« PreviousContinue »
DANIEL'S PROPHECY OF THE THINGS NOTED IN THE SCRIPTURR
IN TWO PARTS
IT is the usual method of the Holy Spirit to make the latter prophecies explanatory of the former : and revelation is, Prov. iv. 18,
as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.' The four great empires of the world, which were shown to Nebuchadnezzar in the form of a great image, were again more particularly represented to Daniel in the shape of four great wild beasts. In like manner, the memorable events, which were revealed to Daniel in the vision of the ram and he-goat, are here again more clearly and explicitly revealed in his last vision by an angel: so that this latter prophecy may not improperly be said to be a comment and explanation of the former. This revelation was made, x. 1, in the third year of Cyrus king of Persia,' when Daniel was very far advanced in years. For the third year of Cyrus was the seventythird of Daniel's.captivity; and being a youth when he was carried captive, he cannot be supposed now to have been less than ninety; and not long after this, it is reasonable to believe that he died. Old as he was, he set his heart to understand the former revelations which had been made to him, and particularly the vision of the ram and he-goat, as I think we may collect from the sequel: and for this purpose he prayed, and fasted three weeks. His fasting and prayers had the desired effect; for an angel was sent, and said unto him, ver. 12,- Fear not, Daniel; for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.' And whoever would attain the same ends, and excel in divine knowledge, must pursue the same means, and habituace himself to study, temperance, and devotion. The angel declares the design of his coming, ver. 14,— Now I am come to make thec understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days;
the vision is for many days. This prophecy therefore contains the fate and fortune of the people of God for many years. As it was said before, ver. 1, 'the thing was true, but the time appointed was long :' and consequently this prophecy must extend farther than from the third year of Cyrus to the death of Antiochus Epiphanes, which was not above 370 years.* In reality it comprehends many signal events after that time to the end of the world : but the types and figures of the things are not exhibited in this as in most of the other visions, and then expounded by the angel; but the angel relates the whole, and not by way of vision, but only by narration, informs Daniel of that which is noted in the scripture of truth,'-ver. 21, I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth,' as if future events were noted in a book before God : and this prophecy, being taken from the scripture of truth, is therefore deserving of our strictest attention ; and we may depend upon the certainty of all the particulars contained therein, if we can but rightly understand and expound them.
The angel first prophesies of the Persian empire, which was then subsisting. “Behold there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia, and the fourth shall be far richer than they all; and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia.'-xi. 2, • There shall stand up yet,' that is, after Cyrus, the founder of the empire, who was then reigning,' three kings in Persia ;' these were Cambyses, the son of Cyrus; Smerdis the Magian, who pretended to be another son of Cyrus, but was really an impostor; and Darius, the son of Hystaspes, who married the daughter of Cyrus. “And the fourth shall be far richer than they all.' The fourth after Cyrus was Xerxes, the son and successor of Darius ; of whom Justin truly remarks, “ If you consider this king, you may praise his riches, not the general ; of which there was so great abundance in his kingdom, that when rivers were dried up by his army, yet his wealth remained unexhausted.”+ Pythius the Lydian was at that time the richest subject in the world. He generously entertained Xerxes and all his army, and proffered him two thousand talents of silver, and three millions nine hundred and ninety-three pieces of gold with the stamp of Darius, towards defraying the charges of the war. But Xerxes was so far from want ing any supplies, that he rewarded Pythius for his liberality, and presented him with seven thousand darics, to make up his numbe. a complete round sum of four millions. Each of these darics was worth better than a guinea of our money.* * And by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all,' both subjects and allies, · against the realm of Grecia.' Xerxes's expedition into Greece is one of the most memorable adventures in ancient history. Herodotus afirms, that “ Xerxes, in raising his army, searched every part of the continent," and " it was the greatest army that ever was brought into the field ;" “ for what nation was there, says he, that Xerxes led not out of Asia into Greece ?”+ Herodotus lived in that
* The third year of Cyrus was A.M. 3470, before Christ 534. Antiochus Epiphanes died A.M. 3840, before Christ 164. See Usher, Prideaux, &c
+ Si regem spectes, divitias, non ducem laudes; quarum tanta copia in regno ejus fuit, ut, cum flumina multitudine consumerentur, opes tamen regiæ superessent. [Translated in the text.) Justin. lib. 2, cap. 10.
Herod. lib. 7, sect. 27, &c. p. 395, edit. Gale.
age ; and he recounts,I with great exactness, the various nations of which Xerxes's army was composed, and computes, that the whole number of horse and foot, by land and sea, out of Asia, and out of Europe, soldiers and followers of the camp, amounted to five millions, two hundred and eighty-three thousand, two hundred and twenty men. Nor was Xerxes content with stirring up the east, but was for stirring up the west likewise, and engaged the Carthaginians in his alliance, that while he with his army overwhelmed Greece, they might fall upon
the Greek colonies in Sicily and Italy: and the Carthaginians for this purpose not only raised all the forces they could in Africa, but also hired a great number of mercenaries in Spain, and Gaul, and Italy; so that their army consisted of three hundred thousand men, and their fleet of two hundred ships. Thus did Xerxes 'stir
all against the realm of Grecia ;' and after him no mention is made of any other king of Persia. “ It is to be noted,” saith Jerome, “ that the prophet having enumerated four kings of the Persians after Cyrus, slippeth over nine, and passeth to Alexander; for the prophetic spirit did not care to follow the order of history, but only to touch upon the most famous events.” | Xerxes was the principal author of the long wars and inveterate hatred between the Grecians and Persians; and as he was the last king of Persia who invaded Greece, Ic is mentioned last. The Grecians then in their turn invaded Asia : and Xerxes's expedition being the most memorable on one side, as Alexander's was on the other, the reigns of these two are not improperly connected together.
* Bernard de ponderibus et mensuris, antiquis p. 171. Prideaux Connect. part I, book 2, Anno 538, Darius the Mede 1.
+ Και Ξερξης τα ερατε ότω επαγερσιν ποιεεται, χωρον σαντα ερευνων της ηπειρα Xerxes autem ita copias suas contraxit, ut omnem continentis locum scrutaretur.--Erol.ws youp των ημεις ιδμεν πολλω δη μεγιςος έτος εγενετο.-Nam omnium quos novimus exercituum hic multo maximus extitit. Τι γαρ εκ ήγαγε εκ της Ασιης έθνος έν τη Ελλαδα Ξερξης;-Quam enim ex Asia gentem in Greciam non adduxit Xerxes ? [Translated in the text.] Herod. lib. 7, sect. 20, 21, p. 393, edit. Gale. • Herod. ibid. sect. 60, &c., 184, &c.
Diod Sic. lib. 11, in initio || Notandum quod quatuor post Cyrum regibus Persarum enumeratis, norem pri terierit, et transierit ad Alexandrum Non enim curæ fuit spiritui prophetali historiæ ordinem sequi ; sed præclara quæque perstringere. (Translated in the text. "Hieron. in locum, col. 1121, edit. Benedict.
Alexander is thus characterized, ver. 3,— And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.' That Alexander was “a mighty king and conquieror; that he' ruled with great dominion,' not only over Greece and the whole Persian empire, but likewise added India to his conquests ; and that he did according to his will, 'none daring, not even his friends, to contradict and oppose him, or if they did, like Clitus and Callisthenes, paying for it with their lives, are facts too well known to require any particular proof or illustration.
But his kingdom was soon to be broken and divided, ver. 4,• And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided towards the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled ;
for his kingdom shall be plucked up even for others besides those.'These particulars were in good measure suggested before, viii. 8, 22, - He waxed very great, and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones towards the four winds of heaven. Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.'
Alexander died in Babylon, “ having lived only thirty-two years and eight months, of which he reigned twelve years and eight months." In so short a time did this sun of glory rise and set: and in the space of about fifteen years afterwards, his family and posterity became extinct, and chiefly by the means of Cassander. It was soon after Alexander's death, that his wife Statira, the daughter of Darius, was murdered out of jealousy by his other wife Roxana :† and her body was thrown into a well, and earth cast upon it. His natural brother Aridæus, who succeeded him in the throne by the name of Philip, was together
* 'Εβιων δε δυο και τριακοντα έτη, και το τριτο μηνας επελαβεν οκτω, ως λεγει Αρισοβολος. βασιλευσε δε δωδεκα έτη, και τες οκτω μηνας τυτυς. Vixit annos XXXII. menses VIII. ut autor est Aristobulus. Regn avit annos XIL menses VIII. [Translated in the tevt.j Arriad lib. 7, cap. 28, p. 309, edit. Cronor.
Plutarch in fine vit. Alex. p 707, edit. Paris. 1624.
with his wife Eurydice killed by the command of Olympias, the mother of Alexander, after he had borne the title of king six years and some months.* And not long after, Olympias was herself slain m revenge by the soldiers of Cassander. † Alexander Ægus, the son of Alexander by Roxana, as soon as he was born, was joined in the title of king with Philip Aridæus ; and when he had attained the fourteenth year of his age, he and his mother were privately murdered in the castle of Amphipolis, by order of Cassander. I In the second year after this, Hercules, the other son of Alexander, by Barsine, the widow of Memnon, was also with his mother privately murdered by Polysperchon,& induced thereto by the great offers made to him by Cassander. Such was the miserable end of Alexander's family: and then the governors made themselves kings each in his province, from which title they had abstained “ as long as any just heir of Alexander was surviving."| Thus was Alexander's kingdom · broken and divided, not to his posterity,' but' was plucked up even for others besides those :' and it was divided towards thé four winds of heaven:' for four of his captains, as it hath been shown in former dissertations, prevailed over the rest, and Cassander reigned in Greece and the west, Lysimachus in Thrace and the north, Ptolemy in Egypt and the south, and Seleucus in Syria and the east.
But though the kingdom of Alexander was divided into four principal parts, yet only two of them have a place allotted in this prophecy, Egypt and Syria. These two were by far the greatest and most considerable : and these two at one time were in a manner the only remaining kingdoms of the four; The kingdom of Macedon having been conquered by Lysimachus and annexed to Thrace; and Lysimachus again having been conquered by Seleucus, and the kingdoms of Macedon and Thrace annexed to Syria.**
* Diod. Sic. lib. 19, p. 676, edit. Steph.; p. 660, tom. 2, edit. Rhod. ; Justin. lib. 14,
+ Diod. Sic. ibid. p. 698. 699, edit. Steph. ; p. 694, tom. 2, edit. Rhod. ; Justin, lib. 14, cap. 6 ; Pausanias Bæot. sive lib. 9, p. 725, edit. Kuhnii.
| Diod. Sic. ibid. p. 728, edit. Steph. ; p. 739, tom. 2, edit Rhod.; Justin. lib. 15, cap. 2. Pausanias, ibid.
§ Diod. Sic. lib. 20, p. 746. edit. Steph, ; p. 767, tom. 2. edit. Rhod. ; Justin. ibid Pausanias, ibid. 11 - Quoad Alexandro justus hæres fuit. [Translated in the text.? Justin. ibid.
Justin. lib. 16, cap. 3. Plutarch. in Pyrrho, p. 390, edit. Paris. 1624; Pausanias in Attic. sive lib. 1, cap. 10, p. 24, edit Kuhnii.
** Justin. lib. 17, cap. 1 et 2. Appian. de Bell. Syr. p. 128, edit. Steph.; p 207 edit. Tollii. Memnonis Exccrpta apud Photium, cap. 9, p. 714, edit. Rothom. 1653