The context of Daniel 11 portrays a continuing conflict of the king of the north and the king of the south. This conflict exhibits both a military nature and a religio-political nature. Shea rightly acknowledges the direct linkage of Dn. 11:31 with 8:11-13 and suggests “these passages should be interpreted as referring to the same action of the same power at the same time”.(118) In verse 31, “forces will stand from him and they shall profane the sanctuary (miqdash), the fortress (ma`oz), and they shall turn aside or remove (sur not rum) the continual (hattamid) and they shall place the abomination that desolates.
Miqdash (sanctuary) is clearly used in the context of a military setting. Forces or arms (zeroa`) and fortress (ma`oz) are repeatedly used in Daniel 11 in a pagan military context.(119) Although ma`oz (fortress or strength) sometimes is used figuratively of Jehovah,(120) it is employed exclusively in Daniel 11 with the meaning of military fortress of political fortifying; in 11:1 ma`oz refers to Gabriel fortifying Darius the Mede; the other applications in Daniel 11 deals with military-political fortifications. Daniel’s application of counterfeit cultic language, employing hattamid (“the daily”) and miqdash (sanctuary) in 8:11, is reapplied in 11:31 with the same counterfeit cultic meaning. The pagan military contextual setting of conflict in Dn. 11:20-31 reinforces and demands the counterfeit cultic application of hattamid and miqdash in 11:31. The use of miqdash in association with hattamid in Dn. 11:31 as a fortress of paganism defines its use in Dn. 8:11. It cannot fit the heavenly sanctuary.
In harmony with the preceding analysis, U. Smith has suggested that the profaning of the sanctuary refers to “the rulers of the empire who were working in behalf of the papacy against the pagan and all opposing religions” which signified “the removal of the seat of the empire from Rome to Constantinople” in AD 330 and “which contributed its measure of influence to the downfall of Rome. This passage would then be parallel to Dn. 8:11 and Rev. 13:2.”(121) An alternative view expressed by Smith is that the passage applies to the sacking of Rome by the Goths and Vandals resulting in the cessation of the imperial power of the West through the conquest of Rome by Odoacer.(122)
The root meaning of the verb sur is “to turn aside”, “to go away”, or “to depart.”(123) That which is turned aside still exists but not in its original mooring, setting, or form. For example, garments are laid aside (Gen. 38:14); the covering of a ship is turned aside (Gen. 8:13); a person who departs from the law (Deut. 17:20) still exists. The verb sur (turn aside or remove) in Dn. 11:31 refers to the turning aside of “the daily” by political and military forces (zeroa`) in behalf of the papacy; its incorporation spiritually into the papacy is denoted by the verb rum in Dn. 8:11. “The daily” has been previously identified as the self-exalting behavior of paganism inherent in mankind of which Arianism became integrated. Although “the continual” (hattamid) self-exalting behavior of pagan Rome was lifted up by papal Rome with the casting down of the habitation of pagan Rome’s sanctuary in the city of Rome in AD 330, yet the two competing powers co-existed, since the papacy had not yet transcended the dominance and splendor of Rome’s empire, both in the East and the West. Upon the conversion of Clovis in AD 496 and his military conquests in behalf of Rome, culminating in AD 508, the “turning aside” (sur) of the “daily” was finally complete. The self-exalting character of the papacy would now surpass, supersede and transcend that same character previously manifested by avowed pagan forces which would continue to exist but in a diminished role compared to the transcending character of the papacy. Papal Rome was to become an acknowledged “religio-political” power.
“When the prominent powers of Europe gave up their attachment to paganism, it was only to perpetuate its abominations in another form, for Christianity as exhibited in the Roman Catholic church was, and is, only paganism rebaptized.”(124) Thus, between AD 508-538, the setting up of the abomination that desolates commenced. A religious power of pagan origins now became a religio-political power exhibiting all the self-exalting (gadal) behavior of paganism. The joint action of church and state, first with Clovis between AD 496-508 and again with Justinian from AD 533 to 538 is represented by the “transgression” in Dn. 8:12-13 which resulted in the placing of the abomination that desolates. Thus, “the abomination which desolates” may be identified as the self-exalting character of nominal Christianity of which the papacy became the fountain head. Nominal Christianity surpasses, supersedes, and transcends all other false religious systems of the world. It is the principal force and the largest religious bloc in the world today constituting 33% of the world’s population, twice the size of the second largest bloc, the Muslims at 17%.(125) “The abomination which desolates” is the character of paganism with a nominal Christian face.
118) W. H. Shea, DARCOM: Vol. 2, p. 246.
119) For zeroa` see Daniel 11:6, 15, 22, 31; for ma`oz see Daniel 11: 7, 10, 19, 31, 38, 39.
120) H. W. F. Gesenius, Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, Grand Rapids: Baker, p. 492, 1979.
121) U. Smith, D & R, p. 270.
123) H. W. F. Gesenius, Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, Grand Rapids: Baker, p. 582, 1979.
124) U. Smith, D & R, p. 272.
125) D. Barrett, Ed., World Christian Encyclopedia, Nairobi: Oxford University Press, 1982.
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