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“ 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. 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. 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. And as I was considering, bebold, 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. 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. 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. Therefore the he-goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horu was broken ; and for it came up four notable ones, toward the four winds of heaven. And out of one of them came forth a little horn which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered. Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said unto me, Unto two THOUSAND AND THREE HUNDRED DAYS; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the
appearance of a man. And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. So he came near where I stood; and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face : but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man : for at the time of the end shall be the vision. Now, as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright. And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation : for at the time appointed the end shall be. The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power. And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power : and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand. And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true : wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days. And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days : afterward I rose up, and did the king's business ; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.” -Dan. viii.
ALTHOUGH so thick a veil has been thrown over the chronological term used in the last prophecy, no such obscurity attaches to that contained in the above chapter; as “two thousand three hundred days” expressly signifies a date, and from the language of the context can have no other meaning but that which has been previously explained—a day for a year, or two thousand three hundred years.
In the period of “seven times,” which was prophesied of even before they had taken possession of the land, and consequently so many centuries before the commencement of the event to which it refers had taken place, a clearer announcement would, for many ages, have been a perfect dead letter. But in the prophecy of the present period of two thousand three hundred years, the youth and the meridian of Israel's existence as a nation had passed away ; misfortunes had gathered thick around them; ten out of the Twelve Tribes had been carried away to a far distant land ; and the remaining two tribes of Judah and Benjamin had not yet returned from Babylon. At such a season as this, God was pleased to give them, more or less through the instrumentality of Daniel, a variety of revelations All reaching to the period when a termination was to be put to all these sufferings, and embracing, in the various streams into which they branched, the future histories of both of the Eastern and Western Roman empires, as far as they were connected with the church.
The present vision, under the symbols of a ram and he-goat, gives a clear but concise history of the Persian and Grecian monarchies (the Babylonian having been previously overthrown); and then, after naming the division of Alexander's conquests amongst four of his generals, up to “the latter end” of their kingdoms, it leaves altogether unnoticed the Roman Empire, properly so called ; and confining itself to the platform or territorial division of the East, relates the history of that new power, which, on the downfall of the Eastern empire, became possessed of the Holy Land, and which has now, for so many centuries, up to the present time, retained it. This new power was the kingdom founded by Mahomet, which arose, as Mr. Faber renders the expression, “out of one of them,” in the extremity or on the borders of one of their kingdoms; or, according to Sir Isaac Newton, behind one of them; that is, in Arabia Felix, which constituted the extreme part of the kingdom of Egypt. The conquests of Mahomet are accurately described as extending “ toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land.” And so remarkably have these territorial limits been observed, that whenever the Turkish armies have attempted to force this barrier, and penetrate into the kingdoms of the West, they have uniformly been unsuccessful. For a long period after the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, they were the terror of Europe, and threatened to overrun its fairest provinces; and it has called forth the best energies of the most powerful emperors of Germany, and other monarchs, to withstand them. In like manner, when the combined armies of Western Europe, under the most gallant leaders, and with an enthusiasm almost more than human, poured like a torrent upon the plains of Asia—and at eight orten different times engaged in Crusades to dispossess the Mohammedan power of the Holy Land - they were equally unsuccessful ; and the myriads that embarked in these chivalrous expeditions went almost to certain destruction, either from famine, or slaughter, or disease. Thus accurately has the scene of this vision been confined within its allotted bounds!