(5:1-2,11,18,22) "Belshazzar the king " Apparently, the author of Daniel knew
of only two Babylonian kings during the period of the exile: Nebuchadnezzar and
Belshazzar, who he wrongly thought was the son of Nebuchadnezzar. But
Nebuchadnezzar died in 562 BCE and was succeeded by his son, Awil-Marduk
(referred to in the bible as "Evilmerodach" [see 2 Kg.25:27 and Jer.52:31]).
In 560 BCE, Amel-Marduk was assassinated by his brother-in-law, Nergal-shar-usur.
The next and last king of Babylon was Nabonidus who reigned from 556 to 539,
when Babylon was conquered by Cyrus. It was Nabonidus, and not Belshazzar, who
was the last of the Babylonian kings. Belshazzar was the son and viceroy of Nabonidus. But he was not a king, and was not the son (or any other relation) of
(5:1) "Belshazzar the king"
(5:2) "Belshazzar ... his father Nebuchadnezzar"
(5:5-6) The handwriting on the wall
Belshazzar was partying with his princes, wives, and concubines when a detached hand starts writing on the wall. When the king sees it
"the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against the other."
(5:5) "In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote ... upon ... the wall ... and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote."
(5:6) "Then the king's countenance was changed ... so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another."
(5:8-28) Belshazzar asked his wise men to read and interpret the writing, but none of them could. So his wife tells him to
ask Daniel to do it. And Daniel does, after insulting Belshazzar and his "father" Nebuchadnezzar. It's a message from God (he's the
one who sent the hand down), saying that God hates Belshazzar and will soon take his kingdom away from him and give it to the Medes and Persians.
(5:8) "All the king's wise men ... could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof."
5:1Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and
drank wine before the thousand.
he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his
had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his
princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein.
Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of
the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his
wives, and his concubines, drank in them.
They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of
iron, of wood, and of stone.
5:5In the same hour came
forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick
upon the plaister of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the
part of the hand that wrote.
Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so
that the joints of his
loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.
5:7 The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the
soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon,
Whosoever shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof,
shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and
shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.
Then came in all the king's wise men: but they
could not read the writing,
nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof.
Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed
in him, and his lords were astonied.
Now the queen by reason of the words of the king and his lords came into
the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let
not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed:
There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and
in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the
wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy
father, the king, I say,
thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and
Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding,
interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of
doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now
let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation.
5:13Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said
unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the
captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry?
(5:13) "Then was Daniel brought in before the king."
I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and
that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee.
And now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me,
that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the
interpretation thereof: but they could not shew the interpretation of the
And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and
dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me
the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a
chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom.
5:17Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to
thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto
the king, and make known to him the interpretation.
(5:17) "Then Daniel ... said ... I will read the writing
unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation."
O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and
majesty, and glory, and honour:
And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages,
trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he
kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down.
But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was
deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him:
And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the
beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass
like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that
the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over
it whomsoever he will.
(5:24) "Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written."
(5:25) "And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN."
(5:26) "This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy
kingdom, and finished it."
(5:27) "TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting."
(5:28) "PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians."
(5:29-30) After Daniel gave Belshazzar the bad news, Belshazzar rewarded him by making him the "third ruler in the kindgdom."
Later that night Belshazzar died. (Did God kill him?)
(5:29) "Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck,
and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom."
(5:30) "In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain."
(5:31) Darius the Median is a fictitious character whom the author perhaps confused with
Darius I of Persia, who came to the throne in 521 BCE, 17 years after the fall of Babylon. The author of Daniel incorrectly makes him the successor of
Belshazzar instead of Cyrus.
(5:31) "Darius the Median took the kingdom."
And thou his son, O
Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this;
But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have
brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy
wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised
the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see
not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose
are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified:
5:24Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written.
5:25And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.
5:26This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy
kingdom, and finished it.
5:27TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
5:28PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.
Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a
chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that
he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain
And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.