Chapter 18. -- THE 2300 DAY PROPHECY OF DANIEL 8


The important passages we are considering are Dan. 8:11,13,14:

"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... Then I heard... How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice and the transgression of desolation to give both the host and the sanctuary to be trodden under foot? And he said to me, Unto two thousand, three hundred, evenings and mornings, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed."


The whole of the eighth chapter of Daniel is one of the most marvelous chapters of Bible prophecy. There is the most amazing coincidence between the prophecy and the historical record that forces critics to conclude that either Daniel lived after these events described or that he was inspired by God. There is no middle ground.

As we have shown in another portion of this book, there is indisputable evidence that the book of Daniel existed before the time of the events that this study is concerned with. The Septuagint translation of the Old Testament (completed at the request of Ptolemy Philadelphus in the year 285 B.C.) antedates the historical period described in the above passage by 120 years.

About the year 165 B.C. Antiochus Epiphanes took away the Jewish daily sacrifice, and a little less than three and a half years later the worship and daily sacrifice were restored by the Maccabees. Daniel actually lived some 400 years before this event which he so accurately described. And the Septuagint translation empirically establishes the existence of the prophecy before the events occurred.


In Daniel 8:20,21 the main characters in the vision are named as the Medo-Persian Empire and the Greek Empire. The former is pictured as a ram with two horns and the latter as a he-goat with a large horn between his eyes. In the vision, Greece meets Medo-Persia at the river where the latter is utterly destroyed after which the Greek kingdom waxes great. The first king, or kingdom, of the Greeks (under the symbol of the great horn in the midst of the he-goat's head) is broken in the height of his strength. Four other smaller horn take his place. This is later explained in verse 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." Thus four inferior kingdoms would result and become the continuation of the Greek Empire.

The historical coincidence is so remarkable as to make the proposition worth repeating: either Daniel lived after the events, or he was inspired of God. No man could have guessed this sequence before it happened. Anyone knowing the history is struck immediately with the accuracy with which the vision describes the time, peoples, and events predicted.

The chapter continues the historical unfolding and describes a sinister king, a "little horn" coming up out of one of the four divisions of the Greek Empire. He turns against the people of God and their temple, desecrating the temple worship as described in the passage above. This king rising out of one of the four kingdoms left to the Greeks is said not only to attack the people of God but also to direct his attention against the Holy Land and what appears in the prophecy to be the High Priest pictured as the "prince of the Host," and perhaps against God Himself under the figure of the "Prince of Princes."


The kingdom of Alexander the Great, so hastily put together, and so firmly established after the decisive routs of Darius III at Issus and Gaugamela (Arbela), followed by Alexander's subsequent capture of India, adding it as a province to an already subdued Asia, Europe, Egypt, Syria, Persia, and points in between, made him the master of the mightiest empire that had yet risen. He died shortly thereafter, and his four generals divided his kingdom: Antigonus took Macedonia; Cassander, Asia Minor; Seleucius, Syria and the East; and Ptolemy, Egypt. The latter two were the most powerful kingdoms and their position made Israel a pawn between them, it being periodically under the control of one or the other until the rise of the Romans.

The kingdom of the Greeks as THE world power lasted approximately three hundred years. More than half way through that period of time one of the successors of Seleucius (Antiochus Epiphanes) rose and took control of the Seleucid portion of the Near East. He was a godless man who sought to empty temples of their wealth and then distribute it in a Robinhood-like way. Another of his major aims was to spread Greek culture and wisdom. Thus Israel was just another nation upon which to impose Greek ways, and its temple just one more to empty of its wealth. However, in Israel he developed a particularly passionate hatred for the Jews and their worship. In the 142nd year of the kingdom of the Greeks (Seleucidae) Antiochus corrupted Menelaus, a usurper, who had murdered the previous high priest and had installed himself in that office. In time, Menelaus gave himself to converting Jews to Greek Culture, building a gymnasium and entering athletic events in the Greek fashion (naked). He and other Jews developed a false method of appearing uncircumcised, so far did he go in getting some to abandon their God, culture, and religion.

Two and a half years later Antiochus did indeed stop the daily sacrifice and set up an idol in the temple and an altar upon which swine were sacrificed. The temple fell into disuse, weeds and brush grew up in its courtyards. This was the root cause of the rebellion of the Maccabean family, who after three years of fighting, defeated the Greek forces, cleansed the temple, and reinstituted the daily sacrifice. Antiochus, upon hearing of this and other setbacks, took to his bed and in a fever died shortly thereafter.

Daniel's brief description of the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes in chapters eight and eleven has caused some commentators who doubt the truth of the Bible to conclude that Daniel had to live after Antiochus. The Interpreters Bible says, no one could write these visions without seeing the events themselves. So blind is unbelief!


Though most interpreters see the fulfillment of these last events related to the sinister king in Antiochus Epiphanes and the accurately defined events of the prophecy, the 2,300 days has defied accurate interpretation. Most commentators notice a marvelously close coincidence of the approximate time involved, but the most eminent commentators state that there cannot be an accurate fixing of exactly 2,300 evenings and mornings (Hebrew "erev -- boker," i.e., "evening -- morning").

At this point there needs to be a consideration of whether the prophecy refers to 2,300 literal days or to 2,300 daily sacrifices, one in the evening and one in the morning, as was the practice since Moses. The latter gives us two sacrifices per day -- 2,300 sacrifices would accomplish 1150 days. A period of either just over six years or a period of three years and one and one half months would be indicated. Both positions have their defenders.


From the time of the corruption of Menelaus until the death of Antiochus in the 149th year of the Greeks was about six years and three months or approximately 2,300 literal days. Many take the position that this fulfills the prophecy. These note that the prophecy includes the attack on the land and "the prince of the host," or high priest. Keil, Pulpit Commentary, Jamison, Faucett and Brown, Matthew Henry, and other commentators take this position.

There certainly is a close coincidence in the time, but there is no way to pinpoint the exact number of days because there is no exact date recorded either for the defection of Menelaus nor the death of Antiochus.


After a closer look at the text it is obvious that the period being asked about dates from the taking away of the daily sacrifice until it is restored. So in Daniel 8:13:

Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain {saint} which spoke, 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? And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.

The word days does not appear in Hebrew. It is erev - boker i.e. evening - morning and the words are singular. It should read 2,300 evening morning; etc. The American Standard Version reads:

Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said unto that certain one who spoke, How long shall be the vision {concerning} the continual {burnt-offering}, and the transgression that maketh desolate, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred evenings {and} mornings; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.

The New International Version has a similar reading:

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, and the surrender of the sanctuary and of the host that will be trampled underfoot?" He said to me, "It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated."

It is more natural to begin the time period with the abandonment of the daily sacrifice according to the question and answer in this text. The number ought to be applied to the number of sacrifices, not the number of days. The "days" interpretation is based on faulty translation. Thus, from the taking away of the daily sacrifice until the restoration of the sacrifice is to be 2,300 evenings and mornings. Since the sacrifice was offered, one in the evening and one in the morning, it is more natural to view the prophecy as comprising 1150 days which would contain 2,300 sacrifices.


Few dates are better established in antiquity than the dates of the interruption of the sacrifice and its restoration.

I Maccabees 1:54 says:

"On the 15th day of the 9th month of the 145th year [of the kingdom of the Greeks] king Antiochus set up the abominable idol of desolation upon the altar of God."

The termination is established in the same book I Mac. 4:52,53

"And they arose before the morning of the 25th day of the 9th month of the 148th year, and they offered sacrifices according to the law upon the new altar..."

The interval should number 1150 days or 2,300 daily sacrifices. The problem is that there are three years and ten days between the two events according to the account in I Maccabees. Three years and ten days is 3 x 365 + 10 which is 1,105. That is forty five days short of the required number -- not close enough!

AN OBVIOUS BUT OVERLOOKED CONSIDERATION This prophecy has been unsuccessfully calculated due to the commentators dependence on a calendar of 365 days. The Julian Calendar using a 365-day year was not in official use until 45 B.C. The calendar in use when the prophecy was fulfilled was different from that in use today. This prophecy was fulfilled about 165 years before Christ. The dates given in Maccabees, which measures the time of the cessation of the daily sacrifice, are based on a Greek calendar which did not compute the year with 365 days. This clear statement of fact is often overlooked and is the reason for the lack of success in interpreting this prophecy


Previous to 45 B.C. the year was most often computed using a lunar calendar based on the phases of the moon -- hence, month. There were a variety of ways to compute the year and make the season come out right. The lunar calendar of the earliest Greeks had 354 days. According to Encyclopedia Brittanica they had a year of six months containing 29 days and six months of 30 days. Every other year an intercalary month of 30 days was added between the first and second months. The intercalary month was omitted in the eighth year of the cycle to make the seasons come back to the right dates.

The Hebrew calendar had a 360-day year and also the intercalary month was used, though the length of it was not uniform. The addition of it was decided by the high priest.


Using the most ancient Greek lunar calendar of 354 days and considering that it is quite possible for the first and last year in any three year cycle to have intercalary months, we then would come up with the following computation: 3 years and 10 days would be 3 X 354 + 2 X 30 for each intercalary month plus 10 days. That is equal to 1132 days. It is 18 days short of the required amount that would complete 2,300 daily sacrifices or 1150 days. We are getting closer, but not close enough yet.


Herodotus is called the father of history, among other things. He wrote about the year 445 B.C. In a passage where he discusses Solon who is speaking to Croesus, a Greek king in Asia Minor, about the relativity of happiness in life, Solon cites the usual length of a man's life. He says:

"Take seventy years as the span of a man's life. Those seventy years contain 25,200 days without counting intercalary months. Add a month every other year to make the seasons come round with proper regularity, and you will have 35 additional months which will make 1050 days. Thus the total days of your seventy years is 26,250 and not a single one of them is like the next in what it brings."

From this passage we see that the length of the Greek year is 25,250 divided by 70 or 360 days. This would have been the year to Solon, Croesus, Herodotus, and most likely to Antiochus Epiphenes and the Maccabees. With further observation we can see that 1,050 days divided by 35 gives 30 days as the length of the intercalary month.


Using the Greek calendar according to Herodotus and assuming that the years 146 and 148 were intercalary years, we come up with the following calculation: 9-15-145 to 9-25-148, the dates given in Maccabees from the desecration to the cleansing, is three years and ten days. Thus, the math sentence following the Greek calendar which was in use at the time the prophecy was fulfilled would be: (3 X 360) + (2 X 30) + 10. Let's diagram it.

3 x 360 equals ********************1080 days
2 x 30 (2 intercalary months)******* ****60 days
From 15th to 25th equals **************10 days
Total ****************************1150 days

This is exactly the period which would accomplish exactly 2,300 sacrifices, one in the morning and one in the evening!

Using the Greek calendar is obviously the correct way to compute the number of days between the dates in Maccabees. Using that method arrives at the correct computation. Do not lose sight of the fact that Daniel wrote this prophecy years before it was fulfilled. The angel who spoke knew the future. The divine nature of the book of Daniel is validated by this prophecy. God's messenger told Daniel there would be a period when a king, who would rise up out of one of four divisions of the coming Greek Empire, who would attack the Holy Land and stop the daily sacrifice for 2,300 times. The future came round, centuries later, and validated the prophecy. Certainly the Bible is a living miracle!

Return to Commentary Directory

Go Back to Moellerhaus Homepage