Chapter 7 is a major switch for several reasons therefore we will also switch from a verse-by-verse article discussion to an analysis of the recorded historical events that follow in the remaining chapters of Daniel.
- It is the last chapter in Daniel that was originally written in Aramaic (yup…not Greek or Hebrew)
- This is the beginning of Daniel having the visions instead of those in charge of Babylon where he is asked to interpret.
- We switch to a narration and prophecies designated to the world of believer but specifically to the Hebrew people; i.e. Israelis and Jerusalem.
- We are getting very close to the end of Judeans’ 70 year captivity in Babylon.
Introductory Note: Daniel describes four beasts coming up from the sea. What did Daniel’s vision represent, and what does it mean for us today? No, this is not a sequential chapter according to history playing out, but this is the order in which the Book of Daniel is recorded. How do we know this? Regent king Belshazzar (555B.C.?) was discussed and ended back in chapter 5. This dream or vision of Daniel came to him during the first year Belshazzar’s reign. Why isn’t it recorded back in chapter 5? Daniel 7:28 tells us that at this time Daniel “kept this matter (vision) to himself” (Daniel 7:28).
This vision of Daniel “while he lay in his bed (ESV) appears to parallel chapter 2 when King Nebuchadnezzar had his statue dream made of gold, silver, bronze, Iron legs and feet toes of Iron and clay mix. Daniel saw in chapter 7:3 “four great beasts that came out of the *sea.”
*SEA: This word has been translated differently by commentators. Two transliterations are thal’-as-sahandyawm. Without going into a deep theological discussion, the word sea can refer to a body of water OR a body of people; i.e a sea of people.
Dan 7:4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till its wings were plucked; and it was lifted up from the earth, and made to stand upon two feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.
Dan 7:5 And behold, another beast, a second, like unto a bear, and it raised up itself on one side; and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and they said thus unto it: Arise, devour much flesh.
Dan 7:6 After this I saw, and behold, another, like a leopard, and it had four wings of a bird upon its back; and the beast had four heads; and dominion was given to it.
Dan 7:7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and exceeding strong; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the rest with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.
Dan 7:8 I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another, a little horn, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots; and behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.
Take note that the 4th beast (7:7) is not given an identity, only a description.
The lion in verse 4 represents a description of an historical event which had already been prophesied in Daniel’s earlier life in Babylon. This verse (7:4) is a brief referring to King Nebuchadnezzar. He was a mighty and unchallenged KING OF BABYLON and his conquered lands. He lifted himself up above all his court and subjected peoples. Then his “wings were plucked off.” This explains when he was reduced by God to a common beast. As we studied in chapter 4, and in Nebuchadnezzar’s own Chaldean words, he became like a beast of the wild (insane). Time pasts before Nebuchadnezzar regains his sanity, stood up like a man, is restored to his throne and accepts the God of Daniel as the only true God.
Daniel 7:5 says, “And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!’” This event will parallel text from the next chapter of Daniel but not today. Some commentaries suggest the three ribs are conquered lands; the Lydian Empire of Asia Minor, the Chaldean Empire being Babylon itself, and Egypt (525 B.C.). This author respectfully disagrees. The bear (Persia) being turned on its side (7:5) had turned on its Mede ally after the Babylonian conquest thus uniting the two Empires into one kingdom.
Since Daniel mentions THREE RIBS in the mouth of the bear and before the bear is instructed to “rise up and devour much,” the three conquered territories or empires had already been conquered; three ribs in his mouth. At this time, Egypt had not been conquered by Persia and it didn’t happen until the rule of Darius I also known as Darius the Great.
To keep historical/biblical records straight, the Persians tried unsuccessfully to conquer Greece around 490 B.C.; i.e. parts of Macedonia. They failed. This was also an event that Alexander the Great, son of King Philip of Macedonia, was taught not only by his father but by his tutor Aristotle. Alexander had it in mind to “pay back” the aggression of the Persians; i.e. Darius I doing so in 331 B.C. Alexander is represented in Daniel’s vision as a Leopard; quick and agile. The four wings and heads of this Leopard represent the four empires that evolved out of Alexander’s empire; i.e. (1) Greece and Macedon, (2) Thrace and Asia Minor, (3) Middle East-Asia and (4) Egypt-Palestine.
From this we get the two dominant kingdoms back then and in prophecy representing the King of the North and the King of the South; Ptolemy’s of Egyptian fame and the Seleucids of Assyrian/Syrian fame. We would roughly identify Seleucus’ kingdom as modern day Iraq, Persia, and Afghanistan. The Ptolemy’s and Seleucids battled each other over and over. We have discussed this in other articles written for ahabiblemoments.com so will only touch upon it at this time due to space limitations.
JIV NOTE: For the aha wonderers and New Testament buffs, the capital of the Seleucid empire was the Antiochus of New Testament Apostle Paul fame.
The 4th beast of unknown name or identity is a two-fold prophecy. First it is the Romans. They swept through all of the territories of Alexander’s divided empire.
Second, it represents a picture of the yet to come antichrist of End Time and the battles between him (Norther Kingdom Europe?) and the Southern Kingdom (Arabs and Muslims). A simple consideration is that the antichrist will demand he be worshipped and Muslims will not easily, if at all bow to a non-Muslim “king.” The antichrist is represented by the “little horn” that sprouts up amongst the ten original horns of the unidentified 4th beast.
THE ANCIENT OF DAYS (Daniel
“While these events are culminating on the earth others are transpiring in heaven. A great judgment scene is before us (compare Psalms 2; Matthew 25:31-46, and Revelation 19:19-21). “The Ancient of Days” is identified by some as the first and by others as the second person of the Godhead (Revelation 1:12-14; John 5:22). The slaying of the “beast” (Daniel 7:11) means the destruction of the world-powers are represented in their final form of the revived Roman Empire”…but there is no peace on earth. I believe the northern nations and ¼ of the earth’s land mass dominated by the king of the south are still at battle with each other.
In verses 21-22 and 25, this little horn makes war against the saints, speaks pompous words against God, intends to change times and law, and persecutes the saints for a “time and times and half a time” (literally three and a half years, but using the day-for-a-year principle of Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6, 1,260 years); https://lifehopeandtruth.com/prophecy