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Daniel Chapter 8 Lesson

The King James Version (KJV) is mostly used in these lessons. Click here to access the KJV online.
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We have restored in the Scriptures quoted the Names of the Father and Son, as they were originally written by the inspired authors of the Bible.  Click here to download the Restored Names Version (RNV) of Scripture.  The RNV is a non-WLC resource.  -WLC Team

(Dan 8:1) 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.

Chronologically speaking, this vision takes place after that reported in chapter 7, and both of them take place during the reign of Belshazzar, thus placing the chapter in time before Daniel 5.

(Dan 8:2) 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.

Shushan in the province of Elam may seem enigmatic. According to Isaiah 21:2, the province was allied to the Medes. But Jeremiah 49:39 shows that it had been taken over by Babylon, and it was linked to Babylon when this vision took place. Apparently Daniel was there on the king’s business.

(Dan 8:3) 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.

(Dan 8:4) 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.

The ram is identified in verse 20 as the kingdoms of Media and Persia, thus associating it with the second beast of Daniel 7. By this time Babylon was so close to the end of its power that it is no longer mentioned in revelation. The two horns aptly represent the association of Media and Persia as one empire.

(Dan 8:5) 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.

(Dan 8:6) 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.

(Dan 8:7) 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.

The rough goat is identified in verse 21 as Grecia. It thus corresponds to the four-headed leopard of chapter seven. The notable horn here is an apt representation of Alexander the great, and the prediction describes his conquest accurately.

(Dan 8:8) 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.

At the death of Alexander, his brother Philip Aridaeus was declared king. Along with Alexanders infant sons, Alexander Aegus and Hercules, the empire continued for a time, but at length the boys were murdered. At that time, the four principle generals, who had dispersed into the four quarters of the empire to serve as governers, each assumed the title of king. These were Cassander in Greece and its surroundings, Lysimachus in Asia Minor, Seleucus in Syria and Babylon, and Ptolemy in Egypt.

(Dan 8:9) 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.

(Dan 8:10) 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.

(Dan 8:11) 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.

(Dan 8:12) 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.

The greatest problem of interpreting Daniel lies in identifying the little horn. All other powers are identified by name: Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece. History shows that Rome is the great empire that came after Greece, and it would be natural to assume that the little horn of Daniel 8 corresponds to the legs of iron in Daniel 2 and the terrible beast in Daniel 7. The structural argument, that Rome fits the slot, may, on the surface seem obvious, but upon close examination, we find that the details of the little horn in Daniel 8 can fit only Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a minor Seleucid king who desecrated the temple in Jerusalem about 160 years before Yahushua. This was a precursor to the later actions of Rome... which is the the little horn in Daniel 7.

Scripture says the little horn would spring up when the divisions of Alexander‘s empire were in their latter days, and from one of these divisions. Thus we are to look for a power originating from the Greek world sometime after 300 BC and before Rome‘s later supremacy.

Rome became great particularly to the northwest, the east, the pleasant land of Palestine, and the south. But Antiochus came from the north against Egypt, then invaded Armenia and Persia after oppressing Palestine. The sequence of his operations exactly fits the prophecy but Rome does not so fit.

The little horn is not compared with other powers, but merely said to wax ― exceeding great‖ in three directions of the compass; namely the south, the east, and the pleasant land - Israel. Its work against the pleasant land is described in verses 10-14, which were used by later Jewish writers such as the apocryphal writers and by Josephus to describe the work of Antiochus as follows:

Two years later, the king sent to the towns of Judaea a high revenue official, who arrived at Jerusalem with a powerful force. His language was friendly, but full of guile. For, once he had gained the city‘s confidence, he suddenly attacked it. He dealt it a heavy blow, and killed many Israelites, plundering the city and setting it ablaze. He pulled down houses and walls on every side; women and children were made prisoners, and the cattle seized.

On the fifteenth day of the month Kislev in the year 145, the abomination of desolation was set up on the altar.

Shortly afterwards King Antiochus sent an elderly Athenian to force the Jews to abandon their ancestral customs and no longer regulate their lives according to the laws of ….. Yahuwah [G-d]. He was also commissioned to pollute the temple at Jerusalem and dedicate it to Olympian Zeus, and to dedicate the sanctuary on Mount Gerisim to Zeus god of Hospitality, following the practice of the local inhabitants.

One of the objections raised to the little horn of Daniel 8:9 being Antiochus Epiphanes.

Antiochus was simply the eighth of 26 Syrian kings. If the little horn is one of these kings, it should be the greatest, not one of the feeblest. The little horn was “exceeding great” that is greater than Persia, etc.

The text only says he 'waxed' exceeding great. The inference can be taken that he began very small.....

(Dan 8:13) 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?

(Dan 8:14) And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.

Note here that There is no Biblical basis for assuming that the year-day be applied to Dan. 8. Daniel 8:14 originally says nothing about '2,300 days.' The prophecy pertains to '2,300 evenings and mornings' and, in context, is about sanctuary sacrifices. To clarify a bit: The Hebrew says "evenings and mornings." The KJV translators acted irresponsibly here and decided to translate it as "days."

The cleansing of the sanctuary is also recorded by the Jewish historian.

Maccabaeus with his men, led by the Lord, recovered the temple and city of Jerusalem. He demolished the altars erected by the heathen in the public square, and their sacred precincts as well. When they had purified the sanctuary ---------

The New Testament points us to this history by its allusions in Rev. 13 to the yet future activities of Antichrist which will resemble those of Antiochus, and also by the reference to the Feast of Dedication in John 10. This feast was a commemoration of the event of the cleansing of the sanctuary in 165 BC.

The Jewish people have always recognized Dan. 8:10-14 as a prophecy of their greatest crisis between the two destructions of the Temple.

Scriptural time periods are usually round numbers rather than precise, and this applies to the crisis of the second century before Christ.

The approximate period of oppression by Antiochus was 2300 days.

The explanation of verses 1-12 is found in the second half of Daniel 8, as follows.

(Dan 8:15) 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.

(Dan 8:16) And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.

(Dan 8:17) 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.

Daniel fell on his face in prostration out of fear. This is why the angel did not chide him, as the angel did twice in the book of Revelation, when John fell down in prostration of worship.

(Dan 8:18) 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.

The deep sleep is mentioned several times in connection with revelation. This seems to correspond to the concept of a trance in modern language.

(Dan 8:19) 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.

(Dan 8:20) The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.

(Dan 8:21) And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.

(Dan 8:22) Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.

The interpretation in regard to Medo-Persia and Grecia is clear, even to the degree of power of the four kingdoms into which Alexander’s empire split.

(Dan 8:23) 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.

(Dan 8:24) 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.

(Dan 8:25) 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.

Matt. 25:40 & Acts 9:5 explain how he stood up against Yahushua the Prince of princes.

[Dan. 9:24-27 contains many elements which the Jews applied first to their situation under Antiochus, and secondly to the Roman attack on their land.]

Dan. 11 explains the prophecy of Dan. 8 in greater detail, and the little horn is interpreted from verse 21 onwards, Only Antiochus fully fits the specifications of verses 19-35. The Cambridge Ancient History is a good source of this information.

(Dan 8:26) 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.

(Dan 8:27) 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.

Having gone through the rigors of the Babylonian captivity and now being told of future desolation of the temple etc., proved overwhelming, causing Daniel to faint and be sick.

2 important lessons to be learned from Daniel 8 are:

  1. That Bible prophecy is sure and sometimes fulfilled in very minor details.
  2. While this prophecy was initially fulfilled in detail by Antiochus alone, it has broader implication for later manifestations through Antichrist Rome, the Papacy and ultimately the end time Satanic Man of Sin - 2 Thess. 2. "sitteth in the temple of Yahuwah, shewing himself that he is Yahuwah."