Loading…
Daniel interprets the writing on the wall
Excerpt from the Lexham Bible Dictionary, the most advanced Bible dictionary.
This Aramaic phrase is the message written on the wall of Belshazzar’s banquet hall as reported in Dan 5:25. Many English translations simply transliterate the Aramaic words since the words themselves are enigmatic and symbolic. Daniel explains the phrase in Dan 5:26–28. Belshazzar was holding a feast in his palace when “fingers like those of a human hand appeared and wrote” (נְפַקָו אֶצְבְּעָן דִּי יַד־אֱנָשׁ וְכָֽתְבָן‎, nephaqau etsbe'an diy yad-enash wekhathevan) on the wall of the palace (Dan 5:5). The appearance of a disembodied hand writing on the wall alarmed the king, who called for his wise men to explain the message (Dan 5:6–7). However, none of the king’s wise men could read or explain the writing, which alarmed the king even more (Dan 5:8–9). Eventually, Daniel is brought in as their last hope for someone who can explain the message (Dan 5:10–16). Daniel’s address to the king is found in Dan 5:17–28. He interprets the enigmatic writing at the very end.The phrase “Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin” probably uses Aramaic nouns related to units of measure. The word “mene” (מְנֵא‎, mene') is likely the unit of measure known as the “mina” (מָנֶה‎, maneh; in Hebrew, e.g., Ezek 45:12; μνᾶ, mna; in Greek, e.g., Luke 19:16), though the Aramaic form could also be a passive participle of the verb “count” (מנה‎, mnh). The word “tekel” (תְּקֵל‎, teqel) is the Aramaic equivalent of the Hebrew word “shekel” (referring to a standard metal weight used as currency). The related verb means “weigh.” The third term, “parsin” (פַּרְסִין‎, parsin), may be a plural or dual form of the noun פְּרֵס‎ (peres), an Aramaic word for a half measure or half portion, here either half of a mina or half of a shekel. Daniel uses only the singular form of the word in his explanation in Dan 5:28. The related verb denotes breaking or dividing. Daniel interprets these words from the writing on the wall using the verbs related to these nouns for measurement (Dan 5:26–28):• Mene (מְנֵא‎, mene')—God has counted (מנה‎, mnh)• Tekel (תְּקֵל‎, teqel)—You were weighed (תקל‎, tql)• Peres (פְּרֵס‎, peres)—Your kingdom has been divided in two (פרס‎, prs)The surface meaning of the terms should have been clear enough as references to weights and measures. The king and his wise men, however, could make no sense of the words or what they signified for Belshazzar. Daniel explains the message by playing on the verbal meanings: being numbered, being weighed, being divided. The writing on the wall announced that the fall of Babylon was imminent. Babylon fell to the Medo-Persian Empire in 539 bc.
Dictionaries
The Lexham Bible Dictionary
Mene, Mene, Tekel and Parsin
Mene, Mene, Tekel and Parsin (מְנֵא מְנֵא תְּקֵל וּפַרְסִין‎, mene' mene' teqel upharsin). This Aramaic phrase is the message written on the wall of Belshazzar’s banquet hall as reported in Dan 5:25. Many English translations simply transliterate the Aramaic words since the words themselves are enigmatic
Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible
Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin
Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin. Mysterious prophetic words in Daniel 5:25 pointing to the judgment of God against Babylon and her king. A decade or so following the death of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (562 bc), a man of lesser moral stature, Belshazzar, became monarch of the empire. The fifth chapter
Parsin
Parsin. Aramaic word interpreted as “divided” (Dn 5:25, 28).See Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin.
Peres
Peres. Singular form of Parsin meaning “divided” (Dn 5:28).See Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin.
Tekel
Tekel. Aramaic word interpreted as “weighed” in Daniel 5:25, 27.See Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin.
Upharsin
Upharsin. Aramaic word interpreted as “divided” in Daniel 5:25 (kjv).See Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised
Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin
Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin mēʹnē, tekʹəl, părʹsin [Aram meenēʾ meenēʾ teqēl ûp̱arsîn]; AV, RV, UPHARSIN; NEB U-PHARSIN. The words that according to Dnl. 5:25 appeared on the wall during Belshazzar’s feast. The u- attached to parsîn, the Aramaic conjunction “and,” softens the following
Tyndale Bible Dictionary
Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin
MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN Mysterious prophetic words in Daniel 5:25 pointing to the judgment of God against Babylon and her king. A decade or so following the death of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (562 bc), a man of lesser moral stature, Belshazzar, became monarch of the empire. The fifth chapter of
Parsin
PARSIN Aramaic word interpreted as “divided” (Dn 5:25, 28). See Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin.
Peres
PERES* Singular form of Parsin, meaning “divided” (Dn 5:28). See Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin.
Tekel
TEKEL Aramaic word interpreted as “weighed” in Daniel 5:25–27. See Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin.
Upharsin
UPHARSIN* Aramaic word interpreted as “divided” in Daniel 5:25 (kjv). See Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin.
The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated)
Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin
mene, mene, tekel, parsin (mee´nee, tek´uhl, pahr´sin), the mysterious words written on the wall in Dan. 5:25. These words confound the Babylonian wise men, but are interpreted for Belshazzar by Daniel (5:26–28), who takes them as the Aramaic verbs mn’, “to number” (“God has numbered the days of your
The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia
Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin
MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. Aramaic words inscribed on the palace wall during Belshazzar’s feast which could be interpreted only by Daniel (Dan 5:25). Two problems relate to the explication of the baffling inscription: form and meaning (“read this writing and show its interpretation,” 5:7).Form. Perhaps
The New Bible Dictionary, Third Edition
Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin
MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. The writing on the wall at Belshazzar’s feast (Dn. 5:25, rsv ‘Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin’, since the u of u-pharsin is the conjunction ‘and’, after which p becomes the spirant ph []). In Daniel’s interpretation (vv. 26–28) menē’ is derived from Aram. menā’, ‘to number’,
Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible
Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin
Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin (Aram. mĕnēʾ, mĕnēʾ, tĕqel ŝp̱arsɩ̂n)Words of judgment which the mysterious hand wrote on the wall of Belshazzar’s banquet hall (Dan. 5:5, 25), reflecting God’s anger against the Babylonian king for profaning the temple vessels and worshipping idols at his banquet.
Eerdmans Bible Dictionary
Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin
Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin [mēˊnĭ, tēˊkəl or tĕkˊəl, pärˊsĭn] (Aram. menē˒ menē˒ teqēl ûp̱arsîn).† The inscription made on the wall of the Babylonian king Belshazzar’s banqueting hall by a mysterious disembodied hand (Dan. 5:5, 24–25; KJV “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin”). The Aramaic
Catholic Bible Dictionary
Mene
MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN The English transcription of the words scrawled on the wall during the banquet of King Belshazzar of Babylon (Dan 5:25). The writing, inscribed by a miraculous hand, terrified the king into hysteria (Dan 5:5–6). He summoned his wizards and magicians, but none could explain the
Smith’s Bible Dictionary
Mene
Mene (numbered), the first word of the mysterious inscription written upon the wall of Belshazzar’s palace, in which Daniel read the doom of the king and his dynasty. Dan. 5:25, 26.
The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary
Me-Ne, Me-Ne, Te-Kel, Uphar-Sin
ME-NE, ME-NE, TE-KEL, UPHAR-SIN. The words of an inscription supernaturally written upon the wall in Belshazzar’s palace (Dan. 5:5–28). The words are Chaldee, and their meaning is given in the text; mne˒, “numbered”; tqēl, “weighed”; ûparsı̂n, from pāras, “divided,” i.e., “dissolved, destroyed.” “In
Peres
PE´RES (peʹres; Aram. pras, to “split up”). One of the three words of the writing on the wall interpreted by Daniel (Dan. 5:28), being the singular of the word rendered “Upharsin” (v. 25). The meaning of the verb is to “divide into pieces,” to “dissolve” the kingdom.
Tekel
TE´KEL (teʹkel; Aram. tḳal, “weighed”). The second word in the sentence of the Babylonian king (Dan. 5:25, 27). The interpretation presents the double meaning “You have been weighed on the scales and found deficient,” i.e., in moral worth.
Key passages
Da 5:13–29

Then Daniel was brought in before the king, and the king spoke and said to Daniel, “You are Daniel who are one of the exiles of Judah whom my predecessor, the king, brought from Judah. And I have heard that a spirit of the gods is in …

See also
Participants
Setting
Important Things
Topics & Themes