MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN–know likewise as UPHARSIN.
Belshazzar’s Feast, 1635. 167.6 x 209.2cm, National Gallery, London.
Artist: Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
Whose intrusive hand writes upon my wall this night?
Life, my dears, is a funny old shoe.
Today, we cross yet another bridge back to Babylon. What draws us so frequently these late-winter days back to that bleak captivity?
A sensible man loves many, many girls in many different ways during the course of a long life. Beauty inspires the writer, Praise God, Jesus, His beauties to admire always!
In what today in America is an eerily unlettered populace, I was taken up by sharp surprise this morning to receive a letter from the Middle-Western states posted me by my most darling Marie, a girl who knows not the heat of passion for her pulsing through these now aged, creaking bones.
More starling yet, darling Marie of the Middle-Western states, wrote to me in the Biblical Aramaic!!! On Wednesday!!
On a Wednesday!!
It is always fun to learn new things and likewise uncover or recall the meanings of old things. We all have often heard of the Old testament Prophet Daniel—primarily his misadventures in the den of the lions–but we are thankful today for the following disquisition on Daniel in Babylon and the very famous origin of the “handwriting on the wall.”
In Daniel’s book, preparing this note to you, dears, as to “the handwriting on the wall, I today read this:
The Book of Daniel, in its most pertinent parts, describing the handwriting on the wall, now follows through the kind courtesy of BibleGateway.com with these necessary caveats:
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® ,used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
The Writing on the Wall
5 King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. 2 While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father[a] had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. 3 So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them.4 As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.
5 Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lamp stand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. 6 His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking.
7 The king summoned the enchanters, astrologers[b] and diviners. Then he said to these wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck, and he will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”
8 Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king what it meant. 9 So King Belshazzar became even more terrified and his face grew more pale. His nobles were baffled.
10 The queen,[c] hearing the voices of the king and his nobles, came into the banquet hall. “May the king live forever!” she said. “Don’t be alarmed! Don’t look so pale! 11 There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the time of your father he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners. 12 He did this because Daniel, whom the king called Belteshazzar, was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means.”
13 So Daniel was brought before the king, and the king said to him, “Are you Daniel, one of the exiles my father the king brought from Judah? 14 I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you and that you have insight, intelligence and outstanding wisdom. 15 The wise men and enchanters were brought before me to read this writing and tell me what it means, but they could not explain it. 16 Now I have heard that you are able to give interpretations and to solve difficult problems. If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around your neck, and you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”
17 Then Daniel answered the king, “You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means.
18 “Your Majesty, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor. 19 Because of the high position he gave him, all the nations and peoples of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the king wanted to put to death, he put to death; those he wanted to spare, he spared; those he wanted to promote, he promoted; and those he wanted to humble, he humbled. 20 But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. 21 He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like the ox; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes.
22 “But you, Belshazzar, his son,[d] have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this.23 Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways. 24 Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription.
25 “This is the inscription that was written:
mene, mene, tekel, parsin
26 “Here is what these words mean:
Mene[e]: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
27 Tekel[f]: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
28 Peres[g]: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
29 Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom.
30 That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians,[h] was slain, 31 and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two.[i]
- Daniel 5:2 Or ancestor; or predecessor; also in verses 11, 13 and 18
- Daniel 5:7 Or Chaldeans; also in verse 11
- Daniel 5:10 Or queen mother
- Daniel 5:22 Or descendant; or successor
- Daniel 5:26 Mene can mean numbered or mina (a unit of money).
- Daniel 5:27 Tekel can mean weighed or shekel.
- Daniel 5:28 Peres (the singular of Parsin) can mean divided or Persia or a half mina oar half shekel.
- Daniel 5:30 Or Chaldeans
- Daniel 5:31 In Aramaic texts this verse (5:31) is numbered 6:1.
“Daniel In The Lion’s Den”
Artist– Peter Paul Rubens
Read and recall now the tribulations of Daniel in the den of the lions, shown just above in the beautiful painting of Peter-Paul Reubens:
The Book of Daniel, in its most pertinent parts, describing Daniel, in his tribulation in the den of the lions, now follows through the kind courtesy of BibleGateway.com with these necessary caveats:
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® ,used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Daniel in the Den of Lions
6 [a]It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, 2 with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. 3 Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. 4 At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. 5 Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”
6 So these administrators and satraps went as a group to the king and said: “May King Darius live forever! 7 The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. 8 Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” 9 So King Darius put the decree in writing.
10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.12 So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?”
The king answered, “The decree stands—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.”
13 Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.” 14 When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him.
15 Then the men went as a group to King Darius and said to him, “Remember, Your Majesty, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.”
16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den.The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”
17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.
19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”
21 Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! 22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight.Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”
23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
24 At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.
25 Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth:
“May you prosper greatly!
26 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.
“For he is the living God
and he endures forever;
his kingdom will not be destroyed,
his dominion will never end.
27 He rescues and he saves;
he performs signs and wonders
in the heavens and on the earth.
He has rescued Daniel
from the power of the lions.”
28 So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus[b] the Persian.
- Daniel 6:1 In Aramaic texts 6:1-28 is numbered 6:2-29.
- 2. Daniel 6:28 Or Darius, that is, the reign of Cyrus
Many, many years before the precious flower Marie of the Middle-Western States could draw first breath and call out—Mia, momma!!—I knelt before a rather tiresome Bishop called Hannon, who had just delivered a pre-Confirmation homily so long and so lifeless that very few marriages could best its torture, to be slapped on the cheek and called Daniel, my selected name Confirmation.
For those pagans who later stumble into this private letter to my precious ones, Confirmation in God’s Church is the third and final Sacred Sacrament that makes one a fully fledged Catholic and likewise a Soldier of Christ Jesus.
Well prior to my kneeling before dreary Bishop Hannon to be slapped and Confirmed as Daniel—I had busied myself reading, and copiously so, about Daniel, as he was, as the merciless Sisters Of Charity of Mother Elizabeth Ann Seaton, daily reminded, “to walk beside me for my life long and protect me as I Soldiered for Christ Jesus.”
As I read of Daniel, I took to my young, boyish head, romantic, swashbuckling visions of riding off to soldier and slaughter vile Muhammadans for Jesus Christ, freeing from them the Holy Lands that by all legitimate rights belong only to Catholics, and carrying, with Daniel in attendance, to the Pope of Roma, then, I think, Pope John XXIII Himself, or perhaps it was Pope Paul VI Himself, huge troves of gold, jewels, fine crimson cloths and exotic herbs and spices.
Sad to say, after Bishop Hannon had done with me, life, if that is what in fact it was, returned to status quo ante bellum with the Sisters of Charity of Mother Elizabeth Ann Seaton and went on from there precisely as before Confirmation with Daniel—and went on—and on—and on –and on.
Many years before taking on Daniel for protection while soldiering, I can very much remember, who could ever forget, my very first day of first grade with the Holy Sisters, when stood before the wondering class, as an apparition preceded by no polite introduction, one Sister Dom Bosco, about 4 foot tall, who intoned “I am Sister Dom Bosco, I may be small, but so is the atom bomb.” Things went downhill from there. Rapidly.
As my group of lads walked away from first day of first grade, dazed and bewildered, I pulled aside Paul McKenna, the only boy I knew with IQ +65. “McKenna, I demanded, how long does this go on?” McKenna, smilingly lit a cigarette and generously handing me a fag of my own—these pilfered from McKenna’s father and were truly wretched going—blunt end Chesterfield Kings they were—awful—but needs must, mustn’t they?
“How long does what go on, you mean the midget nun?”, McKenna asked, jeeringly. “No, how long does school go on—all of it—how long?” “School—all of it?—about 16 years—if you’re lucky.” “Lucky??? 16 years?? “Lucky??” “What did I do, I’m 5 years old—I’m a minor for Christ’s sake—16 years!”
Luckily later, after the tedium of being fully institutionalized had become a benign, mundane, regularity, I got for a brief, shining moment to saddle up with Daniel to slaughter the cursed Muhammadans for Jesus Christ and the Roman Pope. A very, very brief, shining moment.
Yet, men in prison for very long stretches of time remember, for long years after, even the slightest comfort, as I now remember soldiering in my dreams in company of my fellow captive, Daniel.
It should surprise none then that I took avid interest in the prophet Daniel as he had, in his turn, endured the harsh captivity of Babylon and so he readily enough understood my lamentation, as a kindred captive of the Holy Sisters Of Charity of Mother Seaton.
With only my friend, and shortly to be my mentor, Daniel, and vast numbers of Paul McKenna’s father’s Chesterfield King blunt ends, I sat in a shaded, green grove, beside my father’s house and read of Daniel, with restless interest, dreaming of foreign combat.
The complete Book of Daniel is a long but beautiful book and I recommend my readers set apart some time to read that entire work and to reflect upon its powerful meaning.
When you find the time to do that, simply click the following link brought to us under the kind patronage of BibleScpiture.net rights reserved to them:
Here, we leave Daniel and his book and come back into the world of half-remembered past and listless present. Prophet Daniel’s book is a remarkable, yet transitory, respite from that which there truly is no escape–life herself.
Paul McKenna on first day of first grade, was right of course. I did the full 16 years in the joint. As did Paul, as did everyone else. No pardon or parole in those days. I came out completely institutionalized and fully prepared for the “real world of grown-ups,” in which men sit in offices and watch a clock on the wall, day by day, tick off their remaining hours in this, their latter-day captivity, this, their latter-day Babylon.
I now send this note to you, dear friends. So that you can acquaint yourselves once more with Daniel, my protector and fellow captive, in this world. Let him bring you some romantic day-dreaming of soldiering in the sands for a brief hour or so.
While dashing now, fumbling on weakened legs, to make the evening post with this note, I wonder, where are you tonight, sweet Marie, precious flower of the Middle-Western States, quietly unaware of the smoldering passions of your present day Daniel, captive in his own Babylon at Washington?
Life, my dears, remains a funny, funny, old shoe.
John Daniel Begg
Wednesday, 20th March, Anno Domini Nostri Iesu Christi, 2013