Daniel 8

Daniel’s Vision of a Ram and a Goat

1 In the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, I, Daniel, had a vision, after the one that had already appeared to me.
2 In my vision I saw myself in the citadel of Susa in the province of Elam; in the vision I was beside the Ulai Canal.
3 I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later.
4 I watched the ram as it charged toward the west and the north and the south. No animal could stand against it, and none could rescue from its power. It did as it pleased and became great.
5 As I was thinking about this, suddenly a goat with a prominent horn between its eyes came from the west, crossing the whole earth without touching the ground.
6 It came toward the two-horned ram I had seen standing beside the canal and charged at it in great rage.
7 I saw it attack the ram furiously, striking the ram and shattering its two horns. The ram was powerless to stand against it; the goat knocked it to the ground and trampled on it, and none could rescue the ram from its power.
8 The goat became very great, but at the height of its power the large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven.
9 Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land.
10 It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them.
11 It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the LORD; it took away the daily sacrifice from the LORD, and his sanctuary was thrown down.
12 Because of rebellion, the LORD’s people[a] and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.
13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, “How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled—the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, the surrender of the sanctuary and the trampling underfoot of the LORD’s people?”
14 He said to me, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.”

The Interpretation of the Vision

15 While I, Daniel, was watching the vision and trying to understand it, there before me stood one who looked like a man.
16 And I heard a man’s voice from the Ulai calling, “Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of the vision.”
17 As he came near the place where I was standing, I was terrified and fell prostrate. “Son of man,”[b] he said to me, “understand that the vision concerns the time of the end.”
18 While he was speaking to me, I was in a deep sleep, with my face to the ground. Then he touched me and raised me to my feet.
19 He said: “I am going to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end.[c]
20 The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia.
21 The shaggy goat is the king of Greece, and the large horn between its eyes is the first king.
22 The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation but will not have the same power.
23 “In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a fierce-looking king, a master of intrigue, will arise.
24 He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy those who are mighty, the holy people.
25 He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.
26 “The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future.”
27 I, Daniel, was worn out. I lay exhausted for several days. Then I got up and went about the king’s business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding.

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.

Cross References 51

  • 1. S Daniel 5:1
  • 2. S Daniel 1:17
  • 3. S Ezra 4:9; S Esther 2:8; Esther 1:2
  • 4. S Genesis 10:22
  • 5. Daniel 10:5
  • 6. Revelation 13:11
  • 7. Isaiah 41:3
  • 8. Daniel 11:3,16
  • 9. S Daniel 7:7
  • 10. Daniel 11:11,16
  • 11. 2 Chronicles 26:16-21; S Daniel 5:20
  • 12. S Daniel 7:2; Revelation 7:1
  • 13. Daniel 7:8
  • 14. S Ezekiel 20:6; Daniel 11:16
  • 15. S Isaiah 14:13
  • 16. Revelation 8:10; Revelation 12:4
  • 17. S Daniel 7:7
  • 18. ver 25
  • 19. Daniel 11:36-37
  • 20. Ezekiel 46:13-14
  • 21. Daniel 11:31; Daniel 12:11
  • 22. S Isaiah 48:1
  • 23. S Deuteronomy 33:2; S Daniel 4:23
  • 24. Daniel 12:6
  • 25. S Isaiah 28:18; S Luke 21:24; Revelation 11:2
  • 26. Daniel 12:11-12
  • 27. ver 1
  • 28. S Ezekiel 2:1; Daniel 10:16-18
  • 29. ver 2
  • 30. Daniel 9:21; S Luke 1:19
  • 31. S Daniel 7:16
  • 32. Ezekiel 1:28; Ezekiel 44:4; S Daniel 2:46; Revelation 1:17
  • 33. ver 19; Habakkuk 2:3
  • 34. Daniel 10:9
  • 35. S Ezekiel 2:2; Daniel 10:16-18; Zechariah 4:1
  • 36. S Isaiah 10:25
  • 37. S Psalms 102:13
  • 38. Habakkuk 2:3
  • 39. S Ezekiel 27:10
  • 40. Daniel 10:20
  • 41. Daniel 11:3
  • 42. S Daniel 7:25; Daniel 11:36
  • 43. Daniel 11:23
  • 44. Daniel 11:36
  • 45. S Daniel 2:34; Daniel 11:21
  • 46. Daniel 10:1
  • 47. S Isaiah 8:16; S Isaiah 29:11; Revelation 10:4; Revelation 22:10
  • 48. Daniel 10:14
  • 49. Daniel 10:8
  • 50. S Daniel 2:48
  • 51. S Isaiah 21:3; S Daniel 4:19; Daniel 7:28

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Or "rebellion, the armies"
  • [b]. The Hebrew phrase "ben adam" means "human being" . The phrase "son of man" is retained as a form of address here because of its possible association with “Son of Man” in the New Testament.
  • [c]. Or "because the end will be at the appointed time"

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