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Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible Barnes' Notes
These files are public domain.
These files are public domain.
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Daniel 8". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ bnb/ daniel-8.html. 1870.
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Daniel 8". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/
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Analysis of the Chapter
This chapter contains an account of a vision seen by the prophet in the third year of the reign of Belshazzar. The prophet either was, or appeared to be, in the city of - afterward the capital of the Persian empire, in the province of Elam. To that place - then an important town - there is no improbability in supposing that he had gone, as he was then unconnected with the government, or not employed by the government Daniel 5:0, and as it is not unreasonable to suppose that he would be at liberty to visit other parts of the empire than Babylon. Possibly there may have been Jews at that place, and he may have gone on a visit to them. Or perhaps the scene of the vision may have been laid in Shushan, by the river Ulai, and that the prophet means to represent himself as if he had been there, and the vision had seemed to pass there before his mind. But there is no valid objection to the supposition that he was actually there; and this seems to be affirmed in Daniel 8:2.
While there, he saw a ram with two horns, one higher than the other, pushing westward, and northward, and southward, so powerful that nothing could oppose him. As he was looking on this, he saw a he-goat come from the west, bounding along, and scarcely touching the ground, with a single remarkable horn between his eyes. This he-goat attacked the ram, broke his two horns, and overcame him entirely. The he-goat became very strong, but at length the horn was broken, and there came up four in its place. From one of these there sprang up a little horn that became exceeding great and mighty, extending itself toward the south, and the east, and the pleasant land - the land of Palestine. This horn became so mighty that it seemed to attack “the host of heaven” - the stars; it cast some of them down to the ground; it magnified itself against the Prince of the host; it caused the daily sacrifice in the temple to cease, and the sanctuary of the Prince of the host was cast down.
An earnest inquiry was made by one saint to another how long this was to continue, and the answer was, unto two thousand and three hundred days, and that then the sanctuary would be cleansed. Gabriel is then sent to explain the vision to the prophet, and he announces that the ram with the two horns represented the kings of Media and Persia; the goat, the king of Greece; the great horn between his eyes, the first king; the four horns that sprang up after that was broken, the four dynasties into which the kingdom would be divided; and the little horn, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, and that would stand up against the Prince of princes, and that would ultimately be destroyed. The effect of this was, that Daniel was overcome by the vision for a certain time; afterward he revived, and attended to the business of the king, but none understood the vision.
This is one of the few prophecies in the Scriptures that are explained to the prophets themselves, and it becomes, therefore, important as a key to explain other prophecies of a similar character. Of the reference to the kingdom of Media and Persia, and to the kingdom of Greece, there is an express statement. The application of a portion of the prophecy to Alexander the Great, and to the four monarchies into which his kingdom was divided at his death, is equally certain. And there can be as little doubt of the application of the remainder to Antiochus Epiptianes, and in this, nearly all expositors are agreed. Indeed, so striking and clear is the application to this series of historical events, that Porphyry maintained that this, as well as other portions of Daniel, were written after the events occurred. One of two things, indeed, is certain - either that this was written after the events here referred to occurred, or that Daniel was inspired. No man by any natural sagacity could have predicted these events with so much accuracy and particularity.
The portion of Daniel which follows is in pure Hebrew. The portion of the book from the fourth verse of the second chapter to the end of the seventh chapter was written in Chaldee. On this point, see Intro. Section IV. III. (1).
In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar - In regard to Belshazzar, see Intro. to Daniel 5:0 Section II.
A vision appeared unto me - This vision appears to have occurred to him when awake, or in an ecstasy; the former one occurred when he was asleep, Daniel 7:1. Compare Daniel 8:17-18, where the prophet represents himself as overpowered, and as falling down to the earth on account of the vision. The representation would seem to have been made to pass before his mind in open day, and when he was fully awake. Compare the case of Balaam, Numbers 24:4 : “Which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open.”
After what appeared unto me at the first - That occurred in the first year of Belshazzar, Daniel 7:1.
And I saw in a vision - I looked as the vision appeared to me; or I saw certain things represented to me in a vision. On the word vision, see the notes at Daniel 1:17. The meaning here would seem to be that a vision appeared to Daniel, and that he contemplated it with earnestness, to understand what it meant.
That I was at Shushan - As remarked in the introduction to this chapter, this might mean that he seemed to be there, or that the vision was represented to him as being there; but the most natural construction is to suppose that Daniel was actually there himself. Why he was there he has not informed us directly - whether he was on public business, or on his own. From Daniel 8:27, however - “Afterward I rose up, and did the king’s business” - it would seem most probable that he was then in the service of the king. This supposition will not conflict with the statement in Daniel 5:10-11, in which the queen-mother, when the handwriting appeared on the wall of the palace informs Belshazzar that there was “a man in his kingdom in whom was the spirit of the holy gods, etc.” - from which it might be objected that Daniel was at that time unknown to the king, and could not have been in his employ, for it might have been a fact that he was in the employ of the king as an officer of the government, and yet it may have been forgotten that he had this power of disclosing the meaning of visions.
He may have been employed in the public service, but his services to the father of the king, and his extraordinary skill in interpreting dreams and visions may not at once have occurred to the affrighted monarch and his courtiers. Shushan, or Susa, the chief town of Susiana, was the capital of Persia after the time of Cyrus, in which the kings of Persia had their principal residence, Nehemiah 1:1; Esther 1:2-5. It was situated on the Eulaeus or Choaspes, probably on the spot now occupied by the village Shus. - Rennel, Geog. of Herodotus; Kinneir, Mem. Pers. Emp.; K. Porter’s Travels, ii. 4, 11; Ritter, Erdkunde, Asien, 9: 294; Pict. Bib. in loc. At Shus there are extensive ruins, stretching perhaps twelve miles from one extremity to the other, and consisting, like the other ruins in that country, of hillocks of earth, and rubbish, covered with broken, pieces of brick and colored tile. At the foot of these mounds is the so-called tomb of Daniel, a small building erected on the spot where the remains of Daniel are believed in that region to rest.
It is apparently modern, but nothing but the belief that this was the site of the prophet’s sepulchre could have led to its being built in the place where it stands - Malcolm, Hist. of Persia, i. 255, 256. The city of Shus is now a gloomy wilderness, inhabited by lions, hyenas, and other beasts of prey. - Kitto’s Cyclo., art. “Shushan.” Sir John Kinneir says that the dread of these animals compelled Mr. Monteith and himself to take shelter for the night within the walls that encompass Daniel’s tomb. Of that tomb Sir John Malcolm says, “It is a small building, but sufficient to shelter some dervishes who watch the remains of the prophet, and are supported by the alms of pious pilgrims, who visit the holy sepulchre. The dervishes are now the only inhabitants of Susa; and every species of wild beast roams at large over the spot on which some of the proudest palaces ever raised by human art once stood.” - Vol. i. pp. 255, 256. For a description of the ruins of Susa, see Pict. Bib. in loc. This city was about 450 Roman miles from Seleucia, and was built, according to Pliny, 6; 27, in a square of about 120 stadia. It was the summer residence of the Persian kings (Cyrop. 8, 6, 10), as they passed the spring in Ecbatana, and the autumn and winter in Babylon. See Lengerke, in loc. It was in this city that Alexander the Great married Stateira, daughter of Darius Codomanus. The name means a lily, and was probably given to it on account of its beauty - Lengerke. Rosenmuller supposes that the vision here is represented to have appeared to Daniel in this city because it would be the future capital of Persia, and because so much of the vision pertained to Persia. See Maurer, in loc.
In the palace - This word (בירה bı̂yrâh) means a fortress, a castle, a fortified palace. - Gesenius. See Nehemiah 1:1; Esther 1:5; Esther 2:5; Esther 8:14; Esther 9:6, Esther 9:11-12. It would seem to have been given to the city because it was a fortified place. The word applied not only to the palace proper, a royal residence, but to the whole adjacent city. It is not necessary to suppose that Daniel was in the palace proper, but only that he was in the city to which the name was given.
Which is in the province of Elam - See the notes at Isaiah 11:11. This province was bounded on the east by Persia Proper, on the west by Babylonia, on the north by Media, and on the south by the Persian Gulf. It was about half as large as Persia, and not quite as large as England. - Kitto’s Cyclo. It was probably conquered by Nebuchadnezzar, and in the time of Belshazzar was subject to the Babylonian dominion, Shushan had been doubtless the capital of the kingdom of Elam while it continued a separate kingdom, and remained the capital of the province while it was under the Babylonian yoke, and until it was subdued as a part of the empire by Cyrus. It was then made one of the capitals of the united Medo-Persian empire. It was when it was the capital of a province that it was visited by Daniel, and that he saw the vision there. Possibly he may have dwelt there subsequently, and died there.
And I was by the river of Ulai - This river flowed by the city of Shushan, or Susa, and fell into the united stream of the Tigris and the Euphrates. It is called by Pliny (Nat. Hist. vi. 81) Eulaeus; but it is described by Greek writers generally under the name of Choaspes. - Herod. v. 49; Strabo, xv. p. 728. It is now known by the name Kerah, called by the Turks Karasu. It passes on the west of the ruins of Shus (Susa), and enters the Shat-ul-Arab about twenty miles below Korna. - Kinneir, Geog. Mem. of the Persian Empire, pp. 96, 97. See Kitto’s Cyclo., art. “Ulai”
Then I lifted up mine eyes and saw - And saw in vision, or there seemed to be before me.
There stood before the river - On the bank of the river.
A ram which had two horns - There can be no error in explaining the design of this symbol, for in Daniel 8:20 it is expressly said that it denoted the two kings of Media and Persia. The united power of the kingdom was denoted by the ram itself; the fact that there were two powers or kingdoms combined, by the two horns of the ram.
And the two horns were high - Both indicating great power.
But one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last - The higher horn springing up last denotes Persia, that became the more mighty power of the two, so that the name Media became finally almost dropped, and the united kingdom was known in Grecian history as the Persian The Median or Assyrian power was the older, but the Persian became the most mighty.
I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward - Denoting the conquests of the united kingdom. The east is not mentioned, for none of the conquests of the Medo-Persian empire extended in that direction: Yet nothing could better express the conquests actually made by the Medo-Persian empire than this representation. On the west the conquests embraced Babylonia, Mesopotamia, Syria, and Asia Minor; on the north, Colchis, Armenia, Iberia, and the regions around the Caspian Sea; and on the south, Palestine, Ethiopia, Egypt, and Lybia. - Lengerke. This Medo-Persian power is represented as coming from the east. Isaiah 41:2 : “who raised up the righteous man from the east, etc.” Isaiah 46:11 : “calling a ravenous bird from the east, etc.”
He did according to his will, and became great - This expresses well also the character of the Medo-Persian empire. It extended over a great part of the known world, subduing to itself a large portion of the earth. In its early conquests it met with no successful opposition, nor was it stayed until it was subdued by Greece - as at Leuctra and Marathon, and then as it was finally overthrown by Alexander the Great.
Ferretiter, celeres nec tingeret aequore plantas”
Nothing would better express the rapid conquests of Alexander the Great than the language employed by Daniel. He died at the early age of thirty-three, and having been chosen generalissimo of the Greeks against the Persians at the age of twenty-one, the whole period occupied by him in his conquests, and in his public life, was but twelve years; yet in that time he brought the world in subjection to his arms. A single glance at his rapid movements will show the propriety of the description here. In the year 334 b.c., he invaded Persia, and defeated the Persians in the battle of the Granicus; in the year 333, he again defeated them at the battle of Issus, and conquered Parthia, Bactria, Hyrcania, Sogdiana, and Asia Minor. In the year 332, he conquered Tyre and Egypt, and built Alexandria. In the year 331, he defeated Darius Codomanus, and in 330 completed the conquest of the Persian empire. In the year 328, he defeated Porus, king of India, and pursued his march to the Ganges. In these few years, therefore, he had overrun nearly all the then known world, in conquests more rapid and more decisive than had ever before been made.
And the goat had a notable horn between his eyes - The goat represented the Macedonian power, and all this power was concentrated in the person of Alexander - undoubtedly denoted by the single horn - as if all the power of Greece was concentrated in him. The margin is, a horn of sight. This corresponds with the Hebrew - the word rendered “notable” (חזוּת châzût) meaning, properly, look, appearance, and then something conspicuous or remarkable. The literal translation would be, a horn of appearance; that is, conspicuous, large - Gesenius, Lexicon
And he came to the ram ... - Representing the Medo-Persian power.
And ran unto him in the fury of his power - Representing the fierceness and fury with which Alexander attacked the Persians at the Granicus, at Issus, and at Arbela, with which he invaded and overthrew them in their own country. Nothing would better express this than to say that it was done in “the fury of power.”
And I saw him, come close unto the ram - The ram standing on the banks of the Ulai, and in the very heart of the empire. This representation is designed undoubtedly to denote that the Grecian power would attack the Persian in its own dominions. Perhaps the vision was represented at the place which would be the capital of the empire in order to denote this.
And he was moved with choler against him - (i. e., the ram).” With wrath or anger. That is, he acted as if he were furiously enraged. This is not an improper representation. Alexander, though spurred on by ambition as his ruling motive, yet might be supposed without impropriety to represent the concentrated wrath of all Greece on account of the repeated Persian invasions. It is true the Persians had been defeated at Leuctra, at Marathon, and at Salamis, that their hosts had been held in check at Thermopylae, that they had never succeeded in subduing Greece, and that the Grecians in defending their country had covered themselves with glory. But it is true, also, that the wrongs inflicted or attempted on the Greeks had never been forgotten, and it cannot be doubted that the remembrance of these wrongs was a motive that influenced many a Greek at the battle of the Granicus and Issus, and at Arbela. It would be one of most powerful motives to which Alexander could appeal in stimulating his army.
And brake his two horns - Completely prostrated his power - as Alexander did when he overthrew Darius Codemenus, and subjugated to himself the Medo-Persian empire. That empire ceased at that time, and was merged in that of the son of Philp.
And there was no power in the ram to stand before him - To resist him.
But he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him - An act strikingly expressive of the conduct of Alexander. The empire was crushed beneath his power, and, as it were, trampled to the earth.
And there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand - No auxiliaries that the Persian empire could call to its aid that could save it from the Grecian conqueror.
Therefore the he-goat waxed very great - The Macedonian power, especially under the reign of Alexander.
And when he was strong, the great horn was broken - In the time, or at the period of its greatest strength. Then an event occurred which broke the horn in which was concentrated its power. It is easy to see the application of this to the Macedonian power. At no time was the empire so strong as at the death of Alexander. Its power did not pine away; it was not enfeebled, as monarchies are often, by age, and luxury, and corruption; it was most flourishing and prosperous just at the period when broken by the death of Alexander. Never afterward did it recover its vigour; never was it consolidated again. From that time this mighty empire, broken into separate kingdoms, lost its influence in the world.
And for it came up four notable ones - In the place of this one horn in which all the power was concentrated, there sprang up four others that were distinguished and remarkable. On the word notable, see the notes at Daniel 8:5. This representation would lead us to suppose that the power which had thus been concentrated in one monarchy would be divided and distributed into four, and that instead of that one power there would be four kingdoms that would fill up about the same space in the world, occupy about the same territory, and have about the same characteristics - so that they might be regarded as the succession to the one dynasty. The same representation we have of this one power in Daniel 7:6 : “The beast had also four heads.” See also Daniel 11:4 : “His kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven.” This accords with the accounts in history of the effect of Alexander’s death, for though the kingdom was not by him divided into four parts, yet, from the confusion and conflicts that arose, the power was ultimately concentrated into four dynasties.
At his death, his brother Aridaeus was declared king in his stead, and Perdiccas regent. But the unity of the Macedonian power was gone, and disorder and confusion, and a struggle for empire, immediately succeeded. The author of the books of Maccabees (1 Macc. 1:7-9) says: “So Alexander reigned twelve years, and then died. And his servants bare rule every one in his place. And after his death, they all put crowns upon themselves; so did their sons after them many years; and evils were multiplied in the earth.” Alexander died 323 b.c.; Antipater succeeded Perdiccas, 321 b.c.; Ptolemy Lagus the same year took possession of Egypt; Cassander assumed the government of Macedon, 317 b.c.; Seleucus Nicator took possession of Syria, 311 b.c.; in 305 b.c. the successors of Alexander took the title of kings, and in 301 b.c. there occurred the battle of Ipsus, in which Antigonus, who reigned in Asia Minor, was killed, and then followed in that year a formal division of Alexander’s empire between the four victorious princes, Ptolemy, Seleucus, Cassander, and Lysimachus. This great battle of Ipsus, a city of Phrygia, was fought between Antigonus and his son Demetrius on the one side, and the combined forces of these princes on the other.
Antigonus had aimed at universal sovereignty; he had taken and plundered the island of Cyprus; had destroyed the fieet of Ptolemy Lagus, and had assumed the crown. Against him and his usurpations, Ptolemy, Cassander, and Lysimachus, combined their forces, and the result was his complete overthrow at the battle of Ipsus. - Lengerke, in loc. In this battle, Antigonus lost all his conquests and his life. In the division of the empire, Seleucus Nicator obtained Syria, Babylonia, Media, and Susiana, Armenia, a part of Cappadocia, Cilicia, and his kingdom, in name at least, extended from the Hellespont to the Indies. The kingdom of Lysimachus extended over a part of Thrace, Asia Minor, part of Cappadocia, and the countries within the limits of Mount Taurus. Cassander possessed Macedonia, Thessaly, and a part of Greece. Ptolemy obtained Egypt, Cyprus, and Cyrene, and ultimately Ccelo-Syria, Phoenicia, Judea, and a part of Asia Minor and Thrace - Lengerke, in loc.
Toward the four winds of heaven - Toward the four quarters of the world. Thus the dominions of Seleucus were in the east; these of Cassander in the west; those of Ptolemy in the south, and those of Lysimachus in the north.
The succession of the Syrian kings reigning in Antioch was continued until Syria was reduced to the form of a Roman province by Pompey, 63 b.c. Seleucus Philopater, the immediate predecessor of Antiochus, having been assassinated by one of his courtiers, his brother Antiochus hastened to occupy the vacant throne, although the natural heir, Demetrius, son of Seleucus, was yet alive, but a hostage at Rome. Antiochus assumed the name of Epiphanes, or Illustrious. In Daniel 11:21, it is intimated that he gained the kingdom by flatteries; and there can be no doubt that bribery, and the promise of reward to others, was made use of to secure his power. See Kitto’s Cyclo., i. 168-170. Of the acts of this prince there will be occasion for a fuller detail in the notes on the remainder of this chapter, and Daniel 11:0.
Toward the south - Toward the country of Egypt, etc. In the year 171 b.c., he declared war against Ptolemy Philometer, and in the year 170 he conquered Egypt, and plundered Jerusalem. 1 Macc. 1:16-19: “Now when the kingdom was established before Antiochus, he thought to reign over Egypt, that he might have the dominion of two realms. Wherefore he entered Egypt with a great multitude, with chariots, and elephants, and horsemen, and a great navy. And made war against Ptolemee king of Egypt: but Ptolemee was afraid of him, and fled; and many were wounded to death. Thus they got the strong cities in the land of Egypt, and he took the spoils thereof.”
And toward the east - Toward Persia and the countries of the East. He went there - these countries being nominally subject to him - according to the author of the book of Maccabees (1 Macc. 3:21-37), in order to replenish his exhausted treasury, that he might carry on his wars with the Jews, and that he might keep up the splendor and liberality of his court: “He saw that the money of his treasures failed, and that the tributes in the country were small, because of the dissension and plague which he had brought upon the land, and he feared that he should not be able to bear the charges any longer, nor to have such gifts to give so liberally as he did before; wherefore, being greatly perplexed in his mind, he determined to go into Persia, there to take the tributes of the countries, and to gather much money. So the king departed from Antioch, his royal city, the hundred forty and seventh year; and having passed the river Euphrates, he went through the high countries.”
And toward the pleasant land - The word used here (צבי tsebı̂y) means, properly, splendor, beauty, Isaiah 4:2; Isaiah 24:16; Isaiah 28:1, Isaiah 28:4-5. It is applied, in Isaiah 13:19, to Babylon - “the glory of kingdoms.” Here it evidently denotes the land of the Israelites, or Palestine - so often described as a land of beauty, as flowing with milk and honey, etc. This is such language as a pious Hebrew would naturally use of his own country, and especially if he was an exile from it, as Daniel was. Nothing more would be necessary to designate the land so as to be understood than such an appellation - as nothing more would be necessary to designate his country to an exile from China than to speak of “the flowery land.” Antiochus, on his return from Egypt, turned aside and invaded Judea, and ultimately robbed the temple, destroyed Jerusalem, and spread desolation through the land. See 1 Macc. 1.
And it waxed great - It became very powerful. This was eminently true of Antiochus, after having subdued Egypt, etc.
Even to the host of heaven - Margin, against. The Hebrew word (עד ‛ad) means “to” or “unto,” and the natural idea would seem to be that he wished to place himself among the stars, or to exalt himself above all that was earthly. Compare the notes at Isaiah 14:13 : “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.” Lengerke supposes that the meaning here is, that he not only carried his conquests to Egypt and to the East, and to the holy land in general, but that he made war on the holy army of God - the priests and worshippers of Jehovah, here spoken of as the host of heaven. So Maurer understands it. In 2 Macc. 9:10, Antiochus is described in this language: “And the man that thought a little afore he could reach the stars of heaven, etc.” The connection, would seem to demand the interpretation proposed by Lengerke and Maurer, for it is immediately said that he cast down some of the host and the stars to the ground. And such an interpretation accords with the language elsewhere used, of the priests and rulers of the Hebrew people. Thus, in Isaiah 24:21, they are called “the host of the high ones that are on high.” See the note at that passage. This language is by no means uncommon in the Scriptures. It is usual to compare princes and rulers, and especially ecclesiastical rulers, with the sun, moon, and stars. Undoubtedly it is the design here to describe the pride and ambition of Antiochus, and to show that he did not think anything too exalted for his aspiration. None were too high or too sacred to be secure from his attempts to overthrow them, and even those who, by their position and character, seemed to deserve to be spoken of as suns and stars, as “the host of heaven,” were not secure.
And it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground - The horn seemed to grow up to the stars, and to wrest them from their places, and to cast them to the earth. Antiochus, in the fulfillment of this, east down and trampled on the princes, and rulers, and people, of the holy host or army of God. All that is implied in this was abundantly fulfilled in what he did to the Jewish people. Compare 1 Macc. 1, and 2 Macc. 8:2.
And stamped upon them - With indignation and contempt. Nothing could better express the conduct of Antiochus toward the Jews.
Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host - Grotius, Ephraem the Syrian, and others, understand this of Onias the high priest, as the chief officer of the holy people. Lengerke supposes that it means God himself. This interpretation is the more probable; and the idea in the phrase “prince of the host” is, that as God is the ruler of the host of heaven - leading on the constellations, and marshalling the stars, so he may be regarded as the ruler of the holy army here below - the ministers of religion, and his people. Against him as the Ruler and Leader of his people Antiochus exalted himself, particularly by attempting to change his laws, and to cause his worship to cease.
And by him - Margin, “from him.” The meaning is, that the command or authority to do this proceeded from him.
The daily sacrifice was taken away - The sacrifice that was offered daily in the temple, morning and evening, was suspended. A full account of this may be found in 1 Macc. 1:20-24, 29-32, 44-50. In the execution of the purposes of Antiochus, he “entered the sanctuary, and took away the golden altar, and the candlestick, and all the vessels thereof; and the table of showbread, the pouring vessels, etc., and stripped the temple of all the ornaments of gold.” After two years he again visited the city, and “smote it very sore, and destroyed much people of Israel, and when he had taken the spoils of the city he set it on fire, and pulled down the walls thereof on every side.” Everything in Jerusalem was made desolate. Her sanctuary was laid waste like a wilderness, her feasts were turned into mourning, her sabbaths into reproach, her honor into contempt.” Subsequently, by a solemn edict, and by more decisive acts, he put a period to the worship of God in the temple, and polluted and defiled every part of it. “For the king had sent letters by messengers unto Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, that they should follow the strange laws of the land, and forbid burnt-offerings, and sacrifices, and drink-offerings in the temple; and that they should profane the sabbaths and festival days, and pollute the sanctuary and holy people; set up altars, and groves, and chapels of idols, and sacrifice swine’s flesh, and unclean beasts; that they should also leave their children uncir. cumcised, and make their souls abominable with all manner of uncleanness and profanation; to the end they might forget the laws, and change all the ordinances,” 1 Macc. 1:44-49.
It was undoubtedly to these acts of Antiochus that the passage before us refers, and the event accords with the words of the prediction as clearly as if what is a prediction had been written afterward, and had been designed to represent what actually occurred as a matter of historical record. The word which is rendered “daily sacrifice” - the word “sacrifice” being supplied by the translators - תמיד tâmı̂yd - means, properly, continuance, prepetuity, and then what is continuous or constant - as a sacrifice or service daily occurring. The word sacrifice is properly inserted here. - Gesenius, Lexicon The meaning of the word rendered “was taken away” - הרם huram (Hophal from רום rûm - to exalt, to lift up) - here is, that it was lifted up, and then was taken away; that is, it was made to cease - as if it had been carried away. - Gesenius.
And the place of his sanctuary - Of the sanctuary or holy place of the, “Prince of the host,” that is, of God. The reference is to the temple.
Was cast down - The temple was not entirely destroyed by Antiochus, but it was robbed and rifled, and its holy vessels were carried away. The walls indeed remained, but it was desolate, and the whole service then was abandoned. See the passages quoted above from 1 Macc.
And a host was given him - The Vulgate renders this, “and strength - robur - was given him, etc.” Theodotion, “and sin was permitted - ἐδόθη edothē - against the sacrifice; and this righteousness was cast on the ground; so he acted and was prospered.” Luther renders it, “and such might (or power, macht) was given him.” The Syriac renders it, “and strength was given him, etc.” Bertholdt renders it, Statt jenes stellte man den Greuel auf, “instead of this (the temple) there was set up an abomination.” Dathe, “and the stars were delivered to him” - tradita ei fuerunt astra, seu populus Judaicus. Maurer understands it also of the Jewish people, and interprets it, “and an army - exercitus - the people of the Jews was delivered to destruction, at the same time with the perpetual sacrifice, on account of wickedness, that is, for a wicked thing, or for impure sacrifices.” Lengerke renders it, as in our translation, “an host - ein Heer - was Wen up to him at the same time with the daily offering, on account of evil.” The word “host” (צבא tsâbâ') is doubtless to be taken here in the same sense as in Daniel 8:10, where it is connected with heaven - “the host of heaven.” If it refers there to the Jewish people, it doubtless does here, and the appellation is such a one as would not unnaturally be used. It is equivalent to saying “the army of the Lord,” or “the people of the Lord,” and it should have been rendered here “and the host was given up to him;” that is, the people of God, or the holy people were given into his hands.
Against the daily sacrifice - This does not convey any clear idea. Lengerke renders it, sammt den bestandigen opfer - “at the same time with the permanent sacrifice.” He remarks that the preposition על ‛al (rendered in our version against), like the Greek ἐπὶ epi, may denote a connection with anything, or a being with a thing - Zusammenseyn - and thus it would denote a union of time, or that the things occurred together, Genesis 32:11 (12); Hosea 10:14; Amos 3:15. Compare Gesenius (Lexicon) on the word על ‛al, 3. According to this, the meaning is, that the “host,” or the Jewish people, were given to him at the same time, or in connection with the daily sacrifice. The conquest over the people, and the command respecting the daily sacrifice, were simultaneous. Both passed into his hands, and he exercised jurisdiction over them both.
By reason of transgression - - בפשׁע beppâsha‛. That is, all this was on account of the transgression of the people, or on account of abounding iniquity. God gave up the people, and their temple, and their sacrifices, into the hands of Antiochus, on account of the prevailing impiety. Compare 1 Macc. 1:11-16. The author of that book traces all these calamities to the acts of certain wicked men, who obtained permission of Antiochus to introduce pagan customs into Jerusalem, and who actually established many of those customs there.
And it cast down the truth to the ground - The true system of religion, or the true method of worshipping God - represented here as truth in the abstract. So in Isaiah 59:14, it is said: “Truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.” The meaning here is, that the institutions of the true religion would be utterly prostrate. This was fully accomplished by Antiochus. See 1 Macc. 1.
And it practiced - Hebrew. “it did,” or it acted. That is, it undertook a work, and was successful. So in Psalms 1:3, where the same expression occurs: “And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” This was fully accomplished in Antiochus, who was entirely successful in all his enterprises against Jerusalem. See 1 Macc. 1.
Then I heard one saint speaking - One holy one. The vision was now ended, and the prophet represents himself now as hearing earnest inquiries as to the length of time during which this desolation was to continue. This conversation, or these inquiries, he represents himself as hearing among those whom he calls “saints” - or holy ones - קדשׁ qâdôsh. This word might refer to a saint on earth, or to an angel - to any holy being. As one of these, however, was able to explain the vision, and to tell how long the desolation was to continue, it is more natural to refer it to angels. So Lengerke understands it. The representation is, that one holy one, or angel, was heard by Daniel speaking on this subject, but nothing is recorded of what he said. It is implied only that he was conversing about the desolations that were to come upon the holy city and the people of God. To him thus speaking, and who is introduced as having power to explain it, another holy one approaches, and asks how long this state of things was to continue. The answer to this question Daniel 8:14 is made, not to the one who made the inquiry, but to Daniel, evidently that it might be recorded. Daniel does not say where this vision occurred - whether in heaven or on earth. It was so near to him, however, that he could hear what was said.
And another saint - Another holy one - probably an angel. If so, we may conclude, what is in itself every way probable, that one angel has more knowledge than another, or that things are communicated to some which are not to others.
Unto that certain saint which spake - Margin, Palmoni, or, the numberer of secrets, or, the wondeful numberer. The Hebrew word, פלמוני palemônı̂y, occurs nowhere else in the Scriptures. The similar form, פלני pelonı̂y, occurs in Ruth 4:1, “Ho, such a one, turn aside;” in 1 Samuel 21:2, “appointed my servants to such and such a place;” and 2 Kings 6:8, “In such and such a place.” The Italic words denote the corresponding Hebrew word. The word, according to Gesenius, means some one, a certain one; in Arabic, one who is distinct or definite, whom one points out as with the finger, and not by name. It is derived from an obsolete noun, פלון pâlôn, from the verb פלה pâlâh, to distinguish, and is united commonly with the word אלמני 'alemonı̂y - meaning, properly, one concealed or unknown. It is language, therefore, which would be properly addressed to an unknown person with whom we would desire to speak, or whom we would designate by the finger, or in some such way, without being able to call the name. Thus applied in the passage here, it means that Daniel did not know the names of the persons thus speaking, but simply saw that one was speaking to another. He had no other way of designating or distinguishing them than by applying a term which was commonly used of a stranger when one wished to address him, or to point him out, or to call him to him. There is no foundation in the word for the meaning suggested in the margin. Theodotion does not attempt to translate the word, but retains it - φελμουνὶ phelmouni - Phelmouni. The Latin Vulgate well expresses the meaning, dixit unus sanctus alteri nescio loquenti. The full sense is undoubtedly conveyed by the two ideas,
(a) that the one referred to was unknown by name, and
(b) that he wished to designate him in some way, or to point him out.
How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice? - How long is what is designed to be represented by the vision to continue; that is, how long in fact will the offering of the daily sacrifice in the temple be suspended?
And the transgression of desolation - Margin, making desolate. That is, the act of iniquity on the part of Antiochus producing such desolation in the holy city and the temple - show long is that to continue?
To give both the sanctuary - The temple; the holy place where God dwelt by a visible symbol, and where he was worshipped.
And the host - The people of God - the Jewish people.
To be trodden under foot - To be utterly despised and prostrated - as anything which is trodden under our feet.
And he said unto me - Instead of answering the one who made the inquiry, the answer is made to Daniel, doubtless that he might make a record of it, or communicate it to others. If it had been made to the inquirer, the answer would have remained with him, and could have been of no use to the world. For the encouragement, however, of the Hebrew people, when their sanctuary and city would be thus desolate, and in order to furnish an instance of the clear fulfillment of a prediction, it was important that it should be recorded, and hence, it was made to Daniel.
Unto two thousand and three hundred days - Margin, evening, morning. So the Hebrew, בקר ערב ‛ereb boqer. So the Latin Vulgate, ad vesperam et mane. And so Theodotion - ἔως ἑσπέρας καὶ πρωΐ̀ heōs hesperas kai prōi - “to the evening and morning.” The language here is evidently what was derived from Gen. i., or which was common among the Hebrews, to speak of the “evening and the morning” as constituting a day. There can be no doubt, however, that a day is intended by this, for this is the fair and obvious interpretation. The Greeks were accustomed to denote the period of a day in the same manner by the word νυχθήμερον nuchthēmeron (see 2 Corinthians 11:25), in order more emphatically to designate one complete day. See Prof. Stuart’s Hints on Prophecy, pp. 99, 100. The time then specified by this would be six years and a hundred and ten days.
Much difficulty has been felt by expositors in reconciling this statement with the other designations of time in the book of Daniel, supposed to refer to the same event, and with the account furnished by Josephus in regard to the period which elapsed during which the sanctuary was desolate, and the daily sacrifice suspended. The other designations of time which have been supposed to refer to the same event in Daniel, are Daniel 7:25, where the time mentioned is three years and a half, or twelve hundred and sixty days; and Daniel 12:7, where the same time is mentioned, “a time, times, and an half,” or three years and an half, or, as before, twelve hundred and sixty days; and Daniel 12:11, where the period mentioned is “a thousand two hundred and ninety days;” and Daniel 12:12, where the time mentioned is “a thousand three hundred and thirty-five days.” The time mentioned by Josephus is three years exactly from the time when “their Divine worship was fallen off, and was reduced to a profane and common use,” until the time when the lamps were lighted again, and the worship restored, for he says that the one event happened precisely three years after the other, on the same day of the month - Ant. b. xii. ch. vii. Section 6. In his Jewish Wars, however, b. i. ch. i. Section 1, he says that Antiochus “spoiled the temple, and put a stop to the constant practice of offering a daily sacrifice of expiation for three years and six months.” Now, in order to explain the passage before us, and to reconcile the accounts, or to show that there is no contradiction between them, the following remarks may be made:
(1) We may lay out of view the passage in Daniel 7:25. See the note at that passage. If the reasoning there be sound, then that passage had no reference to Antiochus, and though, according to Josephus, there is a remarkable coincidence between the time mentioned there and the time during which the daily sacrifice was suspended, yet that does not demonstrate that the reference there is to Antiochus.
(2) We may lay out of view, also, for the present, the passages in Daniel 12:11-12. Those will be the subject of consideration hereafter, and for the present ought not to be allowed to embarrass us in ascertaining the meaning of the passage before us.
(3) On the assumption, however, that those passages refer to Antiochus, and that the accounts in Josephus above referred to are correct - though he mentions different times, and though different periods are referred to by Daniel, the variety may be accounted for by the supposition that separate epochs are referred to at the starting point in the calculation - the terminus a quo. The truth was, there were several decisive acts in the history of Antiochus that led to the ultimate desolation of Jerusalem, and at one time a writer may have contemplated one, and at another time another. Thus, there was the act by which Jason, made high priest by Antiochus, was permitted to set up a gymnasium in Jerusalem after the manner of the pagan (Prideaux, iii. 216; 1 Macc. 1:11-15); the act by which he assaulted and took Jerusalem, entering the most holy place, stripping the temple of its treasures, defiling the temple, and offering a great sow on the altar of burnt-offerings (Prideaux, iii. 230, 231; 1 Macc. 1:20-28); the act, just two years after this, by which, having been defeated in his expedition to Egypt, he resolved to vent all his wrath on the Jews, and, on his return, sent Apollonius with a great army to ravage and destroy Jerusalem - when Apollonius, having plundered the city, set it on fire, demolished the houses, pulled down the walls, and with the ruins of the demolished city built a strong fortress on Mount Acra, which overlooked the temple, and from which he could attack all who went to the temple to worship (Prideaux, iii. 239, 240; 1 Macc. 1:29-40); and the act by which Antiochus solemnly forbade all burnt-offerings, and sacrifices, and drink-offerings in the temple - (Prideaux, iii. 241, 242; 1 Macc. 1:44-51). Now, it is evident that one writing of these calamitous events, and mentioning how long they would continue, might at one time contemplate one of these events as the beginning, the terminus a quo, and at another time, another of these events might be in his eye. Each one of them was a strongly marked and decisive event, and each one might be contemplated as a period which, in an important sense, determined the destiny of the city, and put an end to the worship of God there.
(4) It seems probable that the time mentioned in the passage before us is designed to take in the whole series of disastrous events, from the first decisive act which led to the suspending of the daily sacrifice, or the termination of the worship of God there, to the time when the “sanctuary was cleansed.” That this is so would seem to be probable from the series of visions presented to Daniel in the chapter before us. The acts of the “little horn” representing Antiochus, as seen in vision, began with his attack on the “pleasant land” Daniel 8:9, and the things which attracted the attention of Daniel were, that he “waxed great,” and made war on “the host of heaven,” and “cast some of the host and of the stars to the ground” Daniel 8:10, and “magnified himself against the prince of the host” Daniel 8:11 - acts which refer manifestly to his attack on the people of God, and the priests or ministers of religion, and on God him. self as the “prince of the host” - unless this phrase should be understood as referring rather to the high priest. We are then rather to look to the whole series of events as included within the two thousand and three hundred days, than the period in which literally the daily sacrifice was forbidden by a solemn statute. It was practically suspended, and the worship of God interrupted during all that time.
(5) The terminus ad quem - the conclusion of the period is marked and settled. This was the “cleansing of the sanctuary.” This took place, under Judas Maccabeus, Dec. 25, 165 b.c. - Prideaux, iii. 265-268. Now, reckoning back from this period, two thousand and three hundred days, we come to August 5, 171 b.c. The question is, whether there were in this year, and at about this time, any events in the series of sufficient importance to constitute a period from which to reckon; events answering to what Daniel saw as the commencement of the vision, when “some of the host and the stars were cast down and stamped upon.” Now, as a matter of fact, there commenced in the year 171 b.c. a series of aggressions upon the priesthood, and temple, and city of the Jews on the part of Antiochus, which terminated only with his death. Up to this year, the relations of Antiochus and the Jewish people were peaceful and cordial.
In the year 175 b.c. he granted to the Jewish people, who desired it, permission to erect a gymnasium in Jerusalem, as above stated. In the year 173 b.c. demand was made of Antiochus of the provinces of Ccelo-Syria and Palestine by the young Philometor of Egypt, who had just come to the throne, and by his mother - a demand which was the origin of the war between Antiochus and the king of Egypt, and the beginning of all the disturbances. - Prideaux, iii. 218. In the year 172 b.c., Antiochus bestowed the office of high priest on Menelaus, who was the brother of Jason the high priest. Jason had sent Menelaus to Antioch to pay the king his tribute-money, and while there Menelaus conceived the design of supplanting his brother, and by offering for it more than Jason had, he procured the appointment and returned to Jerusalem. - Prideaux, iii. 220-222. Up to this time all the intercourse of Antiochus with the Jews had been of a peaceful character, and nothing of a hostile nature had occurred.
In 171 b.c. began the series of events which finally resulted in the invasion and destruction of the city, and in the cessation of the public worship of God. Menelaus, having procured the high priesthood, refused to pay the tribute-money which he had promised for it, and was summoned to Antioch. Antioclius being then absent, Menelaus took advantage of his absence, and having, by means of Lysimachus, whom he had left at Jerusalem, procured the vessels out of the temple, He sold them at Tyre, and thus raised money to pay the king. In the meantime, Onias III, the lawful high priest, who had fled to Antioch, sternly rebuked Menelaus for his sacrilege, and soon after, at the instigation of Menelaus, was allured from his retreat at Daphne, where he had sought an asylum, and was murdered by Andronicus, the vicegerent of Antiochus. At the same time, the Jews in Jerusalem, highly indignant at the profanation by Menelaus, and the sacrilege in robbing the temple, rose in rebellion against Lysimachus and the Syrian forces who defended him, and both cut off this “sacrilegious robber” (Prideaux), and the guards by whom he was surrounded.
This would leave but twenty-nine days of the 2300 to be accounted for, and this would be required to go from the place of the battle - between Beth-Horon and Adasa (1 Macc. 7:39, 40) to Jerusalem, and to make arrangements to celebrate the victory. See Bertholdt, pp. 501-503. The reckoning here is from the time of founding the kingdom of the Seleucidae, or the era of the Seleucidae.
Then shall the sanctuary be cleansed - Margin, justified. the Hebrew word (צדק tsâdaq) means, to be right or straight, and then to be just or righteous; then to vindicate or justify. In the form used here (Niphal), it means to be declared just; to be justified or vindicated, and, as applied to the temple or sanctuary, to be vindicated from violence or injury; that is, to be cleansed. See Gesenius, Lexicon There is undoubtedly reference here to the act of Judas Maccabeus, in solemnly purifying the temple, and repairing it, and re-dedicating it, after the pollutions brought upon it by Antiochus. For a description of this, see Prideaux’s Connexions, iii. 265-269. Judas designated a priesthood again to serve in the temple; pulled down the altars which the pagan had erected; bore out all the defiled stones into an unclean place; built a new altar in place of the old altar of burnt-offerings which they had defiled; hallowed the courts; made a new altar of incense, table of showbread, golden candlestick, etc., and solemnly re-consecrated the whole to the service of God. This act occurred on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month (Kisleu), and the solemnity continued for eight days. This is the festival which is called “the feast of dedication” in the New Testament John 10:22, and which our Saviour honored with his presence. See 1 Macc. 4:41-58; 2 Macc. 10:1-7; Josephus, Ant. b. xii. ch. vii. Section 6, 7.
And it came to pass ... - Daniel saw the vision, but was unable to explain it.
And sought for the meaning - Evidently by meditating on it, or endeavoring in his own mind to make it out.
There stood before me as the appearance of a man - One having the appearance of a man. This was evidently Gabriel Daniel 8:16, who now assumed a human form, and who was addressed by the voice from between the banks of the Ulai, and commenced to make known the meaning of the vision.
And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of Ulai - See the notes at Daniel 8:2. The voice seemed to come from the river, as if it were that of the Genius of the river, and to address Gabriel, who stood near to Daniel on the shore. This was doubtless the voice of God. The speaker was invisible, and this method of explaining the vision was adopted, probably to make the whole scene more impressive.
Which called, and said, Gabriel - Gabriel is mentioned in the Scriptures only in Daniel 8:16; Daniel 9:21; Luke 1:19, Luke 1:26. In Luke 1:19, he is mentioned as saying of himself, “I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God.” The word means, properly, “man of God.” Nothing more is known of him, and he is mentioned only as bearing messages to Daniel, to Zacharias the father of John the Baptist, and to Mary.
Make this man to understand the vision - Explain it to him so that he will under stand its meaning.
So he came near where I stood - He had seen him, evidently, at first in the distance. He now drew near to Daniel, that he might communicate with him the more readily.
And when, he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face - Doubtless perceiving that he was a celestial being. See the notes at Revelation 1:17. Compare Ezekiel 1:28, and Daniel 10:8-9. He was completely overpowered by the presence of the celestial stranger, and sank to the ground.
But he said unto me, Understand, O son of man - Give attention, that you may understand the vision. On the phrase “son of man,” see the notes at Daniel 7:13. It is here simply an address to him as a man.
For at the time of the end shall be the vision - The design of this expression is undoubtedly to cheer and comfort the prophet with some assurance of what was to occur in future times. In what way this was done, or what was the precise idea indicated by these words, interpreters have not been agreed. Maurer explains it, “for this vision looks to the last time; that is, the time which would immediately precede the coming of the Messiah, which would be a time of calamity, in which the guilt of the wicked would be punished, and the virtue of the saints would be tried, to wit, the time of Antiochus Epiphanes.” Lengerke supposes that the end of the existing calamities - the sufferings of the Jews - is referred to; and that the meaning is, that in the time of the Messiah, to which the vision is extended, there would be an end of their sufferings and trials. The design of the angel, says he, is to support and comfort the troubled seer, as if he should not be anxious that these troubles were to occur, since they would have an end, or, as Michaelis observes, that the seer should not suppose that the calamities indicated by the vision would have no end.
Perhaps the meaning may be this: “The vision is for the time of the end;” that is, it has respect to the closing period of the world, under which the Messiah is to come, and necessarily precedes that, and leads on to that. It pertains to a series of events which are to introduce the latter times, when the kingdom of God shall be set up on the earth. In justification of this view of the passage, it may be remarked that this is not only the most obvious view, but is sustained by all those passages which speak of the coming of the Messiah as “the end,” the “last days,” etc. Thus 1 Corinthians 10:11 : “upon whom the ends of the world are come.” Compare the notes at Isaiah 2:2. According to this interpretation, the meaning is, “the vision pertains to the end, or the closing dispensation of things;” that is, it has a bearing on the period when the end will come, or will introduce that period. It looks on to future times, even to those times, though now remote (compare Daniel 8:26), when a new order of things will exist, under which the affairs of the world will be wound up. Compare the notes at Hebrews 1:2.
Now, as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground - Overcome and prostrate with the vision. That is, he had sunk down stupified or senseless. See Daniel 10:9. His strength had been entirely taken away by the vision. There is nothing improbable in this, that the sudden appearance of a celestial vision, or a heavenly being, should take away the strength. Compare Genesis 15:12; Job 4:13, following; Judges 6:22; Judges 13:20, Judges 13:22; Isaiah 6:5; Luke 1:12, Luke 1:29; Luke 2:9; Acts 9:3, Acts 9:8. “But he touched me, and set me upright.” Margin, as in Hebrew, “made me stand upon my standing.” He raised me up on my feet. So the Saviour addressed Saul of Tarsus, when he had been suddenly smitten to the earth, by his appearing to him on the way to Damascus: “Rise, and stand upon thy feet,” etc., Acts 26:16.
And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation - In the future time when the Divine indignation shall be manifest toward the Hebrew people; to wit, by suffering the evils to come upon them which Antiochus would inflict. It is everywhere represented that these calamities would occur as a proof of the Divine displeasure on account of their sins. Compare Daniel 9:24; Daniel 11:35; Daniel 2:0 Macc. 7:33.
For at the time appointed the end shall be - It shall not always continue. There is a definite period marked out in the Divine purpose, and when that period shall arrive, the end of all this will take place. See the notes at Daniel 8:17.
The ram which thou sawest ... - See the notes at Daniel 8:3. This is one of the instances in the Scriptures in which symbols are explained. There can be no doubt, therefore, as to the meaning.
And the rough goat - See the notes at Daniel 8:5. In Daniel 8:5 he is called a he-goat. Here the word rough or hairy - שׂעיר s'â‛ı̂yr - is applied to it. This appellation is often given to a goat Leviticus 4:24; Leviticus 16:9; Genesis 37:31. It would seem that either term - a he-goat, or a hairy-goat - would serve to designate the animal, and it is probable that the terms were used indiscriminately.
Is the king of Grecia - Represents the king of Greece. The word here rendered Grecia (יון yâvân) denotes usually and properly Ionia, the western part of Asia Minor; but this name was extended so as to embrace the whole of Greece. See Aristoph. Acharn. 504, ibique Schol.; AEschyl. Pers. 176, 561; Gesenius, Lexicon Latin Vulgate and Theodotion, here render it “the king of the Grecians,” and there can be no doubt that the royal power among the Greeks is here referred to. See the notes at Daniel 8:5.
And the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king - Alexander the Great. The first that consolidated the whole power, and that was known in the East as the king of Greece. So he is expressly called in 1 Macc. 1:1: “The first over Greece.” Philip, his father, was opposed in his attempts to conquer Greece, and was defeated. Alexander invaded Greece, burned Thebes, compelled the Athenians to submit, and was declared generalissimo of the Grecian forces against the Persians.
Now that being broken - By the death of Alexander.
Whereas four stood up for it - Stood up in its place.
Four kingdoms shall stand up - Ultimately. It is not necessary to suppose that this would be immediately. If four such should in fact spring out of this one kingdom, all that implied in the prophecy would be fulfilled. On the fulfillment of this, see the notes at Daniel 8:8.
But not in his power - No one of these four dynasties had at any time the power which was wielded by Alexander the Great.
And in the latter time of their kingdom - When it shall be drawing to an end. All these powers were ultimately absorbed in the Roman power; and the meaning here is, that taking the time from the period of their formation - the division of the empire after the battle of Ipsus (see the notes at Daniel 8:8), until the time when all would be swallowed up in the Roman dominion, what is here stated - to wit, the rise of Antiochus - would be in the latter portion of that period. The battle of Ipsus was fought 301 b.c., and the Roman power was extended over all those regions gradually from 168 b.c. - the battle of Pydna, when Perseus was defeated, and Macedonia was reduced to a Roman province, to 30 b.c., when Egypt was subjected - the last of these kingdoms that submitted to the Roman arms. Antiochus began to reign, 175 b.c. - so that it was in the latter part of this period.
When the transgressors are come to the full - Margin, accomplished. That is, when the state of things - the prevalence of wickedness and irreligion in Judea - shall have been allowed to continue as long as it can be - or so that the cup shall be full - then shall appear this formidable power to inflict deserved punishment on the guilty nation. The sacred writers often speak of iniquity as being full - of the cup of iniquity as being full - as if there was a certain limit or capacity beyond which it could not be allowed to go. When that arrives, God interposes, and cuts off the guilty by some heavy judgment. Compare Genesis 15:16 : “The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” Matthew 23:32 : “fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.” 1 Thessalonians 2:16 : “to fill up their sins alway.” The idea is, that there is a certain measure or amount of sin which can be tolerated, but beyond that the Divine compassion cannot go with safety to the universe, or consistently with the honor of God, and then the punishment may be expected; then punishment must come. This is true, doubtless, of individuals and nations, and this period had arrived in regard to the Jews when Antiochus was permitted to lay their temple, city, and country waste.
A king of fierce countenance - Stern and severe. This expression would be applicable to many who have held the kingly office, and no one can doubt that it may be applied with strict propriety to Antiochus.
And understanding dark sentences - Gesenius (Lexicon) explains the word here rendered “dark sentences” to mean artifice, trick, stratagem. This will better agree with the character of Antiochus, who was more distinguished for craft and policy than he was for wisdom, or for explaining enigmas. The meaning seems to be that he would be politic and crafty, seeking to make his way, and to accomplish his purpose, not only by the terror that he inspired, but by deceit and cunning. That this was his character is well known. Compare the notes at Daniel 8:25.
Shall stand up - Shall succeed, or there shall be such a king.
And his power shall be mighty - He shall be a powerful monarch. Though not as mighty as Alexander, yet his conquests of Egypt and other places show that he deserved to be numbered among the mighty kings of the earth.
But not by his own power - That is, it shall not be by any strength of his own, but by the power which God gives him. This is true of all kings and princes (compare John 19:11; Isaiah 10:5, following), but it seems to be referred to here particularly to show that the calamities which he was about to bring upon the Hebrew people were by Divine direction and appointment. This great power was given him in order that he might be an instrument in the Divine hand of inflicting deserved punishment on them for their sins.
And he shall destroy wonderfully - In a wonderful or extraordinary manner shall he spread desolation. This refers particularly to the manner in which he would lay waste the holy city, and the land of Judea. The history in the books of Maccabees shows that this was literally fulfilled.
And shall prosper - Antiochus was among the most successful kings in his various expeditions. Particularly was he successful in his enterprises against the holy land.
And practice - Hebrew, “do.” That is, he shall be distinguished not only for “forming” plans, but for “executing” them; not merely for “purposing,” but for “doing.”
And shall destroy the mighty and the holy people - The people of God - the Jewish nation. See the notes at Daniel 8:9-12.
And through his policy - The word rendered “policy” here (שׂכל s'êkel) means, properly, intelligence, understanding, wisdom; and then, in a bad sense, craft, cunning. So it is rendered here by Gesenius, and the meaning is, that he would owe his success in a great measure to craft and subtilty.
He shall cause craft to prosper in his hand - He shall owe his success in a great measure to a crafty policy, to intrigue, and to cunning. This was true in an eminent sense, of Antiochus. See his history in Prideaux, above referred to, and the books of Maccabees. Compare the notes at Daniel 11:21. The same character is given of him by Polybius, “Relig.” lib. xxi. c. 5, tom. iv. p. 501, ed. Schweighauser; Appian, “de reb. Syr.” xlv. t. 1, p. 604, ed. Schweigh. Compare 2 Macc. 5:24-26. He came to the kingdom by deceit (Prideaux, iii. 212), and a great part of his success was owing to craft and policy.
And he shall magnify himself in his heart - Shall be lifted up with pride, or esteem himself of great consequence.
And by peace shall destroy many - Margin, “prosperity.” The Hebrew word (שׁלוה shalevâh) means, properly, tranquility, security, ease, carelessness. Here the phrase seems to mean “in the midst of security” (Gesenius, Lexicon); that is, while they were at ease, and regarded themselves as in a state of safety, he would come suddenly and unexpectedly upon them, and destroy them. He would make sudden war on them, invading their territories, so that they would have no opportunity to make preparation to meet him. Compare Daniel 11:21, Daniel 11:24. It would seem to mean that he would endeavor to produce the impression that he was coming in peace; that he pretended friendship, and designed to keep those whom he meant to invade and destroy in a state of false security, so that he might descend upon them unawares. This was his policy rather than to declare war openly, and so give his enemies fair warning of what he intended to do. This description agrees every way with the character of Antiochus, a leading part of whose policy always was to preserve the appearance of friendship, that he might accomplish his purpose while his enemies were off their guard.
He shall also stand up against the Prince of princes - Notes, Daniel 8:11. Against God, the ruler over the kings of the earth.
But he shall be broken without hand - That is, without the hand of man, or by no visible cause. He shall be overcome by Divine, invisible power. According to the author of the first book of Maccabees (1 Macc. 6:8-16), he died of grief and remorse in Babylon. He was on an expedition to Persia, and there laid siege to Elymais, and was defeated, and fled to Babylon, when, learning that his forces in Palestine had been repulsed, penetrated with grief and remorse, he sickened and died. According to the account in the second book of Maccabees (2 Macc. 9), his death was most distressing and horrible. Compare Prideaux, iii. 272-275. All the statements given of his death, by the authors of the books of Maccabees, by Josephus, by Polybius, by Q. Curtius, and by Arrian (see the quotations in Prideaux), agree in representing it as attended with every circumstance of horror that can be well supposed to accompany a departure from this world, and as having every mark of the just judgment of God. The Divine prediction in Daniel was fully accomplished, that his death would be “without hand,” in the sense that it would not be by human instrumentality; but that it would be by a direct Divine infliction. When Antiochus died, the opposition to the Jews ceased, and their land again had peace and rest.
And the vision of the evening and the morning - That is, of the two thousand three hundred days. See Daniel 8:14, and the margin on that verse. The meaning here is, “the vision pertaining to that succession of evenings and mornings.” Perhaps this appellation was given to it particularly because it pertained so much to the evening and morning sacrifice.
Is true - Shall be certainly accomplished. This was said by the angel, giving thus to Daniel the assurance that what he had seen Daniel 8:9-14 was no illusion, but would certainly come to pass.
Wherefore shut thou up the visions - Seal it up. Make a record of it, that it may be preserved, and that its fulfillment may be marked. See the notes at Isaiah 8:16.
For it shall be for many days - That is, many days will elapse before it will be accomplished. Let a fair record, therefore, be made of it, and let it be sealed up, that it may be preserved to prepare the people for these events. “When” these things would come thus fearfully upon the people of Judea, they would be the better able to bear these trials, knowing the period when they would terminate.
And I Daniel fainted - Hebrew, “I was “ - נהייתי nı̂heyēythı̂y. Compare Daniel 2:1. The meaning, according to Gesenius (“Lexicon”), is, “I was done up, and was sick:” - I was done over, etc. Perhaps the “reason” of his using this verb here is, that he represents himself as “having been sick,” and then as fainting away, as if his life had departed. The Latin Vulgate renders it langui. Theodotion, ἐκοιμήθην ekoimēthēn - “ was laid in my bed.” The general idea is plain, that he was overcome and prostrate at the effect of the vision. He had been permitted to look into the future, and the scenes were so appalling - the changes that were to occur were so great - the calamities were so fearful in their character - and, above all, his mind was so affected that the daily sacrifice was to cease, and the worship of God be suspended, that he was entirely overcome. And who of us, probably, could “bear” a revelation of what is to occur hereafter? Where is there strength that could endure the disclosure of what may happen even in a few years?
And was sick certain days - The exact time is not specified. The natural interpretation is, that it was for a considerable period.
Afterward I rose up, and did the king’s business - Compare the notes at Daniel 8:2. From this it would appear that he had been sent to Shushan on some business pertaining to the government. What it was we are not informed. As a matter of fact, he was sent there for a more important purpose than any which pertained to the government at Babylon - to receive disclosure of most momentous events that were to occur in distant times. Yet this did not prevent him from attending faithfully to the business entrusted to him - as no views which we take of heavenly things, and no disclosures made to our souls, and no absorption in the duties and enjoyments of religion, should prevent us from attending with fidelity to whatever secular duties may be entrusted to us. Sickness justifies us, of course, in not attending to them; the highest views which we may have of God and of religious truth should only make us more faithful in the discharge of our duties to our fellow-men, to our country, and in all the relations of life. He who has been favored with the clearest views of Divine things will be none the less prepared to discharge with faithfulness the duties of this life; he who is permitted and enabled to look far into the future will be none the less likely to be diligent, faithful, and laborious in meeting the responsibilites of the present moment. If a man could see all that there is in heaven, it would only serve to impress him with a deeper conviction of his obligations in every relation; if he could see all that there is to come in the vast eternity before him, it would only impress him with a profounder sense of the consequences which may follow from the discharge of the present duty.
And I was astonished at the vision - He was stupified - he was overcome - at the splendid appearance, and the momentous nature of the disclosures. Compare the notes at Daniel 4:19.
But none understood it - It would seem probable from this, that he communicated it to others, but no one was able to explain it. Its general features were plain, but no one could follow out the details, and tell “precisely” what would occur, before the vision was fulfilled. This is the general nature of prophecy; and if neither Daniel nor any of his friends could explain this vision in detail, are we to hope that we shall be successful in disclosing the full meaning of those which are not yet fulfilled? The truth is, that in all such revelations of the future, there must be much in detail which is not now fully understood. The general features may be plain - as, in this case, it was clear that a mighty king would rise; that he would be a tyrant; that he would oppress the people of God; that he would invade the holy land; that he would for a time put a period to the offering of the daily sacrifice; and that this would continue for a definite period; and that then he would be cut off without human instrumentality: but who from this would have been able to draw out, in detail, all the events which in fact occurred? Who could have told precisely how these things would come to pass? Who could have ventured on a biography of Antiochus Epiphanes? Yet these three things are true in regard to this:
(1) That no one by human sagacity could have foreseen these events so as to have been able to furnish these sketches of what was to be;
(2) That these were sufficient to apprise those who were interested particularly of what would occur; and
(3) That when these events occurred, it was plain to all persons that the prophecy had reference to them.
So plain is this - so clear is the application of the predictions in this book, that Porphyry maintained that it was written after the events had occurred, and that the book must have been forged.