Chronicles of Jerahmeel, by M. Gaster , at sacred-texts.com
LXXV. (1) And the first answered and said, 'O my lord the king, princes and mighty men, do ye not know the power of the king and the strength of his dominion over all the earth, over the sea, the isles, and over all languages? to slay or to keep alive? If he commands an army to march forth, they march forth armed; they turn not their heads, though they may stand face to face with death. If he command them to overthrow cities, they overthrow them; if to hew down mountains, or to pull down walls, they obey. If he command them to plough for him, they plough; they sow and reap his produce, for they fear the wrath of the king, who is mighty and lord over all, and no one dares frustrate his word; therefore believe ye my words that there is no one on earth so powerful as a king.' All the bystanders were astonished at his speech.
(2) The second now replied, saying, 'Though ye know the power of a king and the strength of his might, for he has dominion and rules over the land; yet wine is stronger than a king. It is true he has great power, but as soon as he drinks freely of wine, it overpowers him and inclines his heart to other things, he sings, plays and dances, for his heart is turned by the wine, so that he repulses his kin, approaches strangers, slays his friends, and confers honour upon strangers, and respects neither his father nor mother. (3) Do ye not know that such is the power of wine, when a man is drunk he cannot learn, but is rather prone to singing; he whispers to his neighbour and reveals secrets, and hidden things drop out of his mouth. Men full of sorrow the wine makes glad,
and even if mourners and those whose hearts are grieved drink thereof, they rejoice and are merry. The drunken one draws his sword against his neighbour, and he gets fierce, and bashful men it makes bold. But when the wine has disappeared from them, they have forgotten all, and say, "We have not done this thing." Is thus wine not stronger than a king, as it rules over him; it makes man walk crookedly, he cannot see straight, and he continues babbling things which he has not learned. Do ye not think that wine is therefore more powerful than a king, for such it does?' Thereat the men were greatly surprised.
(4) After that the king summoned Zerubbabel, and said, 'Tell me, I pray thee, thy riddle and its interpretation, as thy friends have done.' And he answered and said, 'Give ear and hearken unto me, O king and princes, governors and rulers, and all ye who stand here. Indeed, the king is stronger and greater than all; it is true that wine weakens the king through its strength. as my friends have said. Thus the power of both the king and wine cannot be denied; but woman is yet more powerful than either king or wine or any other strong drink. For why should she not be more powerful than the king? Did she not give birth to him, suckle him, sustain him, rear him, clothe him, wash him, and sometimes chastise him? Did she not rule over him as a mother does the child of her womb? When she was angry with him, did he not fear her rebuke? Did she not sometimes beat him and at other times censure him? If she lifted the rod to him, did he not run away from her in fear of her? Moreover, when he grows up to be a young man, he cannot forget his instructress, nor will rebel against her call. He always respects her as a son honours her who conceived him.
(5) 'Then looking about him, he beholds a woman fair to look upon, and desires her beauty to sport with. His heart inclines towards her, and he will not change his love for her for all the riches. It is then that he leaves his father and mother, forsaking them for her love and her beauty, and many are they that have been led astray
through the love of woman; many are they that have acted foolishly, and become mad for her sake; and many that have met their death for the sake of woman, and have fallen for her pride down into hell. Wise men also have been caught in her net, and much hatred has the frivolous one caused among brothers. Do ye not know and understand that if a man sees a comely woman, and he carries in his hands goodly things, will not his eyes gaze upon her, for his heart inclines towards her? If she answers him when he speaks to her on account of her beauty, will he not leave everything that he keeps in his hands to speak to her? for his heart is drawn near to her.
(6) 'Who is there that will not believe this, and confess the truth of this power of woman? Tell me, for whom do ye steal, for whom do ye rob, and for whom do ye gird yourselves—is it not for woman? Is it not for her that ye buy all the precious ornaments? is not the myrrh and the aloe for her? are not all the spices, perfumed oils, and frankincense for her? If a man break into a house, if he keeps the high roads, goes on the sea, on dry land, on the mountains; if he fight, commit murder, rob, plunder, and shed blood, to whom will he bring his spoil, if not to woman? Have I not seen the concubine of the King Apumaṣia (###), the daughter of Abyaush (###) of Makeden, take the crown of honour from off the king's head and place it on her own head, while he was seated on the throne beside her, and the king was pleased with her? But when she became angry, did not the king then hasten to appease her, and to reconcile her, and remove her anger?
(7) 'Who, then, is there that will not believe that woman's power is stronger than everything? She subdued Samson, enticed David, and inclined the heart of Solomon towards her. Many are her captives, and innumerable are those that are slain through her, and their number increases. And even if there be one man who rules the whole world, and before whose wrath all people tremble and shake, since he would be supreme, and although man is appointed
to be the prince, ruler, and king over her, and to her is given the desire of him, yet not even he would be able to conquer her and to rule over her. Even Adam, the father of all mankind, was induced by his wife to transgress the word of God, by which she destined him and his offspring to death. Also, in the days of Noah, the heavenly angels were led astray and took to them women. Who does not believe that this is known from the very beginning of the world, and will last to the end unaltered? This is the truth that I utter.
(8) 'Now, finally, let it be known to the king and to all my hearers that all is vanity here—the king who rules the earth, the wine that rules the king, and woman with her iniquity, who rules the three; but truth reigns supreme in heaven and on earth; in the seas and in the depths truth prevails before God and man; for where truth dwells there wickedness cannot abide, for the heavens and the earth are founded upon truth, and the Lord our God is true for ever.'
(9) After this all the people assembled there before the king exclaimed, 'It is true.' Then said the king to Zerubbabel, 'Come near to me.' When he approached, the king kissed him and embraced him in the presence of all the people, and said, 'Blessed be the Lord God of Zerubbabel, who hath given him the spirit of truth, for there is nothing like God's truth; everything else is vanity.' And the princes also exclaimed, 'Indeed, truth is greater than all things; nor can one stand up against it since it dwells in the heaven and in the earth, and upon it is everything based. True is the God of Zerubbabel, who hath given him the spirit of truth to praise and to glorify truth before God and man.'