As with chapter 7, this chapter precedes chapter 5, chronologically. This dream probably occurred when Daniel was around 70.
Verse 1 – In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar a vision appeared to me – to me, Daniel – after the one that appeared to me the first time.
Verse 2 – I saw in the vision, and it so happened while I was looking, that I was in Shushan, the citadel, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in the vision that I was by the River Ulai.
Belshazzar only reigned for 3 years, and it was under his reign that the Babylonians fell to the Medes and Persians. So this vision is in the final year of Belshazzar and the Babylonian empire. Also, this vision is after the one he had in chapter 7. Elam’s involvement was prophesied by Isaiah, 21:2.
Verse 3 – Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and there, standing beside the river, was a ram which had two horns, and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last.
These two horns were the kings of the Medes and Persians. The higher horn represented the growing dominance of Persia in the Medo-Persia empire.
Verse 4 – I saw the ram pushing westward, northward, and southward, so that no beast could withstand him; nor was there any that could deliver from his hand, but he did according to his will and became great.
The Medes were under Darius and the Persians under Cyrus, united together to bring about the downfall of the Babylonians. Darius only ruled for two or 3 years and then died at the age of 64. Persia then took the throne through Cyrus the nephew of Darius. The kingdom was eventually known as the Persian kingdom. No nation could stand against them.
Verse 5 – And as I was considering, suddenly a male goat came from the west, across the surface of the whole earth, without touching the ground; and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.
This goat is none other than Alexander the Great. This conquer, swept across the entire Near East in only three years. This was amazing because Greece was not yet considered a power when this prophecy was given.
Verse 6 – Then he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing beside the river, and ran at him with furious power.
Verse 7 – And I saw him confronting the ram; he was moved with rage against him, attacked the ram, and broke his two horns. There was no power in the ram to withstand him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled him; and there was no one that could deliver the ram from his hand.
Shattering both horns symbolized Alexander breaking both parts of the Medo-Persian empire. Alexander’s empire covered Greece and Macedonia in the west, and east almost to the Indus River, through Synia in the south, Palestine, and Egypt.
Verse 8 – Therefore the male goat grew very great; but when he became strong, the large horn was broken, and in place of it four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven.
At the height of Alexander’s power, being only in his thirties, he died. His kingdom was split into four parts by his generals. Four winds of heaven – north, south, east, and west (Jeremiah 49:36).
Verse 9 – And out of one of them came a little horn, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land.
This little horn came out of the four winds, the four generals provenances, so it was not the Grecian empire. It was moving towards Israel. In the second century B.C., Antiochus IV, the eight ruler of the Seleucid empire (Babylonia and Syria) overthrew the high priest, looted the temple, and replaced worship of God with a Greek form of worship. A further fulfillment of this prophecy of a powerful horn will occur in the future coming of the Antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2:4).
Verse 10 – And it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them.
Antiochus brutally trampled and persecuted the Jewish people from 170-164 B.C. He blasphemously presented himself as the prince of host, stopped daily sacrifices and defiled the holy temple.
Verse 11 – He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of host; and by him the daily sacrifices were taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down.
We know of another who fits this same description, Satan, the beast, the Antichrist.
Verse 12 – Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices; and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered.
Verse 13 – Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said to that certain one who was speaking, “How long will the vision be, concerning the daily sacrifices and the transgression of desolation, the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled under-foot?
Verse 14 – And he said to me, “For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.”
An angel announced that Antiochus’ defilement of Israel would last 2, 300 evenings and mornings, until the temple was rededicated by Judas Maccabeus in 164 B.C. This even is still celebrated today during the festival Chanukah.
Verse 15 – Now it happened, when I Daniel, had seen the vision and was seeking the meaning, that suddenly there stood before me one having the appearance of a man.
Verse 16 – And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, who called, and said, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.”
Gabriel, is one of two angels mentioned in scripture, the other being Michael. Gabriel announced the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:11). and the Messiah (Luke 1:26).
Verse 17 – So he came near where I stood, and when he came I was afraid and fell on my face; but he said to me, “Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end.”
The time of the end,” refers to the whole period from the end of Israel’s exile to the second coming of Christ. We know these events predicted took place between the sixth and second centuries B.C. These verses have a double-fulfillment of the vision because it also pertains to the Antichrist.
Verse 18 – Now, as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me, and stood me upright.
Verse 19 – And he said, “Look, I am making known to you what shall happen in the latter time of the indignation; for at the appointed time the end shall be.
Verse 20 -“The ram which you saw having the two horns – they are the kings of Media and Persia.
Verse 21 – “And the male goat is the kingdom of Greece. The large horn that is between its eyes is the first king.
Verse 22 – “As for the broken horn and the four that stood up in its place, four kingdoms shall arise out of that nation, but not with its power.
Verse 23 – “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their fullness, a king shall arise, having fierce features, who understands sinister schemes.
This description describes both Antioch IV Epiphanes and the Antichrist at the end of history.
Verse 24 – His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; he shall destroy fearfully, and shall prosper and thrive; he shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people.
Verse 25 – “Through his coming he shall cause deceit to prosper under his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart. He shall destroy many in their prosperity. He shall even rise against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without human hand.
This verse has to be referring to the Antichrist. This parallels to Daniel 2:34, where the stone cut out without hands will destroy the last earthly kingdom and establish the eternal kingdom of Christ.
Verse 26 – “And the vision of the evenings and mornings which was told is true; therefore seal up the vision, for it refers to many days in the future.
Gabriel tells Daniel t seal it up, not for hiding, but to preserve it and secure it. These events didn’t take place for four hundred years and the future hasn’t happened as of yet.
Verse 27 – And I Daniel, fainted and was sick for days; afterward I arose and went about the king’s business. I was astonished by the vision, but no one understood it.
There are people today with such an insight to the full understanding of these visions and many more. They have the ability to relate current events to certain prophecies that make total sense. Our God does want us to know what is about to take place or He wouldn’t have put it in scripture. He wants us all to be ready for the second coming of His precious Son. Don’t let it take you by surprise.