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Daniel 8:1-14

Context
Daniel Has a Vision of a Goat and a Ram

8:1 1 In the third year 2  of King Belshazzar’s reign, a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after the one that had appeared to me previously. 3  8:2 In this 4  vision I saw myself in Susa 5  the citadel, 6  which is located in the province of Elam. In the vision I saw myself at the Ulai Canal. 7  8:3 I looked up 8  and saw 9  a 10  ram with two horns standing at the canal. Its two horns were both long, 11  but one was longer than the other. The longer one was coming up after the shorter one. 8:4 I saw that the ram was butting westward, northward, and southward. No animal 12  was able to stand before it, and there was none who could deliver from its power. 13  It did as it pleased and acted arrogantly. 14 

8:5 While I was contemplating all this, 15  a male goat 16  was coming from the west over the surface of all the land 17  without touching the ground. This goat had a conspicuous horn 18  between its eyes. 8:6 It came to the two-horned ram that I had seen standing beside the canal and rushed against it with raging strength. 19  8:7 I saw it approaching the ram. It went into a fit of rage against the ram 20  and struck it 21  and broke off its two horns. The ram had no ability to resist it. 22  The goat hurled the ram 23  to the ground and trampled it. No one could deliver the ram from its power. 24  8:8 The male goat acted even more arrogantly. But no sooner had the large horn become strong than it was broken, and there arose four conspicuous horns 25  in its place, 26  extending toward the four winds of the sky. 27 

8:9 From one of them came a small horn. 28  But it grew to be very big, toward the south and the east and toward the beautiful land. 29  8:10 It grew so big it reached the army 30  of heaven, and it brought about the fall of some of the army and some of the stars 31  to the ground, where it trampled them. 8:11 It also acted arrogantly against the Prince of the army, 32  from whom 33  the daily sacrifice was removed and whose sanctuary 34  was thrown down. 8:12 The army was given over, 35  along with the daily sacrifice, in the course of his sinful rebellion. 36  It hurled 37  truth 38  to the ground and enjoyed success. 39 

8:13 Then I heard a holy one 40  speaking. Another holy one said to the one who was speaking, “To what period of time does the vision pertain – this vision concerning the daily sacrifice and the destructive act of rebellion and the giving over of both the sanctuary and army to be trampled?” 8:14 He said to me, “To 2,300 evenings and mornings; 41  then the sanctuary will be put right again.” 42 

1 sn Dan 8:1 marks the switch from Aramaic (= 2:4b-7:28) back to Hebrew as the language in which the book is written in its present form. The remainder of the book from this point on (8:1-12:13) is in Hebrew. The bilingual nature of the book has been variously explained, but it most likely has to do with the book’s transmission history.

2 sn The third year of King Belshazzar’s reign would have been ca. 551 B.C. Daniel would have been approximately 69 years old at the time of this vision.

3 tn Heb “in the beginning.” This refers to the vision described in chapter seven.

4 tn Heb “the.”

5 sn Susa (Heb. שׁוּשַׁן, shushan), located some 230 miles (380 km) east of Babylon, was a winter residence for Persian kings during the Achaemenid period. The language of v. 2 seems to suggest that Daniel may not have been physically present at Susa, but only saw himself there in the vision. However, the Hebrew is difficult, and some have concluded that the first four words of v. 2 in the MT are a later addition (cf. Theodotion).

6 tn The Hebrew word בִּירָה (birah, “castle, palace”) usually refers to a fortified structure within a city, but here it is in apposition to the city name Susa and therefore has a broader reference to the entire city (against this view, however, see BDB 108 s.v. 2). Cf. NAB “the fortress of Susa”; TEV “the walled city of Susa.”

7 tn The term אוּבַל (’uval = “stream, river”) is a relatively rare word in biblical Hebrew, found only here and in vv. 3 and 6. The Ulai was apparently a sizable artificial canal in Susa (cf. NASB, NIV, NCV), and not a river in the ordinary sense of that word.

8 tn Heb “lifted my eyes.”

9 tn Heb “and behold.”

10 tn Heb “one.” The Hebrew numerical adjective occasionally functions like an English indefinite article. See GKC 401 §125.b.

11 tn Heb “high” (also “higher” later in this verse).

12 tn Or “beast” (NAB).

13 tn Heb “hand.” So also in v. 7.

14 tn In the Hiphil the Hebrew verb גָּדַל (gadal, “to make great; to magnify”) can have either a positive or a negative sense. For the former, used especially of God, see Ps 126:2, 3; Joel 2:21. In this chapter (8:4, 8, 11, 25) the word has a pejorative sense, describing the self-glorification of this king. The sense seems to be that of vainly assuming one’s own superiority through deliberate hubris.

15 tn The words “all this” are added in the translation for stylistic reasons and for clarification.

16 tn Heb “and behold, a he-goat of the goats.”

17 tn Or “of the whole earth” (NAB, ASV, NASB, NRSV).

18 tn Heb “a horn of vision” [or “conspicuousness”], i.e., “a conspicuous horn,” one easily seen.

19 tn Heb “the wrath of its strength.”

20 tn Heb “him.”

21 tn Heb “the ram.”

22 tn Heb “stand before him.”

23 tn Heb “he hurled him.” The referents of both pronouns (the male goat and the ram) have been specified in the translation for clarity.

24 sn The goat of Daniel’s vision represents Greece; the large horn represents Alexander the Great. The ram stands for Media-Persia. Alexander’s rapid conquest of the Persians involved three battles of major significance which he won against overwhelming odds: Granicus (334 B.C.), Isus (333 B.C.), and Gaugemela (331 B.C.).

25 tn The word “horns” is not in the Hebrew text, but is implied.

26 sn The four conspicuous horns refer to Alexander’s successors. After his death, Alexander’s empire was divided up among four of his generals: Cassander, who took Macedonia and Greece; Lysimachus, who took Thrace and parts of Asia Minor; Seleucus, who took Syria and territory to its east; and Ptolemy, who took control of Egypt.

27 tn Or “the heavens.” The Hebrew term שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated “heavens” or “sky” depending on the context.

28 sn This small horn is Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who controlled the Seleucid kingdom from ca. 175-164 B.C. Antiochus was extremely hostile toward the Jews and persecuted them mercilessly.

29 sn The expression the beautiful land (Heb. הַצֶּבִי [hatsÿvi] = “the beauty”) is a cryptic reference to the land of Israel. Cf. 11:16, 41, where it is preceded by the word אֶרֶץ (’erets, “land”).

30 tn Traditionally, “host.” The term refers to God’s heavenly angelic assembly, which he sometimes leads into battle as an army.

31 sn In prescientific Israelite thinking the stars were associated with the angelic members of God’s heavenly assembly. See Judg 5:20; Job 38:7; Isa 40:26. In west Semitic mythology the stars were members of the high god’s divine assembly (see Isa 14:13).

32 sn The prince of the army may refer to God (cf. “whose sanctuary” later in the verse) or to the angel Michael (cf. 12:1).

33 tn Or perhaps “and by him,” referring to Antiochus rather than to God.

34 sn Here the sanctuary is a reference to the temple of God in Jerusalem.

35 tc The present translation reads וּצְבָאָהּ נִתַּן (utsÿvaah nittan) for the MT וְצָבָא תִּנָּתֵן (vÿtsavatinnaten). The context suggests a perfect rather than an imperfect verb.

36 tn Heb “in (the course of) rebellion.” The meaning of the phrase is difficult to determine. It could mean “due to rebellion,” referring to the failures of the Jews, but this is not likely since it is not a point made elsewhere in the book. The phrase more probably refers to the rebellion against God and the atrocities against the Jews epitomized by Antiochus.

37 tc Two medieval Hebrew MSS and the LXX have a passive verb here: “truth was hurled to the ground” (cf. NIV, NCV, TEV).

38 sn Truth here probably refers to the Torah. According to 1 Macc 1:56, Antiochus initiated destruction of the sacred books of the Jews.

39 tn Heb “it acted and prospered.”

40 sn The holy one referred to here is presumably an angel. Cf. 4:13[10], 23 [20].

41 sn The language of evenings and mornings is reminiscent of the creation account in Genesis 1. Since “evening and morning” is the equivalent of a day, the reference here would be to 2,300 days. However, some interpreters understand the reference to be to the evening sacrifice and the morning sacrifice, in which case the reference would be to only 1,150 days. Either way, the event that marked the commencement of this period is unclear. The event that marked the conclusion of the period is the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem following the atrocious and sacrilegious acts that Antiochus implemented. This took place on December 25, 165 B.C. The Jewish celebration of Hanukkah each year commemorates this victory.

42 tn Heb “will be vindicated” or “will be justified.” This is the only occurrence of this verb in the Niphal in the OT. English versions interpret it as “cleansed” (KJV, ASV), “restored” (NASB, TEV, NLT), or “reconsecrated” (NIV).



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