Antiochus IV does not fit Daniel’s description of the Antichrist.

PURPOSE

Critical scholars believe that the Antichrist in Daniel is Antiochus IV. The purpose of this article is to show that that is not true.

It is generally agreed that the 11th horn of Daniel 7, the little horn of Daniel 8, and the “vile person” in Daniel 11 refer to the same Antichrist. (see here) Critical scholars are convinced that this is Antiochus IV; a Greek king that reigned in the middle of the second century B.C.

Since liberal scholars believe that some uninspired but partisan Jew wrote the Book of Daniel, they have a high tolerance for differences between Antiochus IV and the evil king in Daniel. The purpose of this article is to show that, for those who accept the reliability of the book, Antiochus does not fit the profile:

ANTIOCHUS DOES NOT FIT.

The Antichrist is Roman.

Previous articles have shown that the Antichrist grew out of the Roman Empire.

Daniel explicitly identifies the two beasts in Daniel 8 as Medo-Persia and Greece (Dan 8:20-21). By comparing the beasts of Daniel 7 and 8, another article shows that the two beasts in Daniel 8 are parallel to the second and third beasts in Daniel 7. Therefore, the 4th beast in Daniel 7 must be the Roman Empire. It follows that the Antichrist, symbolized as the 11th horn coming out of that 4th beast, comes out of the Roman Empire. Therefore, it cannot be a Greek king.

Antiochus did not rule by Deceit.

The Antichrist will “seize the kingdom by intrigue” (Dan 11:21). This Antiochus did not do. After the previous king (his brother) was killed, He became king with the help of the Pergamene monarch. The Antichrist will also “cause deceit to succeed” (Dan 8:25). Antiochus did not use deceit more than any other Greek king.

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 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 becomes king through deceit and he rules through deceit: “cause deceit to succeed” (Dan 8:25). History does not identify Antiochus IV as any more deceitful than other Greek kings.

He did not distribute Plunder.

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

He did not start small.

The Antichrist will begin small. This does not fit Antiochus. He was a Seleucid prince who became king after his oldest brother was killed.

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

He was not greater than others.

The Antichrist will be greater than his predecessors, including Alexander the Great. Antiochus IV was weak compared to Alexander the Great, Seleucus I, and his father, Antiochus III.

The eleventh horn of Daniel 7 also symbolizes the Antichrist. This horn is much larger than the other 10 (Dan 7:20). In the liberal interpretation, this means that he is greater than the other kings of the Greek empire. In Daniel 8, the horn is even larger than Alexander the Great: Alexander is described as “very great” (Dan 8:8) but the horn is “exceedingly great” (KJV; RSV, Dan 8:9).

This does not fit Antiochus IV. He cannot be described as greater than Alexander the Great. Antiochus IV was not 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 Daniel 11:15 but later the Romans defeated him and left his empire, particularly in the west, subject to Rome’s growing power. Because of these defeats, Antiochus IV, as a boy, grew up a hostage in Rome.

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

He did not expand his kingdom.

The Antichrist will expand his kingdom “toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land (Judea)” (Dan 8:9). Antiochus IV did not expand his kingdom to Judea. It was already part of his kingdom when he became king. And, by the time Daniel was written according to liberals, the Romans already ordered Antiochus to leave Egypt. 
Alexander the Great

Daniel 8:8 uses the word “elahah” to describe the growth of the four Greek horns. This means vertical growth. This word is appropriate because the four Greek horns did not expand the Greek territory. They simply subdivided the area already occupied by Alexander the Great amongst themselves. In symbolic language, the horns ‘grew up’ in an area that was already occupied. 

In contrast, Daniel 8:9 uses the word “yatsah” to describe the growth of the little horn (Dan 8:9). This means 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)” (Dan 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 Daniel was supposedly written, the Romans already ordered him to leave 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.

He did not oppose God.

The Antichrist will be “set against the holy covenant” (Dan 11:28, 30) and “speak monstrous things against the God of gods” (Dan 11:36). Antiochus IV was not principally opposed to the God of the Bible. What he did for Judea, he did for all nations within his empire.

Antiochus IV’s objective was merely to maintain control 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 only the Jewish temple. He also robbed other temples (2 Macc 9:2) to pay his debt to the Romans.

He appointed the high priest in Jerusalem because he appointed rulers for all nations in his empire and because Judea was a temple kingdom, effectively making the high priest the king of Judea.

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). The Maccabean War began in 167 BC as a Jewish rebellion against the pro-Hellenistic Jews ruling Judea. When the 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). For that reason, he attacked Jerusalem (II Macc 5:5-16). He did not attack Jerusalem because it worshipped God.

He did not serve a strange god.

The Antichrist will magnify himself above every god, not show any regard for the gods of his fathers, and honor a god of fortresses. But Antiochus’ purpose was that all people should serve the gods of his fathers.

“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” (Dan 11:36-37). “But instead he will honor a god of fortresses, a god whom his fathers did not know” (Dan 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 that he set up in the temple in Jerusalem.

He did not kill the Prince.

The Antichrist will kill “the prince of the covenant.” Critical scholars identify this prince as the high priest Onias, but Antiochus had no direct involvement in Onias’ death. This site identifies this prince as Jesus and Antiochus also did not kill Jesus. Jesus died 200 years later.

The Antichrist “shattered … the prince of the covenant” (Dan 11:22).

Critics claim that “the prince of the covenant” refers to the high priest Onias and that Antiochus killed him. 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 resented Onias’ 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 high priest who arranged his death.

Based on word links, another article shows that “the prince of the covenant” (Dan 11:22) is the same as the “prince” who “confirms the covenant with many for one week” (Dan 9:27), namely, Jesus Christ. (see here) Antiochus also did not kill Jesus either. Antiochus died 180 years before Jesus.

That “prince of the covenant” refers to Jesus may be confirmed as follows:

The “prince of the covenant” in Daniel 11 is arguably the same as the “prince of the host” in Daniel 8:11 because both are leaders of God’s people. Critics propose that this “prince of the covenant” in Daniel 11 is the high priest Onias III. Indeed, the Bible sometimes refers to the high priest as a prince, but never as the “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 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 as “captain” in Joshua is the same word translated as “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. 

PROPHETIC PERIODS

Overview of the Periods in Daniel

Daniel mentions several periods, namely the “time and times and the dividing of time” (Dan 7:25), 2300 “evening morning” (Daniel 8:14), “seventy weeks” (Dan 9:24), 1290 days (Dan 12:11), and 1335 days (Dan 12).

In the liberal interpretation (Critical scholars), all the periods in Daniel describe the Antichrist:

Daniel 2 does not mention the Antichrist. Therefore, there is no prophetic period in that chapter.

The first period in Daniel is the “time and times and the dividing of time” (3½ times) during which the Antichrist persecutes the saints (Dan 7:25).

While the first period relates to persecution, the second, in Daniel 8:14, relates to the temple. It announces that the sanctuary will be cleansed after 2300 “evening morning.” The KJV translates this as 2300 “days,” equal to more than 6 years. Therefore, it does not fit the time of Antiochus IV. To get closer to the period of Antiochus’ defilement of the temple, Critics interpret this as 2300 ‘evening morning’ sacrifices, of which there was one each morning and one each evening, giving 1150 full days.

The third period is the “seventy weeks” of Daniel 9:24, subdivided into 7 weeks, 62 weeks, and the final 1 week. (As interpreted by this website, this period does not relate to the Antichrist. See – here.)

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

Antiochus did not fit these periods.

In the liberal interpretation, all the periods in Daniel describe the Antichrist. However, Antiochus does not fit these periods.

Antiochus IV does not fit these periods but liberals argue that Daniel was written before the end of these periods, and the writer was simply wrong with his predictions. Critics, therefore, do not require the periods to fit history exactly. But at least two of the periods preceded the pollution of the temple by Antiochus IV, and 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” (Dan 9:25). In the view of the liberals, 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. 483 years before Antiochus brings us to about 50 years before Jerusalem was destroyed. There was no decree to rebuild Jerusalem at the time. Critics have several creative solutions, but the article on the Liberal-critical interpretation of Daniel 9 shows clear flaws in such proposals.

The other 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 began 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 do not. It was rather the other way around. Accor­ding to I and II Maccabees, the persecution of the Jews began before the temple was desecra­ted. 

1290 Days = 30 + 1260

This section explains the statement above that, according to Daniel, the temple would be desecrated 30 days before the persecution began.

Daniel 7:25 predicts persecution of 3½ times, which is equal to 1260 days (cf. Rev 12:6, 14).

After Daniel was reminded of the 3½ years of persecution (Dan 12:7), he asked for more information (Dan 12:8) and was told:

“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; Dan 12:11)

Note that this means that the 1290 days explain the 3½ years. Furthermore, since Daniel 12:11 only specifies a beginning event, it is assumed that the 1290 days and the 1260 days years of persecution have the same endpoint. Therefore, the events are as follows:

      • Day 0 – The “daily” is taken away and the “abomination of desolation” set up (Dan 12:11). This is the desecration of the sanctuary.
      • Day 30 – persecution and 1260 days start,
      • Day 1290 – temple cleansed and persecution stops.

In other words, the sanctuary would be desecrated 30 days before the beginning of the persecution of the saints. 

Liberals cannot explain the periods.

Critics have no acceptable explanation for the differences between the periods; the 2300 “evening morning,” the 3½ times, and the 1260, 1290, and 1335 days.

In the interpretation proposed by the critics, the periods in Daniel conflict with one another. For example:

Critics assume the 2300 “evening morning” are equal to 1150 real days and this is the period of the sanctuary’s defilement. But then the 1150 days and the 1290 days (Dan 12:11) begin at the same time, which means that the 1150 days of temple defilement end 140 days before the end of the 1290 days, which is also the end of the 1260 days of persecution. In other words, the saints are persecuted for 140 days after the sanctuary has been cleansed, which is not logical.

Jesus placed the 1290 days in His future.

Jesus referred to “the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel” as something in His future (compare Matt 24:15 to Dan 12:11). It, therefore, cannot refer to something that Antiochus IV did.

The 1290 days begin 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). (Matt 24:15)

The liberal interpretation not only destroys the book of Daniel. It discredits Jesus Christ and the entire Bible. Revelation, in particular, is built on the foundation of Daniel’s prophecies, for example:

      • The beasts (Dan: 7:4-8; Rev 13:2),
      • The “time, times, and half a time” (Dan 7:25; Rev 12:14), and
      • The oath (Dan 12:7; Rev 10:6).

If Daniel falls, Revelation falls as well.

CONCLUSION

The Liberals’ writer made factual errors.

.Liberals argue that the differences between the Antichrist of Daniel and Antiochus are due to the writer’s lack of objectivity but not all differences can be blamed on a lack of objectivity.

Critics may argue that Daniel describes Antiochus as more evil and powerful than he 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, that he described Antiochus as ruling by deceit, being more powerful than all other Greek kings, and principally opposing God. However, if the “vile 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.

Antiochus was a type of the Antichrist.

As discussed in the article on Daniel 11, Daniel 11:2-19 correlates well with known secular history until the death of Antiochus III in verse 19. Furthermore, there are also many similarities between Antiochus IV and the predicted evil king. But Antiochus IV by no means exhausts the passage. He was only a type of the later and much greater Antichrist.

 


OTHER ARTICLES

List of articles on the Antichrist in the Book of Daniel

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Three interpretations of the evil horn of Daniel 8

PURPOSE

This article gives an overview of Daniel 8 and lists the alternative interpretations of the main character in this chapter, also represented by a small horn.

Daniel 8The previous two articles are preliminary overviews of the metal statue of Daniel 2 and the four beasts of Daniel 7. The Daniel 7 article did not identify the four beasts. Neither did it identify the main character in that chapter, symbolized as an 11th horn that “will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One” (Dan 7:25)

OVERVIEW OF THE PROPHECY

The Ram and the Goat symbolize Medo-Persia and Greece respectively. The goat’s large horn signifies the Greek kingdom of Alexander the Great. The four horns that came out after the large horn broke off are the four parts into which the Greek kingdom divided after Alexander’s death. But then the main character in the chapter appears, symbolized as another horn. This is a spiritual power, for it tramples God’s people for “2300 evenings and mornings.” This power is not explicitly identified.

The Ram and the Goat

Only two animals appear in the vision in Daniel 8; a ram and a goat:

The first is a ram, conquering into three directions, the north, the west, and the south (Dan 8:3-4). It is explicitly identified as Mede-Persia (Dan 8:20).

Next, a goat with one large horn appears. It defeats the Medo-Persian ram and becomes the dominant power (Dan 8:5-7). The goat is explicitly identified as Greece (Dan 8:20-21).

The Horns

At first, the goat has one large horn. But this horn was “broken” and four horns, extending out to the four winds of heaven (the four directions of the compass) came up in its place (Dan 8:8). Commentators generally agree that the one large horn refers to the kingdom of Alexander the Great and that the four horns are the four kingdoms into which Alexander’s empire was divided after his death.

The Little Horn

But then another horn (“a little horn“) appears. There is much disagreement about its identity. It did not attack any beast or kingdom, but it opposed:

(a) God’s people, symbolized as “the host of the stars” (Dan 8:10).
(b) God’s work of redemption, described as the tamid (daily or continual) and the temple (Dan 8:11-12), and
(c) God’s principal representative, called “the Prince of the host” or “the Prince of princes” (Dan 8:11, 25).

The Conversation in Heaven

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

“How long will the vision about the regular sacrifice apply, while the transgression causes horror, so as to allow both the holy place and the host to be trampled?”

The other responded:

“For 2300 evenings and mornings; then the holy place will be properly restored.”

Daniel 8 does not mention the first kingdom of Daniel 7 (Babylon) or the last (eternal) kingdom. Instead, it focuses on and provides additional information about the main evil character in the book of Daniel, symbolized by an evil horn-king in both Daniel 7 and 8. Most of Daniel 8 is devoted to this king.

THE SAME HORN

It is generally agreed that the evil horns in Daniel 7 and 8, which persecute the saints and blaspheme God, symbolize the same power.

The same symbol

The same symbol (a horn) is used for both. If a distinction had been intended, one way would have been to use a different symbol.

They are similar.

Both:

      • Begin small and become great (Dan 7:8 and 8:9);
      • Blaspheme God (Dan 7:8, 25 and 8:11, 25);
      • Persecute God’s people (Dan 7:21, 25 and 8:11, 25);
      • Are the last in a series of symbols;
      • Are identified with a period (Dan 7:25 and 8:14); and
      • Eventually suffer similar fates (Dan 7:26 and 8:25).

Later prophecies amplify the earlier ones.

Virtually all commentators accept this principle. For example, Daniel 7 repeats the four empires of Daniel 2, with additional information, particularly through the use of heads and horns to represent the divisions of these empires. The book of Daniel itself also mentions this principle at least twice:

In Daniel 9:22-23, Gabriel said that he came to give Daniel an understanding of “the vision,” which would be the vision in Daniel 8.

In Daniel 10-12, Daniel receives a “message” to explain the “vision” (Dan 10:1, 14). This also refers to the vision in Daniel 8, for that is the last “vision” before Daniel 10.

This principle implies that the vision of Daniel 8 elaborates on the vision of Daniel 7, which supports the conclusion that the little horns in Daniel 7 and 8 represent the same entity7.

THREE INTERPRETATIONS

In the view of Critical Scholars, the Antichrist horn signifies The Greek king Antiochus. Futurists believe it is an end-time Antichrist. In the historical view, it is the Roman Church and the 2300 days symbolizes a period from the time of Daniel until the Renaissance, when the power of the Roman Empire to persecute God’s people was broken.

Who is this little horn that blasphemes God and persecutes His people (Dan 8:9-14)? And what is its 2300 evening-mornings, when it will profane the sanctuary? The Preterist, Futurist, and Historicist schools of prophetic interpretation have different answers to these questions:

Preterist – The Greek king Antiochus

In this view:

(A) The majority of the prophecies of the book of Daniel have already been fulfilled and, therefore, have no significance for the present day or for the future.

(B) The little horn arose from one of the divisions of Alexander’s Greek empire.

(C) Specifically, it is the Greek king Antiochus IV Epiphanes.

(D) The 2300 “evening-mornings” are 2300 individual morning and evening sacrifices, or 1150 literal days, and describe a period during the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes in the second century BC.

(E) The sanctuary refers to the temple in Jerusalem which Antiochus polluted and the victorious Jewish rebels purified before January 1, 164 B.C.

Futurists – An end-time Antichrist

Futurists generally follow the same line of interpretation. But they also see Antiochus as a type of an end-time Antichrist who will arise in the final years of earth’s history; just before Jesus returns. Some futurists also apply the 2300 “evening-mornings” to the end time. They interpret it as literal evenings-mornings or the literal 2300 days of the end-time reign of this Antichrist. During the last seven years of earth’s history, according to this interpretation, a literal temple (to be rebuilt in Jerusalem for the Jews) will be polluted by this Antichrist. The temple will be restored when Christ comes and puts an end to the reign of the Antichrist.

Historicists – Church of the Roman Empire

In this view:

(A) The prophecies in Daniel and Revelation portray an outline of history and the story of the ongoing struggle between good and evil down to the end of time.

(B) The evil horn-king represents the church of the Roman Empire (the Roman Church):

In the year 380, the emperor Theodosius made the Trinitarian version of Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire. During the fifth century, Europe became ‘Arian’ again as ‘Arian’ Germanic tribes fragmented Western Europe into various kingdoms. In the sixth century, Emperor Justinian subjected these ‘Arian’ nations. After that, through two centuries of rule by the Eastern Roman Empire through the church in the West, all ‘Arian’ nations converted to Trinitarian Christianity. Consequently, the church of the Middle Ages was the Roman Church; the Church of the Roman Empire. 

(C) Utilizing the day-for-a-year principle, historicists have held that the 2300 evening-mornings refer to a period of 2300 literal years, commencing in the time of the Persian Ram and concluding with the recovery of the message of the Bible truth after the distortions of the Middle Ages.

(D) The purification of the sanctuary symbolizes the restoration of God’s people and/or their message.

Comparison of the Three Views

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

Preterlst Historicist Futurist
Little horn Antiochus IV Roman Church End-time Antichrist
2300 days 1150 past days 2300 historical years 2300 end-time days
Temple In Jerusalem God’s people In end-time Jerusalem
Cleansing Before 164 BC After the Middle Ages Return of Christ

The next article evaluates these three interpretations and identifies the evil horn-king by comparing the Animals of Daniel 7 to those of Daniel 8.


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