King Wen: Virtuous Ruler of the Zhou Kingdom

November 20, 2012 12:20 am Last Updated: October 1, 2015 11:49 am
The kings of two neighbouring kingdoms who sought King Wen's judgment for a boundary conflict were so moved by the courtesy, mutual consideration, and gentlemanly conduct of the Zhou people that they both decided to give the disputed land to the other. (Blue Hsiao/The Epoch Times)
The kings of two neighbouring kingdoms who sought King Wen's judgment for a boundary conflict were so moved by the courtesy, mutual consideration, and gentlemanly conduct of the Zhou people that they both decided to give the disputed land to the other. (Blue Hsiao/The Epoch Times)

King Wen of the Zhou Kingdom (周文王)  (1152–1056 B.C.) from the Shang Dynasty (商朝) was known for ruling by means of moral virtue and kindness. He taught the people to be honest, virtuous, and respectful to God.

He often said: “The king shall rule the people with benevolence, officials shall manage the people with care, children shall respect their parents with filial piety, parents shall raise their children with love, and the people shall associate with one another in good faith.”

King Wen was very meticulous, cautious, and conscientious. He set an example for the people, wearing simple clothes and often working together with farmers in the fields.

His first thought was for the good of the people. He provided prompt help and care to the poor. He reduced taxes for farmers and encouraged hard work by charging a tax rate of only one-ninth, allowing the farmers to save and earn a proper living.

King Wen also eliminated import and export tariffs and abolished the law that punished wives and children for crimes committed by their husbands or fathers.

Once, two neighbouring kingdoms had some conflicts over boundaries. Knowing that King Wen was honourable, upright, and highly respected, the two kings went to the Zhou Kingdom to seek his judgment.

When they arrived, it made a deep impression on them to observe the courtesy, peacefulness, mutual consideration, and gentlemanly conduct of the Zhou people. Touched by what they saw and feeling ashamed, both kings decided to give the disputed land to the other king.

The dukes near the Zhou Kingdom learned about the matter and all gave high respect to King Wen as a model for how to govern. All came to Zhou and promised to obey Wen and become part of the Zhou Kingdom.

King Wen knew that a state could not be administered well without virtuous and capable persons to assist him. When he heard that Jiang Ziya (姜子牙) was a very virtuous sage with profound knowledge, he visited Jiang and asked Jiang to serve as his adviser in governing the state.

Jiang first assisted King Wen and later his second son, King Wu (周武王) of the Zhou Kingdom.

The virtuous and benevolent manner in which King Wen ruled the kingdom laid a solid foundation for future generations for the good rule of the united nation.

The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 19 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.