Daniel 7:6
After this I beheld, and see another, like a leopard, which had on the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
(6) A leopard.—More correctly, a panther. On the great vigilance and swiftness of the panther, comp. Jeremiah 5:6; Hosea 13:7; Habakkuk 1:8. The third beast corresponds to the copper belly and thighs of the image (Daniel 2). It should be noticed that as unity characterises the first beast, and duality the second, so quadruplicity marks the third. It has four wings—wings as of a bird, not of an eagle—by which a degree of swiftness is implied inferior to that of the first beast. It has four heads, indicating four kingdoms, into which the third kingdom should develop itself. (Comp. Daniel 8:8, where the same predominance of the number “four” is to be observed.)

Daniel 7:6. After this I beheld, and lo, another like a leopard — “This third kingdom is that of the Macedonians, or Grecians, who, under the command of Alexander the Great, overcame the Persians, and reigned next after them: and it is fitly compared to a leopard upon several accounts. The leopard is remarkable for swiftness, and Alexander and the Macedonians were amazingly swift and rapid in their conquests. The leopard is a spotted animal, and so was a proper emblem, according to Bochart, of the different manners of the nations which Alexander commanded; or, according to Grotius, of the various manners of Alexander himself, who was sometimes merciful, and sometimes cruel; sometimes temperate, and sometimes drunken; sometimes abstemious, and sometimes incontinent. The leopard, as Bochart observes, is of small stature, but of great courage, so as not to be afraid to engage with the lion and the larger beasts; and so Alexander, a little king, in comparison, of small stature too, and with a small army, dared to attack the king of kings, that is, Darius, whose kingdom was extended from the Ægean sea to the Indies. Which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl — The Babylonian empire was represented with two wings, but this is described with four. For, as Jerome says, nothing was swifter than the victories of Alexander, who ran through all the countries from Illyricum and the Adriatic sea to the Indian ocean and the river Ganges, not so much fighting as conquering; and in six years (he should have said in twelve) subjugated part of Europe and all Asia to himself. The beast had also four heads — To denote the four kingdoms into which this same third kingdom should be divided, as it was after the death of Alexander, among his four captains; Cassander reigning over Macedon and Greece, Lysimachus over Thrace and Bithynia, Ptolemy over Egypt, and Seleucus over Syria. And dominion was given to it — Which shows, as Jerome observes, that it was not owing to the fortitude of Alexander, but proceeded from the will of the Lord. And, indeed, unless he had been directed, preserved, and assisted by the mighty power of God, how could Alexander, with thirty thousand men, have overcome Darius with six hundred thousand, and in so short a time have brought all the countries, from Greece as far as to India, into subjection.” — Bishop Newton.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.After this I beheld, and, lo, another, like a leopard - That is, as before, after the bear had appeared - indicating that this was to be a succeeding kingdom or power. The beast which now appeared was a monster, and, as in the former cases, so in regard to this, there are several circumstances which demand explanation in order to understand the symbol. It may assist us, perhaps, in forming a correct idea of the symbol here introduced to have before us a representation of the animal as it appeared to Daniel.

(a) The animal itself: "a leopard." The word used here - נמר nemar - or in Hebrew נמר nâmêr - denotes a panther or leopard, so called from his spots. This is a well-known beast of prey, distinguished for blood-thirstiness and cruelty, and these characteristics are especially applicable to the female panther. The animal is referred to in the Scriptures as emblematic of the following things, or as having the following characteristics:

(1) As next in dignity to the lion - of the same general nature. Compare Bochart, Hieroz. P. I. lib. iii. c. vii. Thus the lion and the panther, or leopard, are often united in the Scriptures. Compare Jeremiah 5:6; Hosea 13:7. See also in the Apocrypha, Ecclesiasticus 28:23. So also they are united in Homer, r

Ὄυτε οἶν παρδάλιος τόσσον μένος, ὄυτε λέοντος.

Oute oun pardalios tosson menos, oute leontos.

"Neither had the leopard nor the lion such strength."

(2) As distinguished for cruelty, or a fierce nature, as contrasted with the gentle and tame animal. Isaiah 11:6, "and the leopard shall lie down with the kid." In Jeremiah 5:6, it is compared with the lion and the wolf: "A lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities." Compare Hosea 13:7.

(3) As distinguished for swiftness or fleetness. Habakkuk 1:8 : "their horses are swifter than the leopards." Compare also the quotations from the classics in Bochart as above, p. 788. His fleetness is often referred to - the celerity of his spring or bound especially - by the Greek and Roman writers.

(4) As insidious, or as lying in wait, and springing unexpectedly upon the unwary traveler. Compare Hosea 13:7 : "As a leopard by the way will I observe them;" that is, I will "watch" (אשׁור 'âshûr) them. So Pliny says of leopards: Insidunt pardi condensa arborurn, occultatique earurn ramis in prcetereuntia desiliunt.

(5) They are characterized by their spots. In the general nature of the animal there is a strong resemblance to the lion. Thus, an Arabic writer quoted by Bochart, deflates the leopard to be "an animal resembling the lion, except that it is smaller, and has a skin marked by black spots." The proper idea in this representation, when used as a symbol, would be of a nation or kingdom that would have more nobleness than the one represented by the bear, but a less decisive headship over others than that represented by the lion; a nation that, was addicted to conquest, or that preyed upon others; a nation rapid in its movements, and springing upon others unawares, and perhaps in its spots denoting a nation or people made up, not of homogeneous elements, but of various different people. See below in the application of this.

(b) The four wings: which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl. The first beast was seen with the wings of an eagle, but without any specified number; this appears with wings, but without specifying any particular kind of wings, though the number is mentioned. In both of them celerity of movement is undoubtedly intended - celerity beyond what would be properly denoted by the animal itself the lion or the leopard. If there is a difference in the design of the representation, as there would seem to be by mentioning the kind of wings in the one case, and the number in the other, it is probable that the former would denote a more bold and extended flight; the latter a flight more rapid, denoted by the four wings. We should look for the fulfillment of the former in a nation that extended its conquests over a broader space; in the latter, to a nation that moved with more celerity. But there is some danger of pressing these similitudes too far. Nothing is said in the passage about the arrangement of the wings, except that they were on the back of the animal. It is to be supposed that there were two on each side.

(c) The four heads: "the beast had also four heads." This representation must have been designed to signify either that the one power or kingdom denoted by the leopard was composed of four separate powers or nations now united in one; or that there were four successive kings or dynasties that made up its history; or that the power or kingdom actually appeared, as seen in its prevailing characteristic, as a distinct dominion, as having four heads, or as being divided into so many separate sovereignties. It seems to me that either one of these would be a proper and natural fulfillment of the design of the image, though the second suggested would be less proper than either of the others, as the heads appeared on the animal not in succession - as the little horn sprung up in the midst of the other ten, as represented in the fourth beast - but existed simultaneously. The general idea would be, that in some way the one particular sovereignty had four sources of power blended into one, or actually exerted the same kind of dominion, and constituted, in fact, the one kingdom as distinguished from the others.

(d) The dominion given to it: "and dominion was given to it." That is, it was appointed to rule where the former had ruled, and until it should be succeeded by another - the beast with the ten horns.

In regard to the application of this, though the angel did not explain it to Daniel, except in general that a kingdom was represented by it. Daniel 7:17, it would seem that there could be little difficulty, though there has been some variety in the views entertained. Maurer, Lengerke, and some others, refer it to the Medo-Persian empire - supposing that the second symbol referred to the kingdom of Media. But the objections to this are so obvious, and so numerous, that it seems to me the opinion cannot be entertained, for


6. leopard—smaller than the lion; swift (Hab 1:8); cruel (Isa 11:6), the opposite of tame; springing suddenly from its hiding place on its prey (Ho 13:7); spotted. So Alexander, a small king, of a small kingdom, Macedon, attacked Darius at the head of the vast empire reaching from the Ægean Sea to the Indies. In twelve years he subjugated part of Europe, and all Asia from Illyricum and the Adriatic to the Ganges, not so much fighting as conquering [Jerome]. Hence, whereas Babylon is represented with two wings, Macedon has four, so rapid were its conquests. The various spots denote the various nations incorporated into his empire [Bochart]; or Alexander's own variation in character, at one time mild, at another cruel, now temperate, and now drunken and licentious.

four heads—explained in Da 8:8, 22; the four kingdoms of the Diadochi or "successors" into which the Macedonian empire was divided at the death of Alexander, namely, Macedon and Greece under Cassander, Thrace and Bithynia under Lysimachus, Egypt under Ptolemy, and Syria under Seleucus.

dominion … given to it—by God; not by Alexander's own might. For how unlikely it was that thirty thousand men should overthrow several hundreds of thousands! Josephus [Antiquities, 11.6] says that Alexander adored the high priest of Jerusalem, saying that he at Dium in Macedonia had seen a vision of God so habited, inviting him to go to Asia, and promising him success.


leopard was the Grecian monarchy; a leopard is less than a lion, so was this monarchy at first, but yet durst fight with a lion; so did Alexander encounter Darius with a force very small to the other. A

leopard also for his swiftness; therefore described with

four wings on his back.

The beast had also four heads, because his commanders that succeeded him were four of his chief commanders, that divided that empire into four parts between them; and these were the four heads to whom dominion was given, Ptolemy, Seleucus, Philippus, Antigonus, or, as others, Perdiccas and Meleager, Daniel 8:21,22. Dominion was given to it: Alexander did this by the mighty power of God; else how could he conquer Darius, that had six hundred thousand, with thirty thousand, and in so short a time go conqueror over Asia to the East Indies, I mean that part which now the Mogul possesseth, where he fought with Porus and beat him? After this I beheld, and, lo another, like a leopard,.... Another beast, another monarchy, a third monarchy succeeding the Persian monarchy, and which rose up on the ruins of that; Darius king of the Persians being beaten by Alexander king of Macedon, who was the instrument of setting up the Grecian monarchy here intended; compared to a leopard, a smaller creature than a lion; signifying that this monarchy arose from a small beginning; and a crafty one, Alexander having many wise counsellors of his father's about him, though he himself was rash and hasty; and a spotted one, denoting the various virtues and vices of Alexander, and his inconstancy in them; sometimes exercising the one, and sometimes the other; or rather the different nations, and the manners of them, he conquered, of which this empire consisted; not to say anything of the cruelty and swiftness of this creature, which are both to be observed in this conqueror:

which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; denoting the swiftness of Alexander in his conquests; who in a few years made himself master of the whole world, at least as he thought, whose empire was greater than that of Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans, to whom only two wings of an eagle are given, Daniel 7:4. Says Jerom,

"nothing was more swift than the conquest of Alexander, from Illyricum and the Adriatic sea, unto the Indian ocean, and the river Ganges; he rather ran through the world by victories than by battles, and in six years subdued part of Europe, all Asia even unto India,''

to which may be added all Egypt, Syria, and Palestine. Arimazes being master of a rock in Sogdiana, which was thought inaccessible and impregnable, Alexander sent a messenger to him to demand the delivery of it to him; but, among other things he proudly said, he asked the messenger, with a sneer, if Alexander could fly; which, when the messenger reported, nettled him much, that he should be insulted because he had not wings; and vowed that the next night he would make him believe that the Macedonians did fly; and accordingly they found ways and means to get to the top of it, which, when the governor saw, he declared that Alexander's soldiers had wings (f):

the beast also had four heads; which signify the four kingdoms into which the Grecian empire was divided after Alexander's death, under four of his generals, who were heads or governors of them: Macedonia under Antipater, or, as others, Cassander; Egypt under Ptolemy; Syria under Seleucus; and Asia under Antigonus, or, as others, Lysimachus:

and dominion was given to it; the dominion of the whole world, or, however, a very large dominion; and this was given of God, and according to his will, and the ordering of his providence; for to nothing else can it be ascribed, that with thirty thousand men Alexander should beat an army of six hundred thousand; and with such a handful of men subdue so many kingdoms and nations, and that in the space of a few years.

(f) Curt. Hist. l. 7. c. 11.

After this I beheld, and lo another, like a {h} leopard, which had upon the back of it {i} four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and {k} dominion was given to it.

(h) Meaning Alexander the king of Macedonia.

(i) That is, his four chief captains, which had the empire among them after his death. Selencus had Asia the great, Antigonus the less, Cassander and after him Antipater was king of Macedonia, and Ptolemeus had Egypt.

(k) It was not of himself nor of his own power that he gained all these countries: for his army contained only thirty thousand men, and he overcame in one battle Darius, who had one million, when he was so heavy with sleep that his eyes were hardly open, as the stories report: therefore this power was given to him from God.

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.’Verse 6. - 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. The LXX. rendering is shorter, "And after these things I saw another beast, like a leopard, and four wings stretched over it (ἐπέτεινον), and there were four heads to the beast." The grammar of this is difficult to understand. As it stands, it must be translated as above; if, however, we might read ἐπὶτεινον, we should avoid the solecism of uniting a neuter plural to a plural verb, rendering, "and it stretched," etc. Paulus Tellensis renders as above, and adds a clause, "and a tongue was given to it" - a reading to all appearance due to the transposal of ל and שׁ. It is difficult, on the present text, to explain how the LXX. rendered "wings of a fowl," "stretched over it." If, however, the original word were that used in the Peshitta, (paehatha), it is explicable that this should have been read פְרַשׁוּ. Theodotion and the Peshitta do not differ from the Massoretic text. The majority of critical commentators maintain this to be the Persian Empire. A leopard is a less animal than a bear, and therefore, according to the argument these critics used with regard to the second empire, it ought to mean that it symbolized a still smaller empire. That, however, is impossible. No Jew of the age of the Maccabees could have been under that impression. Moreover, we have the four wings declared to mean that the Persian power extended to all quarters of the world, and attention is directed to the fact that the statement is made concerning it, "dominion was given to it." This assumes, what would be admitted by everybody to be contrary to fact, had the critics not a further conclusion in view. The traditional interpretation is that the Hellenic Empire - that of Alexander the Great and his successors - is intended here. In defence of this we have the fact that four, as we have just said, is the numerical sign of the Greek power. In the following chapter we have the goat, with its one notable horn, which, on being broken off, is replaced by four. In the eleventh chapter we are told that Alexander's empire is to be divided to the four winds of heaven. But "wings" are not prophetically so much the symbol of extensive dominion, as of rapidity of movement. If Nebuchadnezzar (Ezekiel 17:3) is a great eagle with long wings, it is because of the rapidity of his conquests. Jeremiah says of his horses, they are "swifter than eagles." Again in Lamentations, "Our persecutors are swifter than eagles." Wings, then, symbolize swiftness of motion. If we turn to the next chapter, the swiftness of Alexander's conquests is the point that most impresses the seer. Swiftness, compared either with the conquests of Nebuchadnezzar or of Alexander, was not the characteristic of the Persian conquests. Cyrus, in the course of thirty years, had subdued Asia Minor, probably Armenia; had relieved Media, Elam, and Persia from the alien yoke of the Manda; and had conquered Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar, after the battle of Carehemish, had advanced to the river of Egypt. We do not know the extent and direction of his many campaigns, but rapidity of movement characterized some of them we do know, and Alexander's conquests were made with extreme rapidity. Altogether the figure seems much more suitable for the empire of Alexander than for that of the Persians. The description of the image according to its several parts is introduced with the absolute צלמא הוּא, concerning this image, not: "this was the image." The pronoun הוּא is made prominent, as דּנה, Daniel 4:15, and the Hebr. זה more frequently, e.g., Isaiah 23:13. חדוהי, plural חדין - its singular occurs only in the Targums - corresponding with the Hebr. חזה, the breast. מצין, the bowels, here the abdomen enclosing the bowels, the belly. ירכה, the thighs (hfte) and upper part of the loins. Daniel 2:33. שׁק, the leg, including the upper part of the thigh. מנהון is partitive: part of it of iron. Instead of מנהון the Keri prefers the fem. מנהן here and at Daniel 2:41 and Daniel 2:42, with reference to this, that רגליו is usually the gen. fem., after the custom of nouns denoting members of the body that are double. The Kethiv unconditionally deserves the preference, although, as the apparently anomalous form, which appears with this suffix also in Daniel 7:8, Daniel 7:20, after substantives of seemingly feminine meaning, where the choice of the masculine form is to be explained from the undefined conception of the subjective idea apart from the sex; cf. Ewald's Lehr. d. hebr. Sp. 319.

The image appears divided as to its material into four or five parts - the head, the breast with the arms, the belly with the thighs, and the legs and feet. "Only the first part, the head, constitutes in itself a united whole; the second, with the arms, represents a division; the third runs into a division in the thighs; the fourth, bound into one at the top, divides itself in the two legs, but has also the power of moving in itself; the fifth is from the first divided in the legs, and finally in the ten toes runs out into a wider division. The material becomes inferior from the head downward - gold, silver, copper, iron, clay; so that, though on the whole metallic, it becomes inferior, and finally terminates in clay, losing itself in common earthly matter. Notwithstanding that the material becomes always the harder, till it is iron, yet then suddenly and at last it becomes weak and brittle clay." - Klief. The fourth and fifth parts, the legs and the feet, are, it is true, externally separate from each other, but inwardly, through the unity of the material, iron, are bound together; so that we are to reckon only four parts, as afterwards is done in the interpretation. This image Nebuchadnezzar was contemplating (Daniel 2:34), i.e., reflected upon with a look directed toward it, until a stone moved without human hands broke loose from a mountain, struck against the lowest part of the image, broke the whole of it into pieces, and ground to powder all its material from the head even to the feet, so that it was scattered like chaff of the summer thrashing-floor. בידין לא דּי does not mean: "which was not in the hands of any one" (Klief.), but the words are a prepositional expression for without; ב לא, not with equals without, and דּי expressing the dependence of the word on the foregoing noun. Without hands, without human help, is a litotes for: by a higher, a divine providence; cf. Daniel 8:25; Job 34:20; Lamentations 4:6. כּחדה, as one equals at once, with one stroke. דּקוּ for דּקּוּ is not intransitive or passive, but with an indefinite plur. subject: they crushed, referring to the supernatural power by which the crushing was effected. The destruction of the statue is so described, that the image passes over into the matter of it. It is not said of the parts of the image, the head, the breast, the belly, and the thighs, that they were broken to pieces by the stone, "for the forms of the world-power represented by these parts had long ago passed away, when the stone strikes against the last form of the world-power represented by the feet," but only of the materials of which these parts consist, the silver and the gold, is the destruction replicated; "for the material, the combinations of the peoples, of which these earlier forms of the world-power consist, pass into the later forms of it, and thus are all destroyed when the stone destroys the last form of the world-power" (Klief.). But the stone which brought this destruction itself became a great mountain which filled the whole earth. To this Daniel added the interpretation which he announces in Daniel 2:36. נאמר, we will tell, is "a generalizing form of expression" (Kran.) in harmony with Daniel 2:30. Daniel associates himself with his companions in the faith, who worshipped the same God of revelation; cf. Daniel 2:23.

Daniel 7:6 Interlinear
Daniel 7:6 Parallel Texts

Daniel 7:6 NIV
Daniel 7:6 NLT
Daniel 7:6 ESV
Daniel 7:6 NASB
Daniel 7:6 KJV

Daniel 7:6 Bible Apps
Daniel 7:6 Parallel
Daniel 7:6 Biblia Paralela
Daniel 7:6 Chinese Bible
Daniel 7:6 French Bible
Daniel 7:6 German Bible

Bible Hub

Daniel 7:5
Top of Page
Top of Page