Daniel 5:30 Index
"In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain."
Research Material

"In that night was Belshazzar... slain" (Ecclesiastes 2:26; Jeremiah 51:24; Jeremiah 51:33; Jeremiah 51:37; Jeremiah 51:53-58)

  • Although Belshazzar is not mentioned in the cuneiform sources describing the fall of Babylon, Xenophon declares that "the impious king" of Babylon, whose name is not mentioned in the account, was slain when Cyrus' army commander Gobryas entered the palace (Cyropaedia vii. 5, 30). Although it must be recognized that Xenophon's narrative is not historically reliable in all details, many of his statements are based on fact. According to cuneiform sources Nabonidus was absent from Babylon at the time of its capture. When Nabonidus surrendered, Cyrus sent him to distant Carmania. Therefore the king who was slain during the capture of Babylon could have been none other than Belshazzar. (4BC 805)
  • The scene here so briefly mentioned is described in remarks on Daniel 2:39. While Belshazzar was indulging in his presumptuous revelry, while the angel's hand was tracing the doom of the empire on walls of the palace, while Daniel was making known the fearful import of the heavenly writing, the Persian soldiery, through the emptied channel of the Euphrates, had made their way into the heart of the city, and were speeding forward with drawn swords to the palace of the king. Scarcely can it be said that they surprised him, for God had just forewarned him of his doom. But they found him and slew him, and in that hour the empire of Babylon ceased to be. (US 95)
  • Scarcely had the scarlet robe been placed on Daniel and the golden chain hung about his neck, when the shouts of the invading army rang through the palace. (SNH 84)
  • In the midst of their feasting and rioting, none had noticed that the waters in the Euphrates were steadily diminishing. The besieging army of Cyrus, which had long been held at bay by the massive walls, was eagerly watching the river. The river had been turned from its course, and as soon as the water had sufficiently subsided to allow the men a passage in the bed of the river, they entered from opposite sides of the city. In their reckless feeling of security, the Babylonians had left open the gates in the walls which lined the river-banks inside the city. So the Persians, once in the river-bed, easily entered the city through the open gates. (SNH 84-85)
  • Soon one post was running to "meet another, and one messenger to meet another," (Jeremiah 51:31). But the news was received too late to save the king. The enemy made a rush for the palace. The pen of Inspiration describes the overthrow of the kingdom more vividly than any human historian. Of those guests at the banquet of Belshazzar it is said, "I will make them drunken, that they may rejoice, and sleep a perpetual sleep, and not awake (Jeremiah 51:39) . . . I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter." (Jeremiah 51:40). Then as if the eye of the prophet failed to separate Satan from the kingdom which he had so long controlled, he exclaims, "How is Sheshach taken! and how is the praise of the whole earth surprised! How is Babylon become an astonishment among the nations!" (Jeremiah 51:41). Fire raged through the streets, and as the people realized that destruction was upon them, their cry reached heaven. It was a hand-to-hand fight with fire and sword until men grew weary and gave up the struggle. (SNH 85)
  • ...and the kingdom was given to Darius, the aged king of the Medes. Thus came to an end one of the proudest monarchies that has ever been upon the earth. When an individual or a nation fills up the cup of iniquity and passes the limit of God's mercy, it is quickly humbled in the dust. (SNH 85-86)
  • More than a century before, Inspiration had foretold that “the night of ... pleasure” (Isaiah 21:4) during which king and counselors would vie with one another in blasphemy against God, would suddenly be changed into a season of fear and destruction. And now, in rapid succession, momentous events followed one another exactly as had been portrayed in the prophetic scriptures years before the principals in the drama had been born.
    • While still in the festal hall, surrounded by those whose doom has been sealed, the king is informed by a messenger that “his city is taken” (Jeremiah 51:31) by the enemy against whose devices he had felt so secure; “that the passages are stopped, ... and the men of war are affrighted”(Jeremiah 51:32). Even while he and his nobles were drinking from the sacred vessels of Jehovah, and praising their gods of silver and of gold, the Medes and the Persians, having turned the Euphrates out of its channel, were marching into the heart of the unguarded city. The army of Cyrus now stood under the walls of the palace; the city was filled with the soldiers of the enemy, “as with caterpillars” (Jeremiah 51:14); and their triumphant shouts could be heard above the despairing cries of the astonished revelers.
    • In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain,” and an alien monarch sat upon the throne.
    • Clearly had the Hebrew prophets spoken concerning the manner in which Babylon should fall. As in vision God had revealed to them the events of the future, they had exclaimed: “How is Sheshach taken! and how is the praise of the whole earth surprised! how is Babylon become an astonishment among the nations!” (Jeremiah 51:41). “How is the hammer of the whole earth cut asunder and broken! how is Babylon become a desolation among the nations!” (Jeremiah 50:23). “At the noise of the taking of Babylon the earth is moved, and the cry is heard among the nations (Jeremiah 50:46).
    • Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed” (Jeremiah 51:8). “The spoiler is come upon her, even upon Babylon, and her mighty men are taken, every one of their bows is broken: for the Lord God of recompenses shall surely requite" (Jeremiah 51:56). "And I will make drunk her princes, and her wise men, her captains, and her rulers, and her mighty men: and they shall sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the King, whose name is the Lord of hosts” (Jeremiah 51:57).
    • I have laid a snare for thee, and thou art also taken, O Babylon, and thou wast not aware: thou art found, and also caught, because thou hast striven against the Lord" (Jeremiah 50:24). "The Lord hath opened His armory, and hath brought forth the weapons of His indignation: for this is the work of the Lord God of hosts in the land of the Chaldeans” (Jeremiah 50:25).
    • Thus saith the Lord of hosts; The children of Israel and the children of Judah were oppressed together: and all that took them captives held them fast; they refused to let them go" (Jeremiah 50:33). "Their Redeemer is strong; the Lord of hosts is His name: He shall throughly plead their cause, that He may give rest to the land, and disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon” (Jeremiah 50:34).
    • Thus “the broad walls of Babylon” became “utterly broken, and her high gates ... burned with fire” (Jeremiah 51:58). Thus did Jehovah of hosts “cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease,” and lay low “the haughtiness of the terrible” (Isaiah 13:11). Thus did “Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency,” become as "Sodom and Gomorrah" (Isaiah 13:19) - a place forever accursed. “It shall never be inhabited,” inspiration has declared, “neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there" (Isaiah 13:20). "But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there" (Isaiah 13:21). "And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces” (Isaiah 13:22). “I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 14:23).
    • To the last ruler of Babylon, as in type to its first, had come the sentence of the divine Watcher: “O king, ... to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.” Daniel 4:31. (PK 531-533)
  • “So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” The picture is true for all time. You may plan for merely selfish good, you may gather together treasure, you may build mansions great and high, as did the builders of ancient Babylon; but you cannot build wall so high or gate so strong as to shut out the messengers of doom. Belshazzar the king “feasted in his palace,” and “praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone” (Daniel 5:4). But the hand of One invisible wrote upon his walls the words of doom, and the tread of hostile armies was heard at his palace gates. “In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain” and an alien monarch sat upon the throne. (Daniel 5:30).
    • To live for self is to perish. Covetousness, the desire of benefit for self's sake, cuts the soul off from life. It is the spirit of Satan to get, to draw to self. It is the spirit of Christ to give, to sacrifice self for the good of others. “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son (1 John 5:11). "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12).
    • Wherefore He says, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness; for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”(COL 258-259)