The Empires & Phases
Daniel interprets the dream and provides the meaning of the statue. God's use of the human anatomy to convey this revelation is measured and helpful. He reveals that, from Babylon to the Second Coming, there would be four Mediterranean empires or phases, and three mini-phases within them. Seven total.
The Empires & Phases
Phase 1: Babylon
The head of gold depicts the Babylonian empire, or Babylon, which ruled the region and Israel from around 612 to 539BC. It was a unitary empire, thus illustrated by a unitary body part, the head.
Babylon's illustration as gold is perfect. It was a city of unprecedented splendor. Herodotus wrote, "...in magnificence there is no other city that approaches to it." Babylon also produced the first bank, or proto-bank, in world history, at the temple of Samas, the Babylonian sun-god, at Sippar. God, playing on these themes, said in Isaiah 14:4 (NKJV, underline mine): ...you will take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say: "How the oppressor has ceased, the golden city ceased!" And Jeremiah 51:7 (NASB, underline mine): Babylon has been a golden cup in the hand of the LORD, intoxicating all the earth...
Phase 2: Medo-Persia
The upper body of silver depicts Medo-Persia, which ruled the region and Israel from around 539 to 331BC. It was a binary empire composed of Media and Persia, thus illustrated by the two sides of an upper body.
Medo-Persia is illustrated as silver because their vast taxation system, and many local and provincial economies within the empire, depended largely on silver coinage called the siglo (Persian coins) and the Croeseid (Lydian coins). Gold coinage was proprietored too, called the daric. The daric was the empire-wide trading money, issued only by the royal circle. Silver money, however, could be issued by the conquered cities, states, and satraps (governors) for local and provincial markets. Thus, at many levels and zones, Medo-Persia took on a distinctly "silver" quality.
Phase 3: Greece
The belly of bronze depicts Greece, a unitary empire under Alexander, illustrated by a unitary body part, the belly.
Greece is illustrated by bronze because of their extensive work in bronze. Ezekiel 27:13 portrays this (NIV): Greece, Tubal and Meshek did business with you; they traded human beings and articles of bronze for your wares. Bronze filled the armor and weaponry of Greece's soldiers. Herodotus writes in The Histories 2.152 (Book 2, Chapter 152) that Psammetichus I, king of Egypt, received an oracle that "men of bronze coming from the sea" (Greek soldiers) would come to his aid militarily. Herodotus continues, "...they disembarked in their armor of bronze; and an Egyptian came into the marsh country and brought news to Psammetichus (for he had never before seen armored men) that men of bronze had come from the sea". In total, the Greeks ruled the Mediterranean and Israel from around 331 to 146BC.
Mini-Phase 3b: Post-Alexander Greece
The two thighs of bronze depict post-Alexander Greece, which was dominated by two emergent subkingdoms: Seleucia (the Seleucid dynasty), stretching east from Turkey to the Indus River in India, and Ptolemaia (the Ptolemaic dynasty), stretching west from Israel to Egypt to Libya. In Daniel 11 they are referred to as the "king of the North" and "king of the South", vis-a-vis in geographic relation to Jerusalem. Their territories, however, went east and west like two thighs side by side. In total, the Greeks ruled the Mediterranean and Israel from around 331 to 146BC.
Phase 4: Rome
The remainder of the legs are iron, however, they later degrade into iron-clay feet and iron-clay toes. The fourth Mediterranean, Israel-ruling empire was Rome, who supplanted Greece. Using strange symbology, God shows us that Rome's essence (the iron) will continue in three segments or mini-phases all the way to the Antichrist and the Second Coming. Additionally, notice the theme of two legs once again. In 285, Emperor Diocletian divided the Roman empire into western and eastern legs (administratively). In 395, Theodosius split the empire in actuality for good, into west (Europe) and east (Middle East). God inserts Rome into the statue, into the narrative, at this split. The split is important eschatologically.
Mini-Phase 4b: Mixed Last-Days Rome
Rome's two iron legs, Europe and the Middle East, would continue in some iron-like form until the last days. The iron in Europe would eventually end and degrade into an iron-clay European foot, and, the iron in the Middle East would eventually end and degrade into an iron-clay Middle Eastern foot.
Mini-Phase 4c: Mixed Ten King Alliance
After an iron-clay European foot and iron-clay Middle Eastern foot are in existence, at some point ten toes will emerge, which is some kind of ten member alliance. This is symbolized as ten horns later in Daniel and in Revelation (Dan 7:7,20, Rev 17:12,13). The ten toes or horns are some type of coalition of ten rulers or zones or nations in Europe and the Middle East. This is the context that will produce the Antichrist. They will be his immediate power base.
From Babylon to the Second Coming, Nebuchadnezzar's dream revealed there would be four phases, three mini-phases, seven total. The Greek and Roman empires are segmented. Greece had a second mini-phase (3b) that God wants us to notice--the emergence and dominance of Seleucia and Ptolemaia. Rome has a second and third mini-phase (4b and 4c) that God wants us to notice--the emergence of an iron-clay Europe and Middle East, and, the emergence of a ten-member iron-clay coalition.