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You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. This image's head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. (Daniel 2:31–35, NKJV)


As required by the king, Daniel reveals the dream in question. The dream is described in the above text. I suggested in the previous chapter that Nebuchadnezzar probably knew what the dream was. If he had forgotten the dream he would have been subjected to the chicanery of the Chadleans and at their mercy for any meaningful interpretation. By requiring them to reveal the dream, he assured himself that the truth would be brought forward and the real interpretation given him. Nebuchadnezzar was particularly concerned about the interpretation because he felt that he was involved in at least part of it. Was this dream with its destructive ending a picture of his kingdom and was he going to be destroyed by some other nation”

Upon hearing the dream revealed and explained, Nebuchadnezzar does something quite unusual for such a powerful king. Verse 46: Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face, prostrate before Daniel, and commanded that they should present an offering and incense to him. While the interpretation of the dream may have overwhelmed Nebuchadnezzar, his falling on his face before Daniel is a direct response to the fact that Daniel correctly told him the dream, the thing the Chaldeans said was impossible for anyone other than a god to do. They had said in verse 11: There is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh. The first thought that flashes through the king’s mind is that Daniel must be some kind of a god or divine being. Then, catching himself, he remembers what Daniel had just told him about the “God in heaven who reveals secrets.” He corrects himself in verse 47: Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret. Nebuchadnezzar remained a pagan throughout his life, but his encounters with Daniel brought about a deep respect for the God of Daniel.

After telling the king the dream Daniel immediately interprets it. The king has seen an image that depicts four kingdoms that will rule over the people of Israel until the coming of Messiah. Matthew Henry explains:


This . . . is a history, but it is the history of a prophecy! To the four monarchies, and the concerns of Israel in them, and the kingdom of the Messiah, which should be set up in the world upon the ruins of them. . . . This image represented the kingdoms of the earth that should successively bear rule among the nations and have influence on the affairs of the Jewish church. The four monarchies were not represented by four distinct statues, but by one image, because they were all of one and the same spirit and genius, and all more or less against the church. It was the same power, only lodged in four different nations, the two former lying eastward of Judea, the two latter westward.


The first part of this image is a head of gold, which Daniel says is King Nebuchadnezzar. The second part is the kingdom that will follow Nebuchadnezzar’s, which is made of silver and consists of the chest and arms of the image. The third part of the image follows the silver kingdom and is made of bronze and consists of the belly and thighs. The last part of this image is the legs and feet, which are made of iron and a mixture of iron and clay. This kingdom crushes the kingdoms that precede it to the degree that there was nothing left of them. Finally, an unusual stone strikes the image at its feet destroying the entire image.

Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar that he is the head of gold. Verses 37–38: You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all—you are this head of gold. This head of gold signifies more than just Nebuchadnezzar. He is called a king of kings, meaning he is a universal monarch, the highest king on earth at this time ruling over the largest empire on earth to this time in history. Nebuchadnezzar is identified as the epitome of the empire, the highest point in its existence with all other before him leading up to his glory and all that follow him falling away from his magnificence.

The head in its entirety represents the Babylonian or Chaldean Empire, which was the oldest continuously existing ethnic and cultural identity on earth at this time. What is called Babylon began in the second generation after the Great Flood. Ham, the son of Noah, was one of the survivors of that Flood. Ham had a son named Cush who then had a son named Nimrod. Genesis 10:8–10 relates the history of Nimrod and the founding of his kingdom.


And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.


Some identify Nimrod with Sargon I (the Great), a Semetic leader who, in the Twenty-fourth Century B. C. established his capital, Accad as mentioned in Genesis, in southern Mesopotamia. He conquered the non-Semetic peoples of Sumer and extended his rule from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea. Whether Nimrod and Sargon I are the same person is open to question but the similarities are compelling. As mentioned in Genesis, Nomrod’s kingdom initially consisted of four cities in what is called the land of Shinar. Shinar is the area at the southern end of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers leading to the Persian Gulf. It is part of the Land Between the Rivers, Mesopotamia, which was the region Noah and his family occupied after they left the Ark on Mount Ararat. It was in this land of Shinar where the people built a tower “whose top may reach to heaven,” a multistoried temple-tower or ziggurat, that they intended to serve as a one-world church. It is believed that the top reaching to heaven means that something similar to the signs of the zodiac were to be inscribed on its summit, which would indicate how quickly earth’s population had apostatized after the Great Flood. God intervened by confounding all human languages. The city where this event occurred was Babel (Genesis 11:9), later called Babylon.

Some eighteen centuries later Nebuchadnezzar is the king of Babylon and presides over the golden age of the Empire. “For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory.” God gave Nebuchadnezzar his place of authority in the Babylonian Empire for a specific purpose.  His ascending to the throne was not happenstance or was it just a normal succession; it was the design of God to have Nebuchadnezzar there to enact His judgment against the apostate Israelites.


Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, says the LORD, and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land, against its inhabitants, and against these nations all around, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, a hissing, and perpetual desolations. . . . And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. (Jeremiah 25:9, 11. NKJV)


I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are on the ground, by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and have given it to whom it seemed proper to Me. And now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant; and the beasts of the field I have also given him to serve him. So all nations shall serve him and his son and his son's son, until the time of his land comes; and then many nations and great kings shall make him serve them. (Jeremiah 27:5–7. NKJV)


The Prophet Jeremiah and Nebuchadnezzar were contemporary in history. Jeremiah continuously prophesied to the Israelites that God’s judgment was coming on them and that it would be in their best interest to submit to the Babylonians for the punishment God was sending. Their nation was going to be destroyed and its people sent into exile for seventy years. God calls Nebuchadnezzar His servant in both of the above texts. God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to be powerful and successful in his military campaigns. As ruthless as Nebuchadnezzar could be, once the Israelites were in captivity, God knew that the Israelites could prosper and learn their lesson under his domination.

Jeremiah writes that “all nations shall serve him and his son and his son’s son, until the time of his land comes.” The last expression in the statement does not make sense in common English. It is a literal translation from the Hebrew and it is treated differently but still somewhat ambiguously in many translations and version. The God’s Word version (World Publishing Company, 1995) renders the expression “until Babylon is defeated,” which, unmistakably is the meaning of the expression. From this we are to understand that the golden head of the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream would endure for just three generations of the remaining kings of Babylon.

Nebuchadnezzar, known as Nebuchadnezzar II, reigned from 605–562 B.C. and was the son of Nobopolassar who took control of Babylon from the Assyrians.

Upon the death of Nebuchadnezzar his son, Evil-Morodach, or Amel-Marduk, became king and reigned from 562–560 B.C. It is has been said of him that his life was so disgusting and evil that his brother-in-law conspired against him and put him to death.

Neriglissar, the son-in-law of Nebuchadnezzar and the assassin of Evil-Morodach became king in 560 B.C. and reigned until 556 B. C. He declared war against the Medes in an effort to expand the Empire but was killed in battle against Darius the Mede. His action against the Medes set up the circumstance that lead to the ultimate destruction of the Babylonian Empire.

Labonidus, or Labashi-Marduk, became king upon the death of Neriglissar in 556 B.C. but reigned only nine months. He was so corrupt that his subjects would not tolerate him and rose up and put him to death.

Nabonidus became king in 536 B. C. and reigned until the end of the Empire in 539 B. C. Nabonidus was not popular with the Babylonian priesthood because he worshipped the moon rather than the sun, which was the national god of the Babylonians. He spent ten years of his reign outside Babylon at an important trading city in Arabia by the name of Tayma. He left Babylon in 553 B. C. and left his son, Belshazzar, as co-regent. Under this arrangement, Nabonidus ruled over the Empire and Belshazzar was left in the city of Babylon to defend it. Nabonidus returned to Babylon to lead his army in a campaign against Cyrus the Mede. One October 10, 539 B. C. Nabonidus surrendered to Cyrus and two days later the Persian army overthrew the city of Babylon.

The number of kings was five and there was one co-regent. The prophesy of Jeremiah indicated three generations. While there were five kings, these kings existed in only three generations beginning with Nebuchadnezzar.

Daniel began interpreting the dream by explaining the golden head of the image, which we see was a picture of the Babylonian Empire. Nebuchadnezzar was placed at the head of this Empire by the God of heaven for the purpose God had for him. He was the golden ruler of Babylon and after his death the glory of Babylon quickly diminished until “the time of his land” had come.

The Israelites remained in captivity for seventy years, from the time of Nebuchadnezzar until Babylon was overthrown by the Medes and Persians. Forty-three years of the captivity was under Nebuchadnezzar and the remainder under the corrupt and despicable rule of his successor. The godly man Daniel served all these kings and the co-regent Belshazzar for the full seventy years of the captivity and continued into the reign of the kings of the next empire.