Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

O.T. Tuesday - Daniel Shifts To Hebrew

As we head into chapter 8 of the book of Daniel we find that Daniel has shifted from writing in Aramaic to writing in Hebrew. Aramaic is sort of a universal language among the Semitic people. In 500 BC Darius made Aramaic the lingua franca of the vast Persian empire, so we can safely assume that chapters 1 through 7 of the Book of Daniel were intended for widespread distribution while the following chapters, 8 thorough 12, are intended solely for the Jewish people as they are written in Hebrew. The first seven chapters begins and ends with the subject of the four nations: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Now Daniel changes language and subjects. 

Chapter 8 opens with Daniel having another vision. The date is 551 BC, Nebuchadnezzar has died and his son Nabonidus is king of Babylon. However Nabonidus has moved to Arabia and left Babylon in the hands of is incompetent son Belshazzar. The time of Daniel's vision is the third year of Belshazzar's reign, about 2 years after the vision of Chapter 7, and just before the fall of Babylon.

In his vision Daniel saw himself in the citadel of Susa which is in the province of Elam. Susa was the winter residence of Persian kings and in 324 BC, Alexander the Great set up his headquarters there. Daniel  looked up and before him, standing next to the Ulai Canal was a ram with two long horns. One horn was longer than the other even though it grew out later. 

I watched the ram as it charged toward the west and the north and the south. No animal could stand against it, and none could rescue from its power. It did as it pleased and became great. 5 As I was thinking about this, suddenly a goat with a prominent horn between its eyes came from the west, crossing the whole earth without touching the ground. 6 It came toward the two-horned ram I had seen standing beside the canal and charged at it in great rage. (Daniel 8:4-6)
Daniel watched as the goat attacked the ram, striking it and shattering its horns. The goat eventually knocked the ram to the ground and trampled it and eventually the goat became great and powerful. However when it was at the height of its power the large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew. 

The horn in Eastern culture is a symbol of power and royalty. The two horns on the ram symbolize the Persian period beginning with Darius the Mede, and the second , greater horn was Cyrus, King of Persia. The westward movement of the ram symbolizes Darius' westward push conquering Babylon, Mesopotamia, and Syria. The ram's movement northward mimics Darius' conquest of Armenia, Iberia and the area around the Caspian sea. And the ram's southern movement symbolizes Darius' conquests over Judea, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, and India. 

Looking back in history we now know that the goat was the Greek Empire lead by Alexander the Great. In twelve years Alexander destroyed the Persians and conquered the known world. The mention of the ram standing by the river refers to the River Granicus where Alexander defeated Darius in 334 BC, 217 years after Daniels vision. When Alexander died his empire was split up among his four generals, this was symbolized nearly a quarter millinea before by the Goat's large horn being broken off and replaced by 4 prominent horns in Daniel's vision. 
Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. 10 It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. 11 It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord; it took away the daily sacrifice from the Lord, and his sanctuary was thrown down. 12 Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. (Daniel 8:9-12)
This little horn that rises from the four is not the same little horn that was mentioned in Daniel 7:8. In that vision the little horn is the anti-Christ. here the small horn is referring to a historical figure, Antiochus Epiphanes. Antiochus Epophanes was the emperor of the Seleucid Empire, one of the four empires to spring from Alexander's empire. It covered most of the middle east, including all of Israel and parts of Turkey. The politics of Judea at the time is convoluted at best and chaotic as a standard. Antiochus Epiphanes eventually stuck his Greecian nose into the mess and issued a series of decrees that did something rarely seen before in Jewish history - he united the Jews. They were united against him but they were united.  

What had happened was that Antiochus Epiphanes had left the Syria/Judea area and was gone for a long time. Rumor went around that he had died and civil disorder broke out in Jerusalem. he came back from ahis extended trip to Egypt to find Jerusalem in a complete uproar, the head priest he had assigned was chased out of town and Hellenized Jews were in riots against orthodox Jews. Antiochus Epiphanes sent in the troops to put down the uprising, which they did in a style that the Romans used to maintain order for a thousand years.  In the end 40,000 citizens were killed and another 40,000 were sold into slavery. All Jewish rites, prayers and customs were outlawed, the temple was rededicated as a temple to Zeus and a pig was sacrificed to Zeus defaming the temple. Jews who tried to celebrate the Sabbath in secret were hunted down and executed. 

This is what verses 11 & 12 are talking about, the goat (Antiochus Epiphanes) setting itself up to be commander of God's army by ruling Judea, commandeering the temple for his own purposes, sacrificing unclean animals thereby taking away the Lord's sacrifice all because of the rebellion. Then Daniel overheard two angels talking:
13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, “How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled—the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, the surrender of the sanctuary and the trampling underfoot of the Lord’s people?” 14 He said to me, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.” (Daniel 8:13-14)
The time between the period of time when Antiochus Epophanes' hand picked corrupt high priest Jason started neglecting daily sacrifices in the Temple and until the Temple was cleansed after Israel regained control of their country was a little over 6 years - 2300 days.

Daniel is confused and a voice calls out telling Gabriel the angel to reveal the meaning of the vision to Daniel. In Daniel 8:16 Gabriel the Angel is mentioned for the first time in the bible, he's next mentioned when he appears to Zacharias in Luke 1:19 to announce the birth of John the Baptist, and again in Luke 1:26 to announce the birth of Jesus the Messiah. Other than Michael, Gabriel is the only angel in the bible to be mentioned by name. 

Gabriel calls Daniel "Son of Man", a phrase that appears one hundred seven times in the Hebrew bible. The term is used to express the humanity of the person, in this case Daniel. It denotes the weakness and frailty of the human condition. Gabriel tells Daniel that this vision is related to the end times. Immediately Daniel falls in to a deep sleep (faints?) and Gabriel revives him and repeats that this vision is related to the end times. In Daniel 8:20-21 Gabriel tells Daniel the meaning of the ram and the goat and their horns, specifically mentioning Persia and Greece. But in Daniel 8:23-26 Gabriel reveals a deeper and darker vision for the future. He can only be talking about the antichrist in these passages:
“His power will be mighty, but not by his own power,And he will destroy to an extraordinary degreeAnd prosper and perform his will;He will destroy mighty men and the holy people. (Daniel 8:24)
Daniel was so stunned by this vision that he was sick for many days before getting back to work doing the king's business. 

No comments:

Post a Comment