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Visions of the Four Beasts


In the first year of King Belshazzar of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head as he lay in bed. Then he wrote down the dream: 2I, Daniel, saw in my vision by night the four winds of heaven 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 watched, its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a human being; and a human mind was given to it. 5Another beast appeared, a second one, that looked like a bear. It was raised up on one side, had three tusks in its mouth among its teeth and was told, “Arise, devour many bodies!” 6After this, as I watched, another appeared, like a leopard. The beast had four wings of a bird on its back and four heads; and dominion was given to it. 7After this I saw in the visions by night a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth and was devouring, breaking in pieces, and stamping what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that preceded it, and it had ten horns. 8I was considering the horns, when another horn appeared, a little one coming up among them; to make room for it, three of the earlier horns were plucked up by the roots. There were eyes like human eyes in this horn, and a mouth speaking arrogantly.

Judgment before the Ancient One


As I watched,

thrones were set in place,

and an Ancient One took his throne,

his clothing was white as snow,

and the hair of his head like pure wool;

his throne was fiery flames,

and its wheels were burning fire.


A stream of fire issued

and flowed out from his presence.

A thousand thousands served him,

and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him.

The court sat in judgment,

and the books were opened.

11 I watched then because of the noise of the arrogant words that the horn was speaking. And as I watched, the beast was put to death, 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. 13As I watched in the night visions,

I saw one like a human being

coming with the clouds of heaven.

And he came to the Ancient One

and was presented before him.


To him was given dominion

and glory and kingship,

that all peoples, nations, and languages

should serve him.

His dominion is an everlasting dominion

that shall not pass away,

and his kingship is one

that shall never be destroyed.

Daniel’s Visions Interpreted

15 As for me, Daniel, my spirit was troubled within me, and the visions of my head terrified me. 16I approached one of the attendants to ask him the truth concerning all this. So he said that he would disclose to me the interpretation of the matter: 17“As for these four great beasts, four kings shall arise out of the earth. 18But the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever—forever and ever.”

19 Then I desired to know the truth concerning 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 concerning the ten horns that were on its head, and concerning the other horn, which came up and to make room for which three of them fell out—the horn that had eyes and a mouth that spoke arrogantly, and that seemed greater than the others. 21As I looked, this horn made war with the holy ones and was prevailing over them, 22until the Ancient One came; then judgment was given for the holy ones of the Most High, and the time arrived when the holy ones gained possession of the kingdom.

23 This is what he said: “As for the fourth beast,

there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth

that shall be different from all the other kingdoms;

it shall devour the whole earth,

and trample it down, and break it to pieces.


As for the ten horns,

out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise,

and another shall arise after them.

This one shall be different from the former ones,

and shall put down three kings.


He shall speak words against the Most High,

shall wear out the holy ones of the Most High,

and shall attempt to change the sacred seasons and the law;

and they shall be given into his power

for a time, two times, and half a time.


Then the court shall sit in judgment,

and his dominion shall be taken away,

to be consumed and totally destroyed.


The kingship and dominion

and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven

shall be given to the people of the holy ones of the Most High;

their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom,

and all dominions shall serve and obey them.”

28 Here the account ends. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly terrified me, and my face turned pale; but I kept the matter in my mind.

This reply of the angel is subject to the same obscurity as the vision itself, but it ought to be sufficient to calm the minds of the faithful to know that various changes should arise and shake the whole earth; for as many troubles were, prepared for the saints, so also they were braced up to fortitude and endurance. For God was not willing fully to explain what he had shown to his Prophet; he only wished to set before him this conclusion — a kingdom shall arise completely different from all others. Thus the angel says, The Fourth Beast signifies a fourth kingdom, which shall differ from all the kingdoms Previously to that period, no state was so extensive in its sway. For although the Spartans and Athenians performed illustrious and memorable exploits, yet we know them to have been included within narrow boundaries; and the ambition and wordy vanity of the Greeks caused them to celebrate those wars which were scarcely of any consequence, as we learn even from their own histories. Whichever way we take this, Sparta obtained with difficulty the second rank in Greece, as Athens did the first. As far as concerns the Roman Empire, we know it to have been more extensive and powerful than the other monarchies. When all Italy came under their sway, this was sufficient for any noble monarchy; but Spain, Sicily, part, of Greece, arm Illyrieum were added, and afterwards all Greece and Macedon, Asia Minor, Africa., and all the islands; for by one word they expelled the king of Cyprus, and sold his goods by public auction. When the dregs of the people were collected, Claudius made a law for the banishment of the king of Cyprus, and this he accomplished by his single voice, without the use of force at all. No wonder then that God foretold how different this kingdom, should be from all the others; it had no single head; the senate had the chief authority, though all power was centered in the people. There was therefore a kind of mingled confusion, since the government of Rome was never settled. And if we weigh all things prudently, it was neither a republic nor a kingdom, but a confused compound, in which the people exercised great power in a tumultuous way, and the senate oppressed the people as much as it could. There were three ranks — the senatorian, the equestrian, and the plebeian, and that mixture made the kingdom like a monster. The angel, therefore, announces the fourth kingdom as different from, the others

He afterwards confirms what we said before; it will fall, says he, and break to pieces, and tread down the whole earth This was fulfilled after Gaul and Britain were subdued, Germany partially subjugated, and Illyrieum, Greece, and Macedon, reduced to submission. At length they penetrated to Asia, and Antiochus was banished beyond the Taurus; his kingdom afterwards became their prey, then they obtained possession of Syria. The kings of Egypt were their allies, and yet became dependent upon their nod; the sovereign dared not appoint an heir, without consulting their pleasure. As, therefore, they ruled supremely so long and so widely, they fulfilled this prophecy by devouring the whole earth. For such lust for dominion never existed before; wars were heaped upon wars, they were alike greedy of the blood of others, and by no means sparing of their own. The whirlpool was insatiable, while it absorbed the whole world, and their pride crushed it and trampled it under foot,. Cruelty was added to pride, for all looked up to the Romans, and conciliated the favor of Rome by flattery, for the purpose of raging savagely against; their own people. By these arts almost the whole of Greece perished. For they knew how many innocent persons everywhere perished in every city, a kind of diversion which delighted them; they were fully aware how easy it was to attract all the power of the whole world to themselves, when it was able to put forth neither strength, nor skill, nor power against them. For their nobles were constantly at variance; sometimes one faction and sometimes another was supreme, and thus the splendor of every city easily, and gradually diminished. Thus all Greece was spoiled, and the Romans exercised their dominion there without difficulty, as over brute beasts. We may say the same of Asia also. We are not surprised then at the angel saying, the earth would be trodden down and trampled on by this fourth beast.

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