1One night King Belshazzar invited a thousand noblemen to a great banquet, and they drank wine together. 2While they were drinking, Belshazzar gave orders to bring in the gold and silver cups and bowls which his father Nebuchadnezzar had carried off from the Temple in Jerusalem. The king sent for them so that he, his noblemen, his wives, and his concubines could drink out of them. 3At once the gold cups and bowls were brought in, and they all drank wine out of them 4and praised gods made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.
5Suddenly a human hand appeared and began writing on the plaster wall of the palace, where the light from the lamps was shining most brightly. And the king saw the hand as it was writing. 6He turned pale and was so frightened that his knees began to shake. 7He shouted for someone to bring in the magicians, wizards, and astrologers. When they came in, the king said to them, “Anyone who can read this writing and tell me what it means will be dressed in robes of royal purple, wear a gold chain of honour round his neck, and be the third in power in the kingdom.” 8The royal advisers came forward, but none of them could read the writing or tell the king what it meant. 9In his distress King Belshazzar grew even paler, and his noblemen had no idea what to do.
10The queen mother heard the noise made by the king and his noblemen and entered the banqueting hall. She said, “May Your Majesty live for ever! Please do not be so disturbed and look so pale. 11There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. When your father was king, this man showed good sense, knowledge, and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods. And King Nebuchadnezzar, your father, made him chief of the fortune tellers, magicians, wizards, and astrologers. 12He has unusual ability and is wise and skilful in interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining mysteries; so send for this man Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, and he will tell you what all this means.”
Daniel Explains the Writing
13Daniel was brought at once into the king's presence, and the king said to him, “Are you Daniel, that Jewish exile whom my father the king brought here from Judah? 14I have heard that the spirit of the holy gods is in you and that you are skilful and have knowledge and wisdom. 15The advisers and magicians were brought in to read this writing and tell me what it means, but they could not discover the meaning. 16Now I have heard that you can find hidden meanings and explain mysteries. If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be dressed in robes of royal purple, wear a gold chain of honour round your neck, and be the third in power in the kingdom.”
17Daniel replied, “Keep your gifts for yourself or give them to someone else. I will read for Your Majesty what has been written and tell you what it means.
18“The Supreme God made your father Nebuchadnezzar a great king and gave him dignity and majesty. 19He was so great that people of all nations, races, and languages were afraid of him and trembled. If he wanted to kill someone, he did; if he wanted to keep someone alive, he did. He honoured or disgraced anyone he wanted to. 20But because he became proud, stubborn, and cruel, he was removed from his royal throne and lost his place of honour. 21He was driven away from human society, and his mind became like that of an animal. He lived with wild donkeys, ate grass like an ox, and slept in the open air with nothing to protect him from the dew. Finally he admitted that the Supreme God controls all human kingdoms and can give them to anyone he chooses.
22“But you, his son, have not humbled yourself, even though you knew all this. 23You acted against the Lord of heaven and brought in the cups and bowls taken from his Temple. You, your noblemen, your wives, and your concubines drank wine out of them and praised gods made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone — gods that cannot see or hear and that do not know anything. But you did not honour the God who determines whether you live or die and who controls everything you do. 24That is why God has sent the hand to write these words.
25“This is what was written: ‘Number, number, weight, divisions.’ 26And this is what it means: number, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; 27weight, you have been weighed on the scales and found to be too light; 28divisions, your kingdom is divided up and given to the Medes and Persians.”
29Immediately Belshazzar ordered his servants to dress Daniel in a robe of royal purple and to hang a gold chain of honour round his neck. And he made him the third in power in the kingdom. 30That same night Belshazzar, the king of Babylonia, was killed; 31and Darius the Mede, who was then 62 years old, seized the royal power.
Daniel in the Pit of Lions
1Darius decided to appoint 120 governors to hold office throughout his empire. 2In addition, he chose Daniel and two others to supervise the governors and to look after the king's interests. 3Daniel soon showed that he could do better work than the other supervisors or the governors. Because he was so outstanding, the king considered putting him in charge of the whole empire. 4Then the other supervisors and the governors tried to find something wrong with the way Daniel administered the empire, but they couldn't, because Daniel was reliable and did not do anything wrong or dishonest. 5They said to one another, “We are not going to find anything of which to accuse Daniel unless it is something in connection with his religion.”
6So they went to see the king and said, “King Darius, may Your Majesty live for ever! 7All of us who administer your empire — the supervisors, the governors, the lieutenant-governors, and the other officials — have agreed that Your Majesty should issue an order and enforce it strictly. Give orders that for thirty days no one be permitted to request anything from any god or from any human being except from Your Majesty. Anyone who violates this order is to be thrown into a pit filled with lions. 8So let Your Majesty issue this order and sign it, and it will be in force, a law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be changed.” 9And so King Darius signed the order. 10When Daniel learnt that the order had been signed, he went home. In an upstairs room of his house there were windows that faced towards Jerusalem. There, just as he had always done, he knelt down at the open windows and prayed to God three times a day.
11When Daniel's enemies observed him praying to God, 12all of them went together to the king to accuse Daniel. They said, “Your Majesty, you signed an order that for the next thirty days anyone who requested anything from any god or from any human being except you, would be thrown into a pit filled with lions.”
The king replied, “Yes, a strict order, a law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be changed.”
13Then they said to the king, “Daniel, one of the exiles from Judah, does not respect Your Majesty or obey the order you issued. He prays regularly three times a day.”
14When the king heard this, he was upset and did his best to find some way to rescue Daniel. He kept trying until sunset. 15Then Daniel's enemies came back to the king and said to him, “Your Majesty knows that according to the laws of the Medes and Persians no order which the king issues can be changed.”
16So the king gave orders for Daniel to be arrested and he was thrown into the pit filled with lions. He said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve so loyally, rescue you.” 17A stone was put over the mouth of the pit, and the king placed his own royal seal and the seal of his noblemen on the stone, so that no one could rescue Daniel. 18Then the king returned to the palace and spent a sleepless night, without food or any form of entertainment.
19At dawn the king got up and hurried to the pit. 20When he got there, he called out anxiously, “Daniel, servant of the living God! Was the God you serve so loyally able to save you from the lions?”
21Daniel answered, “May Your Majesty live for ever! 22God sent his angel to shut the mouths of the lions so that they would not hurt me. He did this because he knew that I was innocent and because I have not wronged you, Your Majesty.”
23The king was overjoyed and gave orders for Daniel to be pulled up out of the pit. So they pulled him up and saw that he had not been hurt at all, for he trusted God. 24Then the king gave orders to arrest all the men who had accused Daniel, and they were thrown, together with their wives and their children, into the pit filled with lions. Before they even reached the bottom of the pit, the lions pounced on them and broke all their bones.
25Then King Darius wrote to the people of all nations, races, and languages on earth:
“Greetings! 26I command that throughout my empire everyone should fear and respect Daniel's God.
“He is a living God,
and he will rule for ever.
His kingdom will never be destroyed,
and his power will never come to an end.
27He saves and rescues;
he performs wonders and miracles
in heaven and on earth.
He saved Daniel from being killed by the lions.”
28Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
Daniel's Vision of the Four Beasts
1In the first year that Belshazzar was king of Babylonia, I had a dream and saw a vision in the night. I wrote the dream down, and this is the record 2of what I saw that night:
Winds were blowing from all directions and lashing the surface of the ocean. 3Four huge beasts came up out of the ocean, each one different from the others. 4The first one looked like a lion, but had wings like an eagle. While I was watching, the wings were torn off. The beast was lifted up and made to stand upright. And then a human mind was given to it.
5The second beast looked like a bear standing on its hind legs. It was holding three ribs between its teeth, and a voice said to it, “Go on, eat as much meat as you can!”
6While I was watching, another beast appeared. It looked like a leopard, but on its back there were four wings, like the wings of a bird, and it had four heads. It had a look of authority about it.
7As I was watching, a fourth beast appeared. It was powerful, horrible, terrifying. With its huge iron teeth it crushed its victims, and then it trampled on them. Unlike the other beasts, it had ten horns. 8While I was staring at the horns, I saw a little horn coming up among the others. It tore out three of the horns that were already there. This horn had human eyes and a mouth that was boasting proudly.
The Vision of the One who has been Living for Ever
9While I was looking, thrones were put in place. One who had been living for ever sat down on one of the thrones. His clothes were white as snow, and his hair was like pure wool. His throne, mounted on fiery wheels, was blazing with fire, 10and a stream of fire was pouring out from it. There were many thousands of people there to serve him, and millions of people stood before him. The court began its session, and the books were opened.
11While I was looking, I could still hear the little horn bragging and boasting. As I watched, the fourth beast was killed, and its body was thrown into the flames and destroyed. 12The other beasts had their power taken away, but they were permitted to go on living for a limited time.
13During this vision in the night, I saw what looked like a human being. He was approaching me, surrounded by clouds, and he went to the one who had been living for ever and was presented to him. 14He was given authority, honour, and royal power, so that the people of all nations, races, and languages would serve him. His authority would last for ever, and his kingdom would never end.
The Visions are Explained
15The visions I saw alarmed me, and I was deeply disturbed.16I went up to one of those standing there and asked him to explain it all. So he told me the meaning. 17He said, “These four huge beasts are four empires which will arise on earth. 18And the people of the Supreme God will receive royal power and keep it for ever and ever.”
19Then I wanted to know more about the fourth beast, which was not like any of the others — the terrifying beast which crushed its victims with its bronze claws and iron teeth and then trampled on them. 20And I wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and the horn that had come up afterwards and had made three of the horns fall. It had eyes and a mouth and was boasting proudly. It was more terrifying than any of the others.
21While I was looking, that horn made war on God's people and conquered them. 22Then the one who had been living for ever came and pronounced judgement in favour of the people of the Supreme God. The time had arrived for God's people to receive royal power.
23This is the explanation I was given: “The fourth beast is a fourth empire that will be on the earth and will be different from all other empires. It will crush the whole earth and trample it down. 24The ten horns are ten kings who will rule that empire. Then another king will appear; he will be very different from the earlier ones and will overthrow three kings. 25He will speak against the Supreme God and oppress God's people. He will try to change their religious laws and festivals, and God's people will be under his power for 3.5 years. 26Then the heavenly court will sit in judgement, take away his power, and destroy him completely. 27The power and greatness of all the kingdoms on earth will be given to the people of the Supreme God. Their royal power will never end and all rulers on earth will serve and obey them.”
28This is the end of the account. I was so frightened that I turned pale, and I kept everything to myself.