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King Belshazzar features prominently in the Old Testament’s Book of Daniel, namely during the infamous Belshazzar feast. According to the Bible, Belshazzar hosted a grand feast for the lords and ladies of Babylon where he drank and ate from vessels that had been looted from the Temple of Jerusalem in the year 587 BC. During the feast, scripture states a divine hand appeared and wrote a sign on the wall that Belshazzar and his people were unable to decipher.
The prophet Daniel was later called upon to read the writing and interprets it as a warning the days of Belshazzar’s reign were shortlived.
The Bible’s Book of Daniel reads: “This is the inscription that was written: mene, mene, tekel, parsin
“Here is what these words mean: Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
“Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
“Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
And although most historians agree the tale of Belshazzar’s feast is fictions, some scripture experts have argued there is enough archaeological evidence to back the Biblical narrative.
Tom Meyer, a professor in Bible studies at Shasta Bible College and Graduate School in California, US, told Express.co.uk there are many clues that point towards this story being true.
He said: “The spades of English archaeologists have brought to light treasures buried in the sands of time related to the infamous crown prince of Babylon, Belshazzar, who literally saw the hand writing on the wall.
“After the death of Nebuchadnezzar, the following Babylonian kings were Evil Merodach (562 to 560 BC), Neriglissar (560 to 556 BC), Labashi Marduk (556), Nabonidus (556 to 539 BC), and then finally the subordinate crown prince Belshazzar (553 to 539 BC).
“Belshazzar was considered a crown prince because he was left in control of the Babylonian kingdom while his father Nabonidus was on a four-year military campaign in Arabia against the Medes.
“On one fateful night in 539 bc when the short-lived Neo-Babylonian Empire was overthrown by the Medes, a miracle happened: the drunken crown prince of Babylon, Belshazzar, saw a celestial hand write upon the plaster wall of the king’s palace a cryptic message of doom later interpreted by the famous prophet Daniel.”
According to Professor Meyer, the writing on the wall appeared opposite a lampstand that may have been taken nearly 50 years earlier by Nebuchadnezzar during the siege of Jerusalem.
And the expert believes archaeologists have uncovered the throne room where this scene unfolded.
He said: “Archaeologists have found a throne room in the palace of the Babylonian kings that was 56-foot-wide and 173 feet long that had plastered walls and was possibly the setting for this famous scene.
“Three archaeological objects have come to light that confirm Belshazzar, the crown prince, really did exist; these objects are on display at the British Museum.
“In 1854 British archaeologists explored ruins in southern Iraq or ancient Ur.
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“While excavating an ancient tower or ziggurat built of mud brick, they found buried in the brickwork several tiny cylinders.”
Each of these cylinders only measured about four inches and contained lines of script.
One of these cylinders was deciphered to contain a prayer by the Babylonian King Nabonidus to the gods.
The very same cylinder is now on display at the British Museum in London, under the catalogue number 91125.
Professor Meyer said: “Later in 1882, Professor Theophilus Pinches published the ‘Nabonidus Chronicle,’ a tablet which mentions Belshazzar and places him as an equal to his father as a Babylonian official (object 35382).
“Again in 1924, Sidney Smith of the British Museum published the investigation of the ‘Persian Verse Account of Nabonidus’ – another tablet – which states that Nabonidus entrusted kingship to Belshazzar (object 38299).
“Once again archaeology has demonstrated the historical accuracy of the Biblical record.”
Some experts, however, do not see the Book of Daniel as a reliable guide to history.
In an essay titled Current Issues in the Study of Daniel, author John J Collins wrote: “Since the Enlightenment, scholars have increasingly come to view the book not as a reliable guide to history, past or future, but as a collection of imaginative tales and visions that reflect the fears and hopes of beleaguered Jews in the Hellenistic period.”
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