Bible Study: Daniel 8 – Hanukkah

The book of Daniel is one of the most prophetic books in the old testament. It has been sealed until the time of the end. Undoubtedly, now is the time of the end. Therefore, let us not be hypocrites without discerning this time and let us unseal the book of Daniel.

(Dan 12:4) “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”

(Luke 12:56) “Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how [is it] you do not discern this time?

The eighth chapter of Daniel is the vision of desolations and rededication of the Temple which is celebrated by Jews until this day as Hanukkah.

Introduction

Shushan Location (ref: bible-history.com)

(Dan 8:1-2) In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me–to me, Daniel–after the one that appeared to me the first time. I saw in the vision, and it so happened while I was looking, that I was in Shushan, the citadel, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in the vision that I was by the River Ulai.

Belshazzar was Coregent of Babylon, governing the country after his father, King Nabonidus, went into exile in 550 BC which is based on Wikipedia. This suggests clearly that the time when this vision appeared to Daniel is 552 BC.

Dream & Interpretation

The below tabulation helps to compare and understand the vision and it’s interpretation.

Daniel 8:1-14 (Vision) Daniel 8:15-24 (Interpretation)
NARRATION (Dan 8:1-2) In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me–to me, Daniel–after the one that appeared to me the first time. I saw in the vision, and it so happened while I was looking, that I was in Shushan, the citadel, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in the vision that I was by the River Ulai. (Dan 8:15-19) Then it happened, when I, Daniel, had seen the vision and was seeking the meaning, that suddenly there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, who called, and said, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.” So he came near where I stood, and when he came I was afraid and fell on my face; but he said to me, “Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end.” Now, as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me, and stood me upright. And he said, “Look, I am making known to you what shall happen in the latter time of the indignation; for at the appointed time the end [shall be.]
ACHAEMENID EMPIRE
(550 BC–330 BC)
(Dan 8:3-4) Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and there, standing beside the river, was a ram which had two horns, and the two horns [were] high; but one [was] higher than the other, and the higher [one] came up last. I saw the ram pushing westward, northward, and southward, so that no animal could withstand him; nor [was there any] that could deliver from his hand, but he did according to his will and became great. (Dan 8:20) “The ram which you saw, having the two horns — [they are] the kings of Media and Persia.
[Alexander the Great]
MACEDONIA
(808 BC – 168 BC)
(Dan 8:5-7) And as I was considering, suddenly a male goat came from the west, across the surface of the whole earth, without touching the ground; and the goat [had] a notable horn between his eyes. Then he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing beside the river, and ran at him with furious power. And I saw him confronting the ram; he was moved with rage against him, attacked the ram, and broke his two horns. There was no power in the ram to withstand him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled him; and there was no one that could deliver the ram from his hand. (Dan 8:21) “And the male goat [is] the kingdom of Greece. The large horn that [is] between its eyes [is] the first king.
[Ptolemy I Soter]
PTOLEMAIC KINGDOM
(305 BC–30 BC)

[Cassander]
ANTIPATRID DYNASTY
(302 BC – 294 BC)

[Lysimachus]
KINGDOM OF LYSIMACHUS
(306 BC – 281 BC)

[Seleucus I Nicator]
SELEUCID EMPIRE
(312 BC – 63 BC)

(Dan 8:8) Therefore the male goat grew very great; but when he became strong, the large horn was broken, and in place of it four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven. (Dan 8:22) “As for the broken [horn] and the four that stood up in its place, four kingdoms shall arise out of that nation, but not with its power.
MACCABEAN REVOLT
(167 BC – 160 BC)
(Dan 8:9-14) And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious [Land.] And it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down [some] of the host and [some] of the stars to the ground, and trampled them. He even exalted [himself] as high as the Prince of the host; and by him the daily sacrifices were taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down. Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices; and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered. Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said to that certain one who was speaking, “How long will the vision be, concerning the daily sacrifices and the transgression of desolation, the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled under foot?” And he said to me, “For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.” (Dan 8:23-24) And in the latter time of their kingdom, When the transgressors have reached their fullness, A king shall arise, Having fierce features, Who understands sinister schemes. His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; He shall destroy fearfully, And shall prosper and thrive; He shall destroy the mighty, and [also] the holy people. Through his cunning He shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule; And he shall exalt [himself] in his heart. He shall destroy many in [their] prosperity. He shall even rise against the Prince of princes; But he shall be broken without human means.

The vision is about the latter time of indignation or anger. This is not referring to end times. Hence, we need to understand what indignation is it referring to. The indignation or latter time refers to the hellenization which is the historical spread of ancient Greek culture and, to a lesser extent, language, over foreign peoples conquered by Greece or brought into its sphere of influence, particularly during the period following the campaigns of Alexander the Great. This involves Greek customs that are sinful and contrary to the law given by God.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes

Antiochus IV Epiphanes who ruled the Seleucid Empire from 175–164 BC is identified as the little horn who stopped the daily sacrifices and caused the transgression of desolation by dedicating the temple to Zeus and trampled it underfoot.

2300 days of Desolation

(Dan 8:14) And he saith unto me, Till evening–morning two thousand and three hundred, then is the holy place declared right (YLT).

The Young’s Literal Translation says, it is just evening-morning 2300. This means the 2 sacrifices done each day. Hence, the actual number if days is: 1150. If we read Maccabees, which is never read by Christians, we can understand it fulfills with great accuracy.

(I Mac 1:54) Now the fifteenth day of the month Casleu, in the hundred forty and fifth year, they set up the abomination of desolation upon the altar, and builded idol altars throughout the cities of Juda on every side 

(I Mac 4:52,53) Now on the five and twentieth day of the ninth month, which is called the month Casleu, in the hundred forty and eighth year, they rose up betimes in the morning, And offered sacrifice according to the law upon the new altar of burnt offerings, which they had made.

Based on the above verses from Maccabees, we infer the following:

  • Abomination of desolation setup: 15th day of the 9th month of the 145th year
  • Morning-Evening sacrifices restored: 25th day of the 9th month of the 148th year

Total time frame without daily sacrifices = 3 years and 10 days (or 1090 days). However, the prophecy says it is 1150 days. Now, the question is which one is true? The easiest way is to compare against itself because the prophecy must be true.

According to Maccabees, the daily sacrifices were stopped for 3 years and 10 days but according to prophecy, it is 1150 days. Hence, 3 years should be 1140 days, which gives 38 months in total for 3 years. However, 3 years have only 36 months on a 360-day/year calendar. Hence, some Bible scholars had suggested that it is possible for 2 months been added as intercalations months.

(1 Mac 44;45) For the king had sent letters by messengers unto Jerusalem and the cities of Juda that they should follow the strange laws of the land, And forbid burnt offerings, and sacrifice, and drink offerings, in the temple; and that they should profane the sabbaths and festival days.

It may also be as simple as the daily sacrifice was stopped 2 months prior to the abomination of desolation being set up. Hence, with two possibilities, both undoubtedly supporting the fulfillment of the prophecy in this chapter.

Conclusion

(Dan 8:26-27) “And the vision of the evenings and mornings Which was told is true; Therefore seal up the vision, For it refers to many days in the future.” And I, Daniel, fainted and was sick for days; afterward I arose and went about the king’s business. I was astonished by the vision, but no one understood it.

Finally, Daniel was told to seal up the vision since it refers to some 300 years after his time. While hanukkah is still celebrated world wide for the dedication of the Temple, who about your Temple which is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit?