« PreviousContinue »
" by his own industry as by the gift of God:"* but so are all horns or kingdoms whatever. Others say, that God should give him this power for the punishment of his people;† and others again, that he should obtain it by the factions and perfidy and baseness of the Jews, who should betray their country to him:‡ but these limit and restrain the meaning to a particular subject, to his power over the Jews, whereas it is said in the general, that his power should be mighty, but not by his own power.' 'His power' in general, not only over this or that particular people, 'should be mighty, but not by his own power.' The best explanation that they can give of it, who understand the whole of Antiochus Epiphanes, is that he attained to the crown§ chiefly by the favour and assistance of Eumenes king of Pergamus, and Attalus his brother, who having at that time some jealousy of the Romans, were desirous to make the king of Syria their friend: but we do not read that they assisted him in any of his wars afterwards, and neither was his kingdom strengthened by foreign armies or alliances. They who conceive Antiochus to be a type of Antichrist, offer a fairer interpretation || because Antichrist was to exercise an usurped authority, and not his own, and the kings of the earth, according to St. John, Rev. xvii. 13, were to give their power and strength unto the beast.' But this part of the prophecy, as well as the rest, can no where be so justly and properly applied, as to the Romans. With them it quadrates exactly, and with none of the other horns or kingdoms of the goat. The strength of the other kingdoms consisted in themselves, and had its foundation in some part of the goat: but the Roman empire, as a horn or kingdom of the goat, was not mighty by its own power, was not strong by virtue of the goat, but drew its nourishment and strength from Rome and Italy. There grew the trunk and body of the tree, though the branches extended over Greece, Asia, Syria, and Egypt.
The remainder of the prophecy relates mostly to the persecution and oppression of the people of God. And he waxed great
* Non propria industria, sed Deo dante.-Vatablus. [Translated in the text.]
+ Quia Deus voluit per ipsum punire populum suum.-Clarius. [Because, by his means, God designed to punish his own people.]
So Poole, Lowth, &c. Non tam ex ipso causa erit tanti incrementi, quam ex factionibus Judæorum.-Grotius. [The cause of this great aggrandisement shall not so much proceed from himself as from the factions of the Jews.]
Appian. de Bell. Syr. p. 116, edit. Steph.; p. 187, edit. Tollii.
even to the host of heaven,' (or 'against the host of heaven) and he cast down some of the host, and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them,' that is, the Jewish state in general, the mighty and the holy people,'-ver. 24, or the Priests and Levites in particular, who are called stars; as they were eminent for their slation and illustrious for their knowledge: and the host of heaven, as they watched and served in the temple, and their service is denominated a warfare,' Numb. viii. 24, 25. This passage was in some measure fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanes as well as by the Romans but our Saviour making use of the like expressions, Matt. xxiv. 29, the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the neavens shall be shaken,' in speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, this passage also may more properly be referred to that event.
Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host,' or, against the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.' Antiochus did indeed 'take away the daily sacrifice,' but he did not
I cast down the place of his sanctuary,' he did not destroy the temple. He took away the daily sacrifice for a few years, but the Romans for many ages: and the Romans likewise utterly destroyed the temple, which he spoiled only and profaned.
'And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression.' The word here translated an host' is rendered in other places, Job, vii. 1, and in the book of Daniel itself, x. 1, 'an appointed time:' And an appointed time was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression;' or, as we read in the margin, 'The host was given over for the transgression against the daily sacrifice, and he cast down the truth to the ground, and he practised and prospered.' Or, as the same thing is expressed by the angel: He shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people; 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 shal destroy many.' But Antiochus did not so mightily destroy the Jews, nor prosper in his practices and designs against them. When he took Jerusalem, he slew forty thousand, and sold forty thousand more; but when the city was besieged and taken by the Romans the number of the captives amounted to ninety-seven thousand,
* 2 Macc. v. 14.
and of the slain to eleven hundred thousand.* The Romans, too, carried their conquest and revenge so far, as to put an end to the government of the Jews, and entirely to take away their place and nation. Antiochus meant as much to root out the whole people; his malice was as great, but his success was not equal: for though his forces were victorious at first, yet they were defeated at last, and his generals,† Apollonius, Seron, Nicanor, and Gorgias, Timotheus and Bacchides, and even Lysias himself, were all shamefully routed one after another: and the news of these defeats hastened his death.
It is farther added, that he shall also stand up against the prince of princes.' If by the prince of princes' the high-priest be meant, it is very true that Antiochus did put in and put out the high-priest at pleasure, but the Romans took away the whole administration. If by the prince of princes' be meant, as most probably was meant, the Messiah, then Antiochus had no share in the completion; it was effected by the Romans. It was by the malice of the Jews, but by the authority of the Romans, that he was put to death and he suffered the punishment of the Roman malefactors and slaves. And indeed it is very worthy of our most serious consideration, whether this part of the prophecy be not a sketch of the fate and sufferings of the Christian, as well as of the Jewish church. Nothing is more usual with the prophets than to describe the religion and worship of later times by metaphors and figures borrowed from their own religion. The Christians may, full as well as the Jews, be comprehended under the name of the holy people,' or 'people of the holy ones.' And the Romans not only crucified our Saviour, but also persecuted his disciples for above three centuries and when at length they embraced the Christian religion, they soon corrupted it; so that it may be questioned, whether their favor was not as hurtful to the church, as their enmity. As the power of the Roman emperors declined, that of the Roman pontiffs increased and may it not with equal truth and justice be said of the latter, as of the former, that they cast down the truth to the ground, and practised, and prospered?' How applicable in this sense is every part of the angel's interpretation A king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences,
Joseph. de Bell. Jud. lib. 6, cap. 9, sect. 2 et 3, p. 1291, edit. Hudson. + 1 Macc. iii. iv. 2 Macc. viii. x. xi. Josephi Antiq. lib. 12, cap. 7, p. 537, edit. 3.dsen.
shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people, (or, the people of the holy ones :) 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.' And this farther opens and explains the reason of the appellation of 'the little horn.' The persecuting power of Rome, whether exercised towards the Jews, or towards the Christians, or by the emperors or by the popes, is still the little horn.' The tyranny is the same; but as exerted in Greece and the east, it is the little horn of the he-goat or the third empire; as exerted in Italy and the west, it is the little horn of the fourth beast, or the fourth empire.
But the little horn, like other tyrannical powers, was to come to a remarkable end; he shall be broken without hand.' As the stone in Nebuchadnezzar's dream was 'cut out of the mountain without hands,' that is, not by human, but by supernatural means; so the little horn shall be broken without hand,' not die the common death, not fall by the hand of men, but perish by a stroke from heaven. And this agrees perfectly with the former predictions of the fatal catastrophe of the Romans. The stone,' that is, the power of Christ, 'smote the image upon his feet of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces,'-ii. 34. Again, ‘I beheld then, because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake; I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flames,'-vii. 11. And again, the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume, and to destroy it unto the end,'-ver, 26. All which implies, that the dominion of the Romans shall finally be destroyed with some extraordinary manifestation of the divine power. It is indeed very true, that Antiochus Epiphanes died in an extraordinary manner.-He was retuning from his unsuccessful expedition into Persia, when he heard the news of the defeat of his armies one after another by the forces of the Maccabees. He set forward therefore in great rage and fury, breathing nothing but death and destruction to the whole generation of the Jews. But in the way he was seized with violent pains in his bowels; and having a fall from his cha riot, he was sorely bruised, and his inward pains grew more violent, so that he was not able to proceed in his journey, but was forced to stop at a little town on the road. There he lay in great torment,
and filthy ulcers broke out in his body, from whence issued worms and such a stench, that he became intolerable to others, and even to himself. Nor where the torments and agonies of his mind less than those of his body. He was vexed even to distraction, thought he saw dreadful spectres and apparitions, and suffered all the pangs and horrors of a guilty conscience: and in this miserable condition he lay pining and rotting till he died. This is the account that is given of his death, and confirmed by Heathen as well as by Jewish historians: but with this difference, that the former ascribe it to the vengeance of the gods for the sacrilege that he designed to commit at Elymais; the latter represent it as the just judgment of heaven for the sacrilege that he really committed at Jerusalem, and for the barbarous slaughter that he made of many thousands of the Jews; and they say, that he himself, upon his death-bed, confessed as much and which of these accounts is the more probable and credible, every intelligent reader will easily determine.
By thus tracing the particulars, it appears, that though some of them may agree very well with Antiochus Epiphanes, yet others can by no means accord or be reconciled to him; but they all agree and correspond exactly with the Romans, and with no one else: so that the application of the character to them must be the right application. It is therefore surprising, that a man of Dr. Hallifax's learning, after so many proofs to the contrary, can, however, opine, that the character "must of necessity be restrained to Antiochus Epiphanes, and to him only;" and for such reasons, and for none others than have here been obviated and refuted. The fitness and propriety of the application to the Romans will still farther appear by considering the time, that is allotted for the duration and continuance of the vision. I will make thee know,' saith the angel to Daniel,' what shall be in the last end,' or to the last end of the indignation,'-ver. 19: that is, as Mr. Lowth paraphraseth it, “I will explain to thee the whole series of God's judgments upon his people to the end and conclusion of them;" but that end and conclusion is not yet come. There are intimations in the prophets, that God's indignation against his people will be accomplished, and the final destruction of the Roman dominion will fall out about the same period. But the time is more particularly noted. One
* Polyb. p. 997, edit. Casaubon. Appian. de Bell. Syr. p. 131, edit. Steph. ; p 212 edit. Tollii. Diodorus et Porphyrius apud Hieron. in Dan. 11, col. 1131 et 1133, edit. Benedict. 1 Maccab. vi. 1-16. 2 Maccab. ix. Joseph. Antiq. lib. 12, cap. 8, sect. 1, n. 544, edit. Hudson.