Daniel 5
Belshazzar's Feast and the Fall of Babylon

Some passages in the book of Revelation draw imagery from scenes in the book of Daniel. Because the Revelation part of this commentary was prepared before the Daniel part, we will often link to where we discussed Daniel in connection with Revelation. The rebellious feast of Belshazzar is an important lesson. God brings judgment when it will help teach a lesson in fidelity to the true God.


Can we trust the book of Daniel?
    Many or most Bible scholars teach that the book was written in the 2nd century B.C. and only pretends to predict the future. The ascendancy of Greece, the last human nation it names, was already a historical fact by that time. Such an idea would make the whole book a deception since much of it is written in the first person declaring what was seen and  experienced (see for example d0920). Next, we can't believe Jesus either because He spoke of Daniel as a prophet mr1314. Thus they not only call into question its inspiration but they lead us to doubt God's direction in the choice of writings that make up the Old Testament canon! These scholars follow what they call the historical-critical method. They hold the Scriptures as no more reliable than any historical document!
    Until the 1920s, Bible scholars who follow this method had questioned the identity of Belshazzar.  Several records show the last king before the nation's fall as Nabonidus. The discovery of more texts revealed that Daniel was right, and that his father, Nabonidus ruled at the same time in another part of the kingdom re1408c. The skeptics now accept this idea and they recognize Daniel as a historical character but they still maintain that the book is fiction.
    The argument for Daniel's book being written in the 2nd century B.C. has also been supported by the fact that that the Aramaic is different from that of the Elephantine Papyri. These were written near the time Daniel actually lived. The difference was thought to reflect a gradual development of the language. Now more manuscripts are available with differences attributed to regional dialects. The Aramaic part of Daniel's book matches the dialect of the eastern regions which included Babylon! Similar writing in the Dead Sea scrolls might have supported the 2nd century time, but it has been discovered to be more recent. Daniel's critics again are seen to be in error.
    Daniel's book is key to understanding many vital points of truth. I have personally found it to accurately and precisely support other parts of the Scriptures. Chapter 9, for example, accurately predicted the baptism of the Messiah. Read with a prayer in your heart. The Holy Spirit will direct your understanding of the book He inspired.
Text Comments
.1 ¶ Belshazzar the king re1408c made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.
 2  Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine pr3104, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein.

  2 - His Father Nebuchadnezzar See on v11.
  2 - Tasted the wine Alcohol robs people of good judgment. The king was guilty before the God of heaven.
  2 - Bring ... vessels  When discussing chapter 1, we noted that war trophies representing the gods of conquered nations symbolized power of the Babylonian gods over the gods of those nations da0102.
 3  Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem 2ch3618f; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them.
 4  They drank wine re1408f, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.
  3 - Wives and concubines The Aramaic words both mean concubines. There may have been two classes. I rather expect that being a part-time wife would make one feel like a concubine! Not a good plan not God's plan. See ge16.
   We usually use f in references to mean "following verse" as here in v3; ff is for two or more. We have also used the letter f it to be part of a series. You will know by the situation. Or often only the first verse of a passage is shown in the link code.
.5  In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.
.6  Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.
 7  The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.
  5 - FingersWe remember the finger of God recognized by the wise men of Egypt ex0819.
  6 - Countenance ... knees This was foreseen by Isaiah. Read is21 to verse 9.
  God sometimes causes fear. 2ch1710; es0902.
  7 - Astrologers da0120.
 8  Then came in all the king's wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof da0201.
 9  Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied [baffled or stunned].
  8 - Could not read We recall that the wise ones were unable to help Nebuchadnezzar either , da0407.
.10 ¶ Now the queen, by reason of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed:
.11  There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers;
 12  Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation.
  10 - Queen I like to believe she was Mrs. Nebuchadnezzar who, along with Daniel, had declined the invitation to the wild party. Obviously she knew Daniel.
  11 - Father According to the archaeological records, Belshazzar's father was actually Nabonidus with whom he was co-regent re1408c. Nebuchadnezzar would have been his grandfather. The term "father" was often used to mean descendent or successor.
  12 - Doubts Literally "knots." Thus, difficult problems.
 13  Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry?
 14  I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee da0117.
.15  And now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof: but they could not shew the interpretation of the thing:
 16  And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom.
  13 - Art thou that Daniel? Or "You are that Daniel." Notice in v16, "I have heard of thee." Daniel was apparently no longer in charge of all the magicians da0248 and had been removed from public service. If he had been invited to the feast, he apparently chose not to attend. He was clearly not in favor of the wicked policies of Belshazzar v22f.
  14 - Spirit of the gods Compare the queen's description of Daniel in v11.
 17  Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.
.18  O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour:
 19  And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down.
  18 - Nebuchadnezzar thy father Actually his grandfather. The terms "father" and "son" in the Hebrew culture were used to mean a male ancestor or descendant. See re1408c.
 20  But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him:
 21  And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will.
  20 - Took the glory from him See da0428.
.22  And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this;
 23  But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified re1408e:
.24  Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written.
.25  And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.
  25 - Notice: "mene" two times, tekel once, then a half (literally "broken" or "broken pieces"). This draws our attention to the time, times, and half a time of domination by the horn power da0725. The end-time religious power represented by Babylon is said to "fall-fall." just as we have "mene, mene" here re1408d. Also is21.
  25 - Also notice that in verses 25, 26, and 27 we have investigation or judgment, verdict, and sentence. This is characteristic of times when God needs to bring punishment. See ge1821 and linked verses.
.26  This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.
.27  TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. Compare jb3104.
.28  PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.
  26 - Numbered Belshazzar's breath and ways were in the hand of God (v23) who also knew the course of evil he would take and the exact duration of his kingdom.
 29  Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
.30 ¶ In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain.
.31  And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old da0803.
  31 - Threescore and two years old This accounts for the short time we know of him only here and in the story of the lions in the next chapter.


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