The common language at the time of Jesus

After the Babylonian captivity, Aramaic replaced Biblical Hebrew as the everyday language in Israel.  However, Biblical Hebrew was still used for religious purposes.  After Alexander the Great, the Ptolemies and the Seleucids ruled Israel for almost two hundred years.  Thus, the Jewish culture was heavily influenced by this Hellenistic culture.  Koine Greek was used not only for international communication, but also as the first language of some Jews.  This development was furthered complicated by the fact that the largest Jewish community in the world lived in Ptolemaic Alexandria, Egypt.  Many of these diaspora Jews would have Greek as their first language.  Thus, first the Torah, and then other Hebrew scriptures, were translated into standard Koine Greek, the Septuagint.

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The divided mixed kingdom (Dan 2:41-2:43)

“As you saw

The feet

With the toes,

Partly of potter’s clay,

Partly of iron,

It shall be a divided kingdom.

Some of the strength

Of iron

Shall be in it,

Just as you saw

The iron mixed

With the clay.

As the toes

Of the feet were

Partly iron,

Partly clay,

Thus,

The kingdom shall be

Partly strong,

Partly brittle.

As you saw the iron

Mixed with clay,

Thus,

They will mix

With one another

In marriage.

But they will not

Hold together,

Just as iron

Does not mix

With clay.”

This appears to be a veiled reference to the future Greek iron kingdom with its problems between the different ruling parties of the Seleucids (312-63 BCE) and the Ptolemies (305-30 BCE). They each inherited parts of the Greek empire of Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE). They tried to join together through marriage, but that failed. Daniel here used the example of the feet made of iron and clay, the strength of the iron mixed with the weak clay. However, as the toes and feet became weak, so too this kingdom would be partly strong and partly brittle. Even a marriage could not hold it together, because iron and clay simply do not mix.