Daniel 5
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Belshazzar's Impious Feast

1Many years later King Belshazzar held a great feast for a thousand of his nobles, and he drank wine with them. 2Under the influence of the wine, Belshazzar gave orders to bring in the gold and silver vessels that Nebuchadnezzar his fathera had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king could drink from them, along with his nobles, his wives, and his concubines.

3Thus they brought in the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king drank from them, along with his nobles, his wives, and his concubines. 4As they drank the wine, they praised their gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.

The Handwriting on the Wall

5At that moment the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. As the king watched the hand that was writing, 6his face grew pale and his thoughts so alarmed him that his hips gave way and his knees knocked together.

7The king called out for the enchanters, astrologers,b and diviners to be brought in, and he said to these wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this inscription and tells me its interpretation will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck, and he will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”

8So all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the inscription or interpret it for him. 9Then King Belshazzar became even more terrified, his face grew even more pale, and his nobles were bewildered.

10Hearing the outcry of the king and his nobles, the queenc entered the banquet hall. “O king, may you live forever,” she said. “Do not let your thoughts terrify you, or your face grow pale. 11There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the days of your father he was found to have insight, intelligence, and wisdom like that of the gods.

Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers, and diviners. Your own father, the king, 12did this because Daniel, the one he named Belteshazzar, was found to have an extraordinary spirit, as well as knowledge, understanding, and the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve difficult problems. Summon Daniel, therefore, and he will give you the interpretation.”

Daniel Interprets the Handwriting

13So Daniel was brought before the king, who asked him, “Are you Daniel, one of the exiles my father the king brought from Judah? 14I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that you have insight, intelligence, and extraordinary wisdom.

15Now the wise men and enchanters were brought before me to read this inscription and interpret it for me, but they could not give its interpretation. 16But I have heard about you, that you are able to give interpretations and solve difficult problems. Therefore, if you can read this inscription and give me its interpretation, you will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around your neck, and you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”

17In response, Daniel said to the king, “You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the inscription for the king and interpret it for him. 18As for you, O king, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness, glory and honor. 19Because of the greatness that He bestowed on him, all peoples, nations, and men of every language trembled in fear before him. He killed whom he wished and kept alive whom he wished; he exalted whom he wished and humbled whom he wished.

20But when his heart was exalted and his spirit hardened in pride, he was deposed from his royal throne, and his glory was taken from him. 21He was driven away from mankind, and his mind was like that of a beast. He lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until he acknowledged that the Most High God is ruler over the kingdom of mankind, and He sets over it whom He wishes.

22But you his son,d O Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this. 23Instead, you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven. The vessels from His house were brought to you, and as you drank wine from them with your nobles, wives, and concubines, you praised gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you have failed to glorify the God who holds in His hand your very breath and all your ways. 24Therefore He sent the hand that wrote the inscription.

25Now this is the inscription that was written:

MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN.

26And this is the interpretation of the message:

MENEe means that God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.

27TEKELf means that you have been weighed on the scales and found deficient.

28PERESg means that your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians.”

29Then Belshazzar gave the command, and they clothed Daniel in purple, placed a gold chain around his neck, and proclaimed him the third highest ruler in the kingdom.

30That very night Belshazzar king of the Chaldeansh was slain, 31and Darius the Mede received the kingdom at the age of sixty-two.

Footnotes:

2 a Or predecessor; also in verses 11, 13, and 18
7 b Or Chaldeans; also in verse 11
10 c Or queen mother
22 d Or descendant, or successor
26 e Mene sounds like the Aramaic for numbered
27 f Tekel sounds like the Aramaic for weighed
28 g Peres (the singular of Parsin) sounds like the Aramaic for divided and for Persia
30 h Or Babylonians

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