Daniel 8

Vision of a ram and a goat

1 In the third year of King Belshazzar's rule, a vision came to me, Daniel, some time after the earlier vision I had.
2 I saw this vision, and as I experienced it I was in the walled city of Susa in the province of Elam, by the Ulai canal.
3 When I lifted my eyes, I suddenly saw a ram with two horns standing in front of the canal. Both horns were high, but one was higher than the other. The higher one came up after the other one.
4 I saw the ram goring west, north, and south. No animal could resist the ram, and no one could stop it, rescuing others from its power. The ram did whatever it pleased. It became powerful.
5 I was trying to understand this when suddenly a he-goat came from the west, crossing the entire earth but not touching the ground. Between this goat's eyes was a horn that was a sight to see.
6 The he-goat came to the ram that had two horns, the one I'd seen standing in front of the canal. The he-goat charged the ram in powerful anger.
7 I saw the he-goat approach the ram. It was enraged at the ram and attacked it, shattering the ram's two horns. The ram couldn't resist the he-goat. The he-goat threw the ram on the ground and trampled on it. No one could rescue the ram from the he-goat's power.
8 The he-goat became even greater, but at the height of its power, its large horn snapped. In its place, four horns, each a sight to see, came up toward the four winds of heaven.
9 A single, very small horn came out of one of the four horns. It grew bigger and bigger, stretching toward the south, the east, and the beautiful country.
10 It grew as high as the heavenly forces, until it finally threw some of them and some of the stars down to the earth. Then it trampled on them.
11 It grew as high as the very leader of those forces, taking the daily sacrifice away from him and overturning his holy place.
12 In an act of rebellion, another force will take control of the daily sacrifice. It will throw truth to the ground and will succeed in everything it does.

How long?

13 I then heard a certain holy one speaking. A second holy one said to the first one: "How long will this vision last—the one concerning the daily sacrifice, the desolating rebellion, and the handing over of the sanctuary and its forces to be trampled?"
14 He said to me, "For two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary will be restored."

Vision interpreted

15 Now I, Daniel, needed help understanding the vision I saw. Suddenly standing in front of me was someone who looked like a man.
16 I then heard a human voice coming out of the center of the Ulai canal. It called out: "Gabriel, help this person understand what he has seen."
17 Gabriel approached me, and I was terrified when he came. I fell with my face to the ground. Gabriel said to me, "Know this, human one: the vision is for the end time."
18 As soon as he said this to me, I fell into a trance. My face was still on the ground. Then Gabriel touched me and set me up on my feet.
19 He said, "Now, I am going to tell you what will happen during the time of doom that is coming, because at the appointed time there will be an end.
20 The two-horned ram you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia.
21 The long-haired he-goat is the king of Greece, and the big horn between its eyes is the first king.
22 The horn that snapped so that four came up in its place means that four kingdoms will come from one nation, but these four won't have the strength of the first one.
23 When their kingship nears its end and their sins are almost complete, a king will step forward. He will be stern and a master of deception.
24 At the height of his power, he will wreak unbelievable destructions. He will succeed in all he does. He will destroy both the mighty and the people of the holy ones.
25 Along with his cunning, he will succeed by using deceit. In his own mind, he will be great. In a time of peace, he will bring destruction on many, opposing even the supreme leader. But he will be broken— and not by a human hand.
26 Now this vision of evening and morning, which has been announced, is true. But you must seal it up, because it is for days far in the future."
27 Then I, Daniel, was overwhelmed and felt sick for days. When I finally got up and went about the king's business, I remained troubled by the vision and couldn't understand it.

Daniel 8 Commentary

Chapter 8

Daniel's vision of the ram and the he-goat. (1-14) The interpretation of it. (15-27)

Verses 1-14 God gives Daniel a foresight of the destruction of other kingdoms, which in their day were as powerful as that of Babylon. Could we foresee the changes that shall be when we are gone, we should be less affected with changes in our own day. The ram with two horns was the second empire, that of Media and Persia. He saw this ram overcome by a he-goat. This was Alexander the Great. Alexander, when about thirty-three years of age, and in his full strength, died, and showed the vanity of worldly pomp and power, and that they cannot make a man happy. While men dispute, as in the case of Alexander, respecting the death of some prosperous warrior, it is plain that the great First Cause of all had no more of his plan for him to execute, and therefore cut him off. Instead of that one great horn, there came up four notable ones, Alexander's four chief captains. A little horn became a great persecutor of the church and people of God. It seems that the Mohammedan delusion is here pointed out. It prospered, and at one time nearly destroyed the holy religion God's right hand had planted. It is just with God to deprive those of the privileges of his house who despise and profane them; and to make those know the worth of ordinances by the want of them, who would not know it by the enjoyment of them. Daniel heard the time of this calamity limited and determined; but not the time when it should come. If we would know the mind of God, we must apply to Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; not hid from us, but hid for us. There is much difficulty as to the precise time here stated, but the end of it cannot be very distant. God will, for his own glory, see to the cleansing of the church in due time. Christ died to cleanse his church; and he will so cleanse it as to present it blameless to himself.

Verses 15-27 The eternal Son of God stood before the prophet in the appearance of a man, and directed the angel Gabriel to explain the vision. Daniel's fainting and astonishment at the prospect of evils he saw coming on his people and the church, confirm the opinion that long-continued calamities were foretold. The vision being ended, a charge was given to Daniel to keep it private for the present. He kept it to himself, and went on to do the duty of his place. As long as we live in this world we must have something to do in it; and even those whom God has most honoured, must not think themselves above their business. Nor must the pleasure of communion with God take us from the duties of our callings, but we must in them abide with God. All who are intrusted with public business must discharge their trust uprightly; and, amidst all doubts and discouragements, they may, if true believers, look forward to a happy issue. Thus should we endeavour to compose our minds for attending to the duties to which each is appointed, in the church and in the world.

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. Some LXX sources; MT repeats I had this vision before I was by the Ulai canal.
  • [b]. Or the daily sacrifice was taken away from him.
  • [c]. Heb uncertain
  • [d]. LXX; MT rebels
  • [e]. LXX sources; MT His power will grow strong, but not by his own power, perhaps influenced by 8:22.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO DANIEL 8

This chapter contains the vision of a ram and he goat, and the interpretation of it. It begins with observing the time and place of the vision, Da 8:1,2, then describes the ram seen; by the place of his situation; by his two horns; and by his pushing several ways with so much force and fury, that none could stand before him, or deliver: out of his hands, Da 8:3,4 next the he goat appears, and is described by the part from whence he came; the swiftness of his motion; the notable horn between his eyes; and his running to ram in great fury, smiting him between his horns, casting him to the ground, and trampling upon him, and none to deliver, Da 8:5-7 but, after waxing great and powerful, its horn was broken, and four more rose up in its stead, and out of one of them a little horn, Da 8:8,9 which little horn is described by its power and prevalence to the south and to the east, towards the pleasant land, the host of heaven, and the Prince of the host; and by it the stars were cast down and trampled upon, the daily sacrifice made to cease; the place of the sanctuary cast down, and truth itself, Da 8:9-12, and upon inquiry it appeared that these sacred things were to continue in this desolate condition unto 2300 days, Da 8:13,14. Daniel being desirous of knowing the meaning of this vision, the Angel Gabriel is ordered by Christ to give him an understanding of it; who drew near to him, and awaked him out of his sleep, and gave him the interpretation of it; Da 8:15-19, which is as follows; the ram; with two horns, signifies the kings of Media and Persia; the rough goat, the king of Greece; and the great horn the first king, Alexander the great; and the four horns, four kingdoms which rose up out of the Grecian empire upon his death, Da 8:20-22, and the little horn a king of fierce countenance, Antiochus Epiphanes; who is, described by his craft, and cunning, by his power and might, and by the destruction he should make; Da 8:23-25, this vision the angel assures the prophet was true, and bids him shut it up, since it was for many days, Da 8:26, upon which Daniel fainted, and was sick for a time; but afterwards recovered, so as to be able to do the king's business; but astonished at the vision himself, and which was not understood by others, Da 8:27.

Daniel 8 Commentaries