Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Here is where multitudes of sincere people misapply the Scripture and take the whole vision of Daniel 8 and apply it before Christ came to a small point in time; and make the prophecy of no effect (and of little real significance) for the last days.
In the vision, we are told about a goat representing the kingdom of Greece, which “waxed very great”. It has one notable horn, which was the Grecian king Alexander the great. Then his horn was broken into four; where his kingdom was divided into four horns Cassander, Seleucus, Ptolemy, and Lysimachus. Then among these four, arose a little horn; a kingdom that whose beginning was small unlike those four. Nearly all the Christian world claim that this was Antiochus Epiphanes, who came out of the Seleucid empire in Greece. But is this true? The first verse of the little horn already gives us many marks to identify:
“And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land.” (Daniel 8:9)
The first verse regarding the little horn lays the foundation of identifying who that little horn is. It must match all of these points in order to be Antiochus, if it does not, we cannot presume that it is the man so widely regarded. So the object of this study will be to prove whether or not Antiochus fulfills the points in question or not.
CAN THE LITTLE HORN BE ANTIOCHUS?
Four Points Considered
First we see the “little horn” in question. We are told it waxed “exceedingly great”. Then we are told the territories which he would conquer. Before even examining any other points of the prophecy, seeing as nearly the entire Christian world have believed, sincerely no doubt, this error. The Seleucid reign of Epiphanes was not another new little horn arising among of the four divisions of Greece; the Seleucid Empire was already classed as one of the four horns which reigned contemporarily with the other divisions of Grecia.
The little horn was not a “little kingdom” at all. In fact, Antiochus III of the Seleucid Empire, who was Epiphanes’ father, had nearly as much territory gained by the time of his reign as Alexander the great had. But Antiochus III was forced into a peace treaty with a small nation that was growing exceedingly in power through leagues with other nations; the Roman Republic forced Antiochus III to submit to him. Antiochus IV expanding the territory in the south only by a small amount. Never did he expand his territory into “the east” with any great success; when he sought to do this, his efforts to force Judea into submission were defeated, and he was struck with a disease and died. Antiochus IV was never a “little horn” which waxed exceedingly great; history recounts in fact that he feared the rising power of the Roman Republic.
It says he waxed exceedingly great towards the pleasant land; Antiochus III overthrew the Ptolemies rule in Judea. He also treated the Jews kindly, lowing taxes, and helped resettle Jewish families from the diaspora of Babylon back into their native regions. Antiochus IV Epiphanes, however, wreaked havok on Jerusalem and it’s temple, which, as we will see in the prophecy, is their whole basis for claiming the prophecy was Antiochus Epiphanes.
We are told that this little horn would wax “exceedingly great”. In fact, Alexander the great’s notable horn on the reign of the goat was termed “very great”; and the Medo-Persian empire simply became “great”. Yet never once do we see Antiochus Epiphanes becoming exceedingly great. His reign of the Seleucid empire fell far short of even the territory taken by the Medo-Persian empire. He was not even the mightiest king to bear the Seleucid crown; being considerably weaker than only just his father in many respects.
In fact, on Epiphanes’ second war against Egypt, the Roman republic had sworn themselves to defend the young Ptolemaic king from being invaded, thereby coming under the power of Rome in the far west. Epiphanes’ army was stopped by a single Roman ambassador named Gaius Popillius Laenas, delivering him the message from the Roman Senate to withdraw his armies from Egypt or to consider him at war with the Roman Republic. Antiochus, desiring time to consider the matter, sees Gaius famously draws a line in the sand, encircling the Seleucid king, and says, “Before you leave this circle, give me a reply that I can take back to the Roman Senate.” Antiochus’ withdrew from this time; and the Roman Republic fastened control over the Seleucid king forever. It was under the submission of this Roman power that Antiochus withdrew from Egypt, and passing through Jerusalem persecuted the Jews in Judea.
In just the first line of text regarding the little horn, it becomes strikingly apparent that Epiphanes was not the little horn. To recap these points:
● Epiphanes did not reign over a small little nation.
● Epiphanes did not wax exceedingly great, above the “very great” Alexander, and the “great” Medo-Persians.
● Epiphanes did not push towards the East at all during his entire reign.
● Epiphanes hold on the South was paralyzed and put to an end by the exceeding growth of power witnessed in the Roman Republic.
Therefore, we cannot hold even the prophecy’s Scripture to the slightest integrity any longer if we maintain that Epiphanes was the little horn. but if we still hold onto it because of the next verses which follow that first one…
EPIPHANES AND THE SANCTUARY
We will now briefly look at why Antiochus Epiphanes was not the desolator of the Sanctuary here in question, as it is spoken about regarding the little horn.
The following verses are often cited on the backbone of verse 9, which we have seen falls far short, to justify Epiphanes. We will only briefly look at this statements also.
“And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered.”
Notice, it says that this little horn waxed so exceedingly great, it was to the host of heaven, symbolic of the people of God and their leaders, who the angel Gabriel calls “the mighty and holy people” (Daniel 8:24). Did Antiochus do this? While he did not wax exceedingly great, he did come and persecute the Jews, and for many, it would seem a conclusive manner of saying the prophecy is true. But this was not because he was waxing so great as the prophecy says, but because he had just been squelched by the Roman Republic and forced out of the South. In fact, between the Seleucid and Ptolemaic horns, Judea exchanged hands seven times being caught between the armies of both, and was persecuted by more than just Epiphanes.
It says “by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.” Here are two other points if not carefully considered that would seem to an honest mind to point to Antiochus Epiphanes. Epiphanes did take away the earthly tabernacle’s regular sacrifices of lambs, and instead sacrificed swine, but he never once “cast down” or as the original Hebrew says, “cast away/aside”, the Sanctuary. But for thoroughness’ sake, let’s look closer at the argument.
The reality of the matter is that the original Hebrew is somewhat betrayed by the English language. The word “sacrifice” was an insertion by the translators by was not in any of the original Greek manuscripts of Daniel, and the words “taken away” is the Hebrew word “rûm”, which means to take up, as in being lifted up or exalted. It would literally be translated, “by him the continual would be exalted”; which in the overall context suggests that the continual oppression would be brought to greater severity than before. The word “rûm” is used three other times in the book of Daniel, twice to denote self-exaltation, and once to signify the lifting up of a hand towards heaven. The Hebrew word “śûr” is the word that should be employed here if anything was removed, taken away, withdrawn, put away, etc.
The Sanctuary being cast down was never done by Antiochus; at best it could be said that it’s services were temporarily cast aside. This again is a difficult argument to sustain.
The advocates again make a point that “he cast down the truth to the ground, and practiced and prospered.” (v.12) This would seem true, as the Greek Jews, whose tendency was to dress, speak, and believe as the Greeks were favored by Antiochus. The Hellenistic (Greek) Jews were made to serve the temple services where Epiphanes instuted the worship of a god from the Greek pantheon, and overthrowing Sabbath observance. But the revolt against Antiochus, and therefore strengthening the truth, was in fact much larger than those who had yielded to his compromises. To say that he practiced and prospered wouldn’t be true, as success against the Jews lasted little longer than three years.
Notice again that it says he magnified himself to the Prince of the host. The Prince of the hosts in undeniably Christ the Messiah, who Gabriel calls “The Prince of Princes” (v. 25), and as proven by several other texts in the book of Daniel (See an article that addresses this here). Did the Seleucid Empire wax so strong that it came against Christ? No. This great evil was brought about by the Roman Empire. It was impossible for Antiochus to come against the Prince of the hosts of heaven. In fact, the actual translation of the original Hebrew was that he “waxed strong even to the Prince of the host”; meaning that this little horn would in some way have to receive the homage due to Christ. While there were some who gave Antiochus honor because they feared his army, but rather he caused a large scale revolt against the Seleucid king and his army.
A brief mention regarding his self-titled name “Epiphanes”, which meant “God manifest”. For many who know not the workings of Satan, this would seem a conclusive evidence that Epiphanes fulfilled the prophecy; but Satan can move a chronic drunkard to call himself “Jesus” but that does not make him fulfill all the specifications of the prophecies which the Messiah fulfilled. Rather, Antiochus was mocked by the common people and his appeals to hold municipal offices, with his strange manners and actions, made his people feel his mind was not well, leading some of his contemporaries to call him Epimanes, meaning “The Mad One”.
● Epiphanes did not “wax great” when he persecuted the people of God but was rather furiously waning.
● Epiphanes did not cast down the Sanctuary, but only temporarily was able to set aside it’s holy services.
● Epiphanes did not prosper in casting the truth down to the ground. He strengthened orthodox Judaism.
● Epiphanes did not exalt himself to the place of Christ, except in a self-proclaimed title. He did reign against the purposes of Christ.
While it is easier, even understandable, to see how some would apply these verses to Antiochus, they would still only meet a partial fulfillment.
EPIPHANES AND THE TIME PROPHECY
“And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.”
The last point that does not hold up, despite many claims to the contrary is that the time prophecy in Daniel 8 fit the time of Antiochus’ persecution of the Jews. Unbias historians will note that Antiochus’ persecution went for no more than three years. To account for this, many will say that the word for “days” in the Hebrew means “evenings and mornings”. This is true. And by this, they say 2300 evenings and mornings must actually mean 1150 evenings and 1150 mornings. However, the term “evening and morning” is a very Hebraic understanding of an entire twenty-four hour period; a 360 degree revolution of the sun across the face of the earth. The very first chapter of the Bible will suffice to prove this true, so we needn’t go any farther into the Scriptures to prove the point. “And the evening and the morning were the first day” (Gen. 1:5), “And the evening and the morning were the second day” (Gen. 1:8), “And the evening and the morning were the third day” (Gen. 1:13), etc.
This falls into severe problems in many instances. In one such case was the argument that this duration of 1150 days in total was the time Antiochus persecuted the Jews an seized their sanctuary. However, then the argument turns, and they say that the reconsecration of the temple is the cleansing of the Sanctuary in Daniel 8:14 two whole years later. Why is this a problem? Because it says “Unto two-thousand three-hundred days, then shall the Sanctuary be cleansed.” While this is not an accurate reading of the context, nor is it the meaning of the cleansing of the Sanctuary, the furthest extent when the temple was rededicated was 1800 days. This fits neither the time period of 1150 days, nor 2300 days.
We’re told this little horn would begin to arise “at the latter end of their rule” (8:23) The Greek Empire, because it was divided, never had a clear ending point, but many mark it’s decline to the Roman Empire as beginning around the time of Antiochus III and the young Ptolemy VI; but the latter rule of these dominant Greek horns lasted until 65-31BC when their line of kings fell forever to the Roman Empire. In either instance, the Roman Republic’s rise to empirical rule, and particularly the emperors which came out from it, and chiefly the Papal seizing of the throne of Rome, signified as a little horn, in Daniel 7, serve to fit historically much better, remarkably matching the description of the little horn power more than Antiochus Epiphanes ever did (You can read how we come to those conclusions here).
It appears evident however, that there is something in the prophecy of Daniel 8 that Satan is desirous in seeking to cover up. This becomes evident from the multitude of confused opinions which would efface the true history of the Medo-Persian kindom; their lineage of kings and their deeds have become a circus of opinions making Darius Cambyses and Xerxes Darius and Xerxes five other kings of Persia that historians cannot agree upon. By thus obscuring this essential component, he is able to make the Bible look like a fiction, and moreover, seeks to make finding the commencement of the time prophecy of Daniel 9 and 8‘s vision more difficult.
The great push to try and make the details fit the Daniel 8 prophetic narrative by so many Bible teachers when the historical facts simply don’t add up is careless research and poor history at best, and at worst blatant dishonesty. One thing becomes certain as the details are added up is that Satan knew about the vision of Daniel, and had Antiochus Epiphanes under such possession that he used him to counterfeit the prophecy in hopes of keeping people deceived as to it’s true import; but the sure word of Bible prophecy will ever bear the test of honest investigation. He has sought to do this, and in fact, a significant part of the tenth chapter of Daniel is given to us for Gabriel to explain this very fact (which you can read here).
Although many don’t realize this, the Daniel 8 prophecy testifies that the end of the reign of Satan is at hand. If he can keep as many minds in darkness as possible concerning the points of truth contained therein, he will utilize the true identity of “the little horn” to number the deceived into his most deceptive work at the end of time which is now upon us. Under the confederacy of apostate churches, Satan will gather his army, who find themselves ignorantly honoring antichristian policies under a guise of reverance for Christ.