Recently, I've been exploring Daniel. I've come to lean 99% in the direction that the prevailing thought that the beasts in Daniel 7 are the kingdoms from the dream in Daniel 2 is incorrect. Rather than Daniel 7 being a retelling of Daniel 2, Daniel 7 describes the political scene of the end times itself, and not everything leading up to it. One of the pieces of the puzzle that lead me to that is from Daniel 7:7.
I had previously just read "before" as if it were temporal indicating prior to. The Hebrew word is qodam (Strong's H6925).Daniel 7:7 (ESV) wrote:52 years agoAfter this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.
Note that it primarily means in front of or in the presence of as in "before a king." It secondarily is relating to the East. There is a temporal component to the definition, but it is not in the comparative sense (as in being in time prior to something else mentioned). Instead, it is used in the sense of "from of old" or "ancient" to simply indicate the extreme age of something and even then, most of these occurrences require a compound with another word or letter. However, this word is never used in the context of indicating that the subject came/happened in time prior to another identified object. There is another word for that which is terem (Strong's H2962). For instance:Brown-Driver-Briggs wrote:52 years agoקדם.
קֶדֶם n.[m.] front, east, aforetime —
b. East; elsewh. ’מִקּ = eastward:
(1) in the E.;
(2) on the E. (side);
(3) eastward, c. vb. of motion.
2. temp., ancient time, aforetime:
a. ’הַרְרֵי ק ancient mts.
b. ’בִּימֵי ק in ancient days.
c. ’מִקּ from of old.
d. ’ק alone, as adv. anciently, of old.
e. beginning, מִקַּדְמֵי־אֶרֶץ from the beginnings of the earth.
This is the word used to indicate an event/object prior to another.Genesis 19:4 wrote:52 years agoBut before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house.
The word qodam (Strong's H6925) is found 38 times in Daniel, and barring the instances that I will discuss, 35 of them are clearly meaning in the presence of or in front of, not prior to.
This indicates to me then that the English word "before" has introduced an ambiguity that isn't there in the Hebrew (Aramaic has same stance as Hebrew) and that has colored a mistake in understanding Daniel 7.
So rather than the 3 other beasts coming and falling sequentially before the 4th beast arrives, it looks as though all 4 beasts are contemporaries and exist at the same time in the end. This would also make more sense when we read this a little further:
The 3 other beasts not only had dominion at the time of the 4th beast, but had it taken away at the time of the 4th being destroyed (or at least after it) and actually live after it. This doesn't make sense if we equate the beasts with the statue in Daniel 2.Daniel 7:11-12 (ESV) wrote:52 years agoI looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire.
As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.
This also impacts how we view the little horn in relation to the 3 horns that are plucked out before it and the 3 that fall before it (maybe same 3). The same word is indicating in the presence of rather than prior to.
So this is a long winded way to say that after coming in to all of this information, I turned to the RNWT to see what was there and read:
Ouch. No wonder this possibility never occurred to me when I was a Witness (it's like this in the 1984 NWT too). It looks like they either took some English translation of the Bible and just tried to reword things to make a "new" translation, or they are stretching the "temporal" definition beyond what it can bear to fit their doctrine. If it's the latter, they wouldn't be the first. While most translators use "before" a few also include "prior to." However, the word and usage do not support that translation.Daniel 7:7 (RNWT) wrote:52 years agoAfter this I kept watching in the visions of the night, and I saw a fourth beast, fearsome and terrifying and unusually strong, and it had large iron teeth. It was devouring and crushing, and what was left it trampled down with its feet. It was different from all the other beasts that were prior to it, and it had ten horns.