The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Prophecy of Daniel
Now turn we to king Baltassar, that made great cheer for courtiers of his a thousand, each man drinking wine as his rank entitled him.✻
And he, in his cups, would have the spoils of the old temple at Jerusalem brought in, cups of gold, cups of silver that his father Nabuchodonosor had carried away; king and court, wife and concubine should drink from them.
Brought in they were, all the spoils of Jerusalem; king and courtier, wife and concubine, drank from those vessels;
drank, and to their own gods gave the praise, gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.
Then, in that hour, an apparition came to them. They saw the fingers of a man’s hand writing on the plaster of the palace wall, full in the lamp’s light; joints of a hand that wrote there the king could not choose but see.
All at once he changed colour, a prey to anxious thoughts; melted his heart within him, and his knees knocked together.
With a loud cry, he bade them summon the wise men of Babylon, sage and astrologer and diviner; and to these he made proclamation: Who reads me yonder writing, and tells me the meaning of it, shall go clad in purple, a gold chain about his neck, and hold the third place in my kingdom.
But when they came into the banqueting-hall, never a wise head among them could read the characters, nor tell the king what they meant;
whereupon king Baltassar was in a great taking of fear, his cheeks paler yet, and his princes were no easier in mind than himself.
But now all this ado brought the queen-mother down into the banqueting-hall; Long life to the king’s grace! cried she; here is no need for daunted hearts and pale looks!
One man thou hast in thy realm the holy gods inspire; in thy father’s time, good proof he gave of the wisdom and learning that were his. Did not thy father, king Nabuchodonosor, put him at the head of his wise men one and all, sage nor wizard nor astrologer nor soothsayer to match him? In such renown thy royal father held him, my lord king;
no common spirit is his, no common prudence and discernment, dreams to interpret, hidden things to reveal, spells to unbind. For his name, it is Daniel; thy father called him Baltassar. Let Daniel be summoned, and thy riddle shall not long go unread.
So Daniel was brought into the king’s presence, and the king asked him if Daniel he were, one of the Jewish exiles his father had brought to Babylon?
Great things were told of him; that he had the spirit of the gods, gave proof of skill, discernment and wisdom above the common.
And here was certain writing, that had baffled sage and diviner called in to read them; meaning of it they could not tell.
If Daniel had skill indeed to reveal mysteries and unbind spells, let him read those characters and interpret them; robe of purple he should have, and a gold chain about his neck, and hold the third place in the kingdom.
But Daniel spoke out, there in the king’s presence: Purple and gold keep for thyself; and for thy honours, let him have them who will. But for the writing, I will read it willingly, and tell thee the meaning of it.
Sir king, thy father was Nabuchodonosor; to him the most High gave royal state, and splendid renown;
for that renown of his, every people and race and tribe must tremble in awe of him; slew he, smote he, exalted he, abased he, all he would.
With that, his heart beat high; proud grew his will and obstinate; and the issue of it? From that throne he must come down, be shorn of that glory;
cast out henceforth from the haunts of men. Heart of beast the heart of him; dwelling-place of wild ass should be his, food of the ox; and the dews of heaven should drench him, till he had learned that the most High is overlord of all human kingship, grants it to whom he will.
All this, Baltassar, thou knewest, yet son no more than father would abate his pride;
heaven’s Ruler defying, thou wouldst bring out yonder cups, the spoil of his temple, to serve wine for thee and thy court, for wife and concubine. Gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, stone and wood, that cannot see or hear or feel, thou wouldst magnify; for the God that holds thy life, thy fortunes, in his keeping, never a word of praise.
That is why the hand appeared to thee, fingers that wrote what there stands written.
This is the charactery of it: Mané, Thecel, Phares.
Mané betokens numbering; so many years allotted to thy empire, and now God has brought them to an end.
And thecel, weighing; the equal of his benefits God demands, and has not found in thee.
And phares, rending; Persian and Mede shall be thy successors in the kingdom that is torn from thy grasp.
With that, at the royal bidding, they clothed Daniel in purple, and hung a chain of gold about his neck; proclamation, too, was made that he held the third place in the kingdom.
But that same night Baltassar, the Chaldaean king, was slain,
and his crown passed to Darius, a Mede, then in the sixty-third year of his age.✻
The Holy Bible