CHAPTER 5 | Verses 17 - 31

Verse 17: “Daniel then answered, and he said before the king: ‘Your presents keep for yourself, your gifts give to another; but the inscription I will read for the king, and its interpretation I will tell him.’”

Your presents keep: Daniel is going to do what he has been asked to do, but he wants nothing from it. Daniel is not concerned about what he can get from this world. He knows that great prestige and honour, in the kingdoms of men, has no lasting significance. Daniel is also not concerned with having a position of authority under a pagan king.

The inscription I will read: Daniel knows that this inscription is from God. As a faithful servant of God, he wants to make known the revelation of God.

Verse 18: “O King, the kingdom, the greatness, the honour and the glory is given by the Most High God. It was given to Nebuchadnezzar your father.”

It was given to Nebuchadnezzar: Daniel wants Belshazzar to know that he is in this position because his father was placed there by the God of Israel – not by the gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.

Verse 19: “And because of the greatness that was given to him all the peoples, nations and languages shook and feared him. Whom he wanted, he was able to put to death; whom he wanted, he was able to keep alive; whom he wanted to exalt he could exalt, and whom he wanted to make low he could make low.”

Shook and feared: Nebuchadnezzar was so exalted that all the people acknowledged his greatness.

Whom he wanted: Nebuchadnezzar had all of this authority and power.

Verse 20: “But when his heart was exalted, and his spirit was mighty for evil, he was brought down from the throne of his kingdom, and his glory was removed from him.”

Evil: Nebuchadnezzar used the honour and provision he had received, from God, against the purposes of God. It had had consequences.

Note: Belshazzar (as confirmed in Daniel 5:22) knew what had happened to Nebuchadnezzar.

Nebuchadnezzar had been a recipient of God’s grace, given another chance, in order that his life could be a testimony to others, and that others could learn from him and not make the same mistakes. Although Belshazzar had been a recipient of that revelation he rebelled against it.

Verse 21: “And he was cast forth from humanity. His heart was likened to that of a heart of a beast, and with the wild donkeys was his dwelling place. Grass they fed to him as an ox, and from the dew of the heavens he was made wet, until he recognized that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and to whom He wants He establishes upon it.”

The Most High God rules: The truth that God is Sovereign has been emphasised over and over again. The implication of the text is that this man, Belshazzar, would have witnessed all of this but he did not respond to the testimony of God.

Verse 22: “And you, Belshazzar, are his son. You have not humbled your heart even though you have known all of this.”

You have known: Nebuchadnezzar’s testimony made no difference in Belshazzar’s life. It did not lead him to humility.

Verse 23: “You have exalted yourself over the Lord of heaven. The vessels of His house have been brought before you, and you and your officials, your wives, and your concubines, have drank from them wine. And you have given praise to the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood, and stone, that are not able to see or hear or know; and the God who your breath is in His hand – and all of your ways – you have not given glory.”

Lord of heaven: The master, the authority of heaven.

His house: The house of God, the temple.

 Silver and gold: People worship things that have no true, lasting, authority.

Given glory: Honoured

Verse 24: “Then a portion of a hand was sent before you, and inscribed this inscription.”

Verse 25: “And this is what is inscribed: ‘MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN.’”

MENE, MENE…: In order to show that Daniel knew exactly what the words meant he was able to enunciate those letters – which the other enchanters, magicians, wizards, Chaldeans, and wise men of Babylon were not able to do.

Verse 26: “This is the interpretation of the matter: MENE: God has appointed the days of your kingdom and He has found them to be coming to an end.”

Verse 27: “TEKEL: you have been weighed in the balances, and you have been found to be lacking.”

Verse 28: “PERES: Your kingdom will be taken from you and given to the Medes and the Persians.”

Your kingdom will be taken: God is saying that there is a change coming. Nebuchadnezzar had had his kingdom restored to him. Belshazzar’s kingdom was not going to be restored to him. It was going to be completely taken away from him and given to another.

Medes and the Persians: A new empire


Verse 29: “Then Belshazzar commanded that Daniel be dressed in royal purple and that a golden chain be placed around his neck, and he proclaimed that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.”

Belshazzar commanded: Belshazzar honoured his word. He knew, within himself, that what Daniel had revealed to him about this writing was true. He had witnessed what had gone on during his father’s lifetime. Although Belshazzar knew the truth he was not displaying it. Are we faithfully carrying out what God has revealed to us?

Verse 30: “That same night Belshazzar was killed, the king of the Chaldeans.

Night: This world is in darkness. It is absent of the revelation of God. Many people do not want the Kingdom of God as they like darkness. They do not want the righteous changes that God wants to bring about in their lives and in the world. Belshazzar, although he knew the truth, refused to respond in obedience to God. As a result, in darkness, he was cut down.

Belshazzar was killed: In one night the empire changed. When we rebel against the things that God has made known to us it will bring about an end. Belshazzar found this out the hard way.

Chaldeans: A synonym for Babylon.

Verse 31: “And Darius the Mede was about sixty-two years old when he began to reign.”

Note: This is the last verse of chapter 5 in the English Bible, but is chapter 6:1 in the Hebrew Bible.

Darius: (??????? ???? ?? ?? (Literally pronounced ‘Dar ya vesh’

The Mede: This empire is going to have a vastly different character to the Babylonian empire.

There were times within the Mede and Persian empire when things went very well for the Jewish people (Cyrus was used by God to bring the people back from exile to the land of Judah)

Sixty-two years old: This is an old age for someone to begin to be king. This is speaking about someone who has maturity, someone who has experienced and learned many things in his life.

Note: Daniel made it through this transition of empires, and God used him to become a person of great influence in the new Empire. God had His hand on Daniel, an exile from Judah, for the purpose of bringing blessing to the nations he found himself in. Like Daniel, God is going to use Israel in a mighty way in the last days. In doing so more Gentiles will come to faith, and then His Kingdom will be established.


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