By Jay Rogers
Published August 25, 2008
The Book of Daniel in Preterist Perspective
Daniel was of noble birth. He may have been one of the royal family of Judah, but we are not given his genealogy. He was carried captive to Babylon in the fourth year of Jehoiachin, 606 BC, when he was a youth. He was there taught the learning of the Chaldeans, and held high offices, both under the Babylonian and Persian empires. He was persecuted for his religion, but was miraculously delivered; and lived to a great age. He must have been about 90 years old at the time of the last of his visions (Matthew Henry).
Daniel’s nation was taken captive by God’s enemies because they refused to live by God’s Law. The people of Judah continually compromised their nation into a state of spiritual whoredom. The pagan Chaldeans were now using their holy instruments, stolen from the Temple at Jerusalem, in their blasphemous worship. King Nebuchadnezzar sought out the best and brightest of the Hebrew youth Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to convert to humanistic paganism.
In Daniel’s day, there arose a generation of young people called out by God who resisted state-sanctioned evil. They were not seduced into the spiritual mediocrity and compromise which had led the nation of Judah captive. No matter the moral standard dictated by pagan society, Daniel intended to be true to God. The Daniel group refused to join the party. Instead of feasting at the king’s table and joining the social elite, they learned to fast and pray so that deliverance could come to the nation of Israel.
The Daniel group faced the fiery furnace and refused to compromise. They looked to God to be their deliverer. They would not bow down and worship the false gods of Nebuchadnezzar even if it cost them their lives. Jesus Christ himself appeared as the fourth man in the fire and supernaturally delivered them. In spite of the King’s attempts to kill Daniel’s friends, their testimony could not be destroyed. Instead the King’s own men were destroyed by that same fire. In spite of the King’s attempts to kill Daniel and his friends, they kept telling the truth no matter what the cost.
In the next generation, Daniel continued to prophesy and speak the truth to the King’s son who later became king. He did not waver from his declaration or apologize for the judgment which had fallen on the king’s father. The king’s men, jealous of Daniel’s longevity and favor, set a trap for him. They knew that wherever God’s Law and man’s law conflicted, Daniel would choose God’s Law. So they issued an injunction that forced Daniel to either violate the king’s law or God’s primary Law. When Daniel obeyed God rather than man, he was cast into the lion’s den. Daniel escaped the penalty only because of God’s sovereign intervention.
Daniel took on the role of intercessor although he was not personally guilty of Israel’s sins. He assumed the role of spiritual responsibility and birthed Revival for the nation of Israel. Daniel understood that Israel transgressed the Law and that God would not be mocked.
The book of Daniel is partly historical, relating various circumstances which befell himself and the Jews in captivity in Babylon; but is mainly prophetic, detailing visions and prophecies which foretell important events relative to the four great empires of the world, the restoration of the Jews, further Judean conflicts, the coming and death of the Messiah, and the conversion of the Gentiles.
Many Bible interpreters, especially modern dispensationalists, have sought to apply a futurist interpretation placing at least some of the events described in chapters 2, 7-12 as yet to take place. Others have taken a historicist interpretive approach consigning these events to the Middle Ages, as did many of the Reformers, the Puritans, Matthew Henry and Jonathan Edwards.
Yet the historicist and futurist hermeneutic approaches create difficulties in interpretation. The best possible explanation of Daniel is preterist interpretation. The events described in Daniel were fulfilled at or before the time of Christ. This position creates the least amount of problems from an interpretive standpoint. Only a fair knowledge of ancient history is needed to do this. Nevertheless, there are few commentaries on the bookshelves today fully describing the preterist point of view.
From our perspective today, an understanding of Daniel is paramount to understanding the Mount of Olives Discourse in Matthew 24, Luke 20 and Mark 13. In two of these passages, Jesus refers to the “abomination of desolation refereed to in the prophecy of Daniel.” In Mark 13:14, the author inserts the aside: (“let the reader understand”).
“Understand what exactly?“ one might ask.
Obviously, from the context, we must understand this passage of Daniel. And unless we have the correct interpretation of Daniel, we will not be able to understand the Mount of Olives Discourse.
Therefore, a historical approach to Daniel is necessary for understanding the purpose of the book. This was a prophecy given so that the restored Jews would know the times and events surrounding the coming of the Messiah. That is the main purpose of Daniel chapters 2, 7-12.
I will first present a preterist interpretation of Daniel and will conclude with with a series of notes explaining its application to interpreting similar biblical passages, finally showing the flaws in the historical and futurist approaches to Daniel and Matthew 24.
This is not meant to be a complete commentary on the entire book of Daniel or even an exhaustive treatment of the passages quoted here. I am here merely interpreting the language and symbols of the predictive passages by applying them to known historical events.
The Preterist View of Daniel
In this commentary, I’ve tried to show that the prophecy of Daniel has been literally fulfilled in history. Hopefully, the reader will find this argument interesting and persuasive.
I started taking notes on the preterist view of Daniel in 1997. I picked it up intermittently and finally finished it in the summer of 2004 after posting it to a discussion group on the Internet. I received many objections from a historicist commentator, Dr. Francis Nigel Lee, who forced me to go back and re-examine each verse of the prophecy.
At that time, I also came across John Calvin’s Commentary on the Book of Daniel and I was fascinated and delighted to find that he applied many of the same interpretations to the book as I had concluded. I corrected a few of my own comments after I determined that Calvin’s were superior. Obviously Calvin was a preterist with respect to Daniel. According to a preface by Calvin’s translators:
Our readers will remember, that as an expositor of prophecy, Calvin is a Praeterist, and that his general system of interpretation is as remote from the year-day theory of Birks, Faber, and others, as from the futurist speculations of Maitland, Tyso, and Todd. Notwithstanding the disagreement between these Lectures and the writings of Birks, we strongly recommend their perusal by every student who would become thoroughly proficient in the prophecies of Daniel. The first step towards progress, is to surrender all our preconceived notions, and to prepare for the possibility of their vanishing away before the force of sanctified reason and all-pervading truth.
After understanding the concurring argument in John Calvin’s commentary in favor of the preterist interpretation of Daniel, I decided to publish these articles on this web site. I regard my study of Daniel to be incomplete. There is still much more work to do. In The Days of These Kings is a study that remains unfinished, but not abandoned. I post this at this time because there is little available for study on the preterist view of Daniel.
The Five Visions of Daniel (Dan. 2, 7, 8, 9, 10-12)
The prophecy of Daniel is a series of five visions occurring over a time period of about 70 years. The visions move from general to specific. The purpose is to point to several key events in the future history of the Jews: the desecration of the Temple by Antiochus and its restoration from BC 167 to 160; the time of the coming of the Messiah in AD 27; Nero’s persecution from AD 63 to AD 67; and the siege of Jerusalem from AD 67 to AD 70.
The first vision is a dream of the king that is interpreted by Daniel. The second is Daniel’s dream. The next three visions are waking visions with angels and an epiphanous appearance of Christ to interpret the dream for Daniel.
Below are the years in which the visions occurred with their interpretations explained in terms of time-lines. All dates are approximate.
FIRST VISION — Daniel 2 — BC 603 in the second year of the reign of King Nebuchannezzar of Babylon.
The king’s dream is interpreted by Daniel. The four kingdoms are described.
Chaldean Empire ……………. from BC 605 to 539
Medio-Persian Empire ………. from BC 539 to 336
Macedonia Greece …………… from BC 336 to 133
Roman Empire ……………….. from BC 133 to AD 70
SECOND VISION — Daniel 7 — BC 555 in the first year of the reign of Belshazzar the son of Nabonidus and successor of Nebuchadnezzar.
This is Daniel’s dream. The interpretation by angels is part of the dream. The four kingdoms are described in more detail and special attention is given by Daniel to the fourth kingdom which has 10 kings.
Chaldean Empire ……………. from BC 605 to 539
Medio-Persian Empire ………. from BC 539 to 336
Macedonia Greece …………… from BC 336 to 133
Roman Empire ……………….. from BC 133 to AD 70
THIRD VISION — Daniel 8 — BC 553 in the third year of the reign of Belshazzar.
This is a vision of Daniel. The vision is interpreted by two angels. It describes the Medio-Persian Empire; the conquest of the world by Alexander; the Seleucid and Ptolomic succession; and the reign of Antiochus Epiphanies King of Syria.
Medio-Persian Empire …….. from BC 539 to 336
Alexander’s invasions …….. from BC 336 to 323
Ptolomies rule Egypt &
Seleucids rule Syria ……….. from BC 323 to 167
Antiochus Epiphanes ……… from BC 167 to 160
FOURTH VISION — Daniel 9 — BC 538 in the first year of Darius, king of the Medes.
Gabriel appears to Daniel while he was fasting over the meaning of Jeremiah’s “70 years” and later the Messiah the “Son of Man” appears. The vision describes the 483 year time period from the 20th year of King Artaxerxes, in 457 BC, when by his commandment Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2) to the baptism of Jesus Christ, in AD 27, when he first began to preach and execute the office of the Messiah.
Medio-Persian Empire …… from …… BC 457
Roman Empire ……………. to …….. AD 27
………………………………………. 483 years
FIFTH VISION — Daniel 10,11,12 — BC 534 in the third year of Cyrus king of Persia.
In chapter 10, an angel came to Daniel while he was fasting for three weeks. The angel shows Daniel the wars and succession of kings in the Persian, Greek and Roman empires (Daniel 11) and the time period from the coming of Messiah to the reign of Vespasian and the great tribulation from 67 to 70 AD.
Medio-Persian Empire …….. from BC 534 to 336
Macedonia Greece ………… from BC 336 to 133
Roman Empire …………….. from BC 100 to AD 70
Pompey invades Jerusalem ………. BC 63
Death of Julius Caesar …………… BC 44
The Messiah appears ……….. from AD 27 to 30
The Great Tribulation ………. from AD 67 to 70
The prophecy of Daniel was purposed to give God’s people comfort in the time of three great events in their history:
1. The captivity in Babylon
2. The invasion of Jerusalem by Antiochus Epiphanes
3. The coming of the Messiah during the occupation by the Roman Empire and the resulting destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.
According to Daniel 2:1, this vision occurs “in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar” (BC 603). In this chapter, Daniel interprets a dream for King Nebuchadnezzar. It’s important to note that Daniel had apparently had the same dream or vision, because he first tells the king the contents of the dream.
31. Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible.
32. This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass,
33. His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
34. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.
35. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
Daniel then interprets the dream.
36. This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.
37. Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
38. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.
39. And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.
Another kingdom inferior to thee — This refers to the Medes and the Persians.
Another third kingdom of brass — This refers to the conquest of the world by Alexander the Great.
40. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
The fourth kingdom — The successors of Alexander, the kings of Syria and Egypt, arose after Alexander’s untimely death. This includes the entire Greco-Roman period including the Roman Empire. Up until the time of the birth of Christ, the Roman Empire was plagued by numerous civil wars. Scholars disagree here. The fourth kingdom includes the entire time from Alexander until the rule of the ten kings, the Roman Emperors, who brought Pax Romana (“Roman peace”) to the Empire.
41. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.
42. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.
43. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
Iron mixed with miry clay — This refers to the military might of the Roman Empire which brought a forced union of all the nations of the world including the nations of Judea and Samaria.
The seed of men — The Jews at the time of the Roman Empire who were mixed with the iron military might of the Empire, but did not come fully under the dominion of Caesar.
44 . And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
And in the days of these kings — Simply put, in the days of the Roman Empire. At that time, the kingdom of God will be brought to earth by Jesus Christ shall never be destroyed but it shall war against the kingdoms of this world and they shall become part of the kingdom of God and of His Christ (Rev 11:15) .
The question answered by this verse is when God will set up a kingdom on earth. He will set up His kingdom “in the days of these kings.” Luke begins his Gospel with an account of Jesus birth: “And it came to pass that in those days … [of] Caesar Augustus” (Lk 2:1). The beginning of Christ’s ministry began “in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar” (Lk 3:1). When will Christ and the kingdom of God come on earth? “In the days of these kings.”
45. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
A stone made without hands — This does not refer to Jesus the Messiah himself as many futurists have imagined. But it is stated plainly that the stone is the kingdom of God. This kingdom appeared in the days of the Roman Empire at the coming of Christ.
Daniel was rewarded for correctly telling the dream and giving the interpretation. Like Joseph in captivity in Egypt, Daniel was rewarded. The king made Daniel the ruler over Babylon. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego became rulers over the provinces of Babylon.
1. In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters.
In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon — In BC 555, another king arose in Babylon and Daniel now has greater authority. In this chapter, it is Daniel himself who relates a vision and its interpretation. In chapter two, Daniel is interpreting the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, but here he makes it clear that it is his dream. In chapter seven, he writes only what he saw, and does not provide an interpretation. However, it is certain that the interpretation is the same as the history of the four great kingdoms related in chapter two.
2. Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.
3. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
4 . The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.
5. And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.
6. After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.
7. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.
Four great beasts — These again are the four great kingdoms, the Chaldean, Medio-Persian, Greek and Roman Empires. This is the same vision as in chapter two, but with different symbolism. While some choose to understand the fourth beast as the successors of Alexander, especially the kings who ruled in Asia and Syria, the thrust of the whole prophecy of Daniel indicates that it is the Roman Empire at the time of the coming of Christ.
Ten horns — These are the ten kings also mentioned in Revelation 17:12. These ten kings are the ten Emperors of the Roman Empire to AD 70. The Roman Emperors were greater than all the other world rulers before them. Including Julius Caesar, there are ten Emperors until the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. They are Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Gaius, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian. The reign of these kings parallel the period of the ministry of the Messiah and of the Apostles.
8. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
Another little horn — Some have applied this to the Syrian ruler Antiochus Epiphanes during the time after Alexander. Antiochus’ desecration of the Temple in 167 BC is prophesied in Daniel 8:9. But keeping with the consistent application of this passage to the Roman Empire, I must conclude that this speaks of Nero Caesar. He is the little horn “among them” the sixth of the ten Emperors. Thus he is “another little horn.”
Three of the first horns plucked up by the roots — Three Emperors, Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius were assassinated to make way for Nero, who was not in the line of succession.
9. I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.
10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.
The Ancient of days — This passage speaks of God the Father. This is one of the Old Testament passages in which we see the three persons Trinity. Some interpret the “fiery stream” a symbolizing the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
11 I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.
The beast was slain — This speaks of the destruction of the Roman Empire and especially of Nero who committed suicide by slaying himself with a military sword used to kill many people.
12. As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.
As concerning the rest of the beasts — After Nero, there were other power of the Roman Emperors was greatly diminished.
13. I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
The Son of Man — This speaks of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who is fully God and fully man. In the Gospels, Jesus identities himself as the “Son of man” in order to identify himself as the Messiah.
14 . And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
Dominion, and glory, and a kingdom — Christ was given the keys of the kingdom by God the Father when he sat down at the right hand of God after His resurrection and ascension. This kingdom is not a future kingdom. It began in the days of the Roman Empire. It overcame Rome and will overcome all the kingdoms of this world. It will last forever.
15. I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.
16. I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.
17. These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.
18. But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.
The saints of the most High shall take the kingdom — Here is a dominion mandate given not only to Christ, but to the saints. We are to possess the whole kingdom the whole world for the dominion of Jesus Christ. This commission was given at the time of Christ.
19. Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet;
20. And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.
Before whom three fell — Nero was born one year after the death of Caesar Augustus. During the life-time of Nero three Caesars who lived after he was born were assassinated in order to make way for him. These were Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius.
21. I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;
The same horn made war with the saints — Nero began a persecution of the saints which began in AD 63 and lasted until his death.
22. Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.
23. Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.
24. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.
Another shall rise after them — Nero was not in the direct line of succession, but three Emperors were assassinated to make way for him.
25. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
Until a time and times and the dividing of time — Literally, “time, times, half a time.” If we understand a time to mean a year, then it is three and a half years. Nero’s persecution of the church lasted exactly 42 months or three and a half years.
26. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.
27. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
28. Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.
An everlasting kingdom — The purpose of this passage, and the entire prophecy of Daniel, is to give the Jews a correct understanding of the time when the Messiah would come and to declare when the kingdom of heaven would come on earth. When Jesus declared that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, he alluded to Daniel stating that He was the Messiah, the Son of man spoken of by Daniel.
1. In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel, after that which appeared unto me at the first.
In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar — About BC 553.
A vision appeared unto me — This is the third vision of the book of Daniel. The prophet makes it clear that this is his vision, not an interpreted dream of a king as in chapter two. It is two years after the vision of chapter seven, which came to Daniel in a dream. Unlike the first two visions, it does not come as a dream, but as a waking vision. Unlike the first visions, an angel appears and gives Daniel an interpretation..
2. And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai.
3. Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last.
A ram which had two horns — The Empire of the Medes and the Persians. The Medes conquered and destroyed Babylon, but the Persians ruled over the kingdom in the end.
4 I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great.
5 And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.
A he-goat — The Empire of Greece and Macedonia
He touched not the ground — A metaphorical expression meaning that he conquered all before him with so much rapidity that he seemed to fly rather than run or walk.
A notable horn — Alexander the Great
6 And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power.
7 And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand.
He smote the ram and broke its two horns — Alexander conquered all the lands of the Medes and Persians and as far east as India.
8 Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.
The great horn was broken — Alexander died an untimely death at a young age shortly after conquering much of the known world.
Four notable ones — Seleucus, Antigonus, Philip and Ptolemy, the successors of Alexander, who divided his empire among them.
9 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 pleasant land.
A little horn — This refers to Antiochus Epiphanes.
Toward the South — In the year 170 BC, Antiochus conquered Egypt and plundered Palestine. (See 1 Maccabees 1:16-19.)
Toward the East — Toward Persia and the countries of the East, which he invaded and made subject to him. (See 1 Maccabees 3:28-37.)
Toward the pleasant land — Antiochus vanquished the city of Jerusalem in 167 BC.
10 And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them.
It cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground — Antiochus removed the sacred furniture from the Temple and “went back to his own country, having shed blood and uttered words of extreme arrogance” (1 Maccabees 1:21-24 NJB).
11 Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of the sanctuary was cast down.
12 And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered.
By him the daily sacrifice was taken away — Two years later, on the 15th day of the month Chislev in 165 BC. Antiochus defiled the Temple at Jerusalem by slaughtering a pig in the Holy Place.
13 Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?
How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice — In effect, the angels ask, “How long will the sacrifices cease? How long will God’s vengeance against the wickedness of His people last?”
14 And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.
Two thousand and three hundred days — This is the time period, roughly six years and three and a half months, in which Antiochus occupies the city of Jerusalem. The Jews were oppressed for six years under the tyranny of Antiochus. For the last three years of the occupation, the sacrifices ceased to be offered. The purifying of the temple was not at the end of the sixth year, but not until the ninth month of the Jewish ecclesiastical year, Chislev, which is also the third month of the Jewish civil year .
According to the testimony of 1 Maccabees 4:52: “Now on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month (which is called Chislev), in the hundred and forty-eighth year they rose up betimes in the morning. And offered a sacrifice according to law upon the new altar of burnt offerings which they had made.”
Josephus writes that the temple was desecrated for three years. He testifies that this was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Daniel, “Indeed it so came to pass that our nation suffered these things under Antiochus Epiphanes, according to Daniel’s vision and what he wrote years before they came to pass.”
15 And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man.
16 And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.
The appearance of a man — An appearance of Jesus Christ. Apparently, Jesus Christ, the same person as “the Son of Man” (Dan. 7:13) appears to Daniel in order to give him the interpretation of this vision.
17 So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision.
18 Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright.
19 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.
At the time appointed the end shall be — Christ tells Daniel that He will show him the time when the vision will be fulfilled.
20 The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.
The kings of Media and Persia — The kingdom of Medio-Persia.
21 And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.
The king of Grecia — The Greco-Macedonian Empire.
The great horn — This is Alexander the Great.
22 Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.
23 And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.
A king of fierce countenance — This is Antiochus Epiphanes. 1 Maccabees 1:1-62 chronicles Alexander’s conquest of the known world; the division of his Empire upon his death bed among his noblemen; the coming of a wicked offshoot, Antiochus Epiphanes, who defiled the Temple in 167 BC by setting up an idolatrous altar on the Jewish altar of burnt offering.
24 And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.
25 And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.
He shall also stand up against the Prince of princes — In defiling the Temple, Antiochus made war not just against the Jews, but against God himself. Christ is called the “King of Kings” in Rev. 17:14;19:16.
He shall be broken without hand — Although the Syrians were eventually overthrown by the Romans, the angel reveals that the destruction of Antiochus will be by the hand of God. Antiochus did not die in battle. According to 1 Maccabees, Antiochus died in a fit of melancholy after having repented of his mistreament of Jerusalem and the Jews. “This, I am convinced, is why these misfortunes have overtaken me, and why I am dying of melancholy in a foreign land” (1 Maccabees 6:13 NJB).
26 And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days.
27 And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king’s business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.
Shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days — Although Daniel lived to see the reign of Darius the Mede, the reigns of Alexander and Antiochus would not occur for over 350 years in the future.
None understood it Although the angel explained the vision concerning Media, Persia and Greece, none understood the identity the little horn because the vision was not yet fulfilled. This part of the vision is often misunderstood. John Calvin, in his Commentary on Daniel, writes that some see in the little horn “the figure of Antichrist. But I do not think this reasoning sufficiently sound.”
This now is the fourth vision of Daniel. According to Daniel 9:1, the vision occurs “in the first year of Darius” the Mede (BC 538). Daniel was ardently praying for the Jews in captivity when the angel appeared to him and gave him further revelation of things to come in the history of the Jews up to the time of the coming of the Messiah.
Note that these revelations progress from the king’s dream interpreted, to Daniel’s dream, to Daniel’s open vision, and now to the angel Gabriel, whom Daniel had seen in the first dream, now appearing to him by sight and even touching him physically.
20 And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God;
21 Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.
22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.
23 At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.
24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
Seventy weeks of years, i.e., 490 years, are determined until the time of the coming of the Messiah, the Christ. The Hebrew word for week is the same as the word for “seven.”
25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times .
From the going forth of the commandment — From the 20th year of King Artaxerxes, in BC 457, when by his commandment Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2).
Seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks — From the time of 457 BC, according to the best chronology, there were just 69 weeks of years (483 years) to the baptism of Jesus Christ, in AD 27, when he first began to preach and execute the office of the Messiah.
Seven weeks precede the sixty-two weeks. John Calvin writes:
This is evident from the history of the Maccabees, as well as from the testimony of the evangelist John; and we may collect the same conclusion from the prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah, as the building of the Temple was interrupted during forty-six years. Cyrus permitted the people to build the Temple; the foundations were laid when Cyrus went out to the war in Scythia; the Jews were then compelled to cease their labors, and his successor Cambyses was hostile to this people. Hence the Jews say, (John 2:20,) Forty-six years was this Temple in building, and wilt thou build it in three days? They strive to deride Christ because he had said, Destroy this Temple, and I will rebuild it in future days, as it was then a common expression, and had been handed down by their fathers, that the Temple had occupied this period in its construction. If you add the three years during which the foundations were laid, we shall then have forty-nine years, or seven weeks.
Even in troublous times — This refers to the difficulties and obstacles Nehemiah met in building, and to the shortness of time in which they finished the wall, i.e., fifty-two days.
26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
And after threescore and two weeks — Sixty-two weeks. Verse 26 does not include the “seven weeks” of verse 25, but “seven weeks” (during which time the Temple was rebuilt) must precede the “62 weeks” to equal the same “69 weeks” of verse 25.
Shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself — Christ was not cut off himself, except as an offering to the Jews who rejected him. After 40 years (Matt. 24:34) of offering the Gospel to the Jews, their nation was “cut off” from God together with the Temple offerings.
And the people of the prince — The Roman legions under their general, Titus, the son of the Emperor Vespasian.
The war desolations — Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in AD 70.
27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
In the midst of the week, or, in the middle of the week. Christ preached for three-and-a-half years and then by His sacrifice on the cross abolished all the sacrifices of the law.
The overspreading of abominations — This refers to the “abomination of desolation” the bringing of ensigns and standards of the pagan Romans in to the Temple. Antiochus Epiphanes of the Assyrians profaned the Temple restored in the time of Ezra. Titus, Roman destructor of Herod’s Temple, profaned the Temple in AD 70. This was the direct cause of the profanation of the Temple by Jews who rejected the Messiah.
This is now the fifth and last vision of Daniel which begins in Daniel 10 and concludes in chapter 12. Daniel is given a list of kings who will drive world history until the time of the Messiah. Futurists will often apply an interpretation to these chapters that puts all of these rulers in the future. However, a preterist approach is a great testimony to the power of Scripture as God’s Word. These prophecies amazingly have been fulfilled to the minutest detail. Here we have an accurate outline of history prophesied before any of the events took place, which point to the exact time of the coming of the Messiah. So that believing Jews would not miss the Messiah, the major world rulers of Medio-Persia, Greece and Rome, leading up to the time of Christ, are depicted.
In Daniel 10, an angel appears to the prophet Daniel and gives an interpretation of a vision. The vision takes place in about BC 535 “in the third year of Cyrus king of Persia” (Dan. 10:1). Cyrus I reigned from BC 550 to 529. He overthrew the city of Babylon during a scene of wild revelry in the court of Belshazaar, Cyrus captured the city of Jerusalem in BC 538.
Note that in the description of the vision in verses 1-12, the angel appears physically to Daniel and touches him lifting him up. Then the angel commands Daniel to stand on his feet.
1 In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision.
2 In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks.
3 I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.
4 And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel;
5 Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz:
A certain man clothed in linen — This is now not Gabriel, but a “man” who closely resembles the description of Jesus Christ that the Apostle John describes in Revelation 1:13: “And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, “clothed with a garment down to the foot …”
Whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz — Revelation 1:13 has Jesus … “girt about the paps with a golden girdle.”
6 His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.
His face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire — “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire” (Revelation 1:14).
His arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass — “And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace …” (Revelation 1:15)
The voice of his words like the voice of a multitude — “… and his voice as the sound of many waters” (Revelation 1:15).
Matthew Henry writes:
There he looked up, and saw one man Christ Jesus. It must be he, for he appears in the same resemblance wherein he appeared to St. John in the isle of Patmos, Rev. 1:13-15 . His dress was priestly, for he is the high priest of our profession, clothed in linen, as the high priest himself was on the day of atonement, that great day; his loins were girded (in St. John’s vision his paps were girded) with a golden girdle of the finest gold, that of Uphaz, for every thing about Christ is the best in its kind. The girding of the loins denotes his ready and diligent application to his work, as his Father’s servant, in the business of our redemption. His shape was amiable, his body like the beryl, a precious stone of a sky-colour. His countenance was awful, and enough to strike a terror on the beholders, for his face was as the appearance of lightning, which dazzles the eyes, both brightens and threatens. His eyes were bright and sparkling, as lamps of fire. His arms and feet shone like polished brass, v.6. His voice was loud, and strong, and very piercing, like the voice of a multitude.
The significance of the similarity to the vision in Daniel 11 to John’s vision seen in Revelation 1 must not be missed. This last vision of Daniel is a detailed description of events leading up to the time of Christ. The book of Revelation must then be understood as the “capstone” to this vision — that occurs at the very time when the prophecy of Daniel is unsealed and this vision is fulfilled.
7 And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves.
8 Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.
9 Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground.
10 And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands.
11 And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling.
12 Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.
13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.
The prince of the kingdom of Persia — This refers to the king of Persia or to an angelic being, the guardian of Persia. He sought the spiritual good of the Persians, and therefore desired that many of the Jews should remain among them.
14 Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.
The latter days — This does not speak of the “last days” in an eschatological sense, but the time in which the prophecy will be fulfilled.
15 And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb.
16 And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength.
17 For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me.
18 Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me,
19 And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me.
20 Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come.
I return to fight with the prince of Persia — God himself fights for the people of Israel to force the Persian king to release the Jews, so that the Temple at Jerusalem will be rebuilt and finally the Messiah will come.
The prince of Grecia shall come — This speaks of the time of the Medio-Persian Empire which will last until the time of the prince of Greece, that is, Alexander’s conquest of the world, which foreshadows further trouble for the Jews under Alexander’s successors.
21 But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.
Michael your prince — Michael is the angel who is the guardian general of the Church. Sometimes in scripture, he is depicted as the archangel, or as “the angel of the Lord,” an appearance in type of the Messiah.
Chapter eleven is a continuation of the vision of chapter ten. The Lord God himself shows Daniel the wars and succession of kings in the Persian and Grecian empires. The kings of Egypt and Syria are noted. Judea was between their dominions, and affected by their wars. The year 535 marks the 70th year of the Jews captivity in Babylon. By this time the Jews had already retruned to their own country and began to prepare to rebuild the Temple as Cyrus had given them permission to do.
1 Also I in the first year of Darius the Mede, even I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him.
In the first year of Darius the Mede — When Babylon was subdued by the Medes and Persians, the empire was transferred to Darius. The two kings, Cyrus and Darius, began to rule simultaneously. Cyrus ruled for three years, but Darius ruled for just one year. Although the vision occurs in the third year of the reign of Cyrus the Persian, (BC 535) Daniel is here being told about events three years earlier during the reign of Darius the Mede.
2 And now will I shew thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia.
Three kings — Cambyses the son of Cyrus, Smerdes Magus, and Darius the son of Hystaspes
The fourth — Xerxes
3 And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.
4 And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those.
A mighty king shall stand up — Alexander the Great, whose rule was shortened as soon as he conquered the world. His kingdom was divided among Seleucus, Antigonus, Philip and Ptolemy.
5 And the king of the south shall be strong, and one of his princes; and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion; his dominion shall be a great dominion.
The king of the south — Ptolemy the son of Lagus, king of Egypt, which lies south of Jerusalem.
One of his princes — One of Alexander’s princes, Seleucus. A former general of Alexander the Great, Seleucus seized control of the Asian segment of the empire following Alexander’s death and founded the Seleucid dynasty, which ruled from 312 to 64 BC.
Shall be strong above him — Shall be stronger than the king of Egypt. The angel speaks of Seleucus Nicator, king of Asia Minor and Syria, whose successors are here called the kings of the north, because their dominions lay to the north of Jerusalem.
6 And in the end of years they shall join themselves together; for the king’s daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement: but she shall not retain the power of the arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm: but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her, and he that strengthened her in these times.
The king’s daughter of the south — Bernice, daughter of Ptolemy Philadelphus, married to Antiochus Theos, grandson of Seleucus.
7 But out of a branch of her roots shall one stand up in his estate, which shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north, and shall deal against them, and shall prevail:
A branch of her roots — Ptolemy Evergetes, the son of Philadelphus.
8 And shall also carry captives into Egypt their gods, with their princes, and with their precious vessels of silver and of gold; and he shall continue more years than the king of the north.
The king of the north — Seleucus Callinicus, King of Syria (246-225 BC).
9 So the king of the south shall come into his kingdom, and shall return into his own land.
10 But his sons shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces: and one shall certainly come, and overflow, and pass through: then shall he return, and be stirred up, even to his fortress.
His sons — Seleucus Ceraunius and Antiochus the Great, the sons of Callinicus.
One shall certainly come — Antiochus the Great.
11 And the king of the south shall be moved with choler, and shall come forth and fight with him, even with the king of the north: and he shall set forth a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into his hand.
The king of the south — Ptolemy Philopater, son of Evergetes
12 And when he hath taken away the multitude, his heart shall be lifted up; and he shall cast down many ten thousands: but he shall not be strengthened by it.
13 For the king of the north shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come after certain years with a great army and with much riches.
14 And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south: also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fall.
15 So the king of the north shall come, and cast up a mount, and take the most fenced cities: and the arms of the south shall not withstand, neither his chosen people, neither shall there be any strength to withstand.
16 But he that cometh against him shall do according to his own will, and none shall stand before him: and he shall stand in the glorious land, which by his hand shall be consumed.
He that cometh against him — Antiochus the Great fought against the king of the south, Ptolemy.
The glorious land — Judea
17 He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, and upright ones with him; thus shall he do: and he shall give him the daughter of women, corrupting her: but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him.
His whole kingdom — All the kingdom of Ptolemy Epiphanes, son of Philopater.
The daughter of women — His daughter, Cleopatra, who was given to Antiochus by Ptolemy in order to influence him, but this plot did not succeed because Cleopatra took more to heart the interests of her husband than of her father.
18 After this shall he turn his face unto the isles, and shall take many: but a prince for his own behalf shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease; without his own reproach he shall cause it to turn upon him.
A prince — Scipio Asiaticus, the Roman general.
Shall cause the reproach — Scipio is here called a prince who shall cause the reproach because he overthrew Antiochus and made him submit to very dishonorable terms before he would end the war.
19 Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land: but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.
He shall stumble and fall — Then Scipio turned to make war against the Romans, but was defeated by Scipio Africanus; after which he returned to his own land, and was slain by his people, who were aroused to fury by the burdensome taxes exacted by him to defray the expenses of his unsuccessful war and the tribute laid upon him by the Romans.
20 Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom: but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle.
A raiser of taxes — Seleucus Philopater, who sent Heliodorus to plunder the Temple at Jerusalem, and was shortly thereafter slain by Heliodorus.
21 And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.
A vile person — Antiochus Epiphanes, the son of Antiochus the Great, dethrones Heliodorus without bloodshed. However, Antiochus was at first not received as king.
22 And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant.
The prince of the covenant — The king of Egypt, Ptolemy Philometer, the most powerful adversary of Anitiochus, formed a league and conspired to fight against him.
23 And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people.
24 He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers’ fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches: yea, and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, even for a time.
25 And he shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the south with a great army; and the king of the south shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand: for they shall forecast devices against him.
The king of the south — Ptolemy Philometer, the king of Egypt. Daniel 11:25 foretells this ruler’s military expedition against Egypt. 2 Maccabees 5 gives a full account of this campaign which occurred in 170 BC.
26 Yea, they that feed of the portion of his meat shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow: and many shall fall down slain.
27 And both of these kings’ hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end shall be at the time appointed.
28 Then shall he return into his land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land.
29 At the time appointed he shall return, and come toward the south; but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter.
30 For the ships of Chittim shall come against him: therefore he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.
The ships of Chittim — At this time, “Chittim” denoted all the islands and coasts of the Mediterranean west of Palestine. The ships of Chittim are the ships of the Romans. Popilius and other Roman ambassadors came in galleys and made Antiochus depart from Egypt.
31 And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.
The sanctuary of strength — The Temple at Jerusalem.
They shall place the abomination that maketh desolate — Antiochus ordered the idol of Jupiter Olympus to be set up and slaughtered a pig in the sanctuary of the Temple.
The remainder of this prophecy is difficult, and commentators differ greatly in their interpretations. Futurists interpret these verses to apply to a future antichrist. However, in the context of history, it must pertain to Antiochus Epiphanes, the cruel and violent persecutor of the Jews, the Maccabean revolt, and the time when Judea became subjugated to Syria and then the Romans.
32 And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.
The people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits — This refers to the revolt of the Judean people against Antiochus Epiphanes led by Judas Maccabeus.
33 And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.
Yet they shall fall by the sword — Judea is finally overcome by the Syrians until the time of Julius Caesar.
34 Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries.
35 And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.
36 And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.
The king — This speaks of the line of Caesars and especially the conquest of Julius and his adopted son Augustus who proclaimed themselves to be gods. After a series of civil wars, Augustus Caesar assumed the role of Emperor and was considered “The Son of God and the Savior of the World” according to Roman inscriptions. In Acts 4:12, Peter refers to the folly of this statement: “For there is none other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
37 Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.
38 But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.
The God of forces — Literally, the god “Maozim.” The Roman emperors claimed divinity for themselves. It was by “forces” that they extended and maintained their power, and enforced the worship they demanded. In the following verses, some see a reference to Herod, others to Julius or Augustus Caesar. In any case, the time of the Roman Empire is the subject of the rest of the vision.
39 Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.
40 And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.
41 He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.
At the time of the end — This is not “the end” in an eschaotlogical sense, but the end of the time period prophesied by Daniel, the time of the Roman Caesars, “in the days of these kings” (Daniel 2:44).
Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon — Julius Caesar extended the Roman Empire extended as far east as Arabia to the lands of Edom, Moab, and Ammon.
42 He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape.
43 But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.
He shall have power … over all the precious things of Egypt — Julius Caesar took his army to Egypt, where he defeated Pharnaces II, saying “Veni, vidi, vici.”
The Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps — Julius Caesar conquered all of Egypt and extended the Roman Empire as far south as Ethiopia and throughout the northern coastline of Libya and northern Africa.
44 But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.
45 And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.
Tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him — Even while Julius was conquering the southern part of the Empire, a rebellion had broken out at Rome.
Yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him — Julius was assassinated in Rome by those closest to him. This brings us to the rule of Augustus Caesar who was the Roman Emperor at the birth of Jesus the Messiah (Luke 2:1).
1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
There shall be a time of trouble — Refers to the great tribulation, the seige of Jerusalem from AD 67 to 70.
Such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time — Jesus refers to Daniel 12:1 in Matthew 24:21, “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor shall ever be.”
At that time thy people shall be delivered — The first century Christians did not go through the great tribulation. In Luke 21:20-22, Jesus warns his disciples to flee Jerusalem, “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all the things which are written be fulfilled.”
Eusebius writes in Ecclesiastial History III:5:
But the people of the church in Jerusalem had been commanded by a revelation, vouchsafed to approved men there before the war, to leave the city and to dwell in a certain town of Perea called Pella. And when those that believed in Christ had come thither from Jerusalem, then, as if the royal city of the Jews and the whole land of Judea were entirely destitute of holy men, the judgment of God at length overtook those who had committed such outrages against Christ and his apostles, and totally destroyed that generation of impious men…. [A]nd how at last the abomination of desolation, proclaimed by the prophets, stood in the very temple of God, so celebrated of old, the temple which was now awaiting its total and final destruction by fire,- all these things any one that wishes may find accurately described in the history written by Josephus.”
2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake — This refers primarily to the gospel being preached. Many who sleep in the dust, both Jews and Gentiles, shall be awakened by the preaching of the Gospel out of their heathenism. It has a secondary application to a future resurrection when the multitude that sleep in the dust shall awake; many shall arise to life, and many to shame.
3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
They that be wise shall shine — There is glory reserved for all the saints in the future state, for all that are wise, wise for their souls and eternity. Those who turn others to righteousness, who turn sinners from the errors of their ways, and help to save their souls from death (James 5:20) will share in the glory of those they have helped to heaven, which will add to their own glory.
4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
Shut up the words, and seal the book — Daniel is commanded to seal the book of his prophecy until the time when it will be fulfilled. Compare this commandment with the commandment of the angel in Revelation: “And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand” (Revelation 22:10).
The time of the end — The time when these prophecies shall be fulfilled.
5 Then I Daniel looked, and, behold, there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river.
6 And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?
7 And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.
8 And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?
9 And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.
10 Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.
11 And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.
Thousand two hundred and ninety days — This refers to the siege of Jerusalem from the spring of AD 67 to the fall of the Temple in September of 70. Vespasian enters the Land in spring of 67, but Jerusalem does not fall until 70.
12 Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.
Thousand three hundred and five and thirty days — This is another 45 days beyond the time of trouble. Those who were forewarned and survived the holocaust were Christians living in Jerusalem who had been forewarned by Jesus and John’s prophecy to flee the city to the hills of Judea in order to wait out the siege.
13 But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.
The end of the days — The end of the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. This does not refer to the “end times” in an eschatological sense as many have supposed.
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