Dreams & Visions (Part 3): Belly and thighs of bronze

To understand what God has planned for our future, we need to study prophecy that’s been fulfilled in the past …


(Based on Daniel 1-2, New International Version and BibleGateway.com)

In Parts 1 and 2 of Dreams and Visions, we learned that Daniel was summoned to stand before King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and describe the king’s troubling dream….

Daniel said: “Your Majesty looked, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure 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 baked clay. While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.  (Daniel 2:31-35)

Then Daniel explained the meaning of the dream. We’ve explored the symbolism and historical significance of the head of gold and the arms and chest of silver in Parts 1 & 2. Now let’s look at the “belly and thighs of bronze,” which are sculpted in a metal of lesser value than the gold and the silver portrayed on the statues’s upper body….

“This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king. Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; in your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.

“After you, another kingdom will arise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth” (Daniel 2:36-39)

Just as Daniel said very little about kingdom #2 (the Medo-Persian empire), he didn’t say much about the third kingdom. But he did make the point that this kingdom would “rule over the whole earth.” Since he was not aware of exactly how big the whole earth was at that point, we can conclude that he was talking about the entire earth that was known at that time.

That kingdom in history was the Greek Empire, and it wass overwhelming to try and research this period in history for an article such as this. But I did find this interesting story about the first time that Alexander the Great encountered the Jews …

During his military campaign against Persia, Alexander takes a detour to the south, conquering Tyre and then Egypt via what is today Israel. Alexander is planning to destroy the Temple, egged on by the Samaritans who hate the Jews There is a fascinating story about Alexander’s first encounter with the Jews of Israel. (Who were until that time subjects of the Persian Empire).

The narrative concerning Alexander’s first interaction with the Jews is recorded in both the Talmud (Yoma 69a and in the Jewish historian Josephus’s book Antiquities XI, 321-47.) In both accounts the High Priest of the Temple (in the Talmudic narrative he is Shimon HaTzaddik—the last surviving member of the Men of the Great Assembly) in Jerusalem, fearing that Alexander would destroy the city, goes out to meet him before he arrives at the city. The narrative then describes how Alexander, upon seeing the High Priest dismounts and bows to him. (Alexander rarely, if ever, bowed to anyone.) In Josephus’s account, when asked by his general, Parmerio, to explain his actions he answered: “I did not bow before him but before that God who has honored him with the high Priesthood; for I saw this very person in a dream, in this very apparel.”

Alexander interpreted the vision of the High Priest as a good omen and thus spared Jerusalem and peacefully absorbed the Land of Israel into his growing empire….

So Alexander the Great does not destroy the Temple. And he listens when Shimon HaTzaddik tells him that the Jews are not enemies of the Greeks but the Samaritans are…. As a result, the Jews are given free rein to go trash the Samaritans, which they promptly go out and do. … The Jews continue to flourish as a separate and distinct entity for 165 years – a rare phenomenon in the Hellenistic world. (Source: http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/the_greek_empire/)

During the time of Jesus’ ministry, Jews and Samaritans hated each other and were amazed when Jesus told them to love one another!

COMING NEXT … PART 4: The legs of iron and unusual feet!

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