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Daniel's Greece and Persia; History and Prophecy

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posted on Mar, 5 2012 @ 04:00 PM
In the vision of Daniel ch7, and again in the following chapter, the prophet sees a number of animal forms representing different kingdoms.
At least two of them, from the information that he’s given, represent “Greece” and “Persia”.

Most readers with enough knowledge of history have been able to recognise in these visions a rough outline of the events that followed the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians.
Some readers are also looking for clues about events which might take place in later times.
I’m still a little agnostic about the value of this.
But I would suggest that anyone wanting to use the visions in that way would need to pay close attention to the guidance offered by the parallels in ancient history, which are much too obvious to be ignored.

So that’s going to be my first approach to these chapters.

At the time of the fall of Jerusalem, power in the Middle East was dominated by three regions. There was the Nile valley (Egypt), the Tigris-Euphrates plain (Assyria and Babylon), and Asia Minor (once controlled by the Hittite empire, followed by other powers).

Then a new power appeared on the Iranian plateau. When I was at school, we called it the Persian empire. Daniel, more accurately, calls it “the Medes and the Persians”. This power was able to absorb the three regions that I’ve mentioned. After that, they ventured to cross over into Europe and attack the Greeks, but this was clearly “a bridge too far”.

The Greeks were not a powerful nation, but they put up a dogged defence. Within a couple of centuries they had produced Alexander, who was able to launch an astonishing campaign, overthrowing the Persian empire and placing it under his own control. After he died, his realm was divided between at least four successors. This meant, for practical purposes, that the three original regions re-gained their autonomy under new dynasties- Ptolemy in Egypt, Seleucus in Mesopotamia, and Antigonus in Asia Minor.

This history can then be matched against the visions of Daniel. In ch7, Daniel sees four great beasts coming up out of the sea. These are always understood to be four kingdoms, and we can identify most of them with reasonable certainty.

The “winged lion” is one of the characteristic sculptures of Babylon, and probably represents that empire.

The empire of the Medes and the Persians was politically lop-sided (most of the original power and territory had come from the Medes) and would be well-represented by the “lop-sided bear”. This bear is devouring three ribs, which would represent the three regions already mentioned.

Alexander’s kingdom came into existence with legendary speed, and then fell apart into four distinct kingdoms. This makes it a natural match for the third beast, the winged and four-headed leopard.

In ch8 there is a supplementary vision. The first figure seen in that vision is a ram with two horns (one higher than the other), which is later identified as the joint kingship of Media and Persia. The beast which overcomes the ram is now a goat, moving so fast that its feet don’t touch the ground. This is later identified as “the king of Greece”. This goat has a single “conspicuous horn”, which is then divided in four ways. So this vision is a closer look at the transition between the second and third beasts of the previous chapter.

Taking these two visions together, the encounter between Daniel’s Greece and Persia is a recognisable echo of the meeting of those two powers in the events of ancient history.

How might the same story be applied to later events?

One approach would be to apply “like for like” in terms of geographical location.
Thus the role of “Persia” could be applied to Iran.
The catch is that, by the same token, the role of “Greece” would have to be applied to Greece.
If Daniel’s vision predicts a war against Iran, it is a war against Iran initiated by Greece.
Or possibly, given Alexander’s ancestry, by the state known to diplomacy as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYRM).

Another approach would be to apply “like for like” in terms of position in the world.
In that case, these points would be relevant;

Daniel’s “Persia”, at the time of the encounter with “Greece”, is the dominant power in its world. No beast in any direction seems able to stand against it. It is able to “devour much flesh”.
It is also a duplex power, and one side of the partnership is more powerful than the other.

Daniel’s “Greece”, on the other hand, is an upstart kingdom, arriving on the international scene almost out of nowhere.
The new state hardly outlives the destruction of the old state, but falls apart in its turn.
(And the “hostile ruler” at the end of the book descends from one of these fresh divisions)

Therefore anyone trying to apply these visions to a later time would need to look for a dominant power in the world, to which to attach the label “Persia”.

posted on Mar, 5 2012 @ 06:38 PM
reply to post by DISRAELI

I always thought that Greece was the first democracy. But maybe I am wrong.

If my first statement is true, then I have often wondered if Greece in that prophecy, represented the western style democracy/republic of the United States.

Any thoughts on that statement?

posted on Mar, 6 2012 @ 02:03 AM
reply to post by radpetey

The Greeks did invent the word "democracy", to describe the way many of their cities were governed.
Incdentally, Aristotle's definition of Democracy is that officials are chosen by a lottery. If they are elected by a vote, he calls it something else.
However, the "Greece" that attacked Persia was not a democracy, but the monarchy of Alexander.
So if you go by styles of government, you need to look for a monarchy as the main attacker.

posted on Mar, 6 2012 @ 07:54 AM
reply to post by DISRAELI

I was actually thinking of this matter as being perhaps one of the few prophecies that seem to have a dual fulfillment.

Just a thought......thanks for responding.

posted on Mar, 6 2012 @ 08:12 AM
reply to post by radpetey

I'm opening up to the possibility of dual fulfilment, but I'm also wary of the practice of trying to make prophecies fit current politics, because we may end up distorting them.

posted on Mar, 6 2012 @ 08:20 AM
reply to post by DISRAELI

I hear you on that one.......The longer I am on this great journey, the less I think I know!


posted on Mar, 7 2012 @ 05:52 PM
It seems that modern scholars are tending to arrange the four beasts of Daniel ch7 in a different way, viz.;
1 Babylon
2 The Medes
3 The Persians
4 Alexander

To anyone who knows history, this division makes no sense at all. The Medes and the Persians were hardly separate eras in ancient history, any more than “the English empire” and “the Scottish empire” are separate eras in European history. Once there was a Persian dynasty on the throne of the Medes, they went together as a partnership. Whereas there was nothing particularly “double” and “one leg higher than the other” about the Median empire on its own.

As for the third beast, the rapid movement and four-fold division describe Alexander’s empire much better than they describe the Persians. In any case, the animal with similar features in the supplementary vision of ch8 is explicitly identified as “the king of Greece”, so that really ought to settle the matter.

However, I can understand what’s motivating this modern arrangement. One of the products of the goat is a “little horn”, which scholars want to identify, quite reasonably, with the infamous Antiochus Epiphanes. The fourth beast in ch7 also produces a “little horn”, so scholars jump to the conclusion that this is another reference to Antiochus Epiphanes (which would make the fourth beast Alexander). That reasoning evades the possibility that Daniel is contemplating a second “little horn”, in the more distant future. That “second horn” would be modelled on the infamous king, but not the same person. This treatment of the “little horn” seems to be preferable, because it leaves us with a more natural, less forced, understanding of the sequence of four kingdoms.

posted on Mar, 7 2012 @ 06:01 PM
reply to post by DISRAELI

Good post. I do want to point out one potential flaw in your symbology. You said that the four headed, and winged leopard represented Alexander's empire after it was divided. However in the mentioning of this division, you said "At least four successors" So were there more, or could there have been more; and like with many things ancient and greece, we don't know for sure?

posted on Mar, 7 2012 @ 06:07 PM
reply to post by Miraj

Frankly, the number varied because they kept fighting each other.
Besides the three named in the post, there were at one stage Lysimachus and Cassander on the European side of the Bosphorus; so at that point historical atlases show five of them.
Then later the Seleucids conquer Asia Minor, so at that stage it is arguably down to three.
Therefore I had to hedge with the phrase you noticed.
But the number is sufficiently close to four to be a reasonable match for the image, which is a kind of cartoon.

edit on 7-3-2012 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 8 2012 @ 05:31 PM
Putting this thread together drew my attention to a correlation between these visions and the “seven kings” passage in Revelation ch17.
The sequence given in that chapter is that five kings have already gone, one king “is”, the seventh will remain “only a little while”, and then there is “the eighth”, the Beast.
In Daniel, the goat’s “conspicuous horn” is broken into four, and one of them gives rise to the “little horn”, which “magnified itself” against God.
People who study Daniel and Revelation will want to identify this “little horn” with the Beast of Revelation, i.e. the “eighth” in the king sequence.
So, then, working backwards; the goat itself, if it is based on Alexander, survives only for a short time. That is certainly implied by the statements in Daniel- “when he was strong, the great horn was broken”- ch8 v8. This makes Alexander a good match for the seventh king who remains “only a little while”.
Therefore the ram, or Persia, correlates with the sixth king who “is”, the current ruler at the time when the Revelation visions are understood to commence

posted on Mar, 9 2012 @ 05:03 PM
I was originally prompted to put this thread together by the need to respond to a different interpretation of these visions.

From time to time, over the last few months, I’ve come across a theory which would interpret the king of Greece’s attack on Persia in terms of an American attack on Iran, after which America would be divided into four parts. I believe that theory has flaws.

First, the method of interpretation used. I’ve suggested that we should interpret these figures in a consistent way, either in terms of geographical location, or perhaps in terms of status in the world.
But that theory involves identifying Iran as Persia and America as Greece.
As Winston Churchill once said about a man called Bossom, this looks like neither one thing nor the other. The interpretation of Iran as” Persia” is geographical. However the interpretation of the U.S.A. as “Greece” is not geographical. Nor is it really in terms of position in the world, since America would not be an upstart nation attacking a dominant world-power. So this is inconsistent.

Perhaps we also need to remember that the equivalent war in ancient history was largely about the fate of the three intermediate regions, the first three mentioned in the opening post. The Persian empire had expanded from Iran to absorb those regions. Therefore Alexander did not attack Iran, in the first instance; he attacked Persian power in those regions, first, and got to Iran later. In addition, it was not Alexander’s homeland that divided into four portions after his death, but the expanded empire which he had created by absorbing the Persian empire. As I said in the first post, the practical effect was that the intermediate regions regained their autonomy. So even if the U.S. could be identified with “Greece”, it would not follow that the U.S. itself would then divide in four.

One final point for consideration. I’ve seen it suggested that the U.S.A dominates the world in partnership with the U.K. or with N.A.T.O. This would make the dominating world-power a duplex power, with one side of the partnership more powerful than the other. This is exactly what I have said about “Persia” in the Daniel visions. So if the U.S.A. is to be brought into the Daniel visions at all, perhaps it should rather be understood as “Persia”, the dominant world-power waiting to be overthrown by an upstart.

edit on 9-3-2012 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

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