Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Beginning. This vision was to explain what he had seen [in] chap. vii., respecting the four monarchies. The conflict of the Persians with Alexander, after two hundred and twenty years, is here described. (Worthington)
Ver. 2. Castle; some read “city.” Here the kings had a palace; and Hystaspes, &c. generally resided in it. Nabuchodonosor seems to have subdued Elam. Cyrus had it for his share; but Darius, the Mede, appears from Eschylus to have plundered Susa again. Daniel probably spent the latter part of his life in this city. (Calmet) — Gate, or “stagnant water;” (paludem. ver. 3.; Haydock) though most understand the river Euleus, on the side of Susiana. The prophets often sought retired places, chap. x. 4., and Ezechiel i. 1. (Calmet)
Ver. 3. A ram. The empire of the Medes and Persians. (Challoner) (Worthington) — Cyrus, the founder, was allied to both. — Higher, denoting the Persians; or Hystaspes, and his posterity, the second branch of the royal family, which reigned to the end: whereas Cambyses was the only one of the race of Cyrus who succeeded to the throne. Others think that he alludes to Codomannus, whom Alexander certainly attacked. — Afterward is not in Hebrew. St. Jerome supposed that another ram was designated, but it is the same.
Ver. 4. South. Codomannus reigned in peace for two years, when he was invaded. But his predecessors had made war chiefly in Greece, Scythia, and Egypt. The stupendous preparations of Xerxes against Greece only accelerated the fall of his own kingdom, by irritating the two nations. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. A he-goat. The empire of the Greeks, or Macedonians. — He touched not the ground. He conquered all before him with so much rapidity, that he seemed rather to fly than to walk upon the earth. — A notable horn. Alexander the great. (Challoner) — He succeeded his father when only twenty years old, and the next year was chosen generalissimo of the Greeks against Persia, which he invaded at the head of 30,000 foot and 4,000 horses, having only seventy talents of silver and provisions for one month. With this he attacked the most flourishing empire, and conquered it in less than four years’ time, when Darius was slain in the year of the world 3674 [326 B.C.]. Alexander survived only six years and ten months, yet subdued so many nations that it is almost incredible that he should have travelled over them. He is the belly of brass and the leopard, chap. ii. 39., and vii. 6. (Calmet) — He died in the midst of his prosperity, (Haydock) when not quite thirty-three years old, (Worthington) and left no heirs to succeed him. This conqueror would be painted with two horns, to intimate that he was the son of Jupiter Ammon. (Calmet)
Ver. 7. Hand. He routed all the forces of his enemy (Haydock) at the Granicus, at Issus; and at Gaugamela, (Calmet) or Arbela, Darius escaped, but was slain by his own servants. (Haydock) — The clemency of the conqueror towards the fallen royal family is not here specified. (Calmet)
Ver. 8. Broken, by death. Usher, the year of the world 3681 [319 B.C.] — Four. Seleucus, Antigonus, Philip, and Ptolemeus, the successors of Alexander, who divided his empire among them. (Challoner) — Other generals held out for some time. Philip was only a nominal king; Antipater governed Macedon and Greece. Syria, Asia, and Egypt, formed three other kingdoms. All four marked out by the four heads of the leopard, chap. vii. 6. But the prophet is intent upon Syria and Egypt, which had most to do with the Jews. (Calmet)
Ver. 9. A little horn. Antiochus Epiphanes, a descendant of Seleucus. He grew against the south and the east, by his victories over the kings of Egypt and Armenia; and against the strength, that is, against Jerusalem and the people of God. (Challoner) — He persecuted God’s people, and set up the idol of Jupiter Olympius in the very temple. (Worthington)
Ver. 10. Even unto, or against the strength of heaven. So are here called the army of the Jews, the people of God, (Challoner) and particularly the teachers. Many priests gave way to idolatry, 1 Machabees i. 48., and 2 Machabees iv. 14. (Calmet)
Ver. 11. Strength; the God of armies, (Haydock) over whom Epiphanes seemed to triumph.
Ver. 12. Strength. Hebrew: “the army was delivered up to him, for the,” &c. While several contended for the high priesthood, and imitated the manners of the Greeks, the sacrifices were neglected, and then Antiochus prevailed, 2 Machabees iv. 7. — Ground. The ambitious pontiffs, as well as the king and his officers, kept not their promises. Onias, the lawful high priest, being displaced, went to seek redress at Antioch, in the asylum at Daphne. Andronicus prevailed on him to come out by treacherous promises, and slew him; whereupon even Epiphanes wept, and ordered the murderer to be punished, 2 Machabees iv. 32. The following year he entered Jerusalem, and committed horrible profanations.
Ver. 13. Another. We do not inquire how the angels explained themselves, or whether they instruct each other. This conversation was for the prophet’s information. (Calmet) — One angel asked the other a question about futurity. (Worthington)
Ver. 14. Days. That is, six years and almost four months; which was the whole time from the beginning of the persecution of Antiochus till his death. (Challoner) — He began in the year 143, and died in the year 149, according to the era of Seleucus. (Haydock) — The temple was purified in the mean time, 1 Machabees i. 21., and vi. 16. (Worthington) — Full days are specified. Sacrifice entirely ceased for three years, in the year 145, chap. vii. 25. Symmachus has 2,400, others 2,200, as quoted by St. Jerome. We know not whether the solar year of 365 days, or the lunar of 354, be meant.
Ver 16. Between, in an island formed by the river. It was the Son of God, (Calmet) or St. Michael, (St. Jerome) directing Gabriel to explain the vision.
Ver. 17. Man. So Ezechiel is usually styled, to shew that the human nature is different from that of angels, and would be greatly honoured by Jesus Christ, who takes this appellation. (Worthington) — Of the end, or determined. This shall take place, (Calmet) but the period is distinct. (Grotius ver. 26.)
Ver. 19. Malediction. Hebrew, “wrath” against the people of God, and their enemies. (Calmet)
Ver. 21. Is. Hebrew, “are the kings,” (Haydock) including all, ver. 3.
Ver. 22. Nation, yet not his children, ver. 8.
Ver. 23. Shameless. Hebrew: “hard,” cruel, and impudent, as Epiphanes was, 1 Machabees i. 2. Marcellinus styles him “wrathful and savage.” — Sentences, making use of artifice to seize the estates of his nephew Philometor, and to oppress the Jews, 2 Machabees v. 24. (Calmet) — The history speaks of Antiochus: antichrist is also meant, as [in] chap. xii. and Matthew xxiv. (Worthington)
Ver. 24. By. Hebrew: “not to his (Alexander’s) strength,” ver. 22. Epiphanes conquered Egypt and the Jews: but the former had an infant king, and the latter were unprovided. He shewed more cunning than prowess.
Ver. 25. Prince: God. — Hand of man. He confessed that he was justly punished, 1 Machabees vi. 10. Greek, “He shall raise himself by the ruin of many, (Theod. and some manuscripts add, and shall rise up against the prince of princes) and he shall break them like eggs with his hand.”
Ver. 26. Morning of this day, or of what shall happen in certain full days, ver. 14. — Seal. When the predictions were to take place soon, they were dated and published. (Calmet) — This will remain obscure till after the event. (St. Jerome) — What regarded the temple, happened in 300 years’ time. But it alluded also to antichrist. (St. Gregory, Mor. xxx. 12.) (Worthington)
Ver. 27. Business, at Susa. Nabuchodonosor had given him the province of Babylon. — It. All prophecies have a degree of obscurity before they be accomplished. Hebrew may intimate that none could tell the cause of his anxiety. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:Daniel’s vision of the ram and he-goat, interpreted by the angel Gabriel.
1 In *the third year of the reign of king Baltassar, a vision appeared to me. I, Daniel, after what I had seen in the beginning,
2 Saw in my vision when I was in the castle of Susa, which is in the province of Elam: and I saw in the vision that I was over the gate of Ulai.
3 And I lifted up my eyes, and saw: and behold a ram stood before the water, having two high horns, and one higher than the other, and growing up. Afterward
4 I saw the ram pushing with his horns against the west, and against the north, and against the south: and no beasts could withstand him, nor be delivered out of his hand: and he did according to his own will, and became great.
5 And I understood: and behold a he-goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and he touched not the ground, and the he-goat had a notable horn between his eyes.
6 And he went up to the ram that had the horns, which I had seen standing before the gate, and he ran towards him in the force of his strength.
7 And when he was come near the ram, he was enraged against him, and struck the ram: and broke his two horns, and the ram could not withstand him: and when he had cast him down on the ground, he stamped upon him, and none could deliver the ram out of his hand.
8 And the he-goat became exceeding great: and when he was grown, the great horn was broken, and there came up four horns under it towards the four winds of heaven.
9 And out of one of them came forth a little horn: and it became great against the south, and against the east, and against the strength.
10 And it was magnified even unto the strength of heaven: and it threw down of the strength, and of the stars, and trod upon them.
11 And it was magnified even to the prince of the strength: and it took away from him the continual sacrifice, and cast down the place of his sanctuary.
12 And strength was given him against the continual sacrifice because of sins: and truth shall be cast down on the ground, and he shall do and shall prosper.
13 And I heard one of the saints speaking, and one saint said to another I know not to whom, that was speaking: How long shall be the vision, concerning the continual sacrifice, and the sin of the desolation that is made: and the sanctuary, and the strength be trodden under foot?
14 And he said to him: Unto evening and morning two thousand three hundred days: and the sanctuary shall be cleansed.
15 And it came to pass when I, Daniel, saw the vision, and sought the meaning, that behold there stood before me as it were the appearance of a man.
16 And I heard the voice of a man between Ulai: and he called, and said: Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.
17 And he came and stood near where I stood: and when he was come, I fell on my face trembling, and he said to me: Understand, O son of man, for in the time of the end the vision shall be fulfilled.
18 And when he spoke to me, I fell flat on the ground: and he touched me, and set me upright,
19 And he said to me: I will shew thee what things are to come to pass in the end of the malediction: for the time hath its end.
20 The ram, which thou sawest with horns, is the king of the Medes and Persians.
21 And the he-goat, is the king of the Greeks, and the great horn that was between his eyes, the same is the first king.
22 But whereas when that was broken, there arose up four for it, four kings shall rise up of his nation, but not with his strength.
23 And after their reign, when iniquities shall be grown up, there shall arise a king of a shameless face, and understanding dark sentences.
24 And his power shall be strengthened, but not by his own force: and he shall lay all things waste, and shall prosper, and do more than can be believed. And he shall destroy the mighty, and the people of the saints,
25 According to his will, and craft shall be successful in his hand: and his heart shall be puffed up, and in the abundance of all things he shall kill many: and he shall rise up against the prince of princes, and shall be broken without hand.
26 And the vision of the evening and the morning, which was told, is true: thou, therefore, seal up the vision, because it shall come to pass after many days.
27 And I, Daniel, languished, and was sick for some days: and when I was risen up, I did the king’s business, and I was astonished at the vision, and there was none that could interpret it.
1: Year of the World 3451, Year before Christ 553.