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Daniel 5:18-31

Context
5:18 As for you, O king, the most high God bestowed on your father Nebuchadnezzar a kingdom, greatness, honor, and majesty. 1  5:19 Due to the greatness that he bestowed on him, all peoples, nations, and language groups were trembling with fear 2  before him. He killed whom he wished, he spared 3  whom he wished, he exalted whom he wished, and he brought low whom he wished. 5:20 And when his mind 4  became arrogant 5  and his spirit filled with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and his honor was removed from him. 5:21 He was driven from human society, his mind 6  was changed to that of an animal, he lived 7  with the wild donkeys, he was fed grass like oxen, and his body became damp with the dew of the sky, until he came to understand that the most high God rules over human kingdoms, and he appoints over them whomever he wishes.

5:22 “But you, his son 8  Belshazzar, have not humbled yourself, 9  although you knew all this. 5:23 Instead, you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven. You brought before you the vessels from his temple, and you and your nobles, together with your wives and concubines, drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone – gods 10  that cannot see or hear or comprehend! But you have not glorified the God who has in his control 11  your very breath and all your ways! 5:24 Therefore the palm of a hand was sent from him, and this writing was inscribed.

5:25 “This is the writing that was inscribed: MENE, MENE, 12  TEQEL, and PHARSIN. 13  5:26 This is the interpretation of the words: 14  As for mene 15  – God has numbered your kingdom’s days and brought it to an end. 5:27 As for teqel – you are weighed on the balances and found to be lacking. 5:28 As for peres 16  – your kingdom is divided and given over to the Medes and Persians.”

5:29 Then, on Belshazzar’s orders, 17  Daniel was clothed in purple, a golden collar was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed third ruler in the kingdom. 5:30 And in that very night Belshazzar, the Babylonian king, 18  was killed. 19  5:31 (6:1) 20  So Darius the Mede took control of the kingdom when he was about sixty-two years old.

1 tn Or “royal greatness and majestic honor,” if the four terms are understood as a double hendiadys.

2 tn Aram “were trembling and fearing.” This can be treated as a hendiadys, “were trembling with fear.”

3 tn Aram “let live.” This Aramaic form is the aphel participle of חַיָה(khayah, “to live”). Theodotion and the Vulgate mistakenly take the form to be from מְחָא (mÿkha’, “to smite”).

4 tn Aram “heart.”

5 sn The point of describing Nebuchadnezzar as arrogant is that he had usurped divine prerogatives, and because of his immense arrogance God had dealt decisively with him.

6 tn Aram “heart.”

7 tn Aram “his dwelling.”

8 tn Or “descendant”; or “successor.”

9 tn Aram “your heart.”

10 tn Aram “which.”

11 tn Aram “in whose hand [are].”

12 tc The Greek version of Theodotion lacks the repetition of מְנֵא (mÿne’, cf. NAB).

13 tc The Aramaic word is plural. Theodotion has the singular (cf. NAB “PERES”).

14 tn Or “word” or “event.” See HALOT 1915 s.v. מִלָּה.

15 tn The Aramaic term מְנֵא (mÿne’) is a noun referring to a measure of weight. The linkage here to the verb “to number” (Aram. מְנָה, mÿnah) is a case of paronomasia rather than strict etymology. So also with תְּקֵל (tÿqel) and פַרְסִין (farsin). In the latter case there is an obvious wordplay with the name “Persian.”

16 sn Peres (פְּרֵס) is the singular form of פַרְסִין (pharsin) in v. 25.

17 tn Aram “Belshazzar spoke.”

18 tn Aram “king of the Chaldeans.”

19 sn The year was 539 B.C. At this time Daniel would have been approximately eighty-one years old. The relevant extra-biblical records describing the fall of Babylon include portions of Herodotus, Xenophon, Berossus (cited in Josephus), the Cyrus Cylinder, and the Babylonian Chronicle.

20 sn Beginning with 5:31, the verse numbers through 6:28 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Aramaic text (BHS), with 5:31 ET = 6:1 AT, 6:1 ET = 6:2 AT, 6:2 ET = 6:3 AT, 6:3 ET = 6:4 AT, etc., through 6:28 ET = 6:29 AT. Beginning with 7:1 the verse numbers in the English Bible and the Aramaic text are again the same.



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