Daniel 2 & 7 – A Comparison
Historically, and in many Bible commentaries, Daniel 7 has been “laid upon” Daniels interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter 2. In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream there are also four kingdoms appearing. Many have therefore drawn the conclusion that these kingdoms are exactly the same as the four kingdoms and beasts in chapter 7. From this understanding, the fourth kingdom in Daniel 2, and the fourth beast in Daniel 7, are both to be understood as the Roman Empire. As we will see, this might not be the case.
First, Daniel is actually living in the Babylonian kingdom when he receives his dream. Why should the dream describe an existing kingdom when the angel appearing in the dream (Daniel 7:16) told him that the dream described “four kings, which shall arise out of the earth”.
Following this way of thinking, the first beast may not be the Babylonian, but the Medio-Persian, the second: the Greek, the third: the Roman, and the fourth: something else. In my opinion, this way of thinking opens up for some interesting perspectives.
- The first beast in Daniel 7 is a lion that receives a man’s heart. This fits very well into what we know about the Medio-Persian kingdom, where Cyrus and other Persian kings gave support and allowance for Ezra and Nehemiah to build up Jerusalem and the temple. Many scholars say that one of the most known symbols for the ancient Babylon is a lion, and this is quitetrue. However, the lion was also one of ancient Iran’s most enduring mythological icons as well as an ancient symbol of Iranian identity. (As also seen in the Iranian flag)
- The aggressive bear could symbolize Alexander the Great and his kingdom “eating both east and west”, as he expanded aggressively, until the Roman Empire overcame the Greek in 27 BC.
- The leopard with the four wings and the four heads fits quite well with the Roman Empire. It expanded fast like a leopard with wings and great power (dominion was given to it), and it was ruled, for a period of time, by four Caesars as it was divided into four administrative areas: The tetrarchy (Praefectura Galliarum, Praefectura Italiae, Praefectura Illyricum, and Praefectura Orientis).
- The fourth beast with 10 horns is described as a different kingdom; it “shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces” (v.23). The Roman Empire covered a lot of the earth, but by far not the whole earth, and it did not break everything in pieces, as will be the case with the fourth beast.
On this basis, and also based on other things written in this book, I must conclude that I don’t think that the fourth beast in Daniel chapter 7, has anything to do with the Roman Empire as such, not even a “re-born” version. We will come back to this later on in this book.
Meanwhile, let us keep the main focus of Daniel 7 close to our hearts: that the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, has, and will be given the final everlasting kingdom from the Ancient of Days, a kingdom everyone who believes in what Jesus Christ has done to establish this kingdom on the cross, will be a part of, forever!