The DEEP

Momma's Boy

He's in trouble.

Daniel 5:10–12

The queen, because of the words of the king and his lords, came to the banquet hall. The queen spoke, saying, “O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts trouble you, nor let your countenance change. There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God. And in the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him; and King Nebuchadnezzar your father—your father the king—made him chief of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers. Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.”

The queen isn’t Belshazzar’s wife; his wives, and his concubines were already there in verse 5:2. The queen is his mother. That’s why she knows more family history than he does. She knows from that history that Daniel is the one who can solve this riddle.

So, the queen-mother gives Daniel the perfect introduction. She introduces him the way we introduce keynote speakers, by listing his noteworthy accomplishments—in a sense, his resume.

Notice too that Daniel has his Hebrew name back; “Belteshazzar” is now just a footnote. The queen-mother mentions that name presumably because some folks might only be familiar with the “legend of Belteshazzar.”

It looks like Nebuchadnezzar gave up on the renaming nonsense. He gave Daniel the name “Belteshazzar” as a reference to the Babylonian god Bel, but after learning that the Babylonian gods were nothing, that name lost its meaning.

The way the queen says this is important too. She says that, “an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar.”

He is Daniel, but your father the king named him Belteshazzar.

If the name “Belteshazzar” isn’t a keeper, maybe “Belshazzar” isn’t a keeper either.


The queen-mother is wrong when she says, “Do not let your thoughts trouble you, nor let your countenance change.” That’s just Babylonian mom-speak designed to get her boy to settle down and man up.

She wasn’t there when the writing appeared, so she’s not aware of the timing. She may not even know about everyone partying with the temple treasures or about their praising the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.

Her boy’s in trouble.


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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.