The Book of Daniel Chapter Eight
by Cooper P Abrams III
Daniel's Second Vision of the Ram, He-Goat and Little Horn
The last five chapters of Daniel (Daniel 8-12) were written in Hebrew indicating they were primary for Israel. In contrast chapters 2:4-7:28 were written in Aramaic giving them a wider distribution to both the people of Babylon and Israel. The Aramaic section begins and ends with the subject of the four nations, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greek and Roman Empires. The book of Jeremiah is written in Hebrew, however there is one verse in that book that is in Aramaic and clearly the message is also both to Israel and the Gentile nations:
The last five chapters of Daniel (Daniel 8-12) were written in Hebrew indicating they were primary for Israel. In contrast chapters 2:4-7:28 were written in Aramaic giving them a wider distribution to both the people of Babylon and Israel. The Aramaic section begins and ends with the subject of the four nations, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greek and Roman Empires. The book of Jeremiah is written in Hebrew, however there is one verse in that book that is in Aramaic and clearly the message is also both to Israel and the Gentile nations: "Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens" (Jeremiah 10:11).
Daniel's second vision takes place in 551BC. Nebuchadnezzar has died and his son Nabonidus is the king of the Empire. However, Nabonidus has moved to Arabia and left Babylon in the hands of his inapt son Belshazzar. 1 The time of this vision was in the third year of Belshazzar's reign and about two years after the vision of Chapter 7 and just before the fall of Babylon. This vision does not mention the Medo-Persian Empire, but addresses the Persian and Greek Empires. Cyrus, the Persian prince, with a year, conquered the great Median Empire to the north that had formed the Medo-Persian Empire. This sets the stage for this dual kingdom to attack and overcome Babylon in 539 BC, twelve years later. Daniel's Second Vision Daniel 8:1-14
Daniel states this vision follows his first vision of chapter 7 and he explains exactly where he was in the vision, though he was not personally there. "I was in the fortress of Shushan, which is in the province of Elam. And I saw in the vision, and I was by the river Ulai." (Dan. 8:1-2).
Shushan (Susa) was the capital of Persia after Cyrus' time. Elam the name of the providence and was west of Persia proper, east of Babylonia, south of Media. Ulai (or Eulaeus) was a river east of Susa in Persia. Susa was the winter residence for the Persian kings. In 324 BC Alexander the Great returned there after his conquests and set up his headquarters.
Daniel sees a ram come up to the river which had two horns. One horn was higher than the others. The horn in Eastern culture is symbolic of power and royalty. The two horns represent the Persian period beginning with the power being shared between Media in the north and Persia in the south. However, in the time of Cyrus the Great, the Persians became the dominate power and the Median influenced faded out of the picture. Thus, the first horn was Darius the Mede and the second and greater horn was Cyrus, king of Persia. (Daniel 8:3)
The ram pushing westward was the Persian king, Cyrus who with his great military power conquered westward the countries of Babylon, Mesopotamia, Syria, Asia Minor. Northward he overcame Colchis, Armenia, Iberia, and the dwellers on the Caspian Sea. Cyrus's southward victories referred to Judea, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya; also India, under Darius. Daniel does not mention eastward, for the Persians themselves came from the east. 2
Daniel next sees a male goat which comes for the west and goes across the whole earth. The swiftness of his covering the earth is such that it appears he does not touch the ground. This male or he-goat has the notable characteristic of having a horn between his eyes. Looking back in history we know this male goat was the Greek Empire (Macedonia) lead by Alexander the Great. In a short twelve years Alexander, appeared destroying the Persians and overrunning and conquering most of the known world. The mention of the ram standing by the river refers to the River Granicus where Alexander, defeated Daruis in 334 BC. The reference to Greece as a goat probably refers to Caranus, the first king of Macedonia, was said to have been led by goats to Edessa, which he made the seat of his kingdom, and called ?e, that is, "goat-city." 3
This prophecy is given with incredible detail written hundreds of years before these events took place. Daniel predicts the death of Alexander and the dividing up of his Empire between his four generals. Although Alexander grew to be the most powerful man on earth to this time, he died. He was not yet thirty two years old, and as the result of his sinful life style he died in 332 BC. Although Alexander was a powerful military leader, who some say was the greatest the world has known, he did not organize and consolidate his conquered nations into a strong Empire. Thus at his death his generals began to vie power for themselves. In less than fifteen months Alexander's half brother and his two sons were murdered leaving Empire without a leader.
None of his generals had the power or leadership to replace Alexander by themselves, so his four generals split up the Empire. Seleucus, in the east, obtained Syria, Babylonia, and Media. Cassander, in the west took Macedon Thessaly, and Greece. Ptolemy, in the south procured Egypt, and Cyprus. Lysimachus, in the north, secured Thrace, Cappadocia, and the north parts of Asia Minor.
The Divided Greek Empire
This "Little Horn" should not be confused with the little horn of Daniel 7:8 who is the coming Antichrist. This little horn comes from among the existing four horns which refer to Alexander's generals who divided the Greek Empire. This leader extends his power southward, eastward and toward "the beauty of the earth" which is a reference to Israel.
History identifies this figure which Daniel foretold would come into power. This little horn is Antiochus Epiphanes, who as Daniel 8:23 describes as a "king of fierce countenance." Antiochus Epiphanes IV was a Syrian tyrant of the 2nd century B.C. and was a vicious enemy of the Jewish people. After Alexander died the Greek Empire was divided into four parts and Seleucus took area to the north and east (see the above map). He was killed by a usurper named Heliodorus, who himself was ousted by Antiochus Epiphanes IV the subject of Daniel's prophecy. Daniel detailed some of the exploits of this political monster centuries before he existed..
Coins with Anticohus Epiphanes' picture.
Antiochus Epiphanes outlawed Judaism and desecrating the sacred Hebrew temple in Jerusalem. (Dan. 8:11-12) The Jews made a pun on his name calling him "Epimanes" or "madman." In 170 Antiochus made a law that requiring all citizens to present themselves four times a year to pay formal homage to himself as the superior god of the Seleucids.
The day of worshiping the king was the Sabbath. 167 BC he desecrated the Temple by having a pig sacrificed on the altar. For the Jews this was sacrilege and they revolted and set up of a new state in which the high priest was the central figure. This revolt is called the Maccebean revolt and gained the Jews their independence. Aided by the Romans, the Jews lead by an aged priest named Mattathias and his five sons forced the Syrians out of Israel and they gained their independence.
The revolt began when the Syrians called a meeting of the Jews in order to force them to comply with Syrian demands. The Syrians pressured a Jewish priest to officiate who proceeded to publically offer a pig as a sacrifice on a Jewish altar. Coin with the likeness of Antiochus Epiphanes
Mathathias was enraged and attacked and killed the Jew who attempted to offer the sacrifice. The family of Mattathias became known as the Maccabees, from the Hebrew word for "hammer," because they were said to strike hammer blows against their enemies.
Daniel's prophecy although involves Antiochus Epiphanes it also has a more far reaching prediction. The prophecy foreshadows the coming Antichrist of Daniel's 70th week or the Seven Year Tribulation that will follow the rapture of the body of Christ. This is clearly indicated by statements "of the time of the end" (8:17) or "the final period of the indignation" (8:19) which refers to the end of the age or the coming time when God will pour out His wrath on the earth followed by the return of Jesus the Messiah. Thus, Antiochus Epiphanes prefigures the king of the north of Daniel 11:6 who is the coming Antichrist revealed in the future seven year Tribulation. More will be said of this.
Daniel, in his vision overhears one saint speaking to another and asking how long will this sacrilege of the Temple and of God be allowed to continue. The answer is given of 2300 days and the sanctuary (Temple) would be cleansed. Contextually, the period of 2300 day (literally "morning and evenings") is related to Antiochus Epiphanes.
The Jewish historian Josephus states that the period of Antiochus' desolation of the Temple was three years. However, the period of time seems to be the period from when the corrupt high priest Jason began to neglect the daily sacrifices in the Temple and introduced Greek customs and amusements in Jerusalem, until the Temple was cleansed after Israel regained control of their country in ninth month, 24th day of 164 BC.
At this point Daniel is puzzled by what he had seen and then hears a voice, which is apparently God, telling Gabriel the angel, to reveal to Daniel the interpretation of the dream. This is the first time in the Bible an angel is named. Five hundred years later Gabriel appeared to Zacharias, to reveal to him he would have a son, who was John the Baptist.(Luke 1:19) Six month later he told Mary of her conception by the Holy Spirit and birth of Jesus the Messiah. (Luke 1:26) The only other angel named in Scripture is Michael. Gabriel reveals in Daniel 10:20-21 that the angel Michael was the protector of Israel. Jude 9 tells us that Michael was an archangel and that he disputed with Satan over the body of Moses. Revelation 12:7-9 says that Michael and his host of angels will defeat Satan and cast him out of heaven in the middle of the Tribulation.
Gabriel calls Daniel "son of man" which indicates man's frailty and inability to grasp the magnitude of God's person and plans. He specifically states that the vision is referring to the end time. The end time is an expression that refers to the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and the related events. Daniel is overcome physically and falls to the ground in fear. He loses consciousness and the angel touches him and sets Daniel up. Gabriel again tells him what he saw was related to the end times.
It is an important truth that the Bible interprets itself. This is a classic example. Gabriel explains that the two horns represented the kings of Media and Persia. Consider that this is prophecy and none of the events had occurred. The he or shaggy goat was the kingdom of Greece and the large horn between the eyes of the goat was its king. Further the broken horn (Greece after Alexander's death) and the four horns are the four nations that arose from that now weaker nation. (Dan. 8:22)
Gabriel again mentions the chronology of the events using the phrase "the latter period". Clearly this is a reference to the coming Antichrist, because Antiochus Epiphanes did not come in the "latter period." Further evidence it that the Seleucid Empire which Antiochus ruled continued on for a hundred years after his death. This clearly indicates that the "the latter period" refers to the end of the "times of the Gentiles" before the Messiah returns and sets up His Millennial Kingdom. (Dan. 8:23)
Daniel is told that the ruler, coming in the latter period, will be mighty, but not in his own power. This is of course means the Antichrist will be empowered by Satan and will oppose the Prince of princes which refers the Lord Jesus Christ. The end of the Antichrist will not be by human hands, but by the Messiah Himself. Without doubt Gabriel is predicting the coming of the reign of the Antichrist.
The dream physically drained Daniel to the point he fainted again and was sick for many days. However, Daniel soon regains his strength and goes about his duties for the Babylonian king, Belshazzar. Although God had revealed much to Daniel he still did not know the names of these coming kings or understand the times these events would take place.