The Prophecies of Daniel – Daniel 7

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Here we continue looking at the prophecies of Daniel.


  1. Introduction
  2. Daniel chapter 8
  3. Daniel chapter 7 (this post)
  4. The little horns and Antiochus
  5. Daniel chapter 2
  6. Daniel chapter 9
  7. Matthew 24 – The Olivet Prophecy
Ascension of Christ

Ascension of Christ, by Gebhard Fugel

The prophecy

The prophecy is this:

  1. Four beasts come out of the sea
  2. The first beast – like a lion, and like a man
  3. The second beast – like a bear, with three ribs in its mouth
  4. The third beast – like a leopard, with four heads
  5. A fourth, terrible beast, with 10 horns, three of which were plucked out by the roots after the appearance of an arrogant 11th horn, the little horn
  6. The fourth beast was killed and burnt, and the other beasts no longer had dominion, but continued for a while
  7. The Son of Man is then seen approaching the Ancient of Days on clouds, and is given an everlasting kingdom

Again, we note that all these prophecies are complete in their primary prediction at the time of Jesus’ ascension into heaven (Dan 7:13, Acts 1:9). We could interpret this whole scenario as being yet in the future for us, were it not for this.

The interpretation

The Bible’s interpretation:

  • 4 beasts = 4 kings (who subsequently established kingdoms)
  • The 4th beast is also a kingdom (although the others are not said to be)
  • 10 horns = 10 kings

We are given no more detail than that as to which kingdoms are represented by each beast. For that, we need to look to Daniel chapters 2 and 8, or make it up independently of those. I plan to follow, for now, the similarity between Daniel 7 and Daniel 2 for the first two beasts, followed by the clear similarity between the 4 heads / horns of Daniel 7 and 8 for the rest.

The first beast is a lion with various features. This would correlate with Babylon, the head of gold, in Daniel 2, but be unmentioned in Daniel 8, which begins with the Medo-Persian kings.

The second beast is a bear. Medo-Persia follows Babylon (as per history and Dan 5:31). Medo-Persia, taking Daniel 2:39 and 5:31 together, corresponds with the chest and arms of silver. Note the two arms – Media and Persia, and the two kings represented by the ram’s two horns in Daniel 8.

Sow with piglet

Antiochus sacrificed pigs in the temple

If one follows only the similarities between Daniel 7 and 8, the lion would be the ram, Medo-Persia, and the bear would be Greece. This would leave no correlation with Daniel 2 for the lion, and it would also leave us with a 4-headed beast that doesn’t correspond to any other 4-headed beast. So I must, for the sake of completeness, count the lion as Babylon and the bear as Medo-Persia.

Why then does Daniel 8 miss out on one entity? Daniel 2 starts with Babylon, Daniel 7 starts with Babylon, but Daniel 8 starts after Babylon. All three visions seen during the reign of a Babylonian king. The most logical reason is that Daniel 8’s prophecies, although seen during the reign of a Babylonian king, would have made no sense at the time, and had to wait until the time of the Medo-Persian kings before it made sense. In the absence of a Medo-Persian kingdom at the time, Daniel could not know, solely from the vision in chapter 8, what sort of alliances would form. When it made sense, Babylon was a kingdom of the past. That is the likely meaning of the vision being sealed up for a while.

So … lion = Babylon; bear = Medo-Persia.

The third beast is a 4-headed leopard. We already saw in our discussion of Daniel 8 that the kingdom following Medo-Persia was Greece, which split up into 4 separate kingdoms, with two (the Seleucid and Ptolemaic kingdoms) having governance over Israel. Of those two, the Seleucids were the main kingdom ruling over Israel, with the kings of the north and south continuing to fight over the area.

The leopard, therefore, is Alexander the Great, founding the Greek kingdom; the four heads are the generals Seleucus (Seleucid kingdom), Ptolemy (Ptolemaic kingdom), Cassander / Antigonus I Monophthalmus (Macedonian kingdom), Lysimachus (Pergamon/Attalid kingdom). This leopard would then correspond with Daniel 2’s belly and thighs of brass.

Suddenly there’s a break. The 4th beast is terrible. Following the Greek kingdom, in Daniel 8, we saw the Seleucids come on the scene, followed by the little horn, Antiochus Epiphanes. We should expect that here too.

Daniel Chapter 7 Prophecy Chart

Daniel Chapter 7 Prophecy Chart

And if we look at Daniel 7 and Antiochus Epiphanes, they match, just as they did in Daniel 8. In fact, not only does Daniel 7 provide a bit of extra information about Antiochus, combined, Daniel 7 and 8 describe him exceptionally well, complemented by even more in Daniel 11 and 12.

The fourth beast has 10 horns. Then a little horn appears, and three horns are uprooted.

These are the kings of the Seleucid kingdom leading up to Antiochus Epiphanes. Technically Antiochus was the 8th king of the Seleucid kingdom … but if you count three kings Antiochus got rid of and were never legitimate kings of the Seleucid kingdom before him, that makes 10 prior to Antiochus, and Antiochus the 11th, the little horn. And the line of kings?

  1. Seleucus I Nicator
  2. Antiochus I Soter
  3. Antiochus II Theos
  4. Seleucus II Callinicus
  5. Seleucus III Ceraunus (or Soter)
  6. Antiochus III the Great
  7. Seleucus IV Philopator
  8. [*Heliodorus] – killed Seleucus IV and took the throne; killed by Antiochus IV Epiphanes
  9. [*Demetrius I] – left in prison in Rome by Antiochus IV Epiphanes
  10. [*Antiochus] – infant, co-ruled with Antiochus IV Epiphanes until killed by Antiochus IV Epiphanes
  11. Little horn = Antiochus IV Epiphanes
    [*] = horns plucked up by the little horn
Antiochus Epiphanes coin

Antiochus Epiphanes coin

Characteristics of the little horn in Daniel 7 that match Antiochus Epiphanes:

  • Mouth that speaks great things
  • Subdue 3 kings
  • Speak great words against the most High
  • Wear out the saints
  • Think to change times and laws
  • Duration in Jerusalem: approx 3.5 years

Finally, the kingdom of God receives its ultimate king, Christ. Until then, the united kingdom of Israel, and later the separate kingdoms of Israel and Judah, wanted their own kings, and God tolerated this. Now the final king – God – is restored to his kingdom. While there will be persecutions, and the other kingdoms may continue for a while, the New Covenant dawned with the incarnation of Christ, salvation entered the world through the death and resurrection of Christ, who then ascended to heaven and received his kingdom.

Further reading:

Did the papacy really uproot the 3 horns of Daniel 7:8,24?
Daniel 7 … Wikipedia
Daniel’s Disturbing Dream (Daniel 7:1-28) … by Bob Deffinbaugh
Bible Truth Versus Adventist Truth – Little Horn of Daniel 7 … Amazing Fiction
Is the Little Horn of Daniel 7 the Roman Catholic Church? … by William Bell
The Prophecy of Daniel Seven … Preterist Central

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