Daniel 8: Gabriel's Explanation
Jun 24, 2015
Daniel 8: 13, 14 says,
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 about the regular sacrifice apply, while the transgression causes horror, so as to allow both the holy place and the host to be trampled?” 14 And he said to me, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings, then the holy place will be properly restored.”
Some translations render this 2,300 days, but the text literally says 2,300 evenings and mornings, which refer to the two sacrifices performed daily in the temple (Numbers 28:3, 4). So the time frame revealed by the angel is actually 1,150 days. This is just over three years, and it probably refers to the time during which the temple in Jerusalem was desecrated from 168 to December of 165 B.C.
Unfortunately, history does not record the precise date that this desecration began. We only know the date that it ended, because this event came to be known as Hanukkah, the eight days during which the sanctuary was cleansed.
The Two Holy Ones
As for the two holy ones, it seems strange that one of them had to ask the other about the timing of this situation. Further, up to this moment in the narrative, no one had spoken anything other than Daniel himself. It is only in the next verses that we are introduced to Gabriel, who was assigned to interpret the vision to Daniel.
Daniel’s narrative, however, comes to a climax with verses 13 and 14, in which he learns about the 2,300 evenings and mornings. Since Daniel was writing this some time after the actual vision had taken place, he had already received the revelation from Gabriel as to the meaning of the vision. So he chose to close his narration with a detail that was given shortly afterward.
It is most likely, then, that Gabriel was the “holy one speaking,” and that another holy one asked him the question about timing. The Hebrew word qadowsh, “holy one,” can refer to men or angels. In fact, we are instructed to be holy (qadowsh) in Leviticus 11:44, 45, and these verses are quoted in 1 Peter 1:15, 16,
15 But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
The identities of the two holy ones, or “saints” (KJV), are not given in Daniel 8:13 when they first appear in the narrative. The CV reads, “saying is one other saint to so-and-so, the speaking one.” It appears that Gabriel (vs. 16) is the main speaker, but who is the holy one who asks the question about timing? Not only was he ignorant of the answer, but it is almost as if he was eves dropping on the conversation. Was he an angel of lesser rank? Was he one of the “risers” seen in Daniel 7? We are not told, because in Gabriel’s explanation, he does not mention the 2,300 evenings and mornings.
At this point Daniel has completed his narration of the vision and seeks understanding. Daniel 8:15, 16 says,
15 And it came about when I, Daniel, had seen the vision, that I sought to understand it; and behold, standing before me was one who looked like a man [geber, “mighty, strong man”]. 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.”
Gabriel’s appearance to Daniel was as a strong man (geber). The root of geber is gabar, to be strong or to prevail. Hence, he is called Gabriel, “God is my strength.” We will see this angel again in Daniel 9:21, when he comes with further revelation.
Daniel 8:17 continues,
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 pertains to the time of the end.”
When Gabriel speaks of “the time of the end,” some take this to mean that it is about the end of the age. Hence, they think this vision is about our own time, and so it is applied to a future Antichrist and a time of “tribulation” associated with him. But it is clear that this vision is about the rise of the third beast empire, beginning with Alexander the Great and extending to the four kingdoms that arose after him.
Even the inferior horn was fulfilled by Antiochus from 168-164 B.C., which resulted in the end of the Grecian empire. Antiochus’ actions brought about the end of Grecian domination of Jerusalem and Judea. That is the overall context of the statement, “the time of the end.” The question is, “the end of what?” It is clearly the end of the Grecian empire. There is no reason to extend this time to the end of the fourth beast.
The only pertinent extension is in the fact that the century which Greece lost was part of the long 2,520-year (“seven times”) contract that God made with the beast system to rule the earth. The century that Greece lost had to be added to the end (1914-2014). The “beast” of Mystery Babylon took full control of money in 1914 through the Federal Reserve Bank. But even this final portion of the rule of “beasts” can hardly be applied to Antiochus, for he died in 164 B.C. If anything, the century from 1914-2014 might see some parallels to 163-63 B.C.—the century after Antiochus died.
Daniel 8:18 says,
18 Now 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.
If Gabriel could put Daniel to sleep with his long expositions, then I feel much better about myself, for I have put many to sleep as well. In fact, it may be that the more people fall asleep, the greater the message!
It appears that Daniel was in “a deep sleep” when he stood upright. In other words, Gabriel’s explanation was given to him in some sort of dream state. It appears that the revelation about the 2,300 evenings and mornings was the only part of the explanation given prior to going into a dream state.
Daniel 8:19 says,
19 And he 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.” 20 The ram which you saw with the two horns represents the kings of Media and Persia. 21 And the shaggy goat represents the kingdom of Greece, and the large horn that is between his eyes is the first king. 22 And the 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.
Gabriel tells us specifically that the vision is about the end of the reign of Media and Persia and the rise of Greece. The large horn is “the first king,” that is, Alexander the Great. That horn was “broken,” and four others took its place when Alexander’s empire was divided among his four generals. These were to rule the territory that Alexander conquered, but “not with his power.”
Then Gabriel explains the inferior horn that was to rise up at the end of the Grecian empire. Daniel 8:23 says,
23 And in the latter period of their rule, when the transgressors have run their course, a king will arise insolent and skilled in intrigue.
We see here that “the time of the end” (vs. 17, 19) is defined in verse 23 as “the latter period of their rule.” Whose rule? The four horns that arose when Alexander’s “horn” was broken. The CV renders it, “in the latter time of their kingdom.” This is the time frame for the rest of Gabriel’s explanation, for he focuses exclusively on this inferior horn (Antiochus) in verses 23-26.
Daniel 8:24, 25 continues,
24 And his power will be mighty, but not by his own power, and he will destroy to an extraordinary degree and prosper and perform his will; He will destroy mighty men and the holy people. 25 And through his shrewdness he will cause deceit to succeed by his influence; and he will magnify himself in his heart, and he will destroy many while they are at ease. He will even oppose the Prince of princes, but he will be broken without human agency.
The power of Antiochus was “mighty,” from the Judean perspective, but because his actions were brought about by the transgressions of the Judeans themselves (Daniel 8:12), it can be said truthfully that Antiochus’ strength was “not by his own power.” He was given power by the divine court that sat in judgment upon the Judean nation itself. So while most people want to blame Antiochus for his transgressions, we must also recognize that Antiochus would have had no power to inflict these atrocities had the people of Judea been blameless.
Having said that, God also judged Antiochus himself for going beyond his mandate. Thus, even as he had power to judge the Judeans, so also he was "broken without human agency" as well. God took the credit for raising up Antiochus and for breaking his power as well.
God also judged the Grecian empire itself, for even though it had not yet fallen to Rome, they lost control of Judea and Jerusalem itself, which was the focal point of divine judgment. God had raised up the beast nations at the beginning, specifically to bring judgment upon Jerusalem. It was Jerusalem itself that was to be “trodden down” by the nations (“gentiles”) during “the time of the nations.”
Antiochus was God’s rod of chastisement upon Jerusalem, but he overstepped his mandate by desecrating the temple. Gabriel puts it this way: “He will even oppose the Prince of princes” (vs. 25). As Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ is the human form of Yahweh, the God that was revealed to Moses. Scripture says that Yahweh has become my Yeshua (Exodus 15:2; Psalm 118:14; Isaiah 12:2). He is the “Prince of princes,” or, as the CV renders it, “Chief of chiefs.” We believe that this is Jesus Christ.
Daniel 8:26 concludes,
26 And the vision of the evenings and mornings which has been told is true; but keep the vision secret, for it pertains to many days in the future.
Daniel received this vision in the third year of Belshazzar, king of Babylon. Babylon had not yet fallen. Medo-Persia was soon to come. But this vision pertained to things far ahead in history, for it revealed events in the time of the third beast, which was to arise more than two centuries later. Antiochus himself came to power nearly 3½ centuries after Daniel’s vision. Few would understand it in his day, so Gabriel told him to keep it secret.
Daniel 8:27 then shows us how this explanation affected the prophet:
27 Then I, Daniel, was exhausted and sick for days. Then I got up again and carried on the king’s business; but I was astounded at the vision, and there was none to explain it.
The CV says, “there is no one who understands.” We do not know how long Daniel called in sick from his job, but finally he was able to carry on with the king’s business. He was, after all, still employed by the government of Babylon.
This is part 37 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Daniel." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones