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Bible Commentaries
Daniel 8

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-14



Verses 1-14:

Verse 1 begins the Hebrew part of the book, where the Hebrew was exclusively used, instead of the Aramaic. The visions and prophecies of chapters 8-12 relate to Jerusalem, the Jews, and the covenant-people of Israel, as oppressed by the Gentiles and the anti-christ, until the Messiah descends a second time to reign supreme over all the earth. This vision came to Daniel about 530 B.C., about three years after the first vision, related ch. 7. It was in the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar, last of the Babylonian kings, Daniel 7:1.

This chapter relates matters concerning the second and third world-wide Gentile Empires, the silver and brass kingdoms of Da ch. 2, and the bear and leopard kingdoms of Medo-Persia and the Macedonian or Grecian kingdom, Daniel ch. 7. At the time of this vision, Daniel 8:1, the first Empire, head of Gold kingdom, presided over by Belshazzar, was nearing its end, Daniel 5:30.

Verse 2 discloses that when this vision came to Daniel he was in the palace at Shushan, along the riverbank of the Ulai river. Though Shushan was then insignificant, it was to become the capital of Persia in the time of Cyrus. Daniel was not there in person beside the river, but transported there in the vision; Perhaps it was because synagogues were built near rivers, as they washed their hands before praying, Psalms 137:1; The province of Elam was south of Media, west of Persia proper, and east of Babylon, Nehemiah 1:1; Ezra 1:2-5.

Verse 3 states that there Daniel lifted his eyes and recognized along the riverbank a ram with two high horns, signifying two royal powers, or two different kingdoms near to each other, v. 20. One horn (royal power) was higher than the other, and it arose last. The kingdom of the Medes was the older, but that of Persia was the bolder, and ascended above that of Media, the more ancient kingdom. Darius was 62 years old when he began to reign and reigned only two years, as a weak king. The kingdom was almost completely in Cyrus’ hands, Daniel 5:31; Daniel 6:14; Daniel 6:17; Daniel 6:28. The ram here corresponds to the bear of Daniel 7:5, symbolizing clumsy firmness, Jeremiah 51:11. The one horn (royal power), "higher than the other," here corresponds to the bear "raising itself on one side," Daniel 7:5; Ezra 1:2; Ezra 4:5; Ezra 1:5; Isaiah 13:17; Isaiah 21:2; Isaiah 44:28.

Verse 4 describes Daniel’s view of the ram, king of Medo-Persia, as he conquered provinces as he pushed out of the east from which he came, Isaiah 46:11, moving westward. There he subdued Babylon, Mesopotamia, Syria and Asia Manor. He then moved northward, conquering Colchis, Armenia, Iberia, and people about the Caspian Sea. Then he moved southward, overrunning Judea, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libyia, and India, under Cyrus. This ram did according to his own will, much as the antichrist will at his coming, Daniel 5:19; Daniel 11:3; Daniel 11:6.

Verse 5 relates that as Daniel was pondering the ram scene, an he-goat came bounding through the air, out of the west, touching not the ground, just above the surface of the earth. The goat had one notable (huge protruding horn) between his eyes. The great horn was Alexander the Great, the first king, v. 21. This he-goat "touched not the ground," in its swift movement, symbolizes the swift speed with which the Graeco-Macedonian armies conquered the world in less than 12 years. It corresponds to the leopard of Daniel 7:6.

Verse 6 recounts that this he-goat came, by his own greedy will and choice, to attack the ram that had two horns that Daniel had seen standing by the river Ulai, v. 2. The he-goat with the notable horn between his two eyes attacked the ram with the intense fury of his power, to subdue and destroy him. It was at the river Granicas that Alexander fought his first successful battle against Darius, 334 B.C.

Verse 7 further explains that Daniel saw this one horned he-goat approach the two horned ram, moved or incited with choler, or desire for vengeance against him. So vicious did the one horned he goat strike the two horned ram that the ram had both horns broken and his whole body bruised and mangled and trampled into the earth by the he-goat. The immense armed host of Persia could not resist the vengeance-bent Grecians who had been treacherously treated when the Persian army had invaded their land in 330, 331 B.C. They of Persia were not able to resist the army of Alexander the Great, Psalms 33:16-18.

Verse 8 adds that the he goat "waxed very great," increased very rapidly in power and dominion. And when he was strong, the height of his might, the "great horn" was broken; The great horn (royal ruler) was Alexander, v. 21. See also Daniel 4:31; Daniel 5:10; 2 Chronicles 26:16; Psalms 82:6-7; Isaiah 28:9. And for it in its place came up (arose) four notable ones, kingdoms toward the four winds of heaven, or four parts of the earth, v. 22.

Verse 9 asserts that out of these four notable kingdoms came forth a "little horn" that waxed or expanded exceeding great toward the: 1) South, Daniel 11:25; Daniel 11:2) the east, Persia, and the pleasant land, Judea, the "glorious land," Daniel 11:16; Psalms 48:2; Ezekiel 20:6; Ezekiel 20:15; Psalms 132:13; Jeremiah 3:19. From the then near historical point this alluded to the rise and spread of the power of Antiochus as he made his way from Egypt into Judea, about 175-164 B.C. See also concerning the four notable royal powers or horns the four kingdoms into which Alexander’s Empire was divided upon his death, Daniel 8:21-22; Daniel 7:6; Daniel 11:21-35.

Verse 10 relates that this "little horn", royal ruler, waxed great, even toward the host of heaven, of heavens appointed host, those Divinely charged in Jewish matters of worship, the holy people of God, v. 24; Daniel 11:28. This one cast down some of the "host of heaven and the stars," their Divinely appointed leaders, to the ground and stamped upon them, demeaned or destroyed them, expressing the pride and arrogance of the antichrist of whom Antiochus Epiphanes seems to be a symbol, with rebellion against God, as heathens have since the tower of Babel, Genesis 11:1-9. This one "little horn" exalts himself above all that is called God, Isaiah 14:13-14; Revelation 12:4.

Verse 11 explains that this "little horn", tin-horn kingly ruler, magnified himself with pride, even to the prince or high priest of the host, to rule over God and His worship. And by him, his orders or mandate, the daily sacrifice was taken away (abolished) and the sanctuary of Jewish worship was dismantled or destroyed, with contempt, v. 25; Daniel 7:8; Daniel 11:36. As Antiochus Epiphanes did it, though it was prescribed in the law, Exodus 29:38-39; so shall the antichrist, Daniel 9:26-27; 2 Thessalonians 2:4-8.

Verse 12 discloses that this "little horn," royal person, was given "the host," control over the sanctuary and morning and evening sacrifices of the Jewish worship of the holy people, Exodus 29:38-39. This holy people was given into the hands of the "little horn," to do with them as he pleased, which was to destroy them and their worship, v. 10, 13; Daniel 11:6. He cast down the truth, trampled it under foot, upon the ground. He practiced and prospered for a time in suppressing the order of Jewish worship, v. 4; Daniel 11:28; Daniel 11:36; Isaiah 59:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:4-10.

Verses 13, 14 state that Daniel heard one saint (true Jewish worshiper) speaking, and another saint (Jewish worshiper), inquired of him just how long the sanctuary of Jewish worship and those who administered the worship services and sacrifices would be given over to suppression by this "little horn" despot and his people, v. 9, 10; Daniel 4:13-17, 1 Peter 1:12. These two Jewish saints of the vision seem to represent angels in this vision who are giving information to answer questions in the mind of Daniel regarding his people and their worship under this "little horn" despot, as in Job 15:15; Psalms 139:6-7; Hebrews 1:14. The question asked by one saint (angel) overseeing, watching the desecration or desolation of Jewish worship, was answered by direct explanation to Daniel, that the time would be 2300 days, after which the defiled or desolated sanctuary should be cleansed, from Antiochus Epiphanes’ desecration, a foreview of the same by the man of Sin, Daniel 9:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:4-9.

Verses 15-27


Verses 15-27:

Verse 15 explains that when Daniel had personally observed and pondered the vision and its meaning, when he yearned for a Divine disclosure of its meaning; an heavenly messenger appeared as a man before him. This was either a theophany of the Son of God or one of His angelic messenger helpers, sent to Daniel as certified Hebrews 1:14; See also Daniel 10:18; Genesis 12:7; Revelation 1:9.

Verse 16 states that Daniel then heard clearly a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai river, where the vision was seen. It appears that the man-voice was from one standing on the surface of the waters, in the middle of the river, as in Daniel 12:6. This person with the man voice had charge over the arch angel Gabriel and directed him to make "this man" Daniel "to understand" or comprehend the vision; See also Daniel 9:21-22; Luke 1:19-37. He is that angel who directs an host of angelic messengers in informing or causing God’s people to understand His will and words, Hebrews 1:14.

Verses 17-19 declare that the angel Gabriel approached Daniel. Daniel, in fear, and awe-stricken, fell upon his face before Gabriel who said to him, "The fulfilling of this vision," or ultimate fulfillment, is to occur at the time of the end, the end of the Gentile dispensation and the final state of Israel’s restoration and judgment; See Daniel 9:27; Daniel 11:27; Daniel 11:35-36; Daniel 12:7; Habakkuk 2:3. Daniel was so gripped by the vision that he described himself as in a deep sleep, upon his face toward the ground, when Gabriel touched him, set him upright, and explained to him that he would make him to know what would exist in the last (latter) or final end of the indignation upon his holy people and their worship; For at the appointed, fixed, or decreed time the end would be. This alludes first to the end of the third or Grecian Empire and second to the end of the times of the Gentiles, v. 20; Luke 21:24; Revelation 16:14; Daniel 7:8; Daniel 7:24-26; Daniel 12:4.

Verse 20 asserts that the two-horned ram Daniel saw in the vision was the Medo-Persian Empire and her two kings or royal rulers, Cyrus of Persia and Darius of the Medes, v. 3, 4.

Verse 21 explains that the rough he-goat, with one hideous horn between his two eyes, was the king of Greece, and the horn was her first king, Alexander the Great, v. 5.

Verse 22 declares that "that being broken," that "horn-king," between the eyes of the he-goat, being destroyed; that first king­horn was Alexander, v. 21; When he was fallen four provincal kingdoms were to rise, be carved, or formed out of his world-wide Empire, the third of the four. But they were not to be dynamic or hold the type of subjective power that Alexander had exerted.

Verse 23 contains a prophecy of Gabriel that in "the latter time of the kingdom," not merely the Grecian, but Gentile governments, succeeding both the former Grecian and Roman Empires, "when the transgressors are come to the full," their full fruition of enmity and rebellion against the God of heaven, another king will rise up, Luke 18:8; 2 Timothy 3:1-9; John 5:43; Genesis 15:16; Matthew 23:32; 1 Thessalonians 2:16. He will be a king of fierce, callused countenance, mentally alert and astute. He will arise, comprehending dark sentences, sparing neither old nor young who do not abjectly bow to his mandates, Deuteronomy 28:50; Daniel 7:8-11; Daniel 7:20; Daniel 7:25. The cruelty of Antiochus against the Jews was only symbolic of what the anti-christ of the later days will do.

Verse 24 continues to foretell that this coming king (royal ruler) of fierce countenance, this bloody despot, shall have mighty power--world wide power, but not by his own power. It will be by the sovereign permission of the living God, Daniel 5:18-19; Daniel 5:22. His demon­ directed mission shall be to destroy the holy people of God, mercilessly, viciously, repeatedly, as a prospering practice, as a Satan empowered despot, an antichrist reeking final judgment on desolated Israel, for 42 months, Daniel 9:27; Revelation 12:6-14.

Verse 25 explains that this "king of fierce countenance," also called "little prince" to come, Daniel 9:26-27, will appear with a policy of peace and prosperity in his administrative hand, as a deceiver for a time of (half-week), 3 1/2 years of the 7 year covenant he will make with the Jews. During the first half of his covenant peace pact of 7 years he will magnify his heart with pride and destroy many with his peace agreement, which is as counterfeit as Satan’s promise to Eve, Genesis 3:5; Jeremiah 15:8. He will also stand up against the Prince of Princes, the "Prince of Peace," the coming Messiah, asserting that he is himself "the Messiah," Isaiah 9:6, and the Jews will receive or embrace him, until he takes away their restored order of morning and evening sanctuaries, declaring that he is God, revealing his true character to them; See Daniel 9:26-27; John 5:43; 2 Thessalonians 2:4-8.

The antichrist makes his appearance as a prince of peace some 42 months, before he turns to demand worship of himself, a thing that reveals who he really is! This has its parallel in the truth of the: 1) Appearance of Christ, in the air to resurrect the righteous and translate the church; It is about the same time, in the midst of the broken covenant week, when the antichrist declares that he is God, 2) The revelation of Christ in power and great glory comes some 42 months later, after the antichrist shall have wrought demonic powers of supernatural judgment on Israel, a thing to be ended with the coming of the Lord to the earth, 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10.

Verses 26, 27 conclude that the vision of the evening and the morning was true, but the vision was to be shut up, simply recorded for future generations, to be fulfilled many days later. Daniel explains that he was astonished, fainted, and sick for many days after the vision, Psalms 102:14; Ezekiel 12:27. Then he arose and did the kings business, astonished at the vision which none could then understand, though explained by Gabriel, Daniel 12:8-10; 1 Peter 1:12.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Daniel 8". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/daniel-8.html. 1985.
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