Story Eleven

 •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 5
THE great kingdom or empire of Nĕb-u-chad-nĕź zar was made up of many smaller kingdoms which he had conquered. As long as he lived his kingdom was strong; but as soon as he died it began to fall in pieces. His son became king in his place, but was soon slain; and one king followed another quickly for some years. The last king was named Nā-boń i-dus. He made his son Belshazzar king with himself, and left Bĕl-shăź zar to rule in the city of Băb́ y̆-lon, while he was caring for the more distant parts of the kingdom.
But a new nation was rising to power. Far to the east were the kingdoms of Mḗ dĭ-ȧ and Pe͂ŕ s̝iȧ. These two peoples had become one, and were at war with Băb́ y̆-lon, under their great leader, Cȳ́ rus. While Bĕl-shăź zar was ruling in the city of Băb́ y̆-lon, Cȳ́ rus and his Pēŕ s̝ian soldiers were on the outside, around the walls, trying to take the city. These walls were so great and high that the Pēŕ s̝ian soldiers could not break through them.
But inside the city were many who were enemies of Bĕĺ shăź zar and were friendly with Cȳ́ rus. These people opened the gates of Băb́ y̆-lon to Cȳ́ rus. At night he brought his army quietly into the city and surrounded the palace of King Bĕl-shăź zar.
On that night King Bĕl-shăź zar was holding in the palace a great feast in honor of his god. On the tables were the golden cups and vessels that Nĕb-u-chad-nĕź zar had taken from the Temple of the Lord in Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm; and around the table were the king, his many wives, and a thousand of his princes and nobles. They did not know that their city was taken, and that their enemies were at the very doors of the palace.
While they were all drinking wine together suddenly a strange thing was seen. On the wall appeared a great hand writing letters and words that no one could read. Every eye was drawn to the spot, and all saw the fingers moving on the wall, and the letters written. The king was filled with fear. His face became pale and his knees shook. He called for the wise men of Băb́ y̆-lon, who were with him in the palace, to tell what the writing meant. He said, "Whoever can read the words on the wall shall be dressed in a purple robe, and shall have a chain of gold around his neck, and shall rank next to King Bĕl-shăź zar as the third ruler in the kingdom.”
But not one of the wise men could read it, for God had not given to them the power. At last the queen of Băb́ y̆-lon said to Bĕl-shăź zar, "O king, may you live forever! There is one man who can read this writing, a man in whom is the spirit of the holy gods, a man whom Nĕb-u-chad-nĕź zar, your father, made master of all the wise men. His name is Dăń iel. Send for him, and he will tell you what these words are and what they mean.”
Dăń iel was now an old man; and since the time when Nĕb-u-chad-nĕź zar died he had been no longer in his high place as ruler and chief adviser of the king. They sent for Dăń iel, and he came. The king said to him, "Are you that Dăń iel who was brought many years ago by my father to this city? I have heard of you, that the spirit of the holy gods is upon you, and that you have wisdom and knowledge. If you can read this writing upon the wall, and tell me what it means, I will give you a purple robe, and a gold chain, and a place next to myself as the third ruler in the kingdom."
And Dăń iel answered the king, "You may keep your rewards yourself, and may give your gifts to whom you please, for I do not want them; but I will read to you the writing. O king, the Most High God gave to Nĕb-u-chad-nĕź zar this kingdom, and great power, and glory. But when Nĕb-u-chad-nĕz' zar became proud, and boasted of his greatness, then the Lord took from him his crown and his throne, and let him live among the beasts of the field, until he knew that the Most High God rules over the kingdoms of men. O Bĕl-shăź zar, you knew all this, yet you have not been humble in heart. You have risen up against the Lord, and have taken the vessels of his house, and have drunk wine in them in honor of your own gods of wood and stone; but you have not praised the Lord God who has given to you your kingdom and your power. For this reason God has sent this hand to write these words upon the wall. This is the writing, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. And this is the meaning, Numbered, Numbered, Weighed, Divided.
"MENE: God has counted the years of your kingdom, and has brought it to an end.
"TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and have been found wanting.
"UPHARSIN: Your kingdom is divided, and taken from you, and given to the Mēdes̝ and the Pe͂ŕ s̝ians̝.”
King Bĕl-shăź zar could scarcely believe what he heard; but he commanded that the promised reward be given to Dăń iel. And almost while he was speaking his end came. The Pe͂ŕ s̝ians̝ and the Mēdes̝ burst into his palace; they seized Bĕl-shăź zar and killed him in the midst of his feast.
On that night the empire or great kingdom set up by Nĕb-u-chad-nĕź zar came to an end. A new empire arose, greater than that of Băb́ y̆-lon, called the Pēŕ s̝ian Empire. And in the place of Bĕl-shăź zar, Cȳ́ rus, the commander of the Pe͂ŕ s̝ians̝, made an old man named Dā̇-rī́ us king until the time when he was ready to take the kingdom for himself.
This empire of Pe͂ŕ s̝ia was the third of the world-kingdoms of which we read in the Bible. The first was the Ăs-sy̆ŕ ĭ-an kingdom, having Nĭń e-veh for its capital. This was the kingdom that carried the Ten Tribes of Ĭś̝ ra-el into captivity. The second was the Băb-y̆-ni-an or Chăl-dḗ an kingdom, which carried the Jews into captivity. And the third was the Pe͂ŕ s̝ian kingdom, which lasted two hundred years, ruling all the lands named in the Bible.