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Chronicles of Jerahmeel, by M. Gaster [1899], at

LXVIII. (1) Daniel was then brought before the king to read and interpret the writing, and he said to the king:

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[paragraph continues] 'Thou hast acted very foolishly, in that thou hast defiled the vessels of the temple of our God. Therefore our God, being zealous for His children and for His sanctuary, sent an angel to write these words. And these are the words which he has written, 'Shekel,' i.e., the enemy of the Lord, ‘has been weighed in the balance and been found wanting. He will therefore rend the kingdom from His enemy, and will give it to Darius and Cyrus, who have given thee battle. Between them the kingdom shall be divided.'

(2) And the princes of the king heard this explanation from Daniel and that he reproved the king, saying, 'Hearken to me, I pray thee, King Belshazzar, and mark and understand my words. Didst thou not know that the Lord God of the heavens made thy father great, and raised him over all the kingdoms of the earth; that He caused him to rule, in His greatness, over the holy Land, over the kingdom of priests and the holy nation; and that he (Nebuchadnezzar) treated them with great cruelty; that he shed their blood as water, burnt the holy temple with fire, and sent the whole of God's inheritance into captivity to Babylon? That then his heart waxed mighty and his spirit proud, so that he said, "My hand is exalted, and my power has stood by me"; that he did not remember that the God of the world, who exalteth and maketh humble, had delivered all these things into his hands; nor did he think of this until the Lord humbled him by making him wander among the wild beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens; and not until he believed that the Lord God of heaven is He who slayeth and bringeth to life was he restored again to his palace? And thou, Belshazzar, hast received thy father's kingdom by the will of the God of heaven, and reignest over all the land in the same manner as thy father.

(3) 'When thy two vassals, Darius and Cyrus, rebelled and made a conspiracy against thee, and went to battle against thy mighty army, thou didst send forth thy warriors to subdue them, and they returned to thee exceedingly elated with strength and glory; but thou

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didst not give thanks to thy Creator, who gave thee the very breath of thy life, but to thy idols of silver and gold, of iron and brass, of clay and earthenware, which cannot rescue nor save, which can do neither evil nor good. And thou didst burn bright the lamp for thy 1,000 warriors and princes. Then didst thou send for the holy vessels, which were sanctified to the God of heaven, who breathed into thee the breath of life, and in whose hand is thy spirit, to slay or to keep alive. And thou didst defile His vessels by drinking out of them, together with all thy servants, princes, wives, and concubines, and didst sing praises to thy idols. For this the Lord's anger was kindled against thee and thy people, since thou hast foolishly done this. He therefore sent His scribe to write down upon the wall of thy house thy end, and the end of thy kingdom. Behold the writing is written in Hebrew characters, but the language is Aramaic. The words are "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin," which means that God has "numbered" the years of thy kingdom, which have been found completed; the seventy years (of the captivity) having come to an end. Thou hast been "weighed," and been found wanting. Therefore thy kingdom shall be "taken away" from thee, and given to the Medes and Persians.'

(4) When the king, the princes and the dignitaries of the kingdom heard this interpretation from Daniel, they were all greatly afraid, every one of them, their heart beat violently, and they were alarmed and trembled, and the king, being seized with dreadful pains through Daniel's words, fell upon his bed, sad and troubled, and mourning bitterly, while the rest of the princes returned to their houses in fear. When they went out through the gate they were in their excitement crushed and trampled on, and the king remained alone with his messengers and his household, and, being in great excitement and bewildered, he fell into a deep sleep, and slumbered like one of the dead through his fright and trembling. (5) Now, there was in the bedroom of the king a doorkeeper, one of the old servants of Nebuchadnezzar, who was much honoured and

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respected. Meditating in his heart, he said, 'Did not Daniel interpret all Nebuchadnezzar's dreams? and did not all his words come true, so that nothing he prophesied failed to be realized? Now he has told the king what is decreed concerning him, for the spirit of God is with him, and he does not lie. Why, therefore, should I not go, and, severing Belshazzar's head, run with it to Cyrus and Darius, the Kings of Media and Persia, and thereby find favour in their eyes?' And as he thought, so he did. Rising hastily in the twilight, he drew the sword from beneath the king's pillows, and with it smote Belshazzar, severing his head. He wandered all through the night until daybreak, and then went to the two kings with the head of Belshazzar in his hand.

(6) But when they saw it, both they and all the men trembled and gazed in fear at each other, as well as all the army. On asking the man for an explanation, he related all that Daniel had told Belshazzar, how he had defiled the holy vessels of the temple, and thus kindled the anger of the God of the heavens, who sent a messenger to write upon the wall in red ink opposite the candlestick. 'When I heard Daniel tell these things, I knew that it was all true and that nothing would fail to come to pass. On account of this I planned and hastened to perform this deed which now your eyes behold.'

(7) When the two kings heard the words of the servant they feared the wrath of the God of heaven, and consequently humbled, prostrated and bowed themselves before the Lord of all things, saying, 'We know that Thou alone art God over all the hosts of heaven and over all the kingdoms of the earth, who removest and establishest kings, and who doest whatever Thou desirest. Thou knowest that this Belshazzar, the wicked grandson of the wicked Nebuchadnezzar, acted wickedly, and Thou hast therefore visited him to destroy him in the wrath of Thy anger in that he defiled the vessels of Thy holy sanctuary. Thou didst hand him over to be slaughtered by this chamberlain that his head may be brought before

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us. We now give thanks unto Thee, O God of the heavens, for the wonders which Thou hast wrought. If Thou wilt deliver his land into our possession and the valiant, mighty men thereof, we shall wreak vengeance upon them to satisfy the wrath of Thine anger. Then Thou wilt help us to free Thy servants from their captivity, to build Thy holy temple in Jerusalem, and to gather together the outcasts of Thy people, that they may once again worship Thee alone.' Having said this, they made a feast and rejoiced for three days.

(8) Then, marching into Babylon, they captured it, and, overthrowing the fortresses, slew the warriors at the edge of the sword, ripped up their women with child, slaughtered their old men in the streets, strangled their young men with ropes and dragged them with their horses along the streets, their virgins they trampled to death, and their young children they dashed against the rocks. (9) Thus God avenged the blood of His servants that was shed by the Babylonians and Chaldeans, and took vengeance for His city and His temple. These two kings overran all the streets with their mighty army, and, overthrowing all their palaces, burnt their most precious things, and, blowing upon their trumpets, raised a loud cry so that the earth was cleft asunder at their noise, and they said: 'Where are ye, ye mighty men of Babylon and ye valiant men, ye sinners of the whole earth. The battle is no longer yours.' They then set fire to everything that came before them until they rendered the whole of Babylon a waste land, like Sodom and Gomorrah, according to the word which God spake to His servants the prophets. (10) After this the two kings divided the whole kingdom of the Chaldeans by lot, so that Darius took for his portion Babylon, with all its inhabitants, and the great temple of the palace which Nebuchadnezzar had built; and Darius sat upon the throne of Belshazzar. Thus, while the great Babylon, with all its inhabitants, together with the land of Media, fell to the lot of Darius, the land of the Chaldeans, Assyria and Persia fell to the lot of Cyrus.

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