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What the Bible says about Chest and Arms of Silver
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Daniel 2:32

In the succession of world-ruling empires envisaged by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the second to appear is represented by a "chest and arms of silver." Both the metal and the body parts help to describe the nation referred to. Without doubt, the chest and arms of silver represent the Medo-Persian Empire (c. 539-330 BC). The explanation of the chest and arms is found in Daniel 2:39.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Nebuchadnezzar's Image (Part Two): Chest and Arms of Silver

Daniel 2:32

Not much is written in Daniel 2 in explanation of the third world-ruling empire represented in Nebuchadnezzar's image. Other than its position on the image and its bronze appearance, the only interpretation of the "belly and thighs of bronze" (verse 32) within this chapter is found in verse 39: ". . . then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth."

Such paucity of detail suggests the relative unimportance of this third empire in the march of prophetic events. Falling "between the Testaments," this kingdom played a lesser role in the history of God's people than Babylon or Persia, although it did indeed "rule over all the earth." From this one detail, as well as from its position between the "chest and arms of silver" (already identified as Medo-Persia) and the fourth kingdom of iron (generally accepted as Rome), we can safely name it as Greece.

Another factor that assists in its identification is the parts of the body by which it is represented. The belly, a single body part, represents a monolithic government, and the thighs, two body parts, represent a division of power. The Greek Empire, built upon the remains of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great, began with a single leader. But after Alexander's death in 323 BC, his generals carved out kingdoms of their own. From the resultant wars among them, two major powers emerged: Ptolemaic Egypt and Seleucid Syria.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Nebuchadnezzar's Image (Part Three): 'Belly and Thighs of Bronze'

Daniel 8:3-4

History records that the Persians considered a ram with sharp, pointed horns to be their guardian spirit, and the king bore the head of a ram instead of a crown when he led his armies into battle. The symbols of Medo-Persia used in the Bible, the ram and the bear, are powerful creatures, as opposed to the quick and agile goat and leopard, representing Greece. As for the different heights of the horns, the taller one represents the Persian half of the empire that rose to power later than the Median half.

Both the Medes and the Persians, as the Bible shows are represented by these horns (Daniel 8:20), also had territories located near the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Though it makes little difference in the prophecy's interpretation, this river could also be "the River Ulai" (Daniel 8:2) upon whose banks the Persian capital of Susa (Shushan) was built.

The ram's pushing in every direction except east reflects the historical reality that Persia's eastern campaigns were inconsequential as compared to its other conquests. Though they did conquer as far east as the Indus River, subjugating Asia Minor, Babylon, Egypt, and Armenia was much more significant. Persia felt very little resistance in the east, and in its later history the western Macedonians under Alexander, represented by the he-goat with a notable horn (verse 21), were its most challenging foes.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Nebuchadnezzar's Image (Part Two): Chest and Arms of Silver

Daniel 8:7

The entire Persian Empire collapsed in six years (336-330 BC) under the relentless onslaught of Alexander's troops, who never lost a battle against the larger Persian forces. It was certainly "cast down . . . and trampled" in remarkable fashion.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Nebuchadnezzar's Image (Part Two): Chest and Arms of Silver


 




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