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[The vision of the four beasts]
1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters.
2 Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.
3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
There were certain important particulars to be revealed in connection with the empires and kingdoms of the Metallic Image, which could not be suitably expressed through a symbol of the human form. It became necessary therefore to introduce other representations, that would admit of appendages more in harmony with them. Wild beasts were selected to represent dominions instead of parts of a metallic figure; and as there were four different metals, four different animals were selected, according to the following order:
1. The head of gold, was illustrated by a LION;
2. The breasts and arms of silver, by a BEAR;
3. The belly and thighs of brass, by a LEOPARD; and,
4. The legs, feet, and toes of iron, by a FOURTH BEAST WITH TEN HORNS
4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle 's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it.
The Beasts being substituted for the metals of Nebuchadnezzar's Image, they represent of course the same phases of the Kingdom of Men. We learn from Jeremiah that the powers of Nineveh and Babylon were each represented by lions. He says, "Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven them away: first the King of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon hath broken his bones" (Jer. 50:17).
The Ninevite Assyrian was represented to Daniel as a lion with eagle's wings. Many years before, the Deity had punished the King of Assyria and his land for scattering the Ten Tribes, by transferring the dominion over the Nimroudian empire from Nineveh to Babylon. This revolution is represented by the eagle-wings being "plucked" from the lion's back; while the lion itself was made to stand erect as a man, and to receive in exchange for its lion-heart, the heart of a man. Thus the Lion-Man became the symbol of the Kingdom of Babylon so long as the government continued in the family of Nebuchadnezzar; which with all its faults was more human than that which it succeeded.
Exposition of Daniel Ch 3.
The lion was a very appropriate symbol for the Assyrian dynasty; and it was as well understood to represent it in the days of the prophets, as it is now that the lion and unicorn are symbols of the British power. Hence, speaking of the overthrow coming upon Judah by Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah says, "I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction. The Lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way. He is gone forth to make thy land desolate; and thy cities shall be laid waste without an inhabitant " (Jer. 4:6,7).
But in Daniel (Dan. 6:4), the Assyrian lion appears under different aspects. He is represented first, as a lion with eagle's wings, crouching; and, secondly, as a lion without wings, standing erect, human-like, and with the disposition of a man.
The lion in those two aspects represents the Assyrian monarchy in two phases; first, while Nineveh was its capital; and secondly, when by conquest the seat of government was transferred to Babylon.
Esarhaddon was king of Assyria while Merodach Baladan was king of Babylon, and both were contemporary with Hezekiah, king of Judah. Baladan, the father of Merodach-Baladan, was probably the founder of Nebuchadnezzar's dynasty. Merodach was doubtless an important member of the family; for Nebuchadnezzar named his son Evil Merodach, after him.
About 106 years elapsed from the embassy of Merodach-Baladan, to inquire after the health of Hezekiah, and concerning the bringing back of the shadow ten degrees by which it had gone down on the dial, to the first year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign; which was equivalent to the third of Jehoiakim, king of Judah. It was by the Merodach-Baladan dynasty, that "the wings of the Assyrian lion were plucked;" that is, the Esarhaddon dynasty of Assyria was superseded by the king of Babylon, as the destroyer of the Gentiles.
Before this revolution was effected, the Assyrian dominion was represented by a winged lion, having the form of a man down to the waist, and furnished with arms. This is satisfactorily demonstrated by Mr. Layard in his "Nineveh and its remains." In his excavations at Nineveh he laid bare sculptured lions, twelve feet high and twelve feet long. In one hand, a goat was held; and in the other hanging down by the side, a branch with three flowers. From the shoulder sprang forth expanded wings which spread over the back. The body was that of a lion with five legs, two on the fore-end, and three on the side. The head, breast, and arms were human, and as low down as the waist. A knotted girdle ending in tassels, encircled the loins.
But when Nineveh's dominion was transferred to Babylon by a conqueror, a change came over the Assyrian lion. Daniel [7:4] says, "I beheld till its wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth." In consequence of its eagle's wings being plucked, that is, of Armenia and Persia being subdued, the Assyrian dominion was prostrated to the earth; completely overthrown, but not destroyed; for Daniel says furthermore, that "the lion was made to stand upon the feet as a man" [Dan. 7:4].
Nebuchadnezzar was at once the conqueror and re-builder of the Assyrian monarchy. He made it stand erect, and gave it a more civilized constitution. Shalmaneser had destroyed the kingdom of the ten tribes of Israel, and Sennacherib had blasphemed Yahweh, and the posterity of his son Esarhaddon had become effete: this was a dynasty which had become a pest, a plague spot upon the nations; but Nebuchadnezzar, though an idolator, was a man better suited to the purposes of God.
There was more of the man, and less of the wild beast, in him than in the kings of the dynasty he had overthrown. Therefore, when the Assyrian lion was made to stand erect upon its hind feet like a man, Daniel says, that "a man's heart was given to it".
Its golden, or imperial lion-head, was responsive to divine impressions, and gave utterance to sentiments, which were entirely alien from the heart of the kings of Nineveh. "I blessed the Most High," said Nebuchadnezzar, "and I praised and honored Him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation; and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven; and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest thou? I praise, and extol, and honour the King of Heaven, all whose works are truth and His ways judgment; and those that walk in pride He is able to abase." [compare Dan. 4:34, 35, 37 with Isaiah 36]
But this "man's heart," was not the disposition of Belshazzar, his son's son. Instead of praising, and extolling, and honoring the God of Israel, he defied Him; and "lifted himself up against the Lord of heaven; and out of the holy vessels of His temple, he, and his lords, his wives, and his concubines, drank wine; and he praised the gods of silver and gold, and of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand his breath was, and whose were all his ways, he had not glorified."
This was his offence, on account of which the Lord of heaven passed this sentence upon him:
"God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it; thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. And thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians." Nor was the execution of the decree long delayed, for
"on that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom" (Dan. v. 30-31).
Elpis Israel 3.1.
5 And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.
The lion dominion being overthrown, the dynasty of the Bear took its place when "Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans," in 542 before Christ.
It was a dominion to be extended by the sword, as particular expressed in the words addressed to the Bear, "Arise, devour much flesh."
In the symbolography, or description of the symbol, the prophet saith, that
"it raised up itself on one side."
Hence, one side was "higher than the other;" but, before it raised itself up, the higher side was the lower; therefore, the higher side acquired its more elevated position last. Compare this characteristic of the Bear, with what is said of the horns of the Ram (Dan. 8:3). The inequality of the sides of the Bear, represents the historical fact, that the dynasty of the Bear-dominion was mixed; that is, it was first Median and then Persian.
Darius was a Mede, and his successor Cyrus, a Persian. They were allies in the overthrow of the Chaldean kingdom. When the crown was to be assumed, the Mede preceded the Persian; but when Darius died, instead of the crown descending to a Mede, it passed to a Persian, whose race continued to wear it until the dominion of the Bear was superseded by the leopard. Thus the Persian side of the Bear was raised up last.
But the Bear had also "three ribs in the mouth of it, between the teeth of it." This indicates that in devouring much flesh, the result was that its prey was reduced to "three ribs," which had become firmly fixed to its head. In other words, that the Medes and Persians had made extensive conquests, which were reduced to three divisions for the better administration of public affairs. A rib of the dominion, then, represents an imperial presidency, or, as we should say, vice-royalty; each satrapy comprehending a number of principalities. This organization of the Bear is thus expressed by the prophet,
"It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom a hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; and over these THREE PRESIDENTS; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king (or Bear's head) should have no damage."
By the reign of Ahasuerus, or Artaxerxes II, the dominion of the Bear extended "from India to Ethiopia over one hundred and twenty seven provinces." Though the principalities may have been increased in number, or extent, the presidencies remained the same. A dominion represented by the Bear, its dynastic branch by the higher side, and its three presidencies by the three ribs, were the principal points which distinguished the realm of the Chaldeans, under the Medo Persian sovereignty, from that of the Lion, or the Head of Gold. And it is worthy of remark here with reference to the image at the crisis of its fate, that the power which shall possess Persia in the latter days will be the Bear, and consequently answer to the breast of silver.
We have already in the heraldry of nations an intimation of the power destined to act the part of the bear, when the Four Beasts have "their dominion taken away." This power is the Russian whose symbol is a Bear. This is so well known, that the phrase "the Russian Bear" is as familiar as household words. Russia, which already comprehends some of the Persian territory in its bounds, is destined to conquer Persia, and to possess it from India to Ethiopia. This is not conjecture, but an absolute certainty; for God has declared by Ezekiel, that Persia in the latter days shall be a constituent of the dominion of Gog; and, that Gog is the autocratic dynasty of Russia will be seen when we come to treat of that prophecy in its proper place.
Elpis Israel 3.1.
6 After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.
This beast represents the Macedonian dominion which superseded that of the Bear, as the belly and thighs of brass did the breast and arms of silver. The Leopard-dominion was more extended than its predecessors; for it embraced all that belonged to the Lion and the Bear, with the addition of that which had been established by Philip of Macedon, the predecessor of Alexander "the Great." "It bore rule over all the earth," or Image-territory, thus far subjugated to "civilization," such as it was at that era of the world.
In the year 301 before Christ, the Macedonian dominion in its divisions, and their relative position, is illustrated by the Four Wings of a fowl, and the four Leopard heads. Alexander ruled his conquests for the short space of six years, when he died in Babylon of intoxication. After a long period of war, his unwieldy empire was resolved into several kingdoms, of which the four principal ones are represented by the Four Heads of the Leopard. These were its mighty powers to which the others looked up, as the lesser states do now to the great military potentates of the age.
The four great powers, or heads, of the Grecian Leopard, were,
1. The kingdom of the south which comprehended Egypt, Lybia, Arabia, Coele-Syria, and Palestine, under the Greco Egyptian dynasty;
2. The kingdom of the North-west, including Thrace, Bythinia, &c.; or, the Thraco-Macedonian;
3. The kingdom of the North-east, comprehending the rest of Asia, and beyond the Euphrates to the Indus; India beyond the river, though allotted to this dominion, revolted; so that the Indus became its boundary: this was the Assyro-Macedonian; and,
4. The kingdom of the West, which embraced Macedonia and Greece.
Such were the heads. But, how was it to be determined that they should stand related to these four points of the compass? This was indicated by the wings of the Leopard; an interpretation made evident from the words of the prophet, saying, "the Lord shall gather Judah from the four corners (in Heb. the four wings) of the earth" (Isaiah 11:12; Dan. 11:4). The addition of the wings, then, to this beast, signifies that the kingdoms represented by the heads would be towards the east, west, north, and south, of Judea.
A Leopard is sometimes used to indicate the British power. During the war in the Peninsular, Napoleon and his generals often threatened to "drive the leopard into the sea;" by which they meant, that they would drive the British out of Spain and Portugal. Now, in Daniel (Dan. 8:5) the dominion of Alexander, which extended into British India, is represented by a Unicorn, that is, a goat with one horn. Hence, the Leopard, without additional heads, and without wings, represents the same dominion as the Unicorn.
Now it occurs to me, that the British Unicorn is a symbol representing a similar thing to the Aegean Unicorn of Alexander; and, therefore, identifies the British power with the Grecian Leopard. I do not say, that the mind which designed the heraldry of the British power had the part predestined for Britain to enact in the latter days before it, when it inserted the leopard Unicorn. But divine wisdom some times impels men to do things the import of which they very imperfectly understand; and the insertion of the Unicorn may have been an act of this nature. Be this as it may, there are indications which make the idea more than probable.
In the first place, the British power is the constitutional protector of the Ionian Islands contiguous to the Morea and ancient Macedonia; and secondly, it possesses a part of Alexander "the Great's" dominion in India, and is absorbing more and more of it every war it wages in the far east.
When the Bear pushes for Constantinople, it is not unlikely that the British Unicorn will make extensive seizures of the islands in the Mediterranean as an antagonistic compensation for the continental territory acquired by the autocrat in European Turkey.
Britain is bound to maintain a maritime ascendancy in the Mediterranean; not because she has any continental territory washed by its waters, but because of her vast interests in India, which would be greatly endangered by an uncontrolled military power in Anatolia [Turkey] and Egypt. When the power of the British Unicorn shall be fully developed in maritime Greece, Egypt, Palestine, the Red Sea, and India, a leopard dominion will again appear upon the stage of action, and be prepared for the catastrophy of the latter days.
Elpis Israel 3.1.
7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.
8 I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
This beast was to arise out of the Mediterranean territory as well as the others. The belligerent tempests on every side were to give rise to it; for, says Daniel, "the four winds of the heaven strove upon the Great Sea. And Four Great Beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another:" and, when he has finished the description of them, he states that "they are four kings (kings being used in scripture oftentimes for their kingdoms, and vice versa) which shall arise out of the earth;" which explains, that when he says "up from the sea," he means the countries of the Mediterranean, which in scripture geography is styled the Great Sea.
That this beast is identical in signification with the iron part of the image, and incorporates within its dominion the territory of the kingdoms of the brazen thighs, is indicated by "its teeth of iron and claws of brass." A beast of prey destroys with its teeth and claws. Like the iron kingdom of the image, this iron toothed dominion was to devour and break in pieces all that came in its way, and to stamp the undevoured residue with its brazen-clawed feet. It was "exceedingly dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly;" and, though not named by the prophet, may, by the aid of history and the apocalypse, be correctly termed, the GRECO-ROMAN DRAGON.
This fourth Beast was shown to Daniel for the purpose of representing certain things predestined to come to pass in connection with the ten toes of the image, which could not be suitably displayed in symbolic feet. The things to be Illustrated were
1. The eradication of the power of three toe-dynasties, or, royalties; and the subjection of their territories to an imperial dominion;
2. The peculiar character and constitution of this imperiality;
3. The part this militant power was to play in relation to the saints
4. The time the image's feet were to continue before they should be smitten by the stone;
5. The consumption of the militant power which was to precede the destruction of the image;
6. The personage through whom the destructive power of the stone should be manifested;
7. The giving of the kingdom to Him, and the saints; and,
8. The nature of the mountain which should fill the whole earth.
These eight points constitute a summary of the things designed to be represented by the Eleven Horns which made their appearance on the head of the Fourth Beast.
Elpis Israel 3.1.
9 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.
10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.
Whence came all these thousands of the fiery stream? They are all the Sons of Power: Spirits born of the Spirit; Israel's Elohim, or Mighty Ones; who were once Jews and Gentiles in unprofitable flesh: sinners under sentence of death, but justified by an intelligent and obedient faith. These are the Elohim of the Sh'ma Yisraail, the hypostasis of whom is the ONE YAHWEH -- the One Eternal Spirit multitudinously manifested in the Sons of Eternal Power.
18 But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.
'..."during the age, and during the age of the ages"
'...at the end of which, perfection being attained, the constitution of the kingdom will be altered to meet the improved condition of the world. Thenceforth, all things will be permanent, and generations will cease to come and go. The unrighteous will have been exterminated; and the earth will be inhabited by immortals only, who will have attained to immortality upon the condition of believing heartily what God has promised and taught in His word prophetically and apostolically ministered; and of doing what He there requires to be done.
A kingdom having the Invisible One in all for its king; the Anointed One and his brethren for its princes; and the redeemed from among Israel and the nations during the previous thousand years for its nation of immortals, will be our globe's "New Heavens and Earth" that shall never wax old nor vanish away. Its times, therefore, will be interminable...'. -
Exposition of Daniel