1 IN THE first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions in his head as he was lying upon his bed. Then he wrote down the dream and told the gist of the matter.
2 Daniel said, I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of the heavens [political and social agitations] were stirring up the great sea [the nations of the world].
3 And four great beasts came up out of the sea in succession, and different from one another.
4 The first [the Babylonian empire under Nebuchadnezzar] was like a lion and had eagle's wings. I looked till the wings of it were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand upon two feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it. [Dan. 2:37, 38.]
5 And behold another beast, a second one [the Medo-Persian empire], was like a bear, and it raised up itself on one side [or one dominion] and three ribs were in its mouth between its teeth; and it was told, Arise, devour much flesh.
6 After this I looked, and behold, another [the Grecian empire of Alexander the Great], like a leopard which had four wings of a bird on its back. The beast had also four heads [Alexander's generals, his successors], and dominion was given to it. [Dan. 2:39; 8:20-22.]
7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast [the Roman empire]–terrible, powerful and dreadful, and exceedingly strong. And it had great iron teeth; it devoured and crushed and trampled what was left with its feet. And it was different from all the beasts that came before it, and it had ten horns [symbolizing ten kings]. [Dan. 2:40-43; 7:23.]
8 I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots; and behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth speaking great things.
9 I kept looking until thrones were placed [for the assessors with the Judge], and the Ancient of Days [God, the eternal Father] took His seat, Whose garment was white as snow and the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was like the fiery flame; its wheels were burning fire. [I Kings 22:19; Ps. 90:2; Ezek. 1:26-28; Dan. 7:13, 22; Matt. 19:28; Rev. 20:4.]
10 A stream of fire came forth from before Him; a thousand thousands ministered to Him and ten thousand times ten thousand rose up and stood before Him; the Judge was seated [the court was in session] and the books were opened.
11 I looked then because of the sound of the great words which the horn was speaking. I watched until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire.
12 And as for the rest of the beasts, their power of dominion was taken away; yet their lives were prolonged [for the duration of their lives was fixed] for a season and a time.
13 I saw in the night visions, and behold, on the clouds of the heavens came One like a Son of man, and He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him.
14 And there was given Him [the Messiah] dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and His kingdom is one which shall not be destroyed. [Rev. 5:1-10.]
15 As for me, Daniel, my spirit was grieved and anxious within me, and the visions of my head alarmed and agitated me.
16 I came near to one of those who stood there and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of the things.
17 These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth.
18 But the saints of the Most High [God] shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever. [Rom. 8:17; I Pet. 2:9; Rev. 3:21.]
19 Then I wished to know the truth about the fourth beast–which was different from all the others, exceedingly terrible and shocking, whose teeth were of iron and its nails of bronze, which devoured, broke and crushed, and trampled what was left with its feet–
20 And about the ten horns [representing kings] that were on its head, and the other horn which came up later and before which three of [the horns] fell, the horn which had eyes and a mouth that spoke great things and which looked greater than the others.
21 As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them [Rev. 13:7-9.]
22 Until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High [God], and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.
23 Thus [the angel] said, The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all other kingdoms and shall devour the whole earth, tread it down, and break it in pieces and crush it.
24 And as for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise; and another shall arise after them, and he shall be different from the former ones, and he shall subdue and put down three kings.
25 And he shall speak words against the Most High [God] and shall wear out the saints of the Most High and think to change the time [of sacred feasts and holy days] and the law; and the saints shall be given into his hand for a time, two times, and half a time [three and one-half years]. [Rev. 13:1-6.]
26 But the judgment shall be set [by the court of the Most High], and they shall take away his dominion to consume it [gradually] and to destroy it [suddenly] in the end.
27 And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heavens shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions shall serve and obey Him.
28 Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my [waking] thoughts troubled and alarmed me much and my cheerfulness of countenance was changed in me; but I kept the matter [of the interpreting angel's information] in my heart and mind.