Daniel 2:32
This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass,
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(32) Breast . . .—It should be remarked that though many different parts of the body of the image are mentioned, Daniel regards the whole thing as made up of only four parts, each corresponding to one of the four metals. Similarly he shows the history of the world in its relation to God’s people, complicated though it may be and varied in its aspect, consists of no more than four principal parts. It will be noticed that by the additional matter mentioned Daniel 2:41-42, certain minor complications of history are intended, which, however, do not interfere with the fourfold division of which the outline is here given.

Daniel 2:32-33. This image’s head was of fine gold — The Babylonian monarchy had arrived to the height of glory under Nebuchadnezzar, (see Daniel 2:37-38,) who likewise improved and adorned the city of Babylon to such a degree as to make it one of the wonders of the world; so that this empire might justly be compared to a head of gold. His breast and his arms of silver — The second monarchy, of Medes and Persians, would be inferior to the first: see note on Daniel 2:39. His belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron — These emblems denoted the strength of the third and fourth monarchies, and the irresistible force with which they should subdue their adversaries. Iron and brass are the emblems of strength in the prophetical writings; and they were in other respects emblematical of these empires, as we shall see by and by. His feet part of iron and part of clay — By this was signified the Roman empire in its declining state, as will be shown presently.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.This image's head was of fine gold - Chaldee, "good gold" - טב דהב dehab ṭâb - that is, fine, pure, unalloyed. The whole head of the figure, colossal as it was, appeared to be composed wholly of this. Had the "whole" image been made of gold, it would not have been so striking - for it was not uncommon to construct vast statues of this metal. Compare Daniel 3:1. But the remarkable peculiarity of this image was, that it was composed of different materials, some of which were seldom or never used in such a structure, and all of which had a peculiar significancy. On the significancy of this part of the figure, and the resemblance between this head of gold and Nebuchadnezzar himself, see the notes at Daniel 2:37-38.

His breast and his arms of silver - The word rendered "breast" (חדין chădı̂y) is in the plural number, in accordance with common usage in the Hebrew, by which several members of the human body are often expressed in the plural; as פנים pânı̂ym - "faces," etc. There is a foundation for such a usage in nature, in the two-fold form of many of the portions of the human body. The portion of the body which is here represented is obviously the upper portion of the front part - what is prominently visible when we look at the human frame. Next to the head it is the most important part, as it embraces most of the vital organs. Some degree of inferiority, as well as the idea of succession, would be naturally represented by this. "The inferior value of silver as compared with gold will naturally suggest some degree of decline or degeneracy in the character of the subject represented by the metal; and so in other members, as we proceed downward, as the material becomes continually baser, we naturally infer that the subject deteriorates, in some sense, in the like manner." - Professor Bush, in loc. On the kingdom represented by this, and the propriety of this representation, see the notes at Daniel 2:39.

His belly and his thighs of brass - Margin, "sides." It is not necessary to enter minutely into an examination of the words here used. The word "belly" denotes, unquestionably, the regions of the abdomen as externally visible. The word rendered "thighs" in the text is rendered "sides" in the margin. It is, like the word "breast" in the previous verse, in the plural number and for the same reason. The Hebrew word (ירך yârêk) is commonly rendered "thigh" in the Scriptures (Genesis 24:2, Genesis 24:9; Genesis 32:25 (26), 31, 32(32, 33), et al.), though it is also frequently rendered "side," Exodus 32:27; Exodus 40:22, Exodus 40:24; Leviticus 1:11; Numbers 3:29, et al. According to Gesenius, it denotes "the thick and double fleshy member which commences at the bottom of the spine, and extends to the lower legs." It is that part on which the sword was formerly worn, Exodus 32:27; Judges 3:16, Judges 3:21; Psalm 45:3 (4). It is also that part which was smitten, as an expression of mourning or of indignation, Jeremiah 31:19; Ezekiel 21:12 (17). Compare Hom. Iliad xii. 162, xv. 397; Odyssey xiii. 198; Cic. 150: "Orat." 80; "Quinc." xi. 3. It is not improperly here rendered "thighs," and the portion of the figure that was of brass was that between the breast and the lower legs, or extended from the breast to the knees. The word is elsewhere employed to denote the shaft or main trunk of the golden candlestick of the tabernacle, Exodus 25:31; Exodus 37:17; Numbers 8:4.

Of brass - An inferior metal, and denoting a kingdom of inferior power or excellence. On the kingdom represented by this, see the notes at Daniel 2:39.

32. On ancient coins states are often represented by human figures. The head and higher parts signify the earlier times; the lower, the later times. The metals become successively baser and baser, implying the growing degeneracy from worse to worse. Hesiod, two hundred years before Daniel, had compared the four ages to the four metals in the same order; the idea is sanctioned here by Holy Writ. It was perhaps one of those fragments of revelation among the heathen derived from the tradition as to the fall of man. The metals lessen in specific gravity, as they downwards; silver is not so heavy as gold, brass not so heavy as silver, and iron not so heavy as brass, the weight thus being arranged in the reverse of stability [Tregelles]. Nebuchadnezzar derived his authority from God, not from man, nor as responsible to man. But the Persian king was so far dependent on others that he could not deliver Daniel from the princes (Da 6:14, 15); contrast Da 5:18, 19, as to Nebuchadnezzar's power from God, "whom he would he slew, and whom he would he kept alive" (compare Ezr 7:14; Es 1:13-16). Græco-Macedonia betrays its deterioration in its divisions, not united as Babylon and Persia. Iron is stronger than brass, but inferior in other respects; so Rome hardy and strong to tread down the nations, but less kingly and showing its chief deterioration in its last state. Each successive kingdom incorporates its predecessor (compare Da 5:28). Power that in Nebuchadnezzar's hands was a God-derived (Da 2:37, 38) autocracy, in the Persian king's was a rule resting on his nobility of person and birth, the nobles being his equals in rank, but not in office; in Greece, an aristocracy not of birth, but individual influence, in Rome, lowest of all, dependent entirely on popular choice, the emperor being appointed by popular military election. No text from Poole on this verse. This image's head was of fine gold,.... The prophet begins with the superior part of this image, and descends to the lower, because of the order and condition of the monarchies it represents: this signifies the Babylonian monarchy, as afterwards explained; called the "head", being the first and chief of the monarchies; and compared to "fine gold", because of the glory, excellency, and duration of it:

his breast and his arms of silver; its two arms, including its hands and its breast, to which they were joined, were of silver, a metal of less value than gold; designing the monarchy of the Medes and Persians, which are the two arms, and which centred in Cyrus, who was by his father a Persian, by his mother a Mede; and upon whom, after his uncle's death, the whole monarchy devolved:

his belly and his thighs of brass; a baser metal still; this points at the Macedonian or Grecian monarchy, set up by Alexander, signified by the "belly", for intemperance and luxury; as the two "thighs" denote his principal successors, the Selucidae and Lagidae, the Syrian and Egyptian kings; and these of brass, because of the sounding fame of them, as Jerom.

This image's head was of fine {q} gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass,

(q) By gold, silver, brass, and iron are meant the Chaldean, Persian, Macedonian, and Roman kingdoms, which would successively rule all the world until Christ (who is here called the stone) himself comes, and destroys the last. And this was to assure the Jews that their affliction would not end with the empire of the Chaldeans, but that they should patiently await the coming of the Messiah, who would be at the end of this fourth monarchy.

32. This image’s head was, &c.] more forcibly, and also in better agreement with the original, As for that image, its head was, &c.

brass] i.e. copper (or bronze): see Wright’s Bible Word-book.

32, 33. The head of the image was of gold; but its substance deteriorated more and more until the feet were reached, which were of mingled iron and clay.Verses 32, 33. - This image's head was of fine gold, his breasts and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. The versions present no occasion of r,-mark, save that Theodotion has a doublet, a; χεῖρες, translating, "the hands, the breast, and the arms." The word rendered "fine" is really "good" (טָב, tab). Naturally, there have not been preserved to us any composite images of this kind; gold and silver would certainly soon have found their way to the melting-pot after the fall of the Babylonian empire, had such a statue been erected in Babylon. Brass and iron were too precious not to follow in the same road. Among the Greeks, as we know, there were what were called "chryselephantine" statues, partly gold and partly ivory. In the description given of the Temple of Belus, we see a succession something akin to that in the statue, but it may be doubted whether we may deduce any connection between the two on that account. In the Book of Enoch the apocalyptist sees mountains of different kinds of metal - of gold, silver, brass, iron, tin, and mercury, the first four coinciding with the metals in Daniel's vision. Ewald refers in a note to the possibility that this idea might be borrowed from Hesiod, but rightly dismisses it as improbable. As to the metals used, gold and silver were well known in ancient times, as also iron, though, from the difficulty of working it, later. What is here translated "brass" ought to be rendered "copper;" "bronze" certainly was known very early, but the whole use of the word, נְחָשׁ (Aramaic), or נְחשֶׁת (Hebrew), implies that it is a simple metal; thus Deuteronomy 8:9, "Out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass" (Hebrew, נְחשֶׁת; Onkelos, נְחָשָׁא). In this statue the progressive degradation of the material and situation is to be observed. The head, the highest part, gold; the shoulders, lower, silver; the belly and thighs, lower still, brass; the legs, lower yet, iron; and the feet and toes, lowest of all, a mixture of iron and clay. It is observed by Kliefoth that there is further a growing division. The head is one, without any appearance of division; the portion consisting of the breast and arms is divided, though slightly, for the chest is more important and bulky than the arms; the belly and thighs form a portion which from the plural form given to the word translated "belly," מעוהי (m'ohi), suggests more of dividedness than does that above. The lowest portion, that forming the legs and toes, has the greatest amount of division. Kliefoth also refers to another point - that while there is a progressive degradation of the metal, there is also progression in degrees of hardness, silver being harder than gold, copper harder than silver, and iron hardest of all; then suddenly the iron is mingled with clay. There is not a new, softer material added to form a new fifth part; but there is a mingling of "clay " - clay suitable for the potter, or rather that has already been baked in the kiln, and therefore in the last degree brittle. In fact, there is a progress in frangibility - gold the most ductile of metals, and iron the least so, then clay, when baked, more brittle still. There are many other successions that might be followed, which are at least ingenious. The idea suggested by the phrase, "part of iron and part of clay," is that there was not a complete mingling, but that portions were seen that were clearly clay, and other portions as clearly still iron; there was therefore the superadded notion of the imperfect union of the parts with the necessary additional weakness which follows. On the Right of the Prince to Dispose of his Landed Property

Ezekiel 46:16. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, If the prince gives a present to one of his sons, it is his inheritance, shall belong to his sons; it is their possession, in an hereditary way. Ezekiel 46:17. But if he gives a present from his inheritance to one of his servants, it shall belong to him till the year of liberty, and then return to the prince; to his sons alone shall his inheritance remain. Ezekiel 46:18. And the prince shall not take from the inheritance of the people, so as to thrust them out of their possession; from his own possession he shall transmit to his sons, that no one of my people be scattered from his possession. - According to Ezekiel 45:7-8, at the future division of the land among the tribes, a possession was to be given to the prince on both sides of the holy heave and of the city domain, that he might not seize upon a possession by force, as the former princes had done. The prince might give away portions of this royal property, but only within such limits that the design with which a regal possession had been granted might not be frustrated. To his sons, as his heirs, he might make gifts therefrom, which would remain their own property; but if he presented to any one of his servants a portion of his hereditary property, it was to revert to the prince in the year of liberty; just as, according to the Mosaic law, the hereditary field of an Israelite, which had been alienated, was to revert to its hereditary owner (Leviticus 27:24, compared with Leviticus 25:10-13). The suffix in נחלתו (Ezekiel 46:16) is not to be taken as referring to the prince, and connected with the preceding words in opposition to the accents, but refers to אישׁ מבּניו. What the prince gives to one of his sons from his landed property shall be his נחלה, i.e., after the manner of an hereditary possession. On the other hand, what the prince presents to one of his servants shall not become hereditary in his case, but shall revert to the prince in the year of liberty, or the year of jubilee. The second half of Ezekiel 46:17 reads verbally thus: "only his inheritance is it; as for his sons, it shall belong to them." - And as the prince was not to break up his regal possession by presents made to servants, so was he (Ezekiel 46:18) also not to put any one out of his possession by force, for the purpose, say, of procuring property for his own sons; but was to give his sons their inheritance from his own property alone. For הונה, compare Ezekiel 45:8, and such passages as 1 Samuel 8:14; 1 Samuel 22:7. We shall return by and by to the question, how this regulation stands related to the view that the prince is the Messiah.

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