“Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand.”
Several years transpired between chapters 4 and 5, and several kings ruled during that time. Nebuchadnezzar is now gone. Nabonidus married Nebuchadnezzar’s daughter, who was a widow of a previous king (Neriglissar), and she bore him a son by the name of Belshazzar. Nabonidus and Belshazzar ruled as co-regents 23 years after Nebuchadnezzar died. About 70 years have elapsed since the capture of Jerusalem. The Persians had captured Nabonidus by the time Daniel five was written.
This chapter describes the downfall of the Neo-Babylonian Empire.
1 Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand.
Critics aggressively attack the idea that “Belshazzar” ever lived. They say he most certainly was not a king in Babylon. However, recent discoveries of Babylonian cuneiform BEL-SHARRA-UTSUR, “Bel protect the king,” show that Belshazzar was a real person. He was the eldest son of Nabonidus (born 575 B.C.). He was fourteen years old when Nebuchadnezzar died. He was twenty years old when his father Nabonidus, ascended the throne. At twenty-seven years of age, he was the commander-in-chief of the army. We know much more about his worship and other activities.
Archeology discovered the Annalistic Tablet of Cyrus, showing the death of Belshazzar. This tablet describes the fall of Babylon. The capture of Nabonidus by the Persians made Belshazzar the king. Later, the Persians took Babylon very easily (cf. 5:30,31). Cyrus says that when Babylon fell, “the king’s son died.” Daniel says, “that night Belshazzar was slain.”
The name Belshazzar fell out of known recorded history. Herodotus visited Babylon around 460 B.C. and did not mention Belshazzar. No other historian heard of him. The critics were clearly wrong by following ancient historians. No historian today denies the authenticity of Belshazzar. Far from error, the name Belshazzar stands as a witness to the authenticity of Scripture. The critics are also wrong about many other things. Archeology will eventually manifest the truth of Scripture.
King Belshazzar gathered a thousand people to a huge feast in Babylon. Outside of Babylon, the Persian armies of King Darius laid siege to the city for four months. Belshazzar did not believe that the Persians could conquer Babylon.
Belshazzar was decadent and dissolute. Although he was co-regent with his father Nabonidus, he sat in the seat of regency the night Babylon fell.
Archeology established the truth of Scripture.
Critics constantly meet their comeuppance. They claimed that there was no such person as Belshazzar in extra-biblical literature. Since there was no mention of Belshazzar in ancient historians such as Xenophon, Herodotus, Berosus, and Abydenus, they assumed that he was a mythical figure. All critics agreed that Nabonidus was the last king of Babylon. They discredited Daniel.
When archaeologists discovered “The Nabonidus Cylinder,” they found the first record of Belshazzar. This “Cylinder” is now in the British Museum. There is no adequate basis for questioning the existence of Belshazzar since the publication of Raymond Dougherty’s research on Nabonidus and Belshazzar based on the Nabonidus Cylinder and other sources. Again, the critics meet their comeuppance.