Daniel 7


The prophet having, in the preceding chapters of this book,

related some remarkable events concerning himself and his

brethren in the captivity, and given proof of his being

enabled, by Divine assistance, to interpret the dreams of

others, enters now into a detail of his own visions, returning

to a period prior to the transactions recorded in the last

chapter. The first in order of the prophet's visions is that

of the four beasts, which arose out of a very tempestuous

ocean, 1-9;

and of one like the Son of man who annihilated the dominion of

the fourth beast, because of the proud and blasphemous words of

one of its horns, 9-14.

An angel deciphers the hieroglyphics contained in this chapter,

declaring that the FOUR beasts, diverse one from another,

represent the FOUR PARAMOUNT empires of the habitable globe,

which should succeed each other; and are evidently the same

which were shadowed forth to Nebuchadnezzar by another set of

hieroglyphics, (see the second chapter,) 15-26.

But for the consolation of the people of God, it is added that,

at the time appointed in the counsel of Jehovah, "the kingdom

and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole

heaven, shall be given to the saints of the Most High;" and

that this kingdom shall never be destroyed or transferred to

another people, as all the preceding dominations have been,

but shall itself stand for ever, 27, 28.

It will be proper to remark that the period of a time, times,

and a half, mentioned in the twenty-fifth verse as the duration

of the dominion of the little horn that made war with the

saints, (generally supposed to be a symbolical representation

of the papal power,) had most probably its commencement in

A.D. 755 or 756, when Pepin, king of France, invested the pope

with temporal power. This hypothesis will bring the conclusion

of the period to about the year of Christ 2000, a time fixed

by Jews and Christians for some remarkable revolution; when

the world, as they suppose, will be renewed, the wicked cease

from troubling the Church, and the saints of the Most High

have dominion over the whole habitable globe. But this is all



Verse 1. In the first year of Belshazzar] This is the same

Belshazzar who was slain at the taking of Babylon, as we have seen

at the conclusion of Da 5:30, 31. That chapter should have

followed both this and the succeeding. The reason why the fifth

chapter was put in an improper place was, that all the historic

parts might be together, and the prophetic be by themselves; and,

accordingly, the former end with the preceding chapter, and the

latter with this. The division therefore is not chronological but

merely artificial.

Told the sum of the matters.] That he might not forget this

extraordinary dream, he wrote down the leading particulars when he


Verse 2. The four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea]

The idea of strife is taken here from the effects that must be

produced, were the east, the west, the north, and the south winds

to rise tempestuously, and meet on the surface of the sea. By the

great sea, the Mediterranean is meant; and is so called to

distinguish it from those lakes called seas by the Hebrews; such

as the Sea of Galilee, Dead Sea, Sea of Tiberias, &c.; but even

that may refer to Asia, the scene of all these contentions. This

dream is the same in meaning, under different emblems, as that of

Nebuchadnezzar's metallic image; but in Daniel's dream several

circumstances are added. It is supposed that Daniel had this dream

about forty-eight years after Nebuchadnezzar had the vision of the

great image.

Verse 3. Four great beasts came up from the sea] The term sea,

in Hebrew yam, from hamah, to be tumultuous, agitated,

&c., seems to be used here to point out the then known terraqueous

globe, because of its generally agitated state; and the four winds

striving, point out those predatory wars that prevailed almost

universally among men, from the days of Nimrod, the founder of the

Assyrian or Babylonish monarchy, down to that time, and in the end

gave birth to the four great monarchies which are the subject of

this vision.

Diverse one from another.] The people were different; the laws

and customs different; and the administration of each differently


Verse 4. The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings] Bp.

Newton well remarks, that these great beasts, as explained by

the angel, Da 7:17, are

kingdoms. They arise out of a stormy and tempestuous sea; that

is, out of the wars and commotions of the world; and they are

called great in comparison of other states and kingdoms, and are

denominated beasts for their tyrannical and cruel oppression.

These four beasts are indeed monstrous productions; a lion with

eagle's wings; a bear with three ribs in its mouth; a leopard with

four wings, and four heads; and a beast with ten horns. But such

emblems and hieroglyphics were usual among the eastern nations, as

may be seen in the monuments of antiquity. A winged lion, and such

like fictitious animals, may be seen in many parts of the ruins of

Persepolis. Horns are attributed to beasts which naturally have

none, being used in hieroglyphic writings for symbols of strength

and power. And such figures are supposed to be the symbols of

different nations; and are not more strange than many that are

still used in heraldry. I believe the science of heraldry arose

out of the knowledge gained from the symbols used in the Sacred

Writings, and the little acquaintance anciently obtained of the

meaning of some of the Egyptian hieroglyphics. Hence our wiverons,

griffins, unicorns, with a congeries of natural and unnatural

things, split eagles, two-headed swans, &c., &c., &c.

The beast like a lion is the kingdom of the Babylonians; and the

king of Babylon is compared to a lion, Jer 4:7; Isa 5:29; and

is said to fly as an eagle, Jer 48:40; Eze 17:3, 7. The

lion is considered the king of the beasts, and the eagle the

king of the birds; and therefore the kingdom of Babylon, which

was signified by the golden head of the great image, was the first

and noblest of all the kingdoms; and was the greatest then in

being. The wings of the eagle denote the rapidity with which the

lion-Nebuchadnezzar, made his conquests; for in a few years, by

his own arms, he brought his empire to such an extent, and raised

it to such a degree of eminence, as was truly surprising; and all

tended to show with what propriety this eagle-winged lion is here

made his emblem.

The wings thereof were plucked] Lydia, Media, and Persia, which

had been provinces of the Babylonish empire, cast off the yoke,

and put themselves under kings of their own. Besides, the rapidity

of its conquests was stopped by its wars with the Medes and

Persians; by whom it was at last conquered, and divided between

Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian.

And it was lifted up from the earth] That is, the wings were

plucked, rendered unfit for farther flight, by which it had before

been lifted up from the earth; making its conquests almost with

the rapidity of an eagle's flight. In what a short time did

Nebuchadnezzar, who is here chiefly intended, conquer Syria,

Phoenicia, Judea, Egypt, Arabia, &c.! But on his death the wings

were plucked; and no farther extension of the empire took place

under Evil-merodach or Belshazzar, till it was lost by the latter,

and became divided as we have seen above.

And made stand upon the feet as a man] This I think refers to

the taming of Nebuchadnezzar's pride. He had acted like a fierce

and ravening lion. God struck him with insanity; he then lived the

life of a beast, and had a beast's heart-disposition, and habits.

At last God restored him.

And a man's heart was given to it] He became humane, humble, and

pious; and in this state he appears to have died.

Verse 5. Another beast-like to a bear] This was the Medo-Persian

empire, represented here under the symbol of the bear, as the

largest species of these animals was found in Media, a

mountainous, cold, and rough country, covered with woods. The

Medes and Persians are compared to a bear on account of their

cruelty and thirst after blood, a bear being a most voracious

and cruel animal; the bear is termed by Aristotle an all-devouring

animal; and the Medo-Persians are known to have been great robbers

and spoilers. See Jer 51:48-56. The Persians were notorious for

the cruelty of their punishments. See Calmet.

Raised up itself on one side] Cyrus arose on the borders of

Chaldea, and thus the bear appeared to put itself in the position

to attack the lion.

It had three ribs in the mouth of it] As if it had just finished

its repast on some animal that it had seized. Some think three

tusks, curved like ribs, are meant; others three throats,

illin, by which it (Cyrus) had absorbed the three empires of the

Babylonians, Medes, and Persians; for these symbolic animals do

not so much denote four empires, as four kings. See Da 7:17.

Others think three row of teeth are meant to denote the triple

power of the Medes, Persians, and Babylonians, conjoined. Or the

east, north, and south, which were subdued by the Persians. But

the ribs being between the teeth of the bear may show how Babylon,

Lydia, and Egypt were ground and oppressed by the bear-the

Persians; though, as ribs strengthen the body, they were a

powerful support to their conquerors.

Verse 6. Another like a leopard-four wings-four heads] This was

the Macedonian or Greek empire; and Alexander the Great its king.

Alexander and his subjects are fitly compared to a leopard. 1. The

leopard is remarkable for its swiftness. Alexander and the

Macedonians were very rapid in their conquests. 2. The leopard is

a spotted animal; a proper emblem of the various nations, with

their various customs and languages, which constituted the

Macedonian empire. It may refer to the character of Alexander

himself, sometimes mild, at others cruel; sober and drunken;

continent and lecherous; having a great power of self-government,

and at other times being a slave to his passions. 3. The leopard,

though small, is not afraid to attack the lion.

Four wings of a fowl] The Babylonian empire was represented with

two wings; and they sufficiently marked the rapidity of

Nebuchadnezzar's conquests; but the Macedonian has here four

wings; for nothing, in the history of the world, was equal to

the conquests of Alexander, who ran through all the countries from

Illyricum and the Adriatic Sea to the Indian Ocean and the River

Ganges; and in twelve years subdued part of Europe, and all Asia.

The beast had also four heads] Signifying the empire after the

death of Alexander, divided between his four generals. Cassander

reigning over Macedon and Greece; Lysimachus, over Thrace and

Bithynia; Ptolemy, over Egypt; and Seleucus, over Syria.

Dominion was given to it.] It was not owing to the skill,

courage, or valour of Alexander and his troops, that he made those

wondrous conquests; the nations were given to him. For, as Bishop

Newton says, had he not been assisted by the mighty power of

God, how could he, with only thirty thousand men, have overcome

Darius with six hundred thousand; and in so short a time have

brought the countries from Greece as far as India into subjection?

Verse 7. I saw-a fourth beast-it had great iron teeth] This is

allowed, on all hands, to be the Roman empire. It was dreadful,

terrible, and exceeding strong: it devoured, and brake in pieces,

and stamped the residue, that is, the remains of the former

kingdoms, with its feet. It reduced Macedon into a Roman province

about one hundred and sixty-eight years before Christ; the kingdom

of Perpamos about one hundred and thirty-three years; Syria

about sixty-five; and Egypt about thirty years before Christ.

And, besides the remains of the Macedonian empire, it subdued many

other provinces and kingdoms; so that it might, by a very usual

figure, be said to devour the whole earth, to tread it down, and

break it to pieces; and became in effect, what the Roman writers

delight to call it, the empire of the whole world.

It (the fourth beast) was diverse from all the beasts that were

before it] Not only in its republican form of government, but also

in power and greatness, extent of dominion, and length of


It had ten horns] The ten kingdoms into which the Roman empire

was afterwards divided. Calmet says, ten Syrian kings: and he

finds them thus:-1. Seleucus Nicator. 2. Antiochus Soter. 3.

Antiochus Theos. 4. Antiochus Callinicus. 5. Seleucus Ceraunus. 6.

Antiochus the Great. 7. Seleucus, surnamed Philopater, brother of

Antiochus Epiphanes. 8. Laomedon of Mitylene, to whom Syria and

Phoenicia had been intrusted. 9. Antigone. And, 10. His son

Demetrius, who possessed those provinces, with the title of kings.

This is too much like forced work. There are different opinions

concerning these ten kings; or rather which they were that

constituted this division of the Roman empire. They are reckoned

thus:-1. The Roman senate. 2. The Greeks, in Ravenna. 3. The

Lombards in Lombardy. 4. The Huns in Hungary. 5. The

Alemans, in Germany. 6. The Franks in France. 7. The

Burgundians in Burgundy.. 8. The Saracens in Africa, and a part

of Spain. 9. The Goths, in other parts of Spain. 10. And the

Saxons, in Britain.

Verse 8. Another little horn] Among Protestant writers this is

considered to be the popedom.

Before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up]

These were probably, 1. The exarchate of Ravenna. 2. The kingdom

of the Lombards. And, 3. The state of Rome. The first was given

to the Pope, Stephen II., by Pepin, king of France, A.D. 755; and

this constituted the pope's temporal princes. The second was given

to St. Peter by Charlemagne, in 774. The third, the state of Rome,

was vested in the pope, both in spirituals and temporals, and

confirmed to him by Lewis the pious. These are the three horns

which were plucked up from the roots before the little horn.

Were eyes like the eyes of a man] Intimating cunning and

superintendence; for the pope calls himself Episcopus

episcoporum, the Overseer of overseers.

And a mouth speaking great things.] Full of boasting; pretending

to unlimited jurisdiction; binding and loosing at pleasure;

promising to absolve from all sins, present, past, and future; and

threatening to send to everlasting destruction all kings,

kingdoms, and individuals, who would dare to dispute his power and


Verse 9. The thrones were cast down] might be translated

erected, so the Vulgate, positi sunt, and so all the versions;

but that ours is a proper translation, is sufficiently evident

from Da 3:6, 16, 20; 6:17, &c.; where the original word can be

used in no other sense than that of throwing or casting down.

There is a reference here to preparations made for a general

assize, or to the convocation of the sanhedrin, where the father

of the consistory sat with his assessors on each side in the form

of a semicircle, and the people stood before them.

The Ancient of days] God Almighty; and this is the only place in

the sacred writings where God the Father is represented in a human


Verse 10. A fiery stream issued] This is not spoken of the final

judgment; but of that which he was to execute upon this fourth

beast, the Roman empire; and the little boasting horn, which is a

part of the fourth beast, and must fall when the other falls.

Verse 11. I beheld then because of the voice (or, the beast will

be destroyed because) of the great words which the horn spake-his

body destroyed] When the dominion was taken from the rest of the

beasts, their bodies were not destroyed, but suffered to

continue still in being; but when the dominion shall be taken away

from this beast, his body shall be totally destroyed; because

other kingdoms succeeded to those, but no other earthly kingdom

shall succeed to this.-Bishop Newton.

Verse 13. One like the Son of man came with the clouds of

heaven] This most certainly points out the Lord Jesus,

bar enosh, the Son of miserable man; who took our nature upon

him that he might redeem us unto himself. To prove himself to be

the Messiah he applies, before the high priests, these words of

the Prophet Daniel to himself Mt 24:30.

Near before him.] The Ancient of days.

Verse 14. And there was given him dominion] This also is applied

to our Lord Jesus by himself, after his resurrection, Mt 28:18.

His dominion is an everlasting dominion] Christianity shall

increase, and prevail to the end of the world. See the parallel

passages in the margin.

Verse 15. I Daniel was grieved, &c.] The words in the original

are uncommonly emphatic. My spirit was grieved, or sickened,

bego nidneh, within its sheath or scabbard. Which I

think proves, 1. That the human spirit is different from the body.

2. That it has a proper subsistence independently of the body,

which is only its sheath for a certain time. 3. That the spirit

may exist independently of its body, as the sword does

independently of its sheath.

Verse 17. These great beasts-are four kings] See the preceding

verses, where the following explanations are inserted and


Verse 18. But the saints of the Most High shall take the

kingdom] I doubt whether this be the true sense of the original

Chaldee, vikabbelun malcutha

kaddishey elyonin, "But the supreme holy ones shall receive the

kingdom;" or, "they shall receive the kingdom of the supreme

saints." Properly translated by Montanus, Et suscipient regnum

sanctorum altissimorum. Whatever we may think of the patriarchs

and the Jews in their best times, there has never been so much

holiness of heart possessed, and so much righteousness practised,

as by the genuine disciples of Christ. Christianity alone has

provided a full redemption for man. They are the chief saints, and

to them God gives the kingdom: and this Gospel dispensation,

called often the kingdom of God, and the kingdom of heaven, shall

last for ever, during the whole lapse of time; and for ever and

ever-throughout eternity, shall they and its blessings endure.

Verse 19. His nails of brass] This is not mentioned in the

seventh verse, where the description of the beast is given. It

might be added, for the first time, by the person who is now

explaining the fourth beast. Houbigant thinks it has been lost out

of the text: but such loss is not intimated by any MS.; nor does

any of the ancient Versions acknowledge this addition in the

seventh verse.

Verse 21. The same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed

against them.] Those who make Antiochus the little horn, make the

saints the Jewish people. Those who understand the popedom by

it, see this as referring to the cruel persecutions of the popes

of Rome against the Waldenses and Albigenses, and the Protestant

Church in general.

Verse 22. Saints of the Most High] To the supereminent saints;

See Clarke on Da 7:18.

Verse 25. He shall speak great words against the Most High]

Sermones quasi Deus loquetur; "He shall speak as if he were God."

So St. Jerome quotes from Symmachus. To none can this apply so

well or so fully as to the popes of Rome. They have assumed

infallibility, which belongs only to God. They profess to

forgive sins, which belongs only to God. They profess to open and

shut heaven, which belongs only to God. They profess to be higher

than all the kings of the earth, which belongs only to God. And

they go beyond God in pretending to loose whole nations from their

oath of allegiance to their kings, when such kings do not please

them! And they go against God when they give indulgences for sin.

This is the worst of all blasphemies!

And shall wear out the saints] By wars, crusades, massacres,

inquisitions, and persecutions of all kinds. What in this way have

they not done against all those who have protested against their

innovations, and refused to submit to their idolatrous worship?

Witness the exterminating crusades published against the Waldenses

and Albinenses. Witness John Huss, and Jerome of Prague.

Witness the Smithfield fires in England! Witness God and man

against this bloody, persecuting, ruthless, and impure Church!

And think to charge tines and laws] Appointing fasts and feasts;

canonizing persons whom he chooses to call saints; granting

pardons and indulgences for sins; instituting new modes of worship

utterly unknown to the Christian Church; new articles of faith;

new rules of practice; and reversing, with pleasure, the laws both

of God and man.-Dodd.

Until a time and times and the dividing of time.] In prophetic

language a time signifies a year; and a prophetic year has a

year for each day. Three years and a half (a day standing

for a year, as in Da 9:24) will amount to

one thousand two hundred and sixty years, if we reckon thirty

days to each month, as the Jews do.

If we knew precisely when the papal power began to exert itself

in the antichristian way, then we could at once fix the time of

its destruction. The end is probably not very distant; it has

already been grievously shaken by the French. In 1798 the French

republican army under General Berthier took possession of the city

of Rome, and entirely superseded the whole papal power. This was a

deadly wound, though at present it appears to be healed; but it is

but skinned over, and a dreadful cicatrice remains. The Jesuits,

not JESUS, are now the Church's doctors.

If the papal power, as a horn or temporal power, be intended

here, which is most likely, (and we know that that power was given

in 755 to Pope Stephen II. by Pepin, king of France,) counting one

thousand two hundred and sixty years from that, we are brought to

A.D. 2015, about one hundred and ninety years from the present

[A.D. 1825.] But I neither lay stress upon nor draw conclusions

from these dates. If the Church of Rome will reform itself, it

will then be the true Christian Church, and will never be

destroyed. Let it throw aside all that is ritually Jewish, all

that is heathen; all that which pretends to be of God, and which

is only of man; all doctrines that are not in the Bible; and all

rites and ceremonies which are not of the appointment of Christ

and his apostles; and then, all hail the once Roman, but now,

after such a change, the HOLY, Catholic Church! Every true

Protestant would wish rather the reform than the extinction of

this Church.

Verse 27. The kingdom and dominion] The people of the saints of

the Most High, or the people who are the supereminent saints,

shall have the kingdom. Whatever name they may be distinguished by

among men, these are the people, and theirs is the Church, that no

lapse of time shall injure, and no power be able to destroy; but

shall last as long as time shall endure.

Verse 28. The end of the matter.] So said the expounding angel;

and he said so because the purpose of God had determined it. In

considering these things, and looking at the evils that shall come

upon the world before those auspicious times can take place, I may

say with Daniel, My cogitations much troubled me, and my

countenance changed in me: but I keep the matter of my conjectures

and consequent feelings in my own heart.

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