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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Chapter 3

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1 KING Darius gave a great banquet for all his retainers, for all the members of his household, all the chief men of Media and Persia, 2along with the whole body of satraps, commanders, and governors of his empire in the hundred and twenty-seven satrapies from India to Ethiopia. 3After eating and drinking as much as they wanted, they withdrew. King Darius retired to his bedchamber, where he lay down and fell fast asleep a 3:3 and fell fast asleep: prob. rdg; Gk sleepless. .

4Then the three young men of the king's personal bodyguard said among themselves: 5‘Let each of us name the thing he judges to be strongest, and to the one whose opinion appears wisest let King Darius give rich gifts and prizes: 6he shall be robed in purple, drink from gold cups, and sleep on a golden bed; he shall have a chariot with gold-studded bridles, and a turban of fine linen, and a chain around his neck. 7His wisdom shall give him the right to sit next to the king and to bear the title Kinsman of Darius.’ 8Each then put his opinion in writing, affixed his seal, and placed it under the king's pillow. 9‘When the king wakes,’ they said, ‘the writing will be given him, and the king and the three chief men of Persia shall judge whose opinion is wisest; the award will be made to that man on the evidence of what he has written.’

10One wrote, ‘Wine is strongest.’ 11The second wrote, ‘The king is strongest.’ 12The third wrote, ‘Women are strongest, but truth conquers all.’ 13When the king awoke, he was handed what they had written. Having read it 14he summoned all the chief men of Persia and Media, satraps, commanders, governors, and chief officers, 15and took his seat in the council-chamber. What each of the three had written was then read out before them. 16‘Call the young men,’ said the king, ‘and let them explain their opinions.’ They were summoned and, on coming in, 17were asked to clarify what they had written.

The first, who spoke about the strength of wine, began: 18‘Sirs, how true it is that wine is strongest! It bemuses the wits of all who drink it: 19king and orphan, slave and free, poor and rich, on them all it has the same effect. 20It turns all thoughts to revelry and mirth; it brings forgetfulness of grief and debt. 21It makes everyone feel rich; it cares nothing for king or satrap, but sets all men talking in millions. 22When they are in their cups, they forget to be friendly to friends and relations, and before long are drawing their swords; 23and when they awake after their wine, they cannot remember what they have done. 24Sirs, is not wine the strongest, seeing that it makes men behave in this way?’ With that he ended his speech.

Notes:

a 3:3 and fell fast asleep: prob. rdg; Gk sleepless.

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