Daniel 7:5 MEANING

Daniel 7:5
(5) And behold another beast.--We are not told what became of the first beast. (Comp. Daniel 7:12.) The word "behold" implies that this was the next object which arrested the seer's attention. The second beast corresponds to the silver portion of the Colossus (Daniel 2).

One side.--In explaining this very difficult phrase, it must be remembered that the two sides of the bear are parallel in meaning to the two breasts and two arms of the Colossus. It is implied, therefore, that the second kingdom consists of two parts, and the raising up of one side implies that one part of the kingdom would come into greater prominence than the other. Such was the case with the Medo-Persian Empire (comp. Daniel 8:3), in which the Persian element surpassed the Median.

Three ribs.--These cannot signify the people who constitute the second empire, but rather some kingdoms which had already been subdued by it; and by the command, "Arise and devour," the second empire is permitted to make further conquests before its disappearance. The three ribs have been understood from the time of St. Hippolytus to mean three nations: the Babylonians, the Lydians, and the Egyptians.

Verse 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 Septuagint rendering here differs but slightly. "A second" is omitted, and instead of "they said", it is "one said" or "he said." Theodotion agrees with the Septuagint in omitting the word "second," but agrees with the Massoretic in having "they said." The Peshitta begins more abruptly than the others, "And the second beast [was] like to a bear," etc. In regard to the Aramaic text, the use of the haphel form must be observed. The presence of the שׂ instead of the ס is an indication of antiquity in the word בְּשַׂר (besar), which becomes in the Targums בְּסַד. It has been supposed that the reading should be בִשֵׁר (bishayr) with שׁ, which would mean" dominion" - a phrase that would give a sense out of harmony with the context. It is in regard to the meaning of this symbol that interpreters begin to be divided. The most common view is that this refers to the Median Empire. There is nothing to support the assumption that the author of Daniel distinguished between the Median and the Persian empires; everything, indeed, which, fairly interpreted, proves that, while he regarded the races as different, he looked upon the empire as one. It is the laws of "the Medes and the Persians" that are appealed to before Darius the Mede. The united empire is symbolized as a ram with two horns. Dr. Davidson, in his review of Professor Bevan's Commentary (Critical Review) on Daniel, shows the duality indicated by the animal raising one of its two sides. That one race was stronger than the other had to be symbolized, and this was done by making the symbolic animal raise one side. The attitude at first sight may be difficult to comprehend. There is a figure in Rawlinson's 'Five Great Monarchies,' vol. 1. p. 332, in which a pair of winged bulls are kneeling with one leg; the side opposite to the kneeling leg is thus the higher. Kliefoth denounces this interpretation as mistaken, without assigning any reason against it. The interpretation by which he would supersede it is that it means "to one side of Babylonia." There is no reference to locality at all. Moreover, as all the animals come out of the sea, their relationship to Babylonia would be remote. It had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it. What is meant by these three ribs has been much debated. In the first place, Havernick thinks that it is a mistake to translate עלעין ('il'een) "ribs;" he maintains the true rendering to be "tusks." He identifies עלע with צלע (Hebrew); but even if we grant this identification, we do not find any justification for this rendering. The word for "tusks" seems rather to be ניבי, which occurs in the Targum of Joel 1:6 and Job 29:17, and the same word occurs in the Peshitta. At the same time, the symmetry of the figure would fit some such view. In none of the other beasts is there any reference to what they are devouring. Still, one cannot lay stress on this. When we come to consider what is meant by the "three ribs," we have great diversity of opinion. On the supposition that the ribs are in the mouth of the bear, and being gnawed by it, it must mean that at the time when by the conquest of Babylon it came into the apocalyptic succession, the bear-empire had laid waste three territories. Ewald agrees that three countries must be meant, but assumes these countries to be Babylonia, Assyria, Syria. There is no evidence, Biblical or other, that the Median Empire ever extended to Syria. If we grant that the author of Daniel lived in the time of Epiphanes, then no authority open to him, so tar as we know, brought the Medes into Syria before the day of the Persian rule. We need not assume a blunder for our author, and then build further assumptions on that assumed blunder. Moreover, by the conquest of Babylonia and Assyria, the bear came into the apocalyptic succession, whereas he had already devoured those provinces represented by ribs when he appears. Hitzig, following Ben Ezra, takes the ribs as three cities - Nineveh and two others. There seems nothing to identify "ribs" with "cities;" we can imagine it to mean "provinces." Thus we are led to Kraniehfeld's opinion, that it represents constituent portions of an older confederation broken up. The view of Kliefoth, that the conquests of the Medo-Persian Empire are intended - Babylonia, Lydia, and Egypt - sins again st the symbol, which implies that the ribs are already in the bear's teeth when he enters into the sphere of apocalyptic history. Jephet-ibn-Ali maintains the "three fibs" to refer to the three quarters of the world over which the Persian Empire ruled; and this is the view of Keil. It seems better, with Von Lengerke, to regard the number three as not important, but a general term for a few, though, at the same time, we can make approximation to the number when we look not at the Medea, but at Cyrus. Moreover, had we a better knowledge of early apocalyptic, it is at least a possible thing that we might find that "three" was the designating number of Lydia or Armenia, as "two" was of Medo-Persia, "four" of Greece, "five" of Egypt, and "ten" of Rome. It seems to us that the position of Cyrus - at the time we assume the vision to have been given to Daniel - suits admirably with the picture of the bear. Like the bear, he came from the mountains, in contradistinction from the lion of the plains. He united under his rule his hereditary kingdom Ansan, Elam, and Media. Thus we might have the three ribs if we might lay aside the notion of these being devoured. He overthrew the Manda and Croesus before he conquered Babylon, and it is probable that Armenia had also to be conquered before he could encounter Croesus. It is singular that writers who are determined to maintain that Daniel drew all his information as to Babylonian history from Jeremiah and other early writers, should also, by implication, maintain that, in defiance of the continual mention by these writers of kings of the Medes, as if they were a numerous confederacy (Jeremiah 51:11), Daniel held that there was a united empire of the Medes separate from the Persian Empire. The second empire is not, as maintained by Ewald, represented by a bear, "because its empire was less extensive than that of Babylon," but because it was a falling off from the theocratic monarch - the monarch who ruled as God. They said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. The speakers here may be "the watchers," or it may be used impersonally. On the assumption that the bear is the shadowy Median Empire, what meaning can this command have? The Medes, as distinct from the Persians, by the time that Epiphanes ascended the throne, had become very shadowy. The scriptural account of them does not represent them as pre-eminently cruel. Isaiah (Isaiah 13:17) foretells they will conquer Babylon, with all the concomitants of a city taken by assault. Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:25) places the Medes with other nations under the dominion of Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon, and

7:1-8 This vision contains the same prophetic representations with Nebuchadnezzar's dream. The great sea agitated by the winds, represented the earth and the dwellers on it troubled by ambitious princes and conquerors. The four beasts signified the same four empires, as the four parts of Nebuchadnezzar's image. Mighty conquerors are but instruments of God's vengeance on a guilty world. The savage beast represents the hateful features of their characters. But the dominion given to each has a limit; their wrath shall be made to praise the Lord, and the remainder of it he will restrain.And, behold, another beast, a second, like to a bear,.... Another monarchy, and which succeeded the former, and rose up upon the ruins of it, the Medo-Persian monarchy; and so the Syriac version prefixes to this verse, by way of explanation,

"the kingdom of the Medes''

like to a bear, less generous and strong than the lion; more rough and uncivil, but equally cruel and voracious; which describes the Medes and Persians as a fierce and cruel people, and less polished, and more uncivilized, than the Chaldeans; and answers to the silver breasts and arms in Nebuchadnezzar's dream; see Isaiah 13:17,

and it raised up itself on one side; either of the lion, the first beast it destroyed; or rather on one side of itself, on the side of Persia; from whence Cyrus came, who was the principal instrument of raising this empire to the pitch it was brought unto. Some render it, "and it raised up one government" (d); one empire out of many nations and kingdoms it subdued:

and it had three ribs in the mouth of it, between the teeth of it; that is, three ribs covered with flesh, which, it was devouring; the bear being very voracious, and a great flesh eater: these, according to some, signify three kings that followed Darius the Mede; Cyrus, Ahasuerus, and Darius; so Jarchi and Jacchiades; and, according to Jerom, three kingdoms, the Babylonian, Median, and Persian: but neither of these kings nor kingdoms can be said to be in its mouth, and between its teeth, as ground and devoured by it, unless the Babylonian; wherefore it is better interpreted by others, as Theodoret, the three parts of the world it conquered, westward, northward, and southward, Daniel 8:4, though it is best of all, with Sir Isaac Newton and Bishop Chandler, to understand by them Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt; which countries were ground and oppressed by the Medes and Persians, as the ribs of any creature are ground in the mouth of a bear:

and they said thus unto it, arise, devour much flesh; which Jerom refers to Haman's orders to destroy the Jews in the times of Ahasuerus; but it is much better applied by others to Cyaxares or Darius sending for Cyrus to take upon him the command of his army; and to the Hyrcanians, Gobryas, and others, inviting him to avenge them on the Babylonians, promising to join and assist him, as Xenophon (e) relates: or rather this is to be interpreted of the divine will, and of the conduct of Providence by means of angels stirring up the spirit of Cyrus, and of the Medes and Persians, to attack and subdue many nations, and particularly the Babylonians, and fill themselves with their wealth and substance; hence they are styled the Lord's sanctified, whom he ordered and called to such service; see Isaiah 13:3.

(d) "quae dominatum unum erexit", Junius & Tremellius, Polanus; "et dominatum quendana erexit", Piscator. (e) Cyropaedia l. 1. c. 22. l. 4. c. 4, 24.

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