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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Daniel 8

Verses 1-27

The Vision of the Ram and the He-Goat

In the third year of Belshazzar Daniel has a vision in which he seems to stand by the river Ulai, near Susa (Dan 8:1-2). He sees a two-homed ram which behaves aggressively for a time (Dan 8:3-4), but is attacked and overthrown by a he-goat which comes rapidly from the w, (Dan 8:5-7). The he-goat has a notable horn (Dan 8:5), which is presently broken, and instead of which four others come up (Dan 8:8). From one of these there springs a little horn, which


Daniel 2:0

Daniel 7:0

Compare Daniel 8:0

The Babylonian empire, or Nebuchadnezzar himself

The head of gold

The lion


The 'Median' empire, or Belshazzar

The breast and arms of silver

The bear


The Persian, or the Medo-Persian empire

The belly and thighs of brass

The leopard

The ram (the Medo-Persian empire)

The Greek empire of Alexander and his successors

The legs of iron and the feet of iron and clay

The beast with 10 horns

The he-goat

The Messianic kingdom

The stone cut from the mountain.

The human figure 'a son of man'


prospers greatly, and behaves arrogantly and wickedly, especially against the sanctuary and the continual burnt offering (Dan 8:9-12). An angel proclaims that its oppressions will last for 2,300 evenings and mornings (Dan 8:13-14). The angel Gabriel then explains the vision to Daniel (Dan 8:15-16). It relates to 'the time of the end' (Dan 8:17-19). The ram is the Medo-Persian empire (Dan 8:20), and the he-goat the Greek empire (Dan 8:21). The notable horn is the first Greek king (Alexander the Great), and the four horns which succeed it are the rulers of the four divisions of his empire (Dan 8:20-21). The little horn is a king of one of these divisions, and the description plainly points to Antiochus Epiphanes. Gabriel foretells his various acts of oppression and blasphemy and his sudden overthrow (Dan 8:23-25). The last two vv. contain Gabriel's parting message to Daniel, and describe the effect of the vision on the latter (Dan 8:26-27).

2. A vision] RV 'the vision.' Shushan.. the palace] Susa, the capital of the Persian kings (Nehemiah 1:1; Est 1:2). Elam] a region NW. of Persia proper, frequently mentioned in OT. (Genesis 10:22; Isaiah 11:11; Jeremiah 49:34, etc.). Ulai] the Eulæus, a large canal in the vicinity of Susa: cp. the 'Chebar' in Ezekiel's vision (Eze 1:3), and the 'Hiddekel' (Dan 10:4).

8. For it] RV 'instead of it.'

9. Pleasant (RV 'glorious') land] Palestine.

10. The host of heaven] the stars, symbolising in Daniel the righteous Israelites (Dan 12:3), some of whom were slain by Antiochus: see Daniel 8:24; Daniel 1Ma 1:24, 1Ma 1:30, 1Ma 1:57, 1Ma 1:63).

11. The prince of the host] God. And by him, etc.] RV 'And it took away from him' (God) 'the continual burnt offering': see Daniel 11:31; Daniel 1Ma 1:45, 1Ma 1:59. The place of his sanctuary was cast down] see 1Ma 1:21-23, 1Ma 1:39; 1Ma 3:45; 1Ma 4:38.

12. The rendering of this v. is uncertain. RV 'And the host' (of the Israelites) 'was given over to it' (the little horn)],'through transgression' (the apostasy of the heathen party in Jerusalem, 1Ma 1:11-15). Practised] RV 'did its pleasure.' Similarly in Daniel 8:24.

13. Saint] RV 'holy one,' angel: see Daniel 4:13. Transgression of desolation] see Daniel 9:27; Daniel 11:31; Daniel 12:11; Daniel 1Ma 1:54, 1Ma 1:59.

14. Days] RV 'evenings and mornings,' 1,150 days. The period between 1Ma 1:54 and 1Ma 4:52-53, when the Temple was cleansed, was 3 years and 10 days. The 1,150 days may be reckoned from a slightly earlier starting-point in the profane career of Antiochus.

16. Gabriel] the first mention in Scripture of an angelic name.

17. At the time of the end, etc.] RV 'The vision belongeth to the time of the end.' This defines the limit of Daniel's outlook upon the future. The termination of this vision is therefore that of all the visions in the book.

18. Was in] RV 'fell into': see Ezekiel 2:1, Ezekiel 2:2.

19. Last end] RV 'latter time.' Indignation] the troubles of Israel are tokens of God's displeasure: see Daniel 11:36; Daniel 1Ma 1:64. At the time appointed, etc.] RV 'It belongeth to the appointed time of the end.'

20. Kings of Media and Persia] The Medo-Persian empire is symbolised here by one animal, but its two portions are distinguished, and the Persian rule is regarded as succeeding the Median, since the higher of the two horns comes up last (Dan 8:3).

21. The king of Grecia(RV 'Greece')] 'King' is evidently used loosely for 'kingdom' (as in Dan 7:17), since the kings are particularised as horns in what follows. The first king] Alexander the Great.

22. Four kingdoms] those of Alexander's four generals—Macedonia, Thrace, Egypt, and Syria: see Intro. In his power] RV 'with his power.' These kingdoms were severally inferior to Alexander's empire.

23. A king of fierce countenance] Antiochus Epiphanes. Understanding dark sentences] skilled in deceitful intrigues.

24. Not by his own power] This rendering may mean 'by God's permission,' or, 'by craft rather than force.' But RM has, 'not with his' (Alexander's) 'power,' as in Daniel 8:22. Mighty] RV 'mighty ones.'

25. By peace] RV 'in their security.' Some of the worst outrages of Antiochus upon the Jews had this treacherous character: see Daniel 11:21, Daniel 11:24; Daniel 1Ma 1:29, 1Ma 1:30. The Prince of princes] God. Broken without hand] destroyed by God's power: cp. Daniel 2:34, Daniel 2:35.

26. Evening.. morning] RV 'evenings.. mornings.'. The reference is to Daniel 8:14.

Wherefore] RV 'but.' Shall he for many days] RV 'belongeth to many days to come,' to a future remote from Daniel's time.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Daniel 8". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.