The Great Empires of Prophecy, from Babylon to the Fall of Rome



“One maneh sixteen shekels of silver capital and interest, the property of Nebo-tsabit-ida, the steward of the house of Belshazzar, the son of the king, which (he owes) to Bel-iddina, the son of Bel-sum-iskun, the son of Sin-tabni, and the seed grown in sight of the chief gates (of Babylon) which has been taken as security (for it). The money, namely one maneh sixteen shekels, Nebo-tsabit-ida, by the agency of Itti-Merodachbaladhu, the son of Nebo-akhi-iddin, the son of Egibi, has presented to Bel-iddina. The witnesses (are) Nebo-iddina, the son of Rimutu, the son of Kiki; Bel-iddina, the son of Bel-sum-iskun, the son of Sin-tabni; Nebo-zira-esir, the son of Ina-essu-edir, the son of the Umuk; Nadinu, the son of Merodach-iddin-akhi; Nergal-yusallim, the priest, the son of Merodach-edir, the son of Gasura. (Dated) at Babylon, the 27th day of the second Adar [Ve-Adar], the twelfth year [554 B. C.] of Nabonidos king of Babylon.” 9 GEP 30.2

11. These documents show that in 551 B. C. Belshazzar was old enough to have a secretary; and that in 545 B. C he was old enough to have an establishment of his own, having a house with a steward, and property of his own. GEP 31.1

12. “In the first year of Belshazzar” in his office as associate king, to Daniel was given the great vision, and the explanation of it, which is recorded by that prophet in the seventh chapter of his book. “Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and man’s heart was given to it. And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. After this I beheld, and to another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before, it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things. GEP 31.2

13. “I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as shown, and the hair of His head like the pure wool: His throne was like the fiery flame; and His wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him: thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. I beheld then, because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. GEP 31.3

14. “I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things. These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever. GEP 32.1

15. “Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet; and of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows. I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. GEP 32.2

16. “Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.” 10 GEP 32.3

17. “In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar,” there was given to Daniel the vision recorded in the eighth chapter of his book. At the time when the vision occurred, Daniel was in the province of Elam, and in the palace at Shushan (or Susa) the capital. But in the vision he was out by the river of Ulai, which flowed through the city. He says: “Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last. I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great. GEP 33.1

18. “And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power. And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand. Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven. And out of one of them came forth a little born, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And a host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered.” GEP 33.2

19. “And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision. Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright. And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be. GEP 34.1

20. “The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power. And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.” 11 GEP 34.2

21. Nabonadius and Belshazzar were jointly the last kings of Babylon. The city fell if not actually in the third year of Belshazzar, very shortly after the end of that year. But as this great event is essentially a part of the history of another power, the account of it will be postponed to the place where it naturally comes. GEP 34.3

22. In the interpretation of the dream which Nebuchadnezzar had of the great image, after telling the king that he was the head of gold, it was said, “After thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee,” and that following this there should be two others in succession which should bear rule over all the earth: making, in all, four universal empires from the time of Nebuchadnezzar to the setting up of the kingdom of God in the earth. In the vision of the first year of Belshazzar, these four empires are symbolized by the four great beasts—the lion, the bear, the leopard, and the great and terrible nondescript beast. The lion of the vision in the first year of Belshazzar, therefore, corresponds to the head of gold of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, and consequently represents Babylon. GEP 34.4

23. Being first “a lion with eagle’s wings,” it well represents the mighty power and swiftness of the conquests of the Babylon of the time of Nebuchadnezzar. Then it was “that bitter and hasty nation,” whose horses were “swifter than the leopards,” and whose horsemen should “fly as an eagle that hasteth to eat.” 12 And afterward the same lion with his wings plucked, and lifted up from the earth and made to stand on his feet as a man, with a man’s heart, well represents the same kingdom of Babylon shorn of its vigor, its power, and its majesty, as it was after the death of Nebuchadnezzar, through the reigns of the five weak and wicked kings whom we have been obliged to notice in that period. GEP 35.1

24. As the lion corresponds to the head of gold of the great image, and so represents Babylon, so the bear of this vision corresponds to the “other kingdom inferior” to Babylon, represented in the breast and arms of silver of the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Then in the vision of the third year of Belshazzar, which occurred in the very last day of Babylon, just as it was about to pass away, only three symbols are used—the ram, the goat, and the little horn which became “exceeding great;” and the first of these is plainly declared by the angel to be “the kings of Media and Persia.” This demonstrates, therefore, that the kingdom of the Medes and Persians was represented by the symbol of the bear, and was the one referred to when Daniel, in explanation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the great image, said to him, “After thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee.” Accordingly, the empire of the Bible whose history is next to be written and studied, is that of the Medes and Persians. GEP 35.2