1 In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, even to me, Daniel, after that which appeared to me at the first. 2 I saw in the vision; now it was so, that when I saw, I was in the citadel of Susa, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in the vision, and I was by the river Ulai. 3 Then I lifted up my eyes, and saw, and behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last. 4 I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; and no animals could stand before him, neither was there any who could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and magnified himself. 5 As I was considering, behold, a male goat came from the west over the surface of the whole earth, and didn't touch the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. 6 He came to the ram that had the two horns, which I saw standing before the river, and ran on him in the fury of his power. 7 I saw him come close to the ram, and he was moved with anger against him, and struck the ram, and broke his two horns; and there was no power in the ram to stand before him; but he cast him down to the ground, and trampled on him; and there was none who could deliver the ram out of his hand. 8 The male goat magnified himself exceedingly: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and instead of it there came up four notable (horns) toward the four winds of the sky. 9 Out of one of them came forth a little horn, which grew exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the glorious (land). 10 It grew great, even to the army of the sky; and some of the army and of the stars it cast down to the ground, and trampled on them. 11 Yes, it magnified itself, even to the prince of the army; and it took away from him the continual (burnt offering), and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. 12 The army was given over (to it) together with the continual (burnt offering) through disobedience; and it cast down truth to the ground, and it did (its pleasure) and prospered. 13 Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said to that certain one who spoke, How long shall be the vision (concerning) the continual (burnt offering), and the disobedience that makes desolate, to give both the sanctuary and the army to be trodden under foot? 14 He said to me, To two thousand and three hundred evenings (and) mornings; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. 15 It happened, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, that I sought to understand it; and behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. 16 I heard a man's voice between (the banks of) the Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. 17 So he came near where I stood; and when he came, I was frightened, and fell on my face: but he said to me, Understand, son of man; for the vision belongs to the time of the end. 18 Now as he was speaking with me, I fell into a deep sleep with my face toward the ground; but he touched me, and set me upright. 19 He said, Behold, I will make you know what shall be in the latter time of the indignation; for it belongs to the appointed time of the end. 20 The ram which you saw, that had the two horns, they are the kings of Media and Persia. 21 The rough male goat is the king of Greece: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. 22 As for that which was broken, in the place where four stood up, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not with his power. 23 In the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce face, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. 24 His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper and do (his pleasure); and he shall destroy the mighty ones and the holy people. 25 Through his policy he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and in (their) security shall he destroy many: he shall also stand up against the prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand. 26 The vision of the evenings and mornings which has been told is true: but seal up the vision; for it belongs to many days (to come). 27 I, Daniel, fainted, and was sick certain days; then I rose up, and did the king's business: and I wondered at the vision, but none understood it.
Analysis of the Chapter
This chapter contains an account of a vision seen by the prophet in the third year of the reign of Belshazzar. The prophet either was, or appeared to be, in the city of - afterward the capital of the Persian empire, in the province of Elam. To that place - then an important town - there is no improbability in supposing that he had gone, as he was then unconnected with the government, or not employed by the government Daniel. 5, and as it is not unreasonable to suppose that he would be at liberty to visit other parts of the empire than Babylon. Possibly there may have been Jews at that place, and he may have gone on a visit to them. Or perhaps the scene of the vision may have been laid in Shushan, by the river Ulai, and that the prophet means to represent himself as if he had been there, and the vision had seemed to pass there before his mind. But there is no valid objection to the supposition that he was actually there; and this seems to be affirmed in Daniel 8:2.
While there, he saw a ram with two horns, one higher than the other, pushing westward, and northward, and southward, so powerful that nothing could oppose him. As he was looking on this, he saw a he-goat come from the west, bounding along, and scarcely touching the ground, with a single remarkable horn between his eyes. This he-goat attacked the ram, broke his two horns, and overcame him entirely. The he-goat became very strong, but at length the horn was broken, and there came up four in its place. From one of these there sprang up a little horn that became exceeding great and mighty, extending itself toward the south, and the east, and the pleasant land - the land of Palestine. This horn became so mighty that it seemed to attack "the host of heaven" - the stars; it cast some of them down to the ground; it magnified itself against the Prince of the host; it caused the daily sacrifice in the temple to cease, and the sanctuary of the Prince of the host was cast down.
An earnest inquiry was made by one saint to another how long this was to continue, and the answer was, unto two thousand and three hundred days, and that then the sanctuary would be cleansed. Gabriel is then sent to explain the vision to the prophet, and he announces that the ram with the two horns represented the kings of Media and Persia; the goat, the king of Greece; the great horn between his eyes, the first king; the four horns that sprang up after that was broken, the four dynasties into which the kingdom would be divided; and the little horn, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, and that would stand up against the Prince of princes, and that would ultimately be destroyed. The effect of this was, that Daniel was overcome by the vision for a certain time; afterward he revived, and attended to the business of the king, but none understood the vision.
This is one of the few prophecies in the Scriptures that are explained to the prophets themselves, and it becomes, therefore, important as a key to explain other prophecies of a similar character. Of the reference to the kingdom of Media and Persia, and to the kingdom of Greece, there is an express statement. The application of a portion of the prophecy to Alexander the Great, and to the four monarchies into which his kingdom was divided at his death, is equally certain. And there can be as little doubt of the application of the remainder to Antiochus Epiptianes, and in this, nearly all expositors are agreed. Indeed, so striking and clear is the application to this series of historical events, that Porphyry maintained that this, as well as other portions of Daniel, were written after the events occurred. One of two things, indeed, is certain - either that this was written after the events here referred to occurred, or that Daniel was inspired. No man by any natural sagacity could have predicted these events with so much accuracy and particularity.
The portion of Daniel which follows is in pure Hebrew. The portion of the book from the fourth verse of the second chapter to the end of the seventh chapter was written in Chaldee. On this point, see Intro. Section IV. III. (1).
This chapter contains Daniel's vision of the ram and he-goat, Daniel 8:1-14; referring, as explained by the angel, to the Persian and Grecian monarchies, Daniel 8:15-26. The little horn mentioned in the ninth verse, (or fierce king, as interpreted in the twenty-third), is supposed by some to denote Antiochus Epiphanes; but seems more properly to apply to the Roman power in general, by which the polity and temple of the Jews were destroyed, on account of the great transgressions of these ancient people of God; and particularly because of their very obstinate and unaccountable rejection of the glorious doctrines of Christianity, which had been preached among them by Jesus Christ and his apostles, and the truth of which God had attested "by signs and wonders, and by divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost." Daniel is then informed of the two thousand and three hundred prophetic days (that is, years) which must elapse before the sanctuary be cleansed; or, in other words, before righteousness shall prevail over the whole earth. This period is supposed, with considerable probability to have had its commencement when Alexander the Great invaded Asia, in the year before Christ 334. This will bring the close of it to about the end of the Sixth chiliad of the world; when, as already observed, some astonishing changes are expected to take place in the moral condition of the human race; when the power of Antichrist, both Papal and Mohammedan, shall be totally annihilated, and universal dominion given to the saints of the Most High. The chapter concludes with the distress of Daniel on account of the fearful judgments with which his country should be visited in after ages, Daniel 8:27.
INTRODUCTION TO DANIEL 8
This chapter contains the vision of a ram and he goat, and the interpretation of it. It begins with observing the time and place of the vision, Daniel 8:1, then describes the ram seen; by the place of his situation; by his two horns; and by his pushing several ways with so much force and fury, that none could stand before him, or deliver: out of his hands, Daniel 8:3 next the he goat appears, and is described by the part from whence he came; the swiftness of his motion; the notable horn between his eyes; and his running to ram in great fury, smiting him between his horns, casting him to the ground, and trampling upon him, and none to deliver, Daniel 8:5 but, after waxing great and powerful, its horn was broken, and four more rose up in its stead, and out of one of them a little horn, Daniel 8:8 which little horn is described by its power and prevalence to the south and to the east, towards the pleasant land, the host of heaven, and the Prince of the host; and by it the stars were cast down and trampled upon, the daily sacrifice made to cease; the place of the sanctuary cast down, and truth itself, Daniel 8:9, and upon inquiry it appeared that these sacred things were to continue in this desolate condition unto 2300 days, Daniel 8:13. Daniel being desirous of knowing the meaning of this vision, the Angel Gabriel is ordered by Christ to give him an understanding of it; who drew near to him, and awaked him out of his sleep, and gave him the interpretation of it; Daniel 8:15, which is as follows; the ram; with two horns, signifies the kings of Media and Persia; the rough goat, the king of Greece; and the great horn the first king, Alexander the great; and the four horns, four kingdoms which rose up out of the Grecian empire upon his death, Daniel 8:20, and the little horn a king of fierce countenance, Antiochus Epiphanes; who is, described by his craft, and cunning, by his power and might, and by the destruction he should make; Daniel 8:23, this vision the angel assures the prophet was true, and bids him shut it up, since it was for many days, Daniel 8:26, upon which Daniel fainted, and was sick for a time; but afterwards recovered, so as to be able to do the king's business; but astonished at the vision himself, and which was not understood by others, Daniel 8:27.
Part Second - The Development of the Kingdom of God - Daniel 8-12
This Part contains three revelations which Daniel received during the reigns of Belshazzar, Darius the Mede, and Cyrus the Persian, regarding the development of the kingdom of God. After describing in the First Part the development of the world-power and its relation to the people and kingdom of God from the days of Nebuchadnezzar, its founder, down to the time of its final destruction by the perfected kingdom of God, in this Second Part it is revealed to the prophet how the kingdom of God, in war against the power and enmity of the rulers of the world, and amid severe oppressions, is carried forward to final victory and is perfected.
The first vision, Daniel 8, represents what will happen to the people of God during the developments of the second and third world-kingdoms. The second revelation, Daniel 9, gives to the prophet, in answer to his penitential prayer for the restoration of the ruined holy city and the desolated sanctuary, disclosures regarding the whole development of the kingdom of God, from the close of the Babylonish exile to the final accomplishment of God's plan of salvation. In the last vision, in the third year of Cyrus, Daniel 10-12, he received yet further and more special revelations regarding the severe persecutions which await the people of God for their purification, in the nearer future under Antiochus Epiphanes, and in the time of the end under the last foe, the Antichrist.
At Susa, in the province of Elam, Daniel saw in vision (Daniel 8:1, Daniel 8:2) a ram with two horns, which a he-goat coming from the west, running over the earth, having a great horn on his brow, smote and destroyed (Daniel 8:3-7). After that the goat waxed very mighty, till his great horn was broken; and in its place four notable horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven, and out of one of them there came forth a little horn, which directed its might toward the south and the east and toward the holy land, contended against the host of heaven, and magnified itself to the Prince of the heavenly host, took away the daily sacrifice, and desolated the place of the sanctuary (Daniel 8:8-12). He then hears from an angel how long this sacrilege shall continue (Daniel 8:13, Daniel 8:14). Another angel thereafter gives him an explanation (Daniel 8:15-26) of the vision; and with a remark (Daniel 8:27) regarding the effect of this revelation on the mind of Daniel, the chapter closes.
This vision, it is manifest from the definition of the time in Daniel 8:1, stands in relation to the vision of the foregoing chapter, and in its contents is united to it also in so far as it gives more particular revelations regarding the relations of the second and third world-kingdoms, which are only briefly set forth in Daniel 7. But notwithstanding this point of union, this chapter does not form a mere appendix to the foregoing, but gives a new revelation regarding a phase in the development of the world-power and its enmity against the people of God of which nothing is prophesied in Daniel 7. The opinion that this chapter forms only an appendix to Daniel 7 is based on the erroneous idea that the fourth world-kingdom, the Macedonian, and the little horn in Daniel 7 are identical with that prophesied of in this chapter.
(Note: According to the modern critics (Berth., v. Leng., Hitz., Bleek), this chapter must have been written shortly before the re-consecration of the temple, or immediately thereafter, before or immediately after the death of Antiochus Epiphanes. This supposition is drawn from Daniel 8:14, according to which the period of oppression shall continue 2300 evening-mornings. But, overlooking the circumstance that these critics cannot agree as to the reckoning of this period of time, and thus announce the uncertainty of their hypothesis, the whole of the other contents of the chapter stand in contradiction to this supposition. It contains no hint whatever of the great victories of the Maccabees which preceded the consecration of the temple, and first made it possible, but, on the contrary, speaks of the oppression as continuing unchanged till the oppressor is himself destroyed (Daniel 8:25), and then it breaks off without any Messianic view, as one should expect from a parenetic poem of a Maccabean Jews; so that Bleek finds himself compelled from his own resources to add "the intimation, that the beginning of the deliverance destined by God for His people is closely and immediately joined to the discontinuance of the worship of Jehovah by Antioch. Epiph., and to the destruction of this prince," in order to give to the vision "a Messianic character.")
*More commentary available by clicking individual verses.