The Story of Daniel

Chapter 5

Belshazzar's impious feast, 1-4. A hand-writing unknown to the magicians, troubles the king, 5-9. At the commendation of the queen Daniel is brought, 10-16. He, reproving the king of pride and idolatry, 17-24, reads and interprets the writing, 25-29. The monarchy is translated to the Medes, 30, 31.

1 Belshazzar the king made a great feast to one thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. 2 Belshazzar, while 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, so that the king, his princes, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. 3 Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem, and the king, his princes, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. 4 They drank wine and praised the gods of gold, of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.

5 In the same hour fingers of a man's hand came forth and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king's palace. And the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. 6 Then the king's countenance was changed and his thoughts troubled him, and the joints of his loins were loosened and his knees smote one against another. 7 The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spoke and said to the wise men of Babylon, "Whoever reads this writing and shows me its interpretation shall be clothed with scarlet, have a chain of gold around his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom." 8 Then all the king's wise men came in, but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king its interpretation. 9 Then the king Belshazzar was greatly troubled and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonished.

10 Now the queen, by reason of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet house. And the queen spoke, and said, "O king, live forever. Do not let your thoughts trouble you, nor let your countenance be changed. 11 There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods. And in the days of your father, light, understanding, and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him, whom the king Nebuchadnezzar your father—your father the king—made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers, 12 Because an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, the interpreting of dreams, showing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will reveal the interpretation."

13 Then Daniel was brought in before the king. And the king spoke and said to Daniel, "Are you that Daniel who is of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Judea? 14 I have even heard of you, that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that light, understanding, and excellent wisdom is found in you. 15 And now the wise men and the astrologers have been brought in before me so that they should read this writing and make known to me its interpretation, but they could not reveal the interpretation of the thing. 16 And I have heard of you, that you can make interpretations and dissolve doubts. Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with scarlet and have a chain of gold around your neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom."

17 Then Daniel answered and said before the king, "Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another; however, I will read the writing to the king and make known to him the interpretation. 18 O king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom, majesty, glory, and honor. 19 And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whom he wished he slew, whom he wished he kept alive, whom he wished he set up, and whom he wished he put down. 20 But when his heart was lifted up and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him. 21 And he was driven from the sons of men and 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, until he knew that the most high God rules in the kingdom of men and that he appoints over it whomever he will. 22 And you his son, O Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, 23 But have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And they have brought the vessels of his house before you, and you, your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drank wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver, gold, brass, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see, nor hear, nor know. And the God in whose hand is your breath and all your ways, you have not glorified. 24 Then the part of the hand was sent from him and this writing was written.

25 "And this is the writing that was written: 'MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.' 26 This is the interpretation of the thing: 'MENE': God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; 27 'TEKEL': you are weighed in the balances, and are found lacking; 28 'PERES': your kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians."

29 Then Belshazzar commanded, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, put a chain of gold around his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.

30 In that night Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans was slain. 31 And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.


Matthew Henry Commentary - Daniel, Chapter 5[➚]


John Gill's Chapter Summary:

This chapter gives an account of a feast made by King Belshazzar, attended with drunkenness, idolatry, and profanation of the vessels taken out of the temple at Jerusalem (Daniel 5:1-4); and of the displeasure of God, signified by a handwriting on the wall, which terrified the king and caused him to send in haste for the astrologers, etc., to read and interpret it, but they could not (Daniel 5:5-8); in this distress, which appeared in the countenances of him and his nobles, the queen mother advises him to send for Daniel, of whom she gives a great encomium (Daniel 5:9-12); upon which he was brought in to the king and promised a great reward to read and interpret the writing, which reward he slighted, but promised to read and interpret the writing (Daniel 5:13-17); and after putting him in mind of what had befallen his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar and charging him with pride, idolatry, and profanation of the vessels of the Lord (Daniel 5:18-23); reads and interprets the writing to him (Daniel 5:24-28); when he had honor done to him and was preferred in the government (Daniel 5:29); and the chapter is concluded with an account of the immediate accomplishment of ancient prophecies and of this handwriting in the slaying of the king of Babylon, in the dissolution of the Babylonish monarchy, and the possession of it by Darius the Mede (Daniel 5:30-31).

[v.23] - Reference, Revelation 9:20.