Book of Daniel Chapter 7:7-18 Antique Commentary Quotes

Pulpit Commentary


After this I saw in the 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 beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. The version of the LXX. differs considerably, though not essentially, “After these things I beheld in a night vision a fourth terrible beast, and the fear of it excelled in strength; it had great iron teeth, it devoured and pounded down; it trode round about with its feet; it differed from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns, and many counsels were in its horns.” The sense of this does not really differ, save in the last clause, which seems to belong to the next verse. Theodotion agrees with the Massoretic text. The Peshitta differs only by having” after these things,” following the LXX; instead of “after this.” The identification of the empire intended by this beast has been the crux of interpreters. Practically all ancient authorities—Josephus, and the author of the Apocalypse of Baruch being among the number—maintain the Roman Empire to be meant. On the other hand, a very large number of modern critics, not merely of the exclusively critical school, have held that it refers either to the Greek Empire as a whole, or to the Seleucid portion of it. As we shall discuss this subject in a separate excursus, we shall at present look at the principles to be adopted in dealing with such a question. The important point is the numerical note of this “beast.” It is “ten”—the same it may be remarked, as in the feet of the image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. When we turn from the Apocalypse of the Old Testament to the Apocalypse of the New, we find “ten” the note of Rome. Even though we should put this to the one side, as merely the opinion of an apostle, and therefore not to be considered at all in comparison with that of Hitzig or Von Lengerke, yet he was writing little more than a couple of centuries from the time when, according to critics, Daniel was written; moreover, he was in the direct line of apocalyptic tradition. The Apocalypse of Baruch, written in all probability b.c. 60, has the same view, and it is separated by little more than a century from the time of the Maccabees. The Fourth Book of Esdras, written about a.d. 80, has the same view. All three books imply that it is the universally received opinion. This view is really the only one that fairly meets the case. The view which separates the Seleucid Empire from that of Alexander may be laid aside, although the first three empires are correctly interpreted, because it is directly controverted by the statement that this fourth empire is to be diverse from all that had gone before. The empire of the Seleucids was in no sense diverse from that of Alexander. This fourth empire was to be stronger than all that had gone before. The Seleucid Empire was notoriously and obviously less powerful than the empire of Alexander had been, and was merely a match for the empire of the Ptolemies. Further, the next chapter shows that the writer of Daniel regarded the empire of the Diadochi as really a continuation of that of Alexander the Great. The other view rests on a division between the Median and the Persian empires, which is contradicted by any fair interpretation of this book. The next chapter shows clearly that the writer regarded the Medo-Persian power as one, but as having two dominant races. The” great iron teeth” of the beast have a reference to the iron legs of the dream-image which appeared to Nebuchadnezzar. This beast “is diverse from all the beasts that were before it.” In all the previous empires, the constitution was avowedly monarchical. With the Roman, the republican constitution appeared, and even under the emperors the forms of that constitution were preserved. In this sense it was diverse from all the preceding empires. Mr. Bevan thinks “the actrocious massacres at Tyro and elsewhere, by which Alexander endeavoured to strike terror into the conquered races,” is symbolized by the monster “devouring, crushing,” etc. Mr. Bevan must never have read the accounts of the conquests of Asshur-bani-pal. He seems to have forgotten the treatment meted out to Samos and Miletus by the Persian

Cambridge Bible Driver

Daniel 7:7

7. dreadful and terrible] The same two words occur in combination in the Targ. of Hab_1:7, ‘terrible and dreadful are they.’ The rendering of the second word in R.V., powerful, follows a slightly different reading (’emtânî for ’êmtânî), found in some editions, but less well attested and less probable (it would be a ἅπαξ εἰρημένον 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 (Dan_7:3); 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 Dan_7:4), 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) will be that of Alexander the Great: comp. Dan_8:5; Dan_8:21, Dan_11:3. Cf. the description of the fourth kingdom in Dan_2:40, 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. Deu_33:17; Mic_4:13); but in the imagery of Daniel’s visions it represents either a king (see Dan_7:24; and cp. Dan_8:5; Dan_8:8 a, 9, 21), or a dynasty of kings (Dan_8:3; Dan_8:6-8 b, 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. 2 (Dan_2:41-42).

Pulpit Commentary


I considered the horns, and,behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things. The Septuagint Version, if we consider it a rendering of the Massorotic, begins really with the words which are made in it the last clause of the preceding verse, “And counsels were many in its horns.” This reading is certainly not to be preferred, although it can easily be understood how it has arisen. The version proceeds, “And behold another born sprang up in the midst of them—little in its horns”—this latter is a doublet—”and three of the former horns were rooted cut by it, and, behold, eyes as human eyes were in this horn, and a mouth speaking great things, and it made war against the saints.” Theodotion is practically in agreement with the Massoretic text, as is also the Peshitta. As Daniel is gazing, his attention is directed to the horns; he sees their appearance changing. An eleventh horn springs up, much less than any of the former ten; quickly, however, it grows, and before its growth three of the former horns are rooted up. This horn now drew his gaze from all the others: it had human eyes, it had a mouth speaking great things. In the changes of the dream the horn now seems separated from the animal on which it is; it becomes an oppressor, and makes war upon the saints. It is usual to identify this horn with that in Dan_8:7. When carefully looked at, the alleged resemblance is reduced to the fact that in both cases “a horn” is used as a symbol of an oppressor of the saints. We must remember that, according to the figure, these ten horns are contemporary. If we take the typology of the next chapter as our guide, these horns are kingdoms or dynasties. Unlike the Greek Empire, which split up into four, this fourth empire splits up into ten. Another dynasty rises up and sweeps away three of these earlier dynasties. Nothing like this occurred in regard to the empire of the Diadochi. Of course, it is true the number ought not to be pressed, save as a designative symbol. There must, however, be more than five or six, as in such a case four would be a more natural general number. It may, however, be twelve or fifteen. Several events in the history of the kingdoms that have followed the Roman Empire might satisfy one part of this picture—the replacing of three kingdoms by one. It is a possible enough view that provinces may be referred to, as Jephet-ibn. Ali maintains. As, however, the primary significance of the “horn” is power, the most probable solution seems to us to be to take the “ten” horns as the magistracies of Republican Rome. If we reckon the magistracies, there were fewer, if we take the distinctive individuals occupying the magistracies, more, than ten. The imperial form of government replaced several of these magistracies, which may roughly be reckoned at three. Certainly of the imperial power it might be said that it had a mouth “speaking great things;” for the claim to deification made openly was certainly a new claim. Other monarchs had claimed to be the sons of their god; only the Roman emperors were addressed as divus during their lifetime. Certainly the empire made war against the saints—against the people of God. It was Nero, a Roman emperor, who decreed war against the Jews; it was Vespasian, another Roman emperor, that began the conquest of Palestine; it was Titus, a third Roman emperor, that captured Jerusalem. Some support may be found for the Jewish idea that it is Titus personally. If we are permitted to take the ten horns as successive emperors, he was the eleventh emperor, and three emperors were swept away before the Flavian dynasty. We must reserve fuller discussion of this subject to a special excursus.

Cambridge Bible Driver

Daniel 7:8

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 Exo_3:6, ‘he feared to gaze upon the glory of Jehovah,’ and Num_21:9, ‘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. Dan_8:9. 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 Dan_8:10-14; Dan_8:24-25, and Dan_11:31-33, and who, in Dan_8:9 (see Dan_8:23), is also represented by a ‘little horn.’ The descriptions at the end of the present verse, and in Dan_7:21; Dan_7:25, also suit Antiochus Epiphanes. For further particulars respecting the events of his reign, see the notes on Dan_11:21 ff., Dan_11:30-36 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 month speaking great things] i.e. proud, presumptuous things, especially against God, or His people. Cf. Psa_12:3, ‘the tongue that speaketh great things,’ Oba_1:12, lit. ‘neither make thy mouth great,’ Rev_13:5, where the beast with ten horns is given ‘a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies.’ Comp. Dan_11:36, where it is said of Antiochus Epiphanes that he will ‘speak marvellous things against the God of gods’; and 1Ma_1:24, where it is stated that, after despoiling the Temple (b.c. 170), he went away, and ‘spake great presumptuousness’ (ἐλάλησεν ὑπερηφανίαν μεγάλην).

Pulpit Commentary

Dan_7:9, Dan_7:10

I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the 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. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. The Septuagint Version here does not differ much from the Massoretic save that there are two cases of-doublet. Theodotion and the Peshitta are evidently translated from a text identical with that of the Massoretic. There is, however, one point where the versions agree against the Authorized Version—the thrones are not cast down, they are “placed,” as in the Revised. Luther and most German commentators render thus, as does Jerome. Ewald translates “cast,” that is, “set.” In the third chapter, where we have the same word, it means” cast down; “this leads us to prefer the Authorized rendering. The word for “throne” is to be observed. It means not so much the throne-royal as the seat of a judge (Behrmann); but the office of judge was that essentially of the king. The Ancient of days did sit. It is not “the Ancient of days,” but “one ancient in days,” that is to say, the phrase is not appellative, but descriptive. After the thrones of these earlier kingdoms were cast down, then one appeared like an old man clad in a garment of snowy whiteness, and the hair of his head as wool. That this is a symbolic appearance of God is beyond doubt. Ewald remarks on the grandeur of the description as excelling in boldness even the vision of Ezekiel. The throne, the judgment-seat of the Ancient of days, is a chariot of “fiery flame,” with “wheels of burning fire”—a description that suggests the translation of Elijah. His throne is at once the judge’s scat and the chariot of the warrior. From beneath this chariot-throne “a fiery stream issued forth.” In the Book of Revelation (Rev_22:1), from beneath the throne of God there issued the river of the water of life, clear as crystal Compare with this also Enoch Rev_14:9 -22. Enoch’s description is derived from this, but amplified to a great extent. Thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times tea thousand stood before him. The word “thousands” in the Aramaic has the Hebrew plural termination in the K’thib, but in the most ancient forms of Aramaic there are many points where the two tongues have not yet diverged. The symbol here is of a royal court, only the numbers are vaster than any earthly court could show. The angels of God are present to carry out the decisions of the judgment. Compare with this Enoch Rev_1:9 (Charles’s trans), “Lo! he comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment upon them.” Those that minister unto the Judge are those whose duty it is to carry out the Divine sentence; those who stand before him are those who are spectators of this great assize. The judgment was set. This translation is not accurate. The word translated “was set” is the same as that rendered in the second clause of the preceding verse “did sit.” Again, although deena’, thus vocalized, means “judgment,” it may be differently vocalized, dayyana, and mean “Judge.” If we take the present pointing, the phrase may be taken as equivalent to “the assize began.” And the books were opened. It ought to be noted that the word here used for” books” is derived from a root primarily meaning “engrave.” The Babylonian books, as they have come down to us, are clay tablets “engraved” or “impressed” with letters. We have all manner of legal documents in this form. The piles of tiles and cylinders which contain the deeds of those before the judgment-seat stand before the Judge. One by one they are displayed before him. The scene presented is one of unspeakable grandeur, and all put before us with a few masterly strokes. We see the great fiery throne’; the Judge, awful with the dignity of unnumbered ages, attended by a million of angels who are ready to do his will; and a hundred million watching and listening spectators. We find that this description of the judgment in the first Apocalypse reappears, modified and made yet more solemn, in the last Apocalypse. We are, however, not to regard this as the final judgment. Daniel is rather admitted into the presence of God in the heavens, and sees his judgment continually being prepared against the wicked.

Cambridge Bible Driver

Daniel 7:9

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 Dan_7:10. A.V. means, ‘till the thrones of the Gentile powers were overthrown’; but the rendering of R.V. is much preferable. Exactly the same expression occurs in the Targ. of Jer_1:15, ‘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 Wis_2:10 for an ‘old man,’ and in Sir_25:4 (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. Eze_1:26’ (Keil).

his raiment was white as snow] symbolizing purity (Isa_1:18; Psa_51:7). The white hair would have the same symbolism, though this would be natural independently in an aged man. The imagery of Rev_1:14 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 connexions—Gen_15:17; Exo_3:2; Num_16:35; Deu_4:24; Psa_18:12-13; Psa_50:3; Psa_97:3; Isa_30:27; Eze_1:4; Eze_1:13; Eze_10:2; Eze_10:6-7 (fire between the cherubim supporting the Divine throne), Eze_1:27, Eze_8:2 (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 Glory sat thereon, and His raiment was brighter than the sun, and whiter than any snow … Fire burnt round about, and a great fire stood beside Him, and no one approacheth Him round about: thousand thousands stand before Him, and every word of His is deed.’

the wheels thereof] The throne is pictured implicitly as a chariot, as in Eze_1:15-28. The representation of the throne and wheels as being fire is, however, more than is found even in the visions of Ezekiel.

Cambridge Bible Driver

Daniel 7:10

10. a stream of fire … from before him] For ‘from before,’ cf. Dan_5:24; and on Dan_6:10. Comp. also Rev_1:14, ‘his eyes were as a flame of fire.’

thousand thousands] Cf. Deu_33:2, R.V. (if the existing Heb. text of line 4 is correct); also 1Ki_22:19; Zec_14:5 end, R.V.; Enoch i. 9 (cited, with slight verbal differences [see Charles’ ed. p. 327], in Judges 14, 15 [for ‘saints’ in Dan_7:14, A.V., see the note on Dan_8:13]). The present passage is doubtless the source of Enoch xiv. 22 (cited on Dan_7:9), xl. 1 (cited below, p. 106); cf. lx. 1, lxxi. 8, 13; and of Rev_5:11.

ministered … stood] Better, were ministering … were standing, the tenses being as in Dan_4:12.

stood before him] viz. in attendance: cf. for the idiom 1Ki_10:8.

the judgement was set] i.e. (in accordance with the old English sense of the expression) was seated: the Aram. is lit. sat, ‘judgement’ being used here in a concrete sense for the judges; cf. LXX., Theod., τὸ κριτήριον ἐκάθισεν, Vulg. judicium sedit; and see Dan_7:26, ‘shall sit’. The Almighty is represented as holding a court of judgement. For was set in this sense see in A.V., Mat_5:1 (‘when he was set,’ i.e. was seated), Mat_27:19; Heb_8:1 (R.V. sat down); Psa_9:4 (P.B.V), ‘thou art set (i.e. hast seated thyself) in the throne that judgest right.’ W. A. Wright quotes, from an old writer, ‘When they were sette’ (viz. at table).

and the books were opened] the books in which the deeds of men are recorded—in particular the deeds of the four ‘beasts,’ representing the four empires. Cf. Rev_20:12, ‘And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne; and books were opened; … and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works:’ also 2Es_6:20; Apoc. of Baruch xxiv. 1; Ascension of Isaiah (ed. Dillmann, 1877), ix. 22; Enoch xlvii. 3 (cited on p. 106), lxxxix. 70, 71, 76, 77, xc. 20, xcviii. 7, 8, civ. 7,—all passages speaking of the deeds of men being recorded in books, which are afterwards opened in heaven. See further Charles’s note on Enoch xlvii. 3; and comp. Abhoth ii. 1, ‘Know what is above thee, a seeing eye, and a hearing ear, and all thy deeds written in a book.’ The germ of the representation is to be found most probably in the figurative expressions in Isa_65:6 (‘Behold, it is written before me’: cf. Jer_17:1); Mal_3:16 (cf. Est_6:1); Psa_56:8.

Pulpit Commentary


I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. The Septuagint Version has been translated from the same text; but the word translated “because” is rendered τότε, “then,” according to the usual meaning of the word. Theodotion has a doublet. The Peshitta is much briefer, “I saw that this beast was slain, and its body destroyed, and it was cast into the flame of fire.” The voice of the great words; that is, blasphemies. The punishment of blasphemy among the Babylonians was burning. On account of the blasphemies of the little horn, the whole empire to which it belonged was destroyed. If we regard the fourth beast as Rome, and the little horn the imperial dignity, it was on account of its blasphemies that the empire really ceased. The blasphemous claim to divinity wrought madness in the minds of such youths as Caligula, Nero, Commodus, Caracalla, and Heliogabalus. The process might be a slow one. God had his purpose in the history of the race to work out by the Roman Empire; yet it was none the less the madness of the emperors that brought the empire down. The way the provinces were harried by barbarians East and West could well be described as burning the body of it with fire.

Cambridge Bible Driver

Daniel 7:11

11. The beast representing the fourth empire is slain, and utterly destroyed, on account of the blasphemies of Antiochus Epiphanes (Dan_7:8), the idea being that the guilt of the empire culminated in him. The writer thinks of empires only, not of individuals; and it is impossible to say what he pictured to himself as being the fate of the individuals of whom the fourth empire consisted.

I beheld, &c.] The second ‘I beheld’ is resumptive of the first, after the intervening clause introduced by because—a construction of which there are many examples in Hebrew (e.g. Lev_17:5; Jdg_11:31; Zec_8:23). I beheld till, as Dan_7:9. The clause because, &c., though apparently giving the reason for ‘I beheld,’ gives in reality the reason for ‘the beast was slain,’ &c.

and his body destroyed] The empire being represented by an animal, its ‘body’ will correspond to the fabric, or political organization, of the State. This is to be utterly brought to an end.

and he was given to be burned with fire (R.V.)] lit. to the burning of fire (cf. Isa_64:11, lit. ‘has become for the burning of fire), i.e. to complete destruction. It is hardly likely that there is any allusion here to the torments of the wicked after death, for though in parts of Enoch, written probably within 50 years of Daniel (10:13, 21:7–10, 90:24–27), mention is made of a fiery place of punishment for wicked angels and men, had that been intended here it is probable that it would have been indicated more distinctly,—to say nothing of the fact that, as remarked just above, it is the fate of empires, not of individuals, that the writer has in view. Rev_19:20; Rev_20:10 are not sufficient proof that the author of Daniel had the idea here in his mind.

Pulpit Commentary


As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. The version of the LXX. has a different reference, “And those about him he took away from their dominion, and time of life was given them for a time and a season.” Here, as in the seventh verse, we have shear. The reference then would be to the horns that still remained after the one blaspheming horn was destroyed. Theodotion agrees with the Massoretic. The Peshitta differs, but only slightly. As the Massoretic text stands, there is difficulty in maintaining that the reference here cannot be to any other than to the other three beasts. They should still occupy a place, but possess no dominion, even after they were removed from supreme authority. After Babylon lost imperial power, it still continued for a time a highly important province in the Persian Empire, and the sensibilities of the inhabitants were considered throughout the whole period of the Persian rule. After the Persian Empire was overturned by Alexander, there was still the province of Persis; and from the remains of the Persian Empire sprang up Parthia, and then the second Persian Empire; and after the rule of the caliphs had been broken, Persia revived as a Mohammedan power. When the Greek Empire fell, Greece still survived, not independent, but still influential. It is difficult to see what meaning this verse could have to one living at the time of the Maccabees, especially it’ he thought the Greek Empire was the fourth. Parthia certainly might represent Persia, but where was Media? “For a season and a time” does not refer to any definite time. Jephet-ibn-Ali regards the reference till the end of the rule of the fourth beast. This militates against the idea that ‛iddan must always mean “a year.”

Cambridge Bible Driver

Daniel 7:12

12. the rest of the beasts] Commentators are divided as to whether the three beasts of Dan_7:4-6, or the seven horns left after the three had been rooted up (Dan_7:8), are intended: but the expression used (‘beasts’) strongly favours the former interpretation. In the abstract, it is true, the latter interpretation might be deemed the more probable; for, as the ‘beasts’ represent successive kings, or kingdoms (Dan_7:17; Dan_7:23), the dominion of the first three would naturally be at an end long before the period of the judgement on the fourth, whereas the seven ‘horns’ might well be conceived as subsisting still. In point of fact, however, the kingdoms, though in reality successive, are in the vision represented as contemporaneous: nothing is said in Dan_7:3-7 about the disappearance of one beast when a second appears; all continue visible, side by side. So in ch. 2 the four kingdoms represented by the image are destroyed simultaneously: the entire image remains intact until the stone falls upon the feet (representing the fourth and last kingdom), when the whole of it breaks up together.

they (indef.) took away their dominion] i.e. (see on Dan_4:25) their dominion was taken away (R.V.).

but a prolonging in life was given them (A.V. marg.)] The three first beasts are humbled, but not, like the fourth beast, destroyed; their dominion was taken away from them, but they were permitted to remain alive; i.e. the Gentile powers, represented by the beasts, were to survive for a while as nations, though deprived of empire.

until a time and a season (Dan_2:21)] i.e. until the unspecified time, determined for each in the counsel of the Most High (Keil).

Pulpit Commentary


I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. The version of the Septuagint is different in the last two clauses of this verse, “As the Ancient of days he came, and those standing around were present to him.” Although the reading here is supported by Paulus Tellensis, we suspect some error of copyists. Theodotion practically agrees with the Massoretic. The Peshitta renders the last clause, “Those standing before him approached him.” These earthly kingdoms having been destroyed, the new kingdom of God is ushered in. “A son of man” (not “the Son of man,” as in our Authorized Version) appears in the clouds of heaven. It is a question whether this is the King of the Divine kingdom, the personal Messiah, or the kingdom itself personified. It is agreed that, as the previous kingdoms were represented by a beast, a man would be necessary symmetrically to represent at once the fact that it is an empire as those were, but unlike them in being of a higher class, as man is higher than the beasts. Further, it is brought in line with the image-vision of the second chapter, where the stone cut out of the mountain destroys the image. But we must beware of applying mere logic to apocalyptic. In this vision we see that “a man’s heart” really meant weakness as compared with the courage and strength represented by the lion. Further, the point of distinction between this vision and that of Nebuchadnezzar is that this is more dynastic, looking at the monarchs, while the other looks at the powers—the empires as distinct from their personal rulers. Hence, while the Son of man here refers to the Messianic kingdom, it is in the Person of its King. It is to be observed that, while the beasts came up out of the sea, the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven. This indicates the Divine origin of the Messiah. That the writer might not apprehend this is no argument against this being really symbolized. When he comes to the throne of the Ancient of days, he is accompanied to the presence of the Judge by the attendant angels—a scene which might seem to justify the LXX. Version of Deu_32:43 as applied by the writer of the Hebrews.

Cambridge Bible Driver

Daniel 7:13

13. and behold there appeared coming with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man] lit. there was coming, &c., the graphic partic. with the finite verb, which is so frequent in Daniel (Theod. LXX. καὶ ἰδοὺ μετὰ [LXX. ἐπὶ] τῶν νεφελῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ὡς υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου ἐρχόμενος [LXX. ἤρχετο]): though in English ‘was coming’ is too weak to express its force adequately. The rendering of A.V., ‘the Son of man,’ is quite untenable: the expression of the original is indefinite, and denotes simply, in poetical language (cf. Num_23:19; Psa_80:17; Isa_51:12; Isa_56:2), a figure in human form (comp. Rev_1:13; Rev_14:14, R.V.). What the figure is intended to represent can be properly determined only after the explanation in Dan_7:16 ff. has been considered (see p. 102 ff.). If the terms of Dan_7:18; Dan_7:22 b, 27 are to be taken as deciding the question, it would seem that it must describe the ideal and glorified people of Israel.

with the clouds of heaven] in superhuman majesty and state. The passage is the source of the expression in Mar_14:62 (Mat_26:64 ‘on’); Rev_1:7, ‘behold, he cometh with the clouds:’ cf. Mat_24:30 (‘on’) = Mar_13:26 (‘in’) = Luk_21:27 (‘in’); and Rev_14:14 (‘one sitting on a cloud, like unto a son of man’), 15, 16.

and he came even to the ancient of days] see on Dan_7:9.

and they brought him near] The subject might be angelic beings; or, which is probably better, it may be indefinite, like the ‘they’ of Dan_7:5; Dan_7:12, i.e. and he was brought near (see on Dan_4:25).

Pulpit Commentary


And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. The versions differ only slightly and verbally from this. The personal element is here made prominent. Compare with this Rev_5:12, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” The Messianic kingdom, and with it the Messiah, was to be everlasting. The resemblance is great, as might be expected, between this statement and that in Dan_2:44, “A kingdom which shall never be destroyed, and the kingdom shall not be left to other people.” It is to be noted that even his dominion is bestowed upon him. The Ancient of days, whose sentence has deprived the other dynasties of theft empire, bestows boundless empire on the Messiah (Comp. Psa_2:1-12. and 72.). Jeremiah’s account of the state of matters on the return from the Captivity (Jer_30:21)is compared to this by Hitzig; but there it is not a king who is to come near before God, it is simply “governor” (mashal). In Jeremiah we have to do with a subject-people living in the fear of the Lord, but under the yoke of a foreign power.

Cambridge Bible Driver

Daniel 7:14

14. A universal and never-ending dominion is given to him. The expressions in the first half of the verse resemble in part those used in Dan_5:18-19 of Nebuchadnezzar. Serve does not necessarily mean worship: like the word which has the same meaning in Heb. (עבד), it may be used of obedience to either God (Dan_3:12; Dan_3:14 al.) or a human ruler (Dan_7:27; and the Targ. of Jer_27:6-8, &c.). With the second half of the verse comp. Dan_2:44, and especially Dan_4:3 b, 34 b (of the kingdom of God). All peoples, nations, &c., as Dan_3:4.

Albert Barnes

Daniel 7:15

I Daniel was grieved in my spirit – That is, I was troubled; or my heart was made heavy and sad. This was probably in part because he did not fully understand the meaning of the vision, and partly on account of the fearful and momentous nature of what was indicated by it. So the apostle John Rev_5:4 says, “And I wept much because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book.”

In the midst of my body – Margin, as in the Chaldee, sheath. The body is undoubtedly referred to, and is so called as the envelope of the mind – or as that in which the soul is inserted, as the sword is in the sheath, and from which it is drawn out by death. The same metaphor is employed by Pliny: Donec cremato co inimici remeanti animae velut vaginam ademerint. So, too, a certain philosopher, who was slighted by Alexander the Great on account of his ugly face, is said to have replied, Corpus hominis nil est nisi vagina gladii in qua anima reconditur. – Gesenius. Compare Lengerke, in loc. See also Job_27:8, “When God taketh away his soul;” or rather draws out his soul, as a sword is drawn out of the sheath. Compare the note at that place. See also Buxtorf’s Lexicon Tal. p. 1307. The meaning here is plain – that Daniel felt sad and troubled in mind, and that this produced a sensible effect on his body.

And the visions of my head troubled me – The head is here regarded as the seat of the intellect, and he speaks of these visions as if they were seen by the head. That is, they seemed to pass before his eyes.

Cambridge Bible Driver

Daniel 7:16

16. one of them that were standing (there)] One of the angels that ‘stood’ before the Almighty (Dan_7:10), who happened to be nearer than the others to Daniel himself. For the part of interpreter taken by an angel in a vision, cf. Zec_1:7 to Zec_6:8 passim; and the Apocalypses of Enoch and 2 Esdras. It is characteristic of the later prophecies: in the visions of the earlier prophets (as Amos 7, 8, Isaiah 6, Jeremiah 1, Ezekiel 2-5, 8, 9, &c.), Jehovah speaks Himself to the prophet. We have the transition in Ezekiel 40-48, where an angel conducts the prophet, and usually explains things to him (Eze_40:3-4, &c.), though sometimes Jehovah also speaks Himself (Eze_43:7-9, Eze_44:2; Eze_44:5, &c.).

of all this] better, concerning all this (R.V.).

Pulpit Commentary

Daniel 7:16

I came near unto one of them that stood by – That is, to one of the angels who appeared to stand near the throne. Dan_7:10. Compare Dan_8:13; Zec_4:4-5; Rev_7:13. It was natural for Daniel to suppose that the angels who were seen encircling the throne would be able to give him information on the subject, and the answers which Daniel received show that he was not mistaken in his expectation. God has often employed angels to communicate important truths to men, or has made them the medium of communicating his will. Compare Rev_1:1; Act_7:53; Heb_2:2.

So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things – He explained the meaning of the symbols, so that Daniel understood them. It would seem probable that Daniel has not recorded all that the angel communicated respecting the vision, but he has preserved so much that we may understand its general signification.

Cambridge Bible Driver

Daniel 7:17

17. The four beasts represent four kings, or (Dan_7:23) four kingdoms, the ‘king’ in each case being not an individual king, but a typical king, embodying the characteristics of the empire ruled by him. The angel does not however dwell more fully on the ‘beasts,’ or interpret their symbolism; but hastens (Dan_7:18) to explain the nature of the kingdom which is to succeed theirs.

Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown

Daniel 7:17

These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.

These great beasts, which are four, are four kings i:e., kingdoms. Compare Dan_7:23, “the fourth kingdom” (Dan_2:38, “Thou (Nebuchadnezzar) art this head of gold;” Dan_8:20-22, where the four horns of the he-goat are explained as four kingdoms). Each of the four kings represent a dynasty. Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander, Antiochus, and Antichrist, though individually referred to, are representatives of characteristic tendencies.

Cambridge Bible Driver

Daniel 7:18

18. The four kingdoms of the Gentiles will pass away; and be succeeded by the kingdom of the saints of the Most High, which will endure for ever. The saints of the Most High seem here, as also in Dan_7:22; Dan_7:27, to take the place of the ‘one like unto a son of man’ in Dan_7:13, and to receive the same never-ending dominion.

the saints] lit. the holy ones; so Dan_7:21-22; Dan_7:25; Dan_7:27; Dan_8:24 (cp. Dan_12:7). Cf. Psa_16:3; Psa_34:9. (The word is entirely different from the one (ḥasid) rendered ‘saints’ everywhere else in the Psalms, as Psa_30:4; Psa_31:23; Psa_37:28, &c., and in 1Sa_2:9 [A.V.]; 2Ch_6:41, Pro_2:8.) The term, in this application, is an extension of the use of the word ‘holy’ to denote Israel in its ideal character (Exo_19:6; Lev_11:44-45; Lev_19:2; Lev_20:7; Lev_20:26; Deu_7:6; Deu_14:2; Deu_14:21; Deu_33:3 and elsewhere).

the Most High] See on Dan_3:26. The Hebraizing (and plural) form found here (עליונין) recurs Dan_7:22; Dan_7:25 (second time), 27. The plural is probably the so-called ‘plural of majesty,’ which we have, for instance, in the Heb. of ‘holy’ in Jos_24:19, and Pro_9:10.

shall receive (Dan_5:31) the kingdom] They will not establish it by their own power (cf. Dan_7:27 ‘shall be given, &c.).

and possess the kingdom for ever, &c.] Cf. Dan_7:14 b.

Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown

Daniel 7:18

But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.

The saints of the Most High. The emphatic title of God in this prophecy, who delegates His power first to Israel; then to the Gentiles, in the person of Nebuchadnezzar, the first “head” of the world-power (Dan_2:37-38), on Israel failing to realize the idea of the theocracy; lastly, to Messiah, who shall rule truly for God, taking it from the Gentile world-powers, whose history is one of continual degeneracy, culminating in the last of the kings, Antichrist. Here, in the interpretation, “the saints,” but in the vision (Dan_7:13-14), “the Son of man” takes the kingdom; because Christ and His people are one in suffering and one in glory. Tregelles translates, ‘the saints of the most high places’ (Eph_1:3; Eph_2:6). Though oppressed by the beast and little horn, they belong not to the earth, from which the four beasts arise, but to the most high places.


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