Daniel’s fourth beast is the Roman Empire.

PURPOSE

The previous three articles gave overviews of Daniel 2, Daniel 7, and Daniel 8 respectively. The main character in both Daniel 7 and 8 is an evil horn-king. The Daniel 8 article concludes that the horn-kings in these two chapters represent the same entity. That article also describes the Preterist, Historicist, and Futurist interpretations of this evil power but does not select one.

The purpose of the current article is to show that the evil king-horn arose out of the Roman Empire.

SUMMARY

The Fourth Beast is the Roman Empire.

There are four animals in Daniel 7 but only two in Daniel 8. The Ram is explicitly identified as “the kings of Media and Persia” and the Goat as “the kingdom of Greece” (Dan 8:20-21). The current article identifies the animals in Daniel 7 by comparing them to the animals in Daniel 8:

There is no similarity between the Ram and the Leopard. On the contrary, while the Ram has two divisions, the Leopard has four.

There is also no similarity between the Goat and the Dreadful Beast. On the contrary, while the Goat first has only one horn and then later four, the Dreadful Beast first has ten horns and later eight.

The Ram and the Bear are similar. For both, one side is higher than the other and both conquer three others. This means that the Ram is equivalent to the Bear and that both represent “the kings of Media and Persia” (Dan 8:20).

The Goat and the Leopard are also similar. Both are represented as fast and consist of four parts. This means that both represent the kingdom of Greece” (Dan 8:21).

This means that the next beast; the Dreadful Fourth Beast of Daniel 7, must be the Roman Empire and that the little horn in Daniel 7 comes out of this empire. Since the little horns of Daniel 7 and 8 are the same entity, it cannot be the Greek king Antiochus IV.

The Medes is not a distinct empire.

To make their interpretation fit the text, critical scholars propose that the author of Daniel inserted the Medes as a separate empire. This is not consistent with history or with Daniel itself. Daniel always refers to the Medes and Persians as a single entity (e.g., Dan 8:20).

– END OF SUMMARY – 


ALTERNATIVE INTERPRETATIONS

Conservative View – Roman Empire

Conservatives (historicists and futurists) align the symbols in Daniel 2, 7, and 8 as follows:

Daniel 2 Gold (Babylon) Silver Brass Iron
Daniel 7 Lion Bear Leopard Dreadful beast
Daniel 8 Ram
(Medo-Persia)
Goat (Greece)

In this schema, since the Bear is Medo-Persia and the Leopard is the Greek empire, the dreadful fourth beast of Daniel 7 must represent the Roman Empire, for that was the next empire in history. It then follows that the evil horn, which arises from the dreadful fourth beast, arose during the Roman period.

Liberal View – Greek Empire

The Preterist School, comprising mostly of liberal Critical Scholars, effectively reads Daniel backward. They start by identifying the ‘despicable’ of Daniel 11:21 as Antiochus IV. Then, since the evil horns of Daniel 7 and 8 are the same as the ‘despicable’, they identify the evil horn also as Antiochus IV. Since Antiochus was a Greek king, they propose that the 11 horns in Daniel 7 are 11 consecutive kings of the fourth kingdom in Daniel 7 (the Dreadful Beast) and that that beast symbolizes the Greek Empire. But then, what are the previous three empires in Daniel 7 (the lion, bear, and leopard)? Daniel 2 explicitly identifies the first as Babylon, and there was only one empire between Babylon and Greece, namely Medo-Persia. To solve this problem, critical scholars divide the Mede-Persian Empire into two separate empires and align the symbols as follows:

Daniel 2 Gold (Babylon) Silver Brass Iron
Daniel 7 Lion Bear Leopard Dreadful Beast
Daniel 8 Ram (Medes) Ram (Persia) Goat (Greece)

In this schema, the Ram of Daniel 8 covers both the Bear and the Leopard of Daniel 7, and the Greek Goat of Daniel 8 is equivalent to the Dreadful Beast of Daniel 7. By comparing the properties of the animals, the next sections will determine which schema fits the text of Daniel the best.

THE RAM

Daniel identified the Ram as “the kings of Media and Persia” (Dan 8:20). Does it agree with the Bear of Daniel 7 only, as proposed by the Conservatives, or with the Bear AND the Leopard, as proposed by the Liberals? Considered their descriptions and evaluate the similarities:

Ram  Bear Leopard
Two horns—one higher;
Higher horn came out last;
Charges to West, North, and South
(Dan 8:3-4)
Raised up on one side;
Three ribs between its teeth
(Dan 7:5)
Four heads;
Four wings
(Dan 7:6)

The Ram and the Leopard

There does not seem to be any similarity between these two animals. In one respect they are clearly different:

Daniel’s prophecies use heads and horns to indicate divisions. The Ram has two horns, which means it has two divisions (identified as the Medes and Persians – Dan 8:20), while the Leopard has four heads (four divisions).

The Ram and the Bear

These animals, on the other hand, are similar:

For both, their two sides are compared and one side is higher than the other. The Bear is “raised up on one side” (Dan 7:5) while the Ram has two horns; one being longer than the other.

Both conquer three others: The Ram pushes in three directions (Dan 8:4—West, North, and South) and the Bear has three ribs between its teeth (Dan 7:5). Since animals symbolize kingdoms, ribs may represent kingdoms or territories conquered.

Conclusions

These comparisons mean that the Ram is equivalent to the Bear and only to the Bear, and that the Bear represents “the kings of Media and Persia” (Dan 8:20):

The two horns of the ram and the two sides of the bear symbolize the composite nature of the kingdom formed by a fusion of “the kings of Media and Persia.”

The ram’s horn that came out last, but became longer, and the higher side of the bear, refers to the Persians. Initially, the Medes dominated Persia, but Cyrus reversed the relationship so that Persia dominated the Medes when their combined forces conquered Babylon.

The three ribs in the Bear’s mouth and the three directions into which the Ram pushes (West, North and South) may reasonably be taken as representing the three major conquests of the combined forces of the Medes and Persians in the sixth century BC: Lydia in the north in 547, Babylon in the west in 539, and Egypt in the south in 525.

THE GOAT

Secondly, is Goat of Daniel 8 the Leopard of Daniel 7, as proposed by the Conservatives, or the fourth Dreadful Beast, as proposed by the Liberals? Compare these beasts:

Goat Leopard Dreadful Beast
From the west;
Not touching the ground;
One conspicuous horn;
Great horn was broken when strong;
Four horns to the four winds
(Dan 8:5, 8)
Four heads;
Four wings; (Dan 7:6)
Terrible & very strong;
Iron teeth;
Bronze claws;
It devoured; broke in pieces;
Stamped residue with its feet;
Different from the other beasts;
Ten horns;
(Dan 7:7, 19)

The Goat and the Dreadful Beast

Contrary to the proposal by the Critics, there is nothing in the descriptions of these two animals that imply that they represent the same entity. To the contrary:

The Goat has only one horn at first and then later four. The Dreadful Beast, on the other hand, first has 10 horns, and then an 11th comes up which ‘plucks out’ three of the 10 horns by their “roots”, leaving 8 horns standing. Since horns symbolize the divisions of these kingdoms, the Goat and the Dreadful Beast are not related.

The Goat and the Leopard

Consistent with the conservative view, these two animals are similar:

Both are represented as fast. The Leopard has four wings while the Goat flies.

Both consist of four parts. The Leopard has four heads, while four horns grow from the Goat’s head.

This implies that the Goat and the Leopard represent the same empire, namely “the kingdom of Greece” (Dan 8:21), or the Macedonian Empire, as it is known. The speed of its conquests refers to the speed by which Alexander the Great conquered the known world (within 10 years). The four heads and four horns symbolize the four Greek Empires that came into existence after Alexander’s death at age 33.

The Horn came out of Rome.

This comparison of the features of the animals of Daniel 7, therefore, shows that:

The Bear = “the kings of Media and Persia” (Dan 8:20), and
The Leopard = “the kingdom of Greece” (Dan 8:21).

This means that the next beast – the dreadful fourth beast of Daniel 7 – must be the Roman Empire and that the little horn in Daniel 7 comes out of this empire. Since the little horns of Daniel 7 and 8 refer to the same entity, the horn cannot be the Greek king Antiochus IV. As for 

MEDIA AND PERSIA

It is also possible to evaluate the validity of the Critics’ separation of the Medes and Persians into two different empires. Critics propose that the author of Daniel inserted the Medes as a separate empire because of the predictions in Isaiah and Jeremiah that Babylon would fall to the Medes. They consequently propose that, according to Daniel, the Neo-Babylonian Empire fell to the Medes under “Darius the Mede” (Dan 5:30-31; 6:28), preceding the reign of the Persian king, Cyrus the Great (Dan 10:1).

Historically, this would not be correct. The Medes were conquered around 550 BCE by the Persians. It was the joint forces of the Persians and the Medes that conquered Babylon eleven years later, with Cyrus the Great as their supreme king.

It is also not consistent with Daniel itself. Daniel consistently viewed the Medes and Persians as a single entity, as indicated by the following:

He prophesied that Babylon would be conquered by the joint forces of the Medes and the Persians (Dan 5:28).

Daniel 6:9, 13, and 16 refer to the unchangeable law of the Medes and the Persians.

He identifies the Ram as “the kings of Media and Persia” (Dan 8:20).

Daniel never refers to a separate Median kingdom. He only refers to a person (Darius) as a Mede (Dan 11:1), but within the context of the Persian Empire (Dan 10:1 and 11:2).

There is also no indication in Daniel of a conflict between the Medes and the Persians which resulted in the dominance of Persia.

Furthermore, the author would be inconsistent in describing both Media and Persia as a single beast in Daniel 8, but as two different animals in Daniel 7 and as two different metals in Daniel 2.

Conclusion: The separation of the Medes and Persians into two different empires is not consistent with the book of Daniel.

WHO WAS DARIUS?

Critics argue that the author of Daniel committed a historical blunder when he referred to Darius the Mede in Dan 5:31-6:28 and in Dan 9:1. They argue that no such figure is known from history and that Daniel mentioned Darius the Mede because he mistakenly thought that the Medes were a distinct empire between the Neo-Babylonian rulers and the Persian king, Cyrus.

In a separate article on this website, it is argued that Darius the Mede might have been the throne name for Ugbaru (Greek Gobryas), the general who conquered Babylon for Cyrus, and who was appointed by Cyrus as king over the “kingdom of the Chaldeans” (Dan 9:1)—one of the kingdoms in the Persian Empire—but who died three weeks after the conquest of Babylon. He ruled only for one week, which explains why archaeologists have not yet found him in recorded history.


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