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and a third kingdom of brass, which shall rule over all the world. And the fourth kingdom shall be as iron. For as iron breaketh in pieces, and subdueth all things, so shall that break and subdue all these: and whereas thou sawest the feet and the toes part of potter's clay and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided, but yet it shall take its origin from the iron, according as thou sawest the iron mixed with the miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron and part of clay, the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay, they shall be mingled indeed together with the seed of man, but they shall not stick fast one to another, as iron cannot be mixed with clay. But in the days of these kingdoms the God of heaven shall set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, and His kingdom shall not be delivered up to another people, and it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and itself shall stand for ever. According as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hand, and broke in pieces, the clay and the iron, and the brass, and the silver, and the gold, the great God hath shown the king what shall come to pass hereafter.”
Here we must observe : 1st. That King Nabucodonosor's dream, as Daniel repeatedly declares,
a vision of what was to come in the latter times.”
2ndly. That by the stone which was cut out of the mountain without hands, the commentators unanimously understand Christ, who was conceived in Mary's womb, without the intervention of man, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
3rdly. That the stone, after breaking in pieces
the various kingdoms represented by the different parts of the statue, itself takes the place of those very kingdoms, with much greater glory; as is signified by its growing into a great mountain and filling the whole earth.
All this seems to demonstrate, that a time must come in which Christ, to whom all power has been given in heaven and on earth, will actually and personally reign over all the nations, and people, and tribes of the earth, and rule over them as their sovereign Lord and King.
But that we may the better comprehend the bearing of this prophecy, it is necessary to examine diligently :-1. The four kingdoms figured by the different parts of the statue. 2. The stone which struck the statue upon the feet, and broke them in pieces. 3. The kingdom which the God of heaven was to set up, and which was to take the place of the former kingdoms.
SECTION I. On the four kingdoms signified by the different parts of the
statue. The commentators generally agree in the following explanation of the four kingdoms, signified by the different parts of the statue which was shown to Nabucodonosor in his dream. The first kingdom, figured by the head of gold, is the Chaldean or Babylonian kingdom, over which Nabucodonosor then presided as sovereign ruler and king, “ Thou,” said Daniel to the king, “art the head of gold.” This kingdom was composed of two parts. The first was the original kingdom of Babylon or Chaldea, which Nabucodonosor inherited from his ancestors, and which was founded by Nemrod, as we learn from the tenth chapter of Genesis. The other was formed of the many peoples and nations which Nabucodonosor conquered and subjected to his yoke. For history tells us that Nabucodonosor by degrees subjugated all the kings and princes who were then known in the East. Hence the prophet Daniel calls him king of kings. And the Lord by the prophet Jeremias says, that He had given to him all peoples and nations.
« I have given all these lands into the hands of Nabucodonosor, king of Babylon my servant: moreover, all the beasts of the field I have given him to serve him. And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son's son, till the time come for his land and himself; and many nations and great kings shall serve him.” The second kingdom figured in Daniel's prophecy, by the statue's breast and arms of silver, which was to rise after the first, is the Medo-Persian kingdom, which arose exactly after the Babylonian. This kingdom began under Cyrus, who besieged and took Babylon, put an end to that empire, and on its ruins erected the Medo-Persian kingdom. Josephus the Hebrew says that the two arms of silver proper of this kingdom signify the kings of the Medes and Persians, whose power was united under Cyrus, who was the son of one of the kings and son-in-law of the other. This empire is said to be inferior to the former, because neither Cyrus nor any of his successors ever carried their arms into Africa or Spain, as Nabucodonosor is reported to have done.
The third kingdom figured by the statue's belly and thighs of brass, and which was “ to rule over all the world,” is the Greek or Macedonian kingdom. For it is well known that Alexander the Great subverted the Persian kingdom and laid the foundation of the Greek empire. St. Jerome expressly says, that the third kingdom signifies Alexander and the kingdom of the Macedonians, and of the successors of Alexander. “ This kingdom,” says he, "is rightly named brazen, for amongst all metals brass is more vocal, and tinkles louder, and its sound is diffused far and wide, so that it showed not only the fame and power of the kingdom, but also the eloquence of the Greek language.” 1
| Jer. xxvii. 6, 7.
The fourth kingdom, which is figured by “the legs of iron, and the feet part of iron and part of clay,” represents manifestly the Roman empire, which succeeded to the Macedonian kingdom. St. Jerome, who lived to see the incursions of the barbarian nations, thus comments on this part of the prophecy of Daniel : “The fourth kingdom, which plainly belongs to the Romans, is the iron that breaketh and subdueth all things; but his feet and toes are part of iron and part of clay, which is most manifestly proved at this time; for as in the beginning nothing was stronger and harder than the Roman empire, so in the end of things nothing is weaker ; since both in civil wars and against divers nations we want the assistance of other barbarous nations." the same interpretation in other parts of his works, and it seems that he was blamed for it, as a reflection upon the government, and he accordingly makes this apology :"If,” saith he, "in explaining the statue and the difference of his feet and toes, I have interpreted the iron and clay of the Roman kingdom, which the Scripture foretells should first be strong, and then be weak, let
St. Hier. vol. iii. p. 1081, edit. Benedict.
He gives them not impute it to me, but to the prophet: for we must not so flatter princes as to neglect the verity of the Holy Scriptures, nor is a general disputation an injury to a single person.” 1
Sulpicius Severus, having given an account of Nabucodonosor's dream, and of all the particulars relating to it, subjoins an exposition of it agreeable to Daniel's interpretation.
« The statue, says he, “is an emblem of the world. The golden head is the empire of the Chaldeans, forasmuch as that was the first and most wealthy. The breast and arms of silver signify the second kingdom; for Cyrus, the Chaldeans and Medes being overcome, transferred the empire to the Persians. In the brazen belly the third kingdom is declared to be portended; and that we see fulfilled; forasmuch as the empire taken from the Persians Alexander vindicated to Macedonia. The iron legs are the fourth kingdom, and that is the Roman, the strongest of all the kingdoms before it. But the feet, part of iron and part of clay, prefigure the Roman empire to be so divided, as that it should never unite again : which is equally fulfilled. Forasmuch as the Roman territory is occupied by foreign nations or rebels, and we see (he lived at the beginning of the fifth century) barbarous nations mixed with our armies, cities, and provinces. But in the stone cut out without hands, which broke in pieces the gold, the silver, the brass, the iron, and the clay, we have a figure of Christ. For He shall reduce this world, in which are the kingdoms of the earth, to nothing, and shall establish another everlasting kingdom. Of which alone the faith of some is still dubious,
· Præfat. in Is. cap. xxxvi, vol. iii. p. 283.