The Four Great Beasts from the Sea
Daniel begins his vision, in which he sees four great beasts. These are the same four kingdoms that comprise the statue in Chapter 2. They are the four great kingdoms that will oppress the saints: Babylon, Persia, Greece, and the extended Roman Empire.
1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head on his bed: then he wrote the dream and told the sum of the matters.
he wrote down the dream – here is a clear evidence that Daniel himself did not personally write the Book of Daniel.
2 Daniel spoke and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the sky broke forth on the great sea.
the four winds of heaven – Spirit and wind are the same word in Hebrew. The meaning here is metaphorical. The winds are actually the four spirits of heaven: see the same meaning and expression in Zechariah 6:5, 2:6, and Ezekiel 37:9.
stirring up the Great Sea – the Mediterranean, all of these kingdoms that Daniel is about to describe are around the Mediterranean; the sea refers to man’s salvation (analogous to baptism), as we shall also find in the Book of Revelation; the “great sea” can refer to the salvation believed by the whole world. These spirits are going to impact the salvation of man.
3 Four great animals came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
four beasts came out from the sea – these are the four kingdoms of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue in Chapter 2.
4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I saw until the wings of it were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made to stand on two feet as a man; and a man’s heart was given to it.
like a lion – this is Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar is compared to a lion in Jeremiah 49:19.
and had eagle’s wings – meaning, the Lion was very fast; Nebuchadnezzar’s “horses are swifter than eagles” (Jeremiah 4:13).
its wings were plucked off -Babylon, in the last part of its rule it, became less aggressive.
a man’s heart was given to it – the impact on Nebuchadnezzar, after he acknowledged God, in Daniel 4:34. See Daniel 4:16, “let his heart be changed from that of a man, let him be given the heart of a beast.”
5 Behold, another animal, a second, like a bear; and it was raised up on one side, and three ribs were in its mouth between its teeth: and they said thus to it, Arise, devour much flesh.
a second, like a bear – this is the second kingdom on Nebuchadnezzar’s statue, which is Persia, represented by Cyrus the Great, who conquered Babylon. There was some kind of cooperation with the Medes. Cyrus, the Persian, conquered the Medes. Darius the Mede, initially was appointed as governor over Babylon. Therefore, Daniel 8:20 called this kingdom: “the kings of the Media and Persia.” Isaiah 13:17 said the Medes would be sent against Babylon. Nonetheless, Cyrus the Great, was the “supreme ruler” of the kingdom.
three ribs in its mouth – this refers to Cyrus the Great, who conquered three kingdoms: the Median Empire (549 BC); the Lydian Empire (547 BC); and finally the Babylonian Empire (539 BC).
6 After this I saw, and, behold, another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird; the animal had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.
another like a leopard – this is the kingdom of Alexander the Great, which conquered swiftly. Compare the two pictures below, you will see the shape of his kingdom is like a leaping leopard.
four wings of a bird – compares the swiftness of the leopard to Babylon, which had only two wings.
four heads, and dominion was given to it – four heads symbolize four rulers. Alexander’s kingdom was divided among four generals who ruled after Alexander died: Macedonia was under Antipater; Egypt under Ptolemy; Syria under Seleucus; and Asia under Antigonus.
7 After this I saw in the night-visions, and, behold, a fourth animal, awesome and powerful, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with its feet: and it was diverse from all the animals that were before it; and it had ten horns.
After this I saw in the night visions – this may be at a different time, or later in the night
a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible – this beast is the Roman Empire, the “Red Dragon” as it is called in Revelation 12. This is the kingdom that will persecute the saints for nearly 1,500 years. The picture below is at A.D. 117.
it had ten horns – the Roman Empire officially ended about 400 AD, however, as Daniel will explain, this beast had Ten Horns, meaning the Latin man continued to control, through a political-religious relationship with Ten European states, for another 1,000 years.
In Barnes’ Notes on Daniel 7, we read:
“Even the Romanists themselves admit that the Roman empire was, by means of the incursions of the northern nations, dismembered into ten kingdoms … Machiaveli (Hist. of Flor. 1. i.), with no design of furnishing an illustration of this prophecy, and probably with no recollection of it, has mentioned these names (as the irruption of Northern people upon the Roman territories):
1, the Ostrogoths in Moesia (Rumania);
2, the Visigoths in Pannonia (Austria);
3, the Sueves and Alans in Gascoign and Spain (Portugal did not exist as a separate state until 868 AD);
4, the Vandals in Africa;
5, the Franks in France;
6, the Burgundians in Burgundy (Germany);
7, the Heruli and Turingi in Italy;
8, the Saxons and Angles in Britain;
9, the Huns in Hungary;
10, the Lombards at first upon the Danube, afterward in Italy. (let’s say Switzerland, where the Language is spoken)”
The eastern European nations, like Greece, were not a part of the Roman dispersion.
Below, we show Machiavelli’s Ten States, as they existed in 1914, before World War I.
8 I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.
another little horn – this is the Antichrist, Satan, who is the King, the “little horn” described in Daniel 8:9.
three of the first horns – three of the ten horns in verse 7. This should not be translated, “the first three horns,” as explained below.
were plucked out by the roots – to be explained more in verse 24, “he shall subdue three kings.”
According to Isaac Newton, these three states were the exarchate of Ravenna, the kingdom of the Lombards and the state of Rome, which comprised the Pope’s dominions at the first.
- France is the “eldest daughter of the Church” and is widely recognized as the first state to embrace Catholicism, after Rome fell.
- Daniel’s expression “three of the first horns,” should only mean, three of the ten horns that appeared before the little horn. The same word translated as “first” in this verse, “qadmay,” also appears in Daniel 7:24; where most translations render it to mean the “previous” or “earlier” horns, “the other ten.”
- And, any identification of the Ten States, should encompass their differences in language and culture, indicated by Daniel 2:43 (NASB), “they will not combine with one another in the seed of men.”
Are there any three states, that are likely candidates then?
Indeed, there are. The states of Spain, France and Italy were “the Latins,” Lateinos. The word “Lateinos” is the most accepted interpretation of the Greek letters that add to 666, as told by Irenaeus in A.D. 180: “for Latins they are that rule and are the fourth kingdom prophesied by Daniel.” The Latins are the “anthropos” – man (race) that John referred to, the “number of a man (anthropos).” From the time of the Roman Empire, until A.D. 711, Spain, France and Italy all spoke Latin, with no difference in dialect. They are the Latin peoples, the descendants of Tubal, as we discuss in Ezekiel 38. They would become the primary force behind the spread of “Latin Christianity.” To understand “the beast” in the period of the ten horns, when the diadems are on the ten horns (Revelation 13:1), we need to understand the meaning of “the number of the beast” (Revelation 13:18).
eyes like the eyes of a man – Satan’s power came through the Latin man, the Bishop of Rome. This is the only way to understand the “little horn” described here, and again in verse 20. As John wrote: “they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast,” (Revelation 13:4). The “Latin man” was only the external authority of Satan.
and a mouth – Satan is not only given the eyes a man, but also a mouth, with which he is able to blaspheme the most high God.