A Question about one of the beasts in Daniel...


Someone was troubled by an interpretation of a beast in Daniel...

Dear Glenn,
 
Thanks so much for your website.  It has been a real help to me in study and encouragement in the faith.  I was reading your articles on Daniel the other night in an effort to understand the book.
 
The big question that I had was about internal problems in the book and you have not gotten that far yet :)  But the problem feels pretty intractable to me:
 
Dan has a vision of 4 kingdoms in chapter 2.  Conservative scholars say the four kingdoms are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and then Rome.  Liberal scholars say the four kingdoms are Babylon, Media, Persia, and then Greece.  They want to make Greece the final empire since it was at its height in the 2nd century BC when they claim Daniel was written.  But you know all this :)  Well, it seems, just by reading the book of Daniel that the critics have to be right- the fourth kingdom has to be Greece.  The description of the kingdom in chapter two has two prominent details given:  It will be a divided kingdom (Daniel 2:41) and because is weak it will try to strengthen itself through alliances through intermarriage (Daniel 2:43).  What kingdom could this be but Greece?  The first part of Daniel 11, which all commentators whether liberal or contrastive accept as describing Greece, chronicles how Greece would be a divided kingdom (Daniel 11:3-4) and that the different parts of the kingdom would try to form alliances with the other parts through intermarriage (Daniel 11:6).  It seems pretty clear from this that the author of Daniel intended that the fourth kingdom of chapter 2 to be Greece and not Rome.
 
This is a major problem since it goes on to say (Daniel 2:43), "In the days of those kings [i.e. Greece!] the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered.  It will crush all these kingdoms into nothingness and it will stand forever."  So it doesn't seem to matter whether Daniel was written in the 6th century BC or the 2nd century BC since it seems to pretty clearly teach that the Kingdom of God would arrive in the days of Greece.  Which didn't happen in any way shape or form.
 
I used to think (before comparing Daniel 2 and Daniel 11 and having the historical background) that the forth kingdom was Rome.  Because it was in the days of the Roman empire that Jesus came and we can easily say that God set up His kingdom then.
 
But if the forth kingdom is Greece then we not only have unfulfilled prophecy but prophecy that can't ever be fulfilled because it has been disproved by history.  That is not a very ... appealing conclusion.
 
Discovering this has much saddened me and I don't know what to do with it.  I was hoping that perhaps you could briefly shed some light on it for me if my understanding of the text is wrong since, as a believer who holds a very high view of Scripture that is not a conclusion that I would naturally want to accept...
 
In the Lord Jesus, ABC

I dug up some resources and summarized them (some of the Hebrew fonts probably wont make it across...so expect some weird characters):

Sorry for the very hasty/terse reply, but I did want to at least get a couple of quick suggestions to you as early as I could--I wont be able to do much with this Q, because of the backlog...but... Iscratched around in my resources here and noticed a couple of points for you to consider (I cannot dialogue about these, but they should give you some possible points of departure for your own study):
  1. Persia was never considered to have conquered 'the whole world'--Greece was the first one to do that, and that would force the last image to be Rome.

  2. Greek was NOT a 'divided kingdom' when it took over the world; In fact, it ceased being a kingdom when it was divided. We then DONT HAVE a real kingdom again until the Romans--the 4 generals did not constitute "a divided kingdom". And, my commentaries all called ROME the divided kingdom, since she allowed so many local rulers and local jurisdictions to prosper. Greece/Persia went for much-more monolithic cultures (Alex wanted to make 'one world' with Hellenistic culture?!!!) And the combining in the seed of men is between the clay and iron (both parts of the kingdom AT THE SAME TIME--not later).

  3. The 'mingling' did not specifically said 'intermarriage of the RULER'. Keil and Delitzch point out that it was the PEOPLE who intermarried--and this was just as true of Rome as it was of Greece. A standard ploy of conquered Roman nations was to get the ladies to marry Roman citizen-men, and therefore 'mingle' the families into Roman power and privilege. So, I dont think this has to be taken as referring to high-level political marriages EXCLUSIVELY at all. [like I say, it was Keil & D. that explained that point from the toes.] And the combining in the seed of men is between the clay and iron (both parts of the kingdom AT THE SAME TIME--not later).

  4. The ancient Jewish interpreters (e.g. Rashi) all understood the 4th beast to be Rome.

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Just a couple of supporting quotes: