DANIEL:5 relates a story from the royal court of King Belshazzar (the lieutenant, second, or sub-king, or viceroy), the son of Nebuchadnezzar (Nabonidus in 'royalty-correct' scholarly works/DSS:Cave#4) who reigned over Babylon's realm ca. 554 B.C., until ca. 539 B.C., when Cyrus of Persia then stepped-in without a struggle from the surprised Babylonians. King Belshazzar was holding a feast; and calling for the Jewish altar goblets, filling these with his wines and beers, and saluting himself and his kingdom, lauding his majesty and longevity, and protesting slur and slight. And, the indignation of the Jews was felt by God, DANIEL tells us, whose finger appeared to write these titular words in the plaster on the brick-stone walls inside the palatial feast hall: MENE MENE TEKEL UPHARSIN (PERES).
The King was astonished at this apparition, and fitfully demanded to know what the words meant, blithely offering a reward of royal office of the highest rank (below himself, that is, third, for King Nebuchadnezzar was more a senile king-father-figure around Babylon at that time). Four words in plain tongue, irrelevant in context, engraven indelibly in stone in such incongruous manner, stymied everyone, as though superior in intellect. His wisest counselors, too, had had their fill of wine and beer, and they couldn't think to care to answer. So, at the queen-mother's suggestion they recalled Daniel in from retirement, who was formerly a royal thinker, selected of the Jewish captives. Daniel, too was astonished: he didn't recall ever hearing about this prank being arranged: the words must have been carved and plaster-filled on the brick-stone wall decades previous, and their meaning passed and forgotten: perhap the wall plaster had dried excessively and crazed over the decades of neglect, and perhap a splash of wine or beer flung in a riotous moment had wetted the wall, loosening the plaster plugs, and exposing their covert phrase.
So, Daniel pondered what these words could mean. The King expected something high-and-mighty, and, Daniel gave it to him in the first way he could think-of (he himself being an old man of good counsel, but of little interest in hot-shot interpretations before a spew-drunken king). Capably respectfully Daniel redacted for him the news of Cyrus' approach to the city; and like Jeremiah before him, Daniel summarily outlined the safest plan for submitting to Cyrus peaceably. (Daniel greatly admired Jeremiah, whose books he'd studied diligently, even to understand them: DAN9:1-2 - even as we may today know that Jeremiah predicted the Jewish holocaust of the middle of our twentieth century to coincide with the astonomers measuring the cosmos [Hubble et al, ca. 1935: 20 billion light-years across], and geologists seismometrically plumbing the fathoms of the Earth: JER31:37). He told the king the words meant, his kingdom was, numbered (counted-up, countable, summarized), finished (count-checked, stopped, totalled), wanting [more] (balance-weighed, equallized, annulled), divided between the Medes and Persians (apportioned, subdivided, disunified, disloyal). Daniel must have known of Isaiah's opinion that Cyrus was anointed by God. (ISA44-45) And maybe the wall builders' construction foreman had carved instructions for an accountant-trainee, on that very stone, then filled-in his instructions with the plaster on the wall: they'd have been long-gone before it'd be noticed, eventually by a king-trainee, Belshazzar. (The accountant-trainee's instructions were, count the money twice, weigh it for total consistency (or record the balance in the books), and pay it out: count, count, weigh, divide - instructions remote from Chaldean upbringing, who ate the King's meat, but within Daniel's own learning, the common abilities of the business-man, although he excelled to science as well.)
This also fit something that had been bothering him (Daniel) for a long time: a recurring nightmarish but bright vision (or Oriental dream) foretold of three and a half times, again and again. (Daniel did not know how it could be that he was living at the middle of Creation's seven thousand years, nor how the exact 'three-and-a-half' moment could be precisely January 170 B.C., when his prophecies would mark and divide 'history-zero' between the past and the future). And he saw something in those four words on the wall that made them seem to imply only three and a half. Today our scholars suggest the four words are coins (denominations: two minas, a shekel, and a peres, a half mina) that count nationalities ending with a small persian coin, predicting Cyrus. But we might think of something Daniel did a lot: he enjoyed watching the local rivers from their banks: they represented to him the constancy of the flow of time passing by where he stood or sat; something always flowing, yet without filling or emptying (except when it flooded, and gave everyone too much time or too little time to keep their daily lives in order and flowing). And we see that Daniel then understood why he'd been brought to Babylon: for here were the very four rivers of the garden of Eden, and their four new names as they were revealed to him for his people: he felt he was being held very close to God. The four rivers were (become) only two great rivers, since the Pishon (Wadi Batin) was, MENE, gone-dry; the Gihon (Karun, rud-Khaneh-ye river-bed) was also, MENE, gone-away, lost - as Daniel also believed - the Hiddekel (Tigris) was, TEKEL, balanced, tributary at the head of the fourth; and the Puratu (Euphrates) had become, PERES (UPHARSIN), divided in branches and lengthwise by large lakes .... So also, Daniel observed, explored, pondered, and spoke and wrote (a little of each): count, count, weigh, divide.
Thinking ever more deeply on this 'three-and-a-half', Daniel saw in this simple phrase, the whole essence of time and space: we count our steps forward and back; we count our steps even to dance around left and right [or north-south, east-west]; we feel our weight when we stand, jump, or climb up and down (or balanced weightless buoyed in bath water or swimming); but we persist (steadfastly, continually) only in the time-forward 'now' dividing the past and the future - time is (also) the divisor for the rates of travel and travail* - count, count, weigh, divide. To emphasize this momentous thought, DANIEL recounts a story of three hebrew boys cast clothed into a super-firey hot furnace (intense, brilliant scrutiny) only then showing a fourth standing with them - time conjoins '3-D' object-burdened space in energetic light (not heat - bright light alone does not burn directly except the furnace-technicians stoking their 'sun-fire-god'), and time subordinates all to the present lordly 'now'. And finally we see as Daniel saw that man on the mudbank (ref: earlier article) as mankind on Earth: there'd be much running to-and-fro (in-line and crossways) within the bounds of the Earth; and much weight of knowledge greatly increased, of building-up, gained, upheld, and carried about; but eternity, the very end of time perceived at last, like the river, flows constantly forward, passing the temporal division, fulcrum, or lot, of Earth-living standing in its aethereal midst - count, count, weigh, divide.
*[The mathematics student also discovers this order in the development of reciprocal-number-processes: the two basic arithmetic operations are counting processes, addition and multiplication; the composition of functions is a stacking (compounding) process; and the derivative slope calculation is a proportioning division process]
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