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Bible Commentaries

James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary

Daniel 8

 

 

Verses 1-27

THE RAM AND THE HE-GOAT

How much later was this vision than the preceding? Where was it revealed to Daniel (Daniel 8:2)? It is important to keep in mind that it covers the same ground as the preceding, except that the story begins, not with Babylon’s supremacy, but that of the Medes and Persians represented by the ram (Daniel 8:3), though in the former vision by the bear. The higher horn of the ram is the Persian half of the empire. The united empire made conquests west, north and south, but in its western campaigns it awakened the triumphing opposition of the Greeks represented by the “he-goat,” whose “notable horn” was Alexander the Great (Daniel 8:5-7). In the former vision this empire was represented by the leopard.

Verse 8 foreshadows the death of Alexander, and the division of the Grecian empire into four parts Syria, Egypt, Macedonia, Asia Minor, under the rule respectively of four of Alexander’s generals, Cassander, Lysimachus, Seleucus and Ptolemy.

ANTIOCHUS EPIPHANES (Daniel 8:9-14)

“A little horn,” as in the preceding vision, comes out from these four (Daniel 8:9), whose power developed towards the south and east, and especially “the pleasant land,” the land of Israel. The “little horn” is the eighth of the dynasty of Seleucus on the Syrian throne, whose name was Antiochus Epiphanes, although he was sometimes called Epimanes, or the “madman,” because of his life and deeds.

As an oppressor of the Jews he fulfilled the prophecy in Daniel 8:10-12, as will be seen by the book of Maccabees. “The host of heaven” and “the stars” are types of Israel, especially their leaders the princes, priests, rabbis of the period, which was about 171 B.C.

“The prince of the host” (Daniel 8:11) is doubtless the Lord Himself, from whom the daily sacrifice was taken away, and whose sanctuary was polluted. Indeed, when Antiochus conquered Jerusalem he caused a sow to be sacrificed on the altar, and its broth sprinkled over the entire temple. He changed the feast of tabernacles into the feast of Bacchus, and greatly corrupted the Jewish youth who were spared from the sword, one hundred thousand of whom were massacred.

The time during which this continued is revealed by a conversation between two angels which Daniel in vision hears (Daniel 8:13-14). The 2,300 days is sometimes identified by going back from the time of Judas Maccabees’ victory, or rather the date when he cleansed the sanctuary from its abomination, about December 25, 165 B.C. to 171 B.C., the date of the interference of Antiochus. This Antiochus is a forerunner, or an approximate fulfillment of that “little horn” spoken of in the preceding vision, and again in the closing part of the present one.

THE INSPIRED INTERPRETATION (Daniel 8:15-27)

The angel Gabriel here appears for the first time, and in the likeness of a man (Daniel 8:15-16), but it is evident that the interpretation he is to give refers not so much to Antiochus and his deeds as to the greater than he who shall arise “at the time of the end” (5:17), the same one possibly, and the same period as are referred to in the preceding vision. “The time of the end” is identified in Daniel 8:19 as “the last end of the indignation,” an expression frequently met with in the Old Testament, and meaning God’s indignation against Israel on account of her disobedience and apostasy, an indignation which will be poured out upon her at the end of this age.

This being of whom Antiochus is the forerunner or approximate fulfillment, and who is possibly the same as in the preceding vision, is further described in Daniel 8:23-25. What language in Daniel 8:23 shows that he appears at the end of the age? How are his spirit and character described in the same verse? How does the next verse suggest superhuman agency in his case? And his animus towards Israel? Express the deceitfulness indicated in Daniel 8:25, in your own words. What language in this verse shows his opposition to the Messiah personally? How is his destruction expressed? (Compare 2 Thessalonians 2:8.) It may be objected that this being cannot be the same as the “little horn” of the preceding vision, because that is seen to come up out of the ten horns; in other words, out of the Roman Empire or the last form of Gentile dominion on the earth, while this comes up out of the four, or the Grecian Empire, which is next to the last. But a simple answer is that he may come up out of that part of the Roman Empire which was originally the Grecian; in other words, that his rise may be expected in that quarter of the world and from such antecedents.

Nevertheless some think the “little horn” of this chapter, who shall arise at the end, is a different person from the one in chapter 7. They hold that he of chapter 7 will be the head of the revived Roman Empire, but that he of chapter 8 is another king of the north, who is to be the foe of Israel, and at the same time the enemy of the head of the revived Roman Empire. This may be true, and we would not dogmatize in a matter of such uncertainty, but we think the view suggested here of the identity of the two is the simpler and more practical one to hold awaiting light.

QUESTIONS

1. How far is the scope of this vision identical with the preceding?

2. Name the geographic divisions of the Grecian Empire and their respective rulers.

3. Historically, who is meant by the “little horn”?

4. Give as much as you can of the history of Antiochus Epiphanes.

5. Of whom is he a type or forerunner?

6. What is meant by “the time of the end”?

7. What objection might be raised as to the identity of the “little horn” in chapter 7 with that of chapter 8?

8. How might it be met?

 


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Bibliography Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on Daniel 8:4". The James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jgc/daniel-8.html. 1897-1910.

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