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FOUR BEASTS, PART 4
suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and
had three ribs in its mouth
between its teeth. And they said thus to it: ĎArise, devour much flesh!í
After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its
back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given
to it. (Daniel 7:5Ė6, NKJV)
first beast Daniel saw, which we found to be the Babylonian Empire, was a lion
that had eagleís wings. This beast corresponded to the head of gold of the
image Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream. The next two beasts are a bear and a
leopard, which correspond to the Medo-Persian and Greek empires, which are the
silver and bronze portions of Nebuchadnezzarís dream image.
bear appears suddenly. In the previous chapter it was mentioned that one does
not normally think of a bear taking on a lion in a fight and winning. But, in
the case of Babylon and the Persians it is exactly what happened. The Babylonian
Empire began to weaken during the time of Nebuchadnezzarís insanity. After he
recovered he was a changed man and had lost interest in expanding his kingdom.
The five kings following him were weak and ineffective and by 539 b.c. Babylon
was a candidate to be conquered by almost any opposing force.
bear in Danielís dream represents the Persian Empire. This bear was not
friendly and it was very hungry. The Medes and the Persians were not as strong
as Babylon was at its height under Nebuchadnezzar as a bear might not be as
strong as a lion in some ways. However, the weakened condition of Babylon gave
the bear an advantage over the lion.
see the bear raising itself up on one side as it engages the lion in battle. In
this stance it soon overpowered the lion. Daniel records that the bear appeared
suddenly. We know that the Babylonian army surrendered to the Medo-Persian army
on October 10, 539 B.C. and that two days later the city of Babylon fell after
its attempt to throw off the invaders. The fall of Babylon is recorded in the
fifth chapter of Daniel. The city fell suddenly in one night while Belshazzar
was throwing a wild party. He felt safe within the walls of Babylon surrounded
by a might river, but the bear rerouted the river and suddenly came in under the
bear in Danielís dream was in the act of raising itself up on one side as it
began its battle with the lion. One of its forelegs was still on the ground and
with the other the bear was reaching out to strike the lion. This speaks of the
Persian kingdom rousing itself after it had been in quiet subjection to Babylon.
Persia was like a bear wakening from hibernation: hungry and ferocious.
three ribs in the bearís mouth are a subject of debate among Bible
commentators. Some suggest that the three ribs represent the three major
kingdoms conquered by the Persians: Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt. The ribs are the
remains of the nations Cyrus devoured in putting together the Persian Empire.
The fact that there is no flesh on the bones is an indication of how vicious he
was in spreading his kingdom. Some suggest that the ribs are stuck in the
bearís teeth showing that he could not devour all of his neighboring kingdoms.
And there are some other interpretations for the ribs, but they are relatively
the bear suddenly appears in Danielís dream, a voice calls out telling the
bear to ďArise, devour much flesh.Ē This voice represents Godís
intervention in history. It was Godís time to put judgment on Babylon. When
God moves in history, it is suddenly. Godís people may be prepared for what He
is about to do, but the unbelieving world is always taken by surprise.
Persian Empire, the bear, was in power for about 208 years, from 539 B.C. to 311
B.C. at which time the leopard came along looking to displace the bear and take
over its habitat. The leopard in Danielís dream represents the Greek, or
Macedonian, Empire founded by Alexander the Great. This leopard is not a nice,
pretty leopard one might see in a zoo or in a nature movie; it is a monster.
Unlike all other leopards, this one has four wings and four heads. The Greek
Empire under Alexander had the stealthy nature and speed of the leopard. And
like the leopard, he was known for being bloodthirsty and cruel.
are very agile animals that can run over 36 miles per hour; lead over 20 feet;
and jump up to 10 feet in the air. They are also very good swimmers. No animal
is safe when a leopard is after it; those animals are known as ďlunch.Ē The
leopard is considered to be the shrewdest of the big cats and, pound for pound,
it is the strongest climber and it is capable of killing prey larger than
itself. The leopard also has a spotted coat. These spots suggest that the Greek
Empire was no one homogeneous culture, but a blend of several cultures with
different customs. Adam Clarke comments on this fact:
leopard is a spotted animal; a proper emblem of the various nations, with their
various customs and languages, which constituted the Macedonian empire. It may
refer to the character of Alexander himself, sometimes mild, at others cruel;
sober and drunken; continent and lecherous; having a great power of
self-government, and at other times being a slave to his passions
leopard in Danielís dream has four wings on its back. These wings are not the
wings of and eagle, instead they are generic wings of a fowl. Nebuchadnezzarís
two eagleís wings gave his the strength and speed to quickly expand his
kingdom. The leopardís four wings helped this already swift and agile creature
to move much faster. In his lifetime, Alexander subdued part of Europe, and all
of known Asia and Africa in only twelve years.
leopard is very strange in that it has four heads. The heads do not represent
the succession of four kings; rather, they represent four powers that were part
of one empire. Alexander died at the age of 32 and left no successor. At his
death, the empire was organized into four sections, each under the rule of one
of his generals. Thrace and Bithynia (what is now part of Bulgaria in eastern
Europe and all of Asia Minor) was under the rule of Lysimachus; Syria and the
East was under the rule of Seleucus; Egypt was under the rule of Ptolmey soter;
and, Macedonia, or Greece proper, was under the rule of Cassander.
7:6 says that dominion was given to this leopard beast. God gave this beast its
dominion; it did not take it on its own. We see that, again, God intervenes in
human history to place judgment on a nation. This time it was the Persian
Empire. Just because God uses one nation to enact His judgment on another nation
does not give that nation immunity from the responsibility to act justly and
according to Godís moral laws. The Babylonians found that out; the Persians
found that out; and nations and empires throughout history have found that out.
ďDo not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man [or a nation] sows,
that he will also reap.Ē (Galatians 6:7)