Daniel 8: The Ram and the Goat
The Little Horn - Prophecies About Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Daniel 8:23-25 is a prophecy about Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the vicious enemy of the Jews who was defeated in the Maccabean Revolt, the event Jews commemorate every year in Hannukah. You can read about this in this site, under the link Daniel 8:9-12. In those verses, Daniel is describing the vision of the "little horn" that came from one of Alexander's successors. Verses 23-25 are the angelical revelation he received to explain the vision - and which were fulfilled exactly as the angel said.
This is the NIV translation of Daniel 8:23-25:
"In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a fierce-looking king, a master of intrigue, will arise. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy those who are mighty, the holy people. He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power"
The original Hebrew sounds like this:
"Ubeakharít malkutám, kehatém haposheím, yaamód mélek az-paním, umebín hidót. Veatzám kokhó velo bekhokhó, uniflaót yaskhít vehitslíyakh veasá. Vehishkhít atsumím veam-kedoshím. Veal-shikhló vehitslíyakh mirmá veyadó, ubilbabó yagdíl. Ubeshalvá, yashkhít rabím, veal-sar-sarím yaamód, ubeéfes yad yishabér"
There are some important details for us to consider about the NIV and the original.
"...when rebels have become completely wicked..." is the translation of "kehatém haposheím", which literally means "when the measure of transgressions is completed" (Tree of Life version, 2014) or "when iniquities shall be grown up" (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition) "Haposheím" can be translated "the transgressions" or "the transgressors". But the "transgressors" weren't "grown up" before Antiochus IV's rise; they got from him the authority to become "completely wicked".
The NIV's use of "rebellion" and "rebels" in the translation is a rather confusing one. The history of Antiochus IV Epiphanes is linked to the Maccabean Revolt, where the "rebels" were the Jewish patriots who fought the Seleucids to liberate their country. And the history is also linked to "transgressors" among the Jews also, a traitorous party that sought to transform Jews into Greeks - that's why it was called the "Hellenizing" party. Among their many transgressions were to advocate paganism and Greek culture, abandoning God's law and even circumcision (the sign of God's covenant with the Jewish people) But the "completion of the transgression" - as TOL version puts it - has being seen in the action of Heliodorus, who went to Jerusalem to plunder the temple (you can read the whole history in 2 Maccabees 3, in the Common English Bible) By this action, Seleucus IV, who send him, abandoned the respectful policies of his father Antiochus III the Great concerning Israel, becoming a "transgressor" and setting the conditions for Antiochus IV's oppresive treatment of the Jews. Part of Antiochus IV's history is treated in the message under Daniel 8:9-12, which we recommend to read and remember as a context to these verses.
"He will destroy those who are mighty, the holy people" is the translation of "Vehishkhít atsumím veam-kedoshím", literally, "And he will destroy the mighty - or numerous - ones and the people of the holy ones". It means that the original Hebrew is speaking about two groups of people, "the mighty - or numerous - ones", whichever they could be, and the holy people, meaning the Jews.
"He will consider himself superior" is the translation of "ubilbabó yagdíl", which literally means "he will exalt himself - or grow, or become arrogant - in his heart".
For the rest, the translation is mostly a literal one.
Antiochus IV "arose" after the "completion of the transgression" by Seleucus IV and Heliodorus, the "tax collector" we read about in Daniel 11:20. His depiction as "master of intrige" fits perfectly; Antiochus IV was more like some kind of a manipulative plotter than the great conqueror he pretended to be. To seize the Seleucid throne he killed Heliodorus, and became king with the help of Eumenes II of Pergamum. Besides, in his endeavour to "hellenize" the Jews, he was utterly helped by a traitorous party among them. That's why he "became strong, but not by his own power".
The prophecies about destroying the numerous ones and the holy people, to cause astounding devastation and succeed in whatever he did were fulfilled by him in his invasion of Egypt and his attack on Jerusalem, that we can read about in 1 Maccabees 1:16-24.
The Jews "felt secure" because the Seleucids and Ptolemies had respected their religion and the temple before. But Antiochus "took his stand" against the High Priest Onias III, appointing his brother Jason - a traitorous Hellenizer - in his place. Two years later, he made them "feel secure" again by sending an officer who "spoke peacibly and the Jews believed him", but then attacked the city without warning, "causing deceit to prosper". Antiochus IV was "destroyed, but not by human power", because he died in Persia because of a painful disease. We can read about it in 1 Maccabees 6.
Now, this is what Daniel 8 says about Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Besides these verses, you can read the prophecy in Daniel 8:9-12 and Daniel 8:13-14. But we began with a different question, what did Daniel say about the Antichrist? Because a misleading interpretation which causes confusion and antisemitism, a satanical lie which divides the church between prophets and false prophets, is to consider all of Daniel's prophecies about "little horns" referring to Antiochus IV. Antiochus IV did put the "abomination that causes desolation" in the temple, as it was prophesied in Daniel 11:31. But our Lord Jesus Christ prophesied that the "abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel" (Matthew 24:15) would stand in the temple again. He was obviously referring to another person who would put it there in the future, because Antiochus IV was dead and buried more than a century before Jesus preached in Israel.
Jesus' prophecy leads us - or should lead us - to these questions:
- How many "abominations that cause desolation" spoke Daniel about?
- Which one (or ones) was (were) put in Jerusalem's temple by Antiochus IV?
- Which other one (or ones) was (were) to be put by another person?
- Who is that person?
A NIV concordance will deceive you, because there is no "abomination that causes desolation" in Daniel 9:27 in the original Hebrew, but rather "on the wing of abominations" - very well paraphrased as "overspreading of abominations" in KJV. The best way to know the answer to the first question is in the original Hebrew, where "desolation that causes desolation" is called "shikúts meshomém" in Daniel 11:31 and "shikúts shomém" in Daniel 12:11.
Matthew 24:15 uses Greek "bdélungma tes eremóseos", "abomination of desolation". It is the same term we find in the LXX, where Daniel was translated to the Greek in the 3rd century BC, for Daniel 12:11. But Daniel 11:31 uses "bdélungma efanisménon" to translate the same thing from Hebrew. "Efanisménon" comes from Greek "afanízo", "to destroy, to obliterate". We can properly and christianly say that the "abomination of desolation" is found in Daniel two times, in 11:31 and 12:11. And that Matthew uses the term of Daniel 12:11 from the LXX to speak about the abomination Jesus prophesied about.
The second question has no doubt about the first abomination (Daniel 11:31) because that prophecy is about Antiochus IV Epiphanes who did put the abomination in the temple (1 Maccabees 1:54) Then the third question can be answered: another person should fulfil Jesus' prophecy, and put in the temple the abomination referred to in Daniel 12:11, because there are only two abominations of desolation that Daniel spoke about. Both of them were to be put in Jerusalem's temple, by the ruler of a world power who would be a fierce persecutor of the Jews. But it is not the same ruler or the same world power.
Who is this other person?
The prophecy of Our Lord in the context of Matthew 24 is a very revealing detail. In verse 3 the disciples ask the Master, "What will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?". And from verse 4 to verse 31, Jesus gives them a great prophecy about His Coming - prophesied in verses 29-31 - and about the signs that would precede that event - prophesied in verses15-28. The Lord speaks about:
1 - The abomination of desolation (v. 15) Compare Revelation 13:5-7
2 - Israel flying to the mountains (vv. 16-20) Compare Revelation 12:14
3 - "Great distress" - or tribulation (v. 21) Compare Daniel 12:1-2; Revelation 5:1-7 and Revelation 6:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12; Revelation 8:1. Even when it is too long to be treated here, let's just say that these seals that only the Son of God could open are God's judgements corresponding to that tribulation. Of course it is something to deepen in, but not now, Take my word for it for now.
The period of time known as the "Great Tribulation" - which has been treated in this site in Daniel 2:44-45 and Daniel 7:7-8 - is marked by the government of the dictator called "the anti-Christ" and his false prophet, the "666-beast" or "beast of the earth" in Revelation 13 (the anti-Christ is the "beast of the sea" in the same chapter) When Jesus comes in Revelation 19, and the "beast" is thrown in a lake of fire, then Satan is bound and the Kingdom of God replaces the last human kingdom (Revelation 20) That's why the anti-Christ or "beast" is the last human ruler before the coming Kingdom of God, where the ruler is the Messiah.
And that's why the little horn from Daniel seven, whose deeds are prophesied in Daniel 11:36-45, is not the same as the little horn from Daniel 8, whose deeds are prophesied in the same chapter and in Daniel 11:21-35. This last one is Antiochus IV Epiphanes, but the first one is the anti-Christ and he is yet to appear. He is defeated in every prophecy you find about him by the coming of the Messiah and the Kingdom of God.
You can read in this site more about this two persons, Antiochus and the anti-Christ, by clicking the links:
Daniel 2:41-43 - differences between the Antichrist and Antiochus IV in prophecy
Daniel 7:7-8 The "beast" the anti-Christ shall govern, "Rome".
Antiochus's "beast" was Greece
Daniel 8:13-14 Antiochus' abomination lasted 3 1/6 years; the Antichrist's, 3 1/2
Somebody could tell you, "but the prophecy in Daniel 11:21-45 is about the same person, Antiochus IV". Let me tell you, it is not divided from verse 36 to "make it appear" that Daniel spoke about the anti-Christ, or to match two different little horns in Daniel 7 and 8. Stand with us until we take the passage, and you'll see several prophecies in 36-45 that have nothing to do with Antiochus, that he didn't fulfil or even began to fulfil, and that take us to two conclusions: the prophet Daniel was wrong in 10 verses in his perfectly prophetical, God-revealed book, or verses 36-45 are about someone else. Keep reading!
May the Lord bless you!
In the love of Christ, your brother
PS. Jesus is coming soon!