[b-hebrew] Four Beasts in Daniel

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Tue Sep 12 21:51:11 EDT 2006

On 9/12/06, Shoshanna Walker <rosewalk at concentric.net> wrote:

> Really it is not about anyone's view, because Daniel was receiving a
> prophetic vision, his own points of view were not relevant, re Rome.
> But he was getting prophecy that was relevant to Bnei Yisrael.  It is
> considered that Rome had so much influence on the world that we are
> still under its domination, hence its exile.

I was not discussing Daniel's points of view regarding Rome.  I was
discussing views of interpretation of the text of Daniel.

The standard traditional Jewish view sees Rome as a name for
Christianity.  This is much more true of the later Roman empire than
of its original foundation.  The original Roman emperors erected a
temple to Aphrodite in Jerusalem.  Later, when Christian views began
to dominate the Roman empire, a lone polytheistic Roman emperor
sanctioned the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in hopes of combating
Christianity.  But this doesn't mean that Daniel is speaking of Rome
or Christianity in his fourth beast.  In fact, Daniel seems to speak of
several centuries before the end of days and we are now a couple of
millenia afterwards.  Daniel's several centuries end before the Roman
conquest of Israel.  Daniel explicitly names Babylon, Media, Persia,
and Greece.  He never mentions Rome.  The one place where Edom
(often in later Jewish writings taken as a name for Rome) is named is
in Dan 11:41 where it is described as a nation saved from Greece,
far from an influential empire to be.  He describes how Babylon is
conquered by Media (Daniel 9:1), and how Media gives way to Persia
(Daniel 11:1-2) which in turn gives way to Greece (Daniel 11:2).  After
Greece, no one else comes up.  We may also ask how are we today
under distinctly Roman influence, rather than Greek influence?  You are
invited to read the two pages I gave you for more information leading to
identification of the fourth empire as Greece.

> And surely they are beasts - not simply living creatures - a lion
> with eagle's wings, which stood on two feet like a human, a leopard
> like beast with 4 heads and and 4 wings on its back, etc.

This usage or nuance of the word beast is not found in the Hebrew or
Aramaic language.  That beasts are meant may be so, but this is not
to be learned from the word used by the book of Daniel ("xywt").

Yitzhak Sapir

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