Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
This chapter gives a more particular explanation of those events which were predicted in the eighth chapter. The prophet had foretold the partition of Alexander's kingdom into four parts. Two of these, in which were included Egypt and Syria, the one to the north, the other to the south, in respect of Judea, appear to take up the chief attention of the prophet, as his people were particularly concerned in their fate; these being the countries in which by far the greatest number of the Jews were, and still are, dispersed. Of these countries he treats (according to the views of the most enlightened expositors) down to the conquest of Macedon, A.M. 3836, b.c. 168, when he begins to speak of the Romans, vv. 1-30; and then of the Church under that power, Dan 11:31-35. This leads him to speak of Antichrist, who was to spring up in that quarter, Dan 11:36-39; and of those powers which at the Time of the end, or the latter days of the Roman monarchy, (as this term is generally understood), were to push at it, and overthrow many countries, Dan 11:40-43. By the king of the South, in the fortieth verse, the dominion of the Saracens, or Arabs, is supposed to be intended, which was an exceeding great plague to the Roman empire in the east, and also to several papistical countries, for the space of one hundred and fifty years, i.e. from a.d. 612, when Mohammed and his followers first began their depredations, to a.d. 762, when Bagdad was built, and made the capital of the caliphs of the house of Abbas, from which epoch the Saracens became a more settled people. By the king of the North in the same verse the prophet is supposed by some to design that great scourge of eastern Christendom, the Ottoman or Othman empire, by which, after about a hundred and fifty years of almost uninterrupted hostilities, the Roman empire in the east was completely overturned, a.d. 1453. The chapter concludes with a prediction of the final overthrow of this northern power, and of the manner in which this great event shall be accomplished, Dan 11:44, Dan 11:45. But it should be observed that, notwithstanding the very learned observations of Bishop Newton and others upon this chapter, their scheme of interpretation presents very great and insurmountable difficulties; among which the very lengthy detail of events in the Syrian and Egyptian histories, comprising a period of less than two hundred years, and the rather uncouth transition to the incomparably greater transactions in Antichristian times, and of much longer duration, which are passed over with unaccountable brevity, are not the least. On all these subjects, however, the reader must judge for himself. See the notes.
In the first year of Darius the Mede - This is a continuation of the preceding discourse. Bp. Newton, who is ever judicious and instructing, remarks: It is the usual method of the Holy Spirit to make the latter prophecies explanatory of the former; and thus revelation "is a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." The four great empires shown to Nebuchadnezzar, under the symbol of a great image, were again more particularly represented to Daniel under the forms of four great wild beasts. In like manner, the memorable events that were revealed to Daniel in the vision of the ram and he-goat, are here more clearly revealed in this last vision by an angel; so that this latter prophecy may not improperly be said to be a comment on the former. It comprehends many signal events. The types, figures, and symbols of the things are not exhibited in this, as in most other visions, and then expounded by the angel; but the angel relates the whole: and, not by way of vision, but by narration, informs Daniel of that which is noted in the Scripture of truth, Dan 10:21.
There shall stand up yet three kings - Gabriel had already spoken of Cyrus, who was now reigning; and after him three others should arise. These were,
1. Cambyses, the son of Cyrus.
2. Smerdis, the Magian, who was an impostor, who pretended to be another son of Cyrus. And,
3. Darius, the son of Hystaspes, who married Mandane, the daughter of Cyrus.
Cambyses reigned seven years and five months; Smerdis reigned only seven months; and Darius Hystaspes reigned thirty-six years.
The fourth shall be far richer than they all - This was Xerxes, the son of Darius, of whom Justin says. "He had so great an abundance of riches in his kingdom, that although rivers were dried up by his numerous armies, yet his wealth remained unexhausted."
He shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia - His military strength was such, that Herodotus, who lived in that time, informs us that his army amounted to five millions, two hundred and eighty-three thousand, two hundred and twenty men. Besides these, the Carthaginians furnished him with an army of three hundred thousand men, and a fleet of two hundred ships. He led an army against the Greeks of eight hundred thousand men, and twelve hundred and seven ships, with three banks of rowers each. As he marched along, he obliged all the people of the countries through which he passed to join him.
A mighty king shall stand up - This was Alexander the great. It is not said that this mighty king shall stand up against Xerxes, for he was not born till one hundred years after that monarch; but simply that he should stand up, i.e., that he should reign in Greece.
His kingdom shall be broken - Shall, after his death, be divided among his four chief generals, as we have seen before. See Dan 8:22.
And not to his posterity - The family of Alexander had a most tragical end:
1. His wife Statira was murdered soon after his death by his other wife Roxana.
2. His brother Aridaeus who succeeded him, was killed, together with his wife Euridice, by command of Olympias, Alexander's mother, after he had been king about six years and some months.
3. Olympias herself was killed by the soldiers in revenge.
4. Alexander Aegus, his son, together with his mother Roxana, was slain by order of Cassander.
5. Two years after, his other son Hercules, with his mother Barsine, was privately murdered by Polysperchon; so that in fifteen years after his death not one of his family or posterity remained alive!
"Blood calls for blood." He (Alexander) was the great butcher of men. He was either poisoned, or killed himself by immoderate drinking, when he was only thirty-two years and eight months old: and a retributive Providence destroyed all his posterity, so that neither root nor branch of them was left on the face of the earth. Thus ended Alexander, the great butcher; and thus ended his family and posterity.
The king of the south - This was Ptolemy Lagus, one of his generals, who had the government of Egypt, Libra, etc., which are on the south of Judea. He was strong, for he had added Cyprus, Phoenicia, Caria, etc., to his kingdom of Egypt.
And one of his princes - shall be strong above him - This was Seleucus Nicator, who possessed Syria, Babylon, Media, and the neighboring countries. This was the king of the north, for his dominions lay north of Judea.
In the end of years - Several historical circumstances are here passed by.
The king's daughter of the south - Berenice, daughter of Ptolemy Philadelphus, king of Egypt, was married to Antiochus Theos, king of Syria. These two sovereigns had a bloody war for some years; and they agreed to terminate it by the above marriage, on condition that Antiochus would put away his wife Laodice and her children, which he did; and Berenice having brought an immense fortune to her husband, all things appeared to go on well for a tine.
But she shall not retain the power of the arm - זרע zaro, her posterity, shall not reign in that kingdom.
But she shall be given up - Antiochus recalled his former wife Laodice and her children, and she, fearing that he might recall Berenice, caused him to be poisoned and her to be murdered, and set her son Callinicus upon the throne.
And they that brought her - Her Egyptian women, striving to defend their mistress, were many of them killed.
And he that begat her - Or, as the margin, "he whom she brought forth;" the son being murdered, as well as the mother, by order of Laodice.
And he that strengthened her - Probably her father Ptolemy, who was excessively fond of her, and who had died a few years before.
But out of a branch of her roots - A branch from the same root from which she sprang. This was Ptolemy Euergetes, her brother, who, to avenge his sister's death, marched with a great army against Seleucus Callinicus, took some of his best places, indeed all Asia, from Mount Taurus to India, and returned to Egypt with an immense booty, forty thousand talents of silver, precious vessels, and images of their gods two thousand five hundred, without Callinicus daring to offer him battle. I can but touch on these historic facts, for fear of extending these notes to an immoderate length.
He shall continue more years - Seleucus Callinicus died (an exile) by a fall from his horse; and Ptolemy Euergetes survived him four or five years. - Bp. Newton.
So the king of the south - Ptolemy Euergetes: -
Shall come into his kingdom - That of Seleucus Callinicus.
And shall return - Having heard that a sedition had taken place in Egypt, Ptolemy Euergetes was obliged to return speedily in order to repress it; else he had wholly destroyed the kingdom of Callinicus.
But his sons shall be stirred up - That is, the sons of Callinicus, who were Seleucus Ceraunus and Antiochus, afterwards called the Great.
Shall assemble a multitude - Seleucus Ceraunus did assemble a multitude of forces in order to recover his father's dominions; but, not having money to pay them, they became mutinous, and he was poisoned by two of his own generals. His brother Antiochus was then proclaimed king; so that one only of the sons did certainly come, and overflow, and pass through; he retook Seleucia, and regained Syria. He then returned, and overcame Nicolaus the Egyptian general; and seemed disposed to invade Egypt, as he came even to his fortress, to the frontiers of Egypt.
The king of the south - Ptolemy Philopater, who succeeded his father Euergetes.
Shall come forth and fight with him - He did come forth to Raphia, where he was met by Antiochus, when a terrible battle was fought between these two kings.
And he (Antiochus, the king of the north) shall set forth a great multitude - Amounting to sixty-two thousand foot, six thousand horse, and one hundred and two elephants; but yet the multitude was given into his hand, the hand of the king of the south; for Ptolemy gained a complete victory. Raphia, and other neighbouring towns, declared for the victor; and Antiochus was obliged to retreat with his scattered army to Antioch, from which he sent to solicit a peace. See 3 Maccabees 1:1-6, and Polybius, lib. v.
His heart shall be lifted up - Had Ptolemy improved his victory, he might have dispossessed Antiochus of his whole empire; but giving way to pride, and a criminally sensual life, he made peace on dishonorable terms; and though he had gained a great victory, yet his kingdom was not strengthened by it, for his subjects were displeased, and rebelled against him, or at least became considerably disaffected.
The king of the north shall return - after certain years - In about fourteen years Antiochus did return, Philopater being dead, and his son Ptolemy Epiphanes being then a minor. He brought a much larger army and more riches; these he had collected in a late eastern expedition.
Many stand up against the king of the south - Antiochus, and Philip king of Macedon, united together to overrun Egypt.
Also the robbers of thy people - The Jews, who revolted from their religion, and joined Ptolemy, under Scopas: -
Shall exalt themselves to establish the vision - That is, to build a temple like that of Jerusalem, in Egypt, hoping thereby to fulfil a prediction of Isaiah, Isa 30:18-25, which seemed to intimate that the Jews and the Egyptians should be one people. They now revolted from Ptolemy, and joined Antiochus; and this was the means of contributing greatly to the accomplishment of prophecies that foretold the calamities that should fall upon the Jews.
But they shall fall - For Scopas came with a great army from Ptolemy; and, while Antiochus was engaged in other parts, reduced Coelesyria and Palestine, subdued the Jews, placed guards on the coasts of Jerusalem, and returned with great spoils to Egypt.
So the king of the north - Antiochus came to recover Judea. Scopas was sent by Ptolemy to oppose him; but he was defeated near the fountains of Jordan, and was obliged to take refuge in Sidon with ten thousand men. Antiochus pursued and besieged him; and he was obliged by famine to surrender at discretion, and their lives only were spared. Antiochus afterwards besieged several of the fenced cities, and took them; in short, carried all before him; so that the king of the south, Ptolemy, and his chosen people, his ablest generals, were not able to oppose him.
He shall stand in the glorious land - Judea. For he reduced Palestine; and the Jews supplied him with provisions, and assisted him to reduce the garrison that Scopas had left in the citadel of Jerusalem.
Which by his hand shall be consumed - Or, which shall be perfected in his hand. For Antiochus showed the Jews great favor: he brought back those that were dispersed, and reestablished them in the land; freed the priests and Levites from all tribute, etc.
He shall also set his face to enter - Antiochus purposed to have marched his army into Egypt; but he thought it best to proceed by fraudulence, and therefore proposed a treaty of marriage between him and his daughter Cleopatra, called here the daughter of women, because of her great beauty and accomplishments. And this he appeared to do, having "upright ones with him." Or, as the Septuagint have it και ευθεια παντα μετ' αυτου ποιησει, "and he will make all things straight with him;" that is, he acted as if he were influenced by nothing but the most upright views. But he intended his daughter to be a snare to Ptolemy, and therefore purposed to corrupt her that she might betray her husband.
But she shall not stand on his side - On the contrary, her husband's interests became more dear to her than her father's; and by her means Ptolemy was put upon his guard against the intentions of Antiochus.
Shall he turn his face unto the isles - Antiochus had fitted out a great fleet of one hundred large ships and two hundred smaller, and with this fleet subdued most of the maritime places on the coast of the Mediterranean, and took many of the isles, Rhodes, Samos, Euboea, Colophon, and others.
But a prince for his own behalf - Or, a captain. The consul Acilius Glabrio caused the reproach to cease; beat and routed his army at the straits of Thermopylae, and expelled him from Greece. So he obliged him to pay the tribute which he hoped to impose on others; for he would grant him peace only on condition of paying the expense of the war, fifteen thousand talents; five hundred on the spot, - two thousand five hundred when the peace should be ratified by the senate, - and the remaining twelve thousand in twelve years, each year one thousand. See Polybius in his Legations, and Appian in the Wars of Syria. And thus: -
Without his own reproach - Without losing a battle, or taking a false step, Acilius caused the reproach which he was bringing upon the Romans to turn upon himself.
Be shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land - After this shameful defeat, Antiochus fled to Sardis, thence to Apamea, and the next day got into Syria, and to Antioch, his own fort, whence he sent ambassadors to treat for peace; and was obliged to engage to pay the immense sum of money mentioned above.
But he shall stumble and fall - Being under the greatest difficulties how to raise the stipulated sums, he marched into his eastern provinces to exact the arrears of taxes; and, attempting to plunder the temple of Jupiter Belus at Elymais, he was opposed by the populace, and he and his attendants slain. This is the account that Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, and Justin give of his death. But it is variously related by others; some saying that he was assassinated by some of his own people whom he had punished for being drunk at a feast. - So Aurelius Victor. St. Jerome says he lost his life in a battle against the inhabitants of Elymais. In short, the manner of his death is uncertain; and perhaps even this circumstance is referred to by the prophet, when he says, "He shall stumble and fall, and Not Be Found."
Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes - Seleucus Philopater succeeded his father Antiochus. He sent his treasurer Heliodorus to seize the money deposited in the temple of Jerusalem, which is here called the glory of the kingdom, see 2 Maccabees 9:23. He was so cramped to pay the annual tax to the Romans, that he was obliged to burden his subjects with continual taxes.
He shall be destroyed, neither in anger - fighting against an enemy, nor in battle - at the head of his troops; but basely and treacherously, by the hand of Heliodorus his treasurer, who hoped to reign in his stead.
In his estate shall stand up a vile person - This was Antiochus, surnamed Epiphanes - the Illustrious. They did not give him the honor of the kingdom: he was at Athens, on his way from Rome, when his father died; and Heliodorus had declared himself king, as had several others. But Antiochus came in peaceably, for he obtained the kingdom by flatteries. He flattered Eumenes, king of Pergamus, and Attalus his brother, and got their assistance. He flattered the Romans, and sent ambassadors to court their favor, and pay them the arrears of the tribute. He flattered the Syrians, and gained their concurrence; and as he flattered the Syrians, so they flattered him, giving him the epithet of Epiphanes - the Illustrious. But that he was what the prophet here calls him, a vile person, is fully evident from what Polybius says of him, from Athenians, lib. v.: "He was every man's companion: he resorted to the common shops, and prattled with the workmen: he frequented the common taverns, and ate and drank with the meanest fellows, singing debauched songs," etc., etc. On this account a contemporary writer, and others after him, instead of Epiphanes, called him Epimanes - the Madman.
And with the arms of a flood - The arms which were overflown before him were his competitors for the crown. They were vanquished by the forces of Eumenes and Attalus; and were dissipated by the arrival of Antiochus from Athens, whose presence disconcerted all their measures.
The prince of the covenant - This was Onias, the high priest, whom he removed, and put Jason in his place, who had given him a great sum of money; and then put wicked Menelaus in his room, who had offered him a larger sum. Thus he acted deceitfully in the league made with Jason.
He shall come up - From Rome, where he had been a hostage for the payment of the tax laid on his father.
Shall become strong with a small people - At first he had but few to espouse his cause when he arrived at Antioch, the people having been greatly divided by the many claimants of the crown; but being supported by Eumenes and Attalus, his few people increased, and he became strong.
He shad enter peaceably even upon the fattest places - The very richest provinces - Coelesyria and Palestine.
He shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers' fathers - He became profuse in his liberalities, and scattered among them the prey of his enemies, the spoil of temples, and the riches of his friends, as well as his own revenues. He spent much in public shows, and bestowed largesses among the people. We are told in 1 Maccabees 3:30, that "in the liberal giving of gifts he abounded above all the kings that went before him." These are nearly the words of the prophet; and perhaps without any design to copy them on the part of the apocryphal writer. He would sometimes go into the streets, and throw about a handful of money, crying out, "Let him take it, to whom Fortune sends it."
He shall forecast his devices - As Eulaeus and Lenaeus, who were the guardians of the young Egyptian king Ptolemy Philometer, demanded from Antiochus the restitution of Coelesyria and Palestine, which he refused, he foresaw that he might have a war with that kingdom; and therefore he forecast devices - fixed a variety of plans to prevent this; visited the strong holds and frontier places to see that they were in a state of defense. And this he did for a time - he employed some years in hostile preparations against Egypt.
He shall stir up his power - Antiochus marched against Ptolemy, the king of the south, (Egypt), with a great army; and the Egyptian generals had raised a mighty force.
Stirred up to battle - The two armies met between Pelusium and Mount Casius; but he (the king of the south) could not stand - the Egyptian army was defeated. The next campaign he had greater success; he routed the Egyptian army, took Memphis, and made himself master of all Egypt, except Alexandria, see 1 Maccabees 1:16-19. And all these advantages he gained by forecasting devices; probably by corrupting his ministers and captains. Ptolemy Macron gave up Cyprus to Antiochus; and the Alexandrians were led to renounce their allegiance to Ptolemy Philometer, and took Euergetes, or Physcon his younger brother, and made him king in his stead. All this was doubtless by the corruptions of Antiochus. See below.
Yea, they that feed of the portion of his meat - This is the proof of what has been last noted, that the intrigues of Antiochus, corrupting the ministers and officers of Ptolemy, were the cause of all the disasters that felt on the Egyptian king. They that fed of the portion of his meat - who were in his confidence and pay, and possessed the secrets of the state, betrayed him; and these were the means of destroying him and his army, so that he was defeated, as was before observed.
And both these kings' hearts shall be to do mischief - That is, Antiochus, and Ptolemy Philometer, who was nephew to the former, and whose interest he now pretended to have much at heart, since the Alexandrians had renounced their allegiance to him, and set his younger brother Euergetes upon the throne. When Antiochus came to Memphis, he and Philometer had frequent conferences at the same table; and at these times they spoke lies to each other, Antiochus professing great friendship to his nephew and concern for his interests, yet in his heart designing to ruin the kingdom by fomenting the discords which already subsisted between the two brothers. On the other hand, Philometer professed much gratitude to his uncle for the interest he took in his affairs, and laid the blame of the war upon his minister Eulaeus; while at the same time he spoke lies, determining as soon as possible to accommodate matters with his brother, and join all their strength against their deceitful uncle.
But it shall not prosper - Neither succeeded in his object; for the end of the appointed time was not yet come.
Then shall he return onto his land with great riches - Antiochus did return, laden with riches, from the spoils that he took in Egypt; see 1 Maccabees 1:19, 20. And hearing that there had been a report of his death, at which the citizens of Jerusalem had made great rejoicings: -
His heart shall be against the holy covenant - He was determined to take a severe revenge, and he had an ostensible pretext for it, for Jason, who had been deprived of the high priesthood, hearing the report of the death of Antiochus, raised forces, marched against Jerusalem, took it, and obliged Menelaus, the high priest, to shut himself up in the castle. Antiochus brought a great army against Jerusalem; took it by storm; slew forty thousand of the inhabitants; sold as many more for slaves; boiled swine's flesh, and sprinkled the temple and the altar with the broth; broke into the holy of holies; took away the golden vessels and other sacred treasures, to the value of one thousand eight hundred talents; restored Menelaus to his office; and made one Philip, a Phrygian, governor of Judea. 1 Maccabees 1:24; 2 Maccabees 5:21. Prideaux and Newton. These are what we term exploits; which having finished, he returned to his own land.
At the time appointed he shall return - Finding that his treachery was detected, and that the two brothers had united their counsel and strength for their mutual support, he threw off the mask; and having collected a great army early in the spring, he passed through Coelesyria; entered Egypt; and the inhabitants of Memphis having submitted to him, he came by easy marches to Alexandria. But, says the prophet, "it shall not be as the former or as the latter:" he had not the same success as the former, when he overthrew the Egyptian army at Pelusium; nor as the latter, when he took Memphis, and subdued all Egypt, except Alexandria. See the reason.
For the ships of Chittim shall come against him - Chittim is well known to mean the Roman empire. Antiochus, being now in full march to besiege Alexandria, and within seven miles of that city, heard that ships were arrived there from Rome, with legates from the senate. He went to salute them. They delivered to him the letters of the senate, in which he was commanded, on pain of the displeasure of the Roman people, to put an end to the war against his nephews. Antiochus said he would go and consult his friends; on which Popilius, one of the legates, took his staff, and instantly drew a circle round Antiochus on the sand where he stood, and commanded him not to pass that circle till he had given a definitive answer. Antiochus, intimidated, said, he would do whatever the senate enjoined; and in a few days after began his march, and returned to Syria. This is confirmed by Polybius, Livy, Velleius, Paterculus, Valerius Maximus, and Justin.
Therefore he shall be grieved - "Grieving and groaning," says Polybius; both mortified, humbled, and disappointed.
Have indignation against the holy covenant - For he vented his rage against the Jews; and he sent his general, Apollonius, with twenty-two thousand men against Jerusalem, plundered and set fire to the city, pulled down the houses round about it, slew much of the people, and built a castle on an eminence that commanded the temple, and slew multitudes of the poor people who had come up to worship, polluted every place, so that the temple service was totally abandoned, and all the people fled from the city. And when he returned to Antioch he published a decree that all should conform to the Grecian worship; and the Jewish worship was totally abrogated, and the temple itself consecrated to Jupiter Olympius. How great must the wickedness of the people have been when God could tolerate this!
In the transacting of these matters he had intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant; with wicked Menelaus the high priest; and the apostate Jews united with him, who gave from time to time such information to Antiochus as excited him against Jerusalem the temple, and the people. See 1 Maccabees 1:41, 62; 2 Maccabees 6:1-9; confirmed by Josephus, War, book 1 chap. 1, s. 1. The concluding reflection of Bp. Newton here is excellent: -
"It may be proper to stand a little here, and reflect how particular and circumstantial this prophecy is, concerning Egypt and Syria, from the death of Alexander to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. There is not so concise, comprehensive, and regular an account of their kings and affairs to be found in any authors of those times. The prophecy is really more perfect than any history, and is so wonderfully exact, not only to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, but likewise equally so beyond that time, that we may conclude in the words of the inspired writer, 'No one could thus declare the times and seasons, but he who hath them in his own power.'"
And arms shall stand on his part - After Antiochus, arms, that is, the Romans, shall stand up: for arms in this prophecy every where denote military potter, and standing up, the power in activity and conquering. Both Sir Isaac Newton and Bp. Newton agree, that what follows is spoken of the Romans. Hitherto Daniel has described the actions of the kings of the north and of the south, that of the kings of Syria and Egypt; but, upon the conquest of Macedon by the Romans, he has left off describing the actions of the Greeks, and begun to describe those of the Romans in Greece, who conquered Macedon, Illyricum, and Epirus, in the year of the era of Nabonassar, 580. Thirty-five years after, by the will of Attalus, they inherited all Asia westward of Mount Taurus; sixty-five years after they conquered the kingdom of Syria, and reduced it into a province; and thirty-four years after they did the same to Egypt. By all these steps the Roman arms stood up over the Greeks; and after ninety-five years more, by making war upon the Jews, they polluted the sanctuary of strength, - the temple, (so called by reason of its fortifications), and took away the daily sacrifice and placed the abomination that maketh desolate, or of the desolator; for that this abomination was thus placed after the time of Christ, appears from Mat 24:15.
In the sixteenth year of the Emperor Adrian, a.d. 132, they placed this abomination by building a temple to Jupiter Capitolinus, where the temple of God in Jerusalem stood; upon which the Jews, under Barchocab, rose up against the Romans. But in this war they had fifty cities demolished, nine hundred and fifty of their best towns destroyed, and eighty thousand men were slain by the sword; and in the end of the war, a.d. 136, were banished Judea on pain of death; and thenceforth the land became desolate. See Observations on Daniel, and Bp. Newton on the Prophecies.
Such as do wickedly against the covenant - This if understood of the Christian Jews, for the New had now succeeded to the Old, the whole of the Jewish ritual having been abolished, and Jerusalem filled with heathen temples. And he - the Roman power, did all he could by flatteries, as well as threats, to corrupt the Christians, and cause them to sacrifice to the statues of the emperors.
But the people that do know their God - The genuine Christians.
Shall be strong - Shall be strengthened by his grace and Spirit.
And do exploits - Continue steadfast in all temptations, hold fast their faith, and enjoy a good conscience.
And they that understand - The apostles and primitive Christians in general, who understood from the prophets, and his own actions, that Jesus was the true Messiah.
Instruct many - Preach the Gospel every where, and convert multitudes to the faith.
Yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days - They were exposed to the malice and fury of their enemies, during Ten State Persecutions, and suffered all kinds of tortures, with but little intermission, for three hundred years. - Newton.
Now when they shall fall - When the storm of the tenth persecution under Diocletian, which lasted ten years, fell upon them, they were sorely oppressed.
They shall be holpen with a little help - By Constantine; who, while he removed all persecution, and promoted the temporal prosperity of the Christian Church, yet added little to its spiritual perfection and strength. For many, now seeing the Christians in prosperity: -
Cleave to them with flatteries - Became Christians Because the Emperor was such.
And some of them of understanding - Disputes on certain points of religion soon agitated the Christian Church; and now, having no outward persecution, they began to persecute each other. And many excellent men, men of understanding, fell victims because they would not embrace erroneous doctrines, when professed by the state. But this was permitted: -
To try them, and to purge, and to make them white - To bring all to the pure profession, possession, and practice of Christianity.
To the time of the end - To the time that God shall cause pure and undefiled religion every where to prevail. But when is the time appointed for this?
And the king shall do according to his will - This may apply to Antiochus, who exalted himself above every god, called himself a god, sported with all religion, profaned the temple, etc., etc. But others think an antichristian power in the Church is intended; for in the language of this prophecy king is taken for power, a kingdom, etc. That such a power did spring up in the Church that acted in an arbitrary manner against all laws, human and Divine, is well known. This power showed itself in the Greek emperors in the east, and in the bishops of Rome in the west. And this is to continue.
Till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done - This is the same as what was called in Dan 8:19, the last end of the indignation; and Dan 9:27, the consummation; and means the end or consummation of God's indignation against the Jews. And this seems more clearly expressed, Dan 12:7 : "When he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people." We see this still subsisting in the Church of Rome; and it was a saying of Rabbi David Kimchi, "When Rome shall be laid waste, then shall be redemption for Israel." For the destruction of Rome and the restoration of the Jews shall fall out about the same time. - Bp. Newton.
Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers - That God who sent the evangelists and apostles to preach the pure doctrine. These true fathers of the Christian Church, and their God, this Church has not regarded, but put councils, and traditions, and apocryphal writings in their place.
Nor the desire of women - Both the Greek and Latin Church, in their antichristian enactments, have discouraged, and in several cases proscribed, marriage, under the pretense of greater chastity, to the discredit of God's ordinance, and Christianity itself.
Nor regard any god - For the mandates and decrees of that Church have been often in defiance of God and his word, for it has magnified itself above all power and authority in heaven and on earth. It professes to hold the keys, and to open and shut heaven at pleasure, both to states and individuals.
Shall he honor the god of forces - מעזים mauzzim, or gods protectors, as in the margin; worshipping saints and angels as guardians, and protectors, and mediators; leaving out, in general, the true God, and the only Mediator, Jesus Christ.
And a god whom his fathers knew not - For these gods guardians, the Virgin Mary, saints and angels, were utterly unknown as mediators and invocable guardians in the primitive apostolic Church.
Shall he honor with gold, and silver, and with precious stones - How literally does this apply to the Church of Rome! See the house of our lady at Loretto; the shrines of saints; the decorated images, costly apparel, gold, jewels, etc., profusely used about images of saints angels, and the blessed virgin, in different popish churches. This superstition began to prevail in the fourth century, and was established in 787, by the seventh general council; for in that the worship of images was enacted.
In the most strong holds with a strange god - Bishop Newton proposed the following translation, after justly finding fault with our common Version: "Thus shall he do to the defenders of Mauzzim, together with the strange god whom he shall acknowledge: he shall multiply honor, and he shall cause him to rule over many; and the earth he shall divide for a reward." The defenders of Mauzzim, these saint and angel gods protectors, were the monks, priests, and bishops; of whom it may be truly said, "They were increased with honor, ruled over many, and divided the land for gain." They have been honored and reverenced almost to adoration; their jurisdiction was extended over the purses and consciences of men; they have been enriched with the noblest buildings and largest endowments, and the choicest lands have been appropriated for Church lands. These are points of such public notoriety, that they require no proof. - Newton.
At the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him - These kings are to be understood in reference to the times of which the prophet speaks. While the kingdoms of Egypt and Syria were subsisting, the king of the south and the north applied to them exclusively: but they did not exist at the time of which the prophet speaks; therefore other southern and northern powers must be sought. These we may find in the Saracens, who were of the Arabians, who came from the south, headed by the false prophet Mohammed, who pushed at him - made war on the Greek emperor Heraclius, and with amazing rapidity deprived him of Egypt, Syria, and many of his finest provinces.
And the king of the north - The Turks, who were originally Scythians, seized on the remains of the Greek empire; and in process of time rendered themselves masters of the whole. They are represented as coming like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen; their armies being chiefly composed of cavalry.
And with many ships - With these they got possession of many islands and maritime countries; and were so powerful in their fleets, that they entirely defeated the Venetians; and at last their fleets became of the utmost consequence to them in besieging, and afterwards taking, Constantinople, a.d. 1453, which they hold to the present day. So they entered into the countries, and overflowed, rendering themselves masters of all Asia Minor and Greece.
He shall enter also into the glorious land - Entirely subdue Judea.
And many countries shall be overthrown - Aleppo, Damascus, Gaza, and many other cities were forced to submit to them; and they hold them still.
But these shalt escape - Edom and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon - These and other Arabians they have never been able to subdue. They still occupy the deserts; and receive a yearly pension of forty thousand crowns of gold from the Ottoman emperors, to permit the caravans, with the pilgrims for Mecca, to have a free passage.
He shall stretch forth his hand - He - the Ottoman emperors, have stretched forth the hand, not only on European, but also upon Asiatic and African countries. Egypt - has not escaped; it is a province of the Turkish government, as are also Fez, Morocco, Algiers, and many other African countries. And as the prophecy says they "got power over the silver and gold, and the precious things of Egypt," so it was; for when Selim conquered Egypt, a.d. 1517, he took all its spoils; and the immense sums drawn from it to the present day, and the wretchedness of the land in consequence, are almost incredible.
The Libyans and the Ethiopians - The Cushim - unconquered Arabs, all sought their friendship; and many of them are tributary to the present time.
But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him - This part of the prophecy is allowed to be yet unfulfilled; and what is portented, the course of prophetic events will show. Were we to understand it as applying to Antiochus, then the news might be of the preparations which he heard, that the provinces of the east, and Artaxerxes, king of Armenia, on the north were intending to rise up against him. But if the Turkish power be understood, as in the preceding verses, it may mean that the Persians on the east, and the Russians on the north, will at some time greatly embarrass the Ottoman government. And how completely has this been fulfilled; first, by the total destruction of the Egyptian fleet, by the combined fleets of England, France, and Russia, in the Bay of Navarino; and, secondly, by the total overthrow of the Turkish army by the Russians, in the years 1828 and 1829, when the sultan was obliged to accept any conditions that the emperor of Russia was pleased to give! [N.B. - The former part of this note was written for the first edition of this work, printed in 1825].
He shalt plant the tabernacles - He shall make a last stand in Judea, and there shall his power be smitten.
He shall come to his end, and none shall help him - All his confederate and tributary kingdoms, states, and provinces shall desert him and leave that government to come to a shameful end.
In the interpretation of this chapter I have generally followed Bp. Newton, in his most excellent Dissertations on the Prophecies, consulting other eminent authors occasionally.
From the beginning of the chapter to the end of Dan 11:30 all is very clear and plain, relative to the Grecian, Syrian, and Egyptian histories; from the thirty-first verse to the end, the mode of interpretation is not so satisfactory, in its application to the times since Christ. Yet possibly these alone may be intended; though the whole might be, with considerable ease, applied to the remaining part of the Syrian and Egyptian history. It is a wonderful piece of prophecy, and of great utility to the cause of Divine revelation.