Daniel 2:33
His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
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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.His legs of iron - The portion of the lower limbs from the knees to the ankles. This is undoubtedly the usual meaning of the English word "legs," and it as clearly appears to be the sense of the original word here. Iron was regarded as inferior to either of the other metals specified, and yet was well adapted to denote a kingdom of a particular kind - less noble in some respects, and yet hardy, powerful, and adapted to tread down the world by conquest. On the application of this, see the notes at Daniel 2:40.

His feet part of iron and part of clay - As to his feet; or in respect to his feet, they were partly of iron and partly of clay - a mixture denoting great strength, united with what is fragile and weak. The word rendered "clay" in this place (חסף chăsaph) is found nowhere else except in this chapter, and is always rendered "clay," Daniel 2:33-35, Daniel 2:41 (twice), 42, 43 (twice), 45. In some instances Daniel 2:41, Daniel 2:43, the epithet "miry" is applied to it. This would seem to imply that it was not "burnt or baked clay," or "earthenware," as Professor Bush supposes, but clay in its natural state. The idea would seem to be, that the framework, so to speak, was iron, with clay worked in, or filling up the interstices, so as to furnish an image of strength combined with what is weak. That it would be well adapted represent a kingdom that had many elements of permanency in it, yet that was combined with things that made it weak - a mixture of what was powerful with what was liable to be crushed; capable of putting forth great efforts, and of sustaining great shocks, and yet having such elements of feebleness and decay as to make it liable to be overthrown. For the application of this, see the notes at Daniel 2:41-43.

33. As the two arms of silver denote the kings of the Medes and Persians [Josephus]; and the two thighs of brass the Seleucidæ of Syria and Lagidæ of Egypt, the two leading sections into which Græco-Macedonia parted, so the two legs of iron signify the two Roman consuls [Newton]. The clay, in Da 2:41, "potter's clay," Da 2:43, "miry clay," means "earthenware," hard but brittle (compare Ps 2:9; Re 2:27, where the same image is used of the same event); the feet are stable while bearing only direct pressure, but easily broken to pieces by a blow (Da 2:34), the iron intermixed not retarding, but hastening, such a result. By this we see the world is much worse and far declined, every age degenerating from what it was of old; as the poets, which borrowed their fancy from this image, have described the ages of the world from metals; the first was golden, and so, coming on coarser, it ended at last, as this image in the text, in dirt.

His legs of iron,.... A coarser metal than the former, but very strong; and designs the strong and potent monarchy of the Romans, the last of the four monarchies, governed chiefly by two consuls: and was divided, in the times of Theodosius, into the eastern and western empire, which may be signified by the two legs:

his feet part of iron and part of clay (b); or some "of them of iron, and some of them of clay" that is, the ten toes of the feet, which represent the ten kingdoms the western empire was divided into, some of which were potent, others weak; for this cannot be understood of the same feet and toes being a mixture, composed partly of one, and partly of the other; since iron and clay will not mix together, Daniel 2:43 and will not agree with the form of expression. Jerom interprets this part of the vision of the image to the same sense, who lived about the time when it was fulfilling; for in his days was the irruption of the barbarous nations into the empire; who often speaks of them in his writings (c), and of the Roman empire being in a weak and ruinous condition on the account of them. His comment on this text is this,

"the fourth kingdom, which clearly belongs to the Romans, is the iron that breaks and subdues all things; but his feet and toes are partly iron, and partly clay, which is most manifestly verified at this time; for as in the beginning nothing was stronger and harder than the Roman empire, so in the end of things nothing weaker; when both in civil wars, and against divers nations, we stand in need of the help of other barbarous people.''

And whereas he had been blamed for giving this sense of the passage, he vindicates himself elsewhere by saying (d),

"if, in the exposition of the image, and the difference of its feet and toes, I interpret the iron and clay of the Roman kingdom, which the Scripture foreshows should be first and then weak, let them not impute, it to me, but to the prophet; for so we must not flatter princes, as that the truth of the holy Scriptures should be neglected; nor is the general disputation of one person an injury;''

that is, of any great moment to the government.

(b) "ex illis quidam ex ferro, et excillis quidam ex luto", Gejerus. (c) Opera, tom. 1. in Epitaph. Nepotian. fol. 9. I. ad Gerontiam, fol 32. E. & in Epitaph. Fabiolae, fol. 68. H. (d) Prooem. in Comment. in Esaiam. I. 11. fol. 65.

His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
Daniel 2:33The description of the image according to its several parts is introduced with the absolute צלמא הוּא, concerning this image, not: "this was the image." The pronoun הוּא is made prominent, as דּנה, Daniel 4:15, and the Hebr. זה more frequently, e.g., Isaiah 23:13. חדוהי, plural חדין - its singular occurs only in the Targums - corresponding with the Hebr. חזה, the breast. מצין, the bowels, here the abdomen enclosing the bowels, the belly. ירכה, the thighs (hfte) and upper part of the loins. Daniel 2:33. שׁק, the leg, including the upper part of the thigh. מנהון is partitive: part of it of iron. Instead of מנהון the Keri prefers the fem. מנהן here and at Daniel 2:41 and Daniel 2:42, with reference to this, that רגליו is usually the gen. fem., after the custom of nouns denoting members of the body that are double. The Kethiv unconditionally deserves the preference, although, as the apparently anomalous form, which appears with this suffix also in Daniel 7:8, Daniel 7:20, after substantives of seemingly feminine meaning, where the choice of the masculine form is to be explained from the undefined conception of the subjective idea apart from the sex; cf. Ewald's Lehr. d. hebr. Sp. 319.

The image appears divided as to its material into four or five parts - the head, the breast with the arms, the belly with the thighs, and the legs and feet. "Only the first part, the head, constitutes in itself a united whole; the second, with the arms, represents a division; the third runs into a division in the thighs; the fourth, bound into one at the top, divides itself in the two legs, but has also the power of moving in itself; the fifth is from the first divided in the legs, and finally in the ten toes runs out into a wider division. The material becomes inferior from the head downward - gold, silver, copper, iron, clay; so that, though on the whole metallic, it becomes inferior, and finally terminates in clay, losing itself in common earthly matter. Notwithstanding that the material becomes always the harder, till it is iron, yet then suddenly and at last it becomes weak and brittle clay." - Klief. The fourth and fifth parts, the legs and the feet, are, it is true, externally separate from each other, but inwardly, through the unity of the material, iron, are bound together; so that we are to reckon only four parts, as afterwards is done in the interpretation. This image Nebuchadnezzar was contemplating (Daniel 2:34), i.e., reflected upon with a look directed toward it, until a stone moved without human hands broke loose from a mountain, struck against the lowest part of the image, broke the whole of it into pieces, and ground to powder all its material from the head even to the feet, so that it was scattered like chaff of the summer thrashing-floor. בידין לא דּי does not mean: "which was not in the hands of any one" (Klief.), but the words are a prepositional expression for without; ב לא, not with equals without, and דּי expressing the dependence of the word on the foregoing noun. Without hands, without human help, is a litotes for: by a higher, a divine providence; cf. Daniel 8:25; Job 34:20; Lamentations 4:6. כּחדה, as one equals at once, with one stroke. דּקוּ for דּקּוּ is not intransitive or passive, but with an indefinite plur. subject: they crushed, referring to the supernatural power by which the crushing was effected. The destruction of the statue is so described, that the image passes over into the matter of it. It is not said of the parts of the image, the head, the breast, the belly, and the thighs, that they were broken to pieces by the stone, "for the forms of the world-power represented by these parts had long ago passed away, when the stone strikes against the last form of the world-power represented by the feet," but only of the materials of which these parts consist, the silver and the gold, is the destruction replicated; "for the material, the combinations of the peoples, of which these earlier forms of the world-power consist, pass into the later forms of it, and thus are all destroyed when the stone destroys the last form of the world-power" (Klief.). But the stone which brought this destruction itself became a great mountain which filled the whole earth. To this Daniel added the interpretation which he announces in Daniel 2:36. נאמר, we will tell, is "a generalizing form of expression" (Kran.) in harmony with Daniel 2:30. Daniel associates himself with his companions in the faith, who worshipped the same God of revelation; cf. Daniel 2:23.

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