Daniel 5-6 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
5 King Belshazzar held a great feast for 1,000 of his nobles and drank wine in their presence. 2 Under the influence of[a] the wine, Belshazzar gave orders to bring in the gold and silver vessels that his predecessor[b] Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, wives, and concubines could drink from them. 3 So they brought in the gold[c] vessels that had been taken from the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, wives, and concubines drank from them. 4 They drank the wine and praised their gods made of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.
The Handwriting on the Wall
5 At that moment the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and began writing on the plaster of the king’s palace wall next to the lampstand. As the king watched the hand[d] that was writing, 6 his face turned pale,[e] and his thoughts so terrified him that his hip joints shook and his knees knocked together. 7 The king called out to bring in the mediums, Chaldeans, and astrologers. He said to these wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this inscription and gives me its interpretation will be clothed in purple, have a gold chain around his neck, and have the third highest position in the kingdom.” 8 So all the king’s wise men came in, but none could read the inscription or make its interpretation known to him. 9 Then King Belshazzar became even more terrified, his face turned pale,[f] and his nobles were bewildered.
10 Because of the outcry of the king and his nobles, the queen[g] came to the banquet hall. “May the king live forever,” she said. “Don’t let your thoughts terrify you or your face be pale.[h] 11 There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the days of your predecessor he was found to have insight, intelligence, and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods. Your predecessor, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the diviners, mediums, Chaldeans, and astrologers. Your own predecessor, the king, 12 did this because Daniel, the one the king named Belteshazzar, was found to have an extraordinary spirit, knowledge and perception, and the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems. Therefore, summon Daniel, and he will give the interpretation.”
Daniel before the King
13 Then Daniel was brought before the king. The king said to him, “Are you Daniel, one of the Judean exiles that my predecessor the king brought from Judah? 14 I’ve heard that you have the spirit of the gods in you, and that you have insight, intelligence, and extraordinary wisdom. 15 Now the wise men and mediums were brought before me to read this inscription and make its interpretation known to me, but they could not give its interpretation. 16 However, I have heard about you that you can give interpretations and solve problems. Therefore, if you can read this inscription and give me its interpretation, you will be clothed in purple, have a gold chain around your neck, and have the third highest position in the kingdom.”
17 Then Daniel answered the king, “You may keep your gifts, and give your rewards to someone else; however, I will read the inscription for the king and make the interpretation known to him. 18 Your Majesty, the Most High God gave sovereignty, greatness, glory, and majesty to your predecessor Nebuchadnezzar. 19 Because of the greatness He gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages were terrified and fearful of him. He killed anyone he wanted and kept alive anyone he wanted; he exalted anyone he wanted and humbled anyone he wanted. 20 But when his heart was exalted and his spirit became arrogant, he was deposed from his royal throne and his glory was taken from him. 21 He was driven away from people, his mind was like an animal’s, he lived with the wild donkeys, he was fed grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with dew from the sky until he acknowledged that the Most High God is ruler over the kingdom of men and sets anyone He wants over it.
22 “But you his successor, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this. 23 Instead, you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven. The vessels from His house were brought to you, and as you and your nobles, wives, and concubines drank wine from them, you praised the gods made of silver and gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or understand. But you have not glorified the God who holds your life-breath in His hand and who controls the whole course of your life.[i] 24 Therefore, He sent the hand, and this writing was inscribed.
The Inscription’s Interpretation
25 “This is the writing that was inscribed:
MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN.
26 This is the interpretation of the message:
MENE[j] means that God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end.
29 Then Belshazzar gave an order, and they clothed Daniel in purple, placed a gold chain around his neck, and issued a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
30 That very night Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans was killed, 31 [n]and Darius the Mede received the kingdom at the age of 62.
The Plot against Daniel
6 Darius decided[o] to appoint 120 satraps over the kingdom, stationed throughout the realm, 2 and over them three administrators, including Daniel. These satraps would be accountable to them so that the king would not be defrauded. 3 Daniel[p] distinguished himself above the administrators and satraps because he had an extraordinary spirit, so the king planned to set him over the whole realm. 4 The administrators and satraps, therefore, kept trying to find a charge against Daniel regarding the kingdom. But they could find no charge or corruption, for he was trustworthy, and no negligence or corruption was found in him. 5 Then these men said, “We will never find any charge against this Daniel unless we find something against him concerning the law of his God.”
6 So the administrators and satraps went together to the king and said to him, “May King Darius live forever. 7 All the administrators of the kingdom, the prefects, satraps, advisers, and governors have agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an edict that for 30 days, anyone who petitions any god or man except you, the king, will be thrown into the lions’ den. 8 Therefore, Your Majesty, establish the edict and sign the document so that, as a law of the Medes and Persians, it is irrevocable and cannot be changed.” 9 So King Darius signed the document.
Daniel in the Lions’ Den
10 When Daniel learned that the document had been signed, he went into his house. The windows in its upper room opened toward Jerusalem, and three times a day he got down on his knees, prayed, and gave thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel petitioning and imploring his God. 12 So they approached the king and asked about his edict: “Didn’t you sign an edict that for 30 days any man who petitions any god or man except you, the king, will be thrown into the lions’ den?”
The king answered, “As a law of the Medes and Persians, the order stands and is irrevocable.”
13 Then they replied to the king, “Daniel, one of the Judean exiles, has ignored you, the king, and the edict you signed, for he prays three times a day.” 14 As soon as the king heard this, he was very displeased; he set his mind on rescuing Daniel and made every effort until sundown to deliver him.
15 Then these men went to the king and said to him, “You as king know it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no edict or ordinance the king establishes can be changed.”
16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” 17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den. The king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signet rings of his nobles, so that nothing in regard to Daniel could be changed. 18 Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting. No diversions[q] were brought to him, and he could not sleep.
19 At the first light of dawn the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 When he reached the den, he cried out in anguish to Daniel. “Daniel, servant of the living God,” the king said,[r] “has your God whom you serve continually been able to rescue you from the lions?”
21 Then Daniel spoke with the king: “May the king live forever. 22 My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths. They haven’t hurt me, for I was found innocent before Him. Also, I have not committed a crime against you my king.”
23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to take Daniel out of the den. So Daniel was taken out of the den, uninjured, for he trusted in his God. 24 The king then gave the command, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel[s] were brought and thrown into the lions’ den—they, their children, and their wives. They had not reached the bottom of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.
Darius Honors God
25 Then King Darius wrote to those of every people, nation, and language who live in all the earth: “May your prosperity abound. 26 I issue a decree that in all my royal dominion, people must tremble in fear before the God of Daniel:
For He is the living God,
28 So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and[t] the reign of Cyrus the Persian.