INTRODUCTION TO DANIEL 8
This chapter contains the vision of a ram and he goat, and the interpretation of it. It begins with observing the time and place of the vision, Daniel 8:1, then describes the ram seen; by the place of his situation; by his two horns; and by his pushing several ways with so much force and fury, that none could stand before him, or deliver: out of his hands, Daniel 8:3 next the he goat appears, and is described by the part from whence he came; the swiftness of his motion; the notable horn between his eyes; and his running to ram in great fury, smiting him between his horns, casting him to the ground, and trampling upon him, and none to deliver, Daniel 8:5 but, after waxing great and powerful, its horn was broken, and four more rose up in its stead, and out of one of them a little horn, Daniel 8:8 which little horn is described by its power and prevalence to the south and to the east, towards the pleasant land, the host of heaven, and the Prince of the host; and by it the stars were cast down and trampled upon, the daily sacrifice made to cease; the place of the sanctuary cast down, and truth itself, Daniel 8:9, and upon inquiry it appeared that these sacred things were to continue in this desolate condition unto 2300 days, Daniel 8:13. Daniel being desirous of knowing the meaning of this vision, the Angel Gabriel is ordered by Christ to give him an understanding of it; who drew near to him, and awaked him out of his sleep, and gave him the interpretation of it; Daniel 8:15, which is as follows; the ram; with two horns, signifies the kings of Media and Persia; the rough goat, the king of Greece; and the great horn the first king, Alexander the great; and the four horns, four kingdoms which rose up out of the Grecian empire upon his death, Daniel 8:20, and the little horn a king of fierce countenance, Antiochus Epiphanes; who is, described by his craft, and cunning, by his power and might, and by the destruction he should make; Daniel 8:23, this vision the angel assures the prophet was true, and bids him shut it up, since it was for many days, Daniel 8:26, upon which Daniel fainted, and was sick for a time; but afterwards recovered, so as to be able to do the king's business; but astonished at the vision himself, and which was not understood by others, Daniel 8:27.
In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar,.... Which some say
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.
And I saw in a vision,.... The following things:
and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam; not in reality, but so it seemed to him in the vision; as Ezekiel, when in Babylon, seemed in the visions of God to be at Jerusalem, Ezekiel 8:3. This city Shushan, or Susa, as it is called by other writers, and signifies a "lily", was so called from the plenty of lilies that grew about it, or because of the pleasantness of it; it was the metropolis of the country Susiana, which had its name from it, and was afterwards the royal seat of the kings of Persia. This was first made so by Cyrus; for Strabo
And I saw in a vision, and I was by the river Ulai; that is, in vision; it seemed to the prophet that he was upon the banks of the river Ulai; the same with the Eulaeus of Strabo (b1), Pliny (c1), Ptolemy (d1), and others, which ran by, and surrounded, the city of Shushan, or Susa; the water of which was so light, as Strabo (e1) observes, that it was had in great request, and the kings of Persia would drink of no other, and carried it with them wherever they went. Herodotus (f1) and Curtius (g1) make mention of the river Choaspes, as running by Susa, and say the same things of its water; from whence it might be concluded it was one and the same river, called by different names; though Strabo takes notice of them together, as if they were distinct; yet he, from Polycletus (h1), makes them, with Tigris, to disembogue into the same lake, and from thence into the sea. The river which runs by Shushan, now called Souster, according to Monsieur Thevenot (i1), is Caron, and comes from the hills about it, and is thought to be the Choaspes of the ancients; near to which, as he was told, is a hill that now goes by the name of Choasp; so that, upon the whole, they seem to be one and the same river (k1). Josephus says (l1), that Daniel had this vision in the plain of Susa, the metropolis of Persia, as he went out with his friends, that is, out of the city: and the Vulgate Latin version renders it, "by the gate Ulai"; a gate of the city of Shushan so called: and so Saadiah Gaon interprets it a gate; but the former sense is best.
Then I lifted up mine eyes,.... To see what was to be seen in this place, where he in the vision was brought; he lifted up the eyes of his understanding, being enlightened by the vision of prophecy, and the eyes of his body, to which objects of corporeal things formed in the fancy were represented:
and saw, and, behold; he saw something wonderful in a visionary way, and which struck his mind, and raised his attention:
there stood before the river; the river Ulai, near Shushan, the palace, the seat of the kings of Persia, to the east:
a ram, which had two horns; a symbol of the kingdom of the Medes and Persians, signified by the two horns, Daniel 8:20, an emblem of power and dominion, and sometimes used to signify kings and kingdoms; see Daniel 7:24 and these as united in one monarchy, under one monarch, Cyrus, and continued in his successors unto the times of Alexander; and therefore called "a ram", or "one ram"
and the two horns were high; grew straight up on high, and so were different from the usual horns of a ram, which are crooked; denoting the great power, authority, wealth, and riches, these two kingdoms rose up unto:
but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last; I think the words might be rendered better, "and the first was higher than the second, but it ascended, or grew up, higher at last"
I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward,.... That is, with his horns, as rams do; these kingdoms using all their power and strength, wealth and riches, in fighting with and subduing nations, and pushing on their conquests in all parts here mentioned; to the west, Babylon, Syria, Asia, and part of Greece; to the north, Iberia, Albania, Armenia, Scythia, Colchis, and the inhabitants of the Caspian sea; and to the south, Arabia, Ethiopia, Egypt, and India; all which places were conquered by Cyrus and his successors. No mention is made of the east, because this ram stood in the east, facing the west; and at the right and left were the north and south; and so Cyrus is said to come from the east, Isaiah 46:11.
So that no beast might stand before him: no, not the first beast, the Babylonian monarchy, which; fell into the hands of Cyrus; nor any other king or kingdom he and his successors fought against:
neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; or power; Croesus, the rich king of Lydia, and other allies of the king of Babylon, assisted him against Cyrus, and endeavoured to prevent his falling into his hands, but all in vain:
but he did according to his will, and became great; none being able to oppose him, he carried his arms where he pleased, and imposed what tribute he thought fit, and obliged them to do whatever was his will; and so became great in power and dignity, in riches and wealth: this monarchy was very large and extensive, and very rich and wealthy, in the times of Cyrus and his successors; and especially in the times of Darius, the last monarch of it, conquered by Alexander, who is described as follows:
And as I was considering,.... The ram, and the strange things done by him; wondering that a creature of so little strength, comparatively with other beasts, should be able to do such exploits: and thinking with himself what should be the meaning of all this, and what would be the issue of it,
behold, an he goat came from the west; which is interpreted of the king or kingdom of Grecia, which lay to the west of Persia; and a kingdom may be said to do what one of its kings did; particularly Alexander, king of Macedon, in Greece, who, with the Grecian army under him, marched from thence to fight the king of Persia; and which might be signified by a "he goat", because of its strength, its comeliness in walking, and its being the guide and leader of the flock: and also it is remarkable, that the arms of Macedon, or the ensigns carried before their armies, were a goat, ever since the days of Caranus; who following a flock of goats, was directed to Edessa, a city of Macedon, and took it; and from this circumstance of the goats called it Aegeas, and the people Aegeades, which signifies "goats"; and put the goat in his arms
On the face of the whole earth; all that lay between Greece and Persia, all Asia; yea, all the whole world, at least as Alexander thought, who wept because there was not another world to conquer: hence Juvenal says
And touched not the ground; as he went; he seemed rather to fly in the air than to walk upon the earth; with such swiftness did Alexander run over the world, and make his conquests: in six or eight years time he conquered the kingdom of the Medes and Persians, Babylon, Egypt, and all the neighbouring nations; and afar off, Greece, Thrace, Illyricum, and even the greatest part of the then known world: hence the third or Grecian monarchy under him is said to be like a leopard, with four wings of a fowl on its back
And the goat had a notable horn between his eyes; or, "a horn of vision": which in Daniel 8:21 is interpreted of the first king of Greece, that is, when it became a monarchy; who was Alexander the great; and very properly called a "horn", being possessed of great power and authority; and a notable one, very remarkable and famous, as he has been in all ages since: "a horn of vision"
And he came to the ram that had two horns,.... Alexander being chosen and made by the states of Greece captain general of all Greece against the Persians, marched from thence with his army, passed the Hellespont, and entered into the kingdom of the Medes and Persians, signified by the ram with two horns, and came up to Darius Codomannus, possessed of this large monarchy, and at the head of a numerous army:
which I had seen standing before the river; the river Ulai, near to Shushan, the royal seat of the kings of Persia; here Darius stood in his royal majesty and dignity, as the defender of his empire, and unconcerned at the attempt of Alexander, having nothing to fear, as he thought, from such a puny adversary:
and ran unto him in the fury of his power; or, "heat of his power"
And I saw him come close unto the ram,.... Though the distance between Greece and Persia was very great, and many rivers and mountains in the way, which seemed impassable; Alexander got over them all, and came up to Darius, and fought several battles with him, and entirely defeated him, though greatly inferior in number to him, as follows:
and he was moved with choler against him; exceedingly embittered against him; exasperated and provoked to the last degree, by the proud and scornful message he sent him; calling himself king of kings, and akin to the gods, and Alexander his servant; ordering his nobles to take Philip's madding stripling, as he called him in contempt, and whip him with children's rods, and clothe him in purple, and deliver him bound to him; then sink his ships with the mariners, and transport all his soldiers to the further part of the Red sea
and smote the ram; in three battles, in each of which the Persians were smitten and routed by the Grecians: first at the river Granicus, where Alexander with thirty thousand foot, and five thousand horse, met the Persians, though more than five times his number, being, as Justin
and brake his two horns; conquered the Medes and Persians, the two kingdoms united in one monarchy, but now destroyed; another monarchy, the Grecian, took its place:
and there was no power in the ram to stand before him there was no strength in tim whole empire sufficient to resist, oppose, and stop him; though vast armies were collected together, these were soon broken and routed, and Darius at the head of them was forced to fly and make his escape in the best manner he could;
but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: not Darius personally, for he was slain by Bessus, one of his own captains; but the Persian empire, it ceased to be, and was no longer in the hands of the Persians, but was taken from them by Alexander; and all the glory and majesty of it were defaced and despised; the famous city and palace of Persepolis were burnt in a drunken fit, at the instigation of Thais the harlot:
and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand; not his armies, nor his generals, nor his allies, nor his offers to Alexander of his daughter in marriage, and part of his kingdom; all were in vain, and to no purpose; he and his whole empire fell into the conqueror's hands, and there was no remedy against it. Josephus
Therefore the he goat waxed very great,.... The Grecian monarchy, under Alexander, became very powerful, and was very extensive; he not only conquered the Persian empire, but also the Indies, yea, the whole world, as he imagined; and indeed he did bring into subjection to him the greatest part of the then known world; and he was very great in his own esteem, at least reckoned himself lord of the world, called himself the son of Jupiter Ammon, and affected to be worshipped as a god:
and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; when the Grecian monarchy was established, and became very powerful, and reached to the greatest part of the earth, then Alexander the first king of it, a great horn, and powerful monarch, died, or was broken; not as the two horns of the ram, by the power of the enemy; not by violence, but by intemperance, in a drunken fit, or, as was suspected, by poison; and that when he was in the height of his glory, swelled with his victories; and that in the prime of his days, when in his full strength, being in the "thirty third" year of his age:
and for it, or in the room and stead of it
came up four notable ones; or, "four horns of vision"
toward the four winds of heaven; east, west, north, and south: Egypt, with its appendages, lay to the south; Asia, and what belonged to that, to the north; Macedonia and Greece to the west; and Syria to the east: and thus was the Grecian empire divided into four kingdoms, among the successors of Alexander: there were some partitions of it before this into provinces among governors, under the brother and son of Alexander; but after the battle of Ipsus, in which Antigonus, one of Alexander's captains, and a very principal, active, and ambitious man, was slain, and his army routed; the four confederate princes against him, above named, divided by consent the empire between them into separate kingdoms, and became really, and not in title only, kings of them
And out of one of them came forth a little horn,.... Meaning not the kingdom of Titus Vespasian, as Jarchi; nor the kingdom of the Turks, as Saadiah; but the kingdom of Antiochia, as Aben Ezra and Jacchiades; or rather Antiochus Epiphanes, who sprung from the kingdom of the Seleucidae in Syria, or from Seleucus king of Syria, one of the four horns before mentioned: this is that sinful root said to come out from thence, in the Apocrypha:
"And there came out of them a wicked root Antiochus surnamed Epiphanes, son of Antiochus the king, who had been an hostage at Rome, and he reigned in the hundred and thirty and seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks.' (1 Maccabees 1:10)
called "a horn", because he had some power and authority, and which he usurped and increased in; though but a "little" one in comparison of Alexander the great horn; or at his beginning, being an hostage at Rome; from whence he got away by stealth, and seized the kingdom of Syria, which belonged to his elder brother's son, whom he dispossessed of it; and by mean, artful, and deceitful methods, got it into his hands, who had no right unto it, nor any princely qualities for it:
which waxed exceeding great toward the south; towards Egypt, which lay south of Syria; into which Antiochus entered, and fought against Ptolemy Philometer, king of it, took many cities, and besieged Alexandria; and in all probability would have subdued the whole country, had not the Romans
"17 Wherefore he entered into Egypt with a great multitude, with chariots, and elephants, and horsemen, and a great navy, 18 And made war against Ptolemee king of Egypt: but Ptolemee was afraid of him, and fled; and many were wounded to death. 19 Thus they got the strong cities in the land of Egypt and he took the spoils thereof. 20 And after that Antiochus had smitten Egypt, he returned again in the hundred forty and third year, and went up against Israel and Jerusalem with a great multitude,' (1 Maccabees 1)
and toward the east; towards Armenia and Persia, the Atropatii in Media, and the countries beyond the Euphrates, whom he made tributary to him; in the Apocrypha:
"Wherefore, being greatly perplexed in his mind, he determined to go into Persia, there to take the tributes of the countries, and to gather much money.' (1 Maccabees 3:31)
"1About that time king Antiochus travelling through the high countries heard say, that Elymais in the country of Persia was a city greatly renowned for riches, silver, and gold; 2And that there was in it a very rich temple, wherein were coverings of gold, and breastplates, and shields, which Alexander, son of Philip, the Macedonian king, who reigned first among the Grecians, had left there.' (1 Maccabees 6)
and toward the pleasant land; the land of Judea, so called because of its delightful situation, and great fruitfulness; and because God chose it above all others for his habitation; where his word, and worship, and ordinances, were observed and enjoyed; and where the Messiah should be born and dwell; into this Antiochus led his army, and greatly afflicted and distressed it; he made himself master of most places in Galilee and Judea. The Arabic version reads "toward the west"; no mention is made of the north, because there he himself reigned; Syria being north to Egypt, as that was south to Syria; hence afterwards the king of Egypt is called the king of the south, and the king of Syria the king of the north.
And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven,.... The people of the Jews, the army of the living God, the church militant, among whom were many of the citizens of heaven, whose names are written there; such was the insolence of this king, as to molest and disturb them:
and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped them; some of the common people he persecuted and destroyed, or prevailed upon them, either by threats or flatteries, to relinquish their religion; and even some of the "stars", the lights of the people, the priests and Levites, that ministered unto them; or the princes, and elders of the people, whom he slew, as Jacchiades interprets it; or removed from their posts so that they could not do their office; or they turned apostates; and those that did not he barbarously put to death, and insulted over them, and used them in a very contemptuous manner, as old Eleazar, the mother and her seven sons; see 2Maccabees chapter 7.
Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince host,.... Either the high priest Onias, whom he disposed of his office, and put Jason a wicked man into it; or Judas Maccabeus, the prince of the Jewish nation; or rather, as Jacchiades, God himself, the Lord God of Israel, the King, Prince, Governor, and defender of them, whom Antiochus blasphemed; whose worship he puts stop to; and whose temple he profaned, and ill used his people; all which was against God himself, and is a proof of the pride and insolence of this king:
and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away; the lambs in the morning and evening were forbid to be sacrificed; or they could not be offered, because the altar was pulled down, or profaned; and so all other sacrifices were made to cease, as well as this, which is put for all: or, "from him"
and the place of his sanctuary was cast down: not that the temple was destroyed by him, but it was profaned and rendered useless; the worship of God was not carried on in it, but the image of Jupiter was set up in it, and it was devoted to the service of an idol; yea, the altar was pulled down, and all the vessels and ornaments of the temple were taken away and destroyed; in the Apocrypha:
"And the table of the shewbread, and the pouring vessels, and the vials, and the censers of gold, and the veil, and the crown, and the golden ornaments that were before the temple, all which he pulled off.' (1 Maccabees 1:22)
"Now Jerusalem lay void as a wilderness, there was none of her children that went in or out: the sanctuary also was trodden down, and aliens kept the strong hold; the heathen had their habitation in that place; and joy was taken from Jacob, and the pipe with the harp ceased.' (1 Maccabees 3:45)
"And lo, the heathen are assembled together against us to destroy us: what things they imagine against us, thou knowest.' (1 Maccabees 3:52)
And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression,.... Which some interpret of a garrison of soldiers placed by Antiochus, through his sin and wickedness, to hinder the oblation of the daily sacrifice, as Grotius: others, of a host of apostates among the Jews, who advised Antiochus against the daily sacrifice, and to kill swine, and offer them on the altar, as Jacchiades; or rather it may be rendered, "and the host was given over", or "delivered", i.e. to the enemy, "because of the transgression against the daily sacrifice"
and it cast down the truth to the ground: that is, the little horn Antiochus, or his host and army; he did all that in him lay to extirpate and abolish true religion and godliness; he cut in pieces the copies of the book of the law, and burnt them, called the law of truth in Malachi 2:6, as Jacchiades observes, and put to death the professors of the truth; and showed all the contempt of true doctrine and worship he was capable of; see the Apocrypha:
"57 And whosoever was found with any the book of the testament, or if any committed to the law, the king's commandment was, that they should put him to death. 58 Thus did they by their authority unto the Israelites every month, to as many as were found in the cities. 59 Now the five and twentieth day of the month they did sacrifice upon the idol altar, which was upon the altar of God. 60 At which time according to the commandment they put to death certain women, that had caused their children to be circumcised.' (1 Maccabees 1)
and it practised, and prospered; he did what he pleased, and he succeeded in his attempts for a while, there being none to oppose him.
Then I heard one saint speaking,.... An angel, either a created angel, pure and holy in his nature, as Gabriel; or the uncreated Angel Jesus Christ, the Word of God; what he was speaking of is not said; perhaps Daniel did not hear what he said, though he heard him speaking, or perceived that he spake; yet did not understand what he said, or what was the subject of his discourse; very probably it was something relative to the vision now seen:
and another saint said unto that certain saint that spake; another angel said to him that spake, whose name is unknown, only called such an one, or Palmoni, which some render "the wonderful numberer"; or, "the numberer of secrets", or "that has all secrets numbered"
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 underfoot? that is, how long will this vision last? or when will this prophecy be at an end, and have its full and final accomplishment? how long will the sacrifice be taken away, or made to cease? how long will that transgression, that abomination, making the temple desolate, the image of Jupiter Olympius set up by Antiochus, continue in it? how long shall it be given to him, or he be permitted to tread under foot, and use in the most contemptuous manner, the temple of the Lord, and his people?
And he said unto me,.... That is, "Palmoni", the wonderful person, to whom the angel put the above question, gave the answer to it; not unto the angel that asked it, but unto Daniel that stood by; knowing that it was for his and his people's sake the question was asked, and therefore gave the answer to him, as follows:
unto two thousand and three hundred days; or so many "mornings" and "evenings"
"Now the five and twentieth day of the month they did sacrifice upon the idol altar, which was upon the altar of God.' (1 Maccabees 1:59)
to the victory obtained over Nicanor by Judas, on the thirteenth day of the month Adar, Anno 151, are just 2300 days; which day the Jews kept as an annual feast, in commemoration of that victory; and from that time enjoyed peace and rest from war
"Now on the five and twentieth day of the ninth month, which is called the month Casleu, in the hundred forty and eighth year, they rose up betimes in the morning, 53And offered sacrifice according to the law upon the new altar of burnt offerings, which they had made. ' (1 Maccabees 4:52)
were just six years, three months, and eighteen days: and so it follows,
and then shall the sanctuary be cleansed; as it was by Judas Maccabeus at the time above mentioned; when he purified the holy places, sanctified the courts, rebuilt the altar, renewed the vessels of the sanctuary, and put all in their proper places; in the Apocrypha:
"41Then Judas appointed certain men to fight against those that were in the fortress, until he had cleansed the sanctuary. 42So he chose priests of blameless conversation, such as had pleasure in the law: 43Who cleansed the sanctuary, and bare out the defiled stones into an unclean place. 44And when as they consulted what to do with the altar of burnt offerings, which was profaned; 45 They thought it best to pull it down, lest it should be a reproach to them, because the heathen had defiled it: wherefore they pulled it down, 46 And laid up the stones in the mountain of the temple in a convenient place, until there should come a prophet to shew what should be done with them. 47 Then they took whole stones according to the law, and built a new altar according to the former; 48 And made up the sanctuary, and the things that were within the temple, and hallowed the courts. 49 They made also new holy vessels, and into the temple they brought the candlestick, and the altar of burnt offerings, and of incense, and the table. 50 And upon the altar they burned incense, and the lamps that were upon the candlestick they lighted, that they might give light in the temple. 51Furthermore they set the loaves upon the table, and spread out the veils, and finished all the works which they had begun to make.' (1 Maccabees 4)
Indeed, as Antiochus was a type of antichrist, and his persecution of that desolation made by antichrist in the church; these 2300 days may be considered as so many years, which will bring it down to the end of the sixth Millennium, or thereabout; when it may be hoped there will be a new face of things upon the sanctuary and church of God, and a cleansing of it from all corruption in doctrine, discipline, worship, and conversation.
And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision,.... The whole of the preceding vision, concerning the ram, he goat, and little horn, and what were done by them; the prophet not only affirms he saw this vision, but repeats the affirmation, expressing his own name, partly for the sake of emphasis, and partly for the greater confirmation of his words; wherefore it was a most impudent thing Porphyry to say, that the true Daniel never saw this vision; but what is here related was written after Antiochus's reign, and falsely ascribed to him. It being so clear a prophecy concerning Alexander, and the destruction of the Persian empire by him, this acute spiteful Heathen had no other way of evading the evidence of it in favour of true religion but by this false and lying assertion:
and I sought for the meaning; that is, of the vision; for a more perfect, clear, and explicit meaning of it; something he had learnt concerning the latter part of it, relating to the desolation of the temple, and the continuance of it, from what passed between the two saints or angels; but he was desirous of knowing more; which he either signified by making application to the angel that stood near him; or rather by secret ejaculations in prayer to God; and he, who is afterwards described as a man, though the eternal God that knows all things, knew the secret desires of his soul, and immediately took care they should be answered:
then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man: not really a man, but in form and appearance; not Gabriel, or any created angel in human form, in which angels sometimes appeared but the eternal Son of God, who was to be incarnate, and was often seen in the form of a man before his incarnation; in like manner he was now seen by Daniel, right
And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai,.... Near to which Daniel was, Daniel 8:2 and it seemed to him as if the appearance of the man was in the midst of the river, between the banks of it, from whence the voice came; or between the arms of it, it bending and winding about; or rather between Shushan and the river; or between the prophet and that: this voice was the voice of the person that appeared as a man in the preceding verse:
which called, and said, Gabriel; the voice was loud, audible, and commanding; even to an angel, one of great note, Gabriel, the man of God, the mighty one; and shows, that the person that made this appearance, and spoke in this authoritative way, was the Lord, and head of angels, even of all principalities and power, at whose beck and command they are:
make this man to understand the vision; the above vision of the ram, he goat, and little horn; give him a full explanation of it; tell him what the several figures mean, represented in it; that he may have a clear understanding of all things contained in it; the saints and people of God are sometimes instructed by angels, and particularly the prophets of old were; and which was more common in the times of the former dispensation than now; for God has not put in subjection to angels the world to come, or the Gospel dispensation, Hebrews 2:5.
So he came near where I stood,.... The angel immediately obeyed the divine Person in human form, and came near the prophet, in order to instruct him, and carry on a familiar conversation with him:
and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face; not being able to bear the glory that attended him; and especially when he considered him as the messenger of a divine Person sent to instruct him, and being conscious of his own frailty and weakness:
but he said unto me, understand, O son of man: give attention in order to understand the vision, which the angel, by a divine command, was about to give him the full meaning of; and which he could not so well attend unto in his present circumstance and posture; and therefore suggests he should shake off his fear, and stand on his feet, and listen to what he was about to say: he calls him "son of man", a title only given to him and Ezekiel; and so may be considered as a mark of honour and respect, as being one greatly beloved and honoured by the Lord; or to express his tender regard to him, and accommodating himself to him, considering he was a frail mortal man; or to put him in mind that he should so consider himself, though now among angels, and favoured with revelations of secrets, that so he might not be exalted with them above measure:
for at the time of the end shall be the vision; or rather, "for a time is the end of the vision"
Now as he was speaking with me,.... Addressing him in the above manner:
I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground; through fear he fell prostrate to the ground, and swooned away, which issued in a deep sleep; and so was unfit to attend to the explanation of the vision the angel was sent to give him; and which was not through indifference to it, or neglect of it; but through human weakness, his nature not being able to bear up under such circumstances, which struck him with such fear and dread:
but he touched me, and set me upright; he jogged him out of his sleep, and took him, and raised him up, and set him on his feet; or, "on his standing"
And he said, behold, I will make thee know,.... Or, "make known unto thee"
what shall be in the last end of the indignation; the indignation of God against the people of Israel, in the sore affliction and persecution of them by Antiochus, which he suffered to be; here the angel suggests that that should not remain always, but should have an end; and he would inform the prophet what should be at the close; or rather, as Noldius
"is declared the wrath of God upon Israel in the days of wicked Greece, and in the days of Antiochus, until the Hasmonaeans cleansed the temple:'
for at the time appointed the end shall be; the end of that indignation or affliction, and so of this vision or prophecy: there was a time appointed by God for the fulfilment of the whole; and when that time was come all would be accomplished; the indignation would cease, and the persecution be at an end.
The ram which thou sawest having two horns,.... Here begins the particular explanation of the above vision, and of the first thing which the prophet saw in it, a ram with two horns: which two horns, he says,
are the kings of Media and Persia; Darius the first king was a Mede, and Cyrus, that succeeded him, or rather reigned with him, was a Persian: or rather the ram with two horns signifies the two kingdoms of the Medes and Persians united in one monarchy, of which the ram was an emblem; See Gill on Daniel 8:3 for Darius and Cyrus were dead many years before the time of Alexander; and therefore could not personally be the two horns of the ram broken by him; nor is it to be understood of the kings of two different families, as the one of. Cyrus, and the other of Darius Hystaspes, in whose successors the Persian monarchy continued till destroyed by Alexander, as Theodoret.
And the rough goat is the king of Grecia,.... Including all the kings of it, from Alexander to the end of the Grecian monarchy; or rather the kingdom of Greece, which began in him, and continued until it was destroyed by the Romans: this was signified by the rough or hairy goat, especially when Alexander was at the head of it, for his strength and prowess, his swiftness in his marches over rocks and mountains, his majesty and grandeur, and also his lust and uncleanness; See Gill on Daniel 8:5,
and the great host that is between his eyes is the first king; this is Alexander, who, though he was not the first king of Macedon, his father Philip, and others, were kings before him; yet was the first king of the Grecian monarchy, which took place on the Persian monarchy being destroyed by him.
Now that being broken,.... That is, the great horn Alexander, the first king of the Grecian monarchy; whose death, either by drunkenness, or by poison, is here expressed by being "broken". The sense is, he being dead, or upon his death,
whereas four stood up for it; four horns rose up in the room and stead of the great one broken; see Daniel 8:8 these signified that
four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation; which were the kingdoms of Egypt, Asia, Macedonia, and Syria, into which the Grecian monarchy was divided after the death of Alexander; and the first kings of them were all of the Grecian or Macedonian nation, and not Egyptians, Armenians, Syrians, &c.:
but not in his power; they did not rise and stand up in the power and strength, in the grandeur and magnificence, of Alexander; they were not equal, but greatly inferior to him, though they were notable horns, or famous kingdoms, as in Daniel 8:8. Saadiah interprets it, not of his seed or offspring; these were not his sons that were the heads of these kingdoms; but his captains or generals.
And in the latter time of their kingdom,.... Toward the close of the kingdom of the four kings that divided Alexander's kingdom; for though they were four distinct kings, and had four separate kingdoms, yet these all belonged to one kingdom or monarchy, the Grecian empire; and when that was decreasing, and coming into the hands of the Romans, there rose up, stood, and flourished awhile, King Antiochus, afterwards described, who began to reign in the hundred and thirty seventh year of the Seleucidae,
"And there came out of them a wicked root Antiochus surnamed Epiphanes, son of Antiochus the king, who had been an hostage at Rome, and he reigned in the hundred and thirty and seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks.' (1 Maccabees 1:10)
and 166 B.C., and the same year that he set up the abomination of desolation in the temple at Jerusalem, as Mr. Mede
when the transgressors are come to the full; many among the Jews, who apostatized from their religion, turned Heathens, even some of the priests, when their number was completed, and they had filled up the measure of their iniquities; in the Apocrypha:
"In those days went there out of Israel wicked men, who persuaded many, saying, Let us go and make a covenant with the heathen that are round about us: for since we departed from them we have had much sorrow. &c.' (1 Maccabees 1:11)
a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up; meaning Antiochus; as is generally agreed, both by Jewish and Christian interpreters, and to whom these characters agree: he was "hard of face"
And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power,.... He should possess a large kingdom, and that should be increased by conquests:
but not in his power
and he shall destroy wonderfully; or beyond all credit, countries, cities, towns, and their inhabitants; he slew fourscore thousand Jews in three days' time, bound forty thousand, and sold as many,
"And there were destroyed within the space of three whole days fourscore thousand, whereof forty thousand were slain in the conflict; and no fewer sold than slain.' (2 Maccabees 5:14)
or, "he shall destroy wonderful things"
and shall prosper and practise; for a while do what he pleased, none being able to oppose and hinder him; see Daniel 8:12.
and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people; by the "mighty" may be meant the Egyptians, Parthians, and other nations he made war with; and by the "holy people" the Jews, who were sanctified and separated from other people by the Lord, to be a peculiar people; among whom were his holy temple, his holy priests, his holy word, ordinances, and worship; multitudes of these he destroyed, as before observed. Jacchiades interprets this of the sons of Aaron, the holy priests of the Lord, whom he slew.
And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand,.... His schemes were laid in such deep policy, and he managed so artfully and craftily in the execution of them, that he commonly succeeded; as in getting the kingdom of Syria from his nephew; and, under a pretence of peace and friendship, and to defend Philometer king of Egypt, a minor, and by large promises to the nobles of the land, made himself master of it; and by deceitful methods he prevailed in Judea; see Daniel 11:21,
and he shall magnify himself in his heart; swell with pride, on account of success, through his policy, craft, and cunning, and think himself above all mortals, and equal to God himself; yea, as his antitype antichrist, exalt himself above all that is called God; fancy that he could command the seas, weigh the mountains in scales, and reach heaven itself, in the Apocrypha:
"And thus he that a little afore thought he might command the waves of the sea, (so proud was he beyond the condition of man) and weigh the high mountains in a balance, was now cast on the ground, and carried in an horselitter, shewing forth unto all the manifest power of God.' (2 Maccabees 9:8)
and by peace shall destroy many; under a pretence of peace enter into countries and destroy the inhabitants of them, as in Egypt and Judea; or, by leagues and treaties of peace, outwitting those he made peace with; so some political princes do themselves more service, and their enemies more hurt, by treaties than by battles: or "in peace"
he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; not the high priest, as Grotius; nor Michael, as Aben Ezra; but God himself, as Saadiah and Jacchiades; who is King of kings, and Lord of lords, the only Pontentate, to whom all the princes above and below are subject; him Antiochus stood up against, when he profaned his temple at Jerusalem, forbid his worship, persecuted and destroyed his people, and set up the image of Jupiter in his house:
but he shall be broken without hand; alluding to his being a horn; it is expressive of his death, and the manner of it; that he should not die by the hand of an enemy in battle, nor be assassinated by the hand of a ruffian, but be cut off by the immediate hand of God. Jacchiades says, that by the providence of God he fell ill of a bad disease, and at the cry of one of his elephants his chariot was overturned, and he fell on the ground, and his bones were broken. Of his death, and the manner of it, in the Apocrypha:
"Now when the king heard these words, he was astonished and sore moved: whereupon he laid him down upon his bed, and fell sick for grief, because it had not befallen him as he looked for.' (1 Maccabees 6:8)
"But the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, smote him with an incurable and invisible plague: or as soon as he had spoken these words, a pain of the bowels that was remediless came upon him, and sore torments of the inner parts;' (2 Maccabees 9:5)
"So that the worms rose up out of the body of this wicked man, and whiles he lived in sorrow and pain, his flesh fell away, and the filthiness of his smell was noisome to all his army.' (2 Maccabees 9:9)
which was much like that of Herod's, Acts 12:23, being stricken with a violent disorder in his bowels: his body covered with worms; his flesh flaked off, and emitted such a stench, as was intolerable to his army. Aben Ezra says, he fell from the roof of a house, and was broken, and died.
And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true,.... That is, of the 2300 evenings and mornings, or natural days; unto which time the daily sacrifice was to cease, and the sanctuary and host trodden under foot; and then the sanctuary would be cleansed. This account is "true", and not only to be believed, but is clear and plain, and to be literally understood of so many days, of such a term of time exactly, having no obscurity in it:
wherefore shut thou up the vision; the whole vision of the ram and he goat, and the little horn: the meaning is, that he should keep it to himself, and conceal it from men; not from his own people, for whose sake it was given, but from the Chaldeans, whose destruction was near; and who would be succeeded by the Persians, who might be disgusted with this prophecy, should they see it, it foretelling the destruction of their empire: or this order was given to suggest to Daniel that the fulfilment of it would be deferred some time, during which it would not be so easy to be understood as when it was near accomplishing and accomplished; and then prophecy and facts might be compared together:
for it shall be for many days; it were three hundred years, or more, from the reign of Belshazzar to the death of Antiochus, in which this vision ends.
And I Daniel fainted and was sick certain days,.... Or, "then I Daniel fainted"
afterwards I rose up; from the bed in which he had laid some days ill:
and did the king's business; by which it appears, that, upon the death of Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel was as yet continued in the service of the king of Babylon, though perhaps not in the same posts as before, and was not a favourite at court, and so much known as he had been; and also that he was not in reality at Shushan, when he had this vision, but at Babylon:
and I was astonished at the vision; at the things contained in it, which were of so much importance, respecting the kingdoms of the earth, especially the Persian and Grecian empires, and the state of his own people the Jews:
but none understood it: to whom he showed it; none but himself, who was made to understand it by the angel, Daniel 8:16.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Daniel 8". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany