Belshazzar holds a great feast and gets drunk. The hand of the LORD God appears and writes on the wall. Only Daniel can interpret its meaning.
VERSE 1. Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.
Belshazzar the king. The previous chapters dealt with king Nebuchadnezzar. He died in 562 BC. The ensuing years were marked by increasing debauchery and assassinations.
At this point in the narrative, we are dealing with Belshazzar. He is the eldest son of king Nabonidus, who appointed him as coregent.
Belshazzar was not actually the king. But as coregent, he exercised kingly authority even though Nabonidus actually held the throne.
Here is the succession of authority from Nebuchadnezzar to Belshazzar:
Nebuchadnezzar: died in 562 BC
Evil-Merodach: assassinated in 560 BC
Neriglissar: died in 556 BC
Labashi-Marduk: assassinated after two months
Nabonidus: reigned 17 years
Belshazzar: Coregent with his father
VERSE 2. Belshazzar, while he tasted the wine, commanded that the golden and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem be brought to him; that the king and his lords, his wives and his concubines, might drink from them.
commanded that the golden and silver vessels … be brought to him. Belshazzar probably had no idea how bad this was.
Perhaps, like many people in positions of public leadership, he saw himself as not bound by the restrictions of ordinary mortals.
VERSE 3. Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of God’s house which was at Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives and his concubines, drank from them.
VERSE 4. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of bronze, of iron, of wood, and of stone.
VERSE 5. In the same hour, the fingers of a man’s hand came out and wrote near the lamp stand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace. The king saw the part of the hand that wrote.
VERSE 6. Then the king’s face was changed in him, and his thoughts troubled him; and the joints of his thighs were loosened, and his knees struck one against another.
VERSE 7. The king cried aloud to bring in the enchanters, the Kasdim, and the soothsayers. The king spoke and said to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing, and shows me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.”
VERSE 8. Then all the king’s wise men came in; but they could not read the writing, and couldn’t make known to the king the interpretation.
they could not. Once again, the LORD God easily confounds the “wisdom” of the “wisest” people on earth.
VERSE 9. Then king Belshazzar was greatly troubled, and his face was changed in him, and his lords were perplexed.
VERSE 10. The queen by reason of the words of the king and his lords came into the banquet house. The queen spoke and said, “O king, live forever; don’t let your thoughts trouble you, nor let your face be changed.
VERSE 11. There is a man in your kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of your father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him. The king Nebuchadnezzar your father, yes, the king, your father, made him master of the magicians, enchanters, Kasdim, and soothsayers;
There is a man in your kingdom. By this point, Daniel must have fallen into obscurity. But the queen somehow remembered him.
VERSE 12. because an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting of dreams, showing of dark sentences, and dissolving of doubts were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation.”
Now let Daniel be called. In our own lives, we can trust that the LORD God is actively working on our behalf. Events and circumstances and people are coming into place. When our time arrives, his blessings will happen.
VERSE 13. Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king spoke and said to Daniel, “Are you that Daniel of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Judah?
VERSE 14. I have heard of you, that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that light, understanding, and excellent wisdom are found in you.
VERSE 15. Now the wise men, the enchanters, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known to me its interpretation; but they could not show the interpretation of the thing.
VERSE 16. But I have heard of you, that you can give interpretations, and dissolve doubts. Now if you can read the writing, and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple, and have a chain of gold around your neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.”
The king tries to seduce Daniel with the same old bait that works with worldly people:
clothed with purple. This was a temptation of money.
chain of gold around your neck. This too was a temptation of money.
the third ruler in the kingdom. This was a temptation of power. Daniel could become the third-most powerful person in the world.
VERSE 17. Then Daniel answered before the king, “Let your gifts be to yourself, and give your rewards to another. Nevertheless, I will read the writing to the king, and make known to him the interpretation.
*Let your gifts be to yourself. Daniel is not seduced by the king’s offer of money and power.
In our day, we need Christian leaders like Daniel, authentic lovers of God who are not influenced by money or power.
Some of today’s ministers center their efforts on building their power base and seducing wealthy donors.
VERSE 18. “You, king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father the kingdom, and greatness, and glory, and majesty.
VERSE 19. Because of the greatness that he gave him, all the peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. He killed whom he wanted to, and he kept alive whom he wanted to. He raised up whom he wanted to, and he put down whom he wanted to.
VERSE 20. But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him.
*his heart was lifted up. Nebuchadnezzar’s arrogance and pride were his downfall.
VERSE 21. He was driven from the sons of men, and his heart was made like the animals’, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. He was fed with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of the sky; until he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and that he sets up over it whomever he will.
You … have not humbled your heart. By telling the king these things, Daniel is risking his life. There was a very good chance that the king would have Daniel imprisoned or executed.
VERSE 23. but have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. You have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which don’t see, or hear, or know; and you have not glorified the God in whose hand your breath is, and whose are all your ways.
VERSE 24. Then the part of the hand was sent from before him, and this writing was inscribed.
VERSE 25. “This is the writing that was inscribed: ‘MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.’
VERSE 26. “This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE: God has counted your kingdom, and brought it to an end.
This is the interpretation. Daniel forthrightly gave the
interpretation, per the king’s instruction, at that very moment.
The setting was a State Event. Thousands of dignitaries and guests were present. They would have overheard everything. It would be embarrassing for the king.
you … are found wanting. If Daniel wanted to save face for the king, the timing could not have been worse.
However, Daniel is not saving face for a corrupt king. Daniel speaks for the Most High God. Daniel speaks immediately.
VERSE 28. PERES: your kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.”
VERSE 29. Then Belshazzar commanded, and they clothed Daniel with purple, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
Daniel was given the very rewards he did not seek:
purple. This was money.
a chain of gold. This was money.
the third ruler in the kingdom. This was power.
In that night. Sometimes an evil ruler is suddenly removed.
God can easily cause the situation to change, or easily move that person out of the picture.
VERSE 31. Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.