Jerusalem surrounded (Lk 21:20-21:20)

“When you see Jerusalem

Surrounded

By army camps,

Then know

That its desolation

Has come near.”

 

Ὅταν δὲ ἴδητε κυκλουμένην ὑπὸ στρατοπέδων Ἱερουσαλήμ, τότε γνῶτε ὅτι ἤγγικεν ἡ ἐρήμωσις αὐτῆς.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that when they would see Jerusalem (Ἱερουσαλήμ) surrounded by military army camps (Ὅταν δὲ ἴδητε κυκλουμένην ὑπὸ στρατοπέδων), then they should know (τότε γνῶτε) that its desolation was near (ὅτι ἤγγικεν ἡ ἐρήμωσις αὐτῆς).  Luke was the only Greek biblical writer that used the word στρατοπέδων that meant a military camp, an army, or an encamped army.  Perhaps, this was a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.  There was something similar in Matthew, chapter 24:15, and in Mark, chapter 13:14.  Mark said that Jesus warned them that when they saw the desolating sacrilege or cursed devastation (Ὅταν δὲ ἴδητε τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως) standing or set up in the place where it should not be (ἑστηκότα ὅπου οὐ δεῖ), those reading this should understand (ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω) what was happening.  Matthew indicated that Jesus warned that when they saw the desolating sacrilege or cursed devastation (Ὅταν οὖν ἴδητε τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως) standing in the holy place (ἑστὸς ἐν τόπῳ ἁγίῳ), they would understand (ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω) what was happening.  Only Matthew explicitly and specifically mentioned the prophet Daniel (τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Δανιὴλ τοῦ προφήτου), chapter 9:27 and chapter 11:31, talking about the desolating abomination in the Temple.  In 175 BCE, the prince, King Antiochus IV Epiphanes came to destroy the high priest Onias III, and the city of Jerusalem with its sanctuary during the war against the Maccabees uprising.  During that time, the sacrifices and offerings ceased in the Temple.  Instead, they had these terrible abominations and desolations of the false idols.  Thus, the reference to Daniel is both eschatological, about the end times, as well as a reference to the political religious revolt of the Maccabees nearly two centuries earlier.  Have you ever seen a religious shrine or church destroyed?

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The importance of Daniel (Mt 24:15-24:15)

“When you see

The desolating sacrilege

Standing in the holy place,

As was spoken of

By the prophet Daniel,

Let the reader understand!”

 

Ὅταν οὖν ἴδητε τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Δανιὴλ τοῦ προφήτου ἑστὸς ἐν τόπῳ ἁγίῳ, ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω,

 

There is something similar in Mark, chapter 13:14, and in Luke, chapter 21:20, but only Matthew specifically mentioned the prophet Daniel.  Jesus warned that when they saw the desolating sacrilege or cursed devastation (Ὅταν οὖν ἴδητε τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως) standing in the holy place (ἑστὸς ἐν τόπῳ ἁγίῳ), they would understand (ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω) what was happening.  Matthew explicitly named the prophet Daniel (τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Δανιὴλ τοῦ προφήτου), chapter 9:27 and chapter 11:31, talking about the desolating abomination in the Temple.  In 175 BCE, the prince coming to destroy the high priest Onias III was probably King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who came to destroy the city of Jerusalem and the sanctuary during the war against the Maccabees uprising.  During this time, the sacrifices and offerings ceased in the Temple.  Instead, they had these terrible abominations and desolations of the false idols.  Thus, the reference to Daniel is both eschatological about the end times as well as a reference to the political religious revolt of the Maccabees nearly 2 centuries earlier.

The terrible king (Dan 11:21-11:21)

“In his place,

Shall arise

A contemptible person.

Royal majesty

Had not been conferred on him.

He shall come in

Without warning.

He shall obtain

The kingdom

Through intrigue.”

Now we have the real villain, probably a contemporary of the writer of this Book of Daniel, King Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 BCE), who took over from his brother, King Seleucus IV. He was the one mentioned earlier in thus work, about the famous little horn in chapter 7, in the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar. Gabriel, the angel, described him as a contemptible person, claiming that the royal majesty was not conferred on him. King Antiochus IV was involved in some kind of intrigue that kept the son of King Seleucus from being king. However, he was the younger brother of the king and his father had been king, so that he some legal standing.

The anointed one was cut off (Dan 9:26-9:27)

“After the sixty-two weeks,

An anointed one

Shall be cut off.

He shall have nothing.

The troops

Of the prince,

Who is to come,

Shall destroy

The city.

He shall destroy

The sanctuary.

Its end shall come

With a flood.

To the end,

There shall be war.

Desolations are decreed.

He shall make

A strong covenant

With many

For one week.

For half

Of the week,

He shall make

Sacrifices cease.

He shall make

Offerings cease.

In their places,

There shall be an abomination

That desolates,

Until the decreed end

Is poured out

On the desolator.”

Well, that was a simple explanation by Gabriel! After 62 weeks, the anointed one would be cut off. In fact, there is some agreement that this anointed one was the high priest Onias III, who was deposed in 175 BCE. The prince coming to destroy him was probably King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who came to destroy the city of Jerusalem and the sanctuary. It is unclear what the flood was about. Obviously, there was a war and the Maccabees uprising. The covenant for one week might mean 7 years, and ½ a week might mean 3 ½ years, the time when the sacrifices and offerings ceased in the Temple. Instead, they had the terrible abominations and desolations of the false idols. Finally, this all came to an end.

A very destructive king (Dan 8:23-8:25)

“At the end of their rule,

When the transgressions

Have reached

Their full measure,

A king of bold countenance,

Skilled in intrigue,

Shall grow strong in power.

He shall cause

Fearful destruction.

He shall succeed

In what he does.

He shall destroy

The powerful,

The people of the holy ones.

By his cunning,

He shall make

Deceit prosper

Under his hand.

In his own mind,

He shall be great.

Without warning,

He shall destroy many.

He shall even rise up

Against the Prince of princes.

But he shall be broken,

But not by human hands.’”

Gabriel continued his explanation of the vision. He pointed out that one of the last rulers would be skilled in intrigue and grow strong in power. The obvious allusion is to King Antiochus IV Epiphanes. He would successfully destroy others by getting rid of powerful people, even the holy ones, without warning. His cunning would make deceit prosper. 1 Maccabees, chapter 1, goes into great detail about this king. In his own mind, he would be great. He would even go against the Prince of princes. Finally, God, not human hands, would break him.

The little horn takes over the sanctuary (Dan 8:11-8:12)

“The little horn

Acted arrogantly,

Even against

The Prince

Of the host.

It took

Regular burnt offering

Away from him.

It overthrew

The place

Of his sanctuary.

Because of wickedness,

The host

Was given over

to it,

Together

With the regular burnt offering.

It cast truth

To the ground,

It kept prospering

In what it did.”

Thus, this King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the little horn, conquered Palestine and violated the sanctuary of God, the Prince of the hosts around 167 BCE. He acted arrogantly against God, by taking away the regular burnt offerings from the sanctuary. This little horn was successful in taking over the host or people of the Temple as well as doing away with the regular offerings to God. He cast truth to the ground, while he continued to prosper and do whatever he wanted to do.

The last of the ten kingdoms (Dan 7:24-7:26)

“As for the ten horns,

Out of this kingdom,

Ten kings shall arise.

Another shall arise after them.

This one shall

Be different

From the former ones.

He shall put down

Three kings.

He shall speak words

Against the Most High.

He shall wear out

The holy ones

Of the Most High.

He shall attempt

To change

The sacred seasons.

He shall attempt

To change the law.

They shall be given

Into his power

For a time,

Two times,

Half a time.

Then the court shall sit

In judgment.

His dominion shall be

Taken away,

To be consumed,

To be totally destroyed

To the end.”

Next, he explained that the 10 horns on the beast were the 10 Greek kings that succeeded Alexander the Great in his kingdom. However, there was a vehemence against the little horn king that overthrew the 3 kings. This was, of course, a reference to the Greek King Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-163 BCE), who was different from the other Greek rulers. He spoke openly against the Most High God. He wore out God’s holy ones. He attempted to change the holy seasons and do away with the religious festivals. He also tried to change the Jewish law. He had power for a little while, before the final kingdom would come. Then his dominion would be taken away. He would be consumed and destroyed. 1 Maccabees, chapter 1, went into great detail about this king.