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Particulars of Christianity:
314 End Times Prophecy (Eschatology)

Prophetic Symbols: Daniel 8 (Part 1)

Prophetic Symbols: Introduction
Prophetic Symbols: Daniel 2
Prophetic Symbols: Daniel 7 (Part 1)
Prophetic Symbols: Daniel 7 (Part 2)
Prophetic Symbols: Daniel 8 (Part 1)
Prophetic Symbols: Daniel 8 (Part 2)

Articles 7-12
Articles 13-18
Articles 19-25
Articles 26-29

In the previous chapter, Daniel 7, Daniel is given a vision of four beasts, which are said to represent both kings and their kingdoms (chapter 7:17,23). Likewise, Daniel 7:24 tells us that horns also represent kings. We have already listed several reasons from the text of Daniel 7 why horns represent contemporary kings, not a succession of kings, unless specified otherwise by the text.

In Daniel 8, a similar vision is given, in which Daniel is again shown a progression of earthly political power involving both beasts and horns. In our discussion of chapter 7, we stated that chapter 8 would do two things for us. First, it would give us the much needed clues to help us identify what kingdoms each of the four beasts from Daniel 7 represent. And second, we stated that chapter 8 would provide more corroborating evidence that, unless specified by the text, horns represent contemporary kings rather than a line or succession of kings.

Here is the text of Daniel 8 and the vision beheld by Daniel.

Daniel 8:1 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. 2 And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai. 3 Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last. 4 I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great. 5 And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. 6 And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power. 7 And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand. 8 Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven. 9 And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. 10 And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. 11 Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of the sanctuary was cast down. 12 And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered. 13 Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? 14 And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. 15 And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. 16 And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. 17 So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision. 18 Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright. 19 And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be. 20 The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. 21 And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. 22 Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power. 23 And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. 24 And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. 25 And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand. 26 And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days. 27 And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king's business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.

There are two principle entities depicted in this vision. The first is the two-horned ram initially described in verses 1-4. The second is the goat with one notable horn between its eyes that is introduced in verse 5. Later in the vision, Daniel is told directly and plainly who these two beasts represent.

Daniel 8:20 The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. 21 And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.

The ram represents the joint kingdom of Media and Persia. And the goat represents Greece. We should note that verse 4 describes the empire of Media-Persia saying that "no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand." Because no beast could withstand him, verse 4 concludes by saying that the ram "became great." Likewise, verse 7 tells us that the goat attacks the ram and that, "there was no power in the ram to stand before him" and "there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand." Similarly, verse 8 says of the goat, "the he goat waxed very great."

These descriptions of the ram and the goat are very similar to Revelation 13's description of the beast whose head is revived.

Revelation 13:3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. 4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?

In all three cases, (Media-Persia, Greece, and the revived beast of Revelation 13) this description that no one can stand against or make war against a beast refers to the rise of that kingdom to possess imperial dominion, particularly their military superiority at that given time over the other nations.

So, now that we know that Greece is the goat and Media-Persia is the ram, this also tells us something about the horns, particularly because we can now begin to make comparisons to the actual history of those two countries in the centuries that followed the book of Daniel.

Media-Persia is described as having two horns. And from verse 20 we know that one horn represents the kingship of Persia and the other the kingship of Media. But the two horns are not identical, for Daniel makes note in verse 3 that "one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last."

Here again, when these horns are not contemporary, Daniel tells us so directly ("and the higher came up last.") However, the fact that one of the horns is said to be higher than the other is a peculiar identifying detail that will become more important a short while later in our study.

Another item worth noting about this depiction of the two-horned ram is that in the case of Media and Persia, the two horns represent two kingdoms that come together to form the empire. Or in other words, the kingships of Media and Persia combine to create the beast depicted as a ram in the vision, which indicates that in this particular scenario, the horns actually precede the existence of the empire since it is their joint kingdom that becomes the powerful ram, which none can stand against. Thus, horns can precede the empires or beasts, which they are a part of.

And lastly, it is interesting to note that a single beast (the ram) is here being used to depict two kingdoms collectively, one which comes up in power after the other. This is similar to the statue of Daniel 2, which again is a single symbol representing a collection empires which arise in progression, one after another. This will become important as we continue to build a map legend using symbolic precedent.

Now, the story with Greece is even more informative. The Grecian goat is said to strike down the Media-Persian kingdom with the single notable horn between its eyes. Then, verse 8 says that at the very height of the goat's strength, the notable horn is broken off and four horns grow up toward the four winds of heaven to replace it. Verse 9 tells us that out of one of those four horns, a little horn will eventually grow. The activities of this little horn are described in verses 10-14, 23-25. The similarities between this "little horn" along with the "little horn" from the fourth beast of Daniel 7 and the king of the North in chapter 11 all indicate that this is the same figure being depicted in each case, namely the antichrist.

But verses 21-22 are where we want to turn our attention. Verse 21 tells us that the notable horn represents the first king of Greece. Verse 22 tells us that the four horns that arise to replace it are four kingdoms that shall come "out of the nation," out of the Greek empire. But, as verse 22 also tells us, none of those four kingdoms will have the power held by Greece during the reign of that first king.

Daniel 11 says very similarly.

Daniel 11:1 Also I in the first year of Darius the Mede, even I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him. 2 And now will I shew thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia. 3 And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. 4 And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those.

Now we can use these details and start making a comparison to known world history.

According to encyclopedia.com, Alexander waged war against Persia in 334 BC. By 333 BC he had entered Northern Syria and had routed Persian ruler Darius III who fled from the battle. He was in full command of Syria by 332 BC and then entered Egypt. After founding Alexandria in 331 BC, encyclopedia.com states that "He marched [south] to Babylon, then went to Susa and on to Persepolis, where he burned the palaces of the Persians and looted the city." Encyclopedia.com goes on to say, "He was now the visible ruler of the Persian Empire, pursuing the fugitive Darius to Ecbatana, which submitted in 330, and on to Bactria." However, in 323, Alexander became ill with a fever and died at 33 years of age. Encyclopedia.com describes what followed: "After his death his generals fell to quarreling about dividing the rule."

So, in less than four years, Alexander of Greece had conquered all of the Persian Empire, but then died before he even reached the age of 35. In the wake of his death, his empire was divided up among his generals, each ruling from different power bases within his former empire. This is identical to the vision in Daniel 8, which predicted that a powerful Greek king would quickly defeat the Media-Persian empire and then that king would be broken off in the height of his power and his kingdom would be divided into four nations, none of which would have his power. Alexander, then, is the first king of Greece.

Just as the Bible describes, when Alexander died, his empire was divided "to the four winds." Alexander's generals are known as the "diadochi," which is a Greek word meaning "successors." Originally there were several diadochi, but the 5 key players in the history after Alexander's death were: Antigonus, Ptolemy, Seleucus, Cassander, and Lysimachus.

Of these 5, the 3 greatest were Antigonus (who controlled Asia Minor, Syria, and Mesopotamia), Ptolemy (who controlled Egypt), and Seleucus (who controlled Babylonia). Then there was also Lysimachus who controlled Thrace, which included Byzantium, the later capital of Eastern Rome. And lastly, there was Cassander who was not one of the original diadochi, but was the son of Antipater who was. Cassander was king of Macedon and Greece, but was relatively weak compared to Antigonus, Ptolemy, and Seleucus.

Antigonus had the best chance of reforming Alexander's empire, but Ptolemy, Seleucus, Lysimachus, and Cassander formed a league and defeated him at Ipsus in 301 BC. The result was that in 300 BC, less than 25 years after Alexander's death, all that remained of Alexander's empire were four regions under the reign of Seleucus, Ptolemy, Cassander, and Lysimachus. Eventually, Lysimachus was himself defeated by Seleucus at Corupedion in Lydia in 281 BC after which the empire was effectively divided between what became the Seleucid dynasty (from Babylon and Syria) and the Ptolemaic dynasty (from Egypt).

This, of course, corresponds to Daniel 8's depiction that the Greek king's empire would be divided to four horns or rulers that would replace the first king, but not retain his strength. And, as far as our symbolic map legend is concerned, these historic details further corroborate that unless specifically stated in the text, horns represent contemporary kings and not a line or succession. In the case of Daniel 8, the four replacement horns represent the division of Alexander's empire to his generals, in particular Seleucus, Ptolemy, Lysimachus, and Cassander, who had formed a league against Antigonus to prevent the reforming of the empire and who by 300 BC had carved up the empire between the four of them. Furthermore, this is just as was stated in Daniel 11:4 that Alexander's kingdom will be divided but "not to his posterity."

Now, we also said that Daniel 8 would help us identify which empires the four beasts of Daniel 7 represent. First we should note that Daniel 5 actually tells us that the Medes were the ones who succeeded the Babylonians as the rulers of the empire.

Daniel 5:30 In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. 31 And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.

According to chapter 5:11, Belshazzar was descended from Nebuchadnezzar. Belshazzar was the last of the Babylonian kings. After his death, the kingdom passed to the Medes under the rule of Darius the Mede. In Daniel 6:11, we see that Daniel served in the kingdom of not only Darius the Mede, but his successor, Cyrus the Persian. (Daniel 8 then links the Medes and the Persians as a single beast or empire created by the joint power of the Mede and Persian kingships.) And Daniel 8 also tells us that Media-Persian empire would be defeated by Greece.

So, if we go back to Daniel 2, we see that in verse 38, Daniel declares that the head of gold corresponds to the time of the Babylonian kingdom (at that time under Nebuchadnezzar.) Then verse 39 of that same chapter speaks of the chest and arms representing the kingdom that would follow Babylon and the belly and thighs representing yet a third kingdom that would follow. Thanks to Daniel 5, Daniel 8, and a comparison of chapter 8 to history, we can now identify those two kingdoms. The chest and arms of silver represent the Media-Persian kingdom, which followed Babylon when the last Babylonian king (Belshazzar) died and his kingdom passed to Darius the Mede. The belly and thighs of brass represent Greece, which defeated the Persians under the leadership of Alexander the Great in 334-331 BC.

Now, Daniel 8 describes the strength of Media-Persia and the strength of Greece similarly, stating that when they rose to power "none could stand before them," "none could deliver out of their hands," and so, "they became great." But, Daniel 8:22 tells us that the immediate successors of the Greek empire did not have the strength of Alexander. So, we should not look to those four successors as the legs of iron, for they lacked the level of imperial strength that is indicative of the inheritors of the imperial dominion as ascribed by these phrases to Media-Persia and Greece in Daniel 8 and similarly to the revived head in Revelation 13. For this reason, most if not all Bible students identify Rome as the legs of iron. And, on this point, we agree.

Therefore, the order of the first four kingdoms is as follows: Babylon, Media-Persian, Greece, and Rome. This covers all but the feet of the statue in Daniel 2, which as something of the Roman iron legs left over as well as a new national entity represented by clay.

As we move on to identify the beasts of Daniel 7 using the details of Daniel 8, we should note that the vision in Daniel 7 occurs during the reign of the Babylonians, under king Belshazzar, before the kingdom passed to Darius the Mede.

Daniel 7:1 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.

This is significant because it means that, as in Daniel 2 where the first portion of the statue represented Babylon, the current reigning power, during Daniel 7, Babylon was still the current reigning power. If we were to overlook this fact, thinking from Daniel 5 that during Daniel 7 the Medes controlled the kingdom, we might misinterpret some of the groups represented in the vision by ruling out the possibility that Babylon is among those being depicted.

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