The Ram And The Goat
After the dream of the four beasts, I didn’t have any more like it for about 2 years. But then one night in 551BC I dreamed that I was in the city of Susa standing by the Ulai canal in the region of Elam, which was part of Persia in my day. In my dream I saw this ram with 2 horns, one of which started growing later than the other but became bigger. The ram was very large and powerful and could not be defeated as he charged toward the west, north, and south.
Susa was 230 miles east of the City of Babylon and within 16 years would become the capital of the new Persian Empire. Since Persian Kings always wore a ram’s head crown in battle, I understood that the ram represented the Media-Persia coalition. From history you know that Persia teamed up with the Medes along their way to greatness but soon became the dominant partner. In the latter years of the 6th century BC this team defeated Egypt, Babylon and everyone else in the area to become the world power of their time, which lasted for over two hundred years until about 330 BC. By the way, the Medes are called Kurds today and they’re still trying to regain their ancestral homeland in the region where Turkey, Iran, and Iraq come together.
All of a sudden a one-horned goat appeared in my dream, coming from the west with such speed that his feet barely touched the ground. The goat charged the ram with incredible rage, smashing the ram’s horns to pieces and trampling it into the ground. No one could save the ram from the fury of the goat. Then at the height of its power the goat’s single horn was broken off, to be replaced by four other prominent horns. (Now’s a good time to explain that in prophetic visions, horns often symbolize power.)
Two hundred years after my death a coalition of tribes from Eastern Europe were gathered together under the leadership of a man named Phillip of Macedon. The Persians had oppressed his people, and he wanted it stopped. Together with his young son Alexander, he invented a new language so his tribal chieftains could communicate better, because he discovered that many of the quarrels that disrupted their unity and kept them weak arose from misunderstandings caused by language barriers. But alas even then they weren’t strong enough and the Persians trounced them, causing the death of Phillip.
Alexander swore revenge and worked his troops mercilessly to develop a new style of warfare that depended on speed and the element of surprise. At age 19 he began his lightning attacks on the Persian Empire and within 10 years had conquered the known world extending his influence all the way into India. In most of his conquests, he used the minimum force necessary to achieve victory, relying on his legendary status as the son of a god who could not be defeated by mere mortals. But against the Persians he went to the opposite extreme applying the maximum amount of force, mercilessly crushing them to avenge the death of his father.
Phillip of Macedon had taken the symbol of the one horned goat for his coat of arms and had it pressed into the coinage he used to pay his army. He named the body of water bordering his homeland the Aegean Sea, which is derived from the Greek word for goat. In my dream the speed with which it moved made it clear that the goat stood for the Greek Empire under Alexander.
At the height of his success Alexander died at age 29 leaving the Empire to his four generals as we discussed last time. But following his notion that most problems between people are created by language barriers, he had enforced the use of his new language in every nation he conquered. Within the span of a generation this language became the common means of communication for the Greek Empire and indeed the known world. Three hundred years later the Gospel Story was delivered to Earth from heaven, and for the first time since the destruction of the Tower of Babel and the confusion of languages, there existed on Earth a common language in which the Gospel Story could be told and written for all to hear and understand. It was Greek, the language of Alexander. Don’t tell me that God doesn’t intervene in the affairs of man to accomplish His Purpose!
There exists in the history of my people an incident involving Alexander’s arrival outside the gates of Jerusalem. In a dream, Alexander had seen himself coming into the presence of God. As he drew near the city, the High Priest emerged from the city’s gates in all his finery accompanied by the entire priesthood with trumpets blaring, pennants waving and voices singing. This so reminded Alexander of his dream that he spared the city and bowed before the High Priest, who according to tradition showed him the story of the ram and the goat from my book. Alexander immediately recognized himself as the main character of the vision, recorded by me 200 years before his birth, and from that point on maintained a special relationship with the Jewish people.
And so the prominent horn between the eyes of the goat represented Alexander, and the four horns that replaced it stand for the four generals who assumed control of the Empire upon his death. Cassander went back home to rule Macedonia and Greece, Lysimachus took Iran, Iraq and parts east, Seleucus got the area we know as the Middle East today, including Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and parts of Turkey, and Ptolemy was made ruler over Israel, Egypt and the North Africans.
As often happens when people get things they haven’t earned and don’t deserve, the descendants of these four generals began squabbling over the territory they had inherited and made a general mess of things in the Middle East for over 200 years until the Romans came along and took it all away from them. But that’s the topic of another vision, and we’ll get to it in due time. First I’ll need to tell you about two of the most important specific pieces of information from that span of time. The first concerns the origination of the Festival known today as Hanukkah, and the second is no less than a “to-the-day” prediction of the arrival of the Messiah in Jerusalem.