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Explanation of the Leopard of Daniel 7

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Explanation of the Leopard of Daniel 7

Interpretation Principles Used - Characteristics on leopard, move from body to heads to go forward in time (Miller Principle), concurrency of heads, similarity of heads to the body, differences of heads and body.  For more information see Rules of Interpretation of Daniel and Revelation




Daniel 7:6 -  After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.

Click on right arrow to   go to next beast of Daniel 7.
Note: Time moves forward from left to right






Time of the body - The body represents the time of the empire of Alexander the Great until his death in Babylon in 323 BC.  So the body represents time before the empires represented by the heads.  The time of the body and heads demonstrates the Miller Principle.
Time of the heads - This time occurred after the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and is the time of the four kingdoms Alexander's empire was split into.  Note the four heads represent time after the time of the body.  The vertical line to the left represents the point in time where Alexander the Great died, which represents the change from body to heads. 
















This beast represents Greece (Macedonia).  How does the author know this beast represents Greece (or Macedonia)?  This beast is the third in a series that represented kingdoms that began with Babylon.  It is known that Babylon  (the lion in the vision) was conquered by the Medes and Persians (the bear in the vision), who in turn were conquered by Alexander the Great's army (the 4 headed leopard in the vision).  The sequence of kingdoms tells the story.  This changeover from one dominant kingdom to another exemplifies the Succession Principle.

Four wings suggest very rapid conquest  (Characteristics Principle).  Note they occur on the back of the leopard, indicating they apply to the time represented by the body. Alexander the Great did in fact conquer very rapidly, just as the image above would suggest.

The four heads clearly represent the time of the four divisions of the empire originally created by Alexander the Great.  Note the four heads all occur together, indicating the kingdoms also occur together and are to be seen as concurrent with one another (Concurrency Principle).  The heads and the body are all leopard, so likewise the original kingdom was Grecian and the split up empire was Grecian.  One could say that the heads were of a like nature to the body because the heads represented political kingdoms or powers just like the body was (Similarity Principle).  Note the heads represented smaller, weaker kingdoms (Difference Principle).

The split up of the kingdom into 4 parts after the death of Alexander the Great demonstrates the Miller Principle, which says that the body of a beast with multiple heads is used to represent the time period of the initial kingdom (here the initial kingdom was created by Alexander the Great), and the multiple heads are used to represent the time period of the kingdoms that follow afterwards, which are a result of the breakup (or division of power) of the initial kingdom.  This demonstrates the Miller Principle.

Daniel 8 shows a goat that symbolizes the same thing as the leopard.  It says the following about it:

Dan 8:21  And the rough goat is the king of Greece: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king

Dan 8:22  Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.

Why Is a Leopard Used to Represent Greece?

Why a leopard to represent Greece?  After all, God could have used a giant boa constrictor, or maybe a hyena.  Wouldn't a hyena look cool for a beast here in the vision or dream, especially with 4 heads? A hyena has some of the most powerful jaws in the terrestrial animal kingdom so it surely would be seen as a strong, fierce, cunning predator.  But instead, a leopard was used.  As a predator a leopard has to be very smart to survive.  It is fast, stealthy, and sneaks up on its prey and then suddenly pounces on it.  Sometimes it will hide in a tree and wait for unsuspecting prey to come by underneath, and it will drop down upon it and kill it.  It uses it's claws to hold the prey under control and subdue it and then grasps the throat of its victim with its sharp teeth to suffocate it, thereby attacking the most vulnerable exposed part of the body of it's prey.  Death usually comes relatively rapidly this way.  Sometimes it will kill by biting the back of the neck, with the intent of breaking the neck.  After the prey is dead, it will tear it to shreds and consume it.  This is comparable to Alexander the Great, who was a very smart general and possessed all of these characteristics (which shows that the characteristics of the beasts do tell us something about the behavior of a power, or what a power would do, which is embodied in the Characteristics Principle).

If you would like to read of the first great battle that Alexander the Great engaged in, including battle strategy, click here.  This will give you some sense of his abilities.  Click here for reasons why Alexander used a feint attack against the Persians to start the battle.


So, as you can see, the first king (Alexander the Great) is broken off (he dies) and four come up after him.  In history, when Alexander the Great died, his half brother took the throne.  Consequently, there was a second king in this empire.  But he was mentally unstable and considered unfit to rule, so military generals fought each other for the kingdom,  but finally divided it and parted ways.  There were seven top military commanders of Alexander the Great who initially fought among themselves for the empire, but in the end, only four got anything.  The seven have often been called the Diodachi. 

The four generals and the territories they took over from Alexander the Great after his death were: Cassander, who took Greece and Macedonia, Lysimachus, who took Asia-minor (Thrace, Bithynia, and Pergamum); Ptolemy, who took Egypt, Libya, and Palestine; and Seleucus, who took over Asia Minor, Syria, and Persia which included Babylon.  This 4 way split in the kingdom was complete by 300 BC.  Note that God shows only 4 heads on the leopard, yet it is clear that there were five kingdoms initially. Why show only four? The answer to this is that God goes by decrees for dating changes in the beasts from body to heads to horns. Since there was a decree in 300 BC between the four rulers but no decree before that, only four heads are noted.

There were 3 large divisions and a smaller one, but this situation didn't last long.  In 281 BC, Seleucus attacked the kingdom ruled by Lysimachus and defeated it.  Thereafter, there were 3 kingdoms, with the Seleucids in the north and the Ptolomies in the south being the main players in the region of Palestine.  Cassander's kingdom was still around (Cassander himself died in 297 BC) but was in Greece and Macedonia. Greece itself never again ruled the land of Israel after the breakup of the empire into the four parts.  The battles between the generals was called the Diodach Wars. Click here if you would like to read about the Diodach WarsHere is another short but very readable history of the Diodach Wars.

Click here to see the chronology of:

The Ptolomy (Hellenistic) empire  (scroll down to near the bottom just under GRECO-ROMAN PERIOD)

Click on each name below to see biographical information about it:

Note that this map may take a little time to load as it is about 339K in size.

So, as Daniel 8:21-22 said, the four came up (like the horns on the goat), but "not in his power".  This could mean Alexander the Great didn't determine the succession to the throne.  His generals did that all on their own.  Another possible meaning of this phrase is that these kingdoms would be weaker than the original kingdom.

The graph below shows the 4 kingdoms and their dates of fall.  Note that 4 of them existed together for only about 20 years, beginning in 300 BC.



One thing that is of note is that historians in relatively recent times (last 200 years), considered Macedonia as part of Greece.  They counted 4 provinces of Greece which were Macedonia, Epirus, Achaia, and Peloponnesus.  However, Macedonia has a history all its own, so more recent historians consider Macedonia to have been a separate nation.  Therefore, Macedonia conquered Greece, then went on to conquer much of the rest of the world to the south and east of Greece and Macedonia.  This did spread Greek culture throughout the Middle East, so it probably is not improper to consider this empire to be Greek in its effects on much of the world it conquered.  In Daniel 8, the empire is referred to as Greek because it is said that the horn on the goat represented the king of Greece, which Alexander the Great certainly was.  Of course, he became king of a lot of other countries before he was done.

There is another aspect to this question.  Alexander was taught by Aristotle, which gave him a Greek education.  One result of that was that Alexander the Great adopted a Greek way of life.  So, it is natural that Alexander would have spread Greek culture throughout the regions that he conquered.  Therefore, it is reasonable to refer to this kingdom as Greek because of its origins from both Macedonia and Greece, but also because of its effects upon other kingdoms in bringing in a Greek influence.

In Daniel 8 a goat with first one and then four horns is used to represent the Greek empires.  Click here to go to the explanation of the goat.