DANIEL 7      Other translations  -  previous  -  next  -  Daniel  -  BM Home  -  Full Page

CHAPTER VII. 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
  2. the dream and told the sum of the matters. Daniel spoke and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four
  3. winds of the heaven break forth upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from
  4. another. 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 to stand upon two feet
  5. as a man, and a man's heart was given to it. And behold another beast, a second, like a bear, and it was raised up on one side, and three ribs were in his mouth between his teeth: and they said thus to it, Arise, devour much flesh.
  6. After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a bird; the beast had
  7. also four heads; and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, terrible and powerful, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and break in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet: and it was diverse from all the beasts
  8. that were before it; and it had ten horns. 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.
  9. I beheld till thrones were placed, and one that was ancient of days did sit: his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery
  10. flames, and the wheels thereof burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered to him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgement was set, and the books
  11. were opened. I beheld at that time because of the voice of the great words which the horn spoke; I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and he was
  12. given to be burned with fire. And as for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away: yet their lives were
  13. prolonged for a season and a time. I saw in the night visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of
  14. days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
  15. As for me Daniel, my spirit was grieved in the midst of
  16. my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. I came near to one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me, and made me
  17. know the interpretation of the things. These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the
  18. earth. But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever
  19. and ever. Then I desired to know the truth concerning the fourth beast, which was diverse from all of them, exceeding terrible, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, break in pieces, and stamped the
  20. residue with his feet; and concerning the ten horns that were on his head, and the other horn which came up, and before which three fell; even that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spoke great things, whose look was more stout
  21. than his fellows. I beheld, and the same horn made war
  22. with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the ancient of days came, and judgement was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints
  23. possessed the kingdom. Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all the kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall
  24. tread it down, and break it in pieces. And as for the ten horns, out of this kingdom shall ten kings arise; and another shall arise after them; and he shall be diverse from
  25. the former, and he shall put down three kings. And he shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High: and he shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his
  26. hand until a time and times and half a time. But the judgement shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion,
  27. to consume and to destroy it to the end. And the kingdom and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High: his kingdom is an everlasting
  28. kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. Here is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my thoughts much troubled me, and my countenance was changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.

 

REFERENCES

Verses Numbers
1 and following D. P. 134
1 C. L. 26
1-3. P.P.
1-14 TCR 754
1 and following D. Lord 52; AR 36, 945; TCR 157, 851
1 -14 and following .AR 717
1 to end AC 1326; Dict. P. 12
1, 2, 7, 13 D. Lord 52; D. P. 134; AR 36, 945; TCR 157
2, 3 AE 418
2-7 AE 650
2, 3, and following AR 343
2, 7 AC 6000
3. TCR 788
3, 4 AC 3901
3-7 AR 567, 574; AE 1029
3-9, 13, 14 and following Coronis 3
3, 7, 8, 20, 21-24 AR 270
3, 7, 8, 20, 21, 23-25 AE 316
4 AE 1029, P. P.
5 AR 573; C. L. 193; AC 722, 781; P.P.
5, 7 AE 556
6 AR 572; AE 780; P. P.
7 AR 101, 435; P. P.
7, 8, 11, 19-25 AC 2832
7, 19. AR 49
7, 20, 24 D. Life 61; AE 675
7, 23 TCR 761
8 AC 10182
9 AC 3301, 8215, 8459, 9470; D. S. S. 49; AR 47, 166, 694; TCR 223; AE 67, 195, 253, 988; Diary 2; App. 10 9, 10 AC 934, 5313, 6832; AR 229, 287; AE 199,, 336, 504; P. P.
10 AC 8620; AR 256
11 AR 748; P. P.
11, 12, 21, 24 AC 10l82
12. P. P.
13 AC 1990, 9807; D. Lord 26; AR 24; TCR 776; AE 36, 63, 594
13, 14 AC 49, 1607, 6752; AR 291, 478, 839; C. L. 8l; TCR 113, 416, 625, 788, 851; AC 175; P.P.
13-18, 27 AR 913
13, 14, 22, 27 Dict. P. 12
13, 14, 27 D. Lord 6, 42; AR 664; AE 1029
14 AC 4691; D. Lord 10; D. S. S. 86; AR 483, 523, 749; TCR 251, 262, 288, 791; AE 331, 455, 468, 685; Ath. Cd. 19
14, 18, 27 AC 10248
15. D. Lord 48
15, 16 P. P.
17, 18 P. P.
17 to end AC 2547
17, 24 AR 720
18, 22 AR 749
18, 22, 25 AC 8153
18, 22, 27 AR 586
18, 27 AR 284
19 AE 70
19-21 P. P.
21 AR 586
22.. D. Lord 4; P. P.
23. AC 1066; AE 697
23, 24. P. P.
2325 AE 1029
2 AC 10182; AE 1034
25. AR 476, 799; AE 610; P.P.
26, 27 P. P.
27 AC 7051; AR 749; AE 685
28 P. P.
Chapter cited

AC 10455; HH 171; AR 748; TCR 760; Diary 2; App. 5

COMMENTARY: Daniel's Vsion of the Four Beasts and the Ancient of Days.

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. (Ver. 1.)

In this initial verse, we have the prelude to what follows a general statement in regard to a new revelation to Daniel, by a dream and vision.

As to the chronology of this chapter, the time when Daniel had this dream and vision, it is plain that the events narrated antedate the events related in chapter five. Some years elapsed between the death of Nebuchadnezzar and the first year of Belshazzar's reign.

The chronology of this book is not, however, of much importance to us. We have already stated the doctrine that the Word of the Lord was written solely for the sake of the spiritual sense and not for the purpose of recording natural events in a series. The succession is constantly broken. This may be seen even in the Gospel narratives. But the spiritual sense forms a connected unbroken chain. The arrangement of the different books of the Bible into chapters and verses is a modern thing, and it is possible that portions of different books have been chronologically misplaced. But we are chiefly concerned to find out the spiritual meaning. In the book of Daniel, as we have seen, there are three principal subjects treated of, namely, the vastation or consummation of the church, the judgement upon it, and the Lord's coming to effect this judgement and to establish a New Church.

What has been recorded in the previous chapters depicts the spiritual state of the church when the love of dominion prevails and man usurps the power of God. This is Babylon the Great. The church is then consummated. The natural rules over the spiritual, and the holy things of heaven and the church are profaned. But man is not allowed to go beyond certain limits. Evil destroys itself as Babylon was destroyed by an excess of luxury and self-indulgence. By an influx of Divine light which comes like a mighty wind the power of evil is overthrown, the wicked are cast down, and the Lord is manifested as the "mighty God" the "Everlasting Father." This is the judgement.

It will be noticed that the dream of Daniel is a new thing. He had been an interpreter of dreams before, but now he has a dream himself. In his dream he has the wonderful vision of the "four beasts ascending out of the sea" and "the Ancient of days." Let us not mistake the nature of Daniel's dream, or suppose that it has not a Divine meaning. Swedenborg clearly explains the nature of dreams. He says:

As to what relates to dreams it is well known that the Lord revealed the secrets of heaven to the prophets, not only by visions but also by dreams, and that dreams were equally representative and significative as visions, and that they were commonly of one sort; and further that things to come were discovered by dreams to others as well as to the prophets; as in the case of Joseph's dreams, and of the dreams of those who were with him in prison, and also of Pharaoh, of Nebuchadnezzar, and others. It may hence appear, that dreams of that sort come by influx from heaven as well as visions, with this difference, that the dreams come when the corporeal part is asleep, but visions when it is not asleep. In what manner prophetical dreams and such as are recorded in the Word flow in, yea, descend from heaven, has been shown to me to the life; concerning which I am at liberty to relate the following particulars.

There are three sorts of dreams. The first sort come mediately through heaven from the Lord; such were the prophetical dreams recorded in the Word. The second sort come by angelic spirits, particularly by those who are in front above, to the right, where are paradisiacal scenes; it was thence that the men of the Most Ancient Church had their dreams which were instructive (AC 1122). The third sort come by the spirits who are near when man is asleep, which also are significative. But fantastic dreams have another origin. (AC 1975, 1976.)

He describes at some length the manner in which dreams are produced. It is not necessary to give all the particulars here. The reader is referred to the work entitled "Arcana Coelestia," in the numbers following those just quoted, where full explanations are given. It is evident that the dream of Daniel was of the first sort and came to him while he was asleep. He was upon his bed. It must be understood that with him there was an opening of his spiritual sight. The things which he describes were representations seen in the spiritual world. They typify the state of the church at its end and the coming of the Lord to judgement. What he saw he recorded and it became a part of Divine revelation, which remains to us at this day.

Let us turn now to the dream and the description of the things which he saw.

Daniel spoke and said, I saw in my vision by night, and behold the four winds of the heaven break forth upon the great sea. (Ver. 2.)

Let us remember we are now considering the state of the church at its end, and that the church on earth is connected with the spiritual world and derives its quality from those who are associated with it in that world. What Daniel described in such wonderful imagery, actually appeared to him in the spiritual world and pictured forth the states of evil and falsity, from which the church on earth derived its quality when the love of dominion prevailed and all manner of false doctrines filled the human mind.

The four winds breaking forth upon the sea represents the influx of the Divine spirit. The blowing of the wind is mentioned in the Word as an outward representation of the inflowing of the spirit of truth. The Spirit of Divine truth flows down through all the heavens, even to those who are in hell, but it is received according to the different states of angels, spirits, and men, and when it reaches those who are in states of evil it is resisted and turned into what is evil and false.

Now the great sea or deep represents hell, or the state of those who are in evil. It also represents the merely natural man in whose memory much knowledge may be stored up, but whose mind is not receptive of heavenly influences. The mind of every man is a heaven or a hell in miniature. What can come out of such a state but what is evil!

Daniel declares:

And four great beasts came up out of the sea diverse one from another. (Ver. 3.)

These four beasts represent the states of affection of those who are in evil, and the evils themselves which characterize the church at its end. A similar vision is recorded by John in the Book of Revelation, who says that he saw two beasts rise up out of the sea, one like a leopard with the feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion, and the other who had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. (Chap. xiii.)

It is well known that man is compared in the Scriptures to certain beasts, as to his character or quality which is always according to his affection. Harmless and useful beasts typify the good affections in man hurtful and useless beasts the evil affections.

Now these four beasts rising out of the sea, as seen by Daniel, specially represent the spiritual states of the men of the church at its consummation or end, which is denoted by night.

The church passes through successive changes or mutations. The first state is an intellectual one, in which man has power to think and to reason about the truths of the church and to soar upward in thought. This state is represented by the lion who had eagle's wings. At the commencement of every church the truth is received intellectually. In this state, man is apt to reason about truths and to regard them as his own. He is delighted with his new acquisitions and soars to heights of reasoning and speculation. But afterwards this merely intellectual state is passed, and man no longer feels the disposition to reason from his proprium the intellectual power is subdued in him. This is signified by the wings being plucked. A true rational state succeeds. This is grounded in obedience and a knowledge and love of heavenly truths. This is meant by the image of the lion being "lifted up from the earth and made to stand upon two feet as a man," and a man's heart being given to it.

But this state does not remain. There is a descent or decline to a lower state. This is represented by the second beast.

And behold, another beast, a second, like 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 to it, Arise, devour much flesh. (Ver. 5.)

When the church loses its power of understanding the Word rationally, it sinks into mere naturalism and literalism. The most heretical doctrines may be confirmed from the letter of the Word. The church, which is represented by Babylon, has confirmed its power by passages of the Word literally interpreted, as that the keys were given to Peter and by him handed down to his successors.

The vision of the bear with three ribs in its mouth is a symbol of the church in which all the hard literal truths of the Word are used to teach submission to the power of the church. By such teaching all rationality and freedom is taken away from man, and he is spiritually devoured or swallowed up, and is no longer capable of understanding anything spiritual.

After this I beheld, and lo, another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a bird; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. (Ver. 6.)

The third state of the church here represented is that in which the false doctrines invented by its leaders are made to appear as true. The leopard is a treacherous animal; it has a beautiful skin, variegated with light and dark spots, which typify the falsification of truth, by which the most erroneous doctrines are made to appear true. When truths are thus falsified and confirmed by reasonings they become fixed and rooted, so that they cannot be changed. The prophet says: "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?" (jer. 13:23.)

It is said that "the beast had four heads and dominion was given to it." Those who are represented by leopards were those in the Christian Church, especially among the clergy, who by false reasonings made their erroneous doctrines appear true to the minds of the simple, especially the doctrine of salvation by faith alone, without the works of charity. This doctrine obtained power at the time of the Reformation, and the leaders of the church at that clay gained dominion over men's minds through the influence of that doctrine.

They laid claim to science, reason, intelligence, and wisdom, represented by the four heads of the beast by which they exercised power in the church. The four wings represented the power of reasoning and confirming what they teach.

The fourth beast is thus described:

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 broke 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. (Ver. 7.)

By this beast, we are told, is described the last state of the church, when there was no longer any good or truth remaining in it. This beast resembles the beast with its seven heads and ten horns mentioned in the seventeenth chapter of the book of Revelation. The church comes to an end when there is no longer any charity and consequently no genuine faith in the Lord.

By a horn is signified the power of truth from good, and, in the opposite sense, the power of falsity from evil. Here the horn is a symbol of the power of falsity, and the ten horns denote every kind of falsity. By the little horn mentioned in the eighth verse, which came up among them, is signified "the full and entire perversion of the Word by applying the literal sense to confirm the love of dominion." (AE 316.)

In this little horn there were "eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things."

With what power and eloquence have the great leaders of the church among the clergy proclaimed the doctrine that the power of the Lord to forgive sins has been granted to them. This doctrine has assumed many forms. Not only in the Papal dominion has it been taught. Wherever men have been taught to believe that there is any power to save in merely human beings, the Lord has been blasphemed and the church has come to an end. Because this state prevailed at the end of the church the Lord came again to manifest His power and glory and to save men from this great evil.

The vision which Daniel had of the Ancient of days is descriptive of the Lord in His Second Coming. It is similar to the vision of John. (Rev. 1:14.) By the coming of the Lord in the spirit and power of His Word, a judgement was effected. This is meant by the thrones having been cast down. The Lord as Divine Truth occupied the seat of power, instead of those who claimed power for themselves. "His throne was like the fiery flame and His wheels as a burning fire." This signifies that the Divine Truth proceeds from the Divine Love, which is like a consuming fire. Thus in the appearance of the "Son of Man" we have the Divine Truth represented by the whiteness of His garments and of His hair, and the Divine Love represented by the red and fiery flame.

In the thirteenth verse we read:

I saw in the night visions, and behold one like a son of man came with the clouds of heaven and came to the Ancient of days and they brought him near before him.

The term "Son of Man" is peculiar to the Gospel, and it is more correct to read a "son of man," as Daniel could not have used this expression with direct reference to the Lord as the one Divine Man, for He was not known as such before His coming in the flesh, although a coming Man was looked for, and thought of. The term "Ancient of days" means the Lord from eternity, or Jehovah. It also means the Lord as Divine Good, as the Son of Man means the Lord as to Divine Truth. (AE 199.) It has been suggested by some writers in endeavoring to explain the words, "they brought him near before him," that there is a distinction to be made between the "Ancient of days" and the "Son of Man," and that the word "they" refers to the angelic powers by whom the Son of Man or Christ was brought into union with the Father. But the Lord was not only the "Son born" and the "Child given," but the "Father of eternity." God was in Him and the Divine in Him was in the beginning with God. "I came forth from the Father and am come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father."

To this "Son of Man" there was given "dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His Kingdom that which shall not be destroyed." The Lord said, "All power is given to Me in heaven and on earth." By this power He was enabled to overcome all the power of evil at His first and at His Second Coming.

Daniel says:

As for me, Daniel, my spirit was grieved in the midst of my body and the visions of my head troubled me. (Ver. 15.)

The word "body" is better translated "sheath." The body is only a sheath or covering of the spirit. While man remains in the natural world the bodily senses often obscure the understanding of spiritual things. Daniel was troubled because he could not understand the vision. The interpretation was given to him, however, by further representations.

This interpretation needs to be explained by the law of correspondence. The images are repeated, but four kings are spoken of. Here we may fall into the same error that we pointed out in our notes upon the second chapter. The error is in speaking of the four kingdoms as if they referred to the four great monarchies of the East. These four kings do not refer to earthly powers, but to the evil and false influences which prevailed at the end of the church, which the Lord overcame at His Second Coming. "These great beasts which are four, are four kings which shall arise out of the earth." The mind is brought into utter confusion of thought by the attempt to identify these four kings with any earthly rulers. They simply represent and signify certain false principles which obtain dominion over the human mind, and the horns signify the destructive power of those principles. All these were finally overcome by the Lord, the "Horn of salvation," raised up for us in the house of his servant David.

The fourth beast, "exceeding dreadful," is a representative of the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. This is what made war with the saints until the Ancient of days came. Then the "judgement was given" and "the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom," that is, when the power of this false doctrine is overcome, all who are in the good of life are brought to a true knowledge of the Lord. To these the kingdom will be given after they have passed through trial and tribulation. The "former things" will "pass away" and a New Church will be established in which the Lord alone will be worshiped.

And the kingdom and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High: His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and all dominions shall serve and obey Him. (Ver. 27.)

In reading these wonderful visions, doubts may arise in our minds, and we may be troubled, but if, like Daniel, we keep the matter in our hearts, the Lord will give us light and peace.

 

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