Daniel 8

Listen to Daniel 8

Daniel's Vision of the Ram and the Goat

1 In the third year of the reign of 1King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, Daniel, 2after that which appeared to me 3at the first.
2 And I saw in the vision; and when I saw, I was in 4Susa the capital,[a] which is in the province of 5Elam. And 6I saw in the vision, 7and I was at the 8Ulai canal.
3 I raised my eyes and saw, and behold, 9a ram standing on the bank of the canal. It had two horns, and both horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last.
4 I saw 10the ram charging westward and northward and southward. No 11beast 12could stand before him, 13and there was no one who could rescue from his power. 14He did as he pleased and 15became great.
5 As I was considering, behold, a 16male goat came from the west across the face of the whole earth, without touching the ground. And the goat had 17a conspicuous horn between his eyes.
6 He came to 18the ram with the two horns, which I had seen standing on the bank of the canal, 19and he ran at him in his powerful wrath.
7 I saw him come close to the ram, 20and he was enraged against him and struck the ram and broke his two horns. 21And the ram had no power to stand before him, but he 22cast him down to the ground and trampled on him. And there was no one who could rescue the ram from his power.
8 Then 23the goat 24became exceedingly great, but when he was strong, the great horn was broken, and instead of it there came up four 25conspicuous horns toward 26the four winds of heaven.
9 Out of one of them came 27a little horn, which grew exceedingly great toward 28the south, toward the east, and toward 29the glorious land.
10 30It grew great, 31even to the host of heaven. And some of the host 32and some[b] of 33the stars it threw down to the ground and 34trampled on them.
11 35It became great, even as great as 36the Prince of the host. 37And the regular burnt offering was taken away from him, and the place of his sanctuary was overthrown.
12 And a host will be given over to it together with the regular burnt offering because of transgression,[c] and it will throw truth to the ground, and 38it will act and prosper.
13 Then I heard 39a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the one who spoke, 40"For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, 41the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot?"
14 And he said to me,[d]"For 2,300 42evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state."

The Interpretation of the Vision

15 When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I 43sought to understand it. And behold, there stood before me one having 44the appearance of a man.
16 45And I heard a man's voice 46between the banks of the 47Ulai, and it called, 48"Gabriel, make this man understand the vision."
17 So he came near where I stood. And when he came, 49I was frightened 50and fell on my face. But he said to me, "Understand, 51O son of man, that the vision is for 52the time of the end."
18 And when he had spoken to me, 53I fell into a deep sleep with my face to the ground. But 54he touched me and made me stand up.
19 He said, "Behold, I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of 55the indignation, for it refers to 56the appointed time of the end.
20 As for 57the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of 58Media and Persia.
21 And 59the goat[e] is the king of Greece. And 60the great horn between his eyes is 61the first king.
22 62As for the horn that was broken, in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his[f] nation, 63but not with his power.
23 And at the latter end of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their limit, a king of bold face, one who understands riddles, shall arise.
24 His power shall be great--64but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction 65and shall succeed in what he does, 66and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints.
25 67By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind 68he shall become great. 69Without warning he shall destroy many. And he 70shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken--but 71by no human hand.
26 The vision of 72the evenings and the mornings that has been told 73is true, but 74seal up the vision, 75for it refers to many days from now."
27 And 76I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days. Then I rose and went about the king's business, but I was appalled by the vision 77and did 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.

Cross References 77

Footnotes 6

  • [a]. Or the fortified city
  • [b]. Or host, that is, some
  • [c]. Or in an act of rebellion
  • [d]. Hebrew; Septuagint, Theodotion, Vulgate to him
  • [e]. Or the shaggy goat
  • [f]. Theodotion, Septuagint, Vulgate; Hebrew the

Chapter Summary


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