The events in the previous chapters took place under the kingship of Nebuchadnezzar. Under him the Babylonian empire grew and became a great unity. Nebuchadnezzar died in the year 562 BC after a government of forty-three years. In the following years, until the conquest of Babel by Cyrus in the year 539 BC, this empire was characterized by an ever-increasing decline and murder. Nebuchadnezzar was succeeded by his son Evil-Merodach (2Kgs 25:27-3027Now it came about in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh [day] of the month, that Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he became king, released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison;28and he spoke kindly to him and set his throne above the throne of the kings who [were] with him in Babylon.29Jehoiachin changed his prison clothes and had his meals in the king’s presence regularly all the days of his life; 30 and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, a portion for each day, all the days of his life.; Jer 52:31-3431Now it came about in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-fifth of the month, that Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the [first] year of his reign, showed favor to Jehoiachin king of Judah and brought him out of prison.32Then he spoke kindly to him and set his throne above the thrones of the kings who [were] with him in Babylon.33So Jehoiachin changed his prison clothes, and had his meals in the king’s presence regularly all the days of his life.34For his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king of Babylon, a daily portion all the days of his life until the day of his death.), who ruled for only two years, from 562-560 BC. His reign came to an end because he was murdered by the son-in-law of Nebuchadnezzar, Nergal-Sharezer (Jer 39:3,133Then all the officials of the king of Babylon came in and sat down at the Middle Gate: Nergal-sar-ezer, Samgar-nebu, Sar-sekim the Rab-saris, Nergal-sar-ezer [the] Rab-mag, and all the rest of the officials of the king of Babylon.13So Nebuzaradan the captain of the bodyguard sent [word], along with Nebushazban the Rab-saris, and Nergal-sar-ezer the Rab-mag, and all the leading officers of the king of Babylon;). This man ruled for four years.
According to non-biblical history he was succeeded by his son who was murdered after a few months of government. Nabonidus then becomes king over Babel. He ruled seventeen years, from 556-539 BC. Belshazzar was his eldest son. He was the co-regent of his father. That explains why in the first verse of Daniel 5 he is called ‘king’ and exercises royal authority, while Nabonidus is the real king. (This overview of the history of Babel is taken from DAS ALTE TESTAMENT erklärt und ausgelegt (THE OLD TESTAMENT explained and interpreted) by Jn F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Band 3.
Regarding Nabonidus is still told that he may have been in exile for several years. Belshazzar has not only been fellow regent, but also king. Reportedly, Nabonidus was married to a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar. This means that Belshazzar is the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar and explains why Nebuchadnezzar is spoken of as “his father” (verse 22When Belshazzar tasted the wine, he gave orders to bring the gold and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple which [was] in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them.) and why Belshazzar speaks of Nebuchadnezzar as “my father” (verse 1313Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king spoke and said to Daniel, “Are you that Daniel who is one of the exiles from Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah?; cf. Jer 27:77All the nations shall serve him and his son and his grandson until the time of his own land comes; then many nations and great kings will make him their servant.).
Historically, in this chapter we have the end of the Babylonian empire. Prophetically, we see in this chapter a picture of the end of the Roman Empire at the coming of the Lord Jesus. Also we see in the person of Daniel a type of the faithful remnant of Israel in the end times, with whom are wisdom and understanding. We have the example in this that we must be characterized by wisdom and understanding, because we also live in an end time. In this we find ourselves as individuals, a remnant, who want to remain faithful to God’s Word and support it. We can, if all goes well, also explain that Word to those who have questions about the end time.