Decoding Daniel - an in depth Bible study of the book of Daniel

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Daniel 8

Outline and Background - Daniel 8

The Vision of the Ram - Daniel 8:1-4

The Vision of the Goat - Daniel 8:5-8

The Vision of the Little Horn - Daniel 8:9-12

The Time-span of the Host Trampling the Sanctuary - Daniel 8:13-14

The Interpretation of the Vision by Gabriel - Daniel 8:15-27

Application of Daniel 8

The Vision of the Ram - Daniel 8:1-4

“I Daniel had a vision, after that one that had already appeared to me” indicates that the previously recorded visions of the four beasts (chapter 7) were recorded before this vision (Chapter 8). This was done for prophetic and literary purposes.

Daniel was not physically in the citadel of Susa, but transported there in his vision. The prophet Ezekiel had a similar experience in which he was transported in a vision to Jerusalem (Ezekiel 8-10). The fortress of Susa was 230 miles east of Babylon and 120 miles north of the Persian Gulf. It became the royal city of Cyrus and so continued in the time of Xerxes and Esther. Now the city is famous for the Hammurabi Code, a sophisticated ethical and moral law that predated Moses.

The first Babylonian kingdom had seized Susa, the capital of Elam. Susa was destroyed during the Neo-Babylonian Empire by Ashurbanipal in 640 B.C., rebuilt in 521 B.C., and later restored to its greatness by Darius Hystaspis. Susa’s existence as a city is doubtful in 551 B.C. Therefore, Daniel is transported in the vision to the future.

The nine hundred foot-wide artificial Ulai Canal passed near Susa and flowed from the Choaspes (modern Kerkha River). Standing by the Ulai Canal, Daniel sees the vision unfold before him.

I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later. I watched the ram as he charged towards the west and the north and the south. No animal could stand against him, and none could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great.

The ram symbolizes the Medo-Persian alliance. The smaller horn is Media, the longer and later horn is Persia. The detail is similar to the beast that looked like a bear raised up on one side. Persia would become stronger than Media. Cyrus and his Persians came later than Cyaxeres and Astyages of Media. Herodotus relates some blood curdling accounts of Cyrus’ acquirement of the kingdom of the Medes (Histories, Book I, 113130).

The ram was the guardian spirit of Persia. The ram is frequently found on Persian seals and when the king of Persia led his army, he wore the head of a ram instead of a crown. A zodiacal document from the Persian period shows each country represented by an animal. Persia appeared under the ram and Syria under Capricorn, symbolized by a goat. In addition, Babylonian astrological charts show Persia represented by the constellation of the ram and Syria as the goat. In Daniel’s vision, the goat represents Greece.

The three directions the ram charged were the three areas of Medo-Persian expansion: West (Lydia, Ionia, Thrace, and Macedonia); North (Caspians of the Caucasus Range and the Scythians east of the Caspian Sea and the Oxus Valley to the Aral Sea); and South (Babylon and Egypt). Medo-Persian troops were nearly invincible and Cyrus II became arrogant over his universal success. He became known as Cyrus the Great.

Bible Studies by Bob Conway

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