The Three Bodyguards
Sailasa Tora demonstrated his storytelling skills at our weekend service with the captivating tale from 1 Esdras of three bodyguards. Set in a mighty long ago kingdom, the personal bodyguards of a powerful king had a debate. The winner would win a wonderful prize.
An account of Zerubbabel appears in 1 Esdra, which many scholars believe is a Greek version of the book of Ezra, though with some additions. From a webpage about "Bible Dudes" it says: The book of First Esdras is basically a reproduction of 2 Chronicles 35-36, Ezra, and Nehemiah 7:38-8:12, and for some mysterious reason ends mid-sentence of Nehemiah 8:13 with "And they assembled..." But there are some things that are unique to this book. The author seems motivated to emphasize three individuals who reformed Jewish worship: Josiah, Zerubbabel, and Ezra. The most famous story in First Esdras has to do with a contest involving Zerubbabel, a descendant of David who lead Jews back from exile to Jerusalem and who rebuilt the temple. It all takes place in the court of the Persian king Darius. And here is Darius to better explain the story.
Darius: "I'll never forget that day. The night before I threw one wing-ding of a party, and while I slept my three bodyguards decided to partake in a wisdom contest to determine what on earth is the strongest. The first argued wine is the strongest, as it makes kings and orphans equal, and allows all people to forget sorrow and debt. The second argued that the king is the strongest, as they can demand things like war, and if people disobey their word-they die.
The third bodyguard was a nice Jewish boy named Zerubbabel, and he said that women are the strongest, but truth is victor over all things. He explained that women give birth to kings and raise vintners who produce wine. They bring glory to men, and men cannot exist without them. Moreover, truth endures and prevails for ever and ever. It has no partiality, plays no favorites, and unlike wine, kings and women, truth alone is righteous.
While I didn't much care for my position as king being called "unrighteous," I had to admit Zerubbabel, you won the contest, and I granted you whatever you wanted."