Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.
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.
O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour:
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.
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:
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.
And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this;
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:
Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written.
And this [is] the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.
This [is] the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.
TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.
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.
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.
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:
Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, 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.
Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which [was] at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them.
They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied.
[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:
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;
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.
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?
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.
In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain.
Related Topics and Bible Verses
(Dan. 5:25, 26), numbered, one of the words of the mysterious
inscription written "upon the plaister of the wall" in
Belshazzar's palace at Babylon. The writing was explained by
Daniel. (See BELSHAZZAR ¯T0000519.)
Bel protect the king!, the last of the kings of Babylon (Dan.
5:1). He was the son of Nabonidus by Nitocris, who was the
daughter of Nebuchadnezzar and the widow of Nergal-sharezer.
When still young he made a great feast to a thousand of his
lords, and when heated with wine sent for the sacred vessels his
"father" (Dan. 5:2), or grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar had carried
away from the temple in Jerusalem, and he and his princes drank
out of them. In the midst of their mad revelry a hand was seen
by the king tracing on the wall the announcement of God's
judgment, which that night fell upon him. At the instance of the
queen (i.e., his mother) Daniel was brought in, and he
interpreted the writing. That night the kingdom of the Chaldeans
came to an end, and the king was slain (Dan. 5:30). (See
The absence of the name of Belshazzar on the monuments was
long regarded as an argument against the genuineness of the Book
of Daniel. In 1854 Sir Henry Rawlinson found an inscription of
Nabonidus which referred to his eldest son. Quite recently,
however, the side of a ravine undermined by heavy rains fell at
Hillah, a suburb of Babylon. A number of huge, coarse
earthenware vases were laid bare. These were filled with
tablets, the receipts and contracts of a firm of Babylonian
bankers, which showed that Belshazzar had a household, with
secretaries and stewards. One was dated in the third year of the
king Marduk-sar-uzur. As Marduk-sar-uzar was another name for
Baal, this Marduk-sar-uzur was found to be the Belshazzar of
Scripture. In one of these contract tablets, dated in the July
after the defeat of the army of Nabonidus, we find him paying
tithes for his sister to the temple of the sun-god at Sippara.
Nergal, protect the king! (1.) One of the "princes of the king
of Babylon who accompanied him in his last expedition against
Jerusalem" (Jer. 39:3, 13).
(2.) Another of the "princes," who bore the title of "Rabmag."
He was one of those who were sent to release Jeremiah from
prison (Jer. 39:13) by "the captain of the guard." He was a
Babylonian grandee of high rank. From profane history and the
inscriptions, we are led to conclude that he was the Neriglissar
who murdered Evil-merodach, the son of Nebuchadnezzar, and
succeeded him on the throne of Babylon (B.C. 559-556). He was
married to a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar. The ruins of a palace,
the only one on the right bank of the Euphrates, bear
inscriptions denoting that it was built by this king. He was
succeeded by his son, a mere boy, who was murdered after a reign
of some nine months by a conspiracy of the nobles, one of whom,
Nabonadius, ascended the vacant throne, and reigned for a period
of seventeen years (B.C. 555-538), at the close of which period
Babylon was taken by Cyrus. Belshazzar, who comes into notice in
connection with the taking of Babylon, was by some supposed to
have been the same as Nabonadius, who was called
Nebuchadnezzar's son (Dan. 5:11, 18, 22), because he had married
his daughter. But it is known from the inscriptions that
Nabonadius had a son called Belshazzar, who may have been his
father's associate on the throne at the time of the fall of
Babylon, and who therefore would be the grandson of
Nebuchadnezzar. The Jews had only one word, usually rendered
"father," to represent also such a relationship as that of
"grandfather" or "great-grandfather."
Daniel, Book of
is ranked by the Jews in that division of their Bible called the
Hagiographa (Heb. Khethubim). (See BIBLE ¯T0000580.) It consists
of two distinct parts. The first part, consisting of the first
six chapters, is chiefly historical; and the second part,
consisting of the remaining six chapters, is chiefly
The historical part of the book treats of the period of the
Captivity. Daniel is "the historian of the Captivity, the writer
who alone furnishes any series of events for that dark and
dismal period during which the harp of Israel hung on the trees
that grew by the Euphrates. His narrative may be said in general
to intervene between Kings and Chronicles on the one hand and
Ezra on the other, or (more strictly) to fill out the sketch
which the author of the Chronicles gives in a single verse in
his last chapter: 'And them that had escaped from the sword
carried he [i.e., Nebuchadnezzar] away to Babylon; where they
were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom
of Persia'" (2 Chr. 36:20).
The prophetical part consists of three visions and one
lengthened prophetical communication.
The genuineness of this book has been much disputed, but the
arguments in its favour fully establish its claims. (1.) We have
the testimony of Christ (Matt. 24:15; 25:31; 26:64) and his
apostles (1 Cor. 6:2; 2 Thess. 2:3) for its authority; and (2)
the important testimony of Ezekiel (14:14, 20; 28:3). (3.) The
character and records of the book are also entirely in harmony
with the times and circumstances in which the author lived. (4.)
The linguistic character of the book is, moreover, just such as
might be expected. Certain portions (Dan. 2:4; 7) are written in
the Chaldee language; and the portions written in Hebrew are in
a style and form having a close affinity with the later books of
the Old Testament, especially with that of Ezra. The writer is
familiar both with the Hebrew and the Chaldee, passing from the
one to the other just as his subject required. This is in strict
accordance with the position of the author and of the people for
whom his book was written. That Daniel is the writer of this
book is also testified to in the book itself (7:1, 28; 8:2; 9:2;
10:1, 2; 12:4, 5). (See BELSHAZZAR ¯T0000519.)
God is my judge, or judge of God. (1.) David's second son, "born
unto him in Hebron, of Abigail the Carmelitess" (1 Chr. 3:1). He
is called also Chileab (2 Sam. 3:3).
(2.) One of the four great prophets, although he is not once
spoken of in the Old Testament as a prophet. His life and
prophecies are recorded in the Book of Daniel. He was descended
from one of the noble families of Judah (Dan. 1:3), and was
probably born in Jerusalem about B.C. 623, during the reign of
Josiah. At the first deportation of the Jews by Nebuchadnezzar
(the kingdom of Israel had come to an end nearly a century
before), or immediately after his victory over the Egyptians at
the second battle of Carchemish, in the fourth year of the reign
of Jehoiakim (B.C. 606), Daniel and other three noble youths
were carried off to Babylon, along with part of the vessels of
the temple. There he was obliged to enter into the service of
the king of Babylon, and in accordance with the custom of the
age received the Chaldean name of Belteshazzar, i.e., "prince of
Bel," or "Bel protect the king!" His residence in Babylon was
very probably in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar, now identified
with a mass of shapeless mounds called the Kasr, on the right
bank of the river.
His training in the schools of the wise men in Babylon (Dan.
1:4) was to fit him for service to the empire. He was
distinguished during this period for his piety and his stict
observance of the Mosaic law (1:8-16), and gained the confidence
and esteem of those who were over him. His habit of attention
gained during his education in Jerusalem enabled him soon to
master the wisdom and learning of the Chaldeans, and even to
excel his compeers.
At the close of his three years of discipline and training in
the royal schools, Daniel was distinguished for his proficiency
in the "wisdom" of his day, and was brought out into public
life. He soon became known for his skill in the interpretation
of dreams (1:17; 2:14), and rose to the rank of governor of the
province of Babylon, and became "chief of the governors" (Chald.
Rab-signin) over all the wise men of Babylon. He made known and
also interpreted Nebuchadnezzar's dream; and many years
afterwards, when he was now an old man, amid the alarm and
consternation of the terrible night of Belshazzar's impious
feast, he was called in at the instance of the queen-mother
(perhaps Nitocris, the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar) to interpret
the mysterious handwriting on the wall. He was rewarded with a
purple robe and elevation to the rank of "third ruler." The
place of "second ruler" was held by Belshazzar as associated
with his father, Nabonidus, on the throne (5:16). Daniel
interpreted the handwriting, and "in that night was Belshazzar
the king of the Chaldeans slain."
After the taking of Babylon, Cyrus, who was now master of all
Asia from India to the Dardanelles, placed Darius (q.v.), a
Median prince, on the throne, during the two years of whose
reign Daniel held the office of first of the "three presidents"
of the empire, and was thus practically at the head of affairs,
no doubt interesting himself in the prospects of the captive
Jews (Dan. 9), whom he had at last the happiness of seeing
restored to their own land, although he did not return with
them, but remained still in Babylon. His fidelity to God exposed
him to persecution, and he was cast into a den of lions, but was
miraculously delivered; after which Darius issued a decree
enjoining reverence for "the God of Daniel" (6:26). He
"prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the
Persian," whom he probably greatly influenced in the matter of
the decree which put an end to the Captivity (B.C. 536).
He had a series of prophetic visions vouch-safed to him which
opened up the prospect of a glorious future for the people of
God, and must have imparted peace and gladness to his spirit in
his old age as he waited on at his post till the "end of the
days." The time and circumstances of his death are not recorded.
He probably died at Susa, about eighty-five years of age.
Ezekiel, with whom he was contemporary, mentions him as a
pattern of righteousness (14:14, 20) and wisdom (28:3). (See
the holder or supporter, the name of several Persian kings. (1.)
Darius the Mede (Dan. 11:1), "the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed
of the Medes" (9:1). On the death of Belshazzar the Chaldean he
"received the kingdom" of Babylon as viceroy from Cyrus. During
his brief reign (B.C. 538-536) Daniel was promoted to the
highest dignity (Dan. 6:1, 2); but on account of the malice of
his enemies he was cast into the den of lions. After his
miraculous escape, a decree was issued by Darius enjoining
"reverence for the God of Daniel" (6:26). This king was probably
the "Astyages" of the Greek historians. Nothing can, however, be
with certainty affirmed regarding him. Some are of opinion that
the name "Darius" is simply a name of office, equivalent to
"governor," and that the "Gobryas" of the inscriptions was the
person intended by the name.
(2.) Darius, king of Persia, was the son of Hystaspes, of the
royal family of the Achaemenidae. He did not immediately succeed
Cyrus on the throne. There were two intermediate kings, viz.,
Cambyses (the Ahasuerus of Ezra), the son of Cyrus, who reigned
from B.C. 529-522, and was succeeded by a usurper named Smerdis,
who occupied the throne only ten months, and was succeeded by
this Darius (B.C. 521-486). Smerdis was a Margian, and therefore
had no sympathy with Cyrus and Cambyses in the manner in which
they had treated the Jews. He issued a decree prohibiting the
restoration of the temple and of Jerusalem (Ezra 4:17-22). But
soon after his death and the accession of Darius, the Jews
resumed their work, thinking that the edict of Smerdis would be
now null and void, as Darius was in known harmony with the
religious policy of Cyrus. The enemies of the Jews lost no time
in bringing the matter under the notice of Darius, who caused
search to be made for the decree of Cyrus (q.v.). It was not
found at Babylon, but at Achmetha (Ezra 6:2); and Darius
forthwith issued a new decree, giving the Jews full liberty to
prosecute their work, at the same time requiring the Syrian
satrap and his subordinates to give them all needed help. It was
with the army of this king that the Greeks fought the famous
battle of Marathon (B.C. 490). During his reign the Jews enjoyed
much peace and prosperity. He was succeeded by Ahasuerus, known
to the Greeks as Xerxes, who reigned for twenty-one years.
(3.) Darius the Persian (Neh. 12:22) was probably the Darius
II. (Ochus or Nothus) of profane history, the son of Artaxerxes
Longimanus, who was the son and successor of Ahasuerus (Xerxes).
There are some, however, who think that the king here meant was
Darius III. (Codomannus), the antagonist of Alexander the Great
Babylon, kingdom of
called "the land of the Chaldeans" (Jer. 24:5; Ezek, 12:13), was
an extensive province in Central Asia along the valley of the
Tigris from the Persian Gulf northward for some 300 miles. It
was famed for its fertility and its riches. Its capital was the
city of Babylon, a great commercial centre (Ezek. 17:4; Isa.
43:14). Babylonia was divided into the two districts of Accad in
the north, and Summer (probably the Shinar of the Old Testament)
in the south. Among its chief cities may be mentioned Ur (now
Mugheir or Mugayyar), on the western bank of the Euphrates;
Uruk, or Erech (Gen. 10:10) (now Warka), between Ur and Babylon;
Larsa (now Senkereh), the Ellasar of Gen. 14:1, a little to the
east of Erech; Nipur (now Niffer), south-east of Babylon;
Sepharvaim (2 Kings 17:24), "the two Sipparas" (now Abu-Habba),
considerably to the north of Babylon; and Eridu, "the good city"
(now Abu-Shahrein), which lay originally on the shore of the
Persian Gulf, but is now, owing to the silting up of the sand,
about 100 miles distant from it. Another city was Kulunu, or
Calneh (Gen. 10:10).
The salt-marshes at the mouths of the Euphrates and Tigris
were called Marratu, "the bitter" or "salt", the Merathaim of
Jer. 50:21. They were the original home of the Kalda, or
The most famous of the early kings of Babylonia were Sargon of
Accad (B.C.3800) and his son, Naram-Sin, who conquered a large
part of Western Asia, establishing their power in Israel, and
even carrying their arms to the Sinaitic peninsula. A great
Babylonian library was founded in the reign of Sargon. Babylonia
was subsequently again broken up into more than one state, and
at one time fell under the domination of Elam. This was put an
end to by Khammu-rabi (Amraphel), who drove the Elamites out of
the country, and overcame Arioch, the son of an Elamite prince.
From this time forward Babylonia was a united monarchy. About
B.C. 1750 it was conquered by the Kassi, or Kosseans, from the
mountains of Elam, and a Kassite dynasty ruled over it for 576
years and 9 months.
In the time of Khammu-rabi, Syria and Israel were subject
to Babylonia and its Elamite suzerain; and after the overthrow
of the Elamite supremacy, the Babylonian kings continued to
exercise their influence and power in what was called "the land
of the Amorites." In the epoch of the Kassite dynasty, however,
Canaan passed into the hands of Egypt.
In B.C. 729, Babylonia was conquered by the Assyrian king
Tiglath-pileser III.; but on the death of Shalmaneser IV. it was
seized by the Kalda or "Chaldean" prince Merodach-baladan (2
Kings 20:12-19), who held it till B.C. 709, when he was driven
out by Sargon.
Under Sennacherib, Babylonia revolted from Assyria several
times, with the help of the Elamites, and after one of these
revolts Babylon was destroyed by Sennacherib, B.C. 689. It was
rebuilt by Esarhaddon, who made it his residence during part of
the year, and it was to Babylon that Manasseh was brought a
prisoner (2 Chr. 33:11). After the death of Esarhaddon,
Saul-sumyukin, the viceroy of Babylonia, revolted against his
brother the Assyrian king, and the revolt was suppressed with
When Nineveh was destroyed, B.C. 606, Nabopolassar, the
viceroy of Babylonia, who seems to have been of Chaldean
descent, made himself independent. His son Nebuchadrezzar
(Nabu-kudur-uzur), after defeating the Egyptians at Carchemish,
succeeded him as king, B.C. 604, and founded the Babylonian
empire. He strongly fortified Babylon, and adorned it with
palaces and other buildings. His son, Evil-merodach, who
succeeded him in B.C. 561, was murdered after a reign of two
years. The last monarch of the Babylonian empire was Nabonidus
(Nabu-nahid), B.C. 555-538, whose eldest son, Belshazzar
(Bilu-sar-uzur), is mentioned in several inscriptions. Babylon
was captured by Cyrus, B.C. 538, and though it revolted more
than once in later years, it never succeeded in maintaining its