Download PDF version here: A Closer Look: Daniel 8:14 Re-examined
Where We've Been
When I undertook my examination of Daniel’s prophecy of the Seventy Weeks covered in Daniel 9:24–27 almost two years ago, it soon became apparent that a comprehensive study required going outside of that text. Accordingly, one of my early articles in the series was “Understanding the 2,300 ‘Evenings and Mornings’ of Daniel 8:14,” posted at https://biblearchaeology.org/abr-projects-main/the-daniel-9-24-27-project-2/4362-understanding-the-2-300-evenings-and-mornings-of-daniel-8-14. In that article I wrote:
We could spend considerable time evaluating what various Bible commentators have had to say about the 2,300 “evenings and mornings.” One website (https://www.wake-up.org/time-periods/2300-days-daniel-8-14.html) observed that, of an assortment of “prominent scholars” between the years AD 430–1781 that dealt with the meaning of the 2,300 “evenings and mornings,” 21 claimed the 2,300 days represented years; six said they denoted the number of days to reach the end of the world; three claimed the period was 2,300 literal days; and one opined that the time represented 1,150 24-hour days. Folks, this diversity of opinion—which continues to our day—does not exactly engender confidence that a solution can be easily found! Nor does it mean that I, who would boldly sally forth into theological territory the prudent avoid, can come up with a better alternative than those who have gone before me. Nevertheless, when I stumble upon a workable solution offered by others to a seemingly intractable exegetical problem, as I did in this case, it seems good to pass it along.
In what followed, after first laying out general background on Daniel 8:14, I focused on an article I had found while searching for insights on how to understand the 2,300 “evenings and mornings” of Daniel 8:14. That article, by Fred P. Miller at http://www.moellerhaus.com/2300.htm, proposed that we can get a precise solution to the 2,300 evening-mornings by using a 360-day year derived from the Greek historian Herodotus. I saw biblical support for that proposal in the 360-day year we get from reconciling Daniel 7:25 and Revelation 12:6, 12:14, and 13:5. That was good enough to get me excited about Miller’s proposal. I concluded the article with these words: “I commend this solution to you for understanding the 2,300 ‘evenings and mornings’ of Daniel 8:14.”
Second Thoughts on Using Herodotus' Calendar
As my studies have progressed since then, I have had second thoughts about Miller’s solution. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Herodotus lived c. 484–420 BC. If the vision in Daniel 8 has to do with the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes—as the vast majority of interpreters hold—then we are dealing with Seleucid Era (SE) dates. The Seleucid Era began in the spring of 311 BC as the Jews reckoned it (the Greeks began their SE dates six months earlier, in the fall of 312 BC), over a century after Herodotus’ death. The Jews used the SE calendar during the Maccabean period. We get the date for Antiochus’ “abomination of desolation” from 1 Macc. 1:54, 59 (RSVA version):
54Now on the fifteenth day of Chislev, in the one hundred and forty-fifth year, they erected a desolating sacrilege upon the altar of burnt offering… 59And on the twenty-fifth day of the month they offered sacrifice on the altar which was upon the altar of burnt offering.
The year 145 SE corresponds with 167 BC. The “abomination” was not the sacrifice done on the twenty-fifth, but the pagan altar erected upon the Jewish altar ten days prior. Later, at 4:52–53, we read of the restoration of the altar and reinstitution of the regular burnt offering three years later in 148 SE/164 BC:
52Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, which is the month of Chislev, in the one hundred and forty-eighth year, 53they rose and offered sacrifice, as the law directs, on the new altar of burnt offering which they had built.
Notice the bolded words. In a previous article (https://biblearchaeology.org/abr-projects-main/the-daniel-9-24-27-project-2/4549-did-ezra-come-to-jerusalem-in-457-bc), I pointed out that when the month-number of the Jewish year is presented before the month-name, it indicates that a first-month (Nisan)-based calendar was in primary use:
Yet at the same time we also have solid, Scripture-based evidence, corroborated by abundant historical records, that Babylonian names became associated with but did not entirely replace those month-numbers during the exile. This is seen in Esther 3:7: “In the first month, which is the month Nisan…until the twelfth month, that is the month Adar”; Esther 8:9, “the third month (that is, the month Sivan)…”; and Zechariah 1:7, “…the eleventh month, which is the month Shebat…” Note that the numbered form is given first and provides the essential identification of the month in the minds of the exiled Judeans, while the names Nisan, Sivan, Shebat and Adar are given as secondary identifiers influenced by the Babylonian captivity (cf. the list of month-names at https://www.livius.org/articles/concept/calendar-babylonian/). From this evidence it follows that the religious (God-ordained) calendar took priority in Jewish minds over the Babylonian civil calendar, and is more accurately described as first month-based rather than Nisan-based. It is rooted ultimately in what the LORD established long before the Babylonian captivity.
Since 1 Maccabees treats the month-name Chislev as a parenthetical explanation for “ninth month” like those examples from Scripture, we can conclude that the Maccabean-era Jews applied the Greek year numbering to their ancient sacred calendar, so that instead of starting the years in the fall of 312 BC as the Greeks did, they began their SE year-count in the spring of 311 BC. This results in the following table, where each Seleucid Era (SE) year begins in the “first month,” Nisan (N). The BC equivalents are approximate, beginning about four months before the corresponding SE years. The Olympiad information ties in with what Josephus reported about these events in Antiquities 12.7.6 (Loeb edition 12.321). The gold color signifies that the temple was rededicated during a sabbatical year that began in the month of Tishri (T) in 164 BC.
The Metonic Cycle
The bottom line is that we cannot tie Herodotus’ 360-day year length to the Maccabean era. That being the case, neither can we use the idea that extra months of 30 days (intercalary or “leap” months) were added to the calendar on a regular every-other-year pattern as Herodotus taught. In fact, in the fifth century BC, the Greek astronomer Meton devised a more accurate strategy for synchronizing lunar-based calendars with the solar-based agricultural seasons, and this was adopted by the Jews under Greek influence. The 19-year Metonic cycle had a standard year-length of 354 days. According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metonic_cycle), “Traditionally, for the Babylonian and Hebrew lunisolar calendars, the years 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17, and 19 are the long (13-month) years of the Metonic cycle. This cycle forms the basis of the Greek and Hebrew calendars…” It appears, then, that only twice in 19 years were intercalary months added every other year by the Jews, whereas Herodotus indicates it was the regular pattern. And the fact that the month-name given in 1 Maccabees is Kislev rather than a Macedonian name shows a specifically Jewish approach was taken.
From these two considerations—the length of the year and when intercalary months were added—there is reason to question the strategy Miller used to reconcile 1,150 days of twice-daily sacrifices in Daniel 8 with the three years and ten days between the desecration of the temple (1:54) and its restoration (4:52). Its validity depends on a 360-day year and a regular pattern of alternating intercalary years. If instead we use the Metonic cycle with three years of 354 days, then presume two of them included extra intercalary months of 30 days, then add an extra ten days, we get a total of 1,132 days of two regular sacrifices per day, totaling 2,264 “evening-mornings.” This is 36 offerings, or 18 days, a bit short of the total required by the prophecy. And if only one of the three years was an intercalary year, we have to consider the possibility that only 1102 days, or 2204 “evening-mornings,” passed.
It is at this point that many give up trying to find a way to reconcile the prophecy of Daniel 8 with the history in 1 Maccabees. Of greater concern is that it appears, at least superficially, that Scripture cannot be reconciled with what history tells us. In what follows I want to push forward in search of a solution.
Exegesis of Daniel 8
Of course, the above deliberations about the calendar used during the Maccabean period only apply if the “rather small horn” of Daniel 8:9 is identified with Antiochus IV Epiphanes, in whose time Seleucid dating was in effect. Not everyone agrees. One person emailed me to say that this “horn” is to be identified with Rome, not Antiochus IV Epiphanes (or any other king of Greek derivation, for that matter). Learning this spurred me into buying a couple of books—Daniel: The Vision of the End by Jacques B. Doukhan, and God Cares: The Message of Daniel for You and Your Family by C. Mervyn Maxwell—so I could see for myself what this reasoning is based on.
First, we look at the pertinent verses of Daniel 8 as given in the NASB. Verses 8–9 include certain words rendered in Hebrew with their genders noted, since they will be important to evaluating the analysis of Doukhan and Maxwell, and others in italics are supplied by the context:
8Then the male [tsaphiyr, masc noun] goat [‘ezim, fem noun but masc in plural, as here] magnified himself exceedingly. But as soon as he was mighty, the large horn [qeren, fem noun] was broken; and in its place there came up [`alah, verb] four conspicuous [chazuwth, fem noun] horns [supplied] toward the four winds [ruach, fem noun] of heaven. 9Out of one ['echath, fem adj] of them [mehem, Strong’s #1992, hem prefixed with min (“from”), pl masc or fem pronoun] came forth [yatsa', verb] a rather small [tsa`iyr, fem adj] horn [qeren, fem noun] which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Beautiful Land [supplied]. 10It grew up to the host of heaven and caused some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it trampled them down. 11It even magnified itself to be equal with the Commander of the host; and it removed the regular sacrifice from Him, and the place of His sanctuary was thrown down. 12And on account of transgression the host will be given over to the horn along with the regular sacrifice; and it will fling truth to the ground and perform its will and prosper. 13Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to that particular one who was speaking, “How long will the vision about the regular sacrifice apply, while the transgression causes horror, so as to allow both the holy place and the host to be trampled?” 14He said to me, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the holy place will be properly restored” (emphasis added).
The angel Gabriel subsequently explains to Daniel the meaning of that vision in verses 16–26, but we will save that for our discussion of context.
Is the “Rather Small Horn” Rome?
Some teach that the “rather small horn” of Daniel 8:9, by equating it with the “little horn” of Daniel 7:8, must represent Rome. To maintain this equivalence, they say that typical English translations of Daniel 8:8–9 are misleading. Such translations cause us to think the grammatical antecedent of “them” (mehem) in verse 9 is the word “horns” rather than “winds,” thereby making the small horn of 8:9 a Greek. To keep their understanding that the “rather small horn” must refer to Rome, they argue that the antecedent of “them” must be “winds,” a point made primarily through analyzing the gender of nouns used in the passage. As Maxwell puts it:
Readers of the English versions sometimes assume that when the Bible says that the little horn arose out of “one of them,” it means that it arose out of one of the four horns. What the Bible really means, however, is that the little horn arose out of one of the four winds; that is, that it arose out of one of the four directions of the compass. (We are dealing with an idiom.)
How can this be?
Nouns in Hebrew have grammatical gender. They are considered to be either masculine or feminine. Many other languages also employ grammatical gender. And it is a rule in all of them that pronouns must agree with their antecedent nouns in being similarly masculine, feminine, or neuter. Even in English we think of a ship as feminine and refer to one with the feminine pronouns “she” and “her.”
In the Hebrew for Daniel 8:8, 9, “horns” is feminine, and “winds” is either masculine or feminine. In the phrase “out of one of them,” the pronoun “them” is masculine. This means that the antecedent noun for “them” cannot be “horns” but must be “winds.” Thus the little horn was to appear out of one of the four winds. It was to arise from one of the four directions of the compass (p. 158).
Pronoun Antecedents and Noun Genders
Close examination of the above statement, however, reveals it to be a mixture of truth and error. Contrary to Maxwell’s claim that the pronoun mehem is masculine, it is actually gender-independent. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT), a standard reference work, observes at entry #504 that it is a “third person plural independent nominative pronoun.” TWOT also points out, at entry #480 dealing with the third person singular pronoun hû’, that it likewise is gender-independent and can take the meaning “he,” “she,” or “it,” depending on the context. We must conclude Maxwell is wrong to claim mehem must be a masculine noun requiring a masculine antecedent.
There are also problems with Maxwell’s blanket statement that “winds” can be either masculine or feminine. It is true that some grammars call it a “common gender” word that can take either a masculine or feminine verb, but we still have to let the specific context determine how ruach should be regarded in each case. In the authoritative Koehler-Baumgartner-Richardson-Stamm Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT) it states (p. 1197), “Generally רוּח is fem.; only seldom is it masc., as in Ex 1013.19 Nu 1131 Is 5716 Jr 412 Ezk 2726 Ps 5112 7839 Jb 415 82 203 418 Qoh 16 319.” The given instances are apparently the sum total of places where ruach is masculine. No Daniel passages are included. Hence, we should conclude that Maxwell is mistaken in claiming that ruach is a masculine noun as used in Daniel 8.
Doukhan similarly tries to get around the apparent sense of the text—that “them” refers to one of the four Greek “horns” of 8:8—by claiming that there is a “curious disagreement of genders in the Hebrew phrase ‘one’ (feminine) of them (masculine)” (p. 28). The -ath ending of the adjective “one” ('echath, הָאַחַת), which modifies “them,” is feminine. Because Hebrew requires that adjectives must agree in gender with the noun they modify, it shows the independent pronoun “them” is being treated as a feminine noun. We therefore expect the pronoun “them” to be paired with a feminine antecedent. There is thus no disagreement of genders, and linking “them” with the feminine noun for “horns” is quite grammatically valid. Maxwell and Doukhan thus cannot rule out “horns” as the antecedent of “them” on the basis of gender.
The above analysis of grammar-related issues made me realize how important it was to really understand what was going on in the Hebrew text of Daniel. I would like to impress on my readers that it is critical to give the Holy Spirit first dibs at explaining the Word to you, not a commentator! That includes me. By praying for insight and then wrestling directly with the text ourselves, we should at least get a general idea of what it says before we allow anyone else to tell us how to understand it.
A Word Study
Now we turn to look at some Hebrew terms in Daniel 8. Our objective is to determine whether it is legitimate to equate the “little horn” of Daniel 7, which arises out of a beast representing the Roman Empire, with the “rather small horn” of Daniel 8. To evaluate this concept, this phase of our study focuses mainly on the Hebrew terms chazown (“vision”), mar'eh (“vision” or “appearance”), and ha-tamiyd (“the regular”), along with a few other words.
I put together the following raw data, with emphasis added in places and a few notes of my own in parenthesis. For brevity only key verses are covered. The NASB is used.
Dan 8:1 In the third year of the reign of Belshazzar the king a vision (chazown) appeared to me, Daniel, subsequent to the one which appeared to me previously (in Daniel 7).
Dan 8:2 I looked in the vision (chazown), and while I was looking I was in the citadel of Susa, which is in the province of Elam; and I looked in the vision (chazown) and I myself was beside the Ulai Canal.
Dan 8:5 While I was observing, behold, a male goat was coming from the west over the surface of the whole earth without touching the ground; and the goat had a conspicuous (chazuwth) horn (qeren) between his eyes.
Dan 8:8 Then the male goat (the Grecian empire) magnified himself exceedingly. But as soon as he was mighty, the large horn (Alexander the Great) was broken; and in its place there came up four conspicuous (chazuwth) horns (in italics because it is supplied; it refers to four kingdoms led by Alexander’s generals Lysimachus, Cassander, Seleucus and Ptolemy) toward the four winds of heaven. (Since “conspicuous” [chazuwth] is paired with “horn” [qeren] in 8:5, the context expects us to likewise supply qeren to go with chazuwth here.)
Dan 8:9a Out of one of them (apparently one of the four “conspicuous horns,” which were the kingdoms arising from Alexander’s four Greek generals) came forth a rather small horn… (Since it is a horn, and since the preceding four horns were derived from the one large horn representing Alexander, this “rather small horn” was in turn derived from one of the four; horns logically give rise to other horns, making this “rather small horn” a ruler of Greek extraction.)
Dan 8:9b …which grew exceedingly great toward (rose powerfully against) the south, toward the east, and toward the Beautiful Land. (The “Beautiful” is Judea. This geographic description of the lands the “rather small horn” rose powerfully against cannot be interpreted apart from 8.9a, which defines this king as arising from Grecian forebears.)
Dan 8:10 It (the “rather small horn” of 8:9) grew up to (rose against) the host of heaven and caused some of the host (the Jews) and some of the stars (Jewish religious leaders) to fall to the earth (be killed), and it trampled them down. (“Host” simply means a group and here refers to the Jews, because “it” in this context derives from Alexander. The metaphor thus must refer to human beings, not heavenly beings.)
Dan 8:11 It (the “rather small horn”) even magnified itself to be equal with the Commander of the host (God); and it removed the regular (ha-tamiyd) sacrifice (“sacrifice” is in italics because it is supplied by the context and the use of the article ha-, not by a specific Hebrew term) from Him, and the place of His sanctuary was thrown down.
Dan 8:12 And on account of transgression the host (the Jews) will be given over to the (“rather small”) horn along with the regular (ha-tamiyd) sacrifice (supplied); and it will fling truth to the ground and perform its will and prosper.
Dan 8:13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to that particular one who was speaking, “How long will the vision (chazown) about the regular (ha-tamiyd) sacrifice (supplied) apply, while (during the time) the transgression (caused by the “rather small horn” king) causes horror, so as to allow both the holy place (qodesh—in context, of the Jerusalem temple) and the host (the Jews) to be trampled?”
Dan 8:14 He said to me, “For 2,300 evenings (`ereb sing.) and mornings (boqer sing.); then the holy place (qodesh) will be properly restored.” (Due to the singular nouns, “evening-mornings” is a more literal translation.)
Dan 8:15 When I, Daniel, had seen the vision (chazown), I sought to understand it; and behold, standing before me was one who looked (mar'eh) like a man.
Dan 8:16 And I heard the voice of a man between the banks of Ulai, and he called out and said, “Gabriel, give this man an understanding of the vision (mar'eh).”
Dan 8:17 So he came near to where I was standing, and when he came I was frightened and fell on my face; but he said to me, “Son of man, understand that the vision (chazown) pertains to the time of the end.”
Dan 8:26 “The vision (mar'eh) of the evenings (`ereb) and mornings (boqer) (lit. “the evening-morning vision”) which has been told is true; but keep the vision (chazown) secret, for it pertains to many days in the future.”
Dan 8:27 Then I, Daniel, was exhausted and sick for days. (Since Gabriel was commanded to give Daniel the intended understanding, we must assume he fulfilled that command. Daniel’s feeling sick should be attributed to the emotional shock of learning about severe future persecution of the Jews and desecration of the temple.) Then I got up again and carried on the king’s business; but I was astounded at the vision (mar'eh), and there was none to explain it. (Apparently Daniel wanted further explanation not of what would happen, which Gabriel adequately explained, but why it would happen.)
This word study allows us to broadly say that the entire chapter of Daniel 8 is devoted to a single, self-contained vision, which verses 1 and 2 call a chazown. It should not be interpreted in terms of similar outside symbolism such as the horns of Daniel 7, but only within the limits of its own mar'eh. Notice in particular verses 16 and 17; since both words are to be “understood,” they effectively tie mar'eh and chazown inextricably together.
The lexicons indicate that chazown refers to the phenomenon of a visionary experience, whereas mar'eh focuses more on the particular content of a vision, which must be defined within the individual context. According to Strong’s Concordance, mar'eh refers to “a view (the act of seeing); also an appearance (the thing seen), whether (real) a shape (especially if handsome, comeliness…), or (mental) a vision…” The emphasis of mar'eh, therefore, is on appearance, and is not limited to the “mental” realm of a vision. As for chazown, Strong’s defines it as “a sight (mentally), i.e. a dream, revelation, or oracle:—vision.” This definition reflects the meaning that we generally have in mind when we think of a prophetic vision, whereas mar'eh carries the idea of such a vision’s specific appearance or content. Since mar'eh is necessarily tied to the immediate context each time the word is used, the mar'eh of Daniel 8 stands on its own. Its “horns” should not be interpreted according to similar imagery in chapter 7 without clear contextual reasons for doing so.
Interpreting “the Regular”
Another word demanding special attention is ha-tamiyd, translated “the regular.” A reader of my original article wrote to me:
Since Dan. 8, 11, and 12 use tamiyd without “sacrifice,” we would tie in the other tamiyd items as well, such as the showbread (Ex. 25:30) and the burning lamps of the 7-branched candlestick (27:20).
My own exegetical examination of the term tamiyd was partly motivated to see if it was really necessary to connect the showbread and candlestick with “the regular”—essentially, to discern if “the regular” meant the entire setup of the holy place in the temple, including the furnishings, or it was restricted to the whole burnt offering that was replenished on the altar twice a day. What caught my attention was that in Daniel 8, 11 and 12, the reason the Hebrew term for “burnt offering,” `olah, was not included in those passages was because for the Jews it was redundant. In those particular instances, the article “the” (Heb. הַ, ha-) is added to tamiyd, making what is elsewhere an adverb meaning “continual” into a noun with a particular idiomatic meaning. That noun form of the word, ha-tamiyd הַתָּמִידַ, designates a particular thing that is continual: the never-ceasing whole burnt offering on the altar, dedicated entirely to God to honor Him, with nothing eaten by the priests. The word “sacrifice” is added in English translations of those passages only because writing “the regular” or “the continual” would be confusing for us, though not for the original Jewish readers. Actually, it would have been better for the supplied word to have been “offering,” because the “whole burnt offering” was purely for the honor and pleasure of God, not in expiation for any sins (see Ex 29:38–42). This ties in with what verse 8:11 says: the “rather small horn” removed “the regular” from Him. It was something for God’s pleasure that got taken away, not an expiatory sacrifice for human sins. A standard reference work, the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, has this to say (emphasis added):
1157a תָּמִיד (tāmı̂d) continuity.
Most frequently this word is used in an adjectival genitive construction with ˓ōlâ for the continual whole burnt offering made to God every morning and evening (Ex 29:42; Num 28:6, 10, 15, 23; Ezr 3:5; Neh 10:34; cf. Ezk 46:15, every morning; and the continual minḥâ [sacrifice], Num 4:16; Neh 10:34; Lev 6:13. The word is used alone [not modifying another] to designate the daily burnt offering in Dan 8:11–13; 11:31; 12:11. Numbers 4:7 refers to the “bread of continuity” meaning the bread that was always there.
Similarly, the Enhanced Brown, Driver and Briggs Lexicon says (abridged from p. 556):
תָּמִיד Strongs8548 TWOT1157a GK9458 n.m. Dn 12:11 continuity;—ת׳ always absolute;— 1. earliest and oftenest as adverb, continually: a. of going on without interruption = continuously, Ho 12:7 Je 6:7 Na 3:19 Is 21:8; 49:16; 51:13, 52:5, 58:11; 60:11, 62:6, 65:3 Ob 16 Hb 1:17 Dt 11:12 1 K 10:8 = 2 Ch 9:7, 1 Ch 16:11, 37; … in ritual, Lv 24:8, cf. Ex 25:30 (shew-bread), Lv 24:2, 3, 4, cf. Ex 27:20 (of lamp), Ex 28:29, 30, 38. b. of regular repetition: meals 2 S 9:7, 10, 13; 2 K 25:29 = Je 52:33; journeys 2 K 4:9; cf. Nu 9:16; Ps 71:3; of ritual: sacrifice, לַיּוֹם תָּמִיד Ex 29:38; cf. 1 Ch 16:40; 23:31 2 Ch 24:14. 2. as substantive [functioning as a noun]: a. of uninterrupted continuity, אַנְשֵׁי ת׳ Ez 39:14 men of continuity, i.e. men continually employed for the purpose; ... b. of regular repetition אֲרֻחַת מ׳ 2 K 25:30, i.e. a regular allowance, = Je 52:34; especially of ritual: קְטֹרֶת ת׳ Ex 30:8; most often עֹלַת ת׳ Ez 46:15 (every morning), Ex 29:42 (morning and evening, so) Nu 28:6 Ezr 3:5; עֹלַח הַתּ׳ Nu 28:10, 15, 23, 24, 31; 29:6, 11, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31, 34, 38 Ne 10:34. c. (late) הַתּ׳ alone = daily (morning and evening) burnt-offering Dn 8:11, 12, 13; 11:31; 12:11 (so Talmud, even in plural תְּמִידִין) (brackets and some emphasis added).
So we see that both standard exegetical tools teach the same significance of ha-tamiyd in Daniel 8, 11 and 12: when it stands alone and does not function as a modifier, it refers to the daily burnt offering set out by the Levitical priests in the temple twice a day.
Extending the 2,300 “Years” into the “Heavenly” Sanctuary
Some teachers have tried to get around the difficulties in maintaining the Rome view of the “rather small horn” by adopting an allegorical interpretation, in which “the regular” is shifted from the temple in Jerusalem to the heavenly realm, where it is said to represent the continual priestly ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary. But this allegorical approach divorces the term ha-tamiyd from its plain-sense use in Scripture, where the term refers to the ritual first prescribed in Exodus 29:38–42 (cf. also Numbers 28:2–6):
Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two one year old lambs each day [yom], continuously [tamiyd]. The one lamb you shall offer in the morning [boqer] and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight [`ereb]; and there shall be one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with one-fourth of a hin of beaten oil, and one-fourth of a hin of wine for a drink offering with one lamb. The other lamb you shall offer at twilight [`ereb], and shall offer with it the same grain offering and the same drink offering as in the morning [boqer], for a soothing aroma, an offering by fire to the LORD. It shall be a continual [tamiyd] burnt offering [`olah] throughout your generations at the doorway of the tent of meeting before the LORD, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there.
Thus Scripture says that what is “continual” is a whole burnt offering upon the altar by the Levitical priests. We should resist the temptation to allegorize this passage by claiming it applies to activity taking place in a “heavenly” sanctuary. To allegorize is often to make an exception to plain-sense interpretation, and should only be resorted to if the text itself—not a desired interpretation—demands it. Allegory is only necessary here for one who insists that the “rather small horn” of Daniel 8:9 must refer to the Roman Empire. But exegetical support to back up that assumption is lacking, calling an allegorical approach into question. If instead the 2,300 refers to the twice-daily tamiyd offering in the earthly temple spanning only 1,150 days—one day per “evening-morning,” where each Jewish day begins at sundown, as in Genesis 1—there is no need to bring an allegorized “heavenly” sanctuary into the picture. From this I must conclude that ha-tamiyd in Daniel 8 has everything to do with events leading up to the suspending of 2,300 whole burnt offerings, offered twice daily over a period of 1,150 days in the earthly temple, and nothing to do with anything happening in heaven.
Besides, if the holy place (qodesh) in Daniel 8:14 that is “restored,” “put right,” or even “justified” after 2,300 “years” is a heavenly one, then the context demands that it be the same qodesh that was “trampled” in 8:13. How could a “trampling” take place by a mere human king of a qodesh in heaven? If we admit that is impossible, it is equally impossible for 8:14 to refer to the heavenly sanctuary. The immediate context therefore demands that the qodesh in 8:14 is that in the temple at Jerusalem, not an allegorically-supplied one in heaven.
An Earth-based Chazown
Another advantage of keeping the sanctuary tied to the earthly plane is because the chazown in Daniel 8 is Earth-based. Gabriel says matter-of-factly that the vision deals with kings of Media, Persia and Greece (8:20–21), with no indication it includes any other nations or events in heaven. If we use other visions of Daniel as an interpretive guide, the statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s vision in Daniel 2 clearly has the third kingdom of bronze referring to Greece, while the fourth “strong as iron” world kingdom in 2:40 refers to the Roman Empire. Likewise, in 7:6 the third, four-headed leopard-beast in that vision corresponds to Greece, while the fourth beast of 7:7, “dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong,” having “large iron teeth” and “ten horns,” is clearly the Roman Empire. There is no doubt that the visions of chapters 2 and 7 include a reference to the Romans.
Then we come to chapter 8, where the goat clearly refers to the empire of Greece and the horns refer to four Grecian kingdoms arising from it. Verse 8:21 says the large horn represents the first individual king of the empire, and is without dissent Alexander the Great. In keeping with the horn imagery within the context, the remaining horns are all connected with the kingdom of Greece. Then what does it say in 8:9? “Out of one of them”—that is, out of a kingdom belonging to one of the four generals of Alexander—“came forth a rather small horn.” This is the point where, if the pattern seen in Daniel 2 and 7 held, we would expect a mention of the Roman Empire to come into the picture as an animal of some sort distinct from the goat, preferably with some mention of iron. But all we have is a “rather small horn”—and it was of Greek extraction! If the “rather small horn” is Rome, from which of the four Greek generals did the Roman Empire arise? None. We cannot build the entire case for the “rather small horn” being the Roman Empire only on the ambiguous second half of 8:9, “which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Beautiful Land,” as some do. The first part of the verse is at least as important as the second. Those who wish to see Rome referenced in Daniel 8:9b must also present a solid exegetical case for how the Romans better fulfill 8:9a than Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Seleucid king whose campaigns in Egypt (south); Persia, Parthia and Armenia (east); and Palestine (the “Beautiful Land”), also fulfilled 8.9b. (The paper, “The Stability of the Seleucid Empire under Antiochus IV” at http://stars.library.ucf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2659&context=honorstheses1990-2015, discusses all three of these campaigns by Antiochus.)
The bottom line is, we cannot interpret the second half of Daniel 8:9 without also doing careful exegesis of the first half of the verse. And by clearly indicating the “rather small horn” arose from a Greek kingdom, the first half does not support equating it with Italian Rome. Its description as a “rather small horn” also clashes with the “powerful as iron” beast representations of Rome in the visions of Daniel 2 and 7.
The Testimony of Josephus
Yet another reason why we should reject Rome as being the “rather small horn” in Daniel 8 comes from Josephus. In Antiquities 12.7.6 (Loeb 12.321–22) he wrote:
This desolation happened to the temple in the hundred forty and fifth year, on the twenty-fifth day of the month Apelleus, and on the hundred fifty and third olympiad; but it was dedicated anew, on the same day, the twenty-fifth of the month Apelleus, on the hundred and forty-eighth year, and on the hundred and fifty-fourth olympiad. And this desolation came to pass according to the prophecy of Daniel, which was given four hundred and eight years before; for he declared that the Macedonians would dissolve that worship [for some time] (emphasis added).
We see that Josephus assigned the “relatively small horn” of Daniel that disrupted the sanctuary to “the Macedonians.” This obviously refers to Antiochus Epiphanes, and constitutes important historical testimony against the Rome interpretation.
Contextual Clues from Daniel 7
Now let us see if the surrounding context supports interpreting Daniel 8:9 as 2,300 tamiyd offerings. I asked this question of the text: “Can a ‘rather small horn’ arise from ‘winds’ in Daniel 8:8?” Or better, since both “winds” and “horns” are used figuratively, which is more likely: that “them” refers to preexisting kings, or to compass directions?
Since Daniel 7 is written in Aramaic, we cannot directly compare its words with chapter 8, which was written in Hebrew. Nevertheless, the descriptions used for the various “beasts” in the vision of chapter 7 allow us to confidently match up their symbolic attributes with Babylon (the winged lion), the Medo-Persian empire (the bear), the Greeks (the four-headed leopard), and Rome (the ten-horned dreadful beast with iron teeth). I am unaware of any who disagree that the fourth beast represents Rome. Where disagreements come in is how to identify the kings or political entities represented by the ten horns and the “little horn” which arises from the ten; but for our purposes it is enough to say that the fourth beast of Daniel 7 is Rome and entities arising from its empire.
The question before us is whether the context of Daniel 7 indicates that the “little horn” there is the same as the “rather small horn” in Daniel 8. Verses 7–8 tell us how the “little horn” in Daniel 7 arose:
7After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. 8While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it...
Daniel 7 begins with ten horns on the head of a dreadful beast. They symbolically represent ten kings or kingdoms. After them a little horn comes up among the existing ten, displacing three that had already existed. Now compare this with what happens in Daniel 8:8–9a:
8Then the male goat magnified himself exceedingly. But as soon as he was mighty, the large horn was broken; and in its place there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven. 9Out of one of them came forth a rather small horn…
Again we begin with a number of pre-existing horns, four in this case. Again we have a little horn arising from a previous group of horns. Completely apart from our earlier word study, and just using the example of apocalyptic imagery of chapter 7 as a general guide, would we not expect that the pronoun “them” in verse 8:8 refers to the four horns? This is not to say that the small horns in both cases must have identical symbolism—the symbols must be contextually defined within each self-contained chazown vision—but only that in both cases, we see that new horns arise from others that pre-existed. In each vision a group of horns gives way to a single small horn of special significance. This contextual consideration, together with the fact that the four-wind distribution is tied to the four generals of Alexander, indicates that “them” in Daniel 8:9 does not refer to the four “winds,” as some have proposed, but to the four “horns.” The imagery requires the small horn to arise from a pre-existing horn, not a wind. The four winds are the four directions in which Alexander’s four generals parceled up the Greek empire among themselves after his death. They have no direct connection with the single “rather small horn.”
What about Gabriel’s Explanation of the Vision of Daniel 8?
Rather than focusing almost exclusively on grammar-centered matters to understand Daniel 8:8–14, in my opinion we should be more interested in how the angel Gabriel explains the vision, since he was delegated with that task and had comprehensive knowledge of what it meant. In Maxwell’s book there is hardly anything about what Gabriel says. On page 159 he writes:
But of course the Bible doesn’t state that the little horn of Daniel 8 is Antiochus Epiphanes, and there are many ways in which he does not fit the prophecy at all. Horns represent kingdoms, and he was only an individual king—a part of one of the four horns. He did not appear at the “latter end” of the Seleucid kingdom (Daniel 8:23) but approximately in the middle of the line of Seleucid kings… And he did not really “prosper” (verse 12) or grow “exceedingly great” (verse 9) (emphasis in original).
The only thing in that statement directly connected with Gabriel’s explanation of the vision is the reference to 8:23, so we will ignore the comments about 8:9 and 8:12. Here is the angel’s information in Daniel 8, with crucial information bolded:
16And I heard the voice of a man between the banks of Ulai, and he called out and said, “Gabriel, give this man an understanding of the vision.” 17So he came near to where I was standing, and when he came I was frightened and fell on my face; but he said to me, “Son of man, understand that the vision pertains to the time of the end.” 18Now while he was talking with me, I sank into a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me and made me stand upright. 19He said, “Behold, I am going to let you know what will occur at the final period of the indignation, for it pertains to the appointed time of the end. 20The ram which you saw with the two horns represents the kings of Media and Persia. 21The shaggy goat represents the kingdom of Greece, and the large horn that is between his eyes is the first king [Alexander the Great; this horn is equated with a specific king, not a kingdom]. 22The broken horn and the four horns that arose in its place represent four kingdoms which will arise from his nation, although not with his power [the kingdoms of Lysimachus, Cassander, Seleucus and Ptolemy]. 23In the latter period of their [those four kingdoms, not just their first kings] rule, when the transgressors have run their course, a king will arise [an individual, the “rather small horn”], insolent and skilled in intrigue…
The information given in the vision must be interpreted in the light of what Gabriel says about it. He identifies the principle parties as the kingdom of Greece, its first king (Alexander), and four smaller kingdoms which arise out of Alexander’s large one. In the “latter period” of these four kingdoms—“latter period” is very subjective, but it requires all four kingdoms to still exist, so it was before their assimilation into the Roman Empire—an individual king would arise from one of those four Greek kingdoms. By comparing this explanation with the vision, it is clear that the “rather small horn” must arise from a Grecian kingdom. I do not think there is any way to accept Gabriel’s explanation and still claim that the “rather small horn” could be a Roman, or that it arose from a “wind” rather than a “horn.”
It follows that the rationale for equating the “rather small horn” with Rome in Daniel 8 is eliminated contextually as well as by grammar and word study considerations. There remains no objective reason to justify interpreting “evening-morning” in Daniel 8 allegorically, as anything other than “the regular” offered up twice a day by the Levites in the temple. Instead of trying to find a way to fit 2,300 years into the eschatology derived from Daniel, it would be far more fruitful to seek a way to explain how 2,300 “evening-mornings” were fulfilled in Antiochus Epiphanes.
Reconciling Daniel’s 2,300 Evening-Mornings with 1 Maccabees
Having accumulated what I think is sufficient evidence that the proper way to interpret the 2,300 “evening-mornings” of Daniel 8:14 is as 1,150 days of twice-daily whole burnt offerings, it is time to seek a different way of connecting it with the history recorded in 1 Maccabees than that offered by Fred Miller. In reviewing 1 Maccabees carefully, I belatedly realized I had overlooked something important: “the regular” was interrupted sometime before the pagan altar was erected, so the 1,150 days should be counted from that earlier time. The burnt offerings were stopped by Antiochus prior to the desecration of the temple. The vision of Daniel 8 encompasses the full amount of time the burnt offerings were interrupted, but the dates given in 1 Maccabees only cover the period between the desolation of the altar and its restoration. 1 Maccabees does not specify the date when offerings ceased before the abomination was set up. This is why the number of missed sacrifices between the abomination and rededication is less than the 2,300 given in Daniel 8. Here is a condensation of 1 Maccabees 1, using the RSVA version found online at https://www.biblestudytools.com/rsva/1-maccabees/1.html, with some significant information emphasized:
7And after Alexander had reigned twelve years, he died. 8Then his officers began to rule, each in his own place. 9They all put on crowns after his death, and so did their sons after them for many years; and they caused many evils on the earth. 10From them came forth a sinful root, Antiochus Epiphanes, son of Antiochus the king; he had been a hostage in Rome. He began to reign in the one hundred and thirty-seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks…
20After subduing Egypt, Antiochus returned [to Israel] in the one hundred and forty-third year. He went up against Israel and came to Jerusalem with a strong force. 21He arrogantly entered the sanctuary and took the golden altar, the lampstand for the light, and all its utensils… 24Taking them all, he departed to his own land…
29Two years later [145 SE] the king sent to the cities of Judah a chief collector of tribute, and he came to Jerusalem with a large force… 31He plundered the city, burned it with fire, and tore down its houses and its surrounding walls. 32And they took captive the women and children, and seized the cattle. 33Then they fortified the city of David with a great strong wall and strong towers, and it became their citadel. 34And they stationed there a sinful people, lawless men. These strengthened their position; 35they stored up arms and food, and collecting the spoils of Jerusalem they stored them there, and became a great snare. 36 It became an ambush against the sanctuary, an evil adversary of Israel continually. 37On every side of the sanctuary they shed innocent blood; they even defiled the sanctuary. 38Because of them the residents of Jerusalem fled; she became a dwelling of strangers; she became strange to her offspring, and her children forsook her. 39Her sanctuary became desolate as a desert…
41Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, 42and that each should give up his customs… 44And the king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the cities of Judah; he directed them to follow customs strange to the land, 45to forbid burnt offerings and sacrifices and drink offerings in the sanctuary, to profane sabbaths and feasts, 46to defile the sanctuary and the priests, 47to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols, to sacrifice swine and unclean animals, 48and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane, 49so that they should forget the law and change all the ordinances. 50“And whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die.” 51In such words he wrote to his whole kingdom. And he appointed inspectors over all the people and commanded the cities of Judah to offer sacrifice, city by city… 54Now on the fifteenth day of Chislev, in the one hundred and forty-fifth year, they erected a desolating sacrilege upon the altar of burnt offering… 59And on the twenty-fifth day of the month they offered sacrifice on the altar which was upon the altar of burnt offering.
To summarize, this extended reading of 1 Maccabees indicates the following occurred:
(1) In 143 SE, Antiochus took away the golden altar in the temple. Technically this altar was only stolen, and in light of later verses we may assume that after Antiochus departed for his homeland, that altar was promptly replaced. This was most likely a simple altar of undressed stones (1 Macc. 4:47).
(2) Two years then passed, after which we learn that “a chief collector of tribute” arrived in Jerusalem with a large force in 145 SE. He wreaked havoc around the temple, posting troops in the city and defiling the sanctuary. This would necessarily have caused “the regular” to cease, since offerings could never be given if the holy place was defiled by the entry of unclean Gentiles. The result was that “her sanctuary became desolate” at that time and the people forsook worshiping there. This is when we should understand the ha-tamiyd offerings were interrupted. However, the exact date this began, as far as I can tell, is nowhere given in the histories.
(3) Shortly after this official letters arrived, which decreed that burnt offerings were to cease and altars replaced by pagan altars on which unclean animals were to be sacrificed. “Inspectors” were appointed to ensure compliance with Antiochus’ diktat. The result was that they “erected a desolating sacrilege upon the altar of burnt offering.” “The regular” ha-tamiyd, however, had already been stopped earlier by “a chief collector of tribute.” So we have the cessation of “the regular” sometime prior to the desecration of the altar, a desecration triggered by erecting a pagan altar on it, which was first used ten days after it was set up.
(4) Three 354-day years and one or two 30-day intercalary months after this, the Maccabees were victorious over the Seleucid forces and rebuilt the altar, rededicated it, and resumed “the regular” once again. This fulfilled the prophecy of Daniel 8:14.
As discussed earlier, the Jewish use of the Metonic cycle indicates that less than 2,300 “evening-morning” offerings were missed between the desolation and restoration of the altar—perhaps 2,264 or 2,204. Either way, the remaining missed regular burnt offerings of the 2,300 fell between the desecrating of the sanctuary by “a chief collector of tribute” and the erection of the “abomination of desolation” on the altar by a later ‘inspector.” Precision may elude us in the historical data, yet all of the data of both history and Scripture still smoothly reconcile with each other. And that is what matters.
This study has looked in rather great depth at two questions: the nature of the 2,300 evening-mornings of Daniel 8:14, and how to reconcile the passage with the historical record of 1 Maccabees. In contrast with Miller’s proposal, the solution put forth here does not allow one to come to the precise answer Miller’s solution seemed to promise. As a former draftsman and computer programmer, I have always valued precision. I have found, though, we have to be content with only as much precision as the actual evidence God has preserved for us allows. Exactness cannot be an end in itself. In this particular case, I think there is an overwhelming amount of historical, grammatical and contextual evidence which, when viewed with unbiased eyes, indicates that reading 2,300 years into the “evening-mornings” of Daniel 8:14 is not justified by the inspired text. It should thus play no role in seeking an accurate understanding of the prophecy of Daniel 9:24–27.
Download PDF version here: A Closer Look: Daniel 8:14 Re-examined