20. Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? And now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come.
20. Et dixit, An cognoscia, scisne, quare venerim ad te, et nunc revertar ad pugnandum cum principe Persarum; et ego egrediens, hoc est ubi egressus fuero, tunc ecce princeps Javan, hoc est, Graecorum, veniet.
The angel appears here to lead the Prophet in vain through a winding course; for he might directly and simply have told him why he had come. It was necessary to recall the Prophet to his senses, as he was at one time scarcely master of his actions. He was not indeed permanently injured in his mind, but the disturbance of feeling through which he had passed had temporarily disarranged the calmness of his thoughts. This event both occurred and is narrated for our advantage. This is the reason why the angel again uses this preface, Dost thee know? as if he wished to gather together the Prophet's senses which were formerly wandering and dispersed. He urges him to pay great attention. And now, says he, I will return; that is, after I shall have explained to thee what thou wilt afterwards hear, I will return again to contend with the prince of the Persians. Here the angel indicates the reason for the delay of his mission, not because God neglected the groans and prayers of his Prophet, but the fit time had not yet arrived. The angel had formerly stated how the Persian prince had stood before him; meaning, he detained me, and I was obliged to enter into conflict with him, for his cruelty to the people had become far more formidable and insolent. This is the account which he gives of his occupation. But he now adds, I will return to fight with the prince of the Persians; implying, God sent me purposely to unfold to thee future occurrences, but you now know how far I was from being at leisure or shall be hereafter. I now come to be God's witness and herald of his good will towards thyself and thy people. In reality, I am the defender of thy safety, since I have constantly to fight for thee with the prince of the Persians. He means Cambyses. I follow my former interpretation of an engagement between the angel and the king of Persia, whom wicked men had stimulated to cruelty; for he had revoked the edict of his father. The angel resisted the king's fury, who was naturally very turbulent, and profane writers have described his character in a similar way.
He now adds, I will go to fight against the prince of the Persians; for Me, gnem, has the force of "against" here and in many other passages. He next adds, And when I shall depart, that is, when I am gone, the prince of Greece shall approach, says he; that is, God shall exercise him in another way. He does not mean this to refer to Cambyses, but to other Persian kings, as we shall state in the proper place. It is quite correct to suppose the king of Macedon to have arrived by God's permission; but the angel simply means to state the existence of various methods by which God hinders the cruelty of kings whenever they attempt to injure his people. He shall send the prince of the Greeks, says he. God, therefore, thus restrained Cambyses by the angel's assistance, and then he protected his people from the cruelty exercised by Alexander, king of Macedon. God is always providing for the safety of his people, and always has a variety of methods in operation. The angel desired to teach us this with all simplicity. At length he adds: --