Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. Daniel 2:39b
The third kingdom, the Greek Empire, did begin an absolute monarchy with Alexander the Great, but upon his death his kingdom was divided. The Diadochi (from Greek: Διάδοχοι, Diadokhoi, meaning “Successors”) were the rival generals, families and friends of Alexander the Great who fought for control over his empire.
A DIVIDED EMPIRE
The Greek Empire split into four main kingdoms. In relation to Israel, Seleucus ruled in the north in Syria and Iran, while Ptolemy ruled to the south in Egypt. Lysimachus ruled in Thrace, which was the land that bridged Macedonia and Asia, while Cassander ruled in the west in Macedonia including Greece.
In time the Greek Empire developed into a democracy and there was no longer a monarchy. Therefore in terms of rulership, the third kingdom of Greece was inferior to that of the Medes and the Persians, whose empire was inferior to that of King Nebuchadnezzar.
THE FOURTH KINGDOM
Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay. Daniel 2:40-43
The fourth kingdom is symbolized by iron. History tells us that this is the Roman Empire which conquered Greece. The first three kingdoms existed in Daniel's day, but Rome did not. So Daniel did not identify it directly by name. Rome was known as the “Iron Monarchy.” The Latin word “Rome” means strength and iron is the strongest of the metals.
The two legs have a prophetic meaning. Rome was always a nation of two divisions. When Jerusalem was captured, Rome was ruled by the dominant two triumvirates. The two legs of iron represent the northern and southern divisions of Rome as it conquered each Greek division. Politically, Israel was ruled by two ruling dynasties, the Caesars and the Herodians who were appointed by Rome. Geographically, it later became the Western and Eastern (Byzantine) empire as it declined. The western leg ruled the Christians and the eastern leg ruled the Jews. Religiously, it had two phases: these are Pagan Rome and Papal Rome.