Daniel 7:4 Index
"The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it."
Research Material

"The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings:"

  • Babylon is pictured as a lion in Jeremiah 4:7. The lion was used historically to represent Babylon. When the British Museum excavated the ruins of Babylon, they found statues of lions with eagle's wings. The wings represent the speed with which it conquered... "Plucked off" shows that its conquering ceased. Babylon overthrew Assyria in 605 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar ruled forty of the seventy years the kingdom existed. Because of Nebuchadnezzar's conversion the lion is pictured as having a man's heart. The lion corresponds to the head of gold in Daniel 2:38. (KC 77-78)
  • An appropriate symbol for Babylon. The winged lion is found on Babylonian objects of art. The combination of lion and eagle was common motif -- more often a lion with eagle's wings, sometimes with claws or a beak; a similar composite was the eagle with a lion's head. The winged lion is one of the forms of the beast often pictured in combat with Marduk, the patron god of the city of Babylon.... Other prophets referred to King Nebuchadnezzar by similar figures (Jeremiah 4:7; 50:17, 44; Lamentations 4:19; Ezekiel 17:3, 12; Habakuk 1:8). The lion as the king of beasts and the eagle as the king of birds fittingly represented the empire of Babylon at the height of its glory. A lion is noted for its strength, whereas the eagle is famous for the power and the range of its flight. Nebuchadnezzar's power was felt not only in Babylon but from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf, and from Asia Minor to Egypt. Thus it is fitting, in order to represent the spread of Babylon's power, that the lion should be provided with eagle's wings. (4BC 820)
  • Daniel's first beast, a lion with eagle's wings, was peculiarly appropriate for representing Babylon. Not only were lions symbols of both Marduk and Ishtar, but also composite lion-eagle creatures were common, in representations of Bel and the dragon, as alternatives for the serpent monster, and as symbols, therefore, of their conqueror.... Thus it can be seen that Daniel's lion with eagle's wings represented to the contemporary mind the supreme god of Babylon, and was a familiar decorative figure in Nebuchadnezzar's day. (Froom 49)
  • In the vision of Daniel 7, the first beast seen by the prophet was a lion. (Jeremiah 4:7; 50:17, 43, 44). The lion as first seen in the vision before us had eagle's wings. The symbolic use of wings is impressively described in Habakkuk 1:6-8, where it is said that the Chaldeans should "fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat." From these symbols we may easily deduce that Babylon was a kingdom of great strength, and that under Nebuchadnezzar its conquests were extended with great rapidity. But there came a time when the wings were plucked. It no longer rushed upon its prey like an eagle. The boldness and spirit of the lion were gone. A man's heat -- weak, timorous, and faint -- took the place of a lion's strength. Such was the case with the nation during the closing years of its history, when it had become enfeebled and effeminate through wealth and luxury. (US 107)
  • Before Babylon was known as an independent kingdom, while it was still a subject province of Assyria, Habakkuk, a prophet of Israel, had been given a view of its work which shows the force of the symbol of a lion with eagles' wings. Speaking to Israel, he tells them of a work so wonderful that they will not believe it when told. "Lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breath of the land, to possess the dwelling places that are not theirs. They are terrible and dreadful.... They shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat. They shall come all for violence;.... they shall gather the captivity as the sand. And they shall scoff at the kings, and the princes shall be a scorn unto them; they shall deride every stronghold." (Habakkuk 1:6-10). (SNH 103-104)

"...the wings thereof were plucked..."

  • The lion was no longer able to fly like an eagle upon its prey. This doubtless refers to the time when less powerful rulers followed Nebuchadnezzar in the kingdom of Babylon, rulers under whose administration Babylon lost glory and power.... Some have suggested a possible reference also to Nebuchadnezzar's later life, when for seven years he was deprived not only of his power but also of his reason (Daniel 4:31-33). (4BC 820)
  • (Habakkuk 1:6-10) is Babylon as Habakkuk saw it. While Daniel watched the same kingdom in his vision, the noble lion with its wings, denoting power and rapidity of conquest, had been lifted up form the earth into an unnatural position, and made to stand upon its feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it. Man's heart without Christ is simply sin. The wings were shorn, and then Babylon was represented as it existed at the time of the vision, bereft of its strength, abandoned by God, with Belshazzar standing at the head of government. (SNH 104)
  • The prophet Habakkuk gives the reason for this sudden weakening of the mighty power of Babylon. He says, "Then shall his mind change, and he shall pass over, and offend, imputing his power unto his god." (Habakkuk 1:11).... Babylon committed the unpardonable sin by imputing the power and Spirit of God to the gods of the heathen. In this act the lion was shorn of its strength, the wings were plucked, and a man's heart was given to it. A few years after this vision, in the year 538 B.C., Daniel was a witness to the complete overthrow of the kingdom. (SNH104-105)

"...was lifted up from the earth..."

  • A lion standing erect like a man is indicative of the loss of lion like qualities. (4BC 820)

"...a man's heart was given to it."

  • King Richard's nickname, the "Lion-Hearted," ascribed to him unusual courage and boldness. Conversely, a "man-hearted" lion would indicate cowardice and timidity. In its declining years Babylon became weak and enfeebled through wealth and luxury, and fell a prey to the Medo-Persian kingdom.... Some see in the expression "man's heart" the disappearance of the animal characteristic of greed and ferocity and the humanizing of the king of Babylon. Such could apply to Nebuchadnezzar after his humiliating experience, but would not be a fitting representation of the kingdom in its closing years. (4BC 820-821)