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Notes on the Book of Daniel: Chapter 8, Part 2

Posted by lehunt on December 27, 2015

Antiochus IV Epiphanes // Larry Hunt Bible Commentary

Coin of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. 

v. 14: This episode refers to Antiochus IV and his persecution of the Jews, but there are several similar episodes and periods of time mentioned in Daniel.  I list them below.  (See notes in the respective chapters for my justification for interpreting the various kings and kingdoms as I do).

Daniel 7:25 – The time that the arrogant little horn (a “king”) of the fourth beast (Rome) will “speak words against the Most High and oppress the holy ones of the Most High” = a time, times, and half a time, i.e.,  3 and ½ years or 1,260 days (in years whose months have 30 days each).

Daniel 8:14 – The time that begins when the arrogant little horn (a “king”) sprouting from the goat (Alexander’s Macedonian/Greek empire) abolishes the daily sacrifice and sets up of the Abomination of Desolation, and ends with the cleansing of the temple = 2,300 evenings and mornings, or 2,300 days.  (Genesis 1 counts time the same way, saying an evening and a morning to mean one day.)

Daniel 9:27 – The time beginning when a Roman “prince” will put a stop to sacrifice and offering and set up the abomination of desolation in the temple, and ending when “the decreed destruction” is poured out” on the prince = half a week’s worth of years (i.e., 3 ½ years.)

Daniel 12:7 – A time ending “when the power of the holy people is shattered” = a time, times, and half a time, i.e., 3 and ½ years or 1,260 days (in years whose months have 30 days each).

Daniel 12:11 – A time beginning when “the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up” and ending, presumably, when the abomination is taken away and the daily sacrifice reestablished = 1,290 days i.e., 3 and ½ years including the extra month that the Hebrew calendar adds every 2 or three years.

Daniel 12:12 – A time of 1,335 days (3 years and 8 ½ months in years whose months have 30 days each) the end of which marks a point of blessedness for those who reach it.

In general, here is what I think is going on with these periods of time.  In 167 B.C. the Greek king Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) issued a decree forbidding, under penalty of death, the practice of Judaism.  Later that same year, he set up what Daniel and the books of Maccabees call the “abomination of desolation” in the holy temple.  This was an altar to Zeus on which the Greeks later made unholy sacrifices.  The period of time from the issuing of the decree to Antiochus’s death and the rededication of the temple was about 3 ½ years.  This event serves to foreshadow a later event, similar in kind but greater in degree.  This later event takes place under a Roman king, not a Greek one.  Antiochus, the Greek king, defiled the temple, but this Roman will destroy the city and sanctuary (9:26).  It is to this later, Roman event that Jesus’s “abomination of desolation” (Matthew 24:15) alludes.  I believe the Roman event is either the crucifixion of Jesus (the destruction of the temple, in a sense – John 2:19) by Pontius Pilate or the destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D. (see notes on 9:27).  I also believe that the destruction of the temple itself (whether metaphorically in Jesus’s body, or literally in the actual building) could foreshadow still other horrible and blasphemous events during the reign of the Antichrist (see notes on Daniel 9:27, Revelation 11, and Matthew 24).

Accordingly, I believe that 12:7, 12:11, and 12:12 refer to the event surrounding the Antichrist, 7:25 and 9:27 refer to the Roman event, and only 8:14 refers to the Greek one under Antiochus.  Strangely, the time given for 8:14 is 2,300 days, which comes to 6 years and 110 days (in years of 365 days each) or 6 years 140 days (in years of 360 days each), not 3 ½ years.  I do not understand why.  Dancy suggests that 2,300 “evenings and mornings,” should be 1,150 days (24).  This would come to a little over 3 years (3 years and 2 months, roughly), but I do not see how he justifies the division of 2,300 based on the idiomatic phrase “evenings and mornings.”  The first chapter of Genesis uses one “evening and morning” to signify one day; I do not see why the same would not be true here.

The periods of time themselves are accurate predictions of these events, but they are also rounded figures with symbolic significance, so I do not believe they are attempting to be exactly accurate to the very day. (See my note about Jesus’s period of death in the notes on 9:25).  Having said that, here are the significant periods of time within the career of Antiochus IV.  (See also the supplemental timelines at the end of the Daniel notes.)

Time from the beginning of Antiochus’s reign to his death[1] and the cleansing of the temple = 11 years

Time from the beginning of Antiochus’s reign to the plundering of the temple in 169 B.C. = 6 years

Time from the plundering of the temple in 169 B.C. to Antiochus’s death and the cleansing of the temple = 5 years

Time from the vengeful and bloody attacks on Jerusalem (168 B.C.) which made the temple “desolate as a wilderness” (I Maccabees 1:29-40, II Maccabees 5:5-14) to Antiochus’s death and the cleansing of the temple = 4 years

Time from the issuing of the decree forbidding the practice of Judaism to Antiochus’s death and the cleansing of the temple = over 3 years.[2]

Time from the erection of the abomination of desolation to the cleansing of the temple = 3 years and 7-10 days

Time from the first offering of pagan sacrifice to the cleansing of the temple = 3 years (give or take 2 or 3 days[3]).

v. 16: It is interesting that in this book, which is so concerned with the coming of the eternal kingdom and its ruler, Gabriel should appear.  It was Gabriel who brought the news of Christ’s birth to Mary.

v. 27: It seems strange that Daniel would react this way to the dream. To say that the vision was beyond understanding makes me hesitant to interpret it with surety (even though I have the perspective of time).  And his sickness is also remarkable.  It must have been a very taxing experience, even though the events described in the vision were in the “distant future.”  He seems to have this reaction in 7:28 as well.


[1] Antiochus probably died anywhere from a month to just a few days before the cleansing of the temple (Bartlett 64).

[2] I agree with Bartlett that this is probably 3 ½ years since that number so often occurs in Daniel, but I get this by counting backwards from the cleansing of the temple.  I do not see that Bartlett cites a source outside of Daniel which says this decree went out in the summer (which would make it 3 ½ years from the cleansing of the temple in December).  From Josephus’s time of 3 years and 3 months, Dancy deduces the date of the decree to be mid-October (24).

[3] “It is generally believed by scholars that the Jewish calendar differed by a few days from the Babylonian calendar, and that therefore dates given by the former cannot be converted more than approximately to the Julian dates.  Nevertheless…they were not more than a few days apart at most” (Dancy 49).

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