Belshazzar was the son (some scholars say the grandson) of the great Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar’s story of how he came to recognize God as the one true God is one of my favorites, but, unfortunately, Belshazzar died without ever coming to the same truth as his father. From the brief appearance that Belshazzar’s mother makes in Daniel 5:10-12, it appears that she also recognized the power and the people of God.
Known for his lewd and idolatrous behavior, Belshazzar was partying the night away at a banquet while Darius the Mede laid siege to his kingdom. Belshazzar ordered the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from God’s temple in Jerusalem to be brought and he and his friends drank wine from them. Suddenly, the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the wall in the royal palace. This strange occurrence frightened Belshazzar to no end. He called for all the magicians and wise men of Babylon to tell him what the writing meant. Of course, they could not do so.
The queen overheard the terrified voices of Belshazzar and his friends. Entering the banquet hall, she told her son about Daniel. “Don’t be alarmed! Don’t look so pale!” she said. “There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him…Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means.”
We all know the rest. Daniel was called and he interpreted the message of doom and gave the meaning of it to the king. That very night, Belshazzar was killed, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom of Babylon.
1. The queen mother of Belshazzar was a friend of Daniel who was a friend of God. Daniel was one of God’s most faithful prophets. As a young man, he was taken from his home country, separated from his family, and brought to live in a strange kingdom. Because of his unshakeable faith in God and his sterling character, God allowed him to be appointed to a high position in Babylon. Now, even as an old man, he remained loyal to his God.
Belshazzar’s mother knew that Daniel was different from the other Babylonian magicians and wise men. She sensed that his spirit was different. She knew that Daniel had insight, intelligence, and wisdom. She knew that Nebuchadnezzar had called him Belteshazzar and had appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners. She also knew that Daniel had a keen mind, knowledge, understanding, and the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems.
How did she know so much about Daniel if she did not spend some time with him? Perhaps Daniel’s good influence was the reason she was not at Belshazzar’s drunken banquet. In a society as ungodly as Babylon’s, it would have been easier for her to blend in with her people, encourage them in their hedonistic antics, and shun someone as righteous as Daniel. But Belshazzar’s mother befriended Daniel and grew to know and respect him. Perhaps by knowing Daniel, she also came to know God.
Even though the message on the wall was one of doom, God could depend on Daniel to interpret it honestly. Belshazzar’s mother knew that she could depend on him too. After telling Belshazzar to call for Daniel, she leaves, and we do not hear from her or of her again. It is likely that Belshazzar’s mother also perished the same night that he did, but we are not told. We are not even given the name of Belshazzar’s mother, but the small role that she played in predicting the destruction of Babylon did not go unnoticed and earned her a place in the Bible.