We have met in Berlin.  This is a topic that seems to have stuck with me since being a teenager (I am 34 now) and I would be very glad if I could have some exchange with you on this.  To equate the first three empires of Daniel 2 as Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece is beyond doubt. I also agree that the fourth kingdom is Rome for reasons you wrote about in your book [Daniel, Prophet to the Nations] , but I can’t make sense of the following yet:   Last year, I observed the seemingly parallel prophecies of Dan 2:43 and 11:6.17, the latter talking about specific, historically recorded intermarriages of Ptolemy and Seleucid kings.  “As you saw the iron mixed with soft clay, so they will mix with one another in marriage (Footnote: Aramaic by the seed of men), but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay.” (Dan 2:43 ESV)  Why does Dan 2:43 seem to be parallel to Dan 11:6.17 whilst Dan 2:40-45 should actually talk about Rome and not the Ptolemy/Seleucid divided kingdom?  What is the fulfilment of Dan 2:43 in the Roman empire?  I have an idea about it but am not completely satisfied: Many peoples were unified under Roman rule and married amongst each other but that still didn’t make the Roman empire a solid united nation at the end. I think that this explanation is weaker than the link between Dan 2:43 and Dan 11:6,17.  What do you think about this?


I can see no reason to doubt that the fourth part of the statue–the part made of iron and clay–is a reference to Rome.  It during the time of “those kings” (ie of Rome) that a kingdom which will never be destroyed was established by God (Daniel 2:44).  Therefore I am rather strongly biased to look for an interpretation of Daniel 2:43 with Rome, not the conflicts between the Greek kingdoms.  For this reason, I am also biased against your perception of a parallel between Daniel 11:6,17 and Daniel 2:43.  But then, I have already admitted to being biased, which means that I need to consider carefully your proposal and try to ignore my bias!  Maybe you are right.

First, let me look at Daniel 11:6.  If I understand it correctly, this is a specific prophecy about the political relationship between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids.  Ptolemy II Philadelphus sent his daughter Berenice to marry the son of his rival Antiochus II Theos, the heir to the Seleucid kingdom.  Their marriage in 252 BC made the two rival dynasties temporary allies.  However, the kings of both the Ptolemaic and Seleucid empires died in 246 and 245 BC and the alliance was broken.  After this, Laodice, the half-sister and wife of Antiochus II had Berenice and her son poisoned.  Because of this, Antiochus II took the throne of the Seleucid empire.  This is the historical fulfillment of Daniel 11:6.

Similarly, Daniel 11:17 is a prophecy of an event which has some parallel to Daniel 11:6.  In this case, the historical context is the rule of Antiochus III.  In order to make his recently-acquired throne more secure, he sent his daughter, Cleopatra (not the more famous Cleopatra) to marry the Ptolemaic heir-apparent, Ptolemy V.  The attempt at an alliance failed, as did the earlier attempt by Antiochus II.  This is the meaning of the prophecy in Daniel 11:17.  There is virtually no doubt that Daniel 11:6,17 are prophecies of these specific historical events.

Let me turn now to Daniel 2:43.  Is there parallel between this prophecy and the attempts to form an alliance by marriage between the Ptolemaic and Seleucid dynasties?  

Daniel 2:43 “And just as you saw iron mixed with clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.” (NIV).  The Hebrew of this passage is a bit tough.  The phrase translated “so the people will be a mixture” is “they will mingle themselves with miry clay mixed with iron” according to the Hebrew interlinear.   I agree with you that there is some potential parallel between the mixing of iron and clay with the attempts to join the Seleucids and Ptolemies by marriage.  However, if I look at the big picture of Daniel 2:43 I can see the possible parallel, but I conclude that this is accidental.  There is no doubt (in my opinion) that Daniel 2:43 is about the fourth kingdom–the iron one–Rome. (Daniel 2:40).  Right after identifying this as the fourth kingdom, in v. 41 Daniel starts talking about iron and clay.  It describes Rome as a divided kingdom.  Of course, the Greek kingdom was also a divided kingdom (Daniel 8:8), so, again, potential parallel can be found.  However, Rome also was a divided kingdom and it is clear from Daniel 2:40 that it is a description of Rome.  I would need a good reason to say that the mixture in Daniel 2:43 is about Greece.  If it could be proved that it could not be applied to Rome, then perhaps we could be justified in looking to the Greek kingdoms, despite Daniel 2:40.   The fact is, however, that Daniel 2:43 is a wonderful description of Rome.  Rome was a mixture.  Rome was divided, as Daniel describes.

Another reason to reject your proposal, despite the fact that the apparent parallels are real, is the broader context.  The vision in Daniel 2 is of the big picture.   It describes 2000 years of history in just a few verses.  Each kingdom gets only a couple of sentences.  Therefore, the mixing and dividing in Daniel 2:42-44 is in the big picture, not the detailed picture.  Daniel 11:2-35 is quite different.  It is an extremely detailed prophecy, covering one hundred fifty years in 34 verses.  Daniel 11:6,17 are prophecies of very specific events.  The names of the individuals we know and the details match definite specific events.  The fact that Daniel 11 is very specific and narrowly focused and Daniel 2 is very broad is another reason that I believe the parallels, though real, are accidental.  This is why, although I find your theory to be interesting and even intriguing, I believe that it is not a correct view of Daniel 11 and Daniel 2.

By the way, you put the words “in marriage” into Daniel 2:43.  I looked into the Hebrew and I do not see those words.   I believe that this is an interpretation, but is not found in the Greek.  The people “mingled themselves” is the literal translation of the Hebrew.  Of course, “mingled themselves” could, in certain contexts, imply sex or marriage, but it is not required by the Hebrew and I believe the context of Hebrews 2:43 does not seem to require the implication of marriage, especially because, like I said, Daniel 2 is a prophecy of the big picture.   I am having trouble responding to your request for an explanation of  “Many peoples were unified under the Roman rule and married amongst each other but still didn’t make the Roman empire a solid united nation at the end.”  Because I do not see marriages in Daniel 2:43, I am not sure how to respond to this request.  I agree with you that Rome was not united in the end, but this is prophesied of the fourth kingdom by Daniel.  Daniel said that the fourth kingdom would be a divided kingdom (v 21) which is a perfect match to Rome, which was divided between East and West.  Rome was partly strong and partly brittle, exactly as prophesied by Daniel.  I do not see how this applies well to the Seleucids and the Ptolemies.  So, a
s I said, I find your theory and your discovery of a parallel between Daniel 2:43 and 11:6,17, but in the final analysis, I say that this is an incidental parallel and conclude that Daniel 2:43 is not a prophecy about the Ptolemies and Seleucids, the kings of the North and the South.

What do you think?

John Oakes

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