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Drunken Feast of Belshazzar: The Writing on the Wall

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1 Drunken Feast of Belshazzar: The Writing on the Wall
Daniel 5

2 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.” The King’s Feast

3 Daniel 5:2 “While he tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple...” The King’s Feast

4 Daniel 5:2 “... which had been in Jerusalem, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them.” The King’s Feast

5 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.” The King’s Feast

6 Daniel 5:4 “They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.” The King’s Feast

7 Belshazzar’s Extravagant Feast
He is the present king in Babylon. “King of the Chaldeans” (5:30) External evidence all speaks of Belshazzar as the “son of the king.” His father was Nabonidus. Leadership was entrusted to him, as his father was away on another campaign, probably in Tema. Belshazzar shared co-regency with his father, Nabondius, but he was subordinate to his father.

8 Belshazzar’s Extravagant Feast
Nabondius was king, and Belshazzar was the king’s son. The populace regarded him as the king. Called and managed as a king. Desecrated the Temple vessels—disrespectful conduct. Royal feasts of oriental antiquity were extravagant.

9 Belshazzar’s Irreverent Conduct
The wine-induced drunkenness, along with the lasciviousness with the concubines, resulted in an orgy. Insulting to the God in heaven! Blasphemous and irreverent conduct. Used the vessels dedicated to use in the house of God to arrive at a drunken stupor and praise their pagan idols!

10 Belshazzar’s Irreverent Conduct
The vessels had been brought to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar—Belshazzar’s grandfather. (Ezra 1:7-11) The orientals used the word father in eight different ways. It was used in the sense of an “ancestor.” Drunken Revelry is offensive to the God of Heaven! Loss of the sense of things being holy is always a sign of moral rottenness and inward decay!

11 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.” Writing Hand

12 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.” Writing Hand




16 The Writing Fingers The pale king
King’s terror is brought about by the writing of the armless hand’s fingers on the wall. King’s color changed. He was literally and absolutely terrified! His hips loosened and his knees knocked together!

17 Daniel 5:7 “The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. The king spoke, saying to the wise men of Babylon...” Cries for Counselors

18 Daniel 5:7 “... 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” The Reward

19 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.” Powerless

20 Powerless Wise Men Powerless wise men “A third ruler in the kingdom”
“One of three” Nabonidus, Belshazzar, Daniel Purple—color of royalty Necklace—ornament worn by prominent ranking persons Reward is great, but the ability of the wise men is not up to the task!

21 Daniel 5:9 “Then King Belshazzar was greatly troubled, his countenance was changed, and his lords were astonished.” Lords Astonished

22 The King Is Troubled Perplexed lords
King and his lords are all the more bothered when they see the inability of the Chaldean wise men to interpret the writing. “Thrown into confusion” Whole party became a tumult!

23 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.’” The Prudent Queen

24 Daniel 5:11 “There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God. And in the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods...” The Prudent Queen

25 Daniel 5:11 “... were found in him; and King Nebuchadnezzar your father-your father the king-made him chief of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers.” The Prudent Queen

26 Daniel 5:12 The Prudent Queen
“Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles and explaining enigmas were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.” The Prudent Queen

27 The Prudent Queen This is the queen-mother, not Belshazzar’s wife.
Nitocris, wife of Nabonidus; daughter of Nebuchadnezzar. Verse 2 tells us the wives were already there. In verse 11, the queen speaks in such a way as to suggest a mother speaking to her son, rather than a wife to her husband, the king.

28 The Prudent Queen She was cognizant of past events previously unknown to Belshazzar. (either mother or grandmother) Stored in her memory were facts concerning the relationship that existed between Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel. Good indicator she was his daughter. She was high-ranking and entered the banquet hall of her own accord.

29 The Prudent Queen Her language was similar to Nebuchadnezzar’s—she spoke highly of Daniel. “Excellent spirit” (able to interpret) 1 Kings 10:1 “Knowledge” (able to solve riddles) Numbers 12:8 “Understanding” (able to give meaning) Psalm 49:4

30 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 from Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah?’” Daniel Before the King

31 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 Before the King

32 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 Before the King

33 Daniel 5:16 “And I have heard of you, that you can give interpretations and explain enigmas. Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation...” Daniel Before the King

34 Daniel 5:16 “... 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 Before the King

35 Daniel Before the King King’s request and promised reward
King avoids Daniel’s Babylonian name— similar to his own “I” king’s introduction reveals a tone of haughtiness and arrogance in his heart. He is skeptical—”if…”

36 Daniel Desires No Reward
“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.’” Daniel Desires No Reward

37 Daniel’s Conduct Prophet’s reply and rejection… Not due to rudeness
Contemptuousness Arrogance Prophet’s rejection of the reward Is not due to fear or deceit No desire for worldly gain, or position and advantage He had other values and standards

38 Daniel’s Conduct Prophet’s conduct…
Come what may, he will declare the truth. “Things and power” will not alter his words. The man of God is free from the bondage of these things! The prophet promises to “read the writing” and make the “interpretation known” to the king…

39 Daniel Reminds the King…
“O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom and majesty, glory and honor.” Daniel Reminds the King…

40 Daniel Reminds the King…
“And because of the majesty that He gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whomever he wished, he executed...” Daniel Reminds the King…

41 Daniel Reminds the King…
“... whomever he wished, he kept alive; whomever he wished, he set up; and whomever he wished, he put down.” Daniel Reminds the King…

42 Daniel Reminds the King…
“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.” Daniel Reminds the King…

43 Daniel Reminds the King…
“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...” Daniel Reminds the King…

44 Daniel Reminds the King…
“... and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses.” Daniel Reminds the King…

45 Daniel Recalls… Daniel reminds the king of his grandfather’s greatness and his pride Manifests the difference in power in Nabonidus and Belshazzar Though not equal in greatness to his father, Belshazzar had become proud, before Him who is able to “abase the proud” Nebuchadnezzar’s experience related--“until he knew that Ruler is God.”

46 Daniel 5:22 “But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this.” Daniel’s Rebuke

47 Daniel 5:23 “And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them...” Daniel’s Rebuke

48 Daniel 5:23 “... 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.” Daniel’s Rebuke

49 Daniel’s Rebuke Daniel reproves Belshazzar
Belshazzar had not taken the past to heart. He knew these things but had not humbled his heart. “Lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven.” Vaunted the God of heaven Praised gods which “were not gods” Failed to glorify the one true God who held Belshazzar’s life in His hands!

50 Daniel’s Rebuke Literally, Belshazzar’s life was in God’s hands!
Job 20:20; Acts 17:26 He owned all of his ways. Jeremiah 10:23; Acts 17:28 Idols of wood and stone and ”finely spun philosophies” were little more than pure stupidity. They were creations of the minds and hands of men.

51 Daniel 5:24,25 “Then the fingers of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written. And this is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.” Daniel Interprets


53 Daniel Solves the Riddle
Reading of the riddle Writing was “inscribed”—recorded or written Writing sent from God Inscription apparently was still on the wall. “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.”

54 Daniel Solves the Riddle
Explanation of “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.” Original probably… MENE, MENE,TEKEL, UPERES Appeared only as “consonant.” Inscription of the words possibly names of weights: “MENE”—Mina or Maneh “TEKEL”—Hebrew shekel “PERES”—Half-mina or Maneh

55 Daniel 5:26,27 “This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting.” Daniel Interprets

56 Daniel 5:28 Daniel Interprets
“PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.” Daniel Interprets

57 Daniel Solves the Riddle
“MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.” MENE—Numbered. God has numbered the days (length or duration) of the kingdom and brought it to an end (finish). TEKEL—Thou (Belshazzar) art weighed in the balances and found wanting (lacking, deficient in moral worth). PERES—Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and the Persians.

58 Daniel Solves the Riddle
“Divided” does not mean that the Babylonian kingdom would be divided between the Medes and Persians. The kingdom would be dissolved or destroyed by the united effort of the Medes and the Persians under Cyrus. The Medes are mentioned before the Persians here, but from the time of Cyrus onward the Persians are named before the Medes. Esther 1:3,14,18,19

59 Daniel Solves the Riddle
In the word PERES (divided), there is an allusion to “PARAS” (Persians), which apparently indicates that the domination power in breaking (dividing or dissolving) Babylon would be Persia. Characters may be obscure, but the interpretation of Daniel is clear. The kingdom of Babylon is doomed! The proud king’s festive night ended in death!

60 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.” The King Keeps His Word

61 The King Keeps His Word Belshazzar keeps his word—he promotes Daniel
This is a royalty must! The king merely fulfills his word. This shows he believed Daniel. Had he not, he would have had him put to death. No contradiction of his refusal (vs.17). This is the king’s doing—not at Daniel’s request!

62 Daniel 5:30,31 “That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.” Words Fulfilled!

63 Daniel’s Words Fulfilled!
Belshazzar, the Chaldean king, was slain that very night. Murdered that night (Jeremiah 51:39) Festivity of the night of “drink, dread, and death” No mention of any battle In perfect keeping with the historical facts.

64 Daniel’s Words Fulfilled!
The city fell… Fell during the celebration of a festival Fell without a battle. Cyrus redirected the flow of the river. The king was murdered in his palace by a soldier named Bobyras. Darius the Meade—Persian kingdom— second part of the image in Daniel 2!

65 Babylonian Rulers Nabopolassar (625 B.C.) Nebuchadnezzar (604 B.C.)
Evil-Merodach (562 B.C.) Nergal-shar-usar (560 B.C.) Labash-Marduk (556 B.C.) Nabonidus {Beltshazzar} (555 B.C.) Babylon fell in 539 B.C.



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