Daniel 7:23
Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.
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(23) The fourth kingdom.—The ten are spoken of as existing simultaneously. Of the various attempts to account for them, none have proved satisfactory. (See Excursus E.) We must wait in patient humility for the fulfilment of this part of the prophecy, noting that marks by which the little horn may be identified have been graciously revealed to us by God Himself.

Daniel 7:23-24. The fourth beast shall be diverse from all kingdoms — As being managed under different forms of government; having a form of commonwealth at the beginning of its greatness, and afterward governed by kings and emperors; and in process of time being divided into ten kingdoms, or principalities; and all of them under the direction of one spiritual head. And the ten horns are ten kings — Or, kingdoms. A horn is an emblem of strength, so it comes to signify power and authority; and from thence it is applied to denote sovereignty, or dominion. The ten horns, or kingdoms, were to arise out of the dissolution of the Roman empire, which came to pass accordingly. There are various enumerations of these ten kingdoms in the division of the Roman empire, none of which are reckoned to commence earlier than the latter end of the fourth, or the beginning of the fifth century. Bishop Newton, in his fourteenth Dissertation, has given several lists, by Machiavel, by Mr. Mede, by Bishop Lloyd, and by Sir Isaac Newton; and at last has added one which he has selected from the others, and which he has placed in the eighth century. His words are, “The principal states and governments then were, 1. The senate of Rome, who revolted from the Greek emperors, and claimed and exerted the privilege of choosing a new western emperor; 2. The Greeks in Ravenna; 3. The Lombards in Lombardy; 4. The Huns in Hungary; 5. The Alemannes in Germany; 6. The Franks in France; 7. The Burgundians in Burgundy; 8. The Goths in Spain; 9. The Britons; 10. The Saxons in Britain. Not that there were constantly ten kingdoms, they were sometimes more and sometimes fewer; but, as Sir Isaac Newton says, ‘whatever was their number afterward, they are still called the ten kingdoms, from their first number.’“

And another shall arise after them — Greek, οπισω αυτων, behind them, as the words may be rendered; that is, either unperceived by them, or whose height, or dominion, should not acquire its summit till long after their establishment. This is generally agreed, by all Protestant interpreters, to be the kingdom of the pope, which was certainly of a very different nature from any of the former, being first ecclesiastical, or spiritual, and afterward claiming a temporal or civil jurisdiction. The LXX. add, that it should be distinguished from the former, κακοις, in evils, or malignancies. And the kings, or kingdoms, which it should pluck up by the roots, or humble, as ταπεινωσει, the word used by the LXX., signifies, (which is also the reading of the Vulgate,) are pointed out by the same prelate to be the exarchate of Ravenna, the kingdom of the Lombards, and the state of Rome. These states were reduced in the eighth century; and the epistles and bulls issued by the pope are, after that time, dated from the years of the commencement of the pope’s temporal jurisdiction, or advancement to the papal chair; and the pope, by wearing his triple crown, hath in a manner pointed himself out for the person here intended: see Bishop Newton and Mr. Wintle.

And what still more fully characterizes this power, and proves it to be intended of the Papacy, is, that it is said, in Daniel 7:8, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man; which denotes cunning and foresight, exercised in looking out and watching all opportunities of promoting one’s interest. “And the policy of the Roman hierarchy hath almost passed into a proverb. The pope is properly called an overlooker, or overseer: an επισκοπος, or bishop, in the literal sense of the word. In Daniel 7:8; Daniel 7:20, it is said, He had a mouth, speaking great things: and who hath been more noisy and blustering than the pope, especially in former ages; boasting of his supremacy, thundering out his bulls and anathemas, excommunicating princes, and absolving subjects from their allegiance? His look was more stout than his fellows, Daniel 7:20. And the pope assumes a superiority, not only over his fellow-bishops, but even over crowned heads: and requires his foot to be kissed, and greater honours to be paid to him than to kings and emperors themselves.”7:15-28 It is desirable to obtain the right and full sense of what we see and hear from God; and those that would know, must ask by faithful and fervent prayer. The angel told Daniel plainly. He especially desired to know respecting the little horn, which made war with the saints, and prevailed against them. Here is foretold the rage of papal Rome against true Christians. St. John, in his visions and prophecies, which point in the first place at Rome, has plain reference to these visions. Daniel had a joyful prospect of the prevalence of God's kingdom among men. This refers to the second coming of our blessed Lord, when the saints shall triumph in the complete fall of Satan's kingdom. The saints of the Most High shall possess the kingdom for ever. Far be it from us to infer from hence, that dominion is founded on grace. It promises that the gospel kingdom shall be set up; a kingdom of light, holiness, and love; a kingdom of grace, the privileges and comforts of which shall be the earnest and first-fruits of the kingdom of glory. But the full accomplishment will be in the everlasting happiness of the saints, the kingdom that cannot be moved. The gathering together the whole family of God will be a blessedness of Christ's coming.Thus he said ... - That is, in explanation of the fourth symbol which appeared - the fourth beast, and of the events connected with his appearing. This explanation embraces the remainder of the chapter; and as the whole subject appeared difficult and momentous to Daniel before the explanation, so it may be said to be in many respects difficult, and in all respects momentous still. It is a question on which expositors of the Scriptures are by no means agreed, to what it refers, and whether it has been already accomplished, or whether it extends still into the future; and it is of importance, therefore, to determine, if possible, what is its true meaning. The two points of inquiry which are properly before us are, first, What do the words of explanation as used by the angel fairly imply - that is, what, according to the fair interpretation of these words, would be the course of events referred to, or what should we naturally expect to find as actually occurring on the earth in the fulfillment of this? and, secondly, To what events the prophecy is actually to be applied - whether to what has already occurred, or what is yet to occur; whether we can find anything in what is now past which would be an accomplishment of this, or whether it is to be applied to events a part of which are yet future? This will lead us into a statement of the points which it is affirmed would occur in regard to this kingdom: and then into an inquiry respecting the application.

What is fairly implied in the explanation of the angel? This would embrace the following points:

(1) There was to be a fourth kingdom on the earth: "the fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth," Daniel 7:23. This was to succeed the other three, symbolized by the lion, the bear, and the leopard. No further reference is made to them, but the characteristics of this are fully stated. Those characteristics, which have been explained in the notes at Daniel 7:7, are, as here repeated,

(a) that it would be in important respects different from the others;

(b) that it would devour, or subdue the whole earth;

(c) that it would tread it down and break it in pieces; that is, it would be a universal dynasty, of a fierce and warlike character, that would keep the whole world subdued and subject by power.

(2) out of this sovereignty or dominion, ten powers would arise Daniel 7:24 : "and the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise." Compare the notes at Daniel 7:7. That is, they would spring out of this one dominion, or it would be broken up into these minor sovereignties, yet all manifestly springing from the one kingdom, and wielding the same power. We should not naturally look for the fulfillment of this in a succession of kings, for that would have been symbolized by the beast itself representing the entire dominion or dynasty, but rather to a number of contemporaneous powers that had somehow sprung out of the one power, or that now possessed and wielded the power of that one dominion. If the kingdom here referred to should be broken up into such a number of powers, or if in any way these powers became possessed of this authority, and wielded it, such a fact would express what we are to expect to find in this kingdom.

(3) From the midst of these sovereignties or kingdoms there was to spring up another one of peculiar characteristics, Daniel 7:24-25. These characteristics are the following:

(a) That it would spring out of the others, or be, as it were, one form of the administration of the same power - as the eleventh horn sprang from the same source as the ten, and we are, therefore, to look for the exercise of this power somehow in connection with the same kingdom or dynasty.

(b) This would not spring up contemporaneously with the ten, but would arise "after them" - and we are to look for the power as in some sense succeeding them.

(c) It would be small at first - as was the horn Daniel 7:8, and we are to look for the fulfillment in some power that would be feeble at first.

(d) It would grow to be a mighty power for the little horn became so powerful as to pluck up three of the others Daniel 7:8, and it is said in the explanation Daniel 7:24, that he would subdue three of the kings.

(e) It would subdue "three kings;" that is, three of the ten, and we are to look for the fulfillment in some manifestation of that power by which, either literally three of them were overthrown, or by which about one-third of their power was taken away. The mention of the exact number of "three," however, would rather seem to imply that we are to expect some such exact fulfillment, or some prostration of three sovereignties by the new power that would arise.

(f) It would be proud, and ambitious, and particularly arrogant against God: "and he shall speak great words against the Most High," Daniel 7:25. The Chaldee here rendered against - לצד letsad - means, literally, at, or against the part of it, and then against. Vulgate contra; Greek πρὸς pros. This would be fulfilled in one who would blaspheme God directly; or who would be rebellious against his government and authority; or who would complain of his administration and laws; or who would give utterance to harsh and reproachful words against his real claims. It would find a fulfillment obviously in an open opposer of the claims and the authority of the true God; or in one the whole spirit and bearing of whose pretensions might be fairly construed as in fact an utterance of great words against him.


22. Ancient of days came—The title applied to the Father in Da 7:13 is here applied to the Son; who is called "the everlasting Father" (Isa 9:6). The Father is never said to "come"; it is the Son who comes.

judgment was given to … saints—Judgment includes rule; "kingdom" in the end of this verse (1Co 6:2; Re 1:6; 5:10; 20:4). Christ first receives "judgment" and the "kingdom," then the saints with Him (Da 7:13, 14).

Verse 23. No text from Poole on this verse. Thus he said,.... The person that stood by, the angel, of whom Daniel made his inquiries, and who answered him, as follows:

the fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom on earth; which shows that the angel, by four kings, Daniel 7:17, meant four kingdoms, that should successively arise in the earth, and out of it, one after another; and this kingdom is not the kingdom of the Seleucidae, nor the Turkish, but the Roman empire; for this is to continue until the kingdom of Christ takes place; see Daniel 7:7,

which shall be diverse from all kingdoms; from the kingdoms and monarchies that were before it; particularly as a kingdom, in its form of government, both when Pagan and when Papal; see Daniel 7:7,

and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces: not the whole land of Judea only, as some read and interpret it; but the whole world, which the Romans became masters of; and the phrases used denote the destruction and desolation they made, wherever they carried their arms, and the cruelty and tyranny they exercised, and the vast profusion of blood made by them, both among the Heathens they subdued, and the Christians they persecuted.

Thus he said, 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.
23. shall be a fourth kingdom, &c.] The fourth beast represents a kingdom different in character from all the kingdoms, i.e. from any of the previous kingdoms, and far more terrible in its operation.

the whole earth] To be understood with the same limitations as when it is said (Daniel 2:39; cf. also on Daniel 4:1) that the Persian empire should include ‘the whole earth.’

tread it down] The word is used in Hebrew, and at least sometimes in Aramaic, of threshing (which was performed in ancient times by the feet of oxen, Deuteronomy 25:4): hence R.V. marg. ‘Or, thresh it.’ Cf. for the figure Micah 4:13; Isaiah 41:15.

23–27. The answer of the angel.Verses 23, 24. - Thus he said, The fourth boast 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 rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. The version of the LXX. differs in some minute points from the Massoretic text. The text as given by Justin Martyr is slightly shorter by omitting some words. Theodotion and the Peshitta also agree. What remarks can be made on this have been made already. It is to be observed that it is the whole earth that is devoured by the fourth beast as presented to us now. In the earlier presentation, although very terrible, his devastation is limited. There is nothing said to indicate that the kings are successive, but the inference rather is that they are contemporaries. The attempts are many that have been made to make out ten kings before Epiphanes, but they have all failed. If the fourth kingdom is the Greek Empire, then ten is a number far too small for the various kings of the different dynasties that sprang up There were seven or eight Lagids, as many Seleucids, three or four Attalids, five or six Antigonids, not to speak of such men as Lysimaehus and Perdiecas, who were kings, but who did not found dynasties. If the fourth kingdom is tacitly reduced to the Syrian kingdom, then how is it explained that the author of 'Daniel' was ignorant, in the seventh chapter, that the Lagids were also successors of Alexander as well as the Seleucids? How could a man living in the age of the Maccabees imagine the Seleucids rulers of the world, when Epiphanes had been a hostage in Rome? A great power does not give, but receives, hostages. We know from First Maccabees that the Jews were well aware of this, and also of the check the Romans were on Epiphanes. Even if Daniel wrote at the time chosen by the critics, how came he to be so ignorant as to imagine the Seleueid Empire to be so tremendously great? He shall subdue three kings. Who are the three kings of the ten who preceded him whom Epiphanes subdued? Seleucus Philopator, Heliodorus, and Demetrius Soter are given by Professor Bevan. But Demetrius Sorer did not ascend the throne till after the death of Epiphanes. It is extremely doubtful whether Heliodorus ever assumed the crown. Our whole knowledge of him is from Appian. Josephus knows nothing of Heliodorus. The Second Book of Maccabees, though telling a legendary story of Heliodorus, gives no account of his murder of his master and attempt to take the crown. Our sole authority for this whole story is Appian, who wrote three centuries after the event, and manifests considerable confusion at times, e.g. represents Attalus and Eu-menes as being two sovereigns independent of each other, whereas the one succeeded the other. If Seleucus Philopator is to be reckoned as "subdued" or "humbled" before Epiphanes, as well might all the rest of his predecessors. The Jewish interpretation, that the little horn is the Flavian dynasty, has far more verisimilitude. Certainly Galba Vitellius and Otho had been humbled before the Flavians. If we consider the horn "magistracies," certainly the absorption into the imperial dignity of all the higher magistracies might well be reckoned humbling them. The erection and consecration of the golden image, and the accusation brought against Daniel's friends, that they had refused to obey the king's command to do homage to this image.

Daniel 3:1

Nebuchadnezzar commanded a golden image to be erected, of threescore cubits in height and six cubits in breadth. צלם is properly an image in human likeness (cf. Daniel 2:31), and excludes the idea of a mere pillar or an obelisk, for which מצּבה would have been the appropriate word. Yet from the use of the word צלם it is not by any means to be concluded that the image was in all respects perfectly in human form. As to the upper part - the head, countenance, arms, breast - it may have been in the form of a man, and the lower part may have been formed like a pillar. This would be altogether in accordance with the Babylonian art, which delighted in grotesque, gigantic forms; cf. Hgstb. Beitr. i. p. 96f. The measure, in height threescore cubits, in breadth six cubits, is easily explained, since in the human figure the length is to be breadth in the proportion of about six to one. In the height of threescore cubits the pedestal of the image may be regarded as included, so that the whole image according to its principal component part (a potiori) was designated as צלם; although the passage Judges 18:30-31, adduced by Kran., where mention is made of the image alone which was erected by Micah, without any notice being taken of the pedestal belonging to it (cf. Judges 18:17 and Judges 18:18), furnishes no properly authentic proof that פּסל in Judges 18:30 and Judges 18:31 denotes the image with the pedestal. The proportion between the height and the breadth justifies, then, in no respect the rejection of the historical character of the narrative. Still less does the mass of gold necessary for the construction of so colossal an image, since, as has been already mentioned, according to the Hebrew modes of speech, we are not required to conceive of the figure as having been made of solid gold, and since, in the great riches of the ancient world, Nebuchadnezzar in his successful campaigns might certainly accumulate an astonishing amount of this precious metal. The statements of Herodotus and Diodorus regarding the Babylonian idol-images,

(Note: According to Herod. i. 183, for the great golden image of Belus, which was twelve cubits high, and the great golden table standing before it, the golden steps and the golden chair, only 800 talents of gold were used; and according to Diod. Sic. ii. 9, the golden statue, forty feet high, placed in the temple of Belus consisted of 1000 talents of gold, which would have been not far from sufficient if these objects had been formed of solid gold. Diod. also expressly says regarding the statue, that it was made with the hammer, and therefore was not solid. Cf. Hgstb. Beitr. i. p. 98, and Kran. in loco.)

as well as the description in Isaiah 40:19 of the construction of idol-images, lead us to think of the image as merely overlaid with plates of gold.

The king commanded this image to be set up in the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. The ancients make mention of two places of the name of Dura, the one at the mouth of the Chaboras where it empties itself into the Euphrates, not far from Carchemish (Polyb. v. 48; Ammian. Marc. xxiii. 5, 8, xxiv. 1, 5), the other beyond the Tigris, not far from Apollonia (Polyb. v. 52; Amm. Marc. xxv. 6, 9). Of these the latter has most probability in its favour, since the former certainly did not belong to the province of Babylon, which according to Xenophon extended 36 miles south of Tiphsach (cf. Nieb. Gesch. Assurs, S. 421). The latter, situated in the district of Sittakene, could certainly be reckoned as belonging to the province of Babylon, since according to Strabo, Sittakene, at least in the Old Parthian time, belonged to Babylon (Nieb. p. 420). But even this place lay quite too far from the capital of the kingdom to be the place intended. We must, without doubt, much rather seek for this plain in the neighbourhood of Babylon, where, according to the statement of Jul. Oppert (Expd. Scientif. en Msopotamie, i. p. 238ff.), there are at present to be found in the S.S.E. of the ruins representing the former capital a row of mounds which bear the name of Dura, at the end of which, along with two larger mounds, there is a smaller one which is named el Mokattat ( equals la colline aligne), which forms a square six metres high, with a basis of fourteen metres, wholly built en briques crues (Arab. lbn), which shows so surprising a resemblance to a colossal statue with its pedestal, that Oppert believes that this little mound is the remains of the golden statue erected by Nebuchadnezzar.

(Note: "On seeing this mound," Oppert remarks (l. c. p. 239), "one is immediately struck with the resemblance which it presents to the pedestal of a colossal statue, as, for example, that of Bavaria near Mnich, and everything leads to the belief that the statue mentioned in the book of Daniel (Daniel 3:1) was set up in this place. The fact of the erection by Nebuchadnezzar of a colossal statue has nothing which can cause astonishment, however recent may have been the Aramean form of the account of Scripture." Oppert, moreover, finds no difficulty in the size of the statue, but says regarding it: "There is nothing incredible in the existence of a statue sixty cubits high and six cubits broad; moreover the name of the plain of Dura, in the province (מדינה) of Babylon, agrees also with the actual conformation of the ruin.")

There is a difference of opinion as to the signification of this image. According to the common view (cf. e.g., Hgstb. Beitr. i. p. 97), Nebuchadnezzar wished to erect a statue as an expression of his thanks to his god Bel for his great victories, and on that account also to consecrate it with religious ceremonies. On the other hand, Hofm. (Weiss. u. Erf. i. p. 277) remarks, that the statue was not the image of a god, because a distinction is made between falling down to it and the service to his god which Nebuchadnezzar required (Daniel 3:12, Daniel 3:14, Daniel 3:18) from his officers of state. This distinction, however, is not well supported; for in these verses praying to the gods of Nebuchadnezzar is placed on an equality with falling down before the image. But on the other hand, the statue is not designated as the image of a god, or the image of Belus; therefore we agree with Klief. in his opinion, that the statue was a symbol of the world-power established by Nebuchadnezzar, so that falling down before it was a manifestation of reverence not only to the world-power, but also to its gods; and that therefore the Israelites could not fall down before the image, because in doing so they would have rendered homage at the same time also to the god or gods of Nebuchadnezzar, in the image of the world-power. But the idea of representing the world-power founded by him as a צלם was probably suggested to Nebuchadnezzar by the tselem seen (Daniel 2) by him in a dream, whose head of gold his world-kingdom was described to him as being. We may not, however, with Klief., seek any sanction for the idea that the significance off the image is in its size, 6, 10, and six multiplied by ten cubits, because the symbolical significance of the number 6 as the signature of human activity, to which the divine completion (7) is wanting, is not a Babylonian idea. Still less can we, with Z׬ndel (p. 13), explain the absence of Daniel on this occasion as arising from the political import of the statue, because the supposition of Daniel's not having been called to be present is a mere conjecture, and a very improbable conjecture; and the supposition that Daniel, as being chief of the Magi, would not be numbered among the secular officers of state, is decidedly erroneous.

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