Home > Antiochus IV, Book of Daniel, The 2,300 days, The 3 ½ years > A. Y. Collins on Daniel 8

A. Y. Collins on Daniel 8

January 4, 2015

In her book “Cosmology and Eschatology in Jewish and Christian Apoocalypticism”  Adela Yarbro Collins wrote referring to Daniel chapter 8:

[BRILL, 2000
p. 59-60.]

In chapter 8 a clear connection is made between a period of time and the desecration of the temple (as in 9:27). An angel asks how long the sanctuary will be defiled (8:13). The answer is for two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings (8:14). This period is probably to be understood as the time during which 2,300 evening and morning sacrifices would be offered, that is 1,150 days or three years and about two months. According to modern calculations, the desecration of the temple resulting from Antiochus’ policies lasted for about three years, from about December, 167 BCE (see 1 Macc 1:54) to December, 164 BCE (1 Macc 4:52). It is difficult to explain the discrepancy between the calculations in Daniel and those of modern scholars. Nevertheless, Dan 8:14 should probably be read as a prophecy after the fact, and its intention was very likely to give an accurate prediction of events. The time period given, like that of 7:25, is roughly equivalent to the half “week” of 9:27.

According to 9:27, the last week of years comes to a close with the end of the desolator, Antiochus Epiphsnes. In the “prediction” of events which begins with 11:2, the death of Antiochus (11:45) is immediately followed by a great time of trouble and the resurrection (12:1-3). It seems then, that the author of Daniel expected not only the restoration of the temple to occur at the end of the seventy weeks of years, but also the great turning point from this age to the next. This conclusion is supported by 12:5-13. That passage manifests great interest in the time of the end. Three calculations are given: a time, times and half a time (vs 7; see 7:25); 1,290 days (vs 11); and 1,335 days (vs 12). The multiple computations may indicate that later hands modified the text. The last figure given in vs 12 especially looks like an accommodation of the text to events. In any case, the book of Daniel in its original form manifests the conviction not only that the end was near but that its date could be calculated.

The form that the calculations took in the book of Daniel is noteworthy.  It is never said that the end would come on such and such a day of a particular year. Such a prediction would have been easier to disconfirm, although  reinterpretations even of a very precise prediction are possible. But the book of Daniel does not contain predictions of the day or of the year. Rather, it gives periods of time until the end.  In its more precise form, the prediction of the end involves a period of day whose beginning point is somewhat vague, but there is also the possibility of further allegorical interpretation of the numbers given or of the period of a “day.” In its less precise form, the prediction mentions a time, times and half a time. This designation is quite indeterminate, since the period of a “time” can be variously interpreted.  It may well be that ambiguous language was used purposely to allow for adaption to circumstances and reinterpretation.

My comments:

1. The end could not have been near at the time of Daniel’s vision, since Daniel was told in vs 8:17 & 26 that the vision applied to a time far in the future, and that it would not be understood until a lengthy period of time had passed.

Dan 8
16 And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.
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.

15 And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man.
16 And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.

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.

26 And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days.

2. The little horn of the goat growing tall, up to the stars, signifies the effects of the policies of Antiochus IV upon cosmology, and astronomy.

3. A time, times and a half cannot literally be three years and a half, as no details are provided concerning the number of regular years of 12 months, or leap years of 13 months it includes. At least some extra months must be included in 3.5 years.

4. 12 and 13 month years are clearly included in the periods mentioned in Daniel 12, which represent the time, times and a half of vs 7. Each period consists of three and a half years, where one year differs from the rest.

1,335 days = 12 x 30 + 2 x 13 x 30 + 13 x 30 / 2
1,290 days = 13 x 30 + 2 x 12 x 30 + 12 x 30 / 2

Both periods fit the pattern of “a time, times and a half.” In this expression, a “time” is either a regular year of 12 months or a leap year of 13 months.

Since the numbers and times are indeterminate, they represent prophetic symbols rather than literal time periods.

Together with the periods mentioned in Rev. 11 & 12, which apply to the remaining time of the Church, a series of diminishing periods is evident, that seems to portray a decreasing time period, such as the time remaining for the Church in the world.

1,335 days, 1,290 days, 1260 days, 3.5 days

5. The 2,300 evening mornings of vs 14 began at the moment the angel spoke the words. He said “Unto 2,300 evening mornings.” This indicates the period began when the words were spoken, in the third year of Belshazzar, 550 BCE. [Dan 8:1] If interpreted as years, the period ends 23 centuries later, in 1750 A.D.

6.Evening morning” does not necessarily signify literal 24-hour days, but the expression signifies “continual,” or “daily,” and “tamiyd.”  The little horn taking away the “tamiyd” signifies Antiochus IV’s attempts to abolish the knowledge of the earth’s diurnal rotation.

At evening and at morning, movement of the earth relative to heaven, and to the sun, moon, and stars is most evident.  Whenever there is a sunrise, there is also sunset on the opposite side of the earth. Evening and morning are continual, and occur constantly.

8. The place of God’s sanctuary refers not to the Jerusalem temple, but to the starry heaven, the universe.

9. The host of heaven includes the sun and moon, galaxies, and the planets, constellations, comets, meteorites, etc. Stars refer to the stars of heaven, not Jews.

10. The truth being cast to the ground and trampled by Antiochus IV and his agents signifies the truth about cosmology included in the original Scriptures. The Bible’s cosmology was corrupted by the introduction of statements supporting geocentrism, and the idea of a rigid firmament revolving around the earth, and by numerous attempts to portray the sun as a living deity, in motion around the earth.

11. The hellenistic redactors obscured the biblical references to waters beneath or within the earth, and instead inserted references to a body of waters “above the heavens.”