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Daniel 5 Good News Translation (GNT)

Belshazzar's Banquet

One night King Belshazzar invited a thousand noblemen to a great banquet, and they drank wine together. While they were drinking, Belshazzar gave orders to bring in the gold and silver cups and bowls which his father[a] Nebuchadnezzar had carried off from the Temple in Jerusalem. The king sent for them so that he, his noblemen, his wives, and his concubines could drink out of them. At once the gold cups and bowls were brought in, and they all drank wine out of them and praised gods made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.

Suddenly a human hand appeared and began writing on the plaster wall of the palace, where the light from the lamps was shining most brightly. And the king saw the hand as it was writing. He turned pale and was so frightened that his knees began to shake. He shouted for someone to bring in the magicians, wizards, and astrologers. When they came in, the king said to them, “Anyone who can read this writing and tell me what it means will be dressed in robes of royal purple, wear a gold chain of honor around his neck, and be the third in power in the kingdom.” The royal advisers came forward, but none of them could read the writing or tell the king what it meant. In his distress King Belshazzar grew even paler, and his noblemen had no idea what to do.

10 The queen mother heard the noise made by the king and his noblemen and entered the banquet hall. She said, “May Your Majesty live forever! Please do not be so disturbed and look so pale. 11 There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods[b] in him. When your father was king, this man showed good sense, knowledge, and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods. And King Nebuchadnezzar, your father,[c] made him chief of the fortunetellers, magicians, wizards, and astrologers. 12 He has unusual ability and is wise and skillful in interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining mysteries; so send for this man Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, and he will tell you what all this means.”

Daniel Explains the Writing

13 Daniel was brought at once into the king's presence, and the king said to him, “Are you Daniel, that Jewish exile whom my father the king brought here from Judah? 14 I have heard that the spirit of the holy gods[d] is in you and that you are skillful and have knowledge and wisdom. 15 The advisers and magicians were brought in to read this writing and tell me what it means, but they could not discover the meaning. 16 Now I have heard that you can find hidden meanings and explain mysteries. If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be dressed in robes of royal purple, wear a gold chain of honor around your neck, and be the third in power in the kingdom.”

17 Daniel replied, “Keep your gifts for yourself or give them to someone else. I will read for Your Majesty what has been written and tell you what it means.

18 “The Supreme God made your father Nebuchadnezzar a great king and gave him dignity and majesty. 19 He was so great that people of all nations, races, and languages were afraid of him and trembled. If he wanted to kill someone, he did; if he wanted to keep someone alive, he did. He honored or disgraced anyone he wanted to. 20 But because he became proud, stubborn, and cruel, he was removed from his royal throne and lost his place of honor. 21 He was driven away from human society, and his mind became like that of an animal. He lived with wild donkeys, ate grass like an ox, and slept in the open air with nothing to protect him from the dew. Finally he admitted that the Supreme God controls all human kingdoms and can give them to anyone he chooses.

22 “But you, his son, have not humbled yourself, even though you knew all this. 23 You acted against the Lord of heaven and brought in the cups and bowls taken from his Temple. You, your noblemen, your wives, and your concubines drank wine out of them and praised gods made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone—gods that cannot see or hear and that do not know anything. But you did not honor the God who determines whether you live or die and who controls everything you do. 24 That is why God has sent the hand to write these words.

25 “This is what was written: ‘Number, number, weight, divisions.’ 26 And this is what it means: number, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; 27 weight, you have been weighed on the scales and found to be too light; 28 divisions, your kingdom is divided up and given to the Medes and Persians.”[e]

29 Immediately Belshazzar ordered his servants to dress Daniel in a robe of royal purple and to hang a gold chain of honor around his neck. And he made him the third in power in the kingdom. 30 That same night Belshazzar, the king of Babylonia, was killed; 31 and Darius the Mede, who was then sixty-two years old, seized the royal power.

Footnotes:

  1. Daniel 5:2 There were several kings of Babylonia between Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. Father may mean predecessor, or the name Nebuchadnezzar may be used for Nabonidus.
  2. Daniel 5:11 gods; or God.
  3. Daniel 5:11 your father (see 5.2).
  4. Daniel 5:14 gods; or God.
  5. Daniel 5:28 In Aramaic the word for “Persians” sounds like the word for “division.”
Good News Translation (GNT)

Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

Daniel 5 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Belshazzar’s Feast

King Belshazzar made a great festival for a thousand of his lords, and he was drinking wine in the presence of the thousand.

Under the influence of the wine, Belshazzar commanded that they bring in the vessels of gold and silver that his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. So they brought in the vessels of gold and silver[a] that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank the wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.

The Writing on the Wall

Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and began writing on the plaster of the wall of the royal palace, next to the lampstand. The king was watching the hand as it wrote. Then the king’s face turned pale, and his thoughts terrified him. His limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together. The king cried aloud to bring in the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the diviners; and the king said to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever can read this writing and tell me its interpretation shall be clothed in purple, have a chain of gold around his neck, and rank third in the kingdom.” Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king the interpretation. Then King Belshazzar became greatly terrified and his face turned pale, and his lords were perplexed.

10 The queen, when she heard the discussion of the king and his lords, came into the banqueting hall. The queen said, “O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts terrify you or your face grow pale. 11 There is a man in your kingdom who is endowed with a spirit of the holy gods.[b] In the days of your father he was found to have enlightenment, understanding, and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and diviners,[c] 12 because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.”

The Writing on the Wall Interpreted

13 Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king said to Daniel, “So you are Daniel, one of the exiles of Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah? 14 I have heard of you that a spirit of the gods[d] is in you, and that enlightenment, understanding, and excellent wisdom are found in you. 15 Now the wise men, the enchanters, have been brought in before me to read this writing and tell me its interpretation, but they were not able to give the interpretation of the matter. 16 But I have heard that you can give interpretations and solve problems. Now if you are able to read the writing and tell me its interpretation, you shall be clothed in purple, have a chain of gold around your neck, and rank third in the kingdom.”

17 Then Daniel answered in the presence of the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, or give your rewards to someone else! Nevertheless I will read the writing to the king and let him know the interpretation. 18 O king, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar kingship, greatness, glory, and majesty. 19 And because of the greatness that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. He killed those he wanted to kill, kept alive those he wanted to keep alive, honored those he wanted to honor, and degraded those he wanted to degrade. 20 But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he acted proudly, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and his glory was stripped from him. 21 He was driven from human society, and his mind was made like that of an animal. His dwelling was with the wild asses, he was fed grass like oxen, and his body was bathed with the dew of heaven, until he learned that the Most High God has sovereignty over the kingdom of mortals, and sets over it whomever he will. 22 And you, Belshazzar his son, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this! 23 You have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven! The vessels of his temple have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines have been drinking wine from them. You have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know; but the God in whose power is your very breath, and to whom belong all your ways, you have not honored.

24 “So from his presence the hand was sent and this writing was inscribed. 25 And this is the writing that was inscribed: mene, mene, tekel, and parsin. 26 This is the interpretation of the matter: mene, God has numbered the days of[e] your kingdom and brought it to an end; 27 tekel, you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting; 28 peres,[f] your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

29 Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed in purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made concerning him that he should rank third in the kingdom.

30 That very night Belshazzar, the Chaldean king, was killed. 31 [g] And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.

Footnotes:

  1. Daniel 5:3 Theodotion Vg: Aram lacks and silver
  2. Daniel 5:11 Or a holy, divine spirit
  3. Daniel 5:11 Aram adds the king your father
  4. Daniel 5:14 Or a divine spirit
  5. Daniel 5:26 Aram lacks the days of
  6. Daniel 5:28 The singular of Parsin
  7. Daniel 5:31 Ch 6.1 in Aram
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Daniel 5 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Belshatzar the king gave a great banquet for a thousand of his lords, and in the presence of the thousand he was drinking wine. While tasting the wine, Belshatzar ordered that the gold and silver vessels which his father N’vukhadnetzar had removed from the temple in Yerushalayim be brought; so that the king, his lords, his wives and his concubines could drink from them. So they brought the gold vessels which had been removed from the sanctuary of the house of God in Yerushalayim; and the king, his lords, his wives and his concubines drank from them. They drank their wine and praised their gods made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone.

Suddenly, the fingers of a human hand appeared and began writing on the plaster of the palace wall by the lampstand. When the king saw the palm of the hand that was writing, the king’s face took on a different look. As frightening thoughts rose up within him, his hip joints gave way and his knees started knocking together. The king cried out to bring in the exorcists, astrologers and diviners. The king said to the sages of Bavel, “Whoever can read this inscription and tell me what it means will be dressed in royal purple, wear a gold chain around his neck and be one of the three men ruling the kingdom.” But although all the king’s sages came in, none could read the inscription or tell the king what it meant. Then King Belshatzar became terrified; his face turned pale, and his lords were thrown into confusion.

10 At this point the queen mother, because of what the king and his lords were saying, entered the banquet hall. The queen mother said, “May the king live forever! Don’t be scared by your thoughts or let your face be so pale. 11 There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father, he was found to have light, discernment and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods. King N’vukhadnetzar your father — the king, your father — made him chief of the magicians, exorcists, astrologers and diviners; 12 because he was found to have an extraordinary spirit, knowledge, discernment, and the ability to interpret dreams, unlock mysteries and solve knotty problems. He is called Dani’el, but the king gave him the name Belt’shatzar. Now have Dani’el summoned, and he will tell you what this means.”

13 Dani’el was brought into the king’s presence. The king said to Dani’el, “Are you Dani’el, one of the exiles from Y’hudah whom the king my father brought out of Y’hudah? 14 I’ve heard about you that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that you have been found to have light, discernment and extraordinary wisdom. 15 Now the sages, the exorcists, were brought in to me so that they could read this inscription and tell me what it means, but they couldn’t interpret it for me. 16 However, I’ve heard that you can give interpretations and solve knotty problems. Now if you can read the inscription and tell me what it means, you will be dressed in royal purple, wear a gold chain around your neck and be one of the three men ruling the kingdom.”

17 Dani’el answered the king, “Keep your gifts, and give your rewards to someone else. However, I will read the inscription to the king and tell him what it means. 18 Your majesty, the Most High God gave N’vukhadnetzar your father the kingdom, as well as greatness, glory and majesty. 19 Because of the greatness he gave him, all the peoples, nations and languages trembled with fear before him. Anyone he wanted to, he put to death; anyone he wanted to, he kept alive; anyone he wanted to, he advanced; and anyone he wanted to, he humbled. 20 But when he grew proud and his spirit became hard, he began treating people arrogantly, so he was deposed from his royal throne, and his glory was taken away from him. 21 He was driven from human society, his heart was made like that of an animal, he lived with the wild donkeys, he was fed with grass like an ox, and his body was drenched with dew from the sky; until he learned that the Most High God rules in the human kingdom and sets up over it whomever he pleases. 22 But, Belshatzar, you, his son, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this. 23 Instead, you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven by having them bring you the vessels from his house; and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them; then you offered praise to your gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood and stone, which can’t see, hear or know anything. Meanwhile, God, who holds your very breath in his hands, and to whom belongs everything you do, you have not glorified. 24 This is why he sent the hand to write this inscription; 25 and the inscription says, ‘M’ne! M’ne! T’kel ufarsin.’ [a] 26 This is what it means: ‘M’ne!’ — God has counted up your kingdom and brought it to an end. 27 T’kel’ — you are weighed on the balance-scale and come up short. 28 P’res’ — your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

29 Then Belshatzar gave the order; and they clothed Dani’el in royal purple, put a gold chain around his neck and proclaimed of him that he was to be one of the three men ruling the kingdom.

30 That very night Belshatzar, the king of the Kasdim, was killed.

Footnotes:

  1. Daniel 5:25 M’ne — a maneh was a coin; Aramaic mena means “to count.” T’kel is Aramaic for shekel, a unit of weight; Aramaic tekilta means “you are weighed.” P’res (an Aramaic noun, plural parsin), is half a maneh; p’ris means “cut up, divided”; Paras is Persia. (The “f” in ufarsin is the Aramaic letter peh, sometimes pronounced “p” and sometimes, “f.”)
Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

Daniel 5 The Message (MSG)

The Writing of a Disembodied Hand

1-4 King Belshazzar held a great feast for his one thousand nobles. The wine flowed freely. Belshazzar, heady with the wine, ordered that the gold and silver chalices his father Nebuchadnezzar had stolen from God’s Temple of Jerusalem be brought in so that he and his nobles, his wives and concubines, could drink from them. When the gold and silver chalices were brought in, the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines, drank wine from them. They drank the wine and drunkenly praised their gods made of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.

5-7 At that very moment, the fingers of a human hand appeared and began writing on the lamp-illumined, whitewashed wall of the palace. When the king saw the disembodied hand writing away, he went white as a ghost, scared out of his wits. His legs went limp and his knees knocked. He yelled out for the enchanters, the fortunetellers, and the diviners to come. He told these Babylonian magi, “Anyone who can read this writing on the wall and tell me what it means will be famous and rich—purple robe, the great gold chain—and be third-in-command in the kingdom.”

8-9 One after the other they tried, but could make no sense of it. They could neither read what was written nor interpret it to the king. So now the king was really frightened. All the blood drained from his face. The nobles were in a panic.

10-12 The queen heard of the hysteria among the king and his nobles and came to the banquet hall. She said, “Long live the king! Don’t be upset. Don’t sit around looking like ghosts. There is a man in your kingdom who is full of the divine Holy Spirit. During your father’s time he was well known for his intellectual brilliance and spiritual wisdom. He was so good that your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, made him the head of all the magicians, enchanters, fortunetellers, and diviners. There was no one quite like him. He could do anything—interpret dreams, solve mysteries, explain puzzles. His name is Daniel, but he was renamed Belteshazzar by the king. Have Daniel called in. He’ll tell you what is going on here.”

13-16 So Daniel was called in. The king asked him, “Are you the Daniel who was one of the Jewish exiles my father brought here from Judah? I’ve heard about you—that you’re full of the Holy Spirit, that you’ve got a brilliant mind, that you are incredibly wise. The wise men and enchanters were brought in here to read this writing on the wall and interpret it for me. They couldn’t figure it out—not a word, not a syllable. But I’ve heard that you interpret dreams and solve mysteries. So—if you can read the writing and interpret it for me, you’ll be rich and famous—a purple robe, the great gold chain around your neck—and third-in-command in the kingdom.”

17 Daniel answered the king, “You can keep your gifts, or give them to someone else. But I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means.

18-21 “Listen, O king! The High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar a great kingdom and a glorious reputation. Because God made him so famous, people from everywhere, whatever their race, color, and creed, were totally intimidated by him. He killed or spared people on whim. He promoted or humiliated people capriciously. He developed a big head and a hard spirit. Then God knocked him off his high horse and stripped him of his fame. He was thrown out of human company, lost his mind, and lived like a wild animal. He ate grass like an ox and was soaked by heaven’s dew until he learned his lesson: that the High God rules human kingdoms and puts anyone he wants in charge.

22-23 “You are his son and have known all this, yet you’re as arrogant as he ever was. Look at you, setting yourself up in competition against the Master of heaven! You had the sacred chalices from his Temple brought into your drunken party so that you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines, could drink from them. You used the sacred chalices to toast your gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone—blind, deaf, and imbecile gods. But you treat with contempt the living God who holds your entire life from birth to death in his hand.

24-26 “God sent the hand that wrote on the wall, and this is what is written: mene, teqel, and peres. This is what the words mean:

Mene: God has numbered the days of your rule and they don’t add up.

27 Teqel: You have been weighed on the scales and you don’t weigh much.

28 Peres: Your kingdom has been divided up and handed over to the Medes and Persians.”

29 Belshazzar did what he had promised. He robed Daniel in purple, draped the great gold chain around his neck, and promoted him to third-in-charge in the kingdom.

30-31 That same night the Babylonian king Belshazzar was murdered. Darius the Mede was sixty-two years old when he succeeded him as king.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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