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[55] And when the princes and rulers looked one upon another, he began to speak about truth; and he said, "I have already demonstrated how powerful women are; but both these women themselves, and the king himself, are weaker than truth; for although the earth be large, and the heaven high, and the course of the sun swift, yet are all these moved according to the will of God, who is true and righteous, for which cause we also ought to esteem truth to be the strongest of all things, and that what is unrighteous is of no force against it. Moreover, all things else that have any strength are mortal and short-lived, but truth is a thing that is immortal and eternal. It affords us not indeed such a beauty as will wither away by time, nor such riches as may be taken away by fortune, but righteous rules and laws. It distinguishes them from injustice, and puts what is unrighteous to rebuke." 1

1 The reader is to note, that although the speeches or papers of these three of the king's guard are much the same, in our Third Book of Esdras, ch. 3. and 4., as they are here in Josephus, yet that the introduction of them is entirely different, while in our Esdras the whole is related as the contrivance of the three of the king's guards themselves; and even the mighty rewards are spoken of as proposed by themselves, and the speeches are related to have been delivered by themselves to the king in writing, while all is contrary in Josephus. I need not say whose account is the most probable, the matters speak for themselves; and there can be no doubt but Josephus's history is here to be very much preferred before the other. Nor indeed does it seem to me at all unlikely that the whole was a contrivance of king Darius's own, in order to be decently and inoffensively put in mind by Zorobabel of fulfilling his old vow for the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple, and the restoration of the worship of the "one true God" there. Nor does the full meaning of Zorobabel, when he cries out, 3 Esd. 4. 41), "Blessed be the God of truth ;" and here, "God is true and righteous;" or even of all the people, 3 Esd. 4. 41, "Great is truth, and mighty above all things ;" seem to me much different from this, "There is but one true God, the God of Israel." To which doctrine, such as Cyrus and Darius; etc., the Jews' great patrons, seem not to have been very averse, though the entire idolatry of their kingdoms made them generally conceal it.

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