« AnteriorContinuar »
Ver. 7: "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; and 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," explained thus ver. 23: "The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces." Ver. 7: "And it had ten horns," explained in ver. 24: "And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise."
The kingdom of Macedonia, or of the Greeks. Alexander is thus described, chap. xi. 3: "And a mighty king shall stand up, and shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will." And thus, chap. viii. 7: "And there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down on the ground, and stamped upon him, and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand." And thus, 1 Macc. ii: "He reigned the first over Greece, and made many wars, and won many strong holds, and slew the kings of the earth, and went through to the ends of the earth, and took spoils of many nations, insomuch that the earth was quiet before him."
1 Macc. i. 8, 9: "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."
Within a year after the death of Alexander, the following generals obtained shares of his dominions,-Lysimachus, Antipater, Craterus, Ptolemy, Antigonus, Cassander, Menander, Leonatus, Neoptolemus, Eumenes, Laomedon, Atropates, Perdiccas, and others of less note; but they were incessantly displacing each other, so that,
the Jews concerning the Persian chronology was so great, that they only allowed fifty-four years and four kings to the whole Persian dynasty; nor did the inferior Rabbis only make this mistake, but even the most eminent." This remark appears to be made by Michaelis, without any reference to the chapter which is under consideration.
at some period or other, the number of principalities may have been exactly ten, or the writer may have counted only the chief among them. But after a time, the whole were consolidated into four great monarchies; hence the writer might very naturally give to the beast ten horns here, and four in another place, chap. viii. 8; especially as he takes care to distinguish the latter as "notable horns." But it is possible that he counted the successive rulers of Syria up to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, viz. Laomedon, Ptolemy,* Antigonus, Seleucus Nicator, Antiochus Soter, Antiochus Theos, Seleucus Callinicus, Seleucus Ceraunus, Antiochus the Great, and Seleucus Philopator.
Ver. 8: "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." Explained, ver. 24, "And another shall rise after them (the ten kings), and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings."
Here we have a proof that we have been following very nearly the right road, by arriving in sight of our old acquaintance, the little horn of chap. viii. and xi., which has been shewn clearly to be Antiochus Epiphanes. The description of him here corresponds exactly with that in the above chapters, in many places even word for word. The three horns plucked up seem to correspond with "it waxed exceeding great toward the south, and the east, and the pleasant land,” viii. 9.
Ver. 25: "And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change
* An objection of some weight is, that the first two were not crowned. But the opinion of the Jews appears to have been, that the servants of Alexander became kings immediately after his death, and even that he divided his kingdom amongst them whilst alive.-1 Macc. i. 6.
times and laws; and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time."
In chap. xi. 36, Antiochus is to "speak marvellous things against the God of gods." In 2 Macc. vi. 1, He endeavoured "to compel the Jews to depart from the laws of their fathers." And in Dan. xii. 7, his time was to be "a time, times, and a half." This is proof as clear as we could wish that the little horn is the same personage in all the three chapters, vii. viii. xi.
Ver. 9: "I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit." . . . 11: “I beheld, then, because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.”
The writer here arrives at his own times, and therefore his prophecy no longer agrees with history. He begins to indulge his imagination, and, as in chap. xii., prophesies a general judgment as soon to come.
Ver. 12: "As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away; yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time."
The author could not tell how long the other kingdoms of Alexander's successors would remain after the death of Antiochus, and therefore speaks of their fate in a vague and mysterious manner.
Ver. 13: "I saw in the night visions; and behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14: And there was given him dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him." Explained ver. 27: "And the kingdom, and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him."
The Gentile nations had been represented by beasts and horns of beasts. The author compliments his own nation, the people of God, with a more dignified representative, viz. "one like the Son of man," and his patriotism gives them an universal dominion.
In verse 25, the saints of the Most High are clearly the Jewish people; therefore the universal dominion is plainly prophesied of them as a nation, and not of any one individual. But it seems probable that many of the Jews in after-times, either by mistake or by way of accommodation, applied the term Son of Man to the expected Messiah; and hence the adoption of that title by Jesus.*
It would be tedious to examine the vision of the great image, ch. ii., in this minute manner. of the image. The sense is the same as that of the vision of the beasts. The head of gold is Babylon; the breast and arms of silver, Media; the belly and thighs (or sides) of brass, Persia; the legs of iron, Macedonia; the toes, part of iron and part of clay, Alexander's successors; and the stone which filled the whole earth, the future kingdom of God's people, the Jews.
The different pretended prophecies in Daniel thus harmonize; and all establish the same conclusions, viz. that the author wrote about the time of the death of Antiochus; that his prophecies up to that time are history, and afterwards visionary speculations.
That the Jewish priests and leaders should have invented prophecies and visions to encourage the nation during the difficult times of the Maccabees, is probable enough in itself. We have, however, one instance given historically, 2 Macc. xv. Judas, to encourage his men before the battle of Capharsalama, told them a dream, "worthy to be believed, as if it had been so indeed," says the writer; and the dream was, that the high priest Onias, and the prophet Jeremiah, had appeared to him, and that the latter had given him a holy sword.
* Rabbi Saadias, A.D. 927, said, in commenting on this place, "Like the Son of Man: this is Messiah our righteousness."-See Lightfoot on Acts vii. 56. It does not appear that the Jews generally applied the term thus in the time of Christ. See John xii. 34.
"Thus being well comforted with the words of Judas, which were very good and able to stir them up to valour, and to encourage the hearts of the young men, they determined courageously to set upon them," &c. If Judas could invent a vision concerning Onias and Jeremiah, he, or some one else in his time, could as easily invent prophecies and visions of Daniel.
There remains to be considered the proweeks. phecy of the seventy weeks, ix. Dan., which has been called by Sir I. Newton the foundation of Christianity. Daniel is represented as praying in the first year of Darius the Mede, which was the last of the · captivity, B.C. 538. Gabriel tells him, ver. 24, that
"Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy."
And he goes on to divide these seventy weeks as follows:
Ver. 25: "From the commandment to build again Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince (Sept. unto the anointed ruler) shall be seven weeks.
"And threescore and two weeks the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
Ver. 26: "And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself (or Messiah shall cut them off,* and they shall be no more his people); and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the sanctuary, and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined." Ver. 27: "And he shall confirm the covenant (or a covenant) with many for one week; and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate (or, upon the battlements shall be the idols of the desolator), even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate."
* Exscindetur vel exscindet Messias, the passive and active future in Hebrew being the same.-Mich. on Seventy Weeks, p. 137.