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It might be one of the battles with the generals of Antiochus Eupator, or the treaty of peace concluded with the Jews by Eupator, or some other event considered of great magnitude at the time, and soon afterwards forgotten. But the most obvious meaning is, that the 1335 days are to reach to the end of the wonders and the resurrection. As this, however, did not happen within that time, the writer, who has been very correct in his other predictions, is wrong here; and, therefore, he was some one writing within forty-five days from the death of Antiochus Epiphanes.
And thus we have, upon the whole, a very intelligible and simple explanation of these parts of Daniel, without being obliged to suppose with Bishop Newton that days mean years; to metamorphose the king of the north successively into the Romans, the Pope, and the Turks; to run through the history of the world in search of events to fit the prophecy; and, at last, to give the matter up by confessing that much of it remains yet to be fulfilled.* The Bishop's task was a difficult one, because he considered that the prophecy must be explained so as to save the infallibility of the writers of the New Testament; whereas, if we disregard their version of it, and compare
The one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days form one of the most difficult problems; because, even if we agree to call them years, there was no remarkable event 1335 years after the setting up of the abomination or idol altar by Antiochus, to match with ver. 12. The bishop, therefore, conjectures that this abomination means here not what it did before, but the imposture of Mahomet, which he began to forge in his cave, A.D. 606; thus the end of the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five years would fall in with A.D. 1941, and commentators would be relieved of this difficulty for several generations at least.-See Diss. xvii. p. 362.
it carefully with the history of the times of Antiochus, the matter becomes tolerably easy. The abolition of the Jews' ancient worship, and its restoration by Judas Maccabæus, were amongst the most impressive and romantic events in history; and it is not surprising that at such a time men's imaginations should have been much excited, and that mystical and prophetical writings should have been published.* Those events, however, gradually retreated out of sight, and the common people among the Jews, who read very little history, applied the writing as they pleased. Thus Matthew applied the "abomination of desolation" to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans; and the writer of the Revelations, following him, ventured a prophecy that "the holy city would be trodden under foot by the Gentiles forty and two months," that is, three years and a half. Rev. xi. 2. But history proves him to be wrong; whereupon Bishop Newton conjectures, that the forty-two months, or one thousand two hundred and sixty days, or one thousand two hundred and sixty years, must be calculated from the beginning of the Reformation, and that the treading of the holy city under foot means the tyranny over the church of Christ by the church of Rome, that is, "Christians only in name, but Gentiles in worship and practice." Diss. xxiv. ch. 11.
Let us now examine another celebrated part of the four of Daniel, the vision of the four beasts in the seventh chapter, in which Sir Isaac Newton and other Christian commentators thought that they found a description of the Roman empire, of its division by the barbarous nations, of the pope, and of the kingdom of
* "The Jews, after their return from the captivity to the time of our Saviour, were much given to religious romances." Prideaux Connect. Part II. book i.
Christ. If it could be shewn that the writing does clearly describe these things, we must admit it to be a real prophecy; but, in fact, it does not bear more than a casual and imperfect resemblance to them;* whilst, on the contrary, it applies very well to the events up to the time of Antiochus. The chief cause of the embarrassment of all the commentators appears to be their following Josephus in interpreting the fourth beast of the Roman empire. But Josephus himself might err in explaining an obscure writing at least two hundred years old, and the internal evidence must weigh more strongly with us than his opinion; especially as he does not seem, from his manner of writing, to have devoted much study to the question. See Antiq. x. xi. 7.†
I venture to give a new explanation of it, viz. that the second beast means the kingdom of Media, the third Persia, and the fourth Macedonia. The difficulties which encumber Grotius's explanation of the fourth beast will then vanish, and nearly the whole chapter become clear, and in agreement with the following part of the book.
Dan. vii. 3: “And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. 4: And the first was like a lion, and had eagles' wings; and I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it."
All agree that this is Babylon, being parallel to the golden head of the image, ch. ii.
Ver. 5: "And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it be
* The reader is referred to Sir Isaac Newton on the Prophecies and Bishop Newton's XIVth Diss.
†The concluding remark of Josephus betrays a mixture of carelessness with its candour, which could hardly proceed from an earnest critic: "Now, as to myself, I have so described these matters as I have found them and read them; but if any one is inclined to another opinion about them, let him enjoy his different sentiments without any blame from me.”
tween the teeth of it; and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh."
The kingdom of Media, and not that of the Medes and Persians united, as is commonly interpreted. This agrees with the corresponding place in the vision of the image, where the second kingdom is said to be inferior to the first, iii. 39, which was true of Media, but not of Persia, which surpassed Babylon in extent and power. The kingdom of Media, from its short duration, and from its being eclipsed by Persia, was lost sight of in later times; but older authors shew that it was looked upon as a distinct and powerful kingdom before the Persians came into notice. The Jewish prophets generally speak of Babylon as conquered by Media. Jer. li. 2: "The Lord hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes; for his device is against Babylon to destroy it." Ver. 28: Prepare against her the nations with the kings of the Medes." Jer. 1. 41, 42: "Behold a people shall come from the north," (this must be Media, and not Persia or Elam, which was east of Babylon,)" and a great nation, and many kings shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. They shall hold the bow and the lance: they are cruel, and will not shew mercy . . . . against thee, O Babylon." Isaiah xiii. 17, 18: "Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver, and as for gold, they shall not delight in it. Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces, and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children." This agrees with the directions given to the bear-" Arise, devour much flesh." The Medes revolted from the Assyrians under Arbaces, and formed, by their side, an increasing empire. Under Phraortes and Cyaxares, they conquered Persia proper, the Assyrian kingdom of Niniveh, and all Asia to the east of the Halys. (Herodotus sect vii.) These are, perhaps, the three ribs in the beast's mouth. And, according to Daniel, v. 31, Darius the Median took the kingdom of
Belshazzar, the remaining Assyrian kingdom of Babylon. Herodotus plainly considered the Median and Persian empires as separate and distinct; for he says, "Thus ended the reign of Astyages, and the Medes bowed beneath the Persians, after having ruled Asia beyond the river Halys one hundred and twenty-eight years . . . The Persians under Cyrus, by thus shaking off the yoke of Astyages and the Medes, became the masters from that time forward of Asia." (Sect. viii.) The two nations were, however, often spoken of together in later times, both from their resemblance, and because each, during its ascendancy, included the other.
Ver. 6: "After this I beheld, and lo another like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads, and dominion was given to it."
The kingdom of Persia, and not that of Macedonia, as usually supposed. The four wings are perhaps the kingdoms of Media, Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt, which were consolidated into the Persian empire. The four heads agree with the four kings of Persia, mentioned chap. xi. 2. But why did the writer notice only four of the Persian kings? Since in the 11th chapter he plainly passes at once from Xerxes to Alexander the Great, one might suppose that he was imperfectly acquainted with the Persian history, or had forgotten it, which was very likely to be the case with a Jew about the year 164 B.C.; for the Jews had not then begun generally to study the Greek literature, from which our Persian history is chiefly collected. Up to that time, the Jews had attended very little to the affairs of other nations, and only noticed them incidentally as connected with their own. A regular history of Persia being, therefore, wanting in the Jewish language, a Jew living two hundred years later than Alexander might easily commit even the gross mistake of placing him immediately after Xerxes.*
* Since writing the above, I have found the following passage in Michaelis, on the Seventy Weeks, p. 112: "The ignorance of