A Hand Writes on the Palace Wall
1King Belshazzar gave a huge banquet. He invited a thousand of his nobles to it. He drank wine with them. 2While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to his servants. He commanded them to bring in some gold and silver cups. They were the cups his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem. Belshazzar had them brought in so everyone could drink from them. That included the king himself, his nobles, his wives and his concubines. 3So the servants brought in the gold cups. The cups had been taken from God’s temple in Jerusalem. The king and his nobles drank from them. So did his wives and concubines. 4As they drank the wine, they praised their gods. The statues of those gods were made out of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood or stone.
5Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared. They wrote something on the plaster of the palace wall. It happened near the lampstand. The king watched the hand as it wrote. 6His face turned pale. He was so afraid that his legs became weak. And his knees were knocking together.
7The king sent for those who try to figure things out by using magic. He also sent for those who study the heavens. All of them were wise men in Babylon. Then the king spoke to them. He said, “I want one of you to read this writing. I want you to tell me what it means. Whoever does this will be dressed in purple clothes. A gold chain will be put around his neck. And he will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”
8Then all the king’s wise men came in. But they couldn’t read the writing. They couldn’t tell him what it meant. 9So King Belshazzar became even more terrified. His face grew more pale. And his nobles were bewildered.
10The queen heard the king and his nobles talking. So she came into the dining hall. “King Belshazzar, may you live forever!” she said. “Don’t be afraid! Don’t look so pale! 11I know a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. He has understanding and wisdom and good sense just like the gods. He was chief of those who tried to figure things out by using magic. And he was in charge of those who studied the heavens. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him to that position. 12King Nebuchadnezzar did this because he saw what the man could do. This man’s name is Daniel. Your father called him Belteshazzar. He has a clever mind and knowledge and understanding. He is also able to tell what dreams mean. He can explain riddles and solve hard problems. Send for him. He’ll tell you what the writing means.”
13So Daniel was brought to the king. The king said to him, “Are you Daniel? Are you one of the prisoners my father the king brought here from Judah? 14I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you. I’ve also heard that you have understanding and good sense and special wisdom. 15The wise men and those who practice magic were brought to me. They were asked to read this writing and tell me what it means. But they couldn’t. 16I have heard that you are able to explain things and solve hard problems. I hope you can read this writing and tell me what it means. If you can, you will be dressed in purple clothes. A gold chain will be put around your neck. And you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”
17Then Daniel answered the king. He said, “You can keep your gifts for yourself. You can give your rewards to someone else. But I will read the writing for you. I’ll tell you what it means.
18“Your Majesty, the Most High God was good to your father Nebuchadnezzar. He gave him authority and greatness and glory and honor. 19God gave him a high position. Then people from every nation became afraid of the king. That was true no matter what language they spoke. The king put to death anyone he wanted to. He spared anyone he wanted to spare. He gave high positions to anyone he wanted to. And he brought down anyone he wanted to bring down. 20But his heart became very stubborn and proud. So he was removed from his royal throne. His glory was stripped away from him. 21He was driven away from people. He was given the mind of an animal. He lived with the wild donkeys. He ate grass just as an ox does. His body became wet with the dew of heaven. He stayed that way until he recognized that the Most High God rules over all kingdoms on earth. He puts anyone he wants to in charge of them.
22“But you knew all that, Belshazzar. After all, you are Nebuchadnezzar’s son. In spite of that, you are still proud. 23You have taken your stand against the Lord of heaven. You had your servants bring cups from his temple to you. You and your nobles drank wine from them. So did your wives and concubines. You praised your gods. The statues of those gods are made out of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood or stone. They can’t see or hear or understand anything. But you didn’t honor God. He holds in his hand your very life and everything you do. 24So he sent the hand that wrote on the wall.
25“Here is what was written.
mene, mene, tekel, parsin
26“And here is what these words mean.
“The word Mene means that God has limited the time of your rule. He has brought it to an end.
27“The word Tekel means that you have been weighed on scales. And you haven’t measured up to God’s standard.
28“The word Peres means that your authority over your kingdom will be taken away from you. It will be given to the Medes and Persians.”
29Then Belshazzar commanded his servants to dress Daniel in purple clothes. So they did. They put a gold chain around his neck. And he was made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.
30That very night Belshazzar, the king of Babylon, was killed. 31His kingdom was given to Darius the Mede. Darius was 62 years old.