The Writing on the Wall

King Belshazzar gave a big banquet for a thousand royal guests and drank wine with them. As Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring the gold and silver cups that his ancestor Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem. This was so the king, his royal guests, his wives, and his slave women could drink from those cups. So they brought the gold cups that had been taken from the Temple of God in Jerusalem. And the king and his royal guests, his wives, and his slave women drank from them. As they were drinking, they praised their gods, which were made from gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.

Suddenly the fingers of a person’s hand appeared and began writing on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote.

King Belshazzar was very frightened. His face turned white, his knees knocked together, and he could not stand up because his legs were too weak. The king called for the magicians, wise men, and wizards of Babylon and said to them, “Anyone who can read this writing and explain it will receive purple clothes fit for a king and a gold chain around his neck. And I will make that person the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”

Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king what it meant. King Belshazzar became even more afraid, and his face became even whiter. His royal guests were confused.

10 Then the king’s mother, who had heard the voices of the king and his royal guests, came into the banquet room. She said, “O king, live forever! Don’t be afraid or let your face be white with fear! 11 There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father, this man showed understanding, knowledge, and wisdom like the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, put this man in charge of all the wise men, fortune-tellers, magicians, and wizards. 12 The man I am talking about is named Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. He was very wise and had knowledge and understanding. He could explain dreams and secrets and could answer very hard problems. Call for Daniel. He will tell you what the writing on the wall means.”

13 So they brought Daniel to the king, and the king asked, “Is your name Daniel? Are you one of the captives my father the king brought from Judah? 14 I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that you are very wise and have knowledge and extraordinary understanding. 15 The wise men and magicians were brought to me to read this writing and to explain what it means, but they could not explain it. 16 I have heard that you are able to explain what things mean and can find the answers to hard problems. Read this writing on the wall and explain it to me. If you can, I will give you purple clothes fit for a king and a gold chain to wear around your neck. And you will become the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”

17 Then Daniel answered the king, “You may keep your gifts for yourself, or you may give those rewards to someone else. But I will read the writing on the wall for you and will explain to you what it means.

18 “O king, the Most High God made your father Nebuchadnezzar a great, important, and powerful king. 19 Because God made him important, all the people, nations, and those who spoke every language were very frightened of Nebuchadnezzar. If he wanted someone to die, he killed that person. If he wanted someone to live, he let that person live. Those he wanted to promote, he promoted. Those he wanted to be less important, he made less important.

20 “But Nebuchadnezzar became too proud and stubborn, so he was taken off his royal throne. His glory was taken away. 21 He was forced away from people, and his mind became like the mind of an animal. He lived with the wild donkeys and was fed grass like an ox and became wet with dew. These things happened to him until he learned his lesson: The Most High God rules over every kingdom on earth, and he sets anyone he chooses over those kingdoms.

22 “Belshazzar, you already knew these things, because you are a descendant of Nebuchadnezzar. Still you have not been sorry for what you have done. 23 Instead, you have set yourself against the Lord of heaven. You ordered the drinking cups from the Temple of the Lord to be brought to you. Then you and your royal guests, your wives, and your slave women drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone that are not really gods; they cannot see or hear or understand anything. You did not honor God, who has power over your life and everything you do. 24 So God sent the hand that wrote on the wall.

25 “These are the words that were written on the wall: ‘Mene, mene, tekel, and parsin.’

26 “This is what the words mean: Mene: God has counted the days until your kingdom will end. 27 Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found not good enough. 28 Parsin: Your kingdom is being divided and will be given to the Medes and the Persians.”

29 Then Belshazzar gave an order for Daniel to be dressed in purple clothes and to have a gold chain put around his neck. And it was announced that Daniel was the third highest ruler in the kingdom. 30 That very same night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonian people, was killed. 31 So Darius the Mede became the new king when he was sixty-two years old.