on Daniel 2 :39
on Daniel 2 :39
And after thee - This must mean "subsequently" to the reign, but it does not mean that the kingdom here referred to would "immediately" succeed his own reign, for that would not be true. The Medo-Persian empire did not come into the ascendency until many years after the death of Nebuchadnezzar. This occurred during the reign of Belshazzar, a grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, between whose reign and that of his grandfather there had intervened the reigns of Evil-merodach and Neriglissar; besides, as the remainder of the prophecy relating to the image refers to "kingdoms," and not to individual monarchs, it is clear that this also relates not primarily to Nebuchadnezzar as an individual, but as the head of a kingdom. The meaning is, that a kingdom would succeed that over which he reigned, so far inferior that it might be represented by silver as compared with gold.
Shall arise another kingdom - Chaldee, "shall stand up (תקוּם teqûm) another kingdom." This is language which would denote something different from a succession in the same dynasty, for that would be a mere "continuance of the same kingdom." The reference is evidently to a change of empire; and the language implies that there would be some revolution or conquest by which the existing kingdom would pass away, and another would succeed. Still there would be so much of sameness in respect to its occupying essentially the same territory, that it would be symbolized in the same image that appeared to Nebuchadnezzar. The kingdom here referred to was undoubtedly the Medo-Persian, established by Cyrus in the conquest of Babylon, which continued through the reigns of his successors until it was conquered by Alexander the Great. This kingdom succeeded that of Assyria or Babylon, 538 years b.c., to the overthrow of Darius Codomanus, 333 years b.c. It extended, of course, through the reigns of the Persian kings, who acted so important a part in the invasion of Greece, and whose defeats have given immortality to the names of Leonidas, Aristides, Miltiades, and Themistocles, and made the names of Salamis, Thermopylae, Marathon, and Leuctra so celebrated. For a general account of Cyrus, and the founding of the Medo-Persian empire, the reader is referred to the notes at Isaiah 41:2.
Inferior to thee - And therefore represented by silver as compared with gold. In what respects it would be inferior, Daniel does not specify, and this can only be learned from "the facts" which occurred in relation to that kingdom. All that is necessary to confirm the truth of the prophetic description is, that it was to be so far inferior as to make the appellation "silver" applicable to it in comparison with the kingdom of Babylon, represented by "gold." The expression would denote that there was a general decline or degeneracy in the character of the monarchs, and the general condition of the empire. There have been different opinions as to the inferiority of this kingdom to the Babylonian. Calvin supposes that it refers to degeneracy. Geir supposes that it relates to the duration of the kingdom - this continuing not more than two hundred and forty years; while the other, including the Assyrian, embraced a period of one thousand five hundred years. Polanus supposes that the meaning is, that the Babylonian had more rest and tranquility; while Junius, Willett, and others understand it of a milder and more humane treatment of the Jews by the Babylonians than the Persians. Perhaps, however, none of these opinions meet the circumstances of the case, for they de not furnish as full an account of the reasons of this inferiority as is desirable. In regard to this, it may be observed,
(a) that it is not to be supposed that this kingdom was to be in "all respects" inferior to the Babylonian, but only that it would have certain characteristics which would make it more appropriate to describe it as "silver" than as "gold." In certain other respects it might be far superior, as the Roman, though in the same general line of succession, was in extent and power superior to either, though there was still a reason why that should be represented by "iron," rather than by gold, by silver, or by brass.
(b) The inferiority did not relate to the power, the riches, or the territorial extent of the Medo-Persian empire, for it embraced, so far as appears, all that was comprehended in the Babylonian empire, and all in addition which was added by the conquests of Cyrus. In his proclamation to rebuild the temple Ezra 1:2, Cyrus speaks of the extent of his empire in language strongly resembling what is applied to the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar. "Thus saith Cyrus, king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth." Thus also it is said of AhaAhasuerus or Astyages, king of Media - a kingdom that constituted a part of the Medo-Persian empire under Cyrus and his successors, that he "reigned from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and twenty and seven provinces." To the kingdom of Babylon, as he found it when he conquered it, Cyrus of course added the kingdoms of Media and Persia, to the crowns of which he was the heir (see the notes at Isaiah 41:2), and also the various provinces which he had conquered before he came to the throne; that is, Cappadocia, the kingdom of Lydia, and almost the whole of Asia Minor.
(c) Nor can it be supposed that the kingdom was inferior in regard to "wealth," for, in addition to all the wealth that Cyrus found in Babylon, he brought the spoils of his victories; the treasures in the possession of the crowns of Persia and Media, and all the wealth of Croesus, the rich king of Lydia, of which he had become possessor by conquest. In considering the "inferiority" of this kingdom, which made it proper that it should be represented by silver rather than by gold, it is to be borne in mind that the representation should embrace "the whole kingdom" in all the successive reigns, and not merely the kingdom as it was under the administration of Cyrus. Thus regarded, it will comprehend the succession of Persian monarchs until the time of the invasion and conquest of the East by Alexander the Great. The reign of Cyrus was indeed splendid; and if "he" alone, or if the kingdom during his administration, were contemplated, it would be difficult to assign a reason why an appellation should have been given to it implying any inferiority to that of Nebuchadnezzar. The "inferiority" of the kingdom, or what made it proper to represent it by silver rather than by gold, as compared with the kingdom of Babylon, may have consisted in the following particulars:
(1) In reference to the succession of kings who occupied the Persian throne. It is true that the character of Cyrus is worthy of the highest commendation, and that he was distinguished not only as a brave and successful conqueror, but as a mild, able, and upright civil ruler. Xenophon, who wished to draw the character of a model prince, made choice of Cyrus as the example; and though he has not improbably embellished his character by ascribing to him virtues drawn from his own fancy in some degree, yet there can be no doubt that in the main his description was drawn from the life. "The true reason," says Prideaux ("Connections," vol. i. p. 252, Ed. Charlestown, 1815), "why he chose the life of Cyrus before all others for the purpose above mentioned" (that of giving a description of what a worthy and just prince ought to be) "seemeth to be no other but that he found the true history of that excellent and gallant prince to be, above all others, the fittest for those maxims of right policy and true princely virtue to correspond with, which he grafted upon it." But he was succeeded by a madman, Cambyses, and by a race of kings eminent among princes for folly and crime. "The kings of Persia," says Prideaux, "were the worst race of men that ever governed an empire."
(2) The kingdom was inferior in reference to the remarkable "defeats" in the military campaigns which were undertaken. The Assyrian or Babylonian empire was distinguished for the victories by which it carried its arms around the then known world. The Medo-Persian empire, after the reign of Cyrus, was almost as remarkable for the succession of defeats which have made the period of the world during which the empire continued, so well known in history. It is probable that no kingdom ever undertook so many foolish projects in reference to the conquests of other nations - projects so unwisely planned, and that resulted in so signal failures. The successor of Cyrus, Cambyses, invaded Egypt, and his conduct there in carrying on the war was such as to make him be regarded as a madman. Enraged against the Ethiopians for an answer which they gave him when, under pretence of friendship, he sent spies to examine their country, he resolved to invade their territory.
Having come to Thebes, in Upper Egypt, he detached from his army fifty thousand men to go against the Hammonians, with orders to destroy their country, and to burn the temple of Jupiter Hammon that stood in it. After marching a few days in the desert, they were overwhelmed in the sands by a strong south wind, and all perished. Meantime Cambyses marched with the rest of his army against the Ethiopians, though he wanted all the means of subsistence for his army, until, having devoured all their beasts of burden, they were constrained to designate every tenth man of the army to be killed and eaten. In these deplorable circumstances, Cambyses returned to Thebes, having lost a great part of his army in this wild expedition. - Prideaux's "Con." i. 328. It was also during the continuance of this kingdom, that the ill-starred expeditions to Greece occurred, when Mardonius and Xerxes poured the million of Asia on the countries of Greece, and met such signal overthrows at Platea, Marathon, and Salamis. Such a series of disasters never before had occurred to invading armies, or made those who repelled invasion so illustrious. In this respect there was an evident propriety in speaking of this as an inferior or degenerate kingdom.
(3) It was inferior in respect to the growing degeneracy and effeminacy of character and morals. From the time of Xerxes (479 b.c.) "symptoms of decay and corruption were manifest in the empire; the national character gradually degenerated; the citizens were corrupted and enfeebled by luxury; and confided more in mercenary troops than in native valor and fidelity. The kings submitted to the control of their wives, or the creatures whom they raised to posts of distinction; and the satraps, from being civil functionaries, began to usurp military authority." - Lyman, "Hist. Chart."
(4) The kingdom was inferior by the gradual weakening of its power from internal causes. It was not only defeated in its attempts to invade others, and weakened by the degeneracy of the court and people, but, as a natural consequence, by the gradual lessening of the power of the central government, and the growing independence of the provinces. From the time of Darius Nothus (423 b.c.) - a weak, effeminate, and indolent prince - "the satraps of the distant provinces paid only a nominal obedience to the king. Many of them were, in fact, sovereigns over the countries over which they presided, and carried on wars against each other." - Lyman. It was from causes such as these that the power of the kingdom became gradually weakened, and that the way was prepared for the easy conquests of Alexander the Great. Their successive defeats, and this gradual degeneracy and weakening of the kingdom, show the propriety of the description given of the kingdom in the vision and the interpretation - that it would be an "inferior kingdom," a kingdom which, in comparison with that of Babylon, might be compared with silver as compared with gold.
Still it sustained an important relation to the progress of events in regard to the history of religion in the world, and had an important bearing on the redemption of man. As this is the most important bearing of history, and as it was doubtless with reference to this that the mention of it is introduced into the sacred Scriptures, and as it is, in fact, often alluded to by Isaiah, and in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, and some of the minor prophets, it may be proper, in the most summary way, to alude to some of those things which pertain to the bearing of this kingdom on the great events connected with redemption, or to what was done during the continuance of this kingdom for the promotion of the true religion. A full account may be found in Prideaux's "Connections," part 1, books iii-vii. Compare Edwards' "History of Redemption," Period I, part vi. The particular things which occurred in connection with this kingdom bearing on the progress of religion, and favorable to its advancement, were these:
(a) The overthrow of Babylon, so long the formidable enemy of the ancient people of God.
(b) The restoration of the exiles to their own land under the auspices of Cyrus, Ezra 1:1.
on Daniel 2 :39
2:39 Another kingdom - This was that of the Medes and Persians, inferior in time for it lasted not half so long as the Assyrian in prosperity and tranquillity; yet, was this wonderful, rich and large for a time. Third kingdom - This was the Grecian monarchy under Alexander the great, called brass, because coarser than the other. Over all the earth - Alexander marched even to the Indies, and was said to conquer the world.