Vision of the Four Beasts
7 In the [a]first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions appeared in his mind as he lay on his bed; then he wrote the dream down and related a summary of it. 2 Daniel said, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea (the nations). 3 And four great beasts, each different from the other, were coming up out of the sea [in succession]. 4 The first (the Babylonian Empire under Nebuchadnezzar) was like a lion and had the wings of an eagle. I kept looking until its wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man; a human mind was given to it.(A) 5 And behold, another beast, a second one (the Medo-Persian Empire), was like a bear, and it was raised up on one side (domain), and three ribs were in its mouth between its teeth; and it was told, ‘Arise, devour much meat.’ 6 After this I kept looking, and behold, another one (the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great), like a leopard, which had on its back four wings like those of a bird; the beast also had four heads (Alexander’s generals, his successors), and power to rule was given to it.(B) 7 After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, [I saw] a fourth beast (the Roman Empire), terrible and extremely strong; and it had huge iron teeth. It devoured and crushed and trampled down what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that came before it, and it had ten horns (ten kings).(C) 8 While I was considering the horns, behold, there came up among them [b]another horn, a little one, and three of the first horns were pulled up by the roots before it; and behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth boasting of great things.
The Ancient of Days Reigns
“I kept looking
Until thrones were set up,
And the Ancient of Days (God) took His seat;
His garment was white as snow
And the hair of His head like pure wool.
His throne was flames of fire;
Its wheels were a burning fire.(D)
“A river of fire was flowing
And coming out from before Him;
A thousand thousands were attending Him,
And ten thousand times ten thousand were standing before Him;
The court was seated,
And the books were opened.
11 Then I kept looking because of the sound of the great and boastful words which the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to be burned with fire. 12 As for the rest of the beasts, their power was taken away; yet their lives were prolonged [for the length of their lives was fixed] for a predetermined time.
The Son of Man Presented
“I kept looking in the night visions,
And behold, [c]on the clouds of heaven
One like a Son of Man was coming,
And He came up to the Ancient of Days
And was presented before Him.
“And to Him (the Messiah) was given dominion (supreme authority),
Glory and a kingdom,
That all the peoples, nations, and speakers of every language
Should serve and worship Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
Which will not pass away;
And His kingdom is one
Which will not be destroyed.(E)
The Vision Interpreted
15 “As for me, Daniel, my spirit was distressed and anxious within me, and the visions [that appeared] in my mind kept alarming (agitating) me. 16 I approached one of those who stood by and began asking him the exact meaning of all this. So he told me and explained to me the interpretation of the things: 17 ‘These four great beasts are four kings who will arise from the earth. 18 But the [d]saints (believers) of the Most High [God] will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come.’(F)
19 “Then I wished to know the exact meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, extremely dreadful, with teeth of iron and claws of bronze, which devoured, crushed and trampled down what was left with its feet, 20 and the meaning of the ten horns (kings) that were on its head and the other horn which came up later, and before which three of the horns fell, specifically, that horn which had eyes and a mouth that boasted great things and which looked larger than the others. 21 As I kept looking, that horn was making war with the saints (believers) and overpowering them(G) 22 until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Most High [God], and the time arrived when the saints (believers) took possession of the kingdom.
23 “Thus the angel said, ‘The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which will be different from all other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down, and crush it. 24 As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the former ones, and he will subdue three kings. 25 He will speak words against the Most High [God] and wear down the saints of the Most High, and he will intend to change the times and the law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, [two] times, and half a time [three and one-half years].(H) 26 But the court [of the Most High] will sit in judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, [first to be] consumed [gradually] and [then] to be destroyed forever. 27 Then the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints (believers) of the Most High; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.’
28 “This is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my [waking] thoughts were extremely troubling and alarming and my face grew pale; but I kept the matter [of the vision and the angel’s explanation] to myself.”
- Daniel 7:1 The events recorded in ch 7 precede the feast recorded in ch 5.
- Daniel 7:8 I.e. the Antichrist.
- Daniel 7:13 As a matter of discussion, one of the ancient rabbis noted an apparent contradiction between the Messiah’s majestic return with clouds in this verse and His humble return on a donkey in Zech 9:9. The solution given was that if Israel is worthy of Him, the Messiah will return with the clouds; if not, He will return on a donkey.
- Daniel 7:18 Some scholars believe the word “saints” in this chapter refers only to Jewish believers; others view “saints” as inclusive.