Click here to get started today!
THE RAM AND THE HE-GOAT
This chapter marks the change from Aramaic to Hebrew. The character of the chapter is like that which immediately precedes it. It consists, like it, of the account of a vision, and the interpretation of it. The subject of this vision is the overthrow of the Persian monarchy by Alexander the Great, the division of his empire, and the oppression of Israel by Epiphanes.
In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me Daniel, after that which appeared unto me at the first. The text of the Septuagint does not differ greatly from the Hebrew, but avoids the strange anarthrous position of anu, "I." The Septuagint renders this verse as a title to the chapter, thus: "A vision which I Daniel saw in the third year of the reign of Belshazzar (Beltasar), after that I saw formerly (πρώτην)." The Septuagint reading seems to have been asher r'oeh anee. Theodotion and the Peshitta are in verbal agreement with the Massoretic text. The third year of the reign of King Belshazzar. We learn now that Belshazzar did not reign independently; but that for at least five years he exercised all the functions of government. If Daniel's investiture with the position of third man in the kingdom took place on the occasion of Belshazzar's inauguration of his vice-regal reign, Daniel may have remained in the royal service continuously till the overthrow of the Babylonian monarchy. After that which appeared ,into me at the first. The former vision referred to is clearly the vision of the preceding chapter.
And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai. The LXX. presents several slight differences, "And I saw in the vision of my dream, when I was in the city Susa, which is in the province Elymais, and I seemed in my vision to be at the gate Ailam." Theodotion renders more briefly, "And I was in Susa the palace (Σούσοις τῇ Βάρει), in the province Ailam, and I was on the Ubal." The Syriac is in close agreement with the Massoretic. even to the transcription of the doubtful word Ubal. The transcription is carried so far that medeenatha, "a city," is used to translate medeena, "a province." Jerome renders m deena, cicitas, and uval, portam, and beera, castrum. The word אוּבַל ('oobal) is nearly a hapax legomenon, absolutely so if we do not admit joobal, in Jeremiah 17:8, to be the same word. There is, as will have been seen above, great differences among the versions. The LXX. and Jerome seem to have read אולם (oolam), "porch" or "gate," instead of oobal. Ewald would make the word mean "river-basin," Stromgebeit—a view supported also by Zöckler. In many respects "marsh" might be a more suitable rendering. To the south-west of the present ruins of Susa there is an extensive marsh, which may have been of old date. The preposition liphnee, which occurs in Jeremiah 17:3, is all but meaningless applied to a river, if we use it in its ordinary meaning, "before." If we take it as meaning "eastward," the ram would be "westward" from Shushan, ie. between Shushan and the river; but as Daniel was in Shushan, he would naturally state the position of the "ram" in relation to it rather than to the river. The preposition עַל (‛al) is nearly as meaningless with regard to a river, unless a bridge or a boat is intended. We are inclined to read oolam as "porch." At the same time, we know that there was the river Ulai (Eulaeus) near Shushan. It is mentioned in one of the inscriptions of Asshurbanipal in connection with Shushan. The palace. Beera really seems to mean "fortress." It occurs ten times in Esther, and always as the appellation of Shushan. In Nehemiah it is once used with this connotation, but twice in regard to some building in Jerusalem, probably the temple; in Chronicles it is used for the temple. In Ezra 6:2 it is used of Achmetha, equivalent to Ecbatana. From the fact that the LXX. translates πόλις, it might be reasoned that the translator had עיר before him, but the translation probably was due to ignorance of the precise meaning of the word. In Esther this word is rendered πόλις. In Nehemiah it is once rendered πόλις, once it is rendered ἄβιρα, and once βίρα. The derivation of the word seems to be from the Assyrian birtu. It really means "citadel" or "fortress," and thus may be compared with the Carthaginian byrsa. Jerome's translation, castrum, suits this. It is not necessary to maintain that at this time Daniel was in Shushan. All that is implied is that in his dream he was there. Shushan is first referred to in the inscriptions of Asshur-bani-pal as the capital of Elam. In the history of that monarch there is an inscription of his given in which he says, "Shushan, the great city, the seat of their gods, the place of their oracle, I captured." Then follows a description of the plunder he took from it. We do not know when it recovered from that overthrow. The name is said to be derived from the number of lilies growing in the neighbourhood; but shushan, "a lily," is a Shemitie word, and the Elamites are usually regarded as an Aryan people. The association of Babylon with Elam and Media must have been intimate, if any credit is to be placed on the Greek accounts of the marriage of Nebuchadnezzar. Hence, even if Elam was not, at the date specified, a province of the Babylonian Empire, perhaps never was, yet the Babylonian. court might well have envoys visiting the court of Elam. We find from the well-known inscription of Nabunahid, that he regarded Cyrus at first as a friend and deliverer from the formidable Astyages, King of Umman-Manda. Daniel may have been sent to Elam, although there is no necessity for maintaining that this was the case. It was not until he had conquered Astyages that Cyrus held possession of Shushan.
Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns; and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last. The rendering of the LXX. does not differ essentially from the Massoretic Version, save in the last clause, which is rendered, "and the higher ascended (ἀνέβαινε)." As in the former verse, oobal is translated "gate." Certainly, as before remarked, "before a river" is an awkward combination; "before" or "over against a gate" is intelligible. "Eastward," which liphnee also means, will not suit the geographical circumstances, as Shushan itself stood on the east bank of the river Eulaeus, or Shapur. If, further, oobal means a "marsh," as Jerome renders it, then "eastward" would not suit. for the existing marsh is to the south-west of Shushan. Theodotion is in closer agreement with the Massoretic text, but does not translate
. The Peshitta renders "westward," not by yammah, but by the term for "west" that became common in Exilic and post-Exilic Hebrew, ma‛arab—the word that is used in the next verse. Ezekiel uses yammah for "west," when in vision he places himself in Palestine, otherwise it is not used for "west" by Exilic and post-Exilic writers. If we take the statement of the next verse as fixing what was "the west" to the author of Daniel, where would "seaward" be? If we draw a line from Tress, where Alexander landed, and continue it through Babylon, it reaches the Persian Gulf. "Seaward" would mean consequently "eastward," or approximately so, to one writing in Babylon. A great number of suggestions have been offered to explain the singular omission of "eastward" from the direction in which the ram pushes with his horns, Havernick, and following him Moses Stuart, assert that "eastward" is not mentioned because the Persians made no conquests to the east until the days of Darius Hystaspis, and then not permanent ones. Against this is the fact that Elam and Media were mainly east of Ansan. Further, the picture here given of the Persian Empire is not restricted to the days of Cyrus and Cambyses, but all through its course. As to the permanence of these Eastern conquests, the territories of Darius Codomannus east of Arbela embraced modern Persia and other territories to the confines of India. Keil assumes that the ram stands on the western bank of the Shapur, so, if he pushed eastward, it would be against his own capital; but if oobal means "a river," then the only meaning possible for liphnee is "eastward." He would then be butting towards the river across which the enemy was likely to come, moreover, against his own capital, unless the ram is supposed to be between the river and the city—an unlikely supposition, as Shushan was on the river Eulaeus. He further maintains that the unfolding of the power of Persia was towards these three named directions, and not towards the last, whatever that may mean. Ewald declares the ram does not butt towards the east, because that already belongs to him. As a matter of fact, and, as exhibited by the Book of Esther, welt known to the Jews, the Persian Empire did conquer towards the east. Behrmann says, "The ram does not push towards the east, because he comes from the east—a delicacy the Septuagint overlooked." In point of fact, there is no word in the vision of the ram coming from anywhere—this delicacy (feinheit) Professor Behrmann has overlooked. Kranich-fold and Zöckler follow this. The view of Bishop Newton, followed by Archdeacon Rose, is that the east had no importance to the Jews; but north and south had just a little. Jephet-ihn-Ali and several modern commentators think the three directions, as the three ribs, imply the limitation of the Persian Empire. It certainly was recognized by the Jews to be little, if at all, less than that of Alexander the Great Hitzig propounds in all gravity an absurd view; he assumes that the ram was standing on the west bank of the river, and faced west, and argues that he did not butt eastward because he could not butt backwards. His preliminary assumption is groundless, as we have seen, and rams can change their position. The true explanation is that a direction has dropped out. While "seaward" had ceased to mean "west" to the Jews in Babylon, it did not take long residence in Palestine to recover this name for "west."£ A copyist living in Palestine, finding yammah, in the first place would translate it "westward;" then after "northward" he would, in the third place, come upon ma‛arab, which also meant "west;" so naturally he dropped the second of what seemed to him synonymous terms. If we are correct in our supposition, we have here demonstrative proof that Daniel was written by one living in Babylon Are beasts might stand before him. All the powers round Persia had to submit to him. And be became great affords proof, if proof were needed, that the vision applies to the whole of the history of Persia. There is little necessity for Moses Stuart's translation, "became haughty."
And as I was considering, behold, an he-goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched net the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. The Septuagint, when completed from Paulus Tellensis, agrees in the main with the Massoretic, omitting only "whole" before "earth." The Christian MS. omits the clause, "and touched the ground," but it is in Paulus Tellensis. As I was considering. "Was" is here used much as an auxiliary verb—an Aramaic usage. "Considering" really suggests "meditating on." He-goat. The word here used does not elsewhere occur in the Hebrew Scriptures. It is really an Aramaic word, though vocalized here after the analogy of Hebrew. On the face of the whole earth. The writer had probably in his mind the negative idea expressed in the next verse; hence the word kol. A notable horn; "a horn of sight;" a horn that no one could fail to remark upon. No symbol could express in a more graphic way the rapidity of the conquests of Alexander the Great than this of the goat that flew over the ground. One can parallel with this the four wings of the leopard in Daniel 7:1-28. It is singular that Alexander should generally on his coins be figured as horned. Had this vision been due to a knowledge of this—which could not have escaped a Jew of the days of the Maccabees—the writer would certainly have made Alexander not a goat, but a ram. as it is a ram's horn that is intended to be figured on the portraits of Alexander. As everybody knows, this refers to the fable that he was the son of Jupiter Ammon, the ram-horned. It is difficult to assign a reason why the goat was chosen as the symbol of the Grecian power, save that, as compared with the Persian power, the Greek was the more agile.
And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power. The differences of the Septuagint from the received text are slight here. Oobal is still translated πύλη; it renders, "fury of his rage" rather than "fury of his power." The Massoretic, as the less obvious collocation, is the better reading. Theodotion and the Peshitta leave oobal untranslated. The latter omits the last clause of the Massoretic. In the Hebrew the ram is called Baal-karnayeem, "lord of two horns." Alexander's war against Persia was one of simple aggression.
And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand. The two Greek versions, though differing very much in the Greek words chosen as equivalent to the Hebrew, yet both represent a text practically identical with that of the Massoretes. The Peshitta omits the introductory "behold," but otherwise can scarcely be said to differ essentially from the received text, though there are some peculiarities due to mistaken reading, but unimportant. The word yithmormar, "he was emhittered," is a word that occurs here and in the eleventh chapter. The root, however, as might be guessed from its meaning, is not uncommon, being found in Genesis Exodus, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Ruth, Job, and Zechariah. How Professor Bevan can class this with "words or roots which occur nowhere else in the Old Testament" it is difficult to see. If this part of the verb occurs in later Jewish literature, it is singular that neither Buxtorf nor Levy chronicles the fact. It does not occur in Western Aramaic, but does in Eastern (comp. Peshitta 2 Samuel 18:33; Acts 17:16). It is quite such a word as a man writing among those who spoke Eastern Aramaic might use. Alexander advanced always against Darius; he would not even speak of treating with him. After the passage of the Granicus, he pushed on to Cilicia, overthrew Darius at Issus, b.c. 333; then, after the conquest of Egypt, advanced against him again at Arbela, and once more inflicted on him an overwhelming defeat. When Darius fled from the field, Alexander pursued him to the shores of the Caspian and into Bactria and Sogdiana, till Darius fell a victim to the treachery of Bessus. Certainly relentlessness was the most marked character of Alexander's pursuit of Darius. The horns of the Persian power were broken, thrown to the earth, and trodden underfoot.
Therefore the he-goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven. The two Greek versions differ from the Massoretic only in this—that the four horns are not mentioned as notable horns, but simply ἕτερα, "other." The Peshitta agrees closely with the Massoretic. The Greek versions indicate that the reading they had before them was '"haroth instead of hazooth; hazooth has been borrowed from the fifth verse. The empire of Alexander had reached its greatest extent when the young conqueror fell a victim to what seems malarial fever, aggravated by his drinking. His life was broken off before its legitimate conclusion. At his death there was great confusion. Perdiccas assumed the guardianship of the children of the conqueror, and attempted to succeed him in the empire. After his death Antigonus in turn attempted to secure the imperial power, but was defeated and slain at the battle of Ipsus. The empire of Alexander was then divided into four main portions—Macedonia and Greece, under Cassander; Asia Minor, under Lysimachus; Syria and all the East, under Seleucus; and Cyrene, under Ptolemy. In the two first of these there were several revolutions, but finally the Antigonids established themselves in Macedon, and the Attalids in Asia Minor.
And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east. and toward the pleasant land. The Greek versions here differ considerably from the Massoretic text. The LXX. is as follows: "And out of one there sprang a strong horn, and it prevailed and smote toward the south, toward the south-west (ἐπὶ νότον), and toward the east, and toward the north." In this case, ἐπὶ νότον is clearly a doublet—an alternative rendering that has got into the text from the margin. Ἐπὶ βοῤῥὰν results from reading tzephonah (צְפוֹנָה) instead of tzebee (צֶבִי). Theodotion renders, "From one of them went forth a strong horn, and was magnified exceedingly to the south and to the power"—reading צָבָא (tzaba), "host," for tzebee. It is to be observed that both translate mitztze‛eeroth as "strong" (ἰσχυρός) instead of "little." The reason of this is that they have taken מְ as equivalent to ex, therefore equivalent to a negative. The Peshitta agrees with the Authorized in reading mitztze‛eroth as "little," but leaves out the difficult final word rendered "the pleasant land" in our Authorized Version. Jerome translates mitztze'eeroth by modicum, and tzebee by fortitudinem—a combination of Theodotion and the Massoretic; he must have had tzaba in his text instead of tzebee,—this may have been due to the fact that tzaba occurs in the next verse. The reference is sufficiently obvious to Antiochus. The description is accurate; he sprang from one of the four horns or dynasties that succeeded the great conqueror. He carried his arms to the east, but mainly to the south against Egypt. The great difficulties are in the two Hebrew words mitztze‛eeroth and tzebee. As to the first word, the fact that the two Greek versions have read it are conclusive against the suggestion of Gratz and Hitzig, supported by Bevan, that we should omit מִן. (min). Jephet-ibn-Ali takes min as denoting the origin of the horn, "from a little one." The further suggestion of Gratz, that we should adopt the reading of the LXX; is rightly combatted by Professor Bevan. The readings alike of the LXX. and Theodotion could have sprung from the Massoretic reading, whereas neither of these could so readily be the original reading. It was necessary that Israel should be prominent in this part of the prophecy; it all leads up to the persecution the Jews endured at the hands of Epiphanes. It is necessary, then, to hold that this word, whatever reading we adopt, and whatever immediate meaning we assign to it, must refer to Palestine. Ewald renders it "ornament;" Bevan, "glory."
And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. The reading of the LXX. is very different after the first clause, "And it was exalted to the stars of heaven, and it was shattered to the earth by thestars, and by them trampled down." The verb תַּסֵּל (tappayl) translated "cast down," has been read as if it had been תֻּפַּל (tooppal). So too the last verb has evidently been read וַירְמְסוּהוּ (vāyyir'msoohoo) instead of וַתִּרְמְסֵם (vattir'msaym), due to the resemblance which there was between yod and tan in the older script. Theodotion differs hardly less from the Massoretic, "And it was magnified to the power of heaven, and it fell to the earth from the power of heaven and from the stars, and they trode them down." The verb translated "fell" is evidently read with a vocalization different from both the Massoretic and the LXX The sense of Theodotion is more in accordance with the Septuagint than with the Massoretic. The Peshitta and the Vulgate agree with the Massoretic. The question of which reading is to be preferred can scarcely be settled without regarding the meaning of the terms here used. The crucial point is—What is the meaning of the "host of heaven"? The general consensus of interpreters is that this refers to Israel. Some maintain that the best of heaven is Israel, and the stars their leaders (Glassins); the stars are the Levites (Grotius). Moses Stuart would hold the host to be the priests, and the stars the teachers. Kliefoth is right in commencing first with the picture, and requiring that it be realized in thought. The horn grows and grows before Daniel's gaze, until it seems to touch the stars, that is, the host of heaven. As to what is meant by the stars, we must look elsewhere for an explanation. Have we any right to take "the host of heaven" as meaning the people of God? The phrase, "host of heaven," occurs elsewhere in Scripture nearly a score of times, and it rover means anything else than the stars or the angels. Therefore all interpretations that make this mean either the people of God or the Levites, must be thrown aside. It may, however, mean the people of God mediately. A quite elaborate line of deduction has been brought forward—the promise to Abraham (Genesis 15:5), to Isaac (Genesis 26:4), that their seed should be as the stars of heaven, is brought into connection with the use of the word "hosts" in regard to Israel (Numbers 1:52, etc.)—and the title given to God as the God of Israel, "Jehovah of hosts." This is very ingenious, but it has no support from scriptural usage or from the usage in apocalyptic writings. In the Book of Enoch, which, since it is modelled on this book, furnishes us with the earliest commentary on it, we find the stars are invariably the symbol of the angels. When we pass to the Book of Revelation, we find the same thing. We find when we pass on to the tenth chapter of this book, that all the nations are regarded as under the rule of some special angel We must apply, so far as we can, rules of interpretation which the author himself supplies us with. Using this guide, we see next that, when a nation was defeated and oppressed, its angel or star was regarded as thrown to the earth and trodden underfoot. The treatment Epiphanes meted out to Egypt and Palestine seems specially referred to. If we take the reading of the LXX; then the reference will be to the humiliation Epiphanes received at the hands of the Romans first, and then the Jews, and lastly the Elamites, whose temple he attempted to plunder.
Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. This is said by Bevan to be the most difficult verse in this whole book. There is a difference here between the Q'ri and the K'thib. The latter reads הרים, the hiphil of רום, while the former reads הרם, the hophal of the same verb At first sight the difficulty is not lessened by consideration of the versions. The Septuagint as it at present stands is utterly unintelligible, "Until the leader of the host shall save the captivity, and by him everlasting mountains were broken down, and their place and sacrifice taken away, and he placed it in the very ground, and he prospered [reading with Syriac] and was, and the holy place shall be laid waste." This confusion is due to confluence of readings, and is not difficult to disentangle with the help of the Massoretic text. Up to the last two words the Septuagint is a translation of a text differing from the Massoretic simply by intelligible variations and repetitions not uncommon in the Septuagint. The first clause of the LXX. originally was probably, "Till the prince shall deliver the captivity," reading שְׁבִי (shebee) instead of צַבָא (tzaba)—a scribe, finding צבא in his Hebrew, then added the translation of it to the margin of his Greek copy, from which it got into the text. The original of the LXX. had also יַחִּיּל (yatztzeel) instead of הִגְדִיל ‛hig'deel)—a confusion easily made in the elder script, in which יand הwere like. We learn from the Talmud that גwas liable to be mistaken by scribes for .צ Moreover, "captivity" would naturally suggest נצל, "to deliver." The second clause is, "By him the everlasting mountains were broken down." Here hayreem has been read with the K'thib, and vocalized as if it were hareem, and tameed, "continual," translated as equivalent to עולם (‛olam), "everlasting." The next clause reveals the other meaning of tameed, "sacrifice," which probably had been written on the margin, and then dropped into the text. The latter part of the Septuagint verse appears to be confused with the latter part of the following verse according to the Massoretes. Theodotion is even less intelligible than the Septuagint, "Until the leader of the host shall save the captivity, and through him the sacrifice was broken down, and he prospered, and the holy place shall be made desolate." It is to be noticed that the first clause here agrees with the LXX. It is possible that "and he prospered" is a doublet, הִצְלִיַח being read for חֻשְׁלַד in some copy. The Peshitta differs from beth the Greek versions, "Until it arrive to the chiefs of the host, and by it was set up in perpetuity, and preparing he strengthened the sanctuary," and while it is difficult to understand the origin of the variation in the first clause, it is clear that in the second clause the translator must have read hishleem for hooshlak. The one thing that seems clear is that the reading of the K'thib is to be preferred. We should read hayreem, not hooram. Only the first of these could be read "mountains." If we translate the words as they stand, we shall certainly be removed out of the region of all the commentators. It is assumed that "the little horn" is the subject of this sentence; but "horn" is feminine in Hebrew, and the verbs here are in the masculine; this is against it being the nominative. The "prince of the host," then, must be the nominative of the verbs and subject of the sentence. The rendering of the first clause ought to be, then, "Until the prince of the host magnify himself (1 Samuel 12:24), and by himself he shall offer the daily sacrifice. And he shall cast down the foundation of his holy place," reading hishlayk instead of hooshlak. We should feel strongly in. clined to transfer the first "and" to hayreem, and, changing the punctuation, read, "Until the prince of the host shall make himself greater than he"—viz, the tyrant represented by "the little horn"—"and shall offer the daily sacrifice." If we might read hishleem with the Peshitta instead of hooshlak, we get a satisfactory meaning to the last clause, in which case we should render, "He shall complete the place of his sanctuary." We would understand by "complete," "to perfectly purify." Taking the Massoretic text thus with little modification, we have a description of the successes of Judas Maccabseus, who was prince of the host, and as such became stronger than Epiphanes, and then cleansed the temple, and offered the continual daily sacrifice. We give, as a curiosity, the note of Saadiah Gaon: "The King of Ishmael was more powerful than the kings of Rome who had Jerusalem, and he took Jerusalem from them by force."
And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered. The renderings of the LXX. and Theodotion are closely related, and both differ from the Massoretic text. The first is, "And the sins were upon the sacrifice, and righteousness was fallen to the earth, and he (or, it) did, and prospered." Theodotion renders, "And sin was placed (given) upon the sacrifice, and righteousness is fallen to the earth, and he (it) did and prospered." The Peshitta is nearer the Massoretic text, but better in accordance with the Authorized Version, "A host was given against the perpetuity, in transgression the holy place was thrown to the ground, and he did and prospered." From the fact that צָבָא (tzaba) is omitted from the two Greek versions, we venture to omit it also; it has probably been inserted from the verse above. Both versions also omit the preposition before" transgression;" we omit it also. We would thus render, "And transgression was upon the sacrifice, and," reading תַּשְׁלַךְ, "truth was cast to the ground, and it did and prospered." After Judas Maccabaeus had cleansed the temple and offered sacrifices, sin mingled with it. We know that the stricter Hasidim, objected to the foreign alliances into which the Maccabees were inclined to enter; the battle of Beth-zecharias was largely lost by the abstention of the stricter party. After that, Lysias, representing really the same movement as Epiphanes, advanced to the capture of Bethshur. Thus it might be said of the little horn, that "it did and prospered." Were it not that there is no authority for it in the versions, we should read תַּשֵׁלִם instead of תַּשְׁלַךְ. In that ease we should render, "And transgression was upon the sacrifice"—regarding this sacrifice as the atonement for the transgression (Leviticus 16:21)—"and truth shall make peace in the land, and do and prosper."
Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? Our Authorized rendering is clearly mistaken; it ought not to be "saint," but "holy one," as in the Revised Version. The versions leave palmoni, "a certain one," untranslated. Fust's suggestion, held also by Behrmann, is that this is a contraction for paloni almoni. The renderings of the versions are worthy of note. The LXX; "And I heard one holy one speaking, and another holy one said to Phehnouni who spoke, How long shall the vision stand, and the removed sacrifice, and the sin of desolation given, and the holy place be desolate to be trodden underfoot (εἰς καταπάτημα)?" Here the word στήσεται, "shall stand," is supposed by Professor Bevan to be an addition by one who did not fully comprehend the sentence. Following Gratz, Professor Bevan suggests a word, מוּרָם (mooram), "removed," to explain the presence of ἡ ἀρθεῖσα—a suggestion that appears well-founded. His further suggestion, that sin (שִׂם), "to set up," has been read instead of shomaym (שֹׁמֵם), must be due to inattention to the Greek. In it there is nothing about "set up," unless he transfers στήσεται from its place in the beginning of the sentence to the middle, and changes it to the active voice. Equally extraordinary is the suggestion that the translators read יצבא, instead of וצבא. The truth is, the introduction of ἐρημωθήσεται is probably due to a gloss or a confluence of readings. Theodotion is in close agreement with the Septuagint, save in the last clause, which he renders, "And the sanctuary and the power be trodden underfoot." The Peshitta is closer to the Massoretic, "And I heard a holy one who spake, and a holy one said to palmoni, who spake, When shall the vision of the perpetuity (daily sacrifice?), and of sin and of corruption be completed, and the holy place and the host be trodden underfoot?" The translators must have read shahata instead of shomaym. "Completed," neshtlem, may have been added, as στήσεται in the Greek, but the fact that all the versions have a word not represented in the Massoretic would indicate the probability that something has dropped out. Some part of the verb שׂוּם is suggested by the Greek Version, whereas some portion of שָׁלַם is suggested by the Peshitta. Daniel hears one of those watching angels who desire to look into the evolution of the Divine purpose concerning man and his salvation, asking another, "How long shall be the desolation of Jerusalem under Epiphanes?" The irregular construction here suggests corruption. We would render the speech of the angel, "How long—the vision, the sacrifice—the sin of desolation to give the sanctuary and the service to be trodden underfoot?" as if Daniel had only heard snatches of what was said; we would, we may say, omit the "and" before "sanctuary." The Septuagint translators may have omitted צָבָא (tzaba), thinking only of its ordinary meaning, "host," forgetful of the fact that it is used of the temple service in Numbers 4:23. These angels are most interested in the length of time that the sanctuary shall remain desolate. This may indicate that it was evident, from the vision, that the period of desolation was a limited one. The scene presented to the imagination is striking. The seer, as he gazes on the vision appearing to him over the marsh at Susa, hears angelic voices that direct attention to what was most important to him and to his people. To the Israelites of the period of the Maccabees, the length of time that the temple service would be in abeyance was of the highest importance. It was well that they should know that the time was shortened for the elect's sake.
And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. The Massoretic reading is here clearly corrupt. "Unto me" ought to be "unto him," as proved by the versions and necessitated by sense. The LXX. is somewhat violent in construction, but means, "And he said to him, Until evenings and mornings are two thousand three hundred days, and the sanctuary shall be purified." Theodotion agrees closely with the LXX; only he has "five hundred" instead of "three hundred." The Peshitta agrees with the Massoretic, save as above mentioned—"him" instead of "me," and the last clause, which ought naturally to rendered "and the sacrifice be purified." The Hebrew phrase for this clause is an unnatural one—it might be rendered, "And holiness (or, 'holy thing,' 'offering') shall be justified." The want of the article is not an objection, as the manner of the author is to use the article sparingly. The word translated "cleansed" really means "justified;" it is the only example of this part of the verb. All the versions translate as if the word had been some derivative of טָהַר (tahar). The period referred to is that between the desolation inflicted on the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes and its cleansing by Judas Maccabaeus. It is somewhat difficult to fix the exact space of time intended by these two thousand three hundred evening-mornings. Does it mean two thousand three hundred days? For this may be urged that this succession. "evening and morning," not "morning and evening," resembles Genesis 1:1-31. If this resemblance is intentional, then "evening-morning" means a space of twenty-four hours. If the days are literal days, then the space of time would amount to nearly six years and a half, if' we take the year here as three hundred and sixty days. Another view is that day and night are separated and each reckoned; hence the number of days involved would be eleven hundred and fifty—fifty-five days more than three average years, and seventy days more than three years of three hundred and sixty days each. If, however, the year be the lunar year of three hundred and fifty-four days, it closely approximates to three years and a quarter. The period that one would naturally think of is that between the setting up of the abomination of desolation (1 Macc. 1:54), on the fifteenth day of Casleu, in the hundred and forty-fifth year of the Seleucid era to the rededication of the temple on the twenty-fifth of Casleu, in the hundred and forty-eighth year, but that is only three years and ten days. If the first and last of these years were respectively the fifth and seventh of a metonic cycle, in each of which there were intercalary months, then there is only a difference of eighteen days between the interval given above and the actual historical interval. If, however, we are to believe Maerobius ('Satur.,' Genesis 1:13, § 9), and hold that the intercalations were supplied by adding the three months in one year, if one of the years in question was the year in the cycle in which this took place, then the interval would be twelve days too much. In either case the difference is very small. The attempt to take the interval as two thousand three hundred days leads to very arbitrary results. Behrmann takes the victory of Adasa, which Judas gained over Nicanor, as the termination of the period—a purely arbitrary date, and reckons back to the displacement of Onias, another date that, so far as can be seen, was not regarded as of importance by the Jews, however important it has become in the eye of critics.
And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. The versions here are unimportant. Daniel desires to understand the meaning of this vision. From this we see that, at the time when this book was written, it was understood that prophets might be ignorant of the meaning of the revelations made to them. This is at variance with the assumption of even believing critics, that if a prophecy were given to a prophet, he must have understood the reference of the message. On the accuracy of this assumption, they found the rejection of any interpretation of a prophecy which sees more in it than the prophet could have seen. This latest critical date of Daniel is separated by approximately two centuries and a half from prophecy in actual existence in Malachi. The tradition of the conditions of the phenomenon would still be vital. The phrase before us probably means that Daniel applied the various Babylonian formulae to the dream, to find the interpretation , but, suspicious of them, he still continued his search. In answer to Daniel's search, there stood before him one having "the appearance of a man (gaber)"—an angelic being in human form. The H,.brew word translated "man" is gaber, which suggests the name given to the angel, "Gabriel."
And I heard a man's voice between the hanks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. The Septuagint has an addition, "And the man called out, saying, To that purpose is the vision." This seems to be a gloss. Theodotion and the Peshita agree with the Massoretic, only that Theodotion does not indicate the difference of the word used for "man" in this verse from that in Daniel 8:15, and renders Ulai "Oubeh" "Between Ulai" is a singular phrase. The versions do not attempt any solution. The preposition bayin means usually "between." If we assume that the river Ulai is here meant, and that it divided into two branches, the thing is explicable. Only it would have been more in accordance with usage to have put "Ulai" in the plural. It may, perhaps refer to the marsh, in which case it might be between the citadel and the marsh. Daniel had seen the appearance of a man; now he hears a voice addressing the man, and naming him Gabriel, "Hero of God." It is to be noted that this is the earliest instance of the naming of angels in Scripture. In the tenth chapter Michael is also named. These are the only angelic names in the whole of Scripture. These two names, and these alone, recur in the New Testament, the first of them in the first chapter of Luke, and the second in Revelation 12:7 and Jude. The Book of Tobit added another angelic name on the same lines, Raphael. When we pass to the Books of Enoch, we have moat elaborate hierarchies of angels, in all of which, however much they may otherwise differ, occur the two angels mentioned here and Raphael. The difference in atmosphere between the elaborate angelology of Enoch and the reticent accounts in the book before us is great. It is hardly possible to imagine so great a difference between the works of men that were all but contemporaries. The function assigned to Gabriel here is in accordance with that he fulfils in the New Testament—he is to make Daniel "understand the vision."
So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision. The versions are here in close agreement with the Massoretic text. On Gabriel's approach Daniel fell on his face, overwhelmed at contact with the spiritual. It is mentioned as if this were the natural result of such an interview as that vouchsafed to Daniel. At first sight this contradicts Daniel 7:16, where Daniel interrogates one of the angelic bystanders. In the first place, Daniel 7:15 shows that Daniel had been grieved and disturbed before he ventured on the question; and, next, Gabriel was one of the great angels that stood before God. Gabriel addressed Daniel by the title so often given to Ezekiel, "son of man," ben-adam. Professor Fuller, and also Kranichfeld, remark on the contrast between Gabriel, "Hero of God," and ben-adam, "son of man" The time of the end does not mean the end of the world, or of the appearance of the Messiah, for in this vision there is no reference to either of these. It is rather to be rendered, after the analogy of Jer 1:1-19 :26, where miqqetz means "from the utmost border," and reaches to a far-off time.
Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground; but he touched me, and set me upright. The LXX. joins the opening words of the next verse to this. I was in a deep sleep suggests the case of the three apostles, Peter, James, and John, on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luk 9:1-62 :82). The numbing effect of the presence of the supernatural produces a state analogous to sleep, yet "the eyes are open" (Numbers 24:4) the senses are ready to convey impressions to the mind. The angel, however, touched Daniel, and set him upright.
And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be. The Septuagint here inserts a clause after "indignation." It reads, "on the children of thy people." It may have been inserted from Daniel 12:1, only it is used in such a different sense that that does not seem very likely. It may have been in the original text, and dropped out not unlikely by homoioteleuton. The missing clause would be עַל בְּנֵי עַמֶּךָ, the last word of which is like two. On the other hand, its omission from Theodotion and the Peshitta is not so easily intelligible. Theodotion is in close agreement with the Massoretic text. The Peshitta is more brief, practically omitting the last clause. We have here the reference to the end, as in verse 17 it is not the end of the world that is in the mind of the writer, but the "end of the indignation." The Jews, while maintaining their gallant struggle against Epiphanes, have need of being assured that the battle will have an end, and one determined before by God, The angel has to make Daniel know the end of the indignation. It may be said that the present time, when Israel has neither country nor city, is one of indignation; but the immediate reference is to the persecution against the Jews inaugurated by Epiphanes.
The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. All the versions—the Septuagint, Theodotion, the Peshitta, and the Vulgate—have read, not מַלְכֵי, as we find in the Massoretic text, but מֶלֶד The ancient construct case in Hebrew was formed by adding יto the root. Possibly this may be a survival of that usage. In this case the change is due to scribal blunder. When we turn to Jeremiah 25:25 and Jeremiah 51:11, Jeremiah 51:58, we have the same phrases used as here: this is probably the origin of the blunder. For any one to ground an argument, as does Professor Bevan, on this, and maintain that it proves the writer to have held that there were two separate empires—one of Media, and the other of Persia—is absurd. When the true reading is adopted, this passage proves the very reverse of that for which Professor Bevan contends. The reasoning of Kliefoth, that the distinction between plural and singular points to the fact that, while several kings reigned ever the Persian Empire, only one ruled over the Greek, is very ingenious, but, unfortunately, it has no foundation in fact. "King," it may be observed, stands for dynasty, only that in the crisis of history, when the two powers encountered, each was ruled and represented by one king—Persia by Darius Codomannus, and Greece by Alexander.
And the rough goat is the King of Grecia; and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. Again all the versions agree in omitting the word "rough," and in inserting "of the goats," as in the fifth verse. The authority of these is much too great to be resisted. The Massoretic reading is probably due to a confluence of readings, as the word translated "rough" also means "goats." The omission of the word "of the goats" is probably due to the inclusion of שָׂעִיר (sa‛eer). Here, as in the previous case, "king" stands for dynasty; and this is proved by the fact that there is implied a series of kings, of whom the great horn is the first.
Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power. The LXX; if we take the reading of the Roman edition, agrees with the Masso-retie, save in the last clause, where it reads, "their power" instead of "his power." In this variation we find also Theodotion and the Peshitta agreeing. Jerome has "ejus." It is difficult to decide what is the true reading here. In the reading of the older versions the meaning is that these kings which should succeed Alexander should not be mighty. The reading of the Massoretic and Jerome implies a direct and natural comparison with Alexander the Great. As for the Greek versions, ου is easily mistaken for ω in uncial manuscripts. As for the Syriac, see Syriac character, is apt to be added to, see Syriac character, of the third person, and produce the difference we find. While the Greek versions and Jerome render, "his nation" instead of "the nation," as in the Massoretic, the Peshitta follows the Massoretic , which is wrong here. The point of the contrast is that the kings that succeeded Alexander were not of his family. Certainly none of the successors of Alexander had an empire nearly so extensive as his. The only one that really even comes into comparison with the empire of Alexander is that of Seleucus Nicator. But not only had he neither European nor African dominions, he did not possess, save for a little while. Asia Minor, nor Palestine, nor India beyond the Indus at all. The Parthian Empire seen sprang up, and wrested from the Solenoid a large portion of their possessions east of the Euphrates. It can well be said, even of the empire of Seleucus, that it had not the power of that of Alexander the Great.
And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. The versions here are, on the whole, in agreement with the Massoretic. The Greek versions read, "their sins," as if it were the iniquities of the successors of Alexander that had become full, and thus afforded the occasion of the appearance of Epiphanes. The Peshitta and Jerome have "iniquities" generally, without reference to the kings, but with probable reference to the Jewish people. The probability is decidedly in favour of the Massoretic reading; it was an easy suggestion that the iniquities to be punished were those of the heathen kings. The whole analogy of Scripture leads us to look at the iniquity of the people of God being the cause of evil befalling them. Certainly immediately before the persecution inflicted on the Jews by Antiochus, the progress of the unbelieving Hellenizing party had been very great, as we see by 1 Macc. 1:13-16. It was "like people, like priest;" the people devoted themselves to Grecian games with all their heathen associations, and strove to hide their Hebrew origin and the covenant of their faith, and high priests were ready to abet their practices. A king of fierce countenance; "strong of countenance." This refers to courage and success in war. Thus Amaziah (2 Kings 14:8), when he wishes to challenge Joash King of Israel, desires to "look in his face." Epiphanes' countenance was one that could successfully stand a hostile meeting. The Greek versions render עַץ (‛az) by ἀναιδής, "reckless." Understanding dark sentences. There may be some reference to incantations and superstitious observances; it may mean that he was well acquainted with omens, and how to benefit by them. Regardlessness in the matter of religion was a prominent characteristic of Antiochus; but it is quite a possible thing that, like most irreligious men, he was superstitious. He certainly was very keen-sighted in observing the political signs of the times, and very adroit at availing himself of what made for his own advantage. This last is the interpretation of Ewald. Zöckler and Hitzig think it means that the king here pictured "will be cunning to hide his own designs from friend and foe." Yet more common is the view of Keil, Behrmann, Stuart, and Bevan, that it refers generally to his mastery in the use of artifice. The main difficulty in regard to this view is that usage, does not support assigning such a meaning to heedoth. On the other hand, when we bear in mind that here we have the language of symbol and prophecy, so tricks of strategy and chicane of policy may all be symbolized by "dark sayings," without necessary reference to sentences such as those with which the Queen of Sheba tested the wisdom of Solomon.
And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. This verse involves many difficulties, grammatical and exegetical. These difficulties may be said to be present in all the versions of this passage. The LXX. renders, "And his power shall be confirmed, and not in his strength, and he shall destroy marvellously, and prosper and do, and shall destroy the rulers and people of the saints." Theodotion is so far slavishly close to the Massoretic text; but he seems to have read qodesh, an adjective agreeing with "people," instead of qedosheem, "saints;" and he omits the negative clause. The Peshitta is very close to the Massoretic. It emphasizes the negative clause by adding denaphsho, and translates "wonders" instead of "wonderfully." Jerome, more intent on expressing what is his own interpretation of the passage than on representing- the original, translates the first heel ("power") by fortitude, and the second by viribus suis. That the power of Epiphanes was great—greater than that of his brother and immediate predecessor—is undoubted. It is also the ease that lie was confirmed in Iris place by the Romans, though, if we are to receive the account of Appian, the direct means of his elevation to the throne was the intervention of Eumenes of Pergamus on his behalf. Thus the reference of the phrase, "not by his own power," may be to this. Little as he might brook the thought, he was but a subject-ally of the great republic. The other interpretations are
(1) that of Theodoret. Keil, Fuller, Havernick. Kranichfeld. and Moses Stuart, that the reference here is to Divine power as setting up Epiphanes to be a scourge to his people;
(2) that of von Lengerke, Kliefoth, Bevan, Behrmann, etc; not by might, but by his cunning;
(3) that of Hitzig, which combines the two—his cunning is divinely given;
(4) that of Calvin and Ewald, that the contrast is with the might of Alexander the Great.
All of these have something to favour them, but also something against them. There is against the first that there is no reference in the context to the fact, true though it was, that Antiochus was raised up by God for his own purposes. Against the second is the pronominal suffix, which would be needless if the contrast were between force and fraud. Of course, Hitzig's combination falls with this. Against the view advocated by Calvin and Ewald is the fact that it seems a long time to hold the reference to Alexander in abeyance. Still, it may be urged that the vision was before the prophet; on the other hand, the relative strength of Epiphanes and Alexander does not seem to be of importance. We still think that the real reference is to the fact that he did not attain the throne either by inheritance or by his own prowess, but by the help and authority of others, namely, Eumencs and Rome. And he shall destroy wonderfully. Gratz thinks yasheeth, "destroy," suspicious, and Professor Bevan suggests יַשִׂיח, (yaseeḥ), and would render, "He shall utter monstrous things;" but, unfortunately for his view, there is no hint in the versions of any difficulty as to the reading, and, further, שׂוּח (sooḥ) does not mean "utter," but "meditate." We must take the words as they stand (comp. Judges 13:19), and translate, "He shall destroy portentously." Certainly Epiphanes was to the Jews a portent of destruction; there had not been his like—not Nebuchadnezzar, who burned the temple, was to be compared to him who endeavoured to blot out the worship of Jehovah altogether: not any other of the Greek monarchs. He was unique in his enmity against God and his worship. He shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. The rendering of the Revised Version better conveys the sense of the original, "He shall destroy the mighty ones." There has been discussion as to the distinction involved here. Ewald regards the mighty as the three other horns of the ten (Daniel 7:8)—an interpretation which proceeds in the false identification of the fourth beast with the Greek Empire. Rashi imagines the star-worshippers; this seems the height of caprice. Jephet-ibn-Ali, who identifies the little horn with Mahommed, holds the "mighty" to be the Romans. Keil and Fuller hold it to be the heathen rulers generally. Von Lengerke, Kliefoth, and others maintain it refers to the rich of the holy people, while עַם (‛am) are the poor. Hitzig refers it to the three claimants for the crown, whom Antiochus is alleged, on somewhat insufficient evidence, to have overthrown; Behrmann and Zöckler, to the political and warlike enemies of Epiphanes, in contrast to the holy people, who were unwarlike. Kranichfeld refers it to the rulers of Israel, as distinct from the people; Calvin to "neighbouring nations." Moses Stuart would render, "great numbers, even the people of the saints;" while Professor Bevan thinks there is an interpolation here, and adopts a reading of Gratz from the LXX. for the beginning of the following verse. On the whole, this seems the best solution of the difficulty. After Epiphanes had destroyed the "mighty," that is to say, the political enemies he had, the Egyptians, etc; he directed his mind the "people of the saints."
And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand. The versions here are at variance with each other and. with the Massoretic recension. The LXX. renders, "And against the saints shall his purpose be"—evidently reading, as suggested by Gratz, v‛al qedosheem siklo—"and craft shall prosper in his hands, and his heart shall be lifted up, and by treachery he shall destroy many, and for the destruction of men shall he stand, and he shall make a gathering of power, and shall sell (it)." Theodotion is, in regard to the first clause, considerably more at variance with the Massorctic, "And the yoke of his collar (or chain) shall prosper." Evidently Theodotion had read עֹל (‛ol), "yoke," instead of עַל (‛al), "upon," and probably סִבְלוֹ (sib'lo), "his burden," instead of שִׂכְלוֹ (sik'lo), "his thought." "And in his heart he shall be magnified, and by treachery shall he corrupt many. and for the destruction of many. shall he stand, and as eggs shall he crush (them) in his hand," reading kebaytzeem beyad yishbar instead of be'eseph yad yishahabayr. The Peshitta has several points of peculiarity, "And in his might he shall prosper: he shall restrain with his hand, and his heart shall be lifted up, and by treachery shall he corrupt many. and against the Ruler of rulers shall he rise up, and with grasp of the hand shall be taken." Even Jerome,. who is usually in close agreement with the Massoretic text, translates at variance with their pointing. He begins this verse really with the last clause of the previous one, "And he shall slay strong ones and the people of the saints according to his will, and treachery shall be directed in his hand, and in plenty of all things he shall slay many, and against the Prince of princes shall he rise, and without hand shall be broken." The most singular thing is the omission by both the Greek versions of the phrase sar sareem, which both appear to have read yishhat rabbeem a variation of reading difficult to understand. On the whole, these varying versions seem to have sprung from a text originally not differing much from the Massoretic, save in the opening clause, in which the Septuagint appears to suit the succession of thought better. The return of Antiochus from his expedition to Egypt was the signal for his persecution of the saints; then his "purpose, was against the holy people." Craft shall prosper in his hand. The account we have in the First Book of the Maccabees shows the perpetual exercise by Antiochus and those under him of treachery. At first, at all events, his craft prospered (1 Macc. 1:30). And he shall magnify himself in his heart. Bevan thinks this hardly accurate, as the hiphil is ordinarily causative. Only Zephaniah 2:8 has this verb used in hiphil as reflexive. The sense, however, seems to be, not that he shall become proud, but that he has many great projects in his mind one (1 Macc. 1:42) being to unify all the various peoples that were under his sceptre, so that they should be one in religion and law. He further had the design of conquering Egypt and uniting it to his empire, and would have done so had the Romans not intervened. And by peace shall destroy many. The word translated "peace" means also "suddenly." The Greek versions both render it by δόλῳ. Schleusner suggests that the word was derived from another root. There dues not seem such a root in Levy. The probability is that the meaning passed from "tranquillity" to the notion of "treachery." The meaning assigned to the word by Jerome is inexplicable, copia rerum. It happens that both the meaning attached to the word shalvah by the Greek versions here, and that found in other passages, harmonize. The treachery of the chief collector of tribute lay in feigning peace, and then slaying the people (1 Macc. 1:29). He shall also stand up against the Prince of princes. The Greek versions, as above observed, have instead of this, ἐπὶ ἀπωλείας ἀνδρῶν στήσεται—a phrase that might be a rendering of לשחת רבבים. The Massoretic text here seems the preferable. Antiochus had certainly risen up against God, the "Prince of princes," or, as the Peshitta renders, "Ruler of rulers." He shall be broken without hand. The fact of Antiochus dying immediately after an ineffectual attempt to rob a temple in Elymais, and dying, not from the effect of wounds received, but from chagrin, is symbolized by this statement. The figure of a horn pushing in this direction and in that is resumed; hence Epiphanes is said to be broken. And that he was not overthrown in battle by any rival for the crown is shown by the statement that it was without hands that he was so broken. The Romans resisted his attempt to take possession of Egypt, so he was baulked in his pursuit after one object. He desired to unite his whole multifarious empire, so that it should be homogeneous; that was baulked by the victorious revolt of the Jews under Judas Maccabaeus. If he could have made his empire homogeneous, he might have expected to be able to defy the Romans. The defeat of his army by Judas might easily be remedied if he had money to pay his troops, so he attempted the plunder of the temple in Elymais, said to be that of Artemis. The inhabitants resisted so vehemently, that he had to retire baffled. This it was that caused his death. Polybius hints at madness inflicted by a Divine hand.
And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days. The rendering of the LXX. here is, "The vision of the evening and morning was found true, and tile vision has been secured for many days." אֲשַׁר נֶאֶמֲר (asher ne‛emar) has been read נמצא על, although it is difficult to see the genesis of such a reading from the Massoretic , or vice versa. The LXX. rendering of סתם ought to be observed—not "shut up," in the sense of being "sealed," but "defended from interference by being secured as with a hedge." Theodotion and the Peshitta agree with the Massoretic text, but have חתם, construct of סתם. The vision of the evening and the morning refers to Daniel 8:14. The phrase used. here differs by the insertion of the definite article: but this merely intimates a reference. This statement does not mean that the period indicated by the two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings would end with the death of Antiochus. Certainly, his death occurred in the year following the cleansing of the temple (1 Macc. 6:16). If the writer reckons the beginning of the year according to the Macedonian Calendar, almost a year must have elapsed between the temple-cleansing and the death of Antiochus; but it is the cleansing that is the terminus ad quem, not the death of Antiochus. The pollution of the temple was the event that, of all others, would be trying to the faith and patience of Jewish believers; therefore attention is directed to this. As the beginning of this season of trial is the point to which the whole history of the Greek Empire travels, so the termination of this desecration is the end contemplated. Shut thou up the vision. Certainly the verb satham means sometimes "to hide;" and it is also certain that it is a characteristic of apocalyptic literature to contain, in the text, elaborate directions fur hiding the vision; e.g. the Apocalypse of Moses. It has been argued that this is a preparation for the publication of Daniel in the age of the Maccabees, so long after the date at which it purports to be written. But there is no description of how the book is to be hidden, as in the Assumption of Moses. Moreover, the translators of the LXX. did not understand satham as "hide." If it had been hidden, and had been discovered, he would have known and translated accordingly. Then when we turn to the next verse, we find that Daniel himself did not understand the command as meaning that he was to keep the vision secret from his contemporaries; so far from that being the case, one at' his reasons for distress is that no one understood the vision. The vision shall be far many days. That is to say, that a long interval divided the time when the revelation was made from the time of its fulfilment (Ezekiel 12:27); the vision he sees is for many days to come. Before the beginning of the history revealed to Daniel, certainly not many years intervened; but between the days of Belshazzar and those of Antiochus was an interval of approximately four centuries. The Persian Empire rose and fell, and the Macedonian Empire rose and was approaching its fall. At the end of the period, the light of the vision fell most clearly. It was not necessary that Daniel should know the events portrayed to foretell them truly, any more than it was needful that the Second Isaiah should know the exact historical events portrayed so clearly in his fifty-third chapter. Daniel could not fail to know of Persia, and it even did not require more than a knowledge of the past, and ordinary powers of political forecast, to see that Cyrus might, and probably would, found a world-empire. He knew of the Greeks: there were Greeks in the army of Nebuchadnezzar. Moreover, we learn from Herodotus (1.77) that Nabu-nahid Labynetus had made an alliance with Croesus, in order to check the advance of Cyrus. We know from Herodotus (1:26, 27) that Croesus subdued all the Greek cities in Asia Minor. To Daniel, who possibly had favoured this alliance with the Western monarch, the King of Javan would mean, not Alexander the Great, as it means to us, but Croesus. But his hopes that Babylon will be delivered by the help of Croesus are shown to be groundless, by the intimation that it will be "for many days." The intimation that he had made to Belshazzar, of the interpretation of the inscription on the palace wall, did not necessarily, in his mind, militate against the hope that repentance might lead to respite. Daniel may have made use of political expedients to help in the result he wished.
And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king's business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it. The Septuagint omits "fainted," but otherwise agrees with the above. Theodotion evidently has lind the Massoretic text before him; but he has not understood, and has slavishly rendered it word for word. The Peshitta represents also a text practically identical with that of the Massoretes. Jerome also agrees with the received text; he renders the last clause, non erat qui interpretaretur. That Daniel should faint, and remain sick for days—"many days," says the LXX.—is quite in accordance with what we might imagine to be the natural effect of intercourse with the spiritual world. The mental strain and the intense excitement incident upon such an occurrence would necessarily produce a reaction. Afterward I rose up, and did the king's business. We have no distinct evidence of what the business was that took Daniel to Susa, if he was there in reality, and not merely in vision; but we may surmise that it was about the advance of Cyrus Elam and Media were both embraced in the dominion of Cyrus very early. Cyrus had overthrown the Umman-Manda, and delivered Babylon. At that time there seems to have been somewhat of a rapprochement between Nabu-nahid and Cyrus; but at the time before us, Cyrus must have begun to realize his destiny, and possibly would not be easy to on. at with. Daniel may have been plenipotentiary of Babylon at the court of Cyrus, endeavouring to secure a treaty. At the same time, aware that Croesus, the rival of Cyrus, might be called in, he continues the negotiation. I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it. The idea of the word translated "astonished" is "benumbed;" it may be exegetic of the first clause, explaining the cause of the fainting and subsequent sickness. It is clear that Daniel did not regard the command "to guard סתם (satham) the vision" as implying that he should keep it secret. We see, as we said above, that his complaint is that no one understood the vision. Behrmann maintains that מֵבִין (maybeen), "to understand," ought to be translated "marked," "observed," but יָדַע would be the natural verb to use in such a connection, not בַין. Hitzig explains this by saying, "He had imparted the vision to no one." If Daniel had indulged in statements of float kind, the word before us would not have inaugurated a new form of literature. Professor Bevan's interpretation is as farfetched, "And I was no understander thereof." The example he brings forward of verse 5 is not to the purpose, because the distinction between the first person and the third is too great. Moses Stuart has the same view.
The triumph of evil.
I. THE DARK SIDE OF THE TRIUMPH OF EVIL. Evil is sometimes not only powerful, but ascendant and dominant, apparently sweeping all before it.
1. Evil is destructive. Kingdoms under the sway of evil become mutually destructive. The successive visions of the world-empires represent them with increasingly destructive characteristics. The first brings before us a monstrous image of incongruous elements, but with a certain unity and peaceful relation of parts (Daniel 2:1-49.). The second shows us a series of ravenous beasts, which, however, are not represented as all fighting one with another (Daniel 7:1-28.). The third introduces us to animals, by nature peaceful, in fierce mutually destructive conflict. Thus as the knowledge of the evil kingdoms grows, they are seen to be more destructive, even in their most peaceful relations. The more we see of evil the more shall we feel its essentially destructive character (James 1:15).
2. The world without God deteriorates. These kingdoms get worse and worse. The moral progress of mankind is dependent on our relation to God—on our submission to his redemptive and educational influence. When these are discarded, morality declines.
3. When evil triumphs in the state, the exercise of religious ordinances is endangered (Daniel 8:11). Persecution usually has a moral cause. The protest of pure public worship is regarded as a danger to the sway of wickedness.
4. Evil is inimical to truth, and when it triumphs truth suffers. Evil is darkness; it is essentially a lie (John 8:44). Truth is a protest against evil, therefore evil "casts truth to the ground" (Daniel 8:12; see 2 Thessalonians 2:11).
5. Evil gains power from its prosperity. It "practices and prospers." When it flourishes it puts on an imposing appearance and grows by popularity. Thus the more it prospers the more it tends to prosper.
II. THE LIGHT SIDE OF THE TRIUMPH OF EVIL. I. It is fores, on and predicted. Therefore it should not surprise us. It was foreknown by God from the Creation. It was known when the promises of Divine blessing were given. All the plans of Providence were made in view of it. Yet they are bright and hopeful (Romans 8:19-23).
2. It is converted into a chastisement for sin and a means of purifying those who suffer by it. Though wicked men may only intend harm to God's people, the wrong they do may be the means of the highest good.
3. Its duration is limited. A period is named for the termination of its sway (Daniel 8:13, Daniel 8:14). Evil is but for a time, and this is short compared with eternity. God holds power over it and fixes its limitations.
4. Ultimately evil shall be entirely cast out. Then the triumph of goodness will be the greater by its contrast with the sway of evil. The glory of Christ in redeeming from sin and restoring the world to God is only possible after evil has had an opportunity of asserting its power (2 Thessalonians 2:7, 2 Thessalonians 2:8).
We have here a description of a terrible evil power which, in manner and appearance, is deceptively harmless, and yet which is really most destructive and wicked and destined to detection and overthrow.
I. EVIL WORKS MOST EFFECTIVELY WHEN IT HIDES ITS TRUE CHARACTER.
1. It works under a fair show. The king has "an insolent countenance" and "magnifies himself in his heart." There is a bold self-assertion and an apparent frankness which sometimes blind men to the falsehood beneath.
2. It works by craft, as much as by force. The king "understands dark stratagems" and "craft prospers under his band." The tempter is more successful when he appears as the subtle serpent than when he comes as a raging lion. Transformed into an angel of light, he persuades by deceit. Intellect is a more dangerous weapon in the hands of a bad man than mere brute force.
3. It turns peaceful prosperity into a means of harm. Warfare and persecution are less dangerous than the insidious temptations of luxurious vices and flattering indolence.
II. THOUGH EVIL MAY BE OBSCURE TO US, ITS CHARACTER AND DESTINY ARE NOT CHANGED.
1. It is still destructive. This crafty and peace-loving king is really as destructive as the old warlike monarch. Sin is not the less fated because it wears a fair mask.
2. It is still only the abuse of Divine gifts. The king is mighty, "but not by his own power." All sin is only possible by the abuse of talents lent us by God. The boldness of self-assertion is no proof of independence and liberty to pursue our own course.
3. It is still defiance of the will of God. "He shall stand up against the Prince of princes." We may rebel against God with a smile as much as with a frown. Guilt is not measured by manners, but by motives. Crafty treachery is not less guilty than open rebellion.
4. It is still destined to judgment and overthrow. We may deceive men; we cannot deceive God (Romans 2:16). God also "understands the dark stratagems" of subtle wickedness. They will be detected and defeated. The punishment of sins of subtlety and craft is as certain as that of sins of open and confessed guilt.
HOMILIES BY H.T. ROBJOHNS
Daniel 8:2, Daniel 8:13, Daniel 8:15
Modes of supersensual vision.
"I saw in a vision" (Daniel 8:2); "Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint" (Daniel 8:13); "Behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man" (Daniel 8:15). Of the next vision, the time should be noted—two years after the last, Belshazzar still living; and the place, viz. Shushan. Daniel seems not to have been there in reality, but only in vision. So Ezekiel from Babylon was "brought in the visions of God to Jerusalem." This vision concerned the overthrow of Persia, and so the prophet was placed at the centre of the empire, whence he might see the desolation coming. This vision develops dramatically:
1. We have symbols. (Verses 1-12.) Then:
2. Answering voices. (Verses 13, 14.)
3. Communication from God through Gabriel. (Verses 15-27.) This may suggest discourse on some modes of coming to the vision of supersensual truth. By—
I. CONTEMPLATING PICTURES IN THE WORLD OF SENSE. Daniel was brought first into contact with symbol—picture of power and action, the ram, the goat; destruction of the ram; certain transformations of the goat. So man's first lesson now comes through the sense-pictures of the world. This depends, as a fact, on the truth that the world is one transparency, through which is ever shining supersensual truth. Behind all phenomena of space and time lie luminous eternal truths. Consider how much we can see in and learn from:
1. Our present home of the material world
2. The life-forms with which it is crowded.
3. Common employment.
4. Social relations. How much of spiritual truth may be seen, e.g; in paternity, the family, civil constitution, law, etc.!
5. Our training through the successive incidents of life.
II. LISTENING TO ANSWERING VOICES. "Then I heard one saint," etc. (verse 13). Here we pass to a higher realm than that of sense-pictures, into the arena of pure intelligence. An angel-voice addressed Daniel, or was about to address him, when another, interrupting, requested the first angel to afford Daniel definite information on certain points; which he did. We may learn much:
1. From the colloquy of the angels. True, we cannot hear this; but much of angel-discourse is recorded in the book. Think of Stier's 'Words of the Angels.'
2. From the controversies of the Church. Present and past. What have they been but contentions, out of which truth has come with a clearer definition and more resplendent aspect'?
3. From the assaults of unbelief. The indebtedness of the Church to disbelief, misbelief, and non-belief can never be accurately reckoned. Scepticism often has:
(1) Stripped the Church of untenable positions.
(2) Driven her back on deeper foundations.
(3) Corrected the interpretation of supersensual truth.
We may go a step further:
4. From the continuities of infidelities among themselves.
III. DEVOUT ATTENTION TO MAN INFORMED BY GOD. (Verse 15.) Daniel looking on the vision, behold, the apparition of a man! Gabriel—the man (the vir. not the homo) of God. To Gabriel a voice—not that of the genius of the river Ulai, but of God. Here we have intimated another way in which supersensual truth may be uncovered to man; i.e. by man, but by man informed by God. We use the word "informed" in two senses:
(1) in the grand old sense—the form filled out with spirit and power;
(2) in the more modern sense, of being instructed simply. The name "Gabriel," equivalent to "Vir Dei," suggests that revelation may come:
1. Through manhood. Through man at his highest, noblest, best. Through holiness unfallen, as in the case of Gabriel. Or through holiness restored, as in the case of a man. Through power, virility, genius sanctified.
2. Vitalized by God. Filled with God.
3. Spoken to by God. (Verse 16.) Note: The Divine voice has a human tone in it. We may take, as examples of this mode of revelation, the case of the text, Gabriel; any real prophet; Christ, the Divine Man; the true preacher of modern times. The first effect of Divine revelation, as with Daniel, may be consternation (verse 17); but that effect may be relieved and softened by sympathy (verse 18): "but he touched me." Think of Christ's healing touch.—R.
Daniel 8:3-8, Daniel 8:20-22
"The ram which thou sawest," etc. (Daniel 8:20, Daniel 8:21). The only way in which the substance of the vision can be legitimately treated seems to us the expository. But be it remembered that the exposition of a chapter like this is really an explication of the gradual unfolding of a part of the history of the kingdom of God antecedent to the Incarnation. We set up here simply directing-posts to mark the way. Note particularly the partial character of this vision—it is not now of the four world-empires and of the everlasting kingdom, but only of two—Persia, Greece—and the development of Greece. And mark, the symbols are authoritatively interpreted (Daniel 8:21, Daniel 8:22). Here we have a key wherewith to unlock the secrets of the rest of the book.
I. PERSIA. In the symbol we have:
1. Its unity. "A ram."
2. Its duality "Two horns." Media and Persia.
3. Its inequality. One horn the higher; and came up last.
4. The direction of its aggression. (Daniel 8:4.) Babylon; Lydia; Egypt.
5. Its temporary irresistibility. (Daniel 8:4.)
6. Complete overthrow. (Daniel 8:7.) Compare throughout with the bear of Daniel 7:1-28.
II. GREECE. Here should be opened out:
1. The fitness of the goat as a symbol; e.g. Greece abounded in goats; several municipalities adopted it as a symbol, and struck its image on their coins, etc. See detailed Expositions.
2. Its ubiquity. "On the face of the whole earth."
3. Celerity. "Touched not the ground."
4. The concentration of its genius. "A notable horn." Alexander (Daniel 7:21).
5. Its victory.
(1) The conflict was within the Persian lines. "Close unto the ram."
(2) The attack made with the concentrated wrath of Greece. "Moved with choler." The provocation was the successive Persian invasions.
6. Its subsequent growth.
7. Sudden break-down.
III. GREECE DIVINED.
1. Into four. Greece; Asia Minor; Syria; Egypt.
2. At the zenith of power; i.e. under Alexander (Daniel 7:8).
3. With instant collapse. (Daniel 7:22.) "Not in his power."—R.
Daniel 8:9-12, Daniel 8:23-25
The scourge of Israel.
"He shall stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand" (Daniel 8:25). As in the previous homily, we give a mere directive outline, for the help of those who may care to make the antichrist of the later Hebrew time the subject of treatment. The sketch given by the prophet undoubtedly applies to Antiochus Epiphanes. The only question has been raised by those who wish to throw discredit on the supernatural in prophecy, and who, struck by the marvellous minuteness of Daniel's description, have tried to show that it must have been written after the event, and therefore not by Daniel at all. Observe:
1. The general description. Out of one of the four kingdoms into which Alexander's empire was divided, came forth a new kingdom—at least a new king, with special characteristics, and with special antagonistic relations to the kingdom of God.
2. The notes of time—very remarkable. The date of the rise of Antiochus is given. "In the latter time" of the dominion of the four kingdoms "a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up." These kingdoms were gradually absorbed into the Roman empire, but may be considered to have commenced with the defeat of Perseus at the battle of Pydna, b.c. 168. Another note: "When the transgressions are come to the full." We understand that to be said of the state of thing,s in Judaea. There affairs were in a frightful state. We can imagine the condition when men fought for the high priesthood, and obtained it often by bribery or murder. "The sacred writers often speak of iniquity as being full—of the cup of iniquity as being full—as if there was a certain limit or capacity beyond which it could not be allowed to go. When that arrives, God interferes, and cuts off the guilty by some heavy judgment." Such a state of things existed at Jerusalem, when Antiochus ascended the throne of Syria.
I. HIS CHARACTER was marked by:
1. Shameless audacity. "Of fierce countenance;" i.e. "hardy of countenance" (verse 23). Destitute of shame. Most conquerors respected the religion of the conquered; this man forced on the Jews his own.
2. Deceitful subtlety. Master of deceitful wiles. "Understanding dark sentences" (verse 23).
3. Power. But such advantage as he gained against Israel was "not by his own power." By whose .9 By God's. In what sense? The eternal law of righteousness made him its instrument, as against the iniquity of Israel.
4. Practical genius. "He shall practise" (verse 24); i.e. "he shall do;" i.e. the man was to be no mere dreamer. What he professed he would perform.
5. Destructiveness. (Verse 24.) The activity should be malicious.
II. HIS ACTION.
1. He practised deceit. (Verse 25.) "And though … by peace shall destroy many." He would destroy a people resting in an unreal security.
2. He disliked the ecclesiastical rulers in Israel. (Verse 10.) Read, The horn "waxed great against the host," etc.
3. He acted so that the whole Hebrew commonwealth was at his mercy. (Verse 12.) Read, "A host was given [him] with the daily sacrifice, by reason of transgression."
4. He abolished the daily sacrifice. (Verse 11.) Read, "And by him was taken away the perpetual, and was cast down the place of his sanctuary." No doubt the daily sacrifice is principally intended, but there is given to it grandeur by designating it "the perpetual," i.e. the everlasting changeless element in the Hebrew ritual. The undying testimony to the atonement of the Lord (Exodus 29:35-44; Le Exodus 6:13). Against the Redeemer's own memorial did Antiochus lift up his hand. That struck down, the sanctuary was desolate. (See terrible description, 1 Macc. 1. Note the heroic fidelity of some, verses 63, 64.)
5. He struck at the truth. (Verse 12.)
6. He sets himself against God. "He magnified himself against the Prince of the hosts;" "He stood up against the Prince of princes" (verses 11, 25).
7. He attained to a certain sort and measure of prosperity. (Verse 9.) The reference is to Egypt, to what remained of Persia, and to Judaea.
III. THE DOOM. How sublime the prophecy! "He shall be broken without hand." How terrible the fulfilment! He fell by an invisible blow from the King of kings. He died of grief and remorse at Babylon (1Ma Daniel 1:16; 2Ma 9.).—R.
Daniel 8:13, Daniel 8:14, Daniel 8:26
Prophecy's sure fulfilments.
"Unto evenings and mornings, two thousand and three hundred; The vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true" (Daniel 8:14, Daniel 8:26). Two thousand three hundred days, that is, six years and a hundred and ten days. Whence reckoned? To what time? The cleansing of the sanctuary took place under Judas Maccabaeus, December 25, b.c. 165. Reckoning back two thousand three hundred days, we come to August 1, b.c. 171. Up to this latter date the relations between Antiochus and the Jewish people had been peaceful; then began a series of aggressions, which ended only with his death. (For account of the new dedication of the temple, see 1 Macc. 4:36-61.) We suggest a homily on The certainty of the fulfilment of the Divine Word.
I. THE DEFINITENESS OF THE END. Here "the cleansing of the sanctuary."
II.. THE EXACT MEASUREMENT OF ALL INTERMEDIATE SECOND CAUSES. The number, force, combination, duration of their action.
III. CONSEQUENT LIMIT OF TIME. In the Divine mind. Not necessarily revealed to us; though the exact number of the days was so in this case.
IV. OUR MORAL ATTITUDE. Belief in the word. Confidence in the Word-giver. Obedience, active and passive. The entertainment of a great hope. Let the sunshine of the assured future light the present.—R.
The effects of visions Divine.
"And I Daniel fainted," etc. We have here the effects of visions Divine—
I. ON THE BODY. Even the prophets were but men like ourselves. Daniel was utterly prostrated by this overpowering vision. Became ill for a long time. In our present state we can only bear so much.
II. ON THE MIND. "I was astonished at the vision …. Arid there was none who understood it."
1. Fulfilled prophecy is an open book.
2. Unfulfilled, a book only partly open. There should, then, be:
(1) Devout inquiry.
(2) The glad acquisition of some knowledge. But:
(3) No dogmatism.
Even a prophet, who had with his own eyes seen the glory, had to grope along the path of daily duty, with only the common dim and partial light.
III. ON THE LIFE. "I rose up, and did the king's business." These grand disclosures of things heavenly, of things future, of things Divine, to his soul; the high enjoyments of religion; only disposed him to be more faithful in meeting present obligations. There is no proper separation between deepest spirituality and the faithful plodding on the path of duty, which so much becomes us. "He who has been favoured with the clearest views of Divine things will be none the less prepared to discharge with faithfulness the duties of this life. He who is permitted and enabled to look into the future will be none the less likely to be diligent, faithful, laborious in meeting the responsibilities of the present moment. If a man could see all that there is in heaven, it would only serve to inspire him with a deeper conviction of his obligations in every relation. If he could see all that there is to come in the vast eternity before him, it would only inspire him with a profounder sense of the consequences which may follow from the discharge of the present duty."—R.
HOMILIES BY J.D. DAVIES
The temporary triumph of violence.
The good use of God's revelation leads to the impartation of further and clearer revelation. "To those who have, it shall be given." The former vision had well exercised Daniel's mind; now a more minute vision is vouchsafed. In the improvement of character is piety's reward.
I. GOD'S GOOD GIFTS ARE DESPISED BY THE CARNAL AMBITION OF MEN. Lands, cities, palaces, extensive provinces, all fail to satisfy the man in whose breast vulgar ambition dwells. The possessor of the great kingdom of Persia did not conduct himself as a man, but as a silly ram. He was supreme master of these things; but since he did not extract advantage or enjoyment from them, he could not be said to possess them. His one thought was how to acquire more. Instead of cherishing a grateful disposition that God had given him so much, and afforded him such fine opportunities for useful service, his dominant passion was to dispossess others of their dominion. Nor did the fact afflict his soul, that in the career of violence, much innocent blood would be shed, men would be diverted from occupations of husbandry, and misery would be widely sown. The palace in which vain Ambition hatches her plots is no better than a pest-house. And the monarch who is prodigal with human blood is no other than a murderer. Like Satan, the destroyer, "he also goeth about seeking whom he may devour."
II. MILITARY CONQUESTS SOW DEEPLY THE SEEDS OF DEADLY REVENGE. The arbiter of war settles nothing. The victor to-day is the vanquished to-morrow. The memories of the conquered people hold, with a deathless tenacity, purposes of revenge; and if the conqueror himself does not live to see his military fortune reversed, his successors feel the blow with accumulated fury. The ram, with his two unequal horns, pushed westward, northward, and southward, and for a moment was accounted great. But ere tong the goat with one strong horn assailed him with uncontrollable rage, smote him to the ground, and trod him underfoot. The arm of muscular strength soon decays. If a monarch has nothing better to depend upon than an arm of flesh, his glory will soon fade. It is surprising how that, generation after generation, monarchs still rely upon human battalions rather than on the living God. So ingrained in their imperial nature is ambitions pride, that they need to be bruised and pulverized in a mortar before the pride can be extracted.
III. THE MILITARY POWER OF A KINGDOM IS EASILY BROKEN. Very significantly is it said respecting this he-goat, that "when he was strong, the great horn was broken." Alexander, surnamed by flatterers "the Great," was to the kingdom of Macedon merely a horn—a weapon of offence. Can there be a more humiliating statement? If God has given to the inferior animals natural horns, they are intended to serve as defensive weapons. If the animal has any native sagacity, it will reserve its horns for fitting occasions of danger; for if it should rush into needless hostilities, its horns may be broken, and in the hour of peril the animal will become a helpless prey. How often does God snap the horn of human power in the hour of boastful triumph! Herod was drinking the sweet potion of profane flattery, when an angel smote him, and he was eaten up of worms. Nebuchadnezzar was feasting on the pride of his great success, when his reason forsook him, and he was degraded to a place among the cattle. Alexander sat down to weep, because there seemed no further scope for his ambition; but God's shaft of disease pierced him, and left him a corpse.
IV. TRANSIENT SUCCESS MAKES MONARCHS INSOLENT AND PROFANE. If God takes away, he also gives. Where the one strong horn had been broken off, four other horns came up instead. The vital energy which could produce this is the direct gift of God. Whoever is meant by this "little horn," he ought to have learnt, as the very first lesson of his life, that he had been raised up by God to replace one who had been removed by death, But instead of learning lessons of humility and pious trust from the patent scenes of human mortality, men, for the most part, become more presumptuous and profane. No outward events permanently impress the soul. Nothing but the mysterious grace of God can soften and purify man's heart. This "little horn" ventures to assail the very stars of heaven. As high as the stars are above the earth—as bright and as useful—so are God's saints compared with earthly and sensual men. Against these this proud ruler arrays his hostile forces—yea against the Prince of heaven. He corrupts the priesthood, defiles God's sanctuary, interrupts the daily sacrifice. This is a sin of sins—a crime of blackest dye. Herein we see what is the natural effect of military conquest upon the victor himself. It hardens the feelings, stupefies the conscience, makes the man a demon, and hurries him along to the brink of self-destruction.
V. PRESENT TRIUMPHS OVER THE RIGHTEOUS ARE DIVINELY PERMITTED, IN' ORDER TO SECURE HIGHER GOOD. Although the leaders among the Jews were vastly superior to the invading hordes of Antiochus—superior in virtue and morality—nevertheless they were far from perfect. A strange intermingling of good and evil—of light and darkness—appeared in their nature. So great was God's regard for his chosen peep]e, that he made adversity to serve as moral medicine. Military disaster may serve as moral triumph. The armies of proud monarchs God used as his instruments of chastisement. The wicked are his hand—his sword. The victorious army usually boasts that, by their own might, they have conquered. They can see no other result or end than their own fame. But God sees other and remoter results. In this case it was not simply because Syria's army was mightier than the Jewish force, that the former triumphed, and made the daily sacrifice to cease. The real cause was that transgression was found in Israel; and if God's remedy was severe, it was not more severe than needful. Israel was smitten before the Canaanites, because a spirit el mercenary selfishness was found in Achan. The cause of righteousness may be arrested, impeded, dishonoured, if some flagrant sin be found in its leaders. The kingdom of righteousness can only be advanced by righteous methods. It is true that God bad promised to shield his people Israel from their foes, but there was a condition, tacit or expressed, viz. that they should honour his commands. An army is defeated; the temple desecrated; access to God interrupted; because transgression was found in Israel.—D.
The place of angelic ministration.
Angels appear upon Daniel's visionary scene, and indicate the manifold services they discharge for men. In all probability they have individual and special qualifications for different kinds of service. The utmost variety of gift is consistent with wisdom, happiness, and purity.
I. OBSERVE THEIR HOLY CHARACTER. They are denominated "saints," i.e. "holy ones." Our Lord distinctly styles them by this epithet, "the holy angels." They are capable of sin; have been exposed to temptation; and yet have preserved their original purity. This is their high distinction, their crown of excellence. So far they are models for our imitation.
II. THEIR PREVAILING DISPOSITION. They are not absorbed in thinking ant planning about themselves. The very reverse. Their chief concern is the honour and majesty of God—about the well-being of man. They are represented as inquiring of each other respecting the cessation of symbolic sacrifice, the desolations of God's temple, and the unhappy prospects of mankind. Into the great problems of atonement and redemption "the angels desire to look." So absorbed are their minds in these momentous themes, that all time appears to them but as a season of atonement. "Days" are described as "evening-morning." They are the subjects of hope, even as are men; and they encourage the faith of the godly by announcing the brevity of the disaster. It stirs their joy to anticipate the termination of the transient eclipse, and to see beforehand the brightness of Messiah's reign.
III. THEIR SUBMISSION TO THE GOD-MAN. The Son of God is Lord of angels, as well as Lord of saints. Without doubt this was a pre-incarnate visit of Christ to our earth. Daniel was staggered by the vision, and stood in an attitude of reverent inquiry. He was knocking at the gate of truth, and lo! Incarnate Truth himself stood before him. To his rapt vision there was "the appearance of a man." His organ of hearing caught the sounds of a human voice. Yet this voice was not addressed directly to Daniel Gabriel was summoned to intervene as mediator and instructor. Immediately Gabriel undertakes the office, and proceeds to instruct the trembling prophet. The obedience of angels is prompt, hearty, and complete.
IV. THE SUPERIORITY IN KNOWLEDGE OF ANGELS TO MEN. They are said in the Book of Psalms to "excel in strength." We know that they excel in purity; here we learn that they excel also in wisdom and knowledge. Without doubt, they have clearer and larger vision of the kingdom of God, as it extends through the entire universe. As man possesses, through God's goodness, a gift of memory; so it is possible theft the unfallen angels are endowed with a measure of foreknowledge. In this case Gabriel certainly knew the precise import of the vision, end knew the order of events which were about to occur in the Eastern empires. Such prescience may be an assistance to their loyal service; it would be mainly a hindrance in the discharge of human duty. But the case of Daniel was exceptional. So much of humility and patient trust had he that he would not run counter to the revealed will of God. This was a manifest reward of his piety, and was a banquet of peace for his soul. A large accession was made to his knowledge through the friendly interest of Gabriel.
V. THEIR DESIRE THAT MEN, LIKE ANGELS, SHOULD DO ALL THE WILL OF GOD. Having certified to the veracity of the vision and to the certainty of approaching events, Gabriel enjoins Daniel to fulfil his part, viz. to seal up the vision. For the present it must be concealed from the common eye, and be carefully preserved for the future confirmation of human faith. To many men there would be a subtle temptation to publish abroad what they knew touching the march of events. This would serve to swell their self-importance. But Daniel was a wiser man. Fully to obey his God was his first principle in creed and life. To disclose these things prematurely might have injured the existing prospects of the captive Hebrews—might, in some measure, have turned the history of the world into another channel. To wait is at times as plain a duty as to act Patiently to endure is one of the most heroic virtues the world has seen.—D.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Daniel 8". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter