24. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.
24. Et roborabitur fortitudo ejus, et non in fortitudine sua, 1 et mirabilia 2 evertet, prosperabitur, et efficiet, et perdet, repetit idem verbum, robustos, et populum sanctorum.
25. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself.' in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.
25. Et pro intelligentia sua prosperabitur dolus in manu ejus, et in corde suo magnificabit se, et in pace perdet multos, vel fortes, et contra Principem principum stabit, vel exsurget, et absque manu frangetur.
We have previously given a brief explanation of all these subjects. But here the angel removes all doubt, lest we should still anxiously inquire the meaning of the ram which Daniel saw, and of the he-goat which followed and prostrated the ram. The angel, therefore, here pronounces the ram to represent two kingdoms, which coalesced in one. Cyrus, as we have said, granted it for a time to his father-in-law Cyaxares, but yet; drew the whole power to himself, and the Persians began to extend their sway over all the realms of the East. But God in this vision had respect to the beginning of that monarchy. When, however, the Persians and Medes, were united, then the ram bore two horns; then the he-goat succeeded, and he threw down the ram, as we have already seen. In that he-goat there was first one great horn and then four small ones. Tim angel then answers concerning the he-goat representing the kingdom of the Greeks. There is not the slightest doubt here, since Alexander seized upon the whole East, and thus the Persian monarchy was utterly destroyed. In the he-goat, therefore, the kingdom of Greece or Macedon was displayed, but the horns will mark something special.
That great, horn, says Daniel, was the first king, namely, Alexander; afterwards four smaller horns arose in his place. We have already explained these. For when much blood had been shed, and the greater part of the leaders had been slain, and after the followers of Alexander had mutually attacked and. destroyed each other, those who remained divided his dominions among themselves. Cassander the son of Antipater obtained Macedon; Seleueus, Syria; Ptolemy, Egypt; and Antigonus his own fourth share. In this way the smaller horns succeeded Alexander, according to the clear testimony of profane history. From the frequency with which God sets this prophecy before us, we gather his intention of giving us a conspicuous sign of his majesty. For how could Daniel conjecture future events for so long a period before they happened? He does not pronounce mere enigmas, but; narrates things exactly as if they were already fulfilled. At the present time Epicureans despise the Scriptures and laugh at our simplicity, as if we were too ridiculous. But they rather display their own prodigious madness, and blindness, by not acknowledging the prediction of Daniel to be divine. Nay, from this prophecy alone we may prove with certainty the unity of God. If any one was inclined to deny that first principle, and utterly reject the doctrine of his divinity, he might be convinced by this single prophecy. Not only is this subject treated here, but Daniel points with his finger to the God of Israel as the only one in whose hand and will are all things, and from whom nothing either escapes or is concealed. From this prophecy alone the authority of Scripture is established by proofs perfectly sure and undoubted, as the Prophet treats with perfect clearness events at the time unknown, and which no mortal could ever have divined.
First of all he says, The ram which, thou sawest, having two horns, means the kings of the Medes and Persians. This had not then occurred, for that ram had not yet risen and seized upon Babylon, as we have stated already. Thus Daniel was raised up as it were to heaven, and observed from that watch-tower things hidden from the minds of men. He afterwards adds, The he-goat is the king of Greece. Philip, the father of Alexander, although a strenuous and a most skillful warrior, who surpassed all the kings of Macedon for cleverness, yet, superior as he was, never dared to cross over the sea. It, was sufficient for him if he could strengthen his power in Greece, and render himself formidable against his neighbors in Asia Minor. But he never dared to attack the power of Persia, or even to harass them, and much less to overcome the whole East. Alexander, inflamed rather by rashness and pride than by good judgment, thought nothing would prove difficult to him. But when Daniel saw this vision, who ever would have thought of any king of Greece invading that most powerful monarchy, and not only seizing upon the whole of Asia, but obtaining sway in Egypt, Syria, and other regions? Although Asia Minor was an extensive region, and well known to be divided into many rich and fertile provinces, yet it was but a small addition to his immense empire. Nay, when Nineveh was conquered by Babylon, and the Chaldeans became masters of Assyria, this also was an addition to the Persian monarchy. We are familiar with the amazing riches of the Medes, and yet they were entirely absorbed. Darius drew with him 800,000 men, and quite buried the earth under his army. Alexander inet tiim at the head of 30,000. What comparison was there between them! When Xerxes 3 came to Greece he brought with him 800,000 men, and threatened to put fetters upon the sea; yet Daniel speaks of his incredible event just as if it had already taken place, and were matter of history. These points must be diligently noticed that the Scriptures may inspire us with the confidence which they deserve.
The great horn, says he, which was between his eyes was the first king, and when it was broken, four others sprang up. Alexander, as we have mentioned, perished in the flower of his age, and was scarcely' thirty years old when he died, through the influence of either poison or disease. Which of the two is uncertain, although great suspicion of fraud attaches to the manner of his death; and whichever way it happened, that horn was broken. In his place there arose four horns, which sprang up, say's he, from that nation. Here we must notice this, since I very much wonder what has come into some persons' minds, to cause them to translate it "from the nations" and yet these are persons skilled in the Hebrew language. First, they show great ignorance by changing the number, and next, they do not comprehend the intention of the angel. For he confirms what he formerly said concerning the unity of the kingdom and its division into four parts, and he assigns the reason here. They shall spring, says he, from a nation, meaning the Greeks, and all from a single origin. For by what right did Polemy obtain the empire? solely by being one of Alexander's generals. At the beginning, he dared not use the royal name, nor wear the diadem, but only after a lapse of time. The same is true of Selcucus, and Antigonus, and Cassander. We see, then, how correctly the kingdom of the Greeks is represented to us under the figure of a single beast, although it was immediately dispersed and torn into four parts. The kingdoms, then, which sprang from the nation meaning; Greece, shall stand, but not in full strength. The copula is here taken in the sense of "but;" the four kingdom shall stand, but not by his strength, for Alexander had touched upon the Indian sea, and enjoyed the tranquil possession of his empire throughout the whole east, having filled all men with the fear of his industry, valor, and speed. Hence, the;angel states the four horns to be so small, that not one of them should be equal to the first king.
And at the end of their reign, when the wicked shall be at their height, one king shall stand. By saying at the end of their kingdom, he does not mean to imply the destruction of the four kingdoms had ceased. The successors of Antiochus were not directly cast down from their sway, and Syria was not reduced into a province till about eighty or a hundred years after Antiochus the Great had been completely conquered. He again left heirs, who, without doubt, succeeded to the throne, as we shall see more clearly in the eleventh chapter. But this point is certain -- Perseus was the last king of Macedon, and the Ptolemies continued to the times of Julius Caesar and Augustus, and we are well aware how completely Cleopatra was conquered and ruined by Antony. As women succeeded to the throne, we could not place the destruction of the Macedonian empire under Antiochus Epiphanes. But the angel means, at the end of their kingdom, when they had really come to the close of their reigns, and their final ruin was at hand. For when Antiochus Epiphanes returned to his country, he seemed to have re-established his power though it very soon afterwards began to die away. Similar circumstances also happened to Egypt and to Macedon, for the reign of all their kings was precarious, and although not direct]y overthrown, yet they depended on the Romans, and thus their royal majesty was but fleeting. At the end, therefore, of their kingdom, that is, when they arrived at the height, and their fall led them on to ruin, then, says he, when the wicked were consummated or perfected. Some apply this to the professed and outward enemies of the Church, but I rather approve of another opinion, which supposes the angel to be speaking of the impious, who provoked God's wrath, till it became necessary for grievous and severe penalties to be inflicted on the people, to whom God had so magnificently promised a happy and a tranquil state. This, however, was no common temptation, after the prophets had treated so fully of the happy and prosperous state of the people after their return from captivity, to behold the horrible dispersion, and to witness these tyrants making their assault not only upon men, but upon the temple of God itself. Wherefore the angel, as before, fortifies the Prophet and all the rest of the pious against this kind of trial, and shews how God had not changed his counsels in afflicting his Church, to which he had promised tranquillity, but had been grievously provoked by the sins of the people. He then shews the urgent necessity which had compelled God to exercise this severity. When, therefore, the impious had come to their height, that is, when they had arrived at the highest pitch, and their intolerable obstinacy had become desperate. We perceive how the angel here meets the trial, and instructs the pious beforehand, unfolding to them the inviolability of God's word, while the people's impiety compelled him to treat, them severely, although he had determined to display liberality in every way. Then, he says, a king shall stand with a fierce countenance. But the rest tomorrow.
Grant, Almighty God, since we see thy Church throughout all ages to have been exercised by the Cross in various ways, and with constant suffering, that we also may prepare ourselves for undergoing whatever thou mayest lay upon us. May we learn also to consider our sins as the cause of whatever adversity happens to us; may we consider thee to be not only faithful in all thy promises, but also a Father -- propitious to those wretched ones who suppliantly fly to thee for pardon. When we are humbled under thy powerful hand, may we be raised up by the hope of eternal salvation which is prepared for us. Thus may we look for a happy and joyful termination of all our contests, until we enjoy the fruit of our victory in thy' heavenly kingdom, as it has been obtained for us by the blood of thine only-begotten Son. -- Amen.
After the angel had explained the Grecian monarchy, he records the future origin of a king who should be hard of face. Without the slightest doubt, he implies the iniquity of Antiochus by this phrase. He was notoriously destitute of any nobleness of mind, and remarkable for low cunning, and to this disposition was added an impudence which faltered at nothing. This is the sense in which I take the words hard of face. The following phrase asserts his cunning, when it says, he shall be skilled in enigmas. This is equivalent to saying, he should excel in cunning, and should not be easily deceived. By these two epithets he does not compliment, but rather defames Antiochus Epiphanes, by representing him as hardened as the wicked usually are, without the slightest particle of either reason, or equity, or shame. He next blames his craftiness and deceit, by stating he should be skilled in enigmas. He afterwards adds, his power shall be strengthened, and yet not by his own might. Some are of opinion that Antiochus Epiphanes is here compared to Alexander, as the angel had previously stated the inferiority of the four kings to the first; for they were prefigured by four small horns. For the most powerful of them all did not reign over a fifth part of the dominions which Alexander had acquired for himself by violence and war. Others, again, explain this passage as if the power of Antiochus would be great, but still very unlike that of Alexander, and far inferior to it, according to the sense, not in his, i.e., Alexander's, strength,. Many, however, refer this to Antiochus, although they do not agree among themselves. Some, again, want a kind of correction, as if the angel implied that the power of Antiochus should be great, but not quite openly so. Hence his valor shall be strengthened, not meaning by "valor" that heroic spirit with which kings are usually endowed, nor any increase in magnanimity; nor yet that Antiochus should imitate such monarchs as these, but his strength should lie concealed. He should creep on by clandestine acts, and not contend in open battle according to the practice of those who excel in courage; he should secretly try many schemes, and thus stealthily extend his empire. This makes a tolerable sense. Others, again, think this ought to be referred to God, since the strength of Antiochus was not the result of his own industry or valor, but of the judgment of God, who armed him with it, because he wished to use him as a scourge to execute his punishments on the Jews. His fortitude, therefore, shall be strengthened, yet not by his own valor, as this entirely depended on the just designs and vengeance of God. Although this last sense is more profitable, and contains much useful instruction, yet I fear it is distorted. And thus the last clause is either a correction of the preceding words, meaning" because he should not increase with ingenuous earnestness," or else, the angel is still comparing his strength with the power of Alexander. His power, therefore, shall be strengthened, and yet not bear comparison with Alexander's; or, his power shall be strengthened, but not by habits of war nor by open magnanimity, but he shall grow great by fraudulent and clandestine arts; because he was on the one hand most impious, and on the other, of a servile disposition, as we have formerly said.
It follows, He shall make wonderful havoc, and shall prosper, and shall proceed, that is, shall execute, and shall destroy the strong, and the people of the saints. By Mymwue, gnetzumim, I understand not only the Jews, but also other neighboring nations; as if the angel had said, Antiochus shall be conqueror wherever he shall extend his arms, until at length he shall subdue Judea, and miserably afflict the people of God. Wherefore, he shall strike or destroy the brave, and the people of the saints, that is, the holy people, as we saw before. And according to his understanding shall his craftiness prosper in his hand. The conjunction "and may be here superfluous; in this sense the passage is usually received, thus reading it on in one context; according to his understanding he shall prosper, although there is the conjunction "and" in the way, but this is frequently superfluous in Hebrew. It means, deceit shall prosper in his hand. Here the angel confirms the former assertion respecting the servile cunning of Antiochus, as he did not act with ingenuous manliness, but with his audacity and hardihood he united malicious arts and craftiness unworthy of a king. Craft , therefore, shall prosper in his hand, and that too, as far as he understands it. Some suppose the sharpness of Antiochus to be noticed here, as if the angel had said, Craftiness shall prosper in his hand, in consequence of his possessing superior ability and penetration. But the passage may be suitably explained in this way, -- Antiochus shall act prosperously according to his mental perception, and shall be so assisted by' his craftiness, as to obtain whatever he shall grasp at.
It follows next; He shall magnify himself in his heart, or he shall raise himself, and bear himself magnificently; although this expression implies boasting and pride, and is taken in a disadvantageous sense. He shall be insolent, therefore, in his heart. The angel seems to distinguish here between the scheming and penetration of Antiochus, and his pride of heart; for, although he should obtain great: victories, and should subdue many nations according to his desires, yet he would oppress the Jews, and then, should be magnified in heart; that is, should be puffed up with greater pride than before, on account of those continuous successes. And in peace he shall destroy many, or the brave; for the word Mybr rabbim, signifies either. Some translate, on account of his prosperity, because the Lord wished to relax the reins, so that no one should hinder the course of his victories. On account, then, of that success, he shall destroy many. Profane men, indeed, who understand nothing of God's providence, have said that folly and chance prevail more in war than skill or arms; but the success of generals does not spring from either chance or fortune, but as God pleases to conduct the affairs of the world in various ways, so in some eases the evil and unskillful warriors succeed, while others make many fruitless efforts and trials, although they are superior in counsel, and are provided with the very best ornaments. But I rather incline to another sense which interpreters do not mention; namely, Antiochus should destroy and lay waste many nations without any trouble, with the greatest ease, and as it were in sport. Wherefore the Prophet signifies, or the angel who addresses the Prophet., that Antiochus should be the conqueror of many nations, not only because he should be endowed with great cunning, ,and should carry on the war more by treachery than by open violence, but as it is reported of Timotheus the Athenian general: He will take cities and lands, and subject them to himself, through fortune spreading her net for him while he is indulging in sleep. The angel, therefore, seems to point out this listlessness, by predicting much devastation by the hand of Antiochus in apparent ease and calmness. Others expound it thus, -- nations shall be laid waste by that robber which have given him no occasion for attack, because they have never stirred up any hostility against him; but when they attempt to cultivate peace, he wearies them without the slightest pretext. But this interpretation seems to:the forced.
He afterwards adds, And against the Prince Of Princes he shall stand, or rise up, and he shall be destroyed without hand, or shall be ruined. The w, vau, is put adversatively; yet he shall be destroyed without hand. This was far more galling to the Prophet, and to the whole people, for the angel to predict the contests of Antiochus, not only with mortals, but with God himself. Some understand Myrsars, sar-sarim, of the high priest, but this is too confined and spiritless. I have not the least doubt that God is here meant by the Prince of Princes. Wherefore the complete sense is, -- Antiochus should be not only bold, and cruel, and proud towards men, but this madness and full should proceed so far as to lead him to attack and resist God. This is the full sense. But a consolation is soon added, when the angel says, he should be destroyed without hand. It would, indeed, have been almost intolerable for the Jews to hear only of the insolence of Antiochus in contending against God, unless this correction had been added -- the end of the contest must be the self-destruction of Antiochus by his own impiety. He shall be destroyed then. But how? without hand, says he. For after subduing so many nations, and after obtaining whatever he wished, what more could be hoped for as far as man is concerned? Who would dare to rise up against him? Clearly enough, if the kings of Syria had been content with their own boundaries, they need not have feared any one, for no enemy would have molested them; but they provoked the Romans to attack them, and when they wished to invade Egypt, they did not prosper in their attempts. Whichever be the meaning, the angel here announces the sufficiency of the divine power without any human aid, for the destruction and overthrow of Antiochus. Some think this prophet refers to Antichrist, thus they pass by Antiochus altogether, and describe to us the appearance of Antichrist, as if the angel had shewn to Daniel what should happen after the second renovation of the Church. The first restoration took place when liberty was restored to the people, and they returned from exile to their native land, and the second occurred at the advent of Christ. These interpreters suppose this passage to unfold that devastation of the Church which should take place after the coming of Christ, and the promulgation of the gospel. But as we have previously seen, this is not a suitable meaning, and I am surprised that men versed in the Scriptures should so pour forth clouds upon clear light. For, as we said yesterday, nothing can be clearer, or more perspicuous, or even more familiar, than this prophecy. And what is the tendency of ascribing so violently to Antichrist what even mere children clearly see to be spoken of Antiochus, except to deprive Scripture of all its authority? Others speak more modestly and more considerately, when they suppose the angel to treat of Antiochus for the purpose of depicting in his person the figure of Antichrist. But I do not think this reasoning sufficiently sound. I desire the sacred oracles to be treated so reverently, that no one may introduce any variety according to the will of man, but simply hold what is positively certain. It would please me better to see any one wishing to adapt this prophecy to the present use of the Church, and to apply to Antichrist by analogy what is said of Antiochus. We know that whatever happened to the Church of old, belongs also to us, because we have fallen upon the fullness of times.
No doubt the Holy Spirit wished to teach us how to bear our cross by making use of this example, but as I have already said, it seems to me far too frivolous to search for allegories. We should be content with true simplicity, and transfer to ourselves whatever occurred to the ancient people. (1 Corinthians 10:11.) With how much reason does the Apostle say there should be false teachers in the kingdom of Christ, as there were formerly false prophets! (2 Peter 2:1.) So we must determine, that the devil, who was a murderer from the beginning, will always find those whom he will stir up and impel to persecute the Church. The devil contends at this very day, not only by fallacious doctrines, and impious errors, and impostures, but also by cruel tyranny, as he inflames many impious men to madness, and thus harasses the sons of God. As the Jews ought not to quail under the calamities which oppressed them, through Daniel's predictions concerning Antiochus, so the same doctrine ought in these days to fortify us, lest the novelty of our calamities should appall us, when the Church is oppressed by heavy burdens, and tyrants rage and storm, with fire and sword. (Romans 8:28:) For the fathers experienced similar trials, to whom Christ had not then pointed out the way of life, and who did not comprehend so clearly as we do our duty to be conformed to the only-begotten Son of God, because he is the first-born in the Church; he is our head and we are his members. This. was not so fully unfolded to those holy men, who still endured under so many afflictions, when they might suppose the Church completely buried, as it is certainly surprising that they did not yield a hundred times over to so many and such dreadful calamities. Therefore this doctrine will be best accommodated to our instruction, if we are convinced of the justice of our condition not being better than that of the fathers. What, therefore, happened to them? These wicked ones should be destroyed, namely, the Jews:, who professed themselves to be the elect people of God, and the holy family of Abraham, and in numberless ways had obstinately provoked God's wrath; thus the Church was miserably harassed. Antiochus, especially, like a sweeping tempest, reduced all things to ruin, till the people felt themselves utterly undone, and to all human appearance were without the slightest hope. As God punished so severely the wickedness of his ancient people, it does not surprise us when we feel his present chastisements, as in these days the land is full of sinfulness, and we do not cease perpetually and purposely to provoke God's wrath. (1 Thessalonians 3:3.) Lastly, to avoid the penalty due to our sins, let us consider the end of our calling, the subjection of our whole life to the cross. This is the warfare to which our heavenly Father destines us. As this is our lot, we ought to look into this mirror, and there behold the perpetual condition of the
Church. It is therefore no matter of surprise, if, instead of one Antiochus, God should raise up many who are hardened and invincible in their obstinacy, and in their cruelty make many attempts with clandestine arts, and plot for the destruction of the Church. If the fathers experienced this, it does not surprise us, if we in these days undergo similar sufferings. This, I say, is a useful analogy, and does not distort the simple sense of Scripture. Now, let us go on, --