Feast’ by Rembrandt, about 1635
The story in this painting comes from the Old Testament
Book of Daniel. Belshazzar, the King of Babylon,
held a great feast at his palace for his nobles.
At the feast, he commanded that the gold and silver
vessels that his father, Nebuchadnezzer, had stolen
from the Temple in Jerusalem, should be used to
drink wine from. Belshazzar and his guests drank
from the sacred vessels, and this was blasphemous.
Rembrandt shows us the next scene, in which a mysterious
divine hand appears and writes on the wall. Nobody
could read the writing except Daniel, the seer.
The inscription said: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN,
which means 'God has numbered the days of your kingdom
and brought it to an end; you have been weighed
in the balances and found wanting; your kingdom
is given to the Medes and Persians.' That very night
Belshazzar was slain.
© The National Gallery, London