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Chronicles of Jerahmeel, by M. Gaster [1899], at


LXV. (1) There dwelt a man in Babylon named Jehoiachin, and he took a wife whose name was Susanna, one that feared the Lord. She was the daughter of righteous and good parents, who brought her up in the ways of the Lord, according to the precepts of the law of Moses. Now, this man Jehoiachin was greater and more respected than any of his generation. To him all the Jews resorted daily, for no one like him was found among God's people. He had a beautiful garden adjoining his house, where his wife Susanna used to retire for bathing. (2) At this time two judges were appointed over the people, who came in the early morning and evening to Jehoiachin's house to deliver

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judgment to the people. But when they beheld the beautiful Susanna their lust was inflamed towards her. They renounced their hope in heavenly reward, and, whilst separating themselves from the righteous, yet neither one revealed to the other the evil thought of his heart. But when the crowd had dispersed to their homes, they spoke to each other, and then, confessing their lust to each other, they took counsel together in which way they might lead her astray, and, watching diligently every day to defile her, they neither stopped nor rested from their sin.

(3) One day when all the people had departed to their homes they remained behind according to custom, nor did they remove the evil of their heart, but lay in wait to commit the evil. When Susanna entered the garden accompanied by her maids to wash herself on account of the heat, she sent them to bring her some oil wherewith to anoint herself, at the same time telling them to close the door behind them. When they went out they accordingly bolted the doors after them, but the old men were concealed in the beautiful garden, and when she stripped to wash they ran out of their hiding-place, and, taking hold of her, said, 'Lie with us, for if thou wilt not consent we shall bear witness against thee that a young man has lain with thee.' In fear and trembling she then said, 'What am I to do? I cannot escape these men. It is better for me to resign myself to the Lord, the righteous, the good, the great, the mighty, and the awe-inspiring God, the Deliverer, Saviour, and mighty Redeemer, whose name is the Lord of Hosts.' (4) Then, raising her voice on high, she cried, 'Save me, O Lord my God, from the hands of the wicked who rebel against Thee.' But they also cried aloud, and bore false witness against her. At their cry the men of her house came forth, and, entering the garden, beheld the elders bearing this testimony against her, and they and all their kindred were astonished, since they knew that the like of this was not seen or heard of her.

(5) On the morrow all the people gathered together to the house of Jehoiachin according to their custom, and

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with them the elders who rose up and testified that they had seen this woman enter the garden with her two maids, and that a young man came and lay with her. 'We then took hold of the young man, but he slipped from our hands.' The people believed their words, for the elders were held to be good and God-fearing men.

(6) Then, sending for the woman, they brought her, and there came with her her relatives, friends, and acquaintances; but she was very feeble, and came there with her face covered. But the elders cried angrily from their evil desires, 'Remove the veil from her face!' that they might satisfy the wickedness of their eyes, and, condemning her to death, they led her forth. Then, raising her eyes on high, she said, 'O truthful and righteous Judge, O faithful Witness, behold me and save me from a death through false witnesses; let me not be found a sinner in the sight of all these people; and let not the words of these wicked men be fulfilled against me.'

(7) And the Lord heard her cry and sent a helper, for the Lord aroused the spirit of Daniel, who raised his voice, and said, 'Lord God, clear us of the death of this righteous woman.' Hearing this, the people asked, 'Who art thou that speaketh?' And they replied, 'The voice is that of Daniel;' he was then a young man in the king's household and a chamberlain in his palace. 'But why dost thou speak in this manner?' And he said, 'Will ye condemn to death one in Israel without investigation? Will ye slay the innocent and the righteous in a manner contrary to the law? Return to me, that I may investigate the matter.'

(8) The woman and all the people then returned, and the elders who bore witness against her said to him, 'Why does my Lord say, she is not to die, since she has done such and such a thing?' And Daniel said to the people, 'Be ye seated;' and they sat down. 'Now separate these elders one from the other.' Then, interrogating one of them, he said, 'O sinful old man, thou art surely condemned to death, and the angel stands over thee to cut thee in two.

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[paragraph continues] Under what tree didst thou find her?' 'Under the terebinth' (###). And Daniel said to the people, 'Behold, this man shall die, for there is no such tree in the garden.'

(9) He was accordingly taken away, and the second one brought. And he said to him, 'O thou of the seed of Kainan, who art not of Judah. Thus did ye act in our land. Ye enticed beautiful maidens by your false testimony, so that we became a curse and a reproach, we were led captive and became a spoil; behold, thou art destined to be slain, and no soul is to be left within thee. Tell me, before the people, under what tree didst thou find her?' 'Under a trellis of the vine' (###). Then said Daniel, 'Behold, the angel stands over thee with a drawn sword in his hand to saw thy loins asunder, for there is no such tree in the garden.'

(10) They went and found that it was the truth. Then Daniel appeared to the people in all his wisdom, and it was done to those judges just as they devised against their sister. From that day Daniel was exalted in the sight of the people of Judah, and they gave thanks and praises to the Lord God of their fathers, as did Shealtiel, the father of Susanna, and her mother, as well as all her relatives and acquaintances, and her husband Jehoiachin.

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