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  • JAMIESON-FAUSSET-BROWN - DANIEL 7
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    CHAPTER 7

    Da 7:1-28. VISION OF THE FOUR BEASTS.

    This chapter treats of the same subject as the second chapter. But there the four kingdoms, and Messiah's final kingdom, were regarded according to their external political aspect, but here according to the mind of God concerning them, and their moral features. The outward political history had been shown in its general features to the world ruler, whose position fitted him for receiving such a revelation. But God's prophet here receives disclosures as to the characters of the powers of the world, in a religious point of view, suited to his position and receptivity. Hence in the second chapter the images are taken from the inanimate sphere; in the seventh chapter they are taken from the animate. Nebuchadnezzar saw superficially the world power as a splendid human figure, and the kingdom of God as a mere stone at the first. Daniel sees the world kingdoms in their inner essence as of an animal nature lower than human, being estranged from God; and that only in the kingdom of God ("the Son of man," the representative man) is the true dignity of man realized. So, as contrasted with Nebuchadnezzar's vision, the kingdom of God appears to Daniel, from the very first, superior to the world kingdom. For though in physical force the beasts excel man, man has essentially spiritual powers. Nebuchadnezzar's colossal image represents mankind in its own strength, but only the outward man. Daniel sees man spiritually degraded to the beast level, led by blind impulses, through his alienation from God. It is only from above that the perfect Son of man comes, and in His kingdom man attains his true destiny. Compare Ps 8:1-9 with Ge 1:26-28. Humanity is impossible without divinity: it sinks to bestiality (Ps 32:9; 49:20; 73:22). Obstinate heathen nations are compared to "bulls" (Ps 68:30); Egypt to the dragon in the Nile (Isa 27:1; 51:9; Eze 29:3). The animal with all its sagacity looks always to the ground, without consciousness of relation to God. What elevates man is communion with God, in willing subjection to Him. The moment he tries to exalt himself to independence of God, as did Nebuchadnezzar (Da 4:30), he sinks to the beast's level. Daniel's acquaintance with the animal colossal figures in Babylon and Nineveh was a psychological preparation for his animal visions. Ho 13:7, 8 would occur to him while viewing those ensigns of the world power. Compare Jer 2:15; 4:7; 5:6.

    1. Belshazzar--Good Hebrew manuscripts have "Belshazzar"; meaning "Bel is to be burnt with hostile fire" (Jer 50:2; 51:44). In the history he is called by his ordinary name; in the prophecy, which gives his true destiny, he is called a corresponding name, by the change of a letter.
    - visions of his head--not confused "dreams," but distinct images seen while his mind was collected.
    - sum--a "summary." In predictions, generally, details are not given so fully as to leave no scope for free agency, faith, and patient waiting for God manifesting His will in the event. He "wrote" it for the Church in all ages; he "told" it for the comfort of his captive fellow countrymen.

    2. the four winds--answering to the "four beasts"; their several conflicts in the four quarters or directions of the world.
    - strove--burst forth (from the abyss) [MAURER].
    - sea--The world powers rise out of the agitations of the political sea (Jer 46:7, 8; Lu 21:25; compare Re 13:1; 17:15; 21:1); the kingdom of God and the Son of man from the clouds of heaven (Da 7:13; compare Joh 8:23). TREGELLES takes "the great sea" to mean, as always elsewhere in Scripture (Jos 1:4; 9:1), the Mediterranean, the center territorially of the four kingdoms of the vision, which all border on it and have Jerusalem subject to them. Babylon did not border on the Mediterranean, nor rule Jerusalem, till Nebuchadnezzar's time, when both things took place simultaneously. Persia encircled more of this sea, namely, from the Hellespont to Cyrene. Greece did not become a monarchy before Alexander's time, but then, succeeding to Persia, it became mistress of Jerusalem. It surrounded still more of the Mediterranean, adding the coasts of Greece to the part held by Persia. Rome, under Augustus, realized three things at once--it became a monarchy; it became mistress of the last of the four parts of Alexander's empire (symbolized by the four heads of the third beast), and of Jerusalem; it surrounded all the Mediterranean.

    3. beasts--not living animals, as the cherubic four in Re 4:7 (for the original is a different word from "beasts," and ought to be there translated, living animals). The cherubic living animals represent redeemed man, combining in himself the highest forms of animal life. But the "beasts" here represent the world powers, in their beast-like, grovelling character. It is on the fundamental harmony between nature and spirit, between the three kingdoms of nature, history, and revelation, that Scripture symbolism rests. The selection of symbols is not arbitrary, but based on the essence of things.

    4. lion--the symbol of strength and courage; chief among the kingdoms, as the lion among the beasts. Nebuchadnezzar is called "the lion" (Jer 4:7).
    - eagle's wings--denoting a widespread and rapidly acquired (Isa 46:11; Jer 4:13; La 4:19; Hab 1:6) empire (Jer 48:40).
    - plucked--Its ability for widespread conquests passed away under Evil-merodach, &c. [GROTIUS]; rather, during Nebuchadnezzar's privation of his throne, while deranged.
    - it was lifted up from the earth--that is, from its grovelling bestiality.
    - made stand . . . as a man--So long as Nebuchadnezzar, in haughty pride, relied on his own strength, he forfeited the true dignity of man, and was therefore degraded to be with the beasts. Da 4:16: "Let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given unto him." But after he learned by this sore discipline that "the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men" (Da 4:35, 36), the change took place in him, "a man's heart is given to him; instead of his former beast's heart, he attains man's true position, namely, to be consciously dependent on God." Compare Ps 9:20.

    5. bear--symbolizing the austere life of the Persians in their mountains, also their cruelty (Isa 13:17, 18; Cambyses, Ochus, and other of the Persian princes were notoriously cruel; the Persian laws involved, for one man's offense, the whole kindred and neighborhood in destruction, Da 6:24) and rapacity. "A bear is an all-devouring animal" [ARISTOTLE, 8.5], (Jer 51:48, 56).
    - raised . . . itself on one side--but the Hebrew, "It raised up one dominion." The Medes, an ancient people, and the Persians, a modern tribe, formed one united sovereignty in contrast to the third and fourth kingdoms, each originally one, afterwards divided. English Version is the result of a slight change of a Hebrew letter. The idea then would be, "It lay on one of its fore feet, and stood on the other"; a figure still to be seen on one of the stones of Babylon [MUNTER, The Religion of Babylonia, 112]; denoting a kingdom that had been at rest, but is now rousing itself for conquest. Media is the lower side, passiveness; Persia, the upper, active element [AUBERLEN]. The three ribs in its mouth are Media, Lydia, and Babylon, brought under the Persian sway. Rather, Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt, not properly parts of its body, but seized by Medo-Persia [SIR ISAAC NEWTON]. Called "ribs" because they strengthened the Medo-Persian empire. "Between its teeth," as being much grinded by it.
    - devour much flesh--that is, subjugate many nations.

    6. leopard--smaller than the lion; swift (Hab 1:8); cruel (Isa 11:6), the opposite of tame; springing suddenly from its hiding place on its prey (Ho 13:7); spotted. So Alexander, a small king, of a small kingdom, Macedon, attacked Darius at the head of the vast empire reaching from the Ægean Sea to the Indies. In twelve years he subjugated part of Europe, and all Asia from Illyricum and the Adriatic to the Ganges, not so much fighting as conquering [JEROME]. Hence, whereas Babylon is represented with two wings, Macedon has four, so rapid were its conquests. The various spots denote the various nations incorporated into his empire [BOCHART]; or Alexander's own variation in character, at one time mild, at another cruel, now temperate, and now drunken and licentious.
    - four heads--explained in Da 8:8, 22; the four kingdoms of the Diadochi or "successors" into which the Macedonian empire was divided at the death of Alexander, namely, Macedon and Greece under Cassander, Thrace and Bithynia under Lysimachus, Egypt under Ptolemy, and Syria under Seleucus.
    - dominion . . . given to it--by God; not by Alexander's own might. For how unlikely it was that thirty thousand men should overthrow several hundreds of thousands! JOSEPHUS [Antiquities, 11.6] says that Alexander adored the high priest of Jerusalem, saying that he at Dium in Macedonia had seen a vision of God so habited, inviting him to go to Asia, and promising him success.

    7. As Daniel lived under the kingdom of the first beast, and therefore needed not to describe it, and as the second and third are described fully in the second part of the book, the chief emphasis falls on the fourth. Also prophecy most dwells on the end, which is the consummation of the preceding series of events. It is in the fourth that the world power manifests fully its God-opposing nature. Whereas the three former kingdoms were designated respectively, as a lion, bear, and leopard, no particular beast is specified as the image of the fourth; for Rome is so terrible as to be not describable by any one, but combines in itself all that we can imagine inexpressibly fierce in all beasts. Hence thrice (Da 7:7, 19, 23) it is repeated, that the fourth was "diverse from all" the others. The formula of introduction, "I saw in the night visions," occurs here, as at Da 7:2, and again at Da 7:13, thus dividing the whole vision into three parts--the first embracing the three kingdoms, the second the fourth and its overthrow, the third Messiah's kingdom. The first three together take up a few centuries; the fourth, thousands of years. The whole lower half of the image in the second chapter is given to it. And whereas the other kingdoms consist of only one material, this consists of two, iron and clay (on which much stress is laid, Da 2:41-43); the "iron teeth" here allude to one material in the fourth kingdom of the image.
    - ten horns--It is with the crisis, rather than the course, of the fourth kingdom that this seventh chapter is mainly concerned. The ten kings (Da 7:24, the "horns" representing power), that is, kingdoms, into which Rome was divided on its incorporation with the Germanic and Slavonic tribes, and again at the Reformation, are thought by many to be here intended. But the variation of the list of the ten, and their ignoring the eastern half of the empire altogether, and the existence of the Papacy before the breaking up of even the Western empire, instead of being the "little horn" springing up after the other ten, are against this view. The Western Roman empire continued till A.D. 731, and the Eastern, till A.D. 1453. The ten kingdoms, therefore, prefigured by the ten "toes" (Da 2:41; compare Re 13:1; 17:12), are the ten kingdoms into which Rome shall be found finally divided when Antichrist shall appear [TREGELLES]. These, probably, are prefigured by the number ten being the prevalent one at the chief turning points of Roman history.

    8. little horn--little at first, but afterwards waxing greater than all others. He must be sought "among them," namely, the ten horns. The Roman empire did not represent itself as a continuation of Alexander's; but the Germanic empire calls itself "the holy Roman empire." Napoleon's attempted universal monarchy was avowedly Roman: his son was called king of Rome. The czar (Cæsar) also professes to represent the eastern half of the Roman empire. The Roman civilization, church, language, and law are the chief elements in Germanic civilization. But the Romanic element seeks universal empire, while the Germanic seeks individualization. Hence the universal monarchies attempted by the Papacy, Charlemagne, Charles V, and Napoleon have failed, the iron not amalgamating with the clay. In the king symbolized by "the little horn," the God-opposing, haughty spirit of the world, represented by the fourth monarchy, finds its intensest development. "The man of sin," "the son of perdition" (2Th 2:3). Antichrist (1Jo 2:18, 22; 4:3). It is the complete evolution of the evil principle introduced by the fall.
    - three of the first horns plucked up--the exarchate of Ravenna, the %%%%

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