Due to our explanation of the liberal view identifying the second beast in Daniel 7:5, we must return to answer the rest of the verse. You will recall this beast resembled a bear and was said to be raised up on one side. In its mouth, between its teeth, were three ribs and it was told to devour much meat.

There have been several interpretations of why Daniel saw this beast raised up on one side. Some have said that this may refer to the bear changing from a prone position to one of a possible attack. Another idea is that it represents the uneven balance of power in the Medo-Persian empire. Yet others have suggested it means the bear was standing on its two hind legs.

None of these views can be accepted as the true and accurate meaning. Nor it is necessary for us to know. But one thing is certain. This beast has already been on the attack. In its mouth were three ribs. Daniel is likely describing metaphorically what we know as the Syrian brown bear which is native to the Middle East. It is omnivorous which refers to an animal or person that feeds on both plant and animal food origins.  Its general food habits are fruit, berries, seeds, plants, grasses, nuts, grubs, and small mammals.  But it will also enter agricultural land in former habitats and consume cultivated grains and domesticated livestock. Such habitat loss can cause incidences and conflicts with humans also. Remember, the verse we are discussing is symbolic. This symbolic description is telling us that something is being devoured. And it isn’t just one thing, but three.

We could easily lose what is being described here if we allow our minds to focus on the animal [the bear]. The bear is also a symbol. The bear is generally both feared and admired at the same time for its strength and power. It has also featured in both government and military symbols. As we have stated, Daniel reveals to us later in chapter seven that the four beasts represent four kingdoms.

Again, we must not stretch Scripture to mean or say something it does not. Several suggestions have been given as to what the three ribs indicate. One suggestion is that they represent three nations that have been devoured or conquered by the bear or, in this case, the second kingdom. One thought is that the three ribs represent Lydia that was conquered by the Medo-Persians in 546 BC, Babylon which we know was defeated in 539 BC, and Egypt that was devoured in 525 BC. Others have suggested that the ribs represent the three main components of the Medo-Persian empire namely Media, Persia, and Babylon. The truth is, we cannot be certain. While these suggestions may seem accurate, they cannot be accepted as correct. Even the comment as to the beast being told to devour much meat is contentious with some saying it refers to the meat on the ribs. To others, it refers to the Medo-Persians lust for further domination of other nations. By the very fact that ribs are seen in between the teeth of the bear seems to indicate the meat has already been consumed therefore a forceful argument perhaps can be made that it is representative of the lustful and ferocious appetite of the Medo-Persians wanting to devour even more territory. But again, we are not specifically given the answer.

The “they” who told the beast to devour much meat is also not identified. Nor is it important for us to know. It is the symbol and the message of what we are being told that we should focus on. Without a doubt, the second beast that resembled a bear was on the hunt. It had already eaten what appears to be three symbols and was told to eat more.

Now Daniel turns to the third beast.