Daniel 5:9
Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) The terror of Belshazzar and his lords is caused by the impression that the inability of the wise men to read the inscription is the portent of some terrible calamity.

5:1-9 Belshazzar bade defiance to the judgments of God. Most historians consider that Cyrus then besieged Babylon. Security and sensuality are sad proofs of approaching ruin. That mirth is sinful indeed, which profanes sacred things; and what are many of the songs used at modern feasts better than the praises sung by the heathens to their gods! See how God struck terror upon Belshazzar and his lords. God's written word is enough to put the proudest, boldest sinner in a fright. What we see of God, the part of the hand that writes in the book of the creatures, and in the book of the Scriptures, should fill us with awful thoughts concerning that part which we do not see. If this be the finger of God, what is his arm when made bare? And what is He? The king's guilty conscience told him that he had no reason to expect any good news from heaven. God can, in a moment, make the heart of the stoutest sinner to tremble; and there needs no more than to let loose his own thoughts upon him; they will give him trouble enough. No bodily pain can equal the inward agony which sometimes seizes the sinner in the midst of mirth, carnal pleasures, and worldly pomp. Sometimes terrors cause a man to flee to Christ for pardon and peace; but many cry out for fear of wrath, who are not humbled for their sins, and who seek relief by lying vanities. The ignorance and uncertainty concerning the Holy Scriptures, shown by many who call themselves wise, only tend to drive sinners to despair, as the ignorance of these wise men did.Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled - Not doubting that this was a Divine intimation of some fearful event, and yet unable to understand its meaning. We are quite as likely to be troubled by what is merely "mysterious" in regard to the future - by anything that gives us some undefined foreboding - as we are by what is really formidable when we know what it is. In the latter case, we know the worst; we can make some preparation for it; we can feel assured that when that is past, all is past that we fear - but who can guard himself, or prepare himself, when what is dreaded is undefined as well as awful; when we know not how to meet it, or how long it may endure, or how terrific and wide may be the sweep of its desolation?

And his countenance was changed in him - Margin, "brightnesses." See the note at Daniel 5:6.

And his lords were astonied - Amazed. The Chaldee word means to perplex, disturb, trouble. They were doubtless as much perplexed and troubled as the king himself.

8. The words were in such a character as to be illegible to the Chaldees, God reserving this honor to Daniel. The second time, because his hopes in his wise men made him ashamed, and God would give him so much grief as he had pleasure in his luxury.

His lords were astonied: these were associates in sinning, and therefore must share in his consternation: so far were they from comforting him.

Then was King Belshazzar greatly troubled,.... A second time, and perhaps more than before; since he had conceived some hope that his wise men would have informed him what this writing was, and the meaning of it; but finding that they were nonplussed by it, it gave him still greater uneasiness:

and his countenance was changed in him; again; very likely, upon the coming in of the wise men, he had a little recovered himself, and became more composed and serene; which appeared in his countenance; but, upon this disappointment, his countenance changed again, and he turned pale, and looked ghastly:

and his lords were astonished; were in the utmost consternation and confusion, when they understood that the writing could neither be read nor interpreted; neither the dignity of their station, nor their numbers, nor their liquor, could keep up their spirits; so that the king had not one with him, to speak a comfortable word to him, or give him any advice in this his time of distress; they were all in the same condition with himself.

Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. greatly troubled] greatly alarmed,—a climax upon Daniel 5:6.

and his brightness was changed upon him] ‘upon’ in accordance with the principle explained on Daniel 2:1.

were astonied] were confused or (R.V.) perplexed.

Verse 9. - Then was King Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied. This verse presents signs also of being a repetition. The last clause appears to be the original form of the mysterious clause at the end of the sixth verse according to the Septuagint; the word mishtabsheen, which occurs here, seems to have been read mishtabhareen, from שַׁבְהַר (shab'har), "to be glorious," in the ittaphel; this becomes "to boast one's self," as in the Targum of Proverbs 25:14, also the Peshitta of the same passage; also 2 Corinthians 12:1. And this is the word used by Paulus Tellensis to translate καυχῶνται. The Septuagint has a verse here that has no equivalent in the Massoretic text, "Then the king called the queen about the sign, and showed her how great it was, and that no one had been able to declare to the king the interpretation of the writing." This verse avoids the repetition we find in the Massoretic text, and explains the presence of the queen in a much more plausible way than the received text does. In the Massoretic text it is the noise and tumult that pierces the women's apartments, and brings out the queen-mother; though not impossible, this is unlikely. The action of the king, as given in the Septuagint, is very probable. The wise men are baffled by this mysteriously appearing inscription. What is to be done? Belshazzar calls his mother, the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar, as she at least possibly was, to see if she knows anything in the past that might be a guide in such a matter. He not only shows her the sign, the inscription, but shows how great it was, by telling of the hand that had come out of the darkness, and had written it. Theodotion and the Peshitta agree with the Massoretic text. While the repetition is obvious, it is also true that the failure of all the wise men in Babylon to read the writing, as the Massoretic text has it, would increase the trouble of the king, and this trouble would naturally spread to the courtiers. Daniel 5:9By this not only was the astonishment of the king heightened, but the officers of state also were put into confusion. "In משׁתּבּשׁין lies not merely the idea of consternation, but of confusion, of great commotion in the assembly" (Hitzig). The whole company was thrown into confusion. The magnates spoke without intelligence, and were perplexed about the matter.

Not only was the tumult that arose from the loud confused talk of the king and the nobles heard by those who were there present, but the queen-mother, who was living in the palace, the wife of Nebuchadnezzar, also heard it and went into the banqueting hall. As soon as she perceived the cause of the commotion, she directed the attention of her royal son to Daniel, who in the days of his father Nebuchadnezzar had already, as an interpreter of dreams and of mysteries, shown that the spirit of the holy gods dwelt in him (Daniel 5:10-12).

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