Alexander the Great and the Book of Daniel

Josephus, the late first century Jewish historian, records the visit of Alexander the Great to the city of Jerusalem in the 4th century B.C. He recounts how Alexander “went up into the temple” and “offered sacrifice to God.” He says that the Book of Daniel was shown to Alexander. Alexander assumed, as have many commentators since that time, that Daniel was prophesying of Alexander.

Bust of Alexander in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Bust of Alexander in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Here is a portion of the account from the Antiquities of the Jews. Notice especially section 337.

336 And when he had said this to Parmenion, and had given the high priest his right hand, the priests ran along by him, and he came into the city. And when he went up into the temple, he offered sacrifice to God, according to the high priest’s direction, and magnificently treated both the high priest and the priests.
337 And when the Book of Daniel was showed to him {a} wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended; and as he was then glad, he dismissed the multitude for the present; but the next day he called them to him, and bade them ask what favours they pleased of him;
338 whereupon the high priest desired that they might enjoy the laws of their forefathers, and might pay no tribute on the seventh year. He granted all they desired; and when they entreated him that he would permit the Jews in Babylon and Media to enjoy their own laws also, he willingly promised to do hereafter what they desired:  (Ant 11:336-338)

Read Daniel 8 for more details of the conflict between Alexander, who is compared to a male goat, and the Persian king who is likened to a ram.

As I was considering, behold, a male goat came from the west across the face of the whole earth, without touching the ground. And the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes. (Daniel 8:5 ESV)

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