In the First Year of Belshazzar…

The following is a paper written for a seminary class. The prompt was to write a detailed exposition of the vision recorded in Daniel 7.



The prophecies in the book of Daniel are among those most hotly contested regarding authenticity in all the Bible because of their remarkable accuracy in predicting the future. Beyond that, some are also the most difficult to understand because they employ unexplained metaphors to the extreme. The vision in Daniel 7 is one such prophecy. This paper will undertake to accurately summarize the vision, then interpret its various forms, relating the literal meaning behind the forms. Finally, it will give an application of this vision in our current day and age.

Context of the Vision

The vision comes to Daniel in the first year of the reign of king Belshazzar. To the reader, this is slightly disorienting and prompts the question, “Why did the writer put this vision here instead of between chapter’s four and five where it belongs chronologically?” This question is sufficiently answered when we get to the end of the chapter and Daniel tells us that he kept the vision to himself (7:28). The answer, then, may be that Daniel puts these visions, and indeed the entire book, in the order in which he revealed them to the public, not in the order in which he received them or the events occurred. This means that Daniel reveals this vision to the public during the reign of King Cyrus, the Persian (6:28).

This fact is helpful in our interpretation. One might ask, “Why did Daniel wait so long, eleven years at the very least, to record and share this vision?” One answer might be that the vision was so strange that Daniel waited to reveal it until something it prophesied began to happen. It may be dangerous to speculate about the mind of a prophet, but they were definitely under strict rules not to speak unless certain their words were indeed from the Lord (Deut 18:20-22). Perhaps by waiting to see the first change of hands from Babylon to Medo-Persia, Daniel was then confident that the vision was truly from God.

If these suppositions are true, Daniel received the vision in approximately 550 BC, the first year of the reign of Belshazzar King of Babylon, and recorded the vision in approximately 537 BC a few years into the reign of King Cyrus of Persia.

Summary of the Vision

The vision consists of two basic parts, the four beasts and the heavenly courtroom. In the vision of the four beasts Daniel witnesses the four winds of heaven stirring up “the great sea” and four beasts emerge from the sea. Each beast emerges successively each resembling a different animal until the fourth beast which is repeatedly described as “different from the beasts before it” (7:7, 19, 23, 24). This fourth beast is first seen crushing and devouring, then it is noted that it has ten horns, and then another horn arises with eyes and a mouth and pulls up three of the first ten horns by the roots.

A heavenly courtroom is then seen with the Ancient of Days (obviously a reference to God, though unique to the book of Daniel) sitting on a bright throne with a river of fire proceeding from Him. “Myriads upon myriads” and “thousands upon thousands” stand before him, and the court is convened with the opening of “the books.” It is unclear, but it seems to be that the little horn is unaware of this court, or that he does not care, as he continues to boast until the entire beast is slain and its body burned. The other three beasts have their reign removed but life extended. Then a character described as “one like the Son of Man” comes on the clouds before the ancient of days. This one is given an everlasting kingdom and glory from all men.

After these things, Daniel receives an interpretation of the vision from, what we assume, is an angel standing by. The interpretation of these figures as the angel explains them will be discussed in the following sections, if such a section is necessary, followed by a further explanation.

Specific Forms and their Meaning

The Sea

According to the Angel

The vision begins with the stirring up of “the great sea” from “the four winds of heaven” (7:2). The angel provides an interpretation of this that should, at the very least, cause minor confusion. He states that these “four great beasts are four kings who will arise from the earth” (7:17). Why then did they specifically arise from the sea in the vision? The angel does not comment on the four winds of heaven and so the interpretation of this component, specifically mentioned by Daniel, is left up to the reader.

Further Explanation

In answer to the question concerning the sea, the sea is sometimes seen as a source of evil for the Jewish people. In Deuteronomy 28 it was prophesied to the people of Israel that “The LORD will bring you back to Egypt in ships, by the way about which I spoke to you, ‘You will never see it again!’ And there you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but there will be no buyer” (Deut 28:68). This is a reference back to Exodus 14:13 when Moses had promised the Israelites that they would be saved from the Egyptians, just before parting the Reed Sea and using it to destroy the Egyptian army. The use of the sea as a source of evil can also be seen in Revelation 13 and 21. The beast of chapter thirteen comes from the sea, as will be discussed later, and in the new earth, there will be no more sea (Rev 13:1; 21:1). It appears that the sea is just as evil in the Jewish mind as death, hades, and pain itself. It is also a mere matter of geography that the Philistines, one of Israel’s most formidable and long-standing enemies, were a coastal people and they controlled the Mediterranean for much of Israel’s history. The reference to the sea, therefore, might indicate to the Israelite readers that the four beasts would be gentile nations, not Jewish rulers. Also, as Goldingay states, “‘The Great Sea’ elsewhere always denotes the Mediterranean; it is a standard title for it.”[1]

The four winds of heaven may be a reference to the four compass points, north, south, east, and west.[2] Perhaps these four compass points indicate, along with the genitive, “of heaven,” that the source and cause of these beasts is not man-made; it is God. This fits in perfectly with the argument of the book of Daniel: YHWH sets up and takes down kings and kingdoms, and his kingdom will not have an end. He is in absolute control of these events.

The First Beast

Given the similarity of content between this vision and that of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter two, it is reasonable to consider the two visions in parallel and use them to inform one another where appropriate. It is particularly appropriate when considering the literal meaning of the first beast, as Daniel specifically tells King Nebuchadnezzar what the meaning of the first nation, the head of gold, was. “You are the head of gold” (2:38). If Nebuchadnezzar was the head of gold, it makes sense to consider that he might also be the winged lion. The similarities are striking. This also might not be the only place in the Bible where Nebuchadnezzar is compared to both a lion and an eagle.[3]

In Daniel’s summary of the vision he said that the first beast “was like a lion and had the wings of an eagle. [He] kept looking until its wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man; a human mind also was given to it” (7:4).

We know from chapter four that King Nebuchadnezzar was humbled by God, having his kingdom taken from him and being forced to live in the fields like a wild animal. This event seems to correspond to the wings of the lion being plucked. Wings in the Old Testament and in nature serve two purposes: to raise something high, making it swift and powerful, and to use as a shield or covering, a means of providing for those under the winged creature’s care (e.g. Exod 19:4; Deut 32:11; Pss 17:8, 18:10). These two functions are exactly what Nebuchadnezzar lost when his empire was removed from him. He no longer had powerful swift heights as king. He was literally standing high on his roof full of pride in his powerful empire when his kingdom was taken from him (4:29-30).

Through that humbling process, Nebuchadnezzar came to have a true faith in YHWH. He spent seven years living like a wild animal and then his “reason returned to [him]” (4:34). He began praising and worshipping the true God, YHWH. The lion in the vision was made to stand on two feet like a man and a human mind was given to it. There are two things to notice. First, broadly speaking, if the wings being plucked represent Nebuchadnezzar’s empire being removed from him, it makes sense that a restoration or improvement of some kind, like standing on two feet, would represent Nebuchadnezzar’s conversion and restoration.

Second, more specifically, the lion is said to receive a human mind, or more accurately, a human heart.[4] Nebuchadnezzar, when describing his conversion, says that his “reason returned” to him. Put another way, Nebuchadnezzar had faith. It was this coming to faith in YHWH that made him more a man than ever before, man being made in YHWH’s image to begin with (Gen 1:26-27). Just as the lion became more like an image bearer of YHWH, so did Nebuchadnezzar.

The Second Beast

The second beast, “resembled a bear. And it was raised up on one side, and three ribs were in its mouth between its teeth; and thus they said to it, ‘Arise, devour much meat!’” (7:5). The process of determining the identity of this beast is helped by history. Based on the writings of Herodotus, Xenophon, and Ctesias, it is fair to conclude that the Medes and Persians were a untied empire followed Babylon in ruling most of the known world.[5] This is further substantiated when an Angel specifically refers to the “Medo-Persian” empire in chapter eight, referring to the ram with uneven horns. The Medo-Persian empire being the second beast explains at least one, if not both of the specific characteristics of the bear in question.

First, it is raised up on one side. Many debate the meaning of phrase לשטר־חר הקימת but Keil correctly observes that it must be that the bear’s body is raised up on one side, and not that it raised its paw or stood on its hind legs.[6] One side of the body is raised up, and this corresponds surprisingly well with the vision in chapter eight describing a ram with one horn larger than the other. The image in both instances is one of lopsidedness, just as the Persian influence in the Medo-Persian empire was the larger and stronger of the two.

The three “ribs” or “sides” in the bear’s mouth may correspond to the three key cities that Cyrus took in his conquest of the Babylonian Empire: Babylon, Ecbatana, and Borsippa.[7] Goldingay suggests that they may represent three Babylonian kings such as Nebuchadnezzar, Evil-Merodach, and Belshazzar.[8] This suggestion seems less likely and more arbitrary, especially considering the fact that Nebuchadnezzar is mentioned and Nabonidus is not, even though Nabonidus was actually king at the time of the Persian conquest. It may bewise not to ascribe specific meaning to each individual rib, as Calvin did in stating that, “When, therefore, the Prophet speaks of three ribs, it implies the insatiable nature of this beast, since it was not content with a single body, but devoured many men together. For, by ‘many ribs,’ he means much prey. This is the whole sense.”[9] The best interpretation, however, is rarely promoted. The three ribs represent three of the four compass points, west, north, and south on which the Medo-Persian Empire warred in order to expand its boarders, which would correspond to the description of the ram in chapter eight which Daniel saw “butting westward, northward, and southward and no other beast could stand before him” (8:4). The word translated “rib” is more accurately translated “side.”[10] The three sides of the Medo-Persian empire that were the fronts of battle and carnage are the three “ribs” in the bears mouth.

The nature of this beast as the united Medo-Persian empire is not a unanimous interpretation. Many commentators through the ages (e.g. Harrington, Goldingay, Pace) have attributed only the Medes to this beast and the Persians to the third beast, though this seems to leave many features of many of the beasts in the vision unaccounted for. It could also be argued that these interpretations are reached, not because of an unbiased look at history, the relevant context, and the evidence in the visions, but because these commentators wish to force Antiochus IV into the role of “little horn” with the kingdom of the fourth beast. Indeed, the fact that the ram with two horns of uneven length is treated as a singular Medo-Persian empire by the angel who interprets the vision, is strong support for the idea that they should be treated as a singular empire here instead of two separate ones (8:20).

The only notable positive argument which favors dividing the Medes and Persians into empires, and thus, two beasts, is that it explains a bit more succinctly the purpose of the vision. As Pace summarizes “the readers of the author’s day could readily see that they lived in the time period of the fourth beast, Greece, and its little horn, namely, the tyrant Antiochus IV. There can be no question about the fate of the fourth beast; it too will come to an end by the power of God.”[11] Still, this same conclusion could be reached living under any of these beasts. The message of the book remains the same: God will win regardless of the earthly ruler he establishes over you. The readers need not believe the little horn to be Antiochus IV in order to understand this as the intended application.

The Third Beast

The third beast is described as “a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird; the beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it” (7:6). This third beast is undoubtedly Greece. Again the four wings bring to mind the unparalleled swiftness of Alexander the Great’s phalanx system, by which he conquered the Persian Empire in a matter of years. In addition, the four heads of the leopard likely represent the four generals who replaced and divided Alexander’s empire after his death, Cassander, Lysimachus, Ptolemy, and Seleucus. Both of these conclusions are reinforced by the vision in chapter eight. The swiftness represented by the four wings can also be seen in the swiftness of the goat’s approach as he comes from the west “without touching the ground” (8:5). The division of the Greek empire symbolized by the four heads of the leopard can be seen in the four horns of the goat that replaces the one large horn in chapter eight (8:8, 22). If these parallels can be taken to prove that the goat in chapter eight and the leopard in chapter seven are the same nation, then that nation must be Greece, since the angel giving the vision interprets it as such (8:21).

The Fourth Beast

According to the Angel

The fourth beast is the only one of the four which receives an extended and independent treatment by the angel, and it is only at the prompting of Daniel that it comes. After receiving the summary statement from the angel, “These great beasts, which are four, are four kings arising from the earth. But the Holy ones of the Most High will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come” (7:17-18), then Daniel requests more information “desiring to know the exact meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful with its teeth of iron and its claws of bronze, which devoured, crushed, and trampled down the remainder with its feet” (7:19).

The angel responds that “the fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth” (7:23). It is worth noting here that the angel has contradicted himself. Previously he stated that the four beasts were four “kings” who will arise from the earth, and here the fourth beast is called a “kingdom.” Which is it? “King” or “kingdom”? מלקין or מלקו? This inter-changeability suggests that, to the ancient mind, a king was the essence of his kingdom. The word מלך has in its semantic domain “reign” or “kingship”.[12] It means where the king is, there the kingdom is. This idea also helps inform us as Christian readers what Jesus meant when he said that “the kingdom of God is in your midst” (Lk 17:21). He is not necessarily saying that the kingdom of God had been established by his first coming thus binding the reader to a commitment to an already-not-yet interpretation of the kingdom of God; he was making a statement about his nature as king!

The fourth beast is described as “different” six times. שׁנה and its identical Hebrew equivalent, are used relatively infrequently in the Bible, and usually refer to the act of changing or altering a given norm.[13] It is used when Daniel “changed” his appearance pretending to be mad before Abimelech. It is used in Jeremiah describing the fact that Judah “perverted” its ways (i.e. changed God’s law). It frequently describes the change of a person’s face when they experience fear, from colorful to pale (7:28). This fourth beast has “changed” from the first three beasts, making it “different.” The obvious question is, “In what way?”

The ten horns of this beast also prompt confusion. The angel explains, “As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise” (7:24). This prompts other questions such as, “Will all of these kings rule together or will they rule in succession?” and “What nation in history might fulfill this requirement?”

Further Explanation

Identifying the Nation

The only phrase that can possibly be seen as explaining the manner of “difference” between the fourth beast and those preceding would have to be the phrase that repeatedly follows the word, “which devoured, crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet” (7:19b) and “[it] will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it” (7:23b). The devouring and crushing of the whole earth seems to be the intended “difference” about this beast.[14] This might seem inconsequentially “different” from the second and third beasts who are told to “devour much meat” and given “dominion” respectively (7:5-6). The key word in differentiating their actions is “crush” דקק. It deals with finalities. In most of the contexts of its usage it either speaks of an idol being pulverized, such as the golden calf in Exodus 32, or of grain being made into flower. In Daniel, the only other contexts in which the word is used are the actions of the fourth kingdom of iron in the vision from chapter two and of the rock in the vision from chapter two, each of which crushes all of the other kingdoms in the statue. It is also used of the lions who crush the bones of the families of the men who accused Daniel of blasphemy against Darius in chapter six. When something is crushed in this way, it no longer exists. This makes the extension of life granted to the first three kingdoms all the more interesting. Might this be an appearance of the common biblical theme, salvation by means of resurrection?

The question, “What nation in history can this be?” can only be logically answered one way: Rome. Rome is the nation that most closely followed the divided Grecian empire that could also be described as a powerful devouring nation with teeth of iron. Another factor in this interpretive conclusion is that the iron of the teeth and the fact that it is described as crushing and trampling correlates this nation with the fourth nation from the vision of the statue in chapter two, the legs of iron. Both are said to be “extremely strong,” “devour, crush, and trample,” and have iron components (2:40; 7:7). Whatever is said of this beast/nation must fit logically and historically with the description of the iron legs nation as well.

Revelation 13 as a Shared Referent

We as Christian readers can add a layer of complexity to our interpretation that the original audience could not, because we have further revelation. The language in Daniel 7 brings to mind a few key passages in the New Testament, namely, Revelation 12, 13, and 17. These chapters are the only others in the Bible where the phrase “ten horns” appears. This uniqueness allows the 21st century interpreter to use Revelation to inform his understanding of Daniel 7.

In Revelation 12 and 13, a beast like a dragon is seen having seven heads and ten horns. This dragon interacts with a woman, Israel, just as she gives birth to a male child who will rule all the nations. The dragon is unsuccessful in snatching the child, and the child is caught up to God and to his throne. This is a clear description of the First Coming. At the beginning of chapter thirteen, another beast comes up out of the sea with seven heads and ten horns, and then is described as “like a leopard” “like a bear” and “like…a lion.” This passage and Hosea 13 are the only other passages in the Bible that mention these three animals together, and this passage links them with a beast that has ten horns, just as Daniel 7. This beast in chapter thirteen is later seen in chapter seventeen of Revelation. These and other similarities present a convincing case that the referent in each case is the exact same nation/ruler. This case will be discussed in more detail under the sub-head “The Little Horn.”

If, for the moment, we assume that the beast in Revelation 13 and 17 represents the same nation or ruler as that of the beast in Daniel 7 and the iron legs and iron-clay feet in Daniel 2, then the following logical steps follow. (1) The beast of Revelation 13 and 17 is not finally dealt with or removed from earth until chapter nineteen, which describes the second coming of Christ in graphic detail. (2) Since the second coming of Christ has not yet occurred in history, the nation represented by the beast in Revelation 13 and 17 has not yet been removed from earth, nor even seen on earth. (3) If the Revelation 13 and 17 beast represents the same king/kingship/nation as that of the Daniel 7 beast and the Daniel 2 legs of iron, then a gap of time must exist, in which we live, somewhere between the end of the Greek nation/beast/metal, and this final nation with ten kings/horns/toes. (3) If a gap of time does exist, there must be plausible linguistic justification for its existence in each of the relevant texts, or at the very least, no clear linguistic prevention of a gap of time somewhere between those two markers.

Linguistic Justification in Daniel 7 and 2

In Daniel 7, the linguistic justification for a gap of time occurs in both the summary and the interpretation of the vision. In the summary a waw disjunctive introduces the passive participial phrase “and it was being changed from all the beasts before it, and ten horns were given to it.”[15] This waw disjunctive would indicate that a gap of time exists between the time when this nation is just a beast that devours and crushes, and when it is a beast that devours and crushes with ten horns on it. If this is correct, it also solves the problem of locating ten kings in the history of Rome or Greece who fit this form: they haven’t yet come to power. Similarly, in the angel’s interpretation of the fourth beast, he begins a new phrase when discussing the ten horns of the beast. Another waw disjunctive introduces verse 24, “And the ten horns: from this kingdom ten kings will arise.” Even the plain English rendering leaves room for a possible gap of time between the original kingdom and the ten kings arising.

In Daniel 2 there are two linguistic cues that occur in Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream that allow for a gap of time. First, verse 41 begins with a complex conjunction and introductory phrase “and in that you saw…” וְדִֽי־חֲזַ֜יְתָה, where all of the previous verses were introduced by a simple waw + noun construction. This switch from “and a kingdom” to “and in that you saw…” at the very least allows the possibility for a gap of time. Second, in describing the divided kingdom of clay and iron that is the feet and toes, Daniel repeats the phrase “you saw” חֲזַ֜יְתָה three times, and uses it a fourth when describing the rock that crushes the statue. This switch from a simple statement of future events, as in “After you there will arise” (2:39) and “then there will be a fourth” (2:40) to the more complex past tense for future events, “and you saw…” (2:41, 43, 45) allows for the idea that these future events belong to a segment of time much farther in the future, after a gap of time between the legs of iron and the feet of mixed iron and clay.

This would mean that the description of a divided kingdom that does not adhere to one another from 2:43, and the description of a kingdom under the little horn who interacts with the Holy ones of the Most High in chapter seven, are all descriptions of a yet future kingdom and ruler. These conclusions are all predicated upon properly demonstrating that the beast of Revelation 13 and 17 has the exact same ruler/nation in mind as a referent, as the little horn of chapter seven has. This case will now be made.

The Little Horn

There are three descriptions of the actions of the little horn, the first two coming from Daniel’s summaries, the third coming from the angel. The following actions of the little horn can be clearly gleaned from Daniel’s summaries in 7:8-12 and 7:20-22: (1) It comes up among the first ten horns. (2) Three of the first ten horns are pulled up as a result of the little horn coming up. (3) It has a very boastful mouth. (4) It is destroyed and burned with the beast to which it is attached, after the books are opened in the heavenly court scene. (5) Though it begins small, it becomes larger than the other horns. (6) It wages war with “the saints” and wins. (7) Its terror is stopped by the coming of the ancient of days and the giving of the kingdom to “the saints of the Highest One.”

According to the Angel

The angel’s explanation of the ten horns and the little horn in 7:24-27 reveal other facts about this character: (1) The ten horns are ten kings from the nation of the beast (Rome), and the little horn is an eleventh. (2) His boasts will be against the Most High. (3)He will intend to make changes in the dates and law.[16] (4) “The saints” will be under his control for three and a half years.[17] (5) The final destruction of this horn will be at the heavenly court room scene. (6) After his destruction, the Son of Man’s everlasting kingdom will be established.

Given this further information from the angel, the interpreter has enough reason to compare this text with various texts from Revelation that use similar or identical language to describe a character it calls “the beast.”

Further Explanation

As previously stated, Revelation 12-13 relate a stand-alone vision given to John in the midst of the grander vision of the tribulation. In this smaller vision, a dragon causes another character, “the beast,” to rise from the sea. He performs signs and wonders, wages war, and causes the world to worship the dragon. There are several key factors about this Revelation 13 “beast,” which are gleaned from Revelation 13:1-7, 17:8-18, and 19:17-20:6, that justify an identical referent with the Daniel 7 “little horn”:

(1) The beast has 10 horns. (2) It speaks boastful or arrogant words. (3) It is given authority for 3 and a half years.[18] (4) It speaks blasphemies against God. (5) It makes war with “the saints” and is victorious over them. (6) All of the world worships it, which aligns with the horn becoming larger than its companions. (7) Its earthly power is taken away at the second coming. (8) After it is burned, then the kingdom is given to Christ and his saints.

These remarkable similarities of action make it almost ludicrous to suggest that these two symbolic characters, “the beast” of Revelation 13 and 17 and “the little horn” of Daniel 7, do not refer to the same historical figure.

The question may then be asked, “Has any historical figure appeared on earth to fulfill all of these requirements?” The common suggestion of Antiochus IV is invalid, because Revelation was written well after the actions of Antiochus IV and it speaks of the beast in the context of predictive prophecy. The identity of this “little horn” must be a person who lives after Revelation was written.[19] No Roman emperor to date fits these qualifications either, particularly the qualification of coming up in the midst of ten other kings. Since the destruction of this historical figure coincides with the Second Coming, and no Christian asserts that the Second Coming has already occurred, then all Christians should assert that this historical figure must be a world leader who has not yet come to power and who will be destroyed at the Second Coming.

The Heavenly Court Scene

The heavenly court scene is also seen in both Daniel and Revelation. There are two key phrases in Daniel 7 that relate to Revelation 5 and Revelation 20. In describing the Ancient of Days’s courtroom, Daniel says that “Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, and myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; the court sat, and the books were opened” (7:10).

In Revelation 5, a heavenly courtroom is presented in greater detail, in which the one sitting on the throne holds a single book, or scroll, with seven seals. John “heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands” (Rev 5:11).[20]

In Revelation 20 we see another throne room, this time described as “great” and “white.” When this court sits, “the books” are opened. Again, this court scene provides much more description than that of Daniel. In this scene, not only are the books opened, but another book, the book of life, is present.

An apparent problem presents itself in looking at these three texts, Daniel 7, Revelation 5, and Revelation 20 together. The two Revelation court scenes are separated by 1,000 years, and yet Daniel seems to view them occurring at one time. Furthermore, in Daniel 7, the books are opened just before the fourth beast is destroyed and burned, which we have said relates to the Revelation 13 and 17 beast being cast into the lake of fire. However, in Revelation 20, the books are opened 1,000 years after the Revelation 13 and 17 beast is burned. Also, in Daniel the order of the events is: (D1) books are opened, (D2) fourth beast burned, (D3) Second Coming of Son of Man on clouds, (D4) Son of Man receives everlasting kingdom. But, in Revelation the order of events is (R1) Second Coming, (R2) Revelation 13 and 17 beast burned, (R3) Christ receives his 1,000 year kingdom (R4) books and the book of life are opened. How can this be reconciled?

The word choice in the presentation of these facts should reasonably reconcile these issues to a degree. The opening of books in Daniel 7 and burning of the fourth beast must be a separate and prior event to the heavenly courtroom in Revelation 20 and the burning of the Revelation 13 and 17 beast. Two different courts convened for two different purposes and two different burnings of two different things. The Daniel 7 beast is burned, but the “little horn” is not mentioned as destroyed. Here we reacquire a distinction between kingdom and king. The king of the Daniel 7 beast, the “little horn” is burned just after the second coming, but the beast itself, the nation, is burned in the first courtroom scene with the first opening of books. This would mean that of the eight events listed above, the only two that describe the same event are the two related to the Second Coming. The actual order of all the events would be as follows: D1, D2, D3&R1, R2, R3, R4, D4.


Regardless of how these events are parsed out and interpreted, regardless of what the identity of each figure is in the historical global theater is, the end result is the same, and the point of the passage remains: God wins. In the end, Christ will establish an everlasting kingdom and it will be a marvelous thing. The message of hope to the original readers is the same message of hope to modern readers: trust in the Ancient of Days, the Son of Man, the Most High, YHWH. For it is only by faith in Him that you might be spared. The application is to reaffirm and strengthen one’s faith in the God who establishes and deposes kings, whose kingdom is coming of which there will be no end. Trust in Him.





Calvin, Jean, and Thomas Myers. Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Daniel, Vol. 2. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Goldingay, John. Daniel. Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1989.

Hill, Andrew E. “Daniel,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol 8, Daniel-Malachi. Eds., Tremper Longman III and David Garland. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008.

Ironside, H. A. Daniel. Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux, 1996.

Keil, C.F.  “Ezekiel, Daniel” in Commentary on the Old Testament, Vol 9. Eds., C.F. Keil and F. Delitzch. Trans., James Martin and M.G. Easton. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2011.

Pace, Sharon. Daniel. Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2008.


[1] John Goldingay, Daniel (Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1989), 160.

[2] Andrew E. Hill, “Daniel,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol 8, Daniel-Malachi, ed. Tremper Longman III and David Garland (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 134.

[3] Jeremiah 49:19-22, when discussing the judgment of Edom, which historically we know was at the hands of Babylon, Jeremiah says that one “will come up like a lion out of the Jordan” and that he will “mount up and swoop like an eagle and spread out his wings against Bozrah.”

[4] לבב is most commonly translated “heart.”

[5] While all of the ancient historians differ in their accounts of the fall of Babylon, it is clear that Cyrus the Persian played a large role in the conquest of the Babylonian Empire. Xenophon’s Cyropaedia, Herodotus’s Histories, and Ctesias’s History of Persia all give accounts that roughly affirm the Biblical account of the fall of Babylon to Persia recorded in chapter five. Herodotus’s account in particular aligns with the biblical record remarkably well in 1.190-191.

[6] C.F. Keil, “Ezekiel, Daniel” in Commentary on the Old Testament, vol 9, ed. C.F. Keil and F. Delitzch, trans. James Martin and M.G. Easton (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2011), 639.

[7] H. A. Ironside, Daniel (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux, 1996), 92.

[8] Goldingay, 163.

[9] Jean Calvin and Thomas Myers, Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Daniel, vol. 2 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software), 16.

[10] This conclusion is made on the basis of the Hebrew equivalent צֵלַע . The Aramaic word עֲלַע occurs only here in the Biblical canon. The Hebrew equivalent, however, often refers to the sides of a building or room (HALOT, II.2a).

[11] Sharon Pace, Daniel (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2008), 230.

[12] HALOT, I.1.

[13] HALOT Aramaic,

[14] There is one occurrence of this where this likely is not the intended meaning. It is discussed in the sub-heading “Lingustic Justification in Daniel 7 and 2.”

[15] Original translation with words in italics added for smoother reading. “Being changed” is a fair rendering of the participle מְשַׁנְּיָ֗ה according to HAL Aramaic, שׁנה,

[16] זְמָן is the word usually translated “times” here, but is most often used in the context of appointed or set-apart times, as opposed to a synonym for “year.” cf. Ezra 5:3; Dan 2:12; 16; 3:8

[17] עִדָן is the word translated “time” in the phrase “time, times, and half a time” (7:25) and usually refers to a period of time set by the movements of nature, i.e. a year. See HALOT Aramaic I.-2.

[18] The text specifically says “forty-two months,” which is exactly three and a half years.

[19] Even using the earliest and likely erroneous dates for the writing of revelation, 60AD, no historical figure fits the criteria.

[20] These two places are the only ones in scripture where “thousand” χιλιάς and “myriad” μυριάς are each repeated and used together.

Leave a Comment