28. Then shall he return into his land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land.
28. Et revertetur in terram suam cum opibus magnis, et cor ejus ad foedus sanctitatis, et faciet, et revertetur in terram suam.
Here the angel predicts the calamitous nature of that peace for the people of God, because Antiochus should turn his arms against Jerusalem and the whole Jewish people. It is said, He shall return to his own land, because he shall not possess Egypt. This return implies the victory of Antiochus, and yet his betaking himself within the boundaries of his own realm. When he adds, with great pomp, or great riches, he shews the source whence that wealth should be derived, -- his heart should be against the holy covenant. He partially destroyed Jerusalem and the temple of God. He was compelled to leave the temple and many treasures, through either shame, or reverence, or a miracle, as we read in the 2nd Book of Maccabees (Maccabees 5:2.) He would willingly have stripped the whole temple, but God then restrained him, while he had gathered for himself great wealth. Hence the angel joins the two events, he should return to Syria with great wealth, and his heart should be against the holy covenant. Some refer this to persons, as if the angel meant the people who were in covenant with God. But the simpler sense pleases me better, -- he should carry on war against God, because he was not enriched with such ample spoils as he had expected. We have mentioned his making peace with his enemy: lest, therefore, this expedition should be fruitless, he spoiled the temple of God. Thus his heart was elated against God and against his holy covenant. The other exposition is too cold and too forced.
And he shall do it and shall return to his own land. This return at the end of the verse is taken in a different sense from that at the beginning, as now he should use his own will as a conqueror, and no one should oppose his arrival in his own territories. These two expressions are to be read together, -- he shall do it and return to his own dominions. The meaning of the word for "do" we have already explained. The angel signifies the absence of every obstacle which could prevent the destruction of the city and temple by Antiochus. This was a severe trial, and would cause the minds of the faithful to be disturbed and tossed about because God gave up his temple to this cruel tyrant, and permitted the sacred vessels and the hidden treasures to be carried off with the greatest ignominy. It was necessary, then, to inform the faithful beforehand of this grievous slaughter, lest its novelty should astonish them and overthrow the constancy of their faith. Hence we gather this practical instruction -- God often predicts many sorrowful events for us, and yet this instruction ought not to embitter our feelings; for he wishes to fortify us against the trial which the novelty of the event, must occasion. Thus the angel, while treating of occurrences by no means agreeable, was a useful herald of all the calamities which must happen, lest anything unusual or unexpected should fall upon the pious. Thus they would acknowledge the affliction to proceed from God's hand; and while they were exposed to the lust of Antiochus, yet God by his certain and incomprehensible counsel allowed much license to this impious tyrant. It afterwards follows