After interpreting the writing on the wall Daniel refuses the king's gifts

Daniel 5:16-17

[16]But I personally have heard about you, that you are able to give interpretations and solve difficult problems. Now if you are able to read the inscription and make its interpretation known to me, you will be clothed with purple and wear a necklace of gold around your neck, and you will have authority as the third ruler in the kingdom." [17]Then Daniel answered and said before the king, "Keep your gifts for yourself or give your rewards to someone else; however, I will read the inscription to the king and make the interpretation known to him.

But some years earlier he had done the same for Nebuchnezzar and had actually accepted the gifts and position offered by the king

Daniel 2:48-49

[48]Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. [49]And Daniel made request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego over the administration of the province of Babylon, while Daniel was at the king's court.

Why did Daniel refuse the offer this Time around?

4 Answers 4


Daniel knew that any gift from Belshazzar would be very temporary, as the Medes were at the gate. Daniel was soon to be under a different king, and Belshazzar's gifts would be taken for another.

"30 In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. 31 And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old." (Dan. 5:30-31, KJV).


There appears to be several possible reasons for refusing the proposed gifts (Dan 5:17) despite ultimately having them (albeit briefly) lavished upon Daniel (Dan 5:29).

  • Daniel had just uttered a prophecy of doom about the Babylonian kingdom. Daniel knew that any reward would be very temporary and somewhat meaningless.
  • Daniel was very likely more interested in eternal matters that earthly honours
  • According to the account of Xenophon ("Cyrop." vii. s.) the Medo-Persian army was already passing under the gates of the city as Daniel was speaking and within hours, Belshazzar was executed. That is the prophecy was fulfilled that very night (Dan 5:30) and Daniel would not want to be seen as too loyal to a doomed king for fear of being also executed as a supporter.

I ASSUME that Daniel allowed Belshazzar to give him honours which he (Daniel) might have ignored and quickly removed the gold chain immediately afterward. Daniel appears to allow a certain latitude to a man about to die, especially in such ignominious circumstances as Belshazzar.


Daniel rejected the gifts because he did not want the gift to be a reason for interpreting the writing on the wall. Daniel knew that it was written by the finger of God and it is the same God that will reveal it unto him. Not by his power or by his might but by the Spirit of the Lord. Likewise, God is angry with the king for his abominable offence he has committed. Glory!

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Why did Daniel refuse Belshazzar's gifts in Daniel 5:16-17?

Daniel may have considered the gifts to be a bribe or payment for providing the interpretation. Daniel was willing to provide the information but not for a reward , because he was commissioned by God to pronounce his impending judgment on Babylon. so Daniel replied:

Daniel 5:17 (NASB)

17 "Then Daniel answered and said before the king, “[a]Keep your gifts for yourself or give your rewards to someone else; however, I will read the inscription to the king and make the interpretation known to him."

  • I think this is unlikely as Daniel previously received honours and gifts as the question correctly states.
    – user25930
    Feb 19, 2019 at 22:03
  • Mac's Muslngs You mentioned that there are a number of possibilities in your answer and I believe my answer is the most correct. Just because he accepted gifts on a previous occasion this does not necessarily mean he has to continue doing so. We do not know fully all the circumstances and so we can only make assumptions. Did you down vote? . Feb 20, 2019 at 20:19
  • I also note that he still accepted the gifts in this case as well in v29. So the answer is obviously incorrect.
    – user25930
    Feb 20, 2019 at 20:55
  • Mac's Musings: Yes but it was after the king commanded his servants to cloth him, what would you have done? My answer is basically and explanation of part of you answer : "Daniel was very likely more interested in eternal matters than earthly honours." What actually do you mean by that phrase, please explain?. Feb 20, 2019 at 22:03
  • Just that! He did not need to have his ego stroked by flattery (earthly honours) but was interested in what God thought of him (spiritual and eternal matters.)
    – user25930
    Feb 21, 2019 at 10:19

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