World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
Daniel's Vision of the Four Beasts
1In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream and visions of his head as he lay in his bed. Then he wrote down the dream and told the sum of the matter. 2Daniel declared,11Aramaic answered and said “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. 3And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another. 4The first was like a lion and had eagles' wings. Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man, and the mind of a man was given to it. 5And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear. It was raised up on one side. It had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and it was told, ‘Arise, devour much flesh.’ 6After this I looked, and behold, another, like a leopard, with four wings of a bird on its back. And the beast had four heads, and dominion was given to it. 7After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different 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 horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.
The Ancient of Days Reigns
9“As I looked,
thrones were placed,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
its wheels were burning fire.
10A stream of fire issued
and came out from before him;
a thousand thousands served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him;
the court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.
11“I looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. 12As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.
The Son of Man Is Given Dominion
13“I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
14And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.
Daniel's Vision Interpreted
15“As for me, Daniel, my spirit within me22Aramaic within its sheath was anxious, and the visions of my head alarmed me. 16I approached one of those who stood there and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of the things. 17‘These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. 18But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.’
19“Then I desired to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrifying, with its teeth of iron and claws of bronze, and which devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet, 20and about the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn that came up and before which three of them fell, the horn that had eyes and a mouth that spoke great things, and that seemed greater than its companions. 21As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, 22until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.
23“Thus he said: ‘As for the fourth beast,
there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth,
which shall be different from all the kingdoms,
and it shall devour the whole earth,
and trample it down, and break it to pieces.
24As for the ten horns,
out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise,
and another shall arise after them;
he shall be different from the former ones,
and shall put down three kings.
25He shall speak words against the Most High,
and shall wear out the saints of the Most High,
and shall think to change the times and the law;
and they shall be given into his hand
for a time, times, and half a time.
26But the court shall sit in judgment,
and his dominion shall be taken away,
to be consumed and destroyed to the end.
27And the kingdom and the dominion
and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven
shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High;
their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom,
and all dominions shall serve and obey them.’33Or his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him
28“Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly alarmed me, and my color changed, but I kept the matter in my heart.”
7. As Daniel lived under the kingdom of the first beast, and therefore needed not to describe it, and as the second and third are described fully in the second part of the book, the chief emphasis falls on the fourth. Also prophecy most dwells on the end, which is the consummation of the preceding series of events. It is in the fourth that the world power manifests fully its God-opposing nature. Whereas the three former kingdoms were designated respectively, as a lion, bear, and leopard, no particular beast is specified as the image of the fourth; for Rome is so terrible as to be not describable by any one, but combines in itself all that we can imagine inexpressibly fierce in all beasts. Hence thrice (Da 7:7, 19, 23) it is repeated, that the fourth was "diverse from all" the others. The formula of introduction, "I saw in the night visions," occurs here, as at Da 7:2, and again at Da 7:13, thus dividing the whole vision into three parts—the first embracing the three kingdoms, the second the fourth and its overthrow, the third Messiah's kingdom. The first three together take up a few centuries; the fourth, thousands of years. The whole lower half of the image in the second chapter is given to it. And whereas the other kingdoms consist of only one material, this consists of two, iron and clay (on which much stress is laid, Da 2:41-43); the "iron teeth" here allude to one material in the fourth kingdom of the image.
ten horns—It is with the crisis, rather than the course, of the fourth kingdom that this seventh chapter is mainly concerned. The ten kings (Da 7:24, the "horns" representing power), that is, kingdoms, into which Rome was divided on its incorporation with the Germanic and Slavonic tribes, and again at the Reformation, are thought by many to be here intended. But the variation of the list of the ten, and their ignoring the eastern half of the empire altogether, and the existence of the Papacy before the breaking up of even the Western empire, instead of being the "little horn" springing up after the other ten, are against this view. The Western Roman empire continued till A.D. 731, and the Eastern, till A.D. 1453. The ten kingdoms, therefore, prefigured by the ten "toes" (Da 2:41; compare Re 13:1; 17:12), are the ten kingdoms into which Rome shall be found finally divided when Antichrist shall appear [Tregelles]. These, probably, are prefigured by the number ten being the prevalent one at the chief turning points of Roman history.