*Minor differences ignored. Grouped by changes, with first version listed as example.
Here the Prophet shews more distinctly and clearly how the king insulted the true and only God, by ordering his vessels to be brought to him. For when they had been brought forth, they praised, says he, all their gods of gold and silver; meaning in defiance of the true God they celebrated the praises of their false deities, and thanked them, as we find in Habakkuk. (Habakkuk 1:16.) Although there is no doubt they sacrificed heartily the produce of their industry, as the Prophet there expresses it, yet they exalted their own gods, and thus obliterated the glory of the true God. And this is the reason why the Prophet now takes pains to state those vessels to have been brought from the temple of God's house For he here strengthens the impiety of the king and his nobles for erecting their horns against the God of Israel. There is then a great contrast, between God who commanded his temple to be built at Jerusalem, and sacrifices to be offered to him and false gods. And this was the head and front of Belshazzar's offending, because he thus purposely rose up against God, and not only tyrannically and miserably oppressed the Jews, but triumphed over their God -- the Creator of heaven and earth. This madness accelerated his ultimate destruction, and it occurred for the purpose of hastening the time of their deliverance. Hence I have represented him to have been drawn by God's great instinct to such madness that vengeance might be ripened. They drank, says he, wine, and praised their gods. The Prophet does not ascribe the praise of their gods to drunkenness, but he obliquely shews their petulance to have been increased by drink. For if each had been sober at home, he would not have thus rashly risen up against God; but when impiety exists in the heart, intemperance becomes an additional stimulus. The Prophet seems to me to mean this, when he repeats, they were drinking; for he had said, the king and his nobles, his wife, and concubines, were drinking He now inculcates the same thing in similar words, but adds, they drank wine, -- meaning their madness was the more inflamed by the excitement of the wine. Then they praised the gods of silver, etc. The Prophet here reproachfully mentions gods of gold, silver, brass, wood, and stone, since we know God to have nothing in common with either gold or silver. His true image cannot be expressed in corruptible materials; and this is, the reason why the Prophet calls all the gods which the Babylonians worshipped, golden, silver, brazen, wooden, and stone. Clearly enough the heathen never were so foolish as to suppose the essence of Deity to reside in gold, or silver, or stone; they only called them images of their deities; but because in their opinion the power and majesty of the deity was included within the material substance, the Prophet is right in so completely condemning their criminality, because we hear how carefully idolaters invent every kind of subtlety. In the present times, the Papacy is a glaring proof how men cling to gross superstitions when they desire to excuse their errors; hence the Prophet does not here admit those vain pretenses by which the Babylonians and other heathens disguise their baseness, but he says, their gods were of silver and gold And why so? for although they orally confessed that gods reign in heaven, (so great was the multitude and crowd of their deities that the supreme God was quite shrouded in darkness,) although therefore the Babylonians confessed their gods to have dwelt in heaven, yet they fled to statues and pictures. Hence the Prophet deservedly chides them for adoring gods of gold and silver. As to his saying, then the vessels were brought, it shews how the slaves of tyrants obey them in the worst actions, because no delay intervened in bringing the vessels from the treasury. Daniel therefore signifies how all the king's servants were obedient to his nod, and desirous of pleasing a person brutish and drunken; at the same time he shews the shortness of that intemperate intoxication; for he says, --
They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, - Compare the note at Daniel 5:1. Idols were made among the pagan of all the materials here mentioned. The word praised here means that they spake in praise of these gods; of their history, of their attributes, of what they had done. Nothing can well be conceived more senseless and stupid than what it is said they did at this feast, and yet it is a fair illustration of what occurs in all the festivals of idolatry. And is what occurs in more civilized Christian lands, in the scenes of carousal and festivity, more rational than this? It was not much worse to lavish praises on idol gods in a scene of revelry than it is to lavish praises on idol men now; not much less rational to "toast" gods than it is to "toast" men.
And praised the gods of gold - They had gods of all sorts, and of all metals; with wooden gods, and stone gods, beside!
They drank wine, and praised the (d) gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.
(d) In contempt of the true God they praise their idols, not that they thought that the gold or silver were gods, but that there was a certain strength and power in them to do them good, which is also the opinion of all idolaters.
They drunk wine,.... That is, out of the vessels of the temple at Jerusalem, and perhaps till they were drunk:
and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone; for they had gods of all these materials; See Gill on Daniel 1:2, and these they praised by offering sacrifices unto them; or rather by singing songs, and drinking healths, and by ascribing all their victories over the nations of the world to them; as that by their means they had got such large dominions, and such great wealth and treasures, and particularly these vessels of gold and silver; and so insulted and triumphed over the God of Israel, and defied the prophecies and promises of the deliverance of them that went under his name.
praised--sang and shouted praises to "gods," which being of gold, "are their own witnesses" (Isaiah 44:9), confuting the folly of those who fancy such to be gods.
In this verse the expression they drank wine is repeated for the purpose of making manifest the connection between the drinking and the praising of the gods. The wickedness lay in this, that they drank out of the holy vessels of the temple of the God of Israel to glorify (שׁבּח, to praise by the singing of songs) their heathen gods in songs of praise. In doing this they did not only place "Jehovah on a perfect level with their gods" (Hvernick), but raised them above the Lord of heaven, as Daniel (Daniel 5:23) charged the king. The carrying away of the temple vessels to Babylon and placing them in the temple of Bel was a sign of the defeat of the God to whom these vessels were consecrated (see under Daniel 1:2); the use of these vessels in the drinking of wine at a festival, amid the singing of songs in praise of the gods, was accordingly a celebrating of these gods as victorious over the God of Israel. And it was not a spirit of hostility aroused against the Jews which gave occasion, as Kranichfeld has well remarked, to this celebration of the victory of his god; but, as the narrative informs us, it was the reckless madness of the drunken king and of his drunken guests (cf. Daniel 5:2) during the festival which led them to think of the God of the Jews, whom they supposed they had subdued along with His people, although He had by repeated miracles forced the heathen world-rulers to recognise His omnipotence (cf. Daniel 2:47; 3:32f., 4:14 [Daniel 4:17], 31 , 34 ). In the disregard of these revelations consisted, as Daniel represents to Belshazzar (cf. Daniel 5:18), the dishonour done to the Lord of heaven, although these vessels of the sanctuary might have been profaned merely by using them as common drinking vessels, or they might have been used also in religious libations as vessels consecrated to the gods, of which the text makes no mention, although the singing of songs to the praise of the gods along with the drinking makes the offering of libations very probable. The six predicates of the gods are divided by the copula וinto two classes: gold and silver - brass, iron, wood and stone, in order to represent before the eyes in an advancing degree the vanity of these gods.
The warning signs, the astonishment of Belshazzar, the inability of the wise men to give counsel, and the advice of the queen.
Unexpectedly and suddenly the wanton mad revelry of the king and his guests was brought to a close amid terror by means of a warning sign. The king saw the finger of a man's hand writing on the plaster of the wall of the festival chamber, and he was so alarmed that his whole body shook. The בּהּ־שׁעתא places the sign in immediate connection with the drinking and the praising of the gods. The translation, in the self-same hour, is already shown to be inadmissible (see under Daniel 3:6). The Kethiv נפקוּ (came forth) is not to be rejected as the indefinite determination of the subject, because the subject follows after it; the Keri נפקה is to be rejected, because, though it suits the gender, it does not in respect of number accord with the subject following. The king does not see the whole hand, but only ידא פּס, the end of the hand, that is, the fingers which write. This immediately awakened the thought that the writing was by a supernatural being, and alarmed the king out of his intoxication. The fingers wrote on the plaster of the wall over against the candlestick which stood on the table at which the king sat, and which reflected its light perceptibly on the white wall opposite, so that the fingers writing could be distinctly seen. The feast had been prolonged into the darkness of the night, and the wall of the chamber was not wainscotted, but only plastered with lime, as such chambers are found in the palaces of Nimrud and Khorsabad covered over only with mortar (cf. Layard's Nineveh and Babylon).
And praised the gods of gold - At the same time insulting the great God of heaven and earth.
*More commentary available at chapter level.