The Vision of the Eagle
On the second night I had a dream: I saw rising from the sea an eagle that had twelve feathered wings and three heads. I saw it spread its wings over the whole earth, and all the winds of heaven blew upon it, and the clouds were gathered around it. I saw that out of its wings there grew opposing wings; but they became little, puny wings. But its heads were at rest; the middle head was larger than the other heads, but it too was at rest with them. Then I saw that the eagle flew with its wings, and it reigned over the earth and over those who inhabit it. And I saw how all things under heaven were subjected to it, and no one spoke against it—not a single creature that was on the earth. Then I saw the eagle rise upon its talons, and it uttered a cry to its wings, saying, ‘Do not all watch at the same time; let each sleep in its own place, and watch in its turn; but let the heads be reserved for the last.’
I looked again and saw that the voice did not come from its heads, but from the middle of its body. I counted its rival wings, and there were eight of them. As I watched, one wing on the right side rose up, and it reigned over all the earth. And after a time its reign came to an end, and it disappeared, so that even its place was no longer visible. Then the next wing rose up and reigned, and it continued to reign a long time. While it was reigning its end came also, so that it disappeared like the first. And a voice sounded, saying to it, ‘Listen to me, you who have ruled the earth all this time; I announce this to you before you disappear. After you no one shall rule as long as you have ruled, not even half as long.’
Then the third wing raised itself up, and held the rule as the earlier ones had done, and it also disappeared. And so it went with all the wings; they wielded power one after another and then were never seen again. I kept looking, and in due time the wings that followed also rose up on the right side, in order to rule. There were some of them that ruled, yet disappeared suddenly; and others of them rose up, but did not hold the rule.
And after this I looked and saw that the twelve wings and the two little wings had disappeared, and nothing remained on the eagle’s body except the three heads that were at rest and six little wings.
As I kept looking I saw that two little wings separated from the six and remained under the head that was on the right side; but four remained in their place. Then I saw that these little wings planned to set themselves up and hold the rule. As I kept looking, one was set up, but suddenly disappeared; a second also, and this disappeared more quickly than the first. While I continued to look the two that remained were planning between themselves to reign together; and while they were planning, one of the heads that were at rest (the one that was in the middle) suddenly awoke; it was greater than the other two heads. And I saw how it allied the two heads with itself, and how the head turned with those that were with it and devoured the two little wings that were planning to reign. Moreover, this head gained control of the whole earth, and with much oppression dominated its inhabitants; it had greater power over the world than all the wings that had gone before.
After this I looked again and saw the head in the middle suddenly disappear, just as the wings had done. But the two heads remained, which also in like manner ruled over the earth and its inhabitants. And while I looked, I saw the head on the right side devour the one on the left.
A Lion Roused from the Forest
Then I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Look in front of you and consider what you see.’ When I looked, I saw what seemed to be a lion roused from the forest, roaring; and I heard how it uttered a human voice to the eagle, and spoke, saying, ‘Listen and I will speak to you. The Most High says to you, "Are you not the one that remains of the four beasts that I had made to reign in my world, so that the end of my times might come through them? You, the fourth that has come, have conquered all the beasts that have gone before; and you have held sway over the world with great terror, and over all the earth with grievous oppression; and for so long you have lived on the earth with deceit. You have judged the earth, but not with truth, for you have oppressed the meek and injured the peaceable; you have hated those who tell the truth, and have loved liars; you have destroyed the homes of those who brought forth fruit, and have laid low the walls of those who did you no harm. Your insolence has come up before the Most High, and your pride to the Mighty One. The Most High has looked at his times; now they have ended, and his ages have reached completion. Therefore you, eagle, will surely disappear, you and your terrifying wings, your most evil little wings, your malicious heads, your most evil talons, and your whole worthless body, so that the whole earth, freed from your violence, may be refreshed and relieved, and may hope for the judgement and mercy of him who made it." ’
While the lion was saying these words to the eagle, I looked and saw that the remaining head had disappeared. The two wings that had gone over to it rose up and set themselves up to reign, and their reign was brief and full of tumult. When I looked again, they were already vanishing. The whole body of the eagle was burned, and the earth was exceedingly terrified.
Then I woke up in great perplexity of mind and great fear, and I said to my spirit, ‘You have brought this upon me, because you search out the ways of the Most High. I am still weary in mind and very weak in my spirit, and not even a little strength is left in me, because of the great fear with which I have been terrified tonight. Therefore I will now entreat the Most High that he may strengthen me to the end.’
The Interpretation of the Vision
Then I said, ‘O sovereign Lord, if I have found favour in your sight, and if I have been accounted righteous before you beyond many others, and if my prayer has indeed come up before your face, strengthen me and show me, your servant, the interpretation and meaning of this terrifying vision so that you may fully comfort my soul. For you have judged me worthy to be shown the end of the times and the last events of the times.’
He said to me, ‘This is the interpretation of this vision that you have seen: The eagle that you saw coming up from the sea is the fourth kingdom that appeared in a vision to your brother Daniel. But it was not explained to him as I now explain to you or have explained it. The days are coming when a kingdom shall rise on earth, and it shall be more terrifying than all the kingdoms that have been before it. And twelve kings shall reign in it, one after another. But the second that is to reign shall hold sway for a longer time than any other one of the twelve. This is the interpretation of the twelve wings that you saw.
‘As for your hearing a voice that spoke, coming not from the eagle’s heads but from the midst of its body, this is the interpretation: In the midst of the time of that kingdom great struggles shall arise, and it shall be in danger of falling; nevertheless, it shall not fall then, but shall regain its former power. As for your seeing eight little wings clinging to its wings, this is the interpretation: Eight kings shall arise in it, whose times shall be short and their years swift; two of them shall perish when the middle of its time draws near; and four shall be kept for the time when its end approaches, but two shall be kept until the end.
‘As for your seeing three heads at rest, this is the interpretation: In its last days the Most High will raise up three kings, and they shall renew many things in it, and shall rule the earth and its inhabitants more oppressively than all who were before them. Therefore they are called the heads of the eagle, because it is they who shall sum up his wickedness and perform his last actions. As for your seeing that the large head disappeared, one of the kings shall die in his bed, but in agonies. But as for the two who remained, the sword shall devour them. For the sword of one shall devour him who was with him; but he also shall fall by the sword in the last days.
‘As for your seeing two little wings passing over to the head which was on the right side, this is the interpretation: It is these whom the Most High has kept for the eagle’s end; this was the reign which was brief and full of tumult, as you have seen.
‘And as for the lion whom you saw rousing up out of the forest and roaring and speaking to the eagle and reproving him for his unrighteousness, and as for all his words that you have heard, this is the Messiah whom the Most High has kept until the end of days, who will arise from the offspring of David, and will come and speak with them. He will denounce them for their ungodliness and for their wickedness, and will display before them their contemptuous dealings. For first he will bring them alive before his judgement seat, and when he has reproved them, then he will destroy them. But in mercy he will set free the remnant of my people, those who have been saved throughout my borders, and he will make them joyful until the end comes, the day of judgement, of which I spoke to you at the beginning. This is the dream that you saw, and this is its interpretation. And you alone were worthy to learn this secret of the Most High. Therefore write all these things that you have seen in a book, put it in a hidden place; and you shall teach them to the wise among your people, whose hearts you know are able to comprehend and keep these secrets. But as for you, wait here for seven days more, so that you may be shown whatever it pleases the Most High to show you.’ Then he left me.