After the death of Nebuchadnezzar, the kingdom
of Babylon began to fall apart. The successors of Nebuchadnezzar
changed frequently. Finally, after seven years, Belshazzar (whom the Prophet
Daniel calls the son of Nebuchadnezzar) came to the throne and ruled about
seventeen years. In the seventeenth year of his reign, when the Medes and the
Persians threatened to attack him, Belshazzar carelessly feasted in Babylon, not thinking of the danger.
One day during a feast, King Belshazzar, for the
profanation of the true God and in praise of his idols, commanded that the
vessels be brought which Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the Temple in
Jerusalem; he and all those with him drank wine in them. Such blasphemy
resulted in the judgment of God. A hand appeared in the air which wrote some
sort of words on the wall.
Belshazzar began to tremble from fear, and he
cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers.
The wise men of Babylon came, but none of them was able to read the handwriting
on the wall.
Now the Queen came into the banquet house and said
to Belshazzar, "Let not thy thoughts trouble thee, O King. There is a man
in thy kingdom, in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God — it is Daniel. He will
explain the meaning of the words." At that time Daniel was far away from
the King’s court.
When Daniel was brought in, the King said to him,
"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."
Daniel refused the rewards. He reminded the King
of how God persuaded the proud Nebuchadnezzar. "And thou his son, O
Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knowest all this; but
hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of Heaven, and hast drunk wine in the
vessels of His House; and thou hast praised the idols; and the God in Whose
hand thy breath is, and Whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified. For
this reason God sent a hand which wrote these letters. This is what is written:
MENE, TEKEL, FERES
"MENE means God hath numbered
thy kingdom and determined its end;
"TEKEL means thou art weighed
in the balance, and art found to be wanting;
"FERES means thy kingdom is divided
and given to the Medes and Persians."
The King immediately rewarded Daniel as he had
That same night the Median and Persian armies,
under the leadership of the Persian King Cyrus, invaded the city and took
possession of it. Belshazzar was slain and the Babylonian kingdom fell. In its
place arose the kingdom of the Medes and the Persians — the silver in the
vision of Nebuchadnezzar, as the Prophet Daniel had explained to him. The
Persian King Cyrus made Darius, the Median, King over Babylon.
the Book of Daniel, chap. 5.
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