Daniel 8: The Ram and the Goat
Daniel 8:9-12: The Litle Horn
This beautiful prayer is called Hanerot Hallalu - Hebrew for "these lights" - and it's heard every night in the Festival of Lights after lighting the candles. The festival itself is called Hannukah (Hebrew for "dedication") and its reason is to commemorate the deliverance of the Jewish people from one of their most vicious enemies, the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes (215-164 BC) You can read more about Hannukah here:
Hannukah is not the only Jewish celebration about a deliverance God worked for His people. Passover celebrates the end of slavery in Egypt as we read it in the book of Exodus, and Purim the salvation from anihilation in times of the Persian king Ahasuerus, as it is narrated in the book of Esther.
Do you believe God still care about His people Israel?
If not, what do you make of these acts of deliverance? This is modern Israel:
1949 - Israel was delivered from the attack of an army made up of six Arab countries together (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia) To better understand the miracle behind it, think about Switzerland defeating an army made up of France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Austria and the Czech Republic, trying to invade them.
1967 - Israel was delivered from the attack of an Arab army made up of five Arab countries together (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq) supported by seven other muslim countries (Algeria, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, Sudan, Tunisia)
1973 - Israel was delivered from the attack of an Arab army made up of two Arab countries (Egypt and Syria) with the support of Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, Cuba and North Korea (a 3,500-strong infantry brigade from Sudan arrived too late to participate in the war)
Do you see any difference between Pharao, the Babylonians, or the Seleucids in Antiquity, and the Arab League, the other Muslim governments and the Communists in the XXth century?
Or between God's actions then and now?
We shall come to those issues later. Now let's go back to the events commemorated in the Hanukkah celebration, which are the theme of Daniel's prophecy in chapter 8, verses 9-12, it is, the persecution under Antiochus IV Epiphanes and the Maccabean Revolt.
Even when the reign of Antiochus and the Maccabean Revolt took place in the second century BC, Daniel had received the prophecy on 551 BC. The accuracy of his predictions is amazing. Let's read the prophecy in Daniel 8:9-12:
"Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord; it took away the daily sacrifice from the Lord, and his sanctuary was thrown down. Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground."
"Umin-haakhát mehém yatzá kéren akhát mitzeirá, vatigdál-yéter el-hanégev veel-hamizrá veel-hatzébi. Vatigdál ad-tzebá hashamáyim, vatapél ártza min-hatzabá umin-hakokhabím, vatirmesém. Vead sar-hatzabá higdíl, umiménu herím hatamíd, vehuslákh mekhón mikdashó. Vetzabá tinatén al-hatamíd befásha, vetashlékh emét ártza, veastá vehitzlíkha"
"Because of rebellion" is the translation of "befásha", often translated "because of transgression". "Pésha" is mainly "transgression", sin against God. The horn didn't do all evil things against the Jews because of their rebellion; but their rebellion was rather caused by his attack on their religion and their country. The "transgressors" were Antiochus IV and the hellenizing party, and the "rebels" were the Maccabean patriots. The rest is literally rendered from Hebrew to English.
Daniel 8:9-12 is a prophecy, and because of that, we need not only the translation from Hebrew to English, but from prophetical language to the physical meaning of the mentioned things. We need a REVELATION, God's action to REVEAL hidden things.
"Out of one of them": one of the four horns named in the previous message, Seleucus I Nicator (king from 311-281 BC in the Seleucid Empire) After him came:
Antiochus I Soter (281-261 BC)
Antiochus II Theos (261-246 BC)
Seleucus II Calinicus (246-225 BC)
Seleucus III Ceraunus (225-223 BC)
Antiochus III the Great (222-187 BC)
Seleucus IV Filopator (187-175 BC)
Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 BC)
Daniel prophesied about all of these kings but one - Antiochus I - in the eleventh chapter of his book.
"Another horn, which started small": Antiochus IV Epiphanes. He is called in Daniel 11:21 "a contemptible person who has not been given the honor of royalty". That's why he's called "small". The regent was Heliodorus, the "tax collector" of Daniel 11:20 who had killed Seleucus IV to seize the kingdom and was killed by Antiochus IV in turn. Heliodorus was an usurper; the supposed king to be was Seleucus IV's son Demetrius, who lived in Rome as a hostage. Antiochus killed both Heliodorus and a younger son of Seleucus IV called Antiochus, in order to seize the throne, not being the rightful heir.
Antiochus IV Epiphanes "grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land". There are three peoples here who were attacked by him:
"south" - - - - - - - - - - the Egyptians
"east" - - - - - - - - - - - the Parthians
"beautiful land" - - - - - the Jews
Parthia was the region in the north of Iran and south of Turkmenistan, to which Antiochus tried also to expand. Egypt is meaning the Ptolemaic Empire which was at war with the Seleucid Empire for circa 200 years. Daniel eight elaborates on the wars against Israel only, but in Daniel 11:21-35 are the Egyptian campaigns of Antiochus IV prophesied as well. Those campaigns were two (the first one, known as the Sixth Syrian War, between 170-168 BC, and the second one, which failed because of the Roman intervention, in 168 BC) The books of 1st & 2nd Maccabees narrate how Antiochus IV attacked Israel, in a specially vicious manner after returning from his Egyptian campaigns.
The "rebellion" in NIV, translated - more properly - as "transgression" in KJV and the ASV, is the sin of a "hellenizing" party among some Jews. In 2nd Maccabees 4:7-16 we can read about the hellenizing traitor Jason, brother of the High Priest Onias III, who promoted paganism by substituting the Jewish uses and traditions for Greek ones. In 1st Maccabees 1:11-15 we can read how they even abandoned circumcision and built a gymnasium to become Greeks. This apostasy from Judaism is the transgression which caused that "the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over" to Antiochus IV.
Daniel prophesies also that Antiochus "grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord".
The "host of heavens" or the "starry host" has several meanings in the Scripture. The most common ones are the stars we see in the firmament (Nememiah 9:6, Psalms 33:6) and the angelical hosts, which are in heaven also (Psalms 103:21; 148:2; Luke 2:13) But because it is obvious that Antiochus didn't trample on stars or angels, there must be another meaning. Which one?
A "host of stars" could mean an angelic host, as we have seen. But the stars have other meanings in prophetic Scriptures:
- Jesus (Revelation 22:16)
- The tribes of Israel (Revelation 12:1)
- The priests in Israel (Daniel 12:3)
It is evident which ones were the "stars" which Antiochus did trample. In 1 Maccabees 1:41-61 we read that he decreed laws prohibiting almost all rituals of the Jewish religion and the system of sacrifices, ordered to sacrifice unclean animals, and persecuted to death all those who clung to their religion. He even "set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord". Being this "army of the Lord" the same as the "host of heavens" or "starry host" for this prophecy, its "commander" was the High Priest Onias III, who was deposed by his brother Jason with Antiochus IV's sanction, and later, killed by order of Menelaus, Jason's successor and even a worse traitor than him (2 Maccabees 4:34) Observe the Greek names in both traitor High Priests, as a sign and part of their hellenization.
The "sanctuary" - Jerusalem's temple - and the "daily sacrifice" - the ritual sacrifices offered there - were desecrated by Antiochus IV by constructing a pagan altar upon the holy one, sacrificing unclean animals and prohibiting the sacrifices established by God's law.
The terrible persecution of Antiochus IV Epiphanes on Israel, the Jewish religion and Jewish identity makes him a type of the Antichrist, the last dictator who will try to conquer the world and will be defeated by our Lord Jesus Christ in His second coming. At the time of the evil Seleucid king, there were a Jewish revolt carried on by the Maccabees, which defeated him and began the Hasmonean dynasty, a succesion of Jewish kings who ruled Judea as an independent country until it fell before Rome. The victory of the Maccabees against Antiochus is the theme of the Hanukkah.
Israel's vicious enemies in our days are not different from Nebuchadnezzar, Antiochus IV or the Roman emperor Titus who destroyed the temple and tried to erase Israel and Jewishness. Their problem is that Israel's God is the same who erased the Babylonian, Seleucid and Roman Empires but restored Israel to life after almost 2000 years.
If you want to know more about this Glorious, Omnipotent, Omniscient God, keep reading!
In the love of Christ, your brother
PS. Jesus is coming soon!
In previous messages in this blog we have discussed wrong theological positions dealing with Israel, the end of times and the Second Coming of Jesus with the Millennial Kingdom of God He will bring. The identification of Antiochus IV Epiphanes with the person of the Antichrist is a spiritual one (he is a TYPE of the Antichrist) but in no way it means that they are one and the same person, as many wrong positions argue. Some signs you'll find in wrong interpretations supporting this claim are:
1) That the "little horn" in Daniel 7 and 8 are one and the same person. WRONG
2) That from Daniel 11:21 to the end of the chapter the prophecy has to do only with Antiochus IV Epiphanes. WRONG
3) That the statue of Nebuchadnezzar and the four beasts in Daniel 7 end in Alexander's successors. WRONG
Point number one rests on a real biblical-interpretation rule of thumb: that parallel names, events or objects serve as help to identify and clarify one another. But that a "little horn" in a passage COULD BE the same as a "little horn" in another one doesn't mean it HAS TO BE the same. For instance, "Chaldeans" is a way to name magicians or astrologers, because in Babylonia those were the mainstream "wise men". But not all magicians or astrologers are Babylonians, and not all Babylonians are magicians or astrologers or even believe in sorcery or astrology. So, "COULD BE" is not the same as "MUST BE". Wherever you read "Chaldean" it doesn't mean you're dealing with a magician.
In the same way, point number three rests on another biblical-interpretation rule of thumb: the most clear passages should explain the most obscure ones. Being this prophecy in Daniel 8 the most clearly explained by the angel, even with the names of the Empires, there's been a effort to explain the whole prophecy in Daniel by relating it to Antiochus IV and the Seleucid Empire. But the problem is the same as the first point; you have to secure first without the shadow of a doubt that the passages are historically parallel, not theologically, typologically or symbolically. Moses is a type of Jesus, but they are two different persons. Babylonia is a type of the Roman Empire, but they are not the same Empire. And Antiochus is a type of the Antichrist, but they are not the same person. You don't have to harmonize prophecies about them both (even if you try, it is not possible) because the prophecies are talking about two different persons.
There are several keys for the proper understanding of Daniel's and Revelation's prohecies, given in the messages under Daniel 7:7-8 and 2:41-43.