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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible

Daniel 7

 

 

Verse 1

DANIEL CHAPTER 7

Daniel’s vision of the four beasts, Daniel 7:1-8, and of God’s kingdom, Daniel 7:9-14. The interpretation thereof, Daniel 7:15-28.

This prophecy is written in Chaldee, to be a monument and document to him of the reverence his father and grandfather showed towards God, who had done such mighty works for them, and against them, to humble their pride, and make them know that the high God ruled, and they reigned at his mercy. Howbeit Belshazzar made no use of it, but lifted himself up in profaneness and pride till the wrath of God plucked him down.

In the first year of Belshazzar: now Daniel begins to declare the visions God showed him at sundry times, therefore he goes back to the first year of Belshazzar. It is observed by the curious, that the word Belshazzar is here changed by the prophet, one letter transposed, which alters the signification greatly; for his name is ruvaln Daniel 5:1, which signifies

treasures searched out and possessed; but the word in the text is this, ruavln which means,

Bel is consumed with the fire of an enemy, as was prophesied by Jeremiah, Daniel 1:2 Jeremiah 51:44. See Jeremiah 51:25,58. The Jews used to change the names of idols and idolaters, and it turned to a reproach to them, as Grotius proves well out of Moses de Kotzi.

He wrote the dream: these visions of Daniel were sent, and recorded by him in writing, for the benefit of the church, to rectify their mistake; for they thought all things would succeed prosperously after they returned out of their captivity: yet they should find a world of troubles in many generations following, seeing that of the four great monarchies, which he calls beasts, there was but one passed, and they should find three more yet to come. This Daniel dreamed, saw, wrote, and told the sum of it.


Verse 2

Because Daniel doth not expound what is meant by

winds, expositors think there is room left for every one’s conjecture; wherein this seems most likely, that by the four winds of the great sea is signified commotions of contrary nations and factions, striving together by wars, and producing these four beasts successively. That this is often signified by winds, see Jeremiah 49:36 51:1; in the destruction of Babylon, the first monarchy; and of Elam, i.e. the Persian monarchy.

The great sea in Scripture is the Mediterranean Sea, called now the Levant, Archipelago, Straits, &c.

1. Comparatively; for the people called lakes seas, as the sea of Galilee, Gennesareth, Cinneroth, the Dead Sea, or lake of Sodom; but the Mediterranean was

Jamma rabba, the great sea, for its length and breadth, above all the lakes put together, though it be itself but a lake in comparison of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

2. Great sea, because the great stage of action hath been on it, and adjoined to it; and all the four great monarchies have been masters of it.

3. Allegorically, for it is usual in Scripture to compare people to waters, and nations to seas, Revelation 13:1 17:15; called so from the confused noise of it, Revelation 19:6, and from the unstableness of them, always running and rolling with every wind as it blows, endangering those that ride upon the backs of its swelling waves.


Verse 3

That is, four great monarchies,

great in comparison of particular kingdoms that were little to them; beasts for their idolatry, and tyrannical oppressions and depredations.


Verse 4

Lion, and eagle; one the king of beasts, the other the king of birds, for which he is called the golden head, as Daniel 2:32,38. This was the Chaldean or Assyrian; whose seat was first at Babylon, after at Nineveh, and then at Babylon again.

Had eagle’s wings; they were swift, overrunning many countries, and brought their monarchy to a prodigious height in a short time. Thus Jeremiah prophesied, Daniel 4:13,

He shall come up as clouds, his chariots shall be as a whirlwind, his horses are swifter than eagles; in the 7th verse called a

lion, and here like

clouds, whirlwinds, and eagles for swiftness, Jeremiah 48:40 Ezekiel 17:3.

The wings thereof were plucked; which was first in stopping the career of their victories, and after in casting them out of their kingdom, the nation was not destroyed, but their monarchy.

A man’s heart was given unto it: this was truly verified in Nebuchadnezzar, after he was as a beast turned out amongst beasts, Daniel 4:31-34; and finished upon his son Belshazzar for not taking warning, Daniel 5:22.


Verse 5

Another beast, viz. the Medes and Persians, a fierce, grim, ravenous creature, and barbarously cruel, especially the mountainous part, as of Caucasus, Armenia, and Media by The Caspian Sea near the Tartars, and that which borders upon the Mogul, the Usbecks, and the Sasbuts; read Isaiah 13:17,18 Jer 51:48,53, called

spoilers. See Jeremiah 51:11, &c. Thus God sent in the northern bears upon Babylon to devour flesh. See how God calls them against Babylon, Jeremiah 51:20-23,27,28; he reckons Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz, and the Medes, i.e. Armenia, Parthia, Hyrcania, &c., the rough northern hungry bears.

On one side, i.e. the north side; for the Mede first arose and sent to Cyrus the Persian to come in and assist him against the Assyrian, and made him general.

It had three ribs in the mouth of it: several of the Babylonian subjects revolted from the Babylonian, (and all these made the three ribs,) as the Hyrcanians, and Gobrias.


Verse 6

This

leopard was the Grecian monarchy; a leopard is less than a lion, so was this monarchy at first, but yet durst fight with a lion; so did Alexander encounter Darius with a force very small to the other. A

leopard also for his swiftness; therefore described with

four wings on his back.

The beast had also four heads, because his commanders that succeeded him were four of his chief commanders, that divided that empire into four parts between them; and these were the four heads to whom dominion was given, Ptolemy, Seleucus, Philippus, Antigonus, or, as others, Perdiccas and Meleager, Daniel 8:21,22. Dominion was given to it: Alexander did this by the mighty power of God; else how could he conquer Darius, that had six hundred thousand, with thirty thousand, and in so short a time go conqueror over Asia to the East Indies, I mean that part which now the Mogul possesseth, where he fought with Porus and beat him?


Verse 7

A fourth beast: this was the Roman empire; for that followed the Grecian, and was monstrous as to his rise and progress.

Stamped the residue with the feet of it. As to the variety and cruelty of the government, it made use not only of Italians, but Spaniards, Gauls, Germans, Britons, which made their armies hardy and hard as iron, which broke in pieces the gold, silver, and brass. But it is plain this is the last kingdom of the Four, that was to be destroyed by Christ’s kingdom, and this work was to be doing till the last age, Daniel 7:13.

Ten horns, i.e. kings, Daniel 7:24 Revelation 17:12, called

horns. i.e. of iron, as the teeth were, i.e. cruel and persecuting; as beasts push and gore with their horns.


Verse 8

Daniel

considered, and this calls upon us to consider the matter.

Another little horn: some will have the Turk meant; others, before him, Antiochus Epiphanes; others Julius Caesar; others antichrist. It is certain the horn that riseth out of the he-goat is Antiochus, Daniel 8:9-12, but the horn here mentioned riseth out of the fourth beast, or under him. Therefore he must be the Turk, as some will have it, or the Romish antichrist. Not the Turk, since,

1. The horn signified only one king, Daniel 7:24.

2. He must gain all the fourth kingdom.

3. He must reign before the kingdom of Christ is erected.

Before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: some will have Egypt, Asia, and Greece to be the three which are possessed by the Turk; but though he hath got the Egyptian and Constantinopolitan, which are two, must the German be the third? He hath pushed hard for it now of late. A mouth speaking great things: this again some interpret of Antiochus, some of Mahomet, some of the Caesars, others of antichrist, all concerning their craft and blasphemies, which properly can be meant but of one.


Verse 9

By

thrones cast down must be meant the kingdoms of this world, destroyed by Christ the King and Judge of all, called the Ancient of days, because of his eternal Deity;

without beginning and end of days. Whose garment was white as snow; thus kings’ viceroys were clothed, as Joseph in fine silk, Genesis 41:42, and Mordecai, Esther 8:15.

The hair of his head like the pure wool; see Revelation 1:14; noting his innocence, and righteousness in judgment, Isaiah 42:4.

His throne was like the fiery flame: this notes his majesty in judgment: see Psalms 1:3,4 Mal 4:1 Revelation 19:11,12.

His wheels as burning fire; arguing the greatest and most formidable state of the last Judge and judgment; alluding to the kings who had movable thrones, which had wheels: it notes also God’s swiftness in judgment, Malachi 3:5.


Verse 10

A fiery stream issued; see Psa 1 3; noting his justice and wrath, in giving sentence and executing it.

Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: this is the great assize.

The judgment was set, and the books were opened: see Revelation 20:11,12. This, say some, is spoken agreeable to the Synedrium or Sanhedrim, and after the manner of men, and notes the book of life, of God’s eternal decree, the book of God’s omniscience, &c.


Verse 11

This cannot but be meant of the ruin and judgment of antichrist, till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed and given to the burning flame, 2 Thessalonians 2:8 Revelation 17:8 19:20 20:10.


Verse 12

They had their dominion taken away; the prophet chiefly intends the fourth empire, and therein the proud, blasphemous horn; yet did not wholly omit to speak of the three first empires, and what became of them. He saith they were wholly taken away, that is, successively, as histories tell us. The beast and the horn perish together, for the Holy Ghost tells us that the horn shall prevail against the saints till the

Ancient of days come to sit in judgment, and because the session of judgment in Daniel’s vision was principally to pluck up by the roots that wicked horn, Daniel 7:26 following, Daniel’s expectation had failed him, if the horn had not perished with the beast. Besides, the state of the beast under the horn was to be a time, times, and the dividing of time, Daniel 7:25, of which more when we come to it.


Verse 13

One like the Son of man; that is, the Messiah: this is the same with the stone, Da 2; he came with the clouds of heaven, Matthew 24:30, i.e. gloriously, swiftly, and terribly, Jeremiah 4:13.

They brought him near before him: this relates to his ascension, Acts 1:9-11, at which time, though King before, Matthew 2:2, yet now, and not before, he seems to receive his royal investiture for the protection of his church and the curbing of their enemies, which he says he had before, Matthew 28:18 1 Corinthians 15:25 Daniel 2:44.


Verse 15

I was transported even to astonishment with the vision, it was so strange, surprising, and terrible to me.


Verse 16

Unto one of them that stood by; that is, to an angel that ministered, Zechariah 3:4,7.

Asked him the truth of all this; that I might learn of him the true and full meaning of this vision; which the angel readily told him.


Verse 17

Men of the earth, of earthly principles, idolatrous, ambitious, sensual, tyrannical; who, after they have acted their parts, shall be driven off the stage into the tiring rooms of death and destruction.


Verse 18

Jesus Christ being their King, they shall reign with him, Revelation 1:6 20:4, and possess the kingdom for ever, Matthew 19:28 1 Corinthians 1:9 6:3 1 Peter 2:9 Revelation 5:10. This shall be for ever, because Christ’s kingdom is the last kingdom, never any shall succeed after that.


Verse 19

I would feign know it more perfectly and exactly, because the Jewish nation and church were to be scattered long by and under the fourth beast.


Verse 20

And of the ten horns; what they meant.

Whose look was more stout than his fellows, i.e. he had more power and more fierceness. This is wont to be interpreted of Antiochus, and the persecuting emperors, because it agrees well to them.


Verse 22

This shows plainly the horn is antichrist of Rome, or the whore that rides the beast, and this is more apparent in the interpretation of the

fourth beast and the ten kings.


Verse 24

Ten kings; which Junius, Piscator, Polanus make to be the kings of Syria, and reckon ten of them, and that is not all neither; the tenth is Antiochus, but this cannot be, for he died one hundred and sixty years before Christ.

Others interpret the other

that riseth after the ten, and that shall subdue three, to be Mahomet; but Maldonate himself saith it agrees better to antichrist, and the 25th verse too, where he speaks of

changing times and laws, which

God hath set; none of which things he could do, but that God gives him commission for it, till God’s set time be fulfilled, which is three years and a half, i.e. one thousand two hundred and sixty years; or forty-two months, which is all the time of the witnesses prophesying in sackcloth, of the church’s being in the wilderness, and of antichrist’s reign, Revelation 11:3 12:6 13:5,6, &c.: mind these places and compare this of Daniel with them, and Daniel 7:26,27, how he shall be judged and executed. The sixth and seventh vials will decide, and illustrate all this.


Verse 25

The numbers of Daniel and John seem to agree. Daniel was certainly prophetical in these things, and his prophecy reacheth to the end of times, even of antichrist’s reign. I will not deny but Antiochus might be a type and forerunner of antichrist, and did many things against the Jewish church, with craft, cruelty, and blasphemy; but he was no part of the fourth, but of the third beast; whereas Daniel here points mainly at the Roman power and persecution, especially by

the little horn, which lasted to his ruin; after which it is clear the Lord Christ will reign in and over his saints much more gloriously; which the Jews will never be beaten from, because there are so many signal places in the prophets speaking of it yet unfulfilled, and in the Apocalypse, to the wise reader, after the beast and whore are destroyed, with all their supporters. But enough of that at present.


Verse 28

The end of the matter, i.e. of the vision, and the angel’s interpretation.

My countenance changed in me:

1. Because it became him so to be, as a holy wise man ought to be in that case.

2. By this impression made upon him, God would have it laid up in his heart to be drawn out occasionally, and delivered to his people, and that all these wonderful discoveries from God might engage him more earnestly in prayer for the church of God, as he doth, Da 9.

 


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Bibliography Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Daniel 7:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/daniel-7.html. 1685.

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