on Daniel 7 :2
The four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea - The idea of strife is taken here from the effects that must be produced, were the east, the west, the north, and the south winds to rise tempestuously, and meet on the surface of the sea. By the great sea, the Mediterranean is meant; and is so called to distinguish it from those lakes called seas by the Hebrews; such as the Sea of Galilee, Dead Sea, Sea of Tiberias, etc.; but even that may refer to Asia, the scene of all these contentions. This dream is the same in meaning, under different emblems, as that of Nebuchadnezzar's metallic image; but in Daniel's dream several circumstances are added. It is supposed that Daniel had this dream about forty-eight years after Nebuchadnezzar had the vision of the great image.
on Daniel 7 :2
Daniel spake and said - That is, he spake and said in the manner intimated in the previous verse. It was by a record made at the time, and thus he might be said to speak to his own generation and to all future times.
I saw in my vision by night - I beheld in the vision; that is, he saw represented to him the scene which he proceeds to describe. He seemed to see the sea in a tempest, and these monsters come up from it, and the strange succession of events which followed.
And behold, the four winds of the heaven - The winds that blow under the heaven, or that seem to come from the heaven - or the air. Compare Jeremiah 49:36. The number of the winds is here referred to as four as they are now, as blowing mainly from the four quarters of the earth. Nothing is more common now than to designate them in this manner - as the east, the south, the west, the north wind. So the Latins - Eurus, Auster, Zephyrus, Boreas.
Strove - מגיחן megı̂ychân. Burst, or rushed forth; seemed to conflict together. The winds burst, rushed from all quarters, and seemed to meet on the sea, throwing it into wild commotion. The Hebrew word (גיח gı̂yach) means to break or burst forth, as a fountain or stream of waters, Job 40:23; an infant breaking forth from the womb, Job 38:8; a warrior rushing forth to battle, Ezekiel 32:2. Hence, the Chaldean to break forth; to rush forth as the winds. The symbol here would naturally denote some wild commotion among the nations, as if the winds of heaven should rush together in confusion.
Upon the great sea - This expression would properly apply to any great sea or ocean, but it is probable that the one that would occur to Daniel would be the Mediterranean Sea, as that was best known to him and his contemporaries. A heaving ocean - or an ocean tossed with storms - would be a natural emblem to denote a nation, or nations, agitated with internal conflicts, or nations in the midst of revolutions. Among the sacred poets and the prophets, hosts of armies invading a land are compared to overflowing waters, and mighty changes among the nations to the heaving billows of the ocean in a storm. Compare Jeremiah 46:7-8; Jeremiah 47:2; Isaiah 8:7-8; Isaiah 17:12; Isaiah 59:19; Daniel 11:40; Revelation 13:1. The classic reader will be reminded in the description here of the words of Virgil, AEn. I. 82, following:
"Ac venti, velut agmine facto
Qua data porta ruunt, et terras turbine perflant.
Incubuere mari, totumque a sedibus imis
Una Eurusque, Notusque ruunt, creberquc procellis.
Africus, et vastos volvunt ad littora fluctus."
Compare also Ovid, Trist. I. 2, 25, following. It was from this agitated sea that the beasts that Daniel saw, representing successive kingdoms, seemed to rise; and the fair interpretation of this part of the symbol is, that there was, or would be, as it appeared in vision to Daniel, commotions among the nations resembling the sea driven by storms, and that from these commotions there would arise successive kingdoms having the characteristics specified by the appearance of the four beasts. We naturally look, in the fulfillment of this, to some state of things in which the nations were agitated and convulsed; in which they struggled against each other, as the winds strove upon the sea; a state of things which preceded the rise of these four successive kingdoms. Without now pretending to determine whether that was the time denoted by this, it is certain that all that is here said would find a counterpart in the period which immediately preceded the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, or the kingdom which he founded and adorned. His rapid and extensive conquests; the agitation of the nations in self-defense, and their wars against one another, would be well denoted by the agitation of the ocean as seen in vision by Daniel. It is true that there have been many other periods of the world to which the image would be applicable, but no one can doubt that it was applicable to this period, and that would be all that would be necessary if the design was to represent a series of kingdoms commencing with that of Nebuchadnezzar.
on Daniel 7 :2
7:2 The four winds - Probably by the four winds of the great sea is signified commotions of contrary nations, striving together by wars, and producing these four beasts successively.