Daniel 7:15 "As for me, Daniel, my spirit was distressed within me, and the visions in my mind kept alarming me. (Distressed: Da 7:28 8:27 Jer 15:17,18 17:16 Hab 3:16 Lk 19:41, 42, 43, 44 Ro 9:2,3-note Rev 10:9, 10, 11-note) (visions: Da 2:1,3 4:5 Ge 40:7,8 41:8)
Distressed - The Aramaic verb conveys the picture of one who is pierced. Why was he distressed, even "pierced in his spirit"? The context answers this question for as the vision and its interpretation unfolds, Daniel's learns that the rise of the Little Horn will bring a 3.5 year period of great tribulation (Da 7:21-note, Da 7:25-note) on his people the Jews. Obviously all believers during this 3.5 year period will be persecuted by the Little Horn, but Daniel was not aware of the NT saints from every tribe, tongue, people and nation (cp Rev 7:9-note, Rev 7:14-note).
Jeske reminds us that…
The Lord’s prophets, the men who spoke for God and wrote the books of the Old Testament, were not automatons; they were not simply voice boxes and writing instruments totally without emotions. They were human beings who had strong feelings. Here Daniel felt an inner hurt when he got a glimpse of the political turmoil soon to engulf the world. (Jeske, J. C. Daniel. The People's Bible 142. Milwaukee, Wis.: Northwestern Pub. House)
Within me - Literally "in the midst of the sheath" (cp Young's Literal - Da 7:15YLT). The Aramaic word found only here in Scripture literally describes a sheath as one uses to keep a sword. Clearly in this context the meaning is figurative, picturing Daniel's spirit as within his body just as a sword fits in a sheath.
Kept alarming me - This Aramaic verb behar means primarily to hasten or be in a hurry and figuratively conveys the sense of to be disturbed, troubled, frightened or terrified (as was Nebuchadnezzar in Da 4:5 and Daniel himself in Da 4:19). When behar means troubled or frightened it is always in the context of a divine dream or vision.
Behar - 11x in 10v - Da 2:25; 3:24; 4:5, 19; 5:6, 9, 10; 6:19; 7:15, 28. NAS = alarm(2), alarmed(3), alarming(2), haste(2), hurriedly(1), kept alarming(1).
There is an application for believers in this passage. Is our study of Bible prophecy more of an intellectual exercise or are we being profoundly affected by the sharp, powerful Word of God regarding His incredible plan for the ages which will affect all mankind?
Daniel 7:16 "I approached one of those who were standing by and began asking him the exact meaning of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things: (one: Da 7:10 8:13, 14, 15, 16 10:5,6,11,12 12:5,6 Zech 1:8, 9, 10, 11 2:3 3:7 Rev 5:5-note Rev 7:13,14-note)
One of those - Daniel does further identify "those" but the plural pronoun indicates there is more than one. In the context of explanations in Daniel's later visions, these individuals are most likely angels (cp the angel Gabriel in Da 8:16, Da 9:21). This may be the same one who spoke in Da 7:5-note commanding the bear "Arise, devour much meat." And so most commentators (and I agree) make the assumption from the interpreter is an angelic messenger.
Keil offers another possibility identifying one of those who were standing by as a reference to…
to those mentioned in Da 7:10, who stood around the throne of God. (Daniel Commentary) (Comment: There were certainly enough! "Thousands upon thousands"!)
Further support that this is an angelic interpreter is the occurrence of similar human/angelic interactions in the another apocalyptic book, the Revelation, John recording that…
one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” (Rev 21:9-note)
Began asking him the exact meaning of all this - Literally “and certainty I asked of him concerning all this.”
Interpretation - Is the Aramaic word peshar which describes the act of expounding or unfolding what is not obvious so that the intended meaning or significance might be understood. This pattern of first the vision and then the interpretation is also found in Daniel 8 and Daniel 10.
Peshar - 26v in Daniel - Da 2:4, 5, 6, 7,, 9, 16, 24, 25, 26, 30, 36, 45; 4:6, 7, 9, 18, 19, 24; 5:7, 8, 12, 15, 16, 17, 26; 7:16.
John Walvoord makes an important point regarding interpretation of symbolic (figurative) language frequently encountered in prophetic literature such as Daniel 7 noting that…
It should be borne in mind that when a symbol is interpreted, while the symbol is obviously parabolic (Ed: Idea is makes a comparison) and figurative, the interpretation should be taken literally. Accordingly, the explanation can be taken as a factual exegesis of the truth involved in the vision. (Daniel 7 - Daniel's Vision Of Future World History)
It is in the literal interpretation of the figurative or symbolic where the reader can encounter a significant variation between interpreters. In Daniel the dreams/visions fortunately are accompanied by an interpretation which greatly aids accurate interpretation.
Whitcomb adds an interesting note that…
We may be profoundly grateful that Daniel was not satisfied with his visionary prophetic lesson that night. He had an insatiable desire for more and more explanations and interpretations of God's infinitely precious Word, and therefore more truth was given to him and to us by the interpreting angel. How much of His Word would never have been revealed if (on the purely human level) Christ's disciples had never asked questions of their Lord! God invites us to ask Him for wisdom in the interpretation of His Word (James 1:5), with the understanding that He is not obliged to reveal to us all of His "secret things" (Deut. 29:29; John 16:12). Nevertheless, many of God's servants would give a great deal to stand, as it were, in Daniel's shoes and to ask an angelic interpreter "the exact meaning of all this"! (Whitcomb, J: Daniel- Everyman's Bible Commentary)
Speaking of interpreters of Daniel's night vision, Gingrich writes that modern…
Interpreters of the book of Daniel may be divided into two schools: (1) the school of the higher critics and (2) the school of the conservatives. The scholars of the school of the higher critics teach that the book of Daniel is a Second Century B.C. forgery and that the so-called prophecy found in the book is really history and was history at the time the book was written. They teach that the four empires spoken of in chapters two and seven have reference to The Babylonian Empire, The Median Empire, The Persian Empire, and The Grecian Empire. The scholars of the school of the conservatives teach that the book of Daniel is a genuine production of Daniel written in the Sixth Century B.C. and that the prophecy found in the book was genuine prophecy at the time the book was written. They teach that the four empires spoken of in chapters two and seven are The Babylonian Empire, The Medo-Persian Empire, The Grecian Empire, and The Roman Empire.
The conservative school is divided into two sub-schools, the sub-school of the Amillennialists and Postmillennialists and the sub-school of the Premillennialists. The scholars of the sub-school of the Amillennialists and Postmillennialists teach that the destruction of the fourth Gentile world-empire, the Roman Empire, spoken of in Daniel, chapters two and seven, has been a gradual destruction accomplished by the church. The scholars of the sub-school of the Premillennialists teach that the destruction of the fourth Gentile world empire spoken of in Daniel, chapters two and seven, is to be a sudden, cataclysmic, destruction accomplished by Christ at His Second Advent (the Roman Empire is to be revived during “The Seventieth Week of Daniel” and will be smitten and destroyed by Christ at His Second coming). So we see that the prophecy of “The Times of the Gentiles” is a controversial prophecy. (Gingrich, R. E.. The Times of the Gentiles. Memphis, TN.: Riverside Printing).
Does the study of prophecy in general, especially the prophecies of Daniel 7 frustrate you and make you think you can never grasp the truth?
John Whitcomb offers this encouraging word…
Biblical revelation does follow consistent patterns, even in eschatology, so that the careful and reverent interpreter need not be totally frustrated, even by the use of symbolic language. (Whitcomb, J: Daniel- Everyman's Bible Commentary)
Daniel 7:17 'These great beasts, which are four in number, are four kings who will arise from the earth. (great: Da 7:3,4-note Da 2:37, 38, 39, 40-note Da 8:19, 20, 21, 22) (From: Da 7:3-note Ps 17:14 Jn 18:36 Rev 13:1-note, Rev 13:11-note)
The interpreter begins to speak and gives a summary interpretation of the vision in Da 7:17, 18, explaining that 4 beastly Gentile kingdoms will be followed by the fifth everlasting divine kingdom (Da 7:18).
FIRST THE BAD NEWS
Great beasts… four… are four kings - The figurative language of Da 7:3ff is given a literal interpretation. As we have noted a king is virtually always identified with a kingdom and so the night vision has to do with 4 "beast-like" kingdoms. The 4 beastly kingdoms are considered together, almost like a unit (all would be destroyed at the same time - Da 2:35), similar to the earlier description of "a single great statue" (Da 2:31)
Why is four repeated? While not necessary, the idea seems to be that each one of the individual beasts symbolizes an individual king (kingdom).
Will arise - Although Daniel is living in the time of the first beast, Babylon, the majority of this prophetic vision is future to him ("will" = future tense). From our 21st Century vantage point most of this vision is fulfilled prophecy or history ("have arisen" = past tense), a fact which should strengthen our faith and confidence that what is yet unfulfilled will be fulfilled to the last detail (cp Isa 42:9).
From the earth - In Da 7:3-note (cp Da 2:37, 38, 39, 40-note) they arose from the sea which as we discussed most likely pictures the origin of the beastly kingdoms from the peoples or nations of the world.
Daniel 7:18 'But the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come.' (saints: Da 7:22,27 Ps 45:16 149:5, 6, 7, 8, 9 Isa 60:12, 13, 14 2Ti 2:11,12-note Rev 2:26-note, Rev 2:27-note Rev 3:21-note Rev 5:10-note Rev 20:4-note)(Highest One Eph 1:3 6:12)
THEN THE GOOD NEWS
But - Introduces a contrast. This interpretation regarding the saints of the Highest One was not revealed in Nebuchadnezzar's dream in Daniel 2. In the vision the Son of Man was first seen being given the Kingdom but now the interpreter tells Daniel that the saints of the Most High shall receive it, the implication being that they will receive the kingdom with the King! (Rev 1:6-note, Rev 2:26-note, Rev 2:27-note, Rev 3:21-note, Rev 5:10-note, Rev 20:6-note)
Archer commenting on the Highest One writes that "qaddise elyonin, with the plural of majesty for Most High".
Saints of the Highest One - Saints = "holy ones". This exact phrase occurs 4 times in the interpretative section of the vision (Da 7:18, 22, 25, 27). Who are these saints? Some conservative commentators feel Daniel is primarily referring to OT saints (Jewish believers ~ "the remnant"), while others say he is referring to all saints (including those in the church age). As discussed in Da 7:15-note, from Daniel's viewpoint in the 6th century BC all he understood (or had revealed) was the Jewish perspective, but clearly all believers will in some fashion reign with Christ (see 2Ti 2:11,12-note Rev 2:26-note, Rev 2:27-note Rev 3:21-note Rev 5:10-note Rev 20:4-note).
J Vernon McGee - The identity of “the saints” is the important factor of this statement. There are five verses in this chapter which mention them (see also Da 7:21, 22, 25, 27). Reference to them occurs again in Daniel 8:24. Immediately one school of prophetic interpretation assumes they are New Testament saints… My friend, God has a pretty big family. In the Old Testament He had Old Testament saints. The nation Israel were called saints; the Gentiles who came in as proselytes were called saints of God. That’s a different company from New Testament saints today who are in the church.
A C Gaebelein - There are other Saints besides "Church Saints." The Saints of whom Daniel was thinking were his own beloved people (Jewish believers). To that people is promised a kingdom in the days of the Messiah. With Him the Lord in Glory, there is a heavenly people, so as Messiah and the Son of Man in connection with the earth He has an earthly people, Saints which will receive and possess with Him that kingdom which will fill the whole earth. These Saints are the God-fearing Jews, who pass through the great tribulation and inherit the blessings and promises which God gave through their own prophets. (The Prophet Daniel: A Key to the Visions and Prophecies of the Book of Daniel)
Dr Donald Campbell - The saints, the saved of all ages, will enter and enjoy to the full the time of Christ's reign. Their position is to be the opposite of what would be characteristic of the previous kingdoms, for then evil would dominate and evil men reign. (Daniel: God's Man in a Secular Society) (Bolding and color added)
Dr John Walvoord has a somewhat confusing comment on saints noting that "there has been considerable discussion as to the reference of “the saints,” it would seem to include the saved of all ages as well as the holy angels which may be described as “the holy ones". (Note: While I would not disagree with the first part of his explanation, I am not sure that Scripture substantiates that angels will "possess the kingdom" in the same manner as those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. To be sure, the angels will be in the fifth, everlasting kingdom but as Heb 1:14-note asks speaking of the angels "are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?") (Bolding and color added)
The kingdom - This is the "fifth", final, divine kingdom that follows the 4 finite, ephemeral, beastly Gentile kingdoms. The fifth kingdom represents the Kingdom which the Son of Man received from the Ancient of Days (Da 7:14-note).
Gleason Archer - The reason for emphasizing the participation of God's people in the final kingdom seems to be that it is a literal, earthly kingdom, replacing the previous empires of men, rather than a spiritual domain, a sort of ideal kingdom of God consisting only of the Lord Himself. (Gaebelein, F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary)
Dr Campbell references an interesting anecdotal story…
In 1776, American preachers, politicians, and many ordinary citizens interpreted this chapter as applying to America, particularly the promise that the "saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom" (Da 7:27). Evidence seems clear that our forefathers saw themselves as a nation with a millennial destiny. In 1771, Timothy Dwight, for instance, wrote a hymn, "America," which expresses this fond ideal:
Hail Land of Light and Joy! Thy power shall grow
But America has not and will not launch God's kingdom of justice and plenty. For that, we await the climactic and glorious return of Jesus Christ. (Daniel: God's Man in a Secular Society by Donald K Campbell)
Daniel 7:19 "Then I desired to know the exact meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its claws of bronze, and which devoured, crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet (fourth: Da 7:7 2:40, 41, 42, 43)
(Da 7:19, 20, 21, 22)
Then I desired to know (Daniel speaks from Da 7:19-22) - Daniel qualifies his question.
Desired to know the exact meaning of the fourth beast - The first 3 beastly kingdoms were of less interest to Daniel.
Claws of bronze - This is a new detail added to those reiterated from Da 7:7.
Daniel 7:20 and the meaning of the ten horns that were on its head and the other horn which came up, and before which three of them fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth uttering great boasts and which was larger in appearance than its associates. (Appearance: Da 11:36,37 )
Ten horns that were on its head - We have seen the ten horns before, but now he specifies they are on his head.
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (I do not agree with this interpretation but present it as an example of the mental gymnastics which one must invoke if they reject a literal, futuristic interpretation of the 10 king stage of Rome. Note that in this example, they are forced to invoke a sequence of kingdoms and do not describe 10 kingdoms which are contemporaneous which the text in Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 strongly favors.)
The ten kingdoms into which the western Roman empire was divided; which were primarily, according to Machiavel and Bp. Lloyd, 1. The Huns in Hungary, A.D. 356. 2. The Ostrogoths in Moesia, 377. 3. The Visigoths in Pannonia, 378. 4. The Sueves and Alans in Gascoigne and Spain, 407. 5. The Vandals in Africa, 407. 6. The Franks in France, 407. 7. The Burgundians in Burgundy, 407. 8. The Heruli and Turingi in Italy, 476. 9. The Saxons and Angles in Britain, 476. 10. The Lombards, first upon the Danube, 526, and afterwards in Italy. Though the ten kingdoms differed from these in later periods, and were sometimes more or less, (Ed note: 10 is 10 not more, not less. Yes, Daniel says 3 of the 10 are subdued but they are still 10 and even at this stage there must be a ruler who "rises to the top" so to speak, a fact that is not fulfilled in history, no matter how clever the mental gymnastics!) yet they were still known by that name.
THE LITTLE HORN
The other horn - The Little Horn (LH) of Da 7:8-note. Most commentators who interpret these passages literally and from a futuristic viewpoint (and accept the principle of predictive prophecy), interpret the LH as the Anti-Christ (1Jn 2:18-note). The prefix "anti-" has 2 meanings, both of which are fulfilled by the coming Anti-Christ - (1) Instead of and (2) Against. So if you are an Orthodox Jew, you are looking for the Messiah (thinking that this will be his first coming), and on the world scene comes a man who comes "instead of" the true Christ (Messiah) and "against" the true Christ. And since he performs signs and wonders (Jn 7:31, 2Thes 2:8, 9, 10, 11, 12), many will be deceived thinking he is the true Christ. And when he recovers from a fatal wound, they will be fully convinced he is the Christ (see Rev 13:3-note, Rev 13:4-note, Rev 13:8-note).
Which was larger in appearance than its associates - The one who started out as a "little" horn has grown in stature, power and prestige. Many of the uses of the Aramaic word rab translated "larger" in this passage speak of one who in a position of authority or power over others. This word is used to describe the Stone which became a great mountain (Da 2:35) which filled the whole earth.
Larger (Aramaic = rab) - 21 verses - Ezra 4:10; 5:8, 11; Da 2:10, 14, 31, 35, 45, 48; 4:3, 9, 30; 5:1, 11; 7:2, 3, 7, 8, 11, 17, 20, rendered in NAS as boastful(1), captain(1), chief(3), great(15), large(2), larger(1).
Daniel 7:21 "I KEPT LOOKING AND THAT HORN WAS WAGING WAR WITH THE SAINTS AND OVERPOWERING THEM (A different rather small horn in Da 8:9-12,24, Da 11:31 12:7 Rev 11:7, 8, 9, Rev 12:3,4, Rev 13:5-7, 8-18, 17:6,14 19:19 )
The horn was waging war with the saints - The little horn that had increased in stature ("larger", Da 7:20). It is worth noting that although there are numerous passages describing this evil personage, the New Testament does not emphasize the initial phase of the career of the final Antichrist.
In Revelation, after the world has witnessed the healing of the Anti-Christ's fatal wound, they will ask "Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?" (Rev 13:3-note) John goes on to record that…
It was also given (Note: God is sovereign and any power the Anti-Christ has even if it from the Dragon [Rev 13:2-note], is ultimately from God and is permitted by God so that His purposes might be accomplished) to him to make war with the saints and to overcome (subdue, conquer, get the victory over) them, and authority (exousia [word study] = the right and the might) over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. (Rev 13:7-note)
Daniel 7:22 UNTIL THE ANCIENT OF DAYS CAME AND JUDGMENT WAS PASSED IN FAVOR OF THE SAINTS OF THE HIGHEST ONE AND THE TIME ARRIVED WHEN THE SAINTS TOOK POSSESSION OF THE KINGDOM (Ancient: Da 7:9, 10, 11 2Th 2:8 Rev 11:11-18 14:8-20 19:11-21 20:9-15) (Judgment: Da 7:18 Isa 63:4 Mt 19:28 Lk 22:29,30 1Co 6:2,3 Rev 1:6 3:21 5:10 Rev 20:4)
Until - This very important "time phrase" until (see expressions of time) marks the end of the reign of the beastly kingdoms, the times of the Gentiles (Lk 21:24, distinguish from the phrase "fullness of the Gentiles" - Ro 11:25-note) and the beginning of the reign of the Righteous Branch (see Jer 23:5 = He will reign as King, Jer 33:15, 16 In those days = Second Coming), the King of kings (Rev 17:14-note, Rev 19:11-note, Rev 19:12-note, Rev 19:13-note, Rev 19:14-note, Rev 19:15-note, Rev 19:16-note), the Lord Jesus Christ.
Note that these passages would suggest that the anti-Christ exerts his nefarious influence on the world in general and the saints in particular in the three and one-half years immediately preceding the Lord's return.
Judgment (Da 7:10, Da 7:26) - Judgment is meted out against the horn (Da 7:21) terminating his 3.5 year (time, times and half a time - Da 7:25) reign of terror and bloodshed against the Jews and all who support them (the Great Tribulation - Mt 24:21-note, the time of Jacob's distress - Jer 30:7-note), which would support the premise that in this context the Ancient of Days is God the Son, Who in Da 7:13 was referred to as the Son of Man. We know from other passages that it is the return of God the Son Who brings about the defeat of the Antichrist (2Th 2:8, 9, 10). In Daniel 7:9 the Ancient of Days is obviously God the Father. That Jesus is known by the Father's name should not come as a major surprise given the co-equality inherent in the doctrine of the Trinity. In fact, instances such as this help one understand when Isaiah 9:6 refers to God the Son as Eternal Father!
The saints took possession of the kingdom (Da 7:18, Da 7:27) - Amazing grace! Not only does God save sinners but He bestows a kingdom. Hallelujah! (cf Rev 1:6KJV-note, Rev 2:26-note, Rev 5:10KJV-note [notice where they are to reign!], Rev 20:4, 5, 6-note)
"Behold, the days are coming," declares the LORD, "When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch and He will reign as King (cf Rev 3:21-note) and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land (Note: "The land" = the land of Israel. He does not say the "New heaven" or "New earth". Messiah's reign will be on this present earth contrary to what is taught by amillennialists. Such an interpretative approach encounters considerable difficulty with passages such as these which clearly describe the land of Israel!). In His (Messiah's) days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely (Note: There would be no need for this statement if this were referring to the New Earth); and this is His name by which He will be called, 'The LORD our righteousness.' (Jehovah Tsidkenu) 7 "Therefore behold, the days are coming," declares the LORD, "when they will no longer say, 'As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt,' 8 but, 'As the LORD lives, who brought up and led back the descendants of the household of Israel from the north land and from all the countries where I had driven them.' Then (When? When Messiah returns as King of kings to rule and reign in His Kingdom) they (Israel) will live on their own soil" (Beloved, the amillennial approach to a passage such as this does not yield a reasonable, logical, literal interpretation. One would be forced to spiritualize this passage which when read normally can and should be taken literally.)." (Jeremiah 23:5, 6, 7, 8)
Daniel 7:23 "Thus he said: 'The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it. (fourth: Da 7:7, Da 2:40 Lk 2:1)
Thus he said - The interpreter, presumably an angel (Da 7:16-note), addresses Daniel's question about the fourth beast and specifically the Little Horn.
Fourth beast - The "DT" (dreadful and terrifying) Beast (Da 7:7-note)
Will be a fourth kingdom on the earth - This is the first time in Daniel 7 that the fourth beast is specifically identified as the fourth kingdom (cp the corresponding identification in Da 2:40-note). The fact that the fourth kingdom is on the earth lends support to the interpretation that the fifth and final kingdom ruled by the Son of Man will be a literal earthly kingdom which has its inception when the Son of Man returns as the Stone (Da 2:34-note) to crush the fourth kingdom and then fill the whole earth (Da 2:35-note = Observe that in Da 2:35b the great mountain… that … filled the whole earth is specifically identified in Da 2:44-note as "a kingdom" [the "fifth" kingdom, the Messianic kingdom ruled by the Son of Man])
The whole earth - This same phrase whole earth is used in Da 4:11 referring to Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom and in Da 8:5 referring to Alexander's kingdom. The point is that this phrase used here of the Roman Empire could have two meanings, one (like Babylon and Greece) being that the Roman Empire exerted power over the known world of that day. This was historically fulfilled.
There is a second way to understand whole earth and that is as a description of the entire globe, all the nations and peoples of the world. While ancient Rome clearly did not literally rule the whole earth, other Scriptures substantiate that out of the so-called "Revived Roman Empire" will come the final ruler of the final Gentile kingdom (the Little Horn, the Anti-Christ) and he will exert his demonically bestowed supernatural power (Rev 13:2-note) over the whole world (eg, Rev 13:8-note, Rev 13:12-note, see notes on the related phrase Earth Dwellers). The following "Fifth Kingdom", the Kingdom of Christ (Da 2:44-note), as stated above will fill the whole earth (Da 2:35-note).
In summary, whole earth in this context could have the first or the second meaning, but the latter meaning is more compatible with the truth revealed in the following verse.
Daniel 7:24 '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 previous ones and will subdue three kings. (ten: Da 7:20 Rev 12:3 13:1 17:3,12,13,16, 17, 18) (another: Da 7:8,20 8:9, 10, 11, 12 11:36 2Th 2:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 1Ti 4:1, 2, 3)
Young's Literal Translation…
And the ten horns out of the kingdom are ten kings, they rise, and another doth rise after them, and it is diverse from the former, and three kings it humbleth (Da 7:24YLT)
Out of this kingdom - Which kingdom? This is the fourth kingdom (Da 7:23), which is historically identifiable as Rome for that empire conquered all 4 heads of the winged leopard, the four divisions of Alexander's Grecian empire. But out of this Roman Empire will arise 10 horns or 10 kings, which from other passages (see Da 7:7, 8) we can identify as 10 kings reigning at the same time, not 10 kings in succession or sequence. This fact forces the honest interrogator to try to identify a historical fulfillment of the "Ten King Stage" of the Roman Empire, which should be easy if such an unusual divided empire existed in world history. But try as one might (and many liberal commentators have tried with all manner of futile speculation), one cannot identify a historical Ten King Stage of Rome.
Then how can one explain the Ten King Stage of Rome? Ultimately one is forced to accept the truth that the Ten King Stage has not yet come into existence on the world stage, and therefore by "default" must be describing a future event. What does such an explanation require? In a word, faith! Hebrews 11:1 (note) type faith! One must believe that God has told us the truth about the preceding 3 beastly Gentile kingdoms (i.e., He is a trustworthy God) and that as the sovereign, omniscient, omnipotent God, He is able to predict the future and bring about fulfillment of such a prediction (cp Isa 42:9 44:7 46:9,10 45:21).
One example of a "futile attempt" to explain the Ten King Stage is found in the ESV Study Bible (which overall an excellent study Bible, but as with all commentaries one must be a Berean - Acts 17:11-note):
The 10 horns could emphasize the extreme power of this empire (five times the normal number of two horns), or more likely it signifies 10 rulers or kingdoms (cf. Dan. 7:24) from Julius Caesar to Domitian there are actually 12 Caesars; but two reigned for only a few months). (ESV Online Study Bible Crossway)
Comment on the ESV Commentary(!): If one refuses to accept by faith that God can predict a Ten King Stage and has the power to bring about a Ten King Stage, the attempts to explain this specific phrase (and phase) can become very distorted and even somewhat bizarre! Not only is the preceding comment attempting to say that 12 is really 10 but it completely ignores the fact that the 10 cannot be a succession of rulers but must be in power at the same time in the form of a divided kingdom, a loose confederacy. In fairness to the ESV Study Bible it should be noted that the notes have a mixture of historical, allegorical and literal/futuristic interpretations, so some of the comments are as the Brits would say "spot on." However the amalgamation of interpretations might lead to some confusion if one is not a relatively mature Bible student.
Ten horns… ten kings - Similar to the "Toe" Stage in Da 2:41, 42, 43, 44-note (the days of those kings = the days of "The Ten King Stage" as described in this verse). This description would be compatible with the "divided kingdom" of Da 2:41-note.
Campbell - The ten horns" symbolize ten rulers that will arise out of the region once controlled by Rome. The kings will all rule at the same time, a phenomenon not to be found in the past. It is to be expected, therefore, that the Roman Empire in this form will reappear and that the ten rulers will be in power in the end times. (See Rev. 13:1; Rev 17:12.) (Daniel: God's Man in a Secular Society by Donald K Campbell)
Walvoord comments that "The endless explanation of critical scholars attempting to find these ten kings in the history of the Grecian Empire or to find them later in Rome, by their very disagreement among themselves demonstrate the impossibility of satisfactorily explaining this verse as past history. If the ten kings are in power at the end of the age, which also seems to be supported by the ten kings of Revelation 13:1-note; Rev 17:12-note, it follows that they must be still future. The fact that they appear in the book of Revelation, written long after the fall of the Grecian Empire, plainly relates them to the Roman Empire in its final stage. (Daniel 7 - Daniel's Vision Of Future World History)
Click example of a "non-literal" interpretation of "10" horns.
Another will arise after them - Another refers to the Little Horn who arises out of the ten king stage of the fourth kingdom. Earlier we learned that the Little Horn would arise among (Da 7:8) the 10 and now we learn he arises after the 10. The implication is that the 10 come first and will be an identifiable entity. After that the Little Horn comes up among these 10 kings who compose a loose confederacy, the fourth kingdom.
Walvoord comments on the attempts to identify the Little Horn as a historical figure writing that "Critics relate this to Antiochus Epiphanes. While Antiochus may foreshadow the activities of the little horn of Daniel 7, the complete fulfillment will be much more severe and extensive." (Daniel 7 - Daniel's Vision Of Future World History)
He… will subdue 3 kings - Notice he is not given the title of "king" in this verse. This is the third time (Da 7:8, 20, 24) we learn of the Little Horn in some way exerting dominance over three of the other kings.
Archer has an interesting comment on the fact that the "Little Horn" will subdue 3 kings writing that…
He will then subject the other seven states to vassalage, somewhat as Hitler subjected Norway, Holland, Hungary, and the Balkan countries to a leader of their local Nazi party. In theory they were separate nations, but in practice they were subservient to Hitler. There is apparently to be a strong personality cult attached to this empire of the little horn (cf. the quasi-deification of Hitler).
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge comments on another (I do not agree with this fanciful interpretation but present it as another example of the confusion that can result when one wanders from away from the "safety net" of literal interpretation) -
This evidently points out the papal supremacy, in every respect diverse from the former, which from small beginnings thrust itself up among the ten kingdoms, till at length it successively eradicated three of them, the kingdom of Heruli, of the Ostrogoths, and of the Lombards.
Ray Stedman has a quote which helps us understand how the world looking for peace could be set up for the emergence and ascension of the Little Horn…
Sir Winston Churchill. while still Prime Minister of Great Britain, speaking in Copenhagen, said this "The creation of an authoritative. all-powerful world order is the ultimate aim toward which we must strive. Unless some effective world super-government can be brought quickly into action. the proposals for peace and human progress are dark and doubtful." (The Coming Caesar)
Daniel 7:25 'He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. (Will speak: Da 7:8,20 11:36,37 Isa 37:23 2Th 2:4 Rev 13:5,6,11) (Wear down: Rev 6:9,10 11:7-10 13:7-10 14:12 16:6 17:6 18:24) (Intend: Da 2:21 11:31,36, 37, 38 12:11 2Th 2:4 1Ti 4:1, 2, 3 Rev 13:15, 16, 17) (time: Da 4:25,32 12:7,11,12 Rev 11:2,3 12:6,14 13:5,7)
He will speak out against the Most High (compare Da 7:8-note , Da 7:20-note , Da 11:36,37-note) - Somewhat paradoxically, the LITTLE Horn (the Antichrist 1Jn 2:18, 22-note, 1Jn 4:3-note) is characterized by "BIG", boastful, blasphemous words (cp 2Th 2:4, Rev 13:5-note, Rev 13:6-note). Most High corresponds to the Hebrew title for God of El Elyon (Most High God - Sovereign Over All).
Wear down (Aramaic - bela) - The Septuagint (LXX) translates the Aramaic with the Greek word katatribo which it literally to rub down or away and hence wear out and exhaust. The Theodotion version of the Greek rendering of Da 7:25 uses palaioo meaning to make old or antiquated and thus to wear out by time and use.
This verse is the only use in Scripture of the Aramaic verb bela which means wear away or wear out as friction wears our clothes or sandals. The related Hebrew verb is balah and its cognate is found in an ancient Ugaritic text rendered “The oxen are worn out” or unfit for plowing. The Hebrew verb balah literally described the Israelites’ garments which did not wear out in the wilderness (Dt 8:4; 29:4; Neh 9:21, contrast Josh 9:13). David used balah figuratively in Psalm 32 confessing that…
When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. (Ps 32:3-note) (We dare not "glide" by this passage while we are here. Beloved, let us heed David's "warning" regarding the effect of unconfessed, undisclosed sin [not brought to the light of 1Jn 1:7, 9] to warp and rot our soul and cause spiritual "erosion" and "decay" in our hearts [cf Pr 4:23-note]. Praise God for the mercy filled gift of confession and repentance. Ps 32:5-note, cf David's brokenness over his sin against God when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and then the murder of Uriah - Ps 51:1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 11, 12, 13, 17-note)
The Revelation amplifies the meaning of wear down the saints the apostle John recording that…
It was also given to him (the "Beast [see in depth description]" to whom "the dragon gave" him his power = Rev 13:2-note, Rev 13:4-note) to make war with the saints and to overcome (nikao - conquer) them, and authority (exousia) over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him (equates with Antichrist's right and the might to exercise worldwide rulership). (Rev 13:7-note)
He will intend to make alterations in times and in law - The exact meaning of this phrase is not certain as illustrated by the following comments from several very conservative (literal approach) expositors. That said, I will offer the following "postulate" for your judicious consideration (Be a Berean - Acts 17:11-note): In Da 9:27-note we note that the Antichrist puts an end to sacrifices and grain offerings and commits the "abomination of desolation" which Jesus declared (Mt 24:15-note) would mark the beginning of the Great Tribulation, the last 3.5 year period, referred to as the "time of Jacob's distress" (Jer 30:7-note). This seminal event in Israel's history is in a sense associated with the Antichrist's making "alterations in… law" when he put an end to the Temple sacrifices (which [during the Daniel's Seventieth Week] the Jews had reinstituted most likely using the guidelines of the laws of Leviticus).
John Walvoord - He (Ed: Little Horn, Antichrist) will also attempt to "change times and laws," that is, to change times of religious observances and religious traditions such as characterize those who worship God. (Reference)
Donald Campbell - He will attempt to change moral and natural laws of the universe, apparently without success. An example of this may be seen in the attempt made by the leaders of the French Revolution to replace the seven-day week established by God with a ten-day week. Their efforts failed. (Daniel: God's Man in a Secular Society)
Gleason Archer - This dictator will impose a new legal system on all his subjects, doubtless based on totalitarian principles in which the service of the government or the state will be substituted for the absolute standards of God's moral law. All dissent or opposition to the decisions and policies of the little horn will be adjudged treasonable and punishable by death. His program will include a revision of the calendar; this seems to be implied by "to change the set times" (zimnin , lengths or periods of time). (Gaebelein, F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary)
Ray Pritchard - No one really knows what this means. Will it involve somehow adjusting the time schedule so that we no longer have a 24-hour day? Will he invoke a five-day week? Or a 15-month year? Changing the laws indicates that he will attack the moral foundations of society. When the antichrist comes to power, wrong will become right and right will become wrong. Moral values will be inverted as he makes his final mad bid for world domination. (Animal Parade)
Whitcomb suggests that "The "law" he will intend to change will probably be the law of God. One law of God is that "the soul who sins will die" (Ezek. 18:4, 20; Ro 6:23). The Antichrist, speaking for the "father of lies," will seek to reverse this foundational law of the moral and spiritual universe, just as Satan said to Eve: "You surely shall not die!" (Gen. 3:4). (Whitcomb, J: Daniel- Everyman's Bible Commentary)
Given into his hand - Hand as so often in Scripture and in this context signifies power, so that the Little Horn exerts power over the saints. The Lxx translates this with the verb paradidomi (word study) which conveys the basic meaning of to give over from one's hand to someone or something, especially to give over to the power of another.
Interpreters that do not hold to a futuristic fulfillment are forced to concoct other entities they think might represent the Little Horn. For example, the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge sees the little horn as papal writing…
In assuming infallibility, professing to forgive sins, and to open and shut heaven, thundering out bulls and anathemas, excommunicating princes, absolving subjects from their allegiance, and exacting obedience to his decrees in open violation of reason and Scripture. (Note: I totally disagree with this genre of imaginative interpretation of the little horn which literally is an individual not an institution.)
Time, times, and half a time (time is the Aramaic noun 'iddan - see note below) - Do not miss the important point that the sovereign God sets a time limit on the Little Horn's power over the saints!
Most conservative commentators (and even many liberals) agree that this time phrase equates with 3.5 years (Time = 1, times = 2, half a time = 0.5 totaling 3.5). But how can one be confident this is "years" and not months or some other unit of time measurement? Remember that the best commentary on Scripture is Scripture. With that in mind as one studies the Revelation there is a repeated time phrase (sometimes in days and sometimes in months) related to the last 7 year period known as Daniel's Seventieth Week. Furthermore in Revelation 12:14 we observe the phrase "time and times and half a time" which corresponds to the same time period in Rev 12:6 described as lasting "one thousand two hundred and sixty days", both these times equating with 3.5 years (42 months) and both occurring in the last 3.5 years of the 7 years (Daniel's Seventieth Week). During this 3.5 year period (which Jesus referred to as the great tribulation) Israel will be persecuted and this fact correlates well with the phrase given into his hands. (cp parallel time in Rev 11:2-note). When these events are studied (in context) it becomes clear that Daniel and John are describing the same event and specifying the same duration of this event as "time and times and half a time" or 3.5 years. There has been no obvious, specific historical fulfillment of this event, which awaits a future fulfillment at the time of the 10 king stage of the fourth Gentile kingdom out of which arises a world ruler who subdues 3 of the 10 kings and overpowers the saints of the Highest One.
Time - Aramaic word = 'iddan which indicates (1) a span or period of time or (2) in some contexts means a point in time. It is translated in the Septuagint with the Greek word kairos (see word study) not chronos.
'Iddan - 13x in 11v all in Daniel - study passages for the various nuances of meaning - Dan 2:8, 9, 21; 3:5, 15; 4:16, 23, 25, 32; 7:12, 25.
See related discussion of this Aramaic noun 'Iddan in the phrase "seven periods of time" in Daniel 4:16.
Whitcomb - This theme of the sufferings of Israelite believers during their future time of Great Tribulation is introduced here (and Da 7:21) in the book of Daniel for the first time, though it will be emphasized increasingly toward the end of the book (Da 8:24; 9:26; Da 11:32, 33, 34, 35; Da 12:10). Moses had predicted this in general terms (Lev 26:17, 19, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 ; Deut. 28). Isaiah had spoken about it as a great purging time (Isa 4:3, 4), and Jeremiah as "the time of Jacob's distress" (Jer 30:7-note). See also Ezekiel 20:1-49, Zechariah 12:1-14, and Malachi 3:1, 2, 3, 4. So devastating will be that final phase of "the day of man" that two-thirds of the nation of Israel will die and, "I will bring the third part through the fire" (Zech. 13:9; cf. Isa. 6:13). Israel's Messiah assured her that "then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall" (Matt. 24:21). In fact, unless those days are "cut short," none will survive at all, "but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short" (Matt 24:22).
Comments on Table: Notice that the "beast" of Rev 13:1 which has 10 horns like the 4th Beast of Daniel 7:7 merges in Rev 13:4 into a beast who is worshiped. In other words the final ruler who is later definitely identified as a "beast" (Rev 13:12, 14, 15, 17, 18) is so closely associated with the Fourth Beastly Kingdom that they are discussed as if they are intimately related (See discussion of term "Beast"). Comparing the descriptions in Daniel and Revelation, one can draw the conclusion that the Little Horn of Daniel 7 is the Beastly Individual of Revelation 13, both describing the final ruler of the final stage of the final Gentile power.
Tony Garland goes in greater detail (Comments on Revelation 13:1) explaining that…
the symbolism of the revelation given to both Daniel and John concerning this time of the end often blurs the distinction between an individual and the government which he leads:
There can be no kingdom without a king, and no empire without an emperor; neither can there be a king in fact without a kingdom. We cannot consistently speak of imperial power and dominion apart from a personal head which represents and embodies that power. (J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation) (The Apocalypse - Online Google Book - this quote is found on page 393)
It is very clear from what follows in Rev. 13 that there is something more than the Empire here in view. In Rev. 13:3-8 it is a person that is before us. We are satisfied that this same person is also described, symbolically, in the opening verses. As is frequently the case in the prophetic scriptures, the king and his kingdom are here inseparably united. Rev. 13:1+, 2+ portrays both the Empire and its last Emperor. (The Antichrist by A. W. Pink)
Is the beast out of the sea a man or an empire? The answer is both. (a) The beast is a man because his number is that of a man (Rev 13:18). Also the use of the masculine pronoun [auton] (Rev 13:8) to refer to the neuter [therion] (Rev 13:1, 2, 4) indicates that he is a human being. In addition, parallels between the beast and the Lamb indicate that he is a person: both have followers on whose foreheads are inscribed their names (Rev 13:16, 17; 14:1), both are conquerors (Rev 5:5; Rev 13:7), and both receive worship (Rev 5:8; Rev 13:4). (b) At the same time the beast is an empire over which the man reigns. This fact is demonstrated by the symbolism of the beasts of Daniel 7. (The Beast from the Sea in Revelation 13 by Daniel K. K. Wong - Bibliotheca Sacra, Volume 160, no 639, July-Sept 2003).
This description corresponds to the Stone cut out without hands striking the single great statue (the analogue of the 4 beastly kingdoms of Daniel 7) on the feet of iron and clay, crushing them all at the same time. (Da 2:33, 34, 35, Da 2:44, 45)
His dominion will be taken away - Satan's counterfeit king, the Anti-christ will have his dominion totally stripped away in marked contrast to the everlasting dominion of the true Christ (Da 7:14), Who will reign as King of kings .
Annihilated - Speaks of complete destruction. Utter consumption. Woods writes that this Aramaic verb…
signifies more than simply ruining or destroying something but described a destruction that could not be reversed or fixed. Its connotations go far beyond mere destruction to mean to consume, to destroy completely without hope of restoration. In Daniel 7:26, this verb was used to signify a total destruction of a ruler’s power. This verb is used only to describe a final destruction. God is the power behind this ultimate destruction. (Baker, W.: The Complete Word Study Dictionary- Old Testament)
Daniel 7:27 'Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.' (kingdom: Da 7:14,18,22 Ps 149:5, 6, 7, 8, 9 Isa 49:23, 24, 25, 26 54:3 60:11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 Zep 3:19,20 Zec 14:9 Rev 20:4) (His kingdom: Da 2:44 4:34 Ps 145:13 Isa 9:7 Lk 1:33 Jn 12:34) (and all: Ps 2:6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 22:27 72:11 86:9 Isa 60:12 Ob 1:21 Rev 11:15)(dominions: or, rulers, Rev 17:14 19:16)
Then - An important time phrase specifying that when the Little Horn the last ruler of the last Gentile kingdom (the Fourth Kingdom of Daniel 2 and Daniel 7) are destroyed, the "Fifth" and final kingdom begins. It is as if man was given "opportunity" to show his best efforts under one supreme ruler, the Anti-christ. Man's best is really the worst (for mankind) and is succeeded by God's best, the glorious Millennial Kingdom of Christ.
Given to the people of the saints of the Highest One (Da 7:22, Da 7:27) - In Romans Paul refers to believers as co-heirs with Christ (Ro 8:17-note) one aspect of which is seen here in Da 7:27. Paul went on in Romans 8 to say…
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Ro 8:18-note).
In his last letter Paul writes to his young disciple Timothy…
If we endure, we shall also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us (2Ti 2:12-note)
Daniel 7:28 "At this point the revelation ended. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts were greatly alarming me and my face grew pale, but I kept the matter to myself." (ended: Da 8:17,19 11:27 12:9,13) (my thoughts: Da 7:15 8:27 10:8) (but: Ge 37:10 Mk 9:15 Lk 2:19,51 9:44)
Greatly alarming - Later visions would have a similar impact (Da 8:27; 10:9);
This verse ends the Aramaic section of the book of Daniel (Da 2:4 thru Da 7:28). God has given His Word regarding His plan of the ages as it relates to the Gentiles. Now He will give Daniel a series of 3 visions in which He unfolds His plan of the ages as it relates to His chosen people, the Jews and the nation of Israel.
I kept the matter to myself - Obviously he wrote it down (Da 7:1-note), but he did not tell his contemporaries.
My face grew pale - Literally, "my facial hue was changing on me".
Lehman Strauss applies this passage writing that…
Deep soul exercise should follow every revelation we receive from God. May our Lord grant to each of us an earnest desire to hide His Word in our hearts, as did Mary (Luke 2:19). Peter wrote that one of the purposes of studying prophecy is "that ye take heed… in your hearts" (2Peter 1:19). (Lehman Strauss Commentary – The Prophecies of Daniel)
Keeping the matter to himself, he continues to reflect on all that he has seen and heard, accepting as truth even that which he cannot understand-an attitude many of us will no doubt need to adopt regarding some of the matters in this and succeeding chapters of the Book of Daniel. (Daniel: God's Man in a Secular Society)
Harry Ironside offers an evangelistic application writing…
O unsaved one, you too should ponder these things in your heart so that you are not blinded by the false and deceitful glare of the tinseled glory of this world. It is all doomed to pass away (1Jn 2:17), and your lot will be unhappy if you have no interests in a more secure world. "The things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2Corinthians 4:18). See to it, I plead with you, that you are numbered among those who have part in the everlasting kingdom (Da 4:3, Da 4:34, Da 7:27) so soon to succeed all the passing dominions of this world. God in grace has given His Son to die for your salvation, but remember that it is written: "As it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation" (Hebrews 9:27). If you would welcome with joy His promised advent, you must know Him now as Savior. Otherwise His return to this earth to reign would find you numbered among His enemies, to be destroyed from before His face.