18. After this shall he turn his face unto the isles, and shall take many: but a prince for his own behalf' shall cause the reproach by him to cease; without his own reproach he shall cause it to turn.
18. Et vertet faciem suam ad insulas, et capiet multas, et quiescere faciet, hoc est, retorquebit, princeps opprobrium ejus apud ipsum. Ideo non torquebit opprobrium suum in ipsum.
There is some obscurity in these words, but the history will afterwards determine the angel's meaning. First, as to the word "islands," he doubtless means Asia Minor and the maritime coasts; also Greece, Cyprus, and all the islands of the Mediterranean Sea. It was a Jewish custom to call all places beyond the sea "islands," as they were not very well skilled in navigation. Therefore he says, He will turn his face to the islands; that is, he shall turn to the opposite regions of the world. The Mediterranean Sea is known to be between Syria and Asia Minor; Cilicia, too, is between them, which was also under the dominion of Antiochus, although the seed of his power was Syria. Hence he calls Asia Minor, and Greece, and the Mediterranean islands, all "isles," with respect to Syria and Judea. This occurred when the AEtolians renewed the war after the defeat of Philip. The Romans were the originators of this war in Greece, and they had the honorable pretext of liberating the whole of Greece after Philip of Macedon had seized upon many cities most skillfully fortified. But the Etolians were proud and puffed up with the desire of superiority, as the event ultimately proved. They boasted themselves to be the liberators of Greece; they used the help of the Romans, but professed to be the principal leaders in the war, and when they saw Chalcis and other cities held by the Romans, the spirit of envy took possession of them. Titus Flaminius withdrew his garrisons from their cities, but yet the AEtolians were not satisfied; for they wished for the sole pre-eminence and the entire departure of the Romans. With this view they sent their ambassadors to Nabis the tyrant of the Lacedaemonians, to king Philip, and also to Antiochus. Thoas was the principal author of this contention, for after stirring up the neighboring nations, he set out himself to Antiochus. When the AEtolians were puffed up by the large promises which he brought back, they expected to produce peace throughout Greece without the slightest trouble. Meanwhile Antiochus only advanced as far as Asia Minor with but a small force. He led Hannibal with him, whose fame alone inspired the Romans with dread; and had he taken his advice, he would certainly have had no difficulty in expelling the Romans. But the flatterers of His court did not allow Hannibal's advice to prevail with this foolish king. Then Villius also cunningly rendered Antiochus suspicious of his advice: for he had been sent as ambassador into Asia Minor, had insinuated himself into his favor, and had acquired his friendship, and was so engaged in daily conference with him, that Antiochus suspected the fidelity of Hannibal to his interests. Hence he carried on that war entirely without method, or plan, or perseverance. When he arrived at Chalcis, he was smitten with the passion for a damsel there, and celebrated a foolish marriage with her, as if he had been completely at peace. Thus he had citizen of Chalcis for his father-in-law, while he was mighty monarch, unequaled by any throughout the world. Although he conducted himself thus he considerately, yet the celebrity of his fame rather than his personal exertions, enabled him at first to take many cities, not only in Asia Minor and on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, but also in Greece itself. He recovered Chalcis and other cities which had been seized upon by the Romans. The angel relates this as if the event had already occurred, and yet we are aware of them all being as yet future.
He will turn his face to the islands, and will take many, and a general shall cause him to cease, and shall turn his reproach against himself. Antiochus often fought against the Romans, and always without success, although he sometimes thought himself superior; but from the time when Attilius the prefect of the fleet intercepted his supplies, and thus stopped his progress, M. Acilius the consul began to gain the mastery by land, and his power became gradually more and more enfeebled. When conquered in a naval engagement by Livius the praetor, he suffered a severe loss, and then when too late he acknowledged his error in not obeying the counsels of Hannibal; but he had lost the opportunity of renewing the war. Hence the angel here says, A leader should make his reproach return upon himself. This signifies how Antiochus should be puffed up with foolish pride, and how his insane boastings should rebound upon his own head, as he had vomited them forth with open mouth against the Romans. When he speaks here of his disgrace, I interpret it actively, as making his reproach remain; for the word tprx cherepheth, means reproach, but there are two ways of interpreting it, actively and passively. But as I have already said, the angel more probably speaks of his foolish boasting, for he had despised the Romans with contempt and insult. We know how foolishly he insulted them by his ambassadors among all the assemblies of Greece. A leader, then, either Acilius or Lucius Scipio, who drove him beyond Mount Taurus, made his disgrace rest upon himself, and he shall not turn away his own disgrace; that is, Antiochus vomited forth his reproaches against the Romans with swollen cheeks, but with utter futility. All these disgraceful speeches came to nothing, and never injured the Romans in the least; but that leader, either Lucius Scipio or Acilius, according to my statement, returned these reproaches upon himself by which he hoped to lay the Romans prostrate, but they turned out nothing but wind. The angel therefore derides the pride of Antiochus by saying, A leader should come who should throw back these reproaches upon himself, and prevent them from returning upon either this leader or the Romans. He takes the head as representing. the whole body.
Grant, Almighty God, since it pleases thee to exercise our confidence by not allowing us any fixed or stable rest upon earth, that we may learn to rest in thee while the world rolls over and over even a hundred times. May we never doubt either our protection under thy hand, or the perpetual issue of all things in our good. Although we are not beyond the reach of darts, yet may we know the impossibility of our suffering under any deadly wound, when thou puttest forth thy hand to shield us. May we have full confidence in thee, and never cease to march under thy standard with constant and invincible courage, until at length thou shalt gather us into that happy rest which is laid up for us in heaven, by Christ our Lord. -- Amen.