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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

Chapter 4

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1In every place, then, where this decree arrived, a feast at public expense was arranged for the Gentiles with shouts and gladness, for the inveterate enmity that had long ago been in their minds was now made evident and outspoken. 2But among the Jews there was incessant mourning, lamentation, and tearful cries; everywhere their hearts were burning, and they groaned because of the unexpected destruction that had suddenly been decreed for them. 3What district or city, or what habitable place at all, or what streets were not filled with mourning and wailing for them? 4For with such a harsh and ruthless spirit were they being sent off, all together, by the generals in the several cities, that at the sight of their unusual punishments, even some of their enemies, perceiving the common object of pity before their eyes, reflected on the uncertainty of life and shed tears at the most miserable expulsion of these people. 5For a multitude of gray‐headed old men, sluggish and bent with age, was being led away, forced to march at a swift pace by the violence with which they were driven in such a shameful manner. 6And young women who had just entered the bridal chamber b Gk Sanabassarus to share married life exchanged joy for wailing, their myrrh‐perfumed hair sprinkled with ashes, and were carried away unveiled, all together raising a lament instead of a wedding song, as they were torn by the harsh treatment of the heathen. c Other ancient authorities read of Cyrus 7In bonds and in public view they were violently dragged along as far as the place of embarkation. 8Their husbands, in the prime of youth, their necks encircled with ropes instead of garlands, spent the remaining days of their marriage festival in lamentations instead of good cheer and youthful revelry, seeing death immediately before them. d Other authorities read passage 9They were brought on board like wild animals, driven under the constraint of iron bonds; some were fastened by the neck to the benches of the boats, others had their feet secured by unbreakable fetters, 10and in addition they were confined under a solid deck, so that, with their eyes in total darkness, they would undergo treatment befitting traitors during the whole voyage.

11When these people had been brought to the place called Schedia, and the voyage was concluded as the king had decreed, he commanded that they should be enclosed in the hippodrome that had been built with a monstrous perimeter wall in front of the city, and that was well suited to make them an obvious spectacle to all coming back into the city and to those from the city e Gk he going out into the country, so that they could neither communicate with the king's forces nor in any way claim to be inside the circuit of the city. a Other authorities read stated above or added in writing 12And when this had happened, the king, hearing that the Jews’ compatriots from the city frequently went out in secret to lament bitterly the ignoble misfortune of their kindred, 13ordered in his rage that these people be dealt with in precisely the same fashion as the others, not omitting any detail of their punishment. 14The entire race was to be registered individually, not for the hard labor that has been briefly mentioned before, but to be tortured with the outrages that he had ordered, and at the end to be destroyed in the space of a single day. 15The registration of these people was therefore conducted with bitter haste and zealous intensity from the rising of the sun until its setting, coming to an end after forty days but still uncompleted.

16The king was greatly and continually filled with joy, organizing feasts in honor of all his idols, with a mind alienated from truth and with a profane mouth, praising speechless things that are not able even to communicate or to come to one's help, and uttering improper words against the supreme God. b Meaning of Gk uncertain 17But after the previously mentioned interval of time the scribes declared to the king that they were no longer able to take the census of the Jews because of their immense number, 18though most of them were still in the country, some still residing in their homes, and some at the place; c Gk the first the task was impossible for all the generals in Egypt. 19After he had threatened them severely, charging that they had been bribed to contrive a means of escape, he was clearly convinced about the matter 20when they said and proved that both the paper d Gk him and the pens they used for writing had already given out. 21But this was an act of the invincible providence of him who was aiding the Jews from heaven.

Notes:

a Gk Sanabassarus

b Other ancient authorities read of Cyrus

c Other authorities read passage

a Gk he

b Other authorities read stated above or added in writing

a Meaning of Gk uncertain

b Gk the first

c Gk him

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