Words in italic type have been added for clarity. They are not found in the original Hebrew or Aramaic.
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This event was prophesied by Isaiah the prophet about 150 to 200 years before it occurred, Cyrus was called out by name:
Isaiah Chapter 45:1-7
1 “Thus says the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held—To subdue nations before him and loose the armor of kings, to open before him the double doors,
So that the gates will not be shut:
2 ‘I will go before you and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze And cut the bars of iron.
3 I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places,
That you may know that I, the Lord, who call you by your name,
Am the God of Israel.
4 For Jacob My servant’s sake, and Israel My elect, I have even called you by your name;
I have named you, though you have not known Me.
5 I am the Lord, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me.
I will gird you, though you have not known Me,
6 That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is none besides Me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other;
7 I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things.’
- Note: only one other person was called out in scripture by name: Josiah fulfilled I Kings 13:2 – 302 years after the prophecy was given in 2 Kings chapter 23.
- 1 Kings 13:2 Then he cried out against the altar by the word of the Lord, and said, “O altar, altar! Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and men’s bones shall be burned on you.’ ”
What should I learn from this chapter?
- The historical end of Babylon during the Jewish captivity
- The historical timeline of events during this time
- Jeremiah‘s prophecy foretelling this event
- The lineage of Babylon’s rulers
- The identity of Belshazzar and Nabonidus
- The types of wise men in Babylon
- The relationship between Belshazzar and God
- The authority of God in rising up kingdoms and overthrowing them
- The concept of wisdom
- Scriptures on Cyrus: (Isaiah 44:26-28) (Isaiah 44: 2) (Isaiah 45) (Chronicles 36:22-23) (Ezra 1:1-4, 7, 8, Ezra 3:7, Ezra 4:3)
WHO IS BELSHAZZAR?
Belshazzar is Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson while Nabonidus is Belshazzar’s father in law.
- Click here to see timeline: BC Timeline Cyrus
- The rule of Babylon through Nebuchadnezzar’s line was lost when Evil-Merodach’s brother in law had him murdered and took the throne which then went to the brother-in-law’s son. However; Nabonidus (of no noble birth), the General of the Army, and Belshazzar, the rightful heir to the throne conspired a coup and claimed the rightful Babylonian throne. Together they brought Babylon’s rule back into the family line of Nebuchadnezzar. Belshazzar ruled two years and at the beginning of his third year, he made a great feast for a thousand of his lords.
- Note The Prophecy of Babylon’s demise: Jeremiah 27:7 So all nations shall serve him (Nebuchadnezzar) and his son (Evil-Merodach) and his son’s son (Belshazzar), until the time of his land comes; and then many nations and great kings shall make him serve them.
Belshazzar’s Feast In the Year Before Our Lord 539 BC
Click here to see BC Timeline Daniel
Daniel 5:1 Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand.
- Belshazzar is demonstrating his position and power as he is drinking.
Daniel 5:2 While he tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father (ancestor) Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them.
- Nebuchadnezzar knew the captives were to be released after 70 years. Daniel indicates in later verses that Belshazzar was aware of his grandfather’s rule. When he brought the vessels out to use them he was demonstrating he had no intention of releasing the captives. It was an abomination to God to use His holy vessels outside the temple by gentiles.
- This was the worse decision of Belshazzar’s life.
Daniel 5:3 Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them.
- Jeremiah 51:11 The Lord has raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes (Cyrus: See Isaiah 45).
For His plan is against Babylon to destroy it,
Because it is the vengeance of the Lord,
The vengeance for His temple.
Daniel 5:4 They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.
Now the holy vessels are being used for idol worship! This is the fifth mention of drinking wine in four verses. They were getting drunk.
- Jeremiah 51:39 In their excitement I (God) will prepare their feasts;
I will make them drunk, That they may rejoice,
And sleep a perpetual sleep and not awake,” says the Lord.
- Jeremiah lived 626-580 BC. Cyrus conquered Babylon 539 BC. No less than 41 years after Jeremiah died.
Daniel 5:5 In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.
►”In the same hour”
God didn’t wait to let His righteous anger be known. There would be no hesitation, no appeals, no time of indecision, that night God would take Belshazzar’s life over one bad decision.
►@Moral of the Story
One bad decision in life can take your life. The moral to this story is to live a life of respect to He who holds your very breath in His hand. Live soberly (spiritually and literally). Belshazzar was drunk (spiritually and literally).
1. Every choice is either a wise choice or a foolish choice.
2. Foolish choices create chaos and death. Wise choices create peace and life.
►What was written on the wall?
MN MN TQL PRSN
These are ALL coins in Hebrew
Mina, Mina, Teckel (shekel), Beca
Daniel 5:6 Then the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other.
- The floating hand sent terror through the king, but it did not humble him, nor did it sober him (he would return to his partying).
Daniel 5:7 The king cried aloud (Lit. with strength) to bring in the astrologers (sign seekers), the Chaldeans (wise men), and the soothsayers (future predictors). The king spoke, saying to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing, and tells me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck; and he shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.”
- Nabonidus was the first ruler (but he was absent) and Belshazzar was the second. Whoever could interpret the writing would be the third ruler in the kingdom.
|Astrologers (sign seekers)||Chaldeans (wise men)||Soothsayers (future predictors)|
Daniel 5:8 Now all the king’s wise men came, but they could not read the writing, or make known to the king its interpretation.
- Isn’t this what happened with Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter one? His wise men could not tell or interpret his dream.
►@Moral of the Story
Beware of “wise men” who cannot interpret reality. They give bad directions. (They are the blind leading the blind. Both will fall into a ditch.)
Daniel 5:9 Then King Belshazzar was greatly troubled, his countenance was changed, and his lords were astonished (perplexed).
Daniel 5:10 The queen, because of the words of the king and his lords, came to the banquet hall. The queen spoke, saying, “O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts trouble you, nor let your countenance change.
►Note: the queen is unnamed. Scripturally, a man and his wife are “one”: however; the man is symbolic of the flesh and the woman is symbolic of the Spirit. When the wife is unnamed, it means the man has no Spirit of God. However; if the wife is named, then the man has the Spirit of the woman. Think of illustrations like Abraham, where Sarah is mentioned throughout his story. Likewise: Jezebel reveals Ahab’s spirituality.
Daniel 5:11 There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God.
Unlike Belshazzar who did not have the Spirit of the Holy God…Daniel did.
Is there someone in your kingdom you are overlooking who could enhance your life?
And in the days of your father (Or ancestor), light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him; and King Nebuchadnezzar your father (Or ancestor)—your father the king—made him (Daniel) chief of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers.
Daniel 5:12 Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas (Lit. untying knots) were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.”
- Belshazzar meets Belteshazzar for the first and the last time. Both with basically the same name.
- Daniel’s name had been changed to a Babylonian name to erase his attachment to his old culture and to assimilate him into the Babylonian culture.
- Belshazzar’s name means “god has protected the kingdom”. In Daniel’s case, “God has protected His kingdom.”
- Same names, extreme opposites.
The Writing on the Wall Explained
Daniel 5:13 Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king spoke, and said to Daniel, “Are you that Daniel who is one of the captives (Lit. who is of the sons of the captivity) from Judah, whom my father (Or ancestor) the king brought from Judah?
Daniel 5:14 I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you.
Daniel 5:15 Now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing and make known to me its interpretation, but they could not give the interpretation of the thing.
Daniel 5:16 And I have heard of you, that you can give interpretations and explain enigmas (Lit. untie knots). Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.”
Daniel 5:17 Then Daniel answered, and said before the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another; yet I will read the writing to the king, and make known to him the interpretation.
It was a custom to refuse gifts given by a king. Nevertheless, Daniel knew he had no need for these gifts. There would be no kingdom to lead.
Daniel 5:18 O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father (Or ancestor) a kingdom and majesty, glory and honor.
Daniel 5:19 And because of the majesty that He gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whomever he wished, he executed; whomever he wished, he kept alive; whomever he wished, he set up; and whomever he wished, he put down.
Daniel 5:20 But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him.
Just like his grandfather, Belshazzar’s heart is lifted up and hardened by pride.
Daniel 5:21 Then he was driven from the sons of men, his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. They fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till he knew (recognized) that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses.
Daniel 5:22 “But you his (grand) son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this.
Daniel 5:23 And you have lifted (exalted) yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house (The temple) before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified.
- Nebuchadnezzar was aware the Hebrew captives were to be released after 70 years, being careful not to touch the temple items. His grandson however had no intention of releasing the Hebrews. God is taking things into His own hands…
Daniel 5:24 Then the fingers (Lit. palm) of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written.
Daniel 5:25 “And this is the inscription that was written:
MENE (Lit. a mina ie. 50 shekels from the verb “to number”)
MENE, (Lit. a mina ie. 50 shekels from the verb “to number”)
TEKEL (Lit. a shekel from the verb “to weigh”)
UPHARSIN (Lit. a half-shekel from the verb “to divide”; pl. of Peres, v. 28).
Daniel 5:26 This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it;
Daniel 5:27 TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting;
Daniel 5:28 PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians (Aram. Paras, consonant with Peres).” (A double meaning: to divide and/or “Persia”)
Daniel 5:29 Then Belshazzar gave the command, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a chain of gold around his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
► Daniel was made third ruler in the kingdom because Nabonidus and Belshazzar were the first two rulers.
►Belshazzar (hence Babylon) was weighed in the balances and found wanting. What is God weighing?
Belshazzar (Babylon) vs. Cyrus (Medes and Persia). The first has no intention of releasing the captive Jews. God knows the second will immediately make a decree to release them. The first is swallowed up by the second.
@ moral of the story: Have you been weighed in God’s balances and found wanting? Has God ever told you: You have failed to come up to My expectations. I expected more from you. Your output is not satisfactory.
Concerning man’s relationship with God today: Can anyone meet God’s expectations if they are not covered by the blood of Christ? What is the value of Christ’s blood?
Have you ever had to read the handwriting on the wall?
- Colossians 2:13-15 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
Mankind is compared to Belshazzar, weighed and found wanting. Like Belshazzar, all men are sentenced to death because of sin. Any man who does not respect God and His salvation is a fool. Belshazzar was a proverbial “fool”. He was the king of Babylon, but in God’s court, he is the court jester.
Wisdom is knowing the value of one item or choice over another item or choice. What is the value of knowing and serving God?
The opposite of being a fool is having wisdom. Belshazzar (the fool) and Belteshazzar (a wise man) were opposites.
Who are other men in scriptures who were “fools”? Abigail’s husband Nabal was a fool. His name even means “fool”. Fools are mentioned throughout proverbs.
Daniel 5:30 That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain.
@ moral of the story
All men are one heartbeat away from an eternity which has no second chances. God holds each man’s breath in His hands.
- Prophecy of Babylon’s End: Jeremiah 27:7 So all nations shall serve him (Nebuchadnezzar) and his son (Evil-Merodach) and his son’s son (Belshazzar), until the time of his land comes; and then many nations and great kings shall make him serve them.
Daniel 5:31 And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.
Review: Jeremiah foretold the end of the Babylonian kingdom:
- “I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant; and the beasts of the field I have also given him to serve him. So all nations shall serve him, his son, and his son’s son, until the time of his land comes.” Jeremiah 27:6-7
- “Him” is 1) Nebuchadnezzar, “his son” is 2) Evil Merodach, and “his son’s son” is 3) Belshazzar, until the time of his land comes.” (by the Persian Cyrus)
- Nov 9, 539 BC: Cyrus rode through the Ishtar Gate while the masses of the city layered a pathway of green twigs welcoming him with their sign of peace and honor, acknowledgment and acceptance that he is king. “In the month of Arahsamna, the third day [29 October], Cyrus entered Babylon, green twigs were spread in front of him – the state of peace was imposed upon the city. Cyrus sent greetings to all Babylon. Gobryas, his governor, installed subgovernors in Babylon.”
—”Babylonian Chronicles on the 17th year of the reign of Nabonidus”. http://www.livius.org/ct-cz/cyrus_I/babylon02.html#17.
- Note: Jesus Yeshua the Christ was greeted with palm branches laid before him when he rode into Jerusalem, an indication he was being hailed as their king. The people cried out “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
Below is the timeline of Daniel and Judah (Jerusalem):
|Year||Judah’s King||Babylon’s King||Notes||Events|
|605 BC||Jehoiakim’s 3rd Yr of his puppet kingship.||Nabopolaer and Nebuchadnezzer||Daniel is ~15 yrs old.||Jerusalem under siege. Daniel taken hostage|
|603 BC||Jehoiakim is a Babylonian vassal king.||Nebuchadnezzar||2nd Year of Babylon’s rule.||Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream|
|598 BC||Jehoiakim killed: Thrown over wall.||Nebuchadnezzar||Jehoiakim, king of Judah is killed: Thrown over wall. He is replaced by his brother Jehoiachin.|
|597 BC||Jehoachin taken captive||Nebuchadnezzer||King Jehoachin, Ezekiel, Esther’s progenitor Kish, and 10,000 others taken captive. Jehoachin is replace by his brother or uncle Zedekiah.|
|593 BC||Zedekiah||Nebuchadnezzar||Ezekiel’s Call as Prophet|
|587 BC||Zedekiah is blinded and taken captive.||Nebuchadnezzar||Jerusalem is destroyed. Rest of the population taken into captivity.|
|550 BC||Jerusalem is now desolate|
|539 BC||Belshazzar/Cyrus||Last year of Babylon’s rule. Daniel is ~70 years old.||Cyrus conquers Babylon. Darius takes the kingdom and is 62 yrs old.|
See Pop Up: A Portion of the Account written by Herodotus.
Note: the following is taken from a novel using scripture to describe the events of the night when Cyrus conquered Babylon, taken from a portion of “One Angel’s Opinion” volume three by Barbara Grover. “One Angel’s Opinion” volume one is available now on Amazon.
The Conqueror of Babylon:
“No one noticed the two bedraggled men crouching on a hill overlooking Babylon, their hands shading their eyes. It was not unusual to see caravan traders. Camels stood behind them chewing casually. No one would have guessed the two were Cyrus, the Persian king and Gubaru, his governor and general.
Together they sat on their haunches, now eating mutton balls spiced with onions and garlic. In silence, they surveyed the city, mentally measuring its walls.
“Those walls cannot be breached,” Gubaru whispered in the lowest tone possible.
“I agree,” Cyrus mumbled, looking up from his food toward the city. From the corners of his eyes he was also checking to see if anyone had come near them. “They’re wide enough for two chariots to pass each other going in opposite directions.” Cyrus popped another mutton ball in his mouth, “The Euphrates river cuts right through the city, so…what about the water gates?”
“Walls on both sides of the river inside protects the city,” Gubaru mumbled. He brushed bits of fallen food from his crumpled clothes, “Even if our men were to get under the water gates, which is impossible because no man can hold his breath that long, then they would have to breach the side gates in the wall to get into the city.”
“Hrump,” Cyrus grunted before giving his opinion. “Nebuchadnezzar knew what he was doing but that Belshazzar is a fool.”
Gubaru pulled his bread apart and gave his king a portion.
The men ate their last portions before Cyrus stood, wiped his hands on his dirty clothes, and announced he had seen enough.
As Gubaru gathered their belongings and put them in the saddle bags, Cyrus continued to scan the horizon.
Then, there it was, right in front of Cyrus’ eyes, but he hadn’t noticed it before; a low lying, large marshy basin on the outside of the city next to the river in the distance. His heart beat with excitement. Could his men dig a trench from the Euphrates to the marsh and siphon off the Euphrates into the marsh? If so, lower it enough to get under the water gate beneath the city wall? Then his men could surreptitiously make their way through the city to the upper city gate, open it, and allow the entire army to penetrate the city.
When Cyrus shared his thoughts, Gubaru eyes lit up. “You know,” Gubaru scratched his beard, “Babylon’s National Holiday of Akitu is coming. On Nisannu 7th the king will be giving an all day feast in the banquet room of his palace.”
“An all day feast…” Cyrus smiled. “They will be drunk by evening.”
The two men left, making plans of their own for this feast.
In Anshan Cyrus met with his advisors. A sketch of Babylon had been made and turned into a map. Calculations on the volume of the water and the size of the basin were made. More detail was filled in to make a map. Divisions of the troops were made for each assignment.
The un-militarized men would stand by to take the weapons from those going under the water gate to hand them back through the gate again.
On the evening of the feast, Cyrus was prepared, having moved his troops to their respective locations, ordering large camps of men to be quietly stationed at each point where the river entered and exited the city, instructing his men to wait for the signal.
The bars on the gates, deep in the river, were set too close together for a man to slide through, but it was obvious that if a few of Cyrus’ men could get under these water gates, they could enter the city and open the entrance gates from inside the city, and his army could take the city.
Cyrus not only had troops at the outside walls where the river entered and exited the city, but troops between the basin and the river, ready to dig a trench at back breaking speed.
Unbeknownst to Cyrus, inside the palace, God also was working on Cyrus’ behalf, positioning His agents: Angels were stationed in the palace with a pair of scales to weigh Belshazzar’s choices.
It was no accident Cyrus had his amazing insight into noticing that basin.
“Thus says the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held—to subdue nations before him and loose the armor of kings, to open before him the double doors, so that the gates will not be shut …I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden riches of secret places, That you may know that I, the Lord, Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel. Isaiah 45:1,3
Note: Isaiah (740 BC – c. 686 BC) prophesied about Cyrus between 100 and 200 years earlier before this event takes place in 550 BC.
The room in the palace was filled with food, wine, boisterous laughter and flattery. Not only the guests, but the Babylonian guards enjoyed the atmosphere of merriment. They shared jokes, tasted the finest food, and partook in the wine; a little here and a little there. When the king was in a good mood, everyone was in a good mood, but if the mood should go bad, then the guards and others had learned to quickly take an invisible posture while running to meet their duties. Tonight, however; all was well. No one had any reason to believe it would be otherwise. Babylon, as everybody knew, was impenetrable!
As Cyrus’ troops dug feverishly in silence, they could hear the echo of the laughter in the distance. The croaking frogs and chirping crickets made the night seem even more mysterious as the stars in the sky slowly circled overhead counting out the hours. As the night wore on the laughter from the palace seem to crescendo, then suddenly the laughter ceased. Cyrus was worried. Had his men been discovered? He sent a messenger to give him a report, but the messenger returned, speaking softly, “All is well.” Evidently, something had happened inside the palace to cause the laughter to cease.
Little did Cyrus know of God’s hand in his affair as his men dug furtively in the marsh basin. In the king’s palace, the apparition of a hand appeared in the light of a candlestick set against the wall. The fingers wrote upon the wall in the flickering light. The king was terrified, his knees gave way causing him to stagger.
The angel set his scales on the same table alongside the candlestick. On one side of the scale he put the Babylonian kingdom. On the other side of the scale he put the kingdom of the Medes and the Persians. The Babylonian kingdom was heavy in its sin. The angel made a declaration “The time of judgment has arrived, judgment against Babylon for her role in destroying the Jewish temple.”
Belshazzar, terrified, and his stunned guests watch floating fingers write a mysterious message on the wall in Aramaic: מנא, מנא, תקל, ופרסין (Mene, Mene, Tekel, U-Pharsin).
Everyone is aghast.
Agitated and humiliated, Belshazzar calls his servants, demanding, “Where are the advisors?”
The drinking and eating ceased. A quiet roar of whispering fills the room, each guest waiting for the arrival of the advisors.
Belshazzar anxiously sits at the long table at the head of the room. One leg is tucked under the chair, the other outstretched. He is leaning in, whispering to those sitting at the table with him when the advisors finally enter. “There’s the message,” Belshazzar points at the wall. “Interpret it!”
The advisors pick up the candlestick and hold it close to the wall to get a better view. They examine the message and with relief, they can give the interpretation. “They are Aramaic weights, great king: Two minas, a shekel and two parts.”
“I know that!” Belshazzer yelled before calming himself. Upon wiping his brow he continued. “I can read can’t I? But what does it mean? It must have a meaning!”
The Queen, heard the commotion, as she entered the banquet hall. “O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts trouble you, nor be frightened. There is a man in your kingdom in whom the Spirit of the Holy God resides. Listen, in the days of your grandfather the wisdom of the gods were found in this man; your grandfather the king, made him chief of all the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers. He is known for having an excellent spirit and knowledge. He is Daniel, the one the king named Belteshazzar. Let him be called, and he will give the interpretation.”
As the Queen spoke in the palace, outside, the Euphrates river was diverted upstream. An elated Cyrus grinned, careful not to make a scene as he watched the water run into the basin, dropping the river to mid thigh level on a man and even as low as muddiness.
Now, to get under the water gates. Cyrus stealthily left the basin to examine the height of the water at the water gates which were now deep in the ravine of the muddy river bed, situated below the walls of the city. The water gates were exposed! The water continued to lower as his men continued to dig. He looked above to examine the stars. Their position gave him just a little more time.
“Wake up Daniel!, Wake up!”. Inside the palace a messenger is shaking Daniel from his sleep. “The king has called for you. He needs you to interpret the meaning of a message written on the wall.”
Daniel could see the urgency in the messenger’s voice as he rose from his bed. “I am awake… Daniel assures him as he attempts to dress.
“The wise men, the astrologers, the seers, were brought but they couldn’t tell the king the meaning of the message. Hurry!” the breathless messenger urges. “The king is impatient and waiting!”
Daniel didn’t even bother to ask questions. It was obvious he needed to do nothing more than listen. The water from the cauldron felt cool, as Daniel splashed and dried his face. It was almost as though he knew what was about to happen as he put on his finest clothes amid the urgency of the moment.
“The king is in a foul mood and we both could lose our heads,” the messenger almost pushed Daniel through the door before taking the lead.
Daniel remained silent as the messenger breathlessly relayed everything that had happened as they scurried down torch lit hallways. Upon reaching the two massive doors, the messenger stops, catches his breath, and instructs the guards to open the doors for Daniel to enter.
Daniel takes a deep breath. He enters with humble dignity amid the hush of the guests.
When Belshazzar saw Daniel he leaned back sizing this man up. Can he interpret the writing or not. “Daniel, I have heard of you, that you can make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if you can read this writing, and tell me its meaning, you will be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold around your neck, and you even will be the third ruler in the kingdom, behind Nabonidus and myself. Can you tell me what this means?”
“O great king. There is a God in heaven who makes known to man the things of heaven. Therefore, both the interpretation and the gifts belong to you.” Daniel takes his time studying the words written on the wall and praying to God to give him the meaning of this mysterious message.
In heaven, in the temple, an angel sprinkles Daniel’s prayer upon the altar. The incense rises to God’s throne room in the seventh heaven. God hears Daniel’s prayer and opens Daniel’s eyes.
Daniel looks at the wall and reads to himself: Mina, Mina, He Counted, He Counted…. Ready to share what he knows, Daniel takes a deep breath, lifts his head and speaks boldly. Everyone has been waiting to hear him speak. A hush falls over the audience.
“Mene, Mene” Daniel pronounces the message in a large, clear voice; “God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it.”
The guests gasp! Everyone is talking one to another “What!”, “What did he say?”, “Finished it?” “Did he say such a thing to the king?” “Babylon is finished he said!”, “Who can speak to the king in such a way as this?”
As the guests were talking, Daniel proceeded to proclaim the meaning reading the word Tekel on the wall He Weighed. Once more Daniel speaks boldly. “Tekel!” Daniel calls out. The talking ceases. “You are weighed in the balances, and found wanting,”
Even as Daniel gives his pronouncements, Cyrus’ soldiers are receiving their signal. They make their way down the muddy ravine to reach the two metal gates that now barely stand in the water. Two soldiers stand in the mud to take the swords of those crawling under the gate. They whisper not a word as they crawl under the gates in the mud and water, and although the soldiers emerge encrusted with reddish-brown mud, their swords and weapons gleam in the bright moon’s light.
Inside the palace, this time few are whispering, they wait to hear Daniel’s final words.
Daniel reads the last word on the wall, U-Pharsin. Parsed Out, Two Persias.
“U-Pharsin!” Daniel calls out. “Your kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and the Persians.”
The king, previously serious, realizes that someone has played a prank for the festival. No one speaks to the king like that! Even the Queen must be part of this joke. Babylon Finished? HA! Babylon’s walls are impenetrable! Boisterously, the kings starts laughing, then, still drunk from wine and partying, is roaring in merriment! The guests watch the king laugh. They breath a sigh of relief and laugh in return.
As the drunken king continues his laughter, so do the guests join him in merriment, returning to their partying and dancing. I know how to make good sport of this! “Bring the scarlet robe and gold necklace! Put the necklace on Daniel” Belshazzar commands, in his best humor of the evening. “Well done! Well done!”
Daniel left the room after the sport to return to his living quarters pondering this revelation from God. Just outside the palace he thought he heard something. He stopped and looked about but saw nothing.
Daniel did not see two of Cyrus’ men hiding in the darkness. He continued his walk back to his quarters.
“It’s open!” Cyrus’ soldiers whisper in disbelief at the ease in which they are able to walk through the city gate along the river. “Open the main Istar gate,” one soldier whispers to the other “let the army in” as he points around the palace. He waits while the other skulks along the side of the palace wall. As he opens the large wall gate from the inside, Cyrus’ men stream into the city like ants. They position themselves, in silence, waiting for the right moment to strike. Several walk into the palace. The guards at the palace doors are suddenly taken and silenced with a slice of the sword; then stealthily replaced with Cyrus’ own men posing as guards.
If the Babylonians had been the least bit suspicious, or had they noticed their danger, they would never have allowed the Persians to enter the city, but would have destroyed them utterly. They would have locked all the street gates which gave access to the river, then, mounting upon the walls along both sides of the river, would have caught their enemy in a trap. But instead, the Persians came in by surprise.
The street gates along the river could have been the Babylonian’s salvation, but such is the condition of the human heart; men foolishly ignore those things by which salvation is given.
The Persian military first attacked the royal guards stationed in the entryway of the palace of the king. Belshazzar soon became aware of the cause of the disturbance and opened his own banquet doors to see what the noise was. That night he died fighting for his life.
Owing to the vast size of the city, the inhabitants of the central parts, long after the outer portions of the town had been taken, knew nothing of what had happened, but they also were engaged in the festival, continued dancing and reveling until they learned about the capture.
That night Cyrus, Ruler of the Called Out Ones, Shepherd of God, became King of the Babylonians and shortly freed all the Hebrews.
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