Daniel 5:2

2. 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; that the king and his princes, his wives and his concubines, might drink therein.

2. Beltsazar princepit1 in gustu, vel, sapore, vini, ut afferrent vasa auri et argenti, 2 quae asportaverat, vel, extulerat, Nebuchadnezer pater ejus ex temple quod est in Jerusalem, ut biberent in illis rex, et proceres ejus, uxores et concubine. 3


Here king Belshazzar courts his own punishment, because he furiously stirred up God's wrath against himself, as if he was dissatisfied with its delay while God put off his judgment for so long a period. This is according to what I have said. When the destruction of a house is at hand, the impious remove the posts and gates, as Solomon says. (Proverbs 17:19.) God therefore, when he wishes to execute his judgments, impels the reprobrate by a secret instinct to rush forward of their own accord, and to hasten their own destruction. Belshazzar did this. His carelessness was the sign of his stupidity, and also of God's wrath, when in the midst of his own pride and crimes he could delight in reveling. Thus his blindness more clearly points out God's vengeance, since he was not content with his own intemperance and excesses, but must openly declare war against God. He ordered, therefore, says he, the gold and silver vessels to be brought to him which he had taken away from Nebuchadnezzar. These vessels appear to have been laid up in the treasury; hence Nebuchadnezzar had never abused these vessels in his lifetime; we do not read that Evil-Merodach did anything of this kind, and Belshazzar now wishes purposely to inflict this insult on God. There is no doubt he brought forth those vessels by way of ridicule, for the purpose of triumphing over the true God, as we shall afterwards see.

We have already explained the sense in which the Prophet calls Nebuchadnezzar the father of Belshazzar, since it is usual in all languages to speak of ancestors as fathers; for Belshazzar was of the offspring of Nebuchadnezzar, and being really his grandson, he is naturally called his son; and this will occur again. There are some who think Evil-Merodach was stricken with that grievous affliction mentioned in the last chapter: possibly his name was Nebuchadnezzar, but there is no reason for adopting their opinion; 4 it is frivolous to fly directly to this conjecture when the name of the father occurs. the Prophet says Belshazzar committed this under the influence of wine. Since Mej, tegnem, signifies "to taste," no doubt he here speaks of tasting; and since this may be metaphorically transferred to the understanding, some explain it to mean being impelled by wine, and thus his drunkenness took the place of reason and judgment. Nights and love and wine, says Ovid, have no moderation in them. 5 This explanation I think too forced; it seems simply to mean, when Belshazzar grew warm with wine, he commanded the vessels to be brought to him; and this is the more usual view. When, therefore, the savor of the wine prevailed, -- that is, when it seized upon the king's senses, then he ordered the vessels to be brought. It is worth while to notice this, to induce us to be cautious concerning intemperance in drinking, because nothing is more common than the undertaking many things far too rashly when our senses are under the influence of wine. Hence we must use wine soberly, that it may invigorate not only the body but the mind and the senses, and may never weaken, or enervate, or stupify our bodily or mental powers. And this is, alas! too common, since the vulgar proverb is well known -- pride springs from drunkenness. For this reason the poets supposed Bacchus to have horns, since intemperate men are always puffed up, and the most wretched fancy themselves kings. What then must happen to monarchs, when in their forgetfulness they dream themselves kings of kings, and even deities? The Prophet wishes to mark this fault when he says, Belshazzar, under the influence of wine, ordered vessels to be brought to him. It now follows, --

1 Verbally it means said, but here it signifies commanded. -- Calvin,.

2 Made of gold and silver. -- Calvin.

3 Some translate his. wife, since there was one principal wife, who alone was the king's companion, and she received the name of Queen, as we shall afterwards see. -- Calvin.

4 This is the view of the Duke of Manchester; it is ably supported in his learned volume on "The Times of Daniel." As we have had occasion to review the general argument elsewhere, we merely allude to it here. -- See Dissertations.

5 Ars. Amor., Eleg. 6:The. French translation is worthy of notice, --

"La nuiet, l'amour, le boire sans mesure,
N' induit a rien sinon a toute ordure." -- Ed.