A Firsthand Account
The Prophet Daniel recorded the history of Cyrus’s conquest of Babylon. Remember, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had taken Daniel to Babylon as a slave at the start of the sixth century b.c. By the time Cyrus took Babylon, Daniel had been there for about 50 years. He was well known and well liked in the king’s court, thanks largely to his interactions with King Nebuchadnezzar.
Daniel was actually inside the palace in Babylon when Cyrus’s army was digging the channel and preparing to penetrate the city!
You can read the history in Daniel 5. Verse 1 says that “Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.” Belshazzar was the grandson of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and the son of Nabonidus, who was Babylon’s king at the time. Belshazzar was ruling as king, however, while his father was away campaigning. Belshazzar made this great feast in the banquet hall of the palace in Babylon.
Archaeologists have uncovered this banquet hall, which was an impressive size of 60 feet by 172 feet. He invited 1,000 of his top rulers to this party. The top brass of the entire Babylonian kingdom was present that night. Daniel 5 continues: “Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his [grandfather] Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them” (verses 2-3). Belshazzar wanted the temple vessels brought out so he could use them in his party.
“In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another” (verses 5-6). Belshazzar and his princes couldn’t believe what they had witnessed.
Notice the phrasing. Belshazzar’s “countenance was changed … so that the joints of his loins were loosed.” Remember Isaiah 45:1, where God said He would “loose the loins of kings.” In this chilling moment, this prophecy was literally and powerfully fulfilled!