In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters.
In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon - On the character and reign of Belshazzar, see Introduction to Daniel 5 Section II. He was the last of the kings of Babylon, and this fact may cast some light on the disclosures made in the dream.
Daniel had a dream - Margin, as in Hebrew, saw. He saw a series of events in vision when he was asleep. The dream refers to that representation, and was of such a nature that it was proper to speak of it as if he saw it. Compare the notes at Daniel 2:1.
And visions of his head upon his bed - See the notes at Daniel 4:5.
Then he wrote the dream - He made a record of it at the time. He did not commit it to tradition, or wait for its fulfillment before it was recorded, but long before the events referred to occurred he committed the prediction to writing, that when the prophecy was fulfilled they might be compared with it. It was customary among the prophets to record their predictions, whether communicated in a dream, in a vision, or by words to them, that there might be no doubt when the event occurred that there had been an inspired prediction of it, and that there might be an opportunity of a careful comparison of the prediction with the event. Often the prophets were commanded to record their predictions. See Isaiah 8:1, Isaiah 8:16; Isaiah 30:8; Habakkuk 2:2. Compare Revelation 1:19; Revelation 14:13; Revelation 21:5. In many instances, as in the case before us, the record was made hundreds of years before the event occurred, and as there is all the evidence that there could be in a case that the record has not been altered to adapt it to the event, the highest proof is thus furnished of the inspiration of the prophets. The meaning here is, that Daniel wrote out the dream as soon as it occurred.
And told the sum of the matters - Chaldee, "And spake the head of the words." That is, he spake or told them by writing. He made a communication of them in this manner to the world. It is not implied that he made any oral communication of them to anyone, but that he communicated them - to wit, in the way specified. The word "sum" here - ראשׁ rē'sh - means "head"; and would properly denote such a record as would be a heading up, or a summary - as stating in a brief way the contents of a book, or the chief points of a thing without going into detail. The meaning here seems to be that he did not go into detail - as by writing names, and dates, and places; or, perhaps, that he did not enter into a minute description of all that he saw in regard to the beasts that came up from the sea, but that he recorded what might be considered as peculiar, and as having special significancy.
The Codex Chisianus renders this, ἔγραψεν ἐις κεφάλαια λόγων egrapsen eis kephalaia logōn - "He wrote in heads of words," that is, he reduced it to a summary description. It is well remarked by Lengerke, on this place, that the prophets, when they described what was to occur to tyrants in future times, conveyed their oracles in a comparatively dark and obscure manner, yet so as to be clear when the events should occur. The reason of this is obvious. If the meaning of many of the predictions had been understood by those to whom they referred, that fact would have been a motive to them to induce them to defeat them; and as the fulfillment depended on their voluntary agency, the prophecy would have been void. It was necessary, therefore, in general, to avoid direct predictions, and the mention of names, dates, and places, and to make use of symbols whose meaning would be obscure at the time when the prediction was made, but which would be plain when the event should occur. A comparison of Daniel 7:4, Daniel 7:9, Daniel 7:11, Daniel 7:14, will show that only a sumptuary of what was to occur was recorded.
Matters - Margin, as in Chaldee, words. The term words, however; is often used to denote things.
Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.
Daniel spake and said - That is, he spake and said in the manner intimated in the previous verse. It was by a record made at the time, and thus he might be said to speak to his own generation and to all future times.
I saw in my vision by night - I beheld in the vision; that is, he saw represented to him the scene which he proceeds to describe. He seemed to see the sea in a tempest, and these monsters come up from it, and the strange succession of events which followed.
And behold, the four winds of the heaven - The winds that blow under the heaven, or that seem to come from the heaven - or the air. Compare Jeremiah 49:36. The number of the winds is here referred to as four as they are now, as blowing mainly from the four quarters of the earth. Nothing is more common now than to designate them in this manner - as the east, the south, the west, the north wind. So the Latins - Eurus, Auster, Zephyrus, Boreas.
Strove - מגיחן megı̂ychân. Burst, or rushed forth; seemed to conflict together. The winds burst, rushed from all quarters, and seemed to meet on the sea, throwing it into wild commotion. The Hebrew word (גיח gı̂yach) means to break or burst forth, as a fountain or stream of waters, Job 40:23; an infant breaking forth from the womb, Job 38:8; a warrior rushing forth to battle, Ezekiel 32:2. Hence, the Chaldean to break forth; to rush forth as the winds. The symbol here would naturally denote some wild commotion among the nations, as if the winds of heaven should rush together in confusion.
Upon the great sea - This expression would properly apply to any great sea or ocean, but it is probable that the one that would occur to Daniel would be the Mediterranean Sea, as that was best known to him and his contemporaries. A heaving ocean - or an ocean tossed with storms - would be a natural emblem to denote a nation, or nations, agitated with internal conflicts, or nations in the midst of revolutions. Among the sacred poets and the prophets, hosts of armies invading a land are compared to overflowing waters, and mighty changes among the nations to the heaving billows of the ocean in a storm. Compare Jeremiah 46:7-8; Jeremiah 47:2; Isaiah 8:7-8; Isaiah 17:12; Isaiah 59:19; Daniel 11:40; Revelation 13:1. The classic reader will be reminded in the description here of the words of Virgil, AEn. I. 82, following:
"Ac venti, velut agmine facto
Qua data porta ruunt, et terras turbine perflant.
Incubuere mari, totumque a sedibus imis
Una Eurusque, Notusque ruunt, creberquc procellis.
Africus, et vastos volvunt ad littora fluctus."
Compare also Ovid, Trist. I. 2, 25, following. It was from this agitated sea that the beasts that Daniel saw, representing successive kingdoms, seemed to rise; and the fair interpretation of this part of the symbol is, that there was, or would be, as it appeared in vision to Daniel, commotions among the nations resembling the sea driven by storms, and that from these commotions there would arise successive kingdoms having the characteristics specified by the appearance of the four beasts. We naturally look, in the fulfillment of this, to some state of things in which the nations were agitated and convulsed; in which they struggled against each other, as the winds strove upon the sea; a state of things which preceded the rise of these four successive kingdoms. Without now pretending to determine whether that was the time denoted by this, it is certain that all that is here said would find a counterpart in the period which immediately preceded the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, or the kingdom which he founded and adorned. His rapid and extensive conquests; the agitation of the nations in self-defense, and their wars against one another, would be well denoted by the agitation of the ocean as seen in vision by Daniel. It is true that there have been many other periods of the world to which the image would be applicable, but no one can doubt that it was applicable to this period, and that would be all that would be necessary if the design was to represent a series of kingdoms commencing with that of Nebuchadnezzar.
And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
And four great beasts came up from the sea - Not at once, but in succession. See the following verses. Their particular form is described in the subsequent verses. The design of mentioning them here, as coming up from, the sea, seems to have been to show that this succession of kingdoms sprang from the agitations and commotions among the nations represented by the heaving ocean. It is not uncommon for the prophets to make use of animals to represent or symbolize kingdoms and nations - usually by some animal which was in a manner peculiar to the land that was symbolized, or which abounded there. Thus in Isaiah 27:1, leviathan, or the dragon, or crocodile, is used to represent Babylon. See the note at that passage. In Ezekiel 29:3-5, the dragon or the crocodile of the Nile is put for Pharaoh; in Ezekiel 32:2, Pharaoh is compared to a young lion, and to a whale in the seas. In Psalm 74:13-14, the kingdom of Egypt is compared to the dragon and the leviathan.
So on ancient coins, animals are often used as emblems of kingdoms, as it may be added, the lion and the unicorn represent Great Britain now, and the eagle the United States. It is well remarked by Lengerke (in loc.), that when the prophets design to represent kingdoms that are made up of other kingdoms, or that are combined by being brought by conquest under the power of others, they do this, not by any single animal as actually found in nature, but by monsters - fabulous beings that are compounded of others, in which the peculiar qualities of different animals are brought together - as in the case of the lion with eagle's wings. Thus in Revelation 13:1, the Romish power is represented by a beast coming out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, Compare it. Ezra (Apocry.) 11:1, where an eagle is represented as coming from the sea with twelve feathered wings and three heads. As an illustration of the attempts made in the apocryphal writings to imitate the prophets, the whole of chapter 11 and chapter 12 of the second book of Ezra may be referred to.
Diverse one from another - Though they all came up from the same abyss, yet they differed from each other - denoting, doubtless, that though the successive kingdoms referred to would all rise out of the nations represented by the agitated sea, yet that in important respects they would differ from each other.
The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it.
The first was like a lion - It is to be assumed, in explaining and applying these symbols, that they are significant - that is, that there was some adaptedness or propriety in using these symbols to denote the kingdoms referred to; or that in each case there was a reason why the particular animal was selected for a symbol rather than one of the others; that is, there was something in the lion that was better fitted to symbolize the kingdom referred to than there was in the bear or the leopard, and this was the reason why this particular symbol was chosen in the case. It is to be further assumed that all the characteristics in the symbol were significant, and we are to expect to find them all in the kingdom which they were designed to represent; nor can the symbol be fairly applied to any kingdom, unless something shall be found in its character or history that shall correspond alike to the particular circumstances referred to in the symbol, and to the grouping or succession. In regard to the first beast, there were five things that entered into the symbol, all of which it is to be presumed were significant: the lion, the eagle's wings - the fact that the wings were plucked - the fact that the beast was lifted up so as to stand up as a man - and the fact that the heart of a man was given to it. It is proper to consider these in their order, and then to inquire whether they found a fulfillment in any known state of things.
(a) The animal that was seen: "the lion." The lion, "the king of beasts," is the symbol of strength and courage, and becomes the proper emblem of a king - as when the Mussulmans call Ali, Mahomet's son-in-law, "The Lion of God, always victorious." Thus it is often used in the Scriptures. Genesis 49:9, "Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?" The warlike character, the conquest, the supremacy of that tribe are here undoubtedly denoted. So in Ezekiel 19:2-3. "What is thy mother? A lioness: she lay down among lions, she nourished her whelps among young lions." Here is an allusion, says Grotius, to Genesis 49:9. Judea was among the nations like a lioness among the beasts of the forest; she had strength and sovereignty. The lion is an emblem of a hero: 2 Samuel 23:20, "He slew two lion-like men of Moab." Compare Gesenius zu Isa. i. 851. So Hercules and Achilles are called by Homer θυμολέοντα thumoleonta, or λεοντόθυμον leontothumon - lion-hearted - Iliad e 639, ee 228, Odyssey l 766. See the character, the intrepidity, and the habits of the lion fully illustrated in Bochart, Hieroz. lib. iii. c. 2, pp. 723-745 - Credner, der prophet Joel, s. 100. f. Compare also the following places in Scripture: Psalm 7:2; Psalm 22:21; Psalm 57:4; Psalm 58:6; Psalm 74:4; 1 Samuel 17:37; Job 4:10; Jeremiah 4:7; Jeremiah 49:19; Joel 1:6; Isaiah 29:1-2. The proper notion here, so far as the emblem of a lion is concerned, is that of a king or kingdom that would be distinguished for power, conquest, dominion; that would be in relation to other kings and kingdoms as the lion is among the beasts of the forest - keeping them in awe, and maintaining dominion over them - marching where he pleases, with none to cope with him or to resist him.
(b) The eagle's wings: "and had eagle's wings." Here appears one peculiarity of the emblem - the union of things which are not found joined together in nature - the representation of things or qualities which no one animal would represent. The lion would denote one thing, or one quality in the kingdom referred to - power, dominion, sovereignty - but there would be some characteristic in that king or kingdom which nothing in the lion would properly represent, and which could be symbolized only by attaching to him qualities to be found in some other animal. The lion, distinguished for his power, his dominion, his keeping other animals in awe - his spring, and the severity of his blow - is not remarkable for his speed, nor for going forth to conquest. He does not range far to accomplish his purpose, nor are his movements eminent for fleetness. Hence, there were attached to the lion the wings of an eagle. The proper notion, therefore, of this symbol, would be that of a dominion or conquest rapidly secured, as if a lion, the king of beasts, should move, not as he commonly does, with a spring or bound, confining himself to a certain space or range, but should move as the eagle does, with rapid and prolonged flight, extending his conquests afar. The meaning of the symbol may be seen by comparing this passage with Isaiah 46:11, where Cyrus is compared to "a ravenous bird" - "calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsels from a far country." The eagle is an emblem of swiftness: Jeremiah 4:13, "His horses are swifter than eagles;" Jeremiah 48:40, "Behold, he shall fly as an eagle, and shall spread his wings over Moab." See also Jeremiah 49:22; Lamentations 4:19; Habakkuk 1:8.
(c) The clipping of the wings: "I beheld until the wings thereof were plucked" The word used (מרט meraṭ) means, to pluck or pull, as to pull out the beard (compare Nehemiah 13:25; Isaiah 50:6), and would here be properly applied to some process of pulling out the feathers or quills from the wings of the eagle. The obvious and proper meaning of this symbol is, that there was some check put to the progress of the conqueror - as there would be to an eagle by plucking off the feathers from his wings; that is, the rapidity of his conquests would cease. The prophet says, that he looked on until this was done, implying that it was not accomplished at once, but leaving the impression that these conquests were extended far. They were, however, checked, and we see the lion again without the wings; the sovereign who has ceased to spread his triumphs over the earth.
(d) The lifting up from the earth: "and it was lifted up from the earth, and made to stand upon the feet as a man." That is, the lion, with the wings thus plucked off, was made to stand upright on his hind feet - an unusual position, but the meaning of the symbol is not difficult. It was still the lion - the monarch - but changed as if the lion was changed to a man; that is, as if the ferocity, and the power, and the energy of the lion had given place to the comparative weakness of a man. There would be as much difference in the case referred to as there would be if a lion so fierce and powerful should be made so far to change his nature as to stand upright, and to walk as a man. This would evidently denote some remarkable change - something that would be unusual - something where there would be a diminution of ferocity, and yet perhaps a change to comparative weakness - as a man is feebler than a lion.
(e) The giving to it of a man's heart: "and a man heart was given to it." The word heart in the Scriptures often has a closer relation to the intellect or the understanding than it new has commonly with us; and here perhaps it is a general term to denote something like human nature - that is, there would be as great a change in the case as if the nature of the lion should be transformed to that of a man; or, the meaning may be, that this mighty empire, carrying its arms with the rapidity of an eagle, and the fierceness of a lion, through the world, would be checked in its career; its ferocity would be tamed, and it would be characterized by comparative moderation and humanity. In Daniel 4:16, it is said of Nebuchadnezzar, "Let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given unto him;" here, if the symbol refers to him, it does not refer to that scene of humiliation when he was compelled to eat grass like a beast, but to the fact that he was brought to look at things as a man should do; he ceased to act like a ravenous beast, and was led to calm reflection, and to think and speak like a man - a rational being. Or, if it refers to the empire of Babylon, instead of the monarch, it would mean that a change had come over the nation under the succession of princes, so that the fierceness and ferocity of the first princes of the empire had ceased, and the nation had not only closed its conquests, but had actually become, to some extent, moderate and rational.
Now, in regard to the application of this symbol, there can be but little difficulty, and there is almost no difference of opinion among expositors. All, or nearly all, agree that it refers to the kingdom of Babylon, of which Nebuchadnezzar was the head, and to the gradual diminution of the ferocity of conquest under a succession of comparatively weak princes. Whatever view may be taken of the book of Daniel whether it be regarded as inspired prophecy composed by Daniel himself, and written at the time when it professes to have been, or whether it be supposed to have been written long after his time by some one who forged it in his name, there can be no doubt that it relates to the head of the Babylonian empire, or to that which the "head of gold," in the image referred to in Daniel 2, represents. The circumstances all so well agree with that application, that, although in the explication of the dream Daniel 7:16-27 this part of it is not explained - for the perplexity of Daniel related particularly to the fourth beast Daniel 7:19, yet there can be no reasonable doubt as to what was intended. For
(a) the lion - the king of beasts - would accurately symbolize that kingdom in the days of Nebuchadnezzar - a kingdom occupying the same position among other kingdoms which the lion does among other beasts, and well represented in its power and ferocity by the lion. See the character and position of this kingdom fully illustrated in the notes at Daniel 2:37-38.
(b) The eagle's wings would accurately denote the rapid conquests of that kingdom - its leaving, as it were, its own native domain, and flying abroad. The lion alone would have represented the character of the kingdom considered as already having spread itself, or as being at the head of other kingdoms; the wings of the eagle, the rapidity with which the arms of the Babylonians were carried into Palestine, Egypt, Assyria, etc. It is true that this symbol alone would not designate Babylon anymore than it would the conquests of Cyrus, or Alexander, or Caesar, but it is to be taken in the connection in which it is here found, and no one can doubt that it has a striking applicability to Babylon.
(c) The clipping or plucking of these wings would denote the cessation of conquest - as if it would extend no farther; that is, we see a nation once distinguished for the invasion of other nations now ceasing its conquests; and remarkable, not for its victories, but as standing at the head of all other nations, as the lion stands among the beasts of the forest. All who are acquainted with history know that, after the conquests of that kingdom under Nebuchadnezzar, it ceased characteristically to be a kingdom distinguished for conquest, but that, though under his successors, it held a pre-eminence or headship among the nations, yet its victories were extended no further. The successors of Nebuchadnezzar were comparatively weak and indolent princes - as if the wings of the monster had been plucked.
(d) The rising up of the lion on the feet, and standing on the feet as a man, would denote, not inappropriately, the change of the kingdom under the successors of Nebuchadnezzar. See above in the explanation of the symbol.
(e) The giving of a man's heart to it would not be inapplicable to the change produced in the empire after the time of Nebuchadnezzar, and under a succession of comparatively weak and inefficient princes. Instead of the heart of the lion - of being "lion-hearted" - it had the heart of a man; that is, the character of wildness and fierceness denoted by an untamed beast was succeeded by what would be better represented by a human being. It is not the character of the lion changed to that of the bear, or the panther, or the leopard; nor is it man considered as a warrior or conqueror, but man as he is distinguished from the wild and ferocious beast of the desert. The change in the character of the empire, until it ceased under the feeble reign of Belshazzar; would be well denoted by this symbol.
And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.
And, behold, another beast, a second, like to a bear - That is, after the lion had appeared, and he had watched it until it had undergone these surprising transformations. There are several circumstances, also, in regard to this symbol, all of which, it is to be supposed, were significant, and all of which demand explication before it is attempted to apply them.
(a) The animal seen: the bear. For a full description of the bear, see Bochart, Hieroz. lib. iii. c. 9: The animal is well known, and has properties quite distinct from the lion and other animals. There was doubtless some reason why this symbol was employed to denote a particular kingdom, and there was something in the kingdom that corresponded with these peculiar properties, as there was in the case of the lion. The bear might, in some respects, have been a proper representative of Babylon, but it would not in all nor in the main respects. According to Bochart (Hiefoz, vol. i. p. 812), the bear is distinguished mainly for two things, cunning and ferocity. Aristotle says that the bear is greedy as well as silly and foolhardy. (Wemyss, Key to the Symbolic Language of Scripture.) The name in Hebrew is taken from his grumbling or growling. Compare Isaiah 19:11 :
"We roar all like bears."
Compare Horace, Epod. 16, 51:
"Nec vespertinus circumgemit ursus ovile."
Virgil mentions their ferocity:
"Atque in praesepibus ursi Saevire."
- AEn. vii. 17.
The bear is noted as especially fierce when hungry, or when robbed of its whelps. Jerome (on Hosea 13:8) remarks, "It is said by those who have studied the nature of wild beasts, that none among them is more ferocious than the bear when deprived of its young, or when hungry." Compare 2 Samuel 17:8; Proverbs 17:12; Hosea 13:8. The characteristics of the kingdom, therefore, that would be denoted by the bear would be ferocity, roughness, fierceness in war, especially when provoked; a spirit less manly and noble than that denoted by the lion; severe in its treatment of enemies, with a mixture of fierce and savage cunning.
(b) Its rising up on one of its sides: "and it raised up itself on one side." The Chaldee word used here (שׁטר sheṭar) occurs nowhere else. It means side (Gesenius), and would be applied here to the side of an animal, as if he lifted up one side before the other when he rose. The Latin Vulgate renders it, in parte stetit. The Greek (Walton), έις μέρος ἕν ἐστάθη eis meros hen estathē - "it stood on one part;" or, as Thompson renders it, "he stood half erect." The Codex Chisianus, ἐπὶ τοῦ ἑνὸς πλευροῦ ἐστάθη epi tou henos pleurou estathē - "it stood upon one side." Maurer renders this, "on one of its forefeet it was recumbent, and stood on the other," and says that this is the figure exhibited on one of the stones found in Babylon, an engraving of which may be seen in Munter, Religion d. Babyl. p. 112. The animal referred to here, as found in Babylon, says Lengerke, "lies kneeling on the right forefoot, and is in the act of rising on the left foot." Bertholdt and Havernick understand this as meaning that the animal stood on the hindfeet, with the forepart raised, as the bear is said to do; but probably the true position is that referred to by Maurer and Lengerke, that the animal was in the act of raising itself up from a recumbent posture, and rested on one of its forefeet while the other was reached out, and the body on that side was partially raised. This position would naturally denote a kingdom that had been quiet and at rest, but that was now rousing itself deliberately for some purpose, as of conquest or war - as the bear that had been couching down would rise when hungry, or when going forth for prey.
(c) The ribs in its mouth: "and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it." Bertholdt understands this of fangs or tusks - or fangs crooked or bent like ribs, p. 451, But the proper meaning of the Chaldee עלע ‛ala‛ is the same as the Hebrew צלע tsēlâ‛ - "a rib." - Gesenius. The Latin Vulgate is, tres ordines - three rows; the Syriac and the Greek, three ribs. This would be sufficiently characteristic of a bear, and the attitude of the animal here seems to be that it had killed some other animal, and had, in devouring it, torn out three ribs from its side, and now held them in its mouth. It was slowly rising from a recumbent posture, with these ribs in its mouth, and about to receive a command to go forth and devour much flesh. The number three, in this place, Lengerke supposes to be a round number, without any special significancy; others suppose that it denotes the number of nations or kingdoms which the people here represented by the bear had overcome. Perhaps this latter would be the more obvious idea as suggested by the symbol, but it is not necessary, in order to a proper understanding of a symbol, to press such a point too closely. The natural idea which would be suggested by this part of the symbol would be that of a kingdom or people of a fierce and rough character having already subdued some, and then, after reposing, rising up with the trophies of its former conquests to go forth to new victories, or to overcome others. The symbol would be a very striking one to represent a conquering nation in such a posture.
(d) The command given to this beast: "and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh." That is, it was said to it; or some one having authority said it. A voice was heard commanding it to go forth and devour. This command is wholly in accordance with the nature of the bear. The bear is called by Aristotle σαρκοφαγῶν sarkofagōn, flesh-eater, and ξῶον πάμφαγον xōon pamphagon, a beast devouring everything (Hist. Nat. viii. 5), and no better description could be given of it. As a symbol, this would properly be applicable to a nation about receiving, as it were, a command from God to go forth to wider conquests than it had already made; to arouse itself from its repose and to achieve new triumphs.
The application of this symbol was not explained by the angel to Daniel; but if the former pertained to Babylon, there can be little difficulty in understanding to what this is to be applied. It is evidently to what succeeded the Babylonian - the Medo-Persian, the kingdom ruled successively by Cyrus, Cambyses, Smerdis, Darius, Xerxes, Artaxerxes, and Darius Nothus, until it was overthrown by Alexander the Great. The only inquiry now is as to the pertinency of the symbol here employed to represent this kingdom.
(a) The symbol of the bear. As already seen, the bear would denote any fierce, rough, overbearing, and arbitrary kingdom, and it is clear that while it might have applicability to any such kingdom, it would better represent that of Medo-Persia than the lion would, for while, in some respects, either symbol would be applicable to either nation, the Medo-Persian did not stand so decidedly at the head of nations as the Babylonian. As to its character, however, the bear was not an inappropriate symbol. Taking the whole nation together, it was fierce and rough, and unpolished, little disposed to friendliness with the nations, and dissatisfied while any around it had peace or prosperity. In the image seen in Dan. ii., this kingdom, denoted by the breast and arms of silver Daniel 7:32, is described in the explanation Daniel 7:39 as "inferior to thee;" that is, to Nebuchadnezzar. For a sufficiently full account of this kingdom - of the mad projects of Cambyses, and his savage rage against the Ethiopians - well represented by the ferocity of the bear; of the ill-starred expedition to Greece under Xerxes - an expedition in its fierceness and folly well represented by the bear, and of the degeneracy of the national character after Xerxes - well represented by the bear as compared with the lion, see the notes at Daniel 2:39. No one acquainted with the history of that nation can doubt the propriety and applicability of the emblem.
After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.
After this I beheld, and, lo, another, like a leopard - That is, as before, after the bear had appeared - indicating that this was to be a succeeding kingdom or power. The beast which now appeared was a monster, and, as in the former cases, so in regard to this, there are several circumstances which demand explanation in order to understand the symbol. It may assist us, perhaps, in forming a correct idea of the symbol here introduced to have before us a representation of the animal as it appeared to Daniel.
(a) The animal itself: "a leopard." The word used here - נמר nemar - or in Hebrew נמר nâmêr - denotes a panther or leopard, so called from his spots. This is a well-known beast of prey, distinguished for blood-thirstiness and cruelty, and these characteristics are especially applicable to the female panther. The animal is referred to in the Scriptures as emblematic of the following things, or as having the following characteristics:
(1) As next in dignity to the lion - of the same general nature. Compare Bochart, Hieroz. P. I. lib. iii. c. vii. Thus the lion and the panther, or leopard, are often united in the Scriptures. Compare Jeremiah 5:6; Hosea 13:7. See also in the Apocrypha, Ecclesiasticus 28:23. So also they are united in Homer, r
Ὄυτε οἶν παρδάλιος τόσσον μένος, ὄυτε λέοντος.
Oute oun pardalios tosson menos, oute leontos.
"Neither had the leopard nor the lion such strength."
(2) As distinguished for cruelty, or a fierce nature, as contrasted with the gentle and tame animal. Isaiah 11:6, "and the leopard shall lie down with the kid." In Jeremiah 5:6, it is compared with the lion and the wolf: "A lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities." Compare Hosea 13:7.
(3) As distinguished for swiftness or fleetness. Habakkuk 1:8 : "their horses are swifter than the leopards." Compare also the quotations from the classics in Bochart as above, p. 788. His fleetness is often referred to - the celerity of his spring or bound especially - by the Greek and Roman writers.
(4) As insidious, or as lying in wait, and springing unexpectedly upon the unwary traveler. Compare Hosea 13:7 : "As a leopard by the way will I observe them;" that is, I will "watch" (אשׁור 'âshûr) them. So Pliny says of leopards: Insidunt pardi condensa arborurn, occultatique earurn ramis in prcetereuntia desiliunt.
(5) They are characterized by their spots. In the general nature of the animal there is a strong resemblance to the lion. Thus, an Arabic writer quoted by Bochart, deflates the leopard to be "an animal resembling the lion, except that it is smaller, and has a skin marked by black spots." The proper idea in this representation, when used as a symbol, would be of a nation or kingdom that would have more nobleness than the one represented by the bear, but a less decisive headship over others than that represented by the lion; a nation that, was addicted to conquest, or that preyed upon others; a nation rapid in its movements, and springing upon others unawares, and perhaps in its spots denoting a nation or people made up, not of homogeneous elements, but of various different people. See below in the application of this.
(b) The four wings: which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl. The first beast was seen with the wings of an eagle, but without any specified number; this appears with wings, but without specifying any particular kind of wings, though the number is mentioned. In both of them celerity of movement is undoubtedly intended - celerity beyond what would be properly denoted by the animal itself the lion or the leopard. If there is a difference in the design of the representation, as there would seem to be by mentioning the kind of wings in the one case, and the number in the other, it is probable that the former would denote a more bold and extended flight; the latter a flight more rapid, denoted by the four wings. We should look for the fulfillment of the former in a nation that extended its conquests over a broader space; in the latter, to a nation that moved with more celerity. But there is some danger of pressing these similitudes too far. Nothing is said in the passage about the arrangement of the wings, except that they were on the back of the animal. It is to be supposed that there were two on each side.
(c) The four heads: "the beast had also four heads." This representation must have been designed to signify either that the one power or kingdom denoted by the leopard was composed of four separate powers or nations now united in one; or that there were four successive kings or dynasties that made up its history; or that the power or kingdom actually appeared, as seen in its prevailing characteristic, as a distinct dominion, as having four heads, or as being divided into so many separate sovereignties. It seems to me that either one of these would be a proper and natural fulfillment of the design of the image, though the second suggested would be less proper than either of the others, as the heads appeared on the animal not in succession - as the little horn sprung up in the midst of the other ten, as represented in the fourth beast - but existed simultaneously. The general idea would be, that in some way the one particular sovereignty had four sources of power blended into one, or actually exerted the same kind of dominion, and constituted, in fact, the one kingdom as distinguished from the others.
(d) The dominion given to it: "and dominion was given to it." That is, it was appointed to rule where the former had ruled, and until it should be succeeded by another - the beast with the ten horns.
In regard to the application of this, though the angel did not explain it to Daniel, except in general that a kingdom was represented by it. Daniel 7:17, it would seem that there could be little difficulty, though there has been some variety in the views entertained. Maurer, Lengerke, and some others, refer it to the Medo-Persian empire - supposing that the second symbol referred to the kingdom of Media. But the objections to this are so obvious, and so numerous, that it seems to me the opinion cannot be entertained, for
After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.
After this I saw in the night visions - The other beasts were seen also in a dream Daniel 7:1, and this probably in the same night, though as a subsequent part of the dream, for the whole vision evidently passed before the prophet in a single dream. The succession, or the fact that he saw one after the other, indicates a sucession in the kingdoms. They were not to be at the same time upon the earth, but one was to arise after another in the order here indicated, though they were in some respects to occupy the same territory. The singular character of the beast that now appears; the number of the horns; the springing up of a new horn; the might and terror of the beast, and the long duration of its dominion upon the earth, attracted and fixed the attention of Daniel, led him into a more minute description of the appearance of the animal, and induced him particularly to ask an explanation of the angel of the meaning of this part of the vision, Daniel 7:19.
And, behold, a fourth beast - This beast had peculiar characteristics, all of which were regarded as symbolic, and all of which demand explanation in order that we may have a just view of the nature and design of the symbol.
As in reference to the three former beasts, so also in regard to this, it will be proper to explain first the significance of the different parts of the symbol, and then in the exposition (Daniel 7:19, following) to inquire into the application. The particulars of this symbol are more numerous, more striking, and more important than in either of the previous ones. These particulars are the following Daniel 7:7-11 :
(a) The animal itself Daniel 5:7 : "a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly." The form or nature of the beast is not given as in the preceding cases - the lion, the bear, and the leopard - but it is left for the imagination to fill up. It was a beast more terrific in its appearance than either of the others, and was evidently a monster such as could not be designated by a single name. The terms which are used here in describing the beast - "dreadful, terrible, exceedingly strong," are nearly synonymous, and are heaped together in order to give an impressive view of the terror inspired by the beast. There can be no doubt as to the general meaning of this, for it is explained Daniel 7:23 as denoting a kingdom that "should devour the whole earth, and tread it down, and break it in pieces." As a symbol, it would denote some power much more fearful and much more to be dreaded; having a wider dominion; and more stern, more oppressive in its character, more severe in its exactions, and more entirely destroying the liberty of others; advancing more by power and terror, and less by art and cunning, than either. This characteristic is manifest throughout the symbol.
(b) The teeth Daniel 7:7 : "and it had great iron teeth." Not only teeth or tusks, such as other animals may have, but teeth made of iron. This is characteristic of a monster, and shows that there was to be something very peculiar in the dominion that was here symbolized. The teeth are of use to eat or devour; and the symbol here is that of devouring or rending - as a fierce monster with such teeth might be supposed to rend or devour all that was before it. This, too, would denote a nation exceedingly fierce; a nation of savage ferocity; a nation that would be signally formidable to all others. For illustration, compare Jeremiah 15:12; Micah 4:13. As explained in Daniel 7:23, it is said that the kingdom denoted by this would "devour the whole earth." Teeth - great teeth, are often used as the symbols of cruelty, or of a devouring enemy. Thus in Proverbs 30:14 : "There is a generation whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth are as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men." So David uses the word to denote the cruelty of tyrants: Psalm 3:7, "Thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly;" Psalm 57:4, "whose teeth are spears and arrows;" Psalm 58:6, "break their teeth in their mouth; break out the great teeth of the young lions."
(c) The stamping with the feet Daniel 7:7 : "it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it." That is, like a fierce monster, whatever it could not devour it stamped down and crushed in the earth. This indicates a disposition or purpose to destroy, for the sake of destroying, or where no other purpose could be gained. It denotes rage, wrath, a determination to crush all in its way, to have universal dominion; and would be applicable to a nation that subdued and crushed others for the mere sake of doing it, or because it was unwilling that any other should exist and enjoy liberty - even where itself could not hope for any advantage.
(d) The fact that it was different from all that went before it Daniel 7:7 : "and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it." The prophet does not specify particularly in what respects it was different, for he does not attempt to give its appearance. It was not a lion, a bear, or a leopard, but he does not say precisely what it was. Probably it was such a monster that there were no animals with which it could be compared. He states some circumstances, however, in which it was different - as in regard to the ten horns, the little horn, the iron teeth, etc., but still the imagination is left to fill up the picture in general. The meaning of this must be, that the fourth kingdom, represented by this beast, would be materially different from those which preceded it, and we must look for the fulfillment in some features that would characterize it by which it would be unlike the others. There must be something marked in the difference - something that would be more than the common difference between nations.
(e) The ten horns Daniel 7:7 : "and it had ten horns." That is, the prophet saw on it ten horns as characterizing the beast. The horn is a symbol of power, and is frequently so used as an emblem or symbol in Daniel Dan 7:7-8, Daniel 7:20, Daniel 7:24; Daniel 8:3-9, Daniel 8:20-22 and Revelation Rev 5:6; Revelation 13:1, Revelation 13:11; Revelation 17:3, Revelation 17:12, Revelation 17:16. It is used as a symbol because the great strength of horned animals is found there. Thus in Amos 6:13, it is said:
"Ye that rejoice in a thing of nought,
That say, Have we not taken dominion to ourselves By our own strength?"
So in Deuteronomy 33:17 :
"His beauty shall be that of a young bull,
And his horns shall be the horns of a rhinoceros:
I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.
I beheld - "I continued looking on these strange sights, and contemplating these transformations." This implies that some time elapsed before all these things had occurred. He looked on until he saw a solemn judgment passed on this fourth beast particularly, as if God had come forth in his majesty and glory to pronounce that judgment, and to bring the power and arrogance of the beast to an end.
Till the thrones were cast down - The Chaldee word (כרסון kâresâvân) means, properly, thrones - seats on which monarchs sit. So far as the word is concerned, it would apply either to a throne occupied by an earthly monarch, or to the throne of God. The use of the plural here would seem to imply, at least, that the reference is not to the throne of God, but to some other throne. Maurer and Lengerke suppose that the allusion is to the thrones on which the celestial beings sat in the solemn judgment that was to be pronounced - the throne of God, and the thrones or seats of the attending inhabitants of heaven, coming with him to the solemn judgment. Lengerke refers for illustration to 1 Kings 22:19; Isaiah 6:1; Job 1:6, and Revelation 5:11-12. But the word itself might be properly applied to the thrones of earthly monarchs as well as to the throne of God. The phrase "were cast down" (רמיו remı̂yv), in our translation, would seem to suppose that there was some throwing down, or overturning of thrones, at this period, and that the solemn judgment would follow this, or be consequent on this.
The Chaldee word (רמא remâh) means, as explained by Gesenius, to cast, to throw Daniel 3:21, Daniel 3:24; Daniel 6:16-17; to set, to place, e. g., thrones; to impose tribute Ezra 7:24. The passage is rendered by the Latin Vulgate, throni positi sunt - "thrones were placed;" by the Greek, ἐτέθησαν etethēsan - "were placed." So Luther, stuhle gesetzt; and so Lengerke, stuhle aufgestellt - the thrones were placed, or set up. The proper meaning, therefore, of the phrase would seem to be - not, as in our translation, that the "thrones would be cast down" - as if there was to be an overturning of thrones on the earth to mark this particular period of history - but that there was, in the vision, a setting up, or a placing of thrones for the purpose of administering judgment, etc., on the beast. The use of the plural is, doubtless, in accordance with the language elsewhere employed, to denote the fact that the great Judge would be surrounded with others who would be, as it were, associated in administering justice - either angels or redeemed spirits.
Nothing is more common in the Scripture than to represent others as thus associated with God in pronouncing judgment on men. Compare Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30; 1 Corinthians 6:2-3; 1 Timothy 5:21; Revelation 2:26; Revelation 4:4. The era, or period, therefore, marked here, would be when a solemn Divine judgment was to be passed on the "beast," or when some events were to take place, as if such a judgment were pronounced. The events pertaining to the fourth beast were to be the last in the series preparatory to the reign of the saints, or the setting up of the kingdom of the Messiah, and therefore it is introduced in this manner, as if a solemn judgment scene were to occur.
And the Ancient of days did sit - Was seated for the purposes of judgment. The phrase "Ancient of days" - יומין עתיק ‛attı̂yq yômı̂yn - is one that denotes an elderly or old person; meaning, he who is most ancient as to days, and is equivalent to the French L'Eternel, or English, The Eternal. It occurs only in Daniel 7:9, Daniel 7:13, Daniel 7:22, and is a representation of one venerable in years, sitting down for the purposes of judgment. The appellation does not of itself denote eternity, but it is employed, probably, with reference to the fact that God is eternal. God is often represented under some such appellation, as he that is "from everlasting to everlasting" Psalm 90:2, "the first and the last" Isaiah 44:6, etc. There can be no doubt that the reference here is to God as a Judge, or as about to pronounce judgment, though there is no necessity for supposing that it will be in a visible and literal form, anymore than there is for supposing that all that is here represented by symbols will literally take place.
If it should be insisted on that the proper interpretation demands that there will be a literal and visible judgment, such as is here described, it may be replied that the same rigid interpretation would demand that there will be a literal "slaying of the beast, and a giving of his body to the flame" Daniel 7:11, and more generally still, that all that is here referred to by symbols will literally occur. The fact, however, is, that all these events are referred to by symbols - symbols which have an expressive meaning, but which, by their very nature and design, are not to be literally understood. All that is fairly implied here is, that events would occur in regard to this fourth beast as if God should sit in solemn judgment on it, and should condemn it in the manner here referred to. We are, doubtless, in the fulfillment of this - to look for some event that will be of so decisive and marked a character, that it may be regarded as a Divine judgment in the case, or that will show the strongly marked Divine disapprobation - as really as if the judgment-seat were formally set, and God should appear in majesty to give sentence. Sitting was the usual posture among the ancients, as it is among the moderns, in pronouncing judgment. Among the ancients the judge sat on a throne or bench while the parties stood before him (compare Zechariah 4:13), and with the Greeks and Romans so essential was the sitting posture for a judge, that a sentence pronounced in any other posture was not valid. - Lengerke. It was a maxim, Animus sedendo magis sapit; or, as Servius on the AEn. i. 56, remarks, Est enim curantis et solliciti sedere.
Whose garment was white as snow - Whose robe. The reference here is to the long flowing robe that was worn by ancient princes, noblemen, or priests. See the notes at Isaiah 6:1. Compare the notes at Revelation 1:13. White was an emblem of purity and honor, and was not an improper symbol of the purity of the judge, and of the justness of the sentence which he would pronounce. So the elder Pitt, in his celebrated speech against employing Indians in the war with the American people, besought the bishops to "interpose the unsullied purity of their lawn." Lengerke supposes, as Prof. Stuart does on Revelation 1:13, that the whiteness here referred to was not the mere color of the material of which the robe was made, but, was a celestial splendor or brightness, as if it were lightning or fire - such as is appropriate to the Divine Majesty. Lengerke refers here to Exodus 19:18-24; Daniel 2:22; Matthew 17:2; 1 Timothy 6:16; 2 Esdras 7:55; Ascension of Isaiah 8:21-25; Revelation 1:13-14; Revelation 4:2-4. But the more correct interpretation is to suppose that this refers to a pure white robe, such as judges might wear, and which would not be an improper symbol of their office.
And the hair of his head like the pure wool - That is, for whiteness - a characteristic of venerable age. Compare the notes at Revelation 1:14. The image here set before us is that of one venerable by years and wisdom.
His throne was like the fiery flame - The seat on which he sat seemed to be fire. That is, it was brilliant and splendid, as if it were a mass of flame.
And his wheels as burning fire - The wheels of his throne - for, as in Ezekiel 1; 10, the throne on which Jehovah sat appeared to be on wheels. In Ezekiel EZechariah 1:16; Ezekiel 10:9, the wheels of the throne appeared to be of the color of beryl; that is, they were like precious stones. Here, perhaps, they had only the appearance of a flame - as such wheels would seem to flash flames. So, Milton, in describing the chariot of the Son of God:
"Forth rush'd with whirlwind sound
The chariot of Paternal Deity,
Flashing thick flames, wheel within wheel undrawn,
Itself instinct with spirit, but convoyed
A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.
A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him - Streams of fire seemed to burst forth from his throne. Representations of this kind abound in the Scriptures to illustrate the majesty and glory of God. Compare Revelation 4:5, "And out of the throne proceeded lightnings, and thunderings, and voices." Exodus 19:16; Habakkuk 3:4; Psalm 18:8.
Thousand thousands ministered unto him - "A thousand of thousands;" that is, thousands multiplied a thousand times. The mind is struck with the fact that there are thousands present - and then the number seems as great as if those thousands were multiplied a thousand times. The idea is that there was an immense - a countless host. The reference here is to the angels, and God is often represented as attended with great numbers of these celestial beings when he comes down to our world. Deuteronomy 33:2, "he came with ten thousands of saints;" that is, of holy ones. Psalm 68:17, "the chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels." Compare Jde 1:14. The word "ministered" means that they attended on him.
And ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him - An innumerable host. These were not to be judged, but were attendants on him as he pronounced sentence. The judgment here referred to was not on the world at large, but on the beast, preparatory to giving the kingdom to the one who was like the Son of man Daniel 7:13-14.
The judgment was set - That is, all the arrangements for a solemn act of judgment were made, and the process of the judgment commenced.
And the books were opened - As containing the record of the deeds of those who were to be judged. Compare Revelation 20:12. The great Judge is represented as having before him the record of all the deeds on which judgment was to be pronounced, and to be about to pronounce sentence according to those deeds. The judgment here referred to seems to have been some solemn act on the part of God transferring the power over the world, from what had long swayed it, to the saints. As already remarked, the necessary interpretation of the passage does not require us to understand this of a literal and visible judgment - of a personal appearing of the "Ancient of days" - of a formal application to him by "one like the Son of man" Daniel 7:13 - or of a public and visible making over to him of a kingdom upon the earth. It is to be remembered that all this passed in vision before the mind of the prophet; that it is a symbolic representation; and that we are to find the fulfillment of this in some event changing the course of empire - putting a period to the power represented by the "beast" and the "horn," and causing that power to pass into other hands - producing a change as great on the earth as if such a solemn act of judgment were passed. The nature of the representation requires that we should look for the fulfillment of this in some great and momentous change in human affairs - some events that would take away the power of the "beast," and that would cause the dominion to pass into other hands. On the fulfillment, see the notes at Daniel 7:26.
I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.
I beheld then, because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake - I was attracted by these words - by their arrogance, and haughtiness, and pride; and I saw that it was on account of these mainly that the solemn judgment proceeded against the beast. The attitude of the seer here is this - he heard arrogant and proud words uttered by the "horn," and he waited in deep attention, and in earnest expectation, to learn what judgment would be pronounced. He had seen Daniel 7:8 that horn spring up and grow to great power, and utter great things; he had then seen, immediately on this, a solemn and sublime preparation for judgment, and he now waited anxiously to learn what sentence would be pronounced. The result is stated in the subsequent part of the verse.
I beheld - I continued beholding. This would seem to imply that it was not done at once, but that some time intervened.
Even until the beast was slain - The fourth beast: what had the ten horns, and on which the little horn had sprung up. This was the result of the judgment. It is evidently implied here that the beast was slain on account of the words uttered by the horn that sprang up, or that the pride and arrogance denoted by that symbol were the cause of the fact that the beast was put to death. It is not said by whom the beast would be slain; but the fair meaning is, that the procuring cause of that death would be the Divine judgment, on account of the pride and arrogancy of the "horn" that sprang up in the midst of the others. If the "beast" represents a mighty monarchy that would exist on the earth and the "little horn" a new power that would spring out of that, then the fulfillment is to be found in such a fact as this - that this power, so mighty and terrible formerly, and that crushed down the nations, would, under the Divine judgment, be ultimately destroyed, on account of the nature of the authority claimed. We are to look for the accomplishment of this in some such state of things as that of a new power springing out of an existing dominion, that the existing dominion still remains, but was so much controlled by the new power, that it would be necessary to destroy the former on account of the arrogance and pride of what sprang from it. In other words, the destruction of the kingdom represented by the fourth beast would be, as a Divine judgment, on account of the arrogancy of that represented by the little horn.
And his body destroyed - That is, there would be a destruction of the kingdom here represented as much as there would be of the beast if his body was destroyed. The power of that kingdom, as such, is to come to an end.
And given to the burning flame - Consumed. This would represent, in strong terms, that the power here symbolized by the beast would be utterly destroyed. It is not, however, necessary to suppose that this is to be the mode in which it would be done, or that it would be by fire. It is to be remembered that all this is symbol, and no one part of the symbol should be taken literally more than another, nor is it congruous to suppose there would be a literal consuming fire in the case anymore than that there would be literally a beast, or ten horns, or a little horn, The fair meaning is, that there would be as real a destruction as if it were accomplished by fire; or a destruction of which fire would be the proper emblem. The allusion is here, probably, to the fact that the dead bodies of animals were often consumed by fire.
As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.
As concerning the rest of the beasts - They had been superseded, but not destroyed. It would seem that they were still represented in vision to Daniel, as retaining their existence, though their power was taken away, and their fierceness subdued, or that they still seemed to remain alive for a time, or while the vision was passing. They were not cut down, destroyed, and consumed as the fourth beast was.
They had their dominion taken away - They were superseded, or they no longer exercised power. They no more appeared exerting a control over the nations. They still existed, but they were subdued and quiet. It was possible to discern them, but they no longer acted the conspicuous part which they had done in the days of their greatness and grandeur. Their power had passed away. This cannot be difficult of interpretation. We should naturally look for the fulfillment of this in the fact that the nations referred to by these first three beasts were still in being, and could be recognized as nations, in their boundaries, or customs, or languages; but that the power which they had wielded had passed into other hands.
Yet their lives were prolonged - Margin, as in Chaldee, "a prolonging in life was given them." That is, they were not utterly destroyed and consumed as the power of the fourth beast was after the solemn judgment. The meaning is, that in these kingdoms there would be energy for a time. They had life still; and the difference between them and the kingdom represented by the fourth beast was what would exist between wild animals subdued but still living, and a wild animal killed and burned. We should look for the fulfillment of this in some state of things where the kingdoms referred to by the three beasts were subdued and succeeded by others, though they still retained something of their national character; while the other kingdom had no successor of a civil kind, but where its power wholly ceased, and the dominion went wholly into other hands - so that it might be said that that kingdom, as such, had wholly ceased to be.
For a season and time - Compare the notes at Daniel 7:25. The time mentioned here is not definite. The phrase used (ועדן עד־זמן ‛ad-zeman ve‛ı̂ddân) refers to a definite period, both the words in the original referring to a designated or appointed time, though neither of them indicates anything about the length of the time, anymore than our word time does. Luther renders this, "For there was a time and an hour appointed to them how long each one should continue." Grotius explains this as meaning, "Beyond the time fixed by God they could not continue." The true meaning of the Chaldee is probably this: "For a time, even a definite time." The mind of the prophet is at first fixed upon the fact that they continue to live; then upon the fact, somehow apparent, that it is for a definite period. Perhaps in the vision he saw them one after another die or disappear. In the words used here, however, there is nothing by which we can determine how long they were to continue. The time that the power represented by the little horn is to continue explained in Daniel 7:25, but there is no clue by which we can ascertain how long the existence of the power represented by the first three beasts was to continue. All that is clear is, that it was to be lengthened out for some period, but that that was a definite and fixed period.
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
I saw in the night visions - Evidently in the same night visions, or on the same occasion, for the visions are connected. See Daniel 7:1, Daniel 7:7. The meaning is, that he continued beholding, or that a new vision passed before him.
And, behold, one like the Son of man ... - It is remarkable that Daniel does not attempt to represent this by any symbol. The representation by symbols ceases with the fourth beast; and now the description assumes a literal form - the setting up of the kingdom of the Messiah and of the saints. Why this change of form occurs is not stated or known, but the sacred writers seem carefully to have avoided any representation of the Messiah by symbols. The phrase "The Son of Man" - אנשׁ בר bar 'ĕnâsh - does not occur elsewhere in the Old Testament in such a connection, and with such a reference as it has here, though it is often found in the New, and is, in fact, the favorite term by which the Saviour designates himself. In Daniel 3:25, we have the phrase "the Son of God" (see the note at that passage), as applicable to one who appeared with the three" children" that were cast into the burning furnace; and in Ezekiel, the phrase "son of man" often occurs as applicable to himself as a prophet, being found more than eighty times in his prophecies, but the expression here used does not elsewhere occur in the Old Testament as applicable to the personage intended. As occurring here, it is important to explain it, not only in view of the events connected with it in the prophecy, but as having done much to mould the language of the New Testament. There are three questions in regard to its meaning: What does it signify? To whom does it refer? And what would be its proper fulfillment?
(1) The phrase is more than a mere Hebrew or Chaldee expression to denote man, but is always used with some peculiar significancy, and with relation to some peculiar characteristic of the person to whom it is applied, or with some special design. To ascertain this design, regard should be had to the expression of the original. "While the words אישׁ 'ı̂ysh and אישׁה 'ı̂iyshâh are used simply as designations of sex, אנושׁ 'ĕnôsh, which is etymologically akin to אישׁ 'ı̂ysh, is employed with constant reference to its original meaning, to be weak, sick; it is the ethical designation of man, but אדם 'âdâm denotes man as to his, physical, natural condition - whence the use of the word in such passages as Psalm 8:4; Job 25:6, and also its connection with בן bên are satisfactorily explained, The emphatic address אדם בן bên 'âdâm - Son of man - is therefore (in Ezekiel) a continued admonition to the prophet to remember that he is a man like all the rest." - Havernick, Com. on, Ezekiel 2:1-2, quoted in the Bibliotheca Sacra, v. 718. The expression used here is בר־אנושׁ bar -'ĕnôsh, and would properly refer to man as weak and feeble, and as liable to be sick, etc. Applied to anyone as "a Son of man," it would be used to denote that he partook of the weakness and infirmities of the race; and, as the phrase "the Son of man" is used in the New Testament when applied by the Saviour to himself, there is an undoubted reference to this fact - that he sustained a peculiar relation to our race; that he was in all respects a man; that he was one of us; that he had so taken our nature on himself that there was a peculiar propriety that a term which would at once designate this should be given to him. The phrase used here by Daniel would denote some one
(a) in the human form;
(b) some one sustaining a peculiar relation to man - as if human nature were embodied in him.
(2) The next inquiry here is, to whom, this refers? Who, in fact, was the one that was thus seen in vision by the prophet? Or who was designed to be set forth by this? This inquiry is not so much, whom did Daniel suppose or understand this to be? as, who was in fact designed to be represented; or in whom would the fulfillment be found? For, on the supposition that this was a heavenly vision, it is clear that it was intended to designate some one in whom the complete fulfillment was to be found. Now, admitting that this was a heavenly vision, and that it was intended to represent what would occur in future times, there are the clearest reasons for supposing that the Messiah was referred to; and indeed this is so plain, that it may be assumed as one of the indisputable things by which to determine the character and design of the prophecy. Among these reasons are the following:
(a) The name itself, as a name assumed by the Lord Jesus - the favorite name by which he chose to designate himself when on the earth. This name he used technically; he used it as one that would be understood to denote the Messiah; he used it as if it needed no explanation as having a reference to the Messiah. But this usage could have been derived only from this passage in Daniel, for there is no other place in the Old Testament where the name could refer with propriety to the Messiah, or would be understood to be applicable to him.
(b) This interpretation has been given to it by the Jewish writers in general, in all ages. I refer to this, not to say that their explanation is authoritative, but to show that it is the natural and obvious meaning; and because, as we shall see, it is what has given shape and form to the language of the New Testament, and is fully sanctioned there. Thus, in the ancient book of Zohar it is said, "In the times of the Messiah, Israel shall be one people to the Lord, and he shall make them one nation in the earth, and they shall rule above and below; as it is written, "Behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven;" this is the King Messiah, of whom it is written, And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, etc." So in the Talmud, and so the majority of the ancient Jewish rabbis. See Gill, Com. in loc. It is true that this interpretation has not been uniform among the Jewish rabbis, but still it has prevailed among them, as it has among Christian interpreters.
(c) A sanction seems to be given to this interpretation by the adoption of the title "Son of man" by the Lord Jesus, as that by which he chose to designate himself. That title was such as would constantly suggest this place in Daniel as referring to himself, and especially as he connected with it the declaration that "the Son of man would come in the clouds of heaven, etc." It was hardly possible that he should use the title in such a connection without suggesting this place in Daniel, or without leaving the impression on the minds of his hearers that he meant to be understood as applying this to himself.
(d) It may be added, that it cannot with propriety be applied to any other. Porphyry, indeed, supposed that Judas Maccabeus was intended; Grotius that it referred to the Roman people; Aben Ezra to the people of Israel; and Cocceius to the people of the Most High (Gill); but all these are unnatural interpretations, and are contrary to what one would obtain by allowing the language of the New Testament to influence his mind. The title - so often used by the Saviour himself; the attending circumstances of the clouds of heaven; the place which the vision occupies - so immediately preceding the setting up of the kingdom of the saints; and the fact that that kingdom can be set up only under the Messiah, all point to him as the personage represented in the vision.
(3) But if it refers to the Messiah, the next inquiry is, What is to be regarded as the proper fulfillment of the vision? To what precisely does it relate? Are we to suppose that there will be a literal appearing of the Son of man - the Messiah - in the clouds of heaven, and a passing over of the kingdom in a public and solemn manner into the hands of the saints? In reply to these questions, it may be remarked
(a) that this cannot be understood as relating to the last judgment, for it is not introduced with reference to at all. The "Son of man" is not here represented as coming with a view to judge the world at the winding-up of human affairs, but for the purpose of setting up a kingdom, or procuring a kingdom for his saints. There is no assembling of the people of the world together; no act of judging the righteous and the wicked; no pronouncing of a sentence on either. It is evident that the world is to continue much longer under the dominion of the saints.
(b) It is not to be taken literally; that is, we are not, from this passage, to expect a literal appearance of the of man in the clouds of heaven, preparatory to the setting up of the kingdom of the saints. For if one portion is to be taken literally, there is no reason why all should not be. Then we are to expect, not merely the appearing of the Son of man in the clouds, but also the following things, as a part of the fulfillment of the vision, to wit: the literal placing of a throne, or seat; the literal streaming forth of flame from his throne; the literal appearing of the "Ancient of days," with a garment of white, and hair as wool; a literal approach of the Son of man to him as seated on his throne to ask of him a kingdom, etc. But no one can believe that all this is to occur; no one does believe that it will.
(c) The proper interpretation is to regard this, as it was seen by Daniel, as a vision - a representation of a state of things in the world as if what is here described would occur. That is, great events were to take place, of which this would be a proper symbolic representation - or as if the Son of man, the Messiah, would thus appear; would approach the "Ancient of days;" would receive a kingdom, and would make it over to the saints. Now, there is no real difficulty in understanding what is here meant to be taught, and what we are to expect; and these points of fact are the following, namely,:
And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
And there was given him dominion - That is, by him who is represented as the "Ancient of days." The fair interpretation of this is, that he received the dominion from him. This is the uniform representation in the New Testament. Compare Matthew 28:18; John 3:35; 1 Corinthians 15:27. The word dominion here means rule or auhority - such as a prince exercises. He was set over a kingdom as a prince or ruler.
And glory - That is the glory or honor appropriate to one at the head of such an empire.
And a kingdom - That is, he would reign. He would have sovereignty. The nature and the extent of this kingdom is immediately designated as one that would be universal and perpetual. What is properly implied in this language as to the question whether it will be literal and visible, will be appropriately considered at the close of the verse. All that is necessary to be noticed here is, that it is everywhere promised in the Old Testament that the Messiah would be a king, and have a kingdom. Compare Psalm 2:1-12; Isaiah 9:6-7.
That all people, nations, and languages should serve him - It would be universal; would embrace all nations. The language here is such as would emphatically denote universality. See the notes at Daniel 3:4; Daniel 4:1. It implies that that kingdom would extend over all the nations of the earth, and we are to look for the fulfillment of this only in such a universal reign of the Messiah.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion ... - The others, represented by the four beasts, would all pass away, but this would be permanent and eternal. Nothing would destroy it. It would not have, as most kingdoms of the earth have had, any such internal weakness or source of discord as would be the cause of its destruction, nor would there be any external power that would invade or overthrow it. This declaration affirms nothing as to the form in which the kingdom would exist, but merely asserts the fact that it would do so. Respecting the kingdom of the Messiah, to which this undoubtedly alludes, the same thing is repeatedly and uniformly affirmed in the New Testament. Compare Matthew 16:18; Hebrews 12:28; Revelation 11:15. The form and manner in which this will occur is more fully developed in the New Testament; in the vision seen by Daniel the fact only is stated.
The question now arises, What would be a fulfillment of this prediction respecting the kingdom that will be given to the saints? What, from the language used in the vision, should we be legitimately authorized to expect to take place on the earth? In regard to these questions, there are but two views which can be taken, and the interpretation of the passage must sustain the one or the other.
(a) One is what supposes that this will be literally fulfilled in the sense that the Son of God, the Messiah, will reign personally on earth. According to this, he will come to set up a visible and glorious kingdom, making Jerusalem his capital, and swaying his scepter over the world. All nations and people will be subject to him; all authority will be wielded by his people under him.
(b) According to the other view, there will be a spiritual reign of the Son of God over the earth; that is, the principles of his religion will everywhere prevail, and the righteous will rule, and the laws of the Redeemer will be obeyed everywhere. There will be such a prevalence of his gospel on the hearts of all - rulers and people; the gospel will so modify all laws, and control all customs, and remove all abuses, and all the forms of evil; men will be so generally under the influence of that gospel, that it may be said that He reigns on the earth, or that the government actually administered is his.
In regard to these different views, and to the true interpretation of the passage, it may be remarked,
(1) That we are not to look for the literal fulfillment of this; we are not to expect that what is here described will literally occur. The whole is evidently a symbolic representation, and the fulfillment is to be found in something that the symbol would properly denote. No one can pretend that there is to be an actual sitting on the throne, by one in the form of an old man - "the Ancient of days" - or that there is to be a literal coming to him by one "like the Son of man," to receive a kingdom. But if one part of the representation is not to be literally interpreted, why should the other be? It may be added, that it is nowhere said that this would literally occur.
(2) All that is fairly implied here is found in the latter interpretation. Such a prevalence of the principles of the gospel would meet the force of the language, and every part of the vision would find a real fulfillment in that.
(a) The fact that it proceeds from God - represented as "the Ancient of days."
(b) The fact that it is given by him, or that the kingdom is made over by him to the Messiah.
(c) The fact that the Messiah would have such a kingdom; that is, that he would reign on the earth, in the hearts and lives of men.
I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.
I Daniel was grieved in my spirit - That is, I was troubled; or my heart was made heavy and sad. This was probably in part because he did not fully understand the meaning of the vision, and partly on account of the fearful and momentous nature of what was indicated by it. So the apostle John Rev 5:4 says, "And I wept much because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book."
In the midst of my body - Margin, as in the Chaldee, sheath. The body is undoubtedly referred to, and is so called as the envelope of the mind - or as that in which the soul is inserted, as the sword is in the sheath, and from which it is drawn out by death. The same metaphor is employed by Pliny: Donec cremato co inimici remeanti animae velut vaginam ademerint. So, too, a certain philosopher, who was slighted by Alexander the Great on account of his ugly face, is said to have replied, Corpus hominis nil est nisi vagina gladii in qua anima reconditur. - Gesenius. Compare Lengerke, in loc. See also Job 27:8, "When God taketh away his soul;" or rather draws out his soul, as a sword is drawn out of the sheath. Compare the note at that place. See also Buxtorf's Lexicon Tal. p. 1307. The meaning here is plain - that Daniel felt sad and troubled in mind, and that this produced a sensible effect on his body.
And the visions of my head troubled me - The head is here regarded as the seat of the intellect, and he speaks of these visions as if they were seen by the head. That is, they seemed to pass before his eyes.
I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.
I came near unto one of them that stood by - That is, to one of the angels who appeared to stand near the throne. Daniel 7:10. Compare Daniel 8:13; Zechariah 4:4-5; Revelation 7:13. It was natural for Daniel to suppose that the angels who were seen encircling the throne would be able to give him information on the subject, and the answers which Daniel received show that he was not mistaken in his expectation. God has often employed angels to communicate important truths to men, or has made them the medium of communicating his will. Compare Revelation 1:1; Acts 7:53; Hebrews 2:2.
So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things - He explained the meaning of the symbols, so that Daniel understood them. It would seem probable that Daniel has not recorded all that the angel communicated respecting the vision, but he has preserved so much that we may understand its general signification.
These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.
These great beasts, which are four, are four kings - Four kings or four dynasties. There is no reason for supposing that they refer to individual kings, but the obvious meaning is, that they refer to four dominions or empires that would succeed one another on the earth. So the whole representation leads us to suppose, and so the passage has been always interpreted. The Latin Vulgate renders it regna; the Septuagint βασιλεῖαι basileiai; Luther, Reiche; Lengerke, Konigreiche. This interpretation is confirmed, also, by Daniel 7:23, where it is expressly said that "the fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth." See also Daniel 7:24.
Which shall arise out of the earth - In Daniel 7:2 the beasts are represented as coming up from the sea - the emblem of agitated nations. Here the same idea is presented more literally - that they would seem to spring up out of the earth, thus thrown into wild commotion. These dynasties were to be upon the earth, and they were in all things to indicate their earthly origin. Perhaps, also, it is designed by these words to denote a marked contrast between these four dynasties and the one that would follow - which would be of heavenly origin. This was the general intimation which was given to the meaning of the vision, and he was satisfied at once as to the explanation, so far as the first three were concerned; but the fourth seemed to indicate more mysterious and important events, and respecting this he was induced to ask a more particular explanation.
But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.
But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom - That is, they shall ultimately take possession of the rule over all the world, and shall control it from that time onward to the end. This is the grand thing which the vision is designed to disclose, and on this it was evidently the intention to fix the mind. Everything before was preparatory and subordinate to this, and to this all things tended. The phrase rendered the Most High - in the margin "high ones, i. e., things or places" - עליונין ‛eleyônı̂yn - is in the plural number, and means literally high ones; but there can be no doubt that it refers here to God, and is given to Him as the word אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym is (Genesis 1:1, et saepe), to denote majesty or honor - pluralis excellentice. The word rendered saints means the holy, and the reference is undoubtedly to the people of God on the earth, meaning here that they would take possession of the kingdom, or that they would rule. When true religion shall everywhere prevail, and when all offices shall be in the hands of good men - of men that fear God and that keep his commandments - instead of being in the hands of bad men, as they generally have been, then this prediction will be accomplished in respect to all that is fairly implied in it.
And possess the kingdom for ever, even forever and ever - This is a strong and emphatic declaration, affirming that this dominion will be perpetual. It will not pass away, like the other kingdoms, to be succeeded by another one. What is here affirmed, as above remarked, will be true if such a reign should continue on earth to the winding up of all things, and should then be succeeded by an eternal reign of holiness in the heavens. It is not necessary to interpret this as meaning that there would be literally an eternal kingdom on this earth, for it is everywhere taught in the Scriptures that the present order of things will come to a close. But it does seem necessary to understand this as teaching that there will be a state of prevalent righteousness on the earth hereafter, and that when that is introduced it will continue to the end of time.
Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet;
Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast - I desired to know particularly what was symbolized by that. He appears to have been satisfied with the most general intimations in regard to the first three beasts, for the kingdoms represented by them seemed to have nothing very remarkable. But it was different in regard to the fourth. The beast itself was so remarkable - so fierce and terrific; the number of the horns was so great; the springing up of the little horn was so surprising; the character of that horn was so unusual; the judgment passed on it was so solemn; and the vision of one like the Son of man coming to take possession of the kingdom - all these things were of so fearful and so uncommon a character, that the mind of Daniel was peculiarly affected in view of them, and he sought earnestly for a further explanation. In the description that Daniel here gives of the beast and the horns, he refers in the main to the same cirumstances which he had before described; but he adds a few which he had before omitted, all tending to impress the mind more deeply with the fearful character and the momentous import of the vision; as, for instance, the fact that it had nails of brass, and made war with the saints.
Which was diverse from all the others - Different in its form and character; - so different as to attract particular attention, and to leave the impression that something very peculiar and remarkable was denoted by it. Notes, Daniel 7:7.
Exceeding dreadful - Notes, Daniel 7:7.
And his nails of brass - This circumstance is not mentioned in the first statement, Daniel 7:7. It accords well with the other part of the description, that his teeth were of iron, and is designed to denote the fearful and terrific character of tho kingdom, symbolized by the beast.
Which devoured ... - See the notes at Daniel 7:7.
And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.
And of the ten horns ... - See the notes at Daniel 7:7-8.
Whose look was more stout than his fellows - literally, "whose aspect was greater than that of its companions." This does not mean that its look or aspect was more fierce or severe than that of the others, but that the appearance of the horn was greater - רב rab. In Daniel 7:8, this is described as a "little horn;" and to understand this, and reconcile the two, we must suppose that the seer watched this as it grew until it became the largest of the number. Three fell before it, and it outgrew in size all the others until it became the most prominent. This would clearly denote that the kingdom or the authority referred to by this eleventh horn would be more distinct and prominent than either of the others - would become so conspicuous and important as in fact to concentrate and embody all the power of the beast.
I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;
I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints - I continued to look on this until I saw war made by this horn with the people of God. This circumstance, also, is not referred to in the first description, and the order of time in the description would seem to imply that the war with the saints would be at a considerable period after the first appearance of the horn, or would be only when it had grown to its great size and power. This "war" might refer to open hostilities, carried on in the usual manner of war; or to persecution, or to any invasion of the rights and privileges of others. As it is a "war with the saints," it would be most natural to refer it to persecution.
And prevailed against them - That is, he overcame and subdued them, he was stronger than they were, and they were not able to resist him. The same events are evidently referred to and in almost similar language - borrowed probably from Daniel - in Revelation 13:5-7 : "And there was given him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them; and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations."
Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.
Until the Ancient of days came - Notes, Daniel 7:9. That is, this was to occur after the horn grew to its full size, and after the war was made with the saints, and they had been overcome. It does not affirm that this would occur immediately, but that at some subsequent period the Ancient of days would come, and would set up a kingdom on the earth, or would make over the kingdom to the saints. There would be as real a transfer and as actual a setting up of a peculiar kingdom, as if God himself should appear on the earth, and should publicly make over the dominion to them.
And judgment was given to the saints of the Most High - That is, there was a solemn act of judgement in the case by which the kingdom was given to their hands. It was as real a transfer as if there had been a judgment pronounced on the beast, and he had been condemned and overthrown, and as if the dominion which he once had should be made over to the servants of the Most High.
And the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom - That they ruled on the earth; that good men made and administered the laws; that the principles of religion prevailed, influencing the hearts of all men, and causing righteousness and justice to be done. The universal prevalence of true religion, in controlling the hearts and lives of men, and disposing them to do what in all circumstances ought to be done, would be a complete fulfillment of all that is here said. Thus far the description of what Daniel saw, of which he was so desirous to obtain an explanation. The explanation follows, and embraces the remainder of the chapter.
Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.
Thus he said ... - That is, in explanation of the fourth symbol which appeared - the fourth beast, and of the events connected with his appearing. This explanation embraces the remainder of the chapter; and as the whole subject appeared difficult and momentous to Daniel before the explanation, so it may be said to be in many respects difficult, and in all respects momentous still. It is a question on which expositors of the Scriptures are by no means agreed, to what it refers, and whether it has been already accomplished, or whether it extends still into the future; and it is of importance, therefore, to determine, if possible, what is its true meaning. The two points of inquiry which are properly before us are, first, What do the words of explanation as used by the angel fairly imply - that is, what, according to the fair interpretation of these words, would be the course of events referred to, or what should we naturally expect to find as actually occurring on the earth in the fulfillment of this? and, secondly, To what events the prophecy is actually to be applied - whether to what has already occurred, or what is yet to occur; whether we can find anything in what is now past which would be an accomplishment of this, or whether it is to be applied to events a part of which are yet future? This will lead us into a statement of the points which it is affirmed would occur in regard to this kingdom: and then into an inquiry respecting the application.
What is fairly implied in the explanation of the angel? This would embrace the following points:
(1) There was to be a fourth kingdom on the earth: "the fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth," Daniel 7:23. This was to succeed the other three, symbolized by the lion, the bear, and the leopard. No further reference is made to them, but the characteristics of this are fully stated. Those characteristics, which have been explained in the notes at Daniel 7:7, are, as here repeated,
(a) that it would be in important respects different from the others;
(b) that it would devour, or subdue the whole earth;
(c) that it would tread it down and break it in pieces; that is, it would be a universal dynasty, of a fierce and warlike character, that would keep the whole world subdued and subject by power.
(2) out of this sovereignty or dominion, ten powers would arise Daniel 7:24 : "and the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise." Compare the notes at Daniel 7:7. That is, they would spring out of this one dominion, or it would be broken up into these minor sovereignties, yet all manifestly springing from the one kingdom, and wielding the same power. We should not naturally look for the fulfillment of this in a succession of kings, for that would have been symbolized by the beast itself representing the entire dominion or dynasty, but rather to a number of contemporaneous powers that had somehow sprung out of the one power, or that now possessed and wielded the power of that one dominion. If the kingdom here referred to should be broken up into such a number of powers, or if in any way these powers became possessed of this authority, and wielded it, such a fact would express what we are to expect to find in this kingdom.
(3) From the midst of these sovereignties or kingdoms there was to spring up another one of peculiar characteristics, Daniel 7:24-25. These characteristics are the following:
(a) That it would spring out of the others, or be, as it were, one form of the administration of the same power - as the eleventh horn sprang from the same source as the ten, and we are, therefore, to look for the exercise of this power somehow in connection with the same kingdom or dynasty.
(b) This would not spring up contemporaneously with the ten, but would arise "after them" - and we are to look for the power as in some sense succeeding them.
(c) It would be small at first - as was the horn Daniel 7:8, and we are to look for the fulfillment in some power that would be feeble at first.
(d) It would grow to be a mighty power for the little horn became so powerful as to pluck up three of the others Daniel 7:8, and it is said in the explanation Daniel 7:24, that he would subdue three of the kings.
(e) It would subdue "three kings;" that is, three of the ten, and we are to look for the fulfillment in some manifestation of that power by which, either literally three of them were overthrown, or by which about one-third of their power was taken away. The mention of the exact number of "three," however, would rather seem to imply that we are to expect some such exact fulfillment, or some prostration of three sovereignties by the new power that would arise.
(f) It would be proud, and ambitious, and particularly arrogant against God: "and he shall speak great words against the Most High," Daniel 7:25. The Chaldee here rendered against - לצד letsad - means, literally, at, or against the part of it, and then against. Vulgate contra; Greek πρὸς pros. This would be fulfilled in one who would blaspheme God directly; or who would be rebellious against his government and authority; or who would complain of his administration and laws; or who would give utterance to harsh and reproachful words against his real claims. It would find a fulfillment obviously in an open opposer of the claims and the authority of the true God; or in one the whole spirit and bearing of whose pretensions might be fairly construed as in fact an utterance of great words against him.
And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.
And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.
And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.
Hitherto is the end of the matter - That is, the end of what I saw and heard. This is the sum of what was disclosed to the prophet, but he still says that he meditated on it with profound interest, and that he had much solicitude in regard to these great events. The words rendered hitherto, mean, so far, or thus far. The phrase "end of the matter," means "the close of the saying a thing;" that is, this was all the revelation which was made to him, and he was left to his own meditations respecting it.
As for me Daniel - So far as I was concerned; or so far as this had any effect on me. It was not unnatural, at the close of this remarkable vision, to state the effect that it had on himself.
My cogitations much troubled me - My thoughts in regard to it. It was a subject which he could not avoid reflecting on, and which could not but produce deep solicitude in regard to the events which were to occur. Who could look into the future without anxious and agitating thought? These events were such as to engage the profoundest attention; such as to fix the mind in solemn thought. Compare the notes at Revelation 5:4.
And my countenance changed in me - The effect of these revelations depicted themselves on my countenance. The prophet does not say in what way - whether by making him pale, or careworn, or anxious, but merely that it produced a change in his appearance. The Chaldee is "brightness" - זיו zı̂yv - and the meaning would seem to be, that his bright and cheerful countenance was changed; that is, that his bright looks were changed; either by becoming pale (Gesenius, Lengerke), or by becoming serious and thoughtful.
But I kept the matter in my heart - I communicated to no one the cause of my deep and anxious thoughts. He hid the whole subject in his own mind, until he thought proper to make this record of what he had seen and heard. Perhaps there was no one to whom he could communicate the matter who would credit it; perhaps there was no one at court who would sympathize with him; perhaps he thought that it might savor of vanity if it were known; perhaps he felt that as no one could throw any new light on the subject, there would be no use in making it a subject of conversation; perhaps he felt so overpowered that he could not readily converse on it.
We are prepared now, having gone through with an exposition of this chapter, as to the meaning of the symbols, the words, and the phrases, to endeavor to ascertain what events are referred to in this remarkable prophecy, and to ask what events it was designed should be pourtrayed. And in reference to this there are but two opinions, or two classes of interpretations, that require notice: what refers it primarily and exclusively to Antiochus Epiphanes, and what refers it to the rise and character of the Papal power; what regards the fourth beast as referring to the empire of Alexander, and the little horn to Antiochus, and what regards the fourth beast as referring to the Roman empire, and the little horn to the Papal dominion. In inquiring which of these is the true interpretation, it will be proper, first, to consider whether it is applicable to Antiochus Epiphanes; secondly, whether it in fact finds a fulfillment in the Roman empire and the Papacy; and, thirdly, if such is the proper application, what are we to look for in the future in what remains unfulfilled in regard to the prophecy.
I. The question whether it is applicable to the case of Antiochus Epiphanes. A large class of interpreters, of the most respectable character, among whom are Lengerke, Maurer, Prof. Stuart (Hints on the Interpretation of Prophecy, p. 86, following; also Com. on Daniel, pp. 205-211), Eichhorn, Bertholdt, Bleek, and many others, suppose that the allusion to Antiochus is clear, and that the primary, if not the exclusive, reference to the prophecy is to him. Professor Stuart (Hints, p. 86) says, "The passage in Daniel 7:25 is so clear as to leave no reasonable room for doubt." "In Daniel 7:8, Daniel 7:20, Daniel 7:24, the rise of Antiochus Epiphanes is described; for the fourth beast is, beyond all reasonable doubt, the divided Grecian dominion which succeeded the reign of Alexander the Great. From this dynasty springs Antiochus, Daniel 7:8, Daniel 7:20, who is most graphically described in Daniel 7:25 'as one who shall speak great words against the most High,' etc."
The facts in regard to Antiochus, so far as they are necessary to be known in the inquiry, are briefly these: Antiochus Epiphanes (the Illustrios, a name taken on himself, Prideaux, iii. 213), was the son of Antiochus the Great, but succeeded his brother, Seleucus Philopator, who died 176 b.c. Antiochus reigned over Syria, the capital of which was Antioch, on the Oronres, from 176 b.c. to 164 b.c. His character, as that of a cruel tyrant, and a most bloodthirsty and bitter enemy of the Jews, is fully detailed in the first and second book of Maccabees. Compare also Prideaux, Con. vol. iii.-213-234. The facts in the case of Antiochus, so far as they are supposed to bear on the application of the prophecy before us, are thus stated by Prof. Stuart (Hints on the Interpretation of Prophecy, pp. 89, 90): "In the year 168 before Christ, in the month of May, Antiochus Epiphanes was on his way to attack Egypt, and he detached Apollonius, one of his military confidants, with 22,000 soldiers, in order to subdue and plunder Jerusalem. The mission was executed with entire success. A horrible slaughter was made of the men at Jerusalem, and a large portion of the women and children, being made captives, were sold and treated as slaves. The services of the temple were interrupted, and its joyful feasts were turned into mourning, 1 Macc. 1:37-39. Soon after this the Jews in general were compelled to eat swine's flesh, and to sacrifice to idols. In December of that same year, the temple was profaned by introducing the statue of Jupiter Olympius; and on the 25th of that month sacrifices were offered to that idol on the altar of Jehovah. Just three years after this last event, namely, December 25, 165 b.c., the temple was expurgated by Judas Maccabeus, and the worship of Jehovah restored.
Thus, three years and a half, or almost exactly this period, passed away, while Antiochus had complete possession and control of everything in and around Jerusalem and the temple. It may be noted, also, that just three years passed, from the time when the profanation of the temple was carried to its greatest height - namely, by sacrificing to the statue of Jupiter Olympius on the altar of Jehovah, down to the time when Judas renewed the regular worship. I mention this last circumstance in order to account for the three years of Antiochus' profanations, which are named as the period of them in Joseptus, Ant. xii. 7, Section 6. This period tallies exactly with the time during which the profanation as consummated was carried on, if we reckon down to the period when the temple worship was restored by Judas Maceabeus. But in Prooem. ad Bell. Jud. Section 7, and Bell. Jude 1. 1, Section 1, Josephus reckons three years and a half as the period during which Antiochus ravaged Jerusalem and Judea."
In regard to this statement, while the general facts are correct, there are some additional statements which should be made, to determine as to its real bearing on the case. The act of detaching Apollonius to attack Jerusalem was not, as is stated in this extract, when Antiochus was on his way to Egypt, but was on his return from Egypt, and was just two years after Jerusalem had been taken by Antiochus. - Prideaux, iii. 239. The occasion of his detaching Apollonius, was that Antiochus was enraged because he had been defeated in Egypt by the Romans, and resolved to vent all his wrath upon the Jews, who at that time had given him no particular offence. When, two years before, Antiochus had himself taken Jerusalem, he killed forty thousand persons; he took as many captives, and sold them for slaves; he forced himself into the temple, and entered the most holy place; he caused a great sow to be offered on the altar of burnt-offering, to show his contempt for the temple and the Jewish religion; he sprinkled the broth over every part of the temple for the purpose of polluting it; he plundered the temple of the altar of incense, the showbread table, and the golden candlestick, and then returned to Antioch, having appointed Philip, a Phrygian, a man of a cruel and barbarous temper, to be governor of the Jews. - Prideaux, iii.231.
When Apollonius again attacked the city, two years afterward, he waited quietly until the Sabbath, and then made his assault. He filled the city with blood, set it on fire, demolished the houses, pulled down the walls, built a strong fortress over against the temple, from which the garrison could fall on all who should attempt to go to worship. From this time, "the temple became deserted, and the daily sacrifices were omitted," until the service was restored by Judas Maccabeus, three years and a half after. The time during which this continued was, in fact, just three years and a half, until Judas MaccaUcus succeeded in expelling the pagan from the temple and from Jerusalem, when the temple was purified, and was solemnly reconsecrated to the worship of God. See Prideaux, Con. iii. 240, 241, and the authorities there cited.
Now, in reference to this interpretation, supposing that the prophecy relates to Antiochus, it must be admitted that there are coincidences which are remarkable, and it is on the ground of these coincidences that the prophecy has been applied to him. These circumstances are such as the following:
(a) The general character of the authority that would exist as denoted by the "little horn," as that of severity and cruelty. None could be better fitted to represent that than the character of Antiochus Epiptianes. Compare Prideaux, Con. iii. 213, 214.