Daniel 7:5


King James Version (KJV)

And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus to it, Arise, devour much flesh.

American King James Version (AKJV)

And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus to it, Arise, devour much flesh.

American Standard Version (ASV)

And, behold, another beast, a second, like to a bear; and it was raised up on one side, and three ribs were in its mouth between its teeth: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.

Basic English Translation (BBE)

And I saw another beast, like a bear, and it was lifted up on one side, and three side-bones were in its mouth, between its teeth: and they said to it, Up! take much flesh.

Webster's Revision

And behold another beast, a second, like a bear, and it raised itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus to it, Arise, devour much flesh.

World English Bible

Behold, another animal, a second, like a bear; and it was raised up on one side, and three ribs were in its mouth between its teeth: and they said thus to it, Arise, devour much flesh.

English Revised Version (ERV)

And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it was raised up on one side, and three ribs were in his mouth between his teeth: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.

Clarke's Daniel 7:5 Bible Commentary

Another beast - like to a bear - This was the Medo-Persian empire, represented here under the symbol of the bear, as the largest species of these animals was found in Media, a mountainous, cold, and rough country, covered with woods. The Medes and Persians are compared to a bear on account of their cruelty and thirst after blood, a bear being a most voracious and cruel animal; the bear is termed by Aristotle an all-devouring animal; and the Medo-Persians are known to have been great robbers and spoilers. See Jeremiah 51:48-56. The Persians were notorious for the cruelty of their punishments. See Calmet.

Raised up itself on one side - Cyrus arose on the borders of Chaldea, and thus the bear appeared to put itself in the position to attack the lion.

It had three ribs in the mouth of it - As if it had just finished its repast on some animal that it had seized. Some think three tusks curved like ribs, are meant; others three throats, עלעין illin, by which it (Cyrus) had absorbed the three empires of the Babylonians, Medes, and Persians; for these symbolic animals do not so much denote four empires, as four kings. See Jeremiah 51:17. Others think three row of teeth are meant to denote the triple power of the Medes, Persians, and Babylonians, conjoined. Or the east, north, and south, which were subdued by the Persians. But the ribs being between the teeth of the bear may show how Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt were ground and oppressed by the bear - the Persians; though, as ribs strengthen the body, they were a powerful support to their conquerors.

Barnes's Daniel 7:5 Bible Commentary

And, behold, another beast, a second, like to a bear - That is, after the lion had appeared, and he had watched it until it had undergone these surprising transformations. There are several circumstances, also, in regard to this symbol, all of which, it is to be supposed, were significant, and all of which demand explication before it is attempted to apply them.

(a) The animal seen: the bear. For a full description of the bear, see Bochart, Hieroz. lib. iii. c. 9: The animal is well known, and has properties quite distinct from the lion and other animals. There was doubtless some reason why this symbol was employed to denote a particular kingdom, and there was something in the kingdom that corresponded with these peculiar properties, as there was in the case of the lion. The bear might, in some respects, have been a proper representative of Babylon, but it would not in all nor in the main respects. According to Bochart (Hiefoz, vol. i. p. 812), the bear is distinguished mainly for two things, cunning and ferocity. Aristotle says that the bear is greedy as well as silly and foolhardy. (Wemyss, Key to the Symbolic Language of Scripture.) The name in Hebrew is taken from his grumbling or growling. Compare Isaiah 19:11 :

"We roar all like bears."

Compare Horace, Epod. 16, 51:

"Nec vespertinus circumgemit ursus ovile."

Virgil mentions their ferocity:

"Atque in praesepibus ursi Saevire."

- AEn. vii. 17.

The bear is noted as especially fierce when hungry, or when robbed of its whelps. Jerome (on Hosea 13:8) remarks, "It is said by those who have studied the nature of wild beasts, that none among them is more ferocious than the bear when deprived of its young, or when hungry." Compare 2 Samuel 17:8; Proverbs 17:12; Hosea 13:8. The characteristics of the kingdom, therefore, that would be denoted by the bear would be ferocity, roughness, fierceness in war, especially when provoked; a spirit less manly and noble than that denoted by the lion; severe in its treatment of enemies, with a mixture of fierce and savage cunning.

(b) Its rising up on one of its sides: "and it raised up itself on one side." The Chaldee word used here (שׁטר sheṭar) occurs nowhere else. It means side (Gesenius), and would be applied here to the side of an animal, as if he lifted up one side before the other when he rose. The Latin Vulgate renders it, in parte stetit. The Greek (Walton), έις μέρος ἕν ἐστάθη eis meros hen estathē - "it stood on one part;" or, as Thompson renders it, "he stood half erect." The Codex Chisianus, ἐπὶ τοῦ ἑνὸς πλευροῦ ἐστάθη epi tou henos pleurou estathē - "it stood upon one side." Maurer renders this, "on one of its forefeet it was recumbent, and stood on the other," and says that this is the figure exhibited on one of the stones found in Babylon, an engraving of which may be seen in Munter, Religion d. Babyl. p. 112. The animal referred to here, as found in Babylon, says Lengerke, "lies kneeling on the right forefoot, and is in the act of rising on the left foot." Bertholdt and Havernick understand this as meaning that the animal stood on the hindfeet, with the forepart raised, as the bear is said to do; but probably the true position is that referred to by Maurer and Lengerke, that the animal was in the act of raising itself up from a recumbent posture, and rested on one of its forefeet while the other was reached out, and the body on that side was partially raised. This position would naturally denote a kingdom that had been quiet and at rest, but that was now rousing itself deliberately for some purpose, as of conquest or war - as the bear that had been couching down would rise when hungry, or when going forth for prey.

(c) The ribs in its mouth: "and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it." Bertholdt understands this of fangs or tusks - or fangs crooked or bent like ribs, p. 451, But the proper meaning of the Chaldee עלע ‛ala‛ is the same as the Hebrew צלע tsēlâ‛ - "a rib." - Gesenius. The Latin Vulgate is, tres ordines - three rows; the Syriac and the Greek, three ribs. This would be sufficiently characteristic of a bear, and the attitude of the animal here seems to be that it had killed some other animal, and had, in devouring it, torn out three ribs from its side, and now held them in its mouth. It was slowly rising from a recumbent posture, with these ribs in its mouth, and about to receive a command to go forth and devour much flesh. The number three, in this place, Lengerke supposes to be a round number, without any special significancy; others suppose that it denotes the number of nations or kingdoms which the people here represented by the bear had overcome. Perhaps this latter would be the more obvious idea as suggested by the symbol, but it is not necessary, in order to a proper understanding of a symbol, to press such a point too closely. The natural idea which would be suggested by this part of the symbol would be that of a kingdom or people of a fierce and rough character having already subdued some, and then, after reposing, rising up with the trophies of its former conquests to go forth to new victories, or to overcome others. The symbol would be a very striking one to represent a conquering nation in such a posture.

(d) The command given to this beast: "and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh." That is, it was said to it; or some one having authority said it. A voice was heard commanding it to go forth and devour. This command is wholly in accordance with the nature of the bear. The bear is called by Aristotle σαρκοφαγῶν sarkofagōn, flesh-eater, and ξῶον πάμφαγον xōon pamphagon, a beast devouring everything (Hist. Nat. viii. 5), and no better description could be given of it. As a symbol, this would properly be applicable to a nation about receiving, as it were, a command from God to go forth to wider conquests than it had already made; to arouse itself from its repose and to achieve new triumphs.

The application of this symbol was not explained by the angel to Daniel; but if the former pertained to Babylon, there can be little difficulty in understanding to what this is to be applied. It is evidently to what succeeded the Babylonian - the Medo-Persian, the kingdom ruled successively by Cyrus, Cambyses, Smerdis, Darius, Xerxes, Artaxerxes, and Darius Nothus, until it was overthrown by Alexander the Great. The only inquiry now is as to the pertinency of the symbol here employed to represent this kingdom.

(a) The symbol of the bear. As already seen, the bear would denote any fierce, rough, overbearing, and arbitrary kingdom, and it is clear that while it might have applicability to any such kingdom, it would better represent that of Medo-Persia than the lion would, for while, in some respects, either symbol would be applicable to either nation, the Medo-Persian did not stand so decidedly at the head of nations as the Babylonian. As to its character, however, the bear was not an inappropriate symbol. Taking the whole nation together, it was fierce and rough, and unpolished, little disposed to friendliness with the nations, and dissatisfied while any around it had peace or prosperity. In the image seen in Dan. ii., this kingdom, denoted by the breast and arms of silver Daniel 7:32, is described in the explanation Daniel 7:39 as "inferior to thee;" that is, to Nebuchadnezzar. For a sufficiently full account of this kingdom - of the mad projects of Cambyses, and his savage rage against the Ethiopians - well represented by the ferocity of the bear; of the ill-starred expedition to Greece under Xerxes - an expedition in its fierceness and folly well represented by the bear, and of the degeneracy of the national character after Xerxes - well represented by the bear as compared with the lion, see the notes at Daniel 2:39. No one acquainted with the history of that nation can doubt the propriety and applicability of the emblem.


Wesley's Daniel 7:5 Bible Commentary

7:5 Another beast - The Mede's and Persians, a fierce, ravenous creature. On one side - The north side; for the Mede first arose and sent to Cyrus the Persian to come and assist him against the Assyrian. Three ribs - Several of the Babylonian subjects revolted, and all these made the three ribs.

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