The Ram and the He
Goat (Daniel Chapter 8)
vision two years earlier dealt with the four great world empires
ending with the coming of Christ under the Roman Empire.
Starting with the Babylonian Empire, then moving forward until
Daniel saw a great many disturbing details about the fourth beast in
revelation was in the form of a dream while this one was a vision he had
while wide awake. It is important to note that Daniel was an
elderly man at this point in his life. Assuming he was 13
years old at the time of his deportation from Jerusalem to Babylon
by Nebuchadnezzar, he was at this time about 69 to 70 years of age.
Daniel lived through, to date, one of
the most turbulent periods in Israelite history.
Nebuchadnezzar finally destroyed Jerusalem because her kings kept
rebelling against his authority. The temple was utterly
destroyed and burned in order to retrieve the gold from its
stonework. The vessels of worship were all carried away with
many of them destroyed. Daniel personally saw his home city of
Jerusalem besieged and overthrown. He then saw the Babylonian
Empire conqyered and taken into the Medo-Persian Empire. How
frightening and unsettling it must be to have one's country
overthrown. Even if it is a wicked and cruel one, there is no
guarantee that the next one will be any better. Add to that
experience having one's place of worship for centuries utterly
destroyed. We must keep in mind here that we today are blessed
beyond measure. The death of Jesus Christ made it possible for
Christians today to worship God anywhere. His great sacrifice
on behalf of man replaced the sacrifices under the Levitical system
of worship. The Israelites had to sacrifice in the temple.
Without the temple, there could be no animal sacrifices.
And if that were
not enough, it is almost certain that Daniel lived the lonely life
of a eunuch under the royal service of whatever king reigned over
the land at the time. His faithfulness to God is all the more
notable in consideration of the conditions under which he lived his
ambition was to see his people recommit themselves to God and to
return to their homeland and rebuild the temple and resume the
worship of the one true and living God. Daniel was chosen by
God to prophecy of the coming of the one kingdom which would never
fall and to prophecy of the coming king who would reign forever, the
Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Before the coming
of the Messiah, Daniel's people had more hardship to endure.
The turmoil of falling nations and rise of cruel leaders was not
over. While Daniel was blessed to see the prophecies of the
coming Messiah and His kingdom, he also had to bear the burden of
the prophecies of the afflictions of his countrymen at the hands of
evil and cruel tyrants yet to come. Daniel knew these
prophecies were real. He knew the things he saw in these
visions would come to pass. He had seen the visions of the
things that would befall the kings of Babylon, interpreted them
and saw them come to pass. Daniel was not living under any
allusion that his people would avert the disasters that awaited them
in this next vision.
Before going to
the text we should pause to reflect on the power of divine prophecy
in the validation of our faith. Man cannot see into the
future. At best, man can only predict future happenings based
on the observation of circumstances and conditions visible at the
time. But only God can look down the road of time and reveal
with 100% accuracy events that will happen centuries in the future.
Only God can name the names of future kingdoms and leaders such as
Cyrus. And those then, and today, who would deny the existence
of God must explain how someone like Daniel could prophecy with such
startling accuracy the rise of men like Alexander the Great and
Antiochus IV who, centuries later, would rise to power
and perform exactly as revealed, those things written of by the
prophets. These visions of Daniel are called prophecy, but
that word suggests a prediction of sorts. Prophecy is more
than that. Prophecy, first and foremost is a divine and
irrefutable demonstration of the power of God, and secondly is quite
simply the foretelling of events which are certain. Prophecy
is not in any way a prediction of future events, it is the
revelation of events that are sure and that will come to pass.
In the third year of the reign of king
Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel, after
that which appeared unto me at the first.
About two years after the first
revelation that appeared to Daniel, he received another one.
This happened in the third year of king Belshazzar who was the son
and co-regent of his father Nabonidus. Daniel had this vision
in about 550 BC. History records that Cyrus the great
established the Persian Empire and began reigning in 550 BC.
Belshazzar was made co-regent of the Babylonian Empire in 553 BC,
just three years after Cyrus came to power. The Lydian and the
Babylonian Empires were overthrown and fell to the Medo-Persian
Empire in about 539
BC. Egypt fell to the Medo-Persian Empire under the rule of
the son of Cyrus, Cambyses, in
And I saw in a vision; and it came to
pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palace, which is in
the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river
Daniel here states that he was in the
palace at Shushan when he saw this vision. Commentators are
divided on whether Daniel's presence in Shushan was only within his
vision or if he was literally in Shushan when he received the
vision. It is unlikely that the location of where Daniel found
himself in the vision would be worthy of the level of detail
recorded. There can hardly be any apocalyptic significance
regarding Daniel's location within the vision itself. It is
much more likely that Daniel was in Shushan when he received the
vision. This is a possible explanation of why Belshazzar did
not know Daniel personally when he wanted to know the meaning of the
hand writing on the wall. Daniel may have been posted in
Shushan by Nabonidus before Belshazzar became co-regent and
Belshazzar merely never availed himself of any opportunity to
acquaint himself with all of his servants. In either event,
whether Daniel served in Babylon or Shushan, it is a testament to
Belshazzar's poor leadership that he did not even know who Daniel
was. Verse 27 reveals that Daniel was in the service of the
king. Belshazzar obviously did not know who all his chief servants were.
Shushan (Susa), was
located some two hundred and
forty miles to the east of Babylon in present day southwestern Iran. It was the ancient
capital of Elam. During Daniel's time it was a holding of the
Babylonian Empire but afterwards it became a royal residence
and the capital of the Persian Empire (Nehemiah 1:1). The site is
present-day Shush, about 150 miles north of the
Shushan was an ancient
city and long before the time of
Abraham, Shushan was the center of Elamite
civilization. Some scholars believe it was a cult city centering
around worship of one of the chief Elamite gods. The city had
frequent contacts with Mesopotamia.
The Assyrian King
Ashurbanipal, or Asnapper in Ezra 4:10, led a military campaign
against Shushan about 642 - 639 BC. In about 640 BC.
he sacked the city and carried some of its inhabitants (Susanchites,
Ezra 4:9, KJV) into exile in Samaria (V 10).
When Cyrus the Great
who reigned from 550 to 529 BC., and established the Persian Empire, he
made Shushan its capital. At Shushan, Darius the Great who ruled from
about 521 to 486 BC., built his royal palace. This same palace was occupied by Artaxerxes II, also known as
Ahasuerus (404- 359 BC.), who was the king of Medo-Persia and
husband to Esther. Most of the events
recorded in the Book of Esther took place in Shushan (Esther 1:2-5;
2:3-8; 3:15; 4:8-16; 8:14-15; 9:6-18).
Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw,
and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns:
and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and
the higher came up last.
Very helpful in this vision is the fact
that Gabriel explained it to Daniel (Daniel 8:17). There can
be no mistaking who the ram with the two horns are,
"The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of
Media and Persia" (Daniel 8:20).
The term "Horn"
in the East is the symbol of power, strength and royalty.
"One was higher than the other ... the higher
came up last."
Persia, which was of little note until Cyrus' time, became then
ascendant over Media, the more ancient kingdom. Darius was 62 years
old (Daniel 5:31) when he began to reign; during his short reign of
2 years, being a weak king (Daniel 6:7,14,17), the government was
almost entirely in Cyrus' hands. Hence, Herodotus does not
mention Darius, but Xenophon does, under the name of Cyaxares II.
The "ram" here corresponds
to the "Breast and his arms of silver" in Daniel 2:32, and the "bear" in Daniel
7:5, symbolizing bravery, overwhelming strength and force.
Cyrus then was the horn which rose higher and came up last after
As a point of historical
interest, the king of Persia wore a jeweled ram's head of gold
instead of a diadem, such as are seen on the pillars at Persepolis
which means 'The city of the Persians'.
Also the Hebrew word for ram, which means strong and brave, springs
from the same root as "Elam," or Persia. The "one horn higher
than the other" answers to the bear "raising itself on one
side" as seen in Daniel 7:5.
I saw the ram pushing westward, and
northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him,
neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did
according to his will, and became great.
The ram pushing in three
different directions, westward, northward, and southward corresponds
with The bear's having three ribs in his mouth as seen in Daniel
7:5. The directions which the Medo-Persian Empire advanced
Babylon, Mesopotamia, Syria and Asia Minor including Lydia.
Colchis, Armenia, Iberia and the dwellers on the Caspian sea.
Judea, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya and also India, under Darius.
The vision did not show
any eastward advancement of the Medo-Persian Empire and well it
wouldn't. They themselves came from the east. In Isaiah
46:11, referencing the Medo-Persians, they are portrayed as "a
ravenous bird from the east".
And this world empire
did indeed become great in that they were quite powerful,
amassing vast territory and wealth. The Medo-Persian Empire
extended from the Indus River to the east to Thrace on the Northwest
bordering Macedonia. It encompassed all the territory bordered
by and between the Caspian Sea, the Red Sea, the Arabian sea, the
Persian Gulf, The Mediterranean and the Black Sea. In sheer
land mass it was far bigger than the Babylonian Empire, encompassing
all of it as well as Egypt and Lydia (Asia Minor).
And as I was considering, behold, an
he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and
touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his
As with the ram with the two horns, we
are not left with any doubt as to the identity of the "he goat".
It is positively identified by Gabriel in Verse 21, "And the
rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first
king". The first king of Greece as a world empire was
the Great otherwise known as
Alexander III of Macedon.
Alexander assumed the
kingship of Macedon following the death of his father Philip II, who
had unified most of the city-states of mainland Greece under
Macedonian supremacy in a federation called the League of Corinth.
The decisive battle of Philip's conquest of Greece occurred in 338
BC at Chaeronea in Boeotia, when Philip beat the Athenians and their
allies. The military feat that won the battle that day was a cavalry charge by
his son, Alexander, who was only eighteen years old at the time.
When Alexander's father died in 336 BC at an assassin's hand,
Alexander quickly consolidated his power and set out to conquer the
world at the age of twenty-one.
In 334 BC, Alexander
crossed over into Asia Minor to begin a conquest of Persia. The
Persian Empire covered most of the known world: Asia Minor, the
Middle East, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Iran. Alexander's army
numbered about thirty thousand infantry and only five thousand
cavalry. He had no navy and he had no money.
Alexander moved quickly to gain a few sure victories, so he could
gain money and supplies. He first focused on the coastal cities so
that he could gain control of the ports. By doing that, the
Persian navy had no place to make landfall. After cutting off the
Persian navy, he took his conquest into the mainland of Asia Minor.
Alexander was a ferocious warrior and accompanied his soldiers into
the thickest parts of the battles. His troops grew intensely
loyal to him as a result of his personal involvement in the hand to
He quickly overran Asian Minor after defeating the Persian forces
that controlled the territory, and after seizing all the coastal
cities, he turned inland towards Syria in 333 BC. There he engaged
the main Persian army under the leadership of king Darius.
Alexander personally led a cavalry charge against him at a city
called Issus. The Persians were a much larger force but were
defeated anyway and they retreated towards Mesopotamia and left
Alexander free to continue south. Alexander then seized the coastal
towns along the Phoenician and Palestinian coasts. After that, he
continued south and conquered Egypt.
Alexander then moved down the Phoenican coast and conquered the city
of Tyre, which was the central headquarters of the Persian navy.
When Tyre fell, Darius realized he would be unable to defeat
Alexander and offered to give him all of the Persian Empire west of
the Euphrates River, hoping to keep Mesopotamia, Persia and the
Alexander refused the offer and in 331 BC, he crossed the Euphrates
river into Mesopotamia. Darius met him near the ancient Assyrian
city of Nineveh, the city that had been destroyed by the Chaldeans
only three centuries earlier and was defeated by Alexander's smaller
force. In January of 330 BC, Alexander conquered Babylon which was
the wealthiest city of the Persian Empire. Alexander, who had
started with almost no resources had at his disposal the royal
treasury of the Persian Empire. The fall of Babylon marked the
end of the power of the Persian Empire. After that, Alexander
moved through the rest of the territory with relative ease.
Having conquered what was then the known world, Alexander had pushed
his army to the very limits of civilization as he knew it. But he
saw that the world extended further and he wanted to go onward and
everything he saw. Alexander and his army pushed east, through
Scythia (northern Iran), and all the way to what is today known as
Pakistan and India. He had conquered Bactria at the foot of the
western Himalayas, gained a huge Bactrian army, and married a
Bactrian princess named Roxane. But when he tried to push on past
Pakistan, his army grew tired, and he abandoned the eastward
conquest in 327 BC.
In 324 BC, Alexander returned to Babylon. He was at that time,
literally, king of the known world, and began to lay down his strategies
for consolidating his new empire. But his plans were never carried
out because in 323 BC, at the age of thirty-three, he contracted a
fever and died. Upon his death, the Greek Empire fell into a civil
war while his most powerful generals fought over the territories and
it was divided up into four distinct kingdoms.
Alexander had dominated “the face of the
whole earth" so rapidly that his feet seemed to never touch the
ground. The term, "the whole earth" is an apocalyptic figure
for all of the known world to those who would first read Daniel's
account. In their perception, it was the whole earth. Alexander and his armies moved so fast that he
conquered the greater part of that world of antiquity which skirted
the Mediterranean Sea by 327 BC. Alexander began his reign in
Macedonia in 336 BC. Nine years later, he had successfully
conquered all of the Medo-Persian Empire and brought it under
Grecian rule. This Grecian Empire, is the same as the “brass”
of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter two and the “leopard” of
Daniel’s dream-vision of chapter seven.
And he came to the ram that had two
horns, which I had there seen standing before the river, and ran
unto him in the fury of his power. And I saw him come close unto the ram,
and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and
brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand
before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon
him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand.
When Alexander came up against the
Medo-Persian Empire, the horns of strength and power on the
ram were broken. The Ram was defeated, thrown to the ground
and the figure is that Alexander stomped on him with his feet.
The picture here is one of Alexander's overwhelming defeat and
overthrow of the Medo-Persian Empire. None of the Medes nor
the Persians could produce someone who could stop Alexander.
He defeated them all and in just 9 years he had swept across the
face of the entire Medo-Persian Empire and it became the Grecian
Empire identified by Gabriel in verse 21.
Alexander's conquest of his empire was
marked with a distinct strategy that was more prominent with his
policies than with others before him. Alexander instituted a policy of
assimilating his empire into the Greek culture. This was
called Hellenism. The word Hellenism is derived from the word,
Hellene, which was the Greek word for the Greeks. The Hellenistic
age was the age of the Greeks. During this time, Greek
culture, language and power extended itself across the known world.
While the classical age of Greece produced great literature, poetry,
philosophy, drama, and art, the conquering of the known world
resulted in this culture being propagated throughout their
territories. Alexander actively exported Greek culture and
language into the territories he conquered. This was a new idea
and this exporting of culture deeply influenced the civilizations
that arose afterwards. One notable difference was that most of
the known world adopted the Greek language as their own. The
Hebrew old testament scriptures were eventually translated into
Greek because the children of the old Israelites were raised
speaking the Greek language. They needed scriptures in a
language they could read and understand. This translation of
the old testament Hebrew into Greek was known as the Septuagint.
Therefore the he goat waxed very
great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it
came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.
Alexander "waxed very great",
hence the title, 'Alexander the Great'. History records that
Alexander contracted a deadly fever and died in the city of
Babylon in 323 BC in the height of his power.
Alexander's heir was, as yet unborn, and Alexander failed to set in place
a regency to assure the ascension of his heir in the event of his
death. Alexander was quite young at this time and obviously
had no idea he would take sick and die.
Upon Alexander's death,
there was almost immediately a dispute among his
generals as to who his successor should be. General
Meleager and the infantry supported the candidacy of
Alexander's illegitimate half-brother named
Arrhidaeus. General Perdiccas, the leading
cavalry commander, supported waiting until the birth
of Alexander's child by Roxana. A dispute
arose over whether the child would be a male or not.
A compromise was arranged - Arrhidaeus (as Philip
III) would become a figurehead king while Perdiccas
would rule the empire as regent. Alexander's
direct heir would assume the throne if it was a boy.
And he was and was named
Alexander IV, born in August of 323 BC.
assassinated by his senior officers in May or June
of 321 or 320 BC. Antipater was then named as
the new regent over the empire. He brought with him
Roxana to Macedon and gave up trying to rule
supremely over the Empire and left it under the
control of the diadochi. Antipater died in 319
and he named Polyperchon, a Macedonian general who
had served under both Alexander and his father, as
his successor. This move enraged
Antipater's son, Cassender, and he allied himself
with Ptolemy Soter, Antigonus and Eurydice who was the
ambitious wife of king Philip Arrhidaeus, and
declared war upon the regency under Polyperchon.
The Civil war that erupted went back and forth with
both Cassender and Polyperchon defeating and being
defeated by each other. In 316, Cassender took
Macedon again, and a peace treaty was signed which
recognized Alexander IV as Alexander's rightful heir
to the throne. Cassender would rule as regent
until his death when Alexander would then be old
enough to assume the throne.
After the peace
treaty was signed, those opposed to Cassender
started declaring that Alexander IV should assume
the throne and that the regency was no longer
necessary. Cassender had both Roxana and the
thirteen year old Alexander IV assasinated by
poisoning. Thus ended any hope of the Grecian
Empire being ruled by any heir of Alexander the
more-or-less forty years of constant war between Alexander's
as the Wars of the Diadochi, for the rule of his vast Empire. By about 281 BC the
situation had stabilized, resulting in four major domains. Gabriel made it clear to Daniel in verse
22 that the Grecian Empire would then be ruled by four kings,
explaining the four notable horns. Geographically, the four
land-mass territories would eventually come to be:
1) Macedon and central Greece, on
mainland Europe, under the rule of Cassender,
the son of Antipater, the founder of the short-lived
dynasty. The Antigonid dynasty succeeded the Antipatrid headed
by one of Alexander's generals, Antigonus I Monophthalmus. He
was a Macedonian nobleman, general, and satrap under Alexander the
Great. During his early life he served under Alexander's father,
Philip II, and he was a major figure in the Wars of the Diadochi
(Generals), after Alexander's death, declaring himself king in 306
BC and establishing the Antigonid dynasty.
2) Asia Minor, then called
Anatolia ruled by the Attalid dynasty which ruled from the city of
Pergamon after the death of Lysimachus who was one of Alexander's
generals. The Attalid kingdom was the remnant of the
Lysimachian Empire. One of Lysimachus' officers, Philetaerus,
took control of the city in 282 BC. The later Attalids were
descended from his father, and they expanded the city into a
kingdom. Attalus I proclaimed himself King in the 230s BC, following
his victories over the Galatians. The Attalids ruled Pergamon until
Attalus III bequeathed the kingdom to the Roman Republic in 133 BC.
3) Babylonia and Syria
under the rule of Seleucus I who established himself in Babylon in
312 BC. After the death of Alexander, Seleucus was appointed
as the satrap of Babylon in 323 BCE. Antigonus attacked Seleucus and
forced him to flee from Babylon, but, supported by Ptolemy, he was
able to return victorious in 312 BCE. Seleucus later went on to
conquer the Persian and the Median territories. He formed an
alliance with the Indian King Chandragupta Maurya. Seleucus defeated
Antigonus in the battle of Ipsus in 301 BCE and Lysimachus in the
battle of Corupedium in 281 BCE. He was assassinated by Ptolemy
Ceraunus during the same year. Seleucus' successor was his son
Antiochus I, ancester of Antiochus IV Epiphanes who played
prominently in this vision of Daniel. Seleucus I was a
Macedonian officer of Alexander the Great and one of his Diadochi
(Generals). In the Wars of the Diadochi that took place after
Alexander's death, Seleucus established the Seleucid dynasty and the
4) Egypt under the rule of Ptolemy who
was the founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty and declared himself King
Ptolemy I in 305 BC. He was accepted by the Egyptians as the
successor to the Pharoahs and his Dynasty lasted until the Roman
conquest of 30 BC. Alexandria was the capitol city. His
kingdom was the last holdout of Alexander's former empire to Roman
And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed
exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward
the pleasant land.
Out of the lineage
of Seleucus who's son was named Antiochus I, arose a man by the name of Antiochus IV, son of
Antiochus III and Laodice III. An interesting historical fact
here is that the ancient city of Laodicea, where within was a church
addressed by Jesus in Revelation, was named after the wife of
Antiochus II who's name was also Laodice. Earlier the city had
been named Diospolis which meant 'city of Zeus'. The worship
of Zeus figured prominently in the actions of Antiochus IV.
Antiochus IV’s father had taken
Palestine from Ptolemy-Egypt but in later conflicts
with the expanding interests of Rome which was coming to power, he
was forced to surrender his minor footholds in Greece/Macedonia as
well as in Asia Minor. Furthermore, under a treaty drawn up by Rome
in 188 BC at his request, he was required by the treaty to surrender
to the Roman republic all his possessions west of Tarsus, pay for
the expenses of the war, keep no more than 12 ships and deliver
twelve hostages, including one if his own sons to secure his performance
of the peace terms. The son he delivered was none other than
Antiochus IV. He spent 12 years as a hostage in Rome before he
was exchanged for his nephew Demetrius I Soter who was the son and
heir of King Seleucus. Seleucus was later assasinated by a usurper
named Heliodorus. Antiochus IV in turn ousted Heliodorus and
seized the throne from the true heir, Demetrius I Soter, who
earlier replaced him as a hostage in Rome. He then proclaimed himself
co-regent for another son of Seleucus who was an infant also named
Antiochus, whom he then murdered a few years later.
Antiochus IV had visions and ambitions
of restoring the kingdom of Seleucid-Syria to its former glory and
power. He sought to unify the multi-cultured population,
including the Jews, under a vigorous program of Hellenization which
would include common laws, common cultural practices and a common
religion, especially for the supremacy of the Olympian pagan god
named Zeus. The Israelites had learned their lesson about the
worship of false gods under their Babylonian captivity and as a
whole would refuse to accept that aspect of Antiochus' Hellenization
In Jerusalem, two priestly brothers were
in public political dispute. Onias III who was strictly Orthodox
and the hereditary high priest, favored the more lenient
Ptolemy-Egyptian policy to Antiochus' policy of imposed
Hellenization while Joshua, also known by the Greek name Jason,
favored the policies of Antiochus. Antiochus chose to try and
settle this dispute by appointing Jason as high priest and then
arresting his brother, Onias III and taking him to Antioch as a
prisoner in 174 BC.
As high priest in Jerusalem, Jason
favored Antiochus who increased his authority beyond that of
religious matters into more civil power. In return, Jason
agreed to pay more financial tribute, which Antiochus needed, and to
also promote a stepped-up Hellenization program, which the king
wanted. As a result of this, the Jewish priesthood and Sanhedrin
were replaced by a Greek city state form of constitutional
government, known as the "polis", which in other places had been the
Key to forced Hellenization.
Jason’s plan was
going along nicely until his aid, and brother, Menelaus, went to
Antiochus with the finances promising more tribute money and
reinforced Hellenization programs if he were appointed high priest
in Jerusalem. By this time, there was also an increasing
number of Jewish nobility who favored Hellenism for political and
economic reasons. This was exactly what Antiochus wanted so
Menelaus was appointed as the high priest in
Jerusalem in 171 BC. Jason fled Jerusalem and Menelaus took
temple vessels and treasury money to pay the increased tribute money
to Antiochus. Faithful Jews were outraged and Onias III
protested. Menelaus then arranged to have Onias slain to
silence his protests. Jason however survived and did not
forget the treachery of Menelaus.
resistance of the faithful Jews, Antiochus was growing in power.
He learned of a pending invasion effort from Ptolemy-Egypt. As a
defensive move, he therefore marched on Egypt, defeated and divided
it into rival territories He then appointed Ptolemy VI in Memphis
and Ptolemy VIII in Alexandria as his client kings. Leaving them
behind to deal with each other, he returned to Syria with the money
he was able to plunder from them. After this conquest he
started having visions of being another Alexander and taking Egypt
completely under Syrian rule and then going on from there to conquer
the rest of Alexander's old empire. In 169 BC, Antiochus
assumed the designation of “Epiphany” which meant “god manifest",
and issued propaganda coins reflecting himself in the form of the
While Antiochus was
planning world conquest elsewhere, matters were again heating up in
Jerusalem! An internal eruption arose between the Jewish factions
over Menelaus’ plundering the temple, causing a revolt from the
faithful Jews. Jason, seeing an opportunity to regain his seat as
the Jewish high priest, came out of hiding, gathered his own
supporters, and attacked Menelaus. This resulted in Menelaus
fleeing and taking refuge in the Syrian stronghold of Acra in
Jerusalem. Jason then massacred followers of Menelaus as well as
the faithful Jews, but this backfired on him and he was forced to
retreat once again.
Antiochus saw this
Jewish uproar as an insurrection against his own authority. He
sought out Menelaus, and with military force he moved upon
Jerusalem, slaughtering hundreds, desecrating the temple, and
reinstated Menelaus as his appointed high priest for the Jews.
The faithful Jews were on the verge of revolt but were unable to
overcome Antiochus superior military might.
distractions from another source. Ptolemy VI and VIII had made
an alliance with Egypt. But before they became a threat and
attempted an attack on Syria, Antiochus again invaded Egypt with the
intent of bringing them under absolute Syrian rule. However, the
Ptolemies had appealed to the steadily rising powers of Rome for
intervention. Egypt had a rich grain supply which the Romans
could use so they were interested in helping the Ptolemies out for a
In 168 BC Antiochus led
a second attack on Egypt and also sent a fleet to
capture Cyprus. Before reaching Alexandria, his path
was blocked by a single, old Roman ambassador named
Gaius Popillius Laenas, who delivered a message from
the Roman Senate ordering Antiochus to withdraw his
armies from Egypt and Cyprus, or consider themselves
in a state of war with the Roman Republic. Antiochus
said he would discuss it with his council, whereupon
the Roman envoy drew a line in the sand around him
and said, "Before you cross this circle I want you
to give me a reply for the Roman Senate" - implying
that Rome would declare war if the King stepped out
of the circle without committing to leave Egypt
immediately. Weighing his options, Antiochus wisely
decided to withdraw and returned to Syria in defeat
and humiliation. This is where the
proverbial line drawn in the sand that cannot be
Meanwhile, back in
Jerusalem a rumor spread that Antiochus was dead and a Jerusalem
civil war broke out to cast off Hellenism. Having just been
humiliated by the Romans and angry, Antiochus marched on Jerusalem
while on his return to Syria. In Palestine, and especially in
Jerusalem, the Jews were about to experience his military fury. He
was mad and intended to take it out on the rebellious Jews who
resisted Hellenization and remained faithful to God.
Upon arriving at
Jerusalem, he presented himself as the manifestation of the supreme
god Zeus, and calling himself by the title “Epiphanies”. He and his
army arrived under the guise of peace but suddenly attacked
Jerusalem on a Sabbath, slaughtered thousands, took women and
children to be sold as slaves and then plundered the city, pulling
down portions of its walls. His own fortress of Acra, within the
city, was reinforced.
In 167 BC he moved
to suppress Judaism by destroying the synagogues and issuing the
order that all scripture be destroyed. He also forbade
circumcision, Sabbath observance, scripture possession, Jewish
sacrifices and the observances of their festivals. Altars to
Zeus were then set up and Jews were ordered to sacrifice swine upon
them and to eat the meat as well. All resistance carried the threat
of the penalty of death. The date was December 16, 167 BC. The
Jewish temple was then formally dedicated to the Olympian god Zeus,
An idol was erected therein with an altar over the top of the temple
alter and swine were offered on it to Zeus. Furthermore, monthly
offerings were to be made on the 25th, the birthday of Antiochus.
All this was viewed by Daniel as “the transgression of desolation"
in verse 13 and the "abomination that maketh desolate" in Daniel
Jews who refused
were butchered while others fled from the city. A priest by the
name of Mattathias, refused to be a part of the pagan sacrifices and
killed a fellow Jew who did. He also killed the Syrian officer
of the altar and took his family and fled to the surrounding hills
outside Jerusalem. These matters were what sparked the
Maccabean wars of 167-164 BC. This Jewish nationalism and Orthodox
resistance was in response to Antiochus' demands to offer swine to
Zeus and for what he did to the temple. Mattathias was a major
organizer of the Jewish revolt against Antiochus.
Judas, succeeded him in 166 BC. He was was the leader of
groups who attacked Antiochus' troops with guerilla warfare type
tactics. Against unbelievable odds, his strategy and tactics were
masterful and very successful. The family surname, also assumed by
the Jewish forces, was 'Maccabee', meaning 'the hammer'. Although
there were many secular Jewish factions that favored Hellenism,
there were legions of Jewish nationalist and faithful God fearing
people who supported the Maccabean resistance.
In 165 BC,
Antiochus suffered additional resistance to the east with Parthia
and other revolts in Armenia and Persia. Financial tributes
were being withheld which presented a major drain on vital resources
needed to wage war. Antiochus, being distracted by these
new developments, ordered Lysias to exterminate the Jews while he
concentrated on the revolts in the east. A large army was
dispatched to do deal with the Jews but was defeated by a
significantly smaller force of the Maccabeans under the lead of
Judas. The surviving Syrian army was forced to retreat and
then Lysias personally led a larger force against Judas and was
While Lysias was
getting defeated by the Jews, Antiochus himself led the main
Seleucid army against the Parthians. He successfully
subjugated them and reoccupied Armenia as well. His success
was short lived. Judas overthrew Acra, then led the cleansing
of the temple and its rededication to God. Three years after its
being intensely desecrated, the sacrifices were resumed on December
14, 164 BC. Hence the annual “feast of dedication” (John 10:22).
Enraged and needing funds, Antiochus attempted to plunder the temple
of “Nanaea” (“Artemis”) in Elymais. Unsuccessful and barely
escaping with his life, he soon became withdrawn. Insane, he
retreated to Persia in the late spring or early summer of 163 BC.
Having contracted a disease of his bowels, he died an agonizing,
His only heir was
an infant son named Antiochus V Eupator. The result was a
series of civil wars between rival claimants to the throne, similar
to the civil wars after the death of Alexander. These civil
wars crippled the Seleucid Empire during a critical phase in their
wars against Parthia. The empire continued its downward spiral
in power and was finally made into a Roman province in 63 BC by the
Roman republic military leader, Pompey who executed the remaining
Seleucid princes thus ending the dynasty.
And it waxed great, even to the host
of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the
ground, and stamped upon them.
As seen earlier,
Antiochus grew in power. The "host" is in reference to
the Israelites. Stars represented a major ruler or authority.
In this context, the stars which are cast down and stamped upon are
probably in reference to the Jewish high priests and the Sanhedrin
which were replaced as a result of the Hellenism of Jerusalem under
Yea, he magnified himself even to the
prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away,
and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.
He stood up against God
Himself. Daniel 8:25, "he shall also stand up against the
Prince of princes" and "against the God of gods" (Daniel
11:36). Antiochus not only opposed God's people, the
host, but also God Himself. The "daily sacrifice" that
"was taken away" is a key element in the identification of
Antiochus with the little horn that came up from among the other
four. Jerusalem, being in the Seleucid Empire, Antiochus was
the only historical figure that can be matched up with the little
horn. None of the other three empires had the opportunity to
produce a suitable candidate. History positively
identifies Antiochus IV as the Seleucid king who did indeed take
away the daily sacrifice by forbidding the Jews to worship God in
the temple, later desecrating the temple by building an alter to
Zeus and sacrificing swine on the alter.
And an host was given him against the
daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the
truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered.
The Jews were given over to Antiochus
because of their transgressions against God. Some of the Jews
were acquiescing to the Hellenization of their culture. They
were accepting the change and even welcoming them into their
culture. They built a place of exercise and a gymnasium where
they were reported to compete in the Greek games naked.
Moreover they forsook the holy covenant and the covenant of
circumcision, becoming more and more like the Greeks. The high
priest Onias III was administering the law in godliness until his
brother, Jason, who was pro-Antiochus was instated as high priest.
Onias III was imprisoned and Jason, his brother and successor, was
betrayed by his aid who was appointed as high priest in exchange for
a vigorous program of Hellenization. The result was that many
of the Jews went along with this and thus their transgression in
this matter was the reason for the calamities that befell them as a
result of Antiochus' cruelty.
Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that
certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning
the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give
both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he
said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall
the sanctuary be cleansed.
In the vision, Daniel saw two saints, "holy
ones" in the NKJV and ASV, discussing how long the transgression
of desolation would go on. How long would the sanctuary, which
was one of the innermost sacred chambers in the temple, be trodden
under the feet of the gentiles? The answer was given directly
to Daniel as if he had asked it.
"two thousand and three hundred days;
then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." A better
translation of this verse would be from the ASV, "Unto two
thousand and three hundred evenings (and) mornings; then shall the
sanctuary be cleansed". This translation which is a more
accurate rendering of the original Greek is much easier to harmonize
with the historical facts. Two thousand three hundred days is
about 6 years, 3 months and 20 days. Antiochus was in
Jerusalem, on and off for a period of about 6 years. But he
did not desecrate the temple until 3 - 4 years before his
death and the temple worship was reinstated before he died.
Each evening and morning was a day.
It was that way in the creation account. Here and evening and
a morning is one day, therefore twenty three hundred evenings and
mornings would equal one thousand, one hundred and fifty days, or 3
years, 1 month and 25 days.
When Antiochus was sent home from Egypt
by the old Roman ambassador named Gaius Popillius Laenas in
humiliation and shame, he sent 22,000 men under the command of
Apollonius to Jerusalem with orders to destroy it. According
to Josephus the following took place:
- Antiochus took possession of the
city of Jerusalem.
- He vandalized the temple and
left it bare.
- He forbade the Jews to offer
their daily sacrifices.
- He burnt down many of their
- He built a citadel (Acra), in
the lower part of the city, wherein the Hellenized Jews lived.
- He built an idol of Zeus on the
- He slew swine and offered them
to Zeus on the alter in the temple.
- He compelled the Jews to forsake
the order of worship.
- He compelled the Jews to raise
idol alters in every city and village and to offer swine on them
- He forbade circumcision
- He caused those who refused to
adhere to his instructions to be whipped with rods and then torn
- He caused women caught with
circumcised babies to be strangled with their sons hung around
- he had every copy of the Law of
Moses destroyed that could be found.
All of this happened in 167 BC.
According to Josephus, "on the five and twentieth day of the month
of Casleu, they [the Jews], lighted the lamps that were on the
candlestick, and offered incense upon the alter [of incense], and
laid loaves upon the table [of the shewbread], and offered burnt
offerings upon the new alter [of burnt offering]. Now it so
fell out, that these things were done on the very same day on which
their divine worship had fallen off, and was reduced to a profane
and common use, after three years time, for so it was, that the
temple was made desolate by Antiochus, and so continued for three
years". Josephus records three years, history records a time
of between 3 and 4 years, Inspiration says 3 years, 1 month and 25
days, or more precisely, Two thousand, three hundred evenings and
The cleansing and rededication of the
temple was a feat in itself. The altar of the Olympian Zeus was
destroyed. The alter being desecrated with the blood of swine
was rebuilt with new stones. The damage to the temple was
repaired. It was meticulously cleaned. A priest was
selected who had remained faithful to God throughout the period of
the abomination of desolations. Thus on December 14, 164 BC.,
exactly three years after its desecration, the temple was
rededicated and the daily sacrifices were restored. This event
marked the beginning of the Jewish Feast of Dedication or Lights
(Hanukkah). This feast was referenced in
the New Testament in John 10:22:23 where Jesus was in attendance at
the feast of dedication in Jerusalem.
And it came to pass, when I, even I
Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then,
behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. And I heard a man's voice between the
banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to
understand the vision.
It was important for Daniel to
understand this vision. Without this, its meaning would be
shrouded from those yet to live who desperately needed to know this
information. Many Jews succumbed to the Hellenization of their
culture and paid a heavy price for it. Antiochus declared
himself as god manifest, Zeus in particular, and tried to force the
children of God to worship idols of this false Olympian Deity.
Antiochus IV would have a 1st century counterpart who would do the
same thing for the same reasons. Both leaders sought forced
loyalty. The Jews under Antiochus needed to know what was
coming and why, and the Christians living under Emperor Domitian of
Imperial Rome needed to be able to look back and see what the
consequences were for allowing themselves to be naturalized to a
God never did, won't and never will
tolerate pagan worship no matter what the circumstances may be.
Even to the point of death are the children of God expected to
remain faithful. And those who would live through this type of
persecution were warned over and over. The application for us
today is no different. There are no circumstances under which
it would be acceptable to God for his children today to cleave to
another culture and seek to fit in, and to accept false worship
under any circumstances up to and including their deaths. God
was serious when He said "whosoever therefore will be a friend of
the world is the enemy of God" (James 4:4).
So he came near where I stood: and
when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto
me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be
the vision. Now as he was speaking with me, I was
in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and
set me upright. And he said, Behold, I will make thee
know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the
time appointed the end shall be.
Daniel was not a young man when he had
this vision. The emotional stress coupled with his age had to
leave him exhausted and distraught. Daniel may not at this
time fully understand the vision, but he knew enough to realize that
his countrymen were going to suffer horribly sometime in the future.
One could only imagine the anxiety and stress associated with seeing
such a vision and having one such as Gabriel in their presence.
Gabriel touched Daniel and set him upright and informed him that the
vision he had just had would be further explained.
The ram which thou sawest having two
horns are the kings of Media and Persia.
Cyrus, the Persian and Darius the Mede.
And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first
Alexander the Great
Now that being broken, whereas four
stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but
not in his power.
Alexander died suddenly with no heir and
no regent appointed for his unborn child. The generals of
Alexander fought over the empire and it ended up split into four
main kingdoms. "Not in his power" means they would
never be as powerful as Alexander was.
And in the latter time of their
kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of
fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand
And in the years approaching the final
downfall of the Grecian Empire, when the transgressions of the Jews
and the Gentiles who were Hellenizing them became more than God
would endure, a king, Antiochus IV, arose to power. And he was
ruthless and cruel, and he was skilled in intrigue and treachery.
Such was the character of Antiochus IV who came to power due to his
deceitfulness and betrayal of his own family. The throne
rightly belonged to Demetrius Soter, a son of Seleucus IV Philopator,
but Antiochus IV Epiphanes seized the throne and had himself
proclaimed king. Thus he did not come to the throne by rightful
succession; he seized it through intrigue.
And his power shall be mighty, but
not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall
prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy
Antiochus would be very powerful, but
not by his own doing. God granted him that power for a divine
purpose. He would destroy people to an extraordinary degree
and thereby prosper from the plunder of his victims. And he
did indeed destroy the mighty and the holy people. History
records that when he descended on Jerusalem after his humiliation in
Egypt that he destroyed over 80,000 Israelites and took that many
more into slavery. Those who refused his religious demands
were executed in a most horrible fashion. Antiochus IV was
truly a ruthless individual. After studying this man, it is
impossible not to see him in these apocalyptic lines. These
descriptions paint a picture of a horrible man, bent on the
annihilation of God's people.
And through his policy also he shall
cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in
his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up
against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.
And through his policy
of Hellenization he will cause deceit and treachery to succeed.
As evidenced in his participation with the treacherous high priests,
he demonstrated that he would promote evil men who were deceitful if
he thought it would serve his purpose. He magnified himself in
his heart to the degree that he pronounced himself "God Manifest".
"and by peace shall
destroy many", Declaring peace and then destroying many is
exactly what he did to the Jews when he came to destroy them.
He approached Jerusalem under the guise of peace and attacked them
on the sabbath day and laid Jerusalem waste in a slaughterhouse of
"he shall also stand
up against the Prince of princes", He indeed opposed the Prince
of princes when he built an idol of Zeus over the alter in the
temple and sacrificed a pig on it to show his contempt for the Jews
and for God.
"but he shall be
broken without hand",
God will break (or destroy) him without
the help of any human being. Antiochus contracted some kind of
disease which consumed him from within his bowels. The disease
was said to be so awful that it caused him to smell badly and nobody
could bear to carry him on his litter. He died in agony,
insane, defeated in Babylon and with the knowledge that God's
people, the Israelites, had been raised again to a position of
power. When Antiochus died, his opposition to the Jews ceased,
and their land again had peace and rest.
And the vision of the evening and the
morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision;
for it shall be for many days.
Daniel proclaims that the vision he
received was true. He was then told
to Keep a record of it, that it may be preserved and that the
fulfillment of it might be noted at a later date in the future.
This is significant thing that was told to Daniel here. He was
told to seal up the vision because it would not be realized for many
days. The year of this vision was about 550 BC.
Antiochus died in 164 or 163 BC. Different sources give
different years for his death. This prophecy of Daniel would
see its fulfillment almost four centuries later. In
Revelation, John was told not to seal up the prophecy because the
time was "at hand" (Revelation 22:10). Proponents of
millennialism based on the prophecies of Revelation should take note
of this fact and reconsider their beliefs.
And I Daniel fainted, and was sick
certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king's business; and
I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.
The aged prophet has just seen a vision
that spanned four centuries of time. The plight of his
countrymen was dire indeed. At the time of this vision, he and
most of his nation were in captivity in Babylon, living under the
rule of a cruel despot. The temple lay in ruins back in what
was left of Jerusalem. And in this vision, Daniel sees that
the temple will again be defiled and the worship of the Jews
forbidden. While the vision foretold the fall of Antiochus and
cleansing of the temple, the road that had to be traveled in order
to reach that point was hard. This was not a happy vision for
the aged prophet to have to see, consider and record. It is
entirely understandable that he was sick for a few days.
Daniel loved his people and he loved God and he wanted more than
anything to see his people at rest and at peace within Jerusalem,
worshipping and serving God faithfully and prospering.
But like a true man of God, Daniel
recovered himself and returned to his duties for the king.
Daniel was astonished at the vision but did not completely
understand it. But he comprehended what God wanted him to know
and he understood that God wanted him to record it and this Daniel
Daniel Chapter 8 Paraphrase
In the third year of the reign of King
Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, Daniel, two years after the one
that appeared to me in the first year of his reign. This time I was
at Susa, the capital in the province of Elam, standing beside the
Ulai River. As I was watching, I saw a ram with two long horns
standing on the riverbank; and as I watched, one of these horns
began to grow, so that it was longer than the other. The ram
butted everything out of its way, and no one could stand against it
or help its victims. It did as it pleased and became very
And while I was watching the ram, a he-goat came from the west across the face of the whole earth,
and he moved so swiftly his feet never touched the ground. This goat had a prominent
remarkable horn between his eyes. And he came to the ram that
had the two horns which I had seen standing on the bank of the river
and ran at him and attacked him. He struck the ram and broke his two horns
and the ram was powerless to stand before him. So the goat
threw him to the ground and trampled on him, and there was no one
who could rescue the ram from his attack.
The goat became both
proud and powerful, but suddenly, at the height of his power, his
horn was broken, and in its place grew four large horns
pointing in four directions. And then out from these horns
grew another horn, a fifth, which soon became very strong and
attacked the south and east, and warred against the land of Israel.
He fought against the
people of God and defeated some of their leaders. He even challenged
the Prince of heaven by forbidding the daily sacrifices offered to
him and by defiling his Temple. But he was permitted to do
this because of the transgression of God's people. As a
result, truth and righteousness were cast down, and evil prospered
for a time.
Then I heard two of the
holy angels speaking to each other and one of them said, "How long
will it be until the daily sacrifice is restored again? How long
until the destruction of the Temple is avenged and God's people
triumph?" The other replied to me, "Twenty-three hundred evenings
and mornings must first pass, then the temple shall be cleansed and
As I was trying to
understand the meaning of this vision, suddenly someone who looked
like a man was standing in front of me and then I heard a man's
voice calling from across the river,
"Gabriel, help Daniel understand the vision he just saw". So
Gabriel started toward me, but as he approached, I was too
frightened to stand and fell down with my face to the ground. "Son
of man," he said, "you must understand that the events you have seen
in your vision pertains to the time of the end of the abomination of
desolation." Then I fainted, lying face downward on the ground.
But he roused me with a touch and helped me to my feet saying
"I am here to tell you what is going to happen in the latter time of
the indignation; for at the appointed time the end shall be".
"The two horns of the
ram you saw are the kings of Media and Persia. The rough male
goat is the nation of Greece, and its long horn represents the first
great king of that country. When you saw the horn break off and four
smaller horns replace it, this meant that the Grecian Empire will
break into four sections with four kings but none of them would be
as great as he was."
"Toward the end of their
kingdoms, when they and the children of God have fully transgressed
God, a fearsome king shall rise to power with great shrewdness and
intelligence. His power shall be mighty, but his strength is
not his own. Prospering wherever he turns, he will destroy all
who oppose him, though their armies be mighty, and he will devastate
"He will be a master of
deception, defeating many by catching them off guard when they least
expect it. Without warning he will destroy them. So great will he
glorify himself that he will even defy the God of heaven but in so
doing he will seal his own doom, for he shall be broken by God with
no help from the hand of man whatsoever."
"And then in your vision
you saw the passing of many mornings and the evenings before this
would come to pass. This is the truth so record it and keep it
that it may be preserved, for it shall be many days before this
comes to pass."
Then I grew faint and
was sick for several days. Afterward I recovered and was up and
around again and performed my duties for the king, but I was greatly
distressed by the dream and did not completely understand it.