from the king to raise up our wall and finish the rest of the temple. 170 Well aware of the ill-will our neighbouring nations bear to us and how once they learn that we are in earnest about building they will come her and seek to obstruct our work in many ways, I want you, 171 firstly, to trust in God, who will help us against their hatred and not to pause in the construction work by night or day, but be diligent and press on with the work, now we have this special opportunity for it." 172 Saying this, he commanded the leaders to measure the wall and divide among the people the work on it, by villages and cities and according to each one's ability; and promising that he himself and his servants would help them, he dissolved the assembly. 173 So the Jews prepared for the work; and from the day when they returned from Babylon they have been called by this name, derived from the tribe of Judas which first came to these places, and both the people and the district were named after it.


174 When the Ammanites and Moabites and Samaritans and all who lived in Coele-Syria heard how the building was going on apace, they were angry and proceeded to plot against them and hinder their plans. Indeed they killed many of the Jews and sought to destroy Nehemias himself, by hiring some foreigners to kill him. 175 They caused fear and trouble to the Jews and spread a rumour that many nations were ready to invade them, so that they were harassed and had almost abandoned the building. 176 But none of these things could deter Nehemiah's zeal for the work. Setting a number of men round him as a bodyguard he tirelessly persevered, heedless of drudgery in his desire to complete the work. With attentiion foresight he also took care of his own safety, not out of fear of death, but from this persuasion that if he died the walls would never be raised for his citizens. 177 He ordered the builders to wear their armour in future while they were building, so that both the bricklayer and the one bringing the building materials wore their swords. He also directed them to keep their shields near them, and placed trumpeters every five hundred feet with orders to give notify the people if their enemies appeared, to have them armed for the fight and not let their enemies attack them unprotected. 178 He also went about the whole of the city by night, undaunted either by the work itself or about his own diet and sleep, for he used things not for mere pleasure but only as needed. 179 He bore this drudgery for two years and four months, for by then the wall was completed, in the twenty-eighth year of the reign of Xerxes, in the ninth month. 180 When the walls were complete, Nehemias and the people offered sacrifices to God for their building and went on feasting for eight days. But when the nations which lived in Syria heard that the building of the wall was finished, it angered them. 181 When Nehemias saw the city lacking in population he urged the priests and levites to leave the country and move to live in the city, where he built them houses at his own expense. 182 He directed the farmers among the people to bring the tithes of their crops to Jerusalem, so that the priests and levites would always have something to live on and not abandon the divine worship. These willingly did as Nehemias directed, so that the city of Jerusalem came to be more populous than before. 183 After nobly achieving many other excellent and commendable things, Nehemias died at a great age. By temperament he was good and just and most eager for the prospering of his own nation and he has left himself an eternal monument in the walls of Jerusalem. This all happened in the days of Xerxes.

Chapter 6. [184-296]
Under Artaxerxes, Haman plots against the Jews. Esther and Mardochai; Feast of Purim


184 After the death of Xerxes, the kingship passed to his son Cyrus, whom the Greeks called Artaxerxes. When this man held the leadership of the Persians, the whole Jewish nation with their wives and children were in danger of dying, the cause of which we shall soon describe. 185 First we must explain about this king and how he came to marry a Jewish wife, a woman of the royal family who is said to have saved our nation. 186 When Artaxerxes had taken over the kingdom and set officers over the hundred twenty seven satrapies, from India to Ethiopia, in the third year of his reign, he made an elaborate feast for his friends and the nations of Persia and their officers, such a a right royal occasion to publicly display his riches, which went on for a hundred and eighty days. 187 Then for other nations and their envoys he held a feast at Susa for seven days. This symposium was organised as follows: He had a tent pitched, supported by pillars of gold and silver, with curtains of linen and purple spread over them, with space for many thousands to recline. 188 The serving cups used by the waiters were of gold and adorned with precious stones, to please and impress the eye. He also ordered the servants not to force people to drink by continually bringing more wine, as is the practice of the Persians, but to let each one of the guests enjoy himself according to his own inclination. 189 He also sent messengers through the country with orders to give a holiday from toil and hold a festival of many days in honour of his kingship. 190 Similarly his queen, Astee, gathered a festive symposium for women in the palace. As she surpassed all other women in beauty, the king wished to show her to those who feasted with him and sent to command her to come to his feast. 191 But in deference to the Persian laws which forbid wives to be seen by outsiders, she did not go to the king and though he sent the eunuchs to her several times, she stayed away and refused to come. 192 Finally the king was so angered that he broke up the entertainment and rose and called for the seven men entrusted with interpreting the laws and accused his wife of insulting him when, despite bing often called by him to his feast, she never once obeyed. 193 When he bade them tell him what could be done against her according to the law, one of them, named Muchaios, said that this insulted not him alone, but all the Persians, whose relationship with their wives would go very badly if they were to be so scorned by them. 194 "No wife will have any reverence for her husband, if she sees such an example of arrogance in the queen towards you, the ruler of all." He was urged to severely punish the one who had so gravely insulted him and then publish to the nations what had been decreed about the queen. So he resolved to set Astee aside and give her dignity to another.


195 Having been in love with her, the king was not happy with the separation and yet by law could not accept a reconciliation, so he was troubled and unable to do what he wanted. When his friends saw him so distressed, they advised him to drive from his mind the memory of his wife and his love for her, 196 and send out over all the world in search of beautiful virgins and take as his wife the one he liked best, for his love for his former wife would be quenched by taking another and his love would be withdrawn from his former wife and given to the one who was with him. 197 Persuaded by this advice he ordered people to choose among the virgins in his kingdom those who were deemed the most beautiful. 198 When many had been assembled, a girl was found in Babylon whose parents were both dead, and she was reared by her uncle, named Mardochai, a man of the tribe of Benjamin and one of the leading personalities among the Jews. 199 It turned out that this girl, named Esther, was more beautiful than all the rest and the charm of her face greatly attracted the eyes of onlookers. 200 She was entrusted to the care of one of the eunuchs and, along with the other four hundred girls, was generously supplied for six months with sweet perfumes and costly ointments for anointing her body. 201 When the eunuch thought the virgins had been sufficiently purified in that time and were now fit for the king's bed, he sent one every day to be with the king. 202 When he had intercourse with her he would send her back to the eunuch. When Esther came to him, he was pleased with her and fell in love with the girl and married her and made her his lawful wife and held a wedding feast for her in the seventh year of his reign, in the twelfth month, which was called Adar. 203 He also sent messengers, the so-called angari, to every nation with orders to hold a feast for his marriage, while he himself treated the Persians and the Medes and the leaders of the nations, for a whole month. When Esther came to his royal palace he set a crown on her head. So Esther married, without telling the king what nation she came from. 204 Her uncle moved from Babylon to Susa and lived there, and was every day round the palace to ask how the girl was doing, for he loved her like his own daughter.


205 The king had made a law that none of his own people could approach him unless invited, when he sat on his throne and men with axes stood round his throne, to punish any who approached him without invitation. 206 The king sat with a golden scepter in his hand, which he held out when he wanted to spare anyone who approached him uninvited and anyone who touched it was free from danger; but enough of this matter.


207 Some time later, Bagathoos and Theodositos schemed against the king, and Barnabazus, the servant of one of the eunuchs, by birth a Jew, learned of their conspiracy and revealed it to the queen's uncle and, through Esther, Mardochai revealed the conspirators to the king. 208 The king was troubled but he uncovered the truth and crucified the eunuchs but at that time gave no reward to Mardochai for saving his life. He only bade the scribes to set down his name in the records and told him stay in the palace, as a close friend of the king.


209 A man called Haman, son of Amedathos, by birth an Amalekite, used to go in to the king and enjoyed the worship of foreigners and Persians, for Artaxerxes had ordered such honour to be paid to him 210 But Mardochai was wise and observant of his own nation's laws, so that he would not bow down before any man; and when Haman noticed it he asked where he came from, and learning that he was a Jew, was angry and said to himself that though the free Persians bowed before him, this mere slave refused to do so. 211 Wanting to punish Mardochai, he thought it too little to request the king just to penalise him alone, but decided to wipe out the whole nation, for he was naturally hostile to Jews, since the Amalekite nation from which he came had been destroyed by them. 212 So he came to the king with the accusation, "There is a certain wicked nation scattered over all the world, a nation apart, unsociable, not accepting the same divine worship as others, or laws like those of others, in their ways and practices opposed to your people and to all others. 213 If you want to do your subjects a favour, you will have them utterly destroyed without trace, leaving none of them alive, even as slaves or prisoners." 214 And so that the king might not suffer by the loss of the tributes the Jews paid to him, Haman promised him from his own estate forty thousand talents whenever he pleased, and he said he would willingly pay this money to free the kingdom from such a blight.


215 When Haman made this petition, the king waived the money and granted him leave to do what he would with those people. Having got what he wanted, Haman immediately sent out a decree to all nations, as from the king, which stated: 216 "Artaxerxes, the great king, to the satraps of the hundred twenty and seven provinces, from India to Ethiopia, writes this: As ruler of many nations and set over all the world according to my desire and not drawn by such great power to do anything insolent or cruel to my subjects, I have shown myself mild and gentle, caring for their peace and good order and wanting them to enjoy those blessings for all time. 217 Since I have been kindly told by Haman, who, for his prudence and justice, is first in my esteem and in dignity after myself and whose faithful goodwill towards me is constant, that there is scattered throughout mankind an ill-disposed nation that is averse to our laws and not subject to kings and has a lifestyle different from all others, hating monarchy and opposed to our affairs, 218 I command that all these, of whom Haman our second father has told us, be destroyed, together with their wives and children and that none of them be spared and that none show pity to them in opposition to this decree. 219 I want this carried out on the fourteenth day of the twelfth month of this present year, so that when all opposed to us are destroyed in a single day, we may from now on be let live the rest of our lives in peace." 220 When this decree was brought to city and country, all were ready to destroy and exterminate the Jews on the above-named day, and in Susa they were getting ready for it; but while the king and Haman spent their time cheerfully drinking, the city was troubled.


221 When Mardochai was told of it he rent his clothes and put on sackcloth and sprinkled ashes upon his head and went around the city, crying out, "A nation that has done no wrong is to be destroyed." He went on saying it as far as to the king's palace and stood outside it, for he was not allowed to go into it in dressed like that. 222 The same was done by all the Jews in the various cities where this decree was published, lamenting and mourning at what was proclaimed against them. When some people told the queen that Mardochai stood outside the palace dressed in mourning, she was troubled to hear it and sent people out to change his clothing. 223 But he could not be induced to put off his sackcloth, since the sad reason that forced him to wear it had not yet ceased, so she called the eunuch Achratheus who happened to be with her and sent him to Mardochai, to learn what terrible thing had happened to put him into such mourning that he would not change his robe even at her request. 224 Mardochai told the eunuch the reason for his mourning and about the decree sent by the king into the whole land and the promise of money by which Haman had asked the king for the destruction of their nation. 225 He gave him a copy of what was proclaimed at Susa, to bring to Esther, and bade her ask the king about this matter and not to think it a dishonour for her to humble herself for the safety of her nation. She should beg on behalf of the Jews, who were in danger of ruin because Haman, whose dignity was barely less than that of the king, had accused them and roused the king against them. 226 When told of this, she sent to Mardochai again pointing out that she had not been called by the king and that anyone who went in to him uncalled must die, unless he held out his golden scepter to them, wishing to spare them; if he did that, even though they went in unbidden, that person is not killed but wins pardon and is spared. 227 When Mardochai heard Esther's message from the eunuch he got him to tell her that she must not only provide for her own safety but for that of all her nation, for if she did not act now, God would help them in no other way, and she and her father's house would be destroyed by those whom she now scorned. 228 Esther sent the same eunuch back to Mardochai, sending him to Susa to gather the Jews there to a meeting and to fast and fast for her sake and that she and her girls would do the same: and then she promised to go to the king, even unlawfully and even if she must die for doing so.


229 Mardochai did as Esther bade him and got the people to fast, and with them begged God not to ignore his nation at this time when it was due to be destroyed, but as he had often before provided for them and forgiven their sins, so he would now deliver them from the destruction threatening them. 230 For it was not because of any sin that they were in dangerf of being so shamefully killed, but he himself had caused Haman's anger. "Because," he said, "I did not worship him, nor could I bear to pay him the honour I used to pay to you, O Lord, and it was his anger that made him plan this present harm against those who have not broken your laws." 231 The people made the same prayers and begged God to save them and free the Israelites in all the world from this disaster now coming upon them, for it stood before their eyes and they fully expected it. 232 So Esther prayed to God in the style of her people, lying on the ground and wearing a mourning robe and shunning food and drink and all delicacies for three days, begging God to have mercy on her and make her words persuasive to the king and her appearance more beautiful than before, 233 so that using both she might turn aside the king's anger, if he were angry at her, and bring comfort to her countrymen who were in the most extreme danger and arouse in the king a hatred towards the enemies of the Jews and those who planned their destruction, if he turned on them.


234 When she had prayed to God for three days like this, she put off that robe and changed her looks and dressed like a queen and took two of her serving girls, one of whom supported her and the other followed behind, with her fingers lifting up the train from the ground. So she came to the king with a blush on her cheeks and an expression of deference on her beautiful face. 235 She went in to him with trepidation, and when she came face to face with him as he sat on his throne in his royal robes interwoven with gold and precious stones 236 which made him seem to her more terrible, especially when he looked at her somewhat severely and with a face flushed with anger, her joints failed her from the dread she instantly felt and she fell down sideways in a swoon. 237 But the king had a change of mind, by God's will I suppose, and was anxious that his wife's fear might do her harm. 238 He jumped from his throne and took her in his arms and revived her by embracing her and speaking comforting words to her and urging her to take heart and to fear no misfortune for coming to him without being called, because that law was made for subjects, but that she, as truly a queen as he was a king, should feel entirely secure. 239 As he said this, he put the scepter into her hand and touched his staff to her neck according to the law, and so eased her fear. 240 When this revived her she said, "My lord, it is not easy for me at this moment to say what has happened, for as soon as I saw you so great and handsome and terrible, my spirit left me and I had no soul within me." 241 As it was only with difficulty and in a low voice that she could say this, the king was distressed and distraught and encouraged Esther to take heart and be more hopeful, since he was ready, if need be, to grant her the half of his kingdom. 242 Esther then asked that he and his friend Haman would come to celebrate with her, saying that she had prepared him a supper. He consented to it, and since they were there and drinking together, he demanded that Esther let him know what she wanted. 243 She would not be refused, he said, even if she asked for half of his kingdom. But she put off revealing her petition until the next day, if he would come again, along with Haman, to her banquet.


244 When the king promised to do so, Haman went off feeling glad that he alone had the honour of sharing Esther's banquet with the king and that nobody else would share this royal honour. But when he saw Mardochai in the courtyard he was very angry, for on seeing him he showed no sign of respect. 245 Going home he called his wife Gazasa and his friends and when they came told them of the honour he enjoyed not only from the king but also from the queen, for just as he had that day supped alone with her and the king, he was also invited again for the next day. 246 He said he was not pleased to see Mardochai the Jew at court, and his wife Gazasa advised him to order a fifty feet high gallows to be made and in the morning to ask the king to crucify Mardochai on it. Praising her advice he had his servants prepare the gallows and place it in the court, for the punishment of Mardochai. 247 So it was prepared; but God laughed to scorn Haman's wicked hopes, knowing what the outcome would be, and that night deprived the king of sleep. 248 Unwilling to waste the time while he lay awake and wishing to spend it on something useful to his kingdom, he ordered the scribe to bring him the chronicles of past kings and the records of his own deeds. 249 When he brought them and was reading them out, one was found whose valour in some engagement was rewarded with a country and its name was in the records; another was found to have been rewarded with gifts for his fidelity. Then the scribe came to Gabataios and Theodestes, the eunuchs whose conspiracy against the king was uncovered by Mardochai. 250 When the scribe just mentioned it and was passing on to another account, the king stopped him to ask if there was any mention of Mardochai receiving a reward; and when he replied there was not, he made him stop and asked the men assigned to it what hour of the night it was. 251 When he learned that it was almost day, he bade them tell him if they found any of his friends already arrived and standing in the courtyard. Now Haman was there, for he had come earlier than usual, to ask the king to have Mardochai put to death. 252 When the servants said that Haman was just outside he had them call him in, and said to him when he arrived, "Because I know you are my only firm friend, I want you to advise me how to honour one whom I greatly love, in a way worthy of my magnificence." 253 Now Haman reckoned that the advice he gave would apply to him, since only he was loved by the king, so he gave the advice he thought would be clearly best for himself. 254 He said, "If you would truly cover with honour the person you say you love, have him ride on horseback, clothed as you are yourself, with a gold chain around his neck, and let one of your close friends go ahead of him to proclaim throughout the city that this is the honour given to the one honoured by the king." 255 This was what Haman advised, thinking that this prize would come to himself. The king was pleased with the advice and said, "Go then, as you have the horse, the garment and the chain, and ask for Mardochai the Jew and confer those things on him and go before his horse and proclaim accordingly, for you are my close friend and have given me good advice; so carry out the service you have advised. This shall be his reward from us, for saving my life." 256 When he heard this entirely unexpected order, his mind was addled and he scarcely knew what to do. However, he went out and led the horse and got the purple garment and the golden chain for the neck and finding Mardochai in front of the palace, clothed in sackcloth, told him to put it off and put on the purple garment. 257 But he, not knowing the truth and thinking that this was just a mockery, said, "You wretch, vilest of all mankind, is this how you laugh at our troubles?" When he was satisfied that the king was granting him this honour for saving him when he convicted the eunuchs who had plotted against him, he put on the purple garment which the king regularly wore and put the chain around his neck. 258 He got on horseback and went round the city preceded by Haman who proclaimed, "This is the reward the king will bestow on one whom he loves and esteems worthy of honour." 259 When they had gone around the city, Mardochai went in to the king, but Haman went home feeling ashamed, and in tears told his wife and friends of what had happened, and they said that he could never take revenge on Mardochai, since God was with him.


260 While this conversation was going on, Esther's eunuchs hurried Haman away to the supper. 261 One of the eunuchs named Sabuchadas saw the gallows set up in Haman's house and asked one of his servants why they had prepared it. He learned that it was for the queen's uncle, as Haman had intended to ask the king to punish him, but had now stayed silent. 262 When the king and Haman were at the banquet, he bade the queen to tell him what gifts she wanted assuring her that she could have whatever she wanted. She then lamented the danger to her people and said that she and her nation were handed over to be destroyed and that that was why she made this petition. 263 She would not have troubled him if he had only ordered them sold into harsh slavery, for such a misfortune would not be intolerable, but she wanted them saved from death. 264 When the king asked her who had done this she accused Haman and publicly named that evil man as the instigator of this plot against them. 265 When the king was troubled about this and quickly left the banquet to go into the gardens, Haman began to intercede with Esther, begging her to forgive the wrong he had done, for he knew the trouble he was in. As he leaned over the queen's bed imploring her, the king entered and was still more furious at what he saw. "Wretched villain" he said, "are you trying to rape my wife?" 266 At this Haman was stunned and unable to say a word, but Sabuchadas the eunuch came in to accuse him and said he had found a gallows at his house, prepared for Mardochai, because a servant had told him when he was sent to call him to supper. He added that the gallows was fifty feet high. 267 When the king heard this, he decided that Haman be punished in the same way as he had planned for Mardochai, so immediately he ordered him to be hung upon that cross and so put to death. 268 This makes me admire God's wisdom and justice, not only in punishing Haman's ill-will, but in arranging for him to suffer the very same penalty he had planned for another, thereby teaching us that whatever evils one prepares against another, he plans against himself.


269 In this way Haman, who abused the honour he had received from the king, was destroyed, and the king granted his estate to the queen. He also called for Mardochai, when Esther told him that she was related to him, and gave him the ring he had earlier given to Haman. 270 The queen gave Haman's estate to Mardochai, and prayed the king to save the Jewish nation from the fear of death, showing him what had been written to all the land by Haman the son of Ammedatha. For if her nation were destroyed and her countrymen killed, she herself could not bear to live any longer. 271 The king promised not to do anything against her, or to refuse whatever she wanted, but invited her to write her wishes regarding the Jews, in the king's name, and seal it with his seal and send it to all his kingdom. Nobody reading such letters whose authority is secured by the king's seal would in any way oppose what was written there. 272 He had the royal scribes sent for, to write on the Jews' behalf to the nations and to his lieutenants and governors of his hundred and twenty-seven provinces, from India to Ethiopia. 273 The contents of this letter were : "Great king Artaxerxes, to our officers and faithful subjects, greetings. Many there are who, despite the great benefits given to them and the honour they have obtained by the favour of their benefactors, not only harm their inferiors, 274 but do not scruple to do harm their benefactors, as though to abolish gratitude from the human race. By abusing such undeserved benefits, they turn their plenty against those who gave it and think they can hide from God and avoid his vengeance. 275 Some of these entrusted by their friends with leadership, have borne secret malice and deceived those in power, bring down anger upon people who have done them no harm, and by accusations and calumnies putting them in danger of death. 276 This is not ancient history that we have learned only by report, but such shameless things were done under our own eyes. No longer should we attend to calumnies and accusations, or the persuasion of others, but each should decide what he knows to be real facts, and punish what justly deserves it and to help people who are innocent. 277 This was the case with Haman, son of Amadatha, by birth an Amalekite and not of Persian stock, who, though welcomed by us and enjoying our goodwill to the point that I called him "my father" and had him revered and honoured by all, second only to the royal honour due to ourselves. But he could not carry his good fortune properly, nor govern the scale of his prosperity. 278 Instead, he conspired against my very life, who had granted him his authority, by trying to destroy my benefactor and saviour, Mardochai, and seeking basely and treacherously to destroy Esther, the partner of my life and kingdom. In this way he sought to deprive me of my faithful friends and transfer the leadership to others. 279 Now since I see that these Jews, whom this wretch doomed to destruction, were not bad people, but live a good life dedicated to the worship of the God who has preserved the kingdom to me and to my ancestors, not only do I exempt them from the punishment ordered in the former letter, sent by Haman, and you had better disregard. 280 I want them to be paid every honour and have hanged before the gates of Susa the man who planned such things against them, along with his family, a punishment sent him by God, who sees all things. 281 I also require you to publicly display a copy of this letter through all my kingdom, that the Jews may be allowed to follow their own laws in peace and that you help them, that just as they were about to suffer, now they be protected from injustice, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is Adar. 282 For God has made that day for them a day of salvation instead of destruction, and may it be a good day for those who wish us well and a memorial of the punishment of those who conspired against us. 283 Take note, that any city or nation that disobeys the contents of this letter shall be destroyed by fire and sword. Let this letter be published through all the region under our obedience and let all the Jews be ready on the above-named day to avenge themselves upon their enemies."


284 The horsemenn bearing the letters immediately sped on their ways as directed. Then Mardochai put on the royal garment and the crown of gold and the chain about his neck and went out in a public procession, and when the Jews in Susa saw him so honoured by the king, they felt that they shared in his good fortune themselves. 285 At the publication of the king's letters a joyful glow of salvation bathed the Jews, both those in the cities and those throughout the land, and even in other nations many had their foreskins circumcised for fear of the Jews, to ensure their own safety. 286 For on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which among the Hebrews is called Adar, but Dystrus among the Macedonians, the bearers of the king's letter announced that the day when they were to have been wiped out was the very day when they could destroy their enemies. 287 The officers of the satrapies and the tyrants and the kings and the scribes esteemed the Jews, for their fear of Mardochai made them act prudently. 288 When the royal decree came to all the territory subject to the king, the Jews at Susa killed five hundred of their enemies. 289 Though the king told Esther the number of those killed in that city, he did not clearly know what had been done in the provinces so he asked if she wished anything further done against them and it would be done. She asked that the Jews be allowed to similarly treat their remaining enemies on the next day, and crucify the ten sons of Haman. 290 Not wishing to oppose Esther, the king let the Jews do so, and they assembled again on the fourteenth day of the month Dystrus and killed about three hundred of their enemies, but did not touch any their possessions. 291 Seventy-five thousand of their enemies were killed by the Jews in the provinces and in the other cities on the thirteenth day of the month and they held a festival the next day. 292 Likewise the Jews in Susa gathered to celebrate on the fourteenth day and the following one. This is why even now all the Jews that are in the world keep festival on these days and send gifts to each other. 293 Mardochai also wrote to the Jews in the kingdom of Artaxerxes to observe these days and celebrate them as festivals and pass them it to their descendants that this festival should continue forever and never be lost to mind. 294 Since on these days they were due to be wiped out by Haman, it was fitting that the days when they escaped the danger and punished their enemies be observed in thanksgiving to God. 295 So the Jews still keep those days and call them the Phrourea. and Mardochai became a great celebrity with the king and helped him to rule and enjoyed the queen's company. 296 Through them the affairs of the Jews were improved beyond all their hopes; such was the state of their affairs under the reign of Artaxerxes.

Chapter 7. [297-303]
Murderous rivalry about the high-priesthood. The harm done by Bagoses, a general of Artaxerxes.


297 When the high priest Eliasib died, his son Judas succeeded in the high priesthood, and when he died that dignity passed to his son John, whose fault it was that Bagoses, an army general of the other Artaxerxes, polluted the temple and imposed a tax on the Jews, that before offering the daily sacrifices they must pay fifty shekels for every lamb, from the public funds. The reason for this was as follows. 298 John's brother Joshua was a friend of Bagoses, who had promised to obtain him the high priesthood. 299 Confident of his support, Joshua quarreled with John in the temple and so provoked his brother that in his anger he killed him - a horrible crime for the high priest John to commit against his brother in the temple, more cruel and impious than was ever done either by the Greeks or the Barbarians. 300 But God did not fail to punish it and the people were enslaved on account of it and the temple was polluted by the Persians. When Bagoses, the general of Artaxerxes's army, knew that the Jewish high priest John had killed his brother Joshua in the temple, he immediately came upon the Jews and angrily began to say to them, "How dare you commit murder in your temple?" 301 As he was trying to enter the temple, they stopped him but he asked them, "Am I not purer than the man who was killed in the temple?" and with these words entered the temple. So Bagoses used this pretext to punish the Jews for seven years for the murder of Joshua.


302 When John had departed this life, his son Jaddous succeeded in the high priesthood. He had a brother named Manasses, who had links with Sanballet, a Cuthean by birth, the same stock as the Samaritans, was was sent into Samaria by the last king, Darius. 303 He knew that Jerusalem was a famous city and that their kings had given lots of trouble to the Assyrians and the people of Coele-Syria, so he willingly gave his daughter Nicaso to Manasses in marriage, thinking that the marriage would confirm the Jewish nation's goodwill towards him.

Chapter 8. [304-347]
The Samaritan Temple, on Mount Garizim. Conquests of Alexander [the Great]
of Macedon. Successors to his Kingdom


304 About this time king Philip of Macedon was treacherously attacked and killed at Egae by Pausanias, son of Cerastes, of the family of Oreste. 305 His son Alexander succeeded to his kingdom and, crossing the Hellespont, overcame the generals of Darius's army in a battle fought at Granicum. He marched via Lydia and subdued Ionia and overran Caria and attacked the places of Pamphylia, as we have said before.


306 Now the elders in Jerusalem were upset that the brother of Jaddous the high priest, although married to a foreigner, shared the high priesthood with him, and so rose up against him. 307 They thought that this marriage would encourage others to transgress and would start a trend of having intercourse with foreign women. 308 Since this abuse whereby some had married wives that were not of their own country, had caused their former captivity and the woes they then endured, so they ordered Manasses to divorce his wife or not to approach the altar. 309 Even the high priest joined in the popular anger and drove his brother from the altar. So Manasses came to Sanballat his father-in-law, and told him that although he loved his daughter Nicaso, he was unwilling on account of her to lose the priestly dignity, the highest in their nation, which had always been retained in his family. 310 Sanballat promised that if he would marry his daughter not only to maintain his priesthood but he would win for him the power and dignity of high priest and make him ruler of all the places now ruled by himself. He also said that he would build him a temple like that in Jerusalem, upon Mount Garizim, the highest of the mountains in Samaria. 311 He promised to do this with the approval of king Darius and Manasses was buoyed up by these promises and stayed with Sanballat, thinking to gain the high priesthood from Darius, since Sanballat was already old. 312 There was now a great unease in Jerusalem, since many of the priests and Israelites were entangled in such marriages. They all apostasised to Manasses, and Sanballat gave them money and shared out tillage land and dwellings among them and did everything possible to gratify his son-in-law.


313 About this time Darius heard how Alexander had crossed the Hellespont and defeated his lieutenants in the battle at Granicum and was proceeding further, so he gathered an army of cavalry and infantry and decided to meet the Macedonians before they attacked and conquered all of Asia. 314 He crossed the river Euphrates and the Cilician Mount Taurus and waited for the enemy at Issus of Cilicia, intending to meet them in battle. 315 Sanballat was glad when Darius went there, and immediately told Manasses that he would fulfil his promises to him as soon as Darius returned from defeating his enemies; for not alone he, but everyone in Asia, thought that the Macedonians would not even come to grips with the Persians, due to their numbers. 316 But it turned out differently than they expected, for when the king fought the Macedonians he was defeated and lost most of his army, and leaving his mother and his wife and children to be taken captive, he fled into Persia. 317 Alexander came into Syria and took Damascus, and after defeating Sidon he besieged Tyre. Then he sent a letter to the Jewish high priest asking him to send him some support and to supply his army with provisions, and to send him the gifts he had formerly sent to Darius, saying that if he elected to side with the Macedonians he would never repent of doing so. 318 But the high priest answered the letter-bearers that he had sworn his oath to Darius not to bear arms against him, and that he would not transgress this while Darius was in the land of the living. 319 On hearing this, Alexander was very angry and though he decided not to leave Tyre, as it was on the point of being taken, he threatened that as soon as he captured it he would make war on the Jewish high priest and so teach all, to whom they must keep their oaths! 320 He took Tyre, at the cost of much effort during the siege, and after settling matters there he came to the city of Gaza and besieged both the city and the ruler of its garrison, named Babemeses.


321 Sanballat saw this as a good chance to revolt, and repudiated Darius and taking seven thousand of his subjects, came to Alexander at the start of the siege of Tyre, saying that he would bring over to him these subjects of his and gladly take him as master instead of king Darius. 322 Being well received by him, Sanballat ventured to speak about his present concern: that he had a son-in-law, Manasses, a brother of the high priest Jaddous, and that besides him there were many others of his nation who wished to have a temple in the places subject to him. 323 It would benefit the king if the strength of the Jews were divided in two, for when the nation is of one mind and united, if they ever revolt it is more troublesome for their rulers, as it was for the kings of Assyria in the past. 324 So Alexander gave Sanballat permission and he built the temple with all speed and made Manasses its priest and considered it a great thing for his daughter's children to have that dignity. 325 But Sanballat died after the seven months of the siege of Tyre and the two months of the siege of Gaza, and after taking Gaza, Alexander hurried up to the city of Jerusalem. 326 When he heard this, the high priest Jaddous was frantic with fear, not knowing how to meet the Macedonians, since the king was displeased at his earlier disobedience. So he got the people to pray and join him in sacrificing to God, whom he begged to protect the nation and save them from their impending dangers. 327 In a dream which came to him after he had sacrificed, God told him to take heart and adorn the city and open its crowned gates, and have the rest of the people dress up in white while he and the priests should meet the king in their official vestments without fear, for the providence of God would protect them. 328 When he rose from his sleep, he was greatly heartened and declared to all the message he had received from God. He did all that the dream suggested and so waited for the king's arrival.


329 Hearing that he was not far from the city, he went out in procession with the priests and the throng of the citizens, in a venerable procession, different from the way of other nations, to meet him at a place called Sapha. The name, translated into Greek, means a prospect, for from it one can see both Jerusalem and the temple. 330 When his Phoenician and Chaldean followers thought that due to the king's wrath they would be allowed to loot the city and torture the high priest to death, the opposite occurred, 331 for, on seeing the people in the distance, clothed in white and the priests clothed in fine linen and the high priest robed in purple and scarlet, with his mitre on his head, and the gold breastplate on which the name of God was engraved, Alexander approached by himself and adored the name and first greeted the high priest. 332 All together, with one voice, the Jews greeted Alexander and gathered round him; and the kings of Syria and the rest were surprised at what the king had done and though him crazy in mind. 333 Parmenio alone went up to him and asked how it was that, when all others adored him, he should adore the high priest of the Jews? He replied, "I did not adore him, but the God who has honoured him with his high priesthood. 334 For in a dream I saw this man, dressed like this, when I was at Dios in Macedonia, and as I was considering withing myself how to obtain the dominion of Asia, he urged me to make no delay, but to cross the sea boldly, for he would guide my army and give me mastery over the Persians. 335 For this reason, having seen no one else in that vestment and now seeing this man in it, and remembering the vision and the urging in my dream, I believe it is under divine guidance that I bring this army and with it shall conquer Darius and destroy the power of the Persians and that all will succeed according to my mind." 336 When he had said this to Parmenio and had shaken the hand of the high priest, he came into the city with the Jews running alongside him. When he went up into the temple, he offered sacrifice to God, according to the high priest's direction and treated both the high priest and the priests handsomely. 337 When he was shown the Book of Daniel which declares that one of the Greeks would destroy the empire of the Persians, he thought it applied himself and in his joy he dismissed the people, but the next day he called them and told them to ask him for whatever favours they pleased. 338 When the high priest asked that they should follow their ancestral laws and pay no tax on the seventh year, he granted all they wanted; and when they implored him to let the Jews in Babylon and Media enjoy their own laws also, he willingly promised to do later what they wanted. 339 When he told the people that if any of them enlisted in his army, on condition that they could keep their ancestral laws and live by them, he wanted to take them with him, many were glad to join him in his campaign.


340 When Alexander had so settled matters in Jerusalem, he led his army into the neighbouring cities and all those to whom he came received him warmly, and the Samaritans, whose capital was then Sikima beside Mount Garizim, settled by apostates from the Jewish nation, seeing that Alexander had so greatly honoured the Jews, decided to profess themselves Jews. 341 Such is the nature of the Samaritans, as already said elsewhere, that when the Jews are in difficulties, they deny that they are related to them (acknowledging the truth,) but when they notice good fortune coming to them, they immediately want to share it, by claiming descent from Joseph's children, Ephraim and Manasses. 342 They greeted the king in festive eagerness, meeting him at a short distance from Jerusalem. When Alexander praised them, the Sikimites approached him, bringing the troops that Sanballat had sent him and asking him to come to their city and show honour to their temple too. 343 He promised, to come to them on his return journey, and when they implored him to absolve them of the tax each seventh year, since on it they only sowed, he asked who they were to make such a petition. 344 When they said they were Hebrews living at Sikima, but called by the name of Sidonians, he asked them again if they were Jews. When they said they were not he replied, "It was to the Jews that I granted that privilege. But when I return and you tell me more fully about this matter, I will do what I think right," and so he took leave of the Sikimites. 345 He ordered the troops of Sanballat to follow him into Egypt because he planned to give them lands there, which he did a little later in the Thebaid, leaving them as garrison to that land.


346 When Alexander died, his domain was divided among his successors, but the temple remained on Mount Garizim there, and anyone accused by people in Jerusalem of eating unclean foods or of breaking the sabbath, or of any other similar crime, would flee to the Sikimites and claimed to be unjustly accused. 347 About this time the high priest Jaddous died and his son Onias took over the high priesthood. Such was the state of the affairs of the Jerusalemites at this time.