Daniel 8: The Vision of the Ram and the Goat


(27 verses, 3:40 to read)

What I am about to READ

The vision of Daniel and its interpretation by God himself


This vision God gives to Daniel for the comfort of God’s people.  For in it he reveals how the Jews were to be subjugated and endure a time of trial in the future, but would be released from their trial after a time.

  • “In the third year” (vs 1) about 551 BC
  • Vs 14: “2,300 evenings” – just shy of seven years, symbolic number indicating a completeness of distress and perhaps even the mercy of God.
  • The vision involves a male goat and a ram with conspicuous horns of varying degrees.  In the ancient world, the horn represented power or kings.  This horn imagery figures prominently in the Revelation to St. John, who under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit uses much the same language.
  • By God’s direction, the angel Gabriel interprets the vision for Daniel.  This vision serves those specific people before the incarnation of Jesus who endured a time of trial.
  • The ram and the goat would fight and the goat would win.  This is interpreted by Gabriel to men that the kingdoms of Media and Persia would be defeated by “the King of Greece” (vs. 21).  This would indeed come to pass when Alexander the Great conquered all of Persia.
  • “four kingdoms shall arise out from his nation” (vs. 21).  When Alexander the Great died in 323 BC, his generals fought over his vast kingdom and was eventually divided into four main parts, fulfilling the prophecy of Daniel 8.
  • Vss 23-25 indicate that a king who would be particularly evil to God’s people would arise from one of the four kingdoms.  This is fulfilled by the reign of Antiochus IV who ruled over Judea during part the inter-testamental period.  For a historical description of the atrocities which he committed upon God’s people see the apocryphal books of 1 and 2 Maccabees.
  • The comfort for God’s people comes at the end of the interpretation “and he [Antiochus IV] shall be broken, but by no human hand”.  Their suffering would cease after a time.  Indeed, as Antiochus IV went to battle the Persians in 164 BC, he reportedly lost his mind, fulfilling this word from Daniel.

God promises deliverance and release for his people during a time when the prophets would cease to speak.  It was to the scriptures, including this passage, which people had to turn for their comfort and consolation.  With the coming of the Word in the Flesh, Jesus who would take away all of our sins and rise from the grave for our justification, God made true on all of his promises to Adam, Abraham, Daniel, and all of the world.  Our ultimate problem would not be an evil king, but the prince of this world and our own sin. This problem would be dealt a swift blow and defeated for our sakes in his cross and resurrection from the dead.  Therefore we also cling to this promise as God’s people clung to his sure promises of deliverance.


Pr. Ross



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