Daniel was a master of midrash.
The ten horned beast with seven heads is clearly Israel’s ten tribes. The seven heads the last seven kings of Judah after Hezekiah’s resoration of the Temple.
First Daniel recalled the three kings of Israel – Saul, David and Solomon as all attributes perfectly fit their description.
The Lion Symbol — King Saul
Saul was described by Daniel as a lion beast. Daniel 7:4 says, “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 it.”
Saul was a king who had riches. Saul was polished. Saul was lifted up, very tall and Saul was given a new heart. Saul is confirmed as the lion.
The Bear Symbol — King David
David was described as the bear beast. Daniel 7:5 says, “And behold another beast, a second, like a bear, and it raised up itself on one side (or “raised up one dominion” — see margin notes in KJV), and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it; and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh” (Dan. 7:5).
David was the king who had raised up a dominion, and David held three ribs in his mouth (Moabites, Syrians, Edomites). David devoured much flesh. These three witnesses confirm David as the bear.
The Leopard King Symbol — King Solomon
Solomon was described as the leopard beast. Dan. 7:6 says, the third beast was “like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl”. Wings, as already stated, indicate wealth. “The beast had also “four heads,” illustrating much wisdom, as, “the wise man’s eyes are in his head” – Eccles. 2:14.
Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and wisdom – “Solomon exceeded…for riches and for wisdom” – 1 Kings 10:23.
The Diverse Beast Symbol — Israel (Ten Tribes) and Judah (Last Seven Kings before Babylonian Captivity)
The Ten Horn Symbol: Tribes of Israel:
– Reuben, Simeon, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebuluon, Ephraim, Manasseh — Note: Asher, Zubuluon and Manasseh were plucked – moved permanently to Jerusalem
The Seven Heads Symbol: The Little Horn — Judah Kings after Hezekiah (Immanuel) up to Babylonian Captivity:
– Manasseh, Amon, Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehioachin, Zedekiah.
Daniel looked back to Jewish history as ensamples for admonition.