In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after that which appeared to me at the first. And I saw in the vision; and when I saw, I was in Susa the citadel, which is in the province of Elam. And I saw in the vision, and I was at the Ulai canal. I raised my eyes and saw, and behold, a 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. I saw the ram charging westward and northward and southward. No beast could stand before him, and there was no one who could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great.
As I was considering, behold, a male goat came from the west across the face of the whole earth, without touching the ground. And the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes. He came to the ram with the two horns, which I had seen standing on the bank of the canal, and he ran at him in his powerful wrath. I saw him come close to the ram, and he was enraged against him and struck the ram and broke his two horns. And the ram had no power to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled on him. And there was no one who could rescue the ram from his power. Then the goat became exceedingly great, but when he was strong, the great horn was broken, and instead of it there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven.
Out of one of them came a little horn, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land. It grew great, even to the host of heaven. And some of the host and some of the stars it threw down to the ground and trampled on them. It became great, even as great as the Prince of the host. And the regular burnt offering was taken away from him, and the place of his sanctuary was overthrown. And a host will be given over to it together with the regular burnt offering because of transgression, and it will throw truth to the ground, and it will act and prosper. Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the one who spoke, “For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot?” And he said to me, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.”
When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it. And behold, there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. And I heard a man's voice between the banks of the Ulai, and it called, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.” So he came near where I stood. And when he came, I was frightened and fell on my face. But he said to me, “Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end.”
And when he had spoken to me, I fell into a deep sleep with my face to the ground. But he touched me and made me stand up. He said, “Behold, I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation, for it refers to the appointed time of the end. As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia. And the goat is the king of Greece. And the great horn between his eyes is the first king. As for the horn that was broken, in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his nation, but not with his power. 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. His power shall be great—but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints. By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall become great. Without warning he shall destroy many. And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken—but by no human hand. The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true, but seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now.”
And I, 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 and did not understand it.
(Daniel 8 ESV)
I love the LORD, because he has heard
my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!”
Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
our God is merciful.
The LORD preserves the simple;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.
For you have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling;
I will walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.
I believed, even when I spoke:
“I am greatly afflicted”;
I said in my alarm,
“All mankind are liars.”
What shall I render to the LORD
for all his benefits to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD,
I will pay my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people.
Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of his saints.
O LORD, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.
You have loosed my bonds.
I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call on the name of the LORD.
I will pay my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the LORD,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the LORD!
(Psalm 116 ESV)
For the Love of God
TWO YEARS AFTER THE VISION OF CHAPTER 7, Daniel had his vision of the ram and the goat (Dan. 8). The text from 2:4 to the end of 7 was written in Aramaic (a cognate of Hebrew, widely used in the late Babylonian and Persian Empires). Both chapter 2 and chapter 7 provide visions that sweep through from the Babylonian period to the dawning of the kingdom of God; both of these chapters also provide some identification of the referents of the figures in their respective visions. None of the remaining chapters in the book of Daniel includes the same sweep, including the chapter before us. Here the focus is on just two beasts/kingdoms, which turn out to be the middle two of the four specified in chapters 2 and 7. Some observations:
(1) The ram has two horns, one more prominent than the other. The ram represents the Medo-Persian Empire (8:20); the more prominent horn, of course, is Persia. This has a bearing, you may recall, on how chapter 2 is interpreted (see meditation for October 17). The shaggy goat is Greece. Philip of Macedon united the Greek city-states, and his son Alexander the Great (referred to as “the first king” of Greece, 8:21) established the Greek Empire, expanding its limits to the borders of India. Along the way he prevailed against Persia. Upon his premature death, the empire was divided up under his four most powerful generals (8:8, 22). Only two of them affect biblical history, the two that established the dynasties between which little Israel, “the Beautiful Land” (8:9), was squeezed: the Ptolemies in Egypt to the south and the Seleucids based in Syria to the north. In the second century B.C., the Seleucids prevailed, and one particular Seleucid king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, became extraordinarily brutal and oppressive. He made the observance of Jewish religion a capital offense, defiled the rebuilt temple, and for three-and-a-half years (roughly 1,150 days, embracing 2,300 morning and evening sacrifices, 8:14), 167—164 B.C., wreaked havoc in the land until the guerrilla warfare led by the Maccabees forced him out of Israel and back to Syria.
(2) The vision presents itself as dealing with the “distant future” (8:26), i.e., almost four centuries after Daniel’s time. It deals with “the time of the end” (8:17). That expression means different things in different contexts. The “end” can refer to the end of the Lord’s forbearance at a particular time in history (e.g., Ezek. 7:2- 3); here, the “end” is probably with respect to the question asked in verse 13.
(3) The last verse of chapter 8 testifies that deep dealings with God, and the reception of genuine revelation, may exact a physical toll.