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Daniel 7:3

ESV And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another.
NIV Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.
NASB And four great beasts were coming up from the sea, different from one another.
CSB Four huge beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other.
NLT Then four huge beasts came up out of the water, each different from the others.
KJV And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.

What does Daniel 7:3 mean?

Daniel is seeing a dream, containing a prophetic vision from God (Daniel 7:1). This began with the sight of winds, sent by heaven from the four compass points, to agitate the Mediterranean Sea (Daniel 7:2). This places the rest of the vision in the Mediterranean region and implies that God is ultimately in control of what happens.

From the sea come four animal-like creatures. Each is unique, but they share a few characteristics. This vision parallels the dream seen by Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:1) who saw four kingdoms represented by different metals (Daniel 2:31). Daniel's dream depicts these nations and their kings (Daniel 7:17) as a lion, bear, leopard, and an unidentifiable beast with iron teeth and horns (Daniel 7:4–7).

Where Nebuchadnezzar's dream depicted these kingdoms in flattering terms—as precious or useful metals—Daniel's vision stresses the kingdoms' brutish, immoral character. Throughout history, powerful nations have often been symbolized using animals. The bear is a historic metaphor for Russia. The United States is frequently caricatured as an eagle. China is often depicted as a dragon. The apostle Peter compares immoral, corrupt, unrighteous men to "irrational animals, creatures of instinct" (2 Peter 2:12). Jude writes that such men are "like unreasoning animals" (Jude 1:10). Savage empires act in accordance with their vicious, beastlike rulers.
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