I saw - a fourth beast - it had great iron teeth - This is allowed, on all hands, to be the Roman empire. It was dreadful, terrible, and exceeding strong: it devoured, and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue, that is, the remains of the former kingdoms, with its feet. It reduced Macedon into a Roman province about one hundred and sixty-eight years before Christ; the kingdom of Pergamos about one hundred and thirty-three years; Syria about sixty-five; and Egypt about thirty years before Christ. And, besides the remains of the Macedonian empire, it subdued many other provinces and kingdoms; so that it might, by a very usual figure, be said to devour the whole earth, to tread it down, and break it to pieces; and became in effect, what the Roman writers delight to call it, the empire of the whole world.
It (the fourth beast) was diverse from all the beasts that were before it - Not only in its republican form of government, but also in power and greatness, extent of dominion, and length of duration.
It had ten horns - The ten kingdoms into which the Roman empire was afterwards divided. Calmet says, ten Syrian kings: and he finds them thus: -
This is too much like forced work. There are different opinions concerning these ten kings; or rather which they were that constituted this division of the Roman empire. They are reckoned thus: -
10. And the Saxons, in Britain.
After this I saw in the night visions - The other beasts were seen also in a dream Daniel 7:1, and this probably in the same night, though as a subsequent part of the dream, for the whole vision evidently passed before the prophet in a single dream. The succession, or the fact that he saw one after the other, indicates a sucession in the kingdoms. They were not to be at the same time upon the earth, but one was to arise after another in the order here indicated, though they were in some respects to occupy the same territory. The singular character of the beast that now appears; the number of the horns; the springing up of a new horn; the might and terror of the beast, and the long duration of its dominion upon the earth, attracted and fixed the attention of Daniel, led him into a more minute description of the appearance of the animal, and induced him particularly to ask an explanation of the angel of the meaning of this part of the vision, Daniel 7:19.
And, behold, a fourth beast - This beast had peculiar characteristics, all of which were regarded as symbolic, and all of which demand explanation in order that we may have a just view of the nature and design of the symbol.
As in reference to the three former beasts, so also in regard to this, it will be proper to explain first the significance of the different parts of the symbol, and then in the exposition (Daniel 7:19, following) to inquire into the application. The particulars of this symbol are more numerous, more striking, and more important than in either of the previous ones. These particulars are the following Daniel 7:7-11:
(a) The animal itself Daniel 5:7: “a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly.” The form or nature of the beast is not given as in the preceding cases - the lion, the bear, and the leopard - but it is left for the imagination to fill up. It was a beast more terrific in its appearance than either of the others, and was evidently a monster such as could not be designated by a single name. The terms which are used here in describing the beast - “dreadful, terrible, exceedingly strong,” are nearly synonymous, and are heaped together in order to give an impressive view of the terror inspired by the beast. There can be no doubt as to the general meaning of this, for it is explained Daniel 7:23 as denoting a kingdom that “should devour the whole earth, and tread it down, and break it in pieces.” As a symbol, it would denote some power much more fearful and much more to be dreaded; having a wider dominion; and more stern, more oppressive in its character, more severe in its exactions, and more entirely destroying the liberty of others; advancing more by power and terror, and less by art and cunning, than either. This characteristic is manifest throughout the symbol.
(b) The teeth Daniel 7:7: “and it had great iron teeth.” Not only teeth or tusks, such as other animals may have, but teeth made of iron. This is characteristic of a monster, and shows that there was to be something very peculiar in the dominion that was here symbolized. The teeth are of use to eat or devour; and the symbol here is that of devouring or rending - as a fierce monster with such teeth might be supposed to rend or devour all that was before it. This, too, would denote a nation exceedingly fierce; a nation of savage ferocity; a nation that would be signally formidable to all others. For illustration, compare Jeremiah 15:12; Micah 4:13. As explained in Daniel 7:23, it is said that the kingdom denoted by this would “devour the whole earth.” Teeth - great teeth, are often used as the symbols of cruelty, or of a devouring enemy. Thus in Proverbs 30:14: “There is a generation whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth are as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.” So David uses the word to denote the cruelty of tyrants: Psalm 3:7, “Thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly;” Psalm 57:4, “whose teeth are spears and arrows;” Psalm 58:6, “break their teeth in their mouth; break out the great teeth of the young lions.”
(c) The stamping with the feet Daniel 7:7: “it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it.” That is, like a fierce monster, whatever it could not devour it stamped down and crushed in the earth. This indicates a disposition or purpose to destroy, for the sake of destroying, or where no other purpose could be gained. It denotes rage, wrath, a determination to crush all in its way, to have universal dominion; and would be applicable to a nation that subdued and crushed others for the mere sake of doing it, or because it was unwilling that any other should exist and enjoy liberty - even where itself could not hope for any advantage.
(d) The fact that it was different from all that went before it Daniel 7:7: “and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it.” The prophet does not specify particularly in what respects it was different, for he does not attempt to give its appearance. It was not a lion, a bear, or a leopard, but he does not say precisely what it was. Probably it was such a monster that there were no animals with which it could be compared. He states some circumstances, however, in which it was different - as in regard to the ten horns, the little horn, the iron teeth, etc., but still the imagination is left to fill up the picture in general. The meaning of this must be, that the fourth kingdom, represented by this beast, would be materially different from those which preceded it, and we must look for the fulfillment in some features that would characterize it by which it would be unlike the others. There must be something marked in the difference - something that would be more than the common difference between nations.
(e) The ten horns Daniel 7:7: “and it had ten horns.” That is, the prophet saw on it ten horns as characterizing the beast. The horn is a symbol of power, and is frequently so used as an emblem or symbol in Daniel Daniel 7:7-8, Daniel 7:20, Daniel 7:24; Daniel 8:3-9, Daniel 8:20-22 and Revelation Revelation 5:6; Revelation 13:1, Revelation 13:11; Revelation 17:3, Revelation 17:12, Revelation 17:16. It is used as a symbol because the great strength of horned animals is found there. Thus in Amos 6:13, it is said:
“Ye that rejoice in a thing of nought,
That say, Have we not taken dominion to ourselves By our own strength?”
So in Deuteronomy 33:17:
“His beauty shall be that of a young bull,
And his horns shall be the horns of a rhinoceros:
With these he shall push the people to the extremities of the land:
Such are the ten thousands of Ephraim,
Such the thousands of Manasseh.”
So in 1 Kings 22:11, we find horns used in a symbolic action on the part of the false prophet Zedekiah. “He made him horns of iron, and said, Thus saith Jehovah, With these shalt thou push the Syrians, until thou have consumed them.” In Zechariah 1:18, the four horns that are seen by the prophet are said to be the four great powers which had scattered and wasted the Jews. Compare Wemyss on the Symbolic Language of Scripture, art. “Horns.” There can be no doubt as to the meaning of the symbol here, for it is explained in a subsequent part of the chapter Daniel 7:24, “the ten horns are the ten kings that shall arise.” It would seem also, from that explanation, that they were to be ten kings that would “arise” or spring out of that kingdom at some period of its history. “And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise;” that is, not that the kingdom itself would spring out of ten others that would be amalgamated or consolidated into one, but that out of that one kingdom there would spring up ten that would exercise dominion, or in which the power of the one kingdom would be ultimately lodged. Though Daniel appears to have seen these horns as pertaining to the beast when he first saw him, yet the subsequent explanation is, that these horns were emblems of the manner in which the power of that one kingdom would be finally exerted; or that ten kings or dynasties would spring out of it. We are, then, naturally to look for the fulfillment of this in some one great kingdom of huge power that would crush the nations, and from which, while the same general characteristic would remain, there would spring up ten kings, or dynasties, or kingdoms, in which the power would be concentrated.
(f) The springing up of the little horn Daniel 7:8: “I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn.” There are several points to be noticed in regard to this:
(1) The fact that he “considered the horns;” that is, he looked on them until another sprang up among them. This implies that when he first saw the monster, it had no such horn, and that the horn sprang up a considerable time after he first saw it - intimating that it would occur, perhaps, far on in the history of the kingdom that was symbolized. It is implied that it was not an event which would soon occur.
(2) It sprang up “among” the others (ביניהן bēynēyhēn ) - starting from the same source, and pertaining to the same animal, and therefore a development or putting forth of the same power. The language used here does not designate, with any degree of certainty, the precise place which it occupied, but it would seem that the others stood close together, and that this sprang out of the center, or from the very midst of them - implying that the new dominion symbolized would not be a foreign dominion, but one that would spring out of the kingdom itself, or that would seem to grow up in the kingdom.
(3) It was a little horn; that is, it was small at first, though subsequently it grew so as to be emblematic of great power. This would denote that the power symbolized would be small at first - springing up gradually. The fulfillment of this would be found, neither in conquest nor in revolution, nor in a change of dynasty, nor in a sudden change of a constitution, but in some power that had an obscure origin, and that was feeble and small at the beginning, yet gradually increasing, until, by its own growth, it put aside a portion of the power before exercised and occupied its place. We should naturally look for the fulfillment of this in the increase of some power within the state that had a humble origin, and that slowly developed itself until it absorbed a considerable portion of the authority that essentially resided in the kingdom represented by the monster.
(4) In the growth of that “horn,” three of the others were plucked up by the roots. The proper meaning of the word used to express this (אתעקרו 'ethe‛ăqârâv ) is, that they were rooted out - as a tree is overturned by the roots, or the roots are turned out from the earth. The process by which this was done seems to have been by growth. The gradual increase of the horn so crowded on the others that a portion of them was forced out, and fell. What is fairly indicated by this was not any act of violence, or any sudden convulsion or revolution, but such a gradual growth of power that a portion of the original power was removed, and this new power occupied its place. There was no revolution, properly so-called; no change of the whole dynasty, for a large portion of the horns remained, but the gradual rise of a new power that would wield a portion of that formerly wielded by others, and that would now wield the power in its place. The number three would either indicate that three parts out of the ten were absorbed in this way, or that a considerable, though an indefinite portion, was thus absorbed.
(5) The eyes: “and behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man.” Eyes denote intelligence, as we see objects by their aid. The rims of the wheels in Ezekiel‘s vision were full of eyes Ezekiel 1:18, as symbolic of intelligence. This would denote that the power here referred to would be remarkably sagacious. We should naturally look for the fulfillment of this in a power that laid its plans wisely and intelligently; that had large and clear views of policy; that was shrewd and far-seeing in its counsels and purposes; that was skilled in diplomacy; or, that was eminent for statesman-like plans. This part of the symbol, if it stood alone, would find its fulfillment in any wise and shrewd administration; as it stands here, surrounded by others, it would seem that this, as contrasted with them, was characteristically shrewd and far-seeing in its policy. Lengerke, following Jerome, supposes that this means that the object referred to would be a man, “as the eyes of men are keener and sharper than those of other animals.” But the more correct interpretation is that above referred to - that it denotes intelligence, shrewdness, sagacity.
(6) The mouth: “and a mouth speaking great things.” A mouth indicating pride and arrogance. This is explained in Daniel 7:25, as meaning that he to whom it refers would “speak great words against the Most High;” that is, would be guilty of blasphemy. There would be such arrogance, and such claims set up, and such a spirit evinced, that it would be in fact a speaking against God. We naturally look for the fulfillment of this to some haughty and blaspheming power; some power that would really blaspheme religion, and that would be opposed to its progress and prosperity in the world. The Septuagint, in the Codex Chisianus, adds here, “and shall make war against the saints;” but these words are not found in the original Chaldee. They accord, however, well with the explanation in Daniel 7:25. What has been here considered embraces all that pertains properly to this symbol - the symbol of the fourth beast - except the fact stated in Daniel 7:11, that the beast was slain, and that his body was given to the burning flame. The inquiry as to the fulfillment will be appropriate when we come to consider the explanation given at the request of Daniel, by the angel, in Daniel 7:19-25.
Inspiration finds no beast in nature which it can make even the basis of a symbol to represent the power here illustrated. No addition of hoofs, heads, horns, wings, scales, teeth, or nails to any beast found in nature, would answer. This power was diverse from all the others, and the symbol wholly nondescript.DAR 118.1
The foundation for a volume is laid in verse 7, just quoted; but we are compelled to treat it the more briefly here, because anything like a full history is entirely beyond the space that can be allowed in this brief exposition. This beast, of course, corresponds to the fourth division of the great image — the legs of iron. Under chapter 2:40 are given some reasons for supposing this power to be Rome. The same reasons are applicable to the present prophecy. How accurately Rome answered to the iron division of the image! How accurately it answers to the beast before us! In the dread and terror which it inspired, and in its exceeding strength, the world has never seen its equal. It devoured as with iron teeth, and brake in pieces; and it ground the nations into the very dust beneath its brazen feet. It had ten horns, which are explained in verse 24 to be ten kings, or kingdoms, which should arise out of this empire. As already noticed in chapter 2, Rome was divided into ten kingdoms, enumerated as follows: The Huns, the Ostrogoths, the Visigoths, the Franks, the Vandals, the Suevi, the Burgundians, the Heruli, the Anglo-Saxons, and the Lombards. These divisions have ever since been spoken of as the ten kingdoms of the Roman empire. A. D. 351-483. See on chapter 2:41, 42; also Appendix III.DAR 118.2
The germ in the seed grows by the unfolding of the life-principle which God has implanted. Its development depends upon no human power. So it is with the kingdom of Christ. It is a new creation. Its principles of development are the opposite of those that rule the kingdoms of this world. Earthly governments prevail by physical force; they maintain their dominion by war; but the founder of the new kingdom is the Prince of Peace. The Holy Spirit represents worldly kingdoms under the symbol of fierce beasts of prey; but Christ is “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29. In His plan of government there is no employment of brute force to compel the conscience. The Jews looked for the kingdom of God to be established in the same way as the kingdoms of the world. To promote righteousness they resorted to external measures. They devised methods and plans. But Christ implants a principle. By implanting truth and righteousness, He counterworks error and sin. COL 77.1
As Jesus spoke this parable, the mustard plant could be seen far and near, lifting itself above the grass and grain, and waving its branches lightly in the air. Birds flitted from twig to twig, and sang amid the leafy foliage. Yet the seed from which sprang this giant plant was among the least of all seeds. At first it sent up a tender shoot, but it was of strong vitality, and grew and flourished until it reached its present great size. So the kingdom of Christ in its beginning seemed humble and insignificant. Compared with earthly kingdoms it appeared to be the least of all. By the rulers of this world Christ's claim to be a king was ridiculed. Yet in the mighty truths committed to His followers the kingdom of the gospel possessed a divine life. And how rapid was its growth, how widespread its influence! When Christ spoke this parable, there were only a few Galilean peasants to represent the new kingdom. Their poverty, the fewness of their numbers, were urged over and over again as a reason why men should not connect themselves with these simple-minded fishermen who followed Jesus. But the mustard seed was to grow and spread forth its branches throughout the world. When the earthly kingdoms whose glory then filled the hearts of men should perish, the kingdom of Christ would remain, a mighty and far-reaching power. COL 77.2
So the work of grace in the heart is small in its beginning. A word is spoken, a ray of light is shed into the soul, an influence is exerted that is the beginning of the new life; and who can measure its results? COL 78.1Read in context »
In chapter 13 (verses 1-10) is described another beast, “like unto a leopard,” to which the dragon gave “his power, and his seat, and great authority.” This symbol, as most Protestants have believed, represents the papacy, which succeeded to the power and seat and authority once held by the ancient Roman empire. Of the leopardlike beast it is declared: “There was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies.... And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” This prophecy, which is nearly identical with the description of the little horn of Daniel 7, unquestionably points to the papacy. GC 439.1
“Power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.” And, says the prophet, “I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death.” And again: “He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword.” The forty and two months are the same as the “time and times and the dividing of time,” three years and a half, or 1260 days, of Daniel 7 - - the time during which the papal power was to oppress God's people. This period, as stated in preceding chapters, began with the supremacy of the papacy, A.D. 538, and terminated in 1798. At that time the pope was made captive by the French army, the papal power received its deadly wound, and the prediction was fulfilled, “He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity.” GC 439.2
At this point another symbol is introduced. Says the prophet: “I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb.” Verse 11. Both the appearance of this beast and the manner of its rise indicate that the nation which it represents is unlike those presented under the preceding symbols. The great kingdoms that have ruled the world were presented to the prophet Daniel as beasts of prey, rising when “the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.” Daniel 7:2. In Revelation 17 an angel explained that waters represent “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” Revelation 17:15. Winds are a symbol of strife. The four winds of heaven striving upon the great sea represent the terrible scenes of conquest and revolution by which kingdoms have attained to power. GC 439.3Read in context »