Page images
PDF
EPUB

of the New Testament have made Jesus Christ apply correctly several passages from Daniel.

A close examination of all the passages relating to the little horn, will prove that its meaning ought to be limited to Antiochus Epiphanes. Compare them with the two books of Maccabees, which describe minutely the events of that time, and which, being written also by Jews, render the parallelisms more clear than any other history.

Dan. viii. 9: “ And out of one of them (the four notable horns) came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land."

1 Maccabees i. 10: “And there came out of them (the servants of Alexander) “a wicked root, Antiochus Epiphanes, son of Antiochus the king, who had been a hostage at Rome; and he reigned in the 137th year

of the kingdom of the Greeks.” Then follows an account of his conquests in Egypt, and his oppression of Judæa.

Ver. 10: “ And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. 11: Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. 12: And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised and prospered."

1 Macc. i. 20 : “And after that Antiochus had smitten Egypt, he returned again in the 143d year, and went up against Israel and Jerusalem with a great multitude, and entered proudly into the sanctuary, and took

the golden altar, and the candlestick of light, and all the vessels thereof, and the table of the shewbread, &c. ... He took also the silver and the gold, and the precious vessels; also he took the hidden treasures which he found. And when he had taken all away, he went into his own land, having made a great massacre, and spoken very proudly. Therefore there was great mourning in Israel. ... 39. The sanctuary was laid waste like a wilderness; her feasts were turned into mourning, her sabbaths into reproach ... 41. Moreover, king Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, and every one should leave his laws: so all the heathen agreed, according to the commandment of the king. Yea, many also of the Israelites consented to his religion, and sacrificed unto idols."

away

The vision of the little horn is interpreted thus by the angel :

Dan. viii. 23: “ And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up."

In 2 Macc. iv., v. is related the wickedness of the high priests, Jason and Menelaus, and the prevalence of Greek or heathenish fashions at the beginning of the reign of Antiochus.

Ver. 24: “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.”

“Not by his own power;" i. e. he did all this by permission of God, in order to punish the transgressions of the Jews.

Ver. 25: “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.”

1 Macc. i. 29: “And after two years were fully expired, the king sent his chief collector of tribute unto the cities of Judah, who came into Jerusalem with a great multitude, and spake peaceable words unto them, but all was deceit: for when they had given him credence, he fell suddenly upon the city, and smote it very sore, and destroyed much people of Israel.”

The end of Antiochus was, that he died of a sudden disease, as he was on his way to destroy Jerusalem. *

Dan. viii. 13 : “ Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot ? 14: And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed."

Judas Maccabæus cleansed the sanctuary on the 25th day of the month Casleu, in the year 148 (1 Macc. iv. 52), which would allow at most only 2095 days from the entrance of Antiochus into the temple in the year 143. But the calculation is perhaps made to the death of Antiochus, in 149; for the word cleansed is translated in the margin“ justified.” This would give about 2300 days.

The identity of the little horn with Antiochus is perceived still more plainly on reading the whole of the book of the Maccabees. The style of speaking, and the sentiments concerning him, are the same in the prophet and in the historians.f There is in both an expression of vivid indignation at his oppressions, and of trust in providence for a final restoration of the nation. In the prophecy, the events are foretold as to occur near the time of the end; ver. 17-19. Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be.” The writer seems then to have been some one living about the time of the events he describes; for many are apt to imagine their own times the last days, or times of the end; but the expression would be absurd in the mouth

* 2 Macc. ix. Polyb. in Excerp. Vales, p. 145.

. † This applies especially to the second book of Maccabees.

of one who could see further into futurity. The days of Antiochus were not the last days of the Jewish people, nor, if the writer were really a prophet, is there any reason why he should have dwelt so largely and earnestly on his oppressions, rather than on subsequent calamities of the nation. The presumption that the writer was a Jew

The things of the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, or soon Scripture after, is confirmed by the xi. chapter. An angel shews to Daniel “what shall befal his people in the latter days,” x. 14. He begins with Darius the Mede, alludes briefly to Cyrus, Cambyses, Darius Hystaspes, and Xerxes,* the conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great, and the division of his kingdom; he becomes more minute in describing the quarrels and alliances of Syria and Egypt until the time of Antiochus Epiphanes; and relates his history in a warm and impassioned manner. This is exactly the manner of historians: they give a rapid sketch of events long past, and increasing details as they approach their own. But no reason can be given why a prophesying angel in the time of Daniel should have adopted such a method. After the death of Antiochus, the prophecy, which had hitherto been minute and historical, becomes vague and mysterious, and soon closes. But Bishop Newton and others maintain that it goes beyond the times of Antiochus, and even their own. Let us, then, endeavour to clear up this point, which is so important towards fixing the character of the book.

noted in the

of truth.

* Since the prophecy is supposed to be given in the time of Daniel, it was necessary to glance at the intermediate history, in order to introduce the writer's principal topic, viz. a prophetical description of his own times. But as this is merely an introduction, he does it very briefly and carelessly, and passes at once from Xerxes to Alexander.

Dan. xi. 20: “ Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom ; but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle.”

Seleucus Philopator was obliged to pay a heavy tribute to the Romans, and attempted to plunder the sacred treasure at Jerusalem. * He was poisoned by one of his officers.*

Ver. 21 : “ And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries."

Antiochus Epiphanes, called in Maccabees a wicked root, obtained the kingdom by the help of Eumenes, king of Pergamus. He mixed much with the populace to obtain their favour, and quitted his palace to make room for Tib. Gracchus, the Roman ambassador.

Ver. 22: “ And with the arms of a flood. shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea also the prince of the covenant.”

A general allusion to the success of Antiochus in Egypt and Judea.

Ver. 23: “ And after the league made with him, he shall work deceitfully; for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people."

Josephus says that “Antiochus circumvented Ptolemy by treachery, and seized upon Egypt;" and that he got possession of Jerusalem without fighting. The prophecy seems to allude to a first expedition into Egypt, not clearly distinguished from the second in 1 Maccabees. See 2 Macc. v. 1.

Ver. 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' fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil,

| Athen. I. v.

* 2 Macc. iii. † Appian in Syr. Ø Antiq. xii. 5, 2.

« PreviousContinue »