4. I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great.
4. Vidi arietem ferientem Occasum et Aquilonem, Septentrionem et Meridiem: et nullae bestiae consistebant coram ipso, et nemo eripiens e manu ejus, itaque fecit secundum arbitrium suum, et magnificatus est.
The Prophet, now shortly sketches the great success which should attend this double kingdom. He says, The ram struck all the nations towards the west, and north, and south. The Persian and Median territory lay to the east of Babylon and Egypt, Syria, Asia Minor, and Greece. This, without doubt, is extended to all the successors of Cyrus, who are recorded as having convulsed the whole world. Cyrus himself was shortly afterwards cruelly and basely slain, according to many historians, although Xenophon affirms that he died in his bed. But I have before warned you not to put your trust in that writer, although most excellent, since, under the image of that king, he wished to set before us an example of perfect manliness; and hence he brings him forward as discoursing on his deathbed, and exhorting his sons to kingly virtues. Whichever is the true account, Cyrus was clearly overtaken in the midst of his career. In this way God wished to chastise his insatiable cupidity, a vice in which he resembled Alexander. As to his successors, they excited such commotion in the whole world as to stir up heaven and earth. Xerxes alone said he could bind the sea with fetters! and we know the greatness of the army which he commanded; and this passage treats not only of one king, but of all those of Persia. As they obtained a dominion so far and wide, their ambition and pride always inflamed them, and there was no end to their warfare till they had subdued the distant boundaries of the world. We are acquainted too with their numerous attempts to destroy the liberty of Greece. All this the Prophet embraces in but few words. God also wished to give his Prophet a short glance into futurity, as far as such knowledge could be useful. I saw, then, says he, a ram, namely, a beast which possessed a double horn, representing the Medes and Persians united in the same sovereignty.
He struck the west, and the north, and the south, so that no beasts could stand before him. As the Persian kingdom is here depicted under the, image of a ram, all kings and people are called |beasts.| Thus, no beast stood before him, and no one could deliver out of his hand It is well known, indeed, how Xerxes and others failed in their attacks, and how many wars the Monarchs of Persia attempted in which they were conquered by the Greeks; but still their conquerors were in no better condition, as they were compelled to seek peace like suppliants. So great became the power of the Persians, that they inspired all nations with fear. For this reason the Prophet says, he did according to his pleasure, not implying the complete success of these Monarchs according to their utmost wishes, for their desires were often frustrated, as we have already narrated on the testimony of historical evidence. Still they were always formidable, not only to their neighbors who submitted to their yoke, but to the most distant nations, as they crossed the sea and descended from Asia upon Greece. In the last word, he expresses this fact, -- the ram became mighty. For the Persian king became the greatest of all Monarchs in the world, and it is sufficiently notorious that no one could add to his dignity and strength. It follows: --