Daniel 8

Daniel Has a Vision About a Ram and a Goat

1 It was the third year of King Belshazzar's rule. After the vision that had already appeared to me, I had another one.
2 In my vision I saw myself in the city of Susa. It has high walls around it. It is in the land of Elam. In the vision I was beside the Ulai Waterway.
3 I looked up and saw a ram that had two horns. He was standing beside the waterway. His horns were long. One of them was longer than the other. But it grew up later.
4 I watched the ram as he charged toward the west. He also charged toward the north and the south. No animal could stand up against him. Not one of them could save anyone from his power. He did as he pleased. And he became great.
5 I was thinking about all of that. Then a goat suddenly came from the west. He had a large horn between his eyes. He raced across the whole earth without even touching the ground.
6 He came toward the ram that had the two horns. It was the ram I had seen standing beside the waterway. The goat was burning with anger. He charged at the ram.
7 I saw him attack the ram with mighty force. He struck the ram and broke his two horns. The ram didn't have the power to stand up against him. The goat knocked him to the ground and stomped on him. No one could save the ram from his power.
8 The goat became very great. But when his power was at its greatest, his large horn was broken off. In its place four large horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven.
9 Out of one of the four horns came another horn. It started small but became more and more powerful. It grew to the south and to the east and toward the beautiful land of Israel.
10 It grew until it reached the stars in the sky. It threw some of them down to the earth. And it stomped on them.
11 It set itself up to be as great as God. He is the Prince of the heavenly army. It took the daily sacrifices away from him. And his temple in Jerusalem was brought low.
12 Because many of God's people refused to obey him, they were handed over to the horn. The daily sacrifices were also given over to it. It was successful no matter what it did. And the true worship of God was thrown down to the ground.
13 Then I heard a holy angel speaking. Another holy angel spoke to him. He asked, "How long will it take for the vision to come true? The daily sacrifices will be stopped. Those who refuse to obey God will be destroyed. The temple will be handed over to an enemy. And some of the stars will be stomped on."
14 One of the holy angels said to me, "It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the temple will be made holy again."

Gabriel Tells Daniel What His Vision Means

15 I was watching the vision. And I was trying to understand it. Then I saw someone who looked like a man.
16 I heard a voice from the Ulai Waterway. It called out, "Gabriel, tell Daniel what his vision means."
17 Gabriel came close to where I was standing. I was terrified and fell down flat with my face toward the ground. He said to me, "Son of man, I want you to understand that the vision tells about the time of the end."
18 While he was speaking to me, I was sound asleep. I lay with my face toward the ground. Then he touched me. He raised me to my feet.
19 He said, "I am going to tell you what will happen later. It will take place when God is angry. The vision tells about the appointed time of the end.
20 You saw a ram that had two horns. It stands for the kings of Media and Persia.
21 The goat stands for the king of Greece. The large horn between his eyes is the first king.
22 Four horns took its place when it was broken off. They stand for four kingdoms that will come from his nation. But those kingdoms will not be as powerful as his.
23 "Toward the end of their rule, those who refuse to obey God will become completely evil. Then another king will appear. He will have a mean-looking face. He will be a master at making clever plans.
24 He will become very strong. But he will not get that way by his own power. People will be amazed at the way he destroys everything. He will be successful no matter what he does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people.
25 "He will tell lies in order to succeed. He will think he is more important than anyone else. When people feel safe, he will destroy many of them. He will stand up against the greatest Prince of all. Then he will be destroyed. But he will not be killed by human beings.
26 "The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given to you is true. But seal up the vision. It tells about a time far off."
27 I was worn out. I lay sick for several days. Then I got up and returned to my work for the king. The vision bewildered me. I 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.

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