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In the interpretation of the book of Daniel, it is important to note which parts of the prophetic chapters are interpreted by the Bible itself. Where no specific interpretation is given, interpreters diverge; where the Bible is explicit, all interpreters agree: Babylon is the head of gold in Daniel 2 (2:38); Medo-Persia and Greece are the ram and male goat in Daniel 8 (8:20-21). The following chart illustrates where the Bible itself is explicit.

 Daniel 2 Daniel 7 Daniel 8 Bib. Interp. (ch) Reformers
Gold head Lion Babylon (2) Babylon
Silver Chest Bear Ram Medo/Persia (8) Medo/Persia
Bronze Belly Leopard Goat Greece (8) Greece
4 Wings 4 Horns 4 Kingdoms (8)
Iron Legs Beast Rome
Iron/Clay Feet 10 Horns Rome
L. Horn L. Horn
Stone Judgement Cleansing

Fourth Kingdom: Greece or Rome? Most scholars agree that 2 Esdras (IV Ezra) 12:11-12, written about AD 90, confirms that Daniel’s fourth kingdom had earlier been interpreted as Greece, but as Rome rose in prominence, it came to be seen as the fourth kingdom: “The eagle which you saw coming up from the sea is the fourth kingdom which appeared in a vision to your brother Daniel. (12) But it was not explained to him as I now explain or have explained it to you” (RSV).

The Little Horns: Both the little horn in Daniel 7 and the one in Daniel 8 are evil characters, beating up the saints and mutilating the truth. The little horn in Daniel 7 emerges from among the 10 horns, displacing 3 of them; the little horn in Daniel 8 emerges from one of the 4 horns or (or from one of the 4 winds; the Hebrew is ambiguous). Since the Bible itself does not explicitly identify either of the little horns, interpretations vary according to the presuppositions brought to the text. Consistent Historicists see both little horns (in 7 and in 8) as referring to papal Rome; consistent Preterists see both little horns as referring to Antiochus; dispensationalist Futurists see the little horn in 7 as referring to the future Roman antichrist, but interpret the little horn in 8 as referring to Antiochus. Idealists can interpret both horns as symbolizing any of God’s enemies.

Links to Addendum A and Addendum B for Lesson 10

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