(This is a copy of the letter they sent to him:) “To King Artaxerxes, 1 from your servants in 2 Trans-Euphrates:
I was watching in the night visions, “And with 1 the clouds of the sky 2 one like a son of man 3 was approaching. He went up to the Ancient of Days and was escorted 4 before him.
“I hereby give orders that if anyone changes this directive a beam is to be pulled out from his house and he is to be raised up and impaled 1 on it, and his house is to be reduced 2 to a rubbish heap 3 for this indiscretion. 4
The wise men replied to the king, “There is no man on earth who is able to disclose the king’s secret, 1 for no king, regardless of his position and power, has ever requested such a thing from any magician, astrologer, or wise man.
You have issued an edict, O king, that everyone must bow down and pay homage to the golden statue when they hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, trigon, harp, pipes, and all kinds of music.
At that very moment the fingers of a human hand appeared 1 and wrote on the plaster of the royal palace wall, opposite the lampstand. 2 The king was watching the back 3 of the hand that was writing.
“The first one was like a lion with eagles’ wings. As I watched, its wings were pulled off and it was lifted up from the ground. It was made to stand on two feet like a human being, and a human mind 1 was given to it. 2
The king called out loudly 1 to summon 2 the astrologers, wise men, and diviners. The king proclaimed 3 to the wise men of Babylon that anyone who could read this inscription and disclose its interpretation would be clothed in purple 4 and have a golden collar 5 placed on his neck and be third ruler in the kingdom.
So they approached the king and said to him, 1 “Did you not issue an edict to the effect that for the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human other than to you, O king, would be thrown into a den of lions?” The king replied, “That is correct, 2 according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be changed.”