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The Prophecies of Belshazzar's Reign

Belshazzar (not to be confused with Belteshazzar, the Babylonian name given to the prophet Daniel i.e. "he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar," Daniel 1:7 KJV) was the last king of the Babylonian empire, at the time that it fell to the Persian empire. A number of major prophecies were given by God to Daniel during the reign of Belshazzar, while Belshazzar himself is perhaps best-known to Bible History and Prophecy for his "writing on the wall" incident.

"In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions"

The Four Beasts prophecy was given to Daniel "in the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon." The beasts represented the Babylonian (see Ancient Empires - Babylon), Persian (see Ancient Empires - Persia), Greek (see Ancient Empires - Greece) and Roman (see Ancient Empires - Rome) empires - long before the Persian, Greek and Roman empires came into existence. The prophecy was written while the Babylonian empire was in power i.e. "in the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions."

The Four Beasts

"In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters. Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another." (Daniel 7:1-3 KJV)

In the third year of Belshazzar's reign, Daniel was given the vision of the "ram," the "he-goat" and the "little horn" that came out from the he-goat. As plainly explained in the Scriptures themselves, the ram that pushed "westward, and northward, and southward" (i.e. it was a power that came out of the east) was the Persian empire ("the ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia," Daniel 8:20 KJV), the he-goat that "came from the west" was the Greek empire, and Alexander the Great ("the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king," Daniel 8:21 KJV) and the little horn was Antiochus IV, one of the successor kings of Alexander (see The Seleucids; also The Ptolemies).

The prophecy is one of the most amazing of the Bible in that it accurately describes the rise and fall of the Persian empire while the Babylonian empire that it conquered still existed, and then accurately describes the Greek empire that would conquer the Persian empire, and more amazingly describes Alexander the Great perfectly, centuries before he was even born (see also Alexander The Great In Prophecy).

"In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel, after that which appeared unto me at the first. And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai. Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last. I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great."

"And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power. And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand. Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven."

"And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down." (Daniel 8:1-11 KJV)

History and prophecy are sometimes dealt with separately, hence the prophecies recorded in chapters 7 and 8 of the book of Daniel actually occurred before the historical account of Belshazzar's fall in chapter 5, the famous Writing On The Wall that Daniel interpreted for Belshazzar, that marked the end for Belshazzar: "In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom."

The Writing On The Wall

"Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the Temple which was in Jerusalem [see Why Babylon?; also Raiders Of The Lost Ark]; 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. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone. In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote." (Daniel 5:1-5 KJV)

"And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old." (Daniel 5:25-31 KJV)

Fact Finder: How was the same prophecy about the four great empires (Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome) that was given to Daniel as "four beasts" during the reign of Belshazzar given to an earlier king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, in the form of a great statue?
See Nebuchadnezzar's Dream

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