Daniel 8 (Daniel’s vision of the Ram and the Goat and the “Little Horn”)

The vision of Daniel Chapter 8 is of two animals; a ram and a goat.  While Daniel Chapter 7 deals with FOUR kingdoms and the setting up and consummation of God’s eternal Kingdom, describing during the time of the FOURTH kingdom where a “little horn” comes up among the other 10 horns and persecutes the saints during the Millennial reign of “the Son of Man” after He had received the eternal Kingdom from the Ancient of Days, Daniel 8 focuses on only kingdoms TWO (Persia) and THREE (Greece) of Daniel’s vision.  The “little horn” in Daniel 8 arises out of the THIRD kingdom (Greece) (This is NOT the same “little horn” Daniel saw in chapter 7 coming out of the Fourth kingdom).  The visions of Daniel 2, 7, 8-12 predicted events for the next 670+ years to the “second coming” of the Son of Man in His consummated everlasting Kingdom in AD 70 (the consummation of the New Covenant and the eternal Kingdom of God, Judgment of OC Israel, etc.).  The Daniel 7 prophecy was received and recorded in 555 BC (first year of Belshazzar); Daniel 8 in 553 BC.

I. Daniel’s vision of the ram and goat in chapter 8 is so precise in its prophecies, liberals deny Daniel wrote it. 

They say it was written around the time of the 1st century BC, AFTER the events recorded in Daniel 8.  The discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls in 1946 dated the book of Daniel hundreds of years earlier then the liberals and skeptics were saying à shutting their mouths, and establishing the incredible prophetic power of this book.  Here are some of the historical events Daniel prophesied “long before” they ever happened:

  • The Persian Empire (the ram)(539 – 331 BC) conquers everyone north/south/west; Persia rules the world (v. 4).
  • The ram had “two horns” representing the Medes and the Persians, but “one was longer” (v.3).
  • Persia (the ram) “did as he pleased and magnified himself” (539-499 BC).  The army was invincible.
  • Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) consolidated Greek forces and attacked Persia “from the west.”  Alexander is “the conspicuous horn between the eyes” (v. 5).  “Enraged” the goat (Greece).  “Struck the ram and there was none to rescue the ram from his power.”  Alexander took an army of 50,000 elite Greek soldiers and set out to conquer Greece’s great enemy, Persia.
  • According to Josephus, fearing the coming destruction as Alexander the Great approached à Jerusalem, instead of fighting, opened its gates to Alexander and he was shown the eighth chapter of Daniel, which described a mighty Greek king who would conquer Persia.  He spared Jerusalem and conquered the rest of the known world, including Persia and King Darius III (332 BC).
  • Daniel 8:8, “Therefore the male goat grew very great; but when he became strong, the large horn was broken, and in place of it four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven.”  At the height of his power, Alexander died in Babylon in 323 BC at the age of 32.  His kingdom was then split into 4, “toward the four winds of heaven” (v. 8) – N, S, E, and W.

II. The Greek world (Hellenism) was preparation for the coming of the “Son of Man.”

When Alexander died, his kingdom was divided among his four generals for he had no heirs. Ptolemy gained Egypt.  Lysimachus ruled Thrace and Asia Minor.  Seleucus got Syria, Mesopotamis, and Persia, and Cassander took Macedonia and Greece.  Eventually, Greece was simply divided into two separate kingdoms or regions: The North (the Seleucids) and the South (the Ptolemies) took over the kingdom.  It is in Daniel 11 that the language “King of the North” and “King of the South” comes into play (Dan. 11:40).

A. Daniel 8:1-26 is the vision of Daniel about the years 539 BC to 164 BC.

In 8:9-14 Daniel sees a vision about “a rather small horn which grew exceedingly great” (v. 9).  This “little horn” (here, horn means ‘king or ruler’; again, this passage is speaking of the THIRD kingdom and is NOT the same “little horn” Daniel saw in chapter 7 coming out of the Fourth kingdom) which grew great has his eye set on “the Beautiful Land” (v. 9) (Canaan).  This horn comes to Jerusalem and “desecrates the Temple.”

B. Daniel 8:9-14, 23-26 — Daniel is describing the origination of “Hanukah.”

The little horn is Antiochus Epiphanes (215-164 BC), the ruler of the Seleucid kingdom (north)

1. Antiochus would come to power after the untimely death of his predecessor.

2. He was a contemptible person, thus he was called by many Antiochus Epimanes (i.e., the madman) instead of his preferred appellation Epiphanes (i.e., God Manifest).

3. He was not a natural heir to the throne but exalted himself.

4. Antiochus did not lead a bloody coup, but he obtained “the kingdom by sinister schemes and cunning.”  Then once he came to power he was ruthless and bloody.  He descended on Jerusalem and “the holy people.”

5. Antiochus put a statue of Zeus with Antiochus’ head and sacrificed a pig in the Holy of Holies.

6. A group of Jews called “the Maccabees” determined to stop the madness and went to war.

7. After a three year battle (168 to 165) and 2,300 missed “morning and evening” sacrifices, the Jews (Maccabees) defeated Antiochus and “properly restored” the holy place (v. 14).  This Restoration or “Dedication” is called “Hanukah” in Hebrew and “The Feast of Dedication” in the New Testament (see John 10:22).  To the Jew, this Dedication is a very holy day (holiday).


For a more in-depth study see the related full “Study Series”:

Study Series 9 Lesson 1 The Book of Daniel Chpt 1-9