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Bible Commentaries
Daniel 8

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-14

The Vision Itself

v. 1. In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar, two years after Daniel had had the vision of the four monarchies, a vision appeared unto me, even unto me, Daniel, after that which appeared unto me at the first, that is, in addition to that other important prophetic vision which he had recorded in the previous chapter. It is evident that this vision did not come to Daniel in a dream, but that he was awake and conscious while this information came to him.

v. 2. And I saw in a vision, in a state of ecstasy; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan, or Susa, in the palace, which is in the province of Elam, for Susa was the capital of this province during the Babylonian supremacy, while under Persian reign it was located in the satrapy of Susiana; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai, or Eulaeus, on which Susa was situated. Daniel evidently, in his capacity as one of the foremost officials of the empire, visited the various provinces from time to time, or he may even have had a winter home in this city.

v. 3. Then I lifted up mine eyes and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river, probably to the east of it, a ram, not in a flock, but alone, which had two horns; and the two horns were high, both of them expressive of royalty and power, but one was higher than the other, and the higher, the one possessing the greater power, came up last, it was later in point of time.

v. 4. I saw the ram pushing westward and northward and southward, to subdue all the countries located in these directions, so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand, his power, for the time being, was absolute; but he did according to his will and became great, so that the empire which he represented became a world power.

v. 5. And as I was considering, observing very closely everything that transpired, behold, an he-goat came from the west, from Europe, across Asia Minor, on the face of the whole earth, sweeping along over all the intervening countries, and touched not the ground, that is, his advance was so rapid that it was like a flight; and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes, in the midst of his forehead, so that his whole force was behind it.

v. 6. And he came to the ram that had two horns, not stopping for any consideration, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power, in irresistible, mighty rage.

v. 7. And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, with sudden, explosive anger, and smote the ram, in a fierce overthrow, 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, so that the complete overthrow of the ram was speedily accomplished; and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand, all the resources that he commanded availing him nothing.

v. 8. Therefore the he-goat waxed very great, his power developed mightily; and when he was strong, just as he reached the highest point of his might, the great horn was broken, the unity of the attacking power was disrupted with the death of its leader: and for it came up four notable ones, four leaders, who divided the power among themselves, toward the four winds of heaven.

v. 9. And out of one of them came forth a little horn, sprouting in a diminutive manner, like the branches in the prongs of an antelope, which waxed exceeding great toward the south and toward the east and toward the pleasant land, Judea, the glorious land, the land of God's chosen people.

v. 10. And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven, to the congregation of the Lord's people, for the Jews were at that time representatives of the Lord's Church on earth; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground and stamped upon them, presuming, in its pride, to wage warfare even against the kingdom of the Lord.

v. 11. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, placing himself on a level with the most high God, with the King of kings and the Lord of lords, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, that is, he interfered with the worship of the true God as then carried on in the Temple, and the place of His Sanctuary was cast down, profaned with blasphemous behavior.

v. 12. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, that is, "warfare was inaugurated against the daily sacrifice with outrage," with idolatrous worship by the heathen ruler represented by the last horn, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced and prospered, it accomplished this much, it was successful by divine permission: God permitted the profaning to go on for some time.

v. 13. Then I heard one saint, one of the Lord's angels, speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, as they were conversing, the interruption being made in the interest of Daniel, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, that is, how long would the subject of this vision, the destruction of the Lord's worship, continue, and the transgression of desolation, the horrible transgression which had just been described, to give both the Sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? so that the Church of God, then represented by the nation of the Jews returned from Babylon, would be made desolate and be hindered from spreading.

v. 14. And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days, literally, "evening-mornings"; then shall the Sanctuary be cleansed, or "justified," which may mean deconsecrated. The figures in the vision are strangely interwoven with direct statements, which anticipate, in a measure, the interpretation given in the second part of the chapter.

Verses 15-27

The Explanation of the Vision

v. 15. And it came to pass when I, even I, Daniel, had seen the vision and sought for the meaning, pondering over it, viewing it from every angle, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man, the apparition coming with startling suddenness.

v. 16. And I heard a man's voice, the speaker being invisible to Daniel, between the banks of Ulai, coming from between the two branches of the Eulaeus River, which called and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. So the being who appeared to Daniel in the aspect of a man, was one of the Lord's angel princes. Cf Luke 1:19.

v. 17. So he came near where I stood; and when he came, I was afraid, the close proximity of a holy being filled him with fear, and fell upon my face; but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man, the address reminding Daniel of his human weakness, without, however, humiliating him; for at the time of the end shall be the vision, that is, it gives information concerning occurrences at the end of time, the final period of the earth's history.

v. 18. Now, as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground, in a state of numbness or ecstasy, which shut off his senses from earthly things; but he touched me and set me upright, strengthening him for the time being, that he might witness the rest of the vision.

v. 19. And he said; Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation, when the wrath of God would be poured out upon the godless world; for at the time appointed the end shall be, or, "it [the vision] pertains to the period of time of the end. " It is indicated, even at this point, that the tribulation suffered by the Jews at the time of the Maccabees, especially by the tyranny of Antiochus Epiphanes, is symbolical of the afflictions to be expected at the end of the Messianic era.

v. 20. The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia, the Medo-Persian monarchy in its entire historical development. This empire subdued, under Persian leadership: toward the west, Babylon, Mesopotamia, Syria, and the countries of Asia Minor; toward the north, Colchis, Armenia, Iberia, and the states along the Caspian Sea; toward the south, Judea, Egypt, Ethiopia, and India.

v. 21. And the rough goat, moving eastward across Asia Minor in victorious advance, is the king of Grecia, literally, "of Javan," Macedonia, Greece, and the Ionian colonies being included in the term; and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king, Alexander the Great, the founder of this world-power.

v. 22. Now, that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, or, "concerning the horn, that it was broken, and that four then took its place," this is the meaning: four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, out of the world of nations united under the rule of the first king, but not in his power, not equal to the founder, neither singly nor all taken together. These four are the dynasties of the Diadochi, of whom indeed five, Antigonus, Antipater, Ptolemeus, Cassander, and Lysimachus, adopted the title of king; but Antigonus was soon defeated in battle, so that there were really four monarchies, Lysimachus taking Thrace and Bithynia, Cassander Macedonia and Greece, Seleucus Syria, Babylonia, and the eastern countries, and Ptolemeus Egypt, Palestine, and Arabia Petraea. Antipater had meanwhile died.

v. 23. And in the latter time of their kingdom, that is, after these dynasties had been in existence for some time, when the transgressors are come to the full, when the apostate Jews would once more have fulfilled the measure of their wickedness, a king of fierce countenance, shameless, without the slightest regard for God and men, and understanding dark sentences, hiding his true purposes behind ambiguous statements, shall stand up, coming into power as the ruler of that section of the Greek Empire.

v. 24. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power, rather on account of his cunning dissimulation, with the permission of God; and he shall destroy wonderfully, so that men would be astonished at his activities in this respect, and shall prosper and practice and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people, venting his spite both upon the warlike enemies opposing him and upon the congregation of the Lord's saints.

v. 25. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand, that is, in accordance with his cunning he would succeed in his deception, in various hypocritical plans which he had decided upon; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, becoming proud by reason of these successful maneuvers, and by peace shall destroy many, while they were living in care-free security, the suddenness of the attack causing them to yield without a struggle; he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes, presuming to set himself even against God. But he shall be broken without hand, God Himself taking his punishment in hand.

v. 26. And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told, concerning the length of the time of the affliction, is true; wherefore shut thou up the vision, to preserve it for such later day, for it shall be for many days, the vision, being concerned with things of the distant future, would retain its prophetic value and should therefore not be revealed generally at this time.

v. 27. And I, Daniel, overcome by the startling and overwhelming character of the revelation, fainted and was sick certain days. Afterward I rose up and did the king's business, attending to the duties of his office as before; and I was astonished at the vision, he kept his counsel concerning it, but none understood it, for the full significance of the revelation he received would be possible only with its fulfillment. Antiochus Epiphanes is rightly regarded in history as a type of Antichrist, the papacy of Rome, for he made every effort to drive out the worship of the true God in the Holy Land and to substitute instead a veneration of himself.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Daniel 8". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/daniel-8.html. 1921-23.
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