ANTIOCHUS IV (EPIPHANES) AND 164 B. C.
The great majority of Bible commentaries, past and present, have interpreted the “little horn” of Daniel 8 as Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) of the Greek Seleucids who ruled from Syria. Since Daniel 11:3-4 uses the same terminology as Daniel 8:8-9, 22, it is certain that both texts refer to the same kingdom. It is noteworthy that even William Miller (in a strange way) connected Daniel 9:23 with First Maccabees 8 and 9. See #6 of Miller’s Time Proved in Fifteen Different Ways found in Cultic Doctrine by Dale Ratzlaff.
One of the four kingdoms which emerged from the Grecian goat after Alexander’s death was the Greek Seleucid Kingdom, described in Daniel 11:4-20. Antiochus IV reigned from 175 to 164 B. C. Most commentators agree that his hatred of the Jews and desecration of their Temple is recorded in great detail in Daniel 11:21-35.
Although insignificant in history as a whole, in Daniel’s history of nations which persecute Israel, Antiochus IV is a key figure. As such, he is also a type of the last-day Antichrist (Matt. 24:15; Mark 13:14).
The Jews living during Antiochus’ reign understood and interpreted Daniel 8:8-14 to their time. The two historical books of Maccabees detail the desolations that Antiochus inflicted on Israel from 171 to 164 B. C. Although neither inspired nor canonical, First and Second Maccabees are accepted by historians as mostly reliable accounts of the events of that time period. Serious Bible students are encouraged to read these books and compare them with Daniel 8 and 11.
From Daniel and other sources, the contextual and historical meaning of the “abomination of desolation” is the desecration of the Temple when Antiochus erected a statue of Zeus inside the temple and sacrificed a pig on the altar on December 25, 167 B. C. in honor of the birth of the Sun god. This single act of desolation so incited the Jews that it began a revolt which ended in Jewish independence for the first time since 586 B. C. This end of foreign rule has been celebrated as the important Jewish festival of Hanukkah, meaning “dedication” (of the sanctuary) from 164 B. C. until today.
In Daniel 8:13 the “host” is national Israel who is “trodden under foot” by Antiochus IV, the little horn of Daniel 8. The “host” would cease to be “trodden under foot” when the Maccabean rebellion overthrew Antiochus in 164 B. C.
First Maccabees 1:10-15 “From them came forth a sinful root, Antiochus Epiphanes, son of Antiochus the king; he had been a hostage in Rome. He began to reign in the one hundred and thirty-seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks. In those days lawless men came forth from Israel, and misled many, saying ‘Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles round about us, for since we separated from them many evils have come upon us.’ This proposal pleased them, and some of the people eagerly went to the king. He authorized them to observe the ordinances of the Gentiles. So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem according to the Gentile custom, and removed the marks of circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant. They joined with the Gentiles and sold themselves to do evil.”
Matthew Henry’s Commentary of 1825 applied Daniel 8:9-14 to Antiochus IV. “But it is less forced to understand them of so many natural days; 2300 days make six years and three months, and about eighteen days; and just so long they reckon from the defection of the people, procured by Menelaus the high priest in the 142nd year of the kingdom of the Seleucids, the sixth month of that year, and the 6th day of the month (so Josephus dates it), to the cleansing of the sanctuary, and the reestablishment of religion among them, which was in the 148th year, the 9th month, and the 25th day of the month, 1 Mac. 4:52. God reckons the time of his people’s afflictions he is afflicted.”
The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary says “Six years and 110 days. This includes not only the three and a half years during which the daily sacrifice was forbidden by Antiochus (Josephus, ‘Bellum Judaicum,’i.1, sec.1), but the whole series of events whereby it was practically interrupted: beginning with the >little horn waxing great toward the pleasant land,’ and ‘casting some of the host’ (Dan. 8:9‑10); namely, when in 171 B. C., or the month Sivan in the year 142 of the era of the Seleucids, the sacrifices began to be neglected, owing to the high priest Jason introducing at Jerusalem Grecian customs and amusements‑‑ the palaestra and gymnasium; ending with the death of Antiochus, 165 B. C., or the month Shebath in the year 148 of the Seleucid era. Compare 1 Macc. 1:11‑15; 2 Macc. 4:7‑14. After the death of Seleucus, when Antiochus called Epiphanes took the kingdom, Jason, the brother of Onias, labored underhand to be high priest, promising unto the king, by intercession, three hundred and threescore talents of silver, etc., if he might have license to set him up a place for exercise, and, for the training up of youth in the fashions of the pagan, and to write them of Jerusalem by the name of Antiochians: which, when the king had granted, and he had gotten into his hand the rule, he forthwith brought his own nation to the Greekish fashionB he brought up new customs against the law‑‑ and made them wear a hat.”
This explanation says that the entire defilement lasted 2300 days, or six years plus.
1 Mac 1:10 175 B. C.; 137th Seleucid year; Antiochus begins reign
1 Mac 1:10-15 *171 B. C. desolating covenant to worship Greek gods
2 Mac 4:7-18 neglected sacrifices
1 Mac 1:16-19 Antiochus plunders Egypt
1 Mac 1:20-28 169 B. C.; plunders temple
1 Mac 1:29-64 167 B. C. plundered Jerusalem
1 Mac 1:39 completely stopped sanctuary services
1 Mac 1:43-53 sacrificed pig; death decree
1 Mac 1:54-64 sets up a desolating sacrilege inside the temple
2 Mac 6:1, 2 “compel the Jews to forsake the laws of their fathers and cease to live by the laws of God, and also to pollute the temple in Jerusalem and call it the temple of Olympian Zeus.”
1 Mac 4:42-58 **164 BC; sanctuary cleansed; Antiochus died
2 Mac 10:1-8 sanctuary purified
The following sources are a very small representation which agree with Matthew Henry and Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown. The Scofield Reference Bible, (Congregational), 1909; The New Bible Commentary, (Presbyterian influence), Inter-Varsity, 1953 Fellowship; The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Moody Press, 1962; The Ryrie Study Bible, Moody Press, 1986.