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A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Daniel 8

Kuruvilla Thomas
Bangalore
Published on 9 March 2019 *




Daniel 8 Timeline

Fig. 1


Introduction

This study treats Daniel 8:2-14 as a cryptochiasmus in order to arrive at a coherent reconfiguration of the text. Text that is structured as a cryptochiasmus must be rearranged based on certain principles to be correctly interpreted. A cryptochiasmus is a novel concept; see definition in [1]. If you wish to skip the technicalities of a chiastic parse, you may read starting from Section 4 of the Discussion section, which has the reconfigured text.

The first part of Daniel 8:2-14 is a straightforward passage that has been interpreted later in the chapter (vs. 15-22) by the angel Gabriel, but the second part (vs. 9-14) has generated much confusion because of its chiastic design. Daniel is told to "seal up the vision", which makes this one of the few passages that are explicitly designated as sealed (like Daniel 11 & 12 [4]). With a chiastic reconfiguration, we will explain the difficult portion of this passage, showing it predicts the birth of the coming Messiah, and explain the timespan of "2300 evenings and mornings".


Discussion

1. Presuppositions

We base our parse of Daniel 8:2-14 on the assumption that it refers to 3 periods:

  1. The period from Alexander's attack on Medo-Persia (333BC) to the start of First Jewish–Roman War (333BC-66AD).
  2. The period of the First Jewish–Roman War (66AD–73AD).
  3. The period from after the First Jewish–Roman War (73AD) to the birth of the "Prince of Princes" (73AD - 1968/69AD).

2. Parsing the chiasmus

We will use the NIV translation for this parse.

Parsing this chiasmus involves dividing portions of the text into three categories as above. We will call the period up to The First Jewish–Roman War Period 1, the period of the war Period 2, and the period after the war Period 3 - these Periods are contiguous.

Categorizing Daniel 8:2-14

Vs 2-9 belong to Period 1. The period from Alexander's conquest of Medo-Persia to the early Roman Empire.

Vs 10-11a belong to Period 3. The Roman Empire and the succeeding Roman Catholic empire grow to be incredibly powerful.

Vs 11b-12a belong to Period 2. The First Jewish–Roman War (66-73AD) and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.

Vs 12b belongs to Period 3. "Truth" was brought down to the earth - the birth of the coming Messiah.

Vs 13-14 appears to belong to Period 1. The angels discuss the timespan of the prophecy. The only reason we place this in Period 1 is that it completes the chiastic structure above. ( In our parse of Daniel 11&12 [4], we place a similar angelic discussion on the timespan of the entire prophecy in one of the Periods.)


Original text

We color-code the chiastic units of the original text (NIV) below for easy visual identification using: red for Period 1, blue for Period 2 and green for Period 3.


Daniel 8:2-14 2 In my vision I saw myself in the citadel of Susa in the province of Elam; in the vision I was beside the Ulai Canal. 3 I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later. 4 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. 7 I saw it attack the ram furiously, striking the ram and shattering its two horns. The ram was powerless to stand against it; the goat knocked it to the ground and trampled on it, and none could rescue the ram from its power. 8 The goat became very great, but at the height of its power the large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven.
9 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. 11a It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord.
11b it took away the daily sacrifice from the Lord, and his sanctuary was thrown down. 12a Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it.
12b It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.
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.”



3. Building the reconfigured text

From this parse, it appears that Daniel 8:2-14 forms a cryptochiasmus as below:

A1   vs. 2-9 Period 1. From Alexander to the Roman Empire.
  B1   vs. 10-11a Period 3. The Roman Catholic Empire grows extremely powerful.
    X   vs. 11b-12a Period 2. The First Jewish–Roman War, Destruction of Jerusalem.
  B2   vs. 12b Period 3. The birth of the coming Messiah.
A2   vs. 13-14 Period 1. The angels discuss the timespan of the prophecy.

We now reconstruct the phrases in the right order based on the chiastic structure above and based on the ordering rules of cryptochiasmi [1].

We lead with the central pivot point 'X'. The corresponding subunits (For ex., subunit A1 corresponds to A2) are placed contiguously to form units (For ex., A1,A2 is a unit).


The sequence selected for rearrangement is:

X  [A1,A2]  [B1,B2]        (1)

Translating (1) into verse numbers, we get:

[11b-12a]   [[2-9], [13-14]]   [[10-11a], 12b]        (2)

We arrive at the reconfigured passage in the next section by rearranging the verses so they are in sequence (2).



4. Daniel 8:2-14 Reconfigured

Period 2. the First Jewish–Roman War (66AD–73AD) (vs. 11b-12a)
11b it took away the daily sacrifice from the Lord, and his sanctuary was thrown down. 12a Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it.

Period 1. From Alexander's attack on Medo-Persia (333BC) to the start of First Jewish–Roman War (333BC-66AD) (vs. 2-9,13-14)
2 In my vision I saw myself in the citadel of Susa in the province of Elam; in the vision I was beside the Ulai Canal. 3 I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later. 4 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. 7 I saw it attack the ram furiously, striking the ram and shattering its two horns. The ram was powerless to stand against it; the goat knocked it to the ground and trampled on it, and none could rescue the ram from its power. 8 The goat became very great, but at the height of its power the large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven.
9 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.

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.”


Period 3. The period from after the First Jewish–Roman War (73AD) to the birth of the "Prince of Princes" (73AD - 1968/69AD) (vs. 10-11a, 12b)
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. 11a It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord.
12b It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.



5 A commentary on the reconfigured text

5.1 Period 2. the First Jewish–Roman War (66AD–73AD) (vs. 11b-12a)

11b it took away the daily sacrifice from the Lord, and his sanctuary was thrown down. 12a Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it.


What started out as a Judean rebellion against Roman rule in 66AD turned into The First Jewish–Roman War (66-73AD) [3]. In the middle of this war that devastated Judea, the Romans attacked and extirpated Jerusalem in 70AD, destroying the temple and effectively stopping the daily sacrifice. This devastation and death was punishment for the Judahites who rejected Christ. (See the paper on the 70 weeks [2] of Daniel for more details on this period.)



5.2 Period 1. From Alexander's attack on Medo-Persia (333BC) to the start of First Jewish–Roman War (333BC-66AD) (vs. 2-9, 13-14)

2 In my vision I saw myself in the citadel of Susa in the province of Elam; in the vision I was beside the Ulai Canal. 3 I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later. 4 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.

Daniel sets this vision by the Ulai Canal in Susa, one of the capitals of Persia. From the angel Gabriel's explanation of the vision in vs. 20, we know that the ram represents Medo-Persia. The two horns represent the leadership of Media and Persia with the higher horn representing Persia - Persia was a newer power but grew to be the stronger of the two. (A horn in this and other prophecies seems to represent a ruler or a centre of power). The empire expanded west all the way to Syria and Libya, north to the regions around the Caspian sea, and south into India, but did not significantly expand east in the direction of China. Medo-Persia was a great and powerful empire (as indicated by the long horns) that dominated the region and the world in its time.



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. 7 I saw it attack the ram furiously, striking the ram and shattering its two horns. The ram was powerless to stand against it; the goat knocked it to the ground and trampled on it, and none could rescue the ram from its power.

The angel interprets the goat as representing Greece in verse 21, which makes Alexander the Great its prominent horn. Alexander began his campaign against Persia c. 334 BC in a furious retaliation to Xerxes' earlier attack on Greece and destruction of Athens. Alexander's first direct confrontation with Darius III, the emperor of Persia, was in 333BC when he defeated the emperor at the battle of Issus. After conducting an expedition that rapidly conquered vast areas of Persia-controlled Asia and Africa, Alexander defeated a Persian last stand near Susa in 330 BC.



8 The goat became very great, but at the height of its power the large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven.


Under Alexander, the Greek empire grew rapidly so that it extended from Greece and Egypt in the west to India in the east, but on his sudden death in 323BC, his generals (the Diadochi) warred over his empire as he had left behind no clear successor. After the battle of Ipsus in 301BC, the empire was permanently divided into 4 kingdoms (the 4 horns, see verse 22): to the west, Cassander ruled Greece and Macedonia; to the north, Lysimachus ruled Thrace and Asia Minor; to the south, Ptolemy Soter controlled Egypt and Palestine; and to the east Seleucus Nicator controlled Syria, Babylonia and regions farther east up to India.



9 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.


Through the Macedonian wars (214–148 BC) and the battle of Corinth (146 BC), the Roman republic gradually absorbed and gained ascendancy over a declining Macedonia and Greece to establish a Roman province in the west of Greece - Greece was one of the 4 horns of verse 8. ( The preposition translated as "out of" in this verse can also mean "from the side of" or "from the region of". So the small horn of verse 9 appears to be the Roman Republic which started off as a minor power - little horn - near Greece. ) Roman control then gradually expanded into other parts of the Greek Empire: to the south into Egypt in Northern Africa; to the east into Syria and Asia Minor and to the south-east into Judea and its surrounding regions. Although Roman rule expanded in other directions, the focus here appears to be its growth towards Jerusalem.



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?”

The angel's question in this passage only pertains to the part of the vision about the First Jewish-Roman War, but we will treat it as an inquiry on the timespan of the whole vision - it is a synecdoche of sorts that serves to further obscure the meaning of the passage.



14a He said to me, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings;”

For the "2300 evenings and mornings" to specify the timespan of the entire vision, it would have to represent 2300 years, perhaps with the evenings and mornings figuratively representing fall and spring. This interpretation agrees with vs. 17&19, “...the vision concerns the appointed time of the end”, and vs. 26, "The vision of the evenings and mornings... concerns the distant future.”

Which events indicate the start and end of the 2300 year timespan and what are the corresponding dates?

Note: There are a few significant dates that could have been chosen as the time of Alexander's attack on Persia. One of the reasons we specifically chose the 333BC date was because adding in the 49 years of Daniel 9 [2] to 1968AD gets us to 2017AD, the year of the sign in heaven of Rev. 12 [5].


14b "then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.

This phrase can also be translated, "then the holy one will be declared righteous", which seems to indicate an anointing of the Messiah. According to our parse of Daniel 9 [2], this anointing occurs 49-years after the birth of the Messiah.



5.3 Period 3. The period from after the First Jewish–Roman War (73AD) to the birth of the "Prince of Princes" (73AD - 1968/69AD) (vs. 10-11a, 12b)

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.

According to historians, the Roman Empire declined and fell around 480AD, but, in reality, it covertly metamorphosed into the Roman Catholic Church that has its seat of power at the Vatican (see appendix below for more on the empires listed in this prophecy). This Church, which we will call the Roman Catholic Empire, has grown to become a terrifyingly powerful, wealthy entity that controls all nations of the world - particularly the "western" nations - by installing their corrupt, treasonous minions into positions of leadership in all nations (see Rev. 18:3), and by other covert means. The "starry host" in this passage may be the angels that are responsible for the nations of the earth (see Psalm 82) who were defeated by this mighty empire - they were figuratively thrown down and trampled upon.



11a It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord.

This Roman Catholic empire will set itself up to appear as great as the commander of the army of the Lord - the coming Messiah. In other words, the Roman Catholic empire is the most likely entity to birth the Antichrist. According to the angel's explanation in vs. 23-25, during his reign of terror, the Antichrist will cause much devastation and take on the "Prince of princes" ("Prince of princes" can also be translated "Commander of commanders") but will be eventually defeated through divine intervention.

( Powerful angels who are placed in charge of nations are sometimes called "princes" (see Daniel 10 [7]), and so the "Prince of princes" is the leader or commander of the angels - archangel Michael. He is "the first of the chief princes" in Dan. 10:13 [7], and the leader of the angels in Rev. 12:7 [5].)



12b It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.

We propose this alternate translation of verse 12b: "'Truth' was brought down to the earth, and prospered in everything he did"


We believe that this is a prediction of the birth of the coming Messiah (Isaiah 9:6), the earthly ruler who will represent Jesus as the King of Kings. The Messiah will come down to earth to overcome and replace the monstrous Roman Catholic empire (the Beast) and the Antichrist. The coming Messiah is called 'Truth' here, and he is called by similar names in other passages: he is the Comforter of John 14:15-17, who is also the 'Spirit of Truth'; and the Rider on the White Horse in Rev. 19:11-14, who is both 'Faithful' and 'True' (the word translated 'Truth' in this verse can also mean 'Faithful').

The coming Messiah will, with divine assistance, be victorious over Satan's kingdom and successfully rule the world.




Conclusion

With this chiastic reconfiguration, we show that this prophecy is regarding 3 contiguous Periods spanning 2300 years. On a straight-through reading of the passage, it appears that the prophecy ends with Antiochus Epiphanes' desecration of the temple in Jerusalem, as many commentators have concluded. But with this reconfiguration, we have shown that the prophecy predicts a sequence of great empires up to Christ's Millennial Reign (see also, Appendix below), and the birth of the coming Messiah.

The angel tells Daniel to "seal up the vision" (vs. 26), and this seal likely corresponds to the first seal in Rev. 5:1-2; so the opening of this seal, that discloses the year of the birth of the coming Messiah, releases the "Rider on the White Horse".




Appendix

A note on the "Empires of Daniel"

Why do we see Daniel 2,7, 8, 11 & 12 repeatedly chart the history of a succession of the same great empires: Neo-Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome, to the exclusion of all the other great empires of the world? It may be that the Bible is Israel-oriented in its focus and the actions of these empires directly affected the Israelites. There may also be a spiritual dimension to this because we see in Rev. 17 [6] that the entities that controlled these kingdoms were dispatched to the bottomless pit from where they re-emerge to form the Beast system.

We'd like to suggest another possible reason for the primacy assigned to these empires - to follow the bloodlines. Members of Satanic bloodlines from ancient Babylon - perhaps from Nimrod - acquired powerful leadership roles in these empires. (These bloodlines are a Satanic counter to the holy bloodlines that gave us Abraham, David and Jesus; the detailed Biblical listing of their genealogies indicate that bloodlines matter.) These Satanic lines gradually moved westward from Babylon and Persia to Rome and the modern "West", taking with them their legendary wealth and power and their esoteric mystery knowledge. Their seat of power is at the Vatican - the Great Whore of Rev. 17 - which is called "Mystery, Babylon" because of her strong, secret connections to ancient Babylon. So these bloodlines, through the Vatican, control the "western" world and, through the "west", the whole world (Rev. 17:18). These "elite" bloodlines will for a short time have totalitarian control of the globe when the Antichrist emerges from their ranks.




References

[1] A Definition of Cryptochiasmus
[2] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of "The 70 Weeks Of Daniel"
[3] First Jewish–Roman War (66–73 CE) by Wikipedia.
[4] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of The Text.Daniel 10-12. Part 3: Daniel 12.
[5] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Revelation 12
[6] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Revelation 4-22: Part 2
[7] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Daniel 10-12: Part 1





* Updated 22/6/2020 with the time of the Messiah's birth, 13/4/21 with 2-unit structure.







Related pages

Daniel 9
Mark 13
Luke 21
Luke 17:22-37
Cryptochiasmus