Daniel 8 – More on the Antichrist and the 2300 “Day” Prophecy

 
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Daniel Chapter 8

Chapter 8 continues in Hebrew after about 5 chapters of the underlying text having been written in Aramaic[C1] . Some commentators say this is because it is now done talking about gentile history and that the rest of the book is about Jewish history. This idea I think loses a measure of credibility due to the accepted fact that this chapter as well as chapter 11 will extensively deal with the history and future of nations like Persia, Greece, Egypt and other nations which are obviously Gentile nations. So although there may be significance for the change in languages at this point, I am not convinced that is the reason for it.

The events that will be prophesized here and in the next few chapters, would not occur for hundreds of years after the time that Daniel wrote them, though many of these events are history to us they were future to Daniel and his readers.

Many commentators have an issue with the prophecies here and in the following chapters simply because they are extremely accurate. There are many worldviews in the academic world that cant allow for the accurate foretelling of the future, and so, based solely on this prophecy’s accuracy, many have argued that these next few chapters were written after the facts that they detail. A theory that strains credulity because the book of Daniel appears in the Septuagint which can be shown to be in wide use, a demonstrations that it was an accepted part of the Hebrew cannon, around the same time as these events.

These prophecies also were probably of great encouragement to the Jews who at this time were still in captivity, they would have been hearing about all kinds of rumors of wars, such as the impending war with Persia, and it would be comforting for them to know that although many nations would rise and fall, Israel would remain, even in the distant future. They would not have to wait much longer for this prophecy to begin to be validated either. In just a little over a decade they will be allowed to return home to Israel, and there would indeed be a Persian king on the throne just as this chapter will suggest.

But as we will see there is a large portion of this prophecy that is relevant and import to us today, especially in relation to the so called antichrist.

Dan 8:1  In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me—to me, Daniel—after the one that appeared to me the first time.

In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar

This vision occurs way before Belshazzar’s drunken feast on the night of the fall of Babylon recorded in chapter 5. So we are going backwards chronologically here in chapter 8. In fact this vision would have taken place more than 11 years before the feast detailed in chapter 5.

When Daniel says “after the one that appeared to me the first time.” He is referring to the vision of the four beasts in Daniel 7.

Dan 8:2  I saw in the vision, and it so happened while I was looking, that I was in Shushan, the citadel, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in the vision that I was by the River Ulai.

Daniel is seeing this vision as if he was in Shushan. It could be that he was physically or spiritually transported there such as in the case of Ezekiel (Ez 8: 2-4) or it could be that he really was actually there when the vision took place. Or that he simply saw the vision as if he was there.  The text is not clear though I favor the former explanation, that he was spiritually or physically transported such as Ezekiel based on the grammar and context.

Shusan or Susa was a city to the east of Babylon, where some believe that Daniel lived during the exile and in fact they believe his tomb is there today. the King Nabonidus stayed there often too. The city was later taken by the Persian King Cyrus and became one of the four capitals of the Persian empire, specifically the winter capital.

Dan 8:3  Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and there, standing beside the river, was a ram which had two horns, and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last.

Later on in verse 20 the angel will give us the interpretation of this ram which is the kingdom of Medo-Persia.

The two horns represent the two divisions of that empire, the longer horn, (which probably represents greater strength or notability) came up later, this no doubt corresponds to how Persia, which had very little territory or power at the beginning, came to be the much more dominant part of the Medo-Persian alliance.

Miller in the New American Commentary says that the ram is a fitting symbol for the Medo-Persians because:

“According to Ammianus Marcellinus (10.1; fourth century A.D.), the Persian ruler carried the gold head of a ram when he marched before his army.[1]

I would not be so quick to suggest these types of reasons for the animal symbols used here, as it is an interpretive methodology that we have seen break down in our study of Daniel 7, where according to Miller and most others, the Medo-Persians are there represented by a bear not a goat.

In that case Miller says a bear is an apt symbol for the Medo-Persian Empire, not because of any bear idols carried into battle but rather because of “its great size and fierceness in battle.”[2]

This would also mean that in a few verses we should look for a similar connection between Greece and goats in order to be hermeneutically consistent, which very few commentators attempt to do as there is no clear connection between the two.

I am not necessarily opposed to this method of interpretation, and it may well prove to be the correct one in the end, but I think that an interpretation based on the biblical data regarding any animal must first be exhausted before going to historical factors. In addition, I am not at all convinced that we need to find a deeper meaning to the animals represented here as kingdoms anyway. It could simply be that these animals, a ram and a goat, who often fight in nature, are used for that reason alone. As we will see it is the fact that they clash with one another that is of the most importance here contextually.

Dan 8:4  I saw the ram pushing westward, northward, and southward, so that no animal could withstand him; nor was there any that could deliver from his hand, but he did according to his will and became great.

Pushing westward, northward, and southward

These are the directions of the conquests of Medo-Persia:

“Westward  – Persia conquered westward Babylon, Mesopotamia, Syria, Asia Minor.

Northward – Colchis, Armenia, Iberia, and the dwellers on the Caspian Sea.

Southward – Judea, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya; also India, under Darius. He does not say eastward, for the Persians themselves came from the east (Is 46:11).[3]

Cyrus the Great created the largest empire the world had ever known at that time, and may be to this day the largest empire ever. The directions that it expanded are perfectly in line with this prophecy as you can see on any map of the Achaemenid (Medo-Persian) Empire

So that no animal could withstand him; nor was there any that could deliver from his hand, but he did according to his will and became great.

Cyrus was obviously skilled in battle, and judging by the size of his empire alone, few who could withstand him , but he was even more skilled in diplomacy. He was often seen as a liberator to the countries he conquered.  To this day he is called the “father” in many of the countries he conquered because he was seen as a father figure by his empire.

and became great

Not only did he become great he is one of the few people remembered by that name “Cyrus the Great” and many historians such as Stanford Universities’ Professor Patrick Hunt[4] believe he is more deserving of the title than the next person we are about to look at who also has been remembered with the same epitaph “Great.”

Dan 8:5  And as I was considering, suddenly a male goat came from the west, across the surface of the whole earth, without touching the ground; and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.

This male goat charging from the west is again interpreted for us in verse 21 by the angel. It is the empire of Greece and the notable horn between his eyes is revealed by the angel to be its first king whom we know was Alexander the Great.

Without touching the ground

Probably a reference to speed. Speed is an appropriate designation for Alexander the Great and the Grecian Empire for several reasons:

1.) The speed in which he conquered the known world. (He died a young man at age 33, after only 13 years of military campaigns, an unprecedented and unequaled feat.)

2.) His army was known for its ability to traverse great distances very quickly.

3.) Once at the battle, the intentionally small army was able to quickly outmaneuver their opponents using the Greek Phalanx, a fighting style developed by Alexander’s father.

Dan 8:6  Then he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing beside the river, and ran at him with furious power.

Dan 8:7  And I saw him confronting the ram; he was moved with rage against him, attacked the ram, and broke his two horns. There was no power in the ram to withstand him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled him; and there was no one that could deliver the ram from his hand.

So the Goat (Alexander and Greece) attacks the Ram (Medo-Persia) and defeats it. This event took place a mere 3 or so years after Alexander became king.

Terms like “with furious power” and “he was moved with rage against him” probably speak of the extreme hostility Alexander, and for that matter all of Greece had against the Persians at this point.

Alexander’s father was planning an invasion of Persia when he was murdered. This grudge against the Persians that alexander and all of Greece were nursing was is in part because of the Persians conquests of the mainland of Greece after the famous battle of Thermopylae. To make a long story short, the proud Grecians absolutely hatedbeing conquered by the Persians, and when Alexander took the throne he made a b-line for Persia.

Dan 8:8  Therefore the male goat grew very great; but when he became strong, the large horn was broken, and in place of it four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven.

The uncanny accuracy of this prophecy continues, Here is says that the Grecian Empire will grow very great but when it becomes strong the horn (Alexander) will be broken, and four other horns (or rulers) of the goat will succeed him.

Alexander died at the height of his power due to a fever. His famous last words concerning who to give his empire to were “give it to the strong” which after a few murders of Alexander’s children and brother was interpreted as “give it to my four generals.”

These four generals split up the empire four ways the phrase four winds of heaven is appropriate because these four empires are referred to by their cardinal directions in chapter 11 (I.E. King of the North, King of the South) and the phrase four winds of heaven is often a way for scripture to speak of the cardinal directions though it is also often used to allegorically describe the entire world.

Dan 8:9  And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land.

In my opinion this verse is the beginning of a transition from things that have already happened in history to things that are yet to come, and things that have already happened in history, all at the same time.

This idea of a transition here is not an arbitrary decision, we are given a hint that this shift happens at this point in the text by the angel, when, in his interpretation of this vision in verse 23, after telling us about how ram is in fact Medo-Persia, and that the goat is Greece, and about the four empires that will succeed it, he stops and says the following before going on to explain the verse we are about to study:

“And in the latter time of their kingdom [speaking of the four empires that follow Greece], When the transgressors have reached their fullness, A king shall arise, Having fierce features, Who understands sinister schemes.” Dan 8:23

I will explain when we get to verse 23 why I think the phrase “When the transgressors have reached their fullness,” is a reference to an eschatological fulfillment of the following verses.

In addition there are other phrases said by the angel referring to this portion of the prophecy that have long led scholars to argue that an eschatological fulfillment is at least partially required here. Phrases such as: “The vision refers to the time of the end” in verse 17 and “in the latter time of the indignation; for at the appointed time the end shall be.”  In verse 19 give us solid ground for our interpretation that these next verses are intended to begin to speak of the end times.

And out of one of them came a little horn

This little horn can be shown to have been fulfilled in some ways by Antiochus lV AKA Antiochus Epiphanies of the Seleucid Empire (one of the four broken up empires of Greece) but many conservative scholars also see the following verses as a “type” of the antichrist as well.

The challenge for the prophecy interpreter when dealing with prophecies that have dual or more fulfillments or types is to judge what aspects of the type should be delegated to which near or far referent. I tend to take a very conservative approach to this. That is I wait for clear biblical support before I will allow an aspect of a type to be applied to its yet future referent.

We will see in chapter 11 for instance that the text is clearly speaking of Antiochus until about verse 36 when it no longer applies to Antiochus, but does apply to what we know about the Antichrist. This is a very common thing in prophetic scriptures.  Take for example Ezekiel 28 where it starts out talking about the King of Tyre, but ends up speaking of Satan in obvious terms, saying that he was in the garden of Eden, something that obviously did not apply to the King of Tyre.

Often though there is a transitional period between the near and far aspects, a time in which the text could apply to both. David Guzik explains it as being like a fade effect in film, one frame overlaps another frame and both can be seen for a moment until only one remains.  In biblical prophecy there also can be a fade in that never quite fades out, in other words once it fades in it continues to have an overlapping meaning. Usually a near and far application, such is the case here.

I feel for reasons we will see in a moment that although the following verses are fulfilled by Antiochus the most literal fulfillment of these verses will be fulfilled by the Antichrist.

I differ from some commentators slightly here because I put the emphasis more on the Antichrist in this chapter where others may put the emphasis on Antiochus, though I think they are both legitimate. I simply think I can demonstrate that the text is more precise when speaking of the antichrist than it is of Antiochus in these verses, (especially toward the end).

And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land.

out of one of them

Them grammatically must refer back to one of the four empires broken up from Alexander’s Empire. Those four empires, the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, the Seleucid Empire in the east, the Kingdom of Pergamon in Asia Minor, and Macedon.

Antiochus IV or Antiochus Epiphanies who will be in view in the next few verses was king of the Seleucid Empire which encompassed Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and Iraq, plus parts of Armenia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. Though its capital Antioch was in Syria.

This has led many to speculate that the Antichrist will be from one of these countries that made up the former Seleucid Empire. I would not say that it is scripturally certain, one reason is because this is right at the moment of that fade in / fade out process that I was talking about earlier and to build doctrine on this would be unwise.

For instance in Ezekiel 28 I would not say that Satan was literally the king of Tyre in Ezekiel’s day because at that point in the prophecy it was not yet speaking of Satan, yet I would have no hesitation stating for doctrine that Satan was perfect when he was created, something that we learn almost exclusively from that passage in Ezekiel. The difference was the distance from the fade. At this point I am not sure we are safely out of the historical or near application territory partially because of the phrase “which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land.Which I think may even be pre-Antiochus, that is speaking of his great great great grandfather Seleucus (see next section) Though I am not ruling out the possibility that this also could refer to antichrist.

I think there is good evidence which we have looked at in our study of Daniel 7 that the Antichrist will arise from a more western direction, out of a coalition of 10 other kings, and we must take into account that after the prophetic “fade in” in verse 36 of Daniel Chapter 11, the antichrist is fighting against the “King of the North” which in context would be the Seleucid empire. This we will discuss in greater detail when we get to it, but I would suggest that the only king not mentioned in that chapter is the king of the west. It could be that this western orientation is in an eastern context, or it could also be that his western orientation is not clear enough based on Daniel 11 to be taken as doctrine about the antichrist.

I would say that at the very least that because of the aforementioned shift or “fade in” that begins here, and the phrase “out of one of them” referring to the four Empires after Alexander, that the Antichrist probably will come from one of these four empires, which could include the Seleucid Empire to the east, or Macedon to the west, or the Ptolemaic Empire, that is Egypt, Libya and others to the south, or Asia Minor. But again because of the slight problems with all but the king of the west based on chapter 11, I would not be dogmatic about any of these, though each one is a possibility based on the text .

We should be careful especially as we proceed in the next few chapters of Daniel not to say for certain about the antichrist that which is not certain in the text. That being said, if all the other information that we discover about the Antichrist in this study fits,  I would have no problem with the idea that, for example,  the Antichrist comes from the former Seleucid empire, a theory that is very popular these days, but if it is contradicted in the more clear passages regarding the antichrist, then this type of proof text must be disregarded as it does not rest solid enough ground to build a foundation.

Came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land.

This idea of a little horn which grew can refer to the Seleucid Empire itself. One of the four generals of Alexander, Seleucus I, started out with pretty much just Babylon after Alexander died, but he expanded his portion of Alexander’s kingdom to include much of Alexander’s near eastern territories, in fact the Seleucid empire came to be the largest of the four empires because of his post-Alexander conquests. If you look at it on a map you can see that it expanded just as it is said here, toward the south, east and toward Israel.

Indeed it could, as most commentators have it, also be referring to the great great great grandson of Seleucus, Antiochus Epiphanies who ruled the Seleucid Empire that his ancestor conquered many years later and who is clearly in view in later verses.

These commentators explain that Antiochus started small [little horn] in that he killed his brother in order to inherit the throne.

It could be said of Antiochus that he expanded toward the south and east and toward Israel as well, but he inherited a huge empire from his fathers. His conquests of Egypt (to the south) and Miller says “Persia, Parthia, Armenia” to the east, were very limited at best, (he really didn’t even actually conquer Egypt in the end.) At any rate his conquests were certainly not exceedingly great.

It is my view that though it begins to zero in on Antiochus in the next verse I dont think it has quite gotten to him just yet, and that these verses are for the purpose of directing us to one of the four successive kingdoms of the Alexander’s Empire. I.E, the Seleucid Empire. This is given support when one considers that throughout the course of chapter 11 the “king of the north” and “king of the south” designations are applied to many different generations of rulers of these same empires (Seleucid’s and Ptolemy’s)

I think that this, as well as the following verses, are best seen as being fulfilled in the antichrist. Though the historical fulfillments are also intended.

For example the antichrist is also said to start out small (little horn):

We saw in Daniel 7 that the antichrist will start out as only 1 of 10 rulers of only one beast (Dan 7: 7-8), yet we saw that by the time he is ready to declare himself to be higher than God in the temple he will have conquered not just those ten kings, but the other three beasts as well (Rev. 13:1-2). (See my study on Daniel 7 if you are not used to the idea that the 4 beasts of Daniel 7 are contemporaneous)

So I think the idea of him starting off small, or as a little horn is one doctrinal certainty we can say of the antichrist.

We can also see that the Antichrist’s conquests will similarly be southward (Daniel 11: 40,43) and eastward (Daniel 11:44) and also toward the Glorious Land which is the exact phrase used when speaking of the antichrist in Daniel 11:41

Dan 11:41  He shall also enter the Glorious Land,

So what I am saying is that we can find explicit teaching in scripture regarding the antichrist that exactly fits this as well as many other things in this chapter. The next verse is a good example.

Dan 8:10  And it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them.

Of Antiochus this is said to be referring to his terrible persecution of the Jews. The idea is that the terms like “hosts” and “stars” which usually refer to angels are here referring to Jews, and that idea can be accepted in more allegorical sense as there is some scriptural support for it and I do think that Antiochus terrible persecution of the Jews is in view here.

The literal side of this dual prophecy however, that is its reference to the antichrist has much more scriptural support and it can be easily taken at face value.

For example notice the phrases used here and there counterparts regarding the antichrist:

And it grew up to the host of heaven:

Rev 12:7  And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

Rev 12:8  And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

Isa 14:13  For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground

Rev 12:9  And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

This I think this may be a reference to one of Satan’s “falls”, the one that takes place around the second half of the 70th week of Daniel .

It seems that just before Satan is thrown to earth he starts a literal war in heaven.  We know that this war is future because of Rev 12:12 and following which puts this particular “fall” at the 3.5 year mark of the 7 year period coinciding with the so called abomination of desolation that would spark the persecution known as the Great Tribulation

It is also clear from the context of Revelation 12 that the antichrist, not just Satan is in view towed the end of that prophecy , some think that it is at the middle of the 70th week after Satan’s fall “to earth” and he “knows his time is short” that the antichrist is possessed by Satan himself.

Dan 8:11  He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host; and by him the daily sacrifices were taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down.

In reference to Antiochus this occurred when he (most likely) had the godly high priest Onias III in killed in favor of Hellenistic men who simply paid Antiochus for the job, men like Jason and later Menelaus.

The idea of the high priest being called a prince can be seen in the following verse:

Isa 43:28  Therefore I will profane the princes of the sanctuary; I will give Jacob to the curse, And Israel to reproaches.

The Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament says that the idea of “princes” here is referring to the highest levels of priests [which included the high priest] that were divided by lot in 1 Ch 24:5.

It is notable also because it calls them in this verse the “prices of the sanctuary” because from what I can gather from the Hebrew this is the intended meaning of the phrase “and the place of His sanctuary was cast down.” In other words The high priest who was the prince of the sanctuary, had the sanctuary he was prince over [his sanctuary] cast down, in this case by Antiochus who although didn’t destroy the temple, defiled it so mightily that it closed down for just over 3 years.

It should be noted here that the capital “H” as in “His sanctuary” has been added by the translators to reflect their position that His is referring to God, not because of any grammatical clue. And I think they are right, especially in the far fulfillment of this prophecy. because as has been the case with the others, I feel the best and most literal fulfillment of this prophecy will be found in the antichrist.

For example:

exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host:

2Th 2:4  who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

See also: Dan 11:36, Rev 13:6

Dan 8:12  Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices; and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered.

So it is saying that an army or “host” is given to Antiochus (and or the Antichrist) to oppose the daily sacrifices. A parallel to this verse can be found two chapters later when these events are spoken of in greater detail it says:

Dan 11:31  And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation.

The forces or armies of Antiochus indeed did defile the sanctuary. This they did by sacrificing a pig on the alter and setting up an alter to a pagan deity in the Holy of Holies. The reasons he did this will be discussed in more detail in Chapter 11. But it should be noted that Antiochus’ armies not Antiochus himself did all that.

As far as the antichrist is concerned when he sit in the temple declaring himself to be higher than God he will be backed by his military in some capacity or another. One scripture that comes to mind about this is:

Luk 21:20  “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.

I am not sure that in the case of the antichrist the abomination of desolation will seem all that “abominable” to the people in Jerusalem, as the near fulfillment was during Antiochus’s time. The future Jerusalem may in fact view it as a good thing, as if the messiah had come, though it will certainly be an abomination from God’s perspective and something far worse than an idol in the temple and some swine’s blood.

This is speculation on my part but these armies could be surrounding Jerusalem in Luke 21 not because of aggression, but because the antichrist has just finished with the conquering of Israel’s enemies (Dan 11:40-44) and then sets up his HQ in Jerusalem (Daniel 11:45), though I am not ruling out the possibility that he actually attacks Israel before the very end of the day of the lord using his 10 kings (Rev 17:16) Though it seems to me that he plays as if he is the king of Israel until he orders its destruction at the very end.

Dan 8:13  Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said to that certain one who was speaking, “How long will the vision be, concerning the daily sacrifices and the transgression of desolation, the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled underfoot?”

In Daniel’s vision there are angels talking to one another. Some think that one of these “Holy Ones” is a Christophany though it does not appear certain from the text.

“How long will the vision be, concerning the daily sacrifices and the transgression of desolation, the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled underfoot?”

This question is asked for the benefit of Daniel and us, because as we will see the angel gives the answer to Daniel not to the one who asks the question.

The question is about the desolation of the temple which ended the daily sacrifices, the angel asks essentially “how long will there be no daily sacrifices?” The fact that the daily sacrifices are of particular concern is important for reasons we are about to see.

Dan 8:14  And he said to me, “For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.”

It should first be noted that the word “days” does not appear in the original language. The words that do appear are “evenings” which in Hebrew is Ereb and “mornings” which in Hebrew is Boqer.

The fact that some bible translators decided to translate these two words as “days” despite the absence of the Hebrew word for day “Yom” has caused some trouble.

Why? Well a few reasons, the first is the so called “day-year theory.” That is the idea that when you see a day in prophecy it is ok to assume that a year is meant. This has been the basis for several date setting movements in the past century.

There are a lot of problems with this besides the fact that the word “day” does not even show up here and therefore is not even a candidate for a day year prophecy.

I would suggest that in every single case that a prophecy gets interpreted within the bible itself by another person in the bible, it is interpreted literally by them, in other words in a non-day-year fashion or any other fashion that is not face value.

In other words days are days, and years are years in prophecy according to biblical figures. For example Daniel in the next chapter realizes that based on the prophecy written by Jeremiah that the Jews will get out of captivity after 70 years of exile. Daniel would not have calculated this properly if he used any other method of interpretation other than a literal one. If we took all the prophecies in the bible that have come true and applied a day-year-theory to them, like the prophecies of the messiah, they would cease to be accurate. So day-year theorists are arbitrarily selective as to when to apply this hermeneutic and, as far as I know, this is the only place that they deem it necessary.

There is a much better way to understand this prophecy but we must go back to the idea of “ereb” and “boqer”, the Hebrew words for “Evenings” and “mornings”, why such a strange way of saying “days” if indeed days was meant.

Every day there were two sacrifices at the temple, a morning and an evening sacrifice. This is described in Exodus 29:38-43

The angel was simply answering the question “how long will the daily sacrifices be forgone?”

The answer is given as the number of sacrifices that would be actually missed I.E. “2300 evening and morning sacrifices will be missed before the sanctuary will be cleansed and they can start up again”

If the angel was saying there would be a total of 2300 morning and evening sacrifices missed before they would resume again, then it would be a total of 1150 days because (2300 total sacrifices divided by 2 sacrifices per day = 1150 days.)

There is a good debate on this issue, and I believe that in part the reason there is confusion is because whether 2300 days are meant or 1150 days, there are some problems with perfectly matching either of those dates up to Antiochus or the antichrist for that matter.

Let’s review some history first so we know what we are looking for.

Antiochus the so called “antichrist of the Old Testament”, comes back from an unsuccessful campaign in Egypt in a rage, and on his way home to Syria he had to pass through Jerusalem, this is when the defilement of the temple occurred, which included a religious idol being put in the holy of holies ect.

This ultimately caused a rebellion of the Jewish people, led by a prominent family called the Maccabees.

They ultimately defeated the Greek forces, cleansed the temple, and reinstated the daily sacrifices.

We know the exact dates in which the sacrifices were ended by Antiochus’s armies, and when they were restored again by the Maccabees. This is a matter of historical certainty;

I Maccabees, though not a canonical book, is widely agreed by scholars to be historically accurate and its dates match other data we can gather about this event and  in chapter 1 verse 54 it says:

“On the 15th day of the 9th month of the 145th year [of the kingdom of the Greeks] king Antiochus set up the abominable idol of desolation upon the altar of God.”

The termination is established in the same book I Mac. 4:52,53

“And they arose before the morning of the 25th day of the 9th month of the 148th year, and they offered sacrifices according to the law upon the new altar…”

But now here is the problem, if you do the math on the number of days, which should come up to 1150 if our theory is correct, it actually only comes to 1,105, which is 45 days short.

This has led many to say things like: well, perhaps the sacrifices were stopped sometime before the idol was set up. This I suppose is possible, but we have no record of it, and it would seem to run contrary to certain occasions in scripture when the abomination of desolation is mentioned as being the reason that the sacrifices are stopped not because of some preceding event. This at least seems certain of the end times version of the abomination of desolation such as in Matthew 24:15.

This almost-but-not-quite interpretation has left others to pursue the possibility that perhaps 2300 evenings and mornings really was just speaking of 2300 days. In other words it would be like saying 2300 groupings of evenings and mornings.

This camp then needs to try to find a fulfillment that lasts about 6.3 years. They will say that from the assassination of the high priest until the cleansing of the temple by the Maccabees is right around 6 years (though they will usually admit not exactly 6.3 years) and that this general period should be viewed as the entire the Maccabean “tribulation.”

This view has a major problem in that it has to take the assassination of the high priest or some other event as the starting point even though the ending of the sacrifices are explicitly said to be the starting point by the angel.

Both views are lacking as they do not come to a literal and perfect resolution which is especially troubling since the dates of the events in question have been so well preserved for us.

The answer to this conundrum, I believe is simple; We are using the wrong calendar. Most of these calculations are using a 365 day calendar when, as we will see, that is not always the way the bible renders time.

We will discuss calendars more when we look at Daniel 9, and we will see that the Bible can be shown conclusively to use at least 3 calendars at different times for different reasons. But for right not what we need to know is that the Bible often uses a 360 day calendar to render prophecy.

You may be familiar with the idea that the book of Revelation gives us the last 3.5 years of the famous 7 year period in various formats in several places. For instance in Revelation 13:5 it speaks of it as 42 months, in Revelation 12:6 it is 1260 days, and in 12:14 as a “time times and half a time” [or 3.5 years.] All of this gives us certainty that we are dealing with 360 day years in that prophecy, which deals with the end times abomination of desolation.

We will show more examples in scripture of the bibles use of 360 day years, and some thoughts as to why it does this in chapter 9. But for right now I want to focus in on the Greek world at that time, and show that it too used the 360 day year, as I think that the Greek way of keeping time here will help us solve this problem.

Herodotus the so called father of history has a number of quotes about the Greek calendar that lets us know that there are 360 days in a Greek year, but he also has a few quotes that tell us about the so called intercalary months, this is the extra month thrown in at different times in order to keep calendars on pace with the seasons. He said the following:

“Take seventy years as the span of a man’s life. Those seventy years contain 25,200 days without counting intercalary months. Add a month every other year to make the seasons come round with proper regularity, and you will have 35 additional months which will make 1050 days. Thus the total days of your seventy years is 26,250 and not a single one of them is like the next in what it brings.”

I will quote Fred P. Miller for the calculations based on these numbers.

“Using the Greek calendar according to Herodotus and assuming that the years 146 and 148 were intercalary years, we come up with the following calculation: 9-15-145 to 9-25-148, the dates given in  Maccabees from the desecration to the cleansing, is three years and ten days. Thus, the math sentence following the Greek calendar which was in use at the time the prophecy was fulfilled would be: (3 X 360) + (2 X 30) + 10. Let’s diagram it.

3 x 360 equals ********************1080 days

2 x 30 (2 intercalary months)***********60 days

From 15th to 25th equals **************10 days

__________________________________________

Total *****************************1150 days”

So in other words if each year is 360 days and if there is an extra 30 days every other year then all of this fits. It would seem to me that the problem is solved.

How this relates to the antichrist is an open question for me at this point. The problem is that in Daniel 12, when it is certainly talking about the antichrist’s desolation in the end times, it says it will be “1290 days”  Which is a difference of 140 days from this calendar.

Dan 12:11  “And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days.

We will see when we get to this that there is a very interesting reason for the additional 30 day and 45 day period tacked on to the last 7 year period. But if you want to get started on this I suggest Dr. Elbert Charpie’s presentation on Daniels 30 and 45 day period.

So I will at this point say that I can see the significance of the 2300 day prophecy for Antiochus, but have not yet determined its relationship to the antichrist, but perhaps by the end of this study of the book of Daniel I will.

My hunch is that the overwhelming evidence in scripture that points to there being a 3.5 year period from abomination to the restoration is also in view in the 2300 evenings and mornings prophecy, but that it is being rendered in this way for one reason or another.

But until that is confirmed I will assume this is a separate prophecy from the 3.5 year period. Perhaps never intended to apply to the antichrist but only to Antiochus, which seems unlikely given the context, or that it will make sense as a distinct prophecy of the antichrist when the events come to pass.

Dan 8:15  Then it happened, when I, Daniel, had seen the vision and was seeking the meaning, that suddenly there stood before me one having the appearance of a man.

Dan 8:16  And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, who called, and said, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.”

Dan 8:17  So he came near where I stood, and when he came I was afraid and fell on my face; but he said to me, “Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end.”

Dan 8:18  Now, as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me, and stood me upright.

Dan 8:19  And he said, “Look, I am making known to you what shall happen in the latter time of the indignation; for at the appointed time the end shall be.

Miller believes this one with the “appearance of a man” to be God himself perhaps a Christophany:

“While Daniel was gazing at the vision, “trying to understand it,” suddenly he was confronted by an imposing figure who had the appearance of “a man” (gber). The word gber is derived from a root that means “strong or mighty,” and the term here describes a “mighty” being in human form. Though the angel Gabriel has been suggested, this being is best understood to be God himself. In the following verse it seems to be the “voice” of this same person heard ordering Gabriel to explain the vision, demonstrating his superiority over that important angel. Furthermore, Daniel does not seem to have feared the angels (cf. 7:16), not even Gabriel (cf. 9:21ff.), but in v. 17 he exhibited extreme terror and fell on his face. Such fear is characteristic of those who have found themselves in the presence of the holy God (cf. Isa 6:5; Ezek 1:28; Rev 1:17).”[5]

latter time of the indignation

This is a prophetic theme spoken of often, with the phrases like “appointed time.” The concept appears often in Daniel (Dan 8:17, Dan 8:23, Dan 9:26-27, Dan 11:27, Dan 11:35-36, Dan 12:7-8;), the time of God’s wrath against the wicked is appointed, it will come about with certainty.

latter time

Not just a late time, as in a few hundred years from now (I.E. Antiochus) but latter as in eschatological or final time, though both are probably in view but again the more literal referent is antichrist.

Dan 8:20  The ram which you saw, having the two horns—they are the kings of Media and Persia.

Dan 8:21  And the male goat is the kingdom of Greece. The large horn that is between its eyes is the first king.

Dan 8:22  As for the broken horn and the four that stood up in its place, four kingdoms shall arise out of that nation, but not with its power.

Here we find that our interpretation of the animals that represent kingdoms were correct. We also take note here of the fantastic accuracy of God’s word. God, who is the Alpha and Omega, can easily tell us history in advance.

Dan 8:23  “And in the latter time of their kingdom, When the transgressors have reached their fullness, A king shall arise, Having fierce features, Who understands sinister schemes.

When the transgressors have reached their fullness

In an eschatological sense the transgressors should here be understood as all those that will be recipients of God’s wrath during the Day of the Lord.

This Idea that transgression can reach a “fullness” is also a consistent theme in scripture. It would seem that God has an allotment of sinfulness that can occur before judgment is sent.

Gen 15:13  Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.

Gen 15:14  And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.

Gen 15:15  Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age.

Gen 15:16  But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

Abraham would not see the fulfillment of his promised land in his day because the people who were already in the land, the Amorites, had not yet reached their allotment of sinfulness. In fact it would be another 400 years before they did. Our God is indeed a longsuffering God.

It is unlikely, as some commentators have it, that this fullness of transgressions occurred in Antiochus’s day as contextually the transgressors would be the Israelites, and we know from the words of Jesus that their sin had not reached its fullness even in his day, for he said after their rejection of Him:

Mat 23:32  Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt.

So they are still awaiting their allotment to come due. I personally think this allotment is detailed in Revelation 17 and 18, and if you are inclined you can see my commentary of Mystery Babylon in audio, video, or text at versebyversebibleteaching.com

Dan 8:24  His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; He shall destroy fearfully, And shall prosper and thrive; He shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people.

Though we can make a case for Antiochus with each of these points, as I have been saying this is far more about the Antichrist than Antiochus at this point.

His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power

This is paralleled in:

Rev 13:2  Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. [He is mighty…but] The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. [not by his own power]

He shall destroy fearfully, And shall prosper and thrive; He shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people.

Rev 13:7  It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.

Dan 7:21  “I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them,

Mat 24:21  For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.

Mat 24:22  And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.

Dan 8:25  “Through his cunning He shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule; And he shall exalt himself in his heart. He shall destroy many in their prosperity. He shall even rise against the Prince of princes; But he shall be broken without human means.

Through his cunning He shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule

This was described in the vision as one who “understands sinister schemes” also in Daniel 11:21, and here we must again be careful not to put too much emphasis on “types” but it says of Antiochus: “but he shall come in peaceably, and seize the kingdom by intrigue.”

This perhaps could relate to the “covenant with many” spoken of in Daniel 9 but it is not clear to me.

It does seem however that we can be certain that the antichrist’s initial coming to power was not through warfare, though once he has a measure of power warfare will certainly be the way he gains more of it.

In this verse however the emphasis seems to be that deception itself will be prominent during his rule. This is echoed in many places in the New Testament, one of particular note is:

1Ti 4:1  Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,

1Ti 4:2  speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron.

But he shall be broken without human means

The Antichrist does not meet his end by human means but only by the “breath of the mouth” of the returning Christ. (Rev_19:19-21, 2 thess 2)

Dan 8:26  “And the vision of the evenings and mornings Which was told is true; Therefore seal up the vision, For it refers to many days in the future.

A reiteration is given regarding the truthfulness of the 2300 evenings and mornings vision. Miller postulates a reason for this:

“ the detail concerning the “evenings and mornings” evidently was singled out because it told the exact length of the persecution period, information that would be of great interest to those suffering this ordeal.”[6]

Therefore seal up the vision, For it refers to many days in the future.

Miller makes an excellent point regarding this idea of sealing up the vision:

“Seal up” is a translation of the verb stam, which means “stop up, shut up, keep closed.”57 Though the NASB renders the term “keep the vision secret,” ancient documents were sealed for their preservation, and this is the idea here. No part of Scripture, even portions dealing with future events, is ever hidden away from the saints. Daniel therefore was being instructed to take measures to ensure that the vision’s contents would be available for generations in the “distant future.” Antiochus IV lived almost four hundred years after Daniel. Here it should be noted that the writer claimed to be predicting the future. This prophecy cannot be “true” as Gabriel declared, unless it actually was delivered to Daniel and written many years before the events took place.”[7]

Dan 8:27  And I, Daniel, fainted and was sick for days; afterward I arose and went about the king’s business. I was astonished by the vision, but no one understood it.

This sickness is interesting, it could be said that the reason for the sickness was the grief of having seen the future of his people, and the destruction that would come upon them. It is evident from Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9 that he was a man of passion for his people. This vision then would indeed make such a man “sick.”

It could also be that the mere presence of the beings made him sick, or the sheer exhaustion that would occur in such an encounter would leave him that way. It is evident in some cases in scripture that angels had to “strengthen” the people that they talked to. Or of course it could be a combination of both, or neither, the text is not explicit on why exactly Daniel was sick here


[1] Miller, Stephen  B. (1994-08-31). The New American Commentary Volume 18 – Daniel (p. 222). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.

[2] Miller (p. 198)

[3] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Da 8:4). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[4]  Cited quote as per media (documentary piece) titled “Engineering an Empire – The Persians”. History Channel. Release date: December 4, 2006. Media available for viewing online via history.com or via Google Video. Host: Peter Weller. Production: United States.

[5] Miller (p. 231)

[6] Miller, (p. 236)

[7] Miller (p. 236)

 

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