The Biblical Illustrator
Book Overview - Daniel
by Joseph Exell
THE WORLD EVENTS OF THE TIME OF THE CAPTIVITY. The seventy years captivity opens just after the overthrow of one of the great monarchies, and the destruction of one of the great cities (Nineveh) of the ancient world, which had kept its ground for upwards of a thousand years. It ends with the fall of one that in the colossal greatness of its power and the magnificence of its buildings, surpassed all others. It begins with the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, and ends with that of Cyrus. It was a time of vast migrations, and struggles of races and of creeds. The religion of Buddha was working its mighty change in India, and altogether beyond the horizon of the Babylonian Empire. The religion of Zoroaster was entering on a new and more energetic life, and the books which embody that faith were assuming their present shape. Not less wonderful was the synchronism of events in regions that lay then entirely out of all contact with the history of the Bible. Then it was that Epimenides, and the Orphic brotherhoods that traced their origin to him, were altering the character of the earlier creed of Greece, as represented by the Homeric poems, that Pythagoras and his disciples were laying the foundations of an asceticism which developed into a philosophy, that Solon was building up the intellectual and political life of Athens. In the far West, Rome was already rising into greatness. The walls of Servius Tullus, yet more the organization of the constitution which bears his name, were marking out the future destiny of the City of the Seven Hills as different from that of any other town in Italy. In the far East, Confucius was entering on his work as the teacher of an ethical system which, whatever may be its defects, has kept its ground through all the centuries that have followed, and been accepted by many millions of mankind, which, at present, modified more or less by its contact with Buddhism, divides with that system the homage of nearly all tribes and nations of Turanian origin. Of many of these great changes we can only think with wonder at the strange parallelisms with which the great divisions of the human family were moving on, far removed from each other, in the order which had been appointed for them. Those which connect themselves directly with the rise and fall of the great, Chaldean monarchy will serve to show how, “in sundry times and divers manners,” God has taught men to feel after him, and it may be, find him. For centuries before the birth of Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon had been carrying on, with varying success, a struggle against the great Assyrian Empire, which had its capital (Nineveh) on the Tigris. (Dean Plumptre.)
THE MAN DANIEL AND HIS PROPHETIC BOOK. We have in Daniel, a man of intense religious feeling and a pure patriot, and one possessed also of great ability and s powerful mind upon which numerous and weighty influences were brought to bear. Can we wonder if he viewed the world with a different eye from that of the exiled priest, Ezekiel, living in penury among the poor Jewish colonists planted on the river Chebar? Or from that of Jeremiah, struggling against all the evil influences which were dally dragging the feeble Zedekiah and the decaying people of Jerusalem, down to ruin? Or even from that of Isaiah, whose rapt vision, spurning this poor earth, soared aloft to the spiritual glories of Messiah’s reign, and sang how the sucker, springing up from Jesse’s cut-down lineage, and growing as a root in a dry ground, should by its wounds, owing to the world healing, and by its death, purchase for mankind life? But each of these had his own office and his special message; and Daniel’s office was to show that the Christian religion was not to be an enlarged Judaism, but a Judaism fulfilled and made free. Its outer husk was to fall away, its inner beauty to reveal itself, and instead of a Church for the Jews, there was to be a Church for all mankind. In the Book of Daniel we find no trace of that old contempt for the Gentiles, which the Jews had grafted on the feelings in which they might indulge, of gratitude to God for their own many privileges. Babylon to him is the head of gold; other realms are of silver, brass, or iron, all precious and enduring substances, though the last was mingled with miry clay. In the colossal image, Judea finds no place, because thus far its influence upon the world had been nought. And when God s universal empire grinds to powder these world powers, though Israel had been God’s preparation for the reign of Christ, yet that is passed over, and its establishment is spoken of as God’s direct doing--a stone cut out of the mountain by no human hands, but by a Divine power. We know how Daniel loved his nation, and how, even in extreme old age, he still prayed with his face towards Jerusalem; but he places out of sight, the work of his country and of his Church, and sees only the world’s history, and the share which it has in preparing for the universal dominion of God. As a corrective to the outer form of previous prophecy, this was not only most precious but absolutely necessary. A careless reader up to this time might have supposed that the Gentiles had no part in God s purposes. True that the old promises in the Book of Genesis included them, but as Judaism developed, the Gentiles were pushed more and more into the background, and became the object of prophecy apparently only in their connection with Judea, or as the future subjects of Judah’s Messiah. We, as we read the words of the prophets, cannot help finding proofs everywhere, that what Daniel taught was no new interpretation, but the true meaning of the whole prophetic choir. The Jew saw no world-wide purpose, not merely because.patriotism and national pride closed the avenues of his mind, but also because the outer form of prophecy was Jewish, and gave a basis to the narrow interpretation put upon the prophetic teaching by the current national thought. But here the outer form is entirely changed, and the man who was the mighty pillar of their strength in their days of disaster, sets the world before them in a completely different aspect, ignores their old standards of thought, and declares that their Jehovah was as much the God and Father of the whole Gentile world as he was their own. But clear and plain as was his teaching, the Jews refused to it their assent; their synagogue did not include Daniel among the prophets, but placed his book among the “Hagiographa,” “the sacred writings,” between those of Esther and Ezra. Nor was this place so altogether wrong; for even now, with its numerous points of resemblance to the Apocalypse of St. John, it would rightly hold a place between the Old and New Testaments. It would be hard indeed to spare Malachi from that position, with his ringing announcement of the nigh coming of the Forerunner. But the Apocalypse holds to the Christian Church the same relation as that held by Daniel to the Church of the Jews. The one raised the veil for the covenant people of old, and gave them an insight into, and guidance through the weeks and years that were to elapse before Messiah’s first Advent; the second raises the veil for the Church of Christ, gives its glimpses of the world’s history, and of God’s work in it until its Lord comes again. (Dean Payne Smith.)
THE BOOK OF DANIEL:--this is assigned in the Hebrew canon to the third division, called Hagiographa. The first chapter is introductory to the whole book, giving an account of the selection and education of Daniel and his three companions by direction of the king of Babylon. The prophecies that follow naturally fall into two series. The first, occupying chapters 2 to 7, is written in Chaldee from the middle of the fourth verse of chapter 2. It unfolds the relation which God’s kingdom holds to the heathen powers, as seen in a twofold vision of the four great monarchies of the world, in the form, first, of an image consisting of four parts, and then of four great beasts rising up out of the sea, the last monarchy being succeeded by the kingdom of the God of heaven, which shall never be destroyed; in the protection and deliverance of God’s faithful servants from the persecution of heathen kings and princes; in the humbling of heathen monarchs for their pride, idolatry, and profanation of the sacred vessels belonging to the sanctuary. Thus we see that the first three of these six chapters correspond to the last three taken in an inverse order--the second to the seventh the third to the sixth, and the fourth to the fifth. The second series, consisting of the remaining five chapters, is written in Hebrew. This also exhibits the conflict between God’s kingdom and the heathen world, taking up the second and third monarchies under the images of a ram and a he-goat. There follow some special details relating to the nearer future, with some very remarkable revelations respecting the time of the Messiah’s advent, the destruction of the holy city by the Romans, the last great conflict between the kingdom of God and its enemies, and the final resurrection. The intimate connection between the Book of Daniel and the Revelation of John must strike every reader of the Holy Scriptures. They mutually interpret each other, and together constitute one grand system of prophecy extending down to the end of the world. Both also contain predictions, the exact interpretation of which is extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, till the mystery of God should be finished. The unity of the Book of Daniel is now.generally conceded. “The two leading divisions are so related, that the one implies the existence of the other. Both have the same characteristics of manner and style, though a considerable portion of the book is in Chaldee and the remainder in Hebrew.” This being admitted, the book as a whole claims Daniel for its author; for in it he often speaks in the first person; and in the last chapter the book is manifestly ascribed to him. The uniform tradition of the Jews ascribed the book to Daniel. It was on this ground that they received it into the canon of the Old Testament. The objection that they did not class Daniel with the prophets, but with the Hagiographa, is of no account. Had the book belonged, as the objectors claim, to the Maccabean age, it would not have found a place in the Hagiographa any more than in the prophets. The First Book of Maccabees, which contains authentic history, was never received into the Hebrew canon, because, as the Jews rightly judged, it was written after the withdrawal of the spirit of prophecy. Much less would they have received under the illustrious name of Daniel, a book written as late as the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, more than three centuries and a half after Daniel. That they should have done this through ignorance is inconceivable; that they could have done it through fraud is a supposition not to be admitted for a moment, for it is contrary to all that we know of their conscientious care with regard to the sacred text. The language of the book agrees with the age of Daniel. The writer employs both Hebrew and Chaldee, thus indicating that he lives during the period of transition from the former to the latter language. His Chaldee, like that of Ezra, contains Hebrew forms such as do not occur in the earliest of the Targums. His Hebrew, on the other hand, agrees in its general character with that of Ezekiel and Ezra. Though the Hebrew survives as the language of the learned for some time after the Captivity, we cannot suppose that so late as the age of Antiochus Epiphanes and the Maccabees, a Jewish author could have employed either such Hebrew as Daniel uses or such Chaldee. The author manifests intimate acquaintance with the historical relations, manners and customs belonging to Daniel’s time. Under this head writers have specified the custom of giving new names to those taken into the king’s service; the threat that the houses of the magi should be made a dunghill; the different forms of capital punishment in use among the Chaldeans and Medo-Persians; the dress of Daniel’s companions; the presence of women at the royal banquet, etc. The real objection to the book lies, as already intimated, in the supernatural character of its contents, in the remarkable miracles and prophecies which it records. The miracles of this book are of a very imposing character, especially adapted to strike the minds of the beholders with awe and wonder; but so are those also recorded in the beginning of the Book of Exodus. In both cases they were alike fitted to make upon the minds of the heathen, in whose presence they were performed, the impression of God’s power to save and deliver in all possible circumstances. The prophecies are mostly in the form of dreams and visions; and they are in wonderful harmony with Daniel’s position as a minister of State at the court of Babylon, and also with the relation of Judaism to the heathen world. In the providence of God, the history of His covenant people, and through them of the visible kingdom of heaven, had become inseparably connected with that of the great monarchies of the world. How appropriate, then, that God should reveal in its grand outlines, the course of these monarchies to the final and complete establishment of the kingdom of heaven! In all this we find nothing against the general analogy of prophecy, but everything in strict conformity with it. (E. P. Barrows, D.D.)
DANIEL’S BOOK A PART OF DIVINE REVELATION:
1. The Babylonish captivity constituted an important era in the history of redemption. It was the means adopted by God in His all-wise providence, to purify and reform the Jewish Church, and thus perpetuate the true religion. It was, therefore, to have been expected, that some record of the captivity would be preserved, otherwise a whole era would be left blank, and the Church be thereby deprived of the important lessons, which, even a slight glimpse of such a period could not fail to afford.
2. The whole aspect of Society, both in respect of religion and government is wholly different in Babylon from what it was in Judea. We are introduced in the Book of Daniel into a moral world altogether new in its construction. We are placed in the midst of scenes to which there is no resemblance in the rest of the Old Testament. The scenes here depicted have a breadth and grandeur about them, unparalleled in scripture, and an intensity of passion altogether new.
3. The most careless reader must be struck with the number of miracles which it records, and these of a very stupendous, cast. These have been adduced as an argument against the authenticity of the book. But Babylon was then the stronghold of idolatry; and it was surely worthy of God’s wisdom, and of his goodness, and of all his perfections, to work such miracles in order to assert his sole authority. These miracles were also calculated to exert a very important influence upon the Jewish race, whose character had then sunk very low. (William White)
APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE:--Something remains to be said as to Daniel’s method of prophesying. Passing by the opening chapters, in which the imagery is taken from Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams, we find him using symbolic figures and Symbolic numbers. He discontinues now the use of the Chaldean language, by which he had previously seemed to indicate that his memorial was not addressed to Jews only, but to all the people of the provinces of Babylon, and writes in Hebrew, the holy and sacred language of his people. But how different his method from that of the prophets of old! Mighty animals devour and break in pieces, and trample the nations down, till all the thrones of earthly dominion are cast aside, and the Ancient of Days takes the kingdom. So great an influence did this mode of writing exercise upon the imagination of mankind that the books are legion written by the Jews, especially those of Egypt, in imitation of it. One of the most famous was the Book of Enoch; another, the. Second Book of Esdras may be found in our own Apocrypha, though not included in it by the Church of Rome. In Daniel’s prophecies the Gentiles no longer appear as mere accessories to the Jews; they are equally the object of the Divine providence, and bear an independent, if not an equal, part in the preparation for Christ. By symbolic numbers he taught with extraordinary clearness that Messiah was to come. But with What bitter revelations is it combined! What must have been the Jew’s feelings when, instead of triumph and victory, and an era of glorious conquest and universal empire, he read that Messiah was to be cut off, and that the armies of an alien empire would destroy the city and the sanctuary? That the daily sacrifice would cease, and that the abomination that maketh desolate would prevail for one thousand, three hundred and ninety days. (Dean Payne Smith, D.D.)
DANIEL: HIS BOOK AND ITS CRITICS. The Book of Daniel has long been one of the high places of the field where the contest is waged for the faith once delivered unto the saints. With men to whom a miracle is s thing incredible, and prophecy an offence or an impossibility, it is not surprising to find the most inveterate opposition displayed towards a writing which contains a record of such miracles as those of the Babylonian exile, and a series of prophecies second to none in the Old Testament in the extent of their range and the minuteness of their details. If Daniel is numbered among the prophets, then the oracles of Tubingen are confounded like the magicians over whom he triumphed twenty-four centuries ago. It is a book, as Dr. Pusey says in his opening paragraph, which “admits of no half measures. It is either Divine or an imposture. The writer, were he not Daniel, must have lied on a most frightful scale, ascribing to God prophecies which were never uttered, and miracles which are assumed never to have been wrought.” In the case of this book, we have now nothing of the patchwork system advocated like the piecemeal authorship of the Pentateuch, and the so-called first and second Isaiahs of Rationalistic criticism. The whole book is relegated by its impugners to the Maccabean era, and its prophecies distorted to give them no later application than to the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes and the war of independence, thus making them prophecies post eventum. All the theories which eliminate the Messianic and eschatological references from the book are beset with difficulties far exceeding that which recognises Daniel as a member of the “goodly fellowship of the prophets,” and are based upon assumptions so cumbrous and arbitrary that they can be expected to find credence only where there was a foregone conclusion of disbelief. As to the person of the prophet, we learn that he was led captive into Babylon in the third year of King Jehoiakim (B.C. 606-5); hence his birth would seem almost to have coincided with the great reformation of religion in Judah under King Josiah. For one like Daniel, of noble, if not of royal birth, there was the promise of a prosperous career, until the nation was filled with mourning by the death of Josiah occasioned by the wound received at Megiddo. A younger son of Josiah (Shallum) was hastily proclaimed king in his father’s stead under the name of Jehoahaz, but the Egyptian king Pharaoh-Necho was the real master of the country. After a reign of only three months, the young monarch was carried off to the camp of the conqueror at Riblah on the Orontes, and his elder brother was placed on the throne as a vassal of Pharaoh, taking the name of Jehoiakim. It was the twilight of the Jewish monarchy; Jeremiah’s denunciations reveal to us a state of oppression wherein the degenerate princes of the house of David copied the examples of neighbouring despots. The chronicler sums up the record of Jehoiakim’s reign in the brief and awful statement that “he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord his God;” and the national archives are referred to as supplying the particulars of “the rest of the abominations which he did.” The political situation in the nations around was far from promising. The empire of Nimrod and Sennacherib had collapsed a few years before, but another great world-power had risen on the Euphrates almost as suddenly as the city of the Tigris had fallen. Nabopolassar, the captor of Nineveh and the founder of Babylon, was at war with Pharaoh-Necho, the lord paramount of the Jewish king. Necho had attacked the frontier fortress of Carchemiah, but his army was driven back from the Euphrates to the Nile with such crushing defeat that the Egyptian monarchy was shaken from its ancient centre at Memphis, and forced to take refuge at Thebes. Judea lying between the two hostile powers--the Belgium of the East--and being a dependency of the conquered king, the whole land was filled with fear of invasion. So general was this dread that even the nomadic sons of Jonadab and Rechab forsook their tents for the security which the city was supposed to furnish. Soon the son of the King of Babylon, ere long to be his successor, came against the Holy City, which fell after a brief siege, and Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiakim prisoner, but afterwards restored him as his vassal. Then began the removal of the vessels of the sanctuary to Babylon, and in the train led across the Syrian desert to the land of their conqueror were Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael of the royal seed of Judah, to be trained in the schools and to serve in the court of Babylon. For the third time in the history of the old Covenant the interests of the chosen nation were centred in a Hebrew youth surrounded by all the allurements and perils of a heathen court. But if, according to human ideas, the destinies of the covenant race seemed to tremble in the hands of a young captive, Babylon presented a counterpart to the trials and triumphs of faith at Memphis centuries before; and Daniel, like Joseph and Moses, was found “faithful” as a servant of God even in the house of the conqueror of his country. In ancient times the great opponent of the genuineness of Daniel’s writings was the notorious adversary of Christianity, Porphyry. Staggered by the remarkably exact fulfilment of Daniel s prophecies in the subsequent history of the world, and preeminently in the Coming and Passion of the Messiah, he invented the theory that the book was the production of a Jew who lived in the times of the Maccabees. His theory was nobly and triumphantly controverted by Eusebius, Jerome, Methodius of Tyre, and Appolli-naris of Laodicea. So complete was his discomfiture, that even Spinoza did not venture to assail the genuineness of the prophecies in the later chapters. And it is only within the last hundred years or so that Porphyry has found advocates and disciples. For a brief summary of the literature of unbelieving criticism on this subject the reader is referred to Keil’s Introduction, to the Old Tenement, translated in the Foreign Theol. Library. The principal points alleged by those who deny the genuineness of the book, are:
Dr. Pusey has dealt with this subject in one of his lectures, from which we extract the following paragraph:--“The arrangement of the Canon among the Jews, though different from that of the Christian Church, proceeded on definite and legitimate principles.shows that the whole range of apocryphal literature indicates no progress in the development of the Messianic idea, and knows nothing of a personal Messiah, while in the pages of our prophet we trace the unfolding of the doctrine of Christ’s Divine-human person already revealed to Isaiah. The kingdom of Christ is also spoken of in its universality and its
connection with the general resurrection, which is perfectly intelligible if we regard the prophecy as an expansion of the revelations made to earlier seers, but inexplicable if the book is a pious fraud of a period four centuries later, when narrow and exclusive views of Jewish privilege prevailed. The angelology of the book is another occasion of offence to Daniel’s critics. The earliest books of the Bible teach the existence and ministry of angels. The principalities and powers in heavenly places appear in the visions vouchsafed to Isaiah and Ezekiel. The prophet who has not written a line of our Canon,--Micaiah, the son of Imla,--testified to Jehoshaphat and Ahab that he saw the host of heaven standing about the throne. The value of prayer, its repetition thrice a day, fasting and abstinence from unclean food, were all practices sanctioned by long usage, as we learn from many anterior Scriptures, so no inference of a later authorship can be based on the references to these observances in the face of positive or even probable evidence of its genuineness. And it is manifestly unfair to interpret its doctrine of angels by the hierarchical systems of the Rabbis, or to invent a theory of Parsee influence, and then to call Daniel in question for the errors and absurdities of the Rabbinical and Zoroastrian systems. After his inauguration in the prophetic office, thirty years rolled by, during which Daniel continued to hold his high position in the government, of the empire. Meanwhile his fame spread among the scattered tribes of his people, so that Ezekiel, writing among the exiles on the Chebar, spoke of his wisdom as proverbial (Ezekiel 28:3). And in another passage of the same prophet he is grouped with two eminent saints of patriarchal times as an eminent example of steadfast fidelity to God. The microscopic critics of the unbelieving class have boasted loudly over these references as if they were incontrovertible testimonies against the personality of the Daniel of the Exile and the genuineness of his book. But Ezekiel’s prophecies are both dated documents. The one in which Daniel’s wisdom is celebrated was written eighteen years after the same gift had been rewarded by the king, and the other mention of his faithfulness was not till some fifteen years after the test of his fidelity in the matter of the king’s meat; and, moreover, the commendation is not that of a man’s praise resting on common report, however well founded, but it is the benison of the Searcher of hearts, who had attested the integrity of His servant. The weapons of the adversaries of the faith are well turned against them by one of the ablest expositors of the prophecy:--“The mention of Daniel, then, by Ezekiel, in both cases has the more force from the fact that he was a contemporary; both corresponded with his actual character as stated in his book. Granted the historical truth of Daniel, no one would doubt that Ezekiel did refer to Daniel as described in his book. But then the objection is only the usual begging of the question. ‘Ezekiel is not likely to have referred to Daniel, a contemporary, unless he was distinguished by extraordinary gifts or graces.’ ‘But his book not being genuine, there is no proof that he was so distinguished.’ ‘Therefore,’ etc.”--Pusey On Daniel, p. 108. And with reference to the Rationalistic hypothesis that Ezekielreferred to some distinguished person of remote antiquity, like another Melchisedec, only with this difference, that Scripture is not sparing, but altogether silent in its testimony, the Oxford Professor continues:--“This school is fond of the argument ‘ex silentio.’ They all (though, as we shall see, wrongly) use it as a palmary proof of the non-existence of the Book of Daniel in the time of the Son of Sirach, that he does not name Daniel among the prophets. Yet, in the same breath, they assume the existence of one whom no one but themselves ever thought of, to disprove the existence of him who is known to history Truly they give us a shadow for the substance.”--Pusey, p. 109. The madness of Nebuchadnezzar is copiously dealt with in Bishop Wordsworth’s notes on the fourth chapter. He follows Hengstenberg, Pusey, and others, in regarding the king’s malady as that form of mental disease known to medical science as Lycanthropy. He inserts the following communication from E. Palmer, Esq., M.D., of the Lincolnshire Asylum at Bracebridge:--“It very commonly occurs that patients, on their recovery from insanity, have a full recollection of their sayings and doings, and of all that happened to them during their attack In the case of Nebuchadnezzar it was not until ‘the end of the days‘--or, as may be supposed, at the first dawn of intelligence, when partially lycanthropical and partially self-conscious, and in a state somewhat resembling that of a person awakening from a dream--that he lifted up his eyes unto heaven, being, probably, not yet rational enough to offer up a prayer in words, but still so far conscious as to be able dimly to perceive his identity. But when his understanding returned to him, there came back not only a recollection of his sin and the decree of the Most High, but also a vivid reminiscence of all the circumstances of his abasement amongst the beasts of the field; and he at once acknowledged the power and dominion of God.”--Wordsworth, p., 17. Dr. Palmer’s letter to the Bishop concludes with an extract from Esquirol’s Des Maladies Mentales, giving an account of an epidemic outbreak of Lycanthropy in France some 300 years ago. The part which Daniel took in the administration of the realm during the king’s madness, would form an interesting subject of conjecture. There seems to be a trace, in one of the extant inscriptions, of a regency exercised by the father of the king’s son-in-law, the Rag-Mag, or chief of the magicians, whose son, Neriglissar, gained the crown two years after Nebuchadnezzar’s death, by a plot which deprived his brother-in-law Evil Merodach, Nebuchadnezzar’s son and successor, of his throne, and of his life. With such a party of ambition and intrigue so near the succession, and with the regency vested in them, it may seem surprising that the great king found his place waiting for him on his recovery, and that his crown descended to his heir. But our history shows us one who, from his foreign birth, may have been precluded by Chaldean etiquette, or jealousy, from holding the name of regent, who nevertheless exercised the real power of government. More than 30 years before he had been placed at the head of the order which furnished the savans, statesmen, and not unfrequently the generals of the nation. In the record of his second dream, Nebuchadnezzar, in the precise style of a royal decree, accords to Daniel the title which indicated sacerdotal and political primacy. So, if not in name, it is by no means improbable that in fact, Daniel, like his forerunner Joseph in the days of Egyptian calamity, guided the great empire of the Euphrates through the dark and troubled period while its master was absent from the helm, keeping his crown and dignity inviolate from open ambition or secret, intrigue. Whether the seven prophetic “times” of his madness be interpreted as denoting years or shorter periods, a brief interval of life only remained for the recovered monarch. The one recorded act of the short reign of his son, Evil Merodach, the release of the King of Judah from his 37 years’ imprisonment, with a precedence at the royal banquets above all the other captive monarchs, would seem to point to Daniel’s continued influence in the state. His reign of two years being ended by the conspiracy of Neriglissar, the usurpor’s rule lasted only four years, and he was succeeded by his son, Laborosoarchod, a boy king, who, in the course of nine months, was tortured to death by the Chaldean chiefs, who placed Nabonadius on the throne. During the earlier part of his reign of seventeen years he restored to some extent the waning glory of Babylon, but only to see it totally and finally eclipsed. For while Cyrus was engaged in his war with Croesus, Nabonadius entered into an alliance with the Lydian king. When Croesus was vanquished the Persian turned his victorious arms towards the Queen of the Euphrates. Nabonadius headed the army in the plain before Babylon, leaving the defence of the city to his son Belshazzar, whom he had associated with himself in the government. The Babylonian army being routed in a single battle, Nabonadius took refuge in the neighbouring fortress of Borsippa. Then came the siege, and the brave but over-confident defence, and the laborious device of Cyrus, whereby “the great river, the river Euphrates,” itself was diverted from its course, when “a sound of revelry by night” furnished the besiegers with a signal for opening the flood-gates for the great assault. For a long time the impugners of the book’s authenticity made great use of the absence of Belshazzar’s name from the lists of Nebuchadnezzar's successors found in the fragments of Berosus and Abydenus. Even Keil is unsatisfactory in his dealings with the last who wore the Babylonian purple, and confounds the Belshazzar of Daniel with the Evil Merodach who had died twenty years before the city fell. It is true Nabonadius appears as the last king of Babylon, according to the old chroniclers in their extant fragments, and he was not of the family of Nebuchadnezzar, neither was he slain in the night of the city’s capture, but, having surrendered himself to Cyrus, was relegated to a provincial governorship in Carmania, where he died. But the adversaries of the Holy Oracles have been put to silence by the mute but powerful evidence of the potter’s clay. “It appears, from extant monuments--namely, from cylinders of Nabonnedus discovered at Mugheir--that a prince called Bil-shar-uzur (Belshazzar) was his son, and was associated with him in the empire. In those cylinders the protection of the gods is desired ‘for Nabonadid and his son Bil-Sharuzur,’ and their names are coupled together in a way that implies the sovereignty of the latter. (British Museum Series, Plate 68, No. 1. Rawlinson, Ancient Monarchies, 3:515, whose remarks are confirmed by Oppert, who, when in Babylonia in 1854, read and interpreted those cylinders at the same time, and in the same way, as Sir H. Rawlinson did in England. See Oppert’s letter to Olshausen, dated Jan. 16th, 1864, in Zeitschrift d. Deutsch. Morg. Ges. 8:598)
, This opinion was further corroborated by another learned Orientalist, Dr. Hincks, who deciphered an inscription of Nabonnedus, in which he prays for Belshazzar, his eldest son, and in which, he is represented as co-regent. See Pusey, pp. 402, 403.”--Wordsworth, p. 20. If Herodotus has preserved for us the story of the siege, the Book of Daniel gives us the graphic description of the scene within the massive walls. The king had turned a national festival into a time of licence and intoxication; the drunken revel was further degraded into a scene of sacrilegious defiance of Jehovah, as Belshazzar sent for the golden vessels which his father (i.e. grandfather, the Hebrew and Chaldee languages both being destitute of any word for grandsire or grandson)
Nebuchadnezzar had brought from Jerusalem that he might defile them in his palace orgies. The mighty conqueror had shown in his way a kind of religious veneration for them, by placing them, probably only as trophies, in the temple of his god, but it was reserved for the young voluptuary to give the more grievous affront to Jehovah, by using the golden bowls of His ministry in his own deification, or for his inebrious shame. Then “over against the candlestick,” in the light of those lamps which had been wont to shed their rays upon the path to the mercy-seat, the mysterious hand appeared tracing its strange and terrible writing upon the wall. In the confusion which followed, the queen (probably Nicotris, the queen-mother) called to remembrance the discoveries of her father’s dreams made by Daniel, whose obscurity during recent reigns seems to be implied in the queen’s words, “There is a man in thy kingdom,” etc. (v. 11, 12). Once more the interpreter of secrets spoke out as the messenger of God’s judgment to princes as fearlessly as Elijah to Ahab, or John the Baptist to Herod. The visitation of Nebuchadnezzar, known but unheeded by his descendant, was rehearsed, and the strange inscription of numbering, weighing, and dividing, was interpreted and applied to the can of the profligate prince, and to the immediate dissolution of his empire. “In that night was Belshazzar, the king of the Chaldeans, slain,” but not before he had fulfilled his promise of investing the prophet with scarlet and gold, and proclaiming him third ruler of the vanishing kingdom. And in the degree of precedence accorded to Daniel we trace a corroboration of the history already given, not only as confirming his own recent retirement from state dignity and care as intimated in the queen’s address, but as furnishing in the unusual numerical order “third,” an exact coincidence with the testimony of the cylinder as to Belshazzar’s own place in the government as his father’s co-regent. But if thus, in the 67th year of his captivity, Daniel reappears suddenly upon the historic portion of his own pages, the prophetic portion of his book shows us a glimpse or two of him in the years immediately preceding the city’s fall. In the first year of Belshazzar he received the vision of the four beasts, descriptive of the succession of earthly empires, and affording a fuller revelation of them than had been vouchsafed to Nebuchadnezzar in the dream which he had interpreted some sixty years previously. The four beasts were seen rising “up from the sea” and striving “upon the great sea’,” and when (in verse 17) the beasts are interpreted as four kings, the sea from whence they came is explained in accordance with the uniform symbolical application as denoting the world, “shall arise from the earth.” Thus the interpretation is guarded against any limitation to the Mediterranean coasts or powers characterised by naval prowess or maritime enterprise. The first beast was “like a lion, and had eagle’s wings,” the king of beasts joined with the king of birds. We are all familiar through the Assyrian antiquities with the composite sculptured forms with which the mighty conquerors of the East adorned their palaces, and by which they designed to illustrate the characteristics of their dominion. So, like the parables of our Lord, the prophetic vision derives its imagery from objects which were familiar and easy of interpretation to the seer. What the gold is among metals, and the head among the members of the body, such is the lion among beasts, and the eagle among birds. And the empire of Nebuchadnezzar, with its glory somewhat revived under Nabonadius, and his co-regent son Belshazzar, has in the vision of the prophet, as in the dream of its founder, the precedence of honour. Its splendour, however, was only like that of the evening sun breaking from the clouded west, but just above the horizon. “In the first year of Belshazzar, when Daniel saw this vision, the sun of the Babylonian empire was now setting. It was setting (as it seems) in its grandeur, like the tropic sun, with no twilight . . . Daniel sees it in its former nobility. As it had been exhibited to Nebuchadnezzar under the symbol of the richest metal gold, so now to Daniel, as combining qualities ordinarily incompatible, a lion with eagle’s wings. It had the solid strength of the king of beasts of prey, with the swiftness of the royal bird, the eagle. Jeremiah had likened Nebuchadnezzar both to the lion and the eagle. Ezekiel had compared the king, Habakkuk and Jeremiah his armies, for the rapidity of his conquests, to the eagle. So he beheld it for some time, as it had long been. Then he saw its decay. Its eagle-wings were plucked; its rapidity of conquest was stepped; itself was raised from the earth and set erect; its wild savage strength was taken away; it was made to stand on the feet of a man. In lieu of quickness of motion, like eagle’s wings, “is the slowness of human feet.” And the heart of mortal man (Ch. enash with the idea of weakness as in Hebrews enosh) was given to it. It was weakened and humanised. It looks as if the history of its great founder was alluded to in the history of his empire. As he was chastened, weakened, subdued to know his inherent weakness, so should they. The beast’s heart was given to him then withdrawn, and he ended with praising God. His empire, from having the attribute of the noblest of boasts, yet still of a wild beast, is humanised.”--Pusey, pp. 71, 72. Keil (p. 224) refers the latter part of the vision to the madness and recovery of Nebuchadnezzar, when in his thanksgiving to Jehovah “for the first time he attained to the true dignity of a man, so also was his world-kingdom ennobled in him.” The next beast was a bear, or “like to a bear, and it raised itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it, between the teeth of it.” It answers to the brazen chest and arms of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue. The animal denotes power, great and crushing in its destructiveness, but without the attributes of lightness and swiftness found in the former symbol. As the representative of the Medo-Persian empire, Pusey has shown the appropriateness of the symbol in an interesting enumeration of some of the expeditions organised by that power. “It never moved,” he says, “except in ponderous masses, avalanches precipitated upon its enemy, sufficient to overwhelm him, if they could have been discharged at once, or had there been any one commanding mind to direct them.” The lifting up of one side of the beast denotes the elevation of the Persian division of the double empire, whereby the other member was not dissolved, assimilated, or annexed, but, retaining its integrity in the united kingdom, remained quiescent under the more vigorous leadership of Cyrus. The three ribs between its teeth have often formed a subject of perplexity. Keil shows that the conquest of Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt, by the Medo-Persians, satisfies the requirements of the symbolism, and, further, as conquests by the united power of the Medes and Persians, is an additional safe-guard against the attempt of Rationalism to separate the component members of that empire into two of Daniel’s kingdoms, and thus to make the fourth power’s blasphemy against God coincide with the persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes. The third Was a leopard, or perhaps a panther. Insatiable in its thirst for blood, and its great agility increased by wings. If the wings are not those of the eagle, as in the first vision, what it loses in quality it gains in number, four. In this it corresponds with the rapid enterprises and thirst for conquest of the impetuous Alexander. And its four heads mentioned last, and thereby implying posteriority, point to the quartering of his empire after his death. The vision was a brief one, inasmuch as Daniel was ere long to have a fuller revelation of the coming of the great conqueror. The last beast was unlike all the rest, so “dreadful, and terrible, and strong exceedingly,” that Daniel had no name that could describe it. Its teeth were iron, with which it “devoured and brake in pieces” its prey, trampling underfoot in its fury what it had not time or inclination to devour. And it had ten horns. Such was the prophetic foreshadowing of the Roman power. If brief, the reason might be that the Spirit of Inspiration knew that another Daniel would be found after two-thirds of millennium had passed away, who should take up the prophetic scroll and fill in the lineaments of the terrible beast in a final Apocalypse. St. John’s predictions help to the understanding of the little horn that rose up among the ten, which had human eyes, and whose characteristic was “a mouth speaking great things.” Here, for the first time in the Holy Book, is the mention of the Man of Sin, the last “great word” proceeding from whose mouth, on July 18th, 1870, in the assertion of the Papal Infallibility, is fresh in every man’s memory. With reference to the vision of the four beasts, the heat of the controversy turns upon the application of the fourth to the Roman empire. If this be the true interpretation, then the Hebrew exile in the days of the Roman kings, or even the imaginary Daniel of a century prior to Julius Caesar, would have to be credited with the spirit of prophecy. To avoid this application all kinds of combinations and divisions of the symbols and empires have been attempted, The lion answering to the head of gold in ch. 2. has been applied to Nebuchadnezzar, and the bear to his successors, orindividually (as by Hitzig) to Belshazzar, the last of the Babylonian kings. But it is clear that the beasts denote powers and not princes and the emblem of the lion indicates the Babylonian empire in its integrity up to the moment of its dissolution. In the vision of the image it is not difficult to perceive that the head referred to Nebuchadnezzar, and the Chaldean monarchy personified in him. So Daniel explained it, “O King . . . Thou art this head of gold. And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to Daniel 2:38-39). The second beast has been Men as referring to the Median monarchy; and the third (the leopard) to the Persian one. Delitzsch, to support a pet theory of the identity of the two horns in the 7th and 8th chapters, has advocated this severance of the joint-power which overthrew Babylon. All through the history the phraseology is uniformly that of an amalgamated power. Both sections were spoken of as the conquerors m Daniel’s message to Belshazzar. “The law of the Medea and Persians” is an official phrase, denoting a single consolidated government as unmistakeably as our own realm is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. M. Godst says:--“This distinction of two monarchies, Median and Persian, is a pure fiction. The first could have lasted but two years, because Darius, the Mede, who would have founded it, was dead two years after the capture of Babylon, and Cyrus, the Persian, succeeded him. The fact is that it did not exist a single, instant in an independent form, for, from the commencement, it was Cyrus the Persian who commanded in the name of Darius the Mede, or Cyaxares. The latter only reigned in name, and that is exactly the sense of Daniel 6:28, which speaks of one and the same empire with two sovereigns reigning simultaneously. What otherwise would signify the expression, ‘Arise, devour much flesh, addressed to the pretended Median empire which would have lasted but two years. Delitzsch replies it is the expression of a simple conatus, a desire of conquest whioh is not realised, as if a desire remaining impossible would have found a place in the prophetic picture in which history is traced with much clear lines!. . .The bear, therefore, represents undeniably the Medo-Persian monarchy. It raised itself on one side, i.e., that of the two nations which constituted the empire there was but one--the Persian people--on which rested the aggressive and conquering power of the monarchy. The three pieces of flesh, which the beer held in his jaws, represent the principal conquests of this second great empire.”--Etudes Bibliques, Appendice, 389. The third beast, the leopard or panther, if not the emblem of the Persian empire, must refer to the kingdom of Alexander. The former supposition has been excluded by what has been already advanced; but if the successors of Nebuchadnezzar, or the Median monarchy alone, could be denoted by the bear, we should have to consider the appropriateness of the leopard with its four wings and four heads to the Persian monarchy. We will again quote M. Godet on this point:--“The rapidity of the conquests shown by the four wings was not the distinguishing characteristic of the Medo-Persian empire, while it is the most prominent trait of the power of Alexander. As for the four heads, it is pretended that they represent the first four sovereigns of Persia. This application would be forced even if Persia had but four kings, for the four heads represent four simultaneous powers and not four successive sovereigns. They belong to the organisation of the beast ever since its appearance. But further, Persia has had more than four sovereigns. What of the two Artaxerxes, Longimanus and Mnemon? and the two Dariuses, Ochus and Codoman? If the author wrote as a prophet, how did he see so mistily in the future? we ask of Delitzsch. If he wrote as an historian, that is to say a prophet Who wrote after the event, how could he ignore so completely the history which he wrote? we ask of the Rationalists. And how will you accommodate the eighth chapter with this view? The rough goat is the king of Graecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. Now, that being broken; whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms stroll stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.”--Etudes Bibliques, Appendice, 391. The identity of the fourth beast and its ten horns with the legs and feet of the colossus of Chapter II is apparent. Both are represented as trampling down and breaking in pieces everything that comes in their way. The last beast is the immediate precursor of Messiah’s kingdom, as the statue is thrown down by the stone hewn without hands. Suppose, according to our opponents’ hypothesis, Alexander and the Greek monarchy had not been already portrayed by the four headed leopard, what would be the meaning of the ten horns? It has been answered that they denote the ten kings of Syria, from the death of Alexander to Antiochus Epiphanes, under whom the pseudo-Daniel is supposed to have lived. M. Godet shows that there were but raven kings of Syria before Antiochus Epiphanes, viz.:
1. Seleucus Nicator;
2. Antiochus Soter;
3. Antiochus Theos;
4. Seleucus Callinicus;
5. Seleucus Ceraunus;
6. Antiochus the Great;
7. Seleucus Philopator.
These seven are drawn out to the required ten, by the opponents of the Roman application of the fourth beast, by inserting three men who should have reigned, but whom Antiochus drove from the throne,--Heliodore, the poisoner of Antiochus’s predecessor, and whose reign lasted but a moment; Demetrius, the legitimate successor, who was a hostage at Rome; and Ptolemy Philometor, king of Egypt, who had some pretensions to the throne. This insertion of kings de jure in a list of actual sovereigns is just as valid as any attempt, for a fanciful purpose, to make Queen Victoria the fortieth English monarch from the Conquest, which would stretch the roll of the Plantagenet princes from fourteen to eighteen by the insertion of Henry Plantagenet, the crowned Prince Royal, Arthur of Brittany, Edward of Lancaster, and, Richard of York. This theory also lies open to the objection of confining Alexander’s successors within the line of the Seleucide kings of Syria to the exclusion of Macedonian, Thracian, and Egyptian dynasties. Does the number ten stand for the indefinite multitude of leaders of these four co-existing monarchies? To offer such an interpretation of a writing, where numbers are used with such singular exactness, is evidently the last effort of a hopeless assault upon the Messianic testimony of the prophet,--a “stroke, of despair,” as Godet well characterises it. This failing to effect its propounders’ design, it only remains that the fourth beast and the lower extremities of Nebuchadnezzar’s image point to the Roman Empire and its subsequent divisions in the states of modern Europe, which should in turn give way to a kingdom not of this world. In this part of the Prophecy, as may be expected by all who are acquainted with his Notes on the Apocalypse, the high Anglican Bishop of Lincoln gives no quarter when he turns the weapons of exposition and controversy against the Papal power and its unholy pretensions. If Daniel saw afar off the inveterate and implacable persecutor of the Church of these later times in the little horn which rose out of the ten which preceded it, the vision closed with a far different scene. Nebuchadnezzar had only seen the stone hewn from its mountain quarry without hands, which wrecked in its advance the colossus of the kingdoms of this world. Daniel, however, beheld the Person of the King whose kingdom was to come and to prevail. The vision likewise embraced the “innumerable company of angels” witnessing the triumphs of the heavenly kingdom over the beast, and it found its glorious climax in the revelation of the Son of Man,--then first made known under that blessed name,--not as Isaiah had seen Him on the way to Golgotha, “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” but in the majesty of His heavenly coronation in our nature. His New Testament fellow-seer saw his Master on the earth, again. His priestly robes encircled with the regal belt of gold, and also with many crowns upon His head. Daniel, rapt away in the spirit, beheld the heavenly side of the cloud which cast its shadow upon the temporarily-orphaned disciples at Olivet. And the dominion with which he saw the Son of Man invested was declared to be “everlasting,” and “His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” Thus was the forsaken minister of Babylon comforted in his retirement, and prepared for the fall of the dynasty in whose service a great part of his long life had been passed. Though an angel had been the interpreter of his vision--a vision which was a sketch of the future rather than a perfectly-filled-up view of the coming ages--there was much reason left for him to ponder what all of it might be, and how it should come to pass. When we read his words, “As for me, Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart” (Daniel 7:22), we need no lengthened description to help us mentally to sketch the daily life of the ex-minister of state. We know his religious manner of life from his youth up--the devout retirement three times a day, the frequent study of the holy oracles (Daniel 9:2), the true religious patriotism which, in restored greatness and amidst cares of state, caused him to fast and weep in sackcloth because of the desolation of Jerusalem. All this would not be wanting in his private life under the princes who knew him not. Thus he mourned over the actual waste of his holy city, and the predicted fall of the realm he had helped to govern, and to guard, until two years had passed away. At the close of that period he is seen again engaged in some royal commission. The scene of the vision is Shushan, the Persian capital. And for a while Rationalism, with its keen scent for Scriptural discrepancies and its strong a priori faith in its own deductions from fragmentary uninspired narratives, cried Error here. How, they asked, could Daniel, a well-known servant of the Babylonian crown, be at a place within a neighbour’s territory? The assumption was a hasty one, like many formed in the same school, that the two powers were then engaged in hostilities. Again, it assumes that the prophet was there in propria persona, whereas the more probable inference is that he was carried in prophetic ecstasy, and awoke to do “the king’s business” in his own realm. Loud was its boasting when it proclaimed that Shushan had not then been built. Brief notices in Pliny and AElian, who wrote six and eight centuries respectively after Daniel’s time, have been eagerly caught up as proving its later foundation. If their testimony were more credible than that of the book, our antagonists would have the onus probandi, 1, that these words indicate the foundation of the city rather than of a royal residence; and, 2, that such was an entirely new foundation, and not an extension or restoration. The cuneiform insciptions, however, have done good service here as well as elsewhere, for they mention Shushan as one of the two Elamitic capitals in the reign of Sennacherib’s grandson. In the vision, the ram with two horns, one higher than the other, is the equivalent of the side-raised bear of the former one. Its westward, northward, and southward pushing marking the exact geographical directions of the Medo-Persian conquests. There, where learned doctors have long disputed over the application of the symbol, the seer has the interpretation made sure to him by the angel Gabriel. “The rough goat is the king of Graecia. The great horn between his eyes is the first king. Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power” Daniel 8:21-22). As to the figure of the conqueror, the he-goat corresponds to the four-winged panther of the previous chapter, as he bounds “from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground.” No emblem could be more expressive of the rapid rush of conquest achieved by the young Macedonian leader. The great horn, broken in the day when it was strong, and succeeded by four horns (kingdoms) out of his nation but not in his strength, can find no other page of history with which they agree, than the death scene of Alexander, and the four-fold partition of his monarchy. To make his the fourth and not the third prophetic empire, will require that “wresting” of the Scriptures which is only done to the “destruction” of the unstable operators. As to the view that the ten horns denote the successors of the Macedonian conqueror, we may well afford to postpone its serious consideration until the time when its supporters have arranged their conflicting and heterogeneous lists into one mutually accepted table. The burden of this vision, however, was in its closing scene: the little horn which rose out of the four, “which waxed exceeding great toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land.” Thus the invasion of Egypt, Babylonia, and Daniel’s native land--to him still in memory, and yet more in view of its future possession by his people, the “glory of all lands”--by Antiochus Epiphanes, was revealed. He sees in vision the foe of the Church of God waxing great, magnifying himself even to the Prince of Israel’s host, casting down His sanctuary and causing the daily sacrifice to cease. We know what an occasion of mourning, lamentation, and woe tins must have been to the Old Covenant saint whose devotions were stimulated when he turned his face towards the wasted city and sanctuary of his race. Grievous indeed it was for him to have a view of the “abomination of desolation standing where it ought not,” but more sad and heart-sickening was it to behold this, preceded and occasioned by the “transgression of desolation.” Great as was the impiety of the persecutor Antiochus, far deeper was the sin, and heavier the curse, of the apostate and traitorous High Priests of that age. They renounced their covenant vows and privileges, teaching the Jews to repudiate their circumcision. Three successive heads of the sacerdotal order assumed new and heathen names. One of them, Onias, styled Menelaus, conducted the heathen tyrant into the holy place, where he desecrated the altar with a sacrifice of a sow, and defiled the whole sanctuary with the broth of its flesh. What the heathen satirist complained of as a sign of Roman degeneracy (Juv. Sat. 3:60),
“Non possum ferre, Quirites Graecam urbem”
was far more bitterly felt by the faithful few who thought the highest honour of Jerusalem consisted in its being the “city of the Great King.” They knew how little they had to gain, and how much they had to lose, if their “holy city” were to become a copy of Antioch, Alexandria, or even Athens itself. “This process of secularisation was the source of the weakness and of the woes of the Jewish Church. Many of its priests renounced their belief in the religion of their forefathers, and apostatised from the faith of Moses and the Prophets. Thus they became the victims of the persecuting power of Infidelity. God withdrew His grace and protection from them. He punished them by taking away the spiritual privileges which they had scorned, and by giving them over to their enemies. He forsook the sanctuary which they had profaned, and abandoned the Jerusalem which they had heathenised. The Holy of Holies was no longer the shrine of the living God who had once revealed Himself on the mercy-seat. The temple on Moriah became a temple of Jupiter Olympius. The high priest himself sent a deputation to the Syrian games in honour of Hercules. The sacred procession of palm-bearers and singers, who once chanted sacred melodies in the streets of Sion at the festival of Tabernacles, was succeeded by bearers of the ivy-tufted thyrsus, who sang lyrical dithyrambs in honour of the Greek Dionysus, whose ivy leaf was branded upon the flesh of his votaries; and the effusion of the waters drawn forth in golden urns from the well of Siloam, and poured out upon the brazen altar of burnt sacrifices in the Temple was superseded by libations from the sacrifices of unclean animals immolated on the altar of Jehovah, surmounted by an idol altar, ‘the abomination of desolation.’ These desecrations were due, not to the power of the Persecutor, but to the cowardice, ambition, covetousness, mutual jealousy, treachery, and apostasy of the priests.”--Wordsworth, Introd. p. 17. To Daniel it was graciously revealed that this desolation should not be permanent, and he was informed that in 2,300 days from its beginning the calamity should be overpast, and the sanctuary should be cleansed. It is no matter of astonishment that, with the knowledge of such evils to befall, his Church and nation, “Daniel fainted and was sick certain days.” To suit the theories of those who wish to make the fourth beast signify the Grecian monarchy, diligent attempts have been made to identify the little horn of the seventh chapter (that which came up amidst the ten horns of the fourth beast) with that of the eighth (that which grew out of one of the four horns that came up in the place of the great one on the he-goat, which was broken). There is no reason for their identification, but quite the reverse. The horn in each case is the emblem of evils which break out of an organised state, and assume the form of an excrescence. In the eighth chapter the application of the figure to Antiochus Epiphanes is obvious, from what has been already advanced as to the order and reference of the beasts, as well as from the minute exactness of the prediction concerning him; but widely different is the account of that in chapter seven. The duration of the one is to the time when the sanctuary shall be cleansed, of the other “Until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” “That which distinguishes it clearly from the other is that it comes out of the middle of the ten horns of the beast without name, while the preceding one comes out of the four horns of the he-goat which represents Javan (8, 9, 22). We should say then, if we would employ the language of the New Testament, that the little horn of the seventh chapter is the Antichrist, the man of sin (Paul), the beast of the Apocalypse. This power, hostile to God and to the Church, is one which will spring from the confederation of European States, issue of the fourth monarchy; while that of the eighth chapter represents Antiochus Epiphanes, issue of the Greek monarchy, and who made an analogous war against the kingdom of God under the’ Jewish theocracy. There are then two declared adversaries to the reign of God indicated in the Book of Daniel--the one proceeding from the third monarchy and attacking the people of the Ancient Covenant, and the other coming out of the fourth and making war upon the people of the New. Whoever reads the seventh and eighth chapters of the Book of Daniel from this point of view, will see the difficulties vanish which have led wise men to the forced explanations which we have just refuted.”--Godet, Etudes Bibliques, App. 394. Daniel emerged from his private life again, not only to complete his testimony to the last of the Babylonian princes, but to be ready as a “chosen vessel” for the carrying out of the Divine purpose concerning his people. When the Persian hosts came in to sack the city and to cut down the king, Daniel, though vested in the newly-conferred scarlet and gold, escaped the fearful massacre. One mightier than Cyrus, had decreed concerning him, “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” Babylon had fallen, and the walls of Zion were to be rebuilt. To Daniel there was committed no unimportant share in accomplishing the second event as a result of the first. We need not pause to discuss the vexed question as to the internal relations of the two divisions of the Medo-Persian empire. The annotators upon Herodotus and Xenophon may balance the credibility of their records, both avowedly eclectic groups of traditions, and each written several generations after the events. Cyrus, however, left Babylon to the share of his uncle Darius (Cyaxares II.) while he pursued his course of conquest. We get a glimpse of the reorganisation of the empire under 120 satraps, themselves in their turn directed by a council of three, of whom the now aged Daniel was the chief, while there was a purpose in the royal mind to exalt him to yet greater honour. In an Oriental court, where jealousy and intrigue have ever had a stronghold, one of the “children of the captivity of Judah” was not likely to be exempt from envious plottings. His proud and irritated satraps watched with lynx-eyed malice for some ground of charge. The religious creed was of little moment to them; they groaned under the precedency accorded to a foreigner, and he a prisoner of war. The treasury was under his control, and he doubtless had great influence in matters of petition and appeal. Concerning the kingdom, “they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.” Then, but only then, did they seek to accuse him concerning the law of his God. The conduct of Darius fully agrees with the character of Cyaxares as given on the pages of other historians. The decree of the monarch, by which he interdicted all worship except that which should be paid to himself, may seem to men of our generation the act of an imbecile or a madman, but it has to be interpreted in the dimness of an age 600 years before there came a “Light to lighten the Gentiles,” and according to the Medo-Persian ideas of religion. The very usage which fettered the prince who arrogated Divine worship, sprang from the claim of his dynasty to be the earthly vicars or human shrines of Ormuzd. We know the snare which was set, but we know who were taken in their own craftiness. As to Daniel, his fidelity to God had not been shaken by the vicissitudes of sixty-five eventful years since he refused the king’s meat. To a timid hesitating Israelite the way would have been open to a variety of compromises. We know the rest--the raging crowd of his enemies pressing in upon him as he prayed the hasty charge--the discomfiture of the prince taken in his own trap--the triumph offaith in the den of beasts, and the troubled conscience in the palace--the perfect deliverance--the swift retribution--the new decree in the royal name, giving the glory to the God of Daniel. And when we behold the completion of the cycle of Divine interposition, we catch the murmur of the unbelieving throng, “Why was this waste” of miraculous power! We will content ourselves with the Regius Professor’s answer:--“‘Objectless’ they can only seem to those to whom all revelation of God seems to be objectless. I would that they who make the objection could say, what miracle they believed as having an adequate object. Unless they believed that some miracles are not ‘objectless,’ it is mere hypocrisy to object to any particular miracle as ‘objectless.’ For they allege as a special ground against certain miracles, what they hold to be a ground against all miracles; and act the believer in miracles in the abstract, in order to enforce the disbelief in specific miracles. It was a grand theatre. On the one side was the world monarchy, irresistible, conquering, as the heathen thought, the God of the vanquished. On the other, a handful of the worshippers of the one only God, captives, scattered, with no visible centre or unity, without organisation or power to resist, save their indomitable faith, inwardly upheld by God, outwardly strengthened by the very calamities which almost ended their national existence; for they were the fulfilment of His Word in Whom they believed. Thrice, during the seventy years, human power had put itself forth against the faith; twice in edicts which would, if obeyed, have extinguished the true faith on earth; once in direct insult to God. Faith, as we know, ‘quenched the violence of fire,’ ‘stopped the mouths of lions.’ In all these cases the assault was signally rolled back; the faith was triumphant in the face of all the representatives of the power and intelligence of the empire; in all, the truth of the one God was proclaimed by those who had assailed it. Unbelief, while it remains such, must deny all true miracles, and all superhuman prophecy. But if honest, it dare not designate as ‘objectless,’ miracles which decided the cause of truth on such battle-fields.”--Pusey, p. 454. But the year of his trial was also the season wherein Daniel’s soul was strengthened for the test, or blessed for his endurance, by abundant revelations. He had pondered over the prophecies of Jeremiah concerning the length of the captivity, and he found that sixty-eight years out of the appointed three score and ten of their exile had elapsed. Moreover, Cyrus, the conqueror and the coming prince, had been named in a “scripture” which would certainly be received where Jeremiah was held as canonical. And while he was “speaking and praying and confessing” his sin and “the sin of his people” praying for the holy mountain of his God, at the time when, if that holy mountain had still been crowned with the beautiful sanctuary, the evening oblation would have been offered, Gabriel came to him with a message of still greater joy than the return to Sion. The seventy years of captivity were all but ended but seventy prophetic weeks were to count from the edict for the city’s restoration to Messiah the Prince, for to close up the trangression, to seal up the sins, to make atonement for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint a Holy of Holies, i.e. an All Holy One in whom should dwell the fulness of the Godhead bodily. The special purpose of this vision of the seventy weeks to Daniel and his fellow exiles is worthy of attention. To them the deliverance from captivity and the days of Messiah had seemed to coincide in point of time, but now that the first was near at hand they were told that they must wait a long period before the second promise was realised. Weary had seemed to them the three score and ten years during which God has afflicted them in the land of the stranger; but a period far exceeding that, at the ratio of a week for a day, was to elapse before the consummation of the hope of Israel. During that time the political changes and convulsions revealed in the seventh chapter would be in course of accomplishment. But during all these revolutions Israel was to complete its preparation for the coming of its Lord to His Temple. Well would it have been for them if Daniel’s revelation of the time of their national training for Messiah’s Advent had been discerned and followed. The seventy prophetic weeks, or 490 years (understood as such by a key already furnished in God’s revelation to Ezekiel 4:5-6), form the most distinct epoch ever vouchsafed respecting Messiah’s promised Advent. Regarding the Crucifixion as settling the terminus ad quem, the paramount question is respecting the terminus a quo. Dr. Pusey has discussed in an exhaustive style the respective claims of four periods to this place of chronological honour.
1. The first year of Cyrus, B.C. 536.
2. The third year of Darius Hystaspes, B.C. 518, when the hindrance to the rebuilding of the temple interposed by Pseudo Smerdis (the Artaxerxes of Ezra 4:7, etc.) were removed.
3. The commission to Ezra in the seventh year of Artaxerxes Longimanus,B.C., 457.
4. The commission of Nehemiah in the twentieth year of the same king, B.C. 444. The end of the whole period of 490 years, calculated from thesedifferent epochs, would bring us to the years B.C. 461, B.C. 281, A.D. 33, and A.D. 46 respectively. Looking back, from the knowledge we possess of the fulfilment in our redemption we naturally regard the third epoch with the deepest interest. The second and the fourth epochs were those of decrees which merely confirmed others immediately preceding them, and consequently sink into a secondary position. The interest is apportioned between the first and the third dates. The decree of Cyrus was for the building of the temple, and its fulfilment, described in Ezra 1:1-11; Ezra 2:1-70, is confined to preparation for rebuilding the sanctuary. And the decree of Darius Hystaspes (Ezra 7:1-28), based upon Cyrus’s roll discovered in the Median palace, is limited to the same object. Daniel’s weeks, however, were to be reckoned from “the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem,” which was precisely the task committed to Nehemiah by Artaxerxes. That the city, as distinguished from the temple, had yet to be “restored” and rebuilt is evident from the graphic account of Nehemiah’s night ride round the broken walls of the city, its gateway still destitute of gates and their walls yet black from the Chaldaean burning, and the way of the king’s pool impassable for his beast by reason of the rubbish from the breach. Nehemiah’s commission, therefore, satisfies all the requirements of the prophecy, and comes nearest to the measure of 490 years from the crucifixion. Again, the whole prophetic period is divided into three sections, seven weeks, three score and two weeks, and “after three score and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off,” implies a residue of one week to make up the total already given, in the course of which Messiah’s excision should take place. This is confirmed by the prediction immediately following, “And he shall confirm the 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, even until the consummation and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” The first period of seven weeks or forty-nine years was to be spent in building the street and the wall, even in troublous times, with which chronological data found in the book of Nehemiah would substantially agree. The second and longest section was the interval from the completion of the city until the covenant should be “confirmed” in the ministry of Christ. Then one week of seven years, in the midst of which he should be “cut off.” Starting from B.C. 457, the first section would bring us to B.C. 408, the second to A.D. 26, and the midst of the last week would exactly coincide with the beginning of A.D. 80, the year of all years in which one was “cut off, but not for Himself,” “to finish the transgression, 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.” Keil, however, has followed the eschatological interpretation, the germs of which are found in Hippolytus and Apollinaris of Laodicea. He thus regards the seven weeks as defining the interval before the death of Christ, the sixty-two as pointing to the period from the time when redemption was accomplished until the eve of the end, and the last week as indicating the short but severe conflict with Antichrist. But no man having tasted old wine desireth new, for he saith the “old is better.” As to the Rationalist attempt to make the seventy weeks terminate with Antiochus Epiphanes, it may fairly be asked whether, if the conditions of the prophecy being the same, and the shorter period had been pleaded for in the interests of orthodoxy, they themselves would not have been found among the foremost opponents of such a computation? But not yet has “the offence of the cross ceased.” Daniel’s prophecy has its fulfilment in the events of redemption, and from the prophet’s pen as from Apostle’s lips we learn of a “reconciliation” made for iniquity by One who was “cut off not for Himself.” Our opponents urge that this passage relates to the murder of the high priest Onias about 170 B.C., accompanied by the slaughter of 4,000 Jews, and the pillage of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes, which was followed some three years (the Rationalistic half week) afterwards by the defilement of the sanctuary, the inauguration of the worship of Jupiter Olympius in the house of God, and the abolition of the daily sacrifice. But the cutting off of the Lord’s anointed was to be followed by the destruction and not the temporary profanation of the temple. Then the chronology needs a great deal of manipulation to make the end of the weeks coincide with the Maccabean age. Its terminus a quo has been fixed not at the date of any royal decree for the return, but at the period of Jeremiah’s prophecy (Jeremiah 25:1-38.), i.e. 605 B.C. Very like the old maxim of robbing Peter to pay Paul is this unusual tribute of honour to the era of Jeremiah’s prediction. Even then, however, there are difficulties remaining to be settled. From B.C. 605 to 170 there are 435 years, just equal to the three score and two weeks which are mentioned in the text of Daniel, as the largest and middle factor of the divided seventy. The last division of one week is manifestly distinct from the rest, as the time of the fulfilment. The former seven, however, have yet to be accounted for. They are not contemporaneous with the earlier portion of the sixty-two; but they were to precede the sixty-two, as the sixty-two were to precede the one in which Messiah should be cut off. To meet this difficulty it has been proposed to consider the seven weeks as belonging to the period before the decree of Cyrus, i.e. from 588 or 586 to 536, during which time the city and temple were desolate, then the 62 weeks from the return from captivity until 175. But 62 and 7 subtracted from 588 would point to B.C. 105, which is too late for the Maccabean theory. The erudite Ewald, however, has a plan to meet the case. Inasmuch as this period was a time of oppression, and the sabbatic idea among the Jews was always associated with joy, he deducts the sabbatic years from the series, and so brings it to the desired haven of B.C. 175. When with him the Messiah was cut off in the person, not of the priestly Onias, but the heathen Seleucus Philopator, who died just as he invaded Judea. Thus the voice of a faithless school of criticism is but the echo of the cry of the unbelieving Passover mob, “Not this man but Barabbas,” and a robber is preferred to Christ. Well does Godet ask at the close of his enumeration of these theories, “What shall we say to these exegetical monstrosities?” Once more the “man greatly beloved” was filled with trouble on account of the “abundance of the revelations” given to him. For three full weeks he went mourning, eating neither flesh nor pleasant bread, drinking no wine, neither anointing himself as he was accustomed to do. While residing on the banks of the Hiddekel (Tigris) in the third year of Cyrus, he saw a vision--nearer resembling that vouchsafed to St. John in Patmos than any other granted to the Old Covenant seers. There is the same glorious appearance of a human form with countenance of transcendent brightness, wearing a priestly robe, girded with a royal belt of gold, having eyes as lamps of fire, arms and feet like to polished brass, and His voice like the voice of a multitude. Like the disciple in the Apocalypse the prophet sank faint and dumb, but, as there, the Angel of the Covenant touched him with His life-imparting touch. The vision was concerning what should befall his people in the latter days. The exact number and succession of the kings of Persia was revealed. The riches and pride of Xerxes were pointed out. His attack of “the realms of Graecia,” then for the first and only time to form a “realm” under one “mighty king.” The breaking of Alexander’s power and the scattering of his dominion to the four winds of heaven are all depicted with minutest accuracy in the vision on the Hiddekel. Then was disclosed the strife between the Egyptian kings of the south and their northern rivals the Seleucid kings of Syria. The marriage and divorce of an Egyptian princess by Antiochus Theos, and the avenging of her wrongs by her brother Ptolemy Euergetes are likewise foretold. But the vision is a “burden” of Israel, as it culminates in the description of a “vile person.” Antiochus Epiphanes appeared in the prophet’s view again as the oppressor of his people, the persecutor of the Church, and the defiler of the sanctuary. He saw the strength and exploits of the Maccabean patriots, and he beheld the final defeat and ruin of the man whose name is still a sign of execration to all the house of Israel. The vision continued to unfold the strange events of the future. The time of the sanctuary’s desolation was sworn by the angel to be limited to “a time, times, and a half,” and the mystic 1,260 days had added to them another short period of seventy-five days as the time from the beginning of the persecution until the peaceful enjoyment of religious privileges again under a complete toleration. The blessedness of those who should wait and come to that time of peace was made known to the prophet. But, like another Moses, he only saw what he was not to enter. Though his life lasted through the whole period of the Captivity, and probably the decree of Cyrus for rebuilding of the temple was drawn up under his influence, Daniel never returned to the land of his birth, and which was still known to him in his later days as the “pleasant” or the “beautiful land.” He was bidden to go on in his way, so various and yet so Divinely prepared, until the end, when his long life of toil for foreign prince or for most loved Israel should cease, and if he lost the ancestral inheritance in Zion, his promised “lot” was one in the rest of the people of God. In this book we learn how all history has its consecration in contact with the kingdom of God. (London Quarterly Review.)
DANIEL AN EXAMPLE TO YOUNG MEN:--You have been indulging many a fond and anxious dream of success, honour, and greatness in the world. You would like to do something good and noble for yourself, for the race. You are often absorbed with thinking over plans, movements, and methods of operation by which to conciliate the favour of fortune, to reach distinguished positions in life, and to leave behind you some good record when your race is run. If it is not so, I would not give much for your prospects. And as you think; all the warmth and zeal of your young nature kindles at what you propose to accomplish and make of yourself. I find no fault with this. It is all right enough, and what becomes youthful years. I would have you think with all seriousness, make up your plan of life with the deepest fixedness of purpose, and then pursue it unswervingly through thick and thin, never faltering and never surrendering. Your life will come to nothing without this. True and great men, and great and honourable successes never come by accident. And one all conditioning thing in a successful life is deep-rooted and inflexible devotion to correct religious principle. This made the Daniels, the Pauls, the Luthers, and the Washingtons of history. He who leaves out of his plans and purposes an honest and devout regard for his soul, his God, and eternal judgment, leaves out the very seed grain from which all true greatness and all real success grow. With tremendous urgency, and for ever, rings out that unsolved question of the Master of all wisdom: “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Better fail a thousand times, and fail in everything else, than attempt to shape for yourself a life without God, without hope in Christ, and without an interest in heaven. No one can afford such an experiment. It will unmake you if you try it. It will turn your life into nothingness and your being into an ever greatening curse. (Joseph A. Seiss, D.D.)
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18