Decoding Daniel - an in depth Bible study of the book of Daniel

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Daniel 5

Outline and Background of Daniel 5

Sacrilege of Belshazzar - Daniel 5:1-4

Shock of Belshazzar - Daniel 5:5-6

Summons of the Wise Men and Solution of the Queen - Daniel 5:7-17

Sermon from Daniel - Daniel 5:18-25

Significance of the Handwriting - Daniel 5:26-28

Sequel of Events - Daniel 5:29-31

Applications and Typical Prophecies - Daniel 5

Outline and Background - Daniel 5

Outline of Chapter Five

Sacrilege of Belshazzar, 1-4
Shock of Belshazzar, 5-6
Summons of the Wise Men, 7-9
Solution of the Queen, 10-17
Sermon from Daniel, 18-25
Significance of the Handwriting, 26-28
Sequel of Events, 29-31




Timeline to Daniel 5

Background of Chapter Five

Most likely affected by his father’s conversion, Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Amel-Marduk (known in the Bible as Evil-Merodach) showed kindness to the Judean king Jehoiachin, who had been imprisoned by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 25:27-30). This kindness could be an indication that Evil-Merodach had been converted. This action may have led to his being killed by Neriglissar, his brother-in law, in 559 B.C. Neriglissar’s biblical name is Nergal-sharezer, the official under Nebuchadnezzar, who apparently was involved in helping release Jeremiah from prison (Jeremiah 39:3, 13). Time had not been good to Neriglissar; instead of ascending in virtue, he descended.

After the death of Evil-Merodach, war broke out between Babylon and the Medes and Persians. Neriglissar ascended to the throne of Babylon, reigned for about four years, and died in battle in 556 B.C. Then his son, Labashi-Marduk, having reigned for less than a year, was beaten to death by conspirators and the throne was seized by Nabonidus, who reigned from 555 B.C. to the fall of Babylon in 539 B.C.

In a libel known as The Verse Account of Nabonidus, the king is accused of being a madman, a liar boasting of victories he had never won, and a heretic who blasphemed Marduk and worshiped the deity Sin. Because of his lengthy excavations in search of written documents,
Nabonidus has been called “the Royal Archaeologist.” While he devoted himself to excavating ruins, his own realm was falling into ruins.

In contrast to Nabonidus stands Cyrus II, who ascended the Persian throne in 559 B.C. He lacked neither ambition nor intelligence.

The Persians were an Indo-European speaking people, who had entered Iran from the north at the end of the second millennium—at the same time as the Medes, who were closely related to the Persians. By the time of Cyrus II, the Persians had reversed the role of being a vassal of the Medes. In 550 B.C., Cyrus II became ruler of both the Persian and Media kingdoms (Ancient Iraq, 352-354).

When Nabonidus captured Tema, the oasis city which lies south of Edom in Arabia, he set up his palace there. While Nabonidus was establishing a new military and commercial fortress at Tema, Belshazzar was left in full control of the army of Babylon from at least 553 to 539

B.C. Because of this, the famous Nabonidus Chronicle inferred correctly that the “crown prince” (obviously Belshazzar) was regarded as “king.” In A.D. 1919 and 1924, oaths were found between Nabonidus and Belshazzar entrusting the kingship in Babylon to Belshazzar while Nabonidus reigned from Arabia.

The liberal scholarship that denied the historicity of major portions of Daniel had been wrong. Daniel is solidly grounded upon historical realities. Only a person writing from this period could have known correctly this detail about these two rulers. All should take to heart Jesus’ rebuke of Cleopas and the other traveler on the road to Emmaus, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25).

The main character of this chapter is Belshazzar, the son of Nabonidus and grandson of Nebuchadnezzar. There is no word in Aramaic for grandfather. So the word “father” is often used of ancestors.

This chapter covers the last night of the Babylonian Empire. The date is the fifteenth of Tishri (October 12/13) 539 B.C. On Israel’s calendar, it is the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, which typifies the Millennial Kingdom. The prophet Jeremiah had predicted this time would come.

All nations will serve him and his son and his grandson until the time for his land comes; then many nations and great kings will subjugate him (Jeremiah 27:7).

This chapter is similar to the book of Esther. It begins with a great banquet; the queen plays an important role in the outcome; then it ends with the villain killed and its hero rewarded.

The most dramatic moments in this chapter are the supernatural appearance of the fingers of a human hand, writing on the wall, and Daniel’s interpretation of the cryptic writing.

Chapter one and chapter five are contrasts. In chapter one, there is restraint in eating and the drinking of wine; Daniel is on the rise in the Babylonian empire. In chapter five, there is no restraint in feasting and the drinking of wine; Belshazzar falls with the Babylonian empire.

Bible Studies by Bob Conway>

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