After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth
Not in another night, as Jarchi; but in the same night, and in the same visions of it; only after he had seen the other three successively, then last of all he saw this fourth beast; and more being said of this than of the rest, shows that this was the principal thing in the vision to be observed, as being to endure until, and having a close connection with, the kingdom of the Messiah; which, arising, shall destroy it, and take place of it: this is not the Turkish empire, as Aben Ezra, and others: nor the kingdom of the Seleucidae, as Grotius, and others; to which neither the characters, nor the duration of it, agree; but the Roman empire, which succeeded the Grecian, so Gorionides F7: dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly;
exceeding powerful, as the Roman empire was, and terrible to all the kingdoms of the earth; its armies, wherever they came, struck terror among the nations, and threw them into a panic, killing, wasting, robbing all they met with F8; and especially it was terrible to Christians, by their persecutions of them, as both Rome Pagan and Rome Papal have been. Rome has its name from strength with the Greeks, and from height with the Hebrews, as Jerom F9 observes: it had great iron teeth;
which may design its generals and emperors, such as Scipio, Pompey, Julius Caesar, and others; which crushed and devoured all that came in their way: this monarchy answers to the legs and feet of iron in Nebuchadnezzar's dream: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet
it devoured nations, broke kingdoms in pieces, and brought them in subjection to them; reducing them to the greatest servitude, and obliging them to pay heavy taxes and tribute: it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it:
in its original, language, laws, customs, and forms of government; it was such a monster, that no name could be given it; there was no one beast in nature to which it could be compared; it had all the ill properties of the other beasts, for craft, cruelty oppression, and tyranny; and therefore John describes this same beast as being like a leopard, having the feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion. ( Revelation 13:2 ) : and it had ten horns;
which are explained of ten kings or kingdoms, ( Daniel 7:24 ) , the same with the ten toes in Nebuchadnezzar's dream and with the ten kings that received power as kings with the beast or ten kingdoms, into which the Roman empire was divided about the time of the rise of antichrist,(See Gill on Revelation 17:12).
F7 (Curt. Hist.) l. 3. c. 15. p. 221.
F8 Raptores Orbis Taciti Vita Agricolae, c. 30.
F9 Adv. Jovinian. l. 2. fol. 32. L.