Saturday, January 13, 2024

The First Wild Animal (13.1–4)


And I saw a wild animal rising from the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, and on its horns were ten diadems, and on its heads were defamatory names. And the wild animal I saw was like a leopard, and its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And the dragon gave it his power and his throne and extensive authority.

And one of its heads was slaughtered to death, but its fatal wound was healed, and the whole earth was amazed by the wild animal. And they worshiped the dragon who had given authority to the wild animal, and they worshiped the wild animal, saying, ‘Who is like the wild animal, and who can wage war with it?’


The wild animal, previously mentioned in chapter 11, is explored in more detail. Its physical attributes are combined from the four animals of Daniel 7. In the Book of Daniel, four wild animals represented a series of four gentile kingdoms wielding power over the Israelite people. The expectation of Daniel was that the fourth kingdom would be worse than all the previous ones, and that the Israelites would be rewarded with their own eternal kingdom when God intervened to destroy the fourth kingdom. In that book, the fourth kingdom corresponded to Greek hegemony over Israel. When Greek power fell but the book remained unfulfilled, the fourth kingdom was reinterpreted as the Roman Empire. This book interprets the Roman kingdom as empowered by the satan himself, so the beast somewhat resembles the dragon from chapter 12. The death of one of the beast’s seven heads alludes to the death to Nero Caesar, which—according to contemporary historians—nearly resulted in the collapse of the empire.


Sibylline Oracles

3.68–74 But he will, indeed, also lead men astray, and he will lead astray many faithful, chosen Hebrews, and also other lawless men who have not yet listened to the word of God. But whenever the threats of the great God draws nigh and a burning power comes through the sea to land it will also burn Beliar and all overbearing men, as many as put faith in him.

3.175–176 But then will be the beginning of another kingdom, white and many-headed from the western sea.

12.85–86, 93 But he will be destructive to the Italians, even when he has disappeared. Making himself equal to God, he will convince a willing people. […] Later he will flee, abandoning the royal dominion.


7.1–7 In the first year of King Belshazzar of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head as he lay in bed. Then he wrote down the dream: I, Daniel, saw in my vision by night the four winds of heaven stirring up the great sea, and four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another. The first was like a lion and had eagles’ wings. Then, as I watched, its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a human being; and a human mind was given to it. Another beast appeared, a second one, that looked like a bear. It was raised up on one side, had three tusks in its mouth among its teeth and was told, ‘Arise, devour many bodies!’ After this, as I watched, another appeared, like a leopard. The beast had four wings of a bird on its back and four heads; and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the visions by night a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth and was devouring, breaking in pieces, and stamping what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that preceded it, and it had ten horns.

Ascension of Isaiah

4.2, 4, 7 Beliar will descend, the great angel, the king of this world, which he has ruled ever since it existed. He will descend from his firmament in the form of a man, a king of iniquity, a murderer of his mother […] This angel, Beliar, will come in the form of that king, and with him will come all the powers of this world, and they will obey him in every wish. […] And all men in the world will believe him.


16.4 And then the one who leads the whole world astray will appear, as though he were the son of God […] And the world will be delivered into his hands.

2 Thessalonians

2.3–4 that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God.


Judean War 4.11.5 So upon this confirmation of Vespasian’s entire government, which was now settled, and upon the unexpected deliverance of the public affairs of the Romans from ruin, Vespasian turned his thoughts to what remained unsubdued in Judea.

4 Ezra

11.1–11 On the second night I had a dream: I saw rising from the sea an eagle that had twelve feathered wings and three heads. I saw it spread its wings over the whole earth, and all the winds of heaven blew upon it, and the clouds were gathered around it. I saw that out of its wings there grew opposing wings; but they became little, puny wings. But its heads were at rest; the middle head was larger than the other heads, but it too was at rest with them. Then I saw that the eagle flew with its wings, and it reigned over the earth and over those who inhabit it. And I saw how all things under heaven were subjected to it, and no one spoke against it—not a single creature that was on the earth. Then I saw the eagle rise upon its talons, and it uttered a cry to its wings, saying, ‘Do not all watch at the same time; let each sleep in its own place, and watch in its turn; but let the heads be reserved for the last.’ I looked again and saw that the voice did not come from its heads, but from the middle of its body. I counted its rival wings, and there were eight of them.

12.11, 14, 22–23 ‘The eagle that you saw coming up from the sea is the fourth kingdom that appeared in a vision to your brother Daniel. […] And twelve kings shall reign in it, one after another. But the second that is to reign shall hold sway for a longer time than any of the other twelve. […] As for your seeing three heads, this is the interpretation: In its last days the Most High will raise up three kings’

2 Baruch

39.5 ‘After that a fourth kingdom arises whose power is harsher and more evil than those which were before it.’


Nero 49.3 And now the horsemen were at hand who had orders to take him off alive. When he heard them, he quavered: ‘Hark, now strikes on my ear the trampling of swift-footed coursers!’ and drove a dagger into his throat

Vespasian 1.1 The empire, which for a long time had been unsettled and, as it were, drifting, through the usurpation and violent death of three emperors, was at last taken in hand and given stability by the Flavian family.

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