Next, Daniel was told about the “little horn” of chapter
eight, the one who foreshadows the Antichrist. The “little
horn” is none other than Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-163), the
younger son of Antiochus the Great. Fifteen verses are
dedicated to this detestable person. The ravages of the great
conflict that flowed back and forth over the land of Palestine
paved the way for the rise of this prince. His life and
activities are typical of the Antichrist’s in the end times.
Verse 21: Antiochus IV Epiphanes had no legitimate
claim to the throne. It belonged to his nephew, Demetrius,
the rightful heir. However, through various intrigues,
political maneuverings and flatteries, he gained the
throne. He was aided primarily by his brother Attalus and
King Eumenes of Pergaumum.
Verse 22: Antiochus routed the forces of Egypt in
battles that took place between Pelusium and the Caspian
Mountains. “A Prince of Covenant,” either refers to the
Jewish High Priest Onias III, who was deposed, and later
murdered in 170, or to a coconspirator prince, Ptolemy VI
Philometer (181-145), who Antiochus befriended (verse 23),
then defeated (verse 25).
Verse 23: Antiochus adopted a policy of artificial
friendship with Egypt. He pretended to support his nephew
Ptolemy Philometer against another nephew Ptolemy
Euergetes. However, it was merely a cover to advance his
interests. Some historians claim that Antiochus IV
Epiphanes even managed to have himself crowned king at
Verse 24: Antiochus greatly plundered his conquered
lands, but differed from his predecessors by distributing
the spoils lavishly to the people, thus winning friends
for himself as an ancient Robin Hood. He used this
maneuver to keep the strong fortress at Pelusium on the
border of Egypt.
Verses 25-26: Antiochus made a second expedition
against Egypt’s Physcon. Some think Physcon was Philometor.
It seems the two were brothers. Antiochus had a great army
but was unsuccessful because treason had broken out in his
own camp. Some of his supporters deserted him.
Verse 27: When Physcon was proclaimed king, Antiochus
entered into an alliance with Philometer on the pretense
of taking his side. Philometer became suspicious that
Antiochus entered the alliance to lay siege to the city of
Alexandria. Philometer made overtures to Physcon, on the
basis of a joint sovereignty, and was received into
Alexandria. Both brothers then declared themselves to be
Verse 28: In 169 B.C., Antiochus returned from Egypt
with much plunder and marched through Judea. Hearing of
the great rejoicing that took place in Jerusalem when the
city heard a report of his death, Antiochus turned against
the Jews. He put down an insurrection led by Jason and
took the opportunity to plunder the Temple (1 Maccabees
1:20-40; 2 Maccabees 5).
Verse 29: In the spring of 168, Antiochus made a third
expedition against Egypt, but it did not have the success
of his previous invasions, because the Ptolemy brothers
Verse 30: The two Ptolemies sought the aid of the
Romans, who responded by sending a fleet from the western
coastlands (yttk Chittim, that is Cyprus and points west)
to engage Antiochus at the siege of Alexandria. When the
ships were within a few miles of the city of Alexandria,
Antiochus went to salute the ships. Popilius Laenas,
commander of the Roman fleet, delivered to Antiochus
letters from the Roman Senate. The letters demanded, upon
the threat of provoking a Roman attack, that Antiochus
cease aggression. Popilius Laenas drew a circle with his
staff in the sand around Antiochus, and commanded him to
reach his decision before he stepped out. Antiochus lost
heart and reluctantly accepted the Senate’s demand to
discontinue further aggression. He then returned home by
way of Judea to gather information as to whether the
apostate Jews would support him.
Then Antiochus came against Jerusalem, took it by storm
and slaughtered 40,000 Jews. He sold many Jews as slaves.
He committed many abominations, such as boiling swine's
flesh and then sprinkling the broth in the Temple and on
He arrogantly entered the sanctuary and took the golden
altar, the lampstand for the light, and all its utensils.
He took also the table for the bread of the Presence, the
cups for drink offerings, the bowls, the golden censers,
the curtain, the crowns, and the gold decoration on the
front of the temple; he stripped it all off. He took the
silver and the gold; and the costly vessels; he took also
the hidden treasures that he found. Taking them all, he
went into his own land. He shed much blood and spoke with
great arrogance (1 Maccabees 1:21-24, NRSV).
He restored Menelaus to the office of High Priest and
made Philip, a Phrygian, governor of Judea.
Verse 31: The armed forces of Antiochus stood on guard
at the Temple and regular worship was discontinued. On the
Sabbath day, the city was attacked, women and children
were captured, and multitudes were slain. His army
occupied the citadel overlooking the Temple. Heathen
idolatry was made mandatory and Hellenic culture was made
compulsory for the Jews. The climax of Antiochus’
blasphemy was the erection of the image of Zeus on the
Temple’s altar of burnt offering (2 Maccabees 6).
Verse 32: Some Jews yielded to the demands of Antiochus
and apostatized from the religion of Israel. Others firmly
resisted, resulting in the Maccabean Revolt of 168-165
Verses 33-35: Those who remained true to God refused to
eat unclean things and many died for their faith. Times of
tribulation are periods for refining, purifying and making
spotless the wise. In verse 34, the term “fall” might
refer to apostasy, or falling to the sword. Definitely,
the Jews received little help in all their struggles
against Antiochus IV Epiphanes, or other tyrants that
persecuted them in history. Compromising with Antiochus
turned out to be a deadly mistake for the Jews.
During the Maccabean Revolt, a group of godly persons
called “Hasidaeans,” was formed. This group was part of
the many in Israel who stood up for the laws of God (cf. 1
Maccabees 1:62-64). Judas Maccabaeus, son of Mattathias,
led a successful revolt against the Syrians and brought
much relief from persecution. However, neither his
successes, nor those of the rest of the Maccabean family,
were permanent. There was still much suffering to endure.
The Jewish apostates were treated with bloody severity by
The predictions of verses 33-35 extend beyond the
profanities and troublesome times under Antiochus IV
Epiphanes. The time marker for the purification of Israel
is “until the time of the end, for it [the seventieth
seven] will still come at the appointed time.” These
predictions cover the huge time gap between Antiochus and
the Antichrist. This madman, who committed detestable
actions, foreshadows others like him until the type is
ultimately fulfilled in the Antichrist—the Wilful King.
The following chart is a graphic portrayal of the first
prince, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, drawn from chapters eight
and eleven. In these chapters, Antiochus is identified as
“the Little Horn” and “the King of the North.”
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes, “the Little Horn” of Daniel
He is a stern-faced king, 23.
is a master of intrigue, 23.
He is very strong,
but not by his own power, 24.
He is the cause of
astounding devastation, 24.
He is successful in
whatever he does, 24.
He is the destroyer of
mighty men and holy people, 24.
He is the
successful promoter of deceit, 25.
He is one who
considers himself superior, 25.
He is one who
takes his stand against the Prince of princes, 25.
He is destroyed, but not by human power, 25.
Antiochus IV Epiphanes, “the King of the North” of Daniel
He is a contemptible person, 21.
He is a master of intrigue, 21.
He is a
military success, 22.
He is a deceitful person,
He is an invader and overachiever, 24.
He is a plunderer and looter, 24.
He is a
rewarder of his followers, 24.
He is a plotter,
He is strong and courageous because of his
He is a victim of loosing heart,
He is a furious enemy of the holy covenant,
He is a rewarder of apostates, 30.
is a desecrater of the Temple, 31.
He is an
abolisher of the daily sacrifice, 31.
He is a
corrupter, who flatters violators of the covenant, 32.