The Writing upon the Wall
The Fall of Babylon
Daniel v: 1 to 31
great kingdom or empire of Nebuchadnezzar was made
up of many smaller kingdoms which he had conquered.
As long as he lived his kingdom was strong; but as
soon as he died it began to fall in pieces. His son
became king in his place, but was soon slain; and
one king followed another quickly for some years.
The last king was named Nabonidus. He made his son
Belshazzar king with himself, and left Belshazzar to
rule in the city of Babylon, while he was caring for
the more distant parts of the kingdom.
But a new nation was rising to power. Far to the
east were the kingdoms of Media and Persia. These
two peoples had become one, and were at war with
Babylon, under their great leader, Cyrus. While
Belshazzar was ruling in the city of Babylon, Cyrus
and his Persian soldiers were on the outside, around
the walls, trying to take the city. These walls were
so great and high that the Persian soldiers could
not break through them.
But inside the city were many who were enemies of
Belshazzar and were friendly to Cyrus. These people
opened the gates of Babylon to Cyrus. At night he
brought his army quietly into the city and
surrounded the palace of King Belshazzar.
On that night King Belshazzar was holding in the
palace a great feast in honor of his god. On the
tables were the golden cups and vessels that
Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Temple of the Lord
in Jerusalem; and around the table were the king,
his many wives, and a thousand of his princes and
nobles. They did not know that their city was taken,
and that their enemies were at the very doors of the
While they were all drinking wine together suddenly
a strange thing was seen. On the wall appeared a
great hand writing letters and words that no one
could read. Every eye was drawn to the spot, and all
saw the fingers moving on the wall, and the letters
written. The king was filled with fear. His face
became pale and his knees shook. He called for the
wise men of Babylon, who were with him in the
palace, to tell what the writing meant. He said,
"Whoever can read the words on the wall shall be
dressed in a purple robe, and shall have a chain of
gold around his neck, and shall rank next to King
Belshazzar as the third ruler in the kingdom."
But not one of the wise men could read it, for God
had not given to them the power. At last the queen
of Babylon said to Belshazzar, "O king, may you live
forever! There is one man who can read this writing,
a man in whom is the spirit of the holy gods, a man
whom Nebuchadnezzar, your father, made master of all
the wise men. His name is Daniel. Send for him, and
he will tell you what these words are and what they
Daniel was now an old man; and since the time when
Nebuchadnezzar died he had been no longer in his
high place as ruler and chief adviser of the king.
They sent for Daniel, and he came. The king said to
him, "Are you that Daniel who was brought many years
ago by my father to this city? I have heard of you,
that the spirit of the holy gods is upon you, and
that you have wisdom and knowledge. If you can read
this writing upon the wall, and tell me what it
means, I will give you a purple robe, and a gold
chain, and a place next to myself as the third ruler
in the kingdom."
And Daniel answered the king, "You may keep your
rewards yourself, and may give your gifts to whom
you please, for I do not want them; but I will read
to you the writing. O king, the Most High God gave
to Nebuchadnezzar this kingdom, and great power, and
glory. But when Nebuchadnezzar became proud, and
boasted of his greatness, then the Lord took from
him his crown and his throne, and let him live among
the beasts of the field, until he knew that the most
High God rules over the kingdoms of men. O
Belshazzar, you knew all this, yet you have not been
humble in heart. You have risen up against the Lord,
and have taken the vessels of his house, and have
drunk wine in them in honor of your own gods of wood
and stone; but you have not praised the Lord God who
has given to you your kingdom and your power. For
this reason God has sent this hand to write these
words upon the wall. This is the writing, MENE, MENE,
TEKEL, UPHARSIN. And this is the meaning, Numbered,
Numbered, Weighed, Divided.
"MENE: God has counted the years of your kingdom,
and has brought it to an end.
"TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and
have been found wanting.
"UPHARSIN: Your kingdom is divided, and taken from
you, and given to the Medes and the Persians."
King Belshazzar could scarcely believe what he
heard; but he commanded that the promised reward be
given to Daniel. And almost while he was speaking
his end came. The Persians and the Medes burst into
his palace; they seized Belshazzar and killed him in
the midst of his feast.
On that night the empire or great kingdom set up by
Nebuchadnezzar came to an end. A new empire arose,
greater than that of Babylon, called the Persian
Empire. And in the place of Belshazzar, Cyrus, the
commander of the Persians, made an old man named
Darius king until the time when he was ready to take
the kingdom for himself.
This empire of Persia was the third of the
world-kingdoms of which we read in the Bible. The
first was the Assyrian kingdom, having Nineveh for
its capital. This was the kingdom that carried the
Ten Tribes of Israel into captivity. The second was
the Babylonian or Chaldean kingdom, which carried
the Jews into captivity. And the third was the
Persian kingdom, which lasted two hundred years,
ruling all the lands named in the Bible.
The Fall of Babylon