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Chapter V

1. WHEN the day arrived for the slaughter of the male infants, not more than a thousand mothers appeared at the place of execution with their infants, the others having risen in the night previous and departed out of the gates, upward of eighty-nine thousand mothers.

2. When the king went to the place of execution, having set apart the day p. 182b as a holiday, and not finding but a thousand infants present, he inquired the reason, and, having been told, he said: Can it be that mothers love their offspring more than they respect the decrees of the king? Asha was standing near, having stripped himself ready for execution, and he answered the king, saying:

3. Because they love their offspring, is it not the love of the flesh? And doth not the law stand above all flesh? In this matter, then, because they have evaded the law, they have adjudged themselves also to death.

4. Then came Betraj, the king's wife, bringing the infant. Betraj said: Here is thy son, O king, ready for the sacrifice. Asha reasonest well; there must be an All Highest, which never erreth; which is the law of the king. Take thou my flesh and blood and prove thy decrees. What! Why hesitate? If thou swerve one jot or tittle, then shalt thou open the door for all men to find an excuse against the law. Doth not the sun blight a harvest when he will? Yea, and strike dead our most beloved? Art thou not descended from the Sun Gods? Who will obey the laws if thou, thyself, do not?

5. The king said: Behold, it is yet early morn; let the officers go fetch all who have escaped beyond the walls, and both mothers and children shall be put to death. Till then, let the proceedings be suspended. Now there had congregated a vast multitude, anxious to witness the slaughter; and when the king suspended matters, there went up cries of disappointment. And many said: When a thing toucheth the king, he is a coward.

6. The king returned for his palace, leaving Asha standing stripped for the execution. And the multitude cried out: More is Asha like a king than So-qi. Let us make him king. King So-qi! We will not have a sheep for a king! And none could stay them, or be heard above their noise; and they ran after the king and slew him with stones, and they made Asha King of the Sun. And there was not one infant slain according to the decrees.

7. God saith: Think not, O man, that things happen without a cause, or that all things are left to chance. In my works I go beforehand and plan p. 183b the way, even more carefully than a captain lieth siege to a city. Before Zarathustra was born I sent ashars to choose out my personages. Think not that Asha made his own arguments; but by virtue of the presence of my ashars, whom he saw not, he spake and behaved in my commandments, not knowing it. And even so was it with the king's wife; my angels also inspired her to speak before the king. And those that fled out of the city, were inspired by my hosts of angels.

8. God said: Yet with the king's decree I had no part, for I foresaw he would do this of his own will; and with the multitude in slaying the king I had no part, for I saw they would do this on their own account. Neither would the multitude hear my voice, even though I had spoken to every man's soul; for in them tetracts were the ascendant power.

9. God saith: The multitude slew the king because he had gone so far from me he heeded me not. And I made Asha king, because he came so near me my power was with him through my ashars.

Next: Chapter VI