Daniel awakens from these night visions shaking and pale, but he is never able to shake these thoughts. They are always on his mind.
8 Daniel: In the third year of Belshazzar’s reign over Babylon, I, Daniel, saw another vision.
These events most likely happen around 552 or 551 b.c.
This vision followed the first I had just a couple of years earlier. 2 In my vision, I looked and suddenly found myself in the fortress-city of Susa in the province of Elam. I was standing next to the Ulai Canal. 3 When I looked up, I saw a ram near me standing on the bank of the canal. The ram had two horns, both of which were long, but one was even longer than the other. I watched as the horns grew, and the longer came up after the other, the shorter horn. 4 As I looked, the ram charged to the west, the north, and the south. It defeated all the other beasts in its path, and there was no one great enough to rescue its victims from the ram’s power. It did whatever it liked, and with each conquest, it grew stronger.
5 As I was trying to figure out what I was seeing, suddenly a male goat came from the west to challenge the ram. It moved so quickly across the face of the entire earth that it seemed his feet never touched the ground. On its head the goat had a prominent horn sticking out between its eyes. 6 He approached the ram with the two horns—the same one I had seen standing by the Ulai Canal—and charged at it with a violent rage. 7 I saw the goat in reckless fury butt the ram and shatter his two horns. The ram had no power to stand against its foe, so it was thrown to the ground and trampled to death; there was no one great enough to rescue the ram from the goat’s power. 8 With this conquest, the male goat with the prominent horn took the place of his rival and grew more powerful. But at the height of his power, the great horn was broken off, and four prominent horns grew in its place, each one pointing toward one of the four winds of heaven.
9 A fifth, smaller horn grew out of one of these new horns. Its power grew, and its influence reached toward the south and toward the east and toward the beautiful lands of promise. 10 Then it grew straight up to challenge the army of heaven; it knocked some of the heavenly beings and stars to the ground and trampled them beneath it. 11 The horn grew even greater, and in its arrogance came up against the Prince of the heavenly army. It halted the daily sacrifices to Him and took control of His established sanctuary. 12 As a result of this great rebellion, the heavenly army and the daily sacrifices were handed over to the horn. For a time it cast truth to the ground and succeeded in everything it tried.
13 Then I heard two heavenly beings in conversation with each other.
Heavenly Being (to its companion): When will it all end? How long will these events—the desecrating rebellion, the perverted daily sacrifices, and the trampling of the sanctuary and heavenly army—how long will they continue?
Second Heavenly Being (to me): 14 The world will see 2,300 mornings and evenings before all this will pass. After this the trampling will cease, and the holy sanctuary will be set right.
15 As I, Daniel, was trying to understand the meaning of this vision I had seen, suddenly, someone who looked like a human stood in front of me. 16 I heard a human voice call out, coming from somewhere between the waters of the Ulai Canal.
Voice: Gabriel, explain to this man what he has seen.
17 So the one called Gabriel moved closer to me; as he did, I became very scared. I fell to the ground, my face down.
Gabriel (to Daniel): Son of man, allow me to help you understand this vision. All you have seen has to do with the time of the end.
Some Jews and Christians have read this cryptic language, “time of the end,” to refer to the end of the world; but others believe the context points to the “time of the end” of the exile of God and His people from the full and final restoration of temple worship in Jerusalem.
18 As he was speaking, I slipped into a deep sleep—my face pressed to the ground. But Gabriel touched me and helped me stand to my feet where I was before.
Gabriel: 19 I have been sent here to help you understand the things that will take place later in the final time of wrath; for everything you have seen refers to the appointed time of the end. 20 The ram you saw by the Ulai Canal, the one with the two long horns, represents the kings of Media and Persia. 21 The shaggy male goat represents the king of Greece. The great horn that stuck out between his eyes symbolizes the first king of Greece. 22 The breaking off of the first horn and its replacement by four prominent horns depicts four kingdoms that will arise from this one nation, none of which will have as much power as that first king.
23 When their reign has come to an end,
when their rebellion has run its course,
A new king will rise to power,
defiance written across his face,
expert in riddles and ruses.
24 This king will grow strong—
but not on his own power.
He will stun the world with his dreadful destruction
and succeed in everything he tries.
He will wipe out a vast circle of mighty leaders
and turn his deadly hand against the holy people of God.
25 He will use his skill and power to stir up deceit;
in the darkness of his heart he shall believe himself great.
When all seems well, he will destroy many people,
and will even stand up against the Prince of princes.
But when the time is right, he will be broken,
though not by a human hand.
26 What you have seen and heard about the 2,300 evenings and the mornings is true. It will happen, but not for a long time. So seal up this vision and keep it a secret, for now.
Daniel: 27 With this I, Daniel, was completely exhausted. I was ill for several days, unable to get out of bed. But after a time I grew stronger, got up, and resumed my service to the king. But I was very upset by the vision, for though I tried, I could never really understand it.