God is Judge Chapter 12

God is Judge

Chapter 12

A Commentary on the book of Daniel

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Antiochus in Daniel 7 and 8

 

Antiochus

 

Previously, the visions of Daniel 2 and 7 were compared and the conclusion was reached that the visions were not completely parallel. Whereas the vision in Daniel 2 reaches to “the end” the vision presented in Daniel 7 reaches until “an end.” [1] Despite this the vision of Daniel 7 (and Daniel 8) has typological, supra-historical relevance which is readily recognised and employed in New Testament eschatology.   Schematically the relationship between Dan 2, 7 and 8 can be presented as follows:

antiochus schema

[1] Dan. 8:7 states that, “the vision is for the end time” but parallelism with Hab. 2:3 suggest the sense of “appointed time” – the end of something is anticipated (i.e. the end of wrath) but not necessarily the end of history or the introduction of the kingdom. This will be discussed anon.

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The “Little Horn” of Daniel 7 and 8 portrays an “apocalyptic moment” and as such has significance beyond its historical context. In the same sense the stone grinding the image to powder in Daniel 2 has an “already/not yet” realization in the resurrection of Christ (cf. Dan. 12:1-3; Matt. 27: 52-53) and the destruction of the Second Temple (cf. Dan. 2:34-35; Matt. 21:21; 43-44) – the universal judgement of sin at the crucifixion is already the beginning of the in-breaking of divine sovereignty – but not yet the fullness. The stone will grow into a mountain that fills the whole earth. In a similar fashion the “Little Horn” that describes the persecutions instigated by Antiochus Epiphanes reaches beyond the spatial and temporal confines of history to become the eschatological figure par excellance - the Pauline “man of sin” and the Johannine anti-Christ.

 

This chapter will argue for the unity of Daniel 7 and 8 and demonstrate that the “Little Horn” of Daniel 7 is the same as the “Little Horn” of Daniel 8.  The “Little Horn” will be identified with Antiochus Epiphanes and the relevance of this proposal to New Testament eschatology will be examined. However, the following caveat must be added – acceptance of the critical view (that the “Little Horn” is Antiochus) does not imply acceptance of a late date for Daniel, nor  does it imply acceptance of ex eventu prophecy, nor does it invalidate (as we have demonstrated) the traditional view regarding the image of Daniel 2 (that Rome is the fourth kingdom).  To express it positively, this exegesis understands that Daniel was written early, before the persecutions of Antiochus and that the book correctly foretells future events. The exegesis is analysed under the following sub headings;

 

  • The unity of Daniel 7 and 8
  • Antiochus Epiphanes as the “Little Horn”
  • Objections to Antiochus Epiphanes considered

 

The unity of Daniel 7 and 8

 

In his commentary on Daniel 8, the critical scholar Porteous states that, “There is general agreement about this identification even among those who refuse to see any reference to Antiochus Epiphanes in chapter 7. Antiochus will feature again very prominently in chapter 11, which will reflect the fact that for the writer the two successor states    Continued  ˃

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which affected most closely the fortunes of the Jewish people were those of Syria under the Seleucid kings, of whom Antiochus Epiphanes was one, and of Egypt under the Ptolomies”.[2]  It is also relevant to note that despite his critical leanings Porteous rejects the view that chapters 8-12 (written in Hebrew) are from a different hand than chapters 1-7; “All this suggested to many commentators that chapters 8 to 12 are from the pen of a different writer from the author of the Aramaic chapters may be due to the writer’s being more at home in Aramaic than in Hebrew……….To offset the differences between the two main parts of the book, apart from the fact that chapter 7 belongs arguably to both, there are certain curious historical assumptions……….which bind the book together. This argument, of course, can be met by an elaborate theory of interpolations, but the burden of proof seems to rest on those who deny unity of authorship, which provides the most natural hypothesis to account for the phenomena”.[3]

 

Whatever the opinions of liberal or conservative scholars the visions of both chapter 7 and 8 occurred during the reign of Belshazzar, suggesting continuity, particularly when coupled with the introductory formula; “a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel, after that which appeared unto me at the first” (Dan. 8:1).  Despite a setting during the reign of Belshazzar (in Babylon) the visionary experience is transferred to the Persian city of Susa in the province of Elam,[4] thus    Continued  ˃

 

[2] Porteous, Daniel, 124

[3] Ibid, 121 

[4] Jeffery notes that as Daniel gets up after a few days’ indisposition and gets on with his work in the king’s service, this proves that he had been in Babylon all the time and that his presence in Susa was purely visionary.  Although the district of Elam came under Babylonian control in the time of Nebuchadnezzar the chapter presupposes the status of Susa in the Persian period. It had been destroyed by Ashurbanipal and was rebuilt by Darius I in 521 BC. In Jewish eyes Susa was the seat of Persian power (Neh. 1:1; Esther 1:2).  A. Jeffery (IB),1956,483

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acknowledging the importance of Darius (cf. Dan. 9:1) who would overthrow Babylon 21 years later and restore the fortunes of the captivity. The vision is not so much concerned with the demise of Persian power and the rise of Greek dominance but rather with the consequences of imperial power struggles for the land and people of Israel. In the vision it is thus taken for granted that the captivity has already returned to the land and re-established worship.  The narrative no longer focuses on the struggle between the super-powers but concentrates on a much narrower horizon; the development of one of the Greek kingdoms into a persecutor – this is not a “notable horn” (Dan. 8:5) like Alexander the Great, who for all his faults was respected in the ancient world, even by the Jews.  No, this was a “little horn” – a king who got too big for his britches. The descriptive term “little horn” also reinforces continuity between the visions of chapter 7 and 8 (Dan. 7:8; 8:9) making it highly unlikely that different characters are in view. 

 

Antiochus Epiphanes as the “Little Horn”

Daniel 8 commences with the prophet receiving a vision in the third year of King Belshazzar – however, curiously, he is not in Babylon but in Susa. Susa was regarded by the Jews as the seat of the Persian Empire (Neh. 1:1; Esther 1:2) and had been rebuilt by Darius Hystaspis (Darius the Great our Darius the Mede) as a fortified city in 521BC.  It seems that Daniel’s presence in Susa was a case of visionary transportation corresponding with the prophet Ezekiel’s visionary experience (Ezek. 1:1). Although set in the reign of Belshazzar the deliberate transposition of the vision to Susa points beyond the Babylonian Empire and even beyond Medo-Persia to the emergence of the Seleucid Empire.

 

There is general consensus on the interpretation of the vision with the Ram representing Persia (Medo-Persia)[5] and the he-goat representing Greece.  Persia was thought of as under the control of the zodiacal sign

 

[5] Note the emphasis on the unequal height of the ram horns (Dan. 8:3) denoting the composite and unequal nature of the Medo-Persian relationship, although they are one entity the parts remain distinguishable.

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of Aires[6] (Ram) and Greece, together with the subsequent Greek-Syrian offshoot, shared the zodiacal sign of Capricorn (Goat). This is fitting as Antiochus Epiphanes desecration of the Sanctuary is depicted as an attack against the “host” (stars). The sanctuary, like the tabernacle before it symbolized the in-dwelling presence of God (shekina) and therefore it is appropriate to depict the earthly assault against the sanctuary in cosmic terms – the nations were, after all, administered by an angelic host – and the “little horn” (like Sennacherib before him) exalts himself to “heaven” in order to challenge God himself.   In actuality the assault by Antiochus Epiphanes (god manifest) should be understood as a declaration of “holy war” in the same way that the refusal by Pharaoh (a “god”) to release Israel resulted in a contest between the ‘gods’ of Egypt and Yahweh the God of Israel.

 

The prelude of the vision that introduces Antiochus is to an extent self-interpreting and painted with large brush strokes – the he-goat with the “notable horn” (Dan. 8:5) is obviously Alexander the Great succeeded by “four notable ones”(Dan. 8:8) another obvious reference to the four kingdoms into which Alexander’s Empire split.[7]  The vision then focuses on the desecrations caused by the “little horn” (Antiochus Epiphanes), which has already been introduced in Daniel 7:

 

Daniel 7:25-27:

25.(JPS)[8]And he shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High; and he shall think to change the seasons and the law; and they shall be [...continued on next page]

 

[6] The name Ulay (Dan. 8:2) is similar to the Hebrew word for ram; on the battle march the Persians carried a gold ram’s head (according to  fourth century A.D. Ammianus  Marcellinus 10.1)

[7] “The Successors” (Diadochi) of Alexander ensued before the Hellenistic world settled into four stable power blocks: the Ptolemaic kingdom of Egypt, the Seleucid Empire in the east, the kingdom of Pergamon in Asia minor, and Macedon.

[8] The translation offered here is from the Jewish Publication Society OT (1917)

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given into his hand until a time and times and half a time. 26. But the judgment shall sit, and his dominions shall be taken away, to be consumed and to be destroy unto the end. 27. And the kingdom and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; their kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them.

 

Daniel 8:9-14:

 

9.(JPS)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 beauteous land. 10. And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and some of the host and of the stars it cast down to the ground, and trampled upon them. 11. Yea, it magnified itself, even to the prince of the host; and from him the continual burnt-offering was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. 12. And the host was given over to it together with the continual burnt-offering through transgression; and it cast down truth to the ground, and it wrought, and prospered. 13. Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said unto that certain one who spoke: ‘How long shall be the vision concerning the continual burnt-offering, and the transgression that causes appalment, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled under foot?’14. And he said unto me: ‘Unto two thousand and three hundred evenings and    Continued  ˃

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mornings; then shall the sanctuary be victorious.’

 

This series of events starts with the casting down of the host and is followed by the taking away of the daily and finally the casting down of the sanctuary. The Jews themselves understood this to be the fulfilment of the prophecy, as recorded by Josephus:

 

(272) ‘Daniel wrote that he saw these visions in the plain of Susa; and he hath informed us that God interpreted the appearance of this vision after the following manner:—He said that the ram signified the kingdoms of the Medes and Persians, and the horns those kings that were to reign in them; and that the last horn signified the last king and that he should exceed all the kings in riches and glory; (273) that the he-goat signified that one should come and reign from the Greeks, who should twice fight with the Persian, and overcome him in battle, and should receive his entire dominion;(274)that by the great horn which sprang out of the forehead of the he-goat was meant the first king; and that the springing up of four horns upon its falling off, and the conversion of every one of them to the four quarters of the earth, signified the successors that should arise after the death of the first king, and the partition of the kingdom among them, and that they should be neither his children nor of his kindred that should reign over the habitable earth for many years; (275) and that from among them there should arise a certain king that should overcome our nation and their laws, and should take away our political government, and should spoil     Continued  ˃

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the temple, and forbid the sacrifices to be offered for three years’ time.(276) And indeed it so came to pass, that our nation suffered these things under Antiochus Epiphanes, according to Daniel’s vision, and what he wrote many years before they came to pass.’

Flavius Josephus, ‘Antiquities’, book 10, chapter 10, section 4

 

Though the casting down of the Jewish host took place at this time, it was not until another two years that Antiochus would commit sacrilege:

 

Casting Down of the Sanctuary

 

1 Maccabees 1:

 

20.(KJA) And after that Antiochus had smitten Egypt, he returned again in the hundred forty and third year, and went up against Israel and Jerusalem with a great multitude, 21. And entered proudly into the sanctuary, and took away the golden altar, and the candlestick of light, and all the vesselsthereof, 22. And the table of the showbread, and the pouring vessels, and the vials, and the censers of gold, and the veil, and the crown, and the golden ornaments that were before the temple, all which he pulled off.

 

This was part of Antiochus’ attempts to Hellenize the Jews - he was determined to take away their identity by taking away their religion. But this was not enough. Bereft of the temple furnishings, the Jews continued to make their sacrifices and offerings. Whilst this continued, Antiochus’ attempts to eradicate the Jewish identify could not succeed.

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Taking Away of the Daily

 

The next step was obvious - the forcible prevention of the Temple services:

 

1 Maccabees 1:

 

29. (KJA) And after two years fully expired {the year is now the 145th year} the king sent his chief collector of tribute unto the cities of Juda, who came unto Jerusalem with a great multitude…44. For the king had sent letters by messengers unto Jerusalem and the cities of Juda that they should follow the strange laws of the land, 45. And forbid burnt offerings, and sacrifice, and drink offerings, in the temple; and that they should profane the Sabbaths and festival days:

 

This was the taking away of the daily which had been prophesied by Daniel. Josephus bears witness that this was indeed the time that the daily was taken away:

 

‘Now it came to pass after two years in the hundred and forty-fifth year, on the twenty-fifth day of that month which is by us called Chasleu, and by the Macedonians Apelleus, in the hundred and fifty-third olympiad, that the king came up to Jerusalem, and, pretending peace, he got possession of the city by treachery…He also emptied it of its secret treasures, and left nothing at all remaining; and by this means cast the Jews into great lamentation, for he forbade them to offer those daily sacrifices which they used to offer to God, according to the law.’

Flavius Josephus, ‘Antiquities’, book 12, chpt. 7, section 4

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1 Maccabees 1 has the abomination set up on the altar ten days before the removal of the daily sacrifice, although it is inconceivable that the Jews would have continued the daily sacrifice for a further 10 days on the ritually impure altar.

 

1 Maccabees 1:

 

54. KJA/RSV On the 15th day of the 9th month of the 145th year [of the kingdom of the Greeks] king Antiochus set up the abominable idol of desolation upon the altar of God.

 

Casting Down of the Host

 

The casting down of the host commenced with Antiochus’ suppression of the Jewish opposition to his rule, and his corruption of the priesthood. The predecessor of Antiochus Epiphanes (Antiochus III) had permitted the Jews considerable autonomy, under the leadership of the high priest. For years there had been two parties among the Jews, the Hasideans (supporting the traditional Jewish customs under the high priest) and a group of radicals who wished to introduce Greek customs.

 

1 Maccabees 1:

 

11. In those days went there out of Israel wicked men, who persuaded many, saying, Let us go and make a covenant with the heathen that are round about us: for since we departed from them we have had much sorrow. 12. So this device pleased them well. 13. Then certain of the people were so forward herein, that they went to the king, who gave them licence to do after the ordinances of the heathen: 14. Whereupon they built a place of exercise at Jerusalem according to the customs of the heathen: 15. And made themselves uncircumcised, and forsook the holy covenant, and joined    Continued  ˃

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themselves to the heathen, and were sold to do mischief.

 

In the year 172 BC (Seleucidae 141), certain of the Hasideans had protested against the Greek customs introduced, and insisted that the priesthood was corrupt (this was no idle charge, since the current priest, a Hellenized Jew called Jason, had bought the priesthood from Antiochus). In response, Antiochus suppressed the Jewish opposition, and appointed Melenaus (another Hellenized Jew), as high priest. In return, Melenaus permitted Antiochus to enter Jerusalem and plunder the temple. Syrian soldiers crushed resistance, breaking down houses and city walls. It was the casting down of the Jewish host - both the priesthood and the military power of the Jews. Jewish history dates the beginning of the Antiochene persecution from this time.

 

Cleansing the Sanctuary

 

(The Feast of Lights or, Hanukkah on the 25th day of the 9th month).The news was reported to Antiochus:

 

1 Maccabees 6:

 

5. (RSV) Then some one came to him in Persia and reported that the armies which had gone into the land of Judah had been routed; 6. That Lysias had gone first with a strong force, but had turned and fled before the Jews; that the Jews had grown strong from the arms, supplies, and abundant spoils which they had taken from the armies they had cut down;

 

In that same year, the daily sacrifice was restored, the abomination of desolation taken down, and the sanctuary cleansed:

 

1 Maccabees 6:

 

7. (RSV) That they had torn down the abomination which he had erected upon     Continued  ˃

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the altar in Jerusalem; and that they had surrounded the sanctuary with high walls as before, and also Beth-zur, his city.

 

1 Maccabees 4:

 

52. (RSV) Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, which is the month of Chislev, in the one hundred and forty-eighth year, 53. they rose and offered sacrifice, as the law directs, on the new altar of burnt offering which they had built. 54. At the very season and on the very day that the Gentiles had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes and cymbals.

 

Josephus records each element of the fulfilled prophecy - the host no longer underfoot but victorious, the restoration of the daily sacrifice, and the cleansing of the sanctuary:

 

‘When, therefore, the generals of Antiochus’s armies had been beaten so often, Judas assembled the people together, and told them, that after these many victories which God had given them, they ought to go up to Jerusalem, and purify the temple, and offer the appointed sacrifices… so he chose out some of his soldiers, and gave them order to fight against those guards that were in the citadel, until he should have purified the temple. When therefore he had carefully purged it, and had brought in new vessels, the candlestick, the table, and the altar, which were made of gold, he hung up the veils at the gates, and added doors to them. So on the five and twentieth day of the month Casleu,     Continued  ˃

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which the Macedonians call Apelleus, they lighted the lamps that were on the candlestick, and offered incense upon the altar, and laid the loaves upon the table, and offered burnt offerings upon the new altar.’

Flavius Josephus, ‘Antiquities’, book 12, chapt. 7, section 6

 

 The “daily” or continual sacrifice (תמיד , tāmīd) was offered twice a day. Therefore 2,300 sacrifices were omitted.  For a period of 1,150 days the evening and morning offerings were unable to be made;

 

And he said unto me: ‘Unto two thousand and three hundred evenings and mornings; then shall the sanctuary be victorious.’ (Dan. 8:14)[9]

 

The key dates are:

143: Antiochus enters Jerusalem, takes away the Temple furniture
145: (15th Chislev) -  Abomination is set up.
145: (25th Chislev) - Antiochus forbids the sacrifices, taking away the daily
148: (25th Chislev) - daily sacrifice restored, and the sanctuary is cleansed, ending the 2,300 evenings and   mornings

 

First and Second Maccabees employ Seleucid dating - under the Seleucid system of dating, a fixed year became the basis for continuous dating for the first time in the Middle East. After the death of    Continued  ˃

 

[9] The translation offered here is from the Jewish Publication Society OT (1917): the Greek and Latin versions mistakenly read 2,300 days and this followed by many translations including the KJV and NKJ.

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Alexander his generals divided his empire, and the area of Syria and eastward eventually fell to Seleucus Nikator. The year chosen was the year of entry of Seleucus into Babylon, 311 BC according to the Mesopotamian reckoning and 312 BC according to the Syrians.[10] This date becomes year one of the Seleucid era. Before this time, dating had been only according to the regnal years of the ruling monarch (e.g., “fourth year of Darius”). Bickerman notes, “[T]hat after Alexander’s conquest of the Persian Empire, the Macedonian calendar came to be widely used by the Greeks in the East, though in Egypt it was supplanted by the Egyptian year at the end of the 3rd century BC. The Seleucids, from the beginning, adapted the Macedonian year to the Babylonian 19-year cycle………In the classical age and later, the months, named after festivals of the city, began in principle with the New Moon. The lunar year of 12 months and about 354 days was to be matched with the solar year by inserting an extra month every other year. The Macedonians used this system as late as the 3rd century BC….After the conquest of Jerusalem (587 BC), the Babylonians introduced their cyclic calendar and the reckoning of their regnal years from Nisanu 1, about the spring equinox. The Jews now had a finite calendar year with a New Year’s Day, and they adopted the Babylonian month names, which they continue to use. From 587 BC until AD 70, the Jewish civil year was Babylonian, except for the period of Alexander the Great and the Ptolemies (332–200 BC), when the Macedonian calendar was used”. [11]

 

The Babylonians based their calendar on observation of the crescent moon. The Babylonians finally systematized a strictly lunar calendar with a 19 year cycle and the distribution of intercalary months to synchronize with the seasons (e.g., with the solar year). Luckenbill [12]

 

[10] The Syrian Greeks began their new year in the fall, and his year 1 is dated from the prior fall on Dios 1, 312 BC.

[11] E. J. Bickerman, Calendars, (Encyclopaedia Britannica, EnWiki.NET online@ (cited Dec. 2009) Access here

[12] D. D. Luckenbill,  The Babylonian Calendar,(The University of Chicago Press,1918),140

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comments; “Before the eighth century B.C. the intercalation of a thirteenth month did not follow any recognized astronomical principle, but beginning with the era of Nabonassar (February 26, 747 B.C.) the year was so arranged that the first of Nisan always followed the equinox (vernal). By the sixth century we find the cycle of nineteen years of 235 months. Of these, twelve were common years and seven embolismic years. The nineteen-year cycle was perfected little by little, and beginning with 367 B.C. the order of the embolismic years in the cycle was fixed. The years 3,6,8,11,14, and 19 had a second Adar, the year 17 a second Ulul”. Goldingay (Word, 310) observes, “[T]hat various calendars were in use in the seer’s day.[13] The Babylonians used a lunar calendar that produced a year of 354 days, the Essenes a solar calendar of 364 days, the Hellenistic regimes a luni-solar one of 360 days; in each case the calendar was corrected to the true length of the solar year-just over 365 days- by intercalating months. Evidence of familiarity with all three calendars has been found in the O.T......They [the periods in Daniel] most straightforwardly fit the luni-solar calendar (e.g., Beckwith, RevQ 10 [1979-81] 377-8], but they can be understood in the light of other systems”.

 

The sanctuary was rededicated and the daily sacrifice restored on Hanukkah (Seleucid 148), which, according to 1 Macc 4:54 was on the same day that it was profaned three years earlier in Seleucid 145. This would make the interval when the “daily” was absent 10 days less than the 1,150 days of Daniel, however, 1 Macc 1:54 seems to correct for this deficiency by dating the installation of the abomination on the altar 10 days prior to the cessation of the daily. It is unlikely that sacrifices were offered on the altar once it was defiled by the “abomination”.    Continued  ˃

 

If we assume that we are dealing with a 360 day year of exactly 30 days[14], then this would equate with a period of 1,150 days:

 

[13] Of course this is only true if Daniel was written after the Greek conquest of the Middle East – if it was written earlier in the Persian period (during the reign of Darius) then a form of the Babylonian/Jewish calendar would have been employed.

[14] This is indicated by Dan. 7:25 “time and times and half a time” which is repeated in Dan. 12:7 and equates with 1,260 days if a 360 day year is employed. The meaning of “time, times, and half a time” is quite clearly three and one-half years. According to Archer, “The word for ‘times’ may originally have been intended as a dual (mo’adayim, ‘two years’)”. Archer, Gleason L., Jr., Daniel: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, volume 7, (ed., F. E. Gaebelein & R. P. Polcyn. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1985), 155

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hanukkah

If the profanation of the temple occurred on Hanukkah (Seleucid 145) during an intercalary year and was followed by a further two intercalary years, then the rededication of the temple in the fourth (regular) year would be 1,150 days later on Hanukkah (Seleucid 148).  However, if, Seleucid 148 was also an intercalary year then the 1,260 days would terminate in the feast of Purim[15] and the 1,290 days in Passover. This

 

[15] From 9-15-145 to Purim in Seleucid 148 (13-15-148 intercalary =360 +15) = 1,260 days. In the case of a leap year, Purim takes place in the 13th month, Adar II, while a minor holiday, Purim Katan, (Little Purim) takes place in the twelfth month Adar I. The little-known, yet important holiday of Purim Katan takes place seven times in the course of the 19-year cycle. Purim is celebrated on the 14th and 15th of the month. The Purim feast dates are systemized as follows: 13 Adar (II in leap years) - Fast of Esther – on 11 Adar when the 13th falls on Shabbat - (Fast Day) 14 Adar (II in leap years) – Purim; 14 Adar I (does not exist in non-leap years) - Purim Katan; 15 Adar (II in leap years) - Shushan Purim - celebration of Purim in walled cities existing during the time of Joshua the post-exilic high priest.‎ Interestingly, Purim is closely associated with the Maccabee victory known as Yom Nicanor  on 13 Adar 161 B.C., when the Maccabees defeated the Syrian General Nicanor in a battle fought four years after the Maccabee’s liberation of Judea and the cleansing and dedication of the temple of Hanukkah. The 1,260 and 1,335 days also link the feasts of Purim and Hanukkah with the date when Nehemiah completed the wall of Jerusalem (Neh. 6:15).

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seems to confirm that at the very least chapter 8 of Daniel is of later provenance and therefore composed during the Greek era. However, closer consideration raises a number of problems. Firstly, it is unlikely that a period of four years would coincide with three intercalary years – because once the order of the embolismic years in the cycle was fixed it was only possible to have two such years in a period of four years. Secondly, we would expect a Maccabean era author to employ a 354 day Jewish/Macedonian/Babylonian year and not a 360 day year with months of exactly 30 days.  A year of 360 days (12x30) belongs to an earlier era in the development of the Babylonian calendar. The Babylonian year apparently consisted originally of 12 months of 30 days, but sometimes made use of sightings of the crescent moon to name the beginning of a month. Under Nabonassar (747-734 BC), a fixed-length month of 30 days was used. The Babylonians finally systematized a strictly lunar calendar which began with the first visible crescent moon around 500 BC.

 

When reviewing Goldstein’s work on 1 Maccabees Saldarini comments; “1 and 2 Maccabees contain a host of historical problems and contradictions caused by obscurity of dates, biases of authors, gaps in essential information and the diverse literary forms of the documents. Goldstein’s method is based on two assumptions (a) that propogandic historians (the authors of 1 and 2 Maccabees/Jason of Cyrene) lie only when it is to their advantage and only when there is a small danger of being exposed; (b) that the author of 2 Maccabees (hereafter understood to include Jason of Cyrene) and Josephus, too, knew and were attempting to verify in detail the prophecies of Daniel in their accounts of the revolt......Conflicts in dating are shown to result    Continued  ˃

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from one or another ancient author’s attempt to arrange events sequentially which were already chronologically obscure to him”.[16]

 

The history in Maccabees is tendentious and influenced by Daniel. This exegesis proposes that the Jewish Festal calendar[17] forms the basis of the time periods in Daniel and these periods formed a convenient framework for the Maccabean histories. Although the Maccabees institutionalized the feast of Hanukkah (lights) it was not originally a Maccabean feast as it is already anticipated by the prophet Haggai (Hag. 2:19) and parallels the restoration of temple worship symbolised by the visionary experience of ‘lights’ by the prophet Zechariah (Zech. 4:11-14). Therefore the embryonic form of Hanukkah would have been known by Daniel if he was alive during the reign of Darius Hystaspis, making him a contemporary of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. If this is correct the possibility exits of a 1,150 day interval between Hanukkah in year one and Hanukkah in year four.[18] Moreover, the 1,150 days is already the interval between the fast that commemorates the destruction of the temple in year one and the Day of Atonement in year four of the Jewish calendar.

 

[16] A. Goldstein, I Maccabees: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, (Garden City: Doubleday, 1976) reviewed by Anthony J. Saldarini in the Journal of Biblical Literature, (Vol., 97, No. 2, pub. The Society of Biblical Literature, Jun., 1978), 288-289

[17] See chapter 14: Time Periods in Daniel

[18] This is counted from the day before Hanukkah (Hag. 2:19) and is only possible if three of the four years are embolismic years (118+385+385+262 – see Appendix 2 Chapter 9: The calendar for the Jewish year). Until the fifth century B.C. the calendar was fully observational, but beginning about 499 B.C. the months began to be regulated by a luni-solar cycle of 19 years. The order of the embolismic years in the cycle was not yet fixed in the Persian period and it is therefore possible that consecutive embolismic years were sometimes used if the seasons were late.

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Objections to Antiochus Epiphanes considered

 

1.    Antiochus was not a horn. A horn of a beast is never taken for a single person, but signifies a new kingdom. The “four horns” of the He-goat were “four kingdoms” (Daniel 8:22).  Answer: The “notable horn” of Dan. 8:5 is clearly Alexander the Great, indicating that “horns” can denote individuals. Nevertheless it is possible that individuals represent nations such as the lion who represents the kingdom of Babylon and the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 7:4). The little “horn”speaks and has a “stout” (i.e. arrogant) look (Dan. 7:8, 11, 25), characteristics that indicate that we are dealing with a particular individual rather than a kingdom.

 

2.    Antiochus did not rise after “ten kings” (Dan. 7:6). It is impossible to find three kings whom Antiochus plucked up. (Dan. 7:8, 24). Answer: Although no consensus exists as to whether Alexander should be included as the first king or on the identity of the last two or three kings, the majority view is that the first seven kings are from the Seleucid dynasty (Seleucus I, Antiochus I, Antiochus II, Seleucus II, Seleucus III, Antiochus III, Seleucus IV), for the remaining “three” that are “uprooted” the most reasonable hypotheses supposes kings or claimants to the throne whom Epiphanes supplanted. When Antiochus III died, Epiphanes was only fourth in line for the throne, being preceded by his brother Seleucus IV and the latter’s sons, Antiochus and Demetrius.[19] Seleucus was murdered by Heliodorus, and Demetrius was taken to Rome as a hostage. Although evidence can only be found for Epiphanes murdering the young Antiochus his unconventional rise to power suggests that he had a hand in neutralising or outmanoeuvring the rightful claimants.

 

[19] Plöger also identifies the three uprooted horns with Seleucus IV and his sons but excludes Alexander and makes up the number ten by including Antiochus Hierax, brother of Seleucus II. Otto Plöger, Das Buch Daniel, (KAT 18; Gütersloh:Mohn,1965),116-117

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3.    Antiochus did not “wax exceeding great”.  Antiochus was weak and was tributary to the Romans. Antiochus certainly did not wax “exceeding great towards the south” (Dan. 8:9). His march to the “south” to Egypt was stopped by the mere word of an unarmed Roman ambassador. When Antiochus said he would think about the Roman’s demand the Roman drew a circle in the sand around Antiochus and told him he could do his thinking within the circle. Antiochus turned and retreated. He was forced out of Egypt by an unarmed representative of Rome. He was later routed by the Jews. To apply this prophecy of a world power a super power which waxed “exceeding great towards the south” to this cruel but weak creature appears to be the height of folly and is advanced merely to avoid or explain away this divine prophecy. His push to the east resulted in his death. He certainly did not wax “exceeding great” in that direction. Answer: The description of the “little horn” builds to an inevitable climax in vv.9-10; he waxes “exceeding great” to the south/east/pleasant land/host/prince of the host. The “greatness” of the “little horn” is not so much his military or political achievements but his swaggering arrogance (magnified himself v.11) and pride (whose look was more stout than his fellows, v.20). While it is true that in 168 Roman pressure forced Antiochus to retire from Alexandria in Egypt – previously, during what is known as the Sixth Syrian War (170-168): Ptolemy VI Philometor, who was too young to rule, attacked the Seleucid Empire. Antiochus IV built a navy (against the terms of the Peace of Apamea) and conquered Cyprus and large parts of Egypt and presented himself as protector of Ptolemy VI against his relatives Ptolemy VIII Euergetes Physcon and Cleopatra II. In 165 Antiochus campaigned to the east and captured Artaxias the capital of Armenia. Antiochus IV Epiphanes also started a Greek colonizing policy in Babylon.[20]  Although Antiochus    Continued  ˃

 

[20] The Babylonian Chronicle concerning the Greek Community in Babylon (“Greek Community Chronicle”; BCHP 14) is one of the historiographical texts from ancient Babylonia. It is important because it mentions how the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes settled Greeks in Babylon.

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was not a super-power he was an important regional power particularly from a Jewish perspective. Antiochus’ expansion to the south obviously exercised Jewish minds and is recorded in chapter 11. Antiochus was aggressive, intolerant and arrogant and above all he interfered in Jewish religious affairs. Antiochus IV Epiphanes assumed divine epithets, which no other Hellenistic king had done, such as Theos Epiphanes (God Manifest) and after his defeat of Egypt, Nikephoros (Bearer of Victory). But his often eccentric behaviour, capricious actions and even insanity led some of his contemporaries to call him Epimanes (The Mad One), a word play on his title Epiphanes.

 

An End not the End

 

The judgement scenes in Daniel 7 and 8 are often understood as depicting the end of history.  However, caution is required as the vision is proleptic. The assault that Antiochus launched against the temple is couched in symbolic language; “some of the host and of the stars it cast down to the ground” and the response is a theophany – a coming in judgement, an end to wrath not the end of history.

 

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. (Dan. 8:19)

 

The Old Greek version reads; “it remains for the hour of the time of fulfilment” and the Vulgate “for the time has its end” and the Syriac, “at the time of the end”. Goldingay (1989:199,fn.19.b-b) offers the translation – “at a set moment an end will come”, Goldingay notes that the English Versions, the MT accents and the Greek translation as published in Ralph’s Septuaginta take as a construct “it will be for the time of the end” parallel to קֵץ (qēṣ) “end” עֵת (ʿēt) “time” in v.17. But that clause has הֶחָזֽוֹן (heḥāzôn) “vision” as subject, this clause    Continued  ˃

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would lack an equivalent which is supplied for the Theodotion.[21] Daniel 8:17 does indeed refer to “the time of the end”[22] but in this case Daniel echoes Hab 2:3 כִּי עֹוד חָזֹון לַמֹּועֵד וְיָפֵחַ לַקֵּץ וְלֹא יְכַזֵּב which the RSV translates as “For still the vision awaits its time; it hastens to the end, it will not lie”.

 

However, Collins[23] notes that, “a strong case can be made for reading עוד [still] as  עד “witness” and taking  יפח as “testify.”[24]  The notion of testimony is compatible with the allusion in Daniel, although the reading dw[ is confirmed at Dan 11:35. The passage from Habakkuk is cited at Qumran, 1QpHab 7:5-6: “For there is yet (עוד) a vision concerning the appointed time. It testifies (יפיח) to the end (לקץ) and it will not deceive.[25] The interpretation given by the pesher is “that the last time (הקץ האחדון) will be prolonged and will be greater than anything of which the prophets speak.” The pesher qualifies קץ by האחדון , an indication that קץ in itself does not necessarily connote a final ending”.

 

[21] καιροῦ πέρας ἡ ὅρασις (the vision is yet for an appointed time)

[22] Daniel 8:17 So he came near where I stood, and when he came I was afraid and fell on my face; but he said to me, “Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end.”

[23] John J. Collins, Daniel: Hermeneia, A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, (Fortress Press: Minneapolis, 1993), 337 including footnotes.

[24] Biblical Hebrew פּוּחַ , “breathe”: but the root appears in Ugaritic in the sense of “testify” (Dahood, Psalms, 2.169). See J. Gerald Janzen (“Habakkuk 2:2-4,” HTR 73 [1980] 53-78), who translates “For the vision is a witness to a rendezvous, a testifier to the end – it does not lie.” (Hermeneia,337 fn.87)

[25] See Horgan, Pesharim, 38, Williams H. Brownlee (The Midrash Pesher of Habakkuk [SBLMS 24: Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1979]114-15 translates “at the end it will speak.” (Hermeneia,337 fn.88)

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The difference can be schematically represented as follows:

end crisis

 

Conclusion

 

The “little horn” of Daniel 7 is the same as the “little horn” of Daniel 8 – in both instances the “little horn” represents Antiochus Epiphanes.  However, as Antiochus Epiphanes becomes a caricature of arrogance, deceit and religious persecution he functions as an archetypical villain – one who depicts the eschatological enemy. Daniel 9 spans 490 years of desolations and therefore has relevance to the Antiochene crisis and the Roman crisis with both events typifying the eschatological crisis.