Daniel 7
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

The second part of the book, describing the four visions seen by Daniel in the reigns of Belshazzar (ch. 7, 8), Darius the Mede (ch. 9), and Cyrus (ch. 10–12).


A vision, seen by Daniel in a dream, in the first year of Belshazzar. The vision was of four beasts emerging from the agitated sea, a lion with eagle’s wings, a bear, a leopard with four wings and four heads, and a fourth beast, with powerful iron teeth, destroying all things, and with ten horns, among which another ‘little horn’ sprang up, ‘speaking proud things,’ before which three of the other horns were rooted up (Daniel 7:1-8). Hereupon a celestial assize is held: the Almighty appears, seated on a throne of flame, and surrounded by myriads of attendants; the beast whose horn spake proud things is slain; and a figure in human form comes with the clouds of heaven into the presence of the Divine Judge, and receives from Him a universal and never-ending dominion (Daniel 7:9-14). After this, the vision is interpreted to Daniel: the four beasts are explained to signify four kingdoms; and after the destruction of the fourth, the ‘people of the saints of the Most High’ will receive the dominion of the entire earth (Daniel 7:15-28).

The vision is parallel to the dream of Nebuchadnezzar in ch. 2; and the kingdoms symbolized by the four beasts are generally allowed to be the same as those symbolized by the four parts of the image which Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream. The animal symbolism of the vision is an extension of that found in some of the later prophets, as Ezekiel 17:3; Ezekiel 19:1-9; Ezekiel 29:3-5; Ezekiel 32:2-6; Isaiah 27:1.

Additional Note on the Four Empires of Daniel 2, 7

It is generally agreed that the four empires represented by the composite image in ch. 2 are the same as those represented by the four beasts in ch. 7: there is also no doubt that the first empire in ch. 7 is the same as the first empire in ch. 2, which is expressly stated in Daniel 2:38 to be that of Nebuchadnezzar, and that the kingdom which is to succeed the fourth is in both chapters the kingdom of God: but the identification of the second, third, and fourth empires in the two chapters has been the subject of much controversy. It is also further a question, to which different answers have been given, whether the same three kingdoms in these two chapters are or are not identical with those denoted by the two horns of the ram, and by the he-goat in Daniel 8:3-5, i.e. (as is expressly explained in Daniel 8:20-21), with the kingdoms of Media, Persia, and Greece. The following tabular synopsis (based upon that of Zündel) of the two principal interpretations that have been adopted, will probably assist the reader in judging between them.


Ch. 2.


  Ch. 7.


  Ch. 8.



Golden head


  Lion with eagle’s wings




  Babyl. empire

Silver breast and arms


  Bear with three ribs in mouth


  Ram with two unequal horns



Bronze belly and thighs


  Leopard with four wings


  Goat with one horn, followed by four horns, out of one of which came a little horn


  Grecian (Alexander and his successors)

Iron legs, feet and toes partly iron partly clay


  Beast with iron teeth, and ten horns, among which came up one little horn






Golden head


  Lion with eagle’s wings




  Babyl. empire

Silver breast and arms


  Bear with three ribs in mouth


  First and shorter horn of ram



Bronze belly and thighs


  Leopard with four wings


  Second and longer horn of ram



Iron legs, feet and toes partly iron partly clay


  Beast with iron teeth, and ten horns, among which came up one little horn


  Goat with one horn, followed by four horns out of one of which came a little horn


  Grecian (Alexander and his successors)

The difference between the two interpretations comes out most markedly in the explanation given of the fourth empire: A, for convenience, may, therefore, be termed the Roman theory, and B the Grecian theory.

A. This interpretation is first found[273] in the apocryphal book of 2 Esdras (written probably under Domitian, a. d. 81–96), Daniel 12:11 f., where the eagle, which Ezra is supposed to see in his vision and which unquestionably represents the imperial power of Rome, is expressly identified with the fourth kingdom which appeared to Daniel: though (it is added) the meaning of that kingdom was not expounded to Daniel as it is expounded to Ezra now. The same view of the fourth kingdom is implied in Ep. Barnab. iv. 4–5 (c. 100–120 a.d.), where the writer, in proof that the time of trial, preceding the advent of the Son of God, is at hand, quotes the words from Daniel 7:7-8; Daniel 7:24, respecting the little horn abasing three of the ten horns[274]. Hippolytus (c. 220 a.d.) expounds Daniel 2, 7 at length in the same sense (ed. Lagarde, 1858, pp. 151 ff., 171 ff., 177 ff.). The same interpretation was also general among the Fathers; and it is met with likewise among Jewish authorities. Among modern writers, it has been advocated by Auberlen, Hengstenberg, Hofmann (Weissagung und Erfüllung, 1841, p. 276 ff.), Keil, Dr Pusey, and others.

[273] It is implied also (apparently) in Joseph. Ant. x. xi. 7.

[274] The writer seems to have understood by the ‘horns’ the Roman emperors: but there is great difficulty in determining precisely which are meant; see in Gebhardt and Harnack’s edition (1878), p. lxix f.

Upon this view, the fourth empire being the Roman, the ten toes, partly of iron and partly of clay, of the image in ch. 2, and the ten horns of the fourth beast in ch. 7, represent ten kingdoms, into which the Roman empire is supposed to have broken up, each retaining to a certain extent the strength of the Roman, but with-its stability greatly impaired by internal weakness and disunion[275]: the ‘mouth speaking great things,’ which is to arise after the ten kingdoms and to destroy three of them, being Antichrist, who is identified by some with the Papacy, and by others is supposed to be a figure still future.

[275] Cf. Hippolytus, p. 172, ‘The legs of iron are the Romans, being as strong as iron; then come the toes, partly of iron, partly of clay, in order to represent the democracies which are to arise afterwards’ (similarly, p. 152); p. 153, ‘the little horn growing up among the others is Antichrist.’

Thus Dr Rule[276] writes: ‘This little horn is too like the Papacy to be mistaken for anything else; and taking this for granted, as I believe we may venture to do, ten kingdoms must be found that came into existence previously to the establishment of the Pope’s temporal power in Italy.’ Accordingly the ten kingdoms enumerated by him are—

[276] An Historical Exposition of Daniel the Prophet, 1869, p. 195 ff.

1. The kingdom of the Vandals in Africa, established a.d. 439.

2. Venice, which became an independent state in a.d. 452, and long maintained an extremely important position in the affairs of Christendom.

3. England, which, properly so called, was founded in a.d. 455, and in spite of the Norman Conquest still retains her independence.

4. Spain, first Gothic, a.d. 476, then Saracenic, and still Spain.

5. France. Gaul, conquered by the Romans, lost to Rome under the Visigoths, and transferred to the Franks under Clovis, a.d. 483.

6. Lombardy, conquered by the Lombards, a.d. 568.

7. The exarchate of Ravenna, which became independent of Constantinople in 584, and flourished for long as an independent state.

8. Naples, subdued by the Normans about 1060.

9. Sicily, taken by the Normans under Count Roger about 1080.

10. Rome, which assumed independence under a Senate of its own in 1143, and maintained itself so till 1198. ‘The tumultuary revolution headed in Rome by Arnold of Brescia, tore away the ancient city from its imperial relations and brought the prophetic period of the ten kingdoms to its close.’

The ‘little horn diverse from the ten, having eyes and a mouth speaking very great things,’ is Pope Innocent III. (a.d. 1198–1216), who immediately after his consecration restored, as it was called, the patrimony of the Church, by assuming absolute sovereignty over the city and territory of Rome, and exacting of the Prefect of the city, in lieu of the oath of allegiance which he had hitherto sworn to the Emperor of Germany, an oath of fealty to himself, by which he bound himself to exercise in future the civil and military powers entrusted to him, solely in the interests of the Pope. ‘Here is the haughty speech, and here are the watchful eyes to survey the newly usurped dominion, and to spy out far beyond.’ Of the three ‘horns’ which fell before Innocent III. and his successors, the first was thus the Roman Senate and people, with the so-called patrimony of St Peter, in the year 1198; the other two were the two kingdoms of Naples and Sicily, which having in 1060 and 1080 fallen under the rule of the Dukes of Normandy, were afterwards offered by Urban IV. to the Duke of Anjou, to be held by him in subjection to the Church, with the result that ultimately, in 1266, ‘the two Sicilies,’ as they were afterwards called, fell under the subordinate rule of a branch of the house of Bourbon, and so remained until recent times. The war on the saints is referred to the Inquisition, organized by Innocent III. and carried on by his successors, and abetted ‘by every device of oppressive legislation, and artful diplomacy.’ ‘Concerning the change of times and laws, a few words will suffice. “He shall think to change times” by the substitution of an ecclesiastical calendar for the civil. He shall ordain festivals, appoint jubilees, and so enforce observance of such times and years as to set aside civil obligations, and even supersede the sanctification of the Lord’s days by the multiplication of saints’ days. With regard to laws he will enforce Canon Law in contempt of Statute Law, and sometimes in contradiction to the Law of God.’

Auberlen, on the other hand[277], points more generally to the many different ways in which the influence of Rome has perpetuated itself even in modern Europe. The various barbarian nations out of which have developed gradually the states of modern Europe, have, he observes, fallen largely under the spell of Roman civilization. ‘Roman culture, the Roman church, the Roman language, and Roman law have been the essential civilizing principles of the Germanic world. The Romance nations are a monument of the extent to which the influence of Rome has penetrated even into the blood of the new humanity: they are the products of the admixture “by the seed of men.” But they do not cohere together: the Roman element is ever re-acting against the Germanic. The struggles between Romans and Germans have been the determining factor of modern history: we need mention only the contests between the Emperor and the Pope, which stirred the Middle Ages, and the Reformation, with the consequences following from it, which have continued until the present day. The fourth empire has thus a genuine Roman tenacity and force; at the same time, since the Germans have appeared on the scene of history, and the iron has been mixed with the clay, it has been much divided and broken up, and its different constituent parts have shewn themselves to be unstable and fragile (Daniel 2:41-42). The Roman element strives ever after universal empire, the German element represents the principles of individualism and division.’ Hence the ever fresh attempts, whether on the part of the Pope, or of a secular prince, as Charlemagne, Charles V., Napoleon, and even the Czar, to realize anew the ideal of Roman unity. Against these attempts, however, the independent nationalities never cease to assert as persistently their individual rights. Politically and religiously, the Roman, the German, and the Slavonic nationalities stand opposed to one another: in the end, however, after many conflicts, they will resolve themselves into ten distinct kingdoms, out of one of which Antichrist—a kind of exaggerated, almost superhuman, Napoleon—will arise, and realise, on an unprecedented scale, until Providence strikes him down, the ‘dæmonic unity’ of an empire of the world.

[277] Der Prophet Daniel (1857), pp. 252–4.

So far as the mere symbolism of the vision goes, there is no objection to this interpretation. The kingdom which is to ‘tread down and break in pieces,’ with the strength of iron, ‘the whole earth’ (Daniel 7:23; cf. Daniel 7:7, Daniel 2:40) might well be the empire of the Romans, who by their military conquests subdued, one after another, practically all the nations of the then known world; and it has been contended, not without some show of plausibility, that the imagery of the second kingdom agrees better with the Medo-Persian than with the Persian empire: the bear, it is urged, with its slow and heavy gait would be the most suitable symbol of the Medo-Persian empire, of which ‘heaviness,’ as exemplified by the vast and unwieldy armies which its kings brought into the field[278], was the leading national characteristic, while the three ribs in its mouth are more naturally explained of three provinces absorbed by the empire of the Persians[279], than of any conquests made by the Medes. These explanations of the imagery, however, though they fall in with the interpretation in question, cannot be said to be so certain, upon independent grounds, as to require it: Alexander’s military successes were also such that he might be spoken of as subduing the whole earth; and we do not know that the suggested interpretation of the symbolism of the bear is really that which was in the mind of the writer of the chapter.

[278] Darius Hystaspis was said to have led 700,000 men into Scythia: Xerxes’ expedition against Greece numbered 2,500,000 fighting men; Darius Codomannus, at the fatal battle of Issus, commanded 600,000 men (Pusey, p. 71).

[279] Media, Assyria, and Babylonia (Hippolytus); Persia, Media, and Babylonia (Jerome, Ephr. Syr.); Lydia, Babylonia, and Egypt (Hofmann, Keil. Pusey, p. 70).

The great, and indeed fatal, objection to this interpretation is, however, that it does not agree with the history. The Roman empire, the empire which conquered and ruled so many nations of the ancient world[280],—whether it be regarded as coming to its close when in a.d. 476 Romulus Augustulus, at the bidding of Odoacer, resigned his power to the Emperor of the East, or whether that act be regarded merely as a transference of power from the West to the East, and its real close be placed, with Gibbon, at the capture of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453, or whether, lastly, it be held, with Bryce, to have prolonged a legal existence till in 1806 the Emperor Francis II resigned the imperial crown,—has passed from the stage of history; nor, whichever date be assigned for its close,—and, in the natural sense of the word, the ‘Roman empire’ ceased to exist at the first of these dates,—can any ‘ten’ kingdoms be pointed to, as in any sense arising out of it? The non-natural character of the ‘praeterist’ explanation of Dr Rule must be patent to the reader. ‘Futurist’ expositors suppose that the kingdoms represented by the ten horns are yet to appear[281]. But these kingdoms are to ‘arise out of’ the fourth empire (Daniel 2:24): clearly therefore the fourth empire must still exist when they appear; but the Roman empire is beyond controversy an empire of the past. Auberlen’s explanation, ingenious as it is, cannot be deemed satisfactory[282].

[280] ‘Empire’ is of course used here generally in the sense of ‘power’: at the time when many of these conquests were made, the Romans, as is well known, were under the rule of neither ‘emperors’ nor ‘kings.’

[281] Auberlen, as cited above; Keil, p. 224; Dr Pusey, p. 78 f.

[282] It is remarkable, if Daniel’s vision really extends so far as to embrace the history of Europe, that the first coming of Christ, and the influences wrought by Christianity, should he ignored in it. The explanation that Daniel, “being a statesman and an Israelite, saw nothing of the Church” (Auberlen, p. 252) is surely artificial and improbable.

The interpretation under discussion is in fact one which, in view of the circumstances of the age, might readily have suggested itself to. Christian expositors of Daniel, while the Roman empire was still the dominant power in the world; but it is one which the progress of history has shewn to be untenable. The early Christians believed that they were living in an age in which the end of the world was imminent; and it was in this belief, as Mr (now Bishop) Westcott has pointed out, that the interpretation in question originated. ‘It originated at a time when the triumphant advent of Messiah was the object of immediate expectation, and the Roman empire appeared to be the last in the series of earthly kingdoms. The long interval of conflict which has followed the first Advent formed no place in the anticipation of the first Christendom; and in succeeding ages the Roman period has been unnaturally prolonged to meet the requirements of a theory which took its rise in a state of thought which experience has proved false[283].’

[283] Smith’s Dict. of the Bible, s.v. Daniel.

B. This interpretation appears first[284] in Ephrem Syrus (c. 300–350 a.d.)[285]; it was adopted afterwards by several later and mediæval scholars; more recently it has been advocated in England by Mr (now Bishop) Westcott, and Prof. Bevan; and on the Continent by Ewald, Bleek, Delitzsch[286], Kuenen, Meinhold, and others[287]. The strongest arguments in its favour are derived (1) from the positive objections stated above, to the ‘Roman’ interpretation,—for an intermediate view, which has been suggested, viz. that the four empires are the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Macedonian, and the Syrian, has little to recommend it: and (2) from the description of the ‘little horn’ in Daniel 7, viewed in connexion with what is said in other parts of the book. In ch. 8 there is a ‘little horn,’ which is admitted on all hands to represent Antiochus Epiphanes, and whose impious character and doings (Daniel 8:10-12; Daniel 8:25) are in all essentials identical with those attributed to the ‘little horn’ in ch. 7 (Daniel 7:8 end, 20, 21, 25): as Delitzsch remarks, it is extremely difficult to think that where the description is so similar, two entirely different persons, living in widely different periods of the world’s history, should be intended. It is true, there are details in which the two descriptions differ,—ch. 8 dwells for instance a good deal more fully on the particulars of Antiochus’ assaults upon the faith: but entire identity would be tautology; the differences affect no material feature in the representation; and there is consequently no better reason for supposing that they point here to two different personalities than for supposing that similar differences in the representations of ch. 2 and ch. 7 point there to two different series of empires. Again, the period during which the persecution in ch. 7 is to continue is ‘a time, times, and half-a-time’ (i.e. 3½ years)—exactly the period during which (Daniel 12:7 : cf. Daniel 7:11; and on Daniel 9:27) the persecution of Antiochus is to continue: is it likely that entirely different events should be measured by precisely the same interval of time? And thirdly, if the overthrow of Antiochus Epiphanes is in Daniel 12:1-3 (see the notes) followed immediately by the Messianic age, is it probable that in chs. 2 and 7 this should be represented as beginning at an indefinite date in the distant future? The age of Antiochus Epiphanes is in fact the limiting horizon of the book. Not only does the revelation of chs. 10–12 culminate in the description of that age, which is followed, without any interval, by the period of final bliss, but the age of Antiochus himself is in Daniel 8:19 (as the sequel shews) described as the ‘time of the end’: can there then, asks Delitzsch, have been for Daniel a ‘time of the end’ after that which he himself expressly describes as the ‘end’? ‘There might have been, if the visions which ex hyp. represent the Roman age as following that of Alexander and his successors, were later in date than those which do not look beyond the period of the Seleucidae. In point of fact, however, the dream of ch. 2, and the vision of ch. 7, are both of earlier date than the visions of ch. 8 and ch. 9[288].’

[284] Or, at least, for the first time distinctly; for a passage in the so-called ‘Sibylline Oracles’ (see the Introduction, p. lxxxiii) makes it probable that the ‘ten horns’ were understood of the Seleucidae as early as c. 140 b.c. After describing (iii. 381–7) how Macedonia will bring great woe upon Asia, and overcome Babylon (alluding manifestly to Alexander the Great), the ‘Sibyl’ continues (388 ff.):—

[285] See the Commentary on Daniel in vol. ii. of his Syriac works (ed. 1740).

[286] In his art. Daniel, in the 2nd edition of Herzog’s Real-Encyklopädie (1878). It is also adopted by Buhl in the corresponding article in the 3rd edition (1898) of the same work.

[287] It is adopted also in the art. Daniel in Hastings’ Dict. of the Bible, by Prof. E. L. Curtis, of Yale, and in that in Black’s Encyclopaedia Biblica (col. 1007), by Prof. Kamphausen, of Bonn.

[288] The arguments in the preceding paragraph are substantially those of Delitzsch, in his article just referred to. p. 474.

ἥξει καί ποτʼ ἄπυστ [εἰς] Ἀσσίδος ὄλβιον οὖδας

ἀνὴρ πορφυρέην λώπην ἐπιειμένος ὤμοις,

  390  ἄγριος, ἀλλοδίκης, φλογόειςἤγειρε γὰρ αὐτὸν

πρόσθε κεραυνὸς φῶτακακὸν δʼ Ἀσίη ζυγὸν ἕξει

πᾶσα, πολὺν δὲ χθὼν πίεται φόνον ὀμβρηθεῖσα.

ἀλλὰ καὶ ὣς πανάϊστον ἅπαντʼ Ἀΐδης θεραπεύσει

ὧν δή περ γενεὴν αὐτὸς θέλει ἐξαπολέσσαι,

  395  ἐκ τῶν δὴ γενεῆς κείνου γέυοζ ἐξαπολεῖται

ῥίζαν ἴαν γε διδούς, ἣν καὶ κόψει Βροτολοιγὸς

ἐκ δέκα δὴ κεράτων, παρὰ δὲ φυτὸν ἄλλο φυτεύσει.

κόψει πορφυρέης γενεῆς γενετῆρα μαχητήν,

καὐτὸς ἀφ υἱῶν, ὦν ἐς ὁμόφρονα αἴσιον ἄρρης

  400  φθεῖταικαὶ τοτὲ δὴ παραφυόμενον κέρας ἄρξει.

The ‘man clad with purple, fierce, unjust, fiery, lightning-born,’ who is to enslave Asia is, it seems, Antiochus Epiphanes (whose invasion of Egypt is certainly referred to in ll. 611–615). The race which he wishes to destroy, but by which his own race will be destroyed, is that of his brother Seleucus IV. (b.c. 187–175), whose son, Demetrius I., caused the ‘one root’ which Antiochus left, viz. his son and successor, Antiochus V. Eupator (164–162), to be put to death (1Ma 7:1-4): this the writer expresses by saying, ‘the destroyer (Ares, the god of war) will cut him off out of ten horns’, i.e. as the last of ten kings. The (illegitimate) ‘plant’ planted beside him is Alexander Balas, who defeated and slew Demetrius I., the ‘warrior father of a royal race’ in 150 (1Ma 10:49 f.), and usurped the throne of Syria from 150 to 146. In 146, however, Alexandar Balas (l. 399) was attacked and defeated by Demetrius II., son of Demetrius I., and his father in-law, Ptolemy Philometor, and soon afterwards murdered (1Ma 11:8-19; Jos. Ant. xiii. iv. 8). The ‘horn’ growing alongside, that was then to rule, is the parvenu Trypho, guardian of the youthful Antiochus VI., who having procured the death of his ward, held the throne of Syria from 142 to 137 (1Ma 12:39; 1Ma 13:31 f., 1Ma 15:37). If this highly probable interpretation is correct (and it is accepted by Schürer), the ‘ten horns,’ though not entirely, are nevertheless largely (see p. 101 f.) the same Seleucid princes as in Dan.; and it is reasonable to regard the passage as indicating the sense in which the ‘horns’ of Dan. were understood at the time when it was written (see further Schürer, ii. p. 798 f.).

2Es 12:11 (cited p. 95), where the interpretation of Daniel 7:7-8 given in Daniel 7:23-26 seems to be corrected, may also perhaps justify the inference that this interpretation had previously been the prevalent one: it would be but natural that, when the empire of the Greeks had passed away, without the prophecy being fulfilled, it should be re-interpreted of the Romans (cf. Charles, Eschatology, Hebrew, Jewish and Christian, p. 173).

For these reasons it is impossible to think either that the ‘little horn’ of ch. 7 represents any other ruler but Antiochus Epiphanes, or that the fourth empire of ch. 2 and ch. 7 is any other than the Greek empire of Alexander’s successors. That the symbolism of the two visions leaves ‘nothing to be desired’ upon this interpretation, has been shewn by Delitzsch. “By the material of the feet being heterogeneous is signified the division of the kingdom, in consequence of which these offshoots (‘Ausläufer’) of it arose (cf. Daniel 11:5); by its consisting of iron and clay is signified the superior strength of the one kingdom as compared with the other (Daniel 11:5); by the iron and clay being mingled, without being organically united, is signified the union of the two kingdoms by matrimonial alliances (Daniel 11:6; Daniel 11:17), without any real unity between them being attained. And how naturally are the silver breast and arms referred to the Median empire, and the brazen belly and loins to the Persian! ‘After thee,’ says Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:39), ‘will arise another kingdom, inferior to thine.’ Was then the Persian empire inferior to the Chaldaean? It may be answered that it was so in its Median beginnings. But what justification is there for referring the word inferior’ to the beginnings of the second empire, rather than to the period when it displayed most fully its distinctive character? The reference is to the Median Empire which, because it was in general of less importance than the others, is passed by in the interpretation (Daniel 2:39) in few words. Of the third empire, on the contrary, it is said (ibid.) that it will ‘bear rule over all the earth.’ That is the Persian empire. Only this is again a universal empire, in the fullest sense of the term, as the Chaldaean was. The intermediate Median empire, weaker than both, merely forms the transition from the one to the other[289].”

[289] Delitzsch had already shewn, substantially as is done above, in the note on Daniel 2:39, that according to the representation of the Book of Daniel, there was a Median empire, following the Chaldaean, and at the same time distinct from the Persian.

What, however, upon this interpretation of the fourth empire, is denoted by the ‘ten horns’? The most probable view is that they represent the successors of Alexander upon the throne of Antioch, the line out of which Antiochus Epiphanes, the ‘little horn,’ ultimately arose. ‘That all ten appear simultaneously is a consequence of the vision [comp. in ch. 2 how the four successive empires appear as parts of the same image], and does not authorize the conclusion that all were contemporary, though of course the three uprooted by Antiochus must have been contemporary with him’ (Delitzsch). The first seven of these successors are: (1) Seleucus (I.) Nicator (b.c. 312–280); (2) Antiochus (I.) Soter (279–261); (3) Antiochus (II.) Theos (260–246); (4) Seleucus (II.) Callinicus (245–226); (5) Seleucus (III.) Ceraunus (225–223); (6) Antiochus (III.) the Great (222–187); (7) Seleucus (IV.) Philopator (186–176). The last three are reckoned differently. According to some[290], they are (8) Heliodorus, the chief minister of Seleucus Philopator, who, having poisoned his master, aimed at the throne for himself, and would, no doubt, have secured it, had not Antiochus Epiphanes returned from Rome in time, with the help of Attalus and Eumenes of Pergamum, to prevent it (see further on Daniel 11:20)[291]; (9) Demetrius, son of Seleucus Philopator and nephew of Antiochus Epiphanes, who after his father’s murder was the legitimate heir to the throne, but who was detained as hostage at Rome in lieu of Antiochus Epiphanes, and only actually succeeded to the throne after Antiochus Epiphanes’ death; (10) Ptolemy (VII.) Philometor, king of Egypt, also nephew of Antiochus Epiphanes (being son of his sister Cleopatra), whom, according to Jerome, a party in Syria desired to place on the throne, but whom Antiochus ‘by simulating clemency’ displaced[292]: Philometor afterwards laid claim to the Syrian provinces of Coele-Syria and Palestine, but being attacked by Antiochus, he fell into his uncle’s hands, and had it not been for the interference of the Romans, would, in all probability, have permanently lost the crown of Egypt (see more fully on Daniel 11:21). These three men, as Ewald points out, were all politically prominent at the time; they all stood in Antiochus’s way, and had in one way or another to be put aside before he could secure his crown: they might thus, in the imagery of the vision, be well described as ‘plucked up’ (Daniel 7:8), ‘falling down’ (Daniel 7:20), or ‘abased’ (Daniel 7:24), before him. Others[293], arguing that the fourth beast represents the Greek supremacy as a whole, consider that Alexander, the first king, should not be excluded from the enumeration: they accordingly begin the list with him, obtaining then (8) Seleucus Philopator; (9) Heliodorus; (10) Demetrius: upon this view it is supposed that the murder of Seleucus Philopator, though in fact the work of Heliodorus, was attributed popularly at the time to the suggestion, or instigation, of Antiochus (who, indeed, almost immediately succeeded his brother, and consequently was the one who, to all appearance, benefited most materially by his removal). The exclusion of Ptolemy Philometor from this enumeration, is thought to be a point in its favour; for before the accession of Antiochus, he was not, it is pointed out, king of Syria, and it is doubtful (p. 101, not[294]) whether even any claim to the throne was then made on his behalf. Others[295], again, doubt whether Demetrius is rightly included among the ten kings (for though he was the lawful heir after his father s death, he was not actually king at the time here referred to), and prefer, therefore, (8) Seleucus Philopator; (9) Heliodorus; (10) an unnamed brother of Demetrius, who, according to a fragment of John of Antioch, was put to death by Antiochus[296]. One or other of these alternatives may be reasonably adopted, as sufficiently satisfying the requirements of the case; our knowledge of the times does not, unfortunately, enable us to decide with confidence which deserves the preference.

[290] Bertholdt, von Lengerke, Ewald, Meinhold; cf. Delitzsch, p. 476.

[291] Cf. Appian, Syr. 45: τὸν δὲ Ἡλιόδωρονεἰς τὴν ἀρχὴν βιαζόμενον ἐκβάλλουσιν; and (of Antiochus) τῆς ἀρχῆς ἁρπαζομένης ὑπὸ ἀλλοτρίων βασιλεὺς οἰκεῖος ὤφθη.

[292] The statement, sometimes made, that Cleopatra herself claimed the throne of Syria for her son, is only matter of inference (cf. Pusey, p. 150). It is, however, true that the claim was afterwards (148–147 b.c.) raised, and even acted on by the Roman senate (Polyb. xxxiii. 16), on behalf of Philometor’s son-in-law, Alexander Balas; and that Philometor, having marched into Syria to assist Alexander in enforcing his claim, was actually for a short time king of Syria (1Ma 11:13; Polyb. xl. 12; Jos. Ant. xiii. 4: see Mahaffy, The Empire of the Ptolemies, p. 366, and the coin figured on p. 376).

[293] Hitzig, Cornill, Behrmann, Prince,—though Behrmann is disposed to treat the number symbolically, and to doubt whether particular individuals are referred to: the ‘ten horns’ he regards as symbolizing generally the divided rule of the Diadochi (p. 46). We cannot feel sure what the author means, so that this view must at least be admitted as a possible one.

[294] ote Delitzsch had already shewn, substantially as is done above, in the note on Daniel 2:39, that according to the representation of the Book of Daniel, there was a Median empire, following the Chaldaean, and at the same time distinct from the Persian.

[295] Von Gutschmid, Kuenen, Bevan.

[296] Müller, Fragm. hist. Graec. iv. 558.

Bleek supposed that the ten horns represented the parts of Alexander’s empire which, after his death, became independent kingdoms, the number ten being chosen in view of the generals who, in the partition of b.c. 323, obtained the chief provinces, viz. 1 Craterus (Macedonia), 2 Antipater (Greece), 3 Lysimachus (Thrace), 4 Leonatus (Little Phrygia on the Hellespont), 5 Antigonus (Great Phrygia, Lycia, and Pamphylia), 6 Kassander (Caria), 7 Eumenes (Cappadocia and Paphlagonia), 8 Laomedon (Syria and Palestine), 9 Pithon (Media), 10 Ptolemy Lagi (Egypt). However, according to Justin (xiii. 4) the entire number of provinces was not 10, but 28, and the principle upon which 10 are selected out of them appears to be arbitrary; moreover, these provinces were not independent kingdoms, but satrapies of an empire still regarded as one and undivided (see Pusey, p. 153 ff).

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.
1. In the first year of Belshazzar] The visions (c. 7–12) are not a continuation of the narratives (c. 1–6), but form a series by themselves: the author accordingly no longer adheres to the chronological order which he has hitherto followed, but goes back to a date anterior to that of ch. 5 (see Daniel 5:30). In view of what was said at the beginning of ch. 5 it is, of course, impossible to estimate the ‘first year’ of Belshazzar in years b.c.

had] lit. saw.

visions of his head upon his bed] The same phrase in Daniel 2:28.

then he wrote the dream] With reference to the sequel (Daniel 7:2 ff.), in which Daniel speaks in the first person, and which in these words is represented as having been committed to writing by Daniel himself. The first person (with the exception of Daniel 10:1) continues from Daniel 7:2 to the end of the book.

the sum of words (or things)] contained in the revelation, i.e. its essential import.

Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.
2. Daniel answered and said, I saw] properly, I was seeing (or beholding), as Daniel 4:10; Daniel 4:13 : so Daniel 7:4; Daniel 7:6-7; Daniel 7:9; Daniel 7:11 (twice), 13, 21. LXX. and Theod. rightly render by ἐθεώρουν.

the four winds of the heaven] The same expression, Daniel 8:8, Daniel 11:4; Zechariah 2:6; Zechariah 6:5; 2Es 13:5.

strove upon] were breaking forth (see Jdg 20:33 Heb.) on to, creating a great disturbance of the waters. A.V. strove is to be explained from the sense which the word has in the Targums. The root means to break or burst forth, of water (as Job 38:8); but in the Targums it is common, in the conjug. here used, in the sense of to wage war, lit. to cause war to break forth, as Deuteronomy 20:4, and even with ‘war’ omitted, Joshua 23:3 al.; hence strove. However, the prep. which here follows does not mean upon, but to.

the great sea] a name of the Mediterranean Sea, Joshua 1:4; Joshua 9:1 al. However, that sense is not to be pressed here; the ‘great sea,’ tossed up by the four winds of heaven, symbolizes the agitated world of nations (cf. Daniel 7:3 with Daniel 7:17; and comp. Revelation 17:15 : also Isaiah 17:12).

And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
3. came up from the sea] Cf. Revelation 13:1; 2Es 11:1; 2Es 13:3 (R.V.).

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.
4. The first beast.

eagle’s wings] The ‘eagle’ (nesher) of the O.T., as Tristram has shewn (Nat. Hist. of the Bible, p. 172 ff.), is properly a vulture,—though not the ordinary carrion vulture, but the Griffon-Vulture, or Great Vulture, a “majestic bird, most abundant, and never out of sight, whether on the mountains or the plains of Palestine. Everywhere it is a feature in the sky, as it circles higher and higher, till lost to all but the keenest sight, and then rapidly swoops down again” (Smith’s Dict. of the Bible, ed. 2, i. 815).

were pluckt] were plucked off.

lifted up from the earth] on which, as an animal, it had been lying.

upon the feet] upon two feet.

a man’s heart] i.e. a man’s intelligence: cf. on Daniel 4:16.

The first beast was like a lion, with the wings of the Griffon-Vulture: it combined consequently the characteristics of the noblest of quadrupeds and of one of the most majestic of birds—the indomitable strength of the lion, and the power of the vulture to soar securely on high, to descry its prey from afar, and to alight unerringly upon it. It corresponds to the head of gold in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Daniel 2:32; Daniel 2:38), and denotes, analogously to that, the Babylonian empire (comp. the simile of the lion applied to Nebuchadnezzar in Jeremiah 49:19, and that of the Griffon-Vulture to either Nebuchadnezzar, or his armies, in Jeremiah 49:22; Habakkuk 1:8; Ezekiel 17:3 (see Daniel 7:12); Lamentations 4:19). After a time however a change passes over the figure. Its wings are taken away, i.e. it is deprived of the power of flight; its rapidity of conquest is stopped; nevertheless it is lifted up into an erect position, and receives both the form and intelligence of a man. It seems that Ewald, Keil, Pusey (p. 69 f.) and others are right in seeing here an allusion to what is narrated in ch. 4: the empire is regarded as personified in its head; in Nebuchadnezzar’s loss of reason its powers were crippled: during this time he is described (Daniel 4:16) as having a beast’s heart; afterwards, when his reason returned, and he glorified God (Daniel 4:34; Daniel 4:37), he gave proof that he possessed the heart (intelligence) of a man; the animal (i.e. heathen) character of the empire disappeared, and it was, so to say, humanized in the person of its representative.

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.
5. The second beast.

like to a bear] The bear is a voracious[268] animal, living indeed principally upon roots, bulbs, fruits, and other vegetable products, but, especially when pressed by hunger, ready to attack both the smaller wild and domestic animals, and even man[269]. In the O.T. it is spoken of as being, next to the lion, the most formidable beast of prey known in Palestine (1 Samuel 17:34; Amos 5:19; cf. 2 Kings 2:24; Hosea 13:8); at the same time it is inferior to the lion in strength and appearance, and is heavy and ungainly in its movements. The kingdom denoted by it corresponds to the ‘silver’ kingdom of Daniel 2:32, which was ‘inferior’ (Daniel 2:39) to that of Nebuchadnezzar, i.e. the empire of the Medes; as was pointed out on Daniel 2:39, the book of Daniel represents the Chaldæan empire as succeeded not immediately by Cyrus, but by a Median ruler, Darius.

[268] Arist. H. N. viii. 5 παμφάγον (with reference, as the explanation following shews, to its eating fruits, roots, &c., as well as flesh).

[269] See many illustrations from different authorities collected by Bochart, Hieroz. iii. ix. (ii. 138 ff., ed. Leipz. 1794).

it had raised up one side] This is the Massoretic reading; R.V. it was raised up on one side, follows a reading (implying a change of only one point) found in some MSS. and editions, but possessing less authority. The two readings do not however differ materially in meaning; though what either is intended to denote cannot be said to be altogether clear. Perhaps, on the whole, the most probable view is that the trait is intended to indicate the animal’s aggressiveness: it is pictured as raising one of its shoulders, so as to be ready to use its paw on that side. (The rendering of A.V. and R.V. marg., ‘raised up one dominion,’ implies shetar for setar; and is not probable.)

and it had three ribs, &c.] as the prey which it had seized. Those who regard the bear as symbolizing the Medo-Persian empire generally suppose the three ribs to denote Lydia, Babylonia, and Egypt, three prominent countries conquered, the first two by Cyrus, and the third by Cambyses; but it is quite possible that the ribs in the creature’s mouth are meant simply as an indication of its voracity, and are not intended as an allusion to three particular countries absorbed by the empire which it represents.

and they said] or, and it was said: see on Daniel 4:25.

Arise, devour much flesh] as its nature would prompt it to do. The Medes are the people whom the Heb. prophets of the exile represent as summoned to destroy Babylon (Isaiah 13:17; Isaiah 21:2; Jeremiah 51:11; Jeremiah 51:28); and Isaiah 13:17-18 gives a graphic picture of the insolence and cruelty of their attack.

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.
6. The third beast. A leopard.

upon the back of it] The Aram. word means both back and side; and, as the Heb. text (K’tib) has the mark of the plural, perhaps we ought to render on its sides (so Bevan, Behrmann).

of a fowl] i.e., as we should now say, of a bird.

The leopard is a fierce, carnivorous animal, remarkable for the swiftness and agility of its attack (cf. Habakkuk 1:8, where the horses of the Chaldæans are said to be ‘swifter than leopards’). It is particularly dangerous to cattle; and “specially noted for the patience with which it waits, extended on the branch of a tree, or a rock near a watering place, expecting its prey, on which it springs with a deadly precision. Hence Hosea 13:7, ‘as a leopard by the way will I observe them’; Jeremiah 5:6” (G. E. Post, in Hastings’ Dict. of the Bible, s. v.).

Here the four wings upon the leopard’s back indicate that it is invested with more than ordinary agility of movement; while the four heads, looking, it may be presumed, towards the four quarters of the earth, are meant apparently to indicate that the empire which it symbolised was to extend in every direction[270]. It was thus a fit emblem of the Persian empire, the founder of which, Cyrus, astonished the world by the extent and rapidity of his conquests.

[270] So at least Keil, Meinhold, Behrmann. Others, however, as von Lengerke, Ew., Hitz., Delitzsch, Kuenen, Bevan, Prince, think that the four heads denote the four kings of Persia referred to in Daniel 11:2.

and dominion was given to it] emphasizing the vastness of its rule: cf. Daniel 2:39, where the corresponding empire is described as ‘ruling over all the earth.’

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.
7. dreadful and terrible] The same two words occur in combination in the Targ. of Habakkuk 1:7, ‘terrible and dreadful are they.’ The rendering of the second word in R.V., powerful, follows a slightly different reading (’emtânî for ’êmtânî), found in some editions, but less well attested and less probable (it would be a ἅπαξ εἰρημένον in Aram., and explicable only from the Arabic).

and stamped the residue with the feet of it] in wanton destructiveness and ferocity.

and it was diverse, &c.] Each of the beasts was ‘diverse’ from the others (Daniel 7:3); but the terrible appearance of this differentiated it materially from the other three, and placed it in a class by itself. The fourth beast has, moreover, no name; for no one creature, or even combination of creatures (as the lion with vulture’s wings in Daniel 7:4), could adequately represent it; only words expressive of terribleness, ferocity, and might are accumulated for the purpose of characterizing it. The empire meant (if the two preceding ones are explained correctly) will be that of Alexander the Great: comp. Daniel 8:5; Daniel 8:21, Daniel 11:3. Cf. the description of the fourth kingdom in Daniel 2:40, as ‘strong as iron,’ and ‘breaking in pieces and bruising.’

and it had ten horns] A horn is commonly in the O.T. the figure of strength to attack and repel (e.g. Deuteronomy 33:17; Micah 4:13); but in the imagery of Daniel’s visions it represents either a king (see Daniel 7:24; and cp. Daniel 8:5; Daniel 8:8 a, 9, 21), or a dynasty of kings (Daniel 8:3; Daniel 8:6-8 b, 20, 22), rising up in, or out of, the empire symbolized by the creature to which the horn belongs. Here the reference is apparently to the ten successors of Alexander on the throne of Antioch (see more fully the Additional Note, p. 101). Cf. the ‘ten toes of the feet’ in the corresponding part of ch. 2 (Daniel 2:41-42).

7, 8. The fourth beast.

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.
8. I considered the horns, and] I was contemplating the horns, when, &c. The force of the verb is apparent from its use in the Targ. of Onk., as Exodus 3:6, ‘he feared to gaze upon the glory of Jehovah,’ and Numbers 21:9, ‘when he looked attentively at (or contemplated) the serpent of brass.’

another little horn, &c.] R.V. (avoiding a possible ambiguity in the English) another horn, a little one, before which, &c. With ‘little’ cf. Daniel 8:9. No doubt the meaning is, little in its beginning, but soon increasing in power, till ‘three of the first horns were rooted up from before it.’ If the fourth beast symbolizes the empire of Alexander, the ‘little horn’ will be Antiochus Epiphanes, whose persecution of the Jews (b.c. 168–165) forms certainly the subject of Daniel 8:10-14; Daniel 8:24-25, and Daniel 11:31-33, and who, in Daniel 8:9 (see Daniel 8:23), is also represented by a ‘little horn.’ The descriptions at the end of the present verse, and in Daniel 7:21; Daniel 7:25, also suit Antiochus Epiphanes. For further particulars respecting the events of his reign, see the notes on Daniel 11:21 ff., Daniel 11:30-36 ff., and p. 194 f.

and behold, in this horn, &c.] Another marvel: the horn had the eyes and mouth of a man. The eyes like the eyes of a man imply the faculty of keen observation and insight, and so indirectly the possession of intellectual shrewdness.

and a month speaking great things] i.e. proud, presumptuous things, especially against God, or His people. Cf. Psalm 12:3, ‘the tongue that speaketh great things,’ Obadiah 1:12, lit. ‘neither make thy mouth great,’ Revelation 13:5, where the beast with ten horns is given ‘a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies.’ Comp. Daniel 11:36, where it is said of Antiochus Epiphanes that he will ‘speak marvellous things against the God of gods’; and 1Ma 1:24, where it is stated that, after despoiling the Temple (b.c. 170), he went away, and ‘spake great presumptuousness’ (ἐλάλησεν ὑπερηφανίαν μεγάλην).

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.
9. till thrones were placed (R.V.)] for the angelic assessors of the Judge, who are not further mentioned, but who are naturally to be distinguished from the hosts which ‘stand,’ ministering before Him, in Daniel 7:10. A.V. means, ‘till the thrones of the Gentile powers were overthrown’; but the rendering of R.V. is much preferable. Exactly the same expression occurs in the Targ. of Jeremiah 1:15, ‘and they shall cast down (i.e. set down, place) each his throne in front of the gates of Jerusalem.’

the Ancient of days] The expression does not mean what the English words seem to imply, one who had existed from the days of eternity; it means simply an aged man; and the R.V., one that was ancient of days, is meant to indicate this. Exactly the same expression occurs in the Syriac version of Wis 2:10 for an ‘old man,’ and in Sir 25:4 (in the plural) for ‘elders.’ ‘What Daniel sees is not the eternal God Himself, but an aged man, in whose dignified and impressive form God reveals Himself: cf. Ezekiel 1:26’ (Keil).

his raiment was white as snow] symbolizing purity (Isaiah 1:18; Psalm 51:7). The white hair would have the same symbolism, though this would be natural independently in an aged man. The imagery of Revelation 1:14 is derived from the present passage.

like pure wool] The imagery of the visions in the Book of Enoch is based largely upon that of the present passage of Daniel. With the words quoted, cf. Enoch xlvi. 1 (cited below, p. 106), and lxxi. 10.

his throne was fiery flames, and the wheels thereof burning fire] in accordance with the usual representation of God as surrounded by, or manifested in, fire, the most immaterial of elements, and at the same time the agency best suited to represent symbolically His power to destroy all that is sinful or unholy: cf.—in different connexions—Genesis 15:17; Exodus 3:2; Numbers 16:35; Deuteronomy 4:24; Psalm 18:12-13; Psalm 50:3; Psalm 97:3; Isaiah 30:27; Ezekiel 1:4; Ezekiel 1:13; Ezekiel 10:2; Ezekiel 10:6-7 (fire between the cherubim supporting the Divine throne), Ezekiel 1:27, Ezekiel 8:2 (fire representing the Divine form). With the description itself, comp. also Enoch xiv. 18–22 (in the Greek text, p. 347 of Charles’ edition): ‘And I beheld, and saw a lofty throne … And underneath the throne there came forth rivers of flaming fire; and I could not look thereon. And the Great Glory sat thereon, and His raiment was brighter than the sun, and whiter than any snow … Fire burnt round about, and a great fire stood beside Him, and no one approacheth Him round about: thousand thousands stand before Him, and every word of His is deed.’

the wheels thereof] The throne is pictured implicitly as a chariot, as in Ezekiel 1:15-28. The representation of the throne and wheels as being fire is, however, more than is found even in the visions of Ezekiel.

9–14. The judgement on the Gentile powers. The scene is majestically conceived. Thrones are set for the heavenly powers, the assessors of the Judge: the Almighty Himself appears in the likeness of an aged man, seated on a throne of flame: angels in countless myriads stand in attendance around Him: and the books recording the deeds of the Gentile rulers are opened. The four beasts are given over to destruction: while a figure in human form is brought before the Almighty in the clouds of heaven, and receives from Him an everlasting dominion.

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.
10. a stream of firefrom before him] For ‘from before,’ cf. Daniel 5:24; and on Daniel 6:10. Comp. also Revelation 1:14, ‘his eyes were as a flame of fire.’

thousand thousands] Cf. Deuteronomy 33:2, R.V. (if the existing Heb. text of line 4 is correct); also 1 Kings 22:19; Zechariah 14:5 end, R.V.; Enoch i. 9 (cited, with slight verbal differences [see Charles’ ed. p. 327], in Judges 14, 15 [for ‘saints’ in Daniel 7:14, A.V., see the note on Daniel 8:13]). The present passage is doubtless the source of Enoch xiv. 22 (cited on Daniel 7:9), xl. 1 (cited below, p. 106); cf. lx. 1, lxxi. 8, 13; and of Revelation 5:11.

ministered … stood] Better, were ministering … were standing, the tenses being as in Daniel 4:12.

stood before him] viz. in attendance: cf. for the idiom 1 Kings 10:8.

the judgement was set] i.e. (in accordance with the old English sense of the expression) was seated: the Aram. is lit. sat, ‘judgement’ being used here in a concrete sense for the judges; cf. LXX., Theod., τὸ κριτήριον ἐκάθισεν, Vulg. judicium sedit; and see Daniel 7:26, ‘shall sit’. The Almighty is represented as holding a court of judgement. For was set in this sense see in A.V., Matthew 5:1 (‘when he was set,’ i.e. was seated), Matthew 27:19; Hebrews 8:1 (R.V. sat down); Psalm 9:4 (P.B.V), ‘thou art set (i.e. hast seated thyself) in the throne that judgest right.’ W. A. Wright quotes, from an old writer, ‘When they were sette’ (viz. at table).

and the books were opened] the books in which the deeds of men are recorded—in particular the deeds of the four ‘beasts,’ representing the four empires. Cf. Revelation 20:12, ‘And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne; and books were opened; … and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works:’ also 2Es 6:20; Apoc. of Baruch xxiv. 1; Ascension of Isaiah (ed. Dillmann, 1877), ix. 22; Enoch xlvii. 3 (cited on p. 106), lxxxix. 70, 71, 76, 77, xc. 20, xcviii. 7, 8, civ. 7,—all passages speaking of the deeds of men being recorded in books, which are afterwards opened in heaven. See further Charles’s note on Enoch xlvii. 3; and comp. Abhoth ii. 1, ‘Know what is above thee, a seeing eye, and a hearing ear, and all thy deeds written in a book.’ The germ of the representation is to be found most probably in the figurative expressions in Isaiah 65:6 (‘Behold, it is written before me’: cf. Jeremiah 17:1); Malachi 3:16 (cf. Esther 6:1); Psalm 56:8.

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.
11. The beast representing the fourth empire is slain, and utterly destroyed, on account of the blasphemies of Antiochus Epiphanes (Daniel 7:8), the idea being that the guilt of the empire culminated in him. The writer thinks of empires only, not of individuals; and it is impossible to say what he pictured to himself as being the fate of the individuals of whom the fourth empire consisted.

I beheld, &c.] The second ‘I beheld’ is resumptive of the first, after the intervening clause introduced by because—a construction of which there are many examples in Hebrew (e.g. Leviticus 17:5; Jdg 11:31; Zechariah 8:23). I beheld till, as Daniel 7:9. The clause because, &c., though apparently giving the reason for ‘I beheld,’ gives in reality the reason for ‘the beast was slain,’ &c.

and his body destroyed] The empire being represented by an animal, its ‘body’ will correspond to the fabric, or political organization, of the State. This is to be utterly brought to an end.

and he was given to be burned with fire (R.V.)] lit. to the burning of fire (cf. Isaiah 64:11, lit. ‘has become for the burning of fire), i.e. to complete destruction. It is hardly likely that there is any allusion here to the torments of the wicked after death, for though in parts of Enoch, written probably within 50 years of Daniel (10:13, 21:7–10, 90:24–27), mention is made of a fiery place of punishment for wicked angels and men, had that been intended here it is probable that it would have been indicated more distinctly,—to say nothing of the fact that, as remarked just above, it is the fate of empires, not of individuals, that the writer has in view. Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10 are not sufficient proof that the author of Daniel had the idea here in his mind.

As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.
12. the rest of the beasts] Commentators are divided as to whether the three beasts of Daniel 7:4-6, or the seven horns left after the three had been rooted up (Daniel 7:8), are intended: but the expression used (‘beasts’) strongly favours the former interpretation. In the abstract, it is true, the latter interpretation might be deemed the more probable; for, as the ‘beasts’ represent successive kings, or kingdoms (Daniel 7:17; Daniel 7:23), the dominion of the first three would naturally be at an end long before the period of the judgement on the fourth, whereas the seven ‘horns’ might well be conceived as subsisting still. In point of fact, however, the kingdoms, though in reality successive, are in the vision represented as contemporaneous: nothing is said in Daniel 7:3-7 about the disappearance of one beast when a second appears; all continue visible, side by side. So in ch. 2 the four kingdoms represented by the image are destroyed simultaneously: the entire image remains intact until the stone falls upon the feet (representing the fourth and last kingdom), when the whole of it breaks up together.

they (indef.) took away their dominion] i.e. (see on Daniel 4:25) their dominion was taken away (R.V.).

but a prolonging in life was given them (A.V. marg.)] The three first beasts are humbled, but not, like the fourth beast, destroyed; their dominion was taken away from them, but they were permitted to remain alive; i.e. the Gentile powers, represented by the beasts, were to survive for a while as nations, though deprived of empire.

until a time and a season (Daniel 2:21)] i.e. until the unspecified time, determined for each in the counsel of the Most High (Keil).

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.
13. and behold there appeared coming with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man] lit. there was coming, &c., the graphic partic. with the finite verb, which is so frequent in Daniel (Theod. LXX. καὶ ἰδοὺ μετὰ [LXX. ἐπὶ] τῶν νεφελῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ὡς υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου ἐρχόμενος [LXX. ἤρχετο]): though in English ‘was coming’ is too weak to express its force adequately. The rendering of A.V., ‘the Son of man,’ is quite untenable: the expression of the original is indefinite, and denotes simply, in poetical language (cf. Numbers 23:19; Psalm 80:17; Isaiah 51:12; Isaiah 56:2), a figure in human form (comp. Revelation 1:13; Revelation 14:14, R.V.). What the figure is intended to represent can be properly determined only after the explanation in Daniel 7:16 ff. has been considered (see p. 102 ff.). If the terms of Daniel 7:18; Daniel 7:22 b, 27 are to be taken as deciding the question, it would seem that it must describe the ideal and glorified people of Israel.

with the clouds of heaven] in superhuman majesty and state. The passage is the source of the expression in Mark 14:62 (Matthew 26:64 ‘on’); Revelation 1:7, ‘behold, he cometh with the clouds:’ cf. Matthew 24:30 (‘on’) = Mark 13:26 (‘in’) = Luke 21:27 (‘in’); and Revelation 14:14 (‘one sitting on a cloud, like unto a son of man’), 15, 16.

and he came even to the ancient of days] see on Daniel 7:9.

and they brought him near] The subject might be angelic beings; or, which is probably better, it may be indefinite, like the ‘they’ of Daniel 7:5; Daniel 7:12, i.e. and he was brought near (see on Daniel 4:25).

Additional Note on the expression ‘one like unto a son of man’ in Daniel 7:13

The question what this expression in Daniel 7:13 denotes has been much disputed. On the one hand, the current interpretation has, no doubt, been that it denotes the Messiah; on the other hand, there are strong reasons, derived from the text of Daniel itself, for holding that it denotes the glorified and ideal people of Israel.

1. The meaning of the expression[297]. In Hebrew, ‘sons of man’ (or ‘of men’—אדם being a collective term) is a common expression for mankind in general (Psalm 11:4; Psalm 12:1; Psalm 12:8; Psalm 14:2 &c.): the sing. ‘son of man’ also occurs (a) in the address to Ezekiel (בן אדם), Ezekiel 2:1; Ezekiel 2:3; Ezekiel 3:1; Ezekiel 3:3 and more than 90 times besides (so also Daniel 8:17); (b) poetically, here and there, usually in parallelism with איש or אנוש, as Numbers 23:19; Isaiah 51:12; Isaiah 56:2; Jeremiah 49:18 (= 7:33 = Jeremiah 50:40 = (nearly) Jeremiah 51:43); Psalm 8:4; Psalm 80:17; Psalm 146:3 ("" נדיבים ‘nobles’); Job 16:21 ("" גבר)[298], Job 25:6, Job 35:8; cf. Psalm 144:3 בן־אנוש ("" אדם).

[297] Cf. Dalman, Die Worte Jesu, p. 191.

[298] But read here probably וּבֵן אָדָם (‘and between a man,’ &c.).

In Aramaic, bar ’ěnâsh (or, contracted, bar-nâsh) is common in some dialects (but not in others) in prose (and not merely in poetry) in the ordinary sense of man. It does not occur in this sense elsewhere in Bibl. Aramaic, or in the Targum of Onkelos, or in the Targum on the Prophets (except in Isaiah 56:12; Jeremiah 49:18; Jeremiah 49:33; Jeremiah 50:40; Jeremiah 51:43; Micah 5:6 [Heb. בני אדם], where it is suggested directly by the Hebrew): but it is frequent in the somewhat different dialects of the Targums on the Hagiographa (about 7 cent. a.d.)[299], the Palestinian Targums on the Pent.[300], the Palestinian Talmud (3–4 cent. a.d.), the Palestinian Evangeliarium (about 5 cent. a.d.)[301], and Syriac[302].

[299] E.g. Psalm 8:5 (twice), Psalm 56:12, Psa. 60:13, Psalm 115:4, Psalm 118:6; Psalm 118:8, Psalm 119:134.

[300] E.g. Lev. 4:2, 5:1, 2, 4, 21, 7:21, 17:4, 9, 19:8 in the Targ. of ‘Pseudo-Jonathan.’

[301] In both, for instance, often in the expression חד ברנש ‘a certain man’ (did so and so). Numerous examples are quoted by Lietzmann, Der Menschensohn (1896), pp. 32 ff.

[302] E.g. Exodus 13:13; Exodus 13:15 : Leviticus 18:5; Matthew 4:4; Matthew 12:12; Matthew 12:43, &c.

On the strength of the poetical usage in Heb., and the usage which prevailed, at least in later times, in Aramaic, it may be said that ‘son of man’ in Daniel 7:13 does not substantially denote more than a ‘man,’ though it is[303] a choice, semi-poetical expression for the idea. It is, however, a man, as opposed to a brute, humane as well as human—perhaps, also, as Dalman urges (pp. 198 f., 217 f.), only a man, in himself frail and helpless, powerless by his own might to conquer the world, and destined, if he is to become ruler of the world, to ‘receive’ his kingdom at the hands of God.

[303] At least, this is an inference suggested by the fact that the expression does not occur elsewhere in Dan. for ‘man.’

2. The interpretation of the expression. In the Book of Daniel itself there is nothing which lends support to the Messianic interpretation. In the explanation of the vision which follows (Daniel 7:15 ff.) the place occupied by the ‘one like unto a son of man’ is taken, not by the Messiah, but by the ideal people of God: in Daniel 7:14 the ‘one like unto a son of man’ appears when the dominion of the four beasts, and the persecution of the ‘little horn,’ are both over, and receives a universal kingdom which shall never pass away; and in Daniel 7:18; Daniel 7:22; Daniel 7:27, when the dominion of the four kingdoms corresponding to the four beasts is at an end, and the persecution of the king corresponding to the ‘little horn’ has ceased, the ‘saints of the Most High,’ or (Daniel 7:27) the ‘people of the saints of the Most High,’ receive similarly a universal kingdom (Daniel 7:27), and possess it for ever and ever (Daniel 7:18). The parallelism between the vision and the interpretation is complete: the time is the same, the promise of perpetual and universal dominion is the same: and hence a strong presumption arises that the subject is also the same, and that the ‘one like unto a son of man’ in Daniel 7:13 corresponds to, and represents, the ‘saints of the Most High’ of Daniel 7:18, and the ‘people of the saints of the Most High’ of Daniel 7:27, i.e. the ideal Israel, for whom in the counsels of God the empire of the world is designed. If the writer by ‘the one like unto a son of man’ meant the Messiah, the head of the future ideal nation, his silence in the interpretation of the vision is inexplicable: how comes it that he there passes over the Messiah altogether, and applies the terms which (ex hyp.) are used of him in Daniel 7:13-14 to the people of Israel in Daniel 7:18; Daniel 7:22; Daniel 7:27?

The explanation of the vision given in the chapter itself is thus the primary and fundamental argument of those who hold the ideal people of Israel to be intended in Daniel 7:13. If, however, this interpretation be considered further, it will be seen to be both supported by the symbolism of the vision, and to harmonize with the representations of the ideal future given elsewhere in the book. In the first place, the realities of history are represented in the vision not as they actually are, but in a figurative form: the four beasts are not four actual beasts, but represent four kingdoms; the horns are not actual horns, but represent kings: by analogy, therefore, the figure in human form would not represent an actual man, but would stand for something else, the nature of which is explained, exactly as in the case of the four ‘beasts’ and of the ‘horns,’ in the interpretation. It is not difficult to suggest a reason why in the vision the last figure should appear in human form. Humanity is contrasted with animality; and the human form, as opposed to the bestial, teaches that the last kingdom will be, not like the Gentile kingdoms, a supremacy of brute force, but a supremacy essentially humane and spiritual. It is another figurative element in the vision, that the Gentile empires rise out of the sea (Daniel 7:3), by which is meant (see Daniel 7:17) that they are of this world: by analogy, the statement that the last empire comes with the clouds of heaven, will be a figurative indication of the fact that it will be ushered in by the power of God (cf. Bevan, p. 119). And, secondly, this explanation agrees with the representations given in other parts of the book. Both in Daniel 2:44 and Daniel 12:3, where the establishment of the future kingdom of God is spoken of, the author is as silent respecting a personal Messiah as its head, as he is in Daniel 7:22; Daniel 7:27 : the inference is that the Messiah was not a prominent figure in the prophet’s thoughts, and the conclusion supports the opinion, derived in the first instance from ch. 7 itself, that he is not intended in Daniel 7:13.

Various considerations have been advanced for the purpose of meeting these arguments. It has been said, for instance, that ‘the kingdom is not to be thought of without its king,’ and ‘that the prophets habitually picture the future happiness of their nation as bestowed upon it by the Messiah.’ But the author of Daniel expressly says that in this case the kingdom was to be possessed by the people of the saints; and that the dominion was to belong, not to the Messiah, but either to the people, or to the Almighty Himself (according to the interpretation adopted of the pronoun ‘his’ in Daniel 7:27). Nor is it true to say that the figure of the Messiah is a constant feature in prophecy: there is no Messiah in Amos (Amos 9:11 ff.), Zephaniah (Zephaniah 3:9 ff.), Joel (Joel 2:23 to Joel 3:21), or in the remarkable eschatological prophecy preserved in Isaiah 24-27, or even in the brilliant visions of the future drawn by the second Isaiah (Isaiah 54:11-17; Isaiah 60-62; Isaiah 65:17-25 &c.)[304]; in Hosea, also, the figure of the Messiah is a shadowy one, hardly more than a resuscitated David (Hosea 3:5), and it is absent altogether from the picture of Israel’s future ideal felicity drawn in ch. 14. Thus while some prophets speak of a Messiah, others do not; there is no uniform practice on the subject; and whether or not the Messiah is referred to in a particular passage is a question which, antecedently, is perfectly open, and can be settled only by exegetical considerations. It has further been argued that coming with the clouds of heaven denotes ‘omnipotent judicial power.’ This, however, is far from being self-evident. It denotes certainly exaltation and majesty; but the judgement is completed (Daniel 7:10-12) before the ‘one like unto a son of man’ appears (Daniel 7:13), and the purpose for which he is brought to the Almighty is not to exercise judicial functions, but to receive a dominion which should never pass away (Daniel 7:14). The two verses which refer to him describe, not a judgement, but the solemn inauguration of a divine kingdom upon earth[305].

[304] The passages (Isaiah 42:1-4, &c.) speaking of Jehovah’s ideal Servant are in no contradiction with this statement: the ‘Messiah,’ or ‘Anointed One,’ is the ideal King of Israel (just as the actual king is called ‘Jehovah’s anointed,’ 1 Samuel 24:6, &c.); and the figure of the ideal Servant in Isaiah 40-66 (though equally fulfilled in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ) is something quite different from this. See the present writer’s Isaiah, his life and times, pp. 175–180.

[305] For a discussion of some other arguments on the same side, see Drummond, The Jewish Messiah (1877), pp. 226–241.

It has been disputed whether the figure like a son of man which appeared in the clouds of heaven came originally from heaven, or was lifted up from the earth. The dispute implies a misconception of the nature and limits of the symbolism. The four beasts appeared emerging from the sea, and yet it is certain that the kingdoms which they represented did not rise out of the sea likewise.

Though the title, however, it thus seems, does not in Daniel directly denote the Messiah, it was at an early date interpreted personally, and applied to him. The earliest example of this application is found in the ‘Similitudes’ of the apocryphal Book of Enoch (cc. 37–71), a part of this (composite) book, which is generally considered to date from the first century b.c.[306] The ‘Similitudes’ consist of a series of visions supposed to be seen by Enoch, in which is represented in particular the judgement to be finally passed upon the world. The imagery of the writer is in several instances suggested evidently by Daniel 7. Enoch is carried in his vision into heaven, where he sees the ‘Lord of Spirits’ (the Almighty), the ‘Elect One’ (the Messiah: Isaiah 42:1), in His immediate presence, and the angels, who, like the seraphim in Isaiah 6, eternally hymn the Creator (c. 39).

[306] According to Dillmann, from before b.c. 64; according to Mr Charles from either b.c. 94–79 or b.c. 70–64; according to Schürer, at the earliest from the time of Herod (b.c. 37–b.c. 4).

The general picture of the future, as exhibited in these visions, is as follows[307]: In the latter days sin will flourish in the world; and the kings and the mighty will oppress the people of God (lxii. 11). But suddenly the Head of Days (another title of the Almighty in this book, based on the “aged of days” of Daniel 7:13) will appear, and with Him the Son of Man (xlvi. 1–4), to execute universal judgement. All Israel will be raised from the dead (li. 1: cf. Daniel 12:2), and judgement on men and angels alike will be committed to the Son of Man (lxix. 27). The fallen angels will be cast into a fiery furnace (liv. 6); the kings and the mighty will be tortured in Gehenna by the angels of punishment (liii. 3–5, liv. 1, 2); and the remaining sinners and godless will be destroyed from the face of the earth (liii. 2, lxix. 27). Heaven and earth will be transformed (xlv. 4, 5; cf. Isaiah 65:17); and the righteous will become angels in heaven (li. 4), and dwell for ever in presence of the Elect One (xxxix. 6, xlv. 4).

[307] Cf. R. H. Charles, in Hastings’ Dict. of the Bible, i. 744.

This outline will be sufficient to indicate what details of the picture are derived from Daniel, and what details are new. Some passages in the description are however of sufficient interest to be quoted in full[308]:—

[308] From Mr Charles’ translation (Oxford, 1893).

xl. 1. ‘And after that I saw thousands of thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand, a multitude beyond number and reckoning, who stood before the Lord of Spirits’ (cf. Daniel 7:10; Revelation 5:11).

xlvi. 1. ‘And there I saw One who had a head of days, and His head was white like wool [Daniel 7:9], and with him was another being whose countenance had the appearance of a man, and his face was full of graciousness, like one of the holy angels. 2. And I asked the angel who went with me and shewed me all the hidden things, concerning that Son of Man, who he was, and whence he was, and why he went with the Head of Days. 3. And he answered and said unto me, “This is the Son of Man who hath righteousness, with whom dwelleth righteousness, and who reveals all the treasures of that which is hidden, because the Lord of Spirits hath chosen him, and his lot before the Lord of Spirits hath surpassed everything in uprightness for ever. 4. And this Son of Man whom thou hast seen will arouse the kings and the mighty ones from their couches and the strong from their thrones, and will loosen the reins of the strong and grind to powder the teeth of the sinners … 6. And he will put down the countenance of the strong, and shame will cover them.” ’

xlvii. 3. ‘And in those days I saw the Head of Days when He had seated Himself on the throne of His glory, and the books of the living were opened before him, and His whole host which is in heaven above and around Him stood before Him.’

li. 1. ‘And in those days will the earth also give back those who are treasured up within it, and Sheol also will give back that which it has received, and hell will give back that which it owes. 2. And he will choose the righteous and holy from among them; for the day of their redemption hath drawn nigh.’

The judgement is described most fully in ch. lxii.

lxii. 2. ‘And the Lord of the Spirits seated him (the Messiah) on the throne of His glory, and the spirit of righteousness was poured out upon him, and the word of his mouth slew all the sinners, and all the unrighteous were destroyed before his face. 3. And there will stand up in that day all the kings and the mighty, and the exalted, and those who hold the earth.… 5. And their countenance will fall, and pain will seize them when they see that Son of Man sitting on the throne of His glory.’ Then, when it is too late, they will be ready to acknowledge and worship the Son of Man; but ‘the angels of punishment’ will take them in charge and make them ‘a spectacle for the righteous and for His elect.’ The righteous and elect, however, ‘will be saved on that day and will never again from thenceforth see the face of the sinners and unrighteous. 14. And the Lord of Spirits will abide over them, and with that Son of Man will they eat and lie down and rise up for ever and ever.’

lxiii. The kings and the mighty make a further appeal for mercy to the angels of punishment; but it is without avail, and they are banished for ever from the presence of the Son of Man.

lxix. 29. ‘And from henceforth there will be nothing that is corruptible; for the Son of Man has appeared and sits on the throne of His glory, and all evil will pass away before his face and depart; but the word of the Son of Man will be strong before the Lord of Spirits[309].’

[309] The expressions used in Enoch lxix. 26, 29, lxx. 1, lxxi. 17 is ‘that Son of Man’ (referring back to xlvi. 1, quoted above), xlvi. 2, 4, xlviii. 2, lxii. 5, 9, 14, lxiii. 11, and ‘the Son of Man’ xlvi. 3, lxii. 7, lxix. 26, 27, 29, lxx. 1, lxxi. 17. In the other parts of the book this title is not found; the Messiah is alluded to (figuratively) in the section c. 83–90, at least in passing (xc. 37, 38), but as hardly more than an ordinary man, and without any supernatural powers or attributes: in cv. 2, also, he is spoken of by God as ‘My Son.’

Another development of Daniel 7:13 is found in the Second (Fourth) Book of Esdras, an apocalypse written most probably under Domitian (a.d. 81–96), though c. 13, by some critics, is assigned to a rather earlier date, before a.d. 70. In c. 13 of this book a dream is described, in which ‘a wind arose from the sea, that it moved all the waves thereof [cf. Daniel 7:2]. And I beheld, and lo, this wind caused to come up from the midst of the sea as it were the likeness of a man, and I beheld, and lo, that man flew with the clouds of heaven; and when he turned his countenance to look, all things trembled that were seen under him.’ Afterwards, an innumerable multitude of men ‘from the four winds of heaven,’ were gathered together, ‘to make war against the man that came out of the sea. And I beheld, and lo, he graved himself a great mountain, and flew up upon it.’ The multitudes then advance against him; he lifts up against them neither sword nor spear, but destroys them by a ‘flood of fire’ and ‘flaming breath’ proceeding out of his mouth, which in a moment reduces them to cinders. After this, he summons to himself another, peaceable multitude; but before what he is going to do with this has transpired the seer awakes (13:1–13). The interpretation of the vision follows (v. 21 ff.). The man coming up out of the sea is he whom the Most High has reserved to be a deliverer and a judge (i.e. though the word itself is not used, the Messiah): in those days cities and peoples will all be fighting against one another, but in the midst of these tumults ‘my Son will be revealed, whom thou sawest (as) a man ascending’; when the nations hear his voice, they will leave their own wars, and proceed to fight against him; but he will stand upon the top of Mount Sion, and rebuke and destroy them. The peaceable multitude is then explained to be the Ten tribes, who after their exile by the king of Assyria, had migrated into a still more distant region of the earth that they might keep the law of their God, but are now brought back to their own land (vv. 35–47).

The Messianic interpretation of Daniel 7:13 is also implied in the often quoted saying of R. Joshua ben Levi (c. 250 a.d.), the intention of which is to reconcile the apparently discrepant descriptions here and in Zechariah 9:9 : If Israel are worthy, he will come ‘with the clouds of heaven;’ if Israel are not worthy, he will come ‘afflicted and riding upon an ass[310].’ On the strength of the same interpretation, the Jews even identify the ‘Anânî (a name formed from ‘ânân, cloud, and signifying in appearance the ‘cloud-one’), who forms the close of the Davidic genealogy in 1 Chronicles 3:24, with the Messiah[311]. Another Rabbinical title of the Messiah, which perhaps presupposes the same explanation, is bar niphlê, if this is rightly explained as ‘filius νεφελῶν[312].’

[310] זכו ישראל עם ענני שמיא לא זכו עני ורוכב על חמור (Sanh. 98a, and elsewhere: see references in Dalman, Der Leidende und der Sterbende Messias der Synagoge, 1888, p. 38 n.).

[311] See, e.g., the (late) Targum on this passage: ‘… and Delaiah and Anani, that is, the Anointed King, who is to be revealed (הוא מלכא משיחא דעתיד לאתגלאה).’ Comp. Pearson, On the Creed, art. vii. fol. 292–3; and Dalman, l.c.

Levy, NHWB. iii. 422; Dalman, l.c. p. 37 f.; Die Worte Jesu, p. 201.

It is a question, however, how far the fact that the passage was thus interpreted, even in early times, by the Jews, is evidence as to its original meaning, and sufficient to neutralize the arguments in support of the other interpretation supplied by the book of Daniel itself. The passage is one which, taken alone, might readily give rise to the impression that the Messiah was intended; while early Jewish writers might easily neglect to make the comparison of other passages necessary to correct the impression. The ultimate decision of the question must depend upon the relative weight, which, in the reader’s opinion, ought to be attached to the primâ facie impression made by Daniel 7:13-14, and by what (to use Schürer’s words) “is said by the author distinctly and expressly in his interpretation of the vision, in Daniel 7:18; Daniel 7:22; Daniel 7:27[313].”

[313] The opinion that the ‘one like unto a son of man’ denotes the Messiah has been maintained in modern times not only by Häv., Hengst., Keil, Pusey, Zöckler, &c., but also by Von Lengerke, Ewald, Bleek (Jahrb. für Deutsche Theol. 1860, p. 58 n.), Hilgenfeld (Jüd. Apok. p. 45 f.), Riehm, Messianic Prophecy (Edinb. 1891), p. 193 ff., Behrmann; Schultz, O. T. Theol. ii. 439, also inclines to it: the view that it represents the people of Israel is in antiquity that of Ephrem Syrus, in modern times it has been defended by Hitzig, Hofmann (Weissagung u. Erfüllung, i. 290 f.), Bevan, Meinhold, Drummond, Stanton (Jewish and Christian Messiah, p. 109), Schürer (Gesch. des Jüd Volkes2, ii. 426 [E. T. ii. ii. 137]), Dalman (Die Worte Jesu, p. 197), Sanday (in Hastings’ Dict. of the Bible, ii. 622); cf. Farrar, pp. 249–51.

A consideration of the use and meaning of the term, ‘the son of man,’ in the N. T. does not belong properly to a Commentary on Daniel; nevertheless the subject is sufficiently germane to the present passage of Daniel for a few words on it not to be out of place here. The expression ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου is used frequently, both in the Synoptic Gospels and in St John, as a designation of Christ, but exclusively—for John 12:34 is hardly an exception—in the mouth of Christ Himself: elsewhere in the N.T.[314] it occurs only in the words of Stephen, Acts 7:56. There is no evidence that it was a current Jewish title of the Messiah[315]. It is commonly supposed to have been directly derived from Daniel 7:13. But, as Prof. (now Bishop) Westcott pointed out long ago[316], this is not quite correct. ‘In reality the passage (Daniel 7:13) in which the title is supposed to be found has only a secondary relation to it. The vision of Daniel brings before him not ‘the Son of man,’ but one ‘like a son of man.’ The phrase is general, and is introduced by a particle of comparison. The thought on which the seer dwells is simply that of the human appearance of the being presented to him’ (cf. above, ad loc.). ‘The son of man’ differs evidently from ‘one like a son of man.’ The former, it cannot reasonably be doubted, was chosen purposely by Jesus to express His own view of His office. It may be doubted, however, whether in its origin it was connected by Him with Daniel 7:13. It seems clearly to represent Him as the true child of man, the ideal son of the human race, the representative of humanity. It is used most frequently in passages which refer to the earthly work of the Lord in the time of His humility[317], especially where the thought is prominent of His lowliness, or physical weakness, or true humanity. These however are not the associations that would be naturally suggested by Daniel 7:13. But the title is used also on other occasions where the reference is to His future coming in glory (as Matthew 13:41; Matthew 16:27 f., Matthew 19:28, Matthew 24:27; Matthew 24:30; Matthew 24:37; Matthew 24:39; Matthew 24:44, Matthew 25:31, Matthew 26:64). It is, however, only in passages belonging quite to the close of our Lord’s ministry, viz. Matthew 24:30, ‘coming on the clouds of heaven’ ("" Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27), and Matthew 26:64 ("" Mark 14:62), that it is brought distinctly into connexion with Daniel 7:13. The passages in which the title is used of our Lord as Judge are strikingly similar to some of those quoted above from the Book of Enoch. But the more primary use and sense of the expression seem to lie in the first group of passages; and it is in these, it would seem, that its original meaning must be sought. The employment of the title in the second group of passages may have been suggested by its use in the Book of Enoch, or (in Matthew 24:30; Matthew 26:64 and "" "") by Daniel 7:13. And the reference in Matthew 24:30 may be not unreasonably held to imply that, as the ideal representative of Israel, our Lord claimed to fulfil the promise of dominion made to Israel (if the view adopted in this note is correct) in Daniel 7:14. But our Lord was not only ‘like a son of man,’ He was ‘the Son of man’; so that, even in so far as He bases His use of the term upon Daniel 7:13, He certainly reads into it a larger and fuller meaning than it there possesses. And it is a question whether the sense which He appears to attach to the title is not more naturally deducible from Psalm 8:4—a Psalm of which the theme is the contrast between the actual lowliness and the ideal dignity of man—than from Daniel 7:13.

[314] In Revelation 1:13; Revelation 14:14, there is no article in the Greek (see R. V.).

[315] Dalman, p. 197 ff., 204.

[316] Speaker’s Comm. on St John, p. 33 f.

[317] Westcott, l.c. p. 34 (§ 9), quotes and classifies the passages.

13, 14. The kingdom of the saints.

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.
14. A universal and never-ending dominion is given to him. The expressions in the first half of the verse resemble in part those used in Daniel 5:18-19 of Nebuchadnezzar. Serve does not necessarily mean worship: like the word which has the same meaning in Heb. (עבד), it may be used of obedience to either God (Daniel 3:12; Daniel 3:14 al.) or a human ruler (Daniel 7:27; and the Targ. of Jeremiah 27:6-8, &c.). With the second half of the verse comp. Daniel 2:44, and especially Daniel 4:3 b, 34 b (of the kingdom of God). All peoples, nations, &c., as Daniel 3:4.

I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.
15. As for me Daniel, my spirit was pained] or distressed: in modern English we should not say ‘grieved’ in such a connexion.

in the midst of the sheath] or, with a change of punctuation, its sheath, fig. for the body, as the soul’s sheath, or receptacle. The word is of Persian origin (nidâna, ‘vessel,’ ‘receptacle’): it occurs once again in late Heb., 1 Chronicles 21:27, of the sheath of a sword; and (in the form lidneh for nidneh) several times in the Targums (e.g. Ezekiel 21:8) in the same sense. Levy quotes two passages from the later Jewish literature where it is used in the same application as here: Sanh. 108a ‘that their soul should not return to its sheath,’ and B’rêshith Rabbâ § 26 (p. 118 in Wünsche’s transl.) ‘in the hour (viz. of resurrection) when I bring back the spirit to its sheath, I do not bring back their spirits to their sheaths.’ The usage is nevertheless a singular one; and these two passages may be simply based upon this one of Daniel. The emendation on this account (בגין דנה for בגו נדנה) has been proposed (Weiss, Buhl, Marti); and LXX. (ἐν τούτοις) may partly support it: it is, however, some objection to it that בגין, though found in the Palest. Targums, does not otherwise occur in Biblical Aramaic[271].

[271] Nestle would read simply ‘in my body’ (בגויתי, or בגושמי).

troubled] alarmed (Daniel 4:5). Visions of my head, as Daniel 7:1 and Daniel 4:5.

15–28. The explanation of the vision.

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.
16. one of them that were standing (there)] One of the angels that ‘stood’ before the Almighty (Daniel 7:10), who happened to be nearer than the others to Daniel himself. For the part of interpreter taken by an angel in a vision, cf. Zechariah 1:7 to Zechariah 6:8 passim; and the Apocalypses of Enoch and 2 Esdras. It is characteristic of the later prophecies: in the visions of the earlier prophets (as Amos 7, 8, Isaiah 6, Jeremiah 1, Ezekiel 2-5, 8, 9, &c.), Jehovah speaks Himself to the prophet. We have the transition in Ezekiel 40-48, where an angel conducts the prophet, and usually explains things to him (Ezekiel 40:3-4, &c.), though sometimes Jehovah also speaks Himself (Ezekiel 43:7-9, Ezekiel 44:2; Ezekiel 44:5, &c.).

of all this] better, concerning all this (R.V.).

These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.
17. The four beasts represent four kings, or (Daniel 7:23) four kingdoms, the ‘king’ in each case being not an individual king, but a typical king, embodying the characteristics of the empire ruled by him. The angel does not however dwell more fully on the ‘beasts,’ or interpret their symbolism; but hastens (Daniel 7:18) to explain the nature of the kingdom which is to succeed theirs.

But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.
18. The four kingdoms of the Gentiles will pass away; and be succeeded by the kingdom of the saints of the Most High, which will endure for ever. The saints of the Most High seem here, as also in Daniel 7:22; Daniel 7:27, to take the place of the ‘one like unto a son of man’ in Daniel 7:13, and to receive the same never-ending dominion.

the saints] lit. the holy ones; so Daniel 7:21-22; Daniel 7:25; Daniel 7:27; Daniel 8:24 (cp. Daniel 12:7). Cf. Psalm 16:3; Psalm 34:9. (The word is entirely different from the one (ḥasid) rendered ‘saints’ everywhere else in the Psalms, as Psalm 30:4; Psalm 31:23; Psalm 37:28, &c., and in 1 Samuel 2:9 [A.V.]; 2 Chronicles 6:41, Proverbs 2:8.) The term, in this application, is an extension of the use of the word ‘holy’ to denote Israel in its ideal character (Exodus 19:6; Leviticus 11:44-45; Leviticus 19:2; Leviticus 20:7; Leviticus 20:26; Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 14:2; Deuteronomy 14:21; Deuteronomy 33:3 and elsewhere).

the Most High] See on Daniel 3:26. The Hebraizing (and plural) form found here (עליונין) recurs Daniel 7:22; Daniel 7:25 (second time), 27. The plural is probably the so-called ‘plural of majesty,’ which we have, for instance, in the Heb. of ‘holy’ in Joshua 24:19, and Proverbs 9:10.

shall receive (Daniel 5:31) the kingdom] They will not establish it by their own power (cf. Daniel 7:27 ‘shall be given, &c.).

and possess the kingdom for ever, &c.] Cf. Daniel 7:14 b.

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;
19. Then I desired to know the truth concerning, &c. (R.V.)] ‘Would’ in Old English has often the sense of ‘willed,’ ‘desired’; but in modern English it is not strong enough in a passage like the present. Cf. will in W. A. Wright’s Bible Word-Book, who points out that in the A.V. it is sometimes more than a mere auxiliary verb: e.g. Matthew 11:27 ‘and he to whomsoever the Son will [R.V. willeth to] reveal him,’ Luke 13:31 ‘for Herod will [R.V. would fain] kill thee;’ John 7:17 (R.V. willeth to), 1 Timothy 5:11 (R.V. desire to). The case is similar with would, as Colossians 1:27, ‘To whom God would make known,’ &c. (R.V. ‘was pleased to make known,’—ἠθέλησεν γνωρίσαι), John 1:43 (also for ἠθέλησεν, R.V. was minded to)[272].

[272] See a useful little volume, Clapperton’s Pitfalls in Bible English (1899), p. 89.

The description of the fourth beast is in the main repeated from Daniel 7:7-8; but some traits are noticed here which were not mentioned before.

and his nails of bronze (Daniel 2:32)] Not in Daniel 7:7.

19–22. Daniel asks for further information respecting the fourth beast, and the means by which its power was broken.

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.
20. And concerning the ten horns that were on his head, and the other which came up, and before which, &c.] See Daniel 7:8.

even of that horn, &c.] and as regards that horn, it had eyes, &c.

very great things] great things: the expression is exactly the same as in Daniel 7:8.

whose look, &c.] whose appearance was greater than (that of) its fellows. The adj. is the usual one for ‘great’ in Aramaic. The horn, though called a ‘little’ one (Daniel 7:8), must be supposed to have grown rapidly to a portentous size: cf. esp. Daniel 8:9.

I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;
21. made war with the saints] Alluding to the violent efforts made by Antiochus Epiphanes to denationalize the Jews and to suppress their religion: cf. Daniel 7:25, Daniel 8:10-14; Daniel 8:24-25.

and prevailed against them] The war was a desperate one; and the ‘little horn’ would have conquered, had it not been for the intervention of the Most High (Daniel 7:22).

21–22. A recapitulation of the substance of Daniel 7:9-12, and of Daniel 7:13-14,—the latter in the phraseology of Daniel 7:18,—with a mention of the fact not noticed before, that a war with the ‘little horn’ had preceded the triumph of the saints.

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.
22. the Ancient of days] Daniel 7:9; Daniel 7:13.

judgement was given for, &c. (R.V. marg.)] i.e. was pronounced in their favour. Bevan and Kamph. agree, however, that Ewald was perhaps right in conjecturing that the words יתב ושלטנא have dropped out by homœoteleuton before יהב: the verse would then run, ‘and the judgement [sat, and dominion] was given to the saints,’ &c. (cf. Daniel 7:10 b, 14; 26, 27). The rendering to (with the existing text) means that judgement was committed into their hands (1 Corinthians 6:2), an idea alien to the present context: God Himself is here the judge, and by His judgement secures justice for His saints.

and the time came, and, &c.] The time appointed by God for the purpose. Cf. Daniel 7:18.

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.
23. shall be a fourth kingdom, &c.] The fourth beast represents a kingdom different in character from all the kingdoms, i.e. from any of the previous kingdoms, and far more terrible in its operation.

the whole earth] To be understood with the same limitations as when it is said (Daniel 2:39; cf. also on Daniel 4:1) that the Persian empire should include ‘the whole earth.’

tread it down] The word is used in Hebrew, and at least sometimes in Aramaic, of threshing (which was performed in ancient times by the feet of oxen, Deuteronomy 25:4): hence R.V. marg. ‘Or, thresh it.’ Cf. for the figure Micah 4:13; Isaiah 41:15.

23–27. The answer of the angel.

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.
24. The ten horns are ten kings.

and he (emph.) shall be diverse from the former ones] The king represented by the ‘little horn’ will differ from the others, viz. by being aggressive and presumptuous.

and he shall subdue three kings] put down (R.V.), as the same word is rendered in the A.V. of Daniel 5:19 and Psalm 75:7. Abase, bring down, lay low, is the idea of the word (Isaiah 2:12; Isaiah 25:11-12; Isaiah 26:5). Cf. Daniel 7:8. On the interpretation, see the Additional Note at the end of the Chapter.

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.
25. Expansion of the ‘great things’ of Daniel 7:8 end. He will blaspheme the Most High (cf. Daniel 11:36 ‘will speak marvellous things against the God of gods’), and seek to ruin His saints.

wear away] LXX, κατατρίψει. An expressive figure for continuous persecution and vexation. The idea of the word is to wear or rub away, applied often to clothes (Deuteronomy 8:4; Joshua 9:13; Isaiah 50:9, al.), though in the usual rendering of A.V., R.V., ‘wax old,’ this is unfortunately obliterated. Cf. Job 13:28 ‘and he, like a rotten thing, weareth (or falleth) away’; 1 Chronicles 17:9 ‘neither shall the children of unrighteousness any more wear them away’ (altered from the ‘afflict’ of 2 Samuel 7:10); Isaiah 3:15, Targ. ‘and the faces of the poor ye wear away’ (for Heb. grind).

think to change times and law] The phrase is worded generally; and it is true that Antiochus, according to 1Ma 1:41-42, sought to interfere arbitrarily even with heathen cults: but the allusion is more particularly to the attempts made by him to suppress the Jewish religion by prohibiting the observance of religious festivals and other ordinances of the Law (see 1Ma 1:44-49). ‘Think’ means plan or even hope, a sense which the word used has often in the Targums and in Syriac (Luke 24:21, Pesh.). For ‘times’ in the sense of fixed times (here, the times fixed for religious observances, the Hebrew mô’ădim, Leviticus 23:2; Leviticus 23:4 [R.V. set feasts], Isaiah 1:14 [A.V., R.V., appointed feasts], Isaiah 33:20 [A.V., R.V., solemnities]), see in the Targ. Genesis 1:14; Exodus 13:10; Exodus 23:15; Numbers 28:2; Isaiah 33:20 (for ‘solemnities’); Jeremiah 8:7. By ‘law’ is meant the Mosaic law, as Daniel 6:5.

until a time and times and half a time (R.V.)] The saints will be given into the hand of this godless king for three years and a half. ‘Time’ (a different word from that in the preceding clause, and in the note on Daniel 7:12 rendered season) has the same sense of year, which it had in Daniel 4:16 : the same expression (in its Hebrew form) recurs in Daniel 12:7 (also of the duration of Antiochus’ persecution); comp. also Revelation 12:14. For the particulars of Antiochus’ persecution, see the notes on Daniel 11:31. It began with the mission of Apollonius against Jerusalem, probably about June 168, and with the edict of Antiochus which was immediately afterwards put in force (1Ma 1:20-53); and it ended (substantially) with the re-dedication of the Temple, after its three years’ desecration, on the 25th of Chisleu [Dec.], 165 (1Ma 4:52 f.). This, in all probability, is the period of 3½ years which is here intended. The 3½ years might also, however, be reckoned from the erection of the heathen altar in the court of the Temple, on the 15th of Chisleu, b.c. 168, to the death of Antiochus, which took place probably about the middle of 164 (see on Daniel 8:14): the terminus a quo would then agree with that of the 1290 days in Daniel 12:11, and the two periods would be (approximately) the same; but the six months before December 168 are more likely to have been included in the period of persecution, than the six months after December 165, when the victories of Judas had stemmed the tide of the persecution, and public worship had been resumed in the Temple.

But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.
26. the judgement shall sit, &c.] Daniel 7:10 b, 11b.

they shall take away his dominion] or, his dominion shall be taken away (cf. Daniel 7:12).

to destroy and cause it to perish even unto the end] i.e. finally, for ever. ‘Even unto the end,’ as Daniel 6:26.

26–27. At the end of 3½ years his power will be taken away from him; and the persecuted saints will receive the kingdom of the entire world.

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.
27. of the kingdoms under the whole heaven] not merely the kingdom ruled by the ‘little horn,’ but all the kingdoms of the earth, will be given then to the saints of the Most High. ‘Under the whole heaven,’ as Deuteronomy 2:25; Deuteronomy 4:19; cf. Job 28:24; Job 37:3; Job 41:11.

its kingdom is, &c., … shall serve and obey it] The pronouns, as the context shews, must refer to ‘people,’ not to ‘the Most High.’ In this verse, even more distinctly than in Daniel 7:18; Daniel 7:22, the universal and never-ending dominion, which in Daniel 7:14 is given to the ‘one like unto a son of man,’ seems to be conferred upon the people of the saints. For the same idea, adapted to a N.T. standpoint, cf. Revelation 5:10 b, Revelation 11:15, Revelation 12:10, Revelation 22:5; also Revelation 20:4; Revelation 20:6.

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.
28. Concluding remark on the vision.

Hitherto] To this point: we should say Here (R.V.). Cf. Daniel 12:6, lit. ‘Until when shall be the end of the wonders?’

the end of the matter] i.e. of the entire revelation, including both the vision and the interpretation.

my thoughts much alarmed me] The expression, exactly as Daniel 4:19, Daniel 5:6; Daniel 5:10.

and my brightness was changed upon me] As Daniel 5:9; cf. Daniel 5:6; Daniel 5:10.

but I kept, &c.] Cf. Luke 2:19, and especially Luke 2:51.

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