by Sir Robert Anderson
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The Coming Prince
Sir Robert Anderson
MISCELLANEOUS: WHO AND WHEN
ARTAXERXES LONGIMANUS AND THE CHRONOLOGY OF HIS REIGN
So thorough is the unanimity with which the Artaxerxes of Nehemiah is now admitted
to be Longimanus, that it is no longer necessary to offer proof of it. Josephus indeed
attributes these events to Xerxes, but his history of the reigns of Xerxes and Artaxerxes
is so hopelessly in error as to be utterly worthless. In fact he transposes the events
of these respective reigns (see, Ant. 11., caps 5: and 7.) Nehemiah's master
reigned not less than thirty-two years (Nehemiah 13:6); and his reign was subsequent
to that of Darius Hystaspes (comp. Ezra 6:1 and 7:1), and prior to that of Darius
Nothus (Nehemiah 12:22). He must, therefore, be either Longimanus or Mnemon, for
no other king after Darius Hystaspes reigned thirty-two years, and it is certain
Nehemiah's mission was not so late as the twentieth of Artaxerxes Mnemon, viz., B.C.
This appears, first, from the general tenor of the history; second, because this
date is later than that of Malachi, whose prophecy must have been considerably later
than the time of Nehemiah; and third, because Eliashib, who was high priest when
Nehemiah came to Jerusalem, was grandson of Jeshua, who was high priest in the first
year of Cyrus (Nehemiah 3:1; 12:10; Ezra 2:2; 3:2); and from the first year of Cyrus
(B.C. 536), to the twentieth of Artaxerxes Longimanus (B.C. 445), was ninety-one
years, leaving room for precisely three generations.
Moreover, the eleventh chapter of Daniel, if read aright, affords conclusive
proof that the prophetic era dated from the time of Longimanus. The second verse
is generally interpreted as though it were but a disconnected fragment of history,
leaving a gap of over 130 years between it and the third verse, whereas the chapter
is a consecutive prediction of events within the period of the seventy weeks.
There were to be yet (i.e., after the issuing of the decree to build Jerusalem)
"three kings in Persia." These were Darius Nothus (mentioned in Nehemiah
12:22), Artaxerxes Mnemon, and Ochus; the brief reigns of Xerxes II., Sogdianus,
and Arogus being overlooked as being, what in fact they were, utterly unimportant.
and indeed two of them are omitted in the Canon of Ptolemy. "The fourth"
(and last) king was Darius Codomanus, whose fabulous wealth the accumulated
horde of two centuries attracted the cupidity of the Greeks. What sums of money
Alexander found in Susa is unknown, but the silver ingots and Hermione purple he
seized after the battle of Arbela were worth over £ 20, 000, 000. Verse 2 thus reaches to the close of
the Persian Empire; verse 3 predicts the rise of Alexander the Great; and verse 4
refers to the division of his kingdom among his four generals.
1. Encyc. Brit., 9th
ed., title "Artaxerxes."
According to Clinton (F. H., vol. 2., p. 380) the death of Xerxes was in July B.C.
465, and the accession of Artaxerxes was in February B.C. 464. Artaxerxes of course
ignored the usurper's reign, which intervened, and reckoned his own reign from the
day of his father's death. Again, of course, Nehemiah, being an officer of the court,
followed the same reckoning. Had he computed his master's reign from February 464,
Chisleu and Nisan could not have fallen in the same regnal year (Nehemiah 1:1; 2:1).
No more could they, had be, according to the Jewish practice, computed it from Nisan.
2. W. K. Loftus, "Chaldea
and Susiana," p. 341.
Dr. Pusey here remarks,
3. Daniel, p. 160.
- "The accession of Artaxerxes after the seven months of the assassin Artabanus
would fall in the middle of 464. For it is clear from the sequel of the months in
Nehemiah 1:2., and Ezra 7:7- 9, that Chisleu fell earlier in the year of his reign
than Nisan, and Nisan than Ab. Then the reign of Artaxerxes must have begun between
Ab and Chisleu B.C. 464."
This is altogether a mistake. As already mentioned, Chisleu and Nisan fell in
the same regnal year; and so also did Nisan and the first day of Ab (Ezra
7:8, 9). But the 1st Ab of B.C. 459 (the seventh year of Artaxerxes) fell on or about
the 16th July, and therefore the passages quoted are perfectly consistent with the
received chronology, and serve merely to enable us to fix the dates more accurately
still, and to decide that the death of Xerxes and the epoch of the reign of Artaxerxes
should be assigned to the latter part of July B.C. 465.
Those who are not versed in what writers on prophecy have written on this subject,
will be surprised to learn that this date is assailed as being nine years too late.
All chronologers are agreed that Xerxes began to reign in B.C. 485, and that the
death of Artaxerxes was in B.C. 423; and so far as I know, no writer of repute, unbiased
by prophetic study, assigns as the epoch of the latter king's reign any other date
than B.C. 465 (or 464; see ante).
This is the date according to the Canon of Ptolemy, which has been followed by all
historians; and it is confirmed by the independent testimony of Julius Africanus,
who, in his Chronagraphy, describes the twentieth year of Artaxerxes as the 115th year of the Persian
Empire [reckoned from Cyrus, B.C. 559] and the fourth year of the eighty-third Olympiad.
This fixes B.C. 464 as the first year of that king, as it was in fact the year of
his actual accession.
It was Archbishop Ussher who first raised a doubt upon the point. Lecturing on "Daniel's
Seventies" in Trinity College, Dublin, in the year 1613, difficulties connected with
his subject suggested an inquiry which led him ultimately to put back the reign of
Longimanus to B.C. 474, which is the date given in his Annales Vet. Test.
The same date was afterwards adopted by Vitringa, and a century later by Kruger.
But Hengstenberg is regarded as the champion of this view, and the treatise thereon
in his Chronology omits nothing that can be urged in its favor.
4. On this point I have
consulted the author of The Five Great Monarchies, a book to which frequent
reference is made in these pages, and I am indebted to Canon Rawlinson's courtesy
and kindness for the following reply: "I think you may safely say that chronologers
are now agreed that Xerxes died in the year B. C. 465. The Canon of Ptolemy, Thucydides,
Diodorus, and Manetho are agreed; the only counter authority being Ctesias, who is
5. Ante-Nicene Christian
Library, vol. 9., second part, p 184.
The objections raised to the received chronology depend mainly on the statement of
Thucydides, that Artaxerxes was on the throne when Themistocles reached the Persian
Court; for it is urged that the flight of Themistocles could not have been so late
as B.C. 464. But, as Dr. Pusey remarks,
"they have not made any impression on our English writers who have treated
of Grecian history." In common with the German writers, Dr. Pusey ignores Ussher altogether in
the controversy, though Dr. Tregelles rightly claims for him the foremost place for scholarship among those who
have advocated the earlier date. The apparent difficulty of making the prophecy and
the chronology agree has led Dr. Pusey, following Prideaux, in opposition to Scripture,
to fix the seventh year of Artaxerxes as the epoch of the seventy weeks, while it
induced Dr. Tregelles sheltering behind Ussher's name, to adopt the B.C. 455 date for the twentieth
year of that king's reign. Bishop Lloyd when affixing Ussher's dates to our English
Bible reverted to the received chronology when dealing with the book of Nehemiah.
6. Works, vol. 15., p.
7. Arnold's trans., pp.
7-2. Kruger's arguments are
reviewed by Clinton in F. H., 2., p. 217.
It is unnecessary to enter here upon a discussion of this question. Nothing short
of a reproduction of the entire argument in favor of the new chronology would satisfy
its advocates; and for my present purpose it is a sufficient answer to that argument,
that although everything has been urged which ingenuity and erudition can suggest
in support of it, it has been rejected by all secular writers. Unfulfilled prophecy
is only for the believer, but prophecy fulfilled has a voice for all. It is fortunate,
therefore, that the proof of the fulfillment of this prophecy of the seventy weeks
does not depend on an elaborate disquisition, like that of Hengstenberg's, to disturb
the received chronologies.
8. Daniel, p. 171,
9. See ex. gr. Mitford,
2., 226; Thirlwall, 2., 428; Grote, 5., 379; and of Germans see Niebuhr, Lect.
Anc. Hist. (Schmitz ed.), 2., 180-181.
10. Daniel, p. 266.
11. Ibid. p. 99,
One point only I will notice. It is urged in favor of limiting the reign of Xerxes
to eleven years, that no event is mentioned in connection with his reign after his
eleventh year. The answer is obvious: first, that it is to Greek historians, writing
after his time, that we are mainly indebted for our knowledge of Persian history;
and secondly, the battles of Thermopylae and Salamis may well have induced a king
of the temperament and character of Xerxes to give himself up to a life of indolent
ease and sensual enjoyment.
But further, the twelfth year of Xerxes is expressly mentioned in the book of Esther
(3:7), and the narrative proves that his reign continued to the twelfth (Jewish)
month of his thirteenth year. Hengstenberg answers this by asserting that it was customary with Hebrew writers
to include in a regnal era the years of a co-regency where it existed, and he appeals
to the case of Nebuchadnezzar as a proof of such a custom. If Nebuchadnezzar's reign was in fact reckoned thus, this
solitary instance would establish no such custom, for it would prove nothing more
than that the Jews in Jerusalem, knowing nothing of the politics or customs of Babylon,
reckoned Nebuchadnezzar's reign upon a system of their own. But I believe this theory
about Nebuchadnezzar's reign is a thorough blunder. If in the sacred history he is
called King of Babylon, in connection with his first invasion of Judea, it is because
the writers were his contemporaries. "Lord Beaconsfield was Chancellor of the
Exchequer in Lord Derby's administrations" is a statement which will be rightly
condemned as an anachronism if made by the historian of the future, but it is precisely
the language which would have been used by a contemporary writer acquainted with
the living statesman. I have shown elsewhere (App. 1., ante) that the Jews
reckoned Nebuchadnezzar's reign according to their own custom, as dating from the
Nisan preceding his accession. Unless, therefore, some entirely new case can be made
in support of the co-regency theory of Xerxes's reign, it remains that the book of
Esther is absolutely conclusive against Ussher's date, and in favor of the received
12. The Feast of Purim derives
its name from the fact that when Haman planned the destruction of the people of Mordecai,
he cast lots day by day to find "a lucky day "for the execution of his
scheme. A whole year the twelfth year of Xerxes was thus consumed (Esther 3:7);
and the decree for the slaughter of the Jews was made on the 13th Nisan in the following
year (ibid. 3:12). The decree in their favor was granted two months later
(ibid. 8:9), and the king is mentioned in connection with the execution of
that decree in the twelfth month of that year (ibid. 9: l, 13-17). The reign
of Xerxes therefore certainly continued to the last month of his thirteenth year.
The last chapter of Esther, moreover, clearly shows that his reign did not end with
the events recorded in the book, but that his promotion of Mordecai was the beginning
of a new era in his career.
13. Christology (Arnold's
trans.), Ch. 737.
DATE OF THE NATIVITY
IN treating of the date of the birth of our Lord, the arguments in favor of an
earlier date than that which is here adopted are too well known to be left unnoticed.
Dr. Farrar states the question thus in his Life of Christ (Excursus 1.):--
- "Our one most certain datum is obtained from the tact that Christ was born
before the death of Herod the Great. The date of that event is known with absolute
certainty, for (2) Josephus tells us that he died thirty-seven years after he had
been declared king by the Romans. Now it is known that he was declared King A. U.
C. 714; and, therefore, since Josephus always reckons his years from Nisan to Nisan,
and counts the initial and terminal fractions of Nisan as complete years, Herod must
have died between Nisan A. U. C. 750 and Nisan A. U. C. 751, i.e., between
B.C. 4 and B.C. 3 of our era. (2.) Josephus says that on the night in which Herod
ordered Judas, Matthias, and their abettors to be burnt, there was an eclipse of
the moon. Now this eclipse took place on the night of March 12th, B.C. 4, and Herod
was dead at least seven days before the Passover, which, if we accept the Jewish
reckoning, fell in that year on April 12th. But according to the clear indication
of the Gospels, Jesus must have been born at least forty days before Herod's death.
It is clear, therefore, that under no circumstances can the nativity have taken place
later than February B.C. 4."
14. Dr. Farrar's book has
done much to popularize a controversy which hitherto has interested only the few.
It may be well to notice, therefore, that his sweeping statement as to the date of
Herod's death is doubtful (see Clinton, Fasti Rom., A. D. 29), and
that Josephus does not always reckon reigns in the manner indicated.
This passage is a typical illustration of the relative value attached to the statements
of sacred and profane historians. In the histories of Josephus an incidental mention
of an eclipse or of the length of a king's reign suffices to give "absolute
certainty," before which the clearest and most definite statements of Holy Writ
must give place, albeit they relate to matters of such transcendent interest to the
writers that even if the Evangelists be dismissed to the category of mere historians,
no mistake was possible.
The following is a more temperate statement of the question, by the Archbishop of
York, in an article (Jesus Christ) contributed to Smith's Bible Dictionary.
- "Herod the Great died, according to Josephus, in the thirty-seventh year
after he was appointed king. His elevation coincides with the consulship of Cn Domitius
Calvinus and C. Asinius Pollio, and this determines the date A. U. C. 714. There
is reason to think that in such calculations Josephus reckons the years from the
month Nisan to the same month, and also that the death of Herod took place in the
beginning of the thirty-seventh year, or just before the Passover; if then thirty-six
complete years are added, they give the year of Herod's death, A. U. C. 750."
According to this, the commonly received view, Herod's death took place within
the first six days of a Jewish year, and these days are reckoned as a complete year
in his regnal era. Now it is admitted that in computing time the Jews generally included
both the terminal units of a given period. A signal and well-known instance of this
is afforded by the words of the Lord Himself, when He declared He would lie in death
for three days and nights. What meaning did these words convey to Jews? Four-and-twenty
hours after His burial they came to Pilate and said, "We remember that that
deceiver said, while He was yet alive, 'After three days I will rise again';
command, therefore, that the sepulcher be made sure until the third day."
Had that Sunday passed
leaving the seal upon the tomb unbroken, the Pharisees would boldly have proclaimed
their triumph; whereas, by our modes of reckoning, the resurrection ought to have
been deferred till Monday night, or Tuesday morning.
Again, it may be assumed that Herod's accession dated in fact from B.C. 40,
and, therefore, that B.C. 4 was the thirty-seventh and last year of his reign. Further
it is probable he died shortly before a Passover. The question remains whether
his death occurred at the beginning or toward the close of the Jewish year.
15. Matthew 27:63, 64; comp.
2 Chronicles 10:5-12. "He said unto them, Come again unto me after three
so Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day?"
16. Whether such a system
of reckoning appears strange or natural depends on the habit of thought of the individual.
A professor of theology might have trouble in defending it in class, but a prison
chaplain would have no difficulty in explaining it to his congregation! Our own civil
day is a nuchthameron, beginning at midnight, and the
law takes no cognizance of a part of a day. Therefore in a sentence of three
days' imprisonment, the prescribed term is equal to seventy-two hours; but though
the prisoner seldom reaches the gaol till evening, the law holds him to have completed
a day's imprisonment the moment midnight strikes, and the gaoler may lawfully release
him the moment the prison is opened the second morning after. As a matter of fact
a prisoner committed for three days is seldom more than forty hours in gaol. This
mode of reckoning and speaking was as familiar to the Jew as it is to the habitues
of our police courts.
Josephus relates that when the event took place Archelaus remained in seclusion during
seven days, and then presented himself publicly to the people. His first reception
was not unfavorable, though he had to yield to many a popular demand then pressed
on him; and after the ceremonial, he "went and offered sacrifice to God, and
then betook himself to feast with his friends." Soon, however, discontent and
disaffection began to smolder and spread, and fresh demands were made upon the king.
To these again he yielded, though with less grace, instructing his general to remonstrate
with the people, and persuade them to defer their petitions till his return from
Rome. These appeals only increased the prevailing dissatisfaction, and a riot ensued.
The king still continued to parley with the seditious, but, "upon the
approach of the feast of unleavened bread," when the capital became thronged
with the Jews from the country, the state of things became so alarming that Archelaus
determined; to suppress the rioters by force of arms. This was "upon the
approach of the feast," and the Jews considered the Passover was "nigh
at hand" upon the eighth day of Nisan, when they repaired to Jerusalem for the
The Passover began the 14th Nisan. This final riot took place during the preceding
week. The earlier riot occurred before that again, £e., before the date of
the incursion of Jews for the festival, the 8th Nisan. This again was preceded by
some interval, measured from the day following the court mourning for Herod,
which had lasted seven days. The history, therefore, establishes conclusively that
Herod's death was more than fourteen days before the Passover, and therefore at
the close and not at the beginning of a Jewish year.
17. "When the people
were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread on the eighth day of the
month Xanthicus" (i. e., Nisan) (Jos., Wars, 6. 5, 3. Comp. John
11:55; 12:1). "The Jews' Passover was nigh at hand, and many went out of the
country up to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. Then Jesus six
days before the Passover came to Bethany."
But which year? His death must have been after the eclipse of 13th March,
B.C. 4 But the eclipse was
only a month before the Passover of that year, and his death was fourteen days at
least before the Passover, could then the events recorded by Josephus as occurring
in the interval between the eclipse and the king's death have taken place in a fortnight?
Let the reader turn to the Antiquities and judge for himself whether it be
possible. The natural inference from the history is that the death was not weeks
but months after the eclipse, and therefore, again, at the close of the year.
The correctness of this conclusion can be established by the application of the strictest
of all tests, that of referring to the historian's chronological statements.
18. There was no lunar eclipse
visible at Jerusalem between that of the 13th March B. C. 4 and that of 9th January
B. C. 1. Many writers take the latter to be the eclipse of Herod, and assign his
death to that year. That of B. C. 1 was a fine total eclipse, totality coming on
at fifteen minutes past midnight, whereas that of B. C. 4 was but a partial eclipse,
and the greatest magnitude was not till 2 h. 34 m. a. m. (Johnson, Eclipses Past
and Future). But though every consideration of this character points to B. C.
1 as the (late of Herod's death, the weight of evidence generally is in favor of
B. C. 4. Of recent writers, the former year is adopted by Dr. Geikie (Life of
Christ, 6th ed., p. 150), and notably by the late Mr. Bosanquet, who argues the
question in his Messiah the Prince, and more concisely in a paper read before
the Society of Biblical Archaeology on 6th June, 1871.
In his Wars (2:7, 3), Josephus assigns the banishment of Archelaus to the
ninth year of his government; in his later work (Ant., 17, 13, 3),
he states it was in his tenth year. And these dates are given with a definiteness
and in a manner which preclude the idea of a blunder. They are connected with the
narration of a dream in which Archelaus saw a number of ears of corn (nine in the
Wars, ten in the Antiquities), devoured by oxen, presaging that the
years of his rule were about to be brought abruptly to an end. Now whether a ruler
be Christian, Jew, or Turk, his ninth year is the year beginning with the eighth
anniversary of his government, and his tenth year that beginning with the ninth anniversary;
and it is mere casuistry to pretend that there is either mystery or difficulty in
the matter. It is evident that the difference between the two statements of the historian
is intentional, and that in his two histories he computed the Ethnarch's government
from two different epochs. But if Herod died in the first week of the Jewish year,
as these writers maintain, this would be impossible, for Archelaus's actual accession
would have synchronized with his accession according to Jewish reckoning. Whereas
if his government dated from the close of a Jewish year, A.D. 6 would be his ninth year in fact, but his tenth year according
to Mishna rule of computing reigns from Nisan.
In numerous treatises on this subject will be found an argument based on John 2:20,
"Forty and six years was this temple in building." According to Josephus
(it is urged), "Herod's reconstruction of the temple began in the eighteenth
year of his reign," and forty-six years from that date would fix A.D. 26 as the year in which
these words were spoken, and therefore as the first year of our Lord's ministry.
That writers of repute should have written thus may be described as a literary phenomenon.
Not only does Josephus not say what is thus attributed to him, but his narrative
disproves it. The foundation for the statement is that either in his eighteenth or
nineteenth year Herod made a speech proposing to rebuild the temple. But the historian adds,
that finding his intentions and promises thoroughly distrusted by the people, "the
king encouraged them, and told them he would not pull down their temple till all
things were gotten ready for building it up entirely again. And as he promised them
this beforehand, so he did not break his word with them, but got ready a thousand
wagons, that were to bring stones for the building, and chose out ten thousand of
the most skillful workmen, and bought a thousand sacerdotal garments for the priests,
and had some of them taught the art of stone-cutters, and others of carpenters,
and then began to build; but this was not till everything was well prepared
for the work." What length of time these preparations occupied, it is of course impossible
to decide, but if, as Lewin supposes, the work was begun at the Passover of B.C.
18, then forty-six years would bring us exactly to A.D. 29 the first Passover of
the Lord's ministry.
19. This is the year specified
by Dion Cassius for the Ethnarch's banishment. Clinton, F. H., A. D. 6.
20. Farrar, Life of Christ,
App. Exc. 1.
21. It depends on the meaning
of the word gegonotos in
the passage, whether the eighteenth or nineteenth year be intended. The narrative,
as a whole, points to the nineteenth year. Cf Lewin's Fasti Sacri, pp.
56: and 92.
22. Josephus, Ant., 15.
CONTINUOUS HISTORICAL SYSTEM OF PROPHETIC INTERPRETATION
THE historical interpreters of prophecy have grasped a principle the importance
of which is abundantly proved by the striking parallelisms between the visions of
the Apocalypse and the events of the history of Christendom. But not content with
this, they have on the one hand brought discredit on prophetic study by wild and
arrogant predictions about the end of the world, and on the other, they have reduced
their principle of interpretation to a system, and then degraded it to a hobby.
The result is fortunate in this respect, that the evil cannot fail to cure itself,
and the time cannot be far distant when the "continuous historical interpretation,"
in the form and manner in which its champions have propounded it, will be regarded
as a vagary of the past. The events of the first half of the present century produced
on the minds of Christians such an impression in its favor, that it bid fair to gain
general acceptance. But the late Mr. Elliott's great work has thoroughly exposed
its weaknesses. A perusal of the first five chapters of the Horae Apocalypticae
cannot fail to impress the reader with a sense of the genuineness and importance
of the writer's scheme, nor will he fail to appreciate the erudition displayed, and
the sobriety with which it is used. But when he passes from the commentary upon the
first five seals, to the account of the sixth seal, he must experience a revulsion
of feeling which will be strong just in proportion to his apprehension of the trueness
and solemnity of Holy Writ. Let any one read the last six verses of the sixth
chapter of Revelation, a passage the awful solemnity of which has scarcely a parallel
in Scripture, and with what feelings will he turn to Mr. Elliott's book to find that
the words are nothing more than a prediction of the downfall of paganism in the fourth
The words of the Apocalyptic vision in relation to the great day of Divine wrath
(Revelation 6:17), are the language of Isaiah (13:9, 10) respecting "the day
of the Lord," and again of Joel's prophecy (Joel 2:1, 30, 31, quoted by St.
Peter on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:16-20). Nor is this all. The twenty-fourth
chapter of St. Matthew is a Divine commentary upon the visions of the sixth chapter
of Revelation, and each of the seals has its counterpart in the Lord's predictions
of events preceding His second advent:, ending with the mention of these same terrible
convulsions of nature here described. Therefore, even if the mind be "educated"
up to the point of accepting such an interpretation of the vision of the sixth seal,
these other Scriptures remain to be accounted for.
Many other points in Mr. Elliott's scheme might be cited as equally faulty. Take
for example the labored essay on the subject of the two witnesses, culminating in
the amazing and-climax that their ascent to heaven (Revelation 11:12) was fulfilled
when Protestants obtained "an advancement to political dignity and power."
(Horae. Ap., 2., 410). Still more wild and reckless is his exposition of Revelation
12:5. "It seems clear" (he says) "that whatever the woman's hope in
her travail, the lesser consummation was the one figured in the man child's birth
and assumption, viz., the elevation of the Christians, first to recognition as
a body politic, then very quickly to the supremacy of the throne in the
Roman Empire" (vol. 3., 12). The reference to Wilberforce in connection with
Revelation 15: is almost grotesque (vol. 3., 430). And finally he drifts upon the
rock on which every man who follows this false system must inevitably be wrecked
the chronology of prophecy: proving by cumulative evidence that the year
1865 would usher in the millennium, or if not 1865, then 1877 or 1882 (vol.
"An apocalyptic commentary which explains everything is self-convicted of error."
This dictum of Dan. Alford's (Gr. Test.. Revelation 11:2) applies with full
force to Mr. Elliott's book. Maintaining as he does that these visions have received
their absolute and final fulfillment, he is bound to explain everything;" and
as the result these lucubrations mar a work which if recast by some intelligent student
of prophecy would be of the highest value. In days like these, when we have to contend
for the very words of Scripture, we cannot afford to dismiss them as harmless puerilities.
They have given an impetus to the skepticism of the age, and have encouraged Christian
men to treat the most solemn warnings of coming wrath as mere stage thunder.
Mr. Elliott's mantle appears now to have fallen upon the author of the Approaching
End of t/re Age. Mr. Grattan Guinness's treatise upon lunisolar cycles and epacts
will be deemed by many the most interesting and valuable portion of the work. The
study of it has confirmed an impression I have long entertained, that in some mystic
interpretation of the prophetic periods of Daniel, the chronology of Gentile supremacy
and of the Christian dispensation lies concealed. Professor Birks, however, justly
remarks, that it is "very doubtful whether much of the specialty on which Mr.
Guinness founds this part of his theory is not due to a partial selection unconsciously
made of some epact numbers out of many, and that the special relations of
the epacts to the numbers 6, 7, 8, 13, would probably disappear on a comprehensive
examination of all the epact numbers" (Thoughts on Sacred Prophecy, p.
It might also be remarked that with the latitude obtained by reckoning sometimes
in lunar years, sometimes in lunisolar years, and sometimes in ordinary Julian years,
the list of seeming chronological coincidences and parallelisms might be still further
increased. The period from the Council of Nice (A.D. 325) to the death of Gregory
XIII. (1585) was 1, 260 years. From the edict of Justinian (533) to the French Revolution
was 1, 260 years; and again from A.D. 606, when the Emperor Phocas conferred the
title of Pope on Boniface III., to the overthrow of the temporal power (1866-1870),
was also 1, 260 years. If these facts prove anything, they prove, not that the periods
mentioned are the fulfillment of Daniel's visions, for Daniel's visions relate to
the history of Judah, with which these events have nothing to do, but that the chronology
of such events is marked by cycles composed of multiples of seventy. Therefore, they
greatly strengthen the a priori presumption that this is a general characteristic
of "the tithes and seasons" as divinely planned, and that the visions will,
hereafter, be literally fulfilled. In a word, such proofs prove far too much for
the cause they are intended to support.
I have already noticed the transparent fallacy of sup posing that the ten-horned
beast and the Babylon of the Apocalypse can both be typical of Rome (p. 134,
ante). In the, Approaching End of the Age this fallacy is accepted
apparently without suspicion or misgiving, for the writer neither adopts nor improves
upon the pleasing romance by which Mr. Elliott attempts to conceal the absurdity
of such a view.
As the Harlot comes to her doom by the agency of the Beast, it is absolutely certain
that they are not identical; and every proof these writers urge to establish that
the Church of Rome is Babylon, is equally conclusive to prove that the Papacy is
not the Beast, the Man of Sin. Their whole system is like a house of cards which
falls to pieces the moment it is tried. As such books are read by many who are unversed
in history it may be well to repeat once more, that the division of the Roman earth
into ten kingdoms has never yet taken place. That it has been partitioned is plain
matter of history and of fact' that it has ever been divided into ten is a mere conceit
of writers of this school.
Of Daniel 9:24-27 Mr. Guinness writes, "From the then approaching command
to restore and to build again Jerusalem, to the coming of Messiah the Prince, was
to be seventy weeks" (p. 417). This is a typical instance of the looseness
of the historical school in dealing with Scripture. The words of the prophecy are,
"From the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto
the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks and threescore and two weeks."
As this error underlies
his entire exposition of the prophecy which forms the special subject of these pages,
it is needless to discuss it. He follows Prideaux in computing the weeks from the
seventh year of Artaxerxes.
23. See p. 39, ante.
Elliott's list of the ten kingdoms is the following: The Anglo-Saxons, Franks, Allmans,
Burgundians, Visigoths, Suevi, Vandals, Ostrogoths, Bavarians, and Lombards. If any
one can read the seventh chapter of Daniel and the thirteenth chapter of Revelation
and accept such an interpretation, there is really no common ground on which to discuss
Again, in common with almost all commentators he confounds the seventy years of Judah's
servitude with the seventy years of the desolations of Jerusalem. The prophecy he
quotes from Jeremiah 25 (p. 414) was given in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, whereas
the servitude began in his third year; and it foretold a judgment which fell seventeen
years; later It would seem ungracious to notice'. minor inaccuracies, such as that
of confounding Belshazzar with Nabonidus, the last king of Babylon.
24. I deprecate the idea
that my object is to review this or any other book. Were such my intention I could
point out other similar errors. Exodus gr., in Pt. III., chap. l, the writer
enumerates five points of identity between the Harlot and the Church of Rome, and
of these five the two last are sheer blunders, viz., "The minister of the
harlot makes fire to descend from heaven," "And the harlot requires
all to receive her mark." (Comp. Revelation 13:13, 16)
Such a book is useful in so far as it deals positively with the historical fulfillment
as a primary and partial realization of the prophecies; and as a full and fearless
indictment of the Church of Rome it is most valuable. But in the dogmatic negation
of a literal fulfillment, in the blind and obstinate determination to establish,
no matter at what cost to Scripture, that the Apocalypse has been "FULFILLED
in the events of the Christian era," such a work cannot fail to be dangerous
and mischievous. The real question at issue here is the character and value of the
Bible. If the views of these writers be just, the language of Holy Writ in such passages
as the close of the sixth chapter of Revelation is the most utter bombast. And if
wild exaggeration characterize one portion of the Scriptures, what confidence can
we have in any part? If the Great Day of Divine wrath, described in terms of unsurpassed
solemnity, were nothing but a brief crisis in the history of a campaign now long
past, the words which tell of the joy of the blessed and the doom of the impenitent
may after all be mere hyperbole, and the Christian's faith may be mere credulity.
THE TEN KINGDOMS
"PROPHECY is not given to enable us to prophesy," and no one who has
worthily pursued the study will fail to feel misgivings at venturing out upon the
tempting field of forecasting "things to come." By patient contemplation
we may clearly discern the main outlines of the landscape of the future; but "until
the day dawn," our apprehension of distances and details must be inadequate,
if not wholly false. The great facts of the future, so plainly revealed in Scripture,
have been touched on in preceding pages. For what follows here no deference is claimed
save what may be accorded to a "pious opinion" based on earnest and careful
Next to the restoration of the Jews, the most prominent political feature of the
future, according to Scripture, is the tenfold partition of the Roman earth. The
emphasis and definiteness with which ten kingdoms are specified, not only
in Daniel, but in the Revelation, forbid our interpreting the words as describing
merely a division of power such as has existed ever since the disruption of the Roman
Empire, though this is undoubtedly a feature of the prophecy. Babylon, Persia, Greece,
and Rome in turn sought to grasp universal dominion. That there should be a commonwealth
of nations living side by side at peace, was a conception that nothing in the history
of the world could have suggested.
The principal clew which Scripture affords upon the subject is the connection between
these kingdoms and the Roman Empire. But some latitude must probably be allowed as to boundaries, otherwise we
should have to choose between two equally improbable alternatives, namely, either
that our own nation shall have sunk to the position of a province, not even Ireland
remaining under her sway, or else that the England which is to be numbered among the ten kingdoms will
include the vast empire of which this island is the heart and center. May we not
indulge the hope that however far our nation may lapse in evil days to come from
the high place which, with all her faults, she has held as the champion of freedom
and of truth, she will be saved from the degradation of participating in the vile
confederacy of the latter days?
These considerations as to boundaries apply also to Germany, though in a lower degree;
and Russia is clearly out of the reckoning altogether. The special interest and importance
of these conclusions depend upon the fact that the antichrist is to be at first a
patron and supporter of the religious apostasy of Christendom, and that England,
Germany, and Russia are precisely the three first-rate Powers who are outside the
pale of Rome.
25. "The ten horns
out of this kingdom" (Daniel 7:24).
26. Ireland was entirely,
and Scotland was in part, outside the territorial limits of the Roman Empire.
But there is no doubt that Egypt, Turkey, and Greece will be numbered among the ten
kingdoms; and is it not improbable
in the extreme that these nations will ever accept the leadership of a man who is
to appear as the champion and patron of the Latin Church? A striking solution of
this difficulty will probably be found in the definite prediction, that while the
ten kingdoms will ultimately own his suzerainty, three of the ten will be
brought into subjection by force of arms (Daniel 7:24.)
Turning again to the West, the names of France, Austria, Italy, and Spain present
themselves; and seven of the kingdoms are thus accounted for. Can the list be completed?
Belgium, Switzerland, and Portugal remain, and these too would claim a place were
we dealing with the Europe of today; but as it is the future we are treating of,
any attempt to press the matter further seems futile. It has been confidently urged
by some that as the ten kingdoms were symbolized by the ten toes of Nebuchadnezzar's
image, five on either foot, five of these kingdoms must be developed in the East,
and five in the West. The argument is plausible, and possibly just; but its chief
force depends upon forgetting that in the prophet's view the Levant and not the Adriatic,
Jerusalem and not Rome, is the center of the world.
27. In Daniel 11:40, Egypt
and Turkey (or the Power which shall then possess Asia Millor) are expressly mentioned
by their prophetic titles as separate kingdoms at this very time.
To the scheme here indicated the objection may naturally be raised: Is it possible
that the most powerful nations of the world, England, Germany, and Russia, are to
have no part in the great drama of the last days? But it must be remembered, first,
that the relative importance of the great Powers may be different at the time when
these events shall be fulfilled, and secondly, that difficulties of this kind may
depend entirely on the silence of Scripture, or, in other words, on our own
ignorance. I feel bound to notice, however, that doubts which have been raised in
my mind regarding the soundness of the received interpretation of the seventh chapter
of Daniel point to a more satisfactory answer to the difficulties in question.
As the vision of the second chapter specifies the four empires which were successively
to rule the world, and as the seventh chapter also enumerates four "kingdoms,"
and expressly identifies the fourth of these with the fourth - kingdom of the earlier
vision, the inference appears legitimate that the scope of both visions is the same
throughout. And this conclusion is apparently confirmed by some of the details afforded
of the kingdoms typified by the lion, the bear, and the leopard. So strong indeed
is the prima facie case in support of this view, that I have not felt at liberty
to depart from it in the foregoing pages. At the same time I am constrained to own
that this case is less complete than it appears to be, and that grave difficulties
arise in connection with it; and the following observations are put forward tentatively
to promote inquiry in the matter:--
- 1st. Daniel 2 and 7 are both in the Chaldee portion
of the Book, and are therefore bracketed together, and separated from what follows.
This strengthens the presumption, therefore, which would obtain in any case, that
the later vision is not a repetition of the earlier one. Repetition is very rare
2nd. The date of the vision of the seventh chapter was
the first year of Belshazzar, and therefore only some two or three years before the
fall of the Babylonian empire. How then could the rise of that empire be the subject of the prophecy?
Verse 17 appears definite that the rise of all these kingdoms was future.
3rd. In the history of Babylonia there is nothing to
correspond with the predicted course of the first Beast, for it is scarcely legitimate
to suppose that the vision was a prophecy of the career of Nebuchadnezzar, whose
death had taken place upwards of twenty years before the vision was given. Moreover,
the transition from the lion with eagle's wings to the human condition, though it
may betoken decline in power, plainly typifies a signal rise morally and intellectually.
28. See Chron. Table, App.
4th. Neither is there in the history of Persia anything
answering to the bear-like beast with that precision and fullness which prophecy
demands. The language of the English version suggests a reference to Persia and Media;
but the true rendering appears to be: "It made for itself one dominion,"
instead of" It
raised up itself on one side."
5th. While the symbolism of the sixth verse seems at
first sight to point definitely to the Grecian Empire, it will appear upon a closer
examination that at its advent the leopard had four wings and four heads.
This was its primary and normal condition, and it was in this condition that "dominion
was given to it." This surely is very different from what Daniel 8:8 describes,
and what the history of Alexander's Empire realized, viz., the rise of a single power,
which in its decadence continued to exist in a divided state.
29. Tregelles, Daniel,
6th. Each of the three first empires of the second chapter
(Babylon, Persia, and Greece) was in turn destroyed and engulfed by its successor;
but the kingdoms of the seventh chapter all continued together upon the scene, though
"the dominion," was with the fourth (Daniel 7:12). Verse 3 seems to imply
that the four beasts came up together, and at all events there is nothing to suggest
a series of empires, each destroying its predecessor, though the symbolism of the
vision was (in contrast with that of chap. 2.) admirably adapted to represent this.
Compare the language of the next vision (Daniel 8:3-6).
7th. While the fourth beast is unquestionably Rome,
the language of the seventh and twenty-third verses leaves no doubt that it is the
Roman Empire in its revived and future phase. Without endorsing the views of Maitland,
Browne, etc., it must be owned that there was nothing in the history of ancient Rome
to correspond with the main characteristic of this beast unless the symbolism used
is to be very loosely interpreted. To "devour the earth," "tread it
down and break it in pieces," is fairly descriptive of other empires, but Ancient
Rome was precisely the one power which added government to conquest, and instead
of treading down and breaking in pieces the nations it subdued, sought rather to
mold them to its own civilization and polity.
All this and more might be added suggests that the entire vision of the seventh chapter may have a future
reference. We have already seen that sovereign power is to be with a confederacy
of ten nations ultimately heading up in one great Kaiser, and that several of what
are now the first-rate Powers are to be outside that confederacy: it is in the last
degree improbable, therefore, that such a supremacy will be attained save after a
tremendous struggle. At this moment the international politics of the old world center
in the Eastern Question, which is after all merely a question of the balance of power
in the Mediterranean. Now Daniel 7:2 expressly names the Mediterranean ("the
Great Sea") as the scene of the conflict between the four beasts. May not the
opening portion of the vision then refer to the gigantic struggle which must come
some day for supremacy in the Mediterranean, which will doubtless carry with it the
sovereignty of the world? The lion may possibly typify England, whose vast naval
power may be symbolized by the eagle's wings. The plucking of the wings may represent
the loss of her position as mistress of the seas. And if such should be the result
of the impending struggle, we would be eager to believe that her after course shall
be characterized by moral and mental pre-eminence: the beast, we read, was "made
to stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it."
If the British lion have a place in the vision, the Muscovite bear can scarcely be
omitted; and it may confidently be averred that the bear of the prophecy may represent
the Russia of today fully as well as the Persia of Cyrus and Darius. The definiteness
of the symbolism used in respect of the leopard (or panther) of the vision makes
it more difficult to refer this portion of the prophecy to Germany or any oilier
nation in particular. It would be easy to make out an ad captandum case in
support of such a view, but it may suffice to remark that if the prophecy be still
unfulfilled, its meaning will be incontestable when the time arrives.
30. The beasts of Daniel
7 are those named in Revelation 13:2, to represent the Antichrist. Though this admits
of the explanation given, it may also be used a strong argument in favor of the view
above set forth.
CHRONOLOGICAL DIAGRAM OF THE HISTORY OF JUDAH
- Anderson's "Chronological Diagram of the History of Judah" is a panoramic
view of both history and prophecy in relation to Daniel's people (Judah) and city
(Jerusalem), i.e., "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy
holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation
for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision
and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy" (Daniel 9:24). Anderson chronologically
integrates secular history, Jewish history, the history of Jerusalem and the Temple,
Daniel's vision of the "great image" (2:31), and the ministry of the prophets,
with a view toward the consummation of God's program of judgment during the Seventieth
Week (9:27). Simply studying the diagram to catch Anderson's meaning is enough to
provoke greater understanding of a subject that even the "angels desire to look
into" (1Peter 1:12).
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