Tetherd Cow Ahead Presents: The Baffling Bible
Episode #2: Smitten Knees

Smiting Knees

I think you need to see the whole passage to get the full impact of this particular piece:

In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.
Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him,
so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.

Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written.
And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.

This is the interpretation of the thing:
MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.
TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.

For today’s consideration:

•If you were God, and you were going to write a message on a wall, would you use some kind of cryptic gobbledigook that could mean pretty much anything anybody wanted, or would you simply say ‘Belshazzar, you’re toast pal!’?

•Give examples of other times where God has been completely obtuse when He could have just gotten to the point (limit your examples to ten pages).

•What is it with God sending a ‘part’ of a hand to scribble on the wall? Was David playing with the rest of it somewhere?

•Why has Daniel used the word UPHARSIN and then three sentences later completely forgotten what he wrote and pulled another word out of his arse? Do you think he did it to see if anyone was paying attention? Or does the bible need a better proof reader?

•Is there evidence elsewhere in his writings that Daniel was doing a lot of PCP?

•Should God do community service for graffiti-related crimes?

•Would things have turned out differently for Belshazzar if he had used Dulux ‘Wash ‘n’ Wear on his walls? For instance, could he have expected a better finish?*

•If the joints of Belshazzar’s loins were loosened to the point of involuntary knee-smiting, would he be covered by health insurance? Discuss difficulties that Belshazzar might face with loose loin joints on public transport.

•God does quite a bit of smiting elsewhere in the bible – why do you think he chose not to smite Belshazzar’s knees directly, but instead have them smite one another? Do you think he did this because it was funnier?

•This story is the origin of the phrase ‘The writing’s on the wall’. As you now know, the writing on the wall is completely baffling and nonsensical, and thus, the saying makes absolutely no sense at all. Your project for this week is to make up another pithy saying based on a bible quote, that makes as much sense or less, and get it into popular usage.


*Later that same night Belshazzar was slain by Darius the Mede.