Daniel 5

Belshazzar's big party

5:1Nebuchadnezzar had died. Now Belshazzar was the king. He ruled under the authority of Nabonidus, but Nabonidus did not live in Babylon.

1 King Belshazzar gave a big party for 1,000 important people in his country. He drank wine with all of them. 2 When he had drunk a lot of wine, he spoke to his servants. He commanded them to bring the valuable gold and silver cups, so that the people could drink from them. His father, King Nebuchadnezzar, had taken those cups from God's temple in Jerusalem. King Belshazzar wanted to drink from them, as well as his important friends, his wives and his other women. 3 So his servants brought the gold and silver cups that had come from God's temple in Jerusalem. Then the king, his wives, his other women and all the important people drank wine from those cups. 4 While they drank the wine, they praised their gods. Their gods were idols that were made from gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone.

A hand writes on the wall

5 While they were doing that, the fingers of a human hand appeared. They wrote on the wall of the king's palace, near the light that stood in the room. The king watched the hand while it wrote. 6 When he saw it, his face became white. He was very afraid. His knees shook and his legs became weak.

7 The king called for his enchanters, his wise men and his diviners to come. When they arrived, the king said to them, ‘Who can read these words? Who can tell me what they mean? Whoever can do that, I will make him great. I will put valuable purple clothes on him and he will have a gold chain around his neck. I will make him the third ruler in the kingdom.’

5:7An enchanter tries to make things happen by speaking magic words.
5:7Belshazzar was probably the second ruler, under the authority of Nabonidus.

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 even more afraid. His face became even whiter. His officers did not know what to do.

The queen tells Belshazzar about Daniel

5:10This queen was probably Belshazzar's mother, or Nabonidus's wife. She knew things about Daniel that the king did not know.

10 The king's mother heard the voices of the king and his officers. So she came into the room where they were having the party. She said to the king, ‘King, live for ever! Do not be afraid. Do not shake with fear! 11 There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. When your father was alive, this man showed that he was very wise, like the gods. He could understand secret things. Your father, Nebuchadnezzar, made him the leader of all the magicians, wise men, enchanters and diviners. 12 His name was Daniel, but the king called him Belteshazzar. He was very clever and he knew many things. He could explain what dreams mean. He could find the answer to difficult problems. Send somebody to bring Daniel here. He will tell you what these words mean.’

Belshazzar asks Daniel to explain the message

13 So they brought Daniel to stand in front of the king. The king said to him, ‘Are you one of the men that my father, the king, brought here from Judah? Is your name Daniel? 14 I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you. You are very wise and clever. I have heard that you understand many things. 15 I told my wise men and enchanters to read these words. I asked them to tell me what the words mean. But they could not explain the message to me. 16 I have heard that you can tell people what their dreams mean. And I have heard that you can find the answer to difficult problems. So can you read these words? Can you tell me what they mean? If you can do that, then I will put valuable purple clothes on you. You will have a gold chain around your neck. You will become the third ruler in the kingdom.’

Daniel warns the king

17 Then Daniel answered the king, ‘You can keep your gifts for yourself. You can make someone else important. But I will read the words for the king, and I will tell him what they mean. 18 I tell you this, King Belshazzar. The powerful God who rules over everything gave authority to your father, Nebuchadnezzar, to rule as king. God made him very great and very famous, so that he ruled with power. People respected him as a great king. 19 Because God made him so great, the people in every nation, who spoke every language, were very afraid of him. If he wanted to kill someone, he could kill them. And if he wanted to save someone, he could let them live. If he wanted to make someone important, he did that. And if he wanted to make someone poor, he did that too. 20 But he became very proud and he boasted about his power. So God took away his kingdom. People did not respect him any longer as king. 21 They chased him away from his home. His mind became like an animal's mind. He lived with the wild donkeys. He ate grass like cows do. Dew from the sky made his body wet. He lived in that way until he understood that the powerful God above rules over human kingdoms. God gives authority to rule to anyone that he chooses.

22 King Belshazzar, you are Nebuchadnezzar's son, and you knew all that. But you did not become humble. 23 You thought that you were greater than the Lord of heaven. So you told your servants to bring the valuable cups that belong to God's temple. You yourself, your wives, your other women and your important friends drank wine from those cups. You praised your gods that were made from silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood and stone. Those are idols that cannot see or hear. They cannot understand anything. But you worshipped them instead of the true God. He is the God who gives life to you. He has power over everything that you do. 24 Because of that, God sent the hand that wrote this message.

25 These are the words:

  • Mene, Mene, Tekel and Parsin.
  • 26 This is what the words mean:

  • Mene means “counted”. It shows that God has counted the days of your kingdom. Now these days are finished. Your kingdom has come to an end.
  • 27 Tekel means “weighed”. It shows that God has weighed you. But the scales show that you are too light.

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

    5:28Parsin and Peres are the same word. Peres is for one (singular) and Parsin is for many (plural). Peres also sounds like Persia. Persia was the country that we call Iran today.

    29 When Belshazzar heard that, he caused his servants to put purple clothes on Daniel. They put a gold chain round his neck to show that he was an important person. The king told everyone that Daniel had become the third ruler in the kingdom.

    30 That same night, Belshazzar, the king of the Babylonians, died. His enemies killed him. 31 Then Darius from Media received power as king. He was 62 years old.