The Image of Daniel Chapter 2
info This commentary was written by a volunteer for our Bible translation project. It’s not an official view of our project; we are not a religious denomination and we do not establish doctrine. These commentaries reflect a variety of views and some disagree with each other.
In Daniel chapter 2, we read of how King NebuChadnezzar of Babylon saw a huge image in a dream that had a head of gold, then a chest and shoulders of silver, followed by a belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron, and feet of iron and baked clay (pottery).
1. Babylon (gold)
DaniEl then explained that King NebuChadnezzar (or the world empire of Babylon that he founded) was the head of gold.
2. The Medes and Persians (silver)
DaniEl then explained that NubuChadnezzar’s kingdom (or empire) would be followed by a lesser king (the one of silver). This turned out to be the Persian Empire, along with their ally and close neighbor, the Medes.
3. Greece (brass)
DaniEl described the next empire (the one of brass) as one that would ‘dominate the whole earth.’ This aptly describes the empire of Greece under Alexander the Great.
4. Rome (iron)
The next ‘king’ or empire (the legs of iron) was described by him as being ‘as strong as iron. For as iron crushes and tames all things, it will tame and crush everything.’ This, of course, described Rome during and after the time of Julius Caesar.
5. The last king (iron and baked clay)
Which empire (or king) is represented by the feet of iron and baked clay? We know that it has to be the last empire, since the account says that it will be destroyed by God’s Kingdom, and that hasn’t happened yet.
There have been several world empires in the millennia since the time of Roman domination. However, the Bible only speaks of one empire after Rome. So, which would that be?
We gain a clue from the Greek Septuagint text of this prophecy. The Greek words used in verse 41 say (in part):
kai apo tes rizes tes sideras estai en on
and from the roots of/the iron is in it
From these word we could conclude that this ‘king’ is rooted in the Roman Empire. Therefore this could refer to Spain, Portugal, France, or England, for they all had deep Roman roots.
But which one?
There is another clue in the words of verses 42 and 43, which say:
‘And because the toes of the feet are part iron and part baked clay;
Part of the kingdom will be strong and part of it will be broken.
For as you saw the iron mixed with the baked clay, [this kingdom] will be mixed with the seed of men…
They won’t stick to each other, as iron won’t stick to baked clay.’
So this kingdom is to be ‘mixed with the seed of mankind.’ Does that mean it was to be made up of many races? If so, that well describes the vast British Empire and its many former colonies, such as the United States, Canada, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Nigeria, Australia, New Zealand, and so on. Since each of these former British colonies has claimed their independence, now they don’t ‘stick to each other.’
Indeed, one could extend this last ‘kingdom’ to all the nations of the modern world, as every country on earth is now under the cultural or economic dominance of the Western world headed by the United States of America and Great Britain.
The final clue is the fact that these governments are the last ones mentioned. So, if the prophecy in Daniel pictures them, then we might conclude that these nations will be present when God’s Kingdom will ‘hit the image on its feet of iron and baked clay and completely shatter them,’ bringing in the long-awaited ‘Kingdom of God’ with its king, Jesus the Anointed One.