The Book of Daniel in Preterist Perspective
What follows is the complete text of Part 1 of In the Days of These Kings: The Book of Daniel in Preterist Perspective. This is the 2019 update and differs in some details from the 2008 version that has been published elsewhere on the Internet.
The Prophecy of Daniel: A Brief Overview
Daniel was of noble birth, born in Jerusalem around 623 BC during the reign of King Josiah. Although we are not given his genealogy, he was one of the royal family of Judah, a close relative of the king. As a youth, Daniel marched as a captive to Babylon in the fourth year of Jehoiachin, 606 BC, along with the elite of Judah. An apt student, he learned the lore of the Chaldeans and held high offices, during both the Babylonian and Persian Empires. Despite persecution for his faith in the one true God, Daniel experienced miraculous deliverances and lived to a great age. He would have been almost 90-years-old at the time of the last of his visions in 535 BC (Matthew Henry’s Commentary).
Daniel’s nation fell to God’s enemies because they refused to live by God’s Law. The people of Judah continually compromised their culture into a state of spiritual whoredom. The pagan Chaldeans began using the 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, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah – to convert to paganism. They were renamed – Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – after the gods of Chaldea.
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 that had led the nation of Judah captive. No matter the challenges 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. 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 grandson, Belshazzar, when he assumed the throne. Daniel did not waver from his declaration or apologize for the judgment which had fallen on the king’s grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar, when God gave him over to a seven-year bout of insanity. Then one night, the fingers of a man’s hand wrote a flaming message on the wall. Belshazzar discovered that he needed Daniel’s wisdom. He got what he asked for, unpleasant news indeed. True to his word, though, Belshazzar bestowed high office on Daniel, then returned to his drink and awaited his doom.
Daniel quickly rose in official favor with Darius the Mede, the new regent of Babylon. Rival governors, jealous of Daniel’s longevity and favor, set a trap for him. They knew that whenever God’s Law and man’s law conflicted, Daniel would choose God’s Law. So they manipulated Darius into issuing an injunction that forced Daniel to either violate the king’s law or God’s supreme Law. When Daniel obeyed God rather than the ultimatum, he was cast into the lion’s den. Daniel survived only because of God’s sovereign intervention. His rivals were not as fortunate.
Although he was not personally guilty of his nation’s sins, Daniel took on the role of intercessor. He assumed spiritual responsibility. Through fasting and prayer, he birthed revival for the nation of Judah. Daniel understood that Judah had transgressed the Law and God would not be mocked. However, God had also promised restoration through the prophet Jeremiah.
Daniel’s prophecies were given to the Jews while they were in captivity in Babylon during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, his grandson Belshazzar, and later under Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian, when the Jews started filtering back into Jerusalem. This book of prophecy was meant to prove the time of the coming of the Messiah. The Lord gave specific guideposts to mark the following centuries that would show He had not forsaken His people. The tumultuous events described in the prophecies are meant to show the Jews that the word of the Lord is a sure promise that cannot fail to come to pass. As each detail of this prophecy fell into place by the first century, the Jews realized that the time of the Messiah had come. Later, Jesus in the Gospels, and the Apostle John in Revelation, quoted Daniel directly to show that the time was at hand.
The Five Visions of Daniel (Daniel 2, 7, 8, 9, 10-12)
The prophecy of Daniel gave God’s people comfort during three great events in the following centuries:
- The captivity in Babylon
- The invasion of Jerusalem by Antiochus Epiphanes
- The coming of the Messiah during the occupation by the Roman Empire and the resulting destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple
The prophecy of Daniel is a series of five visions occurring over a period of about 70 years. The visions move from general to specific. They point to several key events in the future history of the Jews: the desecration of the Temple by Antiochus IV Epiphanes and its restoration from 167 to 165 BC; the exact time of the coming of the Messiah in AD 27; Nero’s persecution from AD 64 to 68; and the Roman-Jewish War from AD 67 to 70.
The First Vision is a dream of the king that is interpreted by Daniel. The second is Daniel’s dream. The next three are waking visions seen in the presence of angels, followed by an appearance of the Messiah – the Son of Man – to interpret the vision for Daniel. The timeline reads as follows:
FIRST VISION — Daniel 2 — 603 BC in the second year of the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.
Daniel interprets the king’s dream. The dream described four kingdoms that would rule over a vast empire. Note that the dates are from the perspective of these empires’ domination over Judah/Judea.
Babylonian-Chaldean Empire …………………………… from 605 to 539 BC
Medo-Persian Empire …………………………………… from 539 to 330 BC
Macedonia-Greece ………………………………………. from 330 to 64 BC
Roman Empire ………………………………………….. from 64 BC to AD 70
SECOND VISION — Daniel 7 —555 BC 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 ten kings.
Babylonian-Chaldean Empire …………………………… from 605 to 539 BC
Medo-Persian Empire …………………………………… from 539 to 330 BC
Macedonia-Greece ………………………………………. from 330 to 64 BC
Roman Empire ………………………………………….. from 64 BC to AD 70
THIRD VISION — Daniel 8 — 553 BC in the third year of the reign of Belshazzar.
This vision of Daniel is interpreted by two angels. It describes the Medo-Persian Empire; the conquest of the world by Alexander the Great; the Seleucid and Ptolemaic succession; and the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanies in Syria.
Medo-Persian Empire ……………………………………. from 539 to 330 BC
Alexander’s invasions ……………………………………. from 330 to 323 BC
Ptolemies rule Egypt & Seleucids rule Syria …….………. from 323 to 167 BC
Antiochus Epiphanes …………………………………….. from 167 to 164 BC
FOURTH VISION — Daniel 9 — 539 BC in the first year of Darius, king of the Medes.
The angel Gabriel appears to Daniel while he was fasting and inquiring of God the meaning of Jeremiah’s “seventy years.” Later the Messiah, the “Son of Man,” appears. The vision describes the 483 year time period from the seventh year of King Artaxerxes, in 457 BC, when by his commandment Ezra began the work of completing the restoration of the Temple at Jerusalem (Ezra 7) – to the baptism of Jesus Christ in AD 27, when He first began to preach and execute the office of the Messiah.
Medo-Persian Empire ………………… from ……………… 457 BC
Roman Empire ………………………….. to ………………. AD 27
……………………………………………………………….. 483 years
FIFTH VISION — Daniel 10,11,12 — 535 BC 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 AD 67 to 70 (Daniel 12).
Medo-Persian Empire …………………………………… from 539 to 330 BC
Macedonia-Greece ………………………………………. from 330 to 64 BC
Roman Empire ………………………………………….. from 64 BC to AD 70
Pompey invades Jerusalem ………………………………. 63 BC
Death of Julius Caesar …………………………………… 44 BC
The Messiah appears …………………………………….. from AD 27 to 30
The Time of Trouble …………………………………….. from AD 67 to 70
According to Daniel 2:1, this vision occurs “in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar” (603 BC). In this chapter, Daniel interprets a dream for King Nebuchadnezzar. It’s important to note that Daniel 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. The successors of Alexander, the kings of Syria and Egypt, arose after Alexander’s untimely death. This includes the entire Seleucid period up to 64 BC.
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 — This refers to the Roman Empire. Up until the time of the birth of Christ, the Roman Empire was plagued by numerous civil wars. The Fourth Kingdom includes the entire era of the Roman Caesars, who brought Pax Romana (“Roman peace”) to the empire, which ironically was a time of great internal strife among the nations Rome subjugated.
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 Judea and Samaria.
The seed of men — The Jews at the time of the Roman Empire 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 Gospel of the kingdom of God would be preached to the nations of the world by Jesus Christ and His Church. This Kingdom 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 (Revelation 11:15).
The question answered by this verse is when God will set up a kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. 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” (Luke 2:1). The beginning of Christ’s ministry began “in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar” (Luke 3:1).
When will Christ and the kingdom of God come on earth as it is in heaven? It will be “in the days of these kings” (Daniel 2:44).
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 refers to the kingdom of God. This does not refer to the Second Coming of Jesus as some have imagined. The text plainly states that the stone is the kingdom of God. This kingdom appeared in the days of the Roman Empire at the coming of Christ.
Nebuchadnezzar rewarded Daniel for correctly telling the dream and giving the interpretation. Like Joseph in captivity in Egypt, Daniel’s gifts made room for him. 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 555 BC, another king arose in Babylon. In this chapter, it is Daniel himself who relates a vision and its interpretation. In chapter 2, Daniel is interpreting the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, but in chapter 7, he makes it clear that this is his dream. In chapter 7, 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 outlined in chapter 2.
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 Babylonian-Chaldean, Medo-Persian, Macedonian-Greek and Roman Empires. This is the same vision as in chapter two, but expressed with different symbolism. While some choose to understand the fourth beast as the successors of Alexander, especially the Seleucid and Ptolemaic kings who ruled in Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt, 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. If we start with Julius Caesar, we see a sequence of ten emperors reigning until the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70: Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Gaius, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian. The reign of these kings coincided with the period of the ministry of the Messiah and 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.
There came up among them 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 of the Trinity. Some interpret the “fiery stream” as 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 both the destruction of the Roman Empire and of Nero who committed suicide with a military sword that killed many people before him.
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’s death, other rulers governed the Roman Empire, but the power of their throne began to weaken.
They had their dominion taken away — At this point, the kingdom of God began to grow in all the earth.
Yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time — There are several possible interpretations from a preterist perspective.
A general interpretation has the rest of the beasts symbolizing the Gentile nations, including the realms held by the Babylonian, Persian and Greek kingdoms, that will remain in rebellion to God for an unspecified period of time until the kingdom of God gradually fills the whole world, as in chapter 2. This is the interpretation I favor, but there are two others that are interesting and worth considering.
A more specific interpretation is that the rest of the beasts symbolize the remaining four Roman kings who ruled after Nero. The “Year of the Four Emperors” lasted a little more than a year from the death of Nero on June 8th of AD 68 to the accession of Vespasian on July 1st, 69. In this space of time, Nero, Galba, Otho and Vespasian ruled in turn.
On the other hand, if a season and a time is interpreted to be “three months and one year,” then Vespasian’s reign as emperor began on July 1st of AD 69 and the destruction of Jerusalem took place on September 8th, AD 70. In fact, according to the ceremonial calendar, 360 days (a year) plus 90 days (a season) extended exactly to September 24th, AD 70, which in that year was the Feast of Trumpets or the Jewish New Year.
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 calls himself the “Son of man” in order to identify 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 to 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 the Dominion Mandate given not only to Christ, but to the saints. We are to possess the whole kingdom, that is, 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 in AD 37, the same year as the death of Tiberius Caesar. Three Caesars were assassinated to clear the way for him. These were Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius. Tacitus and Suetonius record that Tiberius was smothered by Caligula and Macro and the crowd in Rome hearing the news rejoiced. Some consider this story to be spurious, but this is the consensus of the ancient historians. Caligula was murdered by his own guardsmen at the behest of a rival faction. Claudius was poisoned and it is thought that his fourth wife, Agrippina, committed the deed in order to make way for her son, Nero, whom Claudius had adopted as his step-son and heir.
Many interpret the Little Horn as the “eleventh” horn. Of course, the number eleven is mentioned nowhere in the text. The Little Horn does not come after the ten horns, but as it has been translated as “in the midst of them” or “among them.” Thus if the Little Horn is Nero, he is the sixth of the ten.
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 64 and lasted until his death on June 9th, AD 68.
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 — That is, after the “three” who are subdued. This is consistent with verses 8 and 20. 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 from about December AD 64 until his death in June AD 68. Although neither Suetonius nor Tacitus give us the exact date when the persecution began, we can safely assume it was late 64 and lasted until Nero’s death.
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. The purpose is to declare when the kingdom of God would come on earth. Jesus alluded to Daniel when He said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Matthew 16:28).
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 553 BC.
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 in the First Vision, 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.
At Shushan in the palace — In a vision, Daniel is transported into Shushan, the capital of Persia – the kingdom signified by the two-horned ram.
A ram which had two horns — This refers to the empire of the Medes and the Persians.
One was higher than the other, and the higher came up last — 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 Macedonia and Greece
He touched not the ground — This is a metaphor meaning that he conquered all 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 — Antigonus, Cassander, Ptolemy and Seleucus, 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 IV Epiphanes, the descendant of Seleucus.
Toward the South — In the year 170 BC, Antiochus conquered Egypt and plundered Palestine. (See 1 Maccabees 1:16-19.)
Toward the East — Antiochus invaded Persia and the countries of “the East” (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 and 25th day of the month Kislev in 167 BC. Antiochus defiled the Temple at Jerusalem by setting up a statue of Jupiter Olympus in the Temple and 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, exactly six-years and three-and-a-half-months, during which Antiochus occupied the city of Jerusalem. Although the Jews were oppressed for over 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, Kislev (November/December), 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 Kislev), in the hundred and forty-eighth year (165 BC) 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 in 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” (Antiquities X:11:7).
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” (Daniel 7:13) appears to Daniel and directs the angel Gabriel to give Daniel 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.
He touched me, and set me upright — Gabriel wakes Daniel and stands him up. This is to show that this is not merely a dream, but that the angel appears to him physically.
At the time appointed the end shall be — The angel 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 Medo-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 Macedonian-Greek 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 Revelation 17:14; 19:16.
He shall be broken without hand — Although the Seleucid line of kings was eventually overthrown by the Romans, the angel reveals that the destruction of Antiochus would be by the hand of God. Antiochus did not die in battle. According to 1 Maccabees, Antiochus died in a fit of melancholy in 164 BC after having repented of his mistreatment 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 reigns of Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian, the Greek-Seleucid line of kings from Alexander to Antiochus would not be completed until 370 years after his death.
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 even today. John Calvin, in his Commentary on Daniel, writes at this point that some see in the Little Horn “the figure of Antichrist. But I do not think this reasoning sufficiently sound.”
The Fourth Vision of Daniel occurs “in the first year of Darius” (Daniel 9:1) in 539 BC. Daniel is still in captivity in Babylon and is ardently praying for the Jews when the angel appears to him and gives him further revelation of things to come in the history of the Jews up to the time of the coming of the Messiah.
Notice that Daniel’s revelations progress from the First Vision (Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the statue), to the Second Vision (Daniel’s dream of the four great beasts), to the Third Vision (Daniel’s open vision of the ram and the he-goat). Gabriel had appeared to Daniel in the Third Vision and had even touched him physically. Now in the Fourth Vision the angel Gabriel appears again.
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.
The man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning — Daniel had seen Gabriel previously in the Third Vision in 553 BC.
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 “weeks,” shavuim, is the same as the word for “sevens.”
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 seventh year of King Artaxerxes, in 457 BC, when by his commandment Ezra began the work of completing the restoration of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem (Ezra 7).
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.
Even in troublous times — This refers to the difficulties, obstacles and delays that the Jews met in building the city of Jerusalem, until they finally rebuilt the wall in the time of Nehemiah.
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” precedes the “62 weeks” to equal the “69 weeks” of verse 25. During the “seven weeks” the Temple, the streets and the wall of Jerusalem were restored.
Shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself — Christ was not cut off for himself, but as an offering to the Jews who rejected him. After 40 years (Matthew 24:34) of hearing the Gospel preached by Jesus and His witnesses, the Jewish nation was “cut off” from God together with the Temple offerings. The Hebrew word for “not for himself” can also be translated “will be no more.” The word for “cut off” here relates that the Messiah’s death cut off their relationship to God. Paul uses this same language in Romans 11 to describe both the Gentiles and Jews in their relationship with Christ as the “olive tree.”
You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? (Romans 11:19-24 NKJV).
And the people of the prince — The Roman legions under their general, Titus, the son of Emperor Vespasian.
Unto the end of the war desolations are determined — 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 no more than three years or from AD 27 to 30. Then by His sacrifice on the cross He fulfilled the sacrificial requirements of the Law.
The overspreading of abominations — This refers to the “abomination of desolation,” the bringing of ensigns and standards of the pagan Romans into the Temple. Antiochus Epiphanes of the Seleucids profaned the Temple that had been rebuilt in the time of Darius I the Great. Titus, the Roman destroyer of Herod’s Temple, profaned this obsolete building in AD 70. This destruction manifested the prior profanation of the Temple by the Jews who rejected the Messiah. This made God’s justice visible to the whole world
In his Fifth Vision, beginning in Daniel 10 and concluding in chapter 12, an angel describes a list of the kings who would drive world history until the time of the Messiah. Futurists, with their desire to read current events into the Bible, will often apply an interpretation to these chapters that puts at least some of these rulers in the future – usually the very near future. By contrast, a preterist interpretation provides a wonderful and awe-inspiring testimony to the power of Scripture as God’s Word. These prophecies amazingly have been fulfilled to the smallest 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. To ensure that believing Jews, such as Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:21-38), would not miss the Messiah, the vision depicts the major world rulers of Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome, leading up to the time of Christ.
In Daniel 10, an angel appears to the prophet Daniel and gives an interpretation of a vision. The vision takes place in about 535 BC “in the third year of Cyrus king of Persia” (Daniel 10:1). Cyrus the Great reigned in Persia from 550 to 529 BC. In alliance with the Medes, he overthrew the city of Babylon during a scene of wild revelry in the court of Belshazzar. The Medes and Persians captured the city of Jerusalem in 539 BC.
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 Lord Jesus Christ as the Apostle John describes him 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, Revelation 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 everything 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.
What does the similarity between the vision in Daniel 11 and John’s vision in Revelation 1 signify? The Fifth Vision of Daniel describes in sharp detail the events leading up to the time of Christ. As David Chilton taught, the Book of Revelation is the “capstone” to the earlier vision. When John wrote, the seals to the prophecy of Daniel broke and this vision was 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.
And, behold, an hand touched me — The text makes it clear that this is not simply a dream, but an open vision of an angel who physically appears to Daniel.
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.
Stand upright — Daniel is commanded by the angel to stand, which demonstrates he is not dreaming or asleep.
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 either to the king of Persia or to an angelic being. The guardian of Persia was perhaps a fallen angel standing in opposition to God’s plan for the Jews’ restoration. Therefore, he desired that the Jews should remain scattered among the nations.
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 of 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 end of the Persian Empire that 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 God’s covenant people. Sometimes in Scripture, he is depicted as the archangel, or as “the angel of the Lord,” an appearance in type of the Messiah.
Chapter 11 continues the vision of chapter 10. The Lord God himself shows Daniel the wars and succession of kings in the Persian and Grecian Empires. The year 535 BC marked about 70 years of the Jews’ captivity in Babylon. At this time, some of the Jews returned to their own country and began to rebuild the Temple as Cyrus had given them permission to do.
This vision deals mainly with the kings of Egypt and Syria after the conquest of Judea by Alexander in 330 BC. The Jewish homeland lay between their dominions and suffered as the Egyptian and Syrian armies marched back and forth across their land.
Together with chapter 12, Daniel 11 gives a far more detailed and accurate prophecy than the first four visions of Daniel. A case could be made that this is the most detailed and accurate prophecy in the Bible. What follows is an overview, but for a more in-depth treatment with corroborating historical sources, read “Part III: Historical Background and Resources,” the sections on the “Third Kingdom” and “Fourth Kingdom.”
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 in 539 BC, Darius took command of the empire. The two rulers, Cyrus and Darius, began simultaneously. By the time of this prophecy, Cyrus had already ruled for three years, but Darius had previously ruled for just one year. Although the vision occurs in the third year of the reign of Cyrus the Persian (535 BC), Daniel is told by the angel of events three years earlier during the first year of 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 — the first, Cambyses the son of Cyrus (530-522 BC); the second, Smerdis Magus (522 BC); the third, Darius the son of Hystaspes (521-486 BC).
The fourth — Xerxes (486-465 BC)
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 and life ended as soon as he conquered the world. His kingdom was divided among Antigonus, Cassander, Ptolemy and Seleucus.
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 I Soter, the son of Lagus, king of Egypt, which lies south of Jerusalem.
One of his princes — One of Alexander’s princes, Seleucus I Nicator. 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 I 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 — Berenice, daughter of Ptolemy II Philadelphus, married to Antiochus II Theos, the 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 III Euergetes, the son of Ptolemy II 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 II 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 III Soter (also called Ceraunus) and Antiochus III the Great, the sons of Seleucus II Callinicus.
One shall certainly come — Antiochus III 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 IV Philopator, son of Ptolemy III Euergetes.
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 III the Great fought against the king of the south, Ptolemy V Epiphanes.
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.
He … his whole kingdom —That is, Antiochus III the Great hatched a plot to make Egypt subservient to Syria.
The daughter of women — Antiochus the Great gave his daughter, Cleopatra I Syra, to Ptolemy V Epiphanes in order to influence him, but this plot did not succeed because Cleopatra took the interests of her husband more to heart than those 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. He caused the reproach on the Romans to cease and turned it back on Antiochus III.
The reference is to the disgrace brought on the Roman armies by the conquests of Antiochus. Antiochus had seemed to mock that power; he had engaged in war with the conquerors of nations; he had gained victories, and thus appeared to insult the majesty of the Roman name. All this was turned back again, or caused to cease, by the victories of Scipio (Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible).
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 this, Antiochus III returned to his own land. He was slain by his own people who were aroused to fury by the burdensome taxes exacted to defray the expenses of his unsuccessful war and the resulting 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 IV Philopator, 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 IV Epiphanes, the son of Antiochus the Great, dethroned 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 VI Philometor, the most powerful adversary of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, 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 VI Philometor, 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 Fifth Vision 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, the remaining verses of the vision must pertain to the Maccabean revolt against Antiochus Epiphanes, the cruel and violent persecutor of the Jews, and the time when Judea became again partially dominated by Syria and then by 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 IV 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 plagued once again by wars with the Syrians and surrounding nations and internal civil wars 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 marvelous 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 were proclaimed to be gods.
He shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god — After a series of Roman 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 eschatological 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 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 Ptolemy XIII.
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 to the 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 Roman province of Pontus in Asia Minor. There he defeated Pharnaces II, saying, “Veni. Vidi. Vici.” – “I came. I saw. I conquered.”
And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain — Julius Caesar passed through Judea and Syria on his way to fight Pharnaces. He entered into an alliance that favored Judea after the Jews, led by John Hyrcanus II and Antipater I the Idumean, came to his aid and rescued him during the Battle of the Nile against Ptolemy XIII.
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.
And at that time shall Michael stand up — Michael was Israel’s guardian angel, “Michael your prince” (Daniel 10:21). And he “stood up” to “deliver” the people of God.
There shall be a time of trouble — Refers to the three-and-a-half year Great Tribulation, the Roman-Jewish War from the spring of AD 67 to September 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 warned 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 Judea 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.”
Every one that shall be found written in the book — At the time of the Roman-Jewish war from AD 67 to 70, God’s people were delivered — that is, those who were found written in the book. Those who believed in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, persevered because they were “found written in the book” of God’s decrees. This was the remnant of believers living in the nation of Judea, the early Christian Church.
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 and the New Birth that comes with faith in Jesus Christ. 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 (Matthew Henry Commentary).
They that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever — Those who turn others to righteousness, who turn sinners from the errors of their ways, and help to save souls from death (James 5:20) will share in the glory of those they have helped to heaven.
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.
The abomination that maketh desolate — Jesus refers to this in Matthew 24:15,16, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)” – “whoso readeth” is a reference to Daniel 12:11.
Luke 21:20 further defines the nature of “the abomination that maketh desolate” – “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.” According to Luke’s parallel passage, the presence of the Roman armies is what made the Temple sacrifices “desolate.”
Thousand two hundred and ninety days — This is roughly three-and-a-half years. This refers to the Roman-Jewish War and the Siege of Jerusalem from spring of AD 67 to the destruction of the Temple in September of 70. Vespasian entered the Land in spring of 67, then Jerusalem fell in 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 survived the holocaust were Christians living in Jerusalem who had been forewarned by Daniel’s prophecy of the abomination of desolation. Jesus added the warning to flee the city to the hills of Judea in order to wait out the siege (Matthew 24:16; Luke 21:21).
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.
Note on Josephus’ Wars of the Jews
Although the Temple was not destroyed until AD 70, there was a period of several years in which there were numerous signs that the presence of God had departed from the Temple, according to Josephus in Wars of the Jews (VI.289-309).
|Fall 62 to 70||Joshua (Jesus the son of Ananus) begins his prophesying|
|Late 65, early 66||Star like a sword and comet appear in night sky|
|March 20th, 66||Brilliant light on altar and sanctuary of the Temple|
|March 20th, 66||Doors of Eastern Gate open on their own|
|May 2nd, 66||Chariots and armies seen in the sky throughout Judea|
|May 16th, 66||Voice from Inner Court, “We are leaving from here.”|
|September 66||Judea invaded by troops under the Roman general Cestius Gallus|
|Spring 67 to 70||The war resumes under Vespasian, Jerusalem and Temple destroyed|
The Destruction of Jerusalem (click to enlarge).