Daniel 8

The Word Made Fresh

1In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar another vision came to me, Daniel, after the first one described earlier. 2In the vision I saw myself in Susa, the capital city, in Elam Province, beside the Ulai River. 3I looked up to see a ram beside the river. It had two long horns, though one was longer than the other even though it came up afterward. 4The ram charged west and north and south. The other beasts could not stand against it, nor could any be rescued from it. It did as it pleased, and became stronger and stronger.

5While I watched, a male goat came from the west. It traveled across the whole world without touching the ground. It had a single horn between its eyes. 6It came towards the ram and ran at it savagely. 7I saw it approach enraged, and it struck the ram and broke its two horns. The ram had no power to withstand it, and was thrown to the ground and trampled. No one could rescue the ram from its power. 8The goat grew larger and larger, but at the very height of its strength its great horn was broken. It was replaced by four horns that pointed to the four winds of heaven.

9Then out of one of its horns came another smaller one. It grew more and more powerful toward the south, the east, and toward the beautiful land. 10It grew as high as the heavens and threw down to earth some of the residents and some of the stars, and trampled them. 11It was arrogant even toward the prince there, and took the regular burnt offerings away from him, overthrowing his throne in the sanctuary. 12Out of wickedness the residents were surrendered to it along with the regular sacrifices. The goat threw truth to the ground, and continued to be successful in what it was doing. 13But then I heard the voice of a holy one speaking, and another said to the one who had spoken, “For how long is this vision of the regular offerings and the sin that destroys, and of the surrender of the sanctuary and its inhabitants being trampled?” 18And the goat answered, “For two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary will be restored to its rightful state.”

15When I, Daniel, saw the vision I tried to understand it. But then someone who appeared to be a man stood before me, 16and a human voice beside the Ulai River called out, “Gabriel, help this man understand what he is seeing.” Gabriel came near to where I was standing. I was frightened and fell on my face, but he said to me, “Understand, son of man, that this vision is for the time of the end.”

18As he spoke to me, I entered a trance, face down on the ground. Then he touched me and put me back on my feet. 19He said, “Listen. I will tell you what will happen in the time of wrath. It is a reference to the appointed time for the end. 20The ram you saw with the two horns represented the kings of Media and Persia. 21The goat is the king of Greece, and the horn between its eyes is their first king. 22The horn that was broken, and in the place of which four other horns arose, are four kingdoms that will arise after him, though not with his power. When their rule has ended and sin has reached its full measure, a king with a hard countenance, skilled in lies, will come to power. 24His strength will grow, and he will wreak great destruction. Successful in all he endeavors, he will destroy the powerful as well as the people of the sacred ones. 25His cunning will make lies prosper in his hand, and he will be great in his own mind. Without any warning he will destroy his enemies, and even go to war against the Prince of princes. But then he himself will be broken, though not by human hands.”

26The vision I had during the evenings and the mornings have been told accurately. Now, you are to seal the vision, for it refers to many days from now.

27I, Daniel, was overwhelmed and lay ill for days. Then I arose and went about the business of the king. But I was very troubled by the vision, for I did not understand it.


1-4: Daniel’s second apocalyptic vision is recorded a couple of years later. He sees a ram near the capital city of Susa charging around as it pleases.

5-8: The plot thickens. A male goat with a single central horn comes charging over the plain from the west. It bashes the ram, but then somehow its horn is broken and replaced by four horns pointing in four directions.

9-14: A little horn sprouts from one of the four, casting its power toward the south and toward the “beautiful land,” which must be Israel. Again, Daniel hears voices, but this time they come from a “holy one.” We are told that the little horn’s power over the temple will last for about six and a half years.

15-17: Daniel is perplexed. A man, of sorts, appears before him, and summons Gabriel to tell him the meaning of the vision. Gabriel makes it clear that this is a vision of the end of time.

18-27: Now the interpretation: The ram’s two horns represent Media and Persia. The male goat is the king of Greece, whose horn between its eyes we will come to know as Alexander the Great (who ruled from 336-323 BC). Four kingdoms will arise from that one, a reference to the fourfold division of the Alexandrian empire after his death. Out of one of those divisions will arise one who makes war on the “people of the holy ones,” the Jews. This is Antiochus IV Epiphanes (who ruled from 175-164 BC). Daniel is told the vision must be sealed, a rather curious expression, but its meaning is simple enough; the vision is not ready for publication. Daniel is in a swoon for several days, then “goes about the king’s business” — remember that he is a high official (see 6:2).


God is in charge, and God knows where and when all will end. But that is not for us to know. You know how we are: once we know when things will end we’ll behave like fools until the time arrives, and then we’ll repent. God wants faithful people, not crafty people.