The 2300-day Dilemma

Compiled by Brother Anderson

"And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." Dan. 8:14

Seventh-day Adventists have a truly unique understanding of Daniel 8, different from any other Christian denomination. This article will examine the teachings of Ellen White and the SDA Church regarding Daniel 8 and the 2300-day prophecy.

The Little Horn of Daniel 8

In order to understand the 2300 days, one must first understand the identity of the "little horn" of Daniel 8:9. The "little horn" is the entity that makes the "sanctuary" desolate for 2300 days. Seventh-day Adventists teach that the "little horn" of Daniel 8 is the Roman power. Pioneer Adventist theologian J.N. Andrews writes,

"Accordingly, the activities attributed to this 'little horn' in Daniel 8:10-13,23-25; 11:31; and 12:11 are to be understood as embracing both pagan and papal Rome in their scope." (The Prophecy of Daniel, The Four Kingdoms, The Sanctuary, and the 2300 Days, pp. 69-70).

Adventist pioneer Uriah Smith assures us there can be no other explanation:

"Rome meets all the specifications of the prophecy. No other power does meet them. Hence Rome, and no other, is the power in question." (Daniel and the Revelation, p. 162)

Is it true that only Rome can possibly represent the little horn of Daniel 8? Let us examine the evidence.

To understand why Adventists teach that the little horn of Daniel 8 is Rome, we must first go to the previous chapter of Daniel. In Daniel 7, there is also a "little horn" power which early Protestant scholars, and later Adventists, described as the persecuting power of Rome. Matthew Henry, writing in the year 1712, acknowledges that some Protestants believe the little horn of Daniel 7 to be Rome:

"The fourth kingdom to be that of the Romans, and the little horn to be Julius Caesar, and the succeeding emperors (says Calvin), the antichrist, the papal kingdom." (Matthew Henry, Commentary, p. 1075)

According to SDA teaching, the little horn of Daniel 7 and the little horn of Daniel 8 are the same power. At face value, this seems reasonable since they are both described as "little horns". However, we will soon discover there are far more differences than similarities between these two little horns.

First, it is important to understand there is an important shift in emphasis that happens in the book of Daniel between chapters seven and eight. This shift indicates a different emphasis.

Daniel 7 Daniel 8
World powers represented by unclean beasts. World powers represented by the sacrificial animals of the sanctuary service.
Written in Aramaic, a Gentile language. This could indicate the intended audience is the Gentile world. Written in Hebrew. This could indicate the intended audience is the Jews.
The prophetic spotlight is on the entire world. Emphasizes the Jewish sanctuary services.

These differences indicate that while chapter 7 is focusing on the world in general, chapter 8 narrows the focus to future events of particular interest to Israel.

Differences Between the Little Horns of Daniel 7 and 8

There are important differences between the little horn of Daniel 7 and the little horn of Daniel 8:

Little Horn of Daniel 7 Little Horn of Daniel 8
Is associated with a beast representing the fourth empire Is associated with a beast representing the third empire
Rises directly out of the head of the beast It does not come up from the head of the goat, but rises out of an already existing horn
Comes up in the midst of 10 already existing horns (which, according to SDA theology, is after the 4th power has been divided into 10 parts - 476 A.D.) It rises from one of the four horns of the third empire
It is a fresh, new power, rising out of the body of the old fourth empire, becoming the predominant horn among 7 other horns The imagery is of a small horn growing out from a larger horn, one of the four horns on the goat's head (third empire)
Is a horn that comes out of a beast Is a horn that comes out of a horn
Uproots three horns in its rise Uproots no horns in its rise
Is said to be "diverse from" the other 10 horns, conveying that this horn would be a new a different power Nothing indicating this horn is new or different in any way
The Aramaic for little horn in 7:8 is strictly translated, "another horn, a little one" The Hebrew for little horn in 8:9 is strictly translated, "a horn from littleness"
Is "more stout than his fellows" (v. 20). In other words, it represents a power that is stronger than those symbolized by the 10 other horns. Is a horn out of a horn, a "horn of littleness." It is insignificant compared to the four "notable horns" and the one original Alexandrine horn of the goat.
Its field of influence is the entire 4th empire, since it arises from the head of the beast and becomes the dominant horn among the other 10 horns. It pertains to only one of the four divisions of the goat power. Its attention is restricted principally to a minor province of one division of the goat's empire, namely the "pleasant land" of verse 9, which is Palestine.
Lifts himself up against "the Most High" and the "saints of the Most High." These are the saints of God throughout the entire 4th empire. Malevolence is directed against the Jewish people, their high priest, sacrifices and sanctuary. The atmosphere and coloring of chapter 8 indicate a local and Levitical battle.

It is obvious that there are many significant differences between the little horn of Daniel 7 and the little horn of Daniel 8. There are also differences in the timing of when the horns arrived on the scene of history.

When does the Little Horn of Daniel 8 Arise?

"And out of one of them [one of the goat's (Greece's) four horns] came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the east, and toward the pleasant land." Daniel 8:9

Daniel 8:9 says the little horn would originate from one of the divisions of Alexander's empire when these were in their "latter time" (v. 23). This points toward a power originating from the Greek world sometime after Alexander died and his kingdom was divided (301 BC). Rome was never part of the Alexandrian Empire, nor did it originate from one of the divisions of the Greek Empire. Rome came from Italy, and was founded in 750 BC. Rome became a republic in 509 BC. Rome did conquer the four divisions of the Grecian empire, but this is further proof that Rome did not arise from any of the four divisions of Alexander's empire. Therefore, Rome could not possibly fit the prophetic symbol of a horn arising from a horn within the Greek Empire.

The "little horn" of Daniel 7 did not have its beginning until the ten horns (emporers/caesars) had been reigned, which was in the first century AD. The "little horn" of Daniel 8 was to come up "in the latter time of their kingdom" (v. 23). "Their kingdom" refers to the four divisions of the Alexandrian Empire. The "latter time" or last days of the four Greek kingdoms was 200 BC - 100 BC. Therefore, the little horn of Daniel 8 was to arise centuries before the little horn of Daniel 7 existed! This difference in timing is strong evidence that the two "little horn" powers are not the same. They arise at vastly different points in human history.

According to Adventists, the 2300 days began in 457 BC and ended in 1844 AD. During this time period the little horn of Daniel 8 is supposed to be "treading underfoot" the sanctuary. According to SDA teaching, this began with pagan Rome treading underfoot the earthly sanctuary, and then later became papal Rome treading underfoot the heavenly sanctuary. This presents a whole host of dilemmas:

  1. Rome did not have any contact with the Jewish nation until 161 BC. How could the little horn have begun its desecrating work in 457 BC, 296 years before it even came into contact with the Jewish state? Rome had no part whatsoever in the activities of 457 BC and thus could not possibly be the "little horn" described in Daniel 8.

  2. Rome lived peacefully with the Jewish nation and did not even molest the Jews until after Palestine became a part of the Roman Empire in 63 BC. How could the little horn be "trampling underfoot" the Sanctuary for nearly 400 years when it never even interfered with the sanctuary service during that time period?

  3. If Papal Rome is the little horn of Daniel 8 during the latter part of the 2300 days, then what happened to papal Rome on October 22, 1844? Did the Papacy suddenly stop defiling the Sanctuary in 1844? Was it "broken without hand" (vs. 25) in 1844? Why is there no event in papal history to coincide with the end of the 2300 days?

  4. If pagan Rome neither persecuted the Jews nor stopped the sacrifices in 457 BC, and if there is no event in papal history to coincide with the close of the 2300 days in 1844, then how can we possibly attach Rome to this prophecy?

Daniel 8 does not say that the four horns were absorbed by the little horn, as the four divisions of Alexander's empire were by Rome. The Roman application makes something quite different of the prophecy than is indicated by Daniel's symbols. One who reads the entire chapter cannot fail to see one event following another:

  1. The rise of the 'great horn' (Alexander) comes first
  2. He rules for a time, and is 'broken'
  3. His empire is divided into four new empires
  4. The 'little horn' comes on the scene AFTER this division

One event is dependent upon another, and we can follow the course of these events through history. Now, consider the following chronology carefully:

  1. Alexander died in 323 BC
  2. Alexander's kingdom was divided in 301 BC
  3. The little horn could not have come on the scene until AFTER 301 BC!
How could the little horn be desecrating the Sanctuary in 457 BC when the prophecy does not even show it arising until after 301 BC?

Little Horn of Daniel 8 is a King, not an Empire

"And in the latter time of their kingdom [4 divisions of the Greek Empire], when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up." Dan. 8:23

There can be no doubt that Gabriel is here identifying the "little horn" of verse 9 as the "king of fierce countenance." The Hebrew word for "king" in verse 23 is melek, and means "a king; king, royal" (Strong's). The word, melek, is never translated "kingdom, or world power, or empire." Gabriel uses the same Hebrew word, melek, to identify the goat's great horn in verse 21, which all Bible scholars agree refers to Alexander. In verse 23 (see above) the word "kingdom" comes from the Hebrew word malkuth, meaning "a dominion, empire, kingdom, realm, reign, royal" (Strong's). Therefore, Gabriel made an obvious distinction in using these two words. Here is what Gabriel said:

Out of a malkuth [dominion, realm, empire, kingdom] a melek [ruler, king] shall stand up.

Proceeding from verse 23, the king is referred to in a personal manner. The words "his" and "he" appear 10 times in the subsequent verses 24 and 25. This denotes that an individual is being referenced, not a world power.

If not Rome, then who is it?

If the Little Horn is not Rome, then who is it? There is a near-unanimous opinion among Bible scholars of all denominations--Jewish and Christian, and even including a few prominent SDA scholars--that the Little Horn is Antiochus Epiphanes. As we examine the evidence below, it will become abundantly clear that Antiochus Epiphanes fulfills every specification of Daniel 8 with exactness. The same cannot be said of Rome. The fact that the little horn began its work long before Rome had any contact with the Jews, and the fact that the little horn arose from one of the divisions of the Greek Empire, would seem to eliminate Rome as it fits neither the place nor the time. Furthermore, the little horn is described as a specific king, not an empire. Therefore, since Rome fails to meet these fundamental requirements of the prophecy, let us examine Antiochus Epiphanes to determine if he fulfills the specifications of this prophecy. We will examine the chapter, verse by verse.

8:9 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.

According to Dan. 8:9, the horn first attacks the south, then toward the east, and en route to the east, attacks the pleasant land. The kingdom of Antiochus Epiphanes was centered in Syria, which was to the north of Israel. Notice that during his career, Antiochus attacked only to the South and East of Syria:

South - "Antiochus entered Egypt, and fought against [its king] Ptolemy Philometer, king of it, took many cities, and besieged Alexandria; and in all probability would have subdued the whole country, had not the Romans restrained him, by sending their ambassador Popilius to him, who obliged him to desist and depart." (Gill's Exposition) The military campaigns of Antiochus against Egypt are described in 1 Maccabees 1:19,20:

"Thus they got the strong cities in the land of Egypt, and he took the spoils thereof, and after that Antiochus had smitten Egypt, he returned again in the hundred and forty and third year, and went up against Israel and Jerusalem with a great multitude."

East - towards Armenia and Persia, the Atropatii in Media, and the countries beyond the Euphrates, whom he made tributary to him:

"Wherefore, being greatly perplexed in his mind, he determined to go into Persia, there to take the tributes of the countries, and to gather much money." (1 Maccabees 3:31)

"About that time king Antiochus traveling through the high countries heard say, that Elymais in the country of Persia was a city greatly renowned for riches, silver, and gold; 2 And that there was in it a very rich temple, wherein were coverings of gold, and breastplates, and shields, which Alexander, son of Philip, the Macedonian king, who reigned first among the Grecians, had left there." (1 Maccabees 6:1,2)

Pleasant Land - The term pleasant land is found three times in the Bible outside of the book of Daniel, and in each case it refers to the promised land of Israel (see Psalms 106:23-26, Jeremiah 3:18-19, Zechariah 7:7,14). Antiochus assaulted the land of Israel, killing tens of thousands of Jews, in an attempt to stamp out the Jewish religion.

Antiochus' sphere of operations was precisely in the three areas that Daniel mentions. This is not true of Rome. Many of Rome's greatest conquests were to the North and West of Rome. Rome conquered large regions of northwestern Europe, the areas now occupied by England, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, and Portugal. They conquered the northwestern regions of Africa, areas now occupied by Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Rome was definitely a power that waxed exceeding great to the north and to the west. Therefore, Rome cannot fit the specification of this prophecy.

In his book 1844 Made Simple, Adventist author Clifford Goldstein argues that compared with Persia and Greece, Antiochus was not "exceeding great," and therefore could not have been the little horn of Dan. 8:9. A careful reading of Dan. 8:9 reveals that the prophecy never says the little horn will be exceeding great in comparison to Persia and Greece. The little horn is not compared with other powers, but merely said to wax "exceeding great" in three regions: to the south, the east, and the pleasant land. Antiochus was not a big horn on a big stage. He was a little horn that played a big role on a little stage. His conquering of Egypt and his attack against Judaism can certainly be described as "exceeding great" on the stage of Middle Eastern history during this time period. It can be argued that of all the foes of Judaism, Antiochus Epiphanes came the closest to stamping out the religion. His attack upon Judaism can only be described as "exceeding great."

Now let us examine the next verse of Daniel 8:

8:10 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.

This verse is not talking about heavenly beings, because no empire, not even Rome, has cast down heavenly beings. Both the Bible and the Jewish Apocrypha use similar language to describe the priests and rulers of the Hebrew people. Here are some examples:

  • The sons of Jacob are described in Joseph's dream as being stars. (Genesis 37:9)
  • In Isaiah 24:21 the Jewish rulers are called, "...the host of the high ones that are on high..."
  • In 2nd Maccabees 9:10 Antiochus is described as, "the man, that thought a little afore he could reach to the stars of heaven..."

Albert Barnes, in his Notes on Daniel, amplifies:

"'And it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground' The horn seemed to grow up to the stars, and to wrest them from their places, and to cast them down to the earth. Antiochus, in fulfillment of this, cast down and trampled on the princes, and rulers, and people, of the holy host or army of God. All that is implied in this was abundantly fulfilled in what he did to the Jewish people. See 1 Mac. 1 and 2 Mac. 8:2. 'And stamped upon them,' with indignation and contempt. Nothing could better express the conduct of Antiochus toward the Jews." (p. 345)

Now let us examine the next verse of Daniel 8:

8:11 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.

Who is the "prince of the host"? Strong's defines "prince" (sar) as "a head person, captain, chief, general, governor, keeper, lord, master, prince, ruler, steward." Therefore, the little horn would magnify himself to the head/captain/ruler of the host. Antiochus did this literally, during his rule, when the high priest, Onias, was driven into exile and later killed in the cruelest manner.

Furthermore, Antiochus figuratively magnified himself to the ultimate prince of the host, God Himself. His surname Theo Antiochus declared him to be an effulgence in human form of the Divine, a god manifest in the flesh (see Edwin Bevan, The House of Seleucus, vol. 2, p. 154).

Antiochus Epiphanes unleashed a vicious attack upon the Jewish sanctuary and the Jewish religion in an attempt to stamp the religion out of existence. He forbid the daily sacrifice of lambs and profaned the sanctuary. The book of Maccabees describes how the daily sacrifice was taken away, and how the sanctuary was desolated:

"And in his arrogance he went into the sanctuary and took the gold altar and the lampstand for the light, and all its furniture..." (1 Maccabees 1:21)

Antiochus' attack on the Jewish religion was the worst crisis to face the Jews between the Babylonian captivity in 606 BC and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. After two years the situation for the sanctuary worsened:

"And they shed innocent blood all around the sanctuary, and polluted the sanctuary itself. ... Her sanctuary became a desolate wilderness..." (1 Maccabees 1:37,39)

Antiochus' goal was to destroy the Jewish religion and have all the people of Palestine unite and worship his heathen religion on penalty of death. He commanded:

"Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that they should all become one people, and everyone should give up his particular practices. ... and put a stop to whole burnt offerings and sacrifices and drink offerings at the sanctuary..." (1 Maccabees 1:41,42,45)

Now let us examine the next verse of Daniel 8:

8:12 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 practiced, and prospered.

The Bible says these calamities came upon the Jews "by reason of transgression." In other words, it was the sins of the Jews that brought this calamity upon themselves. It was the Jews who actually took the initiative in Hellenizing Jerusalem. A deputation of leading Jews came to Antiochus, shortly after he took power, begging for permission to convert Jerusalem into an Antioch and erect the essential mark of a Hellenic city, the gymnasium. Later, after Antiochus installed his own high priest, the gymnasium was built and soon thronged with young priests, pursuing the Hellenic ideal of bodily strength and beauty. (See Bevan, The House of Seleucus, vol. 2, pp. 168-181).

Now let us examine the next verses:

8:13 Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?
8:14 And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.

Adventists claim that fitting the events of Antiochus' time period into the chronology of the prophecy takes some juggling. But the chronology of Antiochus fits the prophecy far better than Rome does. Adventists apply the "year-day" principle to Daniel 8:14, claiming the 2300-days are equivalent to 2300-years. However, the Hebrew word for "day" (yowm or yamim for days) does not appear in the verse. The words translated "days" (`ereb boqer) literally meant "evenings and mornings." Since the context of the verse itself is talking about the daily sacrifices in the temple, which took place every morning and evening, the only reasonable conclusion is that this verse is talking about the daily sacrifices in the temple.

Certainly it would be reckless to apply the "year-day" principle to every prophecy where "days" are mentioned.

  • Jonah prophesied Nineveh would be destroyed in 40 days (Jonah 3:4), which did not equate to 40 years.
  • In Genesis 6:3 God prophesied there would be a period of 120 years before the flood, which did not equate to 43,200 years.

Therefore, we must be careful when we apply the year-day principle, especially in cases where the word "day" does not even appear in the Hebrew text, as in Daniel 8:14.

The 2300-day prophecy witnessed an amazing fulfillment during the terrifying reign of Antiochus. Could it be that God foresaw this terrible threat coming 400 years before it happened, and sent a message to Daniel to comfort and assure His people that He would ultimately give them the victory? Amazingly, God told the Jews precisely how long His sanctuary would be profaned: 2300 evening and morning sacrifices would be suspended while the sanctuary was profaned.

How does the Jewish Calendar Work?
The Jewish lunar year contains 354 days, or 12 lunations of the moon. In a cycle of 19 years, an intercalary month (Veadar) is introduced seven times in order to render the average year nearly correct. Leap years occur in the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th, and 19th years of the cycle. One day is added to the month of Adar, and a 13th month (Veadar), containing 29 days is inserted, before Nisan. This adds 30 days to the year. Depending upon whether the latter year is regular, perfect, or defective, a leap year may consist of 383, 384, or 385 days. Thus, six years would be 6 multiplied by 354 days (an ordinary common year), plus four alternating months of 29 and 30 days each, plus two intercalary months of 29.

According to the Jewish calendar (see box on right), the 2300 days works out to be six years, three months, and 18 days. This time period began on the fifteenth day of the month Cisleu, in the year 145 of the Selucidae, in which Antiochus set up the Abomination of Desolation upon the altar of God:

"Now the five and twentieth day of the month they did sacrifice upon the idol altar, which was upon the altar of God." (1 Maccabees 1:59)

This was the beginning of a period of intense suffering for those in Israel who chose to remain faithful to God. Judas Maccabeus was outraged over the injustice done to God's sanctuary:

"Alas! Why was I born to witness the ruin of my people and the ruin of the holy city, and to sit by while it is being given up to its enemies, and the sanctuary to aliens? Her temple has come to be like a man disgraced... Behold, our sanctuary and our beauty and our glory have been laid waste, and the heathen have profaned them." (1 Maccabees 2:7,8,12)

Maccabeus rose up and started a revolt against Antiochus. For over three years he struggled and fought against the armies of Antiochus. Finally, he was victorious over Nicanor, on the thirteenth day of the month Adar, Anno 151, and the power of Antiochus over Judea was broken.

After his victory, when Judas entered Jerusalem, he found "the sanctuary desolate." (1 Mac. 4:38) Judas immediately directed the sanctuary be rebuilt and cleansed so that it could be used again for sacred services (1 Mac. 4:41-51). The Jews commemorate the triumph of Judas with an annual feast called the Feast of Dedication (or Hanukkah). The Savior honored this feast by His presence (John 10:22).

Reckoning the 2300 Days
There are two principle methods of reckoning the 2300-day period:
  1. Reckoning from the fifteenth day of the month Cisleu, in the year 145 of the Selucidae, in which Antiochus set up the abomination of desolation upon the altar (1 Maccabees 1:59), to the victory obtained over Nicanor by Judas, on the 13th day of the month Adar, Anno 151, are 2300 days. The Jews kept an annual feast on the 13th of Adar, in commemoration of the victory.

  2. The period began with the defection of the people from the pure religion by the Jewish high priest Menelaus, on the 6th day of the 6th month of Anno 141. According to Josephus, Menelaus went "to Antiochus, and informed him, that they were desirous to leave the laws of their country, and the Jewish way of living according to them, and to follow the king's laws, and the Grecian way of living." (Antiquities, bk. 7, ch. 5.1) The period ended on the twenty-fifth day of Cisleu in the year 148, when the Jews offered the daily sacrifice on the new altar of burnt offerings (1 Maccabees 4:52). This is a total of 2300 days.

Using either method results in a 2300-day period.

The Sanctuary was "cleansed" by Judas Maccabeus when he purified the holy places, sanctified the courts, rebuilt the altar, renewed the vessels of the sanctuary, and put all in their proper places:

"Then Judas appointed certain men to fight against those that were in the fortress, until he had cleansed the sanctuary. So he chose priests of blameless conversation, such as had pleasure in the law: Who cleansed the sanctuary, and bare out the defiled stones into an unclean place. And when as they consulted what to do with the altar of burnt offerings, which was profaned; They thought it best to pull it down, lest it should be a reproach to them, because the heathen had defiled it: wherefore they pulled it down, And laid up the stones in the mountain of the temple in a convenient place, until there should come a prophet to shew what should be done with them. Then they took whole stones according to the law, and built a new altar according to the former; And made up the sanctuary, and the things that were within the temple, and hallowed the courts. They made also new holy vessels, and into the temple they brought the candlestick, and the altar of burnt offerings, and of incense, and the table. And upon the altar they burned incense, and the lamps that were upon the candlestick they lighted, that they might give light in the temple. Furthermore they set the loaves upon the table, and spread out the veils, and finished all the works which they had begun to make." (1 Maccabees 4:41-51)

Thus we can see a stunning fulfillment of prophecy as Judas Maccabeus cleansed and vindicated the sanctuary of God at the end of a 2300-day period of desolation.

What does "cleansed" mean?

Daniel teaches that at the end of the 2300-day prophecy the sanctuary will be cleansed. The Hebrew word for "cleansed" is used 41 times in the Old Testament, and Dan. 8:14 is the only time the word is translated "cleansed." The word actually means "to vindicate" or "to justify." Notice Strong's definition:

06663 tsadaq {tsaw-dak'} - a primitive root; TWOT - 1879; v

AV - justify 23, righteous 10, just 3, justice 2, cleansed 1, clear ourselves 1, righteousness 1; 41

1) to be just, be righteous
1a) (Qal)
1a1) to have a just cause, be in the right
1a2) to be justified
1a3) to be just (of God)
1a4) to be just, be righteous (in conduct and character)
1b) (Niphal) to be put or made right, be justified
1c) (Piel) justify, make to appear righteous, make someone righteous
1d) (Hiphil)
1d1) to do or bring justice (in administering law)
1d2) to declare righteous, justify
1d3) to justify, vindicate the cause of, save
1d4) to make righteous, turn to righteousness
1e) (Hithpael) to justify oneself

Notice how it is translated in other versions of the Bible:

Darby Translation (1889):

And he said unto me, "Until two thousand and three hundred evenings and mornings: then shall the sanctuary be vindicated."
English Standard Version (2001):
And he said to me, "For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state."
Green's Modern KJV (1993):
And he said to me, "For two thousand, three hundred evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be vindicated."
New American Standard Bible (1960):
He said to me, "For 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the holy place will be properly restored."
New International Version (1973):
He said to me, "It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated."
Young's Literal Translation (1898):
And he saith unto me, "Till evening--morning two thousand and three hundred, then is the holy place declared right."
Young's Literal Translation (1993):
And he said to me, "For two thousand, three hundred evenings and mornings, then the sanctuary will be vindicated."

What is the Sanctuary being "cleansed" or "vindicated" from?

The Sanctuary is being vindicated from having been trampled upon and cast down by the Abomination of Desolation. The Abomination of Desolation reached its height when Antiochus Epiphanes profaned the temple of God by offering sacrifices to idols upon the holy altar of God.

During the generation when Jesus walked the earth, the actions of Antiochus Epiphanes were still fresh in the minds of the people. They understood Antiochus Epiphanes to be the Abomination of Desolation. The Jewish historian Josephus, a contemporary of Jesus, wrote of Antiochus:

"And this desolation came to pass according to the prophecy of Daniel, which was given 408 years before; for he declared that the Macedonians would dissolve that worship [for some] time." (Antiquities of the Jews, p. 260)

Jesus referred to the abomination in the book of Daniel (Dan. 9:27) as a warning to His followers that a similar desolation was going to happen to the Jewish nation in the future:

"When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains." (Matt. 24:15)

This abomination took place in 68 AD when the Roman armies under Cestius surrounded Jerusalem, placing their banners within the sacred area that extended beyond the walls of the temple, thereby profaning it. The Christians recognized this as the sign to depart from Jerusalem, and when Cestius temporarily broke off his siege, the Christians departed and not a single Christian died in the subsequent siege and destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 AD.

Now let us examine the next pertinent verses of Daniel 8:

8:17 So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision.
8:19 And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be

We must bear in mind that the "time of the end" is not the same as the "end of time." Rather, it refers to the end of the particular period associated with this prophecy. In this case, the "end of the indignation" is definitely indicated, namely, the afflictions permitted to be brought upon the Jewish people.

Now let us examine Gabriel's explanation of the vision of Daniel 8:

8:20 The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.
8:21 And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.
8:22 Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.
8:23 And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.

In verse 23, we find that "in the latter time of their kingdom" the little horn power would arise. This refers to the latter times of the four divisions of the Greek Empire, just prior to their being conquered by Rome. The four divisions began at the battle of Ipsus in 301 BC. The kingdom of Macedonia fell in 168 BC, the kingdom of Cassander in 146 BC, the kingdom of Seleucidae (over which Antiochus ruled), fell in 65 BC, and the Ptolemy kingdom lasted until 30 BC. Since the four-fold kingdom ceased to exist when Macedonia fell in 168 BC, the prophecy calls for the appearance of the little horn shortly before this time. Antiochus reigned from 175 BC to 164 BC.

Gill expounds upon this verse:

"He [Antiochus] was 'hard of face', as it may be rendered; an impudent brazen faced man, who had no shame nor fear in him; regarded neither God nor man; committed the most atrocious crimes in the most public manner; and particularly was daring and impudent in his blasphemy against God and the true religion; and it may also signify that he was cruel, barbarous, and inhuman, especially to the Jews, as his persecution of them abundantly proves: and his 'understanding dark sentences', or 'riddles', which he could both propose and answer, shows him to be sagacious and cunning, well versed in wicked craft and policy; he had the art of inveigling and deceiving men; it was by deceit and cunning he got the kingdom from his nephew; and, by the wicked art of persuasion he was master of, he seduced many of the Jews to relinquish their religion, and embrace Heathenism; and so well skilled he was in wicked politics, that he could cover his own designs, and penetrate into the secrets of others; according to Jacchiades, he was skilful in the art of magic and astrology."

Now let us continue with Gabriel's explanation of the vision of Daniel 8:

8:24 And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.

Antiochus was "mighty," although not as mighty as the great horn Alexander. The prophecy says Antiochus was not mighty by his own power. This shows that the calamities which he brought upon the Jews were by Divine direction and appointment. This great power was given him so that he might be an instrument in the Divine hand for inflicting punishment on them for their sins. A similar situation happened much earlier in Israel's history, when God sent Elijah to anoint a Syrian king (1 Kings 19:15), who would later wreak havoc on a rebellious Israel (2 Kings 13:3,22).

The manner in which Antiochus laid waste to the holy city and slaughtered many Hebrews is a marked fulfillment of the prophecy that said "he shall destroy wonderfully, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and holy people."

Now let us continue with Gabriel's explanation of the vision of Daniel 8:

8:25 And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.

The prophecy says that Antiochus "by peace shall destroy many." This refers to his policy of always preserving the appearance of friendship with those whom he wanted to destroy. Thus, he might better accomplish his purpose while his enemies were off-guard (see Albert Barnes, Notes on Daniel, pp. 354-355).

The prophecy says "he shall be broken without hand." This is a stunning prophecy indicating how Antiochus would die. Notice how this prophecy was fulfilled:

"But the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, smote him with an incurable and invisible plague; for as soon as he had spoken these words, a pain of the bowels that was remediless came upon him, and sore torments of the inner parts; And that most justly: for he had tormented other men's bowels with many and strange torments. Howbeit he nothing at all ceased from his bragging, but still was filled with pride, breathing out fire in his rage against the Jews, and commanding to haste the journey: but it came to pass that he fell down from his chariot carried violently; so that having a sore fall, all the members of his body were much pained. And thus he that a little afore thought he might command the waves of the sea, (so proud was he beyond condition of man) and weigh the high mountains in a balance, was now cast on the ground, and carried in an horselitter, shewing forth unto all the manifest power of God. So that the worms rose up out of the body of this wicked man, and whiles he lived in sorrow and pain, his flesh fell away, and the filthiness of his smell was noisome to all his army.

"And the man, that thought a little afore he could reach to the stars of heaven, no man could endure to carry for his intolerable stink. Here therefore, being plagued, he began to leave off his great pride, and to come to the knowledge of himself by the scourge of God, his pain increasing every moment. And when he himself could not abide his own smell, he said these words, 'It is meet to be subject unto God, and that a man that is mortal should not proudly think of himself, as if he were God... Thus the murderer and blasphemer having suffered most grievously, as he entreated other men, so died a miserable death in a strange country in the mountains." (2 Maccabees 9:5-12,28)

Albert Barnes adds,

"All the statements given of his death, by the authors of the books of Maccabees, by Josephus, by Polybius, by Q. Curtius, and by Aarian agree in representing it as attended with every circumstance of horror that can be well supposed to accompany a departure from this world, and as having every mark of the just judgment of God. The Divine prediction in Daniel was fully accomplished, that his death would be 'without hand,' in the sense that it would not be by human instrumentality, but that it would be a direct divine infliction." (Notes on Daniel, p. 355)

Antiochus Epiphanes and Daniel 11

The most convincing evidence that Daniel 8 is talking about Antiochus Epiphanes is the fact that Daniel 11 explains the prophecy of Daniel 8 in greater detail, and the little horn is interpreted from verse 21 onwards. While Uriah Smith has tried to tailor history to make it fit the prophecy, his explanation is but a travesty. Only Antiochus truly fits the specifications.

At the 1919 Bible conference of SDA leaders there was a lengthy discussion of Daniel 11:

WIRTH: It seems to me that Antiochus Epiphanes is really the great figure in this chapter.

H.C. LACEY: Paraphrase of Daniel Eleven
Verse 21. And in his (Seleucus Philopater's) estate shall stand up (reign) a vile person (Antiochus Epiphanes 176-l64) to whom they shall not give (offer) the honor of the kingdom (the sovereignty, for Theliostarns was plotting for it; also Demetrius; another party favored Ptolemy Philometor) but he obtained the kingdom (gained the throne of Syria over those others) by flatteries (Eumenes, King of Pergamus and Attalus, the Syrians, the Romans): thus he (Antiochus Epiphanes) came in peaceably (BC 176) and obtained the kingdom by flatteries.
Verse 22. And with the arms of a flood shall they (Heliodorus, Ptolemy, Philometor) be overthrown from before him (Antiochus Epiphanes) and shall be broken (defeated) yea also, the prince of the covenant (Onias III, deposed from high priesthood in 176 BC, later murdered). And after the league (between Antiochus Epiphanes and Jason, the new High Priest) made with him (Jason) he (Antiochus) shall work deceitfully (deposing Jason and elevating his brother Menelaus, to the high Priesthood). And he (Antiochus) shall come up (to the sovereignty) and shall become strong with a small people (his few attendants).
Verse 24. He (Antiochus Epiphanes) shall enter into the peaceable and fat places of the province (the upper provinces, also Coele-Syria and Palestine) and he (Antiochus Epiphanes) shall do that which his father have not done, nor his father's father (despoil shrines and temples): he (Antiochus Epiphanes) shall scatter among them (his subjects) the prey (of his enemies) the spoil (of temples) and the riches (of his friends), etc.
Verse 25. And he (Antiochus Epiphanes) shall stir up (BC 171) his power and his courage against the king of the south (Ptolemy Philometor) with a great army ("a great multitude"); and the king of the south (Ptolemy Philometor) shall be stirred up with a very great and mighty army ("very many and exceeding strong" Newton) but he (Ptolemy Philometor) shall not stand ("was afraid and fled"): for they shall forecast devices against him Eulacus, his minister, Macron, a premier, the Mexandrians).
Verse 26. Yea, they that feed of his (Ptolemy's) meat (his ministers, Eulacus, Macron) shall destroy (by betraying) him, and his (Ptolemy's) army shall overflow and many shall fall down slain.

A. G. DANIELLS: What does it mean by overflowing?

H. C. LACEY: They dispersed and were defeated. Here is the language in I Maccabees 1:16-19. (He reads it.) The language in Daniel and in Maccabees is much the same. (Continues reading Daniel:)
Verse 27: And both these kings' heart shall be to do mischief and they shall speak lies at one table: but it shall not prosper: for yet the end shall be at the time appointed.

Upon his arrival at Memphis, Antiochus Epiphanes and Ptolemy Philopator ate and conversed together "at one table," Antiochus pretending he would favor the cause of Ptolemy against the usurpation of his brother Physson. Thus Antiochus pretends to espouse the case of this older nephew against his brother, Ptolemy laying the blame of the whole campaign upon Eulasus, who betrayed him and professing great obligations to his uncle Antiochus. But these protestations of friendship were "lies." As soon as Antiochus had withdrawn, the two brothers, Ptolemy and Physson, made peace and agreed to reign conjointly.

Now let us read into the Scripture the names of these kings: And both these kings' hearts (Antiochus Epiphanes and Ptolemy Philopator) shall be to do mischief (each hoping to circumvent the other), and they shall speak lies at one table (in apparent friendliness), but it (this patched up peace between them) shall not prosper...

Verse 28: Then shall he return into his own land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land. That is the prophecy.

Antiochus, hoping that the Egyptian brothers would ruin each other in civil war, returned to Syria. He took with him immense treasures from the captured towns of Egypt. Daniel says: "he shall return.. . with great riches." History says he took immense spoils from the captured towns of Egypt. In 1 Maccabees 1:19 and 20 it is stated, "Thus they got the strong cities in the land of Egypt, and he took the spoils thereof." That is the history.

Notice Daniel says "his heart shall be against the holy covenant." The next verse in Maccabees says: "And after Antiochus had smitten Egypt, he returned again in the hundred forty and third year (which is BC 169) and went up against Israel and Jerusalem with a great multitude, and took away the golden altar, and the candlestick of light and all the vessels thereof and the table of the shewbread, and the pouring vessels, and the vials, and the censers of gold, and the veil, and the crowns, and the golden ornaments that were before the temple, all which he pulled off. He took also the silver and the gold, and the precious vessels: also he took the hidden treasures which he found. And when he had taken all away, he went into his own land, having made a great massacre, and spoke very proudly."

That is the history. The prophecy reads; "and his heart shall be against the holy covenant." When he was in Egypt a false report had been circulated of his death. Thereupon Jason, the ex-high priest--whom Antiochus had deposed--returned to Jerusalem, drove his brother Menelaus out of office.

Antiochus, thinking the nation had revolted, and hearing that they were rejoicing at the report of his death, besieged Jerusalem with a great army, took the city by storm, and vented his anger upon the Jews. He slew 40,000 of them, and sold 40,000 more, polluted the temple, offered swine's flesh on the altar of God, restored Menelaus to the priesthood, and made Philip, a barbarian, governor of Judea. "He shall do exploits," and then "return to his own land," just as was here foretold.

PROF. ANDERSON: What verse in the chapter do you allude to when you speak of the pollution of the temple, as you read in the history?

PROF. LACEY: In the 11th chapter. Verse 30 speaks of the defiling of the temple. But we will come to that a little later. The career of Antiochus Epiphanes is very like what is predicted of the Little Horn. Just to illustrate: The things said about the little horn can apply to Antiochus Epiphanes. He is the eleventh down the line, three were plucked up, he wore out the saints of the Most High, he changed the law of the Most High; things were given into his hand for just a time, times, and a half which was three and one-half years. So, suppose you and I had been living in that day. We would have thought that prophecy was meeting its fulfillment. ... Later, Antiochus further vented his spite upon the unfortunate Jews, dispatching Apollonius with 20,000 men to Jerusalem, who slew great multitudes, plundered the city, pulled down houses and walls, slew those who attended the temple, defiled the Holy Place so that the whole service was discontinued, the city was forsaken of the Jews and only strangers remained. On his arrival at Antioch he published a decree obliging all upon pain of death to conform to the Greek religion. So the Jewish law was abrogated, and in the temple itself heathen worship was set up.

QUESTION: What was the date of that?


PROF. LACEY: "They set up the abomination of desolation upon the altar. They did sacrifice upon the idol altar, which was upon the altar of God." 1 Maccabees 1:54,59. You see that they placed the abomination of desolation in the Holy Place. The very language of the Bible, "the abomination of desolation," is placed in the temple; and this is history.
(Excerpted from Report of Bible Conference for July 7, 1919, pp. 65-66, and July 8, 1919, pp. 18-27, published in the SDA Church online document archive.)

Daniel 8 and Daniel 11

Any who attempt to interpret Daniel 8 without the angelic interpretation of Chapter 11 will miss much. And let it be stressed that Uriah Smith's attempt to fit Rome into Chapter 11 as the fulfillment of verses such as 11:21 is a travesty. The details of these verses fit only one person--Antiochus Epiphanes.

We sometimes forget that Daniel was written for the Jewish people. Daniel 8 was written to warn the Jews of the greatest crisis to overtake Daniel's people between the time of the Babylonian captivity and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD: the murderous onslaught on the Jews by Antiochus Epiphanes. God has never left His people unwarned as to coming emergencies. In the book of Daniel He foretold the calamities under the Syrian tyrant.

Knowing that chapters 11 and 12 go over the same ground as chapter 8, we may ask what equivalents do they provide for 8:10-14. Does the parallelism between 8 and 11 help us to better understand 8:14? Let us compare the temple prophecy of Daniel 8 and the temple prophecy of Daniel 11.

  • The theme of each passage is the same. Daniel 8 is enlarged in Daniel 11.
  • In each, a blasphemous conquering power comes against the people of the holy covenant.
  • In each, the Prince of the covenant, his sanctuary, and worshippers are cast down.
  • In each, the promise is given that such iniquity shall not triumph forever, inasmuch as God has determined to vindicate His people and truth, and pour out His indignation upon the idolatrous persecuting oppressor. Such vindication, however, is not to take place till "the time of the end" (Daniel 8:17; 11:35,36) after 2300 days.

The cleansing of the sanctuary from profanation in Dan. 8:14 answers to the polluting of the sanctuary mentioned in Daniel 11:31. By examining the Hebrew word for "pollute," and by studying its synonyms and antonyms, much light is cast upon the meaning of the word translated "cleansed" in Daniel 8:14. It cannot be over-emphasized that Daniel 11:31 is saying in different words the same thing as Daniel 8:9-13, and therefore a broader understanding of Daniel 8:14 may be secured through this second and enlarged description of the situation that makes "cleansing" necessary.

The Terrible Adventist Dilemma

Daniel 8:11-12 says that the "little horn" was the one who "cast down" the "sanctuary." In the context of Daniel 8, it is the "little horn" that made such a mess of the sanctuary that it needed to be cleansed and vindicated.

Here is the Terrible Adventist Dilemma: The Adventists claim that the "cleansing of the sanctuary" refers to the Day of Atonement process of Leviticus 16, wherein the sins of Israel are cleansed by the blood of Christ. Unfortunately, nowhere in Daniel 8 do we find that it is the sins of Israel that have desecrated the Sanctuary. On the contrary, it is the "little horn" power that has desolated the Sanctuary! Therefore, the cleansing of the Sanctuary as described in Daniel 8, cannot refer to the Day of Atonement; rather, it refers to the restoration of the sanctuary that was trampled upon by the little horn power!

This puts the Adventists in a terrible dilemma! Daniel 8 says the Sanctuary was desecrated by the little horn; yet SDA's say it was desecrated by the sins of God's people! It is impossible for both to be true. Either the sanctuary was polluted by the little horn (as described in Daniel 8) or it was polluted by the sins of God's people. Which is it?

SDA scholar Dr. Raymond Cottrell explains the Terrible Adventist Dilemma:

"The context of Daniel 8:14 attributes the defiling of the sanctuary to the little horn. SDA's interpretation attributes it to the transfer of confessed sins to the heavenly sanctuary by the priestly ministry of Christ. To pretend to ourselves that the SDA interpretation reads Daniel 8:14 in context then would thus be to identify the little horn as Christ. In other words, we can't have both the context and the Adventist interpretation in so far as the Bible itself is concerned." (Cottrell as quoted in Daniel 8:14 by Desmond Ford, pp. A-115-116)

If one is going to be consistent with SDA logic and say that the cleansing of the sanctuary was the Day of Atonement, then one is forced to conclude that Christ and His people are the little horn power that polluted the sanctuary! This is a heretical conclusion and leaves the SDAs in a dilemma from which it is impossible to extricate themselves.

Your questions answered

Does the Little Horn of Daniel 8 grow out of the wind?

Some Adventist scholars have suggested that the little horn of Daniel 8 comes from one of the "four winds" of heaven, rather than out of one of the four horns. They claim the Hebrew allows for this possible interpretation.

Daniel 8:8,9 - ..and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven. And out of one of them came forth a little horn..."

In Hebrew, words can be either feminine, masculine, or neutral. In Dan. 8:9, the word "them" is masculine. Since "horns" is feminine, and "winds" can be either masculine or feminine, SDA scholars have suggested the word "them" must refer to "winds". Therefore, they contend, the little horn arose out of one of the four winds. There is a problem with that, however. The word "one" is feminine which would seem to link it back to the feminine "horns." Therefore, if we were to look only at linguistics, we cannot determine for certainty whether the little horn arose from the winds or the other horn.

So we must look for other evidence. The horn represents a kingly power, and it would be unusual to find a kingly power not associated with a body (a kingdom). It would seem odd for the prophet to be given a vision showing a sequence of events dealing with Alexander the Great, then the break-up of the Grecian empire into 4 parts, and then the arising of the little horn, if the little horn did not arise from the Grecian empire. Apparently, the Grecian empire provides the background for the arising of the little horn, or else why would it be mentioned?

The idea of a horn growing out of the wind not only seems odd, it also violates the symbol's visual unity. Note the visionary sequence:

  • Goat appears with a great horn between its eyes
  • The Goat's horn is broken off
  • In its place grow four horns
  • Out of one of these four horns comes another horn
  • All horns are still linked to the body of the goat (Greece)

Nowhere in the book of Daniel (or Revelation) do we find a horn growing in the wind detached from a body! Horns do not grow out of the wind! Horns represent kings or divisions of a kingdom. The beast represents the kingdom itself. A horn detached from a body would represent a king with no kingdom!

Does the Hebrew allow for it to grow out of the wind? That is debatable. But even so, the Hebrew also allows for it to grow out of one of the horns. Now, you must ask yourself a question: Which interpretation makes more sense? A horn growing out of an existing horn? Or a horn growing out of the wind? The only interpretation that makes sense is to have the horn growing out of one of the four existing horns.

Did Gabriel fail his mission?

William Miller, and subsequently Ellen White, Uriah Smith and other Seventh-day Adventists, in an attempt to link Daniel 8 with Daniel 9, have claimed that Gabriel was sent again to Daniel, 11 years later, to explain the vision of Daniel 8 again. They claim that the latter part of Daniel 9 is a further explanation of Daniel 8. This teaching is derived from Daniel 8:27:

"And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king's business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it."

First, we need to recognize that the word it is supplied by the translators, and is not in the original Hebrew. Removing the word makes the meaning of the verse ambiguous. What does "none understood" refer to? Did no one understand the vision? Or did no one understand Daniel's reaction to the vision? Isaac Lesser, a leading Jewish scholar, renders the verse as follows:

"And I Daniel, grieved, and was sick several days: afterward I rose up, and did the king's business; and I was depressed because of the appearance; but no one observed it."

It is obvious from this translation that the part about "not understanding" was referring to the people Daniel worked with who did not comprehend why he was ill and depressed.

To make the claim that Daniel failed to understand the vision--thus requiring a second visit from Gabriel--one must first assume the angel failed in his first mission. In Daniel 8:16 a voice commands,

"Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision."

If Gabriel failed to make Daniel understand the vision, then he would be disobeying God. Further, it would make Gabriel guilty of practicing deception, because in verse 19 Gabriel tells Daniel, "Behold, I will make thee know what shall be..." Did Gabriel fail? Did he lie to Daniel? If one is a Bible-believing Christian, then one must believe that Gabriel obeyed the command to make Daniel understand the vision, and one must believe Gabriel's own word that he would make Daniel understand. Therefore, there is no reason for Gabriel to return 11 years later to explain a vision that he had already succeeded in explaining.

Is Daniel 9 an expansion of Daniel 8?

It is argued that part of the vision of Daniel 8 pertaining to the vision (Hebrew mar'eh) "of the evening and the morning" (verse 26) was not included in Gabriel's explanation. Hence, Gabriel returned after 11 years to finish explaining that portion of the vision, which is then recorded by Daniel in chapter 9.

The SDA view is the Hebrew word for "vision" (chazown) is used in Daniel 9:21 and 24, and another word, mar'eh is used in verse 23, and that indicates a link between the "vision" (mar'eh) of Daniel 9:23 and the "vision" (mar'eh) of Daniel 8:26. Their position is that it was the mar'eh of the "evening and morning" which Daniel did not understand and needed Gabriel to return to enlighten him.

In Daniel 8 the word "vision" is translated from two Hebrew words: mar'eh and chazown. They differ slightly in meaning, but both refer to the exact same vision when they are used together within the same chapter:

"The vision (mar'eh) of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision (chazown), for it shall be for many days." (Dan. 8:26)

If Gabriel told Daniel to shut up the vision (chazown), would it not be logical to conclude that when he supposedly returned to explain the vision (mar'eh) in chapter 9, that the vision (chazown) would still be shut up?

The SDA view is refuted when we consider that Gabriel went to Daniel at the command of God (or Jesus Christ) who commanded, "Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision (mar'eh)" (Dan. 8:16). Yet we are told that this is the very part of the vision (mar'eh) that Daniel did not understand! As discussed above, if this is true then Gabriel failed to obey God!

How confusing can it be? SDAs teach that in Dan. 8:26 (first part) the word "vision" (mar'eh) refers to some part of the prophecy in Daniel 8 which would not be explained to Daniel until eleven years later, while the "vision" (chazown) of the same verse (last part) has reference to another part of the one complete vision. This interpretation makes no sense whatsoever!

What is the truth? In chapter 9 we find that Daniel had been studying the writings of "Jeremiah the prophet" (Dan. 9:2). Daniel's focus was on Jeremiah's prophecy regarding the Jews' 70-year captivity. When Gabriel instructed Daniel to "consider the vision" (Dan. 9:23), Gabriel was referring to Jeremiah's vision. Gabriel was not referring to a vision that happened 11 years earlier, a vision that he had already explained, a vision that he had already told Daniel to seal up!

Is the 70-week prophecy "cut off" from the 2300-day prophecy?

It is claimed that the use of the word "determined" in the text which reads, "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city" (Dan. 9:24), means that the 70 weeks (490 years) are cut off from a much longer period of time, namely the 2300 years.

The words "determine" and "determined" are defined in Young's Analytical Concordance to mean: "To mark out beforehand, to say, to be determined, to give counsel, to take counsel, to loose thereupon, to judge/decide, to arrange, to determine/move sharply/be cut off, to place/set/put, to complete/finish/determine."

It is poor exegesis to consider only one meaning of a word in an effort to establish a doctrinal foundation when it is quite evident, as in this case, that the word "determined" has a variety of meanings. The most evident meaning is that God had decreed or determined a certain period of time, beyond which the Jewish nation would cease to be recognized as His holy people. If the 490 years are to be cut off from some other time period, then why the 2300 evening-mornings? Why not cut it off from the 1260-day prophecy, or the 1290-day prophecy or the 1335-day prophecy? How do we know the 70-week prophecy is not cut out of the middle or the end of the 2300-year prophecy?

The reason William Miller cut the 70-week prophecy off of the 2300-day prophecy was because he needed a starting point for his 2300-year prophecy. There is no starting date given in the Bible, so Miller tied it to the 70-week prophecy in order to get a starting date for the 2300 years. Of course, it makes absolutely no sense to begin the 2300-day prophecy in 457 BC because the sanctuary was not desolated until hundreds of years later.

Doesn't Matthew 24:15 prove Daniel's prophecy applies to Rome?

Jesus tells his disciples to flee Jerusalem when Rome approaches:

"When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand)." (Matthew 24:15)

Adventists say that this is evidence that Rome is the "little horn" power of Daniel 8. However, according to Adventist theology this cannot possibly be true. Adventists teach Pagan Rome defiled the earthly sanctuary. However, they also teach that in 31 AD the services of the earthly Sanctuary were transferred to the heavenly sanctuary and the earthly temple was left desolate.

This transfer from the earthly to the heavenly Sanctuary is absolutely necessary in order to make the Adventist theology of the "little horn" of Daniel 8 work. According to Adventist theology, the "little horn" is supposed to be "trampling underfoot" the Sanctuary for 2300 years (Dan. 8:11-14). Since Pagan Rome came to its demise by 500 AD, that would leave about 1300 years with no one around to trample the Sanctuary! So the Adventists conceived the idea that Papal Rome took up where Pagan Rome left off. The only problem with this is that Papal Rome never "trampled underfoot" the earthly sanctuary. So, the Adventists are stuck with having to change the location of the Sanctuary and the meaning of the "trampling underfoot" right in the middle of the 2300 years.

In order to get the Romans to trample the Sanctuary for a full 2300 years they have to do a "switch" in the middle. They have to shift gears from literal to symbolic. This is the only way they can get it to work, and even then it presents more questions than answers. Adventists say that the Sanctuary of Daniel 8 is the earthly Sanctuary until Christ's death, and after 31 AD it switches to the heavenly sanctuary. Whereas Pagan Rome is supposed to have physically desecrated the earthly sanctuary, Papal Rome is supposed to have desecrated the heavenly sanctuary in a symbolic sense. How did Papal Rome trample the heavenly Sanctuary? Supposedly the trampling occurred as the Papacy "obscurred" Christ's intercessory work in the heavenly sanctuary by instituting their own priesthood, establishing the doctrine of transubstantiation, and other false teachings.

The Roman destruction of the temple took place in 70 AD. Adventists say this proves the little horn power was Rome, because Rome desolated the holy place of the sanctuary. However, according to Ellen White, the transfer from the earthly to the heavenly occurred 39 years earlier, at the death of Christ:

"But lo, this veil is rent in twain. The most holy place of the earthly sanctuary is no longer sacred. ... Henceforth the Saviour was to officiate as priest and advocate in the heaven of heavens." (Desire of Ages, p. 757)

"When Christ on the cross cried out, "It is finished," the veil of the temple was rent in twain. ... He who had hitherto dwelt in the temple made with hands, had gone forth never again to grace it with His presence." (Signs of the Times, Dec. 8, 1898)

Even Jesus said:

"Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." (Matt. 23:38)

According to Ellen White, God departed from the earthly Sanctuary in 31 AD and it was no longer sacred. Since it was no longer sacred, since it was already desolate, then it could not have been desecrated by Rome in 70 AD. Only something that is "holy" can be desecrated. Therefore, according to their own teachings, the Sanctuary that Rome "trod underfoot" in 70 AD was not, at that time, the Sanctuary of Daniel 8 because the "earthly sanctuary is no longer sacred." By 70 AD, the Sanctuary of Daniel 8 is the heavenly Sanctuary whereto God transferred His presence in 31 AD.

The idea that the location of the Sanctuary moved in 31 AD and the "trodding underfoot" became symbolic raises some further questions:

  • If Rome did not start trampling the sanctuary until 70 AD, when who was the little horn power that was trampling the Sanctuary between 457 BC and 70 AD?
  • Is it proper for Adventists to switch from interpretting Daniel 8 as literal to symbolic when their interpretation fails? Is this a valid method of interpretting the Bible?
  • According to Adventists, the Papacy did not even arise to pre-eminence until 538 AD. So who was "trampling underfoot" the heavenly Sanctuary for 500 years prior to the advent of the Papacy?
  • The prophecy of Daniel 8 ended in 1844. Did the Papacy suddenly stop obscuring the work of Jesus in the Sanctuary in 1844? Why is there no evidence of any change in Catholic dogma or practice in 1844? If the Papacy taught the same things in 1845 as in 1844, if they did not stop "obscurring", then how could the 2300-day prophecy have ended in 1844?

So, does Matthew 24:15 prove Rome to be the little horn power? Not if you follow the convoluted logic of Adventist theology, because by 70 AD the sacredness of the earthly temple was already long gone and the little horn could not make desolate a temple that had already been vacated by God and left desolate!

The most sensical explanation of Matthew 24:15 is that Jesus mentions Daniel in order to draw a comparison between Rome's impending attack and the historical attack of Antiochus Epiphanes, whom His disciples were well aware of. In effect He was saying that just as Antiochus profaned the temple and killed many of the Jews, the Roman armies would also come in like manner.

In all likelihood Jesus was not quoting from Daniel 8 at all, but was referring to the Messianic prophecy of Daniel 9:27:

"And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make [it] desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate."

That Jesus is referring to Daniel 9:27 can easily be shown by the context of Jesus' statements. Jesus is describing to his disciples a military invasion of Judea by Roman armies. Daniel 9:27 speaks of the "overspreading of abominations", which in the margin reads "with the abominable armies he shall make it desolate". Thus, the Hebrew translators of the Bible understood the context of the passage in Daniel 9:27 as referring to a military-style invasion, which is exactly what Jesus was prophesying would take place when Rome invaded Judea and the entire "holy land" was desolated. The timing also seems to fit, with the abominable invasion taking place after the terminus of the 70 week period, and its effects lasting "until the consummation" (the end of Israel's captivity).

The 2300-year prophecy is built entirely upon assumptions:

  1. We must assume that evening-mornings really means days
  2. We must assume the year-day principle applies to the 2300 evening-mornings
  3. We must assume Gabriel came back 11 years later to explain a vision to Daniel which he had already explained to him
  4. We must assume Gabriel did not intend for Daniel to seal up the entire vision of Daniel 8--that Gabriel was planning to come back 11 years later to tell him part of it
  5. We must assume Gabriel came back to talk to Daniel about a vision he received 11 years earlier, even though Daniel was asking God for understanding of an entirely different prophecy--Jeremiah's 70-year prophecy
  6. We must assume the word "determined" actually means "cut off"
  7. We must assume the 70-week prophecy is "cut off" from the beginning of the 2300-year prophecy, and not the middle or the end of it
  8. We must assume the 2300-day prophecy began in 457 BC even though nothing relating to the desolation of the sanctuary took place then, nor within the subsequent three centuries

Do you think it is wise to accept a fundamental doctrine built upon so many weak assumptions? Doctrines should be built upon facts, not assumptions. The facts are that the little horn represents Antiochus Epiphanes, that the prophecy was literally fulfilled, and that nearly every Biblical scholar (Jewish and Christian, including some SDA scholars) over the last 2,000 years has recognized Antiochus as the fulfillment of the prophecy.


This article is a compendium of material from the following sources:

  1. Daniel 8:14 by Desmond Ford
  2. The 2300-day Prophecy of Daniel 8, Bible Advocate Press
  3. Exposition of the Bible by John Gill

Category: 1844 Movement
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