"Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin"

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Last Updated on May 24, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 187

Context: King Belshazar of Babylonia, during a tremendous feast for his court, demands the gold and silver drinking vessels, confiscated from the temple in Jerusalem by his father, King Nebuchadnezzar. When the feasting court starts drinking from the vessels and praising idols, the fingers of a man's hand appear and write some unintelligible words on the wall. After the wise men of the nation fail to explain the writing, the queen suggests that Daniel, an exile of Judah who had interpreted dreams for Nebuchadnezzar, be called. Daniel reminds Belshazar that God struck his father with madness, removing his power, until he humbled himself before Him. Adding that Belshazar, too, has been arrogant and has followed other gods, Daniel states that God sent the mysterious hand:

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And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.
This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.
TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. . . .
In that night was Belshazar the king of the Chaldeans slain.

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