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Full Access Textualizing Divination: The Writing on the Wall in Daniel 5:25

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Textualizing Divination: The Writing on the Wall in Daniel 5:25

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AbstractThe inscription in Dan 5:25 shares features with Mesopotamian divination as well as with later pesharim and rabbinic haggadic exegesis. In the inscription and its interpretation, the authors of Dan 5 applied mantic techniques to a sacred text—in this case, the writing on the wall “sent by God”—for the first time in the Bible. The story portrays not only Daniel, but Daniel’s God, as prevailing over competitors through the appropriation and mastery of Mesopotamian techniques of mantic writing. Dan 5 appears to bridge an important divide between pre-exilic and post-exilic modes of divination in the biblical text, enlarging the “genre” of biblical intermediary texts to include the interpretation of sacred writing.

Affiliations: 1: Emory University, Email:, URL:


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