If a rib symbolizes a woman, and a woman can also be a city, wouldn't it stand to reason that the three ribs symbolize 3 cities? Looking to Rev 17:18 "And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth." There's a clear connection between the beasts of Daniel and the beasts of Revelation.

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    Welcome to the Biblical Hermeneutics forum, @Torquewrench88. Please note that this forum is focused on analyzing specific scriptures, finding allusions and clues, relying on context, linguistic analysis, historical sources or references, and logic. The question you're asking is difficult and has been the subject of a lot of speculation. The short answer is yes, it's possible, but there's little to support that particular possibility in scripture. It's more likely that the three ribs represent a portion of a beast-empire previous to the four that are described by Daniel.
    – Dieter
    Commented Apr 30 at 15:01
  • Thank you for the greeting. I'm very happy to have found this place and look forward to a lasting relationship here. I'm your response, the last line, wouldn't cities be a portion of an empire? Would that not lend credence to the ribs representing cities? Especially when looking at the red beast in Rev 17 and the woman riding the beast whom we are told is a city. Looking at King David, didn't he move the capital of Israel to 3 different cities, the third being the city of Jerusalem who is presumably the city represented by the harlot on the scarlet beast Commented Apr 30 at 17:22
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    @Torquewrench, You're most welcome. Yes, they could be three cities . . . or three provinces . . . or symbolizing the III Reich that was killed and eaten by the Russian bear in WW2. But to transform a could into a likely requires additional evidence from history or prophecy. Are there any other scriptures that three cities are symbolized? Since the Great Harlot is identified with a city, are there two other women mentioned in Revelation--or anywhere else in scripture--associated with cities? Why would Daniel's bear be devouring all three at once? The beast the harlot rides isn't a bear.
    – Dieter
    Commented Apr 30 at 18:44
  • No, she isn't riding a bear. However, she IS the holder of the temple of God and the capital city of the kingdom of God. Saul ruled the kingdom from Gibeah where the ark was. David moved the ark to Hebron and then to Jerusalem (the harlot on the red beast). Hence the 3 ribs in the bear's teeth. David moved the holy city (the ark) from Gibeah to Hebron to Jerusalem (3 cities of great importance). In essence, the cities represent the church of God, the bride of Christ, who played the harlot. She sits on 7 hills, which are the 7 churches whose angels were warned in the beginning of revelation. Commented Apr 30 at 19:31
  • I ran out of characters lol. Am I accurate? Commented Apr 30 at 19:33

4 Answers 4


There certainly is a clear connection between the beasts of Daniel and the beasts of Revelation. But if the clear distinctions are not also noted, a muddle might result. Also, the matter of the beasts needs to be clarified before any clarity can come as to the woman of Revelation 17:18.

Yes, those beasts seen in vision by Daniel have the very features combined in the first beast of Revelation chapter 13. "A mouth speaking great things" - Dan.7:8 cf. "and there was given to him a mouth speaking great things" - Rev. 13:5. However, this book notes:

"But there is this difference. Daniel saw a series of figurative beasts in succession: first a lion, then a bear, next a leopard, finally a dreadful beast having iron teeth. Not so the vision of the beast in Revelation 13. There is no succession here: it is an amalgamation. In Revelation 13 the beast is a composite: 'And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion' (Rev.13:2). Daniel's series of beasts combine to give form to the beast of Revelation." The Revelation of Jesus Christ, pp.306-7, John Metcalfe, http://www.johnmetcalfepublishingtrust.co.uk/contact_us.htm

Note also how, in the 650 years gap between those two sets of prophecies, everything Daniel had prophesied about four great beasts coming out of the sea had come to pass. Centuries later, the single beast of Revelation chapter 13 has evidently incorporated the separate and distinct four beasts seen by Daniel, as features peculiar to each one were common to this one beast seen by John. This one beast also arises out a sea. But it has much more to it, and its role goes on beyond John's day, right up until Christ suddenly returns.

In Revelation 16:19 a great city is divided into three parts, and a wicked woman called great Babylon is called to God's remembrance, chapter 17 detailing her sudden fall. As the text in question states, she is said to sit on many waters (peoples), committing fornication with the kings of the earth. A lot of reading is needed to see who this one wicked woman is, and how the nations then turn on her, to destroy her.

The matter is far too complex to detail here, suffice to say that note needs to be taken of this one wicked woman in Revelation ruling over all the nations of the world (not just three cities), in illicit relationship with all the nations' kings, until God puts it into their hearts to turn on this lewd woman, to destroy her.

This is not speaking of literal beasts, literal seas, a literal woman etc. Nor was Daniel speaking of literal beasts, a literal sea, or literal ribs. This is all symbolic. All the cities on Earth are ruled over by this symbolic wicked woman. And if the three ribs in Daniel symbolised cities, they would have had to be cities up to the time that Daniel's prophecies were fulfilled, for when the prophecies John was given started to take effect, a new situation had developed with the 'birth' of Christianity, new worldly rulers, a fallen spiritual ruler, and new religious harlotry going on.

The matter is so intricate, I can only suggest studying the book I quoted from. The fact that it takes 600+ pages to deal with the Revelation (including a large section in the middle about Daniel's visions) shows how much time and attention to detail is required. We may imagine all sorts of meanings for various symbols, but so much patently false interpretations have littered Christian circles the past few hundred years, we should be very cautious. Someone might agree with the idea of the O.P., or with the partial answer presented here, but what if those are no more than personal opinions? Those who have spent years reverently studying God's word before putting pen to paper are less likely to fall into that trap. But how will you or I tell the difference? A short answer here cannot help you. Therefore, if you take time to study an interpretation formed over many years, after many previous years of study of the entire Bible, the divine revelations might become clearer. That is why I recommend the book I quoted from (having read it myself seven times, so far.)

  • Thank you. This is all very helpful. Commented Apr 30 at 18:14
  • One observation you touched on. Dan 7 has a lion, a bear, a leopard with 4 heads all of which have their lives preserved and a beast with ten horns on its head whose body (not head) was given to the burning flame. In summary, lion, bear, leopard, 7 heads, ten horns. Rev 13 describes a beast in summary, lion, bear, leopard, 7 heads, ten horns. As well, the mortal head wound fits for the head with the ten horns on it that came from the 4th beast of Daniel. Commented Apr 30 at 18:32
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    So yes the beast of rev 13 is an amalgamation of the 4 beasts of Daniel 7. Commented Apr 30 at 18:40

Could the 3 ribs in the bear's teeth symbolize 3 cities? Dan,7:5.

In short - Hardly!!

It is well established that Daniel's four distinctive beast's represent four kings, who in turn represent four world powers that had specific entanglements with Israel, starting with Babylonia. In Daniel's dream, these beasts arose from the sea - Dan,7:3. The sea, as opposed to the land, symbolized the masses of mankind estranged from God "peoples and crowds and nations and tongues", whereas the land embodied more of a mixture of peoples, both enlightened and not so enlightened. In a similar vein to the four beasts of Daniel, the seven headed wild beast, in Revelation, emerged from the sea. - Rev, 13:1,2; 17:15; Isaiah 57:20.

The four kings, themselves, arise from the earth and are specifically described in Dan, 7:4-7., starting with Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia, represented by the "winged lion". Then between the "winged leopard", representing Alexander the Great of Greece, subsequently displaced by the Caesar's of the Roman Empire, represented by the " fearsome and terrible and unusually strong beast", we have "the bear", raised up on one side, with three ribs in its mouth between its teeth and which was to 'Arise, and devour much meat!', Dan, 7:5.

This Medo-Persian Empire, (539-331 BCE), started with Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Great and ended with Darius III. "The bear", was the very same as that represented by the silver breasts and arms of the great image -Dan, 2:31-33. The OP enquires as to what the three ribs could possibly represent.

The three ribs between the bear's teeth could denote the three directions in which it pushed its conquests. The Medo-Persian "bear" went to the north to seize Babylon in 539 BCE. Then it went westward through Asia Minor and into Thrace. Finally, the "bear" went to the south to conquer Egypt. Since the number three at times symbolizes intensity, the three ribs may also emphasize the symbolic bear's greed for conquest.

The "bear" assaulted nations in response to the words: "Get up, eat much flesh." By devouring Babylon according to the divine will, Medo-Persia was in a position to perform a valuable service towards Jehovah's people. And it did! Through Cyrus the Great, Darius I (Darius the Great), and Artaxerxes I, Medo-Persia freed Babylon's Jewish captives and helped them rebuild Jehovah's temple and repair Jerusalem's walls. In time, Medo-Persia came to rule over 127 jurisdictional districts, and Queen Esther's husband, Ahasuerus (Xerxes I), was "king from India to Ethiopia." (Esther 1:1).

The above indenture was taken from the book "Pay Attention to DANIEL'S PROPHECY! Page 133. By the - Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, in their 1999 publication.


The four kings, representing four distinctive empires, didn't just conquer "cities", they each in turn conquered the worldly empires that immediately preceded them, all of which were and had been embroiled with Israel and in particular, that great city of note to a goodly portion of Bible narrative, not to mention "divine will", Jerusalem. Therein, the only city of truly significant consequence. The great city of Babylon itself, although consequential literally, and a truly symbolical malady, or is it "milady", being of little import, when considering the big picture.

  • I realize that your narrative is the generally accepted one, but it is full of leaps and assumptions. You really have to stretch to make it fit and even then, as you said about the ribs, they "could be" direction. The story is about the kingdom of God. It's the only kingdom that matters. The kingdom of God on earth is the kingdom of Israel. The kingdom of Israel is really more than one kingdom. It starts out as the United Kingdom of Israel, them branches off as one side rises higher than the other and eventually divides into the kingdoms of Israel (Northern-10 tribes) and Judah (Southern) Commented May 1 at 13:49
  • The northern kingdom attacks the southern Kingdom of Judah but eventually they are (lost) as the Assyrians sacked the Northern kingdom, leaving only the southern Kingdom of Judah. The southern kingdom of Judah is the killer of Christ, they killed their Messiah, in part because they expected a great big show rather than a poor shepherd riding on a donkey, much like today with ppl expecting a big return when if ppl would only stick to the words that are written and stop adding to them, the true story might then be realized. Commented May 1 at 13:57
  • Rev 22:18, Deut.4:2 and Luke 17:21 Commented May 1 at 13:59
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    Blessings to you and peace ✌️ Commented May 7 at 2:37
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    @Olde English - I am more than happy to up vote your post. Commented May 12 at 16:58

Several commentators understand the bear to symbolized the Median Empire, which had "torn" the Babylonian Empire apart. This understanding also works if they are tusks rather than "ribs." But if they are symbolic of specific cities or nations, these tusks would be parallel to the horns of the goats in chapter 8. A footnote in the NABRE (which sees these prophecies as building up to the period of the Maccabean Revolt) explains:

The two-horned ram represents the combined kingdom of the Medes and Persians, destroyed by Alexander’s Hellenistic empire originating in the west. Once again the author is interested only in the Seleucid dynasty, which emerged from the dissolution of Alexander’s empire after his death in 323 B.C.

The OP apparently does not accept the "Maccabean hypothesis" but understands Daniel and Revelation to be speaking of the same events. One problem here is that it Revelation, the city of Rome is already well established and dominant. It is not being told to “Arise, devour much flesh.” Thus if the OP's idea is to be sustained it needs to be fleshed out. If Rome is one "rib," what cities or nations are the other two ribs? How do they relate to the "horns" of Daniel 8 and the prophecies of Daniel 10 regarding Greece and Persia?

Conclusion: There is no doubt that the Book of Daniel is closely connected to Revelation. But to sustain the idea that Rome is one of the "ribs" referred to in Daniel 7:5, to OP needs to present a more comprehensive approach to the parallels between the two books.

  • Perhaps the beasts of Daniel have been erroneously identified? We are told the beasts are kings. What if the kingdom is the United kingdom of Israel? That would make King Saul the lion, King David the bear and King Solomon the leopard. I'll just stop there since my question deals specifically with the ribs between the bears' teeth. I'm this scenario, the ribs being symbolic for cities makes perfect sense, doesn't it? Commented Apr 30 at 17:39
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    Also, on a separate tangent note, you mention the ram and the goat which we are told the kingdoms of Persia and Greece. So they cannot possible be the bear and the leopard. In order for the symbolism to work, the symbols would need to remain consistent, such as stars symbolizing angels. Nowhere does it say the beasts of Daniel 7 represent the kingdoms of Babylon Persia Greece and Rome. Nowhere. Commented Apr 30 at 17:49
  • I sincerely thank you for your response. There is some very good information on here and I intend to follow up on it. Blessings Commented Apr 30 at 17:50
  • The problem with matching up Daniel's four beasts with Daniel's statue is that the statue has five parts. The four beasts seem to exist at the same time--an extension of life is granted to the first three--while the history of the statue indicates that the Babylonian, Media-Persian, and Roman empires aren't given an extension of life. The four beast rise from the Great Sea in succession and seem to be contemporaries.
    – Dieter
    Commented Apr 30 at 18:57
  • Excellent. I hope you don't think I'm trying to match the statue with the beasts. I don't think they're the same but I own that I'm not entirely sure yet as I haven't studied the statue as much as I have the beasts. I find it EXTREMELY interesting that Nebuchadnezzar was turned into a beast. I just haven't figured out how that plays into all the other beasts but I'll get there eventually. Commented Apr 30 at 19:51


My study shows that the 3 ribs do not symbolize 3 cities but 3 provinces or directions into which the Medo-Persian Empire expanded.


Through Daniel, God gave the history in advance from Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian Empire to Roman Empire that will last till the second coming of the Christ and the establishment of the World Government of God.

The Great Statue with 4 Parts

God enumerates 4 kingdoms that will conquer Jerusalem one after the other.

It begins with Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian Empire:

“You O king ………… You are the head of gold” (Dan 2:37-38).

These 4 empires are appearing one after the other. They are not contemporaries. The following verse shows it very clearly:

“And in your place shall arise another kingdom lower than yours, and another third kingdom of bronze……….” (Dan 2:39).

The fourth and the last empire will be the last because the Kingdom of God will be established in the earth during the fourth empire:

“And in the days of these kings, the God of Heaven shall set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed” (Dan 2:44).

[“These kings” are the 10 toes (kings) of the fourth empire as clearly shown in verses 41-43. They are not the 4 world empires.]

So, it is established beyond any doubt that from the time of Daniel till the time of the Second Coming of Christ, there will come only 4 empires that will affect Jerusalem.

4 Beasts Corresponds to the 4 Parts of the Great Statue

So, if there are only 4 subsequent world empires that will come and last one by one from Daniel’s time till the end of the age, then we can be sure that the four beasts Daniel describes in chapter 7 are the same empires.

The Lion symbolizes the Babylon, the Bear the Medo-Persian, the Leopard the Greek and the unnamed Beast Rome.

The Bear and the Medo-Persian Empire

Daniel gives more details about this second world empire that will conquer Jerusalem.

The Bear “was raised up on one side” (Dan 7:5).

The same is described in Dan 8:3:

“A ram was standing before the canal, having two horns. And the two horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last”.

The explanation is very clear from history. The Persians came after the Medes and they were more powerful than the latter.

So, the Persian “side” was raised than the Median “side”. The Persian “horn” was higher than the Median “horn”. In short, the Persians came after the Medians and they were more powerful.

The OP Question

The OP question can be answered easily from the following verses:

“and three ribs were in its mouth between its teeth” (Dan 7:5).

As usual, the Scripture explains its own symbols:

“I saw the ram pushing 1) westward and 2) northward and 3) southward” (Dan 8:4).


If one follows the the Scriptural explanations strictly, one understands that the 3 ribs are not 3 cities but 3 directions or 3 provinces into which the Medo-Persian Empire expanded.

The Medo-Persians “devoured” (hence “mouth and teeth”) the lands to its West, North and South.

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    Likewise! I'm more than happy to upvote your answer here. Commented May 12 at 19:27

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