babylonian empire

Hand on a Wall

mene mene Rembrandt-Belsazar

logoDo you recall hearing the phrase, “We see the handwriting on the wall?”  It is used in the context that someone knows something is about to happen, implying, “they know where this situation is headed.”  I do not hear it in conversation much now, but it still occasionally pops up.  I confess it is one that I have always liked because I know where the phrase originated from.  Travel with me for a moment as we go back in time; a time when the world was ruled by empires, a time when kings had absolute power.

Our journey goes back to ancient times, many centuries before the Roman Empire.  Long before the time of Alexander the Great and the Greek Empire.  Even before the once mighty ancient Persian Empire that the Greeks conquered.  For a moment we will explore the ancient Babylonian Empire, around the 6th century B.C.   The one that had the famous, “hanging gardens of Babylon,” one of the eight wonders of the ancient world. A kingdom whose ruins are situated in present day Iraq.  A mighty empire that ruled over many other kingdoms.  The walls around Babylon were over 100 feet high, 30 feet wide, and circled the city state for miles.  Babylon ruled the Middle East for about 70 years and it’s power was unprecedented.  It  ruled it’s conquered subjects very harshly.  Most empires slowly decline.  This one came to an abrupt end all in a single day.

The story is told in the book of Daniel of the Old Testament.  gutenberg-bible-book-of-danielA short book whose author Daniel talks about a number of kingdoms past, present and future to his day.  Daniel was a very high ranking official who served in the King’s court.  He is also the one who you may have heard about that was thrown into a den of lion’s, but that is another story for another day.   Although Daniel honorable served the King, he revered and served God in his heart.  Daniel was blessed with much knowledge, wisdom, management skills, and the unusual ability to interpret dreams.  He served in the King’s court for many years under a number of successive kings.  He was old when the following event took place.

King Belshazzar held a great feast attended by a thousand nobles.  Much wine was flowing and the King ordered the gold and silver cups that had been removed from King Solomon’s Temple when Babylon conquered Jerusalem years before under a different Babylonian king be brought to the feast.  As they drank toasts from these goblets in honor of the gods of Babylon, they mocked the gods of their conquered peoples including the God of King Solomon.  At that very moment the fingers of a human hand wrote on the palace wall the following words,  Mene Mene Tekel Parsin.  No one knew what the words meant and King Belshazzar was filled with so much terror that his knees buckled under him.  None of the King’s enchanters, astrologers, or fortune-tellers could decipher the meaning.  Someone recalled a wise older official named Daniel who had been known to interpret dreams.  He was summoned.

BelshazzerThe King promised Daniel a gold necklace, a royal purple robe, and the third highest position in the land if he could tell the meaning of the words.  Daniel told the King to keep his gifts but he would reveal the message.

Mene means numbered:  God has numbered your days of your reign and has been  brought it to an end.

Tekel means weighed:  you have been weighed in the balances and have failed the test.

Parsins means divided:  your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.

The book of Daniel records that very night Babylon was conquered, Belshazzar killed and Babylon was divided into 120 provinces.

Footnote:  For many centuries scholars debated if Babylon actual ever existed.  The ancient ruins of the city were discovered in the desert north of Arabia in the middle of the 19th century.  Historians and archeologists believe the Medes and Persians dammed up the river that flowed underneath and through the city allowing their soldiers to enter the fortified thought impregnable city.

On the game board for Treasure Trove one of the treasure spaces is titled “Kings and their Kingdoms.”

To learn more about the game go to www.TreasureTroveGame.com  boxtop

Solomon’s Treasure

 

Solomon_Dedicates Temple_at_Jerusalem

           The fabled wealth of King Solomon is legendary.  He is thought to have been one of the richest men to have ever lived and many believe he was perhaps the wealthiest of all time.  If what he possessed in his time was compared to today’s prices, his net worth would easily outpace the richest people living in modern times.  He would have been richer than the oil baron John Rockefeller at the turn of the 20th century or the computer billionaires of the early 21st century.   

Israelite Temple

    His kingdom is written about in the Old Testament books of 1st Kings and 2nd Chronicles.  The vastness of his wealth and how he managed the Israelite Empire he ruled over is quite detailed in these accounts.  He lived almost three thousand years ago.  He oversaw the building of the Temple in Jerusalem for the Israelites to honor and worship God.  It was probably one of the most expensive architectural accomplishments ever completed.  Rulers from distant places, such as the Queen of Sheba, traveled to visit him and marveled at his great wealth.  It has been recorded that the utensils and drinking cups of his palaces were only of gold.  It was plentiful enough in his household that silver was not considered of much value.  (1st Kings, chapter 10, verse 21)

Model_of_Second_Temple_made_by_Michael_Osnis_from_Kedumim

    Hundreds of years after King Solomon lived, the Babylonian Empire(located in present day Iraq)destroyed the Temple and looted the treasures.  Archeologists discovered Babylon in the mid 19th century but no treasures of King Solomon.   Yet his greatest treasure remains with us to this day:  his wisdom.  He is regarded as the wisest man who ever lived.  The recorded writings of his wisdom are in the book of Proverbs of the Old Testament.  The following is a sample of his inspired words:

 

                      “Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding.  For wisdom is more profitable than silver and her wages better than gold.  Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.  She offers you long life in her right hand, and riches and honor in her left.”   

   Proverbs 3:13-16

       When players compete in TreasureTrove, they are trying to collect as many treasures as they can as quickly as they can.   Included in the playing of the game are situation cards that by chance allow players different options.  Some of the cards allow players to acquire more treasure, some cause a lose a turn, while some send players to different places on the game board.  There are also some cards that offer a quote of wisdom to remind of us life’s true treasures.   A sample of one of such card reads as follows:

                                                                                      

            A card such as this one is not going to help one win the game but reminds us hopefully that  treasure is held in our hearts not just in our hands.

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To learn more about the game go to www.TreasureTroveGame.com