‘Ereb Boqer of Daniel 8:14 Re-examined
Written by Siegfried J. Schwantes
Though a literal rendering of the time expression in Daniel 8:14 reads: “And he said to me, Until evening (‘ereb) morning (bōqer) two thousand and three hundred, then . . .” modern scholarship commonly construes the 2300 evening-morning phrase to refer to the tāmîd (“regular, continual”) morning and evening sacrifices offered daily in the sanctuary–that is, once in the morning and once in the evening. Because these scholars assume that 2300 individual sacrifices, two a day, are meant, the figure is halved in order to obtain the “true” length of time implied in the text–1150 days.
Such thinking is reflected in the TEV: “I heard the other angel answer, ‘It will continue for 1150 days, during which evening and morning sacrifices will not be offered.” Such an interpretation not only reflects the popular attempt to harmonize the statements of Daniel with an Antiochus IV model and the period of temple desecration, 167-164 B.C, it undermines the Seventh-day Adventist premise that the 2300 days means 2300 full days as opposed to 1150 and does violence to the biblical text. This chapter attempts to show that the 1150-day interpretation for Daniel 8:14 falls apart on numerous grounds.
The Meaning of Tāmîd (“Continual”)
Right out of the gate, it is an unproved assumption that the “2300 evening-morning” refers to the tāmîd “sacrifice” of Daniel 8:12. In fact, the term “sacrifice” does not even appear in the text but is supplied by translators. It is just assumed that the tāmîd (“daily” KJV) of verse 12 was dealing with sacrifices. This assumption, however, comes fraught with numerous difficulties.
For starters, the word tāmîd is not employed as a noun by itself except in the book of Daniel (Daniel 8:11, 12, 13; 11:31; 12:11). In the rest of the OT the word is often used as an adverb in the sense of “continually” or “daily,” or as an adjective meaning “continual,” “perpetual,” “regular,” etc. It is employed 26 times in relation to nouns such as “burnt offering,” “meal offering,” “fire,” “show-bread,” “feast,” “allowance,” and the like–all various aspects of the daily or first apartment service of the Hebrew sanctuary.
Because tāmîd is used most often to qualify burnt offering or sacrifice, the word “sacrifice” has been supplied by translators to complete the sense of tāmîd in the five texts of Daniel. However, because the word was used to qualify other aspects of the Temple service, besides sacrifices, “service” instead of “sacrifice” would fit better in the same texts. As stated above, the use of tāmîd as a noun appears only in Daniel, where it stands for all the regular facets of first apartment sanctuary activity, as opposed to just the sacrifices of the same activity.
Thus, when the sanctuary was overthrown by the activity of the “little horn,” not only the sacrifices ceased to be offered but the totality of the services of the Temple as well. There’s no reason, therefore, to limit the understanding of the tāmîd to the sacrifices; the entire daily service better fits the context and meaning of the word. Hence, the attempt to limit it only to the sacrifices isn’t warranted by the word itself.
One Sacrifice, Offered Twice
Next, though modern scholarship assumes that the term tāmîd may be understood to stand for each of the two daily public sacrifices, biblical evidence describes the double sacrifice as a unit. In other words, it means only one sacrifice. The word tamîd is a technical term designating the double burnt offering of the morning and the evening that is offered daily. It’s one sacrifice offered twice a day, not two separate sacrifices.
The legislation of Exodus 29:38-42, where the service is described, is clear. After Bible presented the detailed prescription for the daily offering of two lambs a year old without blemish, verse 42 sums up the whole instruction by saying: “It shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations. . . .” It is evident that the double offering of the morning and the evening formed one unit contained in the expression ‘ōlat tāmîd, “continual burnt offering.”
The parallel text of Numbers 28:3-6 points to the same technical use of the term: “two male lambs a year old without blemish, day by day, as a “continual offering (vs. 3). Again, it’s clear that the morning and evening offerings constituted one “continual burnt offering”; it’s one sacrifice, not two.
In the remaining verses of Numbers 28 and in chapter 29 one may read a summary of all the sacrifices to be offered throughout the religious year: those of the Sabbath (28:9, 10); of the new moon (vss. 11-15); of the seven days of the feast of unleavened bread, which followed the celebration of the passover on the 14th of Nisan (vss. 16-25); of the day of the first-fruits (vss. 26-31); of the first day of the seventh month (29:1-6); of the tenth day of the same month (vss. 7-11); and of the eight days of the feast of tabernacles (vss. 12-38). In all cases the special sacrifices were to be offered “besides the continual burnt offering” (Numbers 28:9, 15, 23, 31; 29:6, 11, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31, 34, 38)—which is viewed, again, as one sacrifice offered twice a day.
More evidence is found in Ezra 3:3-5. After speaking of the restoration of the altar and the presentation of “burnt-offerings morning and evening,” the texts sum up the daily burnt offering of the morning and the evening under the expression ‘ōlat tämîd, evidently a singular. Hence, here too, the tämîd, though in this case dealing specifically with the sacrifice, views it as a single unit, not two independent ones.
The evidence furnished by these texts, which are fundamental to any discussion of the meaning of tāmîd, should caution the impartial exegete from any hasty assumption that tāmîd in Daniel designated each sacrifice by itself, as if the sacrifices of the morning and evening were two independent units. Instead, the evidence is clear: the “continual burnt offering” was viewed as a single sacrifice that came in two segments. Thus, even if the assumption were correct that the expression “evening-morning” referred only to the tāmîd sacrifices (which it doesn’t), the halving of the 2300 in 1150 days is unjustified.
THE SEQUENCE IN DANIEL 8:14
Also crucial to the discussion is the sequence in the “evening-morning” expression in Daniel 8:14. That specific sequence is not the language of the Hebrew religious system. The order of the tāmîd unit of burnt offerings was always, without exception, “morning and evening sacrifices,” with the term for “morning” always preceding the term for “evening”; it’s never “evening and morning” as in Daniel 8:14.
A survey of the OT produces the following illustrations: Exodus 29:39; Leviticus 6:13; Numbers 28:4; 2 Kings 16:15; 1 Chronicles 16:40; 23:30; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 13:11; 31:3; Ezra 3:3. “Burnt offerings morning and evening” becomes a stereotyped phrase that finds no exception in the biblical literature. It is also perpetuated in the post-biblical period, as e.g. in 1 Esdras 5:50: “. . . and they offered sacrifices according to the time, and burnt-offerings to the Lord both morning and evening.”
Thus the expression ‘ereb bōqer ”evening-morning” of Daniel 8:14 could not be derived from the language of sanctuary service, where the order of morning-evening is the standard one at all times. There is no evidence whatsoever that the Temple formula for the “morning and evening” sacrifices was changed during the captivity or in the subsequent period, as some have claimed. Hence the argument that this text is dealing with the daily sacrifices falls apart on these grounds as well, which means that the 1150 interpretation is again proved unwarranted.
This being the case, the origin of the expression ‘ereb bōqer must be sought elsewhere than in the language of the sanctuary service. That origin isn’t hard to find. The expression “evening-morning” is a time phrase rooted in Genesis 1, where the time unit of one day is expressed in the same terms and sequence as evening and morning (Gen 1:5, 8, 13, 17, 23, 31). Thus, the unusual expression ‘ereb bōqer is found in the language of Genesis 1. There the standard expression wayehî-’ereb wayehî-bōqer (“and there was evening, and there was morning”) is used for each day of the creation narrative (Gen 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31). Thought the language here isn’t identical to Daniel 8:14, the sequence of evening-morning is.
In fact, this manner of designating a complete day is found nowhere in the OT except in Daniel 8:14, 26. The standard practice is to designate the 24-hour day by the formula “day and night,” or, much less frequently, by its inverse “night and day.” It follows that if the author of the book of Daniel borrowed the phrase ‘ereb bōqer from Genesis 1, as the evidence seems to substantiate, then its meaning points, not to half days but to full days, as do they do in Genesis 1.
Also, the phrase ‘ereb bōqer of Daniel 8:14 appears in the singular, that is, each of the words “evening and morning” are singular. This is evidence that the expression represents a single unit of time, namely one full day that come 2300 hundred times, hence 2300 full days.
The LXX and Theodotion have understood it as such by adding the word “days” to the text. “Until evening and morning days two thousand and three hundred.” The word “days” does not appear in the Hebrew; these translators, believing (correctly) that “days” were meant, inserted it there to help clarify the intent of the text.
To summarize: the argument that the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14 is based on the daily sanctuary service, which consisted of two sacrifices, and thus stands for only 1150 days (two sacrifices per day) falls apart on these fundamental grounds.
1) There is no evidence that the tāmîd deals only with the sacrifices; instead the evidence shows that tāmîd is a word dealing with the entire daily service, as opposed to just the sacrifices. Hence the strong link to sacrifice break downs, destroying the foundation of the 1150 day argument.
2) Even if one could establish that tāmîd were dealing with just the sacrifices, the Bible is clear that they these sacrifices were viewed as a single unit, one sacrifice offered twice a day. Hence, dividing the 2300 days into two sacrifices a day is completely unwarranted.
3) The exact wording in Daniel 8:14 of ‘ereb bōqer “evening and morning” is opposite of the how the tāmîd sacrifice was depicted; without exception, that sacrifice was offered “morning and evening.” Hence, the attempt to link Daniel 8:14 with that sacrifice is groundless, which means the division of the 2300 in 1150 is as well.
4) The phrase of ‘ereb bōqer “evening and morning” of Daniel 8:14 appears in the singular, meaning a distinct and single unit. Hence the idea of breaking them up into halves isn’t suggested by the text itself.
5) Finally, not only did the LXX understand it to mean “days,” the vast majority of translations do not break the 2300 into 1150. Instead, they translate it as 2300 days, the obvious meaning of the text.