Daniel 8


This chapter contains Daniel's vision of the ram and he-goat,


referring, as explained by the angel, to the Persian and

Grecian monarchies, 15-26.

The little horn mentioned in the ninth verse, (or fierce king,

as interpreted in the twenty-third,) is supposed by some to

denote Antiochus Epiphanes; but seems more properly to apply to

the Roman power in general, by which the polity and temple of

the Jews were destroyed, on account of the great transgressions

of these ancient people of God; and particularly because of

their very obstinate and unaccountable rejection of the

glorious doctrines of Christianity, which had been preached

among them by Jesus Christ and his apostles, and the truth of

which God had attested "by signs and wonders, and by divers

miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost." Daniel is then informed

of the two thousand and three hundred prophetic days (that is,

years) which must elapse before the sanctuary be cleansed; or,

in other words, before righteousness shall prevail over the

whole earth. This period is supposed, with considerable

probability to have had its commencement when Alexander the

Great invaded Asia, in the year before Christ 334. This will

bring the close of it to about the end of the SIXTH chiliad of

the world; when, as already observed, some astonishing changes

are expected to take place in the moral condition of the human

race; when the power of Antichrist, both Papal and Mohammedan,

shall be totally annihilated, and universal dominion given to

the saints of the Most High. The chapter concludes with the

distress of Daniel on account of the fearful judgments with

which his country should be visited in after ages, 27.


Verse 1. In the third year of the reign of-Belshazzar] We now

come once more to the Hebrew, the Chaldee part of the book being

finished. As the Chaldeans had a particular interest both in the

history and prophecies from Da 2:4 to the end of Da 7:28,

the whole is written in Chaldee, but as the prophecies which

remain concern times posterior to the Chaldean monarchy, and

principally relate to the Church and people of God generally, they

are written in the Hebrew language, this being the tongue in which

God chose to reveal all his counsels given under the Old Testament

relative to the New.

Verse 2. I saw in a vision] Daniel was at this time in Shushan,

which appears to have been a strong place, where the kings of

Persia had their summer residence. It was the capital of the

province of Elam or the Elymais; which province was most probably

added to the Chaldean territories by Nebuchadnezzar; see

Jer 49:34, 35. Here was Daniel's ordinary residence; and though

here at this time, he, in vision, saw himself on the banks of the

river Ulai. This is the same as the river Euleus, which divided

Shushan or Susiana from Elymais.

Verse 3. A ram which had two horns] In the former vision there

were four beasts, pointing out four empires; in this we have but

two, as only two empires are concerned here, viz., the Grecian

and the Persian. The Babylonish empire is not mentioned; its fate

was before decided, and it was now at its close.

By the ram, the empire of the Medes and Persians was pointed

out, as explained by the angel Gabriel, Da 8:20; and particularly

Cyrus, who was the founder of that empire. Cyrus was the son of

Cambyses, king of Persia; and grandson of Astyages, king of Media,

by his daughter Mandane, who had been given in marriage to

Cambyses. Cyrus marrying Roxana, the daughter and only child of

his uncle Cyaxares, called in Scripture Ahasuerus, succeeded to

both crowns, and thus united Media and Persia. A ram was the

symbol of the Persians; and a ram's head with two horns, one

higher than the other, appears as such in different parts of the

ruins of Persepolis. See the plates of these ruins in the

supplement to the seventh volume of the ancient part of the

Universal History.

This ram had two horns; that is, two kingdoms, viz., Media and

Persia; but one was higher than the other; and the higher came up

last. Media, signified by the shorter horn, was the more

ancient of the two kingdoms. Persia, the higher horn, had come

up but lately, and was of little historic or political consequence

till the time of Cyrus; but in the reigns of this prince and his

immediate successors, Persia attained a political consequence

greatly superior to that possessed at any time by the kingdom of

Media; therefore, it is said to have been the higher, and to have

come up last.

Verse 4. I saw the ram pushing westward] The Persians, who are

signified by the ram, as well as their founder Cyrus, pushed their

conquests west, north and south. The principal theatre of their

wars, says Calmet, was against the SCYTHIANS, northward; against

the GREEKS, westward; and against the EGYPTIANS, southward.

He did according to his will] There was no other nation at that

time that could stay the progress of the Persian arms.

Verse 5. Behold, a he-goat] This was Alexander the Great; and a

goat was a very proper symbol of the Grecian or Macedonian

people. Bp. Newton very properly observes that, two hundred years

before the time of Daniel, they were called AEgeadae, the goats'

people; the origin of which name is said to be as follows:

Caranus, their first king, going with a multitude of Greeks to

seek a new habitation in Macedonia, was advised by an oracle to

take the goats for his guides; and afterwards, seeing a herd of

goats flying from a violent storm, he followed them to Edessa, and

there fixed the seat of his empire, and made the goats his ensigns

or standards; and called the place AEge or AEgea, the goats' town;

and the people AEgeadae, the goats' people; names which are

derived from αιξαιγος, a goat. The city AEge or AEgea, was

the usual burying-place of the Macedonian kings; and, in reference

to this origin, Alexander called his son by Roxana, Alexander

AEgus, Alexander the goat. All this shows the very great propriety

of the symbol here used.

Came from the west] Europe lies westward of Asia.

On the face of the whole earth] Carrying every thing before him.

Touched not the ground] Seemed to fly from conquest to conquest.

By the time Alexander was thirty years of age he had conquered all

Asia: and, because of the rapidity of his conquests, he is

represented as a leopard with four wings, in the preceding vision.

A notable horn between his eyes.] This, says the angel, is the

first king, Da 8:21, that is, the first kingdom of the Greeks

in Asia, which was erected by Alexander; and continued some years

in his brother Philip Aridaeus, and in his two young sons,

Alexander AEgus and Hercules. See Newton.

Verse 6. And he came to the ram.] This and the following verse

give an account of the overthrow of the Persian empire by


And ran unto him in the fury of his power] The conflicts between

the Greeks and the Persians were excessively severe. Alexander

first vanquished the generals of Darius, at the river Granicus, in

Phrygia; he next attacked and totally routed Darius, at the

straits of Issus, in Cilicia; and afterwards at the plains of

Arbela, in Assyria. One can hardly read these words, says Bp.

Newton, "the ram-which I had seen standing by the river, ran

unto him in the fury of his power," without having the image of

Darius' army standing and guarding the river Granicus and of

Alexander on the other side, with his forces plunging in swimming

across the stream, and rushing on the enemy, with all the fire and

fury that can be conceived.

Verse 7. And brake his two horns] Subdued Persia and Media;

sacked and burnt the royal city of Persepolis, the capital of the

Persian empire, and, even in its ruins, one of the wonders of the

world to the present day. This he did because "he was moved with

choler" against Darius, who had endeavoured to draw off his

captains with bribes, and had laboured to induce some of his

friends to assassinate him. Alexander, finding this, would listen

to no proposals of peace; and was determined never to rest till he

had destroyed Darius and his whole empire. In Media, Darius was

seized and made prisoner by some of his own treacherous subjects,

and afterwards basely murdered.

There was no power in the ram to stand before him] Alexander's

victories over the Persians were as easy as they were rapid and


He cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him] Totally

destroyed the family, and overturned the whole monarchy.

Verse 8. The he-goat waxed very strong] He had subdued nearly

the whole of the then known world.

The great horn was broken] Alexander died in the height of his

conquests, when he was but about thirty-three years of age. His

natural brother, Philip Aridaeus, and his two sons, Alexander

AEgus and Hercules, kept up the show and name of the Macedonian

kingdom for a time; but they were all murdered within fifteen

years; and thus the great horn, the Macedonian kingdom, was

broken, Alexander's family being now cut off.

And for it came up four notable ones] The regal family being all

dead, the governors of provinces usurped the title of kings; and

Antigonus, one of them, being slain at the battle of Ipsus, they

were reduced to four, as we have already seen. 1. SELEUCUS, who

had Syria and Babylon, from whom came the Seleucidae, famous in

history. 2. LYSIMACHUS, who had Asia Minor. 3. PTOLEMY, son of

Lagus, who had Egypt, from whom sprang the Lagidae. And, 4.

CASSANDER, who had Greece and the neighbouring countries. These

held dominion towards the four winds of heaven. Cassander had the

western parts, Lysimachus had the northern regions, Ptolemy

possessed the southern countries, and Seleucus had the eastern


Verse 9. Out of one of them came forth a little horn] Some think

that Antiochus Epiphanes is meant; but Bp. Newton contends that it

is the Roman government that is intended; and although very great

at its zenith, yet very little in its rising.

Waxed-great toward the south] The Romans made Egypt a province

of their empire, and it continued such for some centuries.

Toward the east] They conquered Syria, and made it a province.

Toward the pleasant land.] Judea, so called Ps 106:24;

Jer 3:19; Da 11:16, 41. It is well known that they took Judea,

and made it a province; and afterwards burnt the city and the

temple, and scattered the Jews over the face of the earth.

Verse 10. The host of heaven] The Jewish hierarchy. The stars,

the priests and Levites. The powers or host of heaven are

probably intended by our Lord, Mt 24:29, to signify the whole

Jewish hierarchy.

Verse 11. Even to the prince of the host] They seemed, in this

case, to fight against God himself.

The daily sacrifice was taken away] By the destruction of the

city and temple; and has never been restored from that day until


Verse 12. And a host was given him] That is, power; or perhaps

the host of heaven-the priesthood-the whole sacrificial system,

by reason of transgression. They had filled up the measure of

their iniquities, in rejecting the Lord that bought them; and the

daily sacrifice, being no longer of use, was given up with the

rest to destruction.

Cast down the truth] Probably the whole Jewish ritual and


Practised, and prospered.] Prosperity or success followed all

their acts.

Verse 13. One saint speaking, and another saint said] One angel

asked another how long the sanctuary was to be trodden down?

Verse 14. Unto two thousand and three hundred days] Though

literally it be two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings.

Yet I think the prophetic day should be understood here, as in

other parts of this prophet, and must signify so many years. If we

date these years from the vision of the he-goat, (Alexander's

invading Asia,) this was A.M. 3670, B.C. 334; and two thousand

three hundred years from that time will reach to A.D. 1966, or one

hundred and forty-one years from the present A.D. 1825. This will

bring it near to the time mentioned Da 7:25, where see the note.

Verse 15. As the appearance of a man.] Supposed to be the


Verse 17. At the time of the end shall be the vision.] Or, as

Houbigant, "The vision shall have an end at the proper time."

Verse 20. The ram which thou sawest] See this explained under

the vision itself, Da 8:3, &c.

Verse 22. But not in his power.] The four kingdoms which shall

arise out of the Macedonian empire shall not be of Alexander's

power or family, nor have his strength and dignity.

Verse 23. When the transgressors are come to the full] When the

utmost degradation has taken place, by the buying and selling of

the high priesthood; for Onias was ejected for a sum of money, to

make room for wicked Jason; and Jason again was supplanted for a

greater sum by a worse man, if possible, than himself, Menelaus;

and the golden vessels of the temple were sold to pay for this

sacrilegious purchase. Thus transgressions were come to the full,

before the Romans had commission to destroy Jerusalem and its

temple, &c.

A king of fierce countenance] The Roman government, as before;

for king is often taken for kingdom or empire.

Understanding dark sentences] Very learned and skilful in all

things relating to government and its intrigues. The learning of

Rome is proverbial to the present time.

Verse 24. But not by his own power] The strength of the other

kingdoms consisted in themselves; but the Roman empire, as a horn

or kingdom of the goat, was not mighty by its own power-was not

strong by virtue of the goat, but drew its nourishment and

strength from Rome and Italy. There grew the trunk and body of the

tree; though the branches extended over Greece, Asia, Syria, and

Egypt.-Bp. Newton.

Shall destroy wonderfully] In the taking of Jerusalem by the

Romans ninety-seven thousand Jews were made captives, and eleven

hundred thousand were slain. So they destroyed this once mighty

and holy people!

Verse 25. He shall cause craft to prosper] They subdued as many

by their diplomatic skill and political intrigues as they did by

the sword.

He shall also stand up against the Prince of princes] Against

Christ; for it was by the Roman authority that he was condemned

to death and crucified; and their persecutions had nearly

destroyed the Christian religion; but the house was founded on a


But he shall be broken without hand.] The tide was turned by the

invisible hand of God; and thus heathen Rome was overcome, and

converted to Christianity.

Verse 26. The vision of the evening and the morning which was

told is true] That mentioned in Da 8:14.

For it shall be for many days.] Not less than two thousand three

hundred years!

Verse 27. Daniel fainted] To foresee the desolations that were

coming on the land, the city, the temple, and the people.

Did the king's business] Transacted the affairs of state that

belonged to my department, after having been sick for certain days

through the effects of this vision. He had a pious and feeling

heart; and he was distressed for the desolations that were coming

upon his people.

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