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In Daniel 2:40-45, there appears to be a contradiction between what roles are ascribed to the iron and the stone in destroying the statue vision. Verse 40 states that the iron kingdom will "break in pieces and subdue all things," seeming to indicate it will cause the destruction of the previous parts of the statue. However, verses 44-45 unambiguously attribute the smashing of the entire statue, including the iron feet, to the striking action of the stone.

How can these two verses be reconciled without dismissing what either explicitly states?

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there appears to be a contradiction between what roles are ascribed to the iron and the stone in destroying the statue vision.” – OP.

There cannot be a contradiction because the iron is not shown as destroying the statue. Only the stone is doing that. Iron is simply a continuation of the bronze part and together with gold, silver and bronze it completes the statue in full!

The Statue with 4 Parts

The head of gold is the Babylonian Empire (“You are the head of gold” – Dan 2:38).

What follows as a continuation of Babylon is the Medo-Persian Empire (represented by a ram in Dan 8:20). The statue’s silver part has two arms. These two arms are the Medes and the Persians. Daniel 8:3 says:

“And the two horns (of the ram) were high, but one (the Persians) was higher than the other (Medes), and the higher one (the Persians) came up last.”

What followed the Medo-Persians was the great Alexander’s Greek Empire (represented by a male goat in Daniel 8:21). The tremendous speed with which Alexander conquered the world is given in Daniel 8:5:

“A male of the goats came from the west, over the face of all the earth and did not touch the ground.”

What followed as a continuation was the Roman Empire represented by the two iron legs. One leg represented the western Roman empire based in Rome and the other leg represented the eastern Roman empire based in Byzantium.

The statue as a whole represents the human system of governments and as such they are all continuations. Thus the last part, the iron, is still a continuation of the human system of government.

Four Beasts

These 4 empires are again presented in another vision to Daniel as 4 beasts that come out ‘one after the other’ from “the Great Sea” (Mediterranean – verse 2) in the 7th chapter of Daniel. These are a lion, a bear, a leopard and an unnamed beast!

What is significant is that here also, Alexander’s Greek Empire is represented by a leopard, a really fast and very agile animal. The fourth beast (Rome) is so “frightening and terrifying, and very strong” (verse 7) that Daniel doesn’t have any name to call it!!! In real history also, Rome was such a mighty and well organized magnificent empire.

This fourth beast also has “great iron teeth” (verse 7).

“It devoured, and crushed, and stamped what was left with its feet” (same verse).

This is similar to Daniel 2:40:

“And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron. Inasmuch as iron crushes and smashes all things, and as the iron that shatters all these, it will crush and shatter.”

But the Scripture doesn’t say that the 4th empire will crush the earlier empires! First of all, Rome came much afterwards, when the earlier Greek Empire had weakened and almost came to nought!

In reality, the first Babylonian empire was fully absorbed into the later Medo-Persian empire which later was absorbed into the Greek empire. The Roman empire absorbed all these areas later and the Empire surrounded the Great Sea, the Mediterranean!

Theocracy

The stone represents the divine system of Government that will strike at the feet (foothold) of the human system of government and will destroy it. It represents the Second Coming of Jesus Christ as the King of kings and the Lord of lords and the establishment of the Kingdom of God (a world government).

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Your question does have merit from the standpoint that an iron sledge hammer can break stone.

Perhaps this question can be best answered by metallurgy and strength of materials, which may not be that simple. Gold has the lowest melting point of the four metals. Iron has the highest. As you progress upward in melting point of the four mentioned metals, the hardness increases substantially as well. Thus iron smashes brass, brass smashes silver, silver smashes gold. Here is where the analogy leaves the metallurgy and progresses to the strength of materials part. At first thought a carbon steel hammer of today readily smashes rock, even iron of Daniel's age would also. So now we look at applying energy. If you smite even the iron with a big enough rock to the point you raise the temperature to a high enough degree the rock can start to weaken and degrade the iron. Since the rock is analogous to Jesus we might consider the rock to be diamond. Diamond can grind even iron to powder.

The above answers all have merit as well. Hopefully this adds to them and completes what was started.

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  • I'm afraid this doesn't even come close to answering the question. Dec 31, 2023 at 21:37
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Dan 2:40 - Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom as strong as iron; for iron shatters and crushes all things, and like iron that crushes all things, it will shatter and crush all the others.

vesus:

Dan 2:44, 45 - In the days of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will shatter all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, but will itself stand forever. And just as you saw a stone being cut out of the mountain without human hands, and it shattered the iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold, so the great God has told the king what will happen in the future.

Both are correct.

The progression of this stature/vision of kingdoms is simple - each successive kingdom will conquer the previous one(s). That is just as true of the fourth kingdom of iron as it is of God's kingdom of stone. It is also true of the previous two kingdoms.

Now, the main difference between God's final kingdom of stone and fourth kingdom of iron is that God's kingdom of stone will last forever and NOT ever be conquered.

Rather simple actually.

Now to the last part of the OP's question about iron kingdom and the stone kingdom (of God) crushing those kingdoms that had already being conquered. This idea is quintessential Hebrew terminology: when a king conquered another kingdom, he effectively inherited all the conquered nation's victories because it conquered all their territories.

For example, when Rome conquered Greece, it not only conquered Greece but all the territories it ruled including Babylon and Medo-Persian territories. Thus, it inherited all of Greece's victories. Thus, Rome crushed all the previous nations.

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  • So the interpretation is that Rome smashed all the other kingdoms prior to it meaning it defeated Babylon, Greece, and Persia like verse 40 says?
    – Servant
    Dec 29, 2023 at 9:36
  • @Servant - to conquer a kingdom does not necessarily mean it is destroyed. Indeed, in the case of Rome, it took over much of Greek culture and philosophy; thus it was called the Graeco-Roman world. It simply means that Rome was no in charge and the previous government was removed. The Roman empire ceased top exist 1500 years ago but its influence in language, culture and law remains. When the final kingdom od stone arrives, all this will disappear.
    – Dottard
    Dec 29, 2023 at 10:03
  • I guess my problem with the interpretation is that verse 40 says iron will strike and smash all of the previous kingdoms which if this is Rome doesn't make sense to me. because even you said that each kingdom conquered the previous but if verse 40 says rome will smash into pieces all the other governments, how was Babylon and Persia smashed by Rome when they were defeated before Rome cams to power? And it's weird because it doesn't even say each kingdom will defeat one another, Daniel only speaks in verse 40 of the fourth smashing ALL the other kingdoms before of course the rock in verse 45.
    – Servant
    Dec 29, 2023 at 17:10
  • Succinct and to the point, + 1. Dec 31, 2023 at 21:40

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