Continue Chap 7
See notes from last week.
Daniel chapter 8 is a preacher’s nightmare. Even noted scholars hesitate to be dogmatic in their interpretation of this chapter. Daniel himself has not the foggiest notion of the vision’s meaning, even after the angel Gabriel has interpreted the vision for him.
Daniel had a purpose for including this information in his introduction. He wants his readers to know that the prophecy of chapter 8 must be understood in the context of the reign of Belshazzar, and particularly in light of the events described in chapter 5. Further, the prophecy of chapter 8 should be understood in relationship to the prophecy of chapter 7. Even though the prophecy of chapter 7 is written in Aramaic and chapter 8 in Hebrew, these two prophecies cannot be understood in isolation; they must be understood in relationship to each other.
Verse 1 tells us when Daniel received the vision and explains the relationship of the second vision to the first, recorded in chapter 7. Verse 2 is more geographical, telling us not where Daniel was when he received the vision, but where he was in the vision. His vision transported him both in time and space,83 as he found himself in Susa,84 about 150 miles north of the head of the Persian Gulf. Susa, the ancient capital of Elam, was destined in a few years to become a leading city in the Persian empire and the location of the king’s palace (see Nehemiah 1:1; Esther 1:2, 5: 2:3, 5). The canal (or river, see marginal note in NASB) mentioned by Daniel may have been the very one down which Alexander would later sail his fleet.85
How dramatically “things to come” are communicated to the prophet Daniel. He is actually transported to the future capital of the Persian empire. There, in Susa, beside the Ulai Canal, he learns that the two kingdoms which will follow the Babylonian empire will be Medo-Persia and Greece (see verses 20-21). We might liken it to an English prophet in the sixteenth century being transported to Washington D.C. in the twenty-first century. It will be some 12 years until the death of Belshazzar and the end of the Babylonian domination of the world, but Daniel’s vision takes him to the very capital of Persia where Nehemiah and Esther will later dwell.
Introduction: Alexander (The Ram)
Though his father Philip II of Macedonia had united all the Greek city-states except Sparta, Alexander is considered Greece’s first king.
Alexander the Great (the prominent horn, 8:5) came from the west with a small but fast army. He was enraged (v. 6) at the Persians for having defeated the Greeks at the Battle of Marathon (490 B.C.) and the Battle of Salamis (481), Greek cities near Athens. He quickly conquered Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, and Mesopotamia in a few years, beginning in 334 B.C. The Persians were helpless to resist him (v. 7). (See the map on p. 1357, “The Route of Alexander’s Conquests.”) Alexander died of malaria and complications from alcoholism in 323 B.C. at the age of 32 in Babylon. At the height of his power he was cut off (v. 8).
Alexander had no obvious or legitimate heir, his son Alexander IV by Roxane being born after Alexander's death. This left the huge question as to who would rule the newly-conquered, and barely-pacified Empire. According to Diodorus, Alexander's companions asked him when he was on his deathbed to whom he bequeathed his kingdom; his laconic reply was "tôi kratistôi"—"to the strongest". Given that Arrian and Plutarch have Alexander speechless by this point, it is possible that this is an apocryphal story. Diodorus, Curtius and Justin also have the more plausible story of Alexander passing his signet ring to Perdiccas, one of his bodyguard and leader of the companion cavalry, in front of witnesses, thereby possibly nominating Perdiccas as his successor.
In any event, Perdiccas initially avoided explicitly claiming power, instead suggesting that Roxane's baby would be king, if male; with himself, Craterus, Leonnatus and Antipater as guardians. However, the infantry, under the command of Meleager, rejected this arrangement since they had been excluded from the discussion. Instead, they supported Alexander's half-brother Philip Arrhidaeus. Eventually, the two sides reconciled, and after the birth of Alexander IV, he and Philip III were appointed joint kings of the Empire—albeit in name only.
It was not long, however, before dissension and rivalry began to afflict the Macedonians. The satrapies handed out by Perdiccas at the Partition of Babylon became power bases each general could use to launch his own bid for power. After the assassination of Perdiccas in 321 BC, all semblance of Macedonian unity collapsed, and 40 years of war between "The Successors" (Diadochi) ensued before the Hellenistic world settled into four stable power blocks: the Ptolemaic kingdom of Egypt, the Seleucid Empire in the east, the kingdom of Pergamon in Asia minor, and Macedon. In the process, both Alexander IV and Philip III were murdered.
Initial partition 320BC:
After the Diadoch Wars 300BC:
I. The Ram and the Goat Chap 8
A. Why the farm animals compared to Chap 7?
B. The Ram ( Media and Persia)
C. Note the longer “higher” one coming after the shorter one. V 3
a. Media is the first one.
b. Persia the second.
c. I explained earlier from history that the initial kingdom looks more like a confederacy than an empire. Remember a Median army captured Babylon and it was ruled by a Median governor. The latter Persian Empire dominated with leaders like Darius and Xerxes.
D. The Goat
a. Why a goat. Actual interpretation is “ a he goat of the goats”
b. Greece (Democratic)
c. The “conspicuous” horn is Alexander I.
d. The four horns are: Kingdom of Ptolemy I Soter (Egypt), Kingdom of Cassander (Greec e/Macedonia), Kingdom of Lysimachus (Lydia/Western Turkey) and Kingdom of Seleucus I Nicator (Assyria, Babylon and Persia).
e. The end of their rule. Selucia fell to the Romans around 63 BC by Pompey.
Selucia was made into a Roman province due to its instability and revolts.
f. Ptolemy fell about 20 years later to the Romans. You should remember the stories of Cleopatra VII and Cesaer.
g. Anitiochus Epiphines and Israel (Maccabean Revolt)
Notes on the Maccabean revolt:
In the 2nd century BCE, the land of Israel lay between Egypt and the Seleucid empire. Both Egypt and the Seleucid empire were states descended from the break up of Alexander the Great’s Greek empire. Since the rule of Alexander in 336–323 BCE, a process of Hellenization had spread through the near East. When Antiochus IV Epiphanes (ca. 215–164 BCE), became ruler of the Seleucid Empire in 175 BCE, Hellenizing Jews had been long-established in Israel. They had built a gymnasium, competed internationally in Greek games, "removed their marks of circumcision and repudiated the holy covenant"
Conflict over the appointment of the High Priest and corruption contributed to the causes of the Maccabean Revolt. The High Priest in Jerusalem was Onias III. His brother Jason, who favoured the Seleucids, bribed Antiochus to make him High Priest instead. Antiochus was insensitive to the views of religious Jews and treated the High Priest as a political appointee and one from whom money could be made. To Antiochus the High Priest was merely a local governor within his realm, who could be appointed or dismissed at will, while to orthodox Jews he was divinely appointed.
Menelaus (who was not even a member of the Levite priestly family) then bribed Antiochus and was appointed High Priest in place of Jason. Menelaus had Onias assassinated. His brother Lysimachus took holy vessels from the Temple, causing riots and the thief's death at the hands of the rioters. Menelaus was arrested and arraigned before Antiochus, but he bribed his way out of trouble. Jason subsequently drove out Menelaus and became High Priest again. Antiochus pillaged the Temple, attacked Jerusalem and "led captive the women and children". From this point onwards, Antiochus pursued a Hellenizing policy with zeal. This effectively meant banning traditional Jewish religious practice. In 167 BCE Jewish sacrifice was forbidden, sabbaths and feasts were banned and circumcision was outlawed. Altars to Greek gods were set up and animals prohibited to Jews were sacrificed on them. The Olympian Zeus was placed on the altar of the Temple. Possession of Jewish scriptures was made a capital offence. The king's motives are unclear. He may have been incensed at the overthrow of his appointee, Menelaus, he may have been responding to a Jewish revolt that had drawn on the Temple and the Torah for its strength, or he may have been encouraged by a group of radical Hellenizers among the Jews.
After Antiochus issued his decrees forbidding Jewish religious practice, a rural Jewish priest from Modiin, Mattathias the Hasmonean, sparked the revolt against the Seleucid Empire by refusing to worship the Greek gods. Mattathias killed a Hellenistic Jew who stepped forward to offer a sacrifice to an idol in Mattathias' place. He and his five sons fled to the wilderness of Judah. After Mattathias' death about one year later in 166 BCE, his son Judah Maccabee led an army of Jewish dissidents to victory over the Seleucid dynasty in guerrilla warfare, which at first was directed against Jewish collaborators, of whom there were many. The Maccabees destroyed pagan altars in the villages, circumcised children and forced Jews into outlawry. The term Maccabees as used to describe the Jewish army is taken from its actual use as Judah's surname.
The revolt itself involved many battles, in which the Maccabean forces gained notoriety among the Syrian army for their use of guerrilla tactics. After the victory, the Maccabees entered Jerusalem in triumph and ritually cleansed the Temple, reestablishing traditional Jewish worship there and installing Jonathan Maccabee as high priest. A large Syrian army was sent to quash the revolt, but returned to Syria on the death of Antiochus IV. Its commander Lysias, preoccupied with internal Syrian affairs, agreed to a political compromise that restored religious freedom.
The Jewish festival of Hanukkah celebrates the re-dedication of the Temple following Judah Maccabee's victory over the Seleucids.
Following the re-dedication of the temple, the supporters of the Maccabees were divided over the question of whether to continue fighting or not. When the revolt began under the leadership of Mattathias, it was seen, in the view of the author of the First Book of Maccabees, as a war for religious freedom to end the oppression of the Seleucids. However, as the Maccabees realized how successful they had been, many wanted to continue the revolt and conquer other lands with Jewish populations or to convert their peoples. This policy exacerbated the divide between the Pharisees and Sadducees under later Hasmonean monarchs such as Alexander Jannaeus. Those who sought the continuation of the war were led by Judah Maccabee.
On his death in battle in 160 BCE, Judah was succeeded as army commander by his younger brother, Jonathan, who was already High Priest. Jonathan made treaties with various foreign states, causing further dissent between those who merely desired religious freedom and those who sought greater power.
In 142 BCE Jonathan was assassinated by Diodotus Tryphon, a pretender to the Seleucid throne, and was succeeded by Simon Maccabee, the last remaining son of Mattathias. Simon gave support to Demetrius II Nicator, the Seleucid king, and in return Demetrius exempted the Maccabees from tribute. Simon conquered the port of Joppa and the fortress of Gezer and expelled the garrison from the Acra in Jerusalem. In 140 BCE, he was recognised by an assembly of the priests, leaders and elders as high priest, military commander and ruler of Israel. Their decree became the basis of the Hasmonean kingdom. Shortly after, the Roman senate renewed its alliance with the Hasmonean kingdom and commanded its allies in the eastern Mediterranean to do so also. Although the Maccabees won autonomy, the region remained a province of the Seleucid empire and Simon was required to provide troops to Antiochus VII Sidetes, the brother of Demetrius II. When Simon refused to give up the territory he had conquered, Antiochus took them by force.
Simon was murdered in 134 BCE by his son-in-law Ptolemy, and succeeded as high priest and king by his son John Hyrcanus I. Antiochus conquered the entire district of Judea, but refrained from attacking the Temple or interfering with Jewish observances. Judea was freed from Seleucid rule on the death of Antiochus in 129 BCE.
Hasmonean rule lasted until 63 BCE, when the Roman general Pompey captured Jerusalem and subjected Israel to Roman rule, while the Hasmonean dynasty itself ended in 37 BCE when the Idumean Herod the Great became king of Israel and king of the Jews.