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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Daniel 2:39

"After you there will arise another kingdom inferior to you, then another third kingdom of bronze, which will rule over all the earth.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

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.

(c) The rebuilding of the temple under the same auspices, and with the favor of the successors of Cyrus.

(d) The preparation of the world for the coming of the Messiah, in the agitations that took place during the continuance of the Persian monarchy; the invasion of Greece; the defeats there; the preparation by these defeats for the coming of Him who was so long promised as the “desire of all nations.”

Compare Haggai 2:7: “And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come; and I will fill this house” (the temple erected under the auspices of Cyrus and his successors) “with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.” There was a propriety, therefore, that this kingdom should receive a distinct notice in the sacred Scriptures, for some of the most important events connected with the history of true religion in the world occurred under the auspices of Cyrus and his successors, and perhaps at no period has there been more occasion to recognize the hand of God than in the influences exerted on the minds of those pagan princes, disposing them to be favorable to the long-oppressed children of God.

And another third kingdom of brass - See the notes at Daniel 2:32. The parts of the image which were of brass were the belly and thighs, denoting inferiority not only to the head, but to the part which immediately preceded it - the breast and the arms of silver. It is not, indeed, specified, as in the former case, that this kingdom would be inferior to the former, and it is only from the position assigned to it in the image, and the inferior quality of the metal by which it is represented, that it is implied that there would be any inferiority. There can be no reasonable doubt that by this third kingdom is denoted the empire founded by Alexander the Great - the Macedonian empire. It is known to all that he overthrew the Persian empire, and established a kingdom in the East, embracng substantially the same territory which had been occupied by the Medo-Persian and the Babylonian empire. While there can be no doubt that that kingdom is referred to, there can be as little that the reference is not merely to the empire during the reign of Alexander himself, but that it embraced the whole empire as founded and arranged by him, until it was succeeded by another universal empire - here denominated the fourth kingdom. The reasons for supposing that the Macedonian empire is referred to here are almost too obvious to require that they should be specified. They are such as these:

(1) This kingdom actually succeeded that of Mede-Persia, covering the same territory, and, like that, was then understood to be a universal monarchy.

(2) The empire of Alexander is elsewhere more than once referred to by Daniel in the same order, and in such a manner that the sense cannot be mistaken. Thus, in Daniel 8:21: “And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.” Daniel 10:20: “and now,” said the man that appeared in vision to Daniel Daniel 2:5, “will I retram to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come.” Daniel 11:2-4: “and now will I show thee the truth. Behold there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all, and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia. And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to the kingdom that he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those.” Since this kingdom is thus referred to elsewhere by Daniel in the same order, and as destined to act an important part in the affairs of the world, it is reasonable to suppose that there is a reference to it here.

(3) It is a circumstance of some importance that the emblem here by which this kingdom is represented, “brass,” is one that is peculiarly appropriate to the Greeks, and one that could not be applied to any other naion with equal propriety. The Greeks were distinguished for their “brazen armor,” and the appellation, the “brazen-coated Greeks” - χαλκοχιτώνες Ἀχαιοὶ chalkochitōnes Achaioi - is that by which they were designated most commonly by the ancients. - Iliad i. 371; ii. 47; Odyssey i. 286. In accordance with this, Josephus says (“Ant.” b. x. c. 10, Section 4), τὴν δὲ ἐκεὶνων ἕτερος τις ἀπὸ δύσεως καθαιρήσει χαλκὸν ἠμφιεσμένος tēn de ekeinōn heteros tis apo duseōs kathairēsei chalkon ēmphiesmenos - “their empire another shall come from the West, clothed with brass, shall destroy.” These considerations leave no doubt that the kingdom here referred to was that Grecian or Macedonian, which, under Alexander, obtained dominion over all the East.

Which shall bear rule over all the earth - In a sense similar to that of the Assyrian, the Babylonian, and the Medo-Persian empire. This is the common description of the empire of Alexander. He himself commanded that he should be called “the king of all the world.” “Accepto deinde imperio, regem se terrarum omnium ac mundi appellari jussit ” (Justin. l. 12, c. 16, Section 9) - “Having received the empire, he ordered himself to be called the king of all lands and of the world.” Diodorus Siculus says that he received ambassadors from all countries; κατὰ δὲ τοῦτον τὸν χρόνον ἐξ ἀπάσης σχεδόν τῆς οἰκουμένης ἦκον πρέσβεις, κ.τ.λ. kata de touton ton chronon ex apasē schedon tēs oikoumenēs ēkon presbeis etc - “At which time, legates came to him from almost the whole habitable world.” - L. 17, c. 113. So Arrian (Expedi. Alex. l. 7, c. 15) remarks, that “Alexander then appeared to himself, and to those around him, “to be lord of all the earth and of the sea” - γῆς τε ἁπάσης καὶ θαλάσσης κύριον gēs te hapasēs kai thalassēs kurion author of the book of Maccabees gives a similar account of the extent of this kingdom: “And it came to pass, after that Alexander, the son of Philip the Macedonian, who first reigned in Greece, had overthrown Darius, the king of the Persian and Medes, he fought many battles, and took the strongholds of all, and slew the kings of the earth; and he went through even to the ends of the earth; and took the spoil of many nations; and the earth was quiet before him,” Daniel 8:21, by the rough goat - continued from the overthrow of Darius Codomanus by Alexander (333 b.c.), to the conquest of Syria, and the East, by the Romans under Pompey, about sixty-six years before the birth of the Saviour. The principal events during this period affecting the interests of religion, and preparing the way for the coming of the Messiah, were the following:

I. The extensive diffusion of the knowledge of the Greek language. The army of Alexander was mainly composed of Greeks. The Greek language was, of course, what was spoken by the court, and in the cities which he founded; the despatches were in Greek; that language would be extensively cultivated to gratify those in power; and the successors of Alexander were those who used the Greek tongue. The consequence was, that the Greek language was extensively spread over the countries which were subdued by Alexander, and which were governed by his successors. That language became the popular tongue; a sort of universal language understood by the great mass of the people, in a manner not unlike the French in Europe at the present day. The effect of this, in preparing for the introduction of the gospel, was seen in two respects:

(a) In facilitating the “preaching” of the gospel. It is true that the apostles had the gift of tongues, and that there was, notwithstanding the prevalence of the Greek language, occasion for this. But there is no evidence that this was conferred on “all” the early preachers of the gospel, nor is it certain that those on whom it “was” conferred were able to make use of it on all occasions. It is not improbable that, in their ordinary labors, the apostles and others were left to rely on their natural endowments, and to use the language to which they had been most accustomed. As there was, therefore, a common language in most of the countries in which the gospel would be proclaimed, it is evident that the propagation of religion would be greatly facilitated by this, and there can be no doubt that it was “one” of the designs of Providence in permitting the Macedonian conquest thus to prepare the way for the more easy and rapid diffusion of the new religion.

(b) In like manner, this conquest prepared the way “for the permanent record” of the history of the Saviour‘s life, and the doctrines of religion in the writings of the New Testament. It was evidently desirable, on many accounts, that the records should be made in one language rather than in many, and of all the languages then spoken on the earth, the “Greek” was the best adapted to such a purpose. It was not only the most polished and cultivated, but it was the most copious; and it was the best fitted to express abstract ideas, and accurate distinctions. Probably with all the improvements since made in the copious Arabic language, and in the languages of modern times, there never has been one that was so well fitted for the purposes of a Divine revelation as the Greek. It may have been one design of Providence, in the extensive and accurate cultivation of that language in Greece itself, as well as in its diffusion over the world, that there should be at the time of the introduction of the Christian revelation a medium of permanent record that should be as free from imperfection as language could be; a medium also in which there should be so much permanent and valuable literature that, even after it should cease to be a spoken language, it would be cultivated by the whole literary world, thus furnishing the means of an accurate knowledge of the meaning of the sacred writings.

II. The translation of the Old Testament into the same language was another important event, which took place during the continuance of this kingdom, which greatly facilitated the introduction and spread of Christianity. The Hebrew language was understood by comparatively few. It ceased to be spoken in its purity after the time of the captivity. In that language the Scriptures of the Old Testament would have been but little diffused in the world. By their being translated, however, into Greek, they became extensively known, and furnished a ready and an intelligible ground of appeal to the preachers of the new religion when they referred to the prophecies of the Old Testament, and the recorded predictions of the Messiah. For a full account of the history of this version, the reader may consult Prideaux‘s “Connections,” vol. iii. p. 53, following. It was made according to Archbishop Usher, about 277 b.c. The probability is, that it was made at different periods, and by different hands, as it is executed with very various degrees of ability. See Introduction to Isaiah, Section viii. I. (1), for a more extended account of this version and its value. There can be no doubt that it contributed much to the diffusion of the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, and was an important instrument in preparing the world for the reception of the revelation that should be made by the Messiah.

III. Events of great importance occurred dating the continuance of this kingdom in preserving the Jewish people in times of persecution, and saving their city and temple from ruin. and their nation from extinction.

(a) The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple was threatened by Alexander himself. After the siege and capture of Tyre, he became enraged at the Jews for refusing to furnish supplies for his army during the siege, under the plea that they were bound to show allegiance to Darius, and he marched to Jerusalem with an intention to take and destroy it. In order to appease him, it is said that Jaddua, the high priest, went out to meet him in his pontifical robes, at the head of a procession of priests, and accompanied by the people in white garments. Alexander was so impressed with the scene that, to the surprise of all, he spared the city and temple; and on being asked by Parmenio the reason of this clemency, said that he had seen this person in vision, who had directed him to lay aside all anxiety about his contemplated expedition to Asia, and that he had promised that God would give him the empire of the Persians. According to the story, Jaddua showed him the prophecies of Daniel, and confirmed him by those prophecies in the confident expectation of conquering the East; and in view of this, Alexander offered sacrifices in the temple, and granted to the Hebrews the freedom of their country, and the exercise of their laws and religion. See Prideaux, vol. ii. p. 302, following; Josephus, “Ant.” b. xi. ch. 8. Whatever of fable there may be in this account, it is certain that this city and temple were not destroyed by Alexander, but that in his ravages in the East, he was led, by some cause, to deal with the capital of the Hebrew nation in a masher different from what he did with others.

(b) A remarkable preservation of the Jewish people, of a somewhat similar character, and evincing the protection of God, occurred during the great persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes, one of the successors of Alexander, in the time of the Maccabees. See Prideaux, vol. iii. p. 230, and 2 Maccabees 5:11-27. In the times of that celebrated persecution, multitudes of the Jews were slain by Antiochus himself; the city was taken, and the temple defiled. Three years after it was taken by Antiochus (168 b.c.), Apollonius was directed by him to march against the city to vent his wrath on the Jews; and when the people were assembled in their synagogues for worship, he let loose his forces on them, with a command to slay all the men, and to take all the women and children captives to be sold as slaves. After this, he plundered the city, demolished the houses, and pulled down the walls, and then with the ruins of the demolished city built a strong fortress on the top of an eminence in the city of David, in a place which overlooked the temple, and placed a strong garrison within. From this place attacks were made on all who went up to the temple to worship; and the temple was defiled with all manner of pollutions, until it was deserted, and the daily sacrifices ceased. From these calamities and persecutions, the city and the Jewish nation were delivered by the valor of Judas Maccabeus, in the manner detailed in the first book of Maccabees.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Daniel 2:39". "Barnes' Notes on the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/daniel-2.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee,.... This is the kingdom of the Medes and Persians, signified by the breasts and arms of silver, an inferior metal to gold; this rose up, not immediately after the death of Nebuchadnezzar, but after his successors, when Belshazzar his grandson was slain, and Babylon taken by Cyrus; now though this monarchy was as large at the first as the Babylonish monarchy, nay, larger, as it had Media and Persia added to it, new conquests made by Cyrus, and was as rich and as opulent in his times; yet in later kings it shrunk much, in its peace and prosperity, grandeur and glory, as in the times of Cambyses and the Magi; and especially in the reigns of Cyrus the younger, and of Artaxerxes Mnemon; and at last ceased in Darius Codomannus, conquered by Alexander; and was worse than the former monarchy, being more cruel under some of its princes to the people of the Jews:

and another third kingdom of brass: this is the Grecian monarchy, which succeeded the Persian, and therefore called the third kingdom, and is signified by the belly and thighs of brass of the image See Gill on Daniel 2:32;

which shall bear rule over all the earth; not the land of Israel, as Saadiah restrains it, but the whole world, as Alexander did, at least in his own opinion; who thought he had conquered the whole world, and wept because there was not another to conquer; and it is certain he did subdue a great part of it. JustinF14Ex Trogo, l. 12. c. 13. says,

"that when he was returning to Babylon from the uttermost shores of the sea, it was told him that the embassies of the Carthaginians and other cities of Africa, and also of Spain, Sicily, France, Sardinia, and some out of Italy, were waiting for his coming; the terror of his name so struck the whole world, that all nations complimented him as their king destined for them.'

And Pliny reportsF15Nat. Hist. l. 4. c. 10. of Macedonia, that

"it formerly (that is, in the times of Alexander) governed the world; this (says he) passed over Asia, Armenia, Iberia, Albania, Cappadocia, Syria, Egypt, Taurus, and Caucasus; this ruled over the Bactrians, Medes, and Persians, possessing the whole east; this also was conqueror of India.'


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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Daniel 2:39". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/daniel-2.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And after thee shall arise another kingdom s inferior to thee, and another t third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.

(s) Meaning, the Persians who were not inferior in dignity, power, or riches, but were worse with regard to ambition, cruelty, and every type of vice, showing that the world would grow worse and worse, until it was restored by Christ.

(t) That is, those of the Macedonians will be of brass, not alluding to the hardness of it, but to the vileness with regard to silver.


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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Daniel 2:39". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/daniel-2.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

That Medo-Persia is the second kingdom appears from Daniel 5:28 and Daniel 8:20. Compare 2 Chronicles 36:20; Isaiah 21:2.

inferior — “The kings of Persia were the worst race of men that ever governed an empire” [Prideaux]. Politically (which is the main point of view here) the power of the central government in which the nobles shared with the king, being weakened by the growing independence of the provinces, was inferior to that of Nebuchadnezzar, whose sole word was law throughout his empire.

brass — The Greeks (the third empire, Daniel 8:21; Daniel 10:20; Daniel 11:2-4) were celebrated for the brazen armor of their warriors. Jerome fancifully thinks that the brass, as being a clear-sounding metal, refers to the eloquence for which Greece was famed. The “belly,” in Daniel 2:32, may refer to the drunkenness of Alexander and the luxury of the Ptolemies [Tirinus].

over all the earth — Alexander commanded that he should be called “king of all the world” [Justin, 12. sec. 16.9; Arrian, Campaigns of Alexander, 7. sec. 15]. The four successors ({diadochi}) who divided Alexander‘s dominions at his death, of whom the Seleucidae in Syria and the Lagidae in Egypt were chief, held the same empire.


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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Daniel 2:39". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/daniel-2.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.

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.


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Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Daniel 2:39". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/daniel-2.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

In this verse Daniel embraces the Second and Third Monarchies. He says the second should be inferior to the Chaldean in neither power nor wealth; for the Chaldean empire, although it spread so far and so wide, was added to that of the Medes and Persians. Cyrus subdued the Medes first; and although he made his father-in-law, Cyaxares, his ally in the sovereignty, yet he had expelled his maternal grandfather, and thus obtained peaceable possession of the kingdom throughout all Media. Then he afterwards conquered the Chaldeans and Assyrians, as well as the Lydians and the rest of the nations of Asia Minor. We see then that his kingdom is not called inferior through having less splendor or opulence in human estimation, but because the general condition of the world was worse under the second monarchy, as men’s vices and corruptions increase more and more. Cyrus was, it is true, a prudent prince, but yet sanguinary. Ambition and avarice carried him fiercely onwards, and he wandered in every direction, like a wild beast, forgetful of all humanity. And if we scan his disposition accurately, we shall discover it to be, as Isaiah says, very greedy of human blood. (Isaiah 13:18.) And here we may remark, that he does not treat only of the persons of kings, but of their counselors and of the whole people. Hence Daniel deservedly pronounces the second state of the kingdom inferior to the first; not because Nebuchadnezzar excelled in dignity, or wealth, or power, but because the world had not degenerated so much as it afterwards did. For the more these monarchies extend themselves, the more licentiousness increases in the world, according to the teaching of experience. Whence the folly and madness of those who desire to have kings very powerful is apparent, just as if any one should desire a river to be most rapid, as Isaiah says when combating this folly. (Isaiah 8:7.) For the swifter, the deeper, and the wider a river flows on, the greater the destruction of its overflow to the whole neighborhood. Hence the insanity of those who desire the greatest monarchies, because some things will by positive necessity occur out of lawful order. when one man occupies so broad a space; and this did occur under the sway of the Medes and Persians.

The description of the Third Monarchy now follows. It is called brazen, not so much from its hardness as from its being worse than the second. The Prophet teaches how the difference between the second and third monarchies is similar to that between silver and brass. The rabbis confound the two monarchies, through their desire to comprehend under the second what they call the kingdom of the Greeks; but they display the grossest ignorance and dishonesty. For they do not err, through simple ignorance, but they purposely desire to overthrow what Scripture here states clearly concerning the advent of Christ. Hence they are not ashamed to mingle and confuse history, and to pronounce carelessly on subjects unknown to them — unknown, I say, not because they escape men moderately versed hi history, but through their being brutal themselves, and discerning nothing. For instead of Alexander the son of Philip, they put Alexander the son of Mammea, who possessed the Roman empire, when half its provinces had been already separated from it. He was a spiritless boy, and was slain in his tent with the greatest ignominy by his own soldiers; besides that, he never really governed, but lived as a minor under the sway of his mother. And yet the Jews are not ashamed to distort and twist what relates to the king of Macedon to this Alexander the son of Mammea. But their wickedness and ignorance is easily refuted by the context, as we shall afterwards see. Here Daniel states shortly that there shall be a third monarchy, he does not describe its character, nor explain it fully; but we shall see in another place the meaning of his prophecy. He now interprets the dream of the king of Babylon, as the vision of the four empires had been offered to him. But the angel afterwards confirms the same to him by a vision, and very clearly, too, as will be seen in its own place. Without doubt this narrative of the brazen image relates to the Macedonian kingdom. How, then, is all doubt removed? By the description of the fourth empire, which is much fuller, and clearly indicates what we shall soon see, that the Roman empire was like the feet, partly of clay and partly of iron. He says, therefore, —


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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Daniel 2:39". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/daniel-2.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Daniel 2:39 And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.

Ver. 39. And after thee shall arise another kingdom,] (a) viz., That of the Persians, fitly set forth by silver, for their exceeding great wealth mentioned by many heathen authors. The two silver arms are the Medes and Persians, meeting both in Cyrus, as the two arms do in the breast; Cyrus also, by his great strength and much bodily labour all his life long, got this other empire.

Inferior to thee,] sc., In fame and felicity. Chald., Humilius; quia durius et minus tolerabile, saith one.

And another kingdom of brass.] This is the third monarchy, which is the Grecian, not the Carthaginian, as Orosius, and, out of him, Prosper, would have it; and it is fitly set forth by brass, which, as it is a metal strong and hard, so noisy and loud sounding. The belly noteth the beginning and greatness of this kingdom, saith one, (b) under Alexander the Great; the joints between the belly and thighs note the plucking up of this kingdom after Alexander’s death, to be divided into four, whereof the principal were two - the one of the Seleucidae, the other of the Lagidae, figured here by the two thighs of brass. See Daniel 11:4-5.


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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Daniel 2:39". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/daniel-2.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Another kingdom inferior to thee; this was that of the Medes and Persians, inferior in time and succession; in duration, it lasted not half so long as the Assyrian; and in prosperity and tranquillity, for the Persian was fuller of trouble; yet was this wonderfully rich and large for a time, Esther 1:1: this was the breast and arms of silver.

Another third kingdom of brass; this was the Grecian monarchy, under Alexander the Great, who conquered the former, called "the city," because given so much to luxury; brass, because coarser than the other, and their armour was chiefly brass, calkocitonev.

Which shall bear rule over all the earth; therefore this is also called a universal monarchy; for Alexander marched into the Indies, and conquered much of that, (by which he was said to conquer the world,) and wept that he had not another world to conquer: yet; his lasted not long, for he was soon overcome and killed by his worldly lusts.


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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Daniel 2:39". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/daniel-2.html. 1685.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

“And another third kingdom of brass which will rule over all the earth.”

As his gaze moved downwards the silver tailed off and became brass, but there was still evidence of plurality as he gazed at the belly and thighs. Once again we are not left to speculate as to who it represented, for the third kingdom is the kingdom of Greece (Daniel 8:5-8; Daniel 8:21-22). It would be inferior in outward splendour, represented by its being brass, but again what made it even more inferior was its substantial lack of unity. The quality of the kingdoms was deteriorating. We learn from chapter 8, that this lowering of quality also lay in its brittleness, for there it splits into four kingdoms. In the end brittleness and deterioration is what this image is all about. But it too was weakened by idolatry, for idolatry was part of the significance of the image.

‘Will rule over all the earth.’ As ever in Scripture this must be seen discerningly. Greece ruled as far as the thoughts of men went, over what men as a whole meant when they spoke of ‘the world’, that is, their own world. Compare 1 Kings 4:34; 2 Chronicles 9:23


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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Daniel 2:39". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/daniel-2.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

39. Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom shall be followed by a silver kingdom, inferior (or, literally, lower down; that is, nearer the ground) to that of the golden head, and it, in turn, by a brazen kingdom, to be followed by one of iron and miry clay (Daniel 2:40-41). Expositors of the greatest ability and spiritual insight have differed in their interpretation of these four kingdoms. That the first world-empire is the Babylonian and that another is the Greek (Daniel 8:21) all admit; but of the other two empires no explanation can be given which is free from difficulty. The best that can be done is to choose the view which does not positively contradict either the statements of Daniel or the acknowledged certainties of history. We will now consider the three leading positions.

(1) The most attractive view to modern scholars is that the four empires are the Babylonian, Median, Persian, and Greek. In favor of this it is urged that, following the ordinary rules of historic interpretation, the description of the fourth empire — of iron, which was afterward broken, divided, and weak (Daniel 2:34-35) — and of the fourth beast, with the ten horns (namely, ten kings, Daniel 7:24) among which sprung up a “little horn” which made war with the saints and took away the daily sacrifice (chaps. 7, 8), is clearly a description of the Greek empire, and of the little horn Antiochus Epiphanes, whose reign of guilt is so elaborately set forth in chap. 11. It is also said that the second empire must necessarily be Median, since Daniel himself makes Darius the Mede king of an independent world-monarchy (Daniel 5:31; Daniel 6) and therefore whatever history may say, we must interpret these visions from the prophet’s standpoint.

Against this it may be said that, allowing the argument that the fourth monarchy cannot be Roman, and that the “little horn” in each chapter represents Antiochus Epiphanes, it still does not necessitate our making the second empire Median; it may be Medo-Persian, and the fourth empire that of the successors of Alexander. That Daniel did regard the Medes and Persians as a unit, so far as their kingdom is concerned, is clearly seen from the fact that the law of the kingdom, even under Darius the Mede, was the “law of the Medes and Persians” (Daniel 6:8; Daniel 6:12; Daniel 6:15), while, as Dr. Terry himself admits, Daniel’s statement that the two-horned ram denotes “the kings of Media and Persia” (Daniel 8:20) does show that “Daniel himself recognized Medes and Persians as constituting one monarchy” (Hermeneutics, p. 352). It will not do to say that the standpoint here “is manifestly in the last period of the Persian rule” (Terry); for Daniel himself states that this vision occurred not, as Terry assumes, “long after the Median power in Babylon had ceased to exist,” but in the reign of King Belshazzar (Daniel 8:1) — and surely, as Dr. Terry says, we should study these visions from Daniel’s point of view and “in the light of his own explanations and historical statements.” Daniel never distinguishes between the empire of Media and that of Persia, but invariably speaks of these empires as one. Neither the Book of Daniel nor the facts of history warrant us in assuming the existence of a Median empire between the Babylonian and Persian empires. Indeed, as Kamphausen says, “There never really was a Median world-kingdom, either before or after the fall of Babylon.” This is acknowledged by all. Therefore, if Daniel did declare the Median to be the second empire, he made a mistake. So Kamphausen frankly acknowledges. But such mistake ought not to be charged against him unnecessarily, especially in the face of his own declaration in the same book that the law and monarchy of the Medes and Persians were a duality in unity.

Daniel’s thought of the Medes and Persians as joint rulers of one kingdom is exactly that of the ancient writers, like Herodotus and Thucydides, who scarcely distinguished between these two peoples, and is also that of modern historians, who have before them all the facts of modern discovery. Maspero, without any thought of its bearing on a Bible statement, says: “The Median empire had fallen (549 B.C.), but it was a change of dynasty rather than a foreign conquest. Astyages and his predecessors had been kings of the Medes and Persians, Cyrus and his successors were kings of the Persians and Medes” (Histoire Ancienne, 1893, p. 564). Therefore, we are compelled by the facts of history, in perfect harmony with the words of Daniel himself, to make the second empire not Median, but Medo-Persian.

(2) The view that the fourth empire was Roman took its rise before the Christian era (as is seen from 2 Esdras, etc.), and continued to be so universally accepted by the Christian Church that Luther could say, with only a little exaggeration, “In this interpretation and meaning all the world agree.”

The most powerful argument in favor of this view is that from the days of Nebuchadnezzar until now there have been only four universal world-empires — the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Greek, and the Roman. Many mighty emperors like Charlemagne and Napoleon have “hoped and plotted and warred and shed oceans of blood to form a fifth, but they have not succeeded; the fragments of the Roman empire still hold the field.” And this fourth empire corresponded exactly to the description of Daniel; for it was an Iron Empire, a beast with iron teeth, diverse from all which had preceded it, devouring and treading down the whole earth (Daniel 7:7; Daniel 7:27). Besides, it was “in the days of these kings” (Daniel 2:44), during the Roman dominion, that the prophesied Messiah came, and St. John, in his Apocalypse, means Rome when he speaks of the beast with the seven heads and ten horns.

However, in answer to this it may be said that the Bible writers are not concerned to lay out a map of the world’s history in which all future world-monarchies are mentioned, but (certainly in all other prophecies) confine themselves, so far as details are concerned, to the history which is near their own times and to the kings which have vital relations to Israel. It is entirely in accordance with this prophetic analogy that St. John, writing in the Roman period, should make very specific reference to the beastly Roman empire, but even if the seven-headed beast with ten horns which he describes (Revelation 13) be Rome, which is very doubtful (Milligan, Book of Revelation, 1895), that would by no means prove that the one-headed beast with ten horns which Daniel spoke of (Daniel 7:7; Daniel 7:19) referred to the same world-power. The same symbol is often used in Scripture of very different historic events (Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics, 1891). Indeed there are several other considerations which indicate that Daniel’s fourth empire could not be Rome. It was not the immediate successor of Alexander’s empire; it arose and had its chief field of operations in a different country from that of the other empires of Daniel; it was not Rome, but Syria, which touched most closely the life and fate of the Jewish people at the close of the Greek domination; it is not Roman kings whose life and acts Daniel describes most minutely, but Syrian kings; while the description of this fourth empire of Daniel as iron and miry clay, that is, as “mixed, composite, brittle, inadhesive, not unified and consolidated into one firm power,” does not properly describe the Roman empire at the beginning of the Christian era. Daniel prophesied that the kingdom of heaven should appear on the earth at a time when a kingdom, once strong, had become weak and divided, and when its unkingly kings, like the clay toes of the great image, could easily be smitten (Daniel 2:42). This is not a picture of Augustus and the Roman empire which was at the apex of its glory when Christ was born. “It was three hundred years later than Christ’s coming when the Roman empire was divided, and much later still when broken in pieces and made to pass away. But the stone smote not the legs of iron, but the feet, which were partly of iron and partly of clay” (Terry). Daniel’s fourth empire was to be destroyed, broken to pieces, and swept away upon the rise of the Messianic kingdom (Daniel 2:35); but historically this was not true of Rome. If it be said in reply to this that the deathblow was really given to the Roman empire when the Messiah came, but that it took two thousand years for it to die, and that while the fragments of this empire still remain in the earth, and the “little horn” yet rages, all these enemies of the kingdom will be destroyed in the future, when the Son of man comes the second time in the clouds of heaven; we would answer, with Bruston, that it is incredible, and contrary to all prophetic analogy, that, without saying a word of the first coming of Christ, Daniel should describe here the struggles of the Christian Church through long ages, ending with this thrilling picture of our Lord’s second advent. Nowhere else in the Old Testament is the second advent referred to, and it ought not to be read into this passage if it can be consistently interpreted, as it can, of his first coming.

(3) The third position to which we are forced by the unsurmountable objections to other views is that Daniel’s four kingdoms are Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Syrian.

While objections can be made to this, for example, that the Medo-Persian empire was not “inferior” to the Babylonian (Daniel 2:39); the Syriac kingdom did not break in pieces and subdue all things (Daniel 2:40); the kingdom of God did not strike and crush this Syrian kingdom (Daniel 2:34) which had disappeared before Christ was born — the Messianic kingdom appearing not “in” but “after” the days of those kings (Daniel 2:44) — yet, instead of being vital and fundamental objections, these are mostly verbal criticisms, such as lie against all rival views. These seeming contradictions to our position are mostly due to the fact that a symbol cannot go on all fours, and a picture cannot apply to every minute section of the reality. (See note Daniel 2:40.)

Gutschmidt and other historians well see that “the fall of Perdiccas (321 B.C.) was really the end of the Perso-Macedonian empire founded by Alexander,” and that following this came the great empires of the Seleucidae and Ptolemies. The empire founded by Seleucus (who at least for a time became “arbiter of the world,” Mahaffy), was, together with the allied kingdom of Egypt (chap. xi), the fourth empire of Daniel. Not only was Seleucus a great king, and a terrible scourge upon the nations of the East, his very name meaning “conqueror,” but he was especially great and terrible to the Jews, and ruled over those very countries “which for nearly three hundred years had been the seat of empire for the three great prophetic dynasties before him” (Cowles).


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Daniel 2:39". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/daniel-2.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The world kingdom that succeeded Medo-Persia was Greece-under Alexander the Great (cf. Daniel 8:20-21). Its territory was even larger than that of Medo-Persia. Greece dominated the ancient cradle of civilization from331to31 B.C, so it lasted longer than either Babylonia or Medo-Persia (i.e, 300 years). However, after Alexander the Great died in323 B.C, the empire split into four parts, and each of Alexander"s generals took one piece. Antipater ruled Macedon-Greece, Lysimachus governed Thrace-Asia Minor, Seleucus headed Asia, and Ptolemy reigned over Egypt, Cyrenaica, and Palestine. Thus, Greece lacked the unified strength of Medo-Persia and Babylonia. Its democratic form of government gave more power to the people and less to the rulers. The two legs of the statue evidently represented the two major divisions of the Greek Empire: its eastern and western sectors.


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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Daniel 2:39". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/daniel-2.html. 2012.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Daniel 2:39. After thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee — “It is very well known, that the kingdom which arose after the Babylonian was the Medo-Persian. The two hands and the shoulders signify that the empire of the Babylonians should be destroyed by two kings. The two kings were the kings of the Medes and Persians, whose powers were united under Cyrus, who was son of one of the kings, and son-in-law of the other, and who besieged and took Babylon, put an end to that empire, and erected on its ruin the Medo-Persian, or the Persian, as it is more usually called, the Persians having soon gained ascendency over the Medes. The empire is said to be inferior, as being less than the former, according to the Vulgate translation, because neither Cyrus, nor any of his successors, ever carried their arms into Africa or Spain, so far as Nebuchadnezzar is reported to have done; or rather, as being worse, according to Castalio; for indeed it may be truly asserted, that the kings of Persia were the worst race of men that ever governed an empire. This empire, from its first establishment by Cyrus to the death of Darius Codomanus, lasted not much above two hundred years.” — Bishop Newton.

And another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth — “The prophet,” says Jackson, in his Chronicles, vol. 1. p. 393, “having just mentioned this second kingdom, with great delicacy hastens to the third, because he would not tell the king that the second kingdom was to destroy his.” It is universally known that Alexander the Great subdued the Medes and Persians, and subverted their empire. This prince is said, by the author of the first book of Maccabees, “to be the first that reigned over Greece, after having smitten Darius the king of the Persians and Medes; to have made many wars, won many strong holds, and slain the kings of the earth; also to have gone through to the ends of the earth, and taken the spoils of many nations.” It is reported of this mighty conqueror, that “he built more than seventy cities, twelve of which, or, as Curtius intimates, eighteen, he named Alexandria; that his soldiers, though unarmed, were never afraid, while he was with them, of any armed forces. He engaged no enemy which he did not conquer, besieged no city which he did not take, and made attempts on no nation which he did not entirely subdue.” But all would not satisfy the vast cravings of his ambition, so that the Roman satirist with great justice observed of him,

“Unus Pellæo juveni non sufficit orbis; Æstuat infelix augusto limite mundi.” — Juv. Sat. 10.

One world does not satisfy the Macedonian youth: he chafes unhappy, cooped in the narrow compass of the globe: see Wintle. The kingdom, therefore, which succeeded to the Persian was the Macedonian, or Grecian; and this kingdom was fitly represented by brass, for the Greeks were famous for their brazen armour, their usual epithet being, χαλκοχιτωνες αχαιοι, The brazen-coated Greeks. This third kingdom is said to bear rule over all the earth, by a figure usual in almost all authors. Alexander himself commanded that he should be called, The king of all the world; not that he really conquered the whole world, but that he had considerable dominions in Europe, Asia, and Africa, that is, in all the three parts of the world then known. Diodorus Siculus, and other writers, give an account of ambassadors coming from almost all the world, to congratulate him upon his success, or to submit to his empire: and then especially, as Arrian remarks, did Alexander appear to himself, and to those about him, to be master both of all the earth and all the sea. But this third kingdom must be considered as comprehending not only Alexander, but likewise the Macedonian princes who succeeded him. This will appear the more probable, because the former kingdoms comprehended all the succeeding princes of the same house and nation, even till the ruin of their empire, and its translation to the different prince and nation which succeeded to the sovereign power and dominion: see Bishop Newton, and Dr. Chandler’s Vindication of Daniel.


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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Daniel 2:39". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/daniel-2.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Another kingdom; viz. that of the Medes and Persians. (Challoner) --- Inferior; later, of less duration and extent. (Calmet) --- Third, &c. That of Alexander the Great. (Challoner) --- World. Alexander received ambassadors at Babylon, from the most distant nations, testifying their submission. He conquered beyond the river Indus, &c. (Diodorus A. 1. Olym. 14.) (Calmet)


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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Daniel 2:39". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/daniel-2.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

arise = stand up. Chaldee. kum = to begin to exist. See note on Exodus 1:8.

another. The kingdom of Medo-Persia, which succeeded Babylon by occupying Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 36:22).

inferior. As silver is inferior to gold, in value and in specific gravity (see note on Daniel 2:32) so the second kingdom was inferior to the first. The successive kingdoms are marked by evolution (or rather, devolution). In the first (Babylon) the king possessed absolute power ("whom he would he slew", &c, Daniel 5:19); the second [Medo-Persian] was a government by law which was superior to the king (Daniel 6:1, Daniel 6:14, &c).

third kingdom. This again was "inferior", as being less despotic.


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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Daniel 2:39". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/daniel-2.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.

After thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee. That Medo-Persia is the second kingdom appears from Daniel 5:28; Daniel 8:20. (Compare 2 Chronicles 36:20; Isaiah 21:2; Isaiah 21:9.)

Inferior. 'The kings of Persia were the worst race of men that ever governed an empire' (Prideaux). Politically, which is the main point of view here, the power of the central government, in which the nobles shared with the king, being weakened by the growing independence of the provinces, was inferior to that of Nebuchadnezzar, whose sole word was law throughout his empire.

And another ... kingdom of brass - the third empire (Daniel 8:5-6; Daniel 8:20-21; Daniel 10:20; Daniel 11:2-4). The Greeks were celebrated for the brasen armour of their warriors. Jerome fancifully thinks that the brass, as being a clear-sounding metal, refers to the eloquence for which Greece was famed. The "belly," in Daniel 2:32, may refer to the drunkenness of Alexander and the luxury of the Ptolemies (Tirinus).

Which shall bear rule over all the earth. Alexander commanded that he should be called 'king of all the world' (Justinus, 12:, sec. 16. 9. Arrian, 'Expeditio Alexandri,' 7:, sec. 15). The four successors (Diadochi) who divided Alexander's dominions at his death, of whom the Seleucidae in Syria and the Lagidae in Egypt were chief, held the same empire.


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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Daniel 2:39". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/daniel-2.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(39) Another kingdom.—These words make it clear that by “the king” in the last verse “kingdom” was meant; or, in other words, Nebuchadnezzar was identified with his kingdom (comp. Daniel 7:5; Daniel 8:3; Daniel 8:20). The second kingdom is the Medo-Persian (as appears more fully below, Exc. E). The inferiority is to be found in the divided character of that empire, as compared with the massive solidity of its predecessor. This is signified in the image, partly by the inferiority of the metal, silver instead of gold, and partly by the symbol of division, the two breasts opposed to the one head. It must not be forgotten that in other respects, such as extent of territory and duration of empire, the Medo-Persian far exceeded the Babylonian kingdom.

Another third.—The metal implies a certain inferiority, but the phrase “shall bear rule over the whole earth” speaks of an empire that extended further than the preceding. This is the Græco-Macedonian Empire (see Exc. E, and comp. Daniel 7:6; Daniel 8:5-7).


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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Daniel 2:39". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/daniel-2.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.
another kingdom
The empire of the Medes and Persians, whose union was denoted by the breast and two arms of silver; and which was established on the ruins of that of the Chaldeans on the capture of Babylon by Cyrus, B.C. 538.
32; 5:28-31; 7:5; 8:3,4,20; 11:2; Isaiah 44:28; 45:1-5
another third
The empire of the Macedonians, or "brazen-coated Greeks," aptly denoted by the belly and thighs of brass, founded by Alexander the Great, who terminated the Persian monarchy by the overthrow of Darius Codomanus at Arbela, B.C. 331
32; 7:6,7,23; 8:5-14; 10:20; 11:3-20; Zechariah 6:3,6

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Daniel 2:39". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/daniel-2.html.


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