The Young Captives
Erasmus W. Jones
Part 1 out of 4
THE YOUNG CAPTIVES
A Story of Judah and Babylon
By ERASMUS W. JONES
This volume is the fruit of my leisure hours; and those hours in the life
of a pastor are not very abundant. That the story has suffered from this,
I do not believe. Whatever its defects may be, they are not owing to "the
pressure of other duties." So, dear reader, if this little work proves a
failure, let not that deep calamity be attributed to any lack but the
lack of ability in the author.
The semi-fictitious style of the writing, while displeasing to some, will
be well-pleasing to others. "What I have written I have written;" perhaps
in a way peculiar to myself. I know of some who could write charming
books on this subject in a very different and perhaps a far superior
style; but these I dare not try to imitate. I must write in my own way.
It may be inferior to the way of others; but then it is much better to
move around on your own limbs, even if they are rather "short metre,"
than to parade abroad on stilts in mid-air.
In the colloquies, I have not thought it best to follow strictly the
Oriental style. However pleasing this might have been to some, I am well
persuaded that it could not meet the approbation of the generality of
readers; and as the great design of the work is to bear with weight upon
some of the corrupt usages and wicked policies of the present day, I
thought it advisable to shape the phraseology in conformity with modern
In the prosecution of this work, I have consulted the following
authorities: Josephus, Rollins' "Ancient History," Smith's "Sacred
Annals," "Daniel, a Model for Young Men," by Dr. Scott, Clarke's,
Henry's, Scott's, and Benson's Commentaries; with some other smaller
In following the "Youths of Judah" through their various trials, at home
and in a land of strangers, I have received much genuine pleasure and
lasting profit; and that the reader, likewise, may be greatly pleased and
benefited, is the sincere desire of his unworthy servant,
Erasmus W. Jones.
THE YOUNG CAPTIVES
A STORY OF JUDAH AND BABYLON
By ERASMUS W. JONES.
A CLASH of swords and the cries of excited men resounded through the
streets of the city. Two guardsmen were endeavoring to disarm and arrest
a number of boisterous youths. The latter, evidently young men of good
social position, had been singing bacchanalian songs and otherwise
conducting themselves in a manner contrary to the spirit of orderliness
which King Josiah was striving to establish in Jerusalem. The youths were
intoxicated, and, when the two officers sought to restrain them, they
drew swords and made a reckless attack on the guardians of the peace.
Although the latter were outnumbered, they were courageous and skillful
men, and soon had three of the party disarmed, accomplishing this without
bloodshed. The fourth and last of the marauders, a handsome and stalwart
young man apparently about twenty-one years of age, although at first
desirous of keeping out of the melee, sprang to the aid of his
companions. He cleverly tripped one of the watchmen and grappled with the
other in such a way that the officer could not use his sword arm. This
fierce onslaught gave the other members of the party new courage, and
they joined in the battle again. The conflict might then have been
settled in favor of the lawless party but for an unexpected circumstance.
As one of the guardsmen gave a signal calling for reinforcements, the
second made a desperate attempt to throw his young antagonist to the
ground, and, as they struggled, his face came in proximity to that of the
offending youth. He uttered an exclamation of surprise.
"Ezrom! Ezrom!" cried he; "don't add crime to your other follies! Do you
realize what you are doing? See how you are about to bring disgrace upon
your relatives. Make haste away from this place before the reinforcements
come, or nothing will save you from the dungeon. I beseech you in the
name of the king and your beloved family!"
Instantly the plea had its effect. The young man drew back, and, hastily
uttering a few words to his companions, led them away before they could
be recognized by the gathering crowd.
"The officer is a loyal friend of our house," the youth explained, "and
we have him to thank for getting us out of this trouble, temporarily at
least. But the affair has attracted enough notice so that there is sure
to be an inquiry to-morrow, and I for one will put the city of my birth
behind me before the dawn of day. The son of Salome and the nephew of
King Josiah will never again bring disgrace upon those he loves. To-night
I flee to parts unknown, and bitter indeed will be the punishment of
those of you who are apprehended for our offenses."
In the vicinity of the Temple stood a beautiful dwelling. From outward
appearances one would readily conclude that the inmates of that fair
abode were not common personages. Wealth and taste were shown on every
hand. To this house, in the heart of Jerusalem, came the young man who
had rendered himself so conspicuous in the quarrel with the guard. He
reached the place by a circuitous route and hastily entered. Although the
hour was late two Hebrew maidens of rare beauty awaited his coming. They
were in a state of anxious solicitude for the return of their erring
brother, whose conduct of late had been such as to cause the most intense
anxiety on the part of the pious household, for Ezrom belonged to the
nobility of Judah and was a blood relation of the reigning monarch.
Seeing his excited countenance, the sisters understood that something
unusual had befallen him, and the elder of the two sprang to his side.
"What calamity has occurred to you, my dear brother?" she cried.
"Be calm, sweet Serintha," he replied, "and I will tell you all."
He then informed his sisters that with his three friends he had been
guilty of taking up arms against the authorities--a crime punished with
As Ezrom and his young men companions were connected with families of
high station in Jerusalem, even having royal blood in their veins, they
had the privilege of carrying weapons and were in the habit of going
armed with swords. This unfortunate custom had only served in the end to
get them into serious trouble, and Ezrom for one felt compelled to leave
home during the night.
These startling disclosures brought from both of his sisters a cry of
agony. They implored him to remain, promising to exert every influence to
save him from punishment.
Ezrom's mind was firmly made up, however, and he declared that he never
would face the impending exposure. He gathered together a few articles of
clothing while his sisters followed him from room to room with painful
sobs. He was soon ready. His younger sister, Monroah, fell on his neck in
a paroxysm of grief. Ezrom could utter but a few broken words when he
essayed to bid them farewell. His favorite harp stood by his side.
"Take this, my sweet Monroah," he said, in trembling accents, "and
whenever thy hand shall strike its chords of melody remember that thou
art loved with all the strong affection of a brother's heart. And now, in
the presence of Jehovah I make the solemn vow that from this hour I shall
reform my ways."
He then kissed his beloved sisters, and, with burning brow and
tear-dimmed eyes, rushed from his father's house and away to a land of
NEARLY a quarter of a century had rolled away, and again the city of
Jerusalem was ablaze with light and social gayety. But vastly different
was the moral tone of the government. The good King Josiah had been
called to rest, and his profligate son Jehoiakim was on the throne.
Nightly the walls of the royal palace rang with the sound of high
revelry. Laughter and drunken song echoed through every part of the proud
edifice. Jehoiakim, following the example of some of his predecessors,
did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord and filled the Holy City
with his foul abominations. His counselors also lived in forgetfulness of
the God of Israel. They flattered the king's vanity and encouraged his
excesses. Pride and infidelity promenaded together. Crimes of the darkest
hue were being perpetrated with official sanction, and, although God's
prophets had the courage to rebuke the sinful rulers and warn them of
their fearful doom, the moral standard of the city went lower and lower.
The night was serene and calm. The glorious orb shone brightly in the
eastern skies and shed her silvery beams on the glassy lakes of Judea. In
the clear moonbeams, those lofty towers of spotless white stood forth in
majestic grandeur on the walls of the great metropolis. Nature, with
smiles of lovely innocence on her fair countenance, was hushed to sweet
repose; but not so the busy thousands that thronged the wide
thoroughfares of Jerusalem. This day was one of the anniversaries of
Jehoiakim's reign, and at an early hour the city presented a scene of
excitement. The king's vanity provided everything requisite for a general
display; and, although far from being loved by his numerous subjects, yet
because they could eat, drink, and be merry at the expense of others, the
streets of Jerusalem were thronged with those who cared far more for the
gratification of their appetites than they did for their vain sovereign.
The royal palace was thronged with the rich, the great, the gay, and the
giddy. Unholy excitement ran high. Wines and strong drinks flowed freely.
Flattery without measure was poured into the ears of the king. "Long live
Jehoiakim!" echoed from a thousand voices. The prophets of the Most High,
who prophesied evil against Jerusalem, were ridiculed and laughed to
scorn; and those few persons of influence who regarded them in a
favorable light were made the subjects of their keenest sarcasm and their
most insulting wit. It was about the third hour of the night. The king's
heart was merry with wine. A thousand of Judah's nobles, with their
wives, their sons, and their daughters, sat at the banquet table.
Suddenly a voice, deep and solemn as the grave, was heard below, as if in
the garden at the rear of the palace, crying, "Woe unto Jehoiakim, King
of Judah! Woe! Woe to the Holy City!" The sound was of an unearthly
nature. The assembly heard it, the king heard it. For a moment, all was
still. Again the same deep minor sound was clearly heard. "Woe unto
Jehoiakim, King of Judah! Woe! Woe unto the Holy City!"
"Seize the accursed wretch!" rang through the great apartment.
The king's countenance was flushed with anger, while he cried, "Who is
this vile dog that dares insult the King of Judah? Let the abominable one
be dragged into my presence and then receive his instant doom!"
A thorough search was made for the mysterious author of the confusion;
guards and sentinels ran to and fro. Every corner of the enclosures was
thoroughly examined, but all in vain. No trace could be found of the
unwelcome herald. After a short interval, the agitation subsided and the
company was again in the midst of wild revelry and merriment. The king
endeavored to be merry; but the peculiar deep tone of that messenger of
woe still sounded in his ears; and, with all his efforts, he could not
forget it. In the midst of his depravity and wickedness, he still at
times had some dread of that God whom he daily insulted. He sought to
drown his unpleasant thoughts in mixed wines, but the King of Judah felt
a presentiment of some awful calamity near at hand. With desperation he
struggled against it, and joined in the boisterous laugh and merry song.
HIGHER and higher ran the excitement of the banquet-room. Loud peals of
laughter broke from the merry throng. Musical instruments poured forth
rich strains of melody. Jehoiakim was complimented on every hand, but the
law of God was ridiculed.
Jehoiakim sat on a magnificent throne, gilded over with pure gold. A
large number of war officers sat near him. A royal herald passed through
the throng, crying, "Listen to the oration of Sherakim! Listen to the
oration of Sherakim!" Soon silence was obtained, and Sherakim the Orator
stood before the vast concourse, and began:
"Princes and Nobles of Judah! With merry hearts, we assemble from
different parts of the kingdom to hail this festal day--the eleventh
anniversary of the reign of our illustrious sovereign. Ye will not think
it strange, nor consider it affectation, when I assure you that I tremble
beneath the weight of honor conferred upon me at this time.
"The death of King Josiah, as ye well know, threw a partial gloom over
Judah. Not because all of us considered his measures expedient and
prudent, but because he was our king, and undoubtedly honest in his
intentions, amid all his imperfections. Let the infirmities and mistakes
of past monarchs be buried in their graves. We are not here to mourn over
the past, but rather to rejoice in the present. We are here assembled to
congratulate one another on the unprecedented happiness that flows to the
nation from the reign of the truly illustrious sovereign that now adorns
the throne of Judah. The faults and deficiencies of other-day kings are
more than made up to the nation in the bright reign of the most excellent
Jehoiakim. We do not expect that even the superior administration of our
matchless monarch will suit the tastes and desires of weak-minded and
superstitious men. The King of Judah, with all his superior powers, is
not capable of satisfying the unreasonable demands of those deluded
creatures who are yet too numerous in our midst. What good can result to
anyone from spending half his time in yonder Temple, and there going
through a long list of senseless ceremonies, with sad and melancholy
"Princes and Nobles of Judah! We rejoice together under the happy reign
of a king who looks at those things with calm disdain, and smiles at the
foolishness and darkness of other ages. Let us, therefore, banish gloom
and enjoy life. Let deluded visionaries bow their heads, disfigure their
countenances, and utter their plaintive moans; but let men stand erect,
with joyful countenances and merry hearts! They tell us that Jerusalem is
in danger; and they dwell with solemn emphasis on what they please to
call 'forgetfulness of God.' They tell us that the Chaldeans are about to
besiege the city, and take it! This old story will answer well to terrify
shallow brains and young children; but, with men of sense, it will
receive that silent contempt which it deserves. Let the citizens of Judah
give themselves no uneasiness on account of the silly harangues of a wild
and deluded fanatic who is a more fit subject to be confined with unruly
lunatics than to be heeded as a teller of future events. However, I would
not advise severity towards the followers of old Jeremiah. They are
rather to be pitied than blamed. As long as they keep their delusion
within their own circles, we shall let them alone; but let them be
careful that they step not too far and disturb the happiness and
enjoyment of others. Among themselves, let them talk about the 'Law of
their God,' to their hearts' content; but as for us, we know of no higher
law than the law of our king--the edicts of our grand sovereign. To him,
and him alone, we pledge our undivided fidelity. Trusting in the King of
Judah, we cheerfully go forward, and bid defiance to every foe. In
conclusion, I have only to say, Long live Jehoiakim on the throne of
"Long live Jehoiakim!" echoed throughout the assembly. The king bowed and
smiled, and Sherakim the Orator's countenance gave evidence that he
considered his efforts as crowned with success. All was again hilarity
and mirth. The wine passed freely around. Shouts of laughter rang through
the spacious hall. A strange person entered the apartment, at that end
opposite to the spot where the king sat on his golden throne. His
singular appearance arrested the attention of all present. The stranger
had passed the meridian of life. His figure was tall, his countenance
striking. Deep solemnity rested on his visage, which presented a very
strange contrast to the countenances that surrounded him. With a slow but
firm step, he walked through the long passage and stood in the presence
The vast assembly was soon hushed to silence, and spellbound from
curiosity. Sherakim the Orator gazed on the king. The king, with an angry
brow, gazed on the stranger. The stranger, in return, cast a withering
glance on the king, and stood in his presence with form erect and
fearless. He lifted his hand on high, and thus addressed the monarch:
"Hear the word of the Lord, O King of Judah, that sittest upon the throne
of David. Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and
his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbor's service without wages,
and giveth him not for his work. Did not thy father eat and drink and do
justice, and was it not well with him? He judged the cause of the poor,
and then it was well with him. 'Was not this to know me?' saith the Lord.
But thine eyes and thine heart are not but for thy covetousness, for to
shed innocent blood, and for oppression and for violence. Therefore, thus
saith the Lord concerning Jehoiakim, 'He shall be buried with the burial
of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem.'"
The stranger turned his back on Jehoiakim, and with the same slow, firm
step, he marched through; and although the king in a rage gave orders for
his arrest, there was none to lift a finger against the man of God. He
was gone! and the assembly was left gazing in mute astonishment at one
another. Such was the unearthly aspect of that mysterious stranger, that
even the great flow of spirit was not proof against its effects. The deep
tones of his mournful predictions reached their ears and even their
hearts. In spite of their abominations and infidelity, they felt that
there was a divinity in that awful voice of warning, and for a short
period, at least, their hearts throbbed with guilty emotions of fear.
Many a proud daughter of Judah trembled and turned pale, as she gazed on
the solemn visage of the uninvited stranger, and as she listened to the
deeptoned eloquence that fell from his lips. Others there were who felt a
strange throbbing of heart, but each one vied with his fellow to hide his
real feelings; and soon, by a show of bravado, the concourse fell back to
the usual hilarity, marked by more than an ordinary degree of unholy wit,
and blasphemous sarcasm.
THE night was far advanced, and there were indications that the great
festival was drawing to a close. The last feature expected was an address
from the king. The hour appointed had arrived, and expectation ran high,
but Jehoiakim made not his appearance. At last Sherakim appeared before
the vast audience, and commenced an apology for the absence of the
monarch in the following strain:
"Princes and Nobles of Judah! It is with heartfelt regret that I am
compelled to convey to you the painful intelligence that our illustrious
sovereign, owing to illness, will not be able to deliver the royal
address. This no one can regret more than your unworthy servant. Is it
any wonder that--"
Just at this time, the king himself, with a flushed countenance and a
very unsteady step, appeared on the stage. It was glaringly evident to
all who were not in the same condition themselves, that the King of Judah
was altogether incompetent for that important branch of business which,
in despite of the kind remonstrances of his personal friends, he was
determined to undertake.
The reader is already aware that the king had been twice disturbed by the
dark predictions of the persecuted Jeremiah. In the attempt to throw off
his embarrassment, and appear courageous before his friends, he sought
relief in mixed wines, of which he partook without restraint. These, in a
measure, proved sufficient to stupefy his guilty conscience, but they
added to his vanity and self-conceit. Long before the hour arrived for
the delivery of the royal address, the King of Judah's conversation
amounted to nothing more than drunken babbling.
A number of his most influential courtiers endeavored, with all their
tact and ingenuity, to dissuade their sovereign from the attempt, urging
that the excitement of the night had already so prostrated him that it
would be unsafe for his health to enter again into the uproar of the
festive hall. Now, Sherakim had come to the conclusion that their
arguments had finally prevailed, and that the king had been comfortably
removed to his bed-chamber; hence his remarks, which were cut short by
the sudden appearance of the king. Jehoiakim, without any ceremony,
commanded the orator to fall back; which command was instantly obeyed.
Instead of ascending the throne, as usual, he took the stand that had
been vacated by Sherakim, waved his hand, and loudly laughed, while the
audience cheered; then, with violent gestures and faltering tongue, he
"Princes and Nobles of Judah! I am here! I tell you I am here! Am I not
Jehoiakim, King of Judah? Is not this the glorious reign of my
anniversary? Where is the villain that dares to say it is not? Then that
is a settled question. I hear no contradiction. Who dares contradict? I
hear no reply. Who is afraid of the King of Babylon? If ye know of such
an one, bring the cowardly dog to me, and I will take off his head--Ha!
ha! ha! Old Jeremiah! Where is he? Ah, I'll soon put him out of the way.
Can there be any danger while the King of Babylon is fighting with the
King of Egypt?
"Princess and Nobles of Judah! I perceive ye understand your sovereign.
We are all safe! He dethroned me three years ago--Ha! ha! ha! Will he do
it again? Shall I pay him any more tribute money? Never! I defy his
power! And to-morrow I shall punish the enemies of Judah who live in our
midst. Tomorrow shall flow rivers of blood!"
The heavy blasts of trumpets were now distinctly heard without, which
arrested the king in his drunken speech. A number of officers rose to
their feet. A young officer in uniform rushed into the banquet-hall and
cried at the top of his voice: "To arms! To arms! To arms, O Judah! The
legions of the Chaldeans are approaching the Holy City! To arms! To arms!
To arms!" and the officer hurried again into the street. The confusion
that ensued was indescribable. Officers ran to and fro in wild haste.
Wives and daughters wailed, lamented, and clung to their husbands and
fathers in the utmost dismay. Hilarity and mirth were turned into sorrow
and bitter lamentations. Those proud and lofty arches that had so lately
rung to the sound of the merry song and boisterous laugh, now answered to
the distracted cry of the fair daughters of Judah. Thus, in "confusion
worse confounded," broke up the great festival of the last anniversary of
the reign of Jehoiakim, King of Judah.
The dawn of day presented to the inhabitants of Jerusalem their true and
lamentable condition. A portion of the Chaldean army was already encamped
on the plains before the city, and nearby the remaining legions were on a
rapid march to the same spot. This sudden appearance of the forces of
Nebuchadnezzar before the walls of Jerusalem was owing to the King of
Judah's refusing to pay the tribute money as agreed on another occasion.
Three years before, the same king, who then reigned jointly with his
father, brought his forces before the city, and without any resistance
they thought fit to surrender. Jehoiakim was still permitted to reign,
but subjected to be a tributary to the King of Babylon. For two years
this agreement was adhered to by the King of Judah. On the third, the
King of Babylon marched his forces into Egypt, to bring into subjection
the revolting inhabitants, whom he had previously conquered. Jehoiakim,
trusting that the Egyptians would be able to stand their ground, and,
peradventure, prove victorious, thought this a favorable time to throw
off the Chaldean yoke; and consequently, scornfully refused to pay the
tribute money, and treated the Chaldean ambassador with haughtiness. But,
contrary to the expectations of the King of Judah, the Egyptians, when
they beheld the powerful legions of the Chaldeans, gave up their
rebellion, and promised allegiance to the King of Babylon.
Nebuchadnezzar, enraged by the conduct of the King of Judah, ordered his
forces in Egypt to march and encamp before the walls of Jerusalem.
Early in the morning of that fatal day, Jehoiakim called together a grand
council, in order to deliberate on the best measures to be pursued in the
painful emergency. Some advised a strenuous resistance; others said this
would be vain--that the city was not able to stand a siege for one month
because they were destitute of provisions, and, moreover, the army was in
a very imperfect condition. The king thought it advisable to show no
resistance, but to treat the King of Babylon with, civility. Finally, the
grand council agreed that it was not expedient to resist the entrance of
the King of Babylon, and concluded to throw open the gates of the city.
As yet the Chaldeans remained stationary, about thirty furlongs to the
south. About the third hour they began to advance, their glittering arms,
dazzling in the bright sunbeams, giving them a grand and imposing
appearance. The walls of the city were thronged with anxious gazers, and
all hearts throbbed with deep and painful anxiety. Nearer and nearer they
approached! The rumbling of their war chariots fell heavily on the ear.
The heavy hoofs of their spirited chargers made the earth tremble. The
loud blasts of their numerous trumpeters were carried on the wings of the
wind, while the echoes answered from the lofty towers of ancient Salem.
Suddenly the massive gates were thrown open. Then a grand shout from the
whole army rent the air. For hours they poured in through the wide
portals, and once more the gods of the Gentiles were escorted in triumph
through the wide thoroughfares of the "City of the Great King."
THE King of Judah's treatment of the Chaldean ambassador, in regard to
the tribute money, had so exasperated the King of Babylon, that he was
determined to chasten his audacity with rigor. This monarch, at this
period of his reign, was of rather a mild disposition, but, like his
sires before him, a love of conquest had become with him a strong
Three years before, he had dealt with much mildness toward the
inhabitants of Jerusalem. On taking the city, he charged his soldiers to
show no indignity to the inhabitants, under the severest penalty--which
charge was well heeded. Towards Jehoiakim he also evinced a kind
disposition. With but few restrictions, he was permitted to reign. Now
that Jehoiakim had abused these acts of kindness, had violated solemn
obligations, and, in addition to all this, had publicly ridiculed the
ambassador, Nebuchadnezzar's indignation was kindled to a flame.
The King of Judah on this occasion, as well as on all other occasions of
embarrassment and perplexity, sought relief in mixed wines. These
stimulated his courage for the time being, which, being left to its own
resources, was of a low order; but, under the effects of these deceitful
liquids, he became heroic.
"Jared!" said Jehoiakim, "where is that Sherakim who was so full of fight
at the banquet hall last night?"
"As my soul liveth, O king, I know not his whereabouts. I have not seen
him since early dawn; and then he appeared to be in haste, and was in no
mood for conversation."
"A curse on his cowardly head! I suppose these Chaldeans have put his
valor to flight. Jared! how many armed men have we within the royal
"Two hundred of the royal guard, O king, are present--all armed and ready
to face death for their illustrious sovereign."
"It is well!" said Jehoiakim, filling his bowl. "Ha, ha, ha! Let the King
of Babylon beware of my vengeance? What does the fool desire? The King of
Judah is not to be frightened. Jared! where is Sherakim?"
"Sherakim, O king, is not to be found."
"Ah, I had forgotten. Sherakim not to be found! Ha, ha, ha! Sherakim not
to be found! The cowardly babbler! Jared, command more wine! Sherakim has
fled--he is afraid of a shadow--he has not the courage of a maiden. Have I
not known him of old? Did not a thunderstorm always make him cry? Ha, ha,
ha! Sherakim the orator! fool! coward!"
"A messenger, O king, from the King of the Chaldeans, desires to be
introduced into thy presence. Shall I conduct him to the apartment?"
"Is he alone or accompanied?"
"Accompanied by armed men."
"Let the messenger be admitted, but let the guard remain behind."
The messenger was accordingly ushered into the presence of Jehoiakim.
"And what business of importance has brought thee into the presence of
the King of Judah?" asked Jehoiakim, with curling lip.
"I stand in thy presence as a bearer of a message from my sovereign
master, King of Babylon."
"Methinks I have seen thee on another occasion."
"And was not my behavior honorable and becoming?"
"Did the King of Judah say otherwise?"
"By his vile and haughty treatment of the king's ambassador."
"Be sparing with thine insolence, or at this time thou mayest fare far
"The Chaldean ambassador is not to be frightened by idle threats from one
who lives at the mercy of his master."
"Thinkest thou thyself safe because thou art surrounded with a few
soldiers? Knowest thou not that within my call there are hundreds of
armed men, ready to execute my will?"
"And knowest thou not that Jerusalem is in the hands of the Chaldeans,
and that threescore thousand men of war are stationed in the city?"
"Threescore thousand! But come, sir, what is the message of the King of
Babylon to the King of Judah? Let thy words be few."
"Then thou art commanded, without delay, to appear in my master's
presence, and there learn his sovereign will concerning thyself and the
"Commanded! Ha, ha, ha! Go thy way, and inform thy master that if he
desires to see Jehoiakim, King of Judah, he must call at the royal
palace, where he may have his desires gratified."
"Then I go. Faithfully will I convey thy answer to my illustrious
The minister hastened from the royal palace, to convey to the king the
result of the interview, while the King of Judah, waxing more desperate,
still applied himself to his cups.
The King of Babylon, on his arrival in Jerusalem, ordered his magnificent
royal tent to be pitched in the center of a large square in the very
heart of the city. The great body of the army was stationed in another
part--the royal guard remaining near the royal tent. From this spot went
forth the summons to the King of Judah to appear in the presence of the
King of Babylon.
"Where is his Royal Highness, the King of Judah?" asked Nebuchadnezzar.
"In his palace, O king, indulging in excess of wine, apparently perfectly
"Is he not forthcoming?" asked the king, with a darkened brow.
"He laughs to scorn thy commands, O king! and wishes to inform thee that
if thou hast aught to communicate he may be consulted at his palace."
"By all the gods, the fellow is mad!" cried Nebuchadnezzar in a passion.
"I'll have to bend his stubborn will--yea, I shall do it. I thirst not for
his blood; but let the guilty monarch beware how he trifles with my
commands! Balphoras! haste thee back with a double guard, and inform
Jehoiakim that my orders are not to be trifled with; and moreover, that
if he persists in his stubbornness, I shall send sufficient force to drag
him into my presence as a guilty culprit."
The communication was in perfect accordance with the desires and
expectations of the Chaldean officer. Balphoras was in possession of an
amiable mind. He was respectful to his superiors, kind and gentle to his
inferiors. Wherever he was known among his countrymen he was greatly
beloved. However, he was not insensible to injury or indifferent to
abuse. He felt deeply; but had learned to be a greater conqueror than his
master, inasmuch as he that governeth his own spirit is greater than he
that taketh a city. Balphoras, without being unkind or selfish, desired
to witness the humiliation of the King of Judah. The command of his king,
therefore, was put in immediate execution, and the Chaldean minister,
accompanied by a strong and imposing guard, once more was on his way to
demand admission into the presence of the King of Judah.
. . . . . . .
"Jared! Well would I have served those guilty dogs, if I had given orders
to have their heads taken off. What sayest thou, Jared?"
"They richly deserved it, O king," answered Jared, with his face in
another direction, on which played a suppressed smile.
"Let them beware how they insult the King of Judah! Jared! hast thou
learned aught of Sherakim's whereabouts?"
"Naught, O king."
"Ungrateful dog! Cowardly fool! Miserable brawler!--Sherakim! Bah! Jared,
order more wine. Whom should Jehoiakim fear? Jared! what trouble is there
in the porch? Haste thee and see."
Jared hastened to obey the commands of his drunken sovereign, and
"The same messenger from the King of the Chaldeans demands an interview
with the King of Judah."
"Let him be admitted. Ha! ha! What next?"
Balphoras, with a firm, dignified step, walked into the presence of
Jehoiakim, who, in spite of his wine-propped courage, almost trembled
beneath the Chaldean's penetrating glance.
"And what hast thou to communicate at this time?"
"My communication is short and decisive."
"The shorter the better--let it be delivered."
"My illustrious sovereign, the King of Babylon, wishes the King of Judah
to understand, that his commands are not to be trifled with; and,
moreover, that if the King of Judah persists in his stubbornness, he must
be dragged into his presence as a guilty culprit."
"Who dares to utter such words in my presence?" cried Jehoiakim, in a
"The Chaldean minister, as the words of his illustrious sovereign."
"Go and tell thine 'illustrious sovereign' that Jehoiakim spits upon his
"Thy raving is in vain. Better far to bridle thy rage and comply. Be it
known to the King of Judah, that I have three hundred chosen men of war
at my bidding, who wait for the word of command. What is the choice of
the King of Judah?"
"Be it known to thee, insolent fool," cried the exasperated king, "that
Jehoiakim laughs to scorn thy threats, and spurns thy counsels."
"Alas for thine obstinacy, proud and reckless man!" answered Balphoras,
as he left the apartment; "thy doom is sealed!"
After the departure of the Chaldean, Jehoiakim gave orders to his
officers to be ready, at all hazards, to defend the royal enclosures
against all further intrusion from the Chaldeans.
"A curse upon his guilty head! Ha, ha! 'Dragged into his presence,' eh!
Never! Fools! Villains! Let them beware of Jehoiakim's vengeance."
While the King of Judah thus indulged in his wild delirium, a strong
detachment of the Chaldean army was on a rapid march towards the royal
palace, with orders to make a prisoner of Jehoiakim, and bring him into
the presence of the King of Babylon. They soon reached the king's gate,
and demanded admittance; which demand was promptly and haughtily refused.
This was but the signal for attack, and a furious combat followed. Both
the Chaldeans and Jehoiakim's men fought valiantly. The passage was
defended with extreme bravery and valor; but after a most desperate
struggle, the Chaldeans proved successful in forcing an entrance. The
sentry at the palace door was soon overcome, and a company of Chaldeans
rushed into the royal mansion; and, after some search, they found the
king. Without ceremony he was dragged from his hiding place, and ejected
from his palace. A shout of triumph broke from the Chaldeans, which only
exasperated their antagonists. Another desperate rush was made for the
rescue of their king, but it proved unavailing. He was conducted to the
open street amid a general fight. The din of battle brought together vast
multitudes, who, seeing their king a captive, added greatly to the
strength of Judah's forces; and the Chaldeans found themselves
continually attacked from unexpected quarters. Thus the conflict waxed
hotter and hotter as the Chaldeans desperately fought their way through
the exasperated men of Judah.
Finally, the King of Judah was carried into the presence of
Nebuchadnezzar and had he, even then, humbled himself, he might have
escaped an awful doom. The behavior of Jehoiakim in the presence of the
Chaldean monarch was that of a madman. To every inquiry he replied in the
most insulting and abusive epithets; and to seal his own fate he madly
rushed on the King of Babylon with his sword, and had it not been that
this potentate was on his guard, it would have gone hard with him. This
was beyond endurance. Nebuchadnezzar, stung to the quick, grasped his
sword, commanded his officers to stand aloof, and faced his enraged foe.
They made a few passes, and the sword of the Chaldean was plunged into
the heart of the King of Judah."
"Take the ungrateful dog," said the excited Babylonian, "and drag his
worthless carcass, and throw it outside the city walls."
The command was immediately put in execution.
Thus perished the wicked king, according to the word of the Lord, by the
mouth of his servant Jeremiah.
NEBUCHADNEZZAR called together a number of the leading men of Judah and
explained his intentions with regard to the government. He also described
the killing of Jehoiakim. It was not the policy of the conqueror to
establish any rigorous system of public control. He required that Judah
should remain as a tributary power, but he desired the country to make
progress in its own way, and he took occasion to proclaim that Jeconiah
should reign in the place of his father, Jehoiakim, who had just met his
fate at the hands of the invader. Those who listened to Nebuchadnezzar
were well pleased with his words and also with the elevation of Jeconiah
to the throne.
The Babylonian ruler, having now fully accomplished his ends, gave orders
for the early departure of the victorious army for the plains of Chaldea.
He decided to take with him, as prisoners of war, a number of youths of
Judah. He had the twofold object of showing to his people some tangible
evidence of his victory and of gaining for his court the advantage of
having as aids and attendants some of the more cultured young men of
Judea. With the aid of Jeconiah a list of suitable youths was soon
prepared by the victorious monarch's officers. These chosen ones were
notified, the day of departure was fixed, and all energies were bent
toward the speedy return of the army to the land of the Euphrates.
. . . . . . .
Let us now visit some of the homes of Judah, where the mandate of the
Babylonian king had fallen as a pall upon the inmates. With one of these
homes, located centrally and bearing evidence of prosperity and culture,
the reader is already somewhat acquainted. In the room where young Ezrom
took leave of his sisters, twenty-five years before, an interesting group
had gathered. Monroah, the last survivor of Salome's children, had wedded
Amonober, and four lovely children blessed their union. These youths were
now orphans, however, the youngest being a maiden of sixteen, who
possessed the rare beauty for which the family was noted. Her name was
Perreeza. The three brothers were named Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.
The love of these brothers for their sister was returned with all the
ardor of an affectionate and sincere girl. These youths were among those
selected as prisoners of war.
In company with the young men, when they broke the news of the king's
decision to Perreeza, was Jeremiah the Prophet.
"Oh, brothers!" exclaimed the distressed maiden, "must ye be torn away
from an only sister? Oh, man of God! What will Perreeza do? My heart will
break. Oh, my brothers! We cannot part!" and she fell on the neck of
Hananiah and wept bitterly.
"We think it not strange, dear damsel," said the prophet, "that thy young
heart is made sad. But the things that are enshrouded in mystery to-day
will yet beam forth in wondrous wisdom."
"If to Babylon my brothers go, I must accompany them," said Perreeza,
with much decision. "It must be so! Jerusalem will have no charms for me
when those I love dearer than life are far away!"
"Surely that would be our joy and desire," replied Azariah, "but alas! I
fear it will not be possible to have such a request granted. The exact
number is selected and no females are marked on the captive list."
"But dear brother, an effort must be put forth without delay to procure
thy sister permission."
"Yea, beloved, and an effort will be put forth, promptly and urgently."
This answer of the brother partly soothed the troubled spirit of the
young damsel, and the suggestion on her part opened a little door of hope
before the brothers.
Amonober, father of these interesting youths, was a brother of King
Josiah. Another brother was Baromon, who had died leaving a widow,
Josepha, a son, Daniel, and two daughters. The two families stood among
the foremost in the religious and social life of the Holy City. Young
Daniel was one of the noble youths chosen by Nebuchadnezzar to go to
Babylon. His pious and noble mother and sisters, after their first
outburst of grief, committed him to God's care. They became reconciled to
their bereavement through the counsel of Jeremiah, who declared that the
God of Israel was shaping the whole affair for the advancement of his
kingdom on earth.
DANIEL and the Amonober children, from their first interview with the
officers of the King of Babylon, had left a very favorable impression on
the minds of those high dignitaries; and although, in reality, they were
but captives of war, they were treated with that high civility due to
nobility and rank. This caused much astonishment to the youths
themselves, and served in part to calm and reconcile them to their lot.
The ardent desire of Perreeza to accompany them to the land of their
captivity had been made the subject of their thoughts, and served if
possible to deepen in their minds the fountain of pure affection.
Early next morning, the brothers bent their footsteps towards the
temporary residence of one of Nebuchadnezzar's officers, with whom, at
this time, they had to do. The manner in which they formerly had been
received gave them some encouragement to hope that their mission would be
crowned with success. They soon reached the "spot, and were admitted.
"And what is the pleasure of these young noblemen of Judah?" asked
Barzello, with a pleasant smile.
"Let thy young servants find favor in the sight of their kind and noble
master," said Hananiah, "while with deep humility they make known their
request. The illustrious Barzello, we trust, will pardon us for this
intrusion upon the time of the King of Babylon's noble officer, and
listen patiently to their urgent prayer. Thy kind deportment towards thy
servants, for these many days, has given them courage thus to stand in
thy presence without any painful, distracted fears. We are the sons of
Amonober, the brother of King Josiah, under whose reign, for many years,
Judah smiled amid peace and plenty. Thy servants were early instructed in
the religion of our sainted father, who, with our beloved mother, feared
the God of Israel, and worshiped in his holy Temple. While thy servants
were yet young, Amonober our father died, and was gathered to his
fathers, and today he calmly rests by the side of his illustrious
brother, King Josiah. Thus the best of mothers was left a widow with her
fatherless children. Thy servants, feeling it no less a pleasure than a
duty, endeavored to comply with our father's dying request, by being ever
kind to our beloved mother. Thus time passed away for two years, and our
pathway once more seemed to be bright and pleasant, when suddenly our
mother died. Thy servants were called to stand by the side of her couch
before she departed, and these were her parting words:
"'To you, my sons, I commit my sweet Perreeza! Let her youthful feet be
tenderly watched by the eyes of love. Whisper words of sweet, brotherly
affection in her youthful ears. Oh, deal gently and kindly with the dear,
motherless lamb! Remember the dying request of a mother, and throw your
arms of protection around your orphan sister.'
"Having concluded these words, our mother closed her eyes, and gave up
the ghost. This beloved object of a mother's dying request has been, for
many years, the center of thy servants' joy and happiness, and one smile
from our own Perreeza will often turn our darkness into day. Our love for
her is returned with all the ardor of a sister's pure affection. The sad
news of our destined departure from this our native land has well-nigh
overwhelmed her heart with sorrow. The thought of parting makes her
spirit faint; and thy servants are sincere when they assure their
compassionate master that they greatly fear that, if compelled to be
separated from her brothers, Perreeza will sink under the deep weight of
sorrow, and pass away to the spirit land. In compliance with her very
urgent request, thy servants at this time stand as petitioners before
their benevolent superior. We are not here to ask to be released from any
demand. We patiently yield to the stern necessity that calls us away; but
we are here, O most excellent Barzello! to ask a favor for another,
which, if granted, will always live in our grateful memories: it is, that
Perreeza, our beloved sister, be permitted to accompany us to the land of
"And how old is this young sister, of whom ye speak in such terms of
"Perreeza has but just commenced her seventeenth year."
"This request must be presented before my lord, the king. Call again at
the setting of the sun, and ye shall learn his pleasure in this matter.
Be assured that my influence shall be exerted in your behalf."
"And the prayers of thy servants shall always ascend to the God of Judah
for ten thousand blessings on the head of Barzello;" and in the most
respectful manner, they left the apartment.
. . . . . . .
"Barzello," said the King of Babylon, in a pleasant mood, "are my chosen
captives in a ready trim for their departure?"
"All ready at the word of command, O king."
"But what thinkest thou of those brothers? Hast thou had an opportunity
of testing their merits?"
"The brothers and cousins, O king, have been repeatedly in my presence,
and have given me positive proof that they are youths of very superior
abilities and great worth. Their amiable deportment and truly noble
bearing have left on my mind a very favorable impression. Indeed, the
youths of Babylon, who pride themselves so much on their superior
learning and high attainments, might learn precious lessons of wisdom
from these very youths of Judah."
"By the gods! Barzello," said the king, laughing heartily, "if at this
rate these youths continue to grow upon thy good opinion, before many
days thou wilt be a convert to the religion of Judah!"
"Of the religion of Judah I know but little; but if these children are a
fair specimen of its operations, I cannot think that there is anything
very dangerous or offensive in it."
"Well, when we arrive in Chaldea, we shall give their powers a fair
trial. But are there any more brothers in that family?"
"No more, O king," replied the officer, inwardly thanking the king for
the question. "There are but three brothers and one young sister."
"She will be a comfort to her mother in the absence of her sons," said
the king, in a thoughtful mood.
"But the young damsel has no mother. For many years the children have
been both fatherless and motherless."
"Then there must be bitter parting there, Barzello! This young damsel, an
only orphan sister, must be bound to her brothers by more than common
"True, O king," answered Barzello, somewhat animated. "The thought of
parting grieves them beyond description. It was but this morning that the
brothers sought an interview with me on this very point, and pleaded in
her behalf with such melting eloquence as well-nigh robbed me of all my
generalship. I dismissed them by stating that I would lay their petition
before my lord the king, and that I would give them his answer at the
setting of the sun."
"Barzello!" said the king, in a firm tone, "I cannot change my purpose in
regard to those brothers. Nothing shall prevail upon me to give them up.
To Babylon they must go! I have spoken the word! Let there be no pleading
in their behalf--I cannot grant their petition."
"I humbly beg my lord the king's forgiveness," replied the officer, with
a smile; "but let me assure him that the noble youths have made no
petition of that nature." "But what do they ask?" asked the king, with
"They ask, O king, as the greatest favor, that this their young orphan
sister, be permitted by the king to accompany her brothers to the land of
"And has not this small favor been granted?"
"Barzello now stands in the presence of his sovereign in behalf of the
Hebrew damsel, asking for her a permission."
"And the permission is granted. And furthermore, Barzello, see that she
is well provided for, and dealt gently with, for the maiden is of kingly
"All this shall be strictly attended to, O king," said the well-pleased
officer, as he respectfully left the presence of the monarch.
It was now late in the afternoon. The "regent of day" was gradually
fading from the sight of the inhabitants of the valley, and was smilingly
sinking beyond the western hills, and Barzello hastened his footsteps
toward his headquarters. After having reached his apartment, he seated
himself, and indulged in some reflections, which, if we might judge from
his countenance, we might pronounce to be of a pleasing nature.
While thug musing, he was roused by the entrance of one of his servants.
"What now, Franzo?"
"Three young men and a damsel stand below, desiring the favor of an
interview with my master."
"Let them be conducted into my presence; and see thou to it that they
receive due respect from all below. They are persons of distinction."
The sister and brothers were conducted into the presence of Barzello,
where again they were received with peculiar attention.
"The officer of the king of the Chaldeans is always happy to meet his
young friends, and will consider it a great pleasure to add to their
comfort and happiness. And this young damsel, I am led to believe, is
your sister of whom ye spake this morning."
"This is Perreeza, our sister," replied Azariah; "her sense of obligation
to our noble friend for his generous feelings in her behalf, has prompted
her to embrace the privilege of appearing in person, to acknowledge her
"It gives me much pleasure to behold your sister, but I am not aware of
any service rendered that calls for a great amount of gratitude."
"Thy servants," said Azariah, "in compliance with the directions received
this morning, are in thy presence to learn the will of the king, in
regard to thy servants' request, as made known to him through the
intervention of his generous officer."
"Ye did well to come at the appointed hour. I am always well pleased with
strict punctuality. I am happy to inform you, that your request in regard
to your sister is very readily granted; and, moreover, the king has given
me particular directions to see that she has everything requisite to her
perfect comfort in journeying, which directions will be obeyed with the
Silent tears of joy coursed down the cheeks of both sister and brothers.
They were so affected by the result of their effort, together with the
unaffected tenderness of Barzello, that for a short interval they could
in no wise give utterance to their feelings. Perreeza was the first to
break the spell.
"The most excellent Barzello will please accept the humble thanks of an
orphan maiden of Judah, for his kind regards. The God of the fatherless
and motherless will surely reward his servant, and cause blessings and
prosperity to rest on his household. Thy kindness shall not be forgotten.
Our daily prayers shall ascend to the God of Judah in thy behalf, with
the smoke of our morning and evening sacrifices."
"And I trust the youthful maiden of Judah," said the officer, in a voice
far from being firm, "will live to see many happy years in the fair land
of the Chaldeans."
The interview was at an end, and the youths of Judah quietly directed
their footsteps to that beautiful mansion which was well known in that
vicinity as the "House of Amonober."
ON THE journey to Babylon, nothing of note transpired. The royal captives
continued to receive peculiar marks of attention and very clear
demonstrations of regard. They readily and justly concluded that all this
originated in the generous heart of Barzello; and thus he became more and
more endeared to them.
The King of the Chaldeans' return to Babylon, at the head of his
victorious army, was hailed with loud acclamations of joy. The great
capital of his extensive empire was filled to overflowing with exulting
thousands, to welcome the victorious monarch from a brilliant campaign.
Proud banners floated in triumph on the high turrets, while a thousand
minstrels filled the air with their high-sounding melody.
Nebuchadnezzar was as yet but a young monarch. He spared no pains to
render himself acceptable to his people, by a worthy deportment and a
liberal encouragement of all improvements throughout his realm, and
especially within the city of Babylon. At this period, he was greatly
beloved by his subjects, and his popularity was plainly visible in the
unbounded welcome with which he was received and escorted to the royal
Not far from the king's palace stood a splendid mansion of broad and
lofty dimensions. Within the enclosures, everything was arranged with
faultless taste. In front, large beds of roses unveiled their charms, and
sent forth their sweet fragrance. Each side was well ornamented with
shrubbery, and the rear beautified with a garden abundantly filled with
delicious fruits. With the permission of the reader, we will now enter.
In a richly-furnished apartment within this noble edifice, sat a man of
commanding exterior, attired in rich, military official costume.
Caressingly on his bosom leaned a young damsel, over whose head sixteen
summers might have gently rolled. Joy and gladness beamed in every
feature of her lovely countenance.
"Oh, happy day! Father is home again! Jupheena will now be happy. The
time of thy absence seemed long and dreary; but thou art back again in
our happy home!"
"Yea, my child, I am really home again, and am happy to find my sweet
Jupheena as well and as sprightly as ever."
"But my dear father has happily returned sooner than we expected; thy
stay in Egypt was but short."
"Short, indeed, my daughter. Pharaoh-Necho, when he saw our powerful
legions, soon came to terms of peace; and in this I admire his wisdom.
From Egypt, we marched into the capital of Judah, and gained an entrance
"My stay in Jerusalem, thou knowest, was but short, and my facilities for
observation were not very favorable; but owing to peculiar circumstances,
I became partially acquainted with those in Judah who left deep and happy
impressions on my mind. I found a few young men of the kingly line, who,
in my opinion, were far superior in mind to any I ever had the pleasure
"Dear father! that is saying much. Then they must have been very
different from their royal relation, of whom thou speakest."
"Thou hast well said, my daughter. Happy would it have been for that
distracted nation if one of those youths had graced the throne of Judah,
instead of the profligate Jehoiakim."
"Then it appears, surely," said the daughter smilingly, "that true
excellence and superiority are not confined to Chaldea. But I hear
nothing in praise of Judah's maidens."
"The maidens of Judah are fair--some of them exceedingly fair. Thou wilt
wonder, perhaps, to hear that the peculiar grace and artless eloquence of
one of these maids of Judah so affected thy father's heart, that he could
not refrain from shedding tears."
"And have these interesting captives arrived in the city?"
"Yea, my daughter, they are already in Babylon."
"And shall not thy daughter have the pleasure of seeing this orphan maid
"Yea, verily! this day thou shalt see her; and if thou art well pleased
with her and with her society, she may be an inmate of my house, and a
companion for my daughter."
"But can the young maiden converse in Chaldee?"
"She speaks our language, my daughter, with a degree of fluency that is
really astonishing. It is evident that her attainments are quite
superior, and that all the advantages which Judah's capital could afford
have been lavished upon her."
"Oh! it will be delightful to learn beautiful stories of other lands, and
have such a sweet and lovely creature for my companion; I am almost
impatient to see her."
"I will have her conveyed hither without delay. If I mistake not, the
maiden will be delighted to tarry under the roof of one whom she calls
her 'bountiful benefactor.' Thy father will now leave for a short season,
to attend to some business matters of importance. In two hours I return."
And kissing his sweet Jupheena, the soldier hurried out of the apartment.
A chariot stood ready at his door, into which he stepped, and was hurried
away to another part of the city.
THE royal captives, on arriving in the city, were conveyed, according to
the strict orders of Barzello, to certain appropriate apartments,
prepared for their reception, and nothing requisite to their comfort and
entertainment was left wanting. On the very first day of their arrival
the God-fearing youths found themselves to be favorites in a land of
strangers. The God in whom they trusted gave them adequate strength for
their peculiar trials. They found themselves in possession of energy of
spirit and courage, that was truly a source of wonderment to themselves.
They thought of friends and home with all the fervor of pure affection;
but it was not accompanied with those painful, agonizing emotions that
are wont to accompany the remembrance of native land and absent friends;
in regard to which state of mind they could well adopt the language of
one of their happiest monarchs: "This is the Lord's doing, and it is
marvelous in our sight."
It was about the ninth hour. The youthful group were seated together.
"Well, cousin," said Azariah, smiling and looking round the apartment,
"this has more the appearance of being guests of royalty than poor
captives of war."
"Yea, truly," replied Daniel; "and in this we clearly see the
loving-kindness of our God, by whom princes rule and kings govern."
"Our kind friend, Barzello," said Hananiah, "has promised to call on us
ere the sun sets."
"And he will certainly fulfill his promise," said Mishael.
"We have proved him a genuine and a wise counselor," said Daniel.
"And his loving-kindness shall ever remain deeply graven on our
memories," said Azariah.
"Perreeza hopes," said the sister, "that it may be her good providence to
be always near the good man, where she may often see his smiling face."
"Our excellent master, under the direction of the King of kings, will
order all things for the best," said Hananiah.
"Let us always remember the parting admonitions of our good Prophet,"
said Mishael, "and calmly submit our all to the wisdom of the Keeper of
"Even so, amen!" replied the others.
Quick footsteps were heard without. The door opened, and Barzello entered
the apartment. The youths unitedly arose, and bowed low, in humble token
of respect to the noble officer.
"I trust my young friends from Judah find these apartments a comfortable
"Thy servants," replied Daniel, "are overwhelmed with thy kindness, and
hope, in some sphere, by a true and honest deportment, to be able to show
their benefactor that his kindness is duly appreciated."
"And how does our young maid of Judah feel after her long journey?" asked
Barzello, as he smilingly approached Perreeza.
"Thy maid of Judah is in good health; and being so well provided for on
her journey, she experienced but a very slight inconvenience."
"But she must be further provided for. She must have a permanent home in
the vicinity of her brothers. An officer of the king, in the city, with
whom I am well acquainted, having learned something of the history and
deportment of this your sister, would desire her, if not contrary to her
wishes, to be an inmate of his house, and a companion for his only
child--a maiden of sixteen summers. Would this be acceptable to the young
"Abundantly acceptable, most kind Barzello!" said Perreeza. "Thy young
handmaid is ready at any time to do the pleasure of her protector."
"Then I will accompany thee thither without any delay."
Perreeza withdrew to another apartment, and in a short time, returned,
attired in her rich native costume, and giving Barzello a sign that she
was ready, they both left the apartment. Soon Perreeza found herself by
the side of her kind friend, in a richly-ornamented chariot, that hurried
them through the wide and busy thoroughfares. Perreeza was somewhat
astonished at the greatness and grandeur of this Gentile metropolis.
"Your Babylon is truly a great city," said she.
"The greatest on record. How in thine eye compares its beauty with the
capital of Judah?"
"In the ornamental--in splendid gardens and bubbling fountains--Babylon
surely stands far superior."
The chariot halted, and Perreeza found herself in front of one of the
most beautiful mansions she had ever beheld.
"And is this the officer's mansion?" asked Perreeza, gazing with a degree
of astonishment at the great structure.
"Yea, this is it, fair damsel. But thou appearest somewhat embarrassed.
Let the maid of Judah have no fears, for I have every confidence that she
will do well."
"Is the noble officer at home?" asked the maid, endeavoring to appear
"He is about the premises, and will soon be in," replied Barzello, with a
"What delicious flowers!" cried Perreeza, breathing a little easier.
"Babylon abounds with the like, fair damsel. But come, let us enter, for
the officer's daughter is in haste to behold the youthful maid from the
land of Judah."
Barzello ascended those steps of spotless marble, and, with a degree of
freedom that seemed to surprise his young companion, he entered a
spacious apartment, richly furnished and beautifully ornamented, where
Jupheena was ready to receive them, with loving smiles of welcome.
"Jupheena, this is the young maid from the land of Judah, of whom thy
father spoke," and, directing his language to Perreeza, at the same time
giving Jupheena a glance that was readily understood, he said, "and,
young damsel, this is the officer's daughter of whom I spoke."
The two maidens, as if by a magic spell, were drawn to each other's arms.
"I shall leave you for a short period, Jupheena," said the officer; "thy
father will soon return; when he comes, thou wilt be most happy to
present to him thy young companion," and Barzello left the apartment, and
thus the two fair ones were left together.
"I am happy to see my young friend from Judah," said Jupheena. "I have
been deeply affected by thy history, and that of thy noble brothers. I
trust, that in the absence of thy friends, we shall be able to make thee
"Since we left our beloved Jerusalem, and even before, we have
experienced naught but kindness from the noble officers of the king,
especially the most excellent Barzello. His sympathies have well-nigh
overwhelmed us, and we shall love him as long as we live, and implore the
blessing of the God of Israel to rest upon his household. Was it not he
that kindly spoke of thy young handmaiden to thy father?"
"I am not aware who it was that first spoke to my father of the maid of
Judah," replied Jupheena, smiling, "but Barzello, surely, is deeply
interested in thy welfare."
Barzello again entered, and Perreeza looked for the other officer, but no
other officer was present. Jupheena arose, and, taking her young
companion by the hand, led her to her father.
"Maid of Judah, I have now the pleasure of presenting thee to my own dear
father, the king's officer, under whose roof I trust thou wilt find a
"And this is his only daughter, Jupheena, of whom he spoke," said
Barzello, highly delighted. "I trust the maid of Judah will find her a
Such was the effect of this innocent piece of deception on the mind of
young Perreeza, that all the response she could make, was to fall on the
neck of her young companion, and weep aloud. But those tears were tears
of joy; and those lofty walls were witnesses to the fast falling of other
tears than those shed by the maid of Judah.
"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel!" cried Perreeza, when partially
recovered, "who hath given me favor in the eyes of this people! May
Jehovah smile upon his servant Barzello, and upon his lovely daughter,
who thus throw open their door to welcome an orphan maid of Israel."
"Thou shalt find under this roof a welcome home," said Barzello,
affectionately taking Perreeza by the hand; "in Jupheena thou wilt find a
worthy companion and an affectionate friend."
"Thy daughter," answered Jupheena, "will always esteem it a high pleasure
to add to the happiness of her young friend."
"And Jehovah assisting me," cried the Hebrew maid, "I will endeavor so to
walk before my kind protectors as to be always worthy of their friendly
"If it be pleasing to thy young friend," said Barzello, addressing
himself to his daughter, "she may be again conducted to inform her
brothers of her new home."
"My brothers will be overjoyed," answered Perreeza, "to learn of the
happiness of their sister; and to me, it will afford the greatest
pleasure to convey to them the joyful intelligence."
"If it will please my daughter," said Barzello, "she may accompany us.
What sayest thou, Jupheena?"
"Thy daughter most gratefully accepts thy kind offer."
"Our young friend, peradventure, will be pleased to see her brothers and
cousin without any delay, while Jupheena will accompany her father on an
errand of business at the house of an officer nearby. Thou mayest inform
thy brothers and cousin that we shall call and see them presently."
Perreeza embraced the opportunity, and, thanking the officer with one of
her peculiar smiles, hurried to their apartment.
"Back again, precious Perreeza!" cried Azariah, hastening to meet her.
"And did our sister see the king's officer and his young daughter, of
whom Barzello spoke?"
"I did!" exclaimed his sister, while unusual joy beamed in her
"And from thy countenance I am prepared to judge that the interview has
been a happy one," said her cousin Daniel.
"Never was there a happier interview, cousin. The noble officer's
kindness is unbounded, and his daughter is one of the loveliest beings I
"Perreeza, I trust, will not forget the kindness of Barzello, in the
warmth of her gratitude to her new friend," said Azariah.
"Never fear that, my dear brother. The remembrance of Barzello's kindness
is too deeply graven on Perreeza's heart to be ever forgotten; and while
I remain under the roof of the king's officer, I shall daily become more
and more deeply indebted to the kind Barzello."
"It must be that through his kind interposition our beloved sister found
so good a home," said Mishael, "and if this officer, under whose roof she
has found a shelter, partakes of the spirit of Barzello, her home must be
a happy one. Perreeza, does he appear like unto our noble friend?"
"The very image of him!" said the sister, laughing heartily. "Now,
brothers and cousin, let Perreeza undeceive you on this point. This noble
officer, whose house is to be my future home, is none other than our own
illustrious Barzello himself. This truth was made known to me in a way
that well-nigh prostrated me. Oh, brothers, is not this delightful?"
"Praised be Jehovah!" broke from the lips of the youths of Judah.
"For conversation we have but a short time," said Perreeza; "Barzello and
his lovely Jupheena are below, and will be here in a few moments, and
from hence I accompany them to their home. Hark ye! I hear their
Barzello, with a smiling countenance, entered the apartment, leading by
the hand his beautiful daughter. Perreeza ran to meet her young
companion, while the four youths were not wanting in appropriate
obeisance to the noble officer; all of which was closely watched by the
smiling young Chaldean maid.
"Have our young friends received any communications from any of the
king's officers since our last interview?"
"Thy servants have received no communication from any source, since the
departure of their kind friend, about the ninth hour," answered Daniel.
"To-morrow morning, peradventure, ye shall learn the pleasure of the king
in regard to your future course; and I trust ye will find that our noble
monarch is not wholly unmindful of your former rank and station in your
"Permit thy unworthy servants once more," said Azariah, "to acknowledge,
with grateful hearts, thy kind regards for their beloved sister, whom
thou hast taken as an inmate of thy hospitable mansion. Perreeza will
always delight to do thy pleasure, and to be the obedient servant of thy
amiable young daughter."
"Your sister, while under my roof, shall not be looked upon in an
inferior light. The chosen companion of my daughter will command due
respect from those in high circles. The maid of Judah need not feel
embarrassed, for her literary attainments will compare favorably with the
most polished maidens of her own age in Babylon. She is not a captive.
With the noble feeling of a sister's heart, and of her own accord, she
accompanied her brothers to a land of strangers. She is as free as any
daughter of Chaldea; and therefore my Jupheena will be happy to introduce
her to her friends in her real character, as a youthful maid of the royal
line of Judah. In thus drawing a line of distinction between yourselves
and your sister, far be it from me to think that your present relation to
our government renders you, in any real sense, inferior to others--'tis
but a name, and will soon be forgotten; for it is in the power of the
king to elevate you, not only to proper citizenship, but to high rank and
prominent stations in the government.
"Your sister will now accompany us home. Any article she wishes conveyed
thither, shall be sent for without delay. Now, my daughter, are we
"All ready, father, unless Perreeza has aught unfinished."
"I have naught to hinder," answered Perreeza, with a trembling voice.
IN A ROYAL apartment, decorated in superlative grandeur, sat the powerful
monarch of Chaldea. He was alone. His countenance bespoke a degree of
self-complacency and satisfaction. Around him, on a rich carpet, were
several large scrolls of manuscript, while, in his hand, he held
carelessly what appeared to be a well-arranged map of battle fields and
grand points of attack. Chaldea, at this time, was the seat of science
and learning. Thither the great of other nations resorted to acquire
literary distinction. Nebuchadnezzar, from his childhood, had been
initiated into all the arts and sciences; and, as he was a youth
possessing a superior mind, he made great proficiency in all his numerous
studies. Before he ascended the throne, he was pronounced to be one of
the brightest scholars within the whole realm; and now, although a
monarch, surrounded by a thousand cares and perplexities, he bestowed
much thought on his own favorite studies; and one of his most prominent
desires was the perpetuity and advancement of learning among his
subjects. A dull individual, however high in his rank, could never share
the company of the young King of Babylon. All who moved within the royal
enclosures, whether as courtiers, under-officers, or domestics, had to be
those of discerning minds and intelligence. What exact train of thought
occupied the monarch's mind at this time we may better judge, perhaps,
from the sequel. He rose from his reclining posture and lightly touched a
shining key, which instantly answered in a remote part of the royal
palace. The door opened, and an officer bowed himself into the apartment.
"And what is the pleasure of my lord the king?"
"Ashpenaz," said the king, in a familiar voice, "thou knowest well that
there is a painful scarcity of waiters to stand in the presence of the
king; and even those we have are not what I could desire them to be in
point of intelligence and cultivation. This must be remedied without
delay. My father's taste in this matter was somewhat different from mine.
Far be it from me to cast any reflection on the judgment of my
illustrious father; but the glory and splendor of my empire are on the
forward march, and things at the royal palace must not be permitted to
fall in the rear. I am about to lay a foundation to a measure that will
yet shed glory and luster on my reign. What is more mortifying, Ashpenaz,
while endeavoring to entertain our own dignitaries, and the visiting
nobles of other nations, than to witness the blundering ignorance of our
attendants? In this I cast no blame on my worthy and noble officer--by no
"In my last campaign I gave orders to convey to Babylon a number of young
men of the kingly line, both from Egypt and Judah. From the conversation
I had with Barzello, I am led to believe that there are among them some
very superior minds. Now, it is the wish of thy king that a number of
these youths be taken, and, in company with some of our own young men, be
trained up in the knowledge of our arts and sciences, and receive,
moreover, particular instruction in all the laws of etiquette, and court
customs and maxims, so as to be of efficient service to the king, and at
the same time reflect honor on their stations. About their instruction
there must be nothing shallow or superficial. There must be thorough
work. For this they must have reasonable time. I therefore appoint the
period of their studying to be three years, at the end of which let them
be brought before the king for examination; and let those who will be
able to give satisfaction be permitted to stand before the king.
Moreover, as diet of the best sort contributes both to the beauty of the
body and the improvement of the mind, let them have their daily portion
of the king's meat and the wine which he drinketh. Now, Ashpenaz, for
further information thou art to consult Barzello. He will select a
certain number of young men, and deliver them over to thee, and thou art
to lose no time in placing them under suitable instructors."
"Thy servant," replied Ashpenaz, "is ever happy to obey the orders of his
illustrious sovereign, which are always issued in that profound wisdom
derived only from the gods."
This officer stood high in the estimation of the king. He was calm,
dignified, and deeply experienced in all things pertaining to the duties
of his office. For a long time he had served as a confidential servant of
the king's father, and was highly honored by young and old at the court.
This dignitary was soon on his way towards the house of his friend
"Good-morning to my friend Ashpenaz," said Barzello, with a welcome
"And a good-morning to our excellent Barzello," was the hearty response.
"And how do things move on at the palace?"
"Oh, pleasantly. Our young monarch is bent on thorough reform in all
"Babylon needs reforming; and may he never pause until the work is
perfected. Long life to our good monarch!"
"Ah! my good Barzello, if all that is to be accomplished, he needs a long
life indeed. But I have but a short time to tarry. The king desires a
number of the royal captives of Judah and Egypt to be placed under proper
instructions to prepare them, after three years' training, to be royal
waiters at the palace. In thy wisdom thou art to select from among them
the most perfect in body and mind, and deliver them over to my charge;
and, according to the orders of his majesty, I shall immediately place
them under suitable teachers."
"This will be attended to without delay," answered Barzello. "Of those
from Egypt, there are quite a number of youths of high origin, and who,
for aught I know, may possess superior powers of mind. I have had no
great facilities to test their capacities. Of those from Judah, there are
only four that I can with confidence recommend to the care and charge of
my worthy friend. These four are noble specimens of humanity--beautiful in
bodily form and complexion, and truly amiable and excellent in mind. I
will assure my worthy friend that, of all the acquaintances I ever formed
among men, and they have been quite numerous in different lands, none
ever impressed me so favorably as these four youths from the land of
Judah. They worship no god but the God of the Hebrews. In this they show
but their faithfulness and their consistency. My worthy friend will
pardon my warmth in speaking of these children, for there are incidents
connected with their history, which I need not now mention, that have
greatly endeared them to thine unworthy friend; and I have no doubt that
thou wilt find them to be all they are recommended to be."
"I have all confidence in the judgment and wisdom of my worthy friend,"
answered Ashpenaz, "and it affords me much pleasure to hear such a
favorable report of those who are to be placed under my charge; and I
assure my good Barzello, that their worth and excellence will be duly
noticed and appreciated."
"If thou art in haste, I will accompany thee without delay to the young
men's apartments; perhaps thou wouldst be pleased to see them."
"After such a warm recommendation, it will certainly be quite a favor--but
where is thy sweet Jupheena? This call will hardly recompense me, if I
must leave without a glance at that little beauty."
"Ah, indeed! Perhaps our good friend Ashpenaz will have no objection to
gaze on two beauties instead of one."
"All the better, my friend."
A female servant was sent to the young ladies' room to inform them that
they were wanted below, and in a few minutes the two girls were seen,
side by side, marching into the presence of the delighted officers.
Perreeza never appeared lovelier. Attired in the rich, flowing simplicity
of her Hebrew costume, with a degree of blushing modesty on her yet
animated countenance, she appeared almost angelic. Jupheena, perfectly
acquainted with her father's friend, felt not the least embarrassment.
"Two beauties instead of one, surely," said Ashpenaz, gazing with wonder
on the fair form of Perreeza.
Barzello took the maid of Judah by the hand, and, approaching his friend,
"This is young Perreeza, of the royal line of Judah, who, of her own
accord, accompanied her brothers to the land of the Chaldeans, and has
seen fit to favor us with her company."
"No very small favor, Barzello," cried Ashpenaz, bowing low. "I hope the
partiality of the gods will not make us quarrel."
"Let not my noble friend be unjust to the gods. If the maid of Judah is
an inmate of the house of Barzello, I trust that three brothers and a
cousin, given to the sole charge of Ashpenaz, will convince him that the
gods are not partial."
"Ah! that will do," said Ashpenaz, still gazing on the maid of Judah.
"Perreeza," said Barzello, "from pure love for her three brothers, of
whom I spake, saw fit to leave her native land and venture her future
destiny among strangers."
"I trust," answered Ashpenaz, "they are indeed worthy of such a sister's
"That is a point soon settled in the minds of all who have the pleasure
of their acquaintance."
"Permit me to congratulate my young friend, Jupheena, on the happy
addition to the number of her youthful friends."
"Our beloved Ashpenaz may well congratulate," replied the young beauty;
"and let him be assured that his congratulations are warmly appreciated."
"And how does our young friend from Judah enjoy the society of her
"Thy young handmaiden enjoys their society much," modestly replied
Perreeza. "If she stands in any danger, it must be from an excess of
"I trust the maid of Judah will sustain no material injury from any
amount of kindness received in my house," said Barzello, laughing. "If
she does, she must charge it to herself; for, under the circumstances, to
be less kind is entirely out of our power."
"Barzello," cried the visitor, "thy house is a famous spot for officers
to forget their great hurry. Come, my good friend, business is pressing;
let us be away. A good-day to the 'two beauties instead of one.'"
And the two officers hurried from the apartment, entered a chariot, and
were on their way to the appointed place.
"A charming damsel that, Barzello."
"All of that, my worthy friend."
"What are her literary attainments?"
"All that Judah's capital could bestow."
"How will she compare with the refined maids of Babylon?"
"She will compare favorably with the most polished in Chaldea."
"Verily. And the brothers?"
"All thy richest fancies could paint them."
"And yet captives of war!"
"Yea--captives of war."
"The captivity of genius must be of short duration."
The chariot halted. The two officers alighted, and without delay they
hastened to the apartments of the Hebrew youths.
"A happy day to the youths of Judah," said Barzello, in a lively tone.
"This is my noble friend, Ashpenaz, a high officer of the king at the
palace. From this hour ye are to be under his special directions."
"Thy servants," replied Daniel, bowing gracefully, "will be greatly
delighted to be placed in any spot where they can be of service to their
"To-morrow, then," said Ashpenaz, "ye shall enter upon new duties, and
commence your important studies. Your teachers are in readiness--men of
superior powers of mind, and well versed in the art of teaching. The king
himself will be greatly interested in your progress, and therefore has
prepared apartments for the students within the royal enclosures, where
he will at times appear personally to learn of their advancement.
To-morrow, at the third hour, ye will hold yourselves in readiness to be
"Thy servants will be in readiness at the appointed hour," said Daniel.
"Now for the Egyptians, Barzello," said Ashpenaz, smiling, as they left
AT THE appointed hour, our youths, in company with many others, were
conveyed to their new habitation, which was a beautiful building, erected
in the vicinity of the king's palace. Here all the students were received
with great civility, and commended to their different apartments. The
four Hebrews were not separated, but were permitted to remain as
heretofore. They found that everything conducive to their comfort and
enjoyment had been provided here as well as at the apartments they had
left. Hitherto they had no knowledge of the manner in which they were to
receive instruction, or the precise nature of their studies. They knew
the Chaldeans to be noted for their learning, and they were not without
their fears lest the Babylonian youths who were to be their
fellow-students should outstrip them, and leave them far in the distance;
however, they were fully determined to acquit themselves to the utmost of
their ability, and leave the result with the God of their fathers.
Nothing could have given them greater satisfaction than the course marked
out for them by the king. Indeed, if it had been left to their own choice
to select, it could not have been otherwise. From the days of their early
childhood they had been close students, and they had become well versed
in Hebrew lore, and had a fair knowledge of Chaldee, which was often
studied in Judah, as an ornamental branch of education. This proved a
very favorable item in their experience, but there were numerous studies
before them, to which, as Jews, they were utter strangers, and to acquire
even a respectable knowledge of which demanded much time and
perseverance. The king was aware of this when he appointed the time of
their probation to be three years. The Egyptian youths were of royal
descent, and had some knowledge of the Chaldee, and were well acquainted
with several branches of learning pertaining to their native land. The
Chaldean portion of the students were mostly of the city of Babylon, and
already somewhat advanced in what was considered the higher branches.
When conducted to their respective rooms, they were given to understand
that, at a certain signal, they were all to assemble below, where
Ashpenaz would meet them, address them, and enlighten them in regard to
the duties of their future course.
The four Hebrews were quietly seated in one of their apartments, each one
engaged in satisfying his curiosity by gazing at the richly carved
casings and highly ornamented articles of furniture.
"Well, cousins," said Daniel, with a smile, "I trust they will not
un-Hebrew us with their Chaldean mysteries."
"If I forget thee, O Jerusalem!" said Azariah, with feeling, "let my
right hand forget her cunning."
"Let my tongue be palsied if I forget, for a day, the loved ones at
home," said Hananiah.
"When the sweet memories of our beloved Prophet shall be obliterated from
this bosom," said Mishael, laying his hand upon his breast, "then let me
be utterly forsaken."
"The law of Jehovah shall be the rule of our actions," said Daniel; "to
him we yield our hearty and willing obedience."
The grand signal was heard below, and, without delay, the young men, from
different parts of the building, were seen hurrying to the commodious
apartment set apart for the occasion. Here they found a number of the
king's officers assembled, among whom the youths of Judah recognized the
pleasant countenance of Barzello. They were soon seated in perfect order,
and Babylon never witnessed, in personal appearance, a more interesting
group of youths. They were received by the officers with a smile of
satisfaction, and with a look of admiration. Presently, the dignified
form of Ashpenaz was seen moving slowly towards the rostrum; he ascended,
gracefully bowed to the officers on either side, and proceeded:
"It is of the utmost importance that those who are destined to minister
in the king's presence should be well initiated into the ways and
manners, maxims and customs of our nation, and be well versed in all the
learning of the Chaldeans. Nothing short of this can meet the demands and
reasonable expectations of our great monarch; and for this he has
carefully provided every facility. Your teachers are of the most superior
in the realm, and an ample period is appointed for the perfection of your
"In addition to literary attainments, the king looks for moral integrity,
uprightness of character, and true amiability of deportment. Without
these, the most learned can never add to the real dignity of the court,
nor to the stability of the Empire; but, on the contrary, such a one
destitute of moral principle must prove a dangerous element in any and
all communities. Let this be deeply impressed on your youthful minds, and
seek earnestly to cultivate those nobler powers of the mind, as well as
the intellectual faculties.
"Those of you from Egypt, and especially those of you from Judah, have no
faith in our gods, or sympathy with our mode of worship. From your
infancy ye have been taught to do homage to the God of your fathers and
to his worship ye have pledged your future lives. The King of Babylon, in
his great wisdom, has seen fit to put no obstacles between you and the
worship of your deities. Ye are at liberty to serve your gods and adore
after the dictates of your own consciences; and, moreover, ye are not
required to perform any act that may be contrary to your religious
convictions. I trust that this great favor will be rightly appreciated,
and never abused. While ye are thus kindly permitted to worship your own
gods, show no disrespect to those who may differ from you, and on whose
good-will and favor your future success must greatly depend.
"As a proof of his high regard for your physical and intellectual
prosperity, the king has appointed your meat and drink to be conveyed
from his own table. This, indeed, is an honor conferred on but few in
Babylon. Thus, ye readily perceive that nothing is wanting that is in the
least calculated to enhance your comfort or speed your literary progress.
Ye have but to apply yourselves diligently to your studies and be careful
to maintain a correct deportment, and ye shall reap the reward of
fidelity, in being permitted to stand in the presence of the king.
"It is the desire of your sovereign that those from Egypt and Judah be
known hereafter by names more suitable to the country in which ye now
abide. These names ye shall hereafter learn from your teachers. Ye may
now return in perfect order to your respective apartments. To-morrow at
the second hour, at a given signal, ye will appear at this place again,
and formally enter upon your studies."
The four youths, after having reached their rooms, for a while sat in
silence; and from the countenance of Daniel it might have been easily
gathered that all was not well. The brothers were not slow to notice
this, and it caused them some uneasiness. Usually their cousin took the
lead in all conversation, but at this time Daniel was mute.
"Well, cousin," said Azariah, "how wast thou pleased with the address of
our new master?"
"Highly pleased, upon the whole. He surely is a man of kind feelings and
"But my dear cousin seems somewhat disconsolate and much less cheerful
than when we left this apartment one hour ago. We are at a loss to find a
cause for this sudden change."
"I perceive that a certain part of the address, which struck me as rather
unfortunate for us, was not looked upon in that light by my worthy
"I suppose thou hast reference to that part relating to the change of
names. For my part, I am not overtenacious on that point, for to me thou
wilt always remain 'Cousin Daniel,' and to thee, I trust, I shall always
be 'Cousin Azariah;' and if the Chaldeans prefer to call me
Bel-sha-bo-raze-ba-phoo, and my Cousin Daniel Sha-go-mer-zalta-ba-phee,
or some other long name, let them by all means be gratified."
"My worthy cousin is mistaken in regard to this point," said Daniel,
smiling, while the three brothers, for the first time in Babylon, joined
in a hearty laugh. "As far as names are concerned, they are welcome to
add on the syllables to their hearts' content; but, seriously, cousins,
there is a point that, if not rightly managed, will entangle us in
serious difficulties. I have reference to that part which made mention of
our meat and drink. How can we, as Hebrews, defile ourselves with meats,
portions of which are offered to idols, and with wine sacrificed to the
gods of Chaldea? This would be in direct violation of the law of our God.
To this we can never consent; and, moreover, we are not accustomed to
these dainties, and such high living can never be conducive to our health
and happiness. Ye know, cousins, that from beholding the drunken
degradation of those in high authority in Judah, our parents, many years
ago, arrived at the wise conclusion that their children, in order to
escape the pit-falls into which others had fallen, should never be
counted among wine-drinkers. To this desire of our fond parents we
strictly adhered while in Jerusalem, although often ridiculed by drunken
wit, and frowned upon by countenances flushed with strong drink. Shall
we, then, in a strange land, forget the covenant of our God, and violate
our sacred obligations to our beloved parents? No, cousins, this must
never be. I trust we may yet be excused, for we were informed that we
would not be required to perform any act against our religious
convictions. Our food must remain simple, as in Judah; and by this we
shall not only adhere to the requirements of Jehovah, but we shall also
be better able to master those arduous studies which stand before us in
such formidable array."
"Right, noble cousin," cried Azariah, hastening up to Daniel and grasping
him affectionately by the hand; "always right! On thee be the sole
management of the business; and we are confident that, as usual, under
the blessing of our God, we shall come forth triumphantly."
"First of all, then, I must have an interview with our kind master."
Footsteps were now heard approaching their apartment. Daniel opened the
door, and, finding there a servant of Ashpenaz, addressed him:
"Will the servant of our noble master have the kindness to convey to him
a message, in few words, from one of the youths of Judah?"
"The servant of my lord Ashpenaz will always be happy to do all in his
power for the comfort and happiness of those from Judah; and any message
to my lord I am ready to convey."
"The message is this: Daniel, of the captivity of Judah, asks the favor
of a short interview with his kind lord, Ashpenaz."
The servant respectfully bowed and departed, and, in a few moments,
Daniel stood in the presence of his kind friend.
"And what is the pleasure of my young friend from Judah?"
Here Daniel explained, in an eloquent manner, the objections he and his
three companions had to partaking of the portion of the king's meat and
the wine which he drank.
"This is rather a delicate point, my young friend," answered Ashpenaz,
with a degree of perplexity visible on his countenance. "If your meat and
drink were of my own appointment, your request could be granted with the
greatest ease and pleasure; but since the order comes from the king, I
see not how it can be granted without disobedience to superior orders.
The king desires to give you every opportunity to improve, if possible,
your appearance. I fear my lord the king. For why should he see your
faces worse looking than the children which are of your degree? Then
shall ye make me endanger my head to the king."
"Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days," said Daniel, turning
towards Melzar, "and let them give us vegetable food, and pure cold water
to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the
countenances of the children that eat of the portion of the king's meat;
and as thou seest, deal with thy servants."
"Well," replied Ashpenaz, smiling, "if the king's object is accomplished,
I trust he is not tenacious about the article of food; so, Melzar, let
our young friends be gratified in this respect. Let them have a trial of
ten days, and, if at the end of that time they have retained their beauty
and freshness, let them be fed with vegetables."
"Permit me, in the absence of my three cousins, to offer their gratitude,
with my own, to our noble lord for his kind favor," said Daniel,
gracefully bowing himself out of the apartment.
The morning of the tenth day dawned upon our Hebrew captives. Their days
of trial were soon over, and they felt no fear of the scrutinizing gaze
of Melzar. Health and beauty played on their fair cheeks, and they were
well prepared for the inspection; and Melzar declared, with due humility,
in their presence, that such countenances were not to be found in all
Babylon. Now, Melzar was an excellent judge of beauty.
Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they
should drink, and gave them pulse.
AS BOTH Barzello and his daughter were highly esteemed in Babylon,
Perreeza made many delightful acquaintances and was much sought after.
She was happy in her new life, and by her many accomplishments and sweet
disposition greatly endeared herself to her new found friends.
Among the acquaintances of Barzello, with whom the king's trusted officer
had been on terms of intimacy for a long term of years, was one Joram, a
rich merchant of the city. Joram was understood to have great influence
at court, owing to the fact that he had traveled all over the then known
world and possessed a valuable knowledge of many nations. His life was a
mysterious one, and, while he was credited with being the richest man in
Babylon, he was little seen outside of his place of business; but many
politicians consulted him, and the king had been known to send his
chariot for Joram day after day when great affairs of state were on hand.
It had also leaked out that people of distinction from other countries
visited the great merchant, and it was correctly surmised in political
circles that Joram had helped to shape many a commercial treaty in the
interests of the Babylonian monarch.
With all his mystery and reticence and secret power, Joram was a loyal
subject of Nebuchadnezzar and ably seconded the king's efforts for
advancing the greatness of Babylon. His family consisted of his wife and
an adopted son. The latter was a young man of fine attainments, and was
being educated in statecraft as well as mercantile affairs.
Early one evening Barzello had succeeded in persuading Joram to accompany
him home. He had spoken of the young captives and the beautiful Perreeza,
and wished the merchant and his family to know them. The two elderly men
were accompanied to the officer's house by Mathias, the adopted son of
Joram. They were warmly greeted by Jupheena, who smilingly conducted
Mathias to another part of the house for the purpose of introducing him
"Maid of Judah," said Jupheena, "I have the pleasure of presenting thee
to the honorable Mathias, son of our most excellent Joram."
At these words the maid arose with calmness and beautiful dignity,
appearing like an angel in human form, and gently responded to the very
low bow of the young Babylonian. The conversation soon became animated.
Mathias talked with all the warmth of his noble nature, producing a very
favorable impression on the mind of the maid of Judah.
"To me it is quite refreshing," said Perreeza, "to hear a name that is
familiar in Israel. I have many relatives in Judah who are called by thy
"Our national feelings are strong," said the young man, "and, if I have
learned correctly, this feeling is said to be stronger in the Hebrew
heart than in all others."
"I am not so well prepared to vouch for the correctness of the
sentiment," said Perreeza, "but if my own feelings be an index to the
sentiments of others of my nation, the saying is abundantly true."
"It is certainly an admirable trait of character," said the young man,
"and the individual in a foreign land who can think of the home of his
fathers without strong emotion is not, in my opinion, an individual to be
"Permit the maid of Judah to thank her friend for that noble sentiment."
Here the conversation was arrested by a signal from Barzello, and the
young people went forward to join the other members of the family.
"This is Perreeza, of the royal line of Judah," said Barzello, taking the
maid gently by the hand, "whom I have the great pleasure of presenting to
my illustrious friend Joram."
The blushing maid modestly bowed while Joram took her by the hand and
said, with unusual feeling, "May the blessing of the God of thy fathers,
dear maid, accompany thy footsteps in a foreign land."
This blessing from the lips of a Babylonian was deeply appreciated by the
young woman, who was already touched by the kindness with which she was
met on every hand.
"The Lily of the Valley," said Joram, referring to Jupheena, "has found a
sweet companion, and the maid of Judah, I trust, will not be displeased
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