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15. Daniel

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Notes on the Book of Daniel

I. The Prophet Daniel

Daniel went into exile as a young man in 605 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzar forced Jehoiakim to submit to the new Babylonian kingdom. Daniel’s ministry continued into the third year of Cyrus (10:1) (about 536 B.C.). Daniel therefore ministered for a period of about sixty‑nine years. If he were about sixteen at the time of captivity, he would have been eighty‑five when he made his last prophecy.

When one considers the religious climate during which Daniel grew up, his strong spiritual character stands out even more. The Josiah’s, Daniel’s and Ezekiel’s may have been rare, but they did exist and bear testimony to the fact that God always had a faithful remnant that did “not bow the knee to Baal.”

II. The Apocalyptic genre

Daniel is considered by critical scholars to be a second century work, responding to the critical and traumatic situation of the Syrian persecution of the Jews. Consequently, they place Daniel in the same category as the Book of Enoch and other such materials where the author is anonymous but assumes a name of an ancient, well-known person.1 Ford lists four chief characteristics of apocalyptic literature: pseudonymity, rewritten history, determinism, and ethical passivity. However Daniel is not pseudonymous, the New Testament regards it as prophecy (Matt 24:15), other prophecies seem deterministic but were even so conditioned on repentance (Jer. 18:7-10; Jonah), Daniel has strong ethical emphasis (4:27; 5:20-23; 6:4; 9:1-20; 11:32-35; 12:10).2 The problem with the authorship issue is that there is no venerable person prior to the fifth century with the name Daniel. Efforts to link this Daniel with the Danel of the Ugaritic texts have not proven successful. The form the book of Daniel assumes has indeed many of the characteristics used to denote apocalyptic literature (as does its New Testament counterpart, Revelation), but this book set the pace emulated by the later writers.

III. The Historical Context

Daniel more than any other prophet demands a knowledge of the historical background of the people and culture of which he speaks. Not only does he make the normal historical allusions to people and events, he predicts details about a coming period, so vivid and verifiable, that critics refuse to accept the possibility they are prophetic. Daniel prophesied during the dominion of two different empires: Babylon and Persia. He prophesied about the Greeks, Romans, and coming eschatological events.

The Neo‑Babylonian Empire (625 B.C.‑‑539 B.C.)

The Neo‑Babylonian empire began with Nebuchadnezzar’s father, Nabopolassar. He was a Chaldean who managed to take over Babylon and to harass the Assyrians. The date of the beginning of his rule is 625 B.C.

Nebuchadnezzar was the greatest of the Babylonian kings. He was commander of the army attacking Egypt in Syria when his father died. He became king in 605 B.C. and ruled until 562 B.C. He was noted for his great building projects in Babylon and figures largely in the book of Daniel.

Evil‑Merodach (Amelu‑Marduk), Nebuchadnezzar’s son, ruled only a short time (562‑560 B.C.). He is noted in Scripture as the one who elevated Jehoiachin and gave him provisions.3

Nergal‑Sharezer (Neriglissar) is the son‑in‑law of Nebuchadnezzar. He assassinated Evil‑Merodach and ruled from 560 B.C. to 556 B.C.

Labashi‑Marduk, his son, was murdered after ruling only his accession year.

Nabonidus, not from the royal family and perhaps from north Syria, ruled from 556 B.C. to the Persian conquest in 539 B.C. For some reason Nabonidus retired to Teima and made his son Belshazzar (Bel‑shar‑usur) regent. This may have resulted from his support of the moon goddess at Haran (where he rebuilt the temple and his mother may have served as priestess). He returned after nine years to view the overthrow of Babylon.4

The Persian Empire ([550] 539—330 B.C.)

Cyrus ruled after the capture of Babylon until 530 B.C. Gobryus ruled as governor of Babylon (is this Darius the Mede?). Wiseman/Kitchen argue that Darius the Mede is really Cyrus5 who was half Mede).6

Cambyses (530‑522 B.C.)

Darius I the Great (522‑486 B.C.)

Xerxes I (486‑465 B.C.)

Artaxerxes I (465‑424 B.C.)

Undistinguished rule for the next century.

Hellenistic Empires (330—64 B.C.)

Alexander the Great conquers the east (334‑323 B.C.)

The Ptolemies rule Egypt and the Seleucids rule Syria until the Romans interfere in 64 B.C.

Chronological Chart for the Prophets

IV. Problems in Daniel

Daniel has been the center of much debate and discussion. Critical scholars assume that the “Daniel Cycles” are fairly early, but since chapters 8 and 11 refer to the Greeks and the latter refers to the Maccabean period, they argue that it is prophecy “ex eventu” that is, it was written during or after the events and presented as prophecy. The third year of Jehoiakim is taken by most critics to be inaccurate in spite of D. J. Wiseman’s defense in The Babylonian Chronicle. The rule of Belshazzar has long been debated. We now have Babylonian records using his name. He was the de facto if not the de jure king when Babylon fell to the Persians.7

V. The Language of the Book

Daniel is notable in that it has more Aramaic than any other book of the Bible (Ezra being the only other book with a substantial amount). The Aramaic section begins at 2:4 and continues through chapter 7. Many reasons are conjectured for this, but the most plausible is that the subject content is primarily devoted to the Gentile powers, and, therefore, the trade language of the world was used. Aramaic had been used since the Assyrian period (cf. Isaiah 36:11-12). It was also used by the Persians who succeeded the Babylonians.

VI. The Structure of Daniel

The retention of Daniel 7 in Aramaic serves as an interlocking device between the two halves of the book. Chapter 7 belongs with the visions by genre, subject matter, and dating (since it begins a new sequence of Babylon-Media-Persia). It is linked to the tales by language and by the obvious parallelism with the four-kingdom prophecy of ch. 2 As Lenglet has noted,8 chs. 2-7 form a chiastic structure in which 2 and 7 are related by the four-kingdom schema, 3 and 6 are tales of deliverance, and 4 and 5 offer critiques of the kings. This formation does not prove that the Aramaic chapters originally formed an independent book, but it does testify to careful editorial arrangement.

VII. Outline of the Book

The book is usually divided 1‑6 and 7‑12, but we will follow the pattern of (1) Introduction—1 (2) Emphasis on the Gentiles (Aramaic)—2‑7 and (3) Emphasis on the Jews as related to the Gentiles (Hebrew)—8‑12.

A. Introduction, Daniel in Babylon (1:1‑21).

1. Historical introduction (1:1-2)9

Suffice it to say here that Jehoiakim submitted to Nebuchadnezzar, and temple vessels were carried to Babylon and placed in the pagan temple (2 Kings 24:1). Hostages were also taken, and Daniel was among them (Jehoiakim himself may have been taken to Babylon to participate in the victory parade, cf. 2 Chron. 36:6).

2. Choice young men are selected to be in the king’s service (1:3‑7).

These young men were to be trained in the literature and language of the Chaldeans. They were to be cared for and trained for three years. After that time they were to enter the king’s service. Their names were changed to Babylonian ones.

3. Daniel chooses to follow the Lord regardless of the consequences (1:8‑16).

Daniel chose to follow the Levitical dietary laws as an outward symbol of obedience to God. God granted him favor with the overseer who allowed him to test the different food. At the end of the ten day trial, it was shown to have worked, and Daniel and his friends were allowed to continue the regimen.

4. God honors Daniel’s obedience and blesses him and the three friends as they enter the king’s service (1:17‑21).

B. Emphasis is placed on the Gentiles (the language is Aramaic) (2:1—7:28).

1. Nebuchadnezzar dreams of a great image which Daniel interprets in terms of coming kingdoms (2:1‑49).

a. Nebuchadnezzar dreams (2:1).

The setting is the second year of Nebuchadnezzar. In view of the fact that Daniel’s training was to last three years, we need to ask how Daniel could stand before the king in the second year of his training. A similar chronological situation exists to that in 1:1. The Babylonian system does not count the accession year as the first year, hence, the second year is actually the third. The idea of dreams as a revelation from God is rather common.10 The king, having had the dream, calls for the various groups who “divine the seasons” to come to him.

b. The wise men cannot tell the dream (2:2-13).

The various groups begin to speak to the king (in Aramaic) and ask him to tell them the dream. There were obvious methods of interpreting dreams. The problem is that the king will not tell them the dream, but demands that they give him both the dream and its interpretation. When they declare their incompetency to do such a thing, he demands their heads and those of all in the king’s service as wise men. This included Daniel and his friends.

c. God reveals the dream to Daniel (2:14‑24).

Daniel requests from Arioch the king’s executioner a reprieve long enough to ask God for the interpretation of the dream. This is granted, Daniel and his friends pray to God for the interpretation, they get it, and Daniel gives thanks to God. He then goes to Arioch and requests an audience with the king.

d. Daniel reveals the source of his interpretation (2:25‑30).

Daniel makes sure that Nebuchadnezzar understands the source of the revelation about the mystery. It is not Daniel’s wisdom that produced it, but God has revealed Himself to Nebuchadnezzar and the interpretation to Daniel. God, says Daniel, has revealed things to take place in the future (2:25‑30).

e. Daniel reveals the dream (2:31‑35).

The dream consists of two parts: the image and the stone. The image has six components: Head (gold), chest and arms (silver), stomach and thighs (bronze), legs (iron), feet (part clay, part iron). A stone appeared cut out of a mountain but not by human hands, and it struck the statue on its feet and crushed them. The entire image was crushed and became like chaff. However, the stone became a great mountain and filled the earth.

f. Daniel reveals the meaning of the dream (2:36‑45).

First, the head of gold represents Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom. This kingdom is presented as the best of all, not because of size, but because of its position as the first of the Gentile dominions to carry off Israel and bring her under their complete control. Second, the silver chest and arms represent Persia (passed by quite quickly). Third, the bronze stomach and thighs represent Greece. Fourth, the iron legs represent Rome and the feet and toes represent some aspect of the Roman empire. The critics want the four kingdoms to be: Babylon, Media, Persia and Greece, because they believe the farthest point in the “prophecy” is the Maccabean period.11 However, Daniel does not view Media as a separate kingdom (Media was co‑terminus with Babylon and did not succeed it as the dream requires. Cf. also 5:29-31: Medes and Persians). In 8:3 Daniel sees a Ram with two horns. The Ram represents the Medo‑Persian kingdom in two aspects. There are two horns, but the second one (Persia) came up last and was taller. Consequently, the iron legs must represent the Roman empire.

The most striking aspect of the interpretation of the dream is the stone from the mountain. Daniel is referring to the messianic kingdom to be set up by the God of heaven. God’s purposes will triumph over all of Satan’s activities and his kingdom will endure forever.

g. Daniel is rewarded (2:46‑49).

Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges that Daniel’s God is supreme. He promotes Daniel and rewards him monetarily. Daniel remembers his friends and asks that they be assigned to responsibilities as well.

2. Daniel’s three friends are forced to stand for their faith at the risk of death (3:1‑30).

a. Nebuchadnezzar sets up a great image (3:1‑7).

Apparently the dream of chapter 2 inspired the king to set up an image similar to the on he had dreamed about. Daniel is not mentioned in this story for some reason. He must have been away or indisposed in such a way that he was not involved. The king calls all his important officials and demands that everyone worship his new idol.

b. Jealous Chaldeans charge the Jews with impiety (3:8‑12).

They established first the king’s rule that anyone who does not fall down to worship will be thrown in a furnace of fire. They then charged the three Jews with refusal to do so. (Jeremiah 29 gave an example of this horrible kind of death by saying that Koliah would be roasted in fire by Nebuchadnezzar.)

c. The three young men testify of their faith in God (3:13‑18).

Nebuchadnezzar demanded a response from the men. They testified of a God who was able to deliver them. However, even if He should choose not to deliver them, the king must understand that they still trust Him and will not worship the image.

d. The men are punished (3:19‑23).

The king became furious, had the furnace heated even more and threw the three men into it. The fire was so hot that it killed the men who threw the Jews in.

e. God vindicates His servants (3:24‑30).

The king was amazed that he was able to see four men walking about. The fourth looked like a son of the gods. (Plural is probably better here than singular. There is no way Nebuchadnezzar would have had any inkling of the coming “son of God.”) The men were released unharmed, and Nebuchadnezzar responded with a word of praise to the God of these men. Any future accusers were promised the worst sort of reprisal, and the men prospered in the province of Babylon.

3. Daniel interprets another of Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams (4:1‑37).

a. Nebuchadnezzar’s testimony (4:1‑3).

In a very unusual move, Nebuchadnezzar sent a letter to his entire kingdom proclaiming the praise of the Most High God for his greatness and goodness. The letter was an explanation of the most significant and unusual period in his life.

b. Nebuchadnezzar tells of his dream (4:4‑18).

As in chapter 2, the magicians and wise men were unable to interpret the dream, but Daniel was able. The king told him the dream. The first part is positive: a large tree is in the midst of the earth. It provides food and shelter to all the beasts and birds. The second part of the dream is negative: a “watcher,” a holy one comes down from heaven (as in Revelation) and shouts a command. The tree is to be cut down, but a stump is to be left with a band of iron and bronze around it. Now the tree stump is personified: let him be drenched with the dew of heaven. He will have a disease called theriomania, meaning “to act like beasts.” Then seven times (shive‘ah ‘idanin עִדָּנִין שִׁבְעָה) passed over him. This is probably seven years although it could be less. The purpose of this dream was to teach Nebuchadnezzar that the God of Heaven is in charge of the universe and to humble Nebuchadnezzar.

c. The interpretation of the dream (4:19‑27).

Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that the dream pertained to his enemies (or as in NASB: “would that it applied to your enemies”). Nebuchadnezzar was the tree; the chopping down of the tree referred to Nebuchadnezzar being driven from mankind until seven “times” passed over him. The stump indicated that the kingdom will endure and be restored to Nebuchadnezzar, but all of this was to force Nebuchadnezzar to acknowledge the lordship of the Most High God. Daniel concluded boldly urging the King to repent of his sins.

d. The fulfillment of the dream (4:28‑33).

Everything happened as predicted. The judgment came as the king was gloating over the greatness of his kingdom for which he was taking all the glory. He acted like an animal and had long hair and finger and toe nails.

e. Nebuchadnezzar’s restoration (4:34‑37).

After the seven “times” passed over him, Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity returned, and his counselors again sought him out and restored him to the throne. As a result Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged the lordship of the Most High God and humbly proclaimed that He was to receive honor and glory.

Excursus:

Is there anything in the extra‑biblical record to support the biblical statements on Nebuchadnezzar’s madness? Thompson12 says: “The name of Nebuchadrezzar became the centre of much romance, notably the story of his madness in the book of Daniel. His own inscriptions speak only of a four‑year‑long suspension of interest in public affairs, which may not be a reference to his malady, though tradition of something of the kind may have lent verisimilitude to the account of it in Daniel.13 His religious character is illustrated above; like Ashurbanipal he may have suffered some mysterious affliction (p. 127), and this might have been ascribed to a divine visitation (cf. also p. 425 and note).”

Wiseman14 gives a broken text that may indicate mental problems. “Nebuchadrezzar pondered . . . his life was of no value to him . . . he was angry (or stood) and a favourable path (he took . . . and) Babylonia (. . . .). To Amel-Marduk he speaks what was not . . . he then gives a different order but . . . he does not heed the mention of his name (or pronouncement), a courtier . . . . Concerning the fortunes of Esagil and Babylon and . . . the cult-centres of the great gods they considered. . . . He does not have in mind (any concern) for son or daughter, for him there is no family and clan does not exist. . . . In his heart for everything that was abunda(nt. .) His attention was not set to promoting the welfare of Esagil (and Babylon). With ears pricked up (eagerly?) he went in through the Holy Gate . . . he prays to the lord of lords, his hand raised (in supplication). He weeps bitterly to his god, the great gods. . . . His prayers go forth to. . . .” Wiseman interprets this entire text as referring to Nebuchadnezzar. Others apply the latter part to Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Amel-Marduk.

Because of Nabonidus’ long stint in Teima, the hostility of the Babylonian priesthood to him15 and a fragment from Qumran attributing a sickness of seven years to Nabonidus through which he was instructed by a Jewish soothsayer, some want the Nebuchadnezzar story to be transferred to Nabonidus. However, there is no reason why the problem could not have happened to Nebuchadnezzar, and one surely would not expect to find a record of it in the accounts. If Nebuchadnezzar “withdrew from public life for four years,” a seven year hiatus should not be considered improbable.

Excursus two: Was Nebuchadnezzar a believer in the sense of an OT saint? Certainly, he acknowledges the existence, position and power of the Most High God. However, the acknowledgement of the person of God in chapter two does not prevent him from trying to kill the three Jewish men for worshipping the same God in chapter three. Furthermore, in chapter four the same lesson has to be learned again. It seems unlikely to me that he was ever more than a polytheist.

4. Daniel is involved in the last days of the Babylonian empire which falls under the de facto king Belshazzar (5:1‑30).

a. Belshazzar’s feast (5:1‑4).

The last days of Babylon were characterized by internal weakness. The real king, Nabonidus, was gone and his son was ruling as regent. The people were disaffected and the priesthood was hostile. In spite of all this tenuousness, Belshazzar threw a sumptuous feast and arrogantly drank from the holy vessels of the temple of Jerusalem.

b. The handwriting (5:5‑9).

A man’s fingers came out and began to write on the wall. The king was completely disconcerted and called for the wise men, etc. As on two previous occasions they were unable to read (interpret) the writing on the wall.

c. Daniel is again brought in (5:10‑16).

Daniel would now be in his early eighties. The queen mother remembered Daniel and suggested that he be brought in. (Nebuchadnezzar [5:11] was not Belshazzar’s father in actuality. It is a convention to say that Nebuchadnezzar was a predecessor of Belshazzar. Though he may have been a grandson through the marriage of his father to a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar.)16 Belshazzar brings Daniel in and offers him great bribes to interpret the handwriting.

d. Daniel interprets the dream (5:17‑28).

Daniel gave a daring preamble to his interpretation. He reminded Belshazzar of the way God dealt with Nebuchadnezzar. He told Belshazzar that he had not repented but conversely was drinking out of the holy vessels of the temple of the Most High God. Therefore, the hand was sent with the inscription. One knows that the interpretation is going to be very negative before it is even given. The writing consists of four words: mene, mene, tekel, upharsin. These are Aramaic words:מְנֵא מְנֵא תְּקֵל וּפַרְסִין Mene means that God has numbered the kingdom and put an end to it. Tekel (Hebrew: shekel) means weighed (and found deficient). Peres your kingdom has been divided (taken away) and given to the Medes and Persians. The latter word may also be a pun on “Persia.” Daniel was appropriately awarded and given the position of third ruler in the kingdom since Belshazzar held the second position under Nabonidus.

e. The fall of Babylon.

We know from extra‑biblical material that Babylon fell easily to the Persians probably because of internal rot and dissension. Cyrus was able to win the Babylonians quickly with a benevolent policy toward them and their religion—a policy extended to all people including the Jews. Nabonidus was captured in Babylon and perhaps exiled. Belshazzar, we know from the biblical account, was killed that night. Then the mysterious Darius the Mede took over the province of Babylon.

5. Daniel is exonerated by his God among the Persians (6:1‑28).

a. The Persians appoint Daniel to a high position and jealousy develops among his peers (6:1‑9).

It would not be unusual for an incoming power to take advantage of the expertise of a man who had ruled this province before. Consequently, Daniel was one of three supervisors of Babylon under the king.17 His detractors decided the only way they could get at him was through his religion. As a result, they enticed the king to make a decree that no one might petition any god or man but the king for thirty days. The penalty was to be thrown to the lions and the decree was irrevocable.

b. Daniel ignores the decree and prays three times a day as was his custom (6:10‑15).

Daniel at his age had already passed the point of worrying about what kings could do to him. He carried on consistently his worship of the Lord as he had been doing since a child. The detractors then pressed for his arrest and reminded a hesitant king that his law was irrevocable.

c. Daniel’s deliverance (6:16‑24).

The king’s appreciation for Daniel and his words to him are both remarkable. He had apparently been greatly impressed in the past with Daniel’s faith, and now encouraged Daniel with the words that his God would deliver him. God protected Daniel from the Lions, and the king, having spent a sleepless night came to the den and rejoiced to find him alive. Daniel gave his testimony to the king. The detractors were thrown into the den with their families.

d. Darius’ testimony to the world (6:25‑28).

Like Nebuchadnezzar (4:1‑3), Darius sent letters throughout the kingdom to give praise to the living God. Daniel continued to prosper under Darius/Cyrus.

6. A vision of beasts (kingdoms), parallel to chapter 2, is given (7:1‑28).

Most commentators will conclude that chapters 2 and 7 are parallel.18 Chapter seven is given in vision form to Daniel whereas chapter two is a dream of Nebuchadnezzar. It is placed here rather than earlier, because it is a part of the visions Daniel saw in his later years. I am keeping it under the second main division of the book (because of its language—Aramaic) though it belongs (stylistically) in the third because the language is still Aramaic. (Chapters 1-6: narratives = God’s sovereignty; Chapters 7-12: visions = God’s work in the future.)

a. The contents of the vision (7:1-14).

Daniel gives a “summary” of the vision. It is given in apocalyptic terms: fantastic animals and activity, to depict real events.

(1) The four winds and the great sea (7:2‑3).

Rev. 7:1‑3 depicts these same four winds in judgmental terms—that is they represent God’s judgment on the earth. Here they symbolize God’s control of the world as the four winds were “stirring up the great sea.” The great sea in the Bible usually refers to the Mediterranean Sea. Out of the sea Daniel sees four beasts coming (חֵיוָן heyvan; Heb.: חַיּוֹת hayyoth). Each beast is different from the other.

(2) The lion (7:4).

The lion had wings like an eagle, but they were pulled out and the lion was stood up (like a man) and a human mind was given to it. (Cf. Jer. 49:19-22, Lion/Eagle, and Daniel 4 where his “wings were clipped”.)

(3) The bear (7:5).

The bear had three ribs in its mouth and rose up on one side. It was told to devour much meat.

(4) The leopard (7:6).

The leopard had four wings on its back and four heads. Dominion was given to it.

(5) The dreadful beast (7:7‑8).

This is the most important of the beasts and the one that will occupy the center of the stage in this chapter. It is not likened to any particular animal, but is said to be dreadful, terrifying and strong. It has large iron teeth. It completely dominates and it has ten horns.

(6) The little horn (7:8).

Out of the ten horns came a little horn. This little horn pulled out three of the ten. He had eyes and a mouth that bragged.   

(7) The Ancient of Days (7:9‑10).

This is a depiction of Yahweh sitting on the throne. Revelation 4‑5 is patterned somewhat after this section. The emphasis is judgment. “The court sat, and the books were opened.”

(8) Judgment on the beasts (7:11‑12).

The little horn kept speaking, but the dreadful beast was slain. The rest of the beasts lost their rule, but they were allowed to live for an appointed time.

(9) The Son of Man (7:13‑14).

Here a very important revelation is given in God’s instruction to Israel about the “coming one.” He is called “one like a son of man” (kebar ’ enash, כְּבַר אֱנָשׁ).19 He comes with the clouds of heaven. (Jesus surely refers to this in Matt. 24:30 and, as a result, is charged with blasphemy). The Son of Man appellation in the Gospels is no doubt based on this verse.20 The Son of Man receives the kingdom. All people, nations, and languages will serve him. His kingdom is eternal. This is one of the clearest messianic statements in the OT.21

b. The interpretation of the vision (7:15‑28).

Daniel was deeply troubled by the vision and approached one of the (angelic) beings standing by to ask the meaning of the vision (7:15‑16).

(1) The apocopated interpretation (7:17‑18).

In general, said the angel, the four beasts refer to kingdoms, and the throne scene represents the fact that the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom.

(2) The fourth, dreadful beast (7:19‑24a).

The focus is on this last beast and in particular on the little horn that comes from it. The little horn troubles Daniel, and he is given more information about it in v. 21. Here he is fighting against the saints and overpowering them. The interpretation, says the angel, represents a fourth kingdom on the earth which will be more powerful than any of its predecessors. The ten horns represent ten kings within that kingdom. But from the ten horns will arise a little horn, different from his predecessors who will subdue three kings.

(3) The little horn (7:24b‑26).

The little horn is obviously the most important element in the vision. He subdues three kings (of the ten); speaks out against God; wears down the saints; changes times and law. The saints will be delivered into his hand “time, times and half a time” (cf. Rev. 12:14). However, when God’s court sits for judgment, the little horn will lose his dominion by destruction.

(4) The triumphal kingdom (7:27).

God’s saints will then rule in the everlasting kingdom with God. All dominions will serve and obey Him.

(5) The conclusion (7:28).

Daniel, at the conclusion of the vision and its interpretation, is greatly disconcerted, but he keeps the contents of the vision to himself.

c. Fuller interpretation of the vision.

Critical to this discussion is the identification of the kingdoms represented in the idol (cf. ch. 2) and the beasts. The critics who insist that Daniel seven through twelve was the product of the Maccabean period, must have the silver represent Media and the Iron represent Persia. The same thing applies to the beasts: the bear must represent Media, and the leopard must represent Persia. The reason is that the awful beast for them must represent the Hellenistic empire and the little horn must represent Antiochus IV Epiphanes. There is no question that the Maccabean era is in view in the book of Daniel, but there is also an eschatological reference that grows out of the type. This will be seen in relating the little horn of chapter eight with the little horn of chapter seven.

In response to this argument, it should be noted that in chapter eight, Daniel depicts the Persian empire as one beast (ram) with two horns. The second horn comes up last and is taller. The second horn of course is Persia (or Cyrus; Daniel exchanges king with kingdom). Cyrus came out of the Median empire and dominated it. The text identifies the one ram as the kings of Media and Persia (8:20). The bear rears on one side, probably to show this division of the empire (cf. also 5:28).

Secondly, the leopard has four heads and four wings. Again in chapter eight, the goat that shattered the Persian ram, obviously Greece with Alexander as the “conspicuous horn,” grows four horns after Alexander’s death. This obviously refers to a four‑fold division of Alexander’s empire after his death (there were more than four at different times, but Daniel focuses on these four). The number four in connection with the leopard should not therefore be passed off as “four kings of the Persians known to the writer.”22 This identification requires that the “dreadful beast” be the Roman empire that follows the Greeks and leads to the dispensational interpretation that Daniel 2, 7, and 9 all conclude with the eschatological era of a “revived” Roman empire and a time of tribulation where the Antichrist wreaks havoc.

Most everyone agrees that the lion represents Nebuchadnezzar and therefore the Babylonian empire.23 The description of the lion (wings plucked; heart of man) may refer to the humbling and restoration of Nebuchadnezzar.

The bear as indicated above refers to the Medo‑Persian empire; not just Media as the critics must maintain. The higher side indicates a rising of one part of the empire over the other. The three ribs may refer to the three main conquests of Cyrus and his son Cambyses (Lydia, Babylon, and Egypt), but this is uncertain.

The leopard refers to the Hellenistic empire established by Alexander the Great and succeeded by his generals (seen by Daniel to be four as in chapter eight: Greece and Macedon, Antipater then Cassander; Thrace and Asia Minor, Lysimachus; Asia except Asia Minor and Palestine, Seleucus; Egypt‑Palestine, Ptolemy).

Finally, the awful beast must be Rome (legs of iron of chapter two), but as in chapter two (feet/toes of iron/clay) there will be an eschatological form of that empire that will have ten horns simultaneously ruling (some kind of federation). From them a blasphemous little horn will arise that will destroy three of the ten horns. He will then rule disastrously.

These kingdoms and all they represent will be brought to a conclusion by the Almighty God. He will establish His kingdom and His people (the Jews) will rule and reign with Him. There will be an awful time of tribulation for the Jewish people, however, before they will triumph. This tribulation is shown typically in the Maccabean period when Antiochus IV Epiphanes persecutes the Jewish people as the first little horn.

C. Emphasis on the Jews as related to the Gentiles (8:1—12:13).

This division is a bit arbitrary since Jews are the centerpiece of the discussion in chapter seven, but it is being maintained because chapter seven is in Aramaic and therefore should be related to the Gentile emphasis of chapters two through seven.

1. The setting for the conflict between Antiochus and the Jews (8:1‑27).

a. The setting of the vision (8:1‑2).

This vision takes place two years later. Daniel is in Susa, the capital of the province called Elam, by the Ulai Canal. Elam maintained her independence from Babylon. Daniel, was therefore either there on official business of some kind or he was there in the vision.

b. The contents of the vision (8:3‑14).

Daniel first of all sees a ram with two horns. The second comes up higher than the first. The ram dominates the world (8:3‑4). He then sees a goat. The goat moves fast and has a conspicuous horn. The goat fights and defeats the ram. The goat magnifies himself, but the horn is broken and four horns take its place (8:5‑8).

A small horn arises that will attack in all directions including the “beautiful land,” i.e., Israel. He will attack the host of heaven and bring some stars to the earth. He will equate himself with the commander of the host. He will remove the regular sacrifice and damage the place of the sanctuary. The army and the regular sacrifice will be stopped. The suspension of the regular sacrifice along with the sin that causes horror (hapesha‘ shomem הַפֶּשַׁע שׁמֵם) will last for 2300 evenings and mornings. Then the holy place will be restored (8:9‑14).

c. The interpretation of the vision (8:15‑26).

Now the vision bypasses Babylon. The images are: ram=Medo‑Persia; goat=Greece; four horns=Alexander’s successors; little horn=a king who shall arise in the latter part of their reign. His work against the people of God has already been presented. Here the little horn must be Antiochus IV Epiphanes who comes from Alexander’s successors. “The time of the end” (17‑18) normally means the eschatological future, but how is that to be applied to 165 B.C.? It seems to me with Wood (Daniel) that this phrase is used because of the fact that Antiochus is presented as a type of the Antichrist. Therefore, while chapter eight refers primarily to the Maccabean era, it is also typical of the “end times” when the Antichrist will be active (cf. also v. 13: “How long . . .”)24

“This evidently refers to the career of Antiochus IV Epiphanes . . . who usurped the Seleucid throne from his nephew (son of his older brother, Seleucus IV) and succeeded in invading Egypt 170‑169 B.C. His expeditions against rebellious elements in Parthia and Armenia were initially successful ‘to the east’ as well, and his determination to impose religious and cultural uniformity on all his domains led to a brutal suppression of Jewish worship at Jerusalem and generally throughout Palestine (here referred to as ‘the Beautiful Land’) . . . This suppression came to a head in December 168 B.C., when Antiochus returned in frustration from Alexandria, where he had been turned back by the Roman commander Popilius Laenas, and vented his exasperation on the Jews. He sent his general, Apollonius, with twenty thousand troops under orders to seize Jerusalem on a Sabbath. There he erected an idol of Zeus and desecrated the altar by offering swine on it. This idol became known to the Jews as ‘the abomination of desolation’ . . . which served as a type of a future abomination that will be set up in the Jerusalem sanctuary to be built in the last days (cf. Christ’s prediction in Matt 24:15).”25

The interpretation of the little horn given by the angel is rather general and does not give us the answers we need to understand 8:9‑14. Interpreters are left to struggle with the fulfillment of these verses and everyone has some trouble with them.

The language of 8:10‑11 should be understood figuratively of Antiochus’ attacks on the Jewish people. The Prince of the Host (Host referring to the army of God’s people) refers to God, and the stars must refer to God’s people.

Antiochus defiled the temple in 167 B.C. It was restored exactly three years later.26 The 2300 days are the most difficult part of the interpretation. No one is comfortable with the meanings they try to attach to them. Some divide them in half (1150 mornings and 1150 evenings). This would approximate the three year desolation. It is not at all normal for the Hebrew to state time in this fashion, however. Others take the time to be 2300 twenty‑four hour days, but struggle to find a terminus a quo. This is usually taken to be 171, when Onias the legitimate high priest, was murdered. The six plus years would terminate with the death of Antiochus in 164 B.C. when the temple was cleansed.

d. The effect of the vision (8:27).

Daniel is told to keep the vision secret. This may help account for the reason it is in Hebrew. It of course is to be read in the time of tribulation as an encouragement to the people of God. Daniel was exhausted and sick for days. That “there was none to explain it” means only that the fulfillment of the prophecy is unknown. The general meaning is clear, the time and specific events are not.

Why would a sixth century prophet be so concerned with second century events? One facet of prophetic utterance is to provide comfort for the future. The Jewish persecution of the second century was so similar to events of the Eschaton that God apparently wanted to provide comfort for the second century saints as well as to provide a paradigm for the events of the last days.

2. Daniel meditates on Jeremiah’s prophecy of seventy weeks and is given the prophecy of seventy heptads in answer to prayer (9:1‑27).

a. The time is the first year of Darius the Mede given to the exiles. Daniel has been reading Jeremiah 29 and working from 605 B.C. concludes that the 70 years are almost up (605‑70=535) (9:1‑2).

b. The result of this meditation was that Daniel prayed for his people and his city (9:3‑19).

He appeals to the Lord as the great and awesome God and to His work revealed in covenant and loving kindness. These are two very significant words we have encountered before. which ought to be 539 when Cyrus came into Babylon (or 538 on the non‑ascension system). This would be in conjunction with the decree to return Covenant (berith, בְּרִית) reminds us of the Abrahamic covenant as well as the Mosaic covenant to which he refers directly in this verse (Exod. 20:5,6). Loving kindness (ḥesed, חֶסֶד) is that oft‑recurring word describing God’s grace to His people (9:3-4).27

Daniel identifies with his people in their sin even though he was not personally involved in it: sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly, rebelled, forsaking God’s commandments, and as though that were not enough, they have refused to listen to the prophets (9:5‑6).

Daniel contrasts the holiness of God with the shame of Israel. He argues that the present calamity of Israel in exile is due to their disobedience of this holy God. He indicates that this disaster is a fulfillment of the curse in Deut. 27:15‑26 (9:7‑16).

Daniel appeals to God’s historical compassion in bringing Israel out of Egypt. He prays for God on the basis of His compassion to forgive Israel and to take action on her behalf (9:17‑19).

c. God sends His angel Gabriel with a message to Daniel in answer to his prayer about the restoration of Israel (9:20‑23).

God answered Daniel’s prayer while he was praying and confessing and presenting his supplication in behalf of Israel and the “holy mountain of God.” The answer came through the angel Gabriel late in the day while Daniel was extremely weary (9:20‑21).

The purpose of the instruction is to give Daniel insight haskil, הַשְׂכִּיל) with understanding (binah, בִּינָה). Gabriel was sent out as soon as Daniel began to pray because of the spiritual stature to which he has attained (9:22‑23).

d. God reveals his plans in behalf of Israel through the seventy heptads (9:24‑27).

The overview is given first: Seventy heptads (shavu‘im shive‘im, nehtach hapax meaning in later Hebrew, “to cut” or “divide” and then “to decide”) upon your people, that is the Jewish people and upon your holy city, that is Jerusalem. It is important to note the objects of the fulfillment of the seventy heptads (9:24a).28

Six things are to be accomplished during these seventy heptads. They are divided into two groups. The first group deals with sin.

Finish transgression

End sin

Atone for iniquity

(lekala’ hapesha‘ )

(lehatem hatta’th )

(lekapper ‘awon )

Note that in Hebrew each statement is a terse two word phrase.

The second group of accomplishments also has three units, but the phrases are longer: three words each.

To bring in everlasting righteousness (lehabi’ tsedek ‘olamim,לְהָבִיא צֶדֶק עוֹלָמִים).

To seal up the vision and prophet (lahtom hazon venabi’, לַחְתּם חָזוֹן וְנָבִיא).

To anoint the holy of holies (limshoah qodesh qodashim, וְלִמְשׁחַ קדֶשׁ קָדָשִׁים).

The first group deals with the sin problem. Israel must have redemption. The prayer of Daniel was for the forgiveness of sin. This is the answer to that prayer. God’s purpose for Israel during the seventy heptads is to deal with sin. Finish transgression means to cut it off to terminate it. Sin will be dealt with, and an atonement will be made for iniquity. This refers to the work of Christ at the cross, but the application of that work to national Israel will take place in the future.

The second group deals with the effect of Christ’s redemptive work for Israel. Everlasting righteousness will be brought in, there will be no further need for a prophet or a vision,29 and the temple will be reconstructed and anointed for service.

The termini of the periods must be observed carefully: the first element is the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. This should be linked with Nehemiah who was permitted by Artaxerxes to come to Jerusalem to rebuild it in 445 B.C. The terminus ad quem is Messiah the Prince and the time between the termini is 69 heptads (why it is 7 + 62 is not really clear. Some try to find a historical event after the seven, but there is nothing known that would be significant). Working on the presupposition that these are heptads of years, we would be talking about 483 Julian years. These are adjusted through the lunar system, etc., to bring us to the time of Christ.

The sixty‑nine heptads are terminated with the cutting off of the Messiah (we believe Christ). Then the city and the temple will be destroyed (yashhith, יַשְׁחִית—corrupted) by the coming people of the prince. The question is “what prince, what people?” If the people refers to the Romans who destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D., who is the prince? The revived Roman empire theory would argue that this represents a latter day Roman (the Antichrist).

The Prince will strengthen (higbir, shiqutsim, שִׁקּוּצִים). Since the book of Revelation speaks of “time/times/ and a half of time, twelve hundred and sixty days and forty two months,” we conclude that the last heptad and particularly the last half of it is being referred to in Revelation 6‑19 as the great tribulation.

3. Daniel prays for wisdom about the future of his people and has his prayer answered by an angel (10:1‑21).

a. The setting of the vision (10:1‑9).

Daniel relates that after three weeks of fasting and praying, God sent a messenger to him to reveal to him things about the future. The detailed description of the angel (10:5‑6) is unique in Scripture. This vision took place in the third year of Cyrus (about 536 B.C. since Daniel is reckoning from the fall of Babylon). Daniel’s response to the angel is to fall into a deep sleep.

b. Daniel is prepared to receive the instruction (10:10‑17).

Some very unusual information is given about angelic warfare in this section. This angel was apparently sent by God to answer Daniel’s prayer as soon as it began (three weeks before), but he was hindered by the “prince of the kingdom of Persia.” This suggests that nations are influenced by evil forces. This fallen angel attacked the angel sent to Daniel and held him up until Michael the Archangel came to help him. The message pertains to the latter days; the days yet future (10:14). The angel touched Daniel’s lips, and Daniel began to speak.

c. The angel strengthens Daniel and begins to give him the mystery (10:18‑21).

The angel says he must return to take up battle with the “Persian prince” and mentions that a “Greek prince” is coming. Only Michael (Israel’s angel) stands with him against these evil forces.

4. The angel tells Daniel about events of the future during the Maccabean period (a time of tribulation) and during the last days (the time of tribulation) (11:1‑45).

The text of Daniel 11 is laid out with interpretative comments in the second column. The chapter may be divided into four units.30

a. First period: Persia to Alexander, 539 B.C. to 323 B.C. (1-4).

b. Second period: Struggle of the Ptolemies and Seleucids, 323 B.C. to 175 B.C. (5-20).

c. Third period: Antiochus IV Epiphanes, 175 B.C. to 164 B.C. (21-35).

d. Fourth period: Eschatological period called the Great Tribulation (36-45).

Daniel 11

Interpretation

1 And in the first year of Darius the Mede, I arose to be an encouragement and a protection for him.

2 And now I will tell you the truth, Behold, three more kings are going to arise in Persia. Then a fourth will gain far more riches than all of them; as soon as he becomes strong through his riches, he will arouse the whole empire against the realm of Greece.

Cambyses II (529-522), Gaumata (522-521), Darius I Hystaspes (521-486)

Xerxes (486-465)

3 And a mighty king will arise, and he will rule with great authority and do as he pleases.

Alexander the Great (d. 323 B.C.)

4 But as soon as he has arisen, his kingdom will be broken up and parceled out toward the four points of the compass, though not to his own descendants, nor according to his authority which he wielded; for his sovereignty will be uprooted and given to others besides them.

Alexander’s death

Four ultimate divisions (Hellenistic empires)

His generals

5 Then the king of the South will grow strong, along with one of his princes who will gain ascendancy over him and obtain dominion; his domain will be a great dominion indeed.

Ptolemy I Soter (323-285)

Seleucus I Nicator (312-281) joined with Ptolemy against Antigonus and took over his territory.

6 And after some years they will form an alliance, and the daughter of the king of the South will come to the king of the North to carry out a peaceful arrangement. But she will not retain her position of power, but she will be given up, along with those who brought her in, and the one who sired her, as well as he who supported her in those times.

Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285-246) Berenice married Antiochus II Theos (261-246)

Antiochus II divorced his wife Laodice to marry Berenice. Two years later Ptolemy II died. Antiochus II took back Laodice who murdered Antiochus, Berenice and their infant son.

7 But one of the descendants of her line will arise in his place, and he will come against their army and enter the fortress of the king of the North and he will deal with them and display great strength.

Ptolemy III Euergetes (246-221)

  (Brother of Berenice)

Seleucus Callinicus (247-226)

8 And also their gods with their metal images and their precious vessels of silver and gold he will take into captivity to Egypt, and he on his part will refrain from attacking the king of the North for some years.

Heb: “stand from”

9 Then the latter will enter the realm of the king of the South, but will return to his own land.

Heb: “And he (Seleucus Callinicus) shall come into the kingdom of the south (unsuccessfully) and return home”

10 And his sons will mobilize and assemble a multitude of great forces; and one of them will keep on coming and overflow and pass through, that he may again wage war up to his very fortress.

Seleucus’ “sons” or successors waged war against Egypt. Seleucus III (226-223) and Antiochus III the Great (223-187) took land as far south as Gaza.

11 And the king of the South will be enraged and go forth and fight with the king of the North. Then the latter will raise a great multitude, but that multitude will be given into the hand of the former.

Ptolemy Philopater (221-203) assembled an army and routed the Syrians.

12 When the multitude is carried away, his heart will be lifted up, and he will cause tens of thousands to fall; yet he will not prevail.

However, Ptolemy did not pursue his advantage.

13 For the king of the North will again raise a greater multitude than the former, and after an interval of some years he will press on with a great army and much equipment.

Antiochus III comes back fourteen years later against a new and young Ptolemy (201).

14 Now in those times many will rise up against the king of the South; the violent ones among your people will also lift themselves up in order to fulfill the vision, but they will fall down.

Jewish people who join with the Syrians against Egypt and thus pave the way for their own future disaster. Thus they “establish the vision.”

15 Then the king of the North will come, cast up a siege mound, and capture a well-fortified city; and the forces of the South will not stand their ground, not even their choicest troops, for there will be no strength to make a stand.

Antiochus III defeated Egypt twice. Sidon is the fenced city where the Egyptians were forced to surrender.

16 But he who comes against him will do as he pleases, and no one will be able to withstand him; he will also stay for a time in the Beautiful Land, with destruction in his hand.

17 And he will set his face to come with the power of his whole kingdom, bringing with him a proposal of peace which he will put into effect; he will also give him the daughter of women to ruin it. But she will not take a stand for him or be on his side.

Rome forced Antiochus’ hand, and he made a treaty with Egypt, giving his daughter, Cleopatra, to Ptolemy V Epiphanes (192). “It” may refer to the land of Egypt which Antiochus hoped to destroy through his daughter. However, she always sided with her husband.

18 Then he will turn his face to the coastlands and capture many. But a commander will put a stop to his scorn against him; moreover, he will repay him for his scorn.

Coastlands: Greece; Antiochus III tried to defeat Greece and lost, thus opening an opportunity for Rome (commander) to intervene. Rome declared war (190 B.C.)

19 So he will turn his face toward the fortresses of his own land, but he will stumble and fall and be found no more.

Antiochus III dies.

20 Then in his place one will arise who will send an oppressor through the Jewel of his kingdom; yet within a few days he will be shattered, though neither in anger nor in battle.

Seleucus Philopater had to raise taxes from the Jews to pay the Romans tribute.

21 And in his place a despicable person will arise, on whom the honor of the kingship has not been conferred, but he will come in a time of tranquility and seize the kingdom by intrigue.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164), the little horn of Daniel 8.

Onias III (high priest, orthodox)

Jason (brother, liberal bought high priesthood)

22 And the overflowing forces will be flooded away before him and shattered, and also the prince of the covenant.

Several battles with Egypt, won by Antiochus IV

Probably refers to the High Priest, Onias, deposed by Antiochus in 172 B.C.

23 And after an alliance is made with him he will practice deception, and he will go up and gain power with a small force of people.

Intrigue by Antiochus in the internal power struggles of Egypt.

24 In a time of tranquility he will enter the richest parts of the realm, and he will accomplish what his fathers never did, nor his ancestors; he will distribute plunder, booty, and possessions among them, and he will devise his schemes against strongholds, but only for a time.

Antiochus was eventually able to defeat the Egyptians.

The Egyptian king will not be able to continue in his office.

25 And he will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South with a large army; so the king of the South will mobilize an extremely large and mighty army for war; but he will not stand, for schemes will be devised against him.

26 And those who eat his choice food will destroy him, and his army will overflow, but many will fall down slain.

Even the Ptolemy’s supporters conspired against him.

27 As for both kings, their hearts will be intent on evil, and they will speak lies to each other at the same table; and it will not succeed, for the end is still to come at the appointed time.

Various treaties between Antiochus and Ptolemy will not be honored by either.

28 Then he will return to his land with much plunder; but his heart will be set against the holy covenant, and he will take action and then return to his own land.

Antiochus will turn to persecute the Jews.

29 At the appointed time he will return and come into the South, but this last time it will not turn out the way it did before.

Appointed by God. He will not have as much success as previously.

30 For ships of the Kittim will come against him; therefore he will be disheartened, and will return and become enraged at the holy covenant and take action; so he will come back and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant.

From the islands; in this case Rome. The Roman Consul, Gaius Popilius Laenas, met Antiochus and ordered his return to Syria. He reportedly drew a circle around him and told him to decide while in the circle. He returned and made a pact with renegade Jews (1 Mac. 2:18).

31 And forces from him will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifice. And they will set up the abomination of desolation.

1 Mac. 1:44-54 says he offered a sow on the altar and erected an idol in the holy place (cf. Matt. 24:15; Dan. 8:23-25) 167 B.C.

32 And by smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will display strength and take action.

Believing Jews reacted to the persecution and fought.

33 And those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many; yet they will fall by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plunder, for many days.

Believing Jews will suffer much for their faith.

34 Now when they fall they will be granted a little help, and many will join with them in hypocrisy.

35 And some of those who have insight will fall, in order to refine, purge, and make them pure, until the end time; because it is still to come at the appointed time.

Suffering purifies the saints.

36 Then the king will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god, and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done.

From this point on, the correspondence to Maccabean history ceases. Consequently, this section is assumed to point to the future. It must have reference to the Antichrist.* Antiochus IV was typical of the great persecutor to come. This section speaks of the actual Antichrist.

37 And he will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the desire of women, nor will he show regard for any other god; for he will magnify himself above them all.

This phrase leads some to believe that this ruler is an apostate Jew in the latter days. It probably means only that he ignores all deities. Cf. 2 Thes. 2, Rev. 13:1-10; Daniel 7 (little horn).

“Desire of women”: Either a deity (Tammuz/Adonis) or (Jewish) women’s desire, viz., the Messiah. “God of fortresses” militarism.

38 But instead he will honor a god of fortresses, a god whom his fathers did not know; he will honor him with gold, silver, costly stones, and treasures.

39 And he will take action against the strongest of fortresses with the help of a foreign god; he will give great honor to those who acknowledge him, and he will cause them to rule over the many, and will parcel out land for a price.

40 And at the end time the king of the South will collide with him, and the king of the North will storm against him with chariots, with horsemen, and with many ships; and he will enter countries, overflow them, and pass through.

The Antichrist is being attacked from the north and south (Russia/Egypt?).

41 He will also enter the Beautiful Land, and many countries will fall; but these will be rescued out of his hand: Edom, Moab and the foremost of the sons of Ammon

“Beautiful land” refers to Israel.

42 Then he will stretch out his hand against other countries, and the land of Egypt will not escape.

43 But he will gain control over the hidden treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; and the Libyans and Ethiopians will follow at his heels.

44 But rumors from the East and from the North will disturb him, and he will go forth with great wrath to destroy and annihilate many.

Rev. 9:13-21?

45 And he will pitch the tents of his royal pavilion between the seas and the beautiful Holy Mountain; yet he will come to this end, and no one will help him.

His royal pavilion: Jerusalem between the Mediterranean and Dead Seas.

The Antichrist will come to an end with the advent of Christ (Revelation 19).

*Hartman and DiLella, AB Daniel, p. 303, say, “The present section contains no historical information at all, but purports rather to be a genuine prediction of events to happen after this apocalypse was composed and presumably circulated among the faithful. The trouble is that nothing in these verses matches the actual course of history as it is known from other sources . . . In addition to this exegesis of 11:40-45, which is shared by most modern authors except the fundamentalist, . . . (3) the entire section, 11:36-45, deals not with Antiochus but with the future Antichrist and his death.”

Excursus:  Texts on the events of the Year 143 = 169 B.C.

Daniel

1 Mac 1, 4

Wars 33

Antiquities XII

11:28 Then he will return to his land with much plunder; but his heart will be set against the holy covenant and he will take action and then he will return and come into the South, but this last time it will not turn out the way it did before. 30 For ships of Kittim will come against him; therefore, he will be disheartened, and will return and become enraged at the holy covenant and take action;

so he will come back and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant.

31 And forces from him will arise and desecrate the sanctuary fortress and do away with the regular sacrifice. And they will set up the abomination of desolation

[Since the rededication is not mentioned in Daniel, critics assume the date 165 (169-3.5=165.5) for the date of the book.]

20 While returning from his conquest of Egypt in the year 143, Antiochus marched against (Israel and) Jerusalem with a strong army.... 21 Arrogantly entering the temple, he took the golden altar and the candelabrum with all its furnishings 22 and the table for the showbread and the libation jars and the bowls and the golden ladles and the curtain. He stripped off all the cornices and the ornamentation of gold from the front of the temple 23 and took the silver and the gold coin and the precious articles, whatever he found of the treasures on deposit. 24 With all this loot he returned to his own country, having polluted himself with massacres and uttered words of great arrogance.

44 The king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the towns of Judah ... to put a stop to burnt offerings and meal offering and libation in the temple ... 47 to build illicit altars and illicit temples and idolatrous shrines, to sacrifice swine and ritually unfit animals, 52 Many from among the people gathered around the officers, every forsaker of the Torah, and they committed wicked acts in the land.

54 On the fifteenth day of Kislev in the year 145 the king had an abomination of desolation built upon the altar ... 59 as on the twenty-fifth day of the month they would offer sacrifices on the illicit altar which was upon the temple altar.

4:52 They rose early on the morning of the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month (that is, the month of Kislev), in the year 148 [164 B.C.] 53 and they brought a sacrifice according to the Torah upon the new altar of burnt offerings which they had built. 54 At the very time of year and on the very day on which the Gentiles had profaned the altar, it was dedicated.

Onias, one of the chief priests, gaining the upper hand expelled the sons of Tobias from the city. The latter took refuge with Anti. and besought him to use their services as guides for an invasion of Judaea. The king, having long cherished this design, consented, and setting out at the head of a huge army took the city by assault, slew a large number of Ptolemy’s followers, gave his soldiers unrestricted license to pillage, and himself plundered the temple and interrupted for a period of 3 yrs and 6 months the regular course of the daily sacrifices.

248 Two yrs later, as it happened in the 145th yr [167 B.C.] on the 25th day of month Casleu ... the king went up to Jer. and by pretending to offer peace, overcame the city by treachery... 252 The king also built a pagan altar upon the temple altar, and slaughtered swine thereon, thereby practicing a form of sacrifice neither lawful nor native to the religion of the Jews. And he compelled them to give up the worship of their own God ...

319f They kindled the lights on the lamp stand and burned incense on the altar and set out the loaves on the table and offered whole burnt-offerings upon the new altar. These things, as it chanced, took place on the same day on which, 3 years before, their holy service had been transformed into an impure and profane form of worship. For the temple, after being made desolate by Antiochus, had remained so for 3 years; it was the 145th year that these things befell the temple ... And the temple was renovated on the same day, in the 148th year ... in accordance with the prophecy of Daniel.

5. The climax of the vision is given (12:1‑13).

a. The great tribulation (12:1).

Michael, who seems to have a special assignment to the people of Israel will arise (probably in protection) because there will be an unprecedented time of tribulation coming upon the Jewish people. Yet those whose names are “written in the book” will be rescued. This tribulation is tied in with the seventieth seven of 9:24‑27. Its most intense form is in the second half of the seven year period. This period is called “time, times, and a half of time,” “twelve hundred and sixty days,” and “forty-two months” (see Revelation 11, 12).

b. There will be a resurrection of the OT saints at the end of the tribulation according to 12:2.

The life of these saints will be rewarded in their eternal state. Daniel is told to hide the words and seal up the book until the end of time. These words will become significant in that distant time of trouble.

c. Time elements in the Tribulation period (12:5‑13).

Daniel overhears two men talking about the time frame for these amazing events. One swears that it will be for time, times and half a time (three and one half years). Daniel asks about the outcome of these events. He is told to go his way because these things are for a future time. During that time, many will be purged and they will understand the significance of the events at that time. Twelve hundred and ninety days will expire from the time of the abolition of the regular sacrifice and the setting up of the abomination of desolation (horrible idol). The second half of the tribulation will be twelve hundred and sixty days. What the other thirty days are for is not clear. Jesus speaks of this abomination in Matt. 24:15 where he is speaking of the coming tribulation period. It is therefore yet future for Israel. It would appear (see the discussion in chapter 9) that the Antichrist (man of sin, 2 Thes. 2) will make a covenant with the Jews for a seven year period. He will probably be instrumental in allowing them to build the temple. In the middle of the seven year period, he will break the covenant (as the new temple is being dedicated?) and will enter the temple and sit as god. He will then vent his rage on the Jewish people (Rev. 12).

Verse 12 speaks of the blessedness of those who come to the thirteen hundred and thirty-fifth day. These additional days will no doubt be used in the preparation for the millennium. Those who participate in the inauguration of that glorious age are blessed indeed!

Legend

1Little is known about this Philip except that he was the first husband of Herodias (Matt. 14:3).

2Antipas ruled Galilee and Peraea (Luke 3:1; 13:32). He divorced his Nabatean wife to marry Herodias who was married to his brother Philip.1 He was banished by Caligula.

3Herod’s will had to be confirmed by Augustus. Archelaus, called an Ethnarch, was given Judea, Samaria and Idumea (Matt. 2:22). He was later banished to Gaul, and Judea was ruled by Procurators (6-37 A.D.)

4Philip ruled Batanea, Trachonitis, Auranitis, Gaulanitis, Panias and Iturea (Luke 3).

5Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod the Great, eventually came into control of all the territory of Herod. He received Philip’s4 territory in 37 A.D., Antipas’2 in 39 A.D., and finally Judea and Samaria in 40 A. D. He is mentioned in Acts 12:19. His daughter Drusilla married the Roman governor Felix (Acts 24:24). He died in 44 A.D.

6During the minority of Agrippa II, Judea was again ruled by procurators.

7Agrippa II (Acts 25:13; 26:32) eventually received control of the old territory. He carried on an incestuous relationship with his sister Bernice. His kingdom went down in 70 A.D. He sided with Rome and retired in 70 A.D.

Chronology of the Hellenistic Period

334-323

Alexander the Great conquers the East.

330

Macedonian conquest of Palestine.

311

Seleucus conquers Babylon. Beginning of the Seleucid dynasty.

223-187

Antiochus III, the Great, Seleucid ruler of Syria.

202

Rome defeats Carthage at Zama.

198

Antiochus III defeats Egypt, gains control of Palestine.

175-163

Antiochus IV, Epiphanes, rules Syria-Palestine. Proscribes Judaism. Persecution of the orthodox Jews.

168

Battle of Pydna. Romans defeat the Macedonians.

167

Mattathias and his sons rebel against the Syrians. Beginning of the Maccabean Revolt.

166-160

Leadership of Judas Maccabeus.

160-142

Jonathan the High Priest.

146

Scipio Africanus destroys Carthage. Rome controls western Mediterranean.

142-135

Simon, the High Priest.

134-104

John Hyrcanus, son of Simon, High Priest and King.

103

Aristobulus.

102-76

Alexander Jannaeus.

75-67

Salome Alexandra ruler; Hyrcanus II High Priest.

66-63

Aristobulus II. Dynastic battle with Hyrcanus II.

64

Pompey invades Palestine. Arbitrates fate of Hasmoneans and Judeans. Roman rule begins.

63-40

Hyrcanus II rules, subject to Rome. Antipater exercises increasing power.

40-37

Parthians conquer Jerusalem. Establish Antigonus as High Priest and King.

37-4

Herod the Great, son of Antipater, rules as king, subject to Rome.

31

Battle of Actium. Octavian emerges as ruler of the Roman world.


1See John J. Collins, Daniel With an Introduction to Apocalyptic Literature, 20 in The Forms of the Old Testament Literature, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984.

2Desmond Ford, Daniel, Nashville: Southern Publishing Association, 1978, p. 61. For further discussion on this issue, see J. Baldwin, Daniel, in the Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Downers Grove, IL: 1978, pp. 46-59.

3See Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary, 264, where Graybill says the tablets in ANET come from Nebuchadnezzar’s time and hence Amelu-Marduk merely increased the allowance.

4See CAH, 3:212-225.

5 See John Whitcomb, Darius the Mede for a defense. See Wiseman/Kitchen, Notes on Some Problems in the Book of Daniel.

6Greek authors say that Cyrus was 40 in 560 B.C. when he became King of the Persians. This would make him 61/62 in 539 B.C. But Cook, History of the Persian Empire, p. 256, believes he was younger.

7See R. D. Wilson, Studies in Daniel and D. J. Wiseman, et al., Notes on Some Problems in the Book of Daniel for an excellent discussion of all these issues.

8A. Lenglet, “La Structure Litéraire de Daniel 2-7,” Biblica, 53, 1972, pp. 169-190.

9See Wilson, Studies in the Book of Daniel for a detailed discussion of the historical issues raised in these two verses. Also D. J. Wiseman, p. 8, on Hatti Land.

10Cf. Jeremiah 29 a well as the Joseph accounts.

11See, e.g., Hartman and Di Lella, Daniel¸ AB.

12In CAH, 3:217, f.n. 1.

13C. H. W. Johns, E.Bi., col. 3371.

14Wiseman, Nebuchadrezzar and Babylon, 102.

15See ANET, 312-314.

16See Wiseman, Nebuchadrezzar and Babylon.

17On Satraps, see Wilson, Studies n the Book of Daniel, 175ff.

18See, e.g., Archer, “Daniel,” EBC and Hartman and Di Lella, Daniel, AB.

19“Like” is also used of the beast. It is used here to demonstrate that the person who comes to the Ancient of Days has humanness. Consequently, the saints are represented by the one “like” the son of man, and are mentioned exclusively in the following verses. Cf. Mosca, Biblica 67 (1986) 496-517.

20 But the concept also figures large in the pseudepigraphal book 1 Enoch. See J. H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 1:9 for a discussion and texts.

21But see Hartman and Di Lella, Daniel, AB, who deny it any messianic meaning except in the most general sense of future deliverance.

22Hartman and Di Lella, Daniel, AB.

23For a different view: Assyria, Media, Medo-Persia, Greece, see J. H. Walton, “The Four Kingdoms of  Daniel,” JETS 29 (1986:25-36).

24Baldwin, Daniel, believes that “end” refers to historical end of rebellion when God intervenes in Judgment. She refers to Amos 8:2; Ezek. 7:2-6 to point out that there are intermediate “ends” and final “ends.”

25Archer, “Daniel,” p. 98. On the hellenization attempts of Antiochus IV Epiphanes as a desperate attempt to maintain Greek dominance in the face of growing orientalism, see CAH 7:188-89.

26Josephus, Jewish Antiquities XII, 319.

27See my Hosea notes (under “IV. Outline of Hosea”, Section “B”, Number “3”) for this word.

28Montgomery (Daniel in ICC, p. 397) cites Jerome that the Jews of his day interpreted the seventieth week as applying to the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D.

29Baldwin, Daniel, believes the sealing refers to the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy.

30See “DSS, Part I: Archaeology of Biblical MSS,” BA 49 (1986): 140-154 for a chart from 200 B.C. to A.D.

Related Topics: History, Introductions, Arguments, Outlines, Prophets