The Handwriting on the Wall
King Belshazzar threw a large banquet for 1,000 nobles and drank wine with them. As they were tasting the wine, Belshazzar ordered that the gold and silver utensils which his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem be brought to him. He wanted to drink from them with his nobles, his wives, and his concubines.*
So the servants brought the gold utensils that had been taken from God’s temple in Jerusalem. The king, his nobles, wives, and concubines drank from them. They drank the wine and praised their gods made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, or stone.
Suddenly, the fingers of a person’s hand appeared and wrote on the plaster wall opposite the lamp stand of the royal palace. The king watched as the hand wrote. Then the king turned pale, and his thoughts frightened him. His hip joints became loose, and his knees knocked against each other.
The king screamed for the psychics, astrologers, and fortunetellers to be brought to him. He told these wise advisers of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing and tells me its meaning will be dressed in purple, wear a gold chain on his neck, and become the third-highest ruler in the kingdom.” All the king’s wise advisers came, but they couldn’t read the writing or tell the king its meaning. King Belshazzar was terrified, and his face turned pale. His nobles didn’t know what to do.
10 The discussion between the king and his nobles brought the queen herself into the banquet hall. The queen said, “Your Majesty, may you live forever! Don’t let your thoughts frighten you, and don’t turn pale. 11 There’s a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your grandfather, he was found to have insight, good judgment, and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods. Your grandfather, King Nebuchadnezzar, made him head of the magicians, psychics, astrologers, and fortunetellers. 12 This Daniel (who had been renamed Belteshazzar) was found to have knowledge, judgment, and an extraordinary spirit. He has the ability to interpret dreams, solve riddles, and untangle problems. Now, call Daniel, and he will tell ⌞you⌟ what it means.”
13 So Daniel was taken to the king. The king asked him, “Are you Daniel, one of the captives that my grandfather brought from Judah? 14 I’ve heard that you have the spirit of the gods and that you have insight, good judgment, and extraordinary wisdom. 15 The wise advisers and the psychics were brought to me to read this writing and tell me its meaning. But they couldn’t tell me its meaning. 16 I have heard that you can interpret such things and untangle problems. If you can read the writing and tell ⌞me⌟ its meaning, you will be dressed in purple, wear a gold chain on your neck, and become the third-highest ruler in the kingdom.”
17 Daniel told the king, “Keep your gifts. Give your gifts and awards to someone else. I’ll still read the writing for you and tell you its meaning.
18 “Your Majesty, the Most High God gave your grandfather Nebuchadnezzar a kingdom, might, honor, and glory. 19 People from every province, nation, and language trembled and were terrified by him, because God gave him power. Nebuchadnezzar killed whomever he wanted to kill, and he kept alive whomever he wanted to keep alive. He promoted whomever he wanted to promote, and he demoted whomever he wanted to demote. 20 But when he became so arrogant and conceited that he became overconfident, he was removed from the royal throne. His honor was taken away from him. 21 He was chased away from people, and his mind was changed into an animal’s mind. He lived with wild donkeys, ate grass like cattle, and his body became wet with dew from the sky. This happened until he realized that the Most High God has power over human kingdoms. God puts whomever he wishes in charge of them.
22 “Belshazzar, you are one of Nebuchadnezzar’s successors. You didn’t remain humble, even though you knew all this. 23 But you made yourself greater than the Lord of heaven. You had the utensils from his temple brought to you. You, your nobles, wives, and concubines drank wine from them. You praised your gods made of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, or stone. These gods can’t see, hear, or know anything. You didn’t honor God, who has power over your life and everything you do. 24 So he sent the hand to write this inscription. 25 This is what has been written: Numbered, Numbered, Weighed, and Divided. 26 This is its meaning: Numbered—God has numbered the days of your kingdom and will bring it to an end. 27 Weighed—you have been weighed on a scale and found to be too light. 28 Divided—your kingdom will be divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” 
29 Then Belshazzar ordered that Daniel be dressed in purple and wear a gold chain on his neck. He made Daniel the third-highest ruler in the kingdom. 30 That night King Belshazzar of Babylon was killed. 31 Darius the Mede took over the kingdom. He was 62 years old.
* 5:2 A concubine is considered a wife except she has fewer rights under the law. 5:28 There is a play on words here between Aramaic peres (divided) and paras (Persians). 5:30 Daniel 5:31 in English Bibles is Daniel 6:1 in the Hebrew Bible.