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Chapter IX The Ram and The Shaggy Goat, Daniel 8

by R. H. Boll

From ‘Lessons On Daniel’ by Robert H. Boll

(This book on Daniel was originally written in 1944. In 2000 it was revised the 3rd time by R. L. Garrett)


Robert H. Boll (1875-1956)

Robert H. Boll (1875-1956)

It was shortly before the great Babylonian world-kingdom fell, in the third year of its last king, Belshazzar, that Daniel saw this vision of the Ram and the He-Goat, which, as he says, was “subsequent to the one which appeared to me previously.” This vision was, as it were, supplementary to that of the Four Beasts (Daniel 7) which he had seen in the second year of Belshazzar. He was, he tells us, in the “citadel of Susa” (or “the fortress”- a city destined to be the capital of the rising world-kingdom of Persia; (see Nehemiah 1:1; Esther 1:2; 2:8) by the river Ulai- whether in person or in vision only is not clear, though it seems to be the latter. There he saw, first of all, a ram, standing before the river, having two horns. Both of these horns were high, but one of them (the one that came up last) was higher than the other. The ram pushed westward, and northward, and southward; and no beast against which his assaults were directed, could resist his onrush. He was supreme and. invincible; “did as he pleased and magnified himself.”

But while Daniel was looking on there came a goat leaping swiftly from the west. This goat had one notable horn between its eyes; and in the fury of its power it ran full-tilt into the ram, smote him, broke his horns, cast him down to the ground and trampled upon him. And now the goat “magnified himself exceedingly.” But just as he got to the height of his power, his great horn was broken off; “and in its place there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven” Dan 8:8

Now it was out of one of these four horns that another, a little horn, sprouted forth, which “grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Beautiful Land.”-the land of Israel. “It grew up to the host of heaven and caused some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it trampled them down.” In the pride of his power “It even magnified itself to be equal with the Commander of the host; and it removed the regular sacrifice from Him, and the place of His sanctuary was thrown down. And on account of transgression the host will be given over to the horn along with the regular sacrifice.” But this little horn (which now had grown to be so great and powerful) flung truth to the ground and prospered in everything it did.

Then Daniel heard a “holy one” (cf. chap. 4:13, 23) speaking; and another “holy one” asked “that particular one”* who spoke at first, how long this state of things would be allowed to go on. The answer was, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the holy place will be properly restored.”

* The term translated “that particular one” is peculiar. It is taken by some as a proper-name, “Palmoni,” the meaning of which some give as the “Wonderful Numberer.” Leeser renders it, “the unknown one.”


So far the vision. With verse 15 begins the explanation. While Daniel was watching the vision and trying to understand it, there stood before him one who looked like a man, and from between the banks of the river Ulai came a man’s voice, which said, “Gabriel, give this man an understanding of the vision.” Gabriel (who no doubt was the one “who looked like a man” whom Daniel had just seen, v. 15) came near to where Daniel stood. Daniel was terrified and fell on his face. But Gabriel said to him, “Son of man, understand that the vision pertains to the
time of the end.”

The importance of this statement (repeated in vs. 19, 26; compare also Daniel 12:4, 9) appears later. Meanwhile Daniel had sunk into a deep sleep, with his face to the ground. But the angel touched him and set him upright; then continued the explanation of the vision.

“He said, “Behold, I am going to let you know what will occur at the final period of the indignation, for it pertains to the appointed time of the end. The ram which you saw with the two horns represents the kings of Media and Persia. The shaggy goat represents the kingdom of Greece, and the large horn that is between his eyes is the first king. 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.”

This is perfectly lucid and needs no further explanation. The ram is the second Gentile world empire, corresponding to the arms and breast of the Image in Daniel 2, and to the “bear” in the vision of the Four Beasts of Daniel 7-Medo-Persia, “The shaggy he-goat” as (Isaac Leeser’s translation gives it) is the third of the Gentile world-powers, the Grecian empire, of which Alexander the Great was the first and most prominent king, symbolized by “the prominent horn” of the goat.
In Daniel 2 this third world -power is represented as “the belly and thighs of bronze” of the great Statue; and in Daniel 7 as the four-headed, four-winged, beast which was like a leopard. Under the leadership of its first king (Alexander), this power of Greece spread with incredible rapidity eastward, conquering everything before it, completely crushing the mighty Persian empire, mastering all the then-known earth, so that Alexander is said to have wept because there were no more worlds left for him to conquer.

But in the hour of his highest triumph, the “prominent horn” of the goat was broken. Alexander, still young (aged 32) died at Babylon (B.C. 323); and about twenty years later, his kingdom was partitioned among four of his generals, Ptolemy, Seleucus, Lysimachus, and Cassander. These are well-known facts of common history
and correspond perfectly with the prophecy of Daniel’s vision. *

* “Ptolemy possessed Egypt, Cyrene, Coele-Syria, and some of the southern parts of Asia Minor. Cassander, Macedon and Greece. Lysimachus, Thrace, Western Bithynia, Lesser Phrygia, Mysia and Lydia. Seleucus, all the rest-which territory would include Palestine, Syria, and all the vast territory to the east once possessed by Assyria, the Chaldaeans, and the Medes and Persians.”


Let us note now, carefully, that up to this we have merely the foreground of the chief point of the prophecy. The vision belongs to the “time of the end.” It foreshows what shall happen in the “later time of wrath”-that is, of Israel’s rejection and chastisement. (cp. Isaiah 10:25.) It was not to be in the near future of Daniel’s time, but “it belongeth to many days (to come)” (vs.26), that the burden of this prophecy was to be realized. The four kingdoms of Alexander’s empire had a former time of their existence; they were also to have a latter time. This “latter period of their rule,” is further defined as the time “when the transgressors have run their course,”-when sin and wickedness shall have come to its final climax. It is at that time that the events of this prophecy are to take place.

Out of one of the four horns that sprang up in the place of the great horn that was broken off-that is, out of one of the four kingdoms that sprang from Alexander’s empire after Alexander’s death-a little horn springs up, which is destined to become exceeding great. It “grew exceedingly great toward the south, [toward Egypt, formerly the Ptolemies’ kingdom] toward the east, [that which was Seleucus’] and toward the Beautiful Land. (Land of
Israel). ”

The interpretation of this is that out of one of those four kingdoms (in their latter time) shall a king arise, little in his start, but attaining to tremendous power-he will be:

» “Insolent,” (“of fierce countenance.” – ASV)

» “skilled in intrigue,”

> whose “power shall be mighty,” yet with power not his own, but bestowed upon him from another source, and altogether an evil one. (Inevitably here we must think of the statements found in 2 Thessalonians 2:9 and Revelation 13:2.)  [Leeser translates “a king of an impudent face, and understanding deep
schemes”; Rotherham, “a king of mighty presence, and skillful in dissimulation.”]

> He uses this power to destroy the mighty ones, and “the holy people,” which latter phrase signifies the Jews, the people of Israel.

> He will “destroy wonderfully,”

> and will prosper and do his pleasure;

> And through his shrewdness (“cunning” – KN) he will cause deceit and craftiness to prosper. (Have we seen something answering to this picture and pattern in modem days?)

> He magnifies himself in his own heart.

> When people are at ease and feeling secure he will destroy many.

> Finally in the madness of his pride he will stand up against “the Prince of princes.” (Could this “Prince of princes” be any other than Christ?)

> Then he comes to his end-not by the agency of man, but like the Statue of Daniel 2, and like the fourth beast in Daniel 7, by an act of God, by a stroke of supernatural judgment.

Of the vision of the 2300 “evenings and mornings” (v. 14), the angel interpreter (vs.20) says simply that it is true, that is, not veiled in symbolism. It is just a plain 2300 “evenings and mornings.” But what is the setting of all this? Let us go back to the vision itself to get the connection. Of the “little horn” we read here in verses 10 – 14, that “Out of one of them came forth a rather small horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Beautiful Land. It grew up to the host of heaven and caused some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it trampled them down. It even magnified itself to be equal with the Commander of the host; and it removed the regular sacrifice from Him, and the place of His sanctuary was thrown down. And on account of transgression the host will be given over to the horn along with the regular sacrifice; and it will fling truth to the ground and perform its will and prosper.

Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to that particular one who was speaking, “How long will the vision about the regular sacrifice apply, while the transgression causes horror, so as to allow both the
holy place and the host to be trampled?”

He said to me, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the holy place will be properly restored.”

No further explanation is given of this. But in the light of what is revealed, some things are plain. The “host of heaven” and the “stars” (comp. Daniel 12:3) can be no other than “the holy people” whom the king of fierce countenance, the “little horn,” destroys, in v. 24. (See also v. 12.) The “Commander of the host” (“Prince of the host” – KN) is the recognized leader of the people at that time. But what is the “the regular sacrifice,” (“continual burnt-offering,” ASV) and “the place of His sanctuary” which this wicked one throws down?

The picture suggested in this description is that:

Israel is back in their land-as yet in unbelief.

They have rebuilt their temple.

They have resumed the daily sacrifices.

This king seeks to destroy the people; takes away their daily sacrifice and throws down
the place of their sanctuary.

God gives them over into the hands of this wicked one because of “transgression.”

This “little horn” (then grown great) throws truth down to the ground, does its pleasure
and prospers.

This tribulation is to continue for “For 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the holy place will be properly restored.”

This vision, as the angel told Daniel, was to be shut up, because “it concerns the distant future.”


Many students and commentators hold that the prophecy of this “little horn” of Danie1 8 has been fulfilled by the appearance, nearly four centuries later, in the kingdom of Seleucus, of an evil king, a bitter enemy and persecutor of the Jews, “Antiochus Epiphanes” as he was called; who in B.C. 168 took Jerusalem, slaughtered 40,000 Jews, plundered, and after that, foully desecrated the Temple.

That this Antiochus in several points strikingly answered to the prophecy of Daniel’s vision is clear. He sprang from one of the four kingdoms of Alexander’s divided empire. He assaulted the “holy people.” He defiled the temple and thus for a time caused the sacrifices to cease. All this so closely corresponds to Daniel’s vision that we are bound to see in it at least a fulfillment of that prophecy. But certain other features which were not fulfilled in Antiochus, point to another, in whom when he comes, the fulfillment will be realized in full measure. For

Antiochus arose in the former time (the earlier history), not “latter period of their rule,” of Alexandrian kingdoms.

His persecutions did not in any sense mark “the time of the end” (Daniel 8:17). Nor did his oppression of Israel come to pass “at the final period of the indignation,” meaning God’s anger against Israel (v. 19). Nor had “the transgressors” as yet “run their course,” (“become completely wicked”-NIV, v. 23). But, contrariwise, history tells us that a large part of the nation stood up valiant and faithful to God, throughout all that trial.

Antiochus desecrated, but did not “throw down,” i.e., destroy the temple.

No such 2300 days as spoken of in vs. 14, can be seen in the Antiochus tribulation.

According to the best available chronology, Antiochus’ first interference with Israel’s religion was in B. C. 175; his desecration of the Temple took place in B.C. 167. Two years later (B. C. 165) Judas Maccabaeus purified the Temple and instituted the feast of Dedication. And the next year marks this Antiochus’ death.

So far from “the host” being “given over” to this monster Antiochus, and his destroying “the mighty men and the holy people”-we find in the history of that period a record of victorious heroism on the part of the Jews, which resulted in their autonomous independence, for about 100 years; the only such period from Nebuchadnezzar’s time until now.

Clearly Antiochus Epiphanes-though we may regard him as a type and foreshadowing of the
great persecutor of the end-time, does not fill up the picture of “the insolent king.” Another
question, however, is raised about the “little horn” of Daniel 8- Is it Identical with the Little Horn of Daniel 7 ?

Some prophetic students declare that it is not; no, and couldn’t be. But despite their insistence it appears to us that the reasons they advance are insufficient, and that the two “little horns” are one and the same. True, the little horn of Daniel 8 arises out of the third, not, like the little horn of Daniel 7, out of the fourth world power. But the fourth world power will embrace all the kingdoms and territories (and more) of the third. Among the ten horns of the “fourth beast” the four kingdoms of Alexander’s empire, reconstituted for the “latter time” would naturally have their place. Also the little horn of Daniel 8 is said to extend itself toward the south and toward the east, and “towards the Beautiful Land”. (Daniel 8:9.) That shows its origin to have been in the northwestern kingdoms of Cassander and Lysimachus, more likely the former, the kingdom of Greece, which after a long absence arose again into a national existence in 1827 to begin the “latter period” of its career.

The Conclusion

So awful and awe-inspiring was the vision that Daniel fainted under it, and “Then I, Daniel, was exhausted and sick for days.” Then (he tells us) “Then I got up again and carried on the king’s business; but I was astounded at the vision, and there was none to explain it.” Did Daniel himself fail to understand it? That could hardly be meant. For Gabriel, whose task it was to make him understand (v. 16) could hardly have failed to do so. The rendering of Leeser suggests a better meaning: “I was depressed because of the appearance, but no one observed it.” Nevertheless there was something about the vision that perplexed Daniel’s mind sorely. What that was will come out in our next lesson.


From Daniel 2:4 to the end of chapter 7 the original text is in the Chaldaean (Aramaic), which was the world language of that day. But with 8:1 the prophecy returns to the Hebrew tongue. This is meaningful. The portion included in 2:4 to 7:28 is of world-wide import; but from here on the prophecy deals most especially with the affairs of the people of Israel. Note how similarly in the midst of Jeremiah’s prophecy (which was all in Hebrew) one verse, Jeremiah 10: 11, is addressed to all the world, and is written in the Aramaic language. Daniel is utterly overcome in the presence of Gabriel, who is only one of God’s messengers.

We shall see another example of this in Daniel 10. Is it any wonder that the “Man of Sin,” “the lawless one,” (2 Thessalonians 2:8) will be destroyed by the brightness of Christ’s appearing; -literally “the outshining of his presence.”)?

Daniel did not presume to interpret the symbolic vision; but he “sought to understand it.” As in every need and desire of his heart, he must have asked God. We shall see again how earnestly he prayed for understanding and enlightenment. (Psalms 119: 18; Ephesians 1: 18.)

“Keep the vision secret,” (“Seal up the vision, “KN) Compare this with Daniel 12:9. But see the different command in the book of Revelation- though many would have us to count it as a sealed book! (Revelation 22:10.)

Is the prophecy of Daniel still “sealed up”? When and how and by whom will it be understood? Answer: So much of it as it reveals could always be understood, together with all its precious lessons. But the more specific significance will appear more and more as “the time of the end” approaches. This will be due partly to developments in the world which will bring Daniel’s words to mind; partly to the increased study of the word of God in general, and of prophecy in particular (Daniel 12:4). Also the light of the New Testament, especially of
“Revelation” will increase our understanding of Daniel. But remember that, even with all that, even in the end-time “none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand.” (Daniel 12: 10.) Here comes in also that impressive word of Christ about Daniel’s prophecy: “Let the reader understand.” (Matthew 24: 15.)

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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33