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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Daniel 8



Two things signal the beginning of a new section in the book here. These two things are: a return to the Hebrew language in the original text (cf. Daniel 1:1 to Daniel 2:3), and an emphasis on the nation Israel. Evidently Daniel wrote the remainder of this book in Hebrew because the revelation in it concerned his people particularly. The Book of Revelation, though written in only one language originally, reveals a similar structure. After an introduction (Revelation 1-3; cf. Daniel 1), a section dealing with worldwide judgments follows (Revelation 4-11; cf. Daniel 2-7). Then the prophecies deal more specifically with Israel (Revelation 12-20; cf. Daniel 8-12).

A. Daniel’s vision of the ram and the goat ch. 8

Chapter 7 recorded the general history of "the times of the Gentiles," from the time Nebuchadnezzar took the Jews into captivity until the Son of Man’s return to the earth. Chapter 8 reveals more detail about the second (Persian) and third (Greek) kingdoms, and especially how they relate to Israel.

"Chap. 8 is the last of the book’s symbolic visions; the succeeding revelations are more verbal than visual and still cryptic but not symbolic." [Note: Goldingay, p. 208.]

Verse 1

1. The setting of the vision 8:1

The third year of Belshazzar was about 551 B.C., two years after the vision in chapter 7 and about 12 years before the events of chapter 5. Daniel was then living within the kingdom of Neo-Babylonia, the first beast of chapter 7. Apparently this was not a dream combined with a vision (Daniel 7:1), but just a vision. Probably it came to Daniel during the daytime. The vision that appeared to Daniel previously refers to the one in chapter 7.

Verse 2

Evidently Daniel was in Babylon when he had this vision, but what he saw, including himself, was in Susa (Shushan, AV; cf. Ezekiel 8:3; Ezekiel 40:1). [Note: Montgomery, pp. 325-26.] Some commentators, however, believe that he was physically present in Susa. Daniel probably knew where he was in his vision because he had visited Susa. It is reasonable to assume that a man in Daniel’s position in the Neo-Babylonian government would have visited Susa previously. Susa stood about 200 miles east of Babylon and approximately 150 miles due north of the top of the Persian Gulf. Archaelolgists discovered the Code of Hammurabi there in 1901. [Note: See Unger’s Bible Dictionary, s.v. "Shushan," by Merrill F. Unger.] The site of Susa is in modern Iran, whereas the site of Babylon is in modern Iraq. Elam was the name of the province where Susa stood when Daniel wrote this book, not necessarily when he had this vision. When Medo-Persia overthrew Neo-Babylonia, Susa became the capital of the Persian Empire. Eighty years after Daniel had this vision, Susa became Esther’s home. One hundred seven years later, it was the city from which Nehemiah departed to return to Palestine (Esther 1:2; Nehemiah 1:1). The "citadel" was the palace, that housed the royal residence, and it had strong fortifications.

"The Ulai [Canal] can best be identified with an artificial canal which connected the rivers Choastes [or Choaspes, modern Kerkha] and Coprates [modern Abdizful] and ran close by Susa." [Note: Montgomery, p. 327.]

Verses 2-4

2. The ram 8:2-4

Verse 3

The "ram" (male sheep) that Daniel saw standing before the canal represented Medo-Persia (Daniel 8:20). It corresponds to the lopsided bear in the chapter 7 vision (Daniel 7:5). The two horns, representing power, symbolized Media and Persia, the two kingdoms that formed an alliance to create Medo-Persia. The longer horn stood for Persia, which had become more powerful in the alliance and had risen to displace Media in leadership after the two nations merged. [Note: See Walvoord, The Nations . . ., pp. 70-71, for a brief history of Medo-Persia, or Siegfried J. Schwantes, A Short History of the Ancient Near East, pp. 140-51.]

The ram was an especially important symbol for the Persians. The guardian spirit of the Persian Empire was portrayed as a ram. When the Persian king went into battle, he carried the head of a ram. [Note: Keil, p. 290.] Also, in the ancient world, different zodiac signs represented various nations. Aries, the ram, stood for Persia, and Capricorn (Latin caper, goat, and cornu, horn) was Greece. [Note: F. Cumont, "La Plus Ancienne geographie astrologique," Klio 9 (1909):263-73.]

Verse 4

Historically, the Medo-Persian Empire pushed its borders primarily in three directions. It went westward (into Lydia, Ionia, Thrace, and Macedonia), northward (toward the Caspian Mountains, the Oxus Valley, and Scythia), and southward (toward Babylonia, Palestine, and Egypt). Compare the three ribs in the mouth of the bear (Daniel 7:5). These advances happened mainly under the leadership of Cyrus and Cambyses. [Note: Driver, p. 113.] Indeed, Medo-Persia had its own way for many years, and glorified itself.

"There is nothing inherently wrong about ’doing great things" . . .; but the expression is only used in an unequivocally good sense of God (1 Samuel 12:24; Psalms 126:2-3); of human beings it tends to suggest arrogance (Jeremiah 48:26; Joel 2:20; Zephaniah 2:10; Psalms 35:26; Psalms 55:13 [12]), or at least achievement at someone else’s expense (Zephaniah 2:8; Lamentations 1:9)-here achievement that presages calamity. The expression has the foreboding ambiguity of the mouth speaking great things in Daniel 7:8; Daniel 7:20." [Note: Goldingay, p. 209.]

Verse 5

The text also identifies the male goat-goats are relatives of sheep-in this vision as representing Greece (Daniel 8:21). History has confirmed the identification. Alexander the Great is clearly the conspicuous horn. Normally goats have two horns, so this goat was unusual. Under Alexander, the Greek armies advanced quickly from the west against Persia.

"Alexander’s conquest of the entire Near and Middle East within three years stands unique in military history and is appropriately portrayed by the lightning speed of this one-horned goat. Despite the immense numerical superiority of the Persian imperial forces and their possession of military equipment like war elephants, the tactical genius of young Alexander, with his disciplined Macedonian phalanx, proved decisive." [Note: Archer, "Daniel," p. 97.]

Verses 5-8

3. The goat 8:5-8

Verses 6-7

Due to previous attacks by the Persians, the Greeks retaliated against these enemies with unusual vengeance. Alexander won two significant battles in Asia Minor in 334 B.C. and in 333, first at the Granicus River and then at Issus in Phrygia. Alexander finally subdued Persia with a victory at Gaugamela near Nineveh in 331 B.C. [Note: Walvoord, Daniel . . ., p. 183. See the map in the introduction to these notes for locations.]

Verse 8

Clearly this description corresponds to that of the third beast in Daniel 7:6. Alexander magnified himself exceedingly in two ways. He extended the borders of his empire after he conquered Medo-Persia even farther east, into modern Afghanistan and to the Indus Valley. Alexander’s empire covered one and a half million square miles. [Note: Whitcomb, p. 111.] He also became extremely arrogant. He regarded himself as divine and made his soldiers bow down before him. This resulted in his troops revolting. [Note: Archer, "Daniel," p. 97.]

"Expositors, both liberal and conservative, have interpreted this verse as representing the untimely death of Alexander and the division of his empire into four major sections. Alexander, who had conquered more of the world than any previous ruler, was not able to conquer himself. Partly due to a strenuous exertion, his dissipated life, and a raging fever, Alexander died in a drunken debauch at Babylon, not yet thirty-three years of age. His death left a great conquest without an effective single leader, and it took about twenty years for the empire to be successfully divided." [Note: Walvoord, Daniel . . ., p. 184.]

As mentioned in my comments on Daniel 7:6, the most probable identifications of the four horns are Lysimachus, Cassander, Seleucus, and Ptolemy (cf. Daniel 11:4). [Note: Young, p. 169; Leupold, p. 344; Montgomery, pp. 332-33; Walvoord, Daniel . . ., p. 184.] Lysimachus ruled the northern part of Alexander’s empire, Cassander the western part, Seleucus the eastern part, and Ptolemy the southern part.

Verse 9

Daniel next saw a rather small horn (king, Daniel 8:23) grow out of one of the four horns (kingdoms, Daniel 8:22) that had replaced the single horn (the first king, Alexander, Daniel 8:21) on the goat (Greece, Daniel 8:21). This horn is quite clearly different from the little horn that came up among the 10 horns on the fourth beast in the previous vision (cf. Daniel 7:8; Daniel 7:11; Daniel 7:24-26).

". . . the little horn arising from the third kingdom serves as a prototype of the little horn of the fourth kingdom. The crisis destined to confront God’s people in the time of the earlier little horn, Antiochus Epiphanes, will bear a strong similarity to the crisis that will befall them in the eschatological or final phase of the fourth kingdom in the last days (as Christ himself foresaw in the Olivet Discourse [Matthew 24:15])." [Note: Archer, "Daniel," p. 99.]

This little horn grew very great to the south, the east, and "the beautiful." The first problem with this description is: What is the reference point for these directions? History has identified this little horn as Antiochus IV (Epiphanes), the eighth king of the Seleucid dynasty. He ruled Syria from 175 to 164 B.C. (cf. 1 Maccabees 1:10; 1 Maccabees 6:16), and he conducted military campaigns in all of these directions (cf. 1 Maccabees 1:20). [Note: Walvoord, Daniel . . ., p. 185.] Therefore, the point of reference must be Syria.

The second problem is the identification of "the beautiful." This is quite evidently a reference to Palestine (cf. Daniel 11:16; Daniel 11:41; Daniel 11:45; Jeremiah 3:19; Ezekiel 20:6; Ezekiel 20:15). Here the vision begins to focus on the future of Israel and the Jews. Antiochus was especially vengeful against the Jews, whom he persecuted brutally.

"He is . . . one of the greatest persecutors Israel has ever known." [Note: Whitcomb, p. 111. Cf. Hebrews 11:35-38.]

"In one assault on Jerusalem, 40,000 Jews were killed in three days and 10,000 more were carried into captivity." [Note: Campbell, p. 95. The ancient sources of information about Antiochus’ persecutions are 1 and 2 Maccabees and Josephus.]

"This suppression came to a head in December 168 B.C., when Antiochus returned in frustration from Alexandria, where he had been turned back by the Roman commander Popilius Laenas, and vented his exasperation on the Jews. He sent his general, Apollonius, with twenty thousand troops under orders to seize Jerusalem on a Sabbath. There he erected an idol of Zeus and desecrated the altar by offering swine on it. This idol became known to the Jews as ’the abomination of desolation’ (hassiqqus mesomem, Daniel 11:31), which served as a type of a future abomination that will be set up in the Jerusalem sanctuary to be built in the last days (cf. Christ’s prediction in Matthew 24:15)." [Note: Archer, "Daniel," p. 98.]

Four years later, on December 25, 164 B.C., Judas Maccabaeus, a Jewish nationalist, led the Jews in rededicating the temple to Yahweh. This is the event that Jews have celebrated with Hanukkah ever since.

Verses 9-14

4. The little horn on the goat 8:9-14

Verse 10

This little horn grew up to the host of heaven, caused some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and trampled on them. The stars probably refer to the children of Israel whom God predicted would be as numerous as the stars of heaven (Genesis 15:5; Genesis 22:17; Genesis 37:9-10; cf. Daniel 12:3; Matthew 13:43; Enoch 46:7). [Note: Walvoord, Daniel . . ., p. 185; Driver, p. 116.] They constitute His armies (cf. Exodus 7:4; Exodus 12:17; Exodus 12:51; Numbers 33:1).

"If the world calls those men and women stars who excel in one or another department of human activity, why should not a similar statement be still more appropriate with reference to God’s people?" [Note: Leupold, p. 346.]

Many scholars regard the stars and the host of heaven as synonymous: "the host even the stars" (cf. Daniel 8:13; Exodus 12:41). [Note: E.g., ibid.; Pentecost, p. 1355; Archer, "Daniel," p. 99.] This is the appositional use of "and," which is quite common. Alternatively the host of heaven may be angels who have some connection with the Jews (the stars). The falling of the host to the earth then would picture Antiochus’ victory over these angels, and his trampling the stars down would signify his persecution of the Jews. However, Daniel 8:12 seems to indicate that the horn really controlled the host, which would be impossible if they were angels.

Verse 11

By desecrating the temple, Antiochus (lit. illustrious one) effectively exalted himself to a position of superiority over Yahweh, the commander (or prince) of the host (the Jews). Pentecost interpreted this verse as indicating that the horn called himself the prince of the host. [Note: Pentecost, p. 1356.] There may be some confirmation of this in history, but I have not been able to find it. Antiochus did take to himself the boastful name "Epiphanes," which means "[divine] manifestation." The Jews changed his name slightly to Epimanes, meaning "madman."

"An attack on the place set aside for worship of God is tantamount to an attack on God Himself." [Note: Baldwin, p. 157.]

Antiochus temporarily terminated the constant sacrifices (Heb. tamid) in the temple, including the daily morning and evening sacrifices, thereby depriving Yahweh of His people’s worship (cf. 1 Maccabees 1:44-49, RSV). [Note: Montgomery, pp. 335-36; Young, p. 172.]

"Apparently Antiochus did not actually tear down the temple, although eventually he desecrated it to such a point that it was hardly fit for use [cf. 1 Maccabees 4:48]." [Note: Ibid.]

"Its overthrowing consists in its being prevented from functioning as a place of worship of the true God." [Note: Goldingay, p. 211.]

Some interpreters believe that this verse also previews another literal fulfillment of the destruction of the temple, which is still future (cf. Daniel 9:27). [Note: E.g., Walvoord, Daniel . . ., pp. 186-88.] Antiochus’ actions anticipated what the Antichrist, the little horn of chapter 7, will do in the future (cf. Daniel 7:8; Daniel 7:20).

Verse 12

God would give control of the host (the Jews) to the little horn (Antiochus) because of transgression. This verse makes identification of the host as the Jews-rather than angels-almost beyond doubt.

This verse may mean that God would use Antiochus as His instrument of discipline-as He had used so many other leaders and nations in Israel’s past-because of Israel’s transgression (cf. 1 Maccabees 1:44-49, RSV). [Note: Archer, "Daniel," pp. 100-101.] Another view is that God would give him control of the sacrifices so he would transgress against God. [Note: Walvoord, Daniel . . ., p. 188; Pentecost, p. 1356.] This second view has in its favor that the transgression in view in Daniel 8:13 is Antiochus’ rather than the Jews’. Antiochus would terminate the sacrifices, disregard the truth (he destroyed the Torah scrolls, 1 Maccabees 1:56), do as he chose, and succeed.

"Attacks on Israel are not the same as attacks on other peoples. Anti-Semitism has an extra dimension." [Note: Goldingay, p. 220.]

Verse 13

The holy ones (Heb. qados) that Daniel heard conversing were evidently angels (cf. Daniel 4:17). Here the transgression in view seems to be that of Antiochus, not the Jews (cf. Daniel 8:12). It causes horror among the Jews because it involves desecration of the sanctuary (Daniel 8:11). The holy place is the temple, and the host is the Jews. The angel wanted to know how long the desecration of the sanctuary and the persecution of the Jews would last.

Verse 14

Another angel replied, but he replied to Daniel. The answer was primarily for his comfort and for the comfort of his people, the Jews. The angel said that the desecration would last 2,300 evenings and mornings. Many commentators take this as meaning 2,300 days (i.e., six years, four months, and 20 days) since the Jews described a 24-hour day as evening and morning (Genesis 1:5-31). [Note: E.g., Walvoord, p. 190; Feinberg, p. 107; Whitcomb, p. 113; Campbell, p. 96; Young, p. 174; Leupold, p. 357; Goldingay, p. 213; and Ironside, p. 152.] Others believe it means a total of 2,300 evenings and mornings (1,150 of each), namely, 1,150 24-hour days (i.e., three years, two months, and 10 days). In this case, "2,300 evenings and mornings" may mean: 2,300 evening and morning sacrifices. This period then may describe the duration of the period when Antiochus did his worst to the temple and the Jews (167-164 B.C.). [Note: Archer, "Daniel," p. 103; Pentecost, p. 1358; Baldwin, p. 158; G. C. Aalders, Daniel, p. 165; Dyer, in The Old . . ., p. 715; and Culver, "Daniel," p. 792.] I think 2,300 days are in view-the former view. The Jews followed a calendar that consisted of 30 days each month. This, of course, results in a year of 360 days, which is five and one quarter days short of a lunar year. They made up the remaining days every few years by inserting another month. [Note: See The New Bible Dictionary, 1962 ed., s.v. "Calendar," by F. F. Bruce.]

Some interpreters view the 2,300 as a symbolic number. The problems with this approach are essentially two. First, the other similar numbers in Daniel appear to be literal. Second, arriving at the symbolic meaning of this number is extremely difficult and boils down to guessing. Other interpreters have tried to explain these days as years, but the connection with evenings and mornings probably limits them to days. [Note: See Keil, pp. 302-308.] Seventh-Day Adventists take the days as years and believe that Jesus did not enter the holiest in heaven until A.D. 1844, 2,300 years after Cyrus issued his decree to rebuild the temple. [Note: See Ironside, pp. 152-53.] Perhaps the figure is in days, rather than in months or years, to give the impression of a long, hard duration.

The temple would be restored after 2,300 days.

"Innumerable explanations have been attempted to make the twenty-three hundred days coincide with the history of Antiochus Epiphanes." [Note: Walvoord, Daniel . . ., p. 189.]

One way to locate the fulfillment is to identify the end of the 2,300 days, and then work back. But did the angel mean that this period would end with the restoration of the holy place, or that the restoration of the holy place would follow sometime after the end of the 2,300 days? The text does not provide the answer, but the first Hanukkah in December of 164 B.C. may be the re-consecration that the angel predicted. Alternatively, the full restoration of all the sacrifices, and the religious independence of the Jews that came a few months later, may be in view. In either case, the year of restoration was probably 164 B.C., or shortly after that.

One literal view is that the 2,300 days ended with Antiochus’ death in November-December of 164 B.C. [Note: Ibid., p. 190; Keil, p. 304; Wood, A Commentary . . ., p. 219.] However, the text seems to identify the 2,300 days specifically with the desecration of the temple and the persecution of the Jews. As far as we know, Antiochus did not take over six years to do those things. Antiochus began his reign in 175 B.C., and in 169 B.C. he first entered the temple. Some who hold this view identify the beginning of this period as Antiochus’ initial entrance into Jerusalem in 170 B.C. Others identify it with the murder of the Jewish high priest Onias III in 171 B.C. However, there was no abridgement of temple service at those early dates. Antiochus looted the temple in 170 B.C., but the abolition of the sacrifices did not begin until 167 B.C. 1 Maccabees 6:8-13 records Antiochus’ comments, just before his death, about failing to destroy the Jews.

Walvoord considered 2,300 "obviously a round number." [Note: Walvoord, Daniel . . ., p. 190.] But other scholars have questioned why this is so obvious.

Regardless of how one solves the 2,300 evenings and mornings problem, there is general agreement among the scholars that Antiochus fulfilled this prophecy. I believe the 2,300 days was a period of persecution during his domination of the Jews, perhaps 167-164 B.C.

"A persecutor of the Jews in Russia asked a Jew what he thought the outcome would be if the wave of persecutions continued. The Jew answered, ’The result will be a feast! Pharaoh tried to destroy the Jews, but the result was the Passover. Haman attempted to destroy the Jews, but the result was the Feast of Purim. Antiochus Epiphanes tried to destroy the Jews, but the result was the Feast of Dedication.’" [Note: Campbell, p. 96.]

Verses 15-16

As in the previous vision (Daniel 7:16), Daniel needed help to understand what he had seen. He saw someone who looked like a man standing before him. Evidently this was an angel. Daniel also heard a voice that he could understand, possibly God’s, instructing the angel by name to give Daniel understanding of the vision. "Gabriel" (lit. "God has shown Himself strong," "strong man of God," or "man of God") is one of only two angels, and the first, that the Bible identifies by name, the other being Michael (cf. Daniel 9:21; Daniel 10:13; Daniel 10:21; Daniel 12:1; Luke 1:19; Luke 1:26). Daniel is the only Old Testament book that identifies angels by name, but see Luke 1:19; Luke 1:26, and Judges 1:9. The use of Gabriel’s proper name probably reflects the importance of this vision and its interpretation.

Verses 15-26

5. The interpretation of this vision 8:15-26

Verses 17-18

Gabriel’s approach made Daniel so fearful that he prostrated himself on the ground (cf. Daniel 2:46; Daniel 10:9-10; Daniel 10:15; Ezekiel 1:28; Ezekiel 3:23; Ezekiel 44:4; Revelation 1:17). The title "son of man" indicates humanity, and here, in contrast to Gabriel, it stressed Daniel’s human weakness (cf. Daniel 7:13; Ezekiel 2:1; et al.).

"It suggests both solemnly and encouragingly the awesomeness and the honor of an ordinary human being hearing this man of God address him . . ." [Note: Goldingay, p. 214.]

Gabriel introduced his interpretation by explaining that it concerned "the time of the end" or the end times (cf. Daniel 8:19). The vision dealt with events yet future from Daniel’s viewpoint in history. "The time of the end" in Daniel is similar to future references to "the Day of the Lord" in the other prophets. It can refer to a more immediate future day, or to an eschatological day, depending on the context. Daniel’s response to Gabriel’s awesome presence and words was that he fainted. [Note: Montgomery, p. 345.] The Hebrew word "denotes a coma-like state of deep sleep brought about by supernatural agency, especially in connection with visionary experiences . . ." [Note: Goldingay, pp. 214-15. Cf. 10:9.] Gabriel proceeded to revive the prophet, and to prepare him to receive the remainder of the interpretation.

Verse 19

Gabriel clarified that what he was going to explain dealt with "the final period of the indignation" and "the appointed time of the end." Clearly this was future from Daniel’s point in history. Yet does it refer to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes exclusively, [Note: Driver, pp. 99, 121; and Young, p. 288.] or does it refer to the end times before Jesus Christ returns, [Note: G. H. Pember, The Great Prophecies of the Centuries Concerning Israel and the Gentiles, pp. 289-90; Clarence Larkin, The Book of Daniel, p. 165; and S. P. Tregelles, Remarks on the Prophetic Visions in the Book of Daniel, pp. 82-83.] or both? Most premillennial interpreters believe that it refers to both in some sense, either as a double fulfillment [Note: Louis T. Talbot, The Prophecies of Daniel, p. 143; William Kelly, Lectures on the Book of Daniel, p. 132; Nathaniel West, Daniel’s Great Prophecy, p. 103; Seiss, p. 221; Pentecost, pp. 1359; idem, Prophecy for Today, pp. 82-83; idem, Things to Come, pp. 332-34; The New Scofield . . ., p. 911; and Campbell, p. 97.] or as a type and antitype. [Note: Walvoord, Daniel . . ., pp. 196-200; and Archer, "Daniel," pp. 104-105.] To me the difference between the double fulfillment view and the type and antitype view is semantic. Both of these views see some fulfillment in Antiochus and some in the Antichrist. The conclusion that the prophecy relates to both times rests on what follows in Daniel 8:23-25 and on other uses of the phrase "the end" in Daniel (Daniel 9:26; Daniel 11:6; Daniel 11:27; Daniel 11:35; Daniel 11:40; Daniel 11:45; Daniel 12:4; Daniel 12:6; Daniel 12:9; Daniel 12:13). Other examples of this double, or typological fulfillment, are Jesus fulfilling what was prophesied of Him-fulfilled to some degree earlier by Moses, the Israelites, and David.

Verses 20-22

Gabriel identified the ram with the two horns as Media and Persia (cf. Daniel 8:3-4), not just Media as many liberal interpreters insist because of their second-century composition hypothesis. The goat, here further described as shaggy, represents Greece (cf. Daniel 8:5-7), not Persia as many liberals contend. The large horn on the goat is the first king of Greece, namely, Alexander the Great. The four kingdoms that arose to replace Alexander when he died were Macedonia and Greece, Thrace and Asia Minor, Egypt and Palestine, and Syria and Persia (cf. Daniel 8:8).

"Most [conservative] expositors agree that Daniel 8:20-22 have been fulfilled completely in history in connection with the Medo-Persian and Greek empires and the four divisions following Alexander the Great. The exegetical problems arise in the passage which follows." [Note: Walvoord, Daniel . . ., p. 197.]

Verses 23-25

Almost all scholars recognize that Antiochus Epiphanes fulfilled what Gabriel predicted in these verses (cf. 1 Maccabees 1:10). [Note: Pentecost, "Daniel," p. 1359.] He arose in the latter period of the Diacochi, the four kingdoms that came into existence after Alexander’s death, following many transgressors of God’s will. Antiochus Epiphanes was bold and deceptive. He was powerful because God allowed him to be so. He did much damage, especially to Jerusalem and the temple. He became prosperous and carried out his objectives. He destroyed powerful people, including the Jewish high priest, as well as many Jews. He fooled many people with his shrewdness, some of whom were unsuspecting. He exalted himself even to the extent of minting coins that bore his image and the inscription "God manifest" (Gr. theos epiphanes). He also opposed God, the "Prince of princes."

Many students of these verses have noticed striking similarities between Antiochus Epiphanes as described here and another political leader predicted to appear in the future (cf. Daniel 7:8; Daniel 7:11; Daniel 7:21-22; Daniel 7:24-26; Daniel 9:27; Daniel 11:36-45; Daniel 12:11; Matthew 24:5; Matthew 24:23-24; Matthew 24:26; Mark 13:6; Mark 13:21-22; Luke 21:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; 1 John 2:18; 1 John 2:22; 1 John 4:3; 2 John 1:7; Revelation 13:1-10; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10). Therefore they, and I, conclude that these verses are prophetic of the Antichrist as well as of Antiochus. Another interpretation is that this is a prophecy of the Antichrist alone, with no reference to Antiochus. Whitcomb argued for the end-time fulfillment being the king of the north (Daniel 11:45) rather than Antichrist. [Note: Whitcomb, pp. 118.] It seems that Antiochus did on a smaller scale what Antichrist will do on a larger one. Apparently in the much later period of the rule of these kings, namely, the end times, transgressors will have run their course even more completely. The Antichrist will oppose the Prince of princes, God the Son, who will break him without human agency (Psalms 2; Revelation 19:19-20).

Verse 26

Another title for this vision is "the vision of the evenings and mornings" (cf. Daniel 8:14). The phrase describes the particular period when this prediction would find fulfillment, perhaps 167-164 B.C. Daniel needed to seal up the vision (NIV) in the sense of recording, finishing, and preserving it, not in the sense of making it secret (NASB, cf. Daniel 7:28; Daniel 12:9). It pertained to many days in the future, namely, four centuries later as well as beyond then. The NIV translation "distant future" unfortunately implies that it pertains only to the distant future from our point in history.

Verse 27

6. The result of this vision 8:27

As we sometimes feel exhausted after a night’s sleep in which we have been very active in a dream, so Daniel felt worn out by what he had seen in his vision. This experience so drained him of energy that he was sick for several days and could not work. Probably the knowledge that severe persecution was in store for "the holy people" (Daniel 8:24) distressed him greatly.

"There is a price to be paid in physical terms for spiritual revelation." [Note: Baldwin, p. 161.]

In spite of Gabriel’s interpretation, there were things that Daniel still did not understand about this vision (cf. 1 Peter 1:10-12). He had to live with unanswered questions since God did not provide further help for him.

The emphasis in this chapter is on the little horn, as the emphasis in chapter 7 was on the little horn, though two different individuals are in view. The little horn in chapter 7 is Antichrist, and the little horn in chapter 8 is Antiochus in the short range and Antichrist in the long range. Chapter 8 focuses on the Jews as the target of Antiochus’ antagonism in the short range. Chapter 7 focuses on believers generally as the target of Antichrist’s opposition. However, there is some hint in both chapters that in the long range the Jews will be the objects of persecution.

"The times of the Gentiles, although not entirely a period of persecution of Israel, often resulted in great trial to them. Of the four great world empires anticipated by Daniel, only the Persian empire was relatively kind to the Jew. As Christ Himself indicated in Luke 21:24, the times of the Gentiles is characterized by the treading down of Jerusalem, and the subjugation and persecution of the people of Israel." [Note: Walvoord, Daniel . . ., pp.199-200.]

The Visions of Daniel 2, 7, , 8
Chapter 2
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
GoldWinged lionNeo-Babylonia
SilverLopsided bearRamMedo-Persia
BronzeWinged leopardGoatGreece
Iron and clay
Unique beastRome
Copyright Statement
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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Daniel 8". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.