1 Then the second, who had spoken of the strength of the king, began to say, 2 “O sirs, don’t men excel in strength who rule over the sea and land, and all things in them? 3 But yet the king is stronger. He is their lord and has dominion over them. In whatever he commands them, they obey him. 4 If he tells them to make war the one against the other, they do it. If he sends them out against the enemies, they go, and conquer mountains, walls, and towers. 5 They kill and are killed, and don’t disobey the king’s commandment. If they win the victory, they bring everything to the king—all the plunder and everything else. 6 Likewise for those who are not soldiers, and don’t have anything to do with wars, but farm, when they have reaped again that which they had sown, they bring some to the king and compel one another to pay tribute to the king. 7 He is just one man! If he commands people to kill, they kill. If he commands them to spare, they spare. 8 If he commands them to strike, they strike. If he commands them to make desolate, they make desolate. If he commands to build, they build. 9 If he commands them to cut down, they cut down. If he commands them to plant, they plant. 10 So all his people and his armies obey him. Furthermore, he lies down, he eats and drinks, and takes his rest; 11 and these keep watch around him. None of them may depart and do his own business. They don’t disobey him in anything. 12 O sirs, how could the king not be the strongest, seeing that he is obeyed like this?” Then he stopped talking.
13 Then the third, who had spoken of women, and of truth, (this was Zorobabel) began to speak: 14 “O sirs, isn’t the king great, and men are many, and isn’t wine strong? Who is it then who rules them, or has the lordship over them? Aren’t they women? 15 Women have given birth to the king and all the people who rule over sea and land. 16 They came from women. Women nourished up those who planted the vineyards, from where the wine comes. 17 Women also make garments for men. These bring glory to men. Without women, men can’t exist. 18 Yes, and if men have gathered together gold and silver and any other beautiful thing, and see a woman who is lovely in appearance and beauty, 19 they let all those things go and gape at her, and with open mouth stare at her. They all have more desire for her than for gold, or silver, or any other beautiful thing. 20 A man leaves his own father who brought him up, leaves his own country, and joins with his wife. 21 With his wife he ends his days, with no thought for his father, mother, or country. 22 By this also you must know that women have dominion over you. Don’t you labor and toil, and bring it all to give to women? 23 Yes, a man takes his sword and goes out to travel, to rob, to steal, and to sail on the sea and on rivers. 24 He sees a lion and walks in the darkness. When he has stolen, plundered, and robbed, he brings it to the woman he loves. 25 Therefore a man loves his wife better than father or mother. 26 Yes, there are many who have lost their minds for women, and become slaves for their sakes. 27 Many also have perished, have stumbled, and sinned, for women. 28 Now don’t you believe me? Isn’t the king great in his power? Don’t all regions fear to touch him? 29 Yet I saw him and Apame the king’s concubine, the daughter of the illustrious Barticus, sitting at the right hand of the king, 30 and taking the crown from the king’s head, and setting it upon her own head. Yes, she struck the king with her left hand. 31 At this, the king gaped and gazed at her with open mouth. If she smiles at him, he laughs. But if she takes any displeasure at him, he flatters her, that she might be reconciled to him again. 32 O sirs, how can it not be that women are strong, seeing they do this?”
33 Then the king and the nobles looked at one another. So he began to speak concerning truth. 34 “O sirs, aren’t women strong? The earth is great. The sky is high. The sun is swift in its course, for it circles around the sky, and returns on its course again in one day. 35 Isn’t he who makes these things great? Therefore the truth is great, and stronger than all things. 36 All the earth calls upon truth, and the sky blesses truth. All works shake and tremble, but with truth there is no unrighteous thing. 37 Wine is unrighteous. The king is unrighteous. Women are unrighteous. All the children of men are unrighteous, and all their works are unrighteous. There is no truth in them. They shall also perish in their unrighteousness. 38 But truth remains, and is strong forever. Truth lives and conquers forevermore. 39 With truth there is no partiality toward persons or rewards, but truth does the things that are just, instead of any unrighteous or wicked things. All men approve truth’s works. 40 In truth’s judgment is not any unrighteousness. Truth is the strength, the kingdom, the power, and the majesty of all ages. Blessed be the God of truth!”
41 With that, he stopped speaking. Then all the people shouted and said, “Great is truth, and strong above all things!”
42 Then the king said to him, “Ask what you wish, even more than is appointed in writing, and we will give it to you, because you are found wisest. You shall sit next me, and shall be called my cousin.”
43 Then he said to the king, “Remember your vow, which you vowed to build Jerusalem, in the day when you came to your kingdom, 44 and to send back all the vessels that were taken out of Jerusalem, which Cyrus set apart when he vowed to destroy Babylon, and vowed to send them back there. 45 You also vowed to build the temple which the Edomites burned when Judea was made desolate by the Chaldeans. 46 Now, O lord the king, this is what I request, and what I desire of you, and this is the princely generosity that may proceed from you: I ask therefore that you make good the vow, the performance of which you have vowed to the King of Heaven with your own mouth.”
47 Then King Darius stood up, kissed him, and wrote letters for him to all the treasurers and governors and captains and local governors, that they should safely bring on their way both him, and all those who would go up with him to build Jerusalem. 48 He wrote letters also to all the governors who were in Coelesyria and Phoenicia, and to them in Libanus, that they should bring cedar wood from Libanus to Jerusalem, and that they should help him build the city. 49 Moreover he wrote for all the Jews who would go out of his realm up into Judea concerning their freedom, that no officer, no governor, no local governor, nor treasurer, should forcibly enter into their doors, 50 and that all the country which they occupied should be free to them without tribute, and that the Edomites should give up the villages of the Jews which they held at that time, 51 and that there should be given twenty talents yearly toward the building of the temple, until the time that it was built, 52 and another ten talents yearly for burnt offerings to be presented upon the altar every day, as they had a commandment to make seventeen offerings, 53 and that all those who would come from Babylonia to build the city should have their freedom—they and their descendants, and all the priests that came. 54 He wrote also to give them their support and the priests’ vestments in which they minister. 55 For the Levites he wrote that their support should be given them until the day that the house was finished and Jerusalem built up. 56 He commanded that land and wages should be given to all who guarded the city. 57 He also sent away all the vessels from Babylon that Cyrus had set apart, and all that Cyrus had given in commandment, he commanded also to be done and to be sent to Jerusalem.
58 Now when this young man had gone out, he lifted up his face to heaven toward Jerusalem, and praised the King of heaven, 59 and said, “From you comes victory. From you comes wisdom. Yours is the glory, and I am your servant. 60 Blessed are you, who have given me wisdom. I give thanks to you, O Lord of our fathers. 61 So he took the letters, went out, came to Babylon, and told it all his kindred. 62 They praised the God of their ancestors, because he had given them freedom and liberty 63 to go up and to build Jerusalem and the temple which is called by his name. They feasted with instruments of music and gladness seven days.