Daniel 5:20-31

20 But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory.
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 over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes.
22 “But you, Belshazzar, his son,[a] have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this.
23 Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives 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. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways.
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: Mene[b] : God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
27 Tekel[c] : You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
28 Peres[d] : Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
29 Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom.
30 That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians,[e] was slain,
31 and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two.[f]

Daniel 5:20-31 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO DANIEL 5

This chapter gives an account of a feast made by King Belshazzar, attended with drunkenness, idolatry, and profanation of the vessels taken out of the temple at Jerusalem, Da 5:1-4, and of the displeasure of God, signified by a handwriting on the wall, which terrified the king, and caused him to send in haste for the astrologers to read and interpret it, but they could not, Da 5:5-8, in this distress, which appeared in the countenances of him and his nobles, the queen mother advises him to send for Daniel, of whom she gives a great encomium, Da 5:9-12, upon which he was brought in to the king, and promised a great reward to read and interpret the writing; the reward he slighted, but promised to read and interpret the writing, Da 5:13-17 and after putting him in mind of what had befallen his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar, and charging him with pride, idolatry, and profanation of the vessels of the Lord, Da 5:18-23 reads and interprets the writing to him Da 5:24-28, when he had honour done him, and was preferred in the government, Da 5:29 and the chapter is concluded with an account of the immediate accomplishment of ancient prophecies, and of this handwriting, in the slaying of the king of Babylon, in the dissolution of the Babylonish monarchy, and the possession of it by Darius the Mede, Da 5:30,31.

Daniel 5:20-31 In-Context

18 “Your Majesty, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor.
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; those he wanted to spare, he spared; those he wanted to promote, he promoted; and those he wanted to humble, he humbled.
20 But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory.
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 over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes.
22 “But you, Belshazzar, his son, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this.
23 Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives 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. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways.
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: Mene : God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
27 Tekel : You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
28 Peres : Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
29 Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom.
30 That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain,
31 and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two.

Cross References 25

  • 1. Daniel 4:30
  • 2. Jeremiah 43:10
  • 3. Jeremiah 13:18; S Daniel 4:31
  • 4. S Job 40:12; Isaiah 14:13-15; Ezekiel 31:10-11; Daniel 8:8
  • 5. S Ezekiel 17:24
  • 6. Da 4:16-17,35
  • 7. S Exodus 10:3; 2 Chronicles 33:23
  • 8. S Isaiah 14:13; S Jeremiah 50:29
  • 9. Jeremiah 44:9
  • 10. Psalms 115:4-8; Habakkuk 2:19; Revelation 9:20
  • 11. Job 12:10; Acts 17:28
  • 12. S Job 31:4; S Isaiah 13:11; Jeremiah 10:23; S Jeremiah 48:26
  • 13. Jeremiah 27:7
  • 14. Isaiah 13:6
  • 15. S Job 6:2
  • 16. Psalms 62:9
  • 17. Isaiah 13:17
  • 18. S Jeremiah 27:7; Jeremiah 50:41-43; Daniel 6:28
  • 19. S Genesis 41:42
  • 20. S Daniel 2:6
  • 21. S ver 1
  • 22. Jeremiah 50:35
  • 23. S Isaiah 21:9; S Jeremiah 51:31
  • 24. Jeremiah 50:41; Daniel 6:1; Daniel 9:1; Daniel 11:1
  • 25. S Isaiah 13:3

Footnotes 6

  • [a]. Or "descendant" ; or "successor"
  • [b]. "Mene" can mean "numbered" or "mina" (a unit of money).
  • [c]. "Tekel" can mean "weighed" or "shekel" .
  • [d]. "Peres" (the singular of "Parsin" ) can mean "divided" or "Persia" or "a half mina" or "a half shekel" .
  • [e]. Or "Chaldeans"
  • [f]. In Aramaic texts this verse (5:31) is numbered 6:1.
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