A Response to Marvin Moore on the Little Horn of Daniel 8
This is the response by Angus McPhee to Marvin Moore’s article, “Why the Little Horn of Daniel 8 is Much More Than Antiochus Epiphanes”
Moore: The three prophecies that concern us here are found in chapters 2, 7, and 8.
McPhee: Why insist on including Daniel 2 and 7 in a discussion of Daniel 8, when there are also Daniel 4 and 5 which are about times other than ours?
Moore: But when the angel Gabriel explained the vision to Daniel, the very first words out of his mouth were that “the vision concerns the time of the end” (verse 17, NKJV)
McPhee: The term “the time of the end” and similar terms are used throughout Scripture beginning with Genesis 49:1 and must be understood in their particular context. Seventh-day Adventists have used this and similar terms to apply to the period of time after 1798 at the earliest and after 1844 at the latest.
Moore: This fits perfectly with the prophecies of Daniel 2 and 7, but the Antiochus interpretation of the little horn is a total misfit, because it ends 2,000-plus years before the time of the end as understood by Seventh-day Adventists . Thus the overall context of Daniel 8 clearly suggests that the little horn is much more than Antiochus Epiphanes.
McPhee: Notice that Moore is employing the term “the time of the end”, and does so throughout, as understood by Seventh-day Adventists. “Thus”, only by employing the Seventh-day Adventist rationale can he insist that “the overall context of Daniel 8 clearly suggests that the little horn is much more than Antiochus Epiphanes.”
Moore spends some time engaging with McHarg about the origin of the little horn. McHarg cannot see a horn emerging from a wind. Moore on the other hand attempts by way of a supposed parallelism and Hebrew grammatical genders to show that in Daniel 8 McHarg must be wrong.
McPhee: The rationale proposed by Marvin Moore is not that of the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary. The SDABC reads, “there is no reason for us to lay stress on the phrase, ‘out of one of them.’ ”
Daniel 8:8, 9 (KJV) reads as follows: “Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn (Heb. qeren, fem. sing.) was broken; and for it came up four notable (Heb. chazuwth, fem. = something to be noted; something noticeable) ones a supplied word) toward the four winds (Heb. ruachim. fem. plur.) of heaven (Heb. shamayim, masc. plur., strictly “heavens” but understood as “heaven”, singular, like ‘scissors’ in English). And out of one (feminine) of them (masculine) came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land.
Regarding shamayim (heaven) see, e.g. Gen. 1:1, 8.
Ultimately, if Moore is correct, these verses, describing the vision and not the interpretation, mind you, are telling us that Daniel saw a horn coming from one of the four winds or, in our parlance, from a direction of the compass. By itself, this leaves us up in the air. We need an angelic interpreter to tell us more.
I must add that it is important at this stage to remember that the featured horn actually ‘comes from’ one of the directions connected with the growth of the four horns. There is an implicit connection between this horn and one of the four. One would have to show that Rome, of necessity, is the power symbolized here.
Moore: And in my opinion this strong evidence becomes compelling only when we combine it with the striking similarity in the themes of Daniel 7 and 8 — what I’ve called “the overall context” that we examined a moment ago.
McPhee: This does not necessarily validate this interpretation.
Moore: Both horns attack God and His people; the horn in Daniel 7 attacks God’s law, and the horn in Daniel 8 attacks His sanctuary, that is, His plan of salvation; and in both cases these attacks are resolved near the end of time, the horn in Daniel 7: 21, 22 with a heavenly judgment, and the horn in Daniel 8:14 with the sanctuary being “cleansed” (NKJV) or “restored to its rightful state” (NRSV).
McPhee: There may be similarities in some areas but the greatest dissimilarity is the ‘cleansing’ of the sanctuary which, in the context, is necessitated by the actions of the little horn, but in Seventh-day Adventist theology is necessitated by the record of repentant sinners.
Moore: Daniel 8 says that the ram became “great” (verse 4), the goat became “very great” (verse 8), and the little horn became “exceedingly great” (verse 9, NKJV). In other words, the little horn was greater than either ram or the goat, that is, greater than either Medo-Persia or Greece.
McPhee: SDABC has this to say on this word translated “exceeding” in the KJV and “exceedingly” in the NKJV:
Exceeding. Heb. yether, basically meaning “remainder.” In a few instances it describes, as here, that which is above measure, in the sense of leaving a remainder. It is translated “excellency” (Gen. 49:3), “plentifully” (Ps 31:23), “much more abundant” (Isa. 56:12). The word translated “very” in Dan. 8:8 is me´od, the more common word for “exceedingly.” In the OT me´od is translated “exceeding” or “exceedingly” 22 times (Gen. 13:13; 15:1; etc.) in its simple form and 9 times in its repeated form. It cannot be argued that yether (Dan. 8:9) represents a greater degree than me´od. Any excelling greatness in Rome over that of Greece must be proved historically, not on the basis of these words. (Emphasis mine)
Moore: Daniel 8:9 says that the little horn would grow “to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful land.” McHarg says that “Antiochus did exactly that.” My response is No, he did not.
McPhee: Moore has undertaken to interpret the vision and not leave it to the interpreting angel, who said, “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. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. 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.”
In this text are twelve characteristics:
- a king of fierce countenance
- understanding dark sentences
- his power shall be mighty
- but not by his own power
- he shall destroy wonderfully
- he shall prosper, and practise
- he shall destroy the mighty and the holy people
- through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand
- he shall magnify himself in his heart
- by peace he shall destroy many
- he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes
- he shall be broken without hand
It’s the responsibility of interpreters and exegetes to compare the historical figure of their choice with each and every of these. Then and only then can the identity of the horn be established with certainty.
Moore: One of Antiochus’s most notorious accomplishments was the pollution of the Jewish sanctuary. He fulfilled that part of Daniel 8 very well. But it’s a well-known fact that from the beginning of Antiochus’s desecration of the sanctuary until it was restored by the Maccabees was exactly three years to the day, which is only 1,095 days, not 2,300. McHarg interprets these 2,300 days to cover the entire period of Antiochus’s reign from 171 to 165 b.c., though he acknowledges that it’s impossible to determine the precise length of Antiochus’s reign. So Antiochus doesn’t fit the 2,300 days of Daniel 8:14.
McPhee: The Hebrew word ntsdq, translated “cleansed” in the KJV, itself in this context hints at nothing but a rectification of the evil caused by the little horn. From 170 B.C., when a new law was published requiring all citizens to present themselves quarterly to ‘pay formal homage to Antiochus Epiphanes as the senior god of the Seleucids’ until the restoration of Temple services was about 2,300 days or a little more than 6 years. At the end, there were two events that had been prophesied. First, due to the actions of the Maccabeans, the sanctuary services did resume in a reconsecrated Temple. Second, Antiochus died by what was understood as divine retribution (2 Maccabees 9:5-28; Daniel 8:25; cf. Acts 12:23). Thus ended that threat and also the 2,300 evenings-mornings. Ironically, the time period itself, while of initial concern to Daniel, does not figure as important in the explanation (Daniel 8:19-25).
Moore insists on an an end-time fulfillment.
McPhee: All who agree in this with Moore, and there are many, think that whenever such terms are used in Scripture they refer to a period that follows 1798 or 1844. However Genesis 49:1 and Hebrews 1:2 should be enough to disabuse one of such an idea.
Moore takes McHarg to task because he had said, “The Adventist teaching of an investigative judgment of the professed people of God is foreign to the context of Daniel 8.”
McPhee: At this point, I am reminded of a phrase employed somewhere by the late Seventh-day Adventist professor Norval F. Pease quoting Dr. James S. Stewart , “Listen to the wind, Nicodemus! Listen to the wind!” Here, it is a matter of “Listen to the narrative. Listen to the narrative.” And it is this: Medo-Persia is overrun by Greece. The Greek Empire becomes divided. Subsequent to that division a king poses a threat to God’s people, their Prince, their worship and their place of worship. After 2,300 days the sanctuary is restored. If Rome is the king intended, it must be shown how it has fulfilled this prophecy and why it is implicated in the ‘cleansing’ of the sanctuary. In this connection, it must be shown why, when following the narrative of Daniel 8, it is necessary to diverge from it and employ Leviticus 16 to explain what “the cleansing of the sanctuary” means. However, if Antiochus IV is the king, there is no need to depart from either the vision or its explanation. Verses 3-14 are homogeneous with verses 17-26. The events are coincidental, with the restoration of the sanctuary being achieved as the climax of the vision and the demise of the king, and consequent removal of the threat he had posed, as the climax of the interpretation.
Angus McPhee is a retired Seventh-day Adventist pastor who writes from Australia