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the symbols used. To 'find out' suggests inquiry and discovery, but we must
ever remember in all our searching the words of Elihu who said:
'Touching the Almighty, we cannot find Him out' (Job 37:23),
a position already reached by Zophar who said:
'Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty
unto perfection?' (Job 11:7).
We have the encouragement of Matthew 7:7 that those who seek shall
find. Our special interest, however, is in those passages which suggest a
legal finding. The most dramatic use of this term, perhaps, is that which is
described in Daniel 5. The words written on the wall were in the ordinary
Chaldee language. It was not, therefore, their literal meaning but their
significance that baffled the king and his wise men.
Mene. The word occurs in Daniel 2:24,49 and 3:12 where it is
translated 'ordained' and 'set' and in 1:5,10 and 11 'appoint' and 'set'. It
is possible that Belshazzar and his wise men, when they looked at the word
mene, would associate it with none other than the god of that name, which
meant the god of destiny, and is written Manu on the Assyrian inscriptions.
Isaiah 65:11,12 says: 'But ye are they that forsake the Lord ... and furnish
the drink offering unto Mene (see margin); therefore will I number (Heb.
manithi) you to the sword'. Here we have a paronomasia on the two words mene
and manithi, similar to Daniel 5, where a double reference may have been
intended. There was a 'wonderful Numberer' (Palmoni*), (Dan. 8:13), of Whom
the god Mene was but a pagan shadow, Who had indeed numbered the days of
Belshazzar: 'God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it' (Dan. 5:26).
See E.W. Bullinger's Number in Scripture,
Tekel is the Chaldee equivalent of the Hebrew shakal, 'to weigh', from
which comes shekel, a weight. With the prefix 'm' the word becomes
mishkoleth, 'the plummet', as in Isaiah 28:17, 'Judgment also will I lay to
the line, and righteousness to the plummet'. 'Thou art weighed in the
balances, and art found wanting' (Dan. 5:27).
Peres. -- Many readers of the English Version are somewhat puzzled when
they come to this third word. The actual writing on the wall being upharsin,
therefore how is it that Daniel says, peres? The answer is simple. The
actual words translated as they stand are 'numbered, numbered, weighed and
divided'. 'And' is represented by the letter 'u' and this letter coming
before the letter 'p' softens it, making it for the time being 'ph'. The
letters in are merely an ending, equivalent, so far as our language can
afford a parallel, to 'en' as in broken, or 'ing' as in dividing. Now no one
would look in the dictionary for the words 'and divided', the 'and' would
naturally be omitted. Again, it is usual to look for the infinitive, 'to
divide', rather than, for instance, 'dividing' or 'divided'. This is what
Daniel did. He omitted the vav, 'and', let the 'ph' go back to 'p', omitted
the ending 'in', and took the true word peres.
Just as we saw in Isaiah 65:11,12 that meni, as well as being a verb,
was a proper noun, so we find peres not only means 'divided', but is the name
for 'Persian', the word thereby revealing by whom the kingdom was to be
divided or taken. A parallel might be put in these terms, 'You will be