Introduction to Daniel Chapter 9
The 9th chapter of Daniel is one of the greatest chapters in the Bible. Understanding this chapter is the key to understanding God’s plan of redemption and prophecy. Chapter nine ties together the other visions in the book of Daniel, and unlocks their meaning.
Here we find out how the “Son of Man” in Daniel 7 became the “Son of Man”. The Messiah would die for the sins of the world, fulfilling the words of Isaiah 52:12 to 53:13. Daniel chapter nine would revealed the exact month and year of Messiah’s death 538 years before his birth.
God also informs Daniel about what will happen to Israel in the future, and how Israel’s future will relate to events at the end of time. The event known as the “Abomination of Desolation” referenced by Jesus in Matthew 24:15 is illuminated as the half way mark in the final week of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks. Through Gabriel, God informs Daniel, how a third Temple will be the beginning sign of the completion of the times of the Gentiles, ending with God’s judgment poured out on the desolate.
Many know the term “Abomination of Desolation,” but almost none know what it means. Complicating the problem, misguided, deceived—and deceiving—“prophecy watchers” the world over have remained ignorant of the TRUTH of what the prophet Daniel called “the abomination that makes desolate.” They neither understand what this is nor the prophetic implications it carries.
Matthew’s account reveals more about what to look for: “When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso reads let him understand:)…” (24:15).
This verse approaches the subject from a different and slightly later point in time than Luke 21, which describes the abomination just before its fulfillment. Therefore, Luke 21:20 and Matthew 24:15 are slightly offset, as the latter speaks of the period in which God’s people, who are watching for this, “see” it fulfilled.
We have clarified two points: (1) armies around Jerusalem precede the abomination, and (2) this prophecy involves something “stand[ing] in the holy place.” Keep this simple. Do not allow mixed up theories, suppositions and assumptions you might have heard to cloud the plain understanding of what God reveals.
Before reading further, recognize another aspect of the prophecy. In both Matthew and Mark, the instruction “…whoso reads, let him understand…” is found (Matt. 24:15; Mark 13:14). God inspires this to be recorded twice for special emphasis.
Will you accept this instruction for what it so obviously means? God wants you to understand. Ignore the ridiculous claims of those who suggest prophecy is sealed—and that, while God would inspire many prophecies, He does not want them understood. God does want His servants to comprehend—to grasp—them!
What is this “abomination”? Has it already come?—or is it yet to appear? How will we know it when we see it?
The confusion surrounding this prophecy will soon be stripped away—but only if you follow God’s clues with an open mind. When fully understood, this prophecy is not only fascinating, but CHILLING! Brace for shocking facts.
The first important clue that Jesus gave about the abomination of desolation is found in Luke: “And when you shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh [or near]” (21:20). This verse often causes confusion, with some mistakenly assuming the surrounding of Jerusalem by armies is the abomination.
When the verse describes the city being surrounded, it does not say the desolation “has happened,” but that it “is near.” If something is near, it has not happened yet. So, the abomination of desolation is NOT Jerusalem being surrounded by armies. These are separate events that occur at different times. Get this clear before continuing!
Mark Reveals More
Mark 13 removes all doubt about the abomination “standing in the holy place”—and whether it is supposed to be there: “But when you shall see the abomination of desolation …standing where it ought not [meaning, in the “holy place”]…” (vs. 14). Clearly, the abomination is something that does not belong in the holy place.
But what exactly is this “holy place”? The context in which the term is used makes plain that it is not figurative, but refers to a literal place—a religious site. Recognize, however, that this place cannot be a pagan religious site. It must be a location God considers or once considered holy, with something foreign and blasphemous placed there. History and other scriptures outside the gospels reveal that this must be an at least partially rebuilt Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.
A significant event for all of God’s people who are watching follows the abomination of desolation being set up. This reference is brought from Mark’s account: “…then let them that be in Judea flee to the mountains” (vs. 14).
The appearance of the abomination is the signal for God’s people to flee. This makes understanding the prophecy much more crucial.
Another reference to this fleeing is found in Luke’s account. Notice: “And when you shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is near. Then [what happens next] let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written [by the prophets] may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! For there shall begreat distress in the land, and wrath upon this people [the modern nations of Israel]. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (21:20-24).
The book of Revelation offers a parallel description brought by Christ through John of what happens to Jerusalem. The context is coming directly off of chapter 10, and how the “little book” described there is the book of Ezekiel, as well as a reference in chapter 11, verses 1 and2, about the “Temple of God” being “measured.”
What follows this “measuring”? Let’s read: “…the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they [the Gentiles] tread under foot forty and two months” (11:2). The very next verse 3 continues by introducing the work of the Two Witnesses for this same 42 months (three and a half years)—or “1,260 days,” the term used in Revelation to describe the length of their commission.
It should be obvious that this “treading” by the “Gentiles” in Revelation 11:2 has to be referring to the length of time that Jerusalem is being “trodden down of the Gentiles,” as Luke so similarly put it.
An inset: The faithful people of God’s Church (not those who have grown lukewarm and confused) know that there is more very special (and truly sobering) understanding tied to additional details about what is the holy place, what—and also who, because it includes a human figure (Dan. 11:45)—it is that stands in this place, as well as the spiritual implications tied to being on the wrong side of events in Jerusalem when the Temple is measured. (It is not the purpose of this article to cover those details. They are for another place.)
It does need to be at least briefly stated, however, that the “temple” being measured inRevelation 11 is not the physical one that the Jews will rebuild. It is speaking of the New Testament Church (or Body of Christ), which is referred to in numerous places by the apostle Paul as the “Temple of the Lord” (I Cor. 3:17; Eph. 2:20-22). The more-than-curious reader will want to at least read these verses for proof of understanding how the true Church and the (spiritual) Temple of the Lord are synonymous terms in the New Testament.
The seriousness of the events and time periods that follow the setting up of the abomination of desolation should bring a new level of gravity to understanding this prophecy. All who care to escape what is coming—to “flee” at the right moment with the rest of God’s people—must know exactly what to watch for.
We have still not answered the question of what the abomination is.
An Earlier Type
Now for another clue about the abomination. Recall the biblical principle of DUALITY—a former and latter fulfillment—in prophecy. God usually gives a former TYPE to help us understand thelatter fulfillment. The former is not the primary fulfillment of a prophecy. It only points to the latter fulfillment, which is the main focus and purpose of the prophecy itself.
This duality is seen with the “abomination of desolation” prophecy. And what it reveals is fascinating! Let’s examine the historical TYPE of what has already occurred. First, recall the lengthy Daniel 11 prophecy. A crucial part of that prophecy comes up for review and expansion at this juncture.
In about 176 BC, Antiochus IV (king of the north, and TYPE of the future final civil ruler who embodies the Beast system) acquired the kingdom from his older brother. After this, Antiochus Epiphanes removed the high priest in Jerusalem and installed someone loyal to himself. Upon a triumphant return from Egypt, in 168 BC, Antiochus sacked the Temple at Jerusalem and took its golden vessels.
Recall that Antiochus also sent troops to Judea in 167 BC. They destroyed the Temple and its sanctuary. This act stopped the commanded twice daily sacrifices at the Temple (Ex. 29:39-42;Num. 28:4-6). This was an overt attempt to wipe out the Jewish religion with all of its doctrines.
This military leader also stationed a garrison atop the Jewish Temple Mount, desecrating it. Also recall that Daniel wrote, “Yes, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him [Antiochus] the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of [the] sanctuary was cast down” (8:11).
Daniel added this in chapter 11: “And arms shall stand on his [Antiochus’] part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength [the Jewish Temple], and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that makes desolate” (vs. 31).
Now then, what exactly is this coming “abomination” that will be “set up” again? The truth—born of history—is beyond eye-opening in regard to prophecy.
The first fulfillment was not just Antiochus’ armies coming into Jerusalem—an early “treading it down” for three years until 165 BC—but the fact that those armies set up an IMAGE—a specificIDOL—on the Temple’s altar, which defiled and made it desolate. Antiochus further polluted the Temple by offering swine’s blood upon the altar.
These historical events of Daniel 8 are an unmistakable fulfillment of the prophecy in Daniel 11:31, and a FORERUNNER of the end-time fulfillment of the “abomination of desolation” spoken of by Christ in Matthew, Mark and Luke.
We are left to ask: What was this statue and where is it now?
Incredible History Unveiled
Now comes fascinating knowledge. You have almost certainly never heard it. History reveals that the idol Antiochus placed in the Temple—or “holy place”—was a statue of Zeus or Jupiter Olympus, the chief deity of pagan Hellenists of Greece and Macedonia.
Volume Four of A Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects and Doctrines makes this clear. The context has to do with Simon (Magus) the sorcerer, described in Acts 8: “When Justin Martyr wrote [AD 152] his Apology [his book] the sect of the Simonians [from Simon Magus] appears to have been formidable, for he speaks four times of their founder, Simon [Magus]…and we need not doubt that he identified him with the Simon of the [book of] Acts. He states that he was a Samaritan [Acts 8 makes that clear], adding that his birthplace was a village called Gitta; he describes him as a formidable magician, and tells that he came to Rome in the days of Claudius Caesar [which is AD 45], and made such an impression by his magical powers, that he was honoured as a god, a statue being erected to him on the Tiber [River], between the two bridges, bearing the inscription ‘Simoni deo Sancto’” (p. 682). This inscription means “Holy God Simon.” Also note that Simon’s followers generally called him Jupiter.
We can ask: Is this the very same statue placed by Antiochus?
Following the journey of this statue is vital. Do not miss the flow of events. Remember, God expects they be understood!
It has been well reported that many centuries ago a statue of the pagan god Jupiter was found in Rome. The large bronze statue was altered and renamed St. Peter. One strong indication of this comes from John Parker: “By some writers, it is affirmed to be no other than the statue of Jupiter, with a new head and hands; others stating that this famous statue was melted down by order of Pope Leo I in the middle of the fifth century, and recast into this figure of S. Peter, holding the keys of heaven with one hand, whilst the other is raised in the act of benediction in the Roman manner, with the first and second and fingers extended” (The Archaeology of Rome, p. 38).
Ralph Woodrow, author of Babylon Mystery Religion, goes further: “This statue is looked upon with most profound veneration and its foot has been kissed so many times [by devotees] that the toes are nearly worn away!” (It is more than interesting to note that the Catholic religion has a long tradition of kissing idols—feet, rings and crosses—yet the pagan origin of this practice can clearly be found in I Kings 19:18 and Hosea 13:1-2.)
Incredible! Yet these are the facts from history. This same statue—directly related to the abomination of desolation—is now prominently displayed in Rome!
Remember, Jesus said His servants—those who understand God’s prophecies and know what to watch for—shall “see” the abomination of desolation. This must be referring to something that is physically set up and visible in the holy place.
Will this statue be brought back, full-circle, to Jerusalem to fulfill this end-time prophecy? God, through the initial fulfillment, has almost certainly provided the answer for those willing to believe His Word and plain accounts of history regarding the role of this image and its connection to the end-time civil ruler (Beast), and the religious leader (False Prophet) who will direct that it be placed—with himself—in Jerusalem.
In Place of God
Ezekiel 28 provides a fuller picture of the audaciousness of the False Prophet when he enters Jerusalem: “The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, ‘Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus [a man, not to be confused with the king of Tyrus referenced in verse 12, who is clearly Satan]…Thus says the Lord GOD; because your heart is lifted up, and you have said, ‘I AM A GOD, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas” (vs. 1-2).
Daniel 11:45 explains that the king of the north will “plant the tabernacles of his palacebetween the seas in the glorious holy mountain…” Of course, the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea are about equidistant on either side of Jerusalem, east and west. Any map of the Middle East shows this. The False Prophet will obviously participate in this move and join him.
Continuing in Ezekiel 28 about the False Prophet: “Yet you are a man, and not God, though youset your heart as the heart of God: behold, you are wiser than Daniel [this man will think he is]; there is no secret that they can hide from you [describing his proud thinking]. With your wisdom and with your understanding you have gotten you riches, and have gotten gold and silver into your treasures” (vs. 2-4).
Let’s pause to summarize. A United Europe will transform the crashing global economy and usher in a time of world prosperity unlike any previous time. The False Prophet will proclaim himself to be God. Amazingly, hundreds of millions will believe him, having been seduced by accompanying miracles. The world will rejoice and also worship the Beast because he will bring peace and prosperity back to the world.
Verses 5-8 describe more of this religious leader’s pride in the context of what his end will be: “By your great wisdom and traffick have you increased your riches, and your heart is lifted up because of your riches: therefore thus says the Lord GOD; because you have set your heart as the heart of God; behold, therefore I will bring strangers upon you…they shall bring you down to the pit.”
Antiochus Epiphanes was a forerunning TYPE of the False Prophet (but also of the Beast because he too is worshipped).
The ULTIMATE fulfillment of the abomination of desolation is not only the statue, it is the final leader of the religious system—the human personification of the Babylonish whore herself—who enters into Jerusalem and says, “I am God.”
In fact, the entire Babylonish system that this False Prophet—supported by the Beast—represents is twice referenced regarding “abominations”: “So he [an angel] carried me [the apostle John] away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored beast full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: and upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS ANDABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (Rev. 17:3-5).
God does not just describe this false religious system as abominable, but refers to it as “themother of…abominations.”
This religious leader is described in II Thessalonians and there referred to as the “man of sin.” Notice: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [Christ’s Return] shall not come, except there come a falling away first [a prophecy fulfilled in the twentieth century] and thatman of sin be revealed, the son of perdition…Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he IS GOD” (2:3-4).
Verses 9 and 10 explain how this deceiver will sway great numbers to worship him and the civil leader: “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth…” The allure of miracles will seduce the masses into supporting and even worshipping the Beast. (See also Revelation 13:11-14 and 19:20.)
This is clearly the False Prophet of Revelation 16:13, not the Beast. But do not be confused. They both are seen as divine. Remember, Antiochus Epiphanes—the civil ruler—as well as the statue—representing the religious system of Babylon in Jerusalem—was a TYPE of the coming Beast and False Prophet.
What is the motivation behind the setting up of the abomination of desolation? Examining a passage in Psalm 83 reveals why the Beast power will come against Jerusalem to destroy it and desecrate the Jewish state and religion:
“Come…let us [certain nations acting in alliance] cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against you [this describes an association of nations in the Middle East who decide to ally with the 10 European nations under the Beast]…Who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession” (vs. 4-5, 12).
First, it is certainly no secret that forces exist today in the Middle East who want to “cut off” the modern nation of Israel—the Jews. We also read from Luke that this was a time of (Gentile) “wrath” against the “people” of “this land.” Many other countries within the “nation” identified here as Israel are also to be included in this destruction that is being planned.
Now focus on the term “houses of God.” We saw that the final powerful religious leader will “plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas [Mediterranean Sea and Dead Sea] in the glorious holy mountain” (Dan. 11:45). Comparing this passage with Psalm 83 makes clear they describe the same holy places in Jerusalem where the Jews’ daily sacrifices must already by then have been restarted.
So then, the religious motive behind the confederation is to wipe out the nations of Israel—and to seize the holy places in Jerusalem, the “houses of God.” And just as Antiochus entered Jerusalem centuries ago, destroyed the city and desecrated the Temple, a final fulfillment of the abomination of desolation is drawing nearer.
Understand. The Vatican has long said they want to proclaim Jerusalem an “international city.” But this seemingly peaceful desire will only be a pretense for taking possession of the city’s holy sites. Realize that this false system will declare, “They are safe with us! You can trust us! We will be the guarantor of Jerusalem—and its three ‘great religions.’ And we are prepared to bring armies to ensure it.”
Longing for “Peace in our time”—reminiscent of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s report upon returning from Berlin just before World War II—this will please and reassure the ears of the majority—and the decision makers!
Understand. For the daily sacrifices to stop they must first be restarted. There must come at least a temporary restoration of these Old Covenant sacrifices in Jerusalem at the Temple Mount under the direction of a re-established priesthood. While a full temple is not needed,something must be rebuilt.
When the False Prophet directs the Beast to erect this statue at the site of the reconstituted daily sacrifices, the abomination will officially “stand in the holy place”!
Chronologically chapter 9 follows 5, and is in the same year of chapter 6, when Daniel is cast into den of lions. Whether Daniel has this great vision before or after he cast into the lions den is not clear.
1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans-
2 in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
First year of Darius: Cyrus the Great appointed Darius to rule over the Babylon. This covered in more detail in chapter 6. Darius the Mede was an ally of Persia, led by Cyrus the great. The Medes were the Persian overlords prior to Cyrus the Great who rebelled against Median control. Cyrus rebelled his Mede grandfather, and the Median generals allied with him. Darius was likely one of his Mede generals who was 64 years of age at the time of this event.
There are two explanations to the identity of this Darius as Walvoord give the explanation given by John C. Whitcomb,
One of these explanations…Whitcomb hold that Ugbaru, identified previously as the governor of Gutium in the Nabonidus Chronical, led the army of Cyrus into Babylon and died less than a month later. Gubaru, however, identified by Whitcomb as Darius the Mede, a king of Babylon under the authority of Cyrus….The third view, held by the conservative scholar, D.J. Wiseman, has simplicity in its favor. It claims Darius the Mede is another name of Cyrus the Persian. This is based on the translation of Daniel 6;28 which the Aramaic permits to read, “Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, even the reign of Cyrus the Persian. The fact that monarchs had more than one name is common in ancient literature.
Made king: The words “was made king” demonstrates the accuracy of the book of Daniel. Since he was made King he is more likely appointed to the position, contrary the critics charge Daniel is in error. Darius served as governor over the Babylonian conquests of Persia.
I Daniel: Daniel is about 81 to 83 years old at this point in his life. This vision in the ninth chapter is either follows or precedes Daniel being thrown in the Lions den in chapter 6.
Understood: Daniel had acquired a copy of the writings of Jeremiah, who was a contemporary of Daniel. Daniel was a youth when he was taken captive into the land of Babylon at 14. Jeremiah at the time Daniel was taken captive would have been 36 years of age.
Jeremiah: Jeremiah lived a turbulent life in the courts of Israel. For twenty-two years he served under the righteous rule of Josiah. After Josiah’s death, he served under his sons who, were wicked and refused to obey the words of God, spoken through Jeremiah, to their own destruction.
In 605 B.C. the Babylonians received the submission of Jerusalem after the victory of Carcemeish. Jehoiakim refused to submit to Babylon as instructed by Jeremiah and was overthrown after he rebelled in 597 B.C.
Carchemish, and the Major Battle of 606 BCE
by David Padfield and edited by Fred P Miller
Carchemish (now Karkamis) was an important ancient city of the northern Hittite empire, located on the border between Turkey and Syria on the Euphrates River just north of Hamath. It was also the location of one of the decisive battles in world history. It was here that the armies of Babylon and Egypt met in battle (Jer. 46:2; 2 Chr. 35:20-24). The prophet Isaiah lists Carchemish as one of the kingdoms overthrown by Sargon II of Assyria in 717 BC (Isa. 10:7-11). Carchemish is also mentioned in Egyptian and Assyrian texts.
The ruins of Carchemish are located on the West bank of Euphrates River, about 35 miles southeast of Gaziantep, Turkey. The site lies in Turkish territory on the border of Syria. A large Turkish military now stands on the Carchemish acropolis, and access to the site is now heavily restricted and is out of bounds to archaeological exploration.
The site was excavated three different times before World War One by the British Museum, led by David George Hogarth, Reginald C. Thompson, Leonard Woolley, and T. E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”). These expeditions uncovered substantial remains of the Assyrian and Neo-Hittite periods, including forts, palaces, temples, market places, and a great wall sculptured with a procession of warriors, with the king and crown prince celebrating a great victory.
The Battle Of Carchemish
The Battle of Carchemish was fought in May/June of 606 BCE between an allied army of Egyptians and Assyrians against the Babylonian army.
When the Assyrian capital of Ninevah was overrun by the Babylonians circa 612 BCE, the Assyrians moved their capital to Harran (now in Turkey). When the Babylonians captured Harran circa 608 BC, the Assyrian capital was moved to Carchemish.
Egypt was allied with the Assyrians, and marched to their aid against the Babylonians. Circa 609 BCE, the Egyptian army of Pharaoh Necho II was delayed at Megiddo (in Israel) by the forces of King Josiah of Judah. Josiah was killed and his army was defeated.
“After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by the Euphrates; and Josiah went out against him. But he sent messengers to him, saying, ‘What have I to do with you, king of Judah? I have not come against you this day, but against the house with which I have war; for God commanded me to make haste. Refrain from meddling with God, who is with me, lest He destroy you.’ Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself so that he might fight with him, and did not heed the words of Necho from the mouth of God. So he came to fight in the Valley of Megiddo. And the archers shot King Josiah; and the king said to his servants, ‘Take me away, for I am severely wounded.’ His servants therefore took him out of that chariot and put him in the second chariot that he had, and they brought him to Jerusalem. So he died, and was buried in one of the tombs of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.” (2 Chr. 35:20-24).
The Egyptians were further delayed at Riblah, and Necho arrived at Carchemish too late. Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar had surprised the Assyrians and had captured Carchemish. He then turned on the Egyptians and thoroughly defeated them in a bloody battle and the combined Egyptian and Assyrian forces were devastated.
The Babylonian Chronicles, now housed in the British Museum, claim that Nebuchadnezzar
“crossed the river to go against the Egyptian army which lay in Carchemish. The armies fought with each other and the Egyptian army withdrew before him. He accomplished their defeat and beat them to nonexistence. As for the rest of the Egyptian army which had escaped from the defeat so quickly that no weapon had reached them, the Babylonians overtook and defeated them in the district of Hamath so that not a single man escaped to his own country. At that time Nebuchadnezzar conquered the whole of Hatti-land.”
But this is probably a hyperbole since Necho lasted 8 or 9 more years until the final overthrow of Egypt.
Before the battle of Carchemish, Egypt had been for more than 1500 years the greatest power in North Africa and was the power in the Middle East, but the battle of Carchemish changed all of that when the Babylonians destroyed the power of Egypt and the independent existence of Assyria. The Battle of Carchemish was the end of the Assyrian Empire, and Egypt was reduced to a second-rate power. Ezekiel prophesied, one year before the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in 585 BCE, that the main castes of Egypt would be taken captive by the Babylonians and then restored fourty years later. But Egypt would be the “basest” of nations from that time. This was a result of the Battle of Carchemish. Egupt would lose sovereignty and self rule from circa 580 BCE to 1955 AD. They would be successively ruled over by the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Saracens, Turks and the British until the end of the mandate in 1955 when self rule was restored.
Megiddo and Carchemish
After all this, when Josiah had set the temple in order, Neco [Neccho, KJV] king of Egypt came up to make war at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah went out to engage him.–2 Chronicles 35:20 (NAS)
The battle of Carchemish changed the history of the world. It began the fulfillment of one of the longest prophecies in the Bible–the reign of the four universal empires which both Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel saw in vision (Daniel 2 and 7)—and introduced the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24).
Carchemish is mentioned twice in the Bible. The first concerned the death of good King Josiah (2 Chronicles 35); the second, less than four years later, was the famous Battle of Carchemish (Jeremiah 46) where Babylon became established as a world power. These battles climaxed a prolonged campaign of a new world force east of Mesopotamia as it became the dominant power in the entire middle east.
Mesopotamia, the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, had been dominated by the Babylonians since about the time of Abraham. Assyria had broken free as a separate vassal state of Babylon under Bel-Bani, but it was not until about two hundred years before King Josiah that they sought to extend their dominion west of the Euphrates river.
The main force in the west was Egypt. Although she had been conquered for a time by Assyria who burned their capital, Thebes, Egypt under Psammetichus successfully threw off the Assyrian yoke. His strong administration raised Egypt nearly to its former stature.
The kingdoms of Israel (Samaria) and Judah formed a buffer between these two powers. The northern kingdom of Israel looked to neighbor Syria for support, while Judah was more inclined to ally herself with Egypt for military assistance.
In the meantime Babylon and Media were joining forces in the east and making menacing moves to the west. The dynasty of Nabopolassar had broken ties with the Assyrians and was now their rival for the conquest of the west, thus maintaining control of the lucrative trade routes.
BABYLON: For over a century Assyria had ruled over Babylon. Ashupanirpal, the king of Assyria, appointed his own brother as viceroy over Babylon but he fomented a rebellion for an independent Babylon. When this rebellion was crushed, a new dynasty arose on the scene and started another campaign to free itself from the Assyrians. This was led by Nabopolassar. Seeking assistance he joined forces for a while with the king of the Medes. Babylonia’s able general and future king was Nebuchadnezzar son of Nabopolassar.
ASSYRIA: Assyria had the largest army in the world at the time largely because of universal conscription. However this policy was now producing two problems: fresh conquests were needed to keep the army occupied and fresh spoils of war were required to pay the forces. Since Assyria’s hold over the Medes and Babylonians was crumbling, they sought to extend their control over the west. Although their brief hold over Egypt was broken by Psammetichus, the Assyrians maintained a loose military alliance with his son, Pharaoh-neccho.
EGYPT: Although suspicious of Assyria as a military partner, Egypt had a greater fear of the mustering Babylonian army. They felt, correctly as it turned out, that Babylon posed the greater threat. Neccho, the Pharaoh, had been a great builder of the nation, concentrating on two fleets for his navy, one to cruise the Mediterranean and the other the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. He even sponsored a two-year expedition which successfully circumnavigated Africa, rounding the Cape of Good Hope over a thousand years before Vasco de Gama. Disease aborted the work to build a canal linking the Mediterranean and Red seas. It was not until the nineteenth century that the 103-mile long Suez Canal was actually built.
JUDAH: Under Josiah, one of the most religious kings in their history, Judah was prospering. A great religious reformation included the reestablishment of the Passover sacrifices and the repair of the temple complex. But militarily Judah was not a strong power and had entered into a defense alliance with Egypt. This may be why Necho felt safe taking his soldiers overland for the 600-mile journey to Carchemish rather than using his fleet to get to the nearer port of Arvad.
The campaign that enabled Babylon to cross the Euphrates and firmly establish itself as the world’s first universal empire took just seven years. It began in the 14th year of Nabopolassar when he was allied with the Median king Cyaxares. He crushed the Assyrians and destroyed the city of Nineveh, forcing the fleeing Assyrians to regroup at Harran, 250 miles to the west. Here the refugees appointed a new king, Assur-ubalit II.
The Babylonian forces continued their march the next year and defeated Ruggulitu, ravaging the ancient Assyrian homeland. The next year they prepared for another onslaught. The hard-pressed Assyrians sent a message to Pharaoh-Necho of Egypt asking for military aid. Necho brought his troops and met Assur-urbalit at the former Hittite capital of Carchemish on the west bank of the Euphrates. Here he was escorted the last 90 miles to Harran where he tried to withstand the invading Babylonians. Once again Babylon was successful and the Egyptians and Assyrians retreated to Carchemish.
In the following year, the 17th of Nabopolassar, the battle was resumed. It was on this occasion that Josiah decided to forbid the Egyptian armies to cross Judea to join with the Assyrians. Rather than retreat, Necho engaged Josiah and the Jewish forces in battle on the plains of Megiddo. It was in this conflict that a random arrow hit Josiah and killed him.
After the death of Josiah, Necho continued with his large army and again joined forces with the Assyrians to try to retake Harran. Once again they were defeated. On his return, whether it was in frustration at the defeat at Harran or in anger at Josiah’s opposition, Necho took Jehoahaz, the son of Josiah who was now king, captive to Egypt and placed his brother Jehoiakim on the throne as his puppet.
Over the next two years, the Babylonian armies strengthened their stronghold along the Euphrates river but did not advance further to the west than Carchemish.
Finally in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, the armies of Necho went up for one last battle with the forces of Babylon, now strongly built up and fortified by Nebuchadnezzar. The battle occurred this time at the city of Carchemish itself. It was the turning point of the war. When the combined armies of Assyria and Egypt fell, victory was complete for the new rulers of the land. It was also, in a way, God’s vengeance for the treatment Israel and Judah had received at the hands of Assyria and Egypt. “For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: for the Lord GOD of hosts hath a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates” (Jeremiah 46:10).
That same year Nebuchadnezzar’s troops advanced as far as Jerusalem and the stage was set for the Babylonian captivity. This captivity did not happen all at once. Jehoiakim was maintained on the throne for seven years before he was deposed for seeking help from Egypt; he was replaced by his son Jehoiachin who reigned but three months before Nebuchadnezzar replaced him with his uncle Zedekiah, the brother of Jehoahaz (2 Kings 24:18 compared with 2 Kings 23:31). Then, after a disastrous 11-year reign, Jerusalem fell, the temple was destroyed, and Zedekiah was taken captive and blinded. The desolation of Jerusalem was complete.
This brings us to the heart of this study–the intervention of Josiah to stop Pharaoh Necho from passing through Judea to assist the king of Assyria at Carchemish. Several interesting questions are raised in this experience. The account is brief enough to quote in its entirety: “After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by Euphrates: and Josiah went out against him. But he sent ambassadors to him, saying, What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not. Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself, that he might fight with him, and hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God, and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo. And the archers shot at king Josiah; and the king said to his servants, Have me away; for I am sore wounded. His servants therefore took him out of that chariot, and put him in the second chariot that he had; and they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchres of his fathers.”—2 Chronicles 35:20-24, emphasis added.
At first it appears that Josiah, famed for his obedience to God was, in his last act, disobedient. Was the fact that Josiah was to grant permission really from the mouth of Jehovah? Did Pharaoh Necho even recognize Jehovah as a legitimate authority? Would the God of Israel send a foreign king as his messenger to his own righteous ruler? Was there no prophet in Israel? On the other hand, might not Necho be referring to his god, or, more likely, was he speaking sarcastically as Sennacherib did to Hezekiah (2 Kings 19:16-18)? In any case, Necho’s message could hardly have been from Jehovah since, when he did reach Carchemish, he was on the losing side of the battle.
However the words of the prophetess Huldah must also be considered: “Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest his words against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, and humbledst thyself before me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before me; I have even heard thee also, saith the LORD. Behold, I will gather thee to thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered to thy grave in peace, neither shall thine eyes see all the evil that I will bring upon this place, and upon the inhabitants of the same. So they brought the king word again.”—2 Chronicles 34:27,28
Dying in battle hardly seems to fulfil an unconditional promise of God that Josiah would die in peace. One explanation is that the prophecy did not say he would die peacefully, but “in peace.” The phrase may describe the time of his death and not the circumstances of it. Josiah died at the young age of 39. If he had lived a normal life span of 50 or 60 years, he would have lived in a period of intense conflict as the forces of the Babylonians would be attacking and eventually destroying his beloved Jerusalem. This interpretation is supported by the clause that says he would not see the evils so shortly to come upon Jerusalem.
In a similar vein, the church of Christ will be hidden from the worst of the troubles coming upon the world. Jesus promised as much: “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36). Even if members of the church finish their course of life in severe persecution and at the hands of their enemies, their deliverance will hide them from the final trauma of this old social order.
There is yet another sense in which these words are true. If anyone gives his life in doing what he is sure is the will of the Lord, he is at peace in his death. Paul tells us this is even true if one misinterprets the Lord’s providence as to what actions are appropriate: “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not” (2 Corinthians 8:12, see also 1 John 3:20).
Finally, it would be hard to reconcile a death in disobedience to God with this summation of Josiah’s career: “Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and his goodness, according to that which was written in the law of the LORD, and his deeds, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah” (2 Chronicles 35:26,27, emphasis added).
Why did Josiah “disguise himself”? The only other king to disguise himself in battle was wicked King Ahab who did it out of cowardice (1 Kings 22:30). Kings usually were at the forefront of battle to lead their soldiers and give them courage. Because Josiah is never pictured as a coward, we must look for another explanation. The problem may well be one of translation. Many commentators prefer to read the Hebrew as “he equipped himself.” The Septuagint says he “took courage.” The Hebrew wordhitchapees is frequently translated “searched” (as in Genesis 31:35) and once “diligent” (Psalms 64:6). It is probable that “searched” as in a mental searching of his motives before going into this battle is the correct thought and is in harmony with the character of Josiah.
It appears to have been a random arrow that struck the fatal wound. While the battle was fought at Megiddo, he lived long enough to die in his beloved Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 35:24). The account in 2 Kings appears to conflict with the Chronicles record: “In his days Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt went up to the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates. And King Josiah went to meet him, and when [Pharaoh Neco] saw him, he killed him at Megiddo. And his servants drove his body in a chariot from Megiddo, and brought him to Jerusalem and buried him in his own tomb. Then the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah and anointed him and made him king in place of his father.”—2 Kings 23:29,30 (NAS)
Adam Clarke has a way to harmonize the use of the word translated “killed” in these verses. He writes: “The word meet (Hebrew 4191) should here be considered as a participle, dying, for it is certain he was not dead: he was mortally wounded at Megiddo, was carried in a dying state to Jerusalem, and there he died and was buried (see 2 Chronicles 35:24).”
After his death the people choose his son Jehoahaz to reign. He reigned but three short months before Necho, returning from Carchemish, appointed Jehoiakim (also called Eliakin) to reign. In the fourth year of his reign, the forces of Nebuchadnezzar conquered the area and kept Jehoiakim on his throne as a puppet king.
After three years he rebelled against Babylon and a stage of warfare continued for about four years. After his death, the Israelites appointed Jehoiachin in his place. He was the last king appointed by the Jews. His reign was short-lived, only three months, before Nebuchadnezzar put down the rebellion, dethroned Jeohiachin and appointed Zedekiah in his stead.
The Mourning for Josiah
“And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel: and, behold, they are written in the lamentations.”–2 Chronicles 35:25
The mourning of Israel for this righteous king shows that even a wicked population destined to be shortly severely chastised by God, recognizes a life of goodness. Their weeping was accompanied by funereal music, or dirges. These became remembered songs of the tragic death of this good man. They were remembered throughout the Babylonian captivity for if Ezra is, as popularly thought, the author of the two books of Chronicles, then the phrase “this day” in this verse occurred after their return to Jerusalem from Babylon.
The fact that it was made an ordinance indicates that the prominence of these dirges was not accidental but a legal requirement. We find no such treatment of the mourning for any other Old Testament character.
The Mourning of Hadad-Rimmon
There is another great mourning described in scripture, not in history but in prophecy: “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; The family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart; All the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart.”— Zechariah 12:10-14
Jesus’ allusion to this prophecy in his Olivet sermon (Matthew 24:30) and the application of it by the apostle John in Revelation 1:7 leave no doubt as to whom it refers. It applies to the recognition of Christ at the time of his second advent.
This mournful recognition of the Messiah is likened to that at the death of Josiah. Hadadrimmon has been identified by Jerome with a village in the plain of Megiddo on the road to Jerusalem. Van de Velde, in his Travels, says it is the same one referred to today as Rumuni. It is probable that this is the place where either Josiah was wounded, fell into a coma on the way to Jerusalem, or actually died.
The preservation of the biblical name in the prophecy may be of some import. The name is taken from that of two false gods, Hadad and Rimmon, both sun gods. The presence of that name in ancient Israel indicates the degree the nation had been influenced by the surrounding pagan cultures. It is from the depths of this harmful assimilation that they call out in bitter agony for their great reformer Josiah. In like manner, the descendents of those Jews are gathered back to their land in a measure of unbelief. It will remain for the extremities of Armageddon to bring about this godly sorrow of repentance and recognition of their Messiah.
This mourning of recognition, though national in scope, must be individual in depth. Everyone—wives and husbands individually—must recognize for themselves the sorrow of the death of the one whom God sent for their deliverance.
The identification of the specific house of David, Nathan, Levi, and Shimei are also suggestive. While David and Levi are easily identified as the royal and priestly lines, the matter is not so simple with Nathan and Shimei. If it is Nathan the prophet, he could represent the prophetic line. However, it is more likely that the reference is to Nathan the son of David and Bathsheba, showing the least of the kingly line. Likewise Shimei is either identified with the Benjamanite who cursed David and then repented (2 Samuel 16:5,6; 2 Samuel 19:16-23) or the grandson of Levi whose household were called the “Shimites” (Numbers 3:21), and show the least of the descendents of the priestly line.
Some Interesting Parallels
The study of the battles of Megiddo and Carchemish in the days of King Josiah reveal some correspondencies with the prophesied Battle of Armageddon.
- As the battles of Josiah’s day marked the end of dominion of historic world powers (Egypt and Assyria), so Armageddon will bring an end to current world powers.
- As those battles of old paved the way for the introduction of the first universal empire (Babylon), so Armageddon paves the way for the introduction of the fifth universal empire (the kingdom of Christ).
- It was in these battles that Israel’s dominion over Jerusalem gave way to gentile forces; so in Armageddon Israel will gain their place as gentile governments collapse.
- As the death of Josiah brought from the people a great mourning and recognition of his greatness, so an aftermath of Armageddon will be the universal recognition of the Messiah whom they previously rejected.
Each of the battles on the historic plains of Megiddo carries its individual lesson for that great future battle to which that place lends its name: Armageddon. May the study of this battle of Josiah encourage us to look at those details in each of the other Megiddo battles.
This following prophecy was givin in 586 BCE and was fulfilled beginning in 569 BCE.
Ezekiel 29:12 And I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate, and her cities among the cities that are laid waste shall be desolate forty years: and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse them through the countries. 13 Yet thus saith the Lord GOD; At the end of forty years will I gather the Egyptians from the people whither they were scattered: 14 And I will bring again the captivity of Egypt, and will cause them to return into the land of Pathros, into the land of their habitation; and they shall be there a base kingdom. 15 It shall be the basest of the kingdoms; neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations: for I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule over the nations.
At the Battle of Carchemish Babylon became master of the Middle East for almost a century and began the fulfillment of Ezekiek’s amazing forecast of Egyptian history..
He was replaced by his uncle Zedekiah, who also refused to listen to the word of God, through Jeremiah. Zedekiah burned God’s word by the prophet Jeremiah in the fire. (Jeremiah 36:20-26)
Finally, after a third and final rebellion against Babylon, the Babylonian armies came and destroyed the city and the temple in 587 B.C. The rebels took Jeremiah captive to the land of Egypt where he died in an unmarked grave.
Jeremiah’s scrolls were rewritten after they were burned, and either the originals or copies made their way to Daniel. From the scrolls Daniel read the words of Jeremiah, concerning what would happen to the city ofJerusalem.
Seventy years: Jeremiah foretold Babylon’s success for a period of 70 years, in 605 B.C., (Jeremiah 25:1). Resulting in Jerusalem’s desolation.
11 ‘And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
12 ‘Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,’ says the Lord; ‘and I will make it a perpetual desolation.
13 ‘So I will bring on that land all My words which I have pronounced against it, all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah has prophesied concerning all the nations.
10 For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.
Desolations of Jerusalem: The city of Jerusalem was completely destroyed in 586 B.C. when the armies attacked the city for the third time. The seventy years were compete with the destruction of the Jewish temple. The Temple was destroyed in 586 B.C., and construction was started in 536 B.C., but it was not completed unit 516 B.C.