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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Daniel 11

 

 

Verse 1

Daniel 11:1. Also I, in the first year of Darius, &c. — This verse should have been joined to the last chapter. The meaning of what the angel here says is, that from the time that Daniel addressed those ardent prayers to God about the affairs of his people, mentioned chap. 9., which was in the first year of Darius, from that very time HE (namely, the angel Gabriel) had strenuously co-operated with Michael, in working the deliverance of the Jewish nation. See here again the vast efficacy and power of prayer; it engages God and angels to our assistance.


Verse 2

Daniel 11:2. And now I will show thee the truth — Now I will show thee future things plainly, not enigmatically, or under symbolical representations. Here this chapter should begin: what goes before should be added to the former chapter. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia — “According to the Canon, there were nine kings of the Persian empire from Cyrus to Codomanus, besides others, who, falling within a year, are not therein mentioned. Interpreters have differed, therefore, in pointing out the kings that are here meant, or in fixing the commencement of the Scripture, or writing, of truth, mentioned Daniel 10:21. But as the vision was revealed to Daniel in the third year of Cyrus, it is most natural to trace its beginning from that time; and then the three kings yet to stand up, or after the then reigning monarch, will be Cambyses, or the Ahasuerus, and Smerdis, or the Artaxerxes, of Ezra 4:6-7, and Darius Hystaspes; the second of whom, being a magian usurper, that reigned scarce eight months, according to Herodotus, is not in the Canon.” — Wintle. And the fourth shall be far richer than they all — That is, Xerxes, the son and successor of Hystaspes, who had inherited great riches from his father, according to Æschylus, and had amassed much more. Of him Justin truly remarks, “If you consider this king, you may praise his riches, not the general; of which there was so great abundance in his kingdom, that when rivers were dried up by his army, yet his wealth remained unexhausted.” Pythius, the Lydian, (according to Herodotus, book 7. sec. 27,) was at that time the richest subject in the world. He generously entertained Xerxes and all his army, and proffered him two thousand talents of silver, and three millions nine hundred and ninety-three thousand pieces of gold, with the stamp of Darius, toward defraying the charges of the war. But Xerxes was so far from wanting supplies, that he rewarded Pythius for his liberality, and presented him with seven thousand darics, to make up his number a complete round sum of four millions. Each of these darics was worth better than a guinea of our money. Many great and rich provinces, as India, Thrace, Macedonia, and the islands of the Ionian sea, were added by Darius to the Persian empire. And by his strength he shall stir up all — Both subjects and allies; against the realm of Grecia — “Xerxes’s expedition into Greece is one of the most memorable adventures in ancient history. Herodotus (book 7. sec. 20, 21) affirms, that Xerxes, in raising his army, searched every place of the continent, and it was the greatest army that ever was brought into the field; for what nation was there, says he, that Xerxes led not out of Asia into Greece? Herodotus lived in that age; and he, in the fore-mentioned place, recounts with great exactness the various nations of which Xerxes’s army was composed, and computes that the whole number of horse and foot, by land and sea, out of Asia and Europe, soldiers and followers of the camp, amounted to five millions two hundred and eighty-three thousand two hundred and twenty men. Nor was Xerxes content with stirring up the East, but was for stirring up the West likewise, (see Diod. Sic., book 11.,) and engaged the Carthaginians in his alliance, that, while he and his army overwhelmed Greece, they might fall upon the Greek colonies in Sicily and Italy: and the Carthaginians, for this purpose, not only raised all the forces they could in Africa, but also hired a great number of mercenaries in Spain, and Gaul, and Italy; so that their army consisted of three hundred thousand men, and their fleet of two hundred ships. Thus did Xerxes stir up all against the realm of Grecia: and after him no mention is here made of any other king of Persia. ‘It is to be noted,’ says Jerome, ‘that the prophet, having enumerated four kings of the Persians after Cyrus, slips over nine, and passes to Alexander; for the prophetic spirit did not care to follow the order of history, but only to touch upon the most famous events.’ Xerxes was the principal author of the long wars and inveterate hatred between the Grecians and Persians; and as he was the last king of Persia who invaded Greece, he is mentioned last. The Grecians then, in their turn, invaded Asia; and Xerxes’s expedition being the most memorable on one side, as Alexander’s was on the other, the reigns of these two are not improperly connected together.” — Bishop Newton.


Verse 3-4

Daniel 11:3-4. And a mighty king shall stand up, &c. — Namely, from among the Grecians; that shall rule with great dominion — This is evidently descriptive of Alexander the Great; of the rapidity and success of whose conquests: See on Daniel 7:6; Daniel 8:5-6. His success was indeed universal, none being able to put a stop to the progress of his victories. So great was his dominion, that he ruled not only over Greece and the whole Persian empire, but likewise added India to his conquests. And that he did according to his will, is a fact too well known to require any particular proof; for none, not even his friends, dared to contradict or oppose him, or if they did, like Clytus and Calisthenes, they paid for it with their lives. And when he shall stand up — When he shall be in the height of his prosperity. Wintle renders it, when he shall be established; his kingdom shall be broken — Alexander died in Babylon, having lived only thirty-two years and eight months, of which he reigned twelve years and eight months. In so short a time did this sun of glory rise and set! And shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven — This is very significantly expressive of the vast empire which Alexander had brought under subjection to himself, being divided at his death among his four chief captains: see note on Daniel 7:6; Daniel 8:8. And not to his posterity — For these, with all his family, were cut off in a few years after his death. “His wife Statira, the daughter of Darius, was murdered out of jealousy by his other wife Roxana; and her body was thrown into a well, and earth cast upon it. His natural brother Aridæus, who succeeded him in the throne by the name of Philip, was, together with his wife Eurydice, killed by the command of Olympias, the mother of Alexander, after he had borne the title of king six years and some months: and not long after Olympias herself was slain in revenge by the soldiers of Cassander. Alexander Ægus, his son by Roxana, in the fourteenth year of his age was privately murdered, together with his mother, in the castle of Amphipolis, by order of Cassander. In the second year after this, Hercules, the other son of Alexander, by Barcine, the widow of Memnon, was also, with his mother, privately murdered by Polysperchon. Such was the miserable end of Alexander’s family! After which the governors assumed, each in his province, the title of king, from which they had abstained as long as any just heir of Alexander was surviving. Thus was Alexander’s kingdom broken and divided, not to his posterity, but it was plucked up even for others.” — Bishop Newton.


Verse 5

Daniel 11:5. And the king of the south, &c. — “Though the kingdom of Alexander was divided into four principal parts, yet only two of them have a place in this prophecy, Egypt and Syria. These two were by far the greatest and most considerable, and at one time were, in a manner, the only remaining kingdoms of the four; the kingdom of Macedon having been conquered by Lysimachus, and annexed to Thrace, and Lysimachus again having been conquered by Seleucus, and the kingdoms of Macedon and Thrace annexed to Syria. These two, likewise, continued distinct kingdoms after the others were swallowed up by the power of the Romans. But there is a more proper and peculiar reason for enlarging on these two particularly; because Judea, lying between them, was sometimes in the possession of the kings of Egypt, and sometimes of the kings of Syria; and it is the purpose of Holy Scripture to interweave only so much of foreign affairs as hath some relation to the Jews; and it is in respect of their situation to Judea, that the kings of Egypt and Syria are called the kings of the south and the north.” — Bishop Newton.

The king of the south shall be strong, and one of his princes — That is, of Alexander’s princes. “There is manifestly either some redundance,” says Bishop Newton, “or some defect in the Hebrew copy, which should be rendered, as it is by the LXX., And the king of the south shall be strong, and one of his princes shall be strong above him.” The king of the south, Ptolemy, son of Lagus, called Soter, that is, saviour, the first king of Egypt, and the first founder of the famous library at Alexandria, was indeed very strong: for his dominion extended over Libya, Cyrene, Palestine, Cyprus, some Grecian islands, and Asiatic provinces. His wealth and strength are celebrated by Theocritus in one of his idyls, and by Appian the historian. But still the king of the north, or Seleucus Nicator, that is, the conqueror, was strong above him: for having annexed, as we have seen, the kingdoms of Macedon and Thrace to the crown of Syria, he had become master of three parts out of four of Alexander’s dominions. All historians agree in representing him, not only as the longest liver, but likewise as the most powerful of all Alexander’s successors. Appian in particular, enumerating the nations which he subdued, affirms that, after Alexander, he possessed the largest part of Asia; for that all was subject to him from Phrygia to the river Indus, and beyond it. He built Seleucia on the Tigris, and many other very considerable cities in India, Scythia, Armenia, and various parts of his wide empire; so that his dominion was indeed a great dominion. He was also, according to Appian, a person of such great strength, that, laying hold on a bull by the horn, he could stop him in his full career: the statuaries, for this reason, made his statue with two bulls’ horns on his head. This prince, “having reigned seven months after the death of Lysimachus, over the kingdoms of Macedon, Thrace, and Syria, was basely murdered; and to him succeeded, in the throne of Syria, Antiochus Soter; and to him his son, Antiochus Theus. At the same time, Ptolemy Philadelphus reigned in Egypt after his father, the first Ptolemy. There were frequent wars between the kings of Egypt and Syria, and particularly between Ptolemy Philadelphus, the second king of Egypt, and Antiochus Theus, the third king of Syria.” See Bishop Newton and Wintle.


Verse 6

Daniel 11:6. And in the end of years — That is, after several years, for these wars lasted long. They shall join themselves together — Shall enter into a league or confederacy with each other. For the king’s daughter of the south, &c. — They agreed to make peace, upon condition that Antiochus Theus should put away his former wife, Laodice, and her two sons, and marry Berenice, the daughter of Ptolemy Philadelphus. Thus she came to the king of the north to make an agreement — For Ptolemy her father brought her to Antiochus Theus, and with her an immense treasure, so that he received the appellation of the dowry-giver. But she shall not retain the power of the arm — That is, her interest and power with Antiochus; for after some time, in a fit of love, he brought back his former wife, Laodice, with her children, to court again. Neither shall he stand, nor his arm — Or seed, for Laodice, fearing the fickle temper of her husband, lest he should recall Berenice, caused him to be poisoned; and neither did his seed by Berenice succeed him in the kingdom; but Laodice contrived to fix her eldest son, Seleucus Callinicus, on the throne of his ancestors. But she shall be given up — For Laodice, not content with poisoning her husband, caused also Berenice to be murdered. And they that brought her — Or, her Egyptian women and attendants, endeavouring to defend her, were many of them slain with her. And he that begat her — Or rather, as it is in the margin, he whom she brought forth; for the son was murdered as well as the mother, by order of Laodice. And he that strengthened her, &c. — Her husband Antiochus, as Jerome conceives; or rather, her father, who died a little before, and was so very fond of her that he took care continually to send her fresh supplies of the water of the Nile, thinking it better for her to drink of that than any other river, as Polybius relates. See Bishop Newton.


Verse 7-8

Daniel 11:7-8. But out of a branch of her roots shall one stand up — One of the same stock, or original, with Berenice, namely, her brother, Ptolemy Euergetes, shall succeed his father in the government of Egypt, and shall revenge his sister’s quarrel, by invading the territories of Seleucus Callinicus, then reigning in Syria with his mother Laodice; and shall deal, or act, against them, and shall prevail — According to Justin and other authors, he prevailed so far, that he made himself master of Syria and Cilicia, and the upper parts beyond Euphrates, and almost all Asia. And shall carry captive, &c. — Jerome relates, out of authors extant in his time, that Ptolemy carried back with him into Egypt vast plunder from all the conquered provinces, upon the whole not less than forty thousand talents of silver, with “precious vessels,” and two thousand five hundred

“images of the gods:” among which were also those which Cambyses, after he had taken Egypt, had carried into Persia. And for thus restoring their gods, after many years, the Egyptians complimented him with the title of Euergetes, or benefactor. “Polybius, lib. v, observes, that he took the city Seleucia, which was kept for some years after by the garrisons of the kings of Egypt; and Justin gives us to understand, that all the fortified cities that had revolted surrendered to him. Archbishop Usher observes, from Josephus against Appian, that after Ptolemy had gained all Syria he came to Jerusalem, and there offered many eucharistic sacrifices to God, and dedicated some presents suitable to his victory. And from hence we may collect a sufficient reason why he obtains a part in the angel’s narrative, as it may in general be observed, that the history of the Jews is interwoven throughout the whole of it.” — Wintle. And he shall continue more years than the king of the north — He outlived Seleucus four or five years, the latter dying in exile of a fall from his horse.


Verse 10

Daniel 11:10. But his sons shall be stirred up — “The sons of Seleucus Callinicus were Seleucus and Antiochus, the elder of whom, Seleucus, succeeded him in the throne, and, to distinguish him from others of the same name, was denominated Ceraunus, or the thunderer. He was indeed stirred up, and assembled a multitude of great forces, in order to recover his father’s dominions: but, being destitute of money, and unable to keep his army in obedience, he was poisoned by two of his generals, after an inglorious reign of two or three years. Upon his decease, his brother, Antiochus the Great, was proclaimed king. The angel’s expression is very remarkable, that his sons should be stirred up, &c.; but then the number is changed, and only ONE (he says) shall certainly come and overflow, &c. — Accordingly Antiochus came with a great army, retook Seleucia, and, by the means of Theodotus the Ætolian, recovered Syria. Then, after a truce, wherein both sides treated of peace, but prepared for war, Antiochus returned, and overcame in battle Nicolaus the Egyptian general, and had thought of invading Egypt itself.” He was stirred up even to his fortress — He made an attack on Raphia, a strong fortified town near the borders of Egypt.


Verse 11

Daniel 11:11. And the king of the south shall be moved with choler — The LXX. render it αγριανθησεται, shall be made wild, or frantic; namely, at the successes of Antiochus, and the revolt of his friends. This is spoken of Ptolemy Philopater, who was king of Egypt at that time, being advanced to the crown upon the death of his father Euergetes, not long after Antiochus the Great succeeded his brother on the throne of Syria. This Ptolemy was a most luxurious and vicious prince, but was nevertheless thus roused at length by the near approach of danger. And shall come forth and fight with him — He marched out of Egypt with a numerous army to oppose the enemy, and encamped not far from Raphia, which is the nearest town to Egypt from Rhinocorura. Thither likewise came Antiochus with his army, and a memorable battle was fought there between the two kings. And he — Namely, Antiochus; set forth a great multitude — Polybius hath recited the various nations of which his army was composed, and altogether it amounted to sixty-two thousand foot, six thousand horse, and a hundred and two elephants. But yet this multitude was given into his hand — That is, into the hand of Ptolemy, who obtained a complete victory. His forces, however, were still greater than those of Antiochus, namely, seventy thousand foot, five thousand horse, and seventy-three elephants. Of Antiochus’s army there were slain not much fewer than ten thousand foot, more than three hundred horse, and above four thousand men were taken prisoners; whereas of Ptolemy’s there were killed only one thousand five hundred foot and seven hundred horse. The author of the third book of the Maccabees ascribes this victory to the passionate importunity of Arsinoe, Ptolemy’s sister, who ran about the army with her hair about her shoulders, and, by promises and entreaties, engaged the soldiers to fight with more than ordinary resolution. Upon this defeat, Raphia and the neighbouring towns contended who should be the most forward to submit to the conqueror; and Antiochus was forced to retreat with his shattered army to Antioch, and from thence sent ambassadors to solicit a peace.


Verse 12

Daniel 11:12. When he hath taken away the multitude, his heart shall be lifted up — This is a description of the effect which this victory would have on Ptolemy, namely, to puff him up with pride and insolence: and so we are informed it did; for being freed by it from his fears, he now more freely indulged his lusts; and, after a few menaces and complaints, he granted peace to Antiochus, that he might be more at liberty to gratify his appetites and passions. He had before murdered his father, his mother, and his brother; and now he killed his wife, who was also his sister, and gave himself up entirely to the management of Agathoclea his harlot, and her brother, Agathocles, who was his catamite, and their equally vicious mother Oenanthe: and so, forgetful of the greatness of his name and majesty, he consumed his days in feasting, and his nights in lewdness, and became not only the spectator, but the master and leader of all wickedness. Alas! what availed it to have conquered his enemies, when he was thus overcome by his vices; he was so far from being strengthened by it, that even his own subjects, offended at his inglorious peace, and more inglorious life, rebelled against him.

After the retreat of Antiochus, Ptolemy visited the cities of Cœlosyria and Palestine, which had submitted to him; and, among others, in his progress, he came to Jerusalem, “where he took a view of the temple, and even offered sacrifices, &c., to the God of Israel. But, not being satisfied with viewing it only from the outer court, beyond which no Gentile was allowed to pass, he showed a great inclination to enter the sanctuary, and even the holy of holies itself. This occasioned a great uproar all over the city; the high-priest informed him of the holiness of the place, and the express law of God, by which he was forbid to enter it. But every sort of opposition only served to inflame his curiosity; he forced in as far as the second court, where, while he was preparing to enter the temple itself, he was struck by God with such terror, that he was carried off half dead. On this he left the city, highly exasperated against the whole Jewish nation, and loudly threatening future vengeance.” At his return, therefore, to Alexandria, he began a cruel persecution against the Jewish inhabitants of that city, and cast down many ten thousands; for it appears from Eusebius, that, about this time, forty thousand Jews, or, according to Jerome, sixty thousand, were slain. The loss of so many of his Jewish subjects, and the rebellion of the Egyptians, added to the mal-administration of the state, must certainly have very much weakened, and almost totally ruined his kingdom: see Bishop Newton, Wintle, and the Univ. Hist., vol. 9. p. 220.


Verse 13

Daniel 11:13. For the king of the north shall return — It is here foretold that the war should be renewed between the two kings of the north and south, and that it should be begun by the former, who should attempt another invasion of Egypt. This came to pass accordingly, about fourteen years after. For Antiochus, having taken and slain the rebel Achæus, and put an end to the Asiatic war in which he had been engaged, and during which, by his martial exploits against the Medes, Parthians, and others, he had acquired a distinguished reputation throughout Asia and Europe; and having also reduced and settled the eastern parts in their obedience, he found himself at leisure to prosecute any enterprise he might think proper to undertake. And Ptolemy Philopater having died of intemperance and debauchery, and being succeeded by his son Ptolemy Epiphanes, now a child of only four or five years old, he judged it a favourable opportunity for recovering his lost provinces. Taking advantage, therefore, of the infancy of Ptolemy, he returned to invade Egypt, and set forth a multitude greater than the former, engaging Philip, king of Macedon, in his interest, and bringing with him powerful forces from the east; with much riches — With abundant supplies of all necessary provisions for his army; and especially with beasts of burden for removing their baggage, for that is the proper sense of the word רכושׂ, here rendered riches. Polybius informs us, that from the king of Bactria, and from the king of India, he received so many elephants as made up his number one hundred and fifty, besides provisions and riches. Jerome affirms, from ancient authors, that he gathered together an incredible army out of the countries beyond Babylon; and, contrary to the league, he marched with his army, Ptolemy Philopater being dead, against his son, who was then a child.


Verse 14

Daniel 11:14. There shall many stand up against the king of the south — “Antiochus was not the only one who rose up against young Ptolemy: others also confederated with him. Agathocles was in possession of the young king’s person; and he was so dissolute and proud in the exercise of his power, that the provinces which before were subject to Egypt rebelled, and Egypt itself was disturbed by seditions; and the people of Alexandria rose up in a body against Agathocles, and caused him, his sister and mother, and their associates, to be put to death. Philip too, the king of Macedon, entered into a league with Antiochus, to divide Ptolemy’s dominions between them, and each to take the parts which lay nearest and most convenient to him.” Also the robbers of thy people — Hebrew, ובני פריצי עמךְ, literally, the sons of the breakers, or, of the revolters, the factious and refractory ones, of thy people. The LXX. read it, οι υιοι των λοιμων του λαου σου, the sons of the pestilent ones of thy people. In the Vulgate it is translated, the sons also of the prevaricators of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision — The Jews were at that time broken into factions, part adhering to the king of Egypt, and part to the king of Syria; but the majority were for breaking away from their allegiance to Ptolemy, and thereby contributed greatly, without their knowing it, toward the accomplishment of this prophecy concerning the calamities which should be brought upon the Jewish nation, by the succeeding kings of Syria. But they shall fall — For Scopas came with a powerful army from Ptolemy, and, Antiochus being engaged in other parts, soon reduced the cities of Cœlosyria and Palestine to their former obedience. He subdued the Jews in the winter season, placed a garrison in the castle of Jerusalem, and returned with great spoils to Alexandria. — Bishop Newton.


Verse 15-16

Daniel 11:15-16. So the king of the north shall come and take the most fenced cities — It was in the absence of Antiochus that these advantages were obtained by the arms of Egypt; but his presence soon turned the scale, and changed the whole face of affairs: for being concerned to recover Judea, and the cities of Cœlosyria and Palestine, which Scopas had taken, he came again into those parts. Scopas was sent again to oppose him, but was defeated near the sources of Jordan, lost a great part of his army, and was pursued to Sidon, where he was shut up with ten thousand men, and closely besieged. Three famous generals were sent from Egypt to raise the siege; but they could not succeed, and at length Scopas was forced by famine to surrender, upon the hard conditions of having life only granted to him and his men; they were obliged to lay down their arms, and were sent away stripped and naked. Antiochus took also Gaza, and then all the other cities of that district, namely, Abila, Samaria, and Gadara; and afterward became master of the whole country. The arms of the south could not withstand him, neither his chosen people, neither Scopas nor the other great generals, nor the choicest troops who were sent against him; but he did according to his own will, and none was able to stand before him — Among others the Jews also readily submitted to him, went forth in solemn procession to meet him, received him splendidly into their city, supplied him with plenty of provisions for all his army and elephants, and assisted him in besieging the garrison which Scopas had left in the citadel. Thus he stood in the glorious land — And his power was established in Judea. Which by his hand shall be consumed — This clause, thus rendered, may be considered as referring to Antiochus’s maintaining his army with the provisions he drew from Judea, and thereby exhausting it; and to the distresses the country suffered, by the marching and counter-marching of hostile armies through it. Thus Josephus: “While Antiochus the Great was reigning in Asia, both the Jews and the inhabitants of Cœlosyria, by the laying waste of their countries, suffered many things. For when he carried on war against Ptolemy Philopater, and against his son, surnamed Epiphanes, it happened, that whether he was conqueror or conquered, they suffered alike: so that they were like a ship at sea in a storm, tossed by the waves on both sides; for whether Antiochus prospered, or met with a reverse, their sufferings were the same.” But then they could not be said to be consumed by the hand of Antiochus particularly; they were consumed as much, or more, by Scopas: and the Hebrew, כלה בידו, is capable of another interpretation; it may be translated, Which shall be perfected, or prosper, or flourish, in his hand; a sense which agrees as well with the truth of the text, and better with the truth of history. For Antiochus, to reward and encourage the Jews in their fidelity and obedience to him, gave orders that their city should be repaired, and the dispersed Jews should return and inhabit it; that they should be supplied with cattle and other provisions for sacrifices; that they should be furnished with timber and other materials for finishing and adorning the temple; that they should live all according to the laws of their country; that the priests and elders, the scribes and Levites, should be exempted from the capitation and other taxes; that those who then inhabited the city, or should return to it within a limited time, should be free from all tribute for three years, and that the third part of their tribute should be remitted to them for ever after; and also, that as many as had been taken and forced into servitude should be released, and their substance and goods be restored to them: see Bishop Newton.


Verse 17

Daniel 11:17. He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom — Or rather, He shall also set his face to enter, by force, the whole kingdom: and upright ones with him; thus shall he do — If this translation be right, the upright ones here intended are the Jews who marched under his banners, and are so denominated to distinguish them from the other idolatrous soldiers. But the LXX. read, και ευθεια παντα μεταυτου ποιησει, he shall make all things right, or straight, or make agreement with him, that is, with Ptolemy. So also the Vulgate. Antiochus would have seized upon the kingdom of Egypt by force; but fearing, according to Appian, if he did so, he should bring the Romans upon him, he judged it better to proceed by stratagem, and to carry on his designs by treaty rather than by arms. He therefore proposed a marriage between his own daughter Cleopatra and King Ptolemy, now sixteen years old, to be consummated when they should come of age; which offer, made by Eucles of Rhodes, was accepted, and a contract fully agreed between them. Thus the text, And he shall give him the daughter of women — His daughter, so called, as being one of the most eminent and beautiful of women. He himself afterward conducted her to Raphia, where they were married; and gave in dowry with her the provinces of Cœlosyria and Palestine, upon condition of the revenues being equally divided between the two kings. All this he transacted with a fraudulent intention, corrupting, or to corrupt, her, and induce her to betray her husband’s interests to her father. But his designs did not take effect: for it is here said, she shall not stand on his part, neither be for him — Ptolemy and his generals were aware of Antiochus’s artifices, and therefore stood upon their guard; and Cleopatra herself affected more the cause of her husband than of her father, insomuch that, as Livy relates, (lib. xxxvii, cap. 3,) she joined with her husband in an embassy to the Romans, to congratulate them upon their victories over her father, and to exhort them, after they had expelled him out of Greece, to prosecute the war in Asia, assuring them, at the same time, that the king and queen of Egypt would readily obey the commands of the senate.


Verse 18

Daniel 11:18. After this shall he turn his face unto the isles, and shall take many — After entering into this alliance, Antiochus fitted out a formidable fleet of one hundred large ships of war, and two hundred other lesser vessels, with a view to reduce under his power the maritime places of Asia, Thrace, and Greece; and he took Samos, Eubœa, and many other islands, which was a great indignity and reproach offered to the Romans, when their confederates were thus oppressed; and the cities which they had lately restored to liberty were enslaved. But a prince, &c., shall cause the reproach to cease — This prince was Lucius Scipio, the Roman consul, who made the reproach, which Antiochus had offered to the Romans by invading their allies, to return upon his own head, by overthrowing him in battle at mount Sipylus, and forcing him to quit all the conquests he had made in the lesser Asia. In this battle Antiochus lost fifty thousand foot and four thousand horse; one thousand four hundred were taken prisoners, and he himself escaped with difficulty. From this great victory, whereby Asia was delivered out of the hands of Antiochus, Scipio obtained the surname of Asiaticus: see Livy, lib. xxxvii, cap 44. Antiochus, in consequence of this defeat, was obliged to sue for peace, and, to obtain it, was under the necessity of submitting to very dishonourable conditions; namely, not to set foot in Europe, and to give up all he possessed in Asia on this side mount Taurus; to defray the whole expenses of the war, &c., and to give twenty hostages for the performance of these articles, one of whom was his youngest son Antiochus, afterward called Epiphanes. By these means he and his successors became tributary to the Romans. So that nothing could be more fully accomplished than what is here said about the reproach he had brought upon others being turned upon himself.


Verse 19

Daniel 11:19. Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land — The word rendered fort, מעוזי, is plural, and would be more properly rendered, the fortresses. It is intended to signify, that he should return after the battle to some of his fortified towns. And accordingly we find that he fled away that night, first to Sardes, and from thence to Apamea, and the next day came into Syria to Antioch, a fortress of his own land; from whence he sent ambassadors to sue for peace; and within a few days after peace was granted, he sent part of the money demanded, and the hostages, to the Roman consul at Ephesus. Being under great difficulties how to raise the money which he had stipulated to pay to the Romans, he marched into the eastern provinces, to collect there the arrears of tribute, and amass what treasure he could; and attempting to plunder the rich temple of Jupiter Belus in Elymais. he was assaulted by the inhabitants of the country, and slain, together with his attendants. Such is the account given of the circumstances of his death by Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, Justin, and Jerome. Aurelius Victor, however, reports it otherwise, affirming that he was slain by some of his companions, whom, in his liquor, he had beaten at a banquet; but this account deserves not so much credit as the concurrent testimony of earlier historians. However it was, his death was inglorious; he stumbled, and fell, and was no more found. — Bishop Newton.


Verse 20

Daniel 11:20. Then shall stand up in his estate — Hebrew, על כנו, on his base; Vulgate, in his place; or, shall succeed him; a raiser of taxes in the glory of his kingdom — Or, as in the margin, one that causeth an exacter to pass over, &c., that is, one who will send the tribute-gatherers through his kingdom. This was a very just description of Seleucus Philopater, the son and successor of Antiochus, who oppressed his people with most grievous taxes, that he might raise the tribute of one thousand talents, which he was obliged to pay annually to the Romans, as well as that he might support his own government. According to Jerome, he performed nothing worthy of the empire of Syria, and of his father, but reigned both idly and weakly, as Appian also testifies. He had an inclination, indeed, to shake off the Roman yoke, and therefore raised an army, with an intent to march over mount Taurus to the assistance of Pharnaces king of Pontus; but his dread of the Romans confined him at home within the bounds prescribed to him, and almost as soon as he had raised, he disbanded, his army. So that he was little more than a raiser of taxes all his days. He even sent his treasurer, Heliodorus, to seize the money deposited in the temple of Jerusalem. This was literally causing an exacter to pass over the glory of the kingdom, when he sent his treasurer to plunder that temple which even kings had honoured and magnified with their best gifts. But within a few days — Or rather, years, according to the prophetic style, he was to be destroyed — And accordingly his reign was of short duration in comparison of his father’s, for he reigned only twelve years, and his father thirty-seven. Or perhaps the passage may mean, that within a few days, or years, after his attempting to plunder the temple at Jerusalem, he should be destroyed: and not long after that, as all chronologers agree, he was destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle — Neither through rebellion at home, nor in war abroad; but by the treachery of his own treasurer Heliodorus; the same wicked hand that was the instrument of his sacrilege being also the instrument of his death. “For Seleucus having sent his only son Demetrius to be a hostage at Rome instead of his brother Antiochus, and Antiochus being not yet returned to the Syrian court, Heliodorus thought this a fit opportunity to despatch his master, and, in the absence of the next heir to the crown, to usurp it to himself. But he was disappointed in his ambitious projects, and only made way for another’s usurped greatness instead of his own.” — Bishop Newton.


Verse 21

Daniel 11:21. And in his estate shall stand up a vile person — This is a description of Antiochus Epiphanes, the great persecutor of the Jewish nation and religion. He is here called a vile person, not for any want of wit or parts, but for the extravagance of his life and actions, which made many doubt whether he had more of the fool or the madman in him: see note on Daniel 8:9; Daniel 8:23-26. To whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom, &c. — The right of succession belonged to Demetrius, the son of Seleucus Philopater, and nephew to Antiochus; but he being a hostage at Rome when his father died by the treachery of Heliodorus, Antiochus, who was now returned from thence, took advantage of his absence, and by courting Eumenes king of Pergamus, and Attalus his brother, with flattering speeches, and great promises of friendship and assistance against the Romans, prevailed with them to assist him against the usurper Heliodorus. He also flattered the Syrians, and with great show of clemency obtained their concurrence. He flattered the Romans likewise, and sent ambassadors to court their favour, to pay the arrears of tribute, to present them besides with golden vessels of five hundred pounds’ weight, and to desire their friendship and alliance. Thus he came in peaceably — And as he flattered the Syrians, the Syrians flattered him again, and bestowed upon him the title of Epiphanes, or Illustrious; but the epithet of vile, or rather despicable, here given by the prophet, agrees better with his true character.


Verses 22-24

Daniel 11:22-24. And with the arms of a flood, &c. — By arms here is signified force, or strength, and by an inundation, or flood, a great army. By which is here to be understood the forces of Attalus and Eumenes, who favoured Antiochus: by these they should be overflown, and broken, who were his competitors for the crown, namely, Heliodorus, the murderer of Seleucus, and his partisans, as well as those of the king of Egypt, Ptolemy Philometor, who had formed some designs upon Syria. Yea, also the prince of the covenant — That is, the high-priest of the Jews was broken. Thus Theodoret: “He speaks of the pious high-priest, Onias, the brother of Jason, and foretels that even he should be turned out of his office.” As soon as Antiochus was seated in his throne, he removed Onias from the high-priesthood, and preferred Jason, Onias’s brother, to that dignity, not for any crime committed against him by the former, but for the great sums of money which were offered to him by the latter. For Jason offered to give no less than three hundred and sixty talents of silver for the high- priesthood, besides eighty more upon another account: and good Onias was not only displaced to make way for a wicked usurper, but after a few years, living at Antioch, he was, with as great treachery as cruelty, murdered by the king’s deputy. But though Antiochus had made a league with Jason the new high-priest, yet he did not faithfully adhere to it, but acted deceitfully; and substituted his brother Menelaus in his room, by means of an armed force, because he offered him three hundred talents more than that which he had received from Jason. For — Or rather, And he shall come up, (for the words do not assign a reason for any thing that precedes,) and shall become strong with a small people — Antiochus had been many years a hostage at Rome; and, coming from thence with only a few attendants, he appeared in Syria little at first, but soon received a great increase. He shall enter peaceably into the fattest places of the province — By the friendship of Eumenes and Attalus he entered peaceably upon the upper provinces, and likewise upon the provinces of Cœlosyria and Palestine. And wherever he came he outdid his fathers, and his fathers’ fathers, in liberality and profusion. He scattered among them the prey, and spoil, and riches — The prey of his enemies, the spoil of temples, and the riches of his friends, as well as his own revenues, were expended in public shows, and bestowed in largesses among the people. In the first book of Maccabees, chap. Daniel 3:30, it is affirmed, that in the liberal giving of gifts he abounded above the kings that were before him. Polybius relates, that sometimes, meeting accidentally with people whom he had never seen before, he would enrich them with unexpected presents; and sometimes, standing in the public streets, he would throw about his money, and cry aloud, “Let him take it to whom fortune shall give it.” His generosity was the more requisite, to fix the provinces of Cœlosyria and Palestine in his interest, because they were claimed as of right belonging to the king of Egypt. Antiochus rejected this claim, and foreseeing that these demands would prove the occasion of a new war between the two crowns, came to Joppa to take a view of the frontiers, and to put them into a proper posture of defence. In his progress he came to Jerusalem, and, as it was evening, he was ushered into the city by torch-light with great rejoicing. From thence he went to Phenicia to fortify his own strong holds, and to forecast his devices against those of the enemy; the LXX. and Arabic read, against Egypt. Thus he acted even for a time, and employed some years in his hostile preparations.


Verse 25-26

Daniel 11:25-26. For he shall stir up his power, &c., against the king of the south — By the king of the south is meant the king of Egypt, namely, Ptolemy Philometor, who demanded the surrender of Cœlosyria to him, as by right belonging to him, through virtue of the marriage articles between Ptolemy Epiphanes and Cleopatra; but Antiochus, instead of complying with his demand, invaded Egypt with a vast force both by sea and land. And the king of the south shall be stirred up, &c. — That is, the generals of Ptolemy were stirred up to war with very many and exceeding strong forces; and yet could not resist the fraudulent counsels of Antiochus. The two armies engaged between Pelusium and mount Cassius, and Antiochus obtained the victory. The next campaign he had greater success, routed the Egyptians, took Pelusium, ascended as far as Memphis, and made himself master of all Egypt except Alexandria. These transactions are recorded Maccabees Daniel 1:16-19. The misfortunes of Ptolemy are, by the prophet, ascribed to the treachery and baseness of his own ministers and subjects, Daniel 11:26 : and it is certain that Eulæus was a very wicked minister, and bred up the young king in luxury and effeminacy, contrary to his inclination. Ptolemy Macron, too, who was governor of Cyprus, revolted from him, and delivered up that important island to Antiochus. Nay, even the Alexandrians, seeing the distress of Philometor, renounced their allegiance; and taking his younger brother Euergetes, or Physcon, proclaimed him king instead of his elder brother.


Verse 27

Daniel 11:27. And both these kings’ hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table — Antiochus and Ptolemy Philometor often met together at Memphis, and frequently ate at the same table as friends, Antiochus pretending to take care of the interests of his nephew Philometor, especially after the Alexandrians had proclaimed his brother Euergetes king; and Philometor seemingly confiding in his uncle’s protection. But herein they were both insincere, designing to impose upon each other; Antiochus’s design being to seize the kingdom of Egypt to himself, and Philometor’s to disappoint that design, by coming to an agreement with Euergetes and the Alexandrians. But still these artifices did not prosper on either side; for neither did Antiochus obtain the kingdom, nor did Philometor utterly exclude him; but at last the pretended friendship broke out into open wars, which were not to have an end till the time appointed, which was not yet come.


Verse 28

Daniel 11:28. Then shall he return into his land with great riches — Namely, with the spoils taken in Egypt, which were of immense value. And his heart shall be against the holy covenant — “While he was absent in Egypt a false report was spread of his death; and Jason, thinking this a favourable opportunity for recovering the high-priesthood, marched to Jerusalem with a thousand men, assaulted and took the city, drove Menelaus into the castle, and exercised great cruelties upon the citizens. Antiochus, hearing of this, concluded that the whole nation had revolted; and being informed that the people had made great rejoicings at the report of his death, he determined to take a severe revenge, and went up with a great army, as well as with great indignation, against Jerusalem. He besieged and took the city by force of arms, slew 40,000 of the inhabitants, and sold as many more for slaves, polluted the temple and altar with swines’ flesh, profaned the holy of holies by breaking into it, took away the golden vessels, and other sacred treasures, to the value of eighteen hundred talents, restored Menelaus to his office and authority, and constituted one Philip, by nature a Phrygian, in manners a barbarian, governor of Judea. When he had done these exploits he returned to his own land.” — Bishop Newton.


Verse 29-30

Daniel 11:29-30. At the time appointed — Namely, by God. At the time determined by the divine providence, he shall return and come toward the south — He shall march into Egypt again. Antiochus perceiving that his fine-woven policy was unravelled, and that the two brothers, Philometor and Euergetes, instead of wasting and ruining each other in war, had laid aside their mutual dissensions, and provided for their common safety and interest by making peace, and agreeing to reign jointly, was so offended, that he prepared war much more eagerly and maliciously against both than he had before against one of them. Early, therefore, in the spring he set forward with his army, and passing through Cœlosyria, came into Egypt; and the inhabitants of Memphis submitting to him, he came by easy marches down to Alexandria. But it shall not be as the former — That is, this expedition shall not be so successful as his former ones: for the ships of Chittim shall come against him — That is, the ships which brought the Roman ambassadors, namely, Popilius Lænas and his companions; who came from Italy, touched at Greece, and arrived in Egypt, at the supplication of the Ptolemies, to command a peace between the contending kings: see an account of this matter in the note on Daniel 8:23. The reason of the Romans acting in this imperious manner, and of Antiochus so readily obeying, was, as Polybius suggests, the total conquests that Æmilius the Roman consul had just made of the kingdom of Macedonia. Therefore he shall be grieved and return — It was a great mortification to Antiochus to be so humbled, and so disappointed of his expected prey. He led back his forces into Syria, says Polybius, grieved and groaning, but thinking it expedient to yield to the times for the present. And have indignation against the holy covenant — Or, the law of God. Antiochus being disappointed in his designs upon Egypt, vented all his fury upon the Jews; for he detached Apollonius with an army of twenty-two thousand men, who coming to Jerusalem slew great multitudes, plundered the city, set fire to it in several places, and pulled down the houses and walls round about it. Then they built, on an eminence in the city of David, a strong fortress, which might command the temple; and issuing from thence they fell upon those who came to worship, and shed innocent blood on every side of the sanctuary, and defiled it; so that the temple was deserted and the whole service omitted; the city was forsaken of its natives, and became a habitation of strangers. So shall he do, he shall even return, &c. — After his return to Antioch, he published a decree which obliged all persons, upon pain of death, to conform to the religion of the Greeks; and so the Jewish law was abrogated, the heathen worship was set up in its stead, and the temple itself was consecrated to Jupiter Olympus. In the transacting of these matters he had intelligence with them that forsook the holy covenant Namely, Menelaus and the other apostate Jews of his party, who were the king’s chief instigators against their religion and country: see 1 Maccabees 1:41-64; 2 Maccabees 6:1-9. “It may be proper to stop here, and reflect a little, how particular and circumstantial this prophecy is concerning the kingdoms of Egypt and Syria, from the death of Alexander to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. There is not so complete and regular a series of their kings; there is not so concise and comprehensive an account of their affairs, to be found in any author of those times. The prophecy is really more perfect than any history. No one historian hath related so many circumstances, and in such exact order of time, as the prophet hath foretold them; so that it has been necessary to have recourse to several authors, Greek and Roman, Jewish and Christian; and to collect something from one, and something from another, for the better explaining and illustrating the great variety of particulars contained in this prophecy. The prophecy indeed is wonderfully exact, not only to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, but beyond that time.” So that we may conclude in the words of the inspired writer; No one could thus declare the times and seasons but He who hath them in his own power: see Acts 1:7; and Bishop Newton.


Verse 31

Daniel 11:31. And arms shall stand on his part — His arms shall so prevail as to make an entire conquest of the Jews, to profane the temple, and cause the daily service performed there to cease: see note Daniel 8:11; and compare 1 Maccabees 1:39; and 2 Maccabees 5:2-5. The temple is here called the sanctuary of strength, either because it was fortified after the manner of a castle, or else because it was a token of the divine protection, as being the place God had chosen to be worshipped in. We are informed by Josephus, by the author of the Maccabees, and others, that Antiochus’s soldiers entered the temple and plundered it, and that afterward he ordered that the Jews should not be suffered to offer up the daily sacrifices, which, according to the law, they were accustomed to offer; that he compelled them also to omit their worship of the true God, and to pay divine honours to them whom he regarded as gods, and to make shrines in every city and village, and to build altars, and daily to sacrifice swine upon them: see Joseph. Antiq. lib. 12. cap. 5, sec. 4. And they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate — In the Scriptures, idols are commonly called abominations. This was a prediction of the great profanation Antiochus should cause to the temple, in placing an idol upon the altar of burnt- offerings: see 1 Maccabees 6:54; 1 Maccabees 6:59. It is probable, that the idol was Jupiter, because we find that they dedicated the temple anew to Jupiter Olympus: see 2 Maccabees 6:2. It is here called the abomination that maketh desolate, because it banished the true worship of God, and his worshippers, from the place.


Verse 32

Daniel 11:32. Such as do wickedly shall he corrupt by flatteries — This is a declaration, that there would be many wicked persons who would be enticed to this idolatry by Antiochus’s persuasions. Jason and Menelaus, who were made high-priests by Antiochus for a sum of money, afterward became his instruments, and consented to the setting up of this idol: see 1 Maccabees 1:52; 2 Maccabees 4:13-15; and 2 Maccabees 5:15; and 2 Maccabees 6:21. But the people that do know their God — That are savingly acquainted with him, and adhere to his true worship and service, shall be strong and do exploits — When others yield to the tyrant’s demands, and surrender their consciences to his impositions, these shall bravely keep their ground, resist the temptation, and make the tyrant himself ashamed of his attempt upon them. Good old Eleazar, one of the principal scribes, was one of these, rather choosing to suffer torments and death than defile himself by eating any thing unclean: see 2 Maccabees 6:19. The mother and her seven sons resolutely adhered to their religion, though they knew they must be put to death for so doing, 2 Maccabees 7. This might well be called doing exploits; for to choose to suffer rather than to sin is a great exploit. And it was by being strong in faith that they did those exploits; and bore to be tortured, not accepting deliverance, as the apostle speaks, Hebrews 11:25. “And many in Israel were fully resolved and confirmed in themselves not to eat any thing unclean, whereupon they chose rather to die, that they might not be defiled with meats, and that they might not profane the holy covenant,” 1 Maccabees 1:62-63. Or, it may refer to the military courage and achievements of Judas Maccabeus and others, in opposition to Antiochus. Observe, reader, the right knowledge of God is and will be the strength of the soul, and through it gracious persons do exploits. They that know his name will put their trust in him, and by that trust will do great things.


Verse 33

Daniel 11:33. They that understand, &c., shall instruct many — They that know their duty, and are zealous in doing it, that are holy in heart and life, shall instruct many in the righteous ways of God, and keep them from apostacy when others fall off. Such were Mattathias and his family, 1 Maccabees 2:1, &c., the good old scribe Eleazar, and the mother and her seven children mentioned above. Yet they shall fall by the sword, &c. — This is descriptive of the sufferings which those who adhered to the divine law should undergo, through the persecution of Antiochus, who ordered them, as Josephus relates, to be put to death with most horrid torments; for some of them, when they had had their bodies torn to pieces by cruel scourgings, were nailed to crosses, to expire there in the most intolerable agonies. Other cruelties of different kinds, but not less severe, were executed upon others; many days — This cruel persecution continued three years and a half, as the time is computed by Josephus, reckoning from the first beginning of it till the sanctuary was cleansed.


Verse 34

Daniel 11:34. Now when they shall fall — When they shall lie quite overcome and oppressed with these great miseries; they shall be holpen with a little help — This was fulfilled by Mattathias and his five sons, who, in the height of their misery, stood up with most wonderful zeal and courage, to oppose these cruelties of Antiochus by force of arms; and several times overthrew, with great slaughter, Antiochus’s parties who were employed in harassing Judea. But many shall cleave to them with flatteries — That is, shall be pretended friends only. Such were Joseph and Azarias, who engaged in the common cause out of ambition and a desire of fame, 1 Maccabees 5:56; 1 Maccabees 5:62. Such were they who, after their death, were found with idols consecrated under their clothes, 2 Maccabees 12:40. Such was Rhodocus, who disclosed their secrets to the enemy, chap. 2 Maccabees 13:21.


Verse 35

Daniel 11:35. Some of them of understanding shall fall — Some of the principal men for piety and knowledge shall fall under this persecution, and suffer grievous miseries and torments: see Daniel 11:33. To try them, and to purge, &c. — For the trial of their faith and patience, and to purge them from those corruptions which are the usual effects of prosperity: compare 1 Peter 1:7 : and to make it the more evident how sincere they were in their profession, and that no temptations or sufferings could induce them to violate God’s law, and act contrary to their duty. The persecutions which were to befall the church under antichrist were and are designed for the same purpose, as appears by comparing Daniel 12:10 with the words here; Antiochus’s persecution being a type and figure of that under antichrist. Even to the time of the end — Namely, the time appointed by God for the ending of these calamities. Because it is yet for a time appointed — It will be still some time before a deliverance will be granted: or, these calamities are appointed to last for some time. Mr. Mede refers the latter part of this sentence to the following verse, and so connects the following prophecy with what went before, thus: “This persecution shall last to the time of the end; for as yet, for a time appointed, a king shall do according to his will.”


Verse 36

Daniel 11:36. The king shall do according to his will — He shall act arbitrarily; or, all things shall succeed for a time according to his wish; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god — Antiochus, as heathen authors have recorded, plundered almost all the temples of the gods which he came near, to whomsoever dedicated. And he shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods — Shall speak boasting and reproachful words against the true God. Antiochus is called a blasphemer, 2 Maccabees 9:28; and frequent mention is made in these books of blasphemies committed in Judea and Jerusalem at that time. Till the indignation be accomplished — Till the anger of God, namely, for the sins of the people, is at an end, and he sees fit to put a stop to those punishments which his wisdom and justice induced him to inflict. For that that is determined shall be done — For the time that these evils shall last is fixed by the divine providence; and they shall not be prevented, nor put an end to till that time. Many of the things that follow may be applied, by way of accommodation, to antichrist, of whom Antiochus was an eminent type; but they seem principally to refer to Antiochus himself.


Verse 37

Daniel 11:37. Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers — The god or gods worshipped in his own native country, namely, Syria. He made laws to abolish the religion of his country, and to bring in the idols of the Greeks. And though his predecessors had honoured the God of Israel, and given great gifts to the temple at Jerusalem, (2 Maccabees 3:2-3,) he did the greatest indignities to God and his temple. Nor the desire of women — This, as some think, means, nor the god that is loved and adored by women; and, taking the clause in connection with the context, this seems the most natural sense of it; for the whole verse speaks of the impiety, or irreligion, of Antiothus, that he had no regard to any god whatever. What god this was that was the desire of women, cannot be certainly said; it is probable it was the moon, (the queen of heaven, as they used to call her,) or some other of the heavenly luminaries; for the Syrian women are described in Scripture as particularly attached to these. Or the expression may refer to his barbarous cruelty, and be intended to signify that he should spare no age nor sex, and should have no regard to women, however lovely or amiable. In fact, the author of the Maccabees informs us, that by his command mothers were killed with their children; and that there was killing of young and old, men, women, and children, slaying of virgins and infants, 2 Maccabees 5:13. Nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all — He shall not regard the gods of any country whatsoever, but think himself above them, and treat them as if he were so. He was so proud, that he thought himself above the condition of a mortal man; that he could command the waves of the sea, and reach the stars of heaven, as his insolence and haughtiness are expressed 2 Maccabees 9:8; 2 Maccabees 9:10.


Verse 38

Daniel 11:38. But in his estate — Or jurisdiction. The LXX. render it, επι τοπου αυτου, in his place shall he honour the god of forces — Literally, the god Mahuzzim. This seems to be either Jupiter Olympus, never introduced among the Syrians till Antiochus did it, or, as others rather suppose, Mars, the god of war, whom Antiochus ordered to be worshipped in his dominions: which latter opinion seems the more likely, as Antiochus was almost always engaged in some war or other, and appears to have depended most upon his sword for raising himself to power and dignity. The Greek version, the Vulgate, and several other translations, retain the original word, without interpreting it. The word imports protection, or a protector, and is often rendered by the LXX., υπερασπιστης, a defender, or champion. A god whom his fathers knew not — Nor worshipped; because he wished to be thought to excel his fathers in wisdom; shall he honour with gold, and silver, and pleasant things — The word חמדות, rendered pleasant things, is used by the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 44:9) to signify the costly ornaments with which the heathen decked their idols; and of such ornaments it is to be understood here. And the god spoken of here, as honoured and ornamented by Antiochus, seems to have been Baal- Semon, the chief god of the Phenicians, who is with propriety said to be a god whom Antiochus’s father knew not; because there was no god of such name, nor supposed with the same power and attributes, among the Greeks, till (probably by Antiochus’s means) they followed the example of the Phenicians in worshipping such a god.


Verse 39

Daniel 11:39. Thus shall he do in the most strong holds — Or, fortresses of Mahuzzim; with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge — The temple of Jerusalem, called the sanctuary of strength, (Daniel 11:31, where the same word Mahuz is used: see also Psalms 27:5,) seems to be here intended by the most strong holds, or fortresses of Mahuzzim, that is, of munitions, or protections, as it is signified that he should set up the strange god there. Some read it, He shall commit the munitions of strength, that is, the city of Jerusalem, to a strange god: or, he shall put it under the protection of Jupiter Olympus. This god he shall not only acknowledge, but shall increase with glory — Setting his image even upon God’s altar. And he shall cause them — That minister to this idol; to rule over many — Shall put them into places of power and trust; and they shall divide the land for gain — Shall be maintained richly out of the profits of the country. Thus we find Antiochus’s officers promising Mattathias, that if he would do according to the king’s commandment, he and his house should be in the number of the king’s friends, and should be honoured with silver and gold, and many rewards, 1 Maccabees 2:18. The learned Mr. Mede, Bishop Newton, and many other interpreters, think that St. Paul refers to this prophecy, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; and 1 Timothy 4:1-3. And it must be acknowledged that much of what is here said is very applicable to antichrist, or the Papacy, termed by the apostle, the man of sin, that exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, forbidding to marry, pretending not to regard the desire of women, and honouring saints and angels, whom his followers take for their protectors, (as the heathen of old depended on their demons,) making them presidents of several countries. But however applicable this may be to the idolatry, superstition, and tyranny of the Church of Rome, and however Antiochus might be intended to be a type of that antichristian power, the prophecy does not appear to have been primarily designed to be understood of it, but to have been meant of Antiochus himself, that great enemy of God’s ancient church. For it would be a vast transition, and not at all according to the regular series or order of time, for the prophecy to pass at once from Antiochus to antichrist. And as these prophecies, or visions, are expressly said by the angel who was sent to explain them, (Daniel 11:10; Daniel 11:14,) to relate to the Jewish people, or to be concerning WHAT SHOULD BEFALL THEM, and antichrist does not concern them in particular, therefore it seems most consistent with reason to interpret what is said here of Antiochus, as there is not the least appearance of the subject of the prophecy being changed. Every one, who reads this chapter without prepossession, must conclude, that the very same person is intended in this paragraph that is spoken of from Daniel 11:21; and that there is no intimation in any one of these verses that any other person is primarily intended.


Verse 40

Daniel 11:40. And at the time of the end — At the determined time, or when the time shall approach that God will put an end to these miseries of the Jews; shall the king of the south push at him — The king of the south, through all this prophecy, appears evidently to signify the king of Egypt, and if it be so interpreted here, this must relate to some new contest between him and Antiochus. Historians, however, make no mention of this, nor of any third expedition of Antiochus into Egypt. But it is not improbable that the king of Egypt, between whom and Antiochus there was enmity in the heart, though there was outward friendship, might make some efforts, of one kind or other, to injure Antiochus, which might induce him to make a third expedition into Egypt. The want, however, of a certain knowledge of this transaction of Antiochus, has been considered by some as an additional reason for applying this, and the whole paragraph from the 36th verse, to antichrist, and the great apostacy of the middle ages of the Christian Church. Hence, by the king of the south here, Mr. Mede understands the Saracens, and by the king of the north, the Turks, who should both at different times afflict the western parts of the world, where he supposes the seat of antichrist to be. The Saracens he supposes to be called the king, or kingdom, of the south, because that people were inhabitants of Arabia Felix, which lay southward of Palestine, whereas the Turks were originally Tartars or Scythians. But the safest rule whereby to interpret the prophecies seems to be to apply them to events nearest to the times when they were uttered, unless they manifestly relate to more distant times; and there is nothing said here but what might very probably relate to Antiochus, though, through the scantiness of the history of those times, we have not a knowledge of the facts to which some particular passages or expressions in the prophecy refer. And the king of the north — The king of Syria, Antiochus; shall come against him like a whirlwind — In a sudden and impetuous manner. And shall overflow and pass over — Shall over- spread the land, breaking in and opening himself a passage everywhere by the vast power of his forces.


Verse 41

Daniel 11:41. He shall enter into the glorious or pleasant land — By this title it is beyond a doubt Judea is signified, chap. Daniel 8:9, and therefore it is reasonable to conclude Judea is meant here; and this seems to be spoken of Antiochus’s sending his captains Apollonius, Lysius, and Gorgias into the land of Judea, of which we have an account in the books of the Maccabees; for a king is said to enter a country when he sends his armies into it, though he be not there in person. And many countries shall be overthrown Many of the neighbouring nations shall be cut off. But these shall escape out of his hand — These shall not be destroyed. Edom and Moab, and the children of Ammon — Grotius expounds the words to this sense, That Antiochus did not make war upon these people, because they readily complied with his commands, and joined with him against the Jews: for which cause Judas Maccabees made war upon them: see 1 Maccabees 5:3-4.


Verse 42-43

Daniel 11:42-43. He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries — Namely, upon the countries near to Egypt, as well as upon Egypt itself. Some think that the occasion of Antiochus’s coming into Egypt this third time was a quarrel between Ptolemy Philometor and his brother Physcon, who set up against him; and that Antiochus sided with Physcon, and assisted him to expel Ptolemy. He shall have power over the treasures, &c., of Egypt — In intestine broils, those who are called in to the assistance of either party, generally make their market of it, and pay themselves with the riches of the country. This, from the character of Antiochus, we may well suppose he would do; and if Physcon stood in need of his assistance, he could not gainsay him. Polybius giving an account of the wealth of Antiochus in gold, silver, and precious stones, adds, “Part of this he took from Egypt, breaking the covenant which he had made with Ptolemy Philometor.” This testimony seems strongly to confirm, that what is said here is spoken of Antiochus: for the historian relates exactly the same thing that Daniel here foretels. And the Lybians and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps — Or, follow him; that is, as captives, being overcome in war; for that seems to be the meaning of the expression, be at his steps. It is very probable that Antiochus, from Egypt, made an incursion against those people, and gained some victories over them.


Verse 44-45

Daniel 11:44-45. But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him — Historians relate, that the Parthians on the east, and the Armenians on the north, declared war against Antiochus about the same time; so that this may very reasonably be supposed to relate to this fact. And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace — The word translated palace here, is a Syriac word, and therefore is very properly used when speaking of the Syrian king. The expression signifies, as we would speak now, his royal tent, or pavilion. By planting it between the seas, in the glorious holy mountain, is meant, his fixing it in Judea, called a mountain elsewhere, as well as here, because it is a mountainous country. The epithet glorious is the very same as Daniel generally uses in speaking of Judea as a peculiar mark of distinction. The epithet holy is also frequently applied to Judea, because the whole of it was dedicated to the true God, and was chosen by him for the residence of a nation which he intended to be a holy people. Judea is likewise situated between two seas, namely, the Mediterranean, and the sea of Sodom, or the Dead sea; which are its boundaries on each side. So the meaning of this sentence is, that Antiochus should place his royal pavilion in Judea, leaving there some of his principal generals, or officers, who should, by his command, keep up the pomp of majesty as if he himself were present. Yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him — God shall cut him off in the midst of his days, and none shall be able to prevent his fall. This is the same with what is foretold Daniel 8:25, He shall be broken without hand; where see the note. Observe, reader, when God’s time is come to bring proud oppressors to their end, none shall be able, nor perhaps, inclined to help them, for those who, when they are in their grandeur, covet to be feared by all, will find, when they come to be in distress, that they are loved by none: none will lend them so much as a hand, or a prayer to help them: for if the Lord do not help, who shall? Of the kings that came after Antiochus nothing is here prophesied, for he was the most malicious, mischievous enemy to the church, and a type of the son of perdition, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of his mouth, and destroy with the brightness of his coming, and none shall help him. As a confirmation of the explanation of this prophecy given above, it may be proper to observe here, that Calmet, in like manner, confines the latter part of it to the persecutions of Antiochus against the Jews. He observes, however, at the close of the chapter, it is necessary to acknowledge that Antiochus was one of the most manifest, and most expressive figures of antichrist, and that these things which the angel foretold of Antiochus will receive a further accomplishment before the end of the world.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Daniel 11:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/daniel-11.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, July 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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