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,
32. Hujus imaginis caput ex auro bono, 3 pectus ejus et brachia ejus ex argento, venter ejus et femora ejus ex aere, oes.
33. His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
33. Crura ejus ex ferro, 4 pedes ejus partim ex ferro, et partim testa.
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.
34. Videbas, quousque excisus fuit lapis, qui non ex manibus, 5 et percussit imaginem ad pedes qui erant ex ferro et testa, et contrivit eos.
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 thrashing-floors; 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.
35. Tunc contrita sunt simul ferrum, testa, aes, argentum, et aurum: et fuerunt quasi quisquiliae 6 ex area aestivali; et abstulit ea ventus, et. non inventus est locus eorum; et lapis qui percusserat imaginem, fuit in montem magnum, et implevit totam terram.
Although Daniel here records the dream, and does not touch on its interpretation, yet we must not proceed farther without discoursing on the matter itself. When the interpretation is afterwards added, we shall confirm what we have previously said, and amplify as the context may guide us. Here Daniel records how Nebuchadnezzar saw an image consisting of gold, silver, brass, and iron, but its feet were mixed, partly of iron and portly of clay. We have already treated of the name of the "Vision," but I briefly repeat again, -- king Nebuchadnezzar did not see this image here mentioned, with his natural eyes, but it was a specimen of the revelation which he knew with certainty to have been divinely offered to him. Otherwise, he might have thrown off all care, and acted as he pleased; but God held him down in complete torment, until Daniel came as its interpreter.
As to the name, "head," since that monarchy arose first, there is nothing surprising in Daniel's assigning the highest place to it. And as to his passing by Nineveh, this is not surprising, because that city had been already cut off, and he is now treating of future events. The Chaldean empire, then, was first in the order of time, and is called "golden" by comparison; because the world grows worse as it becomes older; for the Persians and Medes who seized upon the whole East under the auspices of Cyrus, were worse than the Assyrians and Chaldeans. So profane poets invented fables about
Then as to the Macedonian empire, it ought not to seem absurd to find it compared to brass, since we know the cruelty of Alexander's disposition. It is frivolous to notice that politeness which has gained him favor with historians; since, if we reflect upon his natural character, he surely breathed cruelty from his very boyhood. Do we not discern in him, when quite a boy, envy and emulation? When he saw his father victorious in war, and subduing by industry or depraved arts the cities of Greece, he wept with envy, because his father left him nothing to conquer. As he manifested such pride when a boy, we conclude him to have been more cruel than humane. And with what purpose and intention did he undertake the expedition by which he became king of kings, unless through being discontented not only with his own power, but with the possession of the whole worm? We know also how tie wept when he heard from that imaginative philosophy, that there were more worlds than this. "What," said he, "I do not possess even one world!" Since, then, one world did not suffice for a man who was small of stature, he must indeed put off all humanity, as he really appeared to do. He never spared the blood of any one; and wherever he burst forth, like a devouring tempest, he
When he speaks of The Roman Empire as "iron," we must always remember the reason I have noticed, which has reference to the world in general, and to the depraved nature of mankind; whence their vices and immoralities always increase till they arrive at a fearful height. If we consider how the Romans conducted themselves, and how cruelly they tyrannized over others, the reason why their dominion is called "iron" by Daniel will immediately appear. Although they appear to have possessed some skill in political affairs, we are acquainted with their ambition, avarice, and cruelty. Scarcely any nation can be found which suffered like the Romans under those three diseases, and since they were so subject to these, as well as to others, it is not surprising that the Prophet detracts from their fame and prefers the Macedonians, Persians, Medes, and even Assyrians and Chaldeans to them.
When he says,
In the third place, it may be doubted why Christ is said
But another question may be raised: -- When Christ was made manifest, those monarchies had fallen long previously; for the Chaldean, the Persian, and that of the successors of Alexander, had passed away. The solution is at hand, if we understand what I have previously mentioned -- that under one image the whole state of the world is here depicted for us. Although all events did not occur at the same moment, yet we shall find the Prophet's language essentially true, that Christ should destroy all monarchies. For when the seat of the empire of the East was changed, and Nineveh destroyed, and the Chaldeans had fixed the seat of empire among themselves, this happened by God's just judgment, and Christ was already reigning as the king of the world. That monarchy was really broken up by his power, and the same may be said of the Persian empire. For when they degenerated from a life of austerity and sobriety into one of foul and infamous luxury; when they raged so cruelly against all mankind, and became so exceedingly rapacious, their empire necessarily passed away from them, and Alexander executed the judgment of God. The same occurred to Alexander and his successors. Hence the Prophet means, that before Christ appeared, he already possessed supreme power, both in heaven and earth, and thus broke up and annihilated the pride and violence of all men.
But Daniel says -- the image perished when the Roman empire was broken up, and yet we observe in the East and the neighboring regions the greatest monarchs still reigning with very formidable prowess. I reply, we must remember what we said yesterday -- the dream was presented to King Nebuchadnezzar, that he might understand all future events to the renovation of the world. Hence God was not willing to instruct the king of Babylon further than to inform him of the four future monarchies which should possess the whole globe, and should obscure by their splendor all the powers of the world, and draw all eyes and all attention to itself; and afterwards Christ should come and overthrow those monarchies. God, therefore, wished to inform King Nebuchadnezzar of these events; and here we must notice the intention of the Holy Spirit. No mention is made of other kingdoms, because they had not yet emerged into importance sufficient to be compared to these four monarchies. While the Assyrians and Chaldeans reigned, there was no rivalry with their neighbors, for the whole of the East obeyed them. It was incredible that Cyrus, springing from a barbarous region, could so easily draw to himself such resources, and seize upon so many provinces in so short a time! For he was like a whirlwind which destroyed the whole East. The same may be said of the third monarchy; for if the successors of Alexander had been mutually united, there was then no empire in the world which could have increased their power. The Romans were fully occupied in struggling with their neighbors, and were not yet at rest on their own soil; and afterwards, when Italy, Greece, Asia, and Egypt were obedient to them, no other empire rivaled their fame; for all the power and glory of the world was at that period absorbed by their arms.
We now understand why Daniel mentioned those four kingdoms, and why he places their close at the advent of Christ. When I speak of Daniel, this ought to be understood of the dream; for without doubt God wished to encourage the Jews not to despair, when first the brightness of the Chaldean monarchy, then that of the Persian, next the Macedonian, and lastly, the Romans overwhelmed the world. For what could they have determined by themselves at the time when Nebuchadnezzar dreamt about the four empires? The kingdom of Israel was then utterly destroyed, the ten tribes were exiles, the kingdom of Judah was reduced to desolation. Although the city Jerusalem was yet. standing, still where was the kingdom? It was full of ignominy and disgrace; nay, the posterity of David then reigned precariously in the tribe of Judah, and even there over but a part of it; and afterwards, although their return was permitted, yet we know how miserably they were afflicted. And when Alexander, like a tempest, devastated the East, they suffered, as we know, the greatest distress; they were frequently ravaged. by his successors; their city was reduced almost to solitude, and the temple profaned; and when their condition was at the best, they were still tributary, as we, shall afterwards see. It was certainly necessary for their minds to be supported in so great and such confused perturbation. This, therefore, was the reason why God sent the, dream about those monarchies to the king of Babylon. It Daniel had dreamt, the faithful would not have had so remarkable a subject-matter for the confirmation of their faith; but when the king's dream is spread abroad through almost the whole East, and when its interpretation is equally celebrated, the Jews might recover their spirits and revive their hopes at their own time, since they understood from the first that these four monarchies should not exist by any mere changes of fortune; for the same God who had foretold to King Nebuchadnezzar future events, determined also what he should do, and what he wished to take place.
The Jews knew that; the Chaldeans were reigning only by the decree of heaven; and that another more destructive empire should afterwards arise; thirdly, that they must undergo a servitude under the Macedonians; lastly, that the Romans should be the conquerors and masters of the world -- and all this by the decree of heaven. When they reflected on these things, and finally heard of the Redeemer, as, according to promise, a perpetual King, and all the monarchies, then so refulgent, as without any stability-all this would prove no common source of strength. Now, therefore, we understand with what intention God wished what had hitherto been hidden, to be everywhere promulgated; the Jews, too, would hand down to their sons and grandsons what they had heard from Daniel, and afterwards this prophecy would be extant, and become an admiration to them throughout all ages.
When we come to the words, he says,
As to Christ being called the stone cut out without human, hands, and being pointed out by other phrases, I cannot explain them now.
Grant, Almighty God, since we so travel through this world that our attention is easily arrested, and our judgment darkened, when we behold the power of the impious refulgent and terrible to ourselves and others. Grant, I say, that we may raise our eyes upwards, and consider how much power thou hast conferred upon thine only-begotten Son. Grant, also, that he may rule and govern us by the might of his Spirit, protect us by his faithfulness and guardianship, and compel the whole world to promote our salvation; thus may we rest calmly under his protection, and fight with that boldness and patience which he both commands and commends, until at length we enjoy the fruit of the victory which thou hast promised, and which thou wilt provide for us in thy heavenly kingdom. -- Amen.
We have already explained God's intention in offering to King Nebuchadnezzar the dream concerning the four monarchies, and the kingdom of Christ which should put an end to them. We have shewn it to have been not for the king's sake so much as for the consolation and support of the remnant of the faithful in those very severe troubles which awaited them, and were close at hand. For when redemption had been promised to them, and the Prophets had extolled that remarkable beneficence of God in magnificent terms, their confidence might fail them amidst those revolutions which afterwards followed. For God wished to sustain their spirits, so that amidst such agitations and tumults they might remain constant, and patiently and quietly wait; for the promised Redeemer. Meanwhile God wished to render all the Chaldeans without excuse, because this dream of the king's was everywhere celebrated, and yet, none of them profited by it, as far as Christ's eternal reign is concerned. But this was the principal point in the dream, as we shall afterwards see. But God wished, in the first place, to consult the interests of his elect, lest they should despond among those so-called revolutions, which might seem contrary to those numerous prophecies, by which not merely simple liberty was promised, but perpetual and continued happiness under God's hand. We now understand the end which God intended by this dream. We must now treat its explanation. We have already touched upon some points, but Daniel himself shall lead the way along which we are to proceed. First of all he says-
1 Or, appearance, in. common language -- its splendor, therefore. -- Calvin.
2 Or, excellent. -- Calvin.
3 Pure gold. -- Calvin.
4 Iron. -- Calvin.
5 Which was cut out without human hands -- Calvin.
6 Or, chaff. -- Calvin.