Daniel Chapter 8: Daniel's Second Dream
In his visionary experiences Daniel was given a fuller understanding of the conflict in which he was personally involved. It was not limited to his own experience; rather, his experience was but one aspect of a cosmic struggle between the kingdoms of this world and the kingdom God is establishing.
Danielıs second vision reminded him of the first one (1), but this time he saw himself on the banks of the River Ulai in Susa, the capital of Persia. His vision consisted of two central visual images (1-4; 5-12) followed by two spoken revelations (vs 13-14 given by a holy one; vs 15-26, given by Gabriel; cf. 9:21 and Lk. 1:19, 26). Since the visual and the audible parts are correlated, the chapter is best examined in these segments.
8:1 chronology. Determination of what year this refers to shares the same difficulties as mentioned in the comment on 7:1. Belshazzarıs third year is likely either 550 or 547. In the vision of chapter seven, only one empire (Babylon) was identified by name. Now, two years later, two more empires are named.
The time and circumstances of Daniel's death have not been recorded. However, Daniel was still alive in the third year of Cyrus according to the Bible (Daniel 10:1); and he would have been almost 100 years old at that point, having been brought to Babylon when he was in his teens, more than 80 years previously. He possibly died at Susa, where a tomb presumed to be his is also located, the site of which is known as Shush-Daniel. Other locations have been claimed as the site of his burial, including Daniel's Tomb in Kirkuk, Iraq, as well as Babylon, Egypt, and, notably, Samarkand, which claims a tomb of Daniel (see "The Ruins of Afrasiab" in the Samarkand article), with some traditions suggesting that his remains were removed, perhaps by Tamerlane, from Susa to Samarkand (see, for instance, Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela, section 153).
8:2. geography. The Ulai Canal is in the vicinity of Susa, the capital of the territory of Elam, some two hundred miles from Babylon. The city will later become the royal residence of the Achaemenid kings of Persia, so it is a suitable locale for the vision. The canal is an artificial one on the north side of the city that was closely associated with Susa both in cuneiform and classical sources. Daniel could have actually made the journey, but it is more likely that he is transported in a vision as Ezekiel sometimes experiences.
Susa is a city in the Khuzestan province of Iran. It had an estimated population of 64,960 in 2005. transliterated as Seleukeia or Seleukheia; Latin Seleucia ad Eulaeum; modern Shush.
As well as being an archaeological site, Susa is also a lively village due to the devotion of Shi'a Muslims and the Persian Jewish community for the prophet Daniel.
Daniel is not mentioned in the Koran, but was included among the Islamic prophets by Ibn Kathir, a 14th century Shiıa scholar.
Susa is one of the oldest-known settlements of the region, probably founded about 4,000 BC, though the first traces of an inhabited village date back to 7000 BC.
Susa is mentioned in the Ketuvim of the Hebrew Bible, mainly in Esther but also once each in Nehemiah and Daniel. Both Daniel and Nehemiah lived in Susa during the Babylonian captivity of Judah of the 6th century BCE. Esther became queen there, and saved the Jews from genocide. A tomb presumed to be that of Daniel is located in the area, known as Shush-Daniel. The tomb is marked by an unusual white, stone cone, which is neither regular nor symmetric.
A tablet unearthed in 1854 by Henry Austin Layard in Nineveh reveals Ashurbanipal as an "avenger", seeking retribution for the humiliations the Elamites had inflicted on the Mesopotamians over the centuries:
"Susa, the great holy city, abode of their Gods, seat of their mysteries, I conquered. I entered its palaces, I opened their treasuries where silver and gold, goods and wealth were amassed...I destroyed the ziggurat of Susa. I smashed its shining copper horns. I reduced the temples of Elam to naught; their gods and goddesses I scattered to the winds. The tombs of their ancient and recent kings I devastated, I exposed to the sun, and I carried away their bones toward the land of Ashur. I devastated the provinces of Elam and on their lands I sowed salt."
The city was taken by the Achaemenid Persians under Cyrus the Great in 538 BCE. Under Cyrus' son Cambyses II, the capital of the empire moved from Pasargadae to Susa.
The city lost some of its importance when Alexander of Macedon conquered it in 331 BCE and destroyed the first Persian Empire, but after Alexander's vast empire collapsed upon his death, Susa became one of the two capitals (along with Ctesiphon) of Parthia. Susa fell to the Seleucid Empire during which it was renamed Seleukeia. Susa became a frequent place of refuge for Parthian and later, the Persian Sassanid kings, as the Romans sacked Ctesiphon five different times between 116 and 297 CE. Typically, the Parthian rulers wintered in Susa, and spent the summer in Ctesiphon.
The Roman emperor Trajan captured Susa in 116 CE, but soon was forced to withdraw, due to revolts in his rear areas. This advance marked the greatest eastern penetration by the Romans.
Susa was destroyed at least three times in its history. In 647 BC, the Assyrian king Assurbanipal leveled the city during the course of a war in which the people of Susa apparently participated on the other side. The second destruction of Susa took place in 638 AD, when the Muslim armies first conquered Persia. Finally, in  AD, the city was completely destroyed by invading Turkic Mongols. The ancient city was gradually abandoned in the years that followed.
8:1-4, 15-20 The twohorned ram
The twohorned ram in the first vision (3) represents the kings of the Medes and Persians (20), the longer horn doubtless representing Persia. Daniel saw it butting its way forward, expanding its territory in every direction. In fact the Persian Empire spread west to Babylonia, Syria and Asia Minor, north to Armenia and the Caspian Sea, and south into Africa. Danielıs knowledge of this (in the third year of Belshazzarıs reign) is consistent with the boldness of his later address to the king in the year of his downfall (cf. 5:18-31). He had already seen the writing on the wallı for the Babylonian Empire. As a man of faith he was learning progressively that this was simply a pointer to the greater realitythat the writing is already on the wall for all empires except that of the Most High (cf. 2:44).
8:3. ram as astral sign of Persia. In later literature (first several centuries A.D.), the signs of the zodiac are associated with countries, and the ram is associated with Persia. There is no evidence, however, that such an association was made as early as the book of Daniel. The concept of the zodiac has its origin in the intertestamental period.
8:5-8, 21-22 The onehorned goat
As Daniel pondered the meaning of this first image, prior to receiving the interpretation of it, he caught sight of a goat with a prominent horn (5). Three things characterized it: its extraordinary speed; its apparently omnipotent ferocity in overwhelming the ram (6-7); and the dramatic breaking of its large horn and the emergence of four horns in its place (8), from one of which emerged a further horn (9).
The goat represents the Greek Empire (21). The imagery of the large horn was perfectly fulfilled in Alexander the Great who became a world conqueror between the ages of twentyone and twentysix, overwhelming the Persian [p. 757] forces in a series of decisive battles between 334 and 331 BC. He was, however, to die, a tragic figure, at the age of thirtythree (cf. v 8) and his empire was fragmented into four regions represented by the four horns (22). From one of these grows another horn (9) which is to form the climax of the entire vision.
The ³male goat that came from the west² moving so swiftly that it moved across the whole surface of the earth ³without touching the ground² is Alexanderıs wins at the battle of Granicus and the subsequent battle at Issus. Alexander was leading the Macedonians (³Greeks²) against Persia. In three major battles over a span of three years, he utterly defeated the Persians, trampling them underfoot and scattering them before him:
1. Battle of the Granicus River in May 334 BC was the first of three major battles fought between Alexander the Great and the Persian Empire. Fought in Northwestern Asia Minor, near the site of Troy, it was here where Alexander defeated the forces of the Persian satraps of Asia Minor, including a large force of Greek mercenaries.
* Macedonians and their Greek Allies, led by Alexander. With about 5,000 cavalry and 30,000 infantry.
* Persians under a "committee" of satraps with some 10,000 Persian infantry (peltasts), 8,000 Greek mercenaries and 15,000 Persian cavalry.
The numbers involved vary according to different accounts, with the Macedonians numbering anywhere between 30,000 to 35,000 and the Persians numbering between 25,000 and 32,000.
The battle took place on the road from Abydos to Dascylium (near modern day Ergili, Turkey), at the crossing of the Granicus River (modern day Biga Cay).
2. The Battle of Issus (or more commonly The Battle at Issus) occurred in southern Anatolia, on November 333 BC. The invading troops led by the young Alexander of Macedonia, outnumbered roughly 3:1, defeated the army personally led by Darius III of Persia in the second great battle for primacy in Asia. After Alexander's forces successfully forced a crossing of the Hellespont (the Dardanelles) and defeated a favored Persian general in a prior encounter, the Battle of the Granicus, Darius took personal charge of his army, gathered a large army from the depths of the empire, and maneuvered to and cut the Greek line of supply, requiring Alexander to countermarch his forces, setting the stage for the battle near the mouth of the Pinarus River and south of the village of Issus.
* Macedonians and their other Greek allies, led by Alexander. With about 5,000 cavalry, 26,000 infantry.
* Persians under Darius III with some 10,000 Greek mercenaries, 10,000 Persian Immortals, 110,000 Persian infantry and 12,000 Persian cavalry.
The battle took place south of the ancient town Issus, which is close to present-day Iskenderun(a Turkish equivalent of "Alexandria"), Turkey, on either side of a small river called Pinarus. At that location the distance from the gulf of Issus to the surrounding mountains is only 2.6 km, a place where Darius could not take advantage of his superiority in numbers.
3. Battle of Gaugamela in 331 BC Alexander the Great of Macedonia defeated Darius III of Persia. The battle is also inaccurately called the Battle of Arbela
Alexander commanded a force from his kingdom of Macedon, Thracian allies and the Corinthian League that, according to Arrian, the most reliable historian of Alexander, who is believed to be relying on the work of the eye-witness Ptolemy numbered 7,000 cavalry and 40,000 infantry.
Darius's force numbered according to Arrian 40,000 cavalry and 1,000,000 infantry, Diodorus Siculus 200,000 cavalry and 800,000 infantry, Plutarch 1,000,000 troops (without a breakdown in composition), while according to Curtius Rufus 45,000 cavalry and 200,000 infantry. Furthermore according to Arrian, Diodorus and Curtius Darius had 200 chariots while Arrian mentions 15 war elephants. Included in Darius's infantry were about 20,000 Greek mercenary hoplites.
Darius chose (or smoothed out, depending on accounts) a flat plain where he could deploy his numerically superior forces. The location of the battle, i.e., that of Gaugamela, cannot be established definitively. Supposedly, the battle was held near a hill in the form of a camel's hump, hence the name etymology: Tel Gomel or Tel Gahmal, which translates as "Mount Camel" in Hebrew. Others translate the name as "camel's stall" (Plutarch: "camel's house", in his Life of Alexander), and associate the place with a settlement. The most commonly accepted opinion about the location is (36.36° N 43.25° E), east of Mosul in northern modern-day Iraq suggested by Sir Aurel Stein in 1938 (see his Limes Report, pp. 127-1).
After the battle, Parmenion rounded up the Persian baggage train while Alexander and his own bodyguard chased after Darius in hopes of catching up. As at Issus, substantial amounts of loot were gained following the battle, with 4,000 talents captured, as well as the King's personal chariot and bow. The war elephants were also captured.
Darius had managed to escape the battle with a small core of his forces remaining intact. The Bactrian cavalry and Bessus managed to catch up with him, as did some of the survivors of the Royal Guard and 2,000 Greek mercenaries.
At this point, the Persian Empire was divided into two halves East and West. Alexander would go on to proclaim himself Great King. On his escape, Darius gave a speech to what remained of his army. He planned to head further East, and raise another army to face Alexander while he and the Macedonians headed to Babylon. At the same time he dispatched letters to his Eastern satrapies asking them to remain loyal.
8:9-14, 23-27 The small horn that grew
The descendant of one of the horns is now pictured engaging in a vigorous policy of expansion which reaches to Palestine (the Beautiful land, 9; cf. Dt. 8:7-9; Je. 3:19). In selfexultation (cf. Is. 8:12-15) this figure will deify himself and blasphemously forbid biblical worship (11-12). Daniel saw this continuing for 2,300 evenings and mornings (14), probably to be understood as days (cf. Gn. 1:5, 8, 13 etc.). The fact that this information was relayed to Daniel by the holy ones (13) is an indication that, despite the horror of the events, they are known to God and mysteriously within his purposes (cf. 1:2). So, too, is the little horn whose rise is not by his own power (24) and whose fall is not by human power (25).
Syria, one of the four divisions into which Alexander the Greatıs empire fragmented, was governed by Seleucus Nicator, head of the Seleucid dynasty from which Antiochus IV emerged in 175 BC. He took the title Theos Antiochus Epiphanes (Antiochus, the Illustrious God). Others referred to him as Epimanes (the madmanı). In his expansionist policy he overran Palestine (the Beautiful Land; 9) and sacked Jerusalem amid terrible bloodshed. He abolished the daily morning and evening sacrificial offerings (11; cf. Ex. 29:38-43) and committed the blasphemy of sacrificing a pig on the altar of burnt offering, later placing a statue of Zeus in the temple and making human sacrifices on the altar. He forbade circumcision and profaned the Sabbath (cf. vs 11-12).
The emphasis on Daniel understanding this vision is noteworthy (5a, 15-16). This illumination is not only a matter of foreknowledge of the events of history but also of insight into the nature and working of evil in its destruction of life, its opposition to godliness (24; with a focus on destroying the worship of the people of God, 11; cf. Acts 20:29-31), its falsehood and its pride (25). In the light of this Daniel learns vital lessons: that noone should allow themselves to be lulled into a false sense of security (25, feel secure; cf. 1 Cor. 10:12; Gal. 6:1), and that God will ultimately destroy all opposition to himself (25; cf. Pss. 2:8-12; 46:8-10; Rev. 11:15-18).
The focus on the little horn, to which the roles of the greater empires of the ram and the goat are secondary, is a reminder of the distinct biblical perspective, which sees not the great empires but Godıs covenant people as the key to history. The ultimate significance of empires and their rulers is determined by their treatment of the people of God (9-12; cf. Mt. 25:31-46).
Two phrases point toward the fulfilment of Danielıs vision: these events will take place later in the time of wrath... the appointed time of the end (19) and in the distant future (26). The endı in view here is best taken as the last part of the period of history under review (i.e. not the end of the ages).
As in 7:28, Danielıs reaction is instructive. The seriousness of the conflict in which Godıs people are to be involved overwhelmed and appalled him, but it did not paralyse him. Even in an ungodly environment he fulfilled his daily responsibilities (27; cf. 2 Pet. 3:11).
8:9. small horn. This appears to be a reference to the Seleucid king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, whose activities in the second century will be detailed in the next several entries.
8:9. Beautiful Land. From 11:16, 41, it is clear that this is a reference to the land of Israel. Antiochus III marched east against Parthia, Armenia and Bactria from 212 to 205, and in 200 gained control of Palestine at the Battle of Panium. Both he and his son, Antiochus IV, were frustrated in their attempts to gain control of Egypt (to the south). Antiochus IV also had campaigns to the east (against Armenia and Elam) and was well known for his actions against Judah and Jerusalem (see comments on below and on 11:2139).
8:10. starry host overthrown. The host of heaven in the ancient Near East referred to the assembly of the gods, many of whom were represented by celestial bodies (whether planets or stars). The Bible sometimes uses the phrase to refer to the illegitimate worship of these deities (see comment on Deut 4:19). On other occasions, the phrase is used for Yahwehıs angelic council (see comment on 2 Chron 18:18). A third type of usage treats the term as a reference to rebel angels (perhaps in Is 24:21; commonly in the intertestamental literature). Finally, it can refer simply to the stars with no personalities behind them (Is 40:26). In the destruction described in Erra and Ishum, Erra says that he will make planets shed their splendor and will wrench stars from the sky. Here the starry host represents one side in the cosmic battle and falls temporarily victim to the evil horn, thus suggesting they are some of Godıs minions.
8:11. daily sacrifice. The daily sacrifice was a burnt offering occurring every morning and evening (see comments on Ex 29:38 and Num 28:18). It represented the most basic maintenance of the sanctuary and was foundational for preserving the presence of Yahweh in their midst.
8:14. 2,300 evenings and mornings until reconsecration. If 2,300 sacrifices will be missed, and two are offered each day, 1,150 days will pass (roughly three years and two months). Antiochus IV Epiphanes instituted sacrifices to his gods in the temple on the twenty-fifth of Kislev (December) in the year 167 B.C., but he had put a stop to the Jewish rituals some time earlier that year (reported in 1 Macc 1:4451), and the exact date of the proclamation and its enforcement is not known. The rededication of the temple in the aftermath of the Maccabean revolt took place three years to the day after the desecration on the twenty-fifth of Kislev, 164.
8:16. Gabriel. This is the first reference to the name of an angel in the Bible. The only other angel named in the Bible is Michael (see 10:13). In intertestamental literature (1 Enoch) Gabriel is in charge of Paradise. In the War Scroll from Qumran he is one of the archangels who surround the throne of God. He is the one who brings the message to Mary of the impending birth of Jesus (Luke 1:19). Angels not only delivered messages from deity, but they explained those messages and answered questions concerning them. Thus Gabriel is seen here as one who can interpret the vision. In the ancient worldıs polytheistic context, the messengers of the gods were generally gods themselves (of lower rank). In Mesopotamia we find individuals such as Nuska and Kakka, while Hermes serves the function in Greek mythology. In a dream of Nabonidus a young man appears to offer an interpretation of a celestial omen that has been observed.
8:22. the kingdoms. The king represented by the large horn is undisputed: Alexander the Great, whose Greek army swept away the Persian Empire between 335 and 331 B.C. When Alexander died suddenly in 323 at the age of 33, the two who could claim ancestral rights to the kingdom (his illegitimate half-brother, Philip Arrideus, and the son of Alexander and Roxane, Alexander IV, born two months after his fatherıs death) were installed as figureheads while the operation of the kingdom was entrusted to three experienced officers, Antipater (viceroy of Macedon), Perdiccas (head of the armies) and Craterus (in charge of the treasury and advisor to Arrideus). By 321 these three regents had sufficiently antagonized one another that a battle was instigated by a fourth player, Ptolemy, who had been given a position of authority in Egypt. Craterus was killed in battle, and Perdiccas was assassinated in a mutiny by several of his generals, one of whom was Seleucus. Meanwhile Antipater took the lead and placed a friend, Antigonus, in Perdiccasıs position. In 319 Antipater died an old man, and despite his appointment of another, within two years his son, Cassander, had gained control of Macedonia and most of the territory of Greece. In the summer of 317, those opposing Cassander executed Philip Arrideus. Alexander IV and his mother Roxane were placed under house arrest and effectively deposed, though they were not executed until 310. The three who ruled were now Cassander in the west, Ptolemy in Egypt and Antigonus in the east. As Antigonus sought to solidify his control of the east, he attempted to dominate Seleucus (now governor of Babylon), who in 315 exposed Antigonusıs schemes for power to the other leaders, Ptolemy, Cassander and Lysimachus (governor of Thrace). Battles continued to be fought until 311 when Antigonus parleyed for peace with Ptolemy, Cassander and Lysimachus, leaving Seleucus isolated but in control of Babylonia. By 309 Ptolemy decided to move against Antigonus but pushed too far and ended up in 306 under the attack of Antigonus and his son, Demetrius. Antigonusıs invasion of Egypt failed, and in 305 Ptolemy, along with Cassander, Seleucus and Lysimachus (most likely to be identified as the four horns), declared themselves the successor kings to Alexander. Yet it was still four more years until Antigonus was killed in the Battle of Ipsus, 301. Cassander died only three years later (298), and Demetrius continued to cause trouble, but the division of the empire into four parts represents the fallout of this twenty-year succession struggle.
8:25. stern-faced king. The description in verse 2325 pertains to Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who reigned from 175 to 164 B.C. His wisdom was corrupted for use in hypocrisy, intrigue, double-crossing and treachery.
Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175164). Antiochus IV, the brother of Seleucus, had been in Rome as a political hostage and was just returning (he had got as far as Athens) when the assassination of his brother took place. His goals included converting Jerusalem into a center for Greek culture and helping the Jews to make the transition to becoming Greek citizens with Greek ways. The intrigues that he became involved in were many, but certainly the main one concerning Jerusalem was how he handled the high priesthood (see next entry). The text calls him contemptible, and indeed he was. His title ³Epiphanes² means ³god manifest²but the people preferred ³Epimanes²³madman.² While he was certainly a member of the royal line, the throne should have gone to Seleucusıs son, Demetrius (who instead was taking Antiochusıs place as hostage in Rome). Another intrigue concerned the throne. He set up a coregency with his nephew (a minor), who a few years later was murdered.
Antiochus IV Theos Epiphanes ("The God Manifest") (c. 215163 BC) ruled the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire from 175 until his death.
He was a son of Antiochus III the Great and brother of Seleucus IV Philopator. He was originally named Mithradates, but renamed Antiochus, either upon his ascension, or after the death of his elder brother Antiochus. Notable events during his reign include the near-conquest of Egypt, which was halted by the threat of Roman intervention, and the beginning of the Jewish revolt of the Maccabees.
Rise to power
Antiochus took power after the death of Seleucus Philopator. He had been hostage in Rome following the peace of Apamea in 188 BC, but had recently been exchanged for the son and rightful heir of Seleucus IV, the later Demetrius I Soter. Antiochus took advantage of this situation, and proclaimed himself co-regent with another of Seleucus' sons, the infant Antiochus, whose murder he orchestrated a few years later.
First invasion of Egypt
Because the guardians of Ptolemy VI of Egypt were preparing an invasion of Coele-Syria, Antiochus, in 170 BC, decided on a strike against Egypt, and invaded, conquering all but Alexandria. He then captured his nephew Ptolemy, and agreed to let him continue as King, but as his puppet. (This had the advantage of not alarming Rome.) The court at Alexandria thereupon chose Ptolemy's brother Ptolemy Euergetes as King, who had perhaps already instituted a joint rule in 169. In Antiochus' absence, the two brothers agreed to rule jointly.
Hence, in 168 BC, Antiochus again invaded, and overran all Egypt, except for Alexandria, while his fleet captured Cyprus. Near Alexandria he was met by Gaius Popillius Laenas, who told him that he must immediately withdraw from Egypt and Cyprus. Antiochus said he would discuss it with his council, whereupon the envoy drew round him a line in the sand, and said, "Think about it here." The implication was that, were he to step out of the circle without having first undertaken to withdraw, he would be at war with Rome. Antiochus agreed to withdraw.
Sack of Jerusalem
In a spirit of revenge, he organized an expedition against Jerusalem. He had soldiers enter the Jewish Temple and slaughter a pig (which was considered "unclean" by the Jews) on the Altar of the Lord. They set the pig ablaze and then took the meat and tried to make some Jewish men eat it. The men refused and he cut their tongues out, scalped them, cut off their hands and feet, and burnt them on the Altar of the Lord. After this, the Jews began the war of independence under their Maccabean leaders, defeating the armies that Antiochus sent against them. Enraged at this, Antiochus is said to have marched against them in person, threatening to exterminate the nation; but, on the way, he was suddenly arrested by the hand of death (164 BC). The exact causes of the Jewish revolt, and of Antiochus' response to it, are uncertain; the Jewish accounts are in the Books of the Maccabees, and the successful revolt is commemorated by the holiday of Hanukkah.
His last years were spent on a campaign against the rising Parthian empire, which seems to have been initially successful, but which terminated upon his death.
The reign of Antiochus was a last period of strength for the empire, but in some way it was fatal; since he was an usurper, and left his infant son Antiochus V Eupator as his successor, devastating dynastic wars followed his death.
Christian theological reference
Christian theologians traditionally have pointed to the prophecy in the Book of Daniel as foretelling the coming of Antiochus Epiphanes.1 2, but there is disagreement on the issue.
The Jews he oppressed mockingly referred to him as Antiochus Epimanes ("The Mad One") in a play of his name Epiphanes
8:26. seal up the vision. (seal the words). Already in the eighth century Assyrian texts of an esoteric nature were being preserved. The scribal notations (called colophons) at the ends of such works indicated that they contained secret lore to be shared only with those who were initiates. Scrolls could be sealed either by tying a string around them and sealing the knot with clay, or by placing them in a jar and sealing the cover. The clay or the seal around the lid would be impressed with the ownerıs seal. Mesopotamia used cylinder seals, Egypt used scarab seals, and Syria-Palestine used stamp seals. Tablets would be sealed inside a clay envelope, which would be impressed with the ownerıs seal. The seals were intended to vouchsafe the integrity of the contents. They warned against tampering and, if intact, attested to the authenticity of the document.
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