The Handwriting's on the Wall!
Could it be that an old cliché points to the 2520? When we hear the common saying "The hand-writing's on the wall" we know that it means that something will undoubtedly fail and come to its end real soon.
In the very next chapter after Nebuchadnezzar's experience with the 2520 we find it again. There is no coincidences in the Bible and I believe this is a very important lesson to learn; with careful study using established principles of prophetic understanding the Bible opens itself up like a treasure chest.
Daniel 5:1 Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.
2 Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein.
3 Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them.
4 They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.
Above we see that Belshazzar, grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, was defiling the LORD's sacred vessels used to carry out the ceremonial law in the Israelite temple which pointed to the very plan of salvation for all sinners. Moreover we see that he blasphemed God by praising false gods while drinking wine from the sacred vessels.
In Daniel 4:37 we read: "Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase." Nebuchadnezzar had learned to worship the one true God in heaven, and I'm sure that he would have taught this to his grandson Belshazzar. Belshazzar's father Nabonidus* (see bottom of page) would have undoubtedly ruled in Nebuchadnezzar's stead while he was in the field living as an animal and the whole nation after this experience would be compelled by what they had witnessed that the LORD is the one and only true God. It was open rebellion and hunger for power that brought Belshazzar to make such a grievous crime against God.
Why did Belshazzar choose to use the Judaic sanctuary vessels anyway? Why not the vessels from any of the other captured nations? Why not commission great and glorious vessels with his face on them to drink and eat out of? it was because Belshazzar was familiar with those particular vessels and with God. He was rebelling against his father, grandfather and the one true God in Heaven to which he grew up being taught to revere. At that moment in his drunkenness he wished to portray himself as the most powerful ruler ever! Maybe someone at this drunken feast warned that the Medes and Persians camped outside the city and that it was predicted that Babylon would fall by the God of his grandfather. I his drunken rage he could have said "I show you what I think of this God, I'm more powerful than he is! Bring me the vessels of His temple and I'll show you that the gods of silver and gold have more power than this unseen God" God is merciful to the ignorant but he can not allow those who know the truth to openly violate the sacredness of His possessions.
Daniel 5:5 In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.
6 Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.
7 The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.
8 Then came in all the king's wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof.
9 Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied.
Daniel 5:10 Now the queen, by reason of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed:
11 There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers;
12 Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation.
13 Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry?
14 I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee.
15 And now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof: but they could not shew the interpretation of the thing:
16 And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom.
17 Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.
18 O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour:
19 And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down.
20 But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him:
21 And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will.
22 And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this;
23 But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified:
24 Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written.
25 And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.
On that occasion, when in the very midst of their revelry, when God was forgotten, when the carnal senses were inflamed, a thrill of terror rushed through every soul. The cup that was being praised and idolized by the king fell from his nerveless hand, and in the language of the Spirit of God, his "countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another." A mysterious, bloodless hand was seen tracing characters on the wall. These mysterious fingers belonging to and guided by an unseen power wrote the mysterious characters, which were unintelligible to the awe-stricken revellers. A light like the lightning followed the forming of every letter, and lingered there, making them living characters of awful and terrible significance to all who looked upon them. "Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin." Their very ignorance of those letters traced upon the wall, standing there flashing with light, sent terror to their sinful hearts. Their aroused consciences interpreted these letters to be a denunciation against them. Suspicion, fear, and alarm took hold upon king and princes.
Belshazzar, awed by this representation of God's power, showing that they had a witness, though they knew it not, had had great opportunities of knowing the works of the living God, and His power, and of doing His will. He had been privileged with much light. His grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar, had been warned of his danger in forgetting God and glorifying himself. Belshazzar had a knowledge of his banishment from the society of men, and his association with the beasts of the field; and these facts, which ought to have been a lesson to him, he disregarded, as if they had never occurred; and he went on repeating the sins of his grandfather. He dared to commit the crimes which brought God's judgments upon Nebuchadnezzar. He was condemned, not alone that he himself was doing wickedly, but that he had not availed himself of opportunities and capabilities, if cultivated, of being right.
26 This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.
27 TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
28 PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.
29 Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin
These words are interesting, they are actually Aramaic words. They may have been written in another language but according to Strong's Concordance these words are common Aramaic words. So the king may truly have not been able to read what was written but what is more likely is he was able to read it; he just did not understand what message was behind the words. In verses 26 - 28 Daniel gives the meanings while Strong's Concordance indentifies that Peres and Upharsin are the same word. So mene, mene, tekel, uparsin would be literally interpreted "number, number, weight, divide. Although Daniel sums it up very well a student of the Bible will be drawn to the fact that there are two "mene"s. While the message that Daniel relays needs but one "mene" the words written on the wall have two.
Daniel provided Belshazzar with the divine interpretation of the meaning of those words, but those words also represent coinage of that time period, that when added together equal 2,520.
• A "MENE" was a coin that represented fifty shekels.
• A "TEKEL" is the Babylonian expression for shekel.
• "UPHARSIN" represents half a "MENE."
The Bible tells us a shekel is 20 gerahs.
"This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel is twenty gerahs:) an half shekel shall be the offering of the LORD." Exodus 30:13. This is also mentioned in Leviticus 27:25, Numbers 3:47, Numbers 18:16 and Ezekiel 45:12
A "MENE" therefore is 50 shekels, which equates to 50x20 or 1,000 gerahs.
"MENE, MENE" therefore equates to 2,000 gerahs.
A "TEKEL" is a shekel, which equates to 20 gerahs.
Therefore "MENE, MENE, TEKEL" equates to 2,020 gerahs.
A "UPHARSIN" is understood as one half of a "MENE," so a "UPHARSIN" represents 500 gerahs.
When we therefore calculate the sum of these words we get: 2520
Shekel Gerah MENE 50 1000 MENE 50 1000 TEKEL 1 20 UPHARSIN 25 500 Total 126 2520
Nebuchadnezzar lost his kingdom for "seven times," that is 2,520 days, and the loss of his kingdom typifies Belshazzar’s lost kingdom. Belshazzar’s judgment is also symbolically represented by 2,520; for the pronouncement of "MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN" is a mathematical formula that adds up to 2,520.
Belshazzar saw the number on the wall and he didn’t understand what it meant. But when Daniel sees it he realizes right away that this was not a good thing. You see, Daniel understood what the 2520 meant—scattering. He knew it meant God’s judgment on the kingdom. That’s why he said, ‘Your kingdom is weighed and wanting, divided, numbered and finished!’ The Bible warns us "Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:" Mark 3:28-29
God will suffer long with sinners but there is a line He will not allow anyone to cross and Belshazzar's open and deliberate blasphemy could not be tolerated. Belshazzar was scattered never to be gathered again. His grandfather was allowed a second chance when he was scattered and gathered during his literal 2520 and that was all the warning Belshazzar needed to make his final decision a permanently fatal one.
Daniel 5:30 In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain.
31 And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.
Cylinder Seal of Nabonidus
For many years, no one knew why Belshazzar promised the interpreter only the position of ‘third ruler’ in the kingdom. Then when they found certain clay tablets and seals they learned that Belshazzar was only second ruler because his father Nabonidus was still also king.
"And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him. And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son's son, until the very time of his land come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him." Jeremiah 27:6