Daniel Chapter Eight

The Ram and He-Goat

The events in the eighth chapter occurred two years after the vision in the seventh chapter. Daniel has been writing in chapters two through seven in the Aramaic language. Apparently, he wants the citizens of Babylon to read it. In chapters eight through twelve, he writes in Hebrew because the words of prophecy applied to God’s dealing with Israel.

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In this chapter, Daniel has another dream and is taken out of the city to the area of Elam by the river of Ulai, where he is given a vision of a ram and a he-goat. This vision occurred in the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar, just before the Medes captured Babylon. However, the visual takes place at Shushan, the capital of the Mede Empire. 

Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and there, standing beside the river, was a ram which had two horns, and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last. I saw the ram pushing westward, northward, and southward, so that no animal could withstand him; nor was there any that could deliver from his hand, but he did according to his will and became great. And as I was considering, suddenly a male goat came from the west, across the surface of the whole earth, without touching the ground; and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. Then he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing beside the river, and ran at him with furious power. And I saw him confronting the ram; he was moved with rage against him, attacked the ram, and broke his two horns. There was no power in the ram to withstand him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled him; and there was no one that could deliver the ram from his hand. Therefore the male goat grew very great; but when he became strong, the large horn was broken, and in place of it four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven” (Daniel 8:3-8, NKJV).

The angel Gabriel interprets the dream and tells him that the ram is another symbol of the Medo-Persian Empire, and the he-goat symbolizes the Greek Empire. Both of these Empires are in the future at that time. However, the symbolism clearly shows Alexander the Great swiftly overrunning the Persian Empire.

As Daniel continues to look, a strange thing happens to the he-goat. “And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land. And it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them. He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host; and by him the daily sacrifices were taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down. Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices; and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered” (Daniel 8:9-12, NKJV).

The Little Horn had a double-view prophecy, as do many prophecies – the first prophecy is a shadow of the second prophecy. In the last chapter, we saw the little horn growing out of the horns of the fourth beast, Rome, and we identified it as the Antichrist. In this vision, the little horn grows out of the third beast, the Greek Empire.

How can we understand what appears to be a contradiction of scripture? There is little doubt that the little horn of chapter eight refers to the wicked Greek ruler Antiochus Epiphanes, who ruled over Syria during the latter days of the Greek Empire. He desecrated the temple of Jerusalem by offering a pig on the Jewish altar of sacrifice.

Antiochus Epiphanes is a shadow of the Antichrist who will come out of the Roman Empire during the last days – thus, we have a double shadow in prophecy. The Antichrist will also desecrate the temple by making pagan sacrifices in the temple (see Revelation chapter 13).

Jesus commented on this in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew. “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (Matt 24:15-16, NKJV).

Jesus, in the “Olivet Discourse,” confirmed the prophecy of Daniel and stated that the prophecy had a future application.

Now read the angel’s interpretation of the little horn given to Daniel. “As for the broken horn and the four that stood up in its place, four kingdoms shall arise out of that nation, but not with its power. And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their fullness, a king shall arise, having fierce features, who understands sinister schemes. His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; he shall destroy fearfully, and shall prosper and thrive; he shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people. Through his cunning he shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule; and he shall exalt himself in his heart. He shall destroy many in their prosperity. He shall even rise against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without human means. And the vision of the evenings and mornings which was told is true; Therefore seal up the vision, For it refers to many days in the future” (Daniel 8:22-36, NKJV).

Notice the phrase, “He shall even rise against the Prince of princes; But he shall be broken without human means.” This is a clear statement that men will not overthrow this man, the Antichrist, but Christ will defeat him. He was called “Prince of princes” in Chapter nine and will come as Kings of kings and lords. Paul, writing to the Church at Thessalonica, said, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming” (2 Thess. 2:7-8, NKJV). 

As light overcomes the darkest, the brightness of Christ will destroy the Antichrist.

Daniel is told to “seal up the vision.” The Apostle John will open it later in the book of Revelation.

Click on “Antiochus Epiphanes” for more information on this wicked ruler.

Scripture quotations marked NKJV are taken from the New King James Version of the Bible, copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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