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"Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin" - The Parsing of God

Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin

Belshazzar was the last king of ancient Babylon and is mentioned in Daniel 5. His short reign took place during the life of Daniel the prophet. His name meant “Bel protect the king,” and was a prayer to the Babylonian god. Belshazzar ruled Babylon, a powerful nation with a long history and a long line of powerful kings. One of those kings was Nebuchadnezzar, who had conquered Judah, bringing the temple treasures to Babylon along with Daniel and many other captives in what is referred to as the Diaspora, the dispersion. The Assyrians conquered Israel in 722 and the Hebrew inhabitants were scattered all over the Middle East. These Hebrews who were victims of this early dispersion disappeared from the pages of history. Later when Nebuchadnezzar deported the Judaeans in 597 - 586 BC, he permitted them to remain in a community in Babylon. Another group of Judaeans escaped to Egypt, where they settled in the Nile delta. From 597 onwards, there were three groups of Hebrews: a group in Babylon, a group in Judaea, and another group in Egypt. Therefore 597 is considered the beginning date of the Jewish Diaspora.

Belshazzar was Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson through his daughter Nitocris.

During his life, King Nebuchadnezzar had encountered the God of Israel’s power and was humbled by Him (Daniel 4:34–37). Fast forward twenty years, his grandson Belshazzar “praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone” (Daniel 5:4). One night in 539 BC, the Medes and the Persians were laying siege to the city of Babylon. King Belshazzar decided to have a feast with his household and a thousand of his noblemen. The king had all the gold & silver cups, vessels plundered from the Jewish temple be brought to the royal banquet hall. They then filled the vessels with wine and drank, praising their false gods (Daniel 5:1–4). The use of the stolen items from the Jewish temple was a blasphemous attempt by Belshazzar to relive the glory days of his kingdom, when Babylon was conquering other nations instead of being threatened with annihilation from the Persians outside their walls.

As the drunken king sat in a stupor, God sent him a sign: a human hand appeared, floating near the lampstand and writing four words in the plaster of the wall: “MENE MENE TEKEL PARSIN.” Then, the hand disappeared (Daniel 5:5, 25).

Danial interpreted these trade words to say that God had measured the Kingdom of Babylon and found it wanting therefore it would be destroyed. It's values, it's leaders, it's people were all corrupt and destructive. No earthly kingdom or nation will escape the judgement of God.

We in America are no doubt being parsed by God and like Babylon we have been found wanting. What will we do to prevent destruction? Turning to Christ is our only recourse. Christianity is the only hope for America.


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