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

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"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 Belshazzar's mother."

"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 the Persians."

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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.