In the third year of the reign of Belshazzar the king a vision appeared to me, Daniel, subsequent to the one which appeared to me previously (Daniel 8:1)
The third year of the reign of King Belshazzar: This vision happened while Babylon was securely in power. Though the vision will deal with the emergence and destiny of the Greek Empire, the Greek Empire was not much of anything at the time the prophecy came to Daniel.
I looked in the vision, and while I was looking I was in the citadel of Susa, which is in the province of Elam; and I looked in the vision and I myself was beside the Ulai Canal (Daniel 8:2).
Daniel was in Susa or Shushan (in Persia) on business for the king (Daniel 8:27).
Then I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a ram which had two horns was standing in front of the canal. Now the two horns were long, but one was longer than the other, with the longer one coming up last (Daniel 8:3)
A ram which had two horns. In this same chapter (Daniel 8:20) this ram was clearly identified as representing the Medo-Persian Empire, which succeeded the Babylonian Empire.
Two horns were long, but one was longer than the other. The ram was noted for the proportion of its two horns – one was higher than the other. This was an accurate prediction of the partnership between the Medes and the Persians, because the Persians were larger and stronger in the partnership. They also emerged after the Medes (the longer one coming up last).
I saw the ram butting westward, northward, and southward, and no other beasts could stand before him nor was there anyone to rescue from his power, but he did as he pleased and magnified himself (Daniel 8:4).
Butting westward, northward, and southward: The Medo-Persian Empire exerted its power to the north, south, and west. It took territory but made no major conquests towards the east.
While I was observing, behold, a male goat was coming from the west over the surface of the whole earth without touching the ground; and the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes (Daniel 8:5)
A male goat came from the west. In this same chapter (Daniel 8:21-22) this male goat was clearly identified with Greece and its horns are identified with the rulers of the Greek Empire. The goat was a common representation of the Greek Empire.
Over the surface of the whole earth without touching the ground. This prophetic description of the male goat was proved to be accurate regarding the Greek Empire. The Greek Empire rose from the west of previous empires. The Greek Empire rose with great speed suddenly (without touching the ground). The Greek Empire had a notable ruler (horn), Alexander the Great.
He came up to the ram that had the two horns, which I had seen standing in front of the canal, and rushed at him in his mighty wrath (Daniel 8:6).
The Greek Empire had a famous war with the Medo-Persian Empire.
I saw him come beside the ram, and he was enraged at him; and he struck the ram and shattered his two horns, and the ram had no strength to withstand him. So he hurled him to the ground and trampled on him, and there was none to rescue the ram from his power. (Daniel 8:7)
The Greek Empire and the Medo-Persian Empire greatly hated each other (was enraged at him). Some of the greatest, fiercest battles of ancient history were fought between the Greeks and the Persians. The Greek Empire conquered the Medo-Persian Empire and no one could rescue the ram from the Greek Empire.
Then the male goat magnified himself exceedingly. But as soon as he was mighty, the large horn was broken; and in its place there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven (Daniel 8:8)
Male goat magnified himself exceedingly. Male goat gained dominance exceedingly.
But as soon as he was mighty, the large horn was broken. The reign of the notable leader of the Greek Empire (Alexander) was suddenly cut short (the large horn was broken).
And in its place there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven. After the end of Alexander the Great’s reign, the Greek Empire was divided among four rulers (in its place, there came up four notable horns). The four rulers of the Greek Empire ruled their own dominions, not the entire empire together. That is why it is said, the four rulers came up “toward the four winds of heaven”. Alexander did not divide the empire among his four generals himself. His four leading generals divided it among themselves by force after his death. The four generals were: 1) Cassander, ruling over Greece and its region. 2) Lysimachus, ruling over Asia Minor. 3) Seleucus, ruling over Syria and Israel’s land. 4) Ptolemy, ruling over Egypt. The “four winds” refers to the four directions of the earth : north, south, east, and west (Jeremiah 49:36; Matthew 24:31).
Out of one of them came forth a rather small horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Beautiful Land (Daniel 8:9)
Out of one of them came forth a rather small horn. Out of one of them, meaning out of one of the four horns (out of the divided Grecian empire), and not out of the four winds, came a little horn. It is a little horn that comes up, and not a little wind. Horns are attached to animals in the visions and only horns beget horns––the “little horn” comes out of one of the four Greek horns of the male goat. Horns are never pictured as coming out of the winds. Even if winds are meant, this little horn rises from the divided Grecian empire that spread dominion across the four winds or directions of the earth. This is further proved by Daniel 8:23, when it says the little horn (a king) will rise, “during the latter time of their rule”. Whose rule? Daniel 8:22 gives the answer. The rule of the “four kingdoms (four generals of Alexander) which will arise from his nation (Greece)”.
Daniel 8:9, 23 says the little horn would originate from one of the four divisions of Alexander’s empire when these were in their “latter time of their rule” (Daniel 8:23). This points us toward a power originating from the Greek world sometime after 300BC. Rome was never part of the Alexandrian Empire, nor did it originate from one of the divisions of the Greek Empire. Rome came from Italy, and was founded in 750BC. Rome became a republic in 509BC. Rome did conquer the four divisions of the Grecian empire, but this is further proof that Rome did not arise from any of the four divisions of Alexander’s empire. Therefore, Rome could not possibly fit the prophetic symbol of a horn arising from a horn within the Greek Empire.
Which grew exceeding great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the beautiful land. This was fulfilled by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who arose from one of the four successors to Alexander the Great. Antiochus’ sphere of operations was precisely in the three areas that Daniel mentions. He was “exceedingly great” not compared to the previous empires, but toward the south (Egypt), toward the east (Armenia & Persia), and toward the beautiful land (Israel). This is not true of Rome. Many of Rome’s greatest conquests were to the North and West of Rome. Rome conquered large regions of northwestern Europe, the areas now occupied by England, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, and Portugal. Rome also conquered the northwestern regions of Africa, areas now occupied by Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Rome was definitely a power that waxed exceeding great to the north and to the west. Therefore, Rome cannot fit the specification of this prophecy.
Seventh-day Adventist’s argue pointing to “exceeding great”, that Antiochus was not “exceedingly great” compared with Persia and Greece. Again, verse 9 never says the little horn will be exceedingly great in comparison to Persia and Greece or the previous powers. The little horn is not compared with other powers, but merely said to wax “exceedingly great” in three regions: to the south, the east, and the pleasant land. Antiochus was not a big horn on a big stage. He was a little horn that played a big role on a little stage. His conquering of Egypt and his attack against Judaism can certainly be described as “exceedingly great” on the stage of Middle Eastern history during this time period. It can be argued that of all the foes of Judaism, Antiochus Epiphanes came the closest to stamping out the religion. His attack upon Judaism can only be described as “exceedingly great.”
It grew up to the host of heaven and caused some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it trampled them down (Daniel 8:10)
It grew up to the host of heaven. This verse is not talking about heavenly beings, because no empire, not even Rome, has cast down heavenly beings. Both the Bible and the Jewish Apocrypha use similar language to describe the priests and rulers of the Hebrew people.
“So it will happen in that day, That the LORD will punish the host of heaven on high, and the kings of the earth on earth” (Isaiah 24:21).
“And at the end of four hundred and thirty years, to the very day, all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt” (Exodus 12:41).
Some of the stars to fall to the earth. The terms stars of heaven (Genesis 12:3 and 15:5) and the hosts of the LORD (Exodus 12:41) are used of God’s people in general. “Behold, I have had yet another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” (Genesis 37:9).
And trampled them. Antiochus was an infamous persecutor of the Jewish people. He wanted them to submit to Greek culture and customs and was more than willing to use murder and violence to compel them.
It even magnified itself to be equal with the Commander of the host; and it removed the regular sacrifice from Him, and the place of His sanctuary was thrown down (Daniel 8:11)
Magnified itself to be equal with the Commander of the host. Captain of the host is a term that was used for leaders of Israel: “The third captain of the host for the third month was Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, a chief priest: and in his course were twenty and four thousand” (1 Chronicles 27:5).
When Judaea and Jerusalem were under the domination of foreign empires, the priesthood of Jerusalem played an important political role, the priests serving also as leaders of the Jewish communities.
Antiochus magnified himself to be equal to the leader of Israel and he did this literally, during his rule, when the high priest, Onias, was driven into exile and later killed in the cruelest manner, and he installed his own high priest. Furthermore, Antiochus figuratively magnified himself to the ultimate Prince of the host, God Himself. His surname, Theo Antiochus, declared him to be an effulgence in human form of the Divine, a god manifest in the flesh (see Edwin Bevan, The House of Seleucus, vol. 2, p. 154).
Removed the regular sacrifice from Him. The sacrifice that was offered regularly or daily (tamid) in the temple by the High Priest, morning and evening, was suspended. Antiochus Epiphanes put a stop to temple sacrifices in Jerusalem.
And the place of His sanctuary was thrown down. Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the earthly temple of the High Priest and of God.
And on account of transgression the host will be given over to the horn along with the regular sacrifice; and it will fling truth to the ground and perform its will and prosper (Daniel 8:12)
And on account of transgression the host will be given over to the horn along with the regular sacrifice. Because of transgression of the Jews, an army was given over to the little horn to oppose the daily sacrifices. This was fulfilled in the terrors of Antiochus Epiphanes. The Jews, especially their leaders, invited God’s judgment upon them through Antiochus because of their sin.
The Bible says these calamities came upon the Jews “on account of transgression.” In other words, it was the sins of the Jews that brought this calamity upon themselves. It was the Jews who actually took the initiative in Hellenizing Jerusalem during this time period. A deputation of leading Jews came to Antiochus, shortly after he took power, begging for permission to convert Jerusalem into an Antioch and erect the essential mark of a Hellenic city, the gymnasium. Later, after Antiochus installed his own high priest, the gymnasium was built and soon thronged with young priests, pursuing the Hellenic ideal of bodily strength and beauty. (See Bevan, The House of Seleucus, vol. 2, pp. 168-181).
Fling truth to the ground and perform its will and prosper. Antiochus, and his host and army did all these. Abolish true religion and godliness; he cut in pieces the copies of the book of the law and burnt them.
Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to that particular one who was speaking, How long will the vision about the regular sacrifice apply, while the transgression causes horror, so as to allow both the holy place and the host to be trampled? (Daniel 8:13)
Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to that particular one who was speaking. Daniel did not know the names of these two holy angels, but saw only that one was speaking to the other.
How long will the vision about the regular sacrifice apply. How long shall the daily sacrifice (tamid), that is offered morning and evening, be suspended or trampled? The “daily” (tamid) sacrifice in the Hebrew sanctuary was a whole sweet-savor burnt offering which began each evening (‘ereb) and again began each morning (boqer) of the year, including on the Day of Atonement.
While the transgression causes horror so as to allow both the holy place and the host to be trampled. That is, how long will the vision about the daily sacrifice (offered morning and evening) being suspended continue while the act of iniquity (transgression) by Antiochus continues to cause such horror and desolation in the holy place (this is the entire sanctuary, not just the Most Holy place) and the trampling (persecution) of the host (Jews). The height of horror and desolation happened when Antiochus Epiphanes profaned the entire temple of God by offering sacrifices to idols upon the holy altar of God.
Daniel did not ask this question; he heard the holy ones speaking together and one of them asked this question. They wanted to know how long the sacrifices (tamid) would be suspended and how long the entire sanctuary would be desecrated, and the host (Jews) trampled? The next verse should answer this question, “how long”.
He said to me, for 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the holy place will be properly restored (Daniel 8:14).
He said to me, for 2,300 evenings and mornings. How long? 2,300 evening and morning sacrifices would be suspended while the entire sanctuary was profaned. The Hebrew word for evening and mornings is ‘ereb-boqer’. It is not the usual Hebrew word, yom for day, that is used here.
Then the holy place will be properly restored. After 2,300 evening and morning sacrifices, the holy place (entire sanctuary) will be cleansed, restored, and vindicated. The Hebrew word used for restored is “tsadaq’. A defiled “daily sacrifice” and “sanctuary” could only be restored by “dedication” and not by a Day of Atonement method of “cleansing”. Thus, Daniel 8:14 uses the Hebrew word “tsadaq” instead of “ta-heer”, which is the word used in Leviticus 16:19 for cleansing the sanctuary from the general sinfulness of God’s people. The only logical reason for using tsa-daq (for re-dedication) in Daniel 8:14 instead of ta-heer (from the Leviticus 16:19) is because the defilement of the daily and the sanctuary was caused by the little horn and not by the sins of God’s people.
The Sanctuary was cleansed and restored by Judas Maccabeus (a Jew) when he purified the holy places, sanctified the courts, rebuilt the altar, renewed the vessels of the sanctuary, and put all in their proper places. This is recorded in history as follows:
“Then Judas appointed certain men to fight against those that were in the fortress, until he had cleansed the sanctuary. So he chose priests of blameless conversation, such as had pleasure in the law: Who cleansed the sanctuary, and bare out the defiled stones into an unclean place” (1 Maccabees 4:41-51).
Hanukkah (the Feast of dedication) has been the Jewish festival that commemorates the purification and rededication of the Temple by Judas Maccabeus after Antiochus defilement. Jesus attended the Feast of Dedication (John 10:22-24) while on earth.
So, we are told after 2300 evening and morning sacrifices, the holy place (sanctuary) will be cleansed, restored, and vindicated (“tsadaq”). How do we make sense of 2,300? Some scholars prefer 2,300 actual days, while others prefer 1,150 days, with two sacrifices per day, for a total of 2300 evening-morning sacrifices. Interestingly enough, there are good reasons for both periods. Here it is:
- 2300 days (2300 daily sacrifices): Starting on the fifteenth day of the month Cisleu, in the year 145 of the Selucidae (165 BC), Antiochus set up the abomination of desolation upon the altar (1 Maccabees 1:59), to the victory obtained over Nicanor by Judas, on the 13th day of the month Adar, Anno 151 (171 BC), are 2,300 days. The Jews kept an annual feast on the 13th of Adar, in commemoration of the victory.
- 1150 days (2300 morning and evening sacrifices): Beginning with the desecration of the alter on the first day of the month Marchesvan, 168 BC. Ending with the reconsecration of the alter on the 25th day of Kislev, 165 BC.
When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it; and behold, standing before me was one who looked like a man (Daniel 8:15).
Daniel seeks to know the meaning of the vision, which is imparted to him by Gabriel.
And I heard the voice of a man between the banks of Ulai, and he called out and said, Gabriel, give this man an understanding of the vision (Daniel 8:16).
Voice of man, probably God, said to Gabriel: explain it to Daniel so that he will understand its meaning. Now Gabriel better make Daniel understand the vision. If not, he will not have obeyed the command of God.
So he came near to where I was standing, and when he came I was frightened and fell on my face; but he said to me, Son of man, understand that the vision pertains to the time of the end (Daniel 8:17)
He came near to where I was standing, and when he came I was frightened and fell on my face. Gabriel came near Daniel, that he might speak more familiarly to him, yet Daniel could not bear the glory of him.
Understand that the vision pertains to the time of the end. The time of the end is not our time of the end, but the “latter time of their rule” (Daniel 8:23), that is, the rule of the four Greek kings coming out of Alexander the Great, which happens “many days from now” (Daniel 8:26) to Daniel. Scholars often call this provisional, contextual “end”, the prophet’s own “eschatological horizon” and not the actual “end.”
Now while he was talking with me, I sank into a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me and made me stand upright (Daniel 8:18)
When Gabriel spoke to him, Daniel fell paralysed and motionless— being terrified and astonished with the splendour and grandeur both of the messenger and message. But Gabriel restored him up.
He said, Behold, I am going to let you know what will occur at the final period of the indignation, for it pertains to the appointed time of the end (Daniel 8:19)
I am going to let you know what will occur at the final period of the indignation. The final period of the indignation is the afflictions permitted to be brought upon the Jewish people.
For it pertains to the appointed time of the end. The appointed time of the end is not our time of the end, but the “latter time of their rule” (Daniel 8:23), that is, the rule of the four Greek kings coming out of Alexander the Great.
The ram which you saw with the two horns represents the kings of Media and Persia. The shaggy goat represents the kingdom of Greece, and the large horn that is between his eyes is the first king. The broken horn and the four horns that arose in its place represent four kingdoms which will arise from his nation, although not with his power (Daniel 8:20-22).
Ram represents kings of Media and Persia. Goat represents Greece. Four horns were fulfilled in history by the four generals who divided Alexander’s Empire between them, but they did not have the same power that Alexander had, that is why it is said “not with his power”.
In the latter time of their rule, when the transgressors have run their course, A king will arise, Insolent and skilled in intrigue (Daniel 8:23)
In the latter time of their rule. That is during the “time of the end” or “end times” of the Grecian empire when four generals were ruling the empire.
When the transgressors have run their course. That is, when the state of things, the prevalence of wickedness and irreligion in Judea, shall have been allowed to continue as long as it can be or so that the cup of sin shall be full. Then shall appear this formidable power during the latter days of the Grecian empire to inflict deserved punishment (indignation) on the guilty nation (Jews).
A king will arise, insolent and skilled in intrigue. When will this King arise? 1) In the latter of their rule meaning when Greece was divided into four dominions. 2) When sins of the Jews have run their course. Here again, it is clear this little horn arises from the divided Grecian empire, and not Rome. He is insolent and skilled in intrigue. This is the very just character of Antiochus, according to Diodorus, Polybius, and all the historians.
His power will be mighty, but not by his own power, and he will destroy to an extraordinary degree And prosper and perform his will; He will destroy mighty men and the holy people (Daniel 8:24-25)
Antiochus Epiphanes was mighty, but not solely by his power, for he was empowered by Satan. Antiochus Epiphanes looked like a total success. Antiochus Epiphanes not only destroyed his enemies (mighty men), but also harshly persecuted the people of God (Jews).
And through his shrewdness He will cause deceit to succeed by his influence; And he will magnify himself in his heart, And he will destroy many while they are at ease. He will even oppose the Prince of princes, But he will be broken without human agency (Daniel 8:26)
He shall exalt himself in his heart. The coins of Antiochus Epiphanes were inscribed with this title: THEOS EPIPHANIES meaning, “God manifest.”
He will even oppose the Prince of princes. Though Antiochus Epiphanes hated the people of God and fought against them, it was because he really hated God.
Broken without human means: History tells us that Antiochus Epiphanes died of disease, not by the hand of man.
The vision of the evenings and mornings which has been told is true; But keep the vision secret, For it pertains to many days in the future (Daniel 8:26)
The vision of the evenings and mornings which has been told is true. The vision of the suspension of 2300 evening and morning sacrifices and the desecration of the earthly sanctuary is certain.
But keep the vision secret. The revelation is to be kept safe and sealed.
For it pertains to many days in the future. When the “time of the end” of the Grecian empire comes, then this vision would no longer be “secret” and “sealed” but would begin to be understood by the original audience, the Jews. We see this unsealing of the book of Daniel predicted for the “time of the end” taking place when the Jews began reading and understanding the prophecies of Daniel, probably shortly after the end of the Babylonian captivity or at the latest when the book of Daniel became part of the Hebrew Bible. Thus, the unsealing of Daniel in the “time of the end” is parallel to “the latter part [future] of their [Grecian] rule” in Daniel 8:23, that is, the rule of the four Greek kings coming out of Alexander the Great, which happens “many days in the future” (Daniel 8:26) for Daniel.
Then I, Daniel, was exhausted and sick for days. Then I got up again and carried on the kings business; but I was astounded at the vision, but none understood (Daniel 8:27)
Then I, Daniel, was exhausted and sick for days. Then I got up again and carried on the king’s business. Daniel was sick—through grief at the calamities coming on the Jews. He carried on the king’s business. What business is not stated; nor can we be sure (Daniel 5:13).
But I was astounded at the vision, and but none understood. Daniel does not say, “but I was astounded at the vision, and [but I did not understand]”. Then did no one understand the vision? Or did no one understand Daniel’s reaction to the vision? This probably means no one perceived (1 Samuel 3:8) that Daniel had a vision, or of what nature it was. It appears “not understanding” was referring to the people Daniel worked with during King’s business who did not comprehend why Daniel was ill and depressed. To make the claim that Daniel failed to understand this vision thus requiring a second visit from Gabriel later, one must first assume the angel failed in his first mission. However, in Daniel 8:16 a voice commanded, “Gabriel, give this man an understanding of the vision.” Besides, regarding the visions of Daniel, Daniel himself writes later, “none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand” (Daniel 12:10).
1) According to Seventh-day Adventists, the “little horn” of Daniel 7 did not have its beginning until the 4th beast was divided into 10 kingdoms, which, according to Adventist interpretation, happened in 476 AD. The “little horn” of Daniel 8 was to come up “in the latter time of their kingdom” (Daniel 8:23). “Their kingdom” refers to the four divisions of the Alexandrian Empire. The “latter time” or last days of the four kingdoms was 200BC to 100BC. Therefore, the little horn of Daniel 8 arose six centuries before the little horn of Daniel 7 (using the SDA date of 476 AD)! This difference in timing is strong evidence that the two “little horn” powers are not the same. They arise at vastly different points in human history.
2) According to SDAs, the 2300 days began in 457 BC and ended in 1844 AD. During this time period the little horn of Daniel 8 is supposed to be “treading underfoot” the sanctuary. According to SDA teaching, this began with pagan Rome treading underfoot the earthly sanctuary, and then later became papal Rome treading underfoot the heavenly sanctuary. This presents a whole host of dilemmas:
- Rome did not have any contact with the Jewish nation until 161 BC. How could the little horn have begun its desecrating work in 457 BC, 296 years before it even came into contact with the Jewish state? Rome had no part whatsoever in the activities of 457 BC and thus could not possibly be the “little horn” described in Daniel 8.
- If Papal Rome is the little horn of Daniel 8 during the latter part of the 2300 days, then what happened to papal Rome on October 22, 1844? Did the Papacy suddenly stop defiling the Sanctuary in 1844? Was it “broken without hand” (Daniel 8:25) in 1844? Why is there no event in papal history to coincide with the end of the 2300 days?
- If pagan Rome neither persecuted the Jews nor stopped the sacrifices in 457 BC, and if there is no event in papal history to coincide with the close of the 2300 days in 1844, then how can we possibly attach Rome to this prophecy?
3) Is the sanctuary of Daniel 8:13-14 the heavenly sanctuary?
Notice the question: “How long shall…the sanctuary…be trampled?” (Daniel 8:13)
The answer is 2300 evenings-mornings. This puts the Seventh-day Adventists in a dilemma, because they insist that the sanctuary being “cleansed” in verse 14 is the heavenly sanctuary.
However, according to their own calculations, the papacy did not arrive until after 476 AD–nearly a millennium after the 2,300 years started! Who was trampling the sanctuary for 934 years before the rise of the papacy? Seventh-day Adventists claim that “Imperial Rome” trampled the earthly temple in 70AD when it was destroyed by Roman armies, but that was the earthly, not the heavenly temple. If the sanctuary is the heavenly sanctuary in verse 14, then how could it be the earthly sanctuary in verse 13, since verse 13 is a question being answered in verse 14?
The truth is that there has never in human history been a 2300-year period where the sanctuary in heaven (or on earth) was trodden under foot. This fact alone should prove that the SDA interpretation does not fit historical facts and is therefore invalid.
From a Protestant viewpoint, Seventh-day Adventists are actually more guilty of “casting down the truth” about Christ’s high priestly ministry in the heavenly sanctuary than are Roman Catholics. SDAs deny that Christ has been performing a uniquely high priestly ministry inside the Most Holy Place since His ascension. SDAs have destroyed the “truth” about any activity by Christ as high priest before 1844.
See Our full verse-by-verse Daniel Chapters 1-12 Commentary here.
See our full verse-by-verse Revelation Chapters 1-22 Commentary here.