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Sefer Daniel: Part 13 - Perek 7 con't: Rome, The Church, and Islam
"After this I saw visions of the night, and a fourth beast which was frightening, awesome, and extremely powerful, with huge teeth of iron; it was eating and crushing, and trampling the rest with its feet; it was dissimilar to all the beasts before it, and it had ten horns. I was examining the horns, and another small horn emerged within it, and three of the first horns were uprooted before it, and eyes like the eyes of a man were in this horn, and a mouth uttering arrogant words."
"After this I saw visions of the night." In this vision, Daniel saw a long night, and an extremely dark exile. Rashi says that Daniel saw this fourth beast in a separate vision the night after he had seen the vision of the three beasts. This represented the fact that the fourth exile will be equivalent to the three exiles preceding it.
"And a fourth beast" - This is Rome.
"Which was frightening, awesome, and extremely powerful." The success of Rome and it rule was dependent on three things. 1) They were extremely cruel, and the nations' fear of their ruthlessness prevented them from rebelling against them. 2) They ran their affairs with great wisdom and thoroughness. 3) They were extremely powerful.
"With huge teeth of iron, it was eating and crushing." Teeth grinds one's food, which allows the food to be digested and absorbed by the body. This process is comparable to Rome's custom of turning about the nations they conquered and "absorbing" them into the kingdom of Rome.
"And trampling the rest with its feet." When Rome conquered distant kingdoms which could not be absorbed into their kingdom, they decimated them instead.
"It was dissimilar to all the beasts before it." Rome was dissimilar in every way to the kingdoms which preceded it - in their behavior, their strength, and the length of their rule. The magnitude of Rome's rule was incomparable to any nation in history. This is why the beast which represented Rome was not given a name; it could not be compared to any existing beast.
"And it had ten horns" At the end of days, the kingdom of Rome, which will initially be one large kingdom, will be divided into ten kingdoms which will rule over the four corners of the earth. Other countries will exist, but these ten countries will be the most dominant powers.
"I was examining the horns, and another small horn emerged within it." The Malbim quotes the Abarbanel which says that this "small horn" represents the rule of the church, which began in Rome. Initially, the church did not have significant power, but eventually the hold of the church developed, until the popes were stronger than the political leaders of Rome. Alternatively, the Malbim says that the small horn represented Islam, which developed a few hundred years later, and was initially weak, but eventually grew into a great power.
"And three of the first horns were uprooted before it." The three horns are representative of three kingdoms which broke away from the Roman Empire. Another view is that the three horns represent three kingdoms which Islam eventually conquered.
"Eyes like human eyes were in this horn, and a mouth speaking arrogant words." This horn, unlike the others, which had only physical power, through war and physical force, had the power of wisdom and logic, represented by the eyes, and the power of rhetoric and persuasion, represented by the mouth.
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