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Bible Commentaries
Daniel 8

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

Verse 1

Dan 8:1. Again the Lord gave to Daniel a prophecy, but this time it was in the form of a vision instead of a dream. It was shown to him two years after the dream of the preceding chapter. Another difference in this chapter is that, whereas the other considered the four world empires, this will be about the MedoPersian and Grecian.

Verse 2

Dan 8:2. At the time Daniel saw this vision he was on the banks of a river in the province of Elam. Shushan (sometimes spelled Susa) was one of the capitals of the MedoPersian Empire. The reason for saying one of its capitals is that after the ascendency of this world power, its rulers resided sometimes in this place and sometimes in Babylon. However, at the time of this chapter the Babylonian Empire was still in power, and the reference to the palace was because tlie province had once been a prominent territory and had its own local rulers who had their mansion here. Since Daniel hau this vision while the first of the fonr world powers was in force, it would make the events shown in the vision truly prophetical.

Verse 3

Dan 8:3. The ram In this vision was the Medo-Persian Empire, the two parts of the empire corresponding to the two horns of the beast. In symbols an event may occur that is different from the natural procedure, yet one which truly represents the actual transaction in the application. Thus we here have two circumstances that differ front the natural course of events. The horns of this ram did not giow up together, nor did they maintain the same greatness or height. That was fulfilled in the history of the two parts of the empire, the Medes and the Persians. The Medes were the older of the two groups but never did attain to the proportions of tile Persians. The historical evidence of this may be seen in the comments on Dan 7:5.

Verse 4

Dan 8:4. The three directions mentioned are significant. A glance at the map will show the original headquarters of the Medes and Persians were in the eastcentral portion of the then civilized world. If the empire was to expand it would have to do so in these directions. It continued to do so until it grew into the proportions of a world empire. This was the second one of the four kingdoms that had been predicted by both Ezekiel and Daniel. And both of these prophets predicted that it. would he subdued and replaced by another, which brings the story up to the next event of the vision seen by Daniel.

Verse 5

Dan 8:5. Daniel was interested in the event he had just seen and wras thinking over it when another sight came before him. A he goat was selected by the Lord, that animal being rougher and stronger and better adapted to the action about to take place. The goat represented the Greek or Macedonian Empire which was the third of the world empires we have been reading about. Like the Babylonian Empire, its first king was not its greatest. The first of the Babylonian rulers was Nabopoiassar, but its greatest one was Nebuchadnezzar. The first ruler of the Macedonian Empire was Philip of Macedon, but by far its greatest one was his son Alexander, represented by a notable horn. In symbolic literature a horn represents power and authority, and Alexander surely possessed both. Touched not the ground is figurative and refers to the swiftness of Alexander’s march across the Persian dominions. He covered that vast territory in twelve years with very little resistance.

Verse 6

Dan 8:6. This verse refers to the furious advance of Alexander upon Persia,

Verse 7

Dan 8:7. In tills one verse the complete subjugation of Persia by Alexander was indicated by the vision. Choler means bitterness according to Strong’s lexicon, but it does not necessarily refer to the personal character of Alexander only. The idea is that the defeat that was inflicted upon, the Persians was a bitter experience.

Verse 8

Dan 8:8. When, he was strong denotes that Alexander was at the height of his success when he died, and that event also fulfilled the rest of the prediction, the great horn teas broken. I shall quote a passage from one of the "church fathers,” otherwise called the Nicetle Library, "Again, the sons of Greece celebrate Alexander the Macedonian as the conqueror of many and diverse nations; yet we find that he was removed by an early death, before he had reached maturity, being carried off by the effects of revelry and drunkenness. His whole life embraced but the space of thirtytwo years, and his reign extended to no more than a third part of that period. Unsparing as the thunderbolt, he advanced through streams of blood and reduced entire nations and cities, young and old, to utter slavery. But when he had scarcely arrived at the maturity of life, and was lamenting the loss of youthful pleasure, death fell upon him with terrible stroke, and, that he might not longer outrage the human race, cut him off in a foreign and hostile land, childless, without successor, and homeless. His kingdom, too, was instantty dismembered, each of his officers taking away and appropriating a portion for himself. And yet this man is extolled for such deeds as these.’'-Eusebius, Life of Constantine, Book 1, Chapter 7. The four notable ones refers to the four divisions into which Alexander's conquests fell upon his death, predicted by the four wings and four heads in chapter 7: 6.

Verse 9

Dan 8:9. In the comments at verse 1 it is stated that this chapter would be concerned with only two of the world powers. That is, all of the chapter would be about those two or some part of them, However, to avoid confusion, I think it should be explained that the four divisions into which Alexander's conquests fell at his death, while still a part of the third world empire, will receive some special attention. It was not long until two of these divisions were absorbed by the others, leaving only two which occupy the prophecy and history until they, too, were absorbed by the growing power of the fourth world empire, the Roman, The two remaining divisions will be referred to as Syria and Egypt. The former embraced the country formerly called Syria, and most of the countries as far eastward as the Indus River, and it Included Palestine also, which will account for much of the important prophecy yet to come. The latter embraced the country of Egypt and the territory immediately surrounding it. These two kingdoms are also referred to in history and prophecy as the "northern” and the "southern” kingdoms, and the two were almost constantly in a state of hostitity against each other. The present verse has to do with the kingdom of Syria, and especially with one of its kings who was one of the most vile and wicked men in history. Much of this chapter has to do with this man whose name was Antiochus Epiphanes, sometimes referred to by either one of the names only. He is the little horn of this verse, and is represented as becoming eager for more and more power. Hence he pushed outward to other territories and included the pleasant land which means Palestine.

Verse 10

Dan 8:10. Stars Is from KOWKAR which Strong defines, "figuratively a prince." The words host of heaven, therefore, means the citizens of this "pleasant land," and the stars has reference to the outstanding men among them. This wicked king had a bitter feeling against the Jews, and was disposed to do them all the harm he could.

Verse 11

Dan 8:11. The daily sacrifice was presided over by the priest, hence we know that in this passage the prince of the host refers to the priest.. The meaning of the prediction is that Epiphanes would stop the offering of the daily sacrifice, Place of the sanctuary cast down. Not only was the sacrifice to be stopped, but the altar and temple were to be desecrated. The fulfillment of prophecy is to be seen in the events of history, hence it will be appropriate for me to quote some now: “At the same time that Antiochus, who was called Epiphanes, had a quarrel with the sixth Ptolemy [one of the kings of Egypt] about his right to the whole country of Syria, a great sedition fell among the men of power in Judea, and they had a contention about obtaining the government; while each of those that were of dignity could not endure to be suhject to their equals. However, Onias, one of the highpriests, got the better, and cast the sons of Tobias out of the city; who fled to Antiochus, and besought him to make use of them for his leaders, and to make an expedition into Judea, The king being thereto disposed beforehand. complied with them, and came upon the Jews with a great army, and took their city by force, and slew a great multitude of those that favored Ptolemy and sent out his soldiers to plunder them, without mercy. He also spoiled the temple, and put a stop to the constant practice of offering a dally sacrifice of expiation for three years and six months. But Onias, the highpriest, fled to Ptolemy, and received a place for him in the Nomus of Heliopolis, where he built a city resembling Jerusalem, and a temple that was like its temple; concerning which we shall speak more in its proper place hereafter. "Now Antiochus was not satisfied either with his unexpected taking of fhe city, or with pillage, or with the great slaughter he had made there; but being overcome with his violent passions, and remembering what he had suffered during the siege, he compelled the Jews to dissolve the laws of the country, and to keep their infants uncircumcised, and to sacrifice swine's flesh upon the altar; against which they all opposed themselves, and the most approved among them were put to death, Bacchides also, who was sent to keep the fortresses, having these wicked commands, joined to his own natural barbarity, indulged all sorts of the extremest wickedness, and tormented the worthiest of the inhabitants, man by man, and threatened their city every day with open destruction; till at length he provoked the poor sufferers, by the extremity of his wicked doings, to avenge themselves." -Josephus, Wars, Book 1, Chapter 1, Sections 1, 2,

Verse 12

Dan 8:12, We might wonder why God would suffer as wicked a man as Antiochus to be so successful against His people. It was not the first time He had used evil characters as instruments by which to chastise the Jews. The last great instance was that of the king of Babylon who was empowered to take them off into eaptivity to punish them for their idolatry. But after that experience the Lord assured his people that they would never again be sent as a nation out of their own land. However, He did not tell them they never would be punished at all if they disobeyed the divine laws. And when they again became corrupt in other ways (not idolatry), He determined to punish them. This time it was by suffering the wicked king Antiochus to interrupt their sacred practice of the daily sacrifice, and the present verse has to do with that sad affair. Host is from TSEBAAH which Strong defines. “A mass of persons (or figuratively things), especially regularly organized for war {an army); by Implication a campaign, literal or figurative)." The prediction means that Antiochus would be given an army to be used in a campaign against the practice of the daily sacrifice. The passage further tells why he was given this service against the Jews; it was by reason of transgressions. This point is verified hy ancient history, and I shall quote an interesting paragraph on the subject. "Epiphanes ridiculed all religions. He plundered the temples of Greece, and wanted to rob that of Elymais. He exercised his impious fury chiefly against Jerusalem and the Jews, and almost without resistance. The Almighty seemed to wink for a time at all the abominations which were committed in His temple, till his wrath against his people was satisfied."-Rollin’s Ancient History, Volume 4, Page 242. But however faithfully an instrumentality of man is used to carry out the divine will, the Lord never tolerates the wicked motive with which that service is rendered, but will eventually bring the proper punishment upon that person or persona. We shall learn before this chapter is finished that Antiochus received the full reward for his wicked treatment of the Jes who were the people of the God of heaven.

Verse 13

Dan 8:13. The disgraceful condition produced about Ule temple and altar aroused the anxious Inquiry of the saint who beheld it. The verse may well be abbreviated by the words, “How long will it be until this condition will be corrected, and the daily sacrifice be resumed according to the law?”

Verse 14

Dan 8:14. The answer was addressed to Daniel instead of the saint who had asked the question, because it had been asked in the hearing of the prophet who was to be the reporter of the scene. The number of days, 2300, Is nearly six and a half years. This includes the time the altar lay desecrated and idle, and also the period required for the war for the repossess.on of the holy institution. The war was conducted by Judas Maccabeus, a faithful and zealous Jew. The history of that war is too extensive to co.^y here, but the reader may see the information in Josephus, Antiquities, 12-7-1-6.

Verse 15

Dan 8:15. As in the vision of the preceding chapter, after the prophet had seen this one just related, he wished to know its interpretation. We do not know the identity of the person who will speak first, but he evidently was a messenger acting under divine orders, for his directions were obeyed.

Verse 16

Dan 8:16. That spokesman used the voice of a man, and Daniel heard him speak to the one who stood before the prophet, who had the appearance of a man, and bade him explain to Daniel the vision, at the same time addressing him by the name of Gabriel.

Verse 17

Dan 8:17. The appearance of this messenger from heaven filled Daniel with surprise and terror, and in rev. erence he fell face downward upon the ground. Then Gabriel made an introductory remark as to the time when the vision would be fulfilled. The time of the end could not he the end of the world, for the events predicted do not agree with that period. Neither could it mean the end of the four world empires, for there was still one more of them to come which was to exist for centuries. Hence, on the basis of elimination, the conclusion is that it refers to the end of the second one of the world powers that are pictured in the vision. That is in harmony with the facts of history, for Antiochus Epiphanes, with whom the vision concludes, appears in the historical records about 150 years B.C., and the reign of the Macedonian Empire was tapering off toward its end, to be supplanted by the Roman Empire, which waa then beginning to cast its shadow ahead.

Verse 18

Dan 8:18. The prophet was still under the effect of his prostrating surprise which had thrown him into a deep sleep. That not being the desirable condition in which to receive such an important communication, Gabriel restored him to full consciousness.

Verse 19

Dan 8:19. Last end means the same as time of the end, explained by the comments on verse 17. However, there is a more specific item added to the prediction as to the date and that is, end of the indignation. The vision ended at the final downfall and death of Antiochus, whose wicked conduct provoked the indignation of God.

Verse 20

Dan 8:20. This is fully explained at verse 3,

Verse 21

Dan 8:21. King of Grecia means the royalty in general, for a particular one of the kings will be alluded to at the erd of the verse. First king is explained at verse 5.

Verse 22

Dan 8:22. The four kingdoms is explained at verse 8. Not in his power means that the four divisions into which the conquests of Alexander fell at bis death were none of them as strong as he. This prediction and conclusion may be verified by secular history, and I shall again quote from Myers' Ancient Ifistrry, page 286: "There was no one who could wield the sword that fell from the hands of Alexander. It is said that, when dying, being asked to whom the kingdom should belong, he replied, 'to the strongest,’ and handed his signet ring to his general Ferdiccas. But Perdic cas was not strong enough to master the difficulties of the situation. Indeed, who is strong enough to rule the world?’’

Verse 23

Dan 8:23. Their kingdom has special reference to the four divisions of Alexander's empire, of which Syria was the most important. Near the close of that period (see the comments on “last end’’ in verse 19) a condition was to exist described by transgressors are come to the full. This subject of transgression is treated at length by comments and quotation from history at verse 12, which includes the name and some of the traits of the king referred to in this verse. Fierce countenance is defined by Strong as meaning "harsh of face." Dark sentences is from one original word which is chiydah, and Strong defines it, "A puzzle; hence a trick, conundrum, sententious [brief or pithy] maxim.” Shall stand up means to appear and become very prominent. Hence we understand that Antiochus Epipbanes waB a man with a hard looking face and a character equally harsh. He was an expert in matters of trickery, and would not hesitate to use it to his own advantage when the opportunity came before him.

Verse 24

Dan 8:24. Not by his own power is explained at length at verse 12. Prosper ana practice refers to the success of Antiochus in his wicked transactions. Destroy the mighty and holy people. Antiochus was to overthrow those with whom he came in contact, whether they be the strong people of the world or the good people of God.

Verse 25

Dan 8:25. Cause craft to prosper is explained under dark sentences In verse 23. Magnify hi rase If denotes he will be puffed up with a feeling of his own importance, and will plot and scheme various kinds of wickedness to gratify his egotism. Peace 1e from SHALYAH which Strong defines, “security (genuine or false)." Antiochus would win the confidence of men by his false promises and then would destroy them. Against the Prince of princes refers to his attack upon the institutions of God as we saw in verse 11. Be broken without hand. One word in the definition of the original for hand is "means,” and the thought is that no apparent or human means would be used to cause the ruin of Antiochus. This violent and super natural death of the wicked man is so outstanding in the annats of the times that I shaii quote from history as follows; “When this concern about these affairs was added to the former, he [Antiochus] was confounded, and, by the anxiety he was in, fell into a distemper, which, as it lasted a great while, and his pains increased upon him, so he at length perceived he should die in a little time; so he called his friends to him, and told them that his distemper was sore upon him and confessed withal, that this calamity was sent upon him for the miseries he had brought upon the Jewish nation, while he plundered their temple and condemned their God; and when he had said this he gave up the ghost.”- Josephus, Antiquities, 1291. "On his arrival thither [Antiochus Epiphanes at Ecbatana in Media], greatly grieved for this baffle and disappointment at Elymais, news came to him of what happened to Nicanor and Timotheus in Judea; at which being exceedingly enraged, he hastened back, with ali the speed be waa able, to execute the utmost of his wrath upon the people of the Jews, breathing nothing else but threats of utter destruction and utter extirpation against them all the way as he went. As he was thus hastening toward the country of Babylonia, through which he was to pass in his return, he met on the road other messengers, which brought him an account how the Jews had defeated Lysias, recovered the temple at Jerusalem, pulled down the images and altars which he had erected, and restored that place to its former worship; at which being enraged to the utmost fury, he commanded his charioteer to double his speed, that he might be the sooner on the place to execute his revenge upon the people, threatening, as he went, that he would make Jerusalem a place of sepulchre [burying place] tor the Jews, wherein he would bury the whole nation, destroying them all to a man. But while these proud words were in his mouth, the judgment of God overtook him; for he had no sooner spoken them but he was smitten with an incurable plague, a great pain seizing his bowels, and a grievous torment following thereupon in his inward parts, which no remedy could abate. However, he would not slacken his speed; but still continuing in the same wrath, he drove on the same haste to execute It, till at length, his chariot overthrowing, he was cast to the ground with such violence, that ho waa sorely bruised and hurt in all the members of his body; whereon he was put into a litter; but not being able to bear that, he was forced to put in at a town called Tabae, lying in the mountains of Paraetacene, in the coniines of Persia and Babylonia, and there betake himself to his bed, where he suffered horrid torments both in mind and body. For in his body a filthy ulcer broke out in his secret parts, wherein were bred an innumerable quantity of vermin continnally flowing from it; and such a stench proceeding from the same, as neither those that attended him nor he himself could well bear; and in this condition he lay languishing and rotting till he died. And all this while the torments of his mind were as great as the torments of his body, caused by the reflections which he made on his former actions, Polybius [a heathen historian] tells us of this, as well as Josephus, and the authors of the first and second books of Maccabees; and adds hereto, that it grew so far upon him as to come to a constant delirium, or state of madness, by reason of several spectres and apparitions of evil spirits, which he imagined were continually about him, reproaching and stinging his conscience with accusations of his past evil deeds which he had been guilty of. Polybius saith, this was for the sacrilegious attempt which he made upon the temple of Diana in Elymais, Overlooking that which he had actually executed upon the temple at Jerusalem. Josephus reproves him [Polybius] for this, and with much more reason and justice, lays the whole cause of his suffering in this sickness, as did Antiochus himself, to what lie did at Jerusalem, and the temple of God in that place, and the horrid persecution which he thereon raised against, all that worshiped him there." -Prideaux's Connexion, year 164. God used Antiochus to chastise his own people “by reason of transgression,” (verse 12), yet He was not willing that they should have charge of the last part of the just punishment upon the wicked king, but instead He struck him with a terrible affliction that tormented him in mind and body.

Verse 26

Dan 8:26. Evening; morning is in reference to the number of days mentioned in verse 14. The marginal rendering there is “evening, morning.” That agrees with the expression “evening and morning” which occurs six times in Genesis 1 in enumerating the days of creation. The things predicted in the vision were some time in the future, hence Daniel was told to shut if up or keep it a secret for the time being.

Verse 27

Dan 8:27. Daniel obeyed the instructions about keeping the vision as a secret so well that none understood it. But the tension of the whole circumstance was so great that it affected him physically for some days. He finally recovered and resumed his duties under the king which Is the meaning of did the king’s business.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Daniel 8". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/daniel-8.html. 1952.
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