Daniel 2:38 Index
"'And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath He given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.'"
Research Material

"...the beast of the field..." (Jeremiah 27:6; 28:14; Genesis 1:26)

  • A fitting representation of Babylon's dominion in the time of Nebuchadnezzar. The manner in which ancient kings included the animal world in their sphere of domination is illustrated by a statement by Shalmaneser III: "Ninurta and Palil, who love my priesthood, have given me all the beasts of the field." (4BC 772)
  • The following passage from the so-called East India House inscription is typical of archeological evidence which substantiates Daniel's description of Nebuchadnezzar's conquest: "In (Marduk's) exalted service I have traversed distant countries, remote mountains from the Upper Sea [Mediterranean] to the Lower Sea [Persian Gulf], steep paths, blockaded roads, where the step is impeded, [where] no foothold is possible, [also] uncharted routes, [and] desert paths. The disobedient I subjugated; I captured the enemies, established justice in the land; exalted the people; the bad and evil I removed far from the people." (4BC 772)

"Thou art this head of gold."

  • Nebuchadnezzar ruled forty of the seventy years Babylon existed. This is the reason God said "Thou art this head of gold." Historians referred to Babylon as the golden kingdom. It was the first kingdom in the vision. (KC 37)
  • Nebuchadnezzar was the Neo-Babylonian Empire personified. The military conquests and the architectural splendor of Babylon were, in large measure, due to his prowess. (4BC 772)
  • An abundance of gold was used in embellishing Babylon. Herodotus describes in lavish terms how gold sparkled in the sacred temples of the city. The image of the god, the throne on which he sat, and the table and the altar were made of gold (Herodotus i. 181, 183; iii 1-7). The prophet Jeremiah compares Babylon to a golden cup (Jeremiah 51:7). Pliny describes the robes of priests as interlaced with gold.... Nebuchadnezzar was outstanding among the kings of antiquity. He left to his successors a great and prosperous kingdom, as may be gleaned from the following inscription: (4BC 772)
  • "[From] the Upper sea [to] the Lower Sea (one line destroyed)... which Marduk, my lord, has entrusted to me. I have made... the city of Babylon to the foremost among all the countries and every human habitation; its name I have [made, or elevated] to the [most worthy of] praise among the sacred cities.... The sanctuaries of my lords Nebo and Marduk (as a) wise (ruler)... always... At that time, the Lebanon, the [Cedar] Mountain, the luxurious forest of Marduk, the smell of which is sweet, the [high] cedars of which, [its product], another god [has not desired, which] no other king has [felled]... my Nabu Marduk [had desired] as a fitting adornment for the palace of the ruler of heaven and earth, (this Lebanon) over which a foreign enemy was ruling and robbing (it of) its riches -- its people were scattered, had fled to a far (away region). (Trusting) in the power of my lords Nebo and Marduk, I organized [my army] for [an expedition] to the Lebanon. I made that country happy by eradicating its enemy everywhere (lit.: collected and reinstalled). What no former king had done (I achieved): I cut through steep mountains, I split rocks, opened passages and (thus) I constructed a straight road for the (transport of the) cedars. I made the Arahtu [float] (down) and carry to Marduk, my king, mighty cedars, high and strong, of precious beauty and of excellent dark quality, the abundant yield of the Lebanon, as (if they be) reed stalks (carried by) the river. Within Babylon [I stored] mulberry wood. I made the inhabitants of the Lebanon live in safety together and let nobody disturb them. In order that nobody might do any harm [to them] I [erected there] a stela (showing) me (as) everlasting king" (Ancient Near Eastern Texts, page 307). (4BC 772)
  • In the image revealed to Nebuchadnezzar, the glory of the Babylonian kingdom is recognized by the Lord, and represented by the head of gold. But while giving due credit to the present state of things, the spirit of prophecy with equal candor points out to the self-exalted king the weakness of the institutions in which he has placed his trust, and the inability of the Babylonian learning to save from impending destruction. (SNH 37-38)
  • With what interest and astonishment must the king have listened as he was informed by the prophet that his kingdom was the golden head of the magnificent image. Daniel informed the king that the God of heaven had given him his kingdom, and made him ruler over all. This would restrain him from the pride of thinking that he had attained his position by his power and wisdom, and would enlist the gratitude of his heart toward the true God. (US 39-41)
  • The kingdom of Babylon, which finally developed into the nation represented by the golden head of the great historic image, was founded by Nimrod, the great-grandson of Noah, more than two thousand years before Christ. (Genesis 10:1-10). it appears that Nimrod also founded the city of Nineveh, which afterward became the capital of Assyria. (Genesis 10:11). ((US 41)
  • The Babylonian Empire rose to power under the general who also became king, Nabopolassar. When he died in 605 B.C., his son Nebuchadnezzar became king.... Nebuchadnezzar died about August-September, 562 B.C., and was succeeded by his son Amel-Marduk (562-560 B.C.), whom Jeremiah calls Evil-Marduk. He was given little time to prove his worth; the two yeas of his brief reign are merely enough to show that political conditions were again hostile to the royal house.... The later Babylonian rulers, weak in power, could not equal the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. Cyrus, king of Persia, besieged Babylon, and took it by stratagem. (US 41, 42)
  • The character of the Babylonian Empire is indicated by the head of gold. It was the golden kingdom of a golden age. Babylon, its metropolis, towered to a height never reached by any of its successors. Situated in the garden of the East; laid out in a perfect square said to be sixty miles in circumference, fifteen miles on each side; surrounded by a wall estimated to have been two hundred to three hundred feet high and eighty-seven feet think, with a moat, or ditch, around this, of equal cubic capacity with the wall itself; divided into squares by its many streets, each one of them straight and level; its two hundred and twenty-five square miles of enclosed surface laid out in luxuriant pleasure grounds and gardens, interspersed with magnificent dwellings -- this city, with its sixty miles of moat, its sixty miles of outer wall, its thirty miles of river wall through its center, its gates of solid brass, its hanging gardens rising terrace above terrace still they equaled in height the walls themselves, its temple of Belus three miles in circumference, its two royal palaces, one three and a half and the other eight miles in circumference, with its subterranean tunnel under the Rive Euphrates connecting these two places, its perfect arrangement for convenience, ornament, and defense, and its unlimited resources -- this city, containing in itself many things which were themselves wonders of the world, was itself another and still mightier wonder. There, with the whole earth prostrated at her feet, a queen in peerless grandeur, drawing from the pen of inspiration itself this glowing title, "The glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency," stood this city, fit capital of that kingdom which was represented by the golden head of this great historic image. (US 42-43)
  • Such was Babylon, with Nebuchadnezzar in the prime of life, bold, vigorous, and accomplished, seated upon its throne, when Daniel entered within its walls to serve as a captive in its gorgeous palaces for seventy years. There the children of the Lord, oppressed more than cheered by the glory and prosperity of the land of their captivity, hung their harps on the willows by the Euphrates, and wept when they remembered Zion.... There began the captive state of the church in a still broader sense; for ever since that time the people of God have been in subjection to earthly powers, and more or less oppressed by them. So they will be until all earthly powers shall finally yield to Him whose right it is to reign. and lo, that day of deliverance draws on apace! (US 43)
  • Into another city, not only Daniel, but all the children of God, from least to greatest, from lowest to highest, are soon to enter. It is a city not merely sixty miles in circumference, but fifteen hundred miles; a city whose walls are not brick and bitumen, but precious stones and jasper; whose streets are not the stone-paved streets of Babylon, smooth and beautiful as they were, but transparent gold; whose river is not the Euphrates, but the river of life; whose music is not the sighs and laments of broken-hearted captives, but the thrilling paeans of victory over death and the grave, which ransomed multitudes shall rise, whose light is not the intermittent light of earth, but the unceasing and ineffable glory of God and the Lamb. To this city they shall come, not as captives entering a foreign land, but as exiles returning to their father's house; not as to a place where such chilling words as "bondage," "servitude," and "oppression," shall weigh down their spirits, but to one where the sweet words, "home," "freedom," "peace," "purity," "unutterable bliss," and "unending life," shall thrill their souls with delight forever and ever. Yea, our mouths shall be filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing, when the Lord shall turn again the captivity of Zion. (Psalm 126:1, 2; Revelation 21:1-27) (US 43-44)
  • To understand these things,—to understand that “righteousness exalteth a nation;” that “the throne is established by righteousness” and “upholden by mercy” (Proverbs 14:34; 16:12; 20:28); to recognize the outworking of these principles in the manifestation of His power who “removeth kings, and setteth up kings” (Daniel 2:21), — this is to understand the philosophy of history... In the word of God only is this clearly set forth. Here it is shown that the strength of nations, as of individuals, is not found in the opportunities or facilities that appear to make them invincible; it is not found in their boasted greatness. It is measured by the fidelity with which they fulfill God's purpose... An illustration of this truth is found in the history of ancient Babylon. To Nebuchadnezzar the king the true object of national government was represented under the figure of a great tree, whose height “reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth: the leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all;” under its shadow the beasts of the field dwelt, and among its branches the birds of the air had their habitation. (Daniel 4:11, 12). This representation shows the character of a government that fulfills God's purpose — a government that protects and upbuilds the nation... God exalted Babylon that it might fulfill this purpose. Prosperity attended the nation until it reached a height of wealth and power that has never since been equaled—fitly represented in the Scriptures by the inspired symbol, a “head of gold.” (Daniel 2:38). (Ed 175)
  • The prophet describes Babylon as the glory of kingdoms, and in the dream of Nebuchadnezzar it was represented by the head of gold. But although it was the greatest kingdom of the earth, the prophet had declared: “I will rise up against them, saith the Lord of hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son and nephew, saith the Lord. I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water; and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 14:22-23). (The Signs of the Times article "A Symbol of the Final Destruction" December 29, 1890)
  • Certainly that pleased Nebuchadnezzar, and it must have seemed to him an eminently suitable symbol -- that of headship and dazzling splendor. In this second year of his reign he was possibly only planning the work, but his lavish building program of the palace and temple areas eventually remade Babylon into a worthy capital of the golden age of a great civilization. He added to, if he did not indeed introduce, the lavish use of gold in the sanctuaries, which was possible for the use of the very adjective "golden" by the contemporary Jewish prophet Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 51:7; Isaiah 14:4). A century and a half later the Greek poet Aeschylus (d. 456 B.C.), similarly wrote of Babylon as "teeming with gold," and Herodotus (d. c. 424 B.C.) was amazed at the lavishness of the gold within the sanctuary of Bel-Marduk.... Nebuchadnezzar declared, in one of his own inscriptions, that nothing was too precious to be bestowed upon his beloved Babylon. Fitly, then did the symbolic head of gold stand for Babylon, the glittering head of the prophetic pageant of nations from Nebuchadnezzar's day onward. (Froom 41)