The Coming Prince
CHAPTER III: THE KING'S DREAM AND THE PROPHET'S VISIONS
THE distinction between the Hebrew and the Chaldee portions of the writings
of Daniel affords a natural division, the importance of which will
appear on a careful consideration of the whole. But for the purpose of
the present inquiry, the book will more conveniently divide itself between
the first six chapters and the last, the former portion being primarily
historical and didactic, and the latter containing the record of the four
great visions granted to the prophet in his closing years. It is with
the visions that here we are specially concerned. The narrative of the
third, fourth, fifth, and sixth chapters is beyond the scope of these
pages, as having no immediate bearing upon the prophecy. The second chapter,
however, is of great importance, as giving the foundation of the later
In a dream, King Nebuchadnezzar saw a great image, of which
the head was gold, the breasts and arms silver, the body brass, the legs
iron, and the feet partly iron and partly potter's ware. Then a stone, hewn
without hands, struck the feet of the image and it fell and crumbled to
dust, and the stone became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
1. "The Chaldee portion of Daniel commences at the
fourth verse of the second chapter, and continues to the end of the
seventh chapter." –TREGELLES, Daniel, p. 8.
2. The following analysis of the Book of Daniel may help the study of
- Chap. 1. The capture of Jerusalem. The captivity
of Daniel and his three companions, and their fortunes in Babylon
(B. C. 606).
Chap. 2. Nebuchadnezzar's dream of THE GREAT IMAGE (B. C. 6o3-2).
Chap. 3. Nebuchadnezzar's golden image set up for all his subjects
to worship. Daniel's three companions cast into the fiery furnace.
Chap. 4. Nebuchadnezzar's dream about his own insanity, and Daniel's
interpretation of it. Its fulfillment.
Chap. 5 Belshazzar's feast. Babylon taken by Darius the Mede (B. C.
Chap. 6. Daniel is promoted by Darius; refuses to worship him, and
is cast into a den of' lions. His deliverance and subsequent prosperity
(? B. C.. 537).
Chap. 7. Daniel's vision of THE FOUR BEASTS (? B. C. 54I).
Chap. 8. Daniel's vision of THE RAM AND THE GOAT (? B. C. 539).
Chap. 9. Daniel's prayer: the prophecy of THE SEVENTY WEEKS (B. C.
Chaps. 10. - 12. Daniel's LAST VISION (B. C. 534).
The interpretation is in these words:
3. The difficulty connected with the date of this vision
(the second year of Nebuchadnezzar) is considered in App.
- "Thou, O king, art a king of kings;
for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength
and glory. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of
the field and the fowls of the heaven hath He given into thine hand,
and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.
And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another
third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. And
the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron; forasmuch as iron breaketh
in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these,
shall it break in pieces and bruise. And whereas thou sawest the feet
and toes part of potter's clay and part of iron, the kingdom shall be
divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch
as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the
feet were part of iron and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly
strong, and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry
clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall
not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay. And
in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom
which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to
other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms,
and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone
was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces
the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God
hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the
dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure." (Daniel 2:37-45)
The predicted sovereignty of Judah passed far beyond the
limits of mere supremacy among the tribes of Israel. It was an imperial
scepter which was entrusted to the Son of David.
- "I will make him my firstborn, higher
than the kings of the earth." (Psalm 89:27)
"All things shall fall down before him, all nations shall serve him."
Such were the promises which Solomon inherited; and the
brief glory of his reign gave proof how fully they might have been realized,
(2 Chronicles 9:22-28) had he not turned aside to folly, and bartered
for present sensual pleasures the most splendid prospects which ever opened
before mortal man. Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the great image, and Daniel's
vision in interpretation of that dream, were a Divine revelation that
the forfeited scepter of the house of David had passed to Gentile hands,
to remain with them until the day when "the God
of heaven shall set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed." (Daniel
It is unnecessary here to discuss in detail the
earlier portions of this prophecy. There is, in fact, no controversy as
to its general character and scope; and bearing in mind the distinction
between what is doubted and what is doubtful, there need be no controversy
as to the identity of the empires therein described with Babylonia, Persia,
Greece, and Rome. That the first was Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom is definitely
stated, (Daniel 2:37, 38) and a later vision as expressly names the Medo-Persian
empire and the empire of Alexander as being distinct "kingdoms" within
the range of the prophecy. (Daniel 8:20, 21) The fourth empire, therefore,
must of necessity be Rome. But it is sufficient here to emphasize the
fact, revealed in the plainest terms to Daniel in his exile, and to Jeremiah
in the midst of the troubles at Jerusalem, that thus the sovereignty of
the earth, which had been forfeited by Judah, was solemnly committed to
the Gentiles. The only questions which arise relate, first to the character
of the final catastrophe symbolized by the fall and destruction of the
image, and secondly to the time of its fulfillment; and any difficulties
which have been raised depend in no way upon the language of the prophecy,
but solely upon the preconceived views of interpreters. No Christian doubts
that the "stone cut out without hands" was typical either of Christ Himself
or of His kingdom. It is equally clear that the catastrophe was to occur
when the fourth empire should have become divided, and be "partly strong
and partly brittle." Therefore its fulfillment could not belong to the
time of the first advent. No less clear is it that its fulfillment was
to be a sudden crisis, to be followed by the establishment of "a kingdom
which shall never be destroyed." Therefore it relates to events still
to come. We are dealing here, not with prophetic theories, but with the
meaning of plain words; and what the prophecy foretells is not the rise
and spread of a "spiritual kingdom" in the midst of earthly kingdoms,
but the establishment of a kingdom which "shall break in pieces and consume
all these kingdoms."
The interpretation of the royal dream raised the captive
exile at a single bound to the Grand-Vizier-ship of Babylon, (Daniel 2:48)
a position of trust and honor which probably he held until he was either
dismissed or withdrew from office under one or other of the two last kings
who succeeded to Nebuchadnezzar's throne. The scene on the fatal night of
Belshazzar's feast suggests that he had been then so long in retirement,
that the young king-regent knew nothing of his fame. But yet his fame
was still so great with older men, that notwithstanding his failing years,
he was once more called to the highest office by Darius, when the Median
king became master of the broad-walled city.
4. Cf. Daniel 2:38, and Jeremiah 27:6, 7. –
The statement of Genesis 49:10 may seem at first sight to clash with
this: "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a law-giver from
between his feet, until Shiloh come." But, as events prove, this cannot
mean that royal power was to be exercised by the house of Judah until
the advent of Christ. Hengstenberg has rightly interpreted it (Christology,
Arnold's trans., Ch. 78): "Judah shall not cease to exist as a tribe,
nor lose its superiority, until it shall be exalted to higher honor
and glory through the great Redeemer, who shall spring from it, and
whom not only the Jews, but all the nations of the earth shall obey."
As he points out, "until not unfrequently means up to and
afterwards." (See ex. gr. Genesis 28:15.) The meaning
of the prophecy, therefore, was not that Judah was to exercise royal
power until Christ, and then lose it, which is the lame and unsatisfactory
gloss usually adopted; but that the pre-eminence of Judah is to be irrevocably
established in Christ – not spiritually, but in fact, in the kingdom
of which Daniel prophesies.
5. To believe that such a prophecy can ever be realized may seem to
betoken fanaticism and folly, but at least let us accept the language
of Scripture, and not lapse into the blind absurdity of expecting the
fulfillment of theories based on what men conjecture the prophets ought
to have foretold.
But whether in prosperity or in retirement, he was true to
the God of his fathers. The years in which his childhood in Jerusalem was
spent, though politically dark and troubled, were a period of the brightest
spiritual revival by which his nation had ever been blessed, and he had
carried with him to the court of Nebuchadnezzar a faith and piety that withstood
all the adverse influences which abounded in such a scene.
6. This appears from the language of the queen-mother,
Daniel 5:10- 12. But chap. 8:27 shows that Daniel, even then, held some
appointment at the court.
7. Daniel 6:1, 2. Daniel cannot have been less than eighty years of
age at this time. See chron. table, App.
The Daniel of the second chapter was a young man just entering
on a career of extraordinary dignity and power, such as few have ever known,
The Daniel of the seventh chapter was an aged saint, who, having passed
through the ordeal scathless, still possessed a heart as true to God and
to His people as when, some threescore years before, he had entered the
gates of the broad-walled city a captive and friendless stranger. The date
of the earlier vision was about the time of Jehoiakim's revolt, when their
ungovernable pride of race and creed still led the Jews to dream of independence.
At the time of the later vision more than forty years had passed since Jerusalem
had been laid in ruins, and the last king of the house of David had entered
the brazen gates of Babylon in chains.
8. It is improbable that Daniel was less than twenty-one
years of age when placed at the head of the empire in the second year
of Nebuchadnezzar. The age to which he lived makes it equally improbable
that he was more. His birth would thus fall, as before suggested, about
B. C. 625, the epoch of Nabopolassar's era, and some three years later
was Josiah's passover, the like of which had never been held in Israel
from the days of Samuel (2 Chronicles 35:18, 19).
Here again the main outlines of the prophecy seem clear. As the four empires
which were destined successively to wield sovereign power during "the times
of the Gentiles" are represented in Nebuchadnezzar's dream by the four divisions
of the great image, they are here typified by four wild beasts. The ten
toes of the image in the second chapter have their correlatives in the ten
horns of the fourth beast in the seventh chapter. The character and course
of the fourth empire are the prominent subject of the later vision, but
both prophecies are equally explicit that that empire in its ultimate phase
will be brought to a signal and sudden end by a manifestation of Divine
power on earth.
The details of the vision, though interesting and important,
may here be passed unnoticed, for the interpretation given of them is so
simple and so definite that the words can leave no room for doubt in any
unprejudiced mind. "These great beasts, which are four, are four kings"
(i.e., kingdoms; compare verse 23), "which shall arise out of the
earth; but the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom and possess
the kingdom for ever." (Verses 17, 18)
9. The following is the vision as recorded in Daniel
- "Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night,
and behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.
And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the
wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and
made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to
it. And, behold, another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised
up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between
the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.
After this I beheld, and, lo, another, like a leopard, which had upon
the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads;
and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions,
and, behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly;
and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and
stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all
the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered
the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn,
before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the
roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and
a mouth speaking great things. I beheld till the thrones were cast
down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as
snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was
like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream
issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered
unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. the
judgment was set, and the books were opened. I beheld then, because
of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even
till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the
burning flame. As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their
dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and
time. I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of
man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days,
and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion,
and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages,
should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall
not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed."
The prophet then proceeds to recapitulate the vision, and his language affords
an explicit answer to the only question which can reasonably be raised upon
the words just quoted, namely, whether the "kingdom of the saints" shall
follow immediately upon the close of the fourth Gentile empire. "Then,"
he adds, "I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse
from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his
nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue
with his feet; and of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other
which came up, and before whom three fell, even of that horn that had eyes,
and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than
his fellows. I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed
against them; until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to
the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed
Such was the prophet's inquiry. Here is the interpretation
accorded to him in reply.
10. Certain writers advocate an interpretation of these
visions which allots the "four kingdoms" to Babylonia, Media, Persia,
and Greece. This view, with which Professor Westcott's name is identified,
claims notice merely in order to distinguish it from another with which
it has been confounded, even in a work of such pretensions as The
Speaker's Commentary (Vol. 6., p. 333, Excursus on the Four Kingdoms).
The learned author of the Ordo Saeclorum (Ch. 616, etc.),
quoting Maitland, who in turn follows Lacunza (Ben Ezra), argues that
the accession of Darius the Mede to the throne of Babylon did not involve
a change of empire. These writers further urge that the description
of the third kingdom resembles Rome rather than Greece. According to
this view, therefore, the kingdoms are 1st Babylon, including Persia,
2nd Greece, 3rd Rome, 4th a future kingdom to arise in the last days.
But as already noticed (p. 32, ante), the book of Daniel expressly
distinguishes Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece as "kingdoms' within
the scope of the prophecy.
- "The fourth beast shall be the fourth
kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall
devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.
And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise:
and another shall arise after them; and he shall be diverse from the
first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words
against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High,
and think to change times and laws; and they shall be given into his
hand, until a time and times and the dividing of time. But the judgment
shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to
destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness
of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people
of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and all dominions shall serve and obey Him." (Daniel 7:19-27)
11. Daniel 7:19-27. On this
vision see Pusey, Daniel, pp. 78, 79.
Whether history records any event which may
be within the range of this prophecy is a matter of opinion. That it has
not been fulfilled is a plain matter of fact. The Roman earth
shall one day be parceled out in ten separate kingdoms, and out of one of
these shall arise that terrible enemy of God and His people, whose destruction
is to be one of the events of the second advent of Christ.
12. The state of Europe at or after
the dismemberment of the Roman Empire has been appealed to as a fulfillment
of it, ignoring the fact that the territory which Augustus ruled included
a considerable district both of Asia and Africa. Nor is this all. There
is no presumption against finding in past times a partial accomplishment
of such a prophecy, but the fact that twenty-eight different lists,
including sixty-five "kingdoms," have been put forward in the controversy,
is a proof how worthless is the evidence of any such fulfillment. In
truth the historical school of interpreters have here, as on many other
points, brought discredit upon their entire system, containing, as it
does, so much that claims attention (see App.
2. Note C).