Daniel 8:1
In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, even to me Daniel, after that which appeared to me at the first.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
VIII

(1) The Hebrew language is here resumed. The visions recorded in the remaining portion of the book having no connection with Babylon, the Chaldee dialect is dropped.

Third year.—Most probably, not long before the end of his reign. This vision is supplementary to the one recorded in the preceding chapter, giving various details respecting the second and third empires there omitted, showing also how a “little horn” is to grow out of the third as well as out of the fourth empire.

At the firsti.e., earlier. (Comp. Daniel 9:21.)

Daniel 8:1. In the third year of King Belshazzar — Daniel’s former vision of the four great beasts, representing the four great empires of the world, took place in the first year of Belshazzar; now, in the third year of that king’s reign, he had another vision, which chiefly respected two of those empires. Thus God showed the same things to Daniel at different times, and under different symbols; doubtless in order that they might be more deeply impressed on his mind, and that he might more distinctly understand them in all their circumstances. We find God acting in the same manner with some of the other prophets, particularly Ezekiel, to whom he showed the destruction of Jerusalem by a great many different types, or symbols. This vision was communicated to Daniel about the year before Christ 553, according to Usher, Prideaux, and other chronologers.8:1-14 God gives Daniel a foresight of the destruction of other kingdoms, which in their day were as powerful as that of Babylon. Could we foresee the changes that shall be when we are gone, we should be less affected with changes in our own day. The ram with two horns was the second empire, that of Media and Persia. He saw this ram overcome by a he-goat. This was Alexander the Great. Alexander, when about thirty-three years of age, and in his full strength, died, and showed the vanity of worldly pomp and power, and that they cannot make a man happy. While men dispute, as in the case of Alexander, respecting the death of some prosperous warrior, it is plain that the great First Cause of all had no more of his plan for him to execute, and therefore cut him off. Instead of that one great horn, there came up four notable ones, Alexander's four chief captains. A little horn became a great persecutor of the church and people of God. It seems that the Mohammedan delusion is here pointed out. It prospered, and at one time nearly destroyed the holy religion God's right hand had planted. It is just with God to deprive those of the privileges of his house who despise and profane them; and to make those know the worth of ordinances by the want of them, who would not know it by the enjoyment of them. Daniel heard the time of this calamity limited and determined; but not the time when it should come. If we would know the mind of God, we must apply to Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; not hid from us, but hid for us. There is much difficulty as to the precise time here stated, but the end of it cannot be very distant. God will, for his own glory, see to the cleansing of the church in due time. Christ died to cleanse his church; and he will so cleanse it as to present it blameless to himself.In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar - In regard to Belshazzar, see Intro. to Daniel 5 Section II.

A vision appeared unto me - This vision appears to have occurred to him when awake, or in an ecstasy; the former one occurred when he was asleep, Daniel 7:1. Compare Daniel 8:17-18, where the prophet represents himself as overpowered, and as falling down to the earth on account of the vision. The representation would seem to have been made to pass before his mind in open day, and when he was fully awake. Compare the case of Balaam, Numbers 24:4 : "Which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open."

After what appeared unto me at the first - That occurred in the first year of Belshazzar, Daniel 7:1.

CHAPTER 8

Da 8:1-27. Vision of the Ram and He-Goat: The Twenty-three Hundred Days of the Sanctuary Being Trodden Down.

With this chapter the Hebrew part of the book begins and continues to be the language of the remainder; the visions relating wholly to the Jews and Jerusalem. The scene here narrows from world-wide prophecies to those affecting the one covenant-people in the five centuries between the exile and the advent. Antichrist, like Christ, has a more immediate future, as well as one more remote. The vision, the eighth chapter, begins, and that, the tenth through twelfth chapters, concludes, the account of the Antichrist of the third kingdom. Between the two visions the ninth chapter is inserted, as to Messiah and the covenant-people at the end of the half millennium (seventy weeks of years).

1. vision—a higher kind of revelation than a dream.

after that … at the first—that in Da 7:1.Daniel’s vision of the ram and he goat, Daniel 8:1-12. The days of suspension of the daily sacrifice, and desolation of the sanctuary, Daniel 8:13,14. Gabriel comforteth Daniel, and interpreteth the vision, Daniel 8:15-27.

This follows then in time after the former. Those things that were meet for the Chaldees to know are recorded by Daniel in that tongue; but now he writes in Hebrew, which lasts to the end of the book, because these things relate to the church of Christ, Jew and Gentile, to the end of the world.

In the other vision he speaks of all the four monarchies, here only of the three first; this vision being both as a part and a comment upon the first.

In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar,.... Which some say (t) was the last year of his reign; but, according to Ptolemy's canon, he reigned seventeen years; and so says Josephus (u); however, this, as well as the preceding vision, were seen before what happened recorded in the "fifth" and "sixth" chapters. The following vision was seen by Daniel, according to Bishop Usher (w) and Dean Prideaux (x) in the year of the world 3451 A.M., and 553 B.C. Mr. Bedford (y) places it in 552 B.C.; and Mr. Whiston (z), very wrongly, in 537 B.C., two years after the death of Belshazzar. The prophet having, in the preceding chapters, related what concerned the Chaldeans, he wrote in the Chaldee language; but now, henceforward, writing of things which concerned the Jews more especially, and the church and people of God in later times, he writes in the Hebrew tongue.

A vision appeared unto me, even to me Daniel; and not another; which is said for the certainty of it; whether it was seen by him waking, or in a dream, as the former vision, is not certain; it seems rather as if he was awake at first, though he afterwards fell prostrate to the ground, and into a deep sleep; yet the Syriac version takes it to be a dream, and so renders the first clause of the next verse: "after that which appeared to me at the first"; at the beginning of Belshazzar's reign, in the first year of it, recorded in the preceding chapter; which was concerning the four monarchies in general, and particularly concerning the fourth or Roman monarchy, of which a large account is given; and the Chaldean monarchy being near at an end, here the two monarchies between, namely, the Persian and Grecian, are in this vision described.

(t) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 28. p. 81. (u) Antiqu. l. 10. c. 11. sect. 4. (w) Annales Vet. Test. A. M. 3451. (x) Connexion, &c part 1. p. 117. (y) Scripture Chronlogy, p. 710. (z) Chronological Tables, cent. 10.

In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel, {a} after that which appeared unto me at the first.

(a) After the general vision, he comes to certain particular visions with regard to the destruction of the monarchy of the Persians, and Macedonians: for the ruin of the Babylonians was at hand, and also he had sufficiently spoken of it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. In the third year &c.] See the note on Daniel 7:1.

at the first] properly, at the beginning (Genesis 13:3; Genesis 41:21; Genesis 43:18; Genesis 43:20). The reference is to ch. 7 where the first of Daniel’s visions is recorded.Verses 1-27. - THE RAM AND THE HE-GOAT This chapter marks the change from Aramaic to Hebrew. The character of the chapter is like that which immediately precedes it. It consists, like it, of the account of a vision, and the interpretation of it. The subject of this vision is the overthrow of the Persian monarchy by Alexander the Great, the division of his empire, and the oppression of Israel by Epiphanes. Verse 1. - In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel, after that which appeared unto me at the first. The text of the Septuagint does not differ greatly from the Hebrew, but avoids the strange anarthrous position of anu, "I." The Septuagint renders this verse as a title to the chapter, thus: "A vision which I Daniel saw in the third year of the reign of Belshazzar (Beltasar), after that I saw formerly (πρώτην)." The Septuagint reading seems to have been asher r'oeh anee. Theodotion and the Peshitta are in verbal agreement with the Massoretic text. The third year of the reign of King Belshazzar. We learn now that Belshazzar did not reign independently; but that for at least five years he exercised all the functions of government. If Daniel's investiture with the position of third man in the kingdom took place on the occasion of Belshazzar's inauguration of his vice-regal reign, Daniel may have remained in the royal service continuously till the overthrow of the Babylonian monarchy. After that which appeared ,into me at the first. The former vision referred to is clearly the vision of the preceding chapter. Nebuchadnezzar commanded all the chief officers of the kingdom to be present at the solemn dedication of the image. שׁלח, he sent, viz., מלאכים or רצים messengers, 1 Samuel 11:7; 2 Chronicles 30:6, 2 Chronicles 30:10; Esther 3:15. Of the great officers of state, seven classes are named: - 1. אחשׁדּרפּניּא, i.e., administrators of the Khshatra, in Old Pers. dominion, province, and pâvan in Zend., guardians, watchers, in Greek Σατράπης, the chief representatives of the king in the provinces. 2. סגניּא, Hebr. סגנים, from the Old Pers. (although not proved) akana, to command (see under Daniel 2:48), commanders, probably the military chiefs of the provinces. 3. פּחותא, Hebr. פּחה, פחות, also an Old Pers. word, whose etymon and meaning have not yet been established (see under Haggai 1:1), denotes the presidents of the civil government, the guardians of the country; cf. Haggai 1:1, Haggai 1:14; Nehemiah 5:14, Nehemiah 5:18. 4. אדרגּזריּא, chief judges, from the Sem. גזר, to distinguish, and אדר, dignity (cf. אדרמּלך), properly, chief arbitrators, counsellors of the government. 5. גּדבריּא, a word of Aryan origin, from גּדבר, identical with גּזבּר, masters of the treasury, superintendents of the public treasury. 6. דּתבריּא, the Old Pers. dâta-bara, guardians of the law, lawyers (cf. דּת, law). 7. תּפתּיּא, Semitic, from Arab. fty IV to give a just sentence, thus judges in the narrower sense of the word. Finally, all שׁלטני, rulers, i.e., governors of provinces, prefects, who were subordinate to the chief governor, cf. Daniel 2:48-49.

All these officers were summoned "to come (מתא from אתא, with the rejection of the initial )א to the dedication of the image." The objection of v. Leng. and Hitz., that this call would "put a stop to the government of the country," only shows their ignorance of the departments of the state-government, and by no means makes the narrative doubtful. The affairs of the state did not lie so exclusively in the hands of the presidents of the different branches of the government, as that their temporary absence should cause a suspension of all the affairs of government. חנכּה is used of the dedication of a house (Deuteronomy 20:5) as well as of the temple (1 Kings 8:63; 2 Chronicles 7:5; Ezra 6:16), and here undoubtedly denotes an act connected with religious usages, by means of which the image, when the great officers of the kingdom fell down before it, was solemnly consecrated as the symbol of the world-power and (in the heathen sense) of its divine glory. This act is described (Daniel 3:3-7) in so far as the object contemplated rendered it necessary.

When all the great officers of state were assembled, a herald proclaimed that as soon as the sound of the music was heard, all who were present should, on pain of death by being cast into the fire, fall down before the image and offer homage to it; which they all did as soon as the signal was given. The form קאמין, Daniel 3:3, corresponds to the sing. קאם (Daniel 2:31) as it is written in Syr., but is read קימין. The Masoretes substitute for it in the Talm. The common form קימין; cf. Frst, Lehrgb. der aram. Idiom. p. 161, and Luzzatto, Elem. Gram. p. 33. The expression לקבל, Daniel 3:3, and Ezra 4:16, is founded on קבל, the semi-vowel of the preceding sound being absorbed, as in the Syr. l-kebel. On כּרוזא, herald, and on the form לכון, see under Daniel 2:5. אמרין, they say, for "it is said to you." The expression of the passive by means of a plural form of the active used impersonally, either participially or by 3rd pers. perf. plur., is found in Hebr., but is quite common in Chald.; cf. Ewald, Lehr. d. hebr. Spr. 128, b, and Winer, Chald. Gram. 49, 3. The proclamation of the herald refers not only to the officers who were summoned to the festival, but to all who were present, since besides the officers there was certainly present a great crowd of people from all parts of the kingdom, as M. Geier has rightly remarked, so that the assembly consisted of persons of various races and languages. אמּיּא denotes tribes of people, as the Hebr. אמּה, אמּות Genesis 25:16, denotes the several tribes of Ishmael, and Numbers 25:15 the separate tribes of the Midianites, and is thus not so extensive in its import as עמּין, peoples. לשּׁניּא, corresponding to הלּשׁות, Isaiah 66:18, designates (vide Genesis 10:5, Genesis 10:20, Genesis 10:31) communities of men of the same language, and is not a tautology, since the distinctions of nation and of language are in the course of history frequently found. The placing together of the three words denotes all nations, however they may have widely branched off into tribes with different languages, and expresses the sense that no one in the whole kingdom should be exempted from the command. It is a mode of expression (cf. Daniel 3:7, Daniel 3:29, 31[4:1], and Daniel 6:26[25]) specially characterizing the pathetic style of the herald and the official language of the world-kingdom, which Daniel also (Daniel 5:19; Daniel 7:14) makes use of, and which from the latter passage is transferred to the Apocalypse, and by the union of these passages in Daniel with Isaiah 66:18 is increased to ἔθνη (גּוים in Isa.), φυλλαι,́ λαοὶ καὶ γλῶσσαι (Revelation 5:9; Revelation 7:9; Revelation 13:7; Revelation 14:6; Revelation 17:15).

In the same passage זמנא בּהּ, Daniel 3:7 (cf. also Daniel 3:8), is interchanged with בּעדּנא, at the time (Daniel 3:5 and Daniel 3:15); but it is to be distinguished from בּהּ־שׁעתּא, at the same moment, Daniel 3:6 and Daniel 3:15; for שׁעא or שׁעה has in the Bib. Chald. only the meaning instant, moment, cf. Daniel 4:16, Daniel 4:30; Daniel 5:5, and acquires the signification short time, hour, first in the Targ. and Rabbin. In the enumeration also of the six names of the musical instruments with the addition: and all kinds of music, the pompous language of the world-ruler and of the herald of his power is well expressed. Regarding the Greek names of three of these instruments see p. 507. The great delight of the Babylonians in music and stringed instruments appears from Isaiah 14:11 and Psalm 137:3, and is confirmed by the testimony of Herod. i. 191, and Curtius, Daniel 3:3. קרנא, horn, is the far-sounding tuba of the ancients, the קרן or שׁופר of the Hebr.; see under Joshua 6:5. משׁרוקיתא, from שׁרק, to hiss, to whistle, is the reed-flute, translated by the lxx and Theodot. σύριγξ, the shepherd's or Pan's pipes, which consisted of several reeds of different thicknesses and of different lengths bound together, and, according to a Greek tradition (Pollux, iv. 9, 15), was invented by two Medes. קיתתס (according to the Kethiv; but the Keri and the Targ. and Rabbin. give the form קתרס) is the Greek κιθάρα or κίθαρις, harp, for the Greek ending ις becomes ος in the Aramaic, as in many similar cases; cf. Ges. Thes. p. 1215. סבּכא, corresponding to the Greek σαμβύκη, but a Syrian invention, is, according to Athen. iv. p. 175, a four-stringed instrument, having a sharp, clear tone; cf. Ges. Thes. p. 935. פּסנמּרין (in Daniel 3:7 written with a טinstead of תand in Daniel 3:10 and Daniel 3:15 pointed with a Tsere under the )ת is the Greek ψαλτήριον, of which the Greek ending ιον becomes abbreviated in the Aram. into ין (cf. Ges. Thes. p. 1116). The word has no etymology in the Semitic. It was an instrument like a harp, which according to Augustin (on Psalm 33:2 [Psalm 32:2] and Psalm 43:4 [Psalm 42:4) was distinguished from the cithara in this particular, that while the strings of the cithara passed over the sounding-board, those of the psalterium (or organon) were placed under it. Such harps are found on Egyptian (see Rosellini) and also on Assyrian monuments (cf. Layard, Ninev. and Bab., Table xiii. 4). סוּמפּניה, in Daniel 3:10 סיפניה, is not derived from ספן, contignare, but is the Aramaic form of συμφωνία, bag-pipes, which is called in Italy at the present day sampogna, and derives its Greek name from the accord of two pipes placed in the bag; cf. Ges. Thes. p. 941. זמרא signifies, not "song," but musical playing, from reemaz, to play the strings, ψάλλειν; and because the music of the instrument was accompanied with song, it means also the song accompanying the music. The explanation of זמרא by singing stands here in opposition to the זני כּל, since all sorts of songs could only be sung after one another, but the herald speaks of the simultaneous rise of the sound. The limiting of the word also to the playing on a stringed instrument does not fit the context, inasmuch as wind instruments are also named. Plainly in the words זמרא זני כּל all the other instruments not particularly named are comprehended, so that זמרא is to be understood generally of playing on musical instruments. בּהּ־שׁעתּא, in the same instant. The frequent pleonastic use in the later Aramaic of the union of the preposition with a suffix anticipating the following noun, whereby the preposition is frequently repeated before the noun, as e.g., בּדּניּאל בּהּ, Daniel 5:12, cf. Daniel 5:30, has in the Bibl. Chald. generally a certain emphasis, for the pronominal suffix is manifestly used demonstratively, in the sense even this, even that.

Homage was commanded to be shown to the image under the pain of death to those who refused. Since "the dominion of Nebuchadnezzar was founded not by right, but by the might of conquest" (Klief.), and the homage which he commanded to be shown to the image was regarded not only as a proof of subjection under the power of the king, but comprehended in it also the recognition of his gods as the gods of the kingdom, instances of refusal were to be expected. In the demand of the king there was certainly a kind of religious oppression, but by no means, as Bleek, v. Leng., and other critics maintain, a religious persecution, as among heathen rulers Antiochus Epiphanes practised it. For so tolerant was heathenism, that it recognised the gods of the different nations; but all heathen kings required that the nations subdued by them should also recognise the gods of their kingdom, which they held to be more powerful than were the gods of the vanquished nations. A refusal to yield homage to the gods of the kingdom they regarded as an act of hostility against the kingdom and its monarch, while every one might at the same time honour his own national god. This acknowledgement, that the gods of the kingdom were the more powerful, every heathen could grant; and thus Nebuchadnezzar demanded nothing in a religious point of view which every one of his subjects could not yield. To him, therefore, the refusal of the Jews could not but appear as opposition to the greatness of his kingdom. But the Jews, or Israelites, could not do homage to the gods of Nebuchadnezzar without rejecting their faith that Jehovah alone was God, and that besides Him there were no gods. Therefore Nebuchadnezzar practised towards them, without, from his polytheistic standpoint, designing it, an intolerable religious coercion, which, whoever, is fundamentally different from the persecution of Judaism by Antiochus Epiphanes, who forbade the Jews on pain of death to serve their God, and endeavoured utterly to destroy the Jewish religion. - Regarding the structure of the fiery furnace, see under Daniel 3:22.

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