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Alexander, the fourth beast
|In the second
century an anonymous Jew composed the book of Daniel. Daniel was,
in his view, a Jewish prophet at the Babylonian
court, who had visions of the future. Two visions are related to Alexander
the Great, who is presented as a great conqueror who founded the last
of four oriental monarchies. The striking aspect is that the kings of Babylonia-Assyria,
of Persia and the kings from Macedonia-Greece
are presented as a succession - there is no discontinuity. In the second
vision, Alexander is presented as the first and greatest of the rulers
of the 'fourth kingdom'.
The quotes are taken from the 21st Century King
James translation; the complete vision can be found here.
The first vision: the four beasts[Daniel 7.2-7: the vision]
I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings. I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made to stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it.
And behold, another beast, a second, like unto a bear. And it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it; and they said thus unto it, 'Arise, devour much flesh.'
After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl. The beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.
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 broke 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.
[Daniel 7.17, 7.23-24a: explanation of the vision]
The second vision: the ram and the goat[Daniel 8.2-8 : the vision]
And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass when I saw, that I was at Susa in the palace, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai.
Then I lifted up mine eyes and saw, and behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns; and the two horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last. I saw the ram pushing westward and northward and southward, so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will and became great.
And as I was considering, behold, a he-goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground; and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.
And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power. And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with fury against him, and smote the ram and broke his two horns; and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground and stamped upon him. And there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand.
Therefore the he-goat waxed very great; and when he was strong, the great horn was broken, and in its place came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.
[Daniel 8.19-22: explanation of the vision]