Daniel 5:18-28

18 Your Majesty, the Most High God gave sovereignty, majesty, glory, and honor to your predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar.
19 He made him so great that people of all races and nations and languages trembled before him in fear. He killed those he wanted to kill and spared those he wanted to spare. He honored those he wanted to honor and disgraced those he wanted to disgrace.
20 But when his heart and mind were puffed up with arrogance, he was brought down from his royal throne and stripped of his glory.
21 He was driven from human society. He was given the mind of a wild animal, and he lived among the wild donkeys. He ate grass like a cow, and he was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he learned that the Most High God rules over the kingdoms of the world and appoints anyone he desires to rule over them.
22 “You are his successor, O Belshazzar, and you knew all this, yet you have not humbled yourself.
23 For you have proudly defied the Lord of heaven and have had these cups from his Temple brought before you. You and your nobles and your wives and concubines have been drinking wine from them while praising gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone—gods that neither see nor hear nor know anything at all. But you have not honored the God who gives you the breath of life and controls your destiny!
24 So God has sent this hand to write this message.
25 “This is the message that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, and PARSIN .
26 This is what these words mean: means ‘numbered’—God has numbered the days of your reign and has brought it to an end.
27 means ‘weighed’—you have been weighed on the balances and have not measured up.
28 means ‘divided’—your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

Daniel 5:18-28 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 5:18-28 In-Context

16 I am told that you can give interpretations and solve difficult problems. If you can read these words and tell me their meaning, you will be clothed in purple robes of royal honor, and you will have a gold chain placed around your neck. You will become the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”
17 Daniel answered the king, “Keep your gifts or give them to someone else, but I will tell you what the writing means.
18 Your Majesty, the Most High God gave sovereignty, majesty, glory, and honor to your predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar.
19 He made him so great that people of all races and nations and languages trembled before him in fear. He killed those he wanted to kill and spared those he wanted to spare. He honored those he wanted to honor and disgraced those he wanted to disgrace.
20 But when his heart and mind were puffed up with arrogance, he was brought down from his royal throne and stripped of his glory.
21 He was driven from human society. He was given the mind of a wild animal, and he lived among the wild donkeys. He ate grass like a cow, and he was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he learned that the Most High God rules over the kingdoms of the world and appoints anyone he desires to rule over them.
22 “You are his successor, O Belshazzar, and you knew all this, yet you have not humbled yourself.
23 For you have proudly defied the Lord of heaven and have had these cups from his Temple brought before you. You and your nobles and your wives and concubines have been drinking wine from them while praising gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone—gods that neither see nor hear nor know anything at all. But you have not honored the God who gives you the breath of life and controls your destiny!
24 So God has sent this hand to write this message.
25 “This is the message that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, and PARSIN .
26 This is what these words mean: means ‘numbered’—God has numbered the days of your reign and has brought it to an end.
27 means ‘weighed’—you have been weighed on the balances and have not measured up.
28 means ‘divided’—your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
29 Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was dressed in purple robes, a gold chain was hung around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom.
30 That very night Belshazzar, the Babylonian king, was killed.

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Aramaic son.
  • [b]. Aramaic Peres, the singular of Parsin.
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.