Daniel 5

Belshazzar's big party

1 King Belshazzar had a big party. He asked 1000 important people to come, and he drank wine with them. 2 When Belshazzar drank wine, he spoke to his servants. He said that they must bring to him the gold and silver cups from God's house. Nebuchadnezzar, his father, had taken these cups from God's house in Jerusalem. Belshazzar wanted his friends, his wives and his other women to drink their wine from these cups. 3 So his servants brought the gold cups that had come from God's house in Jerusalem. Then the king, his wives, his other women and all the important people drank wine out of those cups. 4 And when they drank the wine, they also gave honour to their gods. Their gods were images that people had made out of gold, silver, bronze, iron and stone.

5:4Nebuchadnezzar had died. Now Belshazzar was the king.

A hand writes on the wall

5 Immediately, the fingers of a man's hand appeared and the fingers wrote on the wall of the king's house. They wrote near the light that stood in the room. So the king saw the hand while it wrote. 6 The king's face became white and he was afraid. His knees started to knock together and his legs became weak.

The king's wise men cannot help him

7 The king shouted for his enchanters, wise men and diviners. When they came, the king spoke to them. He said, ‘Who can read these words? Who can tell me what they mean? I will put purple clothes on that person and he will have a gold ring round his neck. And I will make him the third (3rd) ruler in the kingdom.’ 8 Then all the king's wise men came in, but they could not read the words. They could not tell the king what the words meant. 9 So King Belshazzar became very afraid and his face became very white. His officers did not know what to do.

The queen tells Belshazzar about Daniel

10 The queen heard the words of the king and his officers. So she came into the room where they were having the party. Then she spoke to the king. ‘I want the king to live for all time’, she said. ‘Do not be afraid. Do not let your face be so white. 11 There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. He showed your father in his time, that he was very, very wise. He was wise like the gods. Your father, Nebuchadnezzar, made him the leader of all the magicians, wise men, enchanters and diviners. 12 His mind was clever and he knew many things. He could tell what dreams mean. He could explain hidden things and answer problems. His name was Daniel, but the king called him Belteshazzar. Send a man to fetch Daniel. He will tell you what the words mean.’

5:12Verses 10-12 This queen was not the king's wife. All the king's wives were already at the party (Daniel 5:2). This queen was probably Belshazzar's mother.

Belshazzar asks Daniel to explain the message

13 Then people brought Daniel to the king. The king said to Daniel, ‘Are you Daniel? Are you one of the men that my father the king brought from Judah? 14 I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you. You are wise and you understand many things. 15 I told my servants that they must bring the wise men and enchanters. I wanted the wise men to read these words. I asked them to tell me what the words mean. But they could not explain them to me. 16 I have heard that you can understand dreams. And I have heard that you can answer problems. So, can you read these words? And can you tell me what they mean? If you can do that, then I will put purple clothes on you. You will have a gold ring round your neck. And you will be the third (3rd) ruler in the kingdom.’

Daniel tells the king that he has been bad and silly

17 Then Daniel answered the king. ‘You can keep your gifts for yourself. And you can make someone else important. But I will read the words for the king. And I will tell him what they mean. 18 The God who is very, very great made your father Nebuchadnezzar king. God made him very great and very famous and God gave great honour to him. 19 Because God made him so great, the people in every country were very afraid of him. The people who spoke every language were very afraid of him. If he wanted to kill someone, he killed that person. And if he wanted someone to live, he let that person live. If he wanted to make someone important, he made that person important. And if he wanted to make someone less important, he made that person less important. 20 He thought that he was the most important person. He thought that he could do anything. Then God took away his kingdom and he also took away his honour. 21 People pushed him out and he had an animal's mind. So he lived with the wild horses. And his food was the grass that cows eat. Dew from the sky made his body wet. It was like that until he changed his mind. But then he agreed that the great and true God rules the kingdoms of men. God gives authority over them to anyone that he wants to give it to.

22 You, Belshazzar, are Nebuchadnezzar's son and you knew all that. But you did not keep pride out of your mind. 23 You thought that you were more important than the Lord of heaven. So you demanded the cups from his house. And you, your wives, your other women and your important friends drank wine from them. Then you gave honour to gods that people had made from silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood and stone. These gods cannot see or hear. And they cannot understand. You gave honour to them. But you did not give honour to the God who gave your life to you. He has power over everything that you do. 24 So he sent the hand that wrote these words. 25 And these are the words:

Mene, Mene, Tekel and Peres.’

Daniel explains the words on the wall

26 ‘This is what the words mean:

Mene means that God has counted the days of your kingdom. Now these days are finished and he has finished your kingdom.

27 Tekel means that God has weighed you. But you were too light when he weighed you. You were not right (as you should be). That is what it means.

28 Peres means that God has cut your kingdom into two parts. He has given it to the people from Media and Persia.’

5:28Mene can mean ‘number.’ Tekel can mean ‘weigh.’ Peres can mean ‘divide.’

The things that were in the message happen

29 Then Belshazzar caused his servants to put purple clothes on Daniel. They put a gold ring round his neck. Then the king told all the people that Daniel was the third (3rd) ruler in the kingdom. 30 That same night someone killed Belshazzar, king of Babylon. 31 And Darius from Media became king. He was 62 years old.