The Worst Penmanship Lesson Ever, Part 2

Elementary school teachers learn how to read the indecipherable. It just goes with the territory. By Christmas time, they can fairly accurately sort and grade a batch of papers even if half the class forgot to put their names on the papers. (Though in my class, you didn't win any prizes if I had to…

God Just Might Be a Lefty

People have asked me on occasion why I like Hebrew (the language of the Old Testament) better than Greek (the language of the New Testament). There’s a variety of ways to answer this question, but today’s answer is that Hebrew is friendly to lefties. If you’ve had the misfortune of hearing me drone on about…

The Folly of Flunking History

I have kept Daniel waiting in the wings too long. The queen has made her speech, Belshazzar has made his, and Daniel has been patiently waiting his turn while I’ve done this, that, and the other for the past couple weeks. Today’s the day. Bring the man on stage and let him talk. Daniel, you…

Look Who’s Talkin’

One of the unusual features of the story of Belshazzar and the handwriting on the wall (Dan 5) is the amount of space it devotes to people talking. There are three unusually long speeches by three different characters. The first is by the queen (vv. 11-12), who is followed by the king (vv. 13-16). Finally…

A Howling Good Time

Belshazzar may not have finished swallowing his first sip of wine from God’s goblets when a disembodied hand appeared, writing on the palace wall. The narrator bothers to tell us that the hand was opposite the lampstand. Maybe he wants to explain why the king could see it (though that seems unnecessary) or, more likely,…

Drink, Drank, Drunk

A twisted source of pride for many students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (and a source of chagrin and consternation for administration) is its ranking as one of America’s top party schools. I can assure you that although I spent six years at this, um, prestigious school, the liveliest party I ever attended may have…

Who’s Your Daddy?

The villain of Daniel 5 is Belshazzar, who only appears in this chapter. Who is this flash-in-the-pan character, Belshazzar? You might consider this a gimme question since the text says pretty clearly who he is: he’s Nebuchadnezzar’s son. The narrator says as much in 5:2, when he sends for the goblets that “Nebuchadnezzar his father”…

The Worst Penmanship Lesson Ever

Bye-bye Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. Hello, Belshazzar. Welcome, everyone else, to a new chapter in Daniel! The bad guy of Daniel 5, Belshazzar is just a blip in the Bible. This chapter is the only place he appears (and he’s a pretty hard-to-find guy in the ancient Near East altogether), but he makes a big impression.…