New International Version
The Writing on the Wall
5 King Belshazzar(A) gave a great banquet(B) for a thousand of his nobles(C) and drank wine with them. 2 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) 3 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. 4 As they drank the wine, they praised the gods(H) of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.(I)
5 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. 6 His face turned pale(J) and he was so frightened(K) that his legs became weak(L) and his knees were knocking.(M)
7 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)
8 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) 9 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:
- Daniel 5:2 Or ancestor; or predecessor; also in verses 11, 13 and 18
- Daniel 5:7 Or Chaldeans; also in verse 11
- Daniel 5:10 Or queen mother
- Daniel 5:22 Or descendant; or successor
- Daniel 5:26 Mene can mean numbered or mina (a unit of money).
- Daniel 5:27 Tekel can mean weighed or shekel.
- Daniel 5:28 Peres (the singular of Parsin) can mean divided or Persia or a half mina or a half shekel.
- Daniel 5:30 Or Chaldeans
- Daniel 5:31 In Aramaic texts this verse (5:31) is numbered 6:1.
New King James Version
5 Belshazzar the king (A)made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand. 2 While he tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels (B)which his [a]father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. 3 Then they brought the gold (C)vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. 4 They drank wine, (D)and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.
5 (E)In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on 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 changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his (F)knees knocked against each other. 7 (G)The king cried [b]aloud to bring in (H)the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. The king spoke, saying to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing, and tells me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck; (I)and he shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” 8 Now all the king’s wise men came, (J)but they could not read the writing, or make known to the king its interpretation. 9 Then King Belshazzar was greatly (K)troubled, his countenance was changed, and his lords were [c]astonished.
10 The queen, because of the words of the king and his lords, came to the banquet hall. The queen spoke, saying, “O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts trouble you, nor let your countenance change. 11 (L)There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God. And in the days of your [d]father, light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him; and King Nebuchadnezzar your [e]father—your father the king—made him chief of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers. 12 Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and [f]explaining enigmas were found in this Daniel, (M)whom the king named Belteshazzar, now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.”
The Writing on the Wall Explained
13 Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king spoke, and said to Daniel, “Are you that Daniel [g]who is one of the captives from Judah, whom my [h]father the king brought from Judah? 14 I have heard of you, that (N)the [i]Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you. 15 Now (O)the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing and make known to me its interpretation, but they could not give the interpretation of the thing. 16 And I have heard of you, that you can give interpretations and [j]explain enigmas. (P)Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple 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; yet I will read the writing to the king, and make known to him the interpretation. 18 O king, (Q)the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your [k]father a kingdom and majesty, glory and honor. 19 And because of the majesty that He gave him, (R)all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whomever he wished, he (S)executed; whomever he wished, he kept alive; whomever he wished, he set up; and whomever he wished, he put down. 20 (T)But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him. 21 Then he was (U)driven from the sons of men, 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, (V)till he [l]knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses.
22 “But you his son, Belshazzar, (W)have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this. 23 (X)And you have [m]lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the (Y)vessels of [n]His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, (Z)which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand (AA)and owns all your ways, you have not glorified. 24 Then the [o]fingers of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written.
25 “And this is the inscription that was written:
26 This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; 27 TEKEL: (AB)You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; 28 PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the (AC)Medes and (AD)Persians.”[s] 29 Then Belshazzar gave the command, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a chain of gold around his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him (AE)that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
- Daniel 5:2 Or ancestor
- Daniel 5:7 Lit. with strength
- Daniel 5:9 perplexed
- Daniel 5:11 Or ancestor
- Daniel 5:11 Or ancestor
- Daniel 5:12 Lit. untying knots
- Daniel 5:13 Lit. who is of the sons of the captivity
- Daniel 5:13 Or ancestor
- Daniel 5:14 Or spirit of the gods
- Daniel 5:16 Lit. untie knots
- Daniel 5:18 Or ancestor
- Daniel 5:21 Recognized
- Daniel 5:23 Exalted
- Daniel 5:23 The temple
- Daniel 5:24 Lit. palm
- Daniel 5:25 Lit. a mina (50 shekels) from the verb “to number”
- Daniel 5:25 Lit. a shekel from the verb “to weigh”
- Daniel 5:25 Lit. and half-shekels from the verb “to divide”; pl. of Peres, v. 28
- Daniel 5:28 Aram. Paras, consonant with Peres