Daniel 2 - Outline of Daniel (Book Notes menu page)
I. Daniel's Chronicles of his Times under Gentile Kings (ch. 1-6)
B. Nebuchadnezzar's pride and conversion -
1. His vision of a multi-metal image (2:1-49)
1. And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar
Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams,
wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him.
2 Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers,
and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans,
for to shew the king his dreams.
So they came and stood before the king.
3 And the king said unto them,
I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream.
in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar...-
The captivity, in which Daniel was taken, occurred in "the first year of Nebuchadnezzar" (cp. Dan 1:1,2; Jer 25:1). This could mean that Nebuchadnezzar's dreams occurred early in the three year period of Daniel's Babylonian education.
     However, the timing is obscured by differences in the way Israel and Babylon reckoned a king's reign. It can be shown from secular history that at the time of Daniel's captivity, Nebuchadnezzar was co-regent with his father, Nabopolassar. A few months later, upon the death of his father, Nebuchadnezzar became king. However, according to Babylonian reckoning, the first year of a king's reign was a "year of ascension." Once the king was fully ascended to the throne, his reign would be counted, with the following year considered as his first. Following this thought, Daniel was taken captive just prior to Nebuchadnezzar's year of ascension. Nebuchadnezzar's dreams came during the second year of his reign, which would have been Daniel's third year of training.
Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams...- lit., "had dreamed dreams"
The dreams may have occurred just prior to the closing events of chapter 1 (ie., Dan 1:18-21).
his spirit was troubled...- Nebuchadnezzar, in his second year as king, was troubled
{ie., disturbed, pushed} by a dream that came as he was pondering his rapid rise to power and the future course of his kingdom.
I have dreamed a dream...- Although he had multiple dreams (v.1),
one dream impressed him as bearing particular significance.
(Note: This was not the first time that the LORD used dreams to speak to gentile kings. Examples: Gen 20:3; 41:1-8)
my spirit was troubled to know the dream.-
Sensing that this dream held meaning of utmost importance, the king was desperate to discover that meaning. Therefore, he turned to his wise men, and spiritual advisors:
  • the magicians {HB=chartom, diviners, writers of occult literature}
  • the astrologers {HB=ashshaph, necromancers, conjurers}
  • the sorcerers {HB=kashaph, sorcerers, users of witchcraft}
  • the Chaldeans {ie., the inhabiters of Chaldea, especially the wisest elders of the land}
Where else could a heathen king turn? These were the intelligentsia, schooled (like Daniel) in all Babylonian wisdom, and (unlike Daniel) with many years of experience. They were the counsellors to whom Nebuchadnezzar turned in making decisions concerning all aspects of his kingdom, including military, economic, scientific and religious matters. These men were like today's university professors and political leaders, full of knowledge and skilled in practical application of that knowledge, but without the knowledge of the LORD and His Word. (These men lacked the resource to provide the king with the answer that he sought. cp. Isa 8:19,20)
4 Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, O king, live for ever:
tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation.
Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack...-
"From 2:4 through 7:28, the book is written in Aramaic, the ancient language of Syria, and substantially identical with Chaldaic, the language of ancient Babylonia. Upon this fact, together with the occurrence of fifteen Persian, and three Greek words, [some sceptics have argued] against the historicity of Daniel, and in favour of a date after the conquest of Palestine by Alexander (B.C. 332). [However, historically, most Hebrew and Christian scholars have considered these facts to be] unanswerable proof of Daniel's authorship of the book. [It seems only logical that Daniel, having been schooled in the language of Babylon as a youth, and having lived most of his life there, would write in the language of the land. Scholars have often noted] that the Chaldaic of Daniel is of great antiquity, as is shown by comparison with that of the Targums [translations of the Hebrew Bible into Aramaic, dating from the time of the Second Temple to the eleventh century A.D.]. The few words of Persian and Greek, in like manner, confirm the writer's residence at a court constantly visited by emissaries from those peoples. It is noteworthy that the Aramaic section is precisely that part of Daniel which most concerned the peoples amongst whom he lived, and to whom a prophecy written in Hebrew would have been unintelligible. The language returns to Hebrew in the predictive portions which have to do with the future of Israel." [Above note is from ScofRB with adaptations in brackets by the editor.]
     Here God is speaking to the gentile world, not just to the nation of Israel. He wants them to know Him as the true Ruler in the affairs of men, and that His Kingdom will supplant the kingdoms of this world. Today, as then, men consider themselves to be in control, and the gentiles disregard the dispersed kingdom of David. Yet, God will bring gentile dominion to an end, for His promises to David are sure (Psa 89:1-4,27,34-37).
tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation.-
This seems like a reasonable request.
5 The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me:
if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof,
ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill.
6 But if ye shew the dream, and the interpretation thereof,
ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honour:
therefore shew me the dream, and the interpretation thereof.
7 They answered again and said,
Let the king tell his servants the dream,
and we will shew the interpretation of it.
8 The king answered and said,
I know of certainty that ye would gain the time,
because ye see the thing is gone from me.
9 But if ye will not make known unto me the dream,
[there is but] one decree for you:
for ye have prepared lying and corrupt words
to speak before me, till the time be changed:
therefore tell me the dream,
and I shall know that ye can shew me the interpretation thereof.
the thing {ie., word, utterance} is gone {ie., proclaimed} from me...-
Rather than saying that he had forgotten the dream, the king is restating his demand:
make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof...-
The king repeats this demand no less than five times in the chapter. The serious consequences for failure, and the generous reward for fulfilling his request, demonstrate that he was very serious in his quest for truth. He refused to tell them the dream, not because he had forgotten it, but in order to test their answer. If they could tell him the dream, he could be assured that their interpretation was valid.
I know of certainty that ye would gain the time,
because ye see the thing {the word} is gone {proclaimed} from me.-
In other words, 'I know you are stalling for time, because you know my decree means capital punishment awaits you.'
for ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me,
til the time be changed {cp. v.21 for the meaning of this phrase}...-
He knew these men were capable of deceiving him with imaginative explanations, continually coming up with new ones, if necessary, until he was no longer king.
10 The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said,
There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king's matter:
therefore [there is] no king, lord, nor ruler, [that] asked such things
at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean.
11 And [it is] a rare thing that the king requireth,
and there is none other that can shew it before the king,
except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.
12 For this cause the king was angry and very furious,
and commanded to destroy all the wise [men] of Babylon.
The wise men pled for their lives with two arguments:
  1. The king's demands are unreasonable.
  2. The king's request would require supernatural revelation (which was supposed to be their area of expertise).
the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon...-
Was Nebuchadnezzar over-reacting due to being a megalomaniac?
Or, had he so completely lost confidence in his spiritual leaders and their system, that he wanted to be rid of them all?
13 And the decree went forth that the wise [men] should be slain;
and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.
14. Then Daniel answered with counsel
{ie., prudence} and wisdom {ie., tact}
to Arioch the captain of the king's guard,
which was gone forth to slay the wise [men] of Babylon:
15 He answered and said to Arioch the king's captain,
Why [is] the decree [so] hasty
{ie., harsh, urgent} from the king?
Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel.
16 Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time,
and that he would shew the king the interpretation.
and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain...-
These men had been schooled in the same wisdom in which the king had lost confidence. The decree, to slay "all" the wise men, included them.
Daniel... desired of the king that he would give him time {ie., appoint a 'season,' as this word is translated in v.21)...-
Unlike the other wise men, Daniel was not stalling for 'time' (v.8, where a different word is used). He asked the king to allow him a set amount of time, after which "he would shew the king the interpretation."
17 Then Daniel went to his house,
and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions:
18 That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret;
that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise [men] of Babylon.
"the God of heaven"...- This phrase is nearly unique to the books of the captivity
(being found most frequently in Ezra, Nehemiah and Daniel). Though the glory of the LORD had departed from Jerusalem, the same God continued to reign from Heaven, over all the earth. This God, as Creator and Ruler of the heavens was also superior to the heavenly bodies which the Chaldeans revered.
that they would desire mercies {compassion} of the God of heaven...-
Just as Daniel could not obtain his request from Nebuchadnezzar apart from his favor, so petitions to the King of Heaven depend upon His mercies, not on the merit of the petitioner(s). Likewise today, the believer approaches "the throne of grace... in time of need," on the merits of our Savior. We come in Jesus' name, through the grace of God extended to us in Him (Heb 4:14-16).
that they should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.-
Daniel and his friends were under a great deal of pressure. The sentence of death was hanging over them as they went to prayer. Yet, we are not told that they prayed unusually hard or long. Instead, it appears that they went to sleep after praying (cp. v.19). With the matter committed to the LORD, they could rest their case with Him (cp. Psa 4:8; 127:2). They were assured, through the events of ch. 1, that their God hears and answers prayer.
     Meanwhile, the magicians, astrologers, and all the other wise men of Babylon must have been laboring overtime in search of an answer for the king. They knew that the secret could only be revealed by "the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh" (v.11), but they had no access to the God of heaven.
19 Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision.
Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.
20 Daniel answered and said,
Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever:
for wisdom and might are his:
21 And he changeth the times and the seasons:
he removeth kings, and setteth up kings:
he giveth wisdom unto the wise,
and knowledge to them that know understanding:
22 He revealeth the deep and secret things:
he knoweth what [is] in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.
23 I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers,
who hast given me wisdom and might,
and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee:
for thou hast [now] made known unto us the king's matter.
Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision.-
Apparently, the LORD gave Daniel a rerun of Nebuchadnezzar's dream.
The terms "dream" and "night vision" sometimes refer to the same phenomenon (cp. Isa 29:7). However, a "dream" is usually received during sleep (v.1), while a "night vision" can refer to revelation received while awake, perhaps during prayer (cp. Dan 7:1,2,13; 8:1).
Blessed be the name of God...-
Daniel, as a man of prayer, watched "in the same with thanksgiving" (Col 4:2).
He could have rushed out immediately to the king, once the answer was obtained. After all, his life and the lives of many others were in danger.
Instead, he worshipped the LORD for:
  • God's Person: "Wisdom and might are His."-
    The 'Name' of God encompasses His Person and Character (cp. Psa 103:1,2; 113:1,2).
    The answer had not come through any ability of Daniel.
  • God's Authority: "He changeth the times and seasons..."-
    This is the essence of the dream's interpretation (as Daniel now knew, and as we will see later in the chapter).
    Daniel's God is in control of human history.
    Gentile kings, and ultimately the Antichrist, think the reins of power are in their hands (cp. Dan 7:25).
    Yet, it is God who governs and who directs the flow of history according to His plan, which He was about to reveal.
  • God's Gifts to men: "wisdom... understanding... revelation..."-
    Daniel offers specific thanksgiving for a specific answer to specific prayer.
    They had asked Him to reveal the king's secret, and He had made known that which was unknowable by any other means (cp. v.10,11; 1Cor 2:10).
O thou God of my fathers...- cp. Gen 31:42
His praise is directed to the God of Israel (not the false gods of Babylon).
who hast made known unto me... what we desired of thee... made known unto us...-
Note the use of the pronouns 'me, we, us.' Although the revelation was given to him, Daniel recognizes that it was not because he had any special merit or power in prayer. Rather, the LORD had mercifully answered His children, who were agreed together in their prayer for wisdom.
24. Therefore Daniel went in unto Arioch,
whom the king had ordained to destroy the wise [men] of Babylon:
he went and said thus unto him; Destroy not the wise [men] of Babylon:
bring me in before the king, and I will shew unto the king the interpretation.
25 Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste,
and said thus unto him, I have found a man of the captives of Judah,
that will make known unto the king the interpretation.
Daniel's message to Arioch: 'Destroy not... I will shew the king the interpretation.'
Daniel told this officer that he had the answer which the king desired. He did so humbly, and fully aware that it was not because of his wisdom, but by the mercies of the only wise God that the secret had been revealed to him (v.20-23).
Arioch's message to the king:
'I have found {discovered} a man... that will make known unto the king the interpretation.'
The natural man takes credit to himself for that which the spiritual man gives credit to God alone.
26 The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name [was] Belteshazzar,
Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen,
and the interpretation thereof?
27 Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said,
The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise [men],
the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king;
28 But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets,
and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days.
Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these;
Art thou able to make known... the dream... and the interpretation thereof?-
The king seems sceptical. Could this young, inexperienced wise-man do what his elders could not? He repeats the two elements of his demand: the dream and the interpretation.
Daniel answered...- He gives credit where credit is due. (cp. Gen 41:16)
No wise man, including the one standing before you, can reveal the king's matter.
But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets...-
Thus Daniel has the opportunity to introduce a heathen king to the true and living God (cp. Psa 119:46; Mat 10:18-20).
...and maketh known to king Nebuchadnezzar...- This God is a personal God,
who communicates his message personally to men.
...what shall be in the latter days...- This God knows the questions of your heart,
and wants you to know the answers. (As v.29 shows, prior to his dream, Nebuchadnezzar had been pondering "what shall come to pass hereafter.")
     Note 1: "The latter {HB='acariyth'} days" (lit., "in the end of the days") is a technical term. (In the OT, wherever the phrase 'the last days' appears in the KJV, the Hebrew phrase is identical to 'the latter days.') "The latter days" mark the closing moments of the "Times of the Gentiles" (Luk 21:24) including the great Tribulation which precedes the Messiah's Kingdom. See the use of this expression in Jer 23:20; 30:24; 48:47; 49:39; Eze 38:16; Hos 3:5; Mic 4:1 (where 'the last days' should read 'the latter days').
     Note 2: The OT term 'the latter days' (and 'the last days' in KJV) must not be confused with similar sounding NT terms: 'the latter times' (in 1Tim 4:1) and 'the last days' (eg., 2Tim 3:1), are nearly synonymous terms, which both refer to the Church Age.
29 As for thee, O king,
thy thoughts came [into thy mind] upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter:
and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass.
as for thee... He that revealeth secrets maketh known...-
-- the king's thoughts upon his bed...- (A) secret matter's on the king's heart.
-- what shall come to pass...- (B) secret matters of God's purposes.
At last, the thoughts that had so troubled him (v.3) were about to be answered.
30 But as for me,
this secret is not revealed to me for [any] wisdom that I have more than any living,
but for [their] sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king,
and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.
as for me... this secret is not made known... for any wisdom that I {Daniel} have...
but... [the secret is made known]... for their sakes {HB=debrah, intent, cause} that...
ie., for the express purpose [of the God in heaven]:
  • to make known the interpretation to the king,
  • that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.
    God desired to show Nebuchadnezzar more than just the answer to his questions about the future. In time, He would enable him to perceive the error of the thoughts of his own heart, and to turn, in repentance, to the God of Heaven (cp. Jer 17:9,10; Dan 4:37).
31. Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image.
This great image, whose brightness [was] excellent, stood before thee;
and the form thereof [was] terrible.
32 This image's head [was] of fine gold,
his breast and his arms of silver,
his belly and his thighs of brass,
33 His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
34 Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands,
which smote the image upon his feet [that were] of iron and clay,
and brake them to pieces.
35 Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold,
broken to pieces together,
and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors;
and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them:
and the stone that smote the image
became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image...- Upon hearing those words,
the king must have moved forward on his throne, in rapt attention, and amazement: 'That is it. This is the dream that I saw.'
This great image... excellent {extreme, extraordinary}... terrible {inspiring terror}...-
God speaks to the heathen king in language that he can understand. This great image, although not an idol to be worshipped, conveyed the message of the living God to a man whose concept of divinity was limited to the glory of idolatrous images. Babylon was the seat and source of idolatry (from the time of Nimrod). As the great king Nebuchadnezzar cowered before the great size, brilliance and terrifying appearance of this image, he must have been impressed that it conveyed a message that overshadowed him and the greatness of his kingdom.
36 This [is] the dream;
and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.
37 Thou, O king, [art] a king of kings:
for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
38 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.
this is the dream; and we {Daniel and the God of heaven} will tell the interpretation thereof...-
Nebuchadnezzar, knowing that the dream that Daniel revealed was truly his dream, was assured of the truth of the interpretation.
Thou, O king, art a king of kings {cp. Eze 26:7}: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom...-
Nebuchadnezzar had risen rapidly to great power (this was only his second year as king). Yet, this was not his doing. The God of heaven had taken the preeminence, formerly reserved for Israel and the Davidic kingdom (Deu 32:8,9; Psa 89:3-4,35-36; 132:11-18), and given it, temporarily, to Nebuchadnezzar, because of the sin of Israel (Jer 21:7; 22:25; Ezr 5:12).
     Furthermore, even beyond Nebuchadnezzar's time, God was placing world dominion in the hands of gentile nations for an extended period. Thus, the reign of Nebuchadnezzar marks the beginning of "the Times of the Gentiles" (Luk 21:24).
thou art this head of gold.- The vision revealed the course of gentile dominion, as man sees it.
Nebuchadnezzar viewed the external appearances that meet the eye: great glory, impressive power, strength and stature. However, hidden behind the glorious exterior, man's dominion is permeated with internal corruption. With the passage of time, the innate weakness and deterioration of the system will become more evident, as indicated by the declining value of the dissimilar metals, as the eye moves down from head to toe.
     Like the idols with which Nebuchadnezzar was familiar, this image also stands unmoving. It has no life and no real power within itself. It looks awesome, but like any idol, it is nothing... emptiness... vanity. The true character of gentile dominion will be revealed when it is blown away like chaff at the coming of the "stone cut out without hands" (v.34,35).
     Meanwhile, Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian empire (605-539 BC) represent the beginning and the pinnacle of gentile dominion. v.37; cp. Jer 27:5-11; Dan 5:18,19
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.
Each successive empire is inferior to that which preceded it. In its final form, gentile world dominion will reach its lowest and weakest point: the feet of iron mixed with clay. By the way, that is where we are today.
     [NOTE: In the comments below, the various sections of the image are identified with the major empires of history. This identification will become more evident in chapters 7-8. See the related diagram, below. Note also that dates shown are approximate, and may reflect the period of dominion over the land of Israel.]
  • The second kingdom, with two arms of silver (v.32b), represents the Medo-Persian empire (539-332 BC) which displaced Babylon (Dan 5:28). Following his service to the king of Babylon, Daniel continued his administrative role under this second empire (Dan 6:28).
  • The third kingdom, with torso and thighs of brass (v.32c), represents the Graeco-Macedonian empire of Alexander and his successors (332-32 BC).
which shall bear rule over all the earth.- The common characteristic of each successive empire is:
The dominion of their system over the known world (cp. v.39). Thus, the inferiority of successive kingdoms does not apply to the extent of their geographic dominion. On the contrary, the later empires would occupy much more territory than did the Babylonian empire.
40 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.
41 And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron,
the kingdom shall be divided;
but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron,
forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.
42 And [as] the toes of the feet [were] part of iron, and part of clay,
[so] the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.
43 And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay,
they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men:
but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
the fourth kingdom...- is the Roman empire, including the evolution of its system, over many years.
This kingdom has the greatest span in history (32 BC to a yet future date), just as the legs are the longest parts of the body. Although the empire fell centuries ago, the Roman influence continues to the present, in the republican form of goverment employed by western nations and certain worldwide governing bodies (eg., the United Nations), and also, in the ubiquitous political power of the Roman Catholic Church.
     Notice also that much more text is devoted to this final form of gentile world dominion. The previous kingdoms are mentioned briefly, with two or three combined into a single verse (v.32,39), whereas more than four verses view the legs and feet of iron. Remember, the message to Nebuchadnezzar was to reveal "what shall be in the latter days" (v.28). Therefore, the interpretation focuses on the kingdom that will be present at the close of the Times of the Gentiles.
...strong {mighty} as iron...- This kingdom is characterized by formidable military power.
...to subdue... break... and bruise {crush}-
Here is the terrible fruit of this great power, even though the rulers may intend to strengthen and build nations, and to secure "peace and safety." (cp. 1The 5:3)
     While Gentile world dominion displays increasingly great military power, it is marked by progressive internal weakness, as depicted by the multi-faceted deterioration of Nebuchadnezzar's image:
  1. The declining value and quality of the metals: gold, silver, brass, iron.
    Note that as these metals (and their corresponding kingdoms) decline in 'fineness,' they increase in strength {military and economic}, until the fourth is "strong as iron." The increasing strength also corresponds to increasing brittleness of the metals, with the resulting divisions and fragmentation of the image (point 4 below).
  2. The declining specific gravity of these metals.
    Each successive empire has less 'weight' or 'substance' than that which preceded it.
  3. The position of each metal: The head has more honor than the feet.
  4. The division of sovereignty:
    1. There was one head: an emperor with absolute sovereignty.
    2. Successive kingdoms are divided between rulers:
      two arms, two thighs, two legs, ten toes.
    3. In contrast, observe that, when all is said and done, there is but one Stone, whose dominion will be absolute.
...iron mixed with clay...- The two substances are 'mixed,' but do not 'cling' to one another.
The absolute strength of the imperial form of government is diluted by democracy and further embrittled by diversity. The clay represents the common man (for man was formed from clay, cp. Gen 2:7; Job 10:9; 33:6). But according to the words used, the clay is not raw and moldable, but rather, like pottery, hard, set, and breakable (perhaps descriptive of clashing cultures). These elements characterize our present broken world, where popular uprisings, against authoritarian government, are paralyzed by political divisions between people seeking democracy.
...the kingdom shall be divided...- There are multiple types of division in view:
  • The division of power into two legs: the Eastern and Western Roman empires.
  • The division of power between emperor and people (iron and clay).
    The union of dissimilar pieces within the feet may also depict the relatively recent attempt to unite all nations in a body organized under Roman principles of governance (ie., the United Nations).
  • The division of power between the emperor and ten toes.
    These are ten kings (v.44) who will share power with the Antichrist during the Tribulation period (cp. Rev 17:12; Dan 7:24).
       Who are these ten kings?
    Bible scholars have made numerous speculative suggestions, including...
    • ten member nations in the European Union.
      [However, as of October 2019, there were 28 EU member nations.]
    • ten primary nations which influence the world's economy (ie., the G-7 enlarged).
    • ten political/economic regions, encompassing the whole world,
      to facilitate a unified world government (as outlined in 1975 by "the Club of Rome" publication "Mankind at the Turning Point"). Elite political and religious leaders are setting the stage for this scenario.
    However, as stated in Rev 17:12, the reign of these ten kings is for "one hour" {a specific brief period} in association with the Antichrist. Therefore, it is likely that their identity will remain hidden until the time when the Antichrist is revealed.
44 And in the days of these kings
shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed:
and the kingdom shall not be left to other people,
[but] it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
45 Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands,
and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold;
the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter:
and the dream [is] certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
the stone... cut out of the mountain without hands...
is the Lord Jesus Christ (Mat 21:44; 1Cor 3:11; 1Pet 2:6-8)
  • The Mountain, from which He is 'cut' (or, 'quarried'), is the One whose dominion is over all.
    The Stone proceeds out from the God of heaven, "without hands," that is, completely apart from the kingdoms, skill, wisdom or work of mankind (cp. Mark 14:58; Heb 9:11).
    In the previous use of the word for 'hand' the superiority of God's servants was shown to be 'ten times better' than other men (Dan 1:20, lit., 'ten hands better'). But the superiority of One, who is One with God, cannot be estimated
  • The Stone is a living stone, which grows into a great mountain (ie., becoming the dominant power) that fills the whole earth (v.35; Mic 4:1,2).
in the days of these kings {ie., the ten toes} shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom...-
Christ's kingdom will be established suddenly, at the end of the age, at His second coming. (This passage destroys the notion, taught by many, that the church is gradually spreading Christ's kingdom throughout the world today, making it a better place, suitable for His return.) Just as Christ's first coming was not brought about by man's hands, so, His Kingdom will not be established by men (cp. Heb 11:10).
...but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms.-
The successive kingdoms of Gentile world dominion will be "broken 'together' {lit., as one, at once}" (v.35).
Christ's Kingdom will not be established apart from the total destruction of the kingdoms of this world. He will destroy them at His coming. (Rev 19:11-21; Zech 14:1-3; Joel 3:2,9-16; Isa 34:1-8; Psalm 2)
But "of His kingdom there shall be no end" (Isa 9:7; Luk 1:33).
a kingdom which shall never be destroyed:
and the kingdom shall not be left to other people... and it shall stand for ever.-
Since Christ's kingdom will never end, there will be no succeeding kingdom. According to Revelation ch. 20-22, Christ's Kingdom will be established on earth for a thousand years, and will continue eternally in the new heaven and new earth.
46. Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel,
and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him.
47 The king answered unto Daniel, and said,
Of a truth [it is], that your God [is] a God of gods, and a Lord of kings,
and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.
Nebuchadnezzar, recognizing this vision and its interpretation as a supernatural message, falls on his face to worship Daniel, the visible representative of the unseen true God.
     It may be that, between v.46 and v.47, Daniel attempted to redirect the king's worship from himself to the God of heaven. In response, "the king answered unto Daniel... 'Your God is a God of gods...'" (v.47). Up to this time, his religion has been focused on the external and superficial glories of idols, which are no gods. But now, his spiritual darkness is beginning to lift as he gets a glimpse of the living God. In the following chapters, Nebuchadnezzar's understanding grows. Here, he merely acknowledges the God of Daniel, calling Him "your God." As time goes on, this God continues drawing Nebuchadnezzar, such that, in the end, he will worship the King of heaven from his own heart (Dan 4:37).
48 Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts,
and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon,
and chief of the governors over all the wise [men] of Babylon.
49 Then Daniel requested of the king,
and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
over the affairs of the province of Babylon:
but Daniel [sat] in the gate of the king.
Then the king made Daniel a great man...- in fulfillment of his promise of reward (v.6)
...ruler over the whole province of Babylon...- He was 'the prime minister' under the king.
To fulfill this role, Daniel requested the assistance of his trusted, like minded friends, who were placed over "the affairs" {ie., the administration} of the kingdom. Their roles may have been similar to modern day secretaries of agriculture, health, finance, education, etc.
...but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.- Daniel sat in the place of authority and judgment,
as the full representative of the king, in the position occupied by the king when he was present.
     But above that privilege and responsibility, Daniel was also a representative of the Great King, the God who rules over all from Heaven, and whose will will be done on earth when His Kingdom comes to displace the kingdoms of this world.
     By the way, believer, regardless of your station in life, you are His representative, too.

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