Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Daniel 8:2

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

I saw in a vision - Daniel was at this time in Shushan, which appears to have been a strong place, where the kings of Persia had their summer residence. It was the capital of the province of Elam or the Elymais; which province was most probably added to the Chaldean territories by Nebuchadnezzar; see Jeremiah 49:34, Jeremiah 49:35. Here was Daniel's ordinary residence; and though here at this time, he, in vision, saw himself on the banks of the river Ulai. This is the same as the river Euleus, which divided Shushan or Susiana from Elymais.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And I saw in a vision - I looked as the vision appeared to me; or I saw certain things represented to me in a vision. On the word vision, see the notes at Daniel 1:17. The meaning here would seem to be that a vision appeared to Daniel, and that he contemplated it with earnestness, to understand what it meant.

That I was at Shushan - As remarked in the introduction to this chapter, this might mean that he seemed to be there, or that the vision was represented to him as being there; but the most natural construction is to suppose that Daniel was actually there himself. Why he was there he has not informed us directly - whether he was on public business, or on his own. From Daniel 8:27, however - “Afterward I rose up, and did the king‘s business” - it would seem most probable that he was then in the service of the king. This supposition will not conflict with the statement in Daniel 5:10-11, in which the queen-mother, when the handwriting appeared on the wall of the palace informs Belshazzar that there was “a man in his kingdom in whom was the spirit of the holy gods, etc.” - from which it might be objected that Daniel was at that time unknown to the king, and could not have been in his employ, for it might have been a fact that he was in the employ of the king as an officer of the government, and yet it may have been forgotten that he had this power of disclosing the meaning of visions.

He may have been employed in the public service, but his services to the father of the king, and his extraordinary skill in interpreting dreams and visions may not at once have occurred to the affrighted monarch and his courtiers. Shushan, or Susa, the chief town of Susiana, was the capital of Persia after the time of Cyrus, in which the kings of Persia had their principal residence, Nehemiah 1:1; Esther 1:2-5. It was situated on the Eulaeus or Choaspes, probably on the spot now occupied by the village Shus. - Rennel, Geog. of Herodotus; Kinneir, Mem. Pers. Emp.; K. Porter‘s Travels, ii. 4,11; Ritter, Erdkunde, Asien, 9: 294; Pict. Bib. in loc. At Shus there are extensive ruins, stretching perhaps twelve miles from one extremity to the other, and consisting, like the other ruins in that country, of hillocks of earth, and rubbish, covered with broken, pieces of brick and colored tile. At the foot of these mounds is the so-called tomb of Daniel, a small building erected on the spot where the remains of Daniel are believed in that region to rest.

It is apparently modern, but nothing but the belief that this was the site of the prophet‘s sepulchre could have led to its being built in the place where it stands - Malcolm, Hist. of Persia, i. 255,256. The city of Shus is now a gloomy wilderness, inhabited by lions, hyenas, and other beasts of prey. - Kitto‘s Cyclo., art. “Shushan.” Sir John Kinneir says that the dread of these animals compelled Mr. Monteith and himself to take shelter for the night within the walls that encompass Daniel‘s tomb. Of that tomb Sir John Malcolm says, “It is a small building, but sufficient to shelter some dervishes who watch the remains of the prophet, and are supported by the alms of pious pilgrims, who visit the holy sepulchre. The dervishes are now the only inhabitants of Susa; and every species of wild beast roams at large over the spot on which some of the proudest palaces ever raised by human art once stood.” - Vol. i. pp. 255,256. For a description of the ruins of Susa, see Pict. Bib. in loc. This city was about 450 Roman miles from Seleucia, and was built, according to Pliny, 6; 27, in a square of about 120 stadia. It was the summer residence of the Persian kings (Cyrop. 8,6,10), as they passed the spring in Ecbatana, and the autumn and winter in Babylon. See Lengerke, in loc. It was in this city that Alexander the Great married Stateira, daughter of Darius Codomanus. The name means a lily, and was probably given to it on account of its beauty - Lengerke. Rosenmuller supposes that the vision here is represented to have appeared to Daniel in this city because it would be the future capital of Persia, and because so much of the vision pertained to Persia. See Maurer, in loc.

In the palace - This word (בירה bı̂yrâh ) means a fortress, a castle, a fortified palace. - Gesenius. See Nehemiah 1:1; Esther 1:5; Esther 2:5; Esther 8:14; Esther 9:6, Esther 9:11-12. It would seem to have been given to the city because it was a fortified place. The word applied not only to the palace proper, a royal residence, but to the whole adjacent city. It is not necessary to suppose that Daniel was in the palace proper, but only that he was in the city to which the name was given.

Which is in the province of Elam - See the notes at Isaiah 11:11. This province was bounded on the east by Persia Proper, on the west by Babylonia, on the north by Media, and on the south by the Persian Gulf. It was about half as large as Persia, and not quite as large as England. - Kitto‘s Cyclo. It was probably conquered by Nebuchadnezzar, and in the time of Belshazzar was subject to the Babylonian dominion, Shushan had been doubtless the capital of the kingdom of Elam while it continued a separate kingdom, and remained the capital of the province while it was under the Babylonian yoke, and until it was subdued as a part of the empire by Cyrus. It was then made one of the capitals of the united Medo-Persian empire. It was when it was the capital of a province that it was visited by Daniel, and that he saw the vision there. Possibly he may have dwelt there subsequently, and died there.

And I was by the river of Ulai - This river flowed by the city of Shushan, or Susa, and fell into the united stream of the Tigris and the Euphrates. It is called by Pliny (Nat. Hist. vi. 81) Eulaeus; but it is described by Greek writers generally under the name of Choaspes. - Herod. v. 49; Strabo, xv. p. 728. It is now known by the name Kerah, called by the Turks Karasu. It passes on the west of the ruins of Shus (Susa), and enters the Shat-ul-Arab about twenty miles below Korna. - Kinneir, Geog. Mem. of the Persian Empire, pp. 96,97. See Kitto‘s Cyclo., art. “Ulai”

Uriah Smith
Daniel and the Revelation, 146

Verse 2

As verse 1 states the time when, this verse gives the place where, the vision was given. Shushan, as we learn from Prideaux, was the metropolis of the province of Elam. This was then in the hands of the Babylonians, and there the king of Babylon had a royal palace. Daniel, as minister of state, and employed about the king's business, was accordingly in that place. Abradates, viceroy or prince of Shushan, revolted to Cyrus, and the province was joined to the Medes and Persians; so that, according to the prophecy of Isaiah (21: 2), Elam went up with the Medes to besiege Babylon. Under the Medes and Persians it regained its liberties, of which it had been deprived by the Babylonians, according to the prophecy of Jeremiah 49:39.DAR 146.2

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
God gives Daniel a foresight of the destruction of other kingdoms, which in their day were as powerful as that of Babylon. Could we foresee the changes that shall be when we are gone, we should be less affected with changes in our own day. The ram with two horns was the second empire, that of Media and Persia. He saw this ram overcome by a he-goat. This was Alexander the Great. Alexander, when about thirty-three years of age, and in his full strength, died, and showed the vanity of worldly pomp and power, and that they cannot make a man happy. While men dispute, as in the case of Alexander, respecting the death of some prosperous warrior, it is plain that the great First Cause of all had no more of his plan for him to execute, and therefore cut him off. Instead of that one great horn, there came up four notable ones, Alexander's four chief captains. A little horn became a great persecutor of the church and people of God. It seems that the Mohammedan delusion is here pointed out. It prospered, and at one time nearly destroyed the holy religion God's right hand had planted. It is just with God to deprive those of the privileges of his house who despise and profane them; and to make those know the worth of ordinances by the want of them, who would not know it by the enjoyment of them. Daniel heard the time of this calamity limited and determined; but not the time when it should come. If we would know the mind of God, we must apply to Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; not hid from us, but hid for us. There is much difficulty as to the precise time here stated, but the end of it cannot be very distant. God will, for his own glory, see to the cleansing of the church in due time. Christ died to cleanse his church; and he will so cleanse it as to present it blameless to himself.
Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4 (EGW), 1166

The Spirit of God, with its vivifying power, must be in every human agent, that every spiritual muscle and sinew may be in exercise. Without the Holy Spirit, without the breath of God, there is torpidity of conscience, loss of spiritual life. Many who are without spiritual life have their names on the church records, but they are not written in the Lamb's book of life. They may be joined to the church, but they are not united to the Lord. They may be diligent in the performance of a certain set of duties, and may be regarded as living men; but many are among those who have “a name that thou livest, and art dead.” 4BC 1166.1

Unless there is genuine conversion of the soul to God; unless the vital breath of God quickens the soul to spiritual life; unless the professors of truth are actuated by heaven-born principle, they are not born of the incorruptible seed which liveth and abideth forever. Unless they trust in the righteousness of Christ as their only security; unless they copy His character, labor in His spirit, they are naked, they have not on the robe of His righteousness. The dead are often made to pass for the living; for those who are working out what they term salvation after their own ideas, have not God working in them to will and to do of His good pleasure. 4BC 1166.2

This class is well represented by the valley of dry bones Ezekiel saw in vision (The Review and Herald, January 17, 1893). 4BC 1166.3

Read in context »
Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 113

Consider the circumstances of the Jewish nation when the prophecies of Daniel were given. TM 113.1

Let us give more time to the study of the Bible. We do not understand the word as we should. The book of Revelation opens with an injunction to us to understand the instruction that it contains. “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy,” God declares, “and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” When we as a people understand what this book means to us, there will be seen among us a great revival. We do not understand fully the lessons that it teaches, notwithstanding the injunction given us to search and study it. TM 113.2

In the past teachers have declared Daniel and the Revelation to be sealed books, and the people have turned from them. The veil whose apparent mystery has kept many from lifting it, God's own hand has withdrawn from these portions of His word. The very name “Revelation” contradicts the statement that it is a sealed book. “Revelation” means that something of importance is revealed. The truths of this book are addressed to those living in these last days. We are standing with the veil removed in the holy place of sacred things. We are not to stand without. We are to enter, not with careless, irreverent thoughts, not with impetuous footsteps, but with reverence and godly fear. We are nearing the time when the prophecies of the book of Revelation are to be fulfilled.... TM 113.3

Read in context »