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AND THE SYRIANS' FLIGHT.

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chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host : and they said one to another, “ Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us.” Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life. And when these lepers came to the uttermost part of the camp, they went into one tent, and did eat and drink, and carried thence silver, and gold, and raiment, and went and hid it; and came again, and entered into another tent, and carried thence also, and went and hid it. Then they said one to another, “ We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace: if we tarry till the morning light, some mischief will come upon us : now therefore come, that we may go and tell the king's household.” So they came and called unto the porter of the city : and they told them, saying, “ We came to the camp of the Syrians, and, behold, there was no man there, neither voice of man, but horses tied, and asses tied, and the tents as they were.” And he called the porters; and they told it to the king's house within. And the king arose in the night, and said unto his servants, “I will now show you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we be hungry; therefore are they gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the field, saying, When they come out of the city, we shall catch them alive, and get into the city.” And one of his servants answered and said, “Let some take, I pray thee, five of the horses that remain, which are left in the city, (behold, they are as all the multitude of Israel that are left in it: behold, I say, they are even as all the multitude of the Israelites that are consumed :) and let us send and see.” They took therefore two chariot horses; and the king sent after the host of the Syrians, saying, “ Go and see.” And they went after them unto Jordan : and, lo, all the way was full of garments and vessels, which the Syrians had cast away in their haste. And the messengers returned, and told the king. And the people went out, and spoiled the tents of the Syrians. So a measure of fine flour was sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the Lord. And the king appointed the lord on whose hand he leaned, to have the charge of the gate: and the people trode upon him in the gate, and he died, as the man of God had said, who spake when the king came down to him. And it came to pass as the man of God had spoken to the king, saying, “Two measures of barley for a shekel, and a measure of fine flour for a shekel, shall be to-morrow about this time in the gate of Samaria :” and that lord answered the man of God, and said, “ Now, behold, if the Lord should make windows in heaven, might such a thing be?” And he said, “Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof." And so it fell out unto him : for the people trode upon him in the gate, and he died.

The Story of Esther,

(From the Book of ESTHER.)

AHASUERUS reigned from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and twenty and seven provinces. And he sat on his throne in Shushan, the palace, and made a great feast unto all the people that were in the palace, both unto great and small, seven days, in the court of the garden of the palace, which was hung with white, green, and blue hangings, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble: the couches were of gold and silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black, marble. And they gave them drink in vessels of gold, (the vessels being diverse one from another,) and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king.

Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to king Ahasuerus.

On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded the seven chamberlains that served in his presence to bring Vashti the queen before him, with the crown royal, to show the people and the princes her beauty ; for she was fair to look on. But the queen, Vashti, refused to come at the king's commandment: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him. Then the king said to the wise men which sat first in the kingdom, “What shall we do unto queen Vashti, because she hath not performed the commandment of the king.” And Memucan answered before the king, and the princes, “ Vashti, the queen, hath not done wrong unto the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that are in the provinces of the king Ahasuerus. For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands; and when it shall be reported that king Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not, likewise shall the ladies of Persia and India say unto all the king's princes which have heard the deed of the queen. Thus shall there arise too much contempt and wrath. If it please the king, let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it be not altered, “That Vashti come no more before king Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal estate unto another that is better than she. And when the king's decree which he shall make shall be published throughout all his empire, (for it is great,) all the wives shall give to their husbands honor, both to great and small.” And the saying pleased the king and the princes; and the king did according to the word of Memucan: for he sent letters into all the king's provinces, into every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language, that

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every man should bear rule in his own house, and that it should be published according to the language of every people.

After these things, when the wrath of king Ahasuerus was appeased, his servants said unto him, “Let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace; and let the maiden which pleaseth the king be queen instead of Vashti.” And the thing pleased the king, and he did so.

Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew whose name was Mordecai, and he had brought up Esther, his uncle's daughter; for she had neither father nor mother; and Mordecai, when her father and mother died, took her for his own daughter. And the maid was fair and beautiful; and when the king's commandment and decree were heard ; and when many maidens were gathered together in Shushan the palace, Esther was brought thither also. And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all them that looked upon her. And the king preferred her above all other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.

In those days Mordecai sat in the king's gate, and two of the king's chamberlains which kept the door were wroth, and sought to lay hands on the king Ahasuerus. And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told it unto Esther the queen; and Esther certified the king thereof in Mordecai's name. And when inquisition was made of the matter, it was found out;

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