An Interpretation of the English Bible

 

DANIEL and THE

INTER-BIBLICAL PERIOD

 

by B. H. CARROLL

Late President of Southwestern Baptist

Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas

 

Edited by

J. B. Cranfill

 

BAKER BOOK HOUSE

Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

New and complete edition

 Copyright 1948, Broadman Press

Reprinted by Baker Book House

with permission of

 

First Printing, September 1973

 

PHOTOLITHOPRINTED BY GUSHING - MALLOY, INC.

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

 

CONTENTS

 

(Return to Main Contents)

 

I                  Introduction to the Book of Daniel

II                 The History in the first Chapter

III                The History of Nebuchadnezzar

IV               Daniel and Belshazzar

V                 The History of Darius the Mede

VI               The Related Prophetic Sections of Daniel

VII              The Related Prophetic Sections of Daniel (Continued)

VIII             The Related Prophetic Sections of Daniel (Continued)

IX               The Marvelous Ninth Chapter of Daniel

X                 The Marvelous Ninth Chapter of Daniel

XI               The Marvelous Ninth Chapter of Daniel

XII              The Glorious Vision of the Son of God

XIII             The Final Prophecies of the Book

XIV             The Inter-Biblical Period Introduction

XV              The Persian Period

XVI             The Jews Under Greek Rule

XVII           The Jews Under Antiochus III and Seleucus IV

XVIII          Antiochus Epiphanes

XIX             The Maccabees

XX              The Jews under the Romans and Herod

 

 

I

 

(Return to Contents)

 

INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF DANIEL

 


This first chapter on Daniel commences with a quadruple heading:


Daniel in the Lions' Den. – BIBLE.


Daniel in the Heathens' Den. – ANONYMOUS


Daniel in the Critics' Den. – SIR ROBERT ANDERSON


Daniel in the Crickets' Den. – SOMEBODY


This quadruple heading is both logical and chronological. It is a felicitous anticlimax and it suggests that Daniel's enemies are petering out – "growing smaller by degrees and beautifully less."


The lions were truly formidable wild beasts in their own skins. The "Heathen" are only spiritual wild beasts in figurative skins. The "Critics" are German rationalists in spliced heathen and Christian skins. The "Cricketa" are English asaimilators in German skins.


In the jungle, when the lion roars, all animate nature becomes silent. When the lion is gone hyenas howl and jackals bark. When hyenas and jackals pass on the crickets begin to chirp.


Since Daniel, on earth, trembled not at the roar,


Howl, bark, and chirp, he may well ignore.


I say that these four headings are both logical and chronological. The lions of Darius belong to 521 B.C. The first attack on the historical veracity of the book, on the reality of its miracles and prophecy, quite naturally came from a heathen, Porphyry, in the third century A.D. In a fifteen volume assault on Christianity in general, he devotes the twelfth volume to an attack on Daniel, originating the substance of all subsequent hostile criticism. Centuries later he was somewhat timidly followed by the apostate Dutch Jew, Spinoza, and still later by the English infidel, Hobbes, and the deist, Collins.


So far, all these attacks on the book came from without, and so coming were easily repulsed. But, in the nineteenth century the German radical critics arose. The retention of the union of church and state by Protestantism, notably in Germany and England, let the world into the church, bringing about, among many others, two monstrous and incalculable evils: First, spiritual regeneration was no longer essential to church membership. Second, church dignitaries were appointed by the political power. In this way the pulpits of churches and the professorships in so-called Christian schools were filled not only with unregenerate men, but with atheists and materialists.


Later, when the old time heathen philosophy of Epicurus, Lucretius, and Democritus was revived in the modern hypothesis of Evolution, and its principles applied to biblical criticism, the radicals became more extreme and destructive. This speculative philosophy had been smitten hip and thigh by Paul at Athens, the home of its origin. But now, under the two evils before cited, it comes not from without, in the open, and under an honest flag, but from within and in the name of Christianity. In heart and in belief they are at one with Epicurus, Lucretius, Democritus, Porphyry, Spinoza, Hobbes, Collins, Bolinbroke, Tom Paine, and Voltaire. Indeed, it is hardly fair to the deists to be ranked with atheistical materialists. Tom Paine was far and away above many who now occupy pulpits and professors' chairs in so-called Christian schools. In the nineteenth century these German radical critics attacked the book of Daniel. Then the English assimilators, not imitators, of the Germans, came to the front.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY


In citing authors on Daniel, I need not mention Porphyry, the heathen, nor the apostate Dutch Jew, Spinoza, nor the infidel, Hobbes, nor the deist, Collins, since in the main these original fountains become the streams of the German rationalists of the nineteenth century. Then I need not cite the German rationalists for several reason: Each later critic of them knocks out or modifies the theory of his predecessors, however much he may fail in exploiting his own. Moreover, what one has facetiously said of the German language in general may be more soberly applied to the radical biblical criticism of that language, namely,


It has seven deadly sins:


1. Too many books in the language.


2. Too many volumes in a book.


3. Too many chapters in a volume.


4. Too many sentences in a chapter.


5. Too many words in a sentence.


6. Too many letters in a word.


7. Too much stroke in a letter.


Taken in mass it is as the chaos of Genesis, "without form and void and darkness is on the face of the deep." Or, like the chaos of Ovid described in his Metamorphoses. If the reader should count it worth while to explore fog banks, jungles and dismal swamps, let him go in and lose himself; there will be none to hinder. But to complete our survey in any thorough way we would need the longevity of Methuselah and the patience of Job.


So far as the book of Daniel is concerned we do not need to study any one of these German radical critics, because we may find in two accessible English books the assimilated substance of the German rationalists: Farrar on Daniel in the "Expositor's Bible," and Driver on Daniel in the "Cambridge Bible." The "silly blunders," the "cocksuredness," the "hysteria," the "contradictions," the "inveterate inaccuracies" and "the alternate kisses and kicks" of Farrar will satisfy the most morbid appetite. Driver is calmer, clearer and much more cautious in spirit, while equally void of the judicial mind and equally indefensible in his conclusions. In Farrar and Driver, I say we have the assimilated substance of all hostile criticism on the book of Daniel.


In Knickerbocker, Washington Trying explains how the Dutch burghers of old New York kept their rusty weather vanes pointing right once a day. Every morning the governor would send a little Negro to his roof to force his vane in line with the wind and the burghers would then set theirs with the governor's. So about once a year some German resets the vane of radical criticism; the next year the dependent Englishman resets his by the German's. The fact is humiliating and provokes compassion.


The presuppositions of this radical criticism vitiate all its conclusions, but they are amusing! I cite some of them:


1. There is no real miracle or prophecy. If any prophecy be verified by fulfilment then it must be dated after fulfilment and counted history cast in the form of prophecy, or else accounted a shrewd guess based on a careful study of probabilities. Any explanation is preferable to the supernatural. What cannot be accounted for on natural grounds must be rejected.


2. All statements by Bible authors must be corrected by seemingly contrary statements of heathen authors. Any judgment that finds not confirmation of the Bible in heathen testimony must be classed as unscholarly and unscientific.


3. Any uninspired version must be allowed by its variations to discredit the original.


4. Jewish punctuation of a messianic passage of the Hebrew text, though adopted centuries after Christ and apparently with a view to defeat the reference to Jesus of Nazareth, must be accepted though it make nonsense of the passage. (See punctuation of Daniel 9:25 followed by Canterbury Revisers but corrected by American Revisers. Of course Leeser's Modern Jewish version accords with the Canterbury punctuation. The nonsense made of the passage by this false punctuation will be shown in the discussion on that chapter.)


5. The interpretations of Old Testament messianic passages by Jews living subsequent to New Testament times must be preferred to B.C. Jewish interpretations, or the interpretations of Christ himself and his apostles. The semiradical critic explains away our Lord's interpretation by either attributing ignorance to him because he had “emptied himself” or knowledge, or that he merely used terms of popular belief without endorsing them.


6. The only criticism worth while is that of "the merest handful of scholars," and these must be of the type of Cheyne, Driver, Farrar, and others. They safely damn all else by simply applying epithets: "unscholarly," "unscientific," which disposition of adversaries is neat and cheap.


I do not say that these presuppositions would be expressed in exactly these terms by the radical critics themselves, but I do affirm that they are fairly deducible from their writings; that their spirit is irreverent and self-centered; that the souls of their readers are not stirred to penitence, to faith and sanctification, or to revival. They may be intellectual, but they are not spiritual.


How mightily nearly all the old English commentaries stirred the spiritual man! These radical criticisms may be to natural sight as brilliant as the aurora borealis, but they melt no arctic ice in sinners' hearts. Their light is the "foxfire" of decaying wood, without heat and little visible even in the dark. Yet at night, before the moon rises, a few lightning bugs sticking their tails together on a mullein leaf may imagine they are illuminating the world.


Sir Robert Anderson substantially makes this telling point, citing the words of an eminent jurist: "An expert witness must be confined to the witness box and to the one line of facts upon which his testimony is competent. His place is never on the bench nor on the jury. He has not the judicial mind." The very fact that he is an expert makes him too narrow to be able to fairly weigh the other facts. He will magnify out of all just proportion the relative value of his own testimony. Any man of good common sense would make a better juryman. One in a deep well sees only a spot of the sky. Ne sutor ultra crepidam. Do not understand me to decry the value of textual criticism. Its achievements have been great, though its work is well nigh done. Nor do I deny an honorable place to historical criticism. Every good expounder employs it and every good commentator gives much valuable space to it. It is easy, however, to overestimate the relative value of either. An exposition of any book of the Bible, however remarkable for scholarship and learning in textual and historical criticism, fails on the capital point of interpretation if it does not go to the heart of the spiritual matter with awakening, illumining, soul-stirring power that transforms life, molds character, and uplifts to higher destiny.


On this account Spurgeon's or Moody's method of Bible exposition will save more souls than all the books ever written pro or con on textual or historical criticism. On this account the commentaries of Barnes and Matthew Henry will produce better spiritual results than Meyer's commentaries, evincing greater scholarship. The historical criticism that, in my judgment, is most poisonous is that which, in the name of Christianity, attempts to apply to biblical criticism the methods and conclusions of an unverified heathen hypothesis, or a merely speculative theory of philosophy. Though this hypothesis, or theory, of evolution is both atheistic and materialistic, and repugnant per se because unscientific, yet it is relatively harmless coming from avowed atheists and materialists. It genders poison when it comes in the name and guise of Christianity. In countries where church and state are united and religious officers are appointed by political power and supported by the state purse, we may not be surprised to find many church and theological dignitaries utterly unregenerate. But yet their scepticism goes forth in the name of Christianity.


In this country they appear mostly as professors in so-called Christian schools that are not responsible to any organized religious bodies. Outside the Christian camp they are not formidable. But when atheists, deists, materialists, and pantheists pose as the only reliable expounders of Christianity, then the dishonesty of the masquerade smells unto heaven. The poison is most shrewdly diffused in mixed topical dictionaries, encyclopedias, and commentaries. As the articles of a dictionary or encyclopedia or the comments on the several Bible books are assigned to different authors (as in the "Cambridge" and the "Expositors' " Bibles), there, side by side, appear rankest infidelity and soundest orthodoxy. The poor young preacher, unable to buy but one Bible dictionary, or religious encyclopedia, or set of commentaries, knows not what to do, and his safest friends know not how to advise him. If he buys the "Cambridge Bible" and the "Expositors' Bible," all the light he will have on Daniel must come from Driver and Farrar, and that light on vital points is darkness. When he turns to his Pentateuch he may find the Moses of his Genesis unlike the Moses of Deuteronomy, and the Moses of Leviticus no Moses at all. These observations are stressed here because the radicals claim their most assured results in treating the book of Daniel. And if we meet what they say against the book of Daniel we need not fear them on any other book.


The German conservative critics successfully grapple with the German radical critics. For example, in Germany, Hengstenberg's series of books on the kingdom of God in the Old Testament, his series on the Christology of the Old Testament, his series on the Psalms, his series on John's Gospel, his single volume on Ezekiel, his volume on Revelation are all mighty and valuable in exposing the fallacies of the radical criticisms of his brother Germans. Hengstenberg was the favorite of a great German Emperor. He taught in the University of Berlin. So much for him in general. His volume on Daniel, together with the pertinent parts of his Christology, constitute a mine of information and an arsenal of conservative criticism. So when I talk about books on Daniel, I sum it up this way, that one can find in the translation of Hengstenberg on Daniel a good reply to all the radical criticisms on Daniel by his fellow Germans, and he can find in Dr. Pusey's lectures on Daniel (he occupied the chair of Hebrew in Oxford) an answer to all of the radical criticisms of the English scholars up to his time. Then in Sir Robert Anderson's Daniel in the Critics' Den we have the most masterful reply to Driver and Farrar to be found in any language. In the first place, Sir Robert Andersen's book looks at the matter as a judicial inquiry, and then he takes the main points and states them so one can't misunderstand them, and he pulverizes Farrar and Driver both. That book, at any rate, ought to be in every library.


The book of Daniel is written in two distinct languages. Commencing with chapter I and going to 2:4, it is written in Hebrew; then from 2:5 to the end of chapter 7 it is written in Chaldee, or Aramaic. In chapters 8-12 it is again in Hebrew. So we may say that all of it is in Hebrew except the following part: Commencing at 2:5, on to the end of chapter 7, is Aramaic, and we find about three chapters in Ezra in Aramaic and one verse in Jeremiah. So as Dr. Sampey says in lecturing to his Old Testament class, "Whoever wants to read the Bible in the original must know Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek."


Let us now consider the position of the book of Daniel in the Canon. In our version Daniel comes just after Ezekiel, but in all the present Jewish Bibles there is a division into three parts: the law, the prophets, and the holy writings, and Daniel is put in the third class. The radical critics have rashly made that an objection, saying, "It is not ranked with the prophets." They utterly ignore the principle of that Jewish classification. The principle is to put among the prophets those books written by men in the prophetic office, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, for instance. Those are not prophecies, but their authors were prophets. David was a prophet, but his office was king, and hence the Psalms, containing many of the greatest prophecies of the Old Testament, is put over in the third division like Daniel. Daniel really prophesies nothing in the strict sense. He simply records prophecies communicated to him by the angel, and yet those communications are intensely prophetic. There is nothing in the position that Daniel occupies in the Jewish order of books to speak against its inspiration, its canonicity, or the prophetical character of it.


Who was the author of the book of Daniel? For a long time the radical higher critics tried to make it appear that there must be at least two authors, one to write the Chaldee, or Aramaic part, and the other the Hebrew part, but they have about given that up, and it is now settled that whoever wrote one part of Daniel wrote the other part. The unity of the book is practically unassailable and inasmuch as one part of the book is written in the first person, repeatedly saying, "I, Daniel," whoever wrote that part also wrote the other part. So the author of the book of Daniel is Daniel himself.


Note the additions to the Hebrew text of Daniel in the Septuagint. In the account of the three friends of Daniel that were cast into the fiery furnace about the middle of the chapter, the Septuagint version inserts a song of these three Hebrews – quite a long song. That song is incorporated in the Romanist Bible. Then at the end of the book of Daniel, the Septuagint has two extra chapters, one giving a story entitled, "Bel and the Dragon," and the other giving the story of Suzanna.


I have referred, particularly, to Farrar's book on Daniel in the "Expositors' Bible" series and to Driver's book on Daniel in the "Cambridge Bible" series. I now give the summary of their indictment of the book of Daniel.


Farrar makes eight points:


1. There was no Daniel. The book is a historical novel composed by some pious Jew after the time of Antiochus Epiphanes.


2. There was no deportation in the third year of Jehoiakim as set forth in Daniel 1:1.


3. There was no king Belshazzar.


4. There was no Darius the Mede.


5. It is not true that there were only two Babylonian kings – there were five.


6. Nor were there only four Persian kings – there were twelve.


7. Xerxes seems to be confounded with the last king of Persia.


8. All correct accounts of the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes seem to end about 164 B.C.


Driver divides his arraignment into three general grand divisions:

 

I. HISTORICAL ERRORS:


1. The position of the book in the canon is against its prophetical character.


2. The omission of Daniel's name from the list of worthies in Ecclesiasticus.


3. That the book of Kings is silent as to the siege mentioned in Daniel 1:1.


4. The use of the term "Chaldean."


5. Belshazzar is called "king" and he is called the son of Nebuchadnezzar.


6. The mention of Darius the Mede as King of Babylon.


7. The mention of the "books" in Daniel 9:2 as if the Old Testament Canon were already formed at that time which is unhistorical.


8. The incorrect explanation of the name, "Belteshazzar," in 4:8.


9. The improbability that strict Jews would have accepted a position among heathen wise men. These are what he calls the chief historical errors.

 

II. PHILOLOGICAL. The language of the book does not suit the time.

 

III. THEOLOGY OF THE BOOK:


1. That "the culmination of the book is in Antiochus Epiphanes," which shows how little he knows about the book of Daniel. The culmination of the book is in the first advent of the Messiah, his sacrifice, his enthronement, and his second advent to resurrection and judgment.


2. "The book manifests little interest in the welfare of contemporary Jews." As a sufficient answer to that, read Daniel's prayer in chapter 9, which shows how much he is interested.


3. "The minuteness of the predictions, embracing even special events in the distant future, are out of harmony with the analogy of prophecy."


Note: These objections on the part of these two authors will be answered in the exposition of the book.


I now come to the attestations of the book of Daniel. The Old Testament references of course are few, as he is one of the later writers of the Old Testament, but the following are very clear: Ezekiel 14:14 and 20 expressly mention Daniel, and then 28:3 gives another special reference to the wisdom of Daniel. The second Old Testament book which I mention, Nehemiah, records the prayer of Nehemiah, in chapter 9 of that book, and is very much like Daniel's prayer in chapter 9 of his book. Nehemiah copies Daniel's prayer and shows acquaintance with it. The third Old Testament reference is to the visions of Zechariah, who came after Daniel. Zechariah evidently had the visions of Daniel before him.


The interbiblical references (references between the close of the Old Testament and the opening of the New Testament), are, first, the first book of Maccabees (2:59-60), which reference is very express. Second, the apocalyptic literature which arose after Daniel's time is all imitative of Daniel's and Zechariah's visions. The next fact I cite is that Daniel is incorporated in the Septuagint version which was prepared in a period 250 B.C. down to 150 B.C. My fourth item is that Daniel's place in the canon of the Old Testament was not assailed by Jews or Christians for 2,300 years. The fifth fact that I cite is, that in our Lord's time the book of Daniel is in the hands of the people as a part of their sacred Scriptures. Josephus, who was apparently a contemporary of Christ, and certainly lived very close to his time, since he writes the history of the destruction of Jerusalem, is very express in his testimony of the position of Daniel in the Hebrew canon and is careful in one of his books against Apion to prove from contemporary heathen authors the confirmation of Old Testament books and their general veracity as history.


When we come to New Testament references to the book, one alone ought to satisfy every man who claims to be a Christian, and that is the reference of our Lord in his great discourse on Mount Olivet, to the book of Daniel, the prophet, and to a specific prophecy of Daniel that is yet to be fulfilled. We see, too, that our Lord adopts the title of the Messiah given alone in the book of Daniel, "The Son of man," and Daniel's reference about him coming with the clouds of heaven. We find also in the teachings of our Lord and of his apostles that Daniel's prophecy about the time of the kingdom, and Daniel's prophecy about the first advent of the Messiah, and the prophecy about the second advent of the Messiah, are all endorsed in the New Testament. We find also that Paul gets his idea of the Man of Sin from a preceding Man of Sin in Daniel. We find that Hebrews II, in citing the sufferings of the Old Testament saints, includes a special reference to "the stopping of the mouths of lions," which took place in Daniel's case alone in the Old Testament history. We find that the warp and woof of the book of Revelation is founded upon the prophecy of Daniel.


I now come to the analysis of the book and we observe two great divisions:

 

I. THE HISTORY OF DANIEL


1. Daniel at Jerusalem


(1) Probable early history there in the reign of Josiah under Assyrian supremacy. (See Crockett's Harmony of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles on the reign of Josiah, and the broader harmony of Kings and Chronicles including pertinent passages from Zephaniah and Jeremiah in Wood's Hebrew Monarchy, and Dean’s Life and Times of Daniel, pp. 1-6).




(2) The subjection of Jerusalem to Egypt on the death of Josiah. (See same authorities referred to above.)


(3) The invasion and subjection of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, co-regent of the new power, Babylon, with his father Nabopolassar. (See same authorities and note Daniel 1:1-2; 2 Chronicles 26:6; 2 Kings 24:1; Jeremiah 36:11; and the Chaldean historian, Berosus, preserved in Josephus, contra Apion, 1:19, and Appendix I of Sir Robert Anderson's Daniel in the Critics' Den and passages 12-17 of same book.)


(4) Daniel with other princes led into exile.


2. Daniel at Babylon


(1) His royal descent, his beauty of person, his attainments in wisdom, and his fitness to appear in a king's court, when carried to Babylon (1:3-4).


(2) The prescribed three years' course and purpose of his further education in Babylon (1:4-7).


(3) His fidelity to the Mosaic law in meats and drinks, while taking this course (1:8-14).


(4) His great attainments in the course (1:17-20; 5:12).

(5) Explanation of the chronological difficulties suggested by Daniel (1:1, 5, 18; 2:1; Jeremiah 25:1; 46:2).


(6) Daniel expounds Nebuchadnezzar's dream concerning the luminous composite image and, with his three friends, receives great promotion (2).


(7) The great trial of Daniel's three friends and their greater promotion (3).


(8) Nebuchadnezzar's dream concerning the Great Tree and Daniel's interpretation thereof, its subsequent fulfilment, and Nebuchadnezzar's resultant proclamation (4).


(9) Apparently Daniel is neglected after Nebuchadnezzar's death, but has a vision on his bed in the first year of Belshazzar's co-regency with his father Nabonidua (7:1), and another vision at Shushan in Belshazzar's third year (8:1). Then he interprets the handwriting on the wall at Belshazzar's feast (5). In this section we consider the historical problem of Belshazzar and the annalistic tablet of Cyrus. 10) Daniel in the days of Darius the Mede, and Cyrus (9; 1:21; 10:1).


Note: In this section we consider the historical problem of Darius the Mede

 

II. THE PROPHETIC ELEMENTS OF THE BOOK OF DANIEL


These elements in the book of Daniel are chronological, connective, and developing. The first is the basis of all the others and each subsequent one develops all foregoing ones by some elaboration:


1. Nebuchadnezzar's prophetic dream of the five world-empires in the second year of his reign (2:31-45).


2. Daniel's prophetic dream and vision of the four beasts rising from the sea and of the enthronement and kingdom of the Son of man (7), which parallels and elaborates Nebuchadnezzar's dream, first year of Belshazzar.


3. Daniel's prophetic vision of the Ram and the He-goat, elaborating two points of the preceding two visions (8). This was at Shushan, third year of Belshazzar.


4. The seventy weeks (9), elaborating a point in the Fifth Empire concerning the first coming and sacrifice of its founder. This was in the first year of Darius the Mede.


5. The revelation to Daniel on the Tigris, the third year of Cyrus (10-11), which elaborates one point concerning the third world-empire and passes to the fifth, culminating in the second advent of its founder and the resurrection and judgment.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What the quadruple heading of Daniel 1?

 

2. Show how it is both logical and chronological.

 

3. What attacks were made on the book from without and when?

 

4. Give an account of the hostile German criticism of this book.

 

5. What its seven deadly sins?

 

6. In what two English books may we find the substance of this criticism and how is each characterized?

 

7. How does the author illustrate the relation between the German and English criticism?

 

8. What the presuppositions of the radical critics?

 

9. What can you say of the spirit of the radial critics?

 

10. How do the old commentaries compare with this modern radical criticism? Illustrate.

 

11. What the telling point of Sir Robert Anderson on these critics, and how does the author illustrate?

 

12. What says the author of textual and historical criticism, and what the main point in the interpretation of any book of the Bible?

 

13. What discriminations does the author make on methods of interpretation?

 

14. What historical criticism is the most poisonous? Illustrate.

 

15. What three great works on Daniel commended, and what their special merit?

 

16. What the two original languages of Daniel, and what parts of the book in each?

 

17. What the position of the book of Daniel in the canon? Discuss.

 

18. Who the author of the book of Daniel?

 

19. What the additions to the book of Daniel in the Septuagint?

 

20. What the sum of Farrar's indictment?

 

21. What the sum of Driver's indictment?

 

22. What the Old Testament references to the person or the book?

 

23. What the inter-biblical references?

 

24. What the New Testament references?

 

25. What the author's analysis of the book?

 

 

II

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE HISTORY IN THE FIRST CHAPTER

Daniel 1:1-21

 


Having devoted chapter I to an introduction to the book of Daniel we now come to its exposition. We closed chapter I with an analysis which consists of two great divisions, namely:


1. The history of Daniel.


2. The grouped and correlated prophetic sections. Following this analysis we will dispose of the historical sections before attempting to expound the related visions and dreams. In chapter I some details belonging to introduction were left to be considered in the exposition. The historical character of this book depends, mainly, upon the accuracy of its references to Jehoiakim, Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius the Mede, and Cyrus. Of course, if there was no siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in the third year of Jehoiakim, no carrying away of the sacred vessels of the Temple at that time, no deportation of captives to Babylon at that time, no Daniel of that period, no Belshazzar, and no Darius the Medo, and if the references to the fall of Babylon as connected with Cyrus are radically out of harmony with the true history of Cyrus, then we must abandon all ideas of the book as history or as inspired.


The most important of all these references as bearing upon the historical character of the book is contained in Daniel I, which is intended as an introduction to the whole book. It begins thus:


In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, came Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim, king of Judah, into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God; and he carried them into the land of Shinar to the house of his god: and he brought the vessels into the treasure-house of his god. And the king spake unto Asphenaz, the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring in certain of the children of Israel, even of the seed royal and of the nobles; youths in whom was no blemish, but well favoured and skilful in all wisdom, and endued with knowledge and understanding science, and such as had ability to stand in the king's palace; and that he should then teach them the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.


This paragraph is fundamental, and decisive on the question of historicity. It certainly affirms:


1. A siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in the third year of Jehoiakim) king of Judah.


2. The submission of the Jewish king.


3. The carrying away into Babylon of a part of the sacred vessels of the Temple.


4. The deportation of a select few of the youths of the royal seed and of the nobility (including Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, as named in verse 6).


5. It affirms also by implication the approximate age of these youths by the requirement that they must already be "skilful in all wisdom, and endued with knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability to stand in the king's palace."


6. Again by implication (v. 4), connected with the strict adherence to these youths to the Mosaic law of meats and drinks (vv. 8-16) must affirm an environment at Jerusalem when they were born, and during their youth, to produce such education and character as they possess when introduced into this story. For example, such education of the royal seed and of the nobility, and such adherence to the Mosaic law would have been impossible in Manasseh's reign.


7. Finally, the whole paragraph affirms a political situation calling for its alleged facts.


In determining the historical veracity of these seven affirmations we may look for confirmation or contradiction to the following sources of information:


1. The second book of Kings on the period.


2. The prophecies of Jeremiah, a contemporary.


3. The second book of Chronicles.


4. The book of Ezekiel, a later contemporary.


5. Any available Chaldean history of Nebuchadnezzar's time.


In order of time we first consider affirmations 5-6; that is, do we find in Kings and Chronicles a Jerusalem environment that could produce such education and character as these royal youths and nobles are said to possess in the third year of Jehoiakim? The answer is overwhelmingly in favor of the probability of the story in Daniel. Jehoiakim was a son of the good king Josiah. Josiah had been dead but a little over three years. It was in the eighteenth year of Josiah's reign that the lost book of Moses was found. The finding of this book brought about the great reformation, the great revival of education, and the purity of court life that distinguished his reign. Assuming from the attainments (Dan. 1:4) that he possessed when led into exile, Daniel could not well have been less than twenty years old at that time, so that he was about four years old when the book of the law was found, and grew up and was educated in all the later glory of Josiah's reign. This fact accounts for both his attainments and character. (See Kings and Chronicles on the reign of Josiah.)


We now seek for confirmation or contradiction of affirmations 1-3, i. e., the siege of Jerusalem, the submission of the Jewish king, the carrying away of part of the sacred vessels. In 2 Kings 23:31-36 he tells how Pharaoh-Necho, after slaying Josiah, deposed his son Jehoahaz after a three months' reign and set Eliakim, another son, on the throne, changing his name to Jehoiakim and making him a dependent of Egypt. Then the record thus continues:


In his days Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years: then he turned and rebelled against him. And the Lord sent against him bands of the Chaldeans, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by his servants the prophets.


On the same point the Chronicler says, "Against him came up Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and bound him in fetters to carry him to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar also carried off the vessels of the house of the Lord to Babylon and put them in his temple at Babylon.


These accounts corroborate Daniel thus far:


1. That Nebuchadnezzar did come up against Jerusalem in the days of Jehoiakim.


2. He did receive the subjection of Jehoiakim, who had been subject to Egypt.


3. He did carry away to Babylon a part of the sacred vessels.


4. Neither gives any other account of Nebuchadnezzar coming up against Jerusalem nor of the deportation of the sacred vessels in the days of Jehoiakim. While they do not date the coming, nor refer to a deportation of youths of the royal family and of the nobles, they say nothing against either. So far as they testify they corroborate Daniel. This corroboration is enhanced in value by the fact that Kings and Chronicles both testify that Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem three times:


(1) In the reign of Jehoiakim (2 Kings 24:1; 2 Chron. 36:67), which Daniel dates in his third year (Dan. 1:1).


(2) In the reign of Jehoiakim's son, Jehoiachim (2 Kings 24:10-17 and 2 Chron. 36:10).


(3) In the reign of Zedekiah, brother of Jehoiakim (2 Kings 25:1-12 and 2 Chron. 36:17-21).


And in every case there was a deportation of captives and of the sacred furniture of the Temple; the second time the deportation of both was larger than the first and the third time larger than the second. It was ever-increasing severity as the rebellions were repeated. The corroboration is clinched by this additional testimony: Jehoiakim, having in his third year submitted to Nebuchadnezzar, did not rebel against him until three years later (2 Kings 24:1), and so there was no reason for a siege of Jerusalem in the campaign following the battle of Charchemish, which occurred in his fourth year (Jer. 46:2). It was two years after the battle of Charchemish before Jehoiakim rebelled. As the power of Egypt was completely broken by the Charchemish campaign, this rebellion could not have been formidable. It continued, however, through the rest of his reign. In the latter part of his reign Nebuchadnezzar prepares to punish him. His armies arrive, however, after Jehoiakim's death in the three months' reign of his son, and before the siege is concluded Nebuchadnezzar himself arrives (2 Kings 24:1012), and one year after, the campaign following the battle was closed, for we find Nebuchadnezzar back in Babylon the next year (Dan. 2:1).


We now turn to Jeremiah for confirmation or contradiction of affirmations 1, 2, and 3. The only prophecy in the book of Jeremiah directly against Jehoiakim is found in chapter 22:1823, which has no bearing on the matter in hand, unless (which is barely possible) this expression, "The wind shall feed all thy shepherds and thy lovers shall go into captivity," refers to the deportation in his third year. There is a prophecy against the people: "in the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim" (Jer. 26. 1). There are prophecies also dated in the fourth and fifth years of his reign (Jer. 36). The only passage clearly in point is found in Jeremiah 35:11. The chapter begins: "The word which came unto Jeremiah from Jehovah in the days of Jehoiakim." The matter touches the Rechabites who thus account for their presence in Jerusalem: "But it came to pass, when Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came up into the land, that we said, come, and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans, and for fear of the army of the Syrians; so we dwell at Jerusalem."


On this strong and pertinent testimony note:


(1) Its grouping. It is immediately followed by a prophecy of the fourth year of Jehoiakim (Jer. 36:1), and that immediately by an account dated in his fifth year (36:9).


(2) These Rechabites were already dwelling in Jerusalem.


(3) They had left their homes to seek safety there, fleeing before an invasion led by Nebuchadnezzar with a combined army of Chaldeans and Syrians. Compare the statement of the Rechabites with 2 Kings 24:1-2, which refers first to Nebuchadnezzar's invasion of Jehoiakim, and adds: "And the Lord sent against him (Jehoiakim) bands of the Chaldeans, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon," from all which appears the quadruple composition of Nebuchadnezzar's forces in his first invasion of Judah.


The only way in which the assailants of Daniel I: I seek to evade the decisive force of this testimony from Jeremiah is to arbitrarily detach it from its grouping and assign it to the latter part of Jehoiakim's reign, in which period no Bible authority puts an invasion of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar. Moreover and especially, an invasion in the latter part of Jehoiakim's reign would jam it up against the second invasion by Nebuchadnezzar, which occurred in the three months of Jehoiachin'8 reign (2 Kings 24:8-12; 2 Chron. 36:8-10). It is incredible that there should be two such invasions by Nebuchadnezzar within & few months. Armies could not have been twice mobilized and moved such distances and with such transporation in such short space of time. A military man with the maps before him showing how a Babylonian army must first be moved up the Euphrates to Charchemish, thence by Damascus to combine with the Syrians, thence down the left bank of the Jordan to combine with the Moabites and Ammonites, and thence to Jerusalem, and also having knowledge of the country to be passed over and the transport system of that day, would not believe it possible that two such expeditions could be conducted in the time limits arbitrarily assigned by civilian critics.


Dr. Farrar, in a paragraph bristling with other blunders, says, "It was only after the battle of Charchemish that any siege of Jerusalem would have been possible." Truth reverses this statement. It was only after Nebuchadnezzar's capture of Jerusalem in the third year of Jehoiakim that the battle of Charchemish became possible. This is the reasoning:


1. Pharaoh-Necho was lord suzerain of Jehoiakim (2 Kings 23:34), having made him king.


2. In the third year of Jehoiakim Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah, took Jerusalem, and Jehoiakim became his servant. But Nebuchadnezzar is called home by his father's death, and himself becomes king of Babylon (Dan. 1:1; Jer. 25:1).


3. Nebuchadnezzar, being away and his armies withdrawn, Pharaoh-Necho, who had been mobilizing his armies during Nebuchadnezzar's invasion of his dependencies, marches rapidly against Babylon the following year.


4. Nebuchadnezzar, now king, has time only to meet him at Charchemish at the passage of the Euphrates, and there in the fourth year of Jehoiakim gains a decisive victory (Jer. 25:1; 46:2).


5. There could have been no siege of Jerusalem after the battle of Charchemish, and in that campaign, because Jehoiakim, after his submission in his third year, did not rebel until his sixth year (2 Kings 24:1-2), and the campaign commencing with the battle of Charchemish in his fourth year (Jer. 46:2) and in the first year of Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 25:1), was ended that very year, for we find Nebuchadnezzar back at Babylon in his second year (Dan. 2:1).


6. What the united and unbroken Bible testimony declares is confirmed in some of its details by the Chaldean historian Berosus, as preserved in Josephus, Jewish Antiquities X, 11:1, and Contra Apion 1:19. Berosus says -


(1) Nebuchadnezzar was but a young man at the time of his first westward campaign against Egypt and its dependencies, and only represented his aged and infirm father Nabopolassar.


(2) While prosecuting this campaign he learned of his father's death and committing "the captives he had taken from the Jews, Phenicians, and Syrians, and of the nations belonging to Egypt to some of his friends, that they might conduct that part of the forces that had on heavy armor to Babylonia by the usual circuitous route, while he himself went in haste, having but a few with him, over the desert to Babylon and became king."


But Jeremiah (25:1) says that Nebuchadnezzar did not become king until the fourth year of Jehoiakim, hence the preceding campaign in which he had taken "captives of Jews" was in the third year of Jehoiakim and so harmonizes with Daniel 1:1. Only a desperate radical critic could put this rapid journey of Nebuchadnezzar's "over the desert" after the battle of Charchemish because (1) the straight road from Charchemish to Babylon was down the Euphrates and outside of the desert; (2) there was no occasion to return to Babylon after that battle, as he was already king (Jer. 25:1) ; (3) he could not in that battle have gained "captives of Jews" because they submitted the year before, and did not rebel until two years after the battle (Dan. 1:1 and 2 Kings 24:1).


I do not affirm that Berosus or Josephus gives clear accounts throughout. Both of them muddle and jumble matters as if they were radical critics, particularly Josephus in his own account of Daniel. But Daniel, Jeremiah, Kings, and Chronicles coincide throughout.


We have already said that Daniel I affirms by implication a political situation to justify its statements. That political situation we find in Kings, Jeremiah, and Chronicles. The kingdom of Judah in Josiah's time was sandwiched between the two great powers, Egypt and Assyria. Judah was a dependence of Assyria. Pharaoh-Necho slew Josiah and broke the Assyrian power at the first battle of Charchemish and deposed one son of Josiah and set up another, Jehoiakim, tributary to himself. But in the meantime Nabopolassar had made Babylon a greater power than Assyria had been. He would not rest content while Egypt held all Syria and Palestine, blocking his way to the Mediterranean Sea. So, being himself old and infirm, he sends his young son, Nebuchadnezzar, to follow the old line of invasion adopted by Chedorlaomer in the days of Abraham (Gen. 14) ; Syria, Ammon, Moab and Jerusalem fall before him (2 Kings 24:1-2, and 2 Chron. 36:6-7; Jer. 35:11; Dan. 1:1). This the third year of Jehoiakim. News of his father's death stops his victorious campaign. His armies, with the prisoners, are sent back the long way they had come, and he himself rapidly returns the short way across the desert. Arriving he is made king. Pharaoh-Necho, aroused by this conquest of his dependencies and encouraged by the withdrawal of Nebuchadnezzar's army, pushes his own army rapidly to Charohemish, the strategical passage of the Euphrates. Nebuchadnezzar, now king, meets him at Charchemish, fourth year of Jehoiakim and first year of his own reign (Jer. 46:1-12). The campaign is concluded in the year, and the next year or second year of Nebuchadnezzar he is back in Babylon examining into the proficiency of the captives taken in his first invasion (Dan. 2:1). This same year (second of Nebuchadnezzar's and fifth of Jehoiakim's), Jehoiakim prepares to rebel against the solemn warnings of Jeremiah (Jer. 36:9-31), and the next year he does rebel (2 Kings 24:1), and thus brings about the second invasion by Nebuchadnezzar in the three months' reign of his son (2 Kings 24:10-12).


We conclude the argument on this point with the testimony of Ezekiel, a fellow exile and contemporary of Daniel, given some years later, bearing upon the fact that Daniel was a well known historical personage, and bearing witness to his remarkable righteousness and wisdom. In the days of Abraham God promised to spare Sodom if ten righteous men could be found in it. But, speaking concerning the awful back-sliding of Israel both in Judea and in exile, God says twice to Ezekiel: "Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness" (Ezek. 14:14, 20). And to the king of Tyre he says, "Art thou wiser than Daniel?" It is not merely puerile to deny these references of Ezekiel to the Daniel of this book and ascribe them to some man unknown to history or tradition, but it suggests an incorrigible aversion from the belief of the truth akin to judicial blindness. Solomon's fame for wisdom filled the world when he was but a young man. And to decry this testimony on account of Daniel's youth ignores the fact that God gave to Daniel his wisdom as he had given it to Solomon, and that when Ezekiel wrote, Daniel was in his prime and occupied a position of worldwide importance.


We have thus corroborated every historical particular in the first chapter of Daniel. There was just the political situation to call forth its alleged facts. Ezekiel, a contemporary, certifies to the person, righteousness and wisdom of Daniel. There is no other Daniel known to history or tradition to whom his words can apply. The first book of Maccabees expressly refers to the Daniel of this book. Our Lord expressly certifies to his person and his prophecy. Zechariah borrows from the symbolism of his visions and Nehemiah imitates his prayer. Berosus, the Chaldean historian, corroborates the statement (Dan. 1:1), that there was a deportation of Jewish captives in Nebuchadnezzar's first invasion of Judea, and both Berosus and Jeremiah confirm his statement (Dan 1:5) – "Three years" – and Dan. 2:1) that Nebuchadnezzar was only vice-regent in this first campaign, but became king at its close.


The current testimony of all the witnesses explains how this first campaign roused Egypt and led to the battle of Charchemish, at which time Nebuchadnezzar was king and had no occasion to return immediately thereafter to Babylon, but finished the campaign the same year, completely breaking the power of Egypt (2 Kings 24:7), and was back in Babylon in his second year (Dan. 2:1), which was consonant with Jehoiakim's fifth year. That Jehoiakim, against the repeated warnings of Jeremiah, rebelled in his sixth year, though Egypt was not now in position to help him, which rebellion led to Nebuchadnezzar's second siege of Jerusalem three months after his death. When, then, Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Chronicles corroborate the minute particulars of this first chapter, and both inter-biblical records and traditions, and the whole weight of New Testament authority confirm it, we cannot explain Driver's "doubt" of its accuracy, nor Farrar's bold denial of its truth on any theory of fairness, friendliness, and reverence toward Old Testament books. If the reader will examine the first appendix to Sir Robert Anderson's Daniel in the Critics' Den, he will find the statement of Daniel I: I confirmed by the strictest test of chronology.


The statement in this first chapter that certain noble youths, remarkable for physical beauty, education, wisdom, and courtly bearing, were led captive and trained in the language and learning of their captors with a view to service in the palace, is in line with all Oriental history, ancient or modern. The attainments of Daniel in the learning of the Chaldeans finds a parallel in both Joseph and Moses in Egypt under somewhat similar conditions; so no allegation in this chapter has an air of improbability.


Having thus examined at length and critically the historical introduction to the book, we may advance more rapidly in dealing with the rest of the historical sections of Daniel's life, which extended to the third year of Cyrus. Modern archeological research has brought to light so much information on the religion, laws, customs, learning, architecture, agriculture, commerce, business habits, and everyday life of the of the ancient Babylonians that we may construct a mind picture of the great city and its people as Daniel saw them six hundred years before Christ, that would be almost as faithful in detail as a mental impression gained by a visit to Paris, Berlin, or London. The reader will find just such a picture in the second chapter of Deane's Daniel, His Life and Times. By all means read it and extend your reading when you can to all the authorities he cites. It does not lie within the purpose or compass of these discussions to go into such details.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. Upon what does the historical character of this book mainly depend and, in general, what the argument?

 

2. What the most important reference as bearing upon the historical character of the book and what relation does the first chapter of Daniel bear to the whole book?

 

3. What the affirmations of Daniel 1:1-4?

 

4. To what sources may we look for confirmation or contradiction of these affirmations?

 

5. What the proof that there was an environment in Jerusalem conducive to the education and character of the royal youths such as Daniel and his comrades are here said to have had?

 

6. What the proof of the siege of Jerusalem and the carrying away captives in 2 -Kings and how confirmed by 2 Chronicles?

 

7. What the proof from Jeremiah?

 

8. How do assailants of Daniel 1:1 seek to evade the force of the testimony of Jeremiah and what the reply?

 

9. What Dr. Farrar's statement about the siege of Jerusalem, what is really the truth of the matter, and what the arguments?

 

10. What the testimony of Berosus on this point and what its bearing?

 

11. What the testimony of Jeremiah on this point and what the arguments here against the position of the radical critics?

 

12. What the proof that the political situation at that time justifies the statements in Daniel I?

 

13. What the testimony of Ezekiel and its argument?

 

14. What the summary of the proof of a historical and personal Daniel?

 

15. Give a restatement of the facts related to the battle of Charchemish.

 

16. What the circumstantial proof of the accuracy of the history in Daniel I pertaining to the "youths" and what parallels in the Bible of this case?

 

17. How have we in modern times become acquainted with all the details of life in Babylon in the times of Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar?

 

 

III

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE HISTORY OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR

Daniel 2:1 to 4:37

 


The history contained and involved Daniel I, because it is fundamental to the rest of the book, and because it is most contested, hag been elaborately examined in the preceding chapter. With the foundation thus firmly established, we may proceed more rapidly in the consideration of the rest of the historical sections of the book.


Chapter 2 commences with an important date, the second year of Nebuchadnezzar. We have seen from the preceding chapter that Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem, made its king tributary, and led Daniel into captivity, in the third year of Jehoiakim; that on this expedition he was only co-regent with his father, but was called home suddenly by the news of his father's death, so that in the fourth year of Jehoiakim he became sole king (Jer. 25:1), and the same year as king he defeated the invading Egyptians at the second battle of Charchemish near the fords of the Euphrates (Jer. 46:2). The victory was so decisive that he finished that year the campaign which gave him all the Syrian and Palestinian country to the river of Egypt. We say he finished the Charchemish campaign that year, for this chapter (2:1) finds him back in Babylon some time later, doubtless in his second year.



It is in this year he had the dream of the great image destroyed by the little stone cut out of the mountain, or the succession of five great world empires which will be considered carefully when we come to the exposition of the prophetic sections. Because of his interpretation of this dream Daniel and his friends receive great honors. Our record says, "Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshiped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours to him. The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth your God is the God of gods, and the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou hast been able to reveal this secret. Then the king made Daniel great, and gave him many great gifts, and made him to rule over the whole province of Babylon, and to be chief governor over all the wise men of Babylon. And Daniel requested of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel was in the gate of the king" (2:46-49).


He is now not only the chief of all the wise men, a very influential body, but is prime minister of all the empire. As it is a world empire, the governmental affairs of the known world are in his hands. His purity of life and his incorruptible integrity in the administration of public affairs soon gives him such a reputation for righteousness throughout the world as later to call forth a tribute from his fellow captive and contemporary, Ezekiel, which associates him with the two men most remarkable for righteousness at that date in the world's history (Ezek. 14:14,20).


Tyre, on the Phenician coast, had also become tributary to Babylonia. But the king of Tyre, meditating the rebellion which would soon bring Nebuchadnezzar to destroy his city, imagined he knew more about politics and public administration of affairs than anybody else. This calls forth another tribute to Daniel by Ezekiel when he ironically says to the king of Tyre, "Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that is hidden from thee!" The reference here is very obvious to Daniel's God-given wisdom and his selection by the Almighty to be a revealer of secrets set forth in Daniel 2. And the pertinence of the allusion becomes more apparent when we consider that it is Daniel's wise administration of the world's affairs, including those of Tyre, against which the king of Tyre proposes to rebel. There is nothing in the world's literature more exquisite as a classical gem than this prophecy of Ezekiel against Tyre. (See Ezek. 26-28.)


When we consider the relation of Tyre to Daniel and Babylon at this very juncture, nothing but the most incorrigible perversity and wilful blindness could induce a radical critic to refer these allusions of Ezekiel to a Daniel unknown to history or tradition, and to deny their reference to the well-known Daniel of this book, the only man on earth at that time, before or since, whose relations to the matters in hand could justify the allusions.


Attention is here called to the frequent instances in history when alien Jews, on account of their capacity, have been promoted to the management of national affairs: Joseph in Egypt, Daniel in Babylon, Mordecai in Persia, Disraeli in England, Judah P. Benjamin in the Southern Confederacy. The history in Daniel 3 relates, not directly to him, but to his three friends. And as the record is so plain we need not do more than make clear a few points in the story. That Nebuchadnezzar, in his exaltation to the sovereignty of the world, should be inflated with abnormal pride and count himself worthy of divine honors is no strange thing, particularly when we call to mind the existence of that evil spirit, the prince of this world, at all times ready to tempt men to idolatry, or to any form of worship that will deny the only true God. In our Lord's great prophecy which refers to the "abomination of desolation" spoken of by Daniel, the prophet, we find the Greek word "Bdelugma" translated "abomination," to mean an idol, an image for worship, and therefore an "abomination." Probably that idol, or image, was the effigy of Caesar on the Roman standard which the soldiers worshiped by imperial command. There is a thrilling account by Josephus, in Jewish Antiquities, of the revolt of the Jews because Pilate had the legion from Caesarea to bring these idol standards and to "introduce" them by might into the holy city. Inasmuch as the desolation of Jerusalem was to be accomplished by Roman armies, and as these armies carried standards on which were idol effigies of Caesar, we can see why Daniel would call the Roman standard an abomination of desolation. If, much later in the world’s history, all the Caesars assumed divine honors and demanded worship of their images, we should not find it incredible that Nebuchadnezzar should erect this image in the plain of Dura.


We may trust a radical critic, however, to find some ground of objection against the history. Three of their objections I now cite and answer, as follows:


1. The available gold of the world would not suffice for the material of that colossal image, ninety feet high and nine feet wide. Those who are familiar with the financial arguments of Bryan's first campaign for the presidency will recall "Coin's" dramatic description of the smallness of the room whose cubic capacity would hold all the gold of the world. But these critics ignore the fact that these images were not solid but hollow like the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, and that probably the component sections were not solid gold but only plated or gilt. Gold is one of the most malleable of all metals. A single grain of gold can be hammered out until it will cover fifty square inches. It would not have strained Nebuchadnezzar's credit to gild or plate that image.


2. But the critics blow the trumpet of doubt when they find among the names of the musical instruments enumerated in verses 4 and 10, one or two Greek words, which they say could not have been known in Babylon at this date and therefore the author must belong to the times after Antiochus Epiphanes. It is hardly worth while to notice this philological objection since objections on the ground of philology have been either virtually abandoned by many of the later critics or little stress given to them. It is true the book of Daniel deals only with the Greek Empire prophetically, commencing with Alexander the Great, yet unborn, but Greek language and literature preceded Alexander very many years and were widely diffused before Daniel's time. The Greek name of an instrument of music would naturally follow the instrument. From the time that Nebuchadnezzar gained the Mediterranean coast, and long before there was communication with Greece (not yet an empire of course) through Pheonician ships and overland routes of commerce (read particularly Ezekiel 27). But Dr. Pusey, one of the ripest scholars of Europe, denies that there is even one Greek word in the book of Daniel.


3. Of course they regard the miraculous preservation of the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace as altogether incredible. How their gorge rises in them when a miracle appears! A close student of Bible miracles cannot fail to note that they appear in groups of great epochs in the history of the kingdom of God – the times of Moses, of Elijah and Elisha, of Isaiah and Daniel, of our Lord and his apostles. And always the times call for mighty demonstrations of divine power. I call attention to the old heathen literary maxim: "Never introduce a god into your story unless there be a necessity for a god, and when introduced let his words and deeds be worthy of a god." Of course the author of the maxim is looking only to an artistic standard of literary taste, and yet his words contain a principle that justifies all biblical miracles. There is always an occasion for them. They are never needless or out of harmony with the conditions. And particularly in this instance as in the memorable case of Elijah and the prophets of Baal, there was a distinct issue between Jehovah and idolatry which called for the divine interposition, as we see in verse 15. These three Hebrews had openly refused to obey the king's mandate to worship the image. They were formally brought before him in the presence of his people. The king once more peremptorily demanded obedience and challenged any god to deliver from his wrath if they again disobeyed.


Aesop, in one of his fables, justly rebukes a wagoner for calling on the demigod, Hercules, when all that was needed was to put his own shoulder to the wheel. No human power could have helped these martyrs in that furnace, and only the supernatural intervention could have brought Nebuchadnezzar to his right mind. The New Testament certifies the miracle: "By faith they quenched the violence of fire" (Heb. 11:34). One incident of this preservation has impressed the world, and teaches a lesson of transcendent importance to God’s people: "Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors) Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."


The great lesson is the actual presence of God with his people in all their trials and afflictions. This time the Presence was made visible. But whether visible to the natural eye or only to the spiritual eye, the fact of that Presence has been, throughout the ages of unspeakable comfort to all persecuted for righteousness' sake or in sore straits from any cause. It has inspired lofty songs and given wings to praise. David, in that matchless hymn concerning the good shepherd, sings:
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.


It is the glorious assurance of the great commission: "Lo, I am with you all the days, even unto the end of the world." In the absence of our Lord in heaven this doctrine of the Divine Presence prevents the sense and loneliness of orphanage. Says our Lord, on the eve of his departure) "I will not leave you orphans. I come unto you. . . . If any man love me, he will keep my words: and my father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him" (John 14:18, 23). Nebuchadnezzar, an outsider, and challenging God's intervention, needed natural sight to convince him. We need it not. The manifestation of the Presence is more vivid, more realizable) because made evident to the soul's senses. Let us keep on singing that grand old Baptist hymn:
Fear not; I am with thee; O be not dismayed, I am thy God, and will still give thee aid: I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand. When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply: The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design Thy dross to consume, thy gold to refine.


To the end of time the reply of these three men to Nebuchadnezzar's imperious demand will develop moral heroes: "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego answered and said unto the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." The world would become corrupt as before the flood and evoke condign and sweeping wrath from heaven were it not that in every generation some heroes of faith, like these men, arise to save it by their sublime devotion to the paramount law of God. The whole book of Daniel breeds heroes.


More than once already have I called attention to the variant readings of the Septuagint, or Greek version. We must understand first, that a translation is not inspired. Then we should understand that Ptolemy, king of Egypt, for whose great library this version was made, was seeking literature, not religion. Sometimes this version is a paraphrase, not a translation. Sometimes it incorporates traditions and even whole books, belonging indeed to later Jewish literature, but not found in the Hebrew nor reckoned by the Jews as canonical. Hence we need not be surprised to find incorporated in this third chapter of Daniel a section longer than the rest of the chapter. It sandwiches between verses 23 and 24 sixty-seven other verses, consisting of three parts:


1. After stating that these men had fallen down bound when thrown into the furnace, it says that they arose and walked in the flame. Then Azarias (i.e., Abed-nego) offered a prayer much like Daniel's prayer in chapter 8. Indeed, it is evidently modeled on that prayer, but it contains one untrue statement, which was true, however, in the time of the apochryphal book from which it seems to be quoted.


2. It contains a brief statement to this effect: That Nebuchadnezzar's servants kept on adding fuel to feed the flames of the furnace, but that God's angel entered the furnace with the martyrs and blew all the flames out of the furnace and made all its interior as cool as if a gentle breeze circulated or a dew were falling.


3. The consciousness of deliverance leads all three of them to burst out in a long song of praise, which is little more than quotations from some of the psalms. It bears the marks of a later age, and unlike the reticence of the Holy Scriptures, it seeks to explain the process of the miracle. The inspired oracles record miracles in the simplest and briefest language, never stopping to attempt an explanation, or to offer an apology. The miracle stands naked before the eye and is left unclothed.


Daniel 4 is a contribution by Nebuchadnezzar himself. It consists of a proclamation which recites the events of eight years. The time order of the events is as follows:


1. Nebuchadnezzar, though a great king and a pious one according to his religion, was going far astray through pride in consequence of his greatness and the exercise of his sovereignty over the world.


2. God sends him a dream to rebuke him for his sins and to warn him of punishment if there be no reformation.


3. This dream is interpreted by Daniel to signify the loss of his reason for seven years and his expulsion from the throne during that time, and his becoming as a beast of the field. Daniel closes his interpretation with this exhortation: "Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility."


4. At the end of twelve months, the king's heart being lifted up with pride as he contemplates the greatness of his city and the glory of his dominion, the dream is fulfilled.


5. On the recovery of his reason he blesses and praises Jehovah, the God of the Jews, and acknowledges his supremacy over all governments and kings.


The dream in itself was a marvel:


Thus were the visions of mine head upon my bed: I saw, and, behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great. The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth. The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was food for all, the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the birds of the heavens dwelt in the branches thereof, and all flesh was fed from it. I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and behold, a watcher and a holy one came down from heaven. He cried alone and said, thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off its branches, shake off its leaves, and scatter its fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from its branches. Nevertheless leave the stump of its roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven; and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth; let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him. The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones; to the intent that the living may know that the Most High ruleth in. the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the lowest of men. – DANIEL 4:10-17.


The great lesson which the dream was designed to teach is thus expressed: "To the intent that the living may know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men and giveth it to whomsoever he will; and setteth up over it the lowest of men." This chapter, as all of the rest of the book, is designed to affirm and demonstrate the supremacy of the government of God over the governments of men. On one occasion Dr. Lyman Beecher preached a sermon on "The Government of God." The impression made by it was so profound that a friend inquired, "Dr. Beecher, how long were you preparing that sermon?" He replied, "Forty years, and the time was too short for me to understand the comprehension of the divine rule." The dream was also intended to show that all kings and governments are under inspection of heavenly watchers, and when the measure of their iniquity is full the divine judgment will certainly fall. Any man who cannot, from the study of nature and from the affairs of time) find out that there is a God who rules over heaven and earth, classifies himself with the brutes that perish. As this dream says, "Take away from him the heart of a man and let the heart of a beast be given to him."


In the days of my early ministry in Waco, Mr. Huxley's definition of an agnostic was becoming widely accepted and the Darwinian theory of evolution as set forth by Charles Darwin and advocated by Herbert Spencer, Huxley, and Tyndall, was receiving great favor in literary circles in Waco. After reviewing in a series of lectures the "First Principles" of Herbert Spencer, I preached a sermon on the text from this chapter, "Take away from him the heart of a man and give him the heart of a beast," and used these expressions: "An atheist is a fool; an agnostic is a beast," following out the thought of this chapter that one too ignorant to know God and his government classified himself with the beasts. The evolutionists who had confidently affirmed a brute ancestry, objected to classification with their parents.


The disease which came upon Nebuchadnezzar was a disease well known to medical authorities in which the subject, through mental derangement on one point, imagines himself to be some beast or fowl and acts as if it were true; that is, the patient, if he imagines himself to be a rooster, flaps his arms as if they were wings and crows; if he imagines himself to be a dog he barks and growls and snarls like a dog; if he imagines himself to be an ox he goes on all-fours instead of standing erect and eats grass and herbs like an ox. The technical name of the disease in Nebuchadnezzar's case is "boanthropy." A Greek medical writer of the fourth century A.D. seems to be the first to notice this disease. Doubtless during the seven years of Nebuchadnezzar's incompetency through mental disorder regents ruled over Babylon for him.


Is it credible that a king of Babylon would issue such a proclamation? In this book and in other books of the Bible, near the times, for example Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, we find kings prodigal in proclamations. It is also in line with the latest discoveries of archeological researches, that kings made proclamations or recorded inscriptions to memorialize the great events of their own lives or of the history of their people. So there is nothing incredible in the proclamation.


A certain sentence of this chapter in the Greek version has been made to play a prominent part in the baptismal controversy. See in the Greek version the rendering of "and his body was wet with the dew of heaven" (v. 33).

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What the subject matter of chapter 2?

 

2. What promotion did Daniel and his three friends receive for the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the image and little stone?

 

3. Daniel's righteousness in his own life and in the administration of the world's affairs called forth what tribute from his contemporary, Ezekiel?

 

4. How would his political position as prime minister bring him in contact with Tyre?

 

5. How does his wisdom in administering world affairs call for another tribute from Ezekiel and what its pertinence?

 

6. What other Jews have been called to high positions in foreign lands?

 

7. Show the naturalness of Nebuchadnezzar's erecting an image of himself for worship.

 

8. In what form did the Roman Caesars have themselves worshiped?

 

9. Give the account in Josephus of the revolt of the Jews because these effigies of the Caesars were introduced into the holy city.

 

10. Why does Daniel, later, call these effigies "the abomination of desolation"?

 

11. Give the size, height, and breadth of Nebuchadnezzar's image.

 

12. What the objection of the critics to the golden material of the image, and your reply?

 

13. What their objection to the names of the musical instruments that introduced worship of the image, and your reply?

 

14. What their objection to the miracle of preservation in the fiery furnace, and your reply?

 

15. What incident of the miracle (3:24-25) suggests a great doctrine and how is it elsewhere taught?

 

16. What has been the moral effect of the reply of the three Hebrews (Dan. 3:16-18) to Nebuchadnezzar?

 

17. Give full account of the Septuagint interpolation in this chapter – just where it is placed, how much, and what.

 

18. How do you account for these extensive additions in that version?

 

19. Who is the author of chapter 4 and of what does it consist?

 

20. What the time order of the events?

 

22. What the lesson, or design of the dream, and what great sermon cited on "The Government of God"?

 

23. What use was made of Daniel 4:16 by the author and what the occasion of it?

 

24. What was the disease which came upon Nebuchadnezzar? Describe the actions of on who has it.

 

25. Is it credible that a king of Babylon would issue such a proclamation?

 

26. What sentence of this chapter in the Greek version has been made to play a prominent part in the baptismal controversy and what the reply of immersionists?

 

 

IV

 

(Return to Contents)

 

DANIEL AND BELSHAZZAR

Daniel 5:1-30

 


The title of this chapter is "Daniel and Belshazzar." The scripture is Daniel 5. It will be recalled that in the chapter on the historical introduction to this book certain matters relating to introduction were reserved for the exposition. Daniel 5 is a case in point. We are here introduced to two names which have occasioned much controversy, Belshazzar and Darius the Mede. Moreover, there are variant readings in the texts and versions. Usually the accepted Hebrew text, the Greek version of Theodotion and the old Peshito Syriac version agree on the text. The chief variations are found in the Septuagint version. It is a safe rule to follow the three against the one when we come to a variant reading. The Septuagint Daniel is by far the most untrustworthy of the Old Testament books in that version.


Of this much we may be assured – that neither in the accepted Hebrew text, nor in the Theodotion, nor in the Peshito Syriac, nor in the Septuagint do we find any support for the contentions of the radical critics concerning Belshazzar and Darius the Mede. No text or version supports any one of their main contentions: (1) That the book of Daniel was written by an unknown Jew after the days of Antiochus Epiphanes; (2) that there was no king Belshazzar; (3) no king Darius the Mede; (4) that Daniel 5-6 cannot be reconciled with the discoveries of the latest archeological research on the history of Cyrus.


Much has been made in this controversy of what is called the "Annalistic Tablet of Cyrus," brought to light by modern research. This now famous tablet is very brief and is so much broken that it must be reconstructed; even when reconstructed there are gaps which cannot be supplied; and it is very difficult to decipher what is inscribed, so difficult that the experts themselves cannot agree on the rendering. But the most of them, including Driver himself, support a rendering in substantial accord with the book of Daniel.


The historians of the period such as Xenophon, Herodotus, Rawlinston (Ancient Monarchies) furnish corroboration of the statements in the book of Daniel, whatever may be the merits of their testimony. But what is much more important, the Daniel account of the fall of Babylon before the Medes and Persians is in line with the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah concerning that event, and the several accounts by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel are all endorsed in the book of Revelation, giving an account of the fall of the mystical Babylon based on the Old Testament analogue of the historical Babylon.


The reader will find Driver's rendering of the Cyrus tablet in his book on Daniel in the "Cambridge Bible Series." Professor Sayce's rendering may be found in Appendix II of Daniel in the Critics' Den and also the better rendering of Theo. G. Pinches, by whom the tablet was brought to light, and the rendering of St. Chad Boscawen. So that these men – Pinches, Boscawen, and Driver – with others, agree in deciphering the inscription: (1) In harmony with the book of Daniel; (2) against the Sayce rendering.


If, then, we rightly regard this matter as a Judicial inquiry, all its evidence to be compared, cross-examined and weighed by judicial minds according to the laws of evidence; and if we accept for our guidance the six fundamental rules of law touching evidence laid down by Mr. Greenleaf in his Testimony of the Evangelists, there will be no trouble in accepting the book of Daniel as credible history. Mr. Greenleaf's rules are as follows:


1. "Every document apparently ancient coming from the proper repository or custody and bearing on its face no evident marks of forgery, the law presumes to be genuine and devolves on the opposing party the burden of proving it to be other-wise." Now under that law we have our document of the book of Daniel, apparently ancient, coming from the proper repository or custodian and no evident marks of forgery on it, and that document before any law court would be pronounced genuine.


2. "In matters of public and general interest all persons must be presumed to be conversant, on the principle that individuals are presumed to be conversant with their own affairs." Now apply that to Daniel living in Babylon at that time, an observer of the transactions which he relates.


3. "In trials of fact by oral testimony the proper inquiry is not whether it is possible that the testimony may be false, but whether there is sufficient probability that it is true." Now apply that law to every statement made in the book of Daniel.


4. "A proposition of fact is proved when its proof is established by competent and satisfactory evidence."


5. "In the absence of circumstances which generate suspicion, every witness is presumed to be credible until the contrary is shown. The burden of impeaching his credibility lies on the objector."


6. "The credulity due to the testimony of a witness depends upon: (1) their honesty; (2) their ability; (3) their number and the consistency of their testimony; (4) the conformity of their testimony with experience; and (5) the conformity of their testimony with collateral circumstances."





We can then understand why such great authorities on evidence as Mr. Greenleaf, and Lord Chancellors Hatherley, Cairns, and Selborne are never disturbed by the arrogant claims of the radical critics. They never forget that "no kind of evidence more demands the test of cross-examination than that of experts, whose proper place is the witness chair and not the judgment seat" – (Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, History of the Criminal Law, quoted by Sir Robert Anderson). They never confound an expert's real evidence with his logic or the conclusions of his mind. On this very point Sir Robert Anderson most pertinently quotes Lord Hatherley, in his Continuity of Scripture speaking of "the supposed evidence, on which are based some very confident assertions of a self-styled higher criticism! Assuming the learning to be profound and accurate which has collected the material for much critical performance, the logic by which conclusions are deduced from those materials is frequently grievously at fault, and open to the judgment of all who may have been accustomed to sift and weigh evidence." The book of Daniel, then, as a "document, apparently ancient, coming from the proper repository or custody, and bearing on its face no evident marks of forgery, the law presumes to be genuine, and devolves on the opposing party the burden of proving it to be otherwise."


Its place in the canon of Hebrew inspired books was never questioned in the ancient synagogue. Our Lord and his apostles found it there and treated it as inspired history and prophecy. Only one man, and he a heathen, ever assailed its genuineness or authenticity for more than two thousand years. The chief presupposition of modern assault upon it is purely atheistical; namely, there can be no real miracle or prophecy and therefore the book must be accounted for naturally (not supernaturally) and must be dated and estimated accordingly, which begs the whole question.


On the premises thus briefly set forth this author accepts Daniel 8.9 a. competent witness of the matters relative to Belshazzar and Darius coming under his own observation, and our attention will now be given to that evidence. All its references to Belshazzar apart from chapter 5 are these: "In the first year of Belshazzar, king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed" (Dan. 7:1). "In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, even unto me, Daniel, after that which appeared unto me at the first" (8:1). Chapter 5 commences: "Belshazzar the king made a great feast . . " and closes thus: "In the night Belshazzar, the Chaldean king, was slain. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about three score and two years old."


While the book of Daniel does not say anything about Belshazzar's father, history shows that his father was still living and that Belshazzar is called the king's son. These three verses then suggest that he was co-regent with his father, his father being the first ruler, he the second ruler, and his proposition to make whosoever would interpret that handwriting the third ruler. The critics say it should be "the ruler of the third part," and the Septuagint version seems to support them, but the Hebrew text and the Theodotion version and our common English version and our Revised Version and the English Version of the Jewish text, all testify that the rendering should be, "the third ruler in the kingdom." I have before me the Jewish Bible, that is, the English translation of the Jewish Bible, and on Daniel 5 in each instance it renders those three verses that I have just quoted exactly as I quoted them. It reads as follows: "Whatsoever man will read this writing and tell me its meaning shall be clothed with purple and shall have a chain of gold about his neck and shall rule as third in the kingdom." Verse 16 puts it this way, "and shall rule as the third in the kingdom." The next verse he interprets "that he should rule as the third in the kingdom." So that while the radical critic says that the rendering, "the third ruler in the kingdom," is untenable, he puts himself against the very highest scholarship in Germany and England, against the two English versions, against the Jewish version, against the Theodotion Greek version, and our common Hebrew text. We understand then that Belshazzar was king, his father associating him with himself in the kingdom. We learn from history that Nabonidus, his father, was a man who preferred privacy and seclusion. He had very little to do with public affairs. He was not even in Babylon when it was invaded by the Medes and Persians. He was not present when they took Babylon. He commanded no armies. His son Belshazzar is represented as a warlike man, a general, and whatever war there was conducted by Belshazzar. We look then at the next affirmation.


Daniel 5 says thus:
Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. Belshazzar while he tasted the wine commanded to bring the gold and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple which is in Jerusalem, that the king and his lords and his wives and his concubines might drink therefrom. Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem, and the king and his lords and his wives and his concubines drank from them. They drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.


That is Daniel's account of what was done on the night of the awful catastrophe of the fall of Babylon. I want to compare that with the prophecy of Isaiah and of Jeremiah concerning the destruction of Babylon. In Isaiah 21:4-5, 9 we have this account: "My heart fluttereth, horror hath frighted me; the twilight that I desired hath been turned into trembling unto me. They prepare the table, they set the watch, they eat, they drink: rise up,-ye princes, anoint the shield." Then he goes on to give an account of the fall: "Fallen, fallen, is Babylon, and all the graven images of her gods are broken unto the ground." So that Isaiah in his time, prophesying of the fall of Babylon, makes the occasion of the fall the time when they are at the table – when they are eating and drinking.


I take passages from Jeremiah 51: "The mighty men of Babylon have forborne to fight, they remain in their strongholds; they are become as women; they have burned her dwelling places; her bars are broken. One post shall run to meet another, and one messenger to meet another, to shew the king of Babylon that his city is taken on every quarter and the passages are seized, and the reeds they have burned with fire, and the men of war are affrighted" (Jer. 51:30-32). "In their heat I will make their feasts, and I will make them drunken, that they may rejoice, and sleep perpetual sleep, and not wake saith the Lord. I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter, like rams with he-goats" (Jer. 51:39). "And I will make drunk her princes, and her wise men, her captains, and her rulers, and her mighty men; and they shall sleep a sleep perpetual, and not wake, saith the King, whose name is Jehovah of hosts" (Jer. 51:57).


We find then that both Isaiah and Jeremiah represent the downfall of Babylon as coming when they are at a feast, eating, drinking, and drunken, and that feast ends with their sudden destruction, .so that Daniel's account in that affirmation is certainly sustained by the older prophets.


We now come to the next affirmation (Dan. 5:3-4, 18-24), representing that this is a conflict with Jehovah himself. They commence by insulting Jehovah, by using the sacred Temple vessels for drinking their wine on such an occasion. They not only drink their wine out of the sacred vessels, but they praise the idols, and so when Daniel comes in he makes that point against them when he comes to interpret the vision. Let us see what he says on that point. Daniel 5:18: "Oh thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father the kingdom, and greatness, and glory, and majesty: and because of the greatness that he gave him, all of -the peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew, and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he raised up, whom he would he put down. But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him: and he was driven from the sons of men, and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses; he was fed with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; until he knew that the most high God ruleth in the kingdom of men, and that he setteth up over it whosoever he will. And thou his son. O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thy heart, though thou knewest all this; but hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou and thy lords, thy wives and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which set not, nor hear, nor know; and the God in whose had thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified. Then was the part of the hand, sent from before him and this writing was written."


It is evident from Daniel 5 that the issues were between Jehovah and Babylon as a nation in the person of its king, Belshazzar. Let us compare that statement in Daniel 5 with the parallel passages in Isaiah. Several chapters of Isaiah, commencing with Isaiah 45, are devoted to that very point, Isaiah foreshowing the destruction of Babylon and its reason, and making it just as plain as Daniel makes it, that the issue is that Babylon was set up by divine providence, that its kings were the servants of God to do his will, that commencing with Nebuchadnezzar and going through their history they had failed to recognize the divine government of nations, in consequence of which Isaiah is now prophesying the downfall of this kingdom of Babylon. So that Daniel 5 stands in harmony with the older prophet upon that point. There are two or three chapters of Isaiah on this point too long for me to give here.


We now come to the next affirmation in this chapter, and this relates to the miracle. It affirms that during that great gathering, the thousand lords, the wives and concubines of the king, the mad reveling, the impious resistance to Jehovah, that just at that juncture part of a hand that was visible came out and wrote on the wall these words: Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin. Now, of course, if a man takes the position that there can be no miracle or anything supernatural, he will not believe anything of this kind, but we are not of that class. Everything that was written, as I will show you, when we come to interpret it, is in full accord with everything else that is written in the Bible. We want to know the effect upon Belshazzar. The testimony is very striking on that. Let us see what was the effect on Belshazzar when he saw that hand come out there and write those words: "And the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king's countenance was changed in him, and his thoughts troubled him; and the joints of his loins were loosed and his knees smote one against another." What a vivid description of fear! Now when we turn to Isaiah 13:7-8, we find there described the condition in Babylon on the night of its fall: "The hands shall become weak and the mortal heart shall melt: and they shall be affrighted ; pangs and pains shall seize on them; they shall have throes) as a woman that travaileth: one at another shall they look amazed; red like flames shall their faces glow."


The next affirmation that I wish to consider is that Belshazzar is represented as the son of Nebuchadnezzar. Now, says the higher critic, "this is not true." The Hebrew has no word for grandson or grandfather, and it is one of the most common things in the usage of the Hebrew to represent one as a father who is not immediately the father of the one spoken of. I could spend a half hour citing instances; so that criticism is puerile. What it means is that Belshazzar is a descendant of Nebuchadnezzar, and we can very easily account for this usage of the term, "father."


We come now to the next affirmation, that is, as the agency employed for the destruction of Babylon. Daniel 5, when it comes to the interpretation, says that the agency employed is that of the Medes and Persians. Not the Medes alone nor the Persians alone, but they are spoken of conjointly and they are so spoken of all through the book of Daniel, and we will need that later on when we come to another criticism, that the Medes and Persians all through this book are one government, two governments in one. Isaiah and Jeremiah, (and I here cite, Isa. 13:17; 21:2; Jer. 51:28) inform us that the agency by which Babylon shall be destroyed is both the Medes and Persians. So what Daniel says here is in full accord with the testimony of the older prophets as to the means by which Babylonia was to be overthrown.


And Just here I want to make this statement to which there is no reference in Daniel. Xenophon says that when the city was besieged, to account for the suddenness of the capture, that the Babylonians, having twenty years of provisions in it and resting behind their high impregnable walls, did not concern themselves at all about the besieging army on. the outside, and that Cyrus, finding it impossible to storm those walls, diverted the waters of the Euphrates by canals going around on each side throwing the water into the canals and leaving bare the bottom of the river, and that his soldiers entered through the bed of the river and came up into the city at night and were in the city before anybody knew anything about it. What Xenophon says is confirmed by the prophecy of Jeremiah, that the waters of Babylon would be dried up in order to its taking, and that very thought is repeated in Revelation 16, where it speaks of the fall of the mystical Babylon: "I will dry up the Euphrates."


Then we can easily understand another thing said by Jeremiah in telling how the city would fall, that the reeds were set on fire – the reeds that grew along the banks of the river where the bed of the river was dry. They entered that bed of the river and came up on the inside of the walls, setting fire to those reeds that were along both banks of the river on the inside of the city. All of that is thrillingly set forth in the prophecy of Jeremiah. Daniel, however, does not refer to that. All he refers to is the suddenness – the utter unexpectedness – with which death and ruin came upon this assembly, but this does make Daniel's account in harmony with Xenophon, Jeremiah, and Revelation, and when Jeremiah says that the Babylonians did not fight, that also accords with a part of that celebrated Annalistic Tablet of Cyrus which says that the city was entered without fighting. Isaiah also confirms the suddenness of the capture.


We take up the next affirmation. Daniel says that when that handwriting was seen on the wall the enchanters and diviners and soothsayers were called in and their interpretation sought. Just in point Isaiah's testimony (47:12) announces the presence of these enchanters and soothsayers and their powerlessness to help.


Let us now look at the interpretation. Daniel interprets it this way, that the first word written and repeated, Mene, Mene, means "numbered, numbered," and he explains it to mean this, "Your days are numbered, the days of your kingdom are numbered; this the last day." Tekel – that means a weight, or weighed. He interprets that to mean, "Thou are weighed in the balances and art found wanting." "This is your last day. This day has been long deferred. God has labored with this kingdom, with its king not wishing to forsake Babylon to ruin," as Isaiah sets forth very pathetically, "but thy constant ignoring of the government of God, thy filling up of the measure of iniquity has brought you to sorrow." "Numbered, numbered! weighed in the balances and found wanting!" The last word) Upharsin, means divisions. He interprets that to mean, "Your kingdom is divided unto the Medes and unto the Persians." What a suggestion there! Divided unto the Medes and Persians! When we commence the next chapter we find that Darius the Mede received that kingdom and was made king. Cyrus was the true leader and the true king, but it was divided. The Medes constituted a large portion of this army and his government, and Cyrus appoints this Mede now to take the city of Babylon. He would remain as chief ruler over all Persia and Media and Babylonia, but how striking the significance of dividing! What a great text! Many times great expounders of God's Word have preached on that subject. One man, a controversialist, has written a book called Tekel, in which he says of his adversaries, "Thou art weighed in the balances and art found wanting." Some of the most thrilling revival sermons ever preached have been preached upon the interpretation of those words, Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. Apart from Daniel 5, what are the references in this book to Belshazzar?

 

2. What verses in this chapter imply that Belshazzar was not the chief ruler in the kingdom of Babylon, but held only second place, or was co-regent?

 

3. What historical and archaeologic evidence confirms this implication?

 

4. What can you say of the Annalistic Tablet of Cyrus, and according to the best reading of its inscription, how does it confirm Daniel's account of the death of Belshazzar?

 

5. In their prophecies of the fall of Babylon show in what particulars Isaiah and Jeremiah confirm Daniel

 

5. 6. How was Belshazzar a son of Nebuchadnezzar? Give other instances of scripture,

 

7. Does chapter 5 say anything of the siege of Babylon? If so, what?

 

8. How in his feast does Belshazzar make an issue against Jehovah, and how does Jehovah respond?

 

9. What means were employed, according to Xenophon, to obtain an entrance into Babylon, and bow does Jeremiah and the book of Revelation confirm it?

 

10. Give Daniel's interpretation of the handwriting on the wall.

 

 

V

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE HISTORY OF DARIUS THE MEDE

Daniel 5:31,6:1-28; 9:1

 


The testimony of Daniel concerning Darius the Mede is found in Daniel 5:31; 6:1-28; 9:1. The Jewish Bible properly places the last verse of chapter 5 at the beginning of chapter 6. From these passages we gather the following facts:


1. Darius is here said to be the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Modes.


2. Darius, like Pharaoh and Caesar, is a title rather than a name.


3. He "received the kingdom," i.e., from another. He "was made king," i.e., by another.


4. He was an old man, "about three score and two."


5. Only one year of his reign is mentioned (9:1).


6. As elsewhere throughout the book, the Medes and Persians are considered jointly as one government (6:8, 12, 15).


7. The reigns of Cyrus and of Darius were contemporaneous (6:28).


On this testimony the following observations are submitted: 1. It is difficult from outside history, whether sacred or profane, to determine definitely the real name and place of this Darius. If we adopt the Jewish method of dividing the chapters so as to make the last verse of chapter 5 the first verse of chapter 6 then there is nothing in Daniel's account to connect closely in time the death of Belshazzar with the accession of Darius, king of Persia, so often named in the book of Ezra. But while we may accept the chapter division, the conclusion deduced, identifying this Darius with the Darius of Ezra, is every way improbable, not to say impossible. The deduction creates far greater difficulties than it removes – difficulties in this book as well as in Ezra, and even greater difficulties in Persian history. So our conclusion is that Darius the Mede, the son of Ahasuerus, in this book, is not the Darius, the Persian, the son of Hystaspes, so prominent in the book of Ezra. The testimony of Daniel, even if wholly unsupported from the outside, should be accepted as trustworthy unless better testimony should show it to be impossible. A probable explanation of this history when compared with others is all that we need to show.


The famous Annalistic Tablet of Cyrus, upon which the radical critics so confidently rely, itself alone furnishes the probable explanation. That tablet shows that a certain general of Cyrus, Gobryas by name, led the night assault in which Belshazzar was slain, and was made governor of the province of Babylon by Cyrus, and then as governor appointed all the subordinate rulers in the realm, which harmonizes perfectly with Daniel's account that (1) Darius "received the kingdom," "was made king," and (2) that "it pleased Darius to set over the kingdom a hundred and twenty satraps." Professor Sayce, though so adverse to the historicity of Daniel, thus reads a part of the Annalistic Tablet of Cyrus: "Cyrus entered Babylon. Dissensions were allayed before him. Peace to the city did Cyrus establish, peace to all the province of Babylon did Gobryas, his governor, proclaim. Governors in Babylon he (i.e., Gobryas) appointed." Professor Driver thus renders another part of the tablet: "Gubaru (same as Gobryas) made an assault, and slew the king's son." The king's son was Belshazzar. Then the tablet goes on to show the national mourning for the king's son.


Defenders of the historical trustworthiness of the book of Daniel need not commit themselves irrevocably to this identification of Daniel's Darius with the tablet's Gobryas. It suggests all that is necessary, a probable explanation. Mr. Pinches, who brought the Annalistic Tablet to light, and many others are quite confident of this identity. Mr. Thomson ("Pulpit Bible," Daniel) adopts this theory in his exposition. There are several other theories concerning the identity of Daniel's Darius most plausibly argued by learned men who fully accept the trustworthiness of the history in the book of Daniel. It is not at all necessary to recite them here.


2. It is quite in line with all the probabilities in the case that Cyrus, ruler over two united nations, Medes and Persians, should appoint a Mede as subking over the conquered province of Babylon, while he attended to the general affairs of the whole empire. The reference to both Cyrus and Darius in 6:28 indicates a contemporaneous reign, Darius as subking at Babylon, Cyrus as supreme king over the whole empire.


3. Darius, being an old man when he "received the kingdom," or "was made king," did not probably reign long, Daniel specifying only his first year (9:1).


4. The contention of the radical critics that, in Daniel's mind, the empire of the Medes precedes and is distinct from the empire of the Persians is contradicted flatly by the whole tenor of the book. While everywhere recognizing them as distinct peoples, the book throughout knows them only as a conjoined nation, one government. The laws of the one government are the laws of the Medes and Persians (6:8, 12, 15). This unity in duality is manifested in the symbolic features: the silver beast and two arms of Nebuchadnezzar's image (2: 32); the bear with one side higher than the other (7:5); the ram with the two horns, one higher than the other (8:20). This last symbol is expressly interpreted as a unity in duality and named "Medes and Persians."


This absurd contention of the radical critics is evidently intended to hedge against any possible prophecy in the book concerning Rome, as the fourth world empire, and so to make the prophetic forecast of history culminate in Antiochus Epiphanes, and then by arbitrarily dating the book after his reign, to deny all prophetic element in it. In no other radical criticism do they so utterly betray their atheistic presuppositions, and so clearly manifest their utter untrustworthiness as biblical expositors. The very exploit which they regard as their greatest achievement most overwhelmingly exposes their disqualifications and advertises their shame.

 

THE CONTENTS OF CHAPTER 6


1. On the fall of Babylon and the death of Belshazzar, Cyrus appoints Darius the Mede, subking over the province of Babylon.


2. Darius districts the kingdom under his jurisdiction and appoints 120 satraps over the several districts. Over these satraps he appoints three presidents, Daniel, one of the three, to whom all the satraps must give account of the king's matters in their several satrapies. This division of authority and responsibility was common then and is yet common in Oriental countries. The three presidents would constitute the king's cabinet. From this place Farrar gets his "board of three," but his arbitrary attempt to transfer it back to a preceding regime in order to break the force of "third ruler in the kingdom" (w. 8, 12, 15) is merely puerile and amusing. Daniel's age, wisdom, experience, administrative capacity and character so easily make him the dominant spirit over the two other presidents and over all the satraps that Darius purposes to set over the whole realm a grand vizier.


3. And now comes a development so true to the life and character of Oriental despotism, with their large delegation of powers to subordinates, that its absence from the story would have discounted its credibility. Envy, jealousy, and disappointed greed on the part of the two other presidents and all the satraps, lead them to conspire against Daniel. It was bad enough, in their minds, to have him one of three presidents, but if he be made grand vizier, then there would be no hope of successful fraud and loot. Daniel here brings to mind that great commoner, the elder William Pitt, who, as secretary, stood alone in a corrupt age, whose spotless character and imperious will dominated an unwilling king and a venal ministry, before whom all fraud in politics and peculation in office fled affrighted. One such man in a thousand years is about all the world can produce. And when he appears he is like a solitary, huge, cloud-piercing granite mountain in an almost boundless plain.


What a tribute to Daniel's purity of life, official integrity and sublimity of character, is their confession that nothing could be found against him except his alien religion! But just here these jackals were most sure of their lion. His record was unequivocal and univocal. Not even the mighty Nebuchadnezzar could shake him in a matter of conscience and religion, but rather bowed before him. On this point he was as God himself before the white-faced, pale-lipped, knee-shaking Belshazzar. Hence the low scheme of cunning, the short-sighted trick of engineering on the unsuspecting Darius the signing of a blasphemous law that for thirty days no man should offer prayer or petition to any god, but to the king alone. To polytheistic Orientals, or even to a Roman Caesar, who was ex officio not only pontifex maximus, but was himself divine, such temporary suspension of empty religious services except through the ruler himself, was a light matter enough. But to a pious Jew recognizing one only true God it was every way blasphemous and horrible.


In all the world history of legislative folly this statue stands unique – "without a model and without a shadow." The suspension of the law of gravitation, the suspension of either the centripetal or the centrifugal force, whose joint powers produce the circling orbits of heavenly bodies, would not introduce more confusion in the material universe than such a law, if capable of execution, would produce in the moral and spiritual realm.


NO PRAYER TO GOD FOB THIRTY DAYS


All connection between the throne of mercy and grace and helpless, hungering, thirsting, dying men, severed for thirty days! For a whole month travailing mothers may not cry to God; cradles must remain unblessed; youth helpless before temptation; widows and orphans at the mercy of oppressions and without appeal; human life unguarded in the presence of assassins; property at the mercy of the thief, the burglar and the incendiary; sinners dying unabsolved and unforgiven, an earthly embargo against angel ministrations or heavenly mercies – such a law, if enforceable, would be the climax of insanity. What an ocean-sweeping dragnet to catch one fish!


How clearly the record brings out the weakness of Darius I The mind instantly calls up, in association, Herod's vain regret for his oath when called upon to surrender John the Baptist to the murderous woman, and Pilate vainly washing his hands as he surrenders Jesus to crucifixion, as if consistency were more than righteousness.


Daniel's attitude was calm, inflexible. Though he knew that the law was signed, and could not have been ignorant of either its malicious purpose or its result to himself, he kept right on praying to God at the three regular Temple hours of prayer, morning, noon, and evening.


He kept his window open toward Jerusalem. How well he bears in mind the words of Solomon's great intercession at the dedication of the Temple, preserved in the sacred history of his people:
If thy people go out to battle against their enemy, whithersoever thou shalt send them, and shall pray unto the Lord toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house that I have built for thy name: then hear thou in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause. If they sin against thee (for there is no man that sinneth not), and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near; yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication in the land of them that carried them captive, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness; and so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, toward the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name: then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them. – 1 KINGS 8:44-50.


But by espionage on his private devotions in his own domicile – the most accursed method of tyranny – his infraction of human law is clearly established. Peter and John when charged by human authority "not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus" boldly replied: "Whether it is right in the sight of God to hearken unto you rather than unto God, judge ye: for we cannot but speak the things we saw and heard" (Acts 4:1920). So Daniel here.

 

DANIEL IN THE LION'S DEN


This miraculous preservation of Daniel, though its miracle sorely grieves the radical critics, is, like the preservation of his three friends in the fiery furnace, certified in the New Testament book of Hebrews, which records among the achievements wrought by Israel's ancient worthies: "By faith they quenched the violence of fire – by faith they stopped the mouths of lions." The fate of Daniel's accusers when he was vindicated is fully in line with the history of Oriental nations as well as the law of Moses. The consequent proclamation of Darius is not incredible per se, because in keeping with his character, his times, and his people. It is in line with other proclamations in this book, in Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther.


I must again call attention to this fact concerning the text: The accepted Hebrew text, Theodotion's Greek version in the second century A.D., and the Peshito Syriac version of the same century are generally agreed. The important variant readings are in the Septuagint Greek version. That version, for example, makes only the two other presidents (not the satraps) accuse Daniel, and they alone, with their families (not the satraps) are cast in the lions' den when Daniel is vindicated. I have not thought it necessary to give all the Septuagint variations.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What the affirmations in Daniel 5:31; 6; 9:1 concerning Darius

 

2. Is he the same as the Darius of the book of Ezra? What the proof?

 

3. State the archaeological proof that he was probably Gobryas.

 

4. Give the reply to the radical critic contention that, in Daniels mind the kingdom of the Medea was distinct from the Persian kingdom and preceded it. .

 

5. By whom and why a conspiracy against Daniel, and what their method of destroying him?

 

6. State the comparison of Daniel with William Pitt.

 

7. Show the folly of the statute Darius was induced to sign.

 

8. What the weakness of Darius and with whom compared?

 

9. From what texts and versions must we get a true text of Daniel, and which of these are in agreement and which one variant?

 

10. State the most important variations in the Septuagint.

 

 

VI

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE RELATED PROPHETIC SECTIONS OF DANIEL

 


Having completed the historical sections of this book, we now consider the related prophetic sections. It is here we find the crux of the opposition of the atheistic critics. Their presupposition is: There can be no prophecy in any supernatural sense. Therefore they refuse to see any reference in the book to matters beyond the times of Antiochus Epiphanes. He to them is the culmination of the book. The unknown writer, as they claimed, lived after his times, and cast well-known history into the form of prophecy, attributing its authorship, through a license accorded to writers of novels, to a fictitious Daniel supposed to be living in the period between Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus.


A complete answer to both their premise and conclusion would be the proof of even one real prediction in the book, fulfilled after their own assigned date for the author. Any one who really believes the New Testament will find that proof in the words of our Lord: "When therefore ye see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the Holy Place (let him that readeth understand) then let them that are in Judea flee to the mountains."


But as our purpose it to expound the prophetic sections of this book, and not merely to reply to the contentions of atheists, we now take up our work. These are the prophetic sections:


1. Nebuchadnezzar's first dream of the great and luminous image, or the five world empires (Dan 2-31-45).


2. Nebuchadnezzar's second dream of the great tree, or what befell the great king of the first world empire (Dan. 4:10-27).


3. The handwriting on the wall at Belshazzar's feast, or what befell the last king of the first world empire and how the second empire comes to the front (Dan. 5:25-28).


4. The vision of the four great beasts arising from the sea, representing in another form the four secular world empires and the enthronement of the King of the fifth world empire (Dan. 7:1-28).


5. The vision of the ram and the he-goat, or the fortunes of the second and third world empires (Dan. 8:1-27).


6. The seventy weeks, or the coming and sacrifice of the Messiah, the King of the fifth world empire (Dan. 9:24-27).


7. The vision of the Son of man (Dan. 10).


8. Revelation of the conflicts between two of the divisions of the third world empire) and the transition to the final advent of the Messiah, the King of the fifth world empire (Dan. 11-12).


On these eight prophetic sections let us give careful attention to the following observations:

 

OBSERVATIONS ON THE EIGHT PROPHECIES TAKEN TOGETHER


1. The most casual glance at this grouping of the several prophetic sections reveals both the unity of the book and the relation of its prophetic parts and the design of all.


2. Any man who looks carefully at this group and finds its culmination in Antiochus Epiphanes, a ruler of a fourth fragment of the third world empire, either is devoid of common sense and should receive the charity accorded to those unfortunates afflicted with mental aberration, or is so blinded with prejudice he cannot see. In the case of the latter alternative this much of Paul's words apply: "If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them whom the god of this world has blinded lest they should see," or our Lord's words, "Having eyes they see not." An unbiased child can see that the culmination of the book as to a person is in the King of the fifth world empire, and the culmination as to a fact is in the Messiah's final advent for resurrection and judgment.


3. Following the characteristic Bible method and plan, secular governments in this book are considered only as they relate to the supremacy of the divine government and to the kingdom of God. All the rest concerning them is left in silence.


4. The relation between the parts of the prophecy is manifest throughout: The first prophecy is the basis of all the following sections. They only elaborate some detail concerning one or the other of the five world empires set forth in the first dream of Nebuchadnezzar, the four-pointed image and the conquering stone. For example, the first prophecy tells in general terms of four successive world empires to be followed by a fifth and spiritual world empire. The second and third sections of prophecy elaborate some details of the first great secular monarchy, telling us what befell its first and last king and the transition to the second monarchy. The fourth prophecy presents under different imagery the same five world empires, but gives some detail of every one not stated in the general terms of the first prophecy.


The fifth prophecy confines itself to details not before given of the second and third monarchies, how sovereignty passes from one to the other, how the third is dismembered, to prepare the way for the fourth, and how both are related to the kingdom of God. The sixth prophecy speaks only of the King of the fifth monarchy in his humiliation and sacrifice, as the third had spoken of his glory and exaltation, and the seventh is the vision of the Son of man.


The eighth deals only at first with the strifes between two of the parts of the dismembered third monarchy, incidentally alluding to the coming power of the fourth monarchy, glides, by easy transition, from the first antichrist, Antiochus, to a second antichrist in the far distant future, an antichrist already foreshown in the little horn of the fourth beast, and concludes with the final advent of the king of the fifth monarchy. No other book in all literature, sacred or profane, more clearly evidences greater unity, one consistent plan, more order in treatment, or a more glorious climax.


Of very great interest to us and to all who love God and his cause is the development of the messianic thought as the hope of the world. It concerns us much to fix in our minds this development.


The first prophecy tells of the divine origin and ultimate prevalence of Messiah's kingdom.


The sixth tells of Messiah's first advent in his humiliation and sacrifice.


The fourth tells of his exaltation and enthronement after the humiliation.


The eighth tells of his final advent for resurrection and judgment.


And so we need to note the coming of the first antichrist. Antiochus, in the little horn of the third beast (Dan. 8:9) and the second antichrist in the little horn of the fourth beast (Dan. 7:8) identical with John's antichrist, (Rev. 13:1-8) with its papal head (Rev. 13:11-18). And so we find reference to the third antichrist in 11:34-45 who is not the same as Paul's man of sin. (2 Thess. 2:8 and Rev. 20:11), but this third antichrist comes at the beginning of the millennium and wages a conflict against the Jews, at which time they will be converted and the millennium will be ushered in. Daniel does not see Paul's man of sin.


How clearly and with what precious comfort do all these prophecies reveal the supreme government of God over nations and men, the universal sweep of his providence, both general and special!


5. Finally how well we can understand, in the light of these great prophecies, the influence of the man and his book on all subsequent ages. His apocalyptic style and symbolism reappear in Zechariah's visions, and form the greater part of the basis of John's New Testament apocalypse.

His Son of man creates a messianic title which our Lord adopts. His unique prophecy of the exact time of Messiah's first advent creates a preparation in the hearts of the pious to expect him just then. We could not understand old Simeon at all if Daniel hadn't fixed the time. Other prophets had foretold his lineage, the place of his birth, his great expiation and consequent enthronement, but no other showed just when he would come. His stress on "the kingdom of God and its certain coming and prevalence" put the titles of this divine government in the mouths of John the Baptist, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul. His sublime character as evidenced in his temperance, wisdom, incorruptible integrity, audacity of faith, indomitable courage, and inflexible devotion to God, has fired the hearts of a thousand orators and created a million heroes. His words have become the themes of a thousand pulpits. His righteous administration of public affairs has created a thousand reformers in politics and supplied the hope of all subsequent civic righteousness. "Dare to be a Daniel" has become the slogan of the ages.


His distinction between duty to the human government and duty to the divine government prepared the way for the reception of our Lord's great dictum, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's." He laid the foundation of the doctrine that the state cannot intrude into the realm of conscience, and so was the pioneer, piloting a burdened world to its present great heritage of religious liberty. This man was not a reed shaken by the wind. He was no Reuben, unstable as water. We can't even think about him without wanting to sing:


How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,


is laid for your faith in his excellent word. Born in the reign of good Josiah, thy childhood remembering the finding of the lost book of Moses, thy youth passed in the great reformation and thy heart warmed in the mighty revival that followed, student of Jeremiah, prime minister of two world empires and beloved of God – thou art a granite mountain, O Daniel, higher than Chimborazo, Mount Blanc or Dwa Walla Giri! Snarling little critics, like coyotes, may grabble their holes in the foot-hills that lean for support against thy solidity, but their yelping can never disturb thy calm serenity nor the dust they paw up can ever dim the eternal sunshine of the smiles of God that halo thy summit. – SELECTED.


 Having now considered these eight prophetic sections in group, let us give attention to their exposition in severalty.

 

NEBUCHADNEZZAR'S FIRST DREAM


God's sovereignty extends to men asleep as well as to men awake. Often his spirit has made revelation through dreams. Dreams of indigestion are chaotic, without form, plan, or coherence. But dreams sent by the Spirit awaken after-thought, appeal to the intelligence and vividly impress the dreamer. So Jacob's dream at Bethel of the ladder reaching from earth to heaven, on which the angels of God ascended and descended, or Pharaoh's dreams interpreted by Joseph, and the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar. No human system of psychology has ever explained the subtle and direct impact of Spirit on spirit. It is quite possible that there may have been some connection between Nebuchadnezzar's waking thoughts and the dream which follows. We can at least conceive of previous reflections on his part full of questionings to which this dream would be a pertinent answer.


He may well have meditated upon the worldwide empire he had established and wondered if it would last, and if not what other government would succeed, and would it last. He may have pondered the causes of stability in human government, or the elements of decay and disintegration, and have wondered if human history would always be a record of the successive rising and falling of nations, or would the time ever come when the earth would know a universal and everlasting kingdom, and if so, who would be its author and what the principles of its perpetuity. Nebuchadnezzar was a truly great man, a thinker and organizer, and he was a pious man according to the requirements of his religion. So he may have been the waking subject of thoughts and questionings to which God sends an answer in a dream by night. Anyhow, he had the dream, and this was the dream: He saw a great and terrible image, a silent and luminous colossus in human form, standing upon the level Babylonian plain. Its several parts were strangely incongruous. The head was gold, the chest and arms were silver, the lower body and thighs were brass, the legs were iron, ending in feet with ten toes whose iron was mingled with clay.


Did this image reveal the highest attainment of human government and prophecy, its inevitable deterioration from gold to silver, from silver to brass, from brass to iron, from iron to crumbling clay? Or did it suggest a succession of governments, the first with the greatest unity and the greatest excellency, one head and that gold? The second dual in composition with its two arms, third commencing one, but dividing into two thighs, the fourth standing dual in it he saw a little stone cut out of a mountain without human hands, falling to the plain and intelligently rolling toward the image, and rolling gathering bulk and momentum until it smites the image on its feet of mixed iron and clay, overthrows it, crushes it, pulverizes it, and rolling on in resistless power, ever growing as it rolls, until it becomes a mountain in bulk and fills the whole earth. Such the dream.

 

THE INTERPRETATION OF THE DREAM


The dream foretells five great world empires:


The first is identified as the Babylonian.


The second is identified in the prophecy as the Medo-Persian.


The third is identified in the prophecy as the Grecian.


The fourth by a suggestion in the eighth prophecy as the Roman.


The fifth is the kingdom of God set up by the God of heaven and without hands in the days of the fourth empire.

 

CHARACTERISTICS OF THESE EMPIRES


This is the characteristic of the first:
Thou, O king, art king of kings unto whom the God of heaven hath given the kingdom, the power, and the strength and the glory, and wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven hath he given into thine hands and hath made thee to rule over them all, and thou art that head of gold.


The characteristic of the second one is, so far as this chapter tells us, that it is inferior to the first. This chapter, in identifying the second world monarchy, simply tells us that it succeeds the Babylonian, the first, but in the later prophetic sections when this vision is elaborated it is expressly said to be a kingdom of the Modes and of the Persians. I say that the book of Daniel identifies the second world government as the Medo-Persian Empire just as plainly and explicitly and exactly as it identifies the first with the Babylonian.


Now when we come to the third, "another third kingdom of brass which shall bear rule over all the earth," is all this chapter says about this one, but when we take up the subsequent prophetic section it is explicitly said to be the Grecian Empire, the thighs indicating subsequent division of the empire. One man said to me, "If the third empire is unquestionably the Greek Empire, how can it be represented as the lower body and two thighs divided into four parts?" My answer is that this book tells us that it did divide into four parts, but deals only with the two parts which touched God's people. This book has nothing in detail to say about the divisions of Alexander's empire beyond the Seleucids and the Ptolemies, one of them getting Syria and the other getting Egypt.


When he comes to speak of the fourth this is what he says:
And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things, and as iron that crusheth, all these shall it break in pieces and crush. Whereas, thou sawest the feet and the toes, a part of potter's clay and part of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom. But there shall be in it of the strength of the iron forasmuch as thou sawest iron mixed with the miry clay, and as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so shall the kingdom be partly strong and partly broken; and whereas, thou sawest the iron mingled with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men, but they shall not cleave one to another even as iron does not mingle with clay.


This book in this chapter does not name that fourth government, but when we come to consider the visions of the four beasts which is the same as this vision in another form, but with other details, we get a still clearer idea of the characteristics of this government; and when we come to chapter 2, when we are considering the last prophetic revelation, we have a suggestion where this fourth government comes in and holds Antiochus Epiphanes at bay, that place where the representative of Rome made a little circle in the sand around Antiochus and said, "You must answer before you step outside of that circle." We know it also to be Rome because Rome with two legs divided into the Eastern and Western Empires, Constantine establishing Eastern Rome at Byzantium on the Bosporus while the Western Empire continues at Rome. We also know it by its divisions into ten kingdoms as its imperial supremacy passed away.


Here is what he says about the last kingdom:


1. He gives its origin: "I saw a little stone cut out without hands." Those other four stood in the form of a man because man was the author of them all. This fifth one is divine, this fifth kingdom is set up by the God of heaven, and we should never lose sight of that fact.


2. The second thought that he presents is as to the time when the God of heaven would set up this kingdom; that it would be in the days of the fourth monarchy – the Roman monarchy: "In the days of these kings will the God of heaven set up a kingdom." So when a man asks when was the kingdom of heaven set up, and that, of course, means in its visible form, as the Babylonian kingdom was visible, the Medo-Persian kingdom was visible, the Greek kingdom was visible, the Roman kingdom was visible, and as God all the time had a spiritual kingdom, but now he is to set up a visible kingdom and it is to be just as visible as any of these others – then, as a Baptist, I answer: Jesus set up the kingdom in his lifetime, as the Gospels abundantly show.


3. The third thought in this description of this kingdom is its beginning, its gradual progress, its prevalence over the whole earth, Just a pebble falling, and as it falls getting bigger, rolling, and as it rolls getting bigger, smiting these other governments, becoming a mountain, becoming as big as the world. And when we get to thinking about that progress of this kingdom, we should remember what our Lord said, that in its eternal working it is like leaven which a woman puts in three measures of meal and ultimately it leavens the whole lump; and when we think about its external development, it is like a grain of mustard seed which a man planted and it grew and grew and grew until it became a tree.


Whenever we hear a pessimist preaching an idea of a kingdom like a tadpole, that commences big at first and tapers to a very fine tail, getting smaller and smaller and worse and worse, then that is not the kingdom Daniel spoke of.


His kingdom commences small and gets bigger and bigger, and mightier and mightier, and I thank God that I don't have to preach concerning a kingdom that is continually "petering out." I am glad that I can preach a gospel that is growing in power and extending in domain and that has the promise of God that it shall fill the whole world and be everlasting. It always did give me the creeps to hear one of those pessimists. They get their ideas from an inexcusable misinterpretation of certain passages of the Scriptures.


I heard one of them say, "Doesn't our Lord say in answer to the direct question, 'Are there few that will be saved?' that 'Straight is the gate and narrow is the way and few there be that find if ?" I said, "Yes, but to whom did he say that?" To the Jews of his day, and then to prevent a misconstruction, while only a few Jews of his day would be saved, he says, "But I say unto you that many shall come from the east and the west and the north and the south and shall recline at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob." The thought reappears in Revelation where John sees the host of the redeemed. He introduces us first to 144,000 Jews and then he shows us a line that no man can see the end of: "I saw a great multitude that no man could number out of every nation and tribe and tongue and kindred." So if the kingdom which Jesus Christ in the days of his flesh set up on this earth is narrowing, that is cause for sadness, but if it is spreading out, growing bigger and bigger, and has perpetuity, that is a cause for gladness.


This visible kingdom of Jesus Christ will be perpetual. Perpetuity is its heritage.


We need not be afraid to preach its perpetuity and its visibility, with visible subjects, with visible ordinances, with a visible church charged with its administration. It will not be sponged off the board, any of it, neither the kingdom nor its gospel nor its church nor its ordinances. They will stand until the rivers shall be emptied into the sea. As Dr. Burleson used to say: "It will be standing when grass quits growing, and we should not be afraid to preach perpetuity." Let us not be too sure that we can take a surveying chain and trace that perpetuity through human agencies and human history, but we may certainly stand on the declaration of God's Word that this kingdom is everlasting:
Forasmuch as thou sawest that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.


 Over and over again in this book, Daniel holds out, as he explains the thought of this first dream as a light that gets bigger and bigger and brighter and brighter, that the saints shall possess the kingdoms of the world.


I expect to see (in the flesh or out of the flesh – it matters not – ) every mountain of this earth or mountain range and every valley between and every plain, whether rich red land like the Panhandle or dry sand like the Sahara Desert; and every zone, Arctic, Temperate, or Torrid: every iceberg shivering in the Aurora Borealis around the North Pole or South Pole, have floating over it the great white conquering banner of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.


We are to have every bit of it, and the time will come when no fallen angel will flap his wing and make a shadow on any part of it and when no wicked man shall crush beneath his feet any of its beautiful or sweet flowers, but when the meek shall inherit the earth, and throughout the whole earth, after its regeneration, there shall dwell eternal righteousness.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. Give, in order, the prophetic sections of the book of Daniel.

 

2. Show the unity of the book from these sections.

 

3. Show the culmination of the book in person and fact.

 

4. In what respect only are secular governments considered in this book and throughout the Bible?

 

5. Show the relations of the prophetic sections to each other and how all the rest are developments of the first.

 

6. Give, in order, all the developments of the messianic thought.

 

7. Give the several antichrists, citing passages for each.

 

8. What great doctrine of special comfort do all these prophecies show?

 

9. Give particulars to show the influence of the man and the book on later ages.

 

10. Name the five world empires of Daniel 2.

 

11. What the characteristics of the fifth, who its author and when set up?

 

 

VII

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE RELATED PROPHETIC SECTIONS OF DANIEL (CONTINUED)

Daniel 7:1-28

 


In the preceding chapter were named, in order, all the prophetic sections in this book, and it was shown that the seven later sections were but developments of the first. In that first section (Dan. 2:31-45), we found foreshown the rise, in succession, of five empires – four human, one divine – all visible, all universal, and the last everlasting. We found the four human empires to be the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Grecian, and Roman, and the divine empire to be the everlasting kingdom set up by our Lord while on earth.


Attention has already been called to the contention of the radical critics that, in the mind of the author, the kingdom of the Medes was conceived of as distinct from, and prior to, the kingdom of the Persians, and therefore from the author's viewpoint, the four human empires, in succession, were the Babylonian, the Median, the Persian, the Grecian; or as others of them contended, the four empires were Assyrian, Babylonian, Medo-Persian, and Grecian.


It has already been shown that the first of these contentions is every way untenable, being flatly contradicted by the whole tenor of the book, and that the latter is expressly contradicted by the declaration that the Babylonian is the first of series (2:38).


That the mind may be fortified against the assertion that the author regarded the Medes and Persians as distinct, constituting two of the four kingdoms, an assertion in order to make the Grecian the last, and then by dating the book after Antiochus Epiphanes, destroys its predictive character, the argument is here restated:


1. The book declares that the empire succeeding the Babylonian was that of the Medes and Persians (5:28), and not the Medes alone.


2. Their laws are the laws of one government (6:8, 12, 15).


3. The dual nature of the constituent parts of the one government is set forth in all the symbols, namely (1) the chest and arms of silver (2:32); (2) the lop-sided bear, one side higher than the other (7:5) ; (3) the two-horned ram, one horn higher than the other (8:3). To clinch matters this one ram represents a single government whose horns are expressly interpreted to be the kings of Media and Persia (8:20).


4. The he-goat is the Grecian, or third empire (8:21).


5. Antiochus Epiphanes is the little horn of the Grecian Empire (8:9-12, 23-25), who is the first anti-christ.


6. But after this cometh a fourth beast, or government, with ten horns, and later a little horn, which is the second antichrist (7:7-8, and Rev. 13:1-8). The ruler of this changed beast-government is the pope (Rev. 13:11).


All these critics make Antiochus the little horn of this Greek Government in chapter 8, but cannot dispose of another little horn on the fourth beast.


It is impossible to make the fourth beast (7) with its tin horns and later a little horn plucking up three of the ten horns, the same as the he-goat (8), with first one horn, then four, then a little horn. Only one blinded by a presupposition would attempt it.


We have found a little stone of chapter 2 to be the kingdom of God, with these characteristics:


1. It is a visible kingdom, like the others.


2. It is to be set up by the God of heaven, not man.


3. It is to be set up in the days of the fourth human empire.


4. It is to be progressive, growing larger and larger. It will not be like a tadpole, big at the head and tapering into a small tail, but like a river, small at its fountain but a sea at the last.


5. It will overturn all human governments.


6. It will be universal – fill the whole earth.


We have seen that Daniel's kingdom of God and the time of its appearing furnished the title of the new government to John the Baptist, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul, and prepared men to look for it just when it came, and the king's title, "Son of man" (Dan. 7:13) was adopted by our Lord.


Both of the next two prophetic sections (4:20-33; 5:25-28) have been considered in the discussion of the historical sections and are but elaborations of the first world empire of chapter 2, merely showing what befell the first and last of its kings and marking the transition to the second world empire. We need to note here but a few things additional concerning them. The prophecy in 4:14-17, and as interpreted in 4:24-26, is very remarkable. None but God could have foreshown the coming of such a disease upon the king of Babylon, and his restoration to both mind and kingdom after seven years. The fulfilment came in twelve months after his recovery.


The prophecy of the handwriting on the wall (5:25-28) was fulfilled that very night.


So we pass on to the fourth prophecy (7). The date of the prophecy is clear, the first year of Belshazzar. The correspondence of this prophecy with the first in chapter 2 is very remarkable, while additional details are very striking. The prophet beholds a sea, the Mediterranean, which symbolizes the nations here as in Psalm 65:7 and in the Revelation of John. The four winds which break out on this sea signify the angelic ministration in the development of nations. No nation arises by chance.


This brings us to the consideration of Daniel's doctrine of the angels as related to the nations. The Septuagint version renders Deuteronomy 32:8 thus: "He set the nations according to the angels of God." We will see later in the book that while Michael, the archangel, is the angel of the elect nation, other angels seem to have charge of other nations. We see in Revelation 13:1 how Satan stood at the sea and called up the beast nation of that chapter, corresponding to the fourth beast of this chapter. And as Satan is the usurping prince of this world, we may understand how his angels may be charged with the development and guidance of evil nations, always, however, subject to the limitations of God's paramount and supreme government. This will enable us to understand a later passage (Dan. 10:13), wherein the Angel or Prince of Persia hindered the favorable purposes of the Son of God toward the Jews and how Michael, the angel of the elect nation, came to aid their cause. The ministry of angels, both good and bad, and their special interest in national movements appear abundantly in the Old Testament books which precede Daniel and reappear in New Testament books. We see how one tempted David to number Israel and another is permitted to deceive Ahab. In the Psalms it is said, "He maketh his angels winds."


What the reader should note particularly is that governments neither rise nor fall of themselves alone. The first beast or government to arise from the wind-whipped or angel-disturbed sea is thus described: "The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings; I beheld till the kings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made to stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it" (7:4). This winged lion is like the golden head of the image in chapter 2, a symbol of the Babylonian government, or first world empire. But a great change has come since the days of Nebuchadnezzar. The lion has lost his wings. He is now but a tame beast with the timid heart of a man. Aggressiveness and conquest have ceased. The histories and monumental inscriptions show the ever-increasing power of Persia and the decadence of Babylon.


The second beast is thus described: "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 between the teeth of it, and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh" (7:5).


This, like the silver chest and arms of the image in chapter 2, symbolizes Medo-Persia, one side higher than the other. But there is a distinct advance in the thought. The three ribs represent the great governments this bear devoured, which were Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt. They were the great governments which historically touched Israel.


The third beast is thus described: "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." This leopard, like the brazen body and thighs of the image in chapter 2, evidently refers to the Grecian kingdom, whose four wings refer to the rapidity of its progress, and whose four heads refer to its divisions in four parts, as we shall particularly consider in the next prophetic section.


Evidently the interest of this vision centers in the fourth beast or government, and in the crowning of the king of the fifth empire. In the first vision (chapter 2) we found the fourth government one of iron, but a division later into ten parts, or toes, and a decadence indicated by the commingled clay. Here there is a great advance in the thought:
After this I saw in the night visions, and, behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth; it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things. It is terrible and powerful. The iron appears in its teeth. The divisions are no longer toes, but ten horns. The entirely new idea is a little horn which plucks up three of the ten horns. The little horn has the eyes of a man and speaks great things.


This is not only the Rome of the Caesars, in whose days the kingdom of God was set up, but it is Rome after its destruction as a political power and its division into the ten European governments that constituted its element before its disintegration. It is not only that, but it is a Rome diverse. This diversity appears in its latest transformation when the little horn coming up that plucks up three of the ten horns or kingdoms and having the eyes of a man, speaks great swelling things. The nature of the diversity better appears in the Revelation of John, where the same beast is under consideration:
And I stood upon the sand of the sea and I saw a beast coming up out of the sea having ten horns and seven heads and on his horns ten diadems and on his heads names of blasphemy, and the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard and his feet were as the feet of a bear and his mouth as the mouth of a lion, and the dragon gave him his power and his throne and his great authority, and I saw one of his heads as though it had been smitten unto death, but his death stroke was healed and the whole earth wondered after the beast and they worshipped the dragon [Satan] because he gave his authority unto the beast, and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to war with him? And there was given to him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies and there was given to him authority to continue forty-two months and he opened his mouth for blasphemies against God to blaspheme his name and his tabernacle, even them that were in the heavens, and it was given unto him to make war with the saints and to overcome them and there was given unto him authority over every people, tribe, tongue, and nation and all that were upon the earth shall worship him, everyone whose name hath not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of the Lamb that hath been slain. Every man that hath ears to hear let him hear.


And then he goes on to say to say, "I saw another beast with two horns like a ram, but speaking like a dragon," and he takes charge of this other beast. It is perfectly evident that the diversity which is here spoken of is the change in the nature of the government. We have first the Rome of the Caesars, not diverse in political nature from the three preceding world empires – then the downfall of this mere political government, then a religio-political Roman Empire, a union of church and state, with the church on top, then in the lamb who speaks like a dragon, the papacy which rules this diverse government. Kings of political governments came to put their necks under the heel of the pope that sat at the head of this holy Roman Empire, for example, Henry of Germany. It was to this former custom Bismarck referred when he said that his king of Germany would never come to Canossa.


In the book of Revelation, which is largely an elaboration of Daniel, we find that this remarkable development of the fourth beast is still at Rome. It still has somewhat universal dominion over men, but it is a religio-political government. It claims to get the two swords, secular and spiritual, and the two keys, the key of this world and the key to the world to come. No wonder that beast was dreadful and powerful, and particularly diverse. We see him come in the Caesars, whose legions conquered the world, trampled under foot everything that opposed it, and with its iron teeth crushed the bones of its enemies. Then in the book of Revelation we see political Rome cast into the sea like a burning volcano, then rise up a new Rome with the death stroke of the beast healed, with a new head, a head that looks like a lamb but speaks like a dragon. There is the little horn of this Rome.


We now come to what this chapter has to say about the fifth world empire. In the first prophetic section we saw the kingdom of God coming in the days of the Roman kings. Now a new thing about that kingdom of God is introduced, an entirely new thought:
And I beheld till thrones were placed and one that was the Ancient of Days did sit. His raiment was white as snow; the hair of his head like pure wool, and his throne was like the fiery flame and wheels thereof burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth before him. Thousands of thousands ministered unto him and ten thousand times ten thousands stood before him.


When we read that and read the vision of glory in Isaiah 6 and in Ezekiel I and in Revelation 4, we can't mistake the import. It is the throne of grace. But I particularly call attention to this:
I saw in the night visions and lo, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto the Son of man, and he came even to the Ancient of Days and they brought him near before him and there was given unto him dominion and glory and a kingdom that all the peoples, nations, and languages under heaven should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.


When Daniel saw these things it greatly troubled him. His very soul trembled at that diverse beast with the ten horns and the little horn plucking up three horns and its awful power, while he was thrilled at the exaltation of the king of the fifth empire. And this section goes on to show how his mind puts questions. What is the meaning of this fourth beast and the meaning of that little horn, and what is the meaning of one like the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven to the Ancient of Days? I said that the first prophetic section showed the kingdom of heaven as it was set up. How the gospel of it commenced: "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." The King came and was acknowledged at his baptism, and he was manifested on Palm Sunday that preceded his crucifixion. But this chapter shows his exaltation and enthronement. When he left the earth after his crucifixion the last sight they had of him, he was going up in the clouds. This chapter takes that thought up: "I saw one like the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven to the Ancient of Days." Peter saw him going up, Daniel sees him after he gets there, and as he goes up, we find the fulfilment of the Psalm:
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors; and let the King of Glory come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord of hosts, mighty to save. Why do the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing? . . . Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion. – PSALM 2:1,6.


The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool.


Now it is this prophecy of Daniel which first of all shows the exaltation and enthronement and mediatorial rule of the Messiah. The Messiah's work here on earth was preparatory to his heavenly rule. His work here on earth was expiatory, but when he rose from the dead he went up to take his seat at the right hand of the majesty on high and there he sits as King, reigns as King and judges the nations until the time of his second advent. So what the theologians call the session of Jesus Christ, the sitting of Jesus Christ at the right hand of the Father on high, is all the time a session of judgments, of rulings, of governments over the affairs of this world, reigning as head over all things to his people, and causing all things to work together for their good and bringing to pass the overturning of every obstacle that opposes the dissemination of his truth and bringing the whole earth in subjection to him. That is the clear teaching of this passage.


Here it is important for the reader to see Nebuchadnezzar in the day of his greatest glory looking around upon the brazen walls of Babylon, its terraced gardens in the skies, its marvelous buildings and temples of its gods, and he feeling that all the nations of the earth were subject to him and saying, "This is that great Babylon which I have built." Take a look at the glory of that empire. Then we see Alexander coming, conquering the world and weeping that there are no more worlds to conquer, and there we have a high conception of world power. We see Rome attaining the universal supremacy under the Caesars, and that glory is great. Then the succeeding Rome of the papacy has a peculiar glory, but the glory of the King of the fifth empire as here described infinitely surpasses all. It prepares us to understand how comforting was the vision of this throne in glory (Rev. 4), after considering the confused condition of the churches on earth (Rev. 2-3). The church view on earth was depressing; the glory view in heaven was cheering. The earth view of typical Israel was depressing to Isaiah and Ezekiel; their heavenly view of the throne above was cheering (Isa. 6; Ezek. 1).


To Daniel the vision of succeeding world empires, all op-pressing the saints, whether merely political, or religio-political, was very depressing, but the vision of the session of Messiah at the right hand of God as everlasting priest, and King of kings, was cheering in its assurance that the saints would yet possess the earth. A long time off, indeed, but coming. Many centuries of intervening trials, indeed, yet temporary.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What is the meaning of the sea, and the winds in chapter 7?

 

2. Show the correspondence of the four beasts of this vision with four sections of Nebuchadnezzar's dream image in chapter 2, and then how the added details and changes of the first three here.

 

3. Particularly, what is the addition to the fourth world empire in the vision, and wherein the diversity, and what the meaning of this transformation of the fourth government?

 

4. What supernatural ministry, good and bad, has to do with the rise of nations?

 

5. Show from the corresponding part of Revelation what supernatural force causes the rise of this fourth world empire and was the mighty factor in its change into a diverse world empire.

 

6. According to Revelation 13, what and who was the head of this diverse world empire?

 

7. What special advance in thought of the fifth world empire in this vision?

 

8. When did this enthronement of the king of the fifth empire occur and what Old Testament prophecies did it fulfil?

 

9. Show how a vision of this throne of grace cheered Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, in their days of typical Israel, and how a similar vision cheered John on Patmos, in the days of the antitypical Israel.

 

10. This session of the Messiah at the right hand of God as everlasting priest and king, is for what and for how long, and to be followed by what?

 

 

VIII

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE RELATED PROPHETIC SECTIONS OF DANIEL (CONTINUED)

Daniel 8:1-27

 


This chapter considers the fifth prophetic section of the book of Daniel found in chapter 8. The theme of the chapter is the overthrow of the Medo-Persian Empire by Alexander the Great, the fourfold division of his empire, and the oppression of Israel by Antiochus Epiphanes, a later king of one of the four divisions.


The date of the prophecy is the third year of the reign of Belshazzar, and if we had observed the order of time, both this and the preceding chapter would have come before the history in chapter 5.


The language of chapter 8 is Hebrew, that is, the Hebrew language is resumed here and continued to the end. The middle section of the book of Daniel is in Aramaic. The place of the vision cannot be determined from the language of the book. (I am quoting from the Jewish version for a particular reason on this lesson).
In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared unto me, to me, Daniel, after that which had appeared unto me at the first [he had seen a vision the first year of Belshazzer's reign], and I saw in the vision and it came to pass in my seeing that I was at Shushan, the capital, which is in the province of Elam, and I saw in the vision as though I was by the river Ulai.


It does not follow that Daniel was at Shushan (or Susa, as the name is more generally called) in the body. It may only mean that he was there in vision, just as in Ezekiel he says, "In a vision, I was at Jerusalem," though he never left the place of his captivity in Babylon. Susa, or Shushan, which later became the Persian capital under Cyrus, had long been a noted place. We have a monumental inscription concerning it made by Asshur-banipal, the Assyrian king, who conquered Manasseh 668 B.C., at least sixty years before the Babylonian Empire obtained its supremacy, and a century and a half before the Persian supremacy, to this effect: "Shushan, the great city, the seat of their gods, the place of their oracles, I captured"; that is, Assyria had its supremacy before Babylonia, and before the days of the Assyrian supremacy Susa was a great city and the capital of Elam. So we need not be disturbed by the contention of the radical critics that Daniel mentions the city and palace at Susa before the Persians came into power and made it their capital. In the later books of Nehemiah and Esther, Susa is the Persian capital, but long before Daniel's day it was a great city and the capital of Elam. This vision presents the river Ulai. It was a small artificial river near Susa, connecting two other rivers, and Pliny, a Roman writer, calls it Eulaeris. Asshur-banipal boasts that he covered its waters with blood. We come now to the vision that he saw. First, the ram.


And I lifted up mine eyes and saw and behold there was a ram standing before the river and he had two horns and the horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the highest one came up last. I saw this ram butting westward, northward, and southward. [He comes from the east himself, and he dosen't butt backward. The directions of the progress of the empire are signified.] So that no beast could stand before him, and no one was there to deliver out of his hand, and he did according to hia will and became great. – DANIEL 8:3-4.


In Daniel 2:32 the symbol of the Medo-Persian Empire is the breast and the two arms of silver; the breast indicates its unity and the arms its duality. Its characteristic in that first vision is its inferiority to the Babylonian Empire. In Daniel 7:5 (which we considered in the last chapter) the symbol is the bear with one side higher than the other. The unity is in the one animal and the duality is in the two sides, with this distinction, that one side is higher than the other. There it appears with three ribs in its teeth, indicating extent of its power over Assyria, Babylonia, and Egypt, the great countries heretofore related to Israel. Its characteristic is a devourer, but here the symbol of this second empire, the Medo-Persian, is a ram. The unity is expressed in the one beast, its duality in the two horns; the distinction is that one horn is higher than the other and a new distinction – it is the second horn which is the higher, that is, the rise of the Persian power was later than that of the Medes, but it went higher after it got started. Here also, instead of the three ribs of the bear, we have the true directions of its conquest, the ram coming from the east pushes westward, that is, from Babylon to the Mediterranean Sea; pushes northward, that is, to the old realm of Assyria, even up to the Caspian Sea, pushes south-ward, that is, to Egypt. So that these pushings agree with the three ribs we had in a preceding section. His characteristic here is that he is a conqueror, for our record says, "No beast could stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand, for he did according to his will and magnified himself." I have several times called attention to these developments by an elaboration of details from the first vision in the second chapter of this book. These developments are obvious and evident. In like manner we may trace the developments in the third empire.
And as I was looking attentively at the ram, behold, there came a shaggy he-goat from the west. [The ram was from the east, but the goat is coming from the west.] He came from the west over the face of the whole earth without touching the ground. [I suppose he means, except in the high places.] And the goat had a sightly large horn between his eyes and he came as far as the ram that had two horns that I had seen standing before the river, and he ran at him with furious power. [We can see with our imagination that goat.] And I saw him coming closer unto the ram. [The old saying is that we can never conquer until we shorten our sword, that is, by fighting at close range. The goat believes in fighting at close range.] I saw him coming closer unto the ram and he became highly enraged against the ram and stuck the ram and broke his two horns, and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, and he cast him down to the ground and stamped upon him. And there was no one to deliver the ram out of his hand, and the shaggy he-goat became very great. – DANIEL 8:5-8.


In Daniel 2:32 the symbol of this third empire is the lower part of the body of the image and the thighs, the body indicating the unity, the thighs the duality, or only those two divisions which touch the history of Israel. Its characteristic there is the universality of its conquests, "which shall bear rule over all the earth." In 7:6, presented in our last chapter, the symbol is the four-winged leopard, the wings indicating its speed of conquest, just like that goat coming without touching the ground; the one beast indicates the unity, the four heads indicating its subsequent divisions and its characteristic, "and dominion was given to it."


In this chapter the symbol of the same empire is a he-goat coming from the west, as the ram had come from the east, and the characteristic is "over the whole earth and touched not the ground," which answers to the wings of the leopard and indicates the speed of his conquests. The one great horn indicates the unity of the kingdom under its first king, who magnifies himself exceedingly; the fury and destructive power of his assault on the ram is very vividly imaged. The four notable horns that came up after the one great horn was broken off, indicates the division of his empire into four parts after the death of the first king, but with only two of these four parts is this book concerned. The symbolism now advances to an entirely new element.
And out of one of the four horns came forth a little horn "which became exceedingly great toward the south and toward the east and toward the glorious land, [That is, toward Egypt, toward the old Persian realm, and toward Judea particularly.] And it became great even up to the hosts of heaven, and cast down to the ground some of the hosts and of the saints and trod them under his foot. Yea, it magnified itself even up to the Prince of the hosts and by it the continual sacrifice was taken away and the place of his sanctuary was cast down and the host is given up together with the continual sacrifice by reason of transgression and it casteth down the truth to the ground and it doeth this and is prosperous. – DANIEL 8:9-12,


In the same chapter we have the interpretation:
The ram that thou sawest with the two horns signifieth the king of the Medes and Persians, and the shaggy he-goat is the king of Greece, and the great horn which is between his eyes is the first king that is, Alexander the Great] but that it was broken [Alexander died in Babylon] and that four others sprang up into its stead, signifies that four kingdoms will spring up out of the nation, but not with his power [that is, no one of these will equal the power of Alexander the Great]. DANIEL 8:20-22.


Any schoolboy who is familiar with the history of Alexander the Great knows that even at his death he made provision for this division of his kingdom. The divisions were these: (1) Macedonia, including Greece proper, was one, Cassander, the king. Now with that we have very little to do in this book. (2) Asia Minor went to Lysimachus. With that we have very little to do. (3) Syria was assigned to Seleucus. With that we have the most to do. (4) Egypt was given to Ptolemy. With that we have much to do in this book.


This book, when referring to Syria, that division of Alexander's empire with its capital at Antioch, calls it the Kingdom of the North, and Egypt is called the Kingdom of the South. The rulers of Syria were called Seleucidae from Seleucus, the general that obtained that kingdom; the Egyptian kings were called Ptolemies from Ptolemy, that great general of Alexander who obtained that kingdom.


We will now go on with the interpretation. "And in the latter time of their kingdom," that is, of the kingdom of these four divisions later on in history, "when the transgressors have filled their measure of guilt," that is, the Jewish transgressors, "there will arise a king [now we come to the little-horn man], of an impudent face and understanding deep schemes, and his power will be mighty, but not by his own power; and he will destroy wonderfully, and he will prosper while he doeth this, and he will destroy very many of the people of the saints, and through his intelligence, and because he prospereth in craftiness in his hand, and in his heart will he magnify himself and in peace will he destroy many. He will also stand up against the Prince of princes," that is, the God of heaven himself, "but without human hand will he be broken." That is the interpretation.


When Daniel saw the vision of the ram with his two horns, the he-goat with one horn, the destruction of the ram, the death of the first king, or the breaking of the horn of the he-goat, the rising up of four kingdoms in the place of Alexander's kingdom and later on in the Grecian history, that is to say, about 140 years, there comes to the throne of Syria by craftiness of his own power a king known in history as Antiochus Epiphanes. Some of his contemporaries call him Antiochus Epimanes, which means, "mad man," making a play upon the word.


This Antiochus Epiphanes [we find an account of what he did, not only here in this book but in First Maccabees] makes war with Egypt. His object is this: He wants to hedge against the rising power of Rome, the fourth empire, before which Macedonia and Asia Minor have already fallen. In order to do this he seeks to unite the Egyptian division with the Syrian division and half-way between him and Egypt is the Holy Land, and in order to make his kingdom, as he lays it out in his mind, homogeneous, he wants but one religion in it) just as Louis XIV said there could be but one religion in France, that is, Roman Catholicism, deeming it necessary to the safety of the state to have no troubles about religion. So after he had defeated the king of Egypt in battle in the one hundred and forty third year of the Grecian supremacy, he came to Jerusalem and took it, and took away its sacred vessels. A great many of the apostate Jews had determined to unite with him on this one religion. Men that would be called Sadducees in a later day (and they started about this time), men that thought religion should yield to political necessities, made a covenant with him, and so he established in the city of Jerusalem the idol worship of Jupiter, and these apostate Jews joined him in it. He sacrificed a hog on the sacred altar and positively forbade any Jew to observe the Commandments of Moses' law. They were not to be circumcised, they were not to make an offering in the Temple. The whole sacrifice should cease – that continual offering every evening and every morning that they had been used to since the days of Solomon. Ever since the days of Moses in the wilderness that evening and morning service had been kept up. He took away that continual sacrifice, and defiled the Temple. That put him against the God of heaven himself. This erection of an idol in the holy place is the first abomination of desolation. It was one of the most blasphemous and wicked usurpations of power known to history, made him the first antichrist and handed down his name to the execration of all succeeding generations. The first book of Maccabees will ever be regarded as a glorious history of this dark period.


The record now passes to a new theme, the voices of the angels, showing heaven's interest in these tragic earthly affairs: "Then did I hear a certain holy one speaking, and a holy one said unto the unknown one who was speaking. For how long is the vision concerning the continual sacrifice, and the wasting transgression, to give up both the sanctuary and host to be trodden under foot?"


Well angels might be concerned. There had been no interruption of this continual sacrifice for many centuries. Paul says, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels."


Daniel now hears the angels talking, and understands what they say. One holy one says to another holy one, "How long is this to last, this subjection of the host, that is, the people of Israel, this cessation of the continued sacrifice; how long is it to last? . . . And he said unto him, Until two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings, when the sanctuary shall be justified," that is, purified or cleansed. Two thousand and three hundred days. I said that in the one hundred and forty-third year of Greek history Antiochus took Jerusalem and in the one hundred and forty-ninth year Antiochus died. By taking the month dates in these years, the interval is six years and one hundred and ten days. Counting a year 360 days, which the Jews did, that makes 2,300 days from the day that he entered Jerusalem and subjected the host of the Jews to him until by his death their oppression ceased, so far as he was concerned. It was not 2,300 days until Judas Maccabeus recaptured Jerusalem and purified the sanctuary, but the question covers more than the purification of the sanctuary; the question propounded was this: "For how long is the vision concerning the continual sacrifice and wasting transgression to give up both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?" The answer is 2,300 days in the first book of Maccabees.

 

THE SON OF GOD


We now come to a still more marvelous thing – more marvelous than the voices of the angels to which Daniel has been listening. Here is a new thing, verse 15: "And it came to pass when I, even I, Daniel, saw the vision, and sought for understanding, that, behold, there was standing opposite to me something like the appearance of a man." Here we learn first that Daniel did not understand his own vision, but sought to understand it. The contention of the radical critics that a prophet is conscious of the meaning of his prophecy and therefore limits his prophecy to the matters of his own time of which he has information, is every way baseless. A passage from the New Testament is very pertinent here:
Concerning which salvation the prophets sought and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you, searching what time or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them did point unto, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that should follow them. To whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto you, did they minister these things, which now have been announced unto you through them that preached the gospel unto you by the Holy Spirit sent forth from heaven, which things angels desire to look into.


Not only the prophets did not understand, but the angelsin heaven do not understand all the things foretold in symbol, ceremonial, type, vision, and prophecy. They are themselves instructed by the church in the events as they are fulfilled.
Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, was this grace given, to preach unto the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery which for ages hath been hid in God, who created all things; to the intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known through the Church the manifold wisdom of God. – EPHESIANS 3:8-11.


Daniel couldn't understand what he saw, and angels, unless instructed, cannot understand these future events. They have no omniscience, but as the church in its history unfolds, unrolls the wisdom of God, foretold for future ages, the onlooking angels see and understand, "which things the angels desire to look into," and that curiosity of the angels is admirably expressed in the golden cherubim with outspread wings bending over and looking intently down upon the blood-stained mercy seat.


But the chief thing is: "There was standing opposite to me something like the appearance of a man and I heard the voice of a man." This occurs between the banks of the Ulia, "and it called and said, Gabriel, cause this one to understand this vision." That was a pre-manifestation of Christ. We will come to another far more startling pre-manifestation when we get to chapter 10, but Christ was there as the Son of God, and Daniel felt his presence, saw the form like the form of the son of man, which didn't speak to Daniel, but he spoke to the angel Gabriel, and tells Gabriel to explain to Daniel:
So he came close to where I stood and when he came I was terrified. I fell on my face. But he said unto me. Oh son of man; for the time of the end shall be the vision. Now as he was speaking with me I fell down in amazement on my face to the ground but he touched me and set me upright where I had been standing. – DANIEL.


In Genesis 15, Abraham sees in vision the Word of God. That is the first time the phrase, "Word of God," occurs. He sees the Logos, and the Logos talks with him, and after a while takes hold of his hand and leads him out of the tent and tells him to look up and count the stars of heaven if he can, and to know that his seed will be more numerous than they. We had one pre-manifestation of the Son of God, a fourth one, walking with them in the furnace. Thus the Son of God himself, through Gabriel, gives the interpretation we have already considered.

 

THE DEATH OF AN1TOCHUS


The fortunes of this wicked king were fast becoming desperate. Egypt was lost on the south, Rome had checked him there and was pressing him hard on the east. His affairs in Judea, under his generals, were in bad shape through the triumphs of Judas Maccabeus. He needed money to enlist and support a larger army against the victorious Jews. In this extremity he determines to seize the rich city of Elmias, in Persia, and rob its temple, stored with rich offerings under Persian rule and still richer gifts from the liberality of Alexander the Great. Its sturdy citizens, always jealous of the privileges of the city, resisted and defeated him. This disaster was followed by the news of the triumph of Judas' Maccabeus over his general Lysias, the recapture of Jerusalem and the purification of the sanctuary. The unwelcome tidings completely broke his spirit. He died in despair by the judgment of God. The record says, "broken without hand." The first book of Maccabees, chapter 6, gives a thrilling account of his downfall, and says that in his dying confession he attributed all his misfortune to his persecution of the Jews and their religion. His doom reminds us of the remorse and despair of Judas Iscariot.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What the date of this vision?

 

2. Where the scene of the vision?

 

3. How do you reply to the contention of the critics that reference to Susa indicates a late origin of the book?

 

4. To which two world empires is the vision limited?

 

5. Show the conformity of the vision with the preceding visions (2, 7) in their relation to these two empires, and what new details appear here?

 

6. Who is the "little born" of this vision and how is it distinguished from the "little horn" in chapter 7?

 

7. What the most infamous deed of Antiochus?

 

8. What political reasons prompted him to destroy the religion of Jehovah, and what parallel in later history for similar reasons?

 

9. What was the abomination of desolation he placed in the Temple?

 

10. What great hero overthrew his power in Judea and purified the Temple?

 

11. What Jewish inter-biblical book gives a thrilling history of this period?

 

12. Give an account of the death of Antiochus and its occasion.

 

13. How do you explain the time period, 2,300 evenings and mornings?

 

14. What interest in heaven was excited by the impiety of Antiochus?

 

15. What voices did Daniel hear? What desire did these voices excite in Daniel?

 

 

IX

 

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THE MARVELOUS NINTH CHAPTER OF DANIEL

Daniel 9:1-27

 


This chapter contains the most marvelous prophecy of the Old Testament. It is also the most remarkable in its messianic features. More definitely than all others together, it fixes the date of the first coming of the Messiah. Accordingly, its confirmation in the New Testament, especially when considered with its cognate visions, goes beyond any other Old Testament book except the Law. Our Lord himself attests it in a most extraordinary way. Moreover, in every age since its publication, it has exceptionally attracted the attention of Old Testament students, and has called forth a vast volume of literature. For 2,500 years the scholars of the world, whether saints or sinners, Jews or Gentiles, Christians or infidels, have devoted themselves to its exposition. In the efforts to defend, on the one hand, or to discredit on the other, every word in it has been under a thousand microscopes of criticism. An ordinary lifetime would hardly suffice for reading all the literature pro and con that it has evoked. Let us, reverently and prayerfully, address ourselves to its exposition.


I Commence by submitting this first and simplest outline of the whole chapter.
I.

 

THE DATE AND OCCASION, (9:1-2)


The date is the first year of Darius the Mede, about one year after the capture of Babylon by the Medes and Persians, and about one year before the end of Jeremiah's predicted seventy years of Jewish servitude to Babylon. Daniel is studying the Jewish Scriptures – all the books then extant Our English word "books" in verse 2 translate a Hebrew term in the plural that, in usage, signifies either all the Jewish Scriptures collectively, or a group of them, as "the books of Moses," or merely an epistle, which is only a fragment of a book, as in 2 Kings 19:14 and Isaiah 37:14.


It is certain that Jeremiah had sent a letter to the Jews in Babylon, which embodies much of the precise matter which Daniel is studying, and to whose very peculiarities of phraseology this ninth chapter refers several times. So far, then, as one example of the usage may determine, it may be that it is only Jeremiah's letter that Daniel is studying. The whole context, however, seems to require the meaning that the more extended usage of the word justifies. The whole book of Jeremiah was evidently before him, since the letter says nothing of "desolation," so specially clear in Jeremiah 25:11, and so pointedly quoted in verse 2 of this chapter. Moreover, the prayer specially cites the law of Moses, indicates familiarity with the Psalms, cites not only the continuous history of the people as recorded by the prophets, but also the messages of the prophets, so that we may conclude, fairly, that Daniel possessed all the books of the canon then extant, that is to say, all but Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, 2 Chronicles, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. At any rate, one of the particular matters engaging his attention is Jeremiah's prediction of the seventy years' servitude, which period he now understands to be near its end. So that we need first to consider as an important element of the occasion of Daniel's prayer:


1. Jeremiah's seventy years. Some have supposed that Jeremiah predicts two periods of seventy years – one of the "servitude" and the other of the "desolation." The three most important passages in his book bearing on the matter are: 25:8-12; 27:16-22; 29:1-10. In these passages and elsewhere in his book, the prophet foretells, with precision, the end of an independent Jewish monarchy by the servitude of the kings of Judah to Babylon, the deportation of certain captives, the spoliation of a part of the sacred vessels of the sanctuary, and finally, the total destruction of the city, with a larger deportation of Captives. The prophet then foretells that this servitude shall last seventy years; that these captives and these captured vessels shall not return to Jerusalem before that time; that this captivity is by the will of God, whose unconscious servant Nebuchadnezzar is, and is meant for good and not evil, since those led into captivity shall not only have a better fate than is reserved for the remnant in Judah, but that the captives preserved in Babylon shall become the true seed of a better nation in the future. He therefore urges the captives to indulge in no vain hopes of speedy release, but to address themselves to the cultivation of the land assigned to them in Babylon, and to pray for the peace and prosperity of Babylon, as for their own peace and prosperity. He then assures them at the end of the seventy years they shall return to their native land. This is the period of seventy years which furnishes the first element of the occasion of Daniel's prayer.


Following the general view of only one period of seventy years, we now proceed to determine its beginning and end. The period commences 606 B. c., in the third year of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, as appears from 2 Kings 24:1; 2 Chronicles 36: 5-7; Daniel 1:1. On that date the independent Jewish monarchy ends, just 490 years after the coronation of Saul, the first king, which itself was just 490 years after the entering into Canaan. Thus the monarchy of the Chosen People died a royal death with the good King Josiah at the battle of Megiddo – a battle so disastrous that it became the type of the great spiritual battle of Armageddon in John's Apocalypse, to be followed by the battle of Jehoshaphat and because of the sorrows of apostate Israel on beholding the Messiah whom they have pierced. True, three members of Josiah's family held the throne for a very few years, but only as servants of the king of Babylon. So in this case it is true that Jehoiakim, bound in fetters, is temporarily released and retains a nominal authority under Nebuchadnezzar by yielding to his spoiler a part of the sacred vessels of the Temple and certain selected youths of the royal family, including Daniel, who are to become servants in the imperial household of Babylon. This was the first deportation of the captives from Judea. With this beginning of the period fixed, we find that it ends 536 B. c., according to the express statements of 2 Chronicles 36:24-25; and Ezra 1:1-3, which is the year after Cyrus conquered Babylon. We may, therefore, understand why this prediction of the seventy years became an occasion for Daniel's prayer – only one year remains of the seventy. Babylon has fallen as Jeremiah predicted, but there is no sign in the political sky of the new regime to intimate the return of the captive Jews. They remain in bondage to the Medes and Persians, as they had been to Babylon. Therefore, Daniel prays for the fulfilment of the promise.


2. The second element in the occasion of the prayer is the denunciation of the Levitical law, that for every seventh year the Holy land was denied its sabbath of rest, the people should remain one year in bondage (Lev. 25:2-4, 26:34-43; 2 Chronicles 36:24). From Saul, 1096 B. c., to Jehoiakim, 606 B. c.,– just 490 years – the land had been robbed of seventy years of rest – one-seventh of the 490ωso this is as precise as the prophecy of Jeremiah in fixing the limit of the bondage.


3. The third element in the occasion of the prayer is the curse and oath of Moses, set forth so vividly in the closing chapters of Deuteronomy, to which the prayer so feelingly refers. Indeed, the prayer itself recites as an occasion of the troubles of the people their continuous sins through every period of their history, whether under Moses, the judges, or the kings – sins against both the Sinaitic covenant and the repeated messages of God through the prophets.


4. A fourth occasion of the prayer may be fairly inferred from the prayer itself, i.e., the prophet's evident consciousness that no real atonement had ever been made for the sins of the people. Their ritualistic atonement had merely symbolized the true remission of sins and passed them over to be provided for in the great antitype of the ceremonial law.


5. Daniel's previous visions also may well constitute an element of the occasion of this prayer. From his interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, he evidently saw that it wag only in the days of the fourth world empire that the God of heaven would set up his gospel kingdom, and far, far beyond its setting up, the stone becomes a mountain and fills the whole earth. Again, in his vision of the four beasts rising up out of the sea, he evidently understands that it is only in the days of the fourth beast and in the time of the eleventh horn of this beast, calling for a remote period after the establishment of the fourth world empire, does the Son of man receive his kingdom of judgments from the Ancient of Days, that is to eventuate in putting the saints of the Most High in possession of the whole earth. And yet, again, in his visions of the two beasts, representing respectively the second and third world empires, he beholds his people near the close of the third empire grievously oppressed and their restored sanctuary defiled. Those considerations, taken together – the 70 weeks of Jeremiah, the curse of the Levitical law concerning the land, the curse and oath of Moses, the prophet's consciousness that the sins of their whole national history have never been really expiated, but only passed over, and the far-off date of the setting up of Messiah's gospel kingdom, and the still more distant date of his kingdom of judgments, and the still more distant date of the prevalence of his millennium kingdom throughout the earth – these constitute sufficient occasion to bow down on his knees in fervent prayer the best and the wisest man. So far the occasion. Let us now consider


II. THE PRAYER, (9:3-19)


This prayer consists of three parts: confession, adoration, and supplication.


1. There is a heartbroken confession of the continuous sins of the whole nation – judges, kings, and people – against both the law and the prophets throughout every period of their history.


2. Over against these sins of the people, the prophet, by adoration places in sharp contrast the attributes of God – eternal righteousness, long-suffering, mercy, forgiveness, truthfulness in both promises and threats, and a watching providence that never sleeps and that never fails to bring home a threatened curse or a promised blessing.


3. Supplication: How fervent, how pathetic, how importunate his prayer! He prays for the holy, but desolate, city: “O Lord, turn thine anger from Jerusalem;" he prays for the Temple: "Shine upon thy sanctuary;" he prays for the forgiveness of the sins of the people. And all this, not for Jerusalem's sake, or the Temple's sake, or the people's sake, but for God's own sake, and for the sake of his great mercies. The prayer closes in these burning words: “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hearken and do; defer not for thine own sake, O my God! For thy city and thy people are called by thy name."

 

III. THE ANSWER TO THE PRAYER, (9:20-27)


The answer is instant. As Daniel says, "While I was speaking and praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people, Israel, and presenting my supplication before Jehovah, my God, for the holy mountain of my God; yea, while I was speaking in the prayer," the answer came; or as the one who brought the answer says: "At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment went forth) and I am come to tell thee."


The answer was not only distant, but mediate, that is to say, through the angel Gabriel: "The man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation, and he instructed me and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee wisdom and understanding."


The answer to the prayer, as conveyed by the angel Gabriel, is the great prophecy which we are now to expound, and which is thus rendered in the American Standard Version:
Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city to finish transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy. Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the anointed one, the prince, shall be seven weeks, and three score and two weeks; it shall be built again, with street and moat, even in troublous times. And after the three score and two weeks shall the anointed one be cut off, and shall have nothing; and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and even unto the end shall be war; desolations are determined. And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week; and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the obligation to cease; and upon the wing of abominations shall come one that maketh desolate; and even unto the full end, and that determined, shall wrath be poured out upon the desolate. – DANIEL 9:24-27.


And now, before an attempt at exposition, attention is called to a preliminary observation: There are many English versions of this Hebrew text, all worthy of consideration, but it is needful for the present purpose to cite only four modern ones, namely, (1) The common, or King James Version; (2) The Canterbury revision; (3) The same revision with the renderings of the American corps of revisers substituted for the rendering of the British corps where they differ; (4) Lessor's Jewish version. Now, when we compare their several translations of this prophecy, we find a marked difference in the punctuation, which very greatly affects the sense, and necessarily determines widely different lines of exegesis.


The exegesis now to be given will follow the punctuation of the American revisers in the Standard Bible, with which the King James Version agrees. The Canterbury revision and Leeser's modern Jewish version adopt a punctuation which necessitates a certain beginning for the period, and necessitates two Messiahs, and in other important respects make both chronology and interpretation impossible on any theory consistent with the inspiration of Daniel or of the New Testament writers, or of the divinity of Jesus. Tremendous results to base on punctuation alone, when the ancient Hebrew had no punctuation? But here the modern Jew, the infidel, and the destructive higher critic plant themselves together. As, however, this matter of punctuation comes up again when this discussion reaches the several theories of interpretation, it is dismissed for the present, that we may proceed with the exposition.


For the better understanding of this remarkable answer to Daniel's prayer we need a new outline and a special analysis. It cannot escape notice that 9:24, the first verse of the prophecy, treats of the seventy weeks as a whole, enumerating, in a general but strictly orderly way, the things to be accomplished in the period, while in the other three verses the seventy weeks are first separated into three unequal subdivisions, namely, seven weeks, sixty-two weeks, and one week, with the assignment to each of its appropriate events, and, second, the one week is divided into two equal parts, making the middle of the last week the climax of the prophecy.


Nor can it escape notice that the prophecy throughout is designedly marked with order, precision, and definiteness of statement on all points of chronology and fact. In any sensible analysis, which combines the general and particular statements of the prophecy, it is evident that all the great events specified in verse 24, must, as to order, be assigned to the climax, the middle of the last week. As covering, therefore, the whole ground and properly correlating the several parts is now submitted the following …

 

EXEGETICAL ANALYSIS OF DANIEL 9:24-27


I. God's great decree concerning the Jews


II. Meaning, or duration, of the seventy weeks


III. When they begin, or terminus a quo


IV. Sixty-two weeks, or 434 years, with the preceding 49 years, making 483 years to the coming of Messiah, the King


V. The seven weeks, or 49 years, rebuilding Jerusalem


VI. One week, or seven years, as a whole, proclaiming the new covenant (Jer. 31:31-34) and confirming it with many Jews


VII. One week, or seven years, divided in the middle


1. The First Half –


(1) Confirming the new covenant with many Jews for three and one-half years


(2) Finishing the transgression (Matt. 23:35)


(3) Messiah cut off by his people, and his people cut off by Messiah for a long time


(4) Making an end of sin


(5) Making reconciliation for iniquity


(6) Bringing in everlasting righteousness


(7) Sealing up vision and prophecy


(8) Causing sacrifice and oblation to cease, or the rejecting of the old, typical Temple and covenant (Matt. 27:51; Col. 2:14-17; Heb. 7 to 10)


(9) Anointing the most holy, or the consecration of the new, antitypical temple (Acts 2).


2. The Second Half-


Confirming the new covenant with many Jews for three and one-half years more, i.e., up to the times of the Gentiles, which is the terminus ad quern.


VIII. After the 70 weeks

 

(1) The coming prince – Titus.

 

(2) The abomination of desolation.

 

(3) Destruction of the city and sanctuary as with a flood.

 

(4) The flood of wrath on the Jewish people till the fulness of the Gentiles.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What the importance of Daniel 9?

 

2. What the first and simplest outline of it?

 

3. What the date of Daniel's prayer?

 

4. What, in general, the occasion and what is the meaning of "the books" in 9:2?

 

5. What the constituent elements of the occasion of this prayer?

 

6. Discuss Jeremiah's seventy years,

 

7. Discuss the Levitical law of the land sabbath and its relation to this period.

 

8. Discuss the curse and oath of Moses relating to this prayer.

 

9. Discuss the atonement as it relates to this prayer.

 

10. Discuss Daniel's previous visions as they relate to this prayer.

 

11. What the contents of the prayer? Discuss each item. 12, What the three elements that constitute the character of the answer to this prayer?

 

13. Cite four English versions and their variant punctuation of Daniel 9:25 and state the effect on the exegesis.

 

14. What the notable things of this prophecy (9:24-27)?

 

15. Give the critical (exegetical) analysis of the prophetic part of this chapter (9:24-27).

 

 

X

 

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THE MARVELOUS NINTH CHAPTER OF DANIEL (CONTINUED)

Daniel 9:1-27

 


In this chapter we consider seriatim the items of the exegetical analysis already submitted.-


I. God's great decree concerning the Jewish nation. This decree is the whole prophecy, and by its terms has all the force of an inexorable judicial decision. It covers a long period of time, subdivided into such particular sections, each to be filled with its own appropriate events, these events of such number, magnitude, order and correlation, the parts assigned to particular nations so extraordinary as to defy the inventive audacity of an impostor. On its face are registered the marks of its divine origin. As a phenomenon it is easier to philosophically account for it as a prophecy written by Daniel at the time and under the circumstance claimed, than to stagger credulity by attributing it to an impostor of the Maccabean days An attribution of this prophecy to a pseudo Daniel of the second century before Christ necessitates an incredible miracle.


II. Meaning or duration of the seventy weeks. This means seventy weeks of years, a symbolism already familiar to the Jewish mind, as it afterward became to both Greek and Latin philosophers. It is weeks of years, not days. Laban .said to Jacob, "Fulfil her week also," meaning seven years, and through Daniel's contemporary, the delivery of the prophecy, and necessarily after its fulfilment, if it be prophecy. It is a characteristic of prophecy to both veil and reveal. Its terms are not those of accomplished history, and there is room for difference of opinion about the time when the matter is to be fulfilled before this fulfilment comes, as is evident from the history of all previous prophecies. But there is a law which finally determines the genuineness of the prophetic element, that is, it must be fulfilled. A prophecy that does not come to pass is no prophecy. This is the definite test. We therefore are acting strictly within the rules governing prophecy when from our late standpoint we seek in the history of the past for historical facts verifying the fulfilment of what is here foretold.


Hence we would be perfectly justified in rejecting any interpretation as a reasonable exegesis of this prophecy which left out the great matters set forth in verse 24, which is a summary of the greater events of the period. And what are the items of this summary? We must find a rounded and connected period of 490 years. In this period must be located the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem, the finishing of the transgression of the Jewish people, the making an end of sin, the making reconciliation for iniquity, the bringing in of everlasting righteousness, the sealing up of vision and prophecy and the anointing of a most holy. These are all extraordinary events. It was one of the matters that gravely troubled Daniel, as evidenced by his prayer, that the transgression of his people had been continuous from the beginning of their history to his time. He was not alone disturbed by the offenses immediately preceding the servitude to Babylon, but on his conscience was an unbroken series of transgressions under Moses, under the judges, under the kings, against the law, and against the messages of the prophets. There must be, in any correct interpretation, a filling up of the measure, or a finishing of the transgression of the Jewish people.


Moreover, up to his time no end to sins had been made by atonement. They were merely passed over through typical animal sacrifices. Yet again, this end of sins, not in figure, but in fact, must be brought about by a real reconciliation for iniquity, i.e., a genuine and permanent atonement. Following this necessarily would be brought in an everlasting righteousness Not a tattered patchwork, such as the best of their worthies in ancient times offered in their lives, but a righteousness whiter than snow and so flawless that not even the omniscience of God when holding it in the light of immaculate holiness could find a spot on it – a righteousness that would envelop its subject soul and body and would be impervious to the thrust or stroke of the flaming sword of divine justice. Moreover, a just interpretation would demand the coming of a person on whom all the rays of past prophecy would focus, so that it could be said that up to this date "were the law and the prophets" and since that time a new order of things. Moreover, as the prophecy foretells the total abrogation of sacrifices and offerings, the interpretation must find not some temporary cessation of these offerings but a decree of final annulment, so that an end is made to them forever. Yet again, as the prophecy foretells the destruction of the city and sanctuary and the rejection of the people, any thorough interpretation must find the incoming of a new covenant, the anointing of a new most holy place and a new and spiritual Israel.


All controversies about the terminus a quo and the terminus ad quern are mere byplays, unless within these terminals can be shown fulfilment of the great particulars of the prophecy. That man's views of the beginning of the period or of the end of it are lighter than air unless within his terminal points he can show the fulfilment of the great events which are to his terminal points as the building is to the scaffolding. Not only must the true interpretation find all of the great particulars of the summary in verse 24, but it must find the particular things for the subdivision of the period, something definite to occur in forty-nine years, and something more important 434 years later, and again a continuous event for seven years, and yet again the remarkable particulars of each half of the seven years when divided in the middle. And as the prophecy foretells the destruction of Jerusalem and the sanctuary some time after the seventy weeks, or 490 years, and then a long period of wrath upon the rejected people, the true interpretation must find a binding relation between this doom and the cutting off of the Anointed One in the last seven years of the period. This must be the relation of cause and effect. The destruction of the city and sanctuary and rejection of the people must be the result of the cutting off. If an interpreter be unprepared to show such fulfilment, then he ought to refrain from attempting any exposition of the passage. Yet again, two persons at least, neither of them human, must have known about the facts and the dates set forth in the prophecy. These two persons are the angel Gabriel, who brought the prophecy to Daniel, and the God of heaven, who sent it as an answer to Daniel's prayer. Their testimony as to the fulfilment would be intensely valuable. An interpretation not corroborated by the testimony of Gabriel or of God, the Father, who sent the prophecy, could not stand by mere human argumentation. One more point in this connection: It is not denied that this book and, particularly, this prophecy, exercised a marvelous influence on the subsequent periods of Jewish history. Some definite impression was created by its language, and this impression would naturally take the shape of expectation. We ought to be able to find, therefore, a widespread expectation of fulfilment, generated by the prophecy itself, in the day of its fulfilment, or in the near time preceding its fulfilment. The people generally, without any claims to special scholarship, would receive impressions, ripening into expectation, from the prophecy's definite time revelation. A date of fulfilment, therefore, without antecedent expectations, would hardly meet the conditions of this prophecy.


III. When the seventy weeks began, or the terminus a quo. The beginning is thus expressed in the text: "Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem unto the Anointed One, the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and three score and two weeks; it shall be built again with street and moat, even in troublous times." Here begins the subdivision of the seventy weeks, with appropriate events assigned to each section, namely, seven weeks, sixty-two weeks, one week; and just here comes the battle on punctuation which determines the exegesis. According to the radical higher critics, whom the Canterbury revision, after much debate, consented to follow) the punctuation is as follows: "Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem unto the Anointed One, the Prince, shall be seven weeks; and three score and two weeks, it shall be built again, with street and moat, even in troublous times." This punctuation assigns the first subdivision of forty-nine years to the coming of the Anointed One, the Prince. And the second subdivision, the three score and two weeks, or 434 years, to the building of the city, and logically necessitates that the Anointed One, who comes at the end of the forty-nine years, shall live 434 years through all the second subdivision, and afterward be cut off. Here are two unspeakable absurdities that not even the pseudo Daniel would perpetrate: (1) That 434 years are required for building Jerusalem, and (2) that the Anointed One is 434 years old before he is cut off. No man in Maccabean times, one degree removed from idiocy, would have made either statement. It is a mere expedient to say that the Anointed One of verse 26 must be a different person from the Anointed One of verse 25. There is absolutely no warrant in the text for making the Anointed One who is cut off a different person from the Anointed One who comes. A very few words only intervene, and no break in the sense or connection between the Anointed One in verse 25 and the Anointed One in verse 26. The Anointed One who comes is the Anointed One who is cut off. But what is served by this punctuation murder? It seems to be an effort to make the Anointed One in verse 25 mean Cyrus, and to fix the beginning of the 434 years just forty-nine years before the coming of Cyrus, which of course requires the finding of some one to serve for another Anointed One. True, indeed, in Isaiah 45:1, 176 years before his time, Cyrus is called an anointed one, but the trouble with the punctuation is to find a commandment to restore and build Jerusalem just forty-nine years before Cyrus, whose first year is 536 B.C., and then to find another anointed one who is cut off just 434 years plus 3M years later, i.e., in 98 or 99 B.C. In other words, this absurd punctuation puts both ends of the 490 years out in the air with nothing to mark its coming or exit. Don't misunderstand me. I am not ignorant of the various expedients of the radical critics in dealing with the prophecy of Daniel, but have studied profoundly in many books their attempts at its exposition. It would be impossible to generalize their contentions, since they are as variant .as the number of critics, but doubtless the best and strongest that can be said on their part is to be found in Dr. Driver's commentary on Daniel in the "Cambridge Bible." In order to be as fair to him as a brief statement will permit, I will here summarize his interpretation of the matter in hand:


1. He proceeds upon the theory that the book of Daniel was written by some unknown person in the Maccabean days in some part of the second century before Christ, and that the book was written from the standpoint of history, shaped in prophetic form and attributed to Daniel.


2. That the 490 years corrects, interprets, and paraphrases Jeremiah's seventy years. In other words, that Jeremiah's seventy years are explained to Daniel as meaning weeks of years, that is to say, that the seventy weeks must commence with Jeremiah's seventy years.


3. His terminus a quo is Jeremiah 30:18, which contains a promise to rebuild Jerusalem, which he dates, probably, 458 B.C.


4. That it is only forty-nine years later, 409 B.C., until Cyrus conquered Babylon, and therefore he is the anointed one, the prince of verse 24.


5. That sixty-two weeks, or 434 years, are devoted to rebuilding the city.


6. The anointed one of verse 26 is Onias, the high priest, who, in the apocryphal book, 2 Maccabees, is said to have been assassinated.


7. That the coming prince of verse 26 is Antiochus Epiphanes, who in the period of seven years sets up the abomination of desolation, takes away the daily sacrifice and confirms a covenant with many Jews.


Dr. Driver frankly admits that the time of Onias and Antiochus falls sixty-seven years short of the prescribed date in the prophecy. Nor does he explain how a writer of that very time, and who is simply shaping historical fact in a prophetic form, should have made such an awful mistake in the length of time. We might be willing to accept his probable date of prophecy in Jeremiah 30:18, but must object to his making the fifty-two years before Cyrus mean forty-nine years, and we find it impossible to accept his 434 years as devoted to the building of the city and his trying to make the time of Onias and Antiochus fit the end of the period. Moreover, it is impossible to find in the period of Antiochus any expectation of the Coming One warranted by this and many other prophecies. Nor do we find the temporary interruption of the sacrifices by Antiochus at all equal to the total abrogation implied in the terms of this prophecy. Indeed, no one of the great particulars of the summary in verse 24 can be identified in the days of Antiochus. Not only does his exposition put both terminal points in the air, without mark of beginning or exit, but it furnishes no body of great extraordinary events to fill in between the dates.


I thought it needful to call attention to this higher critic method of dealing with Daniel, but for ourselves we feel constrained to seek an interpretation more accordant with the terms of the prophecy. The text demands as a starting point, the going forth of a commandment to restore and build Jerusalem. The context clearly shows that the restoration here expressed is the restoration from the destruction accomplished by Nebuchadnezzar (605 B.C.)


"The commandment" cannot mean a divine decree, because we have no means of dating God's purposes. "The going forth" of the commandment cannot refer to a mere prediction of the restoration and rebuilding, for a prediction is not a commandment. It is true Dr. Driver so styles Jeremiah's prediction (30:18): "Behold, I will turn again the captivity of Jacob's tents and have compassion on his dwelling places; and the city shall be builded up, her heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof." But his is less definite than the prediction in Isaiah 44:28: "That saith of Cyrus, he is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying of Jerusalem, she shall be built; and to the temple thy foundation shall be laid." Both of these predictions are pertinent to the matter in hand, and equally show that God's purpose is the divine original of the commandment whenever and by whomsoever sent forth. But Isaiah's prediction (712 B.C.) precedes even the destruction of Jerusalem by more than one hundred years.


On this point Dr. Pusey well says, "The decree spoken of was doubtless meant of a decree of God, but to be made known through his instrument, man, who was to effectuate it. The commandment went forth from God, like that, at which, Gabriel had just said, using the same idiom, he himself came forth to Daniel. But as the one was fulfilled through Gabriel, so the other remained to be fulfilled through the Persian monarch, in whose hands God had left for the time the outward disposal of his people."


When, therefore, we look for "the going forth of a commandment" of a Persian monarch we find four recorded in the Bible as follows:


1. The Decree of Cyrus (fulfilling Isa. 44:28), and recorded in 2 Chron. 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-2, a copy of which was found later among the archives by Darius Hystaspes (Ezra 6:2-5). The date of this decree was 536 B.C. The prediction in Isaiah would lead us to expect some reference to the building of Jerusalem, but all the records of it limit it to the building of the Temple.


2. The decree of Darius Hystaspes (Ezra 6), reviving the decree of Cyrus, which had been frustrated by the enemies of the Jews and annulled by the Artaxerxes, who was the pseudo Smerdis (Ezra 4). The date of this decree is 519 B.C. But the record limits it also to the rebuilding of the Temple, which was accomplished in the sixth year of Darius.


3. The first decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus (Ezra 7). The date of this decree was the seventh year of Artaxerxes, 457 B.C. The record shows here an enlargement of powers much beyond the former decrees. This decree has nothing to say of building the Temple (already accomplished) but of beautifying it, nor in itself, as recorded, any reference to building the city, yet in another place this latter is evidently a part of Ezra's work, but confers on Ezra extraordinary powers in restoring the Jewish polity, both civic and ecclesiastical, according to the law of Moses.


4. The second decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus (Neb. 1-2). The date of this decree is the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, 445 B.C. The terms of this decree are express in their reference to building Jerusalem.


Now as a starting point for the beginning of the 490 years, we are shut up to the acceptance of one of these four decrees. And candor compels the concession that a priori any one of the four meets the requirements of the terms of the prophecy.


While the record of the Cyrus decree seems limited to the rebuilding of the Temple, the Isaiah prophecy (44:28) demands the inclusion of the building of the city. Especially must this be conceded when we read the letter sent to Artaxerxes, or the pseudo Smerdis, by the enemies of the Jews. (See Ezra 4:11-14.) And as Darius Hystaspes, the author of the second decree, distinctly revived and ratified the Cyrus decree, which had been frustrated, this, too, would include the building of the city.


For the third decree, the evidence is stronger still, the one issued to Ezra by Artaxerxes Longimanus, 457 B.C. This restores Jerusalem to a civil polity under their own laws and included the country west of the river (Ezra 7:25). There are two ideas in the prophecy, "to restore and to build," and restoration is more important than rebuilding.


The restoration of the civil polity was a necessary preliminary to the entrance of the people on their new probation of 490 years. Without it they could not be responsible. They must be under their own judges and magistrates, with powers of imprisonment, confiscation, banishment, and death, and charged with the administration of their own Mosaic law, in order to enter upon this probation or responsibility. This restoration was more essential than the building of the walls of the city, since it conferred a political status, while the walls only conferred a defense.


The fourth decree (Neh. 1-2), 445 B.C., only carries on the third as the second carried on the first. That is to say, if Artaxerxes Longimanus confers restoration on Jerusalem, in its civil polity, in his first decree, it was but a logical outcome that the city must have walls to protect its status from the encroachment of its bitter enemies. Those 490 years of probation are determined on both the people and on the city. It does not seem that a just probation could commence until the restoration of their civil polity, under their own magistrates and judges, charged with the administration of their own Mosaic law and empowered to enforce it with penalties of confiscation, imprisonment, banishment, and death. These powers came with the restoration of the city under Ezra, and arose from a commandment going forth from Artaxerxes Longimanus, 457 B.C.


Moreover, it is certain, from Ezra 6:14, that the obstructions to the building, general and special, continued to the time of Artaxerxes Longimanus, and were removed at his commandment. This building was not limited to the Temple, for that was finished in the sixth year of Darius. The Artaxerxes of 6:14, is Longimanus, who followed Darius, and not the Artaxerxes of Ezra 4:7-24, who preceded Darius and was Gaumata, the pseudo Smerdis. This passage (6:14) directly connects Ezra with both restoration and building, and confers on this third decree additional probability as the one of the four which best meets the terms of the prophecy. But if any one of the four might reasonably meet the terms of the prophecy, we are justified in allowing the fulfilment to designate which one was intended. This is the final and critical test of prophecy (Deut. 18:21-22). We have therefore, from our viewpoint of 2,500 years after the prophecy, only to apply the dates of these four decrees, in order to arrive at the coming of


IV. Messiah, the Prince. To the decree of Cyrus, 536 B.C., we add the seven weeks and sixty-two weeks, or 483 years, and it brings us to 53 B.C., and no "Messiah, the Prince" in evidence. This might naturally be expected, since the Cyrus decree was expressly annulled by Artaxerxes who was Gaumata, the pseudo Smerdis (Ezra 4:17-24), and permission to build the city expressly withheld until new commandment is ordered.


To the Darius decree, 519 B.C. (which renewed the order of Cyrus to build the Temple), we add the 483 years, and it brings us to 36 B.C., with no "Messiah, the Prince," in evidence, because this decree does not restore civil polity, so necessary to probation.


To the first decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus, 457 B.C., which dowered Ezra with such extraordinary powers (Ezra 7:25-26), including commandment to build the city (Ezra 6: 14), we add the 483 years and it brings us to the remarkable scene at the baptism of Jesus, when he was anointed as Prophet, Sacrifice, Priest and King by the Holy Spirit, and was witnessed by the voice of the Father from heaven: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." By this anointing, John the Baptist recognizes the Messiah, and himself witnesses: "Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world!" He is the Messiah that himself so remarkably verifies this very prophecy of Daniel (Matt. 24:15). His is the one who so many times assumes the Daniel title, "Son of man," whose life and words and death so amazingly expound this prophecy. It was Gabriel who carried the revelation of the Messiah to Daniel, and it was this very Gabriel and other angels who so remarkably identified this Jesus as the Messiah (Luke 1:17-19, 26-38; Matt. 1:18-22; Luke 2:8-15; Matt. 2: 13-14). It was God the Father who sent Gabriel to carry the revelation of the Messiah to Daniel, and it was the Father who three times from the most excellent glory identified him when he came.


We may therefore feel assured that we find the terminus a quo, or beginning of the 490 years, in the going forth of the commandment of Artaxerxes Longimanus, 457 B.C. And what kind of Messiah does Dr. Driver find 483 years from his terminus a quo? None whatever, by his own confession. But allow him to arbitrarily strike off seventy years of his time, and then who? Onias, a high priest, whose cutting off is unknown to history, except in an apocryphal book whose testimony on this point is flatly contradicted by Josephus.


When we come to apply the fourth decree (Neh. 1-2) we have two notable explanations:


1. Sir Robert Anderson, who has two remarkable books on Daniel, The Coming Prince and Daniel in the Critics' Den, and who accepts the usual date 445 B.C., insists that the Jews reckoned by lunar years of 360 days, instead of 3651/4. In this way, by a very precise calculation, he adds 483 years of 360 days each to 445 B.C., which culminates on the very Palm Sunday when Jesus makes his triumphant entry into Jerusalem and is publicly received as Messiah the King. Sir Robert Anderson's argument is strong, and particularly his chronological arrangement evinces profound knowledge and skill. In many respects his review of Farrar and Driver surpasses in excellence any other contribution toward the defense of the book of Daniel from the assaults of destructive criticism.


2. Hengstenberg, on the other hand, while agreeing with Sir Robert Anderson in making the Nehemiah decree the terminus a quo of the 490 years, controverts the theory of a year of 360 days, and contests the date usually accepted, 445 B.C. By an elaborate historical argument of great plausibility he seeks to prove that the twentieth year of Artaxerxes Longimanus falls upon the date 455 B.C., and then by adding the 483 years he reaches his acknowledgment by the Father as the true coming of Messiah, the Prince. Dr. Hengstenberg's dissertation on Daniel and his treatment of the Messianic elements of Daniel's book in his great work, "The Christology of the Old Testament," are indispensable to the student of the book of Daniel.


For the reasons already given, this author accepts the decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus, in the seventh year of his reign, as given to Ezra and with the date 457 B.C., as the terminus a quo or beginning point of the 490 years, and that the coming of the Messiah refers to his public entrance upon his messianic office, which occurred at his baptism.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What the nature of God's decree concerning the Jewish nation?

 

2. What the meaning of the seventy weeks? Illustrate.

 

3. What two other equal periods of Jewish probation?

 

4. What must be the characteristics of a satisfactory exposition?

 

5. What declaration marks the beginning of the seventy weeks?

 

6. What the punctuation, what the theory and what the difficulty of the theory of the radical critics?

 

7. What a summary of Driver's theory and wherein does it fail?

 

8. What the four decrees, from one of which we must date the beginning of the 490 years, and which is accepted?

 

9. Test each one and show by adding 490 years its end.

 

10. What the views of Sir Robert Anderson and Hengstenberg respectively?

 

 

XI

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE MARVELOUS NINTH CHAPTER OF DANIEL (CONTINUED)

Daniel 9:1-27

 


This chapter concludes the exposition of Daniel 9:24-27. Commencing where the last chapter ends, we now consider


V. The seven weeks, or forty-nine years. "From the going forth of a commandment to restore and build Jerusalem unto the Anointed One, the Prince, shall be seven weeks and threescore and two weeks: it shall be built again with street and moat, even in troublous times."


From this language we gather three things concerning Jerusalem: (1) The issuance of a commandment to restore and build. (2) It shall be built again in troublous times. (3) The time assigned for the restoration and building. Had the coming of the Messiah been the first great event of the future, the language would have been, "It shall be sixty-nine weeks (or 483 years) to Messiah, the Prince." But the time to the Messiah is subdivided into two periods, seven weeks and sixty-two weeks, plainly setting apart the first period, or forty-nine years, to the restoration and rebuilding of Jerusalem.


In our work of verification, therefore, we have two conditions to meet. (1) It devolves upon us to show that from the terminus a quo, 457 B.C., the work of restoration and building was accomplished in forty-nine years; and, (2) we must prove that these were troublous times.


There is no difficulty in identifying the troublous times. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah furnish abundant evidence. There was trouble with the people themselves in keeping them up to the necessary labor and sacrifice, and to the required conformity in morals.


Their neighbors also were ceaseless in hostility and obstructions. The builder had to carry both trowel and sword, and be ready at a moment's notice for either war or work. Our Colonial fathers had such a time, when every man carried his rifle to the field and to the church.


But we cannot verify the time – forty-nine years – with such exact precision, and yet the verification can be made reasonably certain. These are the items of the argument: In the book of Ezra we have the statement that he had been in Jerusalem prosecuting the work thirteen years before Nehemiah came. Again, it is stated explicitly that Nehemiah remained in Jerusalem twelve years on his first visit, prosecuting the work, thus making twenty-five years of the required time. It is then shown that he returned to Babylon and remained there a long time before returning to Jerusalem to complete his work. The precise date of his absence in Babylon is not given, but other circumstances are cited which enable us to make out, with reasonable assurance, that this absence was twenty years, during which time Ezra worked alone. This brings up the time to forty-five years, which lacks four years of the full period required. But the work of Nehemiah goes on after his return for a short time, before all the items of the restoration of the Jewish polity and all the regulations of the city life are complete. If, then, we consider this work after his return, and the loss of time from the going forth of the commandment, consumed by Ezra in organizing and conducting his caravan from Babylon to Jerusalem, we need not be troubled to account precisely for the four years needed to fill up the period. The prophecy says forty-nine years, and forty-nine years it must have been.


VI. One week, or seven years, as a whole, proclaiming a new covenant (Jer. 31:31-34) and confirming it with many Jews. There has been some difference of opinion with reference to the covenant referred to in this prophecy, some holding that it is the old covenant, but this position is certainly untenable. That covenant had long since been confirmed with all the Jews. We take it, therefore, that the covenant in question is the one predicted by Jeremiah in connection with this whole subject.
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, saith the Lord: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people and they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, -and their sin will I remember no more. – JEREMIAH 31:31-34.


That this is the covenant of our context is manifest by Hebrews 8-9, where this text is cited from Jeremiah, with the following comment:
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new covenant, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance, – HEBREWS 9:11-15.


The heading of the present division shows that Christ must confirm this new covenant with many Jews for seven years, but the context also shows that he himself dies in the middle of the seven years, so that this confirmation as to the first half of the time is by Christ's personal ministry. And that the confirmation of the covenant by him extends beyond his death is evident from the beginning of the Acts of the apostles, where Luke affirms that his Gospel was an account of what Jesus began both to do and to teach until the day in which he was taken up) with the intimation that Acts, or the second treatise by him, is to give an account of what Jesus began both to do and to teach after his ascent into heaven. So that it will remain for us to show, in proper connections later, that Christ, after his death, continued to confirm this covenant with many Jews for three and one-half years longer.


VII. One week, or seven years, divided in the middle. The first half of the seven years, commencing with Christ's baptism, is crowded with the most of the great events foretold in this prophecy of Daniel. The following particulars must be made to fit into this time:


1. As we have already shown, during his public ministry, which lasted three and one-half years, he did confirm the covenant with many Jews.


2. The finishing of the transgression: This refers to the transgression of the Jews as a people, and by "finishing" is meant the filling up of the measure of their sins, just as the Canaanites, their predecessors in the Holy Land, retained it until the measure of their sins was full; so) according to Moses, it would be with the Jews, that when the measure of their iniquities is full, they shall be cut off, lose their title to the land, and be scattered over the whole world.


It is evident from Daniel's prayer that he realized the magnitude and growing character of the national sins. Now, when we turn to the New Testament, the evidence of the finishing of the transgression is complete. This language of our Lord is decisive:
Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up, then, the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes; and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city; that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily, I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not I Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.


This is further evident by the two fig trees. Toward the close of his ministry he publishes the parable concerning the barren fig tree, closing with this language:
Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none; cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him. Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it; and if it bear fruit, well, and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down. – LUKE 13:7-9.


The signification of the parable finds its confirmation at the end of his ministry. When he had entered the city in triumph and had been publicly proclaimed as the Messiah, and had a second time cleansed the Temple, the following event took place:
Now, in the morning, as he returned into the city, he hungered. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforth forever. And presently the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, how goon ia the fig tree withered away! – MATTHEW 21:18-20.


This clearly shows that the day of probation for the Jewish nation is about to end. This is further confirmed thus:
And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, if thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace I but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground and thy children with thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. – LUKE 19:41-44.


And still more notably confirmed by the parable of the vineyard, which closes thus:
Then said the Lord of the vineyard, what shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him. But when the husbandmen saw him they reasoned among themselves, saying, this is the heir; come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What, therefore, shall the Lord of the vineyard do unto them? He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid – LUKE 20:13-16.


Language could not express more forcibly the culmination of the Jewish sins, and from the day these words were uttered to the present time there has been no suspension of the sentence against the Jews. Their last period of probation commenced with the baptism of Christ and closed three and one-half years later, when he entered the city as the Messiah, though for many elect the period lasted three and one-half years longer.


3. The cutting off of the Messiah. The crowning act of their transgression was the cutting off of the Messiah. The language of our prophecy is very significant: "Messiah shall be cut off and shall have nothing," that is to say, when they betrayed, condemn-ed, and surrendered their Messiah to the ignominious death on the Roman cross, not only was he cut off, but they were cut off. From henceforth he was to have nothing in them or their city until after thousands of years; until they should, in fulfilment of other prophecies, say, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." The city remained, indeed, for a little while, but sentence had been passed; the sanctuary remained for a, short period, but it was an empty and desolate house.


4. Making an end of sin. This language refers to the inefficient character of the Jewish sacrifices. Though for ages hecatombs of victims had been sacrificed upon Jewish altars, no sin was actually brought to an end. Because it was impossible, says the letter to the Hebrews, that the blood of bullocks and goats could take away sin; they typified that which would make an end of sin, and passed the transgressions over until the antitype should come. In his prayer, Daniel seems to have a keen sense of the fact that the sins from the days of Moses to his time remained. While the penalty had not been executed, the account had been simply carried or passed over for the time being. He felt that no absolute end had been found for any of the offenses from the beginning of the world until his day. There had been many promises not yet fulfilled – many hopes that had not yet reached fruition, and therefore the intense agony of his prayer: “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not; for thine own sake, O my God, because thy city and thy people are called by thy name." The letter to the Hebrews, in a remarkable way, shows the shadowy nature of the old covenant which could make nothing perfect, and particularly it could make no end of sin.


5. Making reconciliation for iniquity. The making an end of sin was to be accomplished by a real and not a typical atonement. There was to be an absolute expiation. This expiation, as foreshadowed in the types, was to be through a vicarious sacrifice. There would come a true Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. This atonement was not to be affected by many offerings, but by one offering. As it is expressed in the letter to the Hebrews, "But now, once in the end of the world, hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, and as it is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many." This bearing of sin is further set forth in the prophecy of Isaiah:


He was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed; all we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. . . . He was cut off out of the land of the living, for the transgression of my people was he stricken. It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief; when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall prolong his days and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands. . .. by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many, and he shall bear their iniquities. . . . he poured out his soul unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bear the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors. – ISAIAH 53:5-12.


6. Bringing in everlasting righteousness. All the righteousness that Daniel had ever seen was very imperfect, and all the atonements were only shadows, but this coming Messiah, according to Jeremiah, was to be called "The Lord, Our Righteousness." In him alone was no deceit or guile ever found. His life on earth was perfect from his conception by the virgin to his ascent into heaven. The righteousness that he was to bring in by his expiatory sacrifice of himself was to be a righteousness for his people, and it would be perfect, spotless, eternal! The goodness of the best of the Jews was like the morning dew or the passing cloud, but this righteousness brought in by him was to be so perfect that one justified by it might stand under the unsheathed and flaming sword of divine justice and challenge, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. It is Christ that died." Hence the remarkable language in the letter to the Corinthians: "God made him to be sin who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."


7. Sealing up vision and prophecy. This sealing up seems to mean a closing up by fulfilment, and also to signify the termination of the obligations of the covenant under which these visions and prophecies were given. Therefore our Lord uses the following language: "The law and the prophets were until John and since that time the kingdom of heaven is preached."


8. Causing sacrifice and oblation to cease, or the rejecting of the old, typical Temple and covenant (Matt. 27:51, and Col. 2:14-17; Heb. 7 to 10). The Temple was the house of sacrifice and oblation, but it is recorded that at the very moment that Jesus cried, "It is finished!" and yielded up his spirit – at that precise moment, by supernatural power, "The veil of the Temple was rent in twain from top to bottom." In that death he blotted out the handwriting of all Old Testament ordinances that were against us and contrary to us, and took the whole covenant out of the way, nailing it to his cross. And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them. From that time on the imperious regulations of the Jewish festivals lost their legal force, hence it was said, "Let no man therefore judge you in meat or in drink or in respect of the holy day or of the new moon or of the sabbath days, which are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ." The seventh day sabbath, the monthly sabbath, the annual sabbath, the jubilee sabbath, were all taken away, and the institutions of the new covenant take their place. Upon this point let any interested student carefully read the letter to the Hebrews, and particularly chapters 7-10.


9. Anointing the most holy, or the consecration of the new antitypical temple (Acts 2): Upon this point commentators have been hard pressed. They seem to think it necessary for them to prove that this anointing is the anointing of a person, and therefore labor to show that it was fulfilled at Christ's baptism when he was anointed by the Holy Spirit. It is possible to make a plausible showing in this direction) and the Hebrew would admit, by strained argument, this application. For many reasons, however, I am myself convinced that we should follow the clearer meaning of the Hebrew that it was the anointing of a holy place – not a person. When the tabernacle was built, Moses was required to anoint it. Now, as both tabernacle and Temple are superseded, the question arises, has God no temple on earth, no sanctuary? The New Testament is clear that the antitype on earth of the Jewish tabernacle and Temple is the church of Jesus Christ. Paul says to the Corinthians: "Ye are God's building; ye are the temple of the living God." And in the letter to the Ephesians he says, with reference to every church: "In Christ each several building fitly framed together, groweth into a holy temple in the Lord." And concerning the church at Ephesus, he says: "In whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God in the spirit." Jesus himself instituted his church. He took the material that John had prepared for him and added to it other material prepared by himself in confirming the covenant with many Jews during his ministry, established its ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper, ordained ita apostles, set them in the church, gave to the church its laws, but said to them, "Tarry ye in Jerusalem until ye are endued with power from on high." Just as the tabernacle, when it was completed by Solomon became also an habitation of God through the infilling cloud, so now, having condemned and emptied and made desolate the old Temple, it becomes necessary to anoint a new most holy to take its place. This was fulfilled, as recorded in Acts 2, when the church was anointed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.


Second half. – Confirming a new covenant with many Jews for 3% years more, i.e., up to the time of the Gentile, which is the terminus ad quern.


The prophecy would not be complete in its fulfilment unless we were able to show that the confirmation of the new covenant with many Jews continued for three and one-half years after the death of Christ. But here the record is exceptionally clear. On the day that the new most holy was anointed 3,000 Jews were converted. In that three and one-half years it is stated more than once that great multitudes of the Jews, including the priests, were converted. In that three and one-half years one might safely conclude that 100,000 Jews were converted and brought to the knowledge of the truth in the remarkable protracted meeting, which lasted from the day of Pentecost to the persecution under Saul of Tarsus.


But now comes a most significant thing. With that persecution the church is scattered abroad, leaving only the apostles. They go in their dispersion to many lands and preach the gospel of Christ. Philip leads multitudes of the Samaritans to the acceptance of Christ. He also baptizes the Ethiopian eunuch, and he in turn carries the gospel to his own country. Some of them went as far as to Antioch, and there preached the gospel to the Gentiles. From this time on there are no records of great multitudes of Jews being converted. The week is ended: the seven years have reached their terminus. Since Christ's public ministry commenced, after his baptism, to the end of these seven years, a vast multitude of Jews have been confirmed in. the new covenant. From this time on the conversion of a Jew will be the exception, and not the rule. The Bible history itself turns now to the Gentiles, and the close of the three and one-half years of this wonderfully successful Jewish evangelization is the terminus ad quern of Daniel's 490 years.


VIII. After the seventy weeks. It has been objected by some critics that this prophecy of Daniel points to the destruction of Jerusalem, and that this destruction should be included in the seventy weeks, or 490 years. The answer is obvious. The sentence upon the Jewish people was passed at the death of Christ, but the execution of the penalty upon the city and the sanctuary is another matter, and will soon come. The prophecy itself seems to put that execution in the future beyond the seventy weeks. It notes the fact that "the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary." It does not say that this Prince will come in the seventy weeks. We may notice, therefore, the following items of the prophecy to be fulfilled after the seventy weeks:


1. The coming of the prince. This prince is Titus. Our Lord himself directs the attention of the condemned Jews to his coming. He tells them that Jerusalem shall be encompassed with armies, and that the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel, in this prophecy, shall be set up. He gives them a detailed description of the destruction of their city and sanctuary, and compares it, as does Daniel, to a flood: "As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the Son of man." The flood came suddenly and took them all away.


2. The prophecy also shows that this flood of wrath on the Jewish people is determined unto the end, i.e., until the times of the fulness of the Gentiles. Nearly 2,000 years have passed away. His words yet receive confirmation. Jerusalem is still trodden under foot by the Gentiles. The kingdom of heaven, taken from the Jews and given to the Gentiles, is still prosented in power by that missionary people, to whom the oracles of the New Testament are committed. So that we may agree that the marvelous ninth chapter of Daniel is the most remarkable prophecy of the Old Testament.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. Into what divisions is the seventy weeks apportioned?

 

2. What must be done in the seven weeks, or forty-nine years?

 

3. What the proof that this was done?

 

4. Who comes at the end of the sixty-two weeks following the seven, what does he do, and what the proof?

 

5. How is the last week, or seven years, divided, and what the culmination marking the division?

 

6. In the first half of the last week what, says the prophecy, is to be done?

 

7. What the meaning of "confirming the covenant with many Jews" in this first half?

 

8. What the meaning of "finishing the transgression"? Proof?

 

9. What the meaning of "cutting off the Messiah"?

 

10. What the meaning of "making an end of sin"?

 

11. What the meaning of "making reconciliation for inquiry"?

 

12. What the meaning of "bringing in everlasting righteousness"?

 

13. What the meaning of "sealing up vision and prophecy"?

 

14. What the meaning of "causing the sacrifice, etc., to cease"?

 

15. What the meaning of "anointing the most holy"?

 

16. In the second half of the last week what is done, and when does it end?

 

17. What. events follow the seventy weeks?

 

 

XII

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE GLORIOUS VISION OF THE SON OF GOD

Daniel 10:1-21

 


This chapter begins the consideration of the seventh prophetic section of Daniel, chapter 10. The theme of the chapter is the glorious vision of the Son of God. In the first discussion on chapter 9 we have seen the prophet in great distress because, though the seventy years of desolation foretold by Jeremiah were about ended, and though Cyrus, the deliverer, according to Isaiah, had come, yet Israel remained in captivity. In this chapter we find the prophet in great distress again, because, though Cyrus had issued his decree of restoration, and though a number of the exiles had returned, yet the work of restoration at Jerusalem was moving slowly, and in the midst of great opposition.


To get a clear view of the last section of the book of Daniel we must look at chapter 10 as a prologue; chapter II and three verses of 12 as the prophecy, and the rest of chapter 12 as the epilogue.


The whole section of three chapters is a revelation concerning a great war which opens first in the spiritual world between contending angels, back of the nations, whose details are given in chapter 10, and there opens on earth a war whose details are given in chapter II. The date is the third year of Cyrus, about the twenty-fourth day of the first month of the Jewish year, that is, the twenty-fourth day of Nisan.


The occasion is the great mourning, fasting, and prayer of Daniel lasting three weeks. How higher critics can object to this book on the ground that Daniel shows little interest in his countrymen is an amazing thing. When we study chapter 9 and see his very soul poured out to God in behalf of his people; when we look at him here for three weeks bowed down in mourning and prayer and in fasting on account of his people, we can't have any respect for the objection of a higher critic.


The place is on the Tigris (Hiddekel), about sixty miles from Babylon, the Tigris and Euphrates being connected with a canal. I don't know that Daniel went on the canal boat, but there was connection, in Daniel's time and before his time, between these two rivers by a canal, just as the canal built by the Chicago people connecting the Chicago River with the Illinois, thus putting the waters of Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River in touch with each other. The Tigris is to Persia what the Euphrates was to Babylonia. Those present are Daniel and a few companions.


Since the prophecy in chapter 9 great events have occurred, but the results are so far disappointing. These events (that come in between Daniel 9 and Daniel 10) are:


The first event.– The Cyrus decree, not only put in writing, but preserved in the archives where it was found by Darius Hystaspes many years later. (See Ezra 6:1-5.) It is in the first chapter of Ezra:


Now in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, that the word of Jehovah by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, Jehovah stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying. Thus saith Cyrus, king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath Jehovah, the God of heaven, given me; and he hath charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whosoever there is among you of all his people, his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of Jehovah, the God of Israel (he is God), which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever is left, in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, besides the free-will offering for the house of God which is in Jerusalem. – EZRA 1:1-5.


That is the first event. Upon that event, note this remark: We must not conclude too much from these words of Cyrus. While he is the servant of Jehovah even more than he knows, yet political rather than religious motives influenced him to issue this proclamation. We know from an inscription brought to light in 1879 that he was just as complimentary in his references to the heathen gods as to Jehovah. His policy was to leave all his subjects free to worship any god they chose, without state interference, and that is a grand policy. His further policy was to send back to their own places the captured idols or sacred vessels stored in Babylon by the preceding government, the one which he overthrew. This inscription, speaking of the various races dwelling between the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf) reads as follows:


The gods who dwelt among them to their places I restored, and I assigned them a permanent habitation. All their pride I assembled, and I increased their property; and the gods of Sumin and Akkad whom Nabonidus had introduced at the festivals of the Lord of the gods at Kal-anna by the command of Merodach the great Lord, I assigned them an honorable seat in the sanctuaries, as was enjoyed by all the other gods in their own cities. And daily I prayed to Bel and Nebo that they would lengthen my days, and increase my good fortune, and would repeat to Merodach my Lord that "Thy worshipper, Cyrus, the king, and his son Cambyses, etc."


This shows that Cyrus was a shrewd politician. He captured Babylon largely by claiming to be the friend of the imprisoned deities and priests that the Babylonians had gathered there from plundered nations, therefore a big crowd inside was in favor of his capturing Babylon, and when he got it he did send all these captured idols back home to their own places, as the allied armies when they defeated Bonaparte and captured Paris sent back the masterpieces of painting and sculpture appropriated by the French armies when they overran Italy and the other nations of the earth.


The second event. – In response to his decree concerning the Jews, as we learn from the book of Ezra, only 42,600 Jews re-turned at that time. They were mainly of the tribe of Judah, but the record shows representatives of the tribes of Levi, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh. Of this number about one-tenth, 4,280, were priests. It speaks well for the priests that they were so large-ly represented, but there were only about 750 Levites, which is disparaging to them, as they constituted the bulk of the tribe of Levi. The civil leader was Zerubbabel, of the line of David, and the spiritual leader was Joshua, the high priest. It is noteworthy that on their return they make no attempt to restore the monarchy. Zerubbabel is only a governor, and subject to the Persian viceroy of Syria. A council of twelve men, chiefs of the fathers, including Zerubbabel and Joshua, constitute their civil government. It took them seven months merely to clear away the rubbish and get a level place for putting the Temple back on its old site, and so matters moved slowly. As the decree of restoration was in the first year of Cyrus, and this vision in his third year, we do not have to go far to find out the cause of Daniel's mourning and fasting. He is grieving at the small number who were willing to return and restore Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple; he was grieving at the difficulties in the way of the returned exiles and the oppositions obstructing their progress. He couldn't understand it, and so the first day of the first month of the Jewish year he begins to fast and pray. He prays two weeks, until the Passover comes, the fourteenth of Nisan, and gets no answer. He continues to pray through the week of the days of unleavened bread – seven days more, making twenty-one days of mourning, fasting, and prayer. Let us observe the kind of fasting, not absolute abstinence from food, as in the forty days of Moses and Elijah, but as our record says, "I ate no pleasant bread, neither flesh nor wine came into my mouth." From his position overlooking the whole world, and having charge of its affairs, he knows that his brethren at Jerusalem are at this time keeping their first Passover after their return.


He receives no instant answer to his prayer as in chapter 9. And then sets out on his visit to the Tigris River, sixty miles away, and there, on the twenty-fourth day of the month, that is, three days after he quit praying, attended by a few companions, he gets an answer to his prayer that knocks him off his feet: He sees the vision of the Son of God and obtains an explanation of the delay in the answer to his prayer. When centuries later Saul of Tarsus saw at midday near Damascus a vision of the same glorious Person that Daniel sees here, the record says:


"The men that journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no man." Now this record says (and let us observe the likeness), verse 7: "I, Daniel, alone saw the vision; for the men that were with me saw not the vision, but a great quaking fell upon them and they fled to hide themselves." How very much like that is the account of Saul's seeing the Lord! What Daniel saw was this: "I lifted mine eyes and looked and beheld a man clothed in new linen whose loins were girded with pure gold of Uphaz. His body also was like the beryl and his arms and his feet like unto burnished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude."


Now let us see how he looked when John saw him in the island of Patmos, that we may note another remarkable likeness: "I saw one like unto the Son of man clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about at the breast with a golden girdle." That tallies exactly with this account, "And his head and his hair were white as snow and his eyes were as a flame of fire." In this account the eyes are "like flaming torches," "and his feet like unto burnished brass, as if it had been refined in a furnace, and his voice as the voice of many waters." The tally is perfect.


What Daniel saw was a pre-manifestation of the Son of God. There are three pre-manifestations in this book. (Dan. 3:24; 8:15; 10:5-6). There are many others in the Old Testament. As the Son of God, or the Logos, he appeared to Abraham, Moses, Job, Isaiah, and Ezekiel, and always he appears in the time of a great darkness and of great distress to his people. The effect of the appearance on Daniel is very great. Let us see: "So," that is, when the companions went away, "I was left alone and saw this great vision and there remained no strength in me, for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption and I retained no strength." He refers to it again in another place, showing that he fell into a trance of unconsciousness.


It is both interesting and suggestive to compare the effect on Daniel when he saw the glorious Son of God with the experience of others who saw him in glory, both before his incarnation and after his exaltation. It terrified all of them, took away all human strength, humbled them in the very dust, made them keenly conscious of their own sinfulness in the light of the divine holiness, led them into most gracious experiences of the divine condescension and to higher consecration and power.


Abraham was converted by it (Gen. 15), as also was Jacob (Gen. 28:10-28), and later by another experience became a prince, having power with God and man (Gen. 32:22-32). The face of Moses was made to shine (Ex. 34:29-30), Paul fell to the earth and was converted (Acts 9,22,26). Nebuchadnezzar was startled and reformed (Dan. 3:24-30). John fell like one dead (Rev. 1:17). Ezekiel fell as if struck by lightning (1:28). Job, who could proudly maintain his righteousness and hold up his head before Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu, thus speaks when he meets the Almighty: "Behold, I am of small account, and what shall I answer thee? I laid my hand upon my mouth; once have I spoken. I will not answer, yea twice, but I will proceed no further." The Almighty spoke to him again. Then Job said, "I know that thou canst do all things, that no purpose of thine can be thwarted. You ask who is this that hideth counsel without knowledge? I am the man, but therein I uttered that which I understood not, things too wonderful for me which I knew not, and I beseech thee and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes."


Let us now see exactly how it affected Isaiah. We find it in Isaiah 6:5. It is in the year that King Uzziah died. Here is how it affected him: "Then I said, woe is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, for mine eyes have seen the King Jehovah of hosts." I repeat the statement of the last chapter, that –


Only people very far off from God can ever appear unto themselves to be perfect or sinless.


Those very near to God always behold themselves to be vile and sinful. A garment supposed to be white, exhibited in a dark cellar, may seem clean, but if we bring it out in the bright light of day we can see how spotted and tarnished it is. In Daniel's case, three of his senses – sight, hearing, and touch – took cognizance of this divine vision. In mercy this King of Glory strengthened and cheered Daniel as he had strengthened and cheered Isaiah and Ezekiel before. This is the way the record puts the tenderness of the divine mercy (10) :
And, behold, a hand touched me, which set me on my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And said unto me, O Daniel, thou man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright; for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken these words unto me, I stood trembling. Then he said unto me, Fear not, Daniel; for from the first day that thou didst set thy heart to understand, and to humble thyself before thy God, thy words were heard; and I am come for thy word's sake. – DANIEL 10:10-12.


The Son of God leaves heaven and comes to earth in person to answer prayer. He continues:
Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days; for the vision is yet for many days. And when he had spoken unto me according to these words, I set my face toward the ground and was dumb. And, behold. One in the likeness of the Son of man touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake and said unto him that stood before me, O my Lord, by reason of the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I retain no strength. For how can the servant of this my Lord talk with this my Lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither was there breath left in me. Then there touched me again one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me. And he said, O man, greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea be strong. And when. he spake unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my Lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me. – DANIEL 10:14-19.


How tender that is! How sweet the word! And notice the marvelous touch that reached out and took hold of that prostrate, benumbed man. The first touch rouses him from his trance, the second touch unseals his dumb lips, the third touch gives him strength to stand before God and talk with him.


We come now to a doctrine of the angels hinted at more than once before in this book:


The Ministry of the Angels in Human Governments. The record says, "The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days." "You have been praying one and twenty days. I heard you when you first commenced to pray, but the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days, but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me and I remained there with the king of Persia." Again he says, in the twentieth and twenty-first verses: "Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I am come unto thee? And now will I return to fight the prince of Persia: and when I go forth, lo, the prince of Greece shall come. And there is none that holdeth with me against thee but Michael your prince," that is, of all the angel princes of the nations there was only one to stand with the Son of God, and that was the angel of the Jewish nation (11:1): "And as for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up to confirm and strengthen him."


This language on its face teaches:


1. That Israel, Persia, and Greece had each an angel who was charged particularly with the affairs of that nation, and implies that it was so with other nations.


2. That these national angels would sometimes withstand one another, which implies that the conflicting angels were not appointed by one central power, else they would not conflict.


3. That the spiritual world is the background of the historical world.


4. That over the conflicting angels was, at the last analysis, a supreme power that settled the conflicts.


The higher critics contend:


1. That the book of Daniel makes an advance in the doctrine of angel ministry far beyond the teaching of the preceding Old Testament books.


2. That its doctrine of a guardian angel for each nation belongs to a much later period, namely, the inter-biblical times, or early Christian times.


To which it may be answered: That an advance in doctrine on any subject is characteristic of the Old Testament. Doctrines develop and are elaborated as the ages pass; for example, the doctrine of the Messiah. But it cannot be successfully urged that any teaching of Daniel on angel ministration is out of harmony with the teaching on the same subject in either the Old or New Testament books. The inter-biblical uninspired books only imitate Daniel's ideas, but have not his discreet reticence, and betray their purely human origin by wild extravagances.


And yet the advance in Daniel on this subject is vastly overstated. From the beginning of revelation angel ministrations appear in behalf of or against both individuals and nations. In the book of Job, written, as I think, by Moses in Midian, and further, as I think, the first Bible book written, we first see clearly that the spiritual world is the background of the historical world) and that there are angels good and bad touching human affairs, and without a knowledge of which we could not understand the age-long problem of the undeserved afflictions of the righteous. From it also we learn the limitations on evil angels, their subordination to one Supreme Being, who, as well as good angels, must report statedly to Jehovah, and whose evil work is only permissive and temporary.


From Genesis and the Psalms we learn not only when, but why their interest in the history of men began. Throughout the Old Testament history they touch both the individual man and nations. It is true that the Septuagint translators of the Pentateuch attribute the first conception of national angels to Moses, rather than Daniel, in their rendering of Deuteronomy 32:8: "He set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God." But long before the days of the Septuagint translators Isaiah had hinted at a kindred thought to Daniel's (Isa. 24:21).


In the great council of heaven, both good and evil spirits present, seen by the prophet Micaiah (1 Kings 22:19-23), an evil spirit is permitted to mislead the wicked Ahab and his ally as to the issue of the disastrous battle of Ramoth-Gilead. Satan, as the usurping king of this world, naturally puts his angels in charge of heathen governments and through them moves their earthly kings to obstruct the progress of the kingdom of God. Supernatural forces of evil were back of Jannes and Jambres when they withstood Moses. A basis of real fact underlies the perverted idea of the heathen, that each nation or city had its special deity. In Ezra and Nehemiah we can easily see the human forces obstructing the progress of the restoration of Jerusalem. Edom, Moab, and Samaria, through their misrepresentations at the Persian court, repeatedly blocked the way, but this chapter tells us that back of the Edomites and Moabites and Samaritans and Persians was the devil, and the angel through whom he controlled this nation.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What the theme of Daniel 10?

 

2. What the relations of chapters 10, II, 12 to each other?

 

3. What the date of the vision?

 

4. What its occasion?

 

5. Why does Daniel mourn, fast and pray so long?

 

6. What contention of the critics do his prayers in chapters 9-10 refute?

 

7. Where the place of the vision?

 

8. Who present, human, and superhuman?

 

9. What the first great event that intervenes between chapters 9 and 10?

 

10. Does this decree prove that Cyrus was a monotheist, and how do you prove that political reasons influenced him?

 

11. What the second intervening event?

 

12. What the distinction in time between the answer to this prayer and the one in chapter 9, and why the delay here?

 

13. What similarity in the cases of the companions of Daniel and Saul at the time of their visions?

 

14. State the likeness between the visions of Daniel and John.

 

15. What other pre-manifestations of the Son of God in this book?

 

16. What the effect of the vision on Daniel?

 

17. Compare this effect with that of others, in both Old and New Testament, having similar visions.

 

18. What great lesson does this teach?

 

19. What four great lessons on angelology deducted from 10:13, 20 and 11:1?

 

20. State the contention of higher critics on the angelology of the book of Daniel, and your reply.

 

21. Who was the angel of the Jewish nation, and why did the angels of other nations oppose him?

 

 

XIII

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE FINAL PROPHECIES OF THE BOOK

Daniel 11:1 to 12:13

 


We now come to the last discussion on the book of Daniel and there are difficulties in interpreting the last two chapters of this book, as follows:


1. The difficulty in determining the text is unusually great. While the Hebrew text is authoritative, yet the several Greek versions, particularly Septuagint and Theodotion, the Syriac Peshito, and the Vulgate (Latin) are relied on in aiding to determine the true text. These versions, however, on these chapters do in some instances complicate rather than relieve the difficulties.


2. The section of chapter II treating of the "king of the south and the king of the north," (w. 5-45), introduces, by far, the most serious difficulty in this, that most commentators find it easy to refer verses 5-32 to the conflicts between the Syrian and Egyptian divisions of Alexander's empire, culminating in Antiochus Epiphanes. But no commentator is able to apply verses 36-45 to that conflict without doing great violence to both the text and to history. There appears to be in verses 33-35, if not at verse 21, a transition to events more remote, and to a person more important than Antiochus Epiphanes, and directly connected with the final resurrection in the beginning of chapter 12. So that in general terms we have three theories of interpretation:


(1) The higher critics, plausibly agreeing from the apparent continuity of the references to the kings of the north and south from verse 5 to the end, apply the whole section to the wars between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies. Their only escape from the obvious misfit of the latter part is that Daniel was himself mistaken in that part, and also our Lord and his apostles.


(2) Some pre-millennialists, particularly Tregelles, seeing plainly the misfit of the latter part to anything verifiable in the history of the Seleucids and Ptolemies, ignore the obvious verification in the first part arid deny any reference to them at all in the chapter.


(3) Other interpreters (e.g., Luther, Calvin, and a host of other Protestants) accept the reference of the first part to the Seleucids and Ptolemies, but find a transition about verses 33-35 to more remote events and persons connected with the last things of time. This theory is by far the best of the three in harmonizing all the facts, and is in line with the perspective of prophecy, which, like a view of distant mountains, one peak behind another, but higher, from the viewpoint of the beholder, gives a blended view as of but one peak. Only nearer approach, or a side view from another point of observation, reveals the distinction in the peaks. They cite many scriptural illustrationsωfor example, Psalm 72, which gives a blended view of Solomon and the remote Messiah in which it is hard to distinguish just what parts to limit to Solomon and what parts to the Messiah. This is not, strictly speaking, giving a double sense to the meaning of words. There has never been but one objection, worth counting, to. this theoryωto wit, verse 40, evidently in the latter part, names the king of the south and the king of the north, as if plainly a continuation of the first part.


3. The third difficulty in the interpretation is to understandingly apply the time numbers 1290 and 1335 in 12 : 11-12.


Now let us take up the interpretation of 11:2-4. The meaning there is obvious: It is not in the author's plan to enumerate all the kings of Persia, but the number up to the great provocation, which led to a union of the many independent Greek states into one empire, and to their counterinvasion of Persia. We may count it two ways:


1. The three kings to arise are Cambyses, the son of Cyrus. not so friendly to the Jews as his father.


2. The Artaxerxes of Ezra 4:7, who was the impostor, Guamata, the pseudo Smerdis, reigning only seven months, but in that time revoking the Cyrus decree; Darius Hystaspea, who renewed the Cyrus decree (Ezra 6), and Xerxes the Great, the Ahasuerus who divorced Vashti and married Esther (see book of Esther).


Or we may omit the impostor and make Xerxes the fourth, including Cyrus. But the part played by the impostor in Jewish affairs (Ezra 4) favors the retention of him as one of the three, and thus making Xerxes the fourth after the three and the fifth, including Cyrus. Evidently the prophecy lays special stress on Xerxes because of his great riches and because of his stirring up all the world against the realms of Greece. The word "realm" is plural in the versions, referring to the many Greek states. Every schoolboy is familiar with the history of Xerxes the Great, whose wealth was incalculable, who stirred up the world to invade the Grecian states, whose army by some was reckoned 5,000,000, who crossed the Hellespont, killed Leonidas of Sparta at the pass of Thermopylae, captured Athens, when its citizens had embarked on their fleet, who was disastrously defeated in the naval battle of Salamis by Themistocles, and whose bridge of boats on the Hellespont was destroyed by a storm, provoking his impotent wrath against the sea, and his having the sea flogged with chains, and his disgraceful return to his own land. (See schoolboy and legislative oratory on Thermopylae, and Byron's matchless poem, "The Isles of Greece," in Childe Harold. See also Herodotus VII: 20-99; and Rollin's Ancient History, for his immense armament.)


We are not to understand that Xerxes, except under the instigation of Haman, was unfriendly to the Jews, but he is made prominent here, because it was his invasion that led largely afterward to the unification of the Greek states under Philip of Macedon, with a view to invade Persia in return, as was done under Philip's son, Alexander the Great. We know that Alexander justified his invasion as a retaliation for the Xerxes invasion of Greece, and so this prophecy drops all reference to later Persian kings in order to pass to the rise of the third great monarchy. The great king of verse 3 is Alexander, and in verse 4 we have a prophecy of the fourfold division of his kingdom under Cassander, Lysimachus, Seleucus, and Ptolemy, discussed in the exposition of chapter 8, only here it is shown that his heirs did not succeed him, nor any of the divisions equaled his dominion. Diodorus Siculus tells us that Cassander murdered his legitimate son by his queen Roxana, named Alexander after himself, and caused to be murdered his illegitimate son, Hercules.


Antiochus had about whipped out the eastern kings, had conquered all Judea and Egypt and was besieging Alexandria when some ships from Chittim came into the port, and history tells us that from those ships came the Roman officer, Popilius, and said to Antiochus, "Stop this siege and go home." Antiochus replied that he would take time to think about it. The Roman general drew a circle around him in the sand with a stick, and said, "You answer before you get out of that ring," and he answered. That is a new detail.


It has been shown in previous discussions that all the prophetic sections in the book after the first are but elaborations of the first, and that each succeeding one gives some details of some one of the five empires not previously given. In chapter 8, we have an expansion of the third empire, giving an account of its fourfold division, just related, and particularly showing the rise of Antiochus Epiphanes, the little horn, in the latter days of the third empire, so now let us consider the new details of this empire, given in 11:5-32, as follows:


1. We have here (w. 5-20) and not elsewhere in the book, the details of the long series of conflicts between the kings of the Syrian and Egyptian divisions of Alexander's empire. As Judea lies directly between Syria and Egypt, it became the battleground and prey of the contending armies, passing in subjection first to one, then to the other, as the fortunes of war favored one or the other. The historical verification of these verses can be found in any commentary. Driver, in "Cambridge Bible," is as good as any on these verses, if not the best. It is brief and clear.


2. Verse 21 reads as follows: "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." Now that vile or contemptible person is where we commence to learn about the last antichrist of the Bible. In verses 21-32, if they refer at all to Antiochus Epiphanes (which may be questioned), these are details not given in 8:9-14) 23-25 (which unquestionably refer to him). Among these details are (1) the reference to his prodigal gifts (v. 24), (2) his check by the Romans (v. 30), (3) the varying tides of his war with Egypt.


It may be questioned that this chapter refers at all to Antiochus Epiphanes, because –


1. Chapter 8 has already given details of his relations to the third empire and to Israel, and is therefore less necessary here. We find nowhere else in the book a repetition of minute details. The details of the war between the Seleucids and Ptolemies are given in this chapter because not elsewhere given.


2. As he, the little horn of the third beast, was the first antichrist, and as the little horn of the fourth beast was the second antichrist, harmonizing with Revelation 13, so this chapter, from verse 21 to the end, may be explained to refer to the third antichrist, not harmonizing with Paul's man of sin (2 Thess. 2:3-12) who lasts to the final advent here (12:2). It is certain that verses 36-45 cannot apply to Antiochus, and if verses 21-32 are concerning the same person, then the transition to the last things commences at verse 21 and not at 33-35, according to the third theory hereinbefore set forth. Daniel never saw Paul's man of sin.


3. The fact that there is an abomination of desolation here (verse 31 and 12:11. as well as in 8:11. 13-14) does not prove identity, but is squarely against any reference here to Antiochus for the following reasons:


(1) The abomination of desolation in 9:26-27 is different from the one in 8:11, 13-14, as our Lord in his great prophecy clearly shows (Matt. 24:15; Mark 13:14).


(2) The abomination of desolation here (11:31; 12:11) is not the same as 8:11, 13-14, because the time number, 2,300 days of chapter 8 is different from the time numbers here, 1,290 and 1,335.


(3) Because this deliverance connects with the resurrection and judgment (12:2).


(4) Because John in Revelation refers Daniel's "time, times and a half time" as well as the great oath of God (12:7) to a point of time yet future in A.D. 95.


(5) Because some things foretold (even in w. 21-32) cannot be verified in the history of Antiochus, and none of the great things foretold in 11:36-45 and in chapter 12.


The true point of the transition, therefore, to the third antichrist commences with the "vile person" (11:21) and not at verses 33-35, as set forth in the third theory.

 

THE RESURRECTION IN 12:2


1. All commentators, radicals, and conservatives, pre-and postmillennialists agree that Daniel here refers to a real and final resurrection of the bodies of the just and the unjust.


2. The radical critics are mistaken in using this to prove a late origin for the book of Daniel, in order to account for the development of the doctrine. As our Lord says on this very point to the Sadducees, who were the higher critics of his day, "Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures," and then proves that the Pentateuch taught the resurrection. So also teaches Isaiah before Daniel's time, and so the Psalms, as Peter proved at Pentecost. And so Ezekiel (37) uses the resurrection of the body to illustrate the spiritual resurrection of the Jews.


3. The interpretation of Daniel 12:2 by Tregelles, the pre-millennialist, separating by a long interval the resurrection of the just from that of the unjust, finds no support in any text or version, and so far as I know in any great commentary. The curious mind wants the explanation of the time numbers 1,290 and 1,335 in chapter 12. Here the Son of God himself, who interprets this vision to Daniel, declines to answer the question, bidding Daniel go his way and wait for the fulfilment to demonstrate its meaning. So we pass on. But more important are the great pulpit themes in this book as suggested by it. Let us consider a few of them:


The supremacy of the divine government over individuals and nations:


And at the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me; and I blessed the Most High; and I praised and honoured him that liveth forever, whose domination is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation; and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: as he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? – DANIEL 4:34-35.


Now that is a great text on the supremacy of God's government of individuals and nations.


The second great text is found in the same chapter: "Take away from him the heart of a man and give him the heart of a beast." And that is the theme for the agnostic, the one who can't know that there is a God and that he ruleth in heaven. He classes himself with the beast, and he might as well be a brute and go out and eat grass like an ox. Another great subject is the distinction between duty to God and to the state, based on Daniel 3:16-18:
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God, whom we serve is able to deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.


Couple that with what is said of Daniel when he knew the decree was signed that no man should pray to any god but the king for thirty days (Dan. 6). He went to his room and prayed as his custom was and he prayed three times a day just as he had done before. Now in discussing that as a preacher it is important to show that when human government clashes with divine government we must make the law of God paramount: "Render unto Caesar whatsoever is due Caesar, but render unto God what is due to God."
Then Nebuchadnezzar, the king, was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king. True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. – DANIEL 3:24-25.


Now the great theme there is the presence of God with his people in their afflictions.


Another theme is the patriotism of Daniel or his love for his people as set forth in his prayer in chapter 9 and in his three weeks' prayer in chapter 10. Another great theme is the Messiah in the book of Daniel, (1) in the coming of his kingdom (2); (2) his great expiation (9:25); (3) the pre-manifestation (10); (4) the presence of the Lord with his people in their afflictions, (the text I have just given); (5) in his exaltation after his expiation (7) ; and (6) in his final advent for resurrection and judgment (12). A great theme for the preacher is, "The Messiah as Presented in the Book of Daniel." Another great theme is the several antichrists and the several abominations of desolation. First, Antiochus Epiphanes, the little horn of the third beast, and the abomination is the setting up of the statue of Jupiter and the sacrificing of a hog on the altar. Then the abomination in chapter 9 fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem in the effigy of the Roman Emperor on the standards of the soldiers. The second antichrist is the little horn of the fourth beast and the abomination of desolation that he sets up in claiming to be God and demanding worship of men. The third antichrist, the atheistic, world ruler who comes just before the millennium, and then the last antichrist, the same as Paul's man of sin who will be destroyed at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and his abomination will be that he himself will claim to be the returned Messiah, the king, in his final advent and demand to be worshiped. Several other themes are found in the book, viz.: The Influence of a Great Man, and of his Book on After Ages; The Wisdom and the Righteousness of Daniel as Seen by Ezekiel; Keep Thy Window Open Toward Jerusalem When You Pray; and "They That Be Wise Shall Shine as the Firmament, and They That Turn Many to Righteousness as the Stars Forever."

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What the first difficulty in interpreting the last two chapters of Daniel, and what aids to its solution?

 

2. What the second difficulty, and what the three theories of interpretation in this connection?

 

3. What the third difficulty?

 

4. On 11:2-4 answer: (1) Who were the four kings of Persia here mentioned? (2) How does Xerxes fill the description of the fourth? (3) Who the mighty king that should stand up and rule, and how does history prove that he fulfils the conditions here stated relative to his kingdom?

 

5. Relate the incident of Popilius and Antiochus Epiphanes.

 

6. What the new details of this empire given in 11:5~2?

 

7. Show the historical fulfilment of 11:5-20.

 

8. What question is raised with reference to 11:21-32?

 

9. If this passage refers to Antiochus Epiphanes, what the details?

 

10. Why may it be questioned that this chapter refers at all to Antiochus Epiphanes?

 

11. What of the resurrection in Daniel 12:2?

 

12. What is the explanation of the time numbers 1290 and 1335 in chapter 12?

 

13. What the great pulpit themes of this book as suggested by it?

 

 

XIV

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE INTER-BIBLICAL PERIOD INTRODUCTION

 


We commence this study with an introduction to the period. The Old Testament books written during the Babylonian exile are, part of Jeremiah, all of Ezekiel, all of Daniel, and possibly a few of the psalms. The Old Testament books written after the Jews' return from the Babylonian captivity are the following, in their order, as stated: Haggai, Zechariah, Ezra, Esther, Nehemiah, Malachi – Nehemiah and Malachi having been written about the same time. The Old Testament closes, then, about 433 B.C. with the books of Nehemiah and Malachi.


The extent of the period between the Old and New Testaments, in round numbers, is over 400 years, that is, from 433 B.C. to 4 B.C., the true date of Christ's birth, four years before the time it is usually given. We may learn the history of that 400 years: First, from the Jewish historian, Josephus, Jewish Antiquities and the first part of his Wars of the Jews. Josephus was a Jewish general in the war which led to the destruction of Jerusalem under Titus, living forty and more years after Christ died. Second, from a radical critic, Ewald, who has written, perhaps, the most remarkable history of the Jewish people. I do not very well see how we could do without it on account of its great scholarship and research, though many things in it cannot possibly be accepted on account of his radical criticisms. One volume of his history is devoted to this period. As that book may not be accessible, I mention Stanley's Jewish Church, the third volume. He is something of a radical critic himself, and follows Ewald just about as closely ' as Dr. Boyce, in his theology, follows Hodge. But better than all of them for brevity and clearness is a little book of the Temple Series of the Bible, entitled, "Connection Between Old and New Testaments." The author is Rev. George Milne Rea. This is the shortest, clearest, and most forcible history of the period that I know anything about. He is somewhat of a radial critic, but there is little poison in it.


Then, for a great part of the period, we find I and 2 Maccabees indispensable. They are apocryphal books of the Old Testament. The first book of the Maccabees is good, great, and spiritual. It is a fine history. It is not an inspired book, but many uninspired books are very valuable. I have been reading the first book of Maccabees ever since I was ten years old. The second book of Maccabees is also good, but not quite so reliable.


Daniel's prophecies concerning the Persian, Grecian, and Roman Empires, while prophecies are really a forecast of all the history there is on the subject.


I will sum up the histories of the period: (1) Daniel; (2) Josephus; (3) Ewald's History of the Jewish People; (4) Stanley's Jewish Church; (5) Milne Rea's Connection Between the Testaments; (6) I and 2 Maccabees. In giving these histories let me say that Josephus on that period sometimes gives the chronology wrong – in one instance at least a hundred years. The ancient Greek historians Herodotus, Xenophon, Polybius, Appianus, Arrianus, and others, touched on the period. The ancient Roman historians, Livy, Tacitus, Diodorus, and others, touch the period. The great modern histories of ancient times which cover the period are Rollin Rawlinson's Monarchies, Grotes' History of Greece, and Mommsen's History of Rome.


We next notice the Jewish literature during this period, i.e., what the Jews wrote during this period. We get the literature of this period to find out how the people were thinking, to what their minds were being given. A large part of that literature appears in the Septuagint Old Testament, and is incorporated in the Roman Catholic Bible. In our Bible the Roman Catholics make their insertions of the Jewish literature as follows: Just after Nehemiah they put in two books, Tobit and Judith, neither one of them historically good, and a good deal of Tobit is exceedingly silly. To the book of Esther they add ten verses to the tenth chapter, and then add six more chapters. That these additions were written in this period, and after the inspiration closed, is evident from the reading of them. Just after the Song of Solomon, they put two Apocryphal books, Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus. These books, while not inspired, make very good reading, but they are written, as I said, in that interval between the two Testaments, and rather late in that interval. Just after the Lamentations of Jeremiah, they put the book of Baruch. Baruch himself was the scribe of Jeremiah and a good man. This book, some of it, is exceedingly silly, and evidently not written by Baruch.


To our book of Daniel they make the following additions: When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were cast into the fiery furnace, they put a long song of about sixty-six verses into the mouths of these three men, and make them sing it in that furnace. At the end of the book of Daniel they put two stories: The story of Susanna, and the story of Bel and the Dragon – good stories to tell the children. Just after Malachi they put I and 2 Maccabees.


The Romanist Bible, Douay Version, has these additions and shows just where they come in. All these books were written during the period of which I speak, and in addition to them the following which do not appear in the Romanist Bible: the Prayer of Manasseh. He was the wicked son of the good king, Hezekiah, and the record states that when he was a captive in Babylon he repented and prayed to God to forgive him. It occurred to one of these inter-biblical Jews to write out that prayer for him. It is a splendid prayer and I do not see anything wrong in it.


A letter from Jeremiah to the Babylonian exiles. He had written one that we find in the book of Jeremiah, but this is . falsely attributed to Jeremiah. Then, during that period, they wrote certain psalms and attributed them to Solomon, calling them The Psalms of Solomon. Most of these are good reading.


But the greatest exploit of the Jewish mind during the period of which I speak was the translation of the Old Testament into Greek, the Septuagint version. I will have a good deal to say about it later.


I did not include in that period two other books written by Jews, and sometimes classed in the period. One is the book of Enoch. That is an apocalypse, an imitation of Daniel, and a good deal like Revelation. Some of it is fine reading. It is barely possible that part of it was written before Christ was born, but it cannot be proved. The other books are I and 2 Esdras. They were certainly written after Christ, both of them, and it is not yet clear whether a Christian Jew wrote them or an unchristian Jew, but they are intolerable stuff, no matter who wrote them.


I will now restate the literature of that period. I called attention to the part of the literature incorporated in the Romanist Bible, the following books in their order: Tobit, Judith, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, I and 2 Maccabees, then the additions to Esther and Daniel. Apart from what is incorporated in the Romanist Bible I gave these: The Prayer of Mannasseh, the Psalms of Solomon, the letter of Jeremiah, the great work of translating the Old Testament into the Greek language – the Septuagint. That commenced about 250 years before Christ, and it was about 100 years before all of it was done.


The king of Persia at the time the Old Testament closed was Artaxerxes Longimanus, and the book that mostly influenced the Jewish thought and hope during that period of 400 years was unquestionably the book of Daniel. Revelation is the quickening book of the New Testament, as Daniel was the quickening book to the Jewish mind, both of them apocalypses.


There are ten great preceding events which influenced this period of 400 years, as follows:


1. The first event was 722 B.C. Sargon, king of Assyria, reign ing at Nineveh captured the capital of the Northern Kingdom, the kingdom of the ten tribes, deported the inhabitants into the Far East) and colonized their territory with heathen people from his own realm. As we go on, not only up to Christ, but beyond Christ, we will see the tremendous significance of that mixed population in Samaria – a heathen population settled there to take the place of the deported Jews, intermarrying with the remnant of Israelites left behind, and constituting what later was called the Samaritan people.


2. The second great event was in 587 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, captured and destroyed Jerusalem, the capital of the lower kingdom, the kingdom of Judah, and deported the best and most influential of the inhabitants to Babylon. All through the period comes the echo of that event.


3. The third great preceding event was in 538 B.C. Cyrus, king of the Medo-Persian Empire, captures Babylon, and in 536 B.C., two years later, he issued a decree allowing the Jewish captives in Babylon, so many as wished to do it, to go back to their own country, instructing them to rebuild their Temple, which Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed. This event, as we will find, was mighty in influencing the inter-biblical period in several respects. Heretofore the fortunes of the people of Israel had been influenced by the Hamitic and Semitic nations, who held them in subjection. Henceforward it is the Japhetic nations that affect them. The Medo-Persians were descendants of Japhet. The Babylonians and Assyrians were descendants of Shem, as were also the Ammonites, the Moabites, and the Esauites. The people of Egypt were the descendants of Ham, and so were the Canaanites, including the Philistines and Phoenicians. Now, with the coming of Cyrus to Babylon the nations to affect the Jews are the descendants of Japhet.


The second respect, and a very remarkable one, was that the policy of Assyria and Babylon had been to deport the inhabitants of the countries that they conquered and colonize them elsewhere. That had been the settled policy. The policy of Cyrus was exactly the opposite – to send all the exiles home, when conquering any people. Cyrus was not a Persian, but an Elamite, and hence not a monotheist, but a polytheist. He was a great man. A heathen, while he did not know God, God knew him, and God raised him up to do the work that he did. as Isaiah prophesied, "God says, I will raise up and guide Cyrus, though he knows me not." He not only sent home those of the Jews that wanted to go, but any other captive nation.


The third respect was the policy of all the Hamitic and Semitic nations that when they conquered the people of Israel they destroyed their religion. Cyrus' policy was exactly the opposite; he did not want to interfere with the religion of any conquered people. He even sent back all the captured idols in Babylon and sent the people back to their native land. He sent the Jews back and gave them all the Temple vessels, the sacred vessels of the sanctuary. No Persian king ever interfered with the religion of a conquered nation. At no time during the subjection of the Jews to the Persians, while they controlled the political end, did they interfere with their consciences. They let them worship God in their own way.


The fourth respect was that the Medo-Persian policy allowed a Jew, who was qualified, to be local governor, subject to the satrap who controlled a district, and was like a viceroy. The king appointed him and he had a great district under him. For instance, the district of Syria was ruled by a satrap, with headquarters at Damascus, but Judea was one province of this district whose local governor might be a Jew; and we know of two distinguished Jews who were local governors; Zerubbabel was one – he was the first one, who belonged to the line of David. He was not made king, but was the local governor over all the territory reoccupied by the Jews. The high priest, with a council of elders, attended to the religious matters. Nehemiah also was a local governor, but I do not know that any other Jew was local governor during that period. It is somewhat doubtful, from an expression in Nehemiah and one in Malachi, but those two were permitted to rule in civil matters.


4. The fourth great event that affected the inter-biblical period was in 535 B.C., when nearly 50,000 Jews returned to their own country with Zerubbabel as governor and Joshua as high priest, with orders to rebuild their own Temple and worship God according to their old forms. The question has often been asked why no more returned. There were forty-two thousand and some hundreds, besides some seven or eight thousand servants and some singing people, but less than fifty thousand Jews accepted the privilege conferred by Cyrus. One reason that the number was so small is that they would not allow anybody to go back – the Jews would not – who could not prove his genealogy – his pure descent by the genealogical tables. His pedigree had to be traceable all the way back to Abraham. That let out a good many of them. Now, as less than fifty thousand of them returned, that brings us to a new word diaspora, the "dispersion." The Jews who remained, from that time on till now, are called the dispersion. We find that language repeated in the New Testament. James and Peter both write letters to the dispersion.


5. The fifth great event was that these Samaritans, not being permitted to help rebuild the Temple, though claiming that they worshiped Jehovah, became bitter enemies to its rebuilding. Zerubbabel and Joshua were not counting numbers, but wanted a pure and homogeneous people. The Samaritans were a mixed race, and they refused to allow them to be associated in the work, whereupon they wrote letters back to Persia, making all sorts of accusations against the Jews, and finally securing an order for a discontinuance of the work of rebuilding the Temple, and held it suspended for fifteen years, until a new Persian dynasty received letters from the Jews asking him to search the records of the reign of Cyrus and see if he could not find that decree allowing the Jews to rebuild their Temple.


6. Darius did have the records searched, and did find it, and he used a pretty strong hand to help the Jews, and told them to go on with the building of their Temple. So, protected by him, the Temple was completed and dedicated m the year 516 B.C. The rebuilding of that Temple, the re-establishing of the old Jewish worship, can hardly be overestimated as an event bearing on the period we are discussing.


7. The seventh great preceding event was in 478 B.C. Esther, a Jewess of the dispersion, living in Babylon, became the wife of Xerxes the Great, he who is called Ahasuerus in the book of Esther. She became his wife and saved the Jews of the dispersion from being destroyed by Haman. That Ahasuerus, the husband of Esther, is the very Xerxes that invaded Greece with so great an army, but that was before he married Esther. I will tell all about it in a later chapter in showing the struggle between Greece and Persia. The war really commenced under Darius Hystaspis, and just about the time that Darius was having that Temple completed he sent the Persian soldiers to fight the battle of Marathon, just outside the city of Athens, in which they were ingloriously defeated. When Xerxes the Great came to the throne, he led an army of over two million people against the Greeks. At the pass of Thermopylae, Leonidas and his three hundred Spartans died fighting for Greece. Then in the great battle of Plataea his land forces were terribly defeated. When Attica was invaded, Themistocles caused the Athenians to take to their ships and let the city be burned, and on the sea he fought and won the great battle of Salamis.


8. The seventh great event was in 458 B.C., when Ezra leads another caravan of Jewish exiles to Jerusalem. This was in the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus. He was reigning when the Old Testament closed. This was by far the most influential factor in the future of the Jews; indeed, with Ezra comes the rise of Judaism. The people are called Jews from his time on. The great factors of Ezra's coming were: first, he brought back a copy of the Mosaic law, the Pentateuch; second, with him commenced that remarkable body of people called the scribes. Ezra was a notable scribe. They were the publishers of the Bible, not indeed by printing, but they multiplied the manuscript copies of it. We may credit the publication of the Old Testament to Ezra and the scribes. These scribes, by giving the people copies of their Bible, had more to do with the great advance in the period of four hundred years that I am going to tell about than anything else.


With Ezra also commenced the Jewish Council of Elders, which afterward became the Sanhedrin, so well known in New Testament times. With Ezra's return from Babylon came also the synagogue, and of all the potential things that preserved the Jewish faith from that time on the synagogue takes the lead. Up to that time they were temple ritualists. Theirs was a sacrificial worship. From now on, wherever three or four Jews could be found in a place, they would establish a proseuche, or "prayer-chapel," like the one that Paul found at Philippi.


Where there were more of them they established a synagogue. The synagogue is not a temple, but it is a place of public worship. Every sabbath day, throughout the world, they come up to these synagogues and read a part of the law, and a part of the prophets, and a part of the other writings, and then expound them just as a preacher now reads a portion of the Scriptures and expounds it. Then, that synagogue was a popular assembly. For the first time, anybody in the audience that wanted to, could get up and say what was in his mind.


When Christ went to the synagogue at Nazareth, they handed him the lesson to be read that day. He read it and expounded it. When Paul entered a synagogue, the leader said to him, seeing he was a visitor, a stranger, "Brother, if you have anything to say, say on." It was of tremendous importance that the people should have Bibles and places of worship. The synagogue more nearly embodies the idea of a New Testament church than the temple does, and in the Greek Old Testament, it is sometimes called ecclesia. With the return of Ezra, idolatry by the Jews died forever. Up to that time God had scourged them continually with other nations because of their idolatry. .But from the time of Ezra throughout all their history to this very hour in which I write) no Jew has been an idolater; they ceased to worship idols. Well might the Jews call Ezra the second Moses.


9. The ninth, and last, great antecedent event is this: In 445 B.C., Nehemiah, the cupbearer to Artaxerxes Longimanus, asked to be appointed governor of Judea, and the Persian king, who loved him very much, made him governor. The Babylonians would call him Pekher, the Turks would call him Pasha, the Persian would say Tirshathe, but we say "governor." Nehemiah caused a wall to be built around Jerusalem to protect it from the Samaritans and Arabians, and their other enemies close by, and after staying twelve years he returned to Persia. He remained there a while, then came back and served as governor until 433 B.C.


I will briefly repeat these great events: first, the destruction of the ten tribes by Sargon in 722 B.C. ; second, the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 B.C.; third, the destruction of Babylon by Cyrus, king of the Persians, in 538 B.C., and the marvelous advantages of his policy; fourth, in 535 B.C., fifty thousand Jews returned with Zerubbabel as governor and Joshua as high priest; fifth, the Samaritans opposed the building of the Temple and obstructed it for fifteen years; sixth, Darius Hystaspis, the head of the second Persian Dynasty, in 516 B.C., ordered the finishing of the Temple; seventh, Esther became Queen of Persia, 478 B.C. ; eighth, 458 B.C., Ezra led another caravan to Jerusalem; ninth, Nehemiah was made political governor.


We have now before us the books of the Bible that were written in exile, the books of the Bible written after the exile, the histories that cover this period, the literature of the Jews during this period, and the great antecedent events influencing this period.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What Old Testament books were written during the Babylonian exile?

 

2. What Old Testament books were written after the Jews' return from the Babylonian captivity?

 

3. What then the extent of the period between the two Testaments?

 

4. From what books may we learn the history of this period?

 

5. What Jewish literature written during this period?

 

6. Who was king of Persia at the close of the Old Testament canon?

 

7. What book mostly influenced the Jewish thought and hope during the inter-biblical period?

 

8. What the first great preceding event which influenced this period and how?

 

9. What the second, and how? ..

 

10. What the third, and in what four respects was it mighty in influencing this period?

 

11. What the fourth, and how?

 

12. What the fifth, and how?

 

13. What the sixth, and how?

 

14. What the seventh, and how?

 

15. What the eighth, and how?

 

16. What the ninth, and how?

 

 

XV

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE PERSIAN PERIOD, INCLUDING THE CONFLICT BETWEEN THE GREEKS AND THE PERSIANS

 


The Medo-Persian Empire established by Cyrus lasted about 200 years – to be exact, 207 years. But from the close of the Old Testament Judah was under the Persian rule about 100 years.


The first great event of the inter-biblical period under Medo-Persian rule was the building of the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizirn, and the establishment of a rival Jehovah worship. It was brought about in this wise: The last chapter of Nehemiah says this (pretty vigorous language, too,) :


In these days also I saw that the Jews of the land had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab; and their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews' language, but according to the language of each people. And I contended with them, and crushed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons, or for yourselves. . . . And one of the sons of the high priest, Eliashib, was son-in-law to Sanballat, the Horonite: therefore I chased him from me. – NEHEMIAH 13:23-28.


That started the event that I am going to tell about. It ends the Old Testament, but it started the event. The woman that Eliashib had married was very beautiful, as famous in her day as Helen of Troy. Eliashib went to his father-in-law, Sanballat, and said, "I must give up either my priesthood or my wife, but I do not want to lose either." Sanballat says, "I will manage it for you. I will build you a temple here on Mount Gerizirn, and you shall be the high priest of that temple." And he carried out his promise. That temple was built. They worshiped Jehovah, and they had for their Bible the Pentateuch only, though the text of the Samaritan Pentateuch does not agree literally with the Hebrew Pentateuch, but nearly so. They admit, as historical value) the book of Joshua. Now, there was a Jehovah religion, with its temple, with its high priest, and with its Bible, within a few miles of Jerusalem. About 107 B.C., John Hyrcanus, one of the descendants of the Maccabees, and next to Judas Maccabeus one of the greatest of them, not only destroyed that temple, but also destroyed the city of Samaria, as he says: "So that a visitor could not even find where that city had stood" – but we will learn all about that later. I am just telling now what became of that rival temple. The destruction of the temple, however, did not stop the feud. It existed in New Testament times. In John 4 we find our Lord talking with a woman of Samaria, who insists that the worship of God ought to be upon Mount Gerizirn. In the life of our Lord the Samaritans would always welcome the Jews passing through going north, but would not give any shelter to a Jew going south to worship at the temple. Because Christ was refused shelter in passing south, that son of thunder, John, wanted to call down fire from heaven on them. So that was a marvelous event as bearing on the subsequent history of the Jews. It came about in connection, as many things do, with a pretty woman.


The second great event of the inter-biblical period under Persian rule was the union of civil and religious powers in one person by the satrap of the district, making the high priest to be also the governor. The duty of the governor was to collect the tribute coming to the Persian Empire. In order to simplify matters the satrap of Syria made the Jewish high priest governor. The evil consequences, the far-reaching consequences of that act may be gathered, first, from a story in Josephus' Antiquities, book XI, chapter 7. He shows that when Eliashib, the high priest, died he left two sons, Johanan the elder and Joshua the younger. Both of these wanted to be high priest, because to be high priest was also to be governor. Johanan was the one entitled to it, but a very influential general of the Persian king, Bagoses, had promised the high priesthood to the younger son whenever the vacancy occurred, whereupon, in a row in the temple itself, Joshua the younger son was killed. The Persian general came and started to enter the temple, and they stopped him. He said, "Will I defile your temple any more than the man you murdered here in the temple?" And he put this kind of a tax on them: Fifty shekels for every lamb that was offered in sacrifice. Of course, that was a great deal more than the price of the lamb – it was 200 or 300 per cent more, and as they offered thousands of lambs we can imagine only what that tax was. It was a window tax that Victor Hugo went wild over, France taxing light, that is, the poor people could not have windows in their houses because, for every window in the house they had to pay so much more tax. So to tax the very offerings of religion was a tremendous innovation. Suppose every time we gave a dollar to missions, the state should tax us three dollars. That would dry up the source of contribution pretty soon, wouldn't it?


The first evil was in uniting the civil and the religious powers in one person. And the second evil was, that whenever we begin to unite church and state, the state may say, "I have the right to tax all contributions of the church." The third and greatest evil that arose was that the state, from this precedent, began to claim the right to appoint the high priest, claiming that the leader of religion must be appointed by the state.


The next great evil was that the office of high priest became a matter of barter and sale. The one who controlled the revenues, just so he satisfied the central government, could keep just as much as he pleased in his own pocket. For instance, if the Persian governor needed a revenue, say $100,000 a year, and this high priest were to tax them $300,000, he could send the state $100,000 and keep $200,000. Later on in the history this fearful precedent, established at this time, had evil effects more far reaching. In Christ's time, there were two living high priests. Whoever was governor would claim the right to appoint the high priest. Caiaphas and his father-in-law, Annas, were both high priests. In order to illustrate the thought: What if the Tarrant County judge claimed the right to appoint all the pastors of the churches in the county? What if the governor claimed the right to appoint our superintendent of missions) or the president of our convention?


The third event of the inter-biblical period was the overthrow of the Medo-Persian Empire by Alexander the Great, consummated 330 B. c. The several periods of the struggle between the Greeks and the Persians were as follows:


Period the First: Before the Greeks were united into one government under Phillip II, king of Macedonia. This period extends from 500 B.C. to 336 B.C. The three Persian kings most concerned were Darius I, son of Hystaspis, Xerxes the Great, who married Esther; and Artaxerxes Mnemon, the last only coming within the period. Under Darius I, as I briefly discussed in the preceding chapters, came the defeat of the Persians 200,000 strong by the Athenians under Miltiades, 20,000 strong, at the battle of Marathon, right under the walls of Athens on the plain touching the sea.


Under Xerxes the Great, as I have already said, were gathered an army of 2,000,000 men for the invasion of Greece. There were 1,800,000 by measurement, not by counting. Ten thousand were made to stand in the smallest square possible, the space was marked off, and then, without any more counting, was filled 180 times. The great battles of this invasion were, first the defense of the pass at Thermopylae by Leonidas and his Spartans; second, the decisive defeat of the Persians in the great sea fight at Salamis by the Athenian general, Themistocles; third, the decisive defeat of the Persian land forces at Platea.


The battle of Marathon made such an impression on the young men of Athens that when a man said to Themistocles: "Why is it you cannot sleep? You are restless all night long," he said, "The honors of Miltiades will not let me sleep." I have often quoted that to show the inspiring effect of a great action on the mind of young men; how an achievement by one will suggest and stimulate a like achievement by others. The Persian fleet was almost entirely destroyed.


Now, under Artexerxes Mnemon occurred a great battle east of the Euphrates River, at Cunaxa, against his brother Cyrus – Cyrus the younger. Cyrus rebelled against his brother, Artaxerxes Mnemon. He wanted to be king of Persia, and having found out how the Greeks could fight, he hired 11,000 Greeks for his army. In this great battle east of the Euphrates River, in the first charge, Cyrus was killed and all of his army defeated except the 11,000 Greeks. They swept away everybody that stood in front of them, but when the fight was over, there stood 10,000 Greeks with half a million men around them, but they would not surrender. They were asked to parley, and their generals, under a flag of truce, went to confer with the Persians and the Persians killed them. And that body of Greeks, now without officers, elected new officers, and the most masterly retreat in any history is the retreat of that body of 10,000 Greeks. We find the history of it in Xenophon's Anabasis. That column of Greeks on their march from the Euphrates to the Black Sea, going over an entirely new country, and without ever breaking ranks or being whipped in a fight, they got safely back home. It was a great enterprise. The effect of that battle was far greater than all the others I have mentioned. It left the impression on the Greek mind that the Persians were very vulnerable, and that the Greeks could whip them under any fair circumstances, and suggested the unity of the Greek states with the view to the destruction of the Persian Empire.


Period the Second: The conquest of Alexander the Great from 336 B. c. to 323 B. c. This is a very short time. Phillip II, king of Macedonia, united the petty Greek states into one government with himself as the commander-in-chief, and made preparations to invade Persia, but was assassinated by an enemy in 336 B.C. His nineteen-year-old boy, Alexander, succeeded him, and he devoted about a year to continuing the preparations of his father, and that same year the last Persian king came to the throne, Darius III Codomannus. Here is a world-ruling empire; there is a nineteen-year-old boy. In the spring of 334 B. c., Alexander crossed the Hellespont. Soon after crossing the Hellespont he met the Persian army at the river Granicus. Indeed, he had to ford the river to get to them. But his men, when he plunged into the stream himself, forded the river and utterly routed the much larger Persian army on the other side. That was the spring of 334 B. c. He devoted a little over a year to conquering Asia Minor, and as he moved eastward he safeguarded the seaports on the Mediterranean. In 333 B. c., that is, the next year after he started, he met the great army of Darius in a pass in the mountains between Cilicis and Syria, at Issus. It was a pass between the mountains; the mountains went up on one side and the sea was on the other. Alexander, with an equal front, cared nothing how many deep the Persians were packed. The Persian army was almost annihilated, and the mother, wife, daughter, and camp equipage of Darius were captured.


Instead of going right on to Babylon, he determined to make all the Mediterranean coast safe, so he turned aside to conquer the city of Tyre, and all the coast cities to Gaza. Then he turned to Jerusalem and received the submission of that city, which I will tell more about directly. Then he went to Egypt and conquered it, and built a city after his own name at the mouth of the Nile, and called it Alexander, and it has been a great city from that date to this.


Then, to give the next date, in 331 B.C., he crossed the Euphrates River, and gave the final blow to the power of the Persians in the great battle of Arbela. That is a little east of where ancient Nineveh stood, and in that great battle the Persian power was ground to fine dust. Darius fled, but was soon assassinated. Alexander then turned south, and in 330 B. c. he made his triumphal entrance into Babylon. But that did not satisfy him. He marched out still into the Far East, conquering and exploring, and building cities in Afghanistan and Bokhara, crossed the great river, Indus, and conquered the Punjab section of India, and would have gone on to the other ocean but his old veterans said they did not want to go any further. So he turned around, and in 324 B. c. he re-entered Babylon to make it the capital of his empire – and the next year he died from taking too big a drink of ardent spirits. There was an immense cup called Hercules, and because somebody said that no man could drink all that was in that vessel at one time, he, believing himself a demigod, drank it all. He never recovered. That was in 323 B.C. When he died he was just thirty-two years old, and no man known to history had such a career – no Caesar, no Hannibal, no Bonaparte – a boy conquered the world in about six years, including much of the country that England now holds in India.


I have given a brief account of his history, and now we come to the important part about him – his touch with the Jews living in Jerusalem during the inter-biblical period. I will follow the account here given by Josephus. While Alexander was besieging Tyre he wrote a letter to the high priest and governor at Jerusalem, demanding that he send auxiliary troops and supplies. Jaddua replied, "I have taken the oath of allegiance to Darius. I cannot do it." Alexander said nothing, but kept it in his mind. The Samaritans sent the supplies. As soon as he had conquered Gaza he determined to look in on that Jerusalem that would refuse him. When Jaddua heard that Alexander was approaching, he formed a great procession of the priesthood and himself in full regalia, according to the Aaronic custom, marching at the head of it and holding the sacred Scriptures, without a sword or spear, coming simply with the Word of God.


The conqueror of the world and the high priest met. Alexander's generals expected him to order them all to instant execution. Instead he leaped down from his horse, approached and saluted the high priest with great respect, walked with him back into the city, and paid for the sacrifices to be offered according to the Jewish law, and then turned to the high priest and said, "Ask me what you will." The high priest said, "Our people plant no crops the seventh year; exempt us from tribute on the sabbatic year."


He said, "Granted."


"Our people want to enjoy our own religion in our own way."


"Granted."


"Our brethren of the dispersion in Babylon and Media, where you are going, want to enjoy their religion in their own way."


"Granted."


"Can we enter your army on a footing of equality?"


"Granted, and I will transport a number of you to Egypt where I am going, and when I build a city there I will give you a separate section of the city to be known as the Jewish quarter."


[Subsequent histories of certain cities tell us of the Jewish quarter. Tacitus, Paul, and the Roman poets tell us about it.]


"In your own quarter of the city you may elect your own magistrates, and have your religion as you wish it."


Parmenio, the leading general of Alexander, was astounded, and in explanation Alexander said:


"While I was in Macedon) before I started on this expedition, and was studying in my mind about this movement, one night I slept, and in my dream I saw this very man in this very dress he is wearing now, come to me and say, 'Hesitate not; cross the Hellespont; the Persians will fall before you.' "


And it is a remarkable fact that in Babylon and in every part of the country that he swayed he gave many privileges to the Jews.


Daniel represents the transition of empire from Persian to Grecian as follows: In Daniel 2:32 he makes the body and thighs of brass of that luminous image seen by Nebuchadnezzar represent Greece, and in 7:6 the vision of the leopard with four wings, he makes Greece. And in 8:5 (we find all Grecian history for centuries forecast in Daniel), he says,


And as I was considering, behold a he-goat came from the west over the face of the whole earth and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. And he came to the ram that had the two horns, which I saw standing before the river, and ran upon him in the fury of his power. And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with anger against him, and break his two horns; and there was no power in the ram to stand before him; but he cast him down to the ground, and trampled upon him; and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand.


We will come to the four horns later, but just now I give the account that relates to the breaking of the one horn, the notable horn:
And the he-goat magnified himself exceedingly, and when he was strong the great horn was broken, and instead of it there came up four notable horns toward the four winds of heaven.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. How long lasted the Medo-Persian Empire established by Cyrus?

 

2. From the close of the Old Testament how long was Judah under the Persian rule?

 

3. What the first great event of the inter-biblical period under Persian rule, and how was it brought about?

 

4. When and by whom was this temple destroyed, and did the destruction of the temple end the feud?

 

5. What and when the second great event in the inter-biblical period under Persian rule, how was it brought about, what its far-reaching developments, and what its evil?

 

6. What the third great event of the inter-biblical period, and how and when brought about?

 

7. What the first period of the struggle between the Greeks and the Persians, and who the Persian kings most concerned?

 

8. What the author's experience in learning Greek history?

 

9. What the relative sizes of the Grecian and Persian armies in this struggle, and what the great battles of the invasion of Xerxes?

 

10. Describe the battle of Cunaxa and the results.

 

11. What the second period of the struggle between the Greeks and the Persians?

 

12. Describe the various conquests of Alexander the Great, and his death.

 

13. What the relation between Alexander and the Jews, how illustrated, and what Alexander's own explanation of it?

 

14. How does Daniel represent the transition of empires from the Persians to the Grecians?

 

 

XVI

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE JEWS UNDER GREEK RULE, FROM THE DEATH OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT TO THE TIME JUDEA PASSED FROM THE RULE OF THE PTOLEMIES OF EGYPT TO THE RULE OF THE SELEUCIDS AT ANTIOCH 323 B.C. to 198 B.C.

 


This chapter covers a period of 125 years. We have briefly considered in the preceding chapter, first, the struggle between the petty Greek states and the Persians, until the consolidation of the Greek power under Phillip II, king of Macedonia, who was assassinated 336 B.C.; and second, the consummation of that struggle at the battle of Arbela, the overthrow of the Persian Empire, and the conquest of the world by Alexander the Great, who died at Babylon 323 B.C. We found Alexander to be the greatest of all military conquerors in the annals of time, whose greatness was largely attributable to one teacher, Aristotle, who had charge of his education from thirteen to sixteen years of age, and to one inspiring book, the greatest of all epics, Homer's Iliad, which he carried with him in all his wars and explorations, putting it under his camp pillow every night.


What a lesson that is! The power of a great teacher and the power of a great book, as reproduced in a student's life!


Our concern with this marvelous ancient history is limited to a single inquiry: How did the Greek conquest of the world affect the kingdom of God? We have considered so much of that inquiry as related to Alexander himself and the Jews. We are now to continue the inquiry on the relation of the Jews and Alexander's successors. Here we are stopped from limiting our investigation to the comparatively few Jews occupying the small territory around Jerusalem, for that territory at this time, and ever since their return from exile, was very small. Later on in this inter-biblical period, we will see an expansion of territory equal to David's kingdom.


The first thought of the lesson is that with Alexander there came into crystallized use a new term that will largely affect Jewish history for hundreds of years. In fact, it is very prominent during the New Testament period. This term was "Hellenism," or "Hellenists," which was applied to the Jews of the dispersion, in contrast with the Hebrews living in the Holy Land. The Hellenists were Grecianized in foreign lands, many of them so Grecianized that they could not even speak, either the Hebrew or the Aramaic language. The modification was not one of language only; the Greek cult influenced them in many ways. We find in Acts 6 and many places elsewhere, that it was a problem in the apostolic church. Some of the New Testament books are addressed exclusively to the Hellenists: James wrote to the twelve tribes of the dispersion in Asia Minor, and the letter to the Hebrews was to the same class. All the other letters of Paul concerned the Hellenists more than the Hebrews of Judea. The Jews of the dispersion constituted the overwhelming majority of the Jewish race. There had been many forced deportations of Jews by conquerors into foreign lands, few of whom ever returned to live in Palestine. Many colonies of Jews, by their own consent, were planted in various parts of the world by the rulers. Then their own restless migrations for the purposes of trade and commerce carried them everywhere. They all, however, regarded Jerusalem as their holy city, and their restored Temple as their center of unity. They paid their Temple tax, and thousands of them from every land went up to the great annual feasts.


At the famous Pentecost, (Acts 2), they were present from every nation under heaven, as that record says, Parthia, Proconsular Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, Cyrene, Rome, Crete and Arabia. The Greek influence, mark you, was not limited to the Jews of the dispersion. The small Judea about Jerusalem was circled by Greek cities, multiplying points of contact with the home Jews. In Alexander's time these environing Greek cities were Gaza, Joppa, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Samaria, Hyppus; east of the Jordan, Scythopolis and Gadara in Galilee; Alexandria and others in Egypt; and under Ptolemy Philadelphus, Ptolemais on the coast was added, and the famous Rabbah of the Ammonites became the Greek Philadelphia.


These Greek cities kept multiplying in the passing years, until Jerusalem was ring-fired by them, and there was no resisting the Greek culture. So powerful was it that it conquered Rome after Rome had conquered the Grecian Empire. Generally, under the Greek rule, as it had been generally under the Persian rule, the Jews enjoyed great privileges, both at home and abroad, under Alexander himself, under Ptolemies, and for a part of the time under the Seleucida at Antioch. Coele-Syria, that is, from Lebanon to Egypt, was a Greek province, of which Judea was a part. We now come to…

 

THE DIVISION OF ALEXANDER'S EMPIRE


For many years after Alexander's death there were stormy times in settling the succession. The various provinces were under the most famous of the Greek generals, who battled with each other for the supremacy. When all of Alexander's children died the issue lay between Antigonus, the old general, on one side, and four other generals combined on the other side, namely: Ptolemy, Seleucus, Lysimachus, and Cassander. This issue was settled in the great battle of Ipsus, in Phrygia, 301 B. c. Antigonus was defeated and slain, and the four conquering generals divided the empire among themselves, that is, Lysimachus and Cassander getting the European part of the empire and the Bosporus, while Ptolemy retained Coele-Syria, which he had already held ever since the death of Alexander. This included Judea. The Ptolemies held Egypt for 300 years, succumbing to the Romans, 30 B. c. Seleucus got for his part all of Asia except Coele-Syria, and built for his capital the famous Antioch at the mouth of the Orontes. There the Seleucids reigned for 250 years, until they were broken up by the Romans, 80 B. c. This was the partition expressed in one verse by Daniel (8:8), where he says the one notable horn being broken off, there arose four other horns.


Now, because Judea lay directly between Egypt and Antioch, occupying the most strategical position between Asia and Africa – if not the most strategical position in the world – it became a bone of contention between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids, and thus connecting those monarchies with the kingdom of God. The Ptolemies held Egypt and Coele-Syria, as I have already said, before the original partition, and held it until 198 B. c. They had already been holding it for twenty-two years before the partition, and that partition merely confirmed the position of the Ptolemies. The Ptolemies held Coele-Syria until 198 B. c., which I will tell more particularly about a little later. Then Judea passed under the reign of the Seleucids at Antioch. That was brought about by a great battle near the head of the Jordan River, Paneas, in which the sixth Seleucid, Antiochus III, named the Great, overwhelmingly defeated the general of the fifth Ptolemy, surnamed Epiphanes, and attached Coele-Syria to his kingdom. From that date on the Seleucids held Coele-Syria and Judea until it was freed under the Maccabees – the most heroic part of the Jewish history, which we will consider later.

 

JUDEA UNDER THE PTOLEMIES


We are now to consider Judea under the Ptolemies, from 323 B. c. to 198 B. c. The plan of administration was partly according to the Greek method, and partly accommodated to Jewish home rule. The high priest, assisted by a council, which afterward became the Sanhedrin, was the local governor, who collected all the taxes due the Ptolemies and remitted them to Egypt. Ptolemy Lagus, surnamed Soter, or Savior, held Judea and Coele-Syria when Alexander died, 323 B. c., and was confirmed in it after the battle of Ipsus, 301 B. c., as he had already been holding it over twenty years. Five Ptolemies have to do with this section, and I will cite only one great event in the reign of each one.


1. The first event touching the Jews was an act of treachery and inhumanity on Ptolemy's hart, which called forth the most sarcastic remarks from Josephus on the misfit of his name, Savior. According to Josephus, he came to Jerusalem on the sabbath day under the pretense of offering sacrifice to Jehovah, and was received into the city. There installed, he disclosed the purpose of his expedition to be a slave hunt on a large scale. By unresisted violence there and elsewhere in Judea and in the whole of the province, he enslaved many thousands of the Jews, and transplanted them into Egypt.


Josephus quoted a reproach from a Greek historian that so great a city should allow itself to be captured, while so well fortified, on account of a silly superstition of nonresistance on the sabbath day. The reproach was better justified on another occasion in the later times of the Maccabees, and still later when the Romans besieged Jerusalem. This injustice perpetrated by Ptolemy Soter occurred before the battle of Ipsus, while the war of the four generals against Antigonus was going on. After the partition following that battle, the rule of this first Ptolemy was, on the whole, favorable to the Jews, in both Egypt and Judea. There was no interference with their religion, and they enjoyed many special privileges in the city of Alexandria. The first Ptolemy reigned forty years, that is, from the death of Alexander, 323 B. c.


2. The second great event – and I count it one of the most memorable in the annals of time – (or rather a series of events) occurred in the reign of his successor, Ptolemy Philadelphus. The story as given by Josephus is somewhat too marvelous, though he publishes the original documents of correspondence passing between Ptolemy and the high priest at Jerusalem. This great event was the translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek – that famous version known to all subsequent ages as the Septuagint. This was an event of worldwide importance. Greek had become the vernacular of the world. No other language has ever equaled it in expressing delicate shades of thought. The world had now the Hebrew Bible, the Greek Bible, and the Samaritan Bible. In later times there were other Greek versions, but the Septuagint has easily held first place among the versions in subsequent ages. Christ and the apostles quoted the Greek text oftener than the Hebrew. The name is derived from the number of the translators, seventy (or strictly, 72). This version is an expression of the relation between Hellenism and Hebraism.


The history of the version is on this wise: The Greeks the world over were noted for literature, arts, philosophy, rhetoric, oratory, and architecture. And this Ptolemy Philadelphus had gathered at Alexandria the world's greatest library and museum. Alexandria became the world's greatest city of learning. It was proposed to place in this famous library the Greek version of the Hebrew sacred books. But as the Jews jealously guarded the manuscripts of their sacred Scriptures, an expedient to gain their confidence was suggested, to wit: That Ptolemy, out of his own revenues, redeem from bondage, not only the great multitude of Jews enslaved by his father, Ptolemy Soter, but all Jewish slaves in Egypt, whether brought into bondage before or since that time, including their children, to the number of more than 100,000. He paid cash to the owners of the slaves and redeemed all of them. What a contrast with the Pharaoh ruling Egypt in Moses' time!


Second, that he donate many precious utensils and priceless jewels for the Temple furniture. Third, that he make a large cash contribution for the purchase of sacrifices at Jerusalem. Fourth, that he send an honorable embassy announcing his generosities, and carrying a written petition from the king addressed to the high priest, and all the translators to be his honored guests in Alexandria while they were translating, and then to be dismissed with great honors and precious gifts to each of the scholars.


It is evident from the records that only a version of the Pentateuch was originally contemplated, but once undertaken it finally included all the sacred books, and other Jewish literature besides. The translation began 250 B. c., and all the Pentateuch was translated in a few days, but it was not completed in all its parts until seventy-five or 100 years later. The latter part is very much inferior to the first work done, and it, moreover, included Jewish literature never considered by the Jews as a part of their sacred books. The Ptolemies were after books for their library, whether profane or sacred. Josephus makes a very clear distinction between the sacred Jewish books and other Jewish literature.


If only half the details given by Josephus be true – if we allow much for exaggeration – there is nothing in human history to compare with it. The story of Jerome's Vulgate and King James Version are tame beside it. Ptolemy Philadelphus stands immortalized as a manumitter of slaves, and as a promoter of learning, and is entitled to more enduring fame than any Greek whatsoever.


But this great enterprise did not work altogether for good, because it was through the Septuagint, followed by the Vulgate, that Romanists got their apocryphal additions to the Old Testament, of which I gave an account in a preceding chapter, and it was from the Septuagint that the Greek Catholic Church got the same apocryphal additions. The Reformation restored the sanctity of the Hebrew Scriptures as the Jews themselves held it. Yet to the Greeks are we indebted for that beginning of translation which today gives to every nation our Bible in its own tongue. The story of the versions is one of the most thrilling in the annals of time.


One of the most pleasing parts of the story of Josephus is the account of the impression made on the mind of the great king by his reading of the Pentateuch in Greek. He was profoundly stirred by the sublime and divine majesty of that holy law. How incomparably superior to his Homer, Xenophon, Herodotus, Thucydides, Demosthenes, Socrates, Plato, Zeno, Aristotle, and Epicurus. So ever to great and dispassionate minds do God's holy words appear. If Socrates, without gospel light, was a seeker after God, according to Acts 17:26-27, surely Ptolemy Philadelphus, who walked in the light when he saw it, was nigh the kingdom of God, and we may at least indulge the hope that through God's grace in Christ, both of these illustrious heathen may appear in the heavenly kingdom.


3. The third great event, or series of events, of Jewish history under the rule of Egypt occurred in the reign of the third Ptolemy, surnamed Euergetes, 247 B.C. to 222 B.C. The Jewish high priest, Onias II, as Josephus says, was a man of "very little soul," obstinate as a mule, and a contemptible miser who flatly refused to send any tribute to Ptolemy. In vain Ptolemy threatened; in vain the people protested that they would lose their nation and their holy city. This bull-headed priest said, "I don't care; let it bring ruin." He was not going to pay out any money to Ptolemy – and it was not his money, either. This brought on a crisis in Jewish affairs. His nephew, Joseph, a son of Tobias, was allowed to save the situation by an expedient that was a bad precedent, and entailed many disasters. This young Joseph went to Egypt, gained the favor of the king, and modestly had himself appointed assessor and collector of the king's revenue in the whole province of Coele-Syria, which included Judea, at a high fixed rental. Backed by an adequate corps of Egyptian troops he returned, and by violent and oppressive methods farmed the revenue for twenty-two years. He would go to a place and select the names of the wealthiest citizens and confiscate their property until he got revenue from that place. In this way he combined in himself absolute power, both civil and ecclesiastical. Ptolemy got his revenue all right from these abundant confiscations, and Joseph in the meantime feathered well his own nest.


4. The fourth notable event under the Ptolemies was the alienation of the Jews from the Egyptian rule. There had been a smouldering fire against Egypt on account of the methods of Joseph, the son of Tobiah, in collecting revenue. Such methods will always bring revolt, if not revolution, and this prepared the way in the hearts of many Jews for swapping masters. An opportunity was presented in the bitter war being waged between the sixth Seleucid, Antiochus III, surnamed the Great, who reigned 223 B. c. to 187 B. c. and the Ptolemies. In the great battle between them, fought at Raphia, near Gaza, 217 B. c., Antiochus was defeated. Ptolemy, resenting the favors shown by some of the Jews to Antiochus, now thoroughly alienated the whole Jewish nation by two acts:


1. He went up to Jerusalem and outraged their religious feelings by thrusting himself into the most holy place of the Temple, from which he fled, as Josephus says, in superstitious terror as if he had seen some awful apparition.


2. On his return to Egypt he aggravated the general Jewish resentment by cruelty and oppression of the Jews there – quite an unusual thing for a Ptolemy to do. That is, all the ground gained in the Jewish favor under Ptolemy Philadelphus was now lost.


5. The fifth and last series of events of the period of this section was the damage done the Jews by Scopas, the general of the fifth Ptolemy, surnamed Epiphanes. With fire and sword and confiscation he swept the land. But in the decisive battle of Paneas, near the head of the Jordan, 198 B. c., Antiochus overwhelmingly defeated Scopas, and marched to Jerusalem, received him with open arms. And so Judea was lost to Egypt and passed under the rule of the Seleucids at Antioch.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What teacher and what book most shaped the character of Alexander the Great?

 

2. What concern have we with all this ancient Greek history?

 

3. What the extent of Judea at this time?

 

4. Where the overwhelming majority of the Jews?

 

5. What new term came in with Alexander, and what the explanation of it.

 

6. Give some New Testament traces of it.

 

7. What cause had brought about the dispersion?

 

8. What their relation to .Jerusalem?

 

9. Explain how Judea itself was somewhat Hellenized.

 

10. What the extent of the province of Coele-Syria?

 

11. Under what Greek general was it when Alexander died, and how long did his successors hold it?

 

12. Tell about the division of Alexander's Empire, the battle that decided it, and when and where fought.

 

13. How does Daniel in one verse foretell this partition?

 

14. Name the four Greek generals and the part of the empire each received.

 

15. With which two only are we concerned, and why?

 

16. How long did the Ptolemies hold Egypt, and to whom did its control pass?

 

17. How long did the Seleucids hold Antioch, and to whom did its control pass?

 

18. What the name of the first Ptolemy, and how long did he reign?

 

19. What great event of his reign touched Judea, and was it before or after the battle of Ipsus?

 

20. What unjust reproach was cast upon the Jews and Jerusalem by a Greek historian concerning this event?

 

21. What the second great event under the Ptolemiea, and what the remarkable story as told by Josephus?

 

22. When did this work of translation commence, to what extent was it originally limited, and how enlarged, and when completed?

 

23. What the effect on Ptolemy's mind in reading the Pentateuch in Greek?

 

24. What place in history do these events give Ptolemy?

 

25. What the importance of this version?

 

26. Why were apocryphal books included? 27, What the subsequent evil of this inclusion?

 

28. What third great event under the Ptolemiea, and what evil consequences?

 

29. What notable event under the fourth Ptolemy, and bow brought about?

 

30. What the events under the fifth Ptolemy, and where and when was the decisive battle fought which transferred Judea to the rule of the Seleucida?

 

LIBRARY QUESTIONS

 

1. Tell the story of the fate of the great library at Alexandria.

 

2. Cite some corrupt doctrines taught in the apocryphal books, and yet fostered by Romanists.

 

3. How does Josephus distinguish between the sacred books and other Jewish literature? Quote the passage.

 

4. How does Josephus make out the twenty-two sacred books so as to include the whole Old Testament, and how do other Jews make them twenty-four?

 

5. What other translations of the Old Testament into Greek besides the Septuagint?

 

6. Origen had in parallel column 6 texts called the Hexapla: What were they?

 

 

XVII

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE JEWS UNDER ANTIOCHUS III, SURNAMED THE GREAT, AND HIS SON SELEUCUS IV, SURNAMED PHILOPATER

 


This period is only twenty-three years, that is, from the battle of Paneas, 198 B.C., to the beginning of the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, 175 B.C. In the preceding chapter we considered the Jews under the Ptolemies of Egypt, a period of 125 years, 323 B.C. to 198 B.C. We limited our discussion to one notable event only, touching the Jews under each of the five Ptolemies. First, the treacherous enslavement of many of the Jews by Ptolemy 1, surnamed Soter. Second, the translation. of the Scriptures into Greek, with the attendant generosities, under Ptolemy II, surnamed Philadelphus. Third, the stupidity and greed of the high priest, Onias II, resulting in the farming of the revenue of Coele-Syria committed to Joseph, son of Tobias, under Ptolemy III, surnamed Euergetes. Fourth, the alienation of the Jews from Egyptian rule, caused by Ptolemy IV, surnamed Philopater, after his victory at Raphia over Antiochus III of Antioch, surnamed the Great. Fifth (and in my discussion before I did not sufficiently touch this), the great damage to the Jews done by Scopas, the general of Ptolemy V, surnamed Epiphanes, terminating with the defeat of Scopas at the battle of Paneas.


We are now to consider the fortunes of the Jews under Antiochus the Great, and his son Seleucus IV. Throughout the wars of the Ptolemies with the Seleucids for the province of Coele-Syria, including Judea, the Jews were ground to powder as between the upper and nether millstones. In such a brief discussion of this period our trouble has been to condense from such vast historical material, which enlarges as we go on. We have been compelled to touch lightly the Greek historians, and from this point are embarrassed with the riches of material in the contemporaneous Roman historians – Livy, Tacitus, and others, to say nothing of great modern histories – Rollin, Rawlinson, and Brace, and Mommsen's great History of Rome, probably one of the greatest contributions to history of modern times. The matter has been complicated by treaties between the two powers, based on intermarriages. The most notable of these, so far, was the marriage of Antiochus II to Bernice, the daughter of Ptolemy Philadeipbus, and later to be followed by a marriage between Cleopatra, daughter of Antiochus the Great, and Ptolemy V, surnamed Epiphanes. These political marriages make a great deal of trouble in history.


As I have said before, the prophecies of Daniel constitute the clearest guide to this period. If we want to understand the war between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies, we will find it in the interpretation of the Daniel II, connecting Daniel 8:9-26 with II: 2-20, as both of these refer to Antiochus Epiphanes. A commentary on Daniel from the Cambridge Bible, by Driver, a pronounced radical critic, has as much poison in much of the book as there is meat in an egg. But his exposition of Daniel II and that section of chapter 8 that touches this period is very fine, very scholarly, and very clear. Josephus is hard to follow because he makes such a mix-up of his historical matter, particularly in his dates. Sometimes he gives a date a hundred years wrong, except where he follows the Maccabees. When he sticks to Maccabees he is generally right.

 

THE JEWS UNDER THE SELEUCIDS


We now consider the fortunes of the Jews under Antiochus the Great. After the battle of Paneas and his welcome into Jerusalem, after his annexation of the province of Coele-Syria, he was as generous to the Jews as Ptolemy Philadelphus. When he got to Jerusalem and received the joyful welcome in that city, after he had defeated and captured the generals of the Ptolemies, he was so impressed with their devotion to him and the valuable service they had rendered, that he gave a signal proof of his gratitude. I do not know just where we may find a more signal testimony of gratitude, manifested in the letters he wrote to the generals of his empire everywhere with reference to the Jews.


First, he set apart a large pension for Temple sacrifice. He used his treasury to furnish them food and supplies for a year, and seeds for planting. Now) to me that is a very pleasant bit of history to read. True, a selfish motive prompted him. He wanted these faithful Jews as a buffer between him and dangerous enemies. But even then this heathen did it more gracefully than the prescriptive Episcopalians of Virginia reluctantly endured the settlement of the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians in the Shenandoah Valley as a buffer against the hostile Indian tribes.


I had not space in the preceding chapter to tell of the movements of Antiochus after his defeat at Raphia. He had turned his mind to the East) waging successful warfare and enriching himself with spoils until he had re-established boundaries of Alexander's old empire. Hence, with largely increased resources he returned to defeat the Ptolemies at Paneas and to annex Coele-Syria. Now his thought is toward the West. He wants to break or block the rising Roman Empire, and aspires to restore the western boundary of Alexander's Empire, which had been pushed east by the Romans. He intends also to absorb Egypt, but just now wants peace with the Ptolemies, that he may concentrate against Rome.


To this end he makes alliance with Philip of Macedon and gives his daughter in marriage to Ptolemy, having two ends in view by this marriage – to secure peace behind him while he wars with Rome, and through his daughter to gain a quasi title to Egypt when opportunity serves to enforce it. Daniel foretells that marriage in these words:


And he shall set his face to come with the strength of his whole kingdom, and with him equitable condition: and he shall perform them: and he shall give them the daughter of women, to corrupt her [i.e. – Egypt], but she shall not stand, neither be for him. After this shall he turn his face into the isles, and shall take many: but a prince shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease; yea, moreover, he shall cause his reproach to turn upon him. – DANIEL 11:17-18
.


In the phrase of Daniel "to corrupt her," the pronoun "her" does not refer to his daughter, but to Egypt. The thought is to use his daughter to give him a hold on Egypt. But as Daniel foreshows, the marriage, while it brought temporary peace to the Jews, did not serve the purpose of Antiochus. Like a true wife, Cleopatra stood by her husband, and she bears a glorious name in Egyptian history. She determined that if she was to be married off-hand that way, to suit the political need of her father, she would make a true marriage of it. And she lived and died in Egypt, beloved by all the people. It is refreshing to come to the history of a woman of high mind and a high standard of morals. That marriage, he thought, would enable him to get possession of Egypt, and then, as he was going west, to get all the rest of the old empire, but he made a mistake. That marriage did not help him with the Romans, but it did help Ptolemy. As Daniel says: "Then shall he turn his face to the isles, and shall take many." The islands here mean the islands of the Mediterranean Sea, along the coast of Asia Minor and Greece, following the track of all the conquerors. He did strike out west with a great army and captured all of Asia Minor. He then crossed the Hellespont, over into Macedonia. Three times he touches the Romans. The last crushes him.


At Lysimalacia the Roman legation met him in warning. He gruffly replied, putting a reproach on them: "You have no more right to inquire into what I do in Asia than I have to inquire what you do in Italy." The Romans never forgot a thing of that kind. Antiochus pursued his march, following the tracks of Xerxes the Great toward lower Greece. But in the pass of Thermopylae he had a battle with the Romans, and they whipped him. That is his second touch with them. He then fled back to Ephesus in proconsular Asia. The Romans after the Punic wars, that is, after they had captured Cartilage, were looking East, and they had already annexed the European part of Alexander's Empire, and when Antiochus came into Greece interfering with their eastward trend, they determined to carry the war into his own country. He had entered into an alliance with Philip V, king of Macedonia, to fight the Romans. The Romans easily disposed of Philip, and crossed the Hellespont, going after Antiochus. The third contact was when the two armies came together in Phrygia at Magnesia. The book of Maccabees gives a very exaggerated account of the numbers engaged and of the war elephants employed, i.e.) if we may trust the more moderate estimates of the Greek historian, Polybius. In this battle, 190 B.C., the Romans entirely broke the power of Antiochus the Great, exacting the following humiliating conditions of peace:


1. The cession of all Asia Minor west of the Taurus Mountains.


2. The surrender of his floats and war elephants.


3. A crushing war indemnity that emptied his treasury and whose annual payments kept it empty. This vast war indemnity was more crushing than that which Germany exacted of France after the war of 1870. This empty treasury brought on all the woes of succeeding Seleucids until the dynasty perished.


4. They required him to give up his children and other kindred as hostages. It became a proverb: "Antiochus the Great was a king." Or, as Virgil describes Troy: Illium fuit. Mommsen comments: "Never, perhaps, did a great power fall so rapidly, so thoroughly, so ignominiously, &s the kingdom of the Seleucidae under the Antiochus the Great.


Daniel's prophecy concludes the story: "Then he shall turn his face toward the fortresses of his own land; but he shall stumble and fall, and shall not be found" – fulfilled when he "was attacked and slain by the inhabitants of Elymais whose temple of Bel he sought to rob of its treasures to meet the war indemnity exacted by Rome. "He was not found," disappearing as completely as Enoch and Elijah, but it was not a translation upward. Kings have to have money, especially when they keep up armies, and it occurred to him that the best way to get the money was to rob the temples.


In Mark Twain's Innocents Abroad is one of his quaint sayings: "When I passed over Italy and saw the poverty and squalor of the people, without clothes, without food and without money, and when I saw the wealth of the ages in the churches and in the cathedrals, it was a wonder to me that they never thought to rob the churches." While the Italians never thought of it, yet Antiochus the Great thought of it.


There was a very rich temple over in the East, at Elymais. The temples were the banks of the country. They were the sanctuaries – the one place one could keep money free from the robber. The temple of Diana at Ephesus had all the wealth of the East stored in it. Now, this temple was full of riches, and when the priest who had charge of the temple (a heathen priest) heard of the purpose for which Antiochus was coming, he let him and a few of his men enter the temple, then shut and barred the door, and killed them with rocks – all of them.


Well might Daniel say: "But he shall stumble and fall, and shall not be found." He left two sons, Seleucus, the rightful heir, and Antiochus IV, called Epiphanes. Seleucus succeeded his father. Daniel describes him: "Then shall stand up in his place one that shall cause an exactor to pass through the glory of the kingdom; but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger nor in battle." That is his history; twelve years he reigned. And in order to meet these annual payments to Rome he had to become a tax collector. He sent into Coele-Syria after taxes, and after gleaning all he could he still needed much money. In the meantime Judea was prosperous from the account of it in 2 Maccabees:


Now when the holy city was inhabited with all peace, and the laws were kept very well, because of the godliness of Onias, the high priest, and his hatred of wickedness, it came to pass that even the kings themselves did honor the place, and magnify the temple with their best gifts: and insomuch that Seleucus, king of Asia, of his own revenue bare all the costs belonging to the service of the sacrifice. [The reference here is to the grant of Antiochus III before the Romans broke his power. But all the treasure cannot remain. hidden when the impecunious son of Antiochus is exacting taxes.] But a certain Jew, Simon, of the tribe of Benjamin, who was made governor of the temple, fell out with the high priest about disorder in the city. And when he could not overcome Onias, he got him to Apollonius, the son of Thraseas, who then was governor of Coele-Syria and Phenice, and told him that the treasury at Jerusalem was full of infinite sums of money, so that the multitude of their riches which did not pertain to the account of the sacrifices was innumerable, and that it was possible to bring all into the king's hand. Now when Apollonius came to the king and had showed him of the money whereof he was told, the king chose out Heliodorus, his treasurer [we will have more to say about him later], and sent him with a commandment to bring the aforesaid money. So forthwith Heliodorus took his journey, under color of visiting the cities of Coele-Syria and Phenice, but indeed to fulfill the king's purpose. And when he was come to Jerusalem, and had been courteously received of the high priest of the city, he told him what intelligence was given of the money [what Simon had said about all that money in the temple] and declared wherefore he came, and asked if these things were so indeed. Then the high priest told him that there was such money laid up for the widows and the fatherless children: that some of it belonged to Hyrcanus, son of Tobias, a man of great dig-nity, and not as that wicked Simon has misinformed: the sum whereof was in all 400 talents of silver, and 200 of gold; and that it was alto-gether impossible that such wrong should be done unto them that had committed it to the holiness of the place, and to the majesty and inviolable sanctity of the temple, honored over all the world.


Heliodorus said: "All the same I have to have it." The high priest fell into a trance in which his face was marked; all of the priests commenced praying, the women of the city ran out into the streets, the children and the women, in view of such sacrilege as was contemplated, and while the tears ran down the high priest's cheeks, he led this prayer: "Oh Lord God Almighty, intervene, and prevent this horrible sacrilege." Whereupon, as Heliodorus entered the temple he met two flaming angels, one of them on a horse, clothed with gold, that struck him with his hoof and knocked him down. The shock nearly took away his life. And lest Seleucus might misunderstand, the high priest then went into the temple and offered sacrifice unto heaven for the sin of Heliodorus, and asked God to forgive him and raise him up, and on the intercession of the high priest he was restored, and returned to report to Seleucua to this effect: "If you have any man in your kingdom against whom you have a grudge – if you have a special enemy – send him to get that money, for he will meet a doom from God when he seeks to violate that Holy Place."


I cited what Daniel said about Seleucus. He died in twelve years by poison, and that brings us down to 175 B.C. When he died his brother, Antiochus Epiphanes, succeeded him.


What a temptation it is to me when I come in touch with all this ancient Jewish history and so many wonderful things related concerning it, by Greek and Roman historians, both ancient and modern, to switch off from the main point! But I am trying to limit the history to its contact with the Jews, and to do this I must condense two or three thousand pages of history to make one chapter.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What the scope of this chapter?

 

2. Who are the ancient and modern historians of Rome covering this period?

 

3. What complicates the history of the Ptolemies and Seleucida?

 

4. What prophet forecasts all the wars between these two Greek kingdoms, and what the sections of his book giving them?

 

5. What commentary on this part of Daniel is commended, notwithtanding the author's objectionable radical criticism on other parts?

 

6. What great battle placed Judea under the Seleucids? When and where fought?

 

7. How did the Jews receive the new master?

 

8. How did Antiochus evince his gratitude?

 

9. Compare this heathen with Louis XIV of France and Philip II of Spain.

 

10. Compare the settlement of the 2,000 Jewish families with the attitude of Episcopal Virginia toward the settlement of the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians in the Shenandoah Valley.

 

11. What the motives prompting Antiochus to give in marriage hi7 daughter Cleopatra to Ptolemy, and how did the marriage fail of its purpose?

 

12. Cite the three contacts of Antiochus with the Romans, and Mommeen's comment on the battle of Magnesia.

 

13. What terms did the Romans exact of Antiochus after the battle of Magnesia, what parallel in modern times, and their effect on the subsequent fortunes of the Seleucids?

 

14. To what expedient did Antiochus III and his successors resort for means to pay the Roman -war indemnity?

 

15. Why were temples made to serve as banks of deposit?

 

16. Give Daniel's forecast of the fate of Antiochus III and a Jewish account of its fulfilment.

 

17. Give Daniel's forecast of Seleucus IV, successor of Antiochus HI.

 

18. Give substance of the story in 2 Maccabees of the treasure in the temple, how Seleucus heard of it, and his failure to get it.

 

 

XVIII

 

(Return to Contents)

 

ANTIOCHUS EPIPHANES 175 BC.-164 B.C.

 


The prophecies of Daniel forecast Antiochus IV, surnamed Epiphanes, first, in Daniel 8:9-14, interpreted by 8:23-26; second, Daniel 11:2-20. The book of Daniel covers fairly nearly all the inter-biblical period. We stop Daniel's account of Antiochus at 11:20, and do not go on to the end of that chapter, as all radical critic commentaries do, because we are unable to apply that part of the book of Daniel to the wars of the Seleucids and the Ptolemies. There is certainly no historical verification of it in the life of Antiochus Epiphanes. My theory of interpreting Daniel 11:21 to the end of the chapter (12:2) is:


First, like many other prophecies, there is in this part of Daniel reference to some things near at hand and some things far distant, as when David's prophecy of Solomon's kingdom glides into the far remote Messiah's kingdom in Psalms 45 and 72.


This blending of things near and remote arises from the perspective in prophecy. It may be illustrated by the appearance of a far distant mountain range. Far-off, it seems to be one mountain, but as we approach nearer, the one mountain becomes a range, and what seemed its high point is a succession of elevations, far apart if they are viewed laterally, but blended into one peak if they are in one line of vision from the observer's viewpoint.


Second, so here, seen from only one angle of prophetic vision, Antiochus, the antichrist of his day, enemy of the Jews, is blended with a far more remote antichrist, an enemy of the Jews, who shall try to destroy them after their final restoration to their own land, and whose own destruction results in the salvation of all the Jewish nation, which we have presented in Revelation 19:11-21, collated with Isaiah 63:1-6; Ezekiel 36-37; Zechariah 12:8 to 14:11. Now, I am showing how to study this chapter. First, study it in the light of the interpretation of that passage in Daniel.


A certain part of the books of the Maccabees touches the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, viz: I Maccabees: l-6;2 Maccabees: 4-9. There is nowhere a better statement of this discussion than in those chapters from the books of Maccabees. However, I Maccabees is much more trustworthy as history than 2 Maccabees, which was written much later.


Certain parts of Josephus should be read also to understand the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, viz: Antiquity of the Jews, Book XII, chapters 5-9. But I Maccabees is more reliable as history than Josephus.


We now take up the most notable matters in connection with the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. First, we will consider the man himself. His father, Antiochus the Great, died leaving him as hostage in Rome, after the great battle of Magnesia. While in Rome, where he grew up, he became carried away with the Roman fashion of admiring the Greek cult. The second fact about the man himself is that he was not entitled to the throne. His older brother, Seleucus, indeed had died, but Seleucua had a son, Demetrius, a little fellow, also a hostage in Rome, and that boy was the rightful king of Antioch. Daniel tells how by flattery and treachery this Antiochus usurped the place of his young nephew.


The next thing about him is to consider his character. Daniel says he was a "vile person." He is the little horn of Daniel 2. He had a very brilliant mind, but he was more impressed by the way things seemed than the way things were. He had no conscience about sacred things at all, indeed, he defied himself. In the "Cambridge Bible" are photographic copies of some of the coins he issued, and on those coins were these inscriptions: Antiochus Basilanos ("king") Theos Epiphanes ("God manifest"), Nicephorus ("victory bearer"). The last is the title of Jupiter, "Victory bearer," and he had the artist who drew the plans for these coins to make his face on the coins resemble the face of Jupiter, as presented in his statues. It needed some change to make it look like that, but he did not mind it.


So much for the man. We will now consider the events. At the close of his brother's reign, Onias III, the good high priest, had gone to Antioch to remove the impression about the temple treasury that had been made by Simon, and Onias is in Antioch when Antiochus Epiphanes comes to the throne. A brother of Onias, named Joshua, who had become an infidel Jew and changed his name to Jason, then went to see Antiochus, and convinced him that he would make a good deal more money if he would depose Onias and make him, Jason, the high priest; that he was already Hellenized and believed in the Greek religion, and it would be a great help if Antiochus would make him high priest. So Antiochus kept Onias there until he died. He never saw his home any more, and this renegade Jew, Jason, was made high priest.


I am glad to notice that a great while after that, a still greater renegade Jew, Menelaus, being sent to Antioch by Jason, persuaded Antiochus to depose Jason and make him (Menelaus) the high priest, and he would get a better bargain still. So one thief turns out another, and Menelaus was made high priest. He made no pretensions to the observances of the Jewish religion. Jason, to show how much he was Hellenized, erected in the holy city, a Greek gymnasium. In these athletic days, when the schools are all turning almost exclusively to athletics, and the glory of a school is its athletics, we may understand what a baleful influence that gymnasium would have in Jerusalem, for both Jason and Menelaus, who succeeded him, persuaded the Jews that the best thing to do would be to attend that Greek theater and let their Temple alone. No Sunday moving picture show in modern times so nearly breaks up worship as did that Greek theater in Jerusalem.


The next event in connection with the reign of Antiochus was his purpose to bring Egypt into his realm. His satrap, Apollonius, informed him that two men in Egypt had charge of the little king, the nephew of Antiochus. Cleopatra, a sister of Antiochus, was sent over there to become the wife of one of the Ptolemies. I have already shown what a good woman she was. Now, her little son at this time was king of Egypt, but those who had charge of the boy after his mother died were renegades. This satrap persuaded Antiochus that if he would make a demonstration in Egypt, be could easily capture the whole country. Now in order to make everything clear behind him, he made his first visit to Jerusalem, where the renegade high priest received him with open arms, and made great promises about what he was going to do for the Jews. He then led his first expedition into Egypt and captured Pelusium, a port of Egypt, on one of the mouths of the Nile. The young king tried to flee, but his renegade tutor betrayed him to Antiochus, who caught him and pretended to act in his name. He subjugated nearly all Egypt, and issued some of those coins I told about and had himself crowned there.


While he was over there, however, the report reached Jerusalem that he had been killed. Whereupon the superseded Jason, whom I told about, and who had fled over the Jordan, collected a thousand men, returned to Jerusalem and tried to depose Menelaus. Antiochus hears of it, and thinks it to be a revolt of the Jews against his authority. So he comes back by Jerusalem, murders thousands of its people in cold blood, enters the Temple, takes away the sacred vessels, and among them the famous golden candlesticks, and robs the Temple of its treasure, and Menelaus helps him in all of it. He then made a second expedition into Egypt, 169 B.C., and recaptured all of the country except Alexandria, which held out.


He returns again, continuing all this time his oppression of the Jews, and makes a third expedition into Egypt. Cleopatra, that good woman I told about, had left two sons, and these two boys had fled to Rome and appealed for help. Rome sent an embassy to warn Antiochus to let the Egyptians alone.


When Antiochus was within four miles of Alexandria the Roman embassy met him. The leader of it was Popilus. The Roman had nothing but his staff in his hand. He lifted his staff and said:


"In the name of the Senate of Rome I command you to go back to your own country and let Egypt alone." Antiochus said:


"I will call a council of my friends and take it into consideration."


The Roman stopped and drew a circle around him in the sand and said:


"You will answer me before you get out of that circle, yea or no."


Those Romans were stern fellows. Antiochus said:


"Yes," and went home, but he went home mad.


The Romans made him abandon all his conquests in Egypt and the Mediterranean islands. Being exceedingly mad, he sent his general, Apollonius, to Jerusalem with instructions to make all Geole-Syria adopt the Greek religion and particularly required the Jews to abandon their religion.


The general captured Jerusalem, tore down its walls, and erected a fortification that commanded the Temple. He erected a Greek altar to Jupiter right on top of Jehovah's brazen altar, and sacrificed a sow, the abominable flesh to a Jew, and took the broth and flung it all over the holy place, and had filth cast into the most holy place, and commanded every Jew that had a Bible to bring it to him, and he tore their holy books to pieces and burnt their fragments. He issued an order that no child should be circumcised, and when some of the women disobeyed he had their babies killed and tied around their necks and then murdered the women. He then made every one that professed to be a Jew come up and eat swine's flesh.


There was one old Jew named Eleazer, so devout and venerable that, even the Hellenizing Jews loved him. They told him they did not want to see him die, and to bring a piece of other meat with him and eat that so that it would seem that he had eaten the hog's meat. But he said, "No, this is no time for compromising; if I would even seem to eat the swine's flesh my name would be disgraced. I am an old man, and a few days more or less matters nothing to me. Kill me. I will not violate my law." And so they murdered him.


A much more notable event we find in 2 Maccabees, concerning a pious widow and her seven boys. I lift my hat to them every time I think about them. This woman and her seven sons were commanded to violate the laws. She exhorted her boys to be faithful. They scalped the oldest one, and put coals of fire on his head, after taking the skin off, and then killed him, his mother looking on. But she exhorted the other six to be faithful. They killed the second one by horrible torture, and she exhorted the other five to be faithful. And they killed the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth the same way. She turned to her baby boy, her youngest, the pride and darling of her heart, and told him that his mother was expecting him to be true to his God and his religion, and they tortured him to death, and she kept on praising Jehovah until they put her to death.


I read that when I was ten years old, and it struck me &a being one of the heroic things in history. It is to such events that a certain passage in Hebrews II refers.


The old proverb is: "When you double the tale of the brick, then comes Moses." So now there arose in Judea an order called Asideans, pious people who preferred religion to everything else, and they entered into a solemn covenant to stand by the faith. When they were attacked on Saturday, their sabbath, because they would not fight on the holy day, they submitted to death without defence; 1,000 were murdered at one time as on another occasion their priests had been done iii the Temple, who kept on offering incense and worshiping God until they were slain at the altar.


There was a man named Asmon, from whom we get the name Asmoneans. A descendant of Asmon, an old Jew, a perfect giant, named Mattathias, had five sons, vigorous men, named John, Simon, Judah, Eleazar, and Jonathan, and the history of this old man and his five sons is more memorable than the history of the woman and her five sons. He determined that he would not be passive if they attacked him on the sabbath, but that he would fight, and that he would not consent to the destruction of the Jewish religion. When the deputies of Antiochus came to Samaria with the demand to adopt the Greek religion, they submitted at once, and dedicated their temple to Jupiter and joined Antiochus in fighting the Jews, as usual. Finally a deputy reached the little village where Mattathias lived, and commanded him to obey the law. He said, "I obey God's law." They then called up another Jew who offered to obey the law, and when he started to do it Mattathias killed him, and then killed the deputy, and tore down the heathen altar. He and his sons went all over the country tearing down the heathen altars.


The old man, seeing he was about to die, appointed his son Judas to have charge of the army, Judas, sumamed Maccabeus. "Maccabeus" means hammerer; Judas the Hammerer. Edward II of England, was called "the hammerer of the Scots," and in Westminster Abbey there is the inscription: "Edward, Hammerer of the Scots." In Jane Porter's Scottish Chiefs is given the history of William Wallace redeeming Scotland from the bondage to which Edward the Hammerer had subjected it. I used to read it and cry. No hero of history comes nearer being like William Wallace than Judas the Hammerer. His life, even as told by his enemies, and particularly the account by the Jewish historians, surpass~
- anything in history, showing the heroic force of a man fighting for his religion and his country.


I remember once, when I was a schoolboy, I had to recite Fitz-Green Halleck's poem, "Marco Boyario" – Greeks fighting Turks (just as they are doing now) ; that part of it where the Turk awoke to hear his sentry shriek: "To arms I They cornel The Greek! The Greek!" when he awoke to hear Bouaris cry:


"Strike till the last armed foe expires!


"Strike for your altars and your fires I


"God and your native land," may be given an original turn by applying it to Judas Maccabeus. The reader should cover the whole period, and even its approaches, by giving some account in order of the following battles:


1. Marathon, Salamis, Thermopylae, Plataea, Cunaxa.


2. Granicus, Issus, Arbela.


3. Ipsus, Raphia, Paneas, Magnesia.


4. Beth-horon, Emmaus, Beth-zur, Beth-Zecharias, Capharsalama, Adasa, Eleasa.


5. Pharsalia, Philippi, Actium.


These five series of battles give an outline of the period. The fourth series names not all but the most of the great battles fought by Judas Maccabeus. None of these, however, comes within three of his greatest campaigns, to wit, the redemption of Galilee, the conquests east of the Jordan, and the war against Edom.


Judas then brought Esau back to Jacob. He conquered Edom that had helped always in oppressing Judah, and from that time on Esau and Jacob were together. He and his brothers crossed the Jordan and drove the armies of Antiochus out of that country; they redeemed Galilee, and brought back to Jerusalem the persecuted Jews that were there. Antiochus, in the meantime, had left a general to take charge of his army and continue the war against the Jews, while he went on a temple-robbing expedition, like his father before him, and the same temple at Elymais. When he got there the gates were shut against him and he could not rob that temple. While there he heard the account of the overthrow of his army by Judas Maccabeus.


I will close this chapter by giving an account of Antiochus' death, from I Maccabees, in the one hundred and forty-ninth year (not of his age, but of the Greek Supremacy):


Now, when the king heard these words [about the defeat of his armies by Judas] he was astonished and sore moved; whereupon he laid him down upon his bed, and fell sick for grief, because it had not befallen him as he looked for. And there he continued many days: for his grief was ever more and more, and he made account that he should die. Wherefore, he called for all his friends and said unto them: "The sleep is gone from mine eyes, and my heart faileth for very care. And I thought with myself into what tribulations am I come, and how great a flood of misery it is, wherein now I am I for I was bountiful and beloved in my power. But now I remember the evils that I did at Jerusalem, and that I took all the vessels of gold and silver that were therein, and sent to destroy the inhabitants of Judea without cause. I perceive, therefore, that these troubles have come upon me, and behold I perish through great grief in a strange land." Then called he for Philip, one of his friends, whom he made ruler over all his realm, and gave him the crown, and his robe, and his signet, to the end he should bring up his son Antiochus, and nourish him up for the kingdom.


The account of his death in 2 Maccabees, which is not as good history as 1 Maccabees, is varied from the account in the first book and less historical.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What the subject and period of this chapter?

 

2. What sections of Daniel refer to this man?

 

3. Why not apply Daniel 11:20 to 12:1 to the war of the Seleucids & Ptolemies?

 

4. What parts of the books of the Maccabees refer to Antiochus Epiphanes?

 

5. What parts of Josephus?

 

6. How was Antiochus a usurper?

 

7. Give his character.

 

8. How does his blasphemy appear on the coins issued by him?

 

9. Give, in order of time, the first relations of Antiochus to the Jews as present-ed in the history of three high priests, Onias, Jason, and Menelaus.

 

10. What the effect on Jewish temple worship of Jason's Greek gymnasium? Illustrate by events of our day.

 

11. How and through whom was Antiochus persuaded to add Egypt to his realm?

 

12. Tell of his first visit to Jerusalem and his promises.

 

13. What occurred at Jerusalem while he was in Egypt to inflame his mind against that city & what the result of his second visit returning from Egypt

 

14. Give the dramatic account of his retirement from Egypt on the third invasion.

 

15. In his fury against Jerusalem what fearful havoc was wrought there by his general Apolloniua?

 

16. In this case what was the "Abomination of Desolation" spoken of by Daniel the prophet?

 

17. In that case how do you explain Matthew 24:15?

 

18. How does Daniel give the time from this desecration of the temple by Antiochus to its cleansing by Judas Maccabeus, and what is the time in years?

 

19. What general policy looking to uniformity in religion did Antiochus now adopt and its sweeping character toward the Jews?

 

20. How did Samaria respond to this religious demand?

 

21. Cite two notable instances of Jewish martyrdom from 2 Maccabees.

 

22. Who were the Asideans, and what their attitude toward this religious persecution?

 

23. What massacre of them occurred, and why did they not resist?

 

24. Tell about Mattathias and his sons, the commencement of their revolt, and their policy of fighting on the sabbath.

 

25. Of whom was Mattathias a descendant, and what long line was named after this ancestor, and can you tell now the person of the line and her fate?

 

26. In view of death to whom did Mattathias commit the military lead, and to whom the high priesthood?

 

27. What the meaning of "Maccabeus" and what English king bore a similar cognomen?

 

28. To what Scottish hero may Judas Maccabeus be compared?

 

29. What great battles did he fight, and in which two was he defeated?

 

30. Can you name the most distinguished generals of Antiochus fought?

 

31. Describe some of his campaigns, particularly in Galilee, east of the Jordan, and against Edom.

 

32. Up to what point in his conquests did all the pious Jews support him, and for what was he striving beyond that point?

 

33. Where do we find two variant accounts of the death of Antiochus and which the most historical?

 

34. Describe his horrible death,

 

35. What five series of battles give a battle history of the inter-biblical period and its approaches?

 

36. At the close of the study of the period be ready to date and analyze these battles, and tell their leaders and the issues decided by them.

 

37. By the conquest of Edom Judas Maccabeus annexed Esau to Jacob. How can you anticipate subsequent history by showing how this annexation ultimately resulted in placing both Esau and Ishmael on the throne of Jacob in one obnoxious person?

 

 

XIX

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE MACCABEES 164 B.C.-65 B.C.

 


We have about 100 years of exciting history to consider in this chapter. Our last chapter closed with Judas Maccabeus in power, and with Menelaus, the renegade Jew, as high priest appointed by the Syrian king. Menelaus, having been driven out by Judas, made an appeal to the king at Antioch, and a number of the Jews sided with him – those who had gone into copying the Greek spirit. He went to the king at Antioch and told him that Judas had driven out all his friends and was taking the country away from the Seleucids at Antioch, whereupon the Syrian king sent against Judas the old general, Lysias, who had served under Antiochus Epiphanes, with a great army. They went down on the east side of the Jordan and around the Dead Sea, and came up on the south. It was a very strong army. Judas) at that time besieging the stronghold in Jerusalem still held by a garrison of the Syrian king, had to rush hurriedly to meet this vast invasion with a very inferior force, about 3,000 men. Many of the 3,000 advised him not to fight – that it was impossible for 3,000 Jews to overcome such a host as stood opposed to him. The battlefield was at Beth-Zecharias. But Judas fought anyhow – he always fought.


A great many elephants were in the army of Lysias, and one of them being larger than the others and having more gorgeous trappings, was supposed by Eleazar to carry the commanderin-chief, Lysias. So he dashed forward alone and got under the elephant and, stabbing upward, killed him. But the elephant in falling crushed Eleazar and killed him. Judas was defeated and fell back on Jerusalem. Lysias, when he got in eight of Jerusalem and saw how formidable were the preparations made by Judas, and being very much disturbed by the fear of the increasing Roman power, advised Antiochus to make peace, and so peace was made on the condition that the Jews were forever after to be free in their religion, but remain subject to the Syrian government.


This peace secured the main thing for which the war was undertaken by Judas' father, Mattathias, and the Pharisees from this time on were opposed to the war. That is, they cared very little about political freedom. They were willing enough to be subordinate to another government if they were allowed to retain their religion. And about this time the renegade, Menelaus, died. From this time on the war between the Maccabees and Syria was a political rather than a religious war.


Just about this time the right heir to the throne at Antioch, Demetrius I, surnamed Soter, came to Antioch, dethroned the son of Antiochus Epiphanes, and killed him and Lysias, the general. Now comes to the front Alcimus – a man as bad as Menelaus or Jason. He wants to be high priest. He is thoroughly filled with the Hellenistic spirit, and in favor of Syrian domination. Demetrius appoints him high priest, and sends John Bacchides with an army to install him in office. The Pharisees thought they could accept him as high priest, inasmuch as he was a descendant of Aaron, in spite of the warning of Judas. But Alcimus, with Bacchides and his army to help him, killed a portion of the noblest of the inhabitants of Jerusalem in cold blood. Judas comes and drives out Alcimus, who makes a second appeal to Demetrius. Demetrius sends another great army to meet this great host of Syrians at the battle of Capharsalama, in Joshua's old battlefield at Beth-horon. Judas twice overwhelmingly defeats the Syrian general, kills him, and brings such spoils to Jerusalem as had not been seen for years.


Just at this time Judas began to be depressed in mind, thinking how often he had to fight great armies with only a handful of men, so he made an appeal to Rome – which was a mistake on his part. Woe to the nation that ever appealed to Rome! He made an appeal to Rome and sent an embassy empowered to enter into a treaty of alliance with Rome, and also with Sparta in Greece. That treaty was made, but Judas was dead before the news came. The following is the treaty, from page 45 of 1 Maccabees: