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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. 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. (Daniel 8:3–4, NKJV)




Even though Daniel had interpreted the dream of Nebuchadnezzar and had been given the vision of the four beasts, both of which were explained to him, we find Daniel seeking help in interpreting the vision of the ram and the male goat. “Then it happened, when I, Daniel, had seen the vision and was seeking the meaning, that suddenly there stood before me one having the appearance of a man.” (Verse 15). Daniel does not say he saw a man, rather he saw one having the appearance of a man. Who is this appearance of a man? Matthew Henry comments on this question:


One in the appearance of a man (who, some think, was Christ himself, for who besides could command angels?) orders Gabriel to make Daniel understand this vision. Sometimes God is pleased to make use of the ministration of angels, not only to protect his children, but to instruct them, to serve the kind intentions, not only of his providence, but of his grace.


It is possible that this being was indeed a heavenly angel, but as Dr. Henry points out, it would have had to been an angel that outranked Gabriel and was in such a position as to give him orders. We read of no such angel in the Bible other than Michael the archangel. Archangel is defined as a chief or principal angel. This definition suggests that there may be more than one archangel. While we do not profess to know everything about the order and kinds of heavenly beings, the Bible speaks only of one archangel, and that is Michael.

The Apostle Paul speaks of an archangel in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” The voice of the archangel is paired with the heavenly shout of the Lord Jesus at His second advent. Clearly, the archangel here is a direct reference to Christ.

Michael is specifically mentioned in Jude verse 9. “Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” This is not an easy verse to understand, but it is understood by most scholars that Michael the archangel in this verse is actually Christ. Adam Clarke comments on the traditional Jewish understanding of Michael:


Of this personage many things are spoken in the Jewish writings “Rabbi Judah Hakkodesh says: Wherever Michael is said to appear, the glory of the Divine Majesty is always to be understood.” So that it seems as if they considered Michael in some sort as we do the Messiah manifested in the flesh.


Dr. Clarke also points out that the name Michael is composed of three Hebrew words: Mi, who; ke, like; and El, God—he who is like God. Michael also appears in Daniel 12:1 where it is said He delivers the people; and again in Revelation 12:7 where He and His angels fight with the dragon. We have encountered “One like the Son of Man” in the vision of the four beasts and found this person to be a manifestation of Messiah, God incarnate in Christ. It is, therefore, not unreasonable to accept that this appearance of a man is actually Christ commanding Gabriel to explain the vision to Daniel. 

However, for concrete proof of the identity of “the appearance of a man” we can turn to Philippians 2:8 and see that this expression specifically applies to Christ in His role of Messiah and Savior:


And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.




Gabriel explains to Daniel in verse 20, “The ram which you saw, having the two horns—they are the kings of Media and Persia.” In verse three the ram is described as having two horns, both of which were high, but one was higher than the other and was said to have come up last.

In the study of the prophecy of the four beasts we learned that the kingdoms of Media and Persia were not originally one-at-the-same. Both of the horns on the ram are described as being high. The Hebrew word translated “high” means powerful and arrogant. These qualities are not identical, but there is a cause-and-effect relationship that can work both ways: power can beget arrogance; and, arrogance can beget power.

The Medes were first to set out to expand their empire. In the vision, Daniel sees the ram pushing in three directions: westward towards Babylon, Syria, Greece, and Asia Minor; northward towards the Lydians, Armenians, and the Scythians; and, southward towards Arabia, Ethiopia, and Egypt. The Medes were indeed powerful and they subdued many lesser kingdoms. But in the arrogance of their power they attempted more than they could accomplish. They could not subdue the kingdom of Babylon.

In our earlier studies we found that the Persians were more developed in their military skills than were the Medes. It so happened that Darius, king of the Medes, was the uncle of Cyrus the Persian. Taking advantage of this family relationship, Darius brought Cyrus and the Persian army into the conquest of Babylon. History records that Cyrus defeated the Babylonian army. Darius, being the king of Media, was given the honor of taking the capital city, Babylon, as is recorded in the fifth chapter of Daniel.

After the defeat of Babylon, the power of the Medo-Persian empire resided with Cyrus the Persian, the Persians being the horn that came up last on the ram and is the higher, or more powerful, of the two. The Persians were so powerful at this time that no other nation could stand against them. The Persians were able to achieve the conquests the Medes could only dream about.




Gabriel tells Daniel who the male goat is in verse 21, “And the male goat is the kingdom of Greece. The large horn that is between its eyes is the first king.” The vision of the male goat is given in verses 5–8:


And as I was considering, suddenly a male goat came from the west, across the surface of the whole earth, without touching the ground; and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. Then he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing beside the river, and ran at him with furious power. And I saw him confronting the ram; he was moved with rage against him, attacked the ram, and broke his two horns. There was no power in the ram to withstand him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled him; and there was no one that could deliver the ram from his hand. Therefore the male goat grew very great; but when he became strong, the large horn was broken, and in place of it four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven.


The Male Goat appears suddenly coming from the west, the direction of the Mediterranean Sea. It came across the surface of the whole earth without even touching the ground. Some ridiculous interpretations have come out of the minds of Bible scholars who see predictions of modern warfare and commerce in the symbolism of these prophecies. The goat coming across the whole earth without touching the ground has no reference to aircraft. These ancient armies did not have air forces, so there were no bombers or fighter planes involved in the campaigns of the male goat. The flying goat depicts the swiftness with which Greece pressed its conquest of the then known world. It is astounding that it accomplished it takeover of the world in only six years. This was achieved by an army that did not have transport aircraft, tanks, or tucks; they marched on foot and overwhelmed the world.

The male goat has a notable horn between his eyes. This horn is Alexander the Great, the military genius of his time, and one of the greatest military geniuses of all time. This horn is a notable horn. The Hebrew word for “notable” is khaw-zooth, meaning “a look,” and understood to refer to mean a striking appearance. This does not refer to the physical appearance of Alexander; instead, it refers to the striking appearance of his military genius, which will be commented upon below.

Verses six and seven give the account of the overthrow of the Persian Empire by Alexander. The Male Goat ran at the Ram with furious power and rage, threw him to the ground, and trampled him. These three actions are prophetic of the three major battles in which Greece overpowered and defeated the Persian Emperor, Darius Codomannus, also known as Dairus III.

The Male Goat was moved with rage and ran at the Ram. This is the brief record of the first battle in May 344 b.c. at Granicus in northwestern Asia Minor near Troy. In this battle the Persians lost about 2000 men. The loss of men was not as significant as the loss of the battle. The object of this battle was for the Persians to stop the Greeks from crossing the Hellespont and coming into Asia Minor. The result of the Greek victory was that Alexander was able to occupy about half of Asia Minor.

The Male Goat throwing the Ram to the ground refers to the second battle in November 333 b.c. in southern Asia Minor near the Gulf of Issus. In this battle the Persians lost about 100,000 men, a significant blow to the Persian military strength. It seemed in this battle that the Persians had the upper hand and Alexander was forced into a defensive posture. The Greeks were caught off guard by a large flanking movement on the part of the Persians. The record has Alexander mounting a horse and leading his cavalry in a direct assault against Darius, who then fled from the battlefield. When the Persian army saw their leader fleeing the battle, their morale broke, they were put to route, and were defeated. The result of this battle was the total occupation of Asia Minor by Alexander.

The Male Goat then trampled the Ram. This foreshadows the Battle of Gaugemela in May 331 b.c., which led to the final defeat of the Persian army. Gaugemela, also known as
Arbela, was located just east of what now is Mosul in northern Iraq. Darius had chosen a battlefield that strongly favored his army, which significantly outnumbered the Greek army. Darius had made overtures to Alexander trying to end the war in his favor. Alexander wrote a final terse response, “From King Alexander to Darius: If you wish to dispute your throne, stand up and fight for it, and do not run away. Wherever you hide, I will find you.” Darius offered to settle with Alexander and give him one-half of the Persian Empire, which offer Alexander refused without any consideration. The battle was intense and, as at the Gulf of Issus, Darius fled and left his army to crumble in defeat. The number Persian casualties is disputed and estimates range from 40,000 to 300,000. The result of this battle was Alexander wins Babylon, half of Persia, and all parts of Mesopotamia not already under his control. Darius Codommanus was assassinated shortly afterwards and the Persian Empire came to its end.

The Male Goat grew very great. The Greeks under the leadership of Alexander conquered the then known world but just at the moment of their great accomplishment the large horn was broken off. Alexander lived from July 20, 356 b.c. to June 10, 323 b.c. He was just twenty years old when he started his conquest of the world; he was about 26 when he defeated Darius III; and he was about 32 when he died. He was certainly notable as portrayed in the prophecy.

In the place of the great horn, “four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven.” Alexander left no son to follow him. In the absence of an heir, the empire was divided into four parts, each controlled by one of his generals. Ptolemy Lagi controlled Egypt, Palestine, Arabia, and Peterea and was assisted by Seleucus. Antigonus controlled Syria, Babylonia, and central Asia. Cassander controlled Macedonia and Greece. Lysimachus controlled Thrace and Bithynia.