Rosh Chodesh Bet
(See Part 1.)
As you can see from the comments to Part 1, we're already seeing the various opinions brought from our Sages in the past who were speculating from a place of scholarship that none of us can even dream of attaining and yet they were working at a great disadvantage as well. Daniel was commanded to "obscure" the words so their meaning would not be discernible by generations far removed from "the time of the end." However, those living in those days may be able to figure it out, and it might not take a high level of Torah knowledge to do it either.
"As for you, Daniel, obscure the matters and seal the book until the time of the end; let many muse and knowledge increase." (Daniel 12:4)Why would the words be recorded and passed down for thousands of years if there would not come a time when people could understand it? If we are truly living at the End of Days, as all of the rabbis are saying, this must have been meant for "us." So, on to Part 2...
The Artscroll Commentary on Sefer Daniel says the following:
According to R' Saadia Gaon [882-942], the Roman Empire is composed of ten governments of monarchies:
- the Roman emperor in Constantinople (ruler of the Byzantine Empire);
- the king of Armenia;
- the king of Hungary;
- the king of Germany (Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire);
- the king of Bulgaria;
- the king of Canaan (i.e., the western Slavic countries - Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia);
- the king of France;
- the king of Spain;
- the king of Russia; and,
- the king of Yishmael (the Arabic empire) who is included among the rulers of the Roman Empire.
Malbim [1809 - 1879] advances the possibility that [malichin] in v. 24 are kingdoms; thus the Roman Empire would disintegrate and split into smaller units, of which ten countries would be considered the major powers. He does not elaborate on this.Since the exact meanings of Daniel's words have been purposely hidden from earlier generations, I think the time during which the commentator lived is important to his outlook. Clearly R' Saadia Gaon was looking at events current to his time and noted how history was developing the record. Malbim, living later in the exile, also had the benefit of historical hindsight to make his own observation, but he did not live long enough to recognize the "sprouting of the little horn."
If you Google European Monarchies in the Middle Ages, this is what you find...
The Early Middle Ages begin with a fragmentation of the former Western Roman Empire [as Malbim noted] into "barbarian kingdoms". In Western Europe, the kingdom of the Franks developed into the Carolingian Empire by the 8th century, and the kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England were unified into the kingdom of England by the 10th century. With the breakup of the Carolingian Empire in the 9th century, the system of feudalism places kings at the head of a pyramid of relationships between liege lords and vassals, dependent on the regional rule of barons, and the intermediate positions of counts (or earls) and dukes. The core of European feudal manorialism in the High Middle Ages were the territories of the kingdom of France, the Holy Roman Empire (centered on the nominal kingdoms of Germany and Italy) and the kingdoms of England and Scotland. With the rise of nation-states and the Protestant Reformation, the theory of divine right justified the king's absolute authority in both political and spiritual matters.
(5) Germany-Italy (still called the Holy Roman Empire),
(10) Austria.History, as well as current events, prove the fact that the Roman Empire did fragment and devolve, first into kingdoms and then into democratic nation-states, as they continue to exist today. But, something phenomenal happened that the earlier commentators possibly could not have imagined.
Three of those kingdoms became empires in their own right, at different points in time, and went exploring. In the process, they discovered the New World and began to colonize it.
And the ten horns that sprout from that kingdom represent ten kings that will rise, and the last one will rise after them, and he will be different from the first, and he will humble three kings.The discovery, exploration, development and colonization of the North American continent by Britain, France and Spain created a situation whereby a "new little horn" rose up from them, but actually came about 800 years after them. It was different from them in that when it declared its independence, it was not a monarchy like all the rest, it had eyes and a mouth like a person because it was ruled by the people. And these three kingdoms, who were in turn great empires in their own rights, would one day be humbled, replaced and dominated by the "little" horn that they had established, but whose "appearance" would become "greater than theirs" - the Final Iteration of the Roman Empire - The United States of America.
I asked Google, "What country has the most military bases around the world?" And the answer was...
is the largest operator of military bases abroad, with 38 "named bases" having active duty, national guard, reserve or civilian personnel as of September 30, 2014. Its largest, in terms of personnel, was United States Ramstein ABin , with almost 9,200 personnel. Germany
I don't believe that any of our commentators, with the benefit of living in our times, would deny that America is the epitome of Rome in our days. Further, if we truly are at the "end," then the only thing left is for the power to be handed over to Yisrael. There is already an undeniable transition going on, evidenced by the State of Israel's (soon to become the Kingdom of Israel) rising stature in the world at the same time that the dominant world power, the US, evokes derision among many nations and is collapsing internally from debt, disaster and disease.
The fourth and final exile is finally coming to an end, and we can see it happening!
Proceed to Part 3 - "A Time, Times, and a Half".
May any learning from this blog post go to the merit of Rabbi Alon Yehudah Yosef ben Chanah Miriam for a refuah shleimah bimehira. Amen!