The Jewish Eye
Sefer Daniel: Part 8 - Perek 5: The Handwriting On The Wall
"King Belshatzar made a big feast for a thousand of his officers, and drank wine before the thousand."
Belshatzar was Nevuchadnetzer's grandson. His father, Evil Merodach, Nevuchadnetzer's son, was king for twenty-three years before Belshatzar became king.
Chazal explain that the Bavlim were aware of Yirmayhu's nevuah that the malchus of Bavel would end after seventy years. They had now mistakenly decided that the seventy years were completed, and their malchus was still strong. Paras and Madai had attacked them, and the thousand officers had successfully fought them off, and this was their reason for celebration.
It was the custom that when a king made a party, he would eat and drink in a separate room, but Belshatzar now ate and drank together with the thousand officers to show them special honor. During the party, Belshatzar became intoxicated, and he ordered his servants to bring the golden and silver vessels which Nevuchadnetzer had seized from the Beis Hamikdash. Nobody had touched these vessels until now, since they were aware of the prophecy that the Jews would return to Eretz Yisrael, and were afraid of Hashem. However, they had now lost their fear due to their faulty calculations, and they demonstrated their disrespect towards Hashem by desecrating the vessels.
"They drank wine and praised gods of gold, silver, copper, iron, wood, and stone."
They deliberately increased their act of desecration against Hashem by praising avodah zarah, while drinking out of the vessels of the Beis Hamikdash.
"At that moment, the fingers of a man's hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace, opposite the lamp, and the king saw the hand which wrote."
This incident could not be attributed to imagination, or to a deliberate act of an enemy. It took place "opposite the lamp" - in a brightly lit place where there was no shadow. All the officers in the room were witness to the sight, and the writing was high up on the wall of the palace, above the height of a man's hand.
An additional miracle occurred within this miracle; Belshatzar's vision was different than everyone else in the room - he saw the entire hand of a man, and everybody else saw only the fingers. Belshatzar became extremely frightened, and called for all his advisors, promising them that whoever would read the writing and interpret it would be richly rewarded. However, the sages were not able to even read the words, much less provide an interpretation. Belshatzar became even more frightened.
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