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

Sequel of Events - Daniel 5:29-31

Like Mordecai (Esther 8:15), Daniel wears the purple robe of royalty, and like Joseph in Egypt (Genesis 41:42), he wears a golden chain of honor around his neck, both articles being symbolic of rule. A similar reward is promised to overcomers by Christ.

To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne (Revelation 3:21).

How insignificant is the end of the greatest world empire in God’s eye; He inspires Daniel to record it in a single sentence.

That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two.

Daniel was about eighty-one years old when Darius the Mede at age sixty-two began to reign at Babylon. However, it is not the time for Daniel to retire. There is much to do and more for God to reveal to him.

Scholars disagree on the identification of Darius. Most recent research, however, favors the view that he was Gubaru (Gobryas), the man whom King Cyrus appointed governor of Babylon (see A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 372-374). Gubaru was born in 601 B.C., thus he
would have been sixty-two as Daniel indicated.

Archaeological discoveries from this period, and historians near to it, provide a vivid picture of what happened that night. A brief summary of the fall of Babylon follows.

In the last year of Nabonidus, the Babylon Chronicle records that the gods of the cities around Babylon, except Borsippa, Kutha and Sippar, were brought up in, and action taken only at the sign of impending war. The Persian army clashed with the Babylonians at Opis. While in the city Nabonidus seems to have quelled a popular uprising with much bloodshed. Sippar fell to the Persian army led by Ugbaru, the district governor of Gutium, who entered Babylon the next day without a battle. This ease of entry may have been due to action by fifth columnists or, as Herodotus, asserts, to the diversion of the River Euphrates which rendered the flood defenses useless and enabled the invaders to march through the dried up river bed to enter by night. Belshazzar was killed and Gutean soldiers guarded the temple area of Esagila where services
continued without a break. Sixteen days later on 29 October 539 Cyrus himself entered amid public rejoicing. A peace settlement was reached quickly and Gubaru appointed sub-governor. The fall of Babylon and coming of Cyrus is mentioned frequently in the OT (Isaiah 13:14; 21:1-10; 44:28; 47:1-5; Jeremiah 50-51). Cyrus decreed religious freedom and the restoration of national shrines. Since Judah had no statues to be restored, compensation was granted (Ezra 1). (ZPEB, 1:446).

An inscription made by Cyrus reads, “Without any battle, he (that is Marduk) made him enter his town Babylon, sparing Babylon any calamity. He delivered into his hands Nabonidus, the king, who did not worship him.” This inscription also tells how Cyrus was welcomed by the entire population (ANET, 315-316).

The Nabonidus Chronicle tells of Cyrus’ approach to Babylon, of his defeating one city after another as he came, and of Nabonidus’ flight from before him at Sippar on the fourteenth of Tishri (October 10, 539 B.C.). Cyrus’ commander Ugbaru (often called Gobryas) is the one who entered Babylon without a battle on the sixteenth of the same month. On the third of the month Mardchesvan (October 29, 539 B.C.), Cyrus himself entered Babylon and was welcomed with “green twigs” spread before him, and later the same month, the “?” of the king died.

The corrupted text might be “son,” “wife,” “commander” or something else. It cannot refer to Belshazzar since Daniel recorded “that very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain.” Xenophon says that Belshazzar was slain by two lords, Gadatas and Gobrias, who joined Cyrus to avenge themselves of certain wrongs, which he had done them.

All accounts agree that the city of Babylon was conquered with little loss of life. It took three days for many to discover they were citizens of a new empire.

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