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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Daniel 8

Verse 1

Dan 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.

Ver. 1. In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar. ] Which was his last year, when Babylon was closely besieged: therefore Daniel was not now really at Shushan, but in vision only. Dan 8:2

A vision appeared unto me. ] While waking likely: and for further explication of the former vision, Dan 7:1-2 whereof because Daniel made so good use, ampliorem gratiam accipit, saith Oecolampadius, he now receiveth further grace.

Verse 2

Dan 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.

Ver. 2. I saw in a vision. ] God revealed himself to men waking in vision, as well as in dreams, Heb 1:1 wherein the prophets saw things actually done, which hereby they knew were to be done. 1Ki 22:17

I was at Shushan. ] Which signifieth a lily, a so it was called for the pleasantness of the place: now it is called Valdac, of the poverty of the place. Here it was that Alexander found fifty thousand talents of gold, besides silver great store. It was once the royal seat of the kings of Persia, and gave name to the whole province Susiane. See Neh 1:1 Esther 1:1 .

And I was by the river of Ulai. ] Called by heathen authors Eulaeus, but better ολυαιος . It compassed the temple of Diana at Shushan round, and, as some say, the whole city. Pliny b saith that the waters of this river were highly esteemed, so that the Persian kings drank thereof.

a Athenaeus.

b Pliny, lib. vi. cap. 27.

Verse 3

Dan 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.

Ver. 3. There stood before the river a ram. ] With a golden fleece and full of flesh. This was the Persian monarch; who is also said to stand, because of his slow motion and sluggish disposition; and "before the river," because the Persians ruled over many nations, signified by waters. Rev 17:1 A ram stalketh stately before the flock as a captain; but they are only sheep which he leadeth. Let a dog but lay his nose over the hedge, and away they run all: so did the sheepish cowardly Persians before Alexander.

Which had two horns. ] These were the states of Medea and Persia.

But one was higher than the other, ] i.e., The Persians at length became higher than the Medes, and overtopped them.

And the higher came up last. ] Cyrus after Darius, uniting both nations into one monarchy.

Verse 4

Dan 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.

Ver. 4. And I saw the ram pushing westward, &c. ] Hereby are set forth the Persian wars, and especially those waged by Cyrus, who subdued many nations and grew very great, as did also his successors, but especially Darius Hystaspes.

Neither was there any. ] None could resist his rage, nor escape his reach.

Verse 5

Dan 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.

Ver. 5. And as I was considering. ] Such as are studious shall see more of God’s mind. Rev 1:12

Behold, an he-goat came from the west, ] i.e., From Greece and Macedon, west from Persia. This goat, more nimble, swift, and potent than a ram, was the Grecian monarch Alexander, who came capering and prancing over the whole earth - that is, over the whole Persian monarchy, and more - setting fire on all Asia, as the magicians foretold he would do, as being born the same day that Diana’s temple at Ephesus was set on fire. This Alexander the Great was Dux gregis ipse caper, of all whose victories we have here a notable abridgement, more like a history than a prophecy. The high-priest Jaddus is said a to have shown it to Alexander in his march against Darius Codomannus, the last king of Persia, who thereby, much encouraged in his enterprise, bestowed upon the Jews many favours and freedoms.

And touched not the ground. ] Alexander was notably nimble, thinking nothing too hard for him to achieve, and slipping no opportunity. When he was to encounter with Darius’s army at Granicum, Parmenion persuaded him to stay till the next day, but he would not, neither was success wanting. With wonderful celerity, in six years’ time, he overrun so great a part of the habitable world, that he might rather seem to fly than to march. Apelles pictured Alexander with a thunderbolt, signifying his great swiftness in his exploits.

And the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. ] This notable horn is Alexander, founder of the Grecian monarchy. The Macedonians were at that time called Aegeades - i.e., goatish; the, occasion whereof see in Justin, lib. vii. Alexander is here fitly called Hircus caprarum, a he-goat, b or the horn of sight, between the eyes of that goat - a fit emblem of a good prince, whose virtues are conspicuous as a horn is, who defendeth his people and offendeth their enemies; who, like this horn rising up between the eyes, is circumspect and well advised, doing all with counsel. Pro 24:6 Alexander had his father Philip’s counsellors about him, who were excellent in wisdom beyond any that came after them in the same empire.

a Josephus.

b Sic Darius dicitur Aiil - i.e., Aries Persiae, Hebraice et Chaldaice, Elam.

Verse 6

Dan 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.

Ver. 6. And he came to the ram that had two horns. ] He came. This may betoken the slower preparations of Philip, king of Macedonia.

And ran unto him. ] Alexander did, by quick and furious marches.

Nil actum credens dum quid superesset agendam

Fertur atrox. ” - De Cas. Lucan,

Verse 7

Dan 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.

Ver. 7. And I saw him come close unto the ram. ] Who stood for a while in his stoutness, and brought several huge armies into the field - not less than fifteen hundred thousand - but all would not do; the fairest states are subject to change in their greatest flourish. Eze 31:18

In se magna ruunt.; laetis hunc numina rebus

Crescendi posuere modum. ” - Lucan.

And he was moved with choler against him. ] Neither would he be pacified with promise of great gifts, and of part of the kingdom, and the marriage of his daughter.

And smote the ram. ] By overthrowing the Persian armies in three main battles - at Granicum, at Issus, and at Arbela, not far from which is the mountain Nicatorium, a so called by Alexander, as a constant trophy of that famous victory.

And there was no power in the ram to stand before him. ] In that last battle at Arbela, the whole power of Persia was overturned, and Darius Codomannus was slain by Bessus, one of his own captains. It is observed that great kingdoms often fall and are destroyed under such kings as are of the same name with the founders thereof. Darius here, for instance; so Philip of Macedon, and Philip the father of Perseus, the last king of that country; so Constantine the Great, and Constantine Palaeologus; Augustus and Augustulus, &c.

And stamped upon him, ] i.e., After full conquest, he crowed, insulted, triumphed; at the instance of his concubine Thais, he caused the most goodly palace in the world at Persepolis to be set on fire.

a Nικατοριον ορος . - Strabo.

Verse 8

Dan 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.

Ver. 8. Therefore the he-goat waxed very great. ] The Greeks became lords of all; their emperor was Et re et nomine magnus, not called great for nought; he began to take upon him as a god, and would be counted son to Jupiter Hammon; he called for divine honours, and slew Callisthenes, his tutor, because he would not yield thereto. This intolerable pride was a sure forerunner of his fall; his heart swelled so fast that the case could no longer hold it, but cracked. The world was a cage or little ease to him, therefore is he soon turned out of it, and of heaven’s darling made the disdain of all. a

And when he was strong, the great horn was broken. ] Surfeiting and drunkenness cast him into a fever, whereof he died in the flower of his youth and height of his enjoyments - such is the instability of earthly monarchs’ worldly glory:

Magna repente raunt, summa cadunt subito.

Being not unlike those flores horae, flowers of the hour, very pleasant for the time, but dead and withdrawn in a trice. The vanities of this life, saith one, b at our most need, and when we least think, quite forsake us, leaving even them that most sought after them, and most abounded in them, shrouded often times in the sheet of dishonour and shame. Great Alexander lay unburied thirty days together; his conquests above ground purchased him no title for habitation under ground. The like befell Pompey the Great, our William the Conqueror, and others of the like reputation.

And for it came up four notable horns, ] i.e., Four potent princes, out of the shipwreck of his empire; which four, in process of time, came to two. Dan 11:5-6

a Alexander orbi magnus, Alexandro orbis angustus est. - Seneca, Athenaeus.

b Turkish History, 331.

Verse 9

Dan 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].

Ver. 9. And out of one of them. ] Out of the posterity of Seleucus, king of Syria.

Came forth a little horn. ] This was Antiochus, surnamed Epiphanes, illustrious; Polybius called him Epimanes, the madman. He is here called a "little horn," because he was vile and base from the very first to the last of him; indeed, he was born a prince, but without a kingdom, a mere nullatenensis, till he became a usurper. He was sent for a hostage to Rome by his father, Antiochus the Great, whom the Romans had cudgelled into a treaty, taking away from him the best part of his kingdom. After his father’s death, he stole away from Rome and seized upon the kingdom of Syria, casting out of it his nephew Demetrius, who was the rightful heir. Afterwards he got into his hands also the kingdom of Egypt, under colour of protector to his young nephew, Ptolemy Philometor; and being therehence discharged by the Romans, and made to answer Parebo, I will be gone, he went thence in a rage, and like a madman wreaked his teem, as we say, upon the poor Jews, playing the devil among them.

Toward the south, ] i.e., Egypt,

And toward the east. ] Persia, which he also conquered.

And toward the pleasant land, ] i.e., Judea, called here Decus Capreolus, the delectable and desirable country, by reason of its great prerogatives. So Eze 20:6 Psalms 48:2 .

Verse 10

Dan 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.

Ver. 10. And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven. ] Or, Against the host of heaven, so the Church militant is called. The saints are the world’s great luminaries, yea, the only earthly angels, although wicked people count and call them the "filth and offscouring of all things."

And of the stars. ] Such as shone in the light of holy doctrine; Rev 1:10 persecutors’ spite is specially against such. Zec 13:7

Verse 11

Dan 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.

Ver. 11. Yea, he magnified himself. ] He extolled or extended himself, such was his insolence.

Even to (or against) the prince of the host.] Christ, the captain of his people’s sufferings, and of their salvation. Heb 2:10 He bare a hostile spirit against the God of the Jews - such a hell hound hardly ever was born - casting him out of his place, and setting up in his room Jupiter Olympus - that is, the devil; he defaced also and burned up the books of the law, all he could light on. 1Ma 1:54-59

Verse 12

Dan 8:12 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.

Ver. 12. And an host was given him. ] Or, The host was given over, for the transgression against the daily sacrifice. The Jews were grown to a great height of profaneness, even in Malachi’s days, as is to be seen Malachi 1:1-14 ; Malachi 2:1-17 ; Malachi 3:1-15 , and by this time, doubtless, they were become much worse; God therefore, for punishment, turned this tiger loose upon them.

And it cast down the truth to the ground. ] The doctrine of truth, together with the professors thereof. The like whereunto is still done by the Romish antichrist, to whom some apply all this part of the chapter as the proper and genuine sense of the text. See the visions and prophecies of Daniel expounded by Mr Thomas Parker of Newbery, in New England, pp. 43, 44, &c.

And it practised, and prospered. ] Wicked practices against religion may prosper for the time. Act 12:1-3 It was therefore no good argument that the Earl of Derby used to George Marsh, martyr, telling him that the Dukes of Northumberland and of Suffolk, and other of the new persuasion, had ill luck, and were either put to death, or in danger so to be. And again, he rehearsed unto him the good hap of the queen’s highness, and of those that held with her, and said that the Duke of Northumberland confessed so plainly. a

a Acts and Mon., 1421.

Verse 13

Dan 8:13 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?

Ver. 13. And I heard one saint speaking, ] i.e., One holy angel; for they are solicitous of God’s glory, and sensitive to the saints’ sufferings, whereof they would have a speedy end. And should not we be so too, weeping with those that weep, and rejoicing with those that rejoice?

And another saint said unto that certain saint which spake. ] Anonymo illi qui loquebatur, so Piscator rendereth it; others, To the wonderful numberer who spake - i.e., who commanded Gabriel to declare the vision to Daniel. Dan 8:16 This was Jesus Christ, the Wisdom and Word of God. He who knoweth all the secrets of his Father as perfectly as if they were numbered before him.

How long shall be the vision. ] It appeareth, then, that angels know not all secrets, but that their knowledge is limited; they know not so much, but they would know more. Eph 3:10 1Pe 1:12

Concerning the daily sacrifice. ] The loss whereof was a just matter of lamentation to godly minds. See Zephaniah 3:18 .

And the transgression of desolation. ] Transgression is a land desolating evil. Lam 1:9

And the host to be trodden under foot, ] i.e., The professors of the truth were overturned; some by persuasion, others by persecution.

Verse 14

Dan 8:14 And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.

Ver. 14. And he said unto me. ] Not to the angel, but to me, who should have proposed the question; the holy angel did it for me.

Unto two thousand and three hundred days. ] Heb., To the evening and morning two thousand and three hundred - i.e., to so many natural days consisting of twenty-four hours, which in all do make up six years, three months, and twenty days. This point of skill Daniel here learneth of the wonderful numberer Christ, who hath all secrets in numerato, and will put a timely period to his people’s afflictions. Not full seven years did they suffer here, much less seventy, as once in Babylon. How he moderateth the matter., see on Revelation 2:10 ; how this prophecy was fulfilled, see Malachi 1:12-14Malachi 1:12-14 2Ma 4:12-16 cf. 1Ma 4:52-45 .

Verse 15

Dan 8:15 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.

Ver. 15. And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel. ] Not another, as that black-mouthed Porphyry a slanderously affirmed, that not the prophet Daniel saw and uttered these prophecies so long before they happened, but another who lived after the reign of Antiochus wrote a history of things past, and entitled it falsely to Daniel, as a prophecy of things to come. Os durum! Harsh mouth.

Then, behold, there stood before me. ] They who seriously and sedulously seek after divine knowledge, shall find means to attain unto it. Rev 13:1

a Porphyry, Cont. Christian, lib. xii.; Jerome.

Verse 16

Dan 8:16 And I heard a man’s voice between [the banks of] Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this [man] to understand the vision.

Ver. 16. And I heard a man’s voice.] This was the man Christ Jesus, the great doctor of his Church, and commander of angels, viro similis, quia incarnandus.

Make this man to understand. ] Angels and ministers make men to understand secrets, "give the knowledge of salvation to God’s people," Luk 1:77 not by infusion, but by instruction.

Verse 17

Dan 8:17 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.

Ver. 17. So he came near where I stood. ] Let our obedience be like that of the angels, prompt and present.

I was afraid. ] Through human frailty and conscience of sin.

Understand, O son of man. ] Ezekiel and Daniel only of all the prophets are so called; haply lest they should be "exalted above measure with the abundance of the revelations."

For at the time of the end shall be the vision, ] i.e., That this vision of the daily sacrifice intermitted for so many years, and the abomination of desolation, the picture of Jupiter Olympus, set up in the sanctuary, shall be toward the end of the Greek monarchy.

Verse 18

Dan 8:18 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.

Ver. 18. I was in a deep sleep. ] In a prophetic ecstasy or trance, wherein I was laid up fast, losing for the time all manner of action and motion, that my soul might be more free to receive divine revelations.

But he touched me, and set me upright. ] Heb., Made me stand upon my standing, who was yet all the while in a deep sleep. The touch of the angel kept him from reeling to and fro, and made him stand firmly.

Verse 19

Dan 8:19 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].

Ver. 19. In the last end of the indignation. ] In the final end of the Greek persecution, which shall not pass the Lord’s appointed time.

Verse 20

Dan 8:20 The ram which thou sawest having [two] horns [are] the kings of Media and Persia.

Ver. 20. The ram which thou sawest. ] See Daniel 8:3 .

Verse 21

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

Ver. 21. And the rough goat. ] Hirtus hircus. See on Daniel 8:5 .

Verse 22

Dan 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.

Ver. 22. Now that being broken. ] See Daniel 8:8 .

Verse 23

Dan 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.

Ver. 23. And in the latter time of their kingdom. ] In the one hundred and thirty-seventh year of the Greek monarchy.

When the transgressors are come to the full. ] Heb., Are accomplished; when the Jews are grown stark naught. This was the reason why God set over them such a breathing devil, as was Antiochus, for a punishment of their open impiety and formal apostasy. When Phocas the traitor had slain Mauritius the emperor, there was an honest poor man, saith Cedrenus, who was earnest with God in prayer to know why that wicked man so prospered in his design; to whom answer was returned by a voice, that there could not be a worse man found and that the sins of Christians and of Constantinople did require it.

A king of fierce countenanoe. ] Heb., Hard of face - that is, brazen faced, impudent, and withal acute, subtle ( acutus et astutus ), and of a deep reach. Antiochus, Julian, the Duke of Alva, were such.

Verse 24

Dan 8:24 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.

Ver. 24. Not by his own power. ] But by his policy rather, and by the perfidy of others. Dan 11:23

And he shall destroy wonderfully. ] Mirificentissime. In three days he slew fourscore thousand in Jerusalem; forty thousand were put in bands, and as many sold.

And shall prosper, and practice. ] Shall do whatsoever he wishes; as if he were some petty god within himself.

And shall destroy the mighty. ] So the Jews are called, because stout and undaunted, and while they kept close to God, insuperable; as when otherwise, weak as water. See Hosea 13:1 . See Trapp on " Hos 13:1 "

And the holy people. ] Federally holy at least.

Verse 25

Dan 8:25 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.

Ver. 25. And through his policy also. ] Incumbens intelligentiae suae, leaning on his own wit, Versutulus et versatilis, and that great elixir called reason of state, which can make, for a need,

Candida de nigris, et de candentibus atra.

And by peace shall destroy many. ] Undo them by promises of prosperity and preferment, which are dangerous baits; Mar 4:9 "they were sawn asunder, they were tempted." Heb 11:37 Julian the apostate went this way to work, and prevailed to make many apostates.

He shall also stand up against the Prince of princes. ] God Almighty, by destroying the daily sacrifices, and by setting up idolatry in the temple.

But he shall be broken without hand, ] i.e., By the visible vengeance of God, 1Ma 6:8-13 2Ma 9:5-11 who laid upon him a loathsome disease ( Tetro morbo ), and wrapped him up in the sheet of shame.

Verse 26

Dan 8:26 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.

Ver. 26. And the vision of the evening. ] See Daniel 8:14 . Lyra by the "morning" would have understood the time of Antiochus; by the "evening" the time of antichrist, who was prefigured by Antiochus.

Is true. ] Heb., Truth, and so plain that I need say no more of it.

Wherefore shut thou up the vision. ] Keep it to thyself in sacred silence, and reserve it in writing for posterity. See Dan 12:4-9 Isaiah 8:16 .

For it shall be for many days, ] i.e., For about three hundred years hence. The Lord would have visions concealed till toward the accomplishment.

Verse 27

Dan 8:27 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].

Ver. 27. And I Daniel fainted, and was sick. ] So deeply affected was he with the vision, and should we be with the word preached; it should work upon our very bowels, and go to the hearts of us. Jer 4:19 Act 2:37

Afterwards I rose up, and did the king’s business.] viz., King Belshazzar’s, with whom, though he was out of grace, yet not out of office under him, and will not therefore be indiligent. Malo mihi male esse, quam molliter, a Let us not neglect the work of the Lord, though less able to perform it. A sick child’s service is doubly accepted.

But none understood it. ] Daniel disguised his sorrow for Zion before scorners. Est 5:1 Taciturnity is no contemptible virtue.

a Seneca.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Daniel 8". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.