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Daniel chapter 8

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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. 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 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 for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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.

What does Daniel chapter 8 mean?

Daniel has another prophetic experience (Daniel 7:1), which ties into prior dreams and visions. Aspects of this prophecy were seen in Nebuchadnezzar's dream (Daniel 2:39) as well as Daniel's earlier vision (Daniel 7:1–6). Some of these predictions will occur within a few centuries of Daniel's life. Others are yet to be fully realized (Daniel 8:1).

The vision begins at the banks of the Ulai canal, in the eastern province of Elam in the Babylonian empire. There, Daniel sees a male sheep—a ram—boldly running around without anyone to oppose it. This ram has two horns, with the later-appearing horn growing higher than the older one. The meaning of this symbol will be explained later (Daniel 8:2–4).

Next, Daniel sees a male goat moving so quickly that its feet don't touch the ground. A unique feature of the goat is a prominent horn in the middle of its forehead. This goat breaks the two horns of the powerful ram, defeats it, and takes power. Once the goat is "exceedingly great," its single horn shatters. In its place grow four horns pointed in all different directions. As with the ram, this imagery is to be explained in another part of the vision (Daniel 8:5–8).

From one of these new horns comes yet another horn, a little one. This one exerts power and fights against godly forces. It is responsible for desecrating truth and stopping sacrifice in the temple. Daniel hears voices wondering aloud how long this will last, indicating that the sanctuary will be usable after 2,300 evenings and mornings (Daniel 8:9–14).

In response to Daniel's desire for more understanding, a voice commands the angel Gabriel (Daniel 9:21; Luke 1:19, 26). This voice may represent Jesus Christ—God the Son—or perhaps the archangel Michael (Daniel 10:13, 21; 12:1; Revelation 12:7). As is often the case, Daniel's response to the presence of an angel is dramatic. He falls into a posture of submission, possibly even fainting. Gabriel helps restore Daniel's senses before giving his interpretation of the vision (Daniel 8:15–18).

Gabriel explains that the ram symbolizes the Medo-Persians. This empire was an amalgamation of Media and Persia, though over time the Persians dominated and controlled everything. This is why symbols of Medo-Persia involve two arms (Daniel 2:32) or two sides (Daniel 7:5) or two horns (Daniel 8:3). The goat predicts the rise of Alexander the Great and his rapid conquests. When Alexander suddenly died, his territory was split among four successors (Daniel 8:19–22).

Near the end of Greek dominance, another ruler will arise. He will be known for death and persecution against God's people. That will not end until something other than a human effort brings his rule to a close. This predicts the late Greek figure Antiochus IV Epiphanes in the late 2nd century BC. Epiphanes was infamous for spiteful cruelty towards the Jewish people. He outlawed aspects of their faith, blasphemed God, and even desecrated the temple with the blood of pigs. As a result, the temple was unusable for sacrifice until Epiphanes died and it could be cleansed. Epiphanes died suddenly, but there is debate over exactly how (Daniel 8:23–25).

This same prediction appears to have dual fulfillment. Interpreters see similarity to depictions of the end times: the final era of earth's history. During that time, a figure known as "the Antichrist" will echo the depravity of Epiphanes. He will be empowered by Satan (Revelation 13:1–4) and only stopped by the return of Christ (Revelation 19:11–16).

Scholars debate the exact meaning of the 2,300 days. Some look at this as a literal length of time. This would roughly correspond to the time between 170 BC, when Antiochus came to Jerusalem, and the restoration of the temple in 164 BC. Another view is that the reference to "evenings and mornings" means that 2,300 is a total of those. This would imply that Epiphanes' disruption of the temple lasted long enough to prevent this number of morning and evening sacrifices. As it happens, the temple was desecrated in 167 BC, roughly aligning with 1,150 days to the restoration. In either view, the prediction holds (Daniel 8:26).

Though Daniel has been given insight, he doesn't fully understand everything he has seen and heard. He knows enough to see that his people will suffer terrible evil, including defilement of their religious life. However, they will recover. Daniel, as well, suffers a time of stress. The shock of the experience—and the catastrophic meaning—renders him ill for several days. Yet Daniel, like Israel, recovers and resumes his work (Daniel 8:27).
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