Christian Churches of God
Commentary on Daniel Chapter 8
(Edition 1.0 20200929-20200929)
This vision covers the prophecy of the changes of the empires.
Commentary on Daniel Chapter 8
(cf. P210A). Daniel was given a vision of the Time of the End that was only explained to him in part. The dating was from the conflict of the Medes and Persians. These were the two horns of the Ram, and one was later than the other and the higher one was the later one. Darius the Mede was the king mentioned in Daniel and he was subordinate to the more powerful Persians. The Greeks defeated them in turn, and the Greeks were similarly replaced by the Roman system. All of this activity is played out under a strict timetable culminating in the Last Days.
Daniel Chapter 8
1In 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. 2And 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. 3Then 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. 4I 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.
Elam is Persia, the nation of the sons of Elam. They are Semitic. They are modern Iran. The Medes are sons of Madai, son of Japheth, and were allies of the Persians and constitute a significant section of the modern-day Kurds. The Kurds, however, also have a significant section of Semitic Haplogroup J2 as do the other surrounding tribes in the northern Levant. Haplogroup J2 is present mostly in Europe, but is found especially in the northern Levant (Kurdistan, Armenia), Anatolia: Muslim Kurds (28.4%), Central Turks (27.9%), Georgians (26.7%), Iraqis (25.2%), Lebanese (25%), Ashkenazi Jews (23.2%) and Sephardi Jews (28.6%) (cf. Wikipedia art. ‘Haplogroup J’).
The Persians had issued a proclamation and assisted the construction of the second Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple was ordered to be completed and was finished in the reign of Darius II, Darius the Persian, in 423 BCE. In the year 334 BCE Alexander, king of the Macedonians, entered Persia and made war on the Medes and Persians ruled by Darius III.
5And 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. 6And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had there seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power. 7And 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. 8Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and from it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.
The story of Alexander is well known. He died in 323 BCE and was succeeded by his four generals who divided the empire among themselves. From that division emerged what later became the Roman Empire.
9And 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. 10And 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.
The Greeks under Alexander occupied and destroyed Tyre but they did not destroy Jerusalem because the prophecy of Daniel was shown to Alexander and he was content to sacrifice there. The Romans occupied Judah and were instrumental in the death of Christ; for Christ is the Prince of the Host. The continual burnt offering was taken away and the Temple destroyed in 70 CE. That prophecy is covered in Daniel chapter 9 and is explained in the paper The Sign of Jonah and the History of the Reconstruction of the Temple (No. 013).
11Yea, 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. 12And 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 horn was to create an empire, and then it was to be cast down and a religious system was to take its place as an image to the system of the empire of iron in Daniel chapter 2.
13Then 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? 14And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.
The restoration to its rightful state is a very interesting comment and concerns Jerusalem. Jerusalem was given over to the Romans and was trodden under foot for centuries. Jerusalem was rightfully the capital of Israel after its conquest by David and his entry ca. 1005 BCE. It became part of Judea as the Holy Mountain of Zion.
Daniel did not understand the vision and asked for it to be explained. The Angel Gabriel was told by the Archangel Michael to explain the vision.
15And 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. 16And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.17So 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.
The vision was thus for the Time of the End, but there was a direct relationship between the activities in the prophecy and the Time of the End.
18Now 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. 19And 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. 20The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. 21And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. 22Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power. 23And 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. 24And 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. 25And 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. 26And 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. 27And 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. (KJV)
The explanation of the vision is this.
We know from the text that it relates to the Medes and the Persians and their successors, the Macedonians and Greeks. Their kingdom under Alexander became great and on his death it was divided into four among his generals.
Alexander died in 323 BCE. He left no heir to the throne. This power vacuum led to intense struggle among his generals for control of the empire. His wife Roxana, princess of Bactria, gave birth to a son shortly after his death. The child was the rightful heir to the throne. However, Cassander, one of the generals, killed both Roxana and her baby.
The struggle for power among the generals continued until 315 BCE, when the parties headed by the top four generals decided to divide the kingdom four ways. Daniel prophesied this division in Daniel 8:21-22. These four generals were known as the Diadochoi, meaning Successors in Greek.
The generals and their areas of rule were:
Ptolemy Lagi ruled over Egypt, Palestine, Arabia, and Peterea. He was assisted by the general Seleucus. General Seleucus had originally been given Babylon, but was forced out by Antigonus.
Antigonus ruled Syria, Babylonia, and central Asia.
Cassander ruled over Macedonia and Greece.
Lysimachus ruled Thrace and Bythinia.
Continuing conflict among the Diadochoi saw Antigonus, the worst of the generals, subjugated by an alliance of the others in 312 BCE. His family fled to Macedonia where they set up a small kingdom. The explanation of the conflicts and the significance of those conflicts from the Battle of the Granicus up to the Battle of Ipsus are explained in the section below where more details are given with their relationship to prophecy concerning the Last Days.
The subsequent divisions were reduced to two based on Egypt under the Ptolemies and Asia under the Seleucids. The Romans later defeated the Seleucids and the empire that grew from that system was Roman. The religious system they created was based on deceit, and truth was cast to the ground. They have destroyed many mighty men and the people of the saints have been killed by them for almost two thousand years. They became magnified in their own minds and declared themselves to be gods both as emperors and as religious leaders or popes.
“Without warning he shall destroy many and shall rise up against the prince of princes.” That tells us that this system will survive until the Last Days and it will destroy many and shall rise against the Messiah as Prince of princes when he comes to save the elect.
Time of the Vision
The vision dates from the Battle of the Granicus in May 334 BCE.
The Persians were under control of Darius III named Codomannus (ca. 380-330 BCE). He was the last king of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia.
Wikipedia notes that the ambitious chiliarch Bagoas murdered King Artaxerxes III of Persia in 338 BCE and then murdered his son Arses in 336 BCE. Bagoas installed Codomannus thinking he would be easy to control. Codomannus was a distant relative of the royal house who had distinguished himself in a combat of champions in a war against the Cadusii and was serving at the time as a royal courier. Codomannus was the son of Arsames son of Ostanes, one of Artaxerxes's brothers and Sisygambis, daughter of Artaxerxes II Memnon.
Bagoas tried to poison Darius when he proved hard to control. Darius was warned and forced Bagoas to drink the poison himself. The Persian Empire had become unstable. Large portions were governed by jealous and unreliable satraps and inhabited by disaffected and rebellious subjects.
In 336 BCE, Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander, was authorised by the League of Corinth as its Hegemon to initiate a sacred war of vengeance against the Persians for desecrating and burning the Athenian temples during the Second Persian War. He sent an advance force into Asia Minor under the command of his generals Parmenion and Attalus to "liberate" the Greeks living under Persian control. They took the Greek cities of Asia from Troy to the Maiandros River. Philip was then assassinated. The campaign was suspended on his assassination while Alexander as his heir consolidated his control of Macedonia and the rest of Greece.
In the spring of 334 BCE Alexander, who was 20 at the time, after being confirmed as Hegemon by the League of Corinth in his father’s place, invaded Asia Minor at the head of a combined Macedonian and Greek army. He immediately confronted the Persian Army with 8000 Greek mercenaries at the Granicus River in May 334 BCE near the site of what was ancient Troy.
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).
The details are listed in the Wikipedia site at
“He crossed the Hellespont from Sestos to Abydos, and advanced up the road to Dascylium, which is the capital of the Satrapy of Phrygia. The various satraps of the Persian Empire united and offered battle on the banks of the Granicus River. A Greek mercenary, Memnon of Rhodes suggested a scorched-earth policy of burning the grain and supplies and retreating in front of Alexander, but his suggestion was rejected” (ibid.).
Accounts of the battle don’t make a lot of sense to soldiers as the Persian army positions are odd and seem to be the result of a previous encounter that may have been covered up by Alexander to disguise a serious error in his generalship. He almost died in this battle. His leadership was in serious question. The Macedonians won a hard-fought battle, fought against a mixed force of Persians and 8000 Greek mercenaries. They suffered remarkably few casualties if the accounts are correct.
The forces are listed by Wikipedia as follows:
Macedonians and their Greek Allies, led by Alexander, with about 5,000 cavalry and 30,000 infantry, against:
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 magnificent training of the Macedonian Phalanx was largely responsible for the victory. They were able to win under indifferent leadership.
Subsequent battles with the Persians
In 333 BCE Darius himself took the field against Alexander. The much larger Persian army was outflanked and defeated at the Battle of Issus and Darius was forced to flee. Alexander captured the baggage including Darius’ chariot, camp, and family. In 331 BCE, Darius' sister-wife Statira, died in chilbirth whilst in captivity. In September of that year Darius tried to negotiate with Alexander who rejected his overtures and defeated him at the Battle of Gaugamela. Darius’ chariot driver was killed and Darius was knocked off his feet. The Persian force, thinking him killed, was routed. Darius subsequently fled to Ecbatana to attempt to raise a third army. Meanwhile Alexander took possession of Babylon, Susa and the Persian capital of Persepolis.
Darius was deposed by his satrap Bessus and assassinated on Bessus’ order in July 330 BCE to slow Alexander’s advance. Bessus assumed the throne as Artaxerxes V. Alexander was slowed, as he gave Darius a magnificent funeral. He later married Darius’ daughter Statira at Opis in 324 BCE. According to Plutarch, Alexander took one of Darius’ catamites, the eunuch Bagoas (see also Wikipedia article
It was in this first battle of the Granicus River in 334 BCE that the He-goat that was Alexander came over the Earth and threw himself at the king of Persia. This battle marks the start point of the prophecy.
It should be obvious that 2300 prophetic days from 334 BCE ends in 1967 (there is no year 0).
In 1967 the Israelis had fought the Seven-Day War and were victorious. The Arab legion was committed in spite of Israeli requests that Hussein of Jordan remain neutral. The Arab legion was defeated and Jordanian-controlled territories on the West Bank of the Jordan were occupied by Israel. That included Jerusalem. Thus after 2300 years, from the first battle of the Greeks on Persian soil, Jerusalem passed back into Jewish hands. The Holy Land had been trodden underfoot for 2300 evenings and mornings from the Ptolemies and the Seleucids to the Romans and on to the Arabs.
However, that sequence merely marks the start point of the Last Days before the coming of the Messiah and leads up to the final conflict where this body of military and political force under religious leadership literally attacks the Prince of the Host, who is Jesus Christ, at his return. It is not by humans that this system is destroyed but by Christ and the Host.
The prophecy concerning its return to its former state did not mean that the Temple would be built after 2300 days but rather it would be returned to Judah at the end of the period. There will also be another specific period of 2300 days and also seven years over the Time of the End that see the prophecies brought to a close and Messiah subjugate the false system. He will then subjugate the nations.
The year 1967 is the beginning of the sixty years before the millennial occupation of the Holy Land under Jesus Christ. It is marked in the Exodus prototype as the thirty days of Mourning for Aaron. It concerns the loss and subjugation of the saints as referred to by Daniel. It was to last thirty years to 1997 when the final thirty years of the end were to commence, represented by the Mourning for Moses which ends in 2027 (see the paper The Last Thirty Years: the Final Struggle (No. 219)).
In this sixty-year period we will see the entire conflict and fulfilment of the prophecies of the Last Days.
Jerusalem and Israel will see war over that time until the subjugation of the nations at the battle of Megiddo as shown in the War of Hamon Gog (No. 294).
When it is over Israel will extend to the Euphrates, and Jordan, Syria and Lebanon will be provinces of the greater nation of Israel under Messiah.
Bullinger’s Notes on Chapter 8
In the third year: … Bullinger states: “Daniel being eighty-seven. “
a vision. Like the vision in Dan 7, this also is complete in itself, but is necessary to contribute its proof of the unity of the book as a whole. This vision (and the rest of the book from here) is written in Hebrew; because its purpose is to show how Gentile dominion (of Dan 2) specially concerns and affects Israel.
after. Two years after. At the end of the Babylonian empire, for Belshazaar reigned little more than two years.
I was at = I was in. Daniel may have retired there (during the lycanthropy of Nebuchadnezzar) when Nehemiah and Mordecai were in the court of Astyages (Nehemiah 1:1). That Daniel was there employed by Astyages is clear from Daniel 8:27.
Shushan. The chief city of all Persia.
saw = looked.
a ram. In Daniel 8:20 this is interpreted of Persia. A ram is always the symbol of Persia. Found to-day on ancient Persian coins. The king wore a ram"s head of gold, and rams" heads are to be seen on the sculptured pillars of Persepolis.
two horns. In Daniel 8:20 these are interpreted of the kings of Media and Persia.
higher, &c. Cyrus (the latter) became greater than his father Astyages. Both were in existence when Daniel saw the vision. Compare Daniel 8:20.
pushing = butting: always hostile.
westward = to the west. Not the same word as in Daniel 8:5.
became great = acted proudly.
he goat = a leaper of the goats. The acknowledged symbol of Greece, as the ram was of Persia (see Daniel 8:3), because the first colony was directed by an oracle to take a goat for a guide and build a city, which they did, and called it Egeae (from Aix = a goat). Figures of a goat are found to-day on ancient Macedonian monuments.
from the west. Hebrew. ma"rab. Not the place of origin, but the direction from it. In Daniel 8:4 the Hebrew = to the west.
on = over.
notable = conspicuous.
ran unto him. Symbolizing the rapidity of Alexander"s conquests, which, in the short space of thirteen years, subdued the world.
was moved with choler = moved himself, or strove violently with.
choler = bile. Put by Figure of speech Metonymy (of Cause), App-6, for anger or wrath, which was supposed to be due to excess of bile. Greek, cholos = bile; whence we have "cholera".
none that could, &c. = no deliverer for.
hand = power. Put by Figure of speech Metonymy (of Cause), App-6, for the power put forth by it.
waxed very great. Referring to the great extent of Alexander"s conquests, as "ran" (Daniel 8:6) refers to the rapidity of them.
very = exceedingly.
great: or, proud. Compare Daniel 8:4.
broken = broken in pieces.
for it = instead of it.
came up. Septuagint adds "afterward".
four notable ones = four conspicuous [ones].
the four winds. See note on Daniel 7:2.
winds. Hebrew. ruach. App-9.
one = [the] one.
waxed = grew. Anglo-Saxon, weaxan = to grow. Supply the Ellipsis (App-6), "grew [and became]"
south: i.e. Egypt.
east: i.e. Babylonia and Persia.
pleasant land = the glory of [gems]: i.e. the land of Israel. Only Ezekiel (Daniel 20:6, Daniel 20:15) and Daniel here use this term of the Holy Land. The same land as in Daniel 11:16, Daniel 11:41. Compare Psalms 106:24. Jeremiah 3:19. Zechariah 7:14.
even to = as far as.
host = stars. Compare Revelation 12:4.
of the host and of the stars. Figure of speech Hendiadys (App-6), for emphasis = the starry host.
them: i.e. the people symbolized by them.
to = against.
the Prince of the host. God Himself, the Creator and Ruler of the starry host, verses Daniel 10:11 are "difficult" only if Antiochus Epiphanes is assumed to fulfil them. There is no difficulty arising from "the state of the text".
Prince = Ruler. Hebrew. sar. See note on Daniel 10:13.
by him . . . was taken: or, it took away from Him: i.e. God.
daily sacrifice = the continual [burnt offering]: i.e. the morning and evening sacrifice (Numbers 28:3. 1 Chronicles 16:40. 2 Chronicles 29:7). This belongs to the time of the end, and was not fulfilled by Antiochus. His career was a foreshadowing of it, to show that the fulfillment will yet be exhausted by him who is "the little horn". See App-90; and note all the references there given (Daniel 8:11, Daniel 8:12, Daniel 8:13; Daniel 9:27; Daniel 11:31; Daniel 12:11). Reference to Pentateuch (Exodus 29:38. Numbers 28:3). App-92.
was given him against = was set over: i.e. war is raised against "the daily sacrifice".
by reason of = by.
transgression. Hebrew. pasha". App-44.
it cast down the truth = truth was cast down. The verb is passive.
truth: i.e. the truth of God as revealed in the law and the prophets.
practised = did it with effect. Compare Daniel 8:24.
and prospered = and succeeded.
How long . . . ? Referring to the duration of what is said concerning "the daily sacrifice" and the desolation; not the interval before the fulfillment.
concerning, &c. = of "the daily sacrifice" [as taken away].
and. Supply "and [the setting up of] the desolating (or astounding) rebellion.
to give, &c. : or, after He hath given over the sanctuary, &c.
me. Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate read "him".
two thousand and three hundred days. See App-91, and note on Daniel 8:26 below.
days = evenings and mornings, the times of the offering of the "continual" or daily sacrifice.
cleansed = vindicated or sanctified: in this form, occurs only here. Compare Daniel 9:24; and see App-90.
man = a mighty man. Hebrew. geber. App-14. Here it is Gabriel, whence his name.
man"s. Hebrew. "adam. App-14.
son of man. Only Daniel and Ezekiel so called, beside Messiah. See note on Psalms 8:4.
at the time of the end. This gives the time to which this vision refers. See the interpretation in (verses: Daniel 8:20-25), and especially (verses: Daniel 8:23-25). See also App-90; and Compare Daniel 7:26; Daniel 9:26; Daniel 11:40; Daniel 12:4, Daniel 12:9, Daniel 12:13; and Matthew 24:14.
shall be. Supply the Ellipsis (App-6) by reading "[belongeth]".
the last end. Another indication of the time of the fulfillment of the vision at the time appointed, &c.
indignation = wrath [of God].
the kings. Here in Daniel 8:20 we have the beginning of the interpretation; which commences with past history with which the prophecy (which belongs to the future) is linked on. This is to connect the anticipatory and partial, or foreshadowing, fulfillment, which shows how the "little horn" will act, in a similar way as an individual, and not as a series of kings or popes.
is the first king = representeth the first king: i.e. Alexander the Great (Daniel 8:5).
for it = in the place thereof.
four kingdoms. These are said to have been: (1) Ptolemy"s (Egypt, Palestine, and some parts of Asia Minor); (2) Cassander"s (Macedonia and Greece); (3) Lysimachus"s (Bithynia, Thrace, Mysia, &c.); (4) Seleucus"s (Syria, Armenia, and territory east of the Euphrates). But the continuity of Alexander"s dominion ceased with him, and will not be seen again till "the little horn" arises.
the nation. Septuagint and Vulgate read "his nation".
not in his power: i.e. not with Alexander"s vigour of action and endurance.
the latter time of their kingdom, &c. This is a further indication as to the interpretation of this vision.
are come to the full: or, have filled up their measure. Therefore not full yet. This is a blow to all who are vainly trying to make the world better, and to "realize the kingdom of God on earth" now.
a king of fierce countenance = a king of mighty presence. One of the titles of the antichrist. See note on Daniel 7:8.
understanding dark sentences = skilled in dissimulation.
the Prince of princes: i.e. the Messiah.
he shall be broken without hand. To understand this read Isaiah 11:4. 2 Thessalonians 2:8. Revelation 19:19, Revelation 19:20. Compare Isaiah 10:12; Isaiah 14:25; Isaiah 31:8. Micah 5:6-7. Zephaniah 2:13. Zechariah 10:11. Nahum 1:11.
the evening and the morning. See note on "days" (App-90). These are interpreted as being 2,800 days. No one may interpret the interpretation and say they are "years".
it shall be, &c. Supply the Ellipsis (App-6) thus: "it [belongeth] to many days [to come]": i.e. to a yet future time