What does Daniel 2:36 mean?When king Nebuchadnezzar was disturbed by a dream (Daniel 2:1–3), he tested the insight of his magicians. He refused to tell them what he had dreamed, arguing that if they could not discern his dream, there was no reason to think they could divine its meaning (Daniel 2:8–9). Daniel, however, was given insight by God about the king's dream (Daniel 2:17–19) and has just finished describing it to Nebuchadnezzar.
The dream was of a massive statue made of various parts. The head was gold, the chest and arms silver, the midsection bronze, the legs iron, and the feet a mixture of iron and clay. Each of these, in order, is lighter and less valuable than what came before. They are also tougher, until the clay, which is brittle. Worse, clay will not merge with iron. So, when a supernatural stone strikes the feet, they shatter. The entire statue collapses into dust and is blown away by the wind, but the stone grows to cover the earth (Daniel 2:31–35).
What follows is Daniel's explanation of the king's dream. This is a prophecy of what, at the time, was still in the future (Daniel 2:28–29). Each of the statue's portions represents a major kingdom which would rule over the land promised to Israel. With modern hindsight, it is possible to determine which nations are being depicted. The gold head is Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon (Daniel 2:37–38). The silver chest and arms are the Medes and Persians, while the bronze midsection is the Greeks (Daniel 2:39). Next is the Roman Empire, represented by iron (Daniel 2:40), which eventually corrupts from within, like the addition of clay, before being destroyed (Daniel 2:41–43). The rock is the kingdom of the Messiah, Jesus Christ (Daniel 2:44–45).
This continues a section of Daniel recorded in Aramaic, the common tongue of Babylon in that era (Daniel 2:4—7:28). This emphasizes that its contents are meant as lessons to, and about, the Gentile nations.