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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Daniel 8

 

 

Verse 1

In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel, after that which appeared unto me at the first.

With this chapter the Hebrew part of the book begins, and continues to be the language of the remainder; the visions relating wholly to the Jews and Jerusalem. The scene here narrows from world-wide prophecies to those affecting the one covenant-people in the five centuries between the exile and the advent. Antichrist, like Christ, has a more immediate future as well as one more remote. The vision, Daniel 8:1-27, begins, and that, Daniel 12:1-13, concludes the account of the Antichrist of the third kingdom. Between the two visions Daniel 9:1-27 is inserted, as to Messiah and the covenant-people at the end of the half-millennium (70 weeks of years).

In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar a vision - a higher kind of revelation than a dream.

After that which appeared unto me at the first - that in Daniel 7:1, which Daniel saw "in the first year of Belshazzar."


Verse 2

And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai.

When I saw ... I was at Shushan - Susa. Though then comparatively insignificant, it was destined to be capital of Persia after Cyrus' time. Therefore Daniel is transported into it, as being the capital of the kingdom signified by the two-horned ram (Nehemiah 1:1; Esther 1:2-5).

In the province of Elam - west of Persia proper, east of Babylonia, south of Media. Daniel was not present there personally, but in vision.

I was by the river of Ulai - called in Pliny Euloeus; by the Greeks, Choaspes. Now Kerah, or Karasu. So, in Daniel 4:1-37, he receives a vision near another river, the Hiddekel. So Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:1) at the Chebar. Perhaps because synagogues used to be built near rivers, as before praying they washed their hands in the water (Rosenmuller). (Psalms 137:1.)


Verse 3

Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last. A ram which had two horns - the two ought not to be in italics, as if it were not in the original: for it is expressed by the Hebrew dual. "Horn" in the East is the symbol of power and royalty.

One was higher than the other ... the higher came up last. Persia, which was of little note until Cyrus' time, became then ascendant over Media, the more ancient kingdom. Darius was 62 years old (Daniel 5:31) when he began to reign; during his short reign of 2 years, being a weak king (Daniel 6:7; Daniel 6:14; Daniel 6:17), the government was almost entirely in Cyrus' hands. Hence, Herodotus does not mention Darius; but Xenophon does, under the name of Cyaxares II. The "ram" here corresponds to the "bear" (Daniel 7:5), symbolizing clumsy firmness: The King of Persia wore a jewelled ram's head of gold instead of a diadem, such as are seen on the pillars at Persepolis. Also the Hebrew for ram [ 'ayil (Hebrew #352), meaning strong, brave], springs from the same root as "Elam," or Persia (Mede in Newton). The "one horn higher than the other" answers to the bear "raising itself on one side" (cf. note, Daniel 7:5).


Verse 4

I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great.

I saw the ram pushing westward. Persia conquered, westward, Babylon, Mesopotamia, Syria, Asia Minor.

Northward - Colchis, Armenia, Iberia, and the dwellers on the Caspian sea.

Southward - Judea, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya; also India, under Darius. He does not say eastward, for the Persians themselves came from the east (Isaiah 46:11, "a ravenous bird from the east").

But he did according to his will - (Daniel 11:3; Daniel 11:16 : cf. Daniel 5:19).


Verse 5

And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.

An he-goat came from the west, on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground. - Graeco-Macedonia.

The goat had a notable horn - Alexander. "Touched not the ground" implies the incredible swiftness of his conquests; he overran the world in less than 12 years. The he-goat corresponds to the leopard (Daniel 7:6). Caranus, the first king of Macedonia, was said to have been led by goats to Edessa, which he made the seat of his kindgom, and called AEgae - i:e., goat-city.


Verse 6

And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power.

He came to the ram that had two horns ... standing before the river - Ulai (Daniel 8:2). It was at the "river" Granicus that Alexander fought his first victorious battle against Darius, 334 BC


Verse 7

And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand.

He was moved with choler. - Alexander represented the concentrated wrath of Greece against Persia for the Persian invasions of Greece; also for the Persian cruelties to Greeks, and Darius' attempts to seduce Alexander's soldiers to treachery (Newton).

Stamped upon him. In 331 BC he defeated Darius Codomanus, and in 330 BC burned Persepolis, and completed the conquest of Persia.

None ... could deliver the ram out of his hand - not the immense hosts of Persia could save it from the small army of Alexander (Psalms 33:16).


Verse 8

Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.

When he was strong, the great horn was broken. The empire was in full strength at Alexander's death by fever at Babylon, and seemed then least likely to fall. Yet it was then "broken." His natural brother, Philip Aridoeus, and his two sons, Alexander AEgus and Hercules, in 15 months, were murdered.

For it came up four notable ones, toward the four winds of heaven - Seleucus, in the east, obtained Syria, Babylonia, Media, etc. Cassander, in the west, Macedon, Thessaly, Greece. Ptolemy, in the south, Egypt, Cyprus, etc. Lysimachus, in the north, Thrace, Cappadocia, and the north parts of Asia Minor.


Verse 9

And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land.

Out of one of them came forth a little horn - not to be confounded with the little horn of the fourth kingdom in Daniel 7:8. The little horn in Daniel 7:1-28 comes as an eleventh horn after ten preceding horns. In Daniel 8:1-27 it is not an independent fifth horn, after the four previous ones, but arises out of one of the four existing horns. This horn is explained (Daniel 8:23) to be "a king of fierce countenance," etc. Antiochus Epiphanes is meant. Greece, with all its refinement, produces the first - i:e., the Old Testament Antichrist. Antiochus had an extraordinary love of art, which expressed itself in grand temples. He wished to substitute Zeus Olympius for Yahweh at Jerusalem. Thus, first, pagan civilzation from below and revealed religion from above came into collision. Identifying himself with Jupiter, his aim was to make his own worship universal (cf. Daniel 8:25 with Daniel 11:36): so mad was he in this that he was called Epimanes (maniac) instead of Epiphanes (illustrious).

None of the previous world-rulers, Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:31-34), Darius (Daniel 6:27-28), Cyrus (Ezra 1:2-4), Artaxerxes Longimanus (Ezra 7:12), had systematically opposed the Jews' religious worship. Nebuchaduezzar's and Darius' decrees had not been aimed against the three Jewish youths and Daniel respectively, but had incidentally involved them in penalties for their religion. In the end both monarchs did honour to the God of Israel; as did their successors Cyrus and Artaxerxes. Hence, the need of prophecy to prepare them for Antiochus. The struggle of the Maccabees was a fruit of Daniel's prophecy (1 Maccabees 2:59-61 : Thus Mattathias, the father, stimulated his sons to religious stedfastness, saying, 'Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, by believing, were saved out of the flame. Daniel for his innocence was delivered from the mouth of lions. And thus consider ye throughout all ages, that none that put their trust in Him shall be overcome'). He is the forerunner of the final Antichrist, standing in the same relation to the first advent of Christ that Antichrist does to His second coming.

The sins in Israel which gave rise to the Greek Antichrist were that some Jews adopted Hellenic customs (cf. Daniel 11:30; Daniel 11:32), erecting theaters, and regarding all religions alike, sacrificing to Yahweh, but at the same time sending money for sacrifices to Hercules ("He shall ... have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant" ... "Such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries"). The prophecy was fulfilled to the letter, we know from 1 Maccabees 1:20-53. 'Many also of the Israelites consented to his (Antiochus's) religion, and sacrificed unto idols, and profaned the Sabbath.' Such shall be the state of the world when ripe for Antichrist. At Daniel 8:9; Daniel 8:23 the description passes from the literal Antiochus to features which, though partially attributed to him, hold good in their fullest sense only of his antitype, the New Testament Antichrist.

The Mohammedan Antichrist may also be included; answering to the Euphratean (Turk.) horseman (Revelation 9:14-21), loosed "an hour, a day, a month, a year" (391 years in the year-day theory), to scourge corrupted, idolatrous Christianity. In 637 AD the Saracen Moslem Mosque of Omar was rounded on the site of the temple, "treading under foot the sanctuary" (Daniel 8:11-13); and there it still remains. The first conquest of the Turks over Christians was in 1281 AD and 391 years after they reached their zenith of power (their last victory over them being in

1672), and began to decline, Sobieski defeating them at Vienna. Mohammed II, called 'the conqueror,' reigned 1451 AD - 1481 AD, in which period Constantinople fell; 391 years after brings us to our own day, in which Turkey's fall is imminent.

Waxed exceeding great, toward the south - (Daniel 11:25). Antiochus fought against Ptolemy Philometor and Egypt - i:e., the south.

Toward the east - he fought against those who attempted a change of government in Persia.

Toward the pleasant land - Judea, "the glorious land" (Dan. ; 41:45 : cf. Psalms 48:2; Ezekiel 20:6; Ezekiel 20:15). Its chief pleasantness consists in its being God's chosen fund (Psalms 132:13; Jeremiah 3:19). Into it Antiochus made his inroad, after his return from Egypt.


Verse 10

And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them.

It waxed great, even to the host of heaven - explained Daniel 8:24, "He shall destroy the mighty and holy people" - i:e., the Jews (Daniel 7:21) and their priests, who were so highly exalted as to privileges as to be here regarded as the Lord's heavenly "host" (cf. Isaiah 24:21). The Levites' service is called 'a warfare' (margin, Numbers 8:24-25). Great civil and religious powers are symbolized by "stars" (Matthew 24:29). See 1 Maccabees 1:25, etc.; 2:35, etc.; 5:2,12,13. Tregelles refers "stars" to those Jews whose portion item God is heavenly glory (Daniel 12:3), being believers in Him who is above at God's right hand, not the blinded Jews.

It cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground - so Babel, as type of Antichrist, is described (Isaiah 14:13-14, "I will exalt my throne above the stars of God"). Compare Revelation 12:4; 2 Maccabees 9:10, as to Antiochus. Returning from Persia Antiochus came to Ecbatana, after having, been put to flight by the people of Persepolis. 'Swelling with anger he thought to avenge upon the Jews the disgrace so done to him, and threatened proudly that he would come to Jerusalem and make it a common burying-place of the Jews. But the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, smote him with an incurable and invisible (internal) plague ... so that the man that thought a little afore he could reach to the stars of heaven, no man, could endure to carry for his intolerable stink.'


Verse 11

Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.

Yea, he magnified himself ... to the prince of the host - i:e., God Himself, the Lord of sabaoth, the hosts in heaven and earth, stars, angels, and earthly ministers. So Daniel 8:25, "he shall ... stand up against the Prince of princes;" "against the God of gods" (Daniel 11:36 : cf. Daniel 7:8). He not only opposes God's ancient people, but also God Himself.

The daily sacrifice - one lamb was offered in the morning and another in the evening (Exodus 29:38-39).

Was taken away - by Antiochus (1 Maccabees 1:20; 1 Maccabees 1:47; 1 Maccabees 1:54; 1 Maccabees 1:59, 'The King forbad burnt offerings and sacrifice and drink offerings in the temple, and (ordered) that they should sacrifice swine's flesh ... Now in the fifteenth day of the month Casleu, they set up the abomination of desolation upon the altar,' and 'they did sacrifice upon the idol-altar, which was upon the altar of God').

And the place of his sanctuary was cast down. Though robbed of its treasures, it was not strictly "cast down" by Antiochus; so that a fuller accomplishment is future. Antiochus took away the daily sacrifice for a few years; the Romans, for many ages, and "cast down" the temple; and Antichrist, in connection with Rome, the fourth kingdom, shall do so again, after the Jews in their own land, still unbelieving, shall have rebuilt the temple and restored the Mosaic ritual: God giving them up to him "by reason of transgression" (Daniel 8:12) - i:e., God not owning the worship so rendered to Him (Tregelles); and then the opposition of the horn to the "truth" is especially mentioned.


Verse 12

And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered.

An host - rather, as the Hebrew, 'the host was given up to him' - i:e., the holy people were given into his hands. So in Daniel 8:10 "the host" is used; and again in Daniel 8:13, where also "give" is used as here for "giving up" for destruction (cf. Daniel 11:6). (Maurer.)

Against the daily sacrifice - rather (the host was given up to him to tread upon), 'together with the daily sacrifice' (cf. Daniel 8:13).

By reason of transgression. 1 Maccabees 1:11-16 traces all the calamities suffered under Antiochus to the transgression of certain Jews who introduced pagan customs into Jerusalem just before. 'In those days went there out of Israel wicked men, who persuaded many, saying, Let us go and make a covenant with the pagan that are round about us; for since we departed from them we have had much sorrow.' ... 'Whereupon they built a place of exercise (a school) at Jerusalem, according to the customs of the pagan; and made themselves uncircumcised, and forsook the holy covenant, and joined themselves to the pagan, and were sold to do mischief.' But transgression was not at the full (Daniel 8:23) under Antiochus; because Onias the high priest administered the laws in godliness at the time (2 Maccabees 3:1). Therefore the "transgression" must refer to that of the Jews hereafter restored to Palestine in unbelief. And it cast down the truth - the worship of the true God. Isaiah 59:14, "Truth is fallen in the street."

And it practiced, and prospered - whatever he undertook succeeded (Daniel 8:4; Daniel 11:28; Daniel 11:36).


Verse 13

Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?

Another saint said unto that certain saint. Daniel did not know the names of these two holy angels, but saw only that one was speaking to the other.

How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice? - How long shall the daily sacrifice be suspended?

And the transgression of desolation - literally, making desolate - i:e., Antiochus' desolating profanation of the temple (Daniel 11:31, "They shall place the abomination that maketh desolate;" Daniel 12:11). See above on Daniel 8:11 the quotation in full from 1 Maccabees 1:1-64. Compare as to Rome and the last Antichrist, Matthew 24:15, "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation (the idol of the pagan invader), spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place ... then let them which be in Judea flies into the mountains").


Verse 14

And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.

And he said unto me - the answer is to Daniel, not to the inquirer, for the latter had asked in Daniel's name, as vice versa the saint or angel (so "saint" is used for angel, Job 15:15; Psalms 89:6-7) speaks of the vision granted to Daniel as if it had been granted to himself. For holy men are in Scripture represented as having attendant angels, with whom they are in a way identified in interests. If the conversation had been limited to the angels it could have been of no use to us. But God conveys it to prophetic men, for our good, through the ministry of angels.

Unto two thousand and three hundred days - literally, mornings and evenings, specified in connection with the morning and evenlug sacrifice. Compare Genesis 1:5. Six years and 110 days. This includes not only the three and a half years during which the daily sacrifice was forbidden by Antiochus (Josephus, 'Bellum Judaicum,' 1: 1, sec. 1), but the whole series of events whereby it was practically interrupted: beginning with the "little horn waxing great toward the plesant land," and "casting some of the host" (Daniel 8:9-10); namely, when in 171 BC, or the month Sivan in the year 142 of the era of the Seleucidae, the sacrifices began to be neglected, owing to the high priest Jason introducing at Jerusalem Grecian customs and amusements-the palaestra and gymnasium; ending with the death of Antiochus, 165 BC, or the month Shebath in the year 148 of the Seleucid era. Compare 1 Maccabees 1:11-15; 2 Maccabees 4:7-14, 'After the death of Seleucus, when Antiochus called Epiphanes took the kingdom, Jason, the brother of Onias, laboured underhand to be high priest, promising unto the king, by intercession, three hundred and threescore talents of silver, etc., if he might have license to set him up a place for exercise, and, for the training up of youth in the fashions of the pagan, and to write them of Jerusalem by the name of Antiochians: which, when the king had granted, and he had gotten into his hand the rule, he forthwith brought his own nation to the Greekish fashion-he brought up new customs against the law-and made them wear a hat.

Now, such was the height of Greek fashions and increase of paganish manners, through the exceeding profaneness of Jason-that ungodly wretch and no high priest-that the priests had no courage anymore to serve at the altar, but despising the temple and neglecting the sacrifices, hastened to be partakers of the unlawful allowance in the place of exercise, after the game of Discus called them forth, not setting by the honours of their fathers, but liking the glory of the Grecians best of all. By reason whereof sore calamity came upon them: for they had them to be their enemies and avengers whose custom they followed so earnestly, and, unto whom they desired to be like in all things.'

The reason for the greater minuteness of historical facts and dates given in Daniel's prophecies than in those of the New Testament is, that Israel, not having yet the clear views which Christians have of immortality and the heavenly inheritance, could only be directed to the earthly future; because it was on earth the looked-for Messiah was to appear, and the sum and subject of Old Testament prophesy was the kingdom of God upon earth. The minuteness of the revelation of Israel's earthly destiny was to compensate for the absence, in the Old Testament, of views of heavenly glory.

Thus, in Daniel 9:1-27, the times of Messiah are foretold to the very year; in Daniel 8:1-27, the times of Antiochus, even to the day; and in Daniel 11:1-45, the Syro-Egyptian struggles in most minute detail. Tregelles thinks the 2,300 days answer to the week of years (Daniel 9:27) during which the destroying prince (Daniel 9:26) makes a covenant, which he breaks in the midst of the week (namely, at the end of three and a half years). The seven years exceed the 2,300 days by considerably more than a half year. This period of the seven years' excess above the 2,300 days may be allotted to the preparations needed for setting up the temple worship, with Antichrist's permission to the restored Jews, according to his "covenant" with them; and the 2,300 days may date from the actual setting up of the worship.

But, says Auberlen, the more accurate to a day the dates as to Antiochus are given the less should we say the 1,290, or 1,335 days (Daniel 12:11-12) correspond to the half week (roughly), and the 2,300 to the whole. The event, however, may, in the case of Antichrist, show a correspondence between the days here given and Daniel 9:27, such as is not yet discernible. The term of 2,300 days cannot refer to 2,300 years of the treading down of Christianity by Mohammedanism, as this would leave the greater portion of the time yet future; whereas Mohammedanism is fast waning. If the 2,300 days mean years, dating from Alexander's conquests, 334 to 323

B.C., we should arrive at about the close of the 6,000th year of the world, just as the 1,260 years (Daniel 7:25) from Justinian's decree arrive at the same terminus. The Jews' tradition represents the seventh thousand as the millennium. Cumming remarks, 480 BC is the date of the waning of the Persian empire before Greece; deducting 480 from 2,300, we have 1,820, and in 1821 Turkey, the successor of the Greek empire, began to wane, and Greece became a separate kingdom (see note, Daniel 12:11).

Then shall the sanctuary be cleansed - literally justified, vindicated from profanation. Judas Maccabeus celebrated the feast of dedication, after the cleansing and kindling of the holy fire for sacrifice by lighting, on the twenty-fifth of the ninth month, Casleu or Kisleu (1 Maccabees 4:51-58; 2 Maccabees 10:1-7; this is "the feast of the dedication" in the winter, apparently kept by the Lord Jesus as recorded in John 10:22). As to the antitypical dedication of the new temple, see Ezekiel 43:13-27, etc.; also Amos 9:11-12.


Verse 15

And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 16

And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.

A man's voice ... called, and said, Gabriel - meaning, The strength of God.


Verse 17

So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision.

For at the time of the end shall be the vision - (so Daniel 8:19, "in the last end of the indignation;" Daniel 11:35-36, "until the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done;" Daniel 11:40). The event being to take place at "the time of the end," makes it likely that the Antichrist ultimately referred to in this chapter (besides the immediate reference to Antiochus) and the one in Daniel 7:8 are one and the same, The objection that the one in Daniel 7:1-28 springs out of the ten divisions of the Roman earth, the fourth kingdom, the one in Daniel 8:1-27 and Daniel 11:1-45 from one of the font divisions of the third kingdom, Greece, is answered thus: The four divisions of the Grecian empire having become parts of the Roman empire, shall at the end form four of its ten final divisions (Tregelles).

However, the origin from one of the four parts of the third kingdom may be limited to Antiochus, the Old Testament Antichrist, the immediate subject of Daniel 8:1-27 and Daniel 11:1-45, while the ulterior typical object of reference in these chapters-namely, the last Antichrist-may belong to one of the ten Roman divisions, not necessarily one formerly of the four of the third kingdom. The event will tell. "The time of the end" may apply to the time of Antiochus. For it is the prophetic phrase for the time of fulfillment, seen always at the end of the prophetic horizon (Genesis 49:1; Numbers 24:14).


Verse 18

Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 19

And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be.

I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation - God's displeasure against the Jews for their sins. For their comfort they are told the calamities about to come are not to be for ever. The "time" is limited (Daniel 9:27, "Even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured on the desolate;" Daniel 11:27, "For yet the end shall be at the time appointed;" Daniel 11:35-36; Daniel 12:7; Habakkuk 2:3).


Verse 20

The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 21

And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.

The great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. Philip was king of Macedon before Alexander; but the latter was the first who, as generalissimo of Greece, subdued the Persian empire.


Verse 22

Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.

Four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power - not with the power which Alexander possessed (Maurer). An empire united, as under Alexander, is more powerful than one divided, as under the four Diadochi, or successors of Alexander.


Verse 23

And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.

In the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full. This does not hold good of the times of Antiochus, but of the closing times of the Christian era. Compare Luke 18:8 as to the wickedness of the world in general, just before Christ's second coming; also 2 Timothy 3:1-9. Israel's guilt, too, shall then be at the full, when they who rejected, Christ shall receive Antichrist; fulfilling Jesus' words, John 5:43, "I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not; if another, shall come in his own name, him ye will receive" (cf. Genesis 15:16, "The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full;" Matthew 23:32, "Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers;" 1 Thessalonians 2:16, "Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway").

A king of fierce countenance ... shall stand up - (Deuteronomy 28:50) one who will spare neither old nor young.

And understanding dark sentences - rather, artifices (Gesenius). Antiochus made himself master of Egypt and Jerusalem successively by craft (1 Maccabees 1:30, 'The king sent his chief collector of tribute, who came unto Jerusalem with a great multitude, and spake peaceable words unto them; but all was deceit: for when they had given him credence, he fell suddenly upon the city, and smote it very sore, and destroyed much people of Israel,' etc.; 2 Maccabees 5:24, 'Antiochus sent also that detestable ringleader, Apollonius, with an army of two and twenty thousand, commanding him to slay all those that were in their best age, and to sell the women and the younger sort; who, coming to Jerusalem, and pretending peace, did forbear until the holy day of the Sabbath, when, taking the Jews keeping holyday, he commanded his men to arm themselves, and so he slew all them that were gone to the celebrating of the Sabbath,' etc.)


Verse 24

And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.

His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power - which in the beginning was "little" (Daniel 8:9; Daniel 7:8); but by gaining over others through "craft," the once little horn became "mighty" (cf. Daniel 8:25; Daniel 11:23, "After the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people"). To be fully realized by Antichrist, He shall act by the power of Satan, who shall then be permitted to work through him in unrestricted license, such as he has not now (Revelation 13:2, "The dragon gave him (the beast) his power, and his seat, and great authority"); hence, the ten kingdoms shall give the beast their power (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12; Revelation 17:13, "These (ten kings) have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast").

And shall prosper, and practice - prosper in all that he attempts (Daniel 8:12).

And shall destroy the mighty and the holy people - his persecutions are especially directed against the Jews.


Verse 25

And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.

By peace shall destroy many - by pretending "peace" and friendship; in the midst of security (Gesenius) suddenly striking his blow (cf. note, Jeremiah 15:8, "a spoiler at noon-day").

He shall also stand up against the Prince of princes - not merely against the Jews (Daniel 8:11; Daniel 11:36).

But he shall be broken without hand - by God's special visitation. The stone "cut out of the mountain without hands," i:e., Christ, is to smite the world-power image on his feet (Daniel 2:34), i:e., in its last development (cf. Daniel 8:11). Antiochus' horrible death by worms and ulcers, when on his way to Judea, intending to take vengeance for the defeat of his armies by the Maccabees, was a primary fulfillment, foreshadowing God's judgment on the last enemy of the Jewish Church.


Verse 26

And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days.

Shut thou up the vision - implying the vision was not to be understood for the present. In Revelation 13:10 it is said, "Seal not the vision, for the time is at hand." What in Daniel's time was hidden, was more fully explained in Revelation, and as the time draws nearer it will be clearer still.

For it shall be for many days - it refers to remote times (Ezekiel 12:27).


Verse 27

And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king's business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.

I Daniel fainted, and was sick - through grief at the calamities coming on my people and the Church of God (cf. Psalms 102:14, "Thy servants take pleasure in her stones (even in the ruins of Jerusalem), and favour the dust thereof").

Afterward I rose up, and did the king's business. He who holds nearest communion with heaven can best discharge the duties of common life.

I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it. He had heard of kings, but knew not their names; he foresaw the events, but not the time when they were to take place; thereupon he could only feel "astonished," and leave all with the omniscient God (Jerome).

Remarks:

(1) This chapter is concerned with the prophecies of the rise and fall of Medo-Persia, the rise of Graeco-Macedonia on its ruins, and the four-fold kingdom of Alexander the Great's successors. Out of one of the four divisions of the latter sprang Antiochus Epiphanes, the great persecutor of the Jews. Like the Lord Christ Himself, Antichrist was to have a more immediate, as well as a more distant future. As there is to be the last great Antichrist in the latter days of the New Testament, just before the second coming of Christ, so there was to be a typical and precursory Antichrist in the latter days of the Old Testament, just before the first coming of Christ. Both alike shall have to do with Israel in the way of perverting her by flatteries, and then persecuting her. But the New Testament Antichrist, who is foreshadowed by the Old Testament Antichrist, shall also have to do with the spiritual Israel, the elect Church, as well as with the literal Israel. Hence, arises the need that we should take heed to the signs of the times, and be on our guard ourselves, and put others, too, upon their guard, against the seductions, errors, and dangers of these latter times, which are verging fast toward the times of Antichrist. Romanism and other forms of apostate Christianity, combined with rationalism and the godless wisdom of the world, have most of the elements of Anti-Christianity which are preparing the way for the man of sin (2 Thessalonians 2:1-17), the king of fierce countenance (Daniel 8:23), and understanding dark sentences, who, "when the transgressors are come to the full," "shall stand up against the Prince of princes" (Daniel 8:25). Let us, then, with holy zeal, chastened with humility and love, "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 1:3).

(2) The astonishing rapidity and extent of Alexander the Great's conquests with his comparatively small army is happily expressed by the prophet's words concerning him, "He came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground." Nothing could withstand the impetuosity of his onward progress. But who, except the Spirit of God in his prophets, could have foreseen that "when he was strong" - that is when the new empire was in its fullest strength-it, along with Alexander himself, would be "broken." Alexander died at Babylon at the age of 33, in the full strength of his manhood, the victim of intemperance. In his case was shown the vanity of earthly greatness. He who was surnamed 'the Great,' for his conquest of millions, was truly petty; because he was not able to conquer himself. Worldly grandeur can make us neither better nor happier men. "Better is he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city" (Proverbs 16:32). Ill-gotten generally proves ill-gone. The fabric of ambition, reared on the destruction of millions, often falls to pieces in a moment, and at the time when its fall is least expected. He builds too low who builds beneath the skies.

(3) Out of one of the four horns or divisions of the Greek empire came forth "the little horn" (Daniel 8:9), or power which "magnified himself even to the prince of the host," and "took away the daily sacrifice, and cast down the place of the sanctuary" (Daniel 8:11). It is a striking fact that the Old Testament Antichrist did not spring from a rude and barbarous or half civilized age and kingdom, but from the most refined of classic nations, Greece, and in an age of art and advanced civilization. Antiochus Epiphanes was an enthusiastic admirer of art. He reared temples in accordance with the most approved principles of architecture. He encouraged gymnasia, or schools in which the teaching of philosophy was combined with the development of the bodily powers. Some Jews, along with Jason, who intrigued for the High Priesthood, in order to ingratiate themselves with Antiochus, began to adopt Grecian fashions, building theaters, and with the profession of large-minded liberality, regarding all religions alike, and therefore, while sacrificing to Yahweh, at the same time contributing money for the worship of Hercules. Thus then, first, pagan civilization from below, and revealed religion from above, came into collision. Herein we have a picture of the state of the world as it shall be when ripe for the last Antichrist. Already many of the same features are observable in our day-a complex civilization and refinement, which many think to make a substitute for vital religion. Art and aesthetics in music, painting, architecture, and statuary, either in association with or severed from religion, are the panacea which many offer for the healing of man's sorrows and evils. Unholy compromises with the world, the lowering of the obligations of the Christian Sabbath, and latitudinarian indifference, under the plea of freedom from bigotry, are prominent characteristics of our age.

Then, too, corresponding to the Greek gymnasia introduced among the covenant-people under Antiochus, is the so-called 'muscular Christianity' of our day, which makes the bodily development and secular interests, instead of matters of secondary importance, to be the chief concern of immortal beings! As corrupted and degenerate Christianity was the carcass ready for the false prophet and the Mohammedans as eagles to pounce upon, so apostate Christendom in the last days shall be the fitting prey to be given, in judicial wrath, to the last and worst Antichrist. So great shall be the "signs and wonders" that Antichrist shall "show" (Matthew 24:24) that, "if it were possible, they should deceive the very elect" (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11; Revelation 13:13-15). The little horn, when it has "waxed great," shall "cast down to the ground some even of the host and of the stars of heaven" (Daniel 8:10); that is, some who once, like Capernaum (Matthew 11:23), were "exalted unto heaven" in spiritual privileges. Hence, we need the greatest prayerfulness, humility, watchfulness, and adherence to the written Word, "lest we also, being led away with the error of the wicked, should fall from our own stedfastness" (2 Peter 3:17). Oppose beginning. It was "by reason of transgression" (Daniel 8:12) on the part of some paganizing Jews that "an host was given to Antiochus against the daily sacrifice," so as to "cast down the truth to the ground" (Daniel 8:12). Let us then be "valiant for the truth upon the earth" (Jeremiah 9:3). (4) Though the tribulation under the Old Testament Antichrist was to be severe, its duration was to be limited. For the sake of the elect nation there was to be an end of the calamity, and the sanctuary was to be "cleansed" from profanation (Daniel 8:14) after a fixed time, and that a comparatively short time. So in the last days the time of the final Antichrist's fury is shortened for the elect's sake. When "transgressors are come to the full" (Daniel 8:23) then shall the professing Christian world be ripe for the judgment to be inflicted by the anti-Christian world-power (Revelation 17:3-13; Revelation 17:15-17). Already the lawless spirit of resistance to constituted authority, absence of the natural affections, undutifulness to parents, proud boastfulness, covetousness, love of pleasure rather than of God, the form of godliness without its power, are (as 2 Timothy 3:1-9 foretells of the last days) beginning to be the characteristics of our age.

The last ordeal, therefore, may not be very far off. It is "not by his own power," but by the power of Satan, who works in him and by him, delegating to him "his seat and great authority" (Revelation 13:2), that Antichrist shall became mighty. His "coming shall be after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders" (2 Thessalonians 2:9). Thus shall he cause craft to prosper in his hand through policy" (Daniel 8:25). So that the ten kings "shall give their power and strength, to the beast" (Revelation 17:13). Pretending "peace" he shall "destroy many," especially of God's ancient people, as well as of the spiritual Israel. But when "he shall stand up against the Prince of princes," as well as against His people, then his destruction "without hand" (Daniel 8:25) is imminent. The stone "cut out of the mountain without hands" (Daniel 2:34; Daniel 2:45) shall "break him to pieces" and "grind him to powder" (Matthew 21:44).

(5) It is the mark of the unregenerate man "not to be grieved for the affliction of Joseph" (Amos 6:6); that is, to feel unconcerned about the present and coming trials of the people and Church of God. And it is a mark of grace, like Daniel, to be deeply moved at what affects so seriously the cause of God and His people on earth (Daniel 8:27). But our grief is not to be allowed to disqualify us for the duties of our calling. Like Daniel, who, after grieving in secret before God, "rose up and did the king's business." So we are to do diligently our earthly duty in the station of life in which God's providence has placed us; nor must our communion with God make us to think ourselves above attending, in its due time and place, to our worldly business. He who holds closest contact with God is the man best able to discharge the duties of everyday life.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Daniel 8:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/daniel-8.html. 1871-8.

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