Ver. 1. Also I, in the first year of Darius the Mede, &c.] These words more properly belong to the preceding chapter, and should have concluded that, and the "eleventh" chapter should have begun in the next verse; and they are not the words of Daniel, as Jerom and others; but of the angel telling Daniel, not only what he had been lately doing, and would do in the court of Persia for his people; but what he had done in the beginning of that monarchy, the very first year that Darius the Mede became king of Babylon, and head of the whole monarchy; the Septuagint and Arabic versions render it, "in the first year of Cyrus"; which was the same time; for Darius and Cyrus reigned together.
even I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him; not Michael your Prince, as Jarchi; for he being no other than the Son of God, an uncreated Angel, needed not the help and assistance of a created one, nor could receive any strength and confirmation from such an one; unless this is to be understood, not with respect to Michael himself abstractly considered, but as in relation to the people of the Jews, on whose side Michael was; and so this angel took part with him and them, and as his minister served them both, in defending them, and taking care of their affairs at this time; so Jacchiades paraphrases it, to confirm and strengthen Israel: but it seems rather to design Darius, and the sense to be, that this angel strengthened Darius and Cyrus in their good intentions to let the people of Israel go free and give them full liberty and encouragement to go into their own land, and rebuild their city and temple; about which some doubts and hesitations might arise in their minds, and objections be made by some of their nobles and courtiers to it, being moved and influenced by an evil spirit, the adversary of this good angel; but he attended them so closely, and so strongly suggested to them what they should do in this case, that he carried his point on behalf of the Jews; for this respects not so much the destruction of the Chaldean monarchy, and the establishing the Persian monarchy on the ruins of it, and settling Darius on the throne, and strengthening his kingdom and interest, as the confirmation of him and Cyrus in their designs in favour of the Jews. The Syriac version is, "from the first year of Darius the Mede, he rose up to help me, and assist me"; as if the angel was still speaking of Michael, who came to his help against the prince of Persia, and was the only one that held with him, and had done so from the beginning of the Persian empire; but the Hebrew text will not admit of such a translation.
Ver. 2. And now will I show thee the truth, &c.] And nothing but the truth; what will most certainly come to pass, and may be depended on, even what is written in the book of God's decrees, "the Scripture of truth", and which would appear in Providence in later times; and this he proposed to deliver to him, not in figurative, dark, and obscure expressions, but clearly and plainly, in language easy to be understood:
Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; which were Cyrus, who reigned alone after the death of Darius the Mede, his uncle; Cambyses, the son of Cyrus; and Darius Hystaspes. There was another between Cambyses and Darius, called Smerdis the magician, who reigned but seven months, and being an impostor is left out, as he is in Ptolemy's canon; not that these were all the kings of Persia after Darius the Mede; for, according to the above canon, there reigned six more after them; but because these kings had a connection with the Jews, and under them their affairs had different turns and changes, respecting their restoration and settlement, and the building of their city and temple; as also because these kings "stood", and the monarchy under them was strong and flourishing, whereas afterwards it began to decline; and chiefly it is for the sake of the fourth king that these are observed, who laid the foundation of the destruction of the Persian monarchy by the Grecians.
and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: this is Xerxes, who exceeded his predecessors in wealth and riches; enjoying what they by their conquests, or otherwise, had amassed together, to which he greatly added; Cyrus had collected a vast deal of riches from various nations, especially from Babylon: God gave him "the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places", Cambyses increased the store by his victories, and the plunder of temples wherever he came; out of the flames of which were saved three hundred talents of gold, and 2300 talents of silver, which he carried away, together with the famous circle of gold that encompassed the tomb of King Ozymandias: and Darius, the father of Xerxes, laid heavy taxes upon the people, and hoarded up his money; hence he was called by the Persians the huckster or hoarder: and Xerxes came into it all, and so became richer than them all;
and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia; through his vast riches, which are the sinews of war, he collected a prodigious army out of all provinces, which he raised to make war against the Grecians; being moved to it by Mardonius, a relation of his, who was very ambitious of being at the head of a large army; three years were spent in preparing for this expedition, and forces were gathered out of all parts of the then known habitable world; out of all the west, under Hamilcar, general of the Carthaginians, with whom he made a league; and out of all the east, under his own command: his army, according to Justin, consisted of 700,000 of his own, and 300,000 auxiliaries; Diodorus Siculus makes it much less, to be about 300,000 men; but Dr. Prideaux, from Herodotus and others, computes, that putting all his forces together by sea and land, by the time he came to the straits of Thermopylae the number of them were 2,641,610 men; and Grotius, from the same writer reckons them 5,283,000, to which others add two hundred and twenty with these he marched into Greece, where, after having done much mischief, he was shamefully defeated and obliged to retire, and was murdered by Artabanus the captain of his guards. The words may be rendered, "he shall stir up all, even the realm of Grecia"; by the preparation he made, and the vast army he brought into the field, he raised all the cities and states of Greece to combine together to withstand him; and this step of his is what irritated the Grecians, and put them upon later attempts to avenge themselves on the Persians for this attack upon them; and which they never desisted from, till they had ruined the Persian empire, which they did under Alexander; and so he, in his letter to Darius, says,
"your ancestors entered into Macedonia, and the other parts of Greece, and did us damage, when they had received no affront from us as the cause of it; and now I, created general of the Grecians, provoked by you, and desirous of avenging the injury done by the Persians, have passed over into Asia."
And it is for the sake of this, the destruction of the Persian empire by Alexander, that this expedition of Xerxes is here hinted at; and to pave the way for the account of Alexander and his successors, in the following part of this prophecy.
Ver. 3. And a mighty king shall stand up, &c.] Not in Persia, but in Greece; Alexander the great, who rose up a hundred years after the above expedition of Xerxes, and "stood" and flourished, and conquered all he attacked, none being able to resist him; and is rightly called a "mighty king", a very powerful one: this is the notable horn in the he goat, which being exasperated by the ram, the Persians, and their invasion of Greece, pushed at them, and destroyed them: that shall rule with great dominion; not in Greece only but in the whole world, at least as he thought, and really did over a very great part of it; for, as Jerome says, having conquered the Illyrians, Thracians, Greece, and Thebes, he passed into Asia; and, having put to flight the generals of Darius, he took the city of Sardis, and afterwards India.
and do according to his will; not only in his own army, sacrificing his best friends at his pleasure; but with his enemies, conquering whom he would, none being able to withstand him; all things succeeded to his wish; whatever he attempted he performed. His historian says of him,
"that it must be owned he owed much to virtue, but more to fortune, which alone of all mortals he had in his power";
since, by the benefit of it, he seemed to do with nations whatever he pleased; he was sovereign in all things, and set himself to be worshipped as a deity.
Ver. 4. And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, &c.] When Alexander was risen up to his highest pitch of grandeur, was sole monarch of the world, in the height of his ambition, in the prime of his days, he was cut off by death; his kingdom remained no more one, but became many, was seized by different persons, his generals, and so broke to pieces:
and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; which seem to have respect to the four horns or kings, which came up in his place, and among whom his kingdom was parted; Ptolemy reigned in Egypt to the south; Antigonus in Asia to the north; Seleucus in Babylon and Syria to the east; and Cassander in Macedonia to the west:
and not to his posterity; for though he had two sons, one by Barsine, whose name was Hercules, who was living at his death; and another by Roxane, born after his death, whose name was Alexander; yet they were both destroyed by Cassander, or his means, that he might enjoy Macedonia:
nor according to his dominion which he ruled; their dominion was not so large and powerful as Alexander's was, being divided into several parts: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others besides those; either besides his posterity, who had no share in it, and so, with respect to his family, was like a tree plucked up by the roots, and, as to their concern in it, withered away at once; or, besides the four governors before mentioned, there were others that had, at least for a while, some lesser shares in the kingdom, as Eumenes, Philotas, Leonnatus, and others; but, at length, all were reduced to the kings of Egypt and Syria, the Lagidae and Seleucidae, which the following part of the prophecy chiefly concerns; and, besides these, for the Romans also, to whom this kingdom came.
Ver. 5. And the king of the south shall be strong, &c.] That is, the king of Egypt, which lay south to Syria, as Syria lay north to Egypt; and therefore the king of the one is called the king of the south, and the other the king of the north, throughout this prophecy; and by the king of the south, or Egypt, is here meant Ptolemy Lagus, one of Alexander's generals, who had Egypt for his share; and a very powerful king he was; for he reigned over Egypt, Lybia, Cyrene, Ethiopia, Arabia, Phoenicia, Coelesyria, Cyprus, and several isles in the Aegean sea, and many cities in Greece:
and one of his princes; not of Ptolemy king of Egypt, but of Alexander the great; and this is Seleucus Nicator, afterwards called king of the north, having Syria for his part, which lay to the north of Egypt, as before observed:
and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion; that is, be a greater and more powerful prince than Ptolemy king of Egypt:
his dominion shall be a great dominion; even greater than the others; for he reigned over Macedonia, Greece, Thrace, Asia, Syria, Babylonia, Media, and all the eastern countries as far as India; even from Taurus to the river Indus, and so likewise from Taurus to the Aegean sea: these two are only mentioned, who shared the Persian monarchy, because the Jews were only affected by them, for the sake of whom this prophecy is delivered.
Ver. 6. And in the end of years they shall join themselves together, &c.] The two kings of Egypt and Syria; not the two former kings, but their successors: the king of Egypt was Ptolemy Philadelphus, the second king of Egypt, the son of Ptolemy Lagus; this is the king of Egypt who collected such a vast number of books into his library at Alexandria, and got the law of Moses translated into Greek: the king of Syria was Antiochus, surnamed Theos; this name was first given him by the Milesians, upon his delivering them from the tyranny of Timarchus governor of Caria; he was the third king of Syria; Seleucus Nicator the first, Antiochus Soter the second, and this the third: there had been very great wars between these kings for many years; and now, being weary of them, they entered into confederacies and alliances with each other, and which were designed to be strengthened by a marriage next mentioned; this is thought to be about seventy years after the death of Alexander:
for the king's daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement; this was Bernice, daughter of Ptolemy Philadelphus king of Egypt, who carried her to Pelusium, and from thence sailed with her to Seleucia in Syria; where he met with Antiochus king of Syria, to whom he gave her in marriage, with a vast dowry of gold and silver; and the marriage was celebrated with great solemnity: and this was "to make agreement," or "to make things right or straight"; that were wrong and crooked before; to put an end to wars and discords; to make peace and cultivate friendship; to strengthen alliances, and confirm each other in their kingdoms:
but she shall not retain the power of the arm; unite the two kingdoms, and secure the peace of them, which was the thing in view; nor retain her interest in her husband, nor her power at court; for, as soon as her father was dead, Antiochus dismissed Bernice from his bed, and took Laodice his former wife again, by whom he had had two sons, Seleucus Callinicus, and Antiochus Hierax:
neither shall he stand, nor his arm; neither Antiochus; for Laodice, knowing that by the late treaty the crown was settled upon the children of Bernice, who already had a son by him, and sensible of his fickleness, and fearing he might divorce her again, and take to Bernice, got him poisoned by his servants: nor Bernice his queen, called "his arm"; who fleeing to Daphne for shelter, on hearing what was done, was there slain; or it may be his son he had by her, so it follows:
but she shall be given up; into the hands of Seleucus Callinicus, the son of Laodice; whom she placed on the throne after the death of his father; and who sent to Daphne to slay Bernice, which was accordingly done :
and they that brought her; into Syria; that attended her from Egypt at her marriage, and continued with her in the court of Syria, and fled with her to Daphne:
and he that begat her: or, "whom she brought forth"; as in the margin; her little son, who was murdered at the same time with her; for her father died before:
and he that strengthened her in these times; either her husband, or her father, who were both dead before, and so stood not, and could not help her; unless this is to be understood of her brother, and the cities of the lesser Asia, who, hearing of her distress at Daphne, set out for her relief, but came too late; she and her son were both slain first.
Ver. 7. But out of a branch of her roots shall one stand up in his estate, &c.] Or, "out of a branch of her roots a shoot thereof shall stand or rise up"; by "her roots" are meant her ancestors, particularly Ptolemy Lagus; by "a branch" from thence, Ptolemy Philadelphus her father; and by the "shoot" out of that, or its plantation, as the Vulgate Latin version, is designed her brother, Ptolemy Euergetes; who succeeded her father in the kingdom, and stood firm in it; "upon his basis," as some render it:
which shall come with an army; or, "to an army" as soon as he heard of his sister's case, he put himself at the head of an army, and marched to her relief; but coming too late, he, and the forces of the lesser Asia, which came for the same purpose, joining him, resolved to revenge the death of his sister and her son, went with his army into Syria, as next foretold:
and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north; the king of Syria, Seleucus Callinicus: Ptolemy entered into Syria itself, as Polybius says, into the fortified cities of it, and took them, the singular being put for the plural; unless Seleucia itself is particularly designed, which Ptolemy seized, and put a garrison of Egyptians in it, which held it twenty seven years:
and shall deal against them; besiege and take them at his pleasure; the king of Syria not being able to stand against him and defend them:
and shall prevail; over the king of Syria, and conquer great part of his dominions, as he did: he took Syria and Cilicia, and the superior parts beyond Euphrates, and almost all Asia, as Jerome relates; and had it not been for a sedition in his own kingdom, which called him home, he had made himself master of the whole kingdom of Seleucus, as Justin says.
Ver. 8. And shall also carry captives into Egypt their gods, with their princes, &c.] Jerom relates, from the historians he conversed with, that Ptolemy carried captive with him into Egypt two thousand five hundred images; among which were many of the idols which Cambyses, when he conquered Egypt, carried from thence; and Ptolemy replacing them in their proper temples, gained him the affection of his people the Egyptians, who were much addicted to idolatry; hence they gave him the name of Euergetes, that is, "the benefactor":
and with their precious vessels of silver and of gold; the same writer reports, that he brought with him out of Syria, and the places he conquered, forty thousand talents of silver, and precious vessels; vessels of gold and silver, a prodigious number:
and he shall continue more years than the king of the north; according to the canon of Ptolemy, this king of Egypt reigned twenty five years; and, as Dr. Prideaux observes, outlived Seleucus king of Syria four years.
Ver. 9. So the king of the south shall come into his kingdom, &c.] Into his own kingdom, the kingdom of Egypt; or into the kingdom of Syria, the kingdom of Seleucus, and conquer great part of it, and ravage and spoil it:
and shall return into his own land; the land of Egypt; he shall go and come with ease, and as he pleases, none to hinder him; and come back with a great spoil, as before related: Cocceius renders it, and something "shall come in the kingdom of the king of the south, and he shall return to his own land"; and thinks this refers to the sedition raised there, before mentioned, which obliged him to return sooner than he intended. The Septuagint and Arabic versions render it, "and he shall enter into the kingdom of the king of the south, and he shall return to his own land": that is, Seleucus should attempt to enter into the kingdom of Ptolemy king of Egypt, in revenge of his having entered into his country and spoiled it; but shall be obliged to return to his own land without any success: and so Justin says, that he fitted out a great fleet, which was destroyed by a violent storm; and after this he raised a great army to recover his dominion, but was defeated by Ptolemy, and fled in great terror and trembling to Antioch; and this suits well with what follows.
Ver. 10. But his sons shall be stirred up, &c.] Not of the king of the south, or Egypt, but of the king of the north, or Syria; the sons of Seleucus Callinicus, who died, as Justin says, by a fall from his horse; these were Seleucus Ceraunus and Antiochus, who was afterwards called the great: these being irritated and provoked by what Ptolemy Euergetes had done in revenge of his sister, taking part of their father's kingdom from him, and carrying off so rich a booty, joined together, and exerted themselves to recover their dominions from him:
and shall assemble a multitude of great forces: or, "a multitude of men, even large armies"; which they put themselves at the head of, in order to make war with the king of Egypt:
and one shall certainly come, and overflow, and pass through; this is to be understood of Antiochus; for Seleucus dying in the third year of his reign, being slain in Phrygia, through the treachery of Nicator and Apaturius, as Jerom relates; or, as others, poisoned; Antiochus succeeded him, and alone headed the armies they had collected; and with which, like an inundation of water, to which armies are sometimes compared, he attacked Seleucia, and took it; and entered into Coelesyria, and overran it, being delivered into his hands by the treachery of Theodotus, who governed there for Ptolemy, whom he had offended: after this he came to Berytus, entered the province by a place which the countrymen called "the face of God"; and which Grotius, not improbably, takes to be Phanuel: took the town of Botris, and set fire to Trieres and Calamus, or Calene: he next invaded Palestine, and took several places in it; went as far as Rabata Massane, or Rabatamana, a city in Arabia, the same with Rabbathammon, which surrendered to him:
then shall he return, and be stirred up even to his fortress: the spring following he returned with a numerous army, and came to Raphia, a fortified city in Egypt, which lay between that and Palestine; where, as Strabo says, Ptolemy the fourth (i.e. Philopator) fought with Antiochus the great.
Ver. 11. And the king of the south shall be moved with choler, &c.] This is Ptolemy Philopator, who succeeded Ptolemy Euergetes in the kingdom of Egypt; so called ironically, because of his murder of his father and mother, as Justin relates; the same, though naturally sluggish and slothful, was provoked and exasperated at the proceedings of Antiochus, retaking Coelesyria, invading Palestine, and coming up to the borders of his kingdom:
and shall come forth and fight with him, even with the king of the north: he assembled an army, and marched with them, from the interior part of his kingdom, to the border of it, to Raphia, a city between Rhinocorura and Gaza; where he met with Antiochus, and a battle was fought, as before observed:
and he shall set forth a great multitude; this is true of both kings, their armies were very large; that of Ptolemy king of Egypt consisted, according to Polybius, of seventy thousand foot, five thousand horse, and seventy three elephants and that of Antiochus king of Syria consisted of sixty two (some say seventy two) thousand foot, six thousand horse, and a hundred and two elephants: the former army, that of the king of Egypt, seems rather designed, if the preceding clause is consulted; though the latter, that of Antiochus, best agrees with what follows:
but the multitude shall be given into his hand: that is, the multitude of the army of Antiochus should be delivered into the hands of Ptolemy Philopator, and so it was; for Antiochus lost ten thousand footmen, and three hundred horsemen; four thousand footmen were taken, three elephants slain, and two wounded, which afterwards died, and most of the rest were taken: this victory is ascribed to Arsinoe, the sister and wife of Ptolemy, who ran about the army with her hair dishevelled, and by entreaties and promises greatly encouraged the soldiers to fight; of which see third Maccabees chapter one and with which Polybius agrees.
Ver. 12 And when he hath taken away the multitude, &c.] That is, when Ptolemy king of Egypt had defeated the large army of Antiochus, killed great numbers of them, and taken many:
his heart shall be lifted up; with pride, through the victory he obtained; and so he gave himself up to sensuality and luxury, judging himself now safe and secure in the possession of his kingdom: or, this may refer to his insolence, when he entered into Judea, went to Jerusalem, and forced his way into the holiest of all to offer sacrifice upon his victory; of which see third Maccabees chapter one:
and he shall cast down many ten thousands; or "many thousands," as the Vulgate Latin version; or rather "ten thousand," either of the Jews, when he went into their country; or of the army of Antiochus the king of the north, as Jacchiades: and it may be rendered, "though he shall cast down many thousands"; that is, cast them down to the earth, slay them, as he did, even ten thousand of them, the number here mentioned:
yet he shall not be strengthened by it; for Antiochus escaped out of his hands, nor did he pursue his victory, and take all the advantages of it, as he might have done; for, as the historian says, had he added valour to his fortune, he might have spoiled Antiochus of his kingdom; but, content with the recovery of the cities he lost, made peace, and greedily took the advantage of ease, and rolled himself in luxury, uncleanness, and intemperance.
Ver. 13. For the king of the north shall return, &c.] As Antiochus king of Syria did, upon the death of Ptolemy Philopator, who was succeeded by his son Ptolemy Epiphanes, a minor of five years of age: Antiochus took the advantage of this minority, and entered into a league with Philip king of Macedon, to divide the kingdom of Egypt between them; and marched an army into Coelesyria and Palestine, and made himself master of those countries:
and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former; bring a larger army into the field than he had done before, which Jerom says he brought out of the upper parts of Babylon; some say it consisted of three hundred thousand footmen, besides horsemen and elephants:
and shall certainly come after certain years with a great army, and with much riches; with all manner of provisions to supply his numerous army, and all proper accommodations for it; money to pay his soldiers, and beasts of burden to carry their baggage from place to place: this was about fourteen years after the former battle, as Dr. Prideaux observes; and, according to Bishop Usher's annals, thirteen years.
Ver. 14. And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south, &c.] The king of Egypt, Ptolemy Epiphanes being a minor; and while he was such, Antiochus king of Syria, and Philip king of Macedon, joined in alliance together, as before observed, to seize upon his kingdom, and divide it between them; and accordingly Antiochus began the war in Coelesyria and Phoenicia, and Philip went against Egypt and Samos, or Caria, according to Polybius. Agathocles and Agathoclea, favourites of the former king of Egypt, laid a scheme of taking the regency into their hands during the minority of the young king; and these, being persons of dissolute lives, were hated by the Egyptians, which caused insurrections and seditions among themselves; and Scopas, a principal general in the army of the king of Egypt, formed a design of taking the government to himself:
also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision: this is directed to the Prophet Daniel, and respects the Jews his countrymen, at least some of them, refractory persons that broke through all laws of God and men; seditious men, disturbers of the public peace, and who lived upon the spoil and plunder of others; these either took the advantage of the disturbances in Egypt, and went thither, and plundered what they could, in a bold and audacious manner, and so helped to fulfil this prophecy; or during the troubles in their own land, through the kings of Egypt and Syria, took the opportunity of committing thefts and robberies in a very daring manner, whereby they brought upon them those evils threatened in the law to such persons; and particularly when the Egyptians prevailed, they sided with them against Antiochus, especially such who apostatized from their religion to please the king of Egypt; but were afterwards punished by Antiochus, as it follows:
but they shall fall: be cut off and destroyed, as those apostates that were of Ptolemy's party were by Antiochus, when he invaded Judea, and became master of Jerusalem; see third Maccabees chapter one. Some understand this of the apostate Jews, who fled with Onias the high priest to Egypt, and were there honourably received by Ptolemy, and obtained leave to build a temple there, under pretence of fulfilling the vision or prophecy in Isa 19:19, which continued many years to the times of the Romans, by whom it was destroyed; but this does not agree with the reign of this king of Egypt; for it was in the times of Ptolemy Philometor that this affair happened, as Josephus relates. Sir Isaac Newton interprets it of the Samaritans.
Ver. 15. So the king of the north shall come, and cast up a mount, and take the most fenced cities, &c.] That is, Antiochus the great, king of Syria, should come into Coelesyria and Phoenicia, which was the part of the kingdom of Egypt he was to have by the league with Philip king of Macedon; and this is a prophecy of his expedition into those parts, and the success of it. Scopas, a general of Ptolemy, being sent by him into Coelesyria, had took many of the cities of it, and the land of Judea; but Antiochus, coming into those parts with his army, beat Scopas at the fountains of Jordan, and destroyed great part of his forces, and retook the cities of Coelesyria that Scopas had made himself master of, and subdued Samaria; upon which the Jews voluntarily submitted to him, and received him into their city, as Josephus relates; and Polybius, as quoted by him, says, that Scopas being conquered by Antiochus, he took Batanea, Samaria, Abila, and Godara, and that the Jews in a little time surrendered to him; and so Livy says, that Antiochus reduced all the cities that Ptolemy had in Coelesyria into subjection to him; and these are the most fenced cities pointed at in this prophecy, against which the king of Syria cast up mounts, in order to take them; or placed battering engines before them, as the word also signifies, as Kimchi observes, by which stones were cast into the besieged cities:
and the arms of the south shall not withstand, neither his chosen people, neither shall there be any strength to withstand; all the forces of the king of Egypt mustered together would not be able to withstand the power of Antiochus, who would, as he did, carry all before him; not their most powerful armies, nor most courageous generals, nor valiant soldiers, the choicest of them, nor any auxiliaries called in to their assistance; for when Scopas was beaten by Antiochus at Jordan, he fled to Sidon with ten thousand soldiers, where he was shut up in a close siege; and though Ptolemy sent his famous and choicest commanders to his relief, Eropus, Menocles, and Damoxenus, as Jerome relates; yet they were not able to raise the siege, but by famine were forced to surrender; and he and his men were dismissed naked.
Ver. 16. But he that cometh against him shall do according to his own will, and none shall stand before him, &c.] Antiochus the great, who came against Ptolemy king of Egypt, would do in those parts where he came as he pleased; take cities, and dispose of them at his pleasure; the army of the king of Egypt not being able to oppose him, and stop his conquests in Coelesyria and Phoenicia; nor should they hinder his entrance into Judea:
and he shall stand in the glorious land; Judea, so called, not only because of its fertility, but chiefly because of the worship of God in it; here Antiochus stood as a victorious conqueror; the Jews readily submitting to him, and received him into their city, and assisted him in reducing the castle where Scopas had placed a garrison of soldiers:
which by his hand shall be consumed; by his numerous army, and the foraging of his soldiers, eating up and destroying the fruits of the earth wherever they came; otherwise the land of Judea, and the inhabitants of it, were not consumed and destroyed by him at this time; but rather brought into more flourishing circumstances, having many favours and privileges bestowed on them by him, on account of the respect they showed him; for, on his coming to Jerusalem, the priests and elders went out to meet him, and gladly received him and his army, and furnished him with horses and elephants, and helped him in reducing the garrison Scopas had left, as before observed: hence some render the words, "which by his hand was perfected"; restored to perfect peace and prosperity, which had been for some years harassed and distressed by the Egyptians and Syrians, in their turns being masters of it; the elders, priests, and Levites, he freed from tribute, gave them leave to live according to their own laws, granted them cattle and other things for sacrifice, and wood for the repairing and perfecting of their temple. The letters he wrote on this account are to be seen in Josephus.
Ver. 17. He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, &c.] Antiochus, having conquered Coelesyria, Phoenicia, and Judea, should set his face towards the land of Egypt, having a greedy desire after it, and bend his mind and forces that way; form a design of invading it, and for that purpose determine to bring all the forces he could master together throughout his dominions. So Justin says, that upon the death of Ptolemy Philopator, Antiochus king of Syria determined to seize on Egypt. The Vulgate Latin version is, "that he might come to lay hold on his whole kingdom"; to seize the whole kingdom of the king of Egypt:
and upright ones with him: meaning, as many think, the Jews, so called to distinguish them from the Heathens, and even from those Jews who had took on the side of Ptolemy, and had changed their religion; but these persevered in it, which Antiochus approved of; and had now a great opinion of them, and had bestowed many favours upon them, as before observed; wherefore he might take some of them, and they might choose to go with him on this expedition, and especially to assist in his intended agreement with the king of Egypt, and the marriage of his daughter to him; in bringing about which they were to have a concern, as being reckoned men of probity and uprightness: or rather the sense is, according to the Vulgate Latin version,
and he shall do right things; in show and appearance: or "he shall make agreement," or peace, as Aben Ezra; enter into covenants of alliance and marriage, upon seeming just conditions, with a great show of sincerity and uprightness:
thus shall he do; in the following manner: or, "and he shall do"; that is, succeed in his proposals:
and he shall give him the daughter of women, corrupting her; this was the stratagem he used; finding he could not obtain the kingdom of Egypt by force of arms, for fear of the Romans, who were the guardians of the king of Egypt, he proposed to give his daughter Cleopatra to him in marriage, a beautiful virgin; and therefore called the "daughter of women"; or rather because she was as yet under the care of the women she was first committed to, as Gussetius observes; and so he did marry her, and gave for her dowry Coelesyria, Samaria, Judea, and Phoenicia: this was done at Raphia, a fortified city of Egypt, where the famous battle had been fought between him and Ptolemy Philopator; and if the former clause is rendered, as I think it may, "he shall also set his face to enter into the fortress of the whole kingdom"; this is the place intended, where he was desirous of going to meet the king of Egypt, and execute this scheme of his; which, though done under a plausible pretence of peace, and of putting ahead to their quarrels, was with a view to get his kingdom into his hands; "corrupting" his daughter to betray the counsels of her husband; or to put him to death by poison, or otherwise, that he might seize the kingdom on her behalf; or it may be rendered, to "corrupt" or "destroy it," the kingdom; he married his daughter to the king of Egypt with this view, to obtain the kingdom from him:
but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him; being married, she forgot her own people, and her father's house, and cleaved to her husband; took his part, and not her father's, yea, took part with her husband against her father; for ambassadors were sent out of Egypt by both her husband and herself, congratulating the Romans on the victory Acilius gained over Antiochus her father, and that he had drove him out of Greece, exhorting them to carry their army into Asia; and thus he was disappointed of his design in this marriage: and this may be the meaning of the expression here; for it may be rendered, "it shall not stand"; his counsel shall not stand, his scheme shall not take place, but fall to the ground, and come to nothing:
and it shall not be for him; the kingdom shall not be his, he shall never possess it, as he did not.
Ver. 18. After this he shall turn his face unto the isles, and shall take many, &c.] Finding himself disappointed in his design on the kingdom of Egypt, he turned his face, and steered his course another way, and with a large fleet sailed into the Aegean sea; and, as Jerom relates, took Rhodes, Samos, Colophon, and Phocea, and many other islands; and also several cities of Greece and Asia, which lay on the sea coasts; it being usual with the Jews to call such maritime places islands:
but a prince for his own behalf shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease; the reproach that Antiochus cast upon the Romans, by seizing on their provinces, taking their cities, doing injuries to their allies, and treating their ambassadors with contempt: this the Romans wiped off by taking up arms against him, and gaining victories over him both by sea and land. The "prince" here may design the Romans in general, who, on their own behalf, or for their own honour, sent out armies and fleets against him, to put a stop to his insults over them; or some particular leader and commander of theirs, not a king, but a general or admiral, as Marcus Acilius, who beat him at the straits of Thermopylae; also Livius Salinator, who got the victory over his fleet about Phocea, where he sunk ten of his ships, and took thirteen; likewise Aemilius Regillus, who got the better of his fleet at Myonnesus, near Ephesus; and especially Lucius Scipio, who, in a land fight, beat him at Mount Siphylus, with an army of thirty thousand against seventy thousand, killed fifty thousand footmen of Antiochus's army, and four thousand horsemen, and took fourteen hundred prisoners, with fifteen elephants and their commanders, and so drove him out of lesser Asia:
without his own reproach he shall cause it to turn upon him; without any reproach to the Roman general; the reproach which Antiochus cast upon the Roman nation was turned upon his own head, by the many victories obtained over him by sea and land, and especially by the last and total defeat of him; for no other terms of peace could he obtain, but to pay all the expenses of the war, quit all Asia on that side Taurus, and give hostages, and his own son was one, in the Apocrypha:
"10 And there came out of them a wicked root Antiochus surnamed Epiphanes, son of Antiochus the king, who had been an hostage at Rome, and he reigned in the hundred and thirty and seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks." (1 Maccabees 1:10)
Ver. 19. Then he shall turn his face towards the fort of his own land, &c.] After his defeat he fled with a few to Sardis, and from thence to Apamea, so Livy; and to Susa, and to the further parts of his dominions, as Jerom; or rather he betook himself to Antioch his capital city, called here "the fort of his own land", where he was obliged to continue:
but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found; the expenses of the war which Antiochus agreed to pay being reckoned at fifteen thousand Euboean talents, five hundred talents were to be paid down; two thousand five hundred at the ratification of the treaty by the senate of Rome; and the other twelve thousand to be paid yearly, at a thousand talents each year: now, being either in want of money, or through covetousness, he attempted to rob the temple of Jupiter Elymaeus, and went by night thither with his army for that purpose; but the thing being betrayed, the inhabitants got together, and slew him, with all his soldiers, as Justin relates. Strabo says, that Antiochus the great endeavouring to rob the temple of Bel, the barbarians near to (Elymais) rose of themselves, and slew him; and so never returned to Syria any more, but died in the province of Elymais, being slain by the Persians there, as related, and was never found more, or was buried; and this was the end of this great man, of whom so many things are said in this prophecy, and others follow concerning his successors. He died in the thirty seventh year of his reign, and the fifty second of his age.
Ver. 20. Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom, &c.] This was not Antiochus Epiphanes, as Theodoret, he is designed in the next verse; nor Ptolemy Epiphanes; as Porphyry, for he did not succeed Antiochus the great; nor Tryphon, tutor to Antiochus, as some Jewish writers; but Seleucus Philopator, the eldest son of Antiochus the great; who succeeded him, and was settled in his kingdom in his father's room, and stood upon his basis; and might well be called a raiser of taxes, being not only a covetous man, and a lover of money above all things; and therefore laid heavy taxes on his subjects, to gratify his avarice; but was indeed obliged to it, to raise the thousand talents yearly to pay the Romans, which his father had laid himself under obligation to do; and this took up the whole life of this his successor; for as there were twelve thousand talents to pay, a thousand each year, and Seleucus reigned in all but twelve years at most, he did nothing but raise taxes yearly to pay this tribute. It may be rendered, "then shall stand upon his basis": or, "in his room," as the Vulgate Latin version, in the room of Antiochus the great, "one that causes the exactors to pass through the glory of the kingdom"; that causes tax gatherers to go through the kingdom, and collect the tax of the people, who are the glory of the kingdom, especially the rich, the nobility, and gentry; or money, which is the glory of a nation: or, "shall cause the exactors to pass over to the glory of the kingdom"; that is, cause a tax gatherer to go over from Syria to the glorious land, or the glorious part of his dominion, the land of Judea; and so may have respect particularly to Heliodorus his treasurer, whom he sent to Jerusalem to demand the treasure of money he heard was laid up in the temple there; in the Apocrypha:
"Now when Apollonius came to the king, and had shewed him of the money whereof he was told, the king chose out Heliodorus his treasurer, and sent him with a commandment to bring him the foresaid money." (2 Maccabees 3:7)
but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle; or, within a few years, as Grotius and Prideaux render it; "days" being often put for years. Seleucus reigned but twelve years at most, which were but few in comparison of the long reign of his father, which was a reign of thirty seven years; and he died not through the rage of the populace, or through the sedition and rebellion of his subjects, nor in war, with a foreign enemy; but through the treachery of Heliodorus his treasurer, by whom he was poisoned, as is supposed; either for the sake of Antiochus Epiphanes, who was at that very time returning from Rome, where he had been an hostage ever since the defeat of his father, the money being now paid, which was stipulated; or rather on his own account, having a design to seize the kingdom for himself.
Ver. 21. And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, &c.] Upon his basis or stand, in the same place where Seleucus Philopator stood, succeeded Antiochus Epiphanes his brother, called "vile," being a very immoral man, given to drunkenness, lasciviousness, uncleanness, and unnatural lusts, and a violent persecutor of the church of God. The word signifies "despicable"; he was a vile person, and justly condemned for his vices, and also for that mean and ignoble life he had lived at Rome, having been an hostage there for eleven or twelve years; and though the other hostages were changed at three years' end, yet he remained; which shows what little account he was of even with his father; and was in no esteem with the people, among whom, by his freaks and frolics, he made himself very ridiculous; by rambling about streets with a servant or two; conversing with tradesmen about their trades; drinking with strangers, and people of low life; revelling at merry bouts with young people; putting on strange habits; throwing away his money among the rabble, and stones at those that followed him; washing at public baths among the common people; all which, and many others, are reported of him by historians; hence he was called by some Epimanes the madman; though he took to himself the title of Epiphanes the "illustrious," the reverse of his character. This is the little horn in Dan 8:9 and who was an eminent type of antichrist, with whom his character agrees, as well as other things:
to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom; neither his father, nor his brother, nor the peers and people of the land of the kingdom of Syria; they never once thought of making him king; they neither chose him, nor called him, nor crowned him:
but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries; pretending to take it, not for himself, but for his nephew Demetrius, the son of his brother Seleucus, now an hostage at Rome, in his stead; so that the states opposed him not, but quietly admitted him, thinking all was safe for the rightful heir and successor; and when he had got possession for his nephew, he obtained it for himself by his flattering speeches to the nobles, and his gifts among the citizens, and his great pretensions to clemency and humanity; or these "flatteries" may refer to the artifices he used to gain Eumenes king of Pergamus, and Attalus his brother, to assist him against Heliodorus the usurper; and the promises of friendship and assistance against the Romans he made to them, and by whose help he came peaceably to the kingdom.
Ver. 22. And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken, &c.] That is, by the help of the forces of Eumenes and Attalus, which were like an inundation of water, the party that were on the side of Heliodorus the usurper were bore down, crushed, and destroyed; and thereby Antiochus had a peaceable settlement in the kingdom: or, "the arms of a flood shall be overflowed from before him, and be broken"; either the arms of Heliodorus, the forces he had got together; or the armies of the Egyptians, which, like an overflowing flood, had used to run over Judea, Coelesyria, Phoenicia, and other places, and carry all before them, now should be overflowed, and bore down themselves;
yea, also the prince of the covenant; which some understand of Judas Maccabaeus, as Jerome and Jacchiades; others more probably of Onias the high priest, whom Antiochus deposed in the first year of his reign, and sold the priesthood to Jason his younger brother for four hundred and forty talents of silver; and who also promised to give him one hundred and fifty more for a license to erect a place of exercise for the training up of youth, according to the fashion of the Greeks; which Antiochus greedily embraced, the public treasury being empty through the large tribute paid to the Romans the last twelve years; in the Apocrypha:
"7 But after the death of Seleucus, when Antiochus, called Epiphanes, took the kingdom, Jason the brother of Onias laboured underhand to be high priest, 8 Promising unto the king by intercession three hundred and threescore talents of silver, and of another revenue eighty talents: 9 Beside this, he promised to assign an hundred and fifty more, if he might have licence to set him up a place for exercise, and for the training up of youth in the fashions of the heathen, and to write them of Jerusalem by the name of Antiochians. 34 Wherefore Menelaus, taking Andronicus apart, prayed, him to get Onias into his hands; who being persuaded thereunto, and coming to Onias in deceit, gave him his right hand with oaths; and though he were suspected by him, yet persuaded he him to come forth of the sanctuary: whom forthwith he shut up without regard of justice. 35 For the which cause not only the Jews, but many also of other nations, took great indignation, and were much grieved for the unjust murder of the man." (2 Maccabees 4)
Others think Seleucus Philopator his brother is meant, which is not probable, his death being before described; rather Demetrius his nephew, with whom he covenanted to hold the kingdom for him, or through whom the covenant and peace with the Romans was continued so long, he being an hostage at Rome; though others are of opinion that Trypho, a peer of the realm of Egypt, is designed, who was the principal person concerned in a covenant made between Antiochus and Ptolemy Philometor king of Egypt; though it is more likely that Ptolemy himself is the person intended.
Ver. 23. And after the league made with him, &c.] The prince of the covenant; either Demetrius his nephew, or Ptolemy Philometor king of Egypt, with whom a league was made in the lifetime of Cleopatra, the sister of Antiochus, and mother of Ptolemy:
he shall work deceitfully; either with the princes and people of Syria, by good words and fair speeches, and by gifts and presents, to get the kingdom for himself, though he had covenanted with his nephew to hold it for him, and resign it to him at his return; and with the Romans, and among his friends in the senate, he artfully worked to detain him at Rome: or else with the king of Egypt, pretending great friendship to him, and to take the care and tuition of him during his minority; and at his coronation he sent one Apollonius to be present at it, and to congratulate him upon it; in the Apocrypha:
"Now when Apollonius the son of Menestheus was sent into Egypt for the coronation of king Ptolemeus Philometor, Antiochus, understanding him not to be well affected to his affairs, provided for his own safety: whereupon he came to Joppa, and from thence to Jerusalem:" (2 Maccabees 4:21)
for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people; either he went into the heart of Syria with a small number of men at first, and gathered together a large army; or into Phoenicia with a handful of men, where he ingratiated himself into the affections of the people by words and gifts, and became strong; or he went up into Egypt accompanied only with a few, lest, the Egyptians should be suspicious of him; but these it is said were valiant men, whom he placed in the forts of Egypt, and so became master of it, which is an instance of his deceitful working; and Sutorius, an ancient historian, as quoted by Jerom, says that he subdued Egypt to himself with a very small number of people.
Ver. 24. He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province, &c.] Or, "into tranquillity, and the fattest places of the province"; that is, into such places as were in great tranquillity, and men thought themselves safe and secure, and had no suspicion of his designs upon them, and which abounded in wealth and riches: these were either the principal cities in the kingdom of Syria, which he visited in order to establish himself in their good opinion of him; or the chief places of the province of Phoenicia, where he endeavoured to make himself acceptable by his munificence; or it may be the best parts of the kingdom of Egypt are meant, the richest of them, such as Memphis, and the places about it; where, as Sutorius in Jerome says, he went; and which places being fat, producing a large increase, and abounding in wealth, invited him thither; and which wealth he took, and scattered among his friends and soldiers, as in a following clause:
and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers' fathers; none of his ancestors, more near or more remote; not Antiochus the great, nor Seleucus Ceraunus, nor Seleucus Callinicus, nor Antiochus Theos, nor Antiochus Soter, nor Seleucus Nicator, the founder of the Syrian empire; for, however greater these might be in power or riches, they were inferior to him in success; though they all, or most of them, however, had their eye upon Egypt, and would gladly have been masters of it; yet none of the kings of Syria prevailed over it, as Antiochus did; and this may also refer to what follows:
he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches; which he took from the places or rich cities he entered into; and these he plentifully and liberally dispersed among his followers, his soldiers, "the small people" he became strong with, whereby he gained their affections, and attached them to his interest; and in this his liberality and munificence he is said to abound above all the kings that were before him, in the Apocrypha:
"He feared that he should not be able to bear the charges any longer, nor to have such gifts to give so liberally as he did before: for he had abounded above the kings that were before him." (1 Maccabees 3:30)
and the character Josephus gives of him is, that he was a man of a large and liberal heart:
yea, and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds; the fortresses of Egypt; as he got into the fat and richest parts of it, and distributed the wealth of them among his favourites and followers, which answered a good purpose; so he had his eye upon the fortified places of the kingdom, and contrived ways and means to get them into his possession, as Pelusium, and other places; and how to keep them when he had got them, which he did:
even for a time; till Ptolemy Philometor was at age, and freed himself from him; or till the Romans put a stop to his power.
Ver. 25. And he shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the south with a great army, &c.] That is, Antiochus shall arouse himself, and exert his courage, and gather a large and powerful army, and set out with them to fight with Ptolemy Philometor, king of Egypt; this is his second expedition into Egypt, as is observed in the Apocrypha:
"About the same time Antiochus prepared his second voyage into Egypt:" (2 Maccabees 5:1)
before he went into Egypt more privately, with a few men, under a pretence of friendship; but now more openly as an enemy, with a large army; so it is said in the Apocrypha:
"17 Wherefore he entered into Egypt with a great multitude, with chariots, and elephants, and horsemen, and a great navy, 18 And made war against Ptolemee king of Egypt: but Ptolemee was afraid of him, and fled; and many were wounded to death." (1 Maccabees 1)
and he entered into Egypt with a great multitude, with chariots, and with elephants, and with horses, and with a great fleet; which account exactly agrees with this prophecy, and serves to illustrate it:
and the king of the south shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; this is Ptolemy Philometor, king of Egypt, who, hearing of the preparations of Antiochus, and of his design to enter his kingdom, gathered a large army together to give him battle:
but he shall not stand; the king of Egypt could not stand against Antiochus; the two armies met between Mount Casius and Pelusium, where they came, to a battle, and Antiochus got the victory: upon his second victory over the forces of Ptolemy, he took Pelusium, and led his army into the very heart of the kingdom, and had it in his power to have cut off all the Egyptians, to a man; he made himself master of Memphis, and all the rest of Egypt, except Alexandria, which held out against him:
for they shall forecast devices against him; Antiochus, and those that assisted him with their counsels, formed schemes against Ptolemy, which succeeded: the loss of the battle was not owing to want of the necessary preparations for it; or to an insufficient number of men; or to a defect of military skill and courage; but to the treachery of his own courtiers and commanders, particularly Eulaeus and Lennaeeus to whom the blame was laid, and to the desertion of Ptolemy Macron; which is more clearly expressed in the following verse.
Ver. 26. Yea, they that feed of the portion of his meat shall destroy him, &c.] Those of his own household, his familiar friends, his courtiers and counsellors, and the generals of his army; his destruction, or the loss of the battle, was owing either to the bad counsels they gave him, or to their desertion of him, being corrupted by Antiochus:
and his army shall overflow: that is, the army of Antiochus, like a mighty inundation of water, which carries all before it, should overflow, or bear down and destroy, the army of Ptolemy, and overrun all Egypt, as it did, as before related; no more resistance being to be made to it than to a rapid flood of water:
and many shall fall down slain: of the army of the king of Egypt. The account given of this affair in the Apocrypha:
"18 And made war against Ptolemee king of Egypt: but Ptolemee was afraid of him, and fled; and many were wounded to death. 19 Thus they got the strong cities in the land of Egypt and he took the spoils thereof." (1 Maccabees 1)
Josephus says, that Antiochus,
"being with a great army at Pelusium, and circumventing Ptolemy Philometor by fraud, seized on Egypt; and being in the parts near to Memphis, and taking it, he hastened to Alexandria to besiege it, and got Ptolemy, reigning there, into his hands."
Ver. 27. And both these kings' hearts shall be to do mischief, &c.] Antiochus Epiphanes, king of Syria, and Ptolemy Philometor, king of Egypt, the latter being now in the hands of the former; whether he was taken by him, or voluntarily came to him, is not certain; but though they seemed to carry it very friendly to one another, yet at the same time they were contriving in their minds to do as much mischief to each other as they could:
and they shall speak lies at one table: at an entertainment at Memphis, where they met to eat food together, which shows great familiarity; or at the council table, where they pretended to consult each other's good, and to secure the peace of both kingdoms, but imposed on each other with lies. Antiochus pretended a great respect for Ptolemy, and that he had nothing more at heart than to take care of his affairs, and defend him against his brother Euergetes, whom the Alexandrians had set up for king; when his design was no other than to seize the kingdom of Egypt for himself: on the other hand, Ptolemy seemed greatly satisfied with his uncle's protection, and to place great confidence in him; when his view was to disappoint his scheme, and come to an agreement with his brother; neither of them meant what they said:
but it shall not prosper; the consultations they held, the schemes they laid, succeeded not; the peace made between them did not last:
for yet the end shall be at the time appointed; by the Lord, by whom all events are predetermined; whose counsel shall stand, notwithstanding all the devices in the hearts of men, and of kings themselves: the end of this peace between these two kings, and the end of the wars between them, yea, the end of the two kingdoms, when they should cease, and come into other hands; all was fixed to a time appointed of God, and should surely come to pass, as he had decreed.
Ver. 28. Then shall he return into his land with great riches, &c.] That is, Antiochus, with the spoils of Egypt, and the gifts and presents he had received there; so the author of the first book of Maccabees says,
"20 And after that Antiochus had smitten Egypt, he returned again in the hundred forty and third year, and went up against Israel and Jerusalem with a great multitude, 21 And entered proudly into the sanctuary, and took away the golden altar, and the candlestick of light, and all the vessels thereof," (1 Maccabees 1)
that is, of the era of the Selucidae, and the fifth or sixth year of his reign:
and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; not the covenant he had made with Ptolemy, which was a fraudulent one; but the covenant between God and the Jews; whereby they became a distinct and peculiar people, having a religion, laws, and ordinances, different from all others; for which reason they were hated by other nations, and particularly by Antiochus; and his heart was the more enraged against them at this time, for the following reason; a false rumour being spread in Judea that Antiochus was dead, Jason took the opportunity to recover the office of high priest from his brother Menelaus; and, with a thousand men, took the city of Jerusalem, drove his brother into the castle, and slew many he took for his enemies. Antiochus, hearing of this, concluded the whole nation of the Jews had revolted from him; and therefore took Judea in his way from Egypt, in order to suppress this rebellion; in the Apocrypha:
"5 Now when there was gone forth a false rumour, as though Antiochus had been dead, Jason took at the least a thousand men, and suddenly made an assault upon the city; and they that were upon the walls being put back, and the city at length taken, Menelaus fled into the castle: 6 But Jason slew his own citizens without mercy, not considering that to get the day of them of his own nation would be a most unhappy day for him; but thinking they had been his enemies, and not his countrymen, whom he conquered. 11 Now when this that was done came to the king's ear, he thought that Judea had revolted: whereupon removing out of Egypt in a furious mind, he took the city by force of arms," (2 Maccabees 5)
and he shall do exploits; in Jerusalem, very wicked ones indeed! he ordered his soldiers to slay all they met, without mercy, old and young, women and children, virgins and young men; and in three days' time eighty thousand were slain, forty thousand bound, and no less sold: he went into the temple, and took all the vessels in it, and all the gold and silver, and hidden treasures of it, to the value of a thousand and eight hundred talents, in the Apocrypha:
"12 And commanded his men of war not to spare such as they met, and to slay such as went up upon the houses. 13 Thus there was killing of young and old, making away of men, women, and children, slaying of virgins and infants. 14 And there were destroyed within the space of three whole days fourscore thousand, whereof forty thousand were slain in the conflict; and no fewer sold than slain. 15 Yet was he not content with this, but presumed to go into the most holy temple of all the world; Menelaus, that traitor to the laws, and to his own country, being his guide: 16 And taking the holy vessels with polluted hands, and with profane hands pulling down the things that were dedicated by other kings to the augmentation and glory and honour of the place, he gave them away. 21 So when Antiochus had carried out of the temple a thousand and eight hundred talents, he departed in all haste unto Antiochia, weening in his pride to make the land navigable, and the sea passable by foot: such was the haughtiness of his mind." (2 Maccabees 5)
"23 He took also the silver and the gold, and the precious vessels: also he took the hidden treasures which he found. 24 And when he had taken all away, he went into his own land, having made a great massacre, and spoken very proudly. 25 Therefore there was a great mourning in Israel, in every place where they were;" (1 Maccabees 1)
and return to his own land; having done these exploits, he made what haste he could to Antioch, with the spoils of Egypt, and the plunder of the temple at Jerusalem, in the Apocrypha:
"And when he had taken all away, he went into his own land, having made a great massacre, and spoken very proudly." (1 Maccabees 1:24)
"So when Antiochus had carried out of the temple a thousand and eight hundred talents, he departed in all haste unto Antiochia, weening in his pride to make the land navigable, and the sea passable by foot: such was the haughtiness of his mind." (2 Maccabees 5:21)
Ver. 29. At the time appointed he shall return, and come toward the south, &c.] At the time appointed of God, he should return from Syria again to Egypt; which was his third expedition thither, and was occasioned by the Alexandrians setting up the brother of Ptolemy Philometor for king; wherefore he hastened to Egypt with a large army, under a pretence of restoring the deposed king; but in reality to seize the kingdom for himself:
but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter; this expedition should not succeed so well as the two former, as it did not; he could not carry his point, neither subdue Egypt, nor get any of the two brothers into his hands, as he had done before; the reason of which follows:
Ver. 30. For the ships of Chittim shall come against him, &c.] Ptolemy king of Egypt, and his brother, being come to an agreement, sent an embassy to the senate of Rome, to implore their help and assistance against Antiochus, who was preparing to besiege them in Alexandria; upon which they sent their ambassadors Caius Popilius Laenas, Caius Decimus, and Caius Hostilius, in ships from Macedonia, or Greece, to Antiochus, to require him to desist from making war upon Ptolemy, and that he quit the land of Egypt; see Num 24:24. Macedonia is called the land of Cittim, in the Apocrypha:
"And it happened, after that Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian, who came out of the land of Chettiim, had smitten Darius king of the Persians and Medes, that he reigned in his stead, the first over Greece," (1 Maccabees 1:1)
"Beside this, how they had discomfited in battle Philip, and Perseus, king of the Citims, with others that lifted up themselves against them, and had overcome them:" (1 Maccabees 8:5)
Jarchi, Aben Ezra, Saadiah, and Jacchiades, interpret it of the Romans; and, according to Gorionides, Cittim are the Romans; and Jerom here interprets them of them; and Bochart has proved at large that they are meant. The word seems to be used both of Grecians and Romans, and here of Romans in Grecian ships:
therefore he shall be grieved, and return; being obliged to it, sore against his will: as soon as he saw Popilius, with whom he had contracted a friendship while he was an hostage at Rome, he offered his hand to kiss; but Popilius refused it, and observed that private friendship should give way to public interest; and then produced the decree of the senate, and delivered it to him, and required his answer; but Antiochus delaying, telling him he would consult his friends, Popilius, with a rod in his hand, drew a circle round him, and bid him consult his friends directly; adding that he should not stir from that circle till he had given a positive answer; which roughness struck him, and, hesitating a little, he replied he would obey the senate, as Justin, Livy, Velleius Paterculus, and other historians, relate; and upon which he at once departed with his army, though fretted and vexed to the last degree:
and have indignation against the holy covenant; the Jews, God's covenant people; on whom he gratified his revenge, sending Apollonius, with an army of twenty two thousand men, to whom he gave orders to slay the men, and sell the women and children; and who committed many outrages in the city and temple: now it was the daily sacrifice was made to cease, and the abomination of desolation set up, as in the following verse, and all that done predicted in Dan 8:10-12, this was two years after his former expedition into Egypt, and the havoc he made upon his return from thence, and in the eighth year of his reign, and one hundred and forty fifth of the Seleucidae; in the Apocrypha:
"And spake peaceable words unto them, but all was deceit: for when they had given him credence, he fell suddenly upon the city, and smote it very sore, and destroyed much people of Israel." (1 Maccabees 1:30)
"He sent also that detestable ringleader Apollonius with an army of two and twenty thousand, commanding him to slay all those that were in their best age, and to sell the women and the younger sort:" (2 Maccabees 5:24)
so shall he do; such wicked deeds as before declared, in his wrath and fury against the Jews, being provoked at his disappointment in Egypt:
he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant: apostate Jews, who had renounced their religion, forsook the law of God, and the ordinances of his worship, and turned Heathens; of whom it is said, agreeably to the language of this prophecy, and seemingly with a view to it,
that they made themselves uncircumcised, and departed from the holy covenant, in the Apocrypha:
"And made themselves uncircumcised, and forsook the holy covenant, and joined themselves to the heathen, and were sold to do mischief." (1 Maccabees 1:15)
with these Antiochus kept an intelligence, and held a correspondence, in order not only to know the affairs of the Jews from time to time, but to draw them off from their religion, and propagate Heathenism among them; such as Jason, Menelaus, and others; in the Apocrypha:
"12 So this device pleased them well. 13 Then certain of the people were so forward herein, that they went to the king, who gave them licence to do after the ordinances of the heathen: 14 Whereupon they built a place of exercise at Jerusalem according to the customs of the heathen: 15 And made themselves uncircumcised, and forsook the holy covenant, and joined themselves to the heathen, and were sold to do mischief. 43 Yea, many also of the Israelites consented to his religion, and sacrificed unto idols, and profaned the sabbath. 44 For the king had sent letters by messengers unto Jerusalem and the cities of Juda that they should follow the strange laws of the land, 45 And forbid burnt offerings, and sacrifice, and drink offerings, in the temple; and that they should profane the sabbaths and festival days:" (1 Maccabees 1)
Ver. 31. And arms shall stand on his part, &c.] Powerful armies sent by him into Judea; garrisons of soldiers placed in Jerusalem; mighty generals and commanders who fought for him, as Lysias, Philip the Phrygian, Andronicus, Apollonius, Bacchides, and others:
and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength; the temple, which stood in Jerusalem, a fortified city, and was itself a building strong and stable; and especially it was so called, because here the mighty God had his residence, the symbol of which was the ark of his strength, and here he gave strength unto his people: this holy place, sacred to his worship and service, the commanders and soldiers of Antiochus defiled by entering into it, who were men unholy and unclean; by making it a place of luxury and rioting, of whoredom, and all manner of uncleanness; by bringing things into it which were not lawful, and filling the altar with what was abominable, in the Apocrypha:
"4 For the temple was filled with riot and revelling by the Gentiles, who dallied with harlots, and had to do with women within the circuit of the holy places, and besides that brought in things that were not lawful. 5 The altar also was filled with profane things, which the law forbiddeth. (2 Maccabees 6)
particularly by erecting a high place upon the altar, and sacrificing swine upon it, as Josephus relates; with which agrees what is said of Antiochus, in the Apocrypha in is written that he ordered:
"46 And pollute the sanctuary and holy people: 47 Set up altars, and groves, and chapels of idols, and sacrifice swine's flesh, and unclean beasts:" (1 Maccabees 1)
and shall take away the daily sacrifice; the sacrifice of the lamb in the morning, and in the evening, which the priests were hindered from offering, by the crowds of Heathens in the temple; or prohibited by the order of Antiochus; for he forbad burnt offerings, sacrifice, and libation, to be made in the temple, in the Apocrypha:
"Set up altars, and groves, and chapels of idols, and sacrifice swine's flesh, and unclean beasts:" (1 Maccabees 1:47)
and Josephus expressly says, that he forbad the daily sacrifices to be offered, which were used to be offered to God, according to the law: and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate; either a garrison of Heathen soldiers in the temple, which drove the priests and people from it, and made it desolate; or rather an idol in it, it being usual in Scripture to call idols abominations, as they are to God and all good men; the image of Jupiter Olympius, as is thought, which was placed upon the altar of God by Antiochus, on the fifteenth day of the month Cisieu, in the hundred and forty fifth year of the Seleucidae, and is called the abomination of desolations, in the Apocrypha:
"And whosoever was found with any the book of the testament, or if any committed to the law, the king's commandment was, that they should put him to death." (1 Maccabees 1:57)
and the temple itself was ordered to be called the temple of Jupiter Olympius, in the Apocrypha:
"And to pollute also the temple in Jerusalem, and to call it the temple of Jupiter Olympius; and that in Garizim, of Jupiter the Defender of strangers, as they did desire that dwelt in the place." (2 Maccabees 6:2)
and what with this and other things that were done, the temple and city were left desolate; for it is said in the Apocrypha:
"Now Jerusalem lay void as a wilderness, there was none of her children that went in or out: the sanctuary also was trodden down, and aliens kept the strong hold; the heathen had their habitation in that place; and joy was taken from Jacob, and the pipe with the harp ceased." (1 Maccabees 3:45)
It may be rendered, "the abomination that maketh astonished"; for it struck the people of the Jews with astonishment; it amazed and stupefied them, when they saw such an idol placed in their temple. The Karaite Jews, who by the others are called Sadducees, give a very foreign interpretation of this passage, which Aben Ezra observes:
"it is marvellous (says he) that the wise men of the Sadducees should explain this of future time, and say that this sanctuary is Mecca, where the Ishmaelites or Turks keep a feast; "the daily sacrifice", to be removed, their five prayers; and the "abomination" set up is their idolatrous worship."
Sir Isaac Newton understands all this of the Romans, and their building a temple to Jupiter Capitolinus, where the temple in Jerusalem had stood.
Ver. 32. And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall be corrupted by flatteries, &c.] That forsook the law of God, the book of the covenant, and did things contrary to it; and particularly violated the covenant of circumcision, drawing on the foreskin, and becoming uncircumcised; as well as rejected other ordinances of religious worship the Jews by covenant were obliged to observe: these apostates Antiochus corrupted by good words and fair speeches, by gifts and presents; and they became his tools, to do his pleasure, and were his instruments to seduce the Jews to renounce their religion, and give in to his idolatry; such as Jason, Menelaus, and others; in the Apocrypha:
"Now when the kingdom was established before Antiochus, he thought to reign over Egypt that he might have the dominion of two realms." (1 Maccabees 1:16)
"Now such was the height of Greek fashions, and increase of heathenish manners, through the exceeding profaneness of Jason, that ungodly wretch, and no high priest;" (2 Maccabees 4:13)
"Yet was he not content with this, but presumed to go into the most holy temple of all the world; Menelaus, that traitor to the laws, and to his own country, being his guide:" (2 Maccabees 5:15)
"But they that had the charge of that wicked feast, for the old acquaintance they had with the man, taking him aside, besought him to bring flesh of his own provision, such as was lawful for him to use, and make as if he did eat of the flesh taken from the sacrifice commanded by the king;" (2 Maccabees 6:21)
but the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits; such who knew the Lord God of Israel to be the true God, and owned and acknowledged him as such; and not only professed him, but served and worshipped him, having a spiritual knowledge of him, and communion with him; and therefore could not be drawn off from him and his worship by flatteries or frowns, by promises or menaces: these were strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might; they held fast their religion, and the profession of it, and were proof against all allurements or threatenings, and endured racks and tortures, all sorts of punishment, and death in every shape, with the greatest constancy and courage; such as Eleazar, the mother and her seven sons, and others; as well as others did many valiant actions in the defence of themselves and country, as Mattathias, Judas Maccabaeus, and his brethren; to which heroic actions the apostle refers in Heb 11:34-37, so Josephus says,
"that many of the Jews indeed, some willingly, and others through fear of punishment, obeyed the king's commands; but the more approved, and those of generous minds, had a greater regard to the customs of their country than to the punishment threatened to the disobedient; and for this being continually harassed, and enduring grievous punishments, died; some were scourged, and their bodies mutilated, and being yet alive and breathing, were crucified; women and their children, whom they crucified, were by the king's orders strangled, and hanged about the necks of their parents that were crucified;"
In the Apocrypha:
"60 At which time according to the commandment they put to death certain women, that had caused their children to be circumcised. 61 And they hanged the infants about their necks, and rifled their houses, and slew them that had circumcised them. 62 Howbeit many in Israel were fully resolved and confirmed in themselves not to eat any unclean thing. 63 Wherefore the rather to die, that they might not be defiled with meats, and that they might not profane the holy covenant: so then they died. 64 And there was very great wrath upon Israel." (1 Maccabees 1)
Ver. 33. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many, &c.] Such as had a better understanding of divine things than others, had more light and knowledge in the sacred Scriptures, in the law of God, and in his mind and will, and were capable of teaching others; and such as these the Lord raises up among his people in the worst of times, in the times of the greatest apostasy and declension; and these are enabled to perform their duty, to instruct the people in theirs, teach them what they should do, and how they should behave; exhort them to retain the doctrines and ordinances of their holy religion, and not embrace the doctrines and inventions of men, will worship, superstition, and idolatry; and so they instructed the ignorant, strengthened the weak, and established the wavering; such were Mattathias the priest of Modin, and Eleazar, one of the chief scribes, in the Apocrypha:
"In those days arose Mattathias the son of John, the son of Simeon, a priest of the sons of Joarib, from Jerusalem, and dwelt in Modin." (1 Maccabees 2:1)
"Eleazar, one of the principal scribes, an aged man, and of a well favoured countenance, was constrained to open his mouth, and to eat swine's flesh." (2 Maccabees 6:18)
Auk applies this to the times of the apostles, who he thinks are here meant; so Sir Isaac Newton:
yet they shall fall by the sword; by the sword of Antiochus and his soldiers; as multitudes of the Jews did, even both the instructors and the instructed, who would not comply with his orders:
and by flame; some were burnt alive in caves, where they fled for shelter; and others as the mother and her seven sons, were cast into heated caldrons of brass; in the Apocrypha:
"And others, that had run together into caves near by, to keep the sabbath day secretly, being discovered by Philip, were all burnt together, because they made a conscience to help themselves for the honour of the most sacred day." (2 Maccabees 6:11)
"3 Then the king, being in a rage, commanded pans and caldrons to be made hot: 4 Which forthwith being heated, he commanded to cut out the tongue of him that spake first, and to cut off the utmost parts of his body, the rest of his brethren and his mother looking on. 5 Now when he was thus maimed in all his members, he commanded him being yet alive to be brought to the fire, and to be fried in the pan: and as the vapour of the pan was for a good space dispersed, they exhorted one another with the mother to die manfully, saying thus," (2 Maccabees 7)
by captivity; so it is expressly said of Antiochus, that he carried captive women and children and at another time ordered the women and children to be sold for slaves, in the Apocrypha:
"Insomuch that the inhabitants of Jerusalem fled because of them: whereupon the city was made an habitation of strangers, and became strange to those that were born in her; and her own children left her." (1 Maccabees 1:38)
"He sent also that detestable ringleader Apollonius with an army of two and twenty thousand, commanding him to slay all those that were in their best age, and to sell the women and the younger sort:" (2 Maccabees 5:24)
and by spoil many days; being plundered of their substance, their houses rifled, and their goods carried away; and this distress lasted "days", a short time only; Josephus reckons it at three years and a half. All this Cocceius interprets of the persecutions of the Christians by the Romans; and likewise Sir Isaac Newton.
Ver. 34. Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help, &c.] When the Jews shall be thus harassed and distressed by Antiochus and his armies, to the ruin of many, by the several sorts of punishments inflicted on them; they should be helped and eased a little by Mattathias, a priest of Modin, and his five sons, commonly called the Maccabees; Porphyry himself interprets this of Mattathias: the help and assistance which he and his sons gave to the Jews was but "little"; if we consider they were persons of a small figure, began with a handful of men, and could do but little, especially at first; and though great exploits were done by them, considering their number and strength, yet they were not able to restore the land to its former glory and liberty; nor did this help of theirs last long, but the enemy returned with great fierceness and cruelty, and sadly afflicted the people of the Jews. Cocceius understands this of the help the Christians had under Constantius Chlorus, and Constantine the great; and so does Sir Isaac Newton, who agrees with him in interpreting this and the preceding verse: he interprets "arms", in Dan 11:31, of the Romans, and so Jacchiades; and makes this to be the beginning of the fourth kingdom that should "stand", "after him"; that is, after Antiochus; so the particle, he observes, is used in Dan 11:8, and it must be owned this is the sense in which it is sometimes used, of which Noldius has given instances: and this seems to agree with the thread of history, and introduces the Romans, who must have a place in this prophecy, in a very proper manner; and carries on the account of things, through the times of Christ, his apostles, the first ages of Christianity under persecution, until the rise of antichrist, Dan 11:36 and throws light upon the text in Matt 24:15, the language of which seems best to agree with Dan 11:31, and, if so, must respect something to be done, not in the times of Antiochus, but after the times of Christ.
But many shall cleave to them with flatteries; seeing Mattathias and his sons succeed, some of those, who had been apostates from their religion, or not heartily friends to it, joined them, but not sincerely; pretended to be on their side, and commended their bravery and courage; and being ambitious of honour and fame, took with them, in order to share the glory of their actions; such were Joseph the son of Zachariah, and Azarias, in the Apocrypha:
"56 Joseph the son of Zacharias, and Azarias, captains of the garrisons, heard of the valiant acts and warlike deeds which they had done. 57 Wherefore they said, Let us also get us a name, and go fight against the heathen that are round about us." (1 Maccabees 5)
and those under whose clothes were found idols, or what belonged to them, at Jamnia, when they were slain, in the Apocrypha:
"Now under the coats of everyone that was slain they found things consecrated to the idols of the Jamnites, which is forbidden the Jews by the law. Then every man saw that this was the cause wherefore they were slain." (2 Maccabees 12:40)
and Rhodocus, a soldier of the Jewish army, who betrayed their secrets, in the Apocrypha:
"But Rhodocus, who was in the Jews' host, disclosed the secrets to the enemies; therefore he was sought out, and when they had gotten him, they put him in prison." (2 Maccabees 13:21)
Cocceius applies this to antichrist and his followers pretending to be for Christ and his church, but were not.
Ver. 35. And some of them of understanding shall fall, &c.] Not into sin, or from the religion they profess; and the doctrines they have an understanding of, and have instructed others in; but into distresses and calamities for their steadfast adherence to the word, worship, and ordinances of God:
to try them, and purge and make them white; to try their faith, patience, and other graces, and whether they would hold fast their profession, and persevere in the good ways of God; and to purge and separate them from others, that were like chaff, hypocrites, that so they might be manifest, both the one and the other; and these good men appear to be sincere and upright: moreover, the best of men have their dross, and chaff, and spots, to be removed from them; and this is one way of doing it, even by afflictions: the allusion, in the first word, is to the melting, purifying, and refining of metals, gold and silver; the second to the winnowing of a grain floor, and separating the chaff from the wheat; and the third to the cleansing and whitening of cloths, and taking the spots out of them by the fuller. Afflictions are the furnace in which the Lord refines and purifies his people; the fan with which he purges his floor; and the fuller's soap with which he makes his people white; by all this the iniquity of Jacob is purged, and the fruit of it is to take away sin, so that afflictions are not hurtful, but beneficial to the saints, even those more violent ones, severe persecutions.
Even to the time of the end; because it is yet for a time appointed; these distresses, calamities, and persecutions, would have an end, and the time for it was appointed of God; as yet it was not come, but quickly would, and then an end would be put to the third or Grecian monarchy; a hint of the Roman power over that being given, hence we have no further account of Antiochus or his sons. Very remarkable are the words of Aemilius Sara,
"the Assyrians first were possessors of monarchy; then the Medes; afterwards the Persians; then the Macedonians; from that time the kings, Philip and Antiochus, who sprung from the Macedonians, being conquered, not long after Carthage was subdued, the supreme power of empire came to the Roman people;"
of whom, under one character or another, the following part of the prophecy is chiefly to be understood. So another historian says, Antiochus being drove out of Asia, the Romans first set footing there; and another observes, that Antiochus being defeated by L. Cornelius Scipio, he took the name of Asiaticus, because he had conquered Asia; as his brother was called Africanus, from his subduing Africa: wherefore Asia and Africa being now in the hands of the Romans, the supreme power might well be said to be with them; and therefore, henceforward, are only spoken of, and particularly the Roman antichrist.
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