Cyrus was the leader of the Medes and Persians, who were intent on conquering Babylon. The Babylonians had decided to forego the battlefield and fortify themselves within the mighty walls of their city. One historian said that the Babylonians had enough food, water, and provisions to last the entire city for more than twenty years. When Cyrus besieged the city, he realized he couldn’t do this forever, so he devised another plan. The great Euphrates River ran under the wall and through the city, so Cyrus took the best men of his army and stationed half of them at the place where the river entered the city and the other half where it ran out. Then he took the rest of his army and went to a place where the Euphrates passed a huge swamp. He built a huge sluice gate or canal by which he diverted the Euphrates away from the city. Cyrus ordered the soldiers at the front and the back of the city to watch the river, and once the water receded, they were directed to march into the city without being observed. What an ingenious plan! As the water level began to recede, the soldiers tested the height of the river until they were able to stand up. Then, one after another, from both ends, without even being seen, the entire army began to breach this impregnable city. Babylon was the city they thought could never be taken, but it was.
That is what happened that fateful night in Babylon. Is it any wonder that God said, “Enough is enough. Your number is up!” Belshazzar was not only grossly sacrilegious, he was also stupid. He was literally celebrating his own funeral, but he didn’t know it. Jeremiah, almost a hundred years before, had prophesied in nearly exact detail everything that was going to happen that night. First, Jeremiah told us that Babylon would be conquered by a nation from the north. His words were so detailed that anyone skeptical about biblical prophecy should be convinced: This is the word the LORD spoke through Jeremiah the prophet concerning Babylon and the land of the Babylonians. “I will make her officials and wise men drunk, along with her captains, officers, and warriors. They will fall asleep and never wake up again! “Says the King, whose name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” (Jeremiah 51:57) “This is what the Lord says to Jerusalem: “I will be your lawyer to plead your case, and I will avenge you. I will dry up her river, as well as her springs, and Babylon will become a heap of ruins, haunted by jackals. She will be an object of horror and contempt, a place where no one lives.” (Jeremiah 51:36-37)