7. The Ram and the He-Goat (Daniel 8)
In no other vision revealed to Daniel is there
anything to compare with the emphatic repetition here; ‘a vision
appeared...appeared...and I saw...and I saw...’ The six-fold repetition
underlines the impressiveness and importance of what is now
The contest between the ram and the he-goat is
explicitly expounded in v.20, 21: the two horns of the ram are the kings of
Media and Persia; the rough goat is the king of Greece, and its prominent horn
is Alexander, the builder of that empire; the four ‘notable horns’
that came up in his place clearly represent the four-fold division of
Alexander’s empire (see on 7:6).
So far the interpretation is simple, almost
obvious. Put, in verse 9, uncertainties begin to arise. Here there is the
appearance of another little horn, which expands its greatness ‘towards
the south (Egypt) and the east (Syria) and towards the pleasant Land (of
Here interpretation hesitates between
identification with Antiochus Epiphanes, the mad Syrian persecutor of the Jews,
and the unexpected expansion of Roman aggrandizement as far east as the
Euphrates. The modernists are
stoutly in favour of the first of these
(assuming, for their own convenience, a third century B.C. date for the
composition of ‘Daniel’).
The details of verse 10 are not decisive;
‘it waxed great even to the host of heaven (see Is. 14:13), and it cast
down some of the host and of the stars to the ground (see v.13d here), and
stamped upon them.’
However, the details of verse 11 are much more
pointed: ‘Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host,
and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of the
sanctuary was cast down’. This was ‘by reason of transgression...it
cast down the truth to the ground’ (v.12).
In this passage the following details are to be
- The word ‘place’ means ‘a holy place, the
sanctuary.’ This is a very common
- The prince of the host is Michael the archangel to whom was
specially committed the direction of the affairs of Israel (see 12: 1; 10:
13,21; Josh. 5: 14; Ex. 23:20ff).
- ‘Truth’ refers to the Covenants of Promise, set
aside with the casting-off of Israel.
- The sanctuary was not trodden under foot (see Lk. 21:24) until
- This destroying power is called ‘the transgression of
desolation’; Jesus himself identified this when foretelling the
destruction of Jerusalem: ‘When ye see the abomination of desolation stand
in the holy place...’ (Mt. 24:15).
All these details are linked with a mysterious
time-period: ‘How long...to give both the sanctuary and the host (temple
and people) to be trodden under foot?... ‘Unto two thousand and three
hundred days, and (thus) shall the sanctuary be cleansed’ (v.13,
As one man the commentators have made a sorry
mess of their understanding of this time period—through failure to give
full value to two important details:
With this valid, and almost certainly correct,
alternative, the time-period now reads: ‘unto thousands (unspecified) and
one hundred and fifty days (two sacrifices, in every 24 hours), i.e. a long
indeterminate period concluding with a very special five
- ‘Days’ is at best only a paraphrase of
‘evening-mornings’, the daily sacrifices (two in every 24
- The reading: ‘two thousand...’ depends entirely on
the Hebrew pointing inserted by the scribes long centuries after the time of
Daniel. They arbitrarily chose to read the key word ‘thousands’ as
AL’PaIM, the dual form (= two thousand), instead of AL’PIM, the
indefinite plural (thousands).
Then can it be regarded as a remarkable
coincidence that Josephus, with no understanding of Daniel 8, records that the
A.D.70 siege of Jerusalem lasted exactly five months from the Passover when it
began? And before that Jewish War started, the Book of Revelation already had
this detail in one of its prophecies: Rev. 9:5,10 (see ‘Revelation’,
But this is only half the story.
In the explanation given to Daniel, it was made
clear that the prophecy belongs to ‘the last end of the indignation...the
time of the end’ (v.17,19); and this was emphasized by the prophet being
cast into ‘a deep sleep’ (a fairly obvious figure of death and
resurrection: Gen. 15:12; 2:21; Jer. 31:26; Lk. 9:32; Rev.
Indeed, the expanded explanation now added
reaches well beyond any reference to the Roman destruction: ‘a king of
fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences (what does this mean?),
shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty but not by his own power (cp. Rev.
17:13)...he shall destroy the mighty and the holy people...by peace he shall
destroy many; he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes (the
Messiah), but he shall be broken without hand (i.e. by divine power; v.23, 25.
So, as is stated explicitly in verse 26,
‘the vision of the evening-mornings...shall be for many days.’ This
(and the details of v.23-25 just quoted) requires a further fulfilment of the
time-period in the Last Days. Accordingly, the Fifth Trumpet (Revelation 9:5,10)
repeats its ‘five months’ declaration of judgment against Israel in
a context even more relevant to the Last Days than it was to
It is called (v.19) ‘the time
appointed’. This Hebrew word mo’ed always refers to
one of the outstanding Jewish religious festivals—here, either to Passover
or the Feast of Tabernacles (see ‘Passover’, HAW,
Even such considerations as these can hardly be
treated as ‘cast-iron’, for there is the assurance of the Lord Jesus
that ‘for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened’ (Mt.
24:22). How, or why? He did not explain, but 2 Peter 3:11,12 will be relevant
here, if only the elect rise to their spiritual responsibilities with prayers of
conviction (Is. 62:6,7).
One other highly important detail bears on what
has just been said: the explanation vouchsafed to Daniel was imparted to him by
the angel Gabriel (v.16). This was granted because he ‘sought for the
meaning’, praying about it. A case of no small impressiveness can be made
for believing that, for outstanding saints of God, Gabriel is the angel of
answered prayer (Lk. 1:26, 30, 13; 22:43, 44; Dan. 9:21; 10:12; 6:11, 22; Acts
10:30, 31; Jer. 32:16,18—‘Gabriel’ means God’s Mighty