Damien F. Mackey
With Nebuchednezzar himself identified by Daniel as the statue’s “head of gold” (2:38), then we are left with only three more kingdoms symbolised on the lower parts of the statue.
Daniel recalls for Nebuchednezzar the king’s terrifying dream (Daniel 2:31-35):
‘You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth’.
Perhaps most scholars would identify this succession of four kingdoms in the following manner:
1. Head of gold - Babylon
2. Breast and arms of silver- Medo-Persia
3. Belly and thighs of brass- Hellenistic Greece
4. Legs of iron - Rome
That view, however, would not allow for the fact that Nebuchednezzar himself alone, who did not constitute the entire kingdom of Babylon, had been identified by Daniel as the head of gold. Hence
it completely rules our Belshazzar, who succeeded his father, and who also possessed a kingdom as is apparent from Daniel 5:
16 ‘If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around your neck, and you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom’.
30 That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, 31 and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two.
Daniel 5:2: “Belshazzar, when he tasted the wine, commanded that the vessels of gold and of silver that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem be brought …”.
This crucial chapter 5 of the Book of Daniel, clearly outlining as it does the royal succession, from (i) Nebuchednezzar, to (ii) his son, Belshazzar, to (iii) Darius the Mede, provides us with all of the necessary information for identifying the Dream’s kingdoms 1, 2 and 3.
Nebuchednezzar is 1, the Head of Gold (as we are told);
Belshazzar is 2, Breast and Arms of Silver; and
Darius the Mede (or Cyrus) is 3, Belly and Thighs of Brass.
Daniel, after waxing most eloquent about the Golden kingdom of Nebuchednezzar (2:37-38), brushes aside Belshazzar’s Silver kingdom with merely (v. 39): ‘Another kingdom inferior to you shall arise after you …’. He is slightly more lavish with the Medo-Persian kingdom of Darius: ‘…yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth.
But what of the fourth kingdom?
In my recent article:
"Three Kings" and the "Fourth" of Daniel 11:2
Darius the Mede = Cyrus the Great = Darius the Great
thereby most radically shortening Medo-Persian history.
And I added that Darius the Great was the one who was defeated by Alexander the Great:
But Darius would finally have to contend with “the prince of Greece [Javan]”, who was Alexander, also known as “the Great”. I Maccabees 1:1: “After Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian, who came from the land of Kittim, had defeated Darius, king of the Persians and the Medes, he succeeded him as king. (He had previously become king of Greece.)”.
We are much, much closer to the Greek era than the conventional historians have realised.
What follows from this line of reasoning is that Daniel 2’s fourth kingdom of Iron was, not Rome, but Alexander’s Greek (Hellenistic) kingdom.
Nebuchednezzar’s Dream Statue:
- Nebuchednezzar: Golden;
- Belshazzar: Silver;
- Darius (Cyrus): Bronze;
- Alexander: Iron