5:1 Belshazzar. Belshazzar (meaning “Bel protect the king”) was long believed by skeptics to have been a non-existent mythical personage; this contention was used by critics as proof that the book of Daniel was written much later than Biblical scholars have surmised. Historians and archaeologists later proved, however, that Belshazzar did exist and was actually co-regent in Babylon at the time of the Persian conquest. Nebuchadnezzar was his “father” (Daniel 5:2) in the ancestral sense. His actual father Nabonidus, who was either a son or son-in-law of Nebuchadnezzar, was king at the time, but he was away in Arabia on an archaeological reconstruction project. The Medo-Persian army was outside of Babylon and possibly had either captured Nabonidus or at least had cut him off from returning to the city. Belshazzar, ruling in his place, and knowing of the threat to the city but feeling secure behind its great walls, had the effrontery to make a great feast and drink wine in praise to Babylon’s many nature gods.
5:4 drank wine. Belshazzar, who certainly must have heard of his grandfather’s humiliation and possible conversion to the God of Israel, used the temple vessels from “the house of God” (Daniel 5:3) in what must have been a drunken orgy. As a result of this final and greatest blasphemy of Belshazzar, God could no longer endure Babylonian insolence.