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Daniel 8 is from the Book of Daniel in the Bible.

According to the document, in the third year of King Belshazzar's reign Daniel had a vision. This one was about 2 years after the one in chapter 7 and apparently just before Belshazzar is killed as described in chapter 5. In vision, Daniel saw himself in the citadel of Susa in the province of Elam, beside the Ulai Canal.


The Vision

Standing in front of Daniel beside the canal was a ram with two long horns—one was longer than the other but grew up later. The ram charged toward the west and the north and the south. He did as he pleased and became great.

Suddenly a goat with a prominent horn between his eyes came from the west, crossing the whole earth without touching the ground. He charged the two-horned ram in great rage—furiously striking the ram and shattering his two horns. The goat knocked the ram to the ground and trampled on him. But at the height of the goat's power his large horn was broken off. In its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven.

Another horn came out of one of them. It started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host. It took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low. Because of rebellion, the host of the saints and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. Truth was thrown to the ground.

Someone in the vision asked "How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled—the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, and the surrender of the sanctuary and of the host that will be trampled underfoot?" He was answered, "It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated."

Principles of Interpretation

Principles of interpretations are rules for interpreting the prophecies of Daniel. The following are derived by either direct explanation or deduced from examples.


Beasts represent kingdoms

This principle comes from direct explanation:

  • The two-horns of the ram represent the kings of Media and Persia. The ram is the population from which stemmed both the Medes and the Persians. (Daniel 8:20)
  • The shaggy goat is the "king of Greece". (Daniel 8:21)

Note that the earliest (pre-Theodotion) Greek versions and the Qumran edition read "kingdom" at several points where Theodotion and the later Masoretic traditions have "king".

This principle is similar to that found in Chapter 7.

An animal's horn may represent both a king and a kingdom

This principle is derived from examples and by direct statement.

Three examples are given.

  • “the large horn ... is the first king.” (Daniel 8:21)
  • “The four horns ... represent four kingdoms...” (Daniel 8:22)
  • “Out of one of them came another horn...” (Daniel 8:9)

This same principle is also found in Chapter 7.

Identifications of the Kingdoms and the Little Horn

The Scholarly view

In Daniel 2, the first kingdom is identified as the existing realm at the time of the vision, i.e. Babylon. This vision occurred during the reign of Babylon's Belshazzar, but its first kingdom was the first horn of the ram, i.e. Media, followed by the second horn, the kingdom of Persia. This is probably because Babylon was soon to fall to Darius the Mede as recorded in the account of Chapter 5.

The Goat kingdom is identified as the kingdom of Greece and the "large horn" (Dan. 8:21) is believed to be Alexander the Great.

As Daniel put it, the little horn would come from 'one of them', usually understood as referring to one of the four horns that replaced the 'notable horn', though some maintain it refers to the four winds [1]. A strong scholarly consensus[2], as well as most Jewish and Christian commentaries[3][4] hold that the "little horn" refers to Antiochus Epiphanes, since he came from the Seleucid empire, which was one of the four empires that came to power after Alexander died. He seized the Seleucid Kingdom "through intrigue", took away the 'daily sacrifice' (Tamid; see Kodashim) in 167 BC, and committed the 'abomination of desolation'. He made it illegal to follow the Judaic laws, with the penalty of death.[5] The temple was reconsecrated in 164 BC, 2300 mornings and evenings, i.e. 1150 days, from the time Antiochus began his persecution of the Jews (167-164 BC).

Dating and authorship

The weight of scholarly opinion views the Book of Daniel as a pseudepigraphic apocalypse written around 167–164 BC and predated to enhance its credibility.[2][6] Nonetheless, some traditionalist Christian commentators hold to a 6th century date with the author being the prophet Daniel as the book itself claims (e.g. Dan. 1:1, 6; 4:8; 9:2). They argue that in Matthew 24:15-16 Jesus accepted the prophet Daniel as the author. Some Christians also interpreted the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE as a fulfillment of the abomination of desolation: "So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel-- let the reader understand-- then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains". While Jewish tradition also accepted the prophet Daniel as the author (Sanh. 93b; Pirḳe R. El. lii.), it never included Daniel among the Prophets in the arrangement of Hebrew bible as Torah, Prophets(Nevi'im) and Books(Ketuvim), but among the Books.

Literary Parallels

Because of parallel terminology found both in Daniel 11 and Daniel 8, scholars have long interpreted Daniel 8 by Daniel 11. Both liberal and conservative scholars see in Daniel 11 predictions of the whole sweep of events from the reign of Cyrus to the unsuccessful effort of Antiochus Epiphanes to stamp out the Jewish faith. [7]. This interpretation of Daniel 11 is then applied to Daniel 8 because of the following parallels.

Literary Parallels attributed by scholars to Alexander the Great
Chapter 11 Chapter 8
11:3 A mighty king 8:21 Goat/Large Horn.
11:3 He will rule with great power 8:8 The goat became very great.
11:4 His empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven 8:8 His large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven.
Literary Parallels attributed by scholars to Antiochus Epiphanes
Chapter 11 Chapter 8
11:3-21 He came from one of the four divisions of the Greek empire 8:8-9, 8:21-23 He came from one of the four divisions of the Greek empire.
11:36 He will exalt and magnify himself above every god 8:11 He set himself up to be as great as the Prince of the host.
11:36 He will say unheard-of things against the God of gods 8:24 He will consider himself superior.
11:31 He will desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice 8:11 He brought the sanctuary low and took away the daily sacrifice.
11:25-29 11:41 He will invade the South and the Beautiful Land 8:9 He grew in power to the South and to the East and toward the Beautiful Land.
11:32-33 The Godly and wise people who resist him, will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered. 8:24 He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people.
11:31 He will set up the abomination that causes desolation 8:13 His rebellion causes desolation.
11:23 He will act deceitfully 8:25 He causes deceit to prosper.
11:21 He will seize the kingdom through intrigue 8:23 He is a master of intrigue.
11:21 He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure 8:25 He will destroy many, when they feel secure.
11:37 He will will exalt himself above all gods 8:10 It grew until it reached the host of the heavens.
11:22 He destroyed the prince of the covenant 8:25 He will take his stand against the Prince of princes.
11:23 With only a few people he will rise to power.
11:24 He will achieve what neither his fathers nor his forefathers did
8:24 He will become very strong, but not by his own power.
11:36 He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed 8:24 He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does.
11:45 He will come to his end, and no one will help him 8:25 He will be destroyed, but not by human power.

Interpretations of Little Horn as Antiochus

The scholarly majority view of the date of writing of this vision is shortly prior to the death of Antiochus and the re-dedication of the temple of Jerusalem in 164 BCE. If this is correct one could understand the writer from the perspective of seeing the Seleucid persecution first hand and perceiving that he was living in the end time.

Daniel 8:9

  • Came out of “one of them” (ie horns[8]). Antiochus was from one of the four kingdoms
  • “grew exceedingly great,” Yes, if understood from the viewpoint of Judea.
  • grew towards the south. Antiochus fought two successful wars against Egypt
  • grew towards the Glorious Land. Judea was left in peace until Antiochus invaded
  • grew great towards the East. Antiochus had success against Media and Armenia
  • sequence of growth – south, east, Glorious Land. Antiochus' captured Egypt, invaded Judea, campaigned in the east

Dan. 8:10

  • He threw down some of the host. Yes

Dan. 8:11

  • sacrifices removed. Antiochus is the only king known to specifically have stopped sacrifices
  • acted arrogantly against the prince of the host. Yes, Antiochus removed the high priest

Dan. 8:12

  • sanctuary cast down. Yes, metaphorically.
  • little horn Prospered. Antiochus collected great booty from Egypt then cleaned out the temple in Jerusalem
  • timeframe, 1150 days. approximate duration of the persecution

Dan. 8:17

  • vision to time of the end. From the writer's viewpoint.

Dan. 8:23

  • bold king shall arise. Antiochus
  • a king.. skilled in intrigue. Fits Antiochus [1]

Dan. 8:24

  • his power shall be mighty. powerful at the time
  • he will destroy fearfully; destroy the holy people Antiochus tore down the walls and the houses [2] and had anyone who continued to worship God executed

Dan. 8:25

  • he shall make deceit prosper. Those who connived with Antiochus made their own profit.
  • in his own mind he shall be great. Antiochus changed his name to Antiochus Theos Epiphanes Nikephorus, ie Antiochus the god manifest, the victory-bringer"
  • without warning he shall destroy many. Yes.
  • he shall be broken, but not by human hands. Antiochus died of a disease, not killed

Historicist view

The historicist interpretation of Daniel 8 was once held by all Protestant churches during the Reformation. Today, Seventh-day Adventists (SDAs) are the largest church denomination still following the traditional Protestant historicist teaching that Daniel was the author in 500 BC, that Papal Rome is identified as the symbolic little horn power of Daniel 8:9-12 defiled the heavenly sanctuary by substituting its own priesthood and other fulfillment.

In addition, SDAs understand the "cleansing of the sanctuary" after 2300 "days" of Daniel 8:14 to refer to a divine pre-advent judgement which is being conducted during the "time of the end" starting in the year 1844 and lasting until the second coming of Jesus.

SDA interpretation of Daniel 8 in relation to other prophecies in Daniel

SDAs recognize, as do Scholars, the literary parallels between Daniel 8 and Daniel 11-12. In fact, SDAs note, following the lead of the Protestant Historicist reformers, similar parallels between Daniel 2, 7, 8 and 11-12. Starting in Daniel 2 and progressing logically in order to chapters 11-12, a complete synthesis can be found. (The scholars start with chapter 11 and work backwards to chapter 8.)

A typical Historicist SDA interpretation of Daniel 2, 7, 8 and 11-12 is:

Chapter Parallel sequence of prophetic elements as understood by conservatives[9][10]
The Past We are here The Future
Daniel 2 Head
Chest & 2 arms
Belly and thighs
2 Legs
2 Feet with toes
Clay & Iron
God's unending kingdom
left to no other people
Daniel 7 Winged Lion Lopsided Bear 4 Headed/4 Winged
Iron toothed beast
w/Little Horn
Judgment scene
Beast slain
A son of man comes in clouds
Given everlasting dominion
He gives it to the saints.[11]
Daniel 8 2-horned Ram
Uni- / 4-horned Goat
4 Winds (Greece)
Little Horn
A Master of Intrigue
Cleansing of Sanctuary
Leads to:
(Kingdom of God)
Daniel 11-12 Kings
North & South Kings
4 Winds (Greece)
North & South Kings
A Contemptible
Person of Intrigue
Pagan & Papal Rome
North & South Kings
End Times
Global religio-political
Michael stands up
Many dead awake
To everlasting life

(This is, by necessity of space, a simplification)

Interpretation of the legs, Iron-toothed beast, and little horn is more complex than can easily be shown in such a simplistic diagram. A quick overview: in chapter 2 the legs and feet are often interpreted to be pagan and papal Rome. The ugly beast of chapter 7 is identified as pagan Rome and it's little horn is papal Rome. The little horn of chapter 8 is considered the parallel of the little horn in chapter 7, and so, is also papal Rome.[12]

The differences between historicist interpretation and the scholarly interpretation lie primarily in the starting point. Scholars start with chapter 11 and apparent similarities with the life of Antiochus and then interpret parallels with Daniel 8 accordingly. The Historicist interpretation starts with Daniel 2 and the interpretation of the other parallel prophecies are built upon that foundation. As a result, the arguments between the two interpretations of Daniel often end up talking past each other.

1844 and the pre-advent judgment

The pre-advent judgment is computed to have begun in 1844 based on fulfillment of the 70 Weeks and 2300 day prophecies.

Beginning of the 70 Weeks: The third decree in 457 BC marks beginning of 70 weeks. King reigns were counted from New Year to New Year following an 'Accession Year'. The Persian New Year began in Nisan (March-April). The Jewish civil New Year began in Tishri (September-October).
Ending of the 70 Weeks: Tiberius Caesar began ruling in the Fall of 13 AD. His 15th year began in the Fall of 27 AD, which also marks the end of the 69 weeks and the baptism of Jesus. The Gospel went to "My people" for 490 years, then it went to the Gentiles also.
The 2300 day prophecy time line.

Coming out of the 19th century Millerite movement, Seventh-day Adventists placed strong emphasis on understanding the historical fulfillment of the 70 weeks and the 2300 day prophecies.

The 70 weeks prophecy starts with the decree (by Artaxerxes in his 7th year) that allowed for Jerusalem to be restored and rebuilt[13]. Two previous decrees only dealt with the construction of the Temple,[14][15] Artaxerxes' 7th year began in 457 BC as counted by the Jewish civil calendar.

The length of the prophetic 69 weeks[16] is 483 prophetic days.[17] Citing other prophecies where a prophetic day represents a literal year, [18][19] SDAs, following the Millerite lead, set the 483 prophetic days to 483 literal years. Thus, the ending year of the 69 weeks is calculated as: -457 BC + 483 yrs + 1 yr (for switch from BC to AD) = 27 AD.

Daniel 9:25 states that the Anointed One, the Messiah, would come at the end of the 69 weeks which ended in 27 AD. In Luke's narrative, Jesus began his ministry after his baptism[20] by John.[21] John began baptizing in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar[22] which began, according to history, in 27 AD. Thus the ministry of Jesus began in 27 AD precisely at the end of the 69 weeks.

After the 69 weeks the "Anointed One will be cut off."[23] After the end of the 69 weeks, Jesus died on the cross confirming the first Biblical covenant--"He will confirm a covenant with many for one seven."[24]

Daniel 9:27 says "In the middle of the seven he will put an end to sacrifice and offering." Jesus was baptized in the Fall of 27 AD and died in the Spring (Easter) of 31 AD -- 3 1/2 years later. At the time of Jesus' death the 4 inch (10 cm) thick curtain between the Holy and Most Holy Places in the temple was ripped from top to bottom[25][26][27] signifying the end of the earthly temple's sacrificial system. Type had met anti-type.

The stoning of Stephen[28] and the conversion of Saul[29] marked the beginning of the gospel to the Gentiles. The 70 weeks were for "My people",[30] i.e., the Jewish nation. At the end of the 70th week in 34 AD, Paul began taking the gospel to the Gentiles also.

Besides being concerned with the Anointed One, the 70 week prophecy also talks about the restoration of Jerusalem and its destruction again. In about 536 BC, the first returning Jewish exiles began work on reconstructing the Temple. After much opposition by local governments, the work began in earnest in about 520 BC. It was finished in 515 BC. The city was somewhat restored, but it was not until 444 BC that the walls were completed by Nehemiah amidst raids by opposition parties.[31]

In 70 AD, not long after Jesus' crucifixion and the Gospel going also to the Gentiles, the Temple was burned down and Jerusalem destroyed by Roman armies under the leadership of future Emperor Titus son of Emperor Vespasian (the people of the prince to come) . As Jesus predicted, 'not one stone would stand on another,' the massive Temple foundation stones were pried apart by soldiers to get melted Temple gold that had run down cracks.

According to SDA eschatology, the 70 weeks were "decreed" (actually "cut off") for the Jewish people from the 2300-day prophecy of Daniel 8:14. The 70 weeks, therefore, marks the first part of the 2300-day prophecy.

And so the 2300 days end in 1844 as calculated from the same starting point as the 70 weeks: -457 BC + 2300 yrs + 1 yr (for switch from BC to AD) = 1844 AD. Although the Millerites originally thought that 1844 represented the end of the world, those who later became SDAs reached the conclusion that 1844 marked the beginning of a divine pre-advent judgment called "the cleansing of the sanctuary".

Other views

Some also speculate that the other horn that rises after Alexander is Muhammad[32] or the Papacy, however none of these individuals came from one of the four kingdoms(Diadochi) that succeeded Alexander the Great.

See also


  1. ^ These latter showing a problem in understanding the Hebrew, when they try to shift the masculine pronoun "them" from the four (horns) to the four winds because the latter is sometimes masculine. Waltke and O'Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax, p.302 say "The masculine pronoun is often used for a feminine antecedent". The relevant verbs, עלה and יצא do not help shift the reference of the pronoun in 8:9 onto the four winds.
  2. ^ a b When Time Shall be No More By Paul S. Boyer, pp. 28-31
  3. ^ Christian commentaries on Daniel 8:9
  4. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia: Book of Daniel
  5. ^ 1 Maccabees 1:20-63
  6. ^ A Letter that Has Not Been Read By Shaul Bar, p. 211
  7. ^ Expositor’s, p. 143
  8. ^ The pronoun "them" refers not to the winds (רוחות), but to the four (horns), the topic of the previous sentence. The little horn grew out of one of the four.
  9. ^ Smith, U., 1944, Daniel and Revelation, Southern Publishing Association, Nashvill, TN
  10. ^ Anderson, A., 1975, Pacific PRess Pub. Assoc., Unfolding Daniel's Prophecies, Mountain View, CA
  11. ^ Daniel 7:13-27 see verses 13, 14, 22, 27
  12. ^ Studies which explain in detail the reasons behind these conclusions can be found on-line.
  13. ^ Ezra 7:15-26
  14. ^ Ezra 1:2
  15. ^ Ezra 6:3
  16. ^ 7 weeks + 62 weeks=69 weeks
  17. ^ 69 weeks * 7 day/week = 483 days
  18. ^ Numbers 14:34
  19. ^ Ezekiel 4:5-6
  20. ^ Luke 3:23
  21. ^ Luke 3:21
  22. ^ Luke 3:1-2
  23. ^ Daniel 9:25
  24. ^ Daniel 9:27
  25. ^ Matt. 27:51
  26. ^ Mark 15:38
  27. ^ Luke 23:45
  28. ^ Acts 7:54-59
  29. ^ Acts 9
  30. ^ Daniel 9:24
  31. ^ Nichol, F., ed., 1954, SDA Bible Commentary, chronology chart, pg. 326-327
  32. ^ Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary


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