Four Great Monarchies
Daniel's second vision was given at what time?
"In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters." Dan. 7:1.
What did the prophet first see?
"Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of heaven strove upon the great sea." Dan. 7:2.
What was the result of this strife?
"And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another." Dan. 7:3.
What did the beasts represent?
"These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth." Dan. 7:17.
NOTE: The word kings here denotes kingdoms, as explained in the verses 23-24.
In symbolic language, what is represented by winds?
[Whirlwind, commotion, war, strife, scattering, confusion, etc.] Jer. 25:31-33; 49:36, 37.
NOTE: "The strife and commotion which produces all this destruction is called a great whirlwind. That winds denote strife and war is then evident from a consideration of the vision itself; for as the result of the striving of the winds, kingdoms arise and fall; and these events are accomplished through political strife." --Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation, p. 116.
What is symbolized by the term waters?
"And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest,... are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues." Rev. 17:15.
NOTE: In the second chapter of Daniel, four universal kingdoms are introduced, namely, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Grecia, and Rome. These are respresented by the head of gold, the breast and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of brass, and the legs of iron, with feet part of iron and part of clay. As four kingdoms are also intoduced in the seventh chapter, we may safely conclude that these kingdoms, symbolized by a lion, a bear, a leopard, and a great and terrible beast with ten horns, are identical with those of the second chapter. The reason why the same ground is covered again, is well given in these words: "The ground is passed over again and again, that additional characteristics may be brought out, and additional facts and features may be presented. It is thus that we have line upon line. Here earthly governments are viewed as represented in the light of Heaven. Their true character is shown by the symbol of wild and ravenous beasts." --Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation, page 117.
What was the first beast like?
"The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it." Dan. 7:4.
NOTE: The first of these beasts (like the golden head in Nebuchadnezzar's dream) evidently intends the Babylonian monarchy, and is described as a lion with eagles' wings." --Cottage Bible.
At first the lion had eagle's wings, denoting the rapidity with which Babylon extended its conquests under Nebuchadnezzar. When this vision of Daniel 7 was given, a change had taken place; its wings had been plucked. It no longer flew like an eagle upon its prey. The boldness and spirit of the lion were gone. A man's heart -- weak, timid, and faint -- had taken its place. Such was emphatically the case with the Babylonian empire under Belshazzar.
By what was the second kingdom symbolized?
"And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh." Dan. 7:5.
NOTES: "The kingdom here referred to was undoubtedly the Medo-Persian, established by Cyrus." --Barnes's Notes on Dan. 2:39.
"This was the Medo-Persian empire, represented here under the symbol of the bear. . . . The Medes and Persians are compared to a bear on account of their cruelty and thirst after blood, a bear being the most voracious and cruel animal. The bear is termed by Aristotle an all-devouring animal; and the Medo-Persians are known to have been great robbers and spoilers.
"As in the great image of chapter 2, so in this series of symbols, a marked deterioration will be noticed as we descend from one kingdom to another. The breast and arms of silver were inferior to the head of gold. The bear was inferior to the lion. Medo-Persia fell short of Babylon in wealth and magnificence, and the brilliancy of its career. . . . The three ribs perhaps signify the three provinces of Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt, which were especially ground down and oppressed by this power." --Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation, pages 117, 118.
By what was the third universal empire symbolized?
"After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it." Dan. 7:6.
NOTE: "This bear having disappeared, the prophet saw an extraordinary "leopard" rise up in its stead. This was the emblem of the Grecian, or Macedonian empire, which for the time was the most renowned in the world." --Scott, on Daniel 7:6.
"Two wings, the number the lion had, were not sufficient. It [the leopard] must have four; and this must denote unparalleled swiftness of movement, which we find to be historically true of the Grecian kingdom. The conquests of Grecia under Alexander have no parallel in historic annals for suddenness and rapidity." --Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation, page 118.
"Alexander, in less than eight years, marched his army upwards of seventeen hundred leagues [or more than fifty-one hundred miles], without including his return to Babylon." --Rollin's Ancient History, b. 15, sec. 2.
"'The beast had also four heads. The Grecian empire maintained its unity but little longer than the lifetime of Alexander. Within fifteen years after his brilliant career ended in a drunken debauch [323 B.C.], the empire was divided among his four leading generals. Cassander had Macedon and Greece in the west; Lysimachus had Thrace and the parts of Asia on the Hellespont and Bosporus in the north; Ptolemy received Egypt, Lydia, Arabia, Palestine, and Coele-Syria in the south; and Seleucus had Syria and all the rest of Alexander's dominions in the east. These divisions were denoted by the four heads of the leopard." --Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation, page 119. See also Cottage Bible nots on this prophecy.
How is the fourth kingdom represented?
"After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns." Daniel 7:7.
NOTES: A fourth beast. -- "The Roman empire, which destroyed the Grecian empire, and became mistriss of the world." --Bagster, in Cottage Bible.
"The fourth kingdom, symbolized by the fourth beast, is accurately represented by the Roman power." --Barnes, on Dan. 7, page 321.
"This 'fourth beast' evidently accords with the legs and feet of iron, which were seen by Nebuchadnezzar in his visionary image, and which were at length divided into ten toes. . . . This was doubtless an emblem of the Roman state." --Scott, on Dan. 7:7
Daniel asked no questions concerning the first three beasts of this series, evidently, because he understood their application from the knowledge gained whe the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream was made known to him. Smigh says: "But he was astonished at this fourth bease, so unnatural and dreadful; for the further we come down the stream of time, the further it is necessary to depart from nature in forming symbols accurately to represent the degenerating governments of this earth." --Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation, page 126.
"This is allowed on all hands, to be the Roman empire. It was dreadful, terrible, and exceeding strong; . . . and became in effect, what the Roman writers delight to call it, the empire fo the whole world." --A. Clarke on Dan. 7.
What was denoted by the ten horns?
"And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings." Dan. 7:24.
NOTE: "The ten horns here answer to the 'ten toes' in Nebuchadnezzer's image." --Bagster, in Cottage Bible.