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Daniel 8: 1 “In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me—to me, Daniel—after the one that appeared to me the first time. 2 I saw in the vision, and it so happened while I was looking, that I was in Shushan, the citadel, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in the vision that I was by the River Ulai. 3 Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and there, standing beside the river, was a ram which had two horns, and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last. 4 I saw the ram pushing westward, northward, and southward, so that no animal could withstand him; nor was there any that could deliver from his hand, but he did according to his will and became great.”

 

Chapter seven presented the history of the “times of the Gentiles” from the Neo-Babylonian Empire until the Second Coming of Christ to establish His kingdom on earth.  The eighth chapter introduces God’s program for Israel in relation to Gentiles (8-12).  This chapter returns to the Hebrew from the Aramaic language (2:4-7:28).  Daniel writes in the Hebrew from this point because the subject matter relates to Israel. 

Chapter eight is Daniel’s vision of the ram and the goat.  This is a more detailed revelation about the Persian and Greek empires and how they relate to Israel.  This is the last of the symbolic visions in Daniel. 

8:1

In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me—to me, Daniel—after the one that appeared to me the first time.

The “third year of the reign of King Belshazzar” was 551 B.C., two years after the events of chapter seven.  This vision occurred toward the end of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. 

8:2

I saw in the vision, and it so happened while I was looking, that I was in Shushan, the citadel, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in the vision that I was by the River Ulai.

The ram vision covers verses two to four.  While in Babylon, Daniel had a vision of himself in Shushan.  Shushan or Susa (Greek) was two hundred miles east of Babylon and approximately 150 miles due north of the Persian Gulf.  Few knew much about Susa in Daniel’s day but Susa became the capital of the Persian Empire when Medo-Persia conquered Neo-Babylonia. 

Esther lived there eighty years later (Esther 1:2).  Nehemiah left Susa to return to Palestine 107 years later (Ne 1:1).  Archeologists discovered the code of Hammurabi there in 1901. 

The “citadel” was the royal residence or palace, a place of strong fortification.  “Ulai” may have been an artificial canal nine hundred feet wide. 

8:3

Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and there, standing beside the river, was a ram which had two horns, and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last.

The ram represents Medo-Persia (v.20).  Chapter seven presented Medo-Persia as a lopsided bear (7:5).  The two horns stand for the power of the two nations Medo and Persia.  The longer horn symbolizes Persia, the more powerful kingdom.  Persia presented itself as a ram.  The Persian king carried the head of a ram to war. 

8:4

I saw the ram pushing westward, northward, and southward, so that no animal could withstand him; nor was there any that could deliver from his hand, but he did according to his will and became great.

The Medo-Persian Empire pushed its borders westward to Lydia, Ionia, Thrace and Macedonia.  It went northward to the Caspian Mountains, the Oxus Valley and Scythia and southward toward Babylonia, Palestine and Egypt.  Cyrus and Cambyses were the primary leaders of this conquest. 

PRINCIPLE: 

Greatness depends on the ethics behind the desire for greatness. 

APPLICATION: 

God does not assail doing “great things.”  God does great things (1 Sa 12:24; Ps 126:2, 3).  Man can take something “great” and turn it into arrogance (Je 48:26; Joel 2:20; Ze 2:10; Ps 35:26; Ps 55:13). 

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