Daniel’s Prophecy – Fact or fiction? Critical scholars argue that it was written by an unknown writer in the second century BC, writing history in the form of prophecy.

Daniel’s prophecy claims that the visions recorded in the book were given by God to a person named Daniel who lived in the sixth century BC, disclosing God’s knowledge of the future.  This article evaluates the evidence from other ancient documents, compares Daniel’s prophecy to known ancient history and analyses the language in which Daniel was written.

See Daniel Fraud Summary for a summary of this article.

Great Gulf

There is a great gulf between the claims of Daniel’s prophecy and the liberal understanding of the book.

Daniel among the LionsThe book of Daniel claims that the visions recorded in the book were given by God (2:29ff.; 4:24; cf. 31ff.; 5:24-30; 9:21-22; chapters 7-12) to a person named Daniel (7:1, 28; 8:1, 9:2; 10:2; 12:5), who was a contemporary of Nebuchadnezzar (605-562), Belshazzar (556-539) and Cyrus (539-530) (2:1; 5:1; 10:1 etc.). Daniel therefore lived in the sixth century BC. The book claims the prophecies as proof of God’s knowledge of the future. The book further presents its stories as real events that occurred during and shortly after the Babylonian captivity in which God’s power was demonstrated.

Liberal-Critical

Most liberal or critical scholars believe:

Writer: That Daniel (or at least the second half of Daniel’s prophecy) was written by an unknown writer, using Daniel as his pseudonym (false name);

167 BC: That Daniel was completed after Antiochus IV Epiphanes (a king from the Seleucid branch of the Greek Empire) desecrated the altar of the temple of Jerusalem around 167 BC, and that Daniel was written in reaction to the events of that time.

Prophecies: That its prophecies are, by and large, interpretations of past history.

Stories: That the stories in the book are parables or moral fables, perhaps with a historical core.

Confirmation from Encyclopædia

Few Christians are aware of the fact that this view is widely held in academic circles. The following is quoted here as proof that this is the view in academic circles (critical scholars):

Daniel’s prophecy presents a collection of popular stories about Daniel, a loyal Jew, and the record of visions granted to him, with the Babylonian Exile of the 6th century BCE as their background. The book, however, was written in a later time of national crisis—when the Jews were suffering severe persecution under Antiochus IV Epiphanes (reigned 175–164/163 BCE). (Encyclopædia Britannica)

The Book of Daniel was written during the persecutions of Israel by the Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes. (Jewish Encyclopedia)

This explains why university trained preachers so seldom preach from Daniel. They have been taught that this book is pious fraud.

If Daniel Falls, the Bible Falls.

Daniel mentions the Mede-Persian and Greek* Empires by name and provides clear predictions of individual Greek kings up to Antiochus IV Epiphanes in the second century BC. This bolsters belief in the supernatural character of Daniel’s prophecy and in the unique predictive capability of God; the only uncreated Being, Who is therefore not subject to the constraints of time or space (Isaiah 46:9-10). Daniel’s prophecy is an amazing testimony about how God rules the universe. It demonstrates God’s complete control and comprehension over time and nations.

(*Daniel refers to the Macedonian Empire as the Greek kingdom. This article therefore also refers to it as the Greek kingdom. They did speak Greek!)

Implications

If this book was written at the time of Antiochus IV for the purpose of strengthening the morale of the Jews of that time—under a false name—creating the impression that the author was Daniel, a super-Jew of the sixth century BC, then the book is a fraud.

Jesus referred to Daniel as a prophet and put the fulfillment of some of its prophecies in the future (Matt. 24:15–16; Mark 13:14; Luke 21:20). If the book of Daniel is a fraud, then Christ was mistaken concerning it. Then we should also doubt His other statements.

Due to the interwoven nature of the Scriptures an attack on any one book of the Bible is an attack upon all books of the Bible. Although written by many different authors of many different vocations in varied historical settings over a period spanning over a thousand years, the Holy Spirit guided the message of the Bible into an integrated whole. If Daniel is a fraudulent piece of literature, then the reliability of other books in the canon of Scripture may legitimately be questioned.

This applies particularly the book of Revelation, because Daniel is the foundation on which the book of Revelation has been built. For instance, the “time, times and dividing of a time” (Dan 7:25) is central to many of the visions in Revelation (11:1, 2; 12:6, 14; 13:5). Further examples are listed in the section titled “No Controversy”.

Conclusion

It is therefore important that every Christian be aware of the convincing evidence that Daniel’s prophecy was really written in the sixth century BC, and also understands that the scientific method, used in academic circles, cannot accept the supernatural as a founding principle. The purpose of this document is consequently to provide evidence that Daniel was written in the sixth century BC, and therefore contain real prophecy.

Precise Date

This is an important concept to grasp in the context. Critical scholars believe that they are able to accurately date the finalization of the book of Daniel, for instance, as stated by the New Jerusalem Bible:

The book ‘Daniel’ must therefore have been written during the persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes and before his death, even before the success of the Maccabaean [Hasmonean] revolt; that is to say between 167 and 164.

Antiochus Epiphanes IV desecrated the temple in 167 BC and tried to destroy the Jewish religion, but the Jewish rebels (the Maccabees) were able to drive Antiochus’s forces out of Israel by 164BC.

The first 35 verses of Daniel 11 closely resemble the history of the Greek kings up to and including Antiochus IV, such as the desecration of the sanctuary in 167 BC (11:31). Critical scholars therefore conclude that Daniel was written after the historical events of the first 35 verses. But the remainder of Daniel 11 and 12, which apparently continue the history of the same king, do not agree with known history. In particular, although it continues until the end of the current world history, there is no mention of the success of the Maccabean (Jewish) revolt. Critics therefore conclude that the remainder of Daniel 11 and Daniel 12 is the author’s own but incorrect predictions, and that Daniel was written before the success of the Maccabean revolt in 164 BC. They consequently date the writing of the book to shortly after 167 BC.

External Evidence

The first category of evidence is called “external”, namely what other documents say or not say about Daniel’s prophecy:

Part of the Bible

For those that accept that the Bible was put together under the inspiration of God it would be an unpleasant surprise to find a book written under a false name, falsely claiming divine foreknowledge and miracles, being accepted as Holy Scripture.

No Controversy

History of the Maccabean Date Hypothesis

To appreciate this point an overview of the history of the Maccabean Date Hypothesis is required.  (This is the hypothesis that the Book of Daniel was written while the Jews were suffering persecution under Antiochus IV Epiphanes between 167 and 164 BC):

The first person that proposed the Maccabean date hypothesis was the third-century AD philosopher Porphyrius of Tyre in his work entitled “Against Christians”. Porphyry’s goal was to discredit Daniel because its remarkably accurate predictions prove the existence of a God that knows the future. He contended that the remarkably accurate “predictions” contained in Daniel (esp. ch. 11) were the result of a pious fraud, perpetrated by some zealous propagandist of the Maccabean movement, who wished to encourage a spirit of heroism among the Jewish patriots resisting Antiochus IV.

Porphyry was more or less dismissed by Christian scholarship until the time of the enlightenment and scientific revolution in the eighteenth century, when naturalism and rationalism had an upsurge, and when all supernatural elements in Scripture came under suspicion. A series of authors revived Porphyry’s theory. They all agreed with Porphyry that such long-range prophecies are impossible. In 1890 Klaus Koch wrote a powerful book denouncing the exilic date of writing (sixth century BC), and proclaiming the Maccabean theory. Immediately following him, in 1900, came SR Driver’s commentary on Daniel, supporting the same theory. Since then, the majority of scholars generally accept the Maccabean date theory without much question.

Sources prior to Porphyry

We will now review the sources prior to Porphyry.

The book of First Maccabees was written before 100 BC. It cites history from the book of Daniel as actual historical events.

First Maccabees was written most likely near 166 BC and no later than 100 BC. It cites history from the book of Daniel as actual historical events:

Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, by believing were saved out of the flame. Daniel for his innocency was delivered from the mouth of lions. (1 Mac. 2:51-60)

In the Qumran community, within a generation of two after the Maccabean revolt, the book of Daniel was popular, and Daniel regarded as a prophet.

The Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) are a collection of 972 documents discovered between 1946 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea at Khirbet Qumran. These are the oldest known surviving copies of biblical and extra-biblical documents. These manuscripts have been dated with paleography, which is the study of ancient style of writing, alphabetic characters and layout, to various ranges between 408 BC and 318 AD.

The Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) includes an extensive collection of manuscripts of the biblical book of Daniel — from every chapter of Daniel except one. The DSS also includes other works that discusses and references the book of Daniel, including references to “the book of Daniel, the Prophet” and the “Anointed of the Spirit, of whom Daniel spoke” (Dan. 9:25-26). Some of the documents (Items 4QDan(c) and 4QDan(e)) were copied (not written for the first time) between 150 and 100 BC. The book of Daniel was evidently popular at Qumran, and Daniel was regarded as a prophet.

Daniel was translated from the Hebrew and Aramaic into Greek in the translation now known as the Septuagint or the LXX.

The translation of Daniel into Greek was only widespread perhaps by c.40AD, but living much closer to the events in view than us today, these translators accepted Daniel as inspired.

The first century AD Jewish historian Josephus accepted the book of Daniel as an authoritative portion of the inspired Hebrew Scriptures.

Josephus mentions that Daniel’s prophecy regarding Alexander the Great were shown to the Greek general as he came toward Jerusalem in the 4th century BC, and that the illustrious commander was so impressed that he spared the holy city (Antiquities Xl, VIII, 3-5). The truth of this story is disputed, but it highlights Josephus’s view and therefore the Jewish view at the time, namely that Daniel was the author of the work and that it was completed long before the time of Alexander (332 BC), and therefore long before the Maccabees. Living much closer to the Maccabean era than us, Josephus knows nothing of a Maccabean origin for Daniel or any alternative author than the biblical Daniel.

Josephus also wrote that no books were added to the Old Testament after the time of the Persian ruler Artaxerxes (464-424 B.C.) (Josephus, Against Apion 1.8).

Josephus interpreted the desolation of the temple by Antiochus IV Epiphanes as the fulfillment of prophecies made by Daniel “according to Daniel’s vision and what he wrote many years before they came to pass” (Antiquities X.Xl.7).

Jesus believed Daniel was a real person that predicted future events.

Jesus said:

So, when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ of which the prophet Daniel spoke, standing in the holy place…then those who are in  Judea must take to the hills. (Matthew 24:15-16 cf. also Mark 13:14; Luke 21:20).

Jesus therefore believes that Daniel was an actual person named Daniel. Jesus also believed that Daniel was a prophet, and interpreted the “abomination of desolation” as a future event. The endorsement of Daniel and his book by Jesus settles the matter for those who place their faith in Christ.

Jesus is Daniel ‘s Son of man.

In the New Testament Jesus refers to Himself more than 80 times as “the Son of man. There can be no doubt that Christ claimed Himself as fulfillment of Daniel 7:13-14:

… one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him (7:13). And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed (Dan 7:14).

The reference in Daniel 7 to the Son of man coming with the clouds is in the context of judgment. Consistent with this Jesus said that He, as the Son of man, will come with the clouds of heaven (Mat 26:64) to judge (Mat 16:27; 25:31-32). This means that Jesus accepted Daniel as truth.

The author of the letter to the Hebrews accepted Daniel as factual.

In Hebrews 11:33, 34 we read:

prophets who…stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire …

Here we have a reference to Daniel chapter 6 with his encounter in the lions’ den and to Daniel 3 where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego are thrown into the blazing furnace in Nebuchadnezzar’s reign.

John accepted Daniel as factual.

Many key concepts in the book of Revelation originate from the book of Daniel, which at least means that the author of Revelation (John) accepted the book of Daniel as an authoritative portion of the inspired Hebrew Scriptures:

Beast: In Revelation 13 a beast comes out of the sea. It was “like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion”. These are the same beasts (lion, bear, leopard and non-descript beast) that also come out of the sea in Daniel 7. Both the beast in Revelation 13 and the beasts in Daniel 7 have seven heads and ten horns.

Evil king: The beast from the sea (Rev. 13) corresponds to the evil king of Daniel—both blaspheme God, persecute the saints, pretend to be God and work for a “time, times and half a time”.

Times: The time, times and half a time (Dan. 7:25; 12:7), and alternative expressions of it (1260 days and 42 months), is found five times in Revelation (11:2, 3; 12: 6, 14; 13:6).

Oath: The oath in Revelation 10 continues the oath in Daniel 12.  Both are made in the context of a book, with the emphasis on whether the book is sealed or open, in both the supernatural being is above water, in both he lifts up his hand to heaven and swears by “Him who lives forever and ever”, and in both he swears about time, namely when the end will be.

Son of man: Daniel prophesied about the Son of man that will come on the clouds of heaven to receive the eternal kingdom (7:13). Jesus said He is the Son of man. John, the Revelator, saw the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven to reap the earth (Rev. 14:14-16).

Not Enough Time

From the initial writing of an inspired book hundreds of years followed of copying, distribution, reading and discussions before it found a place in the hearts of the people as part of the Scriptures. The earliest sources discussed above, namely the book of First Maccabees, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Septuagint, dated at latest to 100 BC, do not allow nearly enough time for this process if Daniel was written in 165 BC.

The time required for a book to become generally accepted as part of the Bible, followed by translation into Greek, is much more than the 200 years from 165 BC to 40 AD.

If Daniel was known in the Maccabean period to be written under a false name, falsely presenting history as prophecy and falsely claiming miracles, with an incorrect view of the history after 164 BC, and containing many historical errors (as the critics propose), then it is even more unlikely that it became accepted as inspired Scripture—while other such books were consistently rejected—within a generation of two by a community that were eyewitnesses of the Maccabean revolt. People first had to forget about its origins before it could slowly start to become accepted as inspired.

To this should be added the major new theological concepts in Daniel, such as that people will arise from death (12:2, 13), and the other concepts discussed below. These new concepts would also have prolonged the time required before the book was accepted as inspired.

External evidence for a second century authorship

The next three points are also classified as external evidence, but it is external evidence which critics offer to argue for a second century authorship. Responses to these arguments are provided, and the reader is urged to evaluate this evidence against the evidence above for a sixth century authorship.

In the Writings

In English Bible, in the Latin Vulgate and in the Greek Septuagint we find the book of Daniel among the books of the Major Prophets. But in the Hebrew canon, which is divided into the Law (Pentateuch), the Prophets and the Writings (Kethubim), Daniel is included among the Writings, not in the Prophets.

A famous critic (Driver) once wrote:

…there are strong reasons for thinking that the threefold division represents three stages in the collection and canonization of the sacred books of the O.T.,–the Pent. being canonized first, then the ‘Prophets’ and lastly the Kethubim.

Critics propose that the collection of the ‘Prophets’ was completed by 200 BC, and conclude that if the Book of Daniel existed at the time it would have been included with the writings of the other prophets. Since it is found amongst the Writings, they conclude that Daniel must have been written after the collection of prophetic books had been closed; therefore after 200 BC.

Daniel was among the prophets.

However, Daniel was listed among the prophets at the time of Christ:

Daniel was listed among the prophets in the Greek Septuagint translation (hence its position in our English Bibles through the medium of the Latin Vulgate).

Daniel was regarded as a prophet in the New Testament and at Qumran. Melito, bishop of Sardis (A.D.70), listed Daniel among the prophets. Origen (d. A.D. 254) listed Daniel before Ezekiel and the twelve prophets.

The first century AD Jewish historian Josephus mentioned the three divisions of the Hebrew canon, but included only four books in the Writings, rather than the thirteen assigned to it by the Masoretes of the late first millennium AD.

The Masorites were later.

The current Hebrew canon was concluded by the Masoretic six or seven centuries after Flavius Josephus.  It therefore has no bearing whatever on the date of Daniel’s composition. Driver’s fundamental assumption, that the Jewish threefold division represents three stages in the collection and canonization, is flawed.

The Masoretes may have been influenced in this reassignment by the consideration that Daniel served in a foreign court throughout his entire career and did not prophesy directly to the people of Israel. He was not a prophet in the strict Hebraic sense of the word. For the Jews a prophet was somebody that received messages from God and spoke to the nation, such as Isaiah or Jeremiah.

Ben Sirach

Jesus Ben Sirach, writing in 200-170 BC, mentions all the Prophets, even the Minor Prophets, and many famous men, but he does not mention Daniel. This is taken to mean that Sirach was unaware of Daniel; hence, Daniel was written after 170 BC.

Critics also point out that Ben Sirach expressly said that he has never found a man who resembled Joseph. They conclude that he could not have made this statement if he knew of Daniel, since both Daniel and Joseph rose to be prime minister by virtue of their ability to interpret dreams.

In defense:

Dozens of other “famous men” are not listed by Ben Sirach, for instance Moses, Joshua, Solomon, Samuel, Job, Sampson and Ezra. Certainly this does not mean that these leaders were unknown to Jesus Ben Sirach.

As for one “not being like Joseph,” it should be noted that, unlike Joseph, Daniel did NOT save the entirety of Israel from extinction and did not do anything to raise the Jews as a whole to prominence. Far too much emphasis is placed on the fact that both received dreams as a prophetic tool; the differences between these two tend to be ignored.

Daniel was sealed up.

But it is also possible that Sirach really did not know about Daniel. Daniel was told to conceal the words and to seal up the book until the end of time (12:4). A few verses later he was again told:

Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time … none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand (12:9-10)

From this it may be concluded that the book was not made publicly available very soon. And even when it was made available, it was not understood. It is possible that the book of Daniel only became (partly) understood and fully accepted as part of Scripture when the oppressive reign of Antiochus IV fulfilled its prophecies of an evil king, which is after the time of Ben Sirach.

The Person Daniel

Very soon after arrival in Babylon Daniel achieved a high rank in the Babylonian Empire (Dan 2:48). After the Persian conquest, he was immediately elevated to a role second only to the king (Dan 6:3). But although many archaeological records are available from both empires, none mentions Daniel.   There is also no mention of him in the Jewish (or other) literature before the Maccabean period (from 164 BC). For Critics this is strong circumstantial evidence that Daniel never existed and that the book was of later authorship.

In defense:

Only a limited number of prominent government officials are mentioned in archaeological records. Further, Ezekiel, who, like Daniel, lived in the 6th century BC, mentions a Daniel who is, like the Daniel of our book, righteous and wise, comparable to Noah and Job (14:14, 20; 28:3). Since he mentions this Daniel without qualification, it must have been a well-known person, and there is no other famous Daniel.

Ezekiel and Daniel

Critics argue that in 591 and 586 BC—when Ezekiel wrote those passages—our Daniel had barely begun his career. However:

Quoting God: Ezekiel is simply quoting God, and God exists outside time.

Same character: The brief descriptions of Daniel in Ezekiel are consistent with the data in the book of Daniel. Both describe Daniel as righteous and extremely wise.

After Daniel 2: The events of Daniel 2, when the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and, on Daniel’s request, also appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego over the administration of the province of Babylon, occurred in the 2nd year of Nebuchadnezzar (2:1).  This would be around 604 BC. Daniel would have been the highest-placed and most recognized of the Jews of the Exile and well known by all Jews 14 to 20 years later, when Ezekiel wrote his book.

Who else?: Ezekiel uses the name “Daniel” without qualification, implying a well-known personality.   No satisfactory explanation exists for the use of the name Daniel by the prophet Ezekiel other than the Daniel in our book. Critics propose that Ezekiel here appeals to a pagan hero who was closely associated to Baal and Annath and did not believe in the God of Israel. This is hardly a respectable supposition.

The testimony of Ezekiel is that Daniel was a real person.

Internal Evidence

The next category of evidence is called “internal”. This means that the text of Daniel is compared with circumstances and events in the second and sixth centuries BC to determine whether it betrays the time in which it was written.

Critics maintain that Daniel contains numerous historical inaccuracies when dealing with 6th century BC Babylonian history, and that those mistakes would not have been made by an important official in the employ of King Nebuchadnezzar. This section deals with such alleged inaccuracies.

Fifth Chapter

Belshazzar promised Daniel to be 3rd ruler in the kingdom (5:16). Why could Belshazzar not promise him the #2 position? Because Belshazzar himself was #2 while his father was still alive.

Scholars had to conclude:

Of all the non-Babylonian records dealing with the situation at the close of the Neo-Babylonian Empire the fifth chapter of Daniel ranks next to cuneiform literature in accuracy so far as outstanding events are concerned. The Scriptural account may be interpreted as excelling because it employs the name Belshazzar, because it attributes royal power to Belshazzar, and because it recognizes that a dual rulership existed in the kingdom. Babylonian cuneiform documents of the sixth century BC furnish clear-cut evidence of the correctness of these three basic historical nuclei contained in the Biblical narrative dealing with the fall of Babylon.

The total information found in all available chronologically-fixed documents later than the sixth century BC … could not have provided the necessary material for the historical framework of the fifth chapter of Daniel.’ (R. P. Dougherty, Nabonidus and Belshazzar (New Haven: Yale, 1929), pp. 199f.)

To explain:

Daniel states that Belshazzar was king the night that Babylon fell (5:30), but the two famous Greek historians of the fifth and fourth centuries BC (Herodotus and Xenophon) did not mention Belshazzar when they described the fall of Babylon. Annals in the Greek language are absolutely silent concerning Belshazzar. This situation goes right down to Josephus in the first century AD. Secular sources have, since ancient times, stated that Nabonidus was the last king of Babylon.

The name “Belshazzar” was not rediscovered until the Nabonidus Chronicle was published in 1882. With it Daniel was proven correct. It verified Belshazzar’s existence, as well as his co-regency during the absence of his father. The Nabonidus Chronicle states that Nabonidus (Belshazzar’s father) lived in Arabia during the last ten years of the Babylonian Empire, and that he left the kingship to Belshazzar during that period. (Hasel, pg. 155; New World Encyclopedia);

Nabonidus “entrusted the ‘camp’ to his eldest son [‘Belshazzar] …entrusted the kingship to him (Hasel, pg. 155; New World Encyclopedia) and himself … he turned towards Tema in the West.”

“when the third year was about to begin- he [Nabonidus] entrusted the army to his oldest son, his first born, the troops in the country he ordered under his command. He let everything go, entrusted the kingship to him.”

One tablet from the 12th year of Nabonidus calls for oaths in the names of both Nabonidus and Belshazzar. These are fairly strong evidence that Belshazzar was indeed the coregent in his father’s absence, and was in Babylon when it fell in 539 BC.

Conclusion

The very mention of Belshazzar by Daniel is proof of an early date for Daniel. Since the name of Belshazzar had been forgotten by the time of Herodotus (ca 450 B.C.), at least so far as the Greek historians were concerned, how would a second century author know of Nabonidus leaving Belshazzar in charge? The only conclusion that one can reach, other than some other information which has been lost to us today, is that the author was indeed alive during the events of 539 BC.

Sixth Century Knowledge

Various other instances of precision with respect to the sixth century argue that the writer was an eye-witness of that ancient culture:

Asphenaz is mentioned in the first chapter of Daniel as master of the Eunuchs. The following statement has been found on monuments of ancient Babylon which are now in the Berlin Museum: “Ashpenaz, master of eunuchs in the time of Nebuchadnezzar”.

Daniel is very detailed and, as confirmed by archaeological records, correct in his categories of wise men (cf. 2:2, 27).

The prophet describes the practice of Belshazzar’s wives eating with the men on festive occasions (5:1-4). This was the custom in ancient Babylon and Persia (Herodotus, History, V.18), but not in the period of the Greeks in the second century BC.

Daniel lists the Medes first in the phrase “law of the Medes and Persians” (5:28; 6:8, 12, 15). In later history, due to Persia’s ascendancy, it became “Persians and Medes” (cf. Esth. 1:19).

Daniel locates the city of Shushan in the province of Elam (8:2), whereas boundaries changes in the Persian period located Shushan in the province of Susiana.

It is commonly agreed that Daniel correctly represents Nebuchadnezzar’s building prowess – and his corresponding braggadocio. The East India House inscriptions in London has six columns of Babylonian writing bragging about building operations which Nebuchadnezzar carried on in enlarging the beautifying Babylon. Pfeiffer admits: “We shall presumably never know how our author learned that the new Babylon was the creation of Nebuchadnezzar (4:30) … and that Belshazzar … was functioning as king when Cyrus took Babylon in 538 (ch. 5).”

Internal evidence for a second century authorship

The following points are also internal evidence, but it is evidence which critics offer to argue for a second century authorship. However, in many instances this evidence rather supports a sixth century authorship:

Later More Detailed

Daniel’s prophecies get more & more detailed all the way to 168-164 BC, as an analysis of the visions in Daniel 7, 8 and 10 to 12 will show. Daniel 7 and 8 say comparatively little about the earlier kingdoms and kings, but much about the little horn. The same applies to Daniel 11. In the beginning of chapter 11 many kings are described in a single verse, but later many verses describe a single king. About 8 verses describe Antiochus III, followed by more than 20 verses describing the evil king of Daniel 11.

However, the detail provided with respect to the evil king does not prove that the book was written in the time of the evil king. The purpose of the prophecies is to identify and describe this evil king. The only purpose for describing the preceding kings and kingdoms is to provide information to identify the evil king.

Language

Driver, the famous critic mentioned above, once eloquently stated:

The verdict of the language of Daniel is thus clear. The Persian words presuppose a period after the Persian Empire had been well established: the Greek words demand, the Hebrew supports, and the Aramaic permits, a date after the conquest of Palestine by Alexander the Great (BC 332).

GREEK

According to Driver’s statement the strongest linguistic support for a late date is the Greek words in Daniel. This refers to the names of three musical instruments in chapter 3 of Daniel, which appear to be Aramaic transliterations of their Greek names (Dan. 3:5, 7, 10, 15). Critics assert that these Greek words were not known in Babylon in the sixth century BC because Greek cultural influence upon other nations did not reach its zenith until after Alexander the Great (about 330 BC).

However, there are only three Greek words in the entire book – and all three refer to musical instruments (Kitharos, Psanterin, and Sumphonyah). The book of Daniel would have been saturated with Greek terms if it were written as late as 167 BC in Palestine, where Greek-speaking (Hellenistic) governments had control of the entire region for more than 160 years. The LXX (Greek translation of the OT) was begun c.260 BC, which illustrates the influence of Greek.

Furthermore, the Greek kitharis appears in the Aramaic Homer (eighth century BC at the latest) [Dyer.Dan3, 430; MillS.Dan, 29]. Greek words also appear in the Elephantine Papyri dated to the fifth century BC. The names of musical instruments would circulate beyond national boundaries with these instruments themselves, just as foreign musical terms have made their way into English, like the Italian piano and viola.

PERSIAN

Driver’s second strongest linguistic evidence for a late date of composition is the Persian words in the text of Daniel. He noted, for instance, that “the mention of ‘satraps’ under Nebuchadnezzar (3:2, 3, 27) is alone a remarkable anachronism”. There are nineteen or fewer such Persian words.

The visions contained in the last four chapters of Daniel were received after Persian authority has been established over Babylonia (9:1; 10:1). The story of Daniel in the lions’ den (chapter 6) plays out in the same period. Daniel himself served as a very senior official in the Persian government (6:3, 28). The book of Daniel was therefore composed in its final form during the Persian period. There is no particular reason why Daniel should not have used in his language those Persian terms which had found currency in the Aramaic spoken in Babylon in the Persian period. At least twelve of the nineteen Persian loan words are technical terms used within government—just the sort of terminology which Daniel, in his administrative position under Persians, would have quickly acquired.

Further, of these Persian words, six are not found later than 330 BC, and all of them are what are called “Old Persian” words – which gave way to Middle Persian ca. 300 BC. [Baldwin, Joyce G. Daniel, Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1978] The Persian expressions in the book would seem to be rather strong evidence for an early time of composition.

ARAMAIC

The primary languages in Daniel are Aramaic and Hebrew. The first chapter of Daniel is written in Hebrew, but in the middle of 2:4 the Chaldeans (Babylonian wise men) start to speak in Aramaic:

Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic, “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will give the interpretation.” (Daniel 2:4)

From this point onward, the book of Daniel continues in Aramaic until the end of chapter 7 and then resumes in Hebrew in 8:1 and continues in Hebrew for the remainder of the book.

It is said that the mere fact of Aramaic in the text indicates a late date, but Aramaic was the lingua franca (common language) spoken by the heterogeneous populations of the Assyrian, Babylonian and Persian Empires, especially in the realms of government and commerce. Aramaic was not the common language in the Maccabean period (166 BC), but rather Greek.

It is also said that the Aramaic of Daniel is a Western Aramaic dialect, of the type spoken in and about Palestine, not the Eastern dialect spoken in Babylon. However, “recent discoveries of fifth-century Aramaic documents” have shown quite conclusively that Daniel was written in a form of Imperial Aramaic, an official or literary dialect which had currency in all parts of the Near East (Archer, Gleason. A Survey of the Old Testament Introduction. Chicago: Moody Press, 1974, 397].  Driver eventually withdrew his conclusions on this point and admitted that the Aramaic belonged to an earlier period.

The Genesis Apocryphon that was discovered in Qumran Cave 1, from the third or second century BC, puts the verb first in sentence clauses. This was the normal practice of Western Aramaic used in Palestine during the Maccabean period (Archer). But, exactly like the eastern Aramaic as used in Babylonian, the Aramaic of Daniel shows a marked tendency for the verb to be referred till a later position in the clause. On the basis of the word order alone, it is safe to conclude that Daniel could not have been composed in Palestine. (Archer, Gleason. “Daniel” The Expositors Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985.)

It has been conceded by many scholars that the Aramaic of Daniel is much closer to the Elephantine Papyri, which has been dated to the 5th and 4th centuries BC.

The relatively later form of the spelling of some Aramaic terms does not indicate a Maccabean era composition.   Copies were made by hand, and the copiers would have updated the spelling as the spelling changed. For instance, Nebuchadrezzar is spelled Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel, which is the way the king’s name was spelled at a later time, under Greek influence.

HEBREW

It is also said that the Hebrew is more like 2nd century BC Hebrew than 6th century BC Hebrew, but it is very hard for anyone to show that Hebrew is earlier or later. Thousands of years can go by in Hebrew and nothing really changes.

For more information on the language in Daniel and many other aspects, please refer to the Tektonics website.

Apocalyptic Style

Both the book of Revelation and the book of Daniel are classified as apocalyptic. This term is a transliteration of the first Greek word in the book of Revelation (Apokalypsis), meaning ‘a revealing’.

Characteristics of apocalyptic literature include:

  • Extensive use of symbols or signs;
  • Visions that are recorded exactly as they were seen. (limited human design)
  • Focus on the end time;
  • Shows God’s people trampled in the short term, but victorious in the end;

Daniel is a prime example of apocalyptic literature. This writing style was quite common in Israel from the 2nd century BC to the 2nd century AD. These writings are often attributed to a famous historical hero in order to give them credibility. Critics argue that since most works of apocalyptic date from the second century BC onwards, Daniel should be dated then too.

But the style of the many other apocalyptic writings may have been inspired by the book of Daniel, which means that the other works would be later than the book of Daniel. Furthermore, some other OT passages, e.g. Isaiah 25-27 and Zechariah 9ff. have apocalyptic features yet can hardly be dated as late as the second century.

New Theological Concepts

According to the New World Encyclopedia the book Daniel was an important influence on later apocalyptic writing and attitudes in both Judaism and Christianity.

In the view of the critics the Bible has developed over a long period of time through small changes, similar to the concept of the evolution of life on earth. They argue that some of the concepts in Daniel have only developed much later than the sixth century BC.

Daniel’s prophecy is the only book in the Old Testament in which angels are given names (Gabriel in 8:16 and 9:21 and Michael in 10:13, 10:21, and 12:1). Elsewhere names for angels only appear in the Apocrypha and the New Testament.

In the sixth century BC Jews believed that all persons went to Sheol after death. Critics claim that the concepts of heaven and hell, which are found in Daniel (Dn12:2), was introduced centuries later by the Greeks, and that it did not appear in Israel until the time of the Maccabean revolt.

Other concepts that are new in Daniel, compared to the rest of the Old Testament, are the last judgment, the resurrection of the dead (Dn12:2), and the everlasting kingdom. These concepts may be new compared with the Old Testament, but they are completely consistent with the New Testament, which verifies that it was inspired by God.

The Siege

JEHOIAKIM’S THIRD YEAR

Daniel 1:1 states that Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion of Judah and siege of Jerusalem took place in the third year of Jehoiakim, whereas Jeremiah 25:9 announced the coming of the Chaldeans only in Jehoiakim’s fourth year. Jeremiah 46:2 furthermore dates the first year of Nebuchadnezzar also in Jehoiakim’s fourth year.

Different dating systems

This is not an error in Daniel. To the contrary, it supports an early date. The authors used different dating systems:

Jeremiah—a Palestinian—naturally used the Palestinian dating system, whereby the calendar year in which a new king acceded to the throne was reckoned as the first year of his reign (which, in the case of Jehoiakim, would have been 608 BC). His fourth year would therefore be 605 BC.

Daniel, used the Babylonian system, whereby the first year of a new king begins at the commencement of the next calendar year. Thus, by the Babylonian reckoning, Jehoiakim’s first year was 607; therefore Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion in 605 was Jehoiakim’s third year. (Harrison, R.K. Introduction to the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1969, pg. 1112)

Supports a sixth century authorship

This apparent error therefore actually supports a Babylonian sixth century authorship. If Daniel’s prophecy was written by some Jew in the second century, he would have made his work to appear as Scriptural as possible, and refer to historical sources, such as Jeremiah. Why would he contradict Jeremiah—whom his readers knew well?

JEHOIAKIM’S THIRD OR ELEVENTH YEAR?

2 Chronicles 36:5-8 reports a siege by Nebuchadnezzar in Jehoiakim eleventh year as king, when Jehoiakim was carried off to Babylon. This was in 599 BC.

2 Kings 24:1 also implies a siege:

During Jehoiakim’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded the land, and Jehoiakim became his vassal for three years. But then he changed his mind and rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar.

The invasion in Kings is not the same as the one in Chronicles because in Chronicles Jehoiakim was carried away, while in Kings he remained as vassal king after the invasion. For the same reason it is also clear that the siege in Chronicles was at least three years later than the invasion in Kings, and that the three years that Jehoiakim was vassal king for the Babylonians were before 599 BC.

Reconstruction of History

With the assistance of secular history the events can be reconstructed:

Jehoiakim had been put on the throne by the Egyptian Pharaoh Neco (2 Kings 23:34). In the year 605 Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Egyptian army. The Egyptians retreated to Egypt and “The king of Egypt did not come out of his land again, for the king of Babylon had taken all that belonged to the king of Egypt from the brook of Egypt to the river Euphrates“ (2 Kings 24:7). He therefore also took control of the king of Judah. On this expedition Nebuchadnezzar probably besieged Jerusalem, took hostages and looted treasures from the temple. Among the hostages were Daniel, Shadrach, Mishach and Abendgo; descendants of the Royal family.

When Nebuchadnezzar returned to Palestine in 601, his army was defeated by the Egyptians. It is consequently possible that the Egyptians returned to Palestine in 602 and that Jehoiakim at that time rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. He therefore could have been a vassal to the Babylonians from 605 to 602.

The Chronicles-siege was a few years later in 599 BC, when Jehoiakim was carried off to Babylon.

There was actually a third siege, namely the siege in 2 Kings 24:10 and following. By that time Jehoiakim was already dead (v6). After this siege Nebuchadnezzar led the entire Jerusalem into exile (v14).

A siege in 605 is therefore quite possible.

Belshazzar’s Father

Belshazzar is represented by Daniel as the son of Nebuchadnezzar (5:2, 11, 13, 18, 22), but he was the son of Nabodinus. Critics propose that, during the long period of oral tradition, the unimportant kings of Babylon were forgotten, and the last king, who was vanquished by Cyrus, have been taken by the second century writer as the successor of the well-known Nebuchadnezzar. (JE)

However, by ancient usage, the term ‘son’ was also used for a successor in the same office, whether or not there was a blood relationship. Archer, Gleason. A Survey of the Old Testament Introduction. Chicago: Moody Press, 1974, 391-2 lists examples. The terms ‘father’ and ‘son’ are used figuratively in the Old Testament. Elisha, for instance, called Elijah ‘my father’ (2 Kings 2:12).

Nabodinus was not related to Nebuchadnezzar, but Herodotus reports that Nebucadnezzar’s wife was the “mother” of Nabodinus [Town.Dan – Towner, W. Sibley. Daniel. Atlanta: John Knox, 1984, 70]. Oriental monarchs who were usurpers commonly tried to legitimate their claim to the throne by marrying their predecessor’s wife or daughter. A literal blood relationship is therefore also possible.

Darius the Mede

Persian records identify Cyrus as king of Persia when Babylon was captured, after he conquered the Medes eleven years earlier in 550 BC. These records also identify a Gubaru (Greek: Gobryas), a Persian, as the governor of the province of Babylon after the Babylonian Empire was defeated.

Apart from the book of Daniel, only Josephus refers to Darius the Mede. Critics therefore regard Darius the Mede as a fictional character, or at the very best a confusion of Cyrus’ third son with the same name – who was not a Mede, but a Persian. They propose that this mistake by the second century writer was the result of predictions in Isaiah and Jeremiah that the Medes will conquer Babylon (Jeremiah 51:11; Is. 13:17; 21:2; Jer. 51:28). They therefore propose that the author of Daniel’s prophecy, contrary to historical evidence, inserted a separate Median empire between the Babylonian and Persian empires, and created the fictitious figure of Darius the Mede to fit this schema.

In defense:

The fact that this mighty king Darius is not mentioned by non-biblical sources is perhaps the best support the critics have for historical inaccuracies in the book of Daniel. But:

Firstly, it would have been a very unlikely mistake for a second century author to insert a Median Empire. Such an author must have been of the most educated class and could hardly be expected NOT to be aware of the actual history. Ezra 4:5-6 has a listing of the Persian kings, and as Josephus’ work indicates, there were many histories in circulation at the time of the Maccabees which would include information on the Persian Empire. We know some of these histories today: Herodotus, Xenophon, Berosus, and even the OT outside of Daniel’s prophecy (Is. 45:1, 2 Chron. 36.20-3).  These it clear that Cyrus was the conqueror who took Babylon, and who freed the Jews and other peoples to return to their homes. If he did make such an mistake, it would have been pretty obvious to his contemporaries.

Secondly, it is adequately clear that the book of Daniel always represents the Medes and the Persians as a single empire. The “Writing on the Wall” was interpreted as “your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians” (5:28). This explicitly indicates a dual monarchy. (See also 6:8, 12, 15, 8:20). Daniel never mentions a war, after the defeat of Babylon, between the Medes and the Persians, through which Cyrus became king. The author therefore did not think of Darius as king of a separate Median empire. His rule must have coincided with that of Cyrus. Darius was either another name of Cyrus, or he ruled only in the province of Babylon.

Thirdly, Daniel’s prophecy never describes Darius as king of the Medes, only as king of the Chaldeans (Dan 5:30-1, 9:1), which would be limited to the province of Babylon. Darius has also been “made king” and he “received” the kingdom when Babylon was defeated (5:31). These indicate that Darius was a subordinate ruler.

Proposal

A separate article has been published on this website (The search for Darius the Mede) in which it is argued that Darius was the throne name for Ugbaru. Ugbaru was the general whose troops conquered Babylon for Cyrus. He was made regional governor by Cyrus over the province of Babylon. He appointed his own supervisors over his dominion, holding the power of life and death over them, but unexpectedly died three weeks after Babylon was captured. It is possible that he is not mentioned as Darius in other literature because he ruled only for a very short time.

Chaldeans

Daniel uses the term “Chaldeans” for both the ethnic race from which Nebuchadnezzar came (5:30) and as a specialized term for wise men (2:2, 4, etc.). Apparently Nebuchadnezzar reserved the positions of wise men for people from his race. In this way “Chaldeans” over time became a synonym for “wise men”. Critics maintain that the word only attracted this additional specialized meaning much later than the sixth century, but Herodutus (vol. 1, sec 181-183) already in the fifth century BC refers to the priests of Bel as Chaldeans. It is therefore not impossible that this term had this meaning in the middle of the sixth century, when Daniel wrote.

AFTER ANTIOCHUS

Daniel predicts the Greek Empire by name. Most liberal and conservative scholars agree that the prophecies in the first 35 verses of Daniel 11 closely resemble the history of the fragmented Greek empire. This includes a minutely accurate portrayal of the Seleucid-Ptolemaic wars, which seems to culminate in the reign of the Greek king Antiochus IV. According to Daniel itself these prophecies were received more than 300 years in advance of these events. However, critical scholarship does not accept that it is possible to predict events centuries in the future so accurately:

We need to assume that the vision [of Daniel 8] as a whole is a prophecy after the fact. Why? Because human beings are unable accurately predict future events centuries in advance [Towner, Daniel, Interpreter’s Bible, John Knox: 1984, p. 115, cited in [DLIOT:332]]

Critics therefore need a solution for Daniel. They must show that Daniel was written during or after the time of Antiochus IV. This they do by arguing that Daniel contains many errors with respect to the sixth century and by pointing to other indications (such as the language), arguing that Daniel was actually written in the second century. (These arguments have been addressed above.)

Written prior to the Maccabean revolt in 164 BC

But shifting the date of writing to the time of Antiochus does not solve the problem for the critics. Since the death of Antiochus IV does not agree with the death of the evil king as described in the latter portion of Daniel 11, and because Daniel does not mention the Maccabean revolt or the success of that revolt, they have to conclude that Daniel was written before the death of Antiochus IV and before the success of the Maccabean revolt in 164 BC, and that in the latter portion of Daniel 11 the author ventured his own predictions of the future, but got it hopelessly wrong.

Furthermore, the copies of Daniel and the undisputed references to the book of Daniel in other writings dated in 100 BC or earlier also oblige critics to date the writing of the book to no later than 100 BC.

Daniel’s prophecy predicted events after the Maccabean revolt.

Therefore, if it can be shown that Daniel predicts events after the time of Antiochus, and after 100 BC, the credibility of the prophecies in Daniel is confirmed. Then the attempt of the critics to push the date of writing forward avails nothing because the supernatural inspiration of Daniel is verified. Then the fundamental assumption of the critics, on which their entire theory is based, namely that accurate long term predictions are impossible, is shown to be false.

Three line of evidence will now be presented to show that Daniel does predict events after the time of Antiochus, and after 100 BC:

Roman Empire

Firstly, the article Daniel’s evil little horn has shown that the evil king comes out of the Roman Empire. Daniel therefore predicts that Rome would become an empire that would dominate the known world. In the time of Antiochus Rome was a growing threat, but it did not yet dominate. To predict, in 165 BC, when critics claim Daniel’s prophecy was written, that Rome would one day dominate, and further that it would not be followed by another empire, but be subdivided into various independent kingdoms, of which the predicted evil king would be the most powerful, is accurate long term prophecy, which verifies the supernatural character of the book.

Jesus Christ

Secondly, in another article published on this website (Daniel 9 Interpretations Overview), it has been shown that Daniel 9 predicts the appearance and the killing of Jesus as the Messiah in the first century AD. This also supports the proposal that Daniel contains accurate long term prophecies, as copies of Daniel (Dead Sea Scrolls) have been available to the Qumran sect before the crucifixion.

Add to this the fact that the Jews expected a Messiah that would lead the nation to world dominance. But Daniel’s prophecy predicts that the Messiah will be killed (Dan 9), only to receive the eternal kingdom at the end of the current world history (7:13). It is unlikely that an uninspired second century BC author, writing under a false name, falsely predicting the future, would represent their national hero thus. The suffering Messiah underscores the divine inspiration of the book of Daniel.

Antiochus IV does not fit the profile.

Thirdly, Daniel 11:2-19 correlates well with the history until the death of Antiochus III in verse 19 and there are many similarities between Antiochus and the predicted evil king.  However, as shown in Does Antiochus IV fit the profile?, Antiochus IV does not fulfill all aspects of Daniel’s predicted evil king. Antiochus IV is a type of the predicted evil king, but for the complete fulfillment we must search for a later and world-wide powerful evil king.

These three predictions of events after 164 BC verify Daniel’s prophecy as supernatural inspiration. We can safely conclude that the references to Antiochus IV in Daniel are also supernaturally inspired.

CONCLUSION

God is in control.

Daniel is an amazing book. The symbolic, precise and succinct representation of future empires presents God as in control of time.  The miracles in Daniel, such as the three Jews that came unscathed out of a sevenfold intensified fire without even the smell of fire on them, or a hair on their bodies scorched (Daniel 3), speak of a God that is in absolute and complete control. Through Daniel a Force that is infinite in time and space, has burst into our microscopic existence.

We are small.

But it reminds us how small we are, drifting around on a particle of dust in a minute galaxy, swirling around in a universe of infinite size, not knowing from where we came or where we are going. In the immense infiniteness of time we exist for a fraction of a second. 

Jesus came as a servant.

If Jesus came with the same ambitions as Israel, presenting Himself as a warrior, ready to defend and fight for the supremacy of Israel, Israel would have gladly accepted Him. But He came as a servant, respecting the poor and outcast, criticizing pride and haughtiness. Therefore they killed Him.

God grants freedom.

Similarly God is humble in the sense that He grants each of His intelligent creatures complete freedom to decide for or against Him. He does not override our personal inclinations by force. Sufficient evidence exists of God’s existence and power, but that evidence is not presented in such a way that it will limit our freedom to decide for ourselves according to what principles we will organize our lives. We are free to live our earthly lives ignoring the demands of the humble Creator (Mat 11:29).

The infinite source of all life and power does not want to rule the universe by fear, but through love. In fact, the only service He can accept is the service of love, and love requires complete freedom.

We reject Daniel’s prophecy because we want to rule.

We are not like God.  We want to force our will on the people around us. To do that we must avoid the demands presented by the supernatural predictions. Very good evidence exists for a sixth-century date of composition, but we defend ourselves against the demands of God by rejecting it in favor of an unsupportable Maccabean hypothesis. We choose to embrace a liberal, naturalistic, and rationalistic philosophy. Like Porphyry the intellectual leaders of this world, steeped in human reason and intellectual vanity, refuse to recognize the miracle of Daniel’s prophecy. Rationalistic naturalism does not accept the possibility of an all-powerful God Who intervenes in the course of history, even declaring in advance what will transpire in the future. Critics do not subject their views to a reality beyond that which man can rationally investigate and measure. We angrily attack Daniel by rejecting its supernatural aspects. 

But then all Scripture falls.

If Daniel’s prophecy is rejected because of miracles, then all of Scripture must be rejected. The Bible is a book of miracles. You will find a miracle on nearly every page.  Judaism and Christianity are founded on the supernatural workings of a personal God who acts in human history, is in control of human history. Based on this assumption it is possible to allow the Book of Daniel to be a book written by a real sixth century Daniel containing real prophecies and telling of real miracles. To admit that Daniel was given amazing visions of the future is to acknowledge that an almighty, authoritative God exists.

TO: General Table of Contents
TO: 
Daniel 9 Seventy Sevens Summary

Antiochus and Daniel’s Evil King

A Word version of this
document is available here.

INTRODUCTION

Critical scholars are convinced that the evil king predicted by Daniel chapters 7, 8 and 11 points to Antiochus IV.

The article “Daniel’s evil king; Greek or Roman?”, published on this website, has shown that this evil king comes out of the Roman Empire. It therefore cannot refer to Antiochus IV. The current document supports this conclusion by comparing Antiochus IV with the following characteristics of the predicted evil king:

  1. His immediate predecessor was “a raiser of taxes” that was destroyed “within few days”.
  2. He becomes king and rules by deceit.
  3. He is greater than all his predecessors.
  4. He starts small, but expands exceedingly.
  5. He expands towards the south, east and towards Judea.
  6. He is a tyrant that opposes God and His saints as first principle.
  7. He kills “the prince of the covenant” (11:22), which is Jesus Christ.
  8. He appears on the scene 483 years after a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.
  9. 30 days before he commences to persecute the saints he defiles the sanctuary by taking away the “daily” and by setting up the “abomination of desolation” (12:11).
  10. He distributes his plunder.
  11. He magnifies himself above every god.
  12. He serves and promotes a “strange god”, unknown to his fathers.

PREDECESSOR

It is agreed with the critics that 11:19 describes the death of Antiochus III.  If the vile person of 11:21 refers to Antiochus IV, then 11:20 refers to the person that reigned between Antiochus III and Antiochus IV, namely Seleucus IV Philopator; the eldest son of Antiochus III.  Antiochus IV became king after Seleucus IV was murdered.

But Seleucus IV does not fit the description in 11:20:

The king in 11:20 shall be destroyed “within few days”, while Seleucus IV reigned for 13 years. Literally interpreted the time periods in Daniel are short (about 6 years at the most). In comparison 13 years is a long time.

The king in 11:20 will be “a raiser of taxes”, but Seleucus IV did not raise taxes any more than his father.

DECEIT

Daniel 11:21 describes how the predicted evil person becomes king:

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

“By intrigue” means by plotting, conspiracy or trickery. Antiochus IV did not seize the kingdom by intrigue. The following quote from ancientmacedonia.com describes how he became king:

Seleucus was murdered by Heliodorus, his treasurer (B.C. 176) … On the death of Seleucus, the throne was seized by Heliodorus; but it was not long before Antiochus, the brother of the late king, with the help of the Pergamene monarch, Eumenes, recovered it.

The predicted evil king not only becomes king through deceit; he also rules through deceit; he “cause deceit to succeed” (8:25). History does not identify Antiochus IV as any more deceitful than other Greek kings.

GREATER

In Daniel 7 the evil eleventh horn is much larger than the other 10 horns (7:20). In Daniel 8 the horn is larger even than Alexander the Great: Alexander is described as “very great” (8:8) but the horn is “exceedingly great” (KJV; RSV, 8:9).

This does not fit Antiochus IV. Antiochus IV cannot be described as greater than Alexander the Great. Antiochus IV can also not be described as greater that the Seleucid kings that preceded him. Seleucus I Nicator was the first king of the Seleucid branch of the Greek Empire after Alexander’s empire split up. He had significant military successes. A few generations later Antiochus III was called “the Great” because he expanded the domain of the Seleucid kingdom to close to its original size. His military successes are described in 11:15, but later in his career the Romans defeated him and left his empire, particularly in the west, subject to the threat of Rome’s growing power. His son, later to become Antiochus IV, grew up as hostage in Rome because of these defeats.

Antiochus IV was weak compared to Alexander the Great, Seleucus I and his father, Antiochus III the Great. He had success against the Ptolemy branch of the Greek kingdom (Egypt), but by the time Daniel was allegedly written (165 BC) the Romans had already ordered him to leave Egypt, and he had to oblige. On the eastern side of his kingdom the Parthians were taking Iran from his empire, and the need to attend to this threat later allowed the Jewish revolt to succeed; the Maccabees were soon able to drive his soldiers out of Israel and reinstate temple services.

STARTS SMALL

When the predicted evil king in Daniel first appears, it is small (7:8; 8:9) and weak (11:23; supported by few), but later expands to become “exceedingly great” (8:9), which means that it becomes mighty.

Antiochus IV did not start small. He was a Seleucid prince and the brother of the murdered king. After his brother’s murderer seized the throne, he was made king with the support of a neighboring king.

The word “elahah” is used to describe the growth of the four Greek horns (8:8). This describes vertical growth, which is an appropriate word for them because they did not expand the Greek territory. They simply subdivided the area already occupied by Alexander the Great amongst themselves. In contrast the word “yatsah” is used to describe the growth of little horn (8:9). This describes horizontal growth and implies that the horn expands the area it occupies. The horizontal expansion of the predicted evil king is more specifically described as “toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land (Judea)” (8:9).

Antiochus IV did not expand his kingdom into those three directions. He did have some success to the south (Egypt), but in 165 BC, when the book was supposedly written, he was already ordered out of Egypt by the Romans. He also did not invade Judea. Judea was part of the kingdom when he became king. In the east he invaded nothing. At best he strengthened his control over the areas which his father already occupied. And if the south can be mentioned, then also the West, because he also invaded Cyprus when he invaded Egypt.

OPPOSES GOD

The predicted evil king in Daniel is a tyrant that opposes God and His saints as first principle. “His heart will be set against the holy covenant” (11:28, 30). He “will speak monstrous things against the God of gods” (11:36).

Antiochus IV was not principally opposed to the God of the Bible. His objective was merely to maintain authority over his empire. He ordered all peoples of his empire to abandon their particular customs; not only the Jews:

Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, each abandoning his particular customs. All the Gentiles conformed to the command of the king, and many Israelites were in favor of his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the Sabbath (1M1:41-43).

Antiochus IV did rob the Jewish temple, but he also robbed other temples (2 Macc 9:2) to pay his debt to the Romans.

After nearly 200 years of Hellenistic dominance over Israel the influence of the Hellenistic culture was strong, even without Antiochus IV forcing it down the throats of the peoples of his kingdom (1 Macc 1:11-14). Antiochus IV appointed rulers for all nations in his empire. He also appointed the high priest in Jerusalem. Since Judea was a temple kingdom, the high priest effectively was the king of Judea. A pro Hellenistic group of Jews ruled Judea. The Maccabean war began in 167 BC as a Jewish rebellion against the Jewish ruling party. When the Jewish rebels attacked Jerusalem and forced the high priest to hide in the citadel, Antiochus IV saw this as a revolt against his authority (2M 5:11). That is why he attacked Jerusalem. (II Macc 5:5-16) He did not attack Jerusalem because it worshipped God.

PRINCE OF THE COVENANT

The vile king “shattered … the prince of the covenant” (11:22). In the article on the horn-king of Daniel it has been shown, on the basis of word links, that “the prince of the covenant” is the same as the prince that “confirms the covenant with many for one week” (9:27). These are the only princes in Daniel that are linked to the covenant. In the article on Daniel 9 it was argued that the prince in 9:27 is our Creator Jesus Christ. “The prince of the covenant” is therefore also Jesus Christ.

This can be confirmed as follows: The “prince of the covenant” in Daniel 11 is arguable the same as the “the prince of the host” in 8:11 because both are the leader of God’s people. Critics propose that this prince is the high priest Onias III that was murdered during the reign of Antiochus IV. It is true that Bible sometimes refer to the high priest as a prince, but never as “prince of the host”. The only other reference in the Bible to the “prince of the host” is in Joshua 5:14-15, and here He is worshiped:

14 He said, “No; rather I indeed come nowas captain of the host of the LORD.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth … 15 The captain of the LORD’S host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” …

(The word translated “captain” in Joshua is the same word translated “prince” in Daniel 8:11, namely ‘sar’.)

This confirms that “the prince of the covenant” is Jesus Christ. Antiochus died 180 years before Jesus, and had nothing to do with His death.

Neither did Antiochus kill Onias III (eg NIV). The high priest was effectively the king in Israel, and in the same way that Antiochus IV appointed kings for other nations, he appointed the high priest in Israel. Antiochus replaced Onias III as high priest with Onias’s brother Jason and a few years later he replaced Jason with Menelaus. Menelaus did not like Onias’s criticism and had him killed in 171 BC. It would therefore not be valid to claim that Antiochus broke or shattered Onias. It was the Jewish leadership of the time that killed him.

TIME PERIODS

The purpose of the prophecies in Daniel is to identify the predicted evil king. He is the main character in Daniel. The preceding four kingdoms are only mentioned to allow us to identify him. All the time periods in Daniel relate to him:

The predicted evil king is not represented in Daniel 2 and there are no prophetic time periods in Daniel 2.

The first time period is the time and times and the dividing of time in Daniel 7, generally understood as 3½ years, during which the predicted evil king persecutes the saints (7:25).

The second time period is in Daniel 8, which announces that the sanctuary will be cleansed after 2300 “evening morning”; translated by the KJV as 2300 “days”. 2300 days is equal to more than 6 years, and does not fit the time of Antiochus IV. Critics read it as 2300 sacrifices, of which there was one each morning and one each evening, giving 1150 full days.

The third time period is the seventy sevens of Daniel 9, subdivided into 7 sevens, 62 sevens and the final seven.

To explain and to link the three major time periods, two further time periods are provided in Daniel 12, namely 1290 days and 1335 days.

Antiochus IV does not fit the time periods in Daniel. However, in the view of the critics, Daniel was written before the end of these time periods, and the writer was wrong with his predictions. Critics therefore do not require the time periods to fit history exactly. But at least two of the time periods precede the pollution of the temple by Antiochus, and these must fit the history exactly.

The first is the 483 years in Daniel 9. This prophecy requires 483 years from the “decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince” (9:25). In the schema proposed by critics the last week describes the time of Antiochus IV, which means that the preceding 483 years were past when their second century author wrote. The 483 years must therefore correspond to actual history, but to fit 483 years between the possible decrees and Antiochus is not possible. Critics have several very creative alternatives, but the article on Daniel 9 on this website shows clear flaws in such proposals.

The other time period that was past when the critics’ second century author wrote is the preceding 30 days of 12:11. This does not fit the time of Antiochus either. (This is a bit complex, and only a summary explanation will be provided here. A separate article on the time periods in Daniel and Revelation is planned which will explain this in more detail.)

Daniel 12:11 reads as follows:

And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. (KJV)

This explanation is given after Daniel asks for more information (12:8) after he was reminded of the 3½ years of persecution (12:7). The “1290 days” therefore explain the 3½ years of 12:7. Since 12:11 only specifies a start event, it is implied that the 1290 days and the 3½ years end at the same time. Since the 3½ years is equal to 1260 days (Rev. 12:6, 14), the 1290 days is 30 days longer than the 3½ years, and therefore start 30 days before the beginning of the persecution. (The alternative interpretation, which understands the 1260 days to be equal to 1290 days by playing around with leap years, makes a mockery of 12:11.)

The taking away of the “daily” and the setting up of the “abomination of desolation” (12:11), with which the 1290 days start, is the desecration of the sanctuary. Since the 1290 days start 30 days before the persecution commences, the sanctuary is desecrated 30 days before the saints are persecuted. In the view of the critics the second century author completed the book of Daniel while the sanctuary remained defiled and the saints were persecuted. These 30 days must therefore fit the history of Antiochus IV exactly, but it does not. It was rather the other way around. Accor­ding to I and II Maccabees the persecution of the Jews commenced before the temple was desecra­ted.

A related point is that, in the interpretation as proposed by the critics, the time periods in Daniel conflict with one another. Critics assume that the 2300 is equal to 1150 real days, and that this is the duration of the defilement of the sanctuary. But then the 1150 days and the 1290 days commence at the same time, namely when the sanctuary is defiled, which means that the 1150 days end 140 days before the end of the 1290 days. This means that the saints are persecuted for 140 days after the sanctuary has been cleansed. This is not logical. Critics have no acceptable explanation for the differences between the times periods; the 2300 “evening morning”, the 3½ times and the 1260, 1290 and 1335 days.

Lastly, the 1290 starts with “the abomination that maketh desolate set up”. Critics interpret this as the setting up of a statue of Zeus in the Jewish temple by Antiochus IV, but Jesus said:

Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand). (Mat 24:15)

Jesus therefore placed the 1290 days in the future. It cannot refer to what Antiochus IV did.

OTHER DIFFERENCES

The following are further identifications that do not fit Antiochus IV:

Distribute the plunder: The predicted evil king “will distribute plunder, booty and possessions among them” (11:24). This was not true of Antiochus IV. To the contrary, he had owed huge sums of war debt to Rome following his father’s defeats against the Romans, and needed the money.

Magnify himself: The king … will exalt and magnify himself above every god and … He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers … nor will he show regard for any other god; for he will magnify himself above them all” (11:36-37). Antiochus did not “magnify himself above every god”. Neither did he had no regard the God of his fathers. To the contrary; he promoted the religion of his fathers. For instance, he set a statue of Zeus up in the temple in Jerusalem.

Strange god:But instead he will honor a god of fortresses, a god whom his fathers did not know” (11:38). Antiochus’s aim was that all people should serve the gods of his fathers.

CONCLUSION

Critics may argue that Daniel describes Antiochus as more evil and powerful than he really was because their second century Jewish author was emotionally wrapped up in the destruction of everything sacred to the Jews, with a consequential loss of objectivity. For this reason, they may argue, he described Antiochus as ruling by deceit, more powerful than all other Greek kings and as apposing God as first principle. However, if the predicted evil king is supposed to be a description of Antiochus, then Daniel includes factually incorrect information that cannot be ascribed to a lack of objectivity, such as:

      • His immediate predecessor was destroyed within few days.
      • He started small, with few supporters, but eventually became exceedingly great.
      • He appeared on the scene 483 years after a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.
      • He promoted a “strange god”, unknown to his fathers.

Daniel 11:2-19 correlates well with the history until the death of Antiochus III in verse 19 and there are many similarities between Antiochus and the predicted evil king, but Antiochus IV by no means exhausts the passage. Antiochus IV is not the complete fulfillment of Daniel’s predicted evil king. Antiochus IV is a type of the predicted evil king, but for the complete fulfillment of the prophecies we must search for a later and much more powerful evil king. Daniel 11 may therefore be understood as two stories intertwined.  The text seems to describe the history up to and including Antiochus IV, but while discussing Antiochus IV it jumps to a future and worldwide evil king.

TO: General Table of Contents

Antiochus and Daniel’s Evil King – Summary

TO: the more detailed discussion: Antiochus and Daniel’s Evil King

This high level summary provides an overview of the types of evidence that are more fully discussed in the main document.

Critical scholars are convinced that the evil king predicted by Daniel chapters 7, 8 and 11 points to Antiochus IV.

The article “Daniel’s evil king; Greek or Roman?”, published on this website, has shown that this evil king comes out of the Roman Empire. It therefore cannot refer to Antiochus IV. Antiochus furthermore does not fit the profile of the predicted evil king:

His immediate predecessor (Seleucus IV) is not known as “a raiser of taxes” (11:19); any more than his father.

Seleucus IV was further not destroyed “within few days” (11:19), but reigned for 13 years.

Antiochus IV did not “seize the kingdom by intrigue” (11:21). He became king with the help of the Pergamene monarch.

History also does not identify him to “cause deceit to succeed” (8:25), any more than other Greek kings.

He was not greater than all his predecessors (7:20), which included Alexander the Great. His father lost major battles against the Romans. Consequently he grew up as a hostage in Rome, and his whole life he was subject to increasing Roman ascendancy.

He did not start small (7:8; 8:9), later to expand exceedingly great (8:9). Immediately after the death of his brother he was made king of the entire kingdom.

Neither did he expand his kingdom “toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land” (8:9).

He was not a tyrant that opposed God and His saints as first principle. He ordered all peoples of his empire to abandon their particular customs, robbed temples of various gods and attacked Jerusalem because it revolted against his authority, not because it worshipped God.

He did not kill “the prince of the covenant”; identified by the links in Daniel 8 and 9 as Jesus Christ. Antiochus died 180 years before Jesus, and had nothing to do with His death.

He did not appear on the scene 483 years after a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Daniel 9).

He did not take away the “daily” and set up the “abomination of desolation” 30 days before he started to persecute the saints (12:11). Antiochus did it the other way round; the persecution commenced before the temple was desecra­ted.

Interpreting Antiochus as the predicted evil king, critics have no acceptable explanation for the differences between the times periods; the 2300 “evening morning”, the 3½ times and the 1290 and 1335 days.

Jesus said to the disciples that the 1290 days will start in the future (compare Mat 24:15 to Dan 12:11). The 1290 days therefore cannot relate to the time of Antiochus.

Antiochus IVdid not “distribute plunder, booty and possessions among them” (11:24).

He did not “exalt and magnify himself above every god” (11:36). Neither could it be said that he had no regard for the gods of his fathers (11:37).

He also did not serve and promote a “strange god”, unknown to his fathers (11:38). To the contrary, he ordered all in his kingdom to serve his gods.

Critics may argue that Daniel describes Antiochus as more evil and as more powerful than what he really was because their second century Jewish author was emotionally wrapped up in the destruction of everything that were sacred to the Jews, with a consequential loss of objectivity. However, if the predicted evil king is supposed to be a description of Antiochus, then Daniel includes factually incorrect information that cannot be ascribed to a lack of objectivity, such as:

    • His immediate predecessor was destroyed within few days.
    • He started small, with few supporters, but eventually became exceedingly great.
    • He appeared on the scene 483 years after a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.
    • He promoted a “strange god”, unknown to his fathers.

Daniel 11:2-19 correlates well with the history until the death of Antiochus III in verse 19 and there are many similarities between Antiochus and the predicted evil king, but Antiochus IV by no means exhausts the passage. Antiochus IV is not the complete fulfillment of Daniel’s predicted evil king. Antiochus IV is a type of the predicted evil king, but for the complete fulfillment of the prophecies we must search for a later and much more powerful evil king. Daniel 11 may therefore be understood as two stories intertwined.  The text seems to describe the history up to and including Antiochus IV, but while discussing Antiochus IV it jumps to a future and worldwide evil king.

TO: the more detailed discussion: Antiochus and Daniel’s Evil King

TO: General Table of Contents

Daniel’s Evil Horn—Greek or Roman?

This article was replaced by the series of articles on Daniel, starting with Daniel 2.

A Word copy of this article is available for download:
Daniel’s evil horn–Greek or Roman

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Purpose

2. Daniel 2; Overview

3. Daniel 7; Overview
     
a The Four Kingdoms
      b The Horns
      c The Eleventh Horn

4. Daniel 8
     
The horn equivalent is to the horn in Daniel 7
      b  Three Interpretations of the horn
      c  Beasts compared
      d  Separate Mede kingdom?
      e  Darius the Mede
      f  From one from them
      g  Where is Rome in Daniel 8?

5. Daniel 11
     
Critics’ interpretation is based on Daniel 11
      b  Daniel 11; the first 20 verses
      c  The vile person is the horn
      d  Prince of the covenant (11:22)
      e  Relative chronology
      f  Emphasis on Antiochus III
      g  Where is Rome in Daniel 11?
      h  Antiochus as type

6. Conclusion

PURPOSE

The Macedonian (Greek) Empire, which encompassed the nation of Israel (Judea), ruled from about 330 B.C. for nearly 300 years.  Antiochus IV was a king of this empire.  He ruled between 168 and 165 BC.  He defiled the temple in Jerusalem in the year 168 B.C. and persecuted the Jews. 

In academic circles (critics) it is believed that he was the evil king presented in the prophecies of Daniel chapters 7, 8 and 11, and that the book Daniel was compiled after Antiochus defiled the temple.  The purpose of this document is to oppose this view, and to show that the evil king in the book of Daniel arises in time after Rome has become the dominant power and therefore cannot be Antiochus IV.

Academics base their view on their belief that accurate long term predictions are impossible.  Since particularly Daniel 11 depicts historical events very accurately, they conclude that the book of Daniel must have been written after these events.

The Dead Sea Scrolls and other resources prove that Daniel was written before Rome has become the dominant power.  If it can be shown that the evil king in Daniel, according to the prophecies of Daniel, arises after the Roman Empire, it also proves that the book of Daniel contains real long range predictions.

An article has already been published on this website in which it was argued that the cutting off of the Messiah Prince of Daniel 9 refers to the death of our Creator, Jesus Christ.  Since He was killed after Rome became the dominant power, that article also proves that the book of Daniel contains real long range predictions.

Daniel 2

This section is a summary of the article, The metal man of Daniel 2.  The vision in Daniel 2 uses the statue of a man to divide human history into six successive periods:

Its head of gold (2:32) represents the Babylonian Empire.

Its breast of silver (2:32) is “another kingdom inferior to” the Babylonian Empire (2:39), which will follow “after” the Babylonian Empire (2:39).

Its belly and thighs of bronze (2:32) is “another third kingdom of bronze, which will rule over all the earth” (2:39).

Its legs of iron (2:33) is “a fourth kingdom as strong as iron; inasmuch as iron crushes and shatters all things, so, like iron that breaks in pieces, it will crush and break all these in pieces” (2:40).

Its feet partly of iron and partly of clay (2:33) is “a divided kingdom” (2:41).  Many kings will rule at the same time over different kingdoms.

A stone was cut out without hands” (2:34).  “Without hands” means supernatural.  This stone completely evaporates the entire image.  “Not a trace of them was found” (2:35).  “But the stone … became a great mountain and filled the whole earth” (2:35).  This is a “kingdom which will never be destroyed” (2:44).

Daniel 7

This section is a summary of the article The four beasts of Daniel 7.  In the vision of Daniel 7, four beasts (a lion, a bear, a leopard and a dreadful beast) come out of the sea (v3).

The sea is the people of the world, for verse 17 explains that these kings will “arise from the earth.”

Each of the four beasts is a “kingdom”, consisting of a series of kings.  For instance, verse 23 explains that the “fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth.

These kingdoms will not reign at the same time, but—like the metal-kingdoms of Daniel 2—they will reign one after the other.  For instance, the fourth beast “was different from all the beasts that were before it” (verse 7).

The beasts are the same kingdoms as in Daniel 2, for both Daniel 2 and 7 have four successive kingdoms, followed by a divided period, followed by the eternal kingdom (2:44; 7:24-27).

The ten horns

Ten horns grow out of the fourth beast-kingdom.  These horns are the same as the divided kingdom of Daniel 2:

Both are a multitude of kings.
Both grow out of the fourth empire.
Both continue until eternal kingdom.

The following can therefore be concluded:

Since the divided kingdom in Daniel 2 follows after the fourth kingdom, the ten horns also follow after the end of the fourth kingdom.

Since the divided kingdom consists of many kings that reign at the same time, the ten kings also do not exist one after the other, but at the same time.

Eleventh Horn

The descriptions of the beasts in Daniel 7 give additional information about the kingdoms in Daniel 2.  But the most important additional information in Daniel 7 is about an evil king that will reign during the time of the horns.  It is symbolized by an eleventh horn that “came up among them” and uproot three of the other horns (7:8).  It persecutes the saints, blaspheme God, and intend to change times and law (7:25).

DANIEL 8

Daniel 8 uses only two animals—a ram and a goat:

RAM:  The ram appears first in the vision, conquering to the north, west, and south (vss. 3-4).  The ram is explicitly identified as Mede-Persia (8:20).

GOAT:  The goat with its principal horn came on the scene of action next. By defeating the Persian ram it became the dominant power (vss. 5-7).  The ram is explicitly identified as Greece (8:20-21).

Daniel 8 then explains the horns:

FOUR HORNS:  The principal horn of the goat was broken and four horns, extending out to the four winds of heaven, came up in its place (vs. 8).  Commentators generally concur that these four horns are the four kingdoms into which Alexander’s empire was divided.  The interpretation of the following character is more controversial:

LITTLE HORN:  Another horn (“a little horn“) appeared on the scene.  It did not attack the other beasts or kingdoms, but was:

against God’s people, identified as “the host of the stars” (vss. to, 24).
against God’s work of redemption, described as the tamid (daily or continual) and the temple (vss. 11-12), and
against God’s principal representative: “the Prince of the host” or “the Prince of princes(vss. 11, 25).

Daniel then heard two heavenly beings discussing the vision. One asked:

For how long is the vision concerning the [tamid], the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled under foot?

The other answered:

Unto 2300 evening-mornings, then the sanctuary shall be cleansed/restored.

Daniel 8 mentions neither the first kingdom of Daniel 7 (Babylon) nor the last (eternal) kingdom, but provides additional information about the key figure—the evil horn-king.  Most of Daniel 8 is about this king.

THE HORNS ARE THE SAME

It is generally agreed that the evil horn of Daniel 8 is equivalent to the evil horn of Daniel 7, for the following reasons:

HORNS:  The same symbol (horn) is used for both.  If a historical distinction had been intended here, the best way would have been to use a different symbol.

ACTIONS:  They do the same things.  Both begin small and become great (7:8 and 8:9); both are blasphemous powers (7:8, 25 and 8:11, 25); both persecute the saints of God (7:21, 25 and 8:11, 25); for both a period of time is described (7:25 and 8:14); both are the last in a series of symbols and they eventually suffer similar fates (7:26 and 8:25).

AMPLIFY:  Virtually all commentators accept that, in the book of Daniel, the later prophecies amplify the earlier ones.  For instance, the four empires of Daniel 2 were repeated in Daniel 7, with additional information.  Additional details are given about them and their divisions, in particular through the use of horns to represent their major divisions.  The book itself also mentions this principle at least twice.  In 9:22-23 Gabriel says that he came to give Daniel understanding of “the vision”, which would be the vision in the previous chapter.  In Daniel 10-12 Daniel receives a “message” (10:1).  The purpose of the message was to explain the “vision” (10:1, 14).  This therefore also refers to the vision in Daniel 8, as that is the last “vision” in the book of Daniel.  The later chapters all explain that vision.  If this principle is applied to Daniel 8, the vision of Daniel 8 becomes an amplification of the vision of chapter 7.

THE HORN: THREE INTERPRETATIONS

The key character in Daniel 8:9-14 is a little horn that blasphemes God and persecutes His people.   Commentators have applied the preterist, futurist, and historicist schools of prophetic interpretation in their attempt to identify this little horn, its period of 2300 evening-mornings and the sanctuary which it will profane:

Preterists are committed to the view that the majority of the prophecies of the book of Daniel have already been fulfilled and, therefore, have no significance for the present day. Thus they hold that the little horn rose from one of the divisions of Alexander’s empire. They conclude that the activities of the little horn unmistakably point to Antiochus IV Epiphanes.  They have proposed that the 2300 “evening-mornings” should be interpreted as 2300 individual morning and evening sacrifices, or 1150 literal days. These should be applied to events in the career of Antiochus IV Epiphanes in the second century B.C.  Preterists claim the sanctuary refers to the temple in Jerusalem which was polluted by Antiochus and later purified by the victorious Jewish rebels.  The purification was completed before January 1, 164 B.C.

Futurists generally follow this line of interpretation also.  In addition, they see Antiochus as a type of an end-time antichrist who is to arise in the final years of earth’s history before Christ’s Second Advent.  As a type of the work of the final antichrist, some futurists have applied the “evening-mornings” as literal evenings and mornings, or 2300 days, which they claim have not yet begun, because the final manifestation of an antichrist belongs to the future.  During the final seven years of earth’s history a literal temple (to be rebuilt in Jerusalem for the Jews) will be polluted by an antichrist.  The temple will be restored when Christ comes and puts an end to the reign of the antichrist.

Historicists declare that the prophecies in Daniel portray an outline of history and the story of the on-going struggle between good and evil down to the end of time. Since a flow of history appears to be involved here, especially when Daniel 8 is compared with Daniel 7, the historicist holds that the little horn represents Rome—in its papal phase (the Roman Church).  Utilizing the day-for-a-year principle, historicists have held that the 2300 evening-mornings refer to a period of 2300 literal years, commencing with the Persian Ram and concluding with the recovery of the message of the Bible after the distortion of the Middle Ages.  The purification of the sanctuary is interpreted symbolically as the restoration of God’s people and/or their message—of which the cleansing of the earthly sanctuary in ancient Israel on the Day of Atonement was a symbol.

These three views on the interpretation of the various elements in Daniel 8:9-14 may be summarized as follows:

Element Preterlst Historicist Futurist
1. Little horn Antiochus IV Roman Church Future Antichrist
2. 2300 days Literal days 1150 past 2300 years Literal future 2300 days
3. Temple In Jerusalem God’s people To be re-erected
4. Cleansing Before 164 BC God’s people/message Return of Christ

To evaluate these views, the kingdom from which this horn arises must be identified:

BEASTS COMPARED

Historicists and futurists (conservatives) align the beasts of Daniel 7 as follows to the symbols of Daniel 8 and 2:

Daniel 2

Gold

Silver

Brass

Iron

Daniel 7

Lion

Bear

Leopard

Dreadful beast

Daniel 8

 

Ram (Mede-Persia)

Goat (Greece)

 

If this is correct, and the bear is Mede-Persia and the Leopard is the Greek empire, then the Dreadful Beast must represent Rome, because that was the next empire in history. Then the little horn comes about in the Roman period.

The Preterist School, which is essentially comprised of critical scholars, effectively read Daniel backwards.  They first identify the “despicable” of Daniel 11 (v21) as Antiochus IV.  Then, since the evil horns of Daniel 7 and 8 are the same as the “despicable” (as we agree), they identify the evil horns of Daniel 7 and 8 also as Antiochus IV.  But since Antiochus was a Greek king, this means that the fourth kingdom in Daniel 7 (the dreadful beast) must be the Greek Empire.  But then the question is: What are the Bear and Leopard kingdoms between the Babylonian and Greek empires?  To solve this problem Critics split Mede-Persian Empire into two separate empires and align the symbols as follows:

Daniel 2

Gold

Silver

Brass

Iron

Daniel 7

Lion

Bear

Leopard

Dreadful Beast

Daniel 8

Ram (Medes)

Ram (Persia)

Goat (Greece)

In this schema the Ram of Daniel 8 is equal to both the Bear and the Leopard of Daniel 7, and the Goat of Daniel 8 is equivalent to the Dreadful Beast of Daniel 7.  One way to determine which schema best fits the text of Daniel is to compare the descriptions of the animals in Daniel 7 and Daniel 8.

Firstly, contrary to the proposal by the critics, the Ram and the Leopard do not appear similar.  Consider their descriptions:

Leopard

Ram

Four wings (v6);
Four heads (v6);

Two horns—one higher (v3);
Higher horn came out last (v3);
Charges to West, North and South (v4);

The Ram has two horns while the Leopard has four heads.  The heads and horns seem to indicate the divisions of the kingdom.  The Ram and the Leopard therefore do not seem to be related.

Secondly, also contrary to the proposal by the critics, the Goat and the Dreadful Beast do not appear similar.  Consider their descriptions:

Dreadful Beast Goat
Terrible & very strong (v7);
Iron teeth (v7);
Bronze claws (v19);
It devoured; broke in pieces (v7);
Stamped residue with its feet (v7);
Different from the other beasts (v7);
Ten horns (v7);
From west (v5);
Not touching the ground (v5);
One conspicuous horn (v5);
Great horn broken when strong (v8);
Four horns to the four winds (v8)

The Goat has one horn at first and then later four.  The Dreadful Beast first has 10 horns, and then an 11th comes up which “pluck out” three of the ten horns by their “roots”, leaving 8 horns.  Since horns symbolize the divisions of these kingdoms, the Goat and the Dreadful Beast are not related.

Thirdly, consistent with the conservative view, the Ram and the Bear are similar in appearance

TWO SIDES: For both their two sides are emphasized, with one side higher than the other.  The Bear is “raised up on one side” (7:5) while the Ram has two horns; one being longer than the other.

CONQUERED THREE: Both conquered three others:  The Bear has three ribs between its teeth (7:5).  Since animals are used as symbols for kingdoms, the ribs represent the kingdoms or territory conquered.  The Ram pushes in three directions (8:4—West, North and South).

This implies that the Ram and the Bear represent the same empire.  The Ram is explicitly identified as “the kings of Media and Persia” (8:20).  Its two disproportionate horns are specifically identified as the kings of Media and Persia (vs. 20), expressing the same duality that is found in the bear.  The two horns of the ram and the two sides of the bear symbolize the composite nature of the kingdom formed by a fusion of the Medes and Persians.  The longer horn that came out last and the higher side of the bear refers to the Persians.  Initially Medes dominated Persia, but Cyrus reversed the relationship so that Persia dominated the Medes when their combined forces conquered Babylon.

The Medes and Persians are of the same race (Iranians).  Their kingdom expanded from the East towards Babylon and Judea.  The three ribs in the Bear’s mouth and the three directions in which the Ram pushes (West, North and South) may reasonably be taken as representing the three major conquests of the combined forces of the Medes and Persians in the sixth century BC: Lydia in the north in 547, Babylon in the west in 539, and Egypt in the south in 525.

Fourthly and lastly, consistent with the conservative view, the Goat and the Leopard are similar in appearance:

FAST: Both are represented as very fast.  The Leopard has four wings while the Goat flies.

FOUR: Both consist of four parts.  The Leopard has four heads, while four horns grow from the Goat’s head.

This implies that the Goat and the Leopard represent the same empire.  The Ram is explicitly identified as “the kingdom of Greece” (8:21), or the Macedonian Empire as it is known.  The speed of its quests refers to the speed by which Alexander the Great conquered the known world—within 10 years—and the four heads and four horns symbolize the four Greek Empires that came into being after Alexander’s death at the age of 33.

Conclusion

The comparison of the characteristics of the animals therefore does not support the preterist view, but supports the conservative interpretation, which identifies the third as the Greek Empire and the Fourth as the Roman Empire.  On the basis that the little horns of Daniel 7 and 8 refer to the same historical entity—as argued above, it follows that the horn comes out of Rome.  It cannot be Antiochus IV.

MEDIA AND PERSIA

One can also evaluate the validity of the critics’ separation of the Medes and Persians into two separate empires.  Critics propose that the author of Daniel inserted the Medes as a separate empire because of the predictions in Isaiah and Jeremiah that Babylon would fall to the Medes.  They consequently propose that, according to Daniel, the Neo-Babylonian Empire fell to the Medes under “Darius the Mede” (5:30-31; 6:28), preceding the reign of the Persian king, Cyrus the Great (10:1).

Historically this would be wrong.  The Medes were conquered about 550 BCE by the Persians.  It was the joint forces of the Persians and the Medes that conquered Babylon eleven years later, with Cyrus the Great as their supreme king.

It is also not consistent with Daniel.  Daniel’s author consistently viewed the Medes and Persians as a single entity, as indicated by the following:

FORCES: Daniel prophesied that Babylon would be conquered by the joint forces of the Medes and the Persians (5:28).

LAW: Daniel 6:9, 13 and 16 refers to the unchangeable law of the Medes and the Persians.

RAM: The ram is identified as “the kings of Media and Persia” (8:20).

MEDES: Daniel never refers to a separate Median kingdom.  He only refers to a person (Darius) as a Mede, but within the context of the Persian Empire (compare 10:1 to 11:1-2).

CONFLICT: There is no indication in Daniel of a conflict between the Medes and the Persians which resulted in the dominance of Persia.

Furthermore, the author would be inconsistent to describe both Media and Persia by a single beast in Daniel 8, but as two different beasts in Daniel 7 and as two different metals in Daniel 2.

DARIUS THE MEDE

Critics argue that the author of Daniel committed a historical blunder when he referred to Darius the Mede in 5:31-6:28 and 9:1. The argument runs as follows:

Although no such figure is known from history, Daniel’s reference to him thereby allowed for a separate Median kingdom between the Neo-Babylonian rulers, Nabonidus and Belshazzar, on the one hand, and the Persian king, Cyrus, on the other.

In a separate article on this website it is argued that Darius might have been the throne name for Ugbaru (Greek Gobryas), the general who conquered Babylon for Cyrus, and who was appointed by Cyrus as king over the “kingdom of the Chaldeans” (9:1)—one of the kingdoms in the Persian Empire—but who died three weeks after the conquest of Babylon.  He ruled only for one week, which explains why archaeologists have not yet found him in recorded history.

FROM ONE FROM THEM (Daniel 8)

Critics argue that 8:8-9 confirms that the little horn comes from one of the four Greek horns, and must therefore be a Greek king, like Antiochus IV Epiphanes.  

Nouns and pronouns in Hebrew have genders which require agreement.  The last phrase in 8:8, together with the beginning of 8:9, which specifies where the horn came from, with the relevant words marked (f) for feminine or (m) for masculine, reads as follows:

… the great horn was broken; for it came up four notable ones (horns (f) NASB) toward the four (f) winds (f) of heaven (m).  And out of one (f) of them (m) came forth a little horn (KJV)

To understand where the little horn comes from, we need to understand what the words “one” and “them” refer to:

The “them” in 8:9 must agree in gender and number with its antecedent (the previously mentioned noun to which it refers).  The word “them” in 8:9 is a masculine plural and the only masculine plural in the previous verse is “heaven”.  (“Heaven” is always plural [heavens] in biblical Hebrew.  The Hebrew word for “horn” is always feminine.  The word for “winds” is written in 8:8 as a feminine plural.)

The numeral “one” is feminine in form.  Firstly, it therefore does not have the same antecedent as the word “them”.  The first and second nouns must be different.  It therefore cannot refer to “one” of the heavens.  Secondly, the “one” can either refer to one of the horns or to one of the winds.  (The word “winds” means the four directions of the compass.)  Putting the above together, the phrase “out of one of them” can therefore either mean:

  1. Out of one of the horns of the heavens, or
  2. Out of one of the winds (compass directions) of the heavens

These options satisfy the gender requirements.  However, the first option is not acceptable because heavens do not have horns and horns nowhere else in Daniel come out of horns.  Since “the four winds of heaven” is the last phrase in verse 8, the second option is preferred.  The first phrase of 8:9 lines up as follows with the last phrase of 8:8:

  Feminine Masculine  
8:8 there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of the heavens  
8:9 from the one from them came forth a rather small horn

To summarize, verse 8 states that four horns appeared in the place of the great horn that was broken.  They extended “toward the four winds of the heavens.”  Verse 9 begins by saying that the little horn came from one of these four winds of the heavens, that is, from one of the directions of the compass.  It therefore did not come from one of the Greek horns, and is therefore not Greek in origin.

WHERE IS ROME IN DANIEL 8?

Critics challenge the conservative interpretation by asking: Where Rome is in Daniel 8?  Daniel 8 does not seem to describe another empire between the Greek Empire and the evil horn. 

Firstly, one needs to understand that Daniel 7 did not present the little horn as an entirely new entity, but as a continuation of the beast.  The beast remains alive as long as the horn is alive:

Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire. (7:11)

The beast and its dreadful horn are therefore described by Daniel 7 as a single entity.

Secondly, Daniel 8 does allow for political Rome.  The growth of the horn in Daniel 8, as described in verses 9 to 11, consists of two phases.  The first phase is horizontal growth:

a rather small horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Beautiful Land. (8:9)

The second phase is vertical growth:

It grew up to the host of heaven and caused some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it trampled them down. It even magnified itself to be equal with the Commander of the host; and it removed the regular sacrifice from Him, and the place of His sanctuary was thrown down. (8:10-11)

The horn does not literally grow up to the stars.  The stars are symbols of God’s people, and the trampling of the stars is the same as the persecution of God’s people described by Daniel 7 (7:21, 25).  The Commander of the host is God—“Him who lives forever” (12:7).

The horizontal expansion of the horn is its political phase, and parallels the fourth beast of Daniel 7 when it “devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it” (7:8, 23).  The vertical expansion is the horn’s religious phase, parallel to the evil horn of Daniel 7.  Daniel 8 therefore merges the beast and its prominent horn into a single symbol—the horn.

This may be explained as follows:  Daniel 2 does not mention any anti-God activities, but Daniel 7 divides the fourth empire into a political phase, described in two verses (7:7, 19), and a subsequent phase during which an anti-God power will reign, described in about six verses.  Daniel 8 includes both phases under the symbolism an evil horn.  This indicates that the religious power is more important than the political power from which it came.  In fact, that religious power is more important than all four political empires.  The prophecies only mention the political empires to enable us to identify the evil anti-God power.

INTERPRETATION BASED ON DANIEL 11

The vision in Daniel 10-12 is important because, as mentioned above, critics actually derive the Antiochus-interpretation (the Maccabean thesis) from this vision, and then apply this interpretation to the earlier chapters.  As one critic wrote:

Daniel was written during the period of the Maccabees, in the middle of the 2nd century B.C., or about 400 years after the events it describes.  Its origin is betrayed in chapter 11, when Daniel supposedly prophesies about the future.

DANIEL 11; FIRST 20 VERSES

There are no animals in the vision in Daniel 10-12.  The Persian kingdom is identified by name (11:2), but none of the later kingdoms or kings is named.  Instead, the names “king of the south” and “king of the north” are used; each for an entire kingdom consisting of a whole series of kings.  The reader has to identify the relevant king by comparing the events described by the prophecy with actual history.

While many prophetic details in Daniel 11 are difficult to interpret, interpreters are in general agreement in interpreting verses 1- 13:

Verse 2 predicts four more Persians kings, and that the fourth will attack Greece.  This was the Persian king Xerxes.  By virtue of his failed attack on the Greeks he brought the Greek nation onto the ‘world’ scene.

Then verse 3 jumps 150 years over the remaining Persians kings to the first Greek king—the “mighty king” (Alexander the Great) (11:3).

Verse 4 refers to the four divisions into which Alexander’s kingdom was divided after his death.

Under the names “king of the north” and “king of the south” verse 5 onwards describes the two divisions of Alexander’s empire that were threats to Judea.  The “king of the north” was the series of Seleucid kings of the Middle East and the “king of the south” refers to the series of Ptolemaic kings of Egypt.  From verse 5 to 13 the Ptolemies and Seleucids follow in an order that can be determined with reasonable certainty down to the Seleucid Antiochus III.

Beginning with the troublesome reference to the “breakers of your people” in verse 14, however, interpretations diverge.  Critics agree that verses 14 to 19 describe Antiochus III.  To quote a critical scholar:

Daniel 11:2-20 is a very accurate & historically corroborated sequence of events from the third year (10:1) of the Persian era up to the predecessor of Antiochus IV: some 366 years!  Only the names and dates are missing.  Most of the details are about the conflicts between the kings of the South (the Ptolemies of Egypt) and the kings of the North (the Seleucids of Mesopotamia/ Syria).  The Seleucids are shown to become stronger and stronger (despite some setbacks) …  Of course, Jerusalem was in the middle and changed hand (197, from Egypt to Syria).

THE VILE PERSON IS THE HORN

The remainder of Daniel 11 describes the activities of a “vile person” (KJV; 11:21).  It is generally agreed that this “vile person” is the same as the horn of Daniel 8 and Daniel 7, argued as follows:

ELABORATE:  As argued above, the later prophecies in Daniel elaborate on the earlier prophecies.  Therefore, in chapter 11, where we no longer have beasts and horns representing kingdoms and their division, but rather a series of selected individual kings who ruled those kingdoms, it is still the same kingdoms.

PERSECUTION:  Both the horn and the vile person persecutes God’s people (7:25; 11:32-34);

3½ TIMES:  Both the horn and the vile person persecutes God’s people for a period of 3½ times (7:25; 12:7).  (The persecution by the vile person is described in 11:32-34, but when Daniel asked “How long shall it be?” (12:6), the answer is given “it would be for a time, two times, and half a time; and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be accomplished” (12:7).  This verse is not entirely clear, but it seems to say that the prophetic period “a time, two times, and half a time“, —a total of 3½ times—is the period of persecution for the holy people.  Since this question-and-answer dialogue comes at the end of the prophecy of Daniel 11·12, it relates to the previously mentioned persecution, which is the persecution in 11:32-34.

These 3½ times of Daniel 12:7 also occur in the Aramaic portion of Daniel—in Daniel 7:25—where it is also a time of persecution for the saints of the Most High, namely by the little horn.)

ABOMINATION: Both set up “the abomination (transgression/sin) that makes desolate” (11:31; 8:13).  (An abomination is a sin.  In Deut. 7:25 “graven images of their gods” are called “an abomination to the LORD your God”.) Both of these expressions tie in with the tamid (continual) in their respective contexts (compare 11:31 with 8:11-12).

TEMPLE:  The vile person profanes the strong temple (11:31), which is equivalent to the casting down of the place of the temple of the prince of the host by the horn in 8:11. 

TAMID:  Both remove the continual (tamid) (8:11; 11:31).

DECEIT:  Both work through deceit (8:25; 11:21-24) and both “magnify himself” (8:11; 11:36-37).

Daniel 11 therefore covers the same ground as Daniel 8, and provides additional information for the interpretation of Daniel 8; and therefore also for the question whether the little horn of Daniel 8 is Roman or Greek.

11:22; PRINCE OF THE COVENANT

The following is a rather literal translation of verse 22:

the arms of the flood are overflowed from before him, and are broken; and also the leader (nagid; prince–NASB) of the covenant (berit) (11:22; YLT)

The text presents a picture of inferior forces (“the arms of the flood“) being overwhelmed and defeated by the superior forces of the vile person. The lesser flood was to be flooded by an even greater flood of arms.

This verse is related to the prophecy of the death of Jesus Christ in Daniel 9:24-27, in a number of ways:

FLOOD: The word “flood” as a noun occurs only twice in Daniel—in 9:26 (“Its end shall come with the flood, and to the end there shall be war“) and 11:22.

NAGID:  The word ‘sar’ (translated “prince”) occurs 11 times in Daniel in various chapters (8:11, 25; 9:6, 8; 10:13, 20 [twice], 21; 11:5; 12:1), but the word ‘nagid’, which is also translated “prince” occurs only in 11:22 and in the prophecy of 9:24-27. In the prophecy of 9:24-27 it occurs first with the Messiah in verse 25 and then again alone in verse 26, where it refers to the prince “who is to come“.  The implication is that the “Messiah the Prince” (9:25), the “prince who is to come” (9:26) and “the prince of the covenant” (11:22) refer to the same individual—the Messiah Prince; Christ in His earthly incarnate state.

CUT OFF: In both 9:24-27 and 11:22 the nagid will be destroyed.  He is “cut off” (9:26) and ”broken” (11:22).

BERIT: The word berit (covenant) occurs in both passages.  Berit also occurs elsewhere in Daniel, but a prince is connected with the covenant only in these two passages.  In other words, only the nagid-prince is connected with the covenant.  In 9:26-27 it is the nagid who make strong the covenant for one week. (See article on Daniel 9.)  In 11:22 the nagid of the covenant is broken.  “Covenant” elsewhere in Daniel always refers to the covenant between God and His people (9:4; 11:28, 30, 32).

It is therefore concluded that the nagid in these two passages is the same individual, that the flood in the two passages refer to the same power and that the two passages refer the same events.  Since 9:24-27 refers to the death of Jesus Christ in the first century AD, the prophecy of Daniel 9 is fulfilled in the Roman period.  The same must therefore apply to 11:22.

Since the events in Daniel 11 are given in their chronological order, everything that follows after verse 22 must be sought sometime after the first century AD.  Just how long afterward is immaterial at this point, since we are only concerned here with the question whether the evil horn is Roman or Greek. 

In particular the setting up of the abomination (11:31) and the persecution of God’s people (11:32-34) follows after 11:22, and therefore somewhere after the crucifixion of Jesus.  This was confirmed by Jesus when He said:

Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), (Mat 24:15)

This phrase “abomination of desolation” comes from Daniel 11:31 and 12:11.  Jesus therefore also interpreted the vile person not as the Greek king Antiochus IV between 168 and 165 BC, but as an anti-God ruler that will arise later.

RELATIVE CHRONOLOGY

We are now able to establish a relative chronology between Daniel 11 and the earlier prophecies:

Daniel 11

Dan. 9

Dan. 8

Dan. 7

Persian kings (v2) Persian decree (v25) Persian ram (v2-4) Persian bear (v5)
Greek king (v3)   Greek goat (v5-7) Greek leopard (v6a)
Kings of North and South   Four horns (v8) Leopard’s four heads
Roman flood breaks Nagid of covenant (v22) Nagid cut off (v 25-27) Horizontal expansion (8:9) Fourth beast (v8, 23)
Vile person: profanes temple, set up abomination (v31), persecute for 3½ times (v32-34; 12:7)   Little horn: casts temple down, removes daily, transgression of desolation (v8-13) Little horn: persecute God’s people for 3½ limes;  (v25)

ANTIOCHUS III

Daniel 11 is quite brief about the earlier kings, but provides much detail about Antiochus III; the father and predecessor of Antiochus IV.  Critics argue that this emphasis on Antiochus III is a clear indication that the prophecy of the vile person points to Antiochus IV.

To this we respond as follows:  the fourth Persian king (Xerxes) was also highlighted earlier in Daniel 11 (v2), not to identify the Persian king that would follow him, but because his unsuccessful wars against Greece was a key turning point in history that shifted the balance of power in the known world from Mede-Persia to Greece.

In the same way Antiochus III’s unsuccessful war against the Romans, which is described in Daniel 11, was the key turning point that shifted the balance of power from the Greek Empire to Rome.  As a result he and his sons had to pay penalties to the Romans, and were left subject to the growing dominance of the Rome. 

This explains the significant attention to Antiochus III in Daniel 11.  It was for the same reason that Xerxes was emphasized in 11:2.  The purpose was not to identify the king that follow after Antiochus III, but rather that his reign was the key turning point for the shift in dominance from the Greek to the Roman Empires.

WHERE IS ROME IN DANIEL 11?

But the critics ask: Where is the Roman Empire in Daniel 11?  Daniel 11 seems to continue, without an intervening empire, from the Greek Empire (Antiochus III) to the vile person. 

To respond, we again refer to the key turning points, which shift the balance of power in favor of the next empire.  It is proposed, as a principle, that Daniel’s prophecies, once the key turning point has been reached, do not mention the previous empire any more, and jump right over the remaining kings to the next empire.

This is best explained by means of an example.  It was mentioned above that Xerxes’ war against the Greeks was a key turning point in history.  He is mentioned in verse 2.  Then the prophecy jumps over the next 150 years during which seven Persian kings reigned (Arlaxerxes I, Darius II, Xerxes II, Artaxerxes II, Artaxerxes Ill, Arses, and Darius III), to the first Greek emperor; Alexander the Great (11:3).

It is proposed that this principle equally applies to the shift from the Greek to the Roman empires.  Antiochus III’s war against Rome was another key turning point in history.  Then the prophecy jumps over the next 170, during which several Greek kings reigned, to the next empire (Rome).

This principle is also visible in Daniel 7 and 8.  The vision is Daniel 7 mentions Babylon, but the vision in Daniel 8, which was received only two years later (7:1; 8:1) does not.  It is proposed that the reason is that the key turning point, that shifted the balance of world power from Babylon to Mede-Persia, was between these two dates.  In this case Babylon was not involved.  In this case the war between the Medes and the Persians, which resulted in the prophesied Cyrus becoming supreme ruler of the Medes and the Persians, was the key turning point.

Applying this principle makes it quite possible to interpret 11:19 as a description of the death of Antiochus III and 11:22 as a description of the death of Christ 200 years later in the first century AD. 

Where is Rome?  Similar to Daniel 8 the vile person serves as a symbol for both the fourth kingdom in Daniel 7 (Rome) and the evil horn that arise from or after it:

Daniel 7 describes a fourth empire, followed by a ruler that wants to exterminate God’s people and God’s message.  But even in Daniel 7 the emphasis is on this anti-God ruler.  Daniel 7 describes the fourth empire in only two verses, but allows 6 verses for the evil horn.

Daniel 8 does not mention the Roman Empire directly, but only indirectly and in only a single verse (8:9).  It uses the same symbol for both the Roman Empire and worldwide anti-God ruler; namely the little horn that first expands horizontally (politically) and then vertically (religious growth).  Nearly all the attention is on the religious phase. 

Daniel 11 continues this trend by representing both the Roman Empire and the anti-God ruler as a single symbol; the despicable person.  Political Rome is only seen as the flood that flows away the “overflowing forces” and also flows away the “prince of the covenant” (11:22).  By far most of the description in Daniel 11 is about the subsequent anti-God king.

As mentioned before, the sole purpose of these prophecies and the first four kingdoms is to locate to worldwide anti-God ruler.  This is the reason for the ever reducing emphasis of the political phase of the fourth empire and an increasing emphasis on its religious phase.

DANIEL 11; ANTIOCHUS AS TYPE

But the critics are still not convinced.  They correctly argue that Antiochus IV fits the sequence of kings in Daniel 11:

Studies by the current author (comparing Daniel 11 to the history of the Seleucids kings as it is available on internet) have confirmed this.  It confirmed the majority interpretation up to 11:19, where Antiochus III dies.  The description of the vile person starts in 11:21.  Therefore, if 11:20 describes Seleucus IV (not Heliodorus), then Antiochus IV fits the sequence of kings. 

Critics also correctly argue that the history of Antiochus IV, such as the double invasion of Egypt (11:25, 29), and the persecution of God’s people, fits the descriptions of the “vile person” in the verses after 11:21 quite well.

For critics these are conclusive evidence that the vile person is Antiochus IV, and not the Roman Empire or some later ruler.

In response, it is very important to realize that the description of the “vile person” exceeds Antiochus IV.  For instance, Antiochus never gained authority or ruled through deceit (v21).  He did not distribute the plunder (v24).  He did not magnify himself above every god or not have regard for the god of his fathers, nor have regard for any god (v36-37).  And, as all agree, the events of the “time of the end” (v40-45) do not fit history at all.  As Desmond Ford noted:

Verses 21-35 fit his (Antiochus’s) time perfectly, but let it be noted that this interpretation by no means exhausts the passage (p 144; Daniel and the coming King).

Daniel 11 may therefore be understood as two stories intertwined.  The text describes the history up to and including Antiochus IV, but while discussing Antiochus IV it jumps to a future and worldwide evil king.  This also happens in Joel, where the prophet describes a local locust plague, but then suddenly jumps to the day of the Lord.  Isaiah 14 jumps from the king of Babylon to Lucifer, with no interruption (14:4, 12).  Ezekiel 28 jumps from the king of Tyre (v12) to an “anointed cherub who covers” (v14).  It is also similar to Matthew 24, where Jesus combined the description of the destruction of the temple in 70 AD and the end of the world.

The first story starts with the time of Persia and continues until Antiochus IV under the symbolism of the vile person.  The second is the story of a later worldwide evil king, also with the vile person as symbol, and continues until Michael stands up (12:1-3).

Understood this way, Antiochus IV is only a partial fulfillment of Daniel 11, to be followed by the final and fuller fulfillment by a much later and much larger anti-God ruler, in the same way as John the Baptist was a first representation of Elijah to come.  Understood in this way Antiochus IV serves as a type of the later anti-God ruler.

The vile person is therefore a double merge.  It merges the Roman Empire and its anti-God successor into a single symbol, but then also merges Antiochus IV into this symbol.

Why would God do this?  It is possible that God also reflected the events of Antiochus IV in Daniel 11, so that when the Jews see these events fulfilled in Antiochus IV they would accept the book as inspired and expect the coming of the Messiah as predicted in Daniel 9. 

CONCLUSION

The Critical View

Critics do not accept the possibility that the minutely accurate descriptions in Daniel of historical events up to the time of Antiochus IV could have been written in the sixth century BC.  They assume that these descriptions were written after the fact in the form of prophecies.

But since the New Testament refers a number of times to the book of Daniel, and since it takes a long time for a book to become accepted as inspired Scripture, the book of Daniel must have been written centuries before the NT.

Antiochus IV fit the sequence of kings and the activities of the evil king in Daniel 11 quite well.  Critics therefore propose that the book of Daniel was written in the time of Antiochus IV, that it was written in response to the persecution of the Jews by Antiochus IV, and that the evil king in Daniel represents this Antiochus.  Therefore Daniel would have been written approximately two centuries before the NT.

With this as the accepted view, critics have to interpret the prophecies accordingly.  To fit this view to Daniel 11, critics explain the prince of the covenant in 11:22 as the high priest Onias.  He was killed in the time on Antiochus.  But to fit this view to Daniel 2 and 7 is more difficult. To do that critics have a rather forced interpretation of the prophecy of those chapters.

Daniel 7

This document has provided proof that the forced interpretation of Daniel 2 and 7 is incorrect:

By comparing the beasts of Daniel 7 and Daniel 8, it has been shown that the fourth empire of Daniel 7 is the Roman Empire.  Consequently, the evil horn comes out the Roman Empire, and cannot represent the Greek king Antiochus IV Epiphanes.

Critics propose that the horns are individual kings of the fourth kingdom.  But it has been shown above, mostly on the basis of Daniel 2, that the horn-kings of the fourth beast in Daniel 7 rule after the fourth empire.

Critics propose that the author of Daniel split the Mede-Persian Empire into two empires, but it was shown above that the author of Daniel consistently treated the Mede-Persian Empire as a single empire.

Daniel 8

It has also been shown above that Daniel 8 does align well to the logical interpretation of Daniel 7:

Critics propose that 8:8-9 indicates that the little horn in Daniel 8 comes out of one of the Greek horns.  However, the antecedents of the pronouns in Daniel 8:8-9 indicate that the little horn comes out of one of the four directions of the compass, not from one of the four Greek horns, and is therefore not Greek.

Critics argue that the evil little horn in Daniel 8 is mentioned immediately after the Greek horns, with no intermediate empire.  However, it has been shown above that the little horn in Daniel 8 first grows horizontally, which is equivalent to the political phase of the fourth empire.  The horn of Daniel 8 therefore represents both the fourth kingdom and the horn of Daniel 7. 

Daniel 11

Conservatives base their interpretation mostly on Daniel 7 and 8, and often find it very difficult to explain Daniel 11.  The approach adopted in this document is as follows:

The linguistic links between Daniel 9:24-27 and 11:22 imply that the breaking of the prince of the covenant in 11:22 refers to the death of Jesus Christ in the first century AD.  Therefore the flood that shatters the nagid-prince of the covenant in 11:22 (and destroys the city and the sanctuary in 9:26) is the Roman Empire.

This means that the anti-temple activities and the persecution of God’s people later in Daniel 11 must occur some historical time after Christ’s death, and therefore during or after the Roman period.

In response to the criticism of this interpretation this article further argues as follows:

Daniel 11 emphasizes Antiochus III because his unsuccessful war against the Romans was the critical turning point that shifted the balance of power in the known world from the Greeks to the Romans.

Although Antiochus IV fits the sequence of kings in Daniel 11, Daniel 11:19-22 can be interpreted as a jump from Antiochus III to the Roman Empire because, as soon as a key turning point in history has been reached, the prophecies jump to the next empire.

The evil horn-king is the main purpose and main player in these prophecies, and in Daniel 11 the symbol of the evil king includes the fourth kingdom, symbolized by the flood (11:22). 

The history of Antiochus IV is reflected in the prophecies of Daniel, but Antiochus does not exhaust the prophecies.  The prophecies of Daniel simultaneously predict the persecutions of Antiochus and a much larger and much later anti-God ruler that will arise after the time of the Roman Empire.

For a more specific identification of the evil horn-king, please read the article on the seven headed beasts in Revelation.

God is in control

This document therefore supports the view that the book of Daniel was written before the time of Antiochus IV, and that the prophecies are real predictions of future events.  God is in control of history:

there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days (2:28).

the Most High God is ruler over the realm of mankind and that He sets over it whomever He wishes (5:21)

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