Do The Legs of Iron Represent the East-West Division of Rome?

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1 Do The Legs of Iron Represent the East-West Division of Rome? by Rodrigo Silva 03/21/2009 One of the most accepted interpretations concerning the metal image of Daniel 2 is that the two legs of iron represent the East-West division of the Roman Empire which occurred around 395 AD. This view is accepted by all popular modern prophecy teachers. In this article we are going to examine the problems with this view and why it CANNOT be correct. In Daniel 2 we read the following: This image s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. (Daniel 2:32-33) Just as the image has two legs of iron, it also has two arms of silver and two thighs of brass. Why don t the proponents of the East-West division of Rome view make the same thing with the two arms and the two thighs? After all just as the image has one leg to the right and one to the left it also has one arm and one thigh to the right and one arm and one thigh to the left. If the two legs represent East-West division then the two arms and the two thighs MUST also represent East-West division. We know that the arms of silver represent the Medo-Persian Empire. This empire was not divided into East-West division but was an Empire under two leaderships with the rulers of Persia having higher authority than the ruler or Media. Besides, the Medo-Persian Empire cannot be classified as an East-West composite kingdom. Empires were politically represented by their capitals and the capital of Media (Ectabana) was to the North of the capitals of Persia (Persepolis & Susa) thus the two arms CANNOT represent East and West. The two thighs of brass represent the Grecian Empire. The Bible and history tell us that the Grecian Empire was divided into four parts: 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. (Daniel 8:21-22) If the two legs of Iron represent a two-fold East-West division then the two thighs of brass MUST also represent a two-fold East-West division. Now we have a problem because the Grecian Empire was divided into four parts. Later in history two of those four parts had political influence over the Jews in the land of Israel. They were the Seleucid Kingdom in the NORTH and the Ptolemaic Kingdom in the SOUTH. They are referred to in Daniel 11 as the kings of the north and the kings of the south and are referred according to their geographic relation to the land of Israel. If the two thighs of brass represent any geographical and political division, they must be North and South just as the two arms of silver, not East and West. 1

2 The Roman Empire was literally divided into East and West with Rome as the Western capital and Constantinople as the Eastern capital. This historical fact has led prophecy teachers to believe that the two legs represent this East-West division of Rome. But why don t they make the same thing with the arms of silver and the thighs of brass? Is it because there are no historical events to support that? Perhaps, but if they argue that the two legs of iron (one to the right and one to the left) must represent an East-West division of the empire represented by the legs of iron then the same must be true with the arms and thighs. The fact of the matter is that that God was not using the arms, the thighs and the legs to represent East-West division but was just using the metal man s image with different metals to represent successive kingdoms. The metal man s image cannot help but have two arms two thighs and two legs unless the image was a freak. Now if people want to argue that the two legs of iron must indeed represent the East-West division of Rome, then there is a major problem that is overlooked by those who defend this theory. The fall of the Western Roman took place less than one hundred years after the East-West division but the Eastern Roman Empire lasted for more than a thousand years after the East- West division. So what you might ask? Well, if the two legs represent the division of Rome and the Eastern leg outlasted the Western leg for a thousand years, the metal image would have to be standing on only one leg, yet we see both legs standing till the end when the clay gets mixed with the iron in the image s feet. There are many today who are looking for a revived Roman Empire. The honest ones are expecting the West to be reunited with the East so the Roman Empire can be fully revived. The dishonest ones are saying that the European Union which encompasses the Western portion of the old Roman Empire is already the revived Roman Empire. If the Roman Empire must be revived, then those who are pointing to the European Union totally ignore that their revived Roman Empire is missing a huge piece of territory which must include parts of the Middle East and North Africa. Another problem is that the kingdom represented by the iron was supposed to crush or conquer the other three kingdoms, Babylon Medo-Persian and Grecia, something which Rome never accomplished. Rome conquered the Greek and Syrian portions of the Grecian Empire, only reached Babylon for a few months in AD and was forced to retreat from Mesopotamia after the death of Emperor Trajan. Rome was never able to conquer the heart of Persia during countless battle against the Parthian and Sessanid Empires. 2

3 Map of the Roman-Persian frontier. Notice that Rome was never able to keep Babylon and reach Persia. In Daniel we read: And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others. (Daniel 2:40) According to this verse the fourth kingdom represented by the iron has to conquer all the other three kingdoms and Rome never did it. The Arab-Muslim Empire on the other not only conquered Babylon, Medo-Persia and the major divisions of the Grecian Empire but it also reached all the way to India in the east and to Spain in the west by 850 AD. In 1500 AD even the Greek-Macedonian region which gave birth to the Grecian Empire came under Islamic rule. Today the Islamic world encompasses the entire Middle East and surrounding areas such as North Africa, Western Asia. If the prophecy in Daniel is taken literally only the Islamic kingdom was able to fulfill its requirement whereas Rome was not. That being the case the feet of iron and clay must be a confederacy of nations based on the Arab-Muslim Empire, not on Europe and Babylon (Iraq), Persia (Iran) and Seleucid & Ptolemaic Grecia (Syria, Northern Iraq & Egypt, Libya and Sudan) must be part of the confederacy for in Daniel we read: Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet [that were] of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces TOGETHER, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. (Daniel 2:34-35) 3

4 If the gold (Babylon), the silver (Persia), the brass (Seleucid and Ptoleamic Grecia) and the iron and the clay (Arab-Muslim Empire) are destroyed by Jesus TOGETHER, then Iraq, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Sudan and other nations that come out of the Islamic world such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia among others must be part of the confederacy represented by the feet of iron and clay. The interesting thing is that Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Zephaniah all mentions these nations by their ancient names as coming under God s wrath. Daniel saw them symbolically instead of seeing them literally like the other prophets. Points to Consider If people want to make such a big deal about the two legs representing East and West division geographically, then we have to consider the following: (1) If the metals of the image not only represent kingdoms but also geographical extents, we must have a geographical point of reference to see if the division of Rome is really what is intended by the two legs of Iron. That geographical point of reference would have to be Babylon since it was the first kingdom represented by the statue. (2) The head of gold is the center of the image, that is, above and between the two arms, the two thighs and the two legs. If the arms, thighs and legs represent East and West geographical extents, the three following kingdoms must have spread to the east and to the west of Babylon. The Medo-Persian Empire accomplished this task, the Grecian Empire accomplished this task and the Arab-Muslim Empire accomplished this task. Did Rome ever spread to the east of Babylon? The answer is an emphatic NO! That being the case, the left leg of the image CANNOT represent the eastern division of Rome. It never extended to the east of Babylon which is our geographical point of reference as the first kingdom represented by the head of the statue. Today the Arab-Muslim Empire has not only spread to the east and to the east of Babylon, but also to the north and to the south. Remember that in the beginning of this article we saw that the two arms of silver could represent Media in the North and Persia in the South? Remember that we also saw that the two thighs of brass could represent the Seleucid kingdom in the North and the Ptolemaic kingdom in the South? Now if the same principle applies to the legs of iron, the Arab-Muslim Empire has also spread to the north and to the south of Babylon and Jerusalem which is the territory in view as far the times of the Gentiles are concerned. The main theme of Daniel is the times of the Gentiles or the kingdoms that would exercise political authority of Jerusalem and Islam has its feet there today as it rules the Temple Mount. If people want to argue that the legs represent either north and south or east and west with Babylon being our primary geographical point of reference, the Islamic world which is an extension of the Arab Muslim Empire fulfills both geographical expectation whereas Rome fulfills none of them. If Jerusalem is our point of reference, look around it and tell yourself who dominates the surrounding areas. Rome is not there but Islam is. 4

5 Map of the Islamic world. Notice Israel in red as it is surrounded by Islamic nations. Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about. (Zechariah 12:2) Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about. (Joel 3:11) The context of Joel 3 talks about God judging the nations for dividing His land. The main parties addressed are Tyre and Sidon (Lebanon), the coasts of Palestine (Gaza and the Palestinians), Egypt and Edom (Southern Jordan and Northwestern Saudi Arabia). These are some of the nations represented by the feet of iron and clay in Daniel 2 which must also include Turkey, Syria, Libya, Iraq and Iran. Zechariah and Joel call them the people or the heathen round about, or the nations that surround Jerusalem. Does Europe surround Jerusalem? The map above shows us that the Islamic-Arab world does whereas Europe is to the far Northwest. 5

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