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Bible Stories
For Kids
 You're here » Kids Index - Bible Stories - Old Testament - Handwriting on the Wall Print Version

The Strange Handwriting on the Wall of the Palace

Daniel 5

Daniel interprets the strange handwriting on the wall.

A GREAT FEAST was being held in the palace of Babylon. The king, Belshazzar , had invited a thousand princes and nobles to enjoy the feast with him and his many wives. And the palace was ringing with their voices and laughter and song.

       Presently, while they were drinking wine together, the King remembered the beautiful vessels of gold that Nebuchadnezzar had brought from the temple of the Lord, in Jerusalem

       He commanded his servants to bring the vessels into the palace, that he and his company might drink wine from them. And the vessels were brought, and the King commanded that they be filled with wine and passed among the guests, Then, as they drank from the golden vessels they praised the gods of gold, and of silver, and of wood, and of stone.

       Belshazzar's heart was merry, and he felt very secure and happy in his palace-home among his guests. He joined with them in praising the gods of gold, silver, wood, and stone.

       Then suddenly he turned pale, and the gladness died out of his heart. A great fear swept over him, and caused his knees to tremble. For there on the wall of the palace, over near the candlestick, he saw the fingers of a man's hand writing strange words, which he could not read.

       All at once everything grew quiet in the banquet-hall.. And everybody became afraid, for no one could understand the strange words that the hand had written.

       Then the King commanded that the wise Chaldeans be brought in at once; for he thought they might be able to read the words and tell their meaning. He promised to give a rich reward to the one who could do this; but none of the Chaldeans were able to earn that reward. They could not read the writing on the wall.

       News of the strange handwriting spread rapidly through the palace, and soon the old Queen Mother heard about it. She heard, to, that the wise men could not read the writing nor tell its meaning.

       So she came into the banquet-hall, where the King sat trembling among his frightened guests.

       And she said, "O King, there is in this city a very wise man whom you have quite forgotten. In the days of Nebuchadnezzar, the king, this man was the master of all the king's wise men, for the spirit of the gods dwells in him. Now send for him, and he will tell you the meaning of this strange handwriting on the wall."

       Daniel was now an old man. For a long time he had lived quietly in Babylon, for the kings who followed Nebuchadnezzar had not set him up to places of honor in the kingdom. And he was almost forgotten.

       The Queen Mother, however, remembered how he had interpreted the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar, and she knew that his wisdom was greater than any of the wisdom of the Chaldeans.

       Belshazzar sent in haste for Daniel, and when the old man came before him he asked, excitedly, "Are you that Daniel whom my fathers brought out of the land of the Jews?"

       Daniel replied that he was, and the King said, "I have heard of you, that the spirit of the gods dwells with you and enables you to understand deep mysteries. Now, if you can read the writing upon the wall and tell its meaning, I will cause you to be dressed in royal garments, and will make you the third ruler in this kingdom."

       Daniel did not care for the honors of the Babylonian kingdom. He did not care for the beautiful, kingly robes, and he told the King to give those gifts to someone else. But he said, "I will read the writing, and will cause you to understand its meaning."

       First Daniel reminded Belshazzar of great punishment that God had sent upon Nebuchadnezzar because of his wickedness and pride. Belshazzar had known about this, yet he had dared to be proud and to despise the God of heaven and earth.

       He had dared to use the vessels that belonged in the Lord's house, in Jerusalem, for drinking wine, and he and his guests had praised the gods of gold and of silver and of wood and of stone, which can not see nor hear.

       Daniel told Belshazzar about these things, and then he said, "Because you did these things, God sent his hand to write upon the wall of your banquet-room, that you might see it and become afraid. The words that this hand has written are Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin, and they mean this:

"Mene; God has numbered your kingdom and finished it.
"Tekel; you are weighed in the balances and found wanting.
"Upharsin; your kingdom is divided, and is given to the Medes and Persians."


       Belshazzar commanded his servants to bring a royal garment and put it on Daniel, then he fastened a gold chain about Daniel's neck and proclaimed before all the guests that Daniel was the third ruler in the kingdom.

       But that very night the kingdom of Babylon was destroyed; for the Medes and Persians came into the city and killed Belshazzar, and placed the Median king Darius upon the throne.

Next Story:
Daniel in the Lions Den

Previous Story:
God Humbles the Proud Heart of Nebuchadnezzar

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