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7. Daniel's Dream of Four Beasts
In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters. 2Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. 3And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. 4The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it. 5And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. 6After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. 7After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. 8I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
9I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. 10A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. 11I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. 12As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. 13I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
15I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. 16I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things. 17These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. 18But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever. 19Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet; 20And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows. 21I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; 22Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. 23Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. 24And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. 25And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. 26But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. 27And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. 28Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.
He afterwards adds, The ten horns are the ten kings which should arise These Ten Kings are clearly comprehended under one empire, and there is no question here of separate persons. In the Persian kingdom, we observed many kings, and yet the image of the second beast was single, while it embraced all those kings until the change occurred. So also no when treating of the Romans, the Prophet does not assert that ten kings should succeed each other in regular order, but rather the multiform nature of the kingdom, under more heads than one. For the royal office belonged to the senators or leading citizens, whose authority prevailed very extensively both with the senate and the people. And with reference to the number, we said the plural number only was denoted, without any limitation to the number ten. The conclusion is as follows, — this kingdom should be like a single terrible animal bearing many horns, since no single king held the chief sway there, as was customary by constant usage in other lands, but there should be a mixture, like many kings in place of one holding the pre-eminence. The fulfillment of this is sufficiently known from the history of Rome; as if it had been said, there should not be any single kingdom, as of Persia and other nations, but many kings at the same time, alluding to the mixture and confusion in which the supreme authority was involved.
The Little Horn follows: A king shall arise, says he, different from those, other ones, and shall afflict three kings We showed how unintelligible this becomes, unless we refer it to the Caesars to whom the monarchy passed; for after long and continued and intensive strife, the whole power passed over to the Triumvirate. A conspiracy was entered into by Lepidus, Mark Antony, and Octavius. Octavius was then all but a boy, having scarcely arrived at manhood, but all the veteran soldiers were in his favor, in consequence of the name of Julius Caesar and his adoption by him. Hence he was received by the other two into that alliance, of which Lepidus was the first, and Antony the second. At length discords arose among them, and Lepidus was deprived of his place in the triumvirate, and lived, as if half-dead, while his life was only spared to him because he was raised to the office of chief priest
Reverence for the priesthood restrained Antony from putting him to death, so long as he was content to live in privacy and retirement. Octavius at, length became supreme, but by what artifice? We said Julius Caesar took no more upon himself than the office of dictator, while consuls were annually elected as usual. He did not strain the power of the dictatorship beyond moderation, but he so restrained himself, that some popular rights might seem still to flourish. Octavius also followed the cunning of his uncle and adopted father. The same conduct will be found in the other Caesars, though there were many differences between them. As the shadow of a republic yet remained, while the senate was held in some degree of reverence, it is not surprising, if the angel predicts that the beast should survive, when another small horn should arise different from the others
He adds, And shall afflict the three kings I have explained this point by the slight change which the Caesars effected in the provinces, for if any of the provinces were warlike, strong armies and veteran soldiers were usually sent there. The Caesars took these to themselves, while some executive management was left to the senate with regard to the other provinces. Lastly, by this form of speech, the angel portrays the coming dominion of the little horn, and its diminishing the strength of the former ones’ and yet the beast should remain apparently entire; thus, the effigy of the republic was preserved, as the people were always designated — in the forum, by the high-sounding name, Romans, and in battle, as fellow-soldiers. Meanwhile, although the name of the Roman empire was so celebrated, and its majesty was in every one’s mouth, the supreme authority was in the possession of one little horn which lay concealed, and dared not openly raise its head. This, then, is the pith of the interpretation of what the angel here sets before us. It; follows, —