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Bible Commentaries

F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary
Daniel 8



Verses 1-27

WE NOW LEAVE that portion of the prophecy that deals specially with the Gentile powers; and so, as we begin chapter 8, the language of the original reverts to Hebrew from the Chaldee. The vision recorded in this chapter, is dated about two years after the one we have just considered. Though Gentile powers are still in view, the main point seems to be their action in regard to Jerusalem with its sanctuary and sacrifices. It came to Daniel not when he was in Babylon but rather in Shushan; that is, in a palace of the Medo-Persian empire, which overthrew the Babylonian, and it must have been just before that overthrow took place.

Thus before the Medo-Persian empire triumphed, its own overthrow was pictured in the mind of Daniel, since the ram with two horns clearly represented that power. The Persian horn became the dominant one, but it came up last. For a time the ram was irresistible, doing its own will and pushing in all directions.

The he goat of verse Daniel 8:5 is clearly the Grecian power, and the 'notable horn' was a prediction of Alexander the Great, who, moving with great swiftness, crushed the Persian power. Then verse Daniel 8:8 predicted the sudden end of Alexander and the division of his newly acquired dominion into four lesser ones.

Thus far, we have been given an enlarged view of what was compressed into verse Daniel 8:6 of the previous chapter; but in Daniel 8:9 we pass into predictions that are new, and that deal with happenings that would spring out of the dissolution of the Grecian empire rather than the affairs of the last days, until we come to the interpretation of the vision, which is given to us in verses Daniel 8:19-26. As is frequently the case, the interpretation travels beyond the details given in the vision.

The predictions, as to 'the little horn' and his doings, are distinct from those of the 'little horn', of Daniel 7:1-28. That was to spring out of the fourth empire in its last days: this, out of one of the four parts of the divided third empire. This striking individual was to glorify himself and reach towards the south and east and 'the pleasant land', which doubtless is Palestine. The 'stars' he would cast down, we understand to be shining servants of God. He would take away the daily sacrifice and tread the sanctuary down, dishonouring the 'prince of the host'. This was all fulfilled in the career of that evil man, known to history as Antiochus Epiphanes. He defiled the temple and tried to force heathen worship on the Jews, which led to the revolt under the Maccabees, and a time of much tribulation, until at last after the 2,300 evenings and mornings the sanctuary was cleansed. We believe that many details given in Hebrews 11:35-38, may refer to saints of those days.

When Daniel was made to understand the vision, his thoughts were soon carried on to 'what shall be in the last end of the indignation', as verse Daniel 8:19 says. Verses Daniel 8:20-22, summarize the history we have considered, and then verse Daniel 8:23 carries us on to the latter days, when two things will happen. First, transgressors will have 'come to the full'. Second, a king, marked by bold power and clever understanding, will rise up from the same quarter. This is indicated by the fact that he arises in the latter time of 'their kingdom'; that is, from the north region of Syria, whence came Antiochus of evil memory, who sprang from Seleucus, one of Alexander's generals, who became king of the north, while Ptolemy and his successors became kings of the south, or Egypt.

This coming king of the north, like Antiochus, will attempt to 'destroy the mighty and the holy people'; that is, the Israel of the last days. His doings are described in verses Daniel 8:24-25, but at the last he will 'stand up against the Prince of princes', and as a result be broken 'without hand'; that is, we understand, without human instrumentality. Here then, we have that 'king of the north', or 'the Assyrian', that figures so largely in other Old Testament prophecies, who will be destroyed by the Lord Jesus Himself when He appears in His glory, and His feet stand on the Mount of Olives, as Zechariah has predicted in the opening of Zechariah 14:1-21.

It is important, we believe, to keep clear in our minds the distinction between this 'little horn', proceeding from the third beast, and the one on the fourth beast in Daniel 7:1-28, who is supported by the false Messiah in Jerusalem, according to Revelation 13:1-18; and that means of course that he is in league with the Jew and Jerusalem, whereas this northern king is violently against them. Both, though probably not at the same moment, will be destroyed by the glorious appearing of Christ.

Daniel was assured that this vision was true and certain, though what it portrayed was distant from his days. Though the terror of it caused him to faint, he understood it not. It was to be as a sealed book in his day. It is an open vision to us, since we have the light of the New Testament and are indwelt by the Spirit of God. We may well exclaim, 'Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift'!


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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Hole, Frank Binford. "Commentary on Daniel 8:4". "F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary". 1947.

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Monday, November 30th, 2020
the First Week of Advent
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