Dan 8.1-27 begins a series of three visions that tell about the progression of the kingdom of God. These visions came during the reigns of Belshazzar, Darius the Mede, and Cyrus the Persian. The first vision in Dan 8 tells us what will happen to the Jewish people and the people of God during the rise and development of the Medo-Persian and Grecian empires. In Dan 9 and the second vision, it tells us what will happen in the restoration of Jerusalem and the Temple and how the kingdom of God develops to the final fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation. In the third vision that covers Dan 10-12 during the third year of the reign of Cyrus, revelations are given regarding persecutions that are coming upon Israel in the near future, with Antiochus Epiphanes IV, and the birth-pains with the False Messiah.
v 1…In the third year of the reign of Belshazzar the king, a vision appeared to me, Daniel (and no one else), subsequent (after) to the one which appeared to me previously (in Chapter 7, this is about two years later).
v 2… And I looked in the vision, and it came about while I was looking that I was in the citadel of Susa (Shushan meaning “lily”), which is in the province of Elam (eternal, their heap); and I looked in the vision (not a reality) and I myself was beside the Ulai Canal (a canal that separated the citadel from the lower city).
v 3…Then I lifted my gaze and looked (to see what he could see), and behold (take note), a ram which had two horns (Medo-Persia) was standing in front of the canal (to the east). Now the two horns were long (high, straight), but one was longer than the other (Media was at first superior to Persia, but later Persia became greater under Cyrus and his successors) with the longer one coming up last.
v 4…I saw the ram butting westward, northward, and southward (refers to the Medo-Persian conquests of Babylon, Syria, and part of Greece to the west; Iberia, Albanis, Armenia, Scythia, and the Caspian Sea to the north; Arabia, Ethiopia, Egypt and India to the south), and no other beasts could stand before him, nor was there anyone to rescue from his power (temporarily his power could not be matched); but he did as he pleased and magnified himself (and it became a world power).
v 5…While I was observing (considering), behold (take note and see), a male goat (Greece-v 21) was coming from the west over the surface of the whole earth without touching the ground (swiftly, like he was flying); and the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes (Alexander the Great).
v 6…And he came up to the ram that had the two horns (Medo-Persia), which I had seen standing in front of the river, and rushed at him in his mighty wrath (denotes Alexander’s initial battle at Issus in Asia Minor 250 years later).
v 7…And I saw him come beside the ram, and he was enraged at him; and he struck the ram and shattered his two horns (broke their power), and the ram had no strength to withstand him. So he hurled him to the ground (Persia ceased to be) and trampled on him, and there was none to rescue the ram from his power (Darius fled back to Persia, was arrested by his own people and killed).
v 8…Then the male goat magnified himself exceedingly (Greece became powerful), but as soon as he was mighty, the large horn was broken (Alexander dies in 323 BC), and in its place there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven (Alexander’s empire was divided into four parts, relating to the four points of the compass; through his four generals).
v 9…And out of one of them came forth a rather small horn (Antiochus Epiphanes IV came out of Syria given to the Greek general Seleucus by Alexander called the Seleucid empire, and Antiochus is a type of the False Messiah) which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the beautiful land (“coveted one” or Israel).
v 10…And it grew up to the host of heaven (Jewish people), and caused some of the host of the stars (leaders) to fall to the earth (to be killed), and it trampled them down (by threats or deception, to get them to turn from the Torah, etc).
v 11…It even magnified itself to the equal to the Commander of the host (Antiochus, and later the False Messiah, dared to defy Yehovah, and even claimed to be God-that is what “Epiphanes” means), and it removed the regular sacrifice (in the Temple) from him (Yehovah), and the place of his sanctuary was thrown down (profaned and desecrated and he stopped the true worship of Yehovah).
v 12…And on account of transgression the host (Israel) will be given over to the horn along with the regular sacrifice (in the Temple); and it (Antiochus/False Messiah) will fling truth (as found in the Torah) to the ground (he persecuted Torah observant people, killed them, destroyed copies of the Torah and tried to abolish Torah observance. This is what is called “lawless” or “without Torah”), and perform (its will) and prosper (he did what he wanted and was successful for a time).
v 13…Then I heard a holy (had a kedusha) one (an angel) speaking and another holy one said to that particular one who was speaking (possibly Gabriel who will deal with Daniel in 8.16 and 9.21), “How long will the vision about the regular sacrifice apply, while the desolating transgression (that causes horror; an idol in the Temple), so as to allow both the holy place and the host (Israel) to be trampled (how long will this part of the vision last; how will it all come to an end)?”
v 14…And he said to me, “For 2300 evenings and mornings (so this number clearly refers to 24 hour days, not years); then the holy place will be properly restored (this equals 6 years, 4 months and 20 days in Biblical, Hebraic years, months and days. The date when the Temple was cleansed by Judah Maccabee is well known as Kislev 25, 165 BC-2 Macc 10.1-5. If one counts back 2300 days this period begins when Antiochus began a persecution in 171 BC).
v 15…And it came about when I, Daniel, had seen the vision, that I sought to understand it, and behold, standing before me was one who looked like a man (but wasn’t).
v 16…And I heard the voice of a man between the banks of the Ulai (near to where Daniel was-8.2), and he called out and said, “Gabriel, give this man understanding of the vision (he commanded Gabriel to explain the vision of the ram, goat and the little horn to Daniel. Gabriel will be his guide in Chapters 8 and 9).
v 17…So he came near to where I was standing (obeying the voice to converse with Daniel), and when he came I was terrified and fell on my face (the kivod/glory of Yehovah was upon him), but he said to me, “Son of man (ben adam), understand that the vision pertains to the time of the end (there is a fixed time for the end, in the distant future, after the 2300 days has ended).”
v 18…While he was talking with me, I sank into a deep sleep, with my face to the ground (his deep fear caused his strength to depart); but he touched me and made me stand upright (giving him the strength to see the vision explained).
v 19…And he said, “Behold (take note and see), I am going to let you know what will occur at the final period of the indignation (the persecution of Antiochus and the wrath of God against Israel. This also alludes to the birth-pains, telling us that these conditions will not always last), for it pertains to the appointed time of the end (or the appointed time for the end of this vision; the Grecian influence in the days of Antiochus).
v 20…The ram which you saw with the two horns represents the kings of Media and Persia.
v 21…The shaggy goat the kingdom of Greece, and the large horn that is between his eyes is the first king (Alexander).
v 22…The broken horn and the four horns that arose in its place represent four kingdoms which will arise from his nation, although not with his power (they were divided into Egypt, Asia, Macedon and Syria).
v 23…And in the latter period of their rule (of the four Grecian kingdoms above); when the transgressions (the Jewish people turn from the Torah to Hellenism-1 Macc 1.11) have run a king will arise (Antiochus who ruled the Seleucid empire in Syria, the little horn. Antiochus will be a picture of the False Messiah), insolent and skilled in intrigue (deceptive and cunning, will cover his plots with design, etc).
v 24…And his power will be mighty (possessing a large kingdom he goes to conquer), but not by his power (but by deception and treachery with permission from Yehovah), and he will destroy to an extraordinary degree (people astonished at his victories) and prosper and perform. He will destroy mighty men (of other nations) and the holy people (Israel).
v 25…And through his shrewdness he will cause deceit to succeed by his influence (his schemes were interwoven into his governmental policies); and he will magnify himself in his heart (pride), and he destroy many while they are at ease (pretending to want and keep the peace), he will even oppose the Prince of princes (Yehovah, profaning is Temple and trying to destroy the Torah and his people), but he will be broken without human agency (the horn will be broken by the hand of God; keep in mind this is a profile of the False Messiah also).
v 26…And the vision of the evenings and mornings (8.14) which has been told is true (2300), but keep the vision secret (do not make it public, preserve it for when the time comes), for it pertains to many days in the future (hundreds of years in the future, to the death of Antiochus who wasn’t even born yet; also the birth-pains were in the far future).”
v 27…Then I, Daniel, was exhausted (faint, broken) and sick for many days. Then I got up and carried on the king’s business; but was astounded at the vision, and there was none to explain it (the meaning was sealed up-Dan 12.9).