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 figure. Critical scholars are convinced that this is Antiochus IV; a Greek king that reigned in the middle of the second century BC.
I know that liberal scholars have a high tolerance for differences between Antiochus IV and the evil king in Daniel, but Antiochus does not fit the profile:
Some of the beasts in Daniel 7 and 8 have multiple heads and horns. Some of them are higher on one side, and have wings and iron teeth. The two beasts in Daniel 8 are explicitly identified as Medo-Persia and Greece (Dan 8:20-21). A comparison of the attributes of these beasts shows that the two beasts in Daniel 8 are parallel to the second and third beasts in Daniel 7. The fourth beast in Daniel 7, therefore, must be the Roman Empire. It follows that the evil 11th king coming out of that beast, comes out of the Roman Empire: It cannot be a Greek king.
Antiochus IV did not “seize the kingdom by intrigue” (Dan 11:21). After the previous king (his brother) was killed, He became king with the help of the Pergamene monarch.
He did not “cause deceit to succeed” (Dan 8:25) any more than any other Greek king.
He did not “distribute plunder, booty and possessions” (Dan 11:24). On the contrary, he had 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 begin small (Dan 7:8; 8:9) or weak (Dan 11:23). He was a Seleucid prince who became king after his oldest brother was killed.
He was not greater than all of his predecessors (Dan 7:20), who, in the critical interpretation, would include Alexander the Great. Daniel 8 describes Alexander the Great as “very great” but the horn as even greater (Dan 8:8-9).
He did not expand his kingdom “toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land (Judea)” (Dan 8:9). In the liberal interpretation, by the time that Daniel was written, the Romans already ordered him out of Egypt. And Judea was part of his kingdom when he became king.
PRINCE OF THE COVENANT
He did not kill “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, but Antiochus had no direct involvement. The high priest that Antiochus appointed (Menelaus) killed Onias.
On the basis of 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. Antiochus did not kill Jesus.
In the liberal interpretation, all the time periods in Daniel, including the “time and times and the dividing of time” (Dan 7:25), the 2300 “evening morning” (Dan 8:14), and the “seventy weeks” (Dan 9:24) describe the evil king. But Antiochus does not fit the time periods.
For example, in Daniel 9, the first 483 years are from the “decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince” (Dan 9:25). In the critical interpretation, the first 483 years preceded Antiochus IV. But 483 years before Antiochus brings us to about 50 years before Jerusalem was destroyed. There was no such decree at the time.
The history of Antiochus also does not explain the differences between these times periods.
Antiochus’ heart was not “set against the holy covenant” (Dan 11:28, 30) and he did not “speak monstrous things against the God of gods” (Dan 11:36). Antiochus IV was not principally opposed to the God of the Bible. He ordered the various nations of his empire to abandon their particular customs and robbed temples of various gods; not only the Jews.
He appointed the high priest in Jerusalem because he appointed rulers for all nations in his empire and the high priest was the ‘king’ of Judea.
The Maccabean war began in 167 BC as a Jewish rebellion against the pro-Hellenistic Jews that ruled Judea. When the Jewish rebels forced the high priest to hide in the citadel, Antiochus IV saw this as a revolt against his authority (2 Macc 5:11). That is why he attacked Jerusalem (II Macc 5:5-16). He did not attack Jerusalem because it worshipped God.
He did not:
- “Exalt and magnify himself above every god” (Dan 11:36),
- Had he no regard for the gods of his fathers (Dan 11:37), or
- Served a “strange god,” unknown to his fathers (Dan 11:38).
Antiochus’ aim was the opposite, namely that all people should serve the gods of his fathers. For example, it was a statue of Zeus that he set up in the temple in Jerusalem.
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 liberal interpretation not only destroys the book of Daniel. It discredits Jesus Christ and the entire Bible. Revelation, in particular, picks up on various aspects in Daniel, such as 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 also falls.
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. There are also many similarities between Antiochus IV 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. He was only a type of the evil king. For complete fulfillment, we must search for a later and much more powerful evil king.
Daniel 11, therefore, may 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.
END OF SUMMARY –
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 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: “cause deceit to succeed” (Dan 8:25). History does not identify Antiochus IV as any more deceitful than other Greek kings.
The vile person of Daniel starts out small (Dan 7:8; 8:9) and weak (Dan 11:23; supported by few), but later became “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.
GREATER THAN OTHERS
The eleventh horn of Daniel 7 is another symbol of the evil king. In Daniel 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” (Dan 8:8) but the horn is “exceedingly great” (KJV; RSV, Dan 8:9).
This does not fit Antiochus IV. Antiochus IV 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 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.
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 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.
The vile person in Daniel is a tyrant that principally opposes God and His saints: “His heart will be set against the holy covenant” (Dan 11:28, 30). He “will speak monstrous things against the God of gods” (Dan 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” (Dan 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” (Dan 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 Daniel 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 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 implies that “the prince of the host” is Jesus Christ, which implies that the “prince of the covenant” also refers to Jesus.
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 (Dan 7:25).
The second time period is in Daniel 8:14, which announces that the sanctuary will be cleansed after 2300 “evening morning.” This is 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 weeks” of Danial 9:24, subdivided into 7 weeks, 62 weeks, and the final seven. (As interpreted by this website, this time period does not relate to the evil king. See, Daniel 9 does not describe the same crisis.)
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 but liberals argue that Daniel was written before the end of these time periods, and the writer was simply 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” (Dan 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 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 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.
Daniel received this explanation after
After Daniel was reminded of the 3½ years of persecution (Dan 12:7), he asked for more information (Dan 12:8). Then he 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)
The 1290 days, therefore, explain the 3½ years. Since Daniel 12:11 only specifies a beginning 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 (cf. 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 Daniel 12:11.)
The taking away of the “daily” and the setting up of the “abomination of desolation” (Dan 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.
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). (Matt 24:15)
Jesus, therefore, placed the 1290 days in the future. It cannot refer to something Antiochus IV did.
The predicted evil king “will distribute plunder, booty and possessions among them” (Dan 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” (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.
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 secular 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 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 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.
OTHER AVAILABLE ARTICLES
- Daniel, 2, 7, 8, and 11 – List of Articles
- Daniel 9 – List of articles
- All articles – List of all article series on this website