« AnteriorContinua »
the history of this empire we are to trace the signs of the coming of the Son of Man, and of the erection of his glorious monarchy.
The first notice of the Roman power we find in the thirtieth verse of the eleventh chapter, and it will immediately remind us of the last parable of Balaam, respecting the foe to come from Chittim.
The prophecy had been pointing out the ravages committed by Antiochus Epiphanes, the Grecian king of Syria, the most injurious enemy which the Jews had found among the successors of Alexander, who had taken their city and defiled their temple. The prophecy describes him as going on a second expedition against the Ptolemies, the Grecian kings of Egypt, where he is checked in his career by a mandate from Rome :
29. “ At the time appointed, he shall come towards the south; but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter :"
Two recent expeditions against that country, in which Antiochus had succeeded :
" For the ships of Chittim shall come against him;' therefore shall he be grieved and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.”
“ The ships of Chittim,” says Bishop Newton, the ships that brought the Roman ambassadors who came from Italy, touched at Greece, and arrived in Egypt, being sent by the senate, at the supplication of the Ptolemies, to command a peace between the contending kings.” “St. Jerome says on the occasion, when the two
brothers, Ptolemies, the sons of Cleopatra, were besieged by their uncle in Alexandria, the Roman ambassadors came; one of whom, Marcus Popilius Lænas, when he found him standing on the shore, and had delivered to him the decree of the senate, by which he was commanded to depart from the friends of the Roman people, and to be content with his own empire; and he would have deferred the matter to consult his friends : Popilius is said to have made a circle in the sand with the stick that he held in his hand, and to have circumscribed the king, and to have said, The senate and people of Rome order, that in that place you answer what is your intention. With these words being frighted, he said, If this pleases the senate and people of Rome, we must depart; and so presently drew off his army. The reason of the Romans acting in this imperious manner, and of Antiochus so readily obeying, was, as Polybius suggests, the total conquests that Æmilius, the Roman consul, had just made of the kingdom of Macedonia. It was, without doubt, a great mortification to Antiochus to be so humbled, and so disappointed of his expected prey : therefore he grieved and returned. He led back his forces into Syria, as Polybius says, grieved and groaning, but thinking it expedient to yield to the times for the present, and had indignation against the holy covenant ; for he vented all his anger upon the Jews; he detached Apollonius with an army of twenty-two thousand men, * who, coming to Jerusalem, slew great multitudes, plundered the city, set fire to it in several places, and pulled down the houses and walls round about it. Then they builded, on an eminence in the city of David, a strong fortress, which might command the temple; and issuing from thence, they fell on those that came to worship, and shed innocent blood on every side of the sanctuary, and defiled it; so that the temple was deserted, and the whole service omitted; the city was forsaken of its natives, and became an habitation of strangers. So he did ; and after his return to Antioch, he published a decree, which obliged all persons, upon pain of death, to conform to the religion of the Greeks; and so the Jewish law was abrogated, the heathen worship was set up in its stead, and the temple itself was consecrated to Jupiter Olympius. In the transacting and ordering of these matters, he had intelligence with them that forsook the holy covenant — Menelaus and the other apostate Jews of his party, who were the king's chief instigators against their religion and their country.'
* B. C. 169.
“ And arms shall stand on his part," — or, “ and arms,” (not weapons, but a man's arms,) — " and arms after him,"— or, “ beyond him, shall stand up,”—or, “ be raised.” !
That is, to carry on the work of profaning the temple of God, which Antiochus had so daringly begun: “ and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice; and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate." • All things duly considered,” says Bishop Newton, “no interpretation of this passage appears so rational and convincing as that proposed by Sir Isaac Newton :- In the same year that Antiochus, by command of the Romans, retired out of
!“ Mighty powers shall stand up froin these," namely from the descendants of Chittim, mentioned
in the preceding verse. One MS. reads, O'D'VT, ' arms of the west."" _WINTLE.
Egypt, and set up the worship of the Greeks in Judea, the Romans conquered the kingdom of Macedon, the fundamental kingdom of the empire of the Greeks, and reduced it into a Roman province, and thereby began to put an end to the reign of Daniel's third beast. This is thus expressed by Daniel: And after him, arms, that is, the Romans, shall stand
ир. . • Arms' are every where in the prophecy of Daniel put for the military power of a kingdom, and they 'stand up' when they conquer and grow powerful. Hitherto Daniel described the actions of the kings of the north and south; but upon the conquest of Macedon by the Romans, he left off describing the actions of the Greeks, and began to describe those of the Romans in Greece. They conquered Macedon, Illyricum, and Epirus, in the year 168. Thirty-five years after, by the last will and testament of Attalus, the last king of Pergamus, they inherited that rich and flourishing kingdom, that is, all Asia westward of Mount Taurus. Sixtynine years after, they conquered the kingdom of Syria, and reduced it into a province; and thirty-four years after they did the like to Egypt. By all these steps, the Roman arms stood up over the Greeks; and after ninetyfive years more, by making war upon the Jews, they polluted the sanctuary of strength, und took away the daily sacrifice, and then placed the abomination of desolation; for this abomination was placed after the days of Christ, Matt. xxiv. 15, in the sixteenth year of the emperor Adrian, A. D. 132. * They placed this abomination by building a temple to Jupiter Capitolinus where the temple of God had stood. Thereupon, the Jews, under the conduct of Barchochab, rose up in arms against the Romans; and in the war had 50 cities abolished, 985 of their best towns destroyed, and 580,000 men slain by the sword : and in the end of the war were banished Judea upon pain of death, and henceforward the land remained desolate of its old inhabitants.”—“ In support of this interpretation,” continues the bishop, “ it may be added, that the Jews themselves, as Jerome informs us, 'understood this passage not of Antiochus, but of the Romans; of whom it was said above, that ships of Chittim shall come, and he shall be grieved. After some time, says the prophet, out of the Romans themselves who came to assist Ptolemy, and menaced Antiochus, there shall arise the Emperor Vespasian— there shall arise his arms or seed, his son Titus, with an arıny; and they shall pollute the sanctuary, and take away the daily sacrifice, and deliver the temple to eternal desolation.'
* Or rather, perhaps, A. D. 70 ;-the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by Titus.
Thus, I conceive, this difficult passage has been very satisfactorily cleared up; and we see where the transition is made, from the contests of the neighbouring kingdoms of Syria and Egypt, to the exploits of that great and terrible dominion, which is only to perish entirely at the day of Christ's appearing and kingdom. Our Saviour himself, we are to recollect, as pointed out by Sir Isaac Newton, has assigned “ the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet,” to a period after his death. The desolation by the Romans must, therefore, be intended; and we may with confidence take up here the thread of the prophetic narrative :
32. “ And such as do wickedly against the covenant," or, “ who condemn,” or, "reject the covenant, shall he corrupt,"