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V. Belshazzar's Last Feast (Ch. 5)

V. Belshazzar's Last Feast (Ch. 5)

The last event in the reign of the last king of Babylon is brought into focus because God acted decisively to issue a verdict of judgment.

During a drunken orgy, the intoxicated king was startled as he watched a mysterious hand inscribe words on the palace wall. Faint with fear, he summoned his wise men to read and interpret the words. They were helpless, and the king was gripped with panic.

The queen recommended Daniel, and he was summoned. She praised him as the best of the magicians and diviners, not understanding that he was very different from them. The king assumed that Daniel's previous interpretations were due to Daniel's having a special power. A large reward was offered. Daniel refused the gifts, a striking difference between himself and the wise men.

Daniel read and interpreted the words. Mene can be a unit of money (about one and one-half pounds of precious metal), or it can mean “numbered.” Thus the word is tied to both the metal of the sacred vessels and to the countdown of Belshazzar's reign. It had come to zero point.

Tekel could mean “shekel” (1/50 of a “mina”) or “measurement by weight.” The Lord of heaven had put Belshazzar on the scales of judgment, and he was spiritually empty. Peres could mean either “Persia” (a merger of the Medes and Persians), or it could mean “divided” (one-half of a unit of money). The Babylonian Empire would be cut up and given to an invading army.

In contrast to Nebuchadnezzar, this king did not exalt the name of God. His doom was sealed: that night he died in the maelstrom of Babylon's destruction.