The Ram and the Goat

The Ram and the Goat

Let us begin by looking at Daniel’s vision of the ram and the goat.

Daniel’s vision is as follows:

Then Daniel is told the meaning of this vision in verses 20-27.

Now lets examine this vision to see what it can teach us:

1 In the third year, of the reign of king Beltshatzar, a vision appeared unto me–even unto me, Daniel; after that, which appeared unto me at the first.

2 And I saw in the vision: now it was so that when I saw, I was in Shushan the castle, which is in the province of Elam. And I saw in the vision, and I was by the stream Ulai.

3 And I lifted up my eyes and saw, and behold, there stood before the stream, a ram which had two horns. And the two horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last.

4 I saw the ram, pushing westward, and northward, and southward. And no beasts could stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand: but he did according to his will, and magnified himself.

5 And as I was considering, behold, a he goat came from the west, over the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground. And the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes.

6 And he came to the ram that had the two horns, which I saw standing before the stream, and ran at him in the fury of his power.

7 And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him: and smote the ram, and broke his two horns, and there was no power in the ram to stand before him. But he cast him down to the ground, and trampled upon him, and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand.

8 And the he goat magnified himself exceedingly, and when he was strong, the great horn was broken: and instead of it, there came up the appearance of four horns, toward the four winds of heaven.

9 And out of one of them, came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great: toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the beauteous land.

10 And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven: and some of the host and of the stars, it cast down to the ground, and trampled upon them.

11 Yes, it magnified itself–even to the prince of the host, and from him the continual burnt-offering was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.

12 And the host was given over to it, together with the continual burnt-offering through transgression. And it cast down truth to the ground: and it wrought, and prospered.

13 Then I heard a Set-Apart-One speaking, and another Set-Apart-One said unto that certain one who spoke, How long shall be the vision, concerning the continual burntoffering, and the transgression that causes appallment: to give both the sanctuary and the host, to be trampled under foot?

14 And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred evenings and mornings; then shall the sanctuary be victorious.

(Dan. 8:1-14 HRV)

3 And I lifted up my eyes and saw, and behold, there stood before the stream, a ram which had two horns. And the two horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last.

4 I saw the ram, pushing westward, and northward, and southward. And no beasts could stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand: but he did according to his will, and magnified himself.

The Ram is the partnership of the Medo-Persian Empire (Dan. 8:20). The horns represent Medes and Persians respectively, the Persian Empire being larger than that of the Mede Empire and having arisen later.

5 And as I was considering, behold, a he goat came from the west, over the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground. And the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes.

6 And he came to the ram that had the two horns, which I saw standing before the stream, and ran at him in the fury of his power.

7 And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him: and smote the ram, and broke his two horns, and there was no power in the ram to stand before him. But he cast him down to the ground, and trampled upon him, and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand.

8 And the he goat magnified himself exceedingly, and when he was strong, the great horn was broken: and instead of it, there came up the appearance of four horns, toward the four winds of heaven.

The goat represents the Greek Empire (Dan. 8:21-22) established by Alexander the Great, but just before his death it was divided by four of his generals into four kingdoms. For this reason the Greek Empire had been represented as a leopard with four heads in Daniel 7. 1st Maccabees describes these things this way:

1: And it happened, after that Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian, who came out of the land of Chettiim, had smitten Darius king of the Persians and Medes, that he reigned in his stead, the first over Greece,

2: And made many wars, and won many strong holds, and slew the kings of the earth,

3: And went through to the ends of the earth, and took spoils of many nations, insomuch that the earth was quiet before him; whereupon he was exalted and his heart was lifted up.

4: And he gathered a mighty strong host and ruled over countries, and nations, and kings, who became tributaries unto him.

5: And after these things he fell sick, and perceived that he should die.

6: Wherefore he called his servants, such as were honourable, and had been brought up with him from his youth, and parted his kingdom among them, while he was yet alive.

7: So Alexander reigned twelves years, and then died.

8: And his servants bare rule every one in his place.

9: And after his death they all put crowns upon themselves; so did their sons after them many years: and evils were multiplied in the earth.

(1Macc. 1:1-9)

9 And out of one of them, came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great: toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the beauteous land.

10 And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven: and some of the host and of the stars, it cast down to the ground, and trampled upon them.

This refers to Antiochus Epiphanies, who is the antagonist of the Channukah story. The name Epiphanies, which he took for himself means “god manifest”. As we read in 1st Maccabees:

10: And there came out of them a wicked root Antiochus surnamed Epiphanies,…

16: Now when the kingdom was established before Antiochus, he thought to reign over Egypt that he might have the dominion of two realms.

17: Wherefore he entered into Egypt with a great multitude, with chariots, and elephants, and horsemen, and a great navy,

18: And made war against Ptolemee king of Egypt: but Ptolemee was afraid of him, and fled; and many were wounded to death.

19: Thus they got the strong cities in the land of Egypt and he took the spoils thereof.

20: And after that Antiochus had smitten Egypt, he returned again in the hundred forty and third year, and went up against Israel and Jerusalem with a great multitude,

(1Macc. 1:10, 16-20)

11 Yes, it magnified itself–even to the prince of the host, and from him the continual

burnt-offering was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.

12 And the host was given over to it, together with the continual burnt-offering through

transgression. And it cast down truth to the ground: and it wrought, and prospered.

This is fulfilled in 1st Maccabees as follows:

21: And entered proudly into the sanctuary, and took away the golden altar, and the candlestick of light, and all the vessels thereof,

22: And the table of the shewbread, and the pouring vessels, and the vials. and the censers of gold, and the veil, and the crown, and the golden ornaments that were before the temple, all which he pulled off.

23: He took also the silver and the gold, and the precious vessels: also he took the hidden treasures which he found.

24: And when he had taken all away, he went into his own land, having made a great massacre, and spoken very proudly.

25: Therefore there was a great mourning in Israel, in every place where they were;

54: Now the fifteenth day of the month Casleu, in the hundred forty and fifth year, they set up the abomination of desolation upon the altar, and builded idol altars throughout the cities of Juda on every side;

55: And burnt incense at the doors of their houses, and in the streets.

56: And when they had rent in pieces the books of the law which they found, they burnt them with fire.

57: And whosoever was found with any the book of the testament, or if any committed to the law, the king’s commandment was, that they should put him to death.

58: Thus did they by their authority unto the Israelites every month, to as many as were found in the cities.

59: Now the five and twentieth day of the month they did sacrifice upon the idol altar, which was upon the altar of God.

(1Macc. 1:21-25, 54-59)

Daniel’s vision continues:

13 Then I heard a Set-Apart-One speaking, and another Set-Apart-One said unto that

certain one who spoke, How long shall be the vision, concerning the continual burntoffering, and the transgression that causes appallment: to give both the sanctuary and the host, to be trampled under foot?

14 And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred evenings and mornings;

then shall the sanctuary be victorious.

In other words the Temple would remain polluted until 2,300 evening and morning offerings (see Exodus 29:38-43) had been missed, or in other words 1,150 days, about three and a half years. This prophecy was fulfilled as recorded in 1st and 2nd Maccabees (1Macc. 4:36-61 & 2 Macc. 10:1-9) and the Talmud (b.Shabbat 21b).

1: Now Maccabeus and his company, the Lord guiding them, recovered the temple and the city:

2: But the altars which the heathen had built in the open street, and also the chapels, they pulled down.

3: And having cleansed the temple they made another altar, and striking stones they took fire out of them, and offered a sacrifice after two years, and set forth incense, and lights, and shewbread.

4: When that was done, they fell flat down, and besought the Lord that they might come no more into such troubles; but if they sinned any more against him, that he himself would chasten them with mercy, and that they might not be delivered unto the blasphemous and barbarous nations.

5: Now upon the same day that the strangers profaned the temple, on the very same day it was cleansed again, even the five and twentieth day of the same month, which is Casleu.

6: And they kept the eight days with gladness, as in the feast of the tabernacles, remembering that not long afore they had held the feast of the tabernacles, when as they wandered in the mountains and dens like beasts.

7: Therefore they bare branches, and fair boughs, and palms also, and sang psalms unto him that had given them good success in cleansing his place.

8: They ordained also by a common statute and decree, That every year those days should be kept of the whole nation of the Jews.

9: And this was the end of Antiochus, called Epiphanes.

(2 Macc. 10:1-9)

Thus Daniel’s vision of the ram and the goat in Daniel chapter 8 is a prophecy of the Channukah story…. But wait, Gabriel comes to shed light on this vision in the next few verses:

15 And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, that I sought to understand it: and behold, there stood before me, as the appearance of a man.

16 And I heard the voice of a man, between the banks of Ulai, who called, and said, Gavri’el, make this man to understand the vision.

17 So he came near where I stood. And when he came, I was terrified and fell upon my face. But he said unto me, Understand, O son of man, for the vision belongs to the time of the end.

18 Now as he was speaking with me, I fell into a deep sleep, with my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright.

19 And he said, Behold, I will make you know what shall be–in the latter time of the indignation–for it belongs to the appointed time of the end.

(Dan. 8:15-19 HRV)

So this teaches us that despite the fact that these prophecies were fulfilled by events of the Channukah story, they also have another fulfillment to come at “the appointed end of time”.

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