“But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth.” Daniel 2:39
The second kingdom was inferior to Nebuchadnezzar’s. Babylon’s section was made of gold, this one of silver. The chest and arms of silver represented the Medo-Persian Empire, which endured for more than two hundred years, from approximately 539 to 331 BC. The two arms depicted on the image represented the divided nature of the second empire, which consisted of two branches: the Medes and the Persians.
Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel all prophesied that the Medes and the Persians would overtake the Babylonian Empire. Isaiah quoted God as saying, “Look, I will stir up the Medes against Babylon. They cannot be tempted by silver or bribed with gold. The attacking armies will shoot down the young men with arrows. They will have no mercy on helpless babies and will show no compassion for children.” (Isaiah 13:17-18) Another prophecy said that the Medes would expand beyond Babylonia and affect all nations. “Prepare against her the nations, with the kings of the Medes, Its governors and all its rulers, all the land of his dominion. And the land will tremble and sorrow; for every purpose of the Lord shall be performed against Babylon, to make the land of Babylon desolation without inhabitant.” (Jeremiah 51:28-29) Jeremiah provides the reason for the Medo-Persian ascendancy: “to destroy Babylon” and gain “vengeance for God’s temple”. Daniel interpreted a dream which also foretold the fall of Babylon
“Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah.” (Ezra 1:1-2) Cyrus allowed all the Jews to return to Judah. Not only did Cyrus release the Jews, but he also returned the stolen temple articles and paid for the Jews’ rebuilding efforts from the royal treasury. This was a monumental time in Israel’s history, as Jerusalem and the temple were rebuilt and the Law was reinstituted.