And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a
bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three
ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, “Get up and
eat your fill of flesh!”
The Medo-Persian Empire followed the Babylonian Empire.
It was like a huge lumbering bear with its enormous
movements of troops. This is an apt description of the
military under Cyrus and Cambyses. Xerxes utilized two and
half million fighting men against Greece. Medo-Persia’s
massive armies won due to their weight of numbers. The
military of this empire devoured much flesh. It was a
grisly and destructive force. However, the bear is less
majestic and swift than either a lion or eagle. The
Antichrist is depicted as a beast with “feet like those of
a bear and a mouth like that of a lion” (Revelation 13:2).
Persia, the more powerful of the two nations, is
represented by the higher side of the bear. This
lopsidedness symbolizes the comparative strength of the
Persians to the Medes.
The three ribs stand for three great powers that were
overcome by the beast: Lydia in Asia Minor under King
Croesus (546 B.C.); Babylon under Nabonidus and Belshazzar
(539 B.C.); and Egypt under Psamitk III (525 B.C.). In
addition, the three ribs typify the absorbing of their
cultures into the Medo-Persian Empire.
Interestingly, the second beast is told to “get up and
eat your fill of flesh” after conquering these three
powers. Medo-Persia was noted for its insatiable desire
The second beast has been called “the continental
divide” between conservative scholars and rationalistic
critics, who maintain that the second beast is Median, the
third beast Persian, and the fourth beast Grecian. The
rationalistic view denies predictions and holds that the
prophecies of the book of Daniel were written after the
fact. This view definitely clashes with the scope of the
book as well as its other dreams and visions.