Notes on Daniel
Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 27 November 2009; Revised 30 April 2020
Scripture: Unless otherwise indicated Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB Updated Edition (1995). The text for this chapter may be found here. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Most versions can be accessed on the Internet.
Sources: Bibliographic data for sources cited may be found at the end of the article. The Septuagint (LXX) is the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, which was in use by Jews by the mid-2nd century BC. The LXX with English translation may be found here. Citations for Talmud tractates are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); found at Halakhah.com.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Hebraic and Jewish nature of Scripture I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament) and Besekh (New Testament), as well as the terms Yeshua (Jesus) and Messiah (Christ).
Vocabulary: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB."
Please see the Introduction for background information on the book of Daniel, interpretative approaches and historical context.
Introduction― Modern commentators consider this chapter to be the most important in Daniel, since it provides the background for important material for the apostolic writings. From a literary point of view it marks a transition in the book from historical events in Daniel's exile experience to personal vision narratives. This shift is particularly emphasized by the change from third person in the former chapters to the first person in the latter chapters. The transition also marks a change in the role of Daniel. In chapters one through six Daniel is presented as an interpreter of visions, but beginning in chapter seven he is a seer of visions. He changes from being a government administrator to a prophet of the God of Israel.
The historical sequence is often commented on since the visions are recorded in the order in which they were received in relation to the year of the ruling monarch. Chapter Seven occurs during the first year of Belshazzar, Chapter Eight occurs during the third year of Belshazzar, Chapter Nine occurs during the first year of Darius the Mede, and Chapter Ten through Twelve occurred during the third year of Cyrus the Persian (Darius the Mede). However, this arrangement of chapters does not correspond to the future as it would unfold. Chapter Seven contains material pertinent to the Second Advent of Messiah, Chapter Eight pertains to the advance of the Greek Empire and Chapter Nine contains material pertinent to the First Advent of Messiah.
Vision of Four Beasts, 7:1-8
Vision of Heaven, 7:9-14
Vision Explanation, 7:15-28
Vision of Four Beasts, 7:1-8
1― In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel saw a dream and visions in his mind as he lay on his bed; then he wrote the dream down and related the following summary of it.
First year: note the year reference and the identity of the king for Daniel's experience in this chapter. According to Babylonian records Belshazzar was appointed by his father as co-regent in his third year, about 553 B.C.. Daniel would have been about 67 years old. If the numbering follows the traditional practice of not counting the accession year, the "first year" would actually be the second year of Belshazzar's reign. Since Daniel had been demoted under Belshazzar, the vision may have been given to reassure the Jewish people that they were secure (Miller). Israel would survive this wicked king. Summary of it is lit. "the head [chief] of the words [or matters]" (Miller). In other words, Daniel recorded the "substance" (NIV) of the dream, though not necessarily every detail.
2― Daniel said, "I was looking in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea.
Four winds has been interpreted both literally and symbolically. "Wind" is Heb. ruach, which may mean breath, wind, or spirit (of man or of God) (BDB 924f). The "four winds" may mean the four directions of the compass. Global wind currents flow either east or west, depending on the latitude. North and south winds are a local or regional phenomenon. The word heaven, Heb. shamayim, a plural noun that refers to the sky overhead or atmosphere in which birds fly, interstellar space or the place where God dwells (BDB 1029). Since the four winds are "of heaven" ancient rabbis called these the cardinal winds, i.e., winds directly controlled by God (Sevener 67). The four winds could be the four spirits mentioned in Zechariah 6:5, since ruach has the dual meaning of wind and spirit. The figure of wind is used in other passages to represent God's judgments (Hos 8:7; Zech 7:14). Thus, the four winds or spirits facilitate the execution of God's plan as the four horse riders do in Revelation 6.
The great sea normally refers to the Mediterranean Sea (Num 34:6-7; Josh 1:4; 9:1; 15:12, 47; 23:4; Ezek 47:10, 15, 19-20, 28). Although Daniel would have known of the Great Sea, he may never have actually seen it. Miller interprets the "great sea" as symbolic of the earth since v. 3 says the four beasts come from the sea and then in v. 17 the beasts come from the earth. A similar contrast in sea and earth as points of origin occur in Revelation where the ten-horned beast arises from the sea (13:1) and the two-horned beast arises from the earth (13:11).
The sea is likened to the Gentile nations in other Scriptures:
"Alas, the uproar of many peoples who roar like the roaring of the seas, and the rumbling of nations who rush on like the rumbling of mighty waters!" (Isa 17:12)
"But the wicked are like the tossing sea, for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up refuse and mud." (Isa 57:20)
"Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, "Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters … And he said to me, "The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues." (Rev 17:1, 15)
Thus, Archer and Sevener (68) interpret the sea symbolically as representing the Gentile nations. Miller concludes that the sea represents turbulent humanity. That being said, the phrasing is specific. The "Great Sea" occurs only thirteen times in the Tanakh and none of the other verses have any symbolic meaning. Therefore, the straightforward meaning of this verse is that Daniel saw the four winds stirring up the Great Sea (the Mediterranean).
Stirring up: Aram. giyach, "to break forth," indicates the violent "effects that would be produced were the east, the west, the north, and the south winds to rise tempestuously, and meet on the surface of the sea" (Clarke). Morris sees the verb as describing the striving for mastery over the waves of the great Mediterranean Sea, not one after the other, but all together (DSB). On bodies of water winds generally create only weak currents near the surface that move in the same general direction as the wind only until it gets near a shoreline. The convergence of winds can cause storms. Ordinarily winds do not converge from all four directions, so this scene depicts a supernatural event. A violent upheaval of the sea would likely occur, perhaps more powerful than a Category 5 hurricane. This verse could allude to one of the signs of the very last days prophesied by Yeshua, "There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves" (Luke 21:25).
3― "And four great beasts were coming up from the sea, different from one another.
It appears that the function of the winds is to enable four terrible beasts to come forth from the sea. Beasts refers to animals in general, but here they are wild ferocious animals. On the basis of verse 17 it is clear that the beasts symbolize kingdoms, although in the absence of explanation in the biblical text any interpretation by Bible expositors is no better than a guess. There are two basic approaches for interpreting the beasts. Many commentators take a preterist approach treat them as symbolic of the same ancient kingdoms identified in Nebuchadnezzar's vision in Chapter Two. Morris takes a strictly futurist approach and interprets the beasts as contemporaneous kingdoms in the last days (DSB). Dispensationalists tend to interpret the fourth beast in a dual preterist/futurist fashion.
Coming up from the sea gives more definition to the point of origin of the beasts. They are not coming up from "humanity," but the abyss as said in Revelation of the beast (Rev 11:7; 13:1; 17:8). In his comment on Revelation 13:1, Henry Morris suggests that the beast coming out of the sea may mean that the shaft to the abyss from which the beast ascends is somewhere in the ocean (The Revelation Record, ad. loc.) See comment on "from the earth" in 7:17.
4― "The first was like a lion and had the wings of an eagle. I kept looking until its wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man; a human mind also was given to it.
The first beast Daniel saw was like a lion with the wings of an eagle. The word like is repeated in the descriptions indicating their symbolic purpose. In prophetic Scripture Babylon is likened to both a lion (Jer 4:7; 49:19, 22; 50:17, 44) and an eagle (Jer 49:22; Lam 4:19; Ezek 17:3; Hab 1:8). However, it should be noted that the lion is used metaphorically to refer to Judah (Gen 49:9), Dan (Deut 33:22), a Moabite warrior (2Sam 23:20). Assyria, too, is likened to a lion
"Israel is a scattered flock, the lions have driven them away. The first one who devoured him was the king of Assyria, and this last one who has broken his bones is Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon." (Jer 50:17)
The metaphor of both eagle and lion was used in reference to Saul and Jonathan (2Sam 1:23). Jeremiah in his grief over the destruction of Jerusalem likened God to both a bear and a lion (Lam 3:10).
Daniel's description does not specify how the beast was like a lion. Did he mean a complete lion with wings attached as in the Babylonian image or only the body of a lion with the head of an eagle or a man as found in many images and statutes throughout the Middle East and Greece. (Of interest is that a winged lion with a human head was found in the Assyrian palace of Ashurbanipal, thought by the people to ward off evil.)
The first beast may have resembled the griffin, a legendary creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. As the lion was traditionally considered the king of the beasts and the eagle was the king of the birds, the griffin was thought to be an especially powerful and majestic creature. Griffins are normally known for guarding treasure. In antiquity it was a symbol of divine power and a guardian of the divine. Use of the griffin dates at least as early as the 5th-4th century BC in Central Asia, probably originating from the Medo-Persian Empire.
According to Dictionary.com the griffin was a favorite decorative motif in the ancient Middle Eastern and Mediterranean lands, not just Babylon. Probably originating in the Levant [eastern shores of the Mediterranean] in the 2nd millennium B.C., the griffin had spread throughout western Asia and into Greece by the 14th century B.C.. The Asiatic griffin had a crested head, whereas the Minoan and Greek griffin usually had a mane of spiral curls. It was shown either recumbent or seated on its haunches, often paired with the sphinx.
More specifically, archaeology has shown that the winged lion was used as a symbol of Babylon's power (Sevener 70). Such images found on walls depict a complete lion with wings, although sometimes the image had a human head. Daniel then saw that the wings were torn off the lion and the figure morphed into a man, which Sevener believes represents the humbling of Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 4. Miller concurs that the winged lion represents Babylon.
Archer agrees, saying, "the lion symbol was characteristic of Babylon, especially in Nebuchadnezzar's time, when the Ishtar Gate entrance was adorned on either side with a long procession of yellow lions on blue-glazed brick, fashioned in high relief. As late as Alexander's conquest, the satrap Mazaeus used the lion as the reverse type on the Babylonian silver shekel--a practice continued for a time by Seleucus I."
Applying a futuristic interpretation, Henry Morris makes this comment:
"Of the nations currently prominent, one thinks immediately of the British lion and the American eagle in connection with the first beast. The plucking of its wings and its transmutation into a man are not explained and evidently are events yet to be fulfilled. It may be that the wings (ability to mount aerial invasions or defenses) will be somehow prevented from use by the Anglo-American alliance. Perhaps also, the eventual destruction of the fourth beast (Daniel 7:11) will coincide with spiritual revival in the first beast - but these are only speculations." (DSB)
Those taking the preterist approach see the plucking of the wings and causing the beast to stand like a man and being given a human mind to be reminiscent of Nebuchadnezzar's humiliation and restoration (Miller & Archer). There is a certain similarity between the image and the former king's experience in that the king personified the empire. However, the beast is supposed to symbolize a king and Nebuchadnezzar in his madness did not believe himself to be a lion.
5― "And behold, another beast, a second one, resembling a bear. And it was raised up on one side, and three ribs were in its mouth between its teeth; and thus they said to it, 'Arise, devour much meat!'
The second beast Daniel saw was a bear that had three ribs in its mouth. The bear is not as powerful or as fast as a lion, but it is still strong. Being raised up on one side means either that one side of the bear was larger than the other or that one side was higher because the legs on that part were raised for the purpose of going forward. The front paws of a bear are more powerful and versatile than the rear paws. For Archer and Miller this two-fold aspect of the bear aptly represents the partnership of the Medes and Persians with the Persians as the senior or higher partner. In 2:32 & 39 the Medo-Persian empire is symbolized by two arms and in 8:20 the Medo-Persian empire is symbolized by a ram with two horns. Commentators in general believe that the three ribs represent the military triumphs of the Persians. Clarke, Miller and Sevener agree that the ribs specifically symbolize the Persian conquests of Babylon (539 B.C.), Lydia (546 B.C.) and Egypt (525 B.C.).
Henry Morris says the "bear would seem to depict Russia and its allies. This colossus has indeed, "raised itself up more in the western side than in the east. It did ‘devour much flesh,' in terms of its baleful influence and control over so many other nations (at one time almost half the world)" (DSB). Morris likens the three ribs to the three Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia). This popular view among Dispensationalists really has no biblical support to commend it.
6― "After this I kept looking, and behold, another one, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird; the beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it.
The third beast Daniel saw was an animal with the body of a leopard, but it also had four wings on its back and four heads. The word leopard could be translated as panther or even tiger (Miller). Bird is a generic word for fowl that fly, but in this case probably refers to unclean birds of prey. The description does not conform to any real animal known to mankind and so has a certain mythical quality. The aspects of leopard and wings emphasize the speed of the beast, which Archer and Miller believe characterizes Alexander's conquest of the world. He began his invasion to the east in 334 B.C. and in ten years had reached the borders of India. Miller suggests the four wings may allude to the four quarters of the earth, signifying complete domination. However, Alexander did not invade to the west and Rome was powerful republic at the time.
Since "heads" symbolize ruling authority elsewhere in Scripture (Ex 18:25; Deut 1:13; 1Kgs 8:1; Ps 132:17; Mic 3:1; Zech 1:18; Rev 13:1; 17:12), then the four heads are typically interpreted to represent the four generals who received and divided the kingdom upon Alexander's death. The quadripartite character of the Hellenistic empire is mentioned alluded to in 8:8; 21-22. However, we need to consider that Babylon is also likened as a leopard (Jer 5:6, 15). For Henry Morris, the leopard represents an alliance of the pantheistic nations of the East with the four heads suggesting China, Japan, India and Indochina (DSB). The four wings may denote other nations in addition to the four heads. Revelation 16:12 speaks of the "kings of the east" marching toward Armageddon.
7― "After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.
The fourth beast was even more terrible than the preceding three with its size, strength, iron teeth and ten horns. While specific violent aggressiveness is only attributed to the second of the preceding beasts, the fourth beast both crushes (break in pieces) and tramples the remainder, whatever was left of its victims, with his feet. The fourth beast possesses no elegance or finesse.
Daniel does not give it a zoological category as the previous beasts, probably because he didn't know of any that would fit. It might be described as a dinosaur. Fossils of horned dinosaurs have been found called Ceratopsidae. A Ceratopsidae is shaped similar to a rhinoceros and characterized by a beak, rows of shearing teeth in the back of the jaw, and elaborate horns and a frill, the bony collar that projects rearward from the skull. The most famous of the horned dinosaurs is the Triceratops with three horns. With its ten horns Daniel's fourth beast might have resembled the Styracosaurus, which has several huge spikes protruding from its frill.
Elsewhere in Scripture horns symbolically represent kingdoms or royal power (cf. Ps 75:10; 89:24; 92:10; 132:17). Jeremiah 48:25 refers to the "horn of Moab." In Zechariah 1:18-21 four horns represent Gentile nations that have scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem. In Revelation 13:1; 17:12 horns represent kings. God Himself is likened to a horn in Psalm 18:2.
Those taking a preterist approach interpret the phrase that were before it to mean the successive appearance of the ancient empires. Morris insists that "before" is not a chronological term, since the other three nations are not "before" the fourth chronologically, but confrontationally (DSB). The same word also occurs in 7:8, 10, 13 and 20. "Before," Aram. qodam may mean either (1) a location, to wit, in front of or to the east or (2) a temporal time reference, such as ancient time or aforetime (BDB 869). As an adverb the noun means "eastward," i.e., to the east or on the east side (BDB 870). The narrative would suggest, then, that the territory of the first three beasts lay to the east of the fourth beast.
Archer, Miller and Sevener believe the fourth beast represents the Roman Empire, which corresponds to both meanings of qodam. Miller sees a correspondence between the iron teeth and the part of Nebuchadnezzar's statue made of iron. Archer sees "an unmistakable correspondence between these horns and the ten toes of the dream image" in chapter two. Miller goes even further to make the unwarranted assumption that since this beast had ten horns, then it must also have had ten toes consistent with Nebuchadnezzar's statue.
Morris connects the fourth beast with the beast of Revelation,
"Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority." (Rev 13:1-2)
This beast not only gains control of the other beasts but combines their lethal and evil characteristics (DSB).
8― "While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it; and behold, this horn possessed eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth uttering great boasts.
Daniel found the fourth beast much more compelling that the previous three. While he was trying to wrap his brain around the existence of such a terrifying image an incredible thing happened to the beast. An eleventh horn, a little one comparatively speaking, came up, presumably from the head. In other words, it began small and grew in size. In the process three of the ten horns were pulled out. With the horns symbolizing kings, it would mean the little horn began as a small kingdom but grew in power and was able to overthrow and subjugate three other kingdoms. The intent of the statement seems to indicate that the three kings were eliminated. Metaphorically this last king would be called little because he began with little stature and was someone that others would not have expected to rise to great power. There are many examples in history of men who were small in terms of social and political position and yet through extraordinary circumstances or clever strategy gained considerable influence and power.
Caesar Claudius (10 B.C. - A.D. 54) is a good example. He was reportedly afflicted with some type of disability, and was excluded from public office until his consulship with his nephew Caligula in A.D. 37. Apparently potential enemies did not see him as a serious threat and he survived the purges of Roman nobles during the reigns of Tiberius and Caligula. His very endurance led to his being declared emperor after Caligula's assassination, at which point he was the last adult male of his family. In modern times Hitler served as a Corporal in World War I and yet became the dictator of Germany and leader of the Axis Powers in World War II.
Daniel then witnessed the eleventh horn taken on human characteristics. The eyes of a man can indicate intelligence and reason as the term is used in Daniel 4:34, but elsewhere in Scripture it also represents a grasping or covetous desire. David says of his oppressors, "They have now surrounded us in our steps; they set their eyes to cast us down to the ground" (Ps 17:11). Solomon said, "Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, nor are the eyes of man ever satisfied" (Prov 27:20). Peter speaks of false prophets and false teachers as, "having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed" (2Pet 2:7). John refers to this evil as the "lust of the eyes" (1Jn 2:16). The little horn wants what belongs to someone else and will do anything to get it.
Having a boastful mouth indicates a distorted pride. The same revelation was given to John about the beast: "There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him. And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven" (Rev 13:5-6). Hannah's prayer contains this warning, "Boast no more so very proudly, do not let arrogance come out of your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and with Him actions are weighed" (1Sam 2:3). However, the eleventh king, having overcome three other kings, believes he can do anything and his power is unstoppable.
Historicist commentators as Clarke saw the little horn as symbolic of papal power. However, modern futurist commentators interpret the little horn as identical with the Man of Lawlessness (2Th 2:3) and Antichrist (1Jn 2:18) in the Besekh.
Vision of Heaven, 7:9-14
9― "I kept looking until thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow and the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, its wheels were a burning fire.
Daniel's eyes were firmly fixed on the unfolding vision. The mention of thrones (Aram. korse, "throne," which corresponds to Heb. kisseh, a "seat of honor," NASBEC) probably relates to the court in verse 10. In his revelation John saw twenty-four thrones in heaven upon which sat "elders" (Rev 4:4). There is considerable speculation among commentators regarding the identity of the throne occupants or elders, some considering them human (so Miller) and others as angelic (so Keil). The specific elements of being called an elder, wearing a white robe and crown would seem to favor the elders being humans. Outside of Revelation the term "elder" identifies leaders of Israel or men appointed by the apostles to preside over local congregations of believers (cf. Matt 15:2; Acts 14:23). In rabbinic literature the thrones are occupied by elders of Israel.
Other commentators believe the descriptions of the elders fit celestial beings or angels better than humans. In Scripture God is sometimes pictured surrounded by a council of heavenly beings, "A God greatly feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all those who are around Him" (Ps 89:7; cf. 1Kgs 22:19; Isa 24:23). White garments are the clothing of all the residents of heaven, including angels (Rev 15:6; 19:14; cf. John 20:12; Acts 1:10). The overcomers in Revelation are not seen wearing crowns, even though a crown is promised (2:10). The promised crown appears to be awarded after the resurrection. Every time John sees the elders they fall down on their faces in adoration of and reverence for the Creator (Rev 4:10; 5:8, 14; 7:11; 11:16; 19:4). Humans in heaven are always seen as standing (Rev 7:9; 14:1; 15:2). In all the utterances of the elders there is no specific testimony of Jesus being their personal redeemer and Savior. Of course, Daniel is not told who occupied the thrones, but it is reasonable to assume that they are angels.
Ancient of days refers to the eternal God who always was and always will be. He functions as the President or Chief Justice of the Heavenly Court and rules over the affairs of men. Daniel sees the eternal God as an aged man, because age inspires veneration and conveys the impression of majesty (Keil). This impression is reinforced by the white robe, white hair and fire surrounding the throne. White, of course, symbolizes spotless purity and holiness in Scripture and fire represents both judgment and purification. As the Psalmist succinctly says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever," (Ps 45:6) and "God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne" (Ps 47:8). Ironically, the description of the Ancient of Days closely resembles the Son of Man in Revelation 1:13-15. The mention of wheels, Aram. galgal, suggests a mobile throne or throne-chariot (BDB 1086).
10― "A river of fire was flowing and coming out from before Him; thousands upon thousands were attending Him, and myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; the court sat, and the books were opened.
The image of river of fire flowing into the world emphasizes that God is not neutral regarding the wickedness of the world, but rather He punishes evil. The thousands would certainly include angels as mentioned in Revelation 5:11, but since there is no further specification, the number might include humans. A myriad equals ten thousand so the description is a superlative, i.e., ten thousand times ten thousand. The numbers could not be calculated. The Chief Justice gaveled the meeting to order and the court sat, indicating its readiness to proceed with the cases on the docket and do justice. The books, recording the deeds of men upon which they are judged, were then opened. The reality of books being maintained on human behavior in heaven and judgment executed based on their content is also found in John's narrative of the final judgment:
"And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds." (Rev 20:12)
Apparently there are two different sets of books. One book is called the Book of Life, which contains the names of heaven's residents (see note on Dan 12:1). There is no more important goal in life than to get one's name in that book (Luke 10:20). The other set could be called the Books of Works, since they contain not only the names of every person who has ever lived but a full record of their deeds. All persons are judged "according to their deeds" (Rev 20:12), an allusion to the proportional punishment standard in the Torah, which required fitting the judicial sentence to the crime (Lev 24:17-22). God's judgment has always been based on deeds, as Yeshua promised,
"For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds" (Matt 16:27)
Although the outcome is already decided, the guilty are subjected to the legal formality of a trial. In this context when the records were reviewed ample evidence was found that the beast deserved judgment.
11― "Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire.
Daniel again emphasizes his intensive concentration on the vision, but this time he attributes the cause to arrogant words coming out of the little horn's mouth. The boastful words were no doubt directed against God and His people (see verse 25). This description is reminiscent of the narrative about the beast in Revelation:
"There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him. 6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven." (Rev 13:5-6)
Perhaps Daniel shook his head to witness such stupidity. Speaking against God is a standard that will convict many standing before God in judgment on the last day:
"But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matt 12:36-37)
"Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him." (Jude 1:14-15)
In the case of the little horn the verdict from the Court of Heaven is issued and the sentence of eternal death is imposed on both the fourth beast and the little horn. The same truth is conveyed in Revelation, which reports that the beast and Antichrist will be destroyed at the Second Coming of the Messiah (Rev 19:11-16). The burning fire no doubt refers to the lake of fire, the place of eternal punishment and torment.
"And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone." (Rev 19:20)
The expression "lake of fire" suggests an other-worldly location and would be synonymous with the term "hell" (Grk. gehenna) used elsewhere in the Besekh. Yeshua spoke of hell more than anyone else in Scripture and declared that it was originally prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt 25:41), implying that hell was not created until after Satan rebelled. Hell is a place of "everlasting fire" (Matt 18:8; 25:41) that burns with brimstone (Rev 20:10; 21:8) and "destroys both soul and body" (Matt 10:28). The fire of hell is described as "unquenchable" (Matt 3:12; Mark 9:43-44; cf. 2Kgs 22:17; Isa 1:31; 34:10; 66:24; Jer 4:4; 7:20; 21:12), which means that the fire will not degrade in intensity over the course of eternity and it cannot be extinguished by any force other than God's power.
Hell is a real place, a physical reality. It is not just a metaphor for a state of separation from God. The lake of fire may be located in outer space across the galaxy since it is also referred to as the "outer darkness" (cf. Matt 8:12; 22:13; 25:30; Jude 13). The lake of fire is not like a lake of water with flammable material ablaze on the surface; rather the lake of fire is composed of a sulfurous substance that is constantly burning. For example, the sun could be described as a lake of fire, because its total mass is burning.
12― "As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time.
This verse suggests that the first three beast-kings are contemporaneous with the fourth beast. The lose their dominion or sovereign rule over their own territories, but they are granted an extension of life. The assumption that the phrase "their dominion was taken away" means each of the beasts lost their power by being absorbed by the next beast (such as Persia conquering Babylon, Greece conquering Persia, and Rome conquering Greece) lacks sufficient basis in the text. Since the beasts symbolize kings then we should consider the fate of the ancient monarchs. When the Persians conquered Babylon they executed Belshazzar. After the Greeks defeated the Persians, Darius III was assassinated by his own men. Foreign kings who opposed Rome likewise did not live long once defeated militarily.
Similarly, the little horn is depicted as uprooting three other horns, not necessarily killing them (although it's possible) and the fourth beast is not described as killing the three other beasts. Rather, the first three beasts submit to the greater power and authority of the fourth beast as expressed in Revelation 17:12-13,
"The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. These have one purpose, and they give their power and authority to the beast."
John is not saying that the reign of the kings lasts one hour the but that in one hour the political structure of the world changes. The independence of the first three beasts is replaced with an oligarchy and totalitarian rule of one man. The beasts will likely serve as territorial regents for the Antichrist, similar to the political structure employed by Emperor Diocletian (284-305), the last and worst of the Roman Emperors to persecute Christians. Of him Schaff says, "He converted the Roman republican empire into an Oriental despotism. He associated with himself three subordinate co-regents, Maximian, Galerius, and Constantius Chlorus, and divided with them the government of the immense empire; thereby quadrupling the personality of the sovereign" (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, II, 2, §24).
A global empire will require loyal regional leadership to enforce the decrees of the beast-dictator. Just as the dragon gave both power and authority to the beast (Rev 13:2), these newly crowned kings vest their power and authority in the beast. They are of one mind with the beast, so there will be no more independence of national rule and no more protection from the extreme whims of the despot. All those who have advocated and worked so hard for a world government will see their dream come to pass, but it will become a horrifying nightmare.
At his trial Yeshua repeats this prophecy and applies it to himself (Matt 26:64; Mark 14:62). Coming with the clouds of heaven emphasizes the other-worldly origin of the Son of Man. In Scripture the divine presence, particularly in judgment, is often accomplished in a cloud, accompanied by a cloud or represented by clouds (Ex 13:21; 16:10; Job 22:14; Ps 104:3; Isa 19:1; Jer 4:13; Lam 2:1; Ezek 30:3; Nah 1:3; Matt 17:5; Acts 1:9; Rev 10:1). The use of clouds here might be a reference to a partly cloudy day. Miller quotes an edition of the LXX (perh. Rahlfs) that translates the phrase as "upon" [Grk. epi] the clouds, which is reflected in Matthew 24:30 and 26:64. Yeshua asserted that he will be seen in the sky amongst ordinary atmospheric clouds. Revelation 14:14-15 depicts the son of man sitting on a cloud.
However, another edition of the LXX (e.g., Apostolic Bible Polyglot) translates the phrase as "with" [Grk. meta] the clouds, which is reflected in Mark 14:26 and Revelation 1:7. This could be a distinction without a difference, but the Besekh quotations of Daniel 7:13 may reflect different versions of the LXX. However the mention of clouds in this context may not indicate a weather report or a mode of transport, but rather signs of the judgment of God as expressed in other passages:
"For the day is near, even the day of the LORD is near; it will be a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations." (Ezek 30:3)
"A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness. As the dawn is spread over the mountains, So there is a great and mighty people; There has never been anything like it, Nor will there be again after it To the years of many generations." (Joel 2:2)
"A day of wrath is that day, a day of trouble and distress, a day of destruction and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness." (Zeph 1:15)
One might also be tempted to interpret the "clouds of heaven" as people (celestial and/or human) in view of this use of cloud in Hebrews 12:1, "since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us." Since the scene appears to be the throne room of heaven then the "clouds of heaven" may allude to the myriads of angels standing around the throne in verse 10. The parable of the sheep and goats gives a similar message:
"But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne." (Matt 25:31)
The title Son of Man is the favorite word of identification for Yeshua. The title occurs 89 times in the Besekh, only four times outside the apostolic narratives. The expression occurs 107 times in the Tanakh, generally as an idiom for "man" or "human" (e.g., Num 23:19). It is used mostly as a form of personal address, 93 times in addressing Ezekiel and once in addressing Daniel (8:17). However, in Daniel 7:13 the idiom is given a distinctly new and unique meaning, treating this figure as someone who is more than a man.
Jewish rabbinic literature interpreted Daniel's Son of Man as the Messiah-King, one called Mashiach ben Ananim, "son of the clouds" (Sanhedrin 96b; 98a). The title is Aram. bar enash (in Heb. ben Adam, which means "son of Adam") which not only points to the humanness of the person, but alludes to the fulfillment of the Protevangelium, the primitive Good News to Adam's woman of her seed who would destroy her enemy (Gen 3:15; cf. Rev 12:1-5, 9). Yeshua, in applying this prophecy to himself not only emphasized the Messianic character but the divine nature of the Son of Man, as he said to the high priest when asked if he was the Messiah, "I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming with the clouds of heaven" (Mark 14:62).
The verb came up (Aram. athah, to come or to bring; NIV "approached") describes the Son of Man's arrival and reception before the Ancient of Days.
14― "And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.
And to Him: the Son of Man. Dominion, Aram. sholtan means dominion or sovereignty (usually of God) (BDB 1115) and refers to power an authority independent of other authorities. Glory, Aram. yeqar, means honor (BDB 1096) and refers to the respect and submission due to one because of position. Kingdom, Aram. malku means royalty, reign or kingdom (BDB 1100) and refers to the political system of a monarchy or rule of one man. Granting "dominion, glory and a kingdom" vests authority in the Son of Man as the Father's regent over all the population of the earth. Peoples, Aram am corresponding to the Heb. amam, refers to people united, connected or related by locality, culture or blood, especially to the common people in contrast to the aristocracy (BDB 1106; 766).
Nations, Aram ummah, "nation," corresponds to the Heb amah, which means tribe or people, usually related by blood, such as the tribes of Israel (BDB 52; 1081). Languages, Aram lishan means "tongue" (the physical organ) and by extension language. Figuratively the word may refer to a people sharing a common dialect or language. The Heb. lashan carries the same meaning (BDB 546; 1099). This promise fulfills the intent of Dan 2:44, "In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed." This scene probably pertains to establishing the Son of Man's millennial reign on the earth.
Paul in his treatise on the resurrection makes the distinction between the Messiah's reign and the Father's reign:
"For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, 24 then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death." (1Cor 15:22-26)
According to Paul's interpretation of future events the Messiah will reign on the earth until all human authority has been subjugated to his own and at the end of that period he will hand over the kingdom to his father. His final comment about death being the last enemy to be abolished points to the prophecy of Revelation 20:14, "Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire."
Vision Explanation, 7:15-28
15― "As for me, Daniel, my spirit was distressed within me, and the visions in my mind kept alarming me.
Daniel was understandably upset and perplexed over the vision of the four beasts. The revelation to Nebuchadnezzar in chapter two was bad news for the return of Jewish sovereignty and independence and the vision of beasts no doubt seemed like even more bad news for the Jewish people.
16― "I approached one of those who were standing by and began asking him the exact meaning of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things:
The fact that Daniel approaches one of those standing by, i.e., one of the myriads of angels suggests his own participation in the vision. The identity of the anonymous angel is not given, but it may be Gabriel consider the interpretive role he plays in later vision experiences (8:16 and 9:21). Daniel received a reply to his query, but he may not have considered it a complete answer.
17― 'These great beasts, which are four in number, are four kings who will arise from the earth.
Four in number, an interpretive addition, seems like a tautology, but there are no meaningless repetitions in Scripture (cf. Matt 6:7). The word "four" (or fourth) occurs 14 times in Daniel, half of which (seven) are in this chapter (seven). Repetition in Scripture, as Yeshua' frequent repetition of "truly, truly," and the repetition of "thousand years" in Revelation 20, is designed to emphasize certainty and reality. The prophecy is not a vague spiritual allusion to evil; it's straightforward and real and intended for all people to understand. So, Daniel saw with his own eyes four beasts, no more and no less. While they have symbolic meaning, they have a basis in reality.
These beasts are four kings. The popular view is that these four beasts symbolize the same kingdoms represented by Nebuchadnezzar's vision in Chapter Two, although futurist commentators interpret the fourth beast in a dual manner as both Rome and the last days empire of the beast of Revelation, i.e., the reign of the Antichrist. One thing we can say about these beast-kings as ancient empires is that they all were enemies of the Jews and were used of God to bring judgment upon Israel. Interpretation of these beasts as historical empires is especially given credence by the prophecy of Hosea:
"Yet I have been the LORD your God since the land of Egypt; and you were not to know any god except Me, for there is no savior besides Me. I cared for you in the wilderness, in the land of drought. As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, and being satisfied, their heart became proud; therefore they forgot Me. So I will be like a lion to them; like a leopard I will lie in wait by the wayside. I will encounter them like a bear robbed of her cubs, and I will tear open their chests; there I will also devour them like a lioness, as a wild beast would tear them. It is your destruction, O Israel, that you are against Me, against your help." (Hos 13:4-9)
The verb arise, Aram. qum, has the literal meaning of "to arise" or "to stand" (i.e., from a throne or a bed), but figuratively to come on the scene of history and having come to stand or endure, as in Dan 2:44 (BDB 1110). The verb is imperfect, so the action in reference to Daniel is incomplete. English Bible versions render the verb in the future tense with either "will" or "shall." As an imperfect verb three meanings are possible: (1) the action began with the Babylonian empire under Nebuchadnezzar and will continue through the coming of the next three great empires until the action can be understood as complete; (2) the action is wholly future outside of Daniel's lifetime, even occurring at the end of the age or (3) in typical prophetic fashion the action is both present (relatively speaking) and future.
Hosea's prophecy may well allude to Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. Yet, verse 3 in this chapter seems to imply that the power of the four beasts is contemporaneous rather than sequential, whereas the vision in chapter two is specifically interpreted to mean kingdoms that arise one after the other. It should be noted that there is no immediate time reference as in 2:39 where Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar that the second kingdom will arise "after you." In fact, there is no interpretative statement in this chapter that identifies any of the beasts with ancient empires. God had already informed Daniel of the coming empires (without naming them) through Nebuchadnezzar's dream-vision in chapter two and two of those kingdoms will be presented again in chapter eight.
Miller asserts that the plain sense of the text should be followed when interpreting prophecy unless there is a good reason to adopt some other meaning (193). Interestingly he offers no comment on the verb "will arise" as he found "good reason" to interpret these beasts as ancient empires, beginning with Babylon. However, the prophecy of the fourth kingdom and the Son of Man certainly pertain to the last days given the allusions in the Besekh. Daniel was not told the identity of the kings and any interpretation of specific identity is no better than a guess. We will know for certain when history is finished.
From the earth, while generally considered by commentators as a symbolic restatement of verse 3 where the beasts arise from the sea, the phrase may actually refer to a literal point of origin. Various verses in the Besekh are relevant to the meaning here.
"Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction." (2Th 2:3)
"For the mystery of lawlessness already is working, only he is holding back now, until it comes out of the midst [i.e., the abyss]." (2Th 2:7 LITV)
"They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon ["destruction"], and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon ["destroyer"]. (Rev 9:11; cf. 2Th 2:3).
"When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them." (Rev 11:7)
"The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come." (Rev 17:8)
Revelation 11:7 and 17:8 says that the end times beast comes up from the abyss (Grk. abussos , "bottomless" or "abyss"), which means being unfathomably deep. Abussos occurs about 25 times in the LXX, mostly to translate Heb. tehom (DNTT 2:205), which means deep, sea or abyss (BDB 1062). In the Tanakh tehom is used variously to mean the (1) original waters of creation (Gen 1:2), (2) subterranean "fountains of the deep," Gen 7:11; 8:2; (3) depth of the earth, Ps 36:6; (4) subsurface waters, such as springs, Deut 8:7; (5) deep waters of a sea, Ps 42:7; 148:7; Jon 2:5; (6) depth of a river, Ezek 31:4; (7) and as a synonym for Heb. sheol, the realm of the dead, Ps 71:20; Ezek 31:15. God revealed to Ezekiel that all the unregenerate are imprisoned there (Ezek 31:14-18; 32:18-32).
Abussos occurs nine times in the Besekh, seven of which are in the Revelation (9:1, 2, 11; 11:7; 17:8; 20:1, 3). The abyss or bottomless pit refers to a place deep in the interior of the earth, perhaps at its center. It could be deemed bottomless because every direction would be a ceiling. This is the place to which Yeshua descended after His death (Rom 10:7; Eph 4:9; cf. 1Pet 3:19). Demons are imprisoned there (Luke 8:31; cf. 2Pet 2:4; Jude 1:6; Rev 9:14; 20:3). The many biblical references to the abyss taken together indicate that it is a real place. The abyss as a point of origin explains the references to the beasts arising from the sea (v. 3) and the earth (v. 17) much better than assuming that either term is symbolic of humanity.
Another element to consider is the verb "come up" in Revelation 17:8. Robert Mounce in his commentary on Revelation points out that the tense of "come up" in this verse and in 11:7 means that coming up out of the abyss is an essential characteristic of the beast and he has done so repeatedly in history, including as Antiochus Epiphanes and Nero (Mounce 219-220, 314). Mounce's suggestion is also supported by the imperfect tense of the beast who "was," which indicates repeated appearances in the past. The inference of the historical sequence is that a demonic spirit has indwelt former rulers and will do so again.
Daniel's prophecy may mean that these four kings have been or will be possessed by demonic spirits or perhaps each of the kings are possessed by the same spirit. Daniel's syntax points to this reality since he says that the kings arise from the earth, not just appear or receive a kingdom (as in Dan 5:31).
18― But the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come.'
In contrast to the temporary kingdom of the beast, the saints, lit. "holy ones" or "separated ones," share in the eternal kingdom of God. The use of "saints" in Christian versions may seem strange to Christians accustomed to the term being used only in reference to famous Christian leaders canonized by the Catholic Church. The plural form of the term (Heb. q'doshim, Aram. qaddishê, Grk. hagioi) is used in the Tanakh and other Jewish writings for the people of God (Deut 7:6; 1Sam 2:9; Ps 16:3; 34:9; 97:10; 135:4; Isa 41:8-9; Dan 7:18, 21-22, 25, 27; 8:24; 1Enoch 58:1-3; 103:1; 1Macc 1:46; Tobit 12:15.).
The use of "holy ones" originated when God called Israel to be a people consecrated to worship and obey Him. The term succeeds in having a corporate meaning as well as an individual meaning. The term "holy ones" occurs frequently in the Besekh and refers to those who have accepted Yeshua as Savior and Lord, whether Jew or Gentile, and members of local groups of believers, which were predominately Jewish. The holy ones are those who are wholly His and who seek to live by Torah standards of righteousness.
forever: the verse closes with the triple use of the Aram. superlative noun alam, meaning perpetuity or antiquity (BDB 1106). Used as an adverb it means perpetuity in the future, that is "forever." The translation for all ages to come accurately represents the Hebrew concept of time as divided into ages. Yeshua and the apostles speak of two specific ages – the present age (Matt 28:20; Mark 10:30; Titus 2:12) and the age to come (Matt 12:32; Mark 10:30; Heb 6:5). The Jewish viewpoint of the Messianic Age was based on the assumption that there would be six thousand years of earth history followed by the Sabbath millennium (Sanh. 97a-b).
19― "Then I desired to know the exact meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its claws of bronze, and which devoured, crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet,
Having received a general explanation of the beasts Daniel was especially interested to learn more about the fourth beast. A further element of description is added: claws of bronze. The mention of iron and bronze might allude to the symbolic use of these metals in Nebuchadnezzar's vision to suggest that this beast-empire has aspects of both the Roman (iron) and Hellenistic (bronze) empires. In other words, this final empire melds the worst of the politics and philosophy of the cradle of Western civilization.
20― and the meaning of the ten horns that were on its head and the other horn which came up, and before which three of them fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth uttering great boasts and which was larger in appearance than its associates.
Daniel was even more intrigued by the ten horns and the action of the little horn. He would likely have deduced that the horns represented ruling authority. Daniel notes two distinguishing characteristics of the little horn, to wit, facial features and overall size. The little horn was no longer little.
A new and disturbing element of the vision now occurs. The little horn which had overcome three horns and became larger now turns his attention to the holy ones, the people of God. This same reality is mentioned again in Revelation, "it was allowed to make war on God's holy people and to defeat them; and it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation" ( Rev 13:7 CJB). Waging war is total in scope. The adversary is not just interested in depriving the righteous of rights, but of destroying the people of God as envisioned by Haman.
Such war was inflicted on the Jewish people by Antiochus IV ("Epiphanies"), the Greek King of Syria, who invaded the Land and conquered Jerusalem in 167 B.C.. (See chapter eight for more on this subject.) Because of the resistance, the city was destroyed, and tens of thousands of Jewish residents were slaughtered. After the military defeat Antiochus continued his war in his Hellenizing policy. The book of Maccabees records his contemptible actions following the invasion and slaughter.
The Roman war against the Jews in A.D. 70 was even more costly in lives than the campaign of Antiochus. Josephus (Wars of the Jews, VI, 9:1, 3) states that 1,100,000 Jews were slain and 97,000 carried away captive as slaves by the Romans in the war of 66–70. Early church fathers repeatedly warned Christians that the Antichrist would come to rule the world and exhorted them to be faithful in the face of temptation and trials lest they lose their inheritance in the Kingdom of the Lord. See Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, 16; The Epistle of Barnabas, 4:15; Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 5, 25-30; Hippolytus, Treatise on Christ and Antichrist, 14. Justin Martyr (110-165) expresses his expectation by saying,
"The times now running on to their consummation; and he whom Daniel foretells would have dominion for a time, and times, and an half, is even already at the door, about to speak blasphemous and daring things against the Most High." (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, 32)
Church fathers believed that Yeshua's reference to Daniel's prophecy of the abomination of desolation and Paul's teaching that the Man of Lawlessness would be revealed and set himself up in the temple of God before the Second Coming could only mean that the Church would face the arch-enemy of Yeshua. Irenaeus specifically warned that the beast would "put the Church to flight." (Against Heresies, Book 5, 26:1; cf. Hippolytus, Treatise on Christ and Antichrist, 60-61). The writers of this period offered no panacea of being secretly rescued from tribulation, but encouraged believers to persevere. Once Yeshua returned the wicked Antichrist would be destroyed and Yeshua would establish His reign of peace and righteousness.
While Christians of the patristic age responded to the encouragement of their leaders and congregations enjoyed continued growth in spite of localized persecutions, the Antichrist at the end of the age will wage war in order to "overcome" or totally destroy the true people of God and all their institutions. A prelude to the Antichrist's success is found in the cryptic comment of Yeshua that the Good News would be proclaimed to all nations and then the end would come (Matt 24:14), that is, the end of evangelism, because the power and influence of the Good News has come to an end. How important it is that all disciples of Yeshua and congregations work to spread the Good News while there is still time.
Why does the little horn, and indeed all the monstrous dictators of the past, make war on the people of God? Such war is inspired by Satan who hates the covenant people, especially Jews (2Th 2:9; Rev 13:2). Yeshua warned his disciples that what was done to him would be done to them (John 15:18-20).
22― until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom.
The little horn will not be allowed to complete his malevolent mission. The eternal God will rescue His saints. The heavenly proceedings carry a legal tone and the Chief Justice issues a firm injunction ending the little horn’s activities and affirms the rights of His loyal followers to possess the kingdom.
23― "Thus he said: 'The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it.
The angel finally gives Daniel an explanation of the fourth beast. His answer (vv. 23-27) centers on the career of the little horn (who is apparently the same person as the "lawless one" [2Th 2:8-9] and "the beast" [Rev 13:1-10]) and his rise and fall at the second coming of Yeshua to set up his kingdom (Archer). This beast is a fourth kingdom, not meaning the fourth kingdom ever to exist in history, but simply fourth in the series given in the vision. Just as the fourth beast was dramatically different from the other three beasts, so this fourth kingdom will be markedly different from other kingdoms. The difference is not strictly in territory
Unlike the other beast-kingdoms, the fourth kingdom will conquer the whole earth (Aram. kol ara), a relative term in Scripture depending on the historical context. The ancient Rome Empire controlled most of the culturally advanced portions of the earth (Miller). In contrast Archer points out that in general usage the term often refers to the entire territory of the Near and Middle East in relation to the Holy Land. The word ara (and its Heb. equivalent, eres) does not only mean "earth" in the sense of "the entire inhabited globe" but depending on context--might mean a region or a single country, especially eres Yisrael, "the land of Israel." The Land of Israel is often referred to in the OT as simply "the Land" (e.g., Josh 1:2; Ps 37:11).Translating the phrase as the "the entire Land" finds support in other passages that speak of the invasion and occupation of the Holy Land and Jerusalem in particular.
"Out of one of them came forth a rather small horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Beautiful Land." (Dan 8:9)
"He will pitch the tents of his royal pavilion between the seas and the beautiful Holy Mountain; yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him." (Dan 11:45)
"Behold, a day is coming for the LORD when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city." (Zech 14:1-2)
"Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, 'Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.'" (Rev 11:1-2)
The entire globe is probably not the meaning intended here. After all if the beasts refer to ancient empires, the Greek Empire under Alexander covered more territory than the Roman Empire under Trajan (Archer). In addition, all these empires trampled on the Land of Israel and brutally crushed resistance.
24― 'As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings.
Daniel is given a historical sequence of the development of the last days power structure. In this vision (1) the fourth beast-kingdom comes first, (2) then out of this empire ten horns or ten kings will come to power and (3) then finally another king arises, alluding to the little horn, and overthrows three of the ten kings. The angel does not say that the fourth kingdom disappears.
Miller believes that the ten kings will emanate from the ancient Roman Empire, but will reign at the end of the present age. Sevener observes that the ten kings (or ten nations) cannot represent the old Roman Empire, since at no time in history did that empire ever consist of ten kingdoms or was governed by ten rulers who fit the description in Daniel (Sevener 78). Of historical interest is that in Yeshua's time the Roman Empire included ten senatorial provinces each governed by a proconsul appointed by the Roman Senate. The senatorial provinces were away from the Empire's borders and had few if any legions stationed in them. (Retrieved from Senatorial Province, Wikipedia, 15 Nov 2009) The point here is that the angel's explanation does not say that the ten kingdoms consist of the entirety of the fourth beast-empire.
There are some evangelicals who associate the ten horns with the European Union countries. The European Union (EU) was established on November 1, 1993, when the Treaty on European Union was ratified by the 12 members of the European Community (EC)—Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain. However, the EU admitted three more members in 1994—Austria, Finland, and Sweden.
Of course, the fact EU increased to 15 nations is usually ignored by those fixated on the EU as the beast. However, according to Daniel 7:24 and Revelation 17:12 the ten horns are ten kings or rulers who are contemporaneous with the beast-little horn-(Antichrist) and cede total control to the Antichrist. In addition, it makes more sense that the ten kings would represent the entire world, not just Europe. In fact, that there is no mention in Daniel or Revelation of any specific nation associated with the ten horns. Arguments from silence are always problematic. God deliberately left the identification of these kings obscure. We need to remember that the real power to orchestrate international developments to prepare the way for the Antichrist resides not in New York or Rome, but in that unseen realm where principalities and powers, under the leadership of Satan, plot their final campaign, all overseen by the Master Architect in heaven.
25― 'He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.
The little horn begins by sinning with his mouth. Speak out suggests public speeches in which he has the audacity to slander God in ways that no previous despot has ever done. The activity described here is the same as the beast in Revelation 13:6 who "opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven." The blasphemy naturally flows from the fact that this ruler "exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship" (2Th 2:4).
The little horn also sets out to persecute the people loyal to God. Wear down, Aram. bela, figuratively refers to continual harassment (BDB 1084). The LXX renders the verb with planaō, which may mean to mislead or cause to wander. In this context the latter meaning would fit the Jews who have been displaced repeatedly through the centuries by virtually every nation in which they've resided. The term Diaspora is applied to Jews living outside the land of Israel. The Diaspora is predicted as early as in the words of Moses (Deuteronomy 28:63–68) and dates at least to the Assyrian conquest of Israel (722 B.C.) and the Babylonian Captivity (586 B.C.; see Ezra 9:7). But the Roman slaughter and destruction in the first and second centuries A.D. brought the Jewish nation to an end. The Diaspora, in a national sense, had previously been partial; but in the Second Rebellion (A.D. 132–135) it became all but total.
The evil king will intend to impose changes in laws, especially those that have their basis in Scripture or confer some benefit to the people of God. The prophecy does not indicate his degree of success. He also intends changes in times, Aram. iddan, which refers to a fixed, appointed or definite time (BDB 1105). Such fixed times would probably be holy days observed by Jews and disciples of Yeshua.
The Jews certainly experienced such changes under the regime of Antiochus, but the same persecution occurred again under the Roman Caesar Hadrian (A.D. 117-138). In 135 Hadrian issued legislation that categorically prohibited the practice of Judaism, in general, and of Sabbath keeping, in particular. The aim of this legislation was to liquidate Judaism as a religion at a time when the Jews were experiencing resurgent Messianic expectations that exploded in violent uprisings in various parts of the empire, especially in the holy land. (Samuele Bacchiocchi, The Sabbath Under Crossfire, 48)
The change in times in not simply directed at the concept of a Sabbath, but the entire seven-day week, which originated in creation. Although the biblical week has no astronomical basis it is imprinted into human society by the Creator. The last days' despot will not be the first to attempt a change in the calendar. The revolutionary governments of France in 1792 and Russia in 1929 tried to change the traditional week, hoping to destroy Christianity. The French set up a ten-day week and the Soviets a five-day week. They were rigidly enforced, but lasted only a few years (Henry Morris, The Long War Against God, 311).
The second category of change the dictator intends is in law. The Aram. word dath refers to a decree or law whether enacted by a king or by God (BDB 1089). The word "law" is singular, which Miller takes as a collective in reference to a body of laws. The dictator would certainly change any law that benefited God's people as well as impose onerous regulations, the right to free expression of religion. Government interference in religious conviction and practice is already a present reality in most nations of the world, including the United States.
However the Antichrist will exceed present circumstances as evident from the requirement to commit idolatry (Rev 13:12). The intention to make a change "in law" may also relate to a fundamental philosophy of law as well as changes to specific statutes. In speaking of the last days Yeshua said that lawlessness (or more properly "Torahlessness") will increase (Matt 24:12). The Antichrist is called the "man of lawlessness" (2Th 2:3). He has rejected God's Law and he will not be bound by the moral and ethical dictates based on God's Law that have governed Western Civilization. He becomes the law.
The phrase time, times, and half a time is generally taken to mean three and a half years, although Keil interprets it as an indefinite time. The exact same expression occurs again in Daniel 12:7 and in Revelation 12:14. The time period is approximate to the 1,290 days in Daniel 12:11 and to the 1,335 days in 12:12. Other expressions of this time period are forty-two months found in Revelation 11:2 and 13:5, and 1,260 days found in Revelation 12:6.
In other words the little horn-king will exercise his ruthless power for three and one-half years and during that time he will wage his war on the people loyal to God. Dispensationalists often speak of a "tribulation period" of seven years, but no biblical text puts these two concepts together. The tribulation of interest in the last days is the Great Tribulation during which the prophesied persecution occurs and it lasts three and one-half years.
26― 'But the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever.
At the end of the three and a half years the dominion of the little horn will end. Court is Aram. din, lit. "judgment," which may mean judgment, justice, judges or court (BDB 1088). In this case the noun refers to the heavenly court. The court, as reflected in Jewish practice, consists of multiple members as indicated by the verb taken. The verb translated as passive, will be taken away, is literally third person plural active, "they will take away." When used of kings "taken away," Aram. ada, means to remove or depose (BDB 1105). Annihilated, Aram. avad, means to perish or destroy (BDB 1078) and destroyed is Aram. shemad, lit. "to make apostatize," but in context it means to destroy (BDB 1116). These three verbs indicate the completeness of the divine judgment and may reflect the triune Godhead. The Antichrist will be removed permanently from office and his regime totally dismantled.
27― 'Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.'
Sovereignty, Aram. malku means royalty, reign or kingdom (BDB 1100) and refers to the political system of a monarchy or rule of one man. Dominion, Aram. sholtan means dominion or sovereignty (usually of God) (BDB 1115) and refers to power an authority independent of other authorities. Greatness, Aram. rebu means greatness (BDB 1112) and comes from a verb meaning "to grow great" and may refer to the increase of territory encompassed in the kingdom.
When the last days evil empire is brought to an end the people of God will be organized into a new kingdom with a new government. God's kingdom will have no end and all the nations of the earth will surrender their sovereignty to the kingship of God and His Messiah. The divine monarchy or theocracy will govern the whole earth.
28― "At this point the revelation ended. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts were greatly alarming me and my face grew pale, but I kept the matter to myself."
Daniel concludes the story of his vision experience and confesses that even with interpretation the matter greatly disturbed him. And, well it might. He could not possibly understand its immediate import, but eventually it would serve as an encouragement to the Jews when they endured successive wicked regimes.
Archer: Gleason L. Archer, Daniel, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 7. Zondervan Publishing House, 1983. (Zondervan CD-ROM Version 2.6, 1989-1998)
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.
Clarke: Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Holy Bible (1826). Ralph Earle, ed. Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1967.
DSB: Henry Morris, The Defender’s Study Bible. World Publishing Co., 1995.
Keil: C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Ezekiel-Daniel. Commentary on the Old Testament (1866-1891), Vol. 9. Hendrickson Publishers, 2006.
Miller: Stephen R. Miller, Daniel. The New American Commentary, Vol. 18. Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1994.
Mounce: Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation, Rev. Ed. The New International Commentary on the New Testament, William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1998.
Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament. 2 Vols., Grand Rapids: The Zondervan Corporation, 1980.
Sevener: Harold A. Sevener, God’s Man in Babylon. Chosen People Ministries, 1994.
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