Babylon was in a period of political unrest. Nabonidus had become king, but was living in the Arabian desert. His son, Belshazzar became a regent over Babylon, but served the duties of king.
While serving as regent or substitute king, Belshazzar hosted a great feast at which he called for the gold and silver vessels that had been plundered years earlier from the temple of God.
As the king and his guests drank wine from those vessels and praised their various gods, a strange event occurred. Fingers of a man’s hand appeared, writing upon the plaster wall. After his astrologers, Chaldeans, soothsayers and wise men had failed to interrupt the writing, the terrified Belshazzar, at the suggestion of the queen called for Daniel.
The aged prophet read the words, “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.” They pronounced bad news to the wicked Belshazzar. “MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.”
Even though the news was bad, Belshazzar ordered that Daniel be clothed with royal purple with a golden chain around his neck and pronounced third ruler in the kingdom.
Belshazzar was slain that very night and the kingdom was received by Darius, the Mede.