5 Belshazzar king of Babylon seeth an handwriting on the wall. 8 The soothsayers called of the king, cannot expound the writing.  25 Daniel readeth it, and interpreteth it also. 30 The king is slain. 31 Darius enjoyeth the kingdom.

King [a]Belshazzar made a great feast to a thousand of his princes, and drank wine [b]before the thousand.

And Belshazzar [c]while he tasted the wine, commanded to bring him the golden and silver vessels, which his [d]father Nebuchadnezzar had brought from the Temple in Jerusalem, that the king and his princes, his wives, and his concubines might drink therein.

Then were brought the golden vessels, that were taken out of the Temple of the Lord’s house at Jerusalem, and the king and his princes, his wives and his concubines drank in them.

They drank wine, and praised the [e]gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.

At the same hour appeared fingers of a man’s hand, which wrote over [f]against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, and the king saw the palm of the hand that wrote.

Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his [g]knees smote one against the other.

Wherefore the king cried loud, that they should bring [h]the astrologians, the Chaldeans and the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babel, Whosoever can read this writing, and declare me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with purple, and shall have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.

Then came all the king’s wise men, but they could neither read the writing, nor show the king the interpretation.

Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his princes were astonied.

10 Now the [i]Queen by reason of the talk of the King and his princes, came into the banquet house, and the Queen spake, and said, O king, live forever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed.

11 There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods, and in the days of thy father, light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him: whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made chief of the [j]enchanters, astrologians, Chaldeans, and soothsayers,

12 Because a more excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding (for he did expound dreams, and declare hard sentences, and dissolved doubts) were found in him, even in Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will declare the interpretation.

13 ¶ Then was Daniel brought before the king, and the king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom my father the king brought out of Jewry?

14 Now I have heard of thee, that [k]the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and that light and understanding, and excellent wisdom is found in thee.

15 Now therefore wise men and Astrologians have been brought before me, that they should read this writing, and show me the interpretation thereof: but they could not declare the interpretation of the thing.

16 Then heard I of thee, that thou couldest show interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and show me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with purple, and shall have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom.

17 Then Daniel answered, and said before the king, Keep thy rewards to thyself, and give thy gifts to another: yet I will read the writing unto the king, and show him the interpretation.

18 O king, hear thou, The most high God gave unto [l]Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and honor, and glory.

19 And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages trembled, and feared before him: he put to death whom he would: he smote whom he would: whom he would he set up, and whom he would he put down.

20 But when his heart was puffed up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his honor 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 asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of the heaven, till he knew that the most high God bare rule over the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it, whomsoever he pleaseth.

22 And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all these things,

23 But hast lifted thyself up against the Lord of heaven, and they have brought the vessels of his House before thee, and thou and thy princes, thy wives and thy concubines have drunk wine in them, and thou hast praised the gods of silver and gold, of brass, iron, wood and stone, which neither see, neither hear, nor understand: and the God in whose hand thy breath is and all thy ways, him hast thou not glorified.

24 [m]Then was the palm of the hand sent from him, and hath written this writing.

25 And this is the writing that he hath written, [n]MENE, MENE, TEKEL UPHARSIN.

26 This is the interpretation of the thing, MENE, God hath numbered thy kingdom, and hath finished it.

27 TEKEL, thou art weighed in the balance, and art found [o]too light.

28 PERES, thy kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.

29 Then at the commandment of Belshazzar they clothed Daniel with purple, 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.

30 The same night was Belshazzar the King of the Chaldeans slain.

31 And Darius [p]of the Medes took the kingdom, being threescore and two years old.


  1. Daniel 5:1 Daniel reciteth this history of king Belshazzar, Evil-merodach’s son, to show God’s judgments against the wicked for the deliverance of his Church: and how the prophecy of Jeremiah was true, that they should be delivered after seventy years.
  2. Daniel 5:1 The kings of the East parts then used to sit alone commonly, and disdained that any should sit in their company: and now to show his power, and how little he set by his enemy, which then besieged Babylon, he made a solemn banquet, and used excess in their company, which is meant here by drinking wine: thus the wicked are most dissolute and negligent, when their destruction is at hand.
  3. Daniel 5:2 Or, overcome with wine.
  4. Daniel 5:2 Meaning, his grandfather.
  5. Daniel 5:4 In contempt of the true God, they praise their idols, not that they thought that the gold or silver were gods, but that there was a certain virtue and power in them to do them good, which is also the opinion of all idolaters.
  6. Daniel 5:5 That it might the better be seen.
  7. Daniel 5:6 So he that before contemned God, was moved by this sight to tremble for fear of God’s judgments.
  8. Daniel 5:7 Thus the wicked in their troubles seek many means, who draw them from God, because they seek not to him who is the only comfort in all afflictions.
  9. Daniel 5:10 To wit, his grandmother Nebuchadnezzar’s wife, which for her age was not before at the feast, but came thither when she heard of these strange news.
  10. Daniel 5:11 Read Dan. 4:6, and this declareth that both this name was odious unto him, and also he did not use these vile practices, because he was not among them when all were called.
  11. Daniel 5:14 For the idolaters thought that the Angels had power as God, and therefore had them in like estimation, as they had God, thinking that the spirit of prophecy and understanding came of them.
  12. Daniel 5:18 Before he read the writing, he declareth to the king his great ingratitude toward God, who could not be moved to give him the glory, considering his wonderful work toward his grandfather, and so showeth that he doth not sin of ignorance but of malice.
  13. Daniel 5:24 After that God had so long time deferred his anger, and patiently waited for thine amendment.
  14. Daniel 5:25 This word is twice written for the certainty of the thing: showing that God had most surely counted: signifying also that God hath appointed a term for all kingdoms, and that a miserable end shall come on all that raise themselves against him.
  15. Daniel 5:27 Or, wanting.
  16. Daniel 5:31 Cyrus his son-in-law gave him this title of honor, although Cyrus in effect had the dominion.

The Writing on the Wall

King Belshazzar(A) gave a great banquet(B) for a thousand of his nobles(C) and drank wine with them. While Belshazzar was drinking(D) his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets(E) that Nebuchadnezzar his father[a] had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines(F) might drink from them.(G) So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. As they drank the wine, they praised the gods(H) of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.(I)

Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale(J) and he was so frightened(K) that his legs became weak(L) and his knees were knocking.(M)

The king summoned the enchanters,(N) astrologers[b](O) and diviners.(P) Then he said to these wise(Q) men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck,(R) and he will be made the third(S) highest ruler in the kingdom.”(T)

Then all the king’s wise men(U) came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king what it meant.(V) So King Belshazzar became even more terrified(W) and his face grew more pale. His nobles were baffled.

10 The queen,[c] hearing the voices of the king and his nobles, came into the banquet hall. “May the king live forever!”(X) she said. “Don’t be alarmed! Don’t look so pale! 11 There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods(Y) in him. In the time of your father he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom(Z) like that of the gods.(AA) Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners.(AB) 12 He did this because Daniel, whom the king called Belteshazzar,(AC) was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles(AD) and solve difficult problems.(AE) Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means.(AF)

13 So Daniel was brought before the king, and the king said to him, “Are you Daniel, one of the exiles my father the king brought from Judah?(AG) 14 I have heard that the spirit of the gods(AH) is in you and that you have insight, intelligence and outstanding wisdom.(AI) 15 The wise men and enchanters were brought before me to read this writing and tell me what it means, but they could not explain it.(AJ) 16 Now I have heard that you are able to give interpretations and to solve difficult problems.(AK) If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around your neck,(AL) and you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”(AM)

17 Then Daniel answered the king, “You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else.(AN) Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means.

18 “Your Majesty, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar(AO) sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor.(AP) 19 Because of the high position he gave him, all the nations and peoples of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the king wanted to put to death, he put to death;(AQ) those he wanted to spare, he spared; those he wanted to promote, he promoted; and those he wanted to humble, he humbled.(AR) 20 But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride,(AS) he was deposed from his royal throne(AT) and stripped(AU) of his glory.(AV) 21 He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like the ox; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign(AW) over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes.(AX)

22 “But you, Belshazzar, his son,[d] have not humbled(AY) yourself, though you knew all this. 23 Instead, you have set yourself up against(AZ) the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives(BA) and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand.(BB) But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life(BC) and all your ways.(BD) 24 Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription.

25 “This is the inscription that was written:

mene, mene, tekel, parsin

26 “Here is what these words mean:

Mene[e]: God has numbered the days(BE) of your reign and brought it to an end.(BF)

27 Tekel[f]: You have been weighed on the scales(BG) and found wanting.(BH)

28 Peres[g]: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes(BI) and Persians.”(BJ)

29 Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck,(BK) and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom.(BL)

30 That very night Belshazzar,(BM) king(BN) of the Babylonians,[h] was slain,(BO) 31 and Darius(BP) the Mede(BQ) took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two.[i]


  1. Daniel 5:2 Or ancestor; or predecessor; also in verses 11, 13 and 18
  2. Daniel 5:7 Or Chaldeans; also in verse 11
  3. Daniel 5:10 Or queen mother
  4. Daniel 5:22 Or descendant; or successor
  5. Daniel 5:26 Mene can mean numbered or mina (a unit of money).
  6. Daniel 5:27 Tekel can mean weighed or shekel.
  7. Daniel 5:28 Peres (the singular of Parsin) can mean divided or Persia or a half mina or a half shekel.
  8. Daniel 5:30 Or Chaldeans
  9. Daniel 5:31 In Aramaic texts this verse (5:31) is numbered 6:1.