Daniel 8

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Daniel 8, the eighth chapter of the Book of Daniel, concerns Daniel's vision of the ram and the he-goat.[1] This vision is part of a series of episodes that is a continuation from Daniel 7.[2] The fragmentary vision concerns a battle between a two-horned ram and a he-goat with "a notable horn" between its eyes, often referred to as the "little horn" from which four horns succeed. Daniel is met by the angel Gabriel who partially interprets the visions in cryptic ways.[3] The climax of the chapter is the revolt of the "little horn" and his ultimate defeat.[2]


Daniel sees himself at Susa (Heb: "Shushan"), the capital[4] near the river Ulai. The canal may have run along the north side of the fortress of Susa, a royal palace for the Persian kings of ancient Elam, just east of Babylonia.[5] From a source critical perspective, visionary experiences are frequently associated with riverbank settings.[4]

The literary genre of the Daniel 8 vision is considered to be a symbolic dream vision, despite Josephus' claim that Daniel was actually there,[6] using both allegorical and mythic-realistic symbols. It is proposed that Daniel 7 and 8 were written by different persons due to the transition from Aramaic to Hebrew. Though there are stylistic differences between the two chapters,[7] Daniel 7 and 8 are parts of a composite whole, so that even if composed by a group, both chapters together are considered a coherent literary work. The epiphany of the angel Gabriel, links Daniel 8 to Daniel 10 and is influenced by Ezekiel 8:2 and the Book of Habakkuk.[8]

Vision of a ram and a goat[edit]

The ram and the goat.

Daniel sees a ram with two horns, one longer than the other. The ram charges west, north, and then south. The ram is powerful, none could stand against it. He does what he pleases and becomes great.[Dan. 8:1–4]

Then a goat comes from the west, having a single large horn, crossing the earth without touching the ground. It strikes the ram, breaks its two horns, knocks it down, and tramples him. But at the height of his power, the goat's horn is broken and in its place, four horns grow toward the four winds of heaven.[Dan. 8:5-8]

One of the horns is small but grows great, like the prince of host. It prospers in everything, throws stars down to the ground and tramples on them, stopping the daily sacrifice, destroying the sanctuary and throwing truth to the ground.[Dan. 8:9-12]

Daniel is told how long it will take for the vision to be fulfilled—2,300 evenings and mornings—then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated (cleansed).[Dan. 8:13-14]

After Daniel has seen the vision, someone looking like a man, called Gabriel, appears to tell Daniel. Daniel falls down in fear. Gabriel tells Daniel the meaning of the vision, giving him "skill and understanding" regarding the vision about the time of the end, but Daniel passes out. Gabriel wakes him up and again tells him that the vision is about the time of the end.[Dan. 8:15-19]


The ram and he-goat[edit]

The Alexander Mosaic depicting Darius III of Persia fleeing before Alexander the Great at the Battle of Issus in 333 BC. Many scholars see this as what is referred to in Daniel 8:7, where it says that the goat "struck the ram and broke his two horns."

The ram and he-goat are interpreted explicitly as the kings of Media-Persia and Greece. The use of such animal symbolism may be astrological in nature referring to the Hellenistic constellations that preside over Persia and Syria (Caqout, Koch).[9]

In verses 3 and 4 of Daniel’s second vision, a ram appears standing by the river Ulai having two horns, one higher than the other. According to verse 20, the two horns represent the kings of Media and Persia.[4]

In verses 5-7, a male goat then appears from the west. Verse 21 states that the male goat is the king of Greece. Scholars have associated this male goat with Alexander the Great and his armies.[10]

Little horn[edit]

The little horn, who casts some of the stars to the ground, may be an allusion for Helal ben Shacar ("Lucifer (RSV Daystar), son of Dawn") in |Isaiah 14:12 which parallels to the Ugaritic myth of Attar's attempt to occupy the throne of Baal.[9]

In the vision, the he-goat's first horn is broken, giving rise to four horns in its place. The "little horn" is sometimes understood to be one of the four horns that replaced the notable horn, who is accepted as Antiochus IV Epiphanes by historical-critical scholars.[11][9] Daniel 8:10–14 is referenced to Antiochus' dealings with the Jewish people under his rule, which ended with the Maccabean Revolt. In addition, Daniel 11, with references to Persia and Greece and two kings, is thought by some to refer to the Seleucids, and specifically to Antiochus Epiphanes as "The King of the North".[12] I

Historicist views[edit]


Julius Caesar identified as the king in Daniel 8:23-25, depicted in armour and with a laurel wreath, on horseback, bearing a standard depicting an eagle; the horse trampling three kings with standards depicting a lion, a ram and a goat. Engraving by Adriaen Collaert, Plate 4 of Four Illustrious Rulers of Antiquity.

The historicist interpretation of Daniel 8 was at one point held by Protestant churches during the Reformation. According to Seventh-day Adventist historian Le Roy Froom, "The Reformation ... was really born of a twofold discovery--first, the rediscovery of Christ and His salvation; and second, the discovery of the identity of Antichrist and his subversions."[13] "The reformers were unanimous in its acceptance. And it was this interpretation of prophecy that lent emphasis to their reformatory action. It led them to protest against Rome with extraordinary strength and undaunted courage. ... This was the rallying point and the battle cry that made the Reformation unconquerable."[14]

Seventh-day Adventists[edit]

The prophecy of 2,300 days in Daniel 8:14 plays an important role in Seventh-day Adventist eschatology. The 2,300 days are interpreted as 2,300 actual years using the Day-year principle.[15] According to the Adventist teaching, this period starts in unison with the Prophecy of Seventy Weeks in 457 BC and ends in 1844 AD.[16] It was thought that the end of this period would bring the End of Days as advocated by the Millerite movement at the turn of the 19th century.[citation needed]

Chapter Parallel sequence of prophetic elements as understood by Historicists[17][18]
Past Present Future
Daniel 2 Head
Chest & 2 arms
Belly and thighs
2 Legs
2 Feet with toes
Clay & Iron
God's unending kingdom
left to no other people
Daniel 7 Winged Lion Lopsided Bear 4 Headed/4 Winged
Iron toothed beast
w/Little Horn
Judgment scene
Beast slain
A son of man comes in clouds
Given everlasting dominion
He gives it to the saints.[19]
Daniel 8 2-horned Ram
Uni- / 4-horned Goat
4 Winds (Greece)
Little Horn
A Master of Intrigue
Cleansing of Sanctuary
Leads to:
(Kingdom of God)

Baha'i Faith[edit]

The Baha'i Faith interprets the prophecy of the 2300 days and the 70 weeks in the same manner as the Seventh-day Adventists, with the period ending in the year 1844.[20] In Baha'i belief, 1844 marked the end of the old world and the start of the millennial period.[21] This meant the end of the Islamic age, the end of the prophetic cycle of all religions, and the inauguration of the common era where the fulfillment of prophecies would occur for all religions. For the Baha'i, the promise of the return of God's Messenger was fulfilled in this year by the appearance of the Báb, followed 19 years later by Baha'u'llah.[22]


Methodist theologian and historicist Adam Clarke proposed an alternative to the 1844 date as used by Seventh-day Adventists and followers of Bahá'í Faith. Clarke viewed Daniel 8 as a separate vision from Daniel 7. In his 1831 commentary on Daniel 8:14, he states that the 2,300-year period should be calculated from 334 BC, the year Alexander the Great began his conquest of the Persian Empire. His calculation ends in the year 1966, where he links to Daniel 7:25.[23]

See also[edit]




  1. ^ Collins 1984, p. 83.
  2. ^ a b Collins 1984, p. 85.
  3. ^ Boyer 1994, p. 28
  4. ^ a b c Coogan, Michael D.; Brettler, Marc Z.; Newsom, Carol A. et al., eds. (2007). The new Oxford annotated Bible with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books: New Revised Standard Version (Augm. 3rd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. p. 1269, See footnote 8.1–14. ISBN 0-19-528880-7. 
  5. ^ Singer-Towns, Brian (2005). The New American Bible. (Basic youth ed.). Winona, Minn.: Saint Mary's Press. p. 969, See footnote 8,2. ISBN 0-88489-863-6. 
  6. ^ Collins 1984, p. 86: (Josephus Ant. 10.11.7 §§263-66)
  7. ^ Collins 1984, p. 87: (Niditch, ch.3)
  8. ^ Collins 1984, p. 86, 87.
  9. ^ a b c Collins 1984, p. 87.
  10. ^ Michael D. Coogan, ed. (2007). pp. 1269–70, See footnote 8.5.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ Boyer 1994, pp. 28–31.
  12. ^ H. H. Rowley, The Growth of the Old Testament, Harper: 1950, p. 158))
  13. ^ Froom 1948, p. 243
  14. ^ Froom 1948, pp. 244, 245
  15. ^ White, Ellen. "The Great Controversy 1888 Edition". Ellen G White Estate. Retrieved 21 February 2014. 
  16. ^ White, Ellen. "The Great Controversy 1888 Edition". Ellen G White Estate. 
  17. ^ Smith 1944
  18. ^ Anderson 1975
  19. ^ Daniel 7:13-27 see verses 13, 14, 22, 27
  20. ^ Some Answered Questions by 'Abdu'l-Baha (Chapter 10)
  21. ^ Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, CLXVI
  22. ^ Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, XXV
  23. ^ Earle, abridged by Ralph (1831). Adam Clarke's commentary on the Bible (Reprint 1967 ed.). Grand Rapids, Mich.: World Pub. ISBN 9780529106346. 
  24. ^ After table in Froom 1950, pp. 456–7
  25. ^ After table in Froom 1950, pp. 894-75
  26. ^ a b After table in Froom 1948, pp. 528–9
  27. ^ After table in Froom 1948, pp. 784–5
  28. ^ After table in Froom 1946, pp. 744–5