The Writing on the Wall (in Daniel and Now)

Daniel is the book of origin for phrases that have made it into the English language. Two such idioms are found in the fifth chapter of the book, the writing on the wall and weighed in the balances. That’s not a small feat for a book.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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A bit of trivia.:slightly_smiling_face:

I notice that the writing in the illustration is being done correctly, from right to left. (The artist cleverly shows the final character being completed in the lower left corner.)

My pettest peeve in illustrations of Biblical subjects is wings on angels, closely followed by the substitution of angels where the Bible says cherubim–a universal blunder championed by the Indiana Jones film, incidentally.

I believe that wings are never mentioned on angels in the Bible. I like to think that that’s the reason that wings were removed from the Review’s latter-day logo. As far as I know, cherubim both fly and speak with their wings, whereas angels do both without either.

From SDA Bible Dictionary.

P.S. I believe that wings are never mentioned on angels in the Bible. I like to think that that’s the reason that wings were removed from the Review’s latter-day logo. As far as I know, cherubim both fly and speak with their wings, whereas angels do both without either.


These winged beings are called lamassu in Assyria and Babylonia. They were protective spirits that defended someone or something from evil. They should protect entrances because that was the space where evil could come in. Therefore, this space had to be specially protected. They could also be the protective spirit for a human or a town. Interestingly, they could be female. There is even a medical texts that mentions a lamassu with a penis and a vulva. As intermediary numina, their role was pretty similar to our guardian angels. Thank you for making this connection, interesting stuff, no trivia, Harry!

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Excellent article that shows how current events around us fulfill the prophecies that are relevant for us today. After the State of The Union speech last night by President Trump I needed to read this timely piece of writing.

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Thanks for the rewarding response! Now that you mention it, in the Bible they were stationed to guard the entrances to Eden and to God’s throne in the Most Holy Place, specifically on either side of His footstool where covenants with His vassals would be stored. Richard Elliott Freedman observed that the sphynx was a cherub. (Perhaps the female survivor of an original pair?)

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And what about the emotional reality show to make people hate the immigrants and threat suing those who dare to protect them?

Tonstad is so refreshing again! Allow me to add some random associations. Daniel 5 is a feast for the senses:

  1. Stone, plaster, sand. God’s finger wrote the ten commandments on plates of stone (Ex 31:18), the mene tekel on a plaster wall (Dan 5:5) and some accusers’ ashaming secrets on the ground (John 8:6), the ground which God had made Adam from. But his finger never points at us! Urged to designate a sinner Jesus finally used a tool - a piece of bread. Which is his body, too.

  2. The queen mother tells Belshazzar, that the king father/grandfather had called Daniel Beltshazzar (5:12). They sound absolutely identical! Did Belshazzar’s name have his origin in his parents’ admiration for Daniel and his God?

  3. Wine - plaster wall // pale countenance - purple robe — Red, white, red, the plot is color coded.

  4. Belshazzar orders the goblets of gold and silver to be brought in 5:2. But he drinks only from goblets of gold in 5:3. And in 5:4 gods of gold and silver etc. are praised but in 5:23 the order is reversed and silver gods are mentioned first - maybe a first hint that king B was not in control of silver (Persia) anymore, and a second hint that silver had taken over.

  5. Mene mene tekel upharsin (Dan 5:25) // eloi eloi lama sabachthani (Mark 15:34) — two aramaic phrases engraved to our memories. No wonder, they have (almost) the same rhythmic structure.

  6. “And his knees this against this knocked” (5:6) reads in the interlinear Hebrew ( like “wə·’ar·ḵub·bā·ṯêh ḏā lə·ḏā nā·qə·šān” — “DA LE-DA”, one can hear the knees knocking.

  7. Daniel 5:5 describes the hand writing on the wall, but initially keeps hidden what it actually wrote even to us. We are left wondering in the dark together with king B and everybody else, the queen mother invites to trust like mother Mary at the wedding until finally Daniel is able to a) read and b) explain the writing. Once the meaning is fully uncovered, judgment hour is imminent.

And much more. Daniel chapter 5 is for many good reasons one of the famous passages from the Bible.

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Thank you so much, Professor Tonstad, and other helpful commenters here. Today in the SS class I attended we got no insights like this, only read the lesson guide, read the answers, heard a few EGG quotations, and finished early. Depressing.

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Carolyn :revolving_hearts:, you got your own SS class here. Spiritual food. God doesn’t let you spiritually starve. When the local church fails, He provides elsewhere. That’s why articles like these and the discussions are so important.

Pat, @patfromzurich: fabulous! Amazing insights. Christ-centered. Can’t wait to read more observations from you in the future.

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