Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Maybe Daniel 11 isn’t about Antiochus Epiphanes at all

First, this new view of Daniel 11 is still a Preterist view of Daniel 11 (but that I’m a futurist on Matthew 24, Paul's Thessalonians Epistles and Revelation 13 will be relevant).  This is not me becoming one of those Futurists who wants to put every reference to the Abomination of Desolation in The Future.

This is not at all a view I’m anywhere near willing to go all in on just yet, it comes from some overlooked details that have bugged me in certain verses.  But there are still many details I can’t solidly make fit this new model just yet.  It doesn’t help that we don’t have any really in depth history of what was going on in Judea during the time of Ptolemy IV, Ptolemy V and Antiochus III.  

This theory does cover some of the same history as my Isaiah 19 being about Ptolemaic Egypt theory, and could tie into my The Antichrist will rule from Egypt theory.

If you are not familiar with the traditional view of Daniel 11:1-35, it may help to make yourself familiar before reading further.  Chuck Missler’s study on it used to be my favorite, has been restructured so I’m not sure where to find it there right now.  Christ White’s also talked about it.   The late J.R. Church’s misleadingly titled last book Daniel Reveals The Bloodline of The Antichrist has a chapter on Daniel 11.  If you have a copy of Halley's Bible Handbook he goes over it.  If you’re a preterist reading this I’ll bet at least one of your favorite preterist websites or teachers has a study on Daniel 11.  And you can find Jewish ones out there too, I think it's even covered on the Britam website if you think they're credible.

This does not change my view that Daniel 11:36-45 is about Augustus Caesar.  How I tie that into earlier details of Daniel 11 may need adjustment but perhaps not as much as you would think.  I still think Daniel 11:32’s “The People that know their God shall be strong and do exploits (take action)” is about the Maccabees or includes them at least, and that the first half of that verse could relate to Seleucid corruption of the Priesthood.  And I still think verses 33 and 34 are about the Hasmonean Kingdom falling to Rome.  

My new theory doesn’t change how to interpret the beginning of Daniel 11 either, I’ll get to where the break off happens later.

I already did a post where I observe that the Books of Maccabees possibly claims a different more recent origin for Purim.  Combine that with how Haggai 2 seems to call for Hanukkah and perhaps we should consider that First and Second Maccabees aren’t as reliable as we think, but had an agenda to co-opt non Leviticus 23 Jewish Holy Days into being Hasmonean Holidays.

The word translated Abomination in "Abomination of Desolation", is definitely a term for an Idol of some sort, an object of false worship, as I’ve explained before.  But it’s largely the Books of Maccabees that make us think it being in The Temple is part of the definition of that phrase.  

Only 1 Maccabees uses the phrase Abomination of Desolation, 2 Maccabees does not use it.  Josephus also does not use the phrase Abomination of Desolation in Antiquities Book 12 Chapter 5 Section 4, even though his main source for that part of his history seems to be First Maccabees, but perhaps an older version of it much closer to the original then what we have (he also gives a different genealogy for High Priest Menelaus).  What we have is a version preserved through Septuagint manuscripts that were in turn preserved mainly through later Christian copyists.

In Matthew 24:15 Jesus said “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place”.  What I’ve noticed recently about the structure of this statement is that it in fact seems as though “Standing in the Holy Place” was not already an inherent part of the definition of Abomination of Desolation, but is rather the qualifier that makes this yet future event distinct from any Abomination of Desolation that has already happened or might happen before it.

II Thessalonians 2 is viewed as being about the same thing as the above verse even by Pre-Tribbers.  I being not a Pre-Tribber even more so view the Eschatological parts of the Thessalonian Epistles as Paul’s commentary on Matthew 24.  Paul describes no statue here, what he is describing is a Man standing in The Temple proclaiming himself to be God, and above The True God.  And that also fits with my recent theory about The False Prophet and the Image of The Beast.

Satan tempting Man with a belief in his own Deification goes all the way back to Genesis 3.  And we see it again in Ezekiel 28.  But Rulers being worshiped as living Gods is often believed to have started in Egypt (the subject of the following chapters of Ezekiel), and was a big part of Egyptian religion all through it’s history.  But during the Hellenistic period the Ptolemies didn’t fully adopt that practice as immediately as you might think, I’ll return to that subject later.

How does this new view on the meaning of Abomination of Desolation effect my argument for the Daniel 9 reference applying to 30-37 AD? I think that could perhaps apply to Simon Magus, especially if he's the same as the Samaritan agitator who factored into Pilate's removal as I've speculated before. But at the same time Daniel 9's wording is different, and the images of Caesar were still indirectly a deification of a living human.

As I said, my interpretation of the beginning of Daniel 11 hasn’t changed, verse 2 is about a succession of Persian Kings, 3 and 4 are about Alexander The Great and the breakup of his Empire.  The King of the South is the Ptolemaic Kingdom (at least to begin with) and the King of The North is the Seleucid Empire.  It goes on to describe the Laodicean War, and I still think the "sons" in Daniel 11:10 are Seleucus III and Antiochus III.  But it’s during what’s presumed to be about Antiochus III also called Antiochus The Great that my theory diverges.

Daniel 11:11 is commonly viewed as being the Battle of Raphia, but I now think it might have been an earlier smaller engagement.  I still think what I said in the Isaiah 19 post about 11:14 tying into how Judea shifted from Ptolemaic to Seleucid control is possibly correct, but the story may be more complicated than I first thought.

The key change in my view is in verse 16.  The person “doing according to his will” is usually taken to be Antiochus III, but the context and grammar here lead me to see it as more likely this is someone coming against Antiochus III.  Perhaps this is the Battle of Raphia and the one doing according to his will here is either Ptolemy IV or someone with him.

The “Daughter of Women” of verse 17 is usually taken to be Cleopatra I, daughter of Antiochus III who he gave in marriage to Ptolemy V.  Problem is the text says the Daughter is the one who was supposed to be corrupted, not the corrupter.  And it can also be read as saying it was who she's given to she's not standing with. Also looking at this in my Greens Bible, I'm confused on how to properly translate the title given to her, which in the KJV is "Daughter of Women" despite it's Strongs designation, it's not the same as Ishishah.

I can’t help but wonder if this phrase is part of the theme of Israel being symbolically represented as a Woman?  Is it possible the controversial claims of Third Maccabees, or whatever real history might have inspired it, are a factor here?

Actually as I look at how the Hebrew has less Pronouns then the English. I can't help but wonder if the "he" is giving this daughter to himself? Terminology that it could make sense to use for Incest. And some have argued Ptolemy IV didn't actually marry Arsinoe III till after Raphia. And that is considered the first real incestuous marriage of the Ptolemaic dynasty, (the marriages of Arisnoe II were just for show, they had no children and probably didn't consummate them). And there is some evidence in the latter part of his reign she was in conflict with his closest ministers.

In verse 18 we read “After this shall he turn his face to the Isles”, usually this is taken to refer to Antiochus III’s naval conflict with Rome, as I had assumed in my key Daniel 11:36-45 study.  But Ptolemy IV did built up the Kingdom’s Navy, and the the Ptolemaic Kingdom did include some Aegean Islands at it’s greatest extent. Crete was often caught in the middle of the Ptolemies conflicts with other kingdoms for control of the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean.

The word for Prince used in verse 18 is not Sar, or Nagyim, or Nasi, but a word that means Magistrate or Captain. This could have something to do with Agathocles or Sosibius, I’m not sure.  Verse 19 could be about the events surrounding the death of Ptolemy IV, or the death of Agathocles.  I agree with the theory that the sister of Agathocles was the real mother of Ptolemy V.

The Raiser of Taxes of verse 20 is usually assumed to be Seleucus IV, and he certainly did things that could fit that, but I don't think his reign was not short enough to fit this description.  Taxation was often an issue in Ptolemaic Egypt as well.  Ruling in his “estate” could refer to a Regent rather than the actual King, as could the later phrase “give the honour of the Kingdom by flatteries”. A Regent is someone who ruled effectively with the powers of a King when the rightful King is still too young, or is gone fighting a war, or is in any way incapacitated. Daniel 5 calls Belshazzar a King when (as critics of The Bible nitpick) he was technically only a Regent.  The early reign of Ptolemy V went through at least three Regents, Agathocles, Tlepolemus, and Aristomenes of Alyzia.

I haven't yet found any information on Tlepolemus taxation policy, it may be lost to history. But other examples in the ancient world of rulers who gain power by military Coups tend to be Tax Raisers, like Vespasian. And his time as Regent was short fitting what verse 20 says. Or perhaps this was a regent so short lived he's not one of the 3 known in surviving histories?

Verse 21 is usually believed to be the introduction of Antiochus IV Epiphanes.  I now think maybe it could be Aristomenes of Alyzia, who obtained the Regency quite peacefully in 201 BC, compared to Tlepolemus who took it in a military coup d'etat the previous year.  Aristomenes was also made Chief Minister in 197/6 BC when Ptolemy V reached his majority at age 12 ending the need for the Regency.  He oversaw the Memphis Decree recorded on the Rosetta Stone, could he be perhaps a False Prophet figure to Ptolemy V as a type of the Antichrist?

A “Prince of the Covenant’ (it’s Nagyim here) dying in verse 22 is usually taken to refer to Onais III dying during the reign of Antiochus IV.  Simon II (who may be the basis for Simeon The Just) died in 199 BC, during the Regency of Aristomenes.

 All through what is usually assumed to be about Antiochus IV Epiphanes the ruler in question is never called the “King of the North” but that he wages wars with a “King of the South” you might think rules out him being a Ptolemaic leader.  But remember as I talked about in the Isaiah 19 study, Upper Egypt (The Southern part of Egypt) was independent under it’s own Pharaoh when Ptolemy V’s reign began and it was him who reconquered them.

Or maybe the key is that the word translated "South" here is Negev, a word Hebrew does use for the southern direction in general, but it's also the proper name of a desert that covers most of Israel south of Jerusalem. Negev is also the word for "South" used in Genesis 13:1, where Abraham leaves Egypt and enters the Negev and later winds up at Beth-El, clearly the direction he was traveling was actually North. 2 Chronicles 28:18, when viewed in the Hebrew, arguably used Negev as a synonym for Judah, the Southern Kingdom, Daniel 11:28-29 makes a lot of sense if "The South" here is a synonym for Judea. There are two other Biblical Hebrew words for South that are not names for geographical regions within Israel.

Likewise the word for "North" in this chapter is Zaphon. A word that is also in Ugarit texts the proper name of Jebel Aqra, a mountain on the modern Turkey-Syria border, in close proximity to Antioch. It's referenced in Number 34:7-8 defining the Northern Border of the Promised land, where it's Mountain Range is called Hor.. So maybe that's why the Seleucid Kings were called Kings of Zaphon when other Hellenistic Rulers ruled further North?

If I applied this to my Daniel 11:36-45 view, the ruler of the Negev at the time of the battle of Actium was Herod The Great. He was siding with Anthony at that time since Anthony had reconquered his Kingdom for him.

Ptolemy I ruled the Negev, but by the end of Ptolemy IV's reign the Negev had come under Seleucid rather then Ptolemaic control. It's possible even in that context that the "King of Negev" of verse 25 isn't Antiochus III but his Son who was appointed co-Ruler of sorts in 210 BC and was involved in key battles with Ptolemy V. And the wars described here could be those carried out for Ptolemy V by Scopas starting in 199 BC according to Ussher. Scopas first took Judea, then returned to Egypt to celebrate, then returned to Judea where he had more successes, then things started going bad for him, thus verses 28-29.

The “Ships of Kittim” in verse 30 I think could refer to any Greek navy or army coming against him.  Perhaps connected in some way to the Battle of Panium (which the traditional view often places in verse 15).  Antiochus III completed his conquest of Coele-Syria in 198 BC by capturing Ptolemaic Coastlands, and by besieging Scopas at Sidon.

Again there are many details I haven’t worked out yet which is why I’m by no means proclaiming this theory certain.  The biggest issue is how “taking away the daily sacrifice” in verse 31 fits if this ruler didn’t have any authority over The Temple.  Perhaps it had something to do with the native Alexandrian Jewish population’s customs. Or maybe the Elephantine Temple existed longer then people think, the common statement it was destroyed during the reign of Cambyses is certainly misleading, the Papyri referring to that riot only says it was damaged. If the Elaphantine Temple in some capacity lasted long enough to overlap with Onias IV's Temple, that could really help my Isaiah 19 theory, making it the Pillar to Yahuah at the Border of Egypt..

Also in the KJV of verse 31 is “and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.”  The “And they shall place” is really only one word in the Hebrew, mainly the word being translated "place", and that word is nathan, possibly having a misleading translation here.  It’s also been translated “appoint” and “appointed”, “ascribed” and “assigned” and many other words.  The word for “Maketh desolate” aka “of desolation” has also been translated “wondered” which can be interesting considering Revelation 13. So perhaps "and they shall appoint the abomination of desolation"?

Now I return to the Abomination of Desolation, and my suspicion that it’s supposed to refer specifically to a Human Being being worshiped as a god or God.

The Ancient Classical Greeks were Pagans, but still ones who were traditionally uncomfortable with the idea of worshiping a still living Human Being as a god.  Though they certainly had myths about humans obtaining godhood back in the Heroic Age.  When Alexander The Great began flirting with deification of himself it was the cause of much of the strife that developed between him and his fellow Greek companions and soldiers, for example it was a factor in the argument that resulted in his killing Cleitus in a drunken rage.  It’s interesting to note here how he really started doing this after his visit to the Siwa Oasis in Egypt.

The Ptolemies slowly took on more and more Pharaonic customs as they ruled Egypt, but the 'being worshiped as a living god' part was what kind of took them the longest.  It was in fact Ptolemy V Epiphanes Eucharistos who was the first to formally do so.  Coincidentally my new theory still winds up being an Epiphanes, but Ptolemy V took that name first, indeed none of the Hellenistic Rulers epithets that predate him taking Epiphanes in any way claim deity. But Epiphanes and Epiphany is very much a divine title, one Greek speaking Christians have used of the Divinity of Christ going all the way back to Paul’s Epistles. Eucharistos is also related to a Greek term associated with the deity of Christ.

The Memphis Decree/Rosetta Stone mentioned above was also part of Ptolemy V’s declaration of his Divinity, with Aristomenes possibly guiding him in doing so the entire time. It was published in March of 196 BC. But about 5 or 6 months earlier was when he first obtained majority and Aristomenes was demoted from Regent to Chief Minister in October of 197 BC. The interesting possibility that these could correlate to Leviticus 23 Holidays (or perhaps the Feast of Jeroboam) is worth noting.

If not everything in verse 31 happened at the same time, then the sequence tells us the taking away of the sacrifice happened before the Abomination of Desolation. Scopas had recaptured Jerusalem and Judea for Ptolemy around 199 BC, when it was taken back by Antiochus in 198 BC the Jews welcomed him. Josephus discuses this in Antiquities Book 12 Chapter 3. It's possible some kind of persecution happened there.

193 BC is the year Ptolemy V married Cleopatra, at Raphia. I had forgotten earlier that Coleosyria was given back to Ptolemy as Cleopatra's Dowry, including Judea and Samaria (historians debate what is meant by that and how much power in the region it gave Ptolemy). 1290 days from March of 196 BC leads to fall of 193 BC, or Spring of 193 if counted from October of 197 BC. Which could be about when Ptolemy and Cleopatra were incorporated into the Dynastic Cult as Qeoi EpiphaneV "Manifest Gods". 

On the subject of my earlier lamenting a lack of Jewish historical perspective for this time period. I feel like if much of 3 Maccabees was about Ptolemy V rather then Philopater, it could fill in some blanks, even the reference to Raphia in the opening verse could be adapted from Ptolemy and Cleopatra being married there, then he goes to Jerusalem to explore his new Dowry. Maybe it was originally, and a 1st century writer changed which Ptolemy because he felt things like marrying his Sister made Ptolemy IV a better allegory for Caligula. 3 Maccabees 1:9 would make sense being set during Tabernacles, since that is the time when Thanksgiving offerings were most popular. And 3 Maccabees 2 verses 27-29 could explain the Sacrifice and oblation being taken away. Maybe someday a text will be discovered revealing this to be the case, like a new batch of Dead Sea Scrolls.

The events surrounding the 180/1 BC death of Ptolemy V are a mystery, he may have been murdered, but we have no way of knowing if there was a head wound.

In my current main view of the Seven heads of The Beast and Daniel 7 I argued that the Ptolemaic Dynasty could be viewed as one of the first five heads.  But I am reminded now how when I still viewed them as being within a single Dynasty I considered the possibility of Dynasties not contemporary with John.  The Seventh Ptolemy did have a very short reign, and he was arguably the last king of an unbroken succession.  Ptolemy VI could have been used as the present viewpoint because he was the one who allowed Onais IV to build his Temple in Egypt.  So perhaps one of the first five Ptolemies then is The Antichrist waiting for his resurrection, or at least a type picture.  And it looks like from all this Ptolemy V Epiphanes Eucharistos could fit that picture the best.

Again, I'm not going all in on this yet, but I think it's worth further investigation, perhaps from people far smarter then myself.

This doesn't take away Antiochus Epiphanes relevance to Daniel 8. It perhaps backs up the context I suggested before that the Little Horn is the Seleucid Dynasty as a whole rather then random individuals, and that Ptolemy is the Horn the Little Horn came out of. The Abomination of Desolation isn't mentioned in Daniel 8.

As a Daniel 7 relevant study I did will show, I'm no longer certain The Little Horn issue is as directly relevant to The Antichrist as we usually assume. At the very least I'm less inclined now to see it as a synonym for the Eight King of Revelation 17.

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