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Sefer Daniel: Part 16 - Perek 8: The "Kosher" Kingdoms
"In the third year of the reign of King Belshatzar, a vision appeared to me, I, Daniel, after what had appeared to me at the beginning.
"A vision appeared to me" - "The Malbim says that according to the Abarbanel, this vision was a completion of the first vision which Daniel had seen. After the first vision, Daniel understood which kingdoms the first and fourth beasts represented (Bavel and Rome) and what the lot of Bnei Yisrael would be under these kingdoms, and he foresaw the eventual destruction of these two kingdoms. However, he still was not aware of the identity of the middle two kingdoms, and how Bnei Yisrael would fare under their rule. Now he saw a more detailed vision of the middle two beasts, which were now represented as kosher animals, rather than wild beasts. This was because the purpose of this vision was to convey how Bnei Yisrael was treated under the rule of these two kingdoms, Paras and Madai, and Yavan. Both of these kingdoms (except for the rule of Antiochus who persecuted Bnei Yisrael) treated Bnei Yisrael well, and therefore were now portrayed as kosher animals.
"I, Daniel" - Nevuchadnetzer had already seen the four kingdoms in a dream, and Yechezkal saw them in the maaseh hamercava, but the details of this vision were only shown to Daniel.
"I raised my eyes and looked, and behold one ram was standing before the river, and it has horns, and the horns are high, and one is higher than the other, and the higher one is coming up last. I saw the ram goring to the north, to the south, and all the beasts could not stand before it, and nobody could save it from it, and it did as it wanted, and it grew."
The ram represented the malchus of Madai and Paras; its two horns represented its dual kingdom. One was higher than the other because Coresh was stronger and a better military strategist than Daryavesh. The "higher one" arose last because Daryavesh of Madai ruled first for one year only until his death, and then Coresh took over, and from that point on the malchus remained in the hands of Paras.
The ram goring in different directions symbolized Daryavesh, Coresh and the kings who ruled after him who conquered land in all three directions. (The eastern direction was not mentioned since Paras was situated in the east.
"I was studying it, and behold a he-goat came from the west over the whole earth, and it was not touching the earth. And the he-goat had a prominent horn between its eyes."
"A he-goat" - The he-goat represented Alexander the Great and malchus Yavan, and Yavan is west of Paras.
"And it was not touching the earth"- Alexander conquered countries at an incredible rate, without encountering any defeat.
"It had a prominent horn"- The horn between the eyes represented Alexander's brilliance and knowledge since the eyes represent insight and wisdom.
"It came until the ram with horns which I saw standing before the river, and it ran to him with the ferocity of its strength. And I saw it reach the ram, and it struggled bitterly with it, and it hit the ram and broke its two horns. The ram did not have the strength to stand before it. It threw it to the ground and it trampled it, and there was no one to save the ram from it."
"It came until the ram with horns" - Alexander approached the capital city. Daryavesh did not go out to greet him, and instead sent his military officer against him, commanding that Alexander should be brought before him shackled in chains.
"It ran to him" - Alexander overpowered the military officer.
"I saw it reach the ram, and it struggled bitterly with it" - Alexander battled with Daryavesh himself face to face. Daryavesh tried to make peace, offering him riches, pelagshim, and his daughter's hand in marriage, but Alexander made himself "bitter" and refused to make peace.
"It hit the ram, and trampled it" -Alexander humbled Paras, and Daryavesh met his death as a consequence of the battle.
"There was no one to save the ram from it." -Daryavesh's allies were not able to save him.
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