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He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time. But the court shall be seated, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it forever. (Daniel 7:25–26, NKJV)


The little horn, whom we know to be Herod the Great, appears throughout the prophecy of the four beasts. His appearance is not because he was a major figure of the Roman Empire from which he emerged. He is important because his reign in Palestine identifies the time of the arrival of Messiah and the kingdom of God. His appearance in this prophecy shows that he is essentially a wicked person, which the history of his life so plainly demonstrates. In verse 11 it is said he was speaking pompous words; in verse 20 we again see him speaking pompous words but we also see him making war against the saints; and verse 25 reveals the complete catalogue of his wickedness: he speaks pompous words, which we know learn are spoken against the Most High; the war he wages against the saints is really a persecution; and, he intended to change some times and law. We also are shown that the saints were to be given to his hand for a time, times, and half a time after which the court would be seated and his dominion taken away.

The first charge against Herod in verse 25 is that he speaks pompous words against the Most High. In this verse, the word pompous is in italic, which indicates the word is not in the original Hebrew text but was supplied by the translators for clarification. The King James Version has “speak great words against the Most High;” Young’s Literal Translation has “and words as an adversary of the Most High it doth speak;” the New American Standard Bible has, “speak out against the Most High;” and the American Standard Version has “speak words against the Most High.” However, no harm is done by inserting the word pompous in this verse because it appears in the same context in verses 11 and 20. The English word pompous means ostentatiously lofty (intending to impress; of high rank). The Hebrew word is rab-rab, which means domineering. Thus we learn that Herod sought to impress people, especially the Romans, with his authority and his ability to dominate the people over whom he ruled. Being that these people were the Jews, God’s people, it is said that his pompous words were directed against the Most High.

Herod was Idumean by birth and not a natural or full-blooded Jew. In order to stay in favor with the Jews as their king he married a Jewess named Miriam and nominally converted to Judaism.

It is said that Herod was endowed with the qualities of ascendency; he had what it took to become a king. He was of a commanding presence; he excelled in his physical abilities; he was a skilful diplomatist; and, above all, he was prepared to commit any crime in order to indulge his unbounded ambition.

We cannot give the entire history of Herod, but we will consider just some of its highlights that indicate what kind of a person he was. At the age of 25 his father appointed him prefect of Galilee and his first act in this capacity showed that he intended to please Rome at any cost. On his own authority he executed a band of fanatic that had attacked some surrounding heathen towns and robbed caravans. This infuriated the Jewish leaders because only the Sanhedrim could pass the death sentence on criminals. Herod had exceeded his authority according to the Jewish culture. They brought Herod to trial before the Sanhedrim, but instead of appearing dressed in black, as was the usual custom, he appeared dressed in purple robes and attended by bodyguards. Instead of presenting a defense against the charges, he gave them a letter from Hyrcanus, the governor of Syria, threatening ominous consequences if they did not clear Herod of the charges. After the trial, Hyrcanus advised Herod to leave Jerusalem, which he did, but in doing so he assembled an army and marched on Jerusalem intending to punish the Sanhedrim. His father and brother finally persuaded him to let the matter go.

In the year 40 b.c. Herod escaped internal political turmoil and went to Alexandria, Egypt where Cleopatra offered him a generalship in her army. He declined the offer and instead went to Rome. There he teamed up with Octavianus and Antony, both of whom pleaded with the Roman Senate to appoint Herod king of Palestine. Immediately after being appointed king, Herod went with both Octavianus and Antony to the Capitol to return thanks to the Roman Gods. So much for his Jewish faith! This certainly qualifies as “pompous words against the Most High.”

Another of his pompous actions shows the depths of disregard Herod had for his pretended Jewish faith and the God of the Jews. In his first year as king, Herod appointed his 17 year-old brother-in-law, Aristobulus, high priest. He felt that with himself on the royal throne and Aristobulus in the temple, he could maintain control over the Jewish people; he had them both politically and religiously. Aristobulus was a true Jew and of the priestly Cohen family, but it was not Herod’s place to appoint a high priest and Aristobulus was too young to serve as high priest according to the Law of Moses. However, Aristobulus became popular with the people and Herod had him drowned to remove what he felt was a threat to his rule.

The final pompous act and the one that convened the divine court against Herod is recorded in Matthew chapter 2. The magi came to Jerusalem from the East to find “he who has been born king of the Jews.” After consulting with scholars, it was determined that the magi should go to Bethlehem to find this king. Verse 8, “And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.’” Herod was not one to allow a potential rival. He devised a plot to rid himself of this competitor, but God warned the magi in a dream not to return to Jerusalem and to go home by another route. Then Herod did the unthinkable: verse 16, “Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.”

The second charge against the little horn is that he shall persecute, or wear out, the saints. The most notable work of Herod the Great is the restoration of the temple in Jerusalem. Solomon’s temple had been destroyed by the Babylonians. In 520 b.c. Dairus, king of Persia, commissioned the reconstruction of the temple under Zerubbabel, the Jewish governor of Judea. Altogether, it took 20 years to build the temple. This temple was built to accommodate all the functions of Jewish worship; nevertheless, it lacked the splendor of the original temple. While grateful to again have the temple it was a disappointment compared to the original temple. “Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing?” (Haggai 2:3).

Herod rebuilt and improved the structure and beauty of this temple. However, Herod also wanted to modernize the Jewish religion and Hellenize the Jewish culture. To the pious Jews, Herod’s government was no better than that of Antiochus Epiphanes, who also attempted to Hellenize the Jews. To Herod, the trimmings of the pagan world were dearer than the feelings of the Jews. The most important functions of state were entrusted to Greeks. All of Herod’s counselors and political assistants were pagans. Herod even brought pagan idols into the temple in Jerusalem. From time to time there were conspiracies against Herod’s life, which he put down with the severest cruelty. Prisons were overcrowded with prisoners who were summarily put to death. Herod attempted to force pagan religion on the Jews, but they refused to worship idols. In light of this Rome granted the Jews exemption from the state religion provided they pay a punitive tax called fiscus Judaicus.

Following his self-important and pompous attitude, Herod saw himself as an enlightened leader who purpose was to bring his backward and narrow-minded people into the modern world. He did what he felt necessary to accomplish this goal. This included persecution and murder of all rabbis he viewed as threats to his authority and as obstacles to the Hellenization of the Jews.

The third issue against Herod was his intent to change times and laws. This is plainly seen in his attempt to Hellenize the Jews. In addition to rebuilding the temple, Herod also built stadiums for Olympic type exhibitions, which were offensive to the Jews. He also introduced Greek theater, which, again was offensive to the Jews. His goal was to move the Jews away from their religious culture and practices to a secular society. Matters of the Law of Moses were to be relegated to the quaint past and the Jewish religion an optional thing for the weak-minded.

This has been a very brief recital of the history of Herod the Great. Eventually he came to the day where he was called upon by God to account for his pompous actions against God and God’s people. The pivot point of his career was this time period identified as time and times and half a time. The text says “the saints shall be given into his hand.” After he had done all he could do to have complete control over the Jews, the moment came when the construction of the temple was finished and he believed he finally had them in the palm of his hand.

The reconstruction of the temple began in the eighteenth year of his reign. Adam Clarke writes in his Commentary that it took 9½ years to finish the work. This accounts for the time needed to finish the major elements of the temple. Work continued on the temple until 63 a.d., just seven years before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. After the reconstruction of the temple, the amount of time Herod was allowed to have the Jews in his hand was limited to a time and times and half a time.

The Hebrew word translated time is id-dawn, meaning a set time, technically a year. A time is one year. Times is plural, but without a specific number, such as 4 times, it can only mean two times, or two years. Half a time is half a year. In total, the time indicated is 3½ years. Three and one-half years after the completion of the temple Herod’s dominion was taken away and the kingdom of God was given to the saints of the Most High.

Let us follow the timeline:

1.      Herod’s reign began in 37 b.c.

2.      The first full year of his reign was 36 b.c. and it was the year in which he appointed his brother-in-law high priest to consolidate his rule over the Jews.

3.      He began reconstructing the temple in the eighteenth year of his reign. Counting from 36 b.c. that would be the year 18 b.c.

4.      Calculating 9½ years of construction come to 8.5 b.c. (This would be some time in the middle of 8 b.c.)

5.      Deducting the 3½ years the saints were given into his hand comes to the end of 5 b.c. (December 5 b.c. by rough estimation)

At the beginning of 4 b.c. the divine court was convened and the coming of the kingdom prepared. This court consisted of the personages of God mentioned in this prophecy: the Ancient of Days, the Son of Man, and the Most High, all in the person of the Babe born in the Bethlehem stable. Herod died in late March or early April 4 b.c. Judgment was pronounced on him and his dominion was taken away. Christ was born in January or February 4 b.c. There was a very short overlap of just a couple of months. This was just enough time for Herod to have the Bethlehem babies killed and for God to deal with him in the most definite and lasting manner. With Herod out of the way, Messiah had come and along with Him the kingdom of God. It was now time for the saints to possess the kingdom.

Some might object that the Jews rejected Christ and therefore rejected the kingdom. But, it must be remembered that the disciples of Jesus were Jews and these were the ones who received the kingdom. In fact, in the earliest days of the Church, the representative of the kingdom, it was made up entirely of Jews. The prophecy says in verse 27, “all dominions shall serve and obey Him.” Thank God, the Gentiles were also included in the kingdom.

In closing, read Isaiah’s prophecy of the kingdom that speaks of the fullness of the kingdom of God. Isaiah 11:1–10:


There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.

His delight is in the fear of the L
ORD, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears; But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, And faithfulness the belt of His waist.

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra's hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper's den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the L
ORD As the waters cover the sea.

And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; For the Gentiles shall seek Him, And His resting place shall be glorious.







          37 b.c.               Herod begins his reign. Not a complete year.


1       36–35 b.c.          First full year of Herod’s reign. Same year Aristobulus made High Priest.  

2       35–34 b.c.

3       34–33 b.c.

4       33–32 b.c.

5       32–31 b.c.

6       31–30 b.c.

7       30–29 b.c.

8       29–28 b.c.

9       28–27 b.c.

10     27–26 b.c.

11     26–25 b.c.

12     25–24 b.c.

13     24–23 b.c.

14     23–22 b.c.

15     22–21 b.c.

16     20–19 b.c.

17     19–18 b.c.

18/1  18–17 b.c.          Reconstruction begins in 18th year of Herod’s reign; first year of reconstruction.

2       17–16 b.c.

3       16–15 b.c.

4       15–14 b.c.

5       14–13 b.c.

6       13–12 b.c.

7       12–11 b.c.

8       11–10 b.c.

9       10–9   b.c.

     9–8.5 b.c.          Reconstruction “completed” in the essential details.


1       8.5–7.5 b.c.        A time and times and half a time.

2       7.5–6.5 b.c.

3       6.5–5.5 b.c.

    5.5–5.0 b.c.


5 b.c. ends & 4 b.c. begins.           Herod’s dominion taken away–he dies in March/April 4 b.c.

                                                            Kingdom given to the saints–birth of Christ in January/February 4 b.c.