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The Apocryphal Old Testament Collection of the most important non-canonical Old Testament books designed for general use.

Chapter XX

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Text Commentary

1And behold, an aged man, one of the craftsmen, threw himself down before me saying, King Solomon, son of David, have pity on my old age. And I said to him, Tell me, old man, what it is you want. 2He said, I appeal to you, O king. I have an only son, and every day he makes some kind of attack on me; for he has hit me in the face and on the head and threatens to murder me. This is why I have come to you so that you may avenge me. 3When I heard this, I gave orders that his son should be brought to me. When he came, I said to him, Is this the truth about you? 4And he said, O king, I must have been out of my mind to frighten my father in the way I have. 1 Lit. ‘I have been full mad to make my father quake through my hand.’ Be merciful to me, O king, for such irregular behaviour makes a sorry story. 2 Lit. ‘for it would be contrary to what is established to hear such a parable and distress’. 5So when I, Solomon, had heard the young man, I urged the old man to think it over. But he was unwilling to and said, He should be put to death.

6And when I saw that the demon Ornias laughed, I was very angry at his laughing in my presence; and I put the other aside and ordered Ornias to come, and I said to him, Accursed one, how dare you laugh at me? 7He said, I appeal to you, O king. It was not because of you that I laughed, but because of the unfortunate old man and the wretched youth, his son; for in three days he will be dead, and behold, the old man wants to put him to a painful death. And I said, Is this really so? 8,9The demon said, Yes, O king. And I ordered the demon to stand aside, and the old man and his son to come, and I ordered them to become friends. 10And I said to the old man, In three days bring your son to me here. They did obeisance and departed.

11And I gave orders that Ornias should be brought to me again, and I said to him, Tell me how you know this, that in three days the young man will be dead. 12And he said, We demons mount upon the vault of heaven and fly amid the stars, and we hear the decrees that come forth from God and that relate to the lives of men. 13Then we go, and whether by force of influence, or by fire, or by sword, or by mishap, we disguise ourselves and destroy. 14And I asked him, Tell me, then, how is it that you demons are able to go up into heaven. 15He said to me, Whatever is done to perfection in heaven, so also is it upon earth; for the rulers and authorities and powers fly above and are thought worthy of entrance to heaven. 16But we demons get exhausted, for we have no foothold for ascending or resting, and we fall away like leaves from trees, and the men that see it think stars are falling from heaven. 17It is not so, O king: we fall because of our weakness; and, because we have no support from any quarter, we fall down like lightnings upon the earth, and burn up cities, and set fields on fire. But the stars of heaven are secure in the vault of heaven. 18When I, Solomon, heard this, I ordered the demon to be kept under guard for five days.

19After the five days were over I summoned the old man, and he was unwilling to come. Then he came, and I saw he was broken and miserable. 20And I said to him, Where is your son, old man? He said, I am now childless, O king, and I, without hope, keep watch by my son's tomb. 21When I, Solomon, heard this, and knew that what had been told me by the demon was true, I glorified the God of heaven and earth.

Notes:

1 Lit. ‘I have been full mad to make my father quake through my hand.’

2 Lit. ‘for it would be contrary to what is established to hear such a parable and distress’.

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