Where does the expression “feet of clay” come from?
©Jeremy Park, Bible-Scenes.com
In a dream recorded in Daniel 2:31-32, the Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar saw a statue in which all parts from head to legs were made from different metals (gold, silver, bronze or iron), while the feet were made of iron mixed with clay. In Daniel 2:41-43, Daniel interpreted this to mean that there would be a succession of three strong kingdoms represented by gold, silver and bronze. However, the fourth kingdom, represented by the iron legs with feet made of iron mixed with clay, would be partly strong and partly brittle. This last kingdom would be disunited and therefore weak, and could be easily crushed. In the dream, a rock struck and smashed the feet of the statue, and the whole statue fell and broke into small pieces.
Over the years, the image of the smashed feet causing the destruction of the whole statue has stuck in readers’ minds, and the expression feet of clay is now used to refer to a serious weakness or character flaw, especially in a person who is successful or powerful.