Daniel Chapter 5: Belshazzar’s Feast, Fall of Babylon to Cyrus

Nov 27th, 2009 | By | Category: Daniel, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Daniel Chapter 5:  Belshazzar’s Feast, Fall of Babylon to Cyrus

Dan. 5:1 Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.

Belshazzar pictures Papacy.

Dan. 5:2 Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his [grand]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.

The attendees at the feast were close associates of the king and thus in the higher echelon of authority: his lords, princes, wives, and concubines. While Belshazzar was tasting the wine and luxuriating in its pleasure, an arrogant thought came to him, and he issued a command to have brought to him the vessels of God that had been taken from Solomon’s Temple in the days of Jehoiakim.

Jeremiah 27:7 proves Belshazzar was the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar: “And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son’s son, until the very time of his land come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him.” The succession is Nebuchadnezzar, Evil-Merodach, and then Belshazzar. The scene changes radically with verse 1 of the next chapter (Chapter 6), for Babylon had been destroyed.

Although their intentions were good, many Christians have been led astray in trying to harmonize secular history with Scripture. In the process, the intent and the explanation of Scripture have sometimes been twisted, and secular history is not reliable despite the four or five notable historians who have commented about the Babylonian Empire. The Bible should be considered the explanation. If any changes have to be made, it is secular history that must be changed to harmonize with the Bible, and not vice versa.

Dan. 5:3 Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them.

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

The king and those with him used the gold and silver vessels from the Temple to drink wine and praise their gods. Their actions humiliated and debased the Jewish God. In the antitype, drinking from the gold and silver vessels represents the misuse of divine and clarion truths by the nominal systems in the near future.

Comment: The Temple vessels can also represent divine power and honor, which Papacy blasphemously takes to itself, claiming to be God’s mouthpiece on earth.

Reply: Yes, more attention is paid to the Vicar of Christ and Mary than to God and Jesus. The vessels represent divine truths and just truth, which have been appropriated and distorted by Papacy. The system has taken to itself these honors and prerogatives. The mother Church, Jezebel, claims to be the teacher and has applied Scripture to back up the system in its glorying. Using the terminology of Scripture, Papacy’s expositors rob the promises and appropriate them to the Roman Catholic Church.

Wine is a symbol of doctrine, and of course there is false doctrine and there is good doctrine. The latter is sometimes referred to as being drunk with the spirit (Eph. 5:18). Revelation 6:6 gives “wine” a good connotation in the clause “See thou hurt [suppress] not the oil and the wine.” But here in Daniel 5, the wine pictures much false doctrine (error) mixed in with a little truth to provide credibility. And so, the true gold and silver vessels give credibility to their false “wine” contents.

Q: Does the “great feast” (verse 1) pertain to the coming hour of power?

A: Yes, because the antitypical time setting is just before the fall of mystic Babylon. And of course Daniel pictures the feet members.

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

Dan. 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 knees smote one against another.

Dan. 5:7 The king cried aloud to bring in 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 show 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.

While the drinking and the carousing were going on, there “came forth fingers of a man’s hand.” The word “wrist,” as well as certain other words pertaining to parts of the human anatomy, is not found in the original manuscript. The thought is that the lower part of a man’s arm (that is, the wrist, hand, and fingers) was seen. How mysterious—especially when seen by flickering candlelight! In that area, the wall would have been bare, and the light of the candlestick shone on it to look like an illuminated page. Suddenly a hand came forth and wrote words or symbols on the wall. Those present would have reasoned that someone, an intelligence, was behind that hand. Imagine! In the midst of the boasting at the great feast, a portion of a man’s arm suddenly came forth and wrote words that the king knew were ominous. The Masoretic translation properly uses the word “frightened”: “Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts frightened him” (verse 6).

The king abruptly became sober. It is interesting that one who is intoxicated can quickly become sober with shock. In fact, he was so frightened that his knees smote one another. Some years ago a sister who was on an airplane thought the plane would crash because of an incident that occurred. She reported that her knees smote one another uncontrollably. Similarly, the king’s “loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.”

Next he “cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers,” and he said to them, “Whosoever shall read this writing, and show 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.” Honor would be given to the one who could do two things: (1) read the writing and (2) explain it.

Q: Why would the honored individual be the “third ruler”?

A: This incident is a type. The first ruler is God; the second is Jesus; the third is the Church.

Dan. 5:8 Then came in all the king’s wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof.

Dan. 5:9 Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied.

Although the account does not state the reason, the wise men could not even read the writing, let alone interpret it. Perhaps the writing was hazy or in a foreign language. At any rate, their inability to “make known to the king the interpretation” was obvious.

Knowing that the writing was not only important but also supernatural, the king was greatly troubled at the lack of interpretation. He realized the writing contained a message for him and for those assembled with him.

Dan. 5:10 Now the 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:

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

Dan. 5:12 Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and showing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation.

The queen now appeared on the scene, giving the advice that someone who could solve the riddle was not in attendance. We are interested in the antitype, especially since Pilate’s wife—also a woman—was instrumental in warning Pilate to have nothing to do with causing judgment to come upon the innocent man Jesus. Whoever the queen represents in antitype, the account seems to suggest that someone, under the symbol of a woman, will come into the picture, make a suggestion, and then be mentioned no more.

Comment: The “woman” will have to be someone who is familiar with the teachings of the feet members.

Reply: Yes, the antitype will be someone sufficiently familiar with truth doctrines and respectful of the feet members but not necessarily consecrated.

Q: Would the queen be an individual or a group more tied in with the civil aspect, not fully in harmony with the nominal systems, and yet somewhat sympathetic to the brethren? Through this individual or group, the feet members would be allowed to give a message to the religious authorities.

A: Yes, for through the queen’s suggestion, Daniel was summoned. The queen, whose motives were good, pictures someone in a high position in governing power who has authority and respect.

As queen mother, she could press a dangerous point: “There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy [grand]father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy [grand]father, the king, I say, thy [grand]father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers.” She was giving Belshazzar a little dig because deference had been shown to Daniel in Nebuchadnezzar’s day and subsequently he had evidently been put on the shelf. Nebuchadnezzar had thought so much of Daniel that he gave him the name Bel, the god of the nation, i.e., Belteshazzar. In addition, Daniel was made master of the magicians, Chaldeans, etc.—yet Belshazzar was ignoring Daniel. The queen was surprised that Belshazzar had not, of his own volition, sought advice from Daniel. Twice she said, “The king … thy [grand]father.” Notice her confidence in Daniel’s ability to interpret: “Daniel … will show the interpretation.” By inference, we see that the queen was not in sympathy with the partying that was going on.

Dan. 5:13 Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my [grand]father brought out of Jewry?

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

Dan. 5:15 And now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof: but they could not show the interpretation of the thing:

Dan. 5:16 And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom.

The king more or less repeated what the queen had told him. What Daniel had done in King Nebuchadnezzar’s day was so outstanding that Belshazzar had heard of him but had, nevertheless, put Daniel on the back burner.

Dan. 5:17 Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.

Dan. 5:18 O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy [grand]father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour:

Dan. 5:19 And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down.

Dan. 5:20 But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him:

Dan. 5:21 And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body  was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will.

Dan. 5:22 And thou his [grand]son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this;

Dan. 5:23 But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified:

Notice Daniel’s approach. His words to the king, “Let thy gifts be to thyself,” were not an insult. Daniel was merely saying that he wanted to give an honest statement and that he was not speaking in order to receive a reward. His words, which follow, were so well executed that they were almost like a prepared speech.

Daniel reviewed the history of Nebuchadnezzar—how the king had become proud and was then debased, how first he did not give the glory to God but afterward even published a decree giving Him the glory. Then Daniel said to Belshazzar, “O Belshazzar, … thou knewest all this.”

Therefore, when King Belshazzar was parroting the queen’s words about Daniel, he had actually known these things all along but did not call them to remembrance until the queen prodded him to give Daniel due respect and to permit him to interpret the handwriting. Next Daniel began to sharply rebuke King Belshazzar.

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

In other words, either God or His angel specially wanted the “Mene, Mene” instruction to come to the king’s attention, and it was accomplished through the instrumentality of the hand that did the writing. Belshazzar had dishonored God, and now God would answer him. Daniel was saying that Belshazzar’s dishonoring of God was one of the main reasons why the hand had appeared with the writing.

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

Daniel repeated the words on the wall: “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.” How were the words written so that the wise men, astrologers, etc., could not read them? Various suggestions have been offered. Writings similar to the Egyptian hieroglyphs, called cuneiform, were used in Babylon, and only those few who were schooled in cuneiform could read and interpret that type of language. Therefore, instead of that unintelligible language, Daniel was given the equivalency in Syriac, which the king would know.

Dan. 5:26 This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.

Dan. 5:27 TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.

Dan. 5:28 PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.

Mene, tekel, and peres were all weights.

Mene = 1,000 gerahs

Mene = 1,000 gerahs

Tekel = 20 gerahs

Peres = +500 gerahs

2,520

Daniel said, “Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting,” and 2,520 was the weight. However, Daniel did not give that explanation. Instead he took each component part.

His interpretation of “mene” (“God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it”) indicated a time period, but Daniel did not dwell on the specific amount of time. Of course in the Harvest period, we see that the number 2,520 is significant for indicating the number of years in Gentile Times.

“PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.” Daniel was saying that Babylon would be cut in half. And that is what happened. Half of the empire was given to the Medes, and half went to the Persians. Both were powerful kingdoms, but notice that the Medes are mentioned first. Cyrus and Darius were knit together through the marriage of the son of one and the daughter of the other.

Q: Is this account giving us some information and details about the content and timing of the message of the feet members?

A: The number 2,520 refers to Gentile Times, which began in 606 BC and ended in 1914. The scholars of Christendom feel that the 70 years began in the third or fourth year of Jehoiakim, giving a 19-year time difference from the reckoning we accept. In the fourth year of Jehoiakim, the prophet Jeremiah mentioned not that the 70 years began then, but that the Israelites would be in captivity for 70 years. The account in 2 Kings 24 infers that the land is involved. The Book of 2 Chronicles is even more specific, saying the land had to lie desolate for 70 years to fulfill the words of Jeremiah the prophet (Jer. 25:11,12; 29:10). “To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years” (2 Chron. 36:21). The land was never desolate in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, nor was it desolate at the end of his reign or during the reign of Zedekiah—until the eleventh year when the city and the Temple were destroyed. All survivors were taken as captives to Babylon, and the land was left desolate. Therefore, the prophecy of the 70 years had to be fulfilled in Zedekiah’s day, not in Jehoiakim’s day. All chronologers, including some in the Truth movement, try to put the 70 years in the 586 BC framework. However, to accept the 586 BC date, we would have to change the Pastor’s chronology. Such a change is permissible if we can prove the change Scripturally, but in this case, secular historians and tablets are used as proof.

What happened in 1914? A sufficiency of guilt was incurred by Christendom at that time to fill the cup to the brim. One might ask, Why was the accumulation of blood guilt sufficient in 1914—and not at the actual date yet future? The purpose is so that the feet members can give the strong message, which will follow the popular message. Until the year 1914, the end of Gentile Times, the civil powers were ordained of God, and Christians were forbidden to speak evil against them. But if we believe that the period of Gentile Times ended in 1914, we can speak out strongly when the due time comes.

In the coming time of dire trouble, the people will welcome a message of hope, that is, the promise that the Lord’s Prayer will be answered. Restitution is a comforting message. But the type of Belshazzar’s Feast shows the king (Papacy) will be rebuked. Daniel said, “You are like your grandfather, and look what happened to him. You are doing the same thing he did.” Then Daniel went right into the message.

Dan. 5:29 Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.

Belshazzar kept his word in regard to honoring Daniel, the one who interpreted the handwriting. In the antitype, this honoring pictures the change of the feet members. Just as the deliverance of the three Hebrew children from the fiery furnace shows their change and preservation as new creatures, so Daniel’s being pulled up out of the den of lions pictures the change to glory of the feet members.

Daniel was honored during the period of Belshazzar’s power. This shows that the feet members will receive their change during Papacy’s hour of power or, more specifically at the end of the first half hour. Mystic Babylon’s destruction will occur “in that [same] night,” that is, at the end of the second half of the hour of power. The one event will follow the other in quick succession. The very destruction of Christendom will be an evidence that the complete Church is beyond the veil. Whoever remains will realize they missed out on the prize of the high calling, but they will still be very precious in God’s sight and will be dealt with subsequently, as other pictures show.

The coming coalition of Church and State will be a desperate move to preserve order. The fall of Babylon and the death of Belshazzar indicate that the clerical element will fall first, prior to the civil element.

The gold chain about Daniel’s neck represents the divine nature, which is the jewel. Nothing is more valuable than to receive the divine nature. The chain was close to the heart. Also, Daniel was clothed with purple (called “scarlet” in the King James), which is associated with royalty. His being made third in the Kingdom portrays the Church, who will be third after God and Jesus.

Dan. 5:30 In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain.

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

Q: Does Darius the Mede’s taking the kingdom represent The Christ?

A: That could very well be, just as Cyrus pictures The Christ.

Darius took the kingdom at age 62. The number 62 seems to have some significance, to be revealed in the future.

In the cuneiform tablets of secular history pertaining to the Medes and the Persians, there is much confusion with regard to this period of the Babylonian Empire. The relatively contemporary authors who write on this subject conflict. Therefore, we should use the record in the Bible as the Word of God.

1997

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