feet of clay

a flaw or weakness in a highly respected person
—When Mrs. Lin was caught stealing, we found out that one more of our leaders had feet of clay.

One of the enemies of the Israelites was Babylon. The Babylonians attacked Judah three times, each time taking captives back to their own country. One of the Jewish captives taken to Babylon was Daniel, to whom God gave the ability to interpret dreams. Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king, had a dream, and he demanded that someone tell him what it meant, even without the king sharing what the dream had been. No one could do this except for Daniel, who said,

You, O king, were watching as a great statue—one of impressive size and extraordinary brightness—was standing before you. Its appearance caused alarm. As for that statue, its head was of fine gold, its chest and arms were of silver, its belly and thighs were of bronze. Its legs were of iron; its feet were partly of iron and partly of clay [feet part of iron and part of clay]. You were watching as a stone was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its iron and clay feet [feet that were of iron and clay], breaking them in pieces. Then the iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold were broken in pieces without distinction and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors that the wind carries away. Not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the statue became a large mountain that filled the entire earth. (Daniel 2:31-35)

The statue in the king’s dream represented a succession of kingdoms, with the feet of iron and clay being a final divided kingdom, which would ultimately be destroyed by another, greater kingdom established by God.In modern usage, the meaning of feet of clay has shifted from “a weak kingdom” to “a weakness in a person who was previously held in high esteem.”

Today, the word Babylon can be used to mean “a place of great luxury, often with corruption and immorality.”

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