Liars for Jesus: Does Daniel Predict the Future?

Liars for Jesus: Does Daniel Predict the Future? March 19, 2014

Daniel Prophecy 70 WeeksThe book of Daniel is the story of a Judean nobleman taken into captivity in Babylon in the sixth century BCE. If it was actually written in the sixth century, as it claims, it does a remarkable job of predicting the future.

Nebuchadnezzar’s frightening dream

Daniel is an advisor to Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar and is called in to interpret a disturbing dream. The king is admirably skeptical: he demands that his wise men tell him the meaning of the dream without telling them what the dream was. If they have the wisdom to interpret the dream, they must surely have the wisdom to know what it was.

Good for you, O king—we could do with more of that skepticism today.

Of the king’s advisors, only Daniel is up to the challenge. In chapter 2, we learn that the king had dreamed of an enormous statue with gold head, silver chest, bronze loins, iron legs, and feet of iron plus clay. The statue is then destroyed by a huge rock.

Daniel tells him that the statue shows the future succession of kingdoms. Gold represents Babylon, and the subsequent kingdoms become baser (gold to silver to bronze to iron) and more powerful. Finally, they will be swept away by the rock of God’s kingdom.

The four beasts

Daniel has his own vision, a dream of four beasts (chapter 7). We see the beasts in succession, and, like the succession of metals, they represent the future kingdoms. The first is a lion with eagle wings (though we might call it a griffin, that also describes a cherub), then a bear, then a leopard. The final beast has iron teeth and is the most terrifying and destructive. It initially had ten horns, which represent ten kings, but then three were replaced by a new little horn that spoke boastfully. Again, all is swept away in the end.

It’s not too hard to map these symbols onto the history of the Middle East. (My primary skeptical source for this analysis was “The Failure of Daniel’s Prophecies” by Chris Sandoval—thorough and highly recommended.)

In Babylon—remember, that’s the context of the story—the cardinal directions are represented by animals. The lion is the south (Babylon), the bear north (Media), and the leopard east (Persia). That leaves the west for the dragon (Greece).

Mapping this onto Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, Babylon is gold, silver Media comes next, bronze Persia is next, and the iron Greek Empire under Alexander the Great is last. The feet of iron and clay represent the four weaker successor states to Alexander’s empire. The most important of these to Daniel’s story are the Seleucid Empire in Syria and the Ptolemaic Empire in Egypt.

The ten horns appear to be ten kings of the Seleucid Empire, starting with Alexander (356–323 BCE) and ending with Antiochus IV Epiphanies (215–164 BCE). Antiochus is the boastful little horn that replaced three other horns, which are three relatives killed to allow Antiochus to take the Seleucid throne.

And now it gets interesting …

Daniel has a final vision (chapter 11), describing the various wars between the kings of the north and south—that is, the Seleucid (Syrian) and Ptolemaic (Egyptian) kings, respectively. The account becomes more detailed as Antiochus Epiphanes—a “contemptible person” (Dan. 11:21)—takes power in 175 BCE. The ebb and flow of the power struggle is accurately described, including a battle where a Roman fleet prevented his victory over Egypt.

Judah was part of the Seleucid Empire at this time, and a Jewish force took advantage of the king’s absence in Egypt to capture Jerusalem. Antiochus retaliated by killing 40,000 Jews, enslaving an equal number, outlawing Jewish worship, and establishing an altar to Zeus in the Jewish temple on which pigs were sacrificed. This “abomination of desolation” (Dan. 11:31) happened in 167 BCE.

Prophecy looking forward or history looking back?

Could this accurate history have been written from the vantage point of the sixth century BCE? If so, Daniel lost his mojo at this point, because the “prophecy” then falls apart. Daniel says that Antiochus would once more attack Egypt, winning this time, and return to camp in central Palestine. And then, like the stone that destroyed the statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, Michael the Archangel would open a major league can of whoop-ass on the world that would make Noah’s Flood look like rain on a picnic. The good and wicked from all of history would go to their appropriate afterlives, and the world would end.

From the abomination until the end of the world in mid-164 BCE would be three and a half years.

But it didn’t work out that way. Antiochus didn’t fight Egypt again but took part of his army to address troubles in the east, leaving another force in Palestine to stamp out the Maccabean Revolt. Incredibly, this Jewish uprising against the mighty Seleucid empire was eventually successful, and the Hasmonean dynasty ruled a semi-autonomous and then fully independent Judea for about a century. Antiochus died of a sudden illness in 164.


Daniel “predicted” Alexander the Great, the four successor states, and the pitiless response by Antiochus in 167 BCE, but then he imagined a nonexistent victory over Egypt, missed Judah’s successful revolt, and raised a false alarm about the end of the world.

What seems likelier—that the book was written in the sixth century BCE and correctly predicted the major events in that part of the world up to just after 167 BCE but then lost its touch as it predicted the end of the world a few years later? Or that it was falsely attributed to a respected sixth-century BCE patriarch and was instead written shortly after 167 to give encouragement to a beleaguered Jewish population?

Next: Daniel’s “70 weeks” end times prediction.

Other posts on prophecy:

The scientific theory is the modern equivalence of the prophecy.
— comment by MNb

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  • RichardSRussell

    Every cake is a miraculous fulfillment of a prophecy called a recipe.

    • arkenaten

      Ha ha..Brilliant!

      ”Patter cake Patter cake, baker man….”

    • Greg G.

      A miraculously fulfilled prophecy would go good with my coffee about right now.

      • Kodie

        Such as a jelly fulfilled donut?

        • Greg G.


          You are such a teaser.

  • Jason

    About 4 years ago I had a vision that Bob would address this topic on March 19th, 2014. Looks like I was right.

    • Greg G.

      I predicted Bob would post an article called “What Good Is Philosophy? (2 of 2)” shortly after Part 1 but subsequent prophecies have gone awry.

      • wtfwjtd

        Yep, no trilogies again, dang it. (Sigh) The faithful still wait patiently…

    • Praise the Lord!

  • Retroactive prophecy strikes again. I believe that you pointed to a passage in the Bible sensibly saying that if a prophecy fails, that prophet is not of God. Does that mean Daniel is a pretender? Oh dear.

    • You’re right–the Good Book has something to say on every occasion.

      Therefore this is what the LORD says about the prophets who are prophesying in my name: I did not send them, yet they are saying, ‘No sword or famine will touch this land.’ Those same prophets will perish by sword and famine. And the people they are prophesying to will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and sword. There will be no one to bury them, their wives, their sons and their daughters. I will pour out on them the calamity they deserve.(Jer. 14:15-16)


      • wtfwjtd

        …And let’s not forget Jesus said that “by their fruits ye shall know them”. Hallelujah!

      • Yep, I remembered you quoting that in another post on prophecy. It seems Daniel (or whoever wrote it anyway) was in for it.

  • Greg G.

    Who are you to question Book of Daniel? The Apostle Paul read it and accepted it. Are you better than he was?

    His whole Rapture prophecy is revealed in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, and Philippians 3:20-21 and nearly every idea in of those verses can be found in Isaiah 26:19-21; Daniel 7:11, 13; Daniel 12:2; and Isaiah 25:8.


    Paul’s recycled Daniel prophecy is about to happen any sec…

    • Pofarmer

      Randal helms also attributes the stone being rolled away as an analog of daniel and the lions den.

  • MNb

    “What seems likelier ….”
    Let’s consult Dutch catholics:,57616

    “De situering in de zesde eeuw v.Chr. hoeft niet te betekenen dat Daniël ook in die tijd geschreven is. Op grond van historisch onderzoek en de taal en de stijl van het boek nemen velen tegenwoordig aan dat het boek in zijn huidige vorm uit de eerste helft van de tweede eeuw v.Chr. stamt. Het boek is dan te plaatsen tegen de achtergrond van het Makkabese verzet”

    Liberal translation (hey, I’m not a pro):
    “That the story takes place in the 6th Century BCE doesn’t need to imply that Daniel is written in that time. Historical, linguistic and stylistic research of the book makes many scholars assume nowadays that the book in its present form stems from the first half of the 2nd Century BCE. Then the book is placed against the background of the Maccabean Revolt.”

    The Willibrordbijbel is the official catholic translation in Dutch.

  • busterggi

    Technically the author of Daniel was lying for Yahweh – there was no idea of a Jesus in the 3rd century BCE.

    • True. I have a few follow-up posts in which I look into Christian ideas built on Daniel. the Christian idea of the Tribulation, Rapture, Millenialism, and all that come from this. That’s more what I had in mind.

    • Greg G.

      I think there were Messiah ideas before Daniel. Here’s a collection of verses that go from promises that David’s seed would always be on the throne to conditions on the promise to the broken promise to the promise to restore David’s seed to the throne:

      Promises That David’s Seed Would Remain on Throne Forever

      Psalm 89:3-4
      3 You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
      I have sworn to my servant David:
      4 ‘I will establish your descendants
      forever,and build your throne for all generations.’” Selah

      Psalm 89:34-37
      34 I will not violate my covenant,
      or alter the word that
      went forth from my lips.

      35 Once and for all I have sworn by my holiness;
      I will not lie to David.
      36 His line shall continue orever,
      and his throne endure before me like the sun.
      37 It shall be
      established forever like the moon,
      an enduring witness in the skies.”

      Psalm 110:1
      1 The Lord says to my lord,
      “Sit at my right hand
      until I make your enemies your footstool.”

      Psalm 132:11
      11 The Lord swore to David a sure oath
      from which he will not turn back:
      “One of the sons of your body
      I will set on your throne.

      2 Samuel 7:1-17
      1 Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 2 the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” 3 Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”

      4 But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: 5 Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a
      house to live in? 6 I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. 7 Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” 8 Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; 9 and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings. 15 But I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever. 17 In accordance with all these words and with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.

      1 Chronicles 28:6
      6 He said to me, ‘It is your son Solomon who shall build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be a son to me, and I will be a father to him.

      The Promises to David Become Conditional
      1 Kings 6:11-12
      11 Now the word of the Lord came to Solomon, 12 “Concerning this house that you are building, if you will walk in my statutes, obey my ordinances, and keep all my commandments by walking in them, then I will establish my promise with you, which I made to your father David.

      1 Kings 8:25
      25 Therefore, O Lord, God of Israel, keep for your servant my father David that which you promised him, saying, ‘There shall never fail you a successor before me to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your children look to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.’

      1 Kings 9:2-7
      2 the Lord appeared to Solomon a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon. 3 The Lord said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your plea, which you made before me; I have consecrated this
      house that you have built, and put my name there forever; my eyes and my heart will be there for all time. 4 As for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my ordinances, 5 then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised your father David, saying, ‘There shall not fail you a successor on the throne of Israel.’

      6 “If you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, 7 then I will cut Israel off from the land that I have given them; and the house that I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight; and Israel will become a proverb and a taunt among all peoples.

      2 Chronicles 6:16
      16 Therefore, O Lord, God of Israel, keep for your servant, my father David, that which you promised him, saying, ‘There shall never fail you a successor before me to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your children keep to their way, to walk in my law as you have walked before me.’

      The Kingdom is Split into Judah and Israel
      1 Kings 12:17-20
      17 But Rehoboam reigned over the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah. 18 When King Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was taskmaster over the forced labor, all Israel stoned him to death. King Rehoboam then hurriedly mounted his chariot to flee to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.

      20 When all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. There was no one who followed the house of David, except the tribe of Judah alone.

      Assyria Captures Israel, the Northern Kingdom
      2 Kings 15:19
      19 King Pul of Assyria came against the land; Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, so that he might help him confirm his hold on the royal power.

      God’s Excuse for Allowing the Assyrian Invasion
      2 Chronicles 33:1-11
      1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign; he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. 2 He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. 3 For he rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had pulled down, and erected altars to the Baals, made sacred poles,[a] worshiped all the host of heaven, and served them. 4 He built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem shall my name be forever.” 5 He built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. 6 He made his son pass through fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom, practiced soothsaying and augury and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with wizards. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. 7 The carved image of the idol that he had made he set in the house of God, of which God said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my name forever; 8 I will never again remove the feet of Israel from the land that I appointed for your ancestors, if only they will be careful to do all that I have commanded them, all the law, the statutes, and the ordinances given through Moses.” 9 Manasseh misled Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that they did more evil than the nations whom the Lord had destroyed before the people of Israel.

      10 The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they gave no heed. 11 Therefore the Lord brought against them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh captive in manacles, bound him with fetters, and brought him to Babylon.

      The Promises are Broken
      2 Kings 24:10-12
      10 At that time the servants of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came up to Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. 11 King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to the city, while his servants were besieging it; 12 King Jehoiachin of Judah gave himself up to the king of Babylon, himself, his mother, his servants, his officers, and his palace officials. The king of Babylon took him prisoner in the eighth year of his reign.

      God’s Excuse for Allowing the Babylonians to Conquer
      2 Chronicles 36:15-17
      15 The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place; 16 but they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words, and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord against his people became so great that there was no remedy.

      17 Therefore he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their youths with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or young woman, the aged or the feeble; he gave them all into his hand.

      Promises to Restore David’s Seed to the Throne
      Isaiah 9:6-7
      6 For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
      7 His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom.He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

      Micah 5:2-5a
      2 But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, rom ancient days.3 Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel. 4 And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth; 5a and he shall be the one of peace.

      Ezekiel 21:26-27
      26 thus says the Lord God:
      Remove the turban, take off the crown; things shall not remain as they are.Exalt that which is low, abase that which is high.
      27 A ruin, a ruin, a ruin— I will make it! (Such has never occurred.) Until he comes whose right it is; to him I will give it.

      Jeremiah 33:14-17
      14 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”

      17 For thus says the Lord: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel,

      Daniel 7:13-14
      13 As I watched in the night visions,
      I saw one like a human being
      coming with the clouds of heaven.
      And he came to the Ancient One
      and was presented before him.
      14 To him was given dominion
      and glory and kingship,
      that all peoples, nations, and languages
      should serve him.
      His dominion is an
      everlasting dominion
      that shall not pass away,
      and his kingship is
      one that shall never be destroyed.

      • SparklingMoon

        The same kind of promise already had been made by God to the forefathers of David. In Genesis 17:16 Abraham’s wife Sarah was promised a son: And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her; And I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him (Genesis 17: 16,19) but after the advent of Jesus this covenant had been finished by God. Why?

        Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, Ishmael be(Genesis 17:19): ing the elder and Isaac the younger. God promised Abraham that He would multiply and bless his progeny. The promise applies to both Isaac and Ishmael and were fulfilled. The progeny of Isaac multiplied exceedingly. From among them arose the Prophets, Moses, David, Ezekiel, Daniel and Jesus. For two thousand years they ruled over Canaan. Their hold on it was never really abolished, though for a short time it became weak.

        After the seventh century after CE. the sons of Isaac, and those who observed the letter of the Law of Moses had to withdraw from Canaan. The sons of Ishmael, instead, became its political as well as its spiritual leaders. The fact that the sons of Israel had to surrender the land of Canaan shows that they had become unworthy of the promise which God had made to them through Abraham. This promise was that Israel would remain in possession of this land until the Last Day, and the promise was true.

        The ‘Last Day’ or ‘Forever’ in the divine promise cannot mean the day which is to mark the end of the world, but the day on which the Law of Moses was to be superseded by the promulgation of a new Law for the guidance of the world. In the language of divine revelation the advent of a new Law is often described as the birth of a new heaven and a new earth. Just as a new heaven and a new earth cannot be created without a large-scale upheaval usually associated with the Last Day — so the establishment of a new Law must entail a large-scale upheaval of the people who receive that Law. Therefore, when the prophecy said that the sons of Israel would retain their hold over Canaan until the Last Day, it meant that their hold would continue until the advent of a new Law-giving Prophet.

        In the utterances of David we have a hint to understand the meanings of those prophecies that were made for him. Thus in Psalms (37:29) we read: The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever. The promise of eternal possession is not for Israel as such but for the righteous. This utterance of David, in fact, was a clear warning that the days of Israel’s dominance were numbered. The Prophet seemed to point out that the divine promise, after a time, was to be understood not in a racial but in a spiritual sense; that the sons of Ishmael were going to inherit the promises made to Abraham by inheriting the truth and a new covenant was going to be initiated through them. (Mohammad in the Bible)

        • Greg G.

          We have two parent, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents… Each generation is a power of two for each generation for the number of ancestors we have in that generation.

          So, if we take 30 years for a generation and go back 10 generations, we would have about a thousand ancestors in that generation. Go back another ten generations, each of the thousand ancestors in the tenth generation back would have a thousand ancestors themselves so we would have a million ancestors at some time in the 1400s. When we go back to the 1100s, we have a billion ancestors but that’s about twice the populaton of the earth back then so many of our 28th great-grandparents are related to us in multiple ways.

          About 80 generations back, Alexander the Great opened trade routes to India and they were already trading with east Asia. Only the naive would think that women were not being traded in both directions and traveling salesmen were not impressing the local ladies, bringing all their ancestors into our gene pools and ancestry lines. Their descendants would have been spread across Europe and the Mediterranean area by the dispersions of the Roman era.

          One thousand BC would be 100 generations back. Each of our 98th great-grandparents would be our ancestor two sextillion five hundred thirty-five quintillion three hundred one quadrillion two hundred trillion four hundred fifty-six billion four hundred fifty-eight million eight hundred two thousand nine hundred ninety-three ways on average (2,535,301,200,456,458,802,993). We’re still a thousand years from Abraham.

          So if Abraham had any descendants surviving to this day, it is only a question of how many times he is an ancestor to us all. It makes no sense to differentiate Isaac’s descendants and Ishmael’s descendants. They are all the same people. It’s a question of how many billions of ways we could make the connection.

          Prophecies about familial descent is meaningless.

        • SparklingMoon

          The common prevailed conception is son to father and father to grandfather and grand father to great grandfather and family name transfers from one to next generation .

          secondly, In my previous post I have only explained that all prophecies that related to the kingdom of David are actually related to his kingdom of spirituality (as near to God he was more a righteous prophet than a worldly king). All prophecies about his kingdom had been fulfilled according to God’s promise. The mother of jesus was given this good news before the birth of Jesus that this child would be the hire of the throne of David and Jesus was appointed as a prophet by God later.

          After Jesus, there was sent no prophet among the people of Israel but in spite of it David as a prophet and king is highly praised in the revelation of the Quran by God for his unique nobility, wisdom and as a ruler of justice. What blames about his person had been entered later in the Old Testament has been removed and his high moral character is confirmed in the revelation of the Quran . The Quran is an eternal and safe book for human guidance therefore his wisdom and high morality are always a motivation for all next coming people to follow him.

        • Greg G.

          If it only goes through the paternal line, the lines of direct descent get fewer and fewer as you go back. Lines of male descent end when a generation of all female granddaughters happen. There would be very few men in Abraham’s time that have a line of male descendants.

          If you go back far enough (more than 100,000 years), there will be only one male with a direct line who is the most recent common male ancestor to everybody. His Y-chromosome is copied, but mutated, in every male alive today. If you think God made a deal with Abraham, what did that guy do? Why don’t they have prophecies about him?

          What percentage of men alive today do you suppose would be in direct male line from Abraham? According to DNA testing, Genghis Khan is the direct male ancestor to about 1 of every 200 men in the world.(about 16 million).

          So there is an unknown person with a larger direct line of male descendants (all males) and a more recent male with a more significant direct line of male descendants.

          Do you have any specific prophecies that were actually written before the event? It’s much easier to write the prophecy in retrospect. It’s even easier to write the prophecy and the event prophesied as fiction.

        • SparklingMoon

          According to your thinking the lines of direct descent get fewer and fewer as you go back but according to my thinking the numbers should increase always in next coming generations. According to the Bible, Abraham’s son Ishmael had twelve sons who each became tribal chiefs throughout the regions from Havilah to Shur (from Assyria to the border of Egypt). There is no record of Isaac but his son Jacob according to the Bible had twelve son who turned into big twelve tribes( called by the name of children of Israel in religious books). I mean if Ishmael had twelve son and each of them also twelve in their next generation then their numbers in two generations had been multiplied from 1 to 12 and 12 to 144 that made it possible for each son to turn into a tribal chief. ( It is just my common thinking otherwise have no much information about the topic)

          Secondly, what I wrote about the promise of God to Abraham was related to his prophethood.He was a prophet of God and the real heritage of a prophet is his teachings about morality and spirituality and the people who follow his teachings are considered his spiritual children near to God.The followers of three principle religions of the world, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, hold Abraham (as) in great reverence.

          Abraham,right from childhood had abhorred idols and was commissioned by God to uproot the worship of idols from the society and to maintain the oneness of God. ”The world of the ancient Near East – particularly in the regions of Egypt and the lands east of the Mediterranean Sea (Assyria and Media) was predominantly a polytheistic world around the time of the 7th Century B.C. (Historical Atlas of the World, p. 3).The people in those lands worshipped many different kinds of deities. Some were linked to the welfare of towns and cities in local areas, such as Marduk in Babylonia or Ra of Heliopolis in Egypt. Other gods were responsible for the livelihood and welfare of man during times of war and chaotic upheaval – such as Baal for the Canaanites, and Ishtar for the Sumerians and Assyrians. (The Heritage of World Civilizations, p 54) Amongst this diverse conglomerate of varying polytheistic cultures and beliefs, emerged a single great tradition that was to later fuse the foundations of three great religions of the world: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These three religions can all be linked to one common religious tradition that goes as far back as the time of the patriarchal prophet Abraham. This underlying religious tradition forms the solid foundation on which all three religions have built upon over the course of history,

          There is no doubt that Abraham was also given a promise by God for his own progeny the holder of his spirituality and for the reason we see that after him there had been chosen many prophets from his generation because of their righteousness. Ishmael, Issac, jacob (who was given the name of Israel) Joseph, Moses,David,Isaiah,Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel,Elijah, John the Baptist … etc and the last one was, from the the progeny of his grand son Jacob (Israel) prophet Jesus to reform the people of Israel. The next Prophet to Jesus was sent Prophet of Islam; from the progeny of Abraham’s other son Ishmael. His universal message had called all nations of the world to the same God Almighty for Abraham had started to call.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, if each father had 12 sons, there would be several line leading to Abraham. Do you notice that the OT likes to have 12 sons? What are the chances? It’s never 13 sons. In Esther, Haman had ten sons but they were all hanged. It’s mythology.

          Of course if a line of descent did have a dozen sons every generation, you would be right. But it isn’t likely. Each time a son has no sons, that line of male descent is lost. It’s possible for have to have several for a long time, too, while other lines of male descent end.

          When stories start with “Once upon a time” or “In the beginning”, you aren’t supposed to take them seriously.

  • Jason Wexler

    So I am all for skepticism but wisdom and skepticism aren’t coterminous. While I don’t personally think that dream analysis is useful or real, if it were it doesn’t follow that accurate analysis can only come from someone who can correctly describe the dream without prior information. My ability to solve differential equations correctly isn’t diminished by the fact that I had to learn the process from a math class instead of rediscovering it whole-cloth on my own.

    • Tip: if some guy says that he can interpret dreams with supernatural wisdom but then first asks you to tell him the dream, that’s a warning sign that he can’t do what he claims to do. Doesn’t prove it, of course, but I assume we need some evidence that this guy really can deliver on the incredible claims he makes.

      • Greg G.

        I am being contacted by a relative of someone in this forum. The name begins with an “M” or a “J”. Does that ring a bell for anyone. The message is coming from Gyna College and you are supposed to know that “Pabst Beer is normal.”

  • Nemo

    As I understand, Daniel’s failed prophecies were reinterpreted by some Christians to be talking about the events following the Rapture, which will be happening any day now, just like for the past 2000 years.

    • Greg G.

      1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, Philippians 3:20-21, and 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 talk about the coming of the Lord. Nearly every idea in those verses can be found in Isaiah 26:19-21, Daniel 7:11, Daniel 7:13, Daniel 12:2, and Isaiah 25:8, except for the “twinkling of an eye”. LINK

    • Y. A. Warren

      Maybe we could stop focusing on the rapture is we believe Pentecost was it. People are already separated into those who are righteous and those who choose not to be.

  • Pofarmer

    Have you tackled revelations, by chanceL

    • No. So far, that’s just a bizarre acid trip to me. I’ll look for opportunities.

      • Pofarmer

        The only reason that I ask, is because the deconstruction of the animals as kingdoms strikes me as very similar to some of the stuff in revelations, and if we accept that the authors of the NT were cribbing from the old, then??????

  • I remember being taught that the iron mixed with clay was the Roman Empire, which I suppose fits the Christian narrative better since it was in those days that Jesus came.

    The book of Daniel is another one of those that makes so much more sense once you understand when it was written! It isn’t _by_ Daniel, it’s _about_ Daniel. It wasn’t _written_ during Babylonian captivity, it _takes place_ during Babylonian captivity.

    • That’s right. The Christian approach is usually to change the 4 kingdoms from Babylon, Media, Persia, Greece to Babylon, Media-Persia (they did combine, in fact), Greece, Rome.

      And then you can imagine that the EU is Rome, or something, to imagine that the prophecy points to our future.

      Given that the Antiochus Epiphanes explanation works so well, handwaving “Well, it coulda been Rome” isn’t convincing.

  • Y. A. Warren

    If we reconsider “prophets” as keen observers of human history and students of statistics, they were able to predict many future events based on past events.

    The tragedy of religions, in my opinion, is that they continue to look at the past as “how-to” manuals, rather than as both cautionary and educational tales. “He who doesn’t understand history is destined to repeat it.” Is it any wonder our religions continue to conquer with war?

    • Depending on your reasoning for the quotes around “prophets,” I may agree. A shrewd person can indeed anticipate the future. But the Christian claim is, of course, much more than this. They claim that this is explainable only through the supernatural.

      • Y. A. Warren

        i put quotes around the word “prophet” because it is another word co-opted by religion to gain and maintain control of the masses. This is my preferred definition: 2. A person gifted with profound moral insight and exceptional powers of expression.

        My biggest issue with religions is that they continue to claim powers that frighten the masses into submission to the chosen few of leaders and “prophets” of the religion.

        • hector

          This objection to the word ‘prophet’ is unfounded. The word has always had a religious or super-natural connotation, referring to someone who had a gift for interpreting the will of the gods.

          It is your preferred definition that is the attempt to co-opt the word for non-secular purposes, a usage which isn’t attested before the mid 1800s. You do atheism a disservice when you make up false histories of the origins of words.

        • Y. A. Warren

          I love the English/American language because it is a living language which evolves with time.

        • hector

          First you complained that the word ‘prophet’ had been co-opted by the religious (incorrectly implying that ‘prophet’ originally had a non-secular in meaning). Now you love that the language evolves. So when you don’t like how a word has changed it’s been co-opted, when you like it, it has evolved.

        • Y. A. Warren

          Middle English: from Old French prophete, via Latin from Greek prophētēs ‘spokesman,’ from pro ‘before’ + phētēs ‘speaker’ (from phēnai ‘speak’).

        • hector

          In ancient Greek, centuries before christianity even existed, “prophetes” meant someone who spoke on behalf of the gods or with the inspiration or guidance of the gods.

          In light of the septuagint and the new testament it makes no sense to argue that the word came into English during the middle ages to mean nothing more than ‘spokesman’ and then evolved to mean a speaker on behalf of god. For one thing, there was no need to adopt the word into English to mean ‘spokesman’ in
          the broad sense since the word ‘spokesman’ already existed as a good old
          anglo-saxon word. But more specifically, it entered English via Norman French precisely because it was the word used in the septuagint and the NT to mean a divine prophet. It never means anything else in those works.

          So, again, when do you think this co-opting by the religious took place?

        • Y. A. Warren

          Since ancient times, there have been those who believed that they could define and communicate with the gods. They have controlled people with fear of their gods and prophets they have defined. The is the basis for organized religion is the illusion that there are some special few who can act as intermediaries between people and the gods.

          There are prophets in everyday life who simply are not called such by religions. Meteorologists and petroleum engineers are two types of modern-day prophets.

        • hector

          This completely and utterly fails to answer my objections to your assertion that ‘prophet’ was originally a secular term that was ‘co-opted’ by theists. Your style of argumentation is, frankly, as dishonest as any christian I have seen around here.

        • Y. A. Warren

          It is about the the ways words are used, not only about their origins in a living language. There is no reason that the word prophet should be saved only to define those that are deemed as accepted by religious authority as speaking to or for gods.

        • hector

          That wasn’t your original argument, now was it? This is called ‘moving the goal posts’.

          I see no point in calling modern day meteorologists and petroleum engineers ‘prophets’. That adds nothing to meteorology or petroleum engineering or to our understanding of what they do, and looks like nothing more than a cynical and manipulative attempt to use those fields to steal a word from theists that has been a theistic word for as long as it has existed – at least 2500 years – just because you don’t like theism.

          I think your desire to give the word ‘prophet’ a secular meaning is as
          pointless, misguided and dishonest as trying to give ‘god’ a secular
          meaning or insisting that the word ‘church’ should mean any building
          where people gather. Insisting that atheists get to change the meanings of words in the political fight against theism because language is ‘living’ is simply Orwellian.

          You are free, of course, to use ‘prophet’ as you wish, but don’t expect to be understand by anyone else. You strike me as extremely dishonest in both your goals and your arguments. This reflects poorly on atheism and you should seriously reconsider your agenda.

        • Y. A. Warren

          These are your words to me: “First you complained that the word ‘prophet’ had been co-opted by the religious (incorrectly implying that ‘prophet’ originally had a non-secular in meaning).” “Implying” being the operative word.

          I have not claimed to be a member of any certain group. I am a-theist, in that I don’t believe in gods, but I do believe in powerful forces of energy that manifest in many ways, both seen and unseen.

        • hector

          So you didn’t write:

          i put quotes around the word “prophet” because it is another word
          co-opted by religion to gain and maintain control of the masses.

          It must have been one of those powerful forces of energy manifesting itself, in a seen way.

        • Y. A. Warren

          You wrote: “…incorrectly implying…” You assume I am implying something I didn’t say.

          “It must have been one of those powerful forces of energy manifesting itself, in a seen way.” Everything either of us writes is subject to this interpretation. You obviously do understand much of what i write.

        • hector

          Look, I get it. You have been thoroughly vanquished on your original position that ‘prophet’ was originally a secular word that was ‘co-opted’ by the religious, and now you want to save face and pretend you never made that argument in the first place. So I’ll be gracious and let you up off the mat. Cheers.

        • Kodie

          So you’ve been shown and you’re doubling down? You posted the definition from OED yourself – “spokesman”. It’s not a foreseer like you are using it. Nobody uses it the way you’re trying to apply it. You are in denial.

          EDIT: Oh, I forget that you’re the one who likes to use words in ways nobody else can understand, with the explicit intention of being understood more clearly. Why do you try to say the language is changing, when it’s really just you having a poor grasp of the language and choosing words not by what they mean to everyone else, but how they feel “neutral” to you. Sacred isn’t neutral or understood popularly to mean what you wish, and neither is prophet.

        • Kodie

          For example, words like god or bible have evolved to mean, respectively, a person who commands respect from others, and a comprehensive manual on any given subject. Bible (root) is “book” and god is also a generic term, but they have hence been regarded as “THE god” and “THE book”. In polytheism, gods need names, but in monotheism, it’s like “god, who else?” and “not the bible of pastry baking, but the one breathed by god.” Nobody ever really has to specify.

        • I hadn’t thought of that. you could go to the OED and look for the earliest citations to that definition.

        • Kodie

          “[C13: from Old French prophète, from Latin prophēta, from Greek prophētēs one who declares the divine will, from pro- ² + phanai to speak]”

          I thought I was able to log in at OED remotely from my library card number but it seems access has been limited, but the closest I got was similar to above:

          “Middle English: from Old French prophete, via Latin from Greek prophētēs ‘spokesman’, from pro ‘before’ + phētēs ‘speaker’ (from phēnai ‘speak’).”

          “Spokesman”, as in, coined from parts to describe “a person who speaks for god.”

        • BobBobson

          “You do Atheism a disservice” I thought you atheists were about “truth” and “knowledge” and not about being loyal to your worldview.

        • Kodie

          It is the same with cold-reading psychics. Here is what I think – that cold-reading is a kind of skill that some people are better at than others, and most of us do a little of it all the time when interacting with people, generally getting an impression of someone based on their appearance or behavior and making a snap judgment, which is not always but often confirmed the more we get to know about that person. We’re also all in the business of affecting people’s impressions of us by caring what they think and adopting their predictable judgments by conforming to a publicly presentable version of ourselves. Maybe you don’t want to take a bath, or whatever (kind of extreme) but you do it because of what people will judge you for being unbathed and mostly on how we tend to judge other people who are unbathed. You don’t want people like you (because you’re always in the right) to judge you poorly, and you can infer a lot about people who care about the same level of hygiene that you do.

          Moving on. People in many legitimate professions make predictions all the time, and they are not regarded as prophets when their predictions come true. It’s their job to research and look at the data and get a sense of where we’re headed, whether that is an economic depression or a blizzard or what color will be popular for kitchens next year. Prophecy and psychic ability are complete misunderstandings about how brains work and social interaction works.

          It is my observation that there are prophets and psychics who are thieves – they know how to do something intriguing and exploit people. On tv, there’s a job called “criminal profiling” that is quite the same but they do not pretend to be doing anything magical. At least as far as tv show jobs goes, and maybe this is a glamorized version of a real role in investigation, heading the criminal off at the pass is not based on magical dreams, but on research and data predicting the criminal to fit a profile so they can narrow down the search. It is portrayed as a skill someone can learn how to do and be especially good at, as any job in running a restaurant or playing pro basketball, good at something takes a background of education, experience, and practice, and usually teamwork.

          When people don’t know how someone could know something they would never guess about people, it’s “spooky”. Even the psychic may be a victim of their own skill and not know how they do get their impressions. Just like the cooking or basketball skill examples, some people are more natural and comfortable at something than other people who burn everything or are clumsy and have bad aim. To be kind of honest, some people think being natural at sports or whatever is also kind of a magical god-given talent, but I digress. If you have more emotional intelligence, it just means you can pay attention to people and some people are wildly oblivious. You forge that skill and maybe someone in your family encourages you to see it as a special gift. It is a parlor trick, and the more you can amaze someone with a simple observation they overlooked about themselves or didn’t know they were expressing, the more you want to get attention for it, sort of like a class clown likes attention from making jokes (which is also a people skill and something that comes easier for some than others). You know some people you know are just funnier and on the ball than almost everyone else, but you don’t think they are being fed lines from beyond. Some musicians will claim that the music or lyrics “come through” them as if they are just a conduit. Whatever.

          It’s only the people who think they are prophets or psychics, they really believe what they are doing is gaining rare insight from beyond, and their victims and believers, who believe there is something fundamentally different than having that skill or practicing at it than any other skill a person can have or learn or get better at. We’re talking about those people. The word has not been co-opted by religion, it was, as far as anyone knows, never used to describe a heightened interpersonal skill, and always to describe a supernatural skill that is really not supernatural at all. It is like the word “god” – it has not been co-opted by religion but used as a word to describe a being with supernatural powers and abilities to interfere in positive and negative ways for humans, to save their lives, to teach them lessons, to let them know in their gut or by seeking signs that they have finally met “the right one” for them, etc.

          People who really believe the future is foretold, and in such a thing as destiny they are being led to, and all things that happen are about them, are the ones who escalate spooky interpersonal skills they do not share into the realm of prophecy. Prophecy is a supernatural term.

        • I guess that observational ability is the skill that Sherlock Holmes has.

        • Kodie

          He is generally known to be learned on a number of obscure subjects that provide for him to break a case wide open, and according to wikipedia, exclusively on those subjects. His super-power is having an encyclopedic memory for the facts that he’s learned.

          I guess also the deduction thing. I think he is not merely observant, but intent on observing things other people would overlook for significance. He knows how he does things and explains how he arrived at his conclusion. Psychic people just vaguely “sense”. In the example in the wikipedia article, he shows his work, he deduces Watson had stepped in mud and had a clumsy servant girl. He didn’t sense it, he stated it as fact, and answered directly rather than shrug when asked how he knew. A psychic might notice the same clues, like lighter skin where someone was wearing a ring, and say they “sense” the person’s marriage just broke up. If asked how they could know such a thing, it’s because they have “a gift.” Like I said, most people have some kind of the same “gift,” like when they notice someone they see every day looks different, such as noticing if they are sad or got a haircut or lost weight. When you state confidently, “I like what you’ve done to your hair, ” you are sensing with your eyes that someone has changed their hairstyle. You don’t need to have a spooky gift and it would be strange to apply magic to the situation.

          If we could think of things we do not notice as things that are still there but do not jump out at us, as if they were as obvious to someone else as a new hairstyle is generally, we might all be cured of believing in psychic abilities.

      • Kodie

        I demonstrate my prophecy all the time. People have been amazed how I know things like where they left their coffee cup, how I know who is about to walk through the door, and who sang that song on the radio. In turn, I am amazed how unobservant other people are and how unknowledgeable people, middle-aged rich white men who love the blues as a case in point can’t pick out “Pride and Joy” by Stevie Ray Vaughan. I’m a fucking magician in my world because I can make an educated guess based on who is due and a car door slam, or remember that you were talking to someone over there five minutes ago and retrace your steps for you. Now how can I exploit this? I am not kidding – people really think being a little more observant than they are makes me a genius or a seer. Additionally, my mom thinks I’m a computer genius. I know how much I don’t know, but let’s just say I have been assessing the humans for a while, and it’s really easy to be just a little smarter than a lot of them.

  • SparklingMoon

    In Daniel’s interpretation, the gold head is the king of Babylon; the silver breast and arms the kingdoms of Persia and Midia which arose after the kingdom of Babylon; the brass thighs stand for the Greek Empire under Alexander, which became dominant after Persia and Midia; and the iron legs stand for the Roman Empire which attained to power on the decline of the Alexandrian Empire. About this last, the dream says:
    ”His feet (i.e., the image’s) part of iron and part of clay” (2:33).

    The description points to the fact that the Roman Empire would cover parts of Europe as well as Asia. Iron legs denote the European part of the Roman Empire and point to the strength of a single nationality and a single faith. But the feet, says the dream, were partly of iron, partly of clay. This meant that the European power was to subjugate parts of Asia and thus become an imperial power. Imperial powers command large territories and vast resources, but they also suffer from the inherent weakness which comes from lack of cohesion among their peoples. The dream evidently means that in latter years the Roman Empire would begin to decline because of this lack of cohesion.(Mohammad in the Bible)

    • SparklingMoon

      The dream, however, proceeds to say more important things:
      ”Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver,and the gold, broken to pieces together,and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors;and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them.” (Daniel 2:34-35).

      Here we have a prediction of the rise of Islam. Muslims, in early days of Islam had a clash first with Rome and then with Iran. When they clashed with Rome, Rome had conquered the Alexandrian Empire of Greece and had become more powerful than ever; and when they clashed with Iran, Iran had extended its power over Babylon. When their clashes resulted in the destruction of both Rome and Iran, then did the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, break to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors. The order of events in the dream and their interpretation by Daniel leave no doubt as to their meaning. Babylon was succeeded by Persia and Midia and the power of Persia and Midia was broken by Alexander and the Empire of Alexander was replaced by that of Rome which from its Eastern seat of authority at Constantinople laid the foundation of a mighty Europo-Asiatic Empire. This Asiatic Roman Empire was defeated by the followers of Islam.

      The prophecy goes on to say: The stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth (Daniel 2:35). This is exactly what happened. The followers of Islam defeated the Kaiser and the Chosroes, and Muslims became rulers over the whole of the then known world. The stone did become a great mountain; for a thousand years the direction of world affairs remained in the hands of Muslims. (Mohammad in the Bible)

      • The order of events in the dream and their interpretation by Daniel leave no
        doubt as to their meaning.

        Agree. Which is why I wonder why you introduced this weak explanation.

    • That is one interpretation. It doesn’t explain things as well as the one that I outlined above, however. One new problem that it raises is: you have well-defined empires, except for that last one. And then one needs to handwave why any of the many empires within Europe afterwards don’t defeat the theory.

    • Nemo

      If you can find multiple empires to point the prophecy to (some say the iron and clay is a reference to Greece, some say to Rome), then that shoots the whole “Daniel made a specific prediction” claim out of the sky.

  • Jerry

    Daniel has his own vision, a dream of four beasts (chapter 7). We see the beasts in succession, and, like the succession of metals, they represent the future kingdoms. The first is a lion with eagle wings (though we might call it a griffin, that also describes a cherub), then a bear, then a leopard. The final beast has iron teeth and is the most terrifying and destructive. It initially had ten horns, which represent ten kings, but then three were replaced by a new little horn that spoke boastfully. Again, all is swept away in the end.

    I don’t agree with the interpretation in this article. You assign the lion to Babylon, the bear to Media, the leopard to Persia, and the beast to Greece. In Daniel 7 the bear is described as:

    5 Another beast appeared, a second one, that looked like a bear. It was raised up on one side, had three tusks[c] in its mouth among its teeth and was told, “Arise, devour many bodies!”

    This is similar to the 2-horned ram from Daniel 8:

    3 I looked up and saw a ram standing beside the river.[c] It had two horns. Both horns were long, but one was longer than the other, and the longer one came up second. 4 I saw the ram charging westward and northward and southward. All beasts were powerless to withstand it, and no one could rescue from its power; it did as it pleased and became strong.

    You can see the similarities. The ram in Daniel 8 is then explained by Gabriel again in Daniel 8:

    20 As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia.

    We thus have the convention of Media / Persia as one animal defined for us by Gabriel. Interpreting Media as the bear and Persia as the leapord seems like an error.

    On top of this, the following beasts also show similarities:

    Daniel 7: 4 Headed/4 Winged Leopard
    Daniel 8: Unihorn (Alexander the Great) / 4-horned Goat 4 Winds (Greece)

    Here’s a nice table:

    When you merge Media / Persia, you get a better fit for the kingdoms described.

    This however invalidates this statement:

    The ten horns appear to be ten kings of the Seleucid Empire, starting with Alexander (356–323 BCE) and ending with Antiochus IV Epiphanies (215–164 BCE). Antiochus is the boastful little horn that replaced three other horns, which are three relatives killed to allow Antiochus to take the Seleucid throne.

    The leopard is Greece, not the beast.

    • adam

      “The leopard is Greece, not the beast.”

      Monday morning quarterbacking….with Nostradamus..AFTER the facts are in.

    • Greg G.

      When you merge Media / Persia, you get a better fit for the kingdoms described.

      One man’s meat is another man’s poison. One man’s Mede is another man’s Persian.

      Another one: One man’s fish is another man’s poisson.

      • MNb

        Oops, isn’t it too optimistic to expect sufficient linguistic skills from Jerry that he will understand your last line?

    • Greg G.

      By the way, Cyrus the Great was accepted as king of both the Medes and Persians so that may be what chapter 8 is meaning.

      • Jerry

        Daniel 8

        20 As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia.

        • Greg G.

          Good point.

    • MNb

      Excellent example how prophecies are not evidence – the facts are always explained a posteriori. That’s why I’m not interested.

      • TheNuszAbides

        exactly this.
        when there’s a testimonial from an individual who makes some significant contribution to society (we’ll keep that nice and vague as a holdover from Prophecy Itself), that they only lived to make this significant contribution because they managed to escape a catastrophic event because they ‘successfully interpreted’ a pre-recorded prophecy with time to spare for their escape…

        well, it probably still won’t be good enough to defeat Skepticism Itself, but it’ll make a much more compelling story than 100% retro-fitting.

      • TheNuszAbides

        and the people who persist in being so awed by prophecies never seem to explain why it matters beyond “this is an example of why you shouldn’t [be prideful/defy Will-o-the-Bog/etc.]” … though as someone who was once far more power-hungry than i am today, i can see how some of them might channel their awe into a hope that they will receive prophetic visions of their own… because doesn’t it feel great to see what others are Doing Wrong and Know that they will be Justly Punished? or something…