Sixty-six years have elapsed since chapter one. Nebuchadnezzar died in 562 B.C. after a reign of 43 years. His son, Evil-Merodach, then ruled from 562-560; his brother-in-law Neriglissar reigned four years from 560-556 B.C. then Nabonidus and his son Belshazzar co-reigned from 553-539 B. C. Nebonidus was Nebuchadnezzar’s son, and Belshazzar therefore his grandson.
Verse 1 – Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand.
Verse 2 – While he tasted the wine Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father (ancestor) Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them.
Verse 3 – Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and concubines drank from them.
Verse 4 – They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.
Verse 5 – In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.
This was not just seen by the king, but everyone who was there. This may be where the phrase, “The handwriting is on the wall,” came from.
Verse 6 – Then the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other.
Verse 7 – The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spoke, saying to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing and tells me its interpretation, shall be clothed in purple and have a chain of gold around his neck; and he shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.”
They are all drinking and using the holy vessels that belong to God and that were used in His temple. Their partying turned into a night of fear when God decided to write a message on the kings wall.
Verse 8 – Now all the king’s wise men came, but they could not read the writing, or make known to the king its interpretation.
Some scholars seem to think this message was written in Aramaic, which was the Babylonian language, but the Bible clearly states, “They could not read the writing!” I believe it was a heavenly language that only God knew and gave the understanding to Daniel alone.
Verse 9 – Then King Belshazzar was greatly troubled, his countenance was changed, and his lords were astonished.
Verse 10 – The queen, because of the words of the king and his lords, came to the banquet hall. And the queen spoke, saying, “O king live forever! Do not let your thoughts trouble you, nor let your countenance change.
Verse 11 – “There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God. And in the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him; and King Nebuchadnezzar your father – your father the king – made him chief of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers.
Verse 12 – “Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting, dreams, found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.
Daniel was approximately 80 years old at this point and was either retired or just forgotten. This queen was either the wife of Nabonidus or even perhaps Nebuchadnezzar’s wife.
Verse 13 – Then Daniel was brought in before the king. And the king spoke, and said to Daniel, “Are you the Daniel who is one of the captives of Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah?
Verse 14 – “I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you.
Verse 15 – “Now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing and make known to me its interpretation, but they could not give the interpretation, of the thing.
Verse 16 – “And I have heard of you, that you can give interpretations and explain enigmas. 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.”
Verse 17 – Then Daniel answered, and said before the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another; yet I will read the writing to the king, and make known to him the interpretation.
Doing what is right should be our first priority, as it was for Daniel, regardless of gaining power or rewards.
Verse 18 – “O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom and majesty, glory and honor.
Verse 19 – “And because of the majesty that He gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whomever he wished, he executed; whomever he wished, he kept alive; whomever he wished, he set up; and whomever he wished, he put down.
Verse 20 – “But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him.
Verse 21 – “Then he was driven from the sons of men, his heart was made like beasts and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. They fed him grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses.
Verse 22 – “But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this.
This was a strong rebuke for this king. Belshazzar knew the history of his grandfather, but Daniel just put it in his face. In other words, “How dare you have a drinking party with the holy vessels that belong to God the creator and challenge Him!”
Verse 23 – And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. 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. And you have praised gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified.
I would be crawling under a table by now if I had been this king. Belshazzar had desecrated the vessels of God through their pagan worship.
Verse 24 – “Then the fingers of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written.
Verse 25 – “And this is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.
Verse 26 – “This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it;
Verse 27 – “TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting;
Verse 28 – “PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.”
MENE – God has finished the ruling days of the kingdom of Babylon.
TEKEL – Wanting in righteousness. 2 Peter 3:11, 14, Let us not be found wanting in the day of our visitation.
PERES – This is the singular root word for Upharsin. When used in the plural form it means pieces. The kingdom is broken in pieces. God had finished with Babylon and broken it between the Medes and the Persians.
Verse 29 – Then Belshazzar gave the command and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a chain of gold around his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
Verse 30 – That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain.
Verse 31 – And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.
Darius and his soldiers entered Babylon by diverting the river that ran through the city, then walked in on a dry riverbed. This Darius the Mede, is not o be confused with Darius II the Persian, mentioned in Ezra, Haggai, and Zechariah. Darius the Mede is only mentioned in the Book of Daniel. There is no record naming a king between Belshazzar and Cyrus.