Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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.
Da 7:1-28. Vision of the Four Beasts.
This chapter treats of the same subject as the second chapter. But there the four kingdoms, and Messiah's final kingdom, were regarded according to their external political aspect, but here according to the mind of God concerning them, and their moral features. The outward political history had been shown in its general features to the world ruler, whose position fitted him for receiving such a revelation. But God's prophet here receives disclosures as to the characters of the powers of the world, in a religious point of view, suited to his position and receptivity. Hence in the second chapter the images are taken from the inanimate sphere; in the seventh chapter they are taken from the animate. Nebuchadnezzar saw superficially the world power as a splendid human figure, and the kingdom of God as a mere stone at the first. Daniel sees the world kingdoms in their inner essence as of an animal nature lower than human, being estranged from God; and that only in the kingdom of God ("the Son of man," the representative man) is the true dignity of man realized. So, as contrasted with Nebuchadnezzar's vision, the kingdom of God appears to Daniel, from the very first, superior to the world kingdom. For though in physical force the beasts excel man, man has essentially spiritual powers. Nebuchadnezzar's colossal image represents mankind in its own strength, but only the outward man. Daniel sees man spiritually degraded to the beast level, led by blind impulses, through his alienation from God. It is only from above that the perfect Son of man comes, and in His kingdom man attains his true destiny. Compare Ps 8:1-9 with Ge 1:26-28. Humanity is impossible without divinity: it sinks to bestiality (Ps 32:9; 49:20; 73:22). Obstinate heathen nations are compared to "bulls" (Ps 68:30); Egypt to the dragon in the Nile (Isa 27:1; 51:9; Eze 29:3). The animal with all its sagacity looks always to the ground, without consciousness of relation to God. What elevates man is communion with God, in willing subjection to Him. The moment he tries to exalt himself to independence of God, as did Nebuchadnezzar (Da 4:30), he sinks to the beast's level. Daniel's acquaintance with the animal colossal figures in Babylon and Nineveh was a psychological preparation for his animal visions. Ho 13:7, 8 would occur to him while viewing those ensigns of the world power. Compare Jer 2:15; 4:7; 5:6.
1. Belshazzar—Good Hebrew manuscripts have "Belshazzar"; meaning "Bel is to be burnt with hostile fire" (Jer 50:2; 51:44). In the history he is called by his ordinary name; in the prophecy, which gives his true destiny, he is called a corresponding name, by the change of a letter.
visions of his head—not confused "dreams," but distinct images seen while his mind was collected.
sum—a "summary." In predictions, generally, details are not given so fully as to leave no scope for free agency, faith, and patient waiting for God manifesting His will in the event. He "wrote" it for the Church in all ages; he "told" it for the comfort of his captive fellow countrymen.
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. the four winds—answering to the "four beasts"; their several conflicts in the four quarters or directions of the world.
strove—burst forth (from the abyss) [Maurer].
sea—The world powers rise out of the agitations of the political sea (Jer 46:7, 8; Lu 21:25; compare Re 13:1; 17:15; 21:1); the kingdom of God and the Son of man from the clouds of heaven (Da 7:13; compare Joh 8:23). Tregelles takes "the great sea" to mean, as always elsewhere in Scripture (Jos 1:4; 9:1), the Mediterranean, the center territorially of the four kingdoms of the vision, which all border on it and have Jerusalem subject to them. Babylon did not border on the Mediterranean, nor rule Jerusalem, till Nebuchadnezzar's time, when both things took place simultaneously. Persia encircled more of this sea, namely, from the Hellespont to Cyrene. Greece did not become a monarchy before Alexander's time, but then, succeeding to Persia, it became mistress of Jerusalem. It surrounded still more of the Mediterranean, adding the coasts of Greece to the part held by Persia. Rome, under Augustus, realized three things at once—it became a monarchy; it became mistress of the last of the four parts of Alexander's empire (symbolized by the four heads of the third beast), and of Jerusalem; it surrounded all the Mediterranean.
And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
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.
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. lion—the symbol of strength and courage; chief among the kingdoms, as the lion among the beasts. Nebuchadnezzar is called "the lion" (Jer 4:7).
eagle's wings—denoting a widespread and rapidly acquired (Isa 46:11; Jer 4:13; La 4:19; Hab 1:6) empire (Jer 48:40).
plucked—Its ability for widespread conquests passed away under Evil-merodach, &c. [Grotius]; rather, during Nebuchadnezzar's privation of his throne, while deranged.
it was lifted up from the earth—that is, from its grovelling bestiality.
made stand … as a man—So long as Nebuchadnezzar, in haughty pride, relied on his own strength, he forfeited the true dignity of man, and was therefore degraded to be with the beasts. Da 4:16: "Let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given unto him." But after he learned by this sore discipline that "the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men" (Da 4:35, 36), the change took place in him, "a man's heart is given to him; instead of his former beast's heart, he attains man's true position, namely, to be consciously dependent on God." Compare Ps 9:20.
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. bear—symbolizing the austere life of the Persians in their mountains, also their cruelty (Isa 13:17, 18; Cambyses, Ochus, and other of the Persian princes were notoriously cruel; the Persian laws involved, for one man's offense, the whole kindred and neighborhood in destruction, Da 6:24) and rapacity. "A bear is an all-devouring animal" [Aristotle, 8.5], (Jer 51:48, 56).
raised … itself on one side—but the Hebrew, "It raised up one dominion." The Medes, an ancient people, and the Persians, a modern tribe, formed one united sovereignty in contrast to the third and fourth kingdoms, each originally one, afterwards divided. English Version is the result of a slight change of a Hebrew letter. The idea then would be, "It lay on one of its fore feet, and stood on the other"; a figure still to be seen on one of the stones of Babylon [Munter, The Religion of Babylonia, 112]; denoting a kingdom that had been at rest, but is now rousing itself for conquest. Media is the lower side, passiveness; Persia, the upper, active element [Auberlen]. The three ribs in its mouth are Media, Lydia, and Babylon, brought under the Persian sway. Rather, Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt, not properly parts of its body, but seized by Medo-Persia [Sir Isaac Newton]. Called "ribs" because they strengthened the Medo-Persian empire. "Between its teeth," as being much grinded by it.
devour much flesh—that is, subjugate many nations.
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. 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.
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. As Daniel lived under the kingdom of the first beast, and therefore needed not to describe it, and as the second and third are described fully in the second part of the book, the chief emphasis falls on the fourth. Also prophecy most dwells on the end, which is the consummation of the preceding series of events. It is in the fourth that the world power manifests fully its God-opposing nature. Whereas the three former kingdoms were designated respectively, as a lion, bear, and leopard, no particular beast is specified as the image of the fourth; for Rome is so terrible as to be not describable by any one, but combines in itself all that we can imagine inexpressibly fierce in all beasts. Hence thrice (Da 7:7, 19, 23) it is repeated, that the fourth was "diverse from all" the others. The formula of introduction, "I saw in the night visions," occurs here, as at Da 7:2, and again at Da 7:13, thus dividing the whole vision into three parts—the first embracing the three kingdoms, the second the fourth and its overthrow, the third Messiah's kingdom. The first three together take up a few centuries; the fourth, thousands of years. The whole lower half of the image in the second chapter is given to it. And whereas the other kingdoms consist of only one material, this consists of two, iron and clay (on which much stress is laid, Da 2:41-43); the "iron teeth" here allude to one material in the fourth kingdom of the image.
ten horns—It is with the crisis, rather than the course, of the fourth kingdom that this seventh chapter is mainly concerned. The ten kings (Da 7:24, the "horns" representing power), that is, kingdoms, into which Rome was divided on its incorporation with the Germanic and Slavonic tribes, and again at the Reformation, are thought by many to be here intended. But the variation of the list of the ten, and their ignoring the eastern half of the empire altogether, and the existence of the Papacy before the breaking up of even the Western empire, instead of being the "little horn" springing up after the other ten, are against this view. The Western Roman empire continued till A.D. 731, and the Eastern, till A.D. 1453. The ten kingdoms, therefore, prefigured by the ten "toes" (Da 2:41; compare Re 13:1; 17:12), are the ten kingdoms into which Rome shall be found finally divided when Antichrist shall appear [Tregelles]. These, probably, are prefigured by the number ten being the prevalent one at the chief turning points of Roman history.
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. little horn—little at first, but afterwards waxing greater than all others. He must be sought "among them," namely, the ten horns. The Roman empire did not represent itself as a continuation of Alexander's; but the Germanic empire calls itself "the holy Roman empire." Napoleon's attempted universal monarchy was avowedly Roman: his son was called king of Rome. The czar (Cæsar) also professes to represent the eastern half of the Roman empire. The Roman civilization, church, language, and law are the chief elements in Germanic civilization. But the Romanic element seeks universal empire, while the Germanic seeks individualization. Hence the universal monarchies attempted by the Papacy, Charlemagne, Charles V, and Napoleon have failed, the iron not amalgamating with the clay. In the king symbolized by "the little horn," the God-opposing, haughty spirit of the world, represented by the fourth monarchy, finds its intensest development. "The man of sin," "the son of perdition" (2Th 2:3). Antichrist (1Jo 2:18, 22; 4:3). It is the complete evolution of the evil principle introduced by the fall.
three of the first horns plucked up—the exarchate of Ravenna, the kingdom of the Lombards and the state of Rome, which constituted the Pope's dominions at the first; obtained by Pope Zachary and Stephen II in return for acknowledging the usurper Pepin lawful king of France [Newton]. See Tregelles' objections, Da 7:7, "ten horns," Note. The "little horn," in his view, is to be Antichrist rising three and a half years before Christ's second advent, having first overthrown three of the ten contemporaneous kingdoms, into which the fourth monarchy, under which we live, shall be finally divided. Popery seems to be a fulfilment of the prophecy in many particulars, the Pope claiming to be God on earth and above all earthly dominions; but the spirit of Antichrist prefigured by Popery will probably culminate in ONE individual, to be destroyed by Christ's coming; He will be the product of the political world powers, whereas Popery which prepares His way, is a Church become worldly.
eyes of man—Eyes express intelligence (Eze 1:18); so (Ge 3:5) the serpent's promise was, man's "eyes should be opened," if he would but rebel against God. Antichrist shall consummate the self-apotheosis, begun at the fall, high intellectual culture, independent of God. The metals representing Babylon and Medo-Persia, gold and silver, are more precious than brass and iron, representing Greece and Rome; but the latter metals are more useful to civilization (Ge 4:22). The clay, representing the Germanic element, is the most plastic material. Thus there is a progress in culture; but this is not a progress necessarily in man's truest dignity, namely, union and likeness to God. Nay, it has led him farther from God, to self-reliance and world-love. The beginnings of civilization were among the children of Cain (Ge 4:17-24; Lu 16:8). Antiochus Epiphanes, the first Antichrist, came from civilized Greece, and loved art. As Hellenic civilization produced the first, so modern civilization under the fourth monarchy will produce the last Antichrist. The "mouth" and "eyes" are those of a man, while the symbol is otherwise brutish, that is, it will assume man's true dignity, namely, wear the guise of the kingdom of God (which comes as the "Son of man" from above), while it is really bestial, namely, severed from God. Antichrist promises the same things as Christ, but in an opposite way: a caricature of Christ, offering a regenerated world without the cross. Babylon and Persia in their religion had more reverence for things divine than Greece and Rome in the imperial stages of their history. Nebuchadnezzar's human heart, given him (Da 4:16) on his repentance, contrasts with the human eyes of Antichrist, the pseudo son of man, namely, intellectual culture, while heart and mouth blaspheme God. The deterioration politically corresponds: the first kingdom, an organic unity; the second, divided into Median and Persian; the third branches off into four; the fourth, into ten. The two eastern kingdoms are marked by nobler metals; the two western, by baser; individualization and division appear in the latter, and it is they which produce the two Antichrists.
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. I beheld till—I continued looking till.
thrones … cast down—rather, "thrones were placed" [Vulgate and Luther], namely, for the saints and elect angels to whom "judgment is given" (Da 7:22), as assessors with the Judge. Compare Da 7:10, "thousand thousands ministered unto Him" (Mt 19:28; Lu 22:30; 1Co 6:2, 3; 1Ti 5:21; Re 2:26; 4:4). In English Version the thrones cast down are those of the previously mentioned kings who give place to Messiah.
Ancient of days—"The everlasting Father" (Isa 9:6). He is the Judge here, as THE Son does not judge in His own cause, and it is His cause which is the one at issue with Antichrist.
sit—the attitude of a judge about to pass sentence.
white—The judicial purity of the Judge, and of all things round Him, is hereby expressed (Re 1:14).
wheels—as Oriental thrones move on wheels. Like the rapid flame, God's judgments are most swift in falling where He wills them (Eze 1:15, 16). The judgment here is not the last judgment, for then there will be no beast, and heaven and earth shall have passed away; but it is that on Antichrist (the last development of the fourth kingdom), typical of the last judgment: Christ coming to substitute the millennial kingdom of glory for that of the cross (Re 17:12-14; 19:15-21; 11:15).
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. thousand … ministered unto him—so at the giving of the law (De 33:2; Ps 68:17; Heb 12:22; Jude 14).
ten … thousand before him—image from the Sanhedrim, in which the father of the consistory sat with his assessors on each side, in the form of a semicircle, and the people standing before him.
judgment was set—The judges sat (Re 20:4).
books … opened—(Re 20:12). Forensic image; all the documents of the cause at issue, connected with the condemnation of Antichrist and his kingdom, and the setting up of Messiah's kingdom. Judgment must pass on the world as being under the curse, before the glory comes; but Antichrist offers glory without the cross, a renewed world without the world being judged.
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. Here is set forth the execution on earth of the judgment pronounced in the unseen heavenly court of judicature (Da 7:9, 10).
body … given to … flame—(Re 19:20).
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—that is, the three first, had passed away not by direct destroying judgments, such as consumed the little horn, as being the finally matured evil of the fourth beast. They had continued to exist but their "dominion was was taken away"; whereas the fourth beast shall cease utterly, superseded by Messiah's kingdom.
for a season … time—Not only the triumph of the beasts over the godly, but their very existence is limited to a definite time, and that time the exactly suitable one (compare Mt 24:22). Probably a definite period is meant by a "season and time" (compare Da 7:25; Re 20:3). It is striking, the fourth monarchy, though Christianized for fifteen hundred years past, is not distinguished from the previous heathen monarchies, or from its own heathen portion. Nay, it is represented as the most God-opposed of all, and culminating at last in blasphemous Antichrist. The reason is: Christ's kingdom now is not of this world (Joh 18:36); and only at the second advent of Christ does it become an external power of the world. Hence Daniel, whose province it was to prophesy of the world powers, does not treat of Christianity until it becomes a world power, namely, at the second advent. The kingdom of God is a hidden one till Jesus comes again (Ro 8:17; Col 3:2, 3; 2Ti 2:11, 12). Rome was worldly while heathen, and remains worldly, though Christianized. So the New Testament views the present æon or age of the world as essentially heathenish, which we cannot love without forsaking Christ (Ro 12:2; 1Co 1:20; 2:6, 8; 3:18; 7:31; 2Co 4:4; Ga 1:4; Eph 2:2; 2Ti 4:10; compare 1Jo 2:15, 17). The object of Christianity is not so much to Christianize the present world as to save souls out of it, so as not to be condemned with the world (1Co 11:32), but to rule with Him in His millennium (Mt 5:5; Lu 12:32; 22:28-30; Ro 5:17; 1Co 6:2; Re 1:6; 2:26-28; 3:21; 20:4). This is to be our hope, not to reign in the present world course (1Co 4:8; 2Co 4:18; Php 3:20; Heb 13:14). There must be a "regeneration" of the world, as of the individual, a death previous to a resurrection, a destruction of the world kingdoms, before they rise anew as the kingdoms of Christ (Mt 19:28). Even the millennium will not perfectly eradicate the world's corruption; another apostasy and judgment will follow (Re 20:7-15), in which the world of nature is to be destroyed and renewed, as the world of history was before the millennium (2Pe 3:8-13); then comes the perfect earth and heaven (Re 21:1). Thus there is an onward progress, and the Christian is waiting for the consummation (Mr 13:33-37; Lu 12:35, 36, 40-46; 1Th 1:9, 10), as His Lord also is "expecting" (Heb 10:13).
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. Son of man—(See on Eze 2:1). Not merely Son of David, and King of Israel, but Head of restored humanity (corresponding to the world-wide horizon of Daniel's prophecy); the seed of the woman, crushing Antichrist, the seed of the serpent, according to the Prot-evangel in Paradise (Ge 3:15). The Representative Man shall then realize the original destiny of man as Head of the creation (Ge 1:26, 28); the center of unity to Israel and the Gentiles. The beast, which taken conjointly represents the four beasts, ascends from the sea (Da 7:2; Re 13:1); the Son of man descends from "heaven." Satan, as the serpent, is the representative head of all that bestial; man, by following the serpent, has become bestial. God must, therefore, become man, so that man may cease to be beast-like. Whoever rejects the incarnate God will be judged by the Son of man just because He is the Son of man (Joh 5:27). This title is always associated with His coming again, because the kingdom that then awaits Him in that which belongs to Him as the Saviour of man, the Restorer of the lost inheritance. "Son of man" expresses His VISIBLE state formerly in his humiliation hereafter in His exaltation. He "comes to the Ancient of days" to be invested with the kingdom. Compare Ps 110:2: "The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength (Messiah) out of Zion." This investiture was at His ascension "with the clouds of heaven" (Ac 1:9; 2:33, 34; Ps 2:6-9; Mt 28:18), which is a pledge of His return "in like manner" in the clouds" (Ac 1:11; Mt 26:64), and "with clouds" (Re 1:7). The kingdom then was given to Him in title and invisible exercise; at His second coming it shall be in visible administration. He will vindicate it from the misrule of those who received it to hold for and under God, but who ignored His supremacy. The Father will assert His right by the Son, the heir, who will hold it for Him (Eze 1:27; Heb 1:2; Re 19:13-16). Tregelles thinks the investiture here immediately precedes Christ's coming forth; because He sits at God's right hand until His enemies are made His footstool, then the kingdom is given to the Son in actual investiture, and He comes to crush His so prepared footstool under His feet. But the words, "with the clouds," and the universal power actually, though invisibly, given Him then (Eph 1:20-22), agree best with His investiture at the ascension, which, in the prophetic view that overleaps the interval of ages, is the precursor of His coming visibly to reign; no event of equal moment taking place in the interval.
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.
I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.
15. body—literally, "sheath": the body being the "sheath" of the soul.
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.
These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.
17. kings—that is, kingdoms. Compare Da 7:23, "fourth kingdom"; Da 2:38; 8:20-22. Each of the four kings represents a dynasty. Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander, Antiochus, and Antichrist, though individually referred to, are representatives of characteristic tendencies.
But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.
18. the Most High—the emphatic title of God in this prophecy, who delegates His power first to Israel; then to the Gentiles (Da 2:37, 38) when Israel fails to realize the idea of the theocracy; lastly, to Messiah, who shall rule truly for God, taking it from the Gentile world powers, whose history is one of continual degeneracy culminating in the last of the kings, Antichrist. Here, in the interpretation, "the saints," but in the vision (Da 7:13, 14), "the Son of man," takes the kingdom; for Christ and His people are one in suffering, and one in glory. Tregelles translates, "most high places" (Eph 1:3; 2:6). Though oppressed by the beast and little horn, they belong not to the earth from which the four beasts arise, but to the most high places.
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. Balaam, an Aramean, dwelling on the Euphrates, at the beginning of Israel's independent history, and Daniel at the close of it, prophetically exhibit to the hostile world powers Israel as triumphant over them at last, though the world powers of the East (Asshur) and the West (Chittim) carry all before them and afflict Eber (Israel) for a time (Nu 23:8-10, 28; 24:2, 7-9, 22-24). To Balaam's "Asshur" correspond Daniel's two eastern kingdoms, Babylon and Medo-Persia; to "Chittim," the two western kingdoms, Greece and Rome (compare Ge 10:4, 11, 22). In Babel, Nimrod the hunter (revolter) founds the first kingdom of the world (Ge 10:8-13). The Babylonian world power takes up the thread interrupted at the building of Babel, and the kingdom of Nimrod. As at Babel, so in Babylon the world is united against God; Babylon, the first world power, thus becomes the type of the God-opposed world. The fourth monarchy consummates the evil; it is "diverse" from the others only in its more unlimited universality. The three first were not in the full sense universal monarchies. The fourth is; so in it the God-opposed principle finds its full development. All history moves within the Romanic, Germanic, and Slavonic nations; it shall continue so to Christ's second advent. The fourth monarchy represents universalism externally; Christianity, internally. Rome is Babylon fully developed. It is the world power corresponding in contrast to Christianity, and therefore contemporary with it (Mt 13:38; Mr 1:15; Lu 2:1; Ga 4:4).
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. look … more stout than … fellows—namely, than that of the other horns.
I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;
21. made war with the saints—persecuted the Church (Re 11:7; 13:7).
prevailed—but not ultimately. The limit is marked by "until" (Da 7:22). The little horn continues, without intermission, to persecute up to Christ's second advent (Re 17:12, 14; 19:19, 20).
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. Ancient of days came—The title applied to the Father in Da 7:13 is here applied to the Son; who is called "the everlasting Father" (Isa 9:6). The Father is never said to "come"; it is the Son who comes.
judgment was given to … saints—Judgment includes rule; "kingdom" in the end of this verse (1Co 6:2; Re 1:6; 5:10; 20:4). Christ first receives "judgment" and the "kingdom," then the saints with Him (Da 7:13, 14).
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.
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. ten horns—answering to the ten "toes" (Da 2:41).
out of this kingdom—It is out of the fourth kingdom that ten others arise, whatever exterior territory any of them possess (Re 13:1; 17:12).
rise after them—yet contemporaneous with them; the ten are contemporaries. Antichrist rises after their rise, at first "little" (Da 7:8); but after destroying three of the ten, he becomes greater than them all (Da 7:20, 21). The three being gone, he is the eighth (compare Re 17:11); a distinct head, and yet "of the seven." As the previous world kingdoms had their representative heads (Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar; Persia, Cyrus; Greece, Alexander), so the fourth kingdom and its Antichrists shall have their evil concentrated in the one final Antichrist. As Antiochus Epiphanes, the Antichrist of the third kingdom in Da 8:23-25, was the personal enemy of God, so the final Antichrist of the fourth kingdom, his antitype. The Church has endured a pagan and a papal persecution; there remains for her an infidel persecution, general, purifying, and cementing [Cecil]. He will not merely, as Popery, substitute himself for Christ in Christ's name, but "deny the Father and the Son" (1Jo 2:22). The persecution is to continue up to Christ's second coming (Da 7:21, 22); the horn of blasphemy cannot therefore be past; for now there is almost a general cessation of persecution.
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. Three attributes of Antichrist are specified: (1) The highest worldly wisdom and civilization. (2) The uniting of the whole civilized world under his dominion. (3) Atheism, antitheism, and autotheism in its fullest development (1Jo 2:22). Therefore, not only is power taken from the fourth beast, as in the case of the other three, but God destroys it and the world power in general by a final judgment. The present external Christianity is to give place to an almost universal apostasy.
think—literally, "carry within him as it were the burden of the thought."
change times—the prerogative of God alone (Da 2:21); blasphemously assumed by Antichrist. The "times and laws" here meant are those of religious ordinance; stated times of feasts [Maurer]. Perhaps there are included the times assigned by God to the duration of kingdoms. He shall set Himself above all that is called God (2Th 2:4), putting his own "will" above God's times and laws (Da 11:36, 37). But the "times" of His wilfulness are limited for the elect's sake (Mt 24:22).
given into his hand—to be persecuted.
time … times and … dividing of time—one year, two years, and half a year: 1260 days (Re 12:6, 14); forty-two months (Re 11:2, 3). That literally three and a half years are to be the term of Antichrist's persecution is favored by Da 4:16, 23, where the year-day theory would be impossible. If the Church, moreover, had been informed that 1260 years must elapse before the second advent, the attitude of expectancy which is inculcated (Lu 12:38; 1Co 1:7; 1Th 1:9, 10; 2Pe 3:12) on the ground of the uncertainty of the time, would be out of place. The original word for "time" denotes a stated period or set feast; or the interval from one set feast to its recurrence, that is, a year [Tregelles]; Le 23:4, "seasons"; Le 23:44, "feasts." The passages in favor of the year-day theory are Eze 4:6, where each day of the forty during which Ezekiel lay on his right side is defined by God as meaning a year. Compare Nu 14:34, where a year of wandering in the wilderness was appointed for each day of the forty during which the spies searched Canaan; but the days were, in these two cases, merely the type or reason for the years, which were announced as they were to be fulfilled. In the prophetic part of Nu 14:34 "years" are literal. If the year-day system was applied to them, they would be 14,400 years! In Eze 4:4-6, if day meant year, Ezekiel would have lain on his right side forty years! The context here in Da 7:24, 25, is not symbolical. Antichrist is no longer called a horn, but a king subduing three out of ten kings (no longer horns, Da 7:7, 8). So in Da 12:7, where "time, times, and half a time," again occurs, nothing symbolic occurs in the context. So that there is no reason why the three and a half years should be so. For the first four centuries the "days" were interpreted literally; a mystical meaning of the 1260 days then began. Walter Brute first suggested the year-day theory in the end of the fourteenth century. The seventy years of the Babylonian captivity foretold by Jeremiah (Jer 25:12; 29:10) were understood by Daniel (Da 9:2) as literal years, not symbolical, which would have been 25,200 years! [Tregelles]. It is possible that the year-day and day-day theories are both true. The seven (symbolical) times of the Gentile monarchies (Le 26:24) during Israel's casting off will end in the seven years of Antichrist. The 1260 years of papal misrule in the name of Christ may be represented by three and a half years of open Antichristianity and persecution before the millennium. Witnessing churches may be succeeded by witnessing individuals, the former occupying the longer, the latter the shorter period (Re 11:3). The beginning of the 1260 years is by Elliott set at A.D. 529 or 533, when Justinian's edict acknowledged Pope John II to be head of the Church; by Luther, at 606, when Phocas confirmed Justinian's grant. But 752 is the most likely date, when the temporal dominion of the popes began by Pepin's grant to Stephen II (for Zachary, his predecessor's recognition of his title to France), confirmed by Charlemagne. For it was then first that the little horn plucked up three horns, and so became the prolongation of the fourth secular kingdom [Newton]. This would bring us down to about A.D. 2000, or the seventh thousand millenary from creation. But Clinton makes about 1862 the seventh millenary, which may favor the dating from A.D. 529.
But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.
26. consume … destroy—a twofold operation. Antichrist is to be gradually "consumed," as the Papacy has been consuming for four hundred years past, and especially of late years. He is also to be "destroyed" suddenly by Christ at His coming; the fully developed man of sin (2Th 2:3) or false prophet making a last desperate effort in confederacy with the "beast" (Re 16:13, 14, 16) or secular power of the Roman empire (some conjecture Louis Napoleon): destroyed at Armageddon in Palestine.
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. greatness of the kingdom under … whole heaven—The power, which those several kingdoms had possessed, shall all be conferred on Messiah's kingdom. "Under … heaven" shows it is a kingdom on earth, not in heaven.
people of … saints of … Most High—"the people of the saints," or "holy ones" (Da 8:24, Margin): the Jews, the people to whom the saints stand in a peculiar relation. The saints are gathered out of Jews and Gentiles, but the stock of the Church is Jewish (Ro 9:24; 11:24); God's faithfulness to this election Church is thus virtually faithfulness to Israel, and a pledge of their future national blessing. Christ confirms this fact, while withholding the date (Ac 1:6, 7).
everlasting kingdom—If everlasting, how can the kingdom here refer to the millennial one? Answer: Daniel saw the whole time of future blessedness as one period. The clearer light of the New Testament distinguishes, in the whole period, the millennium and the time of the new heaven and new earth (compare Re 20:4 with Re 21:1 and Re 22:5). Christ's kingdom is "everlasting." Not even the last judgment shall end it, but only give it a more glorious appearance, the new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, with the throne of God and the Lamb in it (compare Re 5:9, 10; 11:15).
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. cogitations … troubled me—showing that the Holy Spirit intended much more to be understood by Daniel's words than Daniel himself understood. We are not to limit the significance of prophecies to what the prophets themselves understood (1Pe 1:11, 12).