Thursday, August 30, 2018

Testing Daniel 11:16-22

A little over a year ago I was introduced to Dr. Roy Gane's contribution to the study of Daniel 11:16-22. Since then, I have carefully compared his views with the traditional Adventist application of those verses. In this post I will share my analysis of it. For Dr. Gane's actual presentations, see:

  • "The Un-Manifestation of Antiochus IV Epiphanes in Daniel 11:1-22," Roy E. Gane, presented at the Adventist Theological Society symposium on eschatology in 2007.
  • "Methodology for Interpretation of Daniel 11:2 - 12:3," Roy E. Gane, Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, 27/1-2: (2016): 294-343.
  • Andrews Study Bible notes on Daniel 11:16-19.

The guiding principle that has most influenced my analysis of these verses is William Miller's 4th rule of prophetic interpretation:

"To understand doctrine, bring all the scriptures together on the subject you wish to know; then let every word have its proper influence, and if you can form your theory without a contradiction, you cannot be in an error." Joshua V. Himes, Views of the Prophecies and Prophetic Chronology Selected From Manuscripts of William Miller With a Memoir of His Life (Boston: Joshua V. Himes, 1841), 20.

The part about "forming your theory without a contradiction," is what has most influenced my testing of Daniel 11:16-22. I have concluded that verse 16 must describe the introduction of Rome to the prophecy, as we have traditionally held. But for verses 17-22, I find Dr. Gane's application to be better. In my next post, I will make the case for the introduction of Rome in verse 16 as we have traditionally done. But the compelling reasons for applying verses 17-19 to Antiochus III, as Dr. Gane does, rather than to Julius Caesar, as we have traditionally done, are summarized here.

  1. Not readily apparent in the KJV, verse 16 in the Hebrew is grammatically connected with verse 15. In the phrase “he that cometh against him” (verse 16), the “him” best refers to someone mentioned in the previous verse. Verse 15 describes Antiochus III about the year 200 BC, who would a decade later be defeated by Rome. Because of the connection between these two verses, it makes more sense for verse 16 to refer to Rome’s victory over Antiochus III at Magnesia, than it does to apply it to Rome's physical invasion of Syria 126 years later by Pompey. The real loss of Seleucid power occurred in 190 BC, not in 64 BC.
  2. In verse 17, Julius Caesar did not “set his face” to enter by force the whole kingdom as Uriah Smith suggests. When Caesar went to Egypt, his intended purpose was to negotiate with Pompey and end the civil war between them. It was not for the purpose of taking over Egypt.
  3. Smith explains how certain Jews were an aid to Caesar at this time, which is a good explanation of “upright ones with him” in verse 17. However, Antiochus III also had the Jews on his side in the alternative application of this verse.
  4. “He shall give him” in verse 17 is problematic in Uriah Smith’s interpretation. From what I can tell, nobody gave Cleopatra to anybody.
  5. “But she shall not stand on his side.” To be consistent, the context here should be Julius Caesar. But Cleopatra didn’t ever betray Caesar. So Smith explains it as Cleopatra later siding against Octavian, which is a little out of place in context.
  6. Verse 18 starts out by saying, “After this.” In other words, after the last thing mentioned, which was Cleopatra not standing on Octavian’s side. But the interpretation given for the first part of this verse in Smith’s book is Caesar defeating Pharnaces of Pontus. This was not “after” Cleopatra sided against Octavian. So there is a problem there.
  7. Smith offers no historical application of the last half of verse 18. But the alternative explanation offers a very good historical application.
  8. Verse 19 says, “Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land.” So all of verse 18 needs to have happened before he turns his face toward the fort of his own land. This rules out any application of the last part of verse 18 to anything that happened in Rome in connection with Caesar’s assassination. This leaves the last part of verse 18 without any historical fulfillment.
  9. In verse 19 Caesar did stumble and fall in the fort of his own land, so this part matches him. But it also matches Antiochus III in the alternate view.
  10. Augustus was “a raiser of taxes” (verse 20). The only problem here is that that seems to be a KJV wording that, while acceptable, is not the best translation of the Hebrew. The marginal reading shows the Hebrew meaning, which, while including the raising of taxes, is broader than that.
  11. “In the glory of the kingdom” does fit the times of Augustus. But a literal translation of this verse says, “Then one will emerge in his stead who will cause a tribute-exacter of royal splendor to pass through.” So the glory or splendor does not necessarily refer to the times. It probably refers to the exacter himself.
  12. Augustus did not die “within few days.” This is a major problem with this interpretation. He actually reigned as emperor 40 years, 7 months, and three days. No other emperor in Rome ever ruled that long.
  13. “He shall be destroyed.” Augustus died of natural causes. He was not destroyed.
  14. In verse 21, the phrase, “to whom they shall not give the honor of the kingdom” does not fit Tiberius at all. When Augustus died, there was no question but that Tiberius was the next emperor. There was actually no opposition at all to his assuming the position.

In contrast to this, there are no contradictions to be found in the application of verses 17-22 as Dr. Gane has proposed. It just fits.

Side-by-Side Comparison of the Two Views