Daniel - Lesson 7

By Stafford North


Background Information for the Teacher


  1. The student can tell the story of Belshazzar and the feast.
  2. The student can tell of the discovery of the identity of Belshazzar.
  3. The student can provide some historical information from outside the Bible about the fall of Babylon.
  4. The student can relate some verses in Jeremiah to the fall of Babylon.
  5. The student can apply lessons from this story to his/her own life.


  1. Have a chalkboard, marker board, or PowerPoint ready. You may download PowerPoint to make overhead transparencies.
  2. Have copies of the test ready for the beginning of class.
  3. Have copies of the worksheet ready to hand out at the beginning of the class.
  4. Be sure all students have Bibles and pens/pencils.
  5. Have cards ready to distribute with all the passages you want someone to read aloud during the lesson.


Belshazzar is holding a feast even during a time of a siege of Babylon and insults God and the Jews by drinking from utensils taken from the temple of Solomon. God sends a message to him by a hand which writes on the wall. Daniel interprets the meaning to be that the Babylonians will immediately fall to the Persians.

Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class

Introduction: (about 10 minutes)

  1. Call or check the roll. Make necessary class announcements. If you like to start with songs, sing "How Majestic is Your Name," "Be Still and Know," "We WillGlorify." Have a prayer.
  2. Go through the Review Quiz and let the students give the answers. All should check their papers as you go. Encourage all to be ready for the Review Quiz over today's lesson to be given next week by using the worksheet.
  3. Review the objectives for today's lesson.

Learning Experiences: (about 25 minutes)

  1. Daniel 5 Tells the Story of King Belshazzar. (Ask the students to open their Bibles to Daniel 5 and provide answers for this part of the lesson.)
    1. The feast (Daniel 5:1-4). The year is 539 BC. Q: How long since Daniel and the other first captives were brought to Babylon? A: 67 years. Q:About how old would Daniel be by now? A: If he had been only 15 when he was brought to Babylon, he would be 82. Q: Who is present at the feast Belshazzar gives? A: Thousands of his nobles, his nobles, his wives, and his concubines. Q: What order does Belshazzar give about utensils from which to drink wine? A: Bring the gold goblets Nebuchadnezzar had brought from the temple in Jerusalem. Q: To whom did the feast give glory? A: The Babylonian gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.
    2. The handwriting (Daniel 5:5-16). Q: What appears and writes a message on the wall? A: A hand. Q: What is the response of the King? He trembles in fright. Q: What offer does the King make for anyone who can read the message? A: Gold chain and given third place in the kingdom. Q: Why does he offer third place and not second? A: A record left by Nabonidus, who was King of Babylon from 556 to 539 BC, tells that he (Nabonidus) was king but spent much of his time in Arabia. He left his son, Belshazzar, as king in the city of Babylon to control that area in his absence. Daniel's record that Belshazzar offered only the third place in the kingdom, since he himself was second, is exactly in harmony with the records from Nabonidus. No one writing between around 500 BC and the mid-1800's would have known this. Another interesting note is that archaeologists have found the very banquet hall in which this event took place among the ruins in Babylon.
    3. The Interpretation (Daniel 5:17-28). Q: After the king's wise men cannot interpret the writing, who comes on the scene and what does she suggest? A: The Queen, who is probably "the queen mother" since the King's wives have already been mentioned as present. She tells the King about Daniel who interpreted dreams for Nebuchadnezzar, his father (or maybe grandfather.) Daniel is brought in and tells the King he may keep his gifts. He will, however, read the writing on the wall. Q: To what previous event does Daniel refer as he replies to the King? A: The time when Nebuchadnezzar was humbled until he recognized the Most High God as sovereign over the kingdoms of men. Q: What action brought on the handwriting? A: Using the goblets from the temple as an act of pride and dishonor to God. Q: What words were written on the wall and what does Daniel say they mean? A: Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin. 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. Parsin. Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.
    4. The Result (Daniel 5:29-31). Belshazzar keeps his word to give Daniel a gold chain and to make him third ruler in the kingdom. Q: What else happens that night? A: Belshzzar is killed and Darius the Mede becomes the ruler. This brings to an end the Babylonian Kingdom and begins the reign of the Medes and Persians who operated as one kingdom. Note the map which shows the territory they eventually conquered.
  2. Secular Historians Add Important Information.
    1. Herodotus (450 BC) wrote that Babylon was captured by Cyrus who approached the city in the spring of the year. The Babylonians met him outside the walls but were defeated and then they retreated behind the walls of the city of Babylon. They had full storehouses and so made light of the siege, feeling secure. Cyrus placed soldiers at each point where the river went under the wall and told them to march when the waters were low enough. Then Cyrus diverted the flow of the Euphrates River into a lake as Queen Nitocris had done earlier in order to line the banks of the river with bricks.
    2. Xenophon (360 BC) wrote that a trench was dug around the city of Babylon to divert the flow of the Euphrates River. Then soldiers entered under the wall and went to the palace and killed the king. Soon all surrendered and there was no battle for the city. The troops were led by a man named Gobyras.
    3. The Annalistic tablet (translated in 1880) says that the son of a king died in an attack on the palace led by Ugbaru (Gobryas) and a reception was held by Cyrus who was accepted by the former leaders.
    4. The Cyrus Cylinder (found in 1880 in Babylon) says that Cyrus captured Babylon without a battle and later that he made it his policy to allow captured people to return to their lands and to rebuild their temples.
    5. Q: How do these statements correspond with the biblical account? A: The Babylonian Kingdom was taken by the Medes and Persians. The Babylonian king was killed on the same night the city was captured. TheBabylonians felt safe behind their big wall. The Babylonians were surprised and the king was killed quickly. The Babylonians, although under siege, had so much to eat there was a great feast.
    6. Q: How do these statements differ from the biblical account? A: There seems to be some variance about the names of the Persian leaders. This may be explained in several ways. Some of them may have had more than one name. Gobryas seems to be the leader of the army. Darius was the Mede who was a leader and Cyrus was the Persian who was a leader.
    7. Obviously, history gives a very strong corroboration to the Bible record.
  3. Jeremiah Prophesies About These Events (Jeremiah 50:1-51:63). Jeremiah made this prophecy about fifty years before Babylon actually fell.
    1. Read Jeremiah 50:3, 9, 41 and 51:11, 28. Q: How are those who will invade Babylon described? A: From the North, a group of nations, and the Medes specifically mentioned.
    2. Read Jeremiah 50:26. Q: What will be the condition of food in the city of Babylon when it is captured? A: Well supplied storehouses.
    3. Read Jeremiah 51:53, 58. Q: How strong defensively will Babylon be? A: Towering fortifications.
    4. Read Jeremiah 51:36. Q: By what method with the attacker be able to conquer the city? A: He will dry up her sea (river).
    5. Read Jeremiah 51:39, 57. Q: What will the Babylonians be doing when they are attacked and destroyed? A: Having a feast.
    6. Read Jeremiah 51:8. Q: How quickly will Babylon fall? A: Suddenly.

Application: (9 minutes)

  1. Q: What do we learn about God from this story? A: God can predict the future and reveal it to His prophets. God works in human affairs to achieve His purposes. God destroys those who dishonor Him. God rewards those who are faithful to Him.
  2. Q: What personal applications should we make from this story? A:Recognizing God's power and greatness, we should be humble before Him. We should never do anything to dishonor God such as using His name in swearing or taking His commands lightly. In the long-run, those, like Daniel, who serve God will be honored-sometimes in this life and always in the next.
  3. Note on your personal application sheet any lessons you can apply to yourself.

Assignment: (about 1 minute)

  1. Be prepared for the Review Quiz next week.
  2. Read Daniel 6.

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