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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Bible Commentary
Daniel 11

 

 

Introduction

INTRODUCTION TO THE CONCLUDING VISION

THE remaining section of the Book of Daniel forms but one vision, of which this chapter is the Introduction or Prologue.

Daniel is here spoken of in the third person. It is dated in the third year of Cyrus (B.C. 535). We have already been told that Daniel lived to see the first year of Cyrus. [Daniel 1:21] This verse, if accepted historically, would show that at any rate Daniel did not return to Palestine with the exiles. Age, high rank, and opportunities of usefulness in the Persian Court may have combined to render his return undesirable for the interests of his people. The date-the last given in the life of the real or ideal Daniel-is perhaps here mentioned to account for the allusions which follow to the kingdom of Persia. But with the great and moving fortunes of the Jews after the accession of Cyrus, and even with the beginning of their new national life in Jerusalem, the author is scarcely at all concerned. He makes no mention of Zerubbabel the prince, nor of Joshua the priest, nor of the decree of Cyrus, nor of the rebuilding of the Temple; his whole concern is with the petty wars and diplomacy of the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, of which an account is given, so minute as either to furnish us with historical materials unknown to any other historian, or else is difficult to reconcile with the history of that king’s reign as it has been hitherto understood.

In this chapter, as in the two preceding, there are great difficulties and uncertainties about the exact significance of some of the verses, and textual emendations have been suggested. The readers of the Expositor’s Bible would not, how-ever, be interested in the minute and dreary philological disquisitions, which have not the smallest moral significance, and lead to no certain result. The difficulties affect points of no doctrinal importance, and the greatest scholars have been unable to arrive at any agreement respecting them. Such difficulties will, therefore, merely be mentioned, and I shall content myself with furnishing what appears to be the best authenticated opinion.

The first and second verses are rendered partly by Ewald and partly by other scholars, "Truth is the revelation, and distress is great; therefore understand thou the revelation, since there is understanding of it in the vision." The admonition calls attention to the importance of "the word," and the fact that reality lies beneath its enigmatic and apocalyptic form.

Daniel had been mourning for three full weeks, during which he ate no dainty bread, nor flesh, nor wine, nor did he anoint himself with oil. But in the Passover month of Abib or Nisan, the first month of the year, and on the twenty-fourth day of that month, he was seated on the bank of the great river, Hiddekel or Tigris, when, lifting up his eyes, he saw a certain man clothed in fine linen like a Jewish priest, and his loins girded with gold of Uphaz. His body was like chrysolite, his face flashed like lightning, his eyes were like torches of fire, his arms and feet gleamed like polished brass, and the sound of his words was as the sound of a deep murmur. Daniel had companions with him; they did not see the vision, but some supernatural terror fell upon them, and they fled to hide themselves.

At this great spectacle his strength departed, and his brightness was changed to corruption; and when the vision spoke he fell to the earth face downwards. A hand touched him, and partly raised him to the trembling support of his knees and the palms of his hands, and a voice said to him, "Daniel, thou greatly beloved, stand upright, and attend: for I am sent to thee." The seer was still trembling; but the voice bade him fear not, for his prayer had been heard, and for that reason this message had been sent to him. Gabriel’s coming had, however, been delayed for three weeks, by. his having to withstand for twenty days the prince of the kingdom of Persia. The necessity of continuing the struggle was only removed by the arrival of Michael, one of the chief princes, to help him, so that Gabriel was no longer, needed to resist the kings of Persia. The vision was for many days, and he had come to enable Daniel to understand it.

Once more Daniel was terrified, remained silent, and fixed his eyes on the ground, until one like the sons of men touched his lips, and then he spoke to apologise for his timidity and faintheartedness.

A third time the vision touched, strengthened, blessed him, and bade him be strong. "Knowest thou," the angel asked, "why I am come to thee? I must return to fight against the Prince of Persia, and while I am gone the Prince of Greece (Javan) will come. I will, however, tell thee what is announced in the writing of truth, the book of the decrees of heaven, though there is no one to help me against these hostile princes of Persia and Javan, except Michael your prince."

The difficulties of the chapter are, as we have said, of a kind that the expositor cannot easily remove. I have given what appears to be the general sense. The questions which the vision raises bear on matters of angelology, as to which all is purposely left vague and indeterminate, or which lie in a sphere wholly beyond our cognisance.

It may first be asked whether the splendid angel of the opening vision is also the being in the similitude of a man who thrice touches, encourages, and strengthens Daniel. It is perhaps simplest to suppose that this is the case, and that the Great Prince tones down his overpowering glory to more familiar human semblance in order to dispel the terrors of the seer.

The general conception of the archangels as princes of the nations, and as contending with each other, belongs to the later developments of Hebrew opinion on such subjects. Some have supposed that the "princes" of Persia and Javan, to whom Gabriel and Michael are opposed, are not good angels, but demoniac powers, -"the world-rulers of this darkness"-subordinate to the evil spirit whom St. Paul does not hesitate to call "the god of this world," and "the prince of the powers of the air." This is how they account for this "war in heaven," so that "the dragon and his angels" fight against "Michael and his angels." Be that as it may, this mode of presenting the guardians of the destinies of nations is one respecting which we have no further gleams of revelation to help us.

Ewald regards the two last verses of the chapter as a sort of soliloquy of the angel Gabriel with himself. He is pressed for time. His coming had already been delayed by the opposition of the guardian power of the destinies of Persia. If Michael, the great archangel of the Hebrews, had not come to his aid, and (so to speak) for a time relieved guard, he would have been unable to come. But even the respite leaves him anxious. He seems to feel it almost necessary that he should at once return to contend against the Prince of Persia, and against a new adversary, the Prince of Javan, who is on his way to do mischief. Yet on the whole he will stay and enlighten Daniel before he takes his flight, although there is no one but Michael who aids him against these menacing princes. It is difficult to know whether this is meant to be ideal or real-whether it represents a struggle of angels against demons, or is merely meant for a sort of parable which represents the to-and-fro conflicting impulses which sway the destinies of earthly kingdoms. In any case the representation is too unique and too remote from earth to enable us to understand its spiritual meaning, beyond the bare indication that God sitteth above the water-floods and God remaineth a king for ever. It is another way of showing us that the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing; that the kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together; but that they can only accomplish what God’s hand and God’s counsel have predetermined to be done; and that when they attempt to overthrow the destinies which God has foreordained, "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh them to scorn, the Lord shall have them in derision." These, apart from all complications or developments of angelology or demonology, are the continuous lesson of the Word of God, and are confirmed by all that we decipher of His providence in His ways of dealing with nations and with men.

AN ENIGMATIC PROPHECY PASSING INTO DETAILS OF THE REIGN OF ANTIOCHUS EPIPHANES

IF this chapter were indeed the utterance of a prophet in the Babylonian Exile, nearly four hundred years before the events-events of which many are of small comparative importance in the world’s history-which are here so enigmatically and yet so minutely depicted, the revelation would be the most unique and perplexing in the whole Scriptures. It would represent a sudden and total departure from every method of God’s providence and of God’s manifestation of His will to the minds of the prophets. It would stand absolutely and abnormally alone as an abandonment of the limitations of all else which has ever been foretold. And it would then be still more surprising that such a reversal of the entire economy of prophecy should not only be so widely separated in tone from the high moral and spiritual lessons which it was the special glory of prophecy to inculcate, but should come to us entirely devoid of those decisive credentials which could alone suffice to command our conviction of its genuineness and authenticity. "We find in this chapter," says Mr. Bevan, "a complete survey of the history from the beginning of the Persian period down to the time of the author. Here, even more than in the earlier vision, we are able to perceive how the account gradually becomes more definite as it approaches the latter part of the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, and how it then passes suddenly from the domain of historical facts to that of ideal expectations." In recent days, when the force of truth has compelled so many earnest and honest thinkers to the acceptance of historic and literary criticism, the few scholars who are still able to maintain the traditional views about the Book of Daniel find themselves driven, like Zockler and others, to admit that even if the Book of Daniel as a whole can be regarded as a production of the exiled seer five and a half centuries before Christ, yet in this chapter at any rate there must be large interpolations.

There is here an unfortunate division of the chapters. The first verse of chapter 11 clearly belongs to the last verses of chapter 10. It seems to furnish the reason why Gabriel could rely on the help of Michael, and therefore may delay for a few moments his return to the scene of conflict with the Prince of Persia and the coming King of Javan. Michael will for that brief period undertake the sole responsibility of maintaining the struggle, because Gabriel has put him under a direct obligation by special assistance which he rendered to him only a little while previously in the first year of the Median Darius. Now, therefore, Gabriel, though in haste, will announce to Daniel the truth.

The announcement occupies five sections.


Verses 2-9

FIRST SECTION

[Daniel 11:2-9]

Events from the rise of Alexander the Great (B.C. 336) to the death of Seleucus Nicator (B.C. 280). There are to be three kings of Persia after Cyrus (who is then reigning), of whom the third is to be the richest; and "when he is waxed strong through his riches, he shall stir up the all against the realm of Javan."

There were of course many more than four kings of Persia: viz.-

Cyrus-536

Cambyses-529

Pseudo-Smerdis-522

Darius Hystaspis-521

Xerxes I-485

Artaxerxes I (Longimanus)-464

Xerxes II-425

Sogdianus-425

Darius Nothus-424

Artaxerxes II (Mnemon)-405

Artaxerxes III-359

Darius Codomannus-336

But probably the writer had no historic sources to which to refer, and only four Persian kings are prominent in Scripture-Cyrus, Darius, Xerxes, and Artaxerxes. Darius Codomannus is indeed mentioned in Nehemiah 12:22, but might have easily been overlooked, and even confounded with another Darius in uncritical and unhistorical times. The rich fourth king who "stirs up the all against the realm of Grecia" might be meant for Artaxerxes I, but more probably refers to Xerxes (Achashverosh, or Ahaseurus), and his immense and ostentatious invasion of Greece (B.C. 480). His enormous wealth is dwelt upon by Herodotus.

Daniel 11:3 (B.C. 336-323).-Then shall rise a mighty king (Alexander the Great). and shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.

"Fortunam solus omnium mortalium in potestate habuit," says his historian, Quintus Curtius.

Daniel 11:4 (B.C. 323).-But when he is at the apparent zenith of his strength his kingdom shall be broken, and shall not descend to any of his posterity, but (B.C. 323-301) shall be for others, and shall ultimately (after the Battle of Ipsus, B.C. 301) be divided towards the four winds of heaven, into the kingdoms of Cassander (Greece and Macedonia), Ptolemy (Egypt, Coele-Syria, and Palestine), Lysimachus (Asia Minor), and Seleucus (Upper Asia).

Daniel 11:5 -Of these four kingdoms and their kings the vision is only concerned with two-the kings of the South (i.e., the Lagidae, or Egyptian Ptolemies, who sprang from Ptolemy Lagos), and the kings of the North (i.e., the Antiochian Seleucidae). They alone are singled out because the Holy Land became a sphere of contentions between these rival dynasties. B.C. 306.-The King of the South (Ptolemy Soter, son of Lagos) shall bestrong, and shall ultimately assume the title of Ptolemy I, King of Egypt. But one of his princes or generals (Seleucus Nicator) shall be stronger and, asserting his independence, shall establish a great dominion over Northern Syria and Babylonia.

Daniel 11:6 (B.C. 250).-The vision then passes over the reign of Antiochus II (Soter), and proceeds to say that "at the end of years" (i.e., some half-century later, B.C. 250) the kings of the North and South should form a matrimonial alliance. The daughter of the King of the South-the Egyptian Princess Berenice, daughter of Ptolemy II (Philadelphus), should come to the King of the North (Antiochus Theos) to make an agreement. This agreement (marg., "equitable conditions") was that Aniochus Theos should divorce his wife and half-sister Laodice, and disinherit her children, and bequeath the throne to any future child of Berenice, who would thus unite the empires of the Ptolemies and the Seleucidae. Berenice took with her so vast a dowry that she was called "the dowry-bringer." Antiochus himself accompanied her as far as Pelusium (B.C. 247). But the compact ended in nothing but calamity. For, two years after, Ptolemy II died, leaving an infant child by Berenice. But Berenice did " not retain the strength of her arm ," since the military force which accompanied her proved powerless for her protection; nor did Ptolemy II abide, nor any support which he could render. On the contrary, there was overwhelming disaster. Berenice’s escort, her father, her husband, all perished, and she herself and her infant child were murdered by her rival Laodice (B.C. 246), in the sanctuary of Daphne, whither she had fled for refuge.

Daniel 11:7 (B.C. 285-247).-But the murder of Berenice shall be well avenged. For "out of a shoot from her roots" stood up one in his office, even her brother Ptolemy III (Euergetes), who, unlike the effeminate Ptolemy II, did not entrust his wars to his generals, but came himself to his armies. He shall completely conquer the King of the North (Seleucus II, Kallinikos, son of Antiochus Theos and Laodice), shall seize his fortress (Seleucia, the port of Antioch).

Daniel 11:8 (B.C. 247).-In this campaign Ptolemy Euergetes, who earned the title of "Benefactor" by this vigorous invasion, shall not only win immense booty-four thousand talents of gold and many jewels, and forty thousand talents of silver-but shall also carry back with him to Egypt the two thousand five hundred molten images, and idolatrous vessels, which, two hundred and eighty years before (B.C. 527), Cambyses had carried away from Egypt. After this success he will, for some years, refrain from attacking the Seleucid kings.

Daniel 11:9 (B.C. 240).-Seleucus Kallinikos makes an attempt to avenge the shame and loss of the invasion of Syria by invading Egypt, but he returns to his own land totally foiled and defeated, for his fleet was destroyed by a storm.


Verses 10-19

SECOND SECTION

(Daniel 11:10-19)

Events from the death of Ptolemy Euergetes (B.C. 247) to the death of Antiochus III (the Great, B.C. 175). In the following verses, as Behrmann observes, there is a sort of dance of shadows, only fully intelligible to the initiated.

Daniel 11:10 -The sons of Seleucus Kallinikos were Seleucus III (Keraunos, B.C. 227-224) and Antiochus the Great (B.C. 224-187). Keraunos only reigned two years, and in B.C. 224 his brother Antiochus III succeeded him. Both kings assembled immense forces to avenge the insult of the Egyptian invasion, the defeat of their father, and the retention of their port and fortress of Seleucia. It was only sixteen miles from Antioch, and being still garrisoned by Egyptians, constituted a standing danger and insult to their capital city.

Daniel 11:11 -After twenty-seven years the port of Seleucia is wrested from the Egyptians by Antiochus the Great, and he so completely reverses the former successes of the King of the South as to conquer Syria as far as Gaza.

Daniel 11:12 (B.C. 217).-But at last the young Egyptian King, Ptolemy IV (Philopator), is roused from his dissipation and effeminacy, advances to Raphia (southwest of Gaza) with a great army of twenty thousand foot, five thousand horse, and seventy-three elephants, and there, to his own immense self-exaltation, he inflicts a severe defeat on Antiochus, and "casts down tens of thousands." Yet the victory is illusive, although it enables Ptolemy to annex Palestine to Egypt. For Ptolemy "shall not show himself strong," but shall, by his supineness, and by making a speedy peace, throw away all the fruits of his victory, while he returns to his past dissipation (B.C. 217-204).

Daniel 11:13 -Twelve years later (B.C. 205) Ptolemy Philopator died, leaving an infant son, Ptolemy Epiphanes. Antiochus, smarting from his defeat at Raphia, again assembled an army, which was still greater than before (B.C. 203), and much war-material. In the intervening years he had won great victories in the East as far as India.

Daniel 11:14 -Antiochus shall be aided by the fact that many-including his ally Philip, King of Macedon, and various rebel-subjects of Ptolemy Epiphanes-stood up against the King of Egypt and wrested Phoenicia and Southern Syria from him. The Syrians were further strengthened by the assistance of the "children of the violent" among the Jews, " who shall lift themselves up to fulfil the vision of the oracle ; but they shall fall. " We read in Josephus that many of the Jews helped Antiochus; but the allusion to "the vision" is entirely obscure. Ewald supposes a reference to some prophecy no longer extant. Dr. Joel thinks that the Hellenising Jews may have referred to Isaiah 19:1-25 in favour of the plans of Antiochus against Egypt.

Daniel 11:15-16 -But however much any of the Jews may have helped Antiochus under the hope of ultimately regaining their independence, their hopes were frustrated. The Syrian King came, besieged, and took a well-fenced city-perhaps an allusion to the fact that he wrested Sidon from the Egyptians. After his great victory over the Egyptian general Scopas at Mount Panium (B.C. 198), the routed Egyptian forces, to the number of ten thousand, flung themselves into that city. This campaign ruined the interests of Egypt in Palestine, "the glorious land." Palestine now passed to Antiochus, who took possession "with destruction in his hand."

Daniel 11:17 (B.C. 198-195).-After this there shall again be an attempt at "equitable negotiations"; by which, however, Antiochus hoped to get final possession of Egypt and destroy it. He arranged a marriage between "a daughter of women"-his daughter Cleopatra-and Ptolemy Epiphanes. But this attempt also entirely failed.

Daniel 11:18 (B.C. 190).-Antiochus therefore "sets his face in another direction," and tries to conquer the islands and coasts of Asia Minor. But a captain-the Roman general, Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus-puts an end to the insolent scorn with which he had spoken of the Romans, and pays him back with equal scorn, utterly defeating him in the great Battle of Magnesia (B.C. 190), and forcing him to ignominious terms.

Daniel 11:19 (B.C. 175).-Antiochus next turns his attention ("sets his face") to strengthen the fortress of his own land in the east and west; but making an attempt to recruit his dissipated wealth by the plunder of the Temple of Belus in Elymais, "stumbles and falls, and is not found."


Verses 20-27

THIRD SECTION

(Daniel 11:20-27)

Events under Seleucus Philopator down to the first attempts of Antiochus Epiphanes against Egypt (B.C. 170).

Daniel 11:20 -Seleucus Philopator (B.C. 187-176) had a character the reverse of his father’s. He was no restless seeker for glory, but desired wealth and quietness. Among the Jews, however, he had a very evil reputation, for he sent an "exactor"-a mere tax-collector, Heliodorus-"to pass through the glory of the kingdom." He only reigned twelve years, and theft was "broken"- i.e ., murdered by Heliodorus, neither in anger nor in battle, but by poison administered by this "tax-collector." The versions all vary, but I feel little doubt that Dr. Joel is right when he sees in the curious phrase "nogesh heder malkooth," "one that shall cause a raiser of taxes to pass over the kingdom"-of which neither Theodotion nor the Vulgate can make anything-a cryptographic allusion to the name "Heliodorus"; and possibly the predicted fate may (by a change of subject) also refer to the fact that Heliodorus was checked, not by force, but by the vision in the Temple. {#/RAPC 2 Maccabees 5:18; 2 Maccabees 3:24-29} We find from #/RAPC 2 Maccabees 4:1 that Simeon, the governor of the Temple, charged Onias with a trick to terrify Heliodorus, This is a very probable view of what occurred.

Daniel 11:21 -Seleucus Philopator died B.C. 175 without an heir. This made room for a contemptible person, a reprobate, who had no real claim to royal dignity, being only a younger son of Antiochus the Great. He came by surprise, "in time of security." and obtained the kingdom by flatteries.

Daniel 11:22.-Yet "the overflowing wings of Egypt" (or "the arms of a flood") "were swept away before him and broken; yea, and even a covenanted or allied prince." Some explain this of his nephew Ptolemy Philometor, others of Onias III, "the prince of the covenant"- i.e ., the princely high priest, whom Antiochus displaced in favour of his brother, the apostate Joshua, who Graecised his name into Jason, as his brother Onias did in calling himself Menelaus.

Daniel 11:23 -This mean king should prosper by deceit which he practised on all connected with him; and though at first he had but few adherents, he should creep into power.

Daniel 11:24 -"In time of security shall he come, even upon the fattest places of the province." By this may be meant his invasions of Galilee and Lower Egypt. Acting unlike any of his royal predecessors, he shall lavishly scatter his gains and his booty among needy followers, and shall plot to seize Pelusium, Naucratis, Alexandria, and other strongholds of Egypt for a time.

Daniel 11:25 -After this (B.C. 171) he shall, with a "great army," seriously undertake his first invasion of Egypt, and shall be met by his nephew Ptolemy Philometor with another immense army. In spite of this, the young Egyptian King shall fail through the treachery of his own courtiers. He shall be outwitted and treacherously undermined by his uncle Antiochus. Yes! even while his army is fighting, and many are being slain, the very men who "eat of his dainties," even his favourite and trusted courtiers, Eulaeus and Lenaeus, will be devising his ruin, and his army shall be swept away.

Daniel 11:26-27 (B.C. 174).-The Syrians and the Egyptian King, nephew and uncle, shall in nominal amity sit at one banquet, eating from one table; but all the while they will be distrustfully plotting against each other and "speaking lies" to each other. Antiochus will pretend to ally himself with the young Philometor against his brother Ptolemy Euergetes II-generally known by his derisive nickname as Ptolemy Physkon-whom after eleven months the Alexandrians had proclaimed king. But all these plots and counter-plots should be of none effect, for the end was not yet.


Verses 28-35

FOURTH SECTION

(Daniel 11:28-35)

Events between the first attack of Antiochus on Jerusalem (B.C. 170) and his plunder of the Temple to the first revolt of the Maccabees (B.C. 167).

Daniel 11:28 (B.C. 168).-Returning from Egypt with great plunder, Antiochus shall set himself against the Holy Covenant. He put down the usurping high priest Jason, who, with much slaughter, had driven out his rival usurper and brother, Menelaus. He massacred many Jews, and returned to Antioch enriched with golden vessels seized from the Temple.

Daniel 11:29 -In B.C. 168 Antiochus again invaded Egypt, but with none of the former splendid results. For Ptolemy Philometor and Physkon had joined in sending an embassy to Rome to ask for help and protection. In consequence of this, "ships from Kittim"-namely, the Roman fleet-came against him, bringing the Roman commissioner, Gaius Popilius Laenas. When Popilius met Antiochus, the king put out his hand to embrace him; but the Roman merely held out his tablets, and bade Antiochus read the Roman demand that he and his army should at once evacuate Egypt. "I will consult my friends on the subject," said Antiochus. Popilius, with infinite haughtiness and audacity, simply drew a circle in the sand with his vine-stick round the spot on which the king stood, and said, "You must decide before you step out of that circle." Antiochus stood amazed and humiliated; but seeing that there was no help for it, promised in despair to do all that the Romans demanded.

Daniel 11:30 -Returning from Egypt in an indignant frame of mind, he turned his exasperation against the Jews and the Holy Covenant, especially extending his approval to those who apostatised from it.

Daniel 11:31 -Then (B.C. 168) shall come the climax of horror. Antiochus shall send troops to the Holy Land, who shall desecrate the sanctuary and fortress of the Temple, and abolish the daily sacrifice (Kisleu 15), and set up the abomination that maketh desolate.

Daniel 11:32 -To carry out these ends the better, and with the express purpose of putting an end to the Jewish religion, he shall pervert or "make profane" by flatteries the renegades who are ready to apostatise from the faith of their fathers. But there shall be a faithful remnant who will bravely resist him to the uttermost. "The people who know their God will be valiant, and do great deeds."

Daniel 11:33 -To keep alive the national faith "wise teachers of the people shall instruct many," and will draw upon their own heads the fury of persecution, so that many shall fall by sword, and by flame, and by captivity, and by spoliation for many days.

Daniel 11:34 -But in the midst of this fierce onslaught of cruelty they shall be "holpen" with a little help. "There shall arise the sect of the Chasidim," or "the Pious," bound together by "Tugendbund" to maintain the Laws which Israel received from Moses of old. These good and faithful champions of a righteous cause will indeed be weakened by the false adherence of waverers and flatterers.

Daniel 11:35 -To purge the party from such spies and Laodiceans, the teachers, like the aged priest Mattathias at Modin, and the aged scribe Eleazar, will have to brave even martyrdom itself till the time of the end.


Verses 36-45

FIFTH SECTION

(Daniel 11:36-45, B.C. 147-164)

Events from the beginning of the Maccabean rising to the death of Antiochus Epiphanes.

Daniel 11:36 -Antiochus will grow more arbitrary, more insolent, more blasphemous, from day to day, calling himself "God" (Theos) on his coins, and requiring all his subjects to be of his religion, and so even more kindling against himself the wrath of the God of gods by his monstrous utterances, until the final doom has fallen.

Daniel 11:37 -He will, in fact, make himself his own god, paying no regard (by comparison) to his national or local god, the Olympian Zeus, nor to the Syrian deity, Tammuz-Adonis, "the desire of women."

"Tammuz came next behind, whose yearly wound in Lebanon allured the Syrian damsels to lament his fate in amorous ditties all a summer day. While smooth Adonis from his native rock ran purple to the sea-supposed with blood of Tammuz yearly wounded. The love tale infected Zion’s daughters with like heat."

Daniel 11:38 -The only God to whom he shall pay marked respect shall be the Roman Jupiter, the god of the Capitol. To this god, to Jupiter Capitolinus, not to his own Zeus Olympios, the god of his Greek fathers, he shall erect a temple in his capital city of Antioch, and adorn it with gold and silver and precious stones.

Daniel 11:39 -"And he shall deal with the strongest fortresses by the help of a strange god"-namely, the Capitoline Jupiter (Zeus Polieus)-and shall crowd the strongholds of Judaea with heathen colonists who worship the Tyrian Hercules (Melkart) and other idols; and to these heathen he shall give wealth and power.

Daniel 11:40 -But his evil career shall be cut short. Egypt, under the now-allied brothers Philometor and Physkon, shall unite to thrust at him. Antiochus will advance against them like a whirlwind, with many chariots and horsemen, and with the aid of a fleet.

Daniel 11:41-45 -In the course of his march he shall pass through Palestine, "the glorious land," with disastrous injury; but Edom, Moab, and the bloom of the kingdom of Ammon shall escape his hand. Egypt, however, shall not escape. By the aid of the Libyans and Ethiopians who are in his train he shall plunder Egypt of its treasures.

How far these events correspond to historic realities, is uncertain. Jerome says that Antiochus invaded Egypt a third time in B.C. 165, the eleventh year of his reign; but there are no historic traces of such an invasion, and most certainly Antiochus towards the close of his reign, instead of being enriched with vast Egyptian spoils, was struggling with chronic lack of means. Some therefore suppose that the writer composed and published his enigmatic sketch of these events before the close of the reign of Antiochus, and that he is here passing from contemporary fact into a region of ideal anticipations which were never actually fulfilled.

Daniel 11:43 (B.C. 165).-In the midst of this devastating invasion of Egypt, Antiochus shall be troubled with disquieting rumours of troubles in Palestine and other realms of his kingdom. He will set out with utter fury to subjugate and to destroy, determining above all to suppress the heroic Maccabean revolt which had inflicted such humiliating disasters upon his generals, Seron, Apollonius, and Lysias.

Daniel 11:45 (B.C. 164).-He shall indeed advance so far as to pitch his palatial tent "between the sea and the mountain of the High Glory": but he will come to a disastrous and an unassisted end.

These latter events either do not correspond with the actual history, or cannot be verified. So far as we know Antiochus did not invade Egypt at all after B.C. 168. Still less did he advance from Egypt, or pitch his tent anywhere near Mount Zion. Nor did he die in Palestine, but in Persia (B.C. 165). The writer, indeed, strong in faith, anticipated, and rightly, that Antiochus would come to an ignominious and a sudden end-God shooting at him with a swift arrow, so that he should be wounded. But all accurate details seem suddenly to stop short with the doings in the fourth section, which may refer to the strange conduct of Antiochus in his great festival in honour of Jupiter at Daphne. Had the writer published his book before this date, he could not surely have failed to speak with triumphant gratitude and exultation of the heroic stand made by Judas Maccabaeus and the splendid victories which restored hope and glory to the Holy Land. I therefore regard these verses as a description rather of ideal expectation than of historic facts.

We find notices of Antiochus in the Books of Maccabees, in Josephus, in St. Jerome’s Commentary on Daniel, and in Appian’s "Syriaca." We should know more of him and be better able to explain some of the allusions in this chapter if the writings of the secular historians had not come down to us in so fragmentary a condition. The relevant portions of Callinicus Sutoricus, Diodorus Siculus, Polybius, Posidonius, Claudius, Theon, Andronicus, Alypius, and others are all lost-except a few fragments which we have at second or third hand. Porphyry introduced quotations from these authors into the twelfth book of his "Arguments against the Christians"; but we only know his book from Jerome’s ex-parte quotations. Other Christian treatises, written in answer to Porphyry by Apollinaris, Eusebius, and Methodius, are only preserved in a few sentences by Nicetas and John of Damascus. The loss of Porphyry and Apollinarius is especially to be regretted. Jerome says that it was the extraordinarily minute correspondence of this chapter of Daniel with the history of Antiochus Epiphanes that led Porphyry to the conviction that it only contained vaticinia ex eventu.

Antiochus died at Tabae in Paratacaene on the frontiers of Persia and Babylonia about B.C. 163. The Jewish account of his remorseful deathbed may be read in #/RAPC 1 Maccabees 6:1-16 : "He laid him down upon his bed, and fell sick for grief; and there he continued many days, for his grief was ever more and more; and he made account that he should die." He left a son, Antiochus Eupator, aged nine, under the charge of his flatterer and foster-brother Philip. Recalling the wrongs he had inflicted on Judaea and Jerusalem, he said: "I perceive, therefore, that for this cause these troubles are come upon me; and, behold, I perish through great grief in a strange land."

 


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Bibliography Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Daniel 11:4". "Expositor's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/teb/daniel-11.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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