Daniel 8 Study Notes
8:1-27 Daniel 8:1-12:13 was written in Hebrew, focusing on God’s people during the times of the Gentiles. The vision in Dn 8 predicted events that involved the second and third world empires within a time frame from the sixth to second centuries BC.
8:1 Belshazzar became co-regent with Nabonidus in 553 BC. Assuming Daniel was about fifteen when he was exiled to Babylon, he would have received this vision in 550 BC when he was about seventy years old. Although the events in this chapter precede those described in Dn 5, they are included here because of the literary focus on Israel in the times of the Gentiles.
8:2 Daniel was probably in Babylon when he received this vision. He was only in Susa in a visionary sense.
8:3 As in the previous chapter, Daniel saw a vision of animals that stood for world empires. First, he saw a ram, representing the Medo-Persian Empire (v. 20). It had two horns, representing the two nations in this confederated empire. One was longer than the other, and the longer one came up last, signifying the dominant status of Persia in the empire, even though it originally was the weaker kingdom.
8:4 Most of the conquests of the Medo-Persian Empire were to the west, north, and south.
8:5 Daniel also saw a male goat, representing the Greek Empire. The goat’s conspicuous horn represents Alexander the Great (v. 21). The goat crossed the surface of the entire earth so rapidly that it did not touch the ground. This refers to Alexander the Great’s speedy conquest of the entire Near East in only three years.
8:6-7 The goat struck the ram and shattered his two horns, indicating the Greek Empire’s crushing defeat of Medo-Persia (331 BC).
8:8 Although the male goat acted even more arrogantly, at the height of his power the large horn was broken. This refers to Alexander’s sudden death at the peak of his greatness (323 BC). His kingdom was divided by four of his generals (Cassander over Macedon and Greece, Lysimachus over Thrace and Asia Minor, Seleucus over Syria and Babylon, Ptolemy over Egypt), described in the vision as four conspicuous horns that replaced him.
8:9-12 As opposed to the little horn that will come from the fourth kingdom (Rome) described in 7:8, a different little horn emerged out of one of the four kingdoms that divided the Greek Empire. This one was Antiochus IV (175-163 BC), ruler of the Seleucid dynasty, who conquered surrounding areas to the south and to the east but especially dominated the beautiful land of Israel. He brutally trampled and persecuted the Jewish people from 170-164 BC. Antiochus blasphemously presented himself as the Prince of the heavenly army, God himself (called the “Prince of princes” in 8:25), stopping regular sacrifice and defiling the holy temple (his sanctuary) in Jerusalem (167 BC). He was successful, but only temporarily.
8:13-14 An angel announced that Antiochus’s defilement of Israel would last only 2,300 evenings and mornings, until the temple was rededicated by Judas Maccabeus in 164 BC. This event is still celebrated by Jewish people today during the festival of Hanukkah (Eng “Dedication,” see Jn 10:22-23).
8:15-16 Daniel received the interpretation of the vision from the angel Gabriel, only one of two angels (along with Michael) who are named in Scripture. Gabriel would also give the message of Daniel’s seventy weeks (9:24-27) and announce the birth of John the Baptist to Zechariah (Lk 1:19) and the birth of the Messiah Jesus to Mary (Lk 1:26).
|Hebrew pronunciation||[tsah LAKH]|
|CSB translation||succeed, prosper, rush|
|Uses in Daniel||5|
|Uses in the OT||67|
|Focus passage||Daniel 8:12,24-25|
Tsalach has several meanings but probably involves only one root. It means succeed (Is 53:10), be successful (Jr 22:30), or prosper (Jr 12:1). Plants and people flourish (Ezk 17:9,15). Things are useful (Ezk 15:4) or of use (Jr 13:7). Tsalach suggests attain (Ezk 16:13) or avail (Dn 11:27). Modifying another verb, tsalach connotes triumphantly (Ps 45:4). The Spirit comes powerfully on someone (Jdg 14:6; 1Sm 10:6). God spreads like fire (Am 5:6). People rush somewhere (2Sm 19:17). Causative verbs also means succeed (1Ch 22:11), be successful (Dt 28:29), or prosper (Ps 1:3). They denote make a success or successful (Gn 24:40,42), cause to prosper (Dn 8:25), or give/grant success (Neh 1:11; 2:20). In narrative, tsalach often indicates political and military success (2Ch 14:7; 18:11). The rushing motion of fire and hastening people might resemble the Spirit’s controlling people. People succeeding are “getting somewhere.”
8:17 Gabriel addressed Daniel as son of man, but he did not use the Hebrew equivalent of the Aramaic title given to the Messiah, which points to Messiah’s divinity (7:13). The phrase used here emphasizes the human weakness and mortality of Daniel. Gabriel also indicated that the vision referred to the time of the end. This is surprising because all the events predicted took place between the sixth and second centuries BC and do not appear to be end-time events. Readers through the ages have identified Antiochus as the little horn of chap. 8 but also have recognized that he typifies the coming end-time antichrist. So, although this chapter does directly refer to Antiochus, it also pertains to the end times. Thus there is a double-fulfillment of this vision.
8:18-22 Here begins the interpretation of the ram and the goat.
8:23-25 After his summary explanation of Daniel’s vision, Gabriel expanded his description of Antiochus. He would take the throne through deceit against the rightful heir, his nephew Demetrius. His great power would not be his own but would have a satanic source. He would succeed at first, defeating powerful rulers and generals and destroying many of God’s holy people Israel and deceive himself, thinking himself great enough to oppose God. Nevertheless, he would ultimately and suddenly be broken, not through assassination or battle but through some ailment sent by God.
8:26 Gabriel instructed Daniel to seal up the vision not for the purpose of hiding its meaning from faithful readers of Scripture but rather to secure the document for safekeeping into the distant future, meaning the time of Antiochus (some four hundred years after the vision was given) and the time of the antichrist which is yet future and is typified by Antiochus.
8:27 Daniel did not understand the timing of the events, their full implications, or the identity of the evil king who would oppress the Jews.
Antiochus IV as a Type of the Antichrist