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

"And after thee..." (Daniel 2:32)

  • Nebuchadnezzar reigned forty-three years, and was succeeded by the following rulers: His son, Evil-Merodach, two years; Neriglissar, his son-in-law, four years; Laborosoarchod, Neriglissar's son, nine months, which, being less than one year, is not counted in the canon of Ptolemy; and lastly Nabonidus, whose son, Belshazzar, grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, was associate with him on the throne. (US 44)
  • FALL OF BABYLON: In the first year of Neriglissar, only two years after the death of Nebuchadnezzar, broke out that fatal war between the Babylonians and the Medes, which resulted in the overthrow of the Babylonian kingdom. Cyaxares, king of the Medes, who is called "Darius" in (Daniel 5:31), summoned to his aid his nephew Cyrus of the Persian line. The war was prosecuted with uninterrupted success by the Medes and Persians, until in the eighteenth year of Nabonidus (the third year of his son Belshazzar), Cyrus laid siege to Babylon, the only city in all the East which then held out against him. The Babylonians gathered within their seemingly impregnable walls, with provision on hand for twenty years, and land within the limits of their broad city sufficient to furnish food for the inhabitants and garrison for an indefinite period.... In their feeling of security lay the source of their danger. Cyrus resolved to accomplish by stratagem what he could not effect by force. Learning of the approach of an annual festival in which the whole city would be given up to mirth and revelry, he fixed upon that day as the time to carry his purpose into execution. (US 44-45)
  • There was no entrance for him into that city unless he could find it where the River Euphrates entered and emerged, as it passed under the walls. He resolved to make the channel of the river his highway into the stronghold of his enemy. To do this, the water must be turned aside from its channel through the city. For this purpose, on the evening of the feast day... he detailed one body of soldiers to turn the river at a given hour into a large artificial lake a short distance above the city; another to take their station at the point where the river entered the city; and a third to take a position fifteen miles below, where the river emerged from the city. The two latter bodies were instructed to enter the channel as soon as they found the river fordable, and in the darkness of the night explore their way beneath the walls, and press on to the palace of the king where they were to surprise and kill the guards, and capture or slay the king. When the water was turned into the lake, the river soon became shallow enough to ford, and the soldiers followed its channel into the heart of the city of Babylon. (US 45-47)
  • But all this would have been in vain, had not the whole city given itself over on that eventful night to the most abandoned carelessness and presumption, a state of things upon which Cyrus calculated largely for the carrying out of his purpose. On each side of the river through the entire length of the city were walls of great height, and of equal thickness with the outer walls. In these walls were huge gates of brass, which, when closed and guarded, debarred all entrance from the river bed to any of the streets that crossed the river. Had the gates been closed at this time, the soldiers of Cyrus might have marched into the city along the river bed, and then marched out again, for all that they could have been able to accomplish toward the subjugation of the place. (US 47)
  • But in the drunken revelry of that fatal night, these river gates were left open, as had been foretold by the prophet Isaiah years before in these words: "Thus saith the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two-leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut." (Isaiah 45:1). The entrance of the Persian soldiers was not perceived. Many a cheek would have paled with terror, had the sudden going down of the river been noticed, and its fearful import understood. Many a tongue would have spread wild alarm through the city, had the dark forms of armed foes been seen stealthily treading their way to the citadel of their supposed security. But no one noticed the sudden subsidence of the waters of the river; no one saw the entrance of the Persian warriors; no one took care that the river gates should be closed and guarded; no one cared for aught but to see how deeply and recklessly he could plunge into the wild debauch. That night's dissipation cost the Babylonians their kingdom and their freedom. They went to their brutish revelry subjects of the king of Babylon; they awoke from it slaves to the king of Persia. (US 47-48)
  • The soldiers of Cyrus first made known their presence in the city by falling upon the royal guards in the vestibule of the palace of the king. Belshazzar soon became aware of the cause of the disturbance, and died fighting for his life. This feast of Belshazzar is described (Daniel 5), and the scene closes with the simple record, "In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old." The historian Prideaux says: "Darius the Mede, that is, Cyaxares, the uncle of Cyrus, took the kingdom; for Cyrus allowed him the title of all his conquests as long as he lived." (US 48)
  • Thus the first empire, symbolized by the head of gold of the great image, came to an ignoble end. It would naturally be supposed that the conqueror, becoming possessed of so noble a city as Babylon, far surpassing anything else in the world, would have taken it as the seat of his empire, and maintained it in its splendor. But God had said that that city should become a heap, and the habitation of the beasts of the desert; that its houses should be full of doleful creatures; that the wild beasts of the islands should cry in its desolate dwellings, and dragons in its pleasant palaces. (Isaiah 13:19-22). It must first be deserted. Cyrus established second capital at Susa, a celebrated city in the province of Elam, east from Babylon, on the banks of the River Choaspes, a branch of the Tigris. This was probably done in the first year of his sole reign. (US 48-49)
  • The pride of the Babylonians being particularly provoked by this act, in the fifth year of Darius Hystaspes (517 B.C.), they rose in rebellion and brought upon themselves again the whole strength of the Persian Empire. The city was once more taken by stratagem. Darius took away the brazen gates of the city, and beat down the walls from two hundred cubits to fifty cubits. This was the beginning of its destruction. By this act, it was left exposed to the ravages of every hostile band. Xerxes, on his return from Greece, plundered the temple of Belus of its immense wealth, and then laid the lofty structure in ruins. Alexander the Great endeavored to rebuild it, but after employing ten thousand men two months to clear away the rubbish, he died from excessive drunkenness and debauchery, and the work was suspended. In the year 294 B.C., Seleucus Nicator built the city of New Babylon in the neighborhood of the old city, and took much of the material and many of the inhabitants of the old city, to build up and people the new. Now almost exhausted of inhabitants, neglect and decay were telling fearfully upon the ancient capital. The violence of Parthian princes hastened its ruin. About the end of the fourth century, it was used by the Persian kings as an enclosure for wild beasts. At the end of the twelfth century, according to a celebrated traveler, the few remaining ruins of Nebuchadnezzar's palace were so full of serpents and venomous reptiles that hey could not be closely inspected without great danger. And today scarcely enough even of the ruins is left to make the spot where once stood the largest, richest, and proudest city of the ancient world.... Thus the ruin of great Babylon shows us how accurately God fulfills His word, and makes the doubts of skepticism appear like willful blindness. (US 49)
  • "After thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee," The use of the word "kingdom" here, shows that kingdoms, and not particular kings, are represented by the different parts of this image. Hence when it was said to Nebuchadnezzar, "Thou art this head of gold," although the personal pronoun was used, the kingdom not the king himself was meant. (US 49-51)
  • In the annals of human history, the growth of nations, the rise and fall of empires, appear as if dependent on the will and prowess of man; the shaping of events seems, to a great degree, to be determined by his power, ambition, or caprice. But in the word of God the curtain is drawn aside, and we behold, above, behind, and through all the play and counterplay of human interest and power and passions, the agencies of the All-merciful One, silently, patiently working out the counsels of His own will... Hundreds of years before certain nations came upon the stage of action, the Omniscient One looked down the ages and predicted the rise and fall of the universal kingdoms. God declared to Nebuchadnezzar that the kingdom of Babylon should fall, and a second kingdom would arise, which also would have its period of trial. Failing to exalt the true God, its glory would fade, and a third kingdom would occupy its place. This also would pass away; and a fourth, strong as iron, would subdue the nations of the world... Had the rulers of Babylon — that richest of all earthly kingdoms—kept always before them the fear of Jehovah, they would have been given wisdom and power which would have bound them to Him and kept them strong. But they made God their refuge only when harassed and perplexed. At such times, failing to find help in their great men, they sought it from men like Daniel — men who they knew honored the living God and were honored by Him. To these men they appealed to unravel the mysteries of Providence; for though the rulers of proud Babylon were men of the highest intellect, they had separated themselves so far from God by transgression that they could not understand the revelations and the warnings given them concerning the future. In the history of nations the student of God's word may behold the literal fulfillment of divine prophecy. Babylon, shattered and broken at last, passed away because in prosperity its rulers had regarded themselves as independent of God, and had ascribed the glory of their kingdom to human achievement. The Medo-Persian realm was visited by the wrath of Heaven because in it God's law had been trampled underfoot. The fear of the Lord had found no place in the hearts of the vast majority of the people. Wickedness, blasphemy, and corruption prevailed. The kingdoms that followed were even more base and corrupt; and these sank lower and still lower in the scale of moral worth.... The power exercised by every ruler on the earth is Heaven-imparted; and upon his use of the power thus bestowed, his success depends. To each the word of the divine Watcher is, “I girded thee, though thou hast not known Me.” (Isaiah 45:5). And to each the words spoken to Nebuchadnezzar of old are the lesson of life: “Break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor: if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.” (Daniel 4:27)....To understand these things,—to understand that “righteousness exalteth a nation;” that “the throne is established by righteousness,” and “upholden by mercy;” to recognize the outworking of these principles in the manifestation of His power who “removeth kings, and setteth up kings,”—this is to understand the philosophy of history. (Proverbs 14:34; 16:12; Proverbs 20:28; Daniel 2:21).... 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. (PK 499-500, 501-502)
  • When the empire of Babylon was so strong and its influence so far-reaching that seemingly the most powerful foe could not take its scepter, Daniel, a man inspired by God, prophesied that it would pass away, notwithstanding its apparent magnificence, and that a second would succeed it. He prophesied also that the second empire would be succeeded by the third, and that a fourth empire should arise, more fierce, more determined, and more powerful than any kingdom that had preceded it. As strong as iron, this kingdom would subdue and break in pieces all the nations of the world. (The Review and Herald article "Loyalty or Disloyalty?" February 6, 1900)
  • The image revealed to Nebuchadnezzar, while representing the deterioration of the kingdoms of the earth in power and glory, also fitly represents the deterioration of religion and morality among the people of these kingdoms. As nations forget God, in like proportion they become weak morally... Babylon passed away because in her prosperity she forgot God, and ascribed the glory of her prosperity to human achievement... The Medo-Persian kingdom was visited by the wrath of heaven because in this kingdom God's law was trampled under foot. The fear of the Lord found no place in the hearts of the people. The prevailing influences in Medo-Persia were wickedness, blasphemy, and corruption... The kingdoms that followed were even more base and corrupt. They deteriorated because they cast off their allegiance to God. As they forgot Him, they sank lower and still lower in the scale of moral value (The Youth's Instructor article "Lessons From the Life of Daniel #12" September 22, 1903).
  • Every nation that has come upon the stage of action has been permitted to occupy its place on the earth, that the fact might be determined whether it would fulfill the purposes of the Watcher and the Holy One. Prophecy has traced the rise and progress of the world's great empires — Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. With each of these, as with the nations of less power, history has repeated itself. Each has had its period of test; each has failed, its glory faded, its power departed... While nations have rejected God's principles, and in this rejection have wrought their own ruin, yet a divine, overruling purpose has manifestly been at work throughout the ages. It was this that the prophet Ezekiel saw in the wonderful representation given him during his exile in the land of the Chaldeans, when before his astonished gaze were portrayed the symbols that revealed an overruling Power that has to do with the affairs of earthly rulers. (PK 535)

"...another kingdom inferior to thee..."

  • Just as silver is inferior to gold, so the next kingdom would be inferior to Babylon. Babylon was overthrown by Medo-Persia under the leadership of Cyrus and fell in 539 B.C. God mentioned Cyrus by name a hundred years before he was born, and also described how he would overthrow the city of Babylon (Isaiah 45:1). This dramatic episode is related in Daniel 5. (KC 37)
  • As silver is inferior to gold, the Medo-Persian Empire was inferior to the Neo-Babylonian Empire.... As we contrast the two kingdoms we find that thought the latter covered more territory, it certainly was inferior in luxury and magnificence. The Median and Persian conquerors adopted the culture of the complex Babylonian civilization, for their own was far less developed. (4BC 773)
  • This second kingdom of Daniel's prophecy is sometimes called the Medo-Persian Empire, because it began as a combination of Media and Persia. It included the older Median Empire and the newer acquisitions of the Persian conqueror Cyrus.... The Median Empire was contemporary with the Neo-Babylonian... Media fell to Cyrus the Persian before Babylon did. In 553 or 550 B.C. Cyrus, who had become king of Persia, defeated Astyages of Media. Thus the formerly subordinate Persians became the dominant power in what had been the Median Empire. Since the Persians were the ruling power from the time of Cyrus on, it is now generally referred to as the Persian Empire. But the older prestige of Media was reflected in the phrase "Medes and Persians".... Years before, under prophetic guidance, the prophet Isaiah had described the work of Cyrus (Isaiah 45:1). This conqueror of Media soon defeated the neighboring tribes and ruled from Ararat in the north to southeastern Babylonia and the Persian Gulf in the south. To round out his empire, he defeated the rich Croesus of Lydia in 547 B.C. and took Babylon by strategy in 539 B.C. Cyrus recognized that the Lord had given him all these kingdoms (2 Chronicles 36:23; Ezra 1:2). (4BC 773)
  • Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom lasted only until the reign of his grandson, when the second or inferior nation represented by the breast and arms of silver came upon the stage of action. (SNH 38)
  • MEDO-PERSIAN EMPIRE: The succeeding kingdom, Medo-Persia, answered to the breast and arms of silver of the great image. It was to be inferior to the preceding kingdom. In what respect inferior? Not in power, for it conquered Babylon. Not in extent, for Cyrus subdued all the East from Aegean Sea to the River Indus, and thus erected a more extensive empire. But it was inferior in wealth, luxury, and magnificence.... Viewed from a Scriptural standpoint, the principal event under the Babylonia Empire was the captivity of the children of Israel; under the Medo-Persian kingdom it was the restoration of Israel to their own land. At the taking of Babylon Cyrus, as an act of courtesy, assigned the first place in the kingdom to his uncle, Darius, in 538 B.C. But two years afterward Darius died, leaving Cyrus sole monarch of the empire. In this year, which closed Israel's seventy years of captivity, Cyrus issued his famous decree for the return of the Jews and the rebuilding of their temple. This was the first installment of the great decree for the restoration and building again of Jerusalem (Ezra 6:14), which was completed in the seventh year of the reign of Artaxerxes, 457 B.C., a date of much importance, as will hereafter be shown. (US 51)
  • After a reign of seven years, Cyrus left the kingdom to his son Cambyses, who reigned seven years and five months, to 522 B.C. Ten monarchs reigned between this time and the year 336 B.C. The year 335 B.C., is set down as the first of Darius Codomannus, the last of the line of the old Persian kings. This man, according to Prideaux, was of noble stature, of goodly person, of the greatest personal valor, and of a mild and generous disposition. It was his ill fortune to have to contend with one who was an agent in the fulfillment of prophecy, and no qualifications, natural or acquired, could make him successful in the unequal contest. Scarcely was he warm upon the throne, ere he found his formidable enemy, Alexander, at the head of the Greek soldiers, preparing to dismount him from it. (US 51-52)
  • The cause and the particulars of the contest between the Greeks and the Persians we leave to histories especially devoted to such matters. Suffice it to say that the deciding point was reached on the field of Arbela in 331 B.C., where the Grecians, though only one to twenty in number as compared with the Persians, won a decisive victory. Alexander became absolute lord of the Persian Empire to an extent never attained by any of its own kings. (US 52)

"...and another third king of..."

  • The successor of the Medo-Persian Empire was the "Greek" (more properly Macedonian or Hellenistic) Empire of Alexander and his successors.... Alexander the Great, inheriting his fathers newly expanded Greco-Macedonian kingdom, set out to extend Macedonian dominion and Greek culture eastward, and conquered the Persian Empire. The prophecy represents the kingdom of Greece as following Persia, because Greece never became united into a kingdom until the formation of the Macedonian Empire, which replaced Persia as the leading world power of that time... The last reigning king of the Persian Empire was Darius III (Codomannus), who was defeated by Alexander at the battles of Granicus (334 B.C.), Issus (333 B.C.), and Arbela, or Gaugamela (331 B.C.). (4BC 773-774)
  • GRECIAN EMPIRE: Few and brief are the inspired words which involved in their fulfillment a succession in world rulership. In the ever-changing political kaleidoscope, Grecia came into the field of vision, to be for a time the all-absorbing object of attention, as the third of what are called the universal empires of the earth. (US 52)
  • After the battle which decided the fate of the empire, Darius endeavored to rally the shattered remnants of his army, and make a stand for his kingdom and his rights. But he could not gather out of all the host of his recently so numerous and well-appointed army a force with which he deemed it prudent to hazard another engagement with the victorious Grecians. Alexander pursued him on the wings of the wind. Time after time Darius barely eluded the grasp of his swiftly following foe. At length three traitors, Bessus, Nabarzanes, and Barsaentes, seized the unfortunate prince, shut him up in a close cart, and fled with him as their prisoner toward Bactria. It was their purpose, if Alexander pursued them , to purchase their own safety by delivering up their king. Hereupon Alexander, learning of the dangerous position of Darius in the hands of the traitors, immediately put himself with the lightest part of his army upon a forced pursuit. After several days' hard march, he came up with the traitors. They urged Darius to mount on horseback for a more speedy flight. Upon his refusing to do this, they gave him several mortal wounds, and left him dying in the cart, while they mounted their steeds and rode away. (US 52-53)
  • When Alexander arrived, he beheld only the lifeless form of the Persian king, who but a few months before was seated upon the throne of universal empire. Disaster, overthrown, and desertion had come suddenly upon Darius. His kingdom had been conquered, his treasure seized, and his family reduced to captivity. Now, brutally slain by the hand of traitors, he lay a bloody corpse in a rude cart. The sight of the melancholy spectacle drew tears from the eyes of even Alexander, familiar though he was with all horrible vicissitudes and bloody scenes of war. Throwing his cloak over the body, he commanded that it be conveyed to the ladies of the Persian royal family who were captives at Susa, and furnished from his own treasury the necessary means for a royal funeral. (US 53)

"...of brass..."

  • That is bronze. The Greek soldiers were noted for their brazen armor. Their helmets, shields, and battle-axes were made of brass. Herodotus tells us that Psamtik I of Egypt saw in invading Greek pirates the fulfillment of an oracle that foretold "men of bronze coming from the sea" (Herodotus 1. 552, 554). (4BC 774)

"...which shall bear rule over all the earth."

  • History records that the rule of Alexander extended over Macedonia, Greece, and the Persian Empire, including Egypt and extending eastward to India. It was the most extensive empire of the ancient world up to that time. Its domination was "over all the earth" in the sense that no power on earth was equal to it, not that it covered the whole world, or even the known world of that time. (4BC 774)
  • The third kingdom to come on the scene of existence was Greece.... Greece would conquer all the nations of the earth. Alexander the Great, with forty-thousand men, faced Darius, whose army numbered one million, on the plains of Arbela. Implementing a new type of warfare Alexander won the battle. The Bible stated that Greece would overthrow Medo-Persia. (Daniel 8:1-8, 20, 21) (KC 39)
  • When Darius died, Alexander saw the field cleared of his last formidable foe. Thenceforward he could spend his time in his own manner, now in the enjoyment of rest and pleasure, and again in the prosecution of some minor conquest. He entered upon a pompous campaign into India, because, according to Grecian fable, Bacchus and Hercules, two sons of Jupiter, whose son he also claimed to be, had done the same. With contemptible arrogance, he claimed for himself divine honors. He gave up conquered cities, freely and unprovoked, to the mercy of his bloodthirsty and licentious soldier. He often murdered his friends and favorites in his drunken frenzies. He encouraged such excessive drinking among his followers that on one occasion twenty of them died as the result of their carousal. At length, having sat through one long drinking spree, he was immediately invited to another, when, after drinking to each of the twenty guests present, he twice drank, says history, incredible as it may seem, the full Herculean cup containing six of our quarts. He was seized with a violent fever, or which he died eleven days later, June 13, 323 B.C., while yet he stood only at the threshold of mature life, in the thirty-second year of his age. (US 53-54)