|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:1-14 God gives Daniel a foresight of the destruction of other kingdoms, which in their day were as powerful as that of Babylon. Could we foresee the changes that shall be when we are gone, we should be less affected with changes in our own day. The ram with two horns was the second empire, that of Media and Persia. He saw this ram overcome by a he-goat. This was Alexander the Great. Alexander, when about thirty-three years of age, and in his full strength, died, and showed the vanity of worldly pomp and power, and that they cannot make a man happy. While men dispute, as in the case of Alexander, respecting the death of some prosperous warrior, it is plain that the great First Cause of all had no more of his plan for him to execute, and therefore cut him off. Instead of that one great horn, there came up four notable ones, Alexander's four chief captains. A little horn became a great persecutor of the church and people of God. It seems that the Mohammedan delusion is here pointed out. It prospered, and at one time nearly destroyed the holy religion God's right hand had planted. It is just with God to deprive those of the privileges of his house who despise and profane them; and to make those know the worth of ordinances by the want of them, who would not know it by the enjoyment of them. Daniel heard the time of this calamity limited and determined; but not the time when it should come. If we would know the mind of God, we must apply to Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; not hid from us, but hid for us. There is much difficulty as to the precise time here stated, but the end of it cannot be very distant. God will, for his own glory, see to the cleansing of the church in due time. Christ died to cleanse his church; and he will so cleanse it as to present it blameless to himself.
Verses 1-27. - THE RAM AND THE HE-GOAT This chapter marks the change from Aramaic to Hebrew. The character of the chapter is like that which immediately precedes it. It consists, like it, of the account of a vision, and the interpretation of it. The subject of this vision is the overthrow of the Persian monarchy by Alexander the Great, the division of his empire, and the oppression of Israel by Epiphanes. Verse 1. - In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel, after that which appeared unto me at the first. The text of the Septuagint does not differ greatly from the Hebrew, but avoids the strange anarthrous position of anu, "I." The Septuagint renders this verse as a title to the chapter, thus: "A vision which I Daniel saw in the third year of the reign of Belshazzar (Beltasar), after that I saw formerly (πρώτην)." The Septuagint reading seems to have been asher r'oeh anee. Theodotion and the Peshitta are in verbal agreement with the Massoretic text. The third year of the reign of King Belshazzar. We learn now that Belshazzar did not reign independently; but that for at least five years he exercised all the functions of government. If Daniel's investiture with the position of third man in the kingdom took place on the occasion of Belshazzar's inauguration of his vice-regal reign, Daniel may have remained in the royal service continuously till the overthrow of the Babylonian monarchy. After that which appeared ,into me at the first. The former vision referred to is clearly the vision of the preceding chapter.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar,.... Which some say (t) was the last year of his reign; but, according to Ptolemy's canon, he reigned seventeen years; and so says Josephus (u); however, this, as well as the preceding vision, were seen before what happened recorded in the "fifth" and "sixth" chapters. The following vision was seen by Daniel, according to Bishop Usher (w) and Dean Prideaux (x) in the year of the world 3451 A.M., and 553 B.C. Mr. Bedford (y) places it in 552 B.C.; and Mr. Whiston (z), very wrongly, in 537 B.C., two years after the death of Belshazzar. The prophet having, in the preceding chapters, related what concerned the Chaldeans, he wrote in the Chaldee language; but now, henceforward, writing of things which concerned the Jews more especially, and the church and people of God in later times, he writes in the Hebrew tongue.
A vision appeared unto me, even to me Daniel; and not another; which is said for the certainty of it; whether it was seen by him waking, or in a dream, as the former vision, is not certain; it seems rather as if he was awake at first, though he afterwards fell prostrate to the ground, and into a deep sleep; yet the Syriac version takes it to be a dream, and so renders the first clause of the next verse: "after that which appeared to me at the first"; at the beginning of Belshazzar's reign, in the first year of it, recorded in the preceding chapter; which was concerning the four monarchies in general, and particularly concerning the fourth or Roman monarchy, of which a large account is given; and the Chaldean monarchy being near at an end, here the two monarchies between, namely, the Persian and Grecian, are in this vision described.
(t) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 28. p. 81. (u) Antiqu. l. 10. c. 11. sect. 4. (w) Annales Vet. Test. A. M. 3451. (x) Connexion, &c part 1. p. 117. (y) Scripture Chronlogy, p. 710. (z) Chronological Tables, cent. 10.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Da 8:1-27. Vision of the Ram and He-Goat: The Twenty-three Hundred Days of the Sanctuary Being Trodden Down.
With this chapter the Hebrew part of the book begins and continues to be the language of the remainder; the visions relating wholly to the Jews and Jerusalem. The scene here narrows from world-wide prophecies to those affecting the one covenant-people in the five centuries between the exile and the advent. Antichrist, like Christ, has a more immediate future, as well as one more remote. The vision, the eighth chapter, begins, and that, the tenth through twelfth chapters, concludes, the account of the Antichrist of the third kingdom. Between the two visions the ninth chapter is inserted, as to Messiah and the covenant-people at the end of the half millennium (seventy weeks of years).
1. vision—a higher kind of revelation than a dream.
after that … at the first—that in Da 7:1.
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