King Belshazzar gave a big dinner. He invited a thousand of his nobles to it. He drank wine with them.
While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to his servants. He commanded them to bring in some gold and silver cups. They were the cups his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem. Belshazzar had them brought in so everyone could drink from them. That included the king himself, his nobles, his wives and his concubines.
So the servants brought in the gold cups that had been taken from God's temple in Jerusalem. The king and his nobles drank from them. So did his wives and concubines.
As they drank the wine, they praised their gods. The statues of those gods were made out of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood or stone.
Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared. They wrote something on the plaster of the palace wall. It happened near the lampstand. The king watched the hand as it wrote.
His face turned pale. He became so afraid that his knees knocked together. His legs couldn't hold him up any longer.
The king sent for those who try to figure things out by using magic. He also sent for those who study the heavens. All of them were wise men in Babylon. He ordered that they be brought to him. He said to them, "I want one of you to read this writing and tell me what it means. If you do, you will be dressed in purple clothes. A gold chain will be put around your neck. And you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom."
Then all of the king's wise men came in. But they couldn't read the writing. They couldn't tell him what it meant.
So King Belshazzar became even more terrified. His face grew more pale. And his nobles were bewildered.
The queen heard the king and his nobles talking. So she came into the dining hall. "King Belshazzar, may you live forever!" she said. "Don't be afraid! Don't look so pale!
I know a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. He has understanding and wisdom and good sense just like the gods. That was discovered when your father Nebuchadnezzar was king. Nebuchadnezzar appointed him chief of those who tried to figure things out by using magic. He also put him in charge of those who studied the heavens.
"The man's name is Daniel. Your father called him Belteshazzar. He has a clever mind and knowledge and understanding. He is also able to tell what dreams mean. He can explain riddles and solve hard problems. Send for him. He'll tell you what the writing means."
So Daniel was brought to the king. The king said to him, "Are you Daniel? Are you one of the prisoners my father the king brought here from Judah?
I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you. I've also heard that you have understanding and good sense and special wisdom.
"The wise men and those who practice magic were brought to me. They were asked to read this writing and tell me what it means. But they couldn't.
"I have heard that you are able to explain things and solve hard problems. I hope you can read this writing and tell me what it means. If you can, you will be dressed in purple clothes. A gold chain will be put around your neck. And you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom."
Then Daniel answered the king. He said, "You can keep your gifts for yourself. You can give your rewards to someone else. But I will read the writing for you. I'll tell you what it means.
"King Belshazzar, the Most High God was good to your father Nebuchadnezzar. He gave him authority and greatness and glory and honor.
God gave him a high position. Then all of the people from every nation and language became afraid of the king. He put to death anyone he wanted to. He spared anyone he wanted to spare. He gave high positions to anyone he wanted to. And he brought down anyone he wanted to bring down.
"But his heart became very stubborn and proud. So he was removed from his royal throne. His glory was stripped away from him.
He was driven away from people. He was given the mind of an animal. He lived like the wild donkeys. He ate grass just as cattle do. His body became wet with the dew of heaven. He stayed that way until he recognized that the Most High God rules over all of the kingdoms of men. He puts anyone he wants to in charge of them.
"But you knew all of that, Belshazzar. After all, you are Nebuchadnezzar's son. In spite of that, you are still proud.
You have taken your stand against the Lord of heaven. You had your servants bring cups from his temple to you. You and your nobles drank wine from them. So did your wives and concubines. You praised your gods. The statues of those gods are made out of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood or stone. They can't see or hear or understand anything. But you didn't honor the God who holds in his hand your very life and everything you do.
So he sent the hand that wrote on the wall.
"Here is what was written. MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN
"And here is what those words mean. Mene" means that God has limited the time of your rule. He has brought it to an end.
Tekel" means that you have been weighed on scales. And you haven't measured up to God's standard.
Peres" means that your authority over your kingdom will be taken away from you. It will be given to the Medes and Persians."
Then Belshazzar commanded his servants to dress Daniel in purple clothes. So they did. They put a gold chain around his neck. And he was made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.
That very night Belshazzar, the king of Babylonia, was killed.
His kingdom was given to Darius the Mede. Darius was 62 years old.