by Mike Ratliff
1 In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, Dan-iel, after that which appeared to me at the first. 2 And I saw in the vision; and when I saw, I was in Susa the capital, which is in the province of Elam. And I saw in the vision, and I was at the Ulai canal. 3 I raised my eyes and saw, and behold, a ram standing on the bank of the canal. It had two horns, and both horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last. 4 I saw the ram charging westward and northward and southward. No beast could stand before him, and there was no one who could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great. (Daniel 8:1-4 ESV)
Many of the Old Testament prophecies have already been fulfilled. For instance, Jesus Christ fulfilled every one of the prophecies that spoke of His first coming, His torture, His death, His burial, etc. We have now arrived at Daniel Chapter 8. Daniel switches from Aramaic, which he used from 2:4b through 7:28, back to Hebrew starting in 8:1 through the end of His book. In Chapter 8 we will look at some already fulfilled prophecies and also how one of the characters from those that have been fulfilled also prefigures another character that is still future to us.
Daniel has another vision two years after the one from Chapter 7. In this vision Daniel sees himself at the Persian city of Susa. This does not mean that he was physically there. He may have still been in Babylon since the Medo-Persian Empire had not yet come to power. He sees himself at the Ulai canal. Some translations call it a river. He looked and saw a Ram standing on the bank of the canal. It had two horns, one higher than the other. They were both high, but the higher grew taller later. No one could withstand his power.
The first part of Daniel’s vision reveals a Ram that represents the Medo-Persian Empire. The two horns represent the Medes and the Persians. The Persians provided the civilization and the Medes provided the military might. At the beginning of the empire the Medes were more powerful, but the Persians soon dominated after the fall of Babylon. The Medo-Persian Empire became huge. It covered the entire near East and threatened to spread into Europe with invasions into Greece. It did conquer Egypt. The Ram corresponds to the Bear from Daniels vision from Chapter 6 and the silver portion of the image from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream from Chapter 2.
5 As I was considering, behold, a male goat came from the west across the face of the whole earth, without touching the ground. And the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes. 6 He came to the ram with the two horns, which I had seen standing on the bank of the canal, and he ran at him in his powerful wrath. 7 I saw him come close to the ram, and he was enraged against him and struck the ram and broke his two horns. And the ram had no power to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled on him. And there was no one who could rescue the ram from his power. 8 Then the goat became exceedingly great, but when he was strong, the great horn was broken, and instead of it there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven. (Daniel 8:5-8 ESV)
The next part of Daniel’s vision pertains to a male goat with one conspicuous horn that moved so swiftly that it appeared to not touch the ground. The Ram with the two horns falls before the great wrath of the goat. The two horns of the ram are broken and no one could come to his aid. The goat became great and strong, but the great horn became broken. In its place four horns came up towards all directions.
The goat was the Greek Empire under Alexander the Great. This corresponds to the Leopard from Daniel’s vision in Chapter 7 and the Bronze part of the image from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream from Chapter 2. His army was contained 35,000 men. The Persian army was much bigger. However, Alexander’s leadership enabled him to win every battle. However, as soon as the Medo-Persian Empire became his, Alexander died. The empire was split into four parts governed by his four generals. It was split into four sections: Macedonia, Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt.
9 Out of one of them came a little horn, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land. 10 It grew great, even to the host of heaven. And some of the host and some of the stars it threw down to the ground and trampled on them. 11 It became great, even as great as the Prince of the host. And the regular burnt offering was taken away from him, and the place of his sanctuary was overthrown. 12 And a host will be given over to it together with the regular burnt offering because of transgression, and it will throw truth to the ground, and it will act and prosper. 13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the one who spoke, “For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot?” 14 And he said to me, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.” (Daniel 8:9-14 ESV)
General Seleucus received Syria. His descendants were the Seleucids. The little horn refers to Aniochus Epiphanes, a Seleucid, who came to power in 175 B.C. He was not in line to be king, but took the throne by deceit. The name “Epiphanes” means, “God made manifest.” He sought to force Greek culture on the Jews. He attempted to bring the Jews into line with the rest of the Greek empire through changing their culture. In fact, he was successful in bringing many of the “free-thinking” priesthood into abandoning the Jewish Religion. However, there was a hard-core group of priests and common people who refused to be “assimilated” into Hellenistic cultic religion along with its immoral cultural values. The more he tried to force his will on the Jews the more obstinate the resistance became leading to revolt. Antiochus Epiphanes announced a law requiring all citizens to present themselves four times a year to pay formal homage to him as the senior god of the Seleucids. The day chosen for these periodic submissions was Shabbat, when Jews preferred not to leave their homes, this being their day of prayer. Epiphanes was met by revolt and the setting up of a small state in which the high priest was the central figure. This was the Maccebean revolt which gained the Jews their independence. Antiochus Epiphanes occupied Jerusalem. He entered the temple. In the Holy of Holies he desecrated the sanctuary by offering unclean animals upon the alter of burnt-offerings. Then he polluted the whole building by sprinkling it with water in which flesh had been boiled. Then he dedicated the Temple itself to Jupiter Olympius, and erected the statue of that deity and plundered the temple treasures. This was called the Abomination of Desolation.
In v10 we read of the little horn throwing some of the stars of heaven to the ground and trampling on them. What does this mean? The best commentaries I have read on this verse say it is describing the persecution against the Jewish people in picturesque language. The stars are the Jewish people themselves. Other examples of this in scripture are found in Genesis 12:3, Genesis 15:5, Genesis 22:17, Exodus 12:41 and Deuteronomy 1:10. In v11 we have a description of Antiochus Epiphanes demanding sacrifice and worship. We know that the temple sacrifices ultimately were directed to our Lord, the Prince of Princes. When the little horn demands that those sacrifices be directed to him then he was exalting himself over our Lord Himself. In v13-14 we read of how long this little horn will be able to trample on the Jews and their religion. The answer is 2,300 evenings and mornings. This is describing a period of 6 1/3 years of sacrificing a lamb twice a day on the altar of sacrifice. This shows us how precise this prophecy was because the persecution under Antiochus ran from September 6 171 B.C. to December 25, 165/4 B.C. When he died, the Jews cleansed the temple. This began the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah.
15 When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it. And behold, there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. 16 And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, and it called, “Gabriel, make this man 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, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end.”
18 And when he had spoken to me, I fell into a deep sleep with my face to the ground. But he touched me and made me stand up. 19 He said, “Behold, I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation, for it refers to the appointed time of the end. 20 As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia. 21 And the goat is the king of Greece. And the great horn between his eyes is the first king. 22 As for the horn that was broken, in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his nation, but not with his power. 23 And at the latter end of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their limit, a king of bold face, one who understands riddles, shall arise. 24 His power shall be great-but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints. 25 By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall become great. Without warning he shall destroy many. And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken-but by no human hand. 26 The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true, but seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now.”
27 And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days. Then I rose and went about the king’s business, but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it. (Daniel 8:15-27 ESV)
The “time of the end” from v19 is referring to a time late in the period of time that is in the historical view of this prophecy. In other words, this is the end of the time of the Greek Empire in the form of four kingdoms. The little horn is obviously Antiochus Epiphines (175-164 B.C.) He did persecute the Jews and died of natural causes. Men did not kill him and he did defy God. He prefigures the Antichrist who is yet to come. We see that Antiochus is a pattern for him. We will see more of this when we get to Chapter 11.
Powered by Qumana