Daniel Chapter 8

A Vision of a Ram and a Goat

Daniel: 8:1-27

Daniel’s Dream of a Ram and Goat: (Daniel 8: 1-8)

Daniel 8 focuses on a vision which outlines the course of two empires of the relatively near future for Daniel. This vision of Daniel’s is dated about 550 BC, close to eleven years before the end of the Babylonian Empire. During the study of Daniel 4, it was mentioned that Nebuchadnezzar had recorded the narrative in Aramaic, the language of the Babylonians, with the start of chapter 8 the language reverts back to Hebrew, and continues through to chapter 12, the end of the Book of Daniel. Daniel starts chapter 8 with an explanation:

“In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after that which appeared to me at the first. 2 And I saw in the vision; and when I saw, I was in Susa the citadel, which is in the province of Elam. And I saw in the vision, and I was at the Ulai canal” (Dan. 8:1-2).

The city of Susa is one of the royal cities of Media, where scripture records that both Esther (written between 470 – 424 BC) and Nehemiah (written 430 BC) were exiled, Daniel is living in the city of Babylon almost directly West of Susa. So, while Daniel is physically in the city of Babylon, in his vision he is transported to Susa.

Cyrus The Great Empire Map - Shefalitayal
The city of Babylon is almost directly West of Susa.

The Medo-Persian (Achaemenid) Empire was vast, and lasted for nearly 220 years (550-330 BC) – an indicator of the dominance and influence that the empire had on the region. So, Daniel is not only transported East in his vision, but also two hundred years into the future, where he witnesses a confrontation between a ram and a goat, history records that this battle took place in 331 BC.

“3 I raised my eyes and saw, and behold, a ram standing on the bank of the canal. It had two horns, and both horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last. 4 I saw the ram charging westward and northward and southward. No beast could stand before him, and there was no one who could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great” (Dan. 8:3-4).

Verse 20 gives us the identity of this ram:

“The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia.” (Dan. 8:20)

Daniel’s vision continues:

“5 As I was considering, behold, a male goat came from the west across the face of the whole earth, without touching the ground. And the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes. 6 He came to the ram with the two horns, which I had seen standing on the bank of the canal, and he ran at him in his powerful wrath. 7 I saw him come close to the ram, and he was enraged against him and struck the ram and broke his two horns. And the ram had no power to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled on him. And there was no one who could rescue the ram from his power. 8 Then the goat became exceedingly great, but when he was strong, the great horn was broken, and instead of it there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven.” (Dan. 5-8).

Verse 21 identifies this goat as the king of Greece: “The shaggy goat is the king of Greece.”

The Two-Horned Ram – the Medo-Persian Empire (8:3-4)

The focus of the vision is at first on the ram as he moved south, north, and west at will. Nothing could resist his advances as he grew and became great. Secular history reveals that the Medo-Persian empire’s conquest was in these exact directions.

“3 I raised my eyes and saw, and behold, a ram standing on the bank of the canal. It had two horns, and both horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last”.

With this ram representing the Medes and the Persians, the larger horn would represent the Medes who were far greater in number (encompassing six Iranian tribes). This symbolism links to Daniel’s dream in chapter 7, where he sees a bear having one shoulder larger than the other. The horn that grew up taller might represent Cyrus the Great, also called Cyrus II, (590–580 BC). Cyrus united The Medes and Persians after he rebelled against his grandfather, Astyages and led the Persians to victory over his grandfather’s Medes in 533 BC. Cyrus then went to work expanding his empire using both conquest and diplomacy, establishing an empire that stretched from Asia minor in the West to the boundaries of India in the East. The ease with which Cyrus was able to expand his empire said much about his abilities as a warrior and a statesman, who had great respect for the customs and religions of the nations that he conquered. The victory of Cyrus over the Empire of Babylon took place in 539 BC.

“4 I saw the ram charging westward and northward and southward. No beast could stand before him, and there was no one who could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great”.

Because of the large number of nations the Medo-Persian army could call on when gathering for war, the empire dominated the region 220 years, being considered invincible by all except Alexander the Great.

The Goat with a Single Horn – Alexander the Great (8:5-7)

“5 As I was considering, behold, a male goat came from the west across the face of the whole earth, without touching the ground. And the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes. 6 He came to the ram with the two horns, which I had seen standing on the bank of the canal, and he ran at him in his powerful wrath. 7 I saw him come close to the ram, and he was enraged against him and struck the ram and broke his two horns. And the ram had no power to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled on him. And there was no one who could rescue the ram from his power”.

Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great (356 BC- 323 BC)

Just as Cyrus was represented by the horn that “grew up later,” Alexander the Great is represented by the prominent horn of the goat. Alexander the Great (born in 356 BC) was taught by Aristotle from the age of 13. After the assassination of his father, Philip of Macedon in 336 BC, Alexander became king ruling over both Macedonia and Greece at the age of 20. Alexander started his reign by establishing his authority over Greece, then with the support of the Hellenic league he set his sights on the conquest of Persia. Alexander’s army was smaller than that of the Persians, ranging between 32 000 and 47 000 men, while the Persian could field five times that number. Alexander’s army consisted mainly of the dominating presence of the phalanx formation, the hypaspists, a versatile light infantry, and the strike force of the mobile cavalry – which included the elite Companions who rode with Alexander.

A 256-strong Macedonian phalanx

These formidable fighting units combined with Alexander’s military genius proved unstoppable. There were four major battles between the two forces:

  • The Battle of the Granicus (modern day Turkey): May 334 BC.
  • The Battle of Issus (modern day Turkey): November 333 BC.
  • The Battle of Gaugamela (modern day Iraq): 1 October 331 BC.
  • The Battle of the Persian Gate (modern day Iran): 20 January 330 BC.

The Battle of Gaugamela proved to be the downfall of the Persian army, the fourth battle of the Persian Gate was a mopping up operation of the last resistance by the Persians.

“…he (the goat) cast him down to the ground and trampled on him. And there was no one who could rescue the ram from his power” (7b).

Alexander’s Companion cavalry confronting Darius III at the battle of Gaugamela. Alexander Mosaic (c. 100 BC), Naples National Archaeological Museum, Italy.

After the battle of Issus, Alexander continued South with the goal of conquering Egypt. After destroying the city of Tyre and conquering Gaza, Alexander made His way inland to Jerusalem. Flavius Josephus, the famous Jewish historian who wrote The Antiquities of the Jews, recorded that Alexander met with Jaddua, the high priest, who showed him the recordings of Daniel’s visions:

“And when the Book of Daniel was showed him wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended.”

Alexander established the Greek language and culture wherever he went, this process of Hellenization had a major impact on the ancient world. It is said that the Romans conquered the Greek armies, but that the Greek culture conquered the Romans. Greek was the unifying language in the Roman Empire, so the Gospel was able to travel on the efficient Roman trade routes, throughout the empire.

Succeeded by Four Generals (8:8, 22)

8 Then the goat became exceedingly great, but when he was strong, the great horn was broken, and instead of it there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven “

Alexander died suddenly at the early age of 32, while at the palace in the city of Babylon. This threw the empire into turmoil, and for 40 years leading generals and members of Alexander’s family vied to take control of Alexander’s empire. The end result was that four prominent Generals divided his empire between them, fulfilling Daniel’s prophecy, that when the large horn was broken off, “four prominent horns (NIV)” would take its place.

The four kingdoms were:

  • The kingdom of Cassander: The region consisted of the home countries of Macedonia and Greece, and also included parts of Thrace. The Kingdom was ruled by Antigonus I Monophthalmus (“one eye” having been struck by a catapult bolt in the eye), founding the Antigonid Dynasty. The kingdom is named Cassander after Antigonus’ son.
  • The kingdom of Lysimachus:  the region included regions of modern-day Turkey such as Lydia, Ionia and Phrygia, the capital being the city of Pergamum. The kingdom was ruled by Lysimachus, who founded the Attalid dynasty.
  • The kingdom of Seleucus: The region included present-day Iran, Iraq, Syria, and parts of Central Asia. The kingdom was ruled by Seleucus I Nicator, who founded the Seleucus dynasty, from which the infamous Antiochus IV Epiphanes, would rise to power.
  • The kingdom of Ptolemy: The kingdom included Egypt and neighbouring regions. The kingdom was ruled by Ptolemy I Soter, who founded the Ptolemic dynasty.

The division is complicated, but Daniel’s vision sums it up well:

“22 As for the horn that was broken, in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his nation, but not with his power…”

Division of Alexander’s Empire
Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-163 BC)

“9 Out of one of them came a little horn, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land”

Daniel’s vision then reveals that a small horn branches out from one of the four horns, increasing in size and prominence. The horn from which the little horn grew out from is the Seleucus dynasty, and the horn represents a notorious villain of Biblical history Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Remarkably, many Christians will know about Nero’s horrific persecution of the Christians, but few will know about Antiochus’ brutal persecution of the Jews, his connection to the Jewish holiday Hanukkah, and the importance of Antiochus in understanding Bible prophecy and the Antichrist. Daniel’s description of the expansion of the little horn describes Antiochus’ efforts to expand his empire, with the “glorious land” being Israel.

Antiochus Epiphanes (175-163 BC)
Antiochus Epiphanes (175-163 BC)

From the time of the division of Alexander’s empire, until the rise of the Roman emperors, Judah was caught between two militant powers, the Seleucid Kingdom of Syria in the north and the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt in the south. This was particularly true during the reign of Antiochus who, as was revealed in Daniel’s dream, sought to extended his kingdom. In 170 BC he launched an attack against the Ptolemies in Egypt, pushing south through “the glorious land”. The expansionist desires of Antiochus towards Egypt, the bread basket of the Mediterranean, drew the attention of Rome. This resulted in the Roman ambassador to Egypt, Gaius Popillius Laenas confronting Antiochus and ordering him to cease his aggression against Egypt. When Antiochus replied that he would need time to think about it, Gaius Popillius Laenas drew a circle around Antiochus and told him in no uncertain terms, that if he did not give his answer before leaving the circle, it would mean war with Rome. This is where the expression “drawing a line in the sand” came from to emphasize a limit that cannot be crossed without suffering serious consequences. Antiochus wisely decided to withdraw from Egypt.

Antiochus was an ardent believer in the benefits of Hellenization, he therefore required the regions under his control to follow not only the culture of the Greeks, but also the worship of the Greek gods, especially Zeus. Antiochus’ arrogance was such that he proclaimed himself to be Zeus incarnate, calling himself Antiochus Epiphanes, (“God Manifest’). The Jew’s disgust towards a man making such a claim was evident in the nickname they had for him, using a play on words they called him “Epimanes,” (“mad one”). Antiochus’ plan was not just to implement the Greek culture and religion in Judea, but also to eradicate all traces of the Jewish culture, and their faith in Yahweh. This was to result in a rebellion by the Jews against Antiochus’ totally unacceptable decrees.   

After Antiochus’ confrontation with the Roman ambassador Gaius Popillius Laenas, a rumour spread through Judah that Antiochus had been killed in Egypt. This emboldened the Jews, and Jason, the deposed high priest, gathered supporters and attacked Jerusalem. This open rebellion infuriated Antiochus, who was still smarting from the embarrassment of having to concede to the demands of Rome. So, on his way back home from Egypt, he savagely put down the revolt and took back control of Jerusalem in 167 BC. In the process he massacred thousands of Jews. The book of 2 Maccabees recorded the event, stating that none escaped the wrath of Antiochus, he showed no mercy to women, infants or the aged. The result was that “Within the total of three days eighty thousand were destroyed, forty thousand in hand-to-hand fighting, and as many were sold into slavery as were killed.” (2 Maccabees 5:12-14).

Antiochus, to enforce his authority over the Jews, went even further than the cruel oppression of the people, he also turned his sights onto the core of the Jewish culture, the Temple. He looted the Temple of all its treasures and desecrated the Temple by placing a statue of Zeus in the Temple, and sacrificing a pig on the brazen alter. He ordered the destruction of all copies of the Torah, and had fathers who circumcised their sons, put to death. All Jews were ordered to sacrifice to pagan gods and eat the meat of the pigs sacrificed. The actions of Antiochus elevated him to be one of the greatest persecutors of the Jewish people. He wanted them to submit to Greek culture and customs, and was more than willing to use murder and violence to compel them. By his tyrannical punishment off the Jews, Antiochus Epiphanes become the clear fulfilment of the “little horn” of Daniel’s vision, and reveals himself to be a shadow of the reality yet to come – the Antichrist. Daniel chapters 9 and 11 will be covered later in the series and will deal with the prophecies of Daniel regarding the Antichrist’s end times atrocities, that the actions of Antiochus pointed toward. 

After Antiochus had brutally put down the rebellion, he left generals in charge of Judea, and went to secure his eastern border against the threat of the Parthians. With Antiochus away, the inevitable occurred, the Jews revolted under the leadership of the Maccabees and threw off the oppressive yoke of the Seleucids, winning back not only their political freedom, but their religious freedom as well. In 165 BC the Temple was cleansed of all pagan objects and rededicated by the priests, so that worship of Yahweh could resume. The memory of this great event in the history of Israel is celebrated by the Jews in December each year during Hanukkah (meaning “dedication” in Hebrew). The all-powerful god man, Antiochus was defeated by the Parthians, and soon after fell ill and died. The Seleucid kingdom did not last long after the death of Antiochus, being divided up between the Romans and the Parthians.

Another Horn – Antiochus Epiphanes (8:10-13)

Another Horn – Antiochus Epiphanes (8:9-13)

Having covered the history of Antiochus, we are now able to go on and cover the rest of Daniel’s vision and shine a light on further pointers to Antiochus Epiphanes, as the “small horn,” and as a shadow of the future reality of the Antichrist:

“10 It grew great, even to the host of heaven. And some of the host and some of the stars it threw down to the ground and trampled on them. 11 It became great, even as great as the Prince of the host” (Daniel 8:10-11a).

Antiochus declared war on the people of God – the Jewish hierarchy and worshippers of Yahweh, which are referred to in the vision as “the host” of heaven (Exodus 12:41). The stars are referencing the tribes of Israel, the symbolism being taken from Joseph’s dream, where his brothers (the future tribes of Israel) represented as stars, bow before Joseph’s star (Genesis 37:9). Certainly, the tribe of Levi would have been thrown down and trampled as Antiochus sought to end the worship of Yahweh. He also blasphemed God and commanded idolatrous worship directed towards himself, claiming to be “as great as the Prince of the host”.

Daniel’s vision then details the extent of Antiochus’ attack against the God of the Jews – Yahweh:

“And the regular burnt offering was taken away from him, and the place of his sanctuary was overthrown. 12 And a host will be given over to it together with the regular burnt offering because of transgression, and it will throw truth to the ground, and it will act and prosper” (8:11b-12).

Once more there is an amazingly accurate prophecy detailing Antiochus’s efforts to eradicate Judaism, including the worship of God, by desecrating the Temple, thereby forcing the sacrifices to cease. The decree by Antiochus that all scriptures should be destroyed, is a literal fulfilment of “and it (the horn) will throw truth to the ground”.

The Abomination that Causes Desolation (8:13-14)

13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the one who spoke, ‘For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot?’ 14 And he said to me, ‘For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state’”.

When discussing the Antichrist, one of the most frequently asked questions is “what signs will reveal the identity of the Antichrist?”. As we have seen in the study of Daniel chapters 7 and 8, scripture gives us a lot of information about the character and future activities of the Antichrist. However, there are key occurrences that are direct indicators to the “son of perdition”, such as signing a seven-year peace treaty that will bring peace to the Middle East (Daniel 9:27), and the allowing of the Jews to the build the third Temple (Daniel 9:27). The indicator that sits at the top of the pyramid though, is the “abomination that causes desolation”. Just as Antiochus did, so too will the Antichrist, i.e. half way through the Tribulation he will fulfill prophecy by placing an idol of himself in the confines of the Temple (Rev. 13:14). The first indicator of this event is given in Daniel 8, which is then expanded on in chapters 9, 11 and 12. Jesus also refers to the “abomination of desolation” in His Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:15), indicating that the actions of Antiochus were only a pointer to the greater reality, and that reality was still in the future for the disciples.

The first indictor of the abomination that causes desolation is when one of the angels asks:

‘For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot?” (8:13b)

Dr Ralph F. Wilson explains: “the phrase ‘causes desolation’ is the verb shāmēm, ‘be desolate, appalled’. It refers to sacrificing pigs on the altar and thus rendering the altar and temple polluted, unfit for the worship of Yahweh” (1). Dr Wilson goes on to explain that similar words are used later in the book of Daniel:

And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.” (9:27b)

Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate” (11:31).

From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days.” (12:11)

These scriptures will be studied in detail later in this series on Daniel, the key point to grasp now is that there is a repeated use of the same term used in Daniel 8:13. There is great emphasis on this “abomination that causes desolation.” It is crucial to understand that the actions of Antiochus in placing a statue of Zeus, with his face imposed on the statue, was not only a fulfilment of the prophecy, but also a pointer to the greater abomination yet to come.

Verse 14 answers the question “for how long,” asked by the angel at the start of verse 13:

‘And he said to me, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state” (8:14).

Dr Ralph F. Wilson reveals the significance of the verse:

“The text seems to mean that 2,300 evening and morning sacrifices would have taken place until the temple will be rededicated. This temple dedication, of course, is what the Jews celebrate each year in Hanukkah. To do the calculation:

2,300 sacrifices / 2 per day / 365 days per year = 3.15 years (3 years and 108 days).

It seems that 74 days after the proclamation by the Antichrist of his godhood, his statue is erected in the Temple, at the end of the 3½ years the temple is cleansed” (2).

Verse 14 reveals the detail of prophecy in the book of Daniel, giving the exact number of days from the declaration by the Antichrist of his deity, to the erection of his statue in the Temple by the False Prophet (Rev. 13:14). The book of Daniel contains a large number of accurately fulfilled prophecies; So, this proven accuracy in prophetic fulfilment therefore holds great value, in that Daniel has many prophecies yet to be fulfilled. Is it not then the responsibility of Christians to make others aware of these yet to be fulfilled prophecies? Christian evangelism has forgotten the significance of prophecy, Replacement Theology has been largely responsible for its neglect, and those that hold to this deceptive doctrine will one day be called to account. The Church has a responsibility to give people the knowledge of prophecy, that could be the information that they need to make a decision to accept Jesus as their Lord during the Tribulation.

Jesus Makes an Appearance (8:15-18)

“15 When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it. And behold, there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. 16 And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, and it called, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.” 17 So he came near where I stood. And when he came, I was frightened and fell on my face. But he said to me, “Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end.  18 And when he had spoken to me, I fell into a deep sleep with my face to the ground. But he touched me and made me stand up.”

The timing of the prophecy is made clear to Daniel by the angel Gabriel, “the vision is for the time of the end”. So, although the vision has accurate pointers, warning of the actions of Antiochus, the main purpose of the vision is for those living in the last days. The message is delivered by the archangel Gabriel, who scripture indicates is responsible for delivering messages from God. Other examples are Luke 1:11 when he appears to Zechariah the priest, and in Luke 1:31 to the Virgin Mary. Gabriel brings an important answer to Daniel’s prayers which will be covered in the next study, where we will see that Gabriel not only delivers an answer to prayer, but also gives a powerful prophetic revelation.

The “one who looked like a man,” is a Metatron/Christophany – an appearance of Jesus in Old Testament scripture, which is made clear by the fact Daniel is on his face before Him, and the fact that He is giving direction to Gabriel. The appearance of Jesus in the vision must be seen as significant, and add weight to the importance of the prophecy.

Gabriel Identifies the Ram and the Goat (8:19-22)

In the earlier explanation of Daniel’s vision, we used Gabriel’s identification of the ram and the goat for clarity:

“19 He said, “Behold, I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation, for it refers to the appointed time of the end. 20 As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia. 21 And the goat is the king of Greece. And the great horn between his eyes is the first king. 22 As for the horn that was broken, in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his nation, but not with his power.‘”

Further Revelation About Antiochus, Reveals More About the Antichrist (8:23-25)

Verses 23-25 gives us information regarding the character of Antiochus Epiphanes:

” 23 And at the latter end of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their limit, a king of bold face (stern faced [NIV]), one who understands riddles (master of intrigue [NIV]), shall arise. 24 His power shall be great—but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints. 25 By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall become great. Without warning he shall destroy many. And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken—but by no human hand.”

There is a remarkable parallel between Antiochus IV Epiphanes and the Antichrist in scripture. A comparison between the two prophetic characters clearly reveals that Antiochus is a forerunner of the Antichrist, and that both are being covered by Daniel in this prophecy (both/and, not either/or). An understanding of the similarities between the two prophetic characters has great relevance for those who will witness the rise of the Antichrist. The study of Antiochus will give them an indication of what the character and nature of the Antichrist will be, and aid to identifying the man:

Antiochus Epiphanes a Type of Antichrist

  • Stern-faced (8:23b). Antiochus was an intimidating man, who used his power and authority to enforce his will. He was a man who was ruthless in establishing his goals, his features mirrored his character. The Antichrist is also a rebel; Paul refers to him as the “lawless one” in 2 Thessalonians 2:8. The Antichrist will be a hunter of men, seeking to dominate and control them (Rev. 13:4 & 7).
  • Master of intrigue (8:23c). Antiochus was deceitfully clever, especially in his usurping of the Seleucid throne. The Antichrist being demonically empowered by Satan, will also be a master of intrigue and manipulation. This will be especially evident in his rise through the ranks to the heights of political authority.
  • Strong, but not by his own power (8:24a). This indicates that Satan would use Antiochus to attack God and God’s people. The Antichrist is called the “son of perdition” by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, meaning Satan has possessed the man. The only other person to be called by this name is Judas just before his betrayal of Jesus. The name therefore implies that the Antichrist will be greatly used and empowered by Satan.
  • Antiochus caused astounding devastation in Jerusalem (8:24b): “Within the total of three days eighty thousand were destroyed, forty thousand in hand-to-hand fighting, and as many were sold into slavery as were killed.” (2 Maccabees 5:12-14). The Antichrist will devastate Israel during the Great Tribulation killing two thirds of the Jews (Zechariah 13:8), and there will be tremendous devastation of the Holy Land in the final battle of Armageddon (Rev. 19:11-21).
  • Destroys mighty men and the holy people (8:24c). When Antiochus put down the Jewish rebellion, he was totally ruthless, he not only ordered the slaughter of the Jewish defenders, but also the massacre of tens of thousands of women, children and the aged. The Antichrist is given authority to make war against the saints by God (Rev. 13:7).
  • Fosters deceitfulness in his kingdom (8:25a). Antiochus usurped the throne of the Seleucid kingdom by deception, he was a man that could not be trusted. The Antichrist will be a contemptible person (Dan. 11:21) who, being filled with a hatred of God, will seek to deceive mankind and persecute believers (Daniel 7:21, 25b, Rev. 13:5-8).
  • Considers himself superior (8:25b). Antiochus is proud, arrogant and boastful. The KJV puts it literally: “He shall magnify himself in his heart”. The Antichrist will be an extremely arrogant man who will inherit the sin of his “father,” Satan – Pride (2 Thess. 2:3).
  • Antiochus used bribery and flattery of Roman politicians to stay in power (Dan. 8:25). The Antichrist will use bribery and flattery to attain political power (Dan. 11:21; Rev. 13:5-8).
  • Antiochus believed himself to be a god and gave himself the title “Epiphanes,” which means the “illustrious one” or “God made manifest”. The Antichrist will require that the statue of himself in the Temple is worshipped and he will call himself God (Rev. 13:15; Thes. 2:4).
  • Antiochus tolerated religions that included the worship of him as god, it was for this reason he would not tolerate Judaism. The Antichrist will tolerate religions that include worship of him as god, but for this reason he will not tolerate true Christianity or Judaism (Thes. 2:4).
  • Antiochus persecuted Jews who refused to worship the Greek pagan gods and who continued to follow Judaism. The Antichrist will persecute Jews and those saints who refuse to venerate him as god (Rev. 13:7, 15).
  • Antiochus blasphemed God by desecrating the Temple. The Antichrist will blaspheme God (Rev. 13:6).
  • Antiochus substitutes the lie of paganism for the revealed truth of God’s word entrusted to the Jewish people. The Antichrist will implement his wisdom and philosophies in place of God’s word (2Thes. 2:4).
  • Antiochus Epiphanes did not die at the hands of man (Dan. 8:25), but of disease on his way to restore order in Judea after the defeat of his armies by the Maccabees. The Antichrist will be defeated by Jesus – not by mankind, at the battle of Armageddon in Israel. He will then be thrown into the lake of fire with the False Prophet (Rev. 19:20). 
  • The Jews were delivered from the persecution of Antiochus by Judas Maccabaeus. The world will be delivered from the rule of the Antichrist at the end of the Great Tribulation by the return of Jesus (Rev.19).

The little horn of Daniel 8 is not representing Antiochus only, he is a type of the Antichrist – a shadow of the reality of what is still to occur. The fact that Daniel’s prophecy extends to the Antichrist is made clear in Daniel 8:24, which records that “he will succeed in whatever he does”. Antiochus fails in his bid to control Egypt as he is blocked by Rome, Antiochus did succeed, but not in everything he did. Then Daniel 8:25 says the man will “take his stand against the Prince of princes, this Antiochus does not do. Antiochus fulfils the prophecy in that he fought against Yahweh, Almighty God, when he attacked the Jews, and He desecrated the Temple with the erection of a statue of Zeus and the sacrifice of a pig on the temple mount, however, it is the Antichrist who goes against Yeshua, the “Prince of princes,” and it is he who is defeated by Jesus at His return – “he shall be broken—but by no human hand” (8:25b) So, the fullness of the prophecy is seen in the Antichrist, while Antiochus is merely a type, a shadow of the reality.

Remember that in Daniel 8 the “little horn” sprouts from one of the goat’s four horns. This is a pointer to both Antiochus and the Antichrist – they are both “the little horn.” This, then is a clear indicator that the Antichrist will arise from the same region as Antiochus – the Seleucid empire, most likely Syria.

The Vision for the Future (8:26-27)

“26 ‘The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true, but seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now’. 27 And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days. Then I rose and went about the king’s business, but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it.”

Daniel is overwhelmed by the vision; he would have been like a student taking a final exam that would not only determine the outcome of his course of study, but was also a prerequisite for his future career. When upon opening the questionnaire, they realise that they are totally unfamiliar with the requirements of the exam, and understand none of the questions. The student would be both appalled and bewildered, requiring a few days after the exam to gather themselves. So, the complexity and seriousness of the vision took its toll on Daniel, he is overcome and weakened by what he sees. Gabriel then informs Daniel that the fulfilment isn’t for his own time, but for “many days from now,” the distant future.

Summary

Daniel 8 focuses on a vision given to Daniel regarding the fate of the mighty Medo-Persian empire and the rise of Alexander the Great’s Greek empire. Alexander the Great is represented by the shaggy goat with one “prominent horn,” which attacks a ram with two horns, one larger than the other, representing the Medo-Persian empire. After the defeat of the Medo-Persians, Alexander died suddenly, and the single large horn is replaced by four horns, representing four prominent Greek generals, and resulting in the division of the Greek empire into four kingdoms. Then from one of the four horns, “another horn,” grows forth, representing Antiochus Epiphanes and his oppression of Judah. The vision reveals specifics such as how he exalts himself, attacks the people of God, brings an end to the Temple sacrifices, and brings “desolation” to the Temple. Jesus then appears in the vision and instructs Gabriel to supply Daniel with more information about Antiochus, which also applies to the Antichrist.

Daniel eight focuses on the vision given to Daniel, and consequently has a substantial amount of prophecy. For the believer today, there are therefore a number of important lessons regarding prophecy that should be learned from chapter 8 of Daniel:

  • Prophecy is a revelation that God is the true God and His Word is the truth.
  • Prophecy is a revelation that God knows “the end from the beginning” and is in control of the destiny of mankind. Even though, as it was for the Jews during the reign of Antiochus, it does not seem so at the time.
  • Prophecy helps us interpret world events, and as it was for the Jews during the reign of Antiochus, so it will be for the saints under the Antichrist; it enables God’s children to endure hardship (cf. 2 Chronicles 6:5-6).
  • Daniel ensures that the believer knows that both Antiochus and the Antichrist meet their end. Prophecy assures us that unjust persecution of the righteous will be avenged by God.
  • Daniel focuses the prayers of the saints – prophecy is for participation not for passivism, which will be emphasized at the start of Daniel chapter 9.

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