1. King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for his noblemen, a thousand of them, and, in the presence of this thousand, he drank his wine.
2. Having tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave orders for the gold and silver vessels to be brought which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the sanctuary in Jerusalem, so that the king, his noblemen, his wives and the women who sang for him could drink out of them.
3. The gold and silver vessels taken from the sanctuary of the Temple of God in Jerusalem were brought in, and the king, his noblemen, his wives and the women who sang for him drank out of them.
4. They drank their wine and praised their idols of gold and silver, of bronze and iron, of wood and stone.
5. Suddenly, the fingers of a human hand appeared and began to write on the plaster of the palace wall, directly behind the lamp-stand; and the king could see the hand as it wrote.
6. The king turned pale with alarm: his hip-joints went slack and his knees began to knock.
7. He shouted for his soothsayers, Chaldaeans, and exorcists. And the king said to the Babylonian sages, 'Anyone who can read this writing and tell me what it means shall be dressed in purple, and have a chain of gold put round his neck, and be one of the three men who govern the kingdom.'
8. The king's sages all crowded forward, but they could neither read the writing nor explain to the king what it meant.
9. Greatly alarmed, King Belshazzar turned even paler, and his noblemen were equally disturbed.
10. Then the queen, attracted by the noise made by the king and his noblemen, came into the banqueting hall. 'May Your Majesty live for ever!' said the queen. 'Do not be alarmed, do not look so pale.
11. In your kingdom there is a man in whom lives the spirit of the holy gods. In your father's days he was known for a perception, intelligence and wisdom comparable to that of the gods. King Nebuchadnezzar, your father, made him head of the magicians, soothsayers, Chaldaeans and exorcists.
12. Since this man Daniel, whom the king had renamed Belteshazzar, is filled with such a marvellous spirit and such knowledge and intelligence in interpreting dreams, solving enigmas and unravelling difficult problems, send for him; he will be able to tell you what this means.'
13. Daniel was brought into the king's presence; the king said to Daniel, 'Are you the Daniel who was one of the Judaean exiles brought by my father the king from Judah?
14. I am told that the spirit of the gods lives in you, and that you are known for your perception, intelligence and marvellous wisdom.
15. The sages and soothsayers have already been brought to me to read this writing and tell me what it means, but they have been unable to reveal its meaning.
16. I am told that you are able to give interpretations and to unravel difficult problems, so if you can read the writing and tell me what it means, you shall be dressed in purple, and have a chain of gold put round your neck, and be one of the three men who govern the kingdom.'
17. Then Daniel spoke up in the presence of the king. 'Keep your gifts for yourself,' he said, 'and give your rewards to others! I can certainly read the writing to the king and tell him what it means.
18. Your Majesty, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father sovereignty, greatness, majesty and glory.
19. He made him so great that all peoples, nations and languages shook with dread before him: he killed whom he pleased, spared whom he pleased, promoted whom he pleased, degraded whom he pleased.
20. But because his heart grew swollen with pride, and his spirit stiff with arrogance, he was deposed from his sovereign throne and stripped of his glory.
21. He was driven from human society, his heart was more like an animal's than a man's; he lived with the wild donkeys; he fed on grass like oxen; his body was drenched by the dew of heaven, until he had learnt that the Most High rules over human sovereignty and appoints whom he pleases to rule it.
22. But you, Belshazzar, who are his son, you have not humbled your heart, in spite of knowing all this.
23. You have defied the Lord of heaven, you have had the vessels from his Temple brought to you, and you, your noblemen, your wives and the women singing for you have drunk your wine out of them. You have praised gods of gold and silver, of bronze and iron, of wood and stone, which can neither see, hear nor understand; but you have given no glory to the God in whose hands are your breath itself and all your fortunes.
24. That is why he has sent the hand which has written these words.
25. The writing reads: mene, mene, teqel and parsin.
26. The meaning of the words is this: mene: God has measured your sovereignty and put an end to it;
27. teqel: you have been weighed in the balance and found wanting;
28. parsin: your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and the Persians.'
29. At Belshazzar's order Daniel was dressed in purple, a chain of gold was put round his neck and he was proclaimed as one of the three men who governed the kingdom.
30. That same night, the Chaldaean king Belshazzar was murdered,