Daniel chapters 5 and 6, show the fall of the Babylonian empire under King Belshazzar and rise of the Medo-Persian Empire under Darius the Mede and after him Cyrus the Persian.
It would appear that since the death of Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel had been relegated to a position of lesser influence. But now, here in chapter 5, while everybody panicked concerning some mysterious handwriting which appeared on the wall where the revelries of Belshazzar were taking place, the Queen, possibly Belshazzars mother, remembered the divinely gifted Daniel, who was summoned to foretell the imminent first stage in the collapse of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream-image – the fall of the golden head, Babylon, of which Daniel would now be witness to.
During that evenings debauchery, Belshazzar and his nobles blasphemously drink from sacred Jewish temple vessels, offering praise to inanimate gods, until a hand mysteriously appears and writes upon the wall of the palace – Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin.
Daniel was summoned to interpret the message. Despite the fact that in speaking to Belshazzar Daniel knew he was addressing another ruthless and arrogant autocrat, Daniel did not shrink from delivering his message of reproof and doom. After reminding Belshazzar of the forgotten lesson learned by Nebuchadnezzar, he says, “You his son Belshazzar. have not humbled your heart.” (v 22). “You took the Temple vessels and used them to praise gods of silver and gold, copper, iron, wood and stone that do not see or hear or know anything, but you gave no honor to God, in Whose hands are your soul and all your ways” (v 23).
Mene, Mene – God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
Tekel – You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
Upharsin – Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.
The days of Babylonian supremacy had been numbered and were now complete. Belshazzar had been weighed in the scales and found wanting, and the Babylonian empire therefore broke in pieces as the ascendant star of Medea rose over the world. That very night Belshazzar was slain and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom.
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