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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Daniel 7



Verse 1

In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters.

This chapter treats of the same subject as the second chapter. But there the four kingdoms, and Messiah's final kingdom, were regarded according to their external political aspect; but here, according to the mind of God concerning them, and their moral features. The outward political history had been shown in its general features to the world-ruler, whose position fitted him for receiving such a revelation. But God's prophet here receives disclosures as to the character of the powers of the world, in a religious point of view, suited to his position and receptivity. Hence, in the second chapter, the images are taken from the inanimate sphere; in the seventh chapter they are taken from the animate. Nebuchadnezzar saw superficially the world-power as a splendid human figure, and the kingdom of God as a mere stone at the first. Daniel sees the world-kingdoms in their inner essence as of an animal nature lower than human, being estranged from God; and that only in the kingdom of God ("the Son of man," the representative-man) is the true dignity of man realized.

So, as contrasted with Nebuchadnezzar's vision, the kingdom of God appears to Daniel, from the very first, superior to the world-kingdom. For though in physical force the beasts excel man, man has essentially spiritual powers. Nebuchadnezzar's colossal image represents mankind in its own strength, but only the outward man. Daniel sees man spiritually degraded to the beastlevel, led by blind impulses, through his alienation from God. It is only from above that the perfect Son of man comes, and in His kingdom man attains his true destiny. It is in His kingdom on earth that man first regains the lordship which he lost by the fall. Compare Psalms 8:1-9 with Genesis 1:26-28.

Humanity is impossible without divinity: it sinks to beastiality (Psalms 32:9; Psalms 49:20; Psalms 73:22). Obstinate pagan nations are compared to "bulls" (Psalms 68:30. "Rebuke the company of spearmen (the beasts of the reeds, margin), the multitude of the bulls, with the calves of the people, until everyone submit himself with pieces of silver"); Egypt to the dragon in the Nile (Isaiah 27:1; Isaiah 51:9; Ezekiel 29:3). The lower animal, with all its sagacity, looks always to the ground, without consciousness of relation to God. What elevates man is communion with God, in willing subjection to Him. His erect posture, with head uplifted toward heaven, is indicative of his high destiny. The moment he tries to exalt himself to independence of God, like Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:30), he sinks to the beast's level, to which accordingly that monarch was literally reduced for a time. Daniel's acquaintance with the animal colossal figures in Babylon and Nineveh was a psychological preparation for his animal-visions. Hosea 13:7-8 would occur to him while viewing those ensigns of the world-power. Compare Jeremiah 2:15; Jeremiah 4:7; Jeremiah 5:6. In the first year of Belshazzar. Good Hebrew manuscripts have Belshazzar [ Beel'shatsar (Hebrew #1113)], meaning 'Bel is to be burnt with hostile fire' (Jeremiah 50:2, "Bel is confounded;" 51:44, "I will punish Bel in Babylon"). In the history he is called by his ordinary name; in the prophecy, which gives his true destiny, he is called a corresponding name, by the change of a letter.

Visions of his head - not confused "dreams," but distinct images, seen while his mind was collected.

Then he wrote the dream, and told the sum - a summary. In predictions generally details are not given so fully as to leave no scope for free agency, faith, and patient waiting until God shall manifest His will in the event. He "wrote" it for the Church in all ages; he "told" it for the comfort of his captive fellow-countrymen.

Verse 2

Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.

Behold, the four winds - answering to the "four beasts." Thus what is implied is their several conflicts in the four quarters or directions of the world.

Strove - burst forth (from the abyss). (Maurer.)

Upon the great sea - the world-powers rise out of the agitations of the political sea (Jeremiah 46:7-8; Luke 21:25 : cf. Revelation 13:1, "I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns," see my note there; Revelation 17:15; Revelation 21:1); the kingdom of God and the Son of man, on the contrary, comes from the clouds of heaven (Daniel 7:13 : cf. John 8:23). Tregelles takes "the great sea" to mean, as always elsewhere in Scripture (Joshua 1:4; Joshua 9:1) the Mediterranean, the center territorially of the four kingdoms of the vision, which all border on it, and have Jerusalem subject to them. Babylon did not border on the Mediterranean, nor rule Jerusalem until Nebuchadnezzar's time, when both things took place simultaneously. Persia encircled more of this sea-namely, from the Hellespont to Cyrene. Greece did not become a monarchy before Alexander's time, but then, succeeding to Persia, it became mistress of Jerusalem. It surrounded still more of the Mediterranean, adding the coasts of Greece to the part held by Persia. Rome, under Augustus, realized three things at once-it became a monarchy, became mistress of the last of the four parts of Alexander's empire (symbolized by the four heads of the third beast), and of Jerusalem, and it surrounded all the Mediterranean.

Verse 3

And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. Beasts - not living animals, as the cherubic four in Revelation 4:7 (for the original [ zooa (Greek #2226)] is a different word from beasts [ theeria (Greek #2342)], and ought to be there translated 'living animals'). The cherubic living animals represent redeemed man, combining in himself the highest forms of animal life. But the "beasts" here represent the world-powers in their beastlike grovelling character. It is on the fundamental harmony between nature and spirit, between the three kingdoms of nature, history, and revelation, that Scripture symbolism rests. The selection of symbols is not arbitrary, but based on the essence of things.

Verse 4

The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it.

The first was like a lion - the symbol of strength and courage; chief among the kingdoms, as the lion among the beasts. Nebuchadnezzar is called "the lion come up from his thicket" (Jeremiah 4:7).

And had eagle's wings - denoting a widespread and rapidly acquired (Isaiah 46:11; Lamentations 4:19) empire (Jeremiah 4:13, "his horses are swifter than eagles;" Jeremiah 48:40; Habakkuk 1:6, "the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation").

I beheld until the wings thereof were plucked. Babylon's ability for widespread conquest passed away under Evil-merodach, etc. (Grotius.) Rather, the reference is to the period during Nebuchadnezzar's privation of his throne while deranged.

And it was lifted up from the earth - i:e., from its grovelling bestiality.

And made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it. So long as Nebuchadnezzar, in haughty pride, relied on his own strength, he forfeited the true dignity of man, and was therefore degraded to be with the beasts. Daniel 4:16, "Let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given unto him." But after that he learned by this sore discipline that "the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men" (Daniel 4:35-36), the reverse change took place in him-`a man's heart is given to him, instead of his former beast's heart; he attains man's true position-namely, to be consciously dependent on God' (cf. Psalms 9:20).

Verse 5

And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.

Behold another beast, a second, like to a bear - symbolizing the austere life of the Medes and Persians in their mountains, also their cruelty (Isaiah 13:17-18). Cambyses, Ochus, and other of the Persian princes, were notoriously cruel: the Persian laws involved, for one man's offence, the whole kindred and neighbourhood in destruction (Daniel 6:24) and rapacity. 'A bear is an all-devouring animal' (Aristotle, 8: 5). (Jeremiah 51:48; Jeremiah 51:56, "the spoilers," the Medo-Persians).

It raised up itself on one side. But the Hebrew, in the Venetian 'Editio Bombergiana,' with the commentaries of Rabbis, and 'Antverpiensis Plantiniana,' is as margin, 'it raised up one dominion' [sh

Verse 6

After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.

I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard - smaller than the lion; swift (Habakkuk 1:8), cruel (Isaiah 11:6), the opposite of tame, springing suddenly from its hiding place on its prey (Hosea 13:7), spotted. So Alexander, a small king of a small kingdom, Macedon, attacked Darius at the head of the vast empire reaching from the AEgean Sea to the Indies. In twelve years he subjugated part of Europe, and all Asia from Illyricum and the Adriatic to the Ganges, not so much fighting as conquering (Jerome). Hence, whereas Babylon is represented with two wings, Macedon has four, so rapid were its conquests. The various spots denote the various nations incorporated into his empire (Bochart): or, Alexander's own variations in character, at one time mild, at another cruel; now temperate, and now drunken and licentious.

Four heads - explained Daniel 8:8; Daniel 8:22, "the he-goat ... when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven ... Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation" - namely, the four kingdoms of the Diadochi, or successors, into which the Macedonian empire was divided at the death of Alexander-namely, Macedon and Greece under Cassander, Thrace and Bithynia under Lysimachus, Egypt under Ptolemy, and Syria under Seleucus.

And dominion was given to it - by God; not by Alexander's own might. For how unlikely it was that 30,000 men should overthrow several hundreds of thousands. Josephus ('Antiquities,' 11: 6) says that Alexander adored the high priest of Jerusalem, saying that he, at Dium in Macedonia, had seen a vision of God so habited, inviting him to go to Asia, and promising him success.

Verse 7

After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.

After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth. Since Daniel lived under the kingdom of the first beast, and therefore needed not to describe it, and as the second and third are described fully in the second part of the book, the chief emphasis falls on the fourth. Also, prophecy most dwells on the end, which is the consummation of the preceding series of events. It is in the fourth that the world-power manifests fully its God-opposing nature.

And it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it. Whereas the three former kingdoms were designated respectively as a lion, bear, and leopard; no particular beast is specified as the image of the fourth; because Rome is so terrible as to be not describable by anyone, but combines in itself all that we can imagine inexpressibly fierce in all beasts. Hence, thrice (Daniel 7:7; Daniel 7:19; Daniel 7:23) it is repeated that the fourth was "diverse from all" the others. The formula of introduction, "I saw in the night visions," occurs here, as at Daniel 7:2, and again at Daniel 7:13, thus dividing the whole vision into THREE PARTS-the FIRST embracing the three kingdoms; the SECOND, the fourth and its overthrow; the THIRD, Messiah's kingdom. The first three together take up a few centuries; the fourth, thousands of years. The whole lower half of the image in Daniel 2:1-49 is given to it. And whereas the other kingdoms consist of only one material, this consists of two, iron and clay (on which much stress is laid, Daniel 2:41-43); the "iron teeth" here allude to one material in the fourth kingdom of the image.

And it had ten horns. It is with the crisis, rather than the course, of the fourth kindgom this seventh chapter is mainly concerned. The "ten horns" mean ten kings, according to Daniel 7:24 (a horn being the symbol representing power): the ten kingdoms into which Rome was divided on its incorporation with the Germanic and Slavonic tribes, and again at the Reformation, are though by many to be here intended by the ten kings. But the variation of the lists of the ten, and their ignoring the Eastern half of the empire altogether, and the existence of the Papacy before the breaking up of even the Western empire, instead of being the "little horn" springing up after the other ten, are against this view. The Western Roman empire continued until 731 AD and the Eastern, until 1453 AD. The ten kingdoms, therefore, prefigured by the ten "toes," are the ten kingdoms into which Rome shall be found finally divided, when Antichrist shall appear (Daniel 2:41 : cf. Revelation 13:1; Revelation 17:12). (Tregelles.) These, probably, are prefigured by the number ten being the prevalent one at the chief turning points of Roman history.

Verse 8

I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.

I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn - little at first, but afterward waxing greater than all others. He must be sought "among them" - namely, the ten horns. The Roman empire did not represent itself as a continuation of Alexander's; but the Germanic empire calls itself 'the holy Roman empire.' Napoleon's attempted universal monarchy was avowedly Roman: his son was called King of Rome. The czar (Caesar) also professes to represent the eastern half of the Roman empire. The Roman civilization, church, language, and law, are the chief elements in Germanic civilization. But the Romanic element seeks universal empire, while the Germanic seeks individualization. Hence, the universal monarchies attempted by the Papacy, Charlemagne, Charles V, and Napoleon, have failed, the iron not amalgamating with the clay. In the king symbolized by "the little horn," the God-opposing, haughty spirit of the world, represented by the fourth monarchy, finds its intensest development. "The man of sin," "the son of perdition," (2 Thessalonians 2:1-17.) "Antichrist that denieth the Father and the Son, and confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh" (1 John 2:18; 1 John 2:22; 1 John 4:3). It is the complete evolution of the evil principle introduced by the fall.

Before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots. The three horns plucked up are, the exarchate of Ravenna, the kingdom of the Lombards, and the state of Rome, which constituted the pope's dominions at the first; obtained by Pope Zachary and Stephen II in return for acknowledging the usurper Pepin lawful king of France (Newton). See Tregelles' objections, Daniel 7:7, "ten horns," note. The "little horn," in his view, is to be Antichrist rising three and a half years before Christ's second advent, having first overthrown three of the ten contemporaneous kingdoms, into which the fourth monarchy, under which we live, shall be finally divided. Popery seems to be a fulfillment of the prophecy in many particulars, the pope claiming to be God on earth, and above all earthly dominions; but "the spirit of antichrist" (1 John 4:3), prefigured by Popery, will probably culminate in ONE individual, to be destroyed by Christ's coming. He will be the product of the political world-powers, which were always beastlike, not human (Revelation 13:1-18); whereas Popery, which prepares His way, is a church become worldly-the faithful woman degenerated into the spiritual harlot (Revelation 12:1-2; Revelation 12:5-6; Revelation 12:13; Revelation 12:17): contrast her degenerate state as "Babylon the great, the mother of harlots," (Revelation 17:1-7; Revelation 17:15-16; Revelation 17:18; Revelation 18:1-24.)

And, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man. Eyes express intelligence (Ezekiel 1:18); so (Genesis 3:5) the serpent's promise was, man's "eyes should be opened," if he would but rebel against God. Antichrist shall consummate the self-apotheosis, begun at the fall, he and his adherents, and the spirit of his age, having high intellectual culture, independent of God. The metals representing Babylon and Medo-Persia, gold and silver, are more precious than brass and iron, representing Greece and Rome; but the latter metals are more useful to civilization (Genesis 4:22, "Tubal-Cain (in the line of ungodly Cain), an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron"). The clay, representing the Germanic element, is the most pliable material. Thus, there is a progress in culture; but this is not a progress necessarily in man's truest dignity-namely, union and likeness to God. Nay, it has led him further from God, to self-reliance and world-love. The beginnings of civilization-the building of cities, the origination of Nomad tent-life and tending of cattle, the invention of the harp and organ, and the working of metals, brass and iron-were among the children of Cain (Genesis 4:17-24; Luke 16:8).

Antiochus Epiphanes, the first Antichrist, came from civilized Greece, and loved art. As Hellenic civilization produced the first, so modern civilization under the fourth monarchy will produce the last Antichrist. The "mouth" and "eyes" are those of a man, while the symbol is otherwise brutish - i:e., it will assume man's true dignity-namely, wear the guise of the kingdom of God (which comes as the "Son of man" from above), while it is really bestial-namely, severed from God. Antichrist promises the same things as Christ, but in an opposite way. A caricature of Christ, offering a regenerated world without the cross, Babylon and Persia in their religion had more reverence for things divine than Greece and Rome in the imperial stages of their history. Nebuchadnezzar's human heart, given him (Daniel 4:16; Daniel 4:36) on his repentance, contrasts with the seemingly-human eyes of Antichrist, the pseudoson of man-namely, intellectual culture, while heart and mouth blaspheme God. The deterioration politically corresponds: the first kingdom an organic unity; the second divided into Median and Persian; the third branches off into four; the fourth into ten. The two Eastern kingdoms are marked by nobler metals; the two Western by baser: individualization and division appear in the latter, and it is they which produce the two Antichrists.

Verse 9

I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.

I beheld until-I continued looking until ... the thrones were cast down - rather [ r

Verse 10

A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.

A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him - so at the giving of the law (Deuteronomy 33:2, "The Lord came from Sinai ... with ten thousand of saints (holy angels); from his right hand went a fiery law for them;" Psalms 68:17; Hebrews 12:22; Jude 1:14, "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints").

Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him - image from the Sanhedrim, in which the father of the consistory sat with his assessors on each side, in the form of a semicircle, and the people standing before him.

The judgment was set - the judges sat (Revelation 20:4, "I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them").

And the books were opened - (Revelation 20:12). Forensic image; all the documents of the cause at issue, connected with the condemnation of Antichrist and his kingdom, and the setting up of Messiah's kingdom. Judgment must pass on the world, as being under the curse, before the glory comes; but Antichrist offers glory without the cross, a renewed world without the world being judged.

Verse 11

I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.

I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even until the beast was slain. Here is set forth the execution on earth of the judgment pronounced in the unseen heavenly court of judicature (Daniel 7:9-10).

And his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame - (Revelation 19:20).

Verse 12

As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.

As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away. "The rest of the beasts" - i:e., the three first had passed away, not by direct destroying judgments, such as consumed the little horn, as being the finally-matured evil of the fourth beast. They had continued to exist, but their "dominion was taken away;" whereas the fourth beast shall cease utterly, superseded by Messiah's kingdom. Yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time - not only the triumph of the beasts over the godly, but their very existence, is limited to a definite time, and that time the exactly-suitable one (cf. Matthew 24:22). Probably a definite period is meant by "a season and time" (cf. Daniel 7:25, "a time, and times, and the dividing of time;" Revelation 20:3, "a little season"). It is striking, the fourth monarchy, though Christianized for 1500 years past, is not distinguished from the previous pagan monarchies, or from its own pagan portion. Nay, it is represented as the most God-opposed of all, and culminating at last in blasphemous Antichrist. The reason is, Christ's kingdom now "is not of this world" (John 18:36), and only at the second advent of Christ becomes an external power of the world. Hence, Daniel, whose province it was to prophesy of the world-powers, does not treat of Christianity until it becomes a world-power-namely, at the second advent.

The kingdom of God is a hidden one until Jesus comes again (Romans 8:17; Colossians 3:3-4; 2 Timothy 2:11-12). Rome was worldly while pagan, and remains worldly though Christianized. So the New Testament views the present aeon or age of the world as essentially pagan, which we cannot love without forsaking Christ (Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 1:20; 1 Corinthians 2:6; 1 Corinthians 2:8; 1 Corinthians 3:18; 1 Corinthians 7:31; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 2:2; 2 Timothy 4:10 : cf. 1 John 2:15; 1 John 2:17). The object of Christianity is not so much to Christianize the present world, as to save souls out of it, so as "not to be condemned with the world" (1 Corinthians 11:32), but to rule with Him in His millennium (Matthew 5:5; Luke 12:32; Luke 22:28-30; Romans 5:17; 1 Corinthians 6:2; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 2:26-28; Revelation 3:21; Revelation 20:4). This is to be our hope, to reign hereafter with Christ (Revelation 5:10), not in the present world-course (1 Corinthians 4:8; 2 Corinthians 4:18; Philippians 3:20, "Our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ;" Hebrews 13:14).

There must be a "regeneration" of the world, as of the individual, a death previous to a resurrection, a destruction of the world-kingdoms before they rise anew as the kingdoms of Christ (Matthew 19:28). Even the millennium will not perfectly eradicate the world's corruption, another apostasy and judgment will succeed (Revelation 20:7-15), in which the world of nature is to be destroyed and renewed, as the world of history was before the millennium (2 Peter 3:8-13); then comes the perfect earth and heaven (Revelation 21:1). Thus there is an onward progress, and the Christian is waiting and watching for the consummation (Mark 13:33-37; Luke 12:35-36; Luke 12:40-46; 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10), as His Lord also is "expecting" (Hebrews 10:13).

Verse 13

I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.

One like the Son of man - (see note, Ezekiel 2:1). Not merely, like other men, a son of man, but the Son of man. Not merely Son of David, and King of Israel, but Head of restored humanity (corresponding to the world-wide horizon of Daniel's prophecy); the seed of the woman crushing Antichrist, the seed of the serpent, according to the Protevangel in Paradise (Genesis 3:15). The Representative man shall then realize the original destiny of man as Head of the creation (Genesis 1:26; Genesis 1:28) - the center of unity to Israel and the Gentiles. The beast, which taken conjointly represents the four beasts, ascends from the sea (Daniel 7:2; Revelation 13:1); the Son of man descends from "heaven." Satan, as the serpent, is the representative head of all that is bestial; man, by following the serpent, has become bestial. God must, therefore, become man, so that man may cease to be beastlike and become truly manly. Whoever rejects the incarnate God will be judged by the Son of man just because He is the Son of man (John 5:27). This title is always associated with His coming again, because the kingdom that then awaits Him is that which belongs to Him as the Saviour of man, the Restorer of the lost inheritance. His title "the Son of man" expresses His VISIBLE state, formerly in His humiliation, hereafter in His exaltation.

Came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. He comes "to the Ancient of days" to, be invested with the kingdom. Compare Psalms 110:2, "The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength (Messiah) out of Zion." This investiture, was at His ascension "with the clouds of heaven" (Acts 1:9; Acts 2:33-34; Psalms 2:6-9; Matthew 28:18, "Jesus (after Has resurrection, and just before His ascension) spake, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth"); which is a pledge of His return "in like manner" "in the clouds" (Acts 1:11; Matthew 26:64), and "with clouds" (Revelation 1:9). The kingdom then was given to Him in title and invisible exercise; at His second coming it shall be in visible administration. He will vindicate it from the misrule of those who received it to hold for and under God, but who ignored His supremacy. The Father will assert His right by the Son, the heir, who will hold it for Him (Ezekiel 21:27; Hebrews 1:2; Revelation 19:13-16).

Tregelles thinks the investiture here immediately precedes Christ's coming forth; because He sits at God's right hand until His enemies are made His footstool; then the kingdom is given to the Son in actual investiture, and He comes to crush His so-prepared footstool under His feet. But the words "with the clouds," and the universal power actually, though invisibly, given Him then (Ephesians 1:20-22), agree best with His investiture at the ascension; which, in the prophetic view, overleaping the interval of ages, is the precursor of His coming visibly to reign, no event of equal moment taking place in the interval.

Verse 14

And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 15

I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.

I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body - literally, sheath; the body being the sheath of the soul.

Verse 16

I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 17

These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.

These great beasts, which are four, are four kings i:e., kingdoms. Compare Daniel 7:23, "the fourth kingdom" (Daniel 2:38, "Thou (Nebuchadnezzar) art this head of gold;" Daniel 8:20-22, where the four horns of the he-goat are explained as four kingdoms). Each of the four kings represent a dynasty. Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander, Antiochus, and Antichrist, though individually referred to, are representatives of characteristic tendencies.

Verse 18

But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.

The saints of the Most High. The emphatic title of God in this prophecy, who delegates His power first to Israel; then to the Gentiles, in the person of Nebuchadnezzar, the first "head" of the world-power (Daniel 2:37-38), on Israel failing to realize the idea of the theocracy; lastly, to Messiah, who shall rule truly for God, taking it from the Gentile world-powers, whose history is one of continual degeneracy, culminating in the last of the kings, Antichrist. Here, in the interpretation, "the saints," but in the vision (Daniel 7:13-14), "the Son of man" takes the kingdom; because Christ and His people are one in suffering and one in glory. Tregelles translates, 'the saints of the most high places' (Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 2:6). Though oppressed by the beast and little horn, they belong not to the earth, from which the four beasts arise, but to the most high places.

Verse 19

Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet;

Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others ... which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet. Balaam, an Aramean, dwelling on the Euphrates at the beginning of Israel's independent history, and Daniel at the close of it, prophetically exhibit to the hostile world-powers Israel as triumphant over them at last, though the world-powers of the East (Asshur) and the West (Chittim) carry all before them, and afflict Eber (Israel) for a time (Numbers 23:8-10; Numbers 23:28; Numbers 24:2; Numbers 24:7-9; Numbers 24:17-18; Numbers 24:22-24). To Balaam's "Asshur" correspond Daniel's two eastern kingdoms, Babylon and Medo-Persia; to "Chittim," the two western kingdoms, Greece and Rome (cf. Genesis 10:4; Genesis 10:11; Genesis 10:22). In Babel, Nimrod the hunter (revolter) founds the first kingdom of the world (Genesis 10:8-13).

The Babylonian world-power takes up the thread interrupted at the building of Babel and the kingdom of Nimrod. As at Babel, so in Babylon, the world is united against God: Babylon, the first world-power, thus becomes the type of the God-opposed world. The fourth monarchy consummates the evil; it is "diverse" from the others only in its more unlimited universality. The three first were not in the full sense universal monarchies. The fourth is; so in it the God-opposed principle finds its full development. All history moves within the Romanic, Germanic, and Slavonic nations: it shall continue so to Christ's second advent. The fourth monarchy represents universalism externally; Christianity internally Rome is Babylon fully developed. It is the world-power corresponding in contrast to Christianity, and therefore contemporary with it (Matthew 13:38, "The field is the world;" Mark 1:15; Luke 2:1, so Cesar's decree for the registration of the Jews for taxation indicates the world-power's maturity, when the kingdom of God makes its first humble appearance on earth in the person of Jesus then born, and born at Bethlehem in consequence of that registration; Galatians 4:4).

Verse 20

And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.

That horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows - namely, than that of the other horns.

Verse 21

I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;

The same horn made war with the saints - persecuted the Church (Revelation 11:7, "When they (the two witnesses) The same horn made war with the saints - persecuted the Church (Revelation 11:7, "When they (the two witnesses) shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them;" Revelation 13:7).

Prevailed - but not ultimately. The limit is marked by "until" (Daniel 7:22). The little born continues, without intermission, to persecute up to Christ's second adrent (Revelation 17:12; Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:19-20).

Verse 22

Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.

Until the Ancient of days came. The title applied to the Father in Daniel 7:13 is here applied to the Son, who is called "the everlasting Father" (Isaiah 9:6). The Father is never said to 'come:' it is the Son who comes.

And judgment was given to the saints of the Most High. Judgment includes rule; "the kingdom" in the end of this verse (1 Corinthians 6:2; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10, "We shall reign on the earth;" Revelation 20:4). Christ first receives "judgment" and the "kingdom" (Daniel 7:13-14), then the saints shall have given to them the exercising of judgment and the possession of the kingdom with him.

Verse 23

Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 24

And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.

And the ten horns - answering to the ten "toes" (Daniel 2:41). And the ten horns - answering to the ten "toes" (Daniel 2:41).

Out of this kingdom - it is out of the fourth kingdom that the ten others arise, whatever exterior territory any of them possess (Revelation 13:1; Revelation 17:12).

And another shall rise after them - yet contemporaneous with them; the ten are contemporaries. Antichrist rises after their rise, at first "little" (Daniel 7:8); but after destroying three of the ten he becomes greater than them all (Daniel 7:20-21). The three being gone, he is the eighth (cf. Revelation 17:11); a distinct head, and yet "of the seven." As the previous world-kingdoms had their representative heads-Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar; Persia, Cyrus; Greece, Alexander-so the fourth kingdom and its Antichrists shall have their evil concentrated in the one final Antichrist. Since Antiochus Epiphanes, the Antichrist of the third kingdom in Daniel 8:1-27, was the personal enemy of God; so the final Antichrist of the fourth kingdom, his antitype, shall be. The Church has endured a pagan and a papal persecution; there remains for her an infidel persecution, general, purifying, and cementing (Cecil). He will not merely, as Popery, substitute himself for Christ in Christ's name, but "deny the Father and the Son" (1 John 2:22). The persecution is to continue up to Christ's second coming (Daniel 7:21-22); the horn of blasphemy cannot therefore be past, for now there is almost a general cessation of persecution.

Verse 25

And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.

He shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High.

Three attributes of Antichrist are specified:

(1) The highest worldly wisdom and civilization.

(2) The uniting of the whole civilized world under his dominion (Revelation 17:13; Revelation 13:7, "power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations;" Revelation 13:12-18).

(3) Atheism, antitheism and autotheism in its fullest development (1 John 2:22).

Therefore, not only is power taken from the fourth beast, as in the case of the other three, but God destroys it and the world-power in general by a final judgment. The present external Christianity is to give place to an almost universal apostasy.

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Verse 26

But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.

The judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end

- a two-fold operation. Antichrist is to be gradually "consumed," as the Papacy has been consuming for 400 years past, and especially of late years. He is also to be "destroyed" suddenly by Christ at his coming, when he shall become the fully-developed man of sin, "the son of perdition" or "destruction," whom the Lord shall consume with the Spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming" (2 Thessalonians 2:3-8).

Thus he appears to be the same as the "beast" (Revelation 16:13-14; Revelation 16:16), or secular power of the Roman empire (some conjecture Louis Napoleon): aided by the false prophet, he shall make a last desperate effort to retain the world-kingdom which belongs to the Lamb; and shall be destroyed at Armageddon in Palestine (the scene of the last conflict and overthrow by the Lamb of the kings of the earth, led on by the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet).

Verse 27

And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

The greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High - i:e., the power which those several kingdoms had possessed shall all be conferred on Messiah's kingdom and Messiah's people, the literal and the spiritual Israel. "Under ... heaven" shows it is a kingdom on earth, not in heaven.

The people of the saints of the Most High - `the people of the saints, or holy ones' (margin, Daniel 8:24): the Jews, the people to whom the saints stand in a special relation. The saints are gathered out of Jews and Gentiles, but the stock of the Church is Jewish, on which have been "graffed branches cut out of the (Gentile) olive tree, which is wild by nature" (Romans 9:24; Romans 11:24); God's faithfulness to this election-church is thus virtually faithfulness to Israel, and a pledge of their future national blessing. Christ confirms this fact, while withholding the date (Acts 1:6-7, The disciples asked of Jesus, after His resurrection, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power").

Whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. If everlasting, how can the kingdom here refer to the millennial one? Answer. Daniel saw the whole time of future blessedness as one period. The clearer light of the New Testament distinguishes, in the whole period, the millennial kingdom and the time of the "new heaven and the new earth" (cf. Revelation 20:4, "They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years," with Revelation 21:1; Revelation 22:5, "They shall reign forever and ever"). Christ's kingdom is "everlasting." Not even the last judgment shall end it, but only give it a more glorious appearance, the new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, with the throne of God and the Lamb in it (cf. Revelation 5:9-10; Revelation 11:15).

Verse 28

Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.

My cogitations much troubled me - showing that the Holy Spirit intended much more to be understood by Daniel's words than Daniel himself understood. We are not to limit the significance of prophecies to what the prophets themselves understood (1 Peter 1:11-12).


(1) The great powers of the world are herein contemplated under the image of four beasts arising up successively from the sea. The great sea agitated by tempests is a fitting emblem of the perpetual turmoil, restlessness, and commotions out of which have emerged the four great world-empires. The wicked are said in Isaiah (Isaiah 57:20) to be "like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt;" and though in politics law has necessarily, from the principle of self-defense, had its place, yet it cannot be denied that wickedness, lawless violence, and unscrupulous self-aggrandizement have played a large part in the origin, consolidation, and progress of all great empires.

(2) With all the outward pomp of the world-kingdoms, when they are regarded in their inner essence, they are seen to be, in a spiritual point of view, brutish: physically, indeed, they are, like the larger wild beasts, superior to man in strength; but really they are fallen from the true dignity of man, which consists in spiritual union and communion with God. Severed from God, the world-powers are degraded to the level of the beasts, the creatures of blind impulse and passion. Willing subjection to the blessed God is what truly ennobles man. The moment that man tries to be independent of God, he falls to the level of the beast, with eye and head turned down earthward. It is only from above that the kingdom can come, Which is at ones perfectly human and perfectly divine: it is only in the coming kingdom of the Son of man, which is to descend from heaven upon earth, and to supplant the world-kingdoms, that the true ideal and destiny of man shall be realized. Then shall the lower creatures, too, which in part have suffered by the fall, share in man's blessedness; and the cherubic four living creatures (Revelation 4:6) of which man is the noblest part, the redeemed elect at the head of creation, shall take that rightful authority under Christ which the four beasts have usurped and abused.

(3) With all Babylon's brute strength, and lion-like animal courage, and eagle-like rapidity of conquest, it nevertheless passed away: an emblem of the transitoriness of all power that rests on mere force, and not on a spiritual basis. The only fact thought noteworthy here by the Spirit of God in its history is, the remarkable visitation whereby Nebuchadnezzar was taught that pride and independency of man in relation to God only degrades him to be the fitting associate of the brutes; whereas humility toward God and conscious dependence on God, raise him to the true dignity of man, so that he "is made stand upon his feet as a man," with head and eyes no longer downward, but lifted upward, and a man's heart is given to him. Let us learn hence that, if we would be exalted, we must abase ourselves, and be clothed with humility.

(4) The characteristic features of Medo-Persia and Greaco-Macedonia are accurately delineated by the cruel, all-devouring bear, and the four-winged four-headed leopard respectively (Daniel 7:5-6). The astonishing rapidity of Alexander's conquests in Asia, and the speedily-ensuing division of his empire among his four successsors, the Diadochi were foreseen and foretold in Holy Writ ages before the event. God foreorders, and therefore must foresee the end from the beginning. The cruelty and rapacity of earthly conquerors are kept within appointed limits by Him, as wild beasts restrained within an enclosure which they cannot pass. He constrains the wrath of man to praise Him, and the remainder of wrath shall He restrain (Psalms 76:10). This is the comfort of the saints, that the hostile world-powers can do them no real or lasting hurt. God will overrule the enemy's violence to His glory and to His people's good.

(5) No particular kind of beast is made to represent the fourth kingdom (Daniel 7:7), to imply that no one beast could adequately represent it, for that in it are concentrated all that is dreadful, terrible, and strong in all the previous world-powers, and in all other kingdoms. With this fourth and last beastkingdom we Europeans of the present day are most concerned. For we live under it; our civilization, language, constitution, laws, and politics being essentially connected with imperial Rome. Indeed, the Germanic empire and the Russian empire expressly profess to represent the western and eastern Roman empire respectively. The title of the Russian emperor is czar, a contraction for Caesar. Out of its ten kingdoms (Daniel 7:7-8) springs the Antichrist, with eyes like the eyes of man-that is, with the high intellectual culture of man seemingly, while really and essentially beastly, as being severed from God, This Antichrist has "a look more stout than his fellows" (Daniel 7:20), and "a mouth speaking great words against the Most High" (Daniel 7:25). In him shall be concentrated all the God-opposed principles of all the four world-kingdoms, of the fourth and last especially. As Popery and the Greek apostasy are the products of the corruption of the Church, so Antichrist is the offspring of the God-opposed world-powers; and the former prepare the way for the latter, and in their last form, as "the false prophet," are the handmaids and ministers to this self-deifying, blasphemous, and persecuting Antichrist, who "shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws." Let us beware of any self-vaunting science, art, and civilization which shall ignore God. Let us seek not to be conformed to the God-opposed world, however plausible be the guise which it assumes, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

(6) The pseudo-son of man Antichrist's power is of limited duration and gives place to the manifested kingdom of the Son of man. The judgment from the Ancient of days (Daniel 7:9) that destroys Antichrist, the last and worst head of the fourth kingdom, prepares the way for the fifth kingdom, the millennial reign of Him who shall set aside the God-opposed bestial world-kingdom, and set up a kingdom wherein God and man shall be in blessed union and harmony. Judgment must first pass upon the world, as being under the curse before the glory comes (Daniel 7:10-11); whereas Antichrist offers glory without the cross-a regenerated world without a previous judgment. The fourth kingdom, though now externally Christianized, is regarded in Scripture as still in its essence to be ranked among the God-opposed beastlike world-powers, not only not better, but actually worse, than its three predecessors, in the ultimate intensity of its opposition to God and His Christ.

Christ's kingdom is now, indeed, in the world, but it is not as yet of the world-for the world is still opposed to God. Christ was invested with the kingdom at His ascension with the clouds of heaven to the Ancient of days (Daniel 7:13), and has invisibly exercised it since. It is a hidden kingdom now, and shall only be manifested when Christ Himself shall be manifested (Colossians 3:3-4), to destroy all His anti-Christian foes first, and then to render the kingdoms of this world the kingdoms of God and of Himself (Revelation 11:15). He has the title already; but will not visibly exercise His full dominion until then. Christianity is not at present Christianizing the world, but saving souls out of it, so as not to be condemned with it, but to reign over the regenerated nations during the millennium. There must be a regeneration of the world, as well as that of the individual-a death previous to the resurrection, a destruction of the world-kingdoms before they rise anew as the kingdoms of Christ. This is the regeneration in which the elect shall sit on thrones, judging and reigning over the earth (Matthew 19:28; 1 Corinthians 6:2; Revelation 5:10; Revelation 20:4). Finally, the world of nature shall be renewed after the millennium, as the world of history was before it. Then comes the perfect heaven and earth, wherein shall dwell righteousness without any alloy whatever. Thus, there is presented before the believer's eye a continual progression from one degree of glory to another. Let us, then, ever be waiting for the "coming of the Son of man with the clouds of heaven," in accordance with the promise given us at His ascension (Acts 1:11), and for His "everlasting dominion" and kingdom, which "shall not pass away" or "be destroyed," as all the preceding world-kingdoms have been (Daniel 7:13-14).

(7) Not only "the Son of man," "the Ancient of days" (Daniel 7:22), shall reign; but also "the saints of the Most High" (Daniel 7:18; Daniel 7:22; Daniel 7:27): they have been with Him, virtually or actually, in His temptations and sufferings, and therefore shall share with Him also in the kingdom and the glory. Satan, the representative head of all that is bestial, made man, who once bore the image of God, to become, through the fall, beastlike. God, by becoming the Son of man-that is, the Representative Head of man-makes man become once more God-like from being beastlike. Christ, vindicating the world-kingdom from the misrule of the God-opposed world-powers, will rule it for God, and the saints shall be the administrators of His reign under the Most High.

(8) It is very sad to think that the present outward Christianity is to give place for a time to an almost universal apostasy under the last Antichrist. But the triumphing of the wicked shall be short (Daniel 7:25). Those times of "trouble, such as never was since there was a nation" (Daniel 12:1), shall be shortened for the elects' sake, The inner and true Church shall come forth the brighter for the fiery ordeal through which it shall have passed, whereas Antichristianity in every form shall be "consumed." But the last Antichrist, who shall have "worn out the saints of the Most High, spoken great words against the Most High Himself, and thought to change times and laws, shall be destroyed" (Daniel 7:26). The saints' remembrance of the great tribulation through which they shall have passed, shall enhance the blessedness of the dominion and kingdom which shall be theirs with Christ forever (Daniel 7:27). See Revelation 7:14-17. Whether we be found alive or asleep at Christ's coming to set up this kingdom, may we be numbered among His saints in glory everlasting!


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Daniel 7:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

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