Daniel 5:1 “Belshazzar the king…”
We’ve shifted from Nebuchadnezzar to Belshazzar. Critics of Daniel have argued over the information he gives on Belshazzar. The chapter will mention Nebuchadnezzar as his father, and reference will be made of the third ruler. History has affirmed Daniel’s account. Nebuchadnezzar was grandfather to Belshazzar. The Bible frequently refers to anyone’s ancestors as fathers. The kingdom passed to other rulers, but was eventually split between two, one of them Belshazzar who ruled in Babylon, thus making him a second ruler.
As accurate as the Bible has been on everything it has referenced over the years, if someone claims to be objective in their study, I don’t understand why they would not see the wisdom in at least starting with what the Bible says on a subject and working from there. I know the heart of man won’t allow him to accept the truth, even with good reasoning, but the lack of an open mind is so obvious, you would think they would occasionally give it a shot.
2-4 “Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem…golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God…the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them…and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone”
Bel is having a drunken party and thinks it would be a good idea to mock God by taking the utensils from His temple and drinking from them. He further spits in God’s face by praising false gods. He’s displaying the same attitude his grandfather had before his encounters with Almighty God. The fact that his grandfather was able to conquer the Israelites and take the utensils from the temple of their God gives him the false sense of superiority and power. You would think he would have heard of his grandfather’s encounters with God. If he did, they don’t seem to have made any impact on him.
5 “…fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall…”
Where we get the saying “reading the writing on the wall.” God is passing judgment and writing the trespass and sentence on the wall for all to see.
6 “…king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another”
Very sobering moment. Nice description of how frightened Bel was. He had trouble standing and his knees shook.
7-9 He does the same thing Nebuchadnezzar did when he had a problem, call in the wise men. But just as they did before, these couldn’t give any explanation of what was happening.
10 “The queen…”
Commentary suggests this was either the queen mother or grandmother. She would have been around during the time that Daniel had counseled Nebuchadnezzar. From what she says, commentary also suggests that Daniel may have been relieved of his position as head of the wise men when Nebuchadnezzar died. This might explain why Belshazzar didn’t think of him when he saw the writing.
10-12 The queen gives a quick history of who Daniel was and how he served in Nebuchadnezzar’s court. She suggests Bel call for him to explain the writing.
13-16 Bel calls in Daniel and gives him the whole spill of what he wants and how he’ll reward Daniel if he can explain everything.
16 “…shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom”
What we referenced earlier. Belshazzar is offering to make Daniel a ruler of Babylon along with himself and the other. One has to wonder if any of what he was saying was truthful or just the babbling of a drunk.
17 “…Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another…”
Daniel isn’t showing Belshazzar the same respect he showed Nebuchadnezzar.
18-23 Daniel outlines what had happened to Nebuchadnezzar, how he had been given everything by Almighty God, but that when he became prideful, God took it from him. He later repented and gave glory to God, but Belshazzar has not done so.
25 “…Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin”
What was written on the wall by the hand from God.
26-28 “…Mene; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. Tekel; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. Peres; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians”
Interpretation of the writing. Numbered, weighed, and dividers. Just like an accountants books, Belshazzar’s rule has been numbered and weighed in the balance, and has come up short. His kingdom will be divided among the Medes and Persians. The difference between the use of UPHARSIN and PERES is form. Both are forms of the same root word. UPHARSIN is active plural meaning dividers, while PERES is passive singular meaning divided. The second is explanation of the first telling where the division is.
29 “Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom”
I wonder if this was out of duty for what he had promised or just further silliness from a drunk. How could a person in their right mind continue the facade after hearing such sobering news? The final act is indicative of the whole rule.
30-31 “…was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain…Darius the Median took the kingdom”
Like a period at the end of a book. The judgment was carried out quickly.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!