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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Daniel 8

Verses 1-27

The Vision of the Ram and the He-Goat (550 B.C.) Daniel 8:1-27 records the vision of the ram and the he-goat. The traditional view is that this vision represents the conquests of Alexander the Great, king of the Grecian Empire, over the Persians, a conquest extending down to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, and to the calamities and desolations that he would bring upon the holy land

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.

Daniel 8:1 “In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar” - Comments - Nebuchadnezzar, the grandfather of Belshazzar and father of Nabonidus, ruled the Babylonian Empire from 604-561 B.C. Gleason Archer dates the first year of Belshazzar’s reign in 556-555 B.C. as coregent with his father Nabonidus, [111] while John Goldingay gives a date of 550 B.C. [112] Thus, the third year of the reign of Belshazzar would be either 554-553 B.C. or 548-547 B.C. Belshazzar will be the last ruler of the Babylonian Empire, with the city of Babylon falling to the Medes and Persians later under the leadership of Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian in 539 B.C.

[111] Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Daniel, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 7, eds. Frank E. Gaebelien, J. D. Douglas, Dick Polcyn (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House), 1976-1992, in Zondervan Reference Software, v. 2.8 [CD-ROM] (Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corp., 1989-2001), notes on Daniel 7:1.

[112] John E. Goldingay, Daniel, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD-Rom, vol. 30, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc., 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), comments on Daniel 9:24.

“a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel, after that which appeared unto me at the first” - Comments In Daniel 8:1 the prophet Daniel refers to a former vision, which is generally understood as the one recorded in Daniel 7:1-28.

Daniel 8:2 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.

Daniel 8:2 Comments Scholars are divided as to whether Daniel was physically present in the palace at Shushan or present only in the vision.

Daniel 8:3 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.

Daniel 8:3 Comments Daniel 8:3 describes the rise of the Medo-Persian Empire, with the Persian kings rising up to take control.

Daniel 8:4 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.

Daniel 8:4 Comments Daniel 8:4 describes the expansion of the Persian Empire.

Daniel 8:5 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.

Daniel 8:5 Comments Daniel 8:5 describes the rise of Alexander the Great. His rapid expansion is reflecting in the phrase “he touched not the ground.” Within a period of four years (334-331 B.C.), he brought down the Persian Empire, establishing his rule from Europe to India.

Daniel 8:6 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.

Daniel 8:6 Comments Daniel 8:6 describes the important battles fought between Alexander the Great and the Persians.

Daniel 8:7 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.

Daniel 8:7 Comments - It is a natural instinct for rams and goats to butt with their heads in conflict, which is what Daniel saw take place in his vision.

Comments - Daniel 8:7 describes the defeat of the Persians at the hands of Alexander the Great.

Daniel 8:8 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.

Daniel 8:8 Comments - Daniel 8:8 describes the rise of Alexander the Great, his untimely death, and his replacement by four leading Greek generals.

Daniel 8:9 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.

Daniel 8:9 Comments Daniel 8:9 describes the rise of one of these generals called Antiochus IV (175-164 B.C.). His exploits are described in Daniel 11:21-45.

The phrase “pleasant land” is generally understood to be a reference to the land of Israel.

Daniel 8:10 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.

Daniel 8:10 Comments Daniel 8:10 describes the efforts of Antiochus IV to persecution the Jews. The reference to the stars in the heavenly host could be figurative of God’s children. We find in 2Ma 9:10 a statement that this wicked leader thought that “he could tough the stars of heaven.”

2Ma 9:10 , “Because of his intolerable stench no one was able to carry the man who a little while before had thought that he could touch the stars of heaven.” ( NRSV)

Daniel 8:11 Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.

Daniel 8:11 Comments The account of Antiochus IV destroying the city of Jerusalem, stopping the Temple sacrifice, and defiling its Temple is recorded in 1Ma 1:29-38 .

Daniel 8:21 And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.

Daniel 8:21 Comments - The first king of Grecia, or Java, would be Alexander of Macedonia.

Daniel 8:22 Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.

Daniel 8:22 Comments - History tells us that the kingdom of Greece broke up into four parts after the death of Alexander the Great (323 B.C.): the Seleucid (Syria), the Ptolemaic (Egypt), the Thrace-Asia Minor domain of Lysimachus, and the Macedonian-Greco merger maintained by Cassander. We know that none of these four subdivisions ever had the power of the first kingdom.

Daniel 8:23 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.

Daniel 8:23 “And in the latter time of their kingdom” Comments - Some scholars suggest that the phrase “and in the latter time of their kingdom” in Daniel 8:23 takes the vision of Daniel into a giant leap of several thousand years to the Tribulation Period and the time of the second desecration of the Temple, which Jesus referred to in Matthew 24:0.

Daniel 8:23 “a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up” - Comments - A popular interpretation regarding the fierce king that stood up in Daniel 8:23-25 is to say that it is a reference to the Syrian king of the Greek Empire named Antiochus Epiphanes, who was very hostile to the people of God during his reign. He represents a type of Antichrist, which will arise in the last days.

Daniel 8:26 “but he shall be broken without hand” Comments - That is, the Prince of princes shall break him without man’s hands contributing to this great victory. This clearly describes the Second Coming of Jesus Christ when He shall slay the enemies of God with the sword of His mouth.

Verses 1-27

Glorification: The Coming of Christ (Daniel’s Private Visions) - There are two main divisions to the book of Daniel. Daniel 1-6 is primarily narrative material and emphasizes Daniel’s ministry to the kings of Babylon and Media. In these passages he interprets two dreams and the writing on the wall for two kings. This division as well contains three stories of the captivity and persecution of Daniel and his three friends. However, the visions recorded in Daniel 7-12 were not for the kings. Rather, they are a collection of private visions of apocalyptic in nature that Daniel received from the Lord regarding the Time of the Gentiles and the Last Days. They were not delivered to the kings under whom he served, but were initially private in nature. Their emphasis is not on the nation of Israel; but rather, upon the fulfillment of the Times of the Gentiles. The fact that the first section was written in Aramaic and the second section in Hebrew suggests that there were initially two different intended recipients. The Babylonian Jews would have found comfort in both divisions as they saw the sovereign power of God at work in their midst and as they understood by prophecy that God had not forsaken the nation of Israel. Note that this second section has been arranged in chronological order independently of the first section’s chronological arrangement.

Daniel 7-12 is a collection of private visions given to Daniel concerning the future glorification of Jesus Christ and His children and the Great White Throne Judgment of the nations. The redemptive role of Jesus Christ is clearly predicted as the Son of Man comes upon the clouds and approaches the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:13) and He establishes the everlasting Kingdom of Heaven (Daniel 7:14).

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Daniel 8". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.