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Belshazzar, King of Babylon and son of Nebuchadnezzar, gave a feast using the vessels stolen from the Temple of Solomon. During the feast a hand appeared and wrote on the wall 'Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin', loosely translated as 'Thou hast been weighed in the balance and found wanting', from which arises the expression 'the writing on the wall'.

The terrified Belshazzar consulted the prophet Daniel, who alone was able to read and interpret the writing. Belshazzar died the same night (Daniel 5).