Following Alexander’s death, the division of his empire eventually ended up in the dueling hands of several of his generals and their heirs. When time and force had settled things, Egypt began a long slide into decline ending up as a stripped and subjugated province of Rome.
Three great empires followed Egypt and figure prominently in the Old Testament, and a fourth in the New Testament.
The Four Kingdoms of Daniel
It was written that what Daniel was shown was then sealed and later opened by Christ in the Revelation. The first of the four mentioned kingdoms listed in Daniel 2 is Chaldea. To offer a summary: The Chaldean empire, first subdued Assyria, then Egypt, and beginning in BC 587, the Southern Kingdom of Israel (known as Judah – with the countryside known as Judaea). It also pushed eastward in forays to the Indian sub-continent. It had its beginnings under Nabopolassar and continued to grow in strength under the Nebuchadnezzar’s. It fell while under the rule of Nabonidus, who shared the throne with his son Belshazzar as co-regent. Nabonidus spent his time off in the far reaches fighting and on various expeditions, while Belshazzar ran things in his absence. That is behind Belshazzar’s having offered Daniel to “be third ruler in the kingdom” (Dan. 5:16). The empire is dated from BC 650 to 539.
The Chaldeans were overrun by the Medes (some suggest Nabonidus did not make it home alive), and both were absorbed by the Persians in less than a generation. The rule of the Medes, Persians and the combined empire, known as the Achaemenes, spanned from approximately 550 to 247. Median emperors included Darius the Great (mentioned in Ezek. 4:24). Of the notable rulers of the combined empire: Cyrus of Persia (mentioned in Isa. 45:1 and elsewhere) and Ahasuerus or Xerxes (listed in Esther and elsewhere). The Persians pushed through the Mid-East and into the Indian sub-continent much as the Chaldeans had earlier. Xerxes 1 (BC 486 – 465), crossed the Bosporus Strait with the largest military force ever to enter Europe, at over 1 million strong.
The Persians were defeated by the Macedonian or Grecian Empire, which was consolidated under Philip the Second, and dated roughly between 400 to 323. Alexander completed the absorption of the Persians before his death from influenza in Babylon in BC 323. He had seized most of the real estate that would later come under Roman rule. Following his death, a power struggle ensued for about 40 years until the Grecian Empire fell under the control of the families of four of Alexander’s commanders: Lysimachus, Ptolamaeus, Seleucus, and Cassander. Typically, there were wars and attempts on territories and thrones near continuously for about 150 years, between the heirs to Alexander. Even though the fractured kingdoms and lines remained largely intact up to the half-century before Christ. The Macedonian Empire, and its remnant kingdoms spanned from India through Mesopotamia in the Near East, south to Egypt, north and east across the Mediterranean. The three full empires are named in the book of Daniel: Babylon is mentioned throughout – the Medo-Persians in chapters 5:28, 6:8 and 15, and 9:1, – the Macedonian in 8:21, 10:20, and 11:2. The one of the four not named in the book of Daniel is Rome.
Rome followed Grecia. It figures prominently in any study of New Testament times, and is central to studies concerning the book of Revelation and the fulfillment of the prophesies listed there.