24. He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches: yea, and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, even for a time.
24. In pace, et in pinguedinibus regionis, aut provinciae, veniet, hoc est, in deliciis, et faciet quae non fecerunt patres ejus, et patres patrum ejus: spolia et praedam, et substantiam illis dispertiet, 1 et super munitiones cogitabit cogitationes suas, idque ad tempus.
The history is here continued: The angel shews how Antiochus in a short time and with a small band should acquire many cities, as he should come in peace upon the fatness of the province, implying his oppressing them while sleeping in security. He shews also how he should become conqueror, not by any hostile invasion of Egypt, but by cunning and stealth he should deprive King Ptolemy of his cities when he least expected it. There should be no appearance of war; hence he says, he shall come in peace upon the fatness of the land. The word "fatness" is used metaphorically for "richness." When the Egyptians supposed all danger to be far removed, and were persuaded of the friendship of Antiochus towards them, and relied on him as an ally should any adversity arise, they indulged themselves in luxuries till Antiochus came suddenly and subdued them. He next adds, He shall despise the spoil, and prey, and goods, which belonged to them. Some take the words for spoil and prey in the sense of "soldiers," and join it with the verb rwzby ibzor, "he shall disperse," meaning, he shall distribute their possessions among his soldiers, to conciliate their good will, and to prepare them for new wars, as we know how easily soldiers are enticed when they receive the rewards of their service; for they are actuated solely by covetousness and avarice. Some writers expound it in this way -- Antiochus shall divide the prey among his soldiers, but I prefer the other sense -- he shall disperse the prey, and the spoil, and the goods, of the Egyptians. After suddenly oppressing the Egyptians, he shall proceed to spoil them like a robber.
He afterwards adds, And against the fortifications shall he devise machinations, meaning, he shall lay his plans for seizing the fortified cities. For at; first he penetrated as far as certain cities, and occupied first Coelo-Syria, and afterwards Phoenica, but could not quickly possess the fortified towns; hence he deferred the execution of his plans to a more suitable time. Therefore, the angel says, he shall arrange his plans against the fortified cities, but only for the time; meaning, he shall not immediately bring forward his intentions, hoping to oppress his nephew when off his guard. Thus under the disguise of peace an access to these cities would always be open to him, and he would reconcile to himself all whom he could corrupt by either gifts or other devices. We perceive, then, how a summary is here presented to us of the arts and schemes by which Antiochus should deprive his nephew of a portion of his territory and its towns, how suddenly he should invade some of the weakest in a state of unsuspecting tranquillity; and how by degrees he should invent machinations for seizing upon the stronger towns as well as he could. He also says, for the time. The cunning and malice of Antiochus was always apparent throughout these transactions. He did not engage in open warfare, but was always endeavoring to add to his possessions by indirect frauds, -- a course which was not without its success.
When it is said, He shall do what neither his fathers nor his fathers' fathers did, this must be restricted solely to Egypt. For Seleucus the first king of Syria enjoyed a wide extent of dominion, then he prospered in warfare, and his fame flourished even to a good old age, and though at last he was unsuccessful in battle, yet on the whole he was a superior and celebrated warrior. Besides this we know him to have been one of the chief generals of Alexander the Great. As to his son Antiochus, we have previously observed the wide extent of his dominion, and how highly he was esteemed for prudence and valor. The angel does not compare Antiochus Epiphanes generally with either his fat, her, or grandfather, or great-grandfather, but only with respect to Egypt. For his ancestors always longed after Egypt, but their designs against it were entirely frustrated; he, however, was more successful in his aggression where his ancestors had failed in their attempts. Hence it becomes manifest how God overrules the events of war, so that the conqueror and the triumphant hero is not the man who excels in counsel, or in prudence, or valor, but he who fights under the heavenly leader. It pleases God at one time to afflict nations, and at another to set over them kings who are really his servants. So he wished to punish Egypt by the hands of this robber. It afterwards follows, --