Daniel 7 is the turning point of the book of Daniel. At this point it ceases to be a historical account and turns to prophecy
It is still in Aramaic, but it begins to transition into the rest of prophecy.
The rest of prophecy in this book and the Bible hinge on this chapter.
Chapters 1-6 are Daniel's qualifications, experience and circumstances.
Chapters 1-6 demonstrate God's sovereign control and intervention
Chapters 1-6 is written in the third person, but in 7:2 it switches to the first person
The purpose of prophecy is
Chapter 7 is first year of Belshazzar 553 BC
Chapter 8 is third year of Belshazzar 551 BC
Chapter 9 is first year of Darius 539 BC
Chapter 10, 11, 12 are third year of Cyrus. 536 BC
Interpreting Apocalyptic Material
Nabonidus began his reign in 556. Belshazzar began to reign in Nabonidus's third year or 553. Nebuchadnezzar had died nine years before. Daniel is about 70 years old.
Daniel recorded the "substance" of the dream which literally means "the head of the words" or "the chief of the matter"
"Sea" refers to the earth because:
The "sea" then is the turbulent, chaos of sinful, dark humanity on the earth.
The "sea" is the agitated world of the nations of earth. The "sea" is the nations.
The "four winds" then may refer to all the forces that are mixed together coming together under God's control to direct history
"Four great beasts" - the word for "beasts" means "animals"
In 7:17 the animals are kingdoms
They match Daniel 2, but are given more details here.
"different" - the four kingdoms would have different character.
Each animal is naturally meaner.
The kingdoms varied in a variety of ways including size, power, level of legislation power, ethics, and response to God.
Bear = Medo-Persia
Iron Beast =
Horns = kings or kingdoms (Rev. 13:1; 17:12; Psalm 132:17; Zech. 1:18)
In Daniel 7:24 the horns are called "kings"