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And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse 3 one from another. The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were pluckt, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it.
However, that sense is not to be pressed here; the 'great sea,' tossed up by the four winds of heaven, symbolizes the agitated world of nations (cf. v. 3 with v. 17; and comp. Rev. xvii. 15: also Is. xvii. 12).
3. came up from the sea] Cf. Rev. xiii. 1; 2 Esdr. xi. 1, xiii. 3 (R.V.).
4. The first beast.
eagle's wings] The ‘eagle' (nesher) of the O.T., as Tristram has shewn (Nat. Hist. of the Bible, p. 172 ff.), is properly a vulture,-though not the ordinary carrion vulture, but the Griffon-Vulture, or Great Vulture, a "majestic bird, most abundant, and never out of sight, whether on the mountains or the plains of Palestine. Everywhere it is a feature in the sky, as it circles higher and higher, till lost to all but the keenest sight, and then rapidly swoops down again" (Smith's Dict. of the Bible, ed. 2, i. 815).
were pluckt] were plucked off.
lifted up from the earth] on which, as an animal, it had been lying.
upon the feet] upon two feet.
a man's heart] i.e. a man's intelligence: cf. on iv. 16.
The first beast was like a lion, with the wings of the Griffon-Vulture: it combined consequently the characteristics of the noblest of quadrupeds and of one of the most majestic of birds-the indomitable strength of the lion, and the power of the vulture to soar securely on high, to descry its prey from afar, and to alight unerringly upon it. It corresponds to the head of gold in Nebuchadnezzar's dream (ii. 32, 38), and denotes, analogously to that, the Babylonian empire (comp. the simile of the lion applied to Nebuchadnezzar in Jer. xlix. 19, and that of the Griffon-Vulture to either Nebuchadnezzar, or his armies, in Jer. xlix. 22; Hab. i. 8; Ez. xvii. 3 (see v. 12); Lam. iv. 19). After a time however a change passes over the figure. Its wings are taken away, i.e. it is deprived of the power of flight; its rapidity of conquest is stopped; nevertheless it is lifted up into an erect position, and receives both the form and intelligence of a man. It seems that Ewald, Keil, Pusey (p. 69 f.) and others are right in seeing here an allusion to what is narrated in ch. iv.: the empire is regarded as personified in its head; in Nebuchadnezzar's loss of reason its powers were crippled: during this time he is described (iv. 16) as having a beast's heart; afterwards, when his reason returned, and he glorified God (iv. 34, 37), he gave proof that he possessed the heart (intelligence) of a man; the animal (i.e. heathen) character of the empire disappeared, and it was, so to say, humanized in the person of its representative.
5 And behold, another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus 6 unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back
5. The second beast.
like to a bear] The bear is a voracious1 animal, living indeed principally upon roots, bulbs, fruits, and other vegetable products, but, especially when pressed by hunger, ready to attack both the smaller wild and domestic animals, and even man2. In the O.T. it is spoken of as being, next to the lion, the most formidable beast of prey known in Palestine (1 Sam. xvii. 34; Am. v. 19; cf. 2 Ki. ii. 24; Hos. xiii. 8); at the same time it is inferior to the lion in strength and appearance, and is heavy and ungainly in its movements. The kingdom denoted by it corresponds to the 'silver' kingdom of ii. 32, which was 'inferior' (ii. 39) to that of Nebuchadnezzar, i.e. the empire of the Medes; as was pointed out on ii. 39, the book of Daniel represents the Chaldæan empire as succeeded not immediately by Cyrus, but by a Median ruler, Darius.
it had raised up one side] This is the Massoretic reading; R. V. it was raised up on one side, follows a reading (implying a change of only one point) found in some MSS. and editions, but possessing less authority. The two readings do not however differ materially in meaning; though what either is intended to denote cannot be said to be altogether clear. Perhaps, on the whole, the most probable view is that the trait is intended to indicate the animal's aggressiveness: it is pictured as raising one of its shoulders, so as to be ready to use its paw on that side. (The rendering of A.V. and R.V. marg., 'raised up one dominion,' implies shetar for setar; and is not probable.)
and it had three ribs, &c.] as the prey which it had seized. Those who regard the bear as symbolizing the Medo-Persian empire generally suppose the three ribs to denote Lydia, Babylonia, and Egypt, three prominent countries conquered, the first two by Cyrus, and the third by Cambyses; but it is quite possible that the ribs in the creature's mouth are meant simply as an indication of its voracity, and are not intended as an allusion to three particular countries absorbed by the empire which it represents.
and they said] or, and it was said: see on iv. 25.
Arise, devour much flesh] as its nature would prompt it to do. The Medes are the people whom the Heb. prophets of the exile represent as summoned to destroy Babylon (Is. xiii. 17, xxi. 2; Jer. li. 11, 28); and Is. xiii. 17, 18 gives a graphic picture of the insolence and cruelty of their attack.
6. The third beast. A leopard.
upon the back of it] The Aram. word means both back and side;
1 Arist. H. N. VIII. 5 паμдáyov (with reference, as the explanation following shews, to its eating fruits, roots, &c., as well as flesh).
2 See many illustrations from different authorities collected by Bochart, Hieros. III. ix. (ii. 138 ff., ed. Leipz. 1794).
of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the 7 night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the
and, as the Heb. text (K’tib) has the mark of the plural, perhaps we ought to render on its sides (so Bevan, Behrmann).
of a fowl] i.e., as we should now say, of a bird.
The leopard is a fierce, carnivorous animal, remarkable for the swiftness and agility of its attack (cf. Hab. i. 8, where the horses of the Chaldæans are said to be 'swifter than leopards'). It is particularly dangerous to cattle; and "specially noted for the patience with which it waits, extended on the branch of a tree, or a rock near a wateringplace, expecting its prey, on which it springs with a deadly precision. Hence Hos. xiii. 7, 'as a leopard by the way will I observe them'; Jer. v. 6" (G. E. Post, in Hastings' Dict. of the Bible, s. v.).
Here the four wings upon the leopard's back indicate that it is invested with more than ordinary agility of movement; while the four heads, looking, it may be presumed, towards the four quarters of the earth, are meant apparently to indicate that the empire which it symbolised was to extend in every direction1. It was thus a fit emblem of the Persian empire, the founder of which, Cyrus, astonished the world by the extent and rapidity of his conquests.
and dominion was given to it] emphasizing the vastness of its rule: cf. ii. 39, where the corresponding empire is described as 'ruling over all the earth.'
7, 8. The fourth beast.
7. dreadful and terrible] The same two words occur in combination in the Targ. of Hab. i. 7, 'terrible and dreadful are they.' The rendering of the second word in R.V., powerful, follows a slightly different reading ('emtānī for 'êmtānī), found in some editions, but less well attested and less probable (it would be a ära eipnμévov in Aram., and explicable only from the Arabic).
and stamped the residue with the feet of it] in wanton destructiveness and ferocity.
and it was diverse, &c.] Each of the beasts was 'diverse' from the others (v. 3); but the terrible appearance of this differentiated it materially from the other three, and placed it in a class by itself. The fourth beast has, moreover, no name; for no one creature, or even combination of creatures (as the lion with vulture's wings in v. 4), could adequately represent it; only words expressive of terribleness, ferocity, and might are accumulated for the purpose of characterizing it. The empire meant (if the two preceding ones are explained correctly)
1 So at least Keil, Meinhold, Behrmann. Others, however, as von Lengerke, Ew., Hitz., Delitzsch, Kuenen, Bevan, Prince, think that the four heads denote the four kings of Persia referred to in xi. 2.
8 beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns pluckt up by the roots and behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
will be that of Alexander the Great: comp. viii. 5, 21, xi. 3. Cf. the description of the fourth kingdom in ii. 40, as 'strong as iron,' and 'breaking in pieces and bruising.'
and it had ten horns] A horn is commonly in the O.T. the figure of strength to attack and repel (e.g. Deut. xxxiii. 17; Mic. iv. 13); but in the imagery of Daniel's visions it represents either a king (see v. 24; and cp. viii. 5, 8 a, 9, 21), or a dynasty of kings (viii. 3, 6, 7, 86, 20, 22), rising up in, or out of, the empire symbolized by the creature to which the horn belongs. Here the reference is apparently to the ten successors of Alexander on the throne of Antioch (see more fully the Additional Note, p. 101). Cf. the 'ten toes of the feet' in the corresponding part of ch. ii. (vv. 41, 42).
8. I considered the horns, and] I was contemplating the horns, when, &c. The force of the verb is apparent from its use in the Targ. of Onk., as Ex. iii. 6, he feared to gaze upon the glory of Jehovah,' and Num. xxi. 9, when he looked attentively at (or contemplated) the serpent of brass.'
another little horn, &c.] R.V. (avoiding a possible ambiguity in the English) another horn, a little one, before which, &c. With 'little' cf. viii. 9. No doubt the meaning is, little in its beginning, but soon increasing in power, till three of the first horns were rooted up from before it. If the fourth beast symbolizes the empire of Alexander, the 'little horn' will be Antiochus Epiphanes, whose persecution of the Jews (B.C. 168-165) forms certainly the subject of viii. 10-14, 24, 25, and xi. 31-33, and who, in viii. 9 (see viii. 23), is also represented by a 'little horn." The descriptions at the end of the present verse, and in vv. 21, 25, also suit Antiochus Epiphanes. For further particulars respecting the events of his reign, see the notes on xi. 21 ff., 30—35, 36 ff., and p. 194 f.
and behold, in this horn, &c.] Another marvel: the horn had the eyes and mouth of a man. The eyes like the eyes of a man imply the faculty of keen observation and insight, and so indirectly the possession of intellectual shrewdness.
and a mouth speaking great things] i. e. proud, presumptuous things, especially against God, or His people. Cf. Ps. xii. 3, 'the tongue that speaketh great things,' Obad. 12, lit. 'neither make thy mouth great, Rev. xiii. 5, where the beast with ten horns is given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies.' Comp. xi. 36, where it is said of Antiochus Epiphanes that he will 'speak marvellous things against the God of gods'; and 1 Macc. i. 24, where it is stated that, after despoiling the Temple (B.C. 170), he went away, and 'spake great pre sumptuousness” (ἐλάλησεν ὑπερηφανίαν μεγάλην).
I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the 9 Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.
9-14. The judgement on the Gentile powers. The scene is majestically conceived. Thrones are set for the heavenly powers, the assessors of the Judge: the Almighty Himself appears in the likeness of an aged man, seated on a throne of flame: angels in countless myriads stand in attendance around Him: and the books recording the deeds of the Gentile rulers are opened. The four beasts are given over to destruction: while a figure in human form is brought before the Almighty in the clouds of heaven, and receives from Him an everlasting dominion.
9. till thrones were placed (R.V.)] for the angelic assessors of the Judge, who are not further mentioned, but who are naturally to be distinguished from the hosts which 'stand,' ministering before Him, in V. 10. A. V. means, 'till the thrones of the Gentile powers were overthrown'; but the rendering of RV. is much preferable. Exactly the same expression occurs in the Targ. of Jer. i. 15, and they shall cast down (i.e. set down, place) each his throne in front of the gates of Jerusalem.'
the Ancient of days] The expression does not mean what the English words seem to imply, one who had existed from the days of eternity; it means simply an aged man; and the R.V., one that was ancient of days, is meant to indicate this. Exactly the same expression occurs in the Syriac version of Wisd. ii. 10 for an 'old man,' and in Ecclus. xxv. 4 (in the plural) for 'elders.' 'What Daniel sees is not the eternal God Himself, but an aged man, in whose dignified and impressive form God reveals Himself: cf. Ez. i. 26' (Keil).
his raiment was white as snow] symbolizing purity (Is. i. 18; Ps. li. 7). The white hair would have the same symbolism, though this would be natural independently in an aged man. The imagery of Rev. i. 14 is derived from the present passage.
like pure wool] The imagery of the visions in the Book of Enoch is based largely upon that of the present passage of Daniel. With the words quoted, cf. Enoch xlvi. 1 (cited below, p. 106), and lxxi. 10.
his throne was fiery flames, and the wheels thereof burning fire] in accordance with the usual representation of God as surrounded by, or manifested in, fire, the most immaterial of elements, and at the same time the agency best suited to represent symbolically His power to destroy all that is sinful or unholy: cf.-in different connexionsGen. xv. 17; Ex. iii. 2; Numb. xvi. 35; Deut. iv. 24; Ps. xviii. 12, 13, 1. 3, xcvii. 3; Is. xxx. 27; Ez. i. 4, 13, x. 2, 6, 7 (fire between the cherubim supporting the Divine throne), i. 27, viii. 2 (fire representing the Divine form). With the description itself, comp. also Enoch xiv. 18-22 (in the Greek text, p. 347 of Charles' edition): 'And I beheld, and saw a lofty throne...And underneath the throne there came forth rivers of flaming fire; and I could not look thereon. And the Great