In this chapter Daniel has another vision, this one of a ram and a goat. The angel Gabriel is sent to Daniel to interpret the vision, which is about kings and kingdoms to come (Media-Persia and Greece). The focus of the vision is a king who will stop the temple sacrifices, and set himself up as the one to be honored in the temple. Most seem to agree that this man is the one referred to:
Antiochus Epiphanes was a Greek king of the Seleucid Empire who reigned over Syria from 175 BC until 164 BC. He is famous for almost conquering Egypt and for his brutal persecution of the Jews, which precipitated the Maccabean revolt. Antiochus Epiphanes was a ruthless and often capricious ruler. He is properly Antiochus IV, but he took upon himself the title “Epiphanes,” which means “illustrious one” or “god manifest.” However, his bizarre and blasphemous behavior earned him another nickname among the Jews: “Epimanes,” which means “mad one.”
The article linked to describes what he did and why it was so horrible. The Lord’s message through Daniel’s vision? That evil, even of this kind, will not be allowed to stand against God and his people. As Gabriel tells Daniel, “he will be destroyed, but not by human hands.” In the Lord’s perfect time, even though there will be suffering, evil will be judged and God’s reign restored.
A part of one verse stands out to me. In verse 12 it says in everything this horn (king) did it prospered, “and truth was thrown to the ground.” I wonder exactly what was in Daniel’s mind as he wrote this. Or, what exactly he was seeing when he wrote it. The Hebrew word translated truth can also mean firmness or faithfulness. I found this commentary, with which most seem to agree:
And it cast down the truth to the ground – The true system of religion, or the true method of worshipping God – represented here as truth in the abstract. So in Isaiah 59:14, it is said: “Truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.” The meaning here is, that the institutions of the true religion would be utterly prostrate. This was fully accomplished by Antiochus. See 1 Macc. 1.
I’ll have to familiarize myself with the intertestimental period and the Maccabees sometime.
I get the sense that the truth thrown to the ground means everything that is right with the world, as if it were a beautiful vase, is thrown down and shattered all over the ground. This king displays a hostility to the truth, or what makes the basic nature of reality real. And nothing is more real, and right, and true than to worship the true and living God. Those who deny that there is truth, such as many do in our post-modern relativistic age, are also denying the God who is the ground and basis of all existence. When we honor truth we honor him. Even those who do not honor him, but honor truth do in some way honor him. Which is why we boldly stand for truth!