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INTRODUCTION TO DANIEL 8
This chapter contains the vision of a ram and he goat, and the interpretation of it. It begins with observing the time and place of the vision, Daniel 8:1, then describes the ram seen; by the place of his situation; by his two horns; and by his pushing several ways with so much force and fury, that none could stand before him, or deliver: out of his hands, Daniel 8:3 next the he goat appears, and is described by the part from whence he came; the swiftness of his motion; the notable horn between his eyes; and his running to ram in great fury, smiting him between his horns, casting him to the ground, and trampling upon him, and none to deliver, Daniel 8:5 but, after waxing great and powerful, its horn was broken, and four more rose up in its stead, and out of one of them a little horn, Daniel 8:8 which little horn is described by its power and prevalence to the south and to the east, towards the pleasant land, the host of heaven, and the Prince of the host; and by it the stars were cast down and trampled upon, the daily sacrifice made to cease; the place of the sanctuary cast down, and truth itself, Daniel 8:9, and upon inquiry it appeared that these sacred things were to continue in this desolate condition unto 2300 days, Daniel 8:13. Daniel being desirous of knowing the meaning of this vision, the Angel Gabriel is ordered by Christ to give him an understanding of it; who drew near to him, and awaked him out of his sleep, and gave him the interpretation of it; Daniel 8:15, which is as follows; the ram; with two horns, signifies the kings of Media and Persia; the rough goat, the king of Greece; and the great horn the first king, Alexander the great; and the four horns, four kingdoms which rose up out of the Grecian empire upon his death, Daniel 8:20, and the little horn a king of fierce countenance, Antiochus Epiphanes; who is, described by his craft, and cunning, by his power and might, and by the destruction he should make; Daniel 8:23, this vision the angel assures the prophet was true, and bids him shut it up, since it was for many days, Daniel 8:26, upon which Daniel fainted, and was sick for a time; but afterwards recovered, so as to be able to do the king's business; but astonished at the vision himself, and which was not understood by others, Daniel 8:27.
In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar,.... Which some say t was the last year of his reign; but, according to Ptolemy's canon, he reigned seventeen years; and so says Josephus u; however, this, as well as the preceding vision, were seen before what happened recorded in the "fifth" and "sixth" chapters. The following vision was seen by Daniel, according to Bishop Usher w and Dean Prideaux x in the year of the world 3451 A.M., and 553 B.C. Mr. Bedford y places it in 552 B.C.; and Mr. Whiston z, very wrongly, in 537 B.C., two years after the death of Belshazzar. The prophet having, in the preceding chapters, related what concerned the Chaldeans, he wrote in the Chaldee language; but now, henceforward, writing of things which concerned the Jews more especially, and the church and people of God in later times, he writes in the Hebrew tongue.
A vision appeared unto me, even to me Daniel; and not another; which is said for the certainty of it; whether it was seen by him waking, or in a dream, as the former vision, is not certain; it seems rather as if he was awake at first, though he afterwards fell prostrate to the ground, and into a deep sleep; yet the Syriac version takes it to be a dream, and so renders the first clause of the next verse: "after that which appeared to me at the first"; at the beginning of Belshazzar's reign, in the first year of it, recorded in the preceding chapter; which was concerning the four monarchies in general, and particularly concerning the fourth or Roman monarchy, of which a large account is given; and the Chaldean monarchy being near at an end, here the two monarchies between, namely, the Persian and Grecian, are in this vision described.
t Seder Olam Rabba, c. 28. p. 81. u Antiqu. l. 10. c. 11. sect. 4. w Annales Vet. Test. A. M. 3451. x Connexion, &c part 1. p. 117. y Scripture Chronlogy, p. 710. z Chronological Tables, cent. 10.
And I saw in a vision,.... The following things:
and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam; not in reality, but so it seemed to him in the vision; as Ezekiel, when in Babylon, seemed in the visions of God to be at Jerusalem, Ezekiel 8:3. This city Shushan, or Susa, as it is called by other writers, and signifies a "lily", was so called from the plenty of lilies that grew about it, or because of the pleasantness of it; it was the metropolis of the country Susiana, which had its name from it, and was afterwards the royal seat of the kings of Persia. This was first made so by Cyrus; for Strabo a says, that he and the Persians having overcome the Medes, observing that their own country was situated in the extreme parts, and Susa more inward, and nearer to other nations, being, as he says, between Persia and Babylon, set his royal palace in it; approving both the nearness of the country, and the dignity of the city. Here the kings of Persia laid up their treasures, even prodigious large ones; hence Aristagoras told Cleomenes, that if he could take that city, he would vie, and might contend, with Jupiter for riches b; for hither Cyrus carried whatever money he had in Persia, even forty thousand talents, some say fifty c. Alexander d, when he took this city, found a vast quantity of riches in it. It is called here a palace; and so it is spoken of by Herodotus e, Diodorus Siculus f, Pausanius g, Pliny h, and others, as a royal city, where were the residence and palace of the kings of Persia; but the royal palace was not in it at this time; the kings of Babylon had their palace and kept their court at Babylon, where Daniel was; but in vision it seemed to him that he was in Shushan, and which was represented to him as a palace, as it would be, and as the metropolis of the kingdom of Persia, which he had a view of in its future flourishing condition, and as destroyed by Alexander; for, as before observed, it was Cyrus that first made it a royal city; whereas this vision was in the third year of Belshazzar, king of Babylon. Some versions render it, a "tower" or "castle"; and so several writers, as Strabo i Plutarch k and Pliny l, speak of the tower or castle in it. Diodorus Siculus m says, when Antigonus took the tower of Susa, he found in it a golden vine, and a great quantity of other works, to the value of fifteen thousand talents; and out of crowns, and other gifts and spoils, he made up five thousand more. And Polybius n relates, that though Molon took the city, yet could not take the fortress, and was obliged to raise the siege, so strong it was. It must be a mistake of Pliny o that this city was built by Darius Hystaspes; he could only mean it was rebuilt, or rather enlarged, by him, since it was in being long before his time, and even a royal city in the times of Cyrus. Strabo p says it was built by Tithon the father of Merenon, was in compass a fifteen miles, of an oblong figure, and the tower was called after his father's name Mernnonia; and Shushan itself is called, by Herodotus q, Susa Memnonia. At this day, with the common people, it goes by the name of Tuster r. The east gate of the mountain of the house, which led to the temple at Jerusalem, was called Shushan. Some say s there was a building over this gate, on which the palace of Shushan was portrayed, from whence it had its name. The reason of this portrait is differently given; the Jewish commentators on the Misnah t commonly say that this was ordered by the kings of Persia, that the people of Israel might stand in awe of them, and not rebel against them. Their famous lexicographer u says, that this was done, that the Israelites, when they saw it, might remember their captivity in it. But a chronologer w of theirs gives this as the reason, that the children of the captivity made this figure, that they might remember the miracle of Purim, which was made in Shushan; and this, he says, is a good interpretation of it. This city was in the province of Elam; that is, Persia, as it is also called, Isaiah 21:6 for Josephus x says the Persians had their original from the Elamites, or Elameans; and Pliny y observes, that Elymais joined to Persia; and the country of Susiane, so called from Susa its chief city, was, according to Strabo z and Ptolemy a1, a part of Persia: and here Daniel in vision thought himself to be; and a very suitable place for him to have this vision in, which so much concerned the affairs of Persia.
And I saw in a vision, and I was by the river Ulai; that is, in vision; it seemed to the prophet that he was upon the banks of the river Ulai; the same with the Eulaeus of Strabo b1, Pliny c1, Ptolemy d1, and others, which ran by, and surrounded, the city of Shushan, or Susa; the water of which was so light, as Strabo e1 observes, that it was had in great request, and the kings of Persia would drink of no other, and carried it with them wherever they went. Herodotus f1 and Curtius g1 make mention of the river Choaspes, as running by Susa, and say the same things of its water; from whence it might be concluded it was one and the same river, called by different names; though Strabo takes notice of them together, as if they were distinct; yet he, from Polycletus h1, makes them, with Tigris, to disembogue into the same lake, and from thence into the sea. The river which runs by Shushan, now called Souster, according to Monsieur Thevenot i1, is Caron, and comes from the hills about it, and is thought to be the Choaspes of the ancients; near to which, as he was told, is a hill that now goes by the name of Choasp; so that, upon the whole, they seem to be one and the same river k1. Josephus says l1, that Daniel had this vision in the plain of Susa, the metropolis of Persia, as he went out with his friends, that is, out of the city: and the Vulgate Latin version renders it, "by the gate Ulai"; a gate of the city of Shushan so called: and so Saadiah Gaon interprets it a gate; but the former sense is best.
a Geograph. l. 15. p. 500. b Herodoti Terpsichore, sive l. 5. c. 48. c Strabo. ib. p. 502. d Curtius, l. 5. c. 2. Plutarch. in Vita Alexandri, Diador. Sicul. Bibliothec. l. 17. p. 540. e Terpsichore, sive l. 5. sect. 48. f Bibliothec. l. 17. p. 539. g Laconice, sive l. 3. p. 175. h Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 27. i Geograph. l. 15. p. 500. k In Vita Alexandri. l Ut supra. (Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 27.) m Bibliothec. l. 17. p. 540. n Hist. l. 5. p. 249. o Ut supra. (Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 27.) p Geograph. l. 15. p. 500. q Polymnia, sive l. 7. c. 151. r Hiller. Onomastic. Sacr. p. 658, 935. s Jarchi & Bartenora in Misn. Celim, c. 17. sect. 9. t Maimon & Bartenora in Misn. Kelim, c. 17. sect. 9. & Middot, c. 1. sect. 3. u R. Nathan, Sepher Aruch in voce ששן, fol. 160. 3. w R. Abraham Zacuth, Sepher Juchasin, fol. 65. 2. x Antiqu. l. 1. c. 6. sect. 4. y Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 27. z Geograph. l. 15. p. 500. a1 Geograph. l. 6. c. 3. b1 Geograph. p. 501, 505. c1 Ut supra, (Nat. Hist.) l. 6. c. 23, 27. d1 Geograph. l. 6. c. 3. e1 Ut supra, (Geograph.) p. 505. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 27. f1 Clio, sive l. 1. c. 188. Terpsichore, sive l. 5. c. 49, 52. g1 Ut supra. (Curtius, l. 5. c. 2.) h1 Geograph. l. 15. p. 501. i1 Travels, part 2. B. 3. c. 9. p. 153. k1 See the Universal History, vol. 5. p. 124. l1 Antiqu. l. 10. c. 11. sect. 7.
Then I lifted up mine eyes,.... To see what was to be seen in this place, where he in the vision was brought; he lifted up the eyes of his understanding, being enlightened by the vision of prophecy, and the eyes of his body, to which objects of corporeal things formed in the fancy were represented:
and saw, and, behold; he saw something wonderful in a visionary way, and which struck his mind, and raised his attention:
there stood before the river; the river Ulai, near Shushan, the palace, the seat of the kings of Persia, to the east:
a ram, which had two horns; a symbol of the kingdom of the Medes and Persians, signified by the two horns, Daniel 8:20, an emblem of power and dominion, and sometimes used to signify kings and kingdoms; see Daniel 7:24 and these as united in one monarchy, under one monarch, Cyrus, and continued in his successors unto the times of Alexander; and therefore called "a ram", or "one ram" m, as in the original; and which in sound has some likeness to Elam or Persia: and this kingdom or monarchy may be signified by it, partly because of its strength and power, and partly because of its riches, as some think, as well as because it is a fighting creature; and it may be chiefly because this monarchy was mild, and kind, and gentle to the Jewish nation: and it is very remarkable, that, according to Ammianus Marcellinus n, the ram was the royal ensign of the Persians; whose kings used to wear for a diadem something made of gold, in the shape of a ram's head, set with little stones:
and the two horns were high; grew straight up on high, and so were different from the usual horns of a ram, which are crooked; denoting the great power, authority, wealth, and riches, these two kingdoms rose up unto:
but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last; I think the words might be rendered better, "and the first was higher than the second, but it ascended, or grew up, higher at last" o; the kingdom of the Medes was the first kingdom, and it was at first superior to the kingdom of Persia; but afterwards the kingdom of Persia became greater than that, under Cyrus and his successors: and Sir John Chardin says p, that rams' heads, with horns one higher than another, are still to be seen in the ruins of Persepolis.
m איל אחד "aries unus", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, &c. n Hist. l. 19. o והאחת גבחה מן השנית והגבהה עלה באחרונה. p Travels, vol. 3.
I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward,.... That is, with his horns, as rams do; these kingdoms using all their power and strength, wealth and riches, in fighting with and subduing nations, and pushing on their conquests in all parts here mentioned; to the west, Babylon, Syria, Asia, and part of Greece; to the north, Iberia, Albania, Armenia, Scythia, Colchis, and the inhabitants of the Caspian sea; and to the south, Arabia, Ethiopia, Egypt, and India; all which places were conquered by Cyrus and his successors. No mention is made of the east, because this ram stood in the east, facing the west; and at the right and left were the north and south; and so Cyrus is said to come from the east, Isaiah 46:11.
So that no beast might stand before him: no, not the first beast, the Babylonian monarchy, which; fell into the hands of Cyrus; nor any other king or kingdom he and his successors fought against:
neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; or power; Croesus, the rich king of Lydia, and other allies of the king of Babylon, assisted him against Cyrus, and endeavoured to prevent his falling into his hands, but all in vain:
but he did according to his will, and became great; none being able to oppose him, he carried his arms where he pleased, and imposed what tribute he thought fit, and obliged them to do whatever was his will; and so became great in power and dignity, in riches and wealth: this monarchy was very large and extensive, and very rich and wealthy, in the times of Cyrus and his successors; and especially in the times of Darius, the last monarch of it, conquered by Alexander, who is described as follows:
And as I was considering,.... The ram, and the strange things done by him; wondering that a creature of so little strength, comparatively with other beasts, should be able to do such exploits: and thinking with himself what should be the meaning of all this, and what would be the issue of it,
behold, an he goat came from the west; which is interpreted of the king or kingdom of Grecia, which lay to the west of Persia; and a kingdom may be said to do what one of its kings did; particularly Alexander, king of Macedon, in Greece, who, with the Grecian army under him, marched from thence to fight the king of Persia; and which might be signified by a "he goat", because of its strength, its comeliness in walking, and its being the guide and leader of the flock: and also it is remarkable, that the arms of Macedon, or the ensigns carried before their armies, were a goat, ever since the days of Caranus; who following a flock of goats, was directed to Edessa, a city of Macedon, and took it; and from this circumstance of the goats called it Aegeas, and the people Aegeades, which signifies "goats"; and put the goat in his arms q.
On the face of the whole earth; all that lay between Greece and Persia, all Asia; yea, all the whole world, at least as Alexander thought, who wept because there was not another world to conquer: hence Juvenal says r, "unus Pelloeo juveni non sufficit orbis"; one world was not enough for this young man.
And touched not the ground; as he went; he seemed rather to fly in the air than to walk upon the earth; with such swiftness did Alexander run over the world, and make his conquests: in six or eight years time he conquered the kingdom of the Medes and Persians, Babylon, Egypt, and all the neighbouring nations; and afar off, Greece, Thrace, Illyricum, and even the greatest part of the then known world: hence the third or Grecian monarchy under him is said to be like a leopard, with four wings of a fowl on its back s, :- he conquered countries as soon almost as another could have travelled over them; in his marches he was swift and indefatigable. Aelianus t reports, that he marched, clad in armour, thrice four hundred, that is, twelve hundred furlongs, upon a stretch; and, before his army could take any rest, fought his enemies, and conquered them. Some render the words, "whom no man touched in the earth" u; that is, none could oppose, resist, and stop him; he bore down and carried all before him; there was no coming at him, so as to touch him, or hurt him; he was so swift in his motions, and so powerful in his army.
And the goat had a notable horn between his eyes; or, "a horn of vision": which in Daniel 8:21 is interpreted of the first king of Greece, that is, when it became a monarchy; who was Alexander the great; and very properly called a "horn", being possessed of great power and authority; and a notable one, very remarkable and famous, as he has been in all ages since: "a horn of vision" w as it may be rendered; a very visible and conspicuous one, to be seen afar off, and which attracted the eyes of all unto it: its situation was "between the eyes of the goat", denoting his sagacity, wisdom, prudence, craft, and cunning; being attended and surrounded with his father Philip's wise counsellors as Parmenio, Philotas, Clitus, and others. It is remarkable that by the Arabs Alexander is called Dulcarnaim, or Dhilcarnain; that is, one having two horns x: the reason of which was, he affected to be the son of Jupiter Hammon, and therefore at feasts and public entertainments would put on the purple and horns of Hammon: hence, as Clemens of Alexandria observes y, he is by the statuaries represented as horned, or wearing horns; but then, as Arnobius z and others take notice, Hammon is made by the painters and statuaries to have ram's horns; whereas it seems more likely that Alexander's were goat's horns, since the goat was in the arms of Macedon; and so Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, who mimicked Alexander in his armour, is said to have goat's horns on his helmet, upon the top of his crest a; and to such ensigns is the allusion here.
q Justin ex Trogo, l. 7. c. 1. r Satyr. 10. s Alexander was remarkable for the agility of his body, as appeared by his mounting his horse Bucephalus (Plutarch in Vita Alexandri), to the admiration of his father, and all that beheld him; as well as famous for the quick marches of his army, and his very swift and expeditious execution of his signs. "Plurimum pedum celeritate pollebat"; he greatly excelled in swiftness of foot, says the historian: and again, "armatusque de navi, tripudianti similis prosiluit"; he leaped armed out of the ship like one that danced (Suppl. in Curt. l. 1. p. 16. l. 2. p. 26) And he himself, speaking of the countries he had conquered, says, "quas tanta velocitate domuimus": and elsewhere, "cujus velocitatem nemo valuisset effugere". And of Bessus it is said, that "Alexandri celeritate perterritus". And Cobares, the magician calls him "velocissimus rex" (Curt. Hist. l. 6. c. 3. l. 7. c. 4. 7.). And another historian says (Justin ex Trogo, l. 11. c. 2. l. 12. c. 9.) that having observed the enemy's city forsook by them, "sine ullo satellite desiliit in planitiem urbis": and again, "tanta celeritate instructo paraloque exercitu Graeciam oppressi ut quem venire non senserant, videre se vix crederant". t Var. Hist. l. 10. c. 4. u ואין נוגע בארץ quem neme attingebat in terra, Junius Tremellius. w קרן הזות "cornu visionis", Montanus "visibile sive visendum", Vatablus "conspicuum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. x See Gregory, de Aeris & Epochis, c. 11. p. 158, 159. y Protreptic. ad Gentes, p. 36. z Adv. Gentes, l. 6. p. 233. a Plutarch. in Vita Pyrrhi.
And he came to the ram that had two horns,.... Alexander being chosen and made by the states of Greece captain general of all Greece against the Persians, marched from thence with his army, passed the Hellespont, and entered into the kingdom of the Medes and Persians, signified by the ram with two horns, and came up to Darius Codomannus, possessed of this large monarchy, and at the head of a numerous army:
which I had seen standing before the river; the river Ulai, near to Shushan, the royal seat of the kings of Persia; here Darius stood in his royal majesty and dignity, as the defender of his empire, and unconcerned at the attempt of Alexander, having nothing to fear, as he thought, from such a puny adversary:
and ran unto him in the fury of his power; or, "heat of his power" b; which denotes the haste Alexander made with his army into Asia; his eager desire, and the fervour of his mind to engage with the Persians: the historian says, that he passed the Hellespont into Asia, "incredibli ardore mentis accensus"; fired with an incredible ardour of mind: and a little after, having conquered the rebels of Pisidia, he marched against Darius, "summo mentis ardore"; with the greatest ardour of mind, and with no less alacrity c; which exactly agrees with the sacred text. The running of the he goat to the ram in a hostile way is described in allusion to the manner of those creatures when they fight with one another, or attack an enemy.
b בחמת כחו "fervore virtutis suae", Munster; "cum ardore virium suarum", Cocceius; "in aestu robaris sui", Michaelis. c Supplem. in Curt. l. 2. p. 26, 28.
And I saw him come close unto the ram,.... Though the distance between Greece and Persia was very great, and many rivers and mountains in the way, which seemed impassable; Alexander got over them all, and came up to Darius, and fought several battles with him, and entirely defeated him, though greatly inferior in number to him, as follows:
and he was moved with choler against him; exceedingly embittered against him; exasperated and provoked to the last degree, by the proud and scornful message he sent him; calling himself king of kings, and akin to the gods, and Alexander his servant; ordering his nobles to take Philip's madding stripling, as he called him in contempt, and whip him with children's rods, and clothe him in purple, and deliver him bound to him; then sink his ships with the mariners, and transport all his soldiers to the further part of the Red sea d:
and smote the ram; in three battles, in each of which the Persians were smitten and routed by the Grecians: first at the river Granicus, where Alexander with thirty thousand foot, and five thousand horse, met the Persians, though more than five times his number, being, as Justin e says, six hundred thousand, and got the victory over them; here twenty thousand of the Persian footmen, and two hundred and fifty of their horse, were slain, and not more than thirty nine of the Macedonians killed f: Plutarch g says, it was reported that the Persians lost twenty thousand footmen, and two thousand five hundred horse; and from Aristobulus he says, that the Macedonians lost only thirty four men, of which twelve were footmen: and Diodorus Siculus h relates that the Persians lost more than ten thousand footmen, and not less than two thousand horse, and more than twenty thousand were taken: according to Justin i, of Alexander's army there only fell nine footmen, and a hundred and twenty horsemen: others say, that, of the Macedonians, twenty five men of Alexander's own troop fell in the first attack, about sixty other of the horsemen were killed, and thirty of the footmen k; so different are the accounts of the slain in this battle; however, the victory appears to be very great, whereby Sardis, with all Darius's rich furniture, fell into the hands of Alexander, and all the provinces of the lesser Asia submitted to him. The next battle was fought at Issus its Cilicia, where Darius had an army, according to Plutarch l, consisting of six hundred thousand men; according to Justin m, four hundred thousand footmen, and a hundred thousand horsemen, which was routed by Alexander; when a hundred thousand of the Persian footmen, and ten thousand of their horsemen, were slain; and only, on Alexander's side, five hundred and four of the footmen wounded, thirty two wanting, and a hundred and fifty of the horsemen killed n: here also the accounts vary; Plutarch o says above a hundred and ten thousand of the Persians were slain: according to Diodorus Siculus p, there fell of them a hundred and twenty thousand footmen, and not less than ten thousand horsemen; and of the Macedonians three hundred footmen, and about a hundred and fifty horsemen: according to Arrian q, the Persians lost ten thousand horsemen, and ninety thousand footmen: according to Justin r, sixty one thousand footmen, and ten thousand horsemen, were slain, and forty thousand taken; and of the Macedonians there fell one hundred and thirty footmen, and one hundred and fifty horsemen; but, be it as it will, the victory was exceeding great, whereby the camp of Darius, his mother, wife, and children, and all his riches at Damascus, fell into the hands of Alexander, with all Syria. The third and last battle was fought near Arbela, or rather at Gaugamela in Assyria, when Alexander with fifty thousand men beat Darius with an army of eleven hundred thousand men; Plutarch s says ten hundred thousand; forty thousand of which were slain, and of the Macedonians only three hundred or less were wanting t; according to Arrian u thirty thousand were slain; but Diodorus Siculus w says ninety thousand: this was the decisive battle; after this Babylon and Persepolis were taken by Alexander, and he became master of the whole empire, which is intended in the next clause:
and brake his two horns; conquered the Medes and Persians, the two kingdoms united in one monarchy, but now destroyed; another monarchy, the Grecian, took its place:
and there was no power in the ram to stand before him there was no strength in tim whole empire sufficient to resist, oppose, and stop him; though vast armies were collected together, these were soon broken and routed, and Darius at the head of them was forced to fly and make his escape in the best manner he could;
but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: not Darius personally, for he was slain by Bessus, one of his own captains; but the Persian empire, it ceased to be, and was no longer in the hands of the Persians, but was taken from them by Alexander; and all the glory and majesty of it were defaced and despised; the famous city and palace of Persepolis were burnt in a drunken fit, at the instigation of Thais the harlot:
and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand; not his armies, nor his generals, nor his allies, nor his offers to Alexander of his daughter in marriage, and part of his kingdom; all were in vain, and to no purpose; he and his whole empire fell into the conqueror's hands, and there was no remedy against it. Josephus x says, that when Alexander was in his way to Jerusalem, Jaddus, the high priest, met and accompanied him into the city and temple, and showed him this prophecy of Daniel, that some one of the Grecians should abolish the empire of the Persians; and, thinking himself to be intended, was greatly pleased. Gorionides y says the high priest, whom he calls Ananias, said to Alexander, on showing him the prophecy, thou art this he goat, and Darius is the ram; and thou shall trample him to the ground, and take the kingdom out of his hand; and he greatly strengthened the heart of the king.
d Supplem. in Curt. l. 2. p. 27. e Trogo, l. 11. c. 6. f Supplem. in Curt. l. 2. p. 28. g In Vit. Alexandri. h Bibliothec. l. 17. p. 503. i E Trogo, l. 11. c. 6. k Universal History, vol. 5. p. 297. l In Vit. Alexandri. m E Trogo, l. 11. c. 9. n Curtius, l. 3. c. 11. o In Vita Alexandri. p Bibliothec l. 17. p. 515. q Exped. Alex. l. 2. r E. Trogo, l. 11. c. 9. s Vit. Alexandri. t Curtius, l. 4. c. 16. u Ut supra, ( Exped. Alex.) l. 3. w Biblioth. l. 17. p. 536. x Antiqu. l. 11. c. 8. sect. 5. y Heb. Hist. l. 2. c. 7. p. 88.
Therefore the he goat waxed very great,.... The Grecian monarchy, under Alexander, became very powerful, and was very extensive; he not only conquered the Persian empire, but also the Indies, yea, the whole world, as he imagined; and indeed he did bring into subjection to him the greatest part of the then known world; and he was very great in his own esteem, at least reckoned himself lord of the world, called himself the son of Jupiter Ammon, and affected to be worshipped as a god:
and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; when the Grecian monarchy was established, and became very powerful, and reached to the greatest part of the earth, then Alexander the first king of it, a great horn, and powerful monarch, died, or was broken; not as the two horns of the ram, by the power of the enemy; not by violence, but by intemperance, in a drunken fit, or, as was suspected, by poison; and that when he was in the height of his glory, swelled with his victories; and that in the prime of his days, when in his full strength, being in the "thirty third" year of his age:
and for it, or in the room and stead of it z,
came up four notable ones; or, "four horns of vision" a; very famous and conspicuous, like that in Daniel 8:5, which were the four kingdoms into which the empire was divided some time after Alexander's death, and the four kings that were over them: the kingdoms were those of Egypt, Greece, Asia, and Syria. Ptolemy was king of Egypt, to which belonged Lybia, Palestine, Arabia, and Caelesyria. Cassander was king of Macedonia and Greece. Lysimachus was king of Asia, to which belonged Thrace, Bithynia, and other places; and Seleucus was king of Syria, and of the eastern countries: these are the four heads of the leopard, or third beast, which signifies the Grecian monarchy, Daniel 7:6 and these were
toward the four winds of heaven; east, west, north, and south: Egypt, with its appendages, lay to the south; Asia, and what belonged to that, to the north; Macedonia and Greece to the west; and Syria to the east: and thus was the Grecian empire divided into four kingdoms, among the successors of Alexander: there were some partitions of it before this into provinces among governors, under the brother and son of Alexander; but after the battle of Ipsus, in which Antigonus, one of Alexander's captains, and a very principal, active, and ambitious man, was slain, and his army routed; the four confederate princes against him, above named, divided by consent the empire between them into separate kingdoms, and became really, and not in title only, kings of them b; which is what is here prophesied of.
z תחתיה "loco ejus, [vel] illius", Junius Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Michaelis. a חזות ארבע "quatuor [cornua] conspicua", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator "cornua aspectus quatuor", Michaelis. b See Prideaux's Connexion, part 1. B. 8. p. 558, 559.
And out of one of them came forth a little horn,.... Meaning not the kingdom of Titus Vespasian, as Jarchi; nor the kingdom of the Turks, as Saadiah; but the kingdom of Antiochia, as Aben Ezra and Jacchiades; or rather Antiochus Epiphanes, who sprung from the kingdom of the Seleucidae in Syria, or from Seleucus king of Syria, one of the four horns before mentioned: this is that sinful root said to come out from thence, in the Apocrypha:
"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)
called "a horn", because he had some power and authority, and which he usurped and increased in; though but a "little" one in comparison of Alexander the great horn; or at his beginning, being an hostage at Rome; from whence he got away by stealth, and seized the kingdom of Syria, which belonged to his elder brother's son, whom he dispossessed of it; and by mean, artful, and deceitful methods, got it into his hands, who had no right unto it, nor any princely qualities for it:
which waxed exceeding great toward the south; towards Egypt, which lay south of Syria; into which Antiochus entered, and fought against Ptolemy Philometer, king of it, took many cities, and besieged Alexandria; and in all probability would have subdued the whole country, had not the Romans c restrained him, by sending their ambassador Popilius to him, who obliged him to desist and depart;
"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. 19 Thus they got the strong cities in the land of Egypt and he took the spoils thereof. 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,'' (1 Maccabees 1)
and toward the east; towards Armenia and Persia, the Atropatii in Media, and the countries beyond the Euphrates, whom he made tributary to him; in the Apocrypha:
"Wherefore, being greatly perplexed in his mind, he determined to go into Persia, there to take the tributes of the countries, and to gather much money.'' (1 Maccabees 3:31)
"1 About that time king Antiochus travelling through the high countries heard say, that Elymais in the country of Persia was a city greatly renowned for riches, silver, and gold; 2 And that there was in it a very rich temple, wherein were coverings of gold, and breastplates, and shields, which Alexander, son of Philip, the Macedonian king, who reigned first among the Grecians, had left there.'' (1 Maccabees 6)
and toward the pleasant land; the land of Judea, so called because of its delightful situation, and great fruitfulness; and because God chose it above all others for his habitation; where his word, and worship, and ordinances, were observed and enjoyed; and where the Messiah should be born and dwell; into this Antiochus led his army, and greatly afflicted and distressed it; he made himself master of most places in Galilee and Judea. The Arabic version reads "toward the west"; no mention is made of the north, because there he himself reigned; Syria being north to Egypt, as that was south to Syria; hence afterwards the king of Egypt is called the king of the south, and the king of Syria the king of the north.
c See Joseph. Antiqu. l. 12. c. 5. sect. 2.
And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven,.... The people of the Jews, the army of the living God, the church militant, among whom were many of the citizens of heaven, whose names are written there; such was the insolence of this king, as to molest and disturb them:
and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped them; some of the common people he persecuted and destroyed, or prevailed upon them, either by threats or flatteries, to relinquish their religion; and even some of the "stars", the lights of the people, the priests and Levites, that ministered unto them; or the princes, and elders of the people, whom he slew, as Jacchiades interprets it; or removed from their posts so that they could not do their office; or they turned apostates; and those that did not he barbarously put to death, and insulted over them, and used them in a very contemptuous manner, as old Eleazar, the mother and her seven sons; see 2 Maccabees chapter 7.
Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince host,.... Either the high priest Onias, whom he disposed of his office, and put Jason a wicked man into it; or Judas Maccabeus, the prince of the Jewish nation; or rather, as Jacchiades, God himself, the Lord God of Israel, the King, Prince, Governor, and defender of them, whom Antiochus blasphemed; whose worship he puts stop to; and whose temple he profaned, and ill used his people; all which was against God himself, and is a proof of the pride and insolence of this king:
and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away; the lambs in the morning and evening were forbid to be sacrificed; or they could not be offered, because the altar was pulled down, or profaned; and so all other sacrifices were made to cease, as well as this, which is put for all: or, "from him" d, the prince, "the daily sacrifice was taken away"; either from the priest, who used to offer it; or from God, to whom it was offered:
and the place of his sanctuary was cast down: not that the temple was destroyed by him, but it was profaned and rendered useless; the worship of God was not carried on in it, but the image of Jupiter was set up in it, and it was devoted to the service of an idol; yea, the altar was pulled down, and all the vessels and ornaments of the temple were taken away and destroyed; in the Apocrypha:
"And the table of the shewbread, and the pouring vessels, and the vials, and the censers of gold, and the veil, and the crown, and the golden ornaments that were before the temple, all which he pulled off.'' (1 Maccabees 1:22)
"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)
"And lo, the heathen are assembled together against us to destroy us: what things they imagine against us, thou knowest.'' (1 Maccabees 3:52)
d ממנו "ab eo", Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius, "ab ipso", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Michaelis.
And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression,.... Which some interpret of a garrison of soldiers placed by Antiochus, through his sin and wickedness, to hinder the oblation of the daily sacrifice, as Grotius: others, of a host of apostates among the Jews, who advised Antiochus against the daily sacrifice, and to kill swine, and offer them on the altar, as Jacchiades; or rather it may be rendered, "and the host was given over", or "delivered", i.e. to the enemy, "because of the transgression against the daily sacrifice" e; that is, because of the transgression of the priests or the people, in neglecting the daily sacrifice, the host or people of the Jews were delivered up into the hands of Antiochus; or they were delivered up, together with the daily sacrifice, for their sins f. The word צבא is by Jarchi and Ben Melech interpreted a set time, a fixed time which shall have an end; and Calvin inclines to this sense, that though the daily sacrifice would be taken away, because of the transgression of the people, yet it was only for a certain time, and would be restored again when that time was up; and so is spoken for the comfort of the Lord's people:
and it cast down the truth to the ground: that is, the little horn Antiochus, or his host and army; he did all that in him lay to extirpate and abolish true religion and godliness; he cut in pieces the copies of the book of the law, and burnt them, called the law of truth in Malachi 2:6, as Jacchiades observes, and put to death the professors of the truth; and showed all the contempt of true doctrine and worship he was capable of; see the Apocrypha:
"57 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. 58 Thus did they by their authority unto the Israelites every month, to as many as were found in the cities. 59 Now the five and twentieth day of the month they did sacrifice upon the idol altar, which was upon the altar of God. 60 At which time according to the commandment they put to death certain women, that had caused their children to be circumcised.'' (1 Maccabees 1)
and it practised, and prospered; he did what he pleased, and he succeeded in his attempts for a while, there being none to oppose him.
e וצבא תנתן על התמיד בפשע "exercitusque traditus est propter trangressionem contra res circa illud juge sacrificium", Vatablus. f "Et exercitus tradetur una cum sacrificio jugi ob praevaricationem", Michaelis.
Then I heard one saint speaking,.... An angel, either a created angel, pure and holy in his nature, as Gabriel; or the uncreated Angel Jesus Christ, the Word of God; what he was speaking of is not said; perhaps Daniel did not hear what he said, though he heard him speaking, or perceived that he spake; yet did not understand what he said, or what was the subject of his discourse; very probably it was something relative to the vision now seen:
and another saint said unto that certain saint that spake; another angel said to him that spake, whose name is unknown, only called such an one, or Palmoni, which some render "the wonderful numberer"; or, "the numberer of secrets", or "that has all secrets numbered" g; and apply it to Christ, whose name is "Pele", wonderful; the eternal Word of God, that is in the bosom of the Father, and knows all secrets, and the number of times and seasons, how long they will last; what created angels know not, he does; and therefore they apply to him for instruction and knowledge in hidden things:
how long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden underfoot? that is, how long will this vision last? or when will this prophecy be at an end, and have its full and final accomplishment? how long will the sacrifice be taken away, or made to cease? how long will that transgression, that abomination, making the temple desolate, the image of Jupiter Olympius set up by Antiochus, continue in it? how long shall it be given to him, or he be permitted to tread under foot, and use in the most contemptuous manner, the temple of the Lord, and his people?
g לפלמוני "illi qui occulta in numerato habet", Junius & Tremellius.
And he said unto me,.... That is, "Palmoni", the wonderful person, to whom the angel put the above question, gave the answer to it; not unto the angel that asked it, but unto Daniel that stood by; knowing that it was for his and his people's sake the question was asked, and therefore gave the answer to him, as follows:
unto two thousand and three hundred days; or so many "mornings" and "evenings" h; which shows that not so many years, as Jacchiades, and others, are meant; but natural days, consisting of twenty four hours, and which make six years, three months, and eighteen days; and reckoning from the fifteenth day of the month Cisleu, in the year 145 of the Selucidae, in which Antiochus set up the abomination of desolation upon the altar, in the Apocrypha:
"Now the five and twentieth day of the month they did sacrifice upon the idol altar, which was upon the altar of God.'' (1 Maccabees 1:59)
to the victory obtained over Nicanor by Judas, on the thirteenth day of the month Adar, Anno 151, are just 2300 days; which day the Jews kept as an annual feast, in commemoration of that victory; and from that time enjoyed peace and rest from war i: this way goes L'Empereur after Capellus; but others begin from the defection of the people from the pure religion by Menelaus, Anno 141; though Antiochus did not enter on his impieties till the following year; and, reckoning from the sixth day of the sixth month in that year, to the twenty fifth day of Cisleu in the year 148, when the Jews offered the daily sacrifice on the new altar of burnt offerings, in the Apocrypha:
"Now on the five and twentieth day of the ninth month, which is called the month Casleu, in the hundred forty and eighth year, they rose up betimes in the morning, 53 And offered sacrifice according to the law upon the new altar of burnt offerings, which they had made. '' (1 Maccabees 4:52)
were just six years, three months, and eighteen days: and so it follows,
and then shall the sanctuary be cleansed; as it was by Judas Maccabeus at the time above mentioned; when he purified the holy places, sanctified the courts, rebuilt the altar, renewed the vessels of the sanctuary, and put all in their proper places; in the Apocrypha:
"41 Then Judas appointed certain men to fight against those that were in the fortress, until he had cleansed the sanctuary. 42 So he chose priests of blameless conversation, such as had pleasure in the law: 43 Who cleansed the sanctuary, and bare out the defiled stones into an unclean place. 44 And when as they consulted what to do with the altar of burnt offerings, which was profaned; 45 They thought it best to pull it down, lest it should be a reproach to them, because the heathen had defiled it: wherefore they pulled it down, 46 And laid up the stones in the mountain of the temple in a convenient place, until there should come a prophet to shew what should be done with them. 47 Then they took whole stones according to the law, and built a new altar according to the former; 48 And made up the sanctuary, and the things that were within the temple, and hallowed the courts. 49 They made also new holy vessels, and into the temple they brought the candlestick, and the altar of burnt offerings, and of incense, and the table. 50 And upon the altar they burned incense, and the lamps that were upon the candlestick they lighted, that they might give light in the temple. 51 Furthermore they set the loaves upon the table, and spread out the veils, and finished all the works which they had begun to make.'' (1 Maccabees 4)
Indeed, as Antiochus was a type of antichrist, and his persecution of that desolation made by antichrist in the church; these 2300 days may be considered as so many years, which will bring it down to the end of the sixth Millennium, or thereabout; when it may be hoped there will be a new face of things upon the sanctuary and church of God, and a cleansing of it from all corruption in doctrine, discipline, worship, and conversation.
h ערב בוקר "vespero matutina", Castalio; "vespertina matutinaque tempora", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. i Joseph. Antiqu. l. 12. c. 10. sect. 5.
And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision,.... The whole of the preceding vision, concerning the ram, he goat, and little horn, and what were done by them; the prophet not only affirms he saw this vision, but repeats the affirmation, expressing his own name, partly for the sake of emphasis, and partly for the greater confirmation of his words; wherefore it was a most impudent thing Porphyry to say, that the true Daniel never saw this vision; but what is here related was written after Antiochus's reign, and falsely ascribed to him. It being so clear a prophecy concerning Alexander, and the destruction of the Persian empire by him, this acute spiteful Heathen had no other way of evading the evidence of it in favour of true religion but by this false and lying assertion:
and I sought for the meaning; that is, of the vision; for a more perfect, clear, and explicit meaning of it; something he had learnt concerning the latter part of it, relating to the desolation of the temple, and the continuance of it, from what passed between the two saints or angels; but he was desirous of knowing more; which he either signified by making application to the angel that stood near him; or rather by secret ejaculations in prayer to God; and he, who is afterwards described as a man, though the eternal God that knows all things, knew the secret desires of his soul, and immediately took care they should be answered:
then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man: not really a man, but in form and appearance; not Gabriel, or any created angel in human form, in which angels sometimes appeared but the eternal Son of God, who was to be incarnate, and was often seen in the form of a man before his incarnation; in like manner he was now seen by Daniel, right
over against k whom he stood; this is the same with the speaking saint, or Paimoni the wonderful One, in Daniel 8:13. Jacchiades says, this is the holy blessed God; as it is indeed the Immanuel, God that was to be manifested in the flesh.
k לנגדי "ex adverso mei", Michaelis.
And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai,.... Near to which Daniel was, Daniel 8:2 and it seemed to him as if the appearance of the man was in the midst of the river, between the banks of it, from whence the voice came; or between the arms of it, it bending and winding about; or rather between Shushan and the river; or between the prophet and that: this voice was the voice of the person that appeared as a man in the preceding verse:
which called, and said, Gabriel; the voice was loud, audible, and commanding; even to an angel, one of great note, Gabriel, the man of God, the mighty one; and shows, that the person that made this appearance, and spoke in this authoritative way, was the Lord, and head of angels, even of all principalities and power, at whose beck and command they are:
make this man to understand the vision; the above vision of the ram, he goat, and little horn; give him a full explanation of it; tell him what the several figures mean, represented in it; that he may have a clear understanding of all things contained in it; the saints and people of God are sometimes instructed by angels, and particularly the prophets of old were; and which was more common in the times of the former dispensation than now; for God has not put in subjection to angels the world to come, or the Gospel dispensation, Hebrews 2:5.
So he came near where I stood,.... The angel immediately obeyed the divine Person in human form, and came near the prophet, in order to instruct him, and carry on a familiar conversation with him:
and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face; not being able to bear the glory that attended him; and especially when he considered him as the messenger of a divine Person sent to instruct him, and being conscious of his own frailty and weakness:
but he said unto me, understand, O son of man: give attention in order to understand the vision, which the angel, by a divine command, was about to give him the full meaning of; and which he could not so well attend unto in his present circumstance and posture; and therefore suggests he should shake off his fear, and stand on his feet, and listen to what he was about to say: he calls him "son of man", a title only given to him and Ezekiel; and so may be considered as a mark of honour and respect, as being one greatly beloved and honoured by the Lord; or to express his tender regard to him, and accommodating himself to him, considering he was a frail mortal man; or to put him in mind that he should so consider himself, though now among angels, and favoured with revelations of secrets, that so he might not be exalted with them above measure:
for at the time of the end shall be the vision; or rather, "for a time is the end of the vision" l; there is a set, fixed, and determined time, when the vision shall end, and have its full accomplishment; namely, when the 2300 days are expired.
l לעת קץ החזון "ad tempus, finis visionis", Munster, Montanus, Calvin.
Now as he was speaking with me,.... Addressing him in the above manner:
I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground; through fear he fell prostrate to the ground, and swooned away, which issued in a deep sleep; and so was unfit to attend to the explanation of the vision the angel was sent to give him; and which was not through indifference to it, or neglect of it; but through human weakness, his nature not being able to bear up under such circumstances, which struck him with such fear and dread:
but he touched me, and set me upright; he jogged him out of his sleep, and took him, and raised him up, and set him on his feet; or, "on his standing" m; which Ben Melech explains, as he "was standing at first"; and so in a better posture to attend to what was about to be revealed unto him.
m על עמדי "super stare meum", Montanus, Gejerus; "super stationem meam", Michaelis.
And he said, behold, I will make thee know,.... Or, "make known unto thee" n; what he knew not, even things future: particularly
what shall be in the last end of the indignation; the indignation of God against the people of Israel, in the sore affliction and persecution of them by Antiochus, which he suffered to be; here the angel suggests that that should not remain always, but should have an end; and he would inform the prophet what should be at the close; or rather, as Noldius o renders it, "what shall be unto the last end of the indignation"; all that should come to pass from the beginning of the Persian monarchy, signified by the "ram", quite through the Grecian monarchy, designed by the "he goat", unto the end of the persecution by Antiochus; for, certain it is, the angel informed the prophet of more things than what concerned the last part and, closing scene of these sorrowful times; even of all the above said things, which intervened between the setting up of the Persian monarchy, and the sufferings of the Jews in the times of Antiochus; and so Aben Ezra interprets it, here
"is declared the wrath of God upon Israel in the days of wicked Greece, and in the days of Antiochus, until the Hasmonaeans cleansed the temple:''
for at the time appointed the end shall be; the end of that indignation or affliction, and so of this vision or prophecy: there was a time appointed by God for the fulfilment of the whole; and when that time was come all would be accomplished; the indignation would cease, and the persecution be at an end.
n מודיעך "ego notum faciam tibi", Piscator; "indicaturus tibi sum", Michaelis. o Concord. Ebr. Partic. p. 180. No. 809.
The ram which thou sawest having two horns,.... Here begins the particular explanation of the above vision, and of the first thing which the prophet saw in it, a ram with two horns: which two horns, he says,
are the kings of Media and Persia; Darius the first king was a Mede, and Cyrus, that succeeded him, or rather reigned with him, was a Persian: or rather the ram with two horns signifies the two kingdoms of the Medes and Persians united in one monarchy, of which the ram was an emblem; :- for Darius and Cyrus were dead many years before the time of Alexander; and therefore could not personally be the two horns of the ram broken by him; nor is it to be understood of the kings of two different families, as the one of. Cyrus, and the other of Darius Hystaspes, in whose successors the Persian monarchy continued till destroyed by Alexander, as Theodoret.
And the rough goat is the king of Grecia,.... Including all the kings of it, from Alexander to the end of the Grecian monarchy; or rather the kingdom of Greece, which began in him, and continued until it was destroyed by the Romans: this was signified by the rough or hairy goat, especially when Alexander was at the head of it, for his strength and prowess, his swiftness in his marches over rocks and mountains, his majesty and grandeur, and also his lust and uncleanness;
and the great host that is between his eyes is the first king; this is Alexander, who, though he was not the first king of Macedon, his father Philip, and others, were kings before him; yet was the first king of the Grecian monarchy, which took place on the Persian monarchy being destroyed by him.
Now that being broken,.... That is, the great horn Alexander, the first king of the Grecian monarchy; whose death, either by drunkenness, or by poison, is here expressed by being "broken". The sense is, he being dead, or upon his death,
whereas four stood up for it; four horns rose up in the room and stead of the great one broken; see Daniel 8:8 these signified that
four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation; which were the kingdoms of Egypt, Asia, Macedonia, and Syria, into which the Grecian monarchy was divided after the death of Alexander; and the first kings of them were all of the Grecian or Macedonian nation, and not Egyptians, Armenians, Syrians, c.:
but not in his power they did not rise and stand up in the power and strength, in the grandeur and magnificence, of Alexander; they were not equal, but greatly inferior to him, though they were notable horns, or famous kingdoms, as in Daniel 8:8. Saadiah interprets it, not of his seed or offspring; these were not his sons that were the heads of these kingdoms; but his captains or generals.
And in the latter time of their kingdom,.... Toward the close of the kingdom of the four kings that divided Alexander's kingdom; for though they were four distinct kings, and had four separate kingdoms, yet these all belonged to one kingdom or monarchy, the Grecian empire; and when that was decreasing, and coming into the hands of the Romans, there rose up, stood, and flourished awhile, King Antiochus, afterwards described, who began to reign in the hundred and thirty seventh year of the Seleucidae,
"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)
and 166 B.C., and the same year that he set up the abomination of desolation in the temple at Jerusalem, as Mr. Mede p has observed, Aemilius the Roman consul conquered Perseus king of Macedon, whereby all Greece came into the hands of the Romans; so that this king may be truly said to arise and stand in the latter part of the Grecian empire, when that was declining, and the Roman empire was taking place:
when the transgressors are come to the full; many among the Jews, who apostatized from their religion, turned Heathens, even some of the priests, when their number was completed, and they had filled up the measure of their iniquities; in the Apocrypha:
"In those days went there out of Israel wicked men, who persuaded many, saying, Let us go and make a covenant with the heathen that are round about us: for since we departed from them we have had much sorrow. c.'' (1 Maccabees 1:11)
a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up meaning Antiochus; as is generally agreed, both by Jewish and Christian interpreters, and to whom these characters agree: he was "hard of face" q, as it may be rendered; an impudent brasen faced man, who had no shame nor fear in him; regarded neither God nor man; committed the most atrocious crimes in the most public manner; and particularly was daring and impudent in his blasphemy against God and the true religion; and it may also signify that he was cruel, barbarous, and inhuman, especially to the Jews, as his persecution of them abundantly proves: and his "understanding dark sentences", or "riddles" r, which he could both propose and answer, shows him to be sagacious and cunning, well versed in wicked craft and policy; he had the art of inveigling and deceiving men; it was by deceit and cunning he got the kingdom from his nephew; and, by the wicked art of persuasion he was master of, he seduced many of the Jews to relinquish their religion, and embrace Heathenism; and so well skilled he was in wicked politics, that he could cover his own designs, and penetrate into the secrets of others; according to Jacchiades, he was skilful in the art of magic and astrology. This is the little horn that was to rise out of one of the four horns or kingdoms; as Antiochus did from that of Seleucus, and stood and reigned more than twelve years.
p Works, B. 3. c. 11. p. 654. q עז פנים "durus facie", Calvin, Piscator; "validus facie", Michaelis. r חידות "aenigmata", Pagninus, Montanus, Munster, Calvin, Piscator, Polanus.
And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power,.... He should possess a large kingdom, and that should be increased by conquests:
but not in his power s, the power of Alexander; he should not arrive to that greatness he did, as in Daniel 8:22 so Jacchiades: or, "in his own power" t; for it was not so much by his own courage and valour, by any heroic actions of Antiochus, he became so great, as by craft and deceit: through sedition he procured the death of his father and eider brother; and by fraud got the kingdom from his nephew; and through the perfidy of Menelaus and Jason, the high priests of the Jews, and other apostates, he obtained what dominion he had over the Jews; and it was by the assistance of Eumenes king of Pergamos, and his brother Attalus, that he kept the kingdom he had usurped, who stood by him, in order to check the growing power of the Romans; and more especially it was by a power given him from above, or by the permission and providence of God, who suffered him to be so great, and to prevail particularly over the Jews; because of their sins, as Aben Ezra and Saadiah observe, to chastise them for them: so his antitype, antichrist, became great and powerful, through craft and policy, and by the help of the ten kings that gave their kingdoms to him:
and he shall destroy wonderfully; or beyond all credit, countries, cities, towns, and their inhabitants; he slew fourscore thousand Jews in three days' time, bound forty thousand, and sold as many,
"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.'' (2 Maccabees 5:14)
or, "he shall destroy wonderful things" u; the temple, and the wonderful things of worth and value in it, so Saadiah and Jacchiades; he took away the vessels of the temple, the golden lamps, the ark, and table of gold, c.:
and shall prosper and practise for a while do what he pleased, none being able to oppose and hinder him; see Daniel 8:12
and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people; by the "mighty" may be meant the Egyptians, Parthians, and other nations he made war with; and by the "holy people" the Jews, who were sanctified and separated from other people by the Lord, to be a peculiar people; among whom were his holy temple, his holy priests, his holy word, ordinances, and worship; multitudes of these he destroyed, as before observed. Jacchiades interprets this of the sons of Aaron, the holy priests of the Lord, whom he slew.
s בכוחו "robore ipsius", Junius Tremellius, Piscator. t "In fortitudine sua", Pagninus, Montanus "per virtutem suam", Munster. u נפלאות "mirabilia", Montanus, Polanus.
And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand,.... His schemes were laid in such deep policy, and he managed so artfully and craftily in the execution of them, that he commonly succeeded; as in getting the kingdom of Syria from his nephew; and, under a pretence of peace and friendship, and to defend Philometer king of Egypt, a minor, and by large promises to the nobles of the land, made himself master of it; and by deceitful methods he prevailed in Judea; see Daniel 11:21:
and he shall magnify himself in his heart; swell with pride, on account of success, through his policy, craft, and cunning, and think himself above all mortals, and equal to God himself; yea, as his antitype antichrist, exalt himself above all that is called God; fancy that he could command the seas, weigh the mountains in scales, and reach heaven itself, in the Apocrypha:
"And thus he that a little afore thought he might command the waves of the sea, (so proud was he beyond the condition of man) and weigh the high mountains in a balance, was now cast on the ground, and carried in an horselitter, shewing forth unto all the manifest power of God.'' (2 Maccabees 9:8)
and by peace shall destroy many; under a pretence of peace enter into countries and destroy the inhabitants of them, as in Egypt and Judea; or, by leagues and treaties of peace, outwitting those he made peace with; so some political princes do themselves more service, and their enemies more hurt, by treaties than by battles: or "in peace" w; when at peace with them, or while they are in peace and tranquillity; coming upon them unexpectedly at an unawares, when they did not so much as dream of war:
he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; not the high priest, as Grotius; nor Michael, as Aben Ezra; but God himself, as Saadiah and Jacchiades; who is King of kings, and Lord of lords, the only Pontentate, to whom all the princes above and below are subject; him Antiochus stood up against, when he profaned his temple at Jerusalem, forbid his worship, persecuted and destroyed his people, and set up the image of Jupiter in his house:
but he shall be broken without hand; alluding to his being a horn; it is expressive of his death, and the manner of it; that he should not die by the hand of an enemy in battle, nor be assassinated by the hand of a ruffian, but be cut off by the immediate hand of God. Jacchiades says, that by the providence of God he fell ill of a bad disease, and at the cry of one of his elephants his chariot was overturned, and he fell on the ground, and his bones were broken. Of his death, and the manner of it, in the Apocrypha:
"Now when the king heard these words, he was astonished and sore moved: whereupon he laid him down upon his bed, and fell sick for grief, because it had not befallen him as he looked for.'' (1 Maccabees 6:8)
"But the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, smote him with an incurable and invisible plague: or as soon as he had spoken these words, a pain of the bowels that was remediless came upon him, and sore torments of the inner parts;'' (2 Maccabees 9:5)
"So that the worms rose up out of the body of this wicked man, and whiles he lived in sorrow and pain, his flesh fell away, and the filthiness of his smell was noisome to all his army.'' (2 Maccabees 9:9)
which was much like that of Herod's, Acts 12:23, being stricken with a violent disorder in his bowels: his body covered with worms; his flesh flaked off, and emitted such a stench, as was intolerable to his army. Aben Ezra says, he fell from the roof of a house, and was broken, and died.
w בשלוה "in pace", Calvin, Vatablus; "in tranquillitate", Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Michaelis.
And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true,.... That is, of the 2300 evenings and mornings, or natural days; unto which time the daily sacrifice was to cease, and the sanctuary and host trodden under foot; and then the sanctuary would be cleansed. This account is "true", and not only to be believed, but is clear and plain, and to be literally understood of so many days, of such a term of time exactly, having no obscurity in it:
wherefore shut thou up the vision; the whole vision of the ram and he goat, and the little horn: the meaning is, that he should keep it to himself, and conceal it from men; not from his own people, for whose sake it was given, but from the Chaldeans, whose destruction was near; and who would be succeeded by the Persians, who might be disgusted with this prophecy, should they see it, it foretelling the destruction of their empire: or this order was given to suggest to Daniel that the fulfilment of it would be deferred some time, during which it would not be so easy to be understood as when it was near accomplishing and accomplished; and then prophecy and facts might be compared together:
for it shall be for many days; it were three hundred years, or more, from the reign of Belshazzar to the death of Antiochus, in which this vision ends.
And I Daniel fainted and was sick certain days,.... Or, "then I Daniel fainted" x; after he had seen the vision, and had thought upon it, and considered the afflictions that were to come upon the people of God, and the condition the temple, and the worship of it, would be in; these so affected his mind, that he not only fainted away, and was struck with a kind of stupor and amazement, but had a fit of illness upon him, which continued some days; such a nearness and sympathy there are between the soul and body:
afterwards I rose up; from the bed in which he had laid some days ill:
and did the king's business; by which it appears, that, upon the death of Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel was as yet continued in the service of the king of Babylon, though perhaps not in the same posts as before, and was not a favourite at court, and so much known as he had been; and also that he was not in reality at Shushan, when he had this vision, but at Babylon:
and I was astonished at the vision; at the things contained in it, which were of so much importance, respecting the kingdoms of the earth, especially the Persian and Grecian empires, and the state of his own people the Jews:
but none understood it: to whom he showed it; none but himself, who was made to understand it by the angel, Daniel 8:16.
x So Noldius, Concord. Ebr. Part. p. 309.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Daniel 8". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent