Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

Feet of Clay, image from

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. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
Daniel 2:31-33

The book of Daniel was written around the time the Greek empire was falling to the Romans.1 Written as a prediction, the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream was in fact an historical summary of Babylon and the empires that succeeded it: Persia, Greece and Rome, the elements of the statue describing the nature of the empires.

"Babylon, the head of gold, was an absolute autocracy. Persia, a monarchial oligarchy with the nobles equal to the king in all but office, is represented by silver. Greece is set forth by brass, indicated the still lower value of it aristocracy of mind and influence... Rome, a democratic imperialism, with military dominion dependent upon the choice of army and citizenry and administered in the spirit of martial law, is set forth by iron." 2

Apart from the point made that God reveals all, where man can only know in part, it is not clear what message this dream interpretation is supposed to give Nebuchadnezzar. Despite the dream ending with a natural rock crushing the entire man-made edifice and turning it into chaff in the wind, Nebuchadnezzar receives the interpretation gladly, praising Daniel for his insight, and acknowledging Daniel's God as great He otherwise does little with the knowledge that his empire is doomed to takeover. Maybe it was enough to know he was the head, the gold, the perfect metal, the perfect monarchy. Later Nebuchadnezzar seeks to recreate the statue in actuality, making the entire thing of gold, perhaps in the deluded belief that the Babylonian empire will stand forever.3 People in power tend to only hear what they want to hear, that which will make them more powerful still.

1 see reflection 223, Purity
2 Daniel: The Man Greatly Beloved and His Prophecies, by Philip Rutherford Newell, Moody Press, 1962
3 Daniel 3:1