Daniel 2:40 Index
"'And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.'"
Resource Material

"And the fourth kingdom..."

  • It is obvious that the kingdom that succeeded the divided remnants of the Macedonian Empire of Alexander was what gibbon has aptly called the "iron monarchy" of Rome, though it was not a monarchy at the time it first became the leading world power. About 500 B.C. the Roman state became a republic, and remained a republic for nearly 500 years. By 265 B.C. all Italy was under Roman control. By 200 B.C. Rome had emerged victorious form the life-and-death struggle with her powerful North African rival Carthage (originally a Phoenician colony). henceforth Rome was mistress of the western Mediterranean, and more powerful than any of the states in the east, although she had not yet come to grips with them. From then on Rome first dominated and then absorbed, in turn, the three surviving kingdoms of Alexander's successors, and thus became the next great world power after Alexander's. This forth empire was the longest lived and most extensive of the four, stretching in the 2nd Christian century from Britain to the Euphrates. (4BC 774-775)
  • What kingdom succeeded Greece in the empire of the world, for the legs of iron denote the fourth kingdom in the series? The testimony of history is full and explicit on this point. One kingdom did this, and one only, and that was Rome. It conquered Grecia; it subdued all things; like iron, it broke in pieces and bruised. (US 54)
  • Says Bishop Newton: "The four different metals must signify four different nations: and as the gold signified the Babylonians, and the silver the Persians, and the brass the Macedonians; so the iron cannot signify the Macedonians again, but must necessarily denote some other nation: and we will venture to say that there is not a nation upon earth, to which this description is applicable, but the Romans." (Thomas Newton, Dissertations on the Prophecies, Vol. 1, p. 240) (US 54)
  • Gibbon, following the symbolic imagery of Daniel, thus describes this empire: "The arms of the Republic, sometimes vanquished in battle, always victorious in war, advanced with rapid steps to the Euphrates, the Danube, the Rhine, and the ocean; and the images of gold, or silver, or brass, that might serve to represent the nations and their kings, were successively broken by the iron monarchy of Rome." (Edward Gibbons, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. III, general observations following chapter 38, page 634) (US 54-55)
  • At the opening of the Christian Era, this empire took in the whole south of Europe, France, England, the greater part of the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the south of Germany, Hungary, Turkey, and Greece, not to speak of its possessions in Asia and Africa. Well therefore may Gibbon say of it: "The empire of the Romans filled the world, and when that empire fell into the hands of a single person, the world became a safe and dreary prison for his enemies.... To resist was fatal, and it was impossible to fly." (Ibid., Vol I, chapter 3, pp.99, 100) (US 55)

"...strong as iron..."

  • Rome defeated Greece and ruled longer than any other power. This power controlled the world from 168 B.C., until A.D. 476. Historians refer to this kingdom as the "iron monarchy" (Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire). All that has been reconstructed of Roman history confirms this description. Rome won her territory by the force or the fear of armed might. She first intervened in international affairs in a struggle for hi life against Carthage, and was drawn into war after war. She crushed one opponent after another and finally became the aggressive and able conqueror of the Mediterranean World and Western Europe. At the beginning of the Christian Era, and a little later, the iron might of the Roman legions stood in back of the Pax Romana -- the Roman peace. At the time Rome was the largest and strongest empire the world had seen. Jesus was born during this reign. (KC 39)
  • It will be noticed that at first the kingdom is described unqualifiedly as strong as iron. This was the period of its strength, during which it has been likened to a mighty colossus bestriding the nations, conquering everything, and giving laws to the world. But this was not to continue. (US 55)

"...shall it break in pieces..."

  • All that we have been able to reconstruct of Roman history confirms this description. Rome won her territory by the force or the fear of her armed might. At first she intervened in international affairs in a struggle for her life against her rival, Carthage, and was drawn into war after war. Then, crushing one opponent after another, she finally became the aggressive, irresistible conqueror of the Mediterranean world and Western Europe. At the beginning of the Christian Era and a little later, the iron might of the Roman legions stood back of the Pax Romana -- the Roman peace. Rome was the largest and strongest empire the world had hitherto known. (4BC 775)
  • (Daniel) 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 "Iron Monarchy." -- Though it is possible that Nebuchadnezzar saw bronze-clad Greeks in his western campaigns, it is not to be expected that he would recognize the next metal, iron, for the world power which succeeded that of Alexander was only an infant city-state in the sixth century B.C. By the time Roman military strength showed the fitness of iron as a vivid description of Rome's basic characteristic, bronze weapons were already sung by Roman poets as belonging to olden times. The distinctive Roman weapon was the iron-headed pilum (the pike, or javelin). But the chief characteristics which later made both Jews and Christians identify iron with Rome was its superior strength; "strong as iron; forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things." (Froom 43)