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Sefer Daniel: Part 12 - Perek 7: Huge Beasts Rise From The Sea
"In the first year of Belshatzar, King of Bavel, Daniel saw a dream and visions in his mind while on his bed; he then wrote the main points of the dream."
This perek begins the second part of sefer Daniel. The first part related the events of Daniel's life, and the second part consists of Daniel's nevuahs. This first possuk was written by the Anshei Kenesses Gedolah, who wrote Sefer Daniel, but the rest of the perek is Daniel's words and are related in first-person.
"In my vision at night, I saw the four winds of Heaven grapple with the immense sea. And four huge beasts emerged from the sea, each one different than the other. The first was like a lion with the wings of an eagle. I was watching while its wings were plucked, and it was taken from the earth, and it stood on its feet like a man, and it was given the heart of a man."
Since Yirmiyahu had prophesized that the nations would serve Nevuchadnetzer and his son and grandson, Hashem showed Balshatzar, the grandson, that the malchus of Bavel will soon be destroyed. He also showed the kingdoms which will rule after it until the end of time.
The four kingdoms which ruled after Bavel are described as the four winds of the world. Each of the four kingdoms was situated at a different point of the earth. Daniel saw the winds grapple with the sea, since a storm of winds is more recognizable in the sea. The four beasts represented the four kingdoms as well, which are aroused by their corresponding spiritual forces, represented by the four winds. The beasts were huge because they represented the four most powerful kingdom; other kingdoms will exist, but will be smaller and less dominant.
The first beast which emerged from the sea was in the form of a lion. The lion represented the malchus of Bavel because of its great power and dominion. The wings of the eagle represented Bavel's swift flight to conquer the world. Daniel observed its wings being plucked because at the time of Balshatzar, malchus Bavel was already weakened. It no longer conquered lands, or even fought with Madai and Paras who battled at its gates. The human heart also represented Bavel's current weakness; Bavel was soon to lose all its strength and cease to exist among the beasts.
"And another beast which was similar to a bear stood by the side; it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth, and they said to it, "Get up, and consume much flesh."
The bear represented Madai and Paras who conquered Bavel. They were represented by a bear, which is not as strong as a lion, because Paras and Madai was not as strong as Bavel, which ruled over Ashur, Paras and Madai, and all the twenty seven nations.
Rashi says that Madai ad Paras are compared to a bear because they ate and drank without end, like a bear.
The bear "stood by the side" because Paras and Madai did not rule simultaneously. Daryavah of Madai ruled first, and after he died, Paras took over the malchus.
"And three ribs were in its mouth between the teeth. And they said to it, "Get up, and consume much flesh."
The malchus of Madai and Paras included three parts, which were Bavel, Ashur and Paras and Madai, which are the three "ribs" of the world. The ribs are described as being between the bear's teeth since a bear, by nature, does not eat meat. Madai and Paras, were not a violent people by nature, and they did not eradicate the nations they conquered like Nevuchadnetzer did. However, when they conquered Bavel, they completely destroyed it, and killed all its inhabitants. This was contrary to their nature, and they did this only because it was decreed by Hashem. They were fulfilling Hashem's rule, and had to be told, "Get up, consume much flesh."
Rashi says that the three ribs represent the three Persian kings, Coresh, Achashveirosh, and Daryavash.
"I was watching and another one, like a leopard, with four wings of a bird on its back; the beast had four heads, and it was given power."
The leopard represents malchus Yavan. The leopard is a type of lion which is even more brazen than the lion; Alexander Mukdon was stronger and more brazen than all other leaders.
"With four wings of a bird on its back."
Alexander speedily conquered lands in all four corners of civilization.
"The beast had four heads."
This represented the fact that after the death of Alexander, the Greek kingdom was divided into four parts. However, "it was given power"; Alexander himself ruled over all four parts in his lifetime; his kingdom was divided in four only after his death.
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