The previous three articles gave an overview 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-king in that chapter represents the same entity as the horn-king in Daniel 7. That article also compared the Preterist, Historicist and Futurist interpretation of this evil power but this not identify it.
The purpose of the current article is to show that the evil king-horn arises out of the Roman Empire.
There are two animals in Daniel 8 and they are explicitly identified as “the kings of Media and Persia” (Dan 8:20) and as “the kingdom of Greece” (Dan 8:21). The current article identifies the animals of Daniel 7 by comparing them to the animals of Daniel 8:
There is no similarity between the Ram and the Leopard. To the contrary, the Ram has two divisions, while the Leopard has four.
There is also no similarity between the Goat and the Dreadful Beast. On the contrary, the Goat first has only one horn and then later four. The Dreadful Beast, on the other hand, 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 both 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 refer to the same entity, the horn cannot be the Greek king Antiochus IV.
The Medes a Separate Kingdom?
Critical scholars 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. This is not consistent with history and it is also not consistent with Daniel itself. Daniel always refers to the Medes and Persians as a single entity. For example, he identifies the ram as “the kings of Media and Persia” (Dan 8:20).
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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|
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.
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 horns of Daniel 7 and 8 also as Antiochus IV. But Antiochus was a Greek king. This means that the fourth kingdom in Daniel 7 (the dreadful beast) must be the Greek Empire. This means that the alignment of the Bear and the Leopard to the Babylonian and Greek empires becomes a problem. Critical scholars solve this problem by dividing the Mede-Persian Empire into two separate empires and by aligning 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 is “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 how they are described, and evaluate the similarities:
|Two horns—one higher (Dan 8:3);
Higher horn came out last (Dan 8:3);
Charges to West, North, and South (Dan 8:4);
|Raised up on one side (Dan 7:5);
Three ribs between its teeth (Dan 7:5)
|Four heads (Dan 7:6);
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.
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.
Secondly, does Goat of Daniel 8 agree with the Leopard of Daniel 7, as proposed by the conservatives, or with the fourth Dreadful Beast, as proposed by the liberals?
|From the west (Dan 8:5);
Not touching the ground (Dan 8:5);
One conspicuous horn (Dan 8:5);
Great horn was broken when strong (Dan 8:8);
Four horns to the four winds (Dan 8:8)
|Four heads (Dan 7:6);
Four wings (Dan 7:6);
|Terrible & very strong (Dan 7:7);
Iron teeth (Dan 7:7);
Bronze claws (Dan 7:19);
It devoured; broke in pieces (Dan 7:7);
Stamped residue with its feet (Dan 7:7);
Different from the other beasts (Dan 7:7);
Ten horns (Dan 7:7);
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 “pluck out” three of the ten 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.
Animals of Daniel 7
This comparison of the features of the animals of Daniel 7, therefore, shows that:
The Bear represents “the kings of Media and Persia” (Dan 8:20), and
The Leopard represents “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.
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.
But 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 (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 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 to describe both Media and Persia by 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.
Darius the Mede
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. The argument runs as follows:
Although no such figure is known from history, Daniel’s reference to him allowed for a separate Median kingdom between the Neo-Babylonian rulers, Nabonidus and Belshazzar, on the one hand, and the Persian king, Cyrus, on the other.
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.
NEXT: The next article supports the identification of the small horn by analyzing the phrase “Out of One of Them.”
- Daniel, 2, 7, 8, and 11 – List of Articles
- Daniel 9 – List of articles
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