The commotion in the palace over the mysterious handwriting caused the queen
to enter the banquet hall to give King Belshazzar some advice. The queen
told King Belshazzar there was someone in Babylon who could help him, and
she suggested that the king summon Daniel to interpret the mysterious writings.
A short time later Daniel found himself standing before the king. King Belshazzar
said to Daniel, "So you are Daniel, one of the captives my father brought
back from Judah! I was told that the gods have given you special powers
and that you are intelligent and very wise. Neither my advisors nor the
men who talk with the spirits of the dead could read this writing or tell
me what it means. I have been told that you understand everything and that
you can solve difficult problems. Now then, if you can read this writing
and tell me what it means, you will become the third most powerful man in
my kingdom. You will wear royal purple robes and have a gold chain around
your neck." 8
Daniel answered, "Your Majesty, I will read the writing and tell you
what it means, but you may keep your gifts or give them to someone else.
Sir, the Most High G-d made your father a great and powerful man and brought
him much honor and glory. G-d did such great things for him that people
of all nations and races shook with fear. Your father had the power of life
or death over everyone, and he could honor or ruin anyone he chose, but
when he became proud and stubborn, his glorious kingdom was taken from him.
His mind became like that of an animal, and he was forced to stay away from
people and live with wild donkeys. Your father ate grass like an ox, and
he slept outside where his body was soaked with dew. He was forced to do
this until he learned that the Most High G-d rules all kingdoms on earth
and chooses their kings.
"King Belshazzar, you knew all this, but you still refused to honor
the L-rd who rules from heaven. Instead, you turned against Him and ordered
the cups from His temple to be brought here, so that you and your wives
and officials could drink wine from them. You praised the idols made of
silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone, even though they cannot see
or hear or think. You refused to worship the G-d who gives you breath and
controls everything you do. That's why He sent the hand to write this message
on the wall.
"The words written there are 'mene,' which means 'numbered,' 'tekel,'
which means 'weighed,' and 'parsin,' which means 'divided.' G-d has numbered
the days of your kingdom and has ended it. He has weighed you on his balance
scales, and you fall short of what it takes to be king. So G-d has divided
your kingdom between the Medes and the Persians." 9
"Well, Brian," Darryl said looking him in the eye, "the
Bible tells us the queen heard about the hand writing on the wall, but a
few verses earlier the Scripture says the king's wives and concubines were
with him at the banquet. Why wasn't the queen in attendance at the banquet?"____________________
Brian thought for a moment; his brow furrowed. Suddenly a big grin crossed
his face. "Sure, she must have been the wife of King Nabonidus and
"Very good," Darryl replied. "Also, here is another issue
worth thinking about. Daniel refers to Nebuchadnezzar as the father of Belshazzar.
Often the Bible will use the word father to mean grandfather or ancestor;
the word son is used to mean grandson or descendant. Daniel reminded Belshazzar
of Nebuchadnezzar's period of insanity and the reason for it. Belshazzar
is now going to suffer because he defiled the sacred vessels."
"I think Daniel must have been pretty disgusted with Belshazzar's actions
because he didn't greet Belshazzar with his usual greeting 'O king live
forever,'" Elizabeth added.
Jamie agreed, "Yeah, I think you're right. He also told Belshazzar
he could keep his rewards."
"I'm not clear on the interpretation of the writing," said Brian.
Darryl replied, "To put it simply, Belshazzar sinned against G-d when
he foolishly toasted the Babylonian gods with the temple vessels. Now G-d
will take the kingdom away from him and divide it between the Medes and
When Daniel finished speaking, Belshazzar kept his promise. He made Daniel
the third most powerful man in the kingdom, and Daniel was given a purple
robe and gold chain to wear.
That very night Daniel's prediction came true. The city of Babylon was surrounded
by a wall, and the mighty Euphrates River flowed through the center of the
city. Cyrus, the leader of the Medo-Persian army, devised a plan to get
into the city; he positioned a group of his soldiers at the north end of
the city where the river entered the city. He then positioned a second group
of soldiers at the south end of the city where the river exited the city.
He took his remaining soldiers north to dig a canal to divert the water
away from the river and into a nearby lake. He gave both groups of soldiers,
stationed outside the city, orders to watch the water level of the river
until it was shallow enough to wade into the city. When the water level
of the river dropped, it was very easy for the army to wade into the city
and take the Babylonians by surprise.10
King Belshazzar was killed; Darius the Mede, who was sixty-two years old,
took over the kingdom.