Daniel's prophecy describes the reign of one of the later Syrian kings, Antiochus IV, surnamed Epiphanes ("the manifest" or "the illustrious"). With tragic wit, the Jews named him Epimanes, or "the madman," when it became apparent that his policies were violently anti-Jewish. Determined to "civilize" (i.e., Hellenize) the Jews, this little horn (Daniel 8:9-14) systematically forbade, under penalty of death, circumcision, Sabbath and holy day observance, and the reading or possession of the scrolls of the Torah. He executed some for refusing to eat swine's flesh and butchered others who would not bow to a pagan image.
Additionally, he had a statue of Zeus Olympius (an "abomination of desolation," Daniel 11:31; cf. Matthew 24:15) erected in the Temple. Swine were sacrificed on God's altar, and pagan rites, orgies, and festivals were performed in the Temple grounds. In his pride (Daniel 8:11), he decreed that he should be worshipped as Zeus; his coins were struck with the inscription theos epiphanes ("God manifest"), a horrible counterfeit of the true "God with us."
Other despicable deeds of Antiochus, like his wars against Egypt and the Maccabees, are prophesied in Daniel 11:21-35, where he is clearly depicted as a type of the end-time Beast. His historical activities blend into the future rise and fall of the coming world dictator, who will also speak blasphemies and persecute God's people (Revelation 13:5-7). Expositor's Bible Commentary (vol. 7, pp. 135-142) provides a complete and accurate explanation of these fifteen verses of Daniel 11.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Nebuchadnezzar's Image (Part Three): 'Belly and Thighs of Bronze'
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Daniel 8:9: