Artful Counsel.

When a difficulty springeth up before an intelligent man,
So that by that difficulty his business is hindered,
He uniteth with his own the intelligence of another,
Who may give him his assistance in solving the difficulty.
If his house is not sufficiently lighted by one taper,
He kindleth another taper to add to its brightness.
But this word applieth to the right-seeing only,
To those who sit exalted in the seat of rectitude;
Apply it not to the crookedness of those who love crookedness,
For from two crooked things cometh only increase of crookedness.
When Joseph’s brothers were assembled together,
In order to deliberate on Joseph’s affairs,
One of them said:—“He hath caused the blood of our envy to flow,
We must use our cunning to make his flow also.
When thou hast got the power, shed thine enemy’s blood,
For in shedding his blood thou wilt escape from thine enemy:
When he is slain thy secret remaineth hidden,
For from the slain never voice cometh near.”
The second spoke:—“This way were to walk in the way of the faithless,
That we should think of slaying a guiltless man.
We may spur on the steed of punishment,
But not to the extremity of slaying,—we who are of the Faithful!
Our end will be obtained by banishing him from this region,
Rather than by killing, or smiting, or murdering him.
It were better to cast him forth, far from his father,
Into some dreadful valley—secluded and abandoned;
Some wilderness, where is naught but wild beasts and pitfalls,
Save foxes and wolves, all of good and evil,
Where his drink will be only the tear of despair,
And his bread be only the disk of the sun,
No shade over him save the darkness of the night,
And no bed under him save the lancets of thorns:
When he hath abided thus only a few days,
He will doubtless come to his death, but die of himself;
Our swords will not be tinged with his blood,
And we shall be free from his wiles and enchantments.”
A third said:—“This mode of killing is quite unlawful!
What kind of killing can be worse than this?
For to yield up the soul under the dagger in a moment
Is surely better than to die of thirst or famine.
It were best, far or near, in the place where we are,
To seek out a well, deep and narrow,
Into which we may cast him, with every indignity,
Down from the seat of exaltation and glory;
Perchance there may come thither some caravan,
Which may stop to rest itself awhile at this resting place,
And some one may lower a bucket into the well,
And draw up him instead of water.
He may adopt him for his own son, or take him as a slave,
And rejoicing in his booty carry him away:
So all his tie to this place will be cut off,
And calamity will not come on his account to us.”*