*Scripture verses covered in this section's commentary are noted in italics

Daniel 8:3-4 meaning

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Daniel 8:3
  • Daniel 8:4

The Vision of the Ram and the Goat:

Daniel sees a vision of a ram with uneven horns lashing out at all animals west, north, and south, doing whatever it wants and acting proudly.

Daniel is witnessing another vision. In his vision, he is standing beside the Ulai Canal in Susa, one of the cities of the Babylonian empire during the reign of Belshazzar, who was Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson.

A violent scene occurs. Daniel lifts his eyes and looks. He sees a ram which had two horns. The animal is standing in front of the canal. It is an uneven animal; its two horns are long, but one horn is longer than the other, with the longer one coming up last. This description makes it sound as though the horns grew before Daniel’s eyes, with one horn ceasing to grow, while the second horn began growing after the first, yet ends up being longer than the first horn.

The ram in the vision begins butting in multiple directions. It bucks westward, northward, and southward. Daniel sees other beasts which could not stand before the ram. Other animals running away from it, or being gored and trampled by it. The ram bucked so wildly, and dominated so thoroughly that Daniel writes nor was there anyone to rescue from his power. Every animal flees or falls under the ram. The ram did as he pleased and magnified himself. Not only is the ram unstoppably strong, he is proud. He shows no restraint. He does whatever he wants. And in all this victory, he glorifies himself.

This vision will be explained to Daniel later in this chapter (Daniel 8:16). This ram with uneven horns “represents the kings of Media and Persia” (Daniel 8:20). At the time of the vision, Babylon is still the most powerful nation, but Media and Persia have been amassing power since the death of Nebuchadnezzar. Media is the greater nation at first, allied with Persia, but King Cyrus of Persia and a contingent of rebellious Medes will defeat King Astyages of Media in 550 B.C. at the battle of Pasargadae, handing power of both nations to Cyrus the Persian. Daniel sees the ram had two horns, one longer than the other, but the second one grows longer than the first during the vision. Persia grew more powerful after Media, being the longer of the two horns coming up last.

The Medo-Persian empire conquered westward, northward, and southward. It ruled greater territory than the Babylonian empire. No other nations (beasts) could stand before it for hundreds of years. The empire did as it pleased and magnified itself, as empires do. It was the supreme power from modern-day Pakistan to Turkey, covering some 2 million square miles of territory (see map on sidebar ).

Biblical Text

3 Then I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a ram which had two horns was standing in front of the canal. Now the two horns were long, but one was longer than the other, with the longer one coming up last. 4 I saw the ram butting westward, northward, and southward, and no other beasts could stand before him nor was there anyone to rescue from his power, but he did as he pleased and magnified himself.

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