Daniel 2:43
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.
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(43) Seed of men.—The great obscurity of this verse is partially cleared by a reference to Jeremiah 31:27. Daniel appears to be contrasting what man is endeavouring to accomplish by his own efforts with that which the God of heaven (Daniel 2:44) will carry out. Man will form his plans for uniting the discordant parts of this empire, by encouraging marriages between the royal families that rule the various component kingdoms. (Comp. Daniel 11:6; Daniel 11:17, Notes.)

2:31-45 This image represented the kingdoms of the earth, that should successively rule the nations, and influence the affairs of the Jewish church. 1. The head of gold signified the Chaldean empire, then in being. 2. The breast and arms of silver signified the empire of the Medes and Persians. 3. The belly and thighs of brass signified the Grecian empire, founded by Alexander. 4. The legs and feet of iron signified the Roman empire. The Roman empire branched into ten kingdoms, as the toes of these feet. Some were weak as clay, others strong as iron. Endeavours have often been used to unite them, for strengthening the empire, but in vain. The stone cut out without hands, represented the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, which should be set up in the kingdoms of the world, upon the ruins of Satan's kingdom in them. This was the Stone which the builders refused, because it was not cut out by their hands, but it is become the head stone of the corner. Of the increase of Christ's government and peace there shall be no end. The Lord shall reign, not only to the end of time, but when time and days shall be no more. As far as events have gone, the fulfilling this prophetic vision has been most exact and undeniable; future ages shall witness this Stone destroying the image, and filling the whole earth.And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men - Various explanations have been given of this verse, and it certainly is not of easy interpretation. The phrase "seed of men," would properly denote something different from the original stock that was represented by iron; some foreign admixture that would be so unlike that, and that would so little amalgamate with it, as to be properly represented by clay as compared with iron. Prof. Stuart interprets this of matrimonial alliances, and supposes that the idea expressed is, that, "while the object of such alliances was union, or at least a design to bring about a peaceable state of things, that object was, in a peculiar manner, defeated." The word rendered "men" (אנשׁא 'ănâshâ') is employed in Hebrew and in Chaldee to denote men of an inferior class - the lower orders, the common herd - in contradistinction from the more elevated and noble classes, represented by the word אישׁ 'ı̂ysh. See Isaiah 2:9; Isaiah 5:15; Proverbs 8:4.

The word here used also (from אנשׁ 'ânash) - to be sick, ill at ease, incurable), would properly denote feebleness or inferiority, and would be aptly represented by clay as contrasted with iron. The expression "seed of men," as here used, would therefore denote some intermingling of an inferior race with the original stock; some union or alliance under the one sovereignty, which would greatly weaken it as a whole, though the original strength still was great. The language would represent a race of mighty and powerful men, constituting the stamina - the bone and the sinew of the empire - mixed up with another race or other races, with whom, though they were associated in the government, they could never be blended; could never assimilate. This foreign admixture in the empire would be a constant source of weakness, and would constantly tend to division and faction, for such elements could never harmonize.

It is further to be remarked, that this would exist to a degree which would not be found in either of the three previous kingdoms. In fact, in these kingdoms there was no such intermingling with foreign nations as to destroy the homogeneousness of the empire. They were, in the main, Orientals; with the language, the manners, the customs, the habits of Orientals; and in respect to energy and power - the point here under consideration - there was no marked distinction between the subjected provinces and the original materials of the monarchy. By the act of subjection, they became substantially one people, and readily blended together. This remark will certainly apply to the two first of these monarchies - the Babylonian and the Medo-Persian; and though with less force to the Macedonian, yet it was not true of that, that it became so intermingled with foreign people as to constitute heterogeneous elements as it was of the Roman. In that monarchy, the element of "strength" was "infused" by Alexander and his Greeks; all the elements of weakness were in the original materials of the empire.

In the Roman, the element of strength - "the iron" - was in the original material of the empire; the weak, the heterogeneous element - "the clay" - was what was introduced from the foreign nations. This consideration may perhaps do something to show that the opinion of Grotius, Prof. Stuart, and others, that this fourth monarchy was what immediately succeeded Alexander is not well founded. The only question then is, whether, in the constitution of the Roman empire, at the time when it became the successor of the other three as a universal monarchy, there was such an intermingling of a foreign element, as to be properly represented by clay as contrasted with the original and stronger material "iron." I say, "at the time when it became the successor of the other three as a universal monarchy," because the only point of view in which Daniel contemplated it was that. He looked at this, as he did at the others, as already such a universal dominion, and not at what it was before, or at the steps by which it rose to power.

Now, on looking at the Roman empire at that period, and during the time when it occupied the position of the universal monarchy, and during which the "stone cut out of the mountain" grew and filled the world, there is no difficulty in finding such an intermingling with other nations - "the seed of men" - as to be properly described by "iron and clay" in the same image that could never be blended, The allusion is, probably, to that intermingling with other nations which so remarkably characterized the Roman empire, and which arose partly from its conquests, and partly from the inroads of other people in the latter days of the empire, and in reference to both of which there was no proper amalgamation, leaving the original vigour of the empire substantially in its strength, but introducing other elements which never amalgamated with it, and which were like clay intermingled with iron.

(1) from their conquests. Tacitus says, "Dominandi cupido cunctis affectibus flagrantior est" - the lust of ruling is more ardent than all other desires; and this was eminently true of the Romans. They aspired at the dominion of the world; and, in their strides at universal conquest, they brought nations under their subjection, and admitted them to the rights of citizenship, which had no affinity with the original material which composed the Roman power, and which never really amalgamated with it, anymore than clay does with iron.

(2) This was true, also, in respect to the hordes that poured into the empire from other countries, and particularly from the Scandinavian regions, in the latter periods of the empire, and with which the Romans were compelled to form alliances, while, at the same time, they could not amalgamate with them. "In the reign of the emperor Caracalla," says Mr. Gibbon, "an innumerable swarm of Suevi appeared on the banks of the Mein, and in the neighborhood of the Roman provinces, in quest of food, or plunder, or glory. The hasty army of volunteers gradually coalesced into a great and permanent nation, and as it was composed of so many different tribes, assumed the name of Allemanni, or "allmen," to denote their various lineage, and their common bravery." No reader of the Roman history can be ignorant of the invasions of the Goths, the Huns, and the Vandals, or of the effects of these invasions on the empire.

No one can be ignorant of the manner in which they became intermingled with the ancient Roman people, or of the attempts to form alliances with them, by intermarriages and otherwish, which were always like attempts to unite iron and clay. "Placidia, daughter of Theodosius the Great, was given in marriage to Adolphus, king of the Goths; the two daughters of Stilicho, the Vandal, were successively married to Honorius; and Genseric, another Vandal, gave Eudocia, a captive imperial princess, to his son to wife." The effects of the intermingling of foreign people on the character and destiny of the empire cannot be stated perhaps in a more graphic manner than is done by Mr. Gibbon, in the summary review of the Roman History, with which he concludes his seventh chapter, and at the same time there could scarcely be a more clear or cxpressive commentary on this prophecy of Daniel. "During the four first ages," says he, "the Romans, in the laborious school of poverty, had acquired the virtues of war and government: by the vigorous exertion of those virtues, and by the assistance of fortune, they had obtained, in the course of the three succeeding centuries, an absolute empire over many countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa. The last three hundred years had been consumed in apparent prosperity and internal decline. The nation of soldiers, magistrates, and legislators, who composed the thirty-five tribes of the Roman people, was dissolved into the common mass of mankind, and confounded with the million of servile provincials who had received the name without adopting the spirit of Romans. A mercenary army, levied among the subjects and barbarians of the frontier, was the only order of men who preserved and abused their independence.

By their tumultuary election, a Syrian, a Goth, or an Arab was exalted to the throne of Rome, and invested with despotic power over the conquests and over the country of the Scipios. The limits of the Roman empire still extended from the Western Ocean to the Tigris, and from Mount Atlas to the Rhine and the Danube. To the undiscerning eye of the common, Philip appeared a monarch no less powerful than Hadrian or Augustus had formerly been. The form was still the same, but the animating health and rigor were fled. The industry of the people was discouraged and exhausted by a long series of oppression. The discipline of the legions, which alone, after the extinction of every other virtue, had propped the greatness of the state, was corrupted by the ambition, or relaxed by the weakness of the emperors. The strength of the frontiers, which had always consisted in arms rather than in fortifications, was insensibly undermined, and the fairest provinces were left exposed to the rapaciousness or ambition of the barbarians, who soon discovered the decline of the Roman empire." - Vol. i. pp. 110, 111; Harper's Edit. (N. Y.) 1829.

Compare the notes at Revelation 6:1-8. The agency of the Roman empire was so important in preparing the world for the advent of the Son of God, and in reference to the establishment of his kingdom, that there was an obvious proriety that it should be made a distinct subject of prophecy. We have seen that each of the other three kingdoms had an important influence in preparing the world for the introduction of Christianity, and was designed to accomplish an important part in the "History of Redemption." The agency of the Roman empire was more direct and important than any one or all of these, for

(a) that was the empire which had the supremacy when the Son of God appeared;

(b) that kingdom had performed a more direct and important work in preparing the world for his coming;

(c) it was under authority derived from that sovereignty that the Son of God was put to death; and

(d) it was by that, that the ancient dispensation was brought to an end; and


41-43. feet … toes … part … clay … iron—explained presently, "the kingdom shall be partly strong, partly broken" (rather, "brittle," as earthenware); and Da 2:43, "they shall mingle … with the seed of men," that is, there will be power (in its deteriorated form, iron) mixed up with that which is wholly of man, and therefore brittle; power in the hands of the people having no internal stability, though something is left of the strength of the iron [Tregelles]. Newton, who understands the Roman empire to be parted into the ten kingdoms already (whereas Tregelles makes them future), explains the "clay" mixture as the blending of barbarous nations with Rome by intermarriages and alliances, in which there was no stable amalgamation, though the ten kingdoms retained much of Rome's strength. The "mingling with the seed of men" (Da 2:44) seems to refer to Ge 6:2, where the marriages of the seed of godly Seth with the daughters of ungodly Cain are described in similar words. The reference, therefore, seems to be to the blending of the Christianized Roman empire with the pagan nations, a deterioration being the result. Efforts have been often made to reunite the parts into one great empire, as by Charlemagne and Napoleon, but in vain. Christ alone shall effect that. With the seed of men, i.e. by marriage; but they shall never solder well together, because ambition is of stronger force than affinity and consanguinity in rulers.

And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay,.... That is, iron among the clay; otherwise iron and clay will not mix and cement together, as is affirmed in the latter part of the verse; but as some of these toes were of iron, and others of clay, or some part of them were iron, and some part of them of clay,

they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men; the Romans shall mix with people of other and many nations that shall come in among them, and unite in setting up kingdoms; or these kingdoms set up shall intermarry with each other, in order to strengthen their alliances, and support their interests: thus France, Spain, Portugal, and other nations; those of the royal families marry with each other, with such views:

but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay; and yet these ties of marriage and of blood shall not cause them to cleave to and abide by one another; but ambition and worldly interests will engage them to take part with each other's enemies, or to go to war with one another, to the weakening and hurting each other; and thus the potsherds of the earth will dash one another to pieces; and those who are more powerful, like the iron, will trample the weaker like miry clay under their feet.

And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with {y} the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.

(y) They will be marriages and affinities think to make themselves strong: yet they will never by united in heart.

43. shall be mingling themselves by the seed of men] i.e. will contract matrimonial alliances. By ‘seed of men’ are meant probably children of the monarchs ruling at the time.

is not mixed with clay] doth not mingle with clay. The allusion in this verse is to matrimonial alliances contracted between the Ptolemies and the Seleucidae (cf. Daniel 11:6; Daniel 11:17), which did not, however, succeed in producing permanent harmony or union between them.

Daniel 2:43In Daniel 2:42 the same is aid of the toes of the feet, and in Daniel 2:43 the comparison to iron and clay is defined as the mixture of these two component parts. As the iron denotes the firmness of the kingdom, so the clay denotes its brittleness. The mixing of iron with clay represents the attempt to bind the two distinct and separate materials into one combined whole as fruitless, and altogether in vain. The mixing of themselves with the seed of men (Daniel 2:43), most interpreters refer to the marriage politics of the princes. They who understand by the four kingdoms the monarchy of Alexander and his followers, think it refers to the marriages between the Seleucidae and the Ptolemies, of which indeed there is mention made in Daniel 11:6 and Daniel 11:17, but not here; while Hofm. thinks it relates to marriages, such as those of the German Kaiser Otto II and the Russian Grand-Duke Wladimir with the daughters of the Kaiser of Eastern Rome. But this interpretation is rightly rejected by Klief., as on all points inconsistent with the text. The subject to מתערבין is not the kings, of whom mention is made neither in Daniel 2:43 nor previously. For the two feet as well as the ten toes denote not kings, but parts of the fourth kingdom; and even in Daniel 2:44, by מלכיּא, not kings in contradistinction to the kingdoms, but the representatives of the parts of the kingdom denoted by the feet and the toes as existing contemporaneously, are to be understood, from which it cannot rightly be concluded in any way that kings is the subject to מתערבין (shall mingle themselves).

As, in the three preceding kingdoms, gold, silver, and brass represent the material of these kingdoms, i.e., their peoples and their culture, so also in the fourth kingdom iron and clay represent the material of the kingdoms arising out of the division of this kingdom, i.e., the national elements out of which they are constituted, and which will and must mingle together in them. If, then, the "mixing themselves with the seed of men" points to marriages, it is only of the mixing of different tribes brought together by external force in the kingdom by marriages as a means of amalgamating the diversified nationalities. But the expression is not to be limited to this, although התערב, Ezra 9:2, occurs of the mixing of the holy nation with the heathen by marriage. The peculiar expression אנששׁא זרע, the seed of men, is not of the same import as זרע שׁכבת, but is obviously chosen with reference to the following contrast to the divine Ruler, Daniel 2:44., so as to place (Kran.) the vain human endeavour of the heathen rulers in contrast with the doings of the God of heaven; as in Jeremiah 31:27 אדם זרע is occasioned by the contrast of בּהמה זרע. The figure of mixing by seed is derived from the sowing of the field with mingled seed, and denotes all the means employed by the rulers to combine the different nationalities, among which the connubium is only spoken of as the most important and successful means.

But this mixing together will succeed just as little as will the effort to bind together into one firm coherent mass iron and clay. The parts mixed together will not cleave to each other. Regarding להון, see under Daniel 2:20.

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