Daniel 7:3
And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
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(3) Four great beasts.—The monstrous forms of the beasts are implied, rather than the hugeness of their size. Other instances of beasts being taken as emblems of kingdoms may be found in Isaiah 27:1; Ezekiel 29:3; Ezekiel 32:2. It must be observed that the beasts do not rise up simultaneously, but in succession to each other. In this way, and in the difference of their character, they form a parallel to the subject-matter of the vision recorded in Daniel 2.

7:1-8 This vision contains the same prophetic representations with Nebuchadnezzar's dream. The great sea agitated by the winds, represented the earth and the dwellers on it troubled by ambitious princes and conquerors. The four beasts signified the same four empires, as the four parts of Nebuchadnezzar's image. Mighty conquerors are but instruments of God's vengeance on a guilty world. The savage beast represents the hateful features of their characters. But the dominion given to each has a limit; their wrath shall be made to praise the Lord, and the remainder of it he will restrain.And four great beasts came up from the sea - Not at once, but in succession. See the following verses. Their particular form is described in the subsequent verses. The design of mentioning them here, as coming up from, the sea, seems to have been to show that this succession of kingdoms sprang from the agitations and commotions among the nations represented by the heaving ocean. It is not uncommon for the prophets to make use of animals to represent or symbolize kingdoms and nations - usually by some animal which was in a manner peculiar to the land that was symbolized, or which abounded there. Thus in Isaiah 27:1, leviathan, or the dragon, or crocodile, is used to represent Babylon. See the note at that passage. In Ezekiel 29:3-5, the dragon or the crocodile of the Nile is put for Pharaoh; in Ezekiel 32:2, Pharaoh is compared to a young lion, and to a whale in the seas. In Psalm 74:13-14, the kingdom of Egypt is compared to the dragon and the leviathan.

So on ancient coins, animals are often used as emblems of kingdoms, as it may be added, the lion and the unicorn represent Great Britain now, and the eagle the United States. It is well remarked by Lengerke (in loc.), that when the prophets design to represent kingdoms that are made up of other kingdoms, or that are combined by being brought by conquest under the power of others, they do this, not by any single animal as actually found in nature, but by monsters - fabulous beings that are compounded of others, in which the peculiar qualities of different animals are brought together - as in the case of the lion with eagle's wings. Thus in Revelation 13:1, the Romish power is represented by a beast coming out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, Compare it. Ezra (Apocry.) 11:1, where an eagle is represented as coming from the sea with twelve feathered wings and three heads. As an illustration of the attempts made in the apocryphal writings to imitate the prophets, the whole of chapter 11 and chapter 12 of the second book of Ezra may be referred to.

Diverse one from another - Though they all came up from the same abyss, yet they differed from each other - denoting, doubtless, that though the successive kingdoms referred to would all rise out of the nations represented by the agitated sea, yet that in important respects they would differ from each other.

3. beasts—not living animals, as the cherubic four in Re 4:7 (for the original is a different word from "beasts," and ought to be there translated, living animals). The cherubic living animals represent redeemed man, combining in himself the highest forms of animal life. But the "beasts" here represent the world powers, in their beast-like, grovelling character. It is on the fundamental harmony between nature and spirit, between the three kingdoms of nature, history, and revelation, that Scripture symbolism rests. The selection of symbols is not arbitrary, but based on the essence of things. That is, four great monarchies,

great in comparison of particular kingdoms that were little to them; beasts for their idolatry, and tyrannical oppressions and depredations. And four great beasts came up from the sea,.... Which are afterwards interpreted of four kings or kingdoms, Daniel 7:17, which rose up in the world, not at once, but successively, and out of the sea or world, through the commotions and agitations of it; and these are the four monarchies, Babylonian, Persian, Grecian, and Roman; compared to "beasts", because of the rapine and violence, cruelty, oppression, and tyranny, by which they were obtained, set up, supported, and maintained; and to "great ones", being not like single separate kingdoms, as the kingdom of Israel, and the like, but consisting of many kingdoms and nations, and so like beasts of an enormous size:

diverse one from another; in their situation, language, manner, strength, and power; hence expressed by divers sorts of beasts, as the lion, bear, leopard, &c.; as in Nebuchadnezzar's dream by different metals, gold, silver, brass, and iron.

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.).Verse 3. - And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The Septuagint rendering omits "great;" otherwise it is a closely accurate representation of the Massoretic text, save that the translator seems to have had, not דא מןאּדּא, but as in the Syriac, חדא מן־חדא, as he renders ε{ν παρὰ τὸ ἕν. Theodotion has μεγάλα, but does not so slavishly follow the Aramaic construction at the end. The Peshitta is very close to the Massoretic, save that in the last clause it agrees with the LXX. The number four is, in apocalyptic writings, significant of the world; "the four winds" mean the whole world. Here it is human history that is summed up in the four beasts. So in Zechariah we have "four horns" that symbolize the oppressors of the people of God (Daniel 1:18; Daniel 2:1). We have "four" chariots in the sixth chapter of Zechariah, which seem to be symbols of the same thing. Beasts. Animals of one sort or another are used of nations in the prophets; thus Egypt is symbolized in Isaiah 27, as "leviathan," presumably a crocodile (Isaiah 51:7), as "a dragon" in Ezekiel 29:3 Babylonia is figured as an eagle (Ezekiel 17:3). Composite beings are used as symbols also, as Tyro is addressed as a '"covering cherub." In the Book of Revelation Rome is figured as a beast with seven heads and ten horns (Revelation 13:1). In the Book of Enoch (85. - 90.) we find this figurative use of animals carried much further. Assyria and Babylonia and, following them, Persia made great use of composite, monstrous animal forms as symbols, not so much, however, of political as of spiritual powers. This distinction is the less important, that political events were regarded as the production of spiritual activity. The pronoun אנתּה (as for thee), as Daniel everywhere writes it, while the Keri substitutes for it the later Targ. form אנתּ, is absolute, and forms the contrast to the ואנה (as for me) of Daniel 2:30. The thoughts of the king are not his dream (Hitz.), but thoughts about the future of his kingdom which filled his mind as he lay upon his bed, and to which God gave him an answer in the dream (v. Leng., Maur., Kran., Klief.). Therefore they are to be distinguished from the thoughts of thy heart, Daniel 2:30, for these are the thoughts that troubled the king, which arose from the revelations of the dream to him. The contrast in Daniel 2:30 and Daniel 2:30 is not this: "not for my wisdom before all that live to show," but "for the sake of the king to explain the dream;" for בis not the preposition of the object, but of the means, thus: "not by the wisdom which might be in me." The supernatural revelation (לי (<) גּלי) forms the contrast, and the object to which דּי על־דּברת points is comprehended implicite in מן־כּל־חיּיּא, for in the words, "the wisdom which may be in me before all living," lies the unexpressed thought: that I should be enlightened by such superhuman wisdom. יהודצוּן, "that they might make it known:" the plur. of undefined generality, cf. Winer, 49, 3. The impersonal form of expression is chosen in order that his own person might not be brought into view. The idea of Aben Ezra, Vatke, and others, that angels are the subject of the verb, is altogether untenable.
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