DANIEL’S VISION OF THE RAM AND GOAT

“What part of the world will the Antichrist come from? From what nation will he arise?”

These are two of the most-asked questions concerning end time events. Where will the Antichrist come from is the great wonderment that all eschatologists squabble about. Is it possible for us to even know? Can we find the answer in the Bible?

Yes, indubitably! In fact, Daniel’s prophetic Vision of the Ram and Goat tells us exactly what part of the world from which the Antichrist figure will arise. If you want to know the answer, keep reading!

DANIEL’S VISION OF THE RAM AND GOAT

By Karen Thompson
First in a Five-Part Series

In Daniel chapter eight, Daniel tells us about another vision he experienced after he had the vision of the four beasts. If you recall, the vision of the four beasts warned the Jewish people of an end time kingdom ruled by someone Daniel described as the “little horn.” This little horn figure is also known as the Antichrist in the New Testament. He will be an enemy to the Jewish people whom they will face during the end times. About the little horn, Daniel said, “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them” (Dan. 7:21). This little horn will not only make war against the Jewish people, but he will prevail against them. Now in Daniel’s second vision of the ram and goat, we learn even more details about this wicked end time kingdom of the little horn figure—the kingdom of Antichrist.

In Daniel chapter eight, we learn additional details about Antichrist’s war against Israel and the Jews. We also learn a very important detail about Antichrist’s kingdom that will put an end to all arguments and speculation—we learn the area of the world where Antichrist’s kingdom will be located during the latter days! With all that in mind, let’s study Daniel’s vision of the ram and goat.

Vision Begins in Shushan Palace in Elam

Dan. 8:1 In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel, after that which appeared unto me at the first. 2 And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai.

At the time of the vision of the ram and goat, Daniel was still living in Babylon and Belshazzar was king. When Daniel had the vision of the four beasts, it was in the first year of Belshazzar’s reign. The vision of the ram and goat came two years later in the beginning of the third year of Belshazzar’s reign.

In the vision, Daniel saw himself in Shushan the palace which was located in Elam, and he was standing on the banks of the river Ulai. Shushan, or Susa, was the capital of Elam and was where the Persian kings lived during winter. The region of Elam was located on the western side of ancient Persia. (Historical interest: Elam was a son of Shem, who was one of Noah’s sons. The Elamites were Elam’s descendants.) In 1935, Persia officially changed its name to Iran.

The Ram With Two Horns

Dan. 8:3 Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last. 4 I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great.

The first thing Daniel saw in the vision was a ram (a male sheep) standing beside the river: “behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns….” The identity of the ram with two horns is the Medo/Persian Empire. We know that because later on in the chapter, the heavenly messenger told Daniel, “The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia” (v. 20). Daniel noted something interesting about the ram’s two horns: “and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last.” One horn grew higher than the other horn. The symbolism of the horn that grew higher denotes the same meaning as the symbolism in the vision of the four beasts when the bear-like beast, which symbolized Medo/Persia, was raised up on one side: Persia would eventually grow and surpass Media in size and power.

Let’s look at the first part of verse 4: “I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward….” In Daniel’s previous vision of the four beasts, the Medo/Persian Empire was represented by a bear-like beast with three ribs in its mouth. The bear-like beast was symbolic of the Medo/Persian Empire in its beginning stages as the bear was told to “rise and devour much flesh.” The command to “devour much flesh” was symbolic of going forth and conquering nations. The flesh the bear-like beast would devour was the nations of Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt. In the vision of the ram and goat, the Medo/Persian Empire invading and conquering these three nations is symbolized in verse four as the ram “pushing westward, and northward, and southward.” The ram pushing toward the west is Babylon, toward the north is Lydia, and toward the south is Egypt.

Verse four goes on to describe the strength of the Medo/Persian Empire: “so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great.” The significance of using the ram to symbolize Medo/Persia is contained in the original word for ram which is ayil. The word ayil is also translated elsewhere in the Bible as “pillar, strong leader, or a mighty tree.”4 The pillar, strong leader, and mighty tree are all things that denote might or strength. Accordingly, the ram symbolizes the Medo/Persian Empire when it had reached its zenith of strength and power. It had become so strong that no other nation could stand against it. The Medo/Persian Empire did what it wanted, because it had become that powerful.

The Goat With One Horn

Dan. 8:5 And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.

As Daniel watched the ram, a male goat with a “notable” horn between his eyes suddenly appeared and was coming from the west. The male goat represents the Grecian Empire which was located west of Persia; the notable horn represents Alexander the Great. Again, we know this from history but also because the angel Gabriel revealed it to Daniel: “…the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king” (v. 21). The first king of the Grecian Empire was Alexander the Great.

The symbolism of using a goat to represent Greece is an obvious connection. The goat is the national symbol for Greece. According to ancient legend, a man named Caranus led a group of fellow Greeks to look for a new region in which to live. Before they set out on their search, an oracle advised Caranus to use goats as guides. While on their journey, they saw a herd of goats fleeing a storm. Remembering the advice of the oracle, they followed the goats and ended up in a region called Edessa. The group settled there and called their town Aegea, which is a derivative of the Greek word aigos which means goat. Caranus used the goat as the emblem on his standards.

In Daniel’s previous vision of the four beasts, the speed at which Alexander carved out his empire was symbolized by the fast moving leopard. In this vision of the ram and goat, it is symbolized by the speed of the goat: “…an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground.” The goat moved so quickly that his feet didn’t even touch the ground.

The Ram and the Goat Battle

Dan. 8:6 And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power. 7 And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand.

Next, Daniel witnessed the goat initiating a fight with the ram saying the goat “ran unto him in the fury of his power” (v. 6). The goat started the fight with the ram. The goat “moved with choler against” the ram and “smote the ram” and broke his two horns. It’s important to note that Daniel described the goat’s actions against the ram as being full of fury and choler, meaning anger. It makes it sound as if the goat’s attack on the ram was personal, like the goat is settling a score.

In fact, the action in this scenario accurately reflects the relationship between Greece and Persia. For many decades, Greece had been full of rage toward Persia and was waiting for an opportunity to exact revenge. The source of Greece’s rage toward Persia had to do with a battle between Persia and Greece about 150 years before Alexander’s time, resulting in Persia taking possession of the Greek colonies along the coast of Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). Since that time, all of Greece burned with anger toward Persia. They wanted those colonies back. At 22 years of age in the year 334 BC, Alexander led an army of 50,000 men into battle to take back the land from the Persians. Alexander surpassed his goal. He regained the Greek colonies and then went on to conquer city after city, ending up conquering the entire Persian Empire. This is reflected in verse seven when Daniel wrote about the goat saying, “and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand.” Indeed, no one was able to rescue the Persian king from Alexander the Great.

The Four Generals of Alexander the Great

Dan. 8:8 Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.

After the goat defeated the ram, the action in the scenario focused on the goat and his horn. Daniel wrote that after the goat defeated the ram, the goat “waxed very great” which means he became very powerful. And when he was strong, “the great horn was broken.” When the great horn was broken off, Daniel said in its place came “four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.” The interpretation of this scenario is that the goat growing very great is symbolic of Alexander building and expanding his Grecian empire. The large horn breaking off is symbolic of Alexander’s death. Shortly after Alexander conquered the entire Persian Empire, he became sick and died in June 323 BC, leaving him little time to enjoy ruling over his newly conquered empire. A curious fact about Alexander is that he deliberately failed to name a successor to his kingdom even though he had time to do so before he died. He knew after his death, the generals would fight with each other over his empire. He simply remarked that his kingdom should go to the strongest of them. He left it up to fate.

The four notable horns growing in the place of the great horn is symbolic of Alexander’s four generals ruling over his empire. In the vision of the four beasts, the generals were symbolized in the leopard’s four heads. As already noted in the vision of the four beasts, Alexander’s kingdom was divided up among his generals.

In verse nine, the vision leaps into the far distant future and begins talking about the Antichrist kingdom. That’s the subject of our next post!

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