The Prophecies of Daniel – Daniel 8

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Here we continue looking at the prophecies of Daniel.

Outline:

  1. Introduction
  2. Daniel chapter 8 (this post)
  3. Daniel chapter 7
  4. The little horns and Antiochus
  5. Daniel chapter 2
  6. Daniel chapter 9
  7. Matthew 24 – The Olivet Prophecy

The prophecy

The prophecy is this:

  1. A ram, with two horns – one horn appearing first, and the next horn to appear was higher than the first. The ram pushed west, north, and south.
  2. A he-goat appeared from the west with a great horn between its eyes, and the goat ran into the ram. When the he-goat was strong, the great horn was broken.
  3. Four new horns appeared, towards the four winds.
  4. A little horn appeared from one of the four horns, and waxed south, east, and towards the pleasant land. The little horn stamped on the host of heaven, magnified himself as the prince of the host of heaven, and took away the daily sacrifice, polluted the sanctuary, and cast the truth to the ground.
  5. The sanctuary was cleansed after 2300 morning and evening sacrifices.

The interpretation

Horned beast

Elasmotherium – a horned beast

The interpretation of Daniel 8 (in verses 20-25) starts off clearly.

The ram is the Medo-Persian empire, with the two horns being the kings of Media (first) and Persia (second).
The goat is the king of Greece, and the horn between its eyes was the first king. This was Alexander the Great.

From there we are left to interpret more on our own. But history shows us how the Greek empire split up into four.

The four horns that replaced the great horn were the four generals of Alexander:

  1. Seleucus (Seleucid empire)
  2. Ptolemy (Ptolemaic empire)
  3. Cassander / Antigonus I Monophthalmus (Macedonian empire)
  4. Lysimachus (Pergamon/Attalid empire)

At this point we should note that only two of these, the Seleucid and Ptolemaic empires, had any control over Israel and God’s people.

Map of the breakup of the Greek empire

Map of the breakup of the Greek empire, by Captain Blood, [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Out of one of these horns came a little horn. The originating horn must be either the Seleucid empire or the Ptolemaic empire, and of the two, only one had a line of kings who claimed divinity and culminated in one who polluted the temple, sacrificing pigs there, and who stopped the daily sacrifices – Antiochus Epiphanes.

You can read more about the Seleucid king lineage that culminated in Antiochus Epiphanes in the next post on Daniel chapter 7.

The supposed duration of 2300 days is due to a mistranslation in the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. The word “day” isn’t found in the text, but is summarised as “days” in the KJV from the actual wording, “mornings evenings“.

Daniel 8:14 – And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.

Better translations all translate this as “mornings and evenings“, and in the context of verses 11-13, this refers to the number of sacrifices that never took place because of the disruption of the temple and sanctuary. 2300 morning and evening sacrifices would take place over 1150 days, and that is how long Antiochus Epiphanes polluted the temple and sanctuary.

Daniel Chapter 8 Prophecy Chart

Daniel Chapter 8 Prophecy Chart

 

Antiochus Epiphanes

Characteristics of the little horn in Daniel 8 that match Antiochus Epiphanes:

  • The little horn arises from one of the four horns that form from the Greek empire after Alexander’s death (the Seleucid empire)
  • Waxes towards south and east and the pleasant land (the directions of his conquering)
  • Broken without hand (died of natural causes)
  • Cause craft to prosper
  • Destroy the mighty and holy people
  • King understanding dark sentences
  • Magnify himself in his heart
  • Mighty
  • Takes away the daily sacrifice
  • Duration in Jerusalem: 1150 days (2300 morning and evening sacrifices, approx 3.5 years)

The Greek empire

Constantine the Great

Constantine the Great

Daniel 8 establishes the Greek kingdom as an independent entity within these prophecies. We should therefore conclude that it plays a legitimate role in the prophecies, even though its rule over Israel was short, from the time Alexander the Great conquered the Medo-Persian kingdom, until the death of Alexander and the division into four by his generals.

Some don’t differentiate between the Greek kingdom and the four that followed, but in my view, the prophecies separate out those four, with one holding the main power. If the Seleucid and Ptolemaic kingdom are to merely be called “Greece“, we’re left with a situation where “Greece” is fighting with “Greece” over Israel, with a king of the north (the Seleucid “Greek” king) fighting with a king of the south (the Ptolemaic “Greek” king). The chapters that follow Daniel 7-9 deal in more detail with the king of the north and the king of the south, and describe the interactions between the Seleucid king and the Ptolemaic king well – and, in fact, provide even more detail about Antiochus that fits him well.

Daniel 8:22 explicitly calls “kingdoms” the four entities (horns) that arose after the death of the first king (horn). Therefore I conclude that they are truly classified as separate kingdoms for the purpose of this prophecy, and need to be considered as independent legitimate kingdoms in the other prophecies, which I’ll deal with in subsequent posts. Verse 23, in the KJV, uses the singular word “their kingdom“, but it’s plural in Hebrew, so “their kingdom” in the KJV simply means “their reign” or “their rule“. Jeremiah 10:7 uses the identical word in the plural – “their kingdoms“, and the Septuagint translates both as plural. The word can just as easily be translated “their rule” (which covers both singular and plural), and is the usage in more modern translations. So verse 23 poses no problem to considering the four kingdoms separate kingdoms in their own prophetic right.

Furthermore, the actual Greek Macedonian empire in Greece continued under the continued Macedonian kingdom, which was located in Greece, and had nothing to do with Israel or God’s people after the larger Macedonian kingdom broke up when Alexander the Great died.

Further reading:

Antiochus IV Epiphanes – Is he the little horn? … by Dale Ratzlaff
Studies in the Book of Daniel … Preterist Central
Daniel 8 … Wikipedia
The Ram, the Goat, and the Horn (Daniel 8:1-27) … by Bob Deffinbaugh
Daniel 8 – Antiochus and Antichrist
Daniel’s Prophecy of Antiochus Epiphanes … by Jason Jackson
Who was Antiochus Epiphanes?
The 2300 Year Prophecy … The Armchair Theologian
Alexander the Great … Ancient History Encyclopedia
Why the Little Horn of Daniel 8 Must Be Antiochus EpiphanesAdventist Today
The Absolutely Final Comment on the Little Horn of Daniel 8Adventist Today … by André Reis [see more from him here]

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