Daniel 8

The Vision of a Ram and a Goat

1 In the third year of King Belshazzar's reign, a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after the one that had appeared to me earlier.
2 I saw the vision, and as I watched, I was in the fortress city of Susa,[a] in the province of Elam. I saw in the vision that I was beside the Ulai Canal.
3 I looked up,[b] and there was a ram[c] standing beside the canal. He had two horns. The two horns were long, but one was longer than the other, and the longer one came up last.
4 I saw the ram charging to the west, the north, and the south. No animal could stand against him, and there was no rescue from his power. He did whatever he wanted and became great.
5 As I was observing, a male goat[d] appeared, coming from the west across the surface of the entire earth without touching the ground. The goat had a conspicuous horn[e] between his eyes.[f]
6 He came toward the two-horned ram I had seen standing beside the canal and rushed at him with savage fury.
7 I saw him approaching the ram, and infuriated with him, he struck the ram, shattering his two horns, and the ram was not strong enough to stand against him. The goat threw him to the ground and trampled him, and there was no one to rescue the ram from his power.
8 Then the male goat became very great, but when he became powerful, the large horn was shattered. Four conspicuous horns came up in its place, [pointing] toward the four winds of heaven.[g]

The Little Horn

9 From one of them a little horn[h] emerged and grew extensively toward the south and the east and toward the beautiful land.[i][j]
10 It grew as high as the heavenly host, made some of the stars and some of the host fall to the earth, and trampled them.[k]
11 It made itself great, even up to the Prince[l] of the host;[m] it removed His daily sacrifice[n] and overthrew the place of His sanctuary.
12 Because of rebellion, a host, together with the daily sacrifice, will be given over. The horn will throw truth to the ground and will be successful in whatever it does.
13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the speaker, "How long will [the events of] this vision last-the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and of the host to be trampled?"
14 He said to me,[o] "For 2,300 evenings and mornings;[p] then the sanctuary will be restored."

Interpretation of the Vision

15 While I, Daniel, was watching the vision and trying to understand it, there stood before me someone who appeared to be a man.
16 I heard a human voice calling from the middle of the Ulai:[q] "Gabriel,[r] explain the vision to this man."
17 So he approached where I was standing; when he came near, I was terrified and fell facedown. "Son of man," he said to me, "understand that the vision refers to the time of the end."
18 While he was speaking to me, I fell into a deep sleep, with my face [to the ground]. Then he touched me, made me stand up,
19 and said, "I am here to tell you what will happen at the conclusion of the time of wrath, because it refers to the appointed time of the end.
20 The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia.
21 The shaggy goat represents the king of Greece, and the large horn between his eyes represents the first king.[s]
22 The four horns that took the place of the shattered horn represent four kingdoms. They will rise from that nation, but without its power.
23 Near the end of their kingdoms, when the rebels have reached the full measure of their sin,[t] an insolent king, skilled in intrigue,[u] will come to the throne.
24 His power will be great, but it will not be his own. He will cause terrible destruction and succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the powerful along with the holy people.[v]
25 He will cause deceit to prosper through his cunning and by his influence, and in his own mind he will make himself great. In [a time of] peace, he will destroy many; he will even stand against the Prince of princes. But he will be shattered, not by human hands.
26 The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true. Now you must seal up the vision because it refers to many days [in the future]."
27 I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for days. Then I got up and went about the king's business. I was greatly disturbed by the vision and could not 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 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