Daniel 5 Bible Commentary

The Geneva Study Bible

(Read all of Daniel 5)
5:1 a Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine b before the thousand.

(a) Daniel recites this history of King Belshazzar, Evilmerodach's son, to show God's judgments against the wicked for the deliverance of his Church, and how the prophecy of Jeremiah was true, that they would be delivered after seventy years.
(b) The kings of the east part then used to commonly sit alone, and disdained that any should sit in their company: and now to show his power, and how little he thought of his enemy, which then besieged Babylon, made a solemn banquet, and used excess in their company, which is meant here by drinking wine: thus the wicked are very lax in morals and negligent, when their destruction is at hand.

5:2 Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his c father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which [was] in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein.

(c) Meaning his grandfather.

5:4 They drank wine, and praised the d gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.

(d) In contempt of the true God they praise their idols, not that they thought that the gold or silver were gods, but that there was a certain strength and power in them to do them good, which is also the opinion of all idolaters.

5:5 In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over e against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.

(e) That it might the better be seen.

5:6 Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his f knees smote one against another.

(f) So he that before condemned God, was moved by this sight to tremble for fear of God's judgments.

5:7 The king cried aloud to bring in g the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. [And] the king spake, and said to the wise [men] of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and [have] a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.

(g) Thus the wicked in their troubles seek many means, which draw them from God, because they do not seek for him who is the only comfort in all afflictions.

5:10 [Now] the h queen, by reason of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet house: [and] the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed:

(h) That is, his grandmother, Nebuchadnezzar's wife, who because of her age was not at the feast before, but came there when she heard of this strange news.

5:11 There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom [is] the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, [I say], thy father, made master of the i magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, [and] soothsayers;

(i) Read (Daniel 4:6); and this declares that both this name was odious to him, and also he did not use these vile practises, because he was not among them when all were called.

5:14 I have even heard of thee, that k the spirit of the gods [is] in thee, and [that] light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee.

(k) For the idolaters thought that the angels had power as God, and therefore held them in the same estimation that they held God, thinking that the spirit of prophecy and understanding came from them.

5:18 O thou king, the most high God gave l Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour:

(l) Before he read the writing, he declares to the king his great ingratitude toward God, who could not be moved to give him the glory, considering God's wonderful work toward his grandfather, and so shows that he does not sin from ignorance but from malice.

5:24 m Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written.

(m) After God had for such a long time deferred his anger, and patiently waited for your repentance.

5:25 And this [is] the writing that was written, n MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.

(n) This word is written twice because of the certainty of the thing, showing that God had most surely decided: it signifies also that God has appointed a term for all kingdoms, and that a miserable end will come on all that raise themselves against him.

5:31 And Darius o the Median took the kingdom, [being] about threescore and two years old.

(o) Cyrus his son-in-law gave him this title of honour, even though Cyrus in effect had the dominion.