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Daniel 5:1-4: Humility or Revenge
Friday, May 31, 2019

Pietro Dandini: The Banquet of Belshazzar

From the HARPERCOLLINS COMMENTARY, we find a comment that speaks to the horror any Jewish servant present in this scene must have felt when Belshazzar called for the gold and silver vessels taken from the Jerusalem temple to be used at his own banquet table.  The scene is set in vv. 1- 4, which introduce the bawdy Belshazzar, arrogant with his thousand lords, his wives, and his concubines.  To the horror of the readers, he orders his servants to bring out the sacred vessels stolen by Nebuchadnezzar, “his father”, from the Temple in Jerusalem; with him he and his lords toast the diverse idols of Babylon.  (Mays 628)

The feeling of revenge must have seized the Jews who had been carted off to serve in this pagan court.  The desire to strike back and to bring the enemy down must have been so strong as to be tangible.  Yet it is this prophecy, it is this vision of Daniel which predicts the coming of the Son of Man, the one who will turn things on their head and who will free forever, restore with justice, and heal with mercy and compassion.  Daniel foretells that the act of taking revenge will be replaced by the New Law of Love.  Love of friends . . . and of enemies.

How often does something happen to ourselves or to some one or some thing we love that we must struggle with these same feelings?  And what do we do when we wish to tear down what has raised up?  Do we confide in God and petition the destruction of those who do harm, or do we intercede on behalf of these perceived enemies?  Do we remember that we are all one?  Do we call to this renegade, maverick part of the whole to return to the sheepfold?  Do we ask God, the Blessed Mother and all the angels and saints to convert stony hearts, to bend stiff necks, to smooth rough tongues and calm shrill voices?  Do we ask for a conversion of those who would plot, steal, manipulate and destroy?  Do we humble ourselves and our own petty wishes and go in search of Christ’s lost sheep?


Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 628. Print.

Adapted from a refelction written on May 17, 2012 .

Image from: http://www.kunst-fuer-alle.de/english/fine-art/artist/poster/pietro-dandini/17270/1/115631/the-banquet-of-belshazzar/index.htm

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