Hanukkah, the Maccabees and the Book of Daniel

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“And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt with flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits” (Daniel 11:32)

Having already put up a blog entry concerning the historical fulfillment of the last verses of Daniel chapter 11, I thought I would also add information about the historical fulfillment of some other verses in the same chapter. The events prophesied in verses 32 to 35 occurred almost 400 years later during the times of the Maccabees (167-160 B.C.). And this fits in with what was mentioned in the previous post about Daniel chapter 11. If the last verses of that chapter found their fulfillment in King Herod the Great (”THE king” of verse 36*) and in the conflict between Mark Antony (along with Cleopatra who represented the “King of the South”) and Octavius (“King of the North”) then it follows that the preceding verses in the same chapter refer to times between the coming to power of Antiochus Epiphanes (reign described in verses 21 to 31) and the coming to power of King Herod the Great (verse 36).

* let us remember that the vision was given to a Jew (Daniel) and Herod was the first king of Judah after the Babylonian Captivity

This is especially appropriate since it’s near the time of the Jewish Hanukkah.  This feast is related to extra-biblical historical events prophesied by the prophet Daniel (chapters 8 and 11) and which occurred between the ministry of the prophet Malachi and the coming to power of Herod the Great . We learn from the apostle John that “Hanukkah” or the feast of dedication was celebrated by Jews in the days of Jesus:

“And it was at Jerusalem THE FEAST OF THE DEDICATION, and it was WINTER. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.” (John 10:22-23)

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Hanukkah is “known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE**.” (source : Wikipedia)

** B.C. = Before Christ!… none of this Before Common Era (B.C.E.) nonsense! Common era? Common to what?

“From the Hebrew word for “dedication” or “consecration”, Hanukkah marks the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by the forces of the King of Syria Antiochus IV Epiphanes and commemorates the “miracle of the container of oil”. According to the Talmud, at the re-dedication following the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucid Empire, there was only enough consecrated olive oil to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days, which was the length of time it took to press, prepare and consecrate fresh olive oil.” (source : Wikipedia)

Antiochus IV (reign : 175-164 B.C.) of the Seleucid dynasty

Antiochus IV (reign : 175-164 B.C.) of the Seleucid dynasty

“Hanukkah is also mentioned in the deuterocanonical books of 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees. 1 Maccabees states: “For eight days they celebrated the rededication of the altar. Then Judah and his brothers and the entire congregation of Israel decreed that the days of the rededication… should be observed… every year… for eight days. (1 Mac. 4:56–59)” According to 2 Maccabees, “the Jews celebrated joyfully for eight days as on the feast of Booths.” (source : Wikipedia)

While 1st and 2nd Maccabees are not inspired books (2nd Maccabees contradicts the Bible and 1st Maccabees as well… Roman Catholicism claims it is inspired and curses those who think otherwise through its Council of Trent) and should not be included in the Biblical Canon they do offer much information (in the more reliable parts of those books) which shows historical fulfillment of certain prophetic passages found in the Book of Daniel.

Wojciech Stattler's "Machabeusze" ("The Maccabees"), 1844

Wojciech Stattler’s “Machabeusze” (“The Maccabees”), 1844

Hanukkah is an example of fulfilled prophecy. Daniel prophesied about it. It happened centuries later. The Jews and their religion were preserved providentially so that the prophecies concerning Messiah could be fulfilled because Christ was to come out of the tribe of Judah and He was to visit the temple (Malachi 3:1) which means the temple had to be around for the Coming of Messiah. Hence the need for the Maccabean revolt to bring about the fulfillment of different prophecies.

I will quote the following from chapter 8 of Philip Mauro’s book “The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation” :

“Verse 32 of the prophecy speaks of two classes of Jews, (1) “such as do wickedly against the covenant;” and (2) those “that do know their God.” Of the former it is said that they shall be corrupted “by flatteries;” and of the latter that they “shall be strong, and do exploits.”

“Concerning the first class it is recorded in I Mac. 1:11 et seq. that “In those days there went out of Israel wicked men who persuaded many, saying: Let us go and make a covenant with the heathen, that are round about us…Then certain of the people were so forward herein that they went to the king, who gave them license to do after the ordinances of the heathen.” Many Jews, including even Jason, the brother of Onias the high priest, were corrupted and won over to Antiochus by flattery and self-interest (II Mac. 4:7–14).”

“The second class of persons spoken of in verse 32 of Daniel 11, “those that do know their God,” is easily and completely identified in Mattathias, the godly and patriotic priest, and his five sons, who led a successful revolt against Antiochus, and in those of his family who ruled Israel as governors and priests for 130 years. These were indeed made “strong” through “knowing their God,” and performed “exploits” of greatest valor particularly Judas, who was surnamed Maccabeus, that is the Hammer of God. This nickname of Judas has been applied to the whole family, but they are properly the Asmonean Princes.”

“There is no need to speak of the heroic “exploits” of Judas and his brothers, Jonathan and Simon, who succeeded him, for they are well known. But the terms of verses 33-35 call for some explanation.”

“And they that understand among the people shall instruct many…” (Daniel 11:33a)

Philip Mauro :

“Verse 33 reads: “And they that understand among the people shall instruct many.” Upon good authority we can say that the tense of the Hebrew verb used calls for the rendering “they that cause to understand.” Likewise in Chapter 12:3 the literal rendering would be “they that cause to be wise.” These terms aptly designate those who have the Word of God and who teach others therein those who impart to others the knowledge of the ways of God, and who cause them to be “wise unto salvation.”

“This description, therefore, applies particularly to Mattathias and his family, who not only were priests by their birthright, and thus the divinely ordained teachers of Israel, but were true priests, faithfully performing their duty to God and to His people.”

“Further verse 33 says: “Yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity and by spoil many) days.” This was most literally fulfilled in the history of the Asmoneans. Judas himself, and a great part of his army, were slain by the sword (I Mac. 9:17–18). Jonathan also was slain with a thousand men (I Mac. 12:48). The chief tax collector set Jerusalem on fire (I Mac. 1:31; see also II Mac. 7). Forty thousand captives were carried away by Antiochus (II Mac. 5:14).”

“Now when they fall they shall be holpen by a little help” [or better, by the help of a few]; “but many shall cleave to them by flatteries.” (Daniel 11:34)

“To be “helped” in Scripture means to be helped effectually; and what is here pointed out is that the Maccabees should accomplish their great victories with the “help” of a small number; and this was wonderfully fulfilled in that Judas, time and again, defeated, with very small forces, large armies of Syrians, Idumeans, and others (I Mac. 2:28; 3:9–11) etc. But later on, many did cleave to them by flatteries, professing friendship to them, etc. (I Mac. 10). Thus Alexander Bala, successor to Antiochus Epiphanes, made with Jonathan a league of mutual assistance and friendship (I Mac.10:65).”

“Daniel 11:35 foretells that some of them of understanding, or that cause to be wise that is to say the teachers of God’s people shall fall, to try them, and to purge them, and to make them white, unto the time of the end. The family of Mattathias continued for several generations to serve the people of Israel in the capacity of priests and teachers (I Mac. 10:21; 14:35; 10:24; and Josephus Ant. XIII 8, 1). Of these “some” fell by violent deaths and by captivity (I Mac. 6:46; 9:18; 9:36, 42; 12:41–48; Ant. XIV 4, 5; XIV 13, 10; XV 6, 2). And this continued to the very “end” of the Asmonean era; for the last of the family, Aristobulus, who held for a short time the high priesthood, was murdered at the command of Herod (Ant. XV 3, 3).”

“The words “unto the end” would most naturally be taken to mean the end of the Asmonean era, which had a very definite beginning and an equally definite end; for it is in connection with the history of that family that the term is used. But if it be taken that verse 35 describes a state of things which was to continue to the time of the end (the final era) of this period of Jewish national existence, it would be true in that sense also. For to this final era verse 35 brings us.”

I believe another verse in the Old Testament which was written many years before the rise to power of Alexander the Great and his empire also refers to the Maccabean era described in verses 32 to 35 of Daniel 11. It is found in the Book of Zechariah whose prophetic ministry began when the Persian Empire was dominant:

“When I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim, and raised up thy sons, O ZION, AGAINST thy sons, O GREECE, and made thee as the sword of a mighty man.” (Zachariah 9:13)

Many sadly have erred in interpreting certain verses of chapter 11 because of their belief that this chapter has something to do with the AntiChrist. In the Book of Daniel the AntiChrist is solely mentioned in chapter 7 as the little Roman horn (eleventh horn). He is not mentioned in Daniel chapter 8 or in Daniel chapter 9. (I have already written elsewhere concerning the AntiChrist.) Daniel chapter 11 deals with the time period beginning from the reign of Cyrus the Great to the coming to power of Caesar Augustus, years before the birth of Christ. In other words events which happened during the long period of 70 prophetic weeks of 7 years each (total of 490 years). Cyrus the Great decreed the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple marking the beginning of Daniel’s prophecy of 70 weeks. Caesar Augustus by His decree of taxation brought about the fulfillment of the prophecy Micah 5:2 concerning the birthplace of the Messiah. Chapter 11 points towards Christ’s coming not AntiChrist’s coming. In other words events which happened during the long period of 70 prophetic weeks of 7 years each. Daniel chapters 10 to 12 expand upon the prophecy given to Daniel in chapter 9 just as chapter 7 expands upon chapter 2. Some prophecies in chapter 11 find counterparts in chapter 8’s prophecies.

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