Chapter 5

1King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for his thousand nobles, and in the presence of the thousand he drank wine.

bayl-sha-TZAR mal-KA a-vad l'-KHEM RAV l'-rav-r'-va-NO-hee a-LAF v'-la-ko-VAYL al-PA kham-RA sha-TAY

אבֵּלְשַׁאצַּר מַלְכָּא עֲבַד לְחֶם רַב לְרַבְרְבָנוֹהִי אֲלַף וְלָקֳבֵל אַלְפָּא חַמְרָא שָׁתֵה׃

 5:1   King Belshazzar gave a great banquet

Malbim (1809-1879)

Years before, Yirmiyahu issued his famous prophecy that Babylonia would rule over the Jews for seventy years (Jeremiah 29:10). Malbim comments that according to Belshazzar’s calculations, these seventy years have now elapsed and he is still in power. He therefore throws a feast to mark this milestone, and uses the holy vessels from the Beit Hamikdash in Yerushalayim to further illustrate this point (verse 2). Hashem responds with the famous writing that appears on the wall during the feast, and by morning, Belshazzar is dead. Rabbi Yitzchak Abrabanel adds that this incident plants much hope in the hearts of the People of Israel, who realize that God can turn events around in an instant. He coordinates everything and is precise in His calculations. The Jews of Daniel’s time witness that those who mistreat them will ultimately pay for their actions.

2Under the influence of the wine, Belshazzar ordered the gold and silver vessels that his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple at Yerushalayim to be brought so that the king and his nobles, his consorts, and his concubines could drink from them.

בבֵּלְשַׁאצַּר אֲמַר בִּטְעֵם חַמְרָא לְהַיְתָיָה לְמָאנֵי דַּהֲבָא וְכַסְפָּא דִּי הַנְפֵּק נְבוּכַדְנֶצַּר אֲבוּהִי מִן־הֵיכְלָא דִּי בִירוּשְׁלֶם וְיִשְׁתּוֹן בְּהוֹן מַלְכָּא וְרַבְרְבָנוֹהִי שֵׁגְלָתֵהּ וּלְחֵנָתֵהּ׃

3The golden vessels that had been taken out of the sanctuary of the House of Hashem in Yerushalayim were then brought, and the king, his nobles, his consorts, and his concubines drank from them.

גבֵּאדַיִן הַיְתִיו מָאנֵי דַהֲבָא דִּי הַנְפִּקוּ מִן־הֵיכְלָא דִּי־בֵית אֱלָהָא דִּי בִירוּשְׁלֶם וְאִשְׁתִּיו בְּהוֹן מַלְכָּא וְרַבְרְבָנוֹהִי שֵׁגְלָתֵהּ וּלְחֵנָתֵהּ׃

4They drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.

דאִשְׁתִּיו חַמְרָא וְשַׁבַּחוּ לֵאלָהֵי דַּהֲבָא וְכַסְפָּא נְחָשָׁא פַרְזְלָא אָעָא וְאַבְנָא׃

5Just then, the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace opposite the lampstand, so that the king could see the hand as it wrote.

הבַּהּ־שַׁעֲתָה נפקו [נְפַקָה] אֶצְבְּעָן דִּי יַד־אֱנָשׁ וְכָתְבָן לָקֳבֵל נֶבְרַשְׁתָּא עַל־גִּירָא דִּי־כְתַל הֵיכְלָא דִּי מַלְכָּא וּמַלְכָּא חָזֵה פַּס יְדָה דִּי כָתְבָה׃

6The king's face darkened, and his thoughts alarmed him; the joints of his loins were loosened and his knees knocked together.

ואֱדַיִן מַלְכָּא זִיוׂהִי שְׁנוֹהִי וְרַעיֹנֹהִי יְבַהֲלוּנֵּהּ וְקִטְרֵי חַרְצֵהּ מִשְׁתָּרַיִן וְאַרְכֻבָּתֵהּ דָּא לְדָא נָקְשָׁן׃

7The king called loudly for the exorcists, Chaldeans, and diviners to be brought. The king addressed the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever can read this writing and tell me its meaning shall be clothed in purple and wear a golden chain on his neck, and shall rule as one of three in the kingdom.”

זקָרֵא מַלְכָּא בְּחַיִל לְהֶעָלָה לְאָשְׁפַיָּא כשדיא [כַּשְׂדָּאֵי] וְגָזְרַיָּא עָנֵה מַלְכָּא וְאָמַר לְחַכִּימֵי בָבֶל דִּי כָל־אֱנָשׁ דִּי־יִקְרֵה כְּתָבָה דְנָה וּפִשְׁרֵהּ יְחַוִּנַּנִי אַרְגְּוָנָא יִלְבַּשׁ והמונכא [וְהַמְנִיכָא] דִי־דַהֲבָא עַל־צַוְּארֵהּ וְתַלְתִּי בְמַלְכוּתָא יִשְׁלַט׃

8Then all the king's wise men came, but they could not read the writing or make known its meaning to the king.

חאֱדַיִן עללין [עָלִּין] כֹּל חַכִּימֵי מַלְכָּא וְלָא־כָהֲלִין כְּתָבָא לְמִקְרֵא ופשרא [וּפִשְׁרֵהּ] לְהוֹדָעָה לְמַלְכָּא׃

9King Belshazzar grew exceedingly alarmed and his face darkened, and his nobles were dismayed.

טאֱדַיִן מַלְכָּא בֵלְשַׁאצַּר שַׂגִּיא מִתְבָּהַל וְזִיוׂהִי שָׁנַיִן עֲלוֹהִי וְרַבְרְבָנוֹהִי מִשְׁתַּבְּשִׁין׃

10Because of the state of the king and his nobles, the queen came to the banquet hall. The queen spoke up and said, “O king, live forever! Let your thoughts not alarm you or your face darken.

ימַלְכְּתָא לָקֳבֵל מִלֵּי מַלְכָּא וְרַבְרְבָנוֹהִי לְבֵית מִשְׁתְּיָא עללת [עַלַּת] עֲנָת מַלְכְּתָא וַאֲמֶרֶת מַלְכָּא לְעָלְמִין חֱיִי אַל־יְבַהֲלוּךְ רַעְיוֹנָךְ וְזִיוָיךְ אַל־יִשְׁתַּנּוֹ׃

11There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him; in your father's time, illumination, understanding, and wisdom like that of the gods were to be found in him, and your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, exorcists, Chaldeans, and diviners.

יאאִיתַי גְּבַר בְּמַלְכוּתָךְ דִּי רוּחַ אֱלָהִין קַדִּישִׁין בֵּהּ וּבְיוֹמֵי אֲבוּךְ נַהִירוּ וְשָׂכְלְתָנוּ וְחָכְמָה כְּחָכְמַת־אֱלָהִין הִשְׁתְּכַחַת בֵּהּ וּמַלְכָּא נְבֻכַדְנֶצַּר אֲבוּךְ רַב חַרְטֻמִּין אָשְׁפִין כַּשְׂדָּאִין גָּזְרִין הֲקִימֵהּ אֲבוּךְ מַלְכָּא׃

12Seeing that there is to be found in Daniel (whom the king called Belteshazzar) extraordinary spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, to explain riddles and solve problems, let Daniel now be called to tell the meaning [of the writing].”

יבכָּל־קֳבֵל דִּי רוּחַ יַתִּירָה וּמַנְדַּע וְשָׂכְלְתָנוּ מְפַשַּׁר חֶלְמִין וַאַחֲוָיַת אֲחִידָן וּמְשָׁרֵא קִטְרִין הִשְׁתְּכַחַת בֵּהּ בְּדָנִיֵּאל דִּי־מַלְכָּא שָׂם־שְׁמֵהּ בֵּלְטְשַׁאצַּר כְּעַן דָּנִיֵּאל יִתְקְרֵי וּפִשְׁרָה יְהַחֲוֵה׃

13Daniel was then brought before the king. The king addressed Daniel, “You are Daniel, one of the exiles of Yehuda whom my father, the king, brought from Yehuda.

יגבֵּאדַיִן דָּנִיֵּאל הֻעַל קֳדָם מַלְכָּא עָנֵה מַלְכָּא וְאָמַר לְדָנִיֵּאל אנתה־[אַנְתְּ־] הוּא דָנִיֵּאל דִּי־מִן־בְּנֵי גָלוּתָא דִּי יְהוּד דִּי הַיְתִי מַלְכָּא אַבִי מִן־יְהוּד׃

14I have heard about you that you have the spirit of the gods in you, and that illumination, knowledge, and extraordinary wisdom are to be found in you.

ידוְשִׁמְעֵת עליך [עֲלָךְ] דִּי רוּחַ אֱלָהִין בָּךְ וְנַהִירוּ וְשָׂכְלְתָנוּ וְחָכְמָה יַתִּירָה הִשְׁתְּכַחַת בָּךְ׃

15Now the wise men and exorcists have been brought before me to read this writing and to make known its meaning to me. But they could not tell what it meant.

טווּכְעַן הֻעַלּוּ קָדָמַי חַכִּימַיָּא אָשְׁפַיָּא דִּי־כְתָבָה דְנָה יִקְרוֹן וּפִשְׁרֵהּ לְהוֹדָעֻתַנִי וְלָא־כָהֲלִין פְּשַׁר־מִלְּתָא לְהַחֲוָיָה׃

16I have heard about you, that you can give interpretations and solve problems. Now if you can read the writing and make known its meaning to me, you shall be clothed in purple and wear a golden chain on your neck and rule as one of three in the kingdom.”

טזוַאֲנָה שִׁמְעֵת עליך [עֲלָךְ] דִּי־תוכל [תִיכּוּל] פִּשְׁרִין לְמִפְשַׁר וְקִטְרִין לְמִשְׁרֵא כְּעַן הֵן תוכל [תִּכוּל] כְּתָבָא לְמִקְרֵא וּפִשְׁרֵהּ לְהוֹדָעֻתַנִי אַרְגְּוָנָא תִלְבַּשׁ והמונכא [וְהַמְנִיכָא] דִי־דַהֲבָא עַל־צַוְּארָךְ וְתַלְתָּא בְמַלְכוּתָא תִּשְׁלַט׃

17Then Daniel said in reply to the king, “You may keep your gifts for yourself, and give your presents to others. But I will read the writing for the king, and make its meaning known to him.

יזבֵּאדַיִן עָנֵה דָנִיֵּאל וְאָמַר קֳדָם מַלְכָּא מַתְּנָתָךְ לָךְ לֶהֶוְיָן וּנְבָזְבְּיָתָךְ לְאָחֳרָן הַב בְּרַם כְּתָבָא אֶקְרֵא לְמַלְכָּא וּפִשְׁרָא אֲהוֹדְעִנֵּהּ׃

18O king, the Most High Hashem bestowed kingship, grandeur, glory, and majesty upon your father Nebuchadnezzar.

יחאנתה [אַנְתְּ] מַלְכָּא אֱלָהָא עליא [עִלָּאָה] מַלְכוּתָא וּרְבוּתָא וִיקָרָא וְהַדְרָה יְהַב לִנְבֻכַדְנֶצַּר אֲבוּךְ׃

19And because of the grandeur that He bestowed upon him, all the peoples and nations of every language trembled in fear of him. He put to death whom he wished, and whom he wished he let live; he raised high whom he wished and whom he wished he brought low.

יטוּמִן־רְבוּתָא דִּי יְהַב־לֵהּ כֹּל עַמְמַיָּא אֻמַיָּא וְלִשָּׁנַיָּא הֲווֹ זאעין [זָיְעִין] וְדָחֲלִין מִן־קֳדָמוֹהִי דִּי־הֲוָה צָבֵא הֲוָא קָטֵל וְדִי־הֲוָה צָבֵא הֲוָה מַחֵא וְדִי־הֲוָה צָבֵא הֲוָה מָרִים וְדִי־הֲוָה צָבֵא הֲוָה מַשְׁפִּיל׃

20But when he grew haughty and willfully presumptuous, he was deposed from his royal throne and his glory was removed from him.

כוּכְדִי רִם לִבְבֵהּ וְרוּחֵהּ תִּקְפַת לַהֲזָדָה הָנְחַת מִן־כָּרְסֵא מַלְכוּתֵהּ וִיקָרָה הֶעְדִּיוּ מִנֵּהּ׃

21He was driven away from men, and his mind made like that of a beast, and his habitation was with wild asses. He was fed grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until he came to know that the Most High Hashem is sovereign over the realm of man, and sets over it whom He wishes.

כאוּמִן־בְּנֵי אֲנָשָׁא טְרִיד וְלִבְבֵהּ עִם־חֵיוְתָא שוי [שַׁוִּיְו] וְעִם־עֲרָדַיָּא מְדוֹרֵהּ עִשְׂבָּא כְתוֹרִין יְטַעֲמוּנֵּהּ וּמִטַּל שְׁמַיָּא גִּשְׁמֵהּ יִצְטַבַּע עַד דִּי־יְדַע דִּי־שַׁלִּיט אֱלָהָא עליא [עִלָּאָה] בְּמַלְכוּת אֲנָשָׁא וּלְמַן־דִּי יִצְבֵּה יְהָקֵים עליה [עֲלַהּ׃]

22But you, Belshazzar his son, did not humble yourself although you knew all this.

כבואנתה [וְאַנְתְּ] בְּרֵהּ בֵּלְשַׁאצַּר לָא הַשְׁפֵּלְתְּ לִבְבָךְ כָּל־קֳבֵל דִּי כָל־דְּנָה יְדַעְתָּ׃

23You exalted yourself against the Lord of Heaven, and had the vessels of His temple brought to you. You and your nobles, your consorts, and your concubines drank wine from them and praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see, hear, or understand; but the God who controls your lifebreath and every move you make—Him you did not glorify!

כגוְעַל מָרֵא־שְׁמַיָּא הִתְרוֹמַמְתָּ וּלְמָאנַיָּא דִי־בַיְתֵהּ הַיְתִיו קדמיך [קָדָמָךְ] ואנתה [וְאַנְתְּ] ורברבניך [וְרַבְרְבָנָךְ] שֵׁגְלָתָךְ וּלְחֵנָתָךְ חַמְרָא שָׁתַיִן בְּהוֹן וְלֵאלָהֵי כַסְפָּא־וְדַהֲבָא נְחָשָׁא פַרְזְלָא אָעָא וְאַבְנָא דִּי לָא־חָזַיִן וְלָא־שָׁמְעִין וְלָא יָדְעִין שַׁבַּחְתָּ וְלֵאלָהָא דִּי־נִשְׁמְתָךְ בִּידֵהּ וְכָל־אֹרְחָתָךְ לֵהּ לָא הַדַּרְתָּ׃

24He therefore made the hand appear, and caused the writing to be inscribed.

כדבֵּאדַיִן מִן־קֳדָמוֹהִי שְׁלִיַחַ פַּסָּא דִי־יְדָא וּכְתָבָא דְנָה רְשִׁים׃

25This is the writing that is inscribed: mene mene tekel upharsin.

כהוּדְנָה כְתָבָא דִּי רְשִׁים מְנֵא מְנֵא תְּקֵל וּפַרְסִין׃

26And this is its meaning: mene—Hashem has numbered [the days of] your kingdom and brought it to an end;

כודְּנָה פְּשַׁר־מִלְּתָא מְנֵא מְנָה־אֱלָהָא מַלְכוּתָךְ וְהַשְׁלְמַהּ׃

27tekel—you have been weighed in the balance and found wanting;

כזתְּקֵל תְּקִילְתָּה בְמֹאזַנְיָא וְהִשְׁתְּכַחַתְּ חַסִּיר׃

28peres—your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and the Persians.”

כחפְּרֵס פְּרִיסַת מַלְכוּתָךְ וִיהִיבַת לְמָדַי וּפָרָס׃

29Then, at Belshazzar's command, they clothed Daniel in purple, placed a golden chain on his neck, and proclaimed that he should rule as one of three in the kingdom.

כטבֵּאדַיִן אֲמַר בֵּלְשַׁאצַּר וְהַלְבִּישׁוּ לְדָנִיֵּאל אַרְגְּוָנָא והמונכא [וְהַמְנִיכָא] דִי־דַהֲבָא עַל־צַוְּארֵהּ וְהַכְרִזוּ עֲלוֹהִי דִּי־לֶהֱוֵא שַׁלִּיט תַּלְתָּא בְּמַלְכוּתָא׃

30That very night, Belshazzar, the Chaldean king, was killed,

לבֵּהּ בְּלֵילְיָא קְטִיל בֵּלְאשַׁצַּר מַלְכָּא כשדיא [כַשְׂדָּאָה׃]