Antiochus IV does not fit the profile of the vile person in Daniel 11.

INTRODUCTION

Vile person – The KJV refers to the evil king in Daniel 11 as a “vile person.”  The eleventh horn of Daniel 7 and the little horn of Daniel 8 are other symbols for the same vile person.  This article frequently refers to this character as the vile person.

Antiochus IV – Critical scholars (the liberal interpretation) are convinced that the vile person is Antiochus IV; a Greek king that reigned in the middle of the second century BC.

Out of Rome – The article Daniel’s evil king; Greek or Roman shows that this evil king comes out of the Roman Empire. That is the empire that followed after the Greek Empire.  The vile person, therefore, cannot be a Greek king, such as Antiochus IV.

Purpose – The current article provides further evidence for this conclusion by showing that Antiochus IV does not fit the profile of the vile person in the book of Daniel.

SUMMARY

DECEIT

The vile person will “seize the kingdom by intrigue.”  That means, by plotting, conspiracy or trickery. He “cause deceit to succeed.” Antiochus IV was not any more deceitful than other Greek kings.

START SMALL, EXPANDS, BECOME GREATER

Start small – The vile person of Daniel starts out small and weak, but later become “exceedingly great.”  Antiochus IV did not start small. He was a Seleucid prince who became king after his oldest brother died.

Expands – The little horn of Daniel 8 expands its territory “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.

Greater – The eleventh horn of Daniel 7 becomes much larger than the other 10.  In the liberal interpretation, this means that Antiochus IV is greater than the other kings of that empire, which include Alexander the Great, Seleucus I Nicator and Antiochus III the Great. This is not true that Antiochus IV was greater than them.

ANTICHRIST

Opposes God – The vile person opposes God and His saints as the first principle.  He “will be set against the holy covenant” and “will speak monstrous things against the God of gods.”  This was not true of Antiochus IV. He ordered the various nations of his empire to abandon their particular customs; not only the Jews.  He appointed the Jewish high priest because he appointed rulers for all nations. He attacked Jerusalem, but not because it worshipped God.  He attacked it because Jewish rebels put the high priest, whom he appointed, to flight.

Prince of the covenant – The vile person “shattered … the prince of the COVENANT.” The Daniel 11 article shows that “the prince of the covenant” is the same as the prince who “confirms the COVENANT with many for one week” (9:27), who is identified in the Daniel 9 articles as Jesus Christ. This means that “the prince of the covenant” is also Jesus Christ.  Antiochus died 180 years before Christ and had nothing to do with His death.

TIME PERIODS 

There are a number of time periods in Daniel; the “time and times and half a time,” 2300 “evening morning,” seventy sevens, 1290 days and 1335 days.  In the liberal interpretation, all of these periods describe the reign of Antiochus IV; particularly his defilement of the Jewish temple.  But his monstrous acts do not fit these time periods.

However, the liberal interpretation does not require an exact fit for, in the view of the Critics, Daniel was written—not by Daniel—but by an uninspired writer.  Furthermore, they hold that Daniel was written before the end of these time periods, and the writer was simply wrong with his uninspired guesses.

But at least two of the time periods preceded the pollution of the temple by Antiochus IV.  They should, therefore, fit history exactly, but they do not.  These are the first 483 years of the 490 years of Daniel 9 and the first 30 “days” of the “1290 days” of 12:11.

Furthermore, in the interpretation as proposed by the critics, the time periods in Daniel conflict with one another.  Critics have no acceptable explanation for the differences between the times periods.

STRANGE GOD

“The king … will exalt and magnify himself above every god and … He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers.”  This Antiochus did not do.  His aim was rather the opposite.  It was a statue of Zeus which he set up in the temple in Jerusalem.

JESUS PREDICTED

Jesus placed “the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel” in the future.  It, therefore, cannot refer to something Antiochus IV did.

These concepts will now be discussed in more detail.

RULE BY DECEIT

Daniel 11:21 describes how the predicted vile person (despicable person in the NASB) 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. 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 evil king in Daniel 11 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 THAN OTHERS

ALEXANDER THE GREAT

The eleventh horn of Daniel 7 is another symbol for the vile person.  In 7:20, this horn is much larger than the other 10.  In the liberal interpretation, this means that he is greater than the other kings of that empire. In Daniel 8, the horn is even larger 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 than 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 Rome’s growing power. Antiochus IV, as a boy, grew up as a hostage in Rome because of these defeats.

Antiochus IV was weak compared to Alexander the Great, Seleucus I and compared to his father, Antiochus III the Great. He had success against the Ptolemy branch of the Greek kingdom (Egypt), but by the time that Critical scholars say Daniel was 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

The vile person of Daniel starts out small (7:8; 8:9) and weak (11:23; supported by few), but later became “exceedingly great” (8:9).  

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.

EXPANDS HORIZONTALLY

ALEXANDER THE GREAT

Daniel 8:8 uses the word “elahah” to describe the growth of the four Greek horns. This depicts 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, Daniel 8:9 uses the word “yatsah” to describe the growth of little horn (8:9). This depicts 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 in the south (Egypt), but in 165 BC, when the book was supposedly written, the Romans already ordered him out of Egypt. 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.

OPPOSES GOD

The vile person in Daniel is a tyrant that principally opposes God and His saints: “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 his subjects (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 person “shattered … the prince of the covenant” (11:22). The article on Daniel 11 shows, on the basis of word links, that “the prince of the covenant” is the same “prince” who “confirms the covenant with many for one week” (9:27). These are the only princes “of the covenant” in Daniel. The articles on Daniel 9 prove that the prince in 9:27 is Jesus Christ. “The prince of the covenant” is therefore also Jesus Christ.  Antiochus died 180 years before Jesus and had nothing to do with His death.

PRINCE OF THE HOST

That “prince of the covenant” refers to Jesus can be confirmed as follows: The “prince of the covenant” in Daniel 11 is arguably 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 in Daniel 11 is the high priest Onias III that was murdered during the reign of Antiochus IV. It is true that the Bible sometimes refers 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, where He is worshiped:

14 He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth15 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 implies that “the prince of the host” is Jesus Christ, which implies that the “prince of the covenant” also refers to Jesus. 

ONIAS KILLED

Critics claim that “the prince of the covenant” refers to the high priest Onias and that Antiochus killed him, but that is not true. As already stated, the high priest was effectively the king of 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 also 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, as Critics do. It was the Jewish high priest who arranged his death.

DOES NOT FIT TIME PERIODS

Through the prophecies in Daniel, God gave us information to identify the vile person; the Antichrist in Daniel. That is the only reason why Daniel mentions the preceding four kingdoms.  In the liberal interpretation, all the time periods in Daniel describe the evil king:

He does not appear in DANIEL 2 and there are no prophetic time period in that chapter.

The first time period in Daniel is the “time and times and the dividing of time” in DANIEL 7, often understood as 3½ years, during which the vile person 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.”  This 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. To get it closer to the period of Antiochus defilement of the temple, Critics interpret this 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.  (As interpreted by this website, this time period does not relate to the evil king.  See, Does Daniel 9 describe the same crisis as the other prophecies in Daniel?)

To explain and to link the other time periods, Daniel 12 provides two further time periods, namely 1290 days and 1335 days.

ANTIOCHUS AND THESE TIME PERIODS

Antiochus IV does not fit these time periods. 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 preceded the pollution of the temple by Antiochus IV, and they should fit 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 view of Critical scholars, the last week describes the time of Antiochus IV, which means that the preceding 483 years were past when their unidentified second-century author wrote. The 483 years must, therefore, correspond to actual history, but to fit 483 years between the possible decrees and Antiochus IV is not possible. Critics have several very creative solutions, but the article on the Liberal-critical interpretation of Daniel 9 shows clear flaws in such proposals.

The other time period that was past when the critics’ second-century author wrote, is the first 30 days of the 1290 days in Revelation 12:11. The 1290 days start with the desecration of the temple.  30 days later, the persecution of the saints begins and lasts for 1260 days.  (See below for an explanation.) 

In the view of the Critics, the second-century author completed the book of Daniel while the sanctuary was still defiled and the saints were still being 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. 

1290 DAYS

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 1290 days. (KJV)

Daniel received this explanation after asking 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. Since 12:11 only specifies a beginning event, it implies that the 1290 days and the 3½ years end simultaneously. Since the 3½ years is equal to 1260 days (see 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 beginning of the persecution of the saints. 

INCONSISTENT INTERPRETATIONS

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 “evening morning” 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.

JESUS PREDICTED THE ABOMINATION

The 1290 days start 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 something Antiochus IV did.

DISTRIBUTES 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.

HONORS A STRANGE GOD

“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).  “But instead he will honor a god of fortresses, a god whom his fathers did not know” (11:38).

This Antiochus did not do.  His aim was rather the opposite, namely that all people should serve the gods of his fathers.  It was a statue of Zeus which he set up in the temple in Jerusalem.

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, being more powerful than all other Greek kings and principally opposing God. However, if the “evil person” 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:

      • He started small.
      • He appeared on the scene 483 years after a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.
      • He promoted a “strange god”, unknown to his fathers.

As discussed in the Daniel 11 article, 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 vile person, but Antiochus IV by no means exhausts the passage. Antiochus IV is not the complete fulfillment of Daniel’s vile person. Antiochus IV is a type of the vile person, 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 in one.  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.

Articles in This Series

The Metal Man of Daniel 2 divides world history into six successive ages. 

The Four Beasts of Daniel 7 represent four successive empires. The ten horns exist simultaneously; after the fourth empire.  An eleventh horn becomes more powerful than the others, blasphemes God and persecutes His people.

The Three Alternative Interpretations of the evil eleventh horn are, (1) the Greek king Antiochus IV Epiphanes, (2) an end-time Antichrist, or (3) the Church.

A Comparison of the beasts of Daniel 7 and 8 identifies the fourth empire, from which the evil horn-king arises, is the Roman Empire.

Many centuries earlier, Daniel correctly predicted HOW the Roman Empire will fall in the fifth century after Christ

The evil horn comes “Out of One of Them” (Daniel 8). An analysis of the grammar shows that the small horn comes out of one of the winds of the heavens; not out of one of the Greek horns.

Daniel 11:22 describes the death of Jesus Christ. The abomination and the persecution of God’s people—later in that same chapter—therefore do not describe Antiochus IV.

Antiochus IV does not fit the profile.  He did not start small, expand his territory, become greater than his predecessors, use deceit, principally oppose God, introduce a strange god, kill the prince of the covenant, or reign for a time, times and half a time.

The proposed next article is The Seven-Headed Beasts of Revelation.

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