Larry Hunt's Bible Commentary

  • BOOKS BY LARRY HUNT

    SWEET RIVER FOOL - Alcoholic, homeless, and alone, Snody despaired of life until a seemingly chance encounter with Saint Francis of Assisi led him to the joys of Christ and the redemption of his soul…

  • THE GLORY OF KINGS - A proposal for why God will always be the best explanation for the existence of the universe.

  • ENOCH WALKED WITH GOD - Enoch had a beautiful soul and walked with God in many ways. This book invites children to imagine what some of those ways might have been while presenting them with a wonderful model for their own lives.

  • Stats

    • 11,258 visits since Nov 2009
  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 444 other followers

Daniel 8

Chapter 8:

If this is a waking vision, I suppose it is a sort of dream-like trance because Daniel says he sees “in the vision” that he is by the river Ulai.  In other words, he might not actually have been there.

v. 3: I have no doubt that this is the Medo-Persian Empire since Gabriel says so (v. 20).  I also believe that interpreting the figure in this way requires that one consider Media and Persia as a single kingdom as far as the book of Daniel is concerned.  Thus, one should reject interpretations that see the second and third kingdoms in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and in Daniel’s dream of the previous chapter as being Media and Persia, two distinct and successive kingdoms.  Other evidence that Media and Persia are considered a single kingdom in Daniel is in verses like 6:8 which talks about “the law of the Medes and Persians,” as if they were one kingdom.  Even outside the book of Daniel, the ancient writers seemed to treat these kingdoms as a unit.  Plutarch, in his Life of Theseus, calls The Battle of Marathon part of the “Median” war, as if the term were interchangeable with “Persian.”  In his Life of Pericles, he says, “Thargelia was a great beauty, extremely charming, and at the same time sagacious; she had numerous suitors among the Greeks, and brought all who had to do with her over to the Persian interest, and by their means, being men of the greatest power and station, sowed the seeds of the Median faction up and down in several cities.”

v. 5: I have no doubt that this is Greece/Macedonia since Gabriel testifies to this fact (v. 21).  I believe the fact that the goat does not touch the earth is an indicator of the speed of Alexander’s conquests.

v. 8: Concerning the phrase, “toward the four winds of heaven,” see two things: 7:6 (wings) and 7:2 (winds).

v. 11: Since I believe that the statue of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (2:31-45) and the four beasts of Daniel’s previous vision (7:2-27) symbolize the same things, I will use them interchangeably as a means of interpreting this dream.  For the following reasons, I believe that the period described here in v. 11 corresponds to that of the third beast in Daniel’s previous vision and that of the third section (bronze) of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue:

1) It succeeds the Medo-Persian Empire directly as the third kingdom does in the other two dreams.

2) The four horns of the goat can easily be paralleled with the four wings and heads of the leopard.

3) I believe that interpreting the single figure of the goat as Greece/Macedonia means that one should consider the rule of Alexander, as well as the four kingdoms into which his empire broke, as a single kingdom so far as the book of Daniel is concerned.  Thus, I believe one should reject interpretations that see the third kingdom in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and Daniel’s dream of the previous chapter as being that of Alexander and the fourth kingdom as being, collectively, that ruled over by the four generals who succeeded Alexander.  Along these same lines, I don’t believe that the one horn (v.9) which grew out of the other four should be interpreted as the fourth kingdom referred to in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and Daniel’s dream of the previous chapter.  The one horn grew out of the other four, and so should be interpreted as being Greek, not a separate kingdom. (In the other two confirmable transitions of world power, Babylon to Medo-Persia and Medo-Persia to Greece, the supplanting kingdom has been an outside force, not an internal one as this horn is.) Besides this, the fourth kingdom in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and Daniel’s dream of the previous chapter is remarkable for its brutal power, and yet v. 22 here says that these four Greek kingdoms that succeed Alexander’s united empire did not have the power of the empire under Alexander.  If one were to accept that this horn of v. 9 should be the fourth kingdom of Nebuchandnezzar’s dream and Daniel’s dream of the previous chapter, then one would have to believe that the Seleucid Greek kingdom under Antiochus Epiphanes (which is clearly what the horn represents) was more powerful than the united empire under Alexander had been (just as the fourth kingdom was more powerful than the third kingdom in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and Daniel’s dream of the previous chapter), and this would be a ridiculous conclusion to make.  It would make sense, however, to say that the kingdom of Rome was more powerful than the united empire of Alexander.

Nevertheless, consider the following arguments, which, while they do not convince me that this horn of v. 9 is the fourth beast, do deserve a hearing.

The nature of the horn of v. 9 is peculiar.  It starts small and then becomes great, and it oppresses the people of God.   Both of these qualities mark the horn with eyes in the fourth beast.

Also the fact that it concerns “the time of the end” could imply that this is the fourth (or last) beast.

Note too that this goat (unlike the ram) is said to “be destroyed but not by human power” just as the fourth kingdom in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is destroyed by a rock not made with hands.

However, I believe these similarities are the result of Daniel’s drawing upon a common set of symbols.  Horns represent kings; small things that grow large (like the rock which strikes the feet of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue) represent people or kingdoms that seem weak at first but grow strong. Besides, there are significant differences in the little horns of each dream.  Consider, for instance, the number of the other horns in both dreams and the relationship of the little horns to these other horns.  As for “the time of the end,” that may mean anything.  The dream here in chapter 8 seems to imply that life will continue after this “end” (hence, the rededication of the sanctuary) so this is not the end, i.e., it is not Judgment Day.  It refers to the abominations of Antiochus Epiphanes and the end of his reign of tyranny over the Jews.  See notes on 11:21 and following.

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).

8 Responses to “Daniel 8”

  1. […] Daniel’s vision clearly treats the Medes and Persians as a single empire in 8:20 (See notes on 8:3 for further reasons to see Media and Persia as a single […]

  2. […] Daniel’s vision clearly treats the Medes and Persians as a single empire in 8:20 (See notes on 8:3 for further reasons to see Media and Persia as a single […]

  3. […] v. 25: For comments on this period of time “time, times, and half a time,” see notes on 8:14. […]

  4. […] v. 25: For comments on this period of time “time, times, and half a time,” see notes on 8:14. […]

  5. […] from the beginning of Antiochus’s reign to his death[1] and the cleansing of the temple = 11 […]

  6. […] But in looking at all of the verses after v. 24, one will be hard pressed to find a moment depicting the establishment of eternal bliss and righteousness.  I believe this is because Daniel assumes that the establishment of eternal righteousness will naturally take place after the destruction spoken of here in v. 27.  According my best interpretation, Christ’s sacrifice is the destruction spoken of; it should fall in the middle of the week and put and “end to sacrifice and offering.”  The establishment of Christianity, then, is synonymous with the establishment of eternal righteousness.  As I say, this last verse is confusing to me and nearly every explanation of it seems stretched a bit. Nevertheless, it is still amazing that the timeline indicates that the establishment of eternal righteousness should fall between the years 26 A.D. and 46 A.D., and that these dates encompass the time of Christ’s work and the establishment of the Kingdom of Christ (i.e. Christianity).  For comments on this period of half a week, or 3 ½ days, or “time, times, and half a time,” see notes on 8:14. […]

  7. […] But in looking at all of the verses after v. 24, one will be hard pressed to find a moment depicting the establishment of eternal bliss and righteousness.  I believe this is because Daniel assumes that the establishment of eternal righteousness will naturally take place after the destruction spoken of here in v. 27.  According my best interpretation, Christ’s sacrifice is the destruction spoken of; it should fall in the middle of the week and put and “end to sacrifice and offering.”  The establishment of Christianity, then, is synonymous with the establishment of eternal righteousness.  As I say, this last verse is confusing to me and nearly every explanation of it seems stretched a bit. Nevertheless, it is still amazing that the timeline indicates that the establishment of eternal righteousness should fall between the years 26 A.D. and 46 A.D., and that these dates encompass the time of Christ’s work and the establishment of the Kingdom of Christ (i.e. Christianity).  For comments on this period of half a week, or 3 ½ days, or “time, times, and half a time,” see notes on 8:14. […]

  8. […] on this period of half a week, or 3 ½ days, or “time, times, and half a time,” see notes on8:14. See also Order of Events supplement in Revelation […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: