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Asbury Bible Commentary – VIII. The Ram And The Goat (Ch. 8)
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VIII. The Ram And The Goat (Ch. 8)

VIII. The Ram And The Goat (Ch. 8)

Two years later Daniel had another dream/vision dominated by wild animals, a ram and a goat. Daniel saw them not in Babylon where he was, but near Susa by the Ulai Canal, which connected the now-named Kerkha and Abdizful rivers.

There he saw first a ram with two long horns charging in every direction, defeating all foes he met. Then a goat with one horn between his eyes charged out of the west and defeated the ram. Later the one horn was broken off and replaced by four horns and then a fifth one that grew very large. It gained power even over the Beautiful Land (the land of Israel). The temple was desecrated and also worshipers of God, the saints, were given over to it.

Gabriel explained the vision to Daniel. Daniel was terrified, but addressing him as son of man, Gabriel stated that the animals and their activities represented events in the time of the end.

Though Daniel was having difficulty coping with the content of the vision, he heard Gabriel explain that the two-horned ram was a symbol of the kings of the Medes and Persians, and the goat a symbol of the king of Greece. The single horn was the first king and the four horns that replaced it were kings of four subdivisions of the Grecian Empire. The little horn that grew great in power would be vicious and destructive, even challenging the Prince of princes, the almighty God.

Gabriel confirmed the truth of these predictions and commanded Daniel to seal up the vision. Centuries have gone by since then, and history preserves the records of the rise and fall of the ram, the Persian Empire (539-333 b.c.), which was dominated by two peoples (two horns), the Medes and the Persians.

History also records the remarkable conquest of that empire by the Greeks led by Alexander the Great (the single horn on the goat) beginning in 333 b.c. He died suddenly at the age of thirty-three in 323. His vast empire was divided among four generals: Seleucus, ruler of Babylon; Ptolemy, ruler of Egypt; Lysimachus, ruler of Thrace and Asia Minor; and Cassander, ruler of Greece and Macedonia.

The little horn was Antiochus IV Epiphanes (215-163 b.c.) whose center of power was in Syria. He invaded Egypt in 170-169 b.c. and Parthia as well. He took control of the land of Israel from Egypt and terrorized the Jews who lived there. In December 168 b.c. he ordered his armies to seize Jerusalem, set up an idol of Zeus in the temple, and sacrificed pigs on the altar.

Two years later the Jews revolted under the leadership of the priest Mattathias, and the next year one of his sons, Judas Maccabeus, rededicated the temple in Jerusalem. The date was December 25, 165 b.c. Jews still celebrate this occasion in their Feast of Hanukkah.

Antiochus IV died insane in Persia in 163 or 164 b.c. God and his saints had won again.