3Now King Darius gave a great banquet for all that were under him, all that were born in his house, and all the nobles of Media and Persia, 2and all the satraps and generals and governors that were under him in the hundred and twenty-seven satrapies from India to Ethiopia. 3They ate and drank, and when they were satisfied they went away, and King Darius went to his bedroom; he went to sleep, but woke up again.
4 Then the three young men of the bodyguard, who kept guard over the person of the king, said to one another, 5Let each of us state what one thing is strongest; and to the one whose statement seems wisest, King Darius will give rich gifts and great honours of victory. 6He shall be clothed in purple, and drink from gold cups, and sleep on a gold bed,* and have a chariot with gold bridles, and a turban of fine linen, and a necklace around his neck; 7and because of his wisdom he shall sit next to Darius and shall be called Kinsman of Darius.
8 Then each wrote his own statement, and they sealed them and put them under the pillow of King Darius, 9and said, When the king wakes, they will give him the writing; and to the one whose statement the king and the three nobles of Persia judge to be wisest the victory shall be given according to what is written. 10The first wrote, Wine is strongest. 11The second wrote, The king is strongest. 12The third wrote, Women are strongest, but above all things truth is victor.*
13 When the king awoke, they took the writing and gave it to him, and he read it. 14Then he sent and summoned all the nobles of Persia and Media and the satraps and generals and governors and prefects, 15and he took his seat in the council chamber, and the writing was read in their presence. 16He said, Call the young men, and they shall explain their statements. So they were summoned, and came in. 17They said to them, Explain to us what you have written.
Then the first, who had spoken of the strength of wine, began and said: 18Gentlemen, how is wine the strongest? It leads astray the minds of all who drink it. 19It makes equal the mind of the king and the orphan, of the slave and the free, of the poor and the rich. 20It turns every thought to feasting and mirth, and forgets all sorrow and debt. 21It makes all hearts feel rich, forgets kings and satraps, and makes everyone talk in millions.* 22When people drink they forget to be friendly with friends and kindred, and before long they draw their swords. 23And when they recover from the wine, they do not remember what they have done. 24Gentlemen, is not wine the strongest, since it forces people to do these things? When he had said this, he stopped speaking.
The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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10 February 2011