Online Bible Commentary
Power and Fame
Daniel 8:1 In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me--to me, Daniel--after the one that appeared to me the first time. 2 I saw in the vision, and it so happened while I was looking, that I was in Shushan, the citadel, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in the vision that I was by the River Ulai. 3 Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and there, standing beside the river, was a ram which had two horns, and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last. 4 I saw the ram pushing westward, northward, and southward, so that no animal could withstand him; nor was there any that could deliver from his hand, but he did according to his will and became great. 5 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. 6 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. 7 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. 8Therefore 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. (NKJV)
The time is 548 B.C., two years after the events written of in chapter seven. Daniel is now about 72 years old. Daniel is still living in Babylon, having been brought there during the Babylonian attack on Israel in 605 B.C.
Babylon was overthrown by the Medo-Persian Empire in 539 B.C., so at this time Babylon is still ruled by King Belshazzar, and will be for another nine years. The Jews were released after Babylon was overthrown and many returned to Israel. Restoration of the temple in Jerusalem began in 536 B.C., twelve years from now. None of this has yet occurred.
Daniel is given a vision from God, after the first one that occurred two years earlier, which is written of in chapter seven (v. 1). The first six chapters of the book of Daniel are historical while the final six chapters are prophetic.
In the vision Daniel is in the city of Shushan, or Susa, which is located about two hundred miles due east of Babylon. Shushan is the present day city of Shush, Iran (v. 2). In his vision Daniel sees “a ram which had two horns, and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last” (v. 3). The ram with two horns is the Medo-Persian Empire. The higher horn represented Persia, the more dominant of the two nations.
The Medo-Persian Empire was conquering all in its path (v. 4). Then, “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” (v. 5). The goat was Greece and the horn was Alexander The Great. Alexander swept through the entire Near East, conquering it in only three years.
Alexander (the goat) conquered the Medo-Persian Empire (the ram) in 331 B.C., and became “very great” (vv. 6-8a). Then, Alexander, “the large horn”, died suddenly in 323 B.C. and was succeeded by four generals, “four notable ones” (v. 8b). These four generals split up the conquered nations into “four winds of heaven”; Greece, Asia, Syria (including Babylon), and Egypt (v. 8c).
This vision shows us the fleeting nature of power and fame. The kings of each of these four nations considered themselves to be greater than anything, even God. Then, in the space of three short years Alexander conquered them all. Alexander was then the greatest of the greatest.
Alexander was tutored as a youth by the philosopher Aristotle. Being the son of a king he had the best of everything. He became king at age twenty and conquered much of the world by the time he was thirty. He is often ranked among the most influential people in human history, along with his teacher Aristotle.
Alexander had it all by the age of thirty. But then he was dead two years later. On either 10 or 11 June 323 BC, Alexander died in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II in Babylon at age 32. It is said that he died either from too much wine or by being poisoned.
Power and fame are fleeting. They do not last. Even more, they do not satisfy. Peace satisfies, and the only peace we find is through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Without Him in our lives we have nothing. Life is not worth living. Call on Him now. He is your Peace, and your Savior. He is the only One who can give your life meaning and purpose.