“Now in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was so troubled that his sleep left him. Then the king gave the command to call the magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king. And the king said to them, ‘I have had a dream, and my spirit is anxious to know the dream.’ Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic, ‘O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will give the interpretation.’ But the king answered and said to the Chaldeans, ‘My decision is firm: if you do not make known the dream to me, and its interpretation, you shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made an ash heap. However, if you tell the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts, rewards, and great honor. Therefore tell me the dream and its interpretation.’ They answered again and said, ‘Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will give its interpretation.’ The king answered and said, ‘I know for certain that you would gain time, because you see that my decision is firm: if you do not make known the dream to me, there is only one decree for you! For you have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the time has changed. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can give me its interpretation.’ The Chaldeans answered the king, and said, ‘There is not a man on earth who can tell the king’s matter; therefore no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician, astrologer, or Chaldean. It is a difficult thing that the king requires, and there is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.’ For this reason the king was angry and very furious, and gave a command to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. So the decree went out, and they began killing the wise men; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them.” Daniel 2:1-13.
The Babylonian Empire under Nebuchadnezzar did not begin to take shape until another empire the Assyrian Empire began to crumble and finally fall apart in 607 B.C.
The weakening of Assyria had begun to occur long before this and Nebuchadnezzar’s father Nabopolassar actually seized the throne in Babylon in 625 B.C. some eighteen years earlier.
Destined to be the successor to the throne Nebuchadnezzar was made commander of the army and began to take Assyrian territory for Babylon.
Pharaoh Necho of Egypt had his own designs and proceeded to march northward in conquest of Palestine and Syria.
He continued to move northward and eastward to Carchemish, located on the border of Turkey and Syria on the west bank of the Euphrates River. Carchemish is also near ancient Haran and very far northeast of Jerusalem.
It was here at the battle of Carchemish that the pharaoh was defeated by Nebuchadnezzar in 605 B.C. and driven back to the border of Egypt.
Had it not been for the death of Nebuchadnezzar’s father Nabopolassar in August of 605 B.C. it is likely that Nebuchadnezzar would have pursued the Egyptian army into Egypt and defeated them at that time; instead he hurriedly returned to Babylon to take over the government.
There were three wars with Egypt, until finally on the third one in Nebuchadnezzar’s thirty-seventh year, Egypt was taken.
Jerusalem was invaded in 605 B.C. and Daniel and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were carried off to Babylon to serve in Nebuchadnezzar’s court.
It is estimated that Daniel was born about 625 B.C. and his three friends who were given the heathen names, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, are the ones who where thrown into the fiery furnace, Daniel chapter 3.
This is a rough background to bring us to the narrative which opened this study in, Daniel 2:1-13 wherein King Nebuchadnezzar has had a dream and not getting an answer has ordered the execution of all the wise men in Babylon.
By the grace of God, Daniel was able to petition the king for a little time to come up with an interpretation of the king’s dream (Daniel 2:1-2); having gained this, he returned to his three friends and they prayed for an answer.
“Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven.” Daniel 2:19.
“Daniel answered and said: ‘Blessed be the name of God [refers to YAHWEH] forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him. I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers; You have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of You, for You have made known to us the king’s demand.’” Daniel 2:20-23.
Daniel then petitioned Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard to take him into the presence of the king. Upon being questioned by the king, Daniel first gave God the glory.
“Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, ‘The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream, and the visions of your head upon your bed, were these…’” Daniel 2:27-28.
The prophet then described the dream as follows:
“You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” Daniel 2:31-35.
This epoch begins with the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar and runs through to the coming final government of the Antichrist, which will be destroyed by the stone cut without hands. This period of time is often referred to as the times of the Gentiles.
This is primarily so because Israel came under the thumb of Gentile governments; even today their sovereignty is under continual attack. This will become apparent as we watch Daniel interpret the king’s dream.
“You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all – you are this head of gold.” Daniel 2:37-38.
Just as the last world empire will be synonymous with the Antichrist, so Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian kingdom was synonymous with himself, for it did not last long after his demise; in all a period of about 66 years.
While the Babylonian Empire was very small compared to Antichrist’s domination of the entire globe, it was still a huge chunk of real estate for that day.
As an aside, while both of these rulers have absolute power, Nebuchadnezzar’s rule was comparatively benign compared to the cruelty of the Assyrian’s before him. The coming Antichrist’s mania for genocide would never have entered this man’s mind.
“But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours…” Daniel 2:39a.
The chest and arms of silver on this statue represents the Medes and the Persians who invaded Babylon on October 13, 539 B.C.
The city itself was 14 miles square with two outer walls reported to be 350 feet high and 87 feet thick. There were 250 watchtowers on these walls which rose another 100 feet, and the river Euphrates bisected the city by running under the walls.
Thinking themselves secure within the walls, the Babylonians became careless, even while under siege by the Medes and the Persians. They were so careless in fact that they were having a drunken feast as the invaders were entering the city.
“No king is saved by the multitude of an army; a mighty man is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a vain hope for safety; neither shall it deliver any by its great strength. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.” Psalm 33:16-20.
Soldiers were flooding in at the same time the famous hand writing on the wall was being interpreted by Daniel, see Daniel 5. The invasion was cleverly devised; they dug a channel and diverted the river allowing them to walk through the river’s passageway under the wall.
It was during the reign of the Medes and the Persians that Israel was allowed to return and rebuild Jerusalem, its walls and temple, see the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Haggai.
The Persian king Xerxes I (486-465 B.C.) is referred to as King Ahasuerus in the book of Esther.
It was his invasion of Greece and disastrous defeat at Salamis in 480 B.C. that created an abiding Greek hatred of the Persians and spurred the invasion by Alexander the Great more than a hundred years later.
There are historians who believe that a takeover of Greece by the Persians would have radically changed the face of western civilization, as a result they maintain that the naval battle of Salamis was one of the most important battles in history.
“…then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth.” Daniel 2:39b.
It was the Grecian kingdom led by Alexander the Great that was represented by the bronze belly and thighs. The marginal in my Bible has sides as an alternative to the word thighs. I believe that the phrase belly and sides is a better fit, for reasons which may become clear later on.
If the armies of the Medes and the Persians were ponderous and could be compared to a lumbering bear, so the armies of Alexander could be compared to blitzkrieg.
Often the Greeks would march all night to surprise another army that had stopped to rest. It was this ferocity and swiftness that finally brought defeat to the Persians in 331 B.C.
When I say ferocity, I mean that Alexander’s army of about 40 thousand met one half million Persians (Persian estimates vary widely) in the battle of Issus on November 5, 333 B. C. and put them all to flight.
So driven was he to conquer, that, his exhausted army refused to go any farther when they finally reached India.
The domination of the earth by the Greeks brought in the spread of Hellenism which was Alexander’s primary desire. It also made Greek what might be called lingua franca, the common language of the day, much as English is today.
The entire New Testament was written in Greek; and since the language was widely understood, the gospel was spread much more easily.
“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:26-28.
History’s Dead End, Daniel 2:1-39 taken from godisrevealed.com updated on 9-3-18, reposted on 2-14-22.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.