Daniel 8: A ram and a goat
The goat in Daniel's vision
Or do you correct the Bible so that it fits in the way you want to live?
The prophecy we read in this chapter, together with some extra details in the awesome prophecy of Daniel 11, shows us the fall of Persia and the rise of Greece as a world power. In previous messages, as in Daniel 7:7-8, we have shown that not every interpreter of the Scriptures have given us the right meaning of these prophecies. There is a strong connection betwen the way you interpret the Bible and the Bible's ability to save you and help you to know God.
"Continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus"
The previous commandment, given to Timothy by the apostle Paul, which is also valid to all of us, states that the Scriptures are able to make us wise for salvation. We are living in times when many have twisted the meaning of the prophecies and commandments of the Lord, for their own condemnation and the condemnation of the ones following them. It is our prayer that you won't do that, for the salvation of your soul and of those who hear the Word of God from you.
Happily, Daniel 8's prophecy can't be twisted so easily as it calls the meaning of the animals in the vision by its names. Let's read about the second animal, the goat:
"As I was thinking about this, suddenly a goat with a prominent horn between its eyes came from the west, crossing the whole earth without touching the ground. It came toward the two-horned ram I had seen standing beside the canal and charged at it in great rage. I saw it attack the ram furiously, striking the ram and shattering its two horns. The ram was powerless to stand against it; the goat knocked it to the ground and trampled on it, and none could rescue the ram from its power."
The Hebrew original text is this:
"Vaaní hayíti mebín, vehiné tsefir-haizím ba min-hamaarab al pené kol haáretz, veén nogéa baáretz. Vehatzafír kéren khazót ben enáv. Vayabó ad-haáyil báal hakeranáyim, asher raíty oméd lifné haUbál, vayáratz eláv bakhamát kokhó. Ureitív magíya étzel haáyil, veyitmarmár eláv, vayád et-haáyil, vayishabér et sheté keranáv. Veló-hayá kóakh baáyil laamód lepanáv. Vayashlikhéhu ártza vayirmeséhu, veló hayá matzíl laáyil miyadó".
"I saw it attack the ram furiously" is the translation of "ureitív magíya étzel haáyil, veyitmarmár eláv", which is better translated in the American Standard Version, "And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with anger against him". The rest of the passage is a literal translation of the Hebrew original. "As I was thinking about this..." (whereas Daniel was considering the vision of the ram) implies that the second vision came in the same place and time than the first one, in Susa, the capital of Elam (see the previous message to read more about it)
Who is this goat, and why has it an only horn?
In verse 21 we read the interpretation that the angel gave Daniel:
"The shaggy goat is the king of Greece, and the large horn between its eyes is the first king"
It can be little confusing, because in the words of the angel it seems that the king of Greece has a king over him. But there are two meanings of the word "king" in this verse, the literal - for the horn - and the figurative - for the goat itself, meaning "the kingdom of Greece". When you continue reading the context, the goat is seen as an Empire from whom several "horns" or kings come.
The "first king" is unanimously identified as Alexander the Great, the Greek king who unified Greece and conquered the Persian Empire. It doesn't mean that Greece was born with Alexanders reign. But the "Greek Empire" was. There is a strong difference between Ancient Greece and Rome, Persia or Babylonia. The three last ones are called "empires", and they were in fact unified great kingdoms seeking expansion and conquering neighbouring lesser kingdoms. But Ancient Greece was made up of several city-states who were fighting each other for supremacy all the time. Only under Alexander's father, Phillip of Macedon, was Greece almost totally unified under the Corinthian League, a federation of greek states that joined Macedon in order to resist as one the Persian aggressions. It began 338 BC, and in 334 BC, Alexander - who had being crowned as king after his father's death - began the conquest of Persia.
Daniel 11:3 prophecies also the rise of Alexander, after several Persian kings that waged war against the divided Greece for almost two centuries (the Persian kings are prophesied in 11:1-2) There are three greater wars that Persia started against Greece in order to conquer it, known as the Greco-Persian wars. The Persian kings associated with them are mentioned in the Bible, and two of them prophesied in Daniel 11: Darius I (522-486 BC) who fought the first Greco-Persian war and was defeated at Marathon in 490 BC, and Xerxes the Great, his son (486-465 BC) the one who started the second Greco-Persian war and was crushed in Salamis and Plataea (480-479 BC) Xerxes is known in several biblical translations as the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther. His son Artaxerxes I fought also against Greece, and is portrayed in the Bible, in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.
The accuracy of Daniel's prophecy about these kings and wars is amazing. If only for that reason, the Holy Scriptures present themselves as the Word of God, an Omniscient God Who knows everything which has happened, which is taking place nowadays and which will occur in the future. Keep reading to know about the outcome of Alexander's reign.
In the love of Christ, your brother
PS. Jesus is coming soon!