Daniel on the fourth beast

In about 165 BCE, an anonymous Jew composed the Biblical book of Daniel. Daniel was, in his view, a Jewish prophet who had lived at the Babylonian court and had had visions of the future. Two of these 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 Media, of Persia, and the kings from Macedonia-Greece are presented as a succession - there is no real 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

[7.2] I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.

[7.3] And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.

[7.4] 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.

[7.5] 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."

[7.6] 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.

[7.7] 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.       

Explanation of the first vision

[7.17] These great beasts, which are four, are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. [...] 

[7.23] The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down and break it in pieces. 

[7.24a] And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise.

The second vision: the ram and the goat

[8.2] 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.

[8.3] 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.

[8.4] 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.

[8.5] 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.

[8.6] 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.

[8.7] 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.

[8.8] 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.

Explanation of the second vision

[8.19] Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation, for at the time appointed the end shall be.

[8.20] The ram which thou sawest having two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia. 

[8.21] And the rough goat is the king of Greece; and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.note 

[8.22] Now that one being broken, in whose place four stood up for it, four kingdomsnote shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.

This page was created in 2002; last modified on 12 October 2020.