Daniel 8 – a verse-by-verse commentary (introduction)

Daniel chapter 8 is an eye-opening look into a prophetic future when the chapter was written AND still so today. The fulfillment of Daniel 8 prophecies is 2,500 years closer today in the 21st century. Watch and read the news of today, compare what is happening, and take an honest look at what you will be reading over the next few weeks on this website. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you knowledge, understanding, wisdom, and discernment [James 1:5].

Daniel 8 Background:

According to the highly respected Halley’s Bible Handbook, Babylon of old exceeded the beauty (Hanging Gardens; one of the 7 wonders of the world) and military strengths of any other known City-State. This chapter contains additional prophecies not mentioned in chapters 2 and 7. These two chapters were written in Chaldee, not Hebrew. Chapters 2 and 7 initially discuss the empires of the Persians, then the Greeks. Both had yet to occur; the Babylonian Empire came first. Chapters 8–12 focus on the world’s relationship with the Jews.

The Greek Empire would be the four-headed Leopard according to Daniel 7:5 in our Daniel commentary from three weeks ago. Here a divided Greek Empire is represented as a He-Goat. In chapter and verse 7:5 of Daniel, this He-Goat had but one strong horn. Now it has 4 horns. What happened? Back in chapter 7, it was Alexander the Great at the head of his army. He died in 323 B.C. at the age of 32. He had several Generals in his forces but four were dominant. They are represented by the Goat losing one powerful horn, and the speed of a Leopard, becoming four individual horns (kings), but still Greek.

Alexander’s initial motivation to bring together a powerful army and march eastward was to settle an old grudge against the Persians. Between 499 and 480 B.C. the Persians (Xerxes I; possibly aka, Ahasuerus) planned and waged war with the Greek city-states.

JIV ahamoment … This Persian war would have begun within 40 years of Daniel’s death (536 B.C.). Alexander’s revenge was about 200 years later.

Double ahamoment …This war would have been in part, during the time of the Book of Esther.

Alexander the Great was tutored as a youth by Aristotle. Aristotle taught him about the unprovoked Persian invasion of Greek city-states. So did his father Philip constantly remind him about this egregious attack by the Persians. He, as did his father King Philip of Macedonia, vowed to “get even” and did so 150 years later in 333/332/331 B.C.

Alexander was the prophesied Leopard with the single and powerful horn. [see Revelation 13 and Daniel 7]

Now Daniel 8 verse-by-verse:

Daniel 8:1 In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me—to me, Daniel—after the one that appeared to me the first time.

Note: Belshazzar was on the throne of Babylon, but his father Nabonidus was the king in self-imposed exile. A fatal error made by King Nabonidus of Babylon was his self-imposed exile. The error? He took the Babylonian army with him. Only a small military guard was garrisoned in Babylon. His assigned co-regent King Belshazzar had little to protect him other than the formidable walls of Babylon.

Because of religious differences between King Nabonidus and the Babylonian priests, Nabonidus left his son, Belshazzar, as King/governor of Babylon. Nabonidus worshiped the moon god “Sin”. The powerful lobby of Babylonian priests adamantly preferred the idol god Marduk.

Daniel 8:2 I saw in the vision, and it so happened while I was looking, that I was in Shushan, the citadel, which is in the province of *Elam; and I saw in the vision that I was by the river Ulai.

*Recall that Elam (Elamite Empire) was named after a son of Shem. At this time in Daniel, it was a province of Babylon. Daniel was buried in Susa, the original capital of Elam. Its other name was Shushan…one and the same city. It appears that Daniel was in Susa/Shushan on royal business. There is probably a reason Daniel was buried there instead of in Babylon where he lived for 80 years.

Daniel 8:3 Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and there, standing beside the river, was a ram which had two horns, and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last.

Horns on animals represent power. Babylon was later (prophetically) conquered by the Medes and Persians. The Medes were the original but smaller horn on the ram. The Persians overcame the Medes and lasted longer thus the longer horn. What few realize is that when the Medes and Persians became one empire, it was Cyrus the Great who took the Medes under his control. Here is an amazing verse to consider and make connections in one’s mind. [Isaiah 11:11] “…a second time?’ Yes, Isaiah is prophesying about God’s chosen people, Israel. Isaiah 11:11 is telling us in the end time when Jesus calls his chosen back to Jerusalem from the four corners of the earth. There is a large number of Israelites scattered throughout what we know as Iran. But they have lost their commitment to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or, they have lost their identity as descendants of Abraham.

Ahamoment: Click here and read Jeremiah 49:38.

Rev. Dr. Jstark