Unto two thousand and three hundred days - Though literally it be two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings. Yet I think the prophetic day should be understood here, as in other parts of this prophet, and must signify so many years. If we date these years from the vision of the he-goat, (Alexander's invading Asia), this was A.M. 3670, b.c. 334; and two thousand three hundred years from that time will reach to a.d. 1966, or one hundred and forty-one years from the present a.d. 1825. This will bring it near to the time mentioned Daniel 7:25; (note), where see the note.
And he said unto me - Instead of answering the one who made the inquiry, the answer is made to Daniel, doubtless that he might make a record of it, or communicate it to others. If it had been made to the inquirer, the answer would have remained with him, and could have been of no use to the world. For the encouragement, however, of the Hebrew people, when their sanctuary and city would be thus desolate, and in order to furnish an instance of the clear fulfillment of a prediction, it was important that it should be recorded, and hence, it was made to Daniel.
Unto two thousand and three hundred days - Margin, evening, morning. So the Hebrew, בקר ערב ‛ereb boqer So the Latin Vulgate, ad vesperam et mane. And so Theodotion - ἔως ἑσπέρας καὶ πρωΐ̀ heōs hesperas kai prōi - “to the evening and morning.” The language here is evidently what was derived from Gen. i., or which was common among the Hebrews, to speak of the “evening and the morning” as constituting a day. There can be no doubt, however, that a day is intended by this, for this is the fair and obvious interpretation. The Greeks were accustomed to denote the period of a day in the same manner by the word νυχθήμερον nuchthēmeron (see 2 Corinthians 11:25), in order more emphatically to designate one complete day. See Prof. Stuart‘s Hints on Prophecy, pp. 99,100. The time then specified by this would be six years and a hundred and ten days.
Much difficulty has been felt by expositors in reconciling this statement with the other designations of time in the book of Daniel, supposed to refer to the same event, and with the account furnished by Josephus in regard to the period which elapsed during which the sanctuary was desolate, and the daily sacrifice suspended. The other designations of time which have been supposed to refer to the same event in Daniel, are Daniel 7:25, where the time mentioned is three years and a half, or twelve hundred and sixty days; and Daniel 12:7, where the same time is mentioned, “a time, times, and an half,” or three years and an half, or, as before, twelve hundred and sixty days; and Daniel 12:11, where the period mentioned is “a thousand two hundred and ninety days;” and Daniel 12:12, where the time mentioned is “a thousand three hundred and thirty-five days.” The time mentioned by Josephus is three years exactly from the time when “their Divine worship was fallen off, and was reduced to a profane and common use,” until the time when the lamps were lighted again, and the worship restored, for he says that the one event happened precisely three years after the other, on the same day of the month - Ant. b. xii. ch. vii. Section 6. In his Jewish Wars, however, b. i. ch. i. Section 1, he says that Antiochus “spoiled the temple, and put a stop to the constant practice of offering a daily sacrifice of expiation for three years and six months.” Now, in order to explain the passage before us, and to reconcile the accounts, or to show that there is no contradiction between them, the following remarks may be made:
(1) We may lay out of view the passage in Daniel 7:25. See the note at that passage. If the reasoning there be sound, then that passage had no reference to Antiochus, and though, according to Josephus, there is a remarkable coincidence between the time mentioned there and the time during which the daily sacrifice was suspended, yet that does not demonstrate that the reference there is to Antiochus.
(2) We may lay out of view, also, for the present, the passages in Daniel 12:11-12. Those will be the subject of consideration hereafter, and for the present ought not to be allowed to embarrass us in ascertaining the meaning of the passage before us.
(3) On the assumption, however, that those passages refer to Antiochus, and that the accounts in Josephus above referred to are correct - though he mentions different times, and though different periods are referred to by Daniel, the variety may be accounted for by the supposition that separate epochs are referred to at the starting point in the calculation - the terminus a quo. The truth was, there were several decisive acts in the history of Antiochus that led to the ultimate desolation of Jerusalem, and at one time a writer may have contemplated one, and at another time another. Thus, there was the act by which Jason, made high priest by Antiochus, was permitted to set up a gymnasium in Jerusalem after the manner of the pagan (Prideaux, iii. 216; Daniel 8:9, and the things which attracted the attention of Daniel were, that he “waxed great,” and made war on “the host of heaven,” and “cast some of the host and of the stars to the ground” Daniel 8:10, and “magnified himself against the prince of the host” Daniel 8:11 - acts which refer manifestly to his attack on the people of God, and the priests or ministers of religion, and on God him. self as the “prince of the host” - unless this phrase should be understood as referring rather to the high priest. We are then rather to look to the whole series of events as included within the two thousand and three hundred days, than the period in which literally the daily sacrifice was forbidden by a solemn statute. It was practically suspended, and the worship of God interrupted during all that time.
(5) The terminus ad quem - the conclusion of the period is marked and settled. This was the “cleansing of the sanctuary.” This took place, under Judas Maccabeus, Dec. 25,165 b.c. - Prideaux, iii. 265-268. Now, reckoning back from this period, two thousand and three hundred days, we come to August 5,171 b.c. The question is, whether there were in this year, and at about this time, any events in the series of sufficient importance to constitute a period from which to reckon; events answering to what Daniel saw as the commencement of the vision, when “some of the host and the stars were cast down and stamped upon.” Now, as a matter of fact, there commenced in the year 171 b.c. a series of aggressions upon the priesthood, and temple, and city of the Jews on the part of Antiochus, which terminated only with his death. Up to this year, the relations of Antiochus and the Jewish people were peaceful and cordial.
In the year 175 b.c. he granted to the Jewish people, who desired it, permission to erect a gymnasium in Jerusalem, as above stated. In the year 173 b.c. demand was made of Antiochus of the provinces of Ccelo-Syria and Palestine by the young Philometor of Egypt, who had just come to the throne, and by his mother - a demand which was the origin of the war between Antiochus and the king of Egypt, and the beginning of all the disturbances. - Prideaux, iii. 218. In the year 172 b.c., Antiochus bestowed the office of high priest on Menelaus, who was the brother of Jason the high priest. Jason had sent Menelaus to Antioch to pay the king his tribute-money, and while there Menelaus conceived the design of supplanting his brother, and by offering for it more than Jason had, he procured the appointment and returned to Jerusalem. - Prideaux, iii. 220-222. Up to this time all the intercourse of Antiochus with the Jews had been of a peaceful character, and nothing of a hostile nature had occurred.
In 171 b.c. began the series of events which finally resulted in the invasion and destruction of the city, and in the cessation of the public worship of God. Menelaus, having procured the high priesthood, refused to pay the tribute-money which he had promised for it, and was summoned to Antioch. Antioclius being then absent, Menelaus took advantage of his absence, and having, by means of Lysimachus, whom he had left at Jerusalem, procured the vessels out of the temple, He sold them at Tyre, and thus raised money to pay the king. In the meantime, Onias III, the lawful high priest, who had fled to Antioch, sternly rebuked Menelaus for his sacrilege, and soon after, at the instigation of Menelaus, was allured from his retreat at Daphne, where he had sought an asylum, and was murdered by Andronicus, the vicegerent of Antiochus. At the same time, the Jews in Jerusalem, highly indignant at the profanation by Menelaus, and the sacrilege in robbing the temple, rose in rebellion against Lysimachus and the Syrian forces who defended him, and both cut off this “sacrilegious robber” (Prideaux), and the guards by whom he was surrounded.
This assault on the officer of Antiochus, and rebellion against him, was the commencement of the hostilities which resulted in the ruin of the city, and the closing of the worship of God. - Prideaux, iii. 224-226; Stuart‘s Hints on Prophecy, p. 102. Here commenced a series of aggressions upon the priesthood, and the temple, and the city of the Jews, which, with occasional interruption, continued to the death of Antiochus, and which led to all that was done in profaning the temple, and in suspending the public worship of God, and it is doubtless to this time that the prophet here refers. This is the natural period in describing the series of events which were so disastrous to the Jewish people; this is the period at which one who should now describe them as history, would begin. It may not, indeed, be practicable to make out the precise number of days, for the exact dates are not preserved in history, but the calculation brings it into the year 171 b.c., the year which is necessary to be supposed in order that the two thousand and three hundred days should be completed. Compare Lengerke, in loc., p. 388. Various attempts have been made to determine the exact number of the days by historic records. Bertholdt, whom Lengerke follows, determines it in this manner. He regards the time referred to as that from the command to set up pagan altars to the victory over Nicanor, and the solemn celebration of that victory, as referred to in John 10:22, and which our Saviour honored with his presence. See 1 Maccabees 4:41-58; 2 Maccabees 10:1-7; Josephus, Ant. b. xii. ch. vii. Section 6,7.
The experience of the disciples who preached the “gospel of the kingdom” at the first advent of Christ, had its counterpart in the experience of those who proclaimed the message of His second advent. As the disciples went out preaching, “The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand,” so Miller and his associates proclaimed that the longest and last prophetic period brought to view in the Bible was about to expire, that the judgment was at hand, and the everlasting kingdom was to be ushered in. The preaching of the disciples in regard to time was based on the seventy weeks of Daniel 9. The message given by Miller and his associates announced the termination of the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14, of which the seventy weeks form a part. The preaching of each was based upon the fulfillment of a different portion of the same great prophetic period. GC 351.1
Like the first disciples, William Miller and his associates did not, themselves, fully comprehend the import of the message which they bore. Errors that had been long established in the church prevented them from arriving at a correct interpretation of an important point in the prophecy. Therefore, though they proclaimed the message which God had committed to them to be given to the world, yet through a misapprehension of its meaning they suffered disappointment. GC 351.2
In explaining Daniel 8:14, “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed,” Miller, as has been stated, adopted the generally received view that the earth is the sanctuary, and he believed that the cleansing of the sanctuary represented the purification of the earth by fire at the coming of the Lord. When, therefore, he found that the close of the 2300 days was definitely foretold, he concluded that this revealed the time of the second advent. His error resulted from accepting the popular view as to what constitutes the sanctuary. GC 352.1Read in context »
When, therefore, he found, in his study of the Bible, various chronological periods that, according to his understanding of them, extended to the second coming of Christ, he could not but regard them as the “times before appointed,” which God had revealed unto His servants. “The secret things,” says Moses, “belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever;” and the Lord declares by the prophet Amos, that He “will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.” Deuteronomy 29:29; Amos 3:7. The students of God's word may, then, confidently expect to find the most stupendous event to take place in human history clearly pointed out in the Scriptures of truth. GC 324.1
“As I was fully convinced,” says Miller, “that all Scripture given by inspiration of God is profitable (2 Timothy 3:16); that it came not at any time by the will of man, but was written as holy men were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:21), and was written ‘for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope’ (Romans 15:4), I could but regard the chronological portions of the Bible as being as much a portion of the word of God, and as much entitled to our serious consideration, as any other portion of the Scriptures. I therefore felt that in endeavoring to comprehend what God had in His mercy seen fit to reveal to us, I had no right to pass over the prophetic periods.”—Bliss, page 75. GC 324.2
The prophecy which seemed most clearly to reveal the time of the second advent was that of Daniel 8:14: “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Following his rule of making Scripture its own interpreter, Miller learned that a day in symbolic prophecy represents a year (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6); he saw that the period of 2300 prophetic days, or literal years, would extend far beyond the close of the Jewish dispensation, hence it could not refer to the sanctuary of that dispensation. Miller accepted the generally received view that in the Christian age the earth is the sanctuary, and he therefore understood that the cleansing of the sanctuary foretold in Daniel 8:14 represented the purification of the earth by fire at the second coming of Christ. If, then, the correct starting point could be found for the 2300 days, he concluded that the time of the second advent could be readily ascertained. Thus would be revealed the time of that great consummation, the time when the present state, with “all its pride and power, pomp and vanity, wickedness and oppression, would come to an end;” when the curse would be “removed from off the earth, death be destroyed, reward be given to the servants of God, the prophets and saints, and them who fear His name, and those be destroyed that destroy the earth.”—Bliss, page 76. GC 324.3Read in context »
The scripture which above all others had been both the foundation and central pillar of the advent faith was the declaration, “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Daniel 8:14. These had been familiar words to all believers in the Lord's soon coming. By the lips of thousands was this prophecy joyfully repeated as the watchword of their faith. All felt that upon the events therein brought to view depended their brightest expectations and most cherished hopes. These prophetic days had been shown to terminate in the autumn of 1844. In common with the rest of the Christian world, Adventists then held that the earth, or some portion of it, was the sanctuary, and that the cleansing of the sanctuary was the purification of the earth by the fires of the last great day. This they understood would take place at the second coming of Christ. Hence the conclusion that Christ would return to the earth in 1844. SR 375.1
But the appointed time came, and the Lord did not appear. The believers knew that God's Word could not fail; their interpretation of the prophecy must be at fault; but where was the mistake? Many rashly cut the knot of difficulty by denying that the 2300 days ended in 1844. No reason could be given for this position, except that Christ had not come at the time of expectation. They argued that if the prophetic days had ended in 1844, Christ would then have come to cleanse the sanctuary by the purification of the earth by fire; and that since He had not come, the days could not have ended. SR 375.2Read in context »
The most devoted gladly received the message. They knew that it was from God and that it was delivered at the right time. Angels were watching with the deepest interest the result of the heavenly message, and when the churches turned from and rejected it, they in sadness consulted with Jesus. He turned His face from the churches and bade His angels faithfully watch over the precious ones who did not reject the testimony, for another light was yet to shine upon them. EW 235.1
I saw that if professed Christians had loved their Saviour's appearing, if they had placed their affections on Him, and had felt that there was none upon the earth to be compared with Him, they would have hailed with joy the first intimation of His coming. But the dislike which they manifested, as they heard of their Lord's coming, was a decided proof that they did not love Him. Satan and his angels triumphed, and cast it in the face of Christ and His holy angels, that His professed people had so little love for Jesus that they did not desire His second appearing. EW 235.2
I saw the people of God joyful in expectation, looking for their Lord. But God designed to prove them. His hand covered a mistake in the reckoning of the prophetic periods. Those who were looking for their Lord did not discover this mistake, and the most learned men who opposed the time also failed to see it. God designed that His people should meet with a disappointment. The time passed, and those who had looked with joyful expectation for their Saviour were sad and disheartened, while those who had not loved the appearing of Jesus, but embraced the message through fear, were pleased that He did not come at the time of expectation. Their profession had not affected the heart and purified the life. The passing of the time was well calculated to reveal such hearts. They were the first to turn and ridicule the sorrowful, disappointed ones who really loved the appearing of their Saviour. I saw the wisdom of God in proving His people and giving them a searching test to discover those who would shrink and turn back in the hour of trial. EW 235.3Read in context »