Verse 8 epitomizes the value of knowledge. Verse 28, parental affection. Note especially the question in Verse 26 and the answer. Also note the question in Verse 47 and the answer. This is sage advice for business men.
ON the following day the same arrangements were e for the banquet, and the king, as soon as an opportunity occurred, began to put questions to the men who sat next to those who had already responded, and he said to the first 'Is wisdom capable of being taught?'
2 And he said, 'The soul is so constituted that it is able by the divine power to receive all the good and reject the contrary.'
3 The king expressed approval and asked the next man, What is it that is most beneficial to health?
4 And he said, 'Temperance, and it is not possible to acquire this unless God create a disposition towards it.'
5 The king spoke kindly to the man and said to another, 'How can a man worthily pay the debt of gratitude to his parents?'
6 And he said, 'By never causing them pain, and this is not possible unless God dispose the mind to the pursuit of the noblest ends.'
7 The king expressed agreement and asked the next, how he could become an eager listener?
8 And he said, 'By remembering
that all knowledge is useful, because it enables you by the help of God in a time of emergency to select some of the things which you have learned and apply them to the crisis which confronts you. And so the efforts of men are fulfilled by the assistance of God.'
9 The king praised him and asked the next How he could avoid doing anything contrary to law?
10 And he said, 'If you recognize that it is God who has put the thoughts into the hearts of the lawgivers that the lives of men might be preserved, you will follow them.'
11 The king acknowledged the man's answer and said to another, 'What is the advantage of kinship?'
12 And he replied, 'If we consider that we ourselves are afflicted by the misfortunes which fall upon our relatives and if their sufferings become our own--then the strength of kinship is apparent at once, for it is only when such feeling is shown that we shall win honour and esteem in their eyes. For help, when it is linked with kindliness, is of itself a bond which is altogether indissoluble. And in the day of their prosperity we must not crave their possessions, but must pray God to bestow all manner of good upon them.'
13 And having accorded to him the same praise as to the rest, the king asked another, how he could attain freedom from fear?
14 And he said, 'When the mind is conscious that it has wrought no evil, and when God directs it to all noble counsels.'
15 The king expressed his approval and asked another, how he could always maintain a right judgement?
16 And he replied, 'If he constantly set before his eyes the misfortunes which befall men and recognized that it is God who takes away prosperity from some and brings others to great honour and glory.'
17 The king gave a kindly reception to the man and asked the next to answer the question, how he could avoid a life of ease and pleasure?
18 And he replied, 'If he continually remembered that he was the ruler of a great empire and the lord of vast multitudes, and that his mind ought not to be occupied with other things, but, he ought always to be considering how he could best promote their welfare. He must pray, too, to God that no duty might be neglected.'
19 Having bestowed praise upon him, the king asked the tenth, how he could recognize those who were dealing treacherously with him?
20 And he replied to the question, 'If he observed whether the bearing of those about him was natural and whether they maintained the proper rule of precedence at receptions and councils, and in their general intercourse, never going beyond the bounds of propriety in congratulations or in other matters of deportment. But God will incline your mind, O King, to all that is noble.'
21 When the king had expressed his loud approval and praised them all individually (amid the plaudits of all who were present), they turned to the enjoyment of the feast.
22 And on the next day, when the opportunity offered, the king asked the next man, What is the grossest form of neglect?
23 And he replied, 'If a man does not care for his children and devote every effort to their education. For we always pray to God not so much for ourselves as for our children that every blessing may be theirs. Our desire that our children may
possess self-control is only realized by the power of God.'
24 The king said that he had spoken well and then asked another, how he could be patriotic?
25 'By keeping before your mind,' he replied, 'the thought that it is good to live and die in one's own country. Residence abroad 1 brings contempt upon the poor and shame upon the rich as though they had been banished for a crime. If you bestow benefits upon all, as you continually do, God will give you favour with all and you will be accounted patriotic."
26 After listening to this man, the king asked the next in order, how he could live amicably with his wife?
27 And he answered, 'By recognizing that womankind are by nature headstrong and energetic in the pursuit of their own desires, and subject to sudden changes of opinion through fallacious reasoning, and their nature is essentially weak. It is necessary to deal wisely with them and not to provoke strife. For the successful conduct of life. the steersman must know the goal toward which he ought to direct his course. It is only by calling upon the help of God that men can steer a true course of life at all times.'
28 The king expressed his agreement and asked the next, how he could be free from error?
29 And he replied, 'If you always act with deliberation and never give credence to slanders, but prove for yourself the things that are said to you and decide by your own judgement the requests which are made to you and carry out everything in the light of your judgement, you will be free from error, O King. But the knowledge and practice of these things is the work of the Divine power.'
30 Delighted with these words, the king asked another, how he could be free from wrath?
31 And he said in reply to the question, 'If he recognized that he had power over all even to inflict death upon them, if he gave way to wrath, and that it would be useless and pitiful if he, just because he was lord, deprived many of life.
32 What need was there for wrath, when all men were in subjection and no one was hostile to him? It is necessary to recognize that God rules the whole world in the spirit of kindness and without wrath at all, and you,' said he, 'O King, must of necessity copy His example.'
33 The king said that he had answered well and then inquired of the next man, What is good counsel?
34 'To act well at all times and with due reflection,' he explained, 'comparing what is advantageous to our own policy with the injurious effects that would result from the adoption of the opposite view, in order that by weighing every point we may be well advised and our purpose may be accomplished. And most important of all, by the power of God every plan of yours will find fulfilment because you practise piety.'
35 The king said that this man had answered well, and asked another, What is philosophy?
36 And he explained, 'To deliberate well in reference to any question that emerges and never to be carried away by impulses, but to ponder over the injuries that result from the passions, and to act rightly as the circumstances demand, practising moderation. But we must pray to God to instil into our mind a regard for these things.'
37 The king signified his consent and asked another, how he
could meet with recognition when traveling abroad?
38 'By being fair to all men,' he replied, 'and by appearing to be inferior rather than superior to those amongst whom he was traveling. For it is a recognized principle that God by His very nature accepts the humble. And the human race loves those who are willing to be in subjection to them.'
39 Having expressed his approval at this reply, the king asked another, how he could build in such a way that his structures would endure after him?
40 And he replied to the question, 'If his creations were on a great and noble scale, so that the beholders would spare them for their beauty, and if he never dismissed any of those who wrought such works and never compelled others to minister to his needs without wages.
41 For observing how God provides for the human race, granting them health and mental capacity and. all other gifts, he himself should follow His example by rendering to men a recompense for their arduous toil. 1 For it is the deeds that are wrought in righteousness that abide continually!
42 The king said that this man, too, had answered well and asked the tenth, What is the fruit of wisdom?
43 And he replied, 'That a man should be conscious in himself that he has wrought no evil and that he should live his life in the truth. Since it is from these, O mighty King, that the greatest joy and steadfastness of soul and strong faith in God accrue to you if you rule your realm in piety.'
4.4 And when they heard the answer they all shouted with loud acclaim, and afterwards the king in the fullness of his joy began to drink their healths.
45 And on the next day the banquet followed the same course as on previous occasions, and when the opportunity presented itself the king proceeded to put questions to the remaining guests, and he said to the first, 'How can a man keep himself from pride?'
46 And he replied, 'If he maintains equality and remembers on all occasions that he is a man ruling over men. And God brings the proud to nought, and exalts the meek and humble!
47 The king spoke kindly to him and asked the next, Whom ought a man to select as his counsellors?
48 And he replied, 'Those who have been tested in many affairs and maintain unmingled goodwill towards him and partake of his own disposition. And God manifests Himself to those who are worthy that these ends may be attained.'
49 The king praised him and asked another, What is the most necessary possession for a king?
50 'The friendship and love of his subjects,' he replied, 'for it is through this that the bond of goodwill is rendered indissoluble. And it is God who ensures that this may come to pass in accordance with your wish.'
51 The king praised him and inquired of another, What is goal of speech? And he replied, 'To convince your opponent by showing him his mistakes in a well-ordered army of arguments.
52 For in this way you will win your hearer, not by opposing him, but by bestowing praise upon him with a view to persuading him. And it is by the power of God that persuasion is accomplished.'
53 The king said that he had given a good answer, and asked another, how he could live amicably with the many different races who formed the population of his kingdom?
54 'By acting the proper part towards each,' he replied, 'and taking righteousness as your guide, as you are now doing with the help of the insight which God bestows upon you.'
55 The king was delighted by this reply, and asked another, 'Under what circumstances ought a man to suffer grief?'
56 'In the misfortunes that befall our friends,' he replied, 'when we see that they are protracted and irremediable. Reason does not allow us to grieve for those who are dead and set free from evil, but all men do grieve over them because they think only of themselves and their own advantage. It is by the power of God alone that we can escape all evil!
57 The king said that he had given a fitting answer, and asked another, how is reputation lost?
58 And he replied, 'When pride and unbounded self-confidence hold sway, dishonour and loss of reputation are engendered. For God is the Lord of all reputation and bestows it where He will.'
59 The king gave his confirmation to the answer, and asked the next man, To whom ought men to entrust themselves?
60 'To those,' he replied, 'who serve you from goodwill and not from fear or self-interest, thinking only of their own gain. For the one is the sign of love, the other the mark of ill will and time-serving.
61 For the man who is always watching for his own gain is a traitor at heart. But you possess the affection of all your subjects by the help of the good counsel which God bestows upon you.'
62 The king said that he had answered wisely, and asked another, What is it that keeps a kingdom safe?
63 And he replied to the question, 'Care and forethought that no evil may be wrought by those who are placed in a position of authority over the people, and this you always do by the help of God who inspires you with grave judgement.'
64 The king spoke words of encouragement to him, and asked another, What is it that maintains gratitude and honour?
65 And he replied, 'Virtue, for it is the creator of good deeds, and by it evil is destroyed, even as you exhibit nobility of character towards all by the gift which God bestows upon you.'
66 The king graciously acknowledged the answer and asked the eleventh (since there were two more than seventy), how he could in time of war maintain tranquillity of soul?
67 And he replied, 'By remembering that he had done no evil to any of his subjects, and that all would fight for him in return for the benefits which they had received, knowing that even if they lose their lives, you will care for those dependent on them. For you never fail to make reparation to any--such is the kind-heartedness with which God has inspired you.'
68 The king loudly applauded them all and spoke very kindly to them and then drank a long draught to the health of each, giving himself up to enjoyment, and lavishing the most generous and joyous friendship upon his guests.
169:1 There were foreign residents in those days too.
170:1 The policy of a fair wage for a fair day's work is here seen to be not so modern as we sometimes think in what we are pleased to call this enlightened age.