These great beasts, which are four, are four kings
Or kingdoms, as the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions; and so Jarchi, Aben Ezra, and Saadiah; so the fourth beast is called the fourth kingdom, ( Daniel 7:23 ) or a succession of kings in four kingdoms or monarchies, comparable to beasts for their strength, cruelty, and tyranny: these are the words of him that stood by, of one of the angels Daniel applied to, to know the meaning of his dream; and might be better rendered, "as to these F3 great beasts, which are four"; for their quality beasts, for their quantity great, and for number four. The meaning is, four kings shall arise out of the earth;
or kingdoms; which have an earthly original and foundation; are supported by earthly and worldly means, and with earthly and worldly views; and are different from the kingdom of Christ and his saints, which is not of the world, though it may be in it: this explains what is meant by the great sea, from whence these beasts are said to come up, ( Daniel 7:3 ) , nor is it any material objection that the first of these kingdoms, the Babylonian, was risen already, and almost at an end; since the denomination is taken from the larger number; three of them were to arise, and the first was of the same original with them; thus it is said, ( Daniel 11:2 ) , that three kings of Persia should stand up, and yet Cyrus, who was one of them, reigned already.
F3 "Quod attinet", Michaelis.