Daniel 5:27 Index
"TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting."
Research Material


  • The fall of Babylon is of great importance to our understanding of the overall message of Daniel and Revelation. Two aspects in particular demand our attention: (1) the fall of symbolic Babylon is one of the leading themes in the book of Revelation. It is associated there with soon-to-be-fulfilled prophecies strikingly parallel to prophecies about the fall of literal Babylon. (2) The perfect fulfillment of the prophecies about the fall of literal Babylon helps confirm our confidence in the prophecies about the imminent fall of symbolic Babylon. (MM 81)
  • Let's take a moment and glance at the "parallels" between the fall of "literal" Babylon and "symbolic" Babylon found in Isaiah 41, 46, and 47; Jeremiah 50 and 51 compared with Revelation 16, 17, 18, and 19. The following chart illustrates numerous parallels:
    • Ancient: Literal Babylon Symbolic Babylon
      1. "You who dwell by many waters." Jeremiah 51:13 1. "Seated upon many waters." Revelation 17:1
      2. "A golden cup in the Lord's hand." Jeremiah 51:7 2. Holds "a golden cup." Revelation 17:4
      3. "Babylon has fallen." Jeremiah 51:8 3. "Fallen, fallen is Babylon." Revelation 14:8
      4. "I shall be mistress forever... I shall not sit as a widow." Isaiah 47:7, 8 4. "A queen I sit. I am no widow." Revelation 18:7
      5. "Go out of the midst of her, my people." Jeremiah 51:45 5. "Come out of her, my people." Revelation 18:4
      6. At her fall "the heavens and the earth... shall sing for joy." Jeremiah 51:48 6. "At her fall, "heaven... saints and apostles and prophets" rejoice. Revelation 18:20
      7. As a stone, "shall Babylon sink, and rise no more." Jeremiah 51:59-64 7. "Like a great millstone (thrown)... into the sea... so shall Babylon... be thrown down." Revelation 18:21
      8. Ruin of Babylon "Heavens and earth... shall sing for joy." Jeremiah 51:48 8. Fall of Babylon "Rejoice over her, O Heaven." Revelation 18:20


Tekel is related to a verb meaning "to weigh" and the consonantal Aramaic term may be translated "weighed." (KC 66)

Belshazzar was found lacking in moral worth. (4BC 805)

"...Thou art weighed in the balances..."

In dealing with men God always uses a language which appeals forcibly to their understanding. This is illustrated in the handwriting on the wall. It is a common belief among idolaters that the gods weight deeds in balances, and that if the good deeds outweigh the evil, the individual enters into his reward; if the opposite result is obtained, punishment follows. The language, therefore, was familiar to King Belshazzar.... To the magicians who stood within hearing, as Daniel gave the interpretation, the words came with peculiar force because of their familiarity with religious customs. (SNH 83)

To the one who knows God, the attitude of the Lord toward the sinner is very different, and still the symbol of the weights and balances is applicable. That this subject might be understood, God had sent an explanation by the prophet Ezekiel. (Ezekiel 13:10-16). When a man sins and dies without repentance, he is cut off from God, because his iniquities separate between him and God, and he cannot be saved. If a man loves Christ and accepts Him and His righteousness, Christ's character is written opposite the name of that man in the books of heaven, and so long as a love of the truth is cherished, the man hides in Christ and is known by the character of Christ. God deals with men in the present. We may have been the worst of sinners, but if to-day we are hidden in Christ, heaven takes into account only our present position. (SNH 83)

So it was that God dealt with the nations, and this answers the question why Nebuchadnezzar might one day be in favor with God and the next day be in condemnation; why Zedekiah's course of action was condemned once, and then again he was told that it lay in his power to save Jerusalem. (Jeremiah 18:7-10). (SNH 83-84)

"...found wanting."

These fearful words of doom, addressed to the profligate king of Babylon, condemn all who, like Belshazzar, neglect their God-given opportunities. In the investigative judgment now in progress men are weighed in the balances of the sanctuary to see whether their moral character and spiritual state correspond with the benefits and blessings God has conferred upon them. There is no appeal from the decisions of that court. In view of the solemnity of the hour, all must watch lest the decisive moment that forever fixes everyman's destiny finds them unprepared and "wanting." (4BC 805)