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THE VISION OF THE FOUR BEASTS.
This chapter begins the second section of the book. All before this has been narrative; visions are introduced into the narrative, but they were not given to Daniel himself, but to others; his role was the secondary one of interpreter. These visions and the events connected with them are related more as incidents in the biography of Daniel, than as revelations of the future. With this chapter begins a series of revelations to Daniel personally. This chapter is the last chapter of the Aramaic portion of Daniel. Though thus linguistically joined to what has preceded, logically it is related to what follows.
In the first year of Belshazzar King of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters. The language of the Septuagint is suggestive of the actual state of matters, "While Baltasar was reigning—acting as king—for the first year, Daniel saw a vision beside (παρὰ) his head upon his bed. Then Daniel wrote the vision which he had seen in heads (chapters, κεφάλαια) of narration (λόγων)." While these words do not necessarily imply that Belshazzar was not king, but only acting as king, they yet may mean this. We know now that for five years during the nominal reign of his father Nabunahid, Belshazzar really reigned. Theodotion does not absolutely agree with the Massoretic reading here, "In the first year of Belshazzar King of the Chaldeans, Daniel saw a dream (ἐνύπνιον) and the visions of his head upon his bed, and he wrote the dream." The omission of the final clause will be observed. The Peshitta is closer to the Massoretic; it differs, in fact, only by the insertion of malcootha, "the reign of," before "Belshazzar." This is, in all probability, the original heading of the tract in which Daniel first published his prophecy. What were the circumstances, so far as we can attain a knowledge of them, when thus the future was revealed to Daniel? The Scythian forces under Astyages had conquered all the countries intermediate between the steppes whence they had come and Babylonia. Above all, they had overthrown the Median Empire, that was closely associated with that of Babylon. They had pressed in upon Babylonia, and were besieging its cities when Cyrus, the King of Ansan, rebelled against Astyages. We may imagine that, from the extent of their empire, the Manda would have to be somewhat scattered. Cyrus then might easily gain advantage over the small division of Manda that held the canton of Ansan. As usually, the attacks of Elam and Media on Babylonia and Assyria had been made across the canton of Ansan; the rebellion of Ansan would thus separate the Manda in Elam and Media from those in Babylonia—the latter being the main portion. Cyrus succeeded in rousing the Medes, Elamites, and Persians against this invading horde, and wrested the power from them. Nabunahid, in a pious inscription, regards Cyrus as the instrument in the hand of Marduk to overthrow these oppressive Manda. Shortly after this uprising of Cyrus, Nabunahid is to appearance stricken with illness, and for several years takes no part in the business of the empire. In the seventh year of Nabunahid, we learn from the annals that the king was in Tema, and did not come to Babylon, but that the king's son conducted the affairs of the monarchy. It was probably, then, in this year, when Cyrus had defeated the Scythians, and had driven them out of Elam, Media, and Babylonia, that Daniel had the vision recounted in this chapter. Keen political insight might easily foresee the events in the comparatively immediate future. The rise of a vigorous new power like that of Persia meant menace to the neighbeuring powers. Babylonia, filled with treachery and discontent, was in no condition to resist. The fall of Babylon seemed imminent—its place was to be taken by Persia. But Babylon had succeeded Assyria, and before Assyria had been the empires of Egypt and the Hittites. He remembered the dream of his old master Nebuchadnezzar. Now a dream is vouchsafed to himself, which repeats the vision of Nebuchadnezzar with some differences. He is reminded that the changes that come over the affairs of men are not unending. The rise and fall of empires is not the confused whirl of uncontrolled atoms, but all tending towards an end—the establishment of the kingdom of God upon the earth.
Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. The Septuagint omits the introductory clause, and renders, "On my couch I saw in my night-sleep, and, behold, the four winds of heaven fell upon the great sea." Theodotion, like the LXX; omits the introductory clause, and renders, "I Daniel beheld, and, lo, the four winds of the heaven rushed upon (προσέβαλον) the great sea." The Peshitta seems as if transferred from the Massoretic text, the resemblance is so close. The variations in the Greek Version may be due to condensation of a fuller narrative. The verb translated "strove" in our Authorized Version is better rendered, as in the Revised, "brake forth upon." Luther's version is, "sturmeten wider einander." This, like the Authorized Version, seems to be the result of the Vulgate pugnabant. The only objection to this is that it ought to be followed by a preposition (Bevan). The translation suggested by Levy, "stirred up," appears still better. The sea referred to is naturally to be taken as the Mediterranean; it is "the great sea" of the prophets (Ezekiel 47:10). Jerusalem is not so far from the sea but that Daniel might have seen it in his boyhood. The symbolic meaning of the sea is the mass of heathen nations (Psalms 65:7). The "four winds of heaven" usually stand for the points of the compass (Jeremiah 49:34). Here, however, the winds are pictured as actual forces dashing down upon the sea, and stirring it up to its depths. It may be objected that this is an impossible picture. It might be replied that Virgil, in the first book of the 'AEneid,' 84-86, and Milton, in 'Paradise Regained,' has the same thing. Daniel has more freedom, for he narrates a vision, and, further, to him the winds (rucheen) were under the guidance of angels. Hitzig denies that the winds can be angelicae potestates, as Jerome maintains; and, when Jerome supports his position by a quotation from the Septuagint Version of Deuteronomy 32:8, gives as answer a mark of exclamation. The passage, "He set the nations according to the number of the angels of God," represents a phase of thought in regard to angelology, which Daniel elsewhere obviously has. The double meaning of the word ruach made the transition easy. We see the same double meaning in Zechariah 6:5. The sea, then, is to be regarded as the great mass of Gentile nations, and the winds are, therefore, the spiritual agencies by which God carries on the history of the world. As there are four winds, there are also four empires. There are angelic princes of at least two of these empires referred to later. May we not argue that these empires had, according to the thought of Daniel, each an angelic head? It may be doubted whether the most advanced critics know more of angelology than Daniel, or can be certain that his view was a mistaken one. Moreover, the Mediterranean Sea was the centre round which the epic of history, as revealed to Daniel, unfolded itself. Nebuchadnezzar marched along the eastern shores of that midland sea; the Persian monarchs essayed to command it by their fleets; across a branch of that sea came Alexander; and from yet further across its blue waters came the Romans. The Mediterranean saw most of the history transacted that took place between the time of Daniel and that of our Lord.
And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The Septuagint rendering omits "great;" otherwise it is a closely accurate representation of the Massoretic text, save that the translator seems to have had, not דא מן־דּא, but as in the Syriac, חדא מן־חדא, as he renders ἓν παρὰ τὸ ἕν. Theodotion has μεγάλα, but does not so slavishly follow the Aramaic construction at the end. The Peshitta is very close to the Massoretic, save that in the last clause it agrees with the LXX. The number four is, in apocalyptic writings, significant of the world; "the four winds" mean the whole world. Here it is human history that is summed up in the four beasts. So in Zechariah we have "four horns" that symbolize the oppressors of the people of God (Daniel 1:18; Daniel 2:1). We have "four" chariots in the sixth chapter of Zechariah, which seem to be symbols of the same thing. Beasts. Animals of one sort or another are used of nations in the prophets; thus Egypt is symbolized in Isaiah 27:1-13, as "leviathan," presumably a crocodile (Isaiah 51:7), as "a dragon" in Ezekiel 29:3 Babylonia is figured as an eagle (Ezekiel 17:3). Composite beings are used as symbols also, as Tyro is addressed as a '"covering cherub." In the Book of Revelation Rome is figured as a beast with seven heads and ten horns (Revelation 13:1). In the Book of Enoch (85.—90.) we find this figurative use of animals carried much further. Assyria and Babylonia and, following them, Persia made great use of composite, monstrous animal forms as symbols, not so much, however, of political as of spiritual powers. This distinction is the less important, that political events were regarded as the production of spiritual activity.
The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wing. thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it. The LXX. and Theodotion render "lioness," but otherwise agree with the Massoretic text. The Peshitta does not differ from the received text. The word אריה is epicene. It is, however, to be noted that in later Aramaic the terminal letter was ,א not .ה The word gappeen, "wings," is worthy of note; in this form it appears in the Peshitta, i.e. in Eastern Aramaic; genappeen is the Targumie form. No modern commentator has doubted, with, I think, the single exception of Dr. Bonnar ('Great Interregnum'), that the first beast here is the Babylonian Empire (Hitzig, Zöckler, Kliefoth, etc.). Nebuchadnezzar is compared (Jeremiah 49:19) to a lion and to an eagle (Jeremiah 4:7; also Ezekiel 17:3), and suitable to this are the winged human-headed figures found in the ruins of Nineveh and Babylon. If we assume that the empire of Babylon is represented by this first beast, then we have to note, in the first place, the avoidance of any reference to numbers. It may be objected that the "eagle's wings," גַפִּין (gappeen), are in the dual. Yet the number two is not mentioned. That the word was in the dual in the pre-Massoretic text does not appear from the versions, so the correctness of the dual pointing may be doubted. Unity was the mark of the Babylonian Empire in the vision of Nebuchadnezzar, and unity still remains its numerical sign. As swiftness and aggressiveness are symbolized by wings, especially "eagle's wings," when we read, "I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked," we learn that before the fall of Babylon a period set in, during which Babylonia ceased to be the aggressive conquering power it had been. A man's heart was given to it. J.D. Michaelis thinks the reference here is to the fact that when they first broke from their original seats, the Chaldeans were barbarians, but they became civilized in Babylonia. We know more now of the early history of Babylon and of the Chaldeans, and know that at one time the latter were divided into many cantons, each under its separate king, and that on and after the conquest of Babylon by Merodach-Baladan, they became more able to act in concert. The circumstances connected with the accession of Nabopolassar are wrapped in mystery. However, it is clear this cannot be the reference here. The giving of the man's heart is brought into close relationship with the plucking of the wings. This fact also decides us against the view so generally maintained, that there is here a reference to the madness of Nebuchadnezzar. In his case the heart of a beast was given to a man; in the case before us the heart of a man is given to a beast. To us the contrast seems more obvious than the resemblance. Much superior is Calvin's interpretation. Speaking of the phrases, "set upon his feet," and "the heart of a man was given to him," Calvin says, "By these modes of speech one understands that the Assyrians and Chaldeans were reduced in rank—that now they were not like lions, but like men". This is the view of Behrmann. There is no reference, then, to any supposed humanizing influences which manifested themselves in Babylonian methods of government after Nebuchadnezzar was restored to his reason. From being an empire that spread its wings over the earth, it became limited very much to Babylonia, if not at times to little more than the territory surrounding the city of Babylon. We find that Nabunahid felt himself ready to be overwhelmed by the encroaching Manda. He manifests nothing of lion-like courage or eagle-like swiftness of assault. This was the state of things when Daniel had this vision. Nabunahid was in Tema, while his son did his best to defend the frontier against the threatening encroachments of Cyrus. Hitzig and Havernick maintain that the attitude suggested by the phrase, "set upon its feet," is what, in heraldic language, is called "rampant;" it is possible, but it rather militates against the natural meaning of the words. Before leaving this, it must be noted that, as in the vision Nebuchadnezzar had of the statue, the symbol of the Babylonian Empire is the noblest metal—the head of gold. Here the noblest animal is the symbol of Babylon—"the lion." The same reason may be assigned here for this, as in the passage in the second chapter for that—that the Babylonian Empire had more in it of the symbol of Divine government. No monarch was more like a god to his subjects; his power was unchecked, unlimited, uncontrolled.
And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. The Septuagint rendering here differs but slightly. "A second" is omitted, and instead of "they said", it is "one said" or "he said." Theodotion agrees with the Septuagint in omitting the word "second," but agrees with the Massoretic in having "they said." The Peshitta begins more abruptly than the others, "And the second beast [was] like to a bear," etc. In regard to the Aramaic text, the use of the haphel form must be observed. The presence of the שׂ instead of the סis an indication of antiquity in the word בְּשַׂר (besar), which becomes in the Targums בְּסַד. It has been supposed that the reading should be בִשֵׁר (bishayr) with שׁ, which would mean" dominion"—a phrase that would give a sense out of harmony with the context. It is in regard to the meaning of this symbol that interpreters begin to be divided. The most common view is that this refers to the Median Empire. There is nothing to support the assumption that the author of Daniel distinguished between the Median and the Persian empires; everything, indeed, which, fairly interpreted, proves that, while he regarded the races as different, he looked upon the empire as one. It is the laws of "the Medes and the Persians" that are appealed to before Darius the Mede. The united empire is symbolized as a ram with two horns. Dr. Davidson, in his review of Professor Bevan's Commentary (Critical Review) on Daniel, shows the duality indicated by the animal raising one of its two sides. That one race was stronger than the other had to be symbolized, and this was done by making the symbolic animal raise one side. The attitude at first sight may be difficult to comprehend. There is a figure in Rawlinson's 'Five Great Monarchies,' vol. 1. p. 332, in which a pair of winged bulls are kneeling with one leg; the side opposite to the kneeling leg is thus the higher. Kliefoth denounces this interpretation as mistaken, without assigning any reason against it. The interpretation by which he would supersede it is that it means "to one side of Babylonia." There is no reference to locality at all. Moreover, as all the animals come out of the sea, their relationship to Babylonia would be remote. It had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it. What is meant by these three ribs has been much debated. In the first place, Havernick thinks that it is a mistake to translate עלעין (‛il‛een) "ribs;" he maintains the true rendering to be "tusks." He identifies עלע with צלע (Hebrew); but even if we grant this identification, we do not find any justification for this rendering. The word for "tusks" seems rather to be ניבי, which occurs in the Targum of Joel 1:6 and Job 29:17, and the same word occurs in the Peshitta. At the same time, the symmetry of the figure would fit some such view. In none of the other beasts is there any reference to what they are devouring. Still, one cannot lay stress on this. When we come to consider what is meant by the "three ribs," we have great diversity of opinion. On the supposition that the ribs are in the mouth of the bear, and being gnawed by it, it must mean that at the time when by the conquest of Babylon it came into the apocalyptic succession, the bear-empire had laid waste three territories. Ewald agrees that three countries must be meant, but assumes these countries to be Babylonia, Assyria, Syria. There is no evidence, Biblical or other, that the Median Empire ever extended to Syria. If we grant that the author of Daniel lived in the time of Epiphanes, then no authority open to him, so tar as we know, brought the Medes into Syria before the day of the Persian rule. We need not assume a blunder for our author, and then build further assumptions on that assumed blunder. Moreover, by the conquest of Babylonia and Assyria, the bear came into the apocalyptic succession, whereas he had already devoured those provinces represented by ribs when he appears. Hitzig, following Ben Ezra, takes the ribs as three cities—Nineveh and two others. There seems nothing to identify "ribs" with "cities;" we can imagine it to mean "provinces." Thus we are led to Kraniehfeld's opinion, that it represents constituent portions of an older confederation broken up. The view of Kliefoth, that the conquests of the Medo-Persian Empire are intended—Babylonia, Lydia, and Egypt—sins again st the symbol, which implies that the ribs are already in the bear's teeth when he enters into the sphere of apocalyptic history. Jephet-ibn-Ali maintains the "three fibs" to refer to the three quarters of the world over which the Persian Empire ruled; and this is the view of Keil. It seems better, with Von Lengerke, to regard the number three as not important, but a general term for a few, though, at the same time, we can make approximation to the number when we look not at the Medea, but at Cyrus. Moreover, had we a better knowledge of early apocalyptic, it is at least a possible thing that we might find that "three" was the designating number of Lydia or Armenia, as "two" was of Medo-Persia, "four" of Greece, "five" of Egypt, and "ten" of Rome. It seems to us that the position of Cyrus—at the time we assume the vision to have been given to Daniel—suits admirably with the picture of the bear. Like the bear, he came from the mountains, in contradistinction from the lion of the plains. He united under his rule his hereditary kingdom Ansan, Elam, and Media. Thus we might have the three ribs if we might lay aside the notion of these being devoured. He overthrew the Manda and Croesus before he conquered Babylon, and it is probable that Armenia had also to be conquered before he could encounter Croesus. It is singular that writers who are determined to maintain that Daniel drew all his information as to Babylonian history from Jeremiah and other early writers, should also, by implication, maintain that, in defiance of the continual mention by these writers of kings of the Medes, as if they were a numerous confederacy (Jeremiah 51:11), Daniel held that there was a united empire of the Medes separate from the Persian Empire. The second empire is not, as maintained by Ewald, represented by a bear, "because its empire was less extensive than that of Babylon," but because it was a falling off from the theocratic monarch—the monarch who ruled as God. They said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. The speakers here may be "the watchers," or it may be used impersonally. On the assumption that the bear is the shadowy Median Empire, what meaning can this command have? The Medes, as distinct from the Persians, by the time that Epiphanes ascended the throne, had become very shadowy. The scriptural account of them does not represent them as pre-eminently cruel. Isaiah (Isaiah 13:17) foretells they will conquer Babylon, with all the concomitants of a city taken by assault. Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:25) places the Medes with other nations under the dominion of Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon, and (Jeremiah 51:11, Jeremiah 51:28) he too asserts that the Modes will assail Babylon. There is nothing here to indicate the expectation that Media should be a pre-eminently destructive power. This applied correctly enough to Persia. Even on the assumption that the author of Daniel was a Jew of the time of Epiphanes, it seems very improbable that he should have placed Media as an empire coordinate with Babylonia, Persia, and the Greek Empire of Alexander and his successors. Still more improbable that he should attribute pre-eminent cruelty to it, when all the cruelty ascribed to the Medes by the prophets was exercised against Babylon, and even that was not beyond the ordinary measure exercised by a conqueror in a city taken by assault,
After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. The LXX. rendering is shorter, "And after these things I saw another beast, like a leopard, and four wings stretched over it (ἐπέτεινον), and there were four heads to the beast." The grammar of this is difficult to understand. As it stands, it must be translated as above; if, however, we might read ἐπὶτεινον, we should avoid the solecism of uniting a neuter plural to a plural verb, rendering, "and it stretched," etc. Paulus Tellensis renders as above, and adds a clause, "and a tongue was given to it"—a reading to all appearance due to the transposal of לand שׁ. It is difficult, on the present text, to explain how the LXX. rendered "wings of a fowl," "stretched over it." If, however, the original word were that used in the Peshitta, see word (parehatha), it is explicable that this should have been read פְרַשׁוּ. Theodotion and the Peshitta do not differ from the Massoretic text. The majority of critical commentators maintain this to be the Persian Empire. A leopard is a less animal than a bear, and therefore, according to the argument these critics used with regard to the second empire, it ought to mean that it symbolized a still smaller empire. That, however, is impossible. No Jew of the age of the Maccabees could have been under that impression. Moreover, we have the four wings declared to mean that the Persian power extended to all quarters of the world, and attention is directed to the fact that the statement is made concerning it, "dominion was given to it." This assumes, what would be admitted by everybody to be contrary to fact, had the critics not a further conclusion in view. The traditional interpretation is that the Hellenic Empire—that of Alexander the Great and his successors—is intended here. In defence of this we have the fact that four, as we have just said, is the numerical sign of the Greek power. In the following chapter we have the goat, with its one notable horn, which, on being broken off, is replaced by four. In the eleventh chapter we are told that Alexander's empire is to be divided to the four winds of heaven. But "wings" are not prophetically so much the symbol of extensive dominion, as of rapidity of movement. If Nebuchadnezzar (Ezekiel 17:3) is a great eagle with long wings, it is because of the rapidity of his conquests. Jeremiah says of his horses, they are "swifter than eagles." Again in Lamentations, "Our persecutors are swifter than eagles." Wings, then, symbolize swiftness of motion. If we turn to the next chapter, the swiftness of Alexander's conquests is the point that most impresses the seer. Swiftness, compared either with the conquests of Nebuchadnezzar or of Alexander, was not the characteristic of the Persian conquests. Cyrus, in the course of thirty years, had subdued Asia Minor, probably Armenia; had relieved Media, Elam, and Persia from the alien yoke of the Manda; and had conquered Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar, after the battle of Carehemish, had advanced to the river of Egypt. We do not know the extent and direction of his many campaigns, but rapidity of movement characterized some of them we do know, and Alexander's conquests were made with extreme rapidity. Altogether the figure seems much more suitable for the empire of Alexander than for that of the Persians.
After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. The version of the LXX. differs considerably, though not essentially, "After these things I beheld in a night vision a fourth terrible beast, and the fear of it excelled in strength; it had great iron teeth, it devoured and pounded down; it trode round about with its feet; it differed from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns, and many counsels were in its horns." The sense of this does not really differ, save in the last clause, which seems to belong to the next verse. Theodotion agrees with the Massoretic text. The Peshitta differs only by having" after these things," following the LXX; instead of "after this." The identification of the empire intended by this beast has been the crux of interpreters. Practically all ancient authorities—Josephus, and the author of the Apocalypse of Baruch being among the number—maintain the Roman Empire to be meant. On the other hand, a very large number of modern critics, not merely of the exclusively critical school, have held that it refers either to the Greek Empire as a whole, or to the Seleucid portion of it. As we shall discuss this subject in a separate excursus, we shall at present look at the principles to be adopted in dealing with such a question. The important point is the numerical note of this "beast." It is "ten"—the same it may be remarked, as in the feet of the image of Nebuchadnezzar's dream. When we turn from the Apocalypse of the Old Testament to the Apocalypse of the New, we find "ten" the note of Rome. Even though we should put this to the one side, as merely the opinion of an apostle, and therefore not to be considered at all in comparison with that of Hitzig or Von Lengerke, yet he was writing little more than a couple of centuries from the time when, according to critics, Daniel was written; moreover, he was in the direct line of apocalyptic tradition. The Apocalypse of Baruch, written in all probability b.c. 60, has the same view, and it is separated by little more than a century from the time of the Maccabees. The Fourth Book of Esdras, written about a.d. 80, has the same view. All three books imply that it is the universally received opinion. This view is really the only one that fairly meets the case. The view which separates the Seleucid Empire from that of Alexander may be laid aside, although the first three empires are correctly interpreted, because it is directly controverted by the statement that this fourth empire is to be diverse from all that had gone before. The empire of the Seleucids was in no sense diverse from that of Alexander. This fourth empire was to be stronger than all that had gone before. The Seleucid Empire was notoriously and obviously less powerful than the empire of Alexander had been, and was merely a match for the empire of the Ptolemies. Further, the next chapter shows that the writer of Daniel regarded the empire of the Diadochi as really a continuation of that of Alexander the Great. The other view rests on a division between the Median and the Persian empires, which is contradicted by any fair interpretation of this book. The next chapter shows clearly that the writer regarded the Medo-Persian power as one, but as having two dominant races. The" great iron teeth" of the beast have a reference to the iron legs of the dream-image which appeared to Nebuchadnezzar. This beast "is diverse from all the beasts that were before it." In all the previous empires, the constitution was avowedly monarchical. With the Roman, the republican constitution appeared, and even under the emperors the forms of that constitution were preserved. In this sense it was diverse from all the preceding empires. Mr. Bevan thinks "the actrocious massacres at Tyro and elsewhere, by which Alexander endeavoured to strike terror into the conquered races," is symbolized by the monster "devouring, crushing," etc. Mr. Bevan must never have read the accounts of the conquests of Asshur-bani-pal. He seems to have forgotten the treatment meted out to Samos and Miletus by the Persians.
I considered the horns, and,behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things. The Septuagint Version, if we consider it a rendering of the Massorotic, begins really with the words which are made in it the last clause of the preceding verse, "And counsels were many in its horns." This reading is certainly not to be preferred, although it can easily be understood how it has arisen. The version proceeds, "And behold another born sprang up in the midst of them—little in its horns"—this latter is a doublet—"and three of the former horns were rooted cut by it, and, behold, eyes as human eyes were in this horn, and a mouth speaking great things, and it made war against the saints." Theodotion is practically in agreement with the Massoretic text, as is also the Peshitta. As Daniel is gazing, his attention is directed to the horns; he sees their appearance changing. An eleventh horn springs up, much less than any of the former ten; quickly, however, it grows, and before its growth three of the former horns are rooted up. This horn now drew his gaze from all the others: it had human eyes, it had a mouth speaking great things. In the changes of the dream the horn now seems separated from the animal on which it is; it becomes an oppressor, and makes war upon the saints. It is usual to identify this horn with that in Daniel 8:7. When carefully looked at, the alleged resemblance is reduced to the fact that in both cases "a horn" is used as a symbol of an oppressor of the saints. We must remember that, according to the figure, these ten horns are contemporary. If we take the typology of the next chapter as our guide, these horns are kingdoms or dynasties. Unlike the Greek Empire, which split up into four, this fourth empire splits up into ten. Another dynasty rises up and sweeps away three of these earlier dynasties. Nothing like this occurred in regard to the empire of the Diadochi. Of course, it is true the number ought not to be pressed, save as a designative symbol. There must, however, be more than five or six, as in such a case four would be a more natural general number. It may, however, be twelve or fifteen. Several events in the history of the kingdoms that have followed the Roman Empire might satisfy one part of this picture—the replacing of three kingdoms by one. It is a possible enough view that provinces may be referred to, as Jephet-ibn. Ali maintains. As, however, the primary significance of the "horn" is power, the most probable solution seems to us to be to take the "ten" horns as the magistracies of Republican Rome. If we reckon the magistracies, there were fewer, if we take the distinctive individuals occupying the magistracies, more, than ten. The imperial form of government replaced several of these magistracies, which may roughly be reckoned at three. Certainly of the imperial power it might be said that it had a mouth "speaking great things;" for the claim to deification made openly was certainly a new claim. Other monarchs had claimed to be the sons of their god; only the Roman emperors were addressed as divus during their lifetime. Certainly the empire made war against the saints—against the people of God. It was Nero, a Roman emperor, who decreed war against the Jews; it was Vespasian, another Roman emperor, that began the conquest of Palestine; it was Titus, a third Roman emperor, that captured Jerusalem. Some support may be found for the Jewish idea that it is Titus personally. If we are permitted to take the ten horns as successive emperors, he was the eleventh emperor, and three emperors were swept away before the Flavian dynasty. We must reserve fuller discussion of this subject to a special excursus.
Daniel 7:9, Daniel 7:10
I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. The Septuagint Version here does not differ much from the Massoretic save that there are two cases of-doublet. Theodotion and the Peshitta are evidently translated from a text identical with that of the Massoretic. There is, however, one point where the versions agree against the Authorized Version—the thrones are not cast down, they are "placed," as in the Revised. Luther and most German commentators render thus, as does Jerome. Ewald translates "cast," that is, "set." In the third chapter, where we have the same word, it means" cast down; "this leads us to prefer the Authorized rendering. The word for "throne" is to be observed. It means not so much the throne-royal as the seat of a judge (Behrmann); but the office of judge was that essentially of the king. The Ancient of days did sit. It is not "the Ancient of days," but "one ancient in days," that is to say, the phrase is not appellative, but descriptive. After the thrones of these earlier kingdoms were cast down, then one appeared like an old man clad in a garment of snowy whiteness, and the hair of his head as wool. That this is a symbolic appearance of God is beyond doubt. Ewald remarks on the grandeur of the description as excelling in boldness even the vision of Ezekiel. The throne, the judgment-seat of the Ancient of days, is a chariot of "fiery flame," with "wheels of burning fire"—a description that suggests the translation of Elijah. His throne is at once the judge's scat and the chariot of the warrior. From beneath this chariot-throne "a fiery stream issued forth." In the Book of Revelation (Revelation 22:1), from beneath the throne of God there issued the river of the water of life, clear as crystal Compare with this also Enoch Rev 14:9 -22. Enoch's description is derived from this, but amplified to a great extent. Thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times tea thousand stood before him. The word "thousands" in the Aramaic has the Hebrew plural termination in the K'thib, but in the most ancient forms of Aramaic there are many points where the two tongues have not yet diverged. The symbol here is of a royal court, only the numbers are vaster than any earthly court could show. The angels of God are present to carry out the decisions of the judgment. Compare with this Enoch Revelation 1:9 (Charles's trans), "Lo! he comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment upon them." Those that minister unto the Judge are those whose duty it is to carry out the Divine sentence; those who stand before him are those who are spectators of this great assize. The judgment was set. This translation is not accurate. The word translated "was set" is the same as that rendered in the second clause of the preceding verse "did sit." Again, although deena', thus vocalized, means "judgment," it may be differently vocalized, dayyana, and mean "Judge." If we take the present pointing, the phrase may be taken as equivalent to "the assize began." And the books were opened. It ought to be noted that the word here used for" books" is derived from a root primarily meaning "engrave." The Babylonian books, as they have come down to us, are clay tablets "engraved" or "impressed" with letters. We have all manner of legal documents in this form. The piles of tiles and cylinders which contain the deeds of those before the judgment-seat stand before the Judge. One by one they are displayed before him. The scene presented is one of unspeakable grandeur, and all put before us with a few masterly strokes. We see the great fiery throne'; the Judge, awful with the dignity of unnumbered ages, attended by a million of angels who are ready to do his will; and a hundred million watching and listening spectators. We find that this description of the judgment in the first Apocalypse reappears, modified and made yet more solemn, in the last Apocalypse. We are, however, not to regard this as the final judgment. Daniel is rather admitted into the presence of God in the heavens, and sees his judgment continually being prepared against the wicked.
I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. The Septuagint Version has been translated from the same text; but the word translated "because" is rendered τότε, "then," according to the usual meaning of the word. Theodotion has a doublet. The Peshitta is much briefer, "I saw that this beast was slain, and its body destroyed, and it was cast into the flame of fire." The voice of the great words; that is, blasphemies. The punishment of blasphemy among the Babylonians was burning. On account of the blasphemies of the little horn, the whole empire to which it belonged was destroyed. If we regard the fourth beast as Rome, and the little horn the imperial dignity, it was on account of its blasphemies that the empire really ceased. The blasphemous claim to divinity wrought madness in the minds of such youths as Caligula, Nero, Commodus, Caracalla, and Heliogabalus. The process might be a slow one. God had his purpose in the history of the race to work out by the Roman Empire; yet it was none the less the madness of the emperors that brought the empire down. The way the provinces were harried by barbarians East and West could well be described as burning the body of it with fire.
As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. The version of the LXX. has a different reference, "And those about him he took away from their dominion, and time of life was given them for a time and a season." Here, as in the seventh verse, we have shear. The reference then would be to the horns that still remained after the one blaspheming horn was destroyed. Theodotion agrees with the Massoretic. The Peshitta differs, but only slightly. As the Massoretic text stands, there is difficulty in maintaining that the reference here cannot be to any other than to the other three beasts. They should still occupy a place, but possess no dominion, even after they were removed from supreme authority. After Babylon lost imperial power, it still continued for a time a highly important province in the Persian Empire, and the sensibilities of the inhabitants were considered throughout the whole period of the Persian rule. After the Persian Empire was overturned by Alexander, there was still the province of Persis; and from the remains of the Persian Empire sprang up Parthia, and then the second Persian Empire; and after the rule of the caliphs had been broken, Persia revived as a Mohammedan power. When the Greek Empire fell, Greece still survived, not independent, but still influential. It is difficult to see what meaning this verse could have to one living at the time of the Maccabees, especially it' he thought the Greek Empire was the fourth. Parthia certainly might represent Persia, but where was Media? "For a season and a time" does not refer to any definite time. Jephet-ibn-Ali regards the reference till the end of the rule of the fourth beast. This militates against the idea that ‛iddan must always mean "a year."
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. The version of the Septuagint is different in the last two clauses of this verse, "As the Ancient of days he came, and those standing around were present to him." Although the reading here is supported by Paulus Tellensis, we suspect some error of copyists. Theodotion practically agrees with the Massoretic. The Peshitta renders the last clause, "Those standing before him approached him." These earthly kingdoms having been destroyed, the new kingdom of God is ushered in. "A son of man" (not "the Son of man," as in our Authorized Version) appears in the clouds of heaven. It is a question whether this is the King of the Divine kingdom, the personal Messiah, or the kingdom itself personified. It is agreed that, as the previous kingdoms were represented by a beast, a man would be necessary symmetrically to represent at once the fact that it is an empire as those were, but unlike them in being of a higher class, as man is higher than the beasts. Further, it is brought in line with the image-vision of the second chapter, where the stone cut out of the mountain destroys the image. But we must beware of applying mere logic to apocalyptic. In this vision we see that "a man's heart" really meant weakness as compared with the courage and strength represented by the lion. Further, the point of distinction between this vision and that of Nebuchadnezzar is that this is more dynastic, looking at the monarchs, while the other looks at the powers—the empires as distinct from their personal rulers. Hence, while the Son of man here refers to the Messianic kingdom, it is in the Person of its King. It is to be observed that, while the beasts came up out of the sea, the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven. This indicates the Divine origin of the Messiah. That the writer might not apprehend this is no argument against this being really symbolized. When he comes to the throne of the Ancient of days, he is accompanied to the presence of the Judge by the attendant angels—a scene which might seem to justify the LXX. Version of Deuteronomy 32:43 as applied by the writer of the Hebrews.
And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. The versions differ only slightly and verbally from this. The personal element is here made prominent. Compare with this Revelation 5:12, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." The Messianic kingdom, and with it the Messiah, was to be everlasting. The resemblance is great, as might be expected, between this statement and that in Daniel 2:44, "A kingdom which shall never be destroyed, and the kingdom shall not be left to other people." It is to be noted that even his dominion is bestowed upon him. The Ancient of days, whose sentence has deprived the other dynasties of theft empire, bestows boundless empire on the Messiah (Comp. Psalms 2:1-12. and 72.). Jeremiah's account of the state of matters on the return from the Captivity (Jeremiah 30:21)is compared to this by Hitzig; but there it is not a king who is to come near before God, it is simply "governor" (mashal). In Jeremiah we have to do with a subject-people living in the fear of the Lord, but under the yoke of a foreign power.
Ecursus on The Son of Man.
The title given here to the Messiah for the first time, appears prominently in the Book of Enoch, and becomes consecrated to us in the lips of our Lord, as the favourite title by which he designated himself as the Messiah.
The phrase, "son of man," ben-adam, is used of man as contrasted with God: Numbers 23:19, "God is not a man that he should lie, nor the son of man that he should repent;" of man as weak: Isaiah 51:12, "Who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as the grass?" (so Job 25:6; Psalms 144:3). Again, it is used simply as equivalent to "man:" Jeremiah 49:18, "No man shall abide there, neither shall son of man dwell in it" (see also Jeremiah 51:43). The contrast, so far as there is a contrast, is between אִישׁ and בֶּן־אָדָם. In the Psalms we have benee adam and benee ish contrasted: Psalms 62:9, "Surely men of low degree (benee adam) are vanity, and men of high degree (benee ish) are a lie." This distinction does not apply to Aramaic, in which enush is the only generally used word for "man." In the prophecies of Ezekiel the phrase becomes determinative of the prophet. The question is complicated, however, by the fact that in Eastern Aramaic barnesh, a contraction for barenasho, is used very generally for "men," as col-bar-nesh, "everybody." It also occurs in this sense in Targumic, though more rarely, as Job 5:7. The title here, then, simply declares that one, having the appearance of a man, was seen coming in the clouds of heaven. The phrase in the Peshitta for "the Son of man" is bareh d‛nosh. It is implied that this mysterious Being had the form of a man, but further, it is implied that he was other than man. In the Book of Enoch the phrase has ceased to be descriptive merely, and has become an appellation. Thus Enoch 46.:
"(1) And there I saw one who had a head of days, and his head was white like wool, and with him was another being, whose countenance had the appearance of a man, and his face was full of graciousness like one of the holy angels.
(2) And I asked the angel who went with me and showed me all the hidden things concerning that Son of man, who he was, and why he went with the Head of days.
(3) And he answered and said unto me, This is the Son of man, who hath righteousness, with whom dwelleth righteousness, and who reveals all the treasures of that which is hidden, because the Lord of spirits hath chosen him, and his lot before the Lord of spirits hath surpassed everything in uprightness for ever." This is clearly borrowed from the chapter before us. Elsewhere£ we have endeavoured to fix the date of this part of the Book of Enoch, as b.c. 210. Of course, in this view the Maccabean origin of Daniel is definitely set aside. If, however, we take the date assigned to this part by Mr. Charles, then we have a choice between approximately b.c. 90 and b.c. 70. Even then the date seems too near the critical date of Daniel to explain the rapid development the idea has undergone. In Daniel the person "like a son of man" may be a personification of Israel, though not naturally so; here in Enoch we have to do with a super-angelic being.
As to the question of the reference of the title, it has been doubted whether it is to be held as applying to the Messiah, the Messianic kingdom, or to the people of Israel. The last view is that of Hitzig and many other critics of his school. It practically involves a denial of the truth of the idea that the Jews ever had Messianic hopes. In the present case there is nothing to indicate any reference to Israel personified. While there might be some plausibility in arguing from each of the four beasts representing empires that this "Son of man" should represent an empire also; it must be observed that in all the other cases there is a peculiarity which marks off the animal as merely a symbol: the lion has wings; the bear has three ribs in its teeth; the leopard has four heads and four wings; and the last, unnamed, beast has ten heads and iron teeth. Further, this "Son of man" is brought to the Ancient of days, and does not merely appear as do the "beasts." He has thus many of the characteristics of a person. The other view, that the "Son of man" indicates the Messianic kingdom, thus comes into line with the view of Hitzig. The view that it is the Messiah who is meant by the "Son of man" was held practically by all interpreters, Jewish and Christian, until the middle of last century.
If we look at the phenomenon of prophetism, we shall find ourselves open to another view of the matter. From 1 Peter 1:10 we see that prophets did not necessarily know the meaning of their own prophecies. It might well be, then, that to Daniel the distinction between the Messianic King and the Messianic kingdom was not one clearly apprehended. We see in the prophecies of the second Isaiah that the "servant of the Lord" is first the holy people, then the prophetic order, and latterly a person. There probably was a similar uncertainty here. If we grant this indeffiniteness, the next question that rises is—What is the special aspect of the Messianic kingdom that is intended to be portrayed when this title is given to its King? If we are guided by what is incomparably the oldest interpretation, that of the second Book of Enoch, this title implies an incalculable dignity. When we come to our Lord's use of it in the Gospels, there is nothing to oppose this. Thus John 5:22, "And hath committed all judgment unto him, because he is the Son of man;" so Matthew 9:6, "The Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins." This is not contradicted by Matthew 8:20, "The foxes have holes,… but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." The emphasis of the statement lies in the contrast between the inexpressible dignity of the Person and the poverty of his earthly circumstances. It is because the ideas of superhuman dignity had been associated with the title that our Lord had, in foretelling his approaching crucifixion,. to bring the two facts into close connection, "The Son of man must be lifted up." So after Peter's confession, "The Son of man must suffer many things." We see that the multitude of the Jews understood the title to have this lofty meaning, for they demand (John 12:34), "How sayest thou, The Sen of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man?" The attempts to make it imply something humiliating by dwelling on the fact that not adam or ish is the word for "man," but 'enosh, are beside the question, for these deductions apply to the Hebrew words, not to .the Aramaic. And in Aramaic neither ish nor adam is in common use as equivalent for "man." It is as much beside the point as if one, knowing the difference between man and mann in German, should lay stress on the fact that in this phrase in English "man" has only one n.
The connection of this surpassing dignity with humanity has probably deep roots in human nature. The late Professor Fuller saw reference here to the function occupied by Silik-mooloo-Khi as mediator between Hea and mankind, and to the further development of this in the Zoroastrian doctrine of a sosiosh, or redeemer. The fall investigation of this is beside our present purpose.
I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things. These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth, But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever. The version of the Septuagint differs in some points from the Massoretic. In the fifteenth verse there is no reference to the spirit being in the body; it adds "of the night" after "visions," and changes "my head" into "my thoughts." The sixteenth verse presents no essential points of difference. In the seventeenth verse the differences are more considerable, "These great beasts are four kingdoms, which shall be destroyed from the earth." There seems a good deal to be said for the reading behind this version. The first variation, "kingdoms" instead of "kings," may be due to logic, but it has further "destroyed from" instead of "arising out of," which cannot have resulted from the Massoretic. The verb qoom, "to stand up," followed by min, "from," is not elsewhere used in the sense which we find in the Massoretic here. When one is prone on the earth, as Saul before the revelation of the witch of Endor, "he stood up from the earth" (1 Samuel 28:23, Targum Jonathan)—word for word as here. When Abraham (Genesis 23:3, Targum Onkelos) arose from before his dead, we have a similar construction. In 2 Samuel 11:2, "David arose from his couch." This construction involves Change of position, either directly or implicitly. It is difficult to understand how the one reading arose from the other. The condensation of the sense as it appears in the Septuagint is not likely to be attained by a falsarius. In 2 Samuel 11:18 there is nothing calling for remark, save that the reduplication of "for ever and ever "is omitted. While Theodotion is nearer the Massoretic text, he too differs from it in some points—his rendering of nidnay by ἕξις. Schleusner thinks this probably a false reading for ἐκστάσις. However, in Judges 14:9 we have ἕξις used for "body." In the seventeenth verse we have "kingdoms" instead of "kings." The last clause agrees with the Massoretic, but there is subjoined αἱ ἀρθήσονται, "which shall be taken away"—an addition that suggests that some of the manuscripts before Theodotion had the same reading as that before the Septuagint translator. He renders yeqoomoon min by ἀναστήσονται ἐπί, showing that at all events he had a different preposition. The reduplication of "for ever and ever" is omitted. The Peshitta Judges 14:15 has "in the midst of my couch" instead of "in the midst of my body." In the sixteenth verse it resolves the bystanders into "servants." In the seventeenth verse the preposition is not min, but ‛al. Jerome, instead of corpus, "body," has in his, "in these,"—as if he had read b‛idena instead of nidnay; he also in Judges 14:17 reads regna, not reges. The Massoretic text has some peculiarities. The first words afford one of the rare instances where we have the 'ithpael instead of the hithpael; it may be due to scribal correction. In the seventeenth verse 'inoon (K'thib) affords an instance of the frequent Syriasm in Daniel. The "Most High" is rendered by a plural adjective, עֶלְיוֹנִין (‛elyoneen); it is explained differently. Kranichfeld and Stuart regard it as pluralis excellentiae. Bevan and Behrmann regard it as a case of attraction, the latter giving as parallel instances, benee 'ayleem (Psalms 29:1) and benee nebeem. The difficulty remains that neither the pluralis excellentiae nor change of number is known in Aramaic. The fact that this strange form has produced no effect on any of the versions makes the reading suspicious. Professor Fuller sees in this word a proof of Babylonian influence, but he does not assign his reason, We now enter a new stage in the development of this vision. After the wonderful assize has ended, Daniel dreams that he is still standing among these innumerable multitudes, and, feeling that all these things are symbols, he is grieved because he cannot comprehend what is meant by them. So from one of those attendants who crowd the canvas of his vision he asks an explanation, or rather "the certainty," of this vision; he wishes to know whether it is s mere vision or of the nature of a revelation. This is a perfectly natural psychological condition in dreaming. In the act of dreaming we question ourselves whether we are dreaming or not; we may even ask one of the characters in our dream the question. The interpretation is interesting, but has been already, to some extent forestalled. A difficulty is seen by some commentators—how these four kingdoms could be said to arise, when one of them was nearing its fall. If we take the reading of the Septuagint, this difficulty is obviated. Saadia Gaon makes these four kings the nominative to the verb "receive" (wrongly translated in our Authorized Version, "take"), and maintains each of these empires shall hold the kingdom of Israel until the Messiah shall come. This view would necessitate grammatically that the Messiah should never come, but that the reign of these four world-empires should be prolonged into eternity. "The saints of the Most High," in the thought of Daniel would be, of necessity, the Jews; for we need not discuss the possibility of the angels being the holy ones implied here—they always have the kingdoms of the world under them—but we may see the Israel of faith in this figure. The believers in Christ are the true Israel, and the kingdom of heaven which Christ set up is thus promised to fill the earth. The Church is thus the true ultimate state. If we regard the Church as a society formed of those who are mutually attracted to each other. have a mutual love for each other, end have a common love to God, then all the history of the world is tending towards the establishment of such a society, universal as the world. National hatreds are much less acute now than they were. Despite the efforts to rouse class against class, there seems more sympathy between classes than there was. The final break-down of national and class oppositions, not necessarily by the abolition of either class or nation, will prepare the way for the Christ-commanded love which is the tie that unites the members of the true eternal Church of God.
Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet; and of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows. I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. In regard to the version of the LXX. here, we have the advantage of Justin Martyr's transcription, in which, however, the difference from the Chigi texts are not of great importance. The LXX. here is pretty close to the Masseretic text. "Behold" has intruded into the text; it is, however, omitted from Justin Martyr. Another clause, evidently a doublet, is emitted also, and the clause assumes nearly the shape it has in Theodotion. It is difficult to imagine how the reading of the LXX. arose. The differences from the Massoretic text are for the rest not essential. This is the case with Theodotion and the Peshitta. These verses to some extent recapitulate the earlier description of this fourth beast. There are, however, features added—to the "iron teeth" of the seventh verse are added "claws of brass." The main change is in regard to the little horn that came up last. We not only learn here that three other horns were plucked up before it, but the personification is now carried further, and the horn makes war against the saints, and prevails against them. This description does not suit Epiphanes. He certainly made war against the saints, but as certainly he did not prevail against them. When he came up from Egypt, and entered into the sanctuary and plundered it, he could not be said to make war against Israel. Judaea was one of his own provinces. When a tyrannical government takes possession of the wealth and property of individuals or corporations, it may be called cruel and oppressive, but its conduct is not called war. Even tile massacre of the inhabitants of Jerusalem by tile collector of taxes was not war. There was no war levied by Epiphanes against the saints till Mattathias and his sons rebelled, and thereafter Epiphanes did not prevail against the Jews. The Romans did make war against Israel, and did prevail. If the saints are a nation, then Epiphanes did not prevail in war against them If persecution is to be regarded as warfare, then it is not warfare against a nation, but against a community like a Church. If we look upon the Christian Church as succeeding to the position of Israel, then Rome persecuted the Church, and persecution ceased only when Rome became Christian. But a wider view opens itself to us. All modern states are in a sense a continuance of Rome, and so far as they do not submit themselves to the direction of Christ, they are still at war with the saints. It is only when the Son of man comes in his power that the kingdom will belong to the saints. It is to be observed, the figure of an assize is still kept up, and "judgment is given to" or "for the saints," and in virtue of this decision they possess the kingdom.
Daniel 7:23, Daniel 7:24
Thus he said, The fourth boast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ton kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. The version of the LXX. differs in some minute points from the Massoretic text. The text as given by Justin Martyr is slightly shorter by omitting some words. Theodotion and the Peshitta also agree. What remarks can be made on this have been made already. It is to be observed that it is the whole earth that is devoured by the fourth beast as presented to us now. In the earlier presentation, although very terrible, his devastation is limited. There is nothing said to indicate that the kings are successive, but the inference rather is that they are contemporaries. The attempts are many that have been made to make out ten kings before Epiphanes, but they have all failed. If the fourth kingdom is the Greek Empire, then ten is a number far too small for the various kings of the different dynasties that sprang up There were seven or eight Lagids, as many Seleucids, three or four Attalids, five or six Antigonids, not to speak of such men as Lysimaehus and Perdiecas, who were kings, but who did not found dynasties. If the fourth kingdom is tacitly reduced to the Syrian kingdom, then how is it explained that the author of 'Daniel' was ignorant, in the seventh chapter, that the Lagids were also successors of Alexander as well as the Seleucids? How could a man living in the age of the Maccabees imagine the Seleucids rulers of the world, when Epiphanes had been a hostage in Rome? A great power does not give, but receives, hostages. We know from First Maccabees that the Jews were well aware of this, and also of the check the Romans were on Epiphanes. Even if Daniel wrote at the time chosen by the critics, how came he to be so ignorant as to imagine the Seleueid Empire to be so tremendously great? He shall subdue three kings. Who are the three kings of the ten who preceded him whom Epiphanes subdued? Seleucus Philopator, Heliodorus, and Demetrius Soter are given by Professor Bevan. But Demetrius Sorer did not ascend the throne till after the death of Epiphanes. It is extremely doubtful whether Heliodorus ever assumed the crown. Our whole knowledge of him is from Appian. Josephus knows nothing of Heliodorus. The Second Book of Maccabees, though telling a legendary story of Heliodorus, gives no account of his murder of his master and attempt to take the crown. Our sole authority for this whole story is Appian, who wrote three centuries after the event, and manifests considerable confusion at times, e.g. represents Attalus and Eu-menes as being two sovereigns independent of each other, whereas the one succeeded the other. If Seleucus Philopator is to be reckoned as "subdued" or "humbled" before Epiphanes, as well might all the rest of his predecessors. The Jewish interpretation, that the little horn is the Flavian dynasty, has far more verisimilitude. Certainly Galba Vitellius and Otho had been humbled before the Flavians. If we consider the horn "magistracies," certainly the absorption into the imperial dignity of all the higher magistracies might well be reckoned humbling them.
And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaved, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. The versions do not present much of note in, Daniel 7:25, save that the Greek versions imply that dominion over all is given to the oppressors. Throughout the Septuagint has traces of explanatory expansion. He shall speak words against the Most High. The word "against," letzad, is really "to the side of." This clause may refer to blasphemy against God, but more naturally refers to self-exaltation to a place alongside of God. Shall wear out the saints of the Most High. Persecute them, or maintain war against them; the natural meaning of the word is "afflict." And shall think to change times and laws. It ought not to be "laws," in the plural, but "law." It may refer to the marked changes introduced into the calendar by Julius Caesar. Certainly the law or constitution of the Roman state was changed by him. And they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. Who shall be given into his hands? It is usually assumed that it is the saints; hut the LXX. asserts that it is universal dominion that is given into the hands of the oppressors. We have no right to assume that ‛iddan, "a time," means "a year;" it is really any defined time. Certainly it does approximate to the time during which the temple was polluted with heathen offerings; but it also coincides with equal accuracy to the campaigns of Vespasian and Titus against the Jews. Vespasian landed in Galilee in the beginning of a.d. 67, and Jerusalem fell on September 5, a.d. 70. There was thus, approximately, three years and a half occupied by this war. But "centuries" might also be meant. From the birth of our Lord, on whom the oppression was first exercised, till the accession of Constantine, was three centuries and a portion of a century. The judgment shall sit. Not necessarily the last judgment, but the evil that is being done comes before God for judgment. The taking away of the kingdom and dominion is immediately at the end of the period indicated by "a time and times and a dividing of time." The dominion was not taken away from Epiphanes then, nor from Vespasian; it did, however, pass from the heathenish empire when Constantine ascended the throne. At the same time, any such purely limited explanation is against the whole symbolic character of this vision. It is a period of time measured by "seven" halves. The times may receive their definition, not from the calendar, but from their spiritual import or dynamic content. The three years of our Lord's ministry is of more moment for the history of the race than all the millennia that preceded it.
Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart. The first clause here is in the LXX. joined to the preceding verse, and rendered, "And all power shall be given to him, and they shall obey him to the end of the matter"—a connection that in many ways is suitable. The difficulty is thrown further back. To whom is this power to be given, and whom are all to obey? The Septuagint clearly takes the reference to be to the little horn, as "end" is rendered by καταστροφή. The more common view is that of Kliefoth, Keil, and others, and is that the reference here is to the Son of man as the Head or the embodiment of the Messianic kingdom. The remaining portion of the verse is rendered, "I Daniel was exceedingly overcome with astonishment, and my habit (ἕξις) was changed to me, and the word I confirmed in my heart"—a translation that does not seriously differ from the Massoretic. Theodotion and the Peshitta render from a text practically identical with the Massoretic. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me. The prophet himself did not understand the revelation that had been made to him, even after he had received the explanation. Further, there was the thought of the distress that would befall his own people. And my countenance changed in me. "My splendour," "brightness." Daniel was now an old man; but yet there might be a certain brightness, the remains of his former personal beauty. He becomes pale and emaciated as he meditates on what he has seen. But I kept the matter in my heart. Thus Mary retained in her heart all the wonders she had seen regarding her Son. This statement is introduced as a guarantee that the vision is correctly recorded. Daniel retained the vision in his mind, and so was ready to recognize the fulfilment of a portion.
Excursus on the Four Monarchies of Daniel.
Among the visions in Daniel, two are conspicuous as being all but universally acknowledged to be parallel to each other—to be twofold symbols of the same great truth. They have this peculiarity, that they are parts of the Aramaic portion of Daniel, which is otherwise mainly historical. The first of these visions is given to Nebuchadnezzar, and is intensified to him by the fact that after he had forgotten it, or had bound himself not to tell it, it is recalled to him by the grace of God, who had given it in a new vision to Daniel. The king dreams of a colossal image, with head of gold, arms and chest of silver, belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron, and feet partly of iron and partly of clay. Then suddenly a stone, cut out of the mountains without hands, smites the image on the feet, and it falls and becomes as the small dust of the threshing-floor, and is carried away of the wind, while the stone becomes a great mountain and fills the earth. This is interpreted of four successive monarchies, the first of these being the Babylonian. This vision is narrated in the second chapter, which forms the beginning of the Aramaio portion of Daniel.
The second vision is given to Daniel himself, and is related in the seventh chapter, which forms the conclusion of the Aramaic portion of Daniel. This is a vision of four beasts that successively rise out of the great sea, presumably the Mediterranean. The first beast was like a lion, and had wings like an eagle; its wings were plucked, and a man's heart was given to it. The second beast was like a bear, that raised itself up on one side, and had in its jaws three ribs. The third beast was like a leopard which had four wings. The fourth beast was great and terrible, unlike any of the former beasts, breaking in pieces and trampling under foot. It had ten horns. In the midst of its horns another, an eleventh horn, sprang up, and there were rooted out before it three of the former horns. At this point the end of the solemn drama is placed—God, the Ancient of Days, appears to judgment. Then comes a Son of man in the heavens, and the dominion is given to him. Thus the judgment here described is not the final judgment. The fourth beast is burnt up with fire; the other beasts have their dominion taken away. The interpretation follows, which makes the four beasts four kings, or four monarchies. The fourth is to be diverse from all its predecessors, and to make war against the people of God.
Such, then, are the visions, the interpretation of which we would now essay. It has generally been assumed that these two visions are really two aspects of one and the same great scheme of history. Two different interpreters, proceeding on totally distinct lines, deny the identity of the meaning of these two visions. The first is Hitzig, who, while he makes the two series terminate at the same point, makers a difference between them in regard to the earlier members. According to his scheme, in Nebuchadnezzar's dream the first two portions—the golden head, and the silvern shoulders—are the two monarchs Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, whereas the latter two are empires; the third, the Medo-Persian; and the fourth, the Greek. He, however, takes the second series of symbols, that of the beasts in the seventh chapter, as all monarchies. Hitzig assigns no very clear reason for his change in view—for taking the four beasts as four distinct monarchies, and splitting the Medo-Persian into the Median and Persian. The other interpreter, who divides the two visions, is Dr. Bonnar, of East Kilbride, in his book 'The Great Interregnum.' He maintains that the vision of the seventh chapter represents history posterior to that symbolized by the vision of Nebuchadnezzar. His main argument for this is that the same truth would not be present in two different sets of symbols. That difficulty would not be urged by any one who had studied the non-canonical apocalypses; there repeatedly are there double sets of symbols,£ The number of the kingdoms, being four, points to an identity, as also the fact that both assert that the Messianic kingdom—the terminus ad quem of all apocalypse—will be revealed after the setting up of the fourth kingdom without any intercalated power. We shall, then, assume these two visions to present the same scheme of universal history under different aspects.
When we look at this double vision, the first thing that strikes us is the unique breadth of view exhibited. If we may for the nonce accept the traditional interprs-teflon, we see the whole course of history, from the days of Nimrod down to the present time, portrayed; nay, beyond the present, on to the millennium and the last judgment. It seems difficult to imagine that a nameless Jew, living in the days of Epiphanes, could devise such a scheme of universal history. It may be answered that, according to the critical hypothesis, he brought down his scheme only to the days of Epiphanes, and that he expected the advent of the Messiah during the persecution of those days. This does not lessen the marvel, but really increases it, that a man, intending to portray in symbol history up only to his own day, has given a pictorial representation which has been interpreted by the great majority of those following him—some as near as the very century following that in which he lived—as referring to events that were not in the faintest degree showing above the horizon in his day. On the hypothesis that he was an inspired prophet, and spoke words full of a significance which he did not grasp himself, this is easily explicable. Only, if this explanation be granted, there is no need for placing Daniel so late as the clays of the Maccabees. If the scheme of history he unfolds applies to centuries beyond the days of the Maccabees, these events so portrayed beforehand would be as invisible to the critical pseudo-Daniel living b.c. 160 as to the real Daniel living b.c. 560.
We ought not scientifically to assume, without proof, that prophecy that foretells is impossible. Yet this is the assumption of the critical school. If the critics do venture to take up that position, they have to explain the universal belief in something akin to this foretelling prophecy. Herbert Spencer explains instinctive beliefs of this kind as the inherited result of experience. If we apply this to the belief in prophecy, then we must maintain that some earlier generations have had experience of foretelling prophecy. If, then, prophecy did exist at one time, we may not assume its non-existence at any given time. We find from Deuteronomy 18:22 that the Jews believed in foretelling prophecy. "When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously." The early Christians believed in prophecy that foretold; their whole argument against the Jews was the recital of what the prophets had spoken. To deny that prophecy foretells is to assert that Christianity is founded on a gigantic blunder. Closely connected with this is the belief that the prophets did not necessarily comprehend the meaning of their own words, as in 1 Peter 1:11 we are told that they had to "search what, and what manner of time the Spirit which was in them did signify." This is involved in the primitive idea of prophecy and inspiration, as may be seen by the oracles. The priestess that gave the enigmatic answer at Delphi was not supposed to know what was the meaning of her own words. The whole critical assumption that the words of a prophet were absolutely conditioned by his environment, is utterly unscientific, as all unproved assumptions are. On the ground of that gratuitous assumption, critics have no right to assert that no more can be in a prophecy than the prophet who uttered it could have fully understood.
We would make another preliminary observation. Apocalypse was a mode of composition of which we have many examples—one other besides Daniel being canonical. To understand Daniel, then, we ought to apply the canons of interpretation which may be deduced from other apocalypses, especially from the Book of Revelation. One of these that is of special importance is the way numbers are used as marks by which identities are indicated. Thus in Revelation the dragon, the beast that came out of the waters, and the scarlet beast on which the woman sat, are recognized to be all symbols of one and the same antichristian power—Rome, by the fact that always we have the seven heads and ten horns prominent. Towards God it is diabolism, towards the saints it is a devouring beast, and to the world at large the "harlot." On the other hand, the beast that came out of the earth, that had two horns, is different.
If we apply this principle to Daniel, we can maintain the identity of the two visions—before us: first, because each had four members; next, we can identify the fourth kingdom in each series by the facts that there are ten toes to the feet of the image, and ten horns upon the fourth beast—the prominence of the number ten proves the identity of the two. The second empire in the image has duality as its ruling mark—there are the two shoulders; and the bear raises itself up on one side, implying the other. This twofoldness is intensified in the vision of the "ram" and "he-goat;" the ram has two horns. The third monarchy has no number prominent in the image-vision, but has four wings as the third beast. When we pass to the next vision, we find that, when the "he-goat" loses his notable horn, .four others spring up. And in the eleventh chapter the empire of Alexander was divided to the four winds of heaven.
While this is an affirmative principle, it is also a negative one. On the ground of the identity of prominent numbers, we may assume the identity of the thing symbolized, though symbolized by diverse symbols; on the other hand, where prominent numbers are diverse, notwithstanding a general resemblance, we can assume a diversity in the thing symbolized. Thus the little horn of the eighth chapter is very like, superficially, to the eleventh horn of the seventh chapter: but the difference of numerical relations compells us to regard, them as symbols of different things. It was the identity here assumed that led Delitzsch to abandon the traditional view of the fourth monarchy, and give in his adhesion to the critical view. When, however, we look at the numerical relations of the two, we find they are wholly different. In the seventh chapter the eleventh horn does not belong to any of the previous horns, and dispossesses three of them; on the other hand, the little horn of the eighth chapter springs out from one of the four horns—it is not an independent horn, but a sprout from one of the extant horns. Further, there are no horns dispossessed or uprooted before it These prominent differences override the resemblance of the one having a mouth speaking great things and making war with the saints, and the other being a king that understood dark sentences, and made war against Messiah the Prince. Notwithstanding this superficial resemblance, we are compelled to maintain the real difference. Surely more than one tyrant made war against the saints and persecuted them. At all events, this must be said—that the numerical difference renders it illegitimate to draw any argument from the purely superficial resemblance above referred to.
Having considered these preliminaries, let us look now at the various interpretations that have been put forward of these visions. First, there is the common, as it may be called, the traditional view, which, as we all know, makes the first empire the Babylonian, the second the Medo-Persian, the third the Greek, and the fourth the Roman. This view is repudiated with one consent by all critics; to admit that the Roman was intended would be to admit that prophecy foretold, and that, Scripture notwithstanding, is tacitly assumed to be impossible. Mere negation is not enough; it is necessary to replace the ancient view by some other that will enable the interpreter to say that not the Roman, but the Greek, is the fourth empire.
The problem before critical interpreters, then, is to show how there can be tour mornarchies beginning with Nebuchadnezzar and ending with the Greek, or at all events the Seleucid Empire. We may neglect a scheme referred to Ewald by Pusey, but which in his Commentary on Daniel Ewald does not adopt, namely, that the Ninevite monarchy is the first, and the Babylonian the second. This interpretation contradicts the words of Daniel when he interprets the dream to Nebuchadnezzar. He says to Nebuchadnezzar, "Thou art this head of gold." This hypothesis belongs to the theory that Daniel was taken captive from the northern kingdom, and dwelt in Nineveh, not in Babylon. It is utterly without evidence. Neglecting this fanciful view, there are other three schemes. It is obvious that, if three of the four monarchies of the traditional view are to be made out to be four, this can only be done by splitting one of these monarchies into two. We shall classify these views in accordance with this, and take them up in the order of the monarchies they divide.
The first is Hitzig's theory with regard to the interpretation of the image-dream. He splits up the Babylonian kingdom, and makes "the head of gold" apply only to Nebuchadnezzar personally, and says that the shoulders of silver are the symbol of the reign of Belshazzar. The Medo-Persian is the third monarchy, and the fourth monarchy is the Greek. As we hays already said. Hitzig does not apply this to the later vision of the four beasts coming out of the sea: this itself would go far to condemn his view. But when we examine the vision, we find many things in it that do not suit with this interpretation. There is, in the first place, a decided want of symmetry in it. The "head of gold" is Nebuchadnezzar personally; the arms and breast of silver symbolize Belshazzar as a person; but the belly and thighs of brass are the symbol of the Medo-Persian Empire, and the legs of iron the Greek Empire. Here are two individuals and two monarchies made co-ordinate. Usually historians become more diffuse and particular the nearer they come to their own date; but if the author of Daniel lived in the days of the Maccabees, then on this hypothesis he was more diffuse and particular in an age removed from him by three centuries. Further, the twofoldness implied in the two arms which form the symbol of the second kingdom has no meaning in regard to Belshazzar, unless Hitzig were prepared to admit the reference to the fact that Belshazzar reigned along with Nabunahid his father—a view which contradicts his assumption that Belshazzar is the literal son of Nebuchadnezzar. We may dismiss Hitzig's view of the interpretation of the image-vision as unsatisfactory. Further, we may assume that the first monarchy is the Babylonian.
The great mass of critical commentators divide the second empire of the traditional interpretation into two, and maintain that the author of the Book of Daniel believed that there was a Median Empire between the Babylonian and the Persian. Of this Mr. Bevan declares, with the modesty peculiar to the critical school, that "there can be no doubt it is correct." This is the view maintained by Porphyry and Ephrem Syrus. It is deduced from the fact that Ephrem Syrus holds it, that it must have been known to the Jews of the fourth century. With these exceptions, all ancient authorities support what we have called the traditional view. We will not plead against this critical view the fact that no such empire did actually come between Cyrus's conquest and the fall of the Babylonian Empire. All that we will endeavour to do is to see whether the Book of Daniel assumes such an interpolated empire or not—whether it does not persistently assume a dual empire of Medes and Persians.
The first thing we would note is that invariably the symbol of this second empire implies duality. The two arms of the image show it clearly. Dr. Davidson, in his short article on Bevan's 'Daniel' in the Critical Review, remarks that the second beast which lifted itself up on one side implied that same duality. When we turn to the eighth chapter, we find a ram with two horns, the one of which that came up last outgrew the one that sprang up earlier. There we find the same duality in unity as symbolized in the other symbols. That one of the two elements should be the more powerful is implied in the bear that raised itself up on one side. Mr. Bevan thinks the two horns indicate two successive empires. To apply Mr. Bevan's own words to himself, "No one who had not a hopeless cause to defend" would use such an argument. In the he-goat there are horns too. Mr. Bevan does not think that there are two different kinds of empire symbolized by the one horn and the four. If it had been said, in regard to the ram, that the earlier horn bad been rooted up before that which came up later, Mr. Bevan might have had some greater show of argument for his position, though even then the fourth beast has three horns rooted out, and he does not maintain that a new race enters into a position of prominence. Like other critics, Mr. Bevan is apt to forget a canon when it does not suit him to apply it. Let Mr. Bevan endeavour to frame a symbolic animal figure which shall represent one empire in which there are two ruling races, kindred yet distinct, one of which had from a position of inferiority gained the superiority. He would be compelled to devise something that would be very like the two-horned ram, and liable to the same misinterpretations as those he has made in regard to it. No one can deny that the Persian Empire presented a dual aspect to those outside. In Herodotus and Thucydides Μηδίζειν is to side with the Persians. While Herodotus calls the great Persian war τά Περσικά, Thucydides always speaks of it as τά Μηδικά; he calls the battle of Marathon, ἡ ἐν Μαραθῶνι μάχη Μήδων πρὸς Ἀθηναίους. At the same time, Herodotus knows the distinction of the races. AEschylus, who encountered the Persians at Salamis, in 'The Persae' begins the Persian Empire with a Mede, Astyages or Cyaxares—
Μῆδος γάρ ἦν ὁ πρῶτος ἡγεμῶν στρατοῦ
As late as the days of Horace, this freedom of use of the words "Mede" and "Persian" was common. Such being the case, the natural thing for a Jew living in the days of the Maccabees, whose sources of information in regard to ancient foreign history were mainly, if not exclusively, Greek, would be to identify the Median and Persian monarchies. Certainly the existence of an independent empire of Medes succeeding that of Babylon, and overthrown by Cyrus, is not hinted at in other Scriptures. The critical hypothesis is that the author of the Book of Daniel was well acquainted with Jeremiah and Kings, and made up the book before us in accord with them. What led him to make this division, if he made it? We should need very conclusive evidence that the author, whoever he was, did make the distinction. To bring forward as evidence the statement that "Darius the Mede received the kingdom," "was made king," appears to prove the writer incapable of apprehending the nature of evidence. When a man receives a kingdom, or is made king, this implies a higher power, as in Luke 19:12. As to the fact that קְבַל in the pael means "receive," not "take," we may appeal to Ewald, who translates it by erupting; to Levy, in whose Aramaic dictionary all the references to the Targumic use of the word show that it means "receive," not "take," as Numbers 35:3, תְּקַבְלון מַמוֹן אֵינָשׁ קְטוֹלו לא. Mr. Bevan does not dispute this, but attempts to get round it by asserting that the phrases in question mean that he, Darius, was made king by God. That, however, is without justification: in such case the real agent would be mentioned in the immediate context, as in the example Mr. Bevan takes from Daniel 5:28, "Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and the Persians;" in Daniel 5:26 it is said, "God hath numbered thy kingdom." Professor Bevan says there is an instance in a Syriac historian, whom he does not name, where the same words are used of the accession of Julian the Apostate. That a Christian writer should use קִבַּל of Julian the Apostate's accession is nothing to the point. Christianity has emphasized the supremacy of Providence. Further, Julian, expecting to have to conquer the throne, by the unexpected death of Constantius received it as an inheritance.
But the proofs of the unity of the empire of the Medes and the Persians are numerous in Daniel. When Daniel interpreted the inscription on the wall, be had before him Upharsin, "and fragments;" he sees in this that the Babylonian kingdom would be broken by the Persians—an interpretation that involves a play on the words פְרַס, "to divide," and פְרַס, "a Persian;" there is nothing about Medes in the inscription. Yet Daniel says the kingdom is given to the Medes and the Persians. Further, the prophecy which declared that the Babylonian Empire would be overthrown by the Persians is regarded as fulfilled when Darius the Mede receives the kingdom. Again, when Darius publishes the decree that condemns Daniel to the lions' den, he is moved to establish the decree "according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not." When Darius would rescind the decree, he is met by this immutability of the laws of the Medes and the Persians. If the empire was Median, why was the name Persian appended thus? If it be objected that Medes is placed before Persians, Dr. Pusey rightly remarks that this is in all likelihood due to the court politeness of those about a Median satrap, or king. Boys in Scotland often play at a game which they invariably call "Scotch and English," never "English and Scotch," yet the disparity in population, extent, and influence is greater between England and Scotland than that between Persia and Media. If one had no end to serve by denying it, it would seem impossible to deny that the Persian Empire was regarded as a dual empire by the author of the Book of Daniel; and that, in his view, in this empire the Merle had almost an equal place with the Persian; that, in short, in the Persian Empire the Medes occupied much the same position as the Scotch do in the English.
A subsidiary argument for making the second empire the Median as distinct from the Persian, is the fact that the second empire is declared to be inferior to the first. It is gratuitously assumed that tiffs means inferiority in extent of dominion, and thus it is alleged that this independent Median Empire which succeeded the Babylonian was inferior in extent to it. One can assert anything of an empire that never existed. Mr. Bevan seems to lay stress on the fact that the word אַרְעָא, "inferior," is only used of the silver kingdom, and holds that the idea of inferiority is not carried forward. Had Mr. Bevan not determined beforehand to make the division in question between Modes and Persians, and seen that, to maintain this, he had to assume the inferiority as only applicable to the first, he would have recognized that the word in question is merely explanatory of the relative inferiority of the metal used to symbolize the second kingdom, and its louver position in the figure. That being so. he would not have failed to see that if silver is inferior to gold, then brass is inferior to silver, and iron to brass, and clay to iron. In fact, there is a progressive degradation in the metals, which harmonizes with the lower and lower position in the figure assigned to each. No one could regard the Persian Empire as inferior in extent to the Babylonian. Still less could any one regard the Greek as inferior in extent to the Persian. As the inferiority of the successive empires is not in extent of territory, this affords no shadow of proof that there was a Median Empire between the Babylonian and the Persian. We may, then, assume this theory as disproved.
A third set of critics divide the Greek monarchy. They assume that the third monarchy is that of Alexander the Great, and that the fourth is that of the Diadochi. It is perfectly true that the four wings on the back of the leopard signify rapidity of movement, and this was the pre-eminent characteristic of Alexander's conquest. Certainly, also, there was great division among the successors of Alexander which might be symbolized by the ten horns, though the separate kingdoms never approached that number. But no one could say of the empire of the Diadochi that it was utterly diverse from what had preceded. The various dynasties that succeeded Alexander really continued his influence. No one could say that as iron breaketh in pieces, and subdueth all things, so the feeble kingdom of the Diadochi subdued all kingdoms. If it is restricted to the Seleucids in Syria, it is still less true. Parthia broke away from them, and Baetria formed a separate kingdom. If, latterly, they secured Coele-Syria from the Lagids, it was only towards the end of the reign of Antiochus the Great. Before that they had been beaten back again and again. Further, this scheme lacks symmetry; the first and second as also the fourth beasts, symbolize empires; the third, only the reign of one individual monarch. We must, then, declare this third hypothesis as untenable.
We may neglect the interpretation quoted by Mr. Bevan, which made the fourth monarchy Islam, and reduced the monarchies to four, either by combining the Babylonian and Persian monarchies, or the Greek and the Roman. Islam did not dispossess the empire of Rome. Roman imperialism exists yet. The Emperors of Austria and Germany claim to be successors of the Emperors of the West, and the Czar of Russia asserts himself the successor of the Emperors of the East. We may also neglect Dr. Bonnar's hypothesis, that makes the four beasts symbolize—tile first, the Holy Roman Fmpire; the second, Napoleon the Great; the third, the hegemony of the Anglo-Saxon race in Britain and America; the fourth, the anarchists.
Let us look at the despised traditional view. It starts, like all the others, with the Babylonian. We are told that Daniel informed Nebuchadnezzar that he was the head of gold. The winged lion with human heart was a meet symbol of that Assyrian power which, alike in Nineveh and Babylon, rejoiced in winged, human-headed animal figures. The second empire has duality for its numerical note—two arms two sides, and, in the case of the ram, two horns. This is a natural symbol for the Medo-Persian power. The animal that symbolizes it—the bear, with its relatively slow movements—represents well the comparatively slow progress of Persian conquests, compared with those either of Nebuchadnezzar or of Alexander. What seems to us to demonstrate the correctness of this view is the fact that the ram, which symbolizes the Medo-Persian Empire in the eighth chapter, has, as we have said, the numerical note two.
The third empire is the Greek. It has four as its numerical note. The leopard has four wings. The goat that symbolizes Greece in the eighth chapter has four horns. These wings are the symbol of rapidity of movement. As a matter of history, the conquests of Alexander were made with extreme rapidity. He ascended the throne of Macedonia, a youth of twenty, in b.c. 336. In two years he had subdued the whole Balkan peninsula. In b.c. 334 he crossed the Hellespont, and in ten years he had conquered Asia to the Oxus and the Indus, and Egypt to the cataracts of the Nile. Cyrus, after a reign of more than twice the length, had not made nearly as extensive conquests. On the ground of the suitability of the symbol to the facts of the Greek conquest, we would say that the third empire is that of Alexander and his successors. The symbol in the image-vision is not so clear, but the metal, bronze, was one that was much used by the Greeks for armour, and, moreover, was eminently suitable for artistic purposes; hence it was a suitable symbol for the Greek power.
On this traditional theory the fourth empire is the Roman. Mr. Bevan tells us, as we have said, that Ephrem Syrus, in the fourth century, held that the Greek Empire was the fourth. He "doubtless," says Mr. Bevan, "derived it"—this view—"from Jewish tradition." We have evidence that the common Jewish belief, much earlier than the fourth century, the time of Ephrem Syrus, was that the fourth empire was the Roman. The Fourth Book of Esdras, which is dated by most critics a.d. 90, though by some put more than a century earlier, describes the Roman power as an eagle, and tells of the various emperors, and expressly identifies this with the fourth beast of Daniel.
We have spoken of the New Testament .Apocalypse. There are three beasts introduced with ten horns; two of these are certainly Rome, and the fourth beast in Daniel has ten horns. Evidently, then, the Apostle John had no doubt as to the reference of Daniel's beast with ten horns The Apocalypse of Baruch was probably written in b.c. 60. and there the Roman power is expressly designated as the fourth kingdom. Here is direct evidence, coming down to little more than a century after the critical date of Daniel, that in Jewish opinion the fourth empire in Daniel was the Roman.
We admit there are difficulties in interpreting the features of this fourth monarchy. In approaching this part of our subject, we would lay it down as a principle that, in interpreting apocalyptic writings, we are to be guided by notes of interpretation to be found in them. One of these notes of interpretation we find in Revelation 17:9, "The seven heads are seven mountains, and. they are seven kings." Here we find the numerical note which points out the city of Rome. The number seven has two meanings: "mountains," the seven hills of Rome; and "seven kings," presumably the seven rulers of Rome, Nero being the seventh and Pompey the first. There may be a reference to the seven kings of Rome. Whatever the interpretation here, at all events this much is clear—the symbols carry double. This is directly in the teeth or the assumption of the critical school, that if a symbol means one thing, it cannot at the same time mean another. With this principle, let us approach this symbol of the ten horns. The magistracies of Rome were, roughly speaking, ten—two consuls, originally two praetors, two censors, and four tribunes. The imperial power was utterly unknown to the Roman constitution; but it, coming up after the others, absorbed the power of three of these magistracies—the tribunitian, the praetorian, and censorial. Certainly the imperial dignity had a month speaking great things. Not only was the emperor regularly deified on his decease, but even during 'his life he was saluted as a present deity. Temples were erected to Augustus during his lifetime, and Caius Caligula could hardly be restrained from compelling the Jews to worship his statue. But these horns may not only be co-ordinate and contemporary, but also successive. From the standpoint of Judaism, what was the greatest injury inflicted on the holy people by Rome? Was it not indubitably the capture of Jerusalem by Titus under the auspices of his father Vespasian? Now, if we include in the rank of rulers Pompey, who certainly had burned in his personality upon the Jews by his profanation of the temple, and certainly bulked more largely in the eye of every one, Romans or foreigners, than any preceding Roman, as we may see by reading Cicero, ' Pro Lege Manilia,' then Vespasian was the eleventh ruler, and before him three emperors, Galba, Vitellius, Otho, had been removed.
The interpretation is not yet exhausted. It has been recognized that the two legs represent the twofold division of the empire into eastern and western Although this was only made actual by Diocletian, the division existed in reality from the first between the subjects speaking Latin and those speaking Greek. Taking this as our starting-point, there could easily be enumerated ten powers, Eastern and Western, that may form the ten toes of the image. The number ten is not to be taken with arithmetical exactness. The imperial power of Russia may be symbolized as that which, arising beyond the bounds of the Roman Empire and of the kingdoms formed from it, seems likely to overstep her present limits, and, it may well be, shall swallow up three other powers. This latter interpretation we merely throw out as suggestive.
The critical school have some difficulty in making out their ten rulers, who are symbolized by the ten horns. Porphyry drew on the Egyptian Ptolemies to fill out the deficiencies of the Seleucids. That is evidently an illicit process. The more general scheme now is to start with Alexander the Great, then take the successive Seleucids; as they are not enough, Helio-dorus, who never was king, is inserted. If, however, the fourth beast is the Greek power, and Alexander is to be taken as the first monarch, then all his successors, Lagids, Antegonids, and Attalids, as well as Seleucids, have to be reckoned—a number to be counted by scores rather than tens. Were it not for the necessity they are under to make the fourth monarchy the Greek, this attempt would have been acknowledged to be a failure.
Before we leave this, we must consider this point—the growing degradation of the powers that succeed the Babylonian. In what sense could Babylon be the head of gold, while Persia was silver, Greece bronze, and Rome iron? It is evident that this inferiority is not one of extent of territory; for the successive monarchies were each more extensive geographically than its predecessor. In what, then, consists the inferiority? The only suggestion that seems to me at all to meet the case, is one made by Dr. Bonnar of East Kilbride, in his ingenious book, 'The Great Interregnum.' In looking at this question, we must begin by divesting ourselves of all our preconceived notions of representative government and freedom of the people, in fact, all our Western ideas, and look at monarchy with the eyes of an Oriental. To an Oriental that monarchy is highest that is likest Divine sovereignty. Only the most absolute monarch can at all, in idea, represent Divine sovereignty. The Babylonian government had this absoluteness—the king's will was law, without cheek or limits-ion. This, as the likest to the Divine government, was the head of gold. The Persian monarch had the seven nobles—so to say, peers of the crown—that limited his authority. The hereditary satraps formed a further limitation. This was silver, not gold. This monarchy had still much of the Divine absoluteness in it, but not so much as the Babylonian, The Greek Empire still retained many of the features of Oriental absoluteness, as many of the features of Oriental magnificence, but they limited their own authority by the introduction of autonomous cities all over their dominions. Along with the Greek city life there was a certain independence and freedom assigned to the individual, that limited the action of the monarch. He was no longer removed from all men by an immense distance; with all his absoluteness, he was a Greek among Greeks. Still, the idea of the monarchy was kept up. There is thus a further degradation—the age of bronze is reached; the age of gold is past, and even that of silver. With Rome, the empire that was diverse from all others, the monarchical idea disappeared. The emperor was simply Imperator of a republic. He might be deified in his lifetime, might wield absolute power in actuality, but in idea he was but the servant of the Roman Republic. The bronze had given place to iron. If we carry cur eyes down the ages to the kingdoms that have succeeded the Roman Empire, monarchy has ceased to have much power at all. The iron now is mingled with the miry clay. The progress of constitutional history all over the world has been the lessening of government authority, and setting the individual free. The stone cut out of the mountain, so far as material goes, is at a still lower level in regard to value than the iron mingled with the miry clay. Individualism becomes absolute in Christianity when the believer, in exercise of his absolute personal right over himself, surrenders himself absolutely into the hands of Christ.
The Messianic kingdom, foreseen by the prophet, and foretold in the stone in the vision of the image, and in the Son of man in that of the four beasts, looks forward to a time beyond the present, when all civil governments will have ceased, when the Church shall be manifest as the true state, when Christ, the Anointed of the Lord, alone shall reign. This prophecy is not fulfilled in Christ's coming in weakness as the Babe at Bethlehem, nor in his life of sorrow and death, of shame and suffering. No; it is in his coming the second time unto salvation. It is failure to realize this that leads Bishop Westcott to maintain the fourth monarchy to be the Greek. He somehow thinks that the fourth kingdom must have passed away before the Messiah comes. But in the image-vision the stone was cut out of the mountain before the image had disappeared. When a person approaches this subject with a set of presuppositions, he is all the less likely to reach a true conclusion. Looked at in the way it presents itself to us, this sublime scheme of universal history terminates only when the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ; when the promise made to the Son by the Father, that he should have the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession, shall be fulfilled. Only some such time of universal peace can adequately conclude history and fulfil prophecy.
Daniel's vision brings before us the origin, the character, and the destiny of godless kingdoms.
1. Earthly. The Divine kingdom comes from above—"with the clouds of heaven" (verse 13). These kingdoms come from below—from the dark depths of the sea. Earthly passions, not the will of God, shape their origin.
2. Tumultuous. "The four winds of heaven strove upon the great sea;" the kingdoms issued from the throes of the storm. The great monarchies of antiquity did not grow up by the development of peaceful arts and commerce. They were formed by wars of conquest, and wild, wicked strifes of ambition. The glory of political success often leads men to disregard the crimes by which it is achieved. But these cannot be ignored by God.
3. Successive. One after another the great beasts rise from the sea. God's kingdom is one and lasting, but as these earthly kingdoms are transient, new kingdoms take the place of the old. Thus the same drama is reacted in many ages. Till the reign of Christ is complete, we must expect to see the rise and fall of earthly ambition.
1. Points of agreement.
(1) They are all more or less brutal. To Nebuchadnezzar the kingdoms appeared bright and glorious (Daniel 2:31). To Daniel, the prophet of God, they appeared savage and brutal. The passions of godless politics are low and unspiritual.
(2) They are destructive. The true end of government is the peace and welfare of the world. But it has always been the work of wicked ambitious monachies to spread devastation and misery.
2. Points of difference. The great beasts are "diverse one from another." Nationalities are of various types. The faults of governments are not all alike. Evil assumes various forms. All godless kingdoms are not equally bad. In the vision, the first kingdom shows signs of improvement in its later days (verse 4). The second is far more destructive (verse 5). The last power is least in apparent size, yet most fatal to its neighbours (verse 8). Thus human history is full of variety, change, and surprise. It is only in the Divine order that we meet with assured and peaceful stabilty.
III. THEIR DESTINY.
1. They are all only temporary. One succeeds another.
2. They all come up for judgment (verse 10). There is a judgment on nations as well as on individuals. The proudest earthly power must bow before the judgment-seat of God. They who ignore God will not escape his notice.
3. As there are degrees and varieties of crime, so there will be degrees and varieties of punishment. The worst of the great beasts is entirely destroyed (verse 11). The others are dealt with more leniently. Thus at the great judgment the sentence will be proportionate to the sin (Luke 12:47, Luke 12:48).
4. The godless kingdoms will all be superseded by the universal and eternal kingdom of heaven. God's righteous rule will ultimately take the place of the most violent and destructive earthly powers. Evil will finally succumb to good.
"The books were opened."
I. GOD HAS BOOKS.
1. The book of remembrance.
(1) God keeps a record of his people's troubles (Psalms 56:8). He is not ignorant of them, nor indifferent to them. He takes notice and gives sympathy. He will take account of them in the future, turning them to good, or compensating for the endurance of them.
(2) God keeps an account of his people's faithfulness (Ma Daniel 3:16). Though they appear to be forgotten, their humble service is all noted.
(3) God preserves a remembrance of men's sins. God forgets sin when he forgives it, but till then our forgetting it does not remove it from his book of remembrance, any more than our forgetting a bond releases us from the obligation of it when it is presented.
2. The book of life. St. Paul refers to those "whose names are written in the book of life" (Philippians 4:3; see also Exodus 32:33; Revelation 3:5). God preserves a record of the heirs of eternal life. He knows them, if men do not. He takes note of them individually; their names are written. The world is redeemed, not in the mass, but individually. Each one of us either has or has not his name written down in the "book of lift.." The most important question for each to ask is whether his name is there.
3. The book of the future. The future is known to God, and the course of providence and redemption by which he will work out his purposes of righteousness and mercy is determined (Revelation 5:1). Sudden changes surprise us, but they were anticipated by God. There is no chance, but an overruling wisdom fixes the great landmarks of the future.
II. GOD'S BOOKS ARE SEALED.
1. The book of remembrance is sealed. We have no present visible proof that Got notes our trouble, our fidelity, or our sin. We may forget our past, and it will lie hidden and silent.
2. The book of life is sealed.
(1) We may have sure evidences of our redemption, but we cannot directly read our names in the book of life. Perhaps the reason for this is that we may walk by faith and experience its discipline.
(2) We cannot read the names of others. Therefore we cannot pronounce judgment on them, nor say how many or who will be saved.
3. The book of the future is sealed. Prophecy has extracted a few pages. But the great volume will only be unrolled as it is accomplished. It is best that we should not know the future, as we only have sufficient strength to bear the burden of the present (Matthew 6:34). It is best also because we can learn to walk humbly and trustfully, while we resign the future to the care of our Father in heaven (Matthew 6:32).
III. GOD'S BOOKS WILL BE OPENED. The judgment-day will be first of all a day of revelation. The decrees of reward and punishment will follow the opening of God's books.
1. The record of our conduct will be brought to light. Forgotten deeds will be remembered, and the truth of character made clear (1 Corinthians 14:25). Hidden sin will be revealed. Unrecognized merit will be honoured.
2. The roll of the redeemed will be read. Not one of God's people will be forgotten. Christ will own the humblest of his followers.
3. The purposes of God concerning the future will declare themselves. The book of the future is unrolled by degrees as time passes. But its most momentous contents will be those which will be made clear when the great facts of the unseen world are first brought to light. Then God's purposes with mankind will be understood as we on earth can never comprehend them.
Daniel 7:13, Daniel 7:14
The kingdom of the Son of man.
In contrast with the brutal godless kingdoms, we have here a description of the higher final kingdom—its origin, character, and destiny.
1. It comes from above. Divine providence inaugnrates it, and heavenly principles inspire it. Christ and his kingdom are from above (John 8:23).
2. It is in intimate relations with God. The Son of man "came to the Ancient of days," and was brought "near before him." The source of the power of Christ is his oneness with the Father (John 10:30), his dependence on the Father (John 5:19), and his obedience to the Father (Psalms 40:7; Hebrews 10:7).
3. It is a gift of God. The ether kings seized their power. To the Son of man a dominion is "given." Christ does not conquer the world by force. He receives his kingdom through the influence of God's grace and providence on men (John 18:36).
1. It is a true dominion. Christ came to save the world by ruling over it. He is King as well as Redeemer. He claims obedience and more thorough submission than the greatest earthly despot can exact, viz. the submission of the heart (Colossians 3:23).
2. It is typified by "the Son of man," and therefore:
(1) more spiritual and higher in character than the godless kingdoms which are represented by ravenous beasts;
(2) more humane,—gentleness and mercy are great characteristics of Christ's kingdom (Isaiah 32:2; Isaiah 42:1-3; Matthew 11:28-30); and
(3) characterized by oneness and sympathy with its subjects,—the old monarchs were destructive tyrants, Christ is one with his people, a son of man (Hebrews 2:14 Hebrews 2:18; Hebrews 4:15).
3. It is glorious. Christ was of humble earthly origin, and his kingdom came in obscurity (Luke 17:20). Thus it was apparently inglorious when compared with the pomp of worldly monarchies. But it has God's glory, the beauty of holiness. This glory is soon in its principles and in its achievements, triumphing over sin and securing the peace and blessedness of obedience to God's will (Colossians 1:27).
1. It is to be universal. The greatest human monarchies were limited in extent. Christ's is to be world-wide.
(1) Christ claims all, and will not be satisfied till he has recovered the lost (Isaiah lift. 11).
(2) Christ suits all. He is the true "Son of man." Therefore all races can find their Saviour and Lord in him.
(3) Christ will attract all. His appeal is to the common human heart of the world (John 12:32).
2. It is to be everlasting. Other kingdoms are temporary, and subject to final destruction. The kingdom of the Son of man is indestructible and everlasting.
(1) It is Divine, and the Divine is eternal (Psalms 145:13).
(2) It is righteous in principle. There is no evil in it to be a seed of corruption (Psalms 72:7).
(3) It is founded upon eternal principles, not on maxims of temporary expediency.
(4) It brings blessings which wilt be always of value (Matthew 5:3-12).
HOMILIES BY H.T. ROBJOHNS
"Four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another" (Daniel 7:3). We remark the transition here from history to prophecy; the date, the first year of Belshazzar, that is, before the fall of the first of the world-powers about to be described; the form, a dream,—before this Daniel had interpreted others' dreams, he now dreams himself; the fact that it was at once committed to writing, i.e. not set down after fulfilment; and that the prophecy is only an outline, so that we must not expect too much detail. All this in verse 1. The nature of the prophecy rebukes dogmatism. It may be well to call attention here to the fact that all these expositions and homilies are written independently of each other; there may be, then, possibly some diversity of critical judgment; this, however, will be no disadvantage to the student. For our own homiletic purpose we treat this chapter under three sections—in the first, we have a vision of brute rule; in the second, of Divine sovereignty; in the third, of a great rebellion.
I. ITS CONDITION. "The great sea" is distinguished from all inland seas. The ocean. The image of our troubled world (Isaiah 17:12-14; Revelation 21:1). Out of the commotion and confusion of troubled peoples the four forms of brute rule arose.
II. ITS CAUSE. "The four winds of heaven strove upon the great sea." As the wind plays on ocean, so do supernatural powers (in this case evil) lash into fury the passions of a troubled world; and out of revolutionary confusion emerges oft mute despotism.
III. ITS GENERIC NATURE. "Four beasts." Four great empires. Same as described in Daniel 2:1-49. Why the different form? That vision gave the external glory; this the inmost nature. They had life in them, but it was a life less than human. Man sinks below the human when the πνεῦμα is no longer animated by the Spirit of God. As with man individually, so collectively, so with nations, governments. Government is of God, but may lose the Divine in it, and so become brutal. A boast may inspire terror; but its look is not heavenward, but earthward; hears no Divine voice; has no conscious relations with God. "Four beasts," but "diverse." All brutal.
IV. SPECIFIC FORMS.
1. The lion-form. The Babylonian empire. Dominant, like the king of the forest; swift and reaching far, like the eagle. Then came deteriorations. The deteriorations developed slowly. "I continued looking" is the sense. Swift energy was crippled. Not even with the speed of a lion walking did the empire advance; but painfully, slowly, as a beast marching on hind legs alone. Then instead of the lion-heart at the centre of government, the timid heart of a man. Here we have the glory of Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon, its gradual decay under his successors, until it fell before one mightier than itself. So do governments without God go down.
2. The bear-form. The Persian empire. Less noble than the lion; fierce, heavy, slow. Of these characteristics, the most striking illustration would be the cumbrousness and slow advance of the Persian armies; e.g. the invasion of Greece by Xerxes (see the histories). Note the accessories of the symbol. Raising itself on one side, and perhaps striking out with its right forearm. This indicates the combination of Mode with Persian—the latter the stronger and more aggressive. The three ribs devoured stand for Lydia, Babylon, Egypt, subdued. "Devour much flesh" suggests the awful waste of life incident to Persian progress. How many of the two millions returned from Greece?
3. The leopard-form. The Greek empire, specially under Alexander. Characteristics: insatiable appetite for blood, swiftness, subtlety. "Four wings." "Four heads." The Greek dominion essentially one, but with four centres. Trace the analogy. Alexander's determination to conquer the world. Swift movement, equalled only by Napoleon I. The subtlety of his genius. The division of his empire into four.
4. The nameless form. The Roman empire. So terrible is this power, that no one creature can represent it, nor the combined attributes of many. The eminence and importance of this empire are apparent from:
(a) Its prominence in this chapter.
(b) Daniel's anxiety to "know the truth of the fourth beast."
(c) Its collision with the Divine kingdom.
(d) Its successive historical aspects.
(1) Its first aspect. (See verse 7.) All this exhibits the utterly destructive energy of Rome. What it did not devour, it destroyed for destruction's sake. A contrast with the other powers. They ravaged, subdued, extorted tribute; "but their connection with the states which they subdued was loose and disjointed." Rome conquered all, kept all, assimilated all
(2) Two developments.
(a) "Ten horns." Horn is the symbol of power. The ten were on the head from the beginning, to manifest the unity of the Roman empire plus the European nations. Their development, however, was not at once.
(b) The one. Small at the beginning. Displaces a third (nearly) of existing powers. A development of the Roman domination. "Eyes" for a certain intelligence. Pride and blasphemy out of its "mouth"? What can this be but the papacy?
V. ITS JUDGMENT AND OVERTHROW. Not for ever and for ever shall the brutal reign. How sublime the contrast ushered in by verse 9! Below, the ocean, lashed by powers of evil; out of it the brutal, its last developments the worst. Now heaven opens. Thrones were set (not "cast down"). A central throne. On it the Eternal The throne the source of all splendour, the fount of energy (Revelation 4:5). Judgment proceeding. Not the last judgment. But the continuous judgment of men and nations. The Roman empire, and all that came of it doomed—annihilated. The other empires long gone, though for a while they lingered.
1. The eternal supremacy of God.
2. The righteousness of his judgments.
3. The certain doom of all that is alienated from his own Divine life.
Individuals and nations are human and. humane only as they live in him. The reign of the brutal in any form cannot be eternal. Animalism in all its ugly, cruel, sensual forms, must go down; for God in Christ "must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet."—R.
Daniel 7:13, Daniel 7:14
The enthronement of Christ.
"I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man" (Daniel 7:13). Either after, or more probably in connection with, the destruction of the fourth world-power, universal empire was given to Christ—the Messiah of Hebrew expectation. We assume, for the present, that it is he who is described in the next paragraph. That the assumption is well-founded will immediately appear.
I. THE KING. We read Daniel 7:13 thus: "I continued looking in the visions of the night, and behold I with the clouds of heaven like unto a Son of man was advancing, and to the Ancient of days to come, and before him they caused him to approach."
1. The Personage was Divine. Advancing, girt with clouds, marks the Divine. Clouds hide the glory behind and beyond. They symbolize the veil that dims the glory of God. Many are the scriptural passages to illustrate. Select a few, and we shall see how the same idea starts up in successive ages of the Church (Exodus 13:21; Exodus 14:24). If these describe the action of the Angel-God, they are all the more pertinent as illustrations of this passage in Daniel (Exodus 16:10; Exodus 40:34; Le Exodus 16:2; 2Ch 5:13, 2 Chronicles 5:14; Psalms 97:2). Christ takes up these representations, and applies them to himself (Matthew 26:64). (In this last passage, note "the Son of maul" so again in Matthew 25:31.) Similar, though not identical, is the imagery of 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 1:7. Holy Scripture is consistent in applying such descriptions only to God, and to God in Christ. See the charge against one enemy of the Church in olden time (Isaiah 14:13, Isaiah 14:14). These intimations of the Divine in Christ of the Old Testament are like the grey that precedes the dawn. If Daniel anticipated that the Messianic Deliverer would be one of the race, it is clear, and will be clearer, that he had a glimpse of the truth that he would be Divine.
2. The personage was also human. "A Son of man." The phrase is used in the Old Testament:
(1) For man simply (Numbers 23:19).
(2) To remind the gifted and inspired of their oneness with the race. So eighty times in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 3:10, Ezekiel 3:11, Ezekiel 3:17, et passim). So here the advancing one was partaker of the infirmity (innocent) of the race. With "clouds," the engirdlement of the Divine, he might come; so also like "a Son of man." Of none other can this double affirmation be made—of none save the Lord Jesus.
That the phrase here denotes the Messiah is clear:
(1) From a general consensus of rabbinical opinion.
(2) From the Lord's own assumption of the name. Christ calls himself "the Son of man," though others call him "the Son of God." What is its significance?
Answering, we do not limit ourselves to Daniel's standpoint.
(1) The Christ was to be of the human race. The humanity is Christologically as important as the Divinity, and each is indispensable to the mediatorial office. See the Athanasian Creed, "For the right faith … rose again the third day from the dead."
(2) In the name is an intimation of the universality of the Saviour's mission. An implied protest against Jewish exclusiveness. "Son of David" points to the throne of Israel. Christ's right to it, albeit the sway spiritual. "Son of man" to his relation to the race; "Son of God" to his relation to the Eternal.
(3) Of world-wide dominion. "The Son of man" was to be no ordinary mortal, but King of the race, and King for the race (romp. Psalms 8:4 Psalms 8:8 with Hebrews 2:5-9). (A most impressive missionary sermon might be preached from the words, "Now we see not yet all things put under him [man]; but we see Jesus!" i.e. on the way surely to universal empire.) [Note in this connection the wide horizon of Daniel's prophetic vision. It is no longer merely Israel, but the whole world, that is in view. In keeping with the prophet's historical position. His watch-tower is no longer Jerusalem, but Babylon. His look is across the Assyrian plain, at the great world-powers, their developments in relation to the everlasting rule.
II. THE ENTHRONEMENT.
1. The King came from the heavenly world. Out of it, and down from it. He "came with the clouds of heaven." This empire is not like those that arose out of "the sea," from the turbulences of men.
2. He received the kingdom from the Eternal. Abundant illustration will be found in Matthew 28:18; John 3:35; John 13:3; John 5:22; Joh 17:2; 1 Corinthians 15:27.
3. The enthronement has no relation to the categories of time or space. We are not to suppose that at some place, at some moment, there was to be some literal fulfilment; that the Eternal under venerable form, would sit on a throne; that the Christ would come to sue for empire, etc. This is the rock on which many interpreters are wrecked. Nor is there reference to the last judgment, for then Christ himself is on the throne. Broad views, free from mere literalism, on such matters are best.
4. And yet there are the pomp and circumstance of an indefinite and multitudinous accompanying of the King "They caused him to approach." A sort of grand indefiniteness in the expression. Not alone does Jesus come to reign.
III. THE KINGDOM.
1. Supernatural in origin. "There was given him."
2. Spiritual in character. Invisible rule over souls. We speak of the empire of mind; we see in vision matter at the footstool of intellect. But what shall we say of the empire of religion, of Christianity, of Christ? Mind at the feet of Jesus, and, as a consequence, all below mind! Imaginations cast down, etc. (2 Corinthians 10:5).
3. Universal in extent. "All people," etc,
4. Everlasting. "Shall not pass away," etc.—R.
The great antagonist.
"I behold, and the same horn," etc. (Daniel 7:21, Daniel 7:22). In introducing this subject, let the following interesting facts be noted. The dream occasioned Daniel great anxiety. "Even I Daniel grieved was my spirit, in the midst of [its] sheath." The soul a sword in its scabbard. He solicited information from one of the myriads in attendance on the Eternal. In answer, two or three suggestions were made, leading Daniel to inquire further, which he did, especially respecting the fourth brute power. The angelic interpreter explained, and also gave additional touches to the picture, of which we shall make use in the homily. All this is the dream, mark! We shall assume that the single horn does not stand for the antichrist of the Old Testament, viz. Antiochus Epiphanes; and that the schemes of interpretation which involve that it does so break down. The reasons for that assumption we could give, but would be more proper to the body of a critical commentary than to a homily. We must assume all this in homiletical treatment. This prophetic Scripture throws forward lights, then, on—
I. ROME IMPERIAL.
1. It was the fourth brute world-power. (Verse 17.)
2. Its genius differed from those that had gone before. "Diverse," etc. (verse 23).
3. It appropriated to itself the good of every land. "Shall devour," etc. (verse 23).
4. Its tyranny was oppressive. "Shall tread," etc. (verse 23).
5. It survives until the final overthrow of all brute-power by the establishment of the eternal kingdom. Rome imperial, Rome dismembered, Rome papal, are still Rome. "One!—one mighty and formidable power, trampling down the liberties of the world; oppressing and persecuting the people of God, the true Church; and maintaining an absolute and arbitrary dominion over the souls of men; as a mighty domination standing in the way of the progress of truth, and keeping back the reign of the saints on earth."
II. ROME DIVIDED.
1. The "ten horns" were sovereignties.
2. Developments of the Roman empire.
4. The exact designation of them is not necessary.
The "ten" have been designated. But differences of opinion have arisen. This not wonderful, seeing that the new powers arose in a time of great confusion, and the boundaries were frequently changing. Perhaps strict literal and numerical exactness is not to be expected. The vague character of prophecy generally would warrant a contrary conclusion.
III. ROME FATAL. The rise and progress of the papacy constitute a truly wonderful fulfilment of Daniel's dream. But it is necessary in all contemplation of the Romish religious system to distinguish carefully and ever in our minds between the Christian element in it, and the corruption of that Christian element.
1. The "other" horn was another sovereignty.
2. It sprang from the Roman domination. Papal Rome in many ways represents Rome imperial, in the world-wideness of its sway, in possessing the same capital, etc.
3. It came into being after the dismemberment. After the ten.
4. Small at the beginning. From the apostolic age there had been a bishop at Rome; but the rise of the papacy is to be dated from the assumption of civil power. When? This one of the most difficult questions in history. Different theories of interpretation depend on the answers. Enough that so small was the beginning, that none can answer with certainty—when?
5. The sovereignty differed from all other. (Verse 24.) Combination of spiritual with secular power. This involves a mighty difference.
6. It displaced other sovereignties. (Verse 25.) "He shall subdue three kings." Either three kingdoms went down before it, or a third, about a third of the power an I influence of existing monarchies disappeared. Distinct governments vanished before the rising papacy; and the papacy itself assumed civil functions. Here again it is not necessary to involve the broad incontrovertible facts with questionable historic detail (see end of verse 20). "More stout" refers to the magnitude finally attained.
7. Has been distinguished by a far-seeing sagacity. "Eyes like the eyes of a man." A sagacity of human sort, not Divine. The diplomacy of Rome, the sublety of the Jesuit, are notorious. The historical illustrations, medieval and modern, are infinitely varied and innumerable.
8. By blasphemy. (Verse 25.) "He shall speak great words against the Most High." Blasphemy
(1) either denies to God something of his essential glory;
(2) or assumes the names, attributes, and works of God for the creature. In both senses the papacy has been guilty. The illustrations are numberless which are to be found in the doctrine, ritual, practice, and history of the Roman Church. Some of them terrible. Many of them are now open before us, but we cannot present them here in our limited space.
9. By persecution.
10. The new sovereignty has" changed times and law." Not "laws," but the fundamental and eternal law of right. Of this, too, the illustrations are without number.
IV. ROME JUDGED. (Verses 11, 26.)
1. The dream even now waits fulfilment. Much has been fulfilled, but much remains to be. Imperial Rome has gone. The many other kingdoms have arisen; and a part of their power has disappeared before the growing supremacy of papal Rome. But even that has within the last hall-century been shorn of its strength. Still much remains for the future to disclose.
2. Rome papal will stand for a definite time. "Until a time," etc. (verse 25). The time is definite, though to us, as we believe, unknown.
3. But will certainly fall. (Verses 11, 26.) Note the reason in verse 11.
4. Then to vise no move. (Verses 11, 26.) Are explicit and strong.
V. HER POWER TRANSFERRED. Given to the saints; once theirs, theirs everywhere, theirs for ever. War was indeed made against the saints, achieved, too, a certain success. But principle never dies. The final victory lay with the persecuted. Dominion passed over to them. In what sense? We might say that good men made the laws, but this would be a poor thing to say. Rather is this the truth—that the need of government almost passed away. THE INFLUENCE OF CHARACTER WAS ENOUGH. Some judicial administration might be necessary to arrange debatable points. But deliberate crime had now become non-existent. To illustrate: Mr. Goldwin Smith, after saying that, in a particular instance, "not the special form of the government, but the comparative absence of necessity for government, is the thing to be noted and admired," goes on to say, "The proper sphere of government is compulsion. The necessity for it in any given community is in inverse proportion to the social virtue and the intelligence of the people. The policeman, the executioner, the tax-gatherer,—these are its proper ministers, and the representatives of what we call its majesty. It is destined to decrease as Christianity increases, and as force is superseded by social affection, and spontaneous combination for the public good. The more a community can afford to dispense with government, the more Christian it must be". The Ancient of days gives over empire to the Son of man; his sovereignty is exercised through his saints. They have something of his own sway. What is that? The sway of spiritual supremacy. The rule of righteousness. The law of love. The empire of Calvary.—R.
HOMILIES BY J.D. DAVIES
A vision of human violence.
Dreams have a foundation in external fact. The mind of man has a creative faculty—a faint reflection of the Divine—and, when released from the domination of visible things, it asserts its original power. Daniel was advanced in years, had seen many changes in the government of Babylon, and probably had been brooding seriously over the fortunes and prospects of the Hebrews. The past and the future were inextricably interlaced.
I. NIGHT HAS ITS USES, AS WELL AS DAY. Night is not an entire blank in a man's history. God is as much with us by night as by day. "He giveth his beloved sleep." But, at the same time, he supports the imagination and memory in strange activity. Here we have a hint of the separate life of mind and body. If this occurs now, may not the mind be amply active, while the body is fast asleep in the grave? Night reveals to us pictures, which the garish day dissipates. Darkness is freighted with celestial light. What is darkness to the body need not be darkness to the mind. Trial may have a rough exterior, but there is latent good within. Sorrow is endowed with a Divine power of benediction. Death itself to the saint is but a veil that hides the dawning light. Reality is often the antipodes of phenomenon.
II. MATERIAL THINGS ARE MIRRORS IN WHICH MEN MAY SEE THEIR TRUE CHARACTERS. The mind, in its infantile state, is most impressed with visible and tangible things. "The great sea" is a significant picture of the mobility and restlessness of the multitude. The masses of men, having no settled beliefs, no fixed principles of action, are as fickle, and as easily wrought upon, as the unstable sea. As the briny waters are promptly driven hither and Thither by every wind that blows, so the multitudes are moved and tossed by every passing passion—by the faintest prospect of self-advantage—or by the fevered ambition of a stronger will than their own. The Jews, having relinquished their safe anchorage, viz. faith in God, were driven helplessly north and south, east and west, by the wind passions of unscrupulous conquerors. It seemed as if the four winds of heaven strive at one and the same time upon this Hebrew sea. "The wicked are like the troubled sea."
III. UNTAMED BEASTS ARE THE APTEST SYMBOLS OF MILITARY CONQUERORS. One is like a lion, though, as years roll on, he at length acquires a man's heart—the sensibility of human tenderness. A second is like a leopard; yet so swift is he for destruction, that the fleetness of the leopard fails to convey all the truth; therefore four wings of a fowl are added to the symbol. A third is like a bear, intent only on tearing and consuming much flesh. A fourth destroyer of men is so fierce and death-breathing that not one of the savage beasts in nature can represent him. He is a "beast dreadful and terrible," having teeth of iron. It is rare that beasts of prey make war upon their own species, much less upon their own kindred. God has provided the wildest beast with but two horns, to serve as weapons of defence; but this human monster was furnished with ten horns. One cannot but be struck with the singular incongruities we meet with in this prophetic dream; yet even this fact is instructive. The wildest vagaries of the imagination are outstripped by the moral incongruities of human character and human conduct. Where shall we find an incongruity so strange as this—the wilful degradation of the man to a level lower than the untrained beasts?
IV. GOD'S PRESENT REVELATIONS TO MEN ARE PARTLY OBSCURE, PARTLY CLEAR. "We know only in part; hence we prophesy only in part." We may be sure that this arrangement is best. It is an act of kindness and of wisdom on the part of God. It serves to stimulate inquiry on our part. We may learn from it to cherish humility, inasmuch as we are not at present competent to receive larger communications of God's will. Thankful ought we to be that we have enough knowledge of God's will for our practical guidance; and when we have worked up all this raw material into personal service, we shall obtain more. God "made known his ways unto Moses," but his acts only unto "the children of Israel." "Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord." It is one of the attractions of the heavenly state, that fresh light will continually be shed upon the past history of our race, as well as upon the wisdom of the Divine government.—D.
The real King-maker.
The panorama which passed before Daniel's mind in the night-season did not terminate in a scene of confusion and misery. This scene of brutal ferocity occurs in the middle of a great tragedy, and leads on to a peaceful triumph of truth and righteousness. These inhuman kings were not masters of the situation. One higher than they watched the moral chaos from his supernal throne, and, out of the tangled mass of conflicting ambitions and passions, brought a condition of permanent prosperity and peace.
I. OBSERVE THE DESCRIPTION OF HIS PERSON. He has the appearance of venerable age—"the Ancient of days." These inhuman monsters were "but of yesterday;" and, knowing that their time was short, were eager to make for themselves a name, be the methods what they may. But the Ruler of the nations is "from everlasting." His years outnumber all the generations of men. Human tribes come and go; dynasties rise and fall; to him they are like the meteorological changes on an April day. He sits unmoved, the calm Monarch of the universe. His clothing, "white as snow," betokens the immaculate righteousness of his administration. No intelligent being has ever detected the slightest blemish in his just and impartial sway. It is not consistent with his supreme dignity to give an account of his doings to human creatures, but to the extent that our moral judgments can comprehend his acts, we can join with the seraphim in the acclamation, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty;" "Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints." He is not an indifferent spectator of human affairs. He may be slow to anger, yet is he the more sure to punish. "His throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire." Sin, lust, crime, of every sort, shall be swept from his domains with a fiery besom; yea, all creatures who identify themselves with wickedness. Every force and element in nature is his servant, and a stream of fire issues from his feet. The earth, long stained with shameful crime, shall be purified, and the saints shall emerge from the trial "as gold that has been purified." Though long delayed, complete retribution shall in due time come, and the oppressed among the sons of men shall be publicly vindicated and honoured.
II. HIS SPLENDID RETINUE. His army is not reckoned by thousands, but by myriads, The largest number known to the ancients is put for an indefinite number. Everything that lives and breathes minister unto him. The orders and ranks of unfallen angels are his lieutenants. At a single glance of his eye they fly on fleetest wing to fulfil his Divine behests. One angel, with his invisible sword, scattered and decimated the proud army of Sennacherib. An east wind discomfited Pharaoh's host. A few flakes of snow annihilated the regiments of Napoleon. More than once a thunderstorm has defeated the most valiant troops of warriors. The locust, one feeble branch of God's military retinue, has chased a whole nation from the field. "To whom, then, shall we liken God?" And is not he a prodigious fool who challenges God to a contest? "Let the potsherds strive with the potsherds of the earth; but woe to the man who strives with his Maker!" Filled with Divine courage, "one man shall chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight."
III. HIS JUDICIAL. OCCUPATION. "The judgment was set." This language does not refer exclusively to the final and general judgment of mankind. It refers especially to a present judgment, and a special adjudication touching the ambitious kings. The activity of God's mental judgment is never in suspense. Judicial acts are always proceeding. "For judgment," said Christ, "I am come into the world." Still, it is permitted us to think of state occasions, when public investigations are made, clear proofs of human guilt are adduced, and world-wide approval is given of Divine verdicts. "The books were opened," viz. the volume of Divine Law, clearly read by men; the book of history; the book of memory; the book of conscience. The decision shall not be reached with unseemly haste. The investigation shall proceed under the superintendence of Wisdom herself, and her calm decisions can never be called in question.
IV. HIS ROYAL AWARDS. The act of Divine judgment, which was present to the view of Daniel, was an act concerning the "great beast." He had been seized by God's detectives, and arraigned before the bar of heavenly justice. His last daring act of rebellion was that of speaking proud and defiant words against God. Thus the haughty oppressors of nations boast, "Our wills are our own: who is Lord over us?" But their discomfiture will be complete and overwhelming. The beast was slain. Life was withdrawn. Nor this only. His body was destroyed. As he had consumed others, so, by a righteous retribution, he shall be consumed in the burning flame. Lesser penalties are imposed on the other beasts. Further opportunity of amendment is given to some. Dominion is forfeited, but life for a brief season is prolonged. Yet, in this heavenly assize, there are not only wrongs punished; rights are vindicated. Obedience, excellence, merit, axe commended, are exalted to the highest place. The human monarchs, who abused their sovereign trust, shall be dethroned—yea, destroyed; but in their place another shall arise—a King of righteousness, a pattern Prince. Instead of savage beasts, there shall be, as King of nations, a Son of man—a man fresh from the hands of God. His innate glory shall be partly veiled, "He came in the clouds of heaven." His is no usurped authority. He does not take this honour of himself. He professes allegiance to the world's Ruler and Judge, and receives the kingdom at the hands of God. "Angels and principalities and powers" delight to do him honour; "they brought him near" the everlasting Father. The Son of man does not disdain to receive the kingdom from the Creator and Originator of all things. Because of his meekness and righteousness (not because of muscular power and violence) the Son of man receives investiture of universal sovereignty. Others, like Alexander and Timour, had aspired to this, but they were not worthy. Real merit shall at length rise to the surface, and reach the topmost place. Before him "every knee shall bow," either attracted by his grace or awed by his power. To him shall appertain, not a kingdom only, but transcendent glory, and dominion born of love. All nations and languages shall ultimately serve him, and his kingdom shall be durable as eternity. Universality and permanency are the indelible marks of Messiah's empire.—D.
Godly obedience the basis of permanent dominion.
Wisdom and righteousness are the qualities of a real king. Daniel, though not ambitious of a material sceptre, yet, by virtue of his weighty influence, swayed the destinies of the Babylonian empire. He ruled by an unpretentious grace.
I. GOOD MEN ARE MORE CONCERNED FOR GOD'S CAUSE THAN FOR ANY SELF-EXALTATION. Daniel was grieved in spirit, not because of personal ill, nor from fear of the lions' den, but because of the obscurity of the vision; in other words, because of the uncertain fortune of God's kingdom. The symbol of the fourth beast seemed to betoken disaster, suffering, yea, even destruction, for the people of God. That under the violence of this unnatural monster the saints of the Most High should be worn out with oppression, and that rude wickedness should prevail; this distressed and overwhelmed the heart of Daniel. He lived for one object. His life, from the early days of youth, had been directed towards one end—viz, the reversal of Israel's over-throw—the restoration of the Hebrews to Canaan. If this end seemed nearer, he was content; if this event was shrouded in doubt, he grieved. In his ease self was repressed—kept down. He was consumed with pious zeal for others' good—for God's honour. Never once do we find him plotting for his own elevation or for his own interests. He did not live for fame. Yet he had it. He thought mainly of God, and God set his thought and care upon him. He had so completely identified himself with God's cause on earth, that all his interest and happiness were indissolubly bound up with it. Herein God observed his promise, "Them that honour me I will honour." To him heaven was open. He moved in the society of angels. And, when his mind was enveloped with difficulty, he gladly sought counsel and instruction from one of the heavenly host. A wise man will ever seek to increase his wisdom. He welcomes light from every quarter.
II. SELF-EXALTATION IS EVENTUALLY DOOMED TO DESTRUCTION. The nature of man has great possibilities both of elevation and descent. He who will be a monarch, be the methods what they may, shall be degraded to the level of a beast. These four human sovereigns are represented by the Spirit of truth as four beasts. They were so rapacious after rule, that, on the road, they did not hesitate to devour much flesh. A thousand, or a myriad, human lives were, in their estimation, nothing, so long as they could climb to a throne, and see their proud wills obeyed. Yet they were only beasts in the guise of men. They had the tastes, inclinations, ferocity, of brutes. The fourth in the contemptible series was so wanton and lustful in his rage, that not one of the wild beasts on earth could fitly represent him. He was a very prodigy of brutality. But empire so gained could not continue. The seeds of decay were sown in it from the beginning. "They that use the sword shall perish by the sword." Their success is but for a moment—a vapour, which barely appeareth, and then for ever vanisheth. Who can point us to-day to an earthly throne, which has been founded by military arms, and has endured? Vaulting ambition has always overleaped itself. They that have determined to be rulers, be the cost what it may, shall sink into infamy—into the pit of human scorn. "The judgment shall sit." A King of all other kings calmly rules, with irresistible sceptre, in a higher sphere; and woe be to the puny tyrant that dares resist his will! Jehovah hath "prepared his throne in the heavens;" and this is a fundamental principle in his kingdom: "He that exalteth himself shall be abased." They that bite and devour shall be consumed one of another.
III. LOWLY GOODNESS SHALL RISE TO A GLORIOUS AND PERMANENT THRONE. They who sink self shall rise into the possession of a better nature and of a loftier state. To live for others is heroic—god-like. Real goodness thinks little about itself—is blind to its own virtues and charms. It deems others' merits superior to its own, others' faults to be less. Its eye is mainly fixed upon the true standard of excellence, and it strains every nerve to reach that. So long as that is beyond, unattained, it mourns and grieves. The mark of true saints, in their present state, is not perfection, but consecration. They are God's devoted ones—"the sacramental host of his elect." Their characteristic mark is loyalty—growing holiness. They are devoid of personal ambition. If they have crowns thrust upon them, they will place them at once at the service of their Lord. To acquire wisdom, righteousness, love,—this is their ambitious aim, even to be worthy friends of the King of grace. In process of time they become "more than conquerors," for they acquire a conquest which is permanent and irreversible—a conquest which serves as a vantage-ground for higher conquest yet. Whether the dominion, which the saints of God obtain, is over evil principles, or over living personalities, or over men, may remain an open question. It may very properly be said to include all. It is a dominion over self, over sin, over death, over Satan, yea, over their fellow-men. For, in the nature of firings, in proportion as any man has wisdom, purity, love, he rules with invisible sceptre over other men. Yet, kings and priests though the saints are, they are willing vassals under Christ. He is "Lord of all."—D.
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Daniel 7". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12