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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [1]

the last king of Babylon, and, according to Hales and others, the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar,  Daniel 5:18 . During the period that the Jews were in captivity at Babylon, a variety of singular events concurred to prove that the sins which brought desolation on their country, and subjected them for a period of seventy years to the Babylonish yoke, had not dissolved that covenant relation which, as the God of Abraham, Jehovah had entered into with them; and that any act of indignity perpetrated against an afflicted people, or any insult cast upon the service of their temple, would be regarded as an affront to the Majesty of heaven, and not suffered to pass with impunity, though the perpetrators were the princes and potentates of the earth. Belshazzar was a remarkable instance of this. He had an opportunity of seeing, in the case of his ancestor, how hateful pride is, even in royalty itself; how instantly God can blast the dignity of the brightest crown, and reduce him that wears it to a level with the beasts of the field; and consequently how much the prosperity of kings and the stability of their thrones depend upon acknowledging that "the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will." But all these awful lessons were lost upon Belshazzar.

The only circumstances of his reign, recorded, are the visions of the Prophet Daniel, in the first and third years,  Daniel 7:1;  Daniel 8:1; and his sacrilegious feast and violent death,  Daniel 5:1-30 . Isaiah, who represents the Babylonian dynasty as "the scourge of Palestine," styles Nebuchadnezzar "a serpent," Evil Merodach "a cockatrice," and Belshazzar "a fiery flying serpent," the worst of all,  Isaiah 14:4-29 . And Xenophon confirms this prophetic character by two atrocious instances of cruelty and barbarity, exercised by Belshazzar upon some of his chief and most deserving nobles. He slew the only son of Gobryas, in a transport of rage, because at a hunting match he hit with his spear a bear, and afterward a lion, when the king had missed both; and in a fit of jealousy, he brutally castrated Gadatus, because one of his concubines had commended him as a handsome man. His last and most heinous offence was the profanation of the sacred vessels belonging to the temple of Jerusalem, which his wise grandfather, and even his foolish father Evil Merodach, had respected. Having made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, he ordered those vessels to be brought during the banquet, that he, his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink out of them, which they did; and to aggravate sacrilege by apostasy and rebellion, and ingratitude against the Supreme Author of all their enjoyments, "they praised the gods of gold, silver, brass, iron, and stone, but the God in whose hand was their breath, and whose were all their ways, they praised or glorified not." For these complicated crimes his doom was denounced in the midst of the entertainment; a divine hand appeared, which wrote on the plaister of the wall, opposite to the king, and full in his view, a mysterious inscription. This tremendous apparition struck Belshazzar with the greatest terror and agony: "his countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote against each other." This is one of the liveliest and finest amplifications of dismay to be found throughout the sacred classics, and infinitely exceeds, both in accuracy and force, the most admired of the Heathen; such as "et corde et genibus tremit," of Horace, and "tarda trementi genus labant," of Virgil.

Unable himself to decypher the writing, Belshazzar cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers, promising that whosoever should read the writing, and explain to him its meaning, should be clothed with scarlet, have a chain of gold about his neck, and be the third ruler in his kingdom. But the writing was too difficult for the Magi; at which the king was still more greatly troubled. In this crisis, and at the instance of the queen mother, the Prophet Daniel was sent for, to whom honours were promised, on condition of his explaining the writing. Daniel refused the honours held out to him; but having with great faithfulness pointedly reproved the monarch for his ingratitude to God who had conferred on him such dignity, and particularly for his profanation of the vessels which were consecrated to his service, he proceeded to the interpretation of the words which had been written, and still stood visible on the wall. They were, 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." In that very night, in the midst of their mirth and revelling, the city was taken by surprise, Belshazzar himself put to death, and the kingdom transferred to Darius the Mede. If the character of the hand-writing was known to the Magi of Babylon, the meaning could not be conjectured. Perhaps, however, the character was that of the ancient Hebrew, or what we now call the Samaritan; and in that case it would be familiar to Daniel, though rude and unintelligible to the Chaldeans. But even if Daniel could read the words, the import of this solemn graphic message to the proud and impious monarch could only have been made known to the prophet by God. All the ideas the three words convey, are numbering, weighing, and dividing. It was only for the power which sent the omen to unfold, not in equivocal terms, like the responses of Heathen oracles, but in explicit language, the decision of the righteous Judge, the termination of his long suffering, and the instant visitation of judgment. See Babylon .

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [2]

Contracted from Belsharezar: from Βel , the Babylonian idol, and Shar , a "king"; Zar is a common Babylonian termination, as in Nebuchadnez-zar. His solemnly instructive history is graphically told in Daniel 5. See Babel ; BABYLON, for the remarkable confirmation of the Scripture account of his death on the night of revelry in the siege of Babylon; which is also stated by Xenophon; whereas Berosus in Josephus calls the last king Nabonedus (Nabonahit, i.e. Nebo makes prosperous) and says that in the 17th year of his reign Cyrus took Babylon, the king having retired to Borsippa (the Chaldaean sacred city of religion and science); and that having surrendered there, he had a principality assigned to him in Carmania by Cyrus. The inscription at Umqeer (Ur of the Chaldees), read by Sir H. Rawlinson, strews that Nabonedus admitted his son Belshazzar into a share of the kingdom, just as Nabopolassar admitted Nebuchadnezzar his sort to share in the government, Xerxes admitted his son Artaxerxes, and Augustus his successor Tiberius; so that the discrepancy is cleared.

Nabonedus, defeated by Cyrus in the field, fled to Borsippa, and survived. Belshazzar fell in the last assault of Babylon. Xenophon calls the last king of Babylon "impious," and illustrates his cruelty by the fact that he killed a courtier for having struck down the game in hunting before him, and unmanned Gadates a courtier at a banquet, because one of the king's courtiers praised him as handsome. His reckless infatuation is marked by his making a feast when the enemy was thundering at his gates; compare  1 Thessalonians 5:3-7 for the lesson to us. He set at nought eastern propriety by introducing women and even concubines at the feast. His crowning guilt, which made the cup overflow in vengeance, was his profaning the vessels of Jehovah's temple to be the instrument of revelry to himself, his princes, wives, and concubines, drinking out of them in honor of his idols.

Security, sensuality, and profanity are the sure forerunners of the sinner's doom. Intoxicating drinks tempt men to daring profanity, which even they would shrink from when sober. To mark the inseparable connection of sin and punishment, "the same hour" that witnessed his impious insult to Jehovah witnessed the mysterious hand of the unseen One writing his doom in full view of his fellow transgressors on the same palace wall which had been covered with cuneiform inscriptions glorifying those Babylonian kings. Compare  Proverbs 16:18. His daring bravado was in an instant changed into abject fear; conscience can turn the most foolhardy into a coward. His promise that whosoever should read the writing should be "third ruler in the kingdom" is probably an undesigned coincidence with the historic truth now known that Nabonedus was the chief king, Belshazzar secondary, and so the ruler advanced to the next place would be Third ( Daniel 5:7).

Daniel having been summoned at the suggestion of Nitocris, the queen mother, probably wife of Evil Merodach, Nebuchadnezzar's son, faithfully reproved him for that though knowing how God had humbled his forefather Nebuchadnezzar for God-despising, self-magnifying pride, he yet "lifted himself against the Lord of heaven"; therefore Μενε , God has numbered thy years of reign and the number is complete, compare  Psalms 90:12. Τεκεl , weighed in the balances of God's truth, thou art found wanting. Uρηαrsιν , or Ρεrεs , alluding to the similar word "Persians," thy kingdom is divided among the Medes and Persians. Cyrus diverted the Euphrates into a channel, and guided by Gobryas and Gadatas, deserters, marched by the dry channel into Babylon, while the citizens were carousing at an annual feast to the idols ( Isaiah 21:5;  Isaiah 44:27;  Jeremiah 50:29-35;  Jeremiah 50:38-39;  Jeremiah 51:36;  Jeremiah 51:57). Belshazzar was slain; compare  Isaiah 14:18-20.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [3]

The last king of the Babylonish empire, who, at a festival, when he desecrated the sacred vessels of Jerusalem, was warned of God by the fingers of a man's hand writing upon the wall. He had been weighed by God and was found wanting. Though remonstrated with by Daniel he showed no signs of repentance, and in the midst of the festivities the city was taken by Cyrus or one of his generals and the king was slain. The monuments record that it was taken by Gobryas. The queen, probably the queen-mother, was not at such a scene of revelry, and she could tell of one who would be able to interpret the writing on the wall. See MENE

For a long time Daniel's account of the taking of the city and of Belshazzar being the last king, was held to be contradicted by history, which names several kings between Nebuchadnezzar and the close of the empire. Of these, two are mentioned in scripture: Evil-merodach,  2 Kings 25:27;  Jeremiah 52:31; and Nergal-sharezer.  Jeremiah 39:3,13 . Two others are also named in history, Laborosoarchod and Nabonadius or Labynetus: the former reigned only nine months, and the latter cannot be made to agree with Belshazzar; but happily Col. Rawlinson in A.D. 1854 at Mugheir, the ancient Ur, found an inscription on a monument to the effect that Nabonadius associated his son Bel-shar-eser with himself on the throne. Some tablets also have been discovered bearing the record of certain contracts made by Bilu-sarra-utsur, son of the king, which is also believed to refer to Belshazzar.

Nabonadius was elsewhere, and Belshazzar was slain. This agrees with his saying to Daniel that if he could interpret the writing he should be the third in the kingdom. Belshazzar is called the son of Nebuchadnezzar, but this in scripture often means grandson, and Nabonadius is supposed to have married a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar. He is said to have been a usurper, and by such a marriage would have consolidated his position on the throne.  Daniel 5:1-30;  Daniel 7:1;  Daniel 8:1 .

Easton's Bible Dictionary [4]

 Daniel 5:1 Daniel 5:2 Daniel 5:30

The absence of the name of Belshazzar on the monuments was long regarded as an argument against the genuineness of the Book of Daniel. In 1854Sir Henry Rawlinson found an inscription of Nabonidus which referred to his eldest son. Quite recently, however, the side of a ravine undermined by heavy rains fell at Hillah, a suburb of Babylon. A number of huge, coarse earthenware vases were laid bare. These were filled with tablets, the receipts and contracts of a firm of Babylonian bankers, which showed that Belshazzar had a household, with secretaries and stewards. One was dated in the third year of the king Marduk-sar-uzur. As Marduk-sar-uzar was another name for Baal, this Marduk-sar-uzur was found to be the Belshazzar of Scripture. In one of these contract tablets, dated in the July after the defeat of the army of Nabonidus, we find him paying tithes for his sister to the temple of the sun-god at Sippara.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [5]

Belshazzar ( Bel-Shăs'Zar ), Bel'S Prince, or May Bel Protect The King, was the son or grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, and the last Assyrian king of Babylon.  Daniel 5:1;  Daniel 5:18. During the siege of the city of Babylon he gave a sumptuous entertainment to his courtiers, and impiously made use of the temple furniture (of which Nebuchadnezzar had plundered the temple at Jerusalem) as drinking-vessels. In the midst of the festivities, to the terror of the king, a hand miraculously appeared to be writing upon the wall: Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin . Daniel was called in to explain the mystery, which, interpreted, proved to be a prophecy of the king's death and the kingdom's overthrow, which took place in the course of the succeeding night, when Darius the Median captured the city.  Daniel 5:25-31.

Holman Bible Dictionary [6]

 Daniel 5:1 Daniel 5:28 Daniel 5:30

Apart from the account in the Book of Daniel, little is known about Belshazzar. He was the son of Nabonidus, and reigned as co-regent with his father (553-539 B.C.). Nabonidus travelled to Arabia and left Belshazzar in control according to a Babylonian inscription. From the standpoint of Babylonian history, Belshazzar was not a particularly important personage except that he participated in the decisions and events leading to the fall of the Babylonian empire.

See Babylon .

Smith's Bible Dictionary [7]

Belshaz'zar. (Prince Of Bel). The last king of Babylon. In  Daniel 5:2, Nebuchadnezzar is called, the father of Belshazzar. This, of course, need only mean, grandfather or ancestor. According to the well-known narrative, Belshazzar gave a splendid feast in his palace, during the siege of Babylon, (B.C. 538), using the sacred vessels of the Temple, which Nebuchadnezzer had brought from Jerusalem. The miraculous appearance of the handwriting on the wall, the calling in of Daniel to interpret its meaning, the prophecy of the overthrow of the kingdom, and Belshazsar's death, accorded in Daniel 5.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [8]

BELSHAZZAR . Son of Nebuchadnezzar, last king of Babylon, before its capture by Cyrus (  Daniel 5:1 ). The name is somewhat variously given: Baltasar , Bar 1:11 f. [so also LXX [Note: Septuagint.] and Theod. in Daniel]; and Josephus says he was son of Naboandçlos. There is no doubt that Bçlshar-usur, son of Nabonidus, is meant. He was regent in Babylon during the latter part of his father’s reign. It is probable that he was in command of Babylon on its surrender, as he had been in command of the army in Akkad till the 11th year of his father’s reign.

C. H. W. Johns.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [9]

King of Babylon. His history, which is very awful, we have, ( Daniel 5:1-31) His name is compounded of Baal, lord; and Otzer, treasure; intimating, no doubt, his great riches and power.

See Mene

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [10]

Prince of Bel, the Chaldean name given to Daniel at the court of Nebuchadnezzar,  Daniel 1:7   4:8 .

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [11]

(Heb. and Chald. Belshatstsar' [on the signif. see below], בֵּלְשִׁאצִּר ; Sept. Βαλτάσαρ ) is the name given in the book of Daniel to the last king of the Chaldees, under whom Babylon was taken by the Medes and Persians (chap. 5, 1; 7:1; 8, ). B.C. 538. Herodotus calls this king, and also his father, Labynetus, which is undoubtedly a corruption of Nabonnedus, the name by which he was known to Berosus, in Joseph. Contr. Apion. 1, 20. Yet in Josephus ( Ant. 10, 11, 2) it is stated that Baltasar was called Naboandel by the Babylonians. Nabonadius in the Canon Of Ptolemy, Nabonedus in Euseb. Chron. Armen. 1, 60 (from Alexander Polyhistor), and Nabonnidochus in Euseb. Praep. Evang. 9, 41 (from Megasthenes), are evidently other varieties of his name. The only circumstances recorded of him in Scripture are his impious feast and violent death (Daniel 5). During the period that the Jews were in captivity at Babylon, a variety of singular events concurred to prove that the sins which brought desolation on their country, and subjected them for a while to the Babylonish yoke, had not dissolved that covenant relation which, as the God of Abraham, Jehovah had entered into with them; and that any act of indignity perpetrated against this afflicted people, or any insult cast upon the service of their temple, would be regarded as an affront to the Majesty of Heaven, and not suffered to pass with impunity. The fate of Belshazzar affords a remarkable instance of this. He had had an opportunity of seeing in the case of his ancestors how hateful pride is, even in royalty itself; how instantly God can blast the dignity of the brightest crown, and consequently, how much the prosperity of kings and the stability of their thrones depend upon acknowledging that "the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will." But this solemn lesson was lost upon Belshazzar. According to the views of some, Isaiah, in representing the Babylonian dynasty as the scourge, of Palestine, styles Nebuchadnezzar a "serpent," Evil-Merodach a "cockatrice," and Belshazzar a "fiery flying serpent," the worst of all ( Isaiah 14:4-29); but there is no reason for supposing the prophet in this passage to allude to any other event than the overthrow of the Philistines in the time of Hezekiah (see Henderson, Comment. in loc.).'

The Scriptural narrative states that Belshazzar was warned of his coming doom by the handwriting on the wall that was interpreted by Daniel, and was slain during a splendid feast in his palace. Similarly Xenophon (Cyrop. 7, 5, 3) tells us that Babylon was taken by Cyrus in the night, while the inhabitants were engaged in feasting and revelry, and that the king was killed. On the other hand, the narratives of Berosus in Josephus (Apion, 1, 20) and of Herodotus (1, 184 sq.) differ from the above account in some in important particulars. Berosus calls the last king of Babylon Nabonnedus or Nabonadius (Nabu-nit or Nabo-nahit, i.e. Nebo blesses or makes prosperous), and says that in the 17th year of his reign Cyrus took Babylon, the king having retired to the neighboring city of Borsippus or Borsippa (Birs-i-Nimrud), called by Niebuhr (Lect. on Anc. Hist. 12) "the Chaldaean Benares, the city in which the Chaldaeans had their most revered objects of religion, and where they cultivated their science." Being blockaded in that city, Nabonnedus surrendered, his life was spared, and a principality or estate given to him in Carmania, where he died. According to Herodotus, the last king was called Labynetus, a name easy to reconcile with the Nabonnedus of Berosus, and the Nabannidochus of Megasthenes (Euseb. Praep. Evang. 9, 41). Cyrus, after defeating Labynetus in the open field, appeared before Babylon, within which the besieged defied attack and even blockade, as they had walls 300 feet high and 75 feet thick, forming a square of 15 miles to a side, and had stored up previously several years' provision. But he took the city by drawing off for a time the waters of the Euphrates, and then marching in with his whole army along its bed, during a great Babylonian festival, while the people, feeling perfectly secure, were scattered over the whole city in reckless amusement. These discrepancies have lately been cleared up by the discoveries of Sir Henry Rawlinson; and the histories of profane writers, far from contradicting the scriptural narrative, are shown to explain and confirm it.

In 1854 he deciphered the inscriptions on some cylinders found in the ruins of Um-Kir (the ancient Ur of the Chaldees), containing memorials of the works executed by Nabonnedus (Jour. Sac. Lit. 1854, p. 252; Jan. 1862). From these inscriptions it appears that the eldest son of Nabonnedus was called Bel-shar-ezar, and admitted by his father to a share in the government. This name is compounded of Bel (the Babylonian god), Shar (a king), and the same termination as in Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar, etc., and is contracted into Belshazzar, just as Neriglissar (again with the same termination) is formed from Nergal-sharezar. In a communication to the Athenaeum, No. 1377, Sir Henry Rawlinson says, "We can now understand how Belshazzar, as joint king with his father, may have been governor of Babylon when the city was attacked by the combined forces of the Medes and Persians, and may have perished in the assault which followed while Nabonnedus leading a force to the relief of the place was defeated, and obliged to take refuge in Borsippa, capitulating after a short resistance, and being subsequently assigned, according to Berosus, an honorable retirement in Carmania." In accordance with this view, we arrange the last Chaldaean kings as follows: Nebuchadnezzar, his son Evilmerodach, Neriglissar, Labrosoarchad (his son, a boy, killed in a conspiracy), Nabonnedus or Labynetus, and Belshazzar. Herodotus says that Labynetus was the son of Queen Nitocris; and Megasthenes (Euseb. Chr. Arm. p. 60) tells us that he succeeded Labrosoarchad, but was not of his family. In  Daniel 5:2, Nebuchadnezzar is called the father of Belshazzar. This, of course, need only mean grandfather or ancestor. Now Neriglissar usurped the throne on the murder of Evilmerodach (Beros. ap. Joseph. Apion, 1): we may therefore well suppose that on the death of his son Labrosoarchad, Nebuchadnezzar's family was restored in the person of Nabonnedus or Labynetus, possibly the son of that king and Nitocris, and father of Belshazzar. The chief objection to this supposition would be, that if Neriglissar married Nebuchadnezzar's daughter (Joseph. c. Revelation 1, 21 ), Nabonnedus would through her be connected with Labrosoarchad. This difficulty is met by the theory of Rawlinson ( Herod. Essay 8, § 25), who connects Belshazzar with Nebuchadnezzar through his mother, thinking it probable that Nebu-nahit, whom he does not consider related to Nebuchadnezzar, would strengthen his position by marrying the daughter of that king, who would thus be Belshazzar's maternal grandfather. A totally different view is taken by Marcus Niebuhr (Geschichte Assur's und Babel's seit Phul, p. 91), who considers Belshazzar to be another name for Evilmerodach, the son of Nebuchadnezzar. He identifies their characters by comparing Daniel v with the language of Berosus about Evilmerodach ( Προτὰς Τῶν Πραγμάτων Ἀνόμως Καὶ Ἀσελγῶς ). He considers that the capture of Babylon described in Daniel was not by the Persians, but by the Medes, under Astyages (i.e. Darius the Mede), and that between the reigns of Evilmerodach or Belshazzar, and Neriglissar, we must insert a brief period during-which Babylon was subject to the Medes. This solves a difficulty as to the age of Darius ( Daniel 5:31; comp. Rawlinson, Essay 3, § 11), but most people will probably prefer the actual facts discovered by Sir Henry Rawlinson to the theory (though doubtless very ingenious) of Niebuhr. On Rawlinson's view, Belshazzar died B.C. 538, on Niebuhr's B.C. 559 (Gobel, De Belsasaro, Laub. 1757). (See Babylonia).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [12]

bel - shaz´ar ( בּלשׁאצּר , bēlsha'ccar  ; Βαλτασάρ , Baltasár , Babylonian Bel - shar - uṣur ): According to  Daniel 5:30 , he was the Chaldean king under whom Babylon was taken by Darius the Mede. The Babylonian monuments speak a number of times of a Bel - shar - uṣur who was the "firstborn son, the offspring of the heart of" Nabunaid, the last king of the Babylonian empire, that had been founded by Nabopolassar, the father of Nebuchadnezzar, at the time of the death of Ashurbanipal, king of Assyria, in 626 bc. There is no doubt that this Belshazzar is the same as the Belshazzar of Dnl. It is not necessary to suppose that Belshazzar was at any time king of the Babylonian empire in the sense that Nebuchadnezzar and Nabunaid were. It is probable, as M. Pognon argues, that a son of Nabunaid, called Nabunaid after his father, was king of Babylon, or Babylonian king, in Harran (Haran), while his father was overlord in Babylon. This second Nabunaid is called "the son of the offspring of the heart" of Nabunaid his father. It is possible that this second Nabundid was the king who was killed by Cyrus, when he crossed the Tigris above Arbela in the 9th year of Nabunaid his father, and put to death the king of the country (see the Nabunaid-Cyrus Chronicle col. ii, 17); since according to the Eshki-Harran inscription, Nabunaid the Second died in the 9th year of Nabunaid the First. Belshazzar may have been the son of the king who is said in the same chronicle to have commanded the Babylonian army in Accad from the 6th to the 11th year of Nabunaid I; or, possibly longer, for the annals before the 6th and after the 11th year are broken and for the most part illegible. This same son of the king is most probably mentioned again in the same chronicle as having died in the night in which Babylon was captured by Gobryas of Gutium. As Nabunaid II, though reigning at Hatran under the overlordship of his father, is called king of Babylon on the same inscription on which his father is called by the same title; so Belshazzar may have been called king of Babylon, although he was only crown prince. It is probable also, that as Nabunaid I had made one of his sons king of Harran, so he had made another king of Chaldea. This would account for Belshazzar's being called in  Daniel 5:30 the Chaldean king, although, to be sure, this word Chaldean may describe his race rather than his kingdom. The 3rd year of Belshazzar spoken of in   Daniel 8:1 , would then refer to his 3rd year as subking of the Chaldeans under his father Nabunaid, king of Babylon, just as Cambyses was later subking of Babylon, while his father Cyrus was king of the lands. From the Book of Daniel we might infer that this subkingdom embraced Chaldea and Susiana, and possibly the province of Babylon; and from the Nabunaid-Cyrus Chronicle that it extended over Accad as well. That the city of Babylon alone was sometimes at least governed by an official called king is highly probable, since the father of Nergal - shar - uṣur is certainly, and the father of Nabunaid I is probably, called king of Babylon, in both of which cases, the city, or at most the province, of Babylon must have been meant, since we know to a certainty all of the kings who had been ruling over the empire of Babylon since 626 bc, when Nabopolassar became king, and the names of neither of these fathers of kings is found among them.

In addition to Nabunaid II, Belshazzar seems to have had another brother named Nebuchadnezzar, since the two Babylonian rebels against Darius Hystaspis both assumed the name of Nebuchadnezzar the son of Nabunaid (see the Behistun Inscription, I, 85, 89, 95). He had a sister also named Ina-esagilaremat, and a second named probably Ukabu'shai' - na .

Belshazzar had his own house in Babylon, where he seems to have been engaged in the woolen or clothing trade. He owned also estates from which he made large gifts to the gods. His father joins his name with his own in some of his prayers to the gods, and apparently appointed him commander of the army of Accad, whose especial duty it was to defend the city of Babylon against the attacks of the armies of Media and Persia.

It would appear from the Nabunaid-Cyrus Chronicle, that Belshazzar was de facto king of the Babylonian empire, all that was left of it, from the 4th to the 8th month of the 17th year of the reign of his father Nabunaid, and that he died on the night in which Babylon was taken by Gobryas of Gutium (that is, probably, Darius The Mede (which see)).

The objection to the historical character of the narrative of Daniel, based upon the fact that Belshazzar in  Daniel 5:11 ,  Daniel 5:18 is said to have been the son of Nebuchadnezzar whereas the monuments state that he was the son of Nabunaid, is fully met by supposing that one of them was his real and the other his adoptive father; or by supposing that the queen-mother and Daniel referred to the greatest of his predecessors as his father, just as Omri is called by the Assyrians the father of Jehu, and as the claimants to the Medo-Pers throne are called on the Behistun Inscription the sons of Cyaxares, and as at present the reigning sheikhs of northern Arabia are all called the sons of Rashid, although in reality they are not his sons.


The best sources of information as to the life and times of Belshazzar for English readers are: The Records of the Past  ; Pinches, The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records of Assyria and Babylonia  ; Sayce, The Higher Criticism and the Monuments  ; and W. W. Wright's two great works, Daniel and His Prophecies and Daniel and His Critics .

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [13]

Belshaz´zar is the name given in the book of Daniel to the last king of the Chaldees, under whom Babylon was taken by the Medes and Persians. Nothing is really known of this king except from the book of Daniel.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [14]

The last Chaldean king of Babylon, slain, according to the Scripture account, at the capture of the city by Cyrus in 538 B.C.